Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Continuing with the mice theme....

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Behold the icky little mice frolicking in my front windows!
Templates available here, along with lots of other creepy-cool Halloween ideas from our girl Martha.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Inside Job(s)

Okay, so I bravely announced that The Kelly House projects are moving indoors for the season...and then I left you hanging.  While the outside of my house looks pretty nice now, the inside is a disaster.  An unqualified disaster.  I offer photographic proof.

Glue-encrusted floors.  Under the baby blue wool carpet that was pee-scented and stained, I found a thick rotted foam pad.  And under that, a 1970s-era carpet of gold, avocado green and brown.  Ick.  And it was stapled to the floor.  Under that, I found a pad that had turned to black clay and had to be removed with a putty knife.  And under that, I found...the glue-encrusted floors.  The floors in the entryway, front parlor, and dining room look like this.  Yuck.  I'm thinking this is not a DIY project.  My Christmas bonus at work will go towards getting rid of all this yuck.

Pee-pee carpet.  In the second parlor (which used to be my bedroom) the baby blue carpet still exists.  It's horrible.  So horrible, in fact, that I can't even show you a photo.  I'm too embarrassed.  Sometime soon, the last of the pee-pee carpet will be removed.  The naive part of me believes that the hardwood floor underneath will be beautiful.  The realist in me knows it will look like the floors in the rest of the house.

Kitchen wallpaper.  Remember way back in March and April when Mare and I rebuilt my front porch and put new countertops in the kitchen?  Yeah, I never finished hanging the kitchen wallpaper. 

Painted-over wallpaper and The Blister.  In the entryway and the front parlor, the walls are covered with this stuff, which I've been slowly removing.  (The carpet was the same color as the walls, by the way.) I would estimate that after a year of working on it, I'm about 50% done with the entryway, which is the smallest room in the house.  Make that very slowly removing.  In the front parlor above the mantel is the badly-patched hole where the stovepipe used to be.  I call it The Blister.  That'll be an interesting fix.

Dining room wallpaper.  This is my favorite room in the house.  I had good intentions of papering this last winter, but I couldn't decide on wallpaper.  Then spring came and...well, you know the rest.  Now I've decided on paper and just need to Do It. 

Yep, it's a disaster all right.  And even in the stretchiest of stretches of imagination, it won't all be done this winter.  Or even next winter.  Heck, I can't even decide what to start on first.  I have to get past this spinning-my-wheels stage and just rev up and start on something.  Anything.  I'll keep y'all posted.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


So the other night when I was over at Reed's house my cell phone rang.  I was scrunched up sideways in his big chair with my head hanging over the side trying to read the title of a book on the floor, so he picked up the phone and handed it to me.

"The display says 'White Trash Bob'," he said.

So I answered it and had a brief conversation with WTB, who'd just come home from 17 hours on the road and was taking a walk around the neighborhood, about how cute those darn cardboard mice in my front windows are.  (I know, I know, I need to post a pic.)

When I got off the phone, Reed asked me, "Who's White Trash Bob?" 

"He's Bob who lives across the street from me in that brick house he calls the Coal Miner's Despair.  You know, the guy who does all the Civil War stuff around here."  And then I made my mistake:  "Everyone I'm close to has a nickname in my phone."  Oops.

"Oh, really?"  Reed asked.  "So who am I?"

I tried to right myself and grab the phone back from the ottoman where I'd tossed it.  Reed was quicker.  "I just called you right before he did, so if I look in your phone log...Let's see...Reed Richards?"  He grinned.  "I'm Reed Richards in your phone?"

I should mention that when I'm embarrassed or nervous my ears get warm and turn bright red.  Seriously, they're like Rudolph's nose.  I had my hair in a ponytail.  My ears did not escape his attention.  "I am Reed Richards in your phone!  You think I'm like the guy who's the leader of the Fantastic Four?  Oh, because he's a scientist and I'm a biologist.  I get it.  But he's a superhero...Oh."  He grinned again.

I think he likes his nickname.  I also think he just might be a keeper.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What I'm Gonna Do

When I told Reed about the back wall of the house and how I was giving up on it for the year, he sighed and said, "Wow...I had a bad day at work, but not that bad."  I guess my frustration with the whole thing came through loud and clear.  He wisely waited until after I'd had a couple beers with my bestie and my son and daughter-in-law before he dared to ask, "So what are you gonna do now?" 

I explained to Reed (and now to y'all) that I had a feeling that the existing back door might not be in the same location it was when the back porch was originally closed in, because the back walkway goes straight up to the wall, and the existing back door is about three feet to the right of that walkway.  But I naively hoped that the previous back door opening, if it existed, would've been patched in neatly like the kitchen window was.  No such luck.  And I think I know now what that piece of wood to the left of the existing back door is.  I think when they moved the back door they cut into the wall and then said, "Oops!"  Realizing they made the cut too low, they just moved the door opening over a couple of inches, cut again, and filled in the gap with a piece of broken lumber.  That's my theory anyway.  But finding all that kinda took the wind out of my sails.  More than that, I'm fed up with the whole shingle-pulling thing at the moment. 

So here's what I'm gonna do:  I am abandoning the back wall of the house until Spring.  Yesterday I filled in all the cracks and nail holes I'd exposed, tossed all those shingles and strips of tar paper into a trash bag, and put my hammer, my scraper and my caulk gun away for the year.  Come Spring, I will take the rest of the shingles off that wall.  Hopefully, after a four- or five-month hiatus from this particular project, I will take in stride whatever other misfortune I might uncover.  Then, I'll take Karen Anne's advice and carefully pry off the clapboards that are patching the old door opening, line them up with the edges of the other clapboards, and nail them back in.  Some of them are only a teeny bit too short, and I'll use some Wood Bond to fill in those gaps.  I still have a few pieces of the 1870s siding that WTB salvaged a few years ago, and I'll use that to replace any clapboards I break or that are way too short for the opening.  If I uncover some other awful thing under the shingles that requires more clapboards than what I have, I'll go salvage some more from the falling-down house out in the country.  I have all winter to figure out who owns it and convince them to let me salvage the siding.  I know I could do all of that now, but I just don't want to.  I have developed a strong loathing for the back wall of the house and I just can't deal with it anymore.

So after I wound down from that long-winded explanation, Reed grinned and said, "I already guessed that...I meant, what's your next project on the house?"  Oh.  Whoops.  I thought for a moment and said, "I am gonna finish taking that stupid painted-over wallpaper off the entryway and the front parlor walls.  I think.  Or maybe I'm gonna put up the new wallpaper in the dining room.  Or both."  You heard it here first.  The Kelly House projects have moved indoors for the winter.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stupidity Should Hurt

Stupidity should hurt.  It should be painful.  If stupidity hurt, fewer people would commit stupid acts.  Take, for example, this, the photographic evidence of the act of stupidity that I uncovered today.

If the person who decided to fill in the old doorway without bothering to line up the edges of the clapboards or cut them in such a way so as not to leave big gaps in the siding of the house suddenly, as he or she was committing this act of stupidity, broke out in boils or a terrible rash or, appropriately, shingles, then perhaps they would've reconsidered doing such a crappy patching job. Or maybe not.

Either way, I do believe I've had just about enough of dealing with the back wall of the house for this year.  I've encountered more things that need to be fixed in this six- or seven-foot span of wall than on the entire rest of the house.  Tomorrow I will fill in the nail holes I opened up today, caulk the heck out of those gaps in the siding, pick up the shingles scattered all over the patio, and be done with the thing until Spring.  Unless I can locate the owner of the falling-down house out in the country that just happens to have lots and lots of intact clapboards still on it...and said owner is willing to let me have those clapboards...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Movie Time!

If you look real close at the last photo of the house, you can tell it was taken before WTB painted the last little bits of trim...but that'll be our little secret.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Going Slowly

I did nothing on the house on my four days off.  Nothing.  But yesterday and today, in between the cold drizzle, I did get a few more shingles torn off the back of the house.  If it looks like it's going slowly, it's because, well, it is going slowly.  I'm filling in the nail holes and the cracks as I go along, since I'm fairly certain that I won't get the entire back wall done before winter.  That wall looks a whole lot bigger now that the shed's gone.  A whole lot bigger.   Whoever put the shingles on also put a fairly large piece of trim snug up against the eaves of the house over the top row of shingles, I guess to make it look (cough, cough) nicer.  I'll have to pry that trim piece off before I can get those shingles off the house.   So I'm waiting on WTB to loan me his WonderBar again. And speaking of trim pieces....I'm not real sure what purpose that piece of wood to the left of the door serves.  You might not be able to see it in the photo, but the clapboards are sawed out around the piece of wood.  Why?  WTB has a one-word theory:  "Stupidity."  No matter, he has a relatively easy fix for it.  I'll just buy some trim wide enough to cover up the stupidity, he'll cut it to length, and I'll put it up around the door frame.  Because of the shingles, the door frame's not flush with the wall anyway, so I think putting up that trim will actually make it look better.  I also need to remove that non-working doorbell from the right side of the doorway.  (There used to be two doorbells there, neither of which worked, but I already took off the other one.)  And while I'm out there removing useless things, I ought to get rid of that railing, too.   Maybe when it's warmer...

And by the way, the glowing eyes in the photo belong to Louis, the littlest of my three cats. 

Moving Midway

During my movie-watching marathon this past weekend, I watched this documentary. Twice. It's that good. From the title, I expected it to be mostly about moving a house. Although on the surface the movie is about that, the deeper story is of the history of the Hinton family and the role that the Southern plantation plays in both fiction and in fact. It's fascinating.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Small Hiatus

I'm taking just a teeny little break, a small hiatus if you will, from house stuff this weekend.  Well, maybe not just house stuff.  Maybe everything.  See, I've been sick for almost a week with a cold.  A cold that will—not—go—away.  And every afternoon I drag my hiney out of bed and go to work because there's no one to cover my shifts, where I cough and sneeze politely into the crook of my elbow just like Kathleen Sebelius says we should and eat chicken noodle soup and wear many layers of clothing and shuffle along in my big fuzzy slippers (yes, at work) because I just—feel—yucky. 

In three hours I'll be off work for four days.  Usually this inspires me to make all kinds of house restoration plans.  This week, not so much...  Especially since a series of events collided in such a way that schlepping between bed and sofa all weekend seems like the best possible way to spend those four days.  Judge for yourselves:

I bought the perfect reversible (pale pink on one side; dark rose on the other) comforter at Target yesterday.

I just discovered that many of the episodes of A&E's "America's Castles" are available to watch instantly on my laptop.

The guy I'm seeing (who I'll call Reed Richards because I am a Marvel Comics freak and, well, it fits him) instantly agreed when I declared that Sunday afternoons shall be Our Day Together with no phones, no responsibilities, and no one else. 

The weather forecast is calling for cold, damp, windy weather all weekend, so I really shouldn't be outside ripping shingles off the house anyway.

WTB told me that the new book he just bought is so good that he read it straight through and is now loaning it to me.

My mom surprised me with a gift of pink flannel sheets.

I mean, really, given all this, stockpiling tissues and chicken broth and staying in my jammies for the next four days seems like the only reasonable thing to do, right?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Better Late Than Never

Milah, bless her heart, reminded me that I never told y'all how the Old Homes Tour went.   Well, it was a smashing success!  We had 750 visitors to our little town on a gorgeous weekend back in September, which was half again as many as we expected to have.  In this economy, it's nice to see that people still spend some of their money on day trips.

My bestie and I took the Tour ourselves on the first day, and despite a few inaccuracies trotted out by our bus guide (this PoliSci/History major was biting her tongue!) about the history of the town, we had a great time.  Gorgeous houses.  We decided our favorite was the McCausland House, where during the Civil War when Lexington was occupied by Union forces, Susan McCausland refused to take down the Confederate flag in her front yard, a stance that landed her husband promptly in jail.  Today the house is owned by Kenny and Bette Maib.  Mr. Maib is the City's codes enforcement officer, who kindly looked the other way when Mare and I first demolished and then rebuilt the front porch without any sort of a permit, and pulled me aside as I walked across his upstairs hallway (barefoot) to say "Your house looks great, hon!" and give me a peck on the cheek.  Mrs. Maib, the day of the tour, held court at the head of her dining room table surrounded by her collection of cranberry glass, antique china, and Capodimonte vases. 

On Sunday I was one of the guides at Carl's house, The Parsonage Bed & Breakfast, across the street from my own house.  WTB showed up in Civil War regalia on his way to the Anderson House State Historic Site and entertained the first group of Carl's guests with a story of the history of Enfield rifles.  After that, it was droves of people solidly until after 4 p.m., when the tour was over.  Folks ask some odd questions.  The most common ones:  No one lives here, right?  (Yes, Carl lives here.)  Where's the washer and dryer?  (I have no idea.) Does he cater in the breakfast for his guests?  (Nope, he makes it himself.) And my personal favorite:  Where does the homeowner sleep?  (Um, I never asked him...) 

The second-best part of the Homes Tour was sitting on Carl's front porch drinking wine and reviewing the day.   And the best part?  When one of the members of the Historic Preservation Commission told me that she's going to write an article about my house for the local paper because she considers it a "preservation success".  I was so pleased and moved that I nearly cried.  Carl and WTB seemed nearly as pleased about it as I am.  I'll be sure to share it with y'all when she writes it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I haven't done one of these in....oh....a really long while.  So here's my list of five things I'm very thankful for, in no particular order.

1.  Awesome neighbors.  Y'all hear about White Trash Bob and his awesomeness pretty frequently.  (The latest awesome thing he did was to pull up that tree growing on the front porch roof and paint the trim while he was up there.)  But I have other awesomely terrific neighbors too:  Floyd and Gwen next door, who loaned me their big sturdy ladder so I could reach the high parts of my house for shingle-ripping and painting; Carl across the street, who tells me every day, "It's lookin' great!" and dispenses glasses of wine as necessary; and people who live in my neighborhood, whose names I don't know yet, who randomly stop by to congratulate me on the appearance of my house.  (Latest awesome comment:  "Your house looks 9,000 times better!")

2.  Cardboard mice. I don't usually decorate my house much for Halloween. Up until this year, I always thought the house looked plenty creepy on its own. But now that the front's all yellow and green and cheerful, I thought it could do with a few decorations. At Martha Stewart's website I found mice templates, which I will cut out and tape to my front windows. I giggle every time I think about it. (Yes, I have a strange sense of humor.) But oh, the irony of having mice cavorting about on the windowsills in a house ruled by three cats. And we won't even mention again the little mouse that fell out of my range hood...and now probably lives at Carl's.

3.  My friend Harriet.  It was Harriet who stopped her car in the middle of the street last fall when the last of the shingles came off to whistle and applaud as if she were cheering a home run at a baseball game.  Now that's a friend.  She stops by once or twice a week to admire the house and show me her latest knitting or crocheting project.  (I really covet those fingerless gloves she crocheted out of yarn made from recycled tires and I'm not-so-secretly hoping she gives me a pair for Christmas.)  Harriet's encouragement kept me going in the heat of the summer last year when I just wanted to give up and lie in a sweaty heap in the grass.

4.  Zion United Church of Christ.  Y'all know it's been a tough year, and one in which I thought I might be losing my faith.  I've gone to a UCC church in my hometown since I was a baby, but recently I've not gotten what I needed from that particular church.  So three weeks ago at the suggestion of my mom, I wandered into Zion in the little town of Mayview.  Mom grew up in Mayview and had attended Zion for years (when it was a German Evangelical Church) before moving to Lexington.  She thought I might find what I need there.  She was right.  The people are welcoming and friendly, but not smothering.  The sermons help me to understand some passages in the Bible better and give me food for thought all week.  Changing churches is not something I take lightly, so I'll give it another three or four months before I decide if I want to change my membership to Zion.  This may be where I'm led.

5.  October baseball.  The division playoffs, followed by the World Series, are the only things that make October and the arrival of colder weather somewhat bearable.  Having the Twins and Tigers wring an extra game out of the regular season was a little gift.    I don't even really care who wins the division championships or even the World Series.  I just hope they take as many games as possible to do it.  A sweep means less fun watching and a sooner end to baseball season.  Because after the end of the World Series, it's a long, gloomy, cold winter without baseball.  I get through it only by counting the days until pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training.  You know that MLB slogan "I live for this"?  Yeah, that's me.  Baseball.  How I love it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It Begins--Again

Y'all just knew this was coming, didn't ya?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Big But

"Everyone I know has a big But."
--Pee-Wee Herman

I want to rip those shingles off the back of the house.  I really, really do.  Right now.

But, my mom says, you'll run out of time before winter.

But, WTB says, then you'll have to fill all those nail holes.

But, my bestie says, you've worked hard all summer and you should take a break.

But, my son says, you really ought to wait until Spring.

But, Mare says, you don't know what you might be getting into.

Sigh....they're right.  I guess.  But...I still want to.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Derelict Property

Check out this derelict property in my neighborhood.  Some people just have no sense of pride.  They just stack used lumber all over the place, have trash bags laying around the yard, and put furniture outdoors.  Just look at those shingles falling off the house, and the paint flaking around that window.  What's the deal with that washtub full of dirt over there?  And that ladder's been leaning up against the back of the house for at least two weeks with no visible progress.  It's terrible.  It just shouldn't be allowed in a historic neighborhood.

Hey, wait a minute....that's my back yard!  Oh well, at least the shed's gone...