Thursday, August 26, 2010

Missing Chimneys

My faithful reader Karen Anne always makes good observations and asks interesting questions.  In the comments to my last post, she asked "I was looking at the 1906 photo - what happened to the chimneys? Were there fireplaces, no longer existent?"

In the 1906 photo to the right of the posts, you can clearly see three chimneys, rather ornate ones at that, sticking up out of the roof.  The chimneys appear to be missing in the 2006 and 2009 photos; in fact, one chimney is still there but the other two are indeed gone.  The remaining chimney is the one to the left in the 1906 photo.  It's been chopped off to a short stub of its former stately self and isn't visible from the front of the house.  That chimney is connected to the (formerly) coal-burning fireplace in the front parlor and is now the central vent for the HVAC system in the house, a not particularly efficient arrangement.  (The local HVAC guy told me that because the chimney is fairly large in diameter it takes a long time to "draw" and uses a lot of natural gas in order to get the house up to an even temperature.  I'd say he's right, based on an average monthly cost of $275 to comfortably heat my house in the winter.)  The chimney to the right in the 1906 photo was no doubt connected at one time to the other fireplace in the house, which is in the second parlor.  It was also a coal-burning fireplace.  Incidentally, the second parlor is the room "behind" the screened-in porch in the most current photo of the house.  The third chimney, which you can barely see in the 1906 photo, is behind the chimney to the right.  Whatever it was once connected to is now gone.  I suspect it was once the chimney for the kitchen range.  I'm not really sure where the kitchen was originally located, but there is the "ghost" of a stovepipe hole in my bedroom wall, so perhaps that was once the kitchen. 

Mare, the King of Wishful Thinking, once chirped, "Ya know, it'd be pretty easy to rebuild those three chimneys."  I don't know about all that.  Having someone rebuild chimneys that are only ornamental is fairly far down on the to-do list, but I never say never.  After all, I'm the girl who spent hours gluing interior doors back together.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Old Homes Tour 2015?

If y'all make it down to Lexington's Old Homes Tour this year, I'll be volunteering at the Krum-Timmer House on Highland Avenue.  I'm looking forward to it because it's one of those houses that I've always wanted to peek inside.  I'll be there all afternoon on Sunday.  Incidentally, the house is for sale and you can get a teeny peek inside too by looking at the realtor's listing here.  The write-up for the Krum-Timmer House on the Lexington tourism website says that the current owner bought the house sight unseen from an internet real estate listing.  That's the third time in recent years that I've heard of that happening in my hometown. 

While I was talking to the Tourism Director on the phone, he asked me how things are going at my house.  I filled him in briefly on my current and future projects and he said, "Old Homes Tour 2015, maybe?"  I said, "You bet!"  That got me thinking....can I really finish my house, inside and out, by September of 2015??

The exterior's all but done, at least for now.  I need to paint two windows on the east side of the house and put a second coat of paint on the porch windows.  (Previously un-noticed until the Sgt. Major and I were sitting out there Tuesday afternoon and I noticed the black window trim looked a bit streaky.)  After that I need to go around with a critical eye and see what else I might have missed painting.  The picket fence needs staining and White Trash Bob says we should spray the stain so it's not such a time-consuming job.  Come spring, I'll start some landscaping, which will evolve and never really be finished.  That's one project I'm happy to work on for years and years.  And with that, the exterior's complete.  Unless I win the Powerball, in which case I'll buy reproduction iron roof cresting, rebuild the porch roof to mimic what it looked like originally, replace the porch posts with architectural salvage, and put imbricated shingles back on the bay roofs.  Yeah, don't count on any of that.

The interior is a horse of a different color.  A color closely resembling disaster.  There are small projects:  finish painting the second parlor, hang the last little piece of backsplash in the kitchen (which I bought two years ago and have never cut), find the perfect chandelier for the dining room, and replace the front storm door.  There are medium projects:  finish the wallpaper (half done) in the dining room, remove the painted-over wallpaper from the entryway and front parlor, put up picture rail in the front parlor, and paint and/or paper the entryway and front parlor. 

And then there are three big projects:  refinishing the floors in the whole house, renovating the bathrooms, and doing something about the back bedroom.  The floor refinishing someone else will do, but it will be a big project in terms of money.  The bathroom renovation will be a gigantic project that will cause a cascade of small and medium projects and no doubt cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  It's not just fixing up the bathroom, you know—it's first deciding what to do about that tiny little hallway bathroom, then gutting the existing bathroom and replacing flooring and putting up beadboard and laying tile and installing all new fixtures and tearing out that old shower which means the porch floor and ceiling will have to be re-done and the back door can finally be moved.  The back bedroom, which I have scarcely previously mentioned here because it's horrific and I pretend it doesn't exist, has a floor of scraps of plywood that don't quite fit together, 1970s-era icky paneling over the original plaster walls (which I suspect are not intact) and a dropped ceiling with acoustic tiles.  Thinking about that room gives me fits.

I just re-read those last two paragraphs.  Lordy be, I think I'd better get started...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Old Homes Tour

It's almost time for the Old Homes Tour!  This is one of my favorite weekends of the whole year, when a few of the beautiful old houses in Lexington open their doors to tours and we can all walk through to ooh and ahh over them.  This year the tour is Saturday, September 18th and Sunday, September 19th.  For the low price of a $12 ticket ($14 the day of the tour) you get to see five homes, the Catholic church, and the Anderson House at the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site.  For "official" tour information, to order tickets online, and to see photos of the houses, please click here.  If that link doesn't work, please go to and click on the Old Homes Tour button on the right side of the page.

For my un-official but enthusiastic gushing over the Old Homes Tour, keep reading...

You know why I look forward to the homes tour every year?  I'll tell you, straight out:  because it's fun to go and look at other people's stuff.  George Carlin was right.  Everybody's got stuff and it's fun to compare your stuff to their stuff, get new ideas for what you can do with your stuff, and gawk at the really nice stuff other people have.  There.  I admitted it. 

The folks who pick the houses for the Old Homes Tour do a great job.  If I was on that committee, I'd be saying, "This one.  And that one.  And those two over there.  And this whole block," and pretty soon there'd be 47 houses on the tour and you'd get to spend like 30 seconds inside each one so that the whole tour could still be done in a reasonable amount of time.  (Incidentally, the tour takes about two hours and you can either ride the bus or drive the tour yourselves.)  This year the Tour Committee picked two Greek Revivals, a log cabin from the 1830s, a Neoclassical, and an English cottage-style house from the 1920s.  I'm really excited about seeing all five of them. 

And then there are the two "bonus stops":  the Anderson House and Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.  The Anderson House is part of the Battle of Lexington State Historic Site and was used as a field hospital during the Civil War by both the Union and Confederate armies.  It's likely that my great-great-grandfather, a Confederate soldier wounded during the 1861 battle, received medical care at the Anderson House.  Immaculate Conception Catholic Church was built about 1897 and was restored in 2009.  The interior is jaw-droppingly beautiful, especially when you understand that the colors and decorations were all chosen to honor the Virgin Mary. 

Five houses, a historic site, and a church, all for 12 bucks.  It's a great deal.  So buy a ticket and come visit my little hometown.  Look me up—I'll probably be at one of the tour houses as a guide.  We'll talk about stuff.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chalkboard Fridge

It's too hot outside to do any I did some indoors and turned my fridge into a chalkboard.

There are instructions for how to do this all over the web, but my favorite ones are here because of her idea about the food diary and the cute drawings she and her boyfriend made on the fridge.  I pretty much followed those instructions, except that I let my paint cure for a whole week before I "seasoned" it by rubbing a piece of chalk all over the door.  Also, I confess that I did not prime first, which I may live to regret.  I did put four coats of paint on the fridge, though.  And about that paint:  Lowe's didn't have the chalkboard green color that I really wanted, but the girl at the paint counter told me that Valspar Signature Colors in flat finish are the same thing as chalkboard paint.  Who knew?  I got Frasier Fir, which I think is pretty close to chalkboard green. 

So, I don't have a food diary or cute drawings on my chalkboard fridge (yet) but I did scrawl one of my favorite quotes on it.  Mark Twain wrote, "Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover."

Friday, August 6, 2010


I had almost forgotten just how bad the back of the house looked until Jan's comment on my last post that we've come a long way in a short amount of time.  This photo was taken in September of '09 before the shed was torn down, but the house looked pretty much the same up until this spring and early summer when I tore off the rest of the shingles and painted.  Ick. 

Here's the funny thing:  Next fall I'll probably post the photos of the picket fence and back yard as it looks now, with the unpainted fence, the cluttered patio, and the bare yard—the same photos I'm so proud of now—and say "ick" about those too. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Terrible Bad Week, Part 2

So last week goes down as one of the worst weeks I've had lately.  But it wasn't all bad.  Here's the better half of last week...

On the way home from St. Louis, I stopped by Apple Wagon Antiques.  (155 mile marker on I70, at Williamsburg, Mo.)  I hadn't been there in several years and WOW.  This place is incredible.  And huge.  An antique mall, a Fiesta ware outlet, and a home and garden decor store all rolled up in one ginormous building.  I scored these tumblers that match a set of glasses my grandmother owned.  Yay!
And while I was at the vet with Louis, I ran into a guy who refinishes floors.  Wait, that's not giving him nearly enough credit.  Burkhart Floors is known around here as the best in the business.  I'm hoping they can work miracles on the glue-encrusted and water-damaged floors in my house.  Joe gave me his cell phone number and said he'd be glad to come over and give me an estimate.  He looked at me kinda funny when I asked him if his CPR certification was current.  "You know, in case I have a heart attack once I find out how much it'll cost," I said.  He laughed.  I'm serious.  I've just about decided that I want nice floors before I want nice bathrooms...but it's summer now and I'm not freezing while taking a shower.  In the dead of winter I may decide again that remodeling the bathrooms (and moving the back door) is a higher priority.

Saturday night I decompressed from the week with friends and family at the pub. 
That's my son Dylan in the gray shirt with the "Are you kidding me?!" look on his face.  I have no idea what the person next to him said, but that expression cracks me up.  That's me in the gray tank-top next to Dylan.  Yeah, girl clothes and makeup and everything.  I'm talking to Amy, my "bestest bestie" since we were kids.  The guy next to her is our friend John, who makes brief appearances here in the blog from time to time.  It was Alumni Work Weekend at Wentworth Military Academy and almost everyone at the table is an Old Boy.  (Even if some of us are girls.) 

And saving the best for last...

The fence is finished!  Doesn't it look grand?  I can brag on it because I had almost nothing to do with the building of it.  This is a WTB Construction project.  I think it looks marvelous.
We used treated lumber rather than red cedar because that's what Home Depot had in stock.  I think it looks just as nice.  I still haven't decided if I'll leave it to weather or not.  If I don't, I'll most definitely take the advice of Jan at Gear Acres and stain it with opaque stain, which she says lasts longer than paint and looks just as nice.  It comes in many different colors and I'm leaning towards a cream that's similar to the house trim.  Staining the fence (if I decide to) is most assuredly a project for cooler weather.  But now, a big round of applause for White Trash Bob and his awesome fence-building skills!

The Terrible Bad Week, Part I

I feel just like Charlie Brown when he says, "Augggghhhh!"  As if I didn't have enough stress and aggravation last week, the laptop and the internet refused to talk to each other all day Saturday and Sunday.  Good grief!  It's finally a brand-new week, and hopefully the karma is better now than it was then.

But before I put last week completely out of my mind, I have to give y'all a little recap of it.  (Parts of it, anyway, the worst of it doesn't bear repeating.)

Last Saturday a kid I consider my daughter called me with a semi-emergency:  "Mommy, the people who said they'd move me to college backed out.  Can you help me?"  Sure, honey.  I got home from work at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning, took a 3-hour nap, and then drove to St. Louis to move Ash to college, where almost every possible thing that could go wrong did.  I claim exhaustion as the reason it didn't occur to me until somewhere around Columbia on the way home that NV lives in the St. Louis area and that I'd missed a chance to turn a bloggy friend into a real-life friend.  (Aside to NV:  I'll apparently be in Florissant on a somewhat regular basis until May and girl, we have got to get together!)

When I got home Monday Louis Cat had a little bump on his chin the size of a pea.  By Wednesday it was the size of a grape.  Thursday I woke up and found blood spattered all over my bedspread and trailing from the bedroom floor through the kitchen and onto the back porch.  The bump had burst.  After a hasty trip to the vet, we learned that the bump was a spider bite that abcessed.  Poor little Louis.  I felt so sorry for him that I made him a pallet in the Hoosier.  Just temporarily.  He shouldn't get used to it.  And by the way, this crazy cat actually likes bubble-gum-flavored Amoxicillin. 

And speaking of cats....

This poor, alien-eyed, skinny little thing had been hanging around the firehouse for a week, crawling in and out of bunker gear and standing at the back door meowing pitifully to be let in.  I couldn't take it anymore and brought the little bag of skin and bones home with me Saturday morning.  We carefully taped her up inside a cardboard box and stuck her in the cargo space of my Soul, where we thought she'd safely ride for the 35-minute trip home.  We were mistaken.  Three miles down the interstate, she clawed her way out of the box and stood yowling on a back seat headrest.  Uh-oh.  This did not bode well.  I was about to pull over onto an exit ramp when she leaped from the backseat onto my shoulder and settled in, purring, for the rest of the trip.  My friend John said, "The yowling was her calling co-pilot—you just don't speak Cat."  For now, she's known as Itty Bitty Kitty and lives in my bathroom.  I'm not keeping her.  Really.  I'm not.

Last week wasn't all bad, but since this post is getting rather long I'll stop here and put the better news in a Part II post right away.