Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nesting Dolls

Someone once told me that taking on an old house is like playing with those Russian nesting dolls in that you can see the big doll (project) but inside it is another and another and another....

I already knew this, and yet every time it happens to me I still get frustrated.  This time it's the second parlor (so named because it's the less fancy of my two parlors) that has me kicking things and saying words my mama would not approve of.  I started painting it months ago because, you know, it was only going to take me a few hours...then spring came with the last of the shingle-ripping, then along came summer with the new fence and the house-painting and the two-month vacation from house projects.  Now here I am again.  I had just started in on the painting (again) when I noticed a big bubble in the wall.  Thinking it was badly patched plaster, I tapped it with the handle of the paintbrush.  The bubble popped and revealed itself to be painted-over wallpaper.  I had a sneaking suspicion there might be wallpaper under many coats of paint in this room, but I decided to put yet another couple of coats of paint over it all because the wallpaper was intact.  And, mostly, it is intact.  No more bubbles anywhere in the room but that one wall.  Which now looks like this:

That little bubble which was about the size of a dinner plate led to all that.  If you look to the right of the transom window, you'll see a dark gray horizontal line.  That would be the ghost mark of picture rail which once hung there.  Sigh.  Why oh why do people do stupid things to old houses?  Why would anyone remove picture rail?  I know, I know...some of you are thinking, "why would anyone paint over wallpaper?"  And to that I say, hey, the crime was already committed prior to my ownership of the house, although I am now an accessory to that crime.
The discovery that there used to be picture rail in here changes everything.  I promised the ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Kelly (the folks who built this house) that I would do my damn level best to undo all the stupid stuff that had happened to it since they passed on (but not quite to the other side) way back in 1916 or so.  In keeping with that promise, I really should strip all the painted-over wallpaper off the walls, hang up the picture rail, and then paint or wallpaper.  Or both.  I think painted walls with a wallpaper border above the picture rail would look fantastic.  Mrs. Kelly would approve.  Doing that would mean that the two parlors would look very similar, as I know now that both originally had picture rail. 

What all this means is that this room, which I thought I was almost done with, is in fact very far from being finished.  Sigh.  Nesting dolls, folks, nesting dolls....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Good Neighbors

I steadfastly believe that I have the best neighbors in the whole wide world.  As proof of that, I share with you a conversation I had with my beloved neighbor Floyd:

Floyd:  Hey, did you know that your little dog can just about get out of your new fence?
Me:  Oh no!  Bob and I wondered about that when we put it up.
Floyd:  Right over there at the corner closest to my yard, the pickets must be a little farther apart there.
Me:  Did she get out? 
Floyd:  Everything but her hind legs.  I was walking around in my yard and she ran up to the fence to say hello, so I petted her and scratched her ears a little bit and then went on.  I turned back around and there she was, through the fence except for her hind legs.
Me:  Oh my gosh! 
Floyd:  Yep.  So I went over there and pushed her back through and then said, 'No-no, Libbi.  Stay in your yard.'  I don't think it had much effect.
Me:  Thanks for pushing her back through, Floyd--and for telling me.

I am still laughing at the mental image of Floyd, a very dapper World War II vet, pushing my crazy little dog through the fence into her own yard.  I will be stapling chicken wire to the bottom half of my fence on my next day off.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Some Splainin'

So...I have some splainin' to do.  About where I've been and what I've been doing for the past couple of months instead of spending the summer working on my house and giving you, my lovely readers, updates on the misadventures around the place.

The short of it is:  I met a guy.

The long of it is:  I met a guy who so unexpectedly and thoroughly swept me off my feet that he caused me to abandon the love of my life (the Kelly House) for him, at least temporarily.  I met him one night at the local bar where one of my friends is the bartender and where the three seats at the short end of the bar are known as "The Office" and are always saved for me and my besties.  He was sitting in one of those seats, a tall rangy guy who looks a whole lot like Tommy Lee Jones, and I attempted to oust him.  He declined to move.  After a few minutes of tense negotiation, I surrended the far seat of The Office to him, a compromise never before made in the history of the bar.  We talked for the next four hours.  At closing time I shook his hand and gave him my number.  It's been a joyride ever since.  The Sgt. Major is retired military (Army), a Vietnam vet, and is smart and funny and unapologetically honest.  He is not, however, a handyman.  The overall plan for the Kelly House both amazes and mystifies him.  Therefore, work on it was temporarily suspended.

But now the Sgt. Major must depart (a week from today) for his winter home in Central America and I must get back to work on the house.  The paint's peeling from the east side of the house at an alarming rate and I have to put a stop to that.  Three windows still have white trim instead of black and cream.  I need to borrow White Trash Bob's sprayer and give the new fence a couple of coats of opaque stain.  And if I get all that done with time to spare, the carport needs to be scraped and painted.  Stay tuned.