Friday, January 28, 2011


From the Soul-cam on the trip home last week
I do not like winter, a fact that I may have previously mentioned one or...oh...a thousand times.  I do not like the cold weather or being cooped up in my house for months or the snow-covered streets. I miss baseball season, my front porch, peaches, lightning bugs, going barefoot, and steaks on the outdoor grill.  (Okay, I have to stop the list right there, before I start to cry.)  I do not like the way all those things affect my attitude for the worse.  But what I dislike most of all, I think, is the lack of color in my world during the winter.  Bleah.  Gray skies, white snow, gray highway, black trees.  Bleah.  I know, I know...gray and white and black are colors...but not happy colors.  There's all this gloominess outside and, for now, there's gloominess inside too.  The painted-over wallpaper in the front parlor would make me feel gloomy no matter what color it was painted, but the sickly pale blue is depressing.  And when I scrape it off, there are off-white plaster walls underneath.  Though I admire the skill of the person who plastered those walls, and there is a certain beauty to them, they're still pretty much colorless.  I'm looking forward to seeing that nice new floral wallpaper in the front parlor soon.  It motivates me to keep scraping away at what's on there now, and I think I've finally reached the halfway point in that room with the paper removal.  I might possibly, just maybe, get the new wallpaper up ahead of schedule.  But until then...Bleah.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

I Am Jealous

Tonight, just after I got to work, my phone lit up with a call from White Trash Bob.  Y'all may have noticed his absence from this blog--he's been absent from the recent work on the Kelly House, too.  I try not to borrow him from Mrs. WTB any more than I need to, and the wallpaper removal, at least, I can do by myself.

It's been Snowmageddon II in these parts the past couple of days, so I assumed he was calling to make sure I got to work okay.

Me:  Yes, I made it here without incident.
WTB:  Oh, is the weather bad?
Me:  You're so funny.  Look outside.
WTB:  I am looking outside.  It's sunny and 71 here.  I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Me:  Sometimes I almost dislike you.  I am jealous.  Horribly jealous.

I am jealous because this was the view from my front parlor windows about 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.  I do not like winter.  I do not like snow.  Therefore, I am jealous of WTB's basking in the New Mexico sun.

But then WTB asked me what I've been working on these past few weeks and I told him all about taking the old paper off the foyer walls, and then putting the new paper up in the foyer, and my angst over the front parlor paper, and how I am, I estimate, maybe 40% done with taking the paper off the front parlor walls.

 "And then what?" he asked.
"And then I ask you kindly if you would please come over and help me put up picture rail, and then I put up the new wallpaper.  Two kinds," I said.
"Oho!" WTB said, "Wrong order, my dear.  Put up the two kinds of wallpaper first, and then I'll come over and help you put up picture rail."

This is very good news.  Very good news indeed.  Firstly, it means that I can continue this paper off/paper on roll that I've been on and move straight from tearing off yucky wallpaper to putting up nice new paper.  Secondly, it means that I will have much-needed help with the picture rail.  I am motivated to work extra-hard on the wallpaper removal on my next days off.  But I am still jealous of WTB being in New Mexico.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crazy House Lady

Tuesday night I went out for burgers with a really good friend at Westport Flea Market. (Yes, it really is both a burger joint and a flea market and I highly recommend it.)  Later, as we sat outside my house talking, Doug suddenly asked me this question:

"You got any kids in this neighborhood, about 7 or 8 years old?"

The question threw me.  "I don't think so...." I said.  "Why?"

"Cause I was just thinkin..." Doug laughed.  "I was just thinkin, if you had some kids in your neighborhood, they'd probably call you the Crazy House Lady, and they'd tell their friends about you:  'There's this lady, she lives in that yellow house, and she is crazy.  She's the Crazy House Lady.  She never comes out of her house, she just works on it all the time, and there was this one summer that she spent the whole summer just scraping and scraping on this one 3-foot-wide piece of her house..'"

I laughed too.  "You don't think people already call me the Crazy House Lady?"

"Probably so, " Doug admitted, "but if you had little kids in your neighborhood it'd be a legend.  They'd say stuff like 'She never looked at us or talked to us and one year we had a lemonade stand in the yard across the street and she walked all the way around the block so she didn't have to talk to us.'  Stuff like that.  They'd tell people that they never saw anybody go in or come out of that house, that you just lived there alone and never quit workin on it for the rest of your life.  And then when those little kids grew up they'd drive past here and point out the house to their wives and say, 'That's it!  That's where the Crazy House Lady lived!'  That's how legends get started, I'm tellin you."

I think I'm glad I don't have little kids in my neighborhood...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ahead of Schedule

For once in my life, I'm ahead of schedule.  My goal for this set of days off was to get all the paper stripped off the little (7 ft. wide by 3 ft. deep) alcove in the front parlor.
Done.  A whole day early. 
That blue ceiling, which I thought was papered, is painted plaster and I'll paint over it later.  For now, I'm starting in on the short (4 ft. wide) walls on either side of the alcove.  The rest of the room has not only painted-over wallpaper and border, but border on top of the paint, too.  Grrr.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Parlor Gives Me Fits, Part 2

"Please do not call me before 4 p.m. unless it's very important."  That's what I tell my family and friends.  That's what I wrote in the instruction box when I ordered the wallpaper for the front parlor.

See, I work nights and get home about 8 in the morning.  Then I go to sleep.  For the entire day.  Anyone who's worked night shift knows that sleeping in the daytime is not the same at all as sleeping at night.  We night shift workers have our own set of sleep-related problems.  There's even a medical condition named for us:  Shift Work Sleep Disorder.  Everyone I know who works night shift has SWSD to some extent, including me.

So a phone call at 11 a.m. had better be pretty darn important.  It was.  One of the papers I ordered for the front parlor has already been discontinued.

Instead of this:
I'm getting this:

I actually had a sample of this paper already, because its pattern almost exactly matches the ghost marks of the pattern that was originally on the walls of the foyer.  I very briefly considered this for the foyer, but a whole room of that little teeny pattern (the diamonds are about an inch high) sets my teeth on edge.  No offense to Mrs. Kelly and the papers of her day.  However, I can tolerate a two-foot high swath of it all the way around the top of the room in the front parlor.  I think.
It'll be separated from this:
by a piece of picture rail painted the same cream color (Valspar's Lyndhurst Estate Cream) as the trim in the foyer and the dining room.  When I get a roll of the trellis paper, I'll post a pic of the two papers together to give you a better idea of the scale--on these two pics, the scale of the trellis is too large and the scale of the floral is too small.  They really don't look quite that bad together.  I think.  Or maybe the whole thing will look absolutely hideous.  I can't decide.

The parlor is giving me fits, I tell you.  Already.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Not Resting on My, Um, Laurels

Guess what I started on in the middle of the night?
Y'all know I'm not one to be resting on my laurels (or my hiney) for long.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Papered Little Foyer

The little foyer is all papered.  Ahead of schedule, even.  My goal was to finish papering the foyer on Monday...and even though this post is dated Tuesday, I really did finish the foyer on Monday.  At 11:52 p.m.  A whole eight minutes ahead of schedule.  I hope this sets a precedent for the rest of 2011...but I wouldn't count on that if I were you.  Heck, I'm me and I still don't count on it. 

But anyway, if you were to come to my front door today, this is what you'd see:
(I'd try to remember to pick up that Woodchuck bottle and that boxcutter before I showed you in, though.)  I want you to know that I am so dedicated to providing quality content here that I stood on my front porch, without a coat, at almost one in the morning just to get this photo.  During Snowmageddon, mind you.  (That's what we've dubbed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday here--six inches of snow and still falling.)  I think the next project might be to finish that door you see there.  It's one of the seven that Mare and I glued together last year and I never got around to patching the seam and the holes and painting it.  Since the trim around it is freshly painted, it looks even worse.  If you look closely in the giant gap between the bottom of the door and the floor, you can see Christopher, my giant cat, peering out and wondering what the heck I'm doing with the front door open when it's so cold outside.

And here's what it looks like from the opposite side of the room:
If you bigify this photo, to the right of the door you can see the outlet cover.  No really, it's there.  Look for the white screws, which signify that I'm picky enough to match the wallpaper pattern on the wall and the outlet cover, but not smart enough to buy a black outlet cover so I'd get black screws.  (And there's Christopher again.  I love how his eyes are glowing from the flash.)  You can also see, above the door, where the pattern gets a little wonky because that's where I started and stopped.  I thought way up there might be the best place for that to happen.

Someday after Snowmageddon ends, I'll ask my son to help me get the bench for the foyer from my mom's house.  It'll just fit against the wall in there.  I have a couple of pictures and a mirror to hang in there, too, when I work up the courage to put nail holes in the wallpaper.  An area rug would be nice, so I'll be on the lookout for that.

And now what?  Front parlor, I guess.  Heavy sigh.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Parlor Gives Me Fits

My mama gave me an early birthday present, a picture for my dining room.  She's really good at choosing pictures.  I'd still be standing there in the shop trying to make up my mind.
The dining room and the kitchen are the only two rooms that look like they're part of a house rather than a construction zone or a burglary scene.  Sigh...but I'm gaining on it.  Unless something extraordinary or terrible happens on my days off, I should finish papering the foyer this week.

And then I can start in on the front parlor.  The front parlor gives me fits.  Already.  First off, there's all that painted-over wallpaper to steam off.  Then there's the places in the wall where I think the wallpaper might be the only thing holding the plaster together.  Then there are the four front windows with all those little muntins that will have to be painted.  And the electrical wire poking out of the ceiling.  I still have to pry up about 8 feet of tack strip from around the room.  Someone (i.e., White Trash Bob) will have to help me hang the picture rail.  All the trim needs to be painted. 

And then...and then...after all that's done, I have to hang two kinds of wallpaper.

This is the paper that I like but don't love, which will go from the baseboard to the picture rail:

It's nice paper.  The flowers in it match the flowers on the paper in the foyer, and they pick up the colors in the stained glass windows, and the paper looks nice with the paper in the dining room, and it's not too dark or too light, and it kinda looks like the paper from the 1930s or 1940s that's in there now only painted over, and when I finally buy living room furniture almost anything will go with it.  But I don't love it.  Yet.

And this is the paper I bought for above the picture rail:

This paper I love.  It makes me swoon.  The pattern is really small, about an inch or so, and it reminds me of the paper that's inside an old trunk my grandma had.  It also reminds me a lot of the pattern on the etched glass in my front door, and so I briefly considered using it in the foyer, but I didn't like the idea of yellow house, yellow foyer.  So up high in the front parlor it goes.  The space above the picture rail is only 18 inches high, so I needed a small print there.  Love it.  Did I mention that already?

Between now and the hanging of that paper is a lot of aggravation.  Thinking about it makes my eye twitch.  I estimate five sets of days off (17 days total) and at least that many Woodchucks (both Pear and Granny Smith flavor) before the paper hanging begins.  Egads. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Buyer's Remorse

I don't feel so good.  My stomach feels kinda fluttery and my neck itches like I'm about to break out in hives and my palms are sweaty.  I'm not sick.  I just spent some money.  It's not a horrendous amount of money, it's just that plunking down any amount over about $300 at one time makes me feel all icky.  I buy things piecemeal whenever I can for this very reason. 

But suddenly, I can't buy the wallpaper for the front parlor piecemeal like I'd planned to.  So today I bought two kinds of wallpaper for that room all in one big shebang.  Two kinds?  Yep.  One for above the picture rail and one for below it.  See, the papers I wanted for the front parlor are from the same collection as the paper in the foyer, and some of those patterns are being discontinued by Waverly.  If I wanted that paper, I had to buy it sooner rather than later.

But now the buyer's remorse has started.  I love the paper I decided on for above the picture rail (I love it almost as much as the foyer paper, and the foyer paper is like my soulmate) but I don't love the paper for the main part of the walls.  I like it.  I like it a lot.  I might even grow to love it, the way the quiet, skinny guy from the high school swim team that you never thought twice about back then slowly becomes such a huge part of your life that now you don't laugh anymore when someone says you ought to get married.  (Not that I'm thinking of a specific person here--heck no!--I mean, I said "you" not "I", right?  Right.)  What was I talking about?  Oh, yeah.  So I just spent a gob of money on wallpaper that I like but don't love.  This worries me a little. 

I suppose I have some time to get over it.  First I'll have to steam off the painted-over wallpaper in the parlor, fix a couple of bad patches in the plaster, put up the picture rail, and paint miles of trim--and I haven't even finished papering the foyer yet....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Almost Done Foyer

I didn't finish wallpapering the foyer on my days off...but it's 3 a.m. Wednesday morning and my right knee is starting to sound like bubble wrap when I go up and down the ladder, which is a pretty good indicator that I need to stop now.  All of the trim is finally cream-colored and shiny instead of grayish-white and nicked, even the window trim that had about a dozen nail holes in it.

I'm almost done, though.  If I had just one more night off--or if I'd stayed home for a bit more of the nights off I just had--I'd be done already.  It's hard to tell from that photo how much I have left to do, so let me teach you a little firefighting lingo.  The front of a structure (house) is called the A side, the left (as you stand in front of the house, facing it) is the B side, the rear is the C side, and the right is the D side.  This photo shows the C/D corner of the foyer.  I'm about a third of the way along the D side.  So, all that's left is the rest of the D side (some of which is taken up by that window) and a little bit of the A side above the door.  See?  Almost done.

And by the way, the bird was evicted on Tuesday afternoon.  I put on a baseball cap and carried a broom, but the bird was out doing whatever birds do when I took the wreath off the front door.  Sorry, little bird, you'll have to find another warm place to sit for the rest of the winter.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

You've Got Mail

There is mail in my mailbox.  I saw some of it poking out of the top of the mailbox today when I did a slow drive-by.   But I can't get the mail.  And I can't take down my Christmas decorations, either.

See, Sunday night I opened up the front door so I could go out on the porch and get the mail.  When I opened up the storm door, a bird burst out of the Christmas wreath hanging there.  I guess it was disoriented by the sudden light from the foyer, or because its cozy spot in the Christmas wreath became a mobile home when I swung the door open, but whatever the reason it flew straight at my head.  We both flapped wildly about, the bird with its wings and I with my hands, both of us caught between the front door and the storm door while the poor bird tried to escape and I tried to keep it out of my hair and out of my house without squealing like a little girl.  Did I mention this happened at about 1 a.m.?  No?  Well, it did, and nothing disrupts the peace and quiet of a National Register Historic District like one of the residents screaming like Tippi Hedren in "The Birds".  I finally managed to shut the storm door and get back inside the house--without my mail, I might add.

Monday afternoon I again attemped to get my mail.  It's not so much that I want to pay my bills as it is that I'm expecting a wallpaper sample and I really want to see what it looks like.  I opened up the front door and was reaching for the handle of the storm door when I heard a scuffling noise.  No way...But yes, the stupid bird was in the wreath again!  There it was, hunkered down on the battery pack for the Christmas lights.  Wow, it's not really a condor like I thought it's just a little sparrow.  I can take this bird.  So I rapped on the glass.   "Go away, bird!" I said.  The bird gave me a look that clearly said, "Screw you, lady!"  I picked up Louis Cat and put him eye-to-eye with the bird.  In my mind, this is akin to Clint Eastwood racking a shotgun.  Reality was a bit different.  The bird did not budge.  Louis did not notice the bird.  Sigh...

So the wreath is still on the front door.  The bird is still sitting in the wreath.  And the mail is still in the mailbox.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

"Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right."
--Oprah Winfrey