Saturday, April 28, 2012

Done! (Sorta)

The wallpaper in the front parlor is finally done! 

I think it looks especially nice around the fireplace.
I've gone from wallpaper painted over with hideous baby blue paint, to bare plaster, to this wallpaper.  In only three short years!  (Or maybe four...)

Of course, the room's not done.  I still have to finish painting the shoe moulding.  (At the rate I'm going, that will be another three-year project.)  The trim on the door between the front parlor and the foyer still has holes in it from the hinges back when the doors were in two pieces, so I need to finish filling that in with wood putty, sand, and paint.  And--biggest project yet to do in here--I have to buy picture rail, paint it, and then enlist someone's help to hang it.  (Hey, Charlie!)  The buying of the picture rail will happen on my next days off, after I happily discovered that it's just 45 cents a foot.  For the first time, something costs less than I thought it would. 

After Sarah told me that my bare couch looked like it belonged in a doctor's office, I went out and bought a throw and some pillows to warm it up.  Sarah approves.

The couch is all alone in the front parlor.  It needs a cushy chair and an end table and a coffee table or an ottoman to keep it company.  Some of those things I have, but I'm holding off moving them in here until we finish the picture rail.  Still, the parlor's starting to look like a real room that someone might actually be able to live in, rather than a construction site.

Well, except for this....
Maybe someday I'll have a nice window seat or chaise lounge here like a normal person would. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Progress (Finally)

Finally, some progress here at the house.  The planets must have been aligned just right on Friday, because I had the day off, Charlie got home early, I was motivated (and didn't have arthritis troubles) and the weather stayed nice.

I got all but two strips of wallpaper in the front parlor done.  I'm hoping to finish that next week on one of my days off.  Then I can go buy picture rail and start painting it.  (Ack.)  Charlie mowed the grass (but not the flowers!) and cleaned out the gutters.  I have no trees, but my neighbor to the west has a couple that are right on the property line and they really fill up my gutters with leaves, acorns and sticks.  Charlie climbed up on the front porch roof and shouted down, "GODDAM!  There's a truckload of leaves and stuff up here!!"  (Bet my neighbors loved hearing that...)  I thought he was exaggerating until he backed his pickup up next to the house and raked everything off the roof into the back of it.  Indeed, there was a truckload of leaves and stuff. 

Today Charlie had to work at his real job, which he went to with much grumbling about having to work on a Saturday when he'd rather go fishing.  I briefly considered finishing the wallpaper and then decided it was just too nice to stay inside.  So, I went out to the east wall of the house (which looked like this the last time I showed it to you, but has since been completely scraped and caulked) and put a coat of paint on it.  I have several other spots of peeling paint on my house, but that east wall was the worst.  It's all done but three or four clapboards which are too high for me to reach without borrowing Floyd's taller ladder.  Come to think of it, I think I might leave that painting for someone I know who happens to be nearly a foot taller than I am....

And now, I'm going to the Royals game with Sarah.  Our beloved Royals are off to a very rough start this year, so I hope they win tonight. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Point Taken

Charlie mowed down my daylilies.
"I thought they were grass," he said.

"How could you think they were grass?!  You didn't mow down the ones in the front yard and they look exactly the same!"

"I knew those were flowers because you put them little plastic rocks around 'em."

Oh.  Well, he's got me there.

Point taken.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

By Request

Milah asked if I had any photos of what my dining room looked like when I moved in.  Unfortunately, I lost the pics I took on Closing Day when my old laptop died a few years ago.  (That taught me to back-up everything on a flash drive.)

This is the best I could do...

A lot of things are different now, huh? 

Check out that wallpaper.  Itty-bitty flowers on a stark white background.  I'm not entirely sure this stuff wasn't actually shelf liner.  Obviously, this photo was taken when I was tearing up the carpet.  That top layer is the blue wool carpet that was throughout the entire house, except for the back porch, my bedroom, and the bathrooms.  It was probably really nice carpet at one in 1982.  (The red stuff is carpet pad, which was stapled to the floor.)  The bottom layer of carpet is not only absolutely horrid, but it was glued to the floor.  Finding that in the dining room too (after uncovering it in both parlors) caused me to fling myself on the floor and wail.  I'm not even kidding.  The trim in this room is cream now, not off-the-shelf Walmart White.  The door was still in two pieces, before Mare and I used lots of biscuits and glue (and some really big clamps) to put it back together again.  And lastly, there's Big Christopher....gosh, I miss that cat.  I had to give him away after he developed diabetes and needed insulin shots at regular intervals.  (Working 12-hour shifts really sucks sometimes.)  As far as I know, he's alive and well and back to being Greeter Cat at the vet clinic.

Oh, and that wallpaper had a border, too.
A border which didn't really coordinate with the wallpaper...

But the best worst part of the room was the curtains.  There was a gigantic upholstered cornice made all in one piece which covered the upper third of the bay windows.  (Think upside-down upholstered headboard with swoopy curves, covered in pale blue raw silk and moss green velvet.)  I really wish I still had a photo of that thing.  Dylan (my son) volunteered to take it down for me one night, thinking it would be a quick project.  Three hours later he was done.  The thing was attached to the wall with a variety of nails, screws and big metal brackets.  We took it apart and saved the lumber from it.  A couple of years later, Mare and I used the lumber from that cornice to build sawhorses and a little worktable when we put the doors back together.  Told y'all it was a really big cornice. 

The cornice and the curtains matched the ones in the front parlor.
Hideous.  Hid-eeeee-ous.  I kept expecting the cast from Dynasty to show up at my house.

I like my dining room much better now....but you know, someday in the distant future, someone else will live in this house and they'll complain about the ugly damask wallpaper in there...

Monday, April 2, 2012

I Blame Sarah

I blame Sarah, my daughter-in-law, for what I am about to tell you. 

Like everyone else with an old house (or any house, for that matter) I have a very long to-do list.  Some of the projects on that list have fallen into the "someday" category.  They're things I'd like to do, but for various reasons they get pushed further down the list in favor of other projects until their timetable changes from "this fall" to "next spring" to "someday".  Y'all know how it goes. of those "someday" projects just moved to "right now".

Take a good look at this photo.  Notice anything unusual?  (Not the pane of stained glass that's been replaced with clear; that's been that way for Lord knows how long.)  Look at the bottom of the windows.  I'll give you a minute to think about it.  You scroll down when you're ready.

The storm windows are gone and the windows are open. 

Wait.  Let me say that again.

The storm windows are gone and the windows are open!!  HOORAY!!

Like I said, this is all Sarah's fault.  She knew that (someday) I planned to take the ugly storm windows off and cut the windows back open again.  Sarah thought this project deserved to be moved up on the timetable, so every time we had nice weather around here, she'd text me and say "I have my windows open and it's sooo nice in my house."  Persistence pays off.  A couple of weeks of that and I decided that my windows needed to be open too.

Last week I brought it up to Charlie.  "I'm thinking about taking those ugly damn storm windows down and cutting the windows open."

Charlie: "Why would you want to do that right now?"

Me:  "Because those storm windows are ugly as sin and the house would look better without 'em and so I can have the windows open."

Charlie:  "They keep out some weather."

Me:  "Not much.  Look at all that dirt and stuff between the windows.  They're not exactly airtight."

Charlie:  "Without screens, you're gonna have bugs in your house."  I pondered that for a moment.  Then he said, "Grasshoppers are likely to be bad this year.  They could jump right in your house."

That about made me change my mind right there.  I am terrified of grasshoppers.  All-out, screaming like a little girl terrified.  The thought of those nasty things actually inside my house.  Shivers.

But then I got over that and texted White Trash Bob.  "I'm thinking of taking the storm windows off my house."

His reply:  "Do it.  They serve no useful purpose."

So I went out and took four storm windows off the house, and then I cut through the globbed-on paint on the inside sashes, and then I went outside and cut through the globbed-on paint on the outside sashes.  (In fairness, I should admit that some of that paint was globbed on by me, but only two coats.  The other quarter-inch of paint well pre-dates my ownership of this house.)  And then the windows still didn't open, so I did what I always do when I run into problems and I called WTB.  He came right over and with a flat-head screwdriver, a hammer, a Wonder Bar (aka wrecker bar), and a whole lot of patience we pried those two windows open. 

"Be very careful when you hammer," WTB cautioned.  "And don't ever pry on the middle of the window.  Just on the corners.  You don't want to break the glass."  Indeed I don't.  Almost all of the windows in this house still have the original wavy, bubbly glass in them.

And then I shut the windows again, called Sarah, and told her to come right over because I had something very important to show her.  When she got here, I opened one front window and then the other one.  She laughed and laughed.

As it turns out, I'm really glad Sarah talked me into this.  I have some touch-up painting to do on the house this spring anyway, and while I'm doing that I can go around, take all the ugly storm windows off, pry the windows open, and then repaint the trim if I need to.  Three windows open.  Fifteen more to go. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

How I Spent My Spring Break

I'm back, y'all!  My unexpected absence from blogging--and from working on my house--was because a few days after I finished the floors I had a really bad arthritis flare.  I wish I could say I handled it well, that I was all stoic and inspirational like Helen Keller or something, but the truth is that every morning when I woke up in pain I said bad swears.  A lot of bad swears.  I'm used to having my knees snap-crackle-pop after I climb up and down a ladder all day, but this involved both ankles, my right knee, and my right hand.  For three weeks.  Y'all know I have no patience for this schidt.  So I liberally dropped F-bombs, hobbled around my neighborhood, and didn't do much on the house.  Thank God that's over. 

This week was a whole lot better.  The dining room is about 98% done.
Note that the china cabinet is missing.  So are the register covers.  That's the 2% that isn't done.  (Oh, and the centerpiece there is a bouquet of peacock feathers, a birthday present from WTB a couple of years ago.)

I planted some flowers.

I accidentally threw away the plant tags before I blogged, so I don't know what the flowers are called. 

I planted viola (what my mom calls Johnny-Jump-Ups) all along the front walkway, but they're still teeny and didn't photograph well.

And I hung up two strips of wallpaper in the front parlor....after I went out and bought a big piece of plastic to cover the nice floor with.

There's not much left to paper--just the long wall with that window and the "short" wall where the fireplace is.  A good couple of days of work and I'll have it done.  I might've gotten more paper up, but I was distracted by another project.  I'll tell you about that tomorrow.