Friday, June 29, 2012

I Have Paint

I have some paint on the house now.  Real paint, not just sample paint.  But wait, maybe I'm getting ahead of the story.

See, a couple of days ago I painted big swatches of the back of the house with the paint samples I bought at Lowe's.  I liked how the Ashlar Gray turned out so much that I clapped my hands and told Louis Cat, "That's it!  That's the one!"  All excited, I ran around to the side of the house where Charlie was scraping paint and made him come look at the swatches.

Charlie said, "Huh.  To tell you the truth, I don't like how any of 'em look with the roof."

I said, "What's wrong with the roof?"

He said, "Well, it's brown and none of those grays look good with it."

And I stamped my little foot and said, "But I want a gray house!"

And Charlie said, "And so you shall have it, my dear."

And then we spent three blissful hours together at Lowe's picking out the perfect color for the house.

Wait.  Maybe that's not exactly what happened....

Maybe what actually happened is that I had a meltdown after he said that about the brown roof and told him that he knew my roof was brown and he knew I was planning to paint the house gray and he knew what paint chips I stapled onto my application with the Historic Preservation Commission and he didn't say a word until now.  That caused Charlie to escape to White Trash Bob's house, where he told WTB that I was "havin' a fit" about the paint, so WTB came over and said something like, "I hate to say it, but I agree with Charlie."  And then I lost my mind and declared that plenty of people have gray houses with brown roofs, a statement which was quickly disproved when Charlie drove me all over town and noted that there is not a single gray house with a brown roof anywhere.  Oh.  Then WTB pointed out that maybe if I used a brownish-gray and dark trim instead of white trim, it would look alright after all.  So I went back to Lowe's (by myself, because Charlie said he was having no part of the paint chip picking) and picked out at least 57 more paint chips, which resulted in the purchase of four more paint samples and even more paint on the back of the house.  At that point, I started taking pictures because I had told y'all that I would put the house color to a vote.  Charlie asked me what the Sam Hell I thought I was doing, since most of the colors look almost identical except in bright sunlight, so y'all wouldn't be able to tell the difference anyway.

The end result of all of this is that now one small section of the house is Ashlar Gray.  Which is the color I intended to paint it in the first place.  (The white is primer, not paint, because WTB is right about darker trim looking better with the roof than white trim.)  Eventually the trim boards will be Mountain Smoke, the window frames and porch trim will be Gilded Linen, and the window sashes will be Lincoln Cottage Black.  (All colors by Valspar.)  I think.  Unless I change my mind again.  

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The White House

Saturday, about 90 minutes before
I devoured two giant BLTs and half
a quart of sweet tea.
In my last post I said I wouldn't bore y'all with another photo of scraped paint.  More or less, I'm keeping my promise, since this is a photo of primer.  And a big red snow shovel.  (Useful for scooping up lead paint chips at the end of the day--I forgot to move it before I took this pic with my phone.)

White Trash Bob loaned us his new toy, a Metabo sander thingy that removed the paint from the window frame and the flat trim in about a third of the time it would've taken to hand-scrape them with the carbide blade pull scrapers we've been using.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work as well on the clapboards.  WTB theorizes that's because the clapboards are angled and because, over time, some of them have bowed a bit.

The two unpainted little clapboards to the right of the window are being repaired.  If you bigify the photo, you can see the bottom one is held together with painter's tape while the wood glue dries.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Nothing of major importance to report, and I won't bore y'all with another photo of scraped paint, but here's an update on a couple of things.

The Historic Preservation Commission approved my paint colors.  Hurrah!  I bought a couple of testers but I haven't painted a patch of the house with them yet.  (I submitted 2 colors to HPC because I hadn't made up my mind, and the whole shebang was approved.)  When I do, I'll post a photo on here and let y'all vote on which you like best.

Charlie went to Court on Tuesday and his lawyer told him when he got there that the case has been continued until sometime in July.  I don't know whether to take a continuance as a good sign or not, so I'm continuing my present course of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst.

I'm rethinking not having internet at the house.  It's a little bit of a pain in the hiney to have to go to the library or McDonald's to get on the internet.  (Spoiled middle-class Americans and their "problems", right??)  I'm weighing now the little bit of inconvenience against the cost.  We'll see.

Mare (he of the porch-building, kitchen-renovating extravanganza three years ago) made a brief appearance in my side yard last week to talk about the sale of the house down the street.  It's the oldest frame house in Lexington (built in 1839) and, for Mare, it'll always be The One That got Away.  He lived in it for years, put heart and soul into its repairs, but in the end just didn't have the money to remain there.  That's his everlasting regret.  To find out that it sold at auction for less than its market value--and a price that Mare could almost have afforded--added insult to injury.  I felt bad for him.

And now, I must go scrape some paint.  Follow me on Twitter for the latest on that saga.

Friday, June 15, 2012

No Faith In Humanity

My faith in humanity is lagging.  Let me rephrase that.  My faith in the intelligence of humanity is lagging.

Somehow in the chaos of the house I lost my Application for Certificate of Appropriateness (that's a fancy name for the application I filed to have the Historic Preservation Commission approve my paint colors) and with it, the date of HPC's next meeting.  I thought I'd call City Hall and find out when it is.  After all, HPC is a city agency so someone there should know, right?  Wrong.

Me:  When does Historic Preservation meet again?
Her:  I have no idea.
Me:  Oh.  [pause] Could you find out?
Her:  I lost Calendar Creator off my computer so I don't have any idea.
Me:  Don't you have a city calendar with all the meetings listed?
Her:  Yeah, that's what I lost off my computer.
Me:  There's not another one anywhere?
Her:  No.
Me:  Ya know, they make these things now out of paper, they hang on the wall, you can write on them.  It's called a calendar.  Y'all should maybe buy one.

Then I tried to log on to my laptop to check the email I'd gotten from the Building Inspector.  I thought maybe she'd put the date of the next meeting in her email.  My laptop wouldn't connect to the internet.  I suddenly had a sneaking suspicion this might have something to do with the phone call I made to the cable company earlier in the week, so I called them again.

Me:  I called y'all earlier this week and asked if you could disconnect my cable but keep my internet, and now I don't have internet but I still have cable.
Her:  Well, your tv will still work even without cable.
Me:  Yes, but I wouldn't be getting HBO.
Her:  So you want to cancel HBO?
Me:  I want to cancel cable entirely.
Her:  It looks like service to your residence was disconnected on Tuesday.  Did you move?
Me:  No.  I tried to cancel cable and still have internet.  That's all.
Her:  Ma'am, I'm asking you if you want to cancel HBO.
Me:  [saying the Serenity Prayer silently] Yes.  Please cancel HBO.  And the rest of my cable channels.
Her:  So you want to cancel everything?
Me:  Just cable.  Not internet.  I want internet.  I do not want cable.
Her:  So you want to cancel cable but keep internet?
Me:  Yes.  Exactly.
Her:  We can do that for you.

Now I have neither cable nor internet at my house.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Slowly But Surely

Paint scraped, trim caulked, holes & cracks fixed with wood filler...
and now primer on half the wall.
(Photo taken Saturday afternoon.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Help Me Out

I apologize for the poor quality of this photo, but it's a photo of a microfilm copy of a newspaper photo.  The only advantage to this photo is that it's larger than the one in the sidebar.  I need some opinions, y'all.

(But first, can we have a moment of silence to mourn all that gorgeous roof cresting that's no longer there?  Amen.)

This photo was taken around 1906 and it's the oldest photo I have of the house.  (Incidentally, I think the house was built about 1887 or so.)  You can find out more about the photo and some house history here and here.  At the time I wrote those posts, I thought the yellow was the original color.  Now, after careful scraping with a razor blade, I believe the paint history to be this:  light gray, white, yellow, white (several times) and then my coat of yellow. The trim history:  light gray, black or very dark green (it's hard to tell), tan, white (many times) and my coat of green.  I had settled on Montpelier Ashlar Gray for the body of the house; Woodlawn Bedroom White for the trim, window frames, and porch posts; Mark Twain House Ombra Gray for the trim detail (like on the porch posts and porch brackets) and Lincoln Cottage Black for the window sashes.  (All those colors are Valspar from the National Trust For Historic Preservation collection.)

But then I started looking at that 1906 photo, and here's where I need some help.  Does it look to y'all like those big boards under the eaves and under the little roof where the stained glass windows are were painted a dark color?  I think the line's too sharp for it to be just shadows.  And then look over to the left side of the house, by the horse's butt--I think the trim was a dark color, too.  (It's hard to see the trim over by the porch because that part of the photo's so dark, and it looks like there's a downspout in front of the trim.)  I think maybe the trim was painted darker than the house, not lighter.  I'm not sure, though.  What do y'all think?  And, would it look terrible to paint the trim that MTH Ombra Gray?  Or even the next darkest color on that card, Ocean Storm?  The window frames and porch posts would still be that off-white and the window sashes would be black like they are now.

I have to have my colors approved by the city's Historic Preservation Commission later this month before I paint, but they're not required to be National Trust colors, just colors that would be historically appropriate. Since the trim's been both dark and light in the house's history, either would work.  I can't decide which I like better.  So help me out and tell me what y'all think would look best.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spelling Bee

Since it's Scripps National Spelling Bee time, I thought I'd share with you my own spelling bee story.

When I was a little kid, there were three grade schools in town:  the public school where I went, the Catholic school, and Wentworth Military Academy.  My 7th grade year there was a spelling bee competition between the three schools and my teacher, Mrs. Entine, asked me to participate.  Now, I have to tell you that there was no love lost between Mrs. Entine and myself.  She was an elderly lady who wore dresses that might have fit 20 years earlier when she bought them, before she became as short and stout as a fireplug.  (I doubt, however, that the dresses were in fashion even two decades earlier.)  In a moment of careless honesty, I once told her that her black lace-up orthopedic shoes looked like hooves.  I steadfastly refused to abide by her rule of no reading ahead in our schoolbooks and when I finished reading both my history book and my English book from cover to cover, I used them to disguise (not very well) the fact that I was actually reading Nancy Drew.  No, Mrs. Entine did not like me.  Her choosing me for the spelling bee team meant only one thing:  she intended to win. 

Mrs. Entine handed out the official list of spelling bee words and told us to study them.  I threw mine in the bottom of my locker without a second glance.  See, I was one of those kids who "broke the code" to reading when I was about 3 years old.  My mother told me she was reading me Green Eggs and Ham when I started to say the words along with her.  At first she thought I had simply memorized the book--after all, I demanded that she read it to me every night.  She pointed to one of the words and asked me what it was.  "Eggs," I said.  She got a cookbook from the kitchen, pointed to a word in it.  "Eggs," I said again.  Then I read the entire recipe to her.  After that she handed me my dad's Readers Digest and I read a page, and then the front page of the Kansas City Star.  One of the unique things about little kids who figure out how to read by themselves, without being taught, is that we very often have no idea how to pronounce words, but we know how to spell them.  To this day (and I am 45 years old now) I often don't use words in speaking that I frequently use in writing because I don't know how to say them. 

Anyhow, the day of the spelling bee dawned and I walked from my grandma's house to the Catholic School with my friend Patrick Arteaga.  "Good luck," he said.  "I'll wait on you."  He waited all morning as one by one my competitors fell, then walked with me to my grandma's house at lunchtime, and then sat in the front row of metal chairs again that afternoon.  I think he was the only child in a crowd of other kids' parents.  My own parents were not present because my brother had a football game.  I did not take this to mean that they liked him better, but that the outcome of my competition was more certain than his. 

Finally there were just two of us, a red-headed boy from Wentworth and me. 

One of the judges addressed me.  "Your word is medallion," he said.

I stood up and carefully said, "Medallion. M-E-D-A-L-L-I-O-N.  Medallion."

"That is incorrect," he said.

"It is not!"  I replied.  Mrs. Entine awoke from her drowse to frown at me.  "It isn't wrong!" I told her.  "He says it's wrong, but it's not." 

"Shush," said Mrs. Entine.  "Sit down."

I was enraged.  I refused to sit down and stood there with my fists balled at my sides.  "It--is--NOT--wrong," I stubbornly said.  There was some commotion among the judges.  I appealed to Father Ryan.  "Father, I know you're from the other school, but you know I spelled that word right.  Tell them." 

That was the day I learned that Father Ryan was not a good speller.  "I--well, I'm just not sure," he said.

"Get a dictionary!" I yelled, and then remembered I was talking to the priest.  "I mean, please, Father Ryan, get a dictionary, thank you." 

He fetched one from his office and returned shortly.  "She did spell the word correctly," he said.

The judges looked at the dictionary and talked amongst themselves.  Mrs. Entine sat by silent as a stone.  I like to think that Father Ryan argued on my behalf, but I don't know that.  The red-headed kid smirked at me.  I stuck my tongue out at him.  Patrick gave me the thumbs-up. 

Finally, embarrassedly, one of the judges spoke.  "There seems to be an, uh, error on the spelling bee word list....uh, a typographical error."

I beamed.  I'd won.  I'd won the spelling bee!  I planned to push aside all my brother's stupid football and baseball trophies to give mine pride of place on the shelf in my parents' dining room.  It was a beautiful trophy, with a white fake marble base, a red-white-and-blue column, and a gold plastic star on top. 

But the judge continued.  "However, this list is the official spelling bee word list and we have decided to use that spelling of the word.  All contestants were given a copy of this official list prior to the competition."  He pointed to the red-headed boy.  "If you can spell the word as it is on the list, you are the winner."

The kid stood up next to me (I still remained standing) and said, "Medallion.  M-E-D-A-L-I-O-N.  Medallion." 

The judges declared him the winner and handed him the trophy.  I stood there whomper-jawed as they placed the second-place prize in my hand.  It was a small brass medallion on a white ribbon.