Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cabbaged Onto

This might be my favorite spot to sit.

It'll never be in Better Homes and Gardens, but I like it.

That little patch of concrete covers the old cistern and it's always been marooned out there in the middle of the yard.  Last year when I got my new patio, we connected the old patio to the new one, and now it looks like it belongs.

It's full of stuff I cabbaged onto.  The little table between the chairs was appropriated from a family yard sale,  and a couple of those planters came from my momma's house.  The white post is  trash architectural salvage from when White Trash Bob rebuilt his porch last fall.  (He used it as a table to stain his new porch flooring, so I need to paint it because it's a little too rustic.) My momma decided that she didn't want the small fountain that's been setting on her own patio for years, so I swiped that before someone else could.
Louis thinks the fountain is an excellent addition to the patio.

Monday, May 27, 2013

You-Know-What Over Teakettle

This morning I was almost home, driving past my house in the half-conscious state I slip into after a 12-hour night shift, and I saw White Trash Bob standing on the sidewalk in front of his house.  He looked forlorn.  I pulled over.

"Why the long face?"

WTB made an attempt at a grin.  "You might wanna wait on that glazing compound for a couple of weeks.  I'm out of commission."  He held up his right hand and half-heartedly waved.  His hand looked like ground chuck.

"I had a wreck on my bicycle.  On my damn bicycle.  I'm careful on my motorcycles, but not so much on a bicycle.  I pulled my phone out of my pocket to look at it, realized I was at the end of the alley, put on the hand brake, and pitched over the handlebars."

In other words, he went ass over teakettle.


He's got a dozen or so stitches in his pinkie finger and the meat of his hand just below that finger, another couple chunks out of his hand and wrist that didn't take stitches, and some pretty gory-looking road rash up his arm.  (I wanted to take a picture of it, but I thought y'all might still be recovering from the photos of the petrified rat.  Besides, WTB wouldn't let me.)

No re-glazing windows for him.  I think I'll cook supper for him Wednesday night and rent him a Lon Chaney movie.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Anti-Hater Season

When I first started this post (Thursday afternoon) it had the title "Hater Season".  Wednesday and Thursday were not very good days for me.  The haters showed up in droves so I put up a new sign in my yard which read, "If you can't say something nice, just keep on walking."  Then I took it down because, well, I thought it sounded hateful and there was plenty enough of that going around.  Wednesday and Thursday I was very discouraged, so I worked hardly at all on the house.  The less said about those two days, the better.

On Friday my friend Harriet showed up.  Harriet is a retired over-the-road trucker originally from New York, and she's very outspoken.  I told her it had been Hater Season around these parts for the past 48 hours.  She was indignant.  "Do they live here?  No.  Do they help you with this house?  No.  Don't pay any attention to those idiots."  Harriet and I have a long history of being Anti-Haters.  It was Harriet who parked her car in the middle of the street, got out, and applauded long and loud on the day when the last of the shingles came off the house.

Harriet gave me the kick in the pants I needed.  (She's really good at that.)

By Friday evening the house looked like this:

 My good mood and motivation carried into Saturday, when by mid-afternoon the house looked like this:

It's just one coat of paint, but still.  The window will be a separate project.  I always treat windows as a separate project because they take so darn long to scrape and repair, not to mention how long they take to paint because I have to be more careful.  This one needs reglazing, and since I am not very good at that, WTB will be handling the reglazing duties next week.  WTB is definitely part of Anti-Hater Season.

And then I went around to the front of the house and scraped some paint there, too.  Just a little.  But, as my neighbor Floyd said, "You're gaining on it, one board at a time."  While I was out front, my neighbor Carl hollered over, "By God, you're gettin' there!  And with no help from men!"  Floyd and Carl are also a big part of Anti-Hater Season.  Not incidentally, they're both World War II vets, which in my opinion has a lot to do with how gentlemanly and positive they both are.  Men of that generation (my dad included) were built of much finer stuff than men these days.

So.  The plan for next week is:
Put the second coat of paint on the east side of the house
Buy some glazing compound so WTB can fix the window
Prime that big scraped area on the west side of the house. (Scraped last year.)
Scrape, repair, caulk, and prime as much of the front as possible.

I think I will put that anti-hater sign back in the yard, too....

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Bless Your Little Bitty Heart"

My heart goes out to the people of Oklahoma.

To donate to disaster relief for the folks in Oklahoma:

Text STORM to 80888 for the Salvation Army
Text REDCROSS to 90999 for the Red Cross
Text FOOD to 32333 for the Regional Food Bank

Each text is a $10 donation.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Not General Sherman

Working on the outside of the house makes me a little bit crazy.  Crazier, I mean.  I get out there where the whole world can see me and I feel like I have to make huge progress every day or I'm a total failure.  Then the haters start showing up to tell me that I can't do this or I shouldn't do that, so to prove them wrong I work even harder.  A little bit of that attitude is good.  A lot of it, and I start to become General Sherman during his March to the Sea.  I develop a scorched earth policy towards anything and anybody who's in my way:  old paint, sleep, talkative neighbors, weather, my friends, nightfall....and what ends up happening is that I miss out on fun things with my friends, I become sleep-deprived and then get sick, and I aggravate my old shoulder injuries.

Well, this year I have decided:  I am not General Sherman.

That means I'll still work hard on the house, but I'm going to spend more time with my friends and family, more time talking to my very cool neighbors, and more time porching.  And I'm not going to feel bad about it.  I tried out the Anti-Sherman Plan for the first time this past week.  My house looked like this on Wednesday morning:
I went to Hilltop Farm & Greenhouse with my mom twice, spent most of a day with her after learning one of her friends had passed away, ate supper with my son and daughter-in-law, talked to my favorite neighbors Floyd and Gwen, cleaned my house, slept until noon every day, planted some flowers, went for walks with White Trash Bob, sat on the front porch or the back patio quite a lot, and had movie night with the furbabies.

And by Friday evening the house looked like this:

Could I have gotten more than that done in three days?  Probably.  But I wouldn't have had as much fun.  I like having fun more than I like finishing up the house in record time.

Besides, nobody in Savannah liked General Sherman anyway.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Worst First

Y'all, I know I said that this year I'd finish painting the west side of the house and then move on to the back and finish all of it, too, or at least as much as I could.

But I changed my mind.

Instead, I think I'll triage my house.  Y'all know what triage is in emergency medicine--the sickest people get treated before anybody else does.  Or, in two words:  worst first.

This is where we left off last year, on the west side of the house.
That big swath of yellow (and bare wood) in the middle is the only unfinished part of the west side of the house.  Why is it unfinished?  Because that paint---will---not---come---off.  The bare wood there took us days and days to finish, with both of us working on it.  We tried.  We tried with the regular pull scraper, a belt sander, White Trash Bob's Metabo paint stripper, an orbital sander, a heat gun, and Peel Away.  The only thing I haven't tried yet is what my bestie Greg jokingly suggested:  a propane torch.  Yeah, not really wanting to burn my house down.

Reluctantly, I have to agree with whoever said, "If it ain't comin' off, it ain't comin' off."  Yup.  That's the truth.  (I distinctly remember having that conversation...I just can't recall who with.)

It doesn't make sense to me to keep chipping away at paint that's stuck tight to the house while in the meantime, paint's literally falling off my house in other places.

Like the back of the house, a little bit...

Worse on the front of the house...
Not so much up there...but looky here by the front door...

And over on the other (west) side of the stained glass windows...

That's bad enough to get me a warning ticket. "Failure to maintain a historic property" is what they call it.  I really do not want to pay a fine.  Even worse, I really do not want to replace clapboards because they got wood rot.  With all that paint flaking off, that's a possibility.  Water is the enemy of wood; paint and caulk protect it.

And then there's the east side of the house on the "new" (post-1910) addition, which I showed you last time and which, after Wednesday, looks like this:
Believe it or not, that looked even worse than the front of the house.  (Of course I forgot to take good pics before I attacked it with my scraper.)  This part of the house definitely moved to the top of the triage list.  The paint was curled up like dead leaves, some of the clapboards are cracked, and there are small gaps between the clapboards and the trim.  I spent a lot of time out there Wednesday with wood filler, caulk, backer rod, primer and paint.  The clapboards from the bottom to just below the windowsill are completely finished.  The trim by the downspout and the clapboards behind it are finished, too.  I managed to re-hang the downspout all by myself, which is a first.  (Usually, I start and fail, then call in help.)  My goal is to have as much of that yellow paint gone as I possibly can before I go back to work Saturday night.

So.  Worst first.  Triage the old girl.  Folks, she's gonna look worse before she looks better...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Opening Day

As far as I'm concerned, the most exciting day of the year is the first day of Major League Baseball season, known as Opening Day.  I look forward to it all winter long.  (Winter is that long, dreary, cold season which begins when the last game of the World Series ends and lasts until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.)  Opening Day this year was March 31st, and I've been altogether a much happier person since that day.

There's another day, though, which is almost as exciting as the Opening Day of baseball, and that's the Opening Day of Painting Season.  Scraping paint isn't nearly as much fun as watching baseball, but ripping big chunks of old paint off clapboards until they're smooth, bare wood and then putting paint on those clapboards is really, really gratifying.  I got a late start on it this year, mostly because of weather, but I'm happy to announce that last Thursday was Opening Day for painting.  And I seriously kicked butt.

It's Painting Season!  Let the games begin!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cheese Wheels

A couple of kind readers asked about what kind of insulation I used and why, so I'll try to answer those questions here.

But first, a warning:  Y'all, I really do not know what I am doing.  I suspect that people who read this blog do so just for the entertainment value of watching me get into one mess right after another, so when somebody asks me a question about house stuff it really throws me off guard.  I'm probably not really the person you should ask about house stuff.  If you see a glow in the sky and you're not sure if it's the setting sun or a big-ass fire, if you're bleeding and you can't figure out how to stop it, if you think you smell natural gas in your all-electric house, if somebody in the same room with you is flopping around on the floor like a crappie--in any of those situations, ask me.  I'll know just what to do.  House stuff, not so much.  What works for me may not work for you.  A thousand other people probably have a better idea.  Every situation is different.  Your results may vary.  I will not be held responsible if you hurt yourself, someone else, or your house because you followed my dumb advice.  

So, that's out of the way.  Let's dive right in the deep waters.

The stuff I used is unfaced, R-19 fiberglass insulation that comes in a great big roll.  I took a pic of it next to the washer and dryer so you can see what I mean by "great big".  It's also yellow.  I think it looks like a giant cheese wheel.  You shouldn't eat this, though.  Ever.

"Unfaced" means that it doesn't have a backing of paper or plastic on either side of it.  It's just a big roll of fiberglass batting.

Apparently there is a giant debate about faced versus unfaced insulation.  When I asked the guy at the hardware store about it, he said, "Ask ten different people about it, you'll get ten different opinions."  His opinion is that you should use faced insulation if you're putting it next to an exterior surface, like a wall or a roof.  The faced (paper) part goes to the interior side of the installation. He says you should use unfaced insulation if you're adding it to already existing insulation, like in an attic, or if you're using it next to an interior surface.

Now wait just a cotton-pickin' minute here.  He says you should use faced insulation next to a roof, but I used unfaced.  Why did I do that?  Well, because Mare  thinks that faced insulation traps moisture and doesn't let the house "breathe".  I have some reservations about Mare's opinion but he's fairly passionate about it, and since he threatened not to help me with various things, I bought unfaced insulation.  Time will tell if Mare's right or the guy at the hardware store is.  (That's kinda scary.)

Installing it by myself kicked my butt.  It's not really the installation that's hard, it's all the climbing up and down the ladder. Here's the most important piece of advice I have: Read the instructions on the insulation and follow them.  (Sounds simple, but I overlook this sometimes.) You really do need to wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves, real shoes, eye protection and at least a mask if not a respirator.  Also, the size of that cheese wheel next to the dryer ain't nothin' compared to how big it is when you rip off the plastic wrap.  Drag the insulation where you want it before you remove the plastic.  Then roll it out as much as you can and let it get all nice and fluffy.  Insulation is really easy to cut with a utility knife if you use a piece of scrap lumber as a straight edge to mash it down with.  You can mash the insulation while you're cutting it, but after that try not to.  I cut the insulation into pieces about 3 feet long or so because that size was the easiest to "feed" through the furring strips in my ceiling without either smashing it or tearing it when I pulled it through.  I just butted the pieces right up next to each other as I went along.  The whole thing took me a little over three hours for a room that's 11 feet by 14 feet.  When I finished, I washed my fiberglass-furred clothes all by themselves and ran the rinse-and-spin cycle twice just to be sure all the fiberglass was gone off the clothes and out of my washer.

And that, my friends, is the total of my meager knowledge about insulation.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Oops, I Did It Again

Oops, I did it again.  I scheduled posts and then I forgot to click the Publish button.  Sorry!  (And sorry, too, for making you think of that Britney Spears song.)  To get you all caught up on the past week, I mooshed two posts together into this one.

After I found the horrible dried-up dead rat in the ceiling, I really did not want to go back in there and finish tearing out the rest of the insulation.  I was afraid the rat had friends up there and I wasn't sure I could handle pulling another rat mummy out of the ceiling.

But my foreman told me we were on a strict deadline and I better get in there and finish the job.

"C'mon, Momma, you can do it!  I'll even stand on the ladder with you in case you find something else up there that's yucky!"  Louis Cat is a great supervisor.  He never asks me to do anything he wouldn't do himself.

I'm happy to report that we found no more surprises.

But I did find a patch of beadboard up there, with some peeling paint on it that reminds me of the outside of the house:
 And over in the middle of the room, I found a chewed-up wire which I'll have to replace:
Then I ran the ShopVac all over the floor, the walls and the ceiling and heaped up the ceiling tiles in the corner:
That's a pretty big heap of ceiling tiles.  Somehow, though, I managed to fit all of them into the back of the Toaster:

I'm still not quite sure how that happened.  And then I took all those ceiling tiles down to the city's Public Works Department, which just happened to have a whole lot of dumpsters available for City-Wide Cleanup Week, and unloaded all that junk in an almost-blinding snowstorm.  (On May 3rd.) Snow in May.  Craziness.

For a few days, the ceiling was bare.  I love the look of that old wood.

I really liked it that way.  So much so that I was tempted to pull off those furring strips--the lighter wood you see in that photo--and leave the ceiling like that. One itty-bitty problem with that idea: there's no attic space above those ceiling joists.  That stuff above it is the underside of the roof decking.  So, that room would be pretty darn cold in the winter and stifling hot in the summer.

Out to Nerds Hardware and Home Center I went.  Y'all, I know nothing about insulation, so I went out there with only my debit card and that picture of the bare ceiling and asked the nice folks at Nerds what to do.  They didn't look at me like I had three heads, actually knew exactly what I needed, gave me excellent advice, and helped me load the new insulation in my car--altogether a much better experience than at the big-box stores.

Now the ceiling looks like this:

And I'm waiting to see what the weather is like on my days off before I decide what to do next.  Nice weather means I'll be outside scraping paint.  Bad weather means I'll be inside making some more progress on the ceiling.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pinkie Promise

When I was a little kid, my brother would lure me into trouble by telling me that nothing bad would happen.

"Do you promise?" I'd say.
"I promise," he'd say.
"But do you pinkie promise?" I'd ask.
"I pinkie promise," he'd solemnly say.

And then something bad would happen (usually involving grasshoppers, which terrify me) and I'd go after him with my little noodle arms spinning like windmills (he was younger but bigger than me) until our momma would pull us apart.  I was usually the one who got in trouble.  I have a big mouth and can't stand injustice, while my brother possesses to this day an almost angelic smile.  (The fact that as he got older he somewhat resembled Patrick Swayze didn't hurt, either.)

Anyhow, I told y'all that so you'd understand that I take a pinkie promise very seriously.  Having been the victim of a false pinkie promise numerous times, I vowed never to make a pinkie promise lightly.  If I make one, you can take it to the bank.  My pinkie promise is gold.

I pinkie promise there is nothing nasty in this post.

After the last one, I felt I owed y'all something nice to look at.

So here's my front porch with my planters all filled up with flowers:
 That's a lot of planters.  Eleven, all together.  I'm hoping all those flowers will distract from what an unholy mess the front of my house is.  (The paint out there is peeling pretty bad.)  I know you can't really tell what the flowers look like, so I took some close-ups.

This one is my favorite.  Non-stop begonias in a coral pink, surrounded by Euphorbia 'Hip Hop'.  I wanted it to look like a bouquet.  I love begonias because they look like roses, and Hip Hop is my favorite filler ever.  It's so frilly and fuzzy-looking and it goes with everything.

 New Guinea Impatiens with Alyssum as a filler.

Above them, hanging on the wall, Calibrachoa.  It's also called Million Bells or sometimes Super Bells.  This stuff blooms and blooms and blooms and it comes in lots of pretty colors.  It was hard to decide which color to pick.  I decided to go with pinks, lavenders and purples this year for all my flowers.  If my Gramma were here, she'd say it's kinda "loud", but I think she'd like it.  Lavender was her favorite color.

And on the steps, from the bottom up...

I planted petunias in the smallest pots.  Petunias are one of my favorite summer flowers.  Even I can keep them alive (well, most of the time) and, like Million Bells, they come in so many pretty colors.  I picked this hot pink because it's really bright and cheery.

In the medium-sized pots, more Hip Hop and more Million Bells.   

The big pots took me awhile to put together.  Like 45 minutes at Hilltop Farm and Greenhouse putting together different combinations of flowers until I hit on this.  In the middle is a geranium that blooms kinda pinky-lavender (it's barely blooming here); around that are three purple verbena; and tucked in between the verbena are three Million Bells that bloom white with purple centers.  (You can see them a little bit at the bottom of the photo.)  I think this will look better when it starts to fill out.

So far, I've remembered to water them every day...but it's only been like 4 or 5 days.
I'll also have to remember to bring them inside Thursday night since it's going to get down in the 30s that night.  I'll probably just leave them inside until Saturday because--and this makes me fall into despair--because the weatherman says we may have snow on Friday.  Can't let them get frozen.

I've made a pinkie promise to myself that this will be 
the year that my porch plants live all summer.