Sunday, December 28, 2014


Way back when I first fell in love with this house (which was eight years ago Thanksgiving week) I had the good sense to hire a house inspector before I plunked down some money and went into debt for 30 years.  The house inspector thoroughly checked out the house and gave me a binder with all the particulars about it:  type of construction, square footage, the HVAC and electrical systems, and--most important to me--a list of repairs that needed to be made, separated into categories from Minor to Critical.  All of the Critical items were taken care of years ago; what's left is a few Moderate and Minor items and one Serious item.  (We don't speak of the Serious Item because it fills me with dread and makes me hyperventilate.)  Once a year or so I review the list to see what I've accomplished and what still needs to be done.  Friday afternoon I dragged out the binder and looked through the Moderate list.  There it was:  First Bathroom, low spot in floor between toilet and tub, most likely water damage, needs repair.  And I thought, well gosh, that's probably a big ole can of worms just waiting to be opened.  So I opened it.  I figured first things first, let's get all the layers of flooring off down to the subfloor and see what's going on with that low spot.  I went in there with my blue wrecker bar and my dad's hammer and started prying up the floor.  

And then...

I found this:

I first uncovered that little red rectangle next to the toilet, and I thought it was lettering or a logo on the plywood subfloor. Then I pulled off a little more of the three layers that covered it and realized it's vintage linoleum.  Holy crow.

But wait, let's not get too excited.  It probably doesn't cover the whole floor.  Lots of stupid people lived here who did stupid things to the house.  A whole floor of vintage linoleum is too much to hope for.

So I kept prying and throwing pieces of disgusting filthy flooring into trash bags, and in a couple of hours I had this:

Okay, so it's still disgusting filthy flooring, but it's vintage disgusting filthy flooring.  I'm guessing from the 1940s.  

I cleaned it up a little bit, and now it looks like this:

I think it's salvageable.  It looks pretty icky now, I admit.  It needs a lot of work:  the baseboards and the vanity will have to be pulled to get at the rest of the floor; the nail holes need to be filled; some spots where the pattern's missing need to be painted; the toilet will have to be pulled to fix that hideous plywood patch; and the whole thing needs a few coats of poly.  

And that low spot in the floor, mentioned by the house inspector?  It's only a low spot because whoever put that plywood patch in around the toilet then covered that plywood with a thick layer of what I think is water putty.  It's a good half-inch higher than the rest of the floor--so high that the underlayment for the layer of linoleum above this one was shimmed out with little stacks of cardboard from cigar boxes.  

After I cleaned up the floor and stepped back, I realized that I have the bones of a mid-century bathroom still intact.   The floor, obviously, but also 4" square plastic tiles that are on all four walls, a shiny "chrome" toilet paper dispenser that's built-in, a matching built-in soap dish by the tub, and a pretty cool ceiling fixture. 

I didn't appreciate these details until now because they didn't fit with my Victorian house.  My friend Saralyn pointed out that leaving the 1940s/50s bathroom features and restoring the room in that style helps tell the story of my house.  An excellent point, and one I hadn't thought of. 

I think I have the first project of 2015 all lined up, y'all. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Just Two Hours

Marion:  "I'll be over tomorrow and we can finish up the front porch."

Me:  "Okay.  We don't have that much to do."

Marion:  "Nope, It'll only take a couple of hours and then we'll be done with it.
All we have to do is
put up those trim pieces where the porch ceiling meets the house
[the gap's wonky and wider in some places than others because 
although the porch is square to the house, 
the concrete pad it's set on is not square to the house]

and put up the trim pieces where
the porch ceiling meets the spandrel

and cover that diagonal corner seam in the ceiling 
with a flat piece of trim
and then you can paint everything."

We've had that conversation once or twice a week since November 8th, the day we put up the last two pieces of spandrel and then went to the lumberyard and bought the trim, thinking we'd put it up the next day.  It's been so long that I can't even remember for sure what kind of trim I bought.  (Probably quarter round and lattice strips.) Something always happens to prevent us from getting in that last two hours of work to finish the porch:  he ends up working late and it gets dark now at 5 p.m., or I have to go to work, or it's pouring rain, or he has to go back home (two hours away) to take care of an emergency there, or one of us has obligations on the day the other could do it.  Just two hours.  You wouldn't think it'd be that hard to find two hours.  But it is.  And the porch stays thiiiis close to being done, for the want of two hours.  Maybe tomorrow. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Is This Thing On??


Hello, is anybody there??

Is this thing on?  Can y'all hear me??

Wow.  Three weeks since I've posted. 

In that three weeks there's been a lot of working day shift for training (ugh) in my new job and a lot of switching back and forth between working the "front half" of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) and the "back half" of the week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) but I think now I have something resembling a regular work schedule.  There's been a lot of driving back and forth to work that looks like this:
That photo was taken on the way home the other morning, a fact I'm certain of only because of the side of the road I was driving on.  In the winter, the drive at 6 a.m. looks almost exactly like the drive at 6 p.m.  That photo's symbolic of...well, a lot of things that I'd better not harp on too much.  Y'all probably understand.

There's been a lot of missing baseball and following the off-season trades and being glad I didn't buy that Billy Butler t-shirt after all, since we traded him. 

And finally, there's been a lot of denial about the end of the working-outdoors season.  That's always hard for me, but it was especially difficult this year because I was hell-bent on finishing the outside of the house.  I kinda left y'all hanging about how that went, so I'll fix that in the next post.  

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hey, Winter!

Hey, Winter!   

Yeah, you, dressed all in gray and lurking around the neighborhood.  It's no secret that I really don't like you.  You're that visitor who shows up too early and stays too late and tells the same boring stories over and over:  cold, snow, ice, blah blah blah.  And you're a bully, too.  Every year you and your sister Spring get into big arguments over who's gonna stay and who has to go, and I'm always really glad when Spring kicks your butt and sends you packing.  She's stronger than your sister Autumn.  Poor Autumn.  We all love her so much, and she was doing really well this year.  The best part of her visit was when she let the Royals play in the World Series.  And then you had to come along and ruin everything.  You just ran in and shoved Autumn over, and now I think she's gone.  I hope she's just having a little visit with Summer.  Summer, as you know, is my favorite of all of you (jealous, aren't you?) and she was absolutely wonderful this year.  She stayed a little longer than usual and wasn't as hot-tempered as she sometimes is.  I hope she's telling Autumn to stand right up to you.  But in case she isn't, or just supposing that Autumn is as timid as I think she is, I've got something to say to you, Winter:  Beat it.  You'll have your turn soon enough, you little tyrant. Move over and let Autumn do her thing a bit longer, so I can do mine.  You heard me telling everybody that I wanted to get the outside of the house done before you got here, and you just couldn't stand to see me happy, so you sneaked in here one day when Autumn was at her finest and sent her away.  And I'm mad about it.  I don't like you anyway, but that was low, even for you.  So go on, get outta here.  I mean it.  Scram!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Crime of Stupidity

This is my next-door neighbors' house, the house where Gwen and Floyd live.  I've talked about Gwen and Floyd several times on this blog, because they're wonderful neighbors and they're always ready with words of encouragement about my house.  

Their house was built about the same time mine was or perhaps a few years earlier.  Floyd knows the exact year it was built, but I didn't see him today to ask him.  The house is on a half lot, as is mine, so they're very close together.  This leads us to wonder if the people who built their house and mine might have been relatives or good friends.  The two houses have very similar construction as well, but theirs is a little fancier.  Look at the gingerbread on the front bay--if you bigify the photo and look closely, you can see the teardrop finials on it and the sunburst detail in the corners. That curved porch is beautiful, and look at the details on the brackets and the posts.  Just lovely.

But then there's the matter of that siding...

It's stucco, or "concrete siding" as Floyd calls it, and it was applied to the house sometime in the 1930s. It's not ordinary stucco, which is finished somewhat smoothly. This stuff must have been applied with a trowel or similar tool, and it has a very rough finish.   (Incidentally, the house next door to theirs was stuccoed too, and it's yet another strange stucco finish that looks like gravel.)

I think that siding is hideous.

Let me clarify that--I think it's hideous on that house.  On a little Craftsman cottage or a Tudor, I think it would look good, especially if that stucco finish was original to the house.  But underneath that concrete siding, there are clapboards.  Clapboards fit better with the architecture of the house. Rough stucco is too heavy-looking for this little Victorian.  It doesn't go with the style of the house at all.  To make matters worse, the original window trim was sawed off square and now the windows look buried in the stucco.  Compare those windows to mine, where the window frame sticks out from the house a bit, the sill extends past the frame a tad, and the upper frame is trimmed out with quarter-round.  Whoever decided to stucco this house should have been charged with the crime of stupidity and made to pay a hefty fine of at least ten times whatever it cost to have that junk put on the house.

But is it reversible?  Marion says it is.  He says that before the stucco was applied, firring strips were nailed to the house and then wire mesh (similar to chicken wire but heavier) was attached to the strips.  "Whack it with a hammer a few gazillion times to break up that stucco, pull those strips off there with a pry bar, fill in the holes, and paint it," he says.  Wouldn't that house look adorable if someone did that?  Maybe do it up as a little Painted Lady, with jewel colors picking out the architectural details on the trim and the porch posts...Can't you just see it?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

All The Stuff That Shows

Y'all, the porch is thiiiiis close to being done.  Thursday we put up the other two pieces of spandrel.

And Marion put the gutters on the house.  I did not help with that project because I already used up all my bravery last weekend when I clambered up on the roof at the back of the house to clean out the gutters back there and put on gutter guards. 

We transmogrified the guttering from the old porch. It had been one giant L-shaped gutter, with each leg almost 20 feet long and an outside corner.  We cut it into four separate pieces and mashed it back together with couplings and what Marion calls "gutter gack", which I suspect is not its trade name. When we were finished, the gutter had two inside corners and an outside corner, fit the lines of the house roof perfectly, and is much less obtrusive than hanging gutters on the porch itself.  We just couldn't ruin the new porch by hanging gutters on it.  Nope, no way, no how.  The gutter and downspouts will handle most of the runoff from rain and melting snow, and the little porch roof will have to deal with only what falls directly on it. Hopefully, this will solve the problem I've had in the past when there were no gutters above the porch roof.  In the spring, with the melting snow and the hard rains, the porch roof leaked like a sieve. (This also answers the question that someone had awhile back about how the flat porch roof sheds water--the gutters above it will handle most of it, and the porch roof isn't truly flat, but has a drop of about 5 inches in 7 feet.)

So what's left to do on the front porch?  Just odds and ends. All that's left to nail up are the trim pieces around the ceiling.  The rest is just painting--the spandrel, those trim pieces, bits here and there that I missed.  As Marion said, "All the stuff that shows from the street is finished." I guess that's true if you drive by kinda fast and don't crane your neck too much. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Whole Lotta Paintin' Goin' On

I said if it ever quit raining, I'd make up for lost time.

I said if it stopped raining and it was warmer than 50 degrees, I'd paint and paint and paint.

And I did.

First I finished scraping, caulking and priming the east side of the house.  

Then I painted the spandrel on the front porch.

After that, I painted that big huge wall on the east side of the house, and the spandrel on the side porch, and the eaves of the side porch (note the pale blue), and the window frames and sashes of the three windows on that side of the house.  I did not, however, remember to paint that strip next to the side porch that's still yellow and green.  Gah.  Next week.

Please note that I also installed some steps for the side porch.  Ahem.  Marion is a carpenter; I am an unfolder-of-stepladder.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I got a job, y'all!!

I'm working in the dispatch center of a police department that's in the same city as the fire department I worked for until our, um, separation.  This is good for many reasons:  I already knew several of the dispatchers and officers so I kinda fit in already, my commute is only about five minutes longer than it was before, and it gets me back into police dispatching, which I've missed. 

I have only one tiny complaint:  they put me on day shift for training.  Day shift, y'all.  As in, be at work at six in the morning.  That's just a couple hours past my usual bedtime.  Ugh.  So the last two weeks I've become a daywalker.  (For those of you not comic book geeks like me, that's a vampire who has developed some immunity to the sun.)  I made an impassioned plea to the captain to allow me to train on nights, but he remained unmoved.  Amused, but unmoved.  He did tell me, however, that if I worked very hard to learn that he'd let me move to nights sooner rather than later. I met that challenge and I'll be starting on night shift on Sunday.  Hooray for not having to wake up at 4:30 a.m.!!  Maybe he let me move just so he wouldn't have to hear my whining any longer, but I like to think it's because I'm wicked smart, so we'll go with that.

Twelve hour shifts again, so I'll still have three or four days off every week to work on the house. That's a very good thing, because winter is closing in fast and I'm determined to get the outside of the house done this year. I'm cautiously optimistic.

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Frog On Stilts

Wednesday was a very good day.  A most excellent day, in fact, because this happened:

Marion built half the spandrel and put it up.  

I was over on the east side of the house painting when Mare walked around the corner of the house with a huge grin on his face.  "Come look," he said.  I had my usual reaction to the front porch, which is to say breathlessly, "'s beautiful..." and then get all teary-eyed and blame it on corn dust in the air.  So I was having my little emotional moment and I said to Mare, "It looks sooo beautiful.  Even better than I imagined.  That spandrel makes all the difference."

And Mare replied, "Sure does.  Without it, the porch looked like a frog on stilts."

Trust Marion to snap me right out of my mini-meltdown.

Here's a much closer look at the spandrel:

For those of you interested in such things, that's a 1x6 on the top covering the gap between the header joists, the top and bottom rail of the spandrel are 1x4s, and the bottom is a 2x4 set on edge.  Mare added a piece of cove moulding to the top of the spandrel and a piece of base cap moulding to the bottom to pretty it up.  There's also a little piece of flat moulding at the very top to cover the seam between the spandrel and the header joists, and he'll continue that little piece of trim across the seam where the porch posts meet the header joists too.  

Here's a better photo of the porch, taken at the end of the day after I'd primed half the spandrel.

Four things of note in this photo:

See that icky unpainted bit just below the dark gray soffit and just above the spandrel?  That will be filled in with a piece of crown moulding next time Mare comes back.

There's another icky bit just under the bottom edge of the roof. It shows up as a white line, if you look really close. That's a piece of roof edge (or something) that's metal and it, too, will be covered up with moulding.  That piece of moulding will most likely get painted teal.

Check out the corner posts with the spindle in between them.  That makes my heart go pitter-pat. Mare and I talked about doing that but hadn't made a definite decision before I had to run to the lumberyard for something; when I got back, it was done.  I love it.  It's just the kind of little detail that the porch would have had originally.  (So are those little pieces of moulding he added, for that matter.)

And lastly, note that there is no spandrel down the side of the porch.  Alas, our math skills fail us again.  I got confused when trying to figure out in my head how many spindles I needed and so I asked for help from my favorite math teacher at Wentworth.  She gave me an equation (which still baffled me) and eventually told me that I needed 75 spindles, which would give me a few left over in case of breakage or eventual repair.  Seventy-five spindles seemed like a whole lot.  Mare looked at the 1947 photo of the porch and counted ten spindles in between each post, so I ordered 40 spindles. After building the front two sections of spandrel, we had 6 spindles left. He used 34 spindles.  Um. Ahem. Candy Daniel, you were right. What we failed to consider (but Candy thought of) is that these spindles are much narrower than the original ones must have been. She was calculating using actual dimensions of both the porch and the spindles; we were calculating using kindergarten math. 

And now the rain has moved in again and shows no signs of leaving us for the next several days, so we can't get any outside work done. Frustrating.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eleventy Billion

This is the last big part of the house that still needs to be scraped and painted.

(I'm asking myself again why, WHY, did I leave this huge part for last??)  

I think about a lot of things while I'm out there scraping paint:  baseball (Royals in the postseason for the first time since 1985!), what's for supper, trying to remember whether Louis Cat is inside or outside...but lately I've been thinking about how many times I've run the scraper along the clapboards of this house.  I don't mean how many days I've done it; I mean, how many times have I made that scythe motion back and forth, back and forth?

Eleventy billion, I reckon.  More or less.  Almost there.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Message In A Bottle

We were putting up the porch ceiling a couple of days ago when Marion said, "We should put a time capsule in there."  He does this with all his restorations, and I've always thought it was a great idea.

I got an old Mason jar with a zinc lid out of the box of a dozen I bought at an auction several years ago (really cheap because some of them are Kerr jars with Ball lids!) and assembled the time capsule.

I put in the junky photo of the house in 1906

and the photo of Mr. and Mrs. Kenney from 1947

and the photo of the house in 2006, a week or so after I bought it.

I labeled all the photos so that whoever finds it would understand the evolution of the house, threw in a shiny 2014 penny, and wrote them a letter:

"To Whomever Finds This:
Firstly, I hope you're finding this because you're making repairs to the front porch and not because you're removing it completely or, Heaven forbid, tearing down the house.
This house was built about 1887 by James Crawford Kelly, and some member of his family lived in it until the mid-1950s.  Trails Regional Library (if it still exists when you find this) has a copy of the Kelly Family History, should you want to know more about them.  I bought the house in 2006 after it had stood vacant for several years.  The seller, Marijoe Cameron, told me that she finally decided to sell the house to me because I loved it so much.  I hope that you reading this love the house as much as I do.  She's a lovely old girl.  Please take good care of her.
Jayne Elizabeth Neville
September 24, 2014"

Then I asked Marion if he wanted to write a note as well.  He declined, but suggested that I add a line to my own note saying that I would come back from my grave and haunt anyone who ruined the house.  I thought that was a bit dramatic (although it's true) so I left the note as it was and screwed the lid on the jar tightly.  Marion set the jar in the ceiling just above the front door.

Song of the Day:  Charlie Robison, Photograph 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Before The Snow Flies

My daughter-in-law and I were talking a few nights ago about how different the house looks with the new front porch and how, from some angles, it looks like the house is done and she asked me, "What else do you have to do before winter?"

So I made a list.  (In no particular order.)

1.  Ceiling, trim pieces, and spandrel on the front porch.
2.  Finish painting front porch.
3.  Install guttering above the front porch.
4.  Build railing and steps on the side porch.
5.  Scrape, prime, and paint the last section of the east side of the house.
6.  Rattle-can the wicker furniture.
7.  Weatherstrip the back door.
8.  Put Feed-n-Wax on the front door.
9.  Paint all the bits of the house that I've forgotten to paint.

Sarah looked at me like I'm not quite bright and said, "Before the snow flies?  Sheesh!"

I said, "Obviously I'm gonna have to get up early and work late."

Sarah laughed and said, "Really early and get a floodlight!"

So now I'm thinking that items 1, 2, and 8 could be done by floodlight...or at least porch light.  

I'm posting the list here for accountability purposes.  We'll see.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Theory

I have a theory.

After finding the original color of the house when we pulled the junky porch off (a color which is oddly similar to the current color of the house, only a bit lavender)

And after discovering that the fancy trim on the house was teal at one time, which inspired me to paint it that color again (which in turn caused one of my friends to refer to it disparagingly as "Miami Vice Blue")

And after finding that the fascia boards and corner trim were painted a pale orangey-yellow at one time (which, honestly, a part of me wants to do again if I thought that the Historic Preservation Commission might ever allow it)

I came up with the theory that the house was originally painted in colors to match the panes of stained glass in the front windows.
(Old photo; the curtains are different now.)

So today I decided to repaint the window sashes dark blue (Valspar Royal Navy) instead of black, to go with the blue in the windows.
Not as dramatic a difference as I had hoped.  (The one on the right is navy; the one on the left is black.) But then again, I don't want folks driving onto the sidewalk because they're gawking at my house and saying, "Oh my stars, she painted the window sashes blue!"  It really does show up better in person than in a photo, and I imagine it'll look even better on a sunny day rather than an overcast one like today.

Special thanks to Mayfair Mistress of Queen Anne's Revenge, who first gave me the idea to paint the sashes dark blue. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Thursday and Friday

Thursday morning we got up bright and early.  My entryway looks more like a hardware store than a pretty little foyer.

 In almost no time at all, Mare had one side of the mansard roof shingled. 

And then he shingled the other half, and we put up a metal roof edge.

After that we wandered around a little bit while we waited on the lumberyard to deliver the roof decking and the rest of the roofing materials for the flat part of the roof.  We went to lunch while we waited.  We came back from lunch and waited some more.  At 1:30 p.m. the lumberyard called to say that they wouldn't be able to deliver our supplies that day. This is the third time in as many weeks that this has happened.  Grr. 

So I scraped some more paint off the east side of the house, and I wondered again why I left the most daunting wall on the whole house for last.  Why?  Why??  

Friday morning we got up bright and early again, because the lumberyard said they'd deliver the roof decking "first thing in the morning".  Apparently their idea of "first thing in the morning" is 9:30 a.m.  Grr.  

And then it started raining.  Sigh.

While it was raining, Mare and I stood in the front parlor and talked about how we were going to get five sheets of 5/8" roof decking from the sidewalk to the roof.  One at a time, obviously, but still.  In case y'all are also small people who aren't super-strong (or if you're just curious) this is how we did it:  we set up two ladders a few feet apart, picked up a sheet of plywood, leaned it against the ladder, and pushed it up as high as we could while standing on the ground.  Then I held up the plywood all by myself  and channeled my inner Xena Warrior Princess as Mare ran over, climbed up the other ladder, balanced on the rafters, and grabbed the top of the plywood.  He pulled and I pushed while climbing up a rung or two on the ladder until we had the damn thing wrestled onto the rafters.  This was not fun.  At all.

All hail the first sheet of plywood, nailed in place.

Four more times of wrestling plywood (only two more of which were full sheets) and the porch roof was decked.
See that roll of black stuff in the photo above?  That's rubber roofing.  It gets rolled out and glued down like giant strips of wallpaper.  Only a bigger pain in the hiney.

Especially when there's only about an inch and half between the porch roof and the eaves of the house roof.  So I made an applicator out of a paint stirrer, a sock, and a rubber band so that my son could get the glue all the way back to the edges of the porch roof.  The rest of the glue was rolled onto both the roof decking and the rubber roofing with a paint roller on a pole.

And then the wind came up and blew a flap of the rubber roofing over onto itself so that it stuck together, and without thinking Mare ran over to pull it apart, stepped in the glue, and nearly became a part of the roof himself.  I would've taken a photo but I was too busy laughing and trying to act like I was having a coughing fit so that Mare wouldn't get mad at me. 

Later I got this photo, though, which is even better.
Judging by the goofy look on his face, I'd say Marion is pretty happy that the roof's done.

I probably had a goofy look on my face too, after we stood in the middle of the street and looked at the porch for awhile. 

It almost looks finished, doesn't it?  Almost.  Except that there's no ceiling in it, it doesn't have spandrel, and it's not painted...

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Say Hello To My Little Friend

I think the gable vent on the front of my house looks junky.  A few years ago one of the louvers blew off in a storm and couldn't be reattached (WTB tried) so it's had this big gap in it ever since.  Thursday morning I told Mare that I'd like to replace the gable vent. Instead of answering me, he went striding off and took a lap around the house.  I'm used to this by now; it means he's thinking about something before he answers.  "I've got a better idea, " he said.  "You've got two more gable vents at either end of the cross gables, so you don't really need this one.  Let's just take it out and side over the opening."  I thought this was an excellent idea, since I already had some extra clapboards that my neighbor Chris gave me and so this little project wouldn't cost me a dime.  Mare picked out a couple of clapboards that he could cut to the right length, climbed up onto the little roof at the front of the house, and yanked off the gable vent.  "Oh, shit!" he yelled.  This is never good. I ran over to the front of the house and saw him standing at the very edge of the roof holding the gable vent and laughing.  "We might wanna rethink this project," he said, "after you see what's up here."

I climbed up the ladder and looked where he was pointing, and this is what I saw:
That roundish object to the right of center is a bat.  A very small bat, about three inches long.  I think it's a Little Brown Bat.  (That's really the name of one of the most common kinds of bats in Missouri.)  "Aww, ain't he cute?" I said to Mare.  "We can't make him homeless.  Let's just put the vent back where it was."  So Mare very carefully, so as not to mash my little friend, put the gable vent back on and then he even more carefully painted the vent.  The bat didn't think much of this whole project and he grumbled a little bit about it (Mare heard him growling) but I think he's happier now that we're back down on the ground and he's all alone again.

Bats are so cool.  They eat thousands and thousands of bugs every summer, so I'm hoping he likes his little home in my gable vent and decides to chomp up a whole bunch of mosquitoes in my yard.  Porch-sitting will be so much nicer without mosquitoes.  

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Yesterday (Wednesday) was not a good day for me.  Too many days of not sleeping well caught up with me and I was in a mental fog most of the day, even after catching an unexpected three-hour nap Wednesday morning during a thunderstorm.  So thick was my mental fog that I sat here for several minutes comparing the photos from Tuesday and Wednesday and thinking, "What the heck did we do on Wednesday??" 

Here's Tuesday's photo, in case you missed it:

And here's Wednesday's photo:

Blink.  Blink, blink.  Oh, now I remember!  Wednesday we attached 2x4s to the header joists and then nailed small blocks to the 2x4s.  It's all part of the support for the soffit that we built today. 

Today we started out bright and early...and then we got bogged down.  The local lumberyard didn't have the lumber we needed but thought they could get it by noon, so Mare and I suspended the porch-building in favor of scraping paint.  I was on the east side (that big, yucky-looking yellow wall y'all see in my photos of the porch) and Mare was on the little roof above the stained glass windows at the front of the house.  He managed to get his section of the house scraped, primed, and painted.  I managed to get two blisters on my right hand while scraping eight clapboards.  When the lumber hadn't arrived by 1:30 in the afternoon, I went over to the lumberyard thinking they hadn't delivered it because I hadn't paid for it.  There I discovered that the lumberyard had been having One Of Those Days and they hadn't been able to get my lumber after all. That meant ordering the lumber from the lumberyard across the river and driving over there to pay for it, which meant the actual porch-building didn't start until 3:00 p.m. today.

It didn't take long to build the soffit.  I mean, the soffit and the fascia.

While we were putting that together, Mare informed me that I'm using the term soffit incorrectly and that it refers only to the boards at the bottom of the header joists and not to the whole "box" we built in front of them.  He says what I'm calling the soffit is actually the soffit and fascia.  Alrighty then. 

After that came the super-exciting part.  I'm not even kidding.  It really is super-exciting. It's so exciting that apparently I couldn't even focus my camera correctly, so sorry this photo is a little wonky.

We put 1x8s over the mansard rafters as roof decking, and now you can imagine what the roof will look like when it's done.  Doesn't that look great?!?!

I asked (because I wanted to know and because I knew y'all would want to know, too) why Mare decided to use 1x8s as decking there instead of regular plywood roof decking.  He said that the 1x8s are much sturdier and will make a better and sharper roof line.   I for one think the roof line looks pretty dang sharp. (I admit that he might not have meant "sharp" the way that I just used it.  Oh well.)

After we got the last 1x8 up there I ran out into the street to look at the porch.  I did in fact yell "Holy hell!" and jump up and down before I recovered my sensibilities. Then I ran back, got Mare, and made him close his eyes and walk out into the middle of the street while saying to him, "Don't open em yet, don't open em yet."  (Does this man trust me or what??)  When I finally said, "Okay, open em" and Mare saw the whole beautiful porch from a little distance, something remarkable occurred that's never before happened in the whole history of our friendship:  Mare was speechless.  We stood there in the middle of the street just staring at the porch and grinning like fools for several minutes.  Then a car came down the street and broke the spell and Mare said, "Go get us some of those doo-hickeys."  It's a mark of our 20-year friendship that I knew immediately that he meant hard cider.  So we sat on the steps of Mr. Carl's house drinking Hornsby ciders and staring at the porch until almost dark.  If y'all had been sitting there with us (and how cool would that be?!) this is what we would've been staring at:
The porch looks more finished than it really is.  There's no decking on the middle of it yet, just on the sloped part.  It needs shingles and rubber roofing, of course.  Spindles between the posts, too.  A little strip of moulding here and there.  And paint.  A whole lot of paint.  I'll get on that tomorrow.  Mare has other obligations, and I have work, so a week from today is the next porch-building day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Itty Bitty Work Day

We had an itty bitty work day before I went to work at The Real Job tonight. (Where, by the way, I have six more shifts because they've extended the shutdown date from the 2nd to the 15th of this month.) The rest of the main rafters are now up, and we have just a couple of little stubby ones to hang tomorrow.  That hip rafter's still sticking way out there taunting us, but Marion says he has a plan for it.  My guess is that the plan is to leave it sticking out there until we finish the soffit around the header joists, and then trim it off even.  At least, that's my plan for it because I can't figure out how to cut it off accurately any other way. 

As we were planning the work schedule for the next couple of days, Marion declared, "We'll be just about done with this thing by Thursday afternoon."  I think my idea of "just about done" and his might be a bit different.  We still have the soffit around the header joists to build, the stubby rafters, the decking, the beadboard ceiling, the flat rubber roof, the shingled roof on the mansard (sloped) part, the spandrel (spindles kinda like a ladder that go in between the posts), a gutter to cut and hang, and a decision to make about whether or not we're building a railing with balusters.  It doesn't seem possible that we can get all that done by Thursday afternoon, does it?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Rafters And A Rainout

Our goal on Friday was to hang the last two ledger boards (the boards nailed to the house that the porch is attached to) and hang all the rafters.

We hung the ledger boards with no trouble.  (And I forgot to take photos, but it's not really that exciting.)

Then we started in on the rafters. 

With the first three rafters up, you can start to see how the porch roof will tuck in just under the eaves of the house. 

I could never have figured out how to make the slope of the mansard roof just right.  Good thing Mare has built quite a few of these and has it down to a science.  From bottom up, first the ceiling joist, then the "Pat piece" to add a little height, and then the rafter.  Here Mare's marking the edge of the rafter so he knows where to cut it.
Then he marks the angle with an angle tool and one or the other of us (almost always him) cuts the rafter to length and we nail it in.  Repeat as necessary. 

We got about half the rafters done on the front side of the porch.

And about half the rafters done on the east side of the porch.

And then we hung the big hip joist and the hip rafter and stood there on ladders going "Uhhhh...." for longer than we probably should have because we couldn't quite figure out how to cut those two pieces of lumber to length.  That's why they stick way out there at the corner and look dorky.  See, the edges of them have to be lined up with the joists and rafters on both the front and the side of the porch and that has us temporarily stymied.  I said, "I think we should've hung two of 'em and cut one even with the front and the other even with the side so they come together at the end kinda mitered like."  And Mare said, "Something like that is probably gonna happen."  

Then we continued to stand on the ladders and ponder this until my friend Chris walked into the front yard and said, "Are ya gonna stand on them ladders all day?!" and I said, "We're just trying to figure out this stupid hip rafter."

At which point Mare said, "Hip rafter.  That sounds like a country music singer."

And I said, "Hip Rafter, appearing Friday night at the Snorty Horse Saloon."

And Chris said, "Y'all are crazy."

Which everybody already knows, right??

Shortly after that it poured down rain and we retreated to the Mexican restaurant for chimichangas and a good visit with our friend John while we waited out the thunderstorm.

When I got home, I took a couple more photos of the porch.

I might be in love with this porch already.

I mean, really. I think this porch is The One.

Today I'm going to finish priming all the porch posts (we primed them on sawhorses, so there are spots we missed) and go around and get rid of that yellow stripe around the top there, and maybe paint some of that trim if I have time, and then I'm going down to my friend Doug's farm to make some salsa because I have a bumper crop of tomatoes and there are only so many BLTs one woman can eat.

Porch construction resumes on Tuesday afternoon.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Meet Pat

Do you know what this is?
It's not just a pile of lumber.  It's pure potential.

Pure potential that soon became ceiling joists.

Ceiling joists that had angled ends, because they'll eventually be part of the slope of the little mansard roof on the front porch.

Meet Pat.  Pat Tern.
Pat is a great little gal.  She's the Dolly the Clone Sheep of lumber.  Pat is the first, the original, of what Marion described as "somewhere between a gob and a shitload" of small pieces of lumber that also help to make the slope of the mansard roof. Here's Pat hard at work:

And here are Pat's clones nailed into place at the ends of the ceiling joists:
(And a hammer that I left hanging on the header joist.  It's still there.)

See how the angled ends of the ceiling joists and the angled ends of Pat's clones make up the slope of the mansard roof?
(In case you're wondering, "somewhere between a gob and a shitload" turns out to be 20.  Pat plus 19 of her clones.)

Tomorrow, we'll hang rafters.  So.  Excited.