Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Big Discovery

We made a big discovery a couple of days ago on the front porch:  the original roof line!

For best results click to bigify.

The boys uncovered it above the front door.  When they pulled off the existing roof and I saw that, I was really excited and started yelling, "Look, unpainted clapboards!  Look!  That must be the original roof line!" Dylan and Steve looked at me like I was crazy.  That may have been because they were being attacked by a swarm of thousands of ants at the time, and I was making them stop work so I could take that photo.

But I continued undaunted.  "Don't you think it's exciting?!  I knew we'd be able to see the original roof line at some point after you got all the new stuff off the house, and there it is!  I thought it'd be higher than it is now, too, because I knew, I just knew, that the original roof line wouldn't have been lower than the trim around the windows!  I bet when you guys get to the side I'll be able to see the original pitch of the roof, and I bet it's not as flat as it is now!  Why aren't you guys more excited about this?!  I mean, that's the whole point of doing this."

Dylan said, "That might be the point of it for you.  For us, the point is to finish it up so we don't have to deal with this crap anymore."

I guess it's less exciting when it's you doing the work and being attacked by ants.  

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Coal Miner's Despair

A couple of days ago a For Sale sign appeared in the yard of White Trash Bob's house.  Or, more correctly, what used to be WTB's house.  Seeing that sign kinda put the period at the end of the sentence that WTB has really and truly left us.  Sigh.

But WTB wouldn't want me to be all maudlin about it.  So enough of that.

What you ought to know is that it's a great house, a really great house that was well-tended by someone who loved it, a sturdy brick Victorian built in 1895 by a coal miner or coal mine owner or something, and Bob always jokingly called it The Coal Miner's Despair. The kitchen is gorgeous and it has a cooktop in the island.  (Swoon!)  The neighborhood is beautiful, really one of the best in my little town, and you can boast that you live in the Old Neighborhoods National Register Historic District.  All that, and you'd be my across-the-street neighbor, too, if you bought WTB's house!  (I'll try to keep that as a plus to buying the house, not a minus.)

Oh, you want to know what it looks like?  Well, here's a link to the listing.  Lots of photos there.  

ps:  Long-time readers may recall when I nearly listed my own house for sale, and at the time I said I knew two realtors who I would trust with my life.  The realtors who have the listing for WTB's house are those realtors.  They love old houses, and it shows. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Auntie T-Rex Works

Ever since I broke my collarbone last fall, my nephews Cody and Ramsey have called me Auntie T-Rex.  Never mind that I haven't been in a splint or sling since December, this nickname appears to be here to stay.  Ramsey called me this afternoon and I told him I was taking a break from scraping paint off the house.  "Rawr!" he said, "Auntie T-Rex is working!"  

Indeed, I was.  Though it doesn't look like it, all the clapboards below that big swath of white primer are done.  The paint that's left on there is from just a few years ago and it's not a quarter-inch thick and alligatored like the rest of the old paint, so it can stay.  Tomorrow, weather permitting, I'm hoping to get the rest of the scraping done and to get a coat of primer on there.  Rawr!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Not Bad

Friday afternoon the back of the house looked like this:
By Friday evening it looked like this:
Not bad for a half-day's work.

Based on that success, having six nights off in a row, and a promising weather report, I think maybe I can get the back of the house done this week.  Stay tuned.

Monday, May 12, 2014


My friend Paulie and I were talking a few days ago.  "How goes the porch demolition?" he asked me.

"Not so great," I replied.  "It's slow going because there are three layers of roofing, two layers of decking, a lot of joists, and nails about every three inches.  The damn thing's overbuilt."

He laughed.  "You are complaining because something's built too well?  That's a first."

I suppose he's right.  But the porch really is overbuilt.

How overbuilt?

Well, Dylan's friend Steve (who's helping Dylan with the demo) has been a contractor for thirteen years and he said today, "This is the worst roof I have ever seen.  Ever."

And then there's this:

That's my son hanging by one hand from the porch ceiling. After the joists have been cut through.  

So there wasn't much hope on Saturday that any real progress would happen.  But they persevered.  And by "persevered" I mean that they got really mad and started whacking at the thing with axes and sledgehammers and pulling on it with giant crowbars and cussing until the air was blue.

And between all that on Saturday and further serious effort on Sunday, the porch looked like this:

All of the roof gone but the very edges, where the joists stick out over the fascia.  (Is that right?  Fascia?)

They cut those "roof edges" into chunks with a Sawzall and pried them off.

And now, about 95% of the roof is gone.  Hooray!  And my front door is open, to keep from breaking the glass in it.  Not just to "cool the outdoors" as my friend Chris said. (Yes, it's already warm enough here for A/C.)

See those clapboards above the porch posts?  Next workday, Dylan and Steve will cut through those (they're not original to the house) with a chainsaw and take out that part of the structure in small pieces.  To avoid breaking either the posts or the decorative brackets (which Mare hand-made) they'll cut close to the ends of the brackets and take out post and all in a chunk.  

I was so delighted that the roof is gone that I almost forgot I had to go to work Sunday night, so I didn't have time to clean up the demolition mess. This is what the porch and the front yard looked like when I left:


Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Hey, look!  The hole in the porch roof is bigger!  Or, as I said to one of my friends when I stumbled over my words, "biggerer".  

It's really hard to take a decent photo of the porch roof--or what's left of it--while standing on the porch.  I should send my camera up on the roof with my son so you can see the progress better, but in the meantime this not-very-good photo will have to do.

The porch is L-shaped, and now the roof over the longer end of the L is gone.  All that's left of the roof is that area over the front door that you can kinda see in the photo.  Hopefully, that will be gone soon.  We have to work around the weather and our weird job schedules to get anything done.

Our fervent hope is that, once the roof is gone, the rest of the demolition will go pretty quickly.  The guys took the gutter off a couple of weeks ago, and as soon as the roof's all gone, they'll start sawing through the edges and take them out in big chunks.  Or that's the idea, anyhow.  The reality might turn out to be something completely different.  Along the way they'll save those porch posts (which aren't old; they're from Home Depot) and the decorative brackets next to them that Mare made so we can re-use them.  And then I'll have to track down Mare, who's been MIA since the demolition started, to see if he's still going to build the new porch.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How I Spent My Vacation

So I took a couple of vacation days, and apparently that vacation extended to the blog, too.  Oops.  Here's a promise I'll post more often, and a rundown of what I've been doing so we're all caught up.

I should not be left unsupervised on rainy days when there's a paint rebate going on at Lowe's, because this happens:

My kitchen went from yellow to blue.  I've wanted a turquoise-y blue kitchen for several years, and now I have one.  (The color is Lake Country by Valspar.)  

After my son scolded me for never doing anything fun on my days off  (what?? scraping paint is fun!) I saw the wisdom of his advice and my mom and I went to Hilltop Farm & Greenhouse and bought the stuff to make fairy gardens.

Here's hers:
And one of mine that she helped me with:
And another one I made later after getting home and wishing I'd bought that cute little gnome with the lawnmower (I just had to go back for him!):
It wasn't all fun, though.  I had to go to the Courthouse to straighten out my personal property taxes.  Ugh.  As usual, I got distracted by the tile floor in there.
Isn't that beautiful?  I love that Greek key border.

The balusters on the railing of the staircase to the second floor courtroom caught my eye, too.

And look at that decorative trim along there.  Little details like that just aren't done much anymore.  The Lafayette County Courthouse was built in 1847 and is the oldest courthouse west of the Mississippi still in use as a courthouse.  I've been in it thousands of times, but I still gawk at the architectural details of it.

I caught up on all my tv shows on Hulu.  Wasn't the season finale of Scandal just jaw-dropping??  I like Olivia with Jake.  I think.  That whole show is just cah-razy.  Once Upon A Time is my current favorite show.  That guy who plays Captain Killian Hook....drool-worthy.  And now one of my friends has gotten me hooked on Resurrection.  I have a feeling that's a one-season show.

Of course, it wouldn't be days off without at least a little paint-scraping.
That bottom part is ready for primer, so the nail holes and cracks jump out against the white primer, and then some caulk.  Jan said I need two good work days and I'll be done with the front of the house.  I think I need two good work days, a taller ladder, and counseling to help me overcome my fear of heights.  

Work continues on the front porch demolition.  More about that next time.