Monday, June 30, 2014

Dirty Work

With the front porch demolished, I was left with two ginormous, ugly heaps of debris.

This one, on the front porch:
 And this one, in the side yard:
I was also left with the problem of what to do with all that junk.  Most of it was too big to fit in a trashcan, so renting a dumpster seemed like a good idea--that is, until I found out the trash company charges $220 for a small dumpster.  That was about twice what I'd budgeted for debris removal, and y'all know how cheap I am.  After about a week of pondering various options, I learned that a town 45 minutes away has a landfill that allows non-residents to dump there, so a friend with muscles and a truck and trailer came over and we hauled all that junk to the landfill.  It was 93 that day with 80% humidity and strong winds.  Standing on the back of the truck throwing stuff into a big dumpster felt like being in the hubs of Hell.  I don't think I've ever been more hot, filthy, and tired.

But now it's gone, except for this little pile of junk that I need to scoop up into trash bags.
That is, if it ever stops raining.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Can I Get A Witness?

The best thing about having the old front porch gone is that now I can see the witness marks of the original porch.  See that dark band underneath the eaves?  That's the original roofline.  

I suspected, from looking at the two old photos that I have of the house, that the original porch was a little bit smaller than the one that was built in the 1960s.  The witness marks confirm that the original porch roof was even with the side of the house, not sticking past it a foot or so like the recently departed one.

Here's another close-up of the witness marks, because you just can't post too many photos of old clapboards covered with leaves and dirt.

Next Wednesday (the 25th) Mare will be here to take measurements of those witness marks and draw a diagram of what the new construction will look like.  I'll need that to attach to my building permit application. 

Because of another job he's working on and a trip to Montana and Wyoming, Mare won't be able to start work on the new porch until the end of July.  That's okay, because I have plenty to do in the meantime.  I need to have all that demolition debris hauled away first, which will either be easy but expensive, or cheap but difficult.  (Still working out the particulars.)  Then I'll scrape and paint the eaves of the house, which will be a lot easier to do with no porch in the way.  Between rain and OT at work, it may take me a month to accomplish all that. 

And just so you know, while I was writing this post, I was singing this in my head:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Not Exactly As Planned

On Friday morning the house looked like this:

The guys promised me that they'd have the porch off the house by nightfall.  I was skeptical.

They started by knocking down the last big piece of the roof.

That's my son, Dylan, on the right and his friend Steve on the left.  Here's what they said, in case you can't hear them over that incessant bird-chirping:

Dylan:  Well, that worked out better than I thought it would.
Steve:  I'm most impressed with the fact that it didn't kill us.

Encouraged by their success with that, they decided to start removing the "edges" of the porch--that rim of clapboards above the porch posts--by using a chainsaw to cut through the clapboards on either side of the porch posts, and then lowering each chunk of clapboards, porch post, and brackets to the ground with cord so the porch posts and brackets wouldn't be damaged.  It was a beautiful plan.

Now might be a good time to mention that neither Dylan nor Steve is a structural engineer.

I had such confidence in this plan that I didn't even bother to watch.  I thought it would be boring.  So I went out to the little strip of garden between my front sidewalk and the street to pull weeds.  

About ninety seconds later, after a brief burst of chainsaw buzzing, I heard a giant CRRRRAAAAACCCKKK and Steve yelled, "It's going!  It's going!"  I turned around in time to see Dylan leap off the porch and into the side yard as the entire structure of the porch slowly twisted and began falling towards the house.  Towards the house.  I screamed like a little girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  Dylan and Steve were yelling, the porch was making a horrible splintering noise and--

And about this time my elderly neighbors arrived home from the grocery store and heard the screaming and the terrible noise of the porch falling.  Floyd shouted from their back yard, "Everybody okay?!"  Of course, we couldn't hear him.  Because we were still screaming.

I ran towards the house and yelled, "Door!  Door!"  Steve raised his arms up in front of him in a sort of Wonder-Woman-golden-cuffs pose.  Like that would stop either him or the door from being smashed.

WHOMP!!  The porch hit the floor.  When I stopped screaming and my hands stopped shaking, I took this photo.

The only casualties were Dylan's bottle of Gatorade, which took a direct hit and burst open, and the charger to his Sawzall.  The porch twisted as it fell and somehow missed hitting either the house or Steve.  Miraculously, not a single one of the porch posts or brackets was damaged.  In another stroke of incredible good luck, the brackets separated from the posts, and the posts from the top of the porch, so we didn't even have to knock them apart.  

The three of us were still laughing about our good fortune when Floyd's wife Gwen crept around the side of the house, her eyes wide.  "I heard a crash and yelling, and then I didn't hear anything, and for a moment I thought the three of you had been mashed," she said.  Gwen looked around at the front yard, with the porch posts splayed out and Gatorade streaming down the sidewalk and said, "Well, that went not exactly as planned."  Um, no, not exactly.  About two-thirds of one cut with the chainsaw and the whole thing came tumbling down.

But hey, the porch is gone! And in far less time than anyone predicted.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I Can't See It

This is not just a photo of the back of my house showing that I finished painting it.  (Jan, please note that I even painted the electric meter!)
 Nope.  It's more than that.  It's a photo of what denial looks like. It's a photo of an oasis.  Because I can sit back here on my patio, look around, and not see any giant projects that need to be completed.  (I do need to paint the window sashes and trim and replace the storm door, but that's just a day's work so it hardly counts.)  Sitting back here, I can't see the stack of scrap lumber under the carport.  I can't see the east side of the house that's two-thirds unpainted.  I can't see the ginormous heap of demolition debris that's piled up over there, either.  

And I can almost pretend that the disaster on the front porch doesn't exist because I can't see it.  Sigh.

This week, the boys tell me, this week if it doesn't rain the front porch demolition will be finished.  

ps:  If you click on the photo to bigify it, you can see Louis Cat's pitiful face in the bedroom window.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


I'm still really excited about that witness mark above the front door.  Which is good, because between rain and weird work schedules, we haven't been able to do any more work on the front porch demolition.

But little by little over the past few days, I did manage this:

Yep, I scraped off the rest of the loose paint and primed.  I even caulked a little bit.

Libbi Dog offered me moral support and kisses when the going got tough.

I'm hoping for good weather and a high degree of motivation this week to get the back of the house finished up.

Who thinks that the fabric on the patio furniture cushions needs to be replaced with something brighter?