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?