Friday, June 10, 2016

Just A Little Paint

I've spent a whole lot of time on my front porch this year, just sitting and doing nothing.  I don't feel guilty about this in the least.  After all, the whole purpose of having a nice front porch is to sit on it, right? 

But sometimes when I was sitting out there I'd look up at the spandrel on the east side of the porch and feel a little twinge.  See how it looks just a little ratty?  That's because I primed the spindles  and the trim pieces before Marion put the spandrel together, and then I never got around to painting the whole spandrel.  

Whoops.  Sometimes it bothered me enough that I waited until dark to go sit on the porch so I wouldn't have to see the unpainted spandrel.  Gradually I realized that's not really a good solution to the problem.

But painting it is.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Have A Seat; or, Hamster Wheel

The roof over the back bedroom leaks.  This is not news.  It's been leaking for a couple of years, not badly and not even every time it rains, so it hasn't been a priority.  But lately I've been thinking that a good indoor project for rainy days or hot-as-hell days would be to redo the back bedroom (which is an unmitigated disaster) and it doesn't make sense to put in drywall and new flooring and other nice things when the roof leaks.  So now the roof is a priority. 

It's also somewhat terrifying, because it's a flat roof and I'd like to put a Firestone roof on it like the one on the front porch, and a Firestone roof is expensive.  By the way, the proper name for this kind of roof is EPDM, but Marion has always called it "Firestone roof" so now I do too, even though Firestone is not the manufacturer and nobody else calls it that.  EPDM.  Firestone.  Rubber.  All synonyms for expensive.

I finally went down to the lumberyard and asked how much it would actually cost.  Ed at the lumberyard said, "'s expensive."  Ed knows I am a cheapskate.  I replied, "Just expensive, or like super expensive?" 

So Ed and I went back to the office and he got out a calculator and then made a couple of phone calls and then wrote it all down.  And then he said, "Whew."  

And I said, "Are you gonna tell me how much it is?"

And Ed went over to to the copier and said, "Nope.  I'm gonna make a copy of this and hand it to you and you can read it."

"Oh, hell,"  I said.

"Have a seat over there," he said. 

So I went and sat down and then he handed me the thing folded over so I couldn't see it and pass out right away, and I unfolded it and there it was:  $721.17.  For a roof that's 15 feet by 19 feet.  Seven hundred actual dollars. 

"Wow," I said, and let out the breath I'd been holding, "that is expensive.  Not super expensive, though, but still expensive.  I have to think about it."

These are my thoughts: 

On the one hand, spending more than about 250 bucks at one time makes me panicky. 

But on the other hand, not doing something right the first time really bothers me. (Remember the front porch and the first time we re-did it?  It looked a lot better, but it still wasn't right, and it bothered me for five years until I got over my panic at spending a lot of money and did it right.)

But on the other-other hand, I don't have a lot of money and $700 cuts into the budget for other things I want to do--things like fixing up my hideously ugly bedroom that has no ceiling and bare subfloor that tilts towards the back of the house (for reals, it is hideous), remodeling the two bathrooms, and refinishing the floors in a couple of rooms.  Most of that, honestly, falls under Stuff I Want To Do rather than Stuff I Need To Do, although living in a house that's half-pretty and half-ugly is starting to affect my mental well-being.

On the other-other-other hand, Marion thinks that one of the leaks might be caused by cracks in the tar around the stack pipe, and the other one might be caused by a clogged downspout that's making water back up into the gutter and seep into the seam between the roof and the side of the house.  (This is also Chris The Contractor's theory.) Mare says that overall, the existing roof--which is a torch-down roof--looks good.  If we tar the stack pipe, clean out the downspout, and put on gutter guards and that fixes the problem, then he thinks I could buy myself 4 or 5 years before I'd have to replace the roof.  I already have an almost-full can of tar and the gutter guards (which I was planning to put on anyway) so the cost of repair would be zero dollars. Zero dollars is better than seven hundred dollars.  Money is tight, but I have $700; for various reasons, in 4 or 5 years money won't be so tight. 

Welcome to the hamster wheel of my thinking.  What do y'all think I should do?

Monday, June 6, 2016


The church down the street from my house has a special place in my heart.  Mr. Kelly donated the land to the church and contributed money to its construction in 1870, several years before he and his wife Louisa built this house I live in now.  At least part of the reason they built their house here, on this street, is that it's just a short walk down the block to their church.  So when I heard the fire department was outside the church (which is now a private residence) I ran down the street to see what had happened. 

A firefighter had just climbed to the top of the ladder to get a better look at the church steeple.  My neighbor Vic told me, "Lightning knocked me off the porch and I guess it hit the church."  At first I took him literally and thought that lightning had thrown him from the chair on his porch, but since Vic himself was not singed and his hair wasn't standing on end I assume he meant that it startled him.  

We walked over to his yard and Vic showed me the tin ornament from the top of the steeple.  "I found that out in the street smoldering so I filled it up with water and carried it over here," he said. 

The fire department doused the steeple with water.

After a little while, that firefighter came down and another one (Assistant Chief Mike Harrison) went up. He stepped off the ladder to get a better look.  Don't worry, he's still tethered to the ladder with a safety line.

He removed a couple of louvers to get a water line in there and then doused a small fire in the top part of the steeple.  Other firefighters checked the rest of the tower and the building for fire and other damage from the lightning, but it seemed to be contained to just this part of the building.  The people who live there weren't home at the time of the fire, but their pets were in the building and they're all okay.  One of the firefighters described it as moderate damage to the steeple, but the church sanctuary (which is still in its original condition) wasn't damaged.

No injuries and not much damage to an historic building.  All in all, a good day.