This Old House, Glaser Edition

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Sanford and Son

Door No MoreCaulked Ceiling

Tammy's brother and co-worker covered one of the hall closet doors and prepped more walls for painting. They spent the afternoon at Lowe's restocking supplies, purchasing wall paint, and ordering the bathroom tile.
Between the Cookhouse and GaragePear Tree and the Dog YardWhy We Need a Privacy FenceOur Yard, Looking to the WestWeeds running wild in our overgrown back yard were blocking the view of the outhouse. Weeds choked the fenced-in dog pen. A landscaping crew cleared out the entire back yard. They demolished the outhouse and yanked three clotheslines poles, probably meant to withstand a nuclear blast. The poles were ten feet tall, five of which were underground, secured by two blocks of concrete. They removed an old awning lying next to the cookhouse, junk, and wild bamboo. They trimmed the pear tree, bearing fruit for Tammy's mother to can.

There is a catch! We can see not only our yard, but also the one behind us, unoccupied due to the death of the owner. We took a peek in the shed back there; it is full of old junk: refrigerators, diverse parts, rocking chairs, and anything that could possibly rust. The first item on our landscaping list is a privacy fence lining the back yard! If you know of any pretty bush or vine that can grow fast enough in Zone 8 to cover all that, drop us a comment!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Ludicrous Speed!

Today the contractors finished caulking the wooden ceilings and repainted them. The ceilings definitely have a more finished look (except for the master bathroom, which they are still prepping). They also reduced the number of doors in the hall closet to a reasonable number (one). Tammy spent the day at Lowe's finalizing her color choices for the rooms upstairs. After awhile, her eyes began to see plaid like the heroes of Spaceballs when "Spaceball One" engaged the hyperactive drive and went into ludicrous speed. After awhile, she felt as dizzy as Lord Helmet did after he crashed into the bulkhead, staggered about the deck, and mumbled to his crew, "Smoke 'em if you got 'em."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Our Comely Winch

David's Ceiling

Back to the ceilings! Tammy's brother and co-worker spent the day with the painfully tedious task of detailing the ceilings: adding small amounts of mud, letting it dry, and sanding all the crevices between molding and wall. Old houses settle, so nothing is truly square: from door frames to the air intake vent mentioned in the last post. To get a smooth look, mud and caulking are the way to go. Three rooms upstairs have wooden ceilings, never covered by sheet rock. We are keeping them even if covered in several layers of paint. As you can see in the picture, the ceiling has many gaps, which the contractors are covering with caulking and mud, depending upon how wide. We thought Michelangelo had it bad!

Our Comely Winch

Tammy, her father, and the electrician discovered a leak when we were down in the "basement" with the electrician yesterday. It must be new because the very thorough home inspector did not find it, nor did we notice it last Friday when we were trying to trace back the old wiring. Tammy's brother crawled under the house (a dusty, dirty job) and found a leaky elbow pipe--an easy fix. (Steve is missing all the fun--he is on a business trip.)

The thing that most amuses us about our "basement" is the door. The basement is really only big enough for the family (plus a few friends and neighbors) to duck and cover in case of a tornado. The door to the basement is very heavy, but one person can open it easily. Holding it up without getting a head concussion is another matter. We use a winch *not wench* to hold the door for us. You can see the winch in the upper left corner of the picture, which brings back fond memories of when the Glasers were "haze gray and underway." That's Navalese for sailing. Mmmm . . . block and tackle . . .

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Calling All Artists!

If you have slogged through over a week of posts, you can quickly tell we are rank amateurs. We need your help. We covered the old, inoperable, irreparable air vent with lightwood (it is more cost effective than ripping it out). A flat white board with a frame lurks underneath the plastic protecting it from the popcorn texture spray-a-thon. We want to do something decorative, and here are the parameters: it must be lightweight, fitting into a Victorian theme, matching green tones on the walls in the hallway, inexpensive but not cheesy, and not tacky. Just click “comments” and float some ideas our way. We need a lifeline from anyone with taste.
BEFORE: Old Monstrous Air Vent
MIDWAY: Covered Monstrous Air Vent

By the way, the lamps pictured above are the ones we were going to foolishly toss out and replace with Tiffany lamps!

Where is a Camera When You Need It?

Today Steve cleaned the mildew off the porch roof with Jomax. He climbed a ladder up to the dry roof and sprayed away. He did not realize that Jomax turns mildew into a slick gel. Steve started sliding down the roof, facing the windows. He grabbed the shutters, which he has confirmed are firmly attached to the house. Tammy’s father saw him hanging onto the shutters, kicking madly, and just had to ask Steve why he wanted to rip off perfectly sound shutters. He made it across the street just in time to catch Steve, who is short and light. Steve also discovered a live and uncovered socket cut into the wall of the house. It was hard to miss sparks flying while spraying the porch! We can laugh at it because Steve walked away unhurt. God is going to have to assign him a full-time angel until we finish this renovation.

An electrician familiar with the wiring in our house came over to explain why it has old and new wiring mixed together. Apparently, the previous owner could not fund the entire project with a different contractor, so she hired him to do his best with what little she had. We will have to adjust the budget slightly to cover new wiring when copper is most pricey. In a way, we are glad because he informed us that the hanging lights in the upstairs hallway are original. He rewired them for her. We had already decided to replace them with something "more Victorian-looking" from Lowe’s. Are we amateurs, or what?

Week Two, Already!

We bought a riding lawnmower from the local Sears appliance store in town. We were too thrifty to pay the $50 delivery fee, so Steve drove the thing home on Saturday! He rode through the neighborhoods behind the store and zigzagged his way 0.58 miles to our house (according to Mapquest). This is not as odd as it sounds. One old man in the neighborhood could not afford a car, but he could afford a riding lawnmower. He used to drive it all over town until the police got on his case over that. FYI, Steve didn't receive any moving violations--he stayed under the radar.

Junk-Free NirvanaSteve worked outside again. He edged the lawn around the sideways and cleared all the junk off the porch (does temporarily moving it to the carport count?). I bet the neighbors will open a bottle of champagne when they see an empty porch. Some of it went to the dumpster, but some is in the garage. Tammy plans to either junk it or donate it to worthy causes next week. Right now, anyone who will take it qualifies as a worthy cause. David power washed the siding too.

Tammy's brother painted most of the ceilings upstairs. The ones in the master bedroom and hallway have texture, while we kept the original wooden planks for the ceilings in David's bedroom, the master bathroom, and homeschool room. They will caulk any gaps and paint again. We decided to rip out the plaster in the office because the house will settle some more and the walls will crack again.

Steve did not achieve as much as he had planned outdoors: between sore muscles and lightning storms, it just was not meant to be.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Only One Week

We have owned the house for only one week and can see quite a bit of progress. Tammy has sorted through the stuff left on the porch and in the house. She threw out quite a bit of junk and has invited the pastor to go through the serviceable items (housewares, toys, and decorations) for donation to ministries. She had no idea of what do with two ugly 18-inch tall statues--the only thing she could think was white elephant party. One of the contractors got excited about these statues and begged to take them both off her hands, even the one with a broken arm. Tammy secretly wondered about his taste until he explained that his pure-bred Pitt bulls love to gnaw on those things.

Tammy also discovered the early stage of a wasp nest perched on a sewing hoops in one of the boxes of junk on the front porch. Fortunately the contractors helped her out with that! Those persistent insects kept coming back all afternoon in search of a new spot.

Tammy's brother and co-worker have prepped the ceiling in five places upstairs. The only thing left in the master bathroom is the shower stall and shelving. The fixtures, toilet, sink vanity, etc. are gone. On Saturday, her brother will paint the ceilings, so she spent a good chunk of Friday morning seeing colors! Tammy is more of a mathematical logical thinker than an artsy type (she joined the Navy just so she wouldn't have to think about what to wear every day). So picking colors is a major stretch for her! Fortunately, Lowe's American Tradition in-store folders and color design center have color wheels that explains how to match colors properly and a virtual painter tool for trying different combinations in sample rooms. Thanks to that, she is not curled up in a corner, sucking her thumb, staring vacuously into space.

We like warm colors: light, semi-muted shades of green, yellow, and orange. The master bedroom will be monochromatic with soft shades of yellow. The master bathroom will have peach, but will have accents in yellows and greens. David loves green, so his room will have variations of green--does it have something to do with the color of his eyes? We are going to mimic Tammy's mother's kitchen in the homeschool room--peach ceiling, mint frost trim, and very light, light green walls. We haven't quite nailed down the hallway and David's bathroom yet. But, by next week, she will have to be bold and pick something.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Slower than Watching Paint Dry

Today Tammy discovered something slower than watching paint dry, and that is standing in the paint line at Lowe's watching paint mix! We love the fact that Lowe's offers so much choice, but she almost got a migraine trying figure out what kind of paint goes with what material. The caulking section had so many kinds Tammy had to call the painter to find out which kind he wanted. Our 17-year-old daughter with autism came on the expedition and, for the first time ever, Tammy secretly hoped she'd get impatient and throw a fit to have an excuse to jump ahead in line. But, she showed more patience than her mother!

The future office, the room full of cracked plaster, got prepped today, but we are toying with going full bore with sheet rock, like all the other rooms. The master bathroom is ripped apart except for the shower stall, which we are keeping. Steve was able to get a good deal on high-quality new toilets and Victorian-style pedestal sinks plus fixtures. The upstairs hallway has an inoperable old vent that used to suck up air into the attic back in the days before air conditioning. We had it covered with a light board, so the celling will have a finished look. They also removed one door for a closet that two doors. It already has a window--why would it need two doors?
Master Bathroom before Getting Prepped
A Closet with a Window and One Door Too Many

We discovered an old yardstick that has a four-digit telephone number. Seven-digit numbers started being used nationally in the late 1940s. Who ever heard of an antique yardstick? We are also in the dejunking mode, but took home some perfectly good wine glasses, let Tammy's mom have first dibs on what she wanted, and hauled seven green trashbags of clothing and shoes to the drop-off box. Anyone want some thick plastic hangars? (They make a mean bow when paired with a wooden spoon as the arrow. David, the prop master, made that discovery when he went through his Robin Hood phase a few years back.)
Antique Yardstick

The First Glitch

Master Bedroom with Painted Hardwood Floors Yesterday, the contractors (one of whom is Tammy's stepbrother) started renovating the house. Two are working upstairs on the master bedroom/bathroom, David's bedroom /teeny tiny bathroom, a hall closet, and the homeschool room. The plan is to work from one bathroom out to the hall and from the other out.
Master BathroomDavid's Teeny Tiny BathroomDavid's Future Bedroom
Future Reading Spot in the Homeschool Room

We have a painter working on the only room in the house that still has plaster, Steve's office. We might have to go with sheet rock because as an old house settles, plaster just cracks up. Some walls have very slight tiny cracks, but others are a mess.
Cracked Up Wall in Steve's Future Office
Now what is the first glitch, you ask? We were told the electrician who installed new and grounded wiring, disabled power to the old two-pronged outlets. Well, it didn't happen. We were hoping we wouldn't need to hire an electrician, but what are we doing the second day in the project? Looking around for one!

We do have another glitch, but now I know why. We want to restore the hard wooden floors and use are rugs and runners in strategic spots to prevent wear. Some of the floors upstairs are painted. Much of the master bedroom floor is painted white, but unfinished. Apparently, the paint gums up the machine used to smooth out the floor, so the paint must be stripped first.

You may be wondering what Steve and Tammy did all day. Well, Steve travels a bit with his job, which is why we started this blog--to keep Steve in the loop. Tammy is not very talented when it comes to crafts, hands-on work, etc. She is not a superwoman who can be all and do all, but she does know her limitations. Other than removing "treasure" from the house, she wisely stayed out of the way. Tammy ran around town donating unwanted treasure to the library, the church's mission food supply, and the church's costume department.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

TTFN Trees!

Now the House is Out Reach of the Big Scary LimbsOn Monday and Tuesday, we had a tree service knock down three trees that were too close for comfort. Tammy rewarded her dad for trimming the hedges with some wood from the pecan tree, with which he smokes meat. They also trimmed up some limbs hanging over the back of the house and ground up some old tree stumps. Our first glitch was that the small town bank tellers planned to hold the check for five days because the federal credit union we use is "out of town" (not "out of state"). They also had trouble figuring out that the military style of writing dates, 17/7/2006 meant the same thing as July 17, 2006. I can see it if our calendar had 17 months. We left the tall trees in the back year, but the one to the left (west) side of the house is gone!

The Taming of the Hedges

The Taming of the HedgesThe previous owner did not move out until the following Tuesday, so Steve spent the weekend in coveralls working out in the yard. He razed the out-of-control azalea bushes, which reminded us of Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, while Tammy's dad squared some hedges. David, our 14-year-old son, helped clear the brush and branches and made the enormous pile in front of the house. After the lightning storm--the one that knocked our Internet out for almost two days--passed through town, Steve power-washed the bricks, which had turned green in some spots and black in others, as well as the sidewalk. He also cleared off this ugly cream-colored plastic covering off the side porch. The house has a much neater appearance on the outside.

Done Deal!

This Old HouseLast Friday, July 14, 2006, we bought our first old house--almost 100 years old--two stories, eight rooms, 3000 square feet, complete with an old servants' house and a one-holer outhouse in the backyard. According to my dad, back in the day, folks who didn't have a two-holer and a Sears and Roebuck catalog to pass the time were poor. The previous owner has done much to renovate it: new wiring, new plumbing, security system, new kitchen, siding, etc. A few rooms are almost, but not quite finished. Others need work, and some have never been touched. No one has made major improvements to the house for 50 years, except for the roof courtesy of Hurricane Hugo, and she had to do things like have sinks removed from the bedrooms!

One-holer OuthouseAlmost Finished Room
Untouched Room with Lots of Cracked Plaster

We hope to share pictures and our journey as we get our house ready for the big move.