Sunday, March 16, 2008


Anthony and Cleopatra have laid eggs for the third year in a row.
At least the last 2 years they have nested on the edge of the driveway. When we were still ambivalent about purchasing this house they were nesting in the CENTER of the drive. The eggs somehow survived that year. Goes to show you that we were probably the only people looking at this house. We carefully edge them off every year to keep the FedEx and utility trucks from running them over. This year I think they are finally used to us as Cleo only puts on her "injured" show when Killian walks by. Little does she realize that only makes him notice her. That dog doesn't have a keen sense of smell, but he sure sees every little movement.
Here is part of her injured routine. Its really funny to watch.

Our gravel isn't great for a driveway as it is deep and people usually get stuck in it, but its great for hiding eggs!

Every year I spend a few days scooping up and moving the deeper gravel. I like the way it looks, and it stays cool, but visitors don't care for it. The previous owners definitely over bought. This year I am going to use the extra to extend the driveway over towards the shed entrance.

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Fresh cut lumber

March 2nd
I really fall behind with my posts!
Picked up the ceiling paneling early Saturday from Stoltzfus Lumber. We asked for 63 ten foot boards so we wouldn't have to do any cutting. What we picked up was 87 boards in various lengths from 10 1/2 feet to over 16 feet! My Xterra roof rack was loaded to its limit! What a ride home - of course it was WINDY! Now we know that we will get wood in whatever lengths the tree is, we will be more prepared when we pick it up.
There are some split and knotty pieces we will have to work around but on the whole (considering it was only 70 cents a board foot) we are pleased. It will have to be sanded down a little more than boards we would have bought from a big box store, but it is nice and thick and will look right on the ceiling. I'll prime it well and the knots will add character (I love that word!)
Here is a close up - can you see the "v" grove?

We moved the couch out from the wall in the living room and stacked and sticked it with the lath. It will sit here until after Easter when it should be acclimated to the inside environment and be ready for priming and painting. I hear this is an important step when using air dried lumber.

We are only renovating one small room and the whole house is dusty and parts of this project have invaded every room. How do people live in their homes and renovate entire floors?
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Sunday, March 2, 2008


Killian had an operation last week to correct a luxating patella (trick knee), so work has slowed a bit. He isn't allowed to walk for 6 weeks (ugh) so I've been functioning as his hospital bed. Once the staples come out and they cure a bit life will go back to normal. I feel guilty crating him with that "cone". Its been cold and windy here, so the little guy is freezing - he was shaved almost bald everywhere but his face :(
This also set us back a bit financially - and we have one more leg to go (next year). The first operation cost as much as the claw foot tub I want in the upstairs bath!
Doesn't he look pitiful?

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

&!@%$*# Old Nails

In 1823 did they only have one size nail?? This is a "trim nail".

This is the size of every nail in the house (except the tacks that attached the lathe). It's used for the posts and beams, floor joists, tongue and groove floorboards, AND the delicately fluted trim. Jeeeeze! What a pain in the butt - I spent more time trying not to split the trim as it was being removed - and Lee tried to keep all the tongues and grooves in one piece. I'll be glueing some. No wonder this is the only room in the house with the original window and door trim left! Hope it can be saved.
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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tedious floor removal

Saturday, February 23, 2008
We started taking up the floor this weekend. As you see the floor upstairs was completed prior to adding any walls - grrrrrrrrrrrrr. OH, and that dark area was mold-yuk - this is the back of the bathroom wall.
We went back and forth about whether to attack this from above or below (we needed to find out why the floor bounces-ummmm look how far apart the joists are!) - called a buddy from up the street to take a look - weighed opinions and decided to go at it from above. Once again Lee used MY handy sawzall (I knew we needed it) and cut the boards between the two walls.
As we took the boards up I numbered them, although they probably won't go back quite in the same order. The lumber yard is attempting to fabricate a match as new boards are needed to fill in where the chimney was and we need to replace a few boards under a window where they were rotten. These are of course TRUE sizes so a larger board will have to be sized down. Hope the rest of the floors look this good where we don't have to rip them up.

We came upon a challenge at the door and still haven't resolved that issue. I took up the huge threshold and wondered why there was one installed to begin with-the wood continued between the rooms seamlessly. (and why did they paint that blue?)
We are not planning on tearing up the hallway until next year (and don't plan on taking up the floor there anyway) so I guess we will just nail it back down (sans blue paint) to hide the ugly seam. Looks better without the threshold, but don't know how else to handle it.
Yup, that's drywall down there under the floor. Very neat installation which looks like it was done back when the electricity was installed. The horrible textured ceiling below must have been added in the 80's and MUST GO. Which brings us to the end of the day and our next post........
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Blunder-ful weekend!

Sunday, February 24, 2008
Lee spent the morning putting scraps together to fashion a large walking platform as the floor was quickly disappearing.

Unfortunately, it was not close enough to him as he lost his balance on an especially tough nail. My back was to him as I diligently performed my duty as the official nail remover - it is a delicate job - then.....keeeerrrrrrrrrraaaaaassssssssssshhhhhhhhhh. Lee went down. Arms were on one side of the fan, and legs were on the other. The cross support is the only thing that saved him from a hospital trip! Thank goodness for those big ol' nails I was cursing earlier! I really wanted to take a photo from below with arms and legs through the ceiling, but he was really hurting and stuck and I just couldn't add insult to injury (for once).
Not much else has been accomplished since the clean up. We intend to have the room finished by early May. I am beginning to worry.
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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Floor revealed

Saturday, February 16, 2008
I really wanted to title this something risque and crude...something to do with "wood"...but I'll keep my immature side to myself. Plus, my parents wouldn't like it.
Started the day at 8am with a trip to "The Vintage Source" - its like going into Gram & Pap's old house and barn. Can't let myself purchase too much since we still have furniture to get rid of and rooms to renovate, but its fun to poke and get ideas. I usually pick up a little something, here are this weeks goodies. Good thing its only open once a month!
Type Tray for the old fishing lures and shells (see the world's second most ugly rug in this pic-the worlds ugliest rug is on the upstairs floors)

Hitchcock style chairs (2 for $60) to go with the game table behind - sooooo they aren't authentic, who cares, they are sturdy, cute and cottage-y

and my personal favorite - the non plastic Yahtzee cup.

Then we high tailed it over to the Amish sawmill on Rt 236 - if anyone wants directions leave a comment. It was MUDDY, so will take photos of the machinery and stuff (no people!) next time. We ordered the 3 to 4" tongue and v-groove for the ceiling and should have it within 2 weeks. Cheap Cheap Cheap - but it is air dried instead of kiln dried - so we need to stick and cure it inside for a while. I want to paint it so chose poplar over pitchy pine. It was less than half the price of Lowe's or Home Depot. So, its not bead board...I don't care...its for the bedroom ceilings. Back then I think they would have chosen the less expensive alternative for the upstairs anyway. If I really want bead board it will go downstairs in the more public area. I think we will be happy with this tho. Its what would have been available 185 years ago, and is being made locally without electricity which pleases me too. We'll see how it turns out and then decide what to do on the walls. They can mill it as wide as 12" - I keep playing with the idea of putting it up on the walls horizontally using varying widths - but I think Lee is sold on the vertical wainscot with a thick cap.
We did all that, arrived home by 10:30, ate some brekkie, and tore out the carpet and padding. It went fairly quickly and here is what we found!

If only we didnt have to do anything but sand and clean it up - but alas, we have to shore up the joists underneath so it will all have to come up. Hope we dont ruin it. Also have to find something to match so we can patch up the old chimney hole. Another trip to the sawmill! Not sure what kind of wood it is. Our bedroom is heart pine, but that's in the "newer" part - this just doesnt look like pine. (This pic was actually taken Sunday after the baseboards came up).
Friends called and wanted to go out for dinner - so we bagged up the mess and put it in my Xterra (the dump mobile).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bees, Mud Daubers, & Spooge - OH MY!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I have not been in the mood to post lately - sorry to everyone who has been asking.

We took the plaster (which had been covered with drywall) off the ceiling this morning. Whoever put that up - we curse you! Some areas had 20 screws in less than a square foot. Next time we may just use the sawsall instead of chipping away at it. What a hard job! After that we stripped the lath from the walls and ceiling - keeping some of it in tact for "sticking" the air dried wood we will order from the saw mill next weekend. That went quickly.

Some of the housbloggers find such nice surprises in their walls - we found:

Honeycomb - which is quite ironic since one of the previous owners (George W. Imirie) was a master beekeeper. He did not keep bees on this property as this was only a weekend home. Sadly, he passed away in September. There was recently an article in the Washington Post about him. Wish we had a chance to meet him - what a life he led!

Mud daubers nests,
and only what I can call
SPOOGE - yuk. We took off all of the lath strips today and cleaned up the hidden treasures.

I'll add photos later of the large beams and trunks of trees that were used for support beams. There was evidence of some termites in the past, but nothing damaging. We have a call in to the bug guy just in case - I would feel better getting the ground treated since this side of the house sits almost on the ground.

Anyway, we were rushing to get to a party, so we cleaned up the slats and here they sit waiting for a bonfire. There is still a huge stump under the pile we have been trying to get rid of.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Electrical Panel

Sunday, February 10, 2008
I'm still playing catch up on posts. Finally having a snow day today so maybe I will make some headway. I'll try to back post some projects we did in Summer 2007 and the Ernesto episode which broke us in to waterfront living (ie "why did we buy this place on the water......", "there's geese swimming in my yard", "I thought after the tornado I wouldn't be cutting up any more trees", etc).
Exhausted as we were, we cleaned up last night and went to a party down the street at the old "Victory Bar". Old farts that we are, we only lasted through 2 or 3 Bud Light 10-oz cans (the OFFICIAL drink of the 7th District) before giving out. Met some people who grew up across the creek from our house - they told us we had the prettiest spot on the creek. Boy, we really needed to hear that!
Spent all of Sunday morning and well into the afternoon flipping on and off the breakers in the electrical panel, hooking up radios, using the circuit tester, and trying to map out the spider web of circuits in this house. We have one large panel strategically placed abutting a window in the family room (its a beauty). Hope to conceal it with curtains some day, or maybe build it into a bookcase/wall unit.

Also have a sub panel BEHIND the hot water heater, which we want to relocate when we put in the breezeway/garage (hope we can still afford to).

I'm sure there was a reason for the placement of this, along with why we only have one circuit for the 3 bedrooms and 1 bath upstairs - except for one outlet in one bedroom, but including one downstairs outlet in the family room. Why do we have "the mystery" breaker - took hours to realize it wasn't hooked up to ANYTHING. Why there is a single circuit for that lone outlet upstairs that is not on the upstairs breaker? Why is my furnace emergency switch ABOVE my upper kitchen cabinets? I'm sure it made sense in the "wayback" (it was probably the easiest solution). Anyway we decided now was the time to do this so we wouldn't get zapped!
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Saturday, February 9, 2008

Another use for closet hardware

Saturday, February 9, 2008
So here is the room prior to lath removal.

Also had to showcase Lee's recycle talents - necessity is the mother of invention, right?! We needed someplace to clip our lights - look what he did with the old closet hardware and an outlet strip! This is NOT like him at all, he's Mr. Buyit. I am so proud!

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Sunday, February 3, 2008

I miss being plastered!

OK, so that's not a very original title....but I seriously miss the plaster. There was just no way to save it.

We divided and almost conquered today. I crawled up into "my" attic with big plastic bags, a hoe for reaching into the low spots, and a dustpan (courtesy of neighbor Joan - we wasted the better part of an hour searching for ours) and while in an almost fetal position did my best to bag up the blown in insulation over the bedroom. I misjudged one of the joists and my palm found a screw - had to scream for some alcohol to be passed up to me - maybe we should have gone for tetanus boosters before beginning this project. It shouldn't have taken me as long as it did, but there's no room for arms or legs up there. I also had the help of a big nasty fly. I noticed that there was no insulation on the angled parts of the ceiling, hundreds of mud dauber nests, and found some dampness on the north side where we have always had problems with the shingles when it was windy - and it is VERY windy here. We actually have a guy coming to do an estimate this week for a metal roof, good timing.

Here is the end result:

So while I was sweating in the attic (don't think the insulation is doing any good anyway) Lee was working on the plaster walls. As I said, a lot if it crumbled, but other areas had drywall liquid nailed to the plaster, or were repaired, probably in the '40's, and weren't quite so easy to remove. There was some water damage and many "sand" repairs. The original plaster is full of red horse hair. I saved a big piece but not sure why. We didn't get to the ceiling, maybe tomorrow. We started about 11 and finished around 4:30, loaded up the Xterra with the heavy bags - the tires may pop - and proceeded to the landfill 25 miles away....which was closed. And its closed on Sundays, too. Bummer. We are tired. Will get a dumpster for the next room. I really didnt think there was going to be as much to cart away as there was.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Brick by brick

It took 2 hours to get these 6 bricks out. I was thinking if we made this hole I could go up into the attic, chip out the bricks from there, and hand them down through the hole...

A view from the attic with 3 courses removed. Its tight, only 4 (maybe) feet at the peak, so anything up here will be my job. Dropping bricks down the chimney didn't work so I poked a hole in the ceiling and handed them down to Lee one by one. We'll be tearing it out soon, too - but would like to keep the oil bills down as long as possible. All 3 flues had been knocked down below roof level many years ago - very happy we don't have to deal with the roof repair which made this a breeze. Think we will replace this blown in insulation with R-30 batts. Any comments? By the way, I used a FUBAR and Lee used a sledge hammer. The FUBAR has come in handy so far.

After we got a few feet removed the job got easier...

Done! Now we have over 200 bricks for the garden paths and a lot of needed extra square footage. There is a flue just like this to demo in each room. On my trip around the attic I noticed that where these were installed in place of the two original fireplaces (*sniff*) we will gain another 2 feet on both sides of the flue (those fireplaces must have been nice) in the kitchen and 2 bedrooms - wow - possibly shelves, a closet, STORAGE! Its not a hidden room, but its SPACE!

There is another half to remove on the floor below, but we'll tackle that when we tackle the bar/den. Lee looked under the floor and now we know why it was so bouncy - NOT TERMITES (yay!) - but no floor joists for 6 feet (boo!). He sees one that runs diagonal towards the door, very confusing. Hope we don't damage the wood floors and trim when we tear that out to repair.

Glad it's done without much trouble. Lee carried the bricks outside today and did some cleanup so we will be ready to start on the walls and ceiling Saturday. We will be busy with football on Sunday - GO GIANTS!
PS-Mom, I am wearing my pink hard hat, safety glasses, and face mask :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Demo begins!

FINALLY found the motivation to start indoor renovations. Began demolition of the northwest bedroom today. Very narrow room - only 9'6"x15.


This room is being extremely photogenic. The paneling is bowing out from the walls and the ceiling is a rubbery textured paint. Would have loved to repair the plaster underneath but as you see below, that wasn't worth the trouble. Every wall was horribly cracked, plaster was falling off the wall as i peeled off each piece of paneling. First of many disappointments - on the bright side, it will be easier to fix the electrical and insulate!

We also removed the closet since there was barely room for a twin bed in here. We have several of Gramma's wardrobes which will be appropriate. This is only a guest room. The chimney removal is next on the list. The floor in front of the chimney is bouncy - see how it's dropped. Our first "big" repair must be under there. As long as its not termites we'll be happy! At least this was a quick and easy start.

I see it's going to take me a while to get used to this &^%$& photo uploading and layout. This has taken way too long to post.

By the way, our first silly DIY find:
Installing electrical and framing in the way? Just cut right through it! This was hanging by 2 nails...the only thing holding it in place was the paneling!