Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Point of No Return

I got home from choir practice around midnight tonight. The idea was to take the dog out, then go straight to bed.

But today (Monday) I got little or no woodwork stripped. So I thought I'd cover the floors in my living room and hallway so tomorrow (Tuesday) I can get right to work stripping in place the casing and sill of the communicating portal.

But can I-- ought I-- be using the heat gun on the underside of the sill with the wallpaper there?

No. Probably not safe.

So I pulled it off. Both sides. Living room paper came off more easily and completely; hallway side came off in layers and will need wetting and going over with a Paper Tiger to finish the job. But those portions are gone, gone, gone. And randomly and casually or as a deliberate effort, the rest of it will soon follow. If I had any thought of living with those beige papers for any longer, it's gone gibbering away. The point of no return has been passed.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Wall Dreams

Last night I dreamed any number of strange things, but one of the strangest was this:

I dreamed, first, that all the wallpaper was off my dining room walls, and I had nothing but white, bare plaster.

And it seemed that I could perceive something behind the plaster, between the studs, in one corner of the room. There were some people there with me, and one of them, a woman who reminded me of my mother, told me, "You have pregnant women in your walls."

Though unexpected, this didn't seem alarming or uncanny at all. It evoked no echoes of poor injured girls murred up behind stone and mortar in old Gothic tragedies. No, I was brought to understand it was a rare but natural development in old houses, a chemical effect resulting from age and plaster and the stuff that falls down inside stud and lath walls. Totally to be expected.

But then it seemed that time went by, and the pregnant women in my wall did what pregnant women do: They got bigger and bigger. There were three of them behind the plaster, standing in a row between the studs, facing outwards, arms down to their sides. I could now clearly see their full breasts, their fecund bellies with navels like demitasse cups, telegraphing through the white wall surface, pushing it out into the room.

I couldn't take the situation for granted anymore. Whatever they were, human or dryad, however they had come to be there, these women would soon give birth, and how could they, how could there ever be room for them and their babies, trapped inside my wall? They had to be set free!

"We have to cut open the wall!" I said to the people with me. One man produced a large carving knife, but I said, "No, don't use that! You might hurt the women, and anyway, if they saw it, it would frighten them and maybe affect the babies."

So I got a small paring knife instead and started to work, carefully carving chunks of plaster away. The dream changed then, or my dog barked and woke me up, so I never got to see what the women looked like, or to learn what became of them or their babies.

I have no idea with this means. That I'm thinking about the built-in cabinet my POs-1 took out fifteen-twenty years ago? That I'm over-obsessing about wallpaper choices? Or that, seeing how I settled on the paper I want for my dining room wallpaper five years ago, I'm excited but a little apprehensive now the time has come actually to order it?

Or maybe it just means I should watch what I eat before I go to bed!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Temporary Stand Down

I reached the one-third mark in the woodwork stripping yesterday evening. But not much is going to get done on it this week, as most of my time through Sunday is booked up on presbytery and music related commitments.

Too bad I can't keep going, since I'm eating into the woodwork in the 1st floor stairhall, and it's falling to my pry bars right, left, and center.

In fact, it's looking rather skeletal in there since Saturday evening, especially in the corner where it's now down to the studs.

Last night I pried off one of the 1/4" plywood facings on the doorway between the hall and the front room. Guess what? It covered up the old door strike mortise. What did I expect? That's where the front door used to be! The real question is, what am I going to do about it?

But that's another post.

Lots of interesting cracks and holes revealed once I pried off the baseboards. Good thing I'm not worried about nasty things crawling up from the basement! But I like the idea of laying down tile board before I put the baseboards back. The thought of wall-to-wall floors is most appealing.

Meanwhile, I boxed up more books in the living room, so I could move the bookcase and get at the last two pieces of baseboard in there. Look squalid and self-sacrificing enough for ya?
And what would the betting line be on whether I'll have any of this put away by Christmas?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Window on the Past

My dream and desire for my house is to get rid of all the clad metal windows and replace them with three-over-one double-glazed wood windows that will reproduce what was here originally.

But the grim truth is, it's not happening before this winter, and I have two of the existing windows with bad seals and if I can help it I'd rather not go through another winter with them wasting energy.

My previous owners left me no record of who installed the metal windows and I couldn't find any mark on them to say what brand windows they are.

But they were definitely put in by my POs-1, and I recently learned they (or at least, she) still live in the area.

So this afternoon, I called Mary Kathryn N. and asked her about the windows. How easy: she remembered exactly what brand they were and who installed them. I'll call the company on Monday and see about getting a rep to come out.

But as long as I had her on the line, I asked her a few questions about the Sow's Ear . . . well, more than a few, actually.

And here's some of what I learned:

Kathryn C. McL was in her 90s when she sold Mary Kathryn the house in 1981. The woodwork was already painted then. "I wanted to strip it," Mary Kathryn told me, "but with the kids there was never time. So we just painted it."

How funny! My POs John and Kate wanted to strip it, too, but couldn't because of their kids. So the job has come down to me.

The front porch was already converted to a closed-in front room, with a triple-width opening between it and the living room and a double-width opening between the living room and the stair hall. "It was ridiculous. There was no place to put furniture in the living room. But we liked the openness." So they filled in the doorway at the bottom, and left the communicating portal I have now.

There used to be the typical four-square house built in cabinet in the dining room, but Mary Kathryn took it out to make more room in the kitchen. "I was sorry to have to do it, but I wanted a place in the kitchen where my kids could eat and I could keep an eye on them. That's where we put the kitchen table and the chairs." I told her my POs John and Kate had redone the kitchen after they bought the house and the refrigerator is on that wall now. (I'm thinking that kitchen table must've done duty as counter space, since there would have been little left with all the appliances on the window wall.)

They "completely redid the plumbing" in her time, since the soil stack burst and made a terrible mess. Me, I knew the one I have is fairly new, but it's nice thinking how I dodged a bullet on that one, by several years.

She couldn't remember whether or not she and her husband applied the drywall to both sides of the wall between the dining room and kitchen, but I'm thinking they must have, since they took out the cabinet. The funny thing is, she clearly remembers putting in the beige Victorianesque dining room paper with the pink roses, but not the cream-on-white silk stripe paper on the drywall under it. "That sounds too modern for me. We tried to do things we thought fit the house. We didn't want to 'remodel,' if you know what I mean."

She definitely remembers removing "ten layers of wallpaper" from all the walls. And all about the fireplace, and the fancy marble mantlepiece they installed. Turns out they did not perpetrate the messy common brick firebox-- it was like that when she moved in. And it had an old gas log connection, which they took out because they were afraid it might leak. They thought about putting a new one in, but never got around to it.

I could have asked more questions, but Mary Kathryn had places she needed to go. It verged on irony reflecting how our tastes differed and how I've taken out some of the features she was very proud of, but why bring it up? She, and John and Kate after her, did a pretty good job of keeping the old house sound and in good repair, and now it's up to me to do the best I can in my turn.

But now I'm haunted by the strange picture of old Miss Kathryn C. McL getting bored one day and deciding to paint the stairhall aquamarine and slopping paint over the woodwork while she was at it. She or her parents, since clearly Mary Kathryn N. wasn't responsible!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Errands, Exploration and Surprises

Today I went to Lowe's to buy 3" exterior grade screws to reattach my fallen fence, and 1/2" metal screws to rehang my back screen door, which is falling off its hinges.

I made another visit to Hamilton's Tools, for another nail puller-- the nasty 3" nails in some of the trim I'm taking down has proved impossible for me to get out with the nail puller and pliers I have.
And I stopped by the Home Depot, because for some reason Lowe's (nor WalMart, nor anyplace else I looked) doesn't carry #0 steel wool, which I need for use with the wood refinisher.

While there, I cruised their tile section, not expecting to find anything. I really want to replace the vinyl junk in my 1st floor stairhall with something on the lines of the old Medieval/19th century encaustic tile. It looks so good with dark woodwork and William Morris patterns. I have medievalist tendencies from way back, not to mention encaustic tile reminds me of north Oxford, which is another story. But it's brutally expensive, to the point you'd almost want to just use accent pieces set in metal inserts, so you could take them with you should you have to move.

But at the Home Depot today I found this:

Not the real thing, far from the real thing, but definitely working towards the effect of the real thing. And a dickens of a lot cheaper.

I'm glad I don't have to make a decision about my hallway floor for awhile. Because before I do, I'll have to fight the battle of You'll Never Be Able to Forget It's Not Real! vs. The Cost of the Real Stuff Is Way Out of Proportion for This Little House!

But it's nice to know this tile line exists, should Sense ultimately win out over Sensibility.

When I got home, I immediately set to work trying to fix the aluminum screen door, before I lost the daylight. I won't go into how that proceeded; it's done well enough to close properly again, even if it does need a stronger hand than mine to tighten the new screws in as well as they need to be. But I had the door propped open as I worked, and the dog and my eldest cat were in and out. After I got done, I went out in the back yard to make sure the kitty hadn't wandered into the neighbors' yard through the gap in the fence.

And then for the first time since I got home I noticed it: There is no longer a gap in the fence. Sometime this afternoon, my neighbor must've fixed it!

The panel is about an inch lower than it was, probably because the ends of the old 3" screws were in the way, and he didn't cut or remove them. Call the difference a souvenir of the Great Windstorm of 2008.

But I think I owe my neighbor a lawn mowing or two. Or something.

And does this mean I can take those long screws back to Lowe's?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No Time for Amateur Hour

This is why it's a good thing to have professionals take down your large fallen tree limbs:

I was rather hoping the limbs that broke off my sugar maple the other night included the one that hangs down so I can't see my vegetable garden out my bathroom window. No such luck. But the tree surgeon was nice enough to cut it off while he was up there, no extra charge. It was rotten, anyway.

And happily, he asked if there were any others I needed off as well. Happily indeed, because there was another branch that brushes my porch roof, and I was getting a sinking feeling thinking it would have to be left and I'd have to get the crew back out here on a whole separate call in order to get rid of it. Irrational that I should be so flooded with depression over it, but there it was.

But the tree surgeon did ask, the offending branch is gone, and so is my sad.

And so is the arbor vitae that stood outside my west front room windows. I wanted the tree surgeon to take it out four years ago, but he ran out of time and I never got him back to do it. It's taken care of now.

I've long wanted to put a climbing rose in its place, and it doesn't do to envision how nice and big it would be now if I'd gotten it in in the Fall of 2004.

My maple tree now looks very odd and lopsided. But I'm not prepared-- in all sorts of ways-- to give up on it yet. I asked if when its time comes could I have a sawmill take it and cut it up for boards, but the tree surgeon said No-- Too much danger of hidden nails or hooks in it, which could destroy an expensive saw blade. Too bad: Such a waste of good lumber.

I tried propping the collapsed fence section back up, but couldn't manage it. It's a two or three person job. But I managed to get a couple bags of mulch under it, to take the weight off the tomato bush. If there's any hope for more fruit off that, it's strictly because of the tomato cage.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Copping Out . . . or Facing Reality?

No luck today finding any skilled amateurs to deal with my fallen tree problem. My friends with the chain saw seem to be out of phone contact; there's a good chance they still have no power. My neighbor Jim East* asked at work about a chain saw he knows of, but it's broken.

Last night, while I was at choir, he was over here with his Saws-All, cutting more of the smaller branches off. "I was hoping I could do enough to get them off the fence so I could pick it up for you."

But as he worked, he said, he heard an ominous creaking from up in the tree where the two severed limbs are supported only by a branch about 1-1/2" in diameter. Meanwhile, his four-year-old and the six-year-old twins from across the street were running back and forth between his yard and mine. Nope, the piece of fence wasn't getting righted last night!

And anyway, the Saws-All blade broke, and he didn't have a spare.

So . . . the tree surgeon called me back this afternoon. He gave me a price that isn't wonderful, but seems reasonable considering it's not that much more than he charged me in June of 2004 when another limb of the same tree came down and took out a portion of the fence . . . You have to consider the higher price of gas, at the very least. I got him to come down a bit by leaving out the small branches we cut down yesterday: I still want to grind them up for mulch.

But you see, I did not get additional bids. I told this guy to come round and do it tomorrow morning. It'd take me to the end of the week to get callbacks from other arborists, everyone is still so busy, and by that time, those branches could come down and go through my porch roof.

At least, that's my reasoning.

And by hiring it done, I'm not running the risk of some friend of mine getting brained by an errant tree limb while he's doing the chainsaw polka with it. If anyone is going to be brained in the process, let it be the professionals with their own insurance.

But of course, I want no one brained at all. Not the tree surgeon, not the kid next door, not my dog, not me. Easy to say I can't afford to pay to have it done professionally, but can I afford not to? And as soon as possible?

That's what I'm telling myself-- if I'm not just copping out.

Monday, September 15, 2008

In the Cold Light of Day

This is my backyard as it presented itself to me when I went outside this morning:

"Where's the path?" queries my dog. "Where's the path!?"

I tried cutting as much of the fallen branch off with my loppers as I could. They're supposed to handle 1-1/2" material. I found it hard to cut through thicknesses half that. I began to wonder if my loppers were bewitched.

No, just bowlegged, badly-adjusted, and woefully in need of sharpening. And I needed lunch.

Inside to make phone calls, to the tree surgeon and to all my friends who might have chain saws, woodchippers, etc. Got everyone's message machines, surprise, surprise. If they weren't at work, their lights were still off, or they were out in their own yards cleaning up their own debris!

Late in the afternoon, I heard my neighbor (I'll call him Jim East*) in his yard, raking up the mess from my tree. Only sporting to go try again with the loppers. I seem to have gotten better at my technique by now, such that by the time I had to change to go to choir practice, I'd removed all the leafy branches that were intruding into their yard, and a great deal of what was lying on mine.

The fence doesn't appear to be broken, just pulled apart. Once I get the tree off the section that's down, I can stabilize the post that's knocked askew and put the fence panel back up.

But that can't happen immediately. The fallen limb with its branches and sticks is bearing on that panel and the ground like a fist, but up above the limb is totally severed from the tree. It's just resting up there. If the branches on the ground aren't cut right, the whole thing could come crashng down and land wherever, like on the house or across the vegetable garden.

That doesn't mean I'll refuse the help of level-headed amateurs to get that limb down and cut up. It's a matter of taking advantage of whatever help offers itself first.

My neighbor says his dad has a chainsaw, but he's using it at his own place. Hmm, I'm willing to wait! Ditto my friend in choir whose husband has a gas-powered wood chipper. Apparently there's a waiting list for that, too.

I am so not astonished!

Anybody Got a Chain Saw I Can Borrow?

We got a bit of a blow through here a few hours ago. A leftover from Tropical Storm Lowell from way out west, out in the Pacific.

Well, maybe more than a bit.

Now my parents live in Houston, and yesterday I was on the phone sympathizing with my mom over the three trees in their backyard that blew down early Saturday morning, in consequence of Hurricane Ike. One of them, she said, took down part of their fence.

Well, guess what, Mom: It must run in the family, because a big limb of my sugar maple came down in the windstorm this past evening and knocked down a big section of my fence.

Funny, it didn't fall outward into the neighbors' yard. No. It collapsed inward and apparently took out my sunflowers, my volunteer cherry tomato bush, and my new blackberry bush. And maybe a cabbage or two.Can't tell for sure till morning. And maybe not even then, not until I can bum somebody's chain saw and wood chipper. I don't see getting a tree surgeon over any time soon. Whole town's in the same mess I am, and a lot of people probably have it worse.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wherein I Do Not Burn the House Down

With the heat gun.

And not because I didn't use it on the curvy trim that sits next to the wallpapered drywall in the front room, the selfsame trim I couldn't take down because some previous owner decided the room needed the drywall and hemmed the trim in with it.
No. Actually, I did. Use the high-powered 1100˚, 1,200 watt heat gun, I mean. To strip in place the cased opening between the front room and the living room. Both sides.

I meant to try my older, weaker heat gun with the heat shield, but I was thinking, hey, the actual jambs and head are made of 2x lumber, and after that there's a substantial margin of plaster before you get to the wallpaper on the living room side, so I may as well use the heat gun on the living room side. So I was, using it, I mean, and then I was thinking, hey, in order to say I've finished heat stripped those fat pieces, I gotta get the paint off them where they butt up to the curvy, ogival trim on the front room side of the opening. Hmm, look at this . . . the heat seems to be lifting the paint on the curved piece, too . . . Hmm, maybe if I work fast and don't leave the heat aimed at the wallpaper too long, I can get away with . . .

And I did. At least, I didn't burn the house down. And given that it's all plaster and brick behind there, I don't think there's anything smouldering in secret, any furring strips, I mean . . . I mean, I finished up the heat gun work a good five hours ago; yeah, I would've smelled something by now. Not like that contractor I heard of once who was stripping some client's front porch with a heat gun, and the heat started an old bird's nest hidden in a hollow porch column on fire, but it took a couple-three hours for anyone to realize it. By which time everyone was off the site and the house merrily burned down.

Which I haven't done. Burn down my house, that is. But I have got that cased opening stripped. True, in places I've made a ragged mess of the wallpaper and/or drywall paper where it butts up to the trim. Sorry. A function of how the drywall was installed. I'll figure out how to deal with it later.

Besides, here's good news: That wallpaper is now doomed! The fact that it was actually adhering to the wall can no longer shield it! The silly front room wallpaper is doomed!

Maybe I should mention I breathed a lot of stripper fumes when I did Step 2. Thought I had the room better ventilated, but maybe with the trim still on the wall I was working closer to it than I go when the pieces are down and on the sawhorses.

Had a jolly time doing it, notwithstanding, accompanied by Mr. Bryn Terfel and the rest of the forces at the last night of the Proms in London, then the last two movements of the Symphonie fantastique and a performance of the Waldstein Sonata. Among other musical delights emanating from my 1977-vintage component stereo system which I'd moved from the front room into the dining room to get it out of the way. In the dining room it's against the back wall of the house rather than under the windows. In the dining room I can get away with cranking it up a little.

There were six pieces involved with the cased opening I did tonight. Add another piece I did earlier in the afteroon. Seven today; that is, Saturday. That, along with other pieces completed since I posted last, brings me up to 94 out of 336. Nearly 28%.

Pathetic, isn't it? Yes indeedy doody, I do believe I counted all the balusters separately . . .

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Boring Accounting Post, with Historical Diversion

Yeah, I know it's boring for me to post on where I'm up to in the woodwork stripping department. But I can't get the project tracker widget to work on my blog, and if I make notes I'll just mislay them.

So okay, as of this evening, I'm up to 71 pieces stripped, out of 336. 21%. Five pieces of window trim done today. Whoopee, break out the brass band.

(I'm tired.)

While I was at it, I noticed something interesting. Get a load of the bright turquoise blue paint on this trim. I thought at first the woodwork had been painted that color-- gack. But no, it was just on the edges. Someplace along the line, somebody painted the walls of the two-storey stair hall aquamarine.

Now, I've known houses with teal dining rooms and dens, and it can be very intimate and effective. But lordamercy! that color in that space? More than a bit much.

And who in tarnation did that sloppy paint job? And how long did they live with it?


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Reviewing the Situation

In Lionel Bart's musical Oliver there's a scene where the old scoundrel Fagin is considering what to do with the rest of his life. But to every scenario he envisions, there's a drawback of some kind or other. "I think I'd better think it out again!" he sings.

And there it is, the story of my front room at the Sow's Ear.

The idea was that I'd let the woodwork in there alone until the dining room, living room, and stair hall were done, all except for the ogival, S-profile trim on the front room face of the cased openings from the living room and stair hall. Kind of have to tackle that now, since it's all contiguous.

But today I tried again removing the first piece of that for stripping. But I couldn't. And why? Because at some point in the house's history some previous owner faced the whole front room with drywall. And the drywall returns into and butts up perpendicularly against that profile casing trim. I can't pry it out without destroying the wall surface.

So what shall I do in the short term? If the trim won't come down, I'll have to strip it up. But that'll mean removing the wallpaper at least from the five inches of so of wall that returns into the openings. Can't use the heat gun with the paper there.

But what about the paper surface of the drywall itself?

I think I'd better think it out again!

I knew there was drywall on the exterior walls of the front room, at least. It comes practically flush with the aprons of the windows. I had the idea I'd shim them out when I put them back up, so they'd overlap the wall surface like they're supposed to.

But will I be able to pry them loose at all? Or any number of other pieces of window trim in that front room? But it'd be hell on wheels trying to strip it in place, the refinisher being so runny.

I think I'd better think it out again!

Then there's the facing pieces I removed yesterday from the opening between the front room and the living room. I stripped one of them today, and no more. Turns out it's quarter-inch plywood. And unless I load the stain and finish on as dark and heavy as it was before, that's going to be very obvious, especially with the exposed edges and the grain not matching. Should I chuck it and buy some other kind of solid trim to cover up the 2x jambs with the knots and what looks like roofing nails in them? Or put back what was there and hope for the best?

I think I'd better think it out again!

As far as that front room goes, when I first moved in I had some idea of leaving the trim in there painted, making it light and airy like a sun room. It's a converted porch with windows on three sides, after all. But the window stools were already chipped and scarred from the toenails of the previous owners' Weimaraners and most of the rest of the paint came off easily when I took the scraper to it. I've gotten used to having the woodwork in there dark. Besides, I'd have to finish stripping it to get a decent surface for repainting.

But what should I plan to do with it, and what will that mean for what I need to do now?

I think I'd better think it out again!

But not tonight. This evening I gave up and avoided reviewing the front room situation altogether. Instead I worked on mending the two dining room piano window stools that split when I took them down last week, and removing most of the trim from the piano window in the front hall, just as you go up the stairs.

Prying off the lintel and cornice, I came across a couple more artifacts, two ancient unused library cards from the 1st Presbyterian Church here in town. Now these, I'm willing to bet, were there simply as shims, along with the strips of wood I found attached to the cornice. But why would the contractor have Presbyterian church library cards handy? . . . Unless the gap was shimmed and closed much later, well after the house was built, and before that some young person of the family thought it'd be amusing to drop the cards in as he or she came down the steps? But were there children young enough to do that in the Wilkinson or McLaughlin years?

There's so much I can't make sense of in the chronology of this house!

I think I'd better think it out again.

I Can Haz Tyme Warp?

Yesterday evening I opened the third and last gallon can of the Western Wood Doctor Furniture Refinisher that I ordered last winter. They ship the individual cans tied into plastic shopping bags (packed into a cardboard carton, etc.). And what do you know: Inside this third and last bag was my receipt and a use brochure.

I've been using this solution for years, but hey, I'll read anything. Especially if it means taking a break from work.

So here I read, "2. Before starting to remove the old finish, repair all damages as needed (burn marks, re-glue veneer and joints, mend missing parts, etc.). This is done at this time to insure that the new wood will blend with the old in the refinishing process."

Well, yes, that is a very good idea. I totally agree. But here I am, not doing it. Nearly 70 pieces of wood trim stripped to date, and I have not pre-filled any of the cracks and nail holes and gouges.

Yes, I'm sure the Howard people know what they're talking about. It creeps upon my mind to be concerned about how it's going to look when I go back and use and sand down the wood filler.

And let's not even talk about the endgrain where I'll need to take the palm sander to it.

But how can I do it the right way? Until I get the old surface off with the refinisher, I don't even know where the holes and gouges are! If I could go back in time and prevent whichever previous owner it was from using white spackle to fill the old nail holes, I gladly would. If I could have clean edges on the pieces that need put back together before I've cleaned them, I'd arrange that, too.

The only thing I hope to arrange now is to be as neat as possible with the hole and gouge filling. I'm thinking sawdust mixed with water-soluble wood glue.

And some of the dents, I may well leave. Gives the woodwork character, right? This trim should look like its age, nearly 100 years old, not like it was milled yesterday. That would be time-warped!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day Labor

This long weekend's work on the wood stripping front:

If you make the weekend really long, as of last Thursday and Friday morning I have the broken wedges off the 11.5' dining room baseboard glued back on, clamped, dried, and cleaned. Yes, I used the squiggly metal joint fasteners on top of the Elmer's wood glue.
They'll do. I wish the joins were perfectly flush on the front side. But given that I had to work from the back to keep the pieces flat on the sawhorses, they came out slightly uneven. I don't dare sand them-- it'd take the color out of the wood. Better to mortify my perfectionism and let the renewed dark finish take care of it, along with the fact that these mends will be in the back bottom corners of the dining room.

The second long dining room baseboard, the 12 footer, I got off the wall Saturday evening-- without breaking it-- and stripped it yesterday evening. I've laid both the long bases aside along the wall in the front hall to wait to be remounted. Only place inside the house they'll fit out of the way at the moment. I'll have to think of somewhere else to put them when it comes time to do the hall.

Last night, I decided, phooey, I didn't need to wait for a second pair of hands to help me take down the long lintel trim and cornice over the cased opening between the living room and front room. And as one would totally not expect, I managed it without dropping the combined piece and destroying either them nor the fake Pergo floor. Those pieces, lintel and cornice, I got stripped today. Ridiculous how long the cornice takes with the heat gun* . . . as I labored, I was encouraging myself with the thought that that's the longest complicated piece I have to do. But no: There's all that cornice trim in the front room. Org.

There's also all the ogival (S-profile) trim around the cased openings on the front room side. My goal for this year is to strip and refinish everything on the first floor except the front room, and those pieces make a nice stopping point. There was a little matter of the front room baseboard that turned into and butted up against those pieces, but, I thought, they would be easily removed and not, I believed, much missed until I can get to the front room itself.

But look what happened, both sides:

Oh, golly, whoever put this "new" trim up, they glued it! I'll wager they glued all the front room baseboard trim!

It's off and out of the way, anyway. Put it on the shopping list. The ogival trim should come off easily now.

So I tried hammering the five-in-one into the joint between the jamb and the ogival trim, but somehow, the tool wouldn't go in the crack and the trim wouldn't budge. In the process, somehow the tool slipped to the right and lifted the facing lining the jamb (and head) of the opening. It's about 5/16" thick, I knew it was there, and I'd debated whether to pull it off and strip it down separately or leave it up and strip it in place along with the exposed parts of the actual head and jambs. But this accident make the decision for me: It's all coming down.

So those three flat pieces are off, and waiting on the back porch to be tackled, God willing, tomorrow. I did not get the ogival trim off tonight. Amazing what a great job was done matching up the edge of that trim to the face of the jamb 2xs. Nice and flush and tight. The five-in-one isn't giving me enough leverage and space to get the small pry bar in the crack.

I'll try again tomorrow in the daylight. Job needs more than the measly single light bulb fixture in the front room to see it by.

Oh, yeah, and why I made no progress removing that trim at first? Because the edge of the tool wasn't in the joint crack. That was covered by the jamb facing. I'd rammed the tool into the face of the trim itself.


(I think my stripping count is up to 66 out of 330 [20% done] . . . but if I'm doing the cased opening facings separately, that takes the total count up to 336 . . .

Ouch again.

Please tell me I counted every one of the stair balusters as a separate piece!)
*On the other hand, that was one of the pieces I started with the green stripper in what? Summer of 2007? That hardened goop didn't help the process at all.