Friday, April 20, 2012

Look! Look!

Look what we have as of tonight!  William Morris "Blackthorn" wall paper on my very own front hall!  True, it took a friend coming all the way from the 'burbs of London to get it there, but there it is!  Look!  Look!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Best I Can Do

Oh dear o dear o dear, I am so far from having accomplished what I wanted to accomplish by the time my friend from England arrives tomorrow evening.  Shocking how much needs to be done on a house before you get to the fun stuff, even when it's only finishes being worked on.

Well.  Frieda* came over around noon this past Saturday to help me remount hallway trim.  But I was up the ladder priming the north wall of the living room, and didn't want to stop before I'd finished it.  And the east wall, since I still had primer in the tray.  So she went in the kitchen and dynamited grease and pet hair off the stove and surrounding cabinets until I was done.

By the time we got upstairs to work on trim, we had time only to nail some replacement blocking into the rough opening for my bedroom door, put up the trim on the inside of the bedroom and find out that the lintel was cockeyed per the wallpaper and the level, put the bedroom door frame back together, attach the stop moulding at the guest bedroom door (successfully), and discover that something's weird about the relationship between the bedroom frame and the lintel on the hallway side.  Then Frieda had to leave and I had to change to go to Dick and Harry's Tax Service to finish doing my taxes.

Before Janet* comes I have got to get that door rehung, not just for my privacy but to get the bedroom door out of her way.  And rehang the closet door.  And reattach the stops to the bathroom door.

And if I can, finish shellacking the doorway and portal down on the first floor of the stair hall, so we maybe can put up wallpaper together, seeing that she's offered to help and is bringing her grubby old overalls.

But the cleaning still needs done, like the cat barf stains removed from the guest bedroom rug, and the mess in the living room needs to be cleared out. and I still have to wash the comforter and so on for the guest bed.  And here I am sub teaching at a local grade school, or rather, not teaching because the school's at sixes and sevens due to meetings and new-student assessments and I've turned out to be redundant.  So I have opportunity to work on the blog, but not on the house.

This is a situation where I need to do my best to do what I can to make things comfortable for my old friend, then depend on her friendship to overlook what I can't.

Some time I'll post some photos of what's gotten done.  But not now.  No access to the files, and it's 3:00 o'clock.  Time to go.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Immer Zu

I'm still here.  Actually, I haven't really been any place much other than here.  Not working on the houseblog, no.  But working on the house.  Workingworkingworkingworkingworking ....

Tired, crabby, frustrated; no way I'll get done what I'd hoped to get done by the time my friend from England arrives on the 18th, but still at it, obsessed, devoted, immolated.

I'm only up at my computer now because I was seized suddenly by the fear that I'd forgotten in the throes of house idolatry to pay one of my credit card bills.  So I left the trim I was working on in the basement to run up to the 3rd floor study to make sure.

Yes, it was already paid.  And I'm paying this debt to houseblogdom, putting down a minuscule installment payment on what I owe to my two or three readers, to give you some indication on what's been going on at the Sow's Ear the past month.

Heaven help us, what hasn't?  The spray foam people finally came (no, that was February, but never mind, they did).  The roof repair contractor and his son showed up three or so weeks ago (he was originally scheduled for early December) and took care of everything on the list, and a couple-three other things beside.  What they couldn't rectify was the wet on the face of the chimney breast in the living room, which issue they diagnosed as being due to my having no liner for the hot water heater in my chimney-- the warm water vapor condenses on the cold brick et voilĂ ! failing skim coat and sticky old wallpaper paste on the living room side.  So I've had plumbing contractors marching through sizing up the height of the chimney, and I've accepted a bid from one who's supposed to come install me a metal liner early next week, hopefully before Janet* arrives.  And things have gotten to the point with my own work that I had to get the electrical contractors in to bid out installing properly-grounded circuits for the outlets that go in the baseboards that I hope soon to be reaffixing.  One bid was so astronomical I thought I should suck it up and rewire them myself after all; the other, from the guy who seemed to know more what he was talking about, was low enough to make me feel it wouldn't be worth the time and tribulation for me to try to do it myself.  And unlike the other guy, he can work with the trim installed.  I plan to have him come in May, if I've got the place reassembled by then.

But me?  Damn.  A short list, in no particular order: 
1)  Shellacking woodwork, starting with the stairhall's pieces and going on to the ones for the living room.
2)  Buying select white pine 1x boards and having my friend Steve* rip them to size to replace missing or hopelessly damaged yellow pine originals.
3)  Shellacking white pine replacement pieces to try to get them to match the yellow pine originals (semi-successful, if you don't mind a little streakiness). 
4)  Finishing up the Big Wally's plaster repair I started last month.
5)  Finding out that even Big Wally's won't get rid of a wall bulge caused by settling from the floor above.
6)  Doing an obsessive amount of research on how properly to hang my William Morris wallpaper, and finding out about blankstock liner paper and mix-it-yourself wheat paste and happening on a good source for both.
7)  In the course of said researches, learning about a homemade device that should make it easier for me to remove the old paper from the sheetrocked walls in the dining room and front room, and pulling together the pieces and parts and beginning to make my own.
8)  Trying repeatedly to get the old wallpaper paste removed from the living room walls and failing miserably, unless my goal is to take off all the previous owners' repairs.
9)  Carrying on an extensive email correspondence with the proprietor of the concern referred to in No. 6 and learning from him a) that I can use a Zinsser product called Gardz to encapsulate the old paste and size, and b) what "size" is and how to make it.
10)  Doing the Big Wally's routine on the east wall of the living room, especially down at the bottom along the line of the baseboard, where the plaster seemed to be flapping in the breeze.
11)  Ordering Gardz over the Internet (Lowe's and HD don't carry it around here) and applying a first coat on the north and east LR walls.
12)  Cutting to fit and screwing in pieces of drywall to replace the plaster that fell to pieces when I removed the baseboard along the east living room wall.
13)  Taping cracks in my living room walls with drywall tape and mudding, sanding, and mudding again.  (Which I hate-hate-hate!).
14)  Locating the most workable location for the outlet I've wanted for years in the 1st floor hall, and cutting the hole for it (happily, it falls right in the drywall under what I call the portal between the hall and the living room, where my POs-1 partially closed in what used to be a large doorway.
15)  Taking up the ridiculous sheet vinyl from the hallway floor, and discovering that the plywood underneath seems to be glued as well as nailed down.
16)  Doing the long-postponed measured drawing of the existing structure under the 1st floor hall, and submitting it to the John Bridge Tile Forum to find out if it can support ceramic tile.
17)  Getting an answer from one of the tile pros there that my structure might do, but unless I tear out both the plywood and the original tongue-and-groove subfloor and sink new plywood between the joists, I'll be way out of Code due to the odd riser height at the bottom stair.
18)  Saying O crap! and checking into linoleum tile and other, thinner alternatives, and deciding probably I'll clean up and smooth down the plywood that's there and paint a faux tile pattern instead.
19)  Using some medium red-brown paint left behind by my POs on the existing LR cornice moulding to even out the place where they or somebody got ceiling paint on it, then going over that with two coats of warm-walnut tinted shellac (north wall cornice is done; east wall in progress).
20)  Stripping, repairing, and sanding the trim that goes on the kitchen side of the doorway from the 1st floor hall-- nasty job, since it doesn't seem ever to have been shellacked, so the paint wouldn't just chip.
21)  Removing the rest of the wallpaper from the east and most of the south living room walls (yes, this should have come a lot sooner, but I just remembered).
22)  With the help of my friend Frieda*, remeasuring for the new chair rail for both storeys in the stairhall, sizing the lower part of the walls there, and hanging blankstock on them, but not before going back and filling and patching ten dozen dips and holes I never noticed till the work light was shining on them.
23)  Except for an occasional mowing and covering the roses when a frost warning's on, letting the garden take its own course this spring.

Did I say this was supposed to be a short list?  Gaw.  And I need to go back down the basement and prime that kitchen side trim and the trim for the doorway to my bedroom, because oh, yeah, I got the loan of a nail gun today, and if all goes well I can start rehanging trim this weekend and that needs to go up before-- well, never mind, it'd take too long.

Immer zu!  Immer zu!  Ohne Rast und Ruh'!