Wednesday, January 20, 2016

amber waves of pine

The floors in the nursery/future master bath have been done for a month or so now, and they managed to become the longest single project in working on the space.  Longer than running the plumbing.  Longer than building (and unbuilding and rebuilding) walls.  Longer than stripping the woodwork.  Longer even than restoring the windows.


The story of the floors began when we bought the house.  Despite the absence of working roofs, plumbing or electrical, the bank decided that they also required us to finish the floors on the second floor under the terms of the 203k.  In this room, the floor was a mix of layers including vinyl sheet flooring, cat piss, 9 inch asbestos checkerboard tile, cat piss, two layers of marble contact paper, cat piss, black linoleum adhesive, cat piss, and the original faux grained painted border.  The cat piss issue is important since it almost caused us to walk away from the deal.  While the whole house was fairly saturated with urine, this room was by far the worst since it had the most exposed bare wood.  The first few inspections the weather was quite cold and wet and the smell/moisture wasn't obvious.  However, on the final walk through it was warm and dry and we could immediately see the wet pervading the floors - we thought we must have another leak from a mystery source until I put my nose to it....

So, we stripped the floor, did a quick sand and many soaks with the various urine destroying solutions and three coats of waterlox (not sufficient on pine, just enough to make them look doneish for the bank).  Now the intention was to be able to come back later, scuff sand the floor and put of a few more coats of waterlox.  The reality is that my roofer decided I was not capable of sanding the floors on my own and did me the enormous favor of coming in with his edger and sanding the edges - gauging them so badly that fixing them to be level with the rest of the floor would take off half the sandable wood.  So that's how they sat for 3 years.

At 8 months pregnant the room was done enough for me to revisit the floor, so I conned my friends into carrying the big ez sand  machine up the stairs for me and joyously got to work.  Only to stop 10 minutes later after realizing the machine had a metal burr on one of the sanding pad bases that etched curlicues deep into my pine.  I may have cried.  I swear it wasn't the hormones.

The manager at Home Depot did what he could to help the crazy pregnant woman, and ended up giving me over $100 dollars worth of sanding disks for my handheld Dewalt because I decided I was going to do the floors BY HAND.  I almost finished them too, and then Toren arrived two weeks early.  

After a month and a half of recovery I was ready to revisit the floors.  The room had been locked up, covered in sawdust, with our closet tarped off (yes, we had no access to our closet for two months when we had planned on a week).  Finished the 80, did the 120, spent two days dental picking the gaps between the boards and vacuuming and was finally ready for Waterlox 2.0.

It went down beautifully.  And there is much evidence of the whole menagerie memorialized in the floor... The first two coats are Minwax red oak and dark walnut (8 oz each in a gallon of waterlox), with three more coats of straight waterlox.  And given I was doing this with windows open in early December I think I owe global warming a big thank you!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

all hail technology

I know I just expressed my relative disinterest in technology, but then I came across this.

I will be buying one, just not the first version.  It can etch glass for stained glass panels.  It can engrave leather to replace my one of a kind lincrusta.  I can carve wood for moldings.  I don't have words for how giddy this makes me.  Especially since Lincrusta in England estimated it would be 20,000 pounds just to carve a new roller (if they were even willing to do it).

So yeah, technology is pretty cool after all....

Maybe they'll send me one because I'm a blogger.  I bet I could beta test the shit out of it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

december updates

Truly I meant to start up again before now, but then my computer started smoking...

Luckily, it had the good sense to die on cyber Monday, so a replacement was easy to come by.  I'm well past the point of being excited by electronics though, so the expenditure was nothing but aggravating.  It's hard not to calculate the things I won't be able to work on around here so that I'm able to keep typing...

Since last we spoke we've:

a.  planted many of the bulbs bought for us in the Netherlands - some of which have already emerged given this crazy weather

b.   cured the hatch to the widow's walk of an obnoxious little leak.  This allowed us to weatherstrip the attic hatch (compressible gasket on top of the quarter round the hatch rests on) and reinstall it, finishing up the attic work at last.  I had intended to paint the hatch before putting it back up, but some chips revealed that it was originally shellacked, and the beadboard looks worth restoring.  That'll wait till spring, but I did put on some nice reproduction Eastlake hardware to make handling it much easier (it's remarkably heavy).

c.  hosted Thanksgiving and HAMukkah 2.0 with great success, while managing to forget the 5 year anniversary of owning the house.

d.  restored and rewired another chandelier better suited to the scale of the dining room (the vintage fixture that was there will grace another room).

as close to the correct glow as I could photograph

e.  have read more books in just the past 2 months than in the previous year, best among them?  High Fidelity, which is impossible to read and not envision John Cusack narrating and The Time Traveler's Wife, with shockingly excellent music and Arts and Crafts references.

f.  put up a bit more siding on the schoolhouse.

g.  finally finished the floors in the nursery/future master bath, full details will be forthcoming...

h.  got rid of 2 1/2 trees worth of logs to a friend for his woodburner.  We're seeing some evidence of ground termites, which is forcing us to start rounding up our stray woodpiles.  In return for the free wood they helped us move the last salvaged radiator to the basement, and there's a chance for free BBQ if the restaurant wants the sassafras for smoking...

i.  managed to keep an infant alive for two whole months!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

filling the house...

Well, long time no see huh?  It may come as no surprise to some of you what we've been up to, being that it seems that any female blogger of a certain age who disappears for a period of time is either selling their house, getting divorced, or happier in our case, having a baby.

Drawn by yours truly, the whole menagerie is represented....

Well, as you can see from our announcement postcards, our Toren was supposed to arrive today.  Much to our dismay he just couldn't wait, and arrived on the 18th.  He and I spent a week in the hospital, but are home now and much improved.  This is the first Halloween there hasn't been extensive decorating and pumpkin carving happening, and I certainly hope it's the last.  

There are countless posts waiting to be written, and I'm far too private a person for this to become yet another mommy blog, so bear with me just a few more weeks.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

the future master bath

There are times when words just don't cut it, and I'm afraid the last post was one of those times.  So, floor plans, drawn just poorly enough to still be useful!

First, here's how the room was originally...  The largest bedroom in the house, southwest exposure (stunning in the evenings), overlooking the original front of the house all the way down the hill which used to be part of it's estate (now filled with small infill 20's homes).  Judging by the size and masculine fireplace, I'd guess that this was Mr. Kelly's room.  His wife Agnes' likely adjoined on the left (our current master, and the smallest of the main bedrooms) given the art nouveau fireback, gas sconces, lincrusta, tower and feminine wallpapers.

Next, the room as it was when we bought the house...  Drop ceilings, no working electrical or plumbing, leaking badly, saturated with cat piss and missing moldings.  What else, hearth tile missing where the wall was built on top, rotted corner where they had ripped out a window and not properly closed up the hole, missing flooring and burst pipes from the radiator freezing when the house was empty, caving in plaster and badly damaged double hung windows.  I'm sure there's more, but that's enough to give me nightmare flashbacks.  It's also the list for most every room in the house I suppose.

And now...

If you know me at all, you know making these changes upset me.  After the indignities this house has suffered there is nothing it deserves more than a true restoration.  At the same time, even though we plan on being carried out feet first, we have to think of the house's future, and insure that there is no excuse for future travesties.  It's unlikely that future owners will have need of 9 bedrooms, or be able to fit their clothes in an armoire in the bedroom, so some changes are inevitable.  In the case of this room, it was the only one with access to plumbing, or that lent itself to being split up.  On the plus side, no structural changes are being made, and we've restored a hidden window and added a stained glass window.  Is it a net gain?  Probably not...  But a second floor laundry is certainly all it's cracked up to be, and having a decent shower in the distant future won't be so bad either...

An addition to these plans is Ross' fantastic entry - woe that we couldn't have made it work without major expenditures.  It also brought an issue to my attention - the basis for these drawings were done years ago now, there is in fact NO WINDOW next to the bay window in the bathroom.  It was theorized at the time, and historical photos have proved we theorized wrong.