Catching up

It turns out that, what with one thing and another, we haven’t blogged for more than a month! We’re sorry. I’m here today to get us all caught up. I was originally going to create several short posts, each on a given subject, and release them on different days, but that seemed like too much work. I’ll do headings instead, so that you can skip something and go on to the next thing, if you’ve a mind to.

Coming back later (I’m about half done writing it) and reading this missive, I think that I should probably break it up to make for easier reading. I’m not going to, though. Hope to see you on the other end. Three cheers, if you make it through! LOL

The bears

After what felt like years, but wasn’t really, Dave finally found a source for the now elusive spar varnish, got some, got it to the house, and painted the bears with it. They’ve gotten two coats already. Now they’re waiting for more nice weather, so that they can get another coat or two.

One of the bears kept giggling, while Dave applied the varnish. He said it tickled.

The shelf paper

Though I desperately wanted to use up my 30-year-old shelf paper, it just wasn’t going to work out. Apparently, if you keep the stuff in a roll for 30 years without using it, the stuff complains. Not that I can blame it really. So I bought some new. I ordered it on Amazon, who has been getting way too much of our money, especially lately, but there you go. In the earlier days of the corona virus and everyone staying at home, contact paper was apparently deemed a necessity, and I got it in a couple of days. Meanwhile, the disinfectant wipes that I ordered on April 5 have been delayed even more. No biggie. There’s nothing else in this house that we can use to disinfect, well, anything, so that doesn’t matter at all, right? But I digress. Out with the 30-year-old shelf paper, and in with the new.

Yup. When the world sends lemons, paper with zebra stripes is lemonade! Just like the bears in the backyard, whenever I open a drawer or a cupboard that has been papered, I laugh. In the one photo you can see the new paper in a drawer, next to one of the blue sinks (really? blue?), while in the other photo you can see the flooring below the papered shelves. Anyone remember that exact flooring from my parents’ house? Yes, I grew up with this one, and can’t wait to get rid of it… again. Though wait I shall. Clashes beautifully with the zebras, doesn’t it? 🙂

The lower garage

The lower garage has been used as one of the staging areas. We originally shoved all the rolled up carpet that we tore from the floors, the paneling from the walls, and everything else we could think of into this garage. We’ve spent a good deal of time in there pulling nails out of everything from paneling to planks, sometimes making a bigger mess before we were through. Then suddenly—well, maybe not suddenly—the garage was empty!



It’s amazing how much we’re using the pickup now compared to…well, any time in the last 20+ years that we’ve had it!

The stairs

I think that from the very first time we saw this house we wondered why the staircase was enclosed on the one side. I mean, the garage is on one side of the stairs, so it’s obvious why that wall is there. It’s the other side. It was a short-ish hallway that was all dark and narrow and closed in. Like this, except this side of the wall was paneled, too:

You see what a dismal thing it was? But now? Now it is glorious! Well, now it’s awesome. It won’t be glorious until we have our flooring put on the stairs. In the meantime, this is how it looks from the entry, or looking down.

You won’t be able to see under the stairs when we’re done, but the wall used to start at the base of the stairs, and went all the way up to the floor of the story above. I’m getting all tangled. Hope you understand. It’s just so nice that it’s all open now. Hooray!

The hi-lift jack

Dave has pretty much always wanted to have a hi-lift jack. He never got one before, though, because he didn’t actually have a need for one. Now he does. He’s used it to great effect in the backyard, pulling out those old posts, the clothesline, all sorts of stuff.
 

The backyard is still a disaster, but nowhere near as bad of a disaster as before we started attacking it. The three rhododendrons back here have been freed from ivy and blackberries, so has the big old maple tree, and the garden where nothing grows any more (except blackberries and ivy). Now it looks like it has potential, where before it was just a big, old mess. Click on the photo below to see it better.

This part—see below—is “the garden.” It was almost completely covered with a mess of blackberries and ivy that was probably six or seven feet high. Most of the pathway was completely covered over. There was just a narrow bit along one edge where you could walk. You certainly couldn’t make it all the way to the tree! Now Dave’s there, holding up the tree, not in fear for his life or limb or anything else. Super cool.

The kitchen

We went over to the house the other day. I think it was on Saturday. We’d been collecting up a bunch of stuff for the house in the living room and entry where we’ve been living. Ansel was starting to get a bit weirded out, and we all thought it would be good for us to take those things over to our house where they might do some good. We filled up the truck, and headed over. A few minutes after we got there the truck was empty, and we were wandering around the house. Then we had lunch.

The next thing I knew I was putting zebra stripes on more shelves, and Dave started attacking the dishwasher. We had someone in line who wanted to take it off our hands. We knew it’d be a whole lot easier for someone to haul it away if it was already outside. That took some doing. The plumbing was all wonky, and instead of being plugged in the thing was wired into the wall (who does that?). Once that was done, managed to get the eating counter off of the back of the cupboard that had had the cook top in it.

Then he started wondering how the top counter top was attached to the cabinet. Dave can often be found pondering with a hammer in one hand.

The next thing I knew he’d gotten the thing off.

And then he got the cupboard up off the floor, and moved it over.

About this time the refrigerator got moved into the living room. Doesn’t everyone have a fridge in the living room? It’s so handy!

Then the cupboard that used to have the cook top in it also got moved into the living room. Dave asked if I could help manhandle it. I tried to budge one little corner. It laughed. I said no. We left for the day.

These next photos are some that Dave took yesterday, when I was at home buying more things for the new house. When he arrived the floor where the dishwasher had been was all wet. Now it’s leaking into a bucket. There’s another bucket installed where the “laundry room” sink used to be, too. He took that out yesterday, too.

Dave somehow managed to get that cupboard into the living room. It’s no wonder the man comes home with sore muscles so often!

The kitchen sink is out now, too. And all the lower cupboards. And the paneling on the walls. The only things really left are those two upper cupboards that are holding up the faux beams. Don’t get me started.



It’s spring

While all of this has been happening in and around the house spring has sprung. Everything is soooo green! Except for the flowers, of course. We now know that our rhododendrons are in an assortment of colors—a little thing that makes me dance with joy. There are two reds, two pinks, and a purple. They’re all glorious. Here’s one of the red ones:

The apple trees (two) bloomed their little hearts out.

Here’s one for scale. Dave’s 6’2″ tall, and looks like a tiny little guy in front of the barn… and the trees that soar behind it.

For those of you who are interested, there are more flower photos here.

I’ll leave you with a view shot, as a reward for making it all the way to the end.

More walls coming down

Well, at least the coverings on the walls are continuing to come down. Dave worked diligently this week, and got the paneling off over the stairs/north dining room wall, some tongue-and-groove along the stairs themselves, and paneling on the west dining room wall removed. Now you can stand in the master bedroom, and see who’s eating in the dining room.

Or, you can stand in the dining room, and look out the guest room window.

Here’s Dave in action, taking the final full piece off the dining room wall.

If you’re standing at the top of the stairs, you can see that the paneling on the stair-side of the pony wall is gone now, too.

If you enter from the front door, then go into the dark and dingy hallway that leads to the lower rooms, you can see where Dave removed more tongue-and-groove planks at the side of the stairs. Before we’re done (I use the imperial “we” here, as Dave’s the one doing the work, as usual), the side of the stairs will be open to the hallway, making it lighter and more welcoming. That’s the general idea, anyway.

While Dave was working on those things, I was running from bathroom to bathroom removing ancient, ugly, dirty, disgusting contact paper from the drawers, cleaning the drawers and cupboards, and also giving the toilets and counters a little much-needed attention. I wish I’d thought to take a picture of the paper that was in the drawers in the master bath. Remember how all the curtains were either dark brown or dark red? Well, the contact paper matched: dark red brick print. Really?

This lovely paper (and even better papering job) was in the bathroom off the living room. It was there so long that the paper was brittle, and actually broke, often, in response to my attempts to remove it. I won in the end, however. These drawers are now paper-free, and washed.

I replaced the original paper in the master with this little floral print that I’ve probably had since some time in the 1980s. Brand new roll. Well, never used, still wrapped in the original packaging. That’s “new.” Right? It’s so old, though, that it didn’t want to stick. I ordered some brand new contact paper that I use in all the bathrooms after it arrives. I expect that it’ll stick better than this poor old blue floral.

I didn’t take any view shots when we were there, so I’ll leave you with a photo of Ansel looking out the window.

What’s above that ceiling?

We decided a while back that the library ceiling was one of the few that we’re going to take down. There are reasons. One of which is the mystery light fixture that doesn’t work (the one that doesn’t work is over the sink—naturally). Another is ambient light. It’s so very dark in there, and always will be since it has no windows, that having a standard white ceiling will probably help. It’ll help make it feel a little higher, too, and since it’s less than eight feet high that’s a good thing. Plus, with the ceiling down we can see how the furnace in the downstairs closet connects to the heat pump, we can more easily get to the spots in the kitchen where we need to run gas pipe for the cook top, and lots of other things. So, the ceiling must come down.

Backing up

Part of our task this day was to remove the rest of the back of the guest room’s closet wall. It started out looking like this:

There’s that silly furnace in there, and we checked into it. Yeah, sure, we can move the furnace out of the closet, and into the garage where it belongs. For a small fee. Right. How about if we turn it instead, so that we can access it from the library instead of from the inside of a clothes closet. Okay. That’s doable. The sheet rock has to come down, though. That’s one bit of demolition that Dave really got into. There’s no point in trying to save and reuse sheet rock, so the big hammer came out, and a few minutes later the closet looked like this (and then I cleaned up the debris):

Now for the ceiling?

But wait! We have to take the board and bat walls down before we can remove the ceiling. Joy. Here’s what the room looked like when we started:
This is how the library looked when we bought the house.

For the most part, removing the board and bat walls is a simple thing. Most of them are held up by only a couple nails and a whole lot of habit. There are some that are a bit more complicated, though. Like the ones behind the appliances, especially the wall boards behind the sink. Well… we (and when I say “we” I mean Dave) moved the fridge and the range out of the way, but we weren’t prepared to deal with plumbing that day, so what to do about those walls? Dave took out his handy new multi-tool, and cut the boards above the back splash. Ta da! We’ll worry about the lower half of those wall boards later.

Now for the ceiling!

With those wall boards out of the way, the ceiling is much easier to get down. While Dave wrenched at it, I mostly pulled nails out of planks that had already been removed. Once in a while I ran into the library to catch the end of a board as it fell off of the ceiling. This was a dicey thing. I had to put up my arms out, in the right place, and then quickly close my eyes so that falling icky stuff wouldn’t blind me. I actually did catch a few.

Now that most of the ceiling is down, everyone who needs to see where the plumbing and electrical stuff is going, needs to go, can go can actually see what they need to see. It’ll make working on all that stuff so much easier, too.

In closing

My gratuitous view shot of the day isn’t actually a photo of our view. Instead I captured a photo of our very first camellia flower! This flower is probably at least ten feet off the ground, and the rest of the plant soars above it. But look! How pretty.

We Have Three Fewer Closets

As part of the remodel we’re moving the wall between the master bedroom and the master bath to make the master bath a little roomier. As it is, the door can’t be opened all the way because it hits the counter. We’re going to pull the wall back a bit and replace the swinging door with a pocket door (Laura would say Squee or some such at this point).

To do this we have to remove two of the existing closets and rebuild one of them in a slightly different location. This is how things started.

The closet to the left with the swinging door is the linen closet and will be moving to a larger space in the hall. The closet to right is Laura’s and the one that needs to be moved.

And this is how it looks now.

Master closet gone

So, that’s two closets gone. What about the third? Ah, well. The future TV room has a closet (with a water heater in it that will be moving).

The library is on the other side of that closet and we need all the room we can get in the library. So we’re going to rebuild the TV room closet to be only 12 inches deep. That should be plenty for DVDs and the like.

Here are before and after shots.

Library
Before
After
After

So, that’s what I did Monday and Tuesday.

 

Removing Some Paneling and More Board and Batten

Started removing some of the paneling up stairs.

This stuff is actually rather hard to remove. First off, it’s pretty high-quality. The panels overlap at the seams instead of simply butting up against each other. That means that you have to take them off in the right order (i.e., you have to remove the top panel first).

 

In addition to that, they used 2″ nails with heads instead of panel nails in most places. That makes it really hard to get them to pop. Most of them are pulling through.

 

I also removed most of the remaining board and batten in my office.

 

That’s a lot of wood!

Indoor board and batten begins to come down

Monday

On Monday we decided it was “sweep the barn day.” So, we swept the barn. Dave worked on the loft while I swept downstairs. The weather was perfect for manual labor. Well before we were done we were both down to our shirtsleeves, even though it was in the low 50s out there, and the barn doors were wide open.

Dave started by stacking the bales of straw. There are nine of them. The straw and hay ladder will be going to friends who have horses.

I created this pile of, er, sweepings, by attacking this one corner with my broom. I wonder how long it’s been since the barn’s been swept. I’m thinking it’d been quite a while.

More progress! I still have to get in under the sink, behind the wood stoves, and behind the huge air compressor. The easy stuff, the middle of the room, is done now, though. To be Ansel-safe, though, the icky parts in the corners need to be cleaned up, too. No telling what’s back there. I’m sure it’s stuff we don’t want our little boy getting into, whatever it is. Ick.

Tuesday

Dave went up to the house without me, so that I could get some stuff done at my desk for a change. You know, the fun things, like paying bills, balancing checkbooks, and the like. He worked between appointments there. The locksmith came by and changed the lock on the mailbox (the tenant forgot to leave the key for us), the insurance company’s photographer swung by to take some photos, the pest guy came by to say he couldn’t treat for the beetles we have as his truck with that equipment on it needs fixing, but while he was there he treated for carpenter ants and the wasps that we found in the wall a few days before, and… I forget what else happened. I know I’m forgetting someone.

His tasks for the day started with getting up the last of the linoleum from the floor in his office. Well, as much as he could. There’s this one area that’s stuck pretty good. Neither the floor scraper nor the crowbar will lift it. Suggestions, anyone?

We’re hoping that the linoleum in the TV room and downstairs guest room don’t need to be pulled before hardwood goes down, so Dave finished cleaning the carpet pad off the TV room floor as best he could. Those yellow bits are resisting, but super thin. Here’s hoping.

The walls in Dave’s office and the library are board and batten where there’s no brick. Rough cut planks. I don’t know for sure if they are leftovers from the exterior of the house, but to me they look like they might be. Dave might disagree. I don’t think I’ve thought to bring up the topic when he’s been around. Either way, though this is a picture of the outside of the house, and the boards have been painted, this is a good example of what the indoor walls look like, too. This is also shows how lovely (cough) the house looks with more of those white plastic shutters removed.

Next he attacked the walls downstairs. He left walls alone that have switches or outlets or anything else electrical for another day, as we want Ansel to be safe when he comes to visit.

Dave’s wall before

Dave’s wall after

You may have noticed the insulation on the wall. That’s an interior wall. The other side of that wall is the TV room. There’s no insulation on exterior walls in this room, so he left the paneling on those walls for now. What with winter coming on, it could get cold in there with nothing between you and the weather but one layer of 40-year-old cedar exterior siding. Brr.

Dave worked on the library walls a bit, too, again leaving panels where electrical wires could get tangled in Ansel’s sweet little paws.

Wondering what was surprising? Dave found four of these sad little mouse carcasses when he was taking the walls down.

The demolition begins

Dave and I spent about five hours over at our house (that sounds so strange!) yesterday. Mostly we ripped out the carpeting in the TV room and the guest room downstairs. We (meaning Dave) also got started ripping out the carpet in his office, but let’s back up a tiny bit. We also narrowly avoided (especially Dave) getting stung by a bunch of startled wasps.

When we closed escrow we only received two keys, the only two keys that the seller had, both unlocking all exterior doors around the house. The mailbox key? The garage door remotes? Gone. Kept by the last tenants, apparently. Arg. To help keep all and sundry out of our new house, we bought a couple new deadbolts. Dave installed the second one when we got there yesterday. To keep myself busy while he was swapping out the deadbolt on the kitchen door, I took a screwdriver and removed switch plate covers around the living room and dining room, avoiding anything that didn’t use a standard screwdriver. When he was done with the lock, Dave attacked one of the places where cable comes into the house in the living room. Then, suddenly, he was backing up fast, batting at his hair, and making strange noises. You’d be making strange noises, and flailing around, too, if you were suddenly attacked by a bunch of wasps.

Here he’s calmed down a bit, but mostly because he had a can of “instant death” in hand to help fight off the swarm.

We opened up what windows we could (the front windows are glued shut), the door, anything to try to encourage the mean-spirited wee beasties to beat a hasty retreat. (A couple hours later, when all but one were dead or departed, I used the included fireplace tools to sweep up the carcasses, and dump them outside. I also pushed the cover back over the hole the wasps emerged from, to encourage them to stay put.) Later on we found where they’re entering the house. We’ll deal with that another day.

We’d thought to maybe start pulling up the rugs upstairs first off, but decided to begin downstairs. Just in case.

We started with the old mottled brown carpet in the TV room. It matches, sort of, the carpet on the stairs and upper hallway. Really terrifying stuff. We started pulling it up, and were surprised by what we found. No tack strips. No padding layer. Nope. Here we had a thin layer of padding stuff that was stuck to the bottom of the carpet… and to the classic brown linoleum floor below.

And here we were thinking that the carpet was horrible because it was original to the house. Nope. Turns out it’s horrible, because it’s horrible.

(P.S. Everyone wants a water heater in their TV room closet, right?)

Well, that was fun. Yes, we left a bunch of the pad on the floor for later. We moved on to the downstairs guest room.

This is what we were expecting. Tack strip. Pad. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Wait a second, though. Yes, that’s right. They installed the built-in bookcase over the carpet. Oy.

What’s underneath? More brown linoleum, like in the TV room.

Next surprise: they glued the tack strip to the old linoleum floor.

What we both found interesting is that this room looks bigger without the light colored carpet. Must be the shine on the linoleum.

Moving on to Dave’s office we (well, Dave) pulls off the baseboards in preparation.

These walls are horrible. They’ve been a source of frustration for people for quite a while. So far, in pulling out the baseboards and carpeting in Dave’s office we’ve gotten rich, found one red die, and a little plastic toy thing. I wonder what else we’ll find.

In this room, the thin dark brown carpeting is stuck so well to the linoleum that it’s easier to pull up the linoleum than to pull the carpet off of it. So that’s what’s happening here. Strip by painful strip. These things weigh a ton. Dave’s currently wishing he was about 20 years younger. Maybe more. Ouch.

You know what, though? The room already looks tons bigger. Looking forward to getting the rough-cut paneling off the walls in here, too, but that will have to wait until another day.