Monday, June 27, 2011

Progress, in progress.

Things are going smoothly now after the cabinet fiasco.  I'm kind of glad it's out of there.  Now that I see how the overall look of the bathroom will be after the shower is built, I'm not so sure it would've fit the decor.

The bathroom's painted.  It took two coats of the Behr primer and two coats of the Eddie Bauer.  The Behr covered very well but just needed the extra coat for good measure.  I'm starting to suspect Ms. Laura's sister smoked.  That end of the house was hers.  I didn't suspect smoking since I didn't smell any residual odors but when I took down the cover to the exhaust fan, it was extra funky.  Yellow and all gummy and just nasty.  Anyway, the paint color turned out fantastic and was exactly what I had hoped; white with just a very feint hint of grey.  If you're ever using the Valspar Eddie Bauer paint, work quickly.  I'm no slacker but by the time I had cut in and gone back to start rolling, the roller started sticking to the brush strokes and it almost blistered.  It would've been better had I not cut in the whole room first, but did each wall at a time to keep it fresh.  This paint dries very quickly, and I still prefer Behr for consistency, coverage, and workability.

The antique medicine cabinet and sink are in place and the whole room looks amazing despite still having an ugly yellow fiberglass shower (I just shut the curtain and try not to acknowledge it).  For the sink, I chose to keep the original basin taps that came on it.  They appeared to be in good shape except for a small amount of pitting.  Plus, I didn't have the money to spend on a new faucet like I wanted, which basically looked like these, anyway.  I also used rigid supply lines and chrome piping for a more authentic look since flexible lines weren't available long ago.  Those details made a major difference, I think.  When I had initially tried the electrical connections on the medicine cabinet, nothing worked.  I bought two new starters for the ballasts and two new bulbs and now everything's good as new.  Without a doubt, that cabinet is the item that really ties the room together.  I texted my friend, Jeff, and told him I could never thank him enough for such a cool housewarming gift and sent him a photo of it, finally in its place after fifty-one years in a box.  Since it was in the original box I didn't want to destroy all the packing just for nostalgia's sake, so I saved the shipping label.  I also took a picture of the back of the sink where it's stamped with the date of manufacture.  I had to use a pencil and smudge it with my finger so the impression could be seen.  How nice it is to finally have a sink in there and not have to stick my hands in the shower to wash them!  I can't help but wonder if this is what the bathroom would've looked like, had it been a part of the original house and not an add-on.

Guess where I was sitting when I took this picture?  :-)

Sink date:  February 8, 1945

"Bin No. 11  Date:  2/5/60  Register No. 1755"
"From C.M. McClung & Co.  The Home of Honest Hardware"
"Just over at Knoxville Tennessee"
"To:  Wagner Hdw & (looks like 'F' and can't read the rest)"
"Statesville, NC"

Good luck getting warm water.  It's either hot or cold unless you swish your hands back and forth really fast.

Nurturin' my babies

The vegetable garden is doing great!  I've only lost three plants.  One tomato plant met its demise due to early blight and another was found broken over beyond repair.  A squash plant also broke and had to be thrown on the compost pile although I never compost tomato plants due to their disease-carrying propensities.  There are a ton of baby veggies forming, including tomatoes, eggplant and peppers and I can't wait for them to mature for harvest.  It's like eggplant parmesan in the embryonic stages.  The voles never made it into the vegetable beds, or at least not that I have seen and I have been extremely vigilant.  They never tripped any of the traps, but the Rozol bait has proven to be as palatable as is claimed.  A body count would be nice but just knowing they've nommed up their fate right from their own tunnel is satisfaction enough for me.  Brian's hunting trips to dig into their tunnels may have also helped repel them, and at least he and I like to think that's the case since he has such a fun time digging.  There have been fewer fresh tunnels seen and fewer flower losses since my attack began.  If you need Rozol, buy it up and buy it now because as soon as homeowner-accessible nurseries run out of it, they can't restock because its status has changed and will now only be available to people with a pesticide applicator's license.  Trust me, it does work. 

Disclaimer:  I covered each Rozol-baited tunnel with an upside down clay pot weighted down with a rock.  I didn't want anything that I didn't want dead to get into it, including squirrels, bunnies and BRIAN.  I don't like chemicals but had no other choice.

Purple coneflower

Chinese eggplant.  I have some of the regular variety, also.

Roma tomatoes

First the smell..........

then the dirt goes a'flyin'

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Blast from the past

One of Ms. Laura's nephews, Bernard, was the executor of her estate and one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet.  On the day of closing, he said he has a picture of the house on the day it was finished in 1937 and that I could have it.  I was thrilled!  Imagine how rare it would be to have someone provide the history of a 75 year-old home!  With photos!  Late yesterday afternoon, he called to ask if I would be home for a while and if he could stop by and bring the picture.  Coincidentally, yesterday was my birthday.  There's no way he would've known but he had just offered the best birthday present I could've possibly received.  I was stunned when I saw the photo!  I knew there had been three rooms, a carport and the front porch added on sometime after the initial construction, but had no idea how those changes really affected the overall appearance of the home I see today.  Bernard said that Laura and Ray were married in 1936 and began construction on the house, but that it wasn't finished until 1937.  He said there are many more pictures to be perused and he believes his cousin has them.  He also has Laura's and Ray's marriage license, so I asked if I could borrow it to make a copy.  I really don't want a lot of their photos and "artifacts" but I think a few would make interesting conversation pieces.  It's funny how the simplest things in life really can bring the most excitement. 

Sometimes, a change of scenery can really change your pace in life.  This change of moving back out to the country also brought with it the chance to meet good people and be a part of a great community.  I couldn't be happier.

Original house!

Caption on back of photo.  $1,800.00!!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The defiant cabinet

I've decided I'm not meant to finish this bathroom.  As in ever.  Each time I start on something, a problem arises.

Saturday I was feeling inspired and in a painting mood so I wanted to try the new primer I bought.  Being the Behr fan I am, in lieu of Kilz I bought their "Interior Enamel Undercoater Primer & Sealer No. 75."  It sounded impressive.  The can states:

"For use on all new and previously painted interior surfaces. Ideal over oil or water-based coatings, heavy stains and glossy surfaces. Provides maximum stain resistance by locking in stains. Creates a uniform finish with improved hiding, adhesion, flow and leveling. This 100% styrene acrylic latex primer is mildew-resistant and backed by a lifetime guarantee."

Perfect!  Exactly what I wanted!  I couldn't wait to get started to see if it would cover the yellowing.  Thus far, I've only done the cutting in, but it's just as white today as it was Saturday upon application.

The other Saturday incident is what prevented me from doing more than the cut-in.

There was (notice was) a wooden cabinet over the toilet.  Cute, little two door homemade wooden cabinet.  It isn't deep enough to hold linens but would do for other items not suitable for a medicine cabinet.  I didn't want to take it down and figured I'd paint the walls around it, and paint it white later.  Once I started cutting around the cabinet with the primer, it left a brush-stroke-like texture I despise seeing under an otherwise good roller job.  It seemed logical enough:  take down the cabinet, paint the walls, paint the cabinet while it's down, and rehang the cabinet when all is dry.  I got it loose from the wall and quickly realized that was a huge mistake.  Huge.  It was much heavier than anticipated, then only slightly dislodged from the wall and got stuck.  It had originally been built in-place in the 26" wide recessed toilet area and with the house settling, I couldn't get it out.  I could spin it downwards from top (tilt the top towards me) or upwards from the bottom (tilt the bottom towards me) but it's like there was an invisible spindle holding it tightly about 9" out from the wall at a highly unstable angle.  I couldn't even slide/push/force it back into place.  Praying that the laws of physics were on my side and it wouldn't fall and smash the toilet, I left it suspended while I reached for the hammer.  I knocked off the doors and side moulding but it made little difference.  I thought, "Congratulations.  Now it's partially disassembled and only 1" closer to being removed."  I finally got it out after having a temper tantrum since that's the only way I had enough strength to wrestle it.  I was so sweaty and out of breath and disgusted, I walked away and didn't even look at it again until the next day.  The sheetrock was torn all to Hell on both sides and had to be mudded in probably ten places where the wood corners scraped so badly.  The back wall, where the cabinet hung, had old, caked-on paint that traced the cabinet outline, so that had to be sanded and patched, and some of the corner paper joint had pulled loose over time and had to be re-mudded.  There is no way I'm going to modify the cabinet to put it back, since it has little practical use.  I think I'll find some vintage shelving to use for stacking linens, and find another use for the cabinet.

I'm going to give the whole priming job another try when I get off work today, and see what other minor catastrophe I can create.
Accidental smiley face created by trying paint samples above a drywall patch.  You can see the nice, white primer on the inside corner.

Ridiculously narrow toilet area.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I'm going on a murderous rampage

The voles are still getting the best of me.  I've tried the castor oil repellant, and also have peanut butter & oatmeal baited traps set at four tunnel entrances.  It was just plain sarcasm on the vole's behalf for me to come home yesterday and find it had circumvented one of the traps and popped up a new hole about two inches from it, next to a bee balm, and ate over half the plant.  I've introduced Brian to the tunnels ("Look Brian!  Look!  Who's in there?  Who's in there?  Git it!") and let him dig as much as he wants to destroy them and hopefully help repel the voles with his scent.  He has great fun at it, plus it's highly amusing to watch him.  He throws dirt everywhere and looks so proud and satisfied when he's done.  I told Other Half that I wasted money buying a tiller when I could've used Brian, instead.  For a little guy, he sure can plow up some ground.

Anyone have ideas on how to help rid my place of these destructive nuisances?

Can't you just see the contempt & sarcasm on his hairy little face?
(This is a photo I stole from Google image.  Had I taken the photo, it would've had slightly more blood and guts on it at this point.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

If you're going to have friends, make sure they're talented.

Admittedly, I'm not much on socializing.  There have been periods of my life where I was in the stay-out-until-3am crowd but as a whole, I've stayed to myself.  As I've gotten older, I've become more reserved and definitely more appreciative of the few friends I do keep close.  They're the kind that totally out of the blue can offer the most unique perspective on any given topic and know they can be completely blunt, and often harsh, with me and it won't be taken personally.  They're also the kind that have rare talents; the "lost arts" that are getting more obsure and obsolete by the day as people's lives become busier.  Two are gifted musicians, another can bake the most delectable treats (especially German faire), and my buddy Barb can knit or crochet anything she sets her mind to and can even come up with her own patterns or modify existing ones to suit the occasion.  And she's quick.  It's like her needles have their own Riverdance rhythm.  Like if hunmmingbirds could Riverdance.  She works a full-time job and can still crank out the most beautiful creations in nothing flat with the blinding flurry of her fingers.  When she found out I was buying an older home, she said that as a housewarming gift she would make me a doily of my choice and brought me a huge stack of needlework magazines to choose a pattern.  I decided on one that looked sturdy but still dainty, as I'd love it to last the rest of my life.  Two or three days later, she brought me two doilies, exactly as they had appeared in the magazine photo.  She was working on a similar, but more complicated one that is massive in the doily world.  It's probably thirty inches across.  I asked her what she was going to do with it and she said she didn't know, so I offered to buy it from her.  Again, two or three days later, I found it on my desk.  She refused to take payment and just told me "happy housewarming."  Now, if she could just crochet me a new shower and a two-car garage, I'd be in business............

One of the two smaller ones (maybe 12" across)

The mack daddy

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Yellow paint does not a happy Red make

Other Half calls me "Red."  This is a well known fact among his friends and family, some of whom have no idea of my real name.  They'll just ask him how Red's doing or if Red's going with him someplace, etc.  You get the picture.

Now my title makes more sense to you.  On to the story.

Trying to settle on paint colors for the master bathroom remodel wasn't easy.  For one, it's a tiny bathroom of about 35sf with no window.  I also wanted to stay true by using original 1930s colors.  Despite being a huge fan of Behr paint, they didn't have any collections I could use.  Eddie Bauer paints, Sherwin Williams, and California Paints offers historic colors by era/period.  I chose Eddie Bauer based on the wide color selection and ease of availability.  After choosing colors for the master bedroom and bath, I almost unknowingly made the mistake of painting them to match.   Other Half mentioned that he thought the colors would be too dark for such a tiny space.  Fortunately, I had only painted a small strip of color on the ceiling to see how it would look.  After further researching bathroom paint colors from the '30s, I found they are almost always white or a shade of white, even if other rooms are brightly colored.  Apparently, it has to do with presenting the image of cleanliness and sterility.  I regrouped and decided for the walls to use a white that has just the ever-so-faintest hint of grey in an eggshell finish, and to use Behr white ceiling paint.  I bought samples of Travertine and Gelato and painted about a one-foot square of each on the wall.  Both were too dark.  Next I tried Honeysuckle (just to see how a tan/white would look) and Oyster.  Oyster was exactly what I was looking for. 

When I did the drywall patches on the wall, the joint compound dried to a yellowy hue where it touched the existing paint, but stayed white on the new drywall.  This seemed odd, but I attributed it to the water content in the mud leeching something from the old paint.  Since this bathroom was constructed in 1984, I knew lead paint wasn't involved and the house never smelled of smoke so I wasn't concerned of nicotine stains.  Just as a good rule of thumb to prepare old walls for painting, everything had been washed about two weeks ago with a TSP solution.

Yesterday afternoon I was eager to get the ceiling done so I could continue with the walls.  It would make little sense to hang the sink and install the medicine cabinet without first painting.  Only the recessed toilet area and the sink wall will be painted now, waiting to do the rest until after the shower is built.  I cut in the ceiling, and about fifteen minutes later when I got the roller started, the cut-in was already yellowing.  I went ahead and painted the rest of the ceiling to see what would happen.  After drying, which should have been a brilliant, bright white, it was impossible to tell that I had just put on a fresh coat.  The ceiling was almost an ecru color.  There had been no patches done on the ceiling, so I was especially confused.  I went online and read a few articles, learned why the paint (both old and new) had yellowed and contacted Behr and Kilz to get further advice.  They both said to use Kilz Original if I didn't mind the paint thinner/mineral spirit clean-up, or to use Kilz Premium if I'd rather go the soap-and-water route, and to put a coat over what I did yesterday to seal in the old paint and any yellowing compounds.  I have a new gallon of Kilz Original, but will be swapping it for the Premium since I have no easy and safe method of disposing of the chemicals.  More time, more money.  Frustrating, but will all be worth it.  We'll see how it goes after priming.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mares eat oats and does eat oats but little voles eat rudbeckia.

I'm learning the pitfalls of having lawn rodents.

I've never dealt with tunnelling rodents on such a large scale but the war has begun.  I'm not a big "grass person" and was kind of happy to think there were natural grub predators living on my property, thus hopefully wiping out the majority of Japanese beetles that could potentially destroy my vegetable plants and flowers.  Sadly, I was wrong thinking that I had moles.  I have voles.  Under one of the native beds ran multiple tunnels with several entrances, and I was sort-of okay with that when I thought it was moles.  When I first noticed them, the tunnels didn't lead directly under the plants so I wasn't concerned with root damage. 

Remember the Bugs Bunny cartoons when you can see a moving tunnel and watching carrots pop down into the hole as he's travelling along?  Twice now I've gone out to discover two of my biggest and happiest rudbeckias half gone, with a hole near the damage and the entire plant barely in place because of a root tunnel.  I immediately got the Bugs vision in my head, figuring that's what happened to my flowers as I slept.  A little online research has educated me that I have voles and not moles.  Yesterday, on that one bed, I sprayed on some castor oil repellent and watered it into the soil and will also try setting traps baited with peanut butter at the tunnel openings.  I don't like killing anything but I also don't like things killing my plants, either.  I'll see which one is more effective before going on to working on the pests in the front yard, as I have almost no grass there and joke about "mowing the dirt."  I don't want the little buggers moving onto another tastier part of the land. 

And, although I don't like the movie, I do have a better understanding of Caddyshack and the mole wars.

Please feel free to put me out of my misery if I start acting like Carl Spackler.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Good fences make good neighbors.....

but great people make great neighbors.

This post isn't about the house.  It's about something much more important; the people who live around me.  Here's the most recent example of the good side of human nature I've rediscovered since moving back out to the country.

Last night around 9:00, I went to put the 'Splorer under the carport.  I leave it out when I'm working outside so I have more room to move around at the back door.  Turned the  clickclickclick....clickityclickity....clickclickclick.  Nothing.  Engine didn't even try to crank.  Instrument panel black as coal.  Aside from being furious that there was yet another problem with a vehicle that only has 54,000 miles, I wasn't happy that rain is expected later today and my windows were down and the sunroof was open a bit.  I needed to get the car pushed under the carport to avoid damage from a thunderstorm or else one of the neighborhood stray cats (yet another pet {no pun intended} peeve:  irresponsible pet owners) jumping inside and peeing/spraying.  I could faintly hear the next-door neighbors outside enjoying the evening, since the earlier 96deg temperature had finally subsided.  In my pajamas, I shuffled over to see if they would mind helping us push the vehicle.  Instead, they came over with a charger of-a-thing and hooked it up and fiddled with all kinds of stuff to at least get the windows rolled up and the sunroof closed.  This morning I went out to try starting it again.  Still nothing, but the neighbors were out for their morning walk and came over again to see if we could get it going.  Thank goodness for my alternative mode of transportation, the z750/blue blur.  I popped out the starter relay switch from the 'Splorer, hopped on the bike and took off.  If that, a new battery and maybe replacing a faulty ignition switch doesn't fix the problem, a good sledgehammer might.

Despite a highly frustrating situation and being a couple of minutes late for work, I'm really not as irritated as I would've been had I still lived in the big city.  My neighbors not only took time out of their evening but also their morning routine to help me.  As we were parting ways last night, Other Half thanked them for coming over and said to them, "Hey that's something you don't find in (local big city name)" to which the husband replied, "You got that right.  That's exactly why we live out here."

'Nuff said.