Friday, August 29, 2008

Blast from the Past #1

Hello everyone!

Well, I've decided to do something 'different' with some of the new posts coming up.

A month or so ago we got a new printer and last night it dawned on me - 'it has a scanner'!

So, I've decided to dig out some of our old photos from storage and post them.

There isn't really going to be a certain order and I might just throw some out for the fun of it. In other words, you'll never know what I'll post!

Now that we have a scanner I thought some of you might like to see pictures from the beginning of this mess. I will warn you now, these posts will be picture heavy - there are hundreds of them!!

Please keep in mind - these are photos scanned into the system, so they are not as good as digital and all the photos were taken using 35mm.

Anyway, let's get this ball rolling by showing pictures taken of the house the day after we found out it was going to be sold, February 20 1999. At the time no one knew if it would be 'sold' or 'auctioned' and no one had lived there for over a year and the owner had just died a few months before.

Our real-estate agent told us that we needed to stay off the property for the time being; so, most of the pics are from the road. She wasn't trying to be rude or mean, it's just that NO ONE knew what was going to happen to the house (we were the first to know) and she was afraid that if we were seen crawling all over word would get out.

Of course, there were times we snuck up to the house and got some closer pictures and looked in the windows (which were so dirty we could hardly see a thing).
Anyway, here are the pics.

Our first view of the house.

If you look to the lower left you can see some bushes in front of the fence. These are actually part of the remains of the roses that grew the entire length of the fence.

I remember these roses from when I was a kid. Unfortunately they were dying out and had a fungus.

You can barely see it, but if you look right behind the first fence post from the right you will see the remains of a HUGE tree stump. That was the first thing to come out once we bought the house. I wish I would have taken a picture of it before getting rid of it.

More of the dying roses, but this time on the east side of the property.

You can aslo see a bunch of the scrub trees and bushes as well as some of the cedars that had to come out.

Just a pic of the garage from a distance.

If you look real close you can see the bumper of a late 30's Sedan peaking out from behind one of the trees. It was sold at the auction as well.

The back of the house. At the time we had no idea that the gravel parking lot we were standing in, to get the picture, was actually part of the back yard!

West lawn.

Again, we had no idea that this second gravel parking lot was part of the yard as well.

I know it is hard to see in these pictures, but there are a ton of scrub trees and bushes all over the yard. If you look hard you can see the layer of leaves. These alone are several inches deep.

This is a picture of the east fence. I was trying to get all the dying roses into the pic. Basically, with one exception, where you see shrubbery instead of fence, those are the main rose bush bodies that had to come out.

Another view of the front.

Notice how you can not see the porch! The side walk in front of it was so overgrown that it could not be seen.

Here I was trying to get the whole fence frontage in the pic.

It didn't work.

I was able to get the entire frontage of the east lawn in this picture though!

Entrance to the west lawn.

Notice that you can not see the porch or the southwest corner of the house!! That’s how bad the scrub was.

There's the boarded up attic window.

Here you can also see the ivy growing all over the back porch. Right now we try to keep it pruned back until we get the back porch re-done. After this we might allow it to grow (controlled) and give this porch that 'ivy covered' look.

In the picture you can also see what looks like a vine growing over the back door. In reality it is a power line going from the garage to the house COVERED in ivy vines.

Oh - to the left of the porch you can also see the old TV antenna which was 10' taller than the house.

An attempt to get the entire face of the west yard in one picture.

Do you see all the grass starting to grow and the pale yellow posts? All of that was part of the yard right before the auction as well.

Another view of the front porch.

Here you can see the evergreens, cedars and bushes, but do you see the brownish stuff on the top edges of it all? That is ivy trying to take over.

By this time the ivy has even been able to make headway into the porch sofits.

The garage with more of the ivy!!

There was also a fence separating the house area from the garage and out-building area.

ALL of this fence is was made of what is known as 'pig wire' around here and is a pain to deal with - especially when 4 to 6 inches are buried!!!

I guess it should be pointed out that this wire fence was not originally buried but became buried over time due to decaying leaves and such that turn to mulch and then dirt.

Here is the front gate as it was seen by the community for as long as I can remember (over 35 years!).

Note - there is no retaining wall or front steps at this point. If you were to walk out the front gate and take about four steps you would then fall (about 4 feet) flat on your face into the street.

Another view of the west lawn entrance.

Again, the pale yellow posts mark the true yard.

Just another shot of the west yard approaching from the far side of the school gym.

The approach from the east.

More of the back.

This is as far north as I could get. I had my back up against the fence that goes around the athletic field to get this picture.

Another view of the west.

I think I was trying to get the full scope of the overgrown trees, shrubs, and scrub.

Funny, even now you can't see the building we tore down. On the left side of the pic, if you look real hard, you can see what appears to be a straight line that runs between the two cedars. That is the roof line of the building we took out.

Not sure what I was trying to get a picture of here.

Again, you can't see the porch.

Do you see the cedar to the right of the house? There were two of these framing the steps of the porch. I'll talk more about those later.

Here is one of the pics we took when we snuck onto the property.

I guess I should point out that all of the pictures we took ON the property were taken on Sunday mornings while most of the town was in church! We figured we would have a better chance of not being seen at that time.

However, more than once we ran into people with the same idea!!

Okay, these last two pictures need some setting up.

The first one we took the day we got 90% of the above photos, the second appeared on the front page of our local paper on December 21 2000.

I have put these two together because they illustrate just how much the house changed in that first year!!

Here is the front.

There are six things that are very noticeable in this picture.

You can not see the house for the most part; there are two HUGE cedars in front; the dying rose bushes; the three globed gas light; no front steps and no retaining wall.

One other thing that can be seen, but isn't as noticeable, is a large, dormant Japanese Maple.

Look to the immediate left of the gas light and you will see the naked branches of the tree. When this thing was in full bloom it was absolutely beautiful and formed a canopy, of a sort, over the gate. It was a very dark, to almost black, purple. Unfortunately it had to come out ASAP. It was dying AND it was the home of a VERY nasty type of bug that traveled from tree to tree killing them. By the time we got the house it was too late to save it (remember - we would not get the house until June 28th - this was February 20th). If we would have gotten the house at the time the picture was taken the tree would have had a good chance of surviving.

Here's the photo taken by the paper.

You can now see the house; we have front steps; and have planted a burning bush (which now has to move).

At the time of this picture, the retaining wall had not even been thought of yet.

Some of you might be asking yourself 'WHY' this picture of our house was on the front page of the local paper - easy answer - IT'S A GEORGEOUS HOUSE!!!!

Seriously, it is on the cover for a couple of reasons. This is the first time in most peoples' memories that the house has ever been decorated for Christmas and has been somewhat cleaned-up. Primarily though, we had a perfect snowfall the night before and just about everyone thought the house looked like a Norman Rockwell painting. Several people came by to take pictures of the house that day and word got around to the paper that they needed to see it.

The view was better at dusk when all the lights were on and the candles were burning in the globes. More about that later though!!

One last thing. I'm not sure why, but for some reason we didn't get pictures of the property between this time and the auction. Perhaps we were afraid of bad juju and that it might jinx us.

Anyway, starting around the last week of May the word got out about what was going to happen to the house. At this time the auction house hired a bunch of people to come and clean out the house and clean up the yard. You know those huge dumpsters people use when re-doing homes? Several of those were filled with junk from the house. People came from all over the place to sneak in and go dumpster diving! At the same time, the company that cleaned up the yard just brought in huge brush cutters to remove the overgrowth. However, the only over growth they removed was located in the parts where the auction would take place and where people would stand.

So, when it was all said and done, the yard was still a jungle. I just REALLY wish we would have had the foresight to take pictures when everything was in full bloom. At that time you could barely see that a house even stood there! Unfortunately, at that time, and until a little over a year ago, I did not take pictures with the thought of posting a blog.

Oh live, you learn.

Anyway, that's enough for today - I need to go mow the lawn.

Till next time....

Larry ~

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Plumbing chase is done...well...almost...

Okay, like the title says - the plumbing chase is done...well...almost...

Let me explain.

The chase IS done, but the final molding trim has not been installed. I am going to wait until the cabinet is done and install the molding trim for both at the same time. I'm not having any luck finding a molding trim that looks like the original, but something similar has got to be out there.

Anyway, as I said, it is done. It took a lot of 'thinking' to come up with a design that would work with the circumstances and complement the house interior. I was about to get really frustrated when it downs on me - THE FOYER COLUMN BASES!!!!

Here's the one closes to the kitchen.

My design is slightly different but not that much. It's hard to see in the picture, but there are two types of trim molding - the one around the base column and top and the one on the inside part of the coffer on the base.

So far both of those are eluding me. I might just find out how much it would cost to replicate them. I thought about scavenging some from the closest but wouldn't you know those two types of molding trim are not in the closets!

Okay, before we get to the chase pictures let's have a look at the 'before' shots.

Plumbing chase circa ???.

We can only speculate that this chase was installed sometime in the 50s or 60s.

It was basically plywood nailed together.

The chase gone!!

Nasty bit of business.

Here is the new chase - well, the beginning of it anyway.

I used Oak for the body and Yellow Heart Pine for the main trim.

Believe it or not - the Pine was more expensive per lineal foot than the Oak!! The good news about the Pine though is that it's a very close match to the original.

The base installed.

Here's the base again.

I forgot to get pictures of the frame work so this is a small attempt. You can, just barely, see the 2x4s attached to the walls.

This is the same method I used to hold the column part with as well.

Base top-cap installed.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to get an accurate 45 degree angle on something like this when the whole house is out of plumb?!! It about drove me crazy!!!

It isn't perfect, but it ain't bad!

And...drum roll please...VOILA!!!

Here it is.

As said early...ain't too bad.

I can't wait to see how it turns out with the trim molding.

Just a close up.

One of the things I did was 'soften' the corner on the base top-cap. I am thinking about doing the same with the rest. I'm thinking that by doing this it might help give the illusion that it is old. There are not too many sharp corners in an old house, especially in high traffic areas.

Well, that's enough on the plumbing chase for now.

So, let me leave you with a 'during' picture of the upstairs landing ceiling.

Hopefully I will be able to finish this tomorrow.

I can't believe how uneven the plaster in such a small place as this could be!! The light box had to be lowered by almost 1/4"!!!

Since the plaster is slightly (by a hair) thicker than the 1/4" drywall it just stymied me that the box had to be lowered!!

Oh well...till next time.

Larry ~

Friday, August 22, 2008

A few steps forward and a big one backwards...

Hello Everyone!!

Yes, we're still alive and kicking. Sorry about not keeping up with the blog as much, but things have been very busy and hectic of late. I have been working on some 'little' projects around the house and the yard, so it's not like I've been sitting on my lazy butt all day.

Anyway, I can finally say that all the plaster work is done in the kitchen!!

It has been a slow, and painful, ordeal that has taken a lot longer than imagined - but it's done!! I guess a big part of the problem with it taking so much time is that I'm a bit of a perfectionist. A perfectionist SHOULD NOT do plaster work in an old house - it will drive you nuts!!!

Well, here are the pics! Sorry about the quality, but for some reason some of them seem a bit fuzzy.

The divider wall.

You might notice a few 'splotches'. Those are not divots, or imperfections. I used a new batch of mud to do the fill in work and for some reason it is a different shade of white.

These two wall are virtually laser straight!

Remember how bad the ceiling was where the this light attached? Turned out better than I thought it would (I hate mudding - especially ceilings!!).

When I went to prep the spot I had chunks of the old plaster board ceiling fall out. The original plaster ceiling could be seen about three inches up.

Unfortunately you can see the spots from the original work that was done sometime in the 50s (?).

Just a view of the other light and back corner.

The chimney chase.

Hopefully, the next time I show a picture of this area it will be highlighting a new cabinet!

The big nasty spot on the ceiling.

No matter what I do I know it is going to crack again.

For some reason the support the old drywall is attached to seems not to be very effective in this spot.

I guess I wont worry too much about it though since we plan to install a tin ceiling at some point.

The spot above the door leading into the dinning room.

It's a shame you guys can't see how flat and smooth these walls are now. Maybe I'll get a laser level on it and get a picture!

I did forget to get a couple of other pictures though, so I'll have to remember them for next time. I got the top cap (the part the trim and finish top will be attached to) on that half wall by the sink. Don't even get me started on that wall! I had to do it over more times than I care to remember. It seems that each time I got a coat of plaster mud up a cat would jump on top of it. When they would jump down they put their front paws on the wall surface and leave prints and scratches!!!

I finally had to rig up some tin foil to keep them away.

The other pic would have been the two new electrical outlets by the cabinets. I'll tell THAT story when I show a pic or two. Let's just say it wasn't fun.

Now for the bad part.

I had a nice amount of mud left over and didn't want to waste it, so, in my infinite wisdom I decided to patch those two spots in the upstairs landing.

Remember these?

Before Pics

Well, up the ladder I went to clean the edges and get them ready for the plaster mud.

Have you ever had those times when you knew what was about to happen, but there was nothing you could do about it. Well, this was one of those times.

For some reason I could tell a big chunk of the plaster was about to go - WOOOSH - down it came, on top of me.

I guess I should have gotten a 'before' pic, but I was so filthy I decided to just go ahead and cut the plaster back to the solid areas. Think of it like dead have to cut it back to live skin to get the graph to work.

Anyway, here is a pic of the ceiling now.

Nice ain't it?

I'm glad I was thinking on my feet though. Below is a pic of what was under part of that ceiling.

Like I said, I just knew it was going to give, so I threw myself across the ladder to protect the secretary.

The plaster was so fragile that it harmlessly deflected off my back and head; it just covered me in a heavy coat of plaster dust, dust and grime. At least the 100+ year old secretary was unharmed!!

Well, so now I need to make a trip to the big city to get some 1/4" drywall. I have a piece but it just isn't big enough. So tomorrow I will patch the new 'hole' and start finishing it.

I guess Percy just didn't like me messing in his area!

While at the lumberyard I will be picking up the wood for the new plumbing chase in the kitchen - WOOWHO!!!

Next week I will trim out the chase and get started on the floor. Wish me luck.

I will leave you with the following picture.

I've been trying to find this picture for quite a while now and came across it last night.

Wouldn't something like this be cool in the attic!!!

Till next time....

Larry ~