Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Jambo from the Heart of Africa!!

That's right - from the Heart of Africa.

The past several days have been incredibly busy for SWMBO and I. From a quick trip to Africa to a couple of family reunions, to finding our house colors in south east Kansas.

Where shall we begin - Africa?

Africa it is....

And here we are - the train depot.

Actually it's a train depot that's been converted into a Museum. Not just a museum, but the #1 museum in Kansas! It is also one of THE best safari museums in the world.

Okay - so I'm cheating; we didn't really go to Africa but the museum was so good it's as if we could have been there.

The museum is the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum in Chanute Kansas.

If you are ever in the Chanute KS area you NEED to make time to see this place.

Their collection of ceremonial African masks is perhaps one of the best in the nation and I have seen a few so trust me on this one.

And here is Martin and Osa Johnson themselves.

Cool picture isn't it?

I would love to have a similar one of SWMBO and I taken - with Grover in the background of course.

This is one of a pair of Giraffes that are in the foyer of the museum. They are carved from wood.

This lion skin rug is made from the pelt of one of the lions Osa actually killed.

Part of her job was to protect her husband from the animals while he took photos or filmed (this was before telephoto lenses). She was a crack shot and would have to take down an occasional animal that charged them.

These are headdresses from one of the East African tribes.

To give an idea of just how big these are, that's SWMBO standing next to them for scale.

Another interesting thing is how they were kept upright on the head. There is a mouth piece in the part that covers the face. The wearer clamps down on this with his teeth to keep it upright.

These are some Maasai (Masai) shields and weapons.

I've always been fascinated with the Maasai people as well as the Zulu.

As a kid I use to pretend I was on safari in the lands of the Maasai and Zulu, to name just a couple tribes. Usually I was looking for Dr. Livingstone.

Here's another shot of some Maasai items. I really wish this picture had turned out better so you could see the funny looking oval thing.

This is what that oval thing is - a traditional Maasai warriors feathered headdress.

I was fortunate enough to snag an authentic Maasai ceremonial spear before we left. That puppy will look nice on the wall! Now if I could only get a shield to go with it.

After our time 'in Africa' we headed to SWMBO's ancestral stomping grounds - Iola Kansas.

We went for a couple of family reunions. Had one on Saturday and another one on Sunday.

Even though the reunions were fun the main event was the house we found!!

The house was found by accident and is almost identical to our place. There are some differences, but there's enough similarity that our houses could be related.

Best part - WE LOVED THE COLORS!!!!

So, after driving around the block three times we decided to stop and talk to the owner. He was out in his yard each time we drove past; I was beginning to get the idea he thought we were stalking him.

While talking, he gave us permission to snap a few pictures. Below are just a few.

If you wrapped the porch on around, and removed the second floor bay, this would be our house.

What do you think of the colors?

They look more tan in the photos, but they are actually more green.

The owners painted the house three years ago, however, they still had the paint names and color numbers. Talk about luck. It's as if we were meant to see this house.

A view of the front. There is a bay like ours.

Note the balcony as well as roof pediment - cool eh?

Did you notice the porch, and balcony ceilings? They're sky blue.

We would like to have a pediment above our front door some day and are actually planning a similar balcony for the back porch.

A closer view of the colors.

As you can see, several of the windows are different than ours but most are the same.

A better view of the balcony and pediment.

Don't you just like that blue?!

Now take a close look at this picture - the fish scale specifically.

This is the first house we have found with the exact same style, and pattern, of fish scale that ours has. The only difference is that the fish scale ends at the top of the window.

I'm sure there are other houses out there with the same style and pattern but we have not seen one in person yet.

When we told the relatives about the house some of them, those who have seen our place, wanted to drive by and see the colors too. They all agreed that the colors would look great on our house.

Okay - let's get back to our house.

After our short time away I got busy scraping again - when the rain and heat would let me that is. BTW - yesterday was the first official day of our first heat wave of the season here in Kansas.

The east side...

The south side...

And a panoramic view.

You've heard of 'Painted Ladies'? Well, ours is a 'Naked Lady'.

For the fun of it, here are a couple pictures showing my vantage points.

This one is from the south side looking south east.

Not a lot of space between the back end of the platform and the roof edge, about three feet; and it's steep.

It's so steep that I had to wedge the shop vac in some cable to make sure it didn't roll over the edge while moving the platforms. It did anyway. Luckily the thing hit the grass and not the side walk.

Today it tried doing it again but this time it was on the platform and I stopped it in time.

Sandra - this next view is for you!!

This is how close I had to get to the edge to scrape.

I don't mind heights, but I would prefer some sort of railing when this close to the edge.

Tomorrow I'm going to set up some extra safety devices. The next step in scraping will require ladders on those platforms. You know how I hat ladders, and at that height to boot! I'll keep you informed on what measures we take.

Here's a better view of the original colors. Too bad a color photo doesn't exist of the house before being painted white.

It's kind of hard to see, but if you look at the bottom edges of some of the fish scale you can see the original color - deep emerald green.

The color doesn't come out as well as seeing it in person, but it's there.

I will leave you with this final picture.

Can you tell what it is?

Take a close look.

Any idea?


It's a bullet.

That's right - a bullet!!

It's about the size of a 9mm round. I found it embedded on the east side near the northern most window. This window is in the room the previous owner used as a study. We now use it as our library. Makes one wonder if someone was out to get the guy.

Anyway, that's about it for now.

Till next time...

Larry ~

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

un Petit Projet

Hello Everyone!

We kind of took a break from house scraping for the past few days. The weather has not been our friend. It's been either too hot and muggy (mid 90s are high for Kansas this time of year) or too wet.

Even though the scraping was neglected we did finish un petit projet so we could say we got something done.

Do you remember this little cabinet, the one that was partially completed?

We decided to finish it.

Even though it was hot outside it wasn't too bad in the shade and there was a breeze once in while.

Besides, we didn't want to get all the sanding dust in the house!

So there it lies - in all it's pieces.

The sanding didn't take all that long - maybe 4 hours. What took the most time was the staining and finishing.

It was so hot, and kind of steamy, that it took a lot longer for the stain to dry. After this came the tinted shellac. Another problem we had was that one of the big drawers, and the top, did not handle the shellac well and they had to be re-done.

Once the shellac was dry one coat of polyurethane was applied. Since the cabinet is going to be in the kitchen we thought the extra protection of the poly would be a good idea. The bad part is that it took almost 3 times the amount of time to dry.

Once dried I lightly sanded the top and prepped it for the last coat of poly. This coat had to sit for 24 hours; so, as of 6PM our time I was able to attach the top.

And here is the finished project.

Not too bad...

There are some spots where we were not able to get some stains out as well as 'something else' we can't identify. All-n-all though it looks good.

While working on the cabinet outside we did have a visitor.

Mr. Toad.

SWMBO said we should have stuck a fist next to Mr. Toad because the picture doesn't do him justice. This guy is almost as wide as a soft ball.

Not sure where he lives, but it's somewhere around the back patio.

Well, till next time...

Larry ~

Friday, June 4, 2010

Front Porch Walls Finished & a Couple of Surprises

Finally!! The front porch walls are all finished...the scraping at least.

We can't believe how long it took to scrape all the intricate, detailed, hard to get to places. Thank goodness we don't have one of those real ornate Victorians!

As mentioned in the title we had a few surprises the past few days while scraping.

The first was the inner trim surrounding the window inserts on each side of the door as well as the inserts themselves. Two different colors of stain were used - presumably to contrast and highlights.

In this picture you can see the whole door / side window setup sans paint.

In this one you can see the darker stain of the side window inserts as well as the lighter stain of the wood holding it in.

Now this is where it gets real interesting...

See the darker stain? Well, it was top-coated with either shellac, varnish or something else. Whatever the top-coated was made the thick layers of paint slough off like pealing skin when the heat gun was applied. In fact, the paint puffed up! It reminded me of a piece of Kraft American Cheese fried or broiled. If you've ever seen this done you'll know what I'm talking about. Even the fine detail came out more crisp and clean than when using the other stripper.

This led to the next surprise.

While scraping the paint off the dark stained area I kept thinking to myself "man - this reminds me of something, but I can't put my finger on it."


So I grabbed the heat gun and went inside.

Now remember, this is what the pedestals separating the foyer and living room look like now.

The one above is on the right - looking into the foyer.

This is the pedestal on the left side after only about 30 minutes of work (if that) with the heat gun.

It still needs cleaning up. I think using alcohol and 0000 steel-wool will do the trick. The larger pieces of paint just need to be flicked off.

But just look at the stain and patina under there!!!!

Isn't this AWESOME!!!

Based on the amount of time it took to do the pedestal it would probably take just a week-end to remove the paint from the rest of the trim/molding in the living room. Another major plus is that it's by far easier to clean up than using the stripper we used in the kitchen.

Why oh why wasn't the trim and molding in the kitchen this easy?!?!?!?!

Before I forget, see the electrical outlet to the left, and the hole above it? Look around the hole and you will see dark streaks on the wall paper. When we first got the house SWMBO plugged something into the outlet. It burst into flames - scorching the wall and destroying the outlet. When the outlet was replace we lowered it. Now there is a hole in the wall. Eventually it'll get fixed.

Anyway...moving on...

For grins-n-giggles here's a picture of our house guest from last week-end. She is sharing Izzy's favorite perch; the one that allows her to look out the front door.

Aren't they cute?
Actually - they're more like little monsters.

Izzy's little friend is named 'Princess'. She is the baby of SWMBO's uncle Jimmy, the one who was helping us scrap a few weeks back.

HEY! Come to think of it... See the dark streaks in the molding in the picture? That's the dark stain coming through.

Well, that's about it for now. It's getting late and I'm tired.

Till next time...