Bittersweet

Sometimes I am particularly struck by how bittersweet this life is. The same day a friend delivered her baby several weeks prematurely, I heard my friend’s mother is at the end of her battle with cancer. She hasn’t left us yet, but the news isn’t good and her time here is short. Little P is beginning his fragile journey here with us as Mrs. M is wrapping hers up. Joy and sorrow bundled together.

On the one year anniversary of a young mother’s death from our community, I was struck again by how intertwined joy and sorrow are. I wasn’t close but her family is constantly in my prayers as they move forward without their mother and wife. That same day I found out my cousin and his wife are expecting their first baby. What a gift!! A new baby cousin to love on for years to come! Joy and sorrow bundled together.

My grandpa is 94 and living with my parents. His dementia continues to progress and it takes it’s toll on everybody sometimes. A few weeks ago my mom was out of town and my dad was helping at my house, so I took Grandpa out for a spin. As we drove through town, stopping for errands, he reaches over to squeeze my hand. He tells me what a good driver I am and I tell him that I enjoy driving with him. He can’t comprehend a lot of what I tell him, but I repeat it in short cheery snippets I think he can grasp and answer the same question 12 gazillion times. His days here are numbered. The days where he can communicate how much he appreciates my driving are numbered. It gives me pause to realize that I am driving around with Jesus– sometimes in his most distressing disguise (as Mother Teresa put it) as the endless question loop. If Jesus asked me that same question over and over again, what would I do? Squeeze his hand and explain again that we’re heading to the dump where I’ll empty the trailer. Smile and tell him what good company he is, put on that 1968 baseball game for the 500th time, and cover him with a blanket. Joy and sorrow bundled together.

Living in community, I see examples of this over and over again. As much as I wish it was all joy, there’s something incredibly raw and beautiful and important about sharing our sorrow with one another. It strikes me that we are all part of this continuum, in and out of each other’s lives and stories and joys and sorrows. It’s a beautiful and intricate and confusing braid of lives intertwined. It isn’t MY story, it is OUR story. I’m just a small but important thread in the tapestry being woven into something beautiful with the people around me. And ultimately, we are made for heaven. It isn’t just about our story here, but our story for eternity. Home.

I can’t help but think this is the good stuff and also the hardest stuff there is. Loving other people means we hurt with them, mourn with them, and rejoice with them. We can’t and shouldn’t try to separate it. If I didn’t invest in people and relationships, my life would have a lot less suffering in it — and it would be missing the joy that comes with loving people. Joy and sorrow bundled together. Recognizing that we need each other so very much.

So today, my heart is heavy for the loss and the suffering around me and at the same moment filled with joy for the gift of new life and the gift of so many dear people to share this road with. Joy and sorrow bundled together. Intricate. Complicated. Raw. Breathtakingly beautiful.

 

Floor Tile at last!

Last week the progress finally felt like it was moving forward at more than a snail’s pace. I had scheduled a lot of time to be home (woooooo) which helps in the progress department.

Monday night I picked up tools and made sure I had all the supplies– and then spent the evening with my second family (one of the many) playing games and catching up.  And then I set some tiles on the subfloor to pretend I accomplished something (#honestproject).

I picked this tile from Lowes. I loved the large tiles, the color, the variation in the tile, but the shimmer in it nearly scared me off. I got over it, purchased the tile, and don’t even notice the shimmer on the floor. Whew. Crisis averted.

 

Tuesday night I installed the backer board for the tile. It was, of course, more complicated than I hoped and the pros say to put it down with mortar and screws (I wasn’t initially anticipating the mortar part). So getting the last wonky spots by the tub leveled with shims and floor leveling compound and then getting the whole thing covered in backer board took the evening.

Wednesday night I started on the tile. This is my first time tiling (which kind of surprises me) but I suppose you have to start somewhere. They make it look so simple on HGTV. And it isn’t rocket science, but as I spend the entire long evening getting so few tiles in place, mostly learning to use the tile saw, and figuring out some complicated cuts. It makes me appreciate the pros and that I am far from being a pro!

My sister recently tiled at her house, so they loaned me their tile saw and tools and I am so grateful to not have to buy my own! My brother in law warned me that since they had bought the $90 saw, the blade guard is trash and doesn’t work so the saw sprays water at you while it cuts. Okay, that sounds harmless. And it was harmless but not without its own particular charm. Mind you, it isn’t just spraying water at you – it is spraying tile dust water at you. So by the end of the evening, your hair has the same texture as straw, sort of cemented together in tile dust. Your entire front is soaked, and you have to clean your safety glasses off after every cut. Fancy.

And still, I’m so grateful for the loan of the saw so I didn’t have to rent or buy one (and believe me, I would have bought this same saw because of the price).

The trickiest spot is that heating vent, that would have been mid-tile which wasn’t working (ask me how many tiles I broke trying to make that work).  And of course, it was the first line of tiles while I was getting used to the saw and its nuances. So I did a thin row of tiles along the edge and incorporated the vent as the second row (on the edge) so as to make the cuts around it. Live and learn.

At 9.30 pm, I realized my mortar was setting up fast and I might need more — and of course, the Blue Store closes at 10. Sigh. So I drop everything, run to the store for more mortar, meant to pee there and forgot, and was home by 10 to continue. I think it was around 11 pm as I stood on my deck, a torchiere lamp lighting the tile operation, being sprayed in the face with tile water and dust, moths fluttering around my head, mortar goop all over my whole body, cringing as I used that loud saw, hoping the neighbors had fans in their windows to muffle the racket. I just had to laugh at myself and the whole situation. Yup, this is the definition of insanity or tenacity. You decide.  I finished up around midnight– and by finished, I mean I put things away because I was half done with the bathroom and it was past time to go to bed. Of course, I couldn’t shower because there was freshly installed tile that I couldn’t walk on… so I slept filthy and showered in the morning when the mortar was dry.

 

Thursday evening I finished up the tile. It felt like I was getting the hang of it and I made more complicated cuts with less trouble and less broken tiles. I finished up shortly after 10 pm. Wooooo! It really looks great. I’m not saying there aren’t imperfections and I guarantee this won’t be my best ever tiling job, but I am saying I like the tile a lot. And I like the idea of one day having all the things we love about bathrooms like floors and walls and sinks and toilets. It is going to be so great.

I was planning to go with a lighter gray grout that would contrast with the darker charcoal tile but in the end (with some coaching from a friend) I went with the matching charcoal grout which was merciful with my newbie tiling job.

I started Saturday with a trip to buy a new toilet. There are a lot of toilet options out there ya’ll. I wanted a dual flush toilet (less water for pee, more for poo) because I’m on a septic and it just seems like the thing to do. There were so many options when it comes to buying a new toilet. So I compared some prices and features, read some reviews, and ultimately got this one.  The only thing I didn’t do on purpose was the elongated bowl — I’m not opposed to it, I just didn’t pick that on purpose. They really should let you test drive toilets in the home improvement stores. I’m sure they have them up on a high shelf for a reason, but it would have been nice (and the most awkward thing ever) to sit on them and see how the height / seat / bowl feels (I mean if I had no shame).

 

So I bought the toilet and then grouted the tile around the toilet in case my dad would be able to come help me install the toilet. I wanted everything as ready as it could possibly be since I’m now going on Day 4 without an indoor working toilet and I’m getting a little desperate.

 

Blessedly my dad and Grandpa came over in the afternoon for a couple hours and we had to modify the flange assembly to the proper height now that the floor was in. And in this case when I say “we” I mean my dad for the most part. He’d done all of the previous flange fitting stuff and was into the details and I was not. I’m so grateful for his help! I want this toilet on right so I never have to think about it again or find it is rotting out the subfloor with a bad connection. Grandpa watched baseball for the most part and was the first to inaugurate the new toilet moments after it was installed.

I finished grouting the rest of the floor on Sunday and man oh man am I loving the new floor and the new toilet. The toilet does feel almost dangerously tall after my last short toilet was installed under the tile and at an angle. This one is tall and level and doesn’t rock at all. Amazing. First world upgrades my friends. This is living.

There are lots of youtube videos and lots of tutorials online if you’re thinking about trying to install tile yourself. As with everything, it is work — but on the other hand, it isn’t rocket science and it is a whole lot easier than floor leveling and plumbing. I will also say that it hearkens back to dreaming within my means. I can’t afford to hire a professional right now but I can afford to learn a few things. Not such a bad thing, notwithstanding the midnight tile sawing and being sprayed in the face.

 

A few tips I didn’t see other places, if you’re thinking about tiling:
  • If you use a cheap saw that sprays tile water at your face, go ahead and start the project wearing a hat. It makes the clean up afterward about 100 times easier. Obviously, as with any power tools, you should already be wearing safety glasses.
  • Clip your nails before you start. Maybe you’re like me and can’t find your nail clippers because your whole bathroom is scattered around your kitchen, but if you have shorter nails, there’s less room to get them jammed full of mortar and you’ll spend less time trying to pick them clean and cringing at how bad they look at work the next day.
  • Be prepared to be very messy. If you are tiling your only bathroom, you basically tile yourself out the door and then have to wait for the mortar to set — meaning you should either dash over to a friend’s house for a shower or sleep gross (I chose the latter because it was the middle of the night).
  • Rags. Get out lots of rags. I found it super helpful to have a couple wet wash clothes for wiping mortar and rinsed them regularly throughout the evening. It goes without saying your clothes will get messy.

Dreaming within our means (repost)

I posted this a couple years ago and keep revisiting it in my mind lately, while this kitchen – dining – bathroom takes over my life.  I realized it wasn’t posted here from my old blog so I’m sharing it again. I come to the same conclusion: I am so very thankful. My house is an ongoing challenge but I love it. I’m so grateful for the gift of this place in my life. As my sister said the other day, “No one loves their shack as much as you do.” I think she’s on to something.

September 2013 – Buying this new old house and having a zillion projects I want to do all at one time- with limited time and within a limited budget has gotten me thinking a lot about what it means to live within my means. And furthermore, to dream within my means. Sure, it would be awesome to re-side the house instead of this big ole painting the exterior project. But it isn’t in the budget right now. Instead I will bust my behind, scrape paint till I can’t move my hand, spend every spare minute painting, and buy maybe five years with the current siding. And I’m not unhappy with it. Sure, it’s a lot of work, but it is work I am capable of and can afford. It will preserve the house and do the job I need done. All within my means. And in that delicious yellow that I love so much.

IMG_2022

Upstairs I would love to gut the whole thing, put in some new windows, new drywall, new flooring, etc.  But that isn’t within my grasp right now. Over time, I have some ideas about things I’d love to do, but for now, I will stalk the clearance paint aisles, paint the bedrooms, put in some better flooring, and be pleased with the progress within my means right now.

I realized recently that it is unreasonable of me to dream within other people’s means. Oh I’m not saying no one helps me or is generous with their time or talent, just that it isn’t fair to require friends to donate copious amounts of their time and talent to make my dream come true. I will certainly accept help and maybe sometimes even ask for it (like that top part of the house I can’t reach from the ladder), but keeping in mind that my friends and family have lives of their own, projects of their own, things to do.

And I have to say, it doesn’t feel like a great suffering. I’m blessed to be in this house that I love, blessed with talent (or at least determination) to tackle a lot of things myself, and dreaming within my means is actually kind of a safety net for myself and helps me be content and grateful with the blessings within reach.

God is good.

Mid-May

Apparently I never posted this… so here’s what happened over here in May.

Several weeks ago: my dad came over last Saturday for a couple hours. Our goals were to finish the sink plumbing (the one that had rusted through) and then level the floor. Of course, we got started considerably later than planned, so…

My dad had gone to the real hardware store and the guy gave him a fernco that should work. We had to make a gasket out of these little rubber sheets (my new favorite plumbing lifesaver) and this tape. Then my dad clamped the fernco on tightly over the gasket and the old pipe and voila! Solved! Now that we had that figured out, we could get to the floor leveling.

So the floor… it is hard to put in to words just how wonky this floor is. The tub is level. And the subfloor is 4 inches lower in the corner by the toilet than in the front of the bathroom door. It sinks two inches over the bathroom doorway alone. Gah. There is no indication it is moving still, but last weekend we added some braces to insure it doesn’t. My dad calls this the “belt and suspenders” approach which is a vast improvement over the previous homeowner’s “no belt, no suspenders, and probably no pants” approach.

By the time my dad headed home for dinner, we got the section by the toilet level, the new subfloor installed, and the toilet reconnected (again) – still wobbling away on a temporary platform because clearly #wearethatfancy.

Fast forward to Monday evening (yes, a full two days later), I’m working on the jagged floor vent in the bathroom (which is maddening and took 3 trips to the home improvement store to not find a solution) and suddenly I can’t help but notice the bathroom smells like sewer gas… I look over and the fernco that had been tightly installed is now sitting a couple feet away on the floor and the hole (thus the sewer gas) is sitting open. Great. So I guess that isn’t the solution we need after all.

I think I’ve figured out the solution, and believe it or not, it isn’t simple (shocking) and it is going to require removing some more drywall. This will mean all but the drywall on the wall behind the toilet is being replaced. And that piece isn’t in great shape …. Mmm hmmm. One step forward, one backward. That seems to be how it goes over here.

The Next Week:

That Saturday, I cut the old cast iron plumbing stack out, ripped out the unsecured and rotting stud walls surrounding the old stack, and figured out what I’d need to do to get the new stack in place. I put in the new fernco on and the new sink connection, but still need to plumb the stack up through the ceiling and out the roof.

Yard season is starting up again and it is feeling like everything needs to happen right now!! Gah! So I did some yard clean up during the week, mowed a couple times (different parts of the yard). I figured out some other details that I needed to think through (bathroom closet, where I need electrical, what I need to buy for the plumbing stack, etc).

The following week:

Saturday was go time. My dad had lined up a Grandpa sitter (my mom is out of town) so we’d be able to hit it hard on Saturday and get the floor finished up and maybe even the plumbing stack out the roof.  Instead the sitter canceled, complicating our plans. I got up early and pulled the remaining drywall and insulation off the walls on either side of the patio doors, filled the trailer with demo trash from the deck, removed the rest of the drywall in the bathroom, cleared the building materials from the clogged dining room to the deck so we’d have more room to work, and pulled out saws and tools.

My dad and Grandpa showed up around 11:30. We hitched the trailer up and Grandpa got to ride along with me for some errands so my dad could work on leveling out that floor. Grandpa was a good sport for the ride, told me what a good driver I am repeatedly (obviously it bears repeating), and waited patiently as I unloaded the trailer into the dumpster. We went from there across town to pick up something for a job at work, and again, Grandpa waited patiently at the lumber yard. But that long drive through line at Wendy’s nearly did him in. By the time we got back to my house, he was tired from all the running around (or waiting in the car) and was ready for some good ole’ Tiger’s baseball. I covered him with a blanket and he was on the edge of his seat (figuratively) to see if the Tiger’s could pull off a win in 1968 when they were down by 3! (Spoiler alert: They do win). Grandpa is not always content to just sit and watch by himself, so the fact that he was content to do so was a huge gift. What a guy!

Late afternoon, my brother Donal and his family showed up so CK could run the hills with his buddy Daisy. They visited with Grandpa, Donal helped my dad for a bit, and CK ran the hills and “helped” with the project. He loves a good project! CK removed a few nails with his tiny hammer, picked up nails with the magnetic stick, and then uninstalled and reinstalled my heating vent about 100 times. Always such a help!

By dinner time, my dad had gotten the new subfloor installed and leveled (except one piece on the end that I needed to redo). Woooooooo! LEVEL SUBFLOOR!!! I made a run to Lowes to get the plywood I needed for that one remaining tricky piece, ate some leftovers for dinner, and promptly fell asleep on the couch. Like a boss.

Sunday I got that final piece of floor in and the rest of the floor screwed down. I framed in the new closet wall and plumbed the vent stack back up into the ceiling. Apparently my dad doesn’t trust me to cut into my roof by myself (which I find moderately amusing) but if he is that concerned, I can wait for him on that. In the meantime, getting that closet framed means I can move on to install backerboard for the tile and get a floor in. Wooooooooooo.

Doll bunk bed

 

DSC_9229-4059994656-1493346283518.jpgIn today’s episode of #makeallthethings, I have a really cute niece turning 3 today. Gloria is a darling girl with a great sense of humor, gorgeous red curly hair and an imp face, and she is a girl who loves her babies. For Christmas I gave her a made over doll high chair, which she uses regularly. For her birthday, I suggested to her sisters that we make a doll bunk bed for her. Jane and I sewed the bedding a couple weeks ago while Lucy worked on her teepee and kept Daisy distracted while ignoring us entirely (and believe me, I get it). Then this week arrived and with only a few days to spare, I figured I should get this thing built.

I looked at these plans by Ana White – which are darling but involved a lot of small pieces and I was too lazy to comply. I also decided to skip the ladder since clearly dolls don’t actually climb into bed on said ladder. So I didn’t actually follow the plans, but I used the rough dimensions and got inspired by them.
DSC_9489
It isn’t perfect but I think it turned out pretty cute. I used wood from my stash, paneling from the dining room walls for the bottom of the beds, wood filler to cover the pocket holes, and went all out buying a can of spray paint. Woooo. I can’t decide if I get half ass points for this because it is far from perfect (yes, I deserve points) but on the other hand, I made a doll bunk bed the same week I dropped a roll of toilet paper down a hole in my bathroom floor and I still don’t have a bathroom door (do not pass go, do not collect half ass points).  You decide.  DSC_9486
After I took these pictures, my niece Jane showed up with the foam mattresses she made (I am so proud!). The gift was taken home for the birthday party tonight and I can’t wait to see Glo’s face when she opens it! DSC_9490

Projects & Varmints

It was a notable weekend over here — again. No — still no raccoon (or other mystery varmint) in the live trap.

Saturday morning I got up thinking how very happy I would be if I got the new bathroom door framed in; by the end of the day, I just desperately wanted to be able to pee indoors. 
I started the morning off with a trip to Lowes to get more 2x4s for the framing, drank a gallon of coffee and was pulling out all the tools I would need.
My dad showed up while I was trying to calculate how to frame a door on a subfloor that sloped over two inches across one doorway.  “I want to open up the rest of this subfloor and see what is going on before we frame that wall.” Um, okay? I just need to have the toilet usable again at the end of this, and I’ve got to serve at Mass this afternoon. “Alright, let’s get going!”  As usual, the deeper you go, the more terrifying things you uncover. I’d removed the tile and backer board previously, but there were layers of subflooring and subfloor framing to get to. And that rotting subfloor around the toilet had to go.
We uncovered some fascinating things:
~Some of the plumbing in the crawl isn’t supported at all or connected to joists, just hanging under there
~The bathroom sink plumbing went through the side of the cabinet and into the plumbing stack — but at some point, rusted out entirely so it was just draining straight into the crawlspace.
~Sure enough, that floor is crazy uneven. It isn’t clear when it sank so much or why (we checked the joists, etc) but it needs to be evened up.
~Incredibly, the tub is level. It can use some additional support and insulation, but we shouldn’t have to move or reinstall it, just add that support and insulation. That’s a win. 
When I left to go set up for Mass, my dad was heading to the store to find new toilet flange and associated parts, saying he’d get the toilet back on if nothing else. Awesome.
When I got home 3 hours later, l was especially glad I’d used the bathroom at church when I found the house empty, some new toilet parts scattered around, but no toilet installed, and no father. Hmmm. I ate dinner and was just mustering the energy to change my clothes and figure out how to get that toilet on when my dad called. They needed me to watch grandpa for a bit and then he’d come back with me and we’d get the toilet back on. Sold! So Grandpa and I ate some dinners and watched some baseball. When my parents got back, my dad and I headed back to my place and then I headed to Lowes for some more parts…

 

It was 11 pm but we finally got enough of a subfloor to stand on and the toilet plumbed to the finished tile height. #dreamcometrue  Next time we’ll pull it back out, do the plumbing and level the subfloor. Then I can finally tile the floor! 

Let’s recap: I can shower and pee inside – which feels huge all the sudden. There is no sink in the bathroom but the kitchen sink is just a few steps (and no doors) away, I can totally live with that. #fancy We’ve ripped out the rotten subfloor but not leveled the subfloor. That has to happen before I can tile. We’re also going to do some plumbing to put in proper fittings and extend the water for a new outdoor hose bib while the plumbing and inside of the walls are exposed because why ever not?  (And because I’ve been wanting a hose bib closer to my garden and chickens).

 

Sunday was gorgeous outside. I slept in. Drank coffee. Peed indoors (woooooooo). Took the pups out for a good romp in the yard. Added to my mental list of all the outdoor chores that should be happening right now but aren’t.

 

I opened the barn up to see if I could see the varmint. I didn’t see the varmint, but I confirmed that it must be in there because it is using one area as a litter box. Eww. I started cleaning up the dried poo while not digging into the shelves to find the varmint because I want my face intact. I was still kind of hoping maybe the varmint has just been here and wasn’t still here — but I wasn’t terribly hopeful. I pulled out some of the outdoor furniture, banging around. Suzie is smelling out everything around there — but there’s a lot of chicken feathers so it isn’t a huge surprise. I should probably build her a ramp up to the shelves so she can scare out a nest of varmints.

 

Two of my nieces have been begging to come over – I think they were intrigued by the open concept bathroom. They arrived around noon. Lucy immediately took Daisy out for a good romp and some work on her beloved teepee. Jane and I started working on a birthday present for her little sister. Jane sewed bedding for the doll bunk set I’m going to build. I used fabric from my stash and helped with cutting things out and pinning things together. We did summer haircuts for the girls and talked of an “epic” sleepover that needs to happen now that it is warm enough for tent camping. 

 

When the girls left, I went to put things away and lock up the barn and found some very fresh poo. The varmint is clearly in there. I put the live trap right in front of the bathroom area and put some leftover pizza in it. Fingers crossed. 

 

Still over here. Still working hard. Starting to despair of ever finishing…

The Situation

Just in case that last episode I shared wasn’t exciting enough,  the plot thickens or grossens (is that a word?). There are moments where I think God is having a chuckle at my expense, and this weekend felt like that.
Saturday I got up and took a trailer load of demo trash to the dump. It was perfectly terrible unloading it because some high school helper I had decided to dump all of my cans of tile shards on top of a trailer load full of drywall, paneling, and garbage bags. Right. There is a reason we never turn our back on the help, even if we explained exactly what we wanted. Sigh. Unloading it was a ROYAL PAIN in the behind and took nearly two hours. While I was at the dump, I got to observe some real characters. Like the old guy with a shiny white truck who came to look after each load of trash was dumped. He clearly thought I had something special but was disappointed in my load. One rickety old pick up that looked like it was on it’s last broken leg with an equally rickety trailer pulled up. The two uncouth looking men start unloading next to me and I look over as half a dozen mice run out from under the trailer toward mine. Eewwwww. It felt like a scene from a horror movie. I did score when a couple pulled up with their remodeling trash. They had four old style solid wood doors and one of the corresponding door frames. Before they threw it, I asked if they minded giving it to me. The lady’s mom went on and on about what nice doors they were and she didn’t understand why her daughter didn’t want them. It worked out nicely for me. So I got those four wood doors and what looks like a brand new sink vanity top and faucet (I’m going to build a new bathroom vanity). Otherwise I got a sore back and got rid of a lot of heavy trash I’ve had in my life for too long.

While I was there, my dad and my brother Emmet showed up to see about the crooked wall — they were there until mid afternoon and was no easy task but … THE CROOKED WALL IS STRAIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This feels huge. And I do mean really terrific, really ‘uge. This means my next step is framing the bathroom wall and putting a door back on my bathroom. First world improvements people.
Where was I? Oh right, the dead chicken saga, because I’m pretty sure the fact that I’m still talking about it means it is officially a saga.  Here it goes.
I am typically in and out of my pole barn a few times a week. In the winter it is less because it is so cold out there. But still, in and out enough to be lived in. Last summer I had made great strides toward having a wood working area and a paint area amidst the storage, but for the winter, the paint area gets filled with patio furniture and lawn/garden stuff.  Once it gets warm again, I’ll move that back outside and have a workspace again. I’ve also spent the last 3 months filling my normal wood working area with pieces that I’ve disassembled out of my house. So the barn is a hot mess right now. I need to build some wood storage, organize the lumber from the house, etc. Anyway, I’ve been out of town a lot in the last couple weeks, so I hadn’t been out there much.

 

Saturday I ran out to get a tool for my dad and noticed some animal droppings… uh oh. This is bigger than a mouse, the only critter I’ve previously hosted in the barn. There were two boxes knocked down and spilled on the floor from a high shelf. Weird. I didn’t think much of it because CROOKED WALL PROGRESS but after my dad left I was cleaning up and opened one of the big sliding doors. These doors are anything but air tight and latch somewhere in the middle of the door, so the bottom lets in quite a bit of cold air in the winter. Anyway, I open the sliding door and notice an abundance of white chicken feathers along the bottom of the door… and then I notice blood… and some more feathers heading into the barn….

 

HOLY CRAP DID THAT DARN RACCOON DRAG A CHICKEN CARCASS INTO MY BARN?!?!?!?!? Which probably means there’s a nest of little coons gnawing on that carcass as we speak. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

 

I looked briefly and couldn’t see anything obvious. But of course it is probably on one of the high shelves, nested in a box, hidden out of view. And I have absolutely zero interest in coming face to face with a mean Mama Coon. But oh crap oh crap oh crap.

 

On Sunday I went to TSC and purchased replacement chicks which my dear friends offered to raise alongside their chicks until they were big enough to go outside. Look, fluffy chickens!

 

My friend Mark is the guy to talk to if you have any sort of animal problem and he sent me home with a big live trap for the coon and offered me a gun. I declined since I don’t really do guns (or haven’t in the past) but currently have at least 4 good friends / brothers with guns standing by if I catch this raccoon. Wish me luck.
HOW IS THIS MY LIFE?

 

In happier news, my crooked wall is fixed. I can officially begin reassembling my house after the longest demolition project ever. Also I’m still completely gaga over this wood clad wall. Eeeeeee. It’s so pretty with the red china cabinet!

The big guns

Last weekend, my brother Donal, his son CK, and my dad came to help out. The goal was to fix the crooked wall and open up the floor to see why the bathroom door frame is moving. CK wore his safety glasses and “helped” by picking up screws, using my magnet on a stick to collect nails, and chattering about every little thing. Lindsey and the Hobbit picked him up at lunch time which is when the real challenging part began.
 
My dad wanted to open the floor up first. There’s a huge sag right at the bathroom door frame and we didn’t want to rebuild the door frame with the sag in the floor still. When we opened the floor up, we found a basement jack  in that exact spot. The person who put it in had it resting on a thin landscape block that split in pieces and allowed the floor to sink back down. The advantage is that we had the jack and just had to install it correctly. Donal squeezed down into the crawl and was down there for hours working on the jacking while my dad directed from the top. The 2.5″ inch sag is now .25″ sag which seems quite acceptable. The nice thing was that we could reuse the basement jack from before, resting it on a much sturdier block and adding another brace. It was dirty and time consuming but it is done.
Now I have to figure out how to get the subfloor back where it belongs with the different elevation. We got the joists into the right space just as my dad had to leave… so Donal and I started on the crooked wall but didn’t get far. Still crooked.
As part of this day, we pulled apart the badly framed bathroom door. Not only do I not have a door on the bathroom, there’s also no wall. Mmm hmmm. Mark my words, open concept bathrooms are going to be the next big thing. In the meantime, you might want to pee before you stop by.
Next up:

Maybe I’m my own worst enemy talking about next up since it never works that way. In this case, I’ve only got a couple evenings to work on it this week because of scheduling. And then I’m going to be on a long weekend silent retreat after that… so it could be awhile before we see any real progress… or a door on that bathroom.

Still working over here

I realize I dropped off the planet a few weeks ago, after getting home from a fabulous trip with people I love. Maybe it is because a blow by blow of slow tedious things I’m doing is boring even me. Or maybe it is because I’ve been over scheduled the last few weeks and haven’t spent enough time working on The Project. Or maybe I just thought you deserve a break.

Never fear, The Project goes on. Since I last checked in here, a few things have actually happened:
1. I removed the bathroom tile which took about a week because it was a beast (side note: the subfloor is gross, blackened by an age old toilet leak and needs to be replaced).
2. The trash barricade has moved from the deck to the trailer and I’ve now started Barricade 2.0 on the deck since I haven’t emptied the trailer yet. Getting that stuff out of my life is going to feel huge. I mean really ‘uge. It will be terrific. Really terrific. Everyone thinks it is terrific.
3. I ripped the rest of the drywall off of the crooked wall in the laundry room and the layers of drywall / tile / wallpaper off the crooked wall in the bathroom. It was amazing to rip off what seemed like innocent drywall and find a wall full of plastic tile and revolutionary war wallpaper hiding behind it. AMAZING I tell you. Basically the crooked wall is now only hosting the wood paneling that is planned to stay. My dad says we should be able to straighten it up without removing all the wood (fingers crossed). That fateful morning when he was digging into things to see how hard it is going to be to fix, he said repeatedly, “This isn’t what I was expecting to see…” Why yes, welcome to my shack. It is never what you expect to see. Once you open the walls up, you can see that the wall was crooked before the addition went in, they notched out the joists to accommodate said crookedness instead of fixing it while they had it open! What is wrong with people? Shout out to Chester who helped remove nails and screws while I ripped down layers of bathroom wall, uncovering a time capsule of previous bad decisions.
4. I ordered and picked up two pocket door frames- for the laundry room and sewing room doorways.
5. I cleaned up messes, again and again and again.
Still going…

Still projecting, still spiraling… Week 4

My apologies, dear reader, I meant to post this while I was away. But I was so terribly busy being away that I completely forgot.

Week 4: If you are still following along this long project, kudos to you. You have more patience than I do. Or possibly it is more enjoyable from a distance with less dust in your hair. Regardless, here’s what happened in week 4 — not to mention finding myself in week 4!! And worse yet, finding that I’m still doing demo in Week 4!! I never saw that coming… and I think Week 5 will contain even more because PROJECT SPIRAL!!!

Last Monday night I pulled all the staples out of the furring strips on the ceiling. And in the process, began doubting their structural integrity… They just seem not terrible securely on the joists — which is all well and good if you are supporting a bunch of cardboard ceiling tiles, but seems less than ideal if you want to hang a drywall ceiling and have all the seams not crack (like the ones Mr. HA did in the kitchen). Mmm hmm. So I removed all those staples and solved nothing, uncovered more questions and still moving forward, one step at a time.

Standing on the stepladder, yanking a million staples, I decided that DIY home improvement and your success with it is about 25% knowledge / experience / handy skills (and the willingness to acquire the skills you don’t already have) and about 75% your ability to withstand the impossibly tedious, time consuming, and often filthy tasks. Like bashing out tile for two weeks. Or pulling staples out of a ceiling for an hour and a half. Or removing 9,000 screws from a dusty floor. While doing these mind-numbingly boring tasks, you have a lot of time to wonder why you are doing this.

Thankfully, I came to the solid conclusion that I am still glad I’m doing this project which is a good place to land since it is too late to go back. I am pulling out all of these staples myself because I have more time than I have cash piled up, and by doing it myself, it is happening now instead of 5 years from now. Not to mention doing this project now, during the winter, gives me something productive to do with myself rather than sitting under a blanket on the couch hating my life and wishing for spring.  All in all, I’m okay with this trade off. Clearly, I enjoy a challenge and this house provides all of that and more.

I am hoping (fingers crossed) I may be able to get a morning of my dad’s time on Saturday to do the joist bracing and check out the wonky crooked wall and discuss the ceiling furring strip situation.

Tuesday evening I worked later than I prefer and arrived home with zero umpf for anything. I managed to get the drywall removed from the shiplap wall across from the fridge. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this but I LOVE FINDING SHIPLAP IN MY WALLS! It is a very old house with a lot of old house issues but this is definitely one of the perks. Removing the drywall paves the way for possibly straightening that crooked wall this weekend or at least talking about it with the expert. I’ve decided I want to leave the shiplap exposed rather than covering it with new drywall. I haven’t decided if should paint it or just sand it and leave the wood with some stain or varnish. I love the rustic warmth of the wood and am leaning toward just leaving that unpainted. Mmmmm shiplap. I also measured and calculated my next big trip to the Blue store. How many sheets of drywall, how much door trim, etc. Admittedly, this is a moving target still, but it’s nice to have an idea.

I also measured and debated with myself about putting in pocket doors. I’ve always wanted one for the sewing room and I would love them for the laundry room and bathroom as well. Looking at it, the sewing room would be the easiest, followed by the laundry room. The bathroom poses a lot of issues (flooring being very different levels, electrical switches in the way, etc). I think I should leave the bathroom door alone but I might go ahead with the other two. It adds some cost and some complication to the project, but it seems like now is the time if I’m going to do it since the walls are already open. Not to mention I already have the doors – I’ve had them forever, sitting in my barn waiting for the day I finally get to this project (both secondhand, obviously).

Crooked wall between bathroom and laundry room

I had plans out of the house Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings so not much got done. I’m not good at balancing home time and away time. I’ll be home almost every night for a week or two and then gone every night the next week. I suppose that is my way of attempting balance.

Saturday I had to box up some vases and miscellaneous jars to move the red china cabinet in the laundry room so I could access the infamous bathroom window. Time to pull that thing out. It is on the crooked wall I’m fixing so why not remove it while we’re in this thing. I started removing trim, etc to get the window out and then my dad showed up to help me jack up the ceiling. It was simpler than I thought and jacking up the middle (sagging) joist and bracing it on both ends was enough – we didn’t have to do each joist!! My dad couldn’t stay long so after he jacked up the second end so I braced it in the attic and worked on getting that window removed. I was on the schedule to set up for Mass, so I had to cut my workday short. Even so, I’m very happy with the ceiling which is now flat!! And getting that dream-come-true open concept bathroom (sarcasm).

Before:

 

After:

Sunday I pulled the rest of the bead board off the bathroom walls, removed a lot of nails, swept up some things, and spent the rest of the day in more restful pursuits. One of my stops included the Blue Store to scope out the tile offerings there. I will be visiting the other home improvement places over the next couple weeks to decide on new bathroom tile.

That’s right: bathroom tile. I’m going to spiral there. Haven’t done it yet but there are two layers of bathroom tile calling my name… I wanted to leave it (for now), I really did, but I can’t rebuild the bathroom doorway with the floor in the way and the door frame needs rebuilding before the drywall goes in. And if I’m going to be pulling up the bathroom floor, I might go ahead and remove the laundry room tile (the last of the old burger king tile). Again, I was  planning to leave it… but it makes more sense to tile the bathroom and laundry room in the same tile since they are both abutting the kitchen just steps away from each other. Amiright? They are both small spaces and I’m going with pretty cheap, generic tile so it won’t add too much to the project.  Not to mention if some girl is going to learn how to install tile, why not tile the tub surround and two rooms, right?

The Spiral Continues… this is ridiculous.

Week 5 Goals:

  • Show the cousins how to care for the pets
  • Secure hanging wires so no one gets electrocuted
  • Clean the house
  • Find some summer clothes, pack for my trip
  • LONG WEEKEND WITH SOME OF MY FAVORITES IN THE SUN (Yes, I’m more than a little excited)
  • Maybe some bathroom floor demo when I get home but let’s keep our expectations low, shall we?