Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Back to the House

As promised, I'm moving back on topic. The masons were back at work on the springhouse yesterday, and I'll have another post on their progress coming soon.

In the house, my mom has been busy putting her carpentery skills to work. In the dining room, she put up baseboard and chair rail in the corner with the new boxed out duct work. Once I finish get it all shellaced, it will look like it has always been there. Mom has also put up various pieces of trim in the living room. The past couple of days she has spent back up in the back bedroom, building a small closet into the northwest corner of the room.

Charles has been busy with the play, but he did find time to haul off two more loads of scrap metal. So far Charles has made over $200 just cleaning scrap metal from the property.

My uncle J has also been back at the house. As we get each room painted, he follows along replacing outlets and switches. It makes such a huge difference to see clean plates go up over new outlets. Pictured below is a sample of my uncle's work. Two outlets in the living room were in boxes installed on the woodwork. J removed these sections of baseboard and cut holes to install new recessed boxes. He also had to carefully chip into the stone wall behind each outlet, making just enough room to allow for this change. He then put brown outlets and covers on each (we're using ivory in the rest of the house, but thought brown would work better since these are in the walnut baseboard.) The light colored rectangle in the floor is the site of the first outlet in this room, it was installed in the floor rather than the wall. We removed the outlet and my mom patched the floor. Right now the patch is still bare wood, hopefully it will blend in better when we put the next coat of finish on the floor.

As for me, I've been painting. I hope to finish the second coat on the office walls tonight. The color is called Spring Forward. It's something of a muted teal.

And I've been painting in the Book Nook as well. The purple here is called Kimberly (how appropriate!). The nook will get carpet and then small baseboards, but other than that it is basically finished.

Friday, April 23, 2010

"Operation SOS" (aka Save Our Springhouse) The Beginning

I'll let pictures do most of the talking here. I've shared a couple pictures here of the south and west sides of the springhouse, but none of the north side. It will soon be quite obvious why.

These first pictures were taken this Tuesday, knowing our masonry contractor was coming the next day.

Moving forward to late Wednesday. Note the concrete footer poured at the base of completely washed out foundation under the door.

Cramped working quarters:

(Sorry that last picture is grainy. I'm never there to take action shots of the contractors, so that's a picture of a picture.)
The rest of these were taken today.

That leaning pillar of stone between the door and window makes me nervous. Our mason has told us he is hoping that as he rebuilds the foundation and wall under this section he will be able to coax this part of the wall back into its correct position, and that once properly supported again it will remain in place. However, he has been upfront with us that this plan might not work. If not, he will have to dismantle this portion of the wall and rebuild it stone by stone.

Knowing the masons are working under the doorway just beneath all this precariously balanced stone makes me feel a bit sick to my stomache. We have told them repeatedly that if this project ever feels too dangerous that they should stop immediately. So far they've kept on the job.

After three days of work, the rebuilt foundation is within about a foot of the springhouse floor.

A picture of the south and west sides of the building:

And last, a picture taken through the small door in the west wall that you can see at the bottom of the building in the picture above this. The newly rebuilt foundation is to the left in this photo.

There's maybe four feet of headroom down there. God bless our masons. I really hope they can pull this off.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It's 5PM. Do You Know Where Your Mother Is?

When I told my husband this story he just grinned and started humming a song from The Fantastics:

"And children, I guess, must get their own way
The minute that you say no.
Why did the kids pour jam on the cat?
Raspberry jam all over the cat?
Why should the kids do something like that,
When all that we said was no?"

Well, that's close I suppose, but there's one important difference in this story:

"And my mother, I guess, will get her own way
The minute that you say no."

Yep. That version of the song would fit my reality. And like a typical kid, she makes no attempt to act repentant. She's quite proud of herself in fact. And the honest truth is, now that the deed is done I can't deny that (as usual) I'm grateful. But I know you'll be reading this, mom, so I'm going to repeat - PLEASE DON'T DO THAT AGAIN!

It was Tuesday afternoon. The kids and I were at the house but my mom had not arrived yet. I had suggested she take an afternoon off, so I was a bit surpised when she pulled in the drive around six o'clock. I could tell immediately she was in a good mood. She could only stand it for about two minutes before she said, "So, aren't you going to ask where I've been?".

"Alright," I played along, "Where have you been?".

"I was getting Cecilia a dresser," she said with a twinkle in her eye.

"Okay," I said, "Where did you get a dresser?" (I'm thinking the words auction or garage sale will feature somewhere in her answer.)

Her eyes danced some more as she looked at me and replied, "More like, what house did I get the dresser from?".

That was the only clue I needed. I put down my paint brush and looked at her, "You told me you weren't going to go back in that house."

She grinned back at me and said, "I know. But I had my fingers crossed behind my back when I promised you that." Oy. Of course. "Don't you want to see it?" she continued. And of course I did. So we went out to her van and unloaded the booty. Along with the dresser was a folding step stool and a bed. Here's a picture of the goods (minus the bed's headboard and sideboards, which mom was still unloading from the van):

Celia's definate favorite was the little step stool:

The dresser is adorable. It will fit perfectly along the low knee walls in the back bedroom, and the crackled paint gives it a patina that should feel quite at home in the Einsel House. It needs a good washing, and the bottom drawer sticks a bit, but all in all it is in remarkable condition.

So, why was I so horrified that we were being gifted with such wonderful pieces of furniture? Because to get them, my mother went into this house:

Don't tilt your head. It's the house that is crooked. This picture shows the north and east sides of the house. The entire west wall of the foundation has collapsed, and the house is falling into the hole. It is difficult to get a picture that shows how dramatic the house's tilt is. The chimney that was on the west side of the house collapsed several years ago. The first floor windowsills on the west side of the house are now under ground.

The house first began to lean at least five years ago, although its descent has been noticably picking up in speed over the past winter. It has become semi-famous locally as "The Leaning House". What is remarkable is that despite its pronounced tilt, the house itself has remained remarkably square.

My dad knows the home's owner and about six months ago he arranged for my mom to go through the house with it's owner. This gentleman grew up in the house, but has left it sit empty since his parents' deaths. And as my mom discovered on her first tour, the owner has literally left the place untouched since his parents' deaths. He left all of the furniture untouched. There are clothes in the closets; pictures still hanging on the walls; pots, pans, plates and silverware still in the kitchen cupboards and drawers. All circa 1960's or older.

At the time of her first tour, my mom said the house still felt safe. Once inside, she claimed, you became unaware that the entire building was leaning to the west. However, when she went back this Tuesday (again with the owner present) she said it was immediately obvious that the house is much worse. She even admitted that she no longer felt safe while inside the home. Although the home still appears to be holding mostly square, my mom noted that the windows are showing the strain. Six months ago they were all intact, but several are now broken and most of the remainder are cracked. The place has put up a valiant fight, but gravity is going to win this battle.

So mom, I'll say again (for however little good it will do) - the dresser is adorable, and it will be a wonderful addition to your granddaughter's bedroom, but please don't go back into that house.

And put your hands where I can see them. Please.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Some Then and Now (And One Very Happy Little Girl)

As promised, here is a selection of pictures showing how far we've come in six months. These are tagged before and after for this post, but the title "Then and Now" is more appropriate. In spite of six months of work, not a single one of these pictures is a true "After". (But we're definately much closer!)

Front of the house:

Looking up from the creek:

A window in Neil's room:

In the dining room:

More dining room:

I'll have to put together some kitchen and living room pictures for another post, but the second half of this post will be devoted to the back bedroom. It was painted yesterday, which made one four year old little girl thrilled to pieces.

(Can you tell she had a piece of pink frosted birthday cake just before she took over painting?)

Our daughter's future bedroom provides some of the most impressive photos for comparison:

There will be more pictures of her room coming (and the book nook as well) but before I head to the house here are a couple of in progress pictures from Cecilia's bedroom:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Going Green

The choice of paint color for the living room has long been the topic of much discussion. With the fabric for the living room curtains in hand I picked Olympic's color Sweet Annie. That was months ago, so there's been plenty of time to gather reactions before the paint actually hit the wall. And the reaction was about 25% "That'll look great!" and about 75% "That's too dark!". I admit that I was wavering a fair amount, especially over the last couple of weeks, but in the end I stuck it out. So yesterday, I spent my 30th birthday introducing Sweet Annie to the Einsel House living room. I think they hit it off quite well.

Looking into the living room from the dining room:

And in the living room:

Charles had never tried to talk me into a different color. God bless the man, his immediate reaction when he got to the house with the kids after school was, "That doesn't look as bad as I thought it would." (I think that means he likes it.)

I'm quite pleased. The room doesn't feel too dark, and the green does an amazing job of pulling in the view of the creek through the windows. I'm quite eager to hang those curtains I made last fall, but as you can see in the picture above the woodwork in the room still needs more attention.

In closing, if you're someone who knows us IRL (in real life) then you know that all winter I gave yesterday as the date we hoped to be ready to move into the Einsel House. In case you missed it above, I turned 30 yesterday and moving into the house would have been a nice present. So we're looking forward - maybe Mother's Day (but I doubt it), or our anniversary, or July 4th, or some random weekend just before Charles and the kids go back to school. It's sure to be a glorious day when we bring that first truckload from the storage unit, but yesterday was a glorious day too, in its own quiet way. As we sat down on the bare kitchen subfloor to a supper of KFC and chocolate cake (with pink frosting and yellow roses) it struck me that the memory of this birthday will always stand out. A good day at the Einsel House has a way of reminding me of the many blessings I've been granted. So yeah, it was a good birthday. :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Paint Score

Yesterday after work I visited our local Ace Hardware. In my purse I had a coupon for $5.00 off each gallon of Ace Royal Paint up to a limit of 10 gallons. When I got to the paint aisle I noticed that Ace Royal Paint was on sale and there was a current $5.00 per gallon rebate on top of the sale. I pulled out my coupon and was thrilled when the Helpful Hardware Man told me I could use it on top of the sale and rebate. At the checkout I was also able to use a $5.00 coupon Ace sent me for my birthday. Finally, I had a $50.00 Ace gift card that we earned as a cash back reward from our credit card.

Final tally - once I mail in the rebate, I will have paid just over $30.00 for over $150.00 worth of paint. Lovely!

Guess what I'll be doing on my day off work tomorrow....

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Different Perspective

I was going through the pictures we took last weekend and this one jumped out at me. I love how the new front door is framed by the trees.

I need to take some pictures back in the house as well. The bathroom has 1 coat of paint on the walls. The living room's purple walls are now under primer, and some of its woodwork has shellac. Tomorrow's goal is to get the final coat of paint on the bathroom walls. Tonight's goal is to finish our school district income tax return....

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Quick Update

Just a quick update at the moment. Wouldn’t want anyone to think we’ve spent the last few days just sitting on our duffs. ; )

Tuesday we had a welcome lift from my Aunt J. She met us at the house with a huge home cooked supper (we finished the leftovers last night – yum!!!) After reviving our spirits with good food, Aunt J stayed and helped my mom scrub down the bathroom. After work on Wednesday Charles and my mom got the bathroom walls primed. My own accomplishments at the house this week include completing the first coat of finish on the dining room woodwork and putting shellac and finish on a collection of miscellaneous trim pieces. There has also been much discussion this past week on the choice of paint color for the living room.

This week also included three renovation milestones. First, the HVAC crew swarmed the house one last time. For three days in a row they had three vans parked in the drive. We now have the permanent furnace, heat pump, and air purification system installed and working. I know we'll appreciate the air conditioning in a few weeks, but at the moment I’m thrilled simply by the fact that our new thermostat includes a reading of the outside temperature.

A second milestone reached this week was the exit of our general contractor. I’m sure he’ll be around again for an odd job here and there, but there’s nothing on the books at the moment. His ladders, work lights and most other accoutrements were gone early in the week and he was going to pick up his scaffolding this morning. (I predict Cecilia will be quite disappointed when we get to the house this afternoon.) We’ll be giving our masonry contractor a call sometime this spring, but for the moment we have work at the house to ourselves.

Finally, April 7th marked six months since closing. It seems hard to believe it’s been that long. Sometime soon, I’m hoping to put together a picture-heavy post showing how far we’ve come in the past six months. (Hopefully that will make up for the picture-less post today!)

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Front Door!

This makes me ridiculously happy!

From inside the house (still a bit rough around the edges):

And a reminder of where we started from:

Eugene the Pickle says he approves of our work:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

One Day More

Here's a follow-up to the last picture in yesterday's post.
The dining room windows after one day more work:

(The astute may notice the difference between the two windows. Correcting that issue is one of the few things left on our contractor's to-do list.)


We've been keeping busy at The Einsel House. Ceiling priming/painting is done for the moment, and the work we are doing cntinues to be (mostly) of the visually rewarding variety. And of course the arrival of spring has been so nice. Late Thursday Charles noticed 12 deer in the field behind our house. We watched as they meandered across the field in a single file line over to the creek. Barely ten minutes later we were all sitting on the sidewalk outside the kitchen counting the bats that swooped out from under the eaves. Neil counted nineteen. As he counted we were serenaded by frogs along the creek.

Last night as Charles and I were closing up the house we could again hear our bats waking up for the night. (They make a 'chirp' noise, kind of like a cricket but much less harsh.) Charles told me that he was surprised because seeing the bats and knowing they are in the attic doesn't really bother him. If not for the fact that we need to insulate the attic, he said he would be fine with letting them stay in the current home. I wonder if bat guano has an R value? ; )

Like the local wildlife, our two children have been celebrating the arrival of spring. Here's a picture of Neil riding his new bike down the lane:

In the house we've been working mostly on the dining room. I began applying Sealcoat to the dining room woodwork yesterday. Here's a picture of the corner I started in:

In the opposite corner of the room my mom put back up a few trim pieces at the top of the windows that had been removed when the ceiling was gutted. And my Uncle J installed the new candle chandelier (bulbs for it are on my next Lowes-run list). We have a family Easter party today, but I hope to finish the Sealcoat in this corner of the room tonight: