Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Carpet Tack

Two whole years since I sat down to write a piece about what's going on in the house. Things have slowed down to a snail's pace, I mean a really slow snail, with crutches and two broken legs. Life is moving really fast, with lots of changes and no time for renovations, and barely time for repairs. We are barely keeping up. Lots of changes. My daughter is married and a Mommy! I'm a Grandma!  Since I'm babysitting most days, my attention is on nothing but that baby. Although I sigh when I walk past the disaster that is the current paint job in my dining room, and the hole that is still in the kitchen ceiling and wish I had the energy and motivation to just get it done, right now I'm focused on family.
She is one year old and the darling of my heart. I have known since the minute I found out I was going to be a Grandma that I was going to have to do some work on my bedroom to make it safe for her to play in. But I didn't worry about it too much. Told myself I had six months before I really needed to worry about it. Well that six months went by in a flash, and another, and now she is walking. Now it's a problem. The problem is the carpet tack. When we moved back from Salinas six years ago (six YEARS ago! where did THAT time go?) and back into our house, one of the first things I noticed was that the carpet in our bedroom was gone. But the carpet tack was still nailed to the floor. I have been telling myself all these years that I am getting new carpet, so I need to leave it. Such a silly thing to tell myself. What I really mean is that I am lazy and don't want to do the work. I hate removing carpet tack. It's messy, and requires muscles I don't particularly want to use. Every time I make a careless misstep, though, and catch a tender foot on those darned tacks, I curse my laziness and swear I am going to get after it. Especially if it's the double row of carpet tacks that line the back of the room on an early morning in the dark. Those days I double swear and tell myself that today will be the day. But it never is. We just learn where not to step, and we live with it.
Lately the baby loves nothing more than to play outside the playpen and who can blame her? I have a big soft rug on the floor, and after nap time I lay all her toys out and let her play at my feet on the rug. But of course she doesn't stay on the rug. She is learning to explore, testing her boundaries. We are very careful where we let her step. We block off half the room, the half with the bathroom and cabinets, and keep her away from the walls where the tack is. But keeping her in the middle of the room is getting impossible. Today she discovered the closet door with the mirror on the back. She was adorable and had no idea I was watching her while she did some kind of Kung Fu dance with herself in the mirror. And it was then that my resolve hardened. Today WOULD be the day. She was dancing around perilously close to the carpet tack just outside the closet. I finally had it. So just like that I scooped her up and put her in the playpen with some toys and went to work. Got myself a hammer, a flat head screwdriver and a pair of pliers and tackled that carpet tack. She didn't like it much, being penned in the pen, but I talked to her as I worked. I told her I was making it safe for her, and how much more fun it would be for her once I was done. She could dance and twirl to her heart's delight and nobody would have to worry about her catching a baby toe on any nasty sharp points. And I could relax and enjoy watching her play without worrying that she would hurt herself. Two hours later I swept up the last of the mess, made sure there weren't any splinters or nails I had missed on the floor and took her out of the playpen. I set her down in front of the mirror and smiled at her reflection as she smiled back at me. Life is really, really good these days. Dance away, sweet baby girl, dance away.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Santa, Baby...

Leave the (correct size) blinds under the tree...for me...

So things didn't go as planned this evening. I ordered new blinds yesterday, as I am tired of looking at my falling apart cheap-o Family dollar blinds. I picked them up today and came home so excited to finally get them up. But first I needed to finish painting the window. Windows, I should say. I have 12 windows in my room, 4 on each of the three outer walls. I have finished two walls, and two more to go. So I painted...and painted...and painted. And finally was ready for the blinds. I took the first one out and held it up to the window to make sure it was going to fit before I started installing the hardware. Hmmmm. An inch too short. This confounded me. I knew I had measured correctly, but I measured again and got the same results. How could this be...unless the measurement at the top of the window was different than the bottom of the window...I measured the top of the window and it was a whole inch shorter than the bottom of the window. I sighed and put the blind back in the box. Guess I will be taking them back tomorrow for a smaller size. Meanwhile, having taken all the hardware from the old blinds down, filled the holes in the woodwork, and having sanded and painted over all that, I had no blinds and no window covering for the night. This makes me feel like I am in a fishbowl. I am uncomfortable with that. A friend suggested I use sheets, but I had a better idea. I had an old roll of Christmas wrap. I would stretch that across my 12 ft bank of windows taped on each side, til morning. And it worked! It was easy! I stood back...and realized I had taped the paper backwards on the windows! Don't know what the neighbors will be thinking in the morning, when they are greeted by a wall of Santas looking down from my second story windows! I Hope they have as good a laugh as I did about it. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Happy Room

It's been a long time since I have written anything about the house. That's because it's been a long time since I have done any real work on the house. Not that there isn't a ton of work to do, I have just been burned out.
Two years ago I decided to paint the bedroom. I had painted every single room in the house except my room. I woke up one morning tired of the dingy white the former owners had painted it. I needed something fresh. Something that would make me sing when I opened my eyes.
I tried a few different colors. I got some samples and painted them on the wall opposite my bed. I tried a soothing taupe. A pretty brown. a nice Champagne. I hated them all.
I decided to please myself and paint the room yellow. There has never  been a moment of regret. I woke up smiling the morning after the room was painted.
I began to work on painting the trim in November of 2013. I was right in the middle of it when I got a phone call that changed everything. Tommy lost his job and was on his way home. There was now no budget for new curtains, or the rest of the blinds (I was going to buy them in sets of four, since they were so expensive, and I needed thirteen of them.) No carpet. Everything came to a grinding half for over a year. I just let it go. I put the light switch plates back on, bought some five dollar blinds for the other nine windows and ignored the half finished trim for the next two years.
But lately it's been getting to me.
I really want a finished bedroom I am tired of looking at the half painted trim.
So today I bought a small quart of paint and two paintbrushes, dragged my ladder up the stairs, and got to work.
Several hours and a lot of BeeGees songs later I stepped back, Brushed some paint chips off my hands, pushed back my paint spattered hair, and looked at the one wall that was now entirely finished. I was amazed. And smiling. I feel a stirring of excitement. Maybe I can get some stuff done around here. It's good to be back in the swing of things.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Angry House

WHYYYYYY Spongebob??? Whyyyyy???? 

Why is it, that when I finally get to the end of one long project, something else has to fall apart. I swear this house is angry with me. My son in law, who lives with me, told me that he didn't believe me the first time I told him that, but he is a believer now.
So I am finally coming to the end of the downstairs bathroom project. We have been working on it, in one form or another, since the first year we moved in. Eleven YEARS later, we have a brand new pedestal sink, that actually fits the size of the tiny room, a working toilet, walls that are covered with more than sheet rock. I mean bead board and paint! So exciting! Tomorrow I am going to buy the faucet for that beautiful tiny sink, and the matching towel rack and accessories. Woo HOO!
But. sigh. I also have to go buy a new screen door. Because, no sooner was the bathroom almost up and running, then something else went wrong. First I thought the house had shifted. The screen door became difficult to open. I got tired of jerking on it to get it shut, and so I removed a metal piece of the bottom of the door. This was fine...for about three weeks, and then all of a sudden the screen door went from difficult to open to impossible to open. I couldn't figure it out. It was that son in law who pinned down the problem. It wasn't that the house was shifting, (although that WAS a problem, because in addition to the screen door not closing, now the front door won't STAY shut, but swings back open when you close it, leaving the house wide open) the problem is that the screen door has simply fallen and it can't (or won't) get up. The hinges have telescoped into themselves, and they can't be fixed. The door is literally on the ground. And it's not just any ordinary screen door, either, it's a big heavy storm door, so for the past week we have been using the back door to come in and out. A real pain.
But. Things could be worse. Spring is here and the weather is warm, even if it has rained almost every day this week. Everybody is in a good mood. There is a wedding coming up in May, there are only ten weeks left 'til school is out and summer arrives. Things are moving forward. It's a good feeling.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Been a While

                               Loving the color. I still have to paint the trim around the doors and windows.

So it's been quite a while since I have written anything about this old house, or This Old Wreck as the Mr. calls it. We have been in a holding pattern for a long, long time, and I have been unmotivated to write much at all.
Last I wrote, we had multiple leaks, all over the house, at the same time. We took care of all save one, and that was the mysterious leak from the bathtub. We are still puzzling over that one, but we think we have it narrowed down.
Recently I was gifted with a brand new dishwasher.  While the plumber guys were installing it, we got to talking about the very obvious hole in the kitchen ceiling, and I asked them if they could come back in the future and take a look. (This was when we were at our financial lowest, the Mr. had been without a job for almost a year, so everything had to wait.) They said SURE, but mentioned that it could be something as simple as a cracked shower head. A cracked shower head will leak every time he said. After he left I went up to look and BINGO we have a cracked shower head! I am getting a new showerhead TONIGHT! WOO HOO!

So anyway, going back to fall of 2013, everything was still fine, financially. The Mr. was still working in Spokane, and had been there for nine months. I decided it was time, after ten years of living here, to paint my room. First I thought I wanted it to be a pretty champagne color, then I thought maybe a pretty brown, and I actually painted a couple of sample spots on the wall. I lived with them for about a day before I decided I hated hated hated all the sophisticated colors I had chosen. What I really wanted was yellow. A pretty, delicate, lemon chiffon pie yellow. The only problem being the Mr. had told me I could paint it any color, but not yellow. I don't want to feel like I live in a circus he had said. Hmm. Well. I thought about it for a week or so. And then I painted it yellow. And from the first moment I opened my eyes the morning after I painted, I knew it was the right choice. I woke up happy. The room felt fresh. I began painting the crown moulding and the trim a bright glossy enamel white. Then I did something that made my friends question my decorating sanity, and I put up powder blue velvet curtains on the windows. And I loved it. I have always dreamed of having a yellow and blue room, since I was a little girl. I had always imagined it would be my sitting room, though, or my art room, never thought about making it my bedroom. It may not be every one's cup of tea, but hey, it makes me happy.
Anyway, I was full swing in the midst of painting trim. I had the ceiling registers off, and ready to paint. I had the glass globes off the ceiling fans for washing. I had taken down and thrown away the old nasty, dirty blinds, with the intention of going for new ones the following day And then the phone rang. It was the Mr. and he was on his way home. His job had come to an unexpected halt. Suddenly the trim didn't matter, nor did the blinds. I told myself it was just temporary, that I would pick up the room redo when he started work again, which would only be a week. Two at the most, Maybe a month. I never dreamed it would stretch into more than a year. In that year I didn't touch the room, it has just remained as it was. No registers on the ceiling vents, no globes on the ceiling fans, no more trim painting, and no blinds, either.
Finally, after more than a year, Thank the LORD the Mr. is working again, and I will be resuming where I left off. Oh and the Mr. doesn't hate the yellow, either. He actually likes it!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Leaking like a Sieve

So when we got back from Salinas, last year, we had some issues with the house. Namely, the shower in my room was dripping from the showerhead, and it was driving us crazy. I really didn't want to call a plumber-I really should have called a plumber-so instead I just took the shower head off, which didn't help at all. Over the period of a few months, though, the dripping stopped, and I kind of worried about why-but I still didn't call a plumber.
One day I went into the downstairs bathroom, with the toilet in it that I had worked so hard to install on Easter Eve, three years ago, when we had the toilet explosion. I noticed there was water on the floor all around the toilet, and worse, I noticed the walls had some mold. It had been leaking for some time, apparently. I examined the toilet, and realized that the bolts I had used instead of the ones that came with the toilet were not compatible with the water in the tank. They had corroded and the tank was leaking. I turned the toilet off until I could get around to fixing it. And then I forgot about it. Nobody ever goes in there, we almost never use that bathroom, so it was easy to forget about. Fast forward a few months, and then all of a sudden the ceiling in the kitchen starts leaking every time someone takes a shower in the big bathroom overhead. Was it a leaky pipe? Was the water coming through the floor after escaping the shower curtain? Was it the caulking that was failing? I tore out all the surrounding sheetrock around the leak, comprising about a square foot, so that I could investigate further. I stuck my hand in the hole, and I could feel the corner of the bathtub. Then I went upstairs, and looked down, and I could see the hole. But I couldnt' figure it out. I wondered if the water was confined to just this small area, or if it was leaking all over the place. To find out, I went into that downstairs bathroom for the first time since I had turned the toilet off all those months ago. When I walked in, my mouth dropped open. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. There was water all over the floor, there was mold from the floor up to about three feet off the floor, on three walls. And the toilet was on. I didn't catch on to the fact that the toilet had been turned back on, at first. I thought it was part of the other leak problem we were having, and I have to say I kind of freaked out. I called a plumber. Before he arrived however, I had a closer look, and realized that the water and the mold were coming from the toilet (and it smelled sooo bad) and that it was not connected to the other leak. So I not only turned the toilet off, I removed it completely, and covered the hole with a rubber gasket.
When the plumber got there, he took a look. He told me it was my pipes and that they were going to have to replace all of it, and the break through my tile, and the whole thing was going to cost six hundred dollars. This was on a Friday, and he told me he would be back the following Wed.  Tues night, I got a call from the Mr. He had been working in Spokane for nine months, and things had been fabulous, but now they were shutting down the project, he was getting laid off, and he was on his way home. Ugh. I had some money in savings, and I was sure he would have a new job by the following week, so I didn't cancel my plumber appt. Wed came around, and I waited and waited, and nobody came. All day long I waited. Then I called. He said it would be Friday before he could get somebody over, but then, I guess he changed his mind, because his two assistants showed up fifteen minutes later at my door. They had a look. First they told me it was the tub. Then they decided it was the pipes. Then the told me it was my tile. Then they started talking Spanish, and looking at the pipes in the wall (the pipes are behind an old laundry hamper at the head of the tub, so if you take the hamper out you can see the pipes, and stick your head and upper torso in.). They told me they would be back the following Friday to do the job. While they were there, I had them fix the showerhead in my other bathroom, the third bathroom, the one that had been driving me crazy, because it's in my bedroom, and I also had him replace the sprayer on my kitchen faucet. He got an old one off the truck, and told me he would put a better one on when he came on Friday. Meanwhile, I went up to my shower and turned it on, and then heard the kids yelling. I turned it off, and raced around the corner to the stairs, (that bathroom sits over the stairs) and was confronted by a wall of water cascading out of the shower pan and down the stairs. They had replaced the showerhead, but they hadn't turned on the water to check it all out and the pipe was leaking like a sieve. I was feeling kind of desperate by then. There was no place to take a shower without leaks.

So Friday comes, and I wait. And I wait. And I wait. It's been eight months and I'm still waiting. (In case you are wondering, if you are local to Bonham, it's Dobbel's plumbing. I guess if they don't want your job, they just stand you up, instead of being honest and saying they just don't want to do it.) And I'm pretty mad about it. They never called, they never showed up, they never apologized for not showing up, or calling, and I called someone else after three weeks of waiting. By now it rains in the kitchen when anyone takes a shower. We move the trashcan there until the new plumber shows up. We still can't figure it out, despite spending a lot of time with our heads in the hole in the kitchen ceiling.
The new plumber comes, and tells us it's the pipes, and he caulks it all, and spends the rest of the day fixing the leaking shower over the stairs. He had to do a lot of sawing and drilling but he fixed it. Four hundred dollars later, we breathed a sigh of relief, knowing that all was well and we could get back to living. Only...it wasn't. The ceiling in the kitchen was STILL leaking when somebody took a shower. I could see where he had caulked it. It wasn't the bathtub itself. It only happened during showers. I could feel with my hands, and see with my eyes where the water was dripping from. But I could not figure out where it was coming from. There was no pipe where the water was dripping from, and all the other pipes were dry. It had to be the caulk. So I replaced all of the caulk. And went over every single bit of the grout with caulk. I spent a whole day in the bathtub smearing caulk over every single place where water could escape. And I was successful. It stopped leaking. I was so glad. Then last week...you guessed it. I came in the back door and there was water on the floor, right below the hole that I haven't fixed, for fear of this exact reason. It doesn't leak every time, but sometimes it still rains in the kitchen. And I ran out of funds to call another plumber a long, long time ago. So for now we are stuck with it.
One night, while I was doing the caulking, I took the old hamper at the head of the tub out so I could see the plumbing. I didn't connect the large hole and  the underworld that is my house to the old cat that was roaming around looking for adventure. Truth is, I didn't even know she was missing, until my son started laughing maniacally in the kitchen. I went downstairs, and there was old Sox, with her head through the hole in the kitchen, meowing away for us to save her. Sox is thirteen years old, and not in the best of health, so I was concerned. I got a ladder and reached up to coax her down. She was having none of that. So I grabbed her by the neck and pulled. And she pulled. She planted both her feet on the sides of that hole and held on for dear life. I really tried to get her out, but you could read the cusswords in her eyes. She yowled really loud and I let go, and she retreated. Now I was really concerned, because I had no way to retrieve her. I tried sticking my head all the way in the hole, but there was a copper pipe and a two by four  blocking the way. I probably could have wedged myself in there to have a look, but all of a sudden I had visions of the ladder falling and myself swinging from the hole in the ceiling, I decided I would have better luck from above. So I went upstairs to the bathroom and the hole where the hamper went, and called her. Soxie, soxie, soxiesoxiesoxie, I called in my best cat wheedling voice. She meowed, but she wasn't coming up. She was clearly angry with me. I did the best thing I could, then, I turned off the light in the kitchen, put a bowl of food for her outside the hamper hole in the bathroom, and left the light on, hoping she would have the strength to find her way back upstairs. And I worried. I had bad dreams about what would happen if she died in between the floors. How would we get her out? Would she starve? I finally fell asleep, and was awakened at seven in the morning by Alyssa, who told me that cat was out and the food was gone. I went in the bathroom where she was resting, to look at her. she looked like H E double hockey sticks. She looked like she had had a tough night. Her fur was sticking out in all directions, and she was just laying on the rug, as if she didn't have the energy to go downstairs after such an experience. I put the hamper back and was just glad she was ok.
But we still haven't figured out that leak. We have come up with all kinds of strange hypothoses, ranging from possible to downright strange. The answer eludes us. The nearest thing we can figure is that that end of the bathroom is on the downward side of an unlevel slant, and that gravity is feeding water from somewhere to the corner where it drips off into the kitchen. But where is it coming from? 
So long story, somewhat short, the house is not pretty right now. I still have two broken windows, that happened while we were in California. And that hole in the kitchen ceiling. And no downstairs bathroom. I went in right after I discovered the horrible problem in there and gutted it. Took all the stinky moldy sheet rock and threw it out and brought it down to bare studs. I haven't been in since. And with six people, three dogs, and two cats living here, it is tough to keep tidy. But it's home. And soon it will be fixed, and way too quiet, I'm afraid.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ghost House

So ten years in this old house, last December. A whole 'nother decade under our belts. When we moved in here, Kat was just eleven, Matthew was nine, and Alyssa was six. The kids have grown up, and I have gone from thirty something to middle aged. We have had good times, and some tough times, become both frustrated and elated with the house, at times loving it, and at times cursing it. Somehow though, we always come full circle. Yesterday's gripe about the foundation issues gives way to a rush of emotion that the bedroom I have always wanted is finally coming together, although, slowly. The paint is on the walls, pictures hung, the crown moulding is gleaming. I still have to do window treatments and something about the flooring.
And then there is the bathroom. When I first looked at this house, I thought it was one of the strangest little bathrooms I had ever seen. Tiny, no more than about six or eight square feet, including the tiny vinyl walk in shower. just enough room for a toilet. And a very large window right next to it. For years I have wondered about that window.

Why would anybody build a bathroom with a toilet right next to a window? It never made any sense.  I took a picture of it this morning. It is the one thing I have never been very eager to photograph. It's not pretty. It is extremely utilitarian. No frills. Just a bathroom. I have to admit it has been very handy over the years to have one in the bedroom. But I still think it's weird. However, yesterday I had a revelation about that window, and why it never made sense for it to be in the bathroom. 
Four steps up! And don't fall down in the middle of the night in the dark. The Mr. found out the hard way how painful that can be!

It all goes back to the day we first saw the house. I remember, as I walked up the stairs thinking how dark the stairwell was.
As we ascended to the second floor, I could see that over our heads, covered by some plastic light shields, was a tangle of copper pipes, PVC, and cast iron. Also a shop light, that dimly lit the hallway. I didn't like it. When we got to the top of the stairs and rounded into the bedroom, I saw that this little bathroom was the reason for all that mess. It sits right on top of the stairwell. 

I won't tell you the peril I put myself in to get that metal sculpture up there, it would curl your hair. Right below the wall decor is all the plumbing for the bathroom. 

As a matter of fact, one time we had a shower flood, and the water cascaded out all over my stairs, through the hole in the floor where the toilet water pipe comes in. Actually that has happened more than once, but I digress. Anyway, I don't know why it took me ten years to figure it out, but the other day, I was thinking about that window. Then I had a vision. Without that dinky little add on bathroom, that window would have been right over my stairway. It was definitely an AHA! moment. Of course now all I can think about is getting rid of that bathroom. We talked about it, the Mr. and I, at length. Should we forgo the convenience of having a bathroom in the bedroom to bring back the look of the old hallway? I, despite my love of bringing things back  to the "way they used to be" was unsure. I really like having a bathroom in the bedroom. But, the Mr. said, we could turn the other bathroom, just to the left of the stairway rail into a really nice bathroom, and I had to agree. I can't wait to start the demo. Of course, that is way in the future, as there are other more pressing needs for this old house, right now. So now that that mystery is solved, it's on to another. Such as what is behind this Sheetrock in my closet. 

I never noticed it before, until one day, while taking out the garbage, a lady on a bicycle stopped to tell me how much she loved my house. Then she asked me if the rose wallpaper was still on the upstairs bedroom wall. This intrigued me. Rose wallpaper? She said the whole room was covered in ivy and roses. The one day, while in the closet, I noticed this. I am so curious about it. But I just haven't had time to check it out. Plus the closet is full of junk. That would mean actually cleaning the closet before I could get up there and just take a little peek. Not only am I curious about that, but looking at this picture, I am also wondering why they put up those ceiling tiles. What were they hiding? Sometimes I think there is a "ghost" house, hiding under the one I see, waiting for me to uncover it's secrets. I caught a glimpse of it behind the mantle, when I was removing the inch thick caulk that had been applied between the mantle and the wall. I wanted to paint, but couldn't get a good straight paint line, because the caulk was all yucky and wavy. So I pulled it off, and this is what I found. 

The old original crumbling wallpaper, in an ugly thirties green, with the fabric attached. I went to the store and trimmed out the mantle, I did not reapply the caulk. And then, against all my usual ideas about painting woodwork, I went ahead and painted this mantle white. Because whatever this was on here was not coming off.

And in the bathroom, behind the sand texture on the walls, which I painted sky blue (and now regret) was this. 
some kind of faux tile. Made of either cardboard or tin. Feels like cardboard. I like the color, though. 

I imagine it was a very interesting and colorful bathroom. The bathtub, which was painted white just prior to us moving in, is an original cobalt blue, and the original tile ringing the  non original floor in the bathroom is an original  golden yellow. Also the porcelain towel bar, behind the white paint applied by the previous owners is a cobalt blue to match the bath tub and the soap dish. I was amazed when the white paint in the tub  began to flake and peel, to reveal the "ghost" of the original tub. 

So it goes. Every day the house reveals a little more of it's past to me. Whether it's finding a piece of a porcelain doll's leg i(or a toy car, or marble) in the back yard, leftover from the twenties or thirties, or catching a glimpse of old wallpaper behind the sheet rock, she always has something to tell me if I just listen. I love this old house.