Saturday, October 09, 2010

Productive Saturday

I had hopes of finishing the front porch today, but our step ladder doesn't reach the cross beam. Rats!

Instead, I put Lala and the neighbor, Carl, to gathering the walnuts that have been falling from the black walnut tree. They filled two plastic trash cans, but there are still more walnuts.

They were still eager to help, so they painted the trellis for me. It will be cut to fill the space under the porch next time Joe or Skip comes by.

While they were painting, Jen scraped part of the deck and painted it white. She decided to remove one of the support boards that had held the railing in place. Those nails were tighter than she expected. Carl put some muscle into it and got the board off. I couldn't help thinking that last year, Reyes would have been helping do these jobs.

In the mean time, I painted the inside of the cross beams white and added the accent colors to the columns.

The molding around the bottom of the column has become a challenge for me. It's been 40 years since I last cut angles with a miter box. I used most of my stick of trim learning how to get the cuts. I'll have to get more to finish the rest of the project. The first column is looking good, though. It will really stand out when the crossbeam is the same tan as the front door.

There is something about paint that attracts kids. Lala and Carl have two more friends helping them paint now. Jen had to find a job for one of them. The condition for painting is "go home and put on clothes Mom doesn't mind getting painted."

Friday, October 08, 2010

Flagstone Walk - FINISHED

The flagstone walk is done! I rearranged the rocks I had. After my brother, Skip, installed the new screen door Monday, he and I took two loads of brush to the burn pile outside of town. Guess what I found all over the place? Rocks! Lovely rocks! We brought home enough to finish my project.

Putting the existing rocks together with the ones Skip and I retrieved let me make a path from the sidewalk to the back porch. There were even a few extra to make a side path to the front of the garage.

I know the proper way to lay a flagstone path is to dig the path completely, then fill it with sand and seat the rocks in sand. Since my path grew over time, I didn't have the luxury of using that method. I laid the rocks I had when I found them. I knew I would end up rearranging everything at the end to make it all come out the way I wanted. It would have been a waste of time and energy (MINE!) digging the original 4 ft. wide path when I ended up with one two feet wide.

My compromise was to walk the path once it was complete, identify the wobbly rocks, then dig out under them and seat them individually. I promise you, that was all the digging this granny wanted to do today. :) Okay, I know next year I'll pick up all of these rocks and seat them properly, but I'm enjoying what I have so far...

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Front porch makeover

You see here the before and after of my front porch. I removed the half-walls earlier this week. They were flimsy and many of the boards were worse for wear, showing all of their 107 years. Taking the walls down was fun. I just leaned on them a bit and wiggled them and they came loose -- pretty much intact. I only had to take a sledge hammer to one section to break it loose. Hee hee. How's that for one mean Granny? Slinging a sledge hammer. (Okay, I was no John Henry rearing back and hammering it down. I used my best croquet techniques, but it worked!)

The new front door went up last year. This spring I was visiting a friend in Topeka who took me across the street to meet his neighbor. I love her house! It is a Victorian house with an oak screen door. That door fit the flavor of the house so much better than any modern storm door could do. Hm... it worked for her. Why not me?

I measured and ordered my door. Unfortunately, I measured the existing door, not the opening. The screen was an inch too wide. My brother to the rescue! He took the screen home and reworked it in his spare time this summer. He brought it back and mounted it this Monday.

The dogs aren't sure they like this idea. Charming, the brown dog, can't pop out the door and run off anymore. Mouse and his brother, Won Ton, were always game to chase after Charming. The screen door is spoiling all their fun.

Next I will finish painting the porch. I want to liven the place up with more color than it has had in the past. A white house with green trim is rather blah. Instead, I'm taking a page from the Victorian Painted Ladies' book and using three colors to accent the house.

Ah! But which three colors? If you look closely at the Before picture, you will see a colored glass accent window over the big picture window. I kept that window when the new picture window was installed. It has a new coat of paint and will be going back in place later this week. It has green, yellow and blue glass in it. Inspiration! There are my colors!

The elephant leg columns will be white. The pedestal at the top will be the same forest green that is around the windows. The house numbers and the crown molding at the base of the columns will be the deep blue-green of the front door, and the support beam under the roof will be the tan of the screen door. I will finish with new forest green lattice work around the foundation of the porch.

The front door will bring all my colors together. The door is blue-green with green, yellow and blue in the stained glass of the window. The decorative bar, called a dental molding, and the screen door have been painted tan. The porch deck will be forest green.

I have painted the back door to match the front door. Now I have to study that porch to see where I can incorporate my three color scheme. It is amazing how a little paint can freshen a place. When both porches have more color on them, this place should take on a whole new character.

Speaking of characters, these paint freckles are giving me a whole new look.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

New Flower Bed

Mom made a perennial bed around the front of the house. In the ten years since she passed, the bed had been neglected and gotten root bound. I decided it would be easier to move the entire bed than to try to thin out the existing one.

The old vegetable garden is a rectangle 30'x90'. I put it back to grass this year, but it is a real pain to mow. It is the biggest unbroken section of grass in the entire 1/2 acre yard. Hm... Why not? I could put the perennials there. They would have lots of room to expand, and they would fill a goodly part of that disgustingly large mowing area. So... how should I do this?

I have always loved fish ponds. Perhaps I could make the flowerbed large enough to contain a koi pond. I also love weeping willows. I know their roots seek water, so maybe I could put a willow in the low spot, near the ditch that always floods. Unfortunately, that's awfully near the water main, so I'll need to check with someone before I buy the tree. I don't need willow roots breaking through the PVC pipe.

Oh, I could put lilac and mock orange bushes out there! In the spring, when the bedroom windows are open, we would be greeted in the morning with the fragrance of lilacs and oranges. There would be room for some tall Pampas grass, too. I'm really starting to like this plan! I can see myself pouring over the Gurney Seed Catalog all winter dreaming about things to put in this flower bed. The "legs" of the keyhole can be used for herbs and annuals. Now which herbs?...

A friend told me that you can mark the layout for a fishpond by sprinkling flour on the ground. It works as your "chalk." Okay. I took a five pound bag of flour and roughed in the shape of my keyhole flower bed. To fine tune the layout, I pulled the garden hose to my flour lines and smoothed out the circle. Once the shape pleased me, I started digging the first arc of the circle. This would be the peony bed. About three feet in from the first circle, I dug a second arc for the irises. For an automatic watering system, I pulled the drain hose from the basement sump pump to the top of the circle.

The first arc is roughly 25' in diameter. It is about 30' from Fisher Street. Whether I plant a willow tree or something else, there will be room for a tree to spread and not shade the flowers. There are other trees in the property line on the north. The black walnut will shade my flowers during some of the afternoon, but I don't think it will be a problem.

Next spring I will see about putting the koi pond inside the circle of irises. It will be a little off center so there will be room for a bench beside it. I can see it now, sitting on the bench, a big glass of iced tea nearby and a book in my lap, listening to the breeze in the trees and watching the fish in the pond. Doesn't that sound like a great way to spend a morning?

But I still have to get there. I dug up all but one row of peonies from the front of the house. (I do want some peonies blooming next spring!) After planting 2 dozen bushes in the new spot, I still gave a wheelbarrow load of peonies to the neighbors. Next came the irises, and it was a similar story.

The day lilies that are left will be moved to line the new flagstone walk. Next spring, I will put in some yew or other foundation plantings. I wonder if holly grows in Kansas?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Flagstone Walk

You can tell we are in the country because people come to the back door here more than they do the front. (In fact, I get after my granddaughter for using the front door. :) ) I have wanted a sidewalk across the yard so we don't have to wade through wet grass, snow or whatever to get there.

I don't have a clue about working concrete, so that wasn't an option. However, I've laid a lot of flagstone over the years. I pried up all the walks my folks had put down that I wasn't using and started my new walk. It has been stopped at 1/3 of the way across the yard most of this summer because I haven't had a way to get more rock.

My daughter, Jen, and her boyfriend, Steve to the rescue! They go to a friend's farm and gather rock for me. Isn't it looking good?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kitchen work

I am tired but happy. The tile has been laid in both the living room and the kitchen. It looks so good! I have the same floor running the entire length of the house. I don't even mind putting back all the things that have been dragged into the living room while this and the south room are in process.

Jen and her boyfriend came over last night and moved the fridge for me. Jen cleaned up the old yukky vinyl behind the fridge, then I laid a cheaper tile to fill the holes that had been torn in the old vinyl. Since Dad glued the original vinyl down some ten or fifteen years ago, there is NO WAY I am going to pull it up. The second picture shows the "before".

I started laying tile about 9:00 Friday night and stopped when the second box of new tile was empty. By that time it was 4:30 AM. I decided to lay the last box of tile on Saturday. (I get involved in projects and lose track of time. What can I say?)

Saturday afternoon when I got back to the project I realized that I should make a commitment about the cupboards. For four years I have waffled between painting them or refinishing them. Paint won. I grabbed the can of paint left from doing the trim in the bathroom and started on the base cabinets. Tomorrow I'll go outside and paint doors and drawers.

I am not a dripless painter. I live my work. That's why I keep one old shirt just for painting. I have lost too much weight to wear the old painting pants, so I grabbed a pair of shorts that are getting too big and enjoyed slinging chocolate brown paint.

By the time I was done, the old floor looked like a Jackson Pollock painting; my hot pink tie-dyed shirt had a chocolate brown accent color; and my legs were wearing a polka dot look for the season. If you look closely at the picture of the painted cabinets, you can see my artistic additions to the old floor. I think the chocolate brown cabinets and white appliances will give the kitchen a classic look... especially with my new tile floor.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sheet Rock!

My son is a treasure. He is putting up sheet rock in the south bedroom as my birthday present. He knows the way to Mom's heart! We covered the north wall on Labor Day. He will be back in a couple of days to finish the east wall and the unfinished parts of the south wall.

My daughter Jen says she knows about taping and bedding. I remember when Mom, Skip and I textured the living room back in 1961. Together we might get this room put back together.

It's nice to have family.

Should I mention which birthday? Hee hee. I'm 62. Not officially old, yet. That happens when you turn 65, right?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Living Room is Tiled!

It's done! And it looks so good. Good things are worth waiting for. :)

And what do I plan to do for an encore? The kitchen floor, of course. I am going to continue the tile into the kitchen, through the utility room to match the floor already in the bathroom.

I'm looking forward to this winter when I will sit in my favorite chair, watch a little TV and knit -- and admire my new floor. :)

(No knitting right now. I'm too busy doing other things.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

New Identities

This is a three bedroom house, but I can only sleep in room one at a time. The upshot is the two extra bedrooms take on new roles.

Now that Reyes is in Texas, the west bedroom has become the Library. I gave the bed he used to his sister and moved most of the bookcases into the room. I would like to add a comfortable chair that converts to a twin bed. That would allow the room to still be the spare bedroom. I am still looking for the chair I want.

My original idea was to move the roll-top desk into the Library as well. Unfortunately, the desk is too wide for the door. The desk now resides in the living room. I'm starting to like it there.

The south bedroom was going to be part of the kitchen expansion. That won't be happening now. Ah! But that means I can have a sewing room! I am using the Honduran mahogany table set that came from Mama Gladys. She and Papa Blanton had the set custom made from lumber he salvaged when he worked for Chiquita Bananas in Honduras in the 1940s. (That story is a full blog in itself!)

The large section that seats four will be the cutting table. The two expansion tables that butt against the bigger table will be used to hold the sewing machine and serger. I love the versatility of this table set. We have managed to get 12-16 people around it for big family dinners. Now it has an everyday use as well.

And yes, finishing the sheet rock in this room is on the agenda. One of the last things I'll do for the house is rent a sander and refinish floors in all three bedrooms.

I see more furniture refinishing in the future as well. I refinished this set when we inherited it after Mama G. died, but that was nearly 20 years ago. It's about time to do it again.

No Lion, Witch or Wardrobe

My grandson Reyes was my foster son for most of 2009. (He now lives with his father.) Reyes used the west bedroom, which was my bedroom when I was a kid.

That bedroom has never had a closet. When this house was built in 1903, people used pieces of furniture called "wardrobes" for closets. The wardrobe that was in my room in the 1960s was a cardboard invention from World War II. It wasn't too sturdy and didn't hold much. I could get everything I owned in it. That sure wouldn't happen today!

When Reyes took the room, I asked my son, Joe, to build Reyes something to hold his clothes. Joe says he cobbled this together out of 2x4s. It's just temporary. Typical of Joe, this "temporary" solution will last for years.

I plan to stain and varnish it to match the new woodwork (when I get woodwork.)


The divorce is final; the dust has settled and I've gotten on with my life. This summer I've continued the never ending saga of weeding three houses worth of stuff to fit one small bungalow. No matter how much I throw away, there is still TOO MUCH STUFF! (Hm.. I got rid of one husband. Does that count for housecleaning??)

The good news is I have emptied the garage enough that both cars can now be parked inside at the same time! (what a concept.) :)

I had wanted to wait until it was time to install the hardwood floors before I put flooring in the living room. Since I can't predict when that will be, I've opted for Plan B. As you can tell from the first photo, our painted floor held up pretty well for three years, but the paint is wearing off. I could repaint it, but I want a more long-term solution. I chose self-stick tile.

I started putting down self-stick tile at the beginning of August. It is half finished now and looking really good. I need to make another trip to Home Depot for more tile, then the entire living room will be done! Done! Wow!!! I will be able to mop and not leave shreds of mop fibers caught to the particle board.

It's the little things that make me happy.