13 August 2006

Unexpected Productivity

(a.k.a., What I Did With My Weekend)

Right then. So regular readers know that we bought a house about 15 months ago that didn't need any major work to be livable, but which could use a little TLC to be all that it can be. And despite the fact that we live on a single income while one of us works on his degree, we've made some improvements in that time which really sort of .. well, surprise me.

First, there was the windows. As a recap, our house was built in 1916; the windows had not been replaced or updated since then. We decided that we couldn't afford *not* to replace them, because the heat loss through single pane glass in a Minnesota winter can be sort of scary. So we replaced every single window in the house. That happened last October and I don't think there are pictures of before and after, but if you want to search the archives from around that time, feel free.

Second, the bushes (which are really part of the on-going and continuous "garden" project). We were planning to take the remaining stumps to the green dump next weekend when my parents could come down with dad's truck (which is also the same weekend as the HCWR Hokah Fun Run, so it was looking to be a bit of a busy weekend), but our neighbor, Jim, offered to run the stumps to the dump in his truck this weekend. He also then ran a load (with Jack) of other stuff to the regular dump. Two nagging little projects done unexpectedly earlier than planned!

Third, the porch. We have a front porch and a back patio (really, we have a lovely house and yard and it will be much lovlier by the time we're done), but both are in need of some attention. The porch, for instance, is in need of some new.. something.

That first picture is just a general shot of the paint on the floor of the porch.. not a pretty sight. The most recent paint job is a sort of orange-tan color. We think the layer under that was a more brown-tan, and before that there were coats of slate blue, baby blue, and a sort of green-tan-we-think. At some point various boards in the floor were replaced.. we didn't know until today that the original boards appear to be cedar; the replacement boards are, of course, pine. *sigh*

The second is a sample of the black mold that invaded the porch some-unknown-time-ago; it was mostly contained to the boards around the top edge of the porch, but some of it was on the undersides of the wood siding on the house. We were told when the house was inspected pre-closing that the mold was due to the lack of air circulation on the porch, and since I don't think I have a picture of the "inside" of the porch pre-de-bushing, you'll have to imagine several large evergreen bushes the length of the front of the porch and taller than the roof, and a section of lattice-work sort of strung-together to form some sort of something at the end of the porch. (We tried to figure out what it was intended to be - it's not needed as a shade block and nothing that grows on that side of the porch vines, so in the end we decided it was some sort of "privacy" screen.. maybe.) So, yeah, not much air circulation, but as you can see, we've fixed that already.

The mold just needed to be killed. A little (well, really, a half-bleach-half-water) solution cleared that up well enough.

The paint has been more troublesome. We didn't want to use anything toxic, or even anything chemical, on the porch because we weren't sure how it might effect ground-water and the like. So that left us with using a heat gun. Jack started this process last summer, with a borrowed heat gun from a friend - and he got about 9-10 boards scraped on his own before declaring that his knees and his back simply wouldn't survive doing the rest alone. This weekend, we went and bought Our Very Own Heat Gun(tm) and worked as a team to scrape away the Sins of Owners Past(tm). And we got about half the porch done..

.. but we still have about half the porch to go.

(And no, we don't make a habit of only stripping half boards, but the scraper tool we were using finally decided that holding an edge was more than we could reasonably expect to ask of it, so we had to stop at least until tomorrow* when we can get another bit-that-has-the-scrapey-bits.)

But, if you'd asked me Friday, there's no way I would have predicted such productivity this weekend, so all is good and all is well and here's to higher market value one of these days!

I have decided to take next week off work, which opens all sorts of possibilities like actually renting a floor sander and sanding the boards of the porch and going to get some water-sealant stuff and finishing the floor of the porch**. It's also possible that we'll apply the heat gun to the nasty green paint in the kitchen and finally get to the point where we'll have to figure out just what we want to do to that woodwork. Of course, there's also the possibility that we'll *gasp* take some time for a more or less Real(tm) vacation.

And lest you think I was idle when we weren't scraping paint, you'll be pleased to know that Holiday Gift #1 is more or less finished.. there's a bit of I-cord that needs to be done, but the main garment is done, ends woven in and everything.

For now, Old Time Radio is on, so I'm off to listen to 50-year-old ads and long-forgotten radio shows.

* "Tomorrow" is a generalization. Tomorrow, as in Monday, we're not likely to do much additional work as I have to work and then have a Board meeting. Tuesday is a possibility, but Wednesday I think I'm helping set something or other up at the county fair. Thursday is another possibility, as is Friday, but Saturday is right out as the aforementioned HCWR Hokah Fun Run is that day (but now that the stumps have been removed, we suspect mom and dad will choose another weekend to come visit). Sunday, however, is a likely candidate for finishing the scraping.

** The rest still needs to be done, but we've decided that instead of trying to maintain the lovely dual-colored trend of previous owners, we'll instead put siding on the *entire* house to match the siding on the addition that was built in 2001. This means we don't need to scrape and repaint a large portion of the porch walls, but that we will need to replace the columns and re-paint the "sills" eventually. For now, though, getting the floor done is enough.

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