Thursday, August 14, 2008

Poised For Completion and Odd Events

The last of the pieces have fallen in to place. Baring any unforeseen events, I should be able to complete the butler’s pantry this weekend.

Ten Little Indians

These 10 will go in the butler’s pantry side. Three are for the cabinets at one end of the room. Six for the main cabinets at the other end. Then the last one will be for the little pass-through door that will lead from the butler’s pantry to the dining room. The place I bought these has – or at least I hope they still have – another similar set of 6, only the handles are bronze instead of cast iron. If I get those, they will go on the dining room side.

I’m hesitant to reveal my source until the final deal is done. They have a great selection and good prices, and the name of the place has an indirect connection to The Petch House. The only draw back so far is that they don’t come with matching screws. Shiny brass or steel screws will never do. As soon as I post this I’m heading over to Van Dykes to pay extortion level prices for antiqued wood screws.

And the last of the tin for the tin ceiling arrived today. Unless I screwed up again on the ordering I should get this installed tomorrow, or Saturday at the latest

The cornice has been primered and two top coats applied. I can probably get this up Saturday and touch-up painted on Sunday.

The floor is finished, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I should not be allowed to refinish floors. Either that or the odds are in my favor to get it right the next time. These are way under-sanded. The belt sander just wasn’t enough. Most of the floor will be under cabinets and carpets, so again, this is one of those things that will drive me crazy for the next 6 months until I accept it.

It is really noticeable now because the laundry room – through the open door – was over-sanded. The transition between the rooms is painfully obvious. This will be covered by a runner in a month. Still, it’s a little disappointing. Everything else is coming out so nice.

In other, sort of bad news – no, really its odd news – this bench was stolen on Monday. This is the front porch of the garage building that has the 2, 1-bedroom apartments on the second floor. This is in my backyard.

When I first bought the house the first thing I did was fix up the apartments and rent them out. One of the first things I did at that time was to replace the decking on the porch because it was rotted in places. I bought the bench at a drug store for like $30 or something and it has been there for more than 6 years now. That is, until someone stole in on Monday.

The bench is locked to a bolt which is screwed in to the deck. The lock is a flexible, krypto bike lock and they were able to twist it in to knots while they unscrewed the rather large eye bolt. I’m willing to bet they had to lift up the bench occasionally to un-twist the lock so they could continue to un-screw 4-inch machine threads on the bolt.

It is odd that this weekend I was working out back and I noticed how ratty the bench was starting to get. The cast iron is showing rust and it has lost a lot of paint. The tenants actually use the bench quite a bit. One of them has recently planted the plants that are just in front of the porch and she has had 4 or 5 Bar-BQs this summer with friends. The boyfriend of the other tenant regularly has his morning cigarette while sitting on the bench. I’m not a big fan of smoking, but he’s a nice guy and she’s a good tenant. Better on the porch than in the apartment, and I never see butts lying around.

There is a security light that burned out on Monday at that is what gave the cockroaches the cover of darkness in which to steal the crappy, weathered little bench. There is another light on the porch that has never worked. I decided to fix it before I replaced the bench. I went down to Ace yesterday after work to buy a new fixture and a timer so I could have the light go on and off automatically.

I was in the garage yesterday to work on the fixture when I noticed that the broken fixture is wired in to one of the apartments. The building has 3 panels – one for each apartment, and then a “managers panel” for other things. For some reason this light is wired in to apartment number 1.

Last night I called the tenant in question to tell her that I would need to shut her power off to fix the light. I asked when was a good time and I told her that after the light was working I would buy another bench for the porch. Today at lunch there was a message on the machine from the tenant. In a sort of cautious and slow voice she said something like, “Well, I’ll be at work all day Saturday, but you know, the bench showed back up. This morning it was back on the porch….

She went on with questions about where the bench might have gone, interspersed with her work schedule over the next few days. I stopped listening after, “..the bench showed back up…”. I hurried to the kitchen window and sure enough the bench was back on the porch – lock, bolt and all. The photo above was taken just an hour ago.

I untwisted the lock and screwed the bolt back in to the porch. As I was untwisting the lock I noticed someone had tried to cut through it at some point. I’m not sure if this was done Monday, or maybe this was an earlier attempt to try and steal the bench. Which ever it was, someone, or multiple someones, went through a lot of effort to get – and then return – a crappy, $30 bench that has been sitting outside for more than 6 years. Obviously these people have too much time on their hands.

It kind of makes you wonder. Did they return the bench because they felt guilty? Did they return it because they noticed how ratty looking it was once they saw it in the light of day. Maybe it was easier to return it than to fix it up. The theft was insulting enough. Should I feel more insulted now that it has been returned? Did they just need to borrow it for a few days? It is very odd and there are many, many questions to consider.

One thing is for sure, I don’t think I will be scrapping off the minor rust, nor will I be painting it anytime soon. I think if it looked nicer, I wouldn’t have gotten it back. I’m glad its back. For some reason it feels like a moral victory. If there is a system at work here, then I think we can safely say, the system worked.


Kathy from NJ said...

Maybe it was just a prank or maybe it was done on a dare.

I feel awful about sending you on a wild goose chase - do you like biscotti?

John said...

Love the hardware.

That is weird about the bench though. I mean, it makes no sense. Maybe you should low-jack it just to see where it goes when you're not around. Maybe there is a gang of college kids who still crappy benches, drag them all over the US and send photos of the bench at historic landmarks to the owner.

Anyhow, maybe I'm the one with too much time on my hands.

Greg said...


No worries....


I love the low-jack idea. I hear they make very small rf transmitters. I could attach one in some way and then tracks it movement.

Monica... Media Professional said...

1. Those locks are gorgeous. They make me miss my old apartment, even more.

2. That bench story is hilarious. Prank or otherwise, it's freaking funny.

Still loving your blog, Greg, even if I don't comment all that often.

Christine Thresh said...

Antique screws.
I remember a long ago incident about some antique metal sculpture. The shocking part was that the seller had "antiqued" the piece using urine.
You could try this technique on some sample screws. I think it takes months to work.

Anonymous said...

that is a strange story, thanks for telling it.

meanwhile, i DOTE upon your latches, good choice, they'll look beautiful with the pewter ceiling.

Greg said...


Always good to hear from you. Say hello to your Mom for me.


Hmmm, I'll store that for future reference, but it did remind me that some paint strippers will discolor metal and make them look old.


They are nice, aren't they.

Kathy from NJ said...

Re your disappoiontment with the floors:

I enlarged the picture and looked at it from many angles and I do notice a slight difference in the shading. But who, besides the butler, is going to spend a lot of time in the laundry & pantry? And whoever else goes in those rooms will be so bedazzled by the ceiling, cabinetry & hardware, I doubt they will even notice the floor.

Lighten up on yourself, Greg. Don't beat yourself into an early grave (at least until the house is DONE).

HPH said...

The latches are gorgeous. I love the detail. Please enlighten me on why two of the screw holes are coated (?) have an inset (?) with the gold-tone stuff (?).
Maybe your bench escaped on its own. It ran away to check out the green on the other side of the fence only to discover it was much happier at home.

Greg said...

The brass ring in the two front holes is a little ferrel that holds the back plate on. Some have a small screw to hold the back on and others do it this way.

The back is only a half plate to keep the spring mechanism from popping out. They put the back on, insert the ferrel, and then flare out both ends. Once they are mounted with the screw you no longer see the brass.

Sandy said...

I love those latches. Strange about your little bench.

STAG said...

Hee hee...I can see it now...

"Billy, why is there a bench in the garage"? "Well mom, me and the guys we sort of, um...found it." "Found it huh! You take it right back to where you found it or you just wait until your father gets home!" "Ahhh moooooommmmmm!"

Mick said...

The cheap answer to shiny brass screws - brass darkening solution from Rockler (or others). Well cheap if you do this reasonably often. But in just about 2 minutes it will turn shiny harware store screws into expensive aged / antiqued brass screws - you just throw them in and watch the color turn. I love the stuff.

Anonymous said...

Funny about the return of the bench. The cockroaches that stole my purse did the same thing. They kept the camera, cell phone and cash but "mailed" the purse so the post office returned the balance to me. Go figure.