Thursday, August 31, 2006

Post-Op Photo

Last week I showed a photo of a window sill during a Reconstructive Surgery Operation. Here is the after shot. Actually, there is a before and after for comparison. I used MixWax’s High Performance Wood Filler to make the repairs. Someone left at message on the original post saying how many people think the MinWax product is nothing more than Bondo. For those of you who don’t know, Bondo is an automotive body filler used to repair minor dents and dings. It’s been around for decades.

I’m sure the MinWax product is Bondo. In fact, I’ll go as far as say that MinWax has some license agreement with Bondo to distribute the product under the MinWax name, and the product is probably produced and packaged by Bondo for MinWax. I can’t prove it, but that sort of thing is very common. Why reinvent the wheel when someone else already makes a perfectly good one and is willing to let you sell it as your own. I’ve mentioned before that I work for a small, local manufacturer and 60% to 70% of one of our production lines does nothing but produce our product with other people’s name on it and then it is shipped out all over the country.

Anyway, back to the repairs…



It may be Bondo, but it beats the hell out of replacing a window sill.

Tomorrow I’m going to dig in to Section 2. I’ve noticed a pattern as I work through the different sections. At first I’m really in to it and things move quickly. Then as the work drags on I get tired and fed-up. As I reach the end, though, and see the dramatic results I get energized about starting work on the next section. That’s where I’m at now. So if I continue this trend I should have some positive posts over the next 3 days. After that the tone will become noticeably negative (think spiders crawling on my face), but then things will turn upbeat once again as I start to get paint on it. It’s the 3 stages of painting.

Cautiously Optimistic

Recently, several HouseBloggers have been writing about the impending Doom of Winter like it was the return of an invading arming. Anyone who is trying to finish up a big outdoor project, or has a to-do list with a number of smaller weather related projects still on it can sense the change in weather. Fall is almost upon us, which means bad weather can’t be far behind. Anyone who has even glanced at my blog over the last 3 months knows I’m painting my house this year.

To say it is a monumental task would be a monumental understatement. Even so, I think it’s been going well. I haven’t fallen off the ladder, broken any windows with the ladder, or dropped a bucket of paint and splashed all over a freshly painted section (My 3 biggest fears). The only problem so far has just been the sheer amount of work. Fortunately I have the proper mindset for these types of tasks. Ask me to pick out a wallpaper and I will crumble in to a whimpering mass on the floor. Ask me to scrape a 3000 sq ft, 3 story Victorian to bare wood and repaint it and I just do it. I actually enjoy doing it.

Today I will finish Section 1 and make a tentative start on Section 2. Let’s look at the chart again. For the sake of discussion I have colored in Section 2 as if it were finished. We’re not going to plummet into the Doom of Winter tomorrow, so if nothing else, I will finish Section 2 before the weather changes. That is, unless I fall of the ladder today and break something. Fingers crossed.

You can see that once Section 2 is complete I will have Sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. That sounds like a lot, doesn’t it. I mean, if you look at the chart it looks like I’m only half way around the house. And there is some truth to that because I have only painted 50% of the house. The reality is, though, I am much further along. I would say it is more like 65% of the work has been completed, and maybe even more. Here are some shots of the remaining sections to be painted.

North Elevation

West Elevation

First, notice the lack of corner brackets and fancy porches. The big wrap around porch needs a new deck, but that’s not going to happen this year. The columns are in great shape and don’t need to be stripped at all. Also, the horizontal siding under the porch will only need to be sanded and painted for the most part. The shingles on the west side do need a lot of work. Those are going to have to go back to bare wood. Because of the porch roof, though, there are fewer of them and I can stand on the roof, so I won’t need to fool with ladders.

Really, once I get Sections 4 & 5 near the front of the house done, Sections 6, 7, & 8 will go very quickly. If I leave Section 7 (under the porch) until the end, that is something I could do with just a few clear days in November or even December. And technically, that would still be Painting the House This Year. That is to say, technically, I would be achieving my goal. You just have to know how to work the system.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bad Plumbing

And I’m not talking about the house. Yes, something’s not right inside me. I didn’t sleep well at all last night and I’ve been really out of it today. I think it was sort of coming on yesterday and that’s why I was so worn out after painting. That, and I’m not 20 years old anymore. I did manage to get something done today before I could go no further. There was a battle going on between my small intestines and my neurotic need to paint the house. I think it was a draw.

I got one coat on the first floor siding and trim, and one coat on the second story trim. I’ve been feeling a bit woozy and light headed at times and thought it best that I not spend too much time up on the 32-foot ladder. Although, if I did manage to survive a fall I would get some much needed rest in the hospital. So there is that.

The wooziness it not too bad. I mean, I used to pay good money to get that feeling, so it’s something I’m accustomed to. What’s really bad are the cramps. Out of the blue one hits me in the gut and I just can’t even move it hurts so bad. One hit me while I was up on the ladder and after that I made a hasty descent every time I felt one coming on. I would get down in time to lay in the grass and then it was 15 or 20 seconds clenching jaw and fists waiting for it to pass.

The other problem was the potential for, shall we say, gaseous emissions. I’m up on a ladder with the business end of my lower intestines pointed squarely at the woman’s apartment window over the fence. It was a nice day so the windows are open. Needless to say, I made many more unscheduled trips down the ladder to avoid any embarrassing out bursts. It was not a productive day.

Regardless of all those problems, I did manage to get something’s done. Here’s where I’m at. This is Section 1 as it stands now, and a shot of Section 2 with it’s spider infested tree. That is going to be all kinds of fun. Tomorrow, it’s shingle time.

Monday, August 28, 2006

It’s All Very Technical

More than a week ago I said that on Monday I would start putting primer on the Section 1. What I didn’t say was which Monday. Today, Monday, I primed Section 1, so technically I was right. I’m not a lawyer, but I play one on my blog, and I’m pretty sure this would hold up in court.

Also, I said I was going to try and get 50% of the house done by the end of August. Given that there are only 3 more days left in August you might think I’m not going to make it. However, technically, I didn’t say what year so I still have plenty of time to meet my goal of “The End of August”. You’ve just got to know how to work the system. It’s all very technical.

This took me almost 6 hours to cover with primer. That seems like a lot. It seems like I could have done that a lot faster a few months ago. Either I’m getting tired or…no, there is no “or” about it, I’m getting tired. I have another two months of good painting weather, maybe two and a half, if I’m lucky. I seriously doubt I will get the whole house painted in that time. After I finish this section and the next little section (technically it’s called Section 2) I will be at 50%. The most difficult parts will be behind me. The porch and the comer brackets were real time consumers. Oh, and the spider infested tree that is hogging all the space around Section 2 will really slow things down.

There is a good chance I can get the entire north side done. That only has 3 of the big downstairs sunbursts on it. In fact, those are the last three on the house. Also, there is a chance I won’t have to strip all that to bare wood. The north side sees very little direct sun light, and if I remember correctly, which I probably don’t, a lot of the paint on the shingles is in good condition. The shingles take 3 times the amount of time to prep & paint as the horizontal siding. If I can get away without having to strip all those back to bare wood I have a shot at it. Otherwise, I’m toast and I’ll never make it.

On Tuesday I'll start to put on the first top coat on Section 1. Technically that could mean tomorrow.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

What is Technorati?

I guess I'm about to find out. I see the link on other blogs along with other cryptic little icons. Will these things help me loose inches from waist line? Will I regain my youthful sense of optimism about life? Will Technorati paint my house? Maybe all I have to do is click "Publish Post" and all my dreams will come true.

Technorati Profile

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Poll Cats & Poll Dogs

This week is a two part poll.

Judging from the comments I received from the series of posts about replacing the carpet in the apartments it seems that many of us share our homes with furry little friends. I have no doubt there are some fine feathered friends out there as well, along with some scaly ones. There are probably pets with more than 4 legs, and ones with no legs at all. It seems many of us live with a pet of some kind, so this weeks poll questions are devoted to them.

The first question asks How Many Pets You Share Your Home With. Note that termites, powder post beetles, and carpenter ants don’t count as pets. The second question is multiple choice and you are asked to Select The Type of Pets You Live With. Chose as many types as apply.

First, here are the results of last weeks poll.

How Many Pets Do You Share Your Home With

Select The Type of Pets You Live With

Friday, August 25, 2006

Reconstructive Surgery

Well, another day passed and it was another day that I did not put paint or primer on the side of the house. I am ready to make one last prediction, though. I am now officially saying that I will begin to primer this small section of the house sometime in the next 12 months. This is an official prediction, now. It’s official.

The delay this time came in the form of a badly sun beaten window sill. I knew it was bad because 2 years ago I repaired the one right next to it. You could even tell under the paint that it was in bad shape. Yesterday I scraped the paint off and sure enough it had deep grooves in it from sun and rain damage. The results of 112 years of southern exposure and bad paint jobs.

It has been repaired twice before. The early repair was done with some type of sawdust and paste filler. It was very loose. Then later someone used latex caulk to fill again. It all had to go. I got out the rotozip and dug all the old filler out. I then sanded the surface down with the random orbital sander. I then went back over it with the rotozip a second time. Here’s where I ended up.

Most of the grooves are only a quarter inch deep or so. The long one closest to the sash goes almost all the way through in places. I first drove some 3.5-inch galvanized finishing nails in at an angle to give it some strength. I then filled the bottom half of the gap with urethane caulk. After that I covered everything with the MinWax epoxy wood filler. Tomorrow I will sand it smooth. After I paint, you’ll never know the difference.

I used the urethane caulk for two reasons. It seems better at bonding to the wood than the MinWax High Performance wood filler is. The MinWax stuff is great for filling large gaps but it’s not as good at bonding two pieces of wood together. I think the caulk will also be better in the long run at preventing water from getting down in there.

One thing I don’t like about the MinWax product are the instructions for mixing. They says to use “a golf ball sized portion of the base to a ¾ inch long line of the catalyst”. This seems a little ambiguous. I took a plastics class in high school and one thing I remember is that if you get too much catalyst it can make the plastic brittle and it will fail. The PC-11 epoxy that I use to make small repairs in the gingerbread has a 1:1 ratio of base to catalyst. That is unambiguous. You just get two equal portions and mix them together.

Also with the MinWax product, you seem to get enough of the catalyst for 3 or 4 jars of the base. Why do they give you so much? There is this tendency to want use too much because they give you way more than you need. It just seems like an odd way to package the materials.

As for yesterday’s post, I missed the magic time for the light show, if it even happened. There was a point where the shadow from my house was completely cast over the house across the street. When I went in to the parlor there was a ray of light coming in through the little stained glass window, but it wasn’t hitting the big stained glass window. It was hitting the wall about a half of foot away from the window. I either just missed it or it was going to happen soon. Either way I didn’t see it. The fog just rolled in, so there’s no chance of seeing it tonight.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

An Added Bonus

So, there are these two stained glass windows in the front parlor. Some of you may have seen one of them before. It is the big arched one on the front of the house. The other is a small window about 6 feet up on an adjacent wall. Here’s a picture.

First, note the antique Bakelite mini-blinds. The verdict’s still out, but I think they might be original to the house. Maybe not, but anyway, there are these 2 windows in the parlor. The small one high up on the wall may be considered a “piano window”. I’ve been told that small windows high on the wall were put there so you could fit a piano or organ under them and still get light in the room from that wall. It makes sense, because given the lighting situation in the late 19th Century you would pretty much want a window on every exterior wall to get enough light in the room during the day. If it's a full sized window, it limits the available space for large pieces of furniture.

But back to the bonus….

I was out working on The Intimate Little Corner on Monday and my neighbor across the street pulls up and gets out of his truck. I think the woman who lives in the house recently married because I don’t really know this gentleman but he seems to live there now. Maybe he’s just a boyfriend, at any rate, I don’t know him well and we’ve rarely spoken. He asked me about a tailor of lumber parked in front of the lot next to his. I told him I didn’t know anything about it.

He then tells me that at this time of year, late in the day, just before the sun goes down my front stained glass window shoots colors at his house. The only thing I can assume is that a ray of light comes in the small stained glass window, goes through my parlor, and shoots out the big stained glass window. The effect is that the house across the street gets a rainbow of colors in their front parlor in the evening. My house becomes like a giant kaleidoscope shooting colors at the house across the street! Is that cool, or what?

At first I was surprised I’ve never noticed it before. Also, as soon as he told me it sounded familiar. I think the woman mentioned this to me right after I moved in. The first 6 months I lived here were very chaotic. There was the whole feeling of being over-whelmed by the monster house that seems like it needs more work than I could possibly ever do in 4 lifetimes. Also, I was working like a mad-man to get the apartments ready to rent. It may have been one of those instances where somebody tells you something interesting or important and because of your state of mind you just kind of go, “Huh, what? Ok, whatever.” And then you forget it pretty much as soon as you are told it.

Now that I’ve lived here for 4 years in a somewhat less chaotic state than the first 6 months, you would think that maybe I would have noticed that I live in a 3000 sq ft kaleidoscope. I think I never noticed for several reasons. First, for the first couple of years in the house I used the dining room as my living room and spent very little time in the parlors. Then, of course, this only happens a few weeks or months of the year. Also, we frequently have overcast skies this time of year. Finally, I would have to be sitting in the parlor looking out the front window at the house across the street when it happens. I’m really not one to sit and stare out the window like that. Also, I don’t know the duration of the light show. It may only happen for 5 minutes and then it’s gone. I really should have asked more questions.

As you can imagine I’m very curious to see what this looks like and maybe even get a picture of it. I don’t know if the light is small and focused or if it appears on some of the front of the house as well. Today may be one of those times when all the planets come in to alignment, so to speak. It’s sunny; I’m in the parlor; I’m not scrapping paint because my back is killing me from installing carpet - Grrrrr!; and I’m finally aware of the phenomena. Now I just have to remember to glance out the window periodically.

I just looked. It's not there yet.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More Cat Peeness

I finally got everything stripped that needs to be stripped. Thank God. Man, that really took a long time. Today I went around with a nail set and drove any protruding nails below the surface, and then I puttied all the nail holes. When I did the arched trim over the big stained glass window I used that really expensive epoxy. For the nails on the siding I’m using MinWax High Performance wood putty. It’s another 2 part epoxy filler, and while it’s not cheap, it’s not nearly as expensive as the other stuff. I think it’s about $13 for a 12 ounce can as opposed to $7 for a 2 ounce can.

Tomorrow I would be able to sand and maybe even start putting primer on, but instead I get to install more carpet in the apartments. Yea me! I thought I was going to be able to salvage the bedroom carpet. It didn’t smell that strong at first, and after I shampooed the carpet it seemed fine. The smell just kind of seemed to grow, though. I went up and cut out the padding and sprayed on more Nature’s Miracle (They’ve gotten my $30. I’m sorry, but I’m never buying that stuff again.) I also had a professional come in and clean the carpet. It smells fine for a few days but then it really gets bad. After a week the tenant complained again – and for good reason. I’m really tired of dealing with it so I ripped it all out last Friday and today I picked up the new carpet.

Tomorrow I’ll go down and rent the equipment to install it. And that is the reason I may not start to primer the siding until Friday, at the earliest. Remember when it was going to be Monday? Ha! I ran through the old tenants deposit already so this carpet is coming out of my pocket. It’s not too bad. They were out of the carpet I bought for the living room so I went with something very similar but a lower grade carpet. The bedroom won’t see a lot of traffic (She’s not that kind of girl), so I think it’ll be fine. All told, with the equipment rental, it’s going to be about $125. Spending the money is a drag, but the worst part is it takes me away from painting the house! Winter’s coming.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Seeing Green…..Again

Months back when I started painting the house I speculated about the original house colors. I won’t go in to it all again, but there was some debate – internal debate – as to whether the house was originally green or originally white. I settled on green at first because I had found traces of what I thought was green paint on the siding in places where some of the gingerbread had been removed. Later I decided I was delusional and in the original color was in fact white.

All evidence pointed to white, and any evidence of the green paint had long since been sanded away when I restored the missing gingerbread. Well, today I was working on the Intimate Little Corner on the side of the house. This is the corner I was supposed to be painting today, but as it is now I think I’m may be two days away from even starting to put primer on. Yes, that corner. Anyway, all of the pieces of siding were loose at one end. It was as if there were no nails holding the siding on at that corner. The corner board was nailed to the siding but everything was sort of hanging away from the house an inch or so. I feared I may have a rotten corner so I removed the corner trim to inspect.

Much to my surprise the siding under the corner board had that same green paint on it that I had seen 3 or 4 years ago under the missing gingerbread. Here’s a picture.

That is green, my friends. As green as the nose on my face. Ha! So I’m not crazy. Well, maybe I am, but I’m not crazy about seeing green paint under the missing gingerbread. I have been vindicated. Now the question is, why does it only appear under trim pieces. The answer I’ve come up with is that maybe it isn’t really paint. Maybe it’s just boiled linseed oil, or something else, that has greened over the years. I don’t know if BLO does that, but it is interesting that this only shows up on the siding under the trim.

A broader question is, would they have painted the house after they put the siding on, but before putting all the trim on? It doesn’t seem likely. A good way to ruin a perfectly good paint job is to have a bunch of carpenters with grubby hands leaning against a nice pristine paint job while they apply trim.

A more logical explanation is that it is some type of oil or preservative that is applied to the siding while the house is waiting for a paint job. Given the amount of exterior detail it seems it could have been months from the time the siding was put on, until when all the trim was finished and the house was ready for paint. Given our moist, foggy climate, and the abundance of rain, you could have a problem if the freshly milled siding gets wet and it raised the grain.

So, to recap, my theory is that the siding was put on and as they finished a section they oiled the wood to protect it. After the house was completely trimmed out the house was painted white. This unpainted but oiled siding that ended up under the trim turned a shade of green over the intervening years, only to be discovered by me. It then set me in a tizzy about what the original colors were.

Yes, the house tried to put on over on me, but I’m too smart for it. It’s not going to get me, no sir-ee. And I’m not crazy! I saw I green! You’re all a witness. I saw it! I did. I swear. I’m not crazy.

Oh, and there was no rot in the corner. The nails just rusted away to nothing. End of story.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Spared No Expense

Do you remember the wealthy British gentleman who ran the island in the first Jurassic Park movie. The character’s name was Jon Hammond and the actor who played him was Sir Richard Attenborough. One of his lines that he repeated throughout the movie was, (spoken in The Queen’s English) “Spared no expense. Nothing but the finest”. I say this to myself a lot of times when I’m painting the outside of the house. Of course, I say it in a British accent.

While the inside of my house has some very nice High Victorian woodwork, I get the feeling that if the house had been built on the other side of the Rockies the inside might have been even nicer. My house had no fancy tile work in the bathroom; no inlayed floors in the parlors; no encaustic tile in the foyer; no lincrusta in the dining room. It is my own personal theory that those things weren’t being produced out here yet and shipping them was so expensive that only the wealthiest could afford them.

The necessities though, like tile surrounds and oak mantles from Ohio on the fireplace, are found in my house. You’ve got to have a fireplace, right? I’m sure there was a big honkin’ stove in the kitchen that was made someplace in the rust belt. Those things, even though they were expensive to ship, were a must-have for the home so you paid the price to get them on a ship and ship them around South America and up the West Coast. I’m guessing at some point, though, things became cost prohibitive for even a mildly successful home owner. Things that may have been common place in areas near where they were produced became more scarce out in the boondocks.

Again, this is just my own pet theory. Perhaps the Petch family just couldn’t stand tile and the thought of inlayed floors was offensive them. I don’t know. I do know though, that on the outside of the house they Spared no expense. Nothing but the finest. As I work around the house I just marvel at the craftsmanship and the level of detail they went to. They may not have had tile and oak floors but they had redwood up the ying-yang and it was easily milled in to any shape you could imagine.

Case in point, the corners of the house. You can’t do much with a corner, right? It’s a 90 degree angle. Two boards come together. Slap a few nails in and your done. Right? Wrong. They did bull-nosed corners on all the outside corners around the house. Why did they do it? I don’t know. I’m guessing that some enterprising architect was sitting in his office and thought, “Oh, wouldn’t that look cool to do bull-nosed corners on the outside of the house?”. Well, maybe he didn’t say, “Cool”. I wonder what it would have been. I wonder what the “hip” expression was in 1895? Interesting question.

Anyway, here’s how they did the corners.

Standard corner with lapped boards. This is from 1920s work when they expanded the scullery. This is the only corner on the house like this.

Bull nose corner. They don’t lap the boards. Instead, they seperate the boards and add a piece of quarter round to fill the gap. As I go around I’m removing the quarter round and stripping it separately. I then goop up the joint with caulk before I reattach the quarter round.

Here is a finished corner. The lighting is poor, so use your imagination.

Spared no expense. Nothing but the finest.

As a bonus question, does anybody know who Sir Richard Attenborough’s brother is? Although I wouldn’t call him an actor, he is seen on TV on a somewhat regular basis. I do a pretty good impression of him, if I do say so myself.

And that……as they say… that!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

An Intimate Little Corner

I started Section One on Thursday after work. At the end of the day yesterday I thought I might be putting on primer tomorrow, so that wouldn’t too bad. That was until I started stripping the corner brackets today. I thought I wasn’t going to have to strip them, and that would have saved a lot of time. In the end though, I made the management decision to go ahead and strip them.

The corner boards leading up to the brackets were really bad. They had lots of flaking paint under the latex paint that was applied 6 years ago by the POs. I had to strip those back to bare wood just as I did the siding.

There’s just no excuse for this

When I got up to the brackets I noticed there were some really bad spots along with some good areas, but for the most part they could have gone either way. I started by just scrapping the bad areas, and one thing lead to another, and well, you know how it goes.


Hmmmm, straight grain redwood {drool}

The paint came off the siding pretty easily but it was still a lot of work. I think I spent maybe 6 or 7 hours total stripping the siding in this area. That’s not too bad. I almost took out the phone line when I removed the rain gutter. There were 5 brackets holding it on. I didn’t expect it to be very heavy. I mean, it’s just a hollow aluminum tube. The trouble was, it wasn’t hollow. The top 18-inches or so was completely clogged with weeds and shingle granules. I don’t think this thing has been draining water for a long time.

I undid the brackets half way and was trying to separate it in the middle to take it down. Suddenly the top-heavy top half let go and the whole thing flew off the house and landed on the phone line. In a way it was good because if it hadn’t landed on the phone line it would have probably bent and I would have had to replace it. As it was there was no harm done. I then decided to go up and clean out the gutter. Better to do it now than after I paint.

This is the second downspout on the house that I’ve found like this. The last one I cleaned out had a small tree growing in the downspout so it was easy to see there was a problem. That was when I first bought the house. This one didn’t have any real growth in it, jut lots of crude. There are 5 downspouts on the house. The one over the front porch wasn’t clogged. I inspected it last week when I was up on the roof. Another one I just installed last year when I removed the 2 story addition. That leaves the one of the south side. I don’t see any growth in it, but I now know that doesn’t mean anything. I’ll have to be sure to check it before winter arrives.

As I said, I thought I might be putting on primer on Monday. Now that I’ve included the brackets, and all the corner and window trim, I think I’m looking at Wednesday at the earliest. That’s ok, though. It was the right thing to do. If I can finish everything up by Friday that will leave me almost a week to do Section Two and still finish before my arbitrary deadline expires. Section Two has just two small walls with an inside corner, no windows, and almost no trim. Of course, I will have the spider infested tree to contend with. Should be fun.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Polling All Bloggers

I kind of screwed up last weeks poll by leaving off some important house styles. That makes this weeks question a little odd for those of you who were left off the list, so to speak.

This week the question is, is your favorite house style the style of house you live in. Are you living the dream? Maybe it doesn’t matter, I guess, because the question can still apply to you whether your house style was on the list last week or not. So forget all that, and just answer the question.

Below this weeks poll question are the results from last weeks poll. Eventually I want to get the poll to show up in my sidebar but I haven’t had time to screw with it.

Do you live in your favorite house style?
Yes I do, thank you for asking.
No, damn it, and it's irritating!
Free polls from

What is your favorite house style

Friday, August 18, 2006

HouseBlog Want Ads

Philanthropist Wanted

No experience necessary. Will train the right person. Knowledge of wire transfers or the ability to write checks helpful. The right candidate will have excess money and maybe a love of Victorian architecture. Should be willing to pay so that others can work hard at what they love to do. No travel necessary. Opening positions starting at $30,000 a year with plenty of room for advancement. Here at The Petch House we are an equal opportunity employer. Old money, endowments, trust funds, foundations, or the Nuevo Riche are welcome to apply.

Please contact Greg at ASAP. We wish to fill this position immediately!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Section One Begun

I was doing a little thinking today and it dawned on my that, you know what, this is a lot of house to paint. Has anyone else noticed that? When you stop and think about it, it’s really a lot of damn house to paint. I mean a lot of house. Really a lot. A lot. A lot. A lot. A lot. A lot. A lot.

It’s a lot. Really, really a lot

A lot.

But, I’ve just gotta keep chipping away at it. Or, I guess I should say scraping away at it. That’s what I’ve been doing today. Scraping shingles on the second floor of Section One (Refer to your charts). It’s going pretty good, I guess. It sure is a lot of work, though. Has anyone else noticed that? This is a lot of damn work. I mean a lot a lot. Not just a little a lot, but a lot a lot. It’s just keeps going and going and going and going. I swear to God I think those octagon shingles are multiplying before my eyes. They just go on and on and on and on. It’s just an ocean of octagon shingles. There’s a lot of them. A lot. A LOT!

{ok, calm down….calmblueocean calmblueocean calmblueocean}

The goal is still to try and finish Sections One & Two by the end of the month. I had hoped to start on it Monday, but that didn’t happen. Then it was going to be Tuesday, but, oops, it didn’t happen then either. Wednesday was looking really good until I discovered I needed to jack up the porch roof a measly inch. This is something that’s been gnawing away at me ever since I “finished” the porch.

The reason for the jacking is because the porch roof was not high enough and the gutters might now drain properly. You might be thinking that it’s a very small porch so how bad could it be. If you were thinking that, you’d be wrong. The porch is small but there is a downspout from the main roof that drains on to the porch. That downspout drains close to 25% of the main roof.

I waited on the gutters until I finished painting the front because I knew I was going to be dragging ladders on to the porch roof. Now that I’m finished with that it’s time for new gutters around the porch. The thing that was gnawing at became overwhelming as I was flipping through the yellow pages looking for gutter people. Was the roof too low? I got a level and climbed up on a ladder and found out it was.

The outside column that needed all the work had serious rot at the bottom. When I had the roof jacked up and was rebuilding everything I was so nervous that everything would come crashing down that I really didn’t pay enough attention to some things. What I should have done was measured the other column and jacked up the rotted one to about the same height before I put new supports under it. I also could have checked for level the ledge that the rain gutter hangs on. I did neither and so that outside corner of the porch was too low.

It wasn’t something I noticed when I looked at it, but in pictures I could notice that it was off. I thought at first that it was supposed to be like that so the gutters would work right. There is a gutter that runs along the front, which then turns a corner and runs along the side. The downspout is at the back of the side piece. The problem is, both the front and the side slope towards that outside corner with the column, not towards the downspout. The short side run should either be level or slope towards the downspout.

There is a good chance that even if I did nothing the gutter would fill up with water to a point that it would drain anyway with out over flowing. I might end up with some water sitting in there but I’m not sure it that’s terrible. If it does overflow though, it will overflow right at the corner that I had all the rot. If it had been a longer run of gutter it probably wouldn’t matter. As it is, it’s a total of about 18 feet of gutter that drains 25% of the roof. It’s going to get a lot of water. By bringing it up an inch I made the side level so now there should be no problems.

Jacking it up sort of solved other problems and created new ones. The little brackets at the corner of the posts had little gaps were they met the posts. When I initially jacked up the roof I thought this would bring them in to alignment with the columns, but it didn’t. This should have been an indication I didn’t jack it up enough. Again, I wasn’t thinking things through all the way. When I jacked it up yesterday it very nearly brought them in to the proper alignment with the post. However, the new soffit I put on, that was as tight as a you-know-what on her you-know-what suddenly had a big nasty gap in the corner. Bummer. The gap was a good 3/8-inch but I had more of that urethane caulk which did a nice job of filling it.

The other problem was the new porch rails. They now sort of went up at an odd angle. I had to get out the trusty Sawzall and cut through the nails so I could lower them a hair and reattach them. I also had to redo the trim around the base of the column because it was now and inch off the porch deck. When all the caulk drys I’ll need to go around and touch up the paint job. It was a pain in the ass, but not a major pain. I’m really feel good about fixing it because it is something that has been bothering me for weeks.

Now, I can call the gutter people with confidence and say, “Gutter people, do my gutters!”

Did you vote in The Poll yet?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Brick By Any Other Name

A friend of mine…..I guess he’s more of an acquaintance, really. Let’s say a friend of a friend. A friend of a friend of mine is leaving the area soon and selling his house. He owns a very charming little Victorian on one of the nicest streets in town. It’s one of those little cottage type Victorians that is trying to be more than it is with all of it’s trim and detail. I wish I had a picture of it, but I don’t.

Anyway, he somehow managed to make his way in to the Salvage Club. There’s a group of people who always find out about demolitions or estate sales full of salvage. I’m sort of on the periphery of the group, but no where near a full member. He was, it seems, and since he’s moving he’s been getting rid of a lot of stuff. A few months back I bought about 100 feet of beautiful 1X12 clear, heart old growth redwood boards from him. They came in 6 and 7 foot lengths and there is not a hint of a knot on any one of the boards. All tight, straight grained wood. I think I ended up paying about a dollar a foot for it.

When I was at his place buying the boards I looked over a lot of his stuff that he wanted to part with. Most I wasn’t interested in because I either had no use for it in the foreseeable future, or I already had the items at home and did not need duplicates. There was, however, a pile of old bricks in his backyard. They had come out of the Daly building which was built at the turn of the century. Daly’s was a department store downtown that was the premier shopping place in it’s day. After the mall was built on the other side of town it started it’s steady but inevitable decline. Sound familiar? After it closed the building fell on hard times. Both the exterior and interior of the building had long since been remuddled to the point that there was little incentive to save it and restore it. It was in really bad shape and has since become a parking lot.

Even so, given the condition of the building there was still a lot of salvage to be had. That’s where the 1X12 redwood came from. I told my friend of a friend that I might be interested in the bricks. I wasn’t chomping at the bit for them, so I didn’t make an offer or anything. It was one of those “if nobody else wants them, and you’re ready to leave, I might take them”. I need to rebuild the tops of two chimneys, so I could use the bricks, but it’s a year or more away, so what’s the hurry, right?

Last Saturday I ran in to him at the market and it dawned on me I never asked about the bricks again. I had forgotten all about them. He said they are still there if I want them. I said I did and we made arrangements for me to come over and look at them. Immediately I start to think about what I’ll offer him for them. What does a brick cost these days? Ninety percent of the bricks had been cleaned of their mortar. When I went over to his house to look at them, I grabbed one to take home to see if they were the same bricks as my chimneys. They are an exact match. In the picture below the brick on the left is from my 1895 chimney and the brick on the right is from the Daly building.

I don’t know a thing about bricks so for all I know this is the most common brick in the world. Maybe it’s no surprise that both the brick from my chimney and the bricks from the department store are the same. Either way, I was happy. I decided I wanted the bricks. Now, of course, the big questions is, how much do I offer him for the bricks? I went on-line to try and get prices for salvage bricks. I found some places that carry salvage bricks but none of them listed prices. Not a good sign. When some place doesn’t list prices it’s usually because the prices are high. I said, screw it, I ‘m not going to worry about. I’ll offer him what I can pay for them.

I was driving back over and I was trying to remember how many there were. It was hard to judge. Some were stacked neatly and others were in a big pile. At first I was thinking 10 cents each, but then I thought that is too low. I have no idea how much a new brick costs. I somehow decided on 25 cents a brick and I figured I’d buy $50 or $60 dollars worth. That would be between 200 and 250 bricks. When I got back over there I told him 25 cents a brick and he agreed and we started loading them up. We got to about $50 worth of bricks in no time and there were still a lot left. The old Ford was riding a bit low at this point and I started to reevaluate. I’d never told him how much I wanted to spend.

I was in the back of the truck stacking and he was handing them in to me. I stopped and said, “You know, lets’ see where we’re at here”. I counted them up and then told him I only wanted to spend about $60 on bricks and it would only take another 20 or so bricks to reach that limit. He paused, and sort of thought a minute, and finally said, “How about taking all of them for $60?”. I paused a minute and thought to myself, “Hmmmm, advantage Greg” No, I’m only kidding. I said ok to the $60 for all of them deal and I would even take the broken ones and get rid of them with my next dump run.

We continued loading until the old Ford could take no more. I made a trip home to unload and went back for the rest. When all was said and done I got about 620 bricks for $60. That works out to be less than 10 cents a brick. I still don’t know what used bricks go for, or even new bricks for that matter. I feel I got a good deal, though. I mean, what the hell can you buy for 10 cents these days? Practically nothing.

Now I hope I can find someone who still uses lime mortar instead of cement.

Only a few days left to vote in the poll!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Credit Where Credit's Due

So, I said I was going to let the whole Jerry Droz thing rest, and I promise this will be the last time I write about him. After that it's all old-house, all the time.

Anyway, after I posted the last blog entry I went to run errands which took me by the Post Office to check my PO Box. There were 2 letters to me from Jerry Droz. At first I thought I was going to be sued, but that wasn't it.

The first letter contained some copies of legal documents of a lawsuit Jerry took out against a "crack house", for lack of a better term. In a letter, Jerry states that after trying to work with the city and police department he took matters in to his own hands and sued the owner of the property for maintaining a public nuisance.

I'm not a lawyer, and I didn't examine everything completely, but it seems that Jerry was successful in getting the property cleaned up. For that I applaud you, Mr. Droz. The city needs more citizens to stand up in this fashion and take action. Again, bravo! I mean that sincerely.

The other letter is an apology once again for the letter Jerry Droz wrote when I put my house up for nomination to the Local Register of Historic places. Mr. Droz apologizes profusely about implying that my house should not be listed. Mr. Droz says that he attempted to go down to City Hall and change the letter. Because it is a part of the public record, he can not. I honestly believe Mr. Droz made the attempt. Once again, I applaud you for the effort.

HOWEVER, (and that's a big "however") while that did bother me a lot that you implied that my house should not be listed that is not what really bothered me about that letter.

I hope you're reading this Jerry, because I want to make this clear to you.

What really bothered me is that now, and for all of eternity, when ever anybody looks up information on my house down at Community Development, there is a 2 page letter by Mr. Jerry Droz attached to the paper work for my house's listing on the Local Register of Historic Places. This 2 page letter has one paragraph about my house and then the rest has nothing to do with me or my house. It is nothing but a condemnation of the city. How nice for future homers to find.

In case you still don't get it, let me spell it out more clearly. I spent months and months of my time doing research on my houses history and the history of The Petch family (the first owners of the house). I spent weeks doing a 10 page write-up about the house. I found it offensive that you would take the opportunity of an event that I had worked on for 2 years or more to go off on a tangent about complaints you have of the city.

There is a time and place for everything and my nomination of my house was not the place for you to do that. Every other Tuesday The City Council holds a public meeting at City Hall and there is a time at the end of the meeting for public comment. That is when you should air your complaints about the city.

My advice to you, Mr. Droz, is don't run for Mayor. I think you can be much more help to the city doing what you do best. Sue negligent landlords for maintaining public nuisances in the city. Obviously you do that very well.

In case you don’t read this, Mr. Droz, I will be mailing you a copy.

Spin Doctors

I got 3 comments from Jerry Droz’ friends, or maybe they’re cronies. I wonder what it takes to be an official crony? Do you have to go to school or something? Anyway, they were all positive, glowing accounts of the man. There were some very interesting things about the comments, though. Let's see what they had to say.

This one is from Randy Wybeck. He says,

Why are you knocking , Jerry Droz?!!I lived on , Mccullen. When he moved in it was filled with Meth dealers & criminals. I don't know what he does but , in 3 months he got them out of there. All the junk cars that were littered all over were gone within weeks after he took over. My vote is for , DROZ!

This is very interesting because the law suit that Jerry filed against my friend, Jerry’s next door neighbor, was just thrown out of court by the Judge. The lawsuit was because my friend, who is a licensed contractor, was parking his vehicles in front of a property he owned while he was working on the property. The Judge basically said that this is something you should take to the city and is not for the courts. So, if according to Mr. Wybeck Jerry has cleaned up junk cars off the street before, and did it “within weeks after he took over”, then why didn’t he know that this is not a matter for the courts. Was this nothing more than a frivolous lawsuit against my friend?

Now, anybody who has read my blog for any length of time knows how I feel about neighbors making a nuisance with parking vehicles on the street. I had to deal with my neighbor who was keeping more than a dozen junk cars, trucks, dun buggies, and trailers filled with construction debris on the street. I first tried to work with my neighbor to leave me a few parking spaces on the street. When that failed, after 3 years of trying to work with my neighbor, I went to the city. This is the way the system works. Jerry Droz sued my friend, who is by all accounts a honest, decent, generous, hard working man – sued him in court with in weeks of their first encounter for parking 2 or 3 vehicles on the street while there is construction going on at the property.

Now, just to make this clear. My friend and his wife own exactly 4 vehicles. The wife’s vehicle has probably been to the property in question only a few times and stayed only a short while. She’s not the construction type. My friends other three vehicles consist of a 1940s era pick-up truck. This is the truck he drives on a daily basis. There is a 1964 ford truck, which he uses for dump runs. Finally, there is a Uhaul type box truck for equipment and tools. Now, I know my friend well enough to know he is not going to park all three in front of the work site and then walk home. At most there were 2 vehicles left on the street over night. Jerry Droz sued him in court for this.

This is not something that happened last year or 5 years ago. This was just last month. The Judge’s ruling was just handed down on Friday, August 11th, 2006. It begs the question: Why didn’t Jerry Droz go to the city if he felt there was a problem with the parking of trucks on the street. If we can believe Mr. Wybeck, that jerry Droz single handedly took care of the “Meth dealers & criminals” and “All the junk cars that were littered all over” “within weeks after he took over“, then why did he tie up the courts with this if he knew it was a city matter?

This doesn’t sound like someone who will make an effective Mayor to me. It does not sound like someone who understands the way the city works, or is willing to work with other people. I have to judge somebody on their actions.

Another comment came from someone calling themselves Golden. First, I can’t help but notice that the comment has the same typos as in Jerry’s letter to Community Development when I was adding my house to the Local Register of Historic Places. Notice how there are spaces before and after the commas, and there is no space after the periods. Jerry and Golden must have attended the same school. That is the only conclusion I can possibly make.

Golden writes,

What?!! Are you nuts??!! This guy is Eureka's miracle. He has done nothing but good things for the City.You better tell the truth , Greg because that's slander. You'd be surprised if he showed the Governor your letter , too.Then you'd really be in hot water.

Now, first off, as far as I know, Jerry Droz has only lived in Eureka for 4 years. Calling him “Eureka’s miracle” might be a bit of a stretch. What exactly has Jerry Droz done to be considered Eureka’s miracle? I read 2 local newspapers a day and I don’t recall seeing Jerry’s name come up too often. Lets’ see, a few months ago there was a story in the paper about how he couldn’t get the 20 signatures necessary to appear on the ballot. Then another story about how he managed to get them. Finally there was the story about how he shouted down the Mayor at a press conference. Oh, and by the way, The First Amendment to The Constitution does give everyone the right to Free Speech, but it does not give you the right to be rude and interrupt people.

Then Golden implies I’m not telling the truth. I’m not sure what he means by this. I have only quoted Jerry’s own written words, which are on public record down at City Hall. You can go to the Community Development Department and look at Case No. HPO-05-003. Golden then accuse me of slander, but I think he means libel because I wrote it on my blog. Golden, “slander” is oral defamation, and “libel” is written defamation. The real question is, am I committing libel by quoting someone’s own words and then stating my opinion on what they said? I don’t think so.

Buuuuuut, but, but, but, but the best part is Golden’s final line. It’s just 2 paragraphs up but I have to repeat it again because it is just too good.

You'd be surprised if he showed the Governor your letter , too.Then you'd really be in hot water.

What does this mean exactly? Does Jerry Droz have a hot line to the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento. Maybe there is a special red phone on the Governor’s desk labeled “Eureka’s Miracle”.

"Governator here. Miracle, are you in trouble? I'm on my way!"

Or maybe I going to get an angry email from Governor Schwarzenegger? Would that be cool, or what? Of course, I’d blog about it for a week. Or even better, maybe some hired goons will come up from Sacramento. You know, there’s nothing like the personal touch one gets with hired goons. It shows that someone’s making the effort. Of course, I’d probably have to send them directions, because I’m not sure if anyone in Sacramento knows where Eureka is. I'll tell them I live in the capital of Jefferson State. That’ll confuse them even more. I can just hear them now, "Wait, which one is Jefferson State? Is Eureka in Canada?"


Not seconds ago I just got the following comment from another Jerry Droz supporter. Notice again, the odd puncuation with the commas. It is the same way Jerry Droz and Golden write. They must have all attened the same school I guess. It's also odd that even though the comment was from "John" he starts his comment with "John said". Why his he writing in the third person?

John said , You were indeed lucky , Jerry , is about 6'3'' and 230lbs. By the way the Police didn't ask him to leave , he already left.
I personally know the man , he's done a lot of good things for our community so , i gotta tell you, no matter how much you may dislike him , my vote goes to him. He stood up in Court against drug - lords when others backed down. John of Eureka , California

Monday, August 14, 2006

Ain’t No Gable High Enough

I made my way up to the summit of the house today to paint the highest gable on the house. It’s a very tiny little spot at the very top of the highest point on the roof. It has about 30 fish-scale shingles on it. The expedition up to the summit was treacherous. This shot was taken after I was safely back down.

To get up there I first made my way out the stained glass portal and on to the ledge you see. From there I made my way up an almost vertical incline (the ladder), which took me in to a small valley just below the summit. I made base camp there while regained my strength.

Base Camp

The Summit

The last climb up to the summit was very steep (I’m not kidding). It was so steep that unless I held on to the ledge above the shingled area I would slide back down. This presented some problems. Managing a pail of paint and a brush with one hand on a steep incline is not easy. In fact, I found it impossible. After several attempts to get primer on the shingles I gave up. I never even got the paint can open. What I had to do was keep the open paint can at base camp and then make repeated trips up and down the roof with a brush full of paint. Fortunately it was a small area and base camp was close to the summit.

After I scraped the shingles and put the primer on I had some time to spare. I scraped some algae on the north side of the roof and snapped a few shots. Here are some uninspired roof shots.

The white house (1928) in the foreground is where the bottom half of the Frankenstein hutch came from. The pink house(1888) belongs to Sheri. She gets me all the cool doors. The blue house (1898), which you can just barely see, is known as The Peacock House to some.

Oh, and don't forget to vote in the poll

Damage Control

So, Jerry Droz as been contacting me at my Blog and my Home {shudder}. You may recall he was the one who attached the bizarre letter to my request to have my house listed on the Local Register of Historic places. He is also now running for Mayor of my fare city. Of course, when someone is running for public office candidates are open to scrutiny from all sides. And when the position being sought after is the Mayoralty of Eureka, CA, one of Americas greatest cities {cough}, you never know what’s going to happen. This is no-holds-barred politics people. Things can, and often do, get ugly.

People from Sacramento to Oregon have been Googleing the name Jerry Droz and my blog comes up in the first two listings. Then someone else put a link to my most recent blog entry about Jerry on a local political blog, so now more locals have stumbled on to my blog to read about his zany antics. It now seems that Jerry himself knows about it and is trying to do some damage control. Two comments were left today by Jerry on the original blog entry titled The List and The Lunatic. They are a must-read (really – a must-read).

(As an aside, last Friday at the incumbent Mayor’s press conference on the steps of City Hall, Jerry shouted down the Mayor as he was announcing his bid for reelection. The police came and apparently Jerry was asked to leave.)

Then today when I came home for lunch there was a note from Jerry under the door mat at my front door {shudder}. Keep in mind that Jerry’s original letter was written more than 16 months ago. Jerry wrote,

I am very, very sorry. Letter was written wrong. I have always been in full support of your gorgeous house being on historic registry. I didn’t realize how letter was addressed until yesterday. My sincerest apology. Please forgive me.

Mr. Droz, that’s all well and good. I accept your apology. It’s an apology I never wanted. Your letter had no effect on adding my house to the Local Register of Historic Places. The letter was stupid and pointless. The only problem with the letter was that it marred an otherwise happy event for me. It was as if you ran in to someone’s birthday party and started yelling at the caterer because they messed up on your party two weeks before. You saw an opportunity to get a bunch of crap off your chest and you used my house’s nomination for the Historic Register to do it. What it comes down to is this: you didn’t stop for one second to think how your actions would effect someone else. Is that what this city needs in a Mayor? I don’t think so. I’m looking forward to watching your election campaign go down in flames.

So, what the hell, I accept your apology. Please don’t ever come to my house again. I have nothing else to say to you. There is a lesson for you in all of this, and I really hope you will learn it.

Oh, and to all you out there who don't come here for the political three ring circus, don't forget to vote in this weeks poll: What's your favorite house style?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Polling The Bloggers

Yesterday I stumbled on to this site that hosts polls. I remembered that Nick over at Pigeon Point Project used to a do a weekly poll and it was a lot of fun, so I thought I resurrect the idea. Nick, if you feel I’m usurping your Polling Authority, say the word and I will gladly bow-out. Josh mentioned in a comment that those were in the early days of HouseBlogs and so a lot of current house bloggers may not be familiar with it. The poll questions were usually house related in some fashion. Very simple. You just make a selection and vote. You’re only allowed to vote once in a 7 day period.

My first thought was to just do a single poll for fun and not do a weekly poll. As Nick mentioned, it’s hard to come up with a new question week after week after week. After thinking about it over-night though, I started to think it might be fun. It may not happen every week, so we’ll see how it goes. What I’ll do is post a poll on my site on Saturday. You will have 1 week to vote, and then I’ll post the results the following Sunday for everyone to see.

If you missed yesterday’s poll question, click here to vote. You have until Friday the 18th. I now realize I made yesterday’s question in haste. My apologies to any Four-Square, Greek Revival, Prairie Style, Brownstone, or Row House fans out there for leaving your house style off the list. I’m sure there are other styles I forgot as well, but the converted missile silo is on there for all you people living in converted missile silos.

In other news….

I’ve actually set a goal and achieved it. This sort of thing rarely happens, so it’s kind of hard to believe. The goal was to paint the attic gable and the trim around the front stained glass window by Sunday and I actually did it! Wonders never cease.

The attic gable was no fun at all. For those not familiar with it, the attic gable has fish-scale shingles on it and it is waaaaaay up at the top of the house. There are three of them on the house, one on each side and a front gable. I think the technical term for them is “pent roof enclosed gable”. Each gable has a small window on it. I was able to do the side gable by hanging out the window.

I had thought that the front gable was wider than the side gables, but now I’m not so sure. I think it may taller but the width seems to be the same. The universe bestowed me with a 6’ 4” arm span so I’m able to reach about 90% of the shingles by hanging out the window. For those last few on the outside corners I use a clamping device that screws on to a broom stick handle. I bought the device at Sherwin Williams. It’s pretty simple. One end has threads that will screw on to a broom stick, or paint roller extension handle. The other end has a clamp on it. I clamp on the scraper to first scrap the shingles and a paint brush to paint them. It works surprisingly well.

I still have the tiny little gable up at the top of the house to do. I want to get that next week. It is a white-knuckle experience to climb up on the roof. I was up there once before to remove the asbestos shingles. I get up there by putting a ladder on the porch roof. Climbing the ladder isn’t a problem. Making the step from the ladder to the roof is. My palms are sweating just thinking about it.

The face of little gable has more fish-scale shingles on it. They will all need to be scraped, primed, and painted. I’m thinking of making a day of it so I only have to go up there once. I’ll put all the supplies in a backpack and pack a lunch. I can go up, scrape and prime, then eat lunch and let the primer dry. After lunch I’ll take in the sites from the high vantage point of the roof. Snap some pictures, of course. Maybe I’ll scrap a little mold off the roof shingles if I see any. After a while I’ll paint and then climb back down. Should be fun.


This is what I started with

The whole gable was spider central

Gratuitous Attic Shot

Homer Simpson on achieving goals: All my life I've had one dream: to achieve my many goals.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Petch House Poll

Yes, it's the first - and maybe the last - Petch House Poll. I think it was The Pigeon Point Project that used to do a weekly poll. I can't blame them for stopping. Coming up with a new and clever question each week would be difficult. I stumbled across a site that supplies free polls so I figured, eh, what the hell.

Have fun kids!

Voting has closed and here's the results.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Making & Filling Holes

I managed to get my lazy butt up off the couch for a few hours the past two days to get some work done on the arch trim over the big stained glass window. Yesterday I stripped it with the heat gun. I would say that was maybe an hours worth of work because, as I’ve said before, when it was painted 6 years ago they did NO PREP. The old paint was barely hanging on and they just slathered on more.

Here’s the arch, for those of you not familiar with it. This is a very old picture. The bush has been gone for 2 years, at least.

Today it was time to take care of some of the problem areas on the arch trim. Because the top half of the window forms a 180 degree arch you get grain that runs in all different directions on the face of the 2 main boards that make up the two halves of the arch. In a few places the nails had caused the board to begin to split. At first I thought it was a bad repair job and they hadn’t drilled pilot holes. Now I think it’s just 111 years of Eastern Sun and bad paint jobs taking their toll.

In two places small, triangle shaped sections of the wood had broken off. The boards split along the grain right where a nail went in. Picture a right triangle of wood with 2 to 3 inch sides. The two triangles of wood had separated from the rest of the board. One was still hanging on but the other piece was mostly gone and had to be reproduced. The rest of the wood though, was in very good shape. Really, the problem areas accounted for less than 5% of all the wood. This is good, because I really don’t want to have to replace this wood. Cutting a new 1X6 arch about 5 feet wide would not be fun.

I took the rotozip and widened any small splits to remove paint and crud, and to give me clean wood to work with. I also removed all the old putty over all of the nails and drilled down in the areas around the nails to removed any wood that had degraded because of the nail rusting. You always get black rot around nails where they begin to rust. The rot may only extend out an eight of an inch, but rot is rot. The rotozip is very effective at getting rid of it. I also used the rotozip to take the rust off the head of the nail.

I also removed the broken off triangle pieces. One I was able to reuse, but what was left of the other was a lost cause. It’s 7/8-inch redwood so the salvage redwood I have is perfect. It didn’t take to long to reproduce the missing piece.

Finally I cleaned up the areas where two boards met. Because of age they had already separated an eight of an inch or so and old caulk and paint and crude had filled in the gaps. The rotozip bit is about 3/16 of an inch, so I ran it through the gaps. This got rid of all the crud and effectively sanded the opposing end grain where the two board met. The gaps now had good, clean wood to accept the filler.

For filler I used a marine epoxy called PC-11. I really don’t know anything about other than it is expensive. A 2 oz. Jar cost around $7.00. The two main reasons I bought it were because it is a paste and not a liquid, and it explicitly says on the label that it is paintable. There must have been 7 or 8 different epoxies to chose from but this is one of the few that said on the label that it is paintable. The paste part is important because I’m filling holes, and also because of the triangle pieces I’m reattaching. I used it as mortar basically to glue them in to place. I don’t have to uses nails and worry about this happening again. Hopefully.

This epoxy is pretty amazing stuff. It says it cures wet or dry, even under water. It’s water proof and after it sets (over night) you can drill it, sand it, carve it, and paint it. It’s expensive, but for this kind of repair, it’s worth every penny.

Here’s some pictures.

Nail With Split: before, during, and after.

Triangle Repair: before, during, and after.

As it sits now. Tomorrow I sand and prime.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Petch House: The Next Generation

Jocelyn mentioned the other day that "you're in deep if you're making charts”. I think we’ve all been there. Mine was my house painting chart so I could track my progress around the house. I’m sure most of you have already printed up your copy and are following along at home.

For interior work I resort to diagrams on paper, then floor outlines with electrical tape, and maybe even full-scale mock-ups with sticks of wood screwed together. The electrical tape on the floor is my favorite. While doing the kitchen I had everything laid out with electrical tape. And then changed it and laid it out again, and again, and again. That room took so long from demolition, through design, and on to completion that some of the electrical tape stayed on the floor for a few years. The whole kitchen concept predated the blog by about 2 years.

The ultimate though, would be holograms. I don’t envision an entire Holodeck like they had on Star Trek: The Next Generation, but maybe a Holoroom Box you could rent. I picture a small black box about one foot square with halo emitters all over it. The controls would be a wireless touch screen tablet the size of a small book.

You would start out by selecting the room type (kitchen, bath, parlor), and then select pieces of furniture for the room. You would drill down through menus and get as detailed as you wanted, even to the point of choosing wall colors and window treatments.

The box on the floor would detect windows and doors along with all the walls. As you input information and made more selections objects and colors would begin to appear around the room. They would be hologram projections of the things you selected.

Once all the basics where in, then fun would begin. A 2-dimensional floor plan with all the items in the room would appear on the tablet and using a small stylus you could move counters around, change appliances, and adjust colors. The holographic images in the room would change instantly

There could even be preset styles in the system. If you want modern, just select it from the menu. Want to see a nice traditional kitchen? It’s just a tap away. Do you have a favorite piece you want to include in the room? No problem, just snap a shot of it with the digital camera on the tablet and a holoimage of it will appear in the room.

You could then walk around the room and see it in real-time. No more guess work. No more electrical tape. Once everything is set, just tap a few buttons to send scaled floor plans to the printer. Use the WiFi connection to email lists to contractors for bids. Wouldn’t that be cool? I guess it would be, except none of the contractors will return your emails. Something’s will never change.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Weed Care

No, it’s not lawn care, for me it’s weed care.

I would like to renew my objection to the lawn formerly now, in writing, and verbally later, for anyone that cares to listen to me go on and on about how much I dislike lawns. I’m sure I’m alienating more readers with these words, but, well, the fear of alienating people from my blog has never stopped me before, so why start now.

A friend at work loves his lawn. He goes on endlessly about how he cares for it. It seems that every other weekend is devoted to the care of his grass. I just don’t see the appeal. I would love to plow mine up and put in an endless garden. I would have one spot of grass large enough so that 3 or 4 people lay out on in the sun. Beyond that, I don’t need anymore grass.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I spent the afternoon mowing and trimming and sweeping. It all seems so pointless. I met one of my neighbors who lives a block away from me for the first time on Sunday. She was walking her dog and I was just finishing up painting for the day. She stopped to talk about the paint job and we introduced ourselves. She has a great garden. I’ve watched it grow and admired it. She has some iron sculpture in it, and boarders made from different materials. She even has a few salvaged porch newel posts in it. I told her how much I loved it because she didn’t have any grass. She said that was the goal.

I know, gardens need weeding and tending, but there is a payoff. You get a nice garden to look at. Birds want to come in your yard. You get fresh flowers when ever you want them. What do you get with a lawn? You get to mow it, and you get to spend a lot of money on fertilizer, lawn mowers, and other noisy mechanical things so you can care for your grass. Again, I just don’t see the appeal.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Push

My plan was to come home after work, mow the dandelions in the yard and whack the weeds growing the cracks in the sidewalk. That didn’t happen. Last night I barely kept my eyes open until 9:00 and when the alarm went off this morning it felt as if I had only slept a few hours. Things did not improve during the day.

Instead of my normal, graceful stride my feet slapped the pavement in front of me while my shoulders and back slumped over to the point that my arms hung out in front of me just a bit. With my droopy eyelids and slacked jaw it either looked like I was on drugs, or possibly had reverted back in to some proto-humanoid state. All of the coffee in the world was not going to make a difference. I had hit a wall.

This seems to happen every other month. I’m sure I’m not alone. You push yourself so hard, for so long, and eventually the body says, “No more!”. It’s funny that I don’t recall this happening too often when I was in my 20s. It must have been the steady diet of junk food and beer that kept me going.

No, instead of yard work, I got home from work and slept for two and a half hours. I then soaked in the tub for another half hour. It’s only a quarter after six now, and we easily have 2 hours of daylight left. I could be out there right now slaughtering vegetation, but then the blog would suffer. I can’t have that.

The Push I’m referring to is my plan to reach the 50% mark on the house painting by the end of August. Let’s review the map.

As you can see, when I finish Section 3 everything in green will be done. On Section 3 I only have the trim around the big stained glass window and the attic gable. Assuming I recover from my current, semi-comatose state quickly, I should be able to pound out the window trim and gable this week. If I finish all of that by Sunday that will leave me 18 days in the month of August to complete Sections 1 & 2 and I will have completed 50% of the house. Woo Hoo!

Sections 1 & 2 are small, but not without their difficulty. First, in that inside corner of Section 2 there is a large tree of some sort. I think it’s a Cypress tree. The tree is difficult to work around, as I found that out when I removed the asbestos siding. To make things more interesting the tree is chock full of spiders. I’m not sure what kind they are, but people around here call the Peanut Spiders. Their body’s look like large peanuts, and they spin webs large enough to snare a small rodent. I’m not really afraid of spiders but it does kind of freak my out when they crawl on my face, which happened a few times when I was removing the asbestos siding. This is really fun when you’re 20 feet up on a ladder.

The challenge of Section 1 is that is has the last of the bay corners with the brackets. The one I just did took me 8 days to complete start to finish. I’m not sure that this one needs to be stripped back to bare wood, though. There is a second tree in the side yard that keeps these brackets in the shade most of the time. If I can get away with a light sanding before painting that will cut 5 days off the workload for that corner. The other good thing is that there is only one window with the simple style sunbursts and none of the complex sunbursts.

It’s going to be a challenge, but I think I’m up to it. If for the next 3 weeks I subsist on coffee, frozen dinners and red wine, ignore my personal hygiene, skip a few days at work, and let the house revert back to feculent hell-hole, I think I can get it done. There is nothing like an arbitrarily set dead-line to get the old engine running at peak efficiency once again.

I love a good old-house challenge.

Monday, August 07, 2006

As Promised

I remember a month or so back I joked how I would be posting endless photos of the same spot of the exterior of the house as I painted it. There is turning out to be a lot of truth to it. I’m not sure how anyone else feels about it, but I’ll bet the editors of Old House Journal are just thrilled about it. So, this one's for you guys!

As promised here are before and after pictures of The Corner. This is day 8 of working on this one corner. I vow to finish up today. Mark my words!

Before: Ugh!

After: Oh my!

There is one more of these exact same corners yet to be painted on the south side of the house. Before I get to that, though, I will be doing the trim around the big window to the left. It doesn’t look too bad in the picture, but it needs a lot of help. A few small little pieces of the arched trim are missing, and other pieces are splitting due to a hack-job of a repair. It’s going to be a delicate operation.

After That I have the attic gable just above all this and I will finally be done with the front of the house. Well, except for the skirting, which I’m ignoring right now, so it doesn’t count.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Corner Painted!

I lost track of time but it was over 5 hours I think. I knew I had been on the ladder too long when I started to wonder what Clarey Sage tastes like. It really looks good. It’s thick to a point of almost being frothy. Maybe like a Key Lime pudding that has sat out too long. I was able to resist.

I tried to take some pictures but the sun was wrong and they did not come out at all. I came close to getting two coats on everything but not quite. I think I have another hour of work. I like posting the Before & After pictures on the blog for 2 reasons. Of course, I like to show them off, but also because it gives me a chance to scrutinize my work.

You know how it is when you paint a room or refinish a floor you just like to stand there and look at it. You may go back to that room several times during the evening just to take in the beauty. I don’t really feel comfortable doing that with the outside paint job. Especially on the front of the house. I don’t want to appear too egotistical like I am standing there for 10 or 15 minutes admiring my own work.

Passers by might think I’m talking to myself as I stare at the house. “Damn I’m good. Just look at what a wonderful job I did. I’m magnificent!” In reality it’s more like, “It looks good, but…. Look at that line. I’m going to have to do that over. I really should have sanded that more. Oh, I screwed that up. That’s going to stick out like a sore thumb”.

It’s much easier to sit in the comfort of my own home and scrutinize my work while looking at pictures on my blog. So tomorrow expect Before & After pictures. I’ll probably be logging on more than everyone else combined.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Plans! Huh Good God y'all

What are they good for? Absolutely nothing.

Yes, we could all say that again. Am I right? Plans always seem to go asunder, whether they be made by mice or men. In my case, it’s the house painting plan. I had it all figured out. I even had a little map made where I would track my weekly progress as I moved around the house. It was all so neat and simple. Of course, it meant nothing.

Five weeks ago I mapped out my future house painting plans with a nifty map. Each section was supposed to take one to two weeks. As it is, I’ve completed exactly zero sections since making The Map. I would say that I am maybe a week away from completing a section off The Map. Now, granted, this section I’m working on is by far the most challenging and time consuming. It has 5 windows, three brackets, and a total of 9 sunbursts. Still, I should have anticipated that. I just wasn’t thinking, I guess. I think that’s kind of the problem with plans in general. It’s hard to see all the variables.

If the truth be told, the reason I planned so little time for each section was because I figured the old paint would just roll over and play dead as I approached. I assumed the bare wood would rejoice at being liberated from the old paint and would quickly paint itself. It was all supposed to be so much easier than this. The mission would be accomplished in no time at all. I mean, I had a plan! Why didn’t the plan work? Is it because I’m stupid? I’ll let history decide.

So now everybody together…..

War! Huh Good God y'all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Say it again

War! Whoa, Lord ...
What is it good for
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me?

War! It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker
War! Friend only to the undertaker
War! It's an enemy to all mankind
The thought of war blows my mind

War has caused unrest in the younger generation
Induction then destruction-
Who wants to die?

Ohhh? War Good God y'all
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Say it, Say it, Say it

War! Uh-huh Yeah - Huh!
What is it good for?
Absolutely nothing
Listen to me?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Nope, Not Today

I didn’t run out of sunlight, but I did run out of steam. I was hoping to get the corner trim primed today so I could start painting tomorrow, but it just wasn’t in me. I did get almost everything stripped and sanded that needed to be. The only thing left is the water table.

Here is what it looked like on Monday

And here it is today

The green trim above the window, and the sunburst is all new wood, so I just sanded it down. The paint on the other wood above that was solid and in good shape, so that just got a sanding also. The bracket out of view, on the other side, looks just like the one you can see.

So tomorrow I will strip the water table along the front of the house and then prime everything. I should be able to get everything painted on Sunday. At least I hope so, because Monday is going to be too busy for house work.