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Oh, the rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, The rains came down and the floods came up, And the house on the Rock stood firm. Children’s Bible Song: “The Wise Man and The Foolish Man Ann Omley, 1948

I wonder if the Cicadas were passengers on the Ark.  I marvel that they may have driven Noah a little batty with their insistent love songs. Just a thought.  For a while they definitely were a curiosity! I quickly began to lose interests after a month’s worth of their deafening, spaceship-invasion-like hum and ever present crunchiness.  I casually noticed their arrival about the time we purchased The Minnow (soon to be renamed) and moved her home.  There was one here and another there, some already leaving behind their temporary dry hull of a body — something that is not uncommon in a southern summer.  But then there were more.  And then more.

If plagues of pestilence was not enough, then came the rains.  It began raining on the Sunday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend.  Not just a shower, but torrential down-pours.  People began to talk about flooding and comparing it to the Memorial Day flood of 1991.  Some suggested we might want to consider loading the boat two by two.  But The Minnow was taking on more water than what appeared to be falling from the sky!

Since we had removed the rims from the windows on the interior of the boat during demolition and removal of the rotten paneling, the windows were no longer flush against the exterior of the boat and the rain poured in.  At the beginning we threw down some towels, sat up buckets and Handi-man rigged a drainage system.  The next morning it was still raining with no relief in sight.  We literally emptied buckets only to have them quickly refill.  The Minnow was sinking fast!

At that point, we decided to invest in a tarp.

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We were quite the site — reminded me of movies you see where people are frantically trying to prepare for a impending hurricane.  Handi-man and I out in rain jackets with hoods that would not stay put, rain pouring down the sleeves of raised arms attempting to pull a hugh tarp over the top of the boat.  We ultimately accomplished the chore, wetter than Noah ever thought to be.

For the next several weeks we would roll up the tarp, complete a task, roll the tarp back down and batten down the hatches for the next shower.  During this time we installed quarter-inch plywood (luan) and trim.  Handi-man had, prior to the rains, installed plywood decking over the separating-at-the-seams fiberglass floor.

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After installing solid sheets of the quarter-inch plywood panels directly over the window openings, Handi-man then cut the openings from the outside.

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DSCN3514 It was readily apparent that years of leaks had caused damage to the ply between the fiberglass.

DSCN3553 In an effort to prevent additional leaks around the windows and continued damage to the fiberglass ply, caulk was applied liberally into and around the window openings.

DSCN3555 Most recently the new paneling received a coat of primer and two coats of white paint.  She’s beginning to sparkle!

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Coming Up Next: A She Shed by The Sea Shore

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The day you hear someone call me captain is the day I buy a boat. -Guy Lafleur

Yep. We are decidedly crazy.

We spent the four years previous restoring a one hundred year old house; the culmination of which seemed to be the hosting of our eldest daughter’s wedding. Not that that was the last event held there. It just seemed to be the perfect climax after all those years of working to put things to right in the old house. And not that it is yet all right. There remain (will always be) windows needing touch ups and a front porch that needs to be replaced. But for all practical purposes, it is completed. It is now in the maintenance stage – something it desperately lacked prior to our guardianship.

Apparently, since Handi-man and I now have nothing else to do, we bought a boat. Yeah, I know. It sounds like we have completed our labors, rewarded ourselves, and are now ready to set sail …sail off into the sunset …dip our toes in the water. … no! Wait! Not any boat, mind you. A 1970 houseboat. A houseboat that needs a lot of work. A houseboat that we never intend to put in the water – pretty certain she would not even stay afloat.

USS Minnow
Let me explain how our swashbuckling, tall tale began.

Sometime in the early part of this year, while making upgrades to our home (paint, which leads to new decor), I wrestled with the idea and finally decided to rent a booth at an antique mall. Through our experiences in restoring The Farmhouse, we found a knack for salvaging and repurposing – almost everything in the old house. And, I needed an outlet for all the pictures and decor that I was or would be changing out in our home, as well as all the duplicate and extra pieces I had accumulated and stashed away in the restoration of The Farmhouse. If you’ve ever had a booth at an antique mall, you know that there is a lot of work (and “stuff”) involved. I began to accumulate my items in, what I thought was, a central location in order to sort and price my inventory – my dining room. Needless to say Handi-man was not overly fond of the piles all over the table and stacked in every corner, overflowing into chairs in the study. Neither was he fond of my “stuff” taking up precious room in his work shop.

I declared that I must have a place to work and store my pieces as they were gathered for transformation into the booth. My initial thought was a cute little camper. Old camper restoration seems to be the thing these day and boy, are they cute! Apparently the law of “supply and demand” has driven the cost of old campers as my initial search revealed some pretty high prices – prices for which you could almost buy a new camper! And then Handi-man had an idea! Our neighbor (and Page cousin) had an old houseboat parked in his yard for over a year. Handi-man reasoned that it would have much more space than a camper and was considerably cheaper than the campers we were seeing.

Our initial inspection was what you might imagine for an old house boat – dank and smelly! There was green (I think it was green at one time) carpet on the floor, as well as the ceiling. Yes! The ceiling! It was painfully obvious that she was leaking from the top down. But, there was potential. After some negotiations we purchased the 1970 Fish-n-Ski, sans the outboard motor, and pulled her home. Thus began our new adventure.

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First we gutted her, salvaging all her parts – sinks, faucets, “head”, etc., saving the “wheel” for decor. The only thing we left was one port wall where one of two closets were, and the dinette. Good bye green carpet! (Shiver-me-timbers! What were they thinking!)

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She was pressure washed to remove all the years of nasty,

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and received a coat of cool-sealed on top in hopes to stop leaks.

The surface of the hull of the boat was badly crackled, especially the white (or what once was white). Two coats of a nice, thick exterior paint was liberally applied.  The nondescript blue was not bad, just very faded and hazy. I washed the blue areas with TSP to remove any existing wax. I painted the white areas – being the largest areas, then taped off the areas for the existing blue and added back a stripe that had at one time run the entire length of the boat. She came out gleaming!

I chose an ocean turquoise – Sherwin Williams “Surfer” and as bright a white as you could get – “Super White” in a best exterior brand house paint. House paint you say? Well, she is a houseboat! And she would not be seeing water, except for that which falls from the sky.

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The only foreseeable issue is that she is parked under shade trees (for Southern coolness sake!) which emit sap and other earthy dribble that will stain the boat. Hopefully with the semi-gloss paint which is touted to be stain resistant and washable, she will hold up. She, like a lot of other out door structures, may have to be washed often and touch up with paint periodically.

Before and After:

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Up Next:  Batten Down The Hatches!

A man’s house is his castle. ~James Otis

Handi-man and I figuratively “mopped” ourselves out the back door of The Farmhouse this past weekend, having completed the final room, The Center Hall.  Granted, there are touch ups to be made and a mantle to build and one more set of windows to complete; but officially, every room is now habitable.

This is the room in November of 2010, shortly after our initial invasion:

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Even with the door open on a brilliant fall day, the room was a dungeon.

Here is the same room today, same angle:

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What an amazing difference!  No filters or editing have been applied to either of the above photos in order to render a true depiction of the change.

Here are a few more photos of the transformation:

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DayBed
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With exception of the wrought-iron daybed which was purchased for $50.00, the ticking mattress purchased from Pottery Barn (the one splurge for this room), and the throw pillows purchased here and there over the past two-and-a-half years, the remaining furnishings were gifted or are on loan to The Farmhouse; including these salvaged choir chairs – remnants from a church on the Mississippi Gulf Coast destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

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Now to add a gallery photo wall, some time-worn treasures, and a host of family and make this house a home.

“In the beginning there was nothing.
God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light.

There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.”
― Ellen DeGeneres

Pictorial progress:

Prepped

Prepped

Primed

Primed

Prepped

Prepped

Primed

Primed

We lack priming the ceiling, and then paint; but, isn’t it amazing how a lighter color can totally open up a room!

Motivation [n.] the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action.
motivation >noun  1 the reason or reasons behind one’s actions or behavior.  2 enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm

The Farmhouse is gearing up to host its next family gathering.  As I have previously penned, the Pages have gathered for years on the First Sunday in May to remember those who have passed on, and in particular those who are interned at Rutledge Salem Cemetery.  In the years before Grandmother’s passing, the Pages always gathered at The Farmhouse (then, termed “Grandmother’s”) on this Memorial / Homecoming Sunday.  It has been my dream, since we first entered the old house in October of 2010, that we once again gather there.

So it is to be this year, some two and a half years after the dream was birthed.  The only room left untouched, where no repairs have been made, is what I now call, the Center Hall.  It is in the center of the house, and all rooms but a couple can be accessed through it. During our restoration / preservation efforts over the last two plus years, we have stored our tools and supplies and some furniture in this room.  We have worked all around this room, working our way out the back door.

This room was one of the ugliest of all the rooms when we entered the house in the Fall of 2010.  It had been painted a dark red, followed by coat of dark, hunter green. Neither color reached the top of the 10-foot ceiling.  With its one window off the side porch, it was (is) dark and, well – just ugly!

Center Hall B4

Two weekends ago, Handi-man and I cleared the room of all stored furniture, tools and supplies, making it accessible to cleaning and prepping for it’s much needed rehabilitation.

This past weekend, however, as Handi-man worked at this and that, I could not garner the enthusiasm to turn my hand at much of anything.  I am so eager to move forward with the completion of this final room, yet I wasted the day. The motivation, the need to make use of the time allotted was present, but my enthusiasm was very much lacking.

Hopefully this upcoming weekend will cooperate with sun and warmth, and my enthusiasm will be renewed.  Although we will not complete the Center Hall in time for the Page Homecoming, my goal is to at least clean and prep the walls and ceiling for a coat or two (maybe more) of Primer.  Anything to dispel the gloom, and offer a glimpse of what the room will be.

Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.
Frank Lloyd Wright

Early in the restoration process of The Farmhouse, we made the economic decision to repair the existing wood windows instead of buying / installing new, replacement windows.  For the most part the windows were sound, just in very, very bad repair.  They looked far worse than they were.

In researching old wood window restoration, I discovered a blog (Stucco House) by a lady who was restoring her 1924 bungalow, including its wood windows, in Minnesota.  She offered great picture tutorials and recommended reading Working Windows by Terry Meany.  I secured a (3rd Edition) copy and began to make myself familiar with the parts of wood windows and the process of their restoration.  Somewhere in my research or reading, I ran across the phrase, “we’re not building the Sistine Chapel” — meaning that if it’s good enough, that’s enough.  On page 115 of Mr. Meany’s book he states, “‘Well enough’ isn’t exactly a running theme in this book, but it is a guideline.”

We’ve used the quote “we’re not building the Sistine Chapel” many times in the restoration of The Farmhouse.  Good enough is often more than enough, as the old house has settled and shrunk and pooched and protruded in various places.  She just ain’t square no where.  But she does have lovely bones and great character.

No, we’re not building the Sistine Chapel, but today I swear I heard the Hallelujah Chorus as Handi-man and I completed the four windows (except for a touch up here or there) in the den.

Handi-man also applied a coat of stain on The Bunkhouse floor, thereby checking another item off the punch list.  The Bunkhouse is now ready for a coat of poly, baseboards and then furniture and furnishings.

 

I worked Monday of last week and was then off for the remainder.  Throughout the week, Handi-man and I worked at the farmhouse finishing up some jobs and prepping for others.

On the Saturday before my hiatus from my paying job, Handi-man and I cut 6″x8′ boards from plywood for the kitchen floor (see previous post utilizing this method), after which I put a second coat of flat white on the streaky den ceiling while he sanded the 24 boards.  The proverb learned from that day is, “many trips up and down a ladder to paint a 10-foot ceiling makes old lady’s knees ache and swell”.  They plagued me for the remainder of the week and are not the same a week latter!

On Monday I caulked while Handi-man installed the wood planks as flooring in The Galley.

On Tuesday I painted the trim that I’d caulked the day before as Handi-man stained the wood plank flooring. The Galley now lacks a poly-sealer and then baseboards and will be deemed complete.

And all the while it rained.

We later that day picked peas and beans in the rain and then began the process on Wednesday and Thursday of preserving them for the winter’s fare.

This past weekend we cleared the dining room (The Eddie) of all tools, supplies and items stored there as it will be the focus of our upcoming efforts as we work our way out the side door.

One of the home’s treasures is this old chippy, embellished door with old wavy glass which is slated to become the new front door, replacing the 1970’s model that currently greets those that enter there.  Matching french doors will be installed in this opening and it’s twin in the adjoining Center Hall.

Footnote: I am more than eager to get a coat of primer on those dark periwinkle blue walls and ceiling! Yep. Even the ceiling is currently coated in this depressing color.

And today. Well, today was Monday and I returned to the real world.

I’m a desk sitter. It has been my vocation my entire adult life. And while mental fatigue can be as draining as physical exertion, there’s a lot to be said for sore muscles after a day of physical labor – particularly labor that, at the end of the day, demonstrates the efforts of hard work.

My new desk-sitting job earned me a much needed day off on Good Friday. Instead of working at the farmhouse, Cassie (eldest) and I went treasure hunting – or junkin’ as we term the experience. We visited our favorite local spots, picking up a few pieces that caught our eye. We finished the day with a pedicure and ice cream. A girl’s day out.

Handi-man also had an impromptu junkin’ experience when he happened upon and purchased this homemade mantle for $10.00! One down and one to go.

On Saturday, Handi-man and I donned our work wear and headed to the farmhouse. I added additional caulk to the beadboard in the kitchen and filled in the screw-holes in the flooring in the privy. During the week, Handi-man had installed the toilet, sink and hot water heater, and after a year and five months, we have a working bathroom (albeit no door yet).  The before and after photos show the much improved facilities.


We were able to get the one sheet of drywall up in the kitchen which is now ready for mudding,  sanding and painting, and picked up all the scrap material lying around and threw it on the burn pile.

Late in the day we had a large bonfire.


I arose this Easter morning with welcomed sore muscles that bring to remembrance the accomplishments of yesterday.

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came –
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.
~George Cooper, “October’s Party”

Fall has not yet made its triumphal showing in these parts, but there are touches and hints of her color here and there.  One need only look down through the pasture and over the pond to see a reflection of yellows, golds and a few reds in announcement of her imminent coming.

The somewhat new school holiday, Fall Break (or maybe I’m getting to old to remember such from my school days), was an opportunity for my sister and co-owner of the farmhouse property to visit for the weekend and lend her assistance to the restoration project.  It is amazing what an additional set of hands can accomplish in a span of a few days.

Tasks accomplished over a two and one-half day work weekend: 1) privy ceiling completed with paper trimmed and quarter-round painted and installed; 2) bunkhouse (bedroom) prepped with tape, mud and spackling in anticipation of primer and paint; 3) two windows in bunkhouse, and panes to same, prepped in anticipation of restoration; and 4) aluminum cool-seal applied to three portions of the old, rusty tin roof which has not seen a fresh coat of paint for thirty-plus years!

For such a long time I despaired that we were even making a dent in the restoration of the old house. But of recent, it seems that every infinitely small improvement brings new life back to the old structure.

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This past Saturday’s work on the farmhouse earned me a new notch on my tool belt. I did not work on any window.  I’d officially completed the kitchen windows on Friday by trimming off excess paint from the panes of the last two windows in that room, and touching up here and there.  I had not yet plunged into working on windows in the bedroom – two of which are going to require extensive restorative work. So we, handi-man Jack and I, tackled (and that is a true expression of the experience) putting up the ceiling in the privy.

The bathroom in the old house has been a complete rebuild.  We, Jack along with different family members at different times, have worked on and off on this area of our restoration project since November of 2010, when we first started demolition.  Other than just looking seriously nasty, there were serious rot issues behind all that ugly.  The bath has required a new roof (the reason for all the rot) and a new floor.  Two closets (seriously?! Two closets in one tiny bathroom?!) and all the fixtures were removed.  Ceiling and floor joists, much of the sub-floor and most of the exterior wall were replaced.  We have put up new sheetrock and beadboard. New plumbing and fixtures have been purchased and are soon to be installed.

But, we simply did not know what to do with the ceiling.

The bath was an add-on to the house in the early 1960’s, and was a big improvement over the outhouse that had serviced the old house until then.  The back porch became the new privy and, as a result, nothing was square.  The room was (is) wider at the front end and narrower at the back.  Like the rest of the rest of the house, everything in the bath was sloping, including the ceiling.  Unlike the 10 foot ceilings in the remainder of the house, the height of the ceiling in the bath is 7 foot, at best.  The original ceiling was very thin plywood with lathing between each sheet to cover the seams.  It had, over time begun to sag, was stained and simply looked hideous.

Before - Some kind of Nasty!

The entire house, while being a “restoration”  project, will, when completed, contain many quirky unique expressions of our whimsical style.  Our ambition is to incorporate elements that, were we brave enough to do so, we might use in our “live-in” house.  We want to (and will) utilize certain elements of surprise in our projects, including the bath.  So it was with the different ideas we dreamed up for the new ceiling in the privy.

Plan A was to install corrugated, galvanized tin (such as you might see on a roof or barn) on the ceiling. I liked that idea, but tin is expensive and we are trying to be as economical as possible.  Another, equally expensive idea, was the installation of new or salvaged tin ceiling tiles.  Which led to Plan B.  Plan B was inspired by some pictures on Pinterest where DIYer’s installed embossed, paintable wallpaper, which resembles ceiling tile, on the ceiling. Several reviews on http://www.lowes.com indicate good luck and many compliments with this project.  Plan C was also an inspiration from Pinterest where beadboard was used on the ceiling.  I liked Plan C because it was inexpensive and the material was lightweight, making for easy installation in a small, 7×12 space.  After much discussion, we decided to go with Plan C.

The project required only three 4×8 sheets of beadboard.  We cut the first board to size and without too much grunting and groaning, put up the first piece.  The problem with beadboard is that it is not a lot unlike the very thin plywood that had previously been installed and, when applied to a slopping, uneven ceiling, looked very wavy.  We tried a few tricks to attempt a smooth, even look, but to no avail.  So, down came the beadboard.  After a search of the house for materials and finding two full sheets of ½” sheetrock, we decided to go back to Plan B.

Ceiling

My new experience with sheetrock is that it is very rigid and is very heavy when being held overhead. We could have used another set of hands, but between the two of us, with me on a step-stool using my head and hands to hold up my end of the sheetrock, while Jack held up his end with one hand and anchored it with screws with the other, we finally got the two large pieces up.  And, since all the sheetrock would eventually be covered with wallpaper, we decided to use almost every scrap of sheetrock lying around the house so that we would not have to go buy another sheet.  It looks pretty comical (definitely not professional), but after a little tape and a little mud, and a coat of primer, covered with thick wallpaper and a little trim, no one will know how many little pieces we screwed into that last 4×7 area, except for the pictures you’ll find here.

handi-man surveying our handi-work

I’ll reveal the finished product at some point in the, hopefully, near future.  But for now, there is a ceiling, once again, in the privy.

See more of my inspirations and ideas on Pinterest.

Previously…

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About Me:


At present, I am a wife, a mother, a mother-in-law, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a friend, a legal assistant, a minister, a weekend construction contractor / foreman (said with some jest), a weekend construction laborer (said with all truth), a gardener, a dreamer, a planner, an organizer, an administrator, and sometimes a general pain in the butt. I enjoy spending time with my family, reading (when I have the time), and restoring old farmhouse windows.