Thursday, May 31, 2007

Making Messes

Guh. The first day of demo on a home renovation project is always a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there's the satisfaction of a no-going-back beginning: "Well, I've started stripping wallpaper away, there's no going back now!" On the other hand, the demo work is messy and hard, accompanied by endless clean-ups and the typical unforseen surprise: "Oh! Well...who would have guessed that behind this wallpaper was a huge section of unsalvagable plaster?" That kind of thing.

So, I've begun work this week on our stairway/upstairs hall. My expectation was that this project, while daunting, wouldn't be any more detail-oriented than any of the other rooms in the house, and perhaps significantly LESS work thank other rooms (such as the dining room, which necessitated a complete removal of unsalvagable plaster ceiling and the hanging - and mudding - of drywall. Thanks to all who helped: you know who you are!). And, I guess it will be. I mean, I'm going to rebuild our stairway, and THAT will take some finesse: the "treads" aren't really, and I returned today from a $500-dollar trip to Lowe's to buy their oak replacements. Sure, there are the room idiosyncracies; for instance, in the stairway I have an 8'-long board that extends from the landing to a ladder on the steps. I use this quasi-gangplank to allow workable access to the stairway ceiling. But overall, this "room" shouldn't be any more difficult than doing Roslyn's room LAST summer. (Back when we thought - just perhaps! - we were simply redoing the room to function as a studio for all our instruments, music, etc. etc. ad nauseum.)

But, from a very specific standpoint, Roz's room was one of the EASIEST, even though I had lots of corners to work around, and a whole bookshelf to build. Here's the thing: when you redo a single room, it's REALLY easy to work right up until the end of the day, then drop your tools & dust mask and walk out, closing the door behind you. The stairway, like the dining room before it, is centrally located and necessitates a daily (at the very least!) clean-up, which if you're not careful you'll wind up doing when you're exhausted and crabby.

Miss Tessmacher, who shows far more insight and intelligence than I myself could ever hope to muster, has escaped to her parents for a few days while I do the worst of the (possibly) lead paint-covered wallpaper removal. That leaves me baching it for a few days...and, that's a great term, ain't it? I picked up the verbed version of "bachelor" from L.I. Wilder, and her descriptions of Almanzo and brother Royal "baching it" on the prarie. Anyway, since I have all the rooms upstairs sealed off with plastic, I decided to grab my pillow and bite-guard from the bedroom and simply crash on the futon for the time being. The cat LOVES this - it's like camping out, to her. That's fine; I sleep alright there, especially as we're in the midst of a mostly-breezeless heat funk.

The wallpaper is down now, and the rough sanding is done to smooth out some "imperfections" (in the most judicious sense of the word!) in the plaster. I don't have a lot of bad areas to patch, and the little ceiling in the lower part of our stairway, which I feared would have to be torn out completely and replaced with beadboard or something, is actually fairly solidly attached, with only the leading edge crumbling away; I can fix THAT in my SLEEP! The beadboard wall that is shared with our closet is a disappointing mess; the previous owners had attempted to plaster OVER the wall, filling in lots of the bead grooves and then painting the entire thing. I scraped a lot of this away today, but it's still going to be a chore for my mother to Zip Strip away, and bless her for volunteering to help! I remember - and this seems like yesterday! - when she was scrambling to lay ceramic tile in her bathroom, and she said "Boy, I feel really guilty, I had my 60-year old mother on her knees laying tile at 10:00pm!" Now that she HERSELF is 60, I can't believe how YOUNG she still is! Maybe it really is like my in-laws say, that "60 is the new 50." Or, maybe since I'm pushing 40, my perception of what "old" is has changed!

Anyway, thank goodness tomorrow is our anniversary! I need the day off; I've been workin' like a dog here! (How exactly does a dog work? I had a dog once, and he pretty much laid around unless he thought he could steal one of my mom's bras from the laundry and run around the back yard with it.) Then we have our shower on Sunday, and a tour of the maternity ward Monday eve. After that, it's back to work; next up is moving the existing light, adding a new light over the stairs, and then getting to work with my favorite Dap Patching Plaster and a putty knife. Meantime, enjoy the pictures of the work in progress.

A newly revised version of hell: looking out over the stairway sans wallpaper.

Mom, working on fixing somebody ELSE'S "fix."
First one to refer to my mother as a "stripper"
wins a free push down the stairs.

Me, peeling off huge hunks of wallpaper.
First one to refer to ME as a "huge hunk"
wins a free lap dance. Yowza!

Unpleasant renovation surprise #4956739:
large "patch" of ancient drywall that I'll
now have to try to cover with patching plaster.

Itty-bitty flakes of paint & wallpaper.
This doesn't EVEN compare to what was
stuck to the sweat on my bare arms
in the 90˚ heat of the closed-in space.


Blogger Tess said...

Huge hunks of wallpaper and you're burning in the 90 degree heat- well aren't you just a hunka-hunka-burnin' love.

(I'm very sorry the blog world had to endure that. But I just couldn't help myself.)

4:07 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

It's a lucky thing we in your blog world love you both so much, you corndogs.

Scott, I am just in awe. We did a lot of work on this house when we bought it, but at no point did we try to get behind a wall. We thought we were pretty badass for putting in those self-adhesive linoleum "tiles." That ain't nuthin' compared to what you're doing right now. When you're done, would you like to come to Lawrence and fix our running toilet?

I was just remembering last night, for no discernable reason, what a blast we all had at your wedding.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Fun Guv said...

Wow, I'm in awe....can you teach Mike to be handy? Nevermind, you got a first hand look at his handman skills...

Happy Anniversary (a day early) I heard them talking on the radio this morning about the SE MI Regional Chamber Meeting (or whatever the hell it is) going on up there right now and it reminded me that your anniversary was upon us. How can I forget seeing Kwame & his thugs on the island all weekend?

6:03 PM  
Blogger Fun Guv said...

Handyman...I meant HandYman, not handman (blush)

6:04 PM  
Blogger L*I*S*A said...

Yep, I also heard the SE MI Regional Chamber ad on NPR the other morning and it made me realize that your anniversary was upon us. WOW..time flies, doesn't it?

Happy anniversary to you both.

Also, have a wonderful shower. Would have loved to been there, but duty calls in the form of work. Doh!

8:17 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

Huge Hunk...when can I schedule the lap dance? You can perform it on Uwe if you don't mind... :)

1:09 PM  

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