01 May 2012

Knee Braces

The shingles are complete on the front of the second floor, and we've decked it out with a little something extra: craftsman style knee braces.

Oliver looking out, ready for the great escape

There has been a good bit of progress around here, but not much worthy of pictures. Some dirt has been moved around, the back yard is sporting a hot pink spray paint outline of where the new retaining walls and pavers will go. New framing for the back storage cubbies. And most importantly, a new structural support beam the entire width of the house to replace the one that was rotten from the weather and apparently some heavy termite snacking. All very important things, but not terribly photogenic.

The guys were hard at work on the framing for the new porch when I left this morning. They poured the concrete for the posts yesterday, and I think I'll have something to show you tomorrow!

17 April 2012

Progress and Pavers

I think I'll have a good picture of what the whole house will look like soon. The guys are rocking right along with the soffit and they've almost finished the new shingles on the front. Tomorrow should be the siding on the front of the first floor. I can't wait!
new shingles almost done on the front!

project supervisor kept safely inside
After the front is finished, they are going to skip around to the back. Bill is going to get the footers poured for my new back porch. Yes, that's porch, not deck. The aim is to make it look as if it was always part of the house and not something that was tacked on recently.

Anyway, that's up next so that our hardscaping can get started. I'm really looking forward to my new retaining wall that will corral the mess on the factory side of the house. For that project we are planning to use Techo-Bloc. This is my current favourite color combination.

techo bloc, mini creta, victorien and mista in champlaign grey and onyx black

Everybody else seems to think I should go with brown, but I see greys. With the silver roof and all the raw concrete that was used in 1930, it is honest and original. I was even leaning toward re-using these super simple concrete pavers we dug up from the cabin. But everyone is afraid they will break. So far they haven't, I have loads more, and you can still buy them new, so I actually don't see the problem. But I can't get anyone else on board, so, new techo bloc it is!

All browns just make me think of the bland brown neighborhoods that have cropped up the last couple of years. Blech! Again, I don't want something dated 2012.

So for today, I'm leaning toward the mix of medium greys with a touch of brown, and an accent of charcoal grey. The main field colors would be the wall and the floor. For the walls, they do come in the charcoal grey as well, so I'm thinking maybe a 10% mix of dark grey with the 90% medium tones. The edging around the floors and the stairs in charcoal grey will be a snazzy contrast, and help define edges to prevent falls and mis-steps. And of course then we need to make the caps dark to tie it all together.

Please, I welcome comments or suggestions regarding my color choices. I have to stop changing my mind very soon so they can be ordered!

12 April 2012

Expect the Unexpected

digging up the yard in preparation for retaining walls and new porch

gee, I hope it doesn't rain!

a surprise find, and no, it isn't buried treasure

what's under the hatch???

down the hole: rocks, water, and... is that Oliver hair?

now we just wait to see what we can do about it...

05 April 2012

1940 Census Update from ancestry.com

Wowza! Ancestry anticipates having every image of every single 1940 census sheet scanned and online by tomorrow! Isn't technology amazing?

They've already started the indexing process, and as soon as all the pages are scanned, they'll have all hands on deck for indexing.
I am so excited. I easily located my grandparents just by skimming through the 30 pages of our small town. But I have other ancestors I've been waiting to track down, and they lived in big cities or I don't know where, so I'll be needing the handy name search. I can hardly wait!

03 April 2012

And So It Begins...

It is official. Demolition has begun. Bill and Billy were at the house bright and early this morning. They made short business of the front dormer's siding. Here's what the house looked like when I left for work. Blue skies!

naked dormer


and a happy project supervisor!

02 April 2012

Newest Addition

curiously listening to Roomba's beeps

We welcomed the newest addition to our household this weekend. Say hello to Roomba 770. We love her already. Not only does she clean, but she provides golden retriever entertainment!

not so sure about this thing... gonna bark!

Roomba chasing Oliver

attack stance!

31 March 2012

1940 Census

So, if any of you family tree climbers out there have been paying attention, we are just days away from the release of the long-awaited 1940 census.

For my generation, this means I'll get to see a little more about my grandparents and maybe their parents. I'm lucky because I've had the opportunity to know all of my grandparents in my lifetime. Some better than others, but still. But it's funny, you know, because I seem to get the same stories out of my grandparents every time I ask, tell me about your childhood, your family when you were young.

For me, going back through the 1930 and 1920 census have given me little tidbits to take back to my grandparents. Prompts, if you will. I can ask them about this certain thing I found, do they remember that. It seems to open the floodgates. Then I get new stories. This is one of the things I love most about genealogy.

So for myself, I know right where to go to find my grandparents when the 1940 census pages for Pennsylvania are made available on ancestry.com. Hopefully sooner, rather than later!

The deal is, that Ancestry.com will be seeing these pages they day they are released - April 2nd - for the first time. So, don't expect to be able to log onto Ancestry on Monday and snap! find your ancestors. It just isn't possible. Ancestry is going to have to scan all the pages. They will make them available as they are finished. But we still won't have searching capabilities. But it isn't the end of the world, we'll just have to treat it like the microfilm versions of previous census, before the days of Ancestry.com. We'll have to use Enumeration District maps.

This will make things pretty easy for people with small town families, and help narrow things down for families from large cities.

So, while things will be very busy at work, with the end of semester, and busy at home with all the construction, I'm still planning to keep up on the latest with Ancestry's 1940 census offerings.

Stay tuned, and feel free to ask me questions! I love to help fellow genealogists!

30 March 2012

Siding Mock-Up

You may recall that I mentioned before that we are going to be getting new siding this spring. Yes, it is finally happening! My mom's cousin Bill is our wonderful carpenter and he says siding is his favourite job. We'll see if he still feels that way after he is done with the bungalow!

Anyway, right now we are just waiting for the siding to come in. Bill ordered it and we expect it in about another two weeks. I think Bill is planning to start deconstruction next week, weather permitting of course. We will be recycling the heavy-gauge aluminum siding, not only because it is the right thing to do, but we may get a bit of money back. That would be a nice bonus.

We will be getting brand new James Hardie siding. I know it is more expensive than vinyl, but I'm against adding anything plastic to my house if I can help it. I also think it will pay for itself in the long run. See yesterday's post regarding the hail damage!

The bottom half of the bungalow will be getting lap siding in Mountain Sage. I honestly don't know what we settled on. Beaded, not beaded, smooth or wood grain. Doesn't really matter. I like them all. That may surprise you that I don't haven't agonized over every detail. It surprises me. Maybe I'm growing, letting go of control. Maybe I trust that it'll turn out beautifully no matter what. Maybe I'm just too tired. Probably a bit of all those!

The top half will get the straight edge shingles in Heathered Moss. Normally I like a randomized look, but after living with my first mock up for a while, I decided I would prefer the straight edge over the staggered shingles for the bungalow.
All trim that will be replaced, or newly created, will be in Artic White. There will be a "belly band" around the middle of the bungalow, dividing the shingles from the lap siding.

We are also going to add knee braces. Yup. I don't really know if my house originally had them or not, but I like the way they look. Some houses in my area have them, some don't. We already have some supporting the little roof overhang over the side basement door, and supporting the kitchen window. Just for my piece of mind, Bill is going to install real, structural knee braces under the dining room window overhang. It does sort of dip down there, and while I suspect that happened a long time ago and the house is now stable, I'd still feel better with some support there. Plus they will look cool.

28 March 2012

Last Year's Hail Damage

Last spring we had a wicked, nasty storm. Lewis was at home, but I stayed put at work because we weren't sure it was really safe to travel. Better to stay in safe shelter than risk getting caught in a bad storm in the little VW, blowing all over the highway.

Anyway, when Lewis first called to tell me how bad it was at home, I couldn't really understand him. I thought he was going through the automatic car wash!

When things subsided a bit he went outside with the camera.
big hail
hail-littered lawn
poor posies
garden recovered, but zucchini leaves took a beating

When the skies cleared, Lewis realized that we were very lucky. No broken windows, only some broken tree branches, no downed trees. But the siding, oh the siding...
that arc to the left of Oliver isn't dirt

those streaks aren't dirt, either


The hail actually struck the house so hard that the paint has been scraped away, right down to the bare metal. When you run your hands over the siding, you can feel all the pits and dents caused by the hail.
pits, dents and no paint
So, a project we though we were going to put off for several more years got bumped to the top of the list. And, you know, it isn't such a bad thing. While we have the siding off, we can remove all the old, unknown layers and we will be insulating from the outside in. While we have all the walls open, we are getting air conditioning (yay!), and replacing a few damaged windows. Also we are going to be getting the roof scraped and re-painted and we are getting new gutters. Gee, is that all... it seems like there is something else...

All you old house owners out there know what it is like. One task leads to another and another. This spring's project is turning out to be a big tangled mess of things that overlap. We're in for a fun ride!

27 March 2012

Bathroom Knobs - Vote Now!

3 drawers on the left, 2 doors and a bottom drawer on the right
Remember our downstairs bathroom? You know, the one where Oliver hangs out in the cool shower during the hot summer?

Well, it has been finished for, oh, about five years now, and I've decided it is about time we get some knobs on those cabinets!

I've been eyeing the knobs from Van Dyke's for some time, and I've narrowed it down to an old favourite and something new that might fit the bill. Trouble is, I can't decide... what do you all think?

topaz glass knob, $9.99 each

satin nickle knob, $3.79 each

23 March 2012

On a Happier Note

a sun-dappled Oli-dog
lilac sprouting on both sides this year!

daffodils and tulips and hyacinth, oh my!
forsythia and purple leaf plum in full bloom - at the same time!

21 March 2012

Bleak Back Yard

Well, up until now I wasn't completely unhappy to see so many trees come down. Most of the pines were planted way too close together and were all unhealthy because they were too crowded. We thinned those out. They took down the junky poplar tree. No big loss there.

Then they "trimmed" my apple trees. My antique Grimes Golden apple trees. They are now about 1/4 the height they were. Yes, I know they definitely needed some maintenance. But I'm not running an orchard, either. I was less concerned with the productivity of the crop than with the overall health of the trees. I believe they are nearly as old as the house.

I was going to have my friend's grandfather come in and take a look at them. He is a forrester with much passion and knowledge of apple trees. Well, all trees. But he was very excited to hear that I had two Grimes Golden trees. Before they were just allowed to go wild for at least a decade. Now I'm embarrassed to show him what has just happened to them.

sad apple trees and yucky view of the factory's tanks and parking lot
The real tragedy of the day was my mighty elm tree. You may recall that it took quite a hit from a storm a few years back. The top 1/3 of the tree came down. Took out a nearby pine. Thankfully it didn't fall toward the house.

It got a good trimming after that and many people told me to just take it down. I wanted my forrester friend to tell me if it could be saved, and if we could work around it when we went to regrade. Sadly, I woke up to this sight this morning.

previously disguised view of the factory

mighty elm, reduced to its parts
Now it is too late to save it. I'll admit that I cried. I really loved that giant shade tree. It protected the back of the house from the sun. And wind and rain. I believe it is very old and it did not have Dutch Elm Disease. What a gem. The yard looks really different now. Bleak and barren. Maybe I'll get a picture of the whole yard later.

20 March 2012

Winter Recap

Oh, no. Seriously? No, no, no. This can't be. Really? I haven't posted since November? Bad blogger!

Let's get caught up.

As you may know, we got the back bedroom done and now we are just down to accessorizing. And we need a headboard. And maybe nightstands. They can all wait until the perfect things come along.

King size bed!
It is a good thing we got this room ready because we had house guests for three weeks over the holidays.

Oli loves to leap on and off the new bed
Oli really loves the view!
We got digital in December, too! We now have a home wireless set up thingie. We upgraded to a blu-ray player, and I reworked our Verizon home services. By changing our outdated home phone plan, we were able add Dish TV and increase our Internet speed and it is now only about $10 more per month.

And we all got sick. So we got to make good use of the new tv service. (Remember, I haven't had broadcast tv in over two years, so I'm like a kid in a candy store.) I fought off multiple infections, including strep throat, double ear infections, fluid in the right ear that didn't want to go away on its own until threatened with tubes (yes tubes! at my age!), an upper respiratory infection that kicked my behind, and a bunch of stuff I'm probably forgetting. I missed a lot of work, but there were days I could hardly move for lack of energy. Mom and Lewis took good care of me. So now, almost three months, three rounds of strong antibiotics and a round of predinsone later, I'm finally feeling like myself again.

On top of all that, I'm playing wedding planner for my cousin's June wedding, advising mom on her new counter top selections, and still helping my aunt find things for her house. Everything is finally rebuilt from the fire and they were able to move back in just a few weeks ago.

Plus, get ready for this, Oliver's Bungalow is gearing up for a major face lift. I'll get into the details later, but here's the short list, slated to begin any day now:

new siding
4 new windows (side and back bedrooms)
roof painted
mini split system installed
re-grading the yard
long term yardscaping plan
fence for Oliver

It is just one of those projects where one thing overlaps another and suddenly you find yourself in the middle of another massive project and a major investment.

Some of the old trees have already been taken down. I'll have to get a couple of good pictures together, but in the meantime, Oliver has been having a blast tearing up root balls and sticks.

tear 'em up!

Oli, is that dirt on your nose?
and your tongue too? silly, happy doggie