Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Slight Interruption...

Well, for those of you not involved in the Texas Public School system, this week is TAKS week, which is our big honkin' deal state test, and my current excuse for not getting much done around the house. After school is spent unwinding with good company at a local Mexican restaurant. Now, before you start thinking we're a bunch of imbibers, we're not. Our cheese (queso) bill always outnumbers our alcohol bill 2-1, which is actually pretty pitiful but hey, they make a mean queso.

Again, I'm off topic, back to the house. Monday was a non-testing day, so I did have to do something around the house. When I made it home after running a couple of errands, I discovered that the crew had half of the front completely bare! That made me get my rear up there while it was light and pull more insulation. This time I was appropriately attired with knee pads to protect my black and blue knees. While the pads were great and much more comfortable, I could no longer feel the joist's location with my knees which made for some harrowing positioning at times. At least with my contortions I was able to amuse the guys putting on the roof. I'm pretty sure they were talking about me in Spanish, which is fine. I would have been talking about me too had I been able to see me!

I didn't get any of the insulation bagged but I did get it all pulled up the to center joist and out of the eaves for half the house. I figured the mess would be easier to deal with in the tallest part of the roof. I knew I'd only have the great lighting from no roof for a short time and wanted to get those tight dark spaces pulled clean while I could see them.
For a while, we toyed with the idea of just laying new insulation over the old since technically fiberglass doesn't go bad. What fiberglass does go is nasty and mine was definitely there. This stuff is so full of poop (please excuse my French, but if I have to know, so do you,) that there is no way I'd leave it up there. The only consolation I have is that hopefully whatever animal used my attic as a restroom has a truly itchy rear from going on the fiberglass. So if you see a raccoon or a cat with an itch in my neighborhood, you know what they've been up to!!
Monday night we apparently had a heck of a storm blow through Brenham/Washington County, but I was asleep with Zach and missed it all. My roof suffered no damage that I can/could tell, so I guess that's good since part of it was only covered with plastic. What a aware homeowner I am. Oops..

Tuesday after the Mexican restaurant, I arrived home to discover that the roofing crew was almost done. I am so impressed with them and the great job they've done. The mess and amount of stuff that they'd had to deal with has been huge and each time they are so pleasant and polite. They are also extremely fast this week. I'm hoping that when I get home today I will find a completed brand-new metal roof on my house. I'll let you know!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

More Roofing Progress...

Well, I received a very special phone call last night from my Mimi via my mother. She agreed to give me a very generous amount to pay for a new backdoor which made me cry, but in a good way. So, I promptly packed up all of my stuff from work, twisted Mom's arm and headed to Home Depot to dream. We walked to doors (which is technically called millwork) and I immediately spied one that I love. (Keep in mind that I'm working with a 6 foot opening for a 1960's sliding glass door.) It has a center 36" wide door that is basically a french door without the mullions (little crossbars that block the view...) Instead, it has a prairie style mullions ( that provide some decoration but still have a good view of the patio. The truly neat things about the door are the sidelights. Instead of a traditional sidelight, it's called a ventlight the the enitre window opens from top to bottom to a screen, allowing for air flow without the door open. Sorry their picture is so poor, so you'll just have to come admire it when it's in! ;) No, I haven't finalized plans to purchase the door, but hope to today or tomorrow...

Okay, I've digressed, I know big surprise, right!?!
Anyway, after the excitement of the door, I headed to my parent's house to refill my water bottles before heading home to pull out more nasty insulation. After the offer of another free meal involving veggies & fruit, oh be still my digestive system, I decided to blow off insulation for the evening. Practicality of a good meal won out over my lack of want to get up in the attic/laziness! Eventually I made it back to my house with dreams of showering and getting to bed early. Ha! I should have known better.

When I pulled into my driveway at 7, I realized that the workmen were still there. In one day they managed to strip all of the cedar shakes off the backside of the house and replace half of that with the metal. When I opened my attic access and saw blue sky, I realized that I couldn't let the chance pass to tear out insulation while I'd have a breeze! So, up I went, after changing into the appropriate outfit. An hour later I had 3 joists cleared and 4 bags filled up. Even though the insulation is gone, I'm still going to have to vacuum up there to clear out the rest of the yuck, but hopefully with the right attachments it won't take as much bending and twisting. At several points last night I was pretty certain that I was going to have to call for help to get my unstuck from the beams/joists/drywall ceiling!! Thankfully I keep my phone in my pocket for just such an emergency.

I've discovered several very important facts about the insulation in my attic:
- it's disgusting!
- 3 inches (original depth) isn't near enough in this climate
- if you have an old house, invest in blowing in more insulation in the attic! -there is little to no fiberglass left over the edges of the rooms
-they didn't ever insulate over the eaves, porches or carport
-mouse houses are nasty!
-raccoons' poop is almost as large as a dog's!
-showering completely doesn't get rid of the smell!!

Enjoy the pictures and sorry about the quality. I left my camera at school, so all I had was my phone, but I figured you could get the picture - pun intended! Have a great day!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Well, the crew has started on the roof. Apparently it was a lot worse than we thought because they have been working 2 days and only have off the top two layers of the asphalt shingles and have revealed the cedar shakes below. The gentleman that is removing the roof did mention that the second layer was a mess. The attached pics are from after they covered the roof with the plastic.

Sorry, I was busy researching my house at the courthouse for an hour after school and missed the pre-plastic shot. The basement of the Washington County yielded some interesting information, but no leads on the concrete in the backyard. For anyone who wants to know the history of my property is as follows:

The owner's prior to me were William & Helen Buske who purchased the land in 1961 for $10,000 from Ruth Hunter Thomas Giddings.

Ruth and her sister, Otway Schell, received the property, originally part of a plot of 5 3/4 acres, from their father S.W. Thomas on September 11, 1930.
It gets fuzzy here because of the non-flow of the names and the data taken in 1909... Somehow John Giddings purchased the property on December 10, 1909 for $600. He bought it from a J.C. Day who was a minor when he received it as an heir of Jessie Johnson on January 24, 1908. It was at this point that I basically lost track of property. I have more books to look in and at one point when I get a spare hour, I'll keep going. I'm guessing the following info based on what I read on the property. Mr./s Johnson bought up 3 different pieces of land when they bought the property originally because the purchase is recorded into 3 different deed books at 3 different dates. Thanks to the fabulous (I really mean that) handwriting of the people of the 1900's, I cannot tell much more because I can't read their writing. It is gorgeous to look at, but a pain to read!

After the guys finished the roof for the day, I psyched myself up and went up into the attic to tear out some insulation. People, let me tell you, it was NASTY!! Apparently the previous owners' cats were up there at one point, along with raccoons, and who knows what else. Just use your imagination as to how I know this.

While I was up there, I also found 3 picture frames that I'm hoping will clean up well, a Victrola label, and some baseball cards. All in all I pulled out three large bags of the stuff and didn't manage to go through the drywall. It was super humid up there, so I didn't hang out long, but I was proud of myself for getting 3 bags out. Now, if I can only do 3 bags a night, it should take me 3-4 months at the most! ;)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Delays & Frustrations

Well, after a truly frustrating bought of poison ivy (no emergency room trip this time, but did miss work because of a swollen face…) 2 busy weekends, missed delivery dates and threats of rain, I still have no new roof. Now, don’t let that make you think I’ve been sitting on my tush since the last post though. Thanks to a huge effort on the part of Marc & Sara the entire right side of my yard has gone from overgrown jungle to a perfectly clean slate. It took 2 days of hard labor digging out roots, trimming trees, knocking out trees, clearing shrubs, and removing overgrowth. This work is featured in several pictures both before and after shots so you can truly appreciate the hard labor. (Labor just sounds like a much more intensive word that work. My partner teacher always tells the kids to show with their writing, not tell. I think labor is a much more telling word that work. To me it conjures up images of sweat and blisters, true work! But I digress, although this should come as no surprise to anyone…)

Side Yard Before

Side Yard After

The Shed Overhang Before

The Shed Overhang After (notice it's gone!!)

Back Patio Before

The Back Patio After

Once all of the junk was cleared, I took advantage of Washington County’s Spring Cleaning free dump weekend. Thanks to the help of James & Sammy Zeiders and Kyle Duggan with the help of the Zeiders’ truck it only took two full truckloads, plus 2 huge trailer loads to clean up the mess. Along with all of the brush, I was able to get rid of the broken stove, vent hood, microwave, sink, excessive trim, old mailbox, waste concrete, the entire back roof/overhang from the shed and other heavy pieces of trash.

The Dream Team!

Trailer Load One!

Speaking of waste concrete, while clearing the backyard, we discovered a large patch of excess concrete. Did I mention it was a large piece of concrete? An old large piece?? You can see it in the picture of the cleared backyard and concrete mess. It’s the large gray piece just to the left of the center of the pic. I have a call into the man who originally built the house in ’61 to see if he remembers what it the world it was. Don’t you love small towns??

The Side Back Yard After with Random Concrete

I spent 2 hours on Saturday clearing out 3 feet of

flowerbed in the back. I’m slowing working my way around. The process is frustrated by huge roots, old toys, short roots, building debris, tough roots, rocks, small roots, trash, and a few more roots. Excess top soil also has to be hauled to the front yard a wagon load at a time. Removing the soil allows space for the mulch to sit in the bed, not flow out onto the patio. The short part of the “L” is finished, full of growing irises from Colorado, clearance hyacinth from HEB and a gorgeous mandavilla. Eventually it should vine out and climb all over the brick wall in the back. I’ve included a picture of the patio when I purchased the property and a current one. Notice the sideways chairs in "The Back Patio After." A cat has taken up residence on my chairs and leaves hair everywhere. They’ve also started using my cleaned flowerbeds as restrooms. This does not make me happy, so I’ve turned the chairs to discourage this.

The outside is not the only place taking shape. More finishing touches are starting to appear inside as well. The living room is SLOWLY beginning to look like a place you’d actually want to hang out. The appearance of crown moulding and baseboards are much beloved touches. You might be asking why? Why in the world am I so excited about having up the mouldings. Well, they finish the room. It’s like a super model all done up in makeup with bushy Cronkite eyebrows. Waxing those caterpillars will make all the difference and finish her look. Adding mouldings are like waxing your eyebrows. (Bet Norm Abrahm never made that reference!!) Instead of looking like a work in progress, it makes the room look finished, albeit, empty. It’s a true feeling of completion. (If you don’t have trim moulding up in your house or in a room, I STRONGLY recommend that you do it. It’s makes all the difference in the world!)

The living room isn’t the only place that got its finishing touches. The hallway also received baseboards. Please only look at the wonderful baseboards, not at the floor that needs a serious scrubbing!! The built-ins in the living room have also started to fill up. So far I like the look, but I’m keeping an eye out for more things that sparkle to put among the antique books.

If the rest of this week proves fruitful with the addition of a new roof, I’ll let you know. Given the gray skies and the occasional drizzle, along with a damp forecast, I’m not holding my breath! ;)