Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Gate

This is a 1994 Land Rover Range Rover County LWB:

I love this car.  It hauls my dogs and dog stuff and sunscreen and all types of lumber and 10,000 empty diet coke cans.  It has leather interior so when I'm muddy and wet the seats don't soak it up and get smelly.  It used to drive like a cadillac through the deepest mudholes and the ruttiest ruts.  We were all getting along quite fine, when the Rover decided to give up on the relationship.  It just stopped.  Everyone warned me not to get involved with a British Automobile, but I thought that we had something special and Rover wouldn't quit on me.  I was wrong.  The thing stopped dead and wouldn't move out of the driveway.  
We called the tow truck to come and I explained to the driver that we (he and I) would just push the 3 ton behemoth down my narrow driveway and onto the street in order to load it on the flatbed.  He looked at me like I had two heads, so I felt a little self conscious about sitting in the truck to steer it between the house and the fence post.  I left the door open so I could hear his directions and also so I could stick my feet out to help push.  Apparently I also left the door open so it could get caught in the fence and knock the fence post over and tear the door off the truck.  

Instead of hitting the break when the door first got stuck, I tried to wrench the door closed while yelling expletives and of course the door wouldn't close because the heavy truck was rolling fast down our steep driveway and expletives never actually help anything.  The car continued to roll until the fence post bent over far enough to stop it.  Very tragic.  The tow truck guy had to take the whole door apart in order to close the door again and I had to hook 4 zip ties together to lash the door in place because it now hung 3 inches too low to latch shut.  The guys at the repair shop are never going to forget this. 
The truck still isn't fixed and it's been towed back to it's original spot, but this is how the gate looks after the tragedy:

That orange tie down keeps the whole situation together.  Otherwise, the fence post on the left sticks toward the white house at a 30 degree angle.  The tie down makes it look like it might work, but the dogs know that there is a weakness and they've been escaping every chance they get.  I've decided to build a solid cedar gate to fix all of our gate related problems.  Does anybody want to buy a truck?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Yellow Wallpaper

Sleeping in our bedroom with it's very 'Shabby Chic' decor of several different floral wallpapers reminded Chris of a literature class he took in college. In this class they explored the themes of the Mad Scientist, including "the plan", and the "descent into madness". Maybe those are the two themes driving my need to strip the wallpaper and that reminded him of the story The Yellow Wallpaper, or maybe it's just that the wallpaper is yellow. Sometimes he can be very complex.

He dug around in the office and found his copy of the short story from 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and read it aloud to me before bed the other night. It's a haunting story and also a good motivator to get out my scraping tools. I wouldn't want to end up like the woman in the story even though she does get most of the paper stripped before going completely mad.

You can read the story here: http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/wallpaper.html

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Slave Labor

When we returned from Michigan we brought along two slaves... er... small family members.  We told my sister (their mother) that we were going to have a great time hiking and camping and toasting marshmallows.  LIES!  She should know that we don't do anything fun!  We just scrape!

On a whim I started stripping the wallcover in the master bedroom.  One morning I was lying in bed just waking up.  Sunlight was streaming in the windows highlighting all of the overlapped seams on all of the layers of wallpaper under the 3 or 4 layers of paint.  I started thinking that if I took the metal nail file from the nightstand drawer and stuck it under the uppermost wallpaper seam that I could peel the paper right off and finally see what's under there.  I've been yearning to see what I could see since we moved in but when we moved into this house I vowed that I would not start a new project until the previous project is finished.  In our last house every room was a work zone and it was miserable.  Chris reminds me of this rule whenever I talk about starting something new.  Also, the kitchen project from last summer remains approximately 99% complete and I've already broken the rule to work on the living room.  Anyway, I grabbed that metal file and stuck it under one of the wallpaper seams, wiggled it around, and then pulled.  I was delighted by what I found:

Pretty yellow paper!  The paint and a layer of what I think is probably a vinyl wallpaper installed within the last 30 years was coming up beautifully leaving this yellow paper behind.  Chris was unhappy when he discovered what I was up to.  In fact, he said, "I will never understand you", but when he saw the yellow paper he began to understand.  

Then when the kids found out what I was doing they wanted to get in on the peeling action themselves.  It didn't hurt that this is the only air conditioned room in the house.
Maddy was particularly entertained by the wallpaper peeling and she stayed for the long haul.  She really enjoyed when the yellow paper started peeling away too allowing the even older papers to show through.

Here's the chronology of what's on the walls in our bedroom.  This pink paper is installed on bare plaster.
This striped floral is installed over the pink.

The yellow and grey floral is installed over the striped floral and the vinyl paper is over that.  It looks like the vinyl paper was blue, but was primed before they painted the room, so I can't see if there was a pattern on the paper.

So, I guess I've gotten myself into another project.  We knew this was coming, you can't keep painting over wallpaper indefinitely.  I'll just keep my fingers crossed that we can get the paper off and leave the plaster intact.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Worst Blogger Ever.

We were recently visiting my husband's family in Michigan and my mother-in-law, the famous J featured in many posts about yardwork, told me that she looks at my house blog each day hoping for an update.  This is a lot of pressure.  I haven't really been doing much at home, so not only do I have to dig up a project and really get into it, I have to write about it in an entertaining manner.  

Here's some old work that I haven't posted yet, I can't guarantee it will entertain, but I'm glad it's finished:

We finally summoned the energy to finish scraping the cellulose paste off the walls in the living room.  This is what the bare plaster looked like:
The walls are in really terrific shape, there's one fairly large crack that I had planned to fix but decided that it doesn't bother me.  It looks like the woodwork was shellac'd after it was installed and then the plaster was never actually painted.  
We pulled a couple of tiny scraps of different wallpapers off with the burlap, so we have an idea of what the paper looked like at different times.  I would love to keep with the history of the house and install a paper at some point, but that will have to wait.

The mulling over of the color choice continued until I bought a couple of gallons of this hideous color called Connected Gray.  You should have seen the faces of my colleagues when I told them that I painted the largest room in my house Connected Gray.  I knew from the first pass with the roller that it was perfect.  The key to finding a color that pleases me is to find the most drab, least popular color available.  This is how it turned out: