Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finally ....

Well folks, that sound you hear in the background are a multitude of angels singing the "Hallelujah Chorus". Yes, it took me 160 days longer than anyone else on the planet would have taken, but my bedroom walls are finally finished - insulated, drywalled, textured, primed and painted (2 coats!). They look AWESOME. A light blue ("Misty Aqua") that has a bit of an edge to it which keeps it from being the pastel blue of your grandma's Easter pantsuit. When I finally get the black and white accents brought in, I believe it's going to be a very "French sophisticate" design look. If Emily from HGTV was describing the design look, I feel confident that that is what she would name it.

Meanwhile, I'm on to the next step which is all the 100-year old original woodwork around the 3 doors and 2 windows. I'm going to strip or sand it down and repaint it white. Then I've got to get new crown molding up on the ceiling. Yes, you're right; there's still a lot of work to be done. Dare I hope to set a new "move-in" date of Christmas eve?

Meanwhile, a couple of things: first off we're expecting our first snowstorm of the season tonight and tomorrow. Which means the cold is on it's way. Actually it was 16 degrees out this morning.

Plus, more importantly: I have given notice for my Sunday job. It is one that I've worked at for 5 years, since my divorce. It's been that long since I've had a 2-day weekend like the rest of America. I am so excited about this. Just 4 more Sundays and I'll have weekends again. Molly and Sammie are not going to know what to do - having me around for 2 days in a row. Since they were babes, I've been working a six day week. They don't know it, but their spirits are about to soar! Along with mine!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another step behind me!

Well, if I had had any help, this project would have been wrapped up back in July, I'm convinced of that. I did break open the champagne last weekend. Not because I had anything to celebrate, just because I wanted liquor. And it was horrible stuff. I mixed it half & half with orange juice and it was still horrid. So I've decided that that was my practice celebration and I'm still entitled to a real celebration as soon as I can afford a bottle of something good. Like whipped cream vodka .... have you had that? Excellent stuff.

I ordered up the texture gun. It is supposed to be dropped off at my house along with the air compressor that runs it. Oh my gosh. I can feel another nightmare coming up fast. Old John at the rental store warned me that this was a complicated machine and process, which did not make me feel optimistic or confident. I just see disaster written all over this next step.

However, before I can start the process of spraying texture on my beautiful, pristine white walls, I have to tape off the ceiling, windows, doors, floor, electrical boxes, etc etc. Or so my brother tells me. He is actually going to come over on Saturday and help me with the spray gun. I have a vision of myself with a backpack and hose (a la "Ghostbusters") and this stuff coming out with the pressure of a fire hose. Probably won't be quite so dramatic, but I bet it will prove to be just as messy. 

Meanwhile, it may be fall, but here in this neck of the woods it is c-o-l-d at night. I need to be moved into my bedroom! Camping out in the sewing room has lost all of it's initial fun-ness. I want to break out all my new blankets and - - best of all -- my new heated mattress pad. I know I swore I wasn't going to do it until the bedroom was completely done but I'm getting twitchy about it. Plus I can't wait to see how the new Cadet heater works. It's been 21 years waiting for a heater in that bedroom, and folks, I deserve to be warm!

Friday, September 30, 2011

No champagne yet

Well, here I am .... tomorrow marks the beginning of month 4 and I'm still in the thick of it. I like to think the end is in sight, but in reality, it isn't. This past week I've been working on getting primer painted onto the now mudded and sanded drywall. Like everything else, it's proving to be a s-l-o-w process. To be fair to myself, I do work 6 days a week at 2 different jobs  so I'm tired all the time. And, let's not forget my ever-increasingly painful arthritis in my right hand. Yep, the right hand that holds the sanding block and the paint roller. However, I do have nearly 3 walls primed and ready for the texture gun. The fourth wall is giving me fits. I still have a ton of work to do on it to scrape off several layers of wallpaper that I swear were put on with superglue.

And meanwhile, fall is upon us in this mountainous corner of Oregon. The temperature is dropping at night into the 30's and I want to be sleeping in my nice warm bedroom instead of camping out in a corner of the cramped sewing room. I've got all kinds of new bedding, just waiting for the new room. I refuse to use it until I'm in there. Which is great, except I'm cold at night with my summer weave blankets. I may have to break down and buy an electric blanket.

Which reminds me, I'm taking tomorrow off (I know, I know ... how can I expect to finish the project if I take whole days off?) and having a girls' day with my sister and cousin. We're going to the big city of Moscow, Idaho and hanging out. I can't wait!

Oh, and about the champagne? It's been in my fridge since the beginning of July, just waiting to be opened that first night when I'm in my makeover bedroom.

Friday, September 16, 2011

the drywall blues

Well, I'm one step closer to being finished in the bedroom - woohoo!! I was going to take last night off because I was so sore from the night before (this is really physical work, kind of like an aerobic workout only not so cute clothes), but at 9:30 when I was getting ready to go to bed I decided that I should put in a couple of hours on the drywall. I finished at 11:45 pm. So now I have the screws and the horizontal seams mudded and sanded. Now it's time to start tackling the corners of the room. I think this is going to be a difficult step because I'm not sure how to do it. Guess I'd better start checking some online sites.

I am only 7 days away from my self-imposed deadline of September 23rd, the first day of fall. When I wrote that day in on my calendar, I was confident that I could easily make that deadline. Of course, that was before I started the drywall process. Three coats of mud and a whole lot of sanding later, I know better. Yes, I'm a wiser woman now, but I'm also almost out of ibuprofen. I should have bought stock in an ibuprofen pharmaceutical before I started this process, I'm going through them like M&M's.

And did I mention that I'm into my third month on this project? I have to laugh at myself (with a touch of scorn) when I look back nearly 4 weeks ago and read the posting predicting that I would have the sheetrock done over a weekend. Ha! Sorry sweetie, but you were an idealistic, optimistic idiot.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sheetrock Weekend!

Well, finally --- I'm ready to start sheetrocking. I'm no longer keeping track of how many days it's been since I've started this project. Because it's been forever ago that I started. However, I've become a patient person in my old(er) age and have weathered this delay very well. I think.

Last night my brother, who was a contractor in a former life, came over and spent 3 hours giving me a hands-on lesson in hanging sheetrock. Thank heavens for that. I now have just enough knowledge to give me confidence that I can do this myself. I'm going to start tonight (Friday) and work on it all day tomorrow. My plan is to get it done tomorrow, but that's probably too ambitious. On the other hand, I'm all about being too ambitious when it comes to DIY projects! It's my standard operating procedure.

Update on the dogs: it's been HOT here this summer, weeks of 90-degree weather and no rain. Which is good because this area normally has outrageous summer lightning storms that start some pretty serious wildfires in the county. But still, from a dog's point of view, this is too hot. Molly especially is suffering. All her thick black Border Collie hair is holding in the heat. She spends a lot of time laying on the linoleum floor in the bathroom. Sammie, on the other hand, loves the heat. She spends her days spread out on the rock garden path, soaking in the sun. I think she is saving up heat for the winter when she suffers from cold. Poor girls.

Oh, and here's a weird thing - Molly got into my fenced off vegetable garden the other night and pulled out a zucchini plant (roots and all) and chewed off a 6-8 inch zucchini, which was destined to be zucchini bread. It now is her baby and she packs it around with her and guards it from Sammie, who has absolutely no interest in it. Weird, huh?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Taking a Break

Well, 41 days ago I started what I thought (ha!) was going to be an easy makeover for my bedroom. Of course by now it's clear that it was anything but. However, I have been making steady, if somewhat slow, strides towards the finish line. At this point, the demolition is all done, and the insulation is up. The next step is the sheetrock, something that I don't feel is do-able by myself (physically it's probably impossible). And since my son is in the middle of his own DIY project, I feel it prudent to take a break from mine and wait (mostly patiently) for him to become available once again. Far better this way than to try to install sheetrock on my own. LOL with that idea.

Meanwhile, things at my house are certainly not at a standstill. I have been working on curb appeal by doing some landscape work (that's my definition of weeding). And guess what? A guy came into the office today and remarked to me how very attractive (he might have used the word "beautiful" but that could be a figment of my imagination) my house was looking this summer! Yay! Woohoo! I have been working at it and it's paying off.

Oh, and one last thing: the hummingbirds have found my back yard. It has taken 21 years for this to happen; every spring I put out feeders and have high hopes. But this is the first year that they've actually found my place. And I am so happy about that. It makes me think of my mom every time I see a hummingbird. She loved them and her backyard was always filled with the sight and sound of them. It's one of my happiest memories of her. I'm glad to welcome the hummingbirds back into my life.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Demolition Finale!

Today is Day 23 of the bedroom remodel project. And boy, has this project evolved into something bigger than I every could imagine. In fact, if I had imagined it, I would absolutely never have started it. But incredibly enough, I have worked my way through every stage of the job, and on my own! Talk about liberating and empowering - this will do it to you.

Tonight I expect to put in the last hour of demolition work, then I can start to rebuild the room. Right now the walls are totally stripped down to the 2 x 4's. My brother-in-law has installed 5 new (!) electrical outlets and (even more importantly) has wired in a wall heater, which will bring actual heat to my bedroom. Tonight is basically clean-up. I've borrowed a shop vac and have a ton (literally) of plaster to get cleaned up and out of that room.

And how are the dogs doing, you ask? Well, Molly is taking the whole thing in stride. She likes to go into the room and check it out. She's sleeping on the floor beside my bed in the sewing room, where I had to move my bed. She's a dog that goes with the flow and doesn't get too excited about changes. Sammie, on the other hand, is confused and worried about all the changes, especially the sleeping arrangements. She has never liked to enter the sewing room (for whatever reason, I don't know), so she won't sleep in there. I moved her bed into the living room and she spends the night in there alone, which I find troubling. I like having my girls with me at night! I keep assuring her that everything will be all right and back to normal soon, but she can't remember what normal is so she is worried. Come to think of it, that's kind of how I feel too.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bedroom remodel Day 6

I started this remodel thinking it was merely going to be a paint job, but boy has it grown into something much bigger. I now have nearly one whole wall demo'd down to the lath strips. I had thought that that would be as far as I would go, but I now plan to remove the lath strips, exposing the 2 x 4's so I can get insulation on the walls. Which will be a new concept in this old house. My bedroom is the farthest away from the wood stove in the living room, and because I heat with wood, that is the last room to warm up. So I think that some insulation on the two exterior walls in particular will be ultimately worth it. Although I admit it sounds a little daunting, even to me.

And you wouldn't believe the amount of RUBBLE that this is creating in my bedroom. Probably there is dust throughout the house at this point, although I'm trying my hardest not to find it. I'm going to talk to my 16-year old nephew and see if he's interested in making a little money and a lot of good will points with me and haul away the ton (or more) of plaster chunks, strips and strips of old wallpaper, and just plain old wall dirt that is 101 years old. Yuck.

Friday, July 8, 2011

DIY project day 4

Although this is technically day 4 of my bedroom remodel project, I didn't actually work on it day 2 and day 3 due to the depression hole I fell into once I figured out that I was going to be over my head on this project but was committed to forging ahead on it anyway.

Things got better once my brother-in-law came over and showed me how to open the stupid bucket of joint compound. As it turned out, I didn't need it anyway, at least not so early in the project. As so often happens with old houses, one thing leads to another leads to another etc etc. The easy fix that I expected to be doing on my walls by skim-coating over the rough and uneven surfaces didn't work. I discovered that under the top layer of wallpaper was at least one more layer of wallpaper, plus three separate layers of old plaster. Brittle, decades-old plaster. After consulting by phone with my son about the state of the walls, he and I both agreed that I was going to have to do a demolition job on the walls down to the strips of lath, the original 1910 wall surface.

I spent a couple hours this morning moving my bed and everything else that I could physically move out of my bedroom and into various places around the house. I set up my bed and the dogs' beds in the sewing room. The dogs, by the way, are having nothing to do with this whole thing. In one week's time their world has been turned upside down. First I got rid of my queen size bed and downsized to a twin bed. Suddenly they were expected to sleep on the floor! Although to be fair to me, I did invest in two really top of the line dog beds. They want their old life back though. Molly is stretched out on her mattress next to my bed, but Sammie is evidently on strike and refuses to enter the sewing room. Period.

Anyway, I bought myself a small crowbar at Ace Hardware and went to work ripping down the walls. And you know what?? I enjoyed every minute of it. I didn't get too far, although I felt like I made good progress. I'm back to feeling that this is do-able after all. It's not going to be a weekend project though. Probably more like a couple of weeks. But I can do it. All I have to do is convince Molly and Sammie to hang in there with me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bedroom Project Day 1

Here it is, July 4th and the last day of my 3 days off (well, 2 days since I had to work Sunday) and I'm just now getting started on my bedroom remodel. Just for the record, I already know that I'm WAY over my head. I did manage to get all the furniture (why is it so heavy??) moved to the center of the room. I've peeled off the old peeling wallpaper from one entire wall and half of another. And guess what I found underneath? Ancient old cracked plaster, several layers of it. Also more wallpaper. And worst of all: there's mold. I wasn't prepared for that. After I look up what kind of fix I need to do on that, I'll be heading to Ace Hardware. Oh, and here's another thing: one of the reasons why I didn't start this project earlier in my weekend is because I can't get the lid ofof the 60-pound bucket of compound mix that I'm putting (skim coat) on the walls. I worked and worked at it last night with every tool that I own, which admittedly is not a lot. Obviously those lids are put on for contractors, not for 60-year old women with more ideas than muscles (or sense).

Wish me luck.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Being a DIY-er isn't easy

As always, I have too many projects and not enough time. It's easy to have too many projects when your house is over 100 years old. And it's hard to have enough time when you work at 2 jobs six days a week. But I do my best.

I decided this week that I might be getting better sleep if I had a new mattress. When I did the math, I was honestly surprised to find out that my existing mattress is at least 30 years old. Good grief. Time goes by fast without you even knowing it. Anyway, I decided it's time for a new mattress. And because I've been sleeping single (if you don't count the dogs) in a queen size bed for five years, I have decided to downgrade my mattress size to a twin. This is going to come as a big shock to Molly and Sammie, who each take up more than their share of bed space. In fact, I've come to the startling realization that it's time they sleep on their own beds ON THE FLOOR. Whew. I can't believe I've said that.

Getting back to the point however: not only am I going to get a new, twin sized mattress, but I'm going to make myself a new headboard and footboard for my new wonderful mattresses (which I'm picking out next week). Today I posted a classified ad in the paper to get rid of my old queen size bed and mattresses. Sure hope I get some calls on it. I'm asking $115, but I'll give it away free if I have to. Time to move on.  I have my new headboard project (a vintage door) propped up on my front porch. Hopefully I'll get to it this weekend. Meanwhile, tonight I decided I had better step up my game plan for scraping the wallpaper off my bedroom walls and smoothing on some kind of plaster to cover up the rough and bumpy spots. Oh the joys of an old house. My plan is to spend 30 minutes a night working on them. Unfortunately, tonight I got sidetracked by my kitchen wall project and spent an hour scraping wallpaper in that room. What in the world ever possessed me to put up burgundy textured wallpaper 15 years ago? It has always looked like a pizza parlor from the 1970's. I'm getting close to removing all traces of that unfortunate decor decision.

So tonight I worked in the kitchen instead of the bedroom. But tomorrow is another day and I'm definitely going to get back to work on the bedroom project. Oh darn. I just remembered that my sister Anne is coming over tomorrow after work to help me with my out-of-control flower beds. She assures me that Round-up is the answer. I'm pretty leery because of my dogs, but they don't get out in the front yard, so maybe it will work. That's what I get for begging her to take my yard on as a project and be my garden mentor. I don't want to blow it with her.... it's the first time I've asked her for help with a yard make-over. Of course, she probably accepted because her yard is the best in town, and I'm sure my sad-looking yard is an embarrassment to her. But hey, whatever works.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


One of the greatest joys in my life is my granddaughters, ages 8, 10 and 14. The middle one, Shyla, is currently obsessed with all things Titanic. (Oh, and Leonardo DiCaprio.) She owns two non-fiction books with accounts of the building and sinking of the Titanic and loves to grill her family about every known fact about the ship. When I came home from work tonight, there was a note from her instructing me to look up Simon Crane, Ewan Stewart and Victor Garber on the internet and to write a report about them, then to mail the report to her so she can check my work. I'm assuming that these three guys were passengers or deck hands or something to do with the Titanic. I don't know yet because I haven't had time to look them up. But I'm going to. Tonight. Because she has already called me to see if I have the answers yet. I'm pretty sure that 30 years from now she will be one of the world's foremost authorities about the sinking of the Titanic.

The family

I live in a rural town, in the far northeast corner of Oregon. Cowboys, hippies, and now wolves. Oh, and rattlesnakes. Although those aren't to be found in my immediate vicinity. Thirty miles away, where my son and his family live, rattlesnakes are not uncommon. Which is why I hate to visit them. When I do brave it to their house, I pull up and park as close as possible to their back door. Then I run for my life for that door, praying all the way. I don't walk around their yard. Any admiring that I do of their extensive garden comes from looking out their windows. I've never seen a rattlesnake yet, but I know they're there. And I'm convinced that they know that I'm there. So it's a stand-off, at least so far.

I've owned my house for 20 years now. It's 100 years old this year. And definitely not without it's problems, most financial. For example, the roof. I realized back in December that the roof needed replaced. I managed to get a home equity loan (another one) and called the roofers. They put me on their waiting list and guess what?? Today, 6 months later, I got the call from them saying that I'm at the top of the list and Monday they'll start the re-roof project! I am so excited. Mostly I'm relieved. Four days ago the ceiling in my sewing room starting leaking. So there's another project waiting for me -- repairing the ceiling and a good sized portion of one of the walls. It never ends, does it?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Well, here goes. I've been thinking about doing this for some time but keep putting it off. This seems like a good night to get started. It's June 1st and it's cold out and the temperature in the house is 58 degrees. Which isn't warm enough. But my 100 year old house is heated by wood, and it's too late to go out to the woodshed and cut kindling and get the woodstove going. So I'm in bed with the electric blanket warming the sheets and my two dogs sprawled out and taking up most of the queen size bed.

So, to introductions: I'm a 60 year old woman, divorced five years now from a man who left me for another woman after 35 years of what I thought was a happy marriage. Guess I was the last to know that it wasn't so happy after all. It was excrutiatingly hard to find myself alone at age 55. In fact, I still don't know how I've made it through the past four years. It's been a roller coaster ride, period. More about that later.

Actually, I do know how I've made it through the rough times -- Molly and Sammie, my "pack". Both were rescue dogs, but they in fact rescued me. Which is often how it works out. Molly is a bossy, know-it-all five year old Border Collie, and Sammie is a four year old Pit Bull mix with the sweetest heart you'll ever come across. Together we are a pack of three. I don't know what I'd do without them.