The long and strange journey to transform our 1942 war cottage style house into a (circa) 1914 Craftsman bungalow, without going completely nutz.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
Back from Ashland, Oregon
We had an excellent time in Ashland, OR this weekend. We did all of the things you might expect. We had some great conversations with Jenn’s Dad and his girlfriend, we had some excellent meals at several area restaurants, and we saw some great live drama at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I think Jenn and I enjoyed Twelfth Night the most. It was a fine production and we laughed a lot. Richard III and Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus were also very good.
For the festival, we usually stay in a lousy, overpriced corporate-chain hotel. But this year we stayed in a B&B called Nightingail's. The innkeeper, Gail, does an excellent job of making you feel at home. She is a retired high school English teacher who is very knowledgeable about Shakespeare in general, and also knows much detail about the festival. The house is beautiful, the beds are cozy, and the breakfasts are delicious. I highly recommend!
Naturally, I had to engage Gail about the house. She bought the 1902 Four Square a little over 10 years ago. It had been turned into a pink mock-Victorian (gasp!). However, she lovingly restored it to its "less pretentious" originality and prepared it to be a B&B. This included tearing the insides down to the studs and upgrading the electrical, plumbing, and heating systems. The transformation took a little over a year. And, it doesn’t seem the house has aged a day since then.
I asked Gail about this curious window in our room that faces the interior stairway. She says it is original and was used to help vent the upstairs. Nice stained glass.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The good news is that the painter is done with the exterior trim. Yippee! And, I must say, it looks very good. I was a bit skeptical earlier about loosing the wood tones and textures, but the newly painted trim looks sharp and helps the cedar shingles stand out more. Very nice. Plus, the painter says he found some mold on parts of the over hang, which makes me that much more relieved we got this done before winter. I'll post new pictures and more information about the painter next week.
The other bit of good news is that we WON'T be working on the house this weekend. Yippee!!! Jenn and I are spending the weekend in Ashland, OR to see the 2005 Oregon Shakespeare Festival. For the past 70 years, Ashland has staged world class productions of Shakespeare as well as other plays. This year, we're going to see 12th Night, Dr. Faustus (Marlowe), and Richard III (love that War of the Roses stuff!).
While we're enjoying ourselves in southern Oregon, I'm sure we'll still be thinking about those in the Gulf Coast. It now appears that Hurricane Rita is headed straight for Houston, TX. I know people in Houston. The company I work for has a division in Houston and I work with them frequently. I'm happy to report that their office shutdown early Wednesday morning and they all evacuated the area, though I haven't heard from them since. Hopefully they'll be OK and the storm isn't as bad as predicted. Let's hope.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Inside and Out
Work is progressing here, both inside and out. The painter was busy all week painting the trim and overhang outside, while I've been busy getting the railing put in on the main stairs inside.
I have to confess that I kind of like the house better before the painting. I like the wood tones and textures of the raw trim. But, to be realistic, the house must be painted in order to preserve that wood. I guess I could have tried an oil or some other means of preserving it without paint, but that would likely mean constant maintenance. Besides, the painter is doing a good job and I'm sure I'll get use to the nice clean look of the trim. And, we will still have the cedar porches with the pine ceilings and the shingles on the 2nd story. There will be plenty of natural wood on this house. But, Jenn and I both agree, we've got to paint the rest of the house. The grey has got to go. The plan is to paint it a nice dark red. But, we won't be able to do it this year. There is ALWAYS next year...
While the painter has been busy outside, I've been busy inside. I added the last handrail to the mainstairs and a few more spindles. I've now done 12 spindle assemblies for steps (I'm building them in my sleep now) and need to do 8 more for the main stairs. There are also two overhangs, one on the landing, and the second at the top of the stairs, that both need spindles. That's a lot of spindles. I've been ripping them out of some variable width white oak one-by that I got from Crosscuts. Jenn has been helping me sand the spindles after they've been ripped, which has helped a lot.
As soon as I get these main stairs done, it's MORE stairs. The sunroom stairs haven't been touched. I will need to get treads and railings on them before we're ready for inspection. Much to do.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
A few more steps, a few more spindles
I managed to get just a few more spindles on the main stairs this weekend. It's slow progress, but they are making their way down the steps, one step at a time. Here is a photo of the 4 steps with spindles.
Here is an exploded view of the spindle assembly:
You can see in the exploded view just how the spindle assembly is put together. There are 5 pieces of 1x1 white oak and 10 screws. 6 screws hold the assembly together (3 on each end) and 4 screws hold the assembly in place on the step (2 on each end). I also glue the pieces together for added strength.
Oh, in other news, the painter starts on Tuesday to paint the exterior trim! He says he can paint all of the trim in 5 days (brush, no spraying), but depending on the weather, that will probably take close to two weeks. I can hardly wait to get that done.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
Progress on Main Stairs
Just a brief note as we are expecting company in less than half an hour. I have made some progress on the main stairs (finally!). I got the hand rails in on Saturday. Today I've been working on the spindles. OK, I got a grand total of 3 spindles up. But, I learned a lot on this effort and the rest should go a little more quickly. The spindles are made of 1x1" white oak and are joined together by threes for each step.
Here is a picture of the hand rails after I got them up.
Here is a picture of the first step with spindles.
Monday is supposed to be a fun day, no work on the house. But, we'll see........
Friday, September 02, 2005
Are We Lucking Not to Live in Hurricane Country?
It is tough not to think about what is going on in the areas affected by Katrina, even though over a thousand miles away here in Portland we’ve had little direct impact. Gas prices have gone up about 50 cents, but are still less than $3/gal. But, we’re following the news here everyday. All of the destruction, the suffering, the chaos makes me sad and grateful that I don’t live down there. But, that said, it could happen here too.
Portland is surrounded by dormant and not so dormant volcanoes. We all know what Mt. St. Helens can do. But, if Mt. Hood were to wake up erupt with the same size and force of St. Helens’ 1980, Portland would likely suffer a similar kind of destruction as we now see in New Orleans. Also, while Portland isn’t known for major earthquakes, it is still earthquake country. With a geologic history of 9 (Richter Scale) quakes, we could have a major major quake with similar damage to the city. So, this weekend, while I’m thinking about the suffering in the Gulf region, while I’m writing my check to the Red Cross (my employer is matching 150%), I’m also going to take time to make sure I have the tool to turn off the gas, enough water and canned food to last a week or so, and fresh batteries for Jenn's boombox. Because, it could happen here, it could happen anywhere.