Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Case of the Disappearing Drip

So. Yesterday morning the plumber arrived bright and early, soon thoroughly impressed with the ceiling and how clean it was. He commented on the craftsmanship of the carpentry and the plumbing, and was nearly bowled over with the not galvanized, not copper, not PVC but ( drumroll, please) BRASS water lines feeding the fixtures in the bathroom.

Then he went to work, looking for the source of our leak in the now exposed pipes. He looked and looked and looked.

No leak!

We have now showered, flushed, and run water multiple times and still -- no leak!

Perhaps it was just a message from the benevolent house ghosts that we needed to remove that wavy plaster ceiling and get back to the bones of the house.

Or maybe it was a tricky little house elf chuckling at the gullibility of the humans who panic at a bit of mouse pee.

At any rate, we have bare beams, hanging light bulbs, and a carpentry challenge to turn this great potential into something wonderful.

Yesterday we bought pendant lights to hang above the counters and a chandelier for the breakfast room. Our biggest worry, among many, is that the dark ceiling will suck all the light out of the room.

On other fronts, the Volvo is fixed; the roof on the rental unit needs repair since it is leaking around the chimney which is falling down (it's a good thing we rerouted the exhaust of the boiler from that chimney to a direct vent or we might have carbon-monoxide poisoned our tenants!); and the main sill under part of the back porch is rotten. Oh, and the back steps need to be repaired or replaced. But like Scarlett, we will worry about that another day.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


So we decided to go for exposed beams.  Today was the mess, tearing out old plaster. Trever Howard, our handyman, changed race as we watched!  What a huge mess! Dust, plaster, dust, sand, dust, and plain ol' dirt covered all surfaces.

Above shows the ceiling taken down to the lath.

Here the old lath has been removed

Our pretty kitchen is again a wreck! (See Kitchen tab for more on the changes we have already made to Kitchen.

Then the drop cloth on the stove caught fire! 

Trever got it out quickly, but there is a little melted sheet on the glass top stove. He swears a razor blade will fix it.

News on the Volvo-they think it is a starter solenoid. More details from them tomorrow.

Still humid and overly warm. Not the 100 that Little Rock had today, but very warm if you move around much. I told Trever to stop sweating on my floor. It makes it hard to sweep up dust.

Tomorrow we have plumber, to fix the leak in pipes he can now see, Trever back to finish demolition, and electricians to put in more outlets in bedrooms, bathroom,and kitchen. And to install a whole-house fan in the attic. Oh, and a mason to look at chimney repair. Another day in contractor hell.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Problems, Annoyances or Opportunities

You remember that pretty yellow kitchen we just finished painting, and the gleaming white ceiling Pat rolled on Sunday?

Then yesterday we discovered a suspicious stain under the upstairs bathtub?

Well, today the plumber arrived, cut a hole in the wall behind the faucets of the tub/shower, and found NOTHING. He could see no leaks from that vantage.


And now we have an opportunity. Do we put the sheetrock back up, or leave it down to expose these 200-year-old hand-hewn beams?

As we were considering the options, we went to lunch with Tracy and did a little shopping. Ready to leave, we climbed into the Volvo to come home and it would not start. 2 hours later, after getting Pat and Tracy a ride home, I sent Ms. Volvo on a road trip to Cheshire, MA, aboard a wrecker and compliments of AAA. With any luck the Volvo dealer there will be able to figure out why the security system thinks I am stealing my car and refuses to start.

Long day....

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Just When We Thought We Were Finished in the Kitchen....

Woke up this morning to a wet spot on kitchen ceiling, suspiciously under the upstairs bathroom. Urgent calls to neighbors for name of a plumber finally netted one who will be here tomorrow morning. No showers tonight.

Spent the rest of the day talking to a slater, a mason,a painter, and a builder. I am thankful for the experience we had at the log cabin and with our rent houses. Otherwise I could be easily buffaloed by the facia/soffit/drip cap/repointing/flashing discussions I had all day.  Estimates for repairs coming later in the week. Heart attack to follow.

Rewiring upstairs and rebuilding front porch both launch next week. 

What will I do when I don't have building projects to occupy myself?

Monday, June 24, 2013

More Light for the Kitchen

Yellow won. We painted the walls of the kitchen to match the breezeway. Then the ceiling looked tired, so Pat painted it. And I, in trying to adjust the god-awful antique bronze colonial-style hanging ceiling fixture, managed to somehow get it to stop working, (i.e., I broke it.)

So today, we bought and I installed a new polished nickle and glass fixture.

Now our new fixture bathes the buttery walls with golden light.

(See the Kitchen tab [or click here] for more on the kitchen renovations.)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

One Thing Leads to Another

I thought we were finished with the kitchen.

I should have known better.

After I painted the breezeway a buttery yellow, the kitchen walls looked dingy. So we are in the process of painting the kitchen to match the breezeway. Sigh!

 Breezeway now.  The walls were dark brown panelling. Lots of cutting in during painting since the room has 5 doors and 2 windows! And a stone floor.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Tracking Hiram Waters

We have been out looking again at the houses Jane Radocchia took us to see earlier this week. One in particular, in North Bennington, looked certainly to have been built by our Hiram since the trim on the outside of the front door and on the corner pilasters looked so much like ours. As we drove by it again, we noticed that the garage door was open and a woman was inside.

Going on the "Nothing Ventured" premise, we stopped and told her of our interest in her house and why we thought it was probably build by "Uncle Hi." She invited us inside and VOILA! The exact trim as in our front room decorated her front room. Our first "discovery".

And the discovery became even more interesting when we learned that the owner is a painter, and a good one, who is involved with the plein air event held each year in North Bennington. Pat's ear's perked up at that news.

The top photo is of one of our windows. Notice the pyramid in the corners and the beveled pieces surrounding the window.  The lower one shows detail of the corner. This looks exactly like the molding in the house in North Bennington. 

Ha! We found the tracks of old Hiram for sure!

For those of you following our progress, I finished the write-up of the changes to our Dining Room. (Click here)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shining Up the Tarnished Lady

Since we got to Bennington, our most frequent outings have been to Home Depot and Greenberg's Hardware. We have been trying to tame the dark kitchen and wildly wallpapered dining room and living room. See photos at the House Journal page.

By the time Amy Ness arrived driving our Volvo filled with paintings and dishes, we were ready to hang the paintings and fill the china cupboard with the Hadley pottery.

Pat has been working assiduously between rainstorms to improve the gardens around the house, rehoming plants we brought with us from White Wagon and adding sticker-shocking shrubs we've purchased from local nurseries.

We still need to do patching and painting to the exterior, replace the front porch and do something for the backporch area. We just don't know what, yet.

Along the way, we've learned a lot about the builder of the house (Hiram Waters) thanks to Tracy's exploring old diaries and deeds, and the extent of Hiram's skill thanks to Jane Griswold Radocchia, an architect with extensive knowledge of early Bennington. (see Jane's website: )

Hiram Waters (1797 - 1890) in 1888. Take a look at those hands!

The more we look at other period houses, the more we learn about the architectural features of our old lady. And the more we learn about Hiram and his family, the more excited we are about having the opportunity to tend his legacy.