Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The challenge rolls on...

What a weekend! Alright, here we go, and if you're looking for the short of it, we are on schedule and then some!


The plan was just to go home and pack. And that we did. Packed and packed and packed, then sat on the back porch late in the night feeling the midnight moisture roll in, enjoying the fresh smells of the farm, and listening to the mockingbird.


Erika went over the mountains to rent the floor sander and hunt down the correct paper for it, then she headed over to the house to do the final touch-up sanding of some drywall spots. I met her there after work and we gave the sander a shot. The idea was to sand down and buff up the soapstone but it was ripping through paper at a rate we just couldn't keep up with. It definitely smoothed out the stone and grout a bit, but I was disappointed that the stone wasn't being enhanced the way we were told it should. After quickly spending 20+ pads, I ended up going at it by hand. Our little corner cat sander seemed to be taking out the saw marks left by the big quarry machines but it was getting late and we still needed to tile the shower border so we decided to leave the sanding by hand until the morning.

In a display of done-this-before, Erika whipped up the remaining amount of thinset while I tried to rig up a makeshift reservoir for the wet saw that we found in the basement. And off we went, right up the wall. A vertical row of tiles, then a second vertical of bullnose tiles. Only three cuts were needed and our saw handled them just fine although I started getting little pinprick shocks so I used tile scraps to push 'em through.


Big day. Up early. Over the mountain to return the sander and buy painting supplies, paint and primer, and the usual odds and ends. We started bringing our houseplants over with us so the first thing we did was unload them onto the porch.

We grouted the newly installed tile border.

We assembled the awesome cart that we got for Christmas (we were going to be needing this for the big debris removal project later that day).

Then we spent some time masking off the tile and laying plastic on the floor, getting ready for a couple of days of painting. We rolled the primer coat of paint onto the bathroom walls and ceiling. Holy cow!

That done, we were off to start cleaning up the outside mess. You might recall that three months ago when we pulled out all the insulation from the crawl space, we had tossed it into the old shed (packed almost to the top). We had also been dumping tile, drywall, linoleum, and a myriad of other debris onto the back concrete patio. A large pile by now. The shed area of the lawn has been littered with an old broken toilet, plumbing parts and pipes, and grass and weeds and vines have all be growing up high around it all. Couldn't wait to dig into this, load stuff up into the cart, and run it down the hill and up the plywood ramp into our rented dumpster.

Just before starting this, my dad had told us to watch out for bees. Indeed. Bumble bees, yellow jackets, black wasps, yellow wasps, bees and wasps of all kinds were buzzing and boring the mountain of old nasty pink insulation. We poked it a bit, bees buzzed our heads for a closer look at us. We stood there, just looking. What to do what to do. Got the hose and soaked it down for a while. The bees thought it was raining I guess, so they took shelter elsewhere. When the hose stopped, the bees returned. I wanted to just set fire to the whole thing.

We kept poking at it, cautiously, using a rake to pull old insulation bats out onto the lawn. These bats often were buzzing inside with small clusters of bumble bees. Since getting attacked by yellow jackets last summer, I scare easily when a couple start circling low over my head. Erika, the bee whisperer, picked up the slack here, just moving calmly and slowly, pulling the stuff out. She's got a score to settle with this stuff (see the Crawling post from back in March for the reference). We would load up the cart, run it down the hill and into the dumpster, and come back for more. Lots more. Erika poke a bee, demonstrating that they're really quite docile, and it bit her on the head.

I think it took about an hour (everything takes "an hour"), but we emptied the shed and removed lots of the larger debris from around the outside of it: heating ducts, broken pipes, cracked toilet, plastic bags of linoleum shards. We even started shoveling away the pile of debris on the back patio. Eventually, we were just totally worn down and it was late, so we stopped and had a beer. Not a bad day's work!


We could hardly wait to get that first coat of green on the bathroom walls! But first, we had to get a coat of white on the ceiling. Pretty exciting! Lookin' good.

Transported the stone sink top down to the work table in the basement, mostly because it was nice and cool down there, but as it turned out, sanding this stuff standing up is much more comfortable than on your knees. First I went at it with some sanding screen wrapped around a block of wood to get out the grooves that the quarry saws had left in its surface. After I burned through a couple of those, I loaded up the little corner cat sander with some 120 grit pads and kept going. With this nice flat piece of stone laid out on this table, it was pretty easy to just sweep the sander back and forth, arcing up around the basin hole. I burned through three of those (saved one for rounding off the corners later), then loaded in some fine 220 grit and kept polishing. I couldn't stop. Veins and clouds were revealing themselves in the stone, like we were told they would. It felt smooth and looked beautiful. Could not stop running our palms over its surface. Last, Erika marked off how the corners should curve, and I sanded 'em to shape and rounded the long edges as well. Sink top ready to be epoxied into place!

Then we continued carting debris down to the dumpster. We even carted the old washer and drier out. We organized our mountainous burn pile by the fire pit, so now we've got a pile of small scraps in the pit, ready to go; a pile of slightly larger pieces, ready to be tossed into a burning fire; and a big pile of large floor boards, old joists, and old oak studs. All of which are completely loaded with old nails and screws. We almost tossed the ancient and funny-looking electric lawn mower that came with the house, but Erika convinced me to plug it in and give it a try. I did, and it works great, so we're keeping it.

Oh, I forgot to mention that before we left for the house in the morning, we went through our shed at home and packed whatever wasn't getting tossed, donated, or recycled, into the van.

Erika backed the van up to the back porch and we started unpacking our stuff into the now empty porch and the basement. Looking real nice.

We epoxied the stone top for the vanity in place. Hooray!


Happy Memorial Day! We brought over a load of plywood (the very same plywood that made up the dance floor for the wedding) and our lawn mower, and some plants. First, everyone in the bathroom gets second coats of paint. The masking tape pulled off a bunch of primer with it on the walls up near the ceiling. So we had to sand it down and re-prime that strip. But yeah, painted.

Then we removed the plastic sheeting from the floor and mopped up the dust so we could get the grout ready for sealing. While waiting for the floor to dry, we cut the first sheet of plywood for the subfloor between the bathroom and kitchen. Then we sponged grout sealer all over the bathroom floor. Then we cut a second piece of plywood while that dried. It dried nicely, so we left by 5 to go home and pack.

And pack and pack and pack and pack...

- John

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