Monday, January 7, 2008

And we're back!

Hope everyone had joyous celebrations! Not working on the house took a little getting used to, but we adapted to the temporary life of relaxation, warm weather, and good food quite well.

John says:

Friday night we worked our way back to stride and built and installed two dining room ceiling panels along the beam.

Then Saturday. With the van down for the count (front and rear seals, anyone?) and the rabbit in need of down time so that I can swap out the dangerously worn axles, cv joints, front and rear struts, and repair one of the brake calipers, we have been in desperate need of a vehicle. We've been considering getting a small pickup for hauling building materials, firewood, and eventually manure and compost in addition to some commuter duties. It was do or die (and if you've taken a ride in the rabbit lately, you know I'm not exaggerating), so we spent most of Saturday inspecting and negotiating in Richmond. We drove home in a cute little Nissan getting 25 miles per gallon. Not bad for a truck. It's also a more comfortable drive than what we're used to.

By 5 o'clock, we were back to selecting, measuring, marking, cutting, marking, transposing, drilling, and installing ceiling panels. We finished three more panels (along the outer edge of the room) and even got the first panel along the inner edge installed. We made something of that Saturday after all!

Erika says:


We knew Sunday needed to be big. Accordingly, we started the day by procrastinating: a short walk around our land, practicing our version of tree identification, which involves pointing at trees and saying "Wonder what that one is?" (Should have brought that tree and shrub field guide we got for Christmas. Next time.) Then a trip to the hardware store, then oatmeal. Ready to go.

First task was to cut the weirdest panel in the whole dining room ceiling, an L-shape with a notch in it that wraps around the end of one wall and abuts the basement door. Though it was a challenge to our spatial comprehension skills, we managed to do it without cutting backwards, like we did that time in the kitchen ceiling. We use homemade cardinal directions when discussing these ceiling panels: Heatmor, walnut tree, beam and bathroom. They roughly correspond to north, south, east, west. Try it!

Took a couple of dry-fits, trimmings, and a modification to the end of that wall, but we got it to fit. Oh yeah, we'd put up a couple of nailers for it too. And we hadn't painted them black, like we did with the others—we were testing the theory that the black paint wasn't really necessary.

One piece left for the dining room! A simple rectangle. And we totally botched it. Well, I exaggerate. But it is a little short (meaning the seam along the beam is funky), and even worse, I marked and drilled a whole bunch of extra screw holes that I shouldn't have—they don't match our pattern and they don't even correspond to anything we can screw into. What th'? I plead temporary insanity. John says we can put plugs in them; I dream of just replacing the whole stinking panel.

Oh yeah—the black paint IS necessary to make those 1/8-inch gaps along seams look decent. Rather than waiting for paint to dry on this one, we used a Sharpie. Hee hee.

Anyway…dining room is done!

We hardly took any time to admire it; we just busted into the living room and started moving furniture and plants out. This one is our last ceiling. Can you believe that? After rigorous training in the dining room, we're ready to plaster our skills all over the living room. (By the way, we are officially underway with the January Challenge. We are going to finish this phase of renovation—yes we are—by February 1. We have a timeline and everything. Our first goal is to finish the living room ceiling by end of day on Friday.)

Off to a good start—we measured, cut and installed all the nailers in the living room in 90 minutes! We worked like caffeinated robots. Then John took apart the ceiling light while I painted black on the joists and nailers. By 8pm we were looking through our remaining plywood pieces to choose some nice dark ones for this room's center stripe. Cut the first two pieces, put the holes in the first one and popped it up there. Whew!

Sat on the couch and contemplated everything. In the dining and living room were deep drifts of sawdust, dozens of small hand tools, several extension cords, two ladders, stacks of 4x8' plywood sheets plus a bunch of scrap pieces, long-suffering house plants, and in the middle of it all, our stereo, playing Stevie Wonder.

A Room Full of Ceiling Nailers in Record Time:

1. Mark your joists and measure your gaps

2. Cut 'em up!

3. Start your screws...

4. Screw 'em in!

5. Paint 'em black!

We've done this (minus the black painting) for every ceiling in the house. It usually takes us a couple of nights after work, but this time we rocked it. As has been said here before, once again we master something just as we're leaving it behind.

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