Monday, June 23, 2008

Successfully Rested

After a while, we began to notice the distance between the present time and the time that was spent on the house. And, that there is a limited amount of time from the present to the time by which we've been expecting to accomplish certain things. But in the meantime, berries!

The wine berries are back in bloom! As soon as the first ones popped, Erika was on it. The tart goodness of summer. There were several in my cereal this morning. The cherry tree that we saw blooming south of the double walnut is covered with shiny red cherries. Saturday, we took a ladder back there and picked about two quarts worth. They're small and very sweet. It's awesome.

For the past couple of months, we've been outside until dark. The spring veggies are out or on their way out, the summer ones are all in various states of growth, and fall plantings are in our conversations. Our main compost pile is hot and active, the experimental compost bed is also hot and active and winter rye seeds are growing where I spread them on top (and potatoes are stashed deep inside). Rain barrels have been full, emptied, and replenished, and experimental dig-less bed idea in the front has sprouted cantaloupe. Our turnip take is legendary in its own time.

So having had an excellent spring and arriving at summer with food and land in satisfactory states, we took up tape measure and mitre saw once again.

Some months ago, we actually came up with the design idea for how we were going to trim-out where the ceiling meets the walls in the dining and living rooms, as well as the vertical corners. We even bought the materials. So Friday night we were ready to go. Or at least ready to spend the night figuring out the details and finding a place to start. Let me give you the basic ideas of the design:

For the vertical corners of the rooms, we'll use "cove" moulding. It's a strip of wood with a 90 degree angle in back and the front is concave. It fits into the corner of the room and softens the angle. We need moulding in the corners of the room because you can see the gap where the walls come together.

Same goes for where the ceiling meets the walls: gap. But instead of cove along the ceiling, we've decided on "door stop." If you look at the inside of your door frame, you'll see a two-inch-wide strip of wood. It's flat on one side (where the door stops against) and often decoratively scrolled on the other. It's about a half inch thick.

The design trick here is dealing with the points at which the cove and the door stop mouldings intersect. They don't match up incredibly well. So we decided to use a soapstone tile in those corners to interrupt the two different shapes. After much deliberation over details, patterns, and significances that we don't expect most people to notice, we settled on using these tiles only at intersections that occur along the oak posts.

For the soapstone tiles, we dug into the bucket of soapstone triangles that Erika found that day we were rummaging through the scrap pile at the quarry. Using epoxy, we glued several pairs of triangles together to make these three-inch by three-inch squares. Of course, these would only look good if they were buffed.

Sunday it was down to the basement, clamp a tile in the work bench, and buff the soapstone the same way we did for the bathroom sink top. Rounded the edges, too.




Back upstairs, we chose a tile for the first corner, tested the fit, then epoxied it in place. We used a few beads of super glue as well to hold it in place while the epoxy set.

We measured and cut the first piece of cove moulding. We're using oak to match the posts and beams for the cove pieces along the posts, but we're using pine in the other corners. We'll be painting the pine coves and ceiling mouldings the same color as the wall that they're on. The oak pieces along the posts will be treated the same as the posts and beams (oiled).

By the time we quit, there were two tiles in place and five pieces of moulding cut, two coves installed, and the rest had the first coat of paint on them. Today, another coat of paint and then we'll nail those up.

About 50 times yesterday I said, "man it feels really good to be working on the house again." I'm excited that we're finishing more stuff. It's nice to close gaps.

- John