21 October 2007

Halloween

This is what I would buy if I had lots of disposable income. I just love it! I would even use it all the time.


Buy it here.

20 October 2007

Ebay Fraud

Well, it looks like the four furniture pieces I "won" last week won't be coming home with me. The seller says "ebay screwed up". "There was supposed to be a minimum on that auction". Whatever. This is a relative newbie who usually sells used children's clothing. She referred me to her sister who owned the furniture in question and I didn't get any more from her than the above. She was supposed to call me back the next night but didn't. Now her answering machine isn't working. The seller does not have a phone listed with ebay or on Zabasearch. (Stupid cell phones!)

Today I get a message from ebay that there is a Dispute that I need to address. These two have decided to lie to ebay and tell them that we have mutually decided to ignore the auction and go our separate ways. Au contraire! I have not been consulted in this. They have not written or talked to me since Tuesday night and at that time I was not told I could not have the furniture--just that they needed to work something out with ebay. Hah! Typical seller's remorse. They screwed up and I got a fabulous deal and they don't want me to enjoy it. So I told ebay that we did NOT have any agreement and will wait to see what this scheming couple comes up with next. Suffice it to say, I will not be getting any new furniture.

Well, there are some estate sales this weekend...

13 October 2007

Finally, Some Furniture!

On my lunch hour on Thursday I was browsing Antiques on Ebay and decided to filter to local auctions. Found a four-piece set of two loveseats and a platform rocker and side chair that didn't have much action and put in a $400 bid. To my surprise the next day I had won! And the best part--only $305! I will be calling the party tomorrow to arrange pickup or delivery but now have the problem of where to put these pieces. My dining room has a bathtub and a stove in it and my parlor has the dining set in it. The second parlor, where I am currently typing this, is more of a storage area. Guess I'll be moving the boxes back to the attic.

27 September 2007

A Frame Up

Here's something I just did that's sort of house related. It will go IN my house on my wall so I guess it counts.


Here is the picture frame that my family has had since the 1960's. Someone had painted it with gold paint and it surrounded a paint by number that my Dad did. It fell to me, and not being exactly my taste (the picture) they were separated.


I recently acquired a wonderful photograph and decided this was the perfect frame for it. I started stripping the frame.

It was a very sunny day and you can't really see it, but there is an inner band of plaster interlocking circles, a band of white oak, another band of plaster with leaves, and a band of red oak. It's a beautiful frame.





It's also missing some large chunks of the plaster leaves. The worst spot is in the first picture. After I got the paint off the oak I started restoring the plaster. First I tried modeling the missing pieces with clay, but that didn't work, so back to the internet. I found this mold-making stuff and sent for it.

This stuff is wonderful! You get equal pieces from each jar and squeeze them quickly together and press them on whatever you want to make a mold of. It doesn't stick to it and turns into a rubbery mold that can be peeled off. I put it over a good section of the leaves and pressed it well into the carving and let it dry.

That's the mold on the right. Then I pressed some Paper Clay into the void of the missing plaster and lined up the mold and pressed it into the clay. It worked great! You can see a little of the pattern in the picture above. Sorry for the bad pictures. I can take close ups with this camera but the view finder doesn't show what I'm actually snapping.



Here's the mold and the impression.


This is the clay I used. It air drys and is easy to use and not sticky.
I went around the frame and repaired some other small missing chunks and let it dry. Then I painted it with Old Gold acrylic paint and put semi-gloss on the oak.
The next part was the hardest. I needed a specially cut mat so didn't want to attempt it myself. I had to go to three places before I found a decent price and a store that was open on Friday night at 8:00. I wanted a deep red or green because of the yellow tones of the photograph and the frame, but they didn't have the color I wanted in their custom cut inventory, so I chose the same color in a really wild plush that looks like the old Victorian photo albums, which is very cool, though not what I thought would have been used to mat a photo in the 1870's. I am really pleased with the way it turned out though it cost almost $45!




Can you tell which side of the frame had the repair?

Right here!


I wish I knew who these people were. That standing woman looks so familiar. The woman I bought it from (for $2!) is from around Lansing, Michigan and collects Victorian photographs. I will try to get a better picture later.
Isn't that a great picture? I have never seen such a large one of a group before from that era.

Hey! I'm Back!

After a long dry spell--in more ways than one--I am finally gainfully employed again and starting to feel like working on things around the house. I didn't want to start anything that might escalate into having to spend money this summer so I didn't do anything.

After the initial excitement of March, the summer was pretty uneventful around the neighborhood. A tree the city planted in our early Spring warm spell slowly died over the long, hot, dry summer, even with me giving it gallons of water, and is standing there on the terrace mocking me in all it's bare, brown glory. At least no one will be able to tell it's dead during the winter. When I called the city to replace it they said they only plant trees in the Spring. I told the woman that that's contrary to all I have read about how trees thrive and grow and that Fall would be a perfect time to replace it. No dice. It was a Pyrus calleryana Cleveland Select. An ornamental pear tree. It would have been beautiful in the Spring. Oh well, hopefully they will replace like for like.

Being on the Historic Preservation Commission has been interesting and also stressful at times. There is a lot going on in this town--some good, and some bad, and I enjoy having a say in what happens.

I didn't mention it before, but I quit my job last October because my boss was a crook and a liar and I got tired of being all stressed out. That was before I started this blog. This teflon snake started out by being charming and getting me all involved in the new business he was starting up and then when money started coming in he started "appropriating" more and more of it until we weren't paying the IRS, the subcontractors, employee's commissions, you name it. Who were getting paid were plastic surgeons, Harley dealerships, health clubs, girlfriends, restauranteurs, etc. Lawsuits developed. After I quit, the sales manager, and some project managers and site managers quit and formed their own company. The former company folded in March and this guy has run away to California, towing his Jaguar and Harley behind. Last week I was contacted by a Sheriff's Department detective to write down everything I know about this guy and how he spent his company's money for the County Prosecutor. They want him. If they find him they will drag him back here to face his creditors. They may want to speak to me again. Since he also owes ME money, I will be more than happy to help!

Two of my cats died last month, Tigger and Tidbit, bringing me down to only eight in my little family. As I volunteer at a cat shelter I have an excellent opportunity to interview prospective candidates for additional family members. I brought a cute little guy home last night who doesn't have a name yet. (He does now--it's Ranger!)
He's about five months old and came from a Louisiana kitten rescue. He wouldn't stay still long enough for me to get a decent shot just now.

Oh, and this weekend I had another feculent deceased mammal stinking up my yard! A very large bloated possum just inside my front fence on its back in the garden. I really don't think it died there, but was dropped there by someone. Probably the same possum that has been visiting my cat food on the back porch all year. Anyway, since I discovered it on Sunday afternoon I started digging a hole for it. I am running out of places for graves and the ground was too hard and full of roots so I just put it on a shovel and deposited it back in the street. I had to wait until Monday to call the city to come get it. I had called last week for a skunk in the street and they got it the same day. They didn't pick up the possum. My windows were open and I had to smell that thing Monday night, too. I thought it was gone in the morning, but it had just deflated and sunk below the level of the curb so I couldn't see it. I emailed the city and complained and it was finally picked up Wednesday. I don't know what their problem was, but I had to give the woman who answered the phone on Monday my address three times and she was asking again when I told her I had to hang up because I was at work and people were starting to look at me.

OK, now I'm caught up. Not really house related, but the next post will be, sort of.

28 April 2007

Annual Rites of Spring

Today I finally girded my loins and decided to find out what was making the stink under my back porch that was so bad I could smell it through the walls in the basement. First I dug a big hole over by my neighbor's house--heh, heh--then moved the bale of straw that makes up one of the sides of my fancy under-the-porch cat shelter. IT WAS THE LARGEST, FATTEST POSSUM I HAD EVER SEEN!! I didn't get a picture because I wanted to get this feculent (to borrow a word from Greg at the Petch House) thing in the ground. The hole wasn't big enough so I had to stand next to this oozing stinking thing and dig some more. I folded it into the hole--it had lost its rigor--and covered it up. I can still smell it through the ground over there.




Here is Spot checking out the toy possum. The door to the space is standing open.

It still stunk under the porch so I raked out a lot of the straw that was under the possum and took it and one of the bales to the city recycle site. I was still smelling something so got a flashlight and peered in. Now I know where all those succulent suicidal squirrels ended up. Something had been digging up all my squirrel burials and carting away the remains for a while--now I know who.
It smells a lot better on the patio now.

In other news this is my Magnolia x Soulangiana or Tulip Tree as we call them here, today.


It should look like this right now.

That's not gonna happen this year because of this a few weeks ago.



All the buds that hadn't opened are filled with brown mush and are falling off the tree. At least the lilacs are doing great, and the Black Currant (ribes nigrum) smells wonderful. (That really helped with the smell of the feculent possum.)

11 April 2007

Global Warming?

Well, here we are 3 weeks after my last post when I was celebrating the return of Spring. Things were fine for about a week and then the temperature plunged again. The end of March brought another warming trend and I started cleaning out the gardens and brought out the patio furniture. I was preparing for a nice week of garden prep the week before Easter when the weather changed again. First lots of rain that percolated down to my basement floor, followed by snow. A few days later the snow was almost gone and the weather was warming again.

Then today! The following pictures were taken from my back porch.




See all the sad little clumps of bulbs out there? A few days ago I had lots of daffodils and hyacinths standing proud. I was going to cut them yesterday because they were looking sad after the first bout of snow had knocked them down, but didn't. When I saw the snow today I suited up and went out there and cut all I could find.
I wait all year for this season and am not going to let this stupid snow ruin it for me! Hopefully the buds on the lilacs haven't been frosted.
There are some blue hyacinths in the middle that you can't see.

17 March 2007

The Natives Are Restless

The other day I posted about all the neighbors coming out of hibernation and carrying on in the streets. Well, I didn't find out until two days later, but that night there was a shooting in the next block. Probably involved some of those baggy pantsed persons I saw all over the street. I was not at home at the time or would probably have heard the shot.

Today I was reading in the kitchen and heard a bullhorn. I started looking out windows and saw police vans and cars parked all over the next block, where the shooting had been. They hauled someone off. It's going to be a noisy summer.

One of the problems with my urban neighborhood is constantly revolving renters. For a few months it will be quiet, then the bad ones move in and bring all their friends and it's a constant parade of noise and litter until they get evicted for non-payment. In the houses that I can see from my corner lot, probably only 5 of them are owner-occupied.

I'll be keeping the police number by the phone.

15 March 2007

The Groundhog Was Right!

Monday it was finally Spring in West Michigan. 70 degrees and sunny. A lot of the snow melted and mud was everywhere. I even saw worms. Birds were singing. Neighborhood children were screaming. I even saw people with their shirts off. (Of course their pants were almost off, too, and I could see their stupid underwear.)

I got busy with the clippers and started my Spring pruning. It's still a little early to start raking, so I'll wait until the leaves can dry out some more and the city compost dump opens. I did repair my gate, which I ran into last week when we had a foot of snow. I broke a picket and bent the hinge, so off with the hinge and I banged it back flat and put it back on good as new.

I also rehung a garage light which has been off for several months now because it had a short and I had to rewire it. Then it was too cold to put it back up. Today it was a little cooler and overcast, but I got out again and did some more pruning. The cats are loving being outside after being cooped up for so long. They are racing around and smelling everything.

Snowdrops and crocus are blooming, too!

24 February 2007

Breaking News!

I know, I know, I haven't been posting anything in the past month. That's because I've been hibernating. I haven't wanted to work on the stairwell ceiling because it's to the sanding point--and I just hate sanding drywall compound. I'm going to have to grit my teeth, get out the plastic sheeting, and just do it.

On another note--my news is that I was just appointed by the City Commission to a three-year term on the Historic Preservation Commission!! I have been trying to get on this commission for 20 years! I don't know why I want to be on the commission people love to hate, but it's a good way to meet people and to make a difference. Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy ride!
For those people who like to look at pictures, here are some of my children. Yes, I'm one of THOSE PEOPLE.


Beezer, Spot, Tommy, & Tigger destroying a catnip plant.
Purrcey killing the Sunday paper.
Tidbit
Tigger and Tommy
Beezer looking for something to spray.


Bertie playing with a mousie.
Misty looking soulful.
Not shown are Rover and Loki .

28 January 2007

The Rest of the Lights

This beauty has been installed in my ugly upstairs bathroom. It was originally in the sunporch of the house I lived in from age 5 to age 17. It was a Colonial Revival with a great sunporch with this chandelier and wall sconces to match. There was a wonderful pendant in the upstairs hall outside my bedroom door that I took, too. We sold the house to the grade school across the street and they tore it down! It was traumatic, but the neighborhood was going down and my parents were getting panicky and wanted to move. I was only 17 at the time, but knew that I didn't want salvagers taking these. I should have removed all the sconces, too, but wasn't as bold as I am now. This chandelier spent about 30 years gracing my grandparent's retirement home in Osyka, MS with the understanding that when the time came, it would be mine.

I had already hung a crystal chandelier in the dining room and couldn't figure out a prominent place for this one so decided to hang it in the bathroom. I think it looks great. Gives the joint some class.


This one is in the Morning Room, now being used as my bedroom until the Master Bedroom is ready. I got one like it with pansies and roses for that room. They are from JC Penney and are huge. They were having a 1/2 price sale last Spring and it was too good to pass up.

I just have one more bedroom to buy a fixture for. That one has a Winnie the Pooh light in it now from the FO. I'm not sure what the theme of that room will be yet, so will keep my eyes open for something unusual.

I Had a Senior Moment Yesterday

I forgot to show the window I had made for the place where the '50's door had been removed. Here it is with a shot of the interior of the stairwell.




I called the only window-maker in town, the one who is supposed to be so meticulous and works on all the historic homes to replicate my existing arched window for the missing one and make the large picture window. The idiot made all the measurements and never came back to measure again, then made the window wider and shorter than the other, and with 10 lights instead of 12!! Didn't notice until they were gone after the installation and I looked at both windows from inside. Of course, they volunteered to re-do it, but it was the end of October and I had already closed up the wall around it and didn't want to have the area open for an unknown amount of time, so I settled on them making a new basement window frame for free. Then I discovered that they didn't make the outside window sill stick out far enough to put the molding piece under it. They also hadn't made the inside window frame correctly.
I made repeated calls and the owner was always--get this--vacationing in Las Vegas. I finally drove over there one day and dropped off the bad frame and a tracing of the part they had done wrong and told them to deliver the new one. FINALLY one day I got the call. They sent over a brand new employee who had never talked to me before and who didn't know I had waited over 6 months for these parts. He said he was the Customer Service Representative. Hah. I told him what I thought of the service and of the part he had brought over that still wasn't right. He got all upset and wondered why I was. He promised to bring me the correctly made piece, but that never happened. Needless to say, I will be looking for another window-maker for my kitchen windows.

Before and After

Here is the Second Parlor or "Music Room" (as was written on the fuse box) wonderful sputnik ceiling fixture. I actually traded this ugly thing to our local lighting store with some other pieces to get a beautiful hanging fixture for the stairwell I'm working on right now.


Here is the beautiful brass fixture I replaced it with. I just love the (new) shades. Sorry you can't see them. I can't take good pictures in this room. The shades are clear at the top and frosted at the bottom and I used clear light bulbs.

When I knocked out the plug in the First Parlor ceiling I expected to find wires. No such luck! Just a gas pipe, so I hung the chandelier on a nail until I get around to running wire and putting in a box and switch. This is a "created" piece from unused old parts from a defunct lighting store. I think he did a pretty good job of capturing the Victorian spirit.

This job will be quite involved. I have to remove the door below and turn it back into a wall. This goes to the vestibule. Then I have to break out the wall behind the piano which was originally the archway into the Second Parlor. I had figured out the missing archway early on, but it took a while to understand the original configuration of these three rooms. That door woodwork always bothered me. It is put up sloppily and the door doesn't fit right, and there are two doors opening into the vestibule as well as the front door. That's not right.
The downstairs bathroom door is also missing. When I get done with this I will have an extra door. Bingo!
This new wall is directly in line with the studs in the ceiling so it should be easy to run the wire and put in the switch, as everything will be torn up anyway.
So guests will be entering the vestibule and then into the Second Parlor and on through the archway into the First Parlor or the Dining Room. I'd like to splurge and put a marble floor in the vestibule since it's not that large. I should be able to buy remainders if I'm lucky.

The Invisible Stained Glass Window

Right after we removed the cement steps that used to provide access to the second floor when it was a separate apartment, we went to work rebuilding the wall and replacing the windows that had been removed to create this entrance.






These are the lovely (dated 1959) windows that were put in when our stained glass window was hocked. The story we heard was that the people that were attempting to buy the house, while living in it, defaulted on their loan and then hocked all the stained glass--and probably everything else of value, like the chandeliers and sconces. Compare this pic to the 1929 pic in the above link to see what the stained glass window looked like. This is what we put in as a "placeholder".

Someday when I can remortgage the house again maybe I'll have a new window built. I would like to learn the stained glass technique myself and replace the small oval stained glass window. (It looks like this window has a pattern in the 1929 pic, though why someone would put in a stained glass window that cannot be enjoyed from the inside is beyond me.) For now you just have to squint and imagine a full-blown Victorian swirls-and-jewels-and-rainbow glass window up there.

Shingling a Shirtwaist



Here is a project I did a few years ago. This corner of the house had still not been painted (after 11 years!) and it bugged me. I borrowed two stages of scaffolding, so could not go all the way to the top, but did replace the old water-rotted sheathing and shingles. If that link worked it will take you back to a before pic of this area.


I took off the rotted shingles with my handy shingle removing tool and the bottom sheathing board. There was an extensive sparrow condo behind it. This board forms the flare of the shirtwaist style second floor and also presented a tricky mitered and flared corner. After many trips up and down the scaffolding to the table saw in the garage, measuring each piece and then cutting it to fit I am really proud of the finished product.
The replacement of the remainder of the bad shingles and the painting was accomplished in Spring of 2006.