Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Scary Garage

We have a roof!  I don't have any pictures yet.  We are heading out there today to check it out.  In the meantime, here's some details about the scary garage.

Buying a really old house is partly an exercise in archaeology.  You exhume little snippets from another person's life.  We found many such snippets in the scary garage.

One of my favorite passages from Daphne DeMaurier's Rebecca, sums it up perfectly:

Packing up.  The nagging worry of departure.  Lost keys, unwritten labels, tissue paper lying on the floor.  I hate it all.  Even now, when I have done so much of it, when I live, as the saying goes, in my boxes.  Even to-day, when shutting drawers and flinging wide a hotel wardrobe, or the impersonal shelves of a furnished villa, is a methodical matter of routine, I am aware of sadness, of a sense of loss.  Here I say, we have lived, we have been happy.  This has been ours, however brief the time.  Though two nights only have been spent beneath a roof, yet we leave something of ourselves behind. Nothing material, not a hair-pin on a dressing-table, not an empty bottle of Aspirin tablets, not a handkerchief beneath a pillow, but something indefinable, a moment of our lives, a though, a mood.  This house sheltered us, we spoke, we loved within those walls.  That was yesterday.  To-day we pass on, we see it no more, and we are different, changed in some infintesimal way.  We can never be quite the same again.

OK. This is perhaps a bit of a romanticized view of the mess left in the scary garage.

I didn't really go in here.  Larry and Mom poked around, but because the dirt was also strewn with oats, I figured there had to be some little creatures in there.  And at a minimum, I figured it was safer to wait until I had my tetanus booster.  To the right of the screen, you'll see a fishing net.  The pile of bags in the center are bags of concrete that got wet at some point and turned into solid blocks. 

The back corner was full of miscellaneous rusty tools, as well as an old wagon or cart of some sort. Some of the things we found are pretty cool, actually. We're going to figure out how to work them into the house as decoration or something later.

And here's what happens when a termite infestation goes untreated for over a decade.
We called in some assistance getting some of the junk out, and finished some more recently.  We pulled the garage doors down for safety purposes.
Mom raked through the dirt floor to get additional scraps of metal to give to the guy who was collecting it for scrap.  Once we removed all the garbage we figured out the wagon-looking thing is probably a forge.  It is so heavy we aren't exactly sure how we are going to move it.

We tried to demo the shelves at the back wall, but realized the 2x4's holding up the back wall are rotted out at the bottom.  We didn't know if they could handle the stress of demolishing the shelves.

We found some nifty rusty stuff out there including a lawn mower blade, a bit for a horse, more blacksmith tools, and a gigantic wrench.

Shout out to Bob Schaefer and his son Matt for helping us out with our rusty stuff.  They have been grinding some of our old tools to make them shiny and new again.  Last week Matt discovered one of our wrenches was marked.

 This serial number indicates that this wrench was included in a tool kit sold with a Model T Ford!

But to me, this padlock is by far the coolest thing we found in the scary garage.  Mom did some research and found out that this could be a fire brigade padlock from London.  Why a fire brigade padlock from London would be in the scary garage is anyone's guess.

That's all from Wisteria Bend Cottage for now.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Meet Stephen

Meet Stephen.

We found Stephen in an antique booth off the square in Fayetteville during antiques festival last fall. I found him the first weekend, but the dealer was asking an awful lot for this poor beat-up little table, so we didn't buy it.  But I thought about him all week and the next weekend the dealer was ready to negotiate.

Since the kitchen is so large and there isn't much functional counter space for food prep, we were initially thinking about an island with some barstools. But the rebirth of farmhouse style has also led to a rebirth of the farmhouse table instead of built-in islands.  I explained to the dealer my hesitation and he made me a deal: if I bought the table and fixed it up, but decided to go with the island instead, he would allow me to sell it out of his booth in the spring.  That sealed the deal for me, and much to Larry's chagrin, we drove back to WBC with this 9-foot table hanging out the back of our SUV and me in the front seat holding on to the legs for dear life so it didn't fall out on the road.  

Stephen had clearly been someone's garage work table.  There were paint spatters, oil stains, and nicks where someone cut just a little too deep with their saw blade.

So we set to work sanding down the old nasty finish to bring it back to life.

 After working our way from 80 grit sand paper up to 120, Stephen was looking pretty good.

Lo and behold, Stephen is also made of long-leaf pine, just like much of the rest of the house.

The next weekend we did a couple more layers with finer grit paper.

It was such a pretty day it was hard to go back to town. But by the end of the afternoon, we knew Stephen was ready for paint and stain.

Since there is already so much wood (and because it is really hard to get a good finish on turned legs), we decided to paint the bottom of the table to match the kitchen counters.  To make that process easier, we taped up the top with plastic so we could prime the base and legs with spray primer.

Over the past 4 weekends or so, I've been bathing the top in Waterlox.  It's supposed to soak into the wood and form a water-resistant coating.  And even though it isn't a stain per se, it also substantially deepened the color.

After about 4 layers of Waterlox, the top is ready for use as a kitchen island. As soon as we finish the inside cabinetry, we will probably do a coat of paint on the base and legs so the table ties in to the cabinets.

Here's the before and after side-by-side:

I love him!

Why Stephen, you ask?  Because it has worm holes!

That's all from Wisteria Bend for now.