Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Happy New Year, and I hope everyone had good holidays! Our first Christmas at the Four Mile House was a lot of fun; we hosted a family party on Christmas Eve and our eighth annual New Year's Eve shindig. The kittens (now a fortnight shy of five months old!) seemed perplexed by all of the festivities, but they did appreciate our putting up some interior trees so they could practice climbing. We took pictures of our various decorations (and of some of the tree-scaling attempts), and I'll try to post them at some point soon.

Low points in homeownership included our first major emergency purchase: a new hot water heater, about four days before Christmas. The inspector had told us that it was thirteen years old and therefore past its prime, so we were expecting to have to replace it eventually, but the timing was really impeccable. Our new one works well, but it's about fifteen gallons smaller than the last one (apparently they don't make 65-gallon ones anymore?) so we run out of water somewhat faster. Oh well, though. It encourages one to conserve and take shorter showers. :)

I've made some significant strides on the attic work recently; most of the first tape and/or mud layer is complete, and I've begun putting up corner bead (Adam got a drill for his 30th birthday, which helps). We're going to need a tall ladder or some kind of scaffolding to finish the walls and ceiling in the stairwell, but I expect to be done soon. It's really an amazing feeling to look at all the progress that's been made. It's not the best job ever--I expect to have to attempt a skim coat once I'm done, because those walls are going to be wavy--but considering that I'd never held a taping knife in my life before this, I think I've done all right.

I've been trying to be responsible and keep my urges to start new projects under control, and I've mostly been successful. It helps that it's been too cold to work on paint stripping in the annex, so I've been able to channel my effort into the attic. This is not to say that there have been no temptations, though. ;-)

Last night, I was looking at the hideous fake wood paneling in our bedroom, and I noticed that the panel on top of the alleged sealed closet was loose. So, of course it was incumbent upon me to use a luggage tag as a makeshift prybar and pull the panel away from the wall (and if fate hadn't wanted me to do so, it wouldn't have made it so easy). :) The previous owners were right: there is a closet behind there, but it's open. The only thing sealing it from us is the quarter inch of pressed board making up the walls. There's a significant amount of space back there; the FWP is nailed to two-by-fours with the "four" part facing outward, not just thin strips attached to the wall, like I thought it would be.

The closet unfortunately didn't seem to have a door--I don't know what possessed past owners to get rid of most of the beautiful five-panel doors and replace them with ugly, plain hollow-core college dorm doors--but it did contain some old wood that appeared to be trim. The trim was still up around the doorway as well. Adam said he saw some sort of opening cut out in the closet wall, but I don't know if it was an old window or plaster damage or what. I wasn't able to see the fireplace we suspect is behind there, but the closet was interesting enough.

We did put the panel back into place, but seeing what's behind it was pretty exciting. When we take the paneling down in there, it's going to be a completely different room. Part of me can't wait, but part of me is pretty nervous. It's going to be a big job. In the space, I was able to see some of the ceiling above the acoustic tiles, and it was nothing but exposed lath. :( Then again, I don't expect much of the plaster above the dropped ceilings to be in good shape. When we redo the room, we're going to have to commit to fixing whatever ugliness is behind the paneling and the dropped ceiling. It's going to be hard, but at least it will be better than what we have now, which is bedrooms with a hunting cabin's walls and a bowling alley's ceilings. We have a house that's more than a century old, and I'd rather do the work to reflect that than live in a cheap 1970s-era cover-up job.