Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Ghosts of Wallpaper Past

Zaphod told me (Fenchurch) that he had found a box of old wallpaper, and I got excited hoping for peacocks.

Alas, no peacocks.  But some (hideous) boats and plaid, plus stripes of many colors and some little pink flowers.  And lots of textured off-white.

Samples available if anything catches your eye.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Fenchurch responds to Readers

How is Zaphod's bathroom coming along? Is this on 1st or 2nd floor? Does one bathe before they come and then bring their own porta-potti? (Just an idea.)
~~ Flying Eagle
Bathroom privileges?
~~ Anonymous

Dear Flying Eagle and Anonymous,

Work on Fenchurch's bathroom (on the second floor) is temporarily on pause while Zaphod does other things like discovering (more) leaks in the basement, demolishing an old animal pen in a corner of the garage so he now has space to sort bolts and brackets and nails in peace, and contriving a pulley system for his ladder collection.  (I think the second attempt came out rather well; the first was liable to decapitate the unwary.  If at first you don't succeed...)

This leaves Highlands residents with 1 functional shower, 2 functional toilets and 5 functional sinks.  (I will send a congratulatory postcard to anyone who can guess the correct location of each sink.)  There is therefore no need to bring your own potty as all volunteers are permitted (and encouraged!) to use any of the functional facilities and to wash their hands before returning to work.

Sincerely yours,
~~ Fenchurch

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Welcome Guests!!

Highlands is ready to receive its first overnight guest. Anyone willing to scrape, screw, scrub or scramble is welcome to sleep on a lovely blue air mattress with blue sheets and a blue blanket on the daring black rug.

(While helping to reassemble the desk re-located from the family room downstairs, Zaphod said "I can't be sure you're not transforming this room back into hideous..." This would be a good time for you to stop talking, Zaphod...)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Bath for Fenchurch - Part 3: Tub Away

Fenchurch's leaking bathroom had a cast iron tub which was built into an alcove.  It was clearly going to take a great deal of effort to remove it, so Zaphod and Fenchurch opted to remove the shower walls in hopes that they could gain access to the troublesome pipes.

After a great deal of levering and nail pulling, they discovered that the pipes were plastered in on all four sides.  Additionally, an opening in the floor revealed that a couple of joists had been cut away to make room for cast iron waste pipes from the toilet.  Zaphod deemed the tub "structural" - somehow contributing to the support of the surrounding walls since the joists were clearly compromised.

Not only did the leaky pipes need to be identified and repaired, but the joists would need to be strengthened before the bathroom could be reassembled.

First, Zaphod and Fenchurch-Dad set up some supports in the dining room as a precaution.  "You can't support a house on 2 inches of framing," said Zaphod.  Trillian and Fenchurch agreed with him that, in principle, it was a bad idea for anyone or anything to come crashing through the dining room ceiling.

Then Zaphod and Fenchurch-Dad took sledge hammers to the tub and carried it out in buckets.

More floorboards came up revealing a patch work of "fixes" made to the compromised joists, one of which is clearly not attached to anything at one end and can be lifted with no resistance.

And this is the state of Fenchurch's bathroom today while work is ongoing in other areas of the house.

Posted by Fenchurch

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Bath for Fenchurch - Part 2: Carpet, Vinyl, Wood - Oh My

The logical first step in making a functional bath for Fenchurch was to find the source of the leak.

Ripping up ugly carpet can be very satisfying, so Fenchurch decided to share the experience with a friend who came to town to help out around the house.  (Fenchurch clearly knows how to show her guests a good time.)  Zaphod obligingly removed the fixtures (for sale, should you want them) to facilitate the ripping process.

Under the carpet there was a layer of vinyl, and around the tub, a clear plastic floor mat with little spikes, like the ones you see in offices.  Clearly we were not the first ones to notice a leak.

Fenchurch and friend used a heat gun to pull up the vinyl floor.  Fenchurch only "missed" and caused heat bubbling in the paint on a very small section of trim. 

After that, a section of plywood came up.  (Fenchurch was permitted to use a circular saw on the floor.  No one was injured, including the saw.)

Posted by Fenchurch.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Bath for Fenchurch - Part 1: The Peeing Problem

Highlands was listed as a 2.5 bathroom house.

The home inspector had warned that the floor in the bathroom that was earmarked for Fenchurch probably had a rotten floor, probably as a consequence of the rug.

On day 1, the plumber came and went through the house with Fenchurch to identify which of the bathrooms were really usable and which not.  They stood in the basement and watched water running down the outside of the cast iron waste stack.  Fenchurch decreed that all physical needs would have to be met elsewhere.

For Sale: The plumber believes these fixtures (toilet / sink) to be from the early 40s. We do not plan to re-use them.  Please get in touch if you would like to acquire them.

Posted by Fenchurch.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Zaphod Speaks the Truth (In Love)

You may recall from Blue Like Shag that we ripped up the "blue room" carpet leaving us at the mercy of the floorboard pirates and also with cold feet.  So Trillian, Frogstar, Fenchurch-Mom and I bundled down to the local Surplus & Salvage to see what we could find by way of replacement carpets.

Long story short, Fenchurch-Mom kept Frogstar entertained while Trillian and Fenchurch picked out a green carpet remnant for Benji-mouse and Frankie's playroom, several area rugs, and a large (13' x 14') piece of textured coffee-brown carpet.

Zaphod helped with the installation of the brown carpet where the blue had been, including levering the radiator up so the carpet could be fitted underneath.  Standing back to survey his work, he commented, "You've managed to transform this room to hideous."

After all the effort involved in laying the carpet out, Trillian and I hated to agree with him, but sometimes you just have to accept the truth.  So the brown carpet was re-rolled and laid out in the next room.  Where it has been deemed, if not "magnificent", at least "much better".

And as Zaphod reminds us, "You sleep with your eyes closed."

Monday, January 2, 2017

Burn, Baby. Burn.

It's been a busy day here at Highlands.  Fenchurch-Dad and Fenchurch-Mom came to visit and kick start their New Year's exercise program - by smashing out a cast iron tub and chasing Frogstar around the house, respectively.  Photos tomorrow.

In other news, one of our early home upgrades was a new wood fire chimney liner and Jotul Oslo wood stove.  For emergencies.

Like when the heating oil company forgets that you have two furnaces and two oil tanks and only fills one tank (the one NOT connected to the furnace for the main living and sleeping spaces).

Then everyone is sitting around after dinner complementing Fenchurch-Mom's chili ("Genuinely good." says Zaphod), and someone wonders aloud whether it really is cold in here or whether it's just them.  And the programmable digital thermostat is fussed over and much insulted before Zaphod asks the all-important question..."Is the tank empty?"

Fenchurch is aghast at the idea of 500+ gallons of heating oil being gone already ($$$). Trillian (always practical) descends to the basement and returns to confirm that the tank is, as suspected, empty.

"Can you call them?" whines Fenchurch.  "I'd just end up being snarky."  Trillian politely made the call. (Polite to both Fenchurch and the oil company.)

An hour later (8pm), the tank was filled and the furnace restarted, but by then, Fenchurch had declared it an emergency, lit the fire, made coffee and settled in to a place within feet of the blaze.

Posted by Fenchurch, by the fire.