Monday, July 28, 2008

Dirty Faces are Happy Faces!

Xan is smiling under there... really she is! The kid is fantastic and makes great choices on the site... Somehow she manages to stay cleaner than the rest of us though... I guess that makes her the boss!

We have alot of folks who are helping on this project and all of them have our thanks!
This is Michael who is a delight to be around on any day of the week... a newish father and even tempered and smart...

Duwayne, our local Contractor and wizard of the wierding ways of getting it done in the City of Paducah... He is great to work with and lives in a castle...
This is one of Duwayne's characters, ?Larry?, came to help with the back...
Corey, the demon with a sledgehammer! the son of Artist Friends who preceded us to the Arts District, he's a great soul to connect with... hopefully he'll have some sculpture at the house before too long...
Another one of Duwayne's regulars, Chris has found a treasure in the demolition of the back addition: a porcelain double flower pot!
Tristan is another one of our ETC. coffehouse finds... He could be at MIT, but instead he's getting down and dirty with with us in the growing heat of the Kentucy summer. This is a deep well...
James, a solid man who carries a cigar all day, came riding by on a bicycle one day and we've had stay on and on... This guy has a finely tuned sense of humor and a soft spot for his children like you wouldn't believe!
Kevin! What can I say about mister white? He slides by as a volunteer (!) occasionally and pitches right in... a brilliant lover of food and fine guitars- always welcome!

We have some of the dirtiest faces smiling at this project!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Making it Official! City Hall Joy!

After many many visits to the building department and many revisions with David to accommodate all of the different city obligations, state obligations, and state obligations to various codes that may or may not apply to an Artists Studio home...

We have actually received the building permit!

April has done the thing that she does that creates all of the official presence for the project in all of the right places, (Thank you April), and she presses a special button that creates a huge sucking noise as the money disappears from the checking account to pay for permits...


Then she hands us some papers and we are go to go!

Yippee!




Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rocket Girl, or out of the Burrito...


This is Xan as the bed burrito... she has to get up especially early so that she can make it to Rocket Camp at the Paducah Challenger Center...

This is five minutes later and this,
is ten minutes later... She does, (as the story continues), actually get up, eat, and go to Rocket Camp where she learns all about the NASA space program and builds, in progressive strengths, five different rockets including the launching and parachute recovery of a raw egg! Twice! Same egg!

Here she is making the final presentation to the assembled and admiring parents on the last day:
Turns out that she was the 'Team Genius'... well, we could have told them that!

Discoveries...

"Discovery" is easily the most terrifying word that a homeowner can hear from their contractor... it means more time, more planning, more problem solving, more expense... at the very least!

When you are your own contractor it isn't any easier to make discoveries... so far we've done 'okay':

Discovery 1:

A postcard sent in 1941 that slid between the mantle piece and the brick, complete with a canceled stamp...

Discovery 2:

The Kitchen Fire...
on the ground floor in the right side kitchen there was a serious fire. It started at the stove and quickly engulfed the entire ceiling heating the room to the point where the walls on all sides were scorched five feet down.
The previous owner had simply put another layer of sheetrock over the damage, moving on, making no mention of it to the city.
When we had the rest of the sheetrock off we were relieved to discover that the tongue and groove saved the day! It kept the heat from getting into the joists or studs and so, after we lose the charcoal, we still have complete structural integrity... whew!

Discovery 3:

The Trivet of Whompaquanesset
We discovered the ancient burial site of this regional artifact when we looked between the tongue and groove sheathing and the flue chimeny.

Discovery 4:

Strength in the Attic...
If you look past the knob and tube wiring that was still in use when the building was shut down by the City, and past the feeble attempt at blown in insulation, you will notice that there is great structural health in the way that the roof is supported and the size of the weight bearing cross members!

Discovery 5:

Movement in the structural brick...
This little space between the original (non-weight-bearing) wall and the outer wall means that the brick has moved out of plumb. Not the best thing. Not so severe that we have great concern but it does lead to further investigations.
We found the flaw is in the very upper left side of the building and that it was repaired some time in the late 60's (mortar type and technique) and hasn't moved since then, so, if we don't blow it things should be fine... should be...

Discovery 6:
Sometimes it's a good idea to sit down with a lovely piece of toast and figure out what to do about all of the discoveries of the day...

Monday, July 7, 2008

"Layers" or unbuilding the building...




If we were working on one of them new-fangled buildings (made since WW II) we'd be able to tell you about the fun knocking-down-walls story of demolition... Because we are working on the1900's building we have a different tale to tell- a tale of layers!

Good News!

Our building was built very well and has literally lasted through both floods and fire (more on that discovery later) and poor decorating judgments!

Bad News!

Our building was built very well and has lived a very long and productive life that each succeeding generation of folks has added to in the form of another layer on the walls.

Each wall surface (both sides of each wall) in absolutely every place in the structure, was framed with Fir and then sheathed with tongue-and-groove 3/4" thick pine boards. Then, for about 50 years people would change the wallpaper about every two weeks (not really but the papers layer is impressively thick in some places). Then sheetrock seemed like a good idea so that was added, sometimes more than once, on the same surface... Then, mostly is seems in the 1980's, they felt that putting crappy paneling up would be ultimate insult to this very fine old lady.

And so we get to peel away the layers...








the paneled wall











Xan taking off the paneling to expose the sheetrock...






















Michael creating a starting point to get between the sheetrock and the next layer...















Xan peeling away the sheetrock to reveal the wall paper...










Xan peeling away the wallpaper to get to the tongue and groove sheathing...
















Keith (a local wood artist who came by and volunteered several hard hours!!! Thanks!!!) attacking the tongue and groove...














Tristan, with the Sawzall, surgically reducing one of the walls into manageable sections... this old wood is very dense and heavy...














Revealing the brick that was hiding underneath all of those layers...







We've been saving little samples of some of the different layers that we've found.

These are the wall papers from different eras and a post card from 1941 that I found behind one of the mantels.

In our 3400 square foot space there are 12,740 square feet of these layered surfaces to undo...

Xan was intrigued the for the first 100 square feet or so and one of the first rules of the construction world is that if you have to do anything over and over again, it stops being cool very quickly!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Social Occasion to share...


Victoria and I had the amazing good fortune of meeting and spending time with Laura and Bianca when we were here in Paducah during our first trip... Laura is a real estate agent that showed us a bucket load of properties in two days with all of the crawling around under houses and into attics that I do; Bianca is her assistant who magically produced the full disclosure forms for almost all the properties...
Victoria, the the manner that she has of asking people the most intimate and direct questions and have them answer her, asked about their personal relationship and, as the conversation took it's inevitable turn toward whats-it-like-here-in-Paducah, we found out that they were going to be married in June!

Somehow, (Somehow! Victoria's charm is how!), we were included on the guest list and received an invitation to this wedding... We made a traditional gift of bread, baked with shaved dark chocolate and toasted pecans inside, so that they could begin their new life in the 'breaking of bread' and nourishing each other...

Xan wrapped our gift of 'the conversation' goblets stunningly taping to the top a great fortune that we'd found at the end of a dinner with Gretchen...

The wedding started with a gathering on the upstairs plaza of the new Arts Center... this little town did an amazing thing with this building! We were under a tent but looking east over the Ohio river and Illinois about a mile away... beautiful sky, slanting light...

The ceremony was opened with a sage smoke purification and some drumming, followed by a chant to gather the energy of the assembled (that's us) and bring it forward to create a space of honor and sanctity for the wedding party...

Please remember that we are telling a story that occurs in Western Kentucky!

The wedding itself was simple and joyous with the families of both espoused in from distant places... here are some photos of the reception...

Gretchen and Xan

The room, done in an asian theme, with this chandelier that was made by sewing thread through the centers of white rose petals!!!
Along with all of the other things that Laura and Bianca did, they grew these flowers and made this hanging themselves...


the cake... the couple...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A busy Wednesday...



This Wednesday began like any other here... up around 5:20 and working on the taxes for a few hours before waking Xan...



At 8 am we read aloud for half-an-hour on the couch in the coffee house
At 8:30 am we met with Caryl Fallert who has offered her space for the potluck that we are having for Mark and Terry Smith (wildravens.net) who are visiting/shopping the Artist relocation program
At 9:00 am we met with our banker, Larry Rudolph, and we signed the papers for our loan!
At 10:30 am we were at City Hall with the 'before and after' drawings for David Flowers and he gave us permission to begin demolition!!!


At 11:15 we began demolition on our new house...

Now we wait...

Xan is cutting in the hole for the new Deadbolt lock that we've added in the front door... handily using her chisel and hammer!

This is one of the last things that we can do before the building permit clears City Hall... we aren't supposed to do anything that resembles demolition until the plans are reviewed and we are given a 'green light'.











This is April at the Permit Desk in City Hall, and here I am watching her do her magic with the reams of papers and walkie talkies and wall-mounted scheduling charts and phones... We are being told that our project is so small and, because we are not changing the outside of the building (especially the side that faces the street) we should have very little impact on the system in general.

We are being told that we can expect things in the middle of next week...

Now we wait.

Waiting involves revising floor plans (based on 'discovery'- what is really under the wall covering...) and doing the taxes, and doing math for load bearing (ovens in the middle of upstairs floors), and work time tables... you know waiting!

Waiting also involves taking the old fishing gear that I stuck in the van and getting hooks and sinkers and the old sliced turkey and teaching Xan how to fish on the river!


As it turns out, we were there on the Barge with 'Shorty' and Terry and a young couple (at the far end) and aside from the miniature catfish that Terry pulled in, Xan was the only one who caught a fish!

This is a 1-1/4 pound white perch that Shorty says he'd eat if he were hungry enough... but...












We took it home and learned how to clean it and we cooked it up with all sorts of wonderful seasonings on it and decided... Shorty was right!

Tofu and Broccoli for dinner!

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Post Clean-Up walk-through

This is my first attempt to use the video on the little camera... hopefully I'll get a bit better as this progresses... actually I'm hoping that Xan wants to do this!
video
I goofed up and here is the other half of the walk through...
video
This is after we pulled out the 2 refridgerators, 3 stoves, 4 water heaters, 4 furnaces, 2 metal kitchen sinks sets (you remember the ones from the '50's with the metal cabinets?) and any other recycleable metal parts that we could no longer use.

We loaded the metals onto the giant trailer and the word went out through the magical town drum system and, by the time that DuWayne came to haul it away to the dump, four pick ups almost clean us out and put dinner on the tables of four households we won't even see! ($10-25 per appliance, depending on the weight).

You can finally see what we are starting with. Already it looks more possible...

Ready -Aim -Fire!


This is Xan on the second story porch with one of the many many bags of items to donate... we have an idea that rather than walk through the house and down the stairs 23 times we are going to launch these puppies down to the road side....
Ready, aim, Fire!

We bought the alligator super tough contractor grade bags and they made the vertical transitions without any unsightly bursting or spillage!

We dropped of 23 bags of reusable clothing and shoes from 4 households. These folks had a lot of wardrobe choices! We did not pass forward any 'junk'- there was everything from polo shirts to Hot Topic rock band tee shirts; everything from pink high heels to sturdy work boots...

As we cleaned up there were no pots and pans, no dishes, no utensils... very little of that part of the household was left behind.

I do get the impression that these folks actually 'moved' and weren't run out in the middle of the night...