Thursday, 8 July 2010

A Return to Stickiness...

It's been ages since my last post, but I have an airtight excuse.  It was, in effect, this fireplace and the house it was formerly attached to.

After passing the practical UK driving test (a story for another post, for sure), Chumley and I took custody of his 1911 semi (duplex) that was the bachelor pad B.C. (Before Claire.)  Since early May, I have been living a waking nightmare episode of "This Old House" in which Norm Abram keeps finding rotten skirting board after rotten skirting board as we have a looming move-in deadline.  I wake up afraid of flannel and low-rise work trousers.

Chumley's house had been occupied by tenants for the better part of the past six years, with some more careful than others.  In addition to the hideous Flintstones fireplace that soon became my own personal DIY albatross, we had a pathetic state of plastering, no attached floor covering, rotten skirting boards, rotten floor, and the funk of 40,000 years thanks to the smokers who vacated most recently.  One would have thought that they were smoking herring in here, based on the smell and the yellow ceilings.

In the past two months, I have personally busted out a fireplace, rewired a light fixture, rewired and replaced a door bell, and given myself a mild case of carpal tunnel syndrome by scrubbing an old oak floor once the devil's dustmongers (the plasterers) had sprayed it with pink tidbits, as well as everything else in the house.  I have scoured ebay for repro bargains, cried as I wrote a check to the carpenter, and thanked God I did not fall through the upstairs floor ala Tom Hanks in "The Money Pit."  These are things I thought I couldn't do, didn't want to do, and never want to do again. With every tradesman passing through, I required him to repeat the same mantra: "I've seen worse."  I found it coldly comforting.

Here are some life lessons I've picked up along the way: wood filler is awfully hard to get out of the hair.  Latex paint comes off your watch, but gloss paint isn't as forgiving.  And never add water to knotting compound, or else it will congeal in a sticky, brown mess you most likely saw back in school science lab.  No matter how desperate things get, do not imbibe the methylated mineral spirits unless your wish is a quick death.  Some days, a splash in my drink sounded like a great idea.

After move in, we are edging toward finality.  To give you an idea, here's the fireplace after we took the place retro:

Much more on this in posts to come, as the saga and our wallet unfolds...


CambridgeLady said...

Welcome back Claire! Love what you've done with the fireplace :)

Leah said...

Love that fireplace, now why couldn't you do that when you were my neighbor!

fondly from the 'hood!


Grace said...

Wow, what a transformation! The new fireplace is lovely. (Sorry, do you hate that word? Along with "proper", I used to get annoyed hearing how often these words were used. Sorta like how others use the word "like" after every second word, like.) Then, I find myself using them, I hope not as much though. I look forward to reading more about your views of owning a home here. We have yet to take that step.