Continuing Up

No doubt you’ve been wondering two things. No, not why I keep writing and why I share my journey all the time! You wonder How the floor in my future office is turning out and how those stairs are coming along! Of course.

Still drying.

Well, the office floor sat and dried a long time. We hoped it had filled in all the gaps. Then, a couple of days ago, Chris put in clear silicone gel. It’s now drying.

The white stuff needs to turn clear.

Once it clears and dries, he will put in clear gel or something. Then we will have a floor. Maybe it’s not what we envisioned, but it will be pretty.

More rails.

As for the stairs, the framework now goes all the way up.

Hey, it’s safer already! The rail shown below goes across the top here.

Chris has carefully marked where each of the rails will go. And he’s making them now.

Marks for what size metal rod goes where.

The first one he’s completed shows the pattern. There’s a large center piece, then another every four inches going both ways from there.

You can see the pattern here.

The small ones are either 1/2” or 3/4”, and there’s a subtle pattern. Depending on how wide a piece of railing is, there may be more or fewer small ones.

Just after the final piece was attached.

When it’s all done, he’ll paint everything black, then install it permanently. Just a couple of attachments using the acetylene torch will turn the whole thing into one piece and it can be attached to the stairs.

This welding has to be done outside, due to sparks that would eat the floor.

I hope you found these pictures as interesting as I did. It’s fun to see safety, creativity, and craftsmanship all come together this way!

We Need Sinks, ‘Cause It Stinks

Why you need p traps in your sinks, plus a new mantel

Happy Thursday. Wow, it’s already July! While we’ve had two in-progress sinks at the Pope House, it’s been a bit smelly. That’s because the helpful P traps are not in yet, so the little water barrier that keeps sewer gas in the sewer isn’t there. It’s not horrible, but we have incentive to finish the break room and office bathroom sinks sooner rather than later.

Installed but not connected yet.

Our hearts are in the right places. But our pipes are not, so the construction team is gonna have to figure out some PVC tricks to get everything up and running. In the meantime, it’s LOOKING pretty good.

The faucet looks good, even though Tubby’s faucet is gold and clashes. Tubby has the last laugh, though, because that faucet’s hooked up and works (enabling hand washing).

While we wait to solve the pipe problem, there’s still plenty to do. Chris has been finishing up on the flooring around the edges of the stairs, in preparation for finishing and trimming that area. That means it will be back to the welding machine to make the stair rails soon!

And all the wood for the trim in the reception area and my office has been cut. It’s all ready to go in, which will add a beautiful finishing touch. Speaking of finishing touches, we also have the next batch of epoxy ready to finish off the glass inserts in my office floor. This time, it’s going to work, by gosh!

The mantel, along with the trim that has not yet been nailed in place. The chair is my thinking area.

My mantel is installed and shining in its glory. Next for that area will be a cool hearth-like backing for my faux wood stove that I can’t wait to see come together. My whole office will be filled with one-of-a-kind works of decorative art at the rate things are going.

It’s Sanding Day! Time to Play with Broken Glass

Today is a day I’ve been waiting for a long, long time. The Big Sander has arrived, and the floors in my office and the front reception area are getting sanded. That also means that today’s the day we get to to our fun* arts and crafts project of putting pieces of broken glass in the holes in the floor to turn them into features.

Here you can see the glass before sorting.

I took some time on my lunch break to go through our can of glass pieces that used to be wine bottles and separate the really big pieces from the smaller ones. I also had to get rid of ones that still had the labels attached, since they didn’t get taken off before the smashing.

Lots of big shards of glass.

I was very careful not to get tiny shards in my fingers, but eventually I had nice piles of big chunks and smaller ones, which are what’s going in the floor. I’ll share how it comes out!

The smaller pieces of glass are in the container. Some may still be too big.

Meanwhile, Chris and Randy are wrangling with the Big and Little Sanders. Even after the first pass, the floors looked better.

Sanding in progress.

We think we will keep them the color they are, rather than staining them. It goes with our rustic theme, I think. Note that where you still see darker wood is where there are low spots in the floor. It is NOT even at all. After 115 years, it can be forgiven.

After the first pass.

I was so excited about the sanding that I took a movie. It’s probably not going to be a box-office hit, but it’s interesting to see how Chris does it.

Sanding Suna’s office.

Other renovation happenings are that Randy took the wallpaper down on the other upstairs room, the one that used to have giant hounds-tooth plaid in it. Lo and behold, that room also has plain shiplap walls. The other two had plaster, so I’d love to know why two bedrooms got plaster and two did not. I guess they were wallpapered all along.

Shiplap room, with view of future conference room, with plaster walls, through the door.

It’s a big day over here at the Hermits’ Rest, so you’ll be hearing more from me. I find it really handy to write all these happenings up, so I can refer to them later.

Looking toward the door to the balcony.

*Chris has let me know that my definition of fun is anything that I get to enjoy watching him do. So whenever I say, “This will be fun!” I mean, “This will be fun to me to watch you do!” His point is well taken.

We Are Preppers

…for floor refinishing, that is.

The big day is coming: the Big Sander is getting rented tomorrow and the rest of the downstairs floors are getting finished.

Reception room clean. Doorway is sealed from dust leakage.

But, yes, it takes a lot of prepping to get rooms ready to sand. Both the reception area and my office are now empty and the floors clean as we can get them.

Looking toward the front.

Chris had to carefully check for nails and other metal stuff, because we sure don’t want to break a rental sander.

Ladders are in my office to reach the air conditioner and seal it off tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Lee is slowly getting his office ready. He brought over his pretty gray rug that we’d been storing in the Hermit Haus conference room. He even put some of his things in his bookshelf. It’s good to see him excited.

Lee’s rug.

Tomorrow should be interesting!

Lee’s bookcase with actual stuff on it.
We are doing something special with all these cracks.
My office window is most attractively sealed off.

Blue Is the Color…

…of the ceiling and walls in the stairwell. Chris is back at work after a well deserved rest, and he tried out our very light blue color, the final one paint at the Pope house. It’s called Dreamstress. He says, “I don’t know about no dream, but it caused me plenty of stress.”

Still a bit wet, but here’s the ceiling against the terra-cotta walls.

It’s a very subtle color, for sure. In some lights it looks gray, and in some it looks white. It’s just what I wanted. He started with the stairwell, where the ceiling and the former exterior wall got done. I think the color will look even better once the window trim is all installed and painted our creamy white.

Stairway wall blends together now that it’s all one color.

The former exterior wall in my office bathroom is also blue, which helps tone down the tomato red and shiny tile.

Original brick wall and new red wall.

By the way, before he had to go do caregiver duty, Easton almost finished the vinyl floors. It’s looking good!

This view looks almost done!

We have more trim to do, the ceilings in the main office and my office, the cabinets for the break room area, the tin accent walls, the lighting, and just a few more tidbits. Yay!

Contrasted with the original window trim, it looks more blue.

It’s Not Brick Red, It’s Terra Cotta

Chris has been working so hard on the Pope House. Kathleen is making him rest.

Looking from the front to the back of the house.

The highlight for us ladies is the paint on the walls that aren’t brick. We were hoping really hard that the color we picked to complement the brick would work.

The upstairs landing.

We like it! It’s a shade lighter than the actual brick we matched it to and reminds me of a terra cotta pot. The contrast with the white trim and a great, and it will echo the warm tones of the flooring.

Looking into Lee’s office. You can see in the honey-colored bathroom.

The flooring is moving right along, too. Easton finished the remaining subfloor in Lee’s office and the vinyl is snaking out to other rooms.

Vinyl progress.

But the best floor (and hardest) is the shiny tile in my office bathroom. The tiles are teeny tiny. Oh my. That’s what I get for ordering online and not noticing the dimensions. Chris is my new hero for figuring out how to install it properly.

Tiny tiny tiny

It will look great once it’s cleaned up. Ooh. Aah.

Eek. Clashing reds. Trim will separate them. And the tiles will clean up.

You know what? We may actually finish this project!

Painting and Polka

Grr, my body is annoying me. I had to quit working on the Pope Residence the the family, because I started getting repetitive motion tingles all in my hand and wrist. I need my hands to work, so after an hour or so of it, I had to stop painting trim. I’d gotten a lot done, though, and was really enjoying myself.

Just a little of the trim Kathleen primed last night.

Last night, after I went home, Kathleen single-handedly primed all the trim in the two offices we’re working on and the hallway. She had noticed that the parts that had already been painted white looked different when over brown or light wood, so she got out the primer (I’d forgotten we had it!). So, by the time she got in this morning, it was ready for paint.

Textured bathroom. Still wet, so it is shiny.

Meanwhile, this morning Chris and Eaton got all the texturing done (a light coat), in a brief moment of less-than-100% humidity. Soon as it’s dry, they can put primer over it and then actually paint all the areas that aren’t brick. That sure feels like progress.

It looks like an actual room now.

By the time I got to the house to work (had to do all my writing chores first), I saw that Chris had also gotten a start on the flooring. Ooh, aah, that’s going to look great, though it’s pretty complex to install it right (many different patterns, which make it look more natural).

Opening from Lee’s side.

They’d taken a break on that to finish the opening between the two offices and to put the crown molding (which I painted!) in Lee’s office. It will need a little filling, but will look super when it’s done.

Opening from Kathleen’s side.She plans to paint her side brown.
Alfred Vrazel, from polkabeat.com

All of this was taking place during Alfred Vrazel’s polka show playing on KMIL. It’s the nation’s longest-running radio polka show, you know. I kept hearing harmony that didn’t sound like it was coming from the radio. Hmm.

It turned out to be Kathleen, whose Czech heritage was coming out in a big way. It was wonderful to hear her singing along to the songs of her childhood. Now, that’s a true Texan.

I bet you didn’t spend your day with painting and polkas, but I assure you, it was a good way to spend a few hours. Like Mr. Vrazel said, you can’t go away from 2.5 hours of Czech polkas and waltzes and not be a bit happier.

Holey, Holey Moley

Cameron, Texas is a town full of holes. Part of its fading small-town charm is that very few things are in tip-top shape, so holes are everywhere.

Now, the true banes of my existence are the holes in County Road 140, where the Hermits’ Rest is located. As a matter of fact, I even made a movie of the potholes last year. At the moment, there are a few places where no matter how hard you try, you ARE going to hit a pothole. A couple of them are so deep that I’m surprised people haven’t lost wheel covers.

Red stars are our ranch community houses. 140 is the land of the potholes.

And ARGH, never ride in a car with someone unfamiliar with the road who doesn’t know to weave right and left to avoid the Big Ones and slow WAY down on the humpy section at the hill! I thought I was gonna get sick when Mike was driving me on Sunday.

The pothole situation in the county is so bad that a couple of people have bought their own equipment and begged the city to let them maintain their own roads. I don’t think our front-end loader can cut it, though.

Ground Holes

Canova and me at the Bistro

My sister dropped by today to have lunch and see the progress on the Pope Residence, and she needs to be careful when she’s walking. There was NO way I’d lead her across the empty lot (AKA “The Old Rossen Place”), because there are so many depressions where there were once trees. I think I’ve talked about it before, but since we’ve been having so many elders and people dealing with mobility issues, these things just LOOM in my mind. Stay on the walkways, everyone! (We do have insurance, and we do plan to level that ground.)

Holes in Houses

I am much happier with some of the holes in our renovation project, though. Chris and Easton moved the back door over, to make room for the length of stairway we’ll need to give the bathroom a ceiling. He sent me this picture:

It’s a long way to the ground now!

I looked at it and said to myself, “Hmph, the door is in a good place but, why is it opening that way?”

Not five minutes later, I got a text from him saying, “It opens the wrong way, but it will open right once we move the front door to the back.” How’s that for anticipating my criticisms! Smart guy! In any case, the doorway hole is a good one.

There are lots of holes in the ground and in the floors right now, too. That’s because plumbing experts showed up to repair all the lines and install the ones for the break room area and the bathrooms. Once they are done, we can put in floors! Hooray!

They made sure to get all the outside work done today, since it’s supposed to rain the rest of the week. I like it when people are careful like that. One of the guys told me he’d get rid of the annoying sapling/weed tree growing right next to the house and on top of where the plumbing goes in. I will be sure to kill its trunk to death, since it can’t be helping the house stay level.

Here’s the framing for the stairs and bathroom. The floor has holes, for plumbing.
This kind of stuff.

A final hole I’ve been thinking about is the ones caused by the tiles in the Hermit Haus cracking. We have decided to just pull them all up, remove the walls, and cover the entire flooring area with that nice stuff people put down in garages, with the little sprinkles. That should last forever, and if the ground shifts, it won’t be the end of the world.

More later. Gotta get more work done before the exciting Chamber of Commerce Banquet!

Shopping Spree

One of the reasons I had so much fun yesterday is that I got to order a lot of the things for my new office. I also got a lot of news about the renovation, so that made my day fun to get through.

I believe we are getting the one at top center. Kathleen wanted it to be very rustic. This is easy to install and waterproof, too.

The renovation team has decided that the floors in my future office are not salvageable. I am not surprised. This room seems to have gotten the most abuse during the years, and the floors looked practically worn through in some areas. Others had been badly repaired. So, I reluctantly agreed to have the same vinyl planks put in there that Kathleen will have in her office. I’ll cover it up with the giant and inexpensive rug I bought (that I can’t find a picture of, so it will be a surprise).

But, that’s okay, because when I look up I will see this symphony of rustic beauty! It is nice and big, which I need for the size of the room and its ceiling height, and it was not too costly (but not “cheap” – just right). You may have noticed it does not have one bit of bling on it.

A most beautiful, yet rustic, light fixture. With many bulbs.
Bling.

Don’t worry! I found a place to buy chandelier crystals online, and they weren’t too expensive. Eighteen of those will be coming in the mail very soon, and I’ll just add them to the lamp. I’m creative. I will also order some replacements for ones that got knocked off my very similar chandelier at the ranch. I must know what I like.

It just screams “Suna,” doesn’t it!

Now, we certainly don’t want my office to be boring, with all that brick and wood, right? Of course not! So, I have selected extra shiny tile to go under my fake woodstove and on the floor in the tiny bathroom. I will smile at it every single day, and it fits my office decor colors of red, orange, and pink. You know, because those are my favorite hair colors…

Shiny!

AND we were told that we could not repair the ceiling in the entry hallway of the Pope Residence, because it would look too patchy (thanks, dumb stairway). So, we’re going to put up a lovely copper-colored metal ceiling in there. We will put it in the bathrooms, too, since they don’t have the cool wood ceilings that are in the rest of the house.

I have to admit, making these selections is why I loved my real estate redevelopment work so much. I’m glad to have another opportunity to select quality materials that will enhance a beautiful building.