Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Color Should I Paint My Balls?

Not a question I thought I would ever ask myself, yet here I sit doing just that. The balls I'm referring to, of course, are those found on the front porch.

Currently, they are red, the same red as the brick walls. They don't stand out at all. In fact, you could even say they disappear. Like men on beaches everywhere I want big, bold balls--not disappearing balls. I have chosen the following colors for the rest of the house.

The new historic colors will make a tremendous difference in the appearance. I am not quite sure what the previous owners were thinking on a lot of their trim choices.

There is so much going on all over this house, my hope is to tie all the different colors together. I chose my colors from the river rock and shells in the top section of the house, as well as the stone foundation.

I just can't decide on what color to paint my balls. Dare I choose blue balls?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Textile Tuesday

I've been busy in the studio. I have quite a few projects in the works. The doll quilts, once finished, will  go here and there to decorate the room. The chimney sweep blocks I am putting together for a new queen-size quilt for the master bedroom.

My inspiration comes from one of my favorite quilt books, Quick Classic Quilts by Marsha McCloskey.

I chose the block pattern to coordinate with the stained glass in the room...

as well as the tile surrounding the fireplace. 

This project has spurred inspiration for an entire series of quilts designed around the architectural of this old house. There are plenty of interesting designs to choose from just in the front porch alone. It will be fun to see what I can create.

I also have been busy skirting fleeces. Turns out the iron patio furniture I bought last fall makes the perfect skirting table, almost like I planned it that way. The reality is the thought never even occurred to me until I slapped down that first fleece. I vacuum packed 15 fleeces in these two boxes and they are headed out to the mill for processing into roving. I'd like you to think I am just super motivated, but the project was actually spurred on by a bit of an incident.

Some of you might recall the wall of wool I had stashed in the shower?

Well, it seems there is a weight limit to what that shower door can hold. When I brought home a couple new fleeces the other day and tossed the bags in over the top, the entire mess came crashing out nearly burying me alive. I am sure it would have made for a great YouTube video reminiscent of a cartoon as I quickly turned to use my back in an attempt to keep the avalanche at bay while my legs slipped out under me and my arms braced the sides. What is it they say? Most accidents happen within the home? The shower is now empty.

I have no idea where I'll put the roving when it comes back, but for now the bathroom is a wee bit safer to enter.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Door, A Lost Art

You really should take a close look at the doors in the old part of the house. They are as original as the day they were installed back in 1892 and are in remarkable condition, primarily because nobody ever uses the formal entry.

The detail is pretty remarkable, all beveled glass and each opening carefully carved.

The original hardware even includes a little flap to cover the deadbolt.

The smaller door on the side of the front porch is just as nice.

This door also has the original hardware although some new deadbolts were also added somewhere along the line.

It is a shame nobody ever uses these doors. Someday we plan to redo the driveway to encourage guests to use them. Doors of this quality are hard to find. In fact, today I cleaned all the entry and screen doors and found it interesting that the newer 1970s doors in the back of the house are in much worse shape some even need replacing, but the doors from 1892 are as plumb and straight as can be. 

Not only is the art of making a door lost, apparently the skill of hanging a door properly is hard to find. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Let's Talk About the Kitchen

Sometimes I have to take a step back, breathe into a paper bag for a few minutes, and remind myself that not every surface in this old place needs work. There are a few spaces where only a few tweaks are necessary. 

For instance, the kitchen had no personality and had stainless steel EVERYWHERE. While perfectly lovely for a modern home, I was not really feeling the old victorian farmhouse charm here. 

Just replacing the cabinet hardware from modern stainless steel to victorian oil-rubbed bronze made a huge difference. Downsizing the light fixture makes the room look bigger and helps take the focus off the stainless steel.

Again before:


Feels much more like a farmhouse and didn't cost a small fortune. I'd like to someday change the counter tops and add a tile backsplash, but for now this option fits the budget better. I do think maybe I'm going to change the paint color though. I've always had a yellow kitchen. I think my psyche needs a yellow kitchen. This color on a cloudy day seems very grey, like a jail cell.

(By the way, that stainless steel light fixture/pot rack is for sale. Make me an offer I can't refuse.)

Cha Ching

Progress continues.

Chimney two before:

Chimney two during:

Turns out chimney number three in the next photo was even worse than one and two. It had to be taken completely down to the roofline and rebuilt.



Today they are starting on the tuck pointing and the cracked window sills are getting replaced. Water seeping in through the cracks is causing the bricks under it to bulge out right there in the center. Looks like someone replaced one of the bricks at some point but never fixed the real issue.

This is another rather expensive project as you can't just run down to Lowe's and pick a couple of limestone sills up. It was a six-hour round trip on Saturday to fetch the replacements from Bloomington, Indiana.

But the good news is we have a meeting scheduled with the historical preservation grant committee for tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully they will like and approve of what we are doing here. And even more importantly want to contribute!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Like Fine Wine Old Houses Are Never Cheap or Easy

So, the next time you visit, please, please, please take notice of the chimneys. Perhaps even gasp while you point and exclaim, "My word, those are the most striking chimneys I have ever seen!" Because let me tell you, they ain't cheap.

You will recall in a previous post if you look closely you can see that the two chimneys on the south elevation were decidedly different. The one on the left retained it's original architectural detail. The one on the right, not so much.

At some point the previous owner fixed the leaking chimney. The architectural detail caused part of the leaking issue over time so the previous owner just eliminated the detail altogether. Allow me to present Exhibit A: Sucky Previous Owner's Chimney Top.

At this point, both chimneys are bad. Like seriously needing to be completely rebuilt. Like when the guys got up there things started just falling down around them bad. I mean we knew there were issues, a raccoon had gained entrance to the house via the chimney just before we moved in. The same chimney that leads directly to my bedroom I might add. Anyway, we knew they had issues, we just  didn't realize they needed to be completely taken down and rebuilt. So, there goes the budget on this project.

I am happy to report though that we not only rebuilt the front chimney, but we came up with a slight modification the the top so it will not collect water yet still retain some of the architectural detail.

The second chimney is getting the same treatment. In fact, all three chimneys will be rebuilt and all look the same. If you look closely at the photo below you can see through the scaffold that the top of the chimney is no longer flat, all of the spalling has been repaired as well. Which was no easy task. These are old bricks that are not the same size as modern brick. The guys are having to cut each and every brick to size. It has been a long dusty journey and we haven't even gotten to the pointing yet, or replacing the window sills, or fixing the porch entry.

The very first day of the project the electrical equipment blew the fuse on the front porch. Then we realized it also blew all the lights in the front of the house as well. Nothing would fix it, something was seriously amiss. The previous owner was a bit of a do-it-yourselfer with both electricity and plumbing. A professional electrician came today and two-and-a-half hours later we had a whole new laundry list of issues we need to work on. We started today with a new outdoor outlet to keep work progressing.

Replacing a few outdoor fixtures that have seen better days and no longer work will be the next thing.

In the mean time, we found out we are finalists for the preservation grant. I sure hope we get it, but even it won't cover the extra chimney costs. But they are lovely, lovely chimneys. Right? Totally worth it.

Maybe I'll make a sign to leave at the entry asking people to take notice of the chimneys. Yeah, a big sign. Maybe a bronze plaque even.

At least I will sleep better knowing I won't be snuggling up to a raccoon.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

There is No Cure

Those are tough words for me to wrap my head around. I've worked all my life to fix things, to mend whatever is broken. I grew up thinking if a person worked hard enough, they could do anything they set their mind to. To now accept that I can't do something I love, no matter what, because I am physically incapable is both frustrating and humbling at the same time. After discussions with my general practitioner, physical therapist, orthopedic surgeon, and gastroenterologist, they all agree that I have no choice but to limit my daily activity to things that will not continue to overstretch the joints in my body. My shoulders and knees are shot and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Since the problem is my connective tissue and not the joints themselves, surgery isn't an option.

The worst part was the looks on their faces when they described how this was going to play out.

You see, my body didn't come with enough collagen. It is called Joint Hypermobility Syndrome. My body can best be described as being similar to a marionette. Very little is holding all the joints together and what is there has no strength to keep me upright. Everything is controlled by the strings, or in my case the muscles. If the muscles are allowed to go lax, I'll end up a big old pile of bones.  If I stretch too far in any direction, I risk injury. If anything were to yank on my arm, for instance a goat, I would have to start all over on the healing process. Which I have done three times in as many months and I am still nursing the last one.  I've pretty much used up all of my physical therapy allowance from the insurance company. Now I am being transitioned to an exercise physiologist who will teach me how to avoid further injury, but still strengthen the muscle.

The doctors winced because it's not going to be pretty.

I am going to be in pain every day for the rest of my life. But the reality is, that's nothing new. I was born this way. I've already been in pain every day of my life. Now I just know why. Now I understand why I had horrible growing pains as a youth. Why I've had so many sprains and dislocations. Why my neck is constantly out of alignment. In a way it is a relief because now I know I'm not a wimp. There is a reason I hurt. There is a reason I have trouble keeping up with everyone else. I get it. Now that I fully understand it, I can work within those parameters.

It does, however, mean I am going to have to change my lifestyle.

They were very specific when they told me, "No more catching escaped goats or flinging hay bales." Pretty much every farming task you can imagine is on the things-to-avoid list. At this point I can't even walk my dogs on a leash. Which, by the way, the dogs were thrilled to hear because they want no part of this whole exercising thing. They are far too busy holding down the porch. I will have to give up the full-time ag position at work. A position that would be my dream job, if only I had an able body.

It would be easy to have a negative outlook on all this.

But the reality is, I know far too many people in much worse situations. I have lost far too many friends and family. I know far too many people living with chronic disease. I am not going to sit around and focus on what I can't do. I am going to focus on what I can do. I can get up and walk across the room, many people can't. I can fix a meal for my family, many people can't. I can still enjoy some of my hobbies, many people cant.

I'll miss the animals, but I can still visit. Many others can't.

Someday I will be able to look back on this and understand the reason this has come to light in this time of my life. There is always a reason. Until then, I'll just keep swimming.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Whole Shebang

It is a difficult room to photograph well. Between the skylights, windows, and the crazy yellow paint color the camera sensor gets so confused it just wants to have a drink and call it a day. But since Elaine asked so nicely, I couldn't help but oblige. Hopefully you can still get a sense of the layout of the room. 

Here we are, glancing to the right after we enter New Sheville from the breakfast room. The design wall in this picture will be stretched and permanently attached to the wall after the new paint. 

I am down to two looms, a 45" Loomcraft and a Baby Wolf, which I smushed all together in the center of the room. The green spinning wheel works just fine, but I don't use it often. 

The door on the right in this next photo is the laundry room. The treadle sewing machine also works just fine  and sews a nice straight stitch. I even have all the attachments and the original manual.

The quilt on the brick wall is held up with a curtain rod and clip rings so I can change it out often.  That passage leads to the shower full of wool and the kitchen. 

The door on the left in the following photo leads to that cute little porch with the curved railing where I like to sit and drink a cup of coffee and watch the birds at the feeder. The door in the center is the breakfast room where we first started.

My trusty spinning wheel, Mildred, a cherry Schacht Matchless lives near command central. 

I love all the windows around the sewing table, except at night when it feels like everyone is eyeballing me, then I have to close the blinds. I'm still having some issues learning to live amongst society. 

So there it is, the whole shebang of New Sheville. My goal was to set it up in work triangles that make sense depending on what I am working on. So far so good.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Further Development of New Sheville

Ladies, if you happen to find yourself perusing an antique store with your significant other and stumble upon the perfect furniture pieces for your hobby room, whatever you do don't buy them. Wait until said significant other is out of town and hire neighborhood teenagers or a few guys off the street to move the furniture for you. No matter the cost, it will be far worth not having to reveal your stash of raw materials. Otherwise you will have to listen to comments such as, "Good grief, you could clothe a third world country with all of this." To which your only possible response could be, "That is precisely what I plan to do with it. You got a problem with that?"

No matter how much I tried to explain that most quilters have way more fabric than I do, it seemed to fall on deaf ears. But that's okay, I think my new fabric cabinet is worth the hassle.

I also picked up a new cabinet for storing yarn.

It doubles as a work space for processing all those fleeces I have stored in the shower. I've been hauling the shelves above it around from house to house for years. I think I'll repaint them to match the cabinet once my arms start working again.

While the guys were in furniture moving mode, I had them relocate the large media cabinet. I took the wheels off the plastic carts and they fit right inside to hold my works-in-process. I thought I was so smart for coming up with that idea.

But I knew I had a stroke of genius when I refurbished my cutting table into a dual-purpose ironing/cutting station. The top of this table was already ruined with a huge gouge in the top. It looked like someone had taken a router to the center of it. I covered it with some batting and fabric and tacked it under the edges. Then I screwed a shelf to the side to hold the iron.

Yes. Yes that last part really was brilliant, I know. Thank you. Notice how I can still use it as a cutting station by just adding the cutting mat to it. My rulers and rotary cutter go in the drawer and baskets of scraps go right under on the shelf. Best idea I've had in a long time. A total space saver.

When you have a small space to work with, you do what you gotta do.

 Stay tuned for more New Sheville developments in the near future. I have a paint color picked out...

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Firm Foundation

Progress is already being made. Starting with a firm foundation.



Once it cures the new mortar will be lighter and blend with the existing.