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September 2016
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10 posts from October 2016

little stone house update

Life with roommates only lasted about two or three weeks before Kate told the couple to leave, then another 5 weeks or so until they were gone.  They were supposed to move in with three cats, all spayed, but moved in with four cats and four kittens, and only the old man cat was neutered.  That wasn't too bad, Kate loves cats, and all but one was a pleasant animal, but the roommates didn't clean the four litterboxes they spread out over three floors in a 900 square foot house so the cats were forced, after a time, to go to the bathroom on the floor.  Nor did the couple make veterinary appointments to get the cats spayed, and the females were constantly in heat; one started to spray and had to be locked in the basement.  Kate had no choice but to buy litter, clean the litterboxes, and litter train the kittens herself, in order to save her house.  The whole process was a stressful drama with much lying and resentment, a lost friendship, and a break-up.   Thankfully the cats didn't go to the bathroom on the hardwood floor on the main level, there would have been no saving it.  A thorough scrubbing of tile and an airing out of the whole house got rid of most of the stink.

Ordinarily I wouldn't tell you all that, it's Kate's personal life, but you have to know a broad overview of the background for the next batch of house renovations to make sense.

The only good that came out of their brief stay was that Kate kept two of the kittens, Gomez and Belle (though Kate calls her Belly, because she loves belly rubs).  They, of course, have received their vaccinations, were spayed and neutered, have been leash trained, wear tags, are cleaned up after, and cared for.  They are cuddly, friendly little munchkins who deserved a responsible owner, and they keep Kate from being lonely.  She didn't intend to incur the expense of pets until she was settled in and more financially stable, but it's a good thing it happened now, I think, Kate needs the cuddles.


The cat-pee soaked carpet and plywood subfloor had to be removed from the upstairs attic area that was ready to move into, that is to be Kate's bedroom.  When that was removed fire damage was found on the floor underneath in quite a large area.  Thankfully, the char only went halfway down through the floorboards and did not damage the support underneath.  The floorboards, then, had to be removed as well, then she and a friend gutted the entire attic, to make sure there was no fire damage on the walls and ceiling that had been covered up with drywall.  There was no further damage....nor was there much insulation, which explains the ice dams on the roof in the winter which cause leaks.  A company is scheduled to come next week to spray foam insulation in the attic and around the new headers in the basement.  She and her friend should have the new plywood subfloor installed by then.  The subfloor is taking longer than expected, because the original support beams are made from reclaimed beams, probably from a barn, and don't provide a level surface.  They are adding additional support where needed to ensure the new subfloor is level and, hopefully, quieter than the old one, which creaked.


When they gutted the attic they removed the walls that divided the space into sections and are planning built in storage, etc, to customize the space for Kate's needs.  She intends to make the absolute most of the space she has.  Right now she is using the two small bedrooms downstairs, that she intended to rent out at least one of, so has no rental income coming in, while the repair costs keep piling up.  She can meet all her financial obligations without a renter, but not with as much money left over as she feels comfortable about socking away for when an emergency pops up.

One of the girls returned her house key when they moved out, but the other did not, so Husband bought and installed two electronic keypad locks on her front and back doors last weekend.  It is far easier to add and remove codes for renters than have locks re-keyed.  Plus, they are more convenient, we have them on our house and love them.

I'm sure the cats will be disappointed when the attic is finished, as right now it makes a wonderful playground.


The previous owners hadn't done any work in the attic, but they had in the basement, covering the walls with pink board insulation, and painting it.  The pink board had to be taken down because of cat spray damage.  Plus, after the broken sump pump/flooded basement issue last spring Kate was concerned there could be mold growing behind it.  She didn't find any mold, but did find that the main support beams holding the house up were rotting away.  She had her contractors put in new beams and headers where needed.


Still on the to-do list, hopefully before winter, are to remove the asphalt driveway and regrade the property away from the house, and to tuck-point the stone walls.  Kate bought scaffolding from Craig's list, and has done much research on tuck-pointing.  It's maintenance that has to be done yearly, which she is learning to do herself.  "It's all part of owning a stone house", she tells me.

Still on the to-do list, but put off until next year, due to lack of funds, is re-shingling the roof, and installing a new, more energy efficient and reliable hot water heater.  She also wants to tear the mudroom addition down to its studs to see why the ceiling has started to sag and the tiles are popping off the floor.  I suspect she'll find the heavy looking tongue and groove board on the ceiling wasn't adequately attached, and the tiles were put on a floor that hadn't been leveled first.

Also on the to-do list, dated 'eventually', is more work in the basement.  She wants to paint the walls and floors, which need some cosmetic repair work first.

All in all, Kate is full of regret, and wishes she had bought a small piece of land and a new mobile home to live in until she saved enough money to build a house.  When she bought this house she knew it needed a bathroom remodel and new doors and windows.  She didn't anticipate having to have all the plumbing and electrical redone, etc.  She still loves the cute little stone cottage, but has twice as much money into the house, so far, than what it is worth.  Fortunately, the small house is on a large double lot so she has room to add on when the need arises and the time is right.  I keep reminding her that she did all the right things when she made the purchase, she was there to witness the thorough inspection, and that no one can see through walls.   I tell her she can't go back, she can only push forward, and this experience is certainly teaching her much.  Besides, eventually she'll have repaired everything, so she will have a new house, but inside old stone walls.






what I did this week


I've no more pictures of the Mobile Studio to show you, because I haven't sorted through them yet.  I've been taking a break from minis.  I read two books and an article in American Miniaturist about the cemetery in a tomb that I made Susan a few years ago.  I did clean my studio today though, so I'll be back at it tomorrow.  Maybe.  There is a new season of Supernatural on Netflix.




I did it.  I finished before the end of September.  Now it's ready to photograph this weekend, provided I can get that done early this morning, before it starts to rain.

The plastic candles in the chandelier were cut in half to shorten them, set on fire, and a black metal wick inserted while the plastic was melted.  It looks much better.

I added a shade on one side of the porch and made a citronella candle, so the bugs don't pester Sheila when she comes to visit.


Since I had an abstract oil and a drawn-on canvas that didn't work out for Mr. Neat's easel I put them in the studio, rather than the trash can.  I glued a piece of trim to the wall for a quick shelf, then sat the painting on it to dry.  The unpainted canvas I leaned against the wall behind the bag of sketch pads.

I also tacked some sketches to the wall behind Ms. Messy's easel, per Susan's suggestion.  Two I colored with pencils, since there is a tin of colored pencils with the drawing pad on the table next to her wicker chair.