Monday, February 10, 2014

February Staycation

One of the things Ghon and I have lacked in a long time is a vacation.

Despite taking the week off together, we still lack a vacation. Enter...the staycation.

We had a laundry list of items on our to do list. Finish the living room floor, start framing the room, and load the truck for our "in town" day Wednesday, which included a run to the scrap yard.

Monday, Day One:

On the first day of staycation, we drove through a snow storm to Pittsburgh, PA. He had a noon appointment for round two, the completion, of his back tattoo by Hannah Aitchison. As we got closer to Pittsburgh, Ghon shot off an email to let her know that despite the weather, he was on the way.

Enter bummer number one of the week. Hannah didn't have his appointment in the book, and had another appointment at noon. Fortunately, she agreed to put in a long day, and was able to work Ghon in after her first appointment. I had plans to meet at work colleague for lunch, so Ghon joined us. After, we wandered through Lowes, picked up a few things we needed for Tuesday, then headed off to the tattoo shop. Ghon got started about the time we should have been leaving. We didn't get home until 1:30 in the morning.

Tuesday, Day Two:
Since we didn't get home until so late, rather, so early in the morning, we slept in a little bit. Jonathan was amazing, waking up, getting dressed and made his bed before coming in to tell us good morning. I found out he even went downstairs and said Good Morning to Pop before seeing us!

Up, showered, breakfast, kids dropped off at daycare and we were off to the farm.

First thing we did, was light our first fire in the fireplace.

Ignition! Our first fire!

Watching the burn!

Next, we disposed of some deer meat that had gone bad. Ghon took it over to the trash pit, since there is a good dirt backstop. The idea was to have a little target practice on any critters that might come back to lunch on it. As we drove back to the house, we found many tracks along the way.


A gator!

Freaking raccoons!

Seriously, there were raccoon tracks all over the place. The raccoon left tracks completly circuling the small yard coop. Ha! No bird for you!

Once we made the decision to return the living room to it's original size by returning the old bathroom shower area to the room, we knew we would have a an issue with the wood flooring. The wood flooring was removed to create the bathroom. We made the hearth a little larger than it had been, but before that, it had been filled in with smaller, non-matching wood. Although the floor came apart relatively easy, the boards were numbered to make it easier to reinstall.

It's been anything but easy. Knowing that we would have to buy some flooring that likely wouldn't match well, I suggested to Ghon that we check out the attic floor. The floor boards were roughly the same size (if my memory recalled correctly), and still old. They would be original from the house. And, the attic isn't completely floored already - what would a few sheets of plywood or a non-perfect matching floor matter in the attic?

Up to the attic we went, carrying a small floor board from the living room. And they were a match. The floor boards in the attic had a little warp to them, but they were the right depth. Light, crowbar and hammer in hand, we popped out a few boards and sent them downstairs via the hole in the ceiling/closet/stairway.

The attic boards, while very similar in depth and width to those in the living room, they were not tongue and groove. These boards were ship lap. Ghon was trying to piece them into one of the existing boards, and complained of a missing lip. I looked closer, and found that they were all "missing" the lip - and that it was actually a different floor type. Ghon was concerned about continuity, but I, somewhat surprisingly, welcomed the differences. We still plan to sand the floors, so it will take out some of the differences.

We spent a good part of the day Tuesday cleaning 150 years of dirt from the boards, playing with layouts and trying to decide how to piece it together.  At one point, we thought we might make some progress, then we heard a noise. Down to the root cellar, and Ghon found another flood. This time, about three feet deep. Ghon hooked up the pump and was able to pull some water out, but the hose kept collapsing. We took a trip into town to buy materials needed to implement an idea in Ghon's head. Rather than sending hose down into the cellar, Ghon made a line out of PVC, connected it to the pump and let it go for a bit before heading home.

Another day, another flood.

In the end, we hadn't done anything with the attic boards, and just laid a potential flooring order.

End of the day - another test layout.

While trying the layouts, I found some artwork that Jonathan left behind. Another great marker for whoever might have the house down the road.

Some people, a house, and signed, Jonathan Eckley.

Wednesday, Day Three:
Tuesday night gave us more snow. Wednesday, school was cancelled, Jonathan's morning dentist appointment rescheduled, so we had an odd start to the morning. After getting to the house, I tended to the baby chicks while Ghon checked on the flood. Only about 18 inches of water was standing when we left Tuesday, all of which was gone! Somewhere, a drain actually exists in the cellar, as there was a small stream running out of the cellar. This flood seemed to come from a burst pipe, that is behind a wall, but leads to the outside hose. Good to know that there is an existing system in place for small water 'leaks', and that it is only when there is a larger issue that it can't keep up.

We still had a few floor joists to lay on the left side of the room, so we managed to get that done first. A little chainsaw action and a lot of sawdust on me, and we had a perfect fit.

A little chainsaw action complete covered me!

That's me, digging 150 year old dirt out of the boards. Even with a mask, I still had dirt up my nose!

After staring at the floor for a while, Ghon and I ended up making a run into town. His cordless drill wasn't working, the battery chargers were all acting up, and we knew that some of the attic boards were going to need to be screwed into place, not nailed, to try to remove some of the bow. Off to Home Depot we went. However, I was determined that we would knock out two birds with this trip, and scratch something off the to-do list. We loaded up on some items for donations, and removed more clutter from the house. Yeah!!

Back home, armed with a new drill, plastic, staples, and flooring nails, we got to work.

Boards back off for another layout attempt.

End of the day and the boards are in place.

Time to wrap up the day. Jonathan had an amazing dental appointment. This was the first time he was able to sit through an appointment - a full cleaning and x-rays. He even came away with no cavities!

Thursday, Day Four:
The days are now a blur. No more floods. Just more board cleaning and testing layouts. Seriously, nearly all day was spent playing puzzles. We nailed a few boards into place finally.

Clean a board, measure the space, cut, tap into place, nail, repeat. All day. We made it about 1/3 of the way across the floor.

While Ghon did a little work on the floor, I covered every window on the first floor with plastic. We'd been running the fireplace the entire time, but the house wasn't heating up. We hoped that in addition to sealing up the windows, once the floor was in place, the house would warm up some.

Friday, Day Five:
Before we could make any huge progress on the floor, we had to remove the plumbing that was still in place from the sink and shower in the bathroom. Ghon started working on the plumbing removal cutting pipes and doing some soldering. At one point, I played firefighter, pulling a section of drywall out to prevent any fires as he tried heating the pipes. Ghon was able to get one pipe cut and soldered, but not the second. Only a small amount of water leaked while the pipes repressured...

Playing with a propane torch - tyring to create a makeshift cap.

We had waffled way too much on a plan for including a proper vapor barrier in the floor. Friday was commitment day, and we had to head into town, again, to get roofing paper to create a barrior. Ghon crawled under the beams to install the paper under the supports where we had already laid the floor. From then on, we laid it on the top, floor boards placed directly on top of it. You could definitely feel a difference.

Friday ended by laying all of the paper and cutting more floor boards to length. And of course, cleaning the remaining boards. Our friends Clint and Jess were on their own week long staycation, and joined us for dinner Friday night at our house. It's been a crock pot dinner week!

That night, Ghon had a little case of tennis elbow. My hand was sore from using the chisel to clean the boards - for a short period, I couldn't even grip anything!

Saturday, Day Six
What a long day.

Jonathan couldn't wait to get to the farm to work. He made us promise the night before that he could go to the farm with Ghon while it was still dark. So about 6 in the morning, I got Jonathan up and started getting him into his layers. A quick breakfast and the boys were off to the farm. Genevieve and I had breakfast, got our layers on, packed up some items for lunch then headed to the farm to pick up Jonathan for Taekwondo.

Saturday, we had help. And it showed.

Jess was kind enough to lend us Clint, and my BFF Missy, came up with her husband Kevin and daughter Rylee.

When I came back with the kids, Clint and Ghon were starting to make progress on the floor. Kevin became our plumber, and finished the soldering job. Huge help - we now had toilets back on both levels! I quickly disconnected an outlet from wire removed elsewhere from the room, and Kevin played electrician, and connected the outlet for the insert. Now we could plug it in directly and not use an extension cord.

They did a lot of staring at the floor. But a lot of work too.

Much staring at the boards - and kids helping clean the boards.
The kids tried to help, but they also did a great job keeping themselves amused.

While the guys worked downstairs, Missy and I worked upstairs. We moved all furniture and items from the attic that we wanted to keep into the center room so we could pull up the plywood still on the floor in that room. We packaged up some boxes to return to the attic, some for trash, and another small pile for donations. All that we have left to disposition now are records.

So much more attic stuff out of the way!

Rylee couldn't wait to destroy things, so her and Jonathan helped Missy and I pull the plywood. They both did a great job. I took these shots as we started, then made everyone wear a face mask to protect from all the dirt. We worked together to start prying the boards from the floor, then the kids pulled the popped nails. When we were done, we had one board left. The closet was built on top of the board, and we weren't ready to demo the closet.

Rylee and Jonathan did a great job helping us out!

We still have baby chicks in the house. In addition to movies and tablets, the kids all took frequent breaks by playing with the chicks.

Jonathan and his chicks.

Lots of work being done here!

Missy, Rylee, Tim, Kevin and Ghon - working hard!

At the end of the day, the kids and I posed for a few pictures from the top of the soon to be stairwell, with Ghon downstairs.

The kids kept looking down the hole, making me nervous. So we took a few pics to make everyone happy.

There are two boards to still lay on the floor. The last board will be placed when we are ready to build the wall for the bathroom. The floor took a little extra time, even with all the help, as it turned out the left side needed a slight shim. The guys repurposed old plywood to shim the floor boards. The forms and joists were all level, but the attic boards that we used were just slightly off in depth, and required a shim.

Here it is! The floor, finally in place! The left side long boards are from the attic. In the upper right corner, we pieced in an attic board to fill in where we were missing proper lengths and boards.

The newly laid old floor looks great. Now we just have to re-clean all the cuts that were tossed to the other side of the room.

I'd cleaned this side of the room earlier in the week. It became a scrapyard.

Tim helped Ghon drive the final few nails in on the main floor.

And after everyone was gone, Ghon, with a little help from Genevieve, drove in the nails in the far corner that was pieced together with attic boards.

The kids were so excited to have a floor back, we had a little dance party. A slow dance or two with me and Jonathan, Ghon with Genevieve, and a few fast songs too.

Seeing me take so many pictures, the kids wanted to take their own. Jonathan had promised the day before to take lots of pictures.

Time to step back, admire the work, and reflect on the progress.

Sunday, Day Seven
The final day of my time off. Ghon had to return to work. We both woke up incredibly sore. Everything ached. My knees have been so sore from resting on my knees to measure length, clean boards, and a fall on the ice earlier in the week. After church, Jonathan had a playdate with a friend, while Genevieve and I tackled the weekly grocery shopping. We stopped by the house to take care of the chicks as a light snow started to fall.

More time off?
Ghon's scheduled days off this week were Monday and Tuesday. He was back at the farm doing some additional cleanup projects. We'd never made a scrapyard run, so he spent some time gathering additional metal for when we do make the run. He was able to find a metal bucket to use for ash from the fireplace, and also found a flexible flyer. I can't wait to use that in a decoration next winter! He also cleaned up the remaining mess in the living room. Whew.

But wait, there's more!
Wile we were working last week, I spotted a mouse. Then we spotted something that might not be a mouse. During one of our trips in town, we picked up some additional mouse traps. Since we set the first traps, we've had nine captures. Most we believe are regular old mice, but two, Ghon thinks could be voles. We have a ton of what we've called mole trails outside, so perhaps they are voles. I've already been stomping on all the trails, but the ground has been pretty frozen lately, and too hard to trampt on the trails.

With the floor finally done, with exception of two boards, we can now start framing in the living room, adding in the staircase, and running electricity. We've been playing with some ideas on the addition/rebuild of the mudroom. It would be ideal to get this rebuild done before we move in, but it may not happen. If attempted, be on the look out for more begging for a weekend of help for an old fashioned 'barn' raising...

We also made a final decision during one of our trips to the Lowes and Home Depot on how our kitchen cabinets will be designed. We plan to keep the cabinets, give them an uplift with paint, and Ghon will make new doors. I'm kind of excited to get the kitchen going.

One of the things we'd wanted to do during the week was sand the floors. I knew it didn't make any sense to get the sander until the floors were all set. Hopefully sometime in the next month or so, I can take another day off and sand all day and night...

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