Slow motion kitchen


Posted: April 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: photos, progress, slow progress | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »


Feels like things have been moving slowly these past few weeks. Lots of things have happened but so much remains to do! We’re STILL ostensibly working on the kitchen, but I think we’ve spent equal time working on other various projects lately. So the kitchen still needs more destruction before we can start rebuilding! After tearing out the counters and cabinets we got the sink out and saved it, thinking we may reuse it. It’s not pretty but it works.

kitchen destruction we got the sink out!

we got the sink out!

We’ve gotten wallboard and insulation off two and a half walls, one more wall left to tear out. We need to strip down to the studs on all exterior walls so we can put in new insulation, as the existing insulation looks at least 40 years old and a lot of the old pink fiberglass batting has been eaten away by critters. (how hungry do you have to be to eat fiberglass?!)

ripping out walls in the kitchen! taking down the kitchen walls

left: smashing things is fun! right: peeling away an entire sheet of wallboard

Once we got most of the walls gone, we realized we wanted to take down the ceiling too. It didn’t look too bad in the first place, but once we started poking around in there, we found that billions of rodents (probably rats and chipmunks, maybe mice, who knows what else!) had been living above our ceiling and eating the delicious pink fiberglass insulation, chowing on birdseed and sunflower seeds and piling their empty shells everywhere, building cozy nests filled with chewed-up old shirts and shiny things (mainly quarters and candy wrappers!) and peeing and pooping everywhere. Once we got up on ladders and got close to the ceiling we noticed it really did smell like a rat bathroom. Yuck! So we decided to tear it all down.

Mike working on the ceiling yuck

pulling down the kitchen ceiling

It was nasty work, you’d get a crowbar under one edge of the wallboard and start to pry, and then maybe you’d have to pry out 5 or 6 nails before it would budge, or maybe you’d just pry one nail and whoosh… without any warning the whole thing would come crashing down, sending the dogs running in terror and showering a massive load of shredded fiberglass, sunflower seeds, rodent shit and chewed sunflower shells all over your head. We took to wearing old parkas with the hoods up while working on the ceiling so that at least the sunflower seeds couldn’t go down the back of our necks and leave us shaking chipmunk debris out of our shirts and pants all day.

tearing down the kitchen ceiling stuff that came out of our kitchen ceilings

a sudden cascade of sunflower seeds and rodent-related debris

bare ceiling

bare ceiling after we got all the wallboard and insulation and chipmunk nests removed!

scary old wiring

really scary old wiring revealed when we pulled away all the insulation

We bought our new woodstove!!! We figured that spring was the best time to get a good price on a wood stove. We were tempted to get an old one, but we’re hoping to use the woodstove as our primary heat throughout the long Maine winters (we do have an oil burning furnace in the basement but we only want to use it for back-up), so we felt it would be best to get the most modern, efficient woodstove possible. We ended up going for a welded steel Regency woodstove, it’s not pretty like the old-time cast iron stoves but it has a nice big firebox so that we can load it up and only have to feed it a few times a day, not every few hours, and hopefully it will even burn through the night until morning! Also, the new woodstoves burn much more efficiently, wasting less energy and causing less air pollution and less creosote build-up in the chimney, so they’re just cleaner and safer. And I don’t mind the modern look too much!

the new wood stove!!!!!! kitchen chimney

the new woodstove, peeling back the layers on the chimney

Now that we’ve got the woodstove, we need a chimney. The kitchen chimney had been cut off at some point (probably when the roof was replaced) so it needs to be rebuilt from the second floor up through the roof, and lined and insulated (for safety) and we need a new thimble installed in the kitchen for the woodstove to plug into. We’ve met with a mason and he should be coming back to do the job within a few weeks! So we needed to expose the brick chimney, which had been covered with wallboard. Behind the wallboard we found a frame of 2x4s, behind that many many layers of old wallpaper covering an inch of horse-hair plaster which Mike chiseled off very carefully to reveal the bricks and mortar.

Meanwhile… we’ve also spent a ton of time working on dog fencing. We’re installing invisible dog fencing around the entire perimiter of our 2 acre lot plus our next-door-neighbor’s 1-acre lot. She has three dogs! And we figured it would be impossible and annoying to try and keep them apart, so it’s best to have them all share one fence system so they can play together. We’re so glad to have great neighbors who are into doing stuff and sharing stuff together! Our dream is to let the dogs run around our giant back yard anytime, without having to worry that they’ll run into the busy street in front of our house. They’ll have the whole back yard but they won’t be allowed in the front yard (near the street), only as far as the front porch. Here’s hoping they will enjoy the backyard and not sit on the front porch and bark at passing cars all day… It’s a pretty long process to map out the edges of our property, run electric wire around the whole perimeter and staple it down or bury it, and meanwhile it takes at least a month to train the dogs to understand and respect the invisible fence (they wear collars that beep, then shock(!) if they go near the invisible perimeter). We’ve been training on the fence system that’s already installed at my parents’ house in Gorham and I think they’ve pretty much got it down pat already!

Beatrice

Beatrice is one of the dogs next door! She’s an English Sheepdog puppy, like a crazy happy muppet! She comes to visit us a lot.

And… stacking next winter’s firewood in the sunshine. Still another cord and a half to go. Best to get it done before the weather gets hot.

stacking wood

seasoned wood is already stacked, now we’re working on the green wood.


getting started


Posted: March 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: excitement, photos, progress, slow progress | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »


We’ve only just begun… but we’ve finally begun! We’ve started to form some ideas about what to tackle first. There’s so much to be done! There is one upstairs bedroom that had wall-to-wall carpeting that REEKED of piss. So gross! This past week we got in there with a utility knife and started by ripping the carpet into three big strips (thanks Judy for the strategy advice!), then rolling them up and dragging them out. Tough going because two sides of the room have baseboard heaters and the nails holding the carpet down are under the baseboard heater, which is all fragile (take off the cover and it’s just copper piping with billions of delicate little fins that are ridiculously easy to mangle if you even touch them) so despite our best efforts we kinda messed up those heating fins, oops. This was the worst part of the process, the carpet is so heavy and clumsy that we ended up getting way more up-close-and-personal than anyone would want to get with something that thoroughly pee-soaked. Then there’s another layer of stained and stinky batting, and underneath there is a layer of stinky and crumbly particle board, nailed down to the floor. Had to pry this up gently with crowbars, we developed a good teamwork strategy and figured out how to ease it up in relatively large chunks. This also presented further complications with the baseboard heating pipes. And underneath… beautiful wood floors! Covered in lead paint, of course. But still lovely! We opened up some windows to get the smell out.

Ripping out pee carpet upstairs We ripped out the carpet!

Before & after… we ripped out the carpet!

I got the cabinets out!

Mike got the cabinets out!

At the same time, we got started on the kitchen downstairs. We’re gonna gut it completely, since the exterior walls need to be insulated, it needs new electrical wiring, and everything in there was super gross and old. We smashed out the fake bricks and tore out the old cabinets, saving some for possible re-use and just tearing others into firewood. Found tons of rat poop, one entire rat skeleton, one mummified rat, and one box of shaw’s orange jello powder. Also found a weird birthday card and a five-year-old 7th grade report card for a little boy who had a very bad academic year. It’s just so weird to find yourself picking through bits & pieces left from someone else’s life. Who were these people? Where did they go to? Why did they install wall-to-wall carpeting and who peed all over it? Why did they leave a plastic christmas tree atop a sea of baby clothes in the upstairs bathtub?
So, lots of trips to the dump! It’s so satisfying to destroy all the crappy stuff and rip it out and drag it to the dump. Sometimes I feel bad about throwing things away, I don’t like to be wasteful but… it’s really satisfying to hurl the stinky carpets and chunks of stained particle board into those dumpsters. No guilt about that.
As of this writing, we’re done working on the upstairs for this year, focusing all efforts on the downstairs. Still need to rip out a few more cabinets from the kitchen, rip out wallboard and plaster and insulate, run new electrical wires (with Richard’s master electrical guidance of course) and then install some recycled cabinets (found some in good condition in one of the apartments in the ell). Found a good price on beech wood counter top at Ikea (cheaper than Formica!), perhaps we can use the same stuff to build a matching island or kitchen table?! Very excited about designing and reconstructing the new kitchen. Then… on to the downstairs bathroom!!! Again, we’ll need to completely destroy and rebuild.
Oh, also… in the ell apartment, there is a REFRIGERATOR FILLED WITH FOOD FROM LAST YEAR. My mom of course opened it up to show us… and it smells BAD. We have a date to put on respirator masks, long rubber gloves, drag it into the front yard and tackle it. (in order to drop refrigerators at the dump you’ve got to remove the door and empty them!) Next Monday afternoon. Ugh.


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