Monday, October 18, 2010

By pilgrim foot and knee!

Note: I returned Sunday afternoon from the NSDAR 2010 Schools Tour. I blogged daily about the trip on the KSDAR website, and decided to cross-post them here, too, just in case any non-KSDAR folks were interested in hearing about the trip. This is the tenth and final post of the trip, but you can read all of the posts in chronological order here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here!

Day Ten, October 17, 2010--Home!


Well, 1,550 miles and nine days after leaving Washington, DC, we arrived in Abingdon, VA, this morning for a farewell brunch at the Martha Washington Inn. The brunch was absolutely amazing, and it was so nice to sit down one last time with the amazing women I have met or gotten to know better this week.

Our leaders, both at the National level and across the states, are an incredibly diverse group of women who all hold our mission of commitment to Historic Preservation, Education, and Patriotism dear to their hearts. While our State Themes and Projects are varied, I learned this week that our hearts are not. As Daughters, we are all united in our love for the children served through the various programs of our DAR Schools.

Our National Schools Chairman shared an interesting analogy with us on the bus the other day. She said that knowing about our DAR schools is like being a grandparent—you can be told how great it is, but until you experience it for yourself, you cannot really know. Our schools are a bit of the same—it takes visiting the schools to really know them. I hope that I have been, and will continue to be able to share with you a bit of my experience, but I urge you each to consider making your own trips to our schools. While our trip was planned, the staff at each school stressed that we (all of the Daughters) are welcome any time!

As I noted at the beginning of this trip, I am available at any time to answer questions you might have. If I didn’t learn the answer this week, odds are our State Schools Chairman already knows it! Call, email, or catch me at the Fall Festival or Fall Board of Management next week!

Title: America, the Beautiful

Till paths be wrought through wilds of thought

Note: I returned Sunday afternoon from the NSDAR 2010 Schools Tour. I blogged daily about the trip on the KSDAR website, and decided to cross-post them here, too, just in case any non-KSDAR folks were interested in hearing about the trip. Read all of the posts in chronological order here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here!

Day Nine, October 16, 2010--The Biltmore Estate


The school visits part of our tour has come to an end, but our tour chairmen planned a day of fun for us on our trek back to Washington, D.C. with a stop at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

We started our day in Clemson, South Carolina, and settled into our bus ride with many questions about the schools we visited this week. Luckily, the President General, National Schools Chairman, and a representative from the Development Office were all on our bus for the second half of the tour, so we were able to ask our questions in a great forum! The Schools Chair was a particularly good sport, as we grilled her on everything from funding to paint!

We arrived at the Biltmore just before lunch and proceeded to the Deerpark Inn on the grounds for a wonderful buffet meal, complete with bread pudding for dessert. Our Kentucky VPG and I noted that it could only be improved with some good Kentucky Bourbon sauce!

We then took the next two hours to tour the main house, which was a treat for me, as I have never been there. The staff started decorating for Christmas last week, so we were able to see those decorations in a few of the rooms. The house will be in full Christmas décor between early November and early January for holiday tours.

After we left the Biltmore, we enjoyed driving through more of North Carolina and a brief visit to Tennessee and then Virginia, where we have stopped in Bristol for the evening. The trees in this part of the world have really started to put on their autumn show and we found ourselves exclaiming at their beauty as we climbed back into the mountains. After a wonderful dinner provided by the hotel, I got in a quick exercise session with the other “Healthy Heart DARlings” and am ready to call it a night! Home tomorrow!!

Title: America, the Beautiful

From Sea to Shining Sea!

Note: I returned Sunday afternoon from the NSDAR 2010 Schools Tour. I blogged daily about the trip on the KSDAR website, and decided to cross-post them here, too, just in case any non-KSDAR folks were interested in hearing about the trip. Read all of the posts in chronological order here, here, here, here, here, here, and here!

Day 8, October 15, 2010--Tamassee DAR School


Today we visited our fifth and final school of the 2010 NSDAR Schools Tour (the sixth DAR School—The Hillside—is located in New England, and is not on the tour). While the stories and backgrounds of the Crossnore students tugged my heart, and the KDS children completely charmed me with their affection for the DAR, it is the Tamassee students with whom I have fallen in love.

We arrived at Tamassee to a series of yellow, red, and blue balloons (the symbol of the DAR Schools committee during the Wright administration). We immediately collected a bag lunch and went to assigned cottages to eat our lunches and tour the cottages with the children. There are currently 40 students in pre-K through high school living in five cottages at Tamassee. I went to the California-Pouch Cottage, which is home to eight little boys aged 5-13. The oldest was away from a home visit, but the others were eager to talk and share their home (and “pet” lizard) with me.

For the last two years, the National Junior Committee has provided Wal-Mart Gift Cards to each child at Tamassee as a part of our gift to the schools through the Helen Pouch Memorial Fund. I was entrusted with the gift cards for the boys at California-Pouch, and enjoyed visiting with each boy, talking about Helen Pouch and the DAR, and then of course, seeing the excitement when they opened the cards! Some of the little boys lived in the cottage last year and remembered their trip to Wal-Mart. They eagerly shared their memories with the newer boys, and I loved watching their reactions!

After I left the boys cottage, I visited two other cottages—the New York Cottage for little girls and the Florida Cottage for middle school aged girls. I met the high school aged children later in the day as they served as Pages and Flag Bearers during the Dedication Ceremony. The entire Tamassee campus reminded me of a small village reminiscent of Norman Rockwell. Given their backgrounds, I am happy that we as DAR members can provide this experience for these children.

During the Dedication ceremony, we heard from two graduates of the program. These young women were truly amazing, having drawn on their positive experience at Tamassee to attend college and find careers in helping industries—one is an elementary school teacher and the other is a social worker for the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

After a wonderful barbecue dinner catered by an area restaurant, and a brief musical program conducted by two students, we called it an “early” night and traveled to Clemson, SC for the evening. In the morning, we will leave for Asheville, North Carolina, and a tour of the Biltmore!

Title: America, the Beautiful

And Crown thy Good with Brotherhood

Note: I returned Sunday afternoon from the NSDAR 2010 Schools Tour. I blogged daily about the trip on the KSDAR website, and decided to cross-post them here, too, just in case any non-KSDAR folks were interested in hearing about the trip. Read all of the posts in chronological order here, here, here, here, here, and here!

Day 7, October 14, 2010--Berry College


What a wonderful day at Berry College—the First DAR Approved School!

We arrived at Berry in time for lunch, held in their newly renovated student center. While at lunch, we heard from staff about the four pronged opportunities for work study at Berry. These include traditional work study, an entrepreneurial program for students, the Gates of Opportunity Scholars program, and the Berea College Student Enterprises.

After lunch, we left for a tour of the campus. Our bus tour was guided by the interim director of Oak Hill and the Martha Berry Museum. A Berry grad as well, she was most informative and provided a great tour. As my first truly guided campus tour of the week, I took many notes and learned so much about the college!

Following our tour, we moved on to Oak Hill Mansion and the Martha Berry Museum. We were then treated to dinner under the oaks on the Oak Hill grounds. Following dinner, we had a wonderful program presented by “Teddy Roosevelt”. This weekend, Berry College will celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Roosevelt’s visit to Berry, and he was on hand early to speak to our group, too!

I feel as though I should be telling you so much more about our day, particularly the student work opportunities and the campus at Berry, as well as the other schools. I expect that my first project upon returning home will be to start work on a program about our DAR Schools! Tomorrow, we head to South Carolina, and our sixth (and final) school on the tour—Tamassee DAR School!

Title: America, the Beautiful

Saturday, October 16, 2010

God shed his grace on thee

Note: These posts are cross-posted from another blog where I am blogging daily about the NSDAR 2010 Schools Tour. I was slow to realize that non-KSDAR folks might be interested to learn more about my trip, or the DAR, so I am cross-posting here, too. Read the previous posts in chronological order here, here, here, here, and here.

Day Five, October 13, 2010: Kate Duncan Smith DAR School, Grant, AL


Our day at Kate Duncan Smith DAR School started early and ended late, so I am afraid that this post is late in getting written. I did outline my thoughts last night, but saved the typing for Thursday morning as we drive to Rome, GA!

The day started with an almost parade-like atmosphere as our two tour busses left the hotel in Guntersville with a line of cars behind us and a police escort! Along the way we picked up the Illinois and Indiana busses from their hotel, and at one point, we came across another tour bus that looked as though it had been pulled over to wait for us! The ballet of tour busses on a two lane road with several local police, county sheriff, and we think even a state police car was rather comical! By the time we reached Grant, where KDS is located, there were six tour busses, countless cars, and numerous police officers all parading through the main street of town and onto the KDS campus. The banks and other businesses with marquees all had signs welcoming the DAR, and as we entered the campus, we were greeted by the high school band and all of the nearly 1,300 students waving flags and signs! While I had heard about KDS Dedication day, I was not prepared for the reception. This community truly has the DAR Spirit!

We spent about half an hour greeting the students, and then moved into the high school gym for the Dedication Day program. More than 300 DAR’s were seated on the floor, and the bleachers were filled with the students from Kindergarten through Twelfth grade. Older students served as pages and aides lining the center aisle, and other students carried in flags during the processional. The elementary students sang two songs for us (including “DAR, Oh How We Love You” which the high school Senior sitting next to me still remembered the words to, even though it has been eight years since she sang it at Dedication Day!), and our President General gave an inspiring talk about with Education.

After the Dedication Day ceremony, we moved on to the cafeteria for the famous KDS Basket Lunch, where members of the community brought in a huge amount of food to supplement the entrée baked by the school. Then we were turned loose to tour the campus, visit classrooms, and shop at the craft show. As you travel into Guntersville, and then on up to Grant, you don’t really realize that you are in the mountains, but the scenic overlook from the campus quickly reminds you the KDS truly is the Gem of Gunter Mountain.

We ended the day with a wonderful dinner, made most entertaining by the President General’s challenge to raise $3,500 by the end of the evening to tile the entrance to the Seimes Thompson Building. Thanks to a rousing round of bidding to don a skirt (I wish I had pictures to share!), as well as generous tipping of our celebrity waiters (school faculty and students), we raised more than $4,500! The evening ended with music provided by the high school choir, choral ensemble, and FFA String Band—a wonderful way to end a wonderful day. While I am learning that every school we support is different, I think that KDS, and by extension, the DAR, ranks at the top for integration in the community!

Title: America the Beautiful

America! America!

Note: These posts are cross-posted from another blog where I am blogging daily about the NSDAR 2010 Schools Tour. I was slow to realize that non-KSDAR folks might be interested to learn more about my trip, or the DAR, so I am cross-posting here, too. Read the previous posts in chronological order here, here, here, and here.

Day Five, October 12, 2010--On the Road, Kentucky to Alabama


I had the song lyrics “six days on the road” stuck in my head today, I suppose because we have settled into the middle part of this ‘road trip’ and particularly because today was almost entirely on the bus. We left Hazard, where we stayed last night, at about 8:00 a.m. and were soon headed south on I-75 into Tennessee. Our comfort stop at the Tennessee state line included a lovely walking path and many ladies took advantage of the opportunity to stretch their legs. The exercise was a good thing, though, as upon our return to the bus, we were rewarded with some of our KSDAR State Schools Chair delicious Irish Potato Candy!

We stopped for lunch at Piccadilly Cafeteria in Chattanooga, where we were greeted by ladies from the Chattanooga Chapter waving a DAR sign! I must say that the receiving line outside Piccadilly was the most unique site I’ve seen on this trip!

After lunch, the drive to Guntersville, AL, was pretty brief (just a couple of hours!), so I was able to join some of the others on a walk around the community and lake on which it is situated. The weather is warm for October, but the clouds we saw earlier in the day had cleared and the fun and fellowship were much enjoyed!

This evening, the Alabama Daughters treated us to a wonderful social hour, and we enjoyed dinner with KDS staff. It is an early night, for which we are grateful—tomorrow promises to be a 14 hour day, and we want to be at our best to greet the children at KDS!

Title: America, the Beatiful

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Birthday to Us!

Breaking into your regularly scheduled Schools Tour Updates to celebrate our 100th Blog Post here at the Melton Point!! Wow! It's taken two years, and we've hardly been as regular in our posting as I'm sure some would have liked, but I'm proud of us just the same for making it to this milestone! Here's to reaching 200 before we reach four years!!

Title: Happy Birthday song

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

...above the fruited plain!

Note: These posts are cross-posted from another blog where I am blogging daily about my trip. I was slow to realize that non-KSDAR folks might be interested to learn more about my trip, or the DAR, so I am posting a couple a day until I catch up! Read about Day One of the trip here, and Day Two here, and Day Three here.

Day Four, October 11, 2010--Hindman Settlement School


Today, we came home to Kentucky and Hindman Settlement School! We started the day in Boone, NC (by singing “Happy Birthday to Us”—120 years of DAR, today!!) and then traveled back into Tennessee and up into Virginia before finally reaching the Kentucky state line. The ladies on both busses were welcomed to Kentucky with a kind message and chocolate basketballs! We also took a quiz about Loretta Lynn (The Vice President General from Kentucky and I could not participate to win, but I’m afraid my 60% would not have put me in the running, anyhow!) to get everyone in the Kentucky mood. By the way, the other Kentucky lady on the trip won the North Carolina welcome quiz about the Andy Griffith Show yesterday with a perfect score—who knew she had such affection for Mayberry?!

We arrived in Hindman to a wonderful Kentucky greeting! The State Regent and several state officers made the trip to Hindman, as well as our State Schools Chair and a large group of Daughters who rode the bus from Lexington! I heard several comments about the large number of Kentucky ladies, and about what a wonderful show of hospitality our Daughters put on—and this was before we received wonderful goody bags prepared by the KSDAR’s!

We had one of the famously delicious Hindman meals, followed by a program that included Knott County students singing traditional mountain songs and sharing stories they have learned from their family members. We had nearly three hours to tour the grounds, including stops at the Chapel in the Trees, Uncle Solomon Everidge’s cabin, the Knott County Library (where several of the artisans who create for Hindman were on hand to discuss their craft), the James Still Learning Center (where we learned more about the Dyslexia programs offered at Hindman and in the local schools), and the Marie Stewart Gift Shop. Believe me, it was hard to fit it all in!

After our busy afternoon, we headed back to the May Stone Building for what I like to think of as Thanksgiving Dinner (Happy Turkey Day, Canada!) and a presentation of Crossing Mountains, the story of the Hindman Settlement School presented by Looking for Lillith Theatre Company. What a fabulous production!! I think the best part was when Lois Combs Weinberg slipped into the back mostly unnoticed. I later learned that she had not seen the production before, but she was clearly pleased with the result, and the actresses were so excited to see her when they came off stage.

We are staying in Hazard tonight, and we depart early tomorrow morning for Alabama. Tomorrow will be spent entirely on the road, so I expect to see some great scenery!

Title: America, the Beautiful

...for purple mountain majesties...

Note: These posts are cross-posted from another blog where I am blogging daily about my trip. I was slow to realize that non-KSDAR folks might be interested to learn more about my trip, or the DAR, so I am posting a couple a day until I catch up! Read about Day One of the trip here, and Day Two here.

Day Three, October 10, 2010--The Crossnore School


I simply cannot express sufficiently how awed I was by our day today. The day started with a 4.5 hour drive from Roanoke, Virginia, to Crossnore, North Carolina, by way of east Tennessee. We enjoyed many beautiful vistas from our bus windows, and enjoyed getting to know that ladies sitting around us a little better.

We arrived at the Crossnore School at 11:30 and enjoyed a “red carpet welcome” from students and staff before entering the chapel for their Sunday morning service. Executive Director Dr. Phyllis Crain shared with us her experience fighting cancer, for which she had spine and liver surgery earlier this year. The connections she drew between her homesickness while receiving treatment at M.D. Anderson for the hills of North Carolina and the desire she has for her heavenly home were striking and their were few dry eyes in the chapel.

Following chapel, we enjoyed a wonderful luncheon and then enjoyed an update on activities at Crossnore and enjoyed a musical presentation by the choir and two drama students. I was struck by how impressive and confident the members of the choir were—these young ladies could hold their own against any high school choir I’ve seen. This is truly a testament to the work Dr. Crain and the staff does at Crossnore, as the circumstances in the lives of the approximately 70 students who live at the school are not those that lend themselves to confidence and success in teenagers.

After the program, we were free to tour the campus grounds, including their wonderful equine therapy program (I got up close and personal with “Willow”, a miniature horse), the cottages where the residential students live, and of course the Crossnore Weavers! This evening, we moved on to the Broyhill Inn at Appalachian State University, where we enjoyed dinner and a fashion show of Crossnore Weavers fashions. Mrs. Withers and I were both asked to “model” in the show, and we had a great time doing so! I have asked the Crossnore staff member who took a picture of us to send me a copy, and I will share that with you when I receive it!

Tomorrow, we head to Kentucky, and Hindman Settlement School! I am looking forward to getting to see you all, and to introduce our Kentucky Daughters to some of the wonderful friends we’re making on the tour!

Title: America the Beautiful

Monday, October 11, 2010

...for amber waves of grain...

Note: These posts are cross-posted from another blog where I am blogging daily about my trip. I was slow to realize that other people might be interested to learn more about my trip, or the DAR, so I am posting a couple a day until I catch up! Read about the first day here.

Day Two, October 9, 2010 --D.C. to Roanoke, VA


The 2010 NSDAR Schools Tour is underway! We left Washington at noon today, armed with box lunches (and wonderful terry cloth “bibs” that cover your entire front and lap so spills are easily contained—I think I see a new project for our Veterans committee!). We are divided into two busses, and our President General will spend half the trip on one bus, and then she will swap her seat with the First Vice President General so that all on the tour can mingle with both. Today, I sat with my roommate, of Georgia, and immediately behind Kentucky’s own Vice President General and another VPG from New York.

Today’s route took us south into Virginia to Roanoke, where we have stopped at the Hotel Roanoke for the evening. This hotel has a wonderful history, built in the 1880’s by the predecessors of the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The railroad closed the hotel in 1989, but it was renovated and reopened in 1995 by Doubletree, who partnered with local government, Virginia Tech, local businesses and former patrons who looked forward to the reopening of their hotel on a multi-million dollar renovation and restoration of the facility.

I could easily imagine why Kentucky’s early settlers fell in love with our home state, as the rolling hills of Central Virginia look much like Central Kentucky!

This evening, we will gather for dinner and (hopefully) a quick workout before bed. Luggage is to be outside our door at 6:00 a.m., so I think that on this trip “DAR” will certainly stand for “Dress And Run”! Tomorrow morning, we will head to Crossnore School in Crossnore, NC. I look forward to attending Chapel with the students, followed by lunch and a tour of the campus!

Title: America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies...

Note: As I mentioned the other day, I am on a bus tour of the southeastern United States with the DAR. I am blogging about the trip on our State DAR Blog, but decided I would cross-post them here, as well, since my posts on facebook might lead people to wonder why I have run away from home! I just submitted my fourth post for the other blog, so will post two a day here until I've caught up!

Day One, October 8--Travel to D.C.


Our State Regent has generously offered to share this space with me over the course of the next week as I take part in the NSDAR 2010 Schools Tour. I will accompany 72 other women, including our President General Merry Ann Wright and our very own Vice President General Sharon Withers, on a nine day tour of the Southeastern United States, with stops at Crossnore, Hindman Settlement School, Kate Duncan Smith DAR School, Berry College and Tamassee DAR School. I also look forward to visiting the Biltmore Estate and dining at the Martha Washington Inn at the end of the tour.

Like many of you, I am familiar with the staff and campus of Hindman Settlement School, but this will be my first visit to any of the other schools we support through donations of money, clothing, and Campbell’s Soup labels. I look forward to sharing the experience with the Kentucky Daughters!

The tour starts Saturday, October 9, at the close of the National Board of Management meeting. I am writing this first post on Friday at 5:00 a.m., having just boarded an Amtrak train in Maysville. I should arrive in D.C. in about thirteen hours and look forward to a good night’s sleep before heading back out of town tomorrow! If you have questions along the way, please comment on the blog or send me an email!

P.S. It is now just after 1:30 p.m., and I have to add that for all of the benefits of air travel, there really is no better way to see our country than by rail. I have a completely new appreciation for the beauty of West Virginia, as we spent much of them morning traveling through the visually stunning New River Gorge. I will send this post on to our webmaster as soon as I get a reliable wi-fi signal, and hopefully you will be reading it soon!

Title: America the Beautiful, words by Katharine Lee Bates

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I'll be gone 500 miles when the day is done

Note: I wrote this Friday, October 8. Sorry for any confusion!

Well friends, the Melton Point is a point divided (or rather, two points…?) for the next 10 days. I am heading to D.C. to embark on a nine day bus tour of the southeastern United States with about 75 DAR members, and J will remain at home working on the bathroom. Yes, we are all in agreement that I get the better end of the stick on this one! Hopefully, J will make a few appearances here with updates on bathroom so that we are all in the loop!

On with the Thursday update (fair warning, it’s a doozy, so you might want to refresh that cup of coffee before you get started)!

October 7, 2010: I started the day bright and early by returning the Hilti to the rental place, and had a quick conversation with one of the owners about our subfloor issue. Up to that point, I had assumed I would have to cut out the existing (sub-standard) subfloor and start over from scratch. He suggested that instead of removing the floor, I simply add a layer of 5/8” plywood over the top of the ¼” plywood subfloor. I laughed when he suggested that I get other recommendations rather than simply taking his word for it, as I was already compiling a mental list of potential experts to weigh in on this one!

I left the tool rental and headed towards Lowe’s, quickly dialing my parents to get their advice. My dad joined the list of incredulous folks who couldn’t believe I was working with a ¼” subfloor, but quickly agreed that with the help of the thicker wood, Liquid Nails and some screws, I would be okay.

At Lowe’s, I ran the idea past the guys at the Projects desk and a pretty knowledgeable man in Flooring. I think they all thought I was crazy with talk of my ¼” subfloor (especially the Flooring guy), but they agreed that my plan would work. Thanks to the saw they have on site, I was soon on my way with my new subfloor ready to install. I have to say, the trip home (less than a mile) was by far my most nerve-wracking experience using Sandy as a pick up. The largest piece of plywood was 4’ x 5’, and Sandy is just barely four feet across the back floorboard. Remember when we brought J’s TV home on Man O’ War? This time, I drove even slower (20 mph was my top speed, and I really preferred 15 mph) and used my hazard lights. It was such a relief to pull into our driveway!

I quickly realized that the floor wasn’t quite smooth enough (it looked so much better Wednesday evening!), so went to work with our trusty hammer and chisel again. Satisfied, I carried in the wood to do a dry fit, where I learned that my 5’ x 6’ bathroom is actually just shy of six feet long. “Measure twice, cut once?” Yeah, more like “work from memory, cut, realize it’s still too big, measure, mark, make the second cuts with a jig saw and be grateful your curvy lines won’t show!”

After that came liquid nails…

And the drill to firmly attach the new top layer to the old bottom layer to the joists below… While I learned that I’m pretty darn good with all of the steps up to this point (well, maybe not measuring, but I problem solved that one pretty successfully), I am not good at using the drill to drive wood screws. Even with pre-drilled holes, I managed to strip out the heads on most of the screws I tried to put in.

Now, the few I got in successfully were great—there isn’t much like the feeling of the entire board beneath your feet tightening down at the end when it grips the floor joist and tells you it isn’t going anywhere! The quest for that elusive feeling kept me going longer than I should have, and I left J with a bunch of screws to fix somehow…

Now, you may be wondering why I’ve been pushing to get to this point if I’m leaving on a trip. Well, after the plumbers dismantled my toilet, they told me that they would need to come back two more times: once to reinstall the pipe from the basement into the bathroom, and then again after we install our tile to install the flange and set the toilet. I knew the J would have enough on his hands with me gone next week and likely wouldn’t want to take time off work to deal with the plumbers, so it was important to me that I at least get their first trip back complete before leaving. So, at 3:00 Thursday afternoon, the plumbers arrived and installed the new toilet pipe. I must confess, I was rather proud when they expressed how impressed they were with all we’ve done to the bathroom since they last saw it. Also, I took advantage of the fact that the pipe needed to be reinstalled anyway to have them move it over a few inches (thus, also moving the toilet over a few inches. This will center the toilet between the new vanity and the shower, which will look nicer and hopefully feel nicer for our guests, too.

My last bathroom related project before I left was to sort through the marble tiles we picked up last Saturday and choose my favorites, then lay them out for J. I started this project mid-afternoon, but quickly realized that one of the boxes we purchased was the wrong size. So I ran to the tile shop, swapped it out, ran some other errands (like picking up the drycleaning I needed before I could begin to pack), attended an event at church, and finally got around to arranging tile at about 11:00 last night. I even labeled each tile and made a little map for J to follow!

So that’s the very long update for Thursday, October 7. I suspect that there will not be any work done today (Friday), as I stayed up all night packing and prepping to leave (at 3:00 a.m. this morning), and J didn’t really get any sleep, either. I am hoping that he gets a great night’s sleep tonight and is ready to move forward tomorrow!

Number of trips for pick up Sandy—one
Number of injuries—none requiring immediate medical attention, but general muscle aches from running the Hilti, knuckle aches from a few too many misses with the hammer and chisel, and microscopic slices and dices from clearing the floor and installing the new subfloor are starting to add up.

Title: City of New Orleans (but seeing as Lexington is 500 miles from D.C. and I’m taking a train to get there, it seemed appropriate.), by Arlo Guthrie

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Can we build it? (part 2)

Well, in short, I don't know if we can build it, but we sure can demo it!

Tuesday, October 5--I started the day by returning RIP to Home Depot, where the friendly employee (not Jimmy) did a couple of things right and a couple of things wrong.

Right: Giving me my money back after I explained tht RIP didn't work
Wrong: Calling me an "HGTV wife" who "expects projects to be finished in 30 minutes"

Um...I've been watching This Old House (which lasts weeks, because nothing is quick about renovating old houses) since before I could spell Bob Villa and helping my folks, who built their own house by hand mind you, for years. I don't "expect" to finish a project like this in 30 minutes. I do "expect" the machine you rented me to accomplish more work in less time than I can get done with a hammer and chisel.

Much of the rest of the day was spent with the hammer and chisel, as well as some quality time with Google. We finally made it through the entire underlayment to the subfloor (well, J cleared 2 square inches down to the subfloor), which gave us a complete idea of what we were working with.

# trips for Pick-Up Sandy: One, returning RIP to HD
# injuries: multiple small cuts from the tile, only one serious enough to pull out a band-aid

October 6--The day started with a phone call to our tile shop for their suggestions, followed by a phone call and trip to a local tool rental shop. Reasons why Wilson Brothers is better:

1. No insinuations that this is my husband's project and that I'm not capable or knowledgable enough to figure it out
2. Far better selection (the tool I ended up going with, a Hilti chipping hammer, came in an array of weights, including two smaller than what I saw at HD's tool shop yesterday).
3. The shop guy let me handle both of the smaller chipping hammers, explained the benefits of both, then told me that if the larger of the two didn't work, I could always bring it back to swap for the lighter one on the same, single, rental.
4. It's always nice to buy local
5. They actually gave me the right tool for the job!

Maybe 3 hours of labor later, I had a clear floor, down to the subfloor. SO exciting to have finished the tile removal part of this process, even if I am still behind by a couple of days.
Bad news: I went through the subfloor in several places, necessitating a larger patch that planned.
Good news: turns out our subfloor is thinner than it should be to lay tile over it. Apparently (thanks, Google), 5/8" is standard, and even minimum code. So...1/4" subfloor? Not gonna hack it. Why is this good? Well, it's not, but I don't think I would have realized how big an issue this was if I hadn't been straddling holes and carefully choosing my steps to be sure I was walking over floors joists. I'm not at all thrilled that bringing the subfloor up to code is going to cause my marble to be about 1/4" higher than the hardwood in the hallway, but it's a price I'm willing to pay to get it right.

# trips for Pick Up Sandy: none, the Hilti fit neatly in the trunk
# injuries: many more micro cuts and punctures, but none requiring band-aids

Title: more Bob the Builder theme song fun

Monday, October 4, 2010

Can we build it?

September 8--I discover a leak coming from the toilet in our main bathroom

September 9--The plumbers I called tell me that the flange is completely rusted/broken and cannot be replaced until the subfloor beneath the toilet (also broken and rotten) is replaced. You can read more about that here, but the basic lesson learned is PO (Previous Owner) failed to brace the plywood subfloor correctly, and put the toilet right at the edge of a piece of plywood, so every time someone sat on the toilet, the entire floor flexed.

September 13-15--I searched high and low for ceramic tile that matches the floor. I failed. It seems that tile, like everything else for the home, comes in and out of style. Currently, our style is out. So, like the latest designer to be cut on Project Runway, our ceramic tile has been "auffed".

September 22 (ish)--J mentions that going downstairs to use the bathroom and shower is getting old, and asks how long it's going to take to fix the bathroom. I start looking for a bargain on marble tile.

September 30--I meet Tracey at our local Tile Shop, who negotiates a good deal on marble tile with me, and promises to teach me how to lay it at their free Saturday morning class.

October 2--J and I take "tile class" and purchase 40 square feet of carrera marble (we really only need 30 square feet, but this gives us the chance to pull our favorite tiles and return the rest...or make LOTS of mistakes cutting!), backerboard, thinset, grout, tape, screws, etc.

October 3--I make up a list of everything that will have to be done, and then I prepare a timeline laying out exactly where each step falls along the timeline. J makes me promise not to be so committed to the schedule that I get upset if we get off schedule. I agree, confident in my schedule and certain we won't get off pace. So, confident in myself and my schedule, I get started: box up everything in the vanity and medicine cabinet, establish a staging area in the living room, prep for the next day. Things are going so well, I ask J to give me a hand with a couple tasks on Monday's list. We move the toilet out of the room, take down a towel bar and remove the medicine cabinet.

Cue the foreboding music on our happy little timeline...

As you can see, PO left us an insanely large, evidently unnecesary hole in the wall, hidden behind the medicine cabinet (which, by the way, he'd attached to the wall with 8 screws--3 different types of screw heads). The wiring he conveniently cut around is also apparently unnecessary--the piece on the left isn't attached to anything, and I'm hoping it doesn't go to anything on the right, either. I've learned not to get my hopes up, though, and have just avoided looking.

October 4--All that is left on today's list is to remove the vanity and tile, then call a furniture refinisher in Midway to discuss my antique dresser (first mentioned here, well over a year ago). Well, the sink and vanity top came off fairly easily, and the use of "the Melton principle" got the vanity base out. I muscled the dresser out of the basement and into my car, then convinced J to join me on a rather chilly drive out to Midway to deliver the dresser. The owner made a great case for doing the complete job of turning our dresser into a vanity, and we may give him a chance.

On my way back home after dropping J back at the office, I decided to run by Home Depot's Tool Rental shop, because last week an employee told me they had several options for removing ceramic tile. Unfortunately for me, that employee wasn't on the clock today, and I got stuck with Jimmy, who assured me that the General Stripper FCS16 (or something like that...), a.k.a. RIP-R-STRIPPER, was the ONLY tool they had that could do the job. He showed me how to use the machine, gave me an attachement for ceramic tile, assured me I didn't need an operators manual, loaded RIP in my car, and sent me on my way. I got RIP out of my car and up one step before my back protested lifting it again. I called J in tears, and he assured me that the 24 hour rental cost was cheaper than a back injury. He promised to move RIP inside for me when he got home.

RIP failed to get the tile up. You want to dig a hole in the floor? RIP's your tool. You want to pop ceramic tile up? Not the tool for the job. After finding the operator's manual online, J found that the attachment the company recommends is not the one Jimmy sent home with me. After trial, error, and Google, we found that the chisel method is far more effective than RIP, and manged to take up 6 or 7 tiles before calling it a night.

We are now behind schedule. J has avoided saying "I told you so", but I'm already wracked with guilt. Luckily, I built in several cushion days, and have one scheduled for Wednesday. Maybe we can get back on track before I leave Friday for 10 days...

Almost 30 days since the Melton Point became a "one hole-er", here are the stats:
Number of times Sandy has served as the family pick-up truck: 3 (transporting backerboard, our vanity-to-be, and the tile "removal" machine
Number of injuries: 2 requiring bandaids, a stubbed toe, a few bruises and a pulled back muscle

Title: Using Bob the Builder's theme song...expect to see more of this one, but I can't promise how long it will take before you get the next line...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

If you're happy and you know, clap your hands!

This post was actually started a couple of weeks ago, when my dad pointed out that I needed a happy blog post. I had called to share that my new front door had finally been installed, and he observed that we had finally done something to our house, rather than the house doing something to us! So, because I know you're wondering how the bathroom is going (fair warning, that will NOT be a happy post), I thought I better get this post up quickly!

You will remember that the front of our house was overtaken by huge, out of control, shrubs:

Which J ripped out in July/August, leaving us with a blank slate:

After much debate and research, we settled on the Dallas Blue variety of switchgrass, Royal Burgundy Barberry and monekygrass (no idea what variety--we got this out of my folks back yard). I spent many hours one afternoon a couple weeks ago with my mom planting the front yard, and a couple days later our new front door and storm door were installed. We are thrilled (as is our new addition for Halloween--Julius) with these low maintenance, bred to die back or just not get too big, plants! I'm not so thrilled with the allergy I developed to something I pulled up while planting them, but I've mostly recovered...

Still to do:
  • Paint the shutters black (We're considering replacing the louvered shutters with paneled shutters to match the door, but after driving around the neighborhood, we've decided that's an expense that we can put off for a while since everyone else who has upgraded to a paneled door has kept their louvered shutters)
  • Replace the doorbell (still ugly brass)
  • Replace the porch light (also still ugly brass)
  • Rehang the flag pole

Longterm things to do: Replace the mailbox/mailbox post and add a trellis for the rose plant immediately around the corner of the house next to the driveway

Despite everything Previous Owner and this house has done to us, my Dad was right--it's a good feeling to be proactive and do something to the house! I love pulling up outside and being greeted by our new front door and plantings, and I love locking the storm door (we bought one with a deadbolt!) and leaving the entry door open during the day. Even Zeppelin is getting used to seeing people walk by outside!

Stay tuned: We're trying to take ownership over the mess that is our main bathroom and take the fix to the next level with a nice little renovation while we're at it. True to form, house (and PO) aren't making it easy on us...

Title: Children's song