Update: tearing down some walls

The temperatures have dropped. Jack Frost has been leaving painted crystal feathers on our windows.


Tig has been hard at work tearing down plaster and lath in order to see the structures underneath. In the process, he found two abandoned mouse nests and a full mouse skeleton.



Our plans have morphed a quite a bit. It involves opening up walls to let in southern light exposure into the dark middle room (dining room). It involves beams and LVL (laminated veneer lumber), loads, and masonry. more on the new vision later.



The space is now lighter, and the pile of lath is rapidly growing. Unlike last time, I’m loathe to toss everything in the dumpster. I’ve been researching creative ways to use lath, including lath walls, lath butcher block, lath tables and such.



The biggest change in our lives from our first renovations is having children to contend with. That means I don’t get to help Tig as much as I would like. For safety reasons, the kiddos are not allowed into the deconstruction zones. But they will happily play for an hour or two in the upstairs rooms with some pieces of wood.

The deconstruction work is slowing down. We need to pause to get consults from a structural engineer and a stonemasonery, as well as permit approvals for any structural work.


The rat and the shoe

Day One of home renovations, woohoo! But first, a peek at the dining room ceiling before we decided to take it down.
Our ceiling had masonite boards, which we were afraid were hiding something unpleasant. You can see the boards look a bit wavy. Now onto the first day, with our crappy phone pictures.

Is this unpleasant enough? Lucky for us, our friends Mark and Andrew came to help Tig out.

The lathe behind the plaster was thick, unlike anything we’ve seen before, and filled with square nails. But wait, there’s more…

On top of a section of the lathe, is a nice thick layer of droppings.

And more on the floor

Luckily, we didn’t find any live animals, but Tig did find this rat’s skull.

And a shoe. We heard that some people put shoes in the walls of houses for good luck, or to ward off evil spirits.

The cleaned up ceiling, after some sawsalling around the edges. We’re thinking the rat may have gotten in through the hole near the top of the picture.

How’s that for a first day? A big thanks to Mark and Andrew for lending a hand.

Welcome to the Purple Palace

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Welcome to our new home, aka the Purple Palace. Have you ever tried to have a one-and-a-half-hour home closing meeting with a three-year old and a five-year old? Luckily, the kiddos were awesomely patient and we became the new owners.

Our new-old home was built in 1853. I wish I could bless you with Smell-O-Vision. It has wall-to-wall carpeting, layers and layers of wallpaper, and strangely enough, windows that rest on the ground on the second floor. We’re excited to get started!

Where have we been?

It’s been a long time since we’ve visited this space. Here’s the last 2 years of our lives wrapped up in 4+ minutes.

While we were cruising the Exumas, Bahamas, Tig met his future boss on a sandy beach. We had friends (our side) /family (their side) in common and within five minutes of getting to know one another, Tig was offered a summer job in mid-coast Maine. After a summer Serena really enjoyed it and wanted to put down roots. And so, here we are.

Finishing the Arbor

Finding relatively cheap white cedar in 2″x8″ sizes is nearly impossible. Our fence panels and posts are all made of white cedar, which is much less expensive than western red cedar. And unfortunately, the only 2×8 cedar I could find was western red cedar. I debated other materials, but decided to stick with cedar so everything would weather at the same rate.

So before I go and cut my expensive cedar for the arbor, I decided to buy a 2×8 pine board to use as a visual test. Just for comparison, the western red cedar cost almost 20 times more than the pine. The picture below has the pine board up as a temporary arbor.

temporary arbor

Serena commented that it kind of looks like a Chinatown gate. Not exactly the homey look we were going for. But I assured her, that with the cross pieces, it will look better. So she approved, and off to work on the real cedar. Continue reading

Long Arbor Post, Part 2

After putting in the first post,worked on second one, which went much quicker.

Gratuitous baby shot. Was aiming at the men, I swear! Tig’s strange headgear getup was after I reprimanded him for not wearing sunscreen.

The header pieces are still in the basement. They need to be cut in accordance to the design., then stained before attaching to the posts. So put in a 2 X 4 to hold it together for now. Here’s Tig trying to “level” the posts by hanging off one.

Long Arbor Post, Part 1

After picking up the custom cedar fence pieces, Tig primed and stained them in the basement; the last coat went on after the little one went to sleep. On a Saturday morning, the 5th fence panel went in.

The existing posts on each side of the walkway had to be replaced with taller posts for the arbor (if we had more foresight, we would have designed everything from the get-go). Continue reading