I’m sitting here eating pistachio ice cream, enjoying the tail end of summer as the first yellow leaves from our honey locust fall along the lane. The change of seasons never fails to bring the passage of time under the microscope – passing, as it does, in measured succession. But, for once, I feel on top of time in a way I haven’t since we moved here. Maybe it’s because I’m a veteran of New England autumns now (this will be my third – since we moved here mid-autumn 2014, fourth if you count the autumn we purchased Amber Lane!). But, more likely, it’s because we’ve finally settled in a bit – we finally know what we’re doing around here – and we finally have a bit of a routine, a schedule of sorts.
It is as follows (since I’m sure you’re dying to know…)
8:30am… give or take, wake up —> groggy work of a misdirected sort that spirals neatly into a surprise “before-breakfast” project that ends up taking entirely too long but, nonetheless, gets finished —> then breakfast at noon: an elaborate affair with several kinds of berries and an invariably mushy banana (why?! I can’t control them!), hot tea or coffee unless it’s so hot outside we can’t think straight, cribbage with undeniable regularity and a unbending sense of competition, and some sort of silliness that slides toward insanity until veering a sharp right to the “list of things we’ll do today” conversation —> breakfast ends with me reclining on my “digestion couch” as we go over the plan for the day or week (what do we need to order? what materials are we missing from Home Depot? what needs to happen so we can stay on schedule?) —> after breakfast, Fitz does something productive and self-directed and I make Phone Calls: requesting quotes for materials, begging contractors to appear, interviewing new contractors, selling things on Craig’s List, helping run the company I danced with in SF, and stolen moments with friends from afar —> then it’s back for the meat of the day… the Big Project… and wherever that takes us: the remaining hours are filled with accomplishment and set back in due course, interrupted by gulps of ice tea from the fridge + handfuls of nuts/pretzels/dried fruit —> and then the evening ritual… This involves Cooking… unless it involves Left-Overs… unless Big Project took entirely too long, in which case it involves Snack. Then, depending on the remaining hours, we find equal enjoyment in designing something for the cafe… researching something for the cafe… and our new favorite: watching TV!! Yes, my friends, the crown jewel of the evening is time in front of this glorious box. We’ve unlocked a whole new world with this thing (think old, free from Craig’s List, no channels – just burned DVDs of old TV shows)… and it’s amazing. —> All this is, of course, followed by sleep. Our precious and deserved 8 hours.
Notice blog writing has escaped from the daily routine. I’m attempting to wrangle her back in tonight’s “remaining hours” while Fitz occupies himself playing Nintendo (yes, old school Nintendo… he’s pretty adorable playing it too!).
We have a routine here and it’s operating quite smoothly. So… you know what that means —> a big change must be right around the corner!
Yes, that’s right… our lovely routine will soon be tossed out the window when we FINISH this renovation! Finish. As in: complete. Done. No more tools. Less money out and perhaps, just maybe, some money IN (?!).
As eager as we are to finish (and we are), it will be bittersweet when we pack up the tool boxes and bins… as I convince Fitz that, no, he doesn’t need to keep 87 pairs of pliers for the “next project”… 1 will suffice… I mean, this is our life now and has been for a glorious year and a half. An unexpected chapter, perhaps, but – then again – I simply can’t imagine it happening any other way now. Can you?
Our goal is to call for inspections at the end of September – and take it from there. Originally, we’d hoped to be done by the end of August, and we will be done with a vast majority in the next few days (all the “rooms” will be done inside of this week!)… but pesky projects remain, like darkening rain clouds over our to-do-list-filled heads. Our espresso bar sits untouched – we need to lay the counter tops, have it plumbed and fixtures tied in, and the counter face needs to be installed. And our outside projects sit in bedraggled fashion, haphazard and ignored as they’re continuously pushed to “next week.” So September will be filled to the brim, just like every other month, as we stumble along the path toward done!
Speaking of done, let’s get back to the Library. That story is almost done, I promise! And then we can move you down to the first floor projects. A lot has been happening here, that’s for sure!
The Hardwood Floors.
When we purchased the property, this room was decked out in boring grey law office carpet (I think there is a brand called Boring Law Office Carpet – you can get it in grey and beige…) One of the very first things we did was to rip up that crazy carpet and let these beauties breathe! It was a wonderful discovery to unearth these hardwoods but they won’t come without quite a price.
First up on the agenda: fill the gaping holes in our 200 year old floors. These holes came in a variety of sizes… and shapes. Smallest holes: wood fill. No big deal. Bigger holes… more complicated. Our rule was if you could see the espresso bar (downstairs), you had to fill it. Our main concern was to make the floor water-tight so our clumsy coffee-spilling customers don’t shower our heads with their forgotten cups of “oops!”.
Several of the holes got filled with clear caulk – many layers thick. That seemed to work pretty well for the medium size holes. But, for the really big guys, we had to transition to the big guns: wood. See below for Fitz’ ingenious solutions!
After a laborious amount of time filling holes, we were ready to stain!
Are your knees aching yet?
Next up: another ingenious solution. We needed to plug up the gaps between the boards – some of the biggest offenders of the “I can see the espresso bar!” rule. We spent MONTHS trying to figure out the best solution. I’m presenting this entire scenario a bit casually here but please know this floor haunted us! There were so many routes we could go with the gaps in the floor and leaving them alone because they “have character” wasn’t an option. We researched online, talked to people at Home Depot, asked people who came by Amber Lane for one reason or another, talked to our knowledgeable parents… But the quandry remained. How to close the gaps in the floor with a material that would understand that wood expands and contracts with the seasons?!
We considered using black caulk – which would be a good idea (if you’re on the hunt right now!). Or, as another option, try clear! But our gaps were pretty big. We’d have cleaned out the Hadley Home Depot caulk aisle for many weeks.
In the end: ROPE! Yes, you heard me correctly. Rope.
With the rope in place, we were finally ready to polyurethane!
A dicey step no matter how you slice it. Destined to be complicated despite our best intentions and attempts at ventilation… If you’ve never sealed something with polyurethane, what you have to keep in mind is that it sets… and it sets quickly! Once you start, there is no turning back… or to the side… or anywhere else but FORWARD. Our mantra: Keep A Wet Edge. Sometimes the temperature and humidity are in your favor and sometimes you’re stumbling over yourself at breakneck speed to keep even strokes… “Don’t miss anything”… “Go faster! It’s drying!” … “Oh wait you missed a spot! Oh you can’t get back over there?!” … “Well, then, keep going!” “Faster! But get every spot!” … So there’s lots of shouting and high intensity drama… made all the more confusing by the fumes and their increasing influence over your ability to keep reason and clarity at the forefront of the task at hand.
It was during 1 of these three coats of poly that I coined the term “marbled.” As in: “I think we need to lay down now. I’m so marbled.”
All that to say… voila! Some refurnished hardwood floors for ya, thank you very much!