Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ad Astra Per Aspera*

Which, loosely translated, means "My rear hurts; give me an aspirin."

As a Kansan, I have lived up to my state's motto over the last weekend and into the beginning of this week. No, I haven't been sitting on my rear all this time. But I did keep dragging it around.

I have embarked on my short-lived (please, may it be so) career as a house flipper. We are fixing up my dad's house before we place it on the market. We being the spousal unit and I. We being the operative word because it would cost too too much to employ others to do all the things that need doing. So, we leave the big ones up to the experts (new roof, new flooring, regrading soil, killing poison oak, etc.) and take on the smaller ones ourselves (refurbish decorative porch posts, paint bathroom tile and all walls and ceilings and kitchen cabinets, etc.)

Smaller by comparison, that is. Not so small for the DIY-disinclined. Take the porch posts for example. PLEASE. The plan was to scrape and paint this weekend. No, check that. This Saturday. A one day job. But then we discovered one of the nightmares of any home owner.

Not termites, thank the Lord.

circa 1950 porch postWood rot. Four inches of it at least, up into the bottom of every post (four of them).

Soooo, we need to replace these fifty-year-old posts. Well, everything between them, too, because between a pair of posts is a cute picket fence type of decorative arrangement. And the pickets and stretchers to which they were nailed had already seen their glory days. I loosely use the term nailed, of course. They were attached, in some cases, by a rusty memory of a nail.

This would make the job a two-day affair, then. So we make a sketch, make a plan, take measurements, head out to the big box home improvement store, make our purchase. We even get to use one of those big blue carts with six wheels for hauling planks and plywood. Very contractor-like of us.

Then we begin cutting, begin making mistakes, go back to the store to pick up another length of picket wood because one of them split on us. We work until 11 pm. (The miter saw is new to us; Wood Shop 101 was over twenty years ago for me. Like speaking Russian, I've lost the knack for using power tools since I haven't manipulated any in an epoch or two.)

We watch Underworld until 1 AM.

We get around the next day at 10 and start in again. We discover we're two trim pieces short because of our mistakes from last night, so it's back to the store for another length of it. (A 30-40 minutes per round trip.) We decide to pry loose one of the pairs of posts to use it as a template. Upon which we discover more rot above one of the posts, so now there's nothing to nail a new cap board to.

New plan. Another trip to buy more wood.

All-in-all there were two more trips to the store that day. And we installed only two posts, some of their trim pieces, and we split the first stretcher we tried to screw in. That was the last thing we did this weekend. It had been a comedy of errors, but by then we were done laughing.

So our weekend warrior project dragged on into this week. And my rear dragged with it, especially when it came to scooting around to paint the lower part of the posts and pickets. And every time I went back to work on them this Monday and Tuesday, I forgot to take along my bottle of Ibuprofen. Well, we kept forgetting lots of things...scraper, level, God-given good sense...

Replacing porch posts

New posts to the left, old posts to the right.


By the way, I've still got two spots left open for my Pay It Forward deal. See the previous post, One good turn, for deails. Also, I hope to have more knitting content this week. No grand finish of anything, just an update of Pucci Mama.

*Literal translation: "To the stars, with difficulty"

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