On Saturday Hazel had me up at 6:30 with the first rays of light over the trees, so I snuck her out of the house and we took a nice long walk around the neighborhood before anyone else was up. Our usual morning route maps out at about a mile and a quarter, and by the time she’s pulled me down the hill and back up again, she’s worked off her early morning energy and is ready for some food. After getting some breakfast and spending a little time with the girls, I brought some tools up from the basement and started demoing the half-wall on the front porch.

To recap, the front porch had been enclosed sometime in the 1940’s, and the area to the right of the front door was used as the waiting room for the doctor’s office. It was furnished with wood panel-faced drywall and a dark green carpet that was probably very fashionable during the Eisenhower administration. At one point there was a radiator out there to attempt to heat an area with little to no insulation, which the doctor had moved from the dining room. We’ve been using the space as catchall storage since we moved in, so it’s been cluttered with all kinds of crap for years. In 2005 I went out and rolled three coats of Kilz over the paneling to try and brighten things up, but the dark windows, carpet, and ceiling kept things feeling grim out there.


The half-wall was meant as a windbreak for the unfortunates sitting in the waiting room, and really did nothing but make the whole place look and feel darker. We’re looking to brighten the whole place up on the cheap, so I took it down with a crowbar and a hammer. It took only about a half an hour to pull out completely, and the debris filled two contractor’s bags. Inside the wall I found Christi’s car keys, deposited there sometime in 2011 by Finley, who, at the time, was fascinated by a hole in the wall left by the doorknob. Apparently someone in an earlier decade found it equally fascinating, because I found a second set of car keys next to hers, from a 70’s era Ford (years on the repossession lot taught me a lot about identifying keys).


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After I’d bagged the debris I cut up some leftover drywall to patch the hole in the wall, and taped and mudded it. I was trimming a second patch to cover another section of wall that had been holed and then covered in tape when the blade of the boxcutter hopped over my guide and bit into my left thumb, opening a pretty good gash below the knuckle and leaving a divot across my thumbnail.

Jen busted out the supplies and patched me up quickly, and we let it sit for a while before she convinced me to reopen it, disinfect everything, and superglue the whole thing shut. We numbed it with some lidocaine cream and then she got to work. My labors were pretty much over at that point, so we took the dog for another walk and settled in to our new book by the fireplace.

We’re finished with the Golden Compass series—overall very enjoyable, and not at all what I was expecting—and have moved on to the Alchemyst, a fantasy book about Nicholas Flamel and magic. It’s been very relaxing to sit by the fire with the menagerie around us and not have them try to kill each other; usually at reading time Hazel is winding down and the drowsy nature of the fire seems to calm her down even more.

On Sunday Jen changed my bandage and I went back out to the porch to do what I could with one hand; this basically meant I was painting all day. I washed the woodwork with warm water and TSP (commercial detergent) and then painted the outside of the front door for the first time we’ve been in the house, as well as the trim around the dining room window. Then I moved a bunch of stuff around and painted the frames surrounding the outside windows with about ten coats of Kilz, and anything else I could reach or cover. At about 6:30 we stopped for Easter dinner and some family calls, and wound our evening down early.


Date posted: April 13, 2020 | Filed under general, house | 1 Comment »

One Response to Progress and Setback

  1. JLo says:

    Minor edit: you Kilzed the porch in 2015 before the Fourth (Finley was already on the scene and she was very happy that you did it). In 2005 we were still dealing with major reno inside the house and didn’t have time to even consider the look of the porch: we still hadn’t moved all of our belongings into the house proper then. In 2015 we’d done a major purge and there wasn’t much on the porch, which is what made it possible to throw that paint up quickly and relatively painlessly.

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