Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Tribute to Dogwoods

Spring is such a glorious time of year.  I believe Lilac bushes and
Dogwood trees deserve a great deal of credit for that.
For years I gazed at those delicate blossoms as I washed dishes at the kitchen sink.  Every time I left the house I walked between them on my way to the car.  They greeted me each time I returned.
                               Those dogwoods put on a pretty spectacular show in the Fall as well.
When I got serious about the new studio/garage I checked out permits and such with City Hall.  I was informed I could not build the new structure directly on my property line along the alley where the old garage stood.  The overhang of the roof could reach the edge of the alley but not the wall of the new structure.  I was trying to squeeze out more square footage, not less, so I knew I would have to push the footprint into the yard.  That meant the dogwood trees could not stay where they were.
Although the trees were near the end of their normal life span, I could not give them up.  I decided relocating them to another part of the yard was the best option.
Because there was not a way to get anything mechanical into the yard,
 the digging and hefting had to be done by hand.
                                It was definately hard work and that was from my perspective as
                                                         the observer and photographer.
The concrete sidewalk ran between the two trees and along the south side of both of them which made digging around them an even tougher job.  Tree #2 was also right next to a sewer vent pipe.  It is a wonder these guys even took on the job.
Very bare, indeed.
                                             Now comes the replanting.
The first tree is wiggled into position.
My twin dogwoods were in the ground.  I hoped and prayed they would make it but it was soon apparent tree #1 was in shock.  Tree #2  struggled along in an attempt to recover.
                                      Unfortunatly neither of them survived the move.
But now I have a pink Dogwood tree and...
a white Dogwood to make Spring an event in my yard. (My neighbors generously provided the Red Bud for a nice backdrop.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The old garage becomes a new studio.

The garage/studio was mentioned in my very first post to this blog.  The details of how it came to be were never mentioned.  This post will reveal some of the details of that process.  It began with a book from the library that had a few pictures of garages from the 1930's.  I showed Paul Sansone features I liked in these pictures.  He drew the plans, I tweaked with my suggestions, and in no time the project had been set into motion.
The old garage as it waits on death row.
The previous picture shows the fence that wrapped around and was attached to the garage with a gate.  This picture shows the fence along Spring Ave.  This should answer any questions as to why it was one of the first things removed when I bought the house.  Amazingly enough, the fence on the opposite side of the yard is still standing.
With the old garage demolished, the next step was to remove the concrete pad.
The pergola was propped up and left standing but that eventually came down as well.
Dad checks out the forms that were set for the foundation.
The monsoon hit after the foundation was poured.  I believe it rained enough off and on to keep the ground too wet to work with for a month.  This was an eyesore and an agonizing delay.
The sewer line was the other major delay.  Locating the original line was a nightmare as it ran diagonally across the yard to the alley.  The first thought was to tie into the existing line.  But, after all the digging to find the line, it was decided this would be the prudent time to put in a new one.
This was too expensive to cover up without at least a picture.
Next came the rock and reinforcing rods for the garage floor.
The floor is poured.  Halleluia!  Even some grass seed and straw get rid of the mud.  This is definately progress.  Although there was no garage yet, I planted geraniums in my urns and placed them on either side of the door that would soon be there.
What a joy to see the framing begin.  This was really the best part because it moved along quickly and, suddenly, there was a shape to the new garage.
A decision was made to use trusses.  The original plans were drawn for a vaulted ceiling but that was labor intensive which translates to "expensive."  So, as so often happens in construction, we went to Plan B.
Finally there is protection to the inside from the rain.
Ah, shingles and windows!   It is beginning to come together.
I am a bit of an eccentric but a polka dot garage crosses the line for me.  It did shock me when I came home to this one day, but under closer scrutiny I discovered the red dots are actually plugs to hold the foam in place.
Here you see the dark base coat of the Dryvit finish.  The lighter color is the final coat.
                                                    Completed just before the first snow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The history of the retaining wall

This picture goes way back.  The Black Walnut tree is still standing next to the driveway... ah, but that's a story for another time.  This post is about the retaining wall.  It is functional but definately not pretty.
Once the porch and deck were built, the wall looked shabbier than ever.  Check the size of the Red Bud tree next to the deck.
                     Just had to throw in a couple pictures of the Red Bud tree in full splendor.  These pictures were obviously taken several years later as the tree has matured considerably.
Forsythia and barberry bushes helped to distract the eye from the tacky wall.  However, the wall started to rot and even though a few sections were replaced it was obvious that was not going to extend the life of the wall by much.
Finally it was just time to call it quits.  The wall was removed and the area was prepared for a stone wall.

A new wall opened up the possibilites for fresh landscaping.
                                      The landscaping took some time to plan and orchestrate.
An illusion of a fence defines the corner of the yard and keeps the lilac bush from branching over the sidewalk.
This area is about due for a makeover with the plantings.  Although there are tulips in the Spring and a butterfly bush with lovely purple blooms, I would like more vibrant color.  (No fair checking for weeds.  It's tough to stay on top of that job.)
This was taken before the gorgeous red bud tree died so things are a little different today.  The bench and hostas remain, the bench more worn and the hostas much larger.

Monday, February 15, 2010

About that other Fireplace

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there were four fireplaces that had been covered over before I took ownership.  There was some debate about how many to restore.  After discussing pros and cons with my brother, I settled on restoring two of them.
The second one was in the dining room.  The original mantel and tile had been removed.  The opening had been bricked shut as well.   I was able to find a mantel that fit the flue wall perfectly.  It just required some elbow grease to strip, sand, and stain it to match the trim work in the dining room.
The firebox was rebuilt and the hearth area was prepared for tile.
I found tile in a teal/blue that worked well with the wallpaper I had chosen. I was satisfied with this look...well let's say for awhile.
You guessed it.  It was time for a change!  Rather than remove the existing tile, I cut a mirror into small pieces and used tile adhesive to stick it to the existing tiles in a mosaic fashion.  Next came the grout and, Voila!  Anyone reading this knows it was not that easy or quick.  I lost a few ounces of blood in the process but I persevered.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The story of the foyer.

This is the room I saw when I entered this house for the first time.  Paneling in a faux stone pattern covered the walls.  It was hideous and one of the first things to go.  I thought nothing could look worse, but I was wrong.  Under the paneling I found red flocked wallpaper!  (I have removed a lot of wallpaper since that day and never have I come across anything harder to remove than that paper.) It came off in the tinest of pieces over a very long period of time.  Once some layers were removed it was apparent that a fireplace had been a part of this room. 
This is another example of reversing the decision of the previous owner.  The original mantel had been removed and the firebox covered over. 
Obviously I chose to restore the fireplace. You can see a couple rows of new tile laid out on the floor in anticipation.  The firebox had to be rebuilt and a base poured for the tile.
A mantel with a few coats of paint was purchased, stripped and returned to it's full glory.  The floor in this room sloped slightly and had to be leveled by jacking it up from below before everything could be put into place.