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Pipes and bubbles

5 Apr

Here is the condition that the old pipes were in:

Some of the old pipes.

Some of the old pipes.

You see the need for change.

Here are some rather intriguing bubbles on the wall outside the butler’s pantry where the major water damage happened:

Water bubbles on wallpaper (painted over last year) behind butler's pantry.

Water bubbles on wallpaper (painted over last year) behind butler’s pantry.

Am hoping these dry out over the next few days. They’re coming back on Monday to do the wall and ceiling repair. The thing I hate the most about home improvement projects is when the weekend comes and no work happens, so I clean the house, then Monday comes and it’s filthy all over again. Sigh.


Water, smoke detector, bleah.

4 Apr

So. The new plastic waste pipe is installed — all four storeys of it. They did it in one day, which is great. The water that was not going down the pipes for several days did some pretty decent damage, though. A good bit of the ceiling in the powder room (first floor, the one with the discontinued leopard wallpaper) collapsed. A couple of sections of wall are gone in the second floor and in the stairway to the basement (that’s no biggie), and I need to let everything air dry out for several days to prevent moldification. Also lost a toilet seat due to a giant chunk of cast iron and ceiling falling on to it. No people or animals were hurt, so that’s okay.

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As all this mishegas was unfolding, my smoke detector system also began to malfunction. So at 7:20 yesterday morning (while I was in the tub), at 3:30 this morning, and again at 6:00 this morning, the piercing alarm rang out. Thank goodness the fire department only came that first time (I was in the tub and barely had the time to dress myself, never mind get on the phone, before they arrived). I’ve got an ADT tech coming tomorrow to fix the sitch. I think it’s a simple case of needing a new unit. After learning that the ADT technicians charge $150 for the first 30 minutes and then $39 per 15 minutes after that, I came to the conclusion that I’m in the wrong line of work and should really become an ADT tech in order to pay for my home improvement projects.

I really need a good night’s sleep with no collapsing ceilings or fire alarms. Also want to note that the dogs did not even get out of bed when the smoke detector was blaring a few feet away from their little pea brains.

Brass Attack!

18 Dec

How did you spend your Saturday night, an imaginary interlocutor might ask. Polishing brass, I would respond, deeply satisfied.

The results below took 2 hours and 15 minutes. This is round one of cleaning up the brass on the enormous and historic 12 arm brass chandelier that used to hang in Springfield’s exclusive Colony Club, and is now being repaired by a friend (after I brought it to a pro who said no).

Round two will involve a dremel. Round three more polish. Round four — lacquer, lacquer, lacquer.

Round one:
1) Take out all the brass cleaning and polishing products you’ve collected over the years and scratch your head. Ask yourself, is this some sort of weird OCD issue?

2) Try a few out and find that “Colonel Brassy” is the best at removing most of the ick.

3) Notice that there are big swathes of lacquer that won’t come off.

4) Boil pieces that have recalcitrant lacquer in a solution of boiling water + about 2 tablespoons of baking soda per quart of water

5) Reapply “Colonel Brassy”, rinse, wipe dry with a paper towel.

6) Admire your handiwork.

Butler’s Pantry

13 Aug

In 2006, my old computer died. I was write in the midst of writing my thesis, and I was able to recover that (thanks to Jim, Mac-man extrodinaire!). BUT all my home photos from 2002 — 2006 were lost. Every now and then I find old discs which I hope will contain some older house photos. Sometimes they do, but more often than not, they don’t.

So you’re just going to have to take my word for what the house looked like in its “before” state. Except for the hallways (which remain papered in the cute, but exhausted green brocadey paper), everything that was not the floor in this house was white. EVERYTHING — the walls, the ceilings, the doors, the trim, the baseboards.

The butler’s pantry was no exception. In fact, it wasn’t a butler’s pantry, just a white room. There had been a door to the dining room, but my friendly neighborhood work crew blocked that up, then we installed the retro shelving. I had a plumber put in the plumbing for the all-in-one unit that had formerly lived in the basement kitchen (somewhere along the way the fridge stopped working, though). My friends and I did the electricity for the stove. I hired someone to install the tin ceiling. I installed the cork flooring. My friend Liz (wife of Mac-man Jim) and I installed the Lincrusta and theĀ Burrows hand-blocked wallpaper. I hired someone to install glass in and re-orient the door to the BP (it used to open the other way, and it was impossible to get food from the BP to the dining room. The countertops are slate. Everyone says it looks like it’s always been here.

I really wish I had those before pictures, because this is a most amazing transformation.