Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Most of the problems or puzzles that have presented themselves to me have been "amendable" This is one of the few true disappointments I have encountered.

This amazing ceiling had been painted but the MLS stated that it was, in fact, copper. I asked to have this fact verified before signing the contract and was assured that it was true. After months of construction - it was time to deal with the ceiling.

Because of the delicacy of the panels I chose a new process rather like sand-blasting, but using baking soda. Much kinder to the surface. Well...as you can see........the ceiling is tin.

It is still wonderful - but tin rusts - as it already had and so the guys pulled off the job. They didn't want to be responsible for enlarging the holes that were already there due to years of leaking roof.

I am sad - it was an honest mistake - but when I make a mistake , I take responsibility for it. Also, in addition to having a ceiling less that I had hoped - I have life long maintenance concerns.

But how do you sue a church ?

there's a lightening bolt with my name on it

Sunday, September 28, 2008

03/08 BIG MONTH - HUGE !

I have no interesting photos to go along with this month that relate to the church - I probably could find a few of Anguilla ( okay - I did ). I had passed all my inspections and the dry wall followed all that insulation......

In early March I had my final chemo-therapy treatment and closed the book on the most surreal year and a half of my life. And then I did what anyone would hope to do - I flew to the Caribbean and met my friend Twinkle and began a five week celebration. Okay - maybe there was a little work involved as I did have to finish her villa - and a few other friends came and went - but mostly it was -P-A-R-T-Y- and I earned it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


And WET !

February 2008


my future watercloset in the loft

laundry room

During the torrential rains of August my builder pumped 80 gallons of water out of one corner in the basement. After months of construction and a long break over the holidays - it was time to insulate. We consulted with several and finally came up with a plan. Due to the greatest snowfalls since records were kept, we had many starts and stops - but finally got the place tightened up.

Closed-cell, waterproof spray-on foam insulation went in below ground level...... open cell, spray-on foam insulation above ground and blown-in cellulose in the attic. I had bats in my belfry for over 150 years so you can imagine what they had to clean out first. I stayed in bed that day, too.

In this main room, where there was some old fake paneling (can't even use the word "faux"),
the crew cut holes and then filled the cavities with the foam. In those areas where I said you could see daylight - this foam insulation would expand and ooze through those cracks on the outside.......my newly painted lady has taken on the appearance of something from a horror movie. I'll have to get photos before knocking it all down.


The three most beautiful words in the English language -

The local cowgirl/house painter was not much over 5' tall but she could scale that scaffolding in a heartbeat. I didn't have her take off all the old paint - I was afraid it was the only thing holding the siding together. But she washed and scraped and brushed and painted. Looks rather rough and old which I like.

Friday, September 26, 2008


One of the joys of having the church is to watch the faces of people ringing the bell. I haven't taken as many photos as I should - I'll try to do better.

Everyone who comes to the church be they friends, workers or delivery men......they all do it, at my insistence. When the electricians were running new wiring from the living room to the foyer they had to go through the steeple in the attic space. They sent the new guy - Kyle K. - up the ladder and as soon as he got in the space - they would ring the bell. Much like Lucy holding the football and PROMISING she wouldn't pull it away......
they said they wouldn't do it again - but you know they did. I bet his ears rang for days.

Sometimes it's a bit trying...."Hi - we want to ring the bell today" "Hi can my friend ring the bell? "HI! These are my twin cousins - can they ring the bell?"

Luckily the neighbors have all said they love hearing the church bell ringing again.


In the steeple .........where else?

The addition to the front of the church, also done in the 60's, serves as a large foyer and encloses the original stairway and entrance through the steeple. I was fortunate to find the plans for this addition and suspected that there was a void in the exterior side of the space.

After punching a hole in the wall with my bare hands - or maybe after the college dude cutting a hole with the saw - we found there was just enough room for a legal powder room - very fun.

"Excuse me, I have to go to the steeple".


Laundry Room
pantry under staircase
stairway to Heaven

The only change to the main body of the church I made was to add a loft. I didn't want to build any walls that would interrupt the view of the ceiling. This loft will be the master suite and form the ceiling for the kitchen which allows recessed lighting and a fan over my cooktop. The two wing walls will support the loft and give me a place for two pieces of furniture. The staircase is a bit hidden and I have managed to tuck a small laundry room in the corner and have the bonus of a pantry under the staircase.

How lucky AM I ??


Every inch of this church was newly framed. As the demo continued we found no sub-structure - no ply - no insulation. Where the wall board and paneling were removed - you could see daylight. It appeared that the only things holding this dear old church together were the two additions on either end....rather like bookends.


This is the guest suite

08/07 BE MY GUEST, BE MY GUEST.......

August 2007

This addition to the back of the church ( above those lovely bathrooms) was used as two offices - or perhaps an office and a daycare. I tore down the walls (and gross insulation )and will add a closet and bathroom for a comfortable and welcoming guest suite. Again I was limited as I didn't want to tear out and relocate windows. This poor old lady is so fragile - I didn't want to cut into her anymore (not me - the church !). So - the bath and closet will be a bit small - but I don't want the guests to get TOO comfortable........

Just joking - all my friends out there .


July 2007

I love the sound of jack-hammers in the morning.

These lovely bathrooms - delightful as they were - had to be demolished. Sniff, sniff.

They were part of an addition built in the 60's and their cement block walls were load bearing. I was able to take down the interior separations and re-locate the plumbing - but had to work within the existing footprint. It will make for a nice guest bath.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


July - August 2007

This is probably my favorite part of the project. I kept all the windows on the street side of the church - but opened up my "backside". It lets great light and air in and gives me a wonderful deck and access to my future garden.


July 2007

Who says big girls don't cry ? After all that unloading and unpacking - I was informed that a semi needed to be rented and everything had to come out of the church

"You would cry too if it happened to you"

It was my birthday ......
I said I wanted an I POD -
not an I-BEAM

How do you get a 40' steel I- beam into a basement? I am sure they fished it through the 15" window - but I couldn't watch - I think I stayed in bed that day. Sometimes you just have to accept that ignorance IS bliss. It took many weeks to deal with this curve thrown to me.....first there were the deep 4' square footings, then the whole new concrete floor. All existing venting was removed so the new floor joists could be placed between each tree trunk. Next came the new steel support posts ...they are adjustable - like a vertical shower rod. Then the steel beams were brought in and the whole upper floor was raised and leveled as best it could be. It is still uneven but at least it is solid. I walked through the job with the guys as they explained everything and I said "So I could have Riverdance in here now?" Yes - I can. And finally - due to the thickness of the new basement floor both staircases needed to be rebuilt as the bottom risers no longer met code. THAT WAS NOT IN THE PLAN.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


JuLY 2007
"We think we found out why the floor is saggng..."

FINALLY - some answers !! Although I was certainly NOT prepared for what I saw. The church was resting on tree trunks - with the bark still on them ! And one hand hewned beam down the middle about as straight as a corkscrew.

The Church was built down by the river ( I can never say that without having a secret laugh with Chris Farley) in the 1840's. But the banks were erroding each year and so the building was moved inland to this site in 1870. We think it must have been rolled up the street on these very logs and moved onto the foundation. YIKES

The project takes a quantum leap



June 2007

The first of a flotilla of dumpsters arrives on 2nd St and the massive demo begins. I am unable to secure any bids from anyone until the bare essentials are exposed and everyone knows what they are dealing with in their future. We find the ghost of an old staircase as well as signs of past water damage