Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Measuring Progress by the Gallon

I was thinking about volume and measurement last night as I was painting the first topcoat in Rowan's bedroom. So far upstairs we have used:

15 gallons of first coat primer
9 gallons of ceiling paint
1 gallon of yellow wall paint

Lisa and I did the first coat primer together and were pretty fast once I completely tore apart, cleaned and replaced parts on the airless sprayer we were using. I sprayed and Lisa rolled behind me. I also used the sprayer on the ceilings, but would stop and roll since I was working alone at night. To do the walls I'll only roll since I don't want bleed over onto the finished ceilings.

I was thinking about volume and measurement because I was thinking about New Orleans while working. Lisa and I have visited there twice together, plus I have gone other times on business. I love the French Quarter and the Garden District. We have stayed at small B&B's and just love the atmosphere.

Looking at photos in the paper made me think about all the devastation. To have the levees burst after thinking the worst is over is cruel. We saw similar situations with the flood of '93 here in Iowa, but not as much area was wiped out so quickly.

I have relied on the papers for news because we haven't had a working TV since we moved in 6 weeks ago. There is a VCR hooked up for the girls to watch an occasion cartoon. We didn't plan on this happening, but the cable hook up got mixed up and we forgot about it. I can't say I've missed it at all, and neither has anyone else. Lisa did schedule them to come today, but I'm wondering if we wouldn't be better without...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

You Think We're Working Fast...

How about our neighbor one block away? They are also renovating, their place is one year younger than ours, and to say that people are excited about it is one gigantic understatement. I am of course talking about the University of Iowa's work on Kinnick Stadium.

The renovations are a 90 million dollar project. Work started the night of the last home game. Currently crews are putting in 18 hour days as they have been nearly all summer. Work will stop for this season then start again in November. The old temporary type bleachers in the south endzone have been replaced by a totally new structure that acts as the entrance (rather than the original East and West sides, when built in 1929 the place had no end zone seating.)Here's how it will look:

The whole endzone section is what is completed now, and it matches the original brick structure beautifully. The really large gray thing looming over the stadium at the left are new luxury box seats and an expanded press box, that will be completed after this season. Also updated this year were the bathrooms, the first plumbing expansion since 1929. Kinnick had not added any more toilets in spite of nearly doubling in size over the years from it's original 40,000 capacity to 70,000. Another update receiving much attention is the visitor's locker room. When Hayden Fry came to coach in the 1970's he wanted to know what color had the greatest effect on making people feel passive. When he learned it was pink, he had the visitor's locker room painted that color. The new renovation carried that to an extreme with pink sinks and toilets.

I have pictures from Foxcroft, taken in the early 1930's that show Kinnick as the only thing visible on the horizon when looking south from the front porch. The stadium was built in a 5 month rush, and opened right when the stock market crashed. For it's 75th anniversary last fall, the team wore 1920's style jerseys and fans were given straw boater hats to wear. A great revival of tradition has also occurred: a passenger train now runs right to the stadium from a nearby mall, just like they used to when special cars came from Chicago and Des Moines. Lisa is considering trying to ride the train backwards and go to the mall during the game.

Here is a link to a web movie that compresses shots taken from a camera inside the stadium. The movie starts on Nov. 28 and ends on July 31:

To see the current shot from the webcam go here:

I took the girls to an open practice last Saturday along with about 25,000 other Hawkeye fans. We had a great time. What will make the season even more exciting this year is that our neighbor's (and good friends) youngest son will be a freshman on the team. The first home game is Laurel's 4th birthday, Sept. 3rd.

Lots of Progress

We continue to forge ahead here at Foxcroft. Since last Friday we now have a functional geothermal unit (Thank God, it was 95+ on Friday so we ran AC that day and Saturday.) Lisa and I sprayed and rolled First Coat primer over the entire upstairs' drywall on Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. The plumbers came yesterday and installed the shower unit in the upstairs bathroom. Thankfully they didn't have to cut open the door opening to the bathroom to get the unit in. We were also lucky that the windows for the new gable aren't here yet as that was how they brought the unit in, there's no way it would have gone up the stairway. We will start spraying ceiling paint this week. Walls will soon follow.

Other signs of progress: I bought 8 matching oak doors, in jambs, with all hardware, on Ebay last week. I looked up doors on a whim and found an auction that was ending in less than an hour. The doors are in the Twin Cities, so I'll be taking a trip up there the weekend after Labor Day to get them. We need 9 doors total for upstairs so I'll need to find one to match these. The downstairs doors are all two vertical panels these are two horizontal, but I don't think that will be a problem.

In other news, we all started back to school yesterday, Laurel and I are back at the same places, Lisa started her new job with the regional education agency on July 1 (why not switch jobs in the middle of an already stressful time with a difficult move) and Rowan started at her new elementary school yesterday. Everyone came home happy last night, so I think we are now truly starting to settle in.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Lookout Above!

We have finished a piece of exterior trim on the new gable! Pete and John put up the "lookouts" yesterday. They are the boxes that go around the beams that support the barge board on the new gable. The lookouts on the front of the house and sides are actually 3 boxes, tapering set one below the other. The lookouts in back on the gable over the back door are single boxes since it is out of public sight. We decided to do single boxes in the gable too.

Also here are pics of the flagstone path from the last post:

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Backyard Archaeology

Saturday Lisa was stripping the paint off the clawfoot tub so we can paint it again. After putting on stripper you need to let it work a while before scraping, so she was doing various things in the yard and garden in between. She somehow got it into her head to start looking for flagstones. We have a map of the yard that was drawn by Bess and included in a 1956 letter. The maps shows all the fruit trees, vegetable garden, grape arbor, fish pond, etc. AND flagstone walkways all over the yard. We can still see a few and figured the rest had been removed.

WRONG! They are all still there, but buried under 2-3 inches of soil. Lisa started excavating and when I came back from errands she had unearthed 11. We now have nearly the entire path from the back porch to the far yard exposed. I then caught the bug and worked from the gate leading to the old vegetable garden (no longer our property toward the back porch and found a bunch more. The flags seem to be concrete that were pured in place, I have found one large piece of limestone. We know from photos that the pond (currently filled in) had limestone all around it.

We had our friend Lori, the landscape architect over Sunday morning and showed her the map and tried to find any fruit trees left, but not much luck. There are volunteers from the completely overgrown plum tree out front that we can transplant and tend, there also seem to be some volunteers from a Red Leaf Peach. We found a filbert bush hidden among the hackberry and box elder scrub, and a few cherries, maybe black? at the back of the far yard. All the other pear, plum and peach trees are gone, as are the apple trees including the Northern Spy apple. Lori just finished working at the General Dodge home in Council Bluffs which had many Northern Spy apples in the orchard, apparently it was the hot item for horticulturists of the 1860's.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Mudding in the Drought

Well our walls are in place and one coat of mud is up. As I type this at 10:40 PM CDT it is 82 degrees outside and 87 in the house. Being a weather geek, yesterday I installed and reset my indoor/outdoor thermometer so I could see new highs and lows for Foxcroft rather than keep the old records from Van Buren St. I needn't have worried. My record outdoor high in the last five years was 105, the outdoor was set on the west side of the house but was never in direct sunlight very long. My indoor record was 88.

Today's "official" high in Iowa City was 99. I came home tonight, hit the "max" button, and got a staggering 115 for outdoors and 91 for inside. I REALLY wish the geothermal guys would get the unit running. But I also think it's telling as to the construction of this home, that even with all the windows open it was 25 degrees cooler inside than the outside in the sun temperature.

So the walls are up and the place is starting to look to other people the way it had in my mind's eye:

Sitting room in the new gable that we just built:


Master bedroom:

Laurel's room:

Rowan's room:



Our next major challenge is finding floor and doors, I have been scouring midwest salvage web sites and need to do some travelling in the next month, which coincides with starting back to work at school, not good timing!