Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coping With My Inability to Cope...

... as in "cope cuts." I am very bad at using a coping saw. I was able to do passable copes when I had to cut new baseboards for the upstairs, but when it comes to coping the picture railing, forget it.

You may ask "How did you manage to successfully trim four rooms upstairs with picture rail if you can't cope?" The answer of course, is that I used salvaged rail and made sure to take advantage of the copes that were already cut by people FAR more skilled than I am. It became a challenge in itself to figure out how to take advantage of the copes already cut!

Which leads to trimming the new bump out in the office/spare bedroom. Way back in the 1950's a temporary closet had been built into that space. We ripped it out and put in our chase for the HVAC and electrical to go upstairs. However the picture rail in the corner had already been cut and removed long ago. I had barely enough salvage left to do this last little job, but it meant having to do a cope cut myself, so here it is:

The top fit pretty well, but the bottom has some real issues. You can see that when I put it up into place:

In my defense it doesn't look that bad when you're standing in the room, and that corner is very out of the way. If I slather enough wood filler up there, it will be invisible.

What you may also notice from that last picture is that the original rail was cut short of where the new bump out starts so I was forced to GLUE a tiny block of wood in place to fill that gap. Once I put a little touch up paint over the glue that bubbled out, it too should be invisible. (I hope!)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

It's a DIFFERENT Shade, Really!

So I've been working on the room that will be Lisa's office space and a guest bedroom. This room was originally Helen's bedroom. When she and her husband returned to Foxcroft in the mid 1950's it became their bedroom. I'm guessing the room was last painted about that time. We have already painted the ceiling (after stripping off the wallpaper on it) and stained and varnished the floors. Here are a few shots from painting.

Primer covering the 50 year old paint job, you can also see the cracks I filled in:

When I pulled the radiators 4 years ago we discovered the original rose color for the room, that was mentioned in the plan book Bess gave the builders. The room seems to have been painted a grand total of two times before our current project:

Here's the new paint, which looks a LOT like the old, except maybe not quite as "minty." The color is "Sweet Sage."

And some more:

To remove the ceiling paper I had removed the picture rail. We cleaned, stained and varnished it. With the painting done I could put it back up.

And here is the railing back where it belongs.

Monday, November 09, 2009

I HATE it When That Happens!

Yes, I am almost finished working in the office/guest bedroom and when I went to move the light, the outlet plate and half of the outlet came with it.

Fortunately I have a few New Old Stock duplex plugs left from my Grandfather's electrician business. I managed to get it replaced pretty quickly.

My next post will be about finishing painting and trimming the space.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Channeling Bess

So it's time to come clean here and admit that over the last 2 months I have been running for political office. At the end of August I filed for University Heights city council. Terms are two years long; we have 5 councilors and a mayor, who also serves a two year term. This means our town elections are like the U.S. House of Representatives, everyone is up every two years. Elections only fall in odd numbered years when NOTHING else in on the ballot.

Bess, who built Foxcroft, was on the original University Heights city council. The town incorporated in 1935, seven years after she built here. She was the only woman on the council, and apparently only served one term. University Heights will celebrate its Diamond Jubilee next summer, our 75th anniversary.

There were 10 candidates for 5 seats on council and 2 candidates for mayor. All the incumbents were running along with 6 challengers. We officially have 798 registered voters in town, which is falsely high. Given that we have many medical, and graduate students who live here for a short while, then graduate and move on, many names on the rolls are no longer here. I would guess our electorate is closer to 650.

When I decided to run I made a vow to walk around town at least once a week, knock on doors and talk to people. I did that and it was fascinating. I really had fun. Besides the conversations, stepping onto everyone's porch or stoop allowed me to notice details about houses that you don't pick up on even when you're on the sidewalk. We have so many 1920's-1940's homes that are in such good shape. The mid century modern homes are spectacular, and our "new" homes from the 1960's and 70's are also of very high quality. The only architectural beef I have is with our apartment complex that was build right after WWII. It is being converted to condominiums and I was saddened to see their original windows get replaced, the new ones don't fit the character of the building well.

We had one political event, a candidate forum that drew about 150 people. With so many candidates and a promise to keep the event to only 2 hours long, we were given three questions in advance. Each question, along with our opening and closing statements were to not exceed 2 minutes. Everyone held to it.

Typical voter turnout for municipal elections has been in the 200's. The record turnout was 350 in 2005 (the first year we voted here) due to a library levy being on the ballot. On Tuesday 413 people voted. That is a 51.8% turnout officially or about 64% using my adjusted numbers. Iowa City (the larger community that completely surrounds us) had a municipal turnout of 9.7%.

I was one of the winners. I'm happy and more than a little nervous. I take very seriously the public trust of my neighbors. Here are the official results. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find us.

The editorial page editor of the Iowa City paper called yesterday and asked why did I think U-H should remain a separate entity. I replied it's pretty obvious that we participate in our community life to a degree unparalleled by our neighbors, individual voices certainly matter. Who wouldn't want to live in community like that? Who wouldn't want to work to ensure its future?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Lather, Rinse, REPEAT

We have been working on an interior project lately. The office/guest bedroom/junkroom/dog's room is finally getting some attention.

This room was Helen's when the house was built. Here is an original photo:

Here's the same corner last winter:

We stripped off the old varnish using the same procedure we have before. I've written about it:
And of course who could forget this gem, from the days before "blog" was even a word! Here is a web page I created when we still lived at our old place!

You get the idea...
Anyway, here is that same corner again, with the floor buffer:

Here are the old radiator holes before I patched them:

Lisa staining:

And varnishing:

Now I'll get to start painting, once Lisa decides on a color.

More to come!