Sunday, March 11, 2012

Inside The House

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A quiet morning here on the mountain, perhaps because of the time change when we spring ahead for an hour wishing at the same time that the early morning light we were growing to enjoy would spring with us. It doesn't happen that way. Almost 6 AM right now which was 5 AM just yesterday. The bright moonlight is fading and we'll have to be patient for a few days while sunrises catch up with the hour's change. By the end of March I am beginning my favorite time of year because the morning starts earlier and I can get so much done before lots of folks are kicking off the bed sheets.

18.0° here this morning and already two log trucks have gone by and the first trout fisherman has headed to Peacham Pond for brown trout. I suspect there may have been earlier fisherman than this truck but I made no notice in the dark. The wind is now at 3 mph and that will probably increase a little as the sun begins to rise and this next weather front comes in. There should be a good maple sap run today which is much needed after the spring we have had so far.

Gardeners have many pursuits besides gardening, especially in a state like Vermont where some killing frosts come in early September and winter snows do not always stop until spring is really under way. In the four previous years we have been at our "no longer new" nursery location, one year we had snow on Mother's Day/May 9th and a couple-three years back we had 18" of snow on April 28th. Those things happen.

So with the unpredictability of weather, gardeners spend their time doing different chores. On February 28th my friend Michelle closed on her first ever house, a 1915 Craftsman style house that needs some help but will be a beauty when finished. I said I would help with the rough part of the clean up and I have already gotten myself in trouble because I am liking what I am doing so much I haven't tended to my own chores here at the flower farm. Michelle knows I need some redirection and last night she told me to go home and stay there but I can't seem to get out of the history involved in the old house.

We stripped the carpets that had covered very nice hardwood floors for over 40 years, maybe longer, and then tackled the wallpaper in the dining room. The entire house was wallpapered as was common in older days. The trouble with wallpaper is it usually was not one layer but many and in this situation, the paper was apparently stripped back to the lath and horsehair plaster about 50 years ago as there are 5 layers to be removed.

Wall paper removal is like building good soil. It takes a lot of time but when you're finished there's a reward involved that brings on smiles. Yesterday I got the dining room down close to "mostly stripped" while Michelle was away at her day job and the electrician she had hired worked to bring the kitchen and bathrooms into compliance with some ground fault protected outlets. The wallpapers were interesting and the quality back then was really exceptional. I think the last layer probably went on 15 years ago as the owner was getting along and wall color was probably less of a concern.

Right now Michelle is researching the best way to patch the old plaster as some has worn around the archway into the living room and around a couple windows, and under another. You Tube makes research a bunch easier and what looks easy really is not all that hard except that there are supplies and tools to purchase for most homeowners and there's a need to build a little confidence which is not something that comes with a price tag.

There are many, many things which this house will require to return it to vintage form. It reminds me of a couple years back when I was asked to speak about daylilies at an area historical society. Our discussion set the membership upon a look-see into what flowers had been originally planted around the building and this stimulated thoughts of of a different type of restoration. This house will be a lot of fun and despite Michelle's scolding to go home, I know I'll sneak back and help some more. Kinda like planting time at the nursery when people show every spring to volunteer to help with spring planting because they have to get their hands into the soil and get the feel of plants. You probably know that feeling too!

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where the first two loads of logs just went by heading for Jay, Maine. I should hear the trucks stop--right about now--for the drivers to remove the tire chains. 6:24 AM. Have a nice day!

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm
Always available to help you grow your green thumb!


Ella said...

I've done a lot of old house wallpaper removal! If you have plaster underneath, then I like using a scraper to remove it. It's a blade that is about 5 inches wide, and it attaches to a handle. They come in plastic, or metal. The metal one seems to clog up less. Once it's off, you can wash down the walls with hot water and a lot of towels. Be careful with wet little pieces on your floors, they stick and they are hard to remove. Use lightweight vinyl spackle to patch any holes, just smooth it out with a wet sponge. Line your walls again before you paint them, because paint on plaster doesn't stick very well, it's like painting a ceramic plate! If it gets really cold in the house, all the paint can crack, and then you have to grind it off, or tear out your walls!

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