|We do love our stones around here.|
Of course, the irony of the situation with the good ol' Castle Aaargh 'ruin' not being done after fourteen years (pictured below) didn't escape our attention either, and I vowed to get the pillars done and over with before winter arrived.
The stone we are using for Aaargh is random rubble without any flat surfaces. Every stone needs to be trimmed to a reasonably flat surface which is our main excuse for not having the structure built yet. Sigh.
Anyway, going to the stone store was a treat and also confusing, as there were so many different types of stone to choose from. In keeping with the color scheme of the remodel, we chose a creamy to buff limestone called 'Fondulac Harvest' for the pillars. We decided to go with a full bed stone instead of thinner veneer so the mortar could be raked out more dramatically.
The stone was delivered to our house on September 10, which was the day of my father-in-law's funeral. To lighten our moods a little that evening, we unwrapped the pallets and looked the stone over, eventually making stacks of similar sizes on the front porch for ease of selection.
The pillars were already in place; they are hollow and made of a quite heavy load-bearing fiberglass, I'd guess them to be over fifty pounds apiece. We had to ratchet them up to the porch ceiling to get them out of the way so we could build the stone bases.
Five pillars didn't look too daunting on the blueprint, but in real life it was going to be a big job.
And once again, it rained excessively, causing all sorts of problems with our house interior again. The mudroom roof was leaking badly and so were the bay window bumpouts.
We were constantly dumping buckets of rain water.
The living room flooring was starting to buckle in places and the subfloor in the mudroom was soggy. I started to lose heart and told the builder that if it gets any worse, either we'd have to buy a some bigger tarps, or we'd have to push the entire house over with a bulldozer and start over.
That night we had another sizeable storm with heavy rainfall. The tarps helped a lot, but we still had water coming into the house in places.
Another thunderstorm and strong winds blew the tarps partially off on Saturday, September 14, so Carl went up to nail them back down as more rain was on the way.
Carl is not fond of heights and I was not fond of him being up there, but we really had no choice if we didn't want more water in the house.
I went up on the porch roof so I could toss additional sticks and nails to him.
Of course, I kept telling him to be careful, as if he wasn't aware of the danger of a fall.
"Don't slip, ok? I don't want to live here alone, you know," I whined, annoyingly.
"I'll try not to," Carl said, not reassuringly.
There's a great view from up on the roof, but truth be told, we're both too old to be falling off of anything higher than a curb.
The next morning I found the floors were wet in the kitchen and the dining room as well as the living room; not as bad as without the tarps, but not great, either.
A lot of the plaster had been removed to add the upstairs gable and to locate the new plumbing. We were wondering if we should just tear down all the rest of the plaster since we had so many gaps.
Holes, holes, everywhere.
It was at that point that we knew the hardwood floor in the living room was doomed. The wood had begun to warp and cup and was actually pushing the plastered wall outward due to expansion. I decided to take the entire floor out and salvage what I could.
In the picture above, I pulled back the protective, and now wet, cardboard that Ann and I had put down to keep the floor safe and disposed of it.
While Carl was at work and the builders were working outside, day after day I plugged away at pulling the hardwood floor out. I was as careful as I could be not to break the wood as I pried them off the floor. The staples are spaced out about every foot or so, and it's not a fun job. I crammed a small wrecking bar under the wood and slowly and gently eased each board up and out.
When my knees protested too much, I set up a fifty gallon rain barrel as a makeshift table in the hallway and started to hammer the staples back through the boards so they could be pulled out. This proved to be the hardest part of the job; very few of the staples came out easily. Most of them would drive out crooked and bend over and one board could easily take me over ten minutes to finish.
The closer I got to the bay windows, the more the wood was ruined, but I pulled all of the boards anyway, cupped and warped as they were. We might be able to reuse them if they dry straight again.
It was at this point I decided not to put hardwood back in the living room. This floor had been down since 2009 and I'd loved it, but I also was very cautious and rarely walked in the room with shoes on. I was able to salvage about 100 square feet and decided to reuse it in one of the bedrooms upstairs. At least it wouldn't all go to waste.
The hardwood recovery was my day job, but when Carl came home from work at 3:30PM, we would work on the stone pillars together. Below, Carl is mixing up a batch of mortar and I'm swatting mosquitoes with a vengeance. On the right, the first course of stone is laid for Pillar #1 on September 20.
Every night we tried to get at least one course of stone done for two pillars.
When it wasn't raining, that is.
I decided to move my staple-pulling operation to the new breakfast nook where I had better light to work with. (Never mind the piles of insulation and random boards.)
Carl was also kept busy moving things for the construction and trying to keep sump pumps running. We were constantly going in circles.
A week later, and with Cody's help one night, I had the floor out.
The sub-floor showed the water damage in the picture below.
I gave myself a black eye during the floor reclamation. I was prying a small board, less than four inches long, from the corner of the wall. The darn thing wasn't budging so I pried a little harder and WHACK, the board came flying out and hit me in the temple, right above my left eye. I was stunned at the pain, it was really intense. And of course, the resulting goose egg did nothing for my looks, either. In a few days, I had a black eye, but since I wear glasses, I didn't notice it until Carl pointed it out.
While pulling the staples out of the floorboards on the days it rained, I could at least enjoy the view out of the breakfast nook windows.
roof, but alas, the steel roofing was delayed.
The garden was completely neglected since July 8, but if I didn't dwell on the weeds on my way to my car parked on the lane, there was still something pretty to see.
I cannot tell you how much I missed tending the garden this past summer; but I know it will be waiting for me next spring.
This remodel can't go on forever.