Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Three days of week two--the bathroom

Make it snappy; they're back and I'm in a hurry to leave!

Monday, sub-floor and wallboard.

Monday evening, my friends, the nightlight and the toilet.
It's there.

Tuesday morning.
Sailor take warning.
Snow by Friday.

Meantime, back in our cozy bathroom and little hall,
Mudding and skim coating the walls.

 Serious sanding going on here.

And lots of venting.

Tuesday afternoon.
Jim's goal for the day, lay the tile.
This is a little demo to show me I really didn't want my tile long way.
You can't make a 6' x 8' bathroom look like anything except a stubby bowling alley.
Width wise it is.


"You can't walk on it," Jim and Michael both said, and for fun Michael crossed the duster in front of the door for the night.

This morning I found one of Toby's leaves on the tile.
Don't tell him what to do!

Wednesday (today!)
Priming the walls.

The bead board!

Treatment of the shower riser.
This was the whole Plan A, Plan B shower plumbing issue.
Instead of sitting on the floor with a three inch lip the base is on a three inch platform, so the shower drains properly (for the first time in 26 years).
To sit on the floor the drain needed moved, but where it needed moved to is a heating duct.
Old houses!
No grout in yet; that will happen after the paint.

Michael installed all the bead board today.
There was an emergency run to the lumber store, as you can tell.
My toilet has been reset, again.
Jim's stockpiled wax rings, just for me.

Jim says they will be done Friday,
So Good Night all
Until the reveal.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Socks of many colors

I gave up the search for good cotton socks for summer some years ago, when I realized I could knit them. Not as easily as purchasing socks, but in the absence of decent socks, my last resort.

The idea actually came to me in a JoAnn Fabric store, not the ideal source of sock cotton. I went up and down the yarn aisles, and found nothing smaller than dishcloth cotton. I took a trip down the crochet cotton aisle, and was completely unimpressed with the current offering. Where is the fine DMC, eight ply, 30 weight my grandmother taught me with? Do they even make it?

I rounded a corner into embroidery floss. There on an end cap was a sampler packet of DMC floss, eight strands. I bought two sampler packs of primary colors , fired up the number two double points and made a pair of socks.

The first sock I knit from the top of the sampler to the bottom, the second from the bottom to the top.  One might argue they met in the middle, but only I knew that. No one even noticed one sock was half the rainbow, the other the other half. This was fifteen years ago, before mismatched socks were sold on purpose.

No, people just said “Nice socks!”

Except one little boy.

Somewhere in public a child screamed. I looked around and saw a small boy, clinging to his mother, pointing at my socks and screaming. His mother tried to turn him away, he couldn’t quit looking and screaming “Her socks don’t match.”

Eventually his mother picked him up and carried him off, but he continued to hang over her shoulder, wailing and pointing.

He couldn't have had a bad Dr. Seuss experience; it must have been a clown.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

One sock recovered

Several weeks ago I put away my summer socks and brought out the winter socks. I have a sock affection like some people have a shoe affection (which I used to have). My socks have to be all cotton or all wool, and no elastic. None. Zero.

Wool socks are easy. I knit them. Cotton, extremely difficult to source. I spent a lot of time looking for the perfect cotton sock. Not too thick. No elastic. The brand I used to buy disappeared. That happens with bras, too. Good ones disappear in one fashion cycle, to be replaced by the newest version of feminine figure.

Why couldn't I find a nice, thin cotton sock, like the Buster Browns I remembered? Buster Browns! I tracked them down in a flash; they’re still available. In packs of six! That’s a marketing device. Weeks come in sevens, why not socks? I purchased two packs of six, each rather expensive. But, they were made in America, and I wanted cotton socks without elastic.

All went well the first year or two; my socks had a mate each week, the tops folded nicely and away to the closet. Even if I came up one sock short, I could find it in the underwear, or stuck to a shirt. But one day, I couldn't. It was nowhere. Eventually I blamed the cat, and stuck the lonely white sock to the back, just in case. In more than a year the mate has not come back.

The week I washed my cotton socks for the last time before putting them up for winter, one was missing. This time a beige sock. After shaking down the laundry I moved out every piece of furniture in the bedroom, the better to look under. And clean, while I was there.

No sock. I retraced steps, scoured the laundry room, no sock. The beige single joined the white single several weeks ago.

As soon as I walked into the laundry room today, I saw it. The beige sock, crumpled against the wall. I cannot blame the cat; he won’t go into the basement.

My sister had a complex theory once, that missing socks hitched a ride with the towels, and once in the towel drawer made for the black hole vortex at the back, anxious to join the universe of missing objects. I was about to give socks that much credit. That is, until the beige sock lay crumpled on the floor. Could it have been spit back?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The further adventure of the Union loom

The Union loom we purchased because its owner needed the money had a history before it reached us, which did not diminish when we gave it back. We were contacted by the husband of the owner. We weren't hard to find, we were the only business in the Yellow Pages under the heading of Weaving. The husband said his wife wanted to sell her Union loom, and we agreed to take a look and give some advice on condition and price.

We found the house and met the husband and wife in the drive. The young woman was clearly holding back her emotions, not happy about selling the loom. She grew up in upstate New York. Two spinster Shaker sisters lived near her parents’ summer home, and wove and sold rugs for a living. She was fourteen when they introduced her to the art of weaving, and she spent the next several summers working happily with the women.

She grew up, moved on, and some years later was startled to learn the old sisters had passed away and left her the loom.  The gift delighted her, and she made room for it everywhere she lived over the next several years. There always were rugs for her homes and gifts for her friends, from the loom. But, now money was necessary; we were weavers, could we buy the loom from her?

Union looms are utilitarian looms, not high in the price structure. At the time a very good Union loom, fetched two hundred dollars at the very top of the market. People found them in relative’s homes and thought they had a valuable antique, but in truth they had a sturdy, well made tool that could be found in a quarter of the farm houses from the Atlantic to the Great Plains.

Although they have not been in production now for over a century, Unions were built to perform and to last. That it had increased four times in value from its final selling price was a tribute to the Union Loom Company. We paid her two hundred dollars for her Union loom, and on the way home decided to give it to Beth.

When Beth lived upstairs in the Whitcomb duplex Shelly and James, and Bekka the baby lived downstairs. Bekka was an irrepressible little girl, who often disappeared up the back steps to Aunt Beth’s house. Eventually Beth pulled the 24 rusty warping nails from the base of the loom to forestall that potential baby trap. It’s the only change that happened to the loom, and in retrospect I’m sorry we couldn't return them with the loom.

Beth eventually bought two four harness Newcomb Studio rug looms. They filled much of her dining room; the Union was folded up and pushed against a wall. Then one day the husband called us. His wife missed her loom dreadfully, and had saved enough money to repurchase it. Would we sell? We loaded the loom back in the truck and appeared in the same drive at the appointed day and time. No one was home. After perhaps half an hour we unloaded the loom, left it very close to the garage door, and left, hoping nothing would happen to it. 

I sent an invoice in the mail. No check came. I left a phone message some weeks later. And more months on I sent a note, reminding the woman she had not paid for the loom. Eventually I wrote the invoice off to bad debts. It wasn't the first bad debt, it wouldn't be the last. Cost of doing business.

At least five years went by, the loom long forgotten, and an envelope came in the mail from the young woman. In it, two hundred dollars plus fifty for “interest and your kind patience.”

Her note explained the day she was to get her loom back, on the way home to meet us in her drive, she was in a terrible auto accident. Her husband already was home, to help with the unloading and moving, and received the call to come to the hospital at once.  He came home late and the loom in his headlights was just the last part of an awful day.

She was all those years mending her bones, learning to walk again, eventually finding another job, and finally saving two hundred dollars to pay for the loom. She was so grateful we still had it. She never mentioned the missing warping nails.

Bekka, when she scampered up back steps.

Friday, October 24, 2014

You can do this

When Beth lived upstairs on Whitcomb, Jan and I were just starting our weaving business.  Back in Mentor, every time a daughter moved out, I put a loom in the bedroom.  First Beth’s room, then Shelly’s.  Then in the dining room.  Down in Akron, after she and Tom married, Jan put a loom in her old bedroom.  Then one in the dining room.  They still ate meals there, until a second loom went into the dining room.  That’s when we bought this house, with the studio.

In the beginning we bought far too many looms.  Good looms are never a bad investment.  We learned from our looms, and then sent them back into the world, generally at a profit and never for a loss.  Until we learned a good deal more about them, we gladly went to look over looms that folks wanted to sell.  

The only Union Loom we ever owned we purchased in a distress situation.  The owner loved it, but needed the money.  It was a wrench for the woman to part with it; she had happy memories of learning to weave on it when she was a teen.  But, we paid up and loaded up and the deal was done.

Driving back we knew we really didn't want it, but…..   Let’s give it to Beth.  She can weave rugs!

I knew Beth was away on a business trip.  I also knew Chrissy had a key to take care of the cats.  Chrissy was very reluctant to agree with my request to let us into Beth’s house, as she should have been.  It was extremely presumptuous of Beth’s mother to put a loom in Beth’s dining room and wait for Beth to come home and find it.  But she let us in, and Jan and I hauled the loom up a long set of stairs and set it up in the dining room.  We put on the first warp and threaded the heddles and the reed.  Then we went home and waited for the phone call.

When it came I caught heck for involving Christina, but not for the loom, which really interested her.  In our ignorance of Union Loom braking systems, we put the first warp on the wrong direction.  Beth fought her way through it, and was a downhill weaver thereafter.  

She bought several looms and wove steadily for us until Bill came along and distracted her. Beth owned her house by then and all the looms lived in the garret.  Shelly and I finished emptying the looms up in the attic of desperately needed fabric while Beth and Bill made goo goo eyes downstairs.  By the time they married, all the looms were out of the attic and sold.

The Union Loom never made it to her attic; it did its service on Whitcomb. That’s where Ann learned to weave.  The Union had been pressed into service for fabric by then and Beth wove a couple of yards each night, when she came home from work.  Ann moved in with Beth temporarily, after selling her home, before moving to Wisconsin.  She came home from work earlier than Beth, and looking for something to pass the time, picked up a shuttle.  She accumulated her own looms in Wisconsin and wove for us until we retired. 

The  Union Loom we sneaked into Beth’s house?  The original owner said she’d like to buy it back.  So, having done its job, the loom went back to the person who loved it most.

Christina, the cat sitter who let us in.
During her harpsichord phase, twenty years ago.
She grew up to be a New York attorney.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

More levity in a 6 x 8 foot bathroom

The three red trucks on the end yielded five plumbers on Tuesday,
to tackle the drain issues we've tolerated for twenty six years.
(Remember Mom's carpenter friend Bill? Yes, he "redid" everything, and winged it more often than not.)
I now know more about drains than Bill probably ever did.
Bathtubs have two inch drains.
Shower stalls require three inch drains. It's something about the way the water goes round and round.
Bill left us with two inch drains where three inch drains were required.

How many tradesmen fit in a 6' x 8' bathroom, stripped down to bare walls?
Three. For a few moments, four, but three was the consistent number.

 More plumbers downstairs.

This one stayed upstairs.
Between all of them, including Jim and Mike,
they removed the old cast iron stack in the corner 
and put in shiny new PVC.

It's a balancing act with the rotten old floor removed.
They gave young Mike the toughest perch of all. (The forward pointing toes.)

By Wednesday's end, new flooring and a good deal more prep work done.
Jim couldn't reset the toilet; I slept upstairs!

When I came in from work today, the shower stall was framed in. Jim was even putting down the sub floor, while Scott, a leftover plumber, was finalizing the terlit hole.
I think these guys are pleased me and my camera are missing a good half of every day!

Still holds three people, but one is now technically in the bathtub. Well, the shower.

Concrete, to set the shower base.
"You know you're standing on something!" Jim explained. 

I'll bet a hammer and a crescent wrench are standard tools for setting the last quarter inch of a reluctant drain.

The plumbers are gone, it's back to Jim and Mike.
Contemplating the wall.

End of day four.
Jim reset my toilet for another night.
I'm sure the poor old thing thinks perhaps I love it and it, of all the old fixtures, will prevail.
Ha! This time next week there will be a lovely tall toilet there.
Keep checking back.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sad, sad, sad

I wrote about this house earlier this year, in March. It was far too cold to prowl around, so I linked to a very good article about its history.

Today I received a comment to moderate that simply said this house burned to the ground today, and gave me a link.

A beautiful house, for you to look at one more time:

Firestone family home to be relocated

  • Published: Sat, August 13, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.
Crews are preparing to move an Italianate-style home owned by the Firestone family, known for its tire empire, just east on Lipply Road in view of Pine Lake. The house is currently next to the Firestone tire-testing facility.
Tom Ellison of New Springfield said he purchased the Firestone house partly as a way to create work for his company, Tom Ellison Excavating.
By Ashley Luthern

A piece of local history will have a new location — albeit only 900 feet from where it has stood since 1880.
Crews are preparing to move an Italianate-style home owned by the Firestone family, known for its tire empire, just east on Lipply Road in view of Pine Lake. Tom Ellison of New Springfield purchased the home, and his company, Tom Ellison Excavating, and Stein House Movers of Cortland are transporting the house.
“Too often we munch and crunch these old buildings,” Ellison said.
Ellison purchased five acres on Lipply Road through David A. LoGiudice, a real-estate broker and appraiser with Boardman-based David Realty, and first expressed interest in the house in October.
Ben Strawinski, supervisor of the 400-acre Firestone tire-testing facility that is next to the house, called the situation a “win-win.”
“We would have recycled parts of the house, but that was a last resort,” he said.
The Firestone company has maintained the house since the last occupant, Beatrice Webber, a Fire-stone family friend, left about six years ago, Strawinski said.
The space where the house is will be turned into a parking lot for visitors to the testing center.
Strawinski said the home was used by Harvey S. Firestone’s sister.
Visitors to the testing site still can look across the street and view the area where Firestone went camping with Henry Ford and Thomas Edison and the remains of a horse track where Firestone first tested his rubber tires.
The Firestone Homestead where Harvey S. Firestone was born and grew up was moved to Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., in 1983. The homestead, which included a barn, was built in 1828.
Ellison said he owns several older homes and rental properties and acquired this home partly as a way to create work for his company.
LoGiudice said by moving the house down the road — and avoiding crossing state Route 7 — the task of temporarily disrupting electric service was made easier. Ellison added the house likely will travel “at a creep” down Lipply Road in about two weeks.
Once there, Ellison will renovate the house and make a circular driveway. But the house isn’t for him — “I already have a home on the other side of the lake” — and Ellison said he will sell it.
“This house will be a thing of beauty,” he said.
Harvey Firestone introduced vulcanizing of rubber; he, Henry Ford and Charles Goodyear gave us cars with tires.

Monday, October 20, 2014

It's happening

Good bye 1988 bathroom.
My house was built in 1940.
The downstairs bath is seven by eight feet.

The demo begins.
Jim, in the red shirt.
He's bailed us out of the problems of earlier substandard contractors.
Mike, his young helper, on the right.

My old bathroom, in a dump truck.

More for the dump truck.

More to come down.

The Plan B problem.
That's the shower drain, in front of the water pipes.
It needs to relocate about a foot south (Plan A).
Unfortunately, a foot south proves to hold the heating duct.
Jim's solution is Plan B. Later.

A completely unexpected problem.
The diagonal planks are from 1940.
They should have been repaired in 1988.
That carpenter was Bill, a friend of Mom's.
I hired him on her recommendation.
She stayed out of sight the day I fired him.

End of day one.
Jim and Mike even reset the the toilet,
So this old lady could still sleep in her own room yet tonight.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

And in conclusion,

I finished the last two sections of heddles this morning,

Then threaded the reed.

Tied onto the cloth beam, or take up beam.
Cloth beam because it's where the woven cloth accumulates.
Take up beam because it takes up the woven cloth.

And began weaving a length of M's and O's.
Look at those excellent selvages!

M's and O's is a block weaving pattern.
Etymologists say the name came out of Finland, which has a very long history of weaving.
For undiscovered reasons, its Finnish name turned into an Anglo-Irish name for drunkards who stay up all night and come home with the owls. That's as much as I remember.
It makes more sense to me than M's and O's, as I've never seen either.

This length has a long way to go to see how well it can become a scarf.
The kind my stylish friends wear in loops around their necks.
To test how it fulls, this length will probably stop at four or five feet, not six or eight,
and become a pretty little moebius neck drape.

And now, Fanny Price and I will quietly leave the room.

Am I the only one of us who know who Fanny Price is?