Thursday, February 9, 2012

Getting plastered

(originally written December 9, 2011)
I have been nothing short of a slacker when it comes to updating this blog. Seriously! I am full of fail. And the last one – yeah, just a crappy entry about how I feel all crummy because it’s dark out.
This fall we haven’t accomplished too much. I guess you could say we ran out of steam or something of that sort. Most of our progress has been hindered by 2 things: The grant program and the furnace situation.
Fortunately, we finally got the grant situation under control. We sent our list of repairs to the person handling our file and (surprisingly) said they would be able to get to almost all of it. Yeah, this was a list that included inane ideas like adding a window in our master bedroom. With that in mind, Garry and I got a little creative and re-wrote our list. We also included that we would be willing to do some of the demolition/finishing work in order to save some cost and get more projects tackled. We also offered to pay for (or chip in for upgraded) materials if that will help as well.
While dreams of solid-surface countertop and redoing the bathroom dance in my head, the main goals are still there: get the house up to code with plumbing and electric, insulate everything properly and replace the furnace and water heater.
When we told our grant coordinator about this he sent us the name of a guy that might be able to help out with the furnace situation. Ideally, we’d like to buy the unit and then have someone install it as that will save some money. However, we have had ZERO luck in finding someone to do that. I can appreciate that certain contractors only work with certain brands and all of that – BUT, I also don’t want to spend $7,000 on a new furnace.
 So, we’re hoping that the furnace person coming today will be helpful in that endeavor. Heck, if we can have that be all paid for by the grant… you know I’ll be throwing a parade!
In the meantime, there really aren’t too many projects we can work on. One of the bigger, more annoying projects that needed to be completed was the Mirror Wall of Awfulness.
It’s not that I’m a vampire and can’t see my reflection, but I just felt that an ENTIRE wall of mirrors was… well… useless. Energetically speaking it was also very “sharp,” something that really bugged me whenever I was in the living room.
Shortly after we bought the house we removed the mirrors and realized that the paint on the wall was peeling off in sheets. Augh.
It's cute how he thinks that he's almost done with this project.
With scrapers in hand, Garry and I scraped…
and scraped…
and scraped…
It took two months to get it all off. Mostly because we’d get a chunk done and not want to continue the process.
Recently I finished the scraping. My arms were sore and tired, by I victoriously held my scraper aloft and proclaimed my completion of the scraping – and then promptly had a beer… or was it rum and Coke…? Which leads me to the next section… the plaster.
Since the walls were previously plastered we figure we should do something similar. I wasn’t going to even try and attempt to mimic the amazing plaster designs that the rest of the house had, but would try to go for a Venetian plaster look. Basically, it is very forgiving and you just kind of slop  the plaster on there, smooth it out some and if there are trowel marks or places that didn’t cover completely - it’s okay! It’s rustic! It’s imperfect! That’s the point!
Trowels (actually, we used the paint scrapers) in hand, we started applying the plaster (actually it was “wall texture”) to the wall.
There were little craters in the wall where the mirrors decided to take a little souvenir with them. Those were filled with joint compound before-hand.
I learned something about “wall texture,” having a mixing attachment to a drill would have been REALLY helpful, instead of trying to stir it by hand with a piece of aluminum mirror railing. So Garry and I sat there in the living room, a big bucket full of “wall texture” mix and some water, taking turns stirring the mix. AJ came over and looked at us with the same cocked-head look a German shepherd gets when it’s confused and walked away before we drew him into our adventure. I just think he wanted to avoid me quoting Macbeth…
Once we had the mixture mixed and started slopping it on the walls we realized that it was probably just a bit too thin… nothing we could do about it so we just ran with it.
I can’t even begin to tell you of the mess we made. Garry, for as much as I love him and appreciate his help with things around the house, is not the neatest or detail-oriented human being out there when it comes to things like painting. Luckily we were smart enough to put a dropcloth down (which is COVERED in plaster) and we only had a few spots on the floor.
Folks, this stuff was EVERYWHERE and I am fairly certain it was because we mixed it so thin (in order for us to be able to stir it properly we had to add more water) that it looked like pancake mix splattered all over our work area.
After the plaster dried, I applied another layer of joint compound in the “craters” so they would be completely flush with the wall and not, well, craters.
At this point, I need to “sand” down the joint compound (a trick I learned was to use a damp sponge – that way you don’t have to vacuum up the dust) and then… finally… after long-last… I can PAINT THE WALL!
It’s one of those moments in my life where I’m not sure if I’ve ever been as excited to paint a wall before.
This needs to happen either tonight or first-thing (after coffee) tomorrow morning because we’re going to put our tree up near that wall and I’ll be damned if I’m going to stare at a blank wall until New Year’s.