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Our Olde House: September 2023

Kitchen demo

The first week after the oak tree fell on our kitchen was difficult and stressful to say the least. This disaster did not come with instructions on what to do or even where to begin. Fortunately, Miss Sherry has friends who called a tree service to remove the tree, and our neighbor recommended the contractor he used to add a large addition to his house.  Since we were overwhelmed by the scope of the mess that lay before us, we decided just to focus on one step at a time.


After the tree was off of the house and a tarp was on the roof, our next task was to remove the tree from inside the house. The first three days of debris removal seemed very discouraging due to the volume of stuff that fell into the house, and the fact that more debris kept falling out of the ceiling, but on the fourth day we were done. Over the next four weeks, much progress was made to put our house back together again since we had help from some very nice and skilled people.


The rest of the tree branches were removed from our yard and the massive stump was ground into sawdust. The backyard is still full of small impact craters which we will deal with when we run out of things to do. A new deck for the apartment was built next to the surviving stairs. A twenty-five-foot by fifteen-foot section of the roof was crushed and completely replaced with new rafters and joists and plywood; we even got shingles on the roof before any large rain storms hit. The crushed kitchen wall with its two windows was replaced and the facia boards on two sides of the house were repaired.

During the intermittent work to repair our storm damage, the regular fun of living in a Civil War house continued. Another rat got under the house and managed to find and trip the trap in less than thirty minutes; a world record. With the hedge gone from the front of the house we now have a significant amount of runoff going under the house. I cleared a space next to the house and put up a brick and dirt wall to divert the rain around to the side of the house and out the backyard.


A sink in one bathroom decided to start running slow so I poured drain cleaner down it, without any effect whatsoever. It seemed like a physical obstruction in the pipe, and not just a hair clog so I called a plumber. He worked on the clog for a while until he got his powered snake to push through. We have no idea what it was but the drain works now. I also had the plumber replace the shower head pipe into the wall since this old-style shower head connector will not work with the new shower head I bought, which he also installed.


Ants attacked the kitchen again, a lot of ants so I put out liquid bait for them to eat and share. This takes about three days to get rid of all the ants, but it is well worth the wait since it gets rid of ALL of the ants. The falling tree knocked a hole in a three-foot section of the wall covering the crawl space so I needed to fix that. My first two fixes of stacking the loose bricks back up into a wall were breached by animals or just fell down, probably the latter. My last temporary wall seems to be keeping out the animals and remains standing; it will have to do until I get some cooler weather to fix it permanently.


I remembered that I did not finish my bathroom remodel, and that is inside so probably a good thing to do now. Painting a bathroom is all fun because it is all trim, and mine needed two coats.  Lots of trips up and down the step ladder to paint around the ceiling and high portions of the wood trim. And lest we forget we need to remove the free-standing cabinet behind the toilet, the sink cabinet, light fixture, and the medicine cabinet before I can put up the new wallpaper. I wanted to replace the medicine cabinet, but of course, it is a size that is no longer made, so rather than tear up the wall to make the opening bigger, I decided to paint the existing cabinet. This actually worked very well with a nice high gloss white spray paint, the cabinet looks new.

My bathroom wallpaper project went pretty well. Shortly after I started on the wallpaper, Miss Sherry and I mutually agreed without saying a word that I should put up the wallpaper by myself. The pre-glued wallpaper is nice, but the glue is not very sticky and tends to come off when holding the corners for too long and muttering in French; I cheated and used a glue stick on some corners that would not stick to the wall. Drawing a pencil vertical start line was not too bad, but I would recommend never trying to install any wallpaper with vertical stripes.


We are not done fixing all of the tree damage by any means, but Miss Sherry and I breathed a very large sigh of relief after the shingles were put on the roof since no more rain could come inside our house. We have been discouraged at times, of course, but we have always remained grateful that all people and pets are fine; stuff can and is being replaced.


The aftermath of a big oops from our tree has not been easy, but we will persevere and see it through to completion. Kitchen demolition has been completed, leaving walls with just studs remaining; we have no ceiling, no flooring, and the electrical boxes are lying on the floor. Kitchen reconstruction will begin shortly and should be less depressing and much more fun to watch. Even such a significant inconvenience is nothing compared to the anxiety and chaos we already survived; we are rebuilding, and we will enjoy what soon will be Our Renewed Olde House.



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