Friday, June 11, 2010

At it again

I know it has been awhile since my last post approximately 7 months by my estimation. It has been a busy 7 months. On March 20th 2010, I tied the knot with the most wonderful woman in the world. Also, my parents came up in late February and helped gut the entire living room of the south apartment upstairs. Today though was a different area.

Today, I was working on the demolition of the bedroom in the south apartment. The wood lathe and plaster walls were falling down today and the tools of the trade were two crowbars of differing sizes and my old trusty hatchet.

This first picture is the east interior wall of the bedroom on the other side is a closet and the kitchen. The trick of the day for removing the lathe and plaster is to cut a square in the plaster with the hatchet and then smack it in a few places in the middle and then the plaster just comes rolling off of the wood lathe. Then, you take a crowbar and pull the slats off. Usually the wood slats are in pretty good condition and so can be reused for something else. I will be reusing them to make something wonderful but as of yet, I’m not sure what that will be.IMG_0956

This next picture shows the west exterior wall of the bedroom and as you can see, there is no insulation in the walls so, it is very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer. This of course is a real problem and the entire house is like this so similar measures will be taken throughout the house.


The next picture in our demolition slideshow is of the heap of plaster on the floor after removing a portion of the south wall and half of the west wall and then some of the wood lathe pieces in a pile in the middle of the floor. Also, at the very bottom of the wood lathe pile is the very useful crowbar of lathe destruction.


During the process of the demolition I kept having this concept of rebirth and growth in our relationship with God. So here goes:

Oftentimes remodeling a house is like a developing a continuing relationship with God and our spouse. Like an old house we come into the relationship with a lot of old building ideas and many beautiful things that are tarnished and broken but through a meticulous demolition and rebuilding process, we are made whole again with the Father. This reminds me of the passage of scripture from Ephesians ch2 v13-22:

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

When we come to God for help in rebuilding our lives and marriages and renewing our hearts and minds it can be a messy process at first. Like in the passage, God will destroy the barrier that keeps us from Him and like This Old House that is a messy and challenging process that takes time and effort and a lot of patience. At times we will see nothing but the piles of dust and dirt that consisted of our old selves and it can be discouraging and sometimes very unpleasant (especially when you get a lungful of plaster dust because you didn’t wear a mask while tearing down a wall and you just hope beyond hope that in 1865 asbestos was not a major ingredient in lathe and plaster walls). Unlike a house remodel where we usually have the end result already pictured in our minds and we have every step planned out and the general timeline for the project, we don’t always know exactly what the end result of God’s plan for rebuilding our lives is. We must trust in God because he promises that it is a good plan and a wonderful plan and if you doubt this read Jeremiah 29:11:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”

In the continuation of the passage from Jeremiah, it lays a foundation for us to pray and seek God. He promises that if we pray He will listen, if we seek Him with our whole heart we will find Him, and He will bring us back from captivity. Like the remodeling process, rebuilding a relationship with our spouse and with God is not a lazy process. We must be fully committed to seeing it through to the end even though God alone knows where that is. We must remain diligent in praying and seeking with our whole heart. God will reveal himself in time and in time will be faithful to perfectly rebuild what was torn down.

Throughout the process of rebirth, God will reveal that like this old house our previous lives were mostly built on an archaic and sometimes faulty building code. Like the walls in the house, there is nothing to insulate our interior from the summer of sin and the winter of despair but like all things God has provided the solution through His son Jesus. Jesus acts as the R-30 insulation for our walls protecting us from the elements of life that keep us from having a strong relationship with the Father. God has also provided a new building code and it is more than 5/8” drywall and 6’ spacing on wall outlets, it is the Bible, it is the foundation for our life and the instruction manual to help us live in closer communion to Him so that in time he can reveal his plan in us and as the scripture passage from Ephesians 2:22 says “And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit”



Saturday, November 7, 2009

This Old House Picture Edition

Since I first started blogging about the house, many requests have been made to get some pictures of the house posted, this blog is the response to those requests and I hope to start regularly including pictures with my future blog entries. So, let the blogs begin…

Over the last few weeks many things have been changing quite nicely around here. The barn has been cleaned out, windows have been scraped and glazed, and cabinets are in the process of being painted. Also, the trees have been changing many different colors which just add to the beauty of the fall season and the upcoming Holidays. So, here are a few pictures to show some of the projects around the house.


This is the very front of the house facing Santa Fe.

This is the back of the house looking through

the loft door in the barn.


This is the exterior of the barn and as you can see, it does slightly lean to the left and the South wall sags a bit but, the highlight of it is that the roof is actually straight up and down from when it was redone several years ago.

This is the bird sculpture in the front yard that took two cases of Rustoleum primer to paint over, this bird will eventually be painted blue and yellow which are Bethany colors. I think this is very coincidental as the Bethany symbol is the dove, and the biggest rival to Bethany is Kansas Wesleyan which is only six blocks south of us.


This is the Immanuel Lutheran sign that was painted by Pastor Kent, these are a pretty cool way to advertise in a small way the church in the community.


Now we get to the pictures of the kitchen where we are starting the process of painting over the old stuff that was there, which I might add was very tastefully done if it was going to be the paint scheme in a blind man’s condo. So, here goes…


This is the new color for now of the cabinets in the kitchen, a very tasteful Kilz Number 2 White. The original color of the cabinets and most everything in the kitchen was a very nice sandy beige color which by nice I mean very ugly, boring, and bland. The Kilz white also helps to cover the water stains and mold stains that are in the cabinets because of leaky gaskets in the sinks that flooded every time they were used.


This is a photo of the cabinet under the sink in its full beige and water stained glory.


This is a picture showing the current bland violetish bluish color of the walls outlined by more of the sandy beige color. This picture also shows some of our ideas for coloring the kitchen I think we are thinking of an overall creamy yellow with green accents. Kind of like a John Deere themed country kitchen.

This is more of the kitchen beige goodness also showing off the vintage 70’s hotpoint oven in contrast to the two year old smooth cooktop range.


This is the good ol’ wall again and it even shows off the beautiful purple curtains and yes, those were free and included with the house.


More wall and purple curtains with a hint of ceiling fan in the top part of the picture.


This is the East wall of the kitchen and yes it does have a little stained glass motif on it which I might add is a high quality stained glass hand painted with puff paint. I think this was done while the owners or occupiers of the premises were puffing on something else, perhaps the Ganj.


This is the back entryway/laundry room for the house. This space also serves as the main entrance to the house as the driveway and parking place to the house is mainly in back. This room as well is the ugly beige/sandy color that I so deplore as the main coloring to a room like this but that will too change with time.


This is the North wall of the kitchen and it has a nice pantry space but unfortunately, there are no shelves in the big closet. That too will change.


This is the continuation of the North wall of the kitchen and the hallway entrance to the bedrooms, bathrooms, and the basement.

I hope you have enjoyed being able to see some of the pictures of the house and I hope to post more in the future. All of the changes going on around here have made me decide to post the occasional before and after picture project blog highlighting shots of the projects at the start and at the end. Anyway, Have a great week and a good weekend.



Heat at Last Heat at Last...

This post was originally started about two weeks ago so here is the completion:

Today is a glorious day! After one month and ten days of suffering under the cold shower head of misery, we finally have hot water!!!! Some of you may be wondering what I am talking about and if so, you need to read my last post titled This Old House to fully understand the joy that I am going through.

Anyway, if you think it was simple, think again…. No. the water heater gods decided I needed to wage a battle of epic proportions to get hot water in my home.

First, I needed to find a hot water heater and my choices were pretty diverse but it came down to two things, tankless or tank. A tankless water heater is also goes by the name ‘Demand Water Heater’ (I prefer damned water heater after this saga) This means that instead of heating water to 120 degrees in a tank and then storing the water while it loses heat and then heating it again and again, it heats the water as needed. It has a flow switch so that it only turns on when the hot water taps are opened thus saving much energy and gas. The only problem is that if the water coming into the house is colder, you get less gallons per minute in flow so basically when the water comes into the house in the winter at a blustery 40 degrees and you want it heated to 100 degrees for your shower you may get about 4 gallons a minute in flow or less. So in the winter be prepared for a lukewarm shower.

After looking this information up, I decided that a tank water heater will work and maybe when I revamp the apartments, they will get a tankless water heater to save me money and so that they have as much hot water as they need. The next question that needed to be answered is the where question. Well, to make it simple, I went to Lowe’s and got another Whirlpool but in a different model that is more reliable than the one I had. Here is where the battle begins:

Lowe’s offers installation with a water heater purchase the only problem is that this store does not have a person on staff or on call that can install them so even though they offered it to me when I purchased the water heater, it wouldn’t have meant anything if I said yes. I purchased the water heater last Wednesday and on Thursday at about 8:00am the water heater arrived and was set down still in the box in my basement. And I must quote the Lowe’s guy: “That water heater you have now is practically brand new…” Me: Grrrrrrrr… Read my last post if you don’t understand what just happened. Anyway, at 8:05, I was tearing into the box and I swear the angels were singing and the lights were shining as the box was opened and the water heater was revealed. I was so excited in fact, I still had two hours before I had to be at work so why not try and hook it up right? WRONG!!!! I took one look at it and realized three interconnected things: 1. I have never put in a water heater before much less switched one out. 2. This is a gas appliance. 3. This is a one hundred and forty four year old wood frame house WHAT THE HELL AM I THINKING? So, I started calling the plumbers.

Between Sarah and myself, I think we called thirty plus plumbers. Half of them said that they won’t install what they won’t sell. A quarter of them were already booked up with other jobs. The other quarter just didn’t answer the phones and never returned the calls. Thanks water heater gods, first you get me all excited and then you crush my hopes of having a hot shower. Finally after six days, I was at my pastor’s house jut chillin’ and he asked me how the water heater stuff was going and I said grrrrrr… and told him about the plumber situation. He looked at me and said, let me call Bob.

Bob happens to be the custodian and maintenance guy for our church, he also happens to own a Dairy Queen store here in Salina. When we called Bob he had a few questions for me like what size the pipes were was it copper or PVC and so on. Finally he said, let me come out and take a look at it and see what you got. Well by look at it he meant tear out the old one and install the new one. I have to say, Thank You God for giving the world such a wonderful man that is blessed with the knowledge of water heaters. Because of Bob, we have hot water in this house.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and God Bless,


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Old House...

So it has now been 20 days since the closing on the house and so far it has been both fun and a pain. The first project was to rid the basement of all of the moldy paneling so that the air in the house would be breathable and what a difference that made.

Then the yard, first project was to mow the almost knee high grass with a push mower which was a treat unto itself. It took forever with the mower dying at least three times every two minutes because the grass was not only overgrown, it was wet. But that was taken care of after much work and the lawn looks fantastic. The next outdoor project was to paint the ugly bird sculpture in the front yard. This consisted of buying two cases of Rustoleum grey primer and spray painting the crap out of the bird, it now looks much better.

I guess now would be a good time to give a little background on the house. After talking to the neighbors, we have found out that the house was really built in 1865 and was the original homestead house in the area. I also found out that the original owners took very good care of the house and were avid gardeners. This is in complete contrast to the previous owners who did not care for the property which is very evident in the fact that most of the time I have been spending has been involving throwing out lots of trash and making small maintenance repairs to things like putting teflon tape on sewer cleanout caps so they don’t leak into the basement (luckily, said cap was not on the same line as the toilets and was only on the line with the shower and the sinks). The other thing that was done to the house almost thirty to forty years ago was to convert the upstairs into two separate apartments which will be nice once they are cleaned up and rented out. This was a good idea but it is now obvious that it was done on the cheap because looking at some of the remnants of the project in the basement, I have found that copious amounts of electrical tape were preferred to junction boxes and that coffee cans, yes coffee cans were used for the recessed lighting elements ( guess this is where the phrase ‘can lights’ comes from.

The next big project is the water heater from hell. 10 days ago, when I finally moved into the house after taking a gallon spray pump of clorox to the entire place, I decided it was time to fire up the hot water heater. Unfortunately, the water heater did not have the same ambition I did and decided to smite me with its continued silence and coldness. After trying many different things and consulting and insulting the manual, I finally called upon professional help, yes, I called my dad. He was able to give me many pointers and ideas which were very good things for me to learn for future reference on water heaters and gas systems in general but alas, still silence from the water heater. Finally, I broke down and called a plumber, actually I called twelve different plumbers and had two additional ones show up and except for the last one, they all said the same thing: Whirlpool water heaters of this model are commonly like this. They are sold by Lowe’s and they are a piece of junk. They then told me to call the 1-800 number posted on the side and that Whirlpool would be able to help me. Well, I called Whirlpool and unfortunately being the honest sap I am I did tell them that I am the second owner of the water heater. The other problem I had was that unfortunately their call center in Delhi is not really staffed with people who are good English speakers so every five minutes I was like: Can you speak some ENGRISH PREASE?!?!?! Well, they said that they couldn’t help me and the warranty is useless even though it has a 12 year warranty and is only two years old and I should call a plumber. How ironic, the plumbers tell me to call them and they tell me to call a plumber… Well, it is time for a new water heater more to come on that subject later. You might be thinking at this point what that last plumber told me, it went like this:

Plumber: I’ve never seen this extra wire before so I don’t know what it does. (in his best Barney Fife voice)

Me: That’s the temperature sensor according to the wire diagram…

Plumber: I’m not sure what this button does…

Me: That’s the igniter…

Plumber: Well uh, uh, I’m not sure I can help you so I guess I’ll see you later and try this 1-800 number they’ll be able to help you…

Me: Grrrrrrrrrr

At this point you might be wondering why would someone subject themselves to all of this. Well, I say it is worth it even through all the struggle and the crap and the cold showers… especially the cold showers… which I haven’t had to take but I tell Carl that so he’ll shower occasionally and not smell =) If you are reading this Carl… =) gotcha. =)

Anyway, I need to go so I can get some sleep and then toil and trouble tomorrow at work and deliver furniture to people’s houses which after leaving make me smile real big because I know beyond all doubt my house is cleaner and roach free because as the saying goes where I work, If you are lost on a delivery and you can’t find the house in the neighborhood, look for the crappiest house on the block and that is most likely where you are going…