War is coming…
My sister had her neighbor paint this for our Christmas present this year.
Oil on canvas…about 10×12.
The gifts people think about are always the best. We like!
We hope you have had a Merry Christmas and have a great new year!
Daniel & Carey Meyer
Sorry for the lack of updates folks. This summer has been tough on getting projects…at least MY projects done.
I’ve been frantically dealing with other folks crises on a pretty regular basis…derailing most of my own plans for work. These have been extensive and expensive.
One small thing I HAVE been working on…is ME. As of this writing I’ve lost a total of 177 pounds…77 of it this year alone. It’s a challenge that eclipses anything I’ve ever attempted to tackle.
Interested in the particulars? Head on over to the Life Is a Road blog…I’m collecting the fitness posts on their own page.
I’ll be back to the porch work quite soon…
The final bit of KDAT (Kiln Dried After Treatment) tongue and groove porch flooring lumber finally came in…so I vowed that unless I got smited (smote?) by a major god (me and Thor may still be having a duel…our status after last spring is still unclear) I was going to get the porch deck down this weekend.
Step one was to spend a couple hours underneath the thing, putting the final touches on the beams, piers, shimming/support, and framing. The porch needs to support significant weight (if people gather), and hold the columns and upper porch roof’s weight as well. In addition, it needs to be braced for the temporary jackposts while the columns and upper beam are being rebuilt.
Then I got to move the OLD temporary jack-post supports to get them out of the way of where the next batch of decking goes down.
Hot and humid…crawling around in fine, dry, Texas black clay/gumbo soil. Ugh. Ya know you’ve been working when…
Because of the odd and varied lengths…and waste…involved in the curved section…the boards need to be pretty much cut to length and stained on all sides in small batches.
Storms threatened all day…and adding the angles and weird dimensions involved…each of the last 6-8 boards had to be individually cut, fitted, removed, stained, dried, and installed before the next one could be accurately done.
…done…good gravy the amount of work I’ve put into this project…heh…95% of it won’t ever be seen by anybody…
Oh, and when I get the columns/beam set…the flooring will get another coat of stain…and the concrete (gray) porch will get painted to match it…
Now…underpinning next? Or start on that there massive curved structural header beam?
Oh, and my high-dollar jig needed to correctly mark the curve for trimming the floorboards with the proper offset, determined by the curved board underneath.
Heh…and then there’s the porch ceiling repair…the “completely rip out an inappropriate double door in the front wall and install an extrapolated version of the bay window that was originally there” project….and oh, lest we forget…the ENTIRE REASON I STARTED THIS…I need to install the railings my insurance company insists I must have….
Perhaps underpinning…simply because that’s a small segment and I can actually *finish* it in short order…
But that header beam…well *that’s* an “interesting” project…
Heads? Tails? A motorcycle ride? A romp with the wife? A bit of all?
(for more on the porch project, the rest of the posts are here.)
Y’all may recall I accidentally (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) challenged Thor to a duel LAST spring…and he promptly went smite-happy and got a lot of it all over my stuff.
A refresher on that mess here
It’s been a slow process to even get stuff STARTED on the fixing…but today was “new roof for the Suburban Blah House Day”.
Things are never that easy though…
There are some things a man just shouldn’t have to see…and broad daylight and blue skies in his attic is one of those things.
It turns out…the original decking on my 80’s Suburban Blah House…doesn’t meet building code.
So…we’re changing it. Sigh
As usual…there will be insurance arguments…and my wallet will probably explode…and THEN we can talk about the destroyed siding and broken windows…
Ahhh. The joys of home ownership.
The front porch deck framing is complete…and it was a bear. There’s a curve on the house there, and the outer porch is curved as well…and due to the framing of the round parlor room, several beams exit into the porch structure at angles.
There is not ONE straight cut in any of those beams.
Note: We managed to NOT launch anybody across the street getting that outer board bent on…
That mass of wood in the center of the curve is over two major piers and is where the column that holds up the top of the porch sits.
Now…I’ve just got to stain a bunch of KDAT 3″ tongue and groove decking (kiln dried after treatment), install that, and then construct a structural curved beam for the upper part of the porch…
We’ve not spoken in a few minutes…a comfortable silence…each absorbed in our own tasks. Alone, yet only an arm’s length away. I find myself staring across the table at her…suddenly somber and pondering the world and my place in it.
Holidays often bring a melancholy mood. Expectations. Societal pressures to give and receive. The desire to visit and celebrate and gather with family and friends. Most times all of that cannot come together. Occasionally none of it can. Work. Life. Family strife. Money. Distance. All of these can and do impact our hopes and plans…or wishes.
The end of the year also seems to require review. Did we succeed? Did we improve? Can we see the future? Do we regret? It’s made that much more pensive when our plans haven’t come together or we’ve simply run out of time.
That’s reality. There’s no failure here…but it often times feels like it.
…at least…for a moment.
Christmas Eve. We’ve some family coming for dinner. We’re missing others. Time. Distance. Money. Life…and death. All of those things conspire to dampen our spirits.
I suddenly recall another Christmas Eve…a long time ago on a dreary evening just like this one. Our first together as husband and wife in fact. Twenty-five years…
1991. Dreary, drizzly, cool, and damp. Staring at my lover sitting across the table from me…absorbed in her own thoughts, writing out some more cards for the season. It was to be our one indulgence. Cards. It was a stretch to afford to buy the stamps.
Our plans had come apart you see.
Family was all far away or otherwise occupied this year. We had turned down one invite simply because we couldn’t afford to go. We didn’t have the gas for even that paltry distance. We were still fighting our way out of the mire of poverty. My job was holding up…and I was working side jobs on my days off…as well as putting myself through college full-time, but “things” conspire.
I’d paid my tuition for the upcoming spring college semester a couple weeks before…and later on the same day I found out my boss had “finessed” our company’s “tuition reimbursement” plan so that I couldn’t use it. The terms were vague. He interpreted them to suit himself. Big fish. Small pond. Empires. He was ex-military and looked WAY down on any that were not…no matter what prices we had paid in other ways. His word was final.
The company encouraged education. He didn’t. I was good at what I did you see. The best, usually. I still believed that the hard work and dedication would pay off.
When I objected, he flat told me, “It’s not my job to help you advance. It’s my job to keep you right here.” The last two words punctuated by his fist hitting the desk. Seems I made his job easier.
He’d also declared that if we worked the holiday (we usually had to), that we’d no longer get double time…we’d have to take a day off (of his choosing) later instead. He usually did this by announcing as you walked in for your shift, “You’re off for the day.” A day gone…and a commute…
I’d have walked out right then…but it was more than just me to think about. That lady that put her trust in me deserved better. Responses should be measured. Thought out. Bitch-slapping the boss is neither of those.
But plans were falling apart. The tuition and books had doubled in price every year. As a working-class white guy I qualified for nothing in the financial aide realm despite a 4.0 gpa so far. I’d often found myself paying two or three times the tuition of my classmates simply because “me” was the only group that didn’t qualify for something.
Shady loans from government funded “tuition centers” had stupid-bad terms and required arts and business majors. I concluded after looking at the terms that they were targeting people that couldn’t do math…and requiring degree plans where they’d never learn any.
I was on the engineering track. No monies for me. No helping hand. Work my way out or drown.
It’s always been so. It always will be. In today’s speak, that’s my privilege.
Sink or swim. Work or die. Guess I’d better get to work.
I didn’t want to bail on the college though. I could see where technology was going…particularly into image and printing production…and I was IN the field…I wanted to be one of the ones ushering the tech.
The wife and I talked it over. Decided we’d just have to cut somewhere else to cover it. Hard to do when your grocery budget is $20/week.
I’d lined up a few more side jobs and worked myself to exhaustion. I covered the bills. Barely. The equivalent of two full-time jobs…and a full-time course-load.
Lots of sacrifices. One of those was Christmas.
At one side job (electrical) I surprised the man that hired me with my rapid and quality work. I had to be rapid…I needed to get on to other jobs as fast as I could. I needed the money.
The quality was just my pride. Why do it if you’re not going to do it right?
As a bonus he gave me a small turkey and some other fixings for a holiday meal. It was a “care package” kind of thing he was giving his own employees for the season.
I was thrilled. I could bring home the feast. Pasta casserole with a little ham thrown in was all we could afford…and that’s a poor “First Christmas” meal to provide my bride.
The small turkey is in the oven. The house smells of the holiday. My lover is filling out cards to mail our friends and family since we’ll not see any of them this holiday…
…and I’m staring across the table at her. This is supposed to be a time of joy and family and friends and here we were…just the two of us…in our little mobile home in country…with barely enough budget to pay for the gas so I can get to work till the next payday. We don’t even have the entire night together. I have to go into work soon and will be there all night and most of the next day.
I look at our pathetic little tree…maybe two-foot tall fake thing…that I had bought as a bachelor (and kind of a joke) a half a decade ago. She’d hung a few heirloom family ornaments on it. It was shedding plastic needles like a dried out real tree. There were maybe three little lights on it that still worked.
Have I failed? We were only holding our own…if that…and there was nothing more in me to give. Was it enough?
And then she looks up…cocks her head…and smiles. The kind of smile that shows even through the eyes. Mirrors of the soul and all that.
Souls. She seems to read a little of mine. “We’re fine babe. We’ll make it.”
And that’s all it took. The melancholy vanished like it never was. It was Christmas, and we were together, even it it was only for a couple more hours.
Fast forward…twenty-five years…to today. I stare across the table at my lover and wonder where the time has gone. So many things had changed over the years…but many were the same. We had plans for this Christmas. Some of them were working out. Some not. We’ve lost friends and family this year. Had tough times as well. Storms and thieves and the universe’s perversity hit us hard again.
Hard enough this year that again I wonder if I’ve failed.
And then she looks up, cocks her head and smiles. That same smile she had twenty-five years ago at our first Christmas…and I’ve seen countless times since. That smile that says that yes, things will change. We’ll get older and lose friends and family. Money will be tight…or not…but none of it really matters.
It’s Christmas. We’re together.
And that’s all it takes.
Daniel and Carey Meyer
Saturday night somebody couldn’t decide whether to go straight down the road, or turn…so they split the difference and crashed into our fence and pecan tree.
Note that this is the SECOND time this year somebody’s crashed into our fence…
THIS time however, I think we can say, “We won.”
Instead of crashing through the fence, they head-on-ed our massive pecan tree. Poor choice. I expect the car is totaled.
As I understand it, the occupants fled the scene. There are no signs of skid marks or any attempt to stop. I’d hazard a guess that “Alcohol was involved” appears somewhere in the police report.
Our damage consists of a chunk of tree root, some bark knocked off, and minor bent up fencing wire.
I wonder how the city would feel about me installing tank traps and mines? I could call it an art installation…
Had a great Halloween Trick-or-Treat Saturday night…an artifact of small-town Texas…if Halloween isn’t on Friday or Saturday they move Trick-or-Treat to the nearest (Friday or Saturday) so it’s not on a school night.
Apparently they’ve figured out sleep deprived kids hopped up on 20 pounds of sugar do not a constructive school day make.
Anyway, THIS is the leftovers. We started with 80+ pounds of candy and 200 full-sized glow sticks.
We are generous with the candy…a good solid handful (and I have big hands).
One older girl tells me, “Oh no. That’s too much! Save some for the other kids!”
When I assured her I had that covered she smiled brightly. “Oh wow!”
Then I handed her a glow stick. You’d have thought I handed her the world.
One of the reasons I love Halloween in a small town. Polite kids…the majority of them trying hard to have some sort of costume…some are most excellent…some have few resources but we make sure they have fun anyway…and the few that didn’t have costumes of any sort were usually escorting younger siblings that did.
Parents too…were often dressed up. Parents like glow sticks too!
Two new blowups this year…the big snake:
And the baby dragon:
And of course we rolled out previous year’s decor…the Momma Dragon of course (over 12 feet tall!):
Our usual big spider (and web woven out of rope-light):
Cat…in a hat…
And pouncing cat:
We of course, had the usual bloody hands, skulls, pumpkins, and spiders scattered about.
There were lots of good costumes. Ninja’s outnumber pirates this year…not counting ninja turtles…which could make up their own demographic. And spider men…lots and lots of spider men.
Anyway, fun night. All put up now. Gotta start planning for next year!
The project I started last weekend…
Well, the windows are IN! Woot! Flashed, signed, sealed, and delivered.
Some 6 months after the storm we are weatherproof!
These are high-end, custom, “hurricane” rated, wooden windows and should last a lifetime, barring future hailstorms of course. When 2-3″ hail is propelled by hurricane force winds all bets are off.
I’m also pleased to have solved a problem that’s been plaguing this house since it’s construction. The sills of the old windows were flat and practically flush with the lower roof, providing a source of nearly constant leaks inside the tower walls, and then of course, into the entry parlor (round room) below.
Their location and construction pretty much made the leaks inevitable. I shortened the new windows about 5 inches and gave them a proper sill/trim/flashing. These should never leak again. I also maintained the trim width/profile so that it matches the rest of the house (once painted).
Note that the new outdoor trim is treated, and I can’t paint it till it’s been exposed a couple weeks (or more). Of course, since everything, everywhere on this house needs painted…well…old house owners know THAT pain…
One neat note:
Removing the remains of the original windows I found the word “Doak” penciled on several of the pieces. This was interesting as the history of the Old Vic says that when built, the family that commissioned it was the Doak family…it was called “The Doak House” for some time…finding evidence that the original frames/trim was milled for the Doaks is cool.
Nathaniel P. Doak was the first District Attorney of Red River county. By 1890 he was a 6th District Judge. He was a Freemason with a Royal Arch Degree. Given that Clarksville was the county seat, it was only right that he build a fine mansion there after he married Maggie Burgher, the daughter of Colonel Young Burgher.
Of note, his second wife was Laura Reed, his niece, daughter of his first wife’s sister. At the time of his first wife’s death he had two small children at home, and the two wives appeared to be close friends as their names appear together in news articles about charity work in Clarksville.
I still need to do the trim work inside, but that will be a little later is it’s only for looks, and more urgent projects are next up (like finishing the front porch!).
I will be able to salvage some of the interior trim (most marked “Doak”!), namely the side trim and header “bulls-eye” trim. The curved top and bottom interior trim had suffered from the constant leaks over the years and I’ll have to replace that. Fortunately, its state of decay gives an intimate look into its fabrication and I’ll be able to replicate it quite easily…okay, not “easily” but yanno…”doable”…and well…fun of course!
More pictures to come then.
I should note that my insurance company thinks this job…including parts and labor, should have cost all of $110.
So…by my hand our tower is saved…by which…I’m probably accidentally challenging Thor to another duel…