Wednesday, July 20, 2011

And I'm off! (...1)

This is it, the end of the blog, but not, by far, the end of the Ruskin Project.  Once my kitchen reno started, I failed miserably at steering away from posts about my kitchen.  Clearly I need a job related to home rehab work.  Construction management perhaps?  How do I find work combining or making use of my media interest, passion for home renovation, love of cooking, and penchant for endurance sports?  These three things take up most of my time and draw me in time and time again, no matter how many challenges there seem to be., the biz venture I'm working on, is combining a few of my interests.  This site will launch in about a week with a splash page allowing visitors to learn about us, sign up to be notified when we launch our fully functional site (December, we hope!), and take a survey or email us feedback.  It's an exciting new business to be a part of and I doubt I would have begun this had I not been laid off.

My home projects and thoughts of buying and flipping a condo are beginning to stir...  Perhaps a plan will be in place soon on this front. 

Overall, I'm so incredibly grateful for this time to explore and learn and let myself see what pops up that I want to do.  How lucky I feel to step down off the work treadmill for a while and run about doing whatever I want, whenever I want, to learn as much as I want!  After many weeks now of getting to feel and think through my interests, I'm looking forward to taking on a focused job hunt.  It will be a rewarding challenge, not a daunting task.  But only because I feel relaxed and excited about it, instead of fearful and pessimistic.

Bring on the next chapter!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Big Floor Reveal! (...2)

How's this for a before and after picture series?  I think pretty darn spectacular!

Before...crud and dirt and stains and muck...

In comes the Clarke well as a few other large tools...

After a day of sanding, the floors are a lovely blonde caramel color!  I'm stunned and so happy with how much was able to be cleaned off these 100 plus year old floors.

Glossy and gorgeous now with 1 coat of polyurethan.  More coats tomorrow.  The kitchen, plantry, and back hall are aglow with their face lift!  Now all my other wood floors look tired and weary.  

The home rehab never ends...

Monday, July 18, 2011

When Did the Ruskin Project Become the Kitchen Project? (...3)

Renovation work has taken over my days.  That's obvious looking at the last many posts.  I'll have to get back to Ruskin work post blog (or new blog...?).

I spent nine hours today working in the kitchen (pant).  Everything from pulling up floorboard trim in the pantry (very laborious work  when it's put in before the floor boards are!), sanding, vacuuming, and cleaning windows.  I spent two of these hours removing the last bit of glued on laminate that was on the floor beneath the old cabinets.  It wasn't essential to remove, since it should be covered by new cabinets, but I want the area I'm setting the new cabinets on to be as level as possible.  The layer of glue, backing board and laminate was warped and bubbly so I think it was better to remove it and have it refinished along with the rest of the floor.

Armed with two large wet towels to soak the area, a sharp edged spackle knife for scraping, and paper towels to collect the gunk, I went to battle.    It was a fight!  The process is exhausting, as you may be able to see in the pictures.  First, soak towels and lay them on the laminate.  Next, lift up wet sections and scrape a layer.  Repeat.  Scrape the next layer.

Stubborn sections require sweat, tears, and a few curse words.

Finally, the wood is revealed.  I've said this several times before:  I cannot wait to see what this looks like refinished!!  Just a few more days before the dirt and dust layer is sanded away, polished up, and made to shine...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Imperfect Walls by Tom Atkins My(...4)

My dust covered self, after a long Sunday spackling and sanding.

Here's a poem representing well the fatigue one feels amidst and at the end of a renovation project.  I'm looking forward to the moment, described in this poem so well, when I can sit at my new kitchen island, put on some music (I do love Ella!), and sip some wine (I do love wine!) while I lean back and appreciate all the work that is done.

Imperfect Walls
by Tom Atkins

Ella Fitzgerald plays on the stereo
as you sip cold Pinot Grigio from a paper cup
and gaze the room
in the bright afternoon sun.

It is finished, months of work complete,
the walls glowing gold in the light,
each crack and hole patched and painted.
The rich hickory and cypress floors shine, rescued
from generations of neglect.

You look and see the bend in the plaster
where it was separated from the lathe,
an imperfection left, a reminder
that imperfection has it's own beauty,
in walls, in life and in love,
and you smile more deeply
than those who see you can know.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Floss, Please. (...5)

I felt like a dentist today, and hygienist, as I flossed and brushed the teeth like parts of this large. cast iron radiator.  It was satisfying to remove the caked on plaque like gunk from this monstrous thing, but this won't be a new career path for me.  No thank you.

It was detailed work using highly specialized tools:  A toothbrush, spatula, and tape.  I worked out all the dust and grime collected over who knows how long .  I admit I never attempted to clean the thing since it became mine 6 years ago.  Next, using wet rags and a sponge I scrubbed it clean.  This work was done in just a short amount of time today.  I'd already spent 20 minutes here and there, as I found the time these last few weeks, sanding the loose paint off the radiator. 

Once dust free and clean, I used primer from a spray can to cover the most egregious areas.  After that cured, the high heat enamel paint went on, again with a spray can.

Now, not only does it look cavity free and nicely polished, it looks to me like it should take a bow...what a beautiful spectacle an ancient radiator can be!

Thank you.  Thank you very much (that's the radiator talking).

Friday, July 15, 2011

Plaster, Trees, and Granite...Oh My! (...6)

Today was the 2nd day of wall work.  Not my work...I leave the wallboard and plastering to the pros.  I'd like to be skilled in this area.  Sure, I could hang wallboard, but since this kitchen wall job requires the walls and ceilings to be attacked with all level of skill, I leave this job to the people who can do it fast, do it well, and make it look superb.  I'm thrilled with how things look on day 2!  The walls and ceilings are looking smooooooth!  It makes me antsy to get my paws on a bucket of paint!

With no access to a stove today I headed out for breakfast and went for a bike ride.  Get a load of these gorgeous trees above me on my way back from Concord, MA!

On my way home I took a swing by the place I'm getting my granite from, Empire Marble and Granite, a remnant dealer in Somerville.  It's the same place I found a remnant for my bathroom and they offer a fantastic deal on the stone, templating, and install.  I wasn't absolutely positive about my selection the first time and wanted to take another look, but I've concluded it is the best choice since the piece is large enough to cover the counters, island, and pantry.

Here I am standing in front of the slab of stone...but the image doesn't reveal the true granite color, black.  I think I'd like it better if it was this gray mottled color...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

1 Week and Still Counting Down! (...7)

Today marks 1 more week left of the Ruskin Project.  I'm not sure if I should feel panic yet or not (see post #1).  I'm more low key than I thought I'd be at this point, but perhaps that's because I also feel like I've learned a lot and made some tangible progress toward my goal:  clueing into what I want to be doing.  I don't have an "answer" just yet, but I know that doing the projects I'm interested in doing out of shear instinct and trying some things that scare me are the two best ways to determining what will make me more satisfied in my work life.  I'm not convinced that reading books on the subject help all that much.  I think doing and testing and being active in real life help more.  But as I said, I don't have an answer yet.  More to come in the week ahead and beyond...