The Campsie Project

An account of the renovation of The Neglected House on the Wonderful Street in Wonderful Downtown Lexington, Kentucky.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Campsie Project comes ALIVE! (and nobody dies)

It seemed kind of surreal, I admit—

To have an orange electrical cord around my waist. To be tucked along side the peak of my roof, one arm over, the rest of my body, nuzzling shingles down the other side. The electrical cord leading down the 45 degreed rooftop to Laura, who's juggling a drill and some boards. Also, it was dark outside.

And that was the crescendo to a grand day at Campsie. Unless, you count the wine, spaghetti squash, Mom's sauce, and stir-fried vegetables that followed somewhat later.

We've done some stuff, folks, we've done some stuff! The kitchen is somewhat dry-walled. There's electricity there, too. Why, I even shocked myself just this morning screwing in an outlet. In a sense, it was a relief to see that I could shock myself and it was no biggie. In another sense, OW! But back to our progress.

Laura knows nothing of fear or ignorance, it seems. And Lucy and I know a lot more about home repair and renovation than we could have ever hoped to have known w/o Saint Laura. Look out, folks! She hammers! She cuts! She electrifies! She drywalls! And she's just so darned sweet. And our house is becoming suh-weet thanks to her immeasurable contributions.


We've been working on the kitchen, as I mentioned. When I say "working," of course, I'm really saying "gutting and rebuilding from the studs up." Right? Right.

And we're getting there. Sure, the sink is still lying in the back yard, but it's in a new place in the backyard. Have I mentioned how heavy a cast-iron double sink is? Just try to imagine, I dare ya. I think it is, really quite possibly nearly as heavy as an upright piano. Nearly. Or maybe a Cooper Mini. Okay, maybe not.

So, after months (goodbye, holidays!) of sitting naked, the kitchen, as I said, is somewhat clad in drywall. A new column has been installed to keep the upstairs, well—upstairs. And in the basking in the new column-dom (this was last week), I retired to my office to monitor assorted computer things and became aware of a certain amount of grave pointing and murmuring followed by: "Mick, come here, we need to ask you something…" Uh-huh…

Laura's proposal was to take the chimney down. The goal of such an audacious endeavor was to free up about nine square feet of kitchen floor space, but a very valuable nine square feet. I could go on about how we considered this and that, and weighed the pros and cons (which, actually we did), but the fact is, if Laura says the chimney should come down, Lucy and I are prone to shrug our shoulders and take a deep breath and respond, "okay, we take the chimney down." All I ask is to be pointed in the right direction and handed the appropriate tools.

So, we're taking down the chimney. As in, in progress. And the upshot is that I spent the beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon on the roof with some goggles and a Nine Pound Hammer removing the chimney, brick by brick. It was easy, especially considering my childhood penchant for climbing old TV antennas. Once on the roof, I just leaned there and tapped bricks and then flung them to the ground, one by one. The difficulty, it turned out, lay in the ever-diminishing chimney, and the insuing issue of where to stand on the 45 degree pitched roof. Eventually, I was standing actually below the roof, in the resulting hole of former chimney-ness.

So far, so good, but daylight was fading—quickly—and we had a 3 x 3 hole in the roof. The patching of said hole was where Laura got into the action. I was getting kind of nervous and privately thinking "Okay, I've done MY part—let me inside, I've gotta pee!" Of course, when you've got a home-renovation wizard at your service gratis, you tend to hold it. And what with the sun going down and all…

So eventually it was determined—having sufficiently lowered the chimney, and (somewhat) sufficiently cleared away the flashing around the chimney—that I would take the top rope—okay, top electrical cord—position at the rooftop, while Laura took the rappelling position midway down. I mentioned it was dusk, I believe. Yes, it was dusk. She was hooked in, I was holding on. There was hammering. There was tar-papering. There was the cry of joy and the whimper of terror for each of us as we made our way (at different times) back up to the peak.

But the chimney (or what's left of it) is below the roof now! How amazing and strange! The next step is to continue disassembling it down below the kitchen floor. Easy, right? Riiiiight.

1 Comments:

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Lucy said...

Perhaps you're wondering why Laura does this stuff for free? She says lotsa folks have helped her over the years and she's only giving back. We've been charged with continuing the cycle so call us for your next work party!

 

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