Rob and Clare and Dave and Ellen and Harold and Fran all arrived at the Spencer house property late in the day June 12, 2007 after a 7 hour trip from Ann Arbor. Clare did a wonderful job driving that big truck!
This picture shows the gravel driveway to the house looking away from the house.
This next picture shows the same view looking towards the house. You can see the gate, the main house the small house and, behind the trees the garage. We have arrived!
The six of us spent the rest of the week unpacking the truck, fixing up the main house, and having some fun along the way.
Fran and Harold were in charge of cleaning the kitchen. Here Fran scrubs down the old refrigerator which will be used for storage since it doesn’t work.
Harold put his efforts into cleaning the stove. Is it clean enough?
Ellen ripped off the wallpaper in the alcove where the new refrigerator will go – only to find MOLD!
So, Rob took down the the old, moldy drywall …
… and Clare and Dave put up new green drywall. Harold will apply a couple of layers of drywall mud before the week is over.
By Sunday June 17 the kitchen was ready for cooking. Rob made pancakes for breakfast and a rice dish for supper. Delicious as usual.
One of the highlights of the week was attending a Hog Roast/Pitch-in at the Fender’s home. This is the hog that Louie Fender roasted. He makes his own special sauce to go with the delicious meat. The neighbors brought their specialties for a potluck dinner.
At the end of the week the six of us posed for this picture. It was a week of work, of fun and of creating many memories. Harold and Fran learned a lot about the history of the house(s) and Clare’s family and their friends. If we look tired, well – we were. But it was still a great week. One we will remember for many years.
The two sets of parents left on Monday, June 18. Now Rob and Clare can put their own touches on this special home.
The three of us worked pretty hard for five days, and had a lot to show for it. It was time for Harold and Rob to head back to Michigan — Harold to his golf games and unstained doors, Rob to his dissertation revisions and mounds of e-mail. Dave is staying a whole week yet, during which time he will work a bit more on the long TODO list.
Today Rob woke up right around 7:00 a.m., and started making coffee. Dave joined me just a few minutes later, and Rob woke up Harold once the coffee was done. We ate a little breakfast, discussed our plan of attack for the day, and got to work. Harold put the second coat of paint in the bathroom and on the blue room, while Dave and Rob worked on the foyer. Originally the plan was just to paint the upstairs, but we thought we had enough ginger paint leftover to paint the foyer, and thought that it would be nice to get that done. We decided to not paint the ceiling, as we didn’t think we had enough paint for that, and it didn’t look too bad. After clearing out the room and doing a little sanding, we washed the walls, then started painting. Since there was much more trimwork to be done in the foyer than was the case for upstairs, Dave and Rob spent most of the time brushing, and switched off rolling. Rob enjoyed that, because Rob had mostly been rolling, so it was a good opportunity for me to practice trimming. It is not really that hard. It just takes a steady hand, some patience, a wet rag to clean up areas where you mess up, and some experience.
Around 9:00 a.m. Lewis and Angie Fender stopped by for a few minutes to say hello and check on our progress. Angie gave us her approval of the paint colors we chose, and also invited us over for some lunch. Dave and Rob finished the walls in the foyer shortly after 11:00, and Harold finished the bathroom shortly after 11:30. We cleaned up a little bit, then headed over to the Fenders. We also decided that the ceiling in the foyer did need a fresh coat of paint, so we decided to buy a gallon of ceiling white paint after lunch.
We arrived at the Fenders right about on time, but Angie was still working on lunch, and Lewis was not to be found, so Angie told us to go find him. We looked for him in the meat shop, but it turns out he was in the wood shop, working on a rolling pin. Lewis has a real knack with woodworking, and many other crafty things. The Fenders have many hobbies! After showing us around the wood shop a bit, we headed back to the house, where Angie had prepared a great spread. After we finished lunch at the Fenders we headed to Walmart, where we found about half of the items on our list, as is usual. It was good that we had plenty of the Dutch Boy paint, because they did not carry it at all at this Walmart; they only had the cheaper ColorPlace paint. But we just needed ceiling white, so it was not a big deal.
When we got back to the house we went straight back to work. Dave started painting the closet shelves for the bedroom in ginger, and Rob and Harold painted the ceiling foyer white. We definitely could tell a difference in the quality of the paint, but it was good enough. We got done with the ceiling around 4:45, at which point we took a short break for a beer, then we put a second coat of ginger on the walls in the foyer, since the paint supposedly dried fully in 4 hours. By the time we were finished with that it was dinner time again, and Rob suggested going to the China Wok. Somewhat to Rob’s surprise, they had tofu there, which means that the Chinese restaurants in Trenton, Michigan are way behind the times. The food was actually very good — reasonably priced, not too greasy, and not overcooked. The only disappointing part about the China Wok is that they gave us styrofoam cups and plasticware. In the future, we will have to remember that it is better to get takeout.
Upon looking in the fridge when we got home there were 3 beers calling our names, so we decided to polish them off. While we were chatting, Rob got the great idea to see if the dishwasher worked, so we turned it on, and watched the dishwasher run. What an exciting evening! It turns out that the dishwasher works, but that it leaks a little bit, so we might have to look into buying a replacement door for it. Good to know now rather than later. We finally turned in for the night around 10:30, after yet another productive day.
Today Harold won the contest for waking up first, around 6:15, and made some coffee. Rob and Dave got up around 6:30. After a little coffee and a bite to eat, we started work around 7:30. Harold started off with the ceiling in the bathroom, which got a coat of ginger paint, then he painted the one blue wall in the bedroom while the bathroom ceiling was drying, and then he could paint the bathroom walls blue. Meanwhile, in the living room, Dave and Rob were putting a second coat of paint on the walls. We all decided that the ceiling did not need a second coat, which saved both time and neck strain. We worked pretty much straight through until lunch.
After lunch we had a few social obligations, so we stopped by the Harrimans to say hello. Actually, we stopped by the Carpet Barn first, because Rob remembered that they close at 3 p.m. on Saturdays. We reminded them that they would need to bring new tack strip when they install the carpet, because the old tackstrip was laid right next to the drywall, instead of leaving room for the baseboards, because the baseboards were installed quite awhile after the carpeting. On our way to the carpet barn, we passed the Harrimans’ new property, and saw some people working, but we did not stop. Instead, we went to their house, and talked awhile with Kathleen, who told us that Steve and William were indeed the ones we saw at the property. So we went back there, and they had left. Oh well.
While we were out we decided to go into town and do a little grocery shopping. We got the makings for rice and beans for dinner, and some more bread for lunch the next day. Then we went back to the house, and looked for a few small things to do to round out the day. The day before we had determined that the venerable chest freezer no longer worked. So we decided to start putting things that didn’t work into the garage, for trash pickup at some point. The freezer was quite tricky to get out of its spot, since the bricks upon which the cookstove sits partially block the opening. After a bit of muscling, we got it out, then used the old dilapidated dolly to get it out the door, and finally pushed it across the lawn to the garage. Afterwards we moved the dryer as well, which was not quite as heavy. We actually did not test the dryer to see if it worked, but it didn’t seem to be in great shape, so we probably made the right choice. Clare and Rob are looking forward to getting a new, high efficiency washer and dryer.
At some point after moving heavy stuff Clare called from Europe, which was a very nice surprise. We talked a bit, and Clare gave her two cents on several decisions about the house, which was good. Meanwhile, Dave decided to do a little mowing, and Rob decided to try to plant some grass seed in the front lawn where there were some bare spots. It had been raining quite a bit for several days, so it seemed like a good time to plant grass seed, but as luck would have it, the next couple days were relatively dry! Dave must have sensed Rob’s eagerness to try out the riding lawn mower, so after a short while Dave offered Rob a turn. It was the first time for Rob using a riding lawn mower, and at first it seemed complicated, with several different levers and pedals and such, but it turns out to be rather easy. Rob mowed the rest of the front lawn, then did a bit more by the garage and down by the garden plot, which Dave and Rob covered with plastic earlier, to kill the grass.
While Dave and Rob were working outside, Harold was taking care some of the finishing touches inside, like cleaning the heating duct covers and the ceiling fans. He really got them looking like new. By this time it was starting to get to be dinner time, so Rob started cooking up the rice and beans. Almost immediately it dawned on him that he had forgotten to buy cooking oil, and that he had not brought a wooden spoon for stirring the pan. As we had learned on Thursday, the Snow Lion does not use cooking oil, so Rob decided to take their advice and sauté with just a little water. To his surprise, it worked out very well. It did take quite awhile to cook, since Rob had purchased brown rice, but it was worth the wait, and we had beer to drink while we were waiting for the food to get done.
After dinner we were still itching to get a few things done, so we spent awhile putting the outlet cover and switch plates back on the walls, or at least as many as we could find, and on the walls which were already dry. Eventually we decided to call it a day, and have one more beer before we went to bed around 10:00 p.m.
Today we all slept in a bit, waking up about 7:30 a.m. We did our normal coffee and quick bite routine, then got to work. This may have been the hardest day. Harold and Rob started out putting a second coat of paint on the bedroom, while Dave finished cleaning the walls in the livingroom. Once Dave was finished with that, he helped Harold and Rob finish the second coat in the bedroom. By this time it was almost lunchtime, so we stopped to have a little bite to eat, and were surprised to hear Kathleen Harriman come through the door. She met Harold, and then we showed her the work we had been doing. After a bit more chatting and eating, we got back to work.
The livingroom has a slanted ceiling, which ranges from about 6 1/2 feet at its lowest to about 11 feet tall at its highest, and it also extends over the stairwell. This was certainly the biggest surface that we covered with paint. Fortunately, it was also in fairly good shape, and the previous color was very similar to the “ginger” (beige) color we were putting on, so we ended up just doing one coat. It took us about 2 hours to finish the ceiling, after which we took a short beer break before moving on to the walls. After the beer break Dave decided to fiddle around with the riding mower a little bit, and with good timing, for Vick Greenwell, the next door neighbor, stopped by just shortly thereafter. Dave had bought the riding mower from Vick, so when the mower would not go into gear, he asked Vick if he knew a trick. Indeed he did. It turned out to simply be a belt that had slipped off, but it was quite tricky to get to the belt. After they fixed the mower, Dave and Vick came inside, and Harold and Rob got the chance to meet Vick. He is quite a talker. It seems like he will be a good neighbor, and he seemed to be pleased about having new neighbors as well.
We finally finished the first coat in the livingroom around 6:15, then decided to go to the Pizza Pantry for dinner. Rob had saved up a cheese meal, and it was worth it. The pizza was nice and saucy, a bit sweet, and was not too greasy. After filling our bellies, we returned to the house for a Manhattan before retiring around 10:00 p.m.
Unexpectedly, Rob was the first the one to arise, around 7:15. The first order of the day was obviously to make coffee, which Rob did, using the french press coffee maker we had left when Clare and Rob came down two weeks ago. Either the noise Rob made in the kitchen or the smell of coffee soon aroused Dave and Harold, who joined me for a brief breakfast, and then we got to work. We still had a bit of sanding to do, and then we washed all the walls in the bedroom and the livingroom. After we finished washing the walls in the bedroom, we decided to take a short coffee break, around 10:00 a.m. After the break, Harold and Rob started painting the bedroom while Dave continued washing the walls in the livingroom. Harold focused on trimming around doors and windows while Rob did the rolling. After finishing the washing of the walls, Dave helped us finish the bedroom by about 1:15, at which point we had some lunch and took showers, to get ready for our trip to Bloomington.
We were ready to leave for Bloomington a bit earlier than necessary so we decided to stop by the Duling insurance agency to say hello to Angie Fender. We only chatted for a few minutes, then headed on to Bloomington. As one would expect of the Feltys, we got there a bit early, so we drove around a bit to kill some time, and Dave showed Rob and Harold a few sights. Dave and Harold toured campus a bit while Rob met with David Pisoni, the professor for whom he is working at IU. Rob finally set a start date of July 1st, and Pisoni gave him a couple books to read. After meeting back up, Rob was surprised when Harold gave him a gift from the IU book store — a home improvement book. Surely, Clare and Rob will get lots of use out of it in their new adventure!
The next stop was the Big Red Liquor store, where we stocked up on beer and Manhattan makings. Then we went across the street to the Copper Cup, where Rob could check his e-mail, and was pleased to read that Clare had arrived safely in Europe. The next stop was the Snow Lion for some dinner. It is hard to imagine a trip to Bloomington without a stop at the Snow Lion. Rob ventured out for once, and tried the Cajun vegetables, which were very tasty. We also learned that the Snow Lion does not use cooking oil, but rather stir-frys using only water.
After filling our bellies, we headed off to Target, and then Bloomington Hardware to pick up a few things on our ever-expanding list. We were not able to find everything we wanted, but none of us like shopping, so we decided to call it a night. We headed back to Spencer, and ended the night with some stiff Manhattans that Harold mixed up. rob rolls paint
Clare and Rob went down to the house for a weekend in April, and met Dave and Ellen there. Our main goal for that weekend was to make some assessments of the state of the house, and decide on our plan of attack. From that weekend, we decided to try to finish the upstairs before we move in, then work on the downstairs a little at a time after we had moved in. We picked out some new carpet while we were there, and then decided that we should paint before the carpet arrived. Dave decided to quit his job at the end of April and go down to Spencer for two weeks in May to do some work on the house. Harold had volunteered to help paint, so Rob decided to take him up on his offer, and they scheduled May 2nd-7th for painting in Spencer.
Uncharacteristically, Harold showed up nearly 30 minutes late to the house. We packed up the car full of painting supplies, a small refrigerator, some utility shelves, a microwave, and a few other odds and ends, then set out for Spencer around 10:30. We ate in the car, and the driving was pretty good, though it did rain a little bit. We pulled up to the Spencer house around 4:30 p.m., making the trip in the approximaely six hours, as predicted. As we approached the house, Rob heard the sound of sanding.
Sure enough, Dave was busy sanding down spackle upstairs. First Harold was given a brief tour of the house, then it was decided that we would sand and spackle for another few hours. During this time Rob tried to convince Dave and Harold to yootle over what to have for dinner, but unfortunately Harold was not very cooperative. We ended up going to the grocery store for a few odds and ends. Harold got a microwave meal for dinner, and Dave and Rob had left-over Indian food which Clare had made before she left for Europe. We also got some beer, and enjoyed our dinner and had some nice conversation. Harold was absolutely astounded at what bad shape the house was in. Rob tried to get him to focus on the present, not on the past. We got to bed around 11:00 p.m. Originally, Rob thought that he and Harold could share a bedroom, but once he started snoring, that idea quickly faded. Rob moved his sleeping bag and pad upstairs, which he apparently did not notice until the next morning.
Welcome to our new house blog. Clare and Rob FeDibblety will soon be moving into the house built by Dave and Ellen Dibble, and in which Clare spent her childhood. The house has been rented out for about 10 years now, and needs quite a bit of love and care put back into it. Clare and Rob have taken up the challenge to do so. We hope to document our experiences repairing and improving the house, as well as the many experiments we are bound to try, for example in the garden. At the least, we hope to document our experiences for our own pleasure in the future, and at the best, perhaps some one else may benefit from reading about our experiences.