Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Anniversary Memories

What a special day! While at times it seems Tom and I have been at the Cauldron forever at other times it seems only months. It's hard to imagine that as of today we've been caretakers of our building for a year. Time flies when you're having fun . . . or are too sore and tired to notice LOL Time also seems to warp our memories just a bit and I'd noticed recently a lack of appreciation for the work we've done; not only ourselves but with others. We've been back to the question of 'Are the apartments finished yet?' which has to be the most frustrating question we get. When people think of a remodeling job it's usually in terms of a good sized work crew, a crew of experts, and in a month or so the job's done. With our work crew of only two it takes considerably longer for even a small project and I think our supporters sometimes forget that. Us too. It's easy to see a perceived lack of progress when the chore list is miles long but you've only gone a few feet LOL Right on time along came the anniversary of the date we began this adventure and with it a great chance to change this perspective.

Yule is a big deal to me, being pagan, and it was easy to include the anniversary date in the excitement of the holiday season. I decided on a whim to have a party and mentioned it to Tom who seemed merely ok with the suggestion. As you might expect the plans grew from a small private celebration into an event and even Tom even got excited and saw it as a special day. I found myself putting together a slideshow of the progress of our work and even designing a special picture to decorate the party cake. Invitations went out, first to those who had been volunteering, then family and finally we were including those we'd been doing business with such as the crews down at Beltz Home Improvement and Ace Hardware LOL Of course you know the neighbors have all been curious so we added them to the list too. Cake progressed to cake and cookies, pizza and finally champaigne to toast our adventure with. Heck, we even had matching holiday plates and napkins! Since we spend most of our waking hours at the Cauldron I'd put up decorations and a tree earlier and these were a great background for the party. The building had bought 'presents' for Tom and I to open for Yule - a new saw for Tom and a paint set for me plus knee pads for both of us LOL Brandie and I usually exchange gifts for Yule so we decided to add our celebration to the anniversary party and the pile of gifts under the tree grew. Then Tom got into the act and the building bought more presents LOL This time it was a lovely wooden box for my office and a garden statue to spread happiness. The turn out was good, 10 or so people shared our celebration with us and given it was an afternoon event on a work day makes it even more special that they could arrange their schedules and join us.

As much fun as the celebration was - who doesn't like presents and cake? LOL - even more important was the shot of reality the party gave us. Or maybe perspective is a better word. After putting together the slideshow I was fascinated by watching it and remembering all the work of the past year. Even though nothing is really 'done' I'd look at the before shots and the pictures of where the given project was now and it was like the old cliche of night and day LOL When I showed Tom he seemed the same and we sat together through the entire show commenting and laughing about some of the earliest projects. Today at the party our guests were equally fascinated. Watching the slideshow it's easy to see how very far we really have come and what a great job we're doing. I'm not bragging or anything but considering we had no experience whatever with a project of this scale, had never worked together before and were admittedly clueless about the exact scope of the job we've done great. Knock wood but there have been no serious injuries (knock twice for that one!), we've kept on track budget-wise even with the surprises and we've never given up. Sure, there have been a string of vacation days for both of us, days when we just needed a complete break from even thinking about the Cauldron but we've always returned and chugged along. Happily too, which is a great thing in itself. While we've had our moments of temper and arguments they've been rare and we've survived them not only as working partners but as a couple. The work has been challenging both mentally and physically, especially physically LOL, and we haven't always been successful at the first try on a project but in the end we've found the solution and gotten it done. So yeah, we've done good, and sitting there today sharing the celebration put the focus on not how far we have yet to go but how far we've come and what a transformation it has been. And what memories it has made! LOL

Exactly a year ago at this time we were the owners of a very, VERY cold building that Tom soon nicknamed The Icebox and we stood in the dark shop space - we had no electricty - half excited, half panicking. Today we remembered weeks of trying to work bundled against the cold while Tom crawled between floors replacing and repairing gas lines and then water lines. The day he got the heat on is marked on the calendar and was a huge victory and celebration. Running water was great, hot water soon after was a dream and the day Tom got the plumbing working - Pot to Piss in Day - is one of our most laughed about milestones. Compared to those first freezing and uncertain months even the larger accomplishments like finishing the second story roof this fall and the most recent furnace work seem a bit in second place LOL Watching the pictures I remembered not only the backbreaking work up on the roof but the wonder of a ringside seat for the hot air balloon festival and and peace and expansive view found working up there. The shots I took so proudly of the beginning herb gardern bore no resemblance to the lush area it grew into over the summer. The much laughed about picture of Tom standing comfortable in one of the second story windows brought back additional memories and laughter. So, here we are, at Yule, the season of transformation and rebirth and we're ourselves are smack dab in the middle of celebrating just such an event. The Silver Cauldron was named for such, Cerridwen's Cauldron of transformation, and I scheduled the official closing on Yule on purpose. Good juju, as my friend Nick would say LOL What a great time for a reminder of the transformations we've accomplished at the building and also of what may be accomplished by all of us in just believing and trying. I think that makes for a pretty good Yule gift! = ) And I have to admit, it's gotten me a bit excited too wondering about the adventures ahead in the next year LOL Tom has finished the new furnace installation upstairs, an awesome and monumental process that you'll see pictures of next year, and has moved on to ductwork aka knocking into walls and ceilings. I've settled into a cozy workspace off the shop area and have been back at the restoration work in the entry and break room. Come January I'll update the progress this far and upload new pictures from the past few months. In the meantime we wish you a merry and blessed holiday season, and a prosperous new year!

The Cauldron Crew

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Roof Wth A View

There are some benefits to nasty jobs as this picture shows. Tom and I started the roofing project about the time of my last post about our bee hive experience. One of our first days working up there was over the weekend of the Findlay Balloon Fest and we were lucky enough to experience the fly over. You'll find more pictures of the ballons over in the photos section, btw. Notice too we really do have a pretty amazing view over Findlay and that's good as it's about all we've seen recently.

With roofing companies booked solid due to a spring hailstorm and labor at a premium we made the unwelcome decision to do the roof ourselves. Well, not exactly unwelcome as the savings would be great but Tom knew how hard a job it would be while I was just nervous about the height and someone getting hurt. Hurt. Now there's a word I'm becoming all too familiar with LOL If I had to describe our roof work in one word I think I'd be torn between agonizing and hysterical, seriously. It's hard, heavy, backbreaking work that literally just grinds you down. Also interesting and aggravating LOL There's between 1/2 and 1 inch of old roofing that needs to be pried up and hauled off to reach the original roof. Yep, original lumber and old square-headed nails. That was pretty neat to see. Nowadays when nothing at all seems to last it's amazing to see such old wood still hanging in there. For the most part LOL There's a few holes that have been patched with tin and one side that seems to have been replaced after a fire. The entire west third of the roof has 'plywood' instead of the older boards and the center third seems to have been added sometime after the east third. Either our building was two that were combined at one time or it was enlarged on two different occasions. We'll have to examine the rafters and such later for more clues, make that Tom will, I'm too much of a fraidy-cat about spiders to go near the attics or basement LOL Seeing the different layers of roof covering has also been interesting although also majorly aggravating. I would so love to tell some of the past 'roofers' a thing or two! The second picture in this post will give you a look at the different layers btw.

If you're Tom you slide the roofing shovel - a narrow bladed shovel with wide teeth - under the entire mess, shove it as far as you can and then push down to use a built-in wedge on the shovel back to lever the chunk up. Of course Tom's tall and has muscles while I've been sitting at a desk for more years than I'll admit. I have to pry up the top two layers of paper and then pull them off - a process that has left me on my fanny on more than one occasion - then remove the several layers of shingle by prying followed by cracking off the bottom layer of tar. Yep, tar! That's the guy I'd like to dig up and give a piece of my mind too! LOL The stuff is great when it's in the 50's or below, it just cracks right off the wood. Once the sun hits it though it gets just the slightest bit sticky and stubborn. And the dang stuff is heavy! When Tom and I are working together I get spoiled and only have to get the stuff off and Tom shovels it all into the truck two stories below. With the weather closing in though I've convinced Tom to let me work during the day and the combination of prying off the old roof and then carrying it to the edge and dropping it into the truck is kicking my fanny. Plus my aim isn't too good so I end up picking up a good part of it up a second time as I keep missing the truck LOL

To date, a month into the project, we're almost done with the second story and I'm seriously hoping not to be shoveling snow off the thing to finish it LOL To be fair we had our annual vacation during this same time and lost a bit over 2 weeks work. And it's not a job you can do in the rain although sometimes you have to. Twice we've been soaked down by showers while we worked to cover open roof. When we started we suffered under broiling sun while this past week I was shivering in ear muffs and hoodie. I'm guessing we're saving roughly $5000 per story doing the job ourselves, perhaps a bit more since there's been several areas needing new wood and repair. Surprisingly I'm holding up to the work pretty well although I wish I'd bought stock in Bayer aspirin before we started the project LOL I've had a few blisters, some pretty constant although the fabric self-sticking tape works pretty well to prevent such things. If you've got lots of shoveling coming up wrap the lower half of both thumbs with it. Back strain is pretty a daily companion and my wrist complains just a bit but there's also been the benefit of loosing a few pounds and getting rid of some excess jiggle - just in time for vacation too! Tom hasn't fared quite so well though and the heavy work on top of his physical job caused a flare up of tendonitis in his shoulder that required shots. Recently he's been bothered by a fairly serious as yet undiagnosed wrist problem which has really hampered him. Friday we worked most of the day putting down insulation and gluing the new rubber roof on a large section and much of the work was easier for me to do that to strain his wrist. I learned how to place the insulation board, space out the fasteners and even spread the glue although pulling the rubber into position is too heavy for me to manage. It was a long day but I think I made a pretty respectable roofer's assistant LOL

After all this though can ya believe the hard part is still to come? The first of many roof vents have been removed but there's still two chimney stacks to deal with plus the 'end' of the roof. We can't stack materials on the new rubber so finishing things off will require the insulation boards and any tools to be hauled up the ladder from the lower roof. With the vent and chimney stacks being removed it's also time to work on replacing the apartment heating systems. We plan to separate the heat sources so each apartment has it's own furnace and this will require new vents to be cut through and new furnaces to be installed during the roofing project. Nothing like adding a second budget busting project LOL

If you're interested in numbers the second story roof is approximately 50 foot by 50 foot, give or take. One section of the back extends out about 10 foot further for a bit over half the width of the roof so it's hard to guesstimate exactly. Materials for the second story have cost us between 3 and 4 thousand dollars and we'll need just a bit more to finish out the area that extends. That section also needs to be built up and leveled out to match the rest of the roof so we'll be buying lumber for that as needed. Usually I'm able to remove one section 50 foot long by about 7 foot wide at a time before the truck is full and a dump run is needed. That's anywhere between half and a full ton of stuff pried up, carried to the edge and dumped! The first story roof is about 2/3 the size of the upper story and has the same basic shape with one section lower and extending further out which will also need leveled out. I'd estimate the cost for materials on that to be about the same as while we'll need less rubber roofing we'll need flashing that we didn't need on the upper story. Estimates from local builders came in at $6000 for just laying new material, tear off and repair wasn't included, so you can see that while the job is difficult it's definitely worth it financially.

And, as I said earlier, the past month hasn't been all work and no play. We made our yearly pilgrimage to the Easy Rider Rodeo Finals down in Chillicothe for eight days of motorcycle events and parties. While there we caught up with long time 'Chilli' buddies, met a few new ones and generally spent the time eating, relaxing and thinking of anything but the roofing back at home LOL Those hot and sunny days at the rodeo seem a long way off now but overall I have to rate it as a great summer both at the Cauldron and away from it.

I've been asked a few times recently if I would take on the roofing project again or what I'd say to someone facing a similar task. Yeah, I think overall the roof has been a good experience although I could wish we'd begun earlier and not been so pushed for time. Tom and I have worked well together and learned to rely on each other just a bit more in the process and the learning and physical benefits have been many. To recommend it to someone else though, that I'm not too sure about LOL Any project of this size, especially one involving hard, physical labor tends to wear you down and it takes a lot of determination to stick with it. Starting and then deciding mid-stream to quit and hire it out could prove fatal budget-wise or drive a project/partnership past the proverbial last straw. For most people I wouldn't think the attempt would be worth those risks but then again, if you're into challenges or just plain crazy, as Tom and I have been called on more than one occasion, it just might be for you LOL

Hopefully our next post will contain pictures of a completed project and I'll be able to share our celebration of not having buckets catching water all over the place. It'll seem strange without the sound of dripping heard everywhere LOL Until then, if you're in the area be sure to look up and you'll likely see one if not both of us working roof-top = )

Friday, August 12, 2011

To Bee or Not To Bee

We have new tennants! Tom discovered them last night while mowing the backyard. We're not sure where they came from but he swears they weren't there last week when he mowed and I didn't see them earlier this week when I was at the back gate. Given the size of the hive they've been busy little bees LOL Tom's brother and sister-in-law, Jeff and Vicki, raise bees so next time they're in town hopefully they can tell us a bit about what's going on. We're also checking in the neighborhood as we do have at least one bee keeper nearby and it's possible they've had a hive run away. At this point all we really know is they're gentle and good natured and aren't even disturbed by the noise of the lawn mower. Still, we'll be leaving them alone and keeping our distance LOL There's two more shots over in the 'photo' section including a close up showing the amazing number of bees gathered on the comb. Provided they don't belong to someone else and Jeff can instruct us it might be nice to have a bit of honey from our own property provided it leaves them plenty for the winter. We'll keep you updated as to what happens with our new friends = )


Sunday, 8/14/2011

Tom's brother Jeff arrived last night to check out the hive. He confirmed they were honey bees and said it was likely they'd come from a hive that had grown too big and split off. Best estimate was around 2000 bees in the hive. We missed the collection but Jeff smoked them a bit and then carefully trimmed the hive away and placed it in a bee box then left the box under the lilac until late evening. From his report the bees were happy to be moved as they were surprisingly docile and he wasn't stung even once. Boxing the hive and then letting it set gives the bees a chance to return to their new 'home' and settle in before being moved to a new, safer location. I'd have loved to have kept the hive but future tennants and the insurance company likely wouldn't have been to happy about it. They'll be safe and secure over the winter with Jeff and Vicki's other hives = )

I can't wait to see what other surprises - of the good kind! - the Cauldron may have in store for us.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Updates All Around

Is summer flying by for anyone else? Is that just too universal of a question to even ask? LOL Things at the Cauldron have been moving along making for a hot and sweaty summer. At the same time we've also remembered to take time to enjoy the season and get out a bit. We started out the 'season' with the annual Christmas in July party hosted by friends Harry and Rory Galligher. Like the bike runs it's a bit different each year and this party was laid back and family style with plenty of great food contributed by all the party goers. New this year was a great band which I should likely mention here but I never did hear their name.

With Tom a bit burnt out replacing windows he turned his attention to replacing the front entry door while I continued the never-ending task of stripping and refinishing woodwork. There's pictures of each step of the way including an awesome job I did restoring a door frame and if I ever get a free moment I might even get them uploaded LOL We'll try for sometime in the next week but no promises there. We're both a bit tired of the constant tearing up and nothing put back together so I decided to spend some time in the east apartment living room closet. I think it was mostly to check out the color scheme but here this week, once Tom gets the molding installed, we'll actually have one 'space' complete. I find it hysterically funny that after almost 8 months of hard work the first part done will be a tiny closet ROFL We're only an army of two though and making good progress considering.

Our next 'vacation' was a trip to Wetzeland an annual biker swap meet held just outside Van Wert. It's a long weekend camping in a dusty field surrounded by parties, loud music, motorcycles and drunks. Surprisingly it's also really relaxing and we were able to spend time together lounging around camp as well as doing a bit of swimming. This years highlight was the performance by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Definitely an awesome moment listening to the crowd sing along to Freebird as the sun set over the pond.

It's good that our trip was relaxing as it will likely be the last bit of rest for the next several weeks. Due to an early summer hail storm there is not a roofing company to be found in the area and those willing to even schedule an estimate can charge way more than we're comfortable paying. So . . . guess who gets to learn the finer points of tearing off a roof and putting on a rubber roof? Yep, it ain't Tom, he already knows how LOL So far I have about 45 minutes to my credit, just enough to realize it's not going to be a lot of fun. I learned how to use the shovel to pry up the half inch layer of old roofing and spent some time hammering nails back down. For those of you who've never seen their naked roof believe me, it's not a pretty sight. I can understand now why the water just pours in downstairs LOL

Ya'll all know Murphy's Law too, don't ya? In this case it goes something like this. Day one of roofing Tom's up there by about 7:30am tearing off a four foot by 50 foot swath of roof and knocking down the old chimney. I got spared since we weren't supposed to be roofing and I had only flip flops and shorts. It was well after noon before I got him to quit and only then as he started to have cramps. He headed off to the local home improvement store to cool off and I headed home with plans to meet back up at the Cauldron later to cover the open roof. Have you figured out yet where this is going? LOL I'm home relaxing aka half asleep and suddenly I hear a huge growl of thunder and realize the western sky is dark and stormy and THE ROOF IS UNCOVERED! Have you ever seen a woman in an absolute panic? LOL I was slamming windows shut at home while I ran for keys and shoes and then raced to the building. I arrived just as the first drops began to fall and grabbed the only covering available, thin plastic painting covers. Armed with the covers and some pieces of wood I actually did a fairly decent job of getting the majority of the open space covered. It wasn't a lot of fun getting soaked or watching the lightening all around me or fighting the wind tugging at the plastic but it was kind of cool getting the job done. Luckily though Tom arrived just about then, muscled the roll of rubber sheeting into position and slickly rolled it right over the open area. Just as it stopped raining ROFLBO It couldn't have been more perfect or true to our style if planned LOL Soaked and grubby we loaded the rest of the soggy removed roofing into the pick up and called it quits for the night. AND, after a quick stop for dry clothes we headed immediately for the local steak house and hot food.

It's been an interesting and productive six weeks or so over all and I wish I could share more of the experience here. Unfortunately the combination of physical labor and summer temperatures leaves my good intentions snoozing on the couch LOL

We did have one low spot in this past few weeks - more like two separate ones. A nearby property that has sat vacant for some time was recently bought by the city. Since last year a vagrant has been living in a shed there unknown to most of the neighborhood. He was quiet and there were no problems with theft, trash, alcohol, drugs or anything. In it's wisdom the city decide to let the weeds grow and the landscaping die however decided to remove this harmless man. The sent a crew down to demolish his shed and haul his personal posessions to the dump. Yep, this is legal. He's technically a squatter on private property and his personal effects by law are considered to be abandon. Not right but it's the law. It also offended me and while I knew it wouldn't change anything I wanted the city administration to know my opinion. I made a circuit of four locations, each pointing the finger at the other, until I ended up back where I started. There my opinion was not listened to respectfully as should be due a resident who was being civil and polite. I was yelled at, treated as an idiot and ridiculed in front of other office personnel and visitors. Finding out the city cares more for it's rights than the rights of others and also that residents also can't have their opinions heard wasn't the best experience of the week. Anyone want to take a guess as to my vote on the next request for a tax increase? ROFL

Have a great August all!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Long Time no Blog

Gosh, talk about being behind! I swear if there were two of me I'd still be weeks overdue getting things done LOL Seem like a good general update is in order. During the last blog I told you about the in's and out's of the stripping operation. Having finished that chore - finally - I was looking forward to getting out of the bathroom and doing a 'fun' job. I started out working on paint choices for the downstairs room and entrance mostly to stay out of Tom's way upstairs. He started working on the new counters and cabinets in the east apartment bath and kitchen and also replacing some windows. Ugh! Talk about sticker shock with the window bill LOL We've got about 4 times the amount of windows in a standard house so take your cost for new windows and multiply times four! And that's just for the second story! In the updated pictures there's a photo of Tom installing the windows and you can see how he easily fits standing inside one of those windows. We're talking the size of doors here!

My work with the paint choices was a bit frustrating but nothing compared to Tom's tasks. The first window revealed tons of rot and a serious insect infestation. Other windows were better but most of them were all in need of replacement, both the inner and outer trim and the interior window framing. In the case of the first window we'll have to also re-sheet and coat the enterior due to rot. Average time for installing each window was a day; Tom's days start when he gets off work at 3:30 and run until 9pm or so. That's only for the window btw, not the making or installing the interior trim. He got half of the windows upstairs replaced, about one per room, before being burnt out and in need of R&R.

The paint was a snap by comparison LOL Tom had suggested tropical colors of some sort while I needed to keep the same color through the entry, stairway and landings and break room, all of which are different for the amount of light. I think I tried a dozen or so color chips before settling on four different test shades of blue. Thank goodness the home improvement stores now sell those little samples LOL Using the tropical idea I selected an historical shade that is a close match to a light Carribean blue. It's a bit too intense for me in the entry although everyone else likes it. I can't say as I got too much done in the actual way of painting though. About the time I started Tom decided to work on the apartment entry door so after one coat I've got that project on hold. There's sure to be repair needed on the walls after the new door is installed and there's no sense making it all nice, ripping it up and then doing it again.

Much of the work needed for the kitchen cabinets also got done. While Tom salvaged as much as possible from the old cabinets he still needed to make new fronts and all new drawers. Once things are all finished I'll have to get some close up shots of the window molding Tom's made as well as the floor molding and cabinetry. The man definitely knows his way around the woodworking tools! With the amazing job he's done on the walls and trim I hated even more the idea of only stripping the floor molding downstairs. It just didn't seem to do the building or quality of his work justice so . . . I'm back to stripping LOL Not quite such a bad job this time, lots easier to strip varnish off woodwork that layers of paint off walls. On the other hand I've discovered more of what we term the 'green paint from hell'. This is the first coat of paint at the bottom of much of the woodwork and it defies removal. It takes at least 6 coats of stripper with each sitting 30 to 45 minutes to begin to get it off. We talked to our friend Walt, a local antiques dealer and restorer and he said it was milk paint. Then he laughed evily LOL The stuff wears like iron! So far I have the floor molding and one entire doorway stripped down in the entry and stairway, the hardware stripped and ready to enamel and the transom window rebuilt. We'll be leaving the built in cupboard finish alone since it's in great shape. Matching the colors was another learning experience LOL

We have the original wood removed of finish, replacement wood we estimate was installed 50 or so years ago also removed of finish and two different varieties of new pine that Tom is using. The color we're matching is a red oak/red mahogany mix. Using that color stain on the original wood results in a perfect match while on the replacement wood and new wood the color comes out dark walnut. Two days and about 20 stain tests later - six different colors of stain! - I determined it will all match provided I stain all but the original wood bright red and then recoat with the red oak/red mahogany mix followed by a second coat of the bright red. That will all be followed by several coats of a brush on laquer. Given the labor involved I'm doing the public areas first and then later, once the apartments are up and running, I'll strip and refinish the wood in the break room and offices.

Outside things are really looking nice. The update pictures have some shots of the new herb garden I planted. Also you'll find a picture of my new nemisis poison ivy. Back in the day I was terribly sensitive to it but over the years I either was lucky enough to avoid it or never got a serious rash. Not so this year! The old garden was polluted with it and even being cautious I got an awful case. Tom's taken on the job of getting rid of it all and has been making progress although the stuff is terribly difficult to kill. We also discovered it has actually infested the yard itself so for the past week or so I've been banned from working outside. We'll keep up with the spraying but given the severity of the rash I got this year I may lobby to have the yard professionally sprayed.

Away from the Cauldron we've managed to carve a bit of time off and find time for fun and relaxing. The motor home is finally ready to roll and we're hoping for a shake down trip next weekend. Bike nights are in full swing and we've been able to catch up with some of our party buddies. This past weekend was Harry and Rory's benefit for Cancer Patient Services - a great time for a good cause. If you missed it be sure to put it on your schedule for next year; great people, some of the best bands in the area, tricycle races and grilled burgers and weenies. Biggest summer news so far is we have our Gold Rush passes for the Chillicothe rodeo and we're by-passing Wetzeland this year. It's a bummer missing Wetzel, we had planned on this being our last trip and having a blow out time, but they've doubled the camping rates for vehicles to try and weed out the non-biking crowd. It's an admirable thought but doesn't do too much for us old bikers who can't pack it all in on the back of a motorcycle and sleep on the ground. With Wetzel out we're hoping to head down to Eldora for the Kings Royal race and just as good a time.

Be sure to check out the pictures after you've read the catch up. I finally have all shots online and even organized. Amazing! LOL The most current progress shots are in the main folder viewable directly upon clicking. Pictures showing the complete progress may now be accessed by clicking the 'more folder's' option where you'll find them separated by area. Some even have captions to explain a bit more about the project.

Litha blessings and a happy summer to all!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Stripper Retires

After countless weeks and two and a half gallons of stripper I can finally report that the walls in the west bathroom are free of their layers of old paint. Saturday afternoon I scrapped off the last of the crud and cheerfully turned my stripping can and knife over to Tom for use on the woodwork. While the walls still need a bit of sanding and have definite character aka damage from years of use they are a beautiful color and grain that will look wonderful once refinished.

For those who ever contemplate such a task my first advice would be 'don't do it'! LOL If however, you're like us and choose to forge ahead here's a bit of what you can expect; the things the home improvement books and sites won't tell you. Stock up on pain relievers, paper towels, newspaper and old clothes. While stripping paint off walls would seem to be fairly straight forward it turns out to be murder on the back especially if you're working at it for several days and you'll be glad of those pain relievers. Many will suggest scrapping the disolved paint sludge into a can but we found it much easier and less messy to continuously clean the sludge off the scraper with a paper towel. Otherwise you tend to end up with a lot of gunk building up on the scraper that spreads back onto the wall. It's also important to keep as much of the stripping chemical and sludge off your gloves as possible and use of paper towels helps with this. Keep in mind that the sludge produced is extremely sticky and if allowed to build up on your gloves or scraper it will tear your gloves rather than come loose or worse, you'll end up with scraper, gloves and paper toweling stuck together in a wad.

Protecting the floors and anything else in the room is an absolute must. The stripping compound doesn't know the difference between old paint and say, your toilet seat, and can effectively melt both. It will eat through your flooring, countertop finish and anything else it falls on if allowed to sit more than a few seconds. And I do mean a few seconds there! I have seen it bleach out vinyl flooring in the short time it takes to cuss and climb down the ladder to clean up a spill LOL The sludge of melted paint and stripper isn't as bad for eating through things but it does stain and removal will damage the material it fell on. I found layers of the Sunday newspaper ads, the ones printed on slick and shiny paper, worked great for catching the inevitable globs of goo that slid down the wall or fell off the scraper. For this project I used approximately two and a half gallons of stripper, one and a half 12-packs of paper towels and almost a full box of rubber gloves. One of the best ideas I had was to pour the stripper solution into a clean, empty metal paint can - you can buy them at most home improvement stores - and I also stored the applicator brush in the can. For this job I used a 2-inch disposable brush and found it great for larger flat areas as well as detail work. Surprisingly enough the brush bristles didn't melt in the can.

Safety-wise you need to know that everything they tell you on the can of stripper is true. Many varieties are pretty nasty. We used Ace brand extra strength stripper after a single coat of lead abating stripper. The lead abating stripper was non-toxic and stabilized the lead but the rotten egg smell was very strong and took weeks to disapate. Because it works by breaking the bond between layers of paint it stopped working when it hit the lower layers which were old-fashioned oil based paint. Our second and third coats of stipper using the Ace brand worked much faster but I was surprised by the effects of the chemical. We all read the safety labels on products we use, or we should, but most of the time they're overkill - these warnings aren't! When they advise to work in small sections they're serious. Doing a section larger than approximately 4 foot by 4 foot will result in some serious reactions within a few hours. You can expect burning, streaming eyes, a sore throat and hoarse cough for a day or so even with good ventilation and safety gear. I found that two days of stripping followed by a day of being away from the fumes worked well. Contact of any kind between the stripper chemical and bare skin results in almost immediate burning and redness. If possible work near a source of running water or have a bucket of water near by. Rinsing the chemical off right away stops the burn immediately; the longer you delay the more chance of skin redness and irritation.

Remember also that the sludge from the melted paint is still paint, just disolved. If you get it on your clothing it is permanent in most all cases. It's possible to reduce the stain by immediately scrubbing the clothing with mineral spirits but the fumes and flamable nature of the mineral spirits makes this not such a good idea in general. Mineral spirits are also very caustic to the skin so if you try this form of removal make sure to remove the item of clothing first. I personally found that one out the hard way LOL For jeans and some types of boots/shoes you can use fine grained sandpaper to remove the dried sludge resulting in a very faint stain that blends in well. The sludge also tends to fall from the walls and ceilings so especially if you're working overhead wear fitted shirts buttoned up and head gear. Julie and I had a hysterical day weeks ago when a glob of sludge fell into my bra resulting in boob, bra, shirt and jacket being stuck together. The stuff gets everywhere so be warned! LOL If you are working in your home you also might want to set aside an old pair of shoes for use in that project only and take care to remove them before entering the rest of the house. We'd intended to replace the floor in the adjoining kitchen which is good since there's a permant track of stripper smudges now on the floor even with precautions.

Other than that, my last word on stipping is good luck, take your time and have patience - the job's worth it but it's a very long haul.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Legal Necessities

Now that Tom and I are a few months into renovations we decided the legal bits and pieces couldn't be ignored any more. In our world things like partnership agreements and financial documents aren't important but since the Cauldron is reality we had some missing i's that needed dotted and t's to cross. This week we had our first and surely not the last meeting with our accountant and attorney. I've worked with Randy Lishawa, the accountant, for years but this was Tom's first time meeting him; also both of us were meeting the recommended attorney, Scott Basinger, for the first time. The condensed version of the experience is that confusion ran rampant LOL While I've run a home business for several years it was small and didn't fall under many government or tax regulations. Not so the Cauldron. Expenses have to be categorized and some are a bit slippery. Take all the work Tom did on the gas lines and furnaces. That falls under the labels of 'repairs' and 'improvements' with the furnace parts going into the repairs column and the bits and pieces of line under improvements. Guess who will be having a ton of fun sorting through those receipts? The system seems a bit illogical to me based on common sense and daily living. Unless you purchase items by category such as all furnace parts separate from all gas line parts you've got a terrible task ahead in separating your purchase into the different parts. And what about the sales tax? LOL Do I divide it up based upon the dollar cost or what? Since the accountant has repeatedly reminded me of his rate per hour and how much it would cost for him to figure all that out I made an investment in Quicken this week and added Bookkeeping 101 to my summer schedule.

Meeting with the attorney was interesting since we were also pretty clueless there. I'd investigated tax ID numbers, apparently called an EIN for us, but found multiple answers. Some sources said we needed one while others said since we didn't have income we weren't eligible. Guess what, income or not the government still wants it's share and we need one LOL We also apparently need protection from each other or at least to quiet those who think we do so we're having a formal partnership agreement drawn up. Then we're forming a LLC which I think stands for Limited Liability Company which seems to be a fancy title for something that keeps our personal stuff safe from our business risks. If something bad happens at the Cauldron only the company is responsible and Tom and I can't loose our personal possessions. I'm thinking that's a pretty good idea LOL It's a bit like knocking over a line of dominoes though as 'progress' in the legal area means lots of changes elsewhere. Once the LLC is formed, filed or whatever we'll need to have changes made to our insurance where btw, we're already having trouble. The insurance company intends to raise our rates since they consider the building vacant and therefore more at risk. That's also lacking a bit on the common sense and logic end LOL I work from 9-ish in the morning to 4 or so at least 5 days a week, usually a half day on the 6th day. Tom is there from 3 or 4'o'clock to 9 or 10 at night every night but two. The dang building is hardly ever alone so how can it be vacant? LOL Luckily that's a battle for Tom to fight. I have enough to deal with setting up the books and dealing with the changes the LLC will bring. One of which, getting a completely separate bank account, will be cause for definite celebration.

The good news in all this is that we are making progress being safe and financially smart, the attorney turned out to be a good choice and - big woo hoo here - my office is set up! While Mr. Basinger seemed a bit too serious for us at first he had the good taste to fall in love with the Cauldron. Remember though, him being too serious for us isn't necessarily bad on his part but more a reflection on us. I've been watching too many Jurassic Park reruns as upon entering the office and greeting Randy Lishawa my first instinct was to turn to the attorney and say 'oh, this must be the blood-sucking attorney' ROFL Luckily my brain was faster than my mouth on this occasion. We also received a great tip from Mr. Basinger regarding our search for the history of the Cauldron. He's on board with our hoping for some historical grants and suggested a specific person here in Findlay who could likely advise us of much of the building's history. We might even find a few surprises but I'll save those for a later post if it's confirmed.

Even with the dull task of bookkeeping ahead of me I'm looking forward to spending warm summer afternoons in the office adding up figures. While the new desk wasn't what I wanted it turned out to be what was needed and it fits perfectly in the space and goes well with the design of the building. I moved a few comfort items in - crystals, a few gifts from bff Amy - set up a bit of an altar and stock one shelf with a basic selection of witch craft books. Just like home! The large windows will let in plenty of air and light and once the walls are painted (a very pale pink) it will look wonderful and even professional. Heck, there's a business card holder even!

Renovations also progressed well this week. The east kitchen walls are primed and Tom is working on replacing the windows there and in the east bath. Once that's done, and if Ohio ever dries out, I can do the needed repairs to the outside of the building where leaks caused the stucco to rot. We got a bit more work done in the back but mostly were hampered by the constant rain this week. Paint stripping started out great and I'd hoped to finish up by the middle of the week but again the rain caused a delay due to the roof leaks there. There's just no space for a ladder among all the buckets catching drips and I'm not thrilled about being soaked while I work. And then, there's my visitor. Some of you know I'm terrified of spiders and given how long the building was empty it was only a matter of time before a few would appear. It did NOT have to be the grand daddy of all spiders though! Here I am, up on the ladder scraping the second coat of goo off and right along the top edge of the wall comes the largest, blackest spider I've seen in my life outside of a pet store! It's a wonder I didn't jump off the ladder and run screaming for the door LOL With a bad case of the shivers I kept one eye on the spider and one eye on the task and dutifully kept working and the spider stomped off. Yes, I mean stomped. This thing was so big it didn't even walk like a normal spider! Unfortunately it came back just as I was trying to finish the last bit near the floor. From that position I couldn't watch the spider and so I'd take a quick swipe with the scraper and then jump back to check on his position. Can't say as I did a very good job of that last bit but at least I tried LOL Of course the spider was gone by the time Tom arrived and hasn't been seen since but that's worse than if he was still about. When last seen he was crouched in the corner directly above the commode so now I either have to wait to pee until I get home or crouch on the potty craning my neck to keep an eye above me in case he jumps out. Guess who bought bug bombs on her last trip to the store?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Catch Up

Gosh, I've been nagging myself to get an update posted but I didn't realize how fast time was passing! Tom and I have had our respective noses to the grindstone and I don't think either of us has come up for air in weeks LOL In many ways it seems there hasn't been a great deal to report on but in other ways so very much has changed. We're actually beginning to see some results of our efforts in the way the east apartment is shaping up. Not like we don't have miles to go yet but somehow having the kitchen re-walled and the bathroom painted is encouraging. Tom is doing his usual perfectionist job on the walls but even with bare wallboard and drywall mud it looks 500% better than when we started. Next week I'll likely be working priming and painting in there getting ready for window replacement and cabinetry.

With the walls coming along and paint going on I can see the color scheme I chose for the apartment coming together. Tom not so much but he's a tolerant man and since he doesn't have to live there he doesn't complain. Lucky for me, huh? For those curious the scheme is a neutral-ish pale green for the bath and kitchen, terracotta accents in the tile and sink back splashes and then a very soft and pale terracotta color for the living area walls. Think semi-Mexican color scheme LOL Did you notice also that I actually painted? As opposed to stripping walls? No, they're not done, not quite yet, but darn close. Another two or three days will finally see me done with chemicals and after a quick sanding I'll be free of the west bath for a bit. Trust me, you'll likely hear the celebration when I take that last scraper full of paint off LOL It's been a long haul and everyone has worked on the project. Even Brandie tried her hand at it last week and my brother called with great advice.

We were also treated to a few nice, sunny days in Ohio, a very few, and I used them to get the front bushes cleaned of trash and the backyard cleaned up from a few years of neglect. Our huge tree back there is wonderful but it's obviously been very busy this past winter shedding small limbs as well as leaves. The existing plants have begun to leaf out and I've identified peony and wild roses as well as a few bulbs in the future herb garden. Thanks to a sale on outdoor chairs we now have seating too = ) The seeds I started have sprouted and grown to the point where today I put a few into larger peat pots. Now on breaks I can sit in the new yard chairs and imagine the herbs and flowers growing around me in a few months.

Likely the biggest news, at least for me, is the beginnings of an office. Finally! Both Tom and I had hunted for a desk with no success. I'm thinking either my wish list or my budget was a bit off LOL I knew we needed two file drawers and I wanted at least two drawers for supplies, preferable a center drawer also. And I wanted it cheap and neither of those were going to happen at the same time. I could find lovely pedestal or executive desks but none for less than $500 which I termed a ridiculous price. Desks in our price range either didn't have the needed file drawers or were set up for computers with a drop down keyboard rest and CPU cabinet which we couldn't use. We haunted craigslist, EBay, the local newspaper and trading sites and came up empty handed or a day late on anything remotely workable. With paperwork piling up I gave up the search and bought a small desk which will work although is far from my dream desk. And I had to put it together! LOL THAT could serve as the subject of an entire post! To be honest though it wasn't too bad with careful reading of directions. I had one part break during assembly and one part arrive damaged so I'm waiting on replacements to assemble the final drawer but for the most part it's together and works. Just in time too! Next week we have an appointment with the accountant and attorney to begin our education on the business end of things. I've been reading some great books on landlording but we'll need a good team behind us to avoid trouble with regulations and paperwork.

I also need to report on Tom's water project although I still need to get the pictures uploaded for you to see. Our main waterline enters the building from the front and runs under one of the front display window with the main valve just in front of the window box. The access hole in the floor is maybe 2' x 2', maybe a bit more, not large though. And the main leaked, somewhere LOL With the weather thawing Tom got started repairing the leak and that required him to dig down several feet and then tunnel underneath the window towards the street. I didn't want to know the entire details but I believe he spent most of his time laying on his tummy using a shovel to dig the hole and then vacuuming the dirt out with the shop vac LOL It was a huge undertaking though and from the looks of it on a par with stripping paint for misery. It's too bad neither of us thought to have him do a tour with the video camera, it would have been great LOL No more leak though and tonight Tom hauled a load of stone in to fill up the hole in the front sidewalk. The water pressure is greatly improved and lots of gunk was flushed out of the pipes. With a lot of luck that will take care of any water issues = )

Doesn't seem like much for three weeks but based on simple tiredness and how sore we are I'm thinking we're working about as hard as we can LOL Between Tom's shoulder, my back and the general everyday aches and bruises I'm thinking the next update will come from a nice hot tub somewhere!

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I'm guessing the title of this post will get a bit of attention, at least until they see the picture LOL Yep, I'm still stuck in the bathroom stripping paint = ( Lucky Tom has moved on to demolishing the east kitchen and even starting to rebuild it and there I am with the sander buzzing away. I'm thinking this is truly the project from hell LOL And it all started out so innocently!

The bead board in the west bathroom truly is beautiful, at least what I've uncovered, and I know that it's worth saving. Just one piece to be used for repairs costs around $10 and is just soft pine, not the nice old heartwood we have. The job is kicking my fanny though. Since it's lead paint I chose to use a chemical stripper rather than the hazards of sanding. I got a big container of Lead Out by Re-Me-Diate and painted the stinky stuff on according to the directions. It worked pretty well and has the benefit of converting the lead to a non-toxic EPA safe form. Unfortunately it works by breaking the bond between paint layers and about three layers from bare wood it met old style oil paint and stopped working. Worse, it left a sticky, glue like layer that was impossible to scrape off and soon dried to the consistency of putty. I ordered another container, waited weeks for it to arrive and finally canceled. The company provided a refund with no trouble but at this point I think I'd rather have had the stripper LOL

Since the lead is now not a worry I decided to re-scrape the walls and then try sanding. The scraping took over a week which should have been my first clue. And it also ruined another knife which now makes three total for the project. The putty stuff builds up and is impossible to remove or wash off. The stuff doesn't even grind off! LOL This week I started sanding and was just positive things would go well. Hmm . . . back to that 'reality sucks' thing. Tom's Black & Decker sander didn't make a dent in the stuff and after one day poohed out with a bad switch. The new sander has more power, enough that I have trouble stopping it from dragging me around the room but it still doesn't remove the putty-like stuff. Seems more power isn't always good and what's happening now is the heat from the sander is just making things stickier. Today I spend a good five hours grinding away and managed to clean only a 2 by 3 foot section or so. Not a lot to show for how badly my wrists hurt LOL At this point less that one wall is done after a four day's work with the remaining surface way too rough and sticky to even consider painting and I'm fresh out of ideas. Tom's thinking maybe a flap wheel while I'm about ready to try one of those wire brush things. So far I'm still under budget compared to what it would have cost to just put up dry wall over the stuff but at the rate I'm burning sandpaper things are getting expensive fast. Ugh! So much for a good idea, huh? LOL Saturday new cauldron crew girl Mandy will be helping out and even bringing her own sander so silly me still has hope. In the meantime I'm taking a well deserved day off to recover. If anyone has suggestions for getting things moving along a bit better I'd love to hear them!

In the meantime our other projects have been going well. Tom's making good progress on the east kitchen and I conquered the hated slide show project so you can see pictures of our progress through the site instead of scrolling around the blog. Both Julie and Brandie made appearances this week; Julie primed the east bathroom and Brandie pitched in hand sanding the bit of progress I'd made with the walls. I also treated 'us girls' to goodies - Murano glass pendants that look like lovely spring flowers. We may be stiff, sore and grubby but at least we'll look cute! LOL Hopefully things will look better when I get back to the cauldron on Saturday but if not ya know where I'll be for the next few weeks LOL And btw, for those in the area, stop by and say 'hey' Saturday night up at Whiskey Venue. Big birthday party and both Blaming Alice and Diesel are playing!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Reality Bites!

Have you ever though you had a really good idea and then the actual situation, aka reality, sneaks up and bites you in the fanny? Welcome to our world! LOL I'm quickly finding out there's a big difference between what Tom and I want and think we're going to do at the cauldron and what actually happens. Case in point . . .

At the beginning (that would be when we were naive and not aching in every joint) we had great plans of cutting corners by using a lot of the original materials. "The walls are fine", we said. "This vanity will work great with a coat of paint." Uh huh, right. Reality set in and at the moment the place looks like Jericho after the walls came tumbling down LOL The first to go were the west bathroom walls which btw, I am still stripping. Long story short - the second batch of stripper never arrived so I'm reduced to hand scraping the years of gunk and dried first coat of stripper. At last estimate I figure it'll take another 3 days at least before I even think about sanding them. But hey, it keeps me out of trouble and I'm getting some nice definition in my upper arms LOL

With me hogging the bathroom (typical woman) Tom set to work in the east bath where we had also planned to keep the old wallboard. Well, he did, I wasn't so happy with it although I agreed it wasn't all that bad. Next thing I knew, down it came along with the vanity we had hoped to save. Just too much work needed to repair each and even after the work neither would look decent. Tom spent days putting up new drywall - the man is obsessive about muddling his joints LOL - while I juggled the decorating budget to make up for the extra expense. The juggling thing has actually been fun and led to my current project of painting tile. Being a bit of an overachiever it's not enough that I have to learn to cut and install tile but apparently now I think I also need to decorate with hand painted tiles on a shoestring budget. Seriously though, a Mexican color scheme just screams for those ornate painted tiles and they're like $5 each and up! And yeah, yeah, I know, it's just a rental but it's our rental and ya know already we're a bit different LOL

Between the scraping during the day and the tile painting at night Tom's been able to work in blissful peace without my chattering but it's maybe not such a good thing. It seems that as the evening goes along and weariness sets in one beer leads to another and a certain someone goes into destruct mode. First he peeked behind a wall in the east kitchen to repair a cupboard and didn't like what he saw. Then I opened my mouth and asked for the rest of the old bath wallboard to be removed from the connecting hall and before ya could blink the kitchen was naked down to it's lath! That was way cool! Not the mess, which Tom kindly cleaned up, or the work but all the discoveries. I'll admit to being a bit of a renovation geek and I enjoy peeling apart the old layers of wallpaper and poking around de-construction debris. Tearing off the old wallboard exposed a slew of different papers which were in fairly decent condition. We were even able to see a bit of the original paper although it's not likely we'll be able to save any. And Tom found the baseboard molding was still attached with the original square head nails! This is by far the oldest building I've worked on and those bits of history have been great to find. Later this summer it's going to be a fun puzzle to research the place and its beginnings and possibly even find some old photos. I think they'd be great to hang in the entrance way = )

During the few spring days we had recently, before the current round of ice and snow, I was even able to get a bit of work done outside. The sidewalk along the east side that had been buried under weeds and dirt is now clear and the back patio even got raked so we're not walking through muck and leaves. Rocking chairs for the front porch were purchased and assembled and are just waiting on Tom to install some anti-theft tethers and the return of spring and sunshine. I also braved my notoriously un-green thumb and planted Jiffy Pots with herb and flower seeds for the back yard. With luck, or perhaps replacements from the local nursery, we'll have a kitchen herb garden similar to what might have grown there originally as well as some old-time 4'o'clocks this summer. Heck, I'm thinking if I add a tomato and a few pepper plants we can even keep the tenants in fresh salsa - or us LOL

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Flood City USA

Have ya noticed a lag in the updates here? LOL That was some great weather we had locally the past few weeks. Tons of snow followed by one of our famous Findlay floods. Living on the river is one thing but we're starting the high water way too early in the year for comfort. Not like many of you haven't experienced the same thing for yourself even if you're not from our area. Just a nasty thing that leaves you nervously watching for raindrops for months after. The cauldron folk are blessed to be relatively free of water trouble though. Tom's basement situation improved with his addition of a back flow valve and the cauldron building gets water only in the basement. The picture above would be the view from the basement steps LOL I got swamped due to a sudden pump failure but no damage done and Brandie and Julie both stayed high and dry.

Most of the past two weeks has been spent shoveling and walking. First digging out and helping Tom shovel from the last snow then walking between our three places and the downtown area staring at the rising water. When the water receded the sun made a short appearance and we took advantage of the brief nice weather to haul out all the junk and construction debris that had piled up. Around a ton according to Tom! My part was loading up the truck which was a pretty interesting task considering quite a few of the pieces were bigger than I am LOL I learned also that it takes a pretty hefty person to break wallboard into pieces and that person wouldn't be me. I have the bruises to prove it too! I swear we need to install cameras around the place for comic relief. Here I am, trying to break this sheet of wallboard that's like 10 foot by 4 foot and I've got it bent almost in half but the dang thing is fighting and bucking like a mule. I get the bright idea to climb on top of the thing and finally get it to snap in half and yep, I go crashing to the floor! I'm still limping a bit but the worst part is no one saw it to laugh over . . . or get pictures! I can't imagine my expression when I landed LOL

This week has also been a bit difficult. With Tom on a wall removing rampage we discovered the west bathroom still had the original bead board walls = ) Of course I wanted to save them and really, it's a good idea. It's all old wood and people would pay a fortune to be able to put it in their fancy homes. Tom wisely left me to the project and wandered off to tackle gutting the east bath while I researched lead paint removal. Scary stuff, huh? Luckily I found a great chemical stripper that is non-toxic and renders the lead into something safe. Here in a week or so I'll give ya a full report on the forum board for future reference. Those who have stripped paint chemically before will likely already be chuckling. Yeah, I'm dumb enough to attempt it on an entire room. Including the ceiling. Yeah, I'm regretting it but not really. It'll be worth it. And yeah again, Tom is kind of chuckling too and shaking his head. It goes something like this . . .

Saturday I mix up this huge bucket of goo, watery gray color and about the consistency of snot. It brushes on the walls pretty well but on Saturday it was also raining so while I'm smearing this stuff around it's also raining in the bathroom and dripping into three different buckets. Half way through the first wall the smell starts to become noticeable. This is one of those nice non-hazardous materials so the fumes aren't harmful and at the beginning only smell like rotten eggs. By wall two my throat was raw and even Tom was coughing in the other room LOL Still, I'm confident as the old paint is already beginning to bubble. I follow the directions and check the progress after five hours and then start removing it at 24 hours. Yeah. Right. You know that rubber stuff they use to glue gift cards and such onto paper with? The stuff you have to rub and pull forever to get off? Well, on Sunday I had four walls and a ceiling coated with stuff even stickier than that. No lie! I'm wearing rubber gloves and my hands are stuck to the paint scraper so tightly that the gloves tear when I try to release the scraper! LOL Nothing other than huge effort is moving that paint. I got about a third of one wall done before I was too tired to lift another arm and went home defeated to do some more research.

As it turns out we have a problem aka the situation isn't my fault = ) Some of you may remember when there was a compatibility issue between the oil based paints used years ago and latex paint when it first came out. The stripper I used works by breaking the bond between paint layers and since that compatibility issue caused no bond to form the stripper stopped working. It thought its job was done LOL The solution was to scrape off what I could and then apply a second coat. Luckily Tom's sister Julie had a few days off work and bad timing for offering to volunteer. She and I spent the past two days stripping in the bathroom together . . . hehehe Actually, we worked our fannies off but finally the first peeling is done, more or less. I also learned I should have blocked off the furnace duct as its constantly blowing heat on the ceiling caused the stripper to dry hard as a rock. Round two will come over the weekend when I try the second coat. I've got a picture of the stripping process so once the project is done you'll likely see it in a slide show LOL

The rest of this week will hopefully be a bit easier. Tom checked out the roof today and depending on the weather he may start repairs as early as next week. This Saturday, besides a benefit at the Whiskey Venue, we'll be taking a break from the renovations to check out floor and wall tile at the Home Depot in Bowling Green. That's seriously major excitement for me and I can't wait to get started putting things back together a bit. And it serves as a day off and a chance to unwind a bit together. Tom can actually see me clean and not reeking of sulfur for a change = ) Things are moving along well and getting more exciting although the arrival of spring begins a new dress code for the cauldron - umbrellas definitely needed LOL Beyond the three buckets in the only working bathroom there's a steady drip directly over the commode seat. The leak in the west kitchen is growing by leaps and bounds and tomorrow I'm looking for a kiddy wading pool to even try to cover the space. We've started the habit again of always checking the ceiling before entering a room given the state of things there and also water dripping into the downstairs break area. We're not a hard hat zone yet but if ya visit you'll need to be on your toes =)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Unearthing Surprises

Wow, long time no update! I could almost feel guilty if we hadn't been so busy LOL In some ways it seems like nothing has changed enough to report on but in other ways it seems everything has changed. My 'job' of cleaning really hasn't progressed all that much, only the single room at the top of the stairs added to the done list. Not that I was slacking off but that Tom has been so busy I've spent more time as his clean up crew than playing janitor. First it was a few boards here and there and then it became whole walls LOL Lots of discoveries along the way too!

In reorganizing the mechanics so each apartment has it's own water heater and furnace Tom has been working in a closet off the east apartment shuffling things and making room. The adjoining area is the west apartment is a strange out-of-place type area so one day he decided to investigate. Removing a full length mirror on one wall he discovered the wall behind the mirror to be pretty much missing. Possibly punched or kicked out, hard telling. Beyond the damage to the wall he also discovered a doorway! At some point in time there was a hallway type passage between what is now the kitchen/bath area of the two spaces. We're not sure what the original floor plan was and can't guess as to it's use but it's been great fun popping in and out of each place using the passage. With all the cubby-holes, passageways and places Tom's been getting into with his repairs I actually resorted to yelling 'MARCO!' one evening just to find him LOL

Another surprise we had recently was our first experience in considering crime and the cauldron perhaps being a victim. A misplaced set of keys led to a flurry of lock changing and pointed out some glaring lapses in security on our part. While the keys were found safe and secure I got my own taste of being a victim at the same time. In my hurry to get to the cauldron and help with the lost key issue I neglected to make sure my front door was closed tightly and gave a thief the opportunity he was looking for. Luckily the loss was no more than my iPod and a few dollars but it was scary and unsettling and left me feeling both angry and foolish. Valuable lessons learned in both cases though and likely worth far more than any material loss. If any readers stop by for a visit to the cauldron though you'll now find you need to knock on the door and wait for it to be unlocked rather than just walk in (wink).

Our latest surprise came while Tom was working on the new bathroom fixtures in the east apartment. If you haven't noticed from the pictures both bathrooms and kitchens have decorative wall paneling. These are printed boards, or in some cases shiny plastic, held up by plastic strips. Either through settling of the building or possibly an installation problem the boards don't meet each other or the trim work and they're terribly marked up and dirty. My immediate solution was to rip them all out but reality, budgets and Tom required them to be kept if possible. Turns out it's not possible . . . hehehe Being an old building there's not a scrap of insulation in the walls and apparently Tom found damage or problems that need to be addressed behind the wall board so it all needs to go. That's actually probably the best news I've received so far this week LOL Not just in my wanting to get rid of the old stuff and the increase in cost isn't welcome but being able to insulate, especially in the bath, and having decent walls that are easy to maintain is really fortunate. At least in my warped mind LOL Insulation leads to more comfortable and happy tenants with lower utility bills and a happier me paying the bills until the place is occupied. And the maintenance thing is a huge plus!

I might be naive, probably am, but my thought is if we start out with something looking nice and we keep it nice that will encourage our tenants to do the same. I mean, if you rent an apartment and the walls are marred up, stained and all what exactly is the incentive to not cause further damage and dirt? LOL It seems logical that if a tenant is presented with a place where it is obvious that effort has been put into upkeep they will be encouraged to take pride in keeping it nice. Ok, quit laughing LOL I can just imagine the comments I'll get from experienced landlords out there! It's the pagan-ish way though - expect the best from people and you'll often get it. We'll see in the future how reality treats that belief . . .

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Pot to Piss In

It's been awhile between updates and we've made a ton of progress since the last post. We did go out that Saturday and had even more reason to celebrate. Finally, after many long hours Tom had the plumbing replaced enough to provide a working commode. He also surprised me with the news that he'd hooked up one of the old water heaters so we even had warm water for scrubbing! I think we were a bit giddy as we stayed out way too late acting silly and guzzling beers. Sorry to say I forgot the camera. Instead I've decided to treat you to a glimpse of Tom's world. The new slide show has some of the tangle of pipes he's been sorting through, views of the area between floors he crawls around in and even a few shots of the scary basement with it's assorted 'treasures'. Luckily this is as close as you and I will ever get to these places LOL

With water available the scrubbing began, first in the downstairs space we call the break room and offices. The camera-shy Julie and I spent days vanquishing cobwebs, washing down woodwork and driving out years of dust and dirt. The place fairly shines now! Of course we also added a few female touches - snacks, scented candles and crystals - and we did a bit of shifting of the furniture. A few bar stools from WalMart and some elbow grease turned the beat up counter into a great bar style seating area while moving the sofa across from the gas heater provided a cozy place to relax and watch the flames. Just ask Tom. The day after we'd finished the room he treated himself to a two hour nap on the couch! LOL

The huge snowstorm that hit most of us held progress up for a bit and brought more piles of snow as well as a short bout with frozen pipes but no real issues. Good thing since the plumbing work looks as if it will continue for awhile. At latest report we now have working plumbing in all areas of the west apartment but in the process lost almost all the fixtures. The showers all need replacing and to hear Tom tell it every drain in the place leaks. Well, almost every drain. There's one that doesn't leak but in that case the faucet leaks LOL Tomorrow's work crew will be busy carrying out the pieces of the gutted bathrooms. And yep, just in case you're wondering, the working toilet stayed. It'll be a bit lonesome in the bathroom until we get the other fixtures replaced but better a lonely commode than the bucket.

This past week we also began in earnest to make decisions on those areas where it's safe to begin renovation. Or at least not subject to water leaks and falling ceilings. The entrance hall will be the first to be redone and I'm finding the flooring issue to be frustrating. Not only don't we want to be typical landlords and use the cheapest materials possible but we both have unique styles and tastes and it doesn't seem this translates well. So far meetings with various flooring salesmen and installers have resulted in complete failure. Apparently the entire world is in love with ceramic tile, or at least the entire world except for us. Truthfully I'm really getting tired of being told what I should want or that I'm an idiot. Heads up flooring guys! Unless I'm making a bad choice for safety or durability reasons please keep your opinions to yourself. I'm the customer and if I want solid gold tiles that's my choice and it's your job to smile and nod and get the job done! Seriously, this is going to be a running theme during the renovation stage LOL

I'm not sure if it's just the natural arrogance of someone professional in their field or the fact that I'm a woman or what. I go to the home improvement store, explain carefully and with proper terms what I'm looking for and why only to be told I should want the exact opposite. And never a logical reason for their beliefs! The other night I got into a disagreement with a flooring expert over my desire for a slate floor in the entry. Tom and I ruled out sheet vinyl and vinyl tiles as being too easily damaged and hard to repair. I personally don't care for natural wood in an entry, especially a public one, as I find it hard to clean and very noisy. Carpet was also out for cleaning reasons leaving natural stone or ceramic tile as our remaining choices. While natural stone is more expensive to install it has the virtue of damage such as chips not being noticeable and well, it's natural. It's also cheaper than the fake stone look ceramics. But here's this expert, and I have no doubt that he is an expert, calling me an idiot over my choice! According to him ceramic is the only way to go for tile (of course, it's easier for him to install) and since this is ONLY a rental there's no sense putting in a nice floor to begin with (can we say slum lord?) And this is a man who's hoping to get my business? Calling me an idiot because I choose to remodel my building according to my taste and likes? ROFL

As it turned out though, he was right. I don't want slate. Not because of anything he said. Truthfully when asked why we didn't want slate he could give no reason at all. As a result of the disagreement though I felt insecure enough to double check my research and in the process I discovered what I truly wanted. Satillo Terra Cotta tile LOL As economical, durable and damage hiding as slate with the easy installation of ceramic tile and a natural product made in the same way as it's been done for centuries, by hand. The tie in with our interests though is what really did it for me. Tom and I have traveled to Mexico several times and I've long wanted to move there for the slower paced lifestyle and climate. To be able to incorporate a bit of ourselves and our interests into the building seems such a natural and wonderful thing that I'm not sure any other flooring would now work LOL We'll see though. We're finding out there's a lot of reality between us and some dreams and we have a long way to go before there's actually a new floor.

Friday, January 28, 2011


This past week has seen a great deal of progress with the cauldron. It's amazing how much easier it is to work when everything isn't covered with ice and bone cold! LOL With the help of Brandie and Tom's sister Julie we got the upstairs apartments broom swept and much of the water leak damage cleaned up and Brandie and I braved years of dust to clean the ceiling fans and lights in the shop area. I ended up replacing 20 light bulbs and only one of the fan lights works completely but it's a huge improvement over the single 100 watt bulb. Tom moved one of the refrigerators into our break area and after vacuuming and a few hours of scrubbing it's clean, running well and stocked with beer, water and soda. Life's necessities LOL I've also been treated to almost nightly updates from Tom as he continues to put in long hours getting the mechanics running and that's the topic for this week's entry.

We've all heard plenty about how men and women communicate differently; men being generally of few words while women prefer to chew a subject to death. One of the things I considered in starting this adventure was how we'd manage to not drive each other crazy and still be 'equal' partners in the decisions and stay informed. Email. And lots of notes LOL Take note here ladies, a short and to the point note works far better than all the nagging in the world! Besides, you always have proof against the ever present complaint of 'You never told me that!" But seriously, notes and email have done wonders for keeping the communication end relaxed. I can send Tom a few words such as "this is the tile I'd like for the entry" with a link to the site and he can read it when he pleases. If he's had a rough day and my chatter is the last thing he wants to hear it an email makes no noise and is easily ignored. His updates in return save me from asking an endless stream of questions trying to pry out answers while following him around the building like a lost puppy LOL And truthfully, the emails are hysterical and tell me everything I need to know about the progress and also Tom's mood. The latest, received tonight, is a good example and will update you on our current state of affairs.

welll more good news/bad news lol...good news....we have running water in the back room....bad news the drains don't drain so well....good news... we have hot running water in the back room..... bad news....the roof in the west apt is drippin purdy bad.. i put a bucket under the drip... gonna have to keep an eye on it so it don't over flow... good news...i temporarily have water to the west apt toilet....bad news... the seals leak and the guts look dry rotted......ohh and did i mention the drains don't drain so well?!?!? thinkin it might have backed up into the sink downs stairs that i just installed... well maybe whiskey hehehehe

Ya just gotta admire a guy who can laugh in the face of drains that hold water and ceilings that don't after spending the week working what amounts to a double shift - work AND building repair LOL Seems a reward is in order so as official Health, Safety and Comfort officer of The Silver Cauldron I'm taking Mr. Tom out to hear one of his favorite bands tomorrow night, Rock 'n Roll Outlaws. I might even buy him a shot or two ; ) Maybe you'll be lucky and I'll post a few pictures of the band. If you're near Findlay on Saturday evening stop by the Whiskey Venue for some good music and to congratulate us on not killing each other as we settle into our new roles.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Blessed heat!

Hey, hey, we are warm! At least in a few rooms. LOL Tom emailed last night that he had the heater going in our break area although when he had last checked he could still see his breath. This morning I went over to mess with the window coverings a bit and do some cleaning and hesitantly stuck my nose in the door of the living space adjacent to the store. It was warm! = ) If the heater hadn't been so dang dusty I swear I'd have hugged it! The majority of the building is iceberg cold but at least we can take a break and warm up occasionally. Much nicer than setting a space heater on the counter and huddling around it. LOL

Although Tom's success with the heat is by far the best news I had a bit of success myself in conquering the photo program for this blog. You'll find new shots up of the Cauldron including a few of the backyard taken before the snow arrived. The place looks bigger now that it's relatively clutter free although the cleaning is still in progress. I'm slowly working my way upstairs. One more room and the entire lower floor will be cleared of cobwebs and the worse of the dust, ready for a good wash whenever water arrives. There's quite a few pictures of the hall and stairs in this batch as that will be my first project once heat is on in the main area. The ceilings are free of water damage and hopefully are unlikely to get any. BFFs StarSnow and Brandie have been helping with the color scheme and getting the first impression right. As you can see, it's a narrow space, kind of chopped up, so we're keeping it simple; turquoise walls for Tom's tropical cravings, lighter tone ceiling with white trim and refinished natural woodwork. No way he's going to let me paint that trim! LOL I'm hoping for some sort of vinyl floor for easy cleaning, possibly a large black and white check. StarSnow bailed me out on the decorations by suggesting a few pictures of doorways; non-offensive, not to girl-y yet sort of symbolic, ya know? I've found some really nice things showing Mexican and Caribbean doors that will bring in our love of those areas yet not look weird when there's two foot of snow outside LOL

Outside of the building the blog has been picking up a few readers, most notable being the man himself, Tom. Apparently he was curious the other night, typed The Silver Cauldron, Findlay, Ohio into his browser and up we came. Now we'll have to watch what we say about him (wink) He appears to like the blog although gave the opinion that it needed sexier pictures. LOL I'm thinking warmer weather might help with that. All in all it was a great week for the cauldron between passing the gas company inspections and getting a bit of heat into the place. I think a day off is in order, maybe two. Have a few beers, watch the football games - go Steelers! - and see what it's like to have warm feet for a bit = )

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And then there was . . .

Gas! I have never been so happy to tell people I have gas in all my life! LOL After a successful inspection today we have a lovely gas meter, okay, so it's not so lovely but it works. I haven't yet seen it myself as I left prior to the inspector arriving but I'm likely to kiss it upon my next visit. As expected though, the arrival of gas does not necessarily result in heat. I noticed today that Tom had been busy with more than just the gas lines. I found a shower in the back junk room and a big hole in the floor where same shower previously sat. The water heater upstairs has also disappeared and every furnace in the place seemed dismantled. Can you believe it? Three furnaces and not a one of them working?

I'm not sure how long parts may take to get or when Tom might have things up and running. Truthfully I'm just tickled we got this far and I don't even want to shadow the celebration with questions. Knowing Tom though I'm pretty sure I'll be posting this weekend sometime with news of at least one operating furnace. We might have to huddle in a closed off room to take warm up breaks while working but it will still be wonderful progress. With not much other than cheer leading to do at this point I unwisely decided to tackle the snow shoveling this morning. Wow, now's there's a few problems to deal with! We had a nice fluffy snow overnight, maybe five inches or so, and so shoveling off the sidewalk to surprise Tom didn't seem like any big deal. Sherlock Holmes I ain't and instead of the expected fluffy coating I found eight inches of hard packed snow from the snow plow. I'd forgotten our sidewalk extends to the curb! Nothing against the plow drivers but anyone who's had to shovel out from their work knows how difficult and frustrating it is. And I had 50 foot to face! Their ears were likely burning LOL More interesting though was where to put the stuff? Now that might seem strange but we're all used to dealing with our homes, not a business. Here at home I just shove it off onto the lawn, something you don't have at a business. There's a narrow strip of bushes in front of the building but that area didn't hold much snow before it began to roll back down onto the sidewalk. Weird as it seems this is actually going to be a serious question; where exactly do we put the snow? LOL

The vacant lot next door seemed unwise as we park there and also, since we don't actually own the lot it seemed a bit rude to do, even if it is vacant. Likely the neighbors next door wouldn't mind if we piled some of it in their yard but that involves carrying it the length of the lot to dump each shovelful. Today I wimped out and for lack of anyplace better I piled it around one of the porch pillars. Not the greatest place but at least the sidewalk is clear and also the entry to the building. I'm thinking this might be something to discuss with Brian over at Beltz Home Services. They're our distant neighbors at the building and I've had Brian work on my house for years. Their lot and sidewalks were clean and neat this morning - I sighed over them wistfully - so hopefully he can hook us up with some snow removal help.

The whole snow issue came as a unexpected surprise actually. Tom and I had both acknowledged briefly that we'd need to deal with the snow and we'd talked about the 'some day' parking lot that would need plowed but never the actual mechanics. I never really thought before where the snow goes in business districts and never considered it here as so much of the area is residential. Those of you up north might want to keep that in mind if you're exploring similar adventures in business. If we get any really heavy snow at all there's a good chance we will actually have to pay to have it hauled off. Something to keep in mind for the budget ; )

It's still a great week though and a red letter day on the calendar! The day the cauldron got gas! LOL

Sunday, January 9, 2011

There's Dirt and Then . . .

Greetings from the Iceberg crew! That's what Tom is calling the building after failing yet another gas company inspection. I can't imagine how much this would all cost if we didn't have Tom's expertise and had to hire it all out but I'm sure grateful we don't! Rumor has it the inspection this week might fare a bit better although if successful it still won't bring all the furnaces online. The back apartment equipment has been 'red tagged' meaning it's unsafe and can not be hooked up without more repairs but we might see gas in the store area and upstairs apartments. I'm being careful to separate gas from heat as there's no actual guarantee the furnaces will fire up. Of course there's no reason to jinx things and think they won't but still, lets be realistic here LOL

Like most bad news the continuing gas line troubles have had their own silver lining. Tom discovered last week that many of the water pipes are broken or even missing and saved us from a not so happy flood. Of course given the cold weather we'd likely have had more ice than water making it even more of a blessing he discovered it. We expected a few leaks, some even major, but not the current condition. It looks like the plumbing was in the process of repair, stopped half way through and then the effects of time and abandonment took over. Our current wish list now reads: gas, heat, cold water and someday far on the horizon, hot water. Given the supply problems this could be the longest cleaning project ever LO

On the plus side the 'cleaning crew' made short work of the built up stuff and trash last Wednesday. Sorry not to have any pictures to share but it was just too cold! Even had the camera lens not frosted up my fingers were way too stiff to push the button LOL Brandie, her brother DJ and I gathered in the early morning chill and started hauling anything left in the building out to the back workshop. I didn't keep track of the number of trips but we worked steadily for almost 2 hours marching like ants back and forth between back room and workshop. It wasn't heavy work for the most part, just lots of little things that had to be carried individually. I'd actually thought it would take much longer but by lunchtime the storefront rooms were completely clear of trash, stereos and other electronics. The temperature inside was hoovering around 19 degrees so I skipped the sweeping and took the crew out for a steak lunch. I'd already had one experience with the cleaning and wasn't in a hurry for a second LOL

I mentioned in the last post that I was buying a vacuum for the place and I did. It's a really nice one too! Big, lots of power, bag-less and with a separate filter. Good thing too! I headed down bright and early one morning hoping to get the piles of dust knocked down and came face-to-face with the sheer amount of dirt in the place. Not even dirt but bales of pet hair and dust so thick you make one pass with a Swiffer and it's useless LOL I'll admit too that I'm a bit blond. One of my tasks last week was to take down all the globes from the overhead fan lights in the store, wash them and clean the fan blades. First off our ladders are way too short so that I had to stand on tip toes to even reach the lights. Visions of Tom finding me days later frozen to the floor after falling off the ladder convinced me to wait on the job but not before I had tried to clean one fan. No lie at all, a brand new Swiffer couldn't cut even one fan blade! The job is going to require goggles and a mask there's so much dust built up. I turned my attention to the carpet and started the vacuum up but almost immediately the filter clogged. I could do maybe a 4x4 foot section and I'd have to empty the thing and bang the dust out of the filter! I don't think the men will get this so much as the women but when you're vacuuming and empty the cup or bag you've got bits and pieces and then this soft, fine stuff. Like powdered dirt. I have one-third of a large black trash bag full of that fine dust just from one room! I took dirt cup and filter home to wash and 15 minutes under running water later it was reasonably clean. I'm figuring it will take at least two more sessions with a vacuum in that room before we quit sneezing LOL

The day after we hauled the stuff out I got a bit smarter and swept the place down with a broom first. The shop area was full of bits of wires, screws and other metal pieces all hidden under rolls of what I thought was carpet fuzz. Turns out it's dog hair. Either that or the owners had a very, very large cat LOL The back workshop has a dog door though so I'm guessing a rather large and obviously very hair mutt. I love dogs, used to share my home with several, but geesh this place couldn't have been vacuumed or swept for years given the amount of hair! The building was empty for two years but not abandon, it had windows and doors and was secure and all that so it's not like wild animals have been nesting in it. You'd never know the difference though with all the sweeping I've been doing LOL After three days of cleaning I had to wash my coat. Not wanted to, which I did, but literally had to it was that full of dust. Poor Pouncer, my cat with allergies, sneezes himself silly when I walk in the door from working over at the cauldron and no amount of water or cola washes away that dirt taste in my mouth. I suggested to Tom that we use a pressure washer on the back rooms - heated! - and he thinks I'm crazy. Really though, this is some serious dirt now! LOL Think scoop shovel rather than dust pan ; )

For me the next week brings a lull as there's little more I can do without heat and at least cold water. Tom's tired and tired of being cold as well as wanting to move on to a new puzzle but he's in a good mood about it all and enjoying the challenge still. I'm completely enjoying working there and nudging the place back to life and while I haven't yet learned too much about the renovation business I've found a lot of blessings there. It's a good building that deserves a new life and our hopes for it are good. And each day when I'm working there shivering in the cold I'm reminded to be very grateful that I'm just working there and have a nice warm home to go to when I leave. Not all of us have that and I like having that blessing pointed out to me. It's very easy sometimes to think we have it bad or have problems and we sometimes get so caught up in our own small world that we forget all the very good things we have. Not a bad start to the lessons I'll learn from the cauldron, huh?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

And the word is . . .

Do you ever have periods of time that you define or remember by a single phrase or word? When I look back upon this season the single defining thought is going to be COLD! LOL And yes, that would mean there's still no welcome warm air blowing from the furnace(s) in the cauldron.

It took the gas company all of about five seconds determine our pipes leaked - like that was a big surprise. Tom seemed annoyed but I'm getting pretty good at just shrugging. He's been working the past few days trying to find the leak(s) but that's about as successful as finding a good parking spot on a rainy day. You can stay positive and hope but the odds are against you LOL He did find a leak and fix it but testing over the weekend leads him to believe it wasn't the only one. Go figure there! Huge old building with pipes running here and there; at this point I wouldn't even want to estimate the number of possible leaks or where they might be. Tom is gamely continuing to track them down and I'm thinking wistfully of just replacing the lines and getting it done. Of course that costs money and so is a last resort but at the moment it makes me sigh longingly as much as any thought of warm, sandy beaches LOL

We had our first major disagreement, if it could even be called that, over the gas hook ups and more or less settled that amicably. Heck, it was on New Year's Eve. Wasn't either one of us going to get in a fight and be cranky for the fun later LOL Tom was in favor of the easiest fix for the actual gas hook ups and allowing them to install a larger meter at the current indoor site. Since that would have affected the showroom windows and the lines of the building, an irrational peeve of mine, I just couldn't agree to it. What store needs a huge gas meter front and center in the window? LOL Changing things will take extra time and money but it's also something we intended to do in the future in any case so I guess on this question my wants are likely going to prevail. And I learned a few things too, or maybe just came face-to-face with reality LOL It's not surprising that Tom and I have different view points on things or areas of expertise but I'm finding out design isn't one of Tom's strong points LOL Things that to me seem not even to be a question but are merely common sense such as the blocking of a storefront window are completely foreign to him. Conversely the whole pipe running thing is way beyond me. It should be fun as we move back and forth between his projects and mine to see what we each learn of the others areas.

So, the building is still cold and also waterless. We got lucky this past weekend though and had spring-like weather; it was actually warmer outside than inside the place LOL Tom shuffled some of the heavier items around along with chasing the leaks and I got the first two rooms of the store cleared of stuff and even washed the windows. Not only did we both work down there on New Year's Eve day but silly us turned off the football games on New Year's Day and headed back down. There might be a few problems but it's all good and we're having a fine time with the place. Along with the work we also had a chance to walk around and really discuss together some of the changes we'll need to make to bring things up to standard. We're hoping to install two furnaces in the apartments so each has their own rather than sharing a furnace as they do now. Same for the water heater. While that seems pretty easy to me and only a matter of moving things around I'm stumbling over building codes and what is common sense to Tom LOL A sample conversation on using a particular closet for the mechanics went something like this:

Tom - We can't put the furnace here and close it off because the circuit breakers are located here.

Me - Why not, there's no reason for the tenant to access the breakers anyway.

Yeah, I got one of those 'you're kidding me' stares LOL Along with the mention that circuit breakers do need reset at times and we didn't want to be called down every time that happened. Well, duh! LOL Good thing my 'job' is the cosmetic end LOL Speaking of the cosmetic, I ordered curtains for the store windows and earned another 'you're kidding' stare LOL The more time I spend in the cauldron building the more I realize this is going to be a long haul. We've got a lot of work to do and not only isn't it smart crime-wise to leave all the tools and materials exposed but it just looks bad to me. Tom and I had agreed that the windows would need to be covered but the more I thought about it the less I liked the idea of using paper. It would need to be up for a year at least and even if it was changed occasionally it would still look nasty. So, I ordered curtains LOL Shopping queen that I am they cost only a few dollars more than the roll of paper although with frugality comes little choice. We will soon have - are you ready for this? - turquoise and white tie-dye crushed satin drapes for our workspace! ROFLBO I really can understand why they didn't sell and are now on super clearance! It was way too cost effective to pass up though as well as way too funny to imagine the reactions of Tom and others. Or maybe it'll take every one's attention off the besom that gets hung on my next visit . . . hehehe I don't yet have a safe place to move my Ganesh statue to but I've got a lovely space over the front door to hang a broom =)

Today Ohio's back to winter cold and I'm already chilled thinking of working this week in a once-again cold building. On the plus side I'm picking up a vacuum for the place and one of those long Swiffer dusters so we can finally get rid of the cobwebs and dead leaves piled in the corners. We'll also begin working out some plan for paying the bills and keeping track of everything. That alone should be an adventure!