First came that nagging little voice . . . update the blog. Then came the guilty feelings over ignoring that little voice. Then, heck, it's just plain too much fun working and next we knew it was almost half a year since we've put out an update LOL That's particularly funny to me since I've always hated work and couldn't wait to escape somewhere else. It's not that I'm lazy or anything, I've just never had the type of personality to take rigid schedules and rules well. Now that I make my own schedule and decide how I want to spend each day work has become downright addictive! OK, so maybe it's not addictive but it has been a ton of fun LOL We're still here though and working hard although progress isn't always easy to see. Over the winter Tom and I both came to several realizations: we'd bitten off far more than we expected although not more that we can necessarily handle, and any thought of a timetable for completing things was way out of the question. Not only are there just two of us but ya know, life has a way of just complicating things LOL
Winter passed fairly quickly with a good part of the remodeling on the east apartment being completed. We can't run circles through the entire upstairs anymore and the east place now has a new bedroom complete with walk in closet. While Tom was busy upstairs with that project I worked on the downstairs hallway and played a bit in the store area. We still haven't replaced the floor in the front entrance hall but the rest of the work is done and looking fine. Someday we'll have a new floor but at the moment our wishes are way larger than our budget. Upon asking Tom what he'd like someone to see when entering the building he replied that he wanted a floor 'so awesome that when you walked over it you'd immediately turn around and walk back just to see it again'. Well, I found exactly that with floor tile designed to look just like a lovely Caribbean sea, complete with fish and all, but with our budget of $300 we could only afford to tile a foot or so LOL I had better luck in the store area where we tested out paint for the tin ceiling and 'branded' the place with my business logo. Metallic paint turned out to be a wash out on the tin ceiling due to the cost and the fact that we just didn't like the look. After a few tests I've decided on a very pale silver blue with gloss white trim accented with a flash style paint. Unlike the metallic the flash paint is an overcoat that gives an opal-ish quality to the paint. The one we've decided on changes between a pale golden yellow and a sparkly pale blue. I hadn't been really set on a theme although I did know what basic shades I wanted to use. As it turned out the sage/mossy green color I envisioned, called Polliwog, clicked the last bit into place and I realized my theme was 'swamp'. LOL Now this isn't your alligator and snake infested swamp but a place of dewy mosses, wild flowers and graceful trees; a magical swamp if you will. It won't be full of fairies but there is a rather attractive witch with purple high heels stirring a bubbling cauldron now gracing the wall. A bit more will get done over the winter although like most projects there are many smaller tasks that need to be done first such as wall patching.
Last winter also brought a major change and great sadness when our long-time friend, building neighbor and Julie's boyfriend, Doug Hayman, passed away in February. While Doug had been ill for some time his death was sudden, unexpected and left us all shocked. It's still difficult to look out our windows at his old business and not expect to see him drive up or wave. Julie, while an almost constant fixture in the weeks following his death no longer spends time hanging out at the Cauldron. I miss her but I can also imagine that the memories are even more difficult for her looking across the road and remembering.
We took a short escape in March for an old-style Florida vacation. We stayed just down from Old Town in Kissimmee and spent days by the pool, wandering through the shops and stuffing ourselves with seafood. It had taken me several years to talk Tom into visiting Kissimmee but the vacation was a huge success. Besides all the restaurants and attractions within walking distance there's a large amusement park in beside Old Town with lots of rides we remembered from childhood. Of course in childhood we didn't end up with aching backs and stiff joints but it was still a lot of fun. Especially the day spent racing go-carts LOL
With spring came yard chores and a new addition. We purchased the two vacant lots next door to assure our future tenants a place to park and Tom worked long hours clearing the fence row of trees and rocks. I finished edging and mulching the yard for easier mowing, last year's herb garden came up in spades and Brandie and I planted a new garden at the back of the lot boarding the fire pit area. I'm not sure yet who will live in our building when it's finished but I do know they will have an amazing outdoor area! From the long front porch with the rockers to the different naturally divided areas in the backyard there's no end to the shady quiet place to relax or sunny ones for games and fun. As May ended Tom called a halt to my gardening and we headed up to start the lower roof.
When dealing with an older building you learn fast that you're not in charge. Not too long ago I was watching a show about converting unusual buildings into residences and one of the participants complained that the structure of his building greatly limited what they were able to do. My first thought? Well, DUH! LOL Boy have we learned that lesson! Tom and I may come up with ideas or have thoughts on how to complete a project but ultimately the Silver Cauldron has the last say in how, or if, a project gets done. Seemingly easy projects, such as the roof - yes, we're still up there! - have a way of becoming complicated. While the top roof was a long slog in the sun but relatively simple the lower roof, while smaller, turned out to be a complete puzzle. Not only were there several different elevations to combine but the neglect, leaks and weight of the built up roofing had done considerable damage to the support structure. The old roof itself turned out to be thicker and heavier than the upper roof and worse, everyone back through history who had worked on it seems to have been in love with nails. There were row upon row of nails spaced an inch or two apart and none it seemed wanted to come out. In a bit of backwards luck the roof boards themselves turned out to be dry as dust and just about as sturdy. Far easier to pry off the boards than deal with the hundreds of nails LOL I had the honor of prying much of the old roofing off including one memorable day when Brandie and I removed about half of the roof. Tom spent countless hours replacing joists and building up sagging spots before laying new boards and finally covering all with rolled rubber roofing. Twice LOL
Apparently Mother Nature didn't like the way we laid it out the first time as she blew it clean off the roof! At the end of June we had storms in the area fairly often and it was common for me to check the current radar on my cell phone or for Tom to call and ask about it. One storm came up suddenly, looked really nasty and was moving with fantastic speed. I went over to help Tom get the roof covered up and we scurried around like mad getting the rubber rolled over the open spots and weighted down. I was nagging Tom to get off the roof when the tornado siren sounded and we both ran to get inside. The storm was massive and caused severe damage to the area. Luckily I'm a little dumb and rather than take cover I'd sped home while Tom sat it out in the Cauldron basement. By the time it was all over the roof rubber was in the parking lot, my street along with a good part of the rest of Findlay's roads was blocked by downed wires and huge trees and my pond was smashed under a neighbor's tree. The damage was devastating and amazing all at the same time and both our neighborhoods were without power for a week. I was able to spend my time at home working with the neighbors to clean things up but you can imagine Tom's stress between worry over the lower roof and his city work chores with traffic lights. There are still lights waiting to be fixed! I've got to give a big thanks too for the neighborhood 'boys'; Matt, Brian and Buddy. During the first few hours after the storm, before help arrived, they cleared limbs, directed traffic and kept things safe. Thanks guys!
Besides the destruction the storm also brought joy and sadness. A few days after the storm a neighbor dropped off a 5 week old kitten she'd found and while I honestly tried my best to find her a home or a place in a rescue shelter there were too many displaced animals already and no room for her. Luckily the mice at the Cauldron picked that time to become a serious pest and Tom agreed, slightly unwillingly, to us adopting her as the official Cauldron cat. Her name's Gizmo btw and she's adorable! Black and white with a heart-shaped patch on her side LOL Somehow one tiny kitten has managed to turn bully Tiger into a pussy cat who plays and even shares baths with Gizzy. Bear has also become an admirer and is no longer a loaner. Harmony reigns in the house and ya hardly ever hear a snarl or spit LOL Unfortunately, shortly after Gizmo arrived normal one of my youngest cats, Hobo, suffered a stroke and shortly after died. He was one of the crew I call the 'bugs', named for him actually. Born without a tail he was tabby striped and looked just like a bug LOL He wasn't quite five years old and while we've always known the bugs weren't healthy it seemed way too soon for him to leave us.
August brought the end of the roofing project. Finally! OK, so it's not the end end but at least we're done taking off old roof and putting new on LOL The new roof helped the leaks, helped but didn't stop them. Turned out the outer sheeting on the second story wall was so deteriorated it was leaking. Surprise! LOL After that there were minor leaks to run down with the windows and flashing and finally, this week, it appears there's only one leak left. I'm so excited to have the water problems done with I want to have a celebration! But. Ya know there's got to be a but, right? LOL The inside damage from the years of leaks is severe. The back room, where the downstairs furnace hangs, has 5 or more broken ceiling beams and all kinds of parts I don't know the names for loose. Basically the ceiling structure is falling down. Not a huge surprise or anything just another puzzle to solve. Somehow the old furnace has to be taken down from the ceiling, the ceiling beams jacked back up to where they belong and the bad sections replaced. If that sounds at all easy remember there's just two of us and I'm a wimp strength-wise LOL Should be an interesting project!
Of course the end of August also brought our annual trip to the Easy Rider Rodeo in Chillicothe Ohio. To say we were eager for a break and some parties would be a serious understatement LOL As the weeks of roof details wore on we talked more and more about the upcoming trip and Tom was packed and ready to go sooner than he's ever been. Days ahead! LOL It was as good as time as ever, different from other years but that's pretty usual too. We missed some of our old 'friends' we used to see, victims of job/location changes or the economy but we met some new 'friends' too and look forward to meeting up with them next year. And we're already planning for next year's trip LOL Hopefully we'll get in a few more camping weekends before the weather turns really cold although considering the upcoming project in the backroom taking time off might not be wise or possible, we'll see. Hopefully I'll be a little better keeping things updated here although I can't offer any promises there. A bit ago I had the unhappy experience of a computer crash and things aren't all that they could be computer-wise. Luckily our Cauldron pictures were backed up and I've got my photo editor reinstalled so soon there should be a lot of new pictures of the projects to check out. No promises there either though, I tend to prefer being over at the building painting rather than sitting behind a desk LOL