The First Henryversary – Paper

Henry and I have been here together about a year now.  One of the million tasks has been to coordinate the removal the Raccoon Tree at the end of the driveway.

The Raccoon Tree is a gorgeous, though quite rotten, maple tree* that must be approximately as old as Henry.  So maybe 125 years, give or take..?  It shades the street, and graciously welcomes one home each day, forming the beginning of a leafy cathedral over the driveway.  Most importantly (to some four-footed folk), it is one of the prime spots for canine pee-mail on this leisurely road.

It is also a severe threat to any vehicle parked in the street, constantly dropping branches & debris, and is conducive to migraines at the thought of a wind, storm, or hurricane season.  Not to mention the fact a family of raccoons made a cozy home during the spring in one of the many rotten cavities.  The neighbors gathered on several occasions to marvel over “momma” hauling her wayward kits back up the trunk during the early twilight hour.  (No wonder they moved on after a few weeks.)

After things settled down a bit, I made some calls.  Turns out, the Raccoon Tree is so close to the road that it falls under the town jurisdiction.  Hallelujah!  I’m dodging a major bullet on this one!  The town will remove the Raccoon Tree!

The Town agreed to remove Henry’s Raccoon Tree.  2016

It occurs to me as I write this post, “paper” is the traditional first-year anniversary gift. What better way to commemorate my first Henryversary than with this piece of paper? To me, it represents stewardship and the opportunity for new growth.

Check out some of the “aftermath.”

New landscaping for the front yard
The Master Suite


*I have another maple tree story, but that is from another place, for another time.  All I have to say for now, is “Chainsaw Guy:  PELTED!”  And thanks, Dad, it was one of the best days ever.

The Plastic Comes Down

When I met Henry, the roof had recently been completely replaced.  The protective plastic sheeting was still tacked up to the rafters, and the attic was crammed full of, um, stuff.  Even so, I could feel in my bones that it was a wonderful space, a diamond in the rough.  I made an unspoken deal with Henry – right then and there – this attic would be my future studio.

One of the first major tasks for the attic would be to remove all the plastic sheeting.  I mentioned it was “protective” plastic sheeting.  One of the protections it provided was to divert the roofing debris from falling into the attic during the roof replacement work.  Trust me when I say it was a painstaking and dirty process.

One of the plastic sections I removed revealed an additional nook that wasn’t visible earlier.  What an amazing discovery!

attic nook 1
Yes, that is yellow shag carpet, glued to the floor.  Who does that?

The discovery of this newly-found space was met with nothing short of apathy.

attic 3
Apparently, no one else shared my enthusiasm, as usual.
attic 4
The last section of plastic awaiting removal.
attic 5
Finally, a blank canvas!

PhotoGuy Studio… Prep Work

PhotoGuy Studio 1
First visit to Henry in June 2015, view of PhotoGuy’s future studio.

When Henry was listed for sale, there was mention of a detached garage.  There was NO mention of the awesomeness hiding back here.  This area  is basically another two car garage, attached to the first two car garage.  It is fully insulated and armed to the teeth with heat and electricity.

The previous owners had the “back garage” set up as a major wood workshop.  (I’ve also just heard that a more distant owner used the space as a silver workshop.  I need to do more research on that nugget of information.)

PhotoGuy Studio 3
The old wood workshop, during the first visit to Henry, June 2015.

There was a massive amount of work to do to clean and prepare the space.  And then the sheetrock happened.

PhotoGuy Studio 4
Sheetrock now covering approximately 90% of the studio space.  This corner by the furnace is the last bit to finish.
PhotoGuy Studio 5
The Inspector is pleased.

Already, what a difference!  Covering the pegboard added another layer of thermal protection, and tamed the visual aspect of the space.

Then it was time to select the paint.  PhotoGuy wanted a neutral grey, which is not quite as easy as it seems.  You’d be amazed how the different greys can appear to have a slightly blue, green, red or yellow hue.  Selecting value can be equally daunting.

shadow on the wall
Shadow models the paint swatches.

So exciting!  Can’t wait to see the finished studio space!



Treasure Hunting – Desk Fragment

Last October, I needed a break from all the constant Henry activity.  I went to the annual City Wide Open Studios in New Haven CT.  The Erector Square weekend showcases local artists in their working studios, and is one of my favorite parts of the event.

One of the artists happened to be capitalizing on the opportunity to purge some old junk.  So I capitalized on the opportunity to buy this fragment of an old slant top desk top for $1.00.  A new treasure!

Desk Fragment 1
My treasure – the slant top desk fragment, as it looked the day I found it.
Desk Fragment 2
This is the inside surface, it would be opened out flat and used as the writing surface.  See the dark ink splotches?  Look, it even still has one of the attachment chains.

I’ve been waiting for months to work on this.  New England is currently having an arctic blast, so this is a perfect indoor weekend project.

Desk Fragment 3
Here I’ve sanded off just about all the old stain.  You can see some old watermarks and gouges.  Personally, I think anomalies lend character, so I decided not to pursue further restoration.

And now for the best part, the protective finish.  For this piece, I’ve chosen to use a natural wax.  Wax helps to nourish the wood, as well as seal and protect.  It also brings out the beauty, as you can see.  I used Daddy Van’s.  Good stuff, check it out.

Desk Fragment 4
Look at that glow, there’s nothing else quite like it.
Desk Fragment 6
Slant top desk fragment: cleaned, sanded and waxed.  Not bad for a $1.00 treasure.

Turns out, I have just the place to hang it.  I’ve been looking for just the Right Thing to mount above this old handmade writing desk.

Desk Fragment 5
The finished desk piece, now hanging over my desk.

The Wraparound Porch, and Maggie May

A “throwback Thursday” post.  Too soon?  Who cares.  Is that even a “thing” for a blog?  The photo is from Fall, and this is the middle of Winter.  I think it works.

Three weeks after I moved into Henry, the lady across the street started asking if I was going to keep the Christmas lights hanging around the porch.  She thought I liked them!  Oh, the horror!  I realized it was time to turn my attention to curb appeal, at least temporarily.

So I picked up some mums and chardonnay, and spent the afternoon on the porch with the dogs.  OK, with Shadow.  Chip wanted to sleep inside on the couch, listening to Oscar Peterson.  Or not.  Who knows with him.

See the porch sconce lights?  There was a bird nest on one of them.  I spent an inordinate amount of time scrubbing the poop away.  Years worth of accumulation.  It was all over the siding and the stoop.  That stuff is like glue.  Stoop poop.

I’ve recently read that club soda works well for bird poop, and is gentle enough for auto paint.  However, I used vinegar and baking soda, rinsed with water, repeat as needed.

The street number?  Used to be on the railing post.  I moved it to the rise of the top step.  I grew up in a shoreline town, and many of the beachfront properties displayed the numbers there.  I’ve always liked that, and it is very easy to see from the road.

I have PLANS for this view.  Stay tuned.

Front Porch 2015
Henry, late September 2015

Wake up Henry, I think I got something to say to you

It’s late September and I really should be back at work
I know I keep you amused and I feel I’m being schmoozed
Oh Henry, you had so many quirks
You lured me away from home just to save you from being alone
You stole my heart, you sold it all as perks

The morning sun when it’s in your face really shows your age
But that don’t worry me none in my eyes you’re everything
I laughed at all of your jokes, my love you didn’t need to coax
Oh, Henry I couldn’t have tried any more
You lured me away from home, just to save you from being alone
You stole my soul, I couldn’t leave you if I tried