The Demolition Mission, Part 2

We knew that tackling a remodeling job of this magnitude would bring surprises.  Our most recent round of dusty demolition delivered new ones, some good and others not as welcome.  It’s all part of the journey on which we have embarked.  We are keeping in mind the words of Thomas Edison:  “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  Every weekend (and some weeknights) since August 1, we willingly put on our work gloves and proverbial overalls for the opportunity to transform September Farm into the bright, cozy home of our dreams .

Surprise #1:  “Say hello to my little friends!”

Dear husband and I went back and forth about how to transform the family room.  Do we tear out the dated paneling in favor of sheet rock, or keep the dark paneling and paint it white to brighten the room?  The second option would definitely be cheaper, and we are all for saving money and using what we have.  However, we wanted to widen the opening between the family room and future kitchen, so we knew we would have to take down at least one wall of paneling.  We started on that wall and got to work at removing one panel.  “And what is behind door number one, Bob?  Show us what the homeowners win!”

photo (31)Very suspicious looking sheet rock was lurking under that paneling.  See that pretty, swirly design that was under some of the paper backing?  We thought that we should dig further into this mystery, so we removed the sheet rock and found this:

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That swirly pattern was not my latest attempt at faux painting, gentle readers.  It’s tunneling.  From termites.  They were rude little critters who knew enough to leave a party they weren’t invited to (quite a long time ago by the look of things).  Naturally they departed without cleaning up their mess.  After discovering this, we decided to strip the family room of all paneling just to know what hand we’d been dealt.  To our relief, we will end up replacing only about twelve studs on two walls in this room.  David and I didn’t anticipate this kind of repair, but we would rather know about it than not know, you know?

Surprise #2:  More Critters

As basement demolition continued, it was time to remove the rest of the depressing antique drop ceiling.  Dear husband counted 4 dead mice who had met their demise in that ceiling, courtesy of a mouse motel strategically placed there.  We will spare you the visual of mouse carcasses in varying stages of decay.  You’re welcome.

Surprise #3:  A Vintage Gem

We barely noticed a cabinet shoved into a corner of the dark basement the first several times we were down there.  As we continued to gut the basement down to the studs this past weekend, looking for any evidence of more termite damage, we had to move that cabinet.  Lo and behold we turned it around to reveal this little gem:

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Just in case you don’t recognize a vintage vixen when you see one, it’s a hand made 1960’s bar, complete with slanted front, drawers,  and gold, swirly mirrors.  The glitter-flecked formica top extends as needed.  When hubby showed me this, my jaw dropped and I practically drooled at the prospect of repurposing it.  Keeping a treasure such as this in the basement will not do!  Once I freshen up the old girl with some rouge and new jewelry, she will occupy a place of honor as our kitchen island.  This happy demo surprise was just what I needed that day!

Surprise #4:  The Dumpster Dance

I took a chance and ordered a thirty yard dumpster to put all the remodeling trash in.  In case you are spatially challenged like me, that’s a big old dumpster!  Go ahead, take a gander.

photo (33)It is now two-thirds full after hubby and I made countless jaunts from house to dumpster and back again!  I do believe we will use almost every square inch of this big blue bad boy.  The best part is that stinky carpet, ceiling tiles, chewed wood, and a powder blue toilet (which reminds me of my junior prom date’s snazzy tuxedo) will soon be hauled off forever.  Can I get a hallelujah?

Even after the surprises that this house had offered up, we wouldn’t have done anything other than buy this place.  Trekking in and out with armloads of trash and materials is making us farm strong.  Even with dirt in my hair and sweat on my tired body,  I still get to feel the uncharacteristically cool August Kansas breeze on my face or hear the rustle of leaves and conversation of cows across the road.  It’s a wonderful life.

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The Demolition Mission, Part 1

Not since Pee-Wee had his Big Adventure has there been such excitement over a basement.

(I’m a little sentimental over this movie, as dear husband and I saw it on one of our first dates in….1985!  I still laugh like a 17 year old girl every time I watch it.  But I digress….)

We have officially owned September Farm for 10 days.  It took us awhile, but we are finally getting to demo the basement!  It will eventually become two or three comfy bedrooms for our older children, so we want to do it right.  It’s difficult to say what charms us most about this space:  the pristine drop ceiling, the glowing fluorescent lighting, the sweet hum of the dehumidifier, the 2 adorable sump pumps that still work, or the retro paneling that has been glued to the concrete walls.  As much as we want to preserve the original character of our country estate, we know some of these features require loving attention demolition.  (Hubby plans to repurpose the lights for his greenhouse.)

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We have had 5 straight nights of very welcome rain this week.  We already knew our basement leaked a little, so we jumped at the chance to pinpoint exactly where the problem spots were.  David skillfully wielded the hammer and chisel to remove ceiling, wood, and paneling.  Though we knew challenges would abound in this space, it was good to see them out in the open.  This somehow makes the tasks ahead of us less daunting, I think.  We even recruited son Shaun (14) to help.  He enthusiastically picked up the sledge hammer and did a man’s work, incredulous at the fact that we really did want him to destroy something!

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The satisfying demolition mission ended with large piles of rubble, sweaty he-men with bulging muscles, and the happy discovery that the small basement leaks are very fixable.  New knowledge of previously hidden challenges face us, just as we expected.  What’s the best way to arrange the walls now?  What do we do with the plumbing in the former crawl space that is blocking where we wanted to put daylight windows?  And why in the world would anyone cover a beautiful, glittery popcorn ceiling with industrial office tiles?  These questions beg to be answered, but not today.  Today we will revel in the fact that the rain has gifted us with some important answers for the basement renovation, as well as started to fill the one acre pond that was bone dry a month ago.  This is OUR big adventure, and we are grateful for every bit of it.

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August 1

August 1 began as most mornings do at our house in the suburbs.  As the alarm went off at 6:30 a.m. signaling the start of another day, dear husband rolled over and whispered to me, “Today we’re buying our farm.”  I could hear the sleepy smile in his voice, and it made me giddy.  He said to me once that he had been trying to get back to the country ever since he left his parents’ farm after college.  That farm happened to be next door to the place we were buying; we now would share a tree line, a fence, a history, and an ever deepening connection to his childhood home.  It is a homecoming of sorts for me as well, since we had many sweet times there when we dated in the mid-eighties.  Just being there makes this Houston-bred girl slow down and breathe deeply.

We showed up to the closing and were presented with these cute things!  (Sorry for the blurry photo, but I was really excited!)

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Our realtor brought two boxes of these adorable farm cookies for us; one box was even gluten free for dear husband!  We chatted with the seller of the house, which was a reunion for David since he knew the gentleman from years ago as a neighbor.  We signed the papers, and it was done.  We owned a farm.  We were then presented by realtor Lacy with a new door knocker engraved with our family name.  I tried not to get misty-eyed.  We owned a farm.  Our farm.

Husband hurried back to the office to finish work, and I set off to the home improvement store.  We were going to start work on our house that night, and I had big plans to make it special.  I got letters to spell our name on the mailbox.  I bought a few gallons of paint for the ceilings, which we planned to rid of the popcorn texture as soon as possible!  I then hurried back to the house we live in to meet hubby after work, and we drove out to the farm together.

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We happily walked in the front door and ignored the lingering smell of dog in the dingy carpet.  I spread a blanket on the floor so that we could have a picnic dinner before starting our projects.  We ate and laughed and dreamed out loud and were then startled by a knock on the door.  We had our first visitors!  It was reunion time again as two more of David’s childhood neighbors came to welcome us home.  It was precious.  I thought to myself, “I think I’m going to love country life.”

After chatting with the neighbors, who promised to bring a pie once we settled in, we attacked the popcorn ceilings with gusto.  We had two bedrooms done before we left for the night.  Goodbye, popcorn.  I like you with butter and onion salt, but I’d prefer that you were not on my ceilings.  🙂

We returned to our “city” house coated in dust and sweat and exhaustion and bliss.  Before drifting off to sleep, David and I marveled at the fact that today, August 1st,  would be cherished in our memories as the day we realized a dream.  We bought a farm.

We bought the farm!

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We did it.  We literally bought the farm.

Some people might look at it, smell it, see the dust, inspect the dry pond, dodge the grasshoppers, do a double take at the place we are selling to get to the country, and shake their heads.  We look at this place, our September Farm, and see freedom:  freedom to roam, dream, breathe, plant, create, fix, and get out of debt.

Our little three acre spread has a barn, a wood shop, a shed that will become a greenhouse, a pond, and a cozy house built in 1950 that’s been added onto a few times.  It has good bones and sweet history:  dear husband grew up next door, where his parents once owned 126 acres.  There’s nothing here that doesn’t need to be touched, but we relish the work ahead of us.

Here we go…