Killin' Time - And A Sneak Peek (Kinda)

September 30, 2013

Here at 173 we're in the middle of a pretty big project.  I thought about doing the "progression" style posts to show the project as we go, but then I thought it might have a bigger impact to wait 'til it's done.  At the same time I'm sitting in a hotel room, hoping to the high heavens there's no bed bugs, and "itching" (the limits of my humor are endless) to post something!  So here's a little something:
This is a shot of the outside of the house at the beginning of the summer, there's a few things to notice...

ONE:  The Foundation
Might be hard to see in this pic, but there was a good bit of mildew, soil and grime.  A few weeks back I took my neighbor's power washer to it...much improved!

TWO:  The Shingles
I recently posted about the shingles, my (weird) attachment to them and the fact that it was time for a change.  Also, if you notice, everything from the porch down is brown.  Well, that's the change that's happening right now, so I can't go any further for the moment (no matter how badly I want to).

THREE:  The Gap
I know this is gonna sound a little obsessive, but that big gap between the ground and the bottom of the porch has always bothered me.  It's pretty harmless, but you know how some little thing gets in your head and just stays do know....right? Again, this is part of the current project so I have to be a little mum about it.  

FOUR:  The railings
Brown.  Dark brown.  A month or so ago, I painted them white.  I think it looks better with the new yellow front door.

FIVE:  Inside Front Porch
I know "Five" isn't labeled on the pic, but hey...the game hasn't started yet.  Seem this has been the summer of the front porch.  The summer started with a complete remodel of the inside of the front porch.  I guess once that was done it made the outside look even worse than we realized.  

Okay!  I can't stand it any longer... here's a little sneak peak!!

I crack me up!  I just couldn't help myself!  

Lowes, Hertz (Pun Intended) and a Little Support

September 22, 2013

A quick word of advice...if you own a home, and you have a pickup truck - keep it!  I had one of these...
Then I had one of these...
Now I have one of these...
And the other day I had to get some plywood and boards and bring it home in one of these...
And I won't get into it here, but Lowes no longer has people who deal with their vehicle rentals, it's done through a kiosk from Hertz.  Suffice to say, four hours, two broke-down trucks, AAA (triple A), and many calls later...I had seven sheets of plywood and seven boards home.  If you have a pickup truck - keep it!  If gas goes to $10 a gallon - keep it.  If you have to work a second job, skip meals three days a week, and someone in your house has to go barefoot - whatever it takes - keep your pickup truck!
Okay, rant over.  Half of a day off from work was lost, and a perfect weather day at that, but I still managed to get a little done.  Along one side of the house is an old sidewalk.  It's a little odd because it's really close to the house, and in all the years we've been at 173, I don't think I've ever actually walked on it!  
But the real problem was that it was in the way of my plans for the porch so...
Sledge hammer, and ten minutes later, out it came.  Now, if you own an old house you know that anytime you take something out, or open something up, you're going to find more work to do.  So here's the issue:
I know you're probably looking at that picture above and thinking, "So! He has some plant roots, big deal!"  Well, the fact is I'm not a great photographer so what I was trying to show was that the porch is eight feet wide coming off the front of the house, and in that expanse there is no support at all.  None.  On the other hand, it's still solid as can be, but I can't open something up and see that and not do something to bolster the situation.  I haven't done the complete job yet (like give some support all the way across from underneath), but I did add some support on this side for now:
It's not much support, but I think it should help (as if it's even needed it thus far!).

New Pages Added to the 173 Blog Site

September 20, 2013

Geeze, I keep forgetting to mention that pages have been added to the 173 blog site!

The first page is a list of links to various "how-to" videos or websites that I've found useful.  None of these, as yet, are my creation, and I really have no plan to get into that because there are already tons of excellent resources out there!

Speaking of resources, the second page is a list of links to local and internet resources I have or will find useful.

I'll be adding to these pages over time, so be sure to check them out from time-to-time!

Of Wisteria and Wobblies

September 18, 2013

So, while I was ever-so-reluctantly removing the shingles from the porch the other day I found a couple things, one horrifying (okay - a bit over dramatically stated) and the and interesting (at least to me!).  Here we go...

Kinda freaky isn't it?  That would be wisteria.  We planted it outside the porch a number of years ago.  It was beautiful, and lush, and invasive!  When we replaced all the windows on the front porch, I seized the opportunity (and excuse) to cut it down.  I mean really - that stuff actually gave me nightmares!  On more than one occasion I dreamed of the seen and unseen destruction the wisteria was wreaking on 173.  I'd been hinting at lopping it off for a few years, then I got my chance.  That was a year or two ago and we still get wisteria growing out of random spots in the yard!  Now I take down some shingles and my wisteria hysteria (see what I did there?) are validated!  Anyway, that was the "horrifying" discovery.  MUCH more interesting was this:

I love history, and in particular, I love seeing the ways we connect with generations and even how we connect geographically...a kind of "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" kind of thing if you will.  The picture above is the manufacturer stamp on the back of one of the shingles.  I find that kind of stuff interesting to the internet!  I figured I'd find out that there was a shingle company in Everett, Washington and that would be that.  I couldn't have been more wrong! Here's a little history lesson:  In a discussion of the Port of Everett, I found that...
After peaking at seven mills from 1907 through 1909, the dock(Port of Everett) maintained between four and six (wood and shingle) mills for most of the following decade, with ownership and name changes being the norm. Some firms, like the Everett Shingle Company (1906-1923)...were exceptions. Other names, such as the Matson Mill Company, appeared one year (1910) and disappeared the next.  
During this period, Everett shingle manufacturing reached new heights, and a substantial number of those shingles were being cut at 14th Street Dock mills. The 1912 Polk City Directory stated that Everett produced 6,055,000 shingles each day. The 1916 directory heralded Everett as “the leading lumber, logging and shingle center of the Northwest, in fact, it might be said of the entire world. The daily capacity of the shingles mills is 4.5 million."
At some point in there, the union movement hit the lumber mills and the story got very interesting very quickly!

The shingle labor and management war reached its zenith in 1916. The shingle weavers’ union went on strike when the owners were unwilling to reinstate a higher wage scale. The union cited the mill owners’ promise to restore the 1914 wage scale when shingle prices rose again. Prices had risen but David Clough, patriarch of the mill owners, was adamant that the wage adjustment was not justified. His mills, he claimed, had not made any money in two and a half years. The strike dragged on and became violent after some mill owners brought in strikebreakers. Hostilities rose to a new level when the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), to the dismay of the mill owners and the shingle weavers’ union, injected themselves into the fray. Better known as the Wobblies, the IWW men swarmed to Everett to preach for a radical worker revolution that far exceeded the shingle weavers’ demands for higher wages. On a downtown street corner, they called for the laboring class to rise in opposition to the immoral capitalists who controlled their lives. When the Wobblies were arrested or run out of town for their activities, their issue became repression of “free speech.” Then the town’s attention turned to the sheriff and his mill owner citizen deputes’ battle with the IWW.
After a particularly violent episode when a group of Wobblies was beaten and run out of town by the sheriff and his cohorts, a large group of Wobblies returned en masse by boat to Everett. They were met at the Everett City Dock by the sheriff and his deputized crew of mill owner supporters. A verbal confrontation followed, and a shot—from which side was never determined—rang out. More shots followed from both sides. When the volley ended, at least seven were dead (two of the dock crew and five Wobblies) and many others were wounded. The most infamous event in Everett’s history, it would become known as the Everett Massacre. The community was shattered, and a degree of normalcy wasn't restored until the city, along with the rest of the nation, turned its attention to America’s entry into the war in Europe.  From
See, that's what I'm talking about...I love connections like that...90 years later, and 2,888 miles away, 173 links to a little-known (at least in these parts) tragedy, all because of some cedar shingles. I think that shingle's going to find a nice little spot for display in 173!

Bittersweet Changes

September 16, 2013

173 is a work in progress...of that, there is no doubt.  I like to think that these changes are for the our own best interest, in the interest of improving our neighborhood, and certainly in the best interest of the house itself.  Some changes are made because they have to be, like when we put new windows and floor in the basement.  As it turns out, good ol' 173 is as solid as a house gets, so the number of gotta-do changes have been limited mostly to general maintenance.  Most of the projects here have been wanna-do.  Updates, aesthetic changes, and just sheer matters of taste and preference.
I'm a bit sentimental (I know, you're wondering where this is am I, kinda).  I'm the kind of sentimentalist that, when my parents re-sided their house, mom called me to break the news.  Thaaat's right - break the news!  They were going to let me just arrive one day and see this huge change, but mom got to worrying that it might be a bit much for me because she knew that things like the color of the shingles on the house meant something to me.  Yeah, I'm kinda sentimental.
I'm also a bit of a philosopher, usually all over the map, but I have a tendency to think about a lot of esoterica.  One of those things is home ownership...but probably not in the way that you're probably thinking.  I know this thought isn't original to me, but it fits me to a tee...ready?  WE ARE ALL RENTING OUR HOMES.  Wait, wait, wait...hear me out!  173 was bought and paid for.  Twice.  The first time was by the grandparents of a dear friend.  From the moment we walked into this house, we knew that my friend's family had loved this old place for decades, from the day it was built in fact.  And now, these 86 years later, we are the proud "owners" of 173.  But one day, and I hope at least 80 years from now (slim chance of that being we are both nearing 50), one day 173 will pass on to another family.  So you see, we "own" the place, but only for awhile.
Why did I say all that? ...  ...  ...  ... Oh yeah!  I remember!  Because of my link to the only other "owners" of 173, and because of my sentimentality, and furthermore be cause of my sense that we all "rent" - changes to the old place can often be both bitter, and sweet.  Whenever we make "significant" changes to the house, I always consider my friend and her family.  In particular, I try to think if the change is congruent with the spirit that I feel the original owners had when it came to this old house.  If you look around the house, you'll see several items that were left in place or made a certain way as an homage to the past.  At the same time, 173 evolves with our tastes, the times, and of course necessity.
AAAALLLL that being said, we are in the midst of another change here, and in some ways it is both bitter and sweet, aka - bittersweet.  I know this is much ado about very little in the grand scheme of things, but like I said...I'm sentimental.
As best we can tell, and by reports from my friend and her family, aw hell, let's just call her Mary, 173 had always been white with green trim and the front porch shingles were also green.
Probably the 1970's.  Mary's dad and grandmother.
The above picture shows the green and white of the house when we first bought it.  However, by that time the shingles were getting a little rough.  Probably a year or two after buying the house, even though I love green and white together, we changed the focus on green to brown.  It seemed like a good color to cover the green, and there was already two green houses on our little block.  For probably the next ten years it looked pretty good, but in the last couple years the outside of the house has been beginning to look a little time and weather worn.
This summer has brought a bit of focus on the outside.  With the addition of black shutters a couple weeks ago, it became clear that we were taking 173 in a new direction color-wise.  And therein lies the bittersweet...
This is going to sound soooo trivial but this was hard:
I removed the shingles.  It was really one of those gotta-do issues.  There was just no way to rehab them.  Eighty years of weather and countless coats of paint sealed their doom.  I considered pulling them off gently, turning 'em over and re-applying.  When I was a kid my dad did that to the entire house, but alas, it just wasn't to be. I hated to do it, but there it is...the bitter.
Nope!  The sweet will have to wait!  Suffice to say, much thought and consideration has gone into the decision, and I think it will be in keeping with the history and life of  173!
Stay tuned!

Older (Blog) Posts Repaired

September 11, 2013

After the last post, a reader (Old House Lover) was kind enough to point out that some of the pictures from older posts were missing.  I went back through and tried to recreate (reinsert?) the pictures the way they were.

Oh, if anyone knows how to allow comments to be seen at the bottom of posts on Blogger, drop me a line!  Thanks!

Odds, Ends and Portents!

September 8, 2013

Over the last couple years I've learned that most people reading this blog do so either via email, through a blog aggregator or from an RSS feeder.  Ha!  I read that sentence and it almost sounds like I know what I'm saying!  The point is that likely few people actually go to my little Blogger site.  If you do however, you'll likely notice some changes... The main header of the page went from this:
To this:
Now, if you know me at all, and I realize most of you don't, you know that I make changes like this for a's definitely not arbitrary.  The fact is, the change in the look of the blog is a portent of things to come under way at ol'173!  So stay tuned!
Also, the primary purpose of the blog is so that we here at 173 can keep track of when things were done, what was used, etc, etc, etc, ad infinitum.  That being said - here's a couple very minor projects done the last few days.
The other day I was walking out of the house and noticed this:
How did I just notice it?  I dunno, probably noticed it before but put it in the back of my mental list of things to do.  But notice it I did.  And it occurred to me that my neighbor had one of these:
I love it when neighbors are willing to lend a hand and/or a tool, and in this case, a pressure washer was just what the doctor ordered (and the neighbor had).  And fifteen minutes later...MUCH better!
Then today, while waiting for the Green Bay game, I fabricated a little cover for over the doorbell.  Hey!  Quit laughing!  Rain could get in there and mess up the circuit board or mother board or whatever that little computer thing in there is called!
So there you have it.  Oh, before I go, one last pic I wanted to share...
Look at the size of that thing!

Seeking Balance

September 6, 2013

When last we met, the shutters were up and we were all happy and the townsfolk danced around the cherry tree.  It was all so lovely.  Buuuut.  Then I do that guy thing...stand back and admire the work.  Yup, i did just that, admired the work for a couple days, then something started bugging me.  And this is it:
After a couple days of standing back and admiring, driving by, staring, admiring some more and then a bit more staring...I realized something was missing.  Sound familiar?  With the shutters up above, the lower half of the house looked out of balance somehow.  Of course that bank of windows off the dining room (we simply refer to it as "the bumpout") wouldn't fit shutters, or even look okay if they did, but that area seemed the likely culprit.
So after a few days of hemmin' and hawin', I decided to take the plunge.  Because the aluminum framing around the window has been there for many years now, I had to scrub to make sure I got all the chalk off. After was just time to get up there and start painting.  I started with the black first...and let me tell you - standing there on the ladder, brush loaded with black paint, looking at that factory-painted white flashing, the first stroke was tough.  But hey!  Throw caution to the wind!
That brings up another point...the ladder.  Dear lord I've gotten so I hate ladders, even if it's only to the top of the first floor.  But I got the first coat of black on with just moderate anxiety.  The next day while I was at work, and I have no idea how such random thoughts pop into my mind, I had a brainstorm...get a ladder stabilizer!  So after work - off to Lowe's...and I found this:
The Werner Ladder Stabilizer!  It cost $42 and I have to say, this was among the best $42 I've ever spent!  The assembly instructions came in Spanish, but luckily I can follow picture instructions pretty well!  I assembled it and attached it to my ladder in less than five minutes!
Not only was it affordable, and easy to assemble and attach, it made a WORLD of difference!  That ladder was incredibly stable and the rest of the project was anxiety-free! Onward we go...After getting the second coat of black on, I stood back and admired my work!
Buuuut...something was wrong.  I didn't like the look of the bare, gray aluminum frames on the storm windows.  I know!  I'll paint 'em!  Next day - scrub the frames, and tape around the windows.
About an hour-and-a-half later the frames were painted.  What a difference it made! Unfortunately I'm not much of a photographer, so it's hard to get the look to really show, but I can tell you, in real time it looks striking!
And here's a further-out shot:
See what I mean?  I think the window frame painted black really adds something to balance the upper and lower floors!  And how about that sky?  The photo hasn't been enhanced, it's just the kind of beautiful day I got to work in!

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