Some projects are harder than others. It’s not just the materials needed, mess generated, or muscles overused. More often, it is the collision of details which creates a seemingly impossible cause and effect situation. A typical planning conversation between the two of us: “If we move this, then we will need to move that.” “Okay, but if we move that over there and then, oh wait, what about those wires?’ “Hang on, that will need to be moved over here before we do any of this work.” “Haven’t we already made this decision?” “Is that a pipe running there?” “Can we finish this in a few weeks before our friends are due for a visit?” Spoiler alert: We’ve started another project.
When we moved to Crockern, our very first project was to install a wood burner. It was a necessary undertaking as the chimney was open to the sky, inviting in the rain and cold, and letting out heat. The room was chilly, damp and smelled of wet ash. This improvement proved essential and for years we’ve had a cosy sitting area throughout the winter months.
Roll on a few years and several other projects, we returned to further improve this sitting area: sanding the floors, removing the paint from the stone walls and scrubbing the dark soot off of the other stones around the fireplace. Repairing stairs, painting walls and ceilings nearby, changing the lighting, and taking the time to regularly enjoy the area. But we aren’t finished. There remains a window in desperate need of replacing as the frame is now rotten. And above, there is the unaddressed wooden ceiling.
This ceiling is held up by some lovely beams which we’ve long wanted to sand to reveal the beauty of the wood. There once were horrible particle boards hidding about 50% of the beams, but we ripped that out ages ago. In doing so, we discovered how big the next step would become and stopped, learning to live with it as it was. Somewhat. Neither of us liked the look or feel of the ceiling in this state. Friends would say how they liked its “rustic” look, but that’s easy to say when you aren’t living with it and thinking about the full potential.
We spent an age deciding the next steps. The confounding challenge is currently the ceiling sitting above the beams, is nothing more than the floor boards of the room above. We didn’t want to install plaster board between the beams since they are wonky, bent and old. The look would be sloppy and the plaster would quickly develop cracks. The current set up allows for dirt to fall through from the floor boards above.
An additional inspiration for doing all this work is that we need a solid, insulated and straight wall to hang a clock. As so many walls in the house are stone or roughly angled, our options for hanging the clock are few. There is, however, a perfect spot in the room above where we sit by the fire for this clock. Too bad the wall is not finished, or rather, framing hasn’t begun. And here is that nasty cause and effect. We can’t frame the wall until the floor below has been sanded. Can’t sand that floor unless we lift up the floor boards and address the beams below. Because once that wall is built, we can no longer address the floor. Every project begets more projects. It’s positively biblical!
My Dad collected clocks and when he died, I brought one of his wall clocks from the USA to Crockern. It’s an old Viennese Wall Clock from the late 1800s. Currently, it is being repaired. I’m not certain when my Dad gave up his daily tinkering on all his clocks, but this one was an early casualty. I found someone to repair the clock and someone else to restore the case. I am looking forward to hearing the familiar ticking of a clock. Growing up, our house was filled with clocks, noisily keeping time and occasionally chiming in unison on the hour. While I can’t wait, neither can the project which will end in a wall to hang the clock. We’ve got about 4 weeks.
And yet time waits for no one. While we’ve made our list, purchased our materials, and set about our plans we’ve had a few hiccups since starting this project. I went to visit friends one recent morning. During my short stay, a tree came down across their track, stranding me there until Roger could pick me up in a nearby car park. A few days later, as we were making real progress (1/3 of the floor boards lifted and the beams sanded), Roger stepped on a 6 inch nail. He spent a night with his bandaged foot elevated. The next morning he received a tetanus shot.
It matters little that we covered furniture, created dog barriers, numbered the boards, and were moving at a pace. Sometimes, life – or trees and nails — get in the way and slows us down. Still, time’s ticking!