I know I’m not the only one to say this . . .

Instead of participating in NaNoBloMo, sickness I’ve elected (har) to write a month’s worth of post tonight.

At Chez Unreserved, we carved pumpkins. It’s quite the trick to get a good picture of both girls simultaneously.
Either Claire isn’t looking and/or they’re out of focus

Or Anna isn’t looking, or she’s pulling a face

So I figured a little reverse psychology was in order. I asked them to make faces. THIS time they listened.

The next day I was off work (oh sweet, sweet vacation!) so I got to take Anna to her class party. While waiting for class to begin Anna decided to try out her wings.

We had a very successful trick-or-treat year. It was sort of odd starting out in broad daylight, but it made picture taking easier.

The girls made friends with a 2yr old Buzz Lightyear from the next street over. The three of them made a formidable candy collecting team.

On Saturday, the fun was over. I had to be the enforcer and prevent the girls from subsisting entirely on pure sugar. Fortunately it was beautiful out, so we went outside and got some work done.

There was a tremendous amount of damage along the back of the house where the deck used to be. This is why the deck fell. We suspect the boards were already in bad shape when the deck went up. Time and moisture didn’t help matters any.
The shorter portion of the L-shaped space is what’s left of a beam under the original part of the house. It had been the home of a large colony of carpenter ants. We could see that it had been repaired somewhat before on the right end.

This is/was a sizable beam. The floor joists are mortised into it. Removing it was not a desirable option. Enter our chosen repair after much research – a multi-part epoxy system from The Rot Doctor.
I removed the worst of the rotted wood. All I needed was a paint scraper and a paintbrush. That’s how deteriorated it was.
Pictured here is the excavated beam with my hand in the picture for scale.

The remaining wood was treated with a penetrating epoxy, as was the new pieces of wood that were cut to fill the excavated space. I soaked the entire beam and the new wood in the epoxy, which was every bit as noxious smelling as the label promised. Our whole house reeked faintly of xylenes for about 24hrs. I also inadvertently soaked my pants, my shoes, my shirt, the ladder, and my left elbow with an unfortunate splash of epoxy. My elbow is now rot resistant. My shirt is history. The jury is still out on the pants and shoes. If the neighbors were watching, they got a quick flashing of undergarments when I stripped in the yard.

I managed to finish the job. Here it is all cobbled together, curing merrily away.

I will give it a week to cure and then fill in the remaining cracks and voids with a mixture of layup and laminating resin and fine sawdust. The result should be a sound, rot-resistant beam that should no longer crumble or harbor ant farms. We will cover it with tar paper and siding. Assuming we can find someone to sell us 8″ novelty lap siding.

The longer damaged portion was too far gone to salvage any wood. It’s under the new part of the house, “new” being circa 1920, that contains the kitchen. The board that closes off the floor joists and wall studs was almost completely gone.

The pink you can see is foam insulation Mr. Unreserved put up in the basement in an attempt to keep the drafts down in the kitchen. You could see daylight where the floor meets the wall under the radiator. The wood was almost completely gone from under the tar paper. Can you believe someone tried to hang a deck off of this mess?
Mr. Unreserved removed what little was left, Leaving a gaping hole under the entire kitchen.

The sill was rotted away for a few feet under one end, so it had to be replaced, and the floor joists were sistered where necessary. We could see how the floor had been sagging, made worse by the fact that the radiator sits above the worst of the damage and it weighs about 800lbs. Mr. Unreserved also repaired this corner beam.

Lovely, isn’t it? Makes us wonder what, other than a wish and a prayer, holds this place up.*
With all the damage fixed, Mr. Unreserved closed it back up with new 1x12s and covered the whole shebang with tar paper. Assuming we can find someone to sell us 6″ novelty lap siding, we will then side it. Yes, that’s not a typo. The siding on that portion of the house is narrower than the other.

There’s no pictures of that side of the fixed corner because I prudently took the camera inside. It looked like rain. I set it on the counter out of reach of children. Claire climbed up on the counter for the umpteenth time even though she knows better and accidentally knocked the camera in the dog’s water dish. I’m praying it dries out. I’m not happy.

And finally, I’ve avoided politics here up to this point. I’m not a fan of espousing my political views via a yard sign or on the back end of my car (though if that floats your boat, far be it from me to look askance) or on my blog. But I must say, all throughout this election season I firmly decided that I was voting for Obama. But then the past three days, the McCain campaign’s automated whatnots have called my house roughly three to five times a day. And lo! I have seen the light! I’ve completely reversed my political opinions in light of these constant phone calls! I’ll change my vote now – the phone calls have shown me the error of my ways!

Or not.

*Which reminds me of another digression – while the gutter guys were up above this section of the house on Friday, they asked if we knew anything about a fire in the house’s history. A small section of the back of the original structure appears to have burned at some point long ago, perhaps before the kitchen addition was built. We’ve got a pretty thorough accounting of the house’s history from the last owner, but no mention of a fire. I really wish these walls could talk.
. . . but I have to. I am thrilled to know that my daughters will grow up in a world where a black president is not only a possibility, seek but a fact. I love the fact that every successive generation is a little more open minded, a little more rational than the last.
I have faith that one day that this open-mindedness will apply also to complete acceptance of committed relationships between people regardless of gender. One baby-step at a time!

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