It’s like making a Giant Painting…

…overheard while eating chicken soup on a tuesday night…and the rest of the sentence was, ” but it takes three years of your life and a ton of money.”

Latest Zaitz Original!
Latest Zaitz Original!

Michael was referring to the renovation of White Church Gallery, specifically the altarpiece we’re working on.

The sides are the pillars.
The sides are the pillars.

This past weekend was all about putting some wood up on the front of the church. I started the ball rolling on Friday by pulling staples. It’s been awhile since I’d done it, and it seemed harder somehow than the last time. The staples were rusty and stubborn. It was the opposite of fun.

Ugly, ugly staples.
Ugly, ugly staples.

I had to clear the floor around the pillars, because work was about to commence on them. So I pulled staples and sanded around the front of the Church. Saturday morning, bright and early, we got to the church filled with eagerness and a bit of anxiousness. We’d been working on the wood planks for almost two months now, taking them from rough sawn planks all the way to the glorious art pieces they became. But now, after weeks and weeks of planning and plotting, we were finally going to see how the whole thing would look. Would it look as we intended- to be a glorious work of art? Or would it look like Dean Martin’s living room? (Actually- Dean Martin’s living room ain’t too bad!)

Owners: Dean Martin…Tom Jones…Nicolas Cage…then Citibank…
Owners: Dean Martin…Tom Jones…Nicolas Cage…then Citibank…

The first step was to do the bottom border. These border pieces came from giant planks of walnut.

Mitering needed!
Mitering needed!

This procedure took some hours, since it needed to be practically perfect. Level, fitted, and mitered.

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All went fairly smoothly; there was a rhythm of measuring thrice and cutting once.

Measure it one more time…
Measure it one more time…

And then it happened. A boo boo. A piece of walnut got cut too short. Red Alert, Emergency! Luckily we had a chunk of unprocessed walnut nearby. I ran it through the planer a few times, I jointed the edges, then did a quick but thorough sand job on it. It would have to be clear-coated in situ. But it looked fine, and work could continue.

All angles and edges…
All angles and edges…

Walnut is a VERY hard wood, but it keeps a nice edge.

Ah, mitered!
Ah, mitered!
Sweet! It all fits!
Sweet! It all fits!

Once the base was finished, we started on the upright pieces.

With a little help from our friends!
With a little help from our friends!

Thanks to Rybak’s owners Paul and Ann for burning the late night oil with us and getting the first layers of the altar piece up. It was grueling, exacting, tiring, but inspiring.

At last!!
At last!!

And so it goes…piece by piece, bevel by bevel. Screw by awkward screw. Awkward, because Mike had to screw each of the boards in from the back.

His arm had to fit through the space you see here at the side. And then somehow bend around enough to put pressure on the driver to screw into extremely hard wood from the back. (After drilling a pilot hole.)

There's not a lot of room behind!
There’s not a lot of room behind!

We had two different nail lengths depending on which wood it was going through. There was a lot of thought put into this! And it was exhausting work.

But we think it was worth it. Here’s the other side.

It looks better in person…
It looks better in person…

There are imperfections, and we’ll fix a few next time, but this represents so much effort that I hope it shows.

I had to take a selfie- and I think it’s my fave so far. Blurry, wrinkled eyes, weariness, but a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

Hey now!
Hey now!

The next morning, things still looked good, so we did a photo shoot.

The Artist
The Artist
And the apprentice!
And the apprentice!

Until we meet again!

 

– The White Church Gallery

 

 

 

Ode to an Arch

We’re working on the Arch.
It has served as a backdrop since we bought the church. This is how it first appeared:

Where's the Arch? December 2011
Where’s the Arch? December 2011

Removal of the dropped ceiling revealed:

Oh there is is!   February 2012
Oh there is is! February 2012

Yikes.

We tried to pretty it up!
Quaint it up with a rocker!  April 2012
Quaint it up with a rocker! April 2012
Yeah, I guess. It was temporary.
And as long as we’re in memory lane, when Mom turned 70, we dressed up the chaos and had a birthday party. Again, the Arch was the backdrop.
Good times,  July 2012!
Good times, July 2012!
I remember mopping that nasty floor with rainwater to try to get the worst of the ancient filth off. It sort of worked!
Pre Party Arch July, 2012
Pre Party Arch July, 2012
By December of 2012, It looked like this:
December, 2012 Chaos
December, 2012 Chaos
Then the fancy table was replaced with  picnic table. In case we wanted to have a picnic.
Uh, aren't picnics held outside? April, 2013
Uh, aren’t picnics held outside? April, 2013
Yes, so I we exchanged the picnic table for a bed! A futon, in case we got tired and had to nap, apparently.
Perfect place to take a nap! Ha! July, 2013
Perfect place to take a nap! Ha! July, 2013
Yeah, and as you can tell, we have a continual storage problem. We fixed the storage of the futon problem by finally getting rid of it. After three decades, it’s time to ditch the College Futon. Sniff.
Next came the Big Demolition, and we had a bare bones situation.
Uncovering the Arch! August, 2013
Uncovering the Arch! August, 2013
Later that same day – actually about 15 minutes later, we had this:
Hey now!
Hey now!
Closer inspection:
Naked Arch, August, 2013
Naked Arch, August, 2013
Behind those enormous planks is nature. Cool, raw nature.  These are truly the bones of the church. Which is fine for August, but by Fall.
The Church's long underwear! October, 2013
The Church’s long underwear! October, 2013
We needed some protection from the elements. Yes, it was a happy day!
Warmth!
Warmth!
Insulation by spray foaming. Next comes the drywall. And not soon after!
Later that same month, 2013
Later that same month, 2013
Drywall! Then Mike and Dad put up nailers on the arch in several death defying maneuvers.
Here’s Mike finishing up.
December 2013
December 2013
And then… a whole year went by… what happened to 2014? Well, there were ceilings to paint, floors to sand, trim to put up, caulk to stuff, windows to fix…
March 2014, Edge on Arch
March 2014, Edge on Arch
Sanding,  April 2014
Sanding, April 2014
The Arch also became a bit of an Art supporter.
September 2014
September 2014
And so it has been till this month, February of 2015. We keep rearranging and cleaning, trying to keep the Church work-wise. But we’re not done with the Gallery, so the art must go!
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And so, it’s February of the self-same year the White Church Gallery is set to open. 2015.YIKES!!!!

We need to pedal a little faster!

So now we have begun an art/science project.
I’m a scientist by nature, and Mike’s an artist. But he’s also an engineer, so that’s like a scientist. And I have a musical nature, so that’s artistic, right? Hence the art/science project that we are in the midst of. What to do with the arch!

Cherry and Pine. What say you?
Cherry and Pine. What say you?
This is only the beginning. As I type this, my soul mate is over yonder drawing up the arch on his CAD program and figuring out dimensions, beveling, and molding ideas. He’s trying to figure out how to make this arch a piece of art. There will be more to this story. Stay tuned.
– The White Church Gallery

Sand-tastic

The time has come to address the floor. It really contains the last of the remaining nastiness and crud from the past. Wanna help, boys?

"Pass!"    "What he said!"
“Pass!” “What he said!”
That’s OK. I wouldn’t want a cat tail to get caught in the machinery.
So we drove into Bad Axe to rent a couple of sanders: one big drum sander and the smaller edging sander. Neither of us had sanded a big floor before, so it was going to be an adventure. As usual!
Here it is after the first few swipes. This machine was pretty tame and easy to use.
That's the good point.
That’s the good point.
But it also left a lot of paint still on the wood.
That's the bad point.
That’s the bad point.
So we used it in conjunction with the edger. The difference in the ease of use was like the difference between holding on to a vacuum cleaner and holding on to the Tazmanian Devil!
Hey, it's like vacuuming! Over and over...
Hey, it’s like vacuuming! Over and over…
Hey, it's like holding on to a bronco's head! A mad bronco.
Hey, it’s like holding on to a bronco’s head! A mad bronco.
Well, it was a long and arduous task, but we made progress.
It's like mowing the lawn!
It’s like mowing the lawn!
Except the lawn is making an awful dust!
Except the lawn is making an awful dust!
It's like holding a tornado!
It’s like holding a tornado!
But it turned out to be the only thing that would dig in and get the last of the ancient paint/stain out.
 hours later...
hours later…
Wheels of grit
Wheels of grit
We went through some paper. We pay by the sheet, which messed with my thrifty mind. Changing the paper often makes the job much easier, but at $10 a sheet for the large sander and $4 for the small, it makes you think twice. I couldn’t help imagining strapping a ten dollar bill under the sander every time we changed the paper. But then after a few shifts on the bronco head, I would have paid more just to make it easier.
Sheets o' used paper
Sheets o’ used paper
Also, it took us awhile to remember that dust is an irritant.
That's why we bought masks!
That’s why we bought masks!
So back and forth we went, up and down the boards. And we progressed.
Ride 'im, Cowboy Mike!
Ride ‘im, Cowboy Mike!
I did take turns, but Cowboy Mike forgot to record it! We both were pooped at day’s end. But what a change! It was an exhausted but happy glow we had later that evening!
Ahh! Hard work pays off!
Ahh! Hard work pays off!
Yeah- and nothing good comes easy. And idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.

But it’s true…

Totally Worth It!
Totally Worth It!
Worth numb hands and sore shoulders?

uh,

YEAH!
YEAH!
Ignore the other-worldly looks, we’ll wear masks next time, promise!
– The White Church Gallery

Big Jobs in Small Places

It’s time to address the ceiling of the Church. Like any self-respecting church, it has a high ceiling made of wood and hard to reach. It’s old, stained, and has been the home of many a spider and fly over the years.

Dirty Ceiling!
Dirty Ceiling!

So our  initial job is to prime it with Kilz. As its name implies, Kilz will kill the stains, cover old odors and even roll over any spider nests still hanging around.

Kilz 2! Is that like Terminator 2?
Kilz 2! Is that like Terminator 2?

So let’s get to it. It’s cold outside in February, but the Geothermal heating system keeps us toasty inside.
The problem is the space. It’s kind of cramped up in the “attic.”

So far, so good...
So far, so good…

It was bound to happen.

What's bound to happen? It's just a second coat, even thought the first coat isn't quite dry...
What’s bound to happen? It’s just a second coat, even thought the first coat isn’t quite dry…

You’re bound to raise your head….

Oh...I get it.
Oh…I get it.

Premature white hair. Oh well, as long as I’m not alone!

Should I tell him? Naw...
Should I tell him? Naw…

We did manage to get some paint on the ceiling, and we were pleased with the results.

Kilz'd!
Kilz’d!

Mike went to work on the wall around the quatrefoil window. Big improvement!

Kilzzin' it!
Kilzzin’ it!

OK, enough wordplay with Kilz! Time to call it quits.

Hmm. It's better, but you can still see the cracks.
Hmm. It’s better, but you can still see the cracks.

The light was starting to dwindle, though the daylight lingered more than it did a month ago. Spring is coming. For me, spring means a lot of busy weekends either at church or school in SE Michigan, so it may be a while before I get back to this project.

Sunset!
Sunset!

But it’s never far from my heart!

Thank you, God!
Thank you, God!

– The White Church Gallery

 

Midwinter Jicker Boots

Midwinter Jicker. I looked it up. It’s not a real phrase, according to Scrabble and the dictionary, but I know it’s real because 1. I’m in it and 2. Lots of other people are too. Dr. Seuss knew about it- he made it up. It’s perfect. It’s the anomaly of weather at this time of year, and this one is a doozy. I wonder if you can use “doozy” in Scrabble. It’s cold, snowy, icy, frigid, unsafe, dry, unpleasant, dark, gloomy, never-ending and, dare I say, totally jickery.

Ways to deal with the jicker: 1. drink a lot. 2. eat a lot 3. buy boots.

Work Boot Splurge
Work Boot Splurge

Splurge is another good word, like jicker and doozy. But can you technically splurge when the boots are super-duper on sale? Above you see three newly waterproofed pairs of man-boots, and two pairs of, well, more man-boots in a smallish size. They fit me like a glove-boot.  I’ve been in the habit of wearing stupid things in a construction zone due to not having smart shoes to wear, so I finally decided to get some good, sturdy boots.  The ones I’m wearing are cushioned, yet ventilated, steel -toed, yet light at the same time.  Oxymoronic comfort. The matching pair of chestnut boots were just a coincidence. Mike had bought his three pair of bootage the weekend before at the now-closing Normans in Bad Axe. I bought mine the following weekend, not realizing it was the same boot. But how adorable- we can tramp around the church matching our little hearts out!

Matching flannel and tired expressions! Priceless!
Matching flannel and tired expressions! Priceless!

Of course my flannel is shot with silver glittery threads. I know you can’t see it in the photo, but you can see the black velvet collar. Looks great with caulk stuck to it.

Learning how to Caulk, feel like a rank beginner. Am a rank beginner.
Learning how to Caulk, feel like a rank beginner. Am a rank beginner.

Speaking of caulk, that’s what we’ve been spending our weekends playing with. And when I say playing, I mean getting up on a high ladder, balancing precariously, using bare fingers to stuff nasty dusty cracks in the church with a sticky, gooey and totally ornery substance while feeling like you’ve never been able to do anything right IN YOUR WHOLE PATHETIC LIFE because the caulk won’t stay put and starts dripping down onto your cute flannel shirt shot with silver thread and collared in velvet. You know, that kind of playing. Just the way to get through the Jicker.

"You're not SERIOUSLY taking a picture now?"
“You’re not SERIOUSLY taking a picture now?”

In case that sounds like way too much fun for a Sunday morning, I forgot to mention the enclosed spaces we’re working in…

Don't raise your hea.....OUCH!
Don’t raise your hea…..OUCH!

…and the scraping of cakes of crud, gobs of grime, and flakes of flotsam that will accompany the eventual (and looming) painting of the Ceiling. I capitalize it because I have a healthy respect for the Ceiling.  It’s vast, and may kill us or leave us writhing, at the very least.

"I wonder what the weather's like in the Bahamas today?"
“I wonder what the weather’s like in the Bahamas today?”
"Warm and Sunny, with probable comfort and pleasure in the forecast."
“Warm and Sunny, with probable comfort and pleasure in the forecast.”

 

Luckily Santa brought us bright blue gloves to brighten the Midwinter Jicker Dark Blues. Thanks Dad! I mean Santa!

I wonder what Nitrile is. Sounds explosive!
I wonder what Nitrile is. Sounds explosive!

Note the difference in fit of the glove between the box photo and my actual hand. It turned out to be more efficacious to use the bare hand when stuffing toothpaste back into the tube, which is the equivalent of what we were doing with the caulk. But the gloves are uber suave, and I used them with style.

"I'm crushing you!!"
“I’m crushing you!!”
Get thee in there, Caulk!
Get thee in there, Caulk!

So we got through most of both sides of the church in two weekends, not by killing ourselves, but by pacing ourselves. I think we’ve finally come to the conclusion that there’s no use in damaging yourself for something that is supposed to give you joy and be a good thing. No one wants bad Ju Ju in the church. Well, it might be too late for that, considering its history,  but it is an environment that, of any I’ve known, would be able to keep the Midwinter Jicker at bay. There is always some symbol of the beauty to come…

Lit from without, but soon lit from within.
Lit from without, but soon lit from within.

…and inspiration to keep us coming back weekend after cold, dry, dark weekend to make the church a place of beauty and inspiration for everyone. 

 

– The White Church Gallery

 

Visitors Bearing Gifts

A little backstory: I’m not from Michigan. I was born and raised in upstate NY, in a suburb of Rochester NY. I moved to Michigan to work at the Longway Planetarium in Flint, MI, after living in the NYC area for several years. I’ve been happily in Michigan around 15 years now, and the ONLY thing I regret about leaving NY is that I live 6 hours away from my parents!

They came for a visit. They arrived weary, since they both still work, but bearing gifts, as always! They brought Mike a saw. A very nice saw. I know it has a great name that explains its function, but I’ll just call it a saw. It moved in many, many dimensions, planes, and time zones, and Mike was delighted with it.

...and this knob extrudes macaroni...
…and this knob extrudes macaroni…
...but this one flattens out pizza dough and then takes you to 1985...
…but this one flattens out pizza dough and then takes you to 1985…

Ok, I’m making fun, but now I see the label- it’s a radial saw!

We let Mom and Dad sit down for 5 minutes, then we put them to work. We still had lots of work to do before drywalling could commence. So hi ho, hi ho, up on the scaffolding we go!

"Measure twice, cut once"
“Measure twice, cut once”

The wall at the front of the church wasn’t ready for drywall yet. Nailers (2x4s) had to be positioned so that there was something to nail the drywall into. There is an arch already built into the wall, but there was little to hang drywall on, so that was the day’s project. There was something for everyone to do.

How's the weather up there, Ma?
How’s the weather up there, Ma?
"Hey! Up here! Look up!"
“Hey! Up here! Look up!”

I definitely inherited my work ethic from them.  They haven’t slowed down much in the 46 years I’ve known them. Mom’s 71 and Dad’s 69 (it was his birthday!), and they work harder and better than most 30 year olds! Plus they are fun to have around. Dad has a great attitude and endless curiosity, and Mom and I are always up to hijinks. We both almost wet our pants trying to get a ladder out of the bathroom. It was definitely a Laurel and Hardy moment, but luckily I’m the cameraperson so there is no evidence of it!

"Put that camera down and fetch me a prybar!"
“Put that camera down and fetch me a prybar!”

This was an especially athletic moment for the men. You can’t see the full view, but Dad was hanging out in space like a child on a jungle gym.

"This doesn't feel like recess!"
“This doesn’t feel like recess!”

Honestly? I don’t remember him being in so much peril when I took the picture, but looking back, yikes!!

"I can't quite reach the nail..."
“I can’t quite reach the nail…”

But perseverance paid off, and the arch had its nailers!

P1010086

I know it’s hard to tell the difference, but Wayne, our drywaller, will be able to tell! He’s set to start work soon, and everything must be prepped and ready.

There was also a door that was to be walled over and had to be framed in.

Good bye door, hello wall...
Good bye door, hello wall…
Let's go get some ice cream!
Let’s go get some ice cream!

It was a busy and short weekend, and I was very sad to see them leave for NY on Monday morning, but before they left there was some time made for ice cream eating and cow-gazing. Dad and Mom grew up on farms in a little town near Hornell, NY, and Dad retains his love for the bovine race, as do I. So he and Mike stopped by our favorite magical cow pasture for some cow-eye candy!

Bovine Bliss
Bovine Bliss

Cow-gazing is relaxing!

Cow Contentment!
Cow Contentment!

We’re very, very lucky to have Mom and Dad! Thank you, God!

– The White Church Gallery

Repair, Restore, Remake

Those are comforting words. Repair: to fix what’s wrong. Restore: to bring back what once was. And when you can’t restore or repair, then remake! Do what you gotta do.

As you know if you’ve been following the story of the White Church Gallery, or perhaps better known to locals as the Grindstone City Methodist Church, the Church needs lots of love and tenderness. Even when tenderness means opening a can of whoop-ass on it.

Whoop whoop!
Whoop whoop!

Repair: One whole corner of the church had serious water damage. Time and tide had left a hole in the roof, allowed water to cascade down into the wall, and turned the support structure into a weird kind of wood-soup. Dry, chunky wood soup. That makes no sense, but when you grab a handful of it, it’s what comes to mind.

A year and a half ago, we thought it was artsy.
What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger...
What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger…
But it turned out to be rotten to the core.
'S gotta go!
‘S gotta go!
So once the plaster and lathe went, operations moved into the guts of the support system.
Well at least he's not a plumber...
Well at least he’s not a plumber…
By the way, the lathe had a glorious ending. At first, everyone wanted some lathe. “Good for starting fires” “I need some too!” “I’ll take some lathe.” Yet somehow I ended up with a giant pile of it.  Then it was all, “Get rid of the Lathe!” “It’s going to attract ‘coons  and skunks!” “Should have just put in the dumpster.” So I had to get rid of it. My pyromaniac tendencies won out in the end.
Lathe fire!
Lathe fire!
It was a good night of burning, bright hot fire, a little after-glow fire water, and lots of yuks…
blah blah yuk yuk...
blah blah yuk yuk…
Even the moonflower came out for some fun…
Up with the Moon!
Up with the Moon!
The morning after…
Burnt!
Burnt!
Scavenging square nails kept me busy…
P1010134
Stay tuned for what becomes of the nails…
What the HECK will I do with these?
What the HECK will I do with these?
So long story short, the floor got repaired.
Pollock Ingenuity!
Pollock Ingenuity!
Pollocks get things done. And how!
And then they sit around and talk about the glory days, even if it was literally thirty minutes ago!
"Remember when we repaired the floor in the southeast corner?"
“Remember when we repaired the floor in the southeast corner?”
So that’s the repair work. Restoring  came with the remaking. Remember (what I consider to be) the coolest feature of the church: the quatrefoil window?
Weather -beaten beauty.
Weather -beaten beauty.
With a little help from our (Amish) friends, it was remade.
Into this:
Remade!
Remade!
Stay tuned to see what happens next. Thinking- colored glass, to reflect the colors of the gospels. – The White Church Gallery

Scraping, Painting.

We’ve started painting the outside of the Church.

P1010022

The first investment was a “Paint Eater.”

The yellow device eats paint
The yellow device eats paint

Scrape, then paint. Scrape some more, then paint some more. Two coats of Sikkens white does the trick. You can hear the sucking sound as the old wood takes it in.

P1010033

Upward!

Scrape
Scrape

Pretty!

Paint
Paint

Now the north face…

Before
Before

P1010057

Scrape, paint, scrape, paint…

After
After

After two weekends, we made some serious progress…

After the first weekend
After the first weekend
And after the second weekend.
And after the second weekend.

I wish I could just photoshop the rest of it in! Notice we started low. It’s only going to get tougher as we ascend. But we can’t stop now!

Meanwhile the road is being prepped. Two years of gravel ,then it will get paved. Right now catch basins and drain pipes are being installed. $$ Yowch!

P1010263

Luckily it’s not a long, nor winding road!

P1010264

And the road will lead to our favorite place, White Church Gallery!

P1010074

– The White Church Gallery

Colonial Slate Grey

P1010082

That’s the color we picked for the enormous roof job on the Church. (It’s on the bottom left.) Scaffolding is up, weather is reasonable, and things are progressing.

P1010029

As you can see, the roof is rather steep, and the bell room especially so. I don’t envy anyone this job, but we have contracted the best around, Ron Picard.

P1010051

Stay tuned for updates!
Here’s the latest “investment” in grass care technology.
P1010003
Say “pretty please” and I’ll let you ride it!
PRETTY PLEASE???
WEE HOO!
WEE HOO!
How much fun I had mowing the lawn, only me and the dandelions will ever know!
We and our neighbors across the street split the cost and “elected” me chief lawn mower (because of me stuffing the ballot box!)
Over yonder, across Grindstone corners…
In Memorial, Grindstone City Pioneers, 1835-1938
In Memorial, Grindstone City Pioneers, 1835-1938
…activity revolves around wood!
OSB was laid in the top story of the barn, and wood will be dried there.
P1010049
Pat and Duane’s new puppy Millie helped!
Sniff sniff.. needs two years of drying, at least..ruff ruff...
Sniff sniff.. needs two years of drying, at least..ruff ruff…
Ok, let's let the wood dry in peace!
Ok, let’s let the wood dry in peace!
Nothing left to do but try out my new device! My incurably generous and thoughtful father sent me this in the mail! I think he found it on Ebay.
A Wool Cutter! With a foot pedal!
A Wool Cutter! With a foot pedal!
What is a wool cutter? In the world of rug-making, it is a device that cuts wool strips so you can hook them into the rug backing. I’ve been doing it by hand, which is  relaxing and fun to me, but this device is just too cute not to use, plus it cuts twice as fast! Some genius engineering husband of a crafty woman probably cobbled this together and used a motor with a worm gear to move the cutting heads.
Old method using fabric cutter and rusty square.
Old method using fabric cutter and rusty square.
It cuts two strips at a time, and straight!
It cuts two strips at a time, and straight!
Unfortunately, the (maybe not genius) husband of the woman for whom this device was made used a  metal worm gear with a vinyl plastic gear, and it wasn’t long before my fun turned to dismay as the metal ate into the plastic and it started to slip. I had stripped it a little. I had been warned not to use it until strong man hands tightened it up, but I couldn’t resist, and now I’ve gone and stripped the gear.
So back to the pizza-cutter method for now.
Strips of wood and wool, all to be made into useful helpful household objects.
P1010053
I hope the Pioneers of Grindstone City are looking down on us and smiling!

– The White Church Gallery