Looking for a Sign

Look no further. Here’s the sign.

Well, maybe we should get out of the way?
Well, maybe we should get out of the way?

I know it’s hard to tell I was being literal, because if you’ve been following our progress, you know that we try to heed the “signs” that the Maker puts in front of us. We try to listen to Him and get out of our own way as much as we thick-headed humans can.

The Sign!
The Sign!

But this sign is metal and plastic, and it should last a good long time. The art is Mike’s, and we love the colors and composition. Most people seem to agree!

Before the sign could go up, preparations had to be made.

I'm prepping as fast as I can...
I’m prepping as fast as I can…

The painting of the outside of the church is an ongoing process, and I stifled my discouragement when I inspected the painted portion from just last year. It could use a touch up already! We’re using a more expensive Sikkens paint because it’s thicker and really soaks into the wood.  But the winter was brutal, and the bugs are ubiquitous.

Entering the realm of the spiders and wasps!
Entering the realm of the spiders and wasps!

As I was painting, my “brothers in height” (Mike, my husband and Paul Fisher, of Rybak’s) were across the way having their own adventure at Rybak’s Ice Cream Store.
The back portion of the building has to be addressed, and for this job, no skimpy ladder propped precariously against ancient wood slick with spider silk and squashed bug juice would do. They called in the heavy machinery.

What's this?
What’s this?

The name says it all.

No women allowed?
No women allowed?

Nope! Women get the aforementioned ladder. This is a MANLIFT!

Lifted Men! Having fun!
Lifted Men! Having fun!

Well, I know that working that high in the air has its moments of doubt, but from my perspective it sure looked fun.

This ain't no party...
This ain’t no party…

 

Thanks, David Byrne. Meanwhile, back at the cottage…

And for something completely different..
And for something completely different..
It’s good to know that it’s nap time somewhere in the world.
Back to the Church. After the paint dried, the sign went up. Construction of the frame took place first, of course.
Measure twice, cut once.
Measure twice, cut once.
The frame was cleverly constructed to allow contraction and expansion of the sign. Thanks to Paul Adams of Goats Graphix in Bad Axe, MI, we have a beautiful sign that will last far into the future. We were very impressed with Paul’s work and will no doubt be using him in the future.
The bottom piece of wood is gone now...
The bottom piece of wood is gone now…
So come on over to Grindstone Corners, grab a yummy ice cream at Rybak’s Ice Cream Store, and check out the White Church Gallery!
Opening Summer 2015!
Opening Summer 2015!
But don’t come too close, or I’ll rope you into helping me paint…
Just kidding- we'll get you a cold drink and sit in the shade!
Just kidding- we’ll get you a cold drink and sit in the shade!
– The White Church Gallery

Follow the Lights!

Every May, my birthday rolls around. And every May, my beloved husband finds something sweet and amazing to surprise me with.

It wasn't these...
It wasn’t these…

These beauties were the by-product of his search for the perfect gift from Craigslist! He did find an amazing little piece of furniture for me but it’s for home, not the church, though it does have quatrefoils on it.

We had been looking for light sconces for some time, and our search had schooled us in the prices and quality we were likely to find.
These had been polished.
These had been polished.
We knew they were neither cheap, nor easy to find in quantity. So it was with utter amazement that he found this set of five doubles and two singles. All for one low price.
Score!
Score!
Yes, they will need some love, both aesthetically and electrically. Someone had wire-wheeled some of the metal. I used Brasso and elbow grease on the one on the left, and it has a very different tone than the polished one on the right. But I will figure out how to make them match, never fear! They will be a beautiful addition of light to the Church!

Meanwhile, the protective plywood came off the front windows, and the front of the Church saw first light, again.
All closed up.
All closed up.
One eye open...
One eye open…
And the other…
Who's that in the window?
Who’s that in the window?
Why, it’s Grindstone Mike, putting the final touches on the paint.
Soon it will be time for dinner. How’s it going, Dr. Fisher, of the Institute of Barbeque Grills?
Oh it'll just take 15 more minutes...
Oh it’ll just take 15 more minutes…
Right! Well, we’ll check back in 20…
Painting.
Painting.
The windows look just great!
ust a few more to go...;)
ust a few more to go…;)
They sure do let the light in!
Meanwhile…
Assistance from a guest!
Assistance from a guest!
And so it took a few hours, but the lads were able to find all the right places for all the right parts, and we did dine on burgers and dogs. Our first grilling in Grindstone Corners!
Yay-Be-Que!
Yay-Be-Que!
Let’s light it!
– The White Church Gallery

Looking Down the Road

You know the road that leads from M-25 to Grindstone Corners, our little neck of the woods? It was a dirt and gravel road.

Our Little Piece of Heaven, and a dirt road.
Our Little Piece of Heaven, and a dirt road.
Rybak's Ice Cream Store and a dirt road.
Rybak’s Ice Cream Store and a dirt road.

Yes, that’s definitely dirt and gravel.

Dirt roads are...dirty.
Dirt roads are…dirty.

Bring on the asphalt, please!

You can even call it ASH-phalt, I don't care!
You can even call it ASH-phalt, I don’t care!

Mmm you can smell the progress!

Yeah, that smell is tar.
Yeah, that smell is tar.
It's definitely a Kodak moment for us all!
It’s definitely a Kodak moment for us all!

Now that Rybak’s Ice Cream store is open again, Grindstone Corners has come alive. Ann Fisher is the proprietress of this historic and delicious establishment, and people come from all over for the high quality ice cream, the pleasant surroundings and the friendly atmosphere.

GC- corner of Rouse and Copeland roads.
GC- corner of Rouse and Copeland roads.

Not sure why the church icon is out in the lake, but it’s pretty cute anyway. OMG! The FISH in Grindstone city are as big as a HOUSE!!!

Rybak’s isn’t on the old map, but it is the place to hang this summer.

We all scream for ice cream!
We all scream for ice cream!

Come on up- the people are warm and the ice cream is cold, and the road is PAVED!

P1010008

– The White Church Gallery

 

Glazing Over

P1010063

The Church has had its eyes shut for a few months. We took in the windows for repair and reglazing. We started by sanding down the old wood and giving them a few new coats of paint.

Red on the Outside,
Red on the Outside,
Brown on the Inside.
Brown on the Inside.

To keep the inside weather separate from the outside weather, we needed to glaze the windows. Glazing is when you put a special glazing putty on the inside edges and smooth it down.

I got the job!

I've got the gloves for it!
I’ve got the gloves for it!

But I had to be schooled first. Dr. Paul Fisher of the Institute for Glazing Old Windows gave me a tutorial. First take a glob of glaze. Then roll it out like a long snake. Then stuff it in the corners with your big Polish fingers.

Well I don’t have big Polish fingers, so I had to use several smaller fingers.

Roll and Stuff.
Roll and Stuff.

It looks a bit like someone stuffed their old gum into the windows. But there is a tool that takes the lumps and bumps out and gives it an edge.

De-lumped
De-lumped
I used it.
Of course, if the edges of the window aren’t smooth and sharp,  the tool that uses the edge as a guide isn’t able to make a nice straight line.
Uhh...maybe some paint will help!
Uhh…maybe some paint will help!
Yes, the paint did help. After I painted, I had to scrape the excess paint off the glass and clean the glass.
At last, we were finally able to install a window!
New wood inserts to keep it all snug.
New wood inserts to keep it all snug.
Of course there were some adventures along the way.
Whups.
Whups.
Pilot holes had been drilled, but the wood was pretty dry, so it cracked. But practice makes perfect, and we did practice!
Perfect!
Perfect!
And the Mastermind behind it all…
Pilot holes, baby.
Pilot holes, baby.
…had a very special event to go to, so time to get cleaned up!
Cleaned up!
Cleaned up!
Patent #4, and counting. Fancy-schmancy dinner in Rochester, MI. Mr. Zaitz receives his patent plaque and some very nice words. Mrs. Zaitz receives a delicious dinner and a big helping of gratefulness that she hitched her horse to this guy’s post
– The White Church Gallery

Floored Part II

Last week in our exciting episode of “Let’s Renovate an Old Church in Our Spare Time” we left halfway done with the floors. So what was it like to go back at it the following weekend?

It was awesome. It was like getting back on the horse, after you had fallen and broken all the tender bits on your body!

The Stage is set for more work...
The Stage is set for more work…

And work it was.

Plug and play!
Plug and play!

When we finished last weekend, it felt like we might be halfway done. Or even more!

Nope.

Lots more to love.
Lots more to love.

But it won’t get done by wishing, so let’s get started!

First we used the large sander. Last week we had the drum sander, but we wanted to try the circular one. It had about the same effect. It took off the top layers a little quicker than the drum sander, but it was a lot trickier to handle. If you tried to steer it,  it had a tendency to spin off into its own circular spasm of cyclonic motion, taking the handler with it. But if you got all zen with it and let it do its thing, it would drift along in a cloud of dust and swirl its way down the planks.

Swirly
Swirly
Gettin Zen widdit.
Gettin Zen widdit.

But to really finish the job, the Bronco had to be engaged.

Engaging the Bronco
Engaging the Bronco

You can see the difference.

Bronco Mike and his Bulging Biceps!
Bronco Mike and his Bulging Biceps!
Viva La Difference!
Viva La Difference!

And so it went. Circular swirls and Bronco bucking.

Next thing you know,

Are we done yet?
Are we done yet?

Yeah, we got done. But did I get a shot of it?

Not really, so this will have to do.

Dunzo.
Dunzo.

 

– The White Church Gallery

 

Drywall!

I’ve been in the habit of bolting out of school on fridays and driving north. I say goodbye to the Astronomy Club kids, hop in the car and drive two hours in the waning but magnificent burnt orange sunlight ’til I make my way to Grindstone Corners! I get to the church with some pent up energy and literally run around like a kid.

I know, no running on ladders...in a skirt!
I know, no running on ladders…in a skirt!

Mike arrives after me, since he has to stay later at his job. So on this particular day, I got to see it first.

See what?
See what?
See the new drywall, of course!
What does it look like? Well, I knew that Mike’s jaw would drop when he saw, so I had the camera ready when he arrived.
Let me indulge myself by showing you a happy person!
Hi Hunny! Notice anything different?
Hi Hunny! Notice anything different?
Ye aulde dropped jawe...
Ye aulde dropped jawe…
DANG! What a difference!
DANG! What a difference!
So I don’t have any nice, Pinterest-worthy photos of what new drywall looks like, but here’s what I do have:
North side of Church
North side of Church
before...
before…
...and after.
…and after.
And the south side of the Church.
And the south side of the Church.
DRYWALL!
DRYWALL!
Wayne and son came back on Saturday to do some mudding. It was the cutest thing; Wayne up on  the scaffold slapping down drywall mud, and son pushing the scaffold along!
Before you know it, the team had finished up, and we had walls!
Awesome!
Awesome!
Stucco-finish paint next. Color choice will be an intense decision. Stay tuned!

– 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

Progress Isn’t Pretty

I’m going to be showing a lot of pictures of progress. Progress is not always pretty. But it is exciting, and the fact that these pictures show giant steps in the progress of White Church Gallery is extra-exciting, if such a state of being exists.

'Bout to get extra-excited!
‘Bout to get extra-excited!

Some things that were never meant to be seen by the general public are actually quite pretty. Women’s underwear can be very fancy, and I’ve seen shiny engines under the hood of a car that should be hanging on the wall as art.

Fanciness.
Fanciness.

The church’s underwear-engine is the spray foam. But it’s not all that pretty. It’s more like flannel underwear than silk.

After the plaster and lathe was taken out, the church was looking a little bare-bones.
After the plaster and lathe was taken out, the church was looking a little bare-bones.
You could see daylight through some of the planks.
So we had it spray foamed. Here’s a messy before and after…
Messy before...
Messy before…
Messy after!
Messy after!
But the Church is as snug as a bug in a rug! No breezes blowing through the walls now! No weird smells coming from the ancient wood. It just feels different in here!
Spray foamed walls.
Spray foamed walls.
The Wine Room! Cozy!
The Wine Room! Cozy!
Windows aren't insulated...yet!
Windows aren’t insulated…yet!
So what is spray foam? Why not the old school pink fiberglass? Here’s what I got from Wikipedia:
Spray foam insulation saves on energy costs and lowers utility bills. Studies by the US department of Energy show that 40% of a home's energy is lost as the result of air infiltration through the walls, windows and doorways. Buildings treated with spray foam insulation typically insulate as much as 50% better than traditional insulation products.
Spray foam insulation saves on energy costs and lowers utility bills. Studies by the US department of Energy show that 40% of a home’s energy is lost as the result of air infiltration through the walls, windows and doorways. Buildings treated with spray foam insulation typically insulate as much as 50% better than traditional insulation products.
It’s got a higher R-value than most other insulators. That means it’s cozier, comfier, and just better. To me it looks like a cake that was frosted! To cold air it looks like a inpenetrable blanket.

The next layer on the cake is the drywall. I’ve been asked why we got rid of the old plaster and lathe, and why we didn’t replace it with the same.We got rid of the old plaster because we really needed to insulate the church, and spray foaming was the way to go. So the plaster had to go, so that the spray foam could get where it needed to go.

We are trying to do this project right. The Church was built with loving hands over 100 years ago, and it has lasted this long, even though it fell into disuse (and possibly misuse) in the meantime. We’d like it to last at least another 100, long after we’re gone. We put a new roof on to prevent further decay. We added an economical and earth-friendly heating/cooling system, Geothermal. [Spoiler alert] We put in a septic system!  And someday the Church will have water! (and with water and septic come a bathroom!) So we are spending the money and effort now to make sure the Church will survive into the next century.
As far as what we’ll replace it with, it’s an economical and aesthetic matter. We’re using drywall, but we will be using a paint that has a stucco finish, so it will actually retain some of the look of the original plaster, without being as heavy and expensive as plaster and lathe.

So, it’s a work in progress, a little messy at times, but we’re always working toward making it better!

And it's all ours!
And it’s all ours!

– The White Church Gallery

A Few Additions…

It’s the busy season at the Church. Summer was right for hanging out at the Ice Cream Store, shooting the breeze and eating ice cream.

Sittin' and Chattin'
Sittin’ and Chattin’

But Fall hath come, and worker bees are swarming the church ready to make some sweet, sweet honey. Sweet and fresh as the wild honey the bee gathers on the moor. (Anyone get the reference?)

(Where Honey = Finished Church)
(Where Honey = Finished Church)
But before we get to the big changes, I need to catch up.

So let’s go back a week or so when a back door was added. We needed a second exit, so a hole was cut and a giant door was inserted. Here it is!

Big giant metal door.
Big giant metal door.

Another added feature is a bathroom. The Church never had water or septic, so we’ve been using the handy but rented Port-a-John just outside the front door. But winter’s a-coming and it’s time to move the operation indoors. The bathroom will have its own lovely window for viewing. Not sure how we’ll deal with that yet…

Potty room! No peeking!
Potty room! No peeking!

It also features a very high ceiling and will sport a very heavy and old marble sink.

High, ceiling!
High, ceiling!
It'll be pretty once it's cleaned up! Trust me!
It’ll be pretty once it’s cleaned up! Trust me!

The toilet will be new. The septic tank will be new. The water tanks that will hold our potable water will be new. Meanwhile, back at Fort McMahon (the cottage in Port Austin) the sinks and toilets were thick with hair. Since both Mike and I have long hair, the drains get clogged with amazing regularity. So here we are spending 15 minutes at the Walmart shopping for a plunger. We’ve got that kind of time!

"I like the black one,  it feels thicker than the pink one..."
“I like the black one, it feels thicker than the pink one…”

Really, we have to break ourselves away from the church to take care of other business, and it’s not easy. But when one hears directly from God to finish the church, one must obey! Other stuff can and will have to wait.

So back to the Church. We’ve had a lot of prep work to do. We’d already had the plaster and lathe removed, and the electrical is mostly all installed. But there were still pockets of aged filth, ductwork that needed to be moved, and just all kind of nasty little jobs that had to be done.
High work...
High work…
And low work...
And low work…
I went up high to remove the last of the nails and dust and animal leavings. Mike went low to wriggle around in the dirt of the crawl space. This blog doesn’t come with smell-o-vision, but perhaps you can imagine the aroma of damp, aged, lived-in dirt under a 120 year old church. I was lucky to get the other job since rolling in the dirt is not my idea of fun! Poor Mike always gets the dirty jobs!
The church has a crawl space. The story as we know it is that the church was originally built about a quarter mile away on Carrie lane! It was moved to its present spot around 1902.
Crawl space? Who wants to crawl around down there?
Crawl space? Who wants to crawl around down there?
Working all week, and then working all weekend makes a body tired. Here we are after our respective adventures. High or low, it’s most likely Bud-O-clock.
Weary, but satisfied with a job well done!
Weary, but satisfied with a job well done!

– 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