2014! and Love News

This is a bit of a love letter to 2014. It was a busy year! But a lovely one. And only good things to come in 2015.

Love is Patient, Love is Kind...
Love is Patient, Love is Kind…
Love is a doggie named Thomas!
Love is a doggie named Thomas!

The Church will be open by June. How do we know?
How could we possibly be open in 5! Five! 5! months?
With a punch list a country mile long?
Because we have a wedding to get ready for!
Coming in June: a June Wedding. The daughter of a close friend wants to be wed in the old country Church, and it will be our excitement and pleasure to prepare the aisles.
Hey everyone, grab a tool and let’s get bizzy!

This'll do!
This’ll do!

With the exception of the water tanks going in the floor, most of the very large objectives have been met.

Let’s review: 2014 started out with good cheer and lots of ambition.

Happy New Year!
Happy New Year!

It was also one of the most brutal winters I can ever remember.

Frosted window panes.
Frosted window panes.

Sub zero temps, snow snow snow. Six snow days from school, three of them at the end of Christmas break. We hunkered down.

Some members of the household are permanently hunkered down!
Some members of the household are permanently hunkered down!

Luckily the geothermal heating system made the Church snug for comfortable working.
So we did trim work. That meant caulk, and lots of it.

Caulk Love!
Caulk Love!
"I'm in a tight spot"
“I’m in a tight spot”

There was lots for everyone to do.
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We hit it hard almost every weekend.

Painting the ceiling…
Painting the ceiling…
Sanding the floors…
Sanding the floors…

This one about did us in. We didn’t plan it this way, but after the big sanding effort, we took a bit of hiatus. We still worked, but the giant exhausting efforts were put on hold for the rest of the summer…

We'll have her in ship shape, no worries, mateys! (Ignore the mess!) (arrr…)
We’ll have her in ship shape, no worries, mateys! (Ignore the mess!) (arrr…)

We did have visitors and fun. Speaking of the upcoming nuptials, here are the parents of the bride checking out the status of the church.

We also worked on other projects back in our home and our cottage. Projects to make the rest of our life away from the Church a little nicer.
When we bought our house in Royal Oak, the entire place was paneled and featured dropped ceilings. We gutted, drywalled and painted the entire place with one exception: there was one room that didn’t get the treatment. That was 12 years ago.
We kind of dug the panelling, at least enough to keep it for 12 years. Plus it was a spare room, and we used it as a walk in closet.

Groovy, yah?
Groovy, yah?

Not really, so … grab the primer and paint, time to get busy!

Lavendar Love!
Lavendar Love!

“Little” projects like this don’t seem to phase us much after working on the Church. We are a pretty well oiled machine.

Meanwhile, back in Grindstone City, new road was being laid down. What a difference it makes.

Asphalt Love!
Asphalt Love!

Trees were planted as well. Some day they will be mighty. Right now they are mini!

Maple Love
Maple Love

Meanwhile, on the human front, there were patent awards given out.

Number 4  and counting…
Number 4 and counting…

Graduations accomplished.

My cousin, the Vet!
My cousin, the Vet!

And weddings held.

Sweetest couple ever: Uncle Joe and Lori
Sweetest couple ever: Uncle Joe and Lori

Whew! What a year.

Of course there was more, but I’m behind in my posts, so onward, 2015! And we’ll see more such celebrations and renovations, to be sure.

White Church Gallery Love!
White Church Gallery Love!
– 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

It Ain’t Easy!

So what’s been going on this week? Let me show you, and you can guess…

??? Is it Art???
??? Is it Art???
Holes and conduit! And shavings!
Holes and conduit! And shavings!

Darn, you guessed it! The Church is being wired. Now that the plaster and lathe is gone, we can wire the walls for electricity before we add insulation and close her up with drywall. Outlets under the windows and in front! The ceiling had already been wired, but now the walls are good to go. Well almost…

Holy Rotted Wood, Batman!
Holy Rotted Wood, Batman!

Of course, in renovation, as in life, nothing is ever easy, and there were disaster areas that needed to be tended to before we can even think “Spray Foam!”

Who better to attend to them? Grindstone Mike, of course!

How'm I going to make this better?
How’m I going to make this better?

With a little help from a friend, of course. Camera-shy ice cream magnate Paul Fisher helped out, but it’s a bigger job than just weekend will allow time and energy for, especially after such a grueling work week and last week’s adventure to NY State for a lovely wedding.

Me, Mike, Dad and Mom
Me, Mike, Dad and Mom

Time spent with the folks is always special, and seeing relatives is always a hoot, but the 10 hours in the car each way was a little hard on the nerves tushie!

I did take a day this week to go hiking in Crescent Beach State Park. Summer has flown by, as is usually does, and for me teaching school starts very soon, both High School and College. So I took a day to “goof off” in this lovely setting, only 15 minutes from Port Austin, MI.

"Let's take a walk!"
“Let’s take a walk!”
Moss mountain!
Moss mountain!
Dunes and waves.
Dunes and waves.
"Look how magical!"
“Look how magical!”
Ahhhhhhh...
Ahhhhhhh…

I’m selfishly posting these so I can look back and remember how wonderful it was and to keep me breathing during the long season ahead of working all week, renovating all weekend. Poor Grindstone Mike has been doing this all along, but that’s why he’s Grindstone Mike. Tough and gritty, but keeps everyone near him sharp too.

"It ain't easy being green!"
“It ain’t easy being green!”

– The White Church Gallery

Uncovering the Window

For as many years as can be remembered by the living, there has been a red circle with a white cross in the front of the Church.

000_0428

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Here’s the story of the uncovering of the Quatrefoil window.

First light was quite exciting!

Now you see it,
Now you see it,
Now you don't!
Now you don’t!

I couldn’t take pictures of bringing the window down since I was holding the lowering rope! But she is down, and ready to be loved. It’s not clear yet whether she will be restored or will become a museum piece. She’s in rough shape.

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Most of the glass was intact, but in order to repair the window, all the glass had to come out. That meant all the brittle glazing had to be picked out. I did the best I could, but it became apparent that the glass was really not worth saving in this case. Yes, it was old and original, but we think the reason it was covered it because it’s too fragile for the westerly weather it had to take. So new glass will have to be made for it.

Antique brittle glazing + dry rotted wood = bye bye glass.
Antique brittle glazing + dry rotted wood = bye bye glass.

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I did manage to remove the center glass without mishap. And never fear, I saved most of the pieces for the future. I’m sure a project will arise that will call for antique warbly glass.

The bones.
The bones.

Exciting!

Meanwhile, the other window is coming along…

Primer
Primer
Nice sanding job!
Nice sanding job!

We’re still debating colors, so stay tuned…

– The White Church Gallery

Summer plans

So what’s going on at the Church this season? After the heating/cooling system went in, we had to huddle down, replenish the coffers, and plan the next step. After much thought and prayer, it became clear that we need more…space! Yes, the church is big and beautiful, but when we take out the plaster, insulate the walls and replace them, the church will have to be emptied. Where will we put everything? Where will we have work space? Where?

Where? In here?
Where? In here?

In the new addition! Yes, an addition. That’s the plan.

Commence the scraping!

New driveway!
New driveway!
Back yard. The addition will connect to the back of the church.
Back yard. The addition will connect to the back of the church.
Lumpy!
Lumpy!

So the landscape around the church is a little shaggy right now. But it’s in the name of progress. The side yard is still feeling the effects of having Geothermal pipes installed deep into it.

Rocky!
Rocky!

But what about the church? Remember our beautiful antique glass windows?

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We don’t want them to fall out, so we are going to take them out, one by one, and strip and reglaze them. There are 10 big windows, plus the one over the door, plus the secret special quatrefoil window behind the white cross in the red circle.
Whew let’s get started!
Church without its glasses!
Church without its glasses!
They are in pretty rough shape, especially the ones facing the weather- westward.
Paint and glazing must go!
Paint and glazing must go!
It was our first window, and we knew it was a matter of time before the first pane got broken. But who would do it, and how would it happen? The tension was thick.
Finally, one of us heard a sickening crrrackkkk and it was done. Chipping away at the hardened brittle glazing didn’t do it, but putting pressure on the glass with your knuckles will crack it.
lower right ...
lower right …
At least the worst was over. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we couldn’t make an omelet without cracking a little glass, and moved on with our lives.
Thanks to some advice and tools from Grindstone Corners very own Paul Fisher, proprietor of the newly opened, highly successful Rybaks Ice Cream Store, I used a heat gun on the glazing and paint which softened it enough to allow gentler scraping and chipping.
The man responsible for the immaculate restoration of Captain Peer's building. He knows which end of a heat gun to grab!
The man responsible for the immaculate restoration of Captain Peer’s building.
He knows which end of a heat gun to grab!
So I chipped away at the glazing, Mike worked with the sander. Sanding worked wonders, as well!
"I bet these windows haven't been touched since they were installed..."
“I bet these windows haven’t been touched since they were installed…”
It’s possible, but I bet they took them out when they moved the building in the early 1900s.
It took a fair share of effort to get the glass out of the windows, and I didn’t even want to try with the little diamond shaped top piece – it was way too intricate and delicate, but once the others were out, and with only that one breakage, we all drew a sigh of relief. It will take time and effort, but we can do it! The windows can come back to life!
Sand man!
Sand man!
But for now, Church is winking!
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She’s still so very pretty!

– The White Church Gallery

Ah aHHHH

That’s supposed to be angels singing. It’s the sound we hear (and usually make) when we look up and gaze at the new arch.

Can you hear them singing?
Can you hear them singing?

Ron Picard Builders has done it again.

Remember before?

All rectangles and no view
All rectangles and no view

Where’s the beautiful window above the door? And what will we do with that long, short window to the right? How about arches, said Captain Ron.

Ok, said Grindstone Mike, and cut through the plaster. That was a hard, messy job, but someone had to do it!

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Then came the new supports.

Amazing!
Amazing!

Next the drywall, after wetting it and BENDING it- who knew it would bend so far? Ron did!

You missed a spot...or no?
You missed a spot…or no?
Mike and Ron wet it and bend it...
Mike and Ron wet it and bend it…

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Next, the bead board. Nice touch boys.

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And the finish!

Ron and son Josh putting some back into it!
Ron and son Josh putting some back into it!

And so, before…

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and after…

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Ah aHHH!
Ah aHHH!

– The White Church Gallery

Fore and Aft

This project is all about Before and After. Progress. Taking a decrepit, aging old church, a church that no one has  much cared about for decades, and stopping the decay. Restoring what was, and possibly making it even better.

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For us, one of the most exciting things to see was the restoration of the bell house. We had been dying to see the bell itself, to try to get a clue about the age of the church.

1882! The bell says 1882!
1882! The bell says 1882!

The Precious Bell House. It needed a facelift. Thanks to Ron and crew, it got one!

Beee fore...
Beee fore…
Ahhhh fter!
Ahhhh fter!

The bell house is the crowning glory of the church, but even more important for the life of the building is the repair of the roof. It’s big, steep and in quite bad shape.

North side roof, you go first.

Before
Before
After
After
After the North side was done, Ron Picard and his crew moved on to the Bell house, as you saw. Then they moved on to the South side. I climbed up with camera in pocket to see the view.
First the tiles get peeled off.
First the tiles get peeled off.
Then comes the OSB over the old planking.
Then comes the OSB over the old planking.
Whoa! Don't look down!
Whoa! Don’t look down!

We have a new appreciation for what Ron and Crew are doing up there!

Be careful up there!
Be careful up there!

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We had to leave before he was finished, so we can look forward to seeing it complete next weekend, weather willing!Very exciting!But even more has been done.

– The White Church Gallery

The Cross

The Old Rugged Cross
The Old Rugged Cross

Not much big lifting went on in the Church this weekend. But we did some fine inspection of various beloved features, including what lies behind the cross.

And I don’t mean the incredible and humbling story of Jesus being crucified for our sins. I mean the quatrefoil with intact glass, for the most part. Not quite as awesome, but still of great interest to us.

One little crack in the glass!
One little crack in the glass!

Unfortunately, the structure of wood holding the glass is less than intact.

Bottom of the framing
Bottom of the framing

So up on the ladder he did climb.

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We both really wanted to let the light through-  even for a moment, but the structure was too fragile and we didn’t want to take the chance of glass breaking. For now, it’s still covered. But it’s quite a nice view from up there! We could almost see the sunlight streaming in through the window.

"Photons of Sunlight" view
“Photons of Sunlight” view

There was some drywalling going on. The plaster had cracked and fallen off in spots, so that had to be cut out and patched.

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It will be plastered and painted.

Further scrutiny revealed other places that need tender love and care, A.K.A. crafty carpentry.

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But the fine wood work will have to wait. The big ticket item this coming week will be the roof. We all agree that the roof needs instant attention.

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I can’t wait for the “after” pictures. That little chimney will be gone, as well, but the new wood stove pipe will appear.

I did have a chance for some quiet time. In fact, most of Sunny Saturday was spent working on Pysanki eggs for easter. I had some great ideas this year.

looks good on paper...
looks good on paper…
not bad for drawing on an egg...
not bad for drawing on an egg…
OK, this should work...
OK, this should work…
Hmm... how to I make the waves blue?
Hmm… how to I make the waves blue?
ACK! This is NOT what I had intended! What caused all those leaky black marks? Is it the wax or the dye? Also, blue + red does NOT equal dark blue. It equals CRAP!
ACK! This is NOT what I had intended! What caused all those leaky black marks? Is it the wax or the dye? Also, blue + red does NOT equal dark blue. It equals CRAP!

Oh well, better luck next year, I guess. I don’t really want to wait a year though, I want to try again NOW! But easter and spring break are over, and there’s nearly two more months of school left, so I will have to ponder my mistakes and try again when I can.

I did finish the egg for the Royal Oak First United Methodist Church, (ROFUM) where I became a member this past Sunday. Again, the egg didn’t turn out like I planned, but it marked the occasion.

This was supposed to be the logo, but I couldn't figure out the acorn brown and oak leaf green.
This was supposed to be the logo, but I couldn’t figure out the acorn brown and oak leaf green.
I'm a ROFUM now!
I’m a ROFUM now!

I wore Methodist red, and Mike came to cheer me on! We broke our ascetic Lenten fast with some Polish sausage, banana bread, Stella  Artois and a butter lamb. It was a lovely Easter!

Happy Easter!!
Happy Easter!!

– The White Church Gallery

Snow!

It snowed!
It snowed!

We were all set for the wood stove install, but snowy weather put the kibosh on it.

Rusty stove pipe!
Rusty stove pipe!

So we spent the time nesting, enjoying the feel of this wonderful place.

Sunlight, shadow, spirit...
Sunlight, shadow, spirit…
Cleaning, chatting...
Cleaning, chatting…
Planning, plotting, putting things in their place.
Planning, plotting, putting things in their place.

One thing we wanted to know: what’s the date on the church bell?

dis'll do...
dis’ll do…

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Unfortunately, only a contortionist could get up there, so the date of the church still remains a mystery. I poured through information at the Port Austin library, and we’ve got the historical books  by the Port Austin Historical Society, but there are conflicting reports. One says the church was built and moved in 1902, but that doesn’t make sense. Why would it have been built and moved the same year? We know it was moved. Some maps have the church closer to Eagle Bay in 1900. We know there was a Presbyterian church but it had burned. There was also a Baptist church according to one account. We did find a 2×4 that was burned on the end; apparently after the fires of 1871 and 1881, folks used whatever lumber they could to rebuild. So it could have been built after 1871 or 1881.  Many churches like it were built around that time.

If anyone has information, I’d love to hear it! Drop me a line.

Church!

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Meanwhile back at the cottage, a peaceful afternoon rolls by.

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– The White Church Gallery

Arches!

I wonder what’s going on at the Church?

Church at Dusk
Church at Dusk
Outside, it looks warm and cozy, lit and lively.
Inside, there’s much work being done.
The arches have been cut. Rumor has it that it was difficult and messy work.
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000_0390
000_0396
000_0403
It’s hard doing all the work AND the photography!
So as the smoke clears (really plaster dust and lathe mist) we have a pair of arches.
000_0408
What a difference!
WOW!
WOW!
This church is amazing, and we are so blessed to be a part of its journey!
Church at dark.
Church at dark.

– The White Church Gallery