Yes, the weekend ritual, with small variations, is to get through the work week, discuss plans, throw a bunch of stuff in the truck, toss the dog in and point the Chevy toward the N. Pole.
We stop at the end of M-53, where this long road meets the Lake. Sometimes it feels like the N. Pole.
I must point out that every weekend, without fail, I toss my knitting bag into the vehicle we’re driving. And every weekend, without fail, it makes the trip back untouched, unloved and undone.
But I have eternal optimism that the green yarn you see there will be made into the blanket/hat/whatevah. Ha!
Not when there is a metric ton of wood to be processed!
For most of February and now into March, we’ve been processing wood. Pine, Maple, Cherry and Walnut. It sounds good enough to eat!
We had rough sawn wood.
I tried the best I could to capture the gorgeous natural beauty of the wood, but I failed. The wood is more awesome than my camera shows. But it all had to be processed; the wild ends where living pulp meets bark had to go.
The first step is to plane the wood. That means to shave off layers of the rough sawn jaggedness and leave a smooth, hopefully straight edge. The wood basically came from the tree!
The planer is a device that is:
1. Really loud
2. Really cool
3. Really slow
When we first started planing, we stuck the whole plank through. That was hard. And kinda dumb. We learned… better to cut it to length first, then push it through.
You KNOW there’s going to be gratuitous puppy shots now, right? Thomas has integrated deeply into our lives. I’m not sure how he’ll do once we open the gallery- Mini Dachsunds are traditionally shy with strangers. But we’ll see…
Meanwhile, there’s the wood.
Mike was at the feeding end of the planer, but I was at the fed-out end. I’m sure there’s a better name for it, but I’ll just call it the magical end. Because it was truly magic. Every time a plank went through the planer, more breathtaking views came out.
I don’t have many pictures of this process because I was busy holding wood! It takes focus!
And this doesn’t do it justice, but you can kind of see that bits are being revealed! (I might have gotten yelled at for taking pictures rather than focussing!)
I also have pictures of the process of figuring out how to do this in the first place:
And pictures of using the jointer. Jointing is when you make the edges of the boards flat. But it also can plane the wide face of the board. It’s fun!
You will notice the ear protection. I’m teaching about sound waves in Physics during my week-day job, and I’m blathering on to my students about how delicate the ear mechanisms are. And then I prove how old I am by giving them a frequency test. I only make it to 14 Kilohertz. The under-21’s hear into the much higher frequencies. I remind them that they, too, will get old one day and that perhaps they shouldn’t turn their ear pods up to full blast. They, of course, ignore my advice as only a 17 year old can!
I took breaks to do some testing. Hey, I’m a scientist! How will the wood look with different stains. I needed to know. So I set up a lab and testing began!
Turns out, we decided to go with clear coat. With this fine grained, dense, rich wood grain, clear seemed to be the way to let the beauty though.
I recently had a conversation with a lovely woman I met while out shopping for mid-century furniture in Berkley, MI. Somehow we got on the conversation of renovation and we quickly connected about our feelings of confidence when it came to approaching a project. She had painted a brownstone. I had painted a church. The bottom line was that after doing a large project, we felt able to snap our fingers at the small stuff. Like scraping and painting the garage, for example.
During the week, I stay downstate to keep Mike company and to take care of issues around the house. And he “lets” me. He’s very supportive in this! A few years ago (pre-church, namely!) he might not have felt comfortable leaving me alone with a power washer, a scraper and gallons of primer and paint. Anything could go wrong in the hands of a rookie. Now, he dashes off to work with barely a twitch when I tell him I’ll be re-landscaping the yard and painting the garage this week.
Now, the landscaping did cause a few scrapes, especially when I got my finger literally caught between a rock and a hard place (cement!) That brought a little mist to my eyes, but I walked it off and carried on like a big girl.
Casualty: one purple fingernail that will probably not realize old age.
But totally worth it!
OK, maybe I’m feeling a little over-confident, but it’s better than sitting on my butt afraid to dig in. BTW, that green thing is a rain barrel. It’s not the most attractive thing but it sure is handy if you have flowers and a garden.
So what has all this to do with the church? Well, it’s been over two and a half years of work, and there’s more to go.
Every Friday, with few exceptions, we hop in our cars and head north. We get there with some project in mind. Most of the projects are things that neither of us had done before, at least on this scale. Mike owned a former department store turned studio/living space in Flint so he had some experience with heavy renovation, but I had none. The only thing I had going for me was ignorance and a sense of adventure…and the fact that both Mike and I have lifted weights and done yoga since we were young. Keeping our bodies strong certainly has helped, though age and gravity have taken a toll on our comfort levels.
So here I am, glazing a window in situ. I had spent a few hours scraping the window with a brush and a metal scraper, and I had painted the window frame and the outside frame white. Mike had calculated that we spent over 60 HPW (hours per window!) on the front windows by taking them out, sanding them to remove the paint, carefully picking out all the hardened brittle glazing, gingerly taking out the glass, painting, reinstalling the glass and re-pointing it, re-glazing and painting more coats. Meanwhile Mike had to cut out plywood “windows” to install over the hole while the real windows were out, and they had to be screwed in and caulked, and then deinstalled, etc. It was VERY time consuming.
That’s a lot of HPW! So we decided to do the windows a different way. I was able to scrape, paint and reglaze this window in one afternoon. An hour into the scraping, I was doubtful, mainly because my shoulders were sassing me about the fact that I had been scraping paint all week at the garage and they could use a break from awkward repetitive motions. But after a spell of listening to Jimmie Rogers (think cowboy yodeling!) I gave my body a stern talking to and it settled down into a more peaceful place. I actually was able to enjoy the process, and my doubts vanished. Meanwhile, Mike was working inside and had sanded, filled holes and painted TWO windows in the same amount of time. He had no doubts!
Mike did a beautiful job, but it’s really hard to see, both in photography and in person, since there is so much light coming in through the windows. I should have gotten an evening shot, but we were too pooped by then!
Our in situ methods saved us approximately 50 hpw, since we both spent about five hours on our respective projects. Sure, it’s not quite as thorough as the other method, but there are seven more windows to do, and other projects that are a-waiting. I think it’s a great trade off, since the windows are weather-tight and look great.
So what’s the moral of the story? I guess I’m trying to convey a little of what I’ve learned from this adventure; mainly that there’s no sense in being afraid to try things. This church had gone back to nature when we found it. It’s amazing how one little hole in a roof can open the door to nature’s full fury in the guise of rotted wood, raccoon shanty towns, cracked and crumbling plaster and more. We really couldn’t have harmed it more than neglect had already done. Step by step, with a lot of help, but also with a lot of work ethic, we have gutted and scraped and sanded and painted and installed our way into a sense of confidence. Perhaps it comes naturally for men; how else could the Brooklyn Bridge and the Pyramids have been built? But for me, it’s been a great learning experience and a great confidence builder. I didn’t foresee this aspect of our adventure, but I’m very grateful for it. I think Mike is too, especially when he sees the fruits of my labor!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Of course there were some adventures along the way.
Pilot holes had been drilled, but the wood was pretty dry, so it cracked. But practice makes perfect, and we did practice!
And the Mastermind behind it all…
…had a very special event to go to, so time to get 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
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.
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.
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.”
It was bound to happen.
You’re bound to raise your head….
Premature white hair. Oh well, as long as I’m not alone!
We did manage to get some paint on the ceiling, and we were pleased with the results.
Mike went to work on the wall around the quatrefoil window. Big improvement!
OK, enough wordplay with Kilz! Time to call it quits.
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.
It was another Sunday Morning session with the white pasty substances. Using Fast and Final spackle is almost like frosting a cupcake. Here, let me show you!
I recently made cupcakes in the colors of stars: orange-red stars are cool small stars, and blue stars are hot and bright. Our Sun is there in the middle. The Main Sequence is the result of the relationship between color, temperature and lifetime of stars.
I had fun making them, and I thought spackling and caulking would be just like that!
I didn’t have to frost the cupcakes on my side, in piles of dust and spider webs, trying to stuff “frosting” into cracks upside down. Darn gravity!
Eventually this will all be painted over, and realistically, no one will ever rest their eyes on this part of the building, but there is a sense of satisfaction knowing that it is done and done right, or as right as rookie me can get it.
Meanwhile, Grindstone Mike was working on the quatrefoil window frame. Sanding and caulking was the order of business.
We also put up trim between the ceiling and the wall along the back of the church with toe molding.
We angle- cut the molding so the pieces would fit nicely against each other and be held in. I’m learning a lot about how buildings are put together. I ask a lot of questions, but luckily Mike is very smart and knows the answers.
I’m good with it!
So up the ladder with all the tools and materials.
And wah lah, the finished product. Again, will anyone ever notice? Probably not, but they’d notice if it WASN’T done, so it must be done!
Another cold, dry, windy Sunday in Grindstone City. Another chunk of work done. But as Shakespeare said, “Things won are done, joy’s soul lies in the doing.” So we are feeling joyful!
But it is done, and it was kinda fun! We’re learning a lot, trying to enjoy ourselves, and imagining the finished project. A beautiful church, an art gallery filled with gorgeous and thought–provoking art in many different media, lots of light and color and love!