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.
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!
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.
It was also one of the most brutal winters I can ever remember.
Sub zero temps, snow snow snow. Six snow days from school, three of them at the end of Christmas break. We 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.
There was lots for everyone to do.
We hit it hard almost every weekend.
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 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.
Not really, so … grab the primer and paint, time to get busy!
“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.
Trees were planted as well. Some day they will be mighty. Right now they are mini!
Meanwhile, on the human front, there were patent awards given out.
And weddings held.
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.
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 time has come to address the floor. It really contains the last of the remaining nastiness and crud from the past. Wanna help, boys?
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.
But it also left a lot of paint still on the wood.
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!
Well, it was a long and arduous task, but we made progress.
But it turned out to be the only thing that would dig in and get the last of the ancient paint/stain out.
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.
Also, it took us awhile to remember that dust is an irritant.
So back and forth we went, up and down the boards. And we progressed.
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!
Yeah- and nothing good comes easy. And idle hands are the Devil’s workshop.
But it’s true…
Worth numb hands and sore shoulders?
Ignore the other-worldly looks, we’ll wear masks next time, promise!
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.
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 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!
So I don’t have any nice, Pinterest-worthy photos of what new drywall looks like, but here’s what I do have:
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!
Stucco-finish paint next. Color choice will be an intense decision. Stay tuned!
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.
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.
But it turned out to be rotten to the core.
So once the plaster and lathe went, operations moved into the guts of the support system.
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.
It was a good night of burning, bright hot fire, a little after-glow fire water, and lots of yuks…
Even the moonflower came out for some fun…
The morning after…
Scavenging square nails kept me busy…
Stay tuned for what becomes of the nails…
So long story short, the floor got repaired.
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!
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?
With a little help from our (Amish) friends, it was remade.
Stay tuned to see what happens next. Thinking- colored glass, to reflect the colors of the gospels. – The White Church Gallery
So what’s been going on this week? Let me show you, and you can guess…
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
Well, technically the Church is still in Grindstone City, Michigan, but the landscape has changed.
Early in the summer, I was excited to mow the church plot of land with the John Deere.
Then came the Big Heat! By the Party in late July, little green was left… except for the army green Party tent!
And then the road came in. First step in having a paved road:
So we’re still in Grindstone landscape, albeit slightly modified.
Then comes the Heat! As summer wanes to fall and then rushes into winter, the need for heat becomes real. The steamy hot hot summer becomes icy windy cold cold winter!So we pried open our wallets and went with Geothermal heat. B and D were our contractors.
First, we’ll need more electricity. Dig ‘er up, boys…
Then come the pipes, underground, of course!
Dig ‘er up, boys…
Here’s the theory:
Here’s the reality:
And the unit. This is what takes the warmth from the ground and transfers it to the church’s environment. Likewise, in the summer it will take the cooler-ness of the earth and pump it back into the Church. The difference in temps will be made up by the electrical part of the unit, but heating from 55 (earth temp) to 65 is better than heating from 0 (air temp) to 65! That’s the theory.
And though I thought about it for awhile, this is the best I could do to show you what heat looks like!!
The season of summer slid right into fall, and still we are scraping and painting. I personally find scraping to be fairly therapeutic. I guess the boys think I need this therapy because they let me do it! With no interference.
Now since I am the author of this recorded history, I will not come out and say that I did most of the work this particular day. People might think that I’m biased. Instead, I will let the pictures speak for me.
But to be honest, we couldn’t have gotten to the “next level” without the help of the scaffold; planned, gotten and set up by the menfolk. Without it, we couldn’t have done this:
And then there was the break in the action of the Annual Amazing Kinde Polka Fest.
Every year for seven years the families of Kevin Wiley (owner of the Kinde Pasta House) Paul Fisher (owner of Grindstone’s Rybak’s Ice Cream opening spring of 2013) and Gerald Prill have enlisted the help of lots of local sponsors to put on the Thumb’s most amazing Polka Festival.
Everyone’s Polish tonight!
This awesome band played at Paul Fisher’s daughter’s wedding this summer, and they were back even more energetic, if that’s possible. Three daughters on the fiddle, Dad and young son on the accordian, and other family members rounding out the group. So much fun!
I didn’t steal the Kishka, cause I’m not even sure what it is, but I did steal a kiss from my Polish hubby!
Whether we’re working on the church
or Polka-ing our butts off,
We’re a great team, and surrounded by a community of hard working, hard playing folks. What more could you ask for?
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.
Unfortunately, the structure of wood holding the glass is less than intact.
So up on the ladder he did climb.
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.
There was some drywalling going on. The plaster had cracked and fallen off in spots, so that had to be cut out and patched.
It will be plastered and painted.
Further scrutiny revealed other places that need tender love and care, A.K.A. crafty carpentry.
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.
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.
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.