Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Ruins We Toil To Rear

Our works decay and disappear
but God's gentlest works stay looking down
on the ruins we toil to rear.
-Walter Smith

In researching this old place, I recently came across this aerial photo. It's undated, but I can tell it's from several years back: trees are smaller or stand in places they no longer stand... the house is a different color... landscaping is different. I intend to show this photo to longtime neighbors and get their best guesses on the year it was taken. But look! The path! There it is, uncovered. I'm glad, for some reason, that we found the path before the photo. The discovery is half the fun.

Speaking of fun discoveries, a worker found an old, beautifully written pie recipe in the kitchen wall. I intend to frame and display it. The recipe was found as we removed the kitchen cabinets and gutted the room to reveal the original floor plan (and original hardwood plank floor!). That 3 AM leak the night before we moved in uncovered a history of water damage, corroded pipes, and compromised lower cabinets. As it turns out, some were rotted. Others were nailed shut. One had a petrified rat in the back. (I wasn't in the room for that one, but I heard the grown man scream when he found it. Ugh. It makes me shudder even now.) We stood and discussed only for as long as it took to determine that most of the cabinets would need to be rebuilt or reinforced, and at that, I made the call to pull them. We saved what we could for other areas/projects.

As disconcerting as it was at first, the total kitchen gut has made me excited about the prospect of incorporating an attic find into the rebuilt/restored kitchen. While snooping around upstairs, we found heavy, carved wooden pieces. Huge. Heavy. The carvings and shape match the original carved pieces of molding above the front door and that hutch built into the corner of the dining room. I'm excited to discover their original purpose (window cornices, maybe?) and find a place for them in the house once again. 

I'm still working in the library/study today, and hope to have the painting finished tomorrow. I'll show you soon. Ah, the ruins we toil to rear. For as long as ever, I've wanted a dark, brooding, leather and book sitting room/library to curl up and read in... or to send the men off to once dinner is over and the women want to chat in private. This little room off the dining room is perfect for both. Pictures tell me that the room hasn't been used as a bedroom, at least not in recent days, and the previous owners used it for storage. I can't wait to see it become usable living space again, especially as a European-looking study!

I need to stop typing and start painting. Guess I'll get back on the ladder now. Enjoy your day, and we'll talk soon.  -Brin


FlowerLady Lorraine said...

It is neat that you found the path 'before' you found the picture.

What a great find in the wall and framing the pie recipe is going to be a nice little project for artwork in your kitchen.

You guys sure have a lot of work to do and I thank you for taking the time to post as you go along.


Durf said...

Brin, you have no idea how fun it is to read this stuff! I love blogs that go into detail about their newly purchased homes. I guess it's somewhat fortuitous that the pipes leaked - now you can get the kitchen you want!

I remember pictures of your library in your former house - a very pretty darkish green.

Heidi said...

I so enjoy reading this unfold. Can't wait to hear about more finds!

KathyB. said...

You've written in such a way that I was hoping for a mystery novel to unfold, and in a way, it is the beginning of a mystery novel about your mystery home and your quest for answers. I'll stay tuned !

Patsy from Illinois said...

What a great find you have in that picture. Sorry about the kitchen cabinets. But your new kitchen will be great I am sure. Dead rat. Ugh.

Betty said...

A written pie recipe is a fun find. I'm glad you will be displaying it, Brin. And the treasures in your attic..awesome. I'm following along as you discover different things in your new home..thanks for sharing the details!

Anonymous said...

You're pinning a lot of baby items to your Pinterest. Any plans for a nursery in your house????!!!

Brin said...

Ooooh. Afraid not. My brother and sister-in-law are expecting a baby this fall and I'm going to be an aunt. :)

Michelle said...

I get so excited when I find a new post from you about your home. I love reading about it! Thanks for sharing your adventure with us. It inspires me to keep moving forward on my home, one little step at a time. :)
What kind of pie recipe was it?

sherry said...

treasures.. always a good thing!
decomposed vermin? not so much.
enjoying the journey. :)

Sue Neitzel said...

This is so exciting, you can't post soon enough for me!

Terri Steffes said...

Those photos were popular in the 1950s. Both my grandparents and great grandparents had them taken then. I love seeing them and yours is no exception! I love the thought of a dark and brooding library with a leather chair...can't wait to see it.

Gail said...

Yes Brin, just like Kathy said you need to write mystery novels. You have the talent to breathe life into stories that draw people in. You never know Brin, all the paths in your life may be what leads to successful novels. I have every confidence it would be a great read.

Cindy Brick said...

I had a customer who was renovating her home in Sparta, MI -- and had a newspaper quilt pattern waft out of the wall, and land at her feet.

Yes, she was a quilter. And the (deceased) lady who lived in the house before was also a quilter.

My customer thought "Lucy" had done it on purpose -- and still hung around now and then. (One of her hobbies seemed to be shutting the cat up in the bathroom. Maybe she didn't like cats.)

The pattern was "Economy," also known as "Garden of Eden," from the Kansas City Star syndicated series. I think it was Forties era...

Anonymous said...

My husband and I have been married 40+ years and have bought only 1 site built house. This was back in the mid 1970s and the house was old then. We never did learn when the original part of the house was built, but someone (and I can't remember now who it was) showed me an aerial photo of our block which was taken in 1916. That part of Oklahoma hadn't been settled for a long time but even so, our house didn't look like new construction in the picture.

It seemed such an odd thing. Airplanes couldn't have been common there and aerial photographs must've been rare, too.

We only lived there about 4 years and sold it when we moved away for my husband to return to college while he still had G.I. Bill funds available. The house and several others on the block are gone now, sacrificed to progress.

Just found your new posts today and am so glad you're back.