More looking back… Scary pictures, recycling and repurposing

Messes quote
Here’s our front doorway shortly after remodeling commenced. There’s no actual door on it at this point; it’s been removed so we could rake the debris out more easily. We started upstairs and worked our way down, so climbing the steps meant navigating this avalanche of plaster, lath and nails.

Last time I showed you pictures of our house before we bought it, and told the story about how that event came to pass (the purchasing of an abandoned house that was not for sale).

These days, Remodeling, Recycling, Reusing, Repurposing is all the rage. The internet is fairly bursting with websites and blogs full of ideas to facilitate this useful phenomenon. However, back in the late 1980’s, keeping old crummy stuff around was not so cool. It was something us poor people did until we could afford new stuff. Or, instead of buying new, we took old, crummy things, and FIXED THEM so they were nice and new again. At least that was the idea. And it was a very messy process that we are still surviving to this very day.

The first step in fixing the old house on the hill was the messiest. We tore out all the original plaster and lath. The wiring was ruined, the plumbing was ruined, and there was not a crumb of insulation in any of the walls. Laying the studs bare was the best way to gain access to install new wiring and plumbing, and to insulate against the cold. Every single room had a chimney and a (leaking) stovepipe opening. I can’t imagine the amount of firewood the previous residents used to stay warm.

House remodel stairwell
Here’s the stairwell, looking down from upstairs. Just beyond Rob is the front door, and to the right of his head is a big piece of wallpaper hanging down. The house had been empty for so many years that the paint and wallpaper had started to fairly melt off of the walls. It was a surreal, cave-like atmosphere at first. I have very few photos, though, remember – we had to make this liveable in just 30 days, so there was no time to stand around taking pictures.

So… while we were newlyweds, childless career people who could only look forward to the days where our Remodeling, Recycling, Reusing, Repurposing would finally be behind us, little did we know that we’d one day give birth to a son who would willingly start the process. All. Over. Again. SMH <— that’s “Shaking My Head”.

Jordan truck collage©
Jordan was just little when Dad pulled this 1952 Ford F1 out of the barn for the two of them to restore together. Mom’s idea of a youngster’s first ride being one he worked hard to restore, thus causing him to drive safely, was well intentioned but also set him on the path of a serial restorer.

Now, my parents are partly to blame on this one. Most grandparents load the grandkids up with sugar and send them home with a stash of annoying toys. Not my folks. Our kid came home with grease under his fingernails and a carburetor in pieces in a box.

Jordan and Dad restored a 1952 F1 together, that was to be Jordan’s first truck. It turned out great and he learned a lot. So he bought another one and restored that. And along the way he learned which parts are coveted and valuable, so he bought MORE trucks, some just for the parts, others to restore. Rob and I watched in horror – as our own parents must have as they watched us 20-some years ago – when we were in our youth and spending all our time and money fixing up an unwanted old house on the hill.

Most people’s pictures before the prom include a pretty backdrop, like a park or someone’s well-groomed yard. Not Jordan’s. His old trucks always got in on the act. This one’s named Fred after the man who rescued it from the crusher.

Rob and I continued to watch as our son’s obsession with Remodeling/Repairing, Recycling, Reusing, Repurposing gained momentum. Though we couldn’t much criticize as he’d inherited some of the thriftiness from his parents.

Jordan’s three fourths of the way to securing his engineering degree at Purdue University, but he’s already got a PhD in Junk Management and Logistics. This particular acquisition is the result of careful negotiations with parties in at least three central Indiana locations. It includes outdoor furnishings, building materials, automotive components, appliances and previously used beverage containers.

PARK sign TruckWhen Jordan graduated from high school, and we held a reception here on the farm. Our driveway is H-shaped, with multiple parking spots next to the house and the warehouse. But we wanted our guests to park out back so the front didn’t get congested. The dilemma was figuring out to block the front drive with some sort of un-missable sign telling them to go to on to the back. How about an old truck? He had several to choose from, this one fit the bill nicely.

Rolling Turd Recycling LogoRob and I have grown tired of all this solving and fixing. We’re so very ready for it to be done – it will be wonderful once the next repair dilemma is much further out on the horizon. We’ve occasionally been less than supportive of our son’s zest for the old and crummy. His fond relationship with the rusty ’86 F250 Ford pickup is one we just can’t fathom, so he takes a lot of flak from us and his friends for harboring this as his ride of choice when he has much better options on hand. He was less than appreciative when I created (at no charge) this lovely logo for Truck 1 in his Recycling Fleet. What better mascot than a dung beetle to symbolize the collecting of the most unwanted detritus and turning it into something valuable? I thought it was brilliant, Jordan was NOT amused.

At the end of each day, though, I try to keep it all in perspective. As Max Ehrmann says in his verse Desiderata:

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.

And that it is.

House sunset Warner Meme
This lovely photo was taken on the eve of one of the worst winters we’ve endured in recent memory. Subzero temps, deep snow, and howling wind; this one had it all. After a day spent clearing snow (you can see it is already starting to drift back across the driveway) weary shovelers were rewarded with this spectacular sunset.

Want to see what happens next?

Fun on the Farm Part 1 is here

The Epic Mess of Fixing the Fireplace is here

Tearing Down an Old Barn to Repurpose the Timbers in the house is here

The adventure of utilizing the first few timbers as a Fireplace Mantle is here

Utilizing more timbers in a big room upstairs – Of Trials and Strong Backs is here

No One Will Ever See It – an Adventure In Remodeling is here

We are still not finished, but you can see “The Aftermath” of one barn beam project here

Sometimes you have to look back… at scary pictures here


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