Sunday, February 13, 2011

Soup, Footers and Craigslist Escapades

Wintertime is souptime, in my world.  Most days the crockpot is busily transforming the various ingredients loaded into the crock into a wonderfully savory soup.  Sometimes the soup is a thick, hearty concoction and sometimes it is a light, vegetable broth.  Always, when served alone or with bread, or sandwiches, it is a hit.

On Tuesday, the contractor who'd agreed to help us resurrect the old farmhouse, arrived to take a look at our work.  Joe and I had spent Mud Bowl Weekend, preparing the site so that the broken, rotted boards and the trash from the floor removal was out of the way, allowing the contractor to make a closer inspection of the challenge ahead.  He brought his wife along and she and I immediately hit it off.  She's a lovely woman, one who has spent the last 24 years of her life homeschooling their seven sons.  She homesteads, raising as much on their land as possible.  So we chatted about gardening, and raising chickens and goats.  We chatted about old houses and our preference to see the relics restored to decent living homes, rather than left to decay.  And she asked about my overalls.  Before they left, she had accepted a pair of the capri length overalls that had been included in my "10 pair lot" eBay purchase last year.  It seems she has been having trouble finding them in the thrift stores anymore.

After examining the house, the contractor was confident he could tackle the job.  We agreed he'd begin work Friday morning, after the "snow event," predicted for Wednesday, had the opportunity to clear out of the area.  Finally, finally, the old farmhouse was going to be moving toward a new set of beams and joists, with new piers supporting her, and with the ultimate goal of a sound and relatively level floor.....

Friday morning I heard the light knock on the garage side door.  On a conference call for work, earphone in my ear, I ran down the steps to meet him.  When I opened the door, he held out a box.  In the box were two quart jars of homemade soup, a loaf of homemade bread and a copy of Countryside magazine.  He explained that the box contained his lunch, prepared by his wife, and that he was to share it with us!  While the guys got to work on the digging of holes for cement, and the removal of even more rotten wood, I returned to my work, in the quiet of the garage apartment office.

Under Construction
Getting to Work
Old boards from House
Some three hours later, I headed down to the garage, where I set up a temporary dining area.  The Craigslist table and chairs we'd bought in December were called into duty, and, in just a few minutes spent moving boxes and other items out of the way, the table was set, ready for the three of us to enjoy lunch.

Garage Diner

Soup's On
Over the delicious soup and bread meal, we talked about the project, and I can honestly say this guy is just as eager for this to succeed as we are.  He has performed similar renovation work on his mother-in-law's house and on his aunt's house. We discussed different options, and by the time we'd had our fill, we'd come up with some good plans for the next steps in the house project.  After lunch, I returned to the "office" and they to the house, and thus it went until nightfall.  When he left after the first day on the job there was already visible progress being made.

Jack Supporting Failed Beam
Saturday he returned -- his little box truck, that is his rolling workshop, loaded down with 20 80-lb bags of cement.  While I ran back and forth to the pond house, doing laundry, running errands, doing yardwork at the pond house, the guys dug seven more holes, into which they poured cement.  These will become the footers for the new piers upon which this old structure will eventually rest.  Gigantic roots from the giant sycamore tree, roots which ran under the house, had to be cut to accommodate the new footings.  It is AMAZING the amount of water that pumps out of tree roots... seriously amazing.

Digging Holes for Cement Water Filling From Tree Roots
Saturday lunch was, once again, shared in the make-shift garage diner -- this time it was my crockpot soup with store-bought bread.  Again, it was a most pleasant meal, with lively conversation.  We each had second helpings, and were quite full when we got up from the table.  And then it was back to the job.  By the time he left Saturday, after dark, all of the new footings for the front room had been poured.  Tuesday, when he is scheduled to return, he will tackle the kitchen/dining area footings.  The place now is beginning to look more like a construction zone than the demolition zone it has been for the past few months.

Bags of Cement on Front Porch
Mixing Cement and Filling Holes
Old Brick from Failed Piers
I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks and the transformation of the old farmhouse.  Of course, as these things have a tendency to do, the possibilities of what "could be" are expanding the scope of the project, but I really feel we've got the right guy for the job.

Pouring Cement in the Holes

Old Timbers from the House
This afternoon we took it easy.  We took advantage of the beautiful weather, and spent the afternoon following up on Craigslist inquiries.  By the end of the afternoon we had met several very interesting individuals, and agreed to purchase some odd items, but items which will help us in our construction. Some of our stops were more of the heartbreak that is this economic climate.  The photo below was taken at yet another house being foreclosed.  The owner lost her husband almost a year ago in an automobile accident... now she is losing the home they had been renovating together for eight years...

Beautiful Home of Another Victim of Foreclosure
The last stop on our Craigslist journey was to pick up a four drawer filing cabinet.  We arrived at the house of the sellers to find they were an 85 year old woman and her 57 year old daughter.  Before we left with our filing cabinet, we'd brought in a HEAVY new T.V. they'd just purchased, and set it up, moving their old HEAVY T.V. to the front room; we'd learned that the daughter and I had been at FSU during the same years, she working on her Master's degree, I on my undergraduate degree; and we had agreed to return later in the week, bringing them MY two drawer filing cabinet... As it turned out, we exchanged no money on this transaction, rather, exchanging items.  Interesting folks we have met in our Craigslist escapades!

Sunset Started as We Were Leaving Our
Final CraigsList Encounter of the Day
It was a busy week, for us.  We met some nice people and made some headway on the house.  And tonight, when we returned home, we had a nice bowl of soup...with bread and butter... a perfect ending to pretty decent week.


Sharon said...

Soup is always good, in my book. Don't you just love the crock pots?

Glad you seem to have found just the fellow to work on this part of the house! Yep, The sap goes down in the winter!

I can see where people are losing houses - the lending institutions can't keep the right books and so many mortgages are being taken over from the lenders that went belly up! I ordered a new payment book and it's STILL not here!

Keep us in the loop, have a nice Valentines Day, and maybe Spring will be here before you know it!

Gorges Smythe said...

You can't go wrong with soup and bread. And it DOES sound like you got the right contractor. Good job at bartering!

Feral Female said...

I just love soup in the winter! Have a wonderful Valentine`s Day!

Louise said...

Crock pot soup is one of my most favorite things. It hits the spot like nothing else (except maybe chili) in the winter time.

Your work looks to be progressing nicely. I'm glad you found this guy because it sounds like he will care about the job that he is doing, and it will be a good job, that will last.

Chris said...

Judy, you guys are amazing!! Is there anything you won't tackle? Glad you had some good weather right now. The soup looks delicious!