Sunday, August 06, 2006

first discoveries

We began work on the house yesterday. We worked outside for a brief time, my mom sawing down an unwanted fig tree which had intermingled with an ancient rose bush and me digging up a few of the many bricks scattered in the yard and piling them neatly next to the fence. It was after 2 pm and the temperature was soaring to its maximum of 103 so it wasn't long before we were overcome and had to retreat indoors. Thank goodness the air conditioner works!

I then began demolition of the kitchen, starting with the small built-in drawer & cupboards on one wall. There was a lot of termite damage to a vertical support which had been concealed by the trim around the door. It was old damage, like that of the joist under the kitchen floor that had been removed just the week before, and my main worry was how far up the damage extended. I found that whoever had constructed the cupboard had used corrugated cardboard for the sides of it. After the trim, shelves and cardboard were removed, I started on the wall. The top layer was a material not quite plaster and not quite drywall. It was about 1/4 inch thick, maybe less, and showed signs of at least 3 layers of paint: white, yellow and dark green. Under this plaster-like material I found the first layer of wallpaper; actually the last layer if you look at it from an archeological point of view. It was an unusual design, not too bad on the eyes, but what was peculiar was that it was apparently pasted to a burlap base made from flour and cornmeal bags. I guess this is how they attached wallpaper in the days before pre-pasted papers were available. Instead of scraping off the old wallpaper, which was probably a nearly impossible chore, folks would paste up a burlap bag so the next layer of paper would have something to adhere to.

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