Bob & Ellen's Excellent Adventure

Black Sheep Tower House

Eating the Elephant, One Bite at a Time

March 23, 2021 For some reason, today I was inspired to start cleaning the “great room”, which was so completely overwhelming that we have worked on almost everything else in the house besides this! Here I was, alone. Here this task was, HUGE. As they say…. you have to eat the elephant one bite at a time. But where to start??

Well, the entryway by the front doors was a small space and seemed like a good first bite. There is a half wall behind some sheets of various wood, but it was hard to see or visualize how it was supposed to look. Also, there is a closet as you walk into the main room from the entryway. I thought I would take some of the bigger leftover plywood and lean it against the inside walls of the closet to simulate real walls, since you currently can see right through the stud walls. This also involved a lot of sweeping up of dead stinkbugs, ladybugs, bits of old pink insulation and years-old, desiccated animal droppings… I armed myself with an old broom and dustpan, leather work gloves, blue latex gloves, and a face mask – I am allergic to dust (and pollen, etc.), and who wants to breathe in dried mouse poop! Some things I am deciding not to move for practical reasons, for example the trash can of scrap siding is destined for a dumpster, which will likely be nearby, just outside the front doors!

Here is the after version, swept and the half wall visible from the front door side, and also from the view going down the stairs. It was framed like this when we bought the house, although the original plans called for shelves. We like this because it lets natural light down into the very tall stairway to the basement/garage level, but also – see the framed square on the wall across the stairwell? That is the main floor half bath, which is an interior room with no windows and currently opens into the “media room” . We speculate this was intentional as a light source but have no idea what the plan was…. we are thinking arty glass blocks, or even stained glass…. and with some type of pendant light in the stairwell…. it could look very cool.

Feeling good about this, BUT take a look around the corner to see the grand scope of the problem! This is a damn big elephant!

There are several challenges here: How to identify and sort all this random stuff, where to put it, and how to clean it….. Looking around, it was really hard to identify a starting place, because once you pick something up, you have to put it down somewhere else, and that place should be swept and cleaned first, but everything is filthy and cluttered… so it is like a weird Moebius Strip… or at least in my brain!

I started in two places and sort of worked them concurrently. I started moving the ugly blue insulation remnants into the closet, along with large pieces of lumber and panels that could stand up against the interior closet walls. Every time I cleared a small floor space, I swept up the detritus, so I could at least walk there! I had an idea to move the longest wood boards and the very long aluminum channel against that wall (so we wouldn’t be tripping over it all the time). That is the only place long enough for that one channel which is currently angled across the floor, but things needed to moved out of the way first… and it all needed to be swept (SO many acorns!!).

I also decided to clear out the crap under the stairs. My goal was to put it with some other bins of crap already along the north facing wall of windows. I found some empty bins in the garage (dirty of course but I picked the cleanest), brought them up, and started sorting things by topic – painting things, electrical bits, wires of all types, plumbing bits, metal fittings, random stuff I had no clue – and dragging the bins to the side wall, and sweeping as I went. Good thing I had a lot of blue latex gloves, because I was going through them like crazy, I was not going to be touching some of this yucky stuff with my bare hands! Every now and then I would take some pics and text them to Bob (hoping to be praised for my efforts!) After some number of hours of hard labor, I could see progress… it was getting dark now, and time to take a shower and launder these clothes!

Almost too dark for photos, but for my final act, I took a long board and set it on the stair landing to simulate the actual, final aluminum-with-wood-tread stairs…. It is really starting to seem “possible”! ūüôā

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