I put a time capsule of sorts in my house. The old ass one. You might remember it from my earlier post- https://brainrants.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/our-old-house/. Just click that link for even more delicious Brainrants entertainment. The story of this time capsule goes something like this:
I was elbows-deep in a project involving restoring our grand staircase of the house. Upon moving in, I found that someone had decided that varnished wooden stairs were dangerous (well, ok they are) and had decided that the best way to “fix” the problem would be to glue industrial rubber stair treads down… Straight. On. The. Wood. With contact cement. Right on the varnished wood. Shit, does anyone else see the tragedy here? Bueller? Okay maybe I’m being a little bit Britney here…
I tolerated this condition for only a month or so before my inner Norm Abrams had an aneurism and compelled me to pull out my sandpaper, chisels, and paint remover. I spent close to three weeks of interesting nights applying contact cement remover to the goo remaining on the stair treads. Naptha – which makes fingernail polish smell so interesting – removes brain cells also. After that, it was paint remover on the newel posts and bannister rail to strip off at least eighty years of paint from the original oak woodwork (it also removes skin). Then the sanding and staining. Then the sanding and stripping and staining of the stairs themselves.
Di may have actually contemplated leaving me when she walked in to find me with plastic sheeting taped to the entryway doors with 100-mile-per-hour tape and me going to town with an orbital sander. Keep in mind this was Month #3 of this particular project. For some unknown reason, she does not find the sweet aroma of sanded wood dust appealing in the slightest. I’m working on changing that.
Anyway, I restained the stairs, and then did another round of being high on vapors as I put a coat of urethane on everything. I’d add that it is withstanding the foot traffic quite well. The interesting part that generated this posting came when I was balancing one-footed-tiptoe atop a stepstool fiddling with a turned oak decorative piece that capped the bottom of the second floor newel post. Losing my balance, my catlike reflexes took over, and I ended on the entry floor holding the turned oak cap in my hand. Rolling with the punches is key to this kind of work, so I sanded it and prepared to reattach it. Then the idea hit.
The night of this display of my excellent reflexes happened to be Veterans’ Day – November 11th. I’d been thinking of the generations of Army families living in my quarters over the years it had stood here. So inspired, I grabbed a sheet of paper and penned a note about the work I was close to completing and added the date. I put it in an envelope, tucked it into the square space of the post, and reattached the bottom cap, carefully setting the wire nails with a nailset. I managed to not have to leap off the stepstool for that effort.
Every so often I’ll recall doing that, and wonder if anyone will find that note I put intentionally into the house itself. I wonder how long after I am gone it will be discovered, and whether or not the discovery will be caused by another well-intentioned renovation effort, or possibly by the ultimate destruction of this wonderful effort-pit of a home.