Friday, September 28, 2007

front door complete

Keeping the house projects moving along. I put on one final coat of stain (just a smidge darker) then followed up with 2 coats of polyurethane on the front door. This should prevent further deterioration of the veneer. I must say it looks pretty dang good.. Hopefully that door won't be disturbed again in my lifetime..

And don't think I forgot about the basement window on the rear of the house. I wanted to move on to start refinishing other windows, but.. How can I ignore it? Unfortunately it's going to be a real pain in the arse to get those bars off. The angle and tight space certainly isn't going to make it easy. :(

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

lower rear windows complete

Well, I thought I would never get to this post, but the rear windows on the first floor of the house are done. Yay! I wonder if Mr. McBroom would approve?

Gratuitous doggie shot:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Stand against ASARCO

They say a picture's worth a thousand words. I sure hope so. There was a demonstration today to photograph protesters at the foot of the Asarco smelter to put in the hands of the governor. Many hope this will help sway the reopening of this environmental hazard in the community's favor. It was great to see many people from my neighborhood and the surrounding area at the rally.

The local copper smelter has been a part of this city's existence for the last 120 or so years. It helped spur it's rapid growth, but as the community grew so did the health dangers literally in their backyard. My neighborhood is situated in the shadow of one of the tallest smokestacks in the world. The smelter has been closed down since the 90's. However, the community is in danger once again as Asarco is seeking to regain permission to start up operations this fall. For those of you who haven't seen this monolith, it is huge. And it is equally out of place in the middle of an international community of 3 million people. Hopefully the TCEQ (which will be ruling on this issue) will vote in favor of the community. Our livelihoods and the positive momentum of the region depends on it.

More info about the rally HERE.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

El Paso St. carnage

There are some days that I feel like saying "what the hell am I doing here"? Today was one of those days.

There's a house in lower sunset heights (east) that I've had my eye on for several months. Reason was it recently sold at auction by the city. Foreclosure is my guess. Anyway the city was getting ready to condemn the building before it sold, so it appeared that the days of agony for this former house turned apartment building might soon be over.

Not so fast.

Seems the new owner doesn't care that he just purchased a property in a historic district and applied to the city to demolish it anyway. After several recommendations that the home was still salvagable structurally, it looks like they're tearing the damn thing down. So it seems the potential for this house has ended. Honestly, half the homes in this neighborhood don't look much better, so what's the use of being in a historic district if people come in here and just tear them down? Why don't we just tear down half the neighborhood and be done with it? It would be nice if people who want in on sunset heights had the foresight to preserve these beautiful homes. Granted this one looked like hell, but it still could have been saved. We'll never know now. What a shame.

The application to the city for demolition is here.

UPDATE: Hopefully I've rustled up some discussion about this topic.. People do care. My thoughts and opinions for this house were too late seeing as how it was already doomed. I hope we can get the media to reflect on what's happened and what we might be able to do to prevent this from happening again.

The carnage:

Sunday, September 9, 2007

progress is bliss

Well, I finally got off my butt and made some decent progress here at El Paso foursquare. The front door has been in a deteriorating state for a while and I've been putting off fixing it for too long. As you can see it's a pretty nice looking door. It has a quartersawn oak veneer (not sure what's under it) which has probably led to it's rapid decline over the years especially since it had been in an unprotected state for who knows how long.
Here you can see a good close up of the grain. Lots of cracking and some minor chipping, so it's pretty fragile. You can't really see it here, but someone actually tried to stain over the original wood using a more reddish tone. I think it's the same stain as what's in the living room. While nice, I'm trying to restore all the wood to the natural patina and hue. This red stuff was pretty blotchy and you could still see the older color under it in some spots, so evening out the finish was a priority. I've experimented a lot with my kitchen stairs to get it as close as possible to the original color. What follows is probably as close as I'll be able to get it to.
Here I started lightly sanding with some 150 grit sandpaper as I didn't want to damage the original patina, but I also had to get the red stain off as best I could. You can see the bottom part of the door is a little darker. At one point I think there used to be a kick plate here..
This is after giving it a lite 220 grit sanding and my second coat of the magic stain I also broke out some oak wood filler to fill in the chipped out veneer. I also evened out the finish between the top and bottom (or close to it). As it ages it should come pretty close to what the original finish should be.
And now for the piece de resistance! The back windows have finally got a coat of primer on them. Honestly it took me longer than I thought, but I guess since I'm not slathering it on a blank wall it takes a bit more time to get in all the nooks and crannies of the wood detail. Next week's goal is to put on the first (hopefully second) coat of the paint combo. It's the third one down. I'm stoked! :)