Maybe we really will be done with the living room by Easter!
So this morning, clad in my pajamas and slippers, I stripped half of the first 4 stairs. Even better, the stuff worked! It's messy, but not as much as I remembered. Since I'd let it "cook" for over 8 hours, it wasn't as runny as it was when I only let it sit for about 2 hours (like this afternoon, when I stripped the other half of the 4 steps). I'll post a picture tomorrow, but I can already tell that the stairway will look awesome.
In other news, Phil the Wall Guy came over on Saturday to check out the living room walls and ceiling. all he could say for about 5 minutes was "wow". I think he was overwhelmed by the scariness of our cement-looking walls and sagging ceiling. Once over the initial shock, he commented, "Why don't you just put drywall up over the plaster?" AAAK! Shayne and I glanced at each other and I firmly stated, "No." But the more Phil looked around, the less scared he was, and he realized that the plaster really isn't in bad shape. He was even happier when I told him we'd be removing all of the woodwork during the skimming process. And by the time he left, he had said that it wouldn't even be a hard job.
So... I have no doubt of his skimcoating abilities, but I'm a little worried about entrusting my plaster to a drywall guy. I think we'll probably do the repairs ourselves, then let Phil take over for the finishing work. I've ony heard of one plasterer in the area, but I'm going to give him a call this week to get a second opinion from someone who appreciates horsehair, lime, and sand.
And uncovered some absoloutely lovely wallpaper!!
Like nearly everything else so far, the stairs are in really good shape. The wood has its original finish, but they were painted about 4" in on each tread. Another "but" is that they have some very elderly carpet padding and adhesive stuck to them...
The other unpleasant thing we uncovered was the ceiling. In some spots in the stairwell, it's in crappy shape. We lost two of the corners when Shayne was pulling down the furring strips... I'm a little disappointed, but not surprised. The stuff we lost was in bad shape; it was literally jsut hanging there by the horsehair. So we have 2 spots of bare lath right now (eep!).
It seems like every layer of this house we peel off just uncovers more work. Why couldn't the previous owners have done anything the right way?!
On December 31, a woman I work with committed suicide. Even though we weren't really friends, when you work in an environment like a jail, you become somewhat close to just about everyone. You have to, in order to keep your sanity. You depend on each other the way peopl in "normal" jobs don't. The people you work with, whether you like them or not, are people you trust to keep you safe. Granted, you still havew to look out for yourself, but there's a band that builds between people, whether you are actually friends with them or not.
It really shook most of us up. We're all trained (extensively) in suicide prevention, which includes recognizing the signs. Nobody saw anything. When she was happy, you knew it, and the same for when she was upset. Everyone is asking why, and nobody has any real answers.
We also celebrated family Christmas in Detroit with my family (wow, something good!), which was this past weekend. And then I got the flu. Ugh.
On the up-side, during my sick-induced boredom, I found out why our water softener isn't working. There's a hardened layer of salt built up near the bottom, called a salt bridge, which is keeping the salt from entering the water. The manual says to break it up with a broom handle, but I haven't had any luck so far. I poured some hot water on it last night, so maybe it will have dissolved it by now...
Otherwise, though we're not really progressing (I did strip some of the woodwork), the house is still standing! I'm still waiting for something bad to happen, since nothing has gone wrong since we got the house... :)