The Cross House
I can restore a house from top to bottom. And even a wreck of a big ol’ house don’t scare me.
But some things, normally small things, can stop me in my tracks.
Years ago I learned that when a paint roller cover needed washing I would become paralyzed. I mean, I would paint a room with primer. Then I would need to wash the roller cover so I could then paint on the wall color. But I would freeze. Cleaning the cover just seemed overwhelming. And I would say to myself: I will clean it out…later. Then I would wrap the roller and pan in a garbage bag. But a day would pass, and another day, and then many more and eventually I would be forced to throw out the roller and cover and pan because the paint dried. All the while the room was not getting painted.
I cannot explain this psychological idiocy.
One day I decided to just accept this…oddness…and do an end run around it. Now, when I am ready to paint a room, I buy a half-dozen of those plastic pan inserts. Then I buy a package of a half-dozen nice roller covers. After the primer is on, I pull off the roller cover and wrap it in one of the plastic bags you get from the grocery store. Then I slip on a new cover, replace the plastic pan lining, and in just minutes I am ready to roll on a new color.
This solution seems rather a miracle.
When I finished the parlor in the Cross House I had five roller covers all wrapped in plastic (primer, white, antique white, teal, pale teal, and chartreuse). During the process I kept switching out cover X with cover Y and then Z. But, and this is the critical part, I kept working without interruption.
In finishing the parlor these past few months I kept putting off installing the electrical outlets. The room had a single newish one, several very old ones (not working), and one non-working 220 outlet (for an AC unit I assume). Doing this work should have been, sensibly, finished before the room was furnished and silk draperies hung, right?
But psychological idiocy stopped me. Even though I have rewired entire houses and enjoy the work. But every time I thought about doing the work I would just freeze up.
Now, even though the room is all clean and perty, I knew I could delay no further. And, I really wanted to see the fabulous new floor lamps lighted!
So, I played a trick on myself. I told myself that I did not have to finish installing electrical outlets but I had to at least install one. Just a single one.
(But I knew, from past experience, that if I just got started I would likely finish.)
The Cross House did not likely have had a single electrical outlet when it was finished in 1894. What was there to plug in?
As such, the outlets throughout the house all date from various eras, and are all at differing heights. And the latter really tests my delicate sensibilities.
In the parlor I decided to install the outlets in the base molding. I have never done this before. This decision came about for two reasons:
- When walls are plastered the wet plaster is pushed through the wood lath to “key” the plaster into place. During this process wet plaster falls down into the hollow wall cavity and forms a solid block which can reach 6-inches in height. HOW does one snake a wire through this? By cutting into the base, I am very close to the bottom plate of the wall framing. I cut through the wood base, cut through the plaster wall, cut through the wood lath, and then chisel out the solid block of plaster until the wood plate is revealed. THEN, I can drill a hole though the plate to snake a wire into the basement.
- I did not want electrical outlets cluttering up my plaster walls!