The Cross House

Singing In The Rain

Today I was singing in the rain.

Well, not really. And for two reasons.

First, it was not raining today. It was wet, yes, but I never saw any rain. Rather, it was like being on the Scottish moors. It was kinda foggy all day and with what must have been like 250% humidity. Had the temperature been 99 degrees rather than 53 degrees I would have melted. But vey high humidly and 53 degrees is not really uncomfortable, and, with a name like Ross Malcolm MacTaggart, today I felt quite at home, genetically.

Second, I was not singing. Well, I did briefly sing in the dining room. Big old houses with plaster walls are acoustically fabulous and I sound really good in the Cross House.

No, I wasn’t otherwise singing from happiness because today I was desperate to finish painting the north porch. This is my last day of good weather for awhile. But do you know what paint does on Scottish moors? It don’t dry.

When I arrived in the early afternoon my goal was to first get some primer on some spots, with the idea that in an hour I could put on the finish coat. But the primer did not dry. The primer would not dry.

Moroever, even though no actual rain could be discerned, everything was…damp. This is SO not conducive to painting.

Thus, instead of singing I was…not really cursing…but more like…thinking…poo. Big poo. Yea, it was a big poo kinda afternoon.

Later, I realized that had I been wearing a kilt things might have gone better.


This is a few days ago. The white cornice stuck out like a sore thumb and I was desperate to get it to conform, color wise. So, even though Kansas was transformed today into Scotland, did that stop me from painting? Well, did you see Braveheart? If so, then you know Scots don’t give up!




Ta-da! I did not get the very top edge of the cornice painted because it was too wet. Nor could I get the lower part painted because the primer would not dry. But I could get everything in between painted! But only one coat. Still, it does look better, right? I also could not get the trim finished on the triple-arched windows. But…but…and this is THRILLING…


…I was able to install the restored stained-glass windows!!!!!!!! OMG! OMG!


The sweet round window in the telephone closet is SO happy having its siblings back!


The stairhall niche sans its stained-glass.


And WITH stained-glass!


Soooooooooooooo beautiful! Thanks again to Scott and Eric from Hoefer Stained Glass, and to the Kansas Heritage Trust Grant!


And that was not all! I managed to get some paint on the porch column!!!!!!!!


The capital was ENCRUSTED with paint to the point of basically obliterating all its hand-carved lusciousness. Oh, the horror!


BUT NO MORE!!!!!!!! NO MORE!!!!!!!! Can you see the never-drying paint? I cannot express enough my adoration of the column capitals on the Cross House porches. They are one of my favorite things about the house and I am determined that every single one will either be resurrected (if extant) or recreated (if lost). Each is hand carved and I often wonder at the person who did this work 123-years ago. I want to hug them.


Even though the day did not go as expected I am still nonetheless rather delighted.

And on the drive home I did sing a bit.



…and thank you, Debbie, for everything. You are missed.


And thank you, Carrie, for everything. You are missed.




31 Responses to Singing In The Rain

  1. I know this isn’t related to this post, but I must ask anyways. When you restore 1920s era lights, where do you get those lovely painted bulbs?

      • I’m warning you…I WILL put CFLs in it! I mean it!

        But seriously do you know where I can get some? I’ve been scouring the internet and coming up blank, and seeing modern bulbs in it is taxing on my delicate sensibilities.

  2. Of all the photos on your blog, of all the places in your house… this little niche is climbing the charts as my favorite! That last photo showing the de-gunkafied capital is breathtaking.

      • Remind me, please, or I will be paging through for the next few hours… will the transom in the phone booth be a stain glass?

        • The interior transom window in the phone closet is the ONLY operable transom in the house.

          It retains its original clear glass.

  3. Here in Ohio we had a mist in the air, much like across a pond! It was beyond yuckky and I’m amazed you got ANY paint even off the brush!! The windows are magnificent. May I borrow a few for say the next hundred years or so??

    • All the paint may likely be on the ground tomorrow!

      And, no, you cannot borrow any of my pretty windows! I love them too much!

  4. How did you get all that horrible white paint off of the capital? Did you sand it all by hand or blast it with… something? I have a feeling you didn’t just paint over it.

  5. It was a rather Scottish day here in Ontario too. As a descendant of the Halliday and Allingham lines, it’s weather that fits.

    At first sight, I thought “how did someone burn that capital?” Totally looks like charred wood, but no more!

  6. Happy New Year, Ross.

    As we say in Scotland ‘lang may yer lum reek’.

    Roughly translated as ‘long may your chimney smoke’ (meaning: long may you have fuel to burn to cook with etc).

    You’re doing a sterling job and the stained-glass in the hallway niche windows now glows surrounded by a full paint job.

    You’re lucky to have that sort of weather; when I was home in Glasgow over Christmas there wasn’t a day when it didn’t rain/sleet/blow a gale…often all three at once! Add to this the fact we don’t get proper light til 10AM and it’s not a climate for painting anything!!

    I’m looking forward to all your 2017 updates.

    Good luck for this year.

    • Hi Colin!

      It THRILLS me having a Scot reading my blog!

      I was last in Glasgow in 2001. Always loved the city.

      London is one of the few places I kinda yearn to live. I adore the city.

      My mother is a British subject so I can get duel citizenship. Thus, if things get TOO awful here during the next four years…

      • As a Brit I can say we would love to have you, Ross. There are old homes aplenty here for you to get your healing hands on. Your blog makes me smile every time I read it, and your 2016 Ross update made me want to give you a hug. For many of us over the pond our hearts also broke over the news, and the way the political message gets abused by the media. Keep at it, you brave man.

  7. I have a whole new appreciation of those porch column capitals…good job, it looks great.

    And although I have absolutely nothing to do with this, I too would like to personally thank Hoefer Stained Glass and the Kansas Heritage Trust Grant because I sure have enjoyed your stained-glass windows and hope to see even more in the future!

    Happy New Year Ross!

  8. I’d like to push further on the question of Tiffaney, if I might. I have the same concern. Was any wood filler used or paint remover ? What you picked away was just crusty paint I assumed, but the carving came out so beautiful detailed. Were there any other steps taken? We’ve all dealt with crusty broken paint chips. I’ve never found sanding to be of any help.

    • No, I just chipped chipped chipped away. It took about two hours. Only the side of the capital facing the house was encrusted. The side facing the street (and weather) was almost paint free.

  9. Incredible work on the column capital! On the white eeky version of it, the top looks like a Darth Vader mask with flames under! But once cleaned and painted it is delightful!

  10. I said some time ago that the north side is my favorite, and I have to say that it is looking extra great this morning!! It is amazing; it’s almost as though, instead of paint, you were applying some sort of magic potion that erased all of the years and restored everything it touches to it’s state when it was brand new. My own old-house restoration had been at a stand-still for nearly a year, but reading your blog these past few months has inspired me to get it going again. I am stripping wallpaper, sanding floors, and getting ready to start the long (and long delayed) process of stripping layers of white paint from my woodwork. So Ross, you see, you and your house are spreading the restoring spirit all over the place!

      • I wish you really had a magic restoring potion; I would buy a couple of gallons of it from you, there are several places in/on my house that need it. Come to think of it, I might just pour it on myself and then crawl all over the place, that way my house and I can both look new again 🙂

  11. Oh, and, yes, Debbie and Carrie will be so missed! Their passings made me so very sad. Thanks for this little tribute.

  12. From the moment I read the heading until now, I have been picturing Gene Kelly singing and dancing in the rain. Swinging his umbrella and giving it away to a passer by, AND I CAN’T GET THE SONG OUT OF MY HEAD. Look at the date of your post and look at today’s date and tell me that you don’t have power through the time, (if not the space), continuum. Please don’t become a hypnotist.

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