The Cross House

The NE Corner…IS SCALED!

Today, Justin and I erected scaffolding in the NE corner! Next week…THE PAINTING RESUMES!


It’s fun working with Justin. He has a feature which is rare in a contractor but hugely appreciated by me: Almost nothing fazes him. Over the years I have worked with many contractors and plumbers and electricians, etc., and a common dynamic is an unwillingness to take on…the unexpected. But with Justin? Kinda no matter what I throw at him his default response is: OK. Sure!

LOVE this!

Justin has been busy of late and it has been difficult luring him back to the Cross House. Today though, after much begging by me, he said he could give me a day. Whoee!

I had three priorities:

  1. Clean up the backyard. I think maintaining a clean yard during a long-term renovation project is essential in keeping the neighbors happy. So, no toilets sitting around in the backyard for years, no mounds of trash, no cement mixers gathering rust, and so on. Keep it tidy! But…but…late last year my backyard suddenly accumulated several piles of lumber (neat piles!) and another pile of metal (also a neat!), and, ah, other stuff. This was fine for awhile but as the weeks turned into months and then more months my alarm level rose and rose and rose. But today, Justin, with a smile on his face, and sweat dripping down his brow, worked in tandem with me to clean the place up! VICTORY!
  2. Take down the Christmas lights! It is quite shocking to report that in May, yes, May, the 3-story Christmas tree of lights was still hanging from the tower. I know! Today though, I arrived at the house at 10AM and was astounded to see the lights gone! I knew Justin would be alone, so how was this possible? He wasn’t around to ask, as he was, I surmised, making a dump run (as the backyard was already tidier). My assumption proved correct. Upon his return I asked: HOW did you get the lights down alone? (In order for the very long strings of lights to not tangle, it requires one person at the top of the tower, and another person at ground level.) Justin casually replied that he came up with a new method, which worked perfectly. After listening to the how of such an accomplishment, I was silenced by awe and respect. And I also knew: THIS was a man I would treat to lunch!
  3. Erect the scaffolding. Again, Justin with smiling willingness worked with me to build the scaffolding tower. We were both mostly in direct sun and sweating profusely. But we also told stories, made jokes, and, well, had a kinda fun time even though the work was hard and (for me) kinda terrifying (heights don’t faze Justin in the least. I suspect he was a dirigible in a previous incarnation). It only took a few hours but around 2PM the tower was finished and stiff and SO not wobbly (I require scaffolding towers to feel solid solid solid). Justin and I stood at the tippy top, soaking wet, and just smiled. We. Had. Done It.


Looking down down down. A restored round window below. Unrestored above.


It is a THRILL suddenly getting up close with features after so many years.


Proximity can, of course, reveal scary things. Like, WHAT happened to the scrollwork? It has many dozens of holes and dents. What caused this? REALLY angry woodpeckers?


The final touch, and most important, is the installation of what I call the cocktail shelf. This is a place I can comfortably place my glass of wine while I work. KIDDING! Just kidding! While I do call this all-important feature a cocktail shelf, I use it as a place to lay tools, paint cans, etc. It is SO much easier then bending down to pick all this stuff up. This is one of the many things I do to compensate for my age.


In sum, today was a ton of hard, sweaty work.

But a lot got done.

And by working with Justin, the work was, as usual, more fun than one might reasonably expect.



15 Responses to The NE Corner…IS SCALED!

  1. I so look forward to your posts! When I don’t have one for a few days i find myself thinking, what’s Ross up to. And then you don’t disappoint! Great pics and your narrative is so conversational, as though we are all right there with you. Thank you!

  2. I wonder if the holes started as rust pin-holes, then enlarged over time. Perhaps the gutter was plugged for a LONG time at that convergence/downspout?

  3. Looks like some kids, years ago decided it would be fun to shoot at the house with a BB-Gun or a pellet-gun. Rotten little monsters. 🙂

    • Right! Bad little boys after a hornet nest or bird’s nest in the shelter of the cornice and downspout, plink plink until some outraged adult storms out and puts an end to the artillery,

  4. I’m glad that you have Justin, and that you realize how valuable he is. My choice of help is limited to a teenager who always responds “Awe dad, I’m supposed to help my buddy put brakes on his truck”, or a wife who likes to ask “Aren’t you done with this yet?” a little too often…so most of my work is solitary. When I was growing up, my grandpa couldn’t change a light bulb without me there, wanting to help him; some of my best memories are of time spent assisting and learning from him. Sometimes now, when I am working, I talk to him and ask his opinion…

  5. So nice to see you got a ton of work done and had fun too. Sorta. We too have a hard time getting our handyman to come by us, he’s so busy. He did put a new roof on the flat bathroom roof, but have been waiting a year for him to put new flashing around the tower as the bedroom leaks. And patch up too many squirrel holes to count.

  6. Justin is more than worth his weight in gold. I’m so glad you’ve got a good person to help you when you need it.

    Any sign of the bat this year? You’ll be near his hang-out (hang-down?) for part of the summer.

  7. Justin is a dream! 💗 Honestly, simply having another amiable, “partner-in-crime” around always makes an overwhelming task go smoothly. Make sure he stays happy!
    So, is the upper round window already restored & placed? It’s framework looks pretty good.
    The tiny holes do look like bird-shot. Probably a hornet’s nest no one wanted to get near.

  8. Congratulations… another huge step forward! I LOVE the cocktail shelf idea – you’ve given me the inspiration to create a similar one (but as my house is considerably more modest than yours I’ll call mine a beer shelf). And yes; I agree with the others that the scrollwork was marred by birdshot. A little bit of Bondo (for car repair) will permanently patch those holes prior to painting. Or you could chalk them up as “historic character” and leave them there for someone else to enjoy!

  9. Everyone needs a Justin. A happy hardworking partner in crime is essential!

    I’m looking forward to the painting posts to come. You always get to see interesting views of the house that you would never see otherwise. Plus paint is just so satisfying. Something just a few mm thick can create such an incredible change!

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