Sunday, June 26, 2011

Meet William and Armintie

This is a photo of William F. Robinson and Armintie Bell Sims Robinson, taken at their homeplace before Armintie inherited the house from her parents around 1912. "Mintie" and William had the last two of their six kids in the House at Sugar Creek (they referred to it as "the big house") and Mintie added on the four back rooms during WWII. She passed away in 1959, and it is her canned blackberries. green beans and peaches that we found in the root cellar beneath the house!

German words?

This week my hubby's parents came down from Indiana to take a peek at our house. We were pretty dang nervous, because A) my father-in-law is a carpenter that has spent an entire career remodeling house, and B) we were pretty sure that they were going to think that we were crazy for taking on such a big project. But lucky for them, and lucky for us, they realized that hubby and I were crazy long before the House at Sugar Creek! (haha)

This week will be a big week for us. We're having a local window company come and take a look at what it will cost us to replace all of the windows in the house. I hate to do it, but the windows are much too deteriorated to save. Cross your fingers and lets hope that there isn't too much lead paint in the window frames!

Something rather amazing happened while my mother-in-law (hereafter referred to as MIL) was walking through the house. I showed her the writing on the back of the doors in the original section of the house, and she recognized some of the words. But before I tell you what she realized, you need a tiny history lesson. History tells us that German settlers were some of the first non-natives to inhabit northern Louisiana, and the first non-native settlement in northern Louisiana was built (correct me if I'm wrong, historian friends) within a 20 mile drive from Sugar Creek. So with our German heritage in place, you also need to know that my mother-in-law just retired after teaching German for around 30 years. As soon as she saw the enormous word that was written on the back of a bedroom door, she pointed out that it's probably of German origin. According to my MIL, haus = house. And she's thinking that the faded beginning of the word means blessings. It seems that the German language often combines multiple words together to form new words. Maybe that's what's happening on the back of the door.

I also think that the writing on the door(s) might tie in with southern Louisiana tradition. Writing on doorways in southern Louisiana tradition often casts curses or blessings, if I'm not mistaken. Maybe we have found an early-1800's combination of southern Louisiana and German traditions. What do you guys think? If you have a clue, be sure to send me an email or comment back here!

Here is an up-close photo of the end of the word. Scroll down through our older posts to find the complete word.

We haven't been working on the house very much this month. We lost my Uncle Trey very unexpectedly on the 6th of June, and we haven't felt much like doing restoration work. He was one of the first people that didn't call us "crazy" for choosing to do this project, and he was one of my closest friends.

We love and miss you, Trey. And we know you'll be keeping an eye on us from up above. ~ hugs ~

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Weekend #3

It's only the first weekend in June, and the temperatures are already nearing record highs. So with the heat in mind, we made a splurge on a temporary window-unit air conditioner for the room that we painted / stained last week. The moment that the sun appeared on Saturday morning, we knew for sure that our money had been well spent. It's was Hot with a capital H! (As in over 100 degrees kind of hot!)

Friday night we spent installing the window unit air conditioner, and then placing the newly painted and stained upper kitchen cabinet in the room that will be my future office. Right now, this room is our temporary family bedroom on the nights we spend at Sugar Creek. Here is a photo of the walls and floor after last weekend's painting / staining party.

I still need to touch up paint a few spots on the cabinet, so you'll have to wait until next week for a photo of the "completed" room. We really rushed this project because of our son's allergies, but it was very much worth it. This weekend found our oldest son doing very well inside of the "new" room. He only sneezed a few times this weekend!

On Saturday morning, my hubby asked me to take a photo of the old gas water heater for the electric company. They pay 100% of the cost of your new electric water heater if you promise to make the switch over from gas and show them proof of the change-over. The water heater was in the existing kitchen, which will be our pantry one day. I got a kick out of the photo, and I thought you might, too. The electric company will probably laugh at this photo... but it is indeed proof that we're moving from gas to electric. (haha) Notice the remaining strips of wallpaper (it was previously hidden behind the sheet rock) and the boards behind the wallpaper. This room has wonderful bones!

Shaun spent most of the day Saturday hauling concrete blocks beneath the house, prepping the area for the "leveling" process. The house is, in large part, being held up by enormous iron-ore rocks that have been mortared together. And over the last hundred and fifty years or so, some of the rocks have crumbled and the house has become a tiny bit out of level in a few places. It's nothing that a half dozen weekends and an over-eager husband can't tackle. (haha)

While Shaun was underneath the house, I was busy removing nails from the "bathroom" walls. This room is one of the original front 4 rooms in the downstairs area of the home, and it has been a bedroom up until now. Here are a few before pictures of this former bedroom... it's going to be a beautiful bathroom one day!

After I finished pulling the nails out of the walls, I began painting them the same cream color that we painted my future office. After watching me paint for two weekends in a row, the boys finally broke down completely and begged until I gave in and let them paint with me. Here's a photo of our youngest son painting alongside with me. This room isn't air conditioned, so he was trying to be like his Daddy and paint with his shirt off. It was too cute!

And speaking of Preston's Daddy, Shaun was VERY happy to discover that the bowed wood on the ceiling of this room was not due to rotten wood. We pulled down a board from the ceiling and held up a light into the space above the room, and we were more than half expecting to find a huge mess above our heads. We had already planned to remove the wood, replace the rot behind it, and begin forming up for a drywall ceiling. But we were both very surprised to find that the ceiling was in PERFECT shape! It was like new above our heads. In fact, the wood looked like it could have been put up a month ago instead of a century and half ago! Here's a photo that I took from outside of the house... it's my hubby nailing the ceiling boards back in place. For once, a big project turned into a little project. I expect we'll have a few dozen times in this renovation that a little project will turn into a big project, so I'm not celebrating just yet. (haha)

So are y'all ready for something really awesome? I found a neat little surprise in this room while we were painting. I had a big work light in the room that lit up every nook and cranny, and when I closed the door to paint around it the light hit the back of the door and I almost squealed. For there, in age-worn paint, was the longest word that I've ever heard of aside from supercalifradjalisticexpealidocious! What does it mean? I have no idea. If you do, please tell me. My guess is that it's some type of blessing. And when I went and looked at the backs of the doors in the original portion of the house, they all had squiggles just like the ones on this one. Each of the other doors had been painted over, but it was easy to see that the doors had been given this same treatment sometime in the past. It will be a very intersting mystery for me to figure out, I suppose. And I like that very, very much.


I'll end this week's post with a sneak peek of the home's history. I have so many things to tell you about the house, and about Sugar Creek, and about the wonderful family that has owned this awesome home since 1902. Maybe one of the people in these photos was the mystery artist for the long word I found on the back of the bedroom door. Hopefully I'll find out one day, or maybe this will remain one of those little mysteries that gives this old house just a tiny bit more character than it had before.