Tag Archives: basement

Tutankhamen’s Tomb/Palace

Jack’s Wednesday guest blog

Many folks have been asking for pictures of the refurbished basement, but I’ve been waiting until it was finished (can it ever be truly finished, he said?). Anyway – last night it was finished enough for the Needlework Gang to get a guided tour, so –

How it was at the beginning.

How it was at the beginning.

The 1903 rotted windows.

The 1903 rotted windows.

The ceiling as it was.

The ceiling as it was.

a new wall takes shape

A new wall takes shape

New windows.

New windows.

New ceiling.

New ceiling.

Hardwood floor starts to go down.

Hardwood floor starts to go down.

The entrance to the tomb gets a makeover.

The entrance to the tomb gets a makeover.

An antique mantlepiece and not so antique fire.

An antique mantlepiece and not so antique fire.

Approval!(I think!!)

Approval!
(I think!!)

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The DPO strikes again

Anyone who, like me, owns a historic vehicle (mine is a 1962 MGB Roadster) will know the acronym DPO. It stands for Damned Previous Owner, and crosses our lips each time we come across some inexplicable previous ‘fix’ that makes what should be simple maintenance fiendishly complicated . I should say here that my good friend Colin, who owned the MG before me, most definitely is not a DPO. But the other guy before him….

Our home-cum-shop (for those who don’t know, we live on the second floor, the books on the first) has had more than its fair share of DPOs—particularly when it comes to electrical work over the years. We were first alerted when we had lights fitted to our shop sign recently; the contractor took me aside and said, “Lemme show ya somethin.”

I admit to a certain amount of trepidation as he led me into the basement, where he pointed out ancient, mouse-chewed wiring snaking gaily over copper water pipes.  “See ‘em?” his stubby finger jabbed at the wires. I reached up. He grabbed my wrist and said, “’Ems live.”

“Ehms live?” I repeated dully in my Scots accent. He gave me a confused look and spoke slowly: “You have electricity near copper. ‘Ats bad. Real bad. Get ‘er fixed.”

Accents have caused many moments in the six years we’ve been here. But the copper pipes and live wires were sparking serious concern, so part of our plan in redoing the basement was to, indeed, get ‘er fixed.

Our obliging friend and electrical guru (who would be known in Scotland as a ‘sparkie’), Leroy arrived with his trusty toolbox and we left our wives upstairs talking books as he and I descended into the bowels of the basement. Trying to make sense of the mixture of ancient and modern wiring down there, time swore on—not wore, but swore, I assure you.

But the air turned blue with terror when he opened up the main light fitting to discover almost every wire in the place was going in and out of there, including one that went into a wall and then came straight back out again and another that went to yet another light fitting that was inexplicably bricked up inside yet another wall.

See, electrical wiring is sort of like writing: it should have a clear beginning and a purpose for its movements, and it should reach a destination where it does something meaningful. And perhaps have a source from which it draws its power. Neither wires nor words should meander about sparking without intent.

Leroy and I got some sense restored and all the ancient bare wires disconnected without causing any problems in the house; the girls only shrieked once, when all the house lights went out as we tested which circuit went to what. All we need to do now is work out how and why the outlets in the kitchen are on the same circuit as the lights in the bathroom and mystery room, and then we’ll be able to stop cursing the DPOs – for the moment – – –

Meanwhile the non-electrical work in ‘Tutankhamen’s Tomb’ continues apace –

The hidden fitting

The hidden fitting

 

 

 

a new wall takes shape

a new wall takes shape

the infamous windows

the infamous windows

 

 

 

 

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Jack guest blogs on retirement

When I retired from my college professor career in 2002 I imagined a gentler and more relaxed way of life, maybe catching up on some reading and re-indulging in hobbies I hadn’t had time for in a while. Certainly, to begin with things seemed to be going in that direction, despite continuing involvement in education and training as a consultant and even visiting such romantic destinations as Vietnam and Romania in that capacity.

When Wendy and I first moved permanently to the US things continued in that fairly leisurely way. Everything changed, however, when we moved to Big Stone Gap and opened the bookstore! Ah- the bookstore!!

Most folk probably think that opening and running a bookstore is a dream come true and that is true to some extent – but for me there is a darker side. As the shop became established and our stock expanded so did the need to find space and fill the space with bookshelves. For the last few years I’ve fondly imagined that I’ve made my last set of bookshelves, but no, Wendy (my boss) somehow manages to continue to find ever more obscure corners just crying out for another lot.

And I don’t help myself, either. Just a few days ago I was down in our basement (currently only accessible from outside in the back yard) and realized that there was a covered over internal staircase. EUREKA! Well – ‘maybes aye and maybes naw’ (as we say in Scotland) – the trouble is that, although half the basement is a decent height, there’s only brick and concrete walls and no ceilings. There’s only very minimal lighting and no power outlets, and the hidden stairwell is full of later added cables and water pipes to the washing machine that’s going to have to find a new home.basement stair

 

 

 

 

 

Then there’s shelving all these pesky books that people will insist on bringing in – but hey, that’s another story – – –

What does all this add up to? As an old colleague of mine once said to me when I asked how he was enjoying retirement – “Jack – it was made for a younger man than me!”

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