There's this thing on Instagram, started by @amyleigh_1902victorian, called #52weeksofhome. It's a photo challenge of sorts, encouraging people to share pics of their house per the weekly theme. Long story short, this week I posted a pic of the dining room fireplace.
Truth be told, before taking a pic of the dining room fireplace I'd never removed the summer cover. Didn't even know how to remove it.
Let's back up a minute.
The house is sometimes a little tricky to figure out. Some things are clearly original. Some things are clearly not. And then there are some items, like the marble fireplace hearths, surrounds, and mantels, that are head-scratchers. The fireplaces in general, I don't really know their story (yet).
Inside the house, there are 2 fireplaces, both with identical marble treatment. Up on the roof, there are 3 definite chimneys and, like, 1 course of bricks that are the remnants of a 4th. Dumbest thing ever, leaving 1 course of bricks like that, because it left a big hump in the roof at the low end and all it does is serve as a dam for all the acorns and twigs and leaves trying to make their way off the roof.
That 4th/demo'd chimney, it's at the back of the house in what's now the kitchen and at one time it served a fireplace. The firebox is buried behind drywall and cabinets, but I poked enough investigative holes to know that it's there. No mantel surround or mantel, though. Maybe it was more like something that was used for cooking.
I know the home had 3 fireplaces originally, based on the floor framing that's visible in the basement. Regardless of whether or not the marble hearths are original, the floor was framed to accommodate a very heavy hearth material in the fireplace locations.
Then there's the issue of the marble. Is it original? I have a really, really hard time believing that it is. In alllllll the old houses I've been in, which includes a lot of big, ornate homes, most of the original mantels and surrounds were made of wood. My house is relatively small and doesn't scream "fancy".
Then again, my house is older than most of the old homes I've been in. And it was a one-off, not one of several homes built speculatively or constructed by a builder who was building 10+ homes at a time. It may be small in area, but it's got tall ceilings and a lot of detail - some of it subtle - that means I can't rule out the possibility that maybe the original owners spent their money more on details than square footage.
Anyhow, the summer cover is a head-scratcher too. And there's only one; the living room fireplace has a more modern set of glass fireplace doors.
When I decided to get a pic of the fireplace for the 'gram, I figured I'd clean the summer cover up as best I could. The vacuum and little brush attachment weren't cutting it so I took the cover off to wash it in the bathtub. The mess in the firebox was way past the point of a standard residential vacuum, so I painstakingly drug the shop-vac up from the basement (the basement stairs - original to the house - are all of .0000001" wider than the shop-vac).
Or course before doing any cleaning, I inspected the summer cover for anything that might give away its age. I found lots of clues on the inside face...but no answer.
By all appearances, the side that faces the dining room is in pristine condition. A little too pristine, ya know? That makes it easy to lean towards the summer over being a reproduction of a more vintage piece.
Then again, the inside face is a little rough and if a company were gonna to go to the trouble of make reproductions, unless they were using the exact, original cover to form the mold for casting, would they go to the trouble of including those little details? I say "not a chance". This makes me think maybe it's more 1889 than 1989.
And then there's the firebox itself, which is a whole 'nother can of unknown worms. I'll get into that next time.
I haven't felt much like writing lately. Not sure why. Maybe I've been too busy. Maybe I've been too blah. Maybe I just haven't had anything to get excited to write about.
And then there's today: Roscoe's birthday. I'm beyond tired, which I'll get to in a minute, but Roscoe turned 13 today and that merits some words. And probably a few pics. Or 300 pics, I dunno.
As far as rehab stuff goes, I've been working in the basement repointing stone. Still.
Here I'm trying to clean up the stone around the duct; whoever installed it made a GIANT hole in the wall and didn't pay much attention to the fact that the stone wall is holding up floor joists and a brick wall, and that brick wall is holding up roof joists. I'll get rid of the duct some day, but mid-winter days aren't the time to be disconnecting and redoing the things that supply warm air to the house's living spaces. For now, I just want to get some stone and mortar back in the wall where the tinners removed it.
So that's the rehab stuff lately, lots of basement stone repointing and wall rebuilding.
Like I said earlier, I'm exhausted, but I've decided not to bitch about it. My truck won't start, which is the short version. I can't figure out why and because I can't get it into the local dealership until Tuesday, I've spent every waking moment since Wednesday trying to find the cause. Patience isn't something I was blessed with a lot of; walking 3 miles through the snow on Thursday to get to a car parts place that had a battery for my truck, and walking 3 miles back, with the battery in a backpack, is clear evidence of that. Spoiler alert: the new battery made zero difference.
But the only thing that really matters today is that it's Roscoe's 13th birthday. Last weekend we did 3+ hilly, icy miles at Labarque Creek Conservation Area, which is a very infrequent part of the hike rotation. It's a great hike, but just about as far out as I feel like driving on a regular hike basis.
Roscoe did good, but that's relative to his age. He can't jump or climb or even walk like he used to - forget running - and he's given up lead-dog responsibility to Freckles, possibly because his eyes aren't real good anymore and he needs the sound of my footsteps to follow behind (it could also be a result of Freckles still being a little spazzy on the hikes and Roscoe wanting to keep his distance from the young dog shenanigans). But he still wants to go on the hikes and he tries his absolute hardest to overcome the obstacles that, once upon a time, weren't obstacles. Sometimes I have to physically help him out a little bit and I'm instantly reminded of his age and declining health, whether it's the 20 pounds he's lost since his prime, or his ultra bony back end, or the giant clumps of hair falling out.
But he doesn't give up. At all. Ever. And while he has no use for walks or trips to the park anymore - he REFUSES to go - when I say "wanna go on a hike" on Saturday mornings, he's right there at the front door, next to Freckles, ready to go.
That makes me happy, because he's always been my hikin' buddy, and he still wants to be my hikin' buddy. Even with his physical limitations and probable joint pain, he wants to be out there on the trails, by my side.
I don't know how many more birthdays ol' Roscoe is gonna have. His Cushing Syndrome medication dosage just got doubled, and that's on top of his daily joint supplement, and daily fish oil supplement, all of which is on top of him becoming an increasingly picky dog food eater (he still eats "people food" - chicken breast, steak, ground beef, eggs, sweet potatoes, turkey, fish, etc. just fine). Then again, he still barks his ass off when he feels like he needs to guard the house, he still looks at me funny when we're at West Tyson County Park and I say it's time to go, he still puts up a fight when I try to trim his nails, and like I said previously, he still wants to go on the weekend hikes. Maybe he's still got another birthday or two or three in him.
Regardless, he's been the absolute best companion. It's hard to believe he's been alive for 13 entire years, and that the little fur ball I picked up almost 13 years ago from the MO Humane Society turned into the big boy whose mission in life was, seemingly, to simply be by my side every chance he got. And in honor of that, here are some of my favorite Roscoe pics - and how I will always remember him - from all the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of park and trail miles we've logged together:
I hope he's enjoyed all of our adventures, and I hope he has enough gas in the tank for a bunch more.