Let's get this out of the way up front: today I passed the occupancy inspection, which is a big deal because it means I can move in and start making the house what I want it to be. It's going to be a slow process, but at least now I can officially start. So there's that.
Yesterday, in preparation for today's inspection, I removed a bunch of gross lay-in ceiling tiles in the basement. At first, all that revealed was what you'd expect: plumbing, electric, framing, etc. The highlight, initially, and it wasn't even really a highlight, was seeing plaster marks on the ceiling framing. This meant that the basement, at one time and maybe even originally, had been given a plaster finish.
After looking at the ceiling from a few different angles, I saw this:
See the 4 square things sticking through the 2 rectangular holes? That's a side-by-side, double, through mortise and tenon joint. Quite a mouthful, eh?
The "tenons" are the square things. The rectangular openings they're protruding through are "mortises". The joint is considered "through" because the tenons go all the way through their mating framing members, whereas with a standard mortise and tenon joint the mortise is more of a pocket. The "through" version is more difficult to craft because both the tenon and mortise are visible, and open to scrutiny that the standard version isn't. It's "side-by-side" because, obviously, there are 2 boards next to each other. And, it's a "double" because there are 2 mortises and 2 sets of tenons.
That makes it a side-by-side, double, through mortise and tenon joint, and an incredible example of old school craftsmanship. Today, a joist hanger would be used instead of this far more time-consuming work of art, and would in fact be required by code. But as the picture demonstrates, when not exposed to weather and the elements, this type of joint can last a very, very long time.
And, hopefully I'll find another set of these on the other ends of these joists when I get around to removing the rest of the basement ceiling.
Another discovery that was made yesterday was of the exterior variety. I mopped the floor in the big front room right before lunch, and figuring it was still wet, when I returned to the rehab from getting some food and hanging out with the dogs for a minute, I planned on entering the house via the side door. So I walked up the front stairs, around the front of the house, and got ready to unlock the fence gate to allow me to enter the back yard when a giant mass in a nearby tree startled me. I took a step back to get a better look, and the giant mass turned out to be this:
Now I can add owls to the list of animals I've seen on the property, in addition to the seemingly stray cat I've seen multiple times, the dead mice in the ceiling yesterday, and all the usual critters (rabbits, birds, squirrels) that Freckles will surely enjoy chasing around the yard.
So...what started off yesterday with multiple dead mice raining down on my head and putting me in a foul mood, turned into the discovery of some super cool craftsmanship, finding a big, majestic owl hanging out in one of my trees, and then passing the occupancy inspection today. If all that is the trade off for a couple brushes with mice mummies...sign me up for more mice mummies.