Saturday, June 28, 2008

Walking the Line

No, that's not me. I would never walk on the tracks. In fact, until I was about 8 years old I was scared to death of trains. If the car had to stop for a train I would lie down in the back seat and cover my head until it passed. JD took this picture of a photographer friend of his while they were waiting in the tunnel to get a shot of the train coming in. I don't think I would do that either.
Our little town grew up around the train station, which is long gone. But until the late 1960's you could still take the train to Birmingham. People around here could easily get to the city to shop, or visit friends, or go to school at one of the colleges. I think about that a lot because it sure would be nice to have that option now.
The passenger train stopped running and the interstate missed here by five miles and one by one the businesses closed. Most of the old buildings and the cotton gin and the gristmill were torn down. Now there's only one actual business in the city limits. But nobody moved away. Like in a lot of rural areas their families had been here since the area was settled, before Alabama was a state. Since the time Andrew Jackson was fighting the Indians.
So here we are today in this little town that isn't really a town anymore. But in a way it's like Mayberry (without any stores) because everybody knows everybody, or at least knows who they are. And who they're related to (everyone in some way). But people here are kind and friendly and we've never felt like outsiders. So we like it here a lot but I wish it looked more like a town.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Old Rock Church

We had always said, "Wouldn't it be great to find an old church or something like that we could make into our house? Something in good condition that just needed mainly painting and decorating? A place where we could have lots of light and open space?" We forgot to add, "and not anywhere near a railroad track."

So, five years ago we saw this place for sale. It was perfect. Except for one thing - across the road is the railroad track. There's an open space there where the train station once stood. The train wouldn't be so bad but there's an intersection and they blow the horn repeatedly and let me tell you up close that horn is LOUD. So we thought about it for about a month then decided we would learn to live with it. Nothing is ever really perfect so since I'm an artist and needed studio space, JD builds custom furniture and needed shop space and the old post office next door came with it, and the price was really right, we bought it.

It was built in the 1920's as the Masonic Lodge. More recently it had been used as a church. Originally it was two big rooms, one upstairs and one downstairs. The Masons met downstairs and the Eastern Star met upstairs.There was no interior staircase, the ladies came in by the back stairs outside. The church added an interior staircase and divided the upstairs into three rooms, and added a bathroom and kitchen area, also upstairs. So we decided the upstairs would be our living area, our downtown loft so to speak, and I would have my studio downstairs, with lots of room left over for - well, just for room. Unfortunately, all my before pictures of the inside were lost in a tragic computer accident but here's the living room today.

All the pine floors were covered with commercial carpet which was glued down, all over. The glue couldn't be sanded off because it was too gummy and we didn't want to sand them with a floor sander anyway and lose all the patina. We wanted them to look old. We experimented with different solvents and found that plain old household ammonia would take the glue off with lots of patient scraping and scrubbing with hot water and a scrub brush. I think it took the better part of a year to clean the floors, working on a small area at a time. Of course all that hot water caused the wood to feel fuzzy so I sanded them by hand. With a sanding block. It really didn't take that long. I think I did it in a day. And afterwards we polyurethaned them and they didn't need stain, and we kept all the flaws and they look great. And OLD

I think that's enough for my first post. I wish I could have started this blog when we first moved here but we could only get dial-up plus I didn't know anything about blogs. I've enjoyed other people's so much I wanted to do one of my own about my life. I've had one about my painting for a few years but I wanted one where I could write about anything. So thanks for finding me and thank you AT&T for finally bringing DSL to our corner of the world.
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