Brian and Michael set a temporary post on the gravel basement floor 
until permanent steel and laminated wood beams are set and attached

Back to interior work...

The first three weeks of December it seemed we were entirely occupied below the house with placing support posts temporarily, redesigning, moving them, and rethinking the decisions.  Once the carpenters, building movers, friends, architect, structural engineer, Brian and I all weighed in on the topic, we were ready to weld, nail, sister, hang, anchor, bolt and cement the posts and beams into place.

Carpenter Mike suggested we cover the open end of the garage (below, left) to keep the gravel floor thawed.  That worked well enough for plumber Ron to dig trenches and install all the basement drains and piping.  But by Dec. 17 when we were ready to pour the cement floor we had to decide:  wait until spring, or pay to heat the basement for a couple weeks (which was the winning choice; see photo of the propane-fueled jet heater, below, right).  Thursday, Dec. 18 the cementers graded the gravel and Friday they poured the floor over it!

styrofoam insulation supported by a frame of 2x4's closed off 
the garage opening to keep the heat coming up from the ground inside the basement Ken kneels beside the propane jet heater on the newly poured concrete basement floor

broken scraps of styrofoam pieced together to cover the garage opening, held in place by boards leaned against them

Our garage covering lost some elegance each time the cementers removed and replaced it.  But the basement floor stayed above freezing through Christmas, curing and hardening.  True to the cigar-chomping propane tank delivery man's assurances, the tank did not explode and take the entire house.

Upstairs, meanwhile...

Friend Scott helped us through the dirtiest of tasks, knocking the horse-hair plaster (yes, real horse-hair fibers mixed in the plaster give it strength) off the walls, shoveling it into the wheelbarrow, then clearing the kitchen walls of the wooden lath which held the plaster.   We were pleasantly surprised to find not only the old, "true" 2- by 4-inch lumber in the walls, but an unexpected layer of 3/4-inch wood planking on exterior walls and even some interior walls (below, on left wall).  And many square (that means blacksmith-forged) nails, too!

corner of kitchen after plaster removal, showing exposed
Scott, masked after pounding the dusty plaster off the walls, removes the exposed wooden lathwork above the kitchen window

Another surprise, this time in an upstairs bedroom on the bare plaster after peeling off the wallpaper—century-old graffiti!  

Behind the door, the Gesme family's names are written: Inger Gesme, Gerhard Gesme ... .

Faintly, near the bottom of the picture at right you can see a blue bow at the neckline of a young woman.  Her face profile looks left.  On three walls in the room someone wrote largely, sometimes repetetively, "Mo & Sons July 2, 1909" "Gerhard Gesme" "Chuck Moe" and, intriguingly, to the right of the woman's profile, "This is Celia F. Gesme WHEN SHE IS MAD"

We've yet to investigate the relationship between Gerhard Gesme and Celia Gesme, but we wouldn't be surprised to find that they were a couple involved in a large home remodeling project.

Later we discovered similar grafitti downstairs, declaring "Mo & Sons did it," dated 1917 with a couple fish-shaped outlines.  An illegible wallpaperer wrote ... "did it. 1947" in, unfortunately, less durable black pencil.  We've heard since this discovery that Mo(e) & Sons signed other homes in Mt. Horeb the same way.

exposed graffiti in blue pencil formerly covered by wallpaper

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