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  • Writer's pictureNic

Letter to Friends: July 2016

I had to do some research to remember what happened last July!  It went by in a sweaty, dusty blur of demolition and gardening.  


There were about 12 layers of wallpaper that we could discern in one of the bedrooms, and we found entire newspapers from 1942 and 1952 under the layers of flooring.

Sam had moved down to Pittsburgh and came home almost every weekend via the bus to New Castle.  Sophia, Tessa, and Riah worked as laborers on the house and we hired Ben, a young man from our church, to help out.  We decided rather than build a new house we would first renovate the original farmhouse.


During demo, our dear Tessa made jumped onto an rusty nail and needed a trip to the emergency room when the antibiotic they initially gave her wasn’t working.

This would involve COMPLETELY gutting the house down to the studs and original wood plank floors, we decided to cathedral half the upstairs and relocate several of the rafters to create beams, open the kitchen to the rest of the house, move the wall downstairs to create space for a screen porch, place french doors to the porch, remove a bad beam and replace it with an engineered beam and add another engineered beam (LVL) in the kitchen, add seven windows, and re-plumb and wire the house too!


Our goal was to have the house ready to be insulated and drywalled by September (spoiler alert: we definitely did not make that deadline).  Mike took a little time off, but still had a pretty full schedule.  So while he worked incredibly hard, it has been in between running the church which has slowed the whole renovation process down.  Though I have yet to hear of a renovation of an old house that went quickly, according to schedule and without mishap. We did get some very important help with both Mike’s parents and my parents visiting.  

My folks came up to camp at Pymatuning reservoir and we went sailing with them.  They were also here when our very kind neighbor Tom delivered two loads of hay (surprise!)

We had prepped our barn for what we thought was going to be 50 or so bales and turned out to be enough to fill our very not-ready hay mow.  

Mike’s parents were very helpful too.  His Dad got in on the demolition while his mom helped me with chores, preparing garden beds and planting seeds.  


In July, my (I think third cousin) from Italy came to Greenville.  He was on a wedding tour with his new bride (who only spoke Italian) and came to the town where his grandfather’s brother (my Grandpa) had settled in America.  A good number of my American cousins and aunts and uncle were there and it was nice to catch up.  Sophia and Tessa came and enjoyed meeting some of their cousins for the first time.


The garden continued to be a huge investment of time and energy.  I harvested enough potatoes in late July that we are still eating them.  I will run out in January so I’ll double my planting next year.  The onions did great and I will have enough until next spring.  There was so much to learn and I am still getting things organized as far as use of space and how much and what to plant.  


It was an exceptionally dry summer and insanely HOT!  We added multiple water catchment systems and that kept the main garden going even during the driest weeks.  I planted a variety of perennials in front of the house and hope to keep propagating them and spreading them around the front flower beds as they expand.  I even had a few of my flowers from Pittsburgh come up strong.  My dad scoured yard sales and brought me a fabulous present of garden tools and a very useful garden cart that has come in handy just about every day.


Stay tuned for August! Be blessed, 


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