First reservation request

Got a call today from Mary of Maryland, wanting to know if the Paymaster’s Office was available for her 35th wedding anniversary in September. By the time I returned her call she had read enough of the website to know that it wasn’t, but it was heartening to know someone was interested. We’ve been so focused on the renovation, that we’ve lost track of the business!

Dawn had a chimney sweep out today, who is cleaning four of the six flues. Apparently chimney swallows are nesting in the other two, and they are federally protected, so we have to wait until they migrate in the fall to finish. (And then we’ll put mesh across the top so they don’t return.)

Similarly, one of the posts on the front porch is waiting for a small wren to move out so we can continue working on it. The wren isn’t protected but she had babies, and the chicks should be fully fledged in a couple of weeks. They tell me the hole in the post is about the size of my pinky.

And finally, I freaked Dawn out today. She was complaining that they had thrown away a bunch of siding for the dormers, because they had used an oil-based primer and then found you weren’t supposed to use oil on fiber-cement boards. Well, all I heard was ‘fiber-cement’ boards and I gave her a lecture on the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation which states, in part, “Where the severity of deterioration requires replacement…the new feature shall match the old in…materials.” Needless to say, fiber-cement siding was not available in 1760.

Of course, I was ambivalent: fiber cement siding looks the same as wood but doesn’t rot, is impervious to insects, and (most importantly) only requires repainting every 15-20 years. It’s even touted as a ‘green’ building material because it doesn’t contain any toxins — just sand and cement and cellulose. But you know, I’m sure they said the same thing about vinyl siding, and asbestos siding before that.

But it turned out I was a tempest in a teapot: The contractor had discussed this months ago with our historical consultant. He wanted a low-maintenance product on the dormers (which of course were most likely to be neglected) and she had agreed, so that is the end of that. When it’s all done, nobody will be able to tell the difference.