Sunday, August 30, 2009

And on the Fourth Day

...she made a big decision and changed plans.

I've decided against starting the kitchen floor today. Maybe I'll start it tonight -- if I get far enough in there. Maybe I'll start it tomorrow after I finish the bathroom floor. Or maybe I'll just have Lawrence do it, if he's game.

It's kind of like playing Yahtzee. When you get to a point where you've not yet rolled five of a kind, then you probably aren't going to. See, I thought I'd have the cabinets done by Friday. Uh-huh. It's one of the first rules of DIY: the job will ALWAYS take longer than you think it will. ALWAYS.

The good news is that this means I can slow down a little. Enough that I can do the running I need to, possibly squeeze in a little yard work and maybe even take a nap! I am pretty tired now that I think about it. Just the thought of going back to bed for 90 minutes or so is as appealing as the most succulent meal I can think of. And hell, maybe I'll even treat myself to a real meal today.

I could probably be done with the cabinets -- right at halfway with the doors and about three-fourths done with the cabinet boxes -- but I have been trying to do some organizing as I go. I bought a whole bunch of organizing stuff the other day and I've been trying to see what works and what doesn't. (About half of it is going back. That's a today job.) Without the mother here, I can rotate some stuff to downstairs and dispose of others.

Yesterday was pretty productive. Lawrence fixed the kitchen sink and got some things done outside. (Photos to come.) We also discussed options and came up with a plan for the drawer fronts. That won't be happening as part of Project Genesis though. That's going to be at least an all-day job. Next month.

Meanwhile, all I could do was sand cabinet doors and paint them. It was pretty slow going. I've still got quite a bit of ground to cover But that's OK. Yesterday morning I got to see something I've been waiting months for ... but since I waited months, I think you can wait just one more post 'cause there will be more to see by then.

Trust me. It will be worth it.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

And on the Third Day

...she had a minor meltdown and waited patiently for the cavalry to show up and the caffeine to kick in. (I'm a little tired. I was still strippng wallpaper at 2:30.)

Slowly, I'm feeling the caffeine start to take hold. And the cavalry? Lawrence will be here in about 45 minutes. I'm mostly having him work outside today. I'll be back in the kitchen today. More fun times. This is almost as slow as the walkway job was, so, sorry, no real progress to show off. But by tonight, I'm betting there's going to be plenty done. There better be. My patience is running thin.

I'm planning to start on the kitchen floor tomorrow and, ideally, finish it. Then I'll have Lawrence back on Monday. I think I'm going to have him take out the commode so I can tile the bathroom. That way, the only curve I have to work around will be the sink -- unless it would be just as easy to take it out temporarily, too. That will be a discussion topic.

So, I need to go get things ready for Lawrence and start setting myself up a place to paint outside. (And haulin' out the rest of the doors as I still have to sand them first. Lucky me.)

The people who bought my aunt and uncle's house across the street are having a garage sale. Just since I've been sitting here, I' ve seen or heard three near crashes as people either slow down or are dumb enough to park on a four-lane roadway. Nevermind there's a side street to park on just around the corner. You've got to love idiots!

Oh well. It will give me something fun to watch while I paint, right?

Friday, August 28, 2009


Except for the late start, shopping and a trip to the vet, today is a carbon copy of yesterday. I'm STILL working on those d*mn cabinets. Still. And I won't finish them tonight either. But I'll be close.

I won't have done anything to the drawer fronts. Decided until I see what Lawrence has come up with, it's kind of pointless. So, I'll wait.

Back to the vet trip ... Taz is a girl! In fairness to me, even the vet looked twice. "Built like a boy, too. And those feet are HUGE!," quoth the vet. She was terrified at the vet's but very well behaved. Poor Taz.

She's a saint compared to Toby. I am so ready to ship that cat off to the mother, I could cry. (No drugs yet for him. Dammit. I'm about to the point where they could just give them to ME. I'm sick of his crap.)

I was going to take the rest of the cabinet doors outside and set them up so I could do several at once. After being gray all day, the sky finally opened up. So, that plan is shot.

Since I'm stuck one or two at a time, I'd better get moving if I'm going to accomplish anything today!

And on the Second Day

...she'll be getting a late start. She has to take Taz to the vet in a few hours so it makes no sense to get too immersed in anything. Besides, I have a variety of things I need to pick up and take back so I may as well do that after I get back since I'll be dressed already, right? And there isn't much to eat in this house either!

It rained a little over night. Glad I didn't leave anything outside. So much for the rain "not hitting our area." I'm clearly in the wrong line of work.

My goals for the day:
*Finish the cabinet boxes OVER the sink. Return most of contents. Finish painting and attach doors. (That's right. I said put those d*mn doors on! I've been waiting MONTHS for this.)
*Finish the cabinets UNDER the sink.
*Start the cabinets OVER the stove.
*Pull the refrigerator out. Clear cabinet above it; sand and paint.
*Clean and paint woodwork behind fridge.
*Strip bathroom wallpaper.
*Create a Lawrence list for tomorrow.

It won't all get done. I just have to accept that. But, I am going to attack it with a vengeance later today. I figure that I can split my time between the bathroom and kitchen while Lawrence is here tomorrow as I have mostly outdoor tasks for him to do.

I'm thinking I may have him come back Tuesday to work on the kitchen. That would give me Monday to complete both kitchen and bath floors. I don't know. I'm still trying to work out the best order of things. The animals and having only one bath are not making this easy, but I'm muddling through.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Genesis: Day One

I'm not as far as I'd planned or even hoped to be, but progress is definitely happening. Ask PB. She can vouch for me.

I got a surprise call and subsequent visit from her. She thought she was going to paint. Silly girl! I wasn't going to put her to work. But she ended up taking off some of the remaining hinges for me.

It's still a work in progress and I am still not calling it quits for the day yet, but here is what was over the sink when I got home last night.

And this is pretty much the way they look tonight.
I'm blown away by the difference. I can't wait to get doors on and see i they look like I saw them. I'll be even happier when the other half is done, too! And I still have the insides to do on the bottom but I got on a roll and I went with it. Like I said, work in progress ...

And on the First Day

... she painted. Or, she will paint. Right after she sands! And she can do that in just a bit because she pushed, pushed, pushed last night to clear the cabinets above the sink.

I'm starting in the kitchen. And I thought this house was maddening before when I didn't have several additional boxes to add AND the new kitchen cart. Fredex left it in my carport instead of leaving it on the porch. Luckily, my neighbor was home last night and he has a dolly. I borrowed the dolly to get it to the porch and then gently did end-over-end into the front door. It's well over 100 pounds so no way for me to just heft it inside.

So, between getting stuff into the house, getting stuff out of the cabinets, and then getting things together for painting the cabinets, that was as far as I could get last night. And was I tired! Still am. I was thinking of going back to bed for a while, but I think I'll get crackin' instead. There is SO much to do, I'm not sure I could rest anyway thinkin' about it.

Last night, I was trying to stay close because I hadn't heard back from the mother. One of her friend's daughters called me to let me know they'd landed. A different friend's bag got lost so she is without both clothing and medication so they got tied up at the airport. When they finally got to their destination city (by car) the mother called. Still no bag but they were there at least. Here's hoping they find it. (And can I even begin to tell you how glad I am it wasn't the mother's bag?!)

I think for most of today, I'll focus on the kitchen cabinets. Later, or tonight, I'll try to do some work in the bathroom. Then, I'll gravitate back into the kitchen and ideally start on the floor. That's the plan for now. An update tonight -- with visuals -- if I can manage it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hey, Not So Fast -- CHAOS!

I was worried that the mother wouldn’t get past airport security. Surely she would violate some TSA regulation. But no. I should have been more concerned that she wouldn’t even get off the ground.

She is finally in the air after waiting all day. Her original flight was canceled and a second flight appears to be headed that way. A third flight, this time a non-stop, seems to have worked. So, they'll get a few hours of their lost day back by not having to change plans.

We’ll see.

The scary part is that the flight was canceled due to mechanical problems. I had a very bad vibe early this morning and I got very concerned when, for the longest time, online updates didn’t have the plane taking off. Then it had a delay. The mother said at one point she even told her friends, “I don’t think we should get on this plane.” *thinking about the movie Final Destination and freaking mildly* Apparently, those were vibes and instincts not to be ignored!

I’ve talked to her a few times and she seems to be taking it in stride. Who are you and what have you done with the mother?! I think it must be the group dynamics. Let’s just say I’m glad it’s a trip with her friends and not with me.

In the meantime, there are two “maybes” on the kitten. We’ll see if either pan out. And, after saying that the kitchen cart wouldn’t ship until Sept. 1, I find out that it is now allegedly parked on my porch. I’d say I have a fun evening ahead of me with a 100+-pound package just waiting to greet me.

At some point, I need a nap. I’m exhausted. I only got maybe three hours or so of sleep last night. Ugh. Definitely have to charge up. Now that the mother appears to be off on her little adventure, I've got one of my own to embark on...

En Route

So, as I type this, the mother should be getting trundled into a car with her friends and heading for the airport.

She relented and had me help her pack last night. I think they should give some kind of award for this. I couldn't believe I managed to get ALL THAT STUFF into two bags. (Especially considering that for a six-day trip, she is taking EIGHT pairs of shoes. That's right. EIGHT.)

I really did start to feel like a Shriner in the Volkswagen as each time I'd think I had everything inside, she'd hand me something else. As I managed to get the final item in, without too much smooshing even, I couldn't help but ask: "You don't have any furniture or appliances you'd like to take, do you?"

I had the joy of bringing Pearl to the office today. And while I didn't leave super early like I normally do if I drive, traffic wasn't that bad. Still made it from driveway to parking garage in about 20 minutes. Impressive.

Here's hoping that both successes set a good tone for the day! And for the evening, too. There's a big kick-off tonight ... (and it has nothing to do with football).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Talk

We have to have that talk. Again.

You know the one. You’ve been hearing about it for the last two months. It’s between the mother and I and it goes a little something like this: NO! You absolute, positively CANNOT just “leave that” in your carry-on!

Like a good pseudo travel agent, I printed out everyone’s boarding passes and even paid for the mother’s checked bag in advance. Aren’t I sweet?

You know, that checked bag, that no matter what I say, I can’t seem to make her understand that that is where all things liquid and gel – in excess of 3 ounces – MUST go if she doesn’t put them in the tiny Ziploc bag. *stifling scream*

God help me, as tonight she finishes packing. Maybe I should just put the conversation on a CD and hit play …

Baggage Overload

I had hoped to have so much more done already so that when Project Genesis kicks in, it would be that much less to contend with. Well, that’s just not going to happen. (That’s my code name for it. I figure if the world can be created in six days, I ought to be able to finish a small kitchen and tiny bath in the same amount of time, right?)

It sounds like an outrageous amount of time, but it’s not. Especially considering that I have three animals to contend with, two of whom (the cats) regularly log time in the two very rooms I’m focusing on. I haven’t completely resolved how that’s going to work yet, but I think I have a plan of action that may work and it gets under way tomorrow night.

Right now, it’s all I can do to get the mother packed. The collection of clothing and luggage has now spilled out of her room and into the rest of the house. I’m laughing at just how much of it there is. You’d think she was never coming back! I’m a really good packer and I travel as light as I can so I’m even more amused by just how much she thinks she can put in these bags. I’ve tried to assist but I apparently will foul it up. Nevermind I’ve racked up thousands upon thousands of miles in the past decade and she hasn’t been on a plane in more than 13 years.

She is still having trouble with the liquid/gels rule, though we’ve been talking about it for more than two months now. I’m having to go over and over it again and again to be sure that she doesn’t violate it. No you CANNOT leave your nail polish in your purse. And yes, I’m sorry, but your two-step lipliner can’t stay in there either – unless you plan on throwing both away at the airport.

I’m sorrier still that “Well, that’s stupid,” is not going to fly with the TSA, even if it is stupid. Please, don’t make them detain you.


Monday, August 24, 2009

On Board

The great news of the day: Lawrence is on board! He’ll be here Saturday. That means I’ve got a LOT of work to do between now and then.

Day 1 of my personal Mission Impossible officially starts Thursday. I feel up to it – I think. I’m still a little overwhelmed by all of it, but little by little the details are taking shape in my head. Having it all mapped out and then jumping in with both feet is my usual MO. I try to have a Plan B and even a Plan C, but I’m usually able to roll with it even if I don’t.

The not so great news of the day: I’ve not shared this, hoping against hope that the situation would get better, but it hasn’t. We’re looking for a home for Taz. We saved him from an ugly death (either by starvation/exposure, neighborhood predators, or traffic) but unfortunately, we cannot offer him a forever home. Shelters are full and I wouldn’t want to take him anywhere that wasn’t no-kill anyway.

I have finally accepted that I was brought into the picture to save him and to find him a good home – even if it’s not ours.

Karen Anne asked last week about his spot in the Fur Fiends line-up … I just couldn’t bring myself to put him there because things have been maddening the past few weeks. The situation has not been ideal for the kitten or for us. In fact, the timing almost couldn’t be worse. With a major rehab under way, trying to kitten-proof the house is impossible. But that’s not been the biggest challenge: his presence has set off a firestorm of bad behavior from Toby, even on occasion, from Ozzie. (Toby just wants to attack him; instead, he occasionally attacks Ozzie or us. Ozzie wants to be all over him in a loving way which annoys the baby; and Ozzie doesn't like for me to pay attention to the baby -- JEALOUS!)

Toby, who has issues anyway, has been borderline crazed since the arrival of the baby whom we’ve had to keep isolated as best we can, while still trying to provide him a bit of room to roam in very cramped quarters. The past few weeks have seen us try a variety of things – with the guidance of our vet – to try to achieve some level of peace, but to no avail.

The way things have been going, it’s unfair to the kitten, unfair to my cat, and unfair to me. It’s just too much at once. I can’t do it, the mother can’t do it, and I’m waving the white flag. He’s going to the vet this week for worming and vaccinations. While it breaks my heart to do it, I’d love to pick him up from the vet knowing that he will be going somewhere that is safer and much better for him.

I’ve got feelers out all over the place, but if you know anyone … I’m all ears.

In Training

I feel like an athlete of sorts, in training. The weekend was definitely an exercise to prepare me for what lies ahead.

Having said that, I failed the test miserably. I had intended to get so much done this weekend and I really didn’t. Unfortunately, I didn’t allow for the amount of time that planning and preparation were going to take. That was an .activity that ate up much of yesterday.

I had forgotten that Wednesday is our group’s night to have the company suite. I always look forward to this, since it is, awesome. I’ll have to miss this year though since there will be no one to look after the critters. Oh well. I definitely have more important things to do.

In the meantime, I’m having a tough time trying to decide where to start. I think that I will start with the kitchen floor. I will get a section of that done and then start with a kitchen cabinet. While both of those are setting up, I can start on the bathroom. Then, I can restart the process. At least for now, that seems to make sense.

In the interim, I neglected to call Lawrence on Friday, so I have got to do that today. I’m hoping that I can confirm Saturday and Monday with him, and even a bit of Tuesday if needed. I know I’ll need at least two of those days. And, if we can devise a plan for the drawer fronts, I will definitely need the third day. It’s a lot to try and get done. And I know it’s more than overly ambitious. But you never really know what you can achieve until you try, right?

One thing I definitely want to do in the next week is get together with some of my friends either for lunch, dinner, drinks or a combo thereof. I’d hoped to have the house farther along and be able to host a gathering, but considering its current state, that’s not happening.

I know that the MonkeyGirl is crazed right now and that cd is busy later in the week. Maybe something over the weekend? PB, are you in? CD? MonkeyGirl? B? Are you still reading?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Plot Thickens

My super-secret conspiracy to complete the kitchen and bath (as much as possible at least, I'm trying to be realistic) while the mother is gone continues to take shape.

I spent most of today running around. I bought paint with primer for the cabinets and rest of the kitchen. I bought materials to sand and complete the cabinets for this job. I bought several different tile trim options at both Lowe's and Home Depot to look at for the tub surround. (Will share those in a different post.) I even bought some supplies for a small outdoor project she wanted done.

The mother has no clue I'm planning any of this. I just hope I'm up to all of it. I'm absolutely exhausted as I type this.

I DID manage to get the yard mowed, the weeds eaten and Pearl washed yesterday. In addition to cooking for the babies and being in complete charge of care of all three in between. I slept in a little today and was on the road from noon 'til 7 virtually non-stop. (This included a trip to the dump to drop off yard waste, a joyous stop at Harbor Freight, food from Cracker Barrel, and stops at a variety of discount and grocery stores in between.)

The mother was in tow for part of the adventure. And it was an adventure. MonkeyGirl will love this: I got lost in North County for a little while. Debated phone-a-friend, but just kept on familiar roadways (Old Halls Ferry and Parker Road, then eventually Bellefontaine) until I could get back to 270. Ended up that way because I-270 was log-jammed around noon thanks to a closed lane. I went via Alton and came up 67 instead. I think I turned off too soon but it all worked out. We saw parts of the St. Louis area we'd never seen before and the mother enjoyed it. It beat the hell out of sitting in traffic, that's for sure!

For the rest, it was just Pearl and I, an open road and a blue sky. Can't believe it's August in St. Louis. This weather is phenomenal.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Swiss Cheese

It’s a wonder that I didn’t dream of Swiss cheese after spending a good deal of last night filling in cabinet door holes with wood putty.

I had to fill them in front and back on 18 doors. On a few of them, I had to redo with another layer. (There’s a chance I’ll be redoing a few more of them again later.) So, that’s at least 80 holes that were filled last night. Fun times.

At least it was something I could sit on the couch and do.

I’d planned to go out and finish putting up the deck posts when I got home but, no sooner had I changed clothes and sat down to grab a quick bite than it poured down rain.

It didn’t rain for very long but it was enough to soak everything down and I didn’t really want to go crawl around on the wet ground to secure the posts. So I started filling cabinet door holes.

Soon, I’ll be ready to start sanding the doors. But that’s later in the weekend.

I have some running to do. I need to weed eat and mow. And I have to wash Pearl. If there’s any daylight left after all that, I’ll see about finishing up those posts on the deck.

Right now though I’m going back to bed for an hour or so as it’s still pretty early and I was up pretty late.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Grouted Out Already

First, THANK YOU to everyone for all of the fantastic comments and other feedback on whether the bathroom floor grout should be black or white. A few of you have even offered an in-between option based on what you’ve done: gray. This has been really helpful.

The majority of you said black is the way to go and I have to agree. Especially after reading and seeing specific examples where the grout color sample and the grout didn’t end up the same shade. In almost every case, it ended up lighter than expected. So, I’ll error on the side of darkness.

By now, you’ve got to be sick of hearing me grouse about grout. Even I’m sick of hearing me on this topic. But, give me just a bit more forbearance. I promise it will be worth it.

I also want to say thank you to a guy named Bill Vincent. I discovered Bill, a veteran floor-tiler of three decades, on iVillage’s Garden Web site in this thread. I’ve learned more about grout from this thread than from just about anything else I’ve read on the topic – combined.

I found this thread while searching for information on SpectraLock and Mapei, two brands of grout carried by Lowe’s. Both have kitchen and bath colors we could use. While you can read the whole thread if you want or need to (and I’d advise this if ceramic/porcelain tiling is in your future and you’re as unfamiliar with it as I am), here are some of the highlights for me:

· (This one actually came from a DIFFERENT Bill V. thread) “For all intents and purposes, there are two kinds of grout – Portland cement-based and epoxy. The Portland cement-based grouts are the conventional grouts that have been around for millenniums. Although in the last few decades they’ve been modified with latex and other polymers to make them stronger and more resistant to mold and mildew, they’re basically the very same grouts that have been used since Greek and Roman days. … Most epoxy grouts use a much finer sand and therefore can be used in any size grout. They’re much easier to use, practically stainproof and also extremely expensive. … my own opinion is that for most residential installations, epoxy grout is bigtime overkill. The ONLY times I'll recommend epoxy grout is first, if you're installing a tile countertop, and two, if you have animals in the house that either aren't housebroken, or are prone to accidents. In either of those cases, epoxy might be worth the money.”

· “The ONLY thing that determines which grout should be used is the joint size. Not the glaze. Not aesthetics. Not the material. … Anything under 1/8-inch takes unsanded grout. Anything 1/8-inch or bigger, you use sanded grout.”

· However, there’s a very important caveat to Bullet Point No. 2 and it’s a good thing I kept reading and researching to find it because it directly applies to the bathroom. It’s another gem o’wisdom courtesy of Bill V: “Ceramic mosaics get grouted with sanded grout. Period.”

· Why? Here’s Bill’s answer: “Unsanded grout will tend to shrink too much and leave pinholes, so for any kind of mosaic, be it ceramic, glass or stone, I’ll always use sanded grout.”

Here are a few other links regarding grout that I found helpful:

The Tile Doctor

And Finally, FRIDAY!

I’ve been ready for Friday since Monday, so how happy do you think I am today?

I’m not exactly sure why I’m so happy about it though. It’s not like my weekend is dedicated to anything fun or like I’ll be sitting around on my duff the next two days. I guess the joy will be in focusing on one thing and one thing only and not trying to split my time and attention between work and home.

I got a jump on things last night and started the post project on the deck. I had a stop to make on the way home and I had fellow bus rider S with me. (She just got back to work mid-week after another knee surgery, so I’ve been trying to make sure she gets home OK every night. By the time I got home and changed clothes, I had less than 90 minutes of light.

I might have gotten farther, but the posts being used for this are all recycled.Four are from the old spindle railing on the front porch, the one that got replaced last summer. The other two have been removed from the fireplace downstairs in preparation for putting in the new mantle …. Someday.

Let’s just say it’s a good thing these are only decorative, not structural! I had some challenges with two of the three because they were among the ones outside for nearly 20 years. Even after I had cut several inches off to get rid of rotted ends, on at least one of these, I think the majority of the core is rotted, too.

Oh well. No big deal. I can work with it. They’ll all be securely attached when I’m done!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Baby Steps

You've got to crawl before you walk; you've got to walk before you run. This is the approach I am taking to my list of lists. By next week, I've got to be ready to dash at lightning speed!

I'm feeding that approach by doing "little" jobs each night. I added a few screws to the backerboard in the kitchen last night. I still need to add a few more. I had neglected to plug my drill back in after using it over the weekend and so, after putting down just a handful of screws, it was dead.

I also put brads into the two doors for the bathroom cabinets to hold the beadboard panels in place until I can put finishing strips in to secure them.

Since it's finally stopped raining, tonight I might do some of the jobs that got scrubbed over the weekend thanks to Mother Nature. Namely, putting posts up on the deck and putting the kickplate on the backdoor. Neither of those should be too tough, I hope.

In the meantime, I've also been looking at the sliding shelves for some of the kitchen cabinets. I think I've found a good place and I got a rough idea of what the cost would be. I also ordered the two bases for the columns on the front porch. (You know, the ones I've BEEN ordering for seven or eight months now!) OK. Maybe not that long, but not that far off either.

So, the momentum has started. Slowly. But it will pick up.

Black or White?

I said if
You're thinkin' of
Being my brother
It don't matter if you're
Black or white
-- Michael Jackson "Black or White"

Actually, this is true. But if you're thinkin' about bein' my grout ... a completely different story, my friends. It matters. A lot.
And herein lies the dilemma.

I initially chose black. Took it back. And now comes the weekend of our discontent. I've GOT to decide on the grout color for the bathroom. I can't be stuck next week having to make decisions. That must be done so that the supplies are on hand and work can begin with a vengeance!

Here's the floor. The choice seemed obvious a few weeks ago when I first bought grout. It should definitely be black.

But then I reminded myself that the ceiling is black. So it should be white. Or should it?

This is really starting to annoy me. I cannot for the life of me decide. There's a voice in the back of my head that still says black. But I'm just not sure.

It's important to mention that the tub surround and fixtures are white. And, all of the beadboard and trim -- which is now a beige-ish antique white -- is now going to be pure white. Right after I paint it!

And here's the wallpaper, which is a mix of black and white. (I know it looks beige or sepia but it's not. Just an effect of not using the flash.)

So, with all of the white already in the room, shouldn't the grout be black?

Help! I'm SO confused.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Color Me Green

The kitchen is green. I kid you not. And I don’t mean environmentally-friendly. I mean Kelly-a** green. GREEN is everywhere! The beadboard is green. The cabinets are green. The trim and quarter-round? Green. It’s like St. Patrick’s Day exploded in there.

And then, thank God, I woke up. That really scared the be-jesus out of me! After all this work, can you imagine walking in to find a wild shade of green painted everywhere? Me either. Whew! That’s how I started my day.

It was so real, that when I woke up, I could feel my heart racing. (Obviously, that kitchen would have been attractive only to a leprechaun, so I can understand why I was so stressed.) So, out of curiosity, I looked around to see what I could find about dreaming about the color green or of dreaming about a kitchen. This was about the most valuable “green” explanation I found.

Color meanings of green in dreams often point us in the direction of growth, healing, love, giving, and inspiration. When we dream of green we're experiencing levels of healing and growth that are subtle. It's time to concentrate on the areas of our lives that need to flourish. Hmmm. So what exactly am I being told here?

Then I found this explanation for dreaming about a kitchen. Houses in dreams generally represent the dreamer (dreamer = house). The kitchen is the heart of the house. For most families, the kitchen is a place of warmth and nourishment (emotional as well as physical). Examine the conditions of your dream kitchen and you may become aware of some emotional needs and feelings toward yourself and others.

This little gem made me laugh: To dream of a kitchen denotes you will have unexpected guests that will need to be entertained. Well, with all the work I’ve got to do, they’ll be entertaining themselves! Or, I can just hand them a paint brush or something!

But I think this one might be the closest to reality. To see a kitchen in your dream, signifies your need for warmth and spiritual nourishment. It may also be symbolic of the nurturing mother or the way that you are caring for your loved ones. Alternatively the kitchen, represents a transformation. Well, yes, there's definitely one of those under way!

When we dream of kitchens it may be a message to spend more quality time with those who are close to us. Or, it may indicate we need to take the time to feed ourselves better (physically AND philosophically).

Well, I certainly CAN’T argue with that! Message received …

The Forgotten Project

It seems virtually unimaginable with all that I’ve already got going on that there could possibly be another project in need of doing, something that was on the roster for last year even. It only came to the forefront while we were cleaning the shed Saturday.

One of the very early jobs Lawrence and I did together was to put scallop siding along the eaves on both sides of the house. (He later did the front on his own after I’d gone back to work.) Here's an after shot of one of the sides from 2007. You'll notice how bad the old paint job was, too.

When we repainted the house six months later, I fully appreciated this project as I didn’t have to dangle from the ladder to paint all the way to the top.

It turned out that we had more shingles than we needed. Rather than discard the extras (which would be sinful as these are special order and not cheap) it was decided that we could put at least some of them on the front and back of the shed. That was going to happen last summer. Then we got Lawrence busy with some other projects and he went back to the laborer job he can hold for so many hours a year without messing up his retirement. So, time had run out. And, in the midst of all the other crazy things we’ve been doing the past few months, we forgot about it.

So I’ve added it to the Lawrence list I now have going. (Right now, my lists have lists.) I had already cued him when he was last here to plan on a day or two at the end of the month. Now, I need to call him and solidify the plan. I think I’m going to have him come next Saturday and Monday. I’ve not told the mother that I’m planning to have him do that so that should be a nice surprise.

I’m still trying to devise a plan of attack for finishing the kitchen and bathroom. I think I’ll start with the cabinets. I need to gather some boxes during the next week and I will tackle the cabinets a little at a time. I’ll clear out, clean and paint the cabinet boxes. Then I’ll paint the doors. (Or maybe I’ll do the doors first so they’ll have more time to dry. And then, I can have Lawrence put all the doors back on.)

In between cabinets, I’ll work on the floors so that they have time to dry and set up for grouting. I’ll want Lawrence to help me get both the stove and refrigerator into their final positions so that means the floor has to be done by Monday.

And it’s really important that the bathroom floor gets done while the mother’s gone. That means I have GOT to get the bathroom to a point where the wallpaper is either started or done by next week. Work has been a bear lately, but I’m hoping that my evenings will be just my own very soon. That could give me some time to work on the house!

I’ve not mentioned that I’ll be doing all this while also devoting several hours a day to the care of the creatures as I’ll be sole caretaker.

Looking at all this, it’s very tempting to not just pack a bag and disappear myself.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Running List

I think I mentioned the dizzying amount of stuff that’s on my to-do list for the bathroom and kitchen by the time the mother returns from her trip. But … I’m hoping that that can be reduced by accomplishing a variety of activities before she even leaves. Here’s that part of the list.

· Strip wallpaper
· Skim-coat walls (2 coats)
· Sand walls
· Paint walls
· Rebuild cabinet doors (Similar to what I did in the kitchen by locking in the new panels with brads and finishing out the inside with pine strips.)

· Work out a refacing solution for the cabinet drawers (Seven, plus two fake plates in front of the sink. I’m sure I have more than enough leftover beadboard to work out something. This may be an activity I’ll have to wait and engage Lawrence in.)
· Fill in existing hardware holes on cabinet doors
· Start sanding cabinet doors (All 18 of ‘em)
· Subsequently start painting cabinet doors

I’m making myself tired just thinking about it, especially considering the limited amount of time in which to get this stuff done.

To accomplish all this plus everything else that’s not even listed here while she’s gone, I will need to do one very important activity: Wheedle information out of the mother. I need to find out what paint she is planning to use for the cabinets (I think they’re all getting primed and then painted) AND what paint she is using for all the hinges. I’ll admit it. I’m confused at this point. (If you see how much paint is laying around everywhere, believe me, you’d understand why.)

Also, I’ll need to find out which handles she wants where. We have two kinds. The cup kind where you put all your fingers in the little “cup” shape to open it and the classic simple knob kind. I’ve got to figure out what “vision” she has for using these little numbers as I don’t plan to fill holes and repaint cabinets/drawers AGAIN once she gets home!

A Little Adjustment

I’m happy to report that not only did I get the paperwork in for the mother’s senior citizen tax break, the county treasurer has already recorded the change and sent an amended tax bill! Wow. That was fast.

The mother got the full $4,000 deduction which is taken directly off the assessment value. That translates to a roughly $300 savings, meaning it’s that much less money I need to send by the end of the year. YAY! It’s news that almost couldn’t come at a better time.

As I get closer to the finish line on the kitchen and bath (though still not close enough to suit me), I’m throwing a cautious eye on the budget. There aren’t too many more things we’ll need – thank God – as I still have two bedrooms and a family room to complete!

So, a bit o’ belt-tightnin’ could be in order for Q4. Having bought a car took away one bit of cash I could count on every month and we seem to go through money like water during some of these projects.

Even so, I’m not about to complain. Pearl has been a great source of joy and a wonderful form of therapy. She’s worth every cent. I just got used to having that money to go to when a project went over budget. And after three months of not having it, I’ve had to start paying attention.

I think (read: hope and pray) that all of the “big stuff” – the ceiling, appliances, flooring, fixtures, the cart, the tub surround – has been purchased. A lot depends on just how much money I spend in the next few weeks. I have a rough idea. I think it's all good. Let’s hope I’m right.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Carted Off

It took a long time for the mother and I to agree on a cart for the kitchen. When we found one that we both liked, we were put off by two things: the countertop surface and the cost.

I was willing to forgo the cost objection. After several weeks of looking, I've concluded that these things just are not cheap. (Unless you're looking for a serving cart kind of thing. That you can get for $100-$150. that's NOT what we're looking for.) The problem is, I'm not entirely sure what we were looking for. But then we found the one we both liked. This one.

The deal-breaker ended up being its cherry laminate surface. And then, when we relented and I went to buy it anyway, it was backordered 'til the end of the century.

Then, the mother saw one she liked in a local store. Mind you, it was pretty, the price wasn't bad, but it was 54 INCHES LONG!!! (Our kitchen is roughly 8x10.) I was not caving to that one. We battled. Regularly.

But I'm nothing if not persistent. (Sometimes my stubborn streak isn't all bad.) I kept looking and lo and behold, the cart returneth to stock -- and at a REDUCED PRICE and with LOWER SHIPPING!

Well, that's way more than I can argue with. When I told the mother, she badgered me all weekend 'til I finally ordered it.

And get this? In the interim between the time that the counter surface was the deal breaker and the dramatically price-reduced cart returned to the Internet, I found a solution for the surface. Not sure if it's going to work, but I'm willing to give it a try. Stay tuned for details.

Counting Down to the Countdown

I made a list of things still undone in both the kitchen and the bathroom. It was dizzying to say the least -- and not in a good way.

I’m hoping to knock out at least a few of these activities before the mother departs for her trip. This matters because you know I am going to finish the bathroom and kitchen in her absence.

There. I said it. I said I was going to finish those two d*mned rooms. Now, I just have to do it.

I’m hoping, but not particularly hopeful. Yesterday’s rain delay kept me from crossing variety of chores off the to-do list and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stressing at least a little about that. And rain is on the forecaster’s agenda for much of this week. Even as I type this, gray and black overtake what was a marginally blue sky.

That will grossly limit any activities I can do outside. So … I’ll have to see what I can get done indoors the next few nights. (Assuming I even feel like doing anything at all. Looks like work is going to be a real bear this week, particularly the first few days.)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rain Delay

I got up early this morning. Even so, I still got things going a little later than I'd planned. But considering that both the yard and the shed got done yesterday, I was still feeling pretty good about progress.

Today's list:
* Hit Home Depot and get some sand and rock. (Discovered in cleaning out the shed that I didn't have any spare sand. Sounds crazy considering that I went though about a ton of it last year! While there, return a few unneeded items.
*Use the sand -- and the concrete mix I discovered that I DID have -- to make some repairs to the walkway.
*Install decorative posts to the deckfloor.
*Put kickplate on the back door.
*Wash Pearl.

So far, I managed to complete the first and the last task. I made the Home Depot trip, came home, ignored the clouds and got everythhing out to work on the deck. It spritzed rain just as I was starting. Then, it rained a little harder.

So, I took a trip and got us some food. Came home washed Pearl (the sun was now out) and got ready to go back outside again. This time, it poured. And poured. And then poured a little more.
There are still some angry black clouds in the sky so not sure what the rest of the evening has in store.

I'm thinking my progress for the day, except for doing some things for work, is done.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sheddin' It

I've got a lot of things on my agenda for the weekend. The mother has her own, however. She's planning to clean the shed out today. Fun times.

On the bright side, at least it will be done. And, whatever is thrown out will be all ready for the trash man on Monday. On the not so bright side, I've got six other jobs I want to work on. This was NOT on my list. I've got both a yard and a bathroom to contend with! Not to mention, if I'm brave enough, a shutoff valve in the kitchen.

Every time we clean this thing out, or at least 90 percent of the time, it ends up raining. Even on the brightest of days, a sudden storm will come out of nowhere and soak all the stuff. I've never seen anything like it.

There isn't supposed to be any rain all weekend. So, I guess this will be a fun test for Mother Nature.

Right now, though, I get to go back to bed for a few hours. Ah, sleep ....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tucked Under the Stairs

When you have a small house, every inch of available space counts.

And when the mother lives in it, it becomes a mission to fill every inch of said available space. Hence the tiny room under the basement stairs. That's it. Right there. There's a boat on the door! (The family room has a nautical theme.)

I don't remember that space when we were looking at the house. I have no idea what, how, or even if the POs were using it in some way. I do know that it was not finished. The cinderblock wall was exposed as was the concrete floor.

Along the wall adjacent to the door, they didn't even bother to frame it in.

But after we moved in, the mother had shelves built along the tallest wall, an area that sits immediately to the side of the fireplace box. (Or to the left of that door.) Over the years, it came to hold various small pieces of furniture and was something of a storage catch-all.

But some years back, the mother decided to use it as a place to house a budding collection of Coke memoribilia. And the little room beneath the stairs has since become known as the "Coca-Cola Room. "

The little room is usually pretty quiet but in recent months it has seen a lot of activity. We had to go through there (and remove the shelving) to install the gas line for the fireplace. Then, months later, we had to shortcut through to run line for one of the added electrical outlets. Since then, it's been in a bit of a shambles. (In keeping with the theme for the rest of the house.)

But when the mother started clearing the family room, she cleaned the little room from top to bottom, rearranged the shelves and discarded the sheet thrown over an extension rod that had cloaked the content of the shelves for years. She was pondering having me put up shutters. Then she contemplated louvred doors. And then, she even thought about a bifold. (Wouldn't fit, at least not to open and close.)

Then, she hit upon a fake bamboo shade -- which we couldn't find one anywhere! One of her friends had one laying around, meant for something else but never used, and just gave it to her. When Lawrence was here last, one of his small jobs was to cut that shade to fit the shelf unit. It now looks like this when you open the door.

The shade fits perfectly and it hides all of the stuff that it stores. Lawrence did something I was awed by to get this 48-inch shade in a 34-inch space.

First, he took electrical tape applying it backwards (sticky side away from the surface) to the still wound in a cylinder shade. He did this top, middle, and bottom.

He then measured the cut points being careful to NOT cut off either of the hanging brackets. This is why both ends were cut instead of just one.

He then used a reciprocating saw and buzzed right through it. Just make sure while you're taping it up that the CORDS are beyond your cutting point. We lucked out.

Then, voila, custom shade! Just look how nicely it fits AND operates.

With the mother's ideas and Lawrence's little bits of outright ingenuity, what a perfect little project.

So that's the little closet under the stairs. But, if you're dying with curiousity, the shelves and that bit of furniture are what you see when you open the door. But what's off to the right? Just how deep does that little room go?
Well, just take a look. This is what you see from the doorway, looking right.

In the Night Sky

Happy Friday, everyone! Are you as happy as I am that it’s Friday?!

It’s surprisingly cool this morning, close to 60. I’m glad that I opted to spend a few seconds to grab a summer jacket as it is ridiculously cold on the bus. (Although it was an action that distracted me from getting my jewelry so I sit here with naked ears and fingers!) It will probably take me most of the morning to thaw.

Did you catch any of the Perseid meteor showers this week? (Chose this link because of its night sky diagram.) Surprisingly enough, I did.

On Wednesday night, I was taking some trash out and some things to throw to the birds when, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a shooting star. Now I don’t live in the country. There’s a street light both out front and out back. Even so, this thing was bright. Very fleeting, but very bright. It was awesome.

An hour or so later, I went back outside to grab something out of the car. As I was walking up the driveway, I saw another one! This one wasn’t nearly as bright – or as fleeting – it actually took a few seconds to disappear. It reminded me of one of the sparkly remnants of a fireworks display wafting back to earth. Too freakin’ cool!

I’m glad I got to see it. Sometimes those little things pay off in big ways.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Teethmarks and Tantrums

I’ve not heard any updates today, but yesterday the mother was ready to return Taz to the yard. Apparently, the baby is going through some feline form of the terrible twos.

He can be so perfectly sweet one minute. And the next? Think Linda Blair in the Exorcist.
And almost quickly as the flashes of evil go off, little Mr. Sweetness and Light returns. Just look at that “Who, me?” expression. See what I mean?

STOP Spammin’ Me

If you are from the U.K. Lottery, are the widow/son/brother of a Nigerian with seized assets, want to reduce my mortgage, would like to sell me a car warranty, or are primed to sign me up for a work-from-home business venture, this message is for you:

LEAVE ME ALONE!!!! If I could reach any or all of you, I would strangle you. With my bare hands. Twice. Seriously.

Stop texting my cell phone. Stop sending me emails. Stop leaving voicemail on my answering machine. Now, refer again to the paragraph above.

I am sick of logging on, answering or replaying only to be met with your meaningless garbage. I’m tired of having to waste valuable time erasing or deleting it so that stuff that IS important doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.

Are we clear yet on what I want? In the words of Greta Garbo (well, sort of): “I want to be (LEFT) alone.”

Now, borrowing from the great philosopher Forrest Gump: And that’s all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

All Decked Out

Over the weekend, the mother repainted the deck. This was after she spent an extensive amount of time caulking and doing other repairs and after I had replaced a few wayward boards. I’ll be doing just a bit more work on the deck in the not so distant future.

This has been an almost annual ritual since I rebuilt the deckfloor back in 1996. If I had had a choice way back then, I'd have loved to use one of those composite deck floors instead of pressure-treated lumber.

This brings me to our friends over at Better Homes and Gardens. If a deck is in your future – and, depending on where you live, you’ve still got a good chunk of summer to get cracking – you’ll definitely want to check out their Web site on all things deck-related.

Among the highlights of the complete list of deck resources are:
10 things to know before starting- perfect for first time deckees
Designing the perfect deck – make your deck shine while still saving $$$$
wood-deck maintenance - keep your deck immaculate for years to come
10-point safety checklist - deck safety tips from The National American Deck & Railing Association

Unfortunately, the deck at This D*mn House is pretty humble. It’s nothing so grand as these. Aren't they pretty?


"I refuse to endanger my children's health in a house with less than four bathrooms."

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House was on over the weekend and I couldn’t help but laugh at that line, delivered by Mrs. Blandings (Myrna Loy). I think that Mrs. Blandings was on to something. Having a single bathroom SUCKS. It should be law that any residence where more than one person lives must have at least two bathrooms. Especially when you share it with someone else and a few furry someone elses. And, especially when we’re talking about a room only slightly bigger than a postage stamp.

Case in point, last night:

NV: I’m going to take a shower now. (Goes about getting appropriate bath-related items and lays bath mat on floor.)

Toby the Cat decides this would be a good time to eat. (His bowls reside beneath the pedestal sink.)

The mother: I need to get my eye cream and the tweezers. (Enters bathroom, nearly tripping over cat and colliding with NV who is arranging bath items in tub.)

NV: Hey!

The mother: Sorry.

As everyone except the kitten is now in the bathroom, Ozzie the Yorkie arrives on scene to assess the situation. Enters bathroom.

NV: (entering shower) What is this? A family convention?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In The News

If you’re cost-conscious (read: cheap) like I am, you’ll appreciate the value that you bring to your DIY projects. I liked this article because it offered up some real-life potential cost savings on jobs ranging from installing flooring to replacing countertops to wallpapering and how you can save money – even if you only do part of the job before handing it off to a professional.

It made me feel a lot better about the work I’ve done so far and the work that still lies ahead in prepping the bathroom walls for the new wallpaper. (And what's funny is that one of the ways their cited expert says to remove old wallpaper -- exactly what I'm already doing!)

Putting the money you save back into your home isn’t a bad idea either. Here are some ideas on how to spend it without going overboard. And if you live in the Denver area, here’s some great places to get discounted materials for your next project.

But how much is too much? I found this brief in BusinessWeek that helps to answer the question: Is Your House A Money Pit? I’m with the author though. I think some of the cost projections were incredibly low.

Achieving any kind of success in a major DIY project requires one thing: organization. This article offers some keys to staying organized before and during the process. (This article smacks of the mother, I swear it does.)

I saved the best for last. Hats off to Tonawanda, N.Y., where city leaders recently passed a home tax break on certain property improvements. According to the mayor: “The current law punishes people who keep up their homes.” This is the way real estate improvement should be viewed.

It’s a far cry from the view of our wonderful governor in the great state of Illinois who has offered up some ambiguous proposal to tax “other services to buildings and dwellings” which may or may not impact home improvement.

When the Shut-off Won’t Shut Off

I was comfortable – finally – and just beginning to drift off when I heard the unmistakable sound that is an incoming text message on my cell phone. What the hell? I thought, I know it’s well after midnight.

I flipped on the light. 12:22. I padded over to my phone which I would normally have already turned off hours ago. I guess I’d forgotten. Maybe it was from the MonkeyGirl. Or maybe it was PB. She and I had been exchanging emails earlier in the evening. But no.

Homeowners, lower your mortgage with a loan modification. I didn't need to read any more. I could feel my face going red as the anger rose. B*stards! Calling people after MIDNIGHT! Can’t wait to turn this one in to the Do Not Call Registry where my cell has been registered for at least three months.

The wake-up was particularly ugly as I’d spent some of my limited evening fighting the kitchen sink. Remember how happy I was to have hot water and water pressure again? Well, the joy was short-lived. Over the weekend, the hot water wouldn’t shut off and would issue a steady stream even when off -- unless you turned the shut-off valve.

I can deal with this, I thought a few days ago as the sink and its fixtures will be gone in just a few weeks. But then last night, our temporary method failed. With a screwdriver, I finally managed to get the valve to activate and the water went off. But now what? I guess I need a new shut-off valve. Hmmm.

Plumbing is not my forte though I’ve done my share. I was trying to recall whether I’ve ever replaced a shut-off or not. Maybe in the bathroom, once, a century ago? Can’t remember. At any rate, it doesn’t look like it would be that hard. (Though those are historically the very kind of jobs I've found to be the most difficult.)

Sounds like I’ll be finding out sooner rather than later.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I've only just taken my first dose of antibiotics so I know that the ear infection isn't better yet. It's a good feeling just to know though that a genuine "better" is on the way. The ear drops I had on hand though have made the last day or so tolerable so I am feeling better. Thank you for all of the well wishes! I really do appreciate them.

Even better, I had the weekend to get my head screwed on straight and to let a whole bunch of meaningless crap roll off my back. It initially hit some kind of logjam between my head and the rolling off point, but I managed to clear the obstacles and start the stream going.

Does this mean that I am now immune to all these emotional landmines? Hardly. I am, after all, still human. (And a girl. And a Cancer. Moody lot we are on both counts.) But -- and this is a pretty ginormous but -- I reminded myself that that is energy that is so much more valuable if channeled in other directions. Easier said than done, but definitely worth the effort.

So instead of a silly girl wallowing in silly things (further held down in the mire by physical misery) the little powerhouse of a woman is on the way back. That officially puts both this house and my job on notice. (These two places being the beneficiaries of all that rechanneled energy.) I am a force to be reckoned with.

Look out! You were warned.

What’s In a Name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

-- Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

While the kitten is still largely referred to as “the baby” by both the mother and I, there has been a virtual tug of war going on for weeks now as to what to name him. And I beg to differ with Juliet. There's a lot in a name.

I like my name. I didn't when I was little. Kids used to make fun of it. Then, when every other female child on the planet starting being named "Nicole," the teasing ceased. So, I have always taken naming seriously. And I was feeling bad that our newest little guy has been around for weeks with no clear identity.

Part of the delay has been that his gender was unclear. That’s no longer an issue. He is clearly on his way to male catdom! The other part has been the mother’s insistence on giving him a “T” name. Tigger (1992-2009) was our original T-man, followed by Toby in 2006. “All our cats have T names,” quoth the mother.

We went through a list of names ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime before squaring off with our personal favorites. The mother was stuck on Todd/Toddy. (Immediately made me think of Robert Preston’s character of the same name in Victor/Victoria. I’m sorry. This little guy is not a gay showcat. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just not him.) Also, my mother had an aunt who went by Toddy. “My aunt was not gay or a showgirl,” insisted the mother. "I like that name."

Still, I would not give up on Taz. I think Taz is a perfectly adorable name and to me, it brings to mind images of the Tazmanian Devil of Bugs Bunny fame. This seems to fit our little resident ankle-biter to a T. (Pun intended.)

I was even more encouraged by Vicki over at NotSoSAHM who reported that she and her hubby’s first kitty was dubbed Taz as a unisex name. And Why from the House on Red Hill pointed out that Ozzie, Toby and Toddy just did not have the proper ring to it. How right you are!

Even so, the battle waged on. I have been defiantly calling the kitten Taz and he has even started to respond to it. Meanwhile, the mother has been decrying the name as stupid. But finally, last night, I heard for the first time, the mother call him Taz! “It’s like the Tazmanian Devil. He kind of is like that,” says the mother. (Seriously, he is. Don't be fooled for a second by that cute face.)

Yes! The V in NV today stands for victory

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Early and Often

Yesterday's heat was stifling. (Temperature: 97-99 depending on time. Heat index: 100-105). We've been so spoiled this season that an overdose of real summer is more than we can take!,

I did a bunch of running around yesterday. Pearl is generally some of the best kind of therapy for me (outside the general reassurance of my nearest and dearest in a variety of ways) so that did help overall. Even so, the heat and being sick nailed me. I didn't do anything that I had planned to yesterday except pick up the wallpaper for the bathroom. It's still going to be there, right?

In addition to picking up things so that we could eat (well, so the mother could eat; I've been eating soup, a sure sign of illness on my part), so the zoo could eat, and so the house an stay some semblance of livable, I bought and cut a board for the deck. The mother worked on the deck most of the day yesterday, despite my repeated warnings to just knock it off.

In fact, she's out there now and has been for a while. Better now though than later when the heat is to be a repeat performance of yesterday. I'm up early on kitten detail. (Taz, a name the mother is reluctantly dealing with, is growing like a weed and eating like a pig! He'll need his own house soon.)

Once he's lined out, it's nap time again for me. (See, I AM being good.) At some point, before the sun goes down, i'll put the new board on the deck. Otherwise, I'll do some stuff for work, continue to hold down the fort with the animals and just rest. I'm not even going to think about that yard ... much.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Farewell, John

I love movies. I always have. So, a piece of my youth died yesterday when I learned of the death of director/producer/writer John Hughes.

The man knew how to make people laugh. Or at least me. He made me laugh. A lot. While a lot of people will remember him mostly for the "Home Alone Series" or for "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," I loved his work with John Candy SO much more. I STILL cannot watch either "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" or "Uncle Buck" without breaking into hysterical laughter, in spite of having seen both movies dozens -- if not hundreds -- of times. After all, this was the man whose work spawned the screenplay for National Lampoon's Vacation.

As to my youth, I was a few years removed from the characters that were the main focus in "The Breakfast Club," "Pretty in Pink," and "Sixteen Candles" but was still a huge fan of all three. Especially Sixteen Candles.

Two other movies I liked of his were "Mr. Mom" and "She's Having A Baby."

While Hughes had disappeared from the limelight, it's hard to imagine that his memory isn't alive and well with GenXers.

It Could Be Worse

Remember when I said it could be worse?

It could be that the chaos at home and the hectic pace at work are taking a toll. Maybe it was the full moon. Possibly, the ill effects of sleep deprivation are in play. Or it might be the onslaught of the ear infection I now appear to have. Whatever it is, I'm sick as hell.

Frankly, I think it’s all of the above with a little bit of emotional baggage thrown into the game. I’ve done a lot of emotional purging this year and I know I’m not finished yet. Much like the house, I know it will all be for the good and in the end it will be awesome for me. While I know that, the path getting there can still be loaded with landmines. I've set off more than a few this week.

So for right now I'm going to crawl back in bed and dream of walls that don't need to be stripped and skim coated, floors that that don't need tiling, and cabinets that don't require sanding and painting.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Grass Is Always Greener

Surest way to know I’ve hit the lottery: Every piece of yard maintenance equipment I own will be sitting curbside for the taking as I will never touch it again. If you know me in the real world, or even if you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you know how I loathe, hate and despise yard work.

I come by it honestly. When I was a kid, my grandfather (Young Tom) would always say that you should only do one thing with a yard – blacktop it and park on it. Technically, that’s two things but you get the idea. The older I get, the more sense that old man makes.

In one of the towns where I used to work back in my newspaper days, one of the local funeral home directors would spray paint the grass out front green every fall so it would stay that way until spring. This thought occurred to me over the weekend after I’d finished mowing and was thinking how fab it would be to be able to shellac the yard since it’s all cut and trimmed now. What a fantastic product that would be!

I guess that thought wasn’t too far from my mind when I saw this post by our friends over at Charles & Hudson. And what’s funnier still is that the mother had even quipped to me: “There’s always Astroturf,” when I suggested the shellac! And while this isn't that per se, it kind of is -- only on steroids.

I can’t see me shelling out thousands of dollars to replace fake grass that’s only going to last a few years. And especially not stuff that requires three inches of underlayment! No, not more digging after last year, thankuverymuch.

I guess I’ll just keep gritting my teeth and stick with my weekly mowing adventures. Unless I could hit Mega Millions or Powerball. They are both over $100M this week. To steal a line from Judy Tenuta: "It could happen."

This Could Be the Day

This easily could be the day that I get up from my seat and smack Weird right in the head. Yes, it truly could be. (I am now thoroughly convinced that he actually is weirder than his twin Weirder. Maybe I should change the individual designations to Weirder and Weirdest)?

I’m usually pretty tolerant but on limited sleep over multiple days, that tolerance is not only thin, it’s anorexic. There are a number of factors playing into this, but the house is chief among them.

The bathroom wallpaper has still not arrived. Not that I’m ready to wallpaper yet. I still have walls to strip and skim coat. But it makes me just a little nervous that maybe it won’t be here by the weekend when I plan to be wallpapering. It’s supposed to be in the upper 90s with heat indices well over 100 so it sounds like as good a time to stay in the house and wallpaper as any.

The bus is busy but quiet this morning. (Good thing. My tolerance level would be off the charts.)
For the first time in a long time, the house is really getting to me. I am very anxious to get some things DONE. Complete. Finished. Over. I think you get the idea.

If the kitchen and bathroom were the only rooms to go, I think I could persevere. I think I could muddle through. But with so much other work still to go, I’ve lost my patience. Not that I had a lot to start with but I usually roll with the punches much better than this.

Here's hoping that a little caffeine and iTunes will be a soothing combination. Besides, it could always be worse. I could always have strep like Ty'smommy. Now that could ruin your day ...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

St. Louis Architecture: Union Market

It occurs to me that I haven’t done a history post in a while. That’s due primarily to the fact that I haven’t had time to do one. These aren’t entries I like to rush so I’ll apologize now for the long absence.

And while it’s been several weeks since I took the photos you’re about to see, I still have photos from other buildings I need to write about that I took last fall. That said, I’d better get crackin,’ eh?

Today, I’m highlighting Union Market – not to be confused with Union Station. (Union Station is on the outskirts of downtown and predates Union Market by about 30 years.) However, both sites have undergone dramatic renovations in recent years and now serve very different uses from their originally-designed purposes. Union market covers an entire block on the edge of the heart of the downtown business district, bordered by Broadway, North Sixth Street, Lucas Street, and Convention Plaza.
At that location, Union Market continued a tradition of marketing established on the same site circa 1866. Supposedly, the northern part of the property was made up of a collection of wagon markets.

When it opened in 1925, the product of a $1 million allotment (of an $87 million bond issue), Union Market was reported to be the second-largest market of its kind in the world. From its National Register of Historic Places application in August 1983, citing a 1925 St. Louis Post-Dispatch story:
“Located on the ground floor of the four-story building, the market area displayed terrazzo floors, white enameled brick walls and stalls with glassed-in showcases –features designed to achieve a "perfect sanitary condition at all times." In addition, a fish market in the southwest corner and a restaurant were both partitioned off from the main area. In the center of the south side of the market area, a mezzanine floor was reserved for the market master's office and a waiting room; the balcony surrounding the mezzanine provided space for band music performances. Truck delivery was received directly in the basement which was divided into space for employees' lockers, vegetable cleaning and storage of refrigerated foodstuffs and fish; a special elevator was provided for the transport of fish to the market floor. A special feature of the building was the 600-car garage which occupied the upper three floors.” (NV note: This is one of the earliest examples of indoor parking in downtown St. Louis.)

The first market to depart from 19th century conventional red brick classical forms, the buff brick and white terra cotta building “evoked an Italian Gothic spirit and presented impressive monumental facades on all four elevations.”

But the stardom of the structure would burn at meteoric temperatures. Within two years of its November 1925 opening – a three-day celebration – it was reported that the "finest market in the nation. . . if not an actual failure, it is obviously not a success."

Only 20 percent of the market stalls were occupied. And despite being hailed architecturally as a "thing of beauty" with "every known devise for handling food cleanly and attractively," the new market was already obsolete. Chain stores with lower prices, neighborhood stores, and the advent of both home delivery service and shopping by telephone had collectively conspired to kill the market’s business.

Even so, the fire didn’t burn completely out. Conversion of a portion of the building to a bus terminal in the mid-1930s as well as a steady clientele for a handful of niche market tenants, kept things going for another five decades. Then, declining occupancy prompted the city to close the market in the fall of 1982 and seek redevelopment in the private sector. At that point, the city had hitched the market’s hopes to the construction and development of the nearby St. Louis Centre. I remember the buzz surrounding St. Louis Centre in the 1980s because as a high school kid, I was working part-time just across the street from it. (Unfortunately, St. Louis Centre’s star burned completely out within a decade and it clung to life with just a few businesses until a few years ago. That building has only just reopened as a collection of inter-connected condominium units.)

In 1990, Drury Inn restored the building and it is now their Convention Center property. In this picture, if you look around the circle window, you'll notice the lighter bricks. That's where they had to be replaced because someone recently drove through the wall!

I go by this building every day so I see quite a lot of it. I remember going there in the mid- to late-70s (which, if you go through the paperwork on the NHRP application link farther up you can see some of the places that were there) with the mother. It’s yet another place with deep childhood associations that I’m so glad someone has restored rather than razed.

A Regular Nightmirror

I knew when the mother bought the mantle and mirror for downstairs that it was going to be a tight squeeze as the basement ceilings just aren’t that high. That, and the fireplace already has a brick hearth, leaving even less floor space.

This was confirmed during Lawrence’s visit Monday.
The new mirror is in a frame that sits atop the mantle.
It’s all very ornate and pretty.

But ornate eats up space. What it amount to is that the space is so tight, we’ll likely end up removing some of the bricks in the hearth to accommodate it.

Put bricks in. Take bricks out. Maybe I should have been a mason after all.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

More Recommended Maintenance

I have shared before some of the home maintenance tips that has been sharing for each month. I already have a jump on several of the recommended activities for August like this one:

Check faucets for leaks and replace washers or repair the faucet as necessary. I'm just not really sure why that's an August thing!

The September checklist seems to make a lot more sense.

I've found these to be helpful for the most part. Hope that you will, too.

Here's another good tip, though I don't find it particularly seasonal either.

And this article points out that required maintenance may depend a lot on where you live.

The Dog Days Are Here

Summer may have had a dubious presence in July, but it has returned with a vengeance in August. Yesterday was in the 90s with humidity making the air so thick you could almost cut it with a knife.

That continues this morning. Already 80 degrees at 6 a,m, with 89 percent humidity. Whew! Makes me wonder what the rest of the season will be like. Here’s hoping that the weather holds.
Sometime shortly after Labor Day, Lawrence and I are going to build up the driveway and reinforce the edge with concrete. We talked through the project yesterday in great detail.

Sounds like it will be an all-day job – but it also sounds like it can be done in a day.

I love talking through projects with Lawrence. He doesn’t bristle at anything. And even when my thinking is less than spot-on he always has a disarming way of telling me that. He might start, “I can see where you would think that, but …” or “that’s something you could do, but this might work better.”

Sometimes I could just hug him. Everyone should have a Lawrence.

Especially if they’re cooking up a grand conspiracy. And I am cooking one up. If I can score the time off work, Lawrence will help me for at least a day or two. The goal: Finish the kitchen and bathroom before the mother gets back from her trip.

I don’t know where she got the idea that she’s the only person who can paint (especially considering that it was ME who painted the house a few years ago) but that’s her thinking. And she has a LOT to paint. A LOT. But in typical mother fashion, she’s in 80-project mode, all over the place like an ADHD kid.

One thing I can’t seem to get her to move on though is the kitchen cabinets. I want them done – yesterday. In fact, a few weeks ago, I wrote on my calendar that by Aug. 17, the kitchen and bath are done – or I move. (Well, that was a little premature, if not a little rash. At the time, it was done in the interest of my sanity. These jobs are just going on for entirely too long.) However, add a few weeks to that date and I just might make it.

For now, the goal is to see how much I can get done in those two rooms before she leaves. But today, I go back to the job that pays the bills so the house stuff will have to wait.

For now.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Water ! (But in a Good Way)

Lawrence was here today. It was an odd hodgepodge of jobs I had lined out for him. But like I told the mother, it’s all those “little things” that we never seem to get to because the bigger jobs always take infinitely longer than planned or something else pops up and keeps us from getting them done.

Today’s list was so light that I revisited the issue of the 2-3 minutes it takes to get hot water in the kitchen. This has been going on since we put the new water heater in last June. Initially, it was really annoying. But, like a door that always squeaks, or that funny noise your car sometimes makes, you just get used to it. So, we learned to live with waiting for the hot water in the kitchen.

Since then, we’ve had a series of issues with the faucets and I’ve said several times “Let’s just buy new fixtures.” We finally did last year. (In fact, it was kind of this purchase that spurred the whole “let’s redo the kitchen” movement.) They’ll be installed with the new sink.

But that wasn’t helping us right now.

Even before the new water heater, we’d had issues with the kitchen faucet. It had progressively lost water pressure. Not surprising. The city has a lot of smaller, older lines. But … those got replaced recently so I was wondering why the water showed no improvement.

Lawrence thought the problem might be the connection of the kitchen faucet’s hot water line to the water line in the basement. He thought a fitting might need replacing. After fighting with the fitting for more than 20 minutes, another part came loose instead. “This isn’t jammed up,” he concluded. So back upstairs we went.

One by one, Lawrence eliminated potential problems. But then, things got worse. Where we once had slowly streaming take forever to get hot water, we now had barely a trickle. “It will take you two years to fill the sink at that rate,’ Lawrence quipped. He finally took the single spigot off and to steal a line from Shakespeare “there’s the rub.”

A valve inside it that controls the switch from the faucet to the hose sprayer (something that has never worked right and which we only used briefly after it was first installed) had rusted and was clogging the line!

After he popped the culprit out , not only did the water get hot within a matter of seconds, it shot out like a fountain. Hot water and water pressure returned. I’m still giddy about it. The mother is, too.

Amazing the things you can just learn to live with sometimes.

Just Like the Old West

Spaghetti western music plays in the background.

I stand in the afternoon sun, armed. My hands clasp my weapons of choice. Suddenly, there’s activity to my right. I fire.

But instead of bullets, my fingers on the triggers emit a fine but forceful mist. Bullseye! Like a victorious gunfighter, I stand over my target. DIE! DIE! DIE! I yell gleefully as I drown it with Raid.

Yes, Raid. My "targets" are the hornets that have taken up residence beneath the siding on one corner of the house. I was attacking them because they were attacking the mother as she worked on the house foundation. Essentially, I was playing bodyguard!

It made for an interesting afternoon. I managed to get stung -- not while I was on bodyguard detail -- but just standing in the carport. I looked down in just enough time to see one crawling on my foot. I tried to swat at it but it was too late. OUCH!

Fun times.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wallpaper Woes

Because I now have the joy of repapering the bathroom (yes, I needed one more project --*rolls eyes*) it also means that I have to strip the existing wallpaper.

Man. The sh*t I get myself into. These walls are awful!

On the plus side, stripping the walls is like unlocking a time capsule. I DID remove the vinyl wallpaper that had been up prior to this pattern, but I didn't put that stuff up. So I had no idea what awaited me.

I took down the shower curtain rod that has been up since we bought the house. Somehow, I managed to get the thing down -- something we couldn't accomplish the last time I wallpapered the bathroom. So that was a plus. And there was a piece of the time capsule: the brackets to the rod each concealed tiny swatches of the horrid blue floral wallpaper that was in the bath when we bought the house. Funny. Between the horrid blue (and accompanying blue accessories and the floor ... we won't go there. I'll have nightmares.) in the bathroom and that absolutely disgusting green floor in the kitchen, we sure looked past a whole hell of a lot to buy this place!

Luckily, I had the foresight to pick up some DIF wallpaper remover while I was at Wal-Mart on Friday. That helped me to remove the two or more layers of adhesive that was beneath the wallpaper. I found more "time capsule." Apparently, there was a tan vinyl wallpaper on the walls at some point in the past. And a long time before that, the walls were pink!

The sad part, is that after working part of the afternoon and all evening, all I managed to accomplish was removing the old paper, removing the layers of wallpaper adhesive, wiping down the surface, and applying the first layer of skim coat -- to one wall. (The largest wall, to be sure, but just ONE wall.)

I ought to be finished with this prep job around Christmas ...

Saturday, August 1, 2009

It's ALL Good!

I highlighted One Project Closer's Before and After '09 program a few weeks ago. I sent them an entry just like I had last year.

Today, it features my brick and walkway project! Because Gmail is being a difficult creature, I learned this from Google Reader instead of the nice note they sent me of which I can only see the first line. I have to tell you, I'm blushing a little but still bursting with pride at the same time.

This is really great for a number of reasons. It's always fabulous to be recognized by great sites like OPC. And a $25 gift card to Lowe's, Home Depot or Amazon -- you guys really know how to make a girl smile! But the best thing of all ...

Having a donation made to Habitat for Humanity in my name. What a great thing that is! This is a group that I've worked with before and that I promise, if I can ever get This D*mn House under control, I'll work with again. My mediocre skills and collection of tools can definitely be put to the greater good.

Thank you Fred, Ethan, and gang for the honor and the accolades!

Be sure to put your own B&A into the mix because it's ALL good!

Something Is Finished

Even if I get nothing else done before I go back to work on Tuesday, I can say that I finished something while I was off! I spent Friday afternoon putting the trim on the shed and switching out some short screws for galvanized deck screws.

The mother got it painted last weekend. Before that, it looked like this.

That was a few months ago, before she got to painting it.

This is yesterday with the whole thing painted and with upper and lower trim attached. It's not perfect, but at least it complements the house again. And, more importantly, it won't fall down! I can feel satisfied that something got done while I was off, even if it wasn't what I had in mind.