Sunday, September 30, 2012

Inside and Out

"So you're working on your house …"

That's what the guy two seats up said to me after listening intently to a conversation I'd had with one of my fellow bus riders. (A rider I knew from when I rode the bus every day for a few years.) Because of the threat of severe storms for most of last week, I took to riding the bus again.

I gave a one-word response: Yes.

"What are you working on?"

The temptation to tell him what I am NOT working on was almost too hard to resist, but I managed. Again, a one-word response: Everything. 

And lately, it's true.

Yesterday, for example, we scrubbed the house. This annual event -- usually done in July -- is a pain-staking procedure, in part because the mother has a method and you do not deviate from the method. (The good news is that I was able to go off on my own and run the activity my way while she dealt with other stuff. That's the ONLY reason the house itself got finished.)

Today will be about putting everything, which is now ideally dry, back into place and scrubbing down the few things that didn't get scrubbed when we ran out of daylight. And about mowing. (I tried to tell the mother I should mow FIRST and THEN scrub the house, but … I didn't win the argument.) So, today, I will hear about "the mess" that will inevitably occur when I mow. Sigh.

I snuck in some time one day last week to do a few nip/tucks to the last of the bathroom trim, so ideally, that will go up this week. And then maybe I can focus on ONE thing again for a while.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Plan E

They say the fifth time is a charm.

OK. Maybe they don’t say that, but it seems to be the reality for trying to finish the bathroom. “Plan E” is what I’ve settled on, having gone all the way through Plan F with options.

The weekend was gorgeous. Sunny. Dry. Highs near 70. Saturday was a little blustery with winds gusting up to 30 mph but Sunday? It was perfection.

The mother wanted to scrub the house down (an annual occurrence) but it was too cool in the early mornings (45-50) to play outside with water and I needed to catch up on the recently reappeared yard AND cut the final trim boards for the bathroom. (I would like to finish it this century.) I spent all weekend outside. The weather made me not resent that too much.

You may recall that the trim along the top of the shower surround is the LAST job of any real consequence (besides hanging a few of the mother’s manillion decorative items).

You might also recall that Plan A was to use porcelain 1x6 tiles to both fill the corner gaps and to give a finished look to that edge. I wisely changed my mind. Plan B was to use the trim that I’ve use in myriad other ways throughout the bathroom. (Thin wood trim that matches the chair rail I put up.) The mother put the kibosh on that.

Plan C was something else I don’t even remember but something that never got out of my head. Plan D was “cellular vinyl” exterior trim. My plan was to use it, miter the corners, the thickness of the two boards, ideally filling the rounded corners of the surround. Except that didn’t quite work.

Plan E then become a combination of Plan D and an abandoned element of Plan: corner joiners. This little blocks, which come in a variety of materials, shapes and styles, allow you to join up two corners without mitres. I didn’t mind the mitering; it just left an awkward gap. The joiner fills it pretty close to perfect.

On Sunday, I managed to get the odd little trim pieces cut AND the three pieces for the shower. Carelessly, I left the one that I had carefully cut to allow for the showerhead, temporarily in place while I measured and then cut the longer piece that it will join. I came in from cutting the long piece to find my perfectly-fitted piece laying in the bathtub … and neatly snapped in two where it fits around the showerhead. So, I’m hoping that when I install that part, I can meld the pieces back together with some caulk and a little paint.

For now, Plan E is still the plan. Plan F involves pieces that won’t work. So, should my nifty little knit together idea fails, I guess there will be a Plan G.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wishful Thinking Again

I wish I could say that my absence from the blog has been due to all of the incredible progress I made, allowing me to finish the bathroom.

Instead, I spent most of the weekend lounging or in bed, battling yet ANOTHER sinus infection. (Thank you, uber screwy weather.) I didn't even mow for fear I'd further aggravate things. So, nothing got done. Nothing.

It really sucks, too, because the mother has moved on to a multitude of other inter-related and unrelated projects. (She truly is ADHD.) As I type this, I'm sitting here with a flannel sheet wrapped around me, feeling crappy. (A bad day at work didn't help either.)

It poured this morning and was still raining steady when I left work. Now though, the sun is trying to come out.

It can only get better, right?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Say That Again

The mother: I really like how that’s looking.
Me (in an astonished tone): What? The bathroom?
The mother: Uh-huh.
Wait. Who are you? And where’s my mother?! For the past few weeks, all I’ve heard come out of the mother’s mouth is: “It’s too white. I hate white.” Funny. This is the same woman who fought with me three years ago over painting the faux tin ceiling panels black. And the same woman who, just a month or so ago, put up almost as big a fight when I said I wanted the chair rail and quarter-round black, too. Even so, she's still partial to the off-white/beigy/pale yellow color that was there before.
Generally, I leave designing to the mother; I’m more of an order-taker in that department. Occasionally though I feel strongly about something. And, I felt pretty strongly about off-setting all that white with some bold statements of black. (And thank you, Karen Anne, for your choice of the word “stunning” in describing the new black trim. I am still grinning over that one.)
I’m down to a few pieces of trim. Trim which managed to set off another battle between the mother and I. This time, I wanted to use a thin rope-style wood trim – painted black – to serve as a transition between the wallpaper and the tub surround. This wasn’t an issue with our old tub surround as it went up almost to the ceiling. (This is a shot from 2009, back before we got the new tub surround.) See how the surround is separated from the molding by a thin strip of wallpaper? That's no longer the case. You may recall the debacle that ensued when this surround was replaced on the hope of putting in what was an awesome surround -- but that wouldn't fit!

So, right from the start, the bathroom design had changed and I inherited 16 more inches of wall space to cover on the three sides of the shower. But back to the trim. I wallpapered that inherited space from the new molding that meets the ceiling down to the top of the new (now 3-year-old) surround. It wasn't a pretty transition so it needed something. "If you put that wood up there, it will rot," the mother insisted. I don't think it's quite that tragic but admittedly, it will get an occasional water splash and it will always be subject to steam. What could I use? This was a dilemma over the holiday weekend.

My first thought was some of the boards I'd used on the shed. Nothing fancy there though. But as I walked away, something at the opposite end of the molding aisle caught my eye: cellular vinyl DECORATIVE exterior trim. YES! Essentially, it's hardcore plastic (PVC). And paintable. And not that expensive. (A little over a $1 a foot.) Double YES! That's what I painted Monday afternoon ... and have yet to install. I'll get to it. I've just pushed so hard that I gave myself a little downtime.
It's been so funny to look at pictures like this. The bathroom HAS changed. In some ways, a lot. In some ways, not that much. But, in putting together ALL OF THE ELEMENTS old and new ... the change is pretty impressive. Photos to come soon, I promise!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hey … What's That Green Stuff?

Oh. My. God. IT's GRASS!

For the first time all summer, we got serious rain. And we got it not once, not twice but three times in the same week. Following last Friday evening's soaker, all of a sudden we had a yard again. For me, not having to mow and weed eat has been the silver lining of the season's extreme temperatures and subsequent drought.

I never realized that I really did miss it.

Especially now, now that the yard is mowed and neatly trimmed and the associated mess cleaned up and (as of this afternoon) hauled away. Driving up to the house today, it was nice to see. Of course, it required a detour from my existing to-do list. That seems to be a theme around here though.

It took a good chunk of Sunday to complete. And, because I was busy with that, and because the wind was a little on the blustery side, I didn't get the last of the trim for the bathroom painted. (I sprayed it.) I rectified that today. It's all getting good and dry now downstairs. Now, to get it cut AND up.

I did manage to accomplish lining out the rest of the hardware for the bathroom (glass Victorian knobs). A quick trip to Home Depot remedied that this afternoon. (I needed, of all things, a wingnut.)

So, I'm happy to report, the bathroom is officially in the home stretch. Super YAY! Stay tuned for details …

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Not So Funny Joke

Do you remember how comedians used to regularly start jokes like, "My wife is SOOO fat …" and wait for the corresponding, "How fat IS she?" response from the audience? Remember those jokes?

My bathroom IS one of those jokes. And I'm not laughing.

Yesterday afternoon I was moving right along, managing to cut the quarter-round with only ONE mitred angle error when I made a rather nasty discovery that begins with: My bathroom is SOOOO small. How small is it? So small that I can't get a 46-inch piece of quarter-round to the wall in a single piece – without dismantling plumbing at one end or the other. ARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!

There's another option, of course. It means cutting the piece. And that sucks. I've not decided yet whether I'm going to do it or not or if I'm brave enough to put on my plumber's hat. (I'm of the school that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm of that school because the lessons I've had have taught me time and again to NOT go mucking with things within This D*mn House that are otherwise sound … it's generally not a risk worth taking.)

How can a 30-square-foot room be this difficult? The finish line is definitely within reach but looks like it's going to be one helluva home stretch.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Bit O' Bathroom Bling

Now that Blogger has decided to start working again (after not letting me post for a few days -- third or fourth time this has happened this year!), here's a post I wrote yesterday.

I know I've been very quiet but I've been incredibly busy. The bathroom is … not done. But the finish line is SO close, I can almost touch it!

We're down to some smaller details after a whirlwind of weekend activity. (Amazing how fast four days can go.) I also had a change of heart this morning. I have decided NOT to put the 1x6 ceramic tiles along the top of the shower wall. Instead, I'm going to go with a thin wood trim that I've already used elsewhere in the bathroom. (I haven't told the mother this yet but, other than the fact that it will have to be painted, I don’t think she's going to object. I may even try to sneak in the painting myself so she has absolutely nothing to complain about.)

I can't describe how exciting it has been to watch each little thing we've done FINALLY start to come together. It's hard to imagine that such a tiny room could be so much work, but it really has been. In fairness, we've been slowed by a combination of things over the past few days, too, including weather (much-needed rain which has severely aggravated my arthritic left wrist and hand), doing a host of small things in the kitchen which is the next target, and waiting for paint and/or caulk to dry. It also didn't help that I came home from work Thursday and began fixing the bathroom floor. This included replacing tile and then ripping out bad grout in certain areas. After a whirlwind shopping trip on Friday, I grouted those areas and then after leaving it exposed overnight, covered it with paper to protect it during Saturday's session with Lawrence.
One of the biggest accomplishments of Lawrence's was installing the new bathroom lights.

I'll leave you with a little preview that mixes his handiwork with that of mine and the mother's during this major transformation of a tiny little room. I'll apologize now for the somewhat poor quality. I was tired and having trouble with light and shadow.
Here you see the wallpaper, new switchplates (with handy dimmers installed) the new black chair rail against the freshly painted white beadboard.

Can anyone say BLING?! (The bling was installed by ME!) You also get to see the ceiling (NOT new) with the egg and dart moulding (NEW!) and the mother's handiwork with the decorative back she painted for the light.