Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Not a word for two years, then two posts in one night

I just bought this for my bathroom:

Do I have it in my budget to buy this right now? Well...... no. But it wasn't something that required a second mortgage or credit of any kind, and I don't buy something if I can't find the cash to pay for it, anyway (the only credit I have is my mortgage and I'm trying to get that paid off as soon as possible). But still, this will take a combination of creative rearranging and doing without to pay for it, but I just couldn't risk that someone else would buy it before I could more easily figure out how to pay for it.

I'm not someone who needs "things" to be happy, and yet there are things that make me feel happy. I love that this is at least roughly from the original period of this house (1920s/30s). I love imagining it being used for many generations -- little hands struggling to reach for a cup and lined hands dropping his teeth into a cup, toothbrushes and shaving powders and combs and tweezers and aspirin and valium taking their places and times on the shelf. I don't know if I believe in ghosts -- I'll accept that they might be possible, but have never seen or heard of any evidence that seemed credible to me -- but I do believe that somehow, well used and largely ignored household items pick up the energy from all the people who use them. How else can you explain that there can be an item that's 90 years old and a near-identical item that's newly made, and there is just something that emanates from the old and well-used item that can't be explained otherwise.

Dang, I didn't realize it had been so long

Whoa! I didn't realize that it had been almost 3 years since I last updated. I know that some people are able to raise kids and get tons of work done, but apparently I'm not one of them -- our now 5.5 year old granddaughter has lived with us full time since 2/08, and our just-turned-16 year old granddaughter (who has lived with us off and on all her life) has lived with us full time for just over a year now. Maybe if I were 20 years younger I would have the energy to parent two very different (though both exceptionally wonderful) kids, but I tell you -- there's a reason why nature made it so that women in their 50's typically don't have very young kids to raise, and it's one of God's many jokes to combine a rising-hormonal teen with a disappearing-hormonal grandma.

We actually have done some things since then -- or rather, we've paid to have things done. We had a concrete floor poured in the garage (along with new walkway in back and some patching done on the basement floor), we had the garage and the front porch painted, we had some structural repairs done under the porch and a hole patched in the soffits, and thanks to my dad (along with some hired muscle to dig a long trench through a zillion roots) I now have updated power out to the garage (plus lights in the garden shed) so that in theory I could set up the workroom that I really want. And I was able to do a few things towards that goal: I built some scrap wood storage bins and a simple workbench (love the Kreg jig that made that so much easier!), and I bought a router from Craigslist but haven't used it yet, but between the garage being filled with most of my step-d's worldly possessions for the past year, my physical limitations that I finally learned were because I have two disks in my neck pushing into my spinal cord (surgery 1/3/12, fun fun fun!), and the fact that we pushed everything over to one now impenetrable side in order to get my van in there (what a concept, a VEHICLE in the garage!) when Irene came through here a couple of months ago, nothing else has happened.

And when I say nothing else, I mean nothing: The dining room floor project? Still not done (though we did at least find a much nicer rug to go over the crappy subfloor). The bathroom project? Still not done (though I'm going to ask my dad to fix the electrical issues that I wrote about almost 3 years ago when he and my mom are here to help out for a couple of weeks after my surgery). We will at least soon have natural gas in the house, which will mean a tankless HWH, a GAS STOVE (hallelujah!!), plus gas lines run for a future gas fireplace and future gas dryer, but that's only because we committed to the gas company that we'd have that done by the end of this year so that they'd run the hookup to our house for free, before the bottom fell out of our finances, so that's going to get paid... somehow.

But past that? Feh. Nothing serious on the horizon, since money is so extremely tight (can't do my usual extra jobs because of the physical issues, both 10 year old cars have needed WAY too much work in the past months, the impending gas installation, we've been sucked into financially supporting our elder granddaughter's cheerleading habit, and I'll be out on disability for two months after this surgery) and I'm not physically able to handle the work that I'd normally be able to do for very little money (rip out drywall, wiring, get the workshop set up, finish the dining room floor, etc.) because of the physical problems. But I'm hoping that by the time my summer break rolls around, I'll be given the go-ahead to finally do the work I've been wanting to do for a long while.

So how's that for a long-winded "not much to update but I'm gonna do it anyway" post?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Music and Paris

We have a new member of our family. Folks, meet Paris:

She is a 1.5-2 year old lab mix the color of a really good piece of dark chocolate that we adopted from The Delaware Alliance for Animal Welfare Groups ( just over a week ago. She was a stray rescued by them from a shelter in VA where her time was up and she was about to be killed, then remained in their care for quite a while due to what her foster mom (and one of DAAWGS primary organizers) called something like "black dog syndrome" since apparently people are far less likely to show interest in a black dog.

Well let me tell you that their disinterest is our gain. As someone who has adopted and done my best to train seven rescued dogs in the past 30 years, most of which were too damaged to get past some of their significant issues, we have hit the doggie lottery jackpot here. She is without question the most well behaved and naturally patient and sweet dog I've ever had. Mellow. Sweet. CALM! I've never had a calm dog before. Thanks to her foster homes (and possibly some pre-shelter training) she is housebroken, does well on the leash (when not tempted by small furry things like squirrels), understands some basic obedience commands and is quickly learning others. She is every parent's/grandparent's dream with our 2.5 year old granddaughter, who climbs all over her, plays "peek-a-boo" with her ears, attempts to ride her like a horse, and tries to hand-feed her instead of allowing her to eat from her own bowl. Paris just sits patiently through even the most exasperating of our grandaughter's activities and covers her with kisses.

I also wanted to post to put in a plug for Woodstock Chimes ( I've had their alto Gregorian Chimes in my Amazon wish list for years, based on an original recommendation for their chimes from a musician friend, and finally bought them for myself. The chimes are perfectly tuned. I can't carry a tune in a bucket myself and I don't have any exceptional musical talent, but one thing I can do is identify when something is even slightly out of tune (how I've survived so many elementary school musical productions so far is due only to love). I have seen and tested out dozens of chimes over the years and something is always just a tiny bit off on most of them. But every note of these chimes was tuned to a perfect 8-note chord.

They don't look any different than most chimes that you see out there, but their sound is extraordinary. Their website includes recordings of their different chimes (here's their recording of the chimes I have) but their recordings honestly don't do justice to their sound. I plan to place these in front of my house so that I can hear the chimes from my front porch or when my bedroom window is open, and I plan to add their baritone Gregorian chimes to my wish list to expand on my front-yard wind orchestra, and save up my pennies since I'm finally convinced of how much they are worth their cost.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lusting After Power Tools

I have said it before: I am a power tool slut. It doesn't matter that I'm a super-busy lazyass who gets less done in a year than most housebloggers get done in a weekend. Some power tools just get me... oh my Maude. Heart pounding, breath shallow and fast, pupils dilated, squirmy in my seat. Get the picture? Understand now why I love hanging out at Lowes?

I have a new object of insane desire: The Dewalt Tracksaw. Oh my freakin' Maude. I WANT. I can't justify getting one right now, even as a substitute for the table saw that I wanted SO much but can't really justify because in order to set up a real workshop I'd need to seriously upgrade the power going to my garage (which is not a simple task considering that it's on the other side of the yard from the house). But this... this can do what a table saw could do, without taking up the space of a table saw.

Check this baby out:

I'm entering into the contest at One Project Closer to try and win one. Oh the glorious things I could do with this tool...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Kitchen Inspiration

Yes, I need to focus on the bathroom right now. But as I start to have a pretty clear idea of what I want in there, I can't help but allow my thoughts to stray into the kitchen, which we need to replace all of the cabinets and redesign the layout a bit so that we can collect on the wedding present my parents have offered to us: A dishwasher. There's just no place to put one in the current kitchen layout, and I don't see replacing a few of the cabinets with more of the same unfinished sawdust-board box cabinets that are in there now. I'd rather do it right and get a kitchen that I'm really going to like.

And as I've stated many times before: Yes, our kitchen is functional and there's nothing seriously wrong with it. I just don't like it. And I need to like it. The kitchen is the most important room in the house to me. Cooking is my most significant creative outlet, and I need that room to spark my creativity instead of make me feel like I'm still living in some cheapass rundown apartment in Canton, Ohio. I want something that makes me feel good, and that is suited to the character of our old home. Our kitchen, as it is now, will never make me feel good, and it is totally out of place in this house. I'm not fool enough to consider dropping a fortune on whatever we do - it's got to fit in the current footprint (meaning, I'm not going to be able to make it no longer too small) with minimal changes to the layout of electrical and plumbing, for example - but I know I can get a kitchen I can love even within those limitations. I don't need fancy bells and whistles. I just need a kitchen that makes me smile and feel good.

So I've started to poke around on ideas. Tonight I hadn't planned to focus on the kitchen, beyond researching microwaves to replace ours that blew out the other day in a shimmering sparking blaze of glory (two-year-old cheapass piece of shite that it was). But microwave research led to kitchen remodeling discussion with someone on another forum which led to a recommendation to check out this thread over at the GardenWeb forums, which led to that poster's set of pictures of his new kitchen, which led to this picture:

I love so much about this kitchen. Of course it's 3-4 times the size of mine, but I love the feel of it. The style of doors and drawers are exactly what I've been looking for. I love the varied cabinet heights. This is definitely an inspiration kitchen for me.

Thanks, Mrs. B.!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

It's not being greedy, just trying to get lucky

I wasn't going to enter this month's One Project Closer contest because I just won one and I'm feeling a bit guilty that I won't be able to try it and review my new mosquito-ridding toy until the weather warms up a bit.

However, earlier this evening I turned on the ugly cheap "contractor grade" fan in the living room to diffuse killer over-sugared over-hyped toddler diaper from hell smell and it started acting all whonky and sounding totally off, to the point where I turned it off and raised the chain up to remind others not to use it. And I was going to leave it at that but then I went to check my email and read and replied to their latest post and remembered their contest for this month which is a $175 certificate for a ceiling fan from Home Depot, and I decided that there's nothing wrong with trying to get lucky.

So here it is, less than half an hour before the deadline, another shameless entry for one of their contests.

I feel lucky, oh so lucky, I feel lucky and plucky and GAY!! And I pity, any girl that isn't me today....

(OK, it's late and I'm weird, and I love old musicals and making up new lyrics to songs.)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cold Weather as Motivator

That does it. We finally had to turn the heat on (no chance of making it to my normal November 1st goal, which is always much more fantasy thatn reality). Though "heat" in this house is a very subjective term - our high temperature is what most folks turn theirs down to while they're gone in order to save money. We're most definitely a heavy sweaters, fuzzy slippers, lap robes and down comforters kind of household.

But cold weather means baths. And baths right now stil mean that dinky straight-sided shallow piece of cheap trash that's in my bathroom.

My remodel, planned as this past summer's project, has been delayed by unexpected events, economic concerns, and bald-ass laziness, but NO MORE. By the end of this week I will have done a final review of the plumbers that I interviewed and call one up and start making arrangements. By the middle of next week I want to have ordered all that I need to order (if I use the plumber who would have me do that instead of my buying it through him). I will have made at least the first call to my chosen plumber in an attempt to set up a date.

I WILL get my new bathtub in before the end of the year, so help me Maude.

The rest... no promises. At this rate the room might not be tiled and finished until Chanel marries a skilled carpenter and tiler, but that won't matter if I can relax in my tub with a well-worn book in my hands and perhaps a drink on the side.

I am SO ready to start ripping that crap out of there.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I should be embarrassed to do this, but...

Yes, I haven't updated in a while, because there's nothing much house related to update: Bathroom renovation is still stalled, garage never got painted, dining room floor never got refinished. There's still a long list of "wants" and "to-do's" but very little activity. Life just keeps seeming to sidetrack us big-time, mostly in good ways (getting married, having the grandkids with us most weekend, being very busy with our good jobs that we're so blessed to have in these uncertain economic times), plus, let's face it -- when we're not sidetracked, we're usually either just wiped out by everything else, or just too damn lazy to get started on anything.

Oh, wait. I lied. There is one delightful update - my parents are getting us a dishwasher for a wedding present. This is wonderful because (a) a house this size needs a dishwasher for resale value somewhere down the road, and (b) V's eczema is making dishwashing more and more difficult and painful. Except, our tiny kitchen has no place for a dishwasher, so installing one means a pretty significant kitchen remodel. So we're adding that to the list.

But here's where the embarrassing part of this post comes in. I know that the last time I posted here, it was a shameless bid to win some tools from One Project Closer. But now the stakes are even higher: Now they're giving away a Mosquito 86 Gas-blower based Mosquito Prevention System. And HELLO, we live in Delaware, where the mosquitoes swarm as thick as flies on day-old dog poop.

Let me put this in perspective: Way back in the very early "getting to know each other and trying to impress" stage of our relationship, V. visited from NJ and volunteered to tackle a tedious outdoor project for me that took about an hour. I highly recommended bug spray; V. scoffed. I still found it in myself to be sympathetic over the next couple of days without ever saying "I told you so" (since it was, of course, still in the early stages of our relationship and V. was unaware of how bad we had it here - now of course I'd do my wifely best to say some variation on "What the HELL were you thinking?!?" as often as I could) as I repeatedly treated her swollen, itchy arms which - no exaggeration - had around one bite every square inch. One of the most shocking and delightful parts of our visit to San Francisco was realizing that there were no screens in the windows where we stayed, because there were no mosquitoes to eat us alive as we slept.

I really really really want to be able to go outside in the summer and not drench myself and my granddaughters in poison; to me, that more than balances out my ambivalence about spraying mosquito poison around my yard. I really really really want to have a summer that doesn't include keeping batches of my special mosquito bite salve -- the contents of benadryl capsules mixed up with neosporin with pain relief and cortisone cream -- stashed around the house. I really really really want to stop worrying so much with every heartworm check done on the dogs since I know they're bitten regularly.

So I really really really want to win this, and I have no shame in posting this here in order to significantly increase my chances of doing so. I will not pretend subtlety. Pick me. Please. K?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Keeping my fingers crossed

Between getting married and the school year starting, I have done nothing on the house beyond arranging for some trees to be trimmed and browsing for kitchen cabinets.

So let me indulge in a little hopeful fun: Posting in order to enter a contest.

The folks over at the truly awesome One Project Closer blog have some Irwin tools to give away, and would like to know how I'd use them if I won.
  1. The locking pliers are the most versatile: One of the first things I learned about home ownership is that there is very little that can't be fixed in a pinch with vise grips and duct tape. I already have duct tape. I already have vise grips, too, but they're all old and cranky and they don't have cool blue handles.
  2. The adjustable wrench will go into my car to replace the adjustable wrench that Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless broke while trying to use them to pound something that should have been pounded with a hammer. EVERYone (well, everyone except S.W.S.R.N.) knows that if you need to pound something and you don't have a hammer, you use vise grips, not an adjustable wrench.
  3. The spring loaded needle nose will become my dedicated kitchen needle nose pliers, and used to remove pin bones from trout and other pin-boney fish. Guests don't look all that comfy with the cook digging into a grimy toolbox for something that then gets used to prepare dinner.
I could have written about using these for far more house related purposes, described some specific projects, such as how the needle nose pliers will likely be useful as I continue redoing the electric in the bathroom remodeling project, the adjustable wrench will be used for the bolts on the small raised pool deck that we're getting from someone that needs to be disassembled and reassembled and added on to turn it into a fort for when BabyGrand gets a little older, or that the locking pliers will be used for... well, just about everything since locking pliers really are, in my book, one of the most useful tools out there (especially for folks like me who regularly need a third hand). But the answers I gave are my more honest ones.

I realize that I have about as much chance at winning as I do of getting the bathroom remodeled before the end of 2008 (yeah, RIGHT) but hey, it's fun to dream about winning! I've never won anything online before, except for a poem written in my honor. Oh, but what a fine poem that was, indeed...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A whole lotta nothing (except a wedding!)

Well, so much for my summer break work-on-the-house plans. Between teaching, 2+ weeks in NC, and planning a wedding, it just didn't happen.

It's going to, though. I'm going to call the Selected Plumber this week to make sure of what the price quoted includes and get a date scheduled, then get the tub and fixtures ordered. Even if all that happens before the end of this year is my new tub, my new tub IS going to happen, dammit! Rest of the bathroom... we'll see. Eventually. Maybe next year when I'm determined to, for once, really truly take the summer off.

The wedding went beautifully, especially for something planned at the last minute. Some pictures are posted here, thanks to a talented friend who did it all with her toddler strapped to her back! I wish I had more pics of the front and inside of the beautiful old house, now a bed & breakfast called Noe's Nest, where we held the ceremony. You can see the garden in the pictures, and the house itself is every bit as lovely. I stayed there last year, and highly recommend it to anyone staying in the San Francisco area.

Here we are, just after having been declared legal spouses: