Saturday, June 30, 2007

New cheap doors can be Ugly doors

The Interior Door Shop is sponsoring an "ugly door" contest here (thanks for the link, EgE!), and I've decided to enter. I hesitated, thinking that it would be just for folks who have doors that are all beat up and broken that would qualify, but I hate my awful interior doors so much that I had to enter.

I can only imagine the beauty of the doors that used to be in this house, which was built sometime in the first quarter of the 20th century. I'm sure they were wood, certain that even if they were plain or a little damaged, they had real character.

But the previous owners, who could see nothing more in this house than its rental potential, somehow decided that "new" was better (or, more likely, easier than doing a little fixup on the original doors), and of course "new and the cheapest we can find"was best. So now, all of our interior doors are these hideous white plastic fake-wood texture pieces of crap that I hate, hate, hate. Where they're worn or damaged, you can see the sawdust underneath the plastic. These will never develop the character of real wood, they'll just deteriorate into the depressing look of an old cheap depressing apartment on the wrong side of the tracks.

I chose this picture to post because it shows both the regular interior and the ill-fitting closet doors - see how the closet door is not quite closed? That's because that's all it will close because they framed it wrong, and since they're cheapass sawdust doors instead of, you know, REAL WOOD, they can't easily be trimmed down to fit. And as you can see, both the interior and closet doors are of the same cheap nasty materials, throughout the entire house.

(and that's Von, painting the bedroom before we moved in)

What do you do when there's no hope?

I see it now: This dining room floor will never be "done." Never. It will be a never ending battle of forcing myself to do an hour here, 20 minutes there, to get the black shit scraped up, and then we'll use WHAT money to get it refinished?!?

I guess you could define me as despondent.

Then again I'm also a wee bit tipsy, and I'm together enough to know that if you're despondent and tipsy, then maybe you'd better wait until the tipsy part is over to see if the despondent part holds water.

Despondent while tipsy sure leads to a few classic "oh god, why ME?!?" and "life sucks" moments, doesn't it? It would be quite entertaining if I weren't in the middle of it all.

I'm having a love affair with Three Buck Chuck

I had this friend, the type who is sweet and smart and appears to be "normal" by conservative American standards, but who in fact has a husband and a boyfriend in the same house, both who help with their pagan coven and raising their child. A delightfully wonderful though clearly non-traditional family. Anyway, it seems fitting that this friend should be the one who introduced me to my long distance lust-object: A pirate sorta guy named Trader Joe. Or as she puts it, she took my Trader Joe's virginity. Oh I'm no fool; I know that Joe makes his way around the country, never once considering the idea of coming here, and I resist but after a while resistance is futile and I make excuses to dive 80 miles to meet him, get my fill of him, and come home sated with cheeses, greek yogurt, japanese dumplings, smoked trout, sweet hand lotion, all kinds of things that make me ignore my bank balance and suck up everything in my passioned frenzy in my attempt to bring some part of him home with me. We do not meet often, but always just after I've left him I begin fantasizing about the next time, because there will always be a next time. Always.

And Joe... well, we know our place with each other. It's totally a passions of the flesh sort of thing. It's a seasonal chocolate truffle orgasms in a gift box type of thing, you know what I'm saying? Not the type of guy you bring home to mother.

But this time, it was different. I'd heard of Joe's friend Chuck (aka two-buck Chuck, three-buck Chuck, etc.) but he was never around when I went to get my fill of Joe. But this time I caught Joe by surprise at a central Jersey rendezvous point, and there he was: Charles "Chuck" Shaw. I'd been warned that he was a fairly nondescript conservative dresser, but I'd heard of his ability to seduce, and the temptation was too strong to resist. I snagged a selection of his wares: A Shiraz, a Cabernet, a Merlot. I brought them home, pretended not to hear their sirens' call to me, but finally tonight, I succumbed.

I'm sipping Charles' Shiraz, and oh baby is it good. I think this is love. I think this is can't get enough gotta set up a place to store this stuff in my basement after driving all the way to Jersey to get it kinda love.

Besides, we're a match made in heaven: We're both cheapass dates. Charles earned his nickname "two-buck Chuck" by daring to sell wine for 1.99 (or in my case "three buck Chuck" at 2.99) a bottle that was actually a reasonable competitor for wines costing five, ten times as much. And I'm sitting here writing an embarrassingly nonsensical post based on one half glass of his sweet glory.

Pathetic, isn't it. But oh so good.

Joe, I'll never give up on you, but Chuckie, baby, just tell me you love me, even if you don't mean it. Yes, I'm that pathetic.

And lord help me, if I post something else after I finish the other half of this glass, just look the other way. Don't stare at the mangled bodies on the roadside as I spew out a drunky post to follow this tipsy one. Just move along, move along.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Please help with an important Breast Cancer study

Have you or your sister had breast cancer? Do you know of anyone who has had breast cancer, or whose sister has had breast cancer? Even if the answer is no, would you be willing to help fight breast cancer by spreading the word to try and find sisters of women who have had breast cancer?

I am currently enrolled in The Sister Study, a very important large-scale study of the sisters of women who have had breast cancer. They plan to look at a wide variety of factors in 50,000 women, age 35 to 74, whose sisters have had breast cancer at any age. This study will hopefully help us learn some important things about this disease which affects so many of us, directly or indirectly. I know: My sister, my grandmother, and one of my very best friends all had breast cancer.

They have only one year left to reach their goal of 50,000 women, and they still need 12,000 more women from the U.S. and Puerto Rico to enroll. They especially need participation from women of color and women over 65 years old.

Please, pass the word along to as many people, men and women, as you can. Email this information to your friends and family, post it on your public or private journal/blog, post it to internet message boards, print it out and post it at your church, your daycare, your community center, your break room at work, anywhere that might reach someone who might know someone else who might want to participate.

What I've found as I've tried to help recruit participants is that most women whose sisters had breast cancer are more than willing to participate in order to help try and find out more about this disease that affected their sister's health and perhaps took her life. But they can't participate if they don't know about it. Your passing this message along may allow someone to learn about it who wants very much to do this.

Please send anyone who qualifies as a participant to this website:, or ask her to call 1-877-4SISTER.

Thanks for your help in spreading the word about this important study.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

First floor bathroom, Before and After

I feel compelled to mention that the "before" pictures were all taken on the day of our inspection, so it's not our junk all over the place:

Cabinets Before:

Note the fugly kitchen wall cabinet with nothing underneath it. Also note the electric baseboard heater.

Cabinets After:

Antique pine cabinet on the wall, which we speculate was originally from a butler's pantry. Antique washboard cabinet with marble top on the floor, non-original handles replaced with new non-original handles that kinda sorta match the pine cabinet's original handle.

Sink base Before:

From Lowes' el-cheapo line, typical cheap apartment building cabinet finish.

Sink base After:

Certainly not what I'd ultimately like to have in there, but now sanded and stained to match the other older cabinets, with knobs to match as well.

Mirror Before:

Now isn't this just Special. The light fixture is still there, unfortunately - upgrading that is on the "when we have money again" list.

And finally,

Mirror After:

Mirror, wall cabinet, and washboard cabinet all courtesy of our former favorite antique store, now of blessed memory.

It's not the most extensive, expensive or highest-quality bathroom fixup in the world, but it sure makes one helluva difference.

Check out the byline!

Look at who wrote this!

Ayup, that be me. And anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis (if there IS anyone who qualifies, that is) knows that it wasn't all that long ago that I posted about what a rockin' site that was. is like a freakin' porn site for someone like me. And now I write for them. How cool is THAT?!?

I'm assigned to the "find new or interesting tools that we haven't written about before and write a quick note about them" beat. Once I get the hang of it, it will probably be pretty easy to do. And it's something I really feel that I'll enjoy doing, even after the novelty and ego "ohhhh they wanted ME to do this!" factors wear off: I really enjoy writing, even when it's just for my own pleasure. And as brief as these snippets happen to be, I'm writing not just to hear myself think but because people actually come to that website to read what has been written!!

That byline thing has me a little skittish, though. I'd certainly be happy enough if it wasn't there; introvert that I am, I don't have a problem letting all the glory go to the Powers That Be who run the blog, and just knowing for myself which things I wrote. Now I'll be seriously Googleable I guess.

Since this is my house blog I suppose I should give an update on the house:
  • I did a little more work on the dining room floor, but not much.
  • I put the books in the new bookcase and I'm picking up another bookcase from freecycle tomorrow. We're now four empty boxes closer to being unpacked from our move over a year ago.
  • That's all.
Actually I have pics from the bathroom updates to post, as soon as I get them off the camera, since we finally got the knobs today. Maybe I need to focus on something other than finding tools to write about for a bit...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Holy blogbusters, Batman!!!

Someone wants to pay me to write for a blog I really like.

Someone wants to PAY me to write for a blog I really like.

Someone wants to pay ME to write for a blog I really like.

Needless to say, I'm totally pumped just from being asked. I'm not sure that I have the level of background knowledge that they really need (especially compared to most of the folks who frequent that site) and I told them so, but we'll see what they think. They said they like what I've written there, they like what I write here, they were planning on putting the word out for a new contributer, but they wanted to give me first shot. Me. ME. The grin hasn't left my face all evening.

I'm totally psyched at the idea of it. I wouldn't be coming to it cold, since I do have a tech writing background and have a bookshelf crammed full of tech articles and tech and training manuals that I've written, all related to totally dead technologies (any network geeks remember Banyan and Beyondmail?). I truly enjoy writing, though those of you who've known me for a while know that my biggest problem is figuring out when to shut up - hey, why use 50 words when I could use 500?!?

Of course I truly have no real idea of what it would take to do this, how good I'd be at it, or anything like that. But let me tell you, I'm seriously digging on the idea.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Farewell, Stone Angel, plus planning to become a "real" gardener.

I made my last run through The Stone Angel, which is closing it's doors on Sunday. Picked up some old keys for Von, a small wool braided rug that goes well in our living room in front of the door, and a beautiful simple very solid oak bookcase for a mournful song, as the sellers' explained to me with set jaws and sad eyes that they were selling what was left of their stock for next to nothing because they're getting out of the business. There was so much else I would have like to have gotten, but nothing else I could justify buying.

Other than that, I did my requisite hour of floor scraping, watered the garden, and ran some errands which included buying myself a copy of Square Food Gardening.

Oh geezus. "Square FOOD Gardening." Well, actually, let me run with that for a moment instead of correcting it to square FOOT gardening. I've done a lot of research and really feel that the whole square foot gardening thing would work well for me, so one of my projects for this fall is going to be to transfer the flowers out of the temporary garden area into more permanent locations, then build four 4x4 raised beds there as a starting point.

The biggest challenge I'm facing is how to plan what, when and how much to plant. I don't want to plant just for planting's sake and end up with stuff that goes to waste. I'm realizing how tough it can be to plan out a garden for just two people, especially since I'll freeze but I'm definitely not going to can. And so far my only knowledge of "when to plant" is based on noticing when the school's Ag department has their annual plant sale: Stuff's on sale? Time to plant. And what do I plant? Whatever they're selling, which means tomatoes, peppers and herbs.

What I need is a serious gardening mentor. I'm thinking about trying to find someone out here who I could hire to come out for an hour or two twice a month just to go over what I need to do in the next couple of weeks. I need structure and a plan that I can follow - that's why the grid setup of the SFG method seems as if it will work well for me.

There are a number of reasons why I'm feeling so motivated to do this gardening. One is just that it's in my blood: I grew up with my Granny's garden being a fact of existence, a huge area tilled by hand in her back and side yard, enough vegetables to feed her family all year once the canning and freezing was done. Another is that as odd as it sounds, I have less easy access where I'm living now, in a small town in the middle of a mostly rural county, to locally grown fresh veggies and fruit than I did when I lived in the city and was a member of the local food coop - most of the produce at the bigger produce stands isn't local, and the dept of transportation shut down all the little farmer-run ones claiming that they were traffic hazards. I'll still search out local melons and corn (at least for now), but other things I'm going to start trying to grow myself. An other big reason sounds trendy and trite, but it really is important to me to lower the fuel cost of my food, and focus as much as possible on eating what's in season and grown nearby. And my final big reason is that there are things I love that no one sells around here, at least not fresh and local: Russian kale and sugar snap peas are two that come to mind.

I just need to learn what the hell I'm doing. My days of being a "stick it in the ground and see what happens" are over, or at least I want them to be.

Oh, and last night I gave up on sniffing that pretty little tomato and finally ate it - this time with a spritz of extra-virgin olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Heaven, sheer heaven.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Answering my own question with ADD tricks

A couple of posts ago I asked, "how to be faithful to your current projects?"

I think I've hit on a way that works for me: Timers.

Timers actually became an important tool for me when I first was diagnosed as an adult with ADD, and began the process of learning both that "I'm not crazy, lazy or stupid" as one book on adult ADD puts it, and how to do things in ways that might not be how others will do them, but that work for ME. Before I figured out what was going on with how my brain was wired, I could literally look at a small very doable project and feel paralyzed with not knowing how to approach doing it; a simple sink of dirty dishes could bring me to tears, feeling overwhelmed with incompetence. Now when I look at a small and very doable project and then don't do it, it's because I really AM feeling lazy, or at least that I'm choosing not to do it right then, which is light-years away from feeling unable to tackle it.

Anyway, so what does this have to do with my fidelity to my dining room floor? Well, one trick I learned to help get me past that ADD paralysis was to set a timer and then spend that amount of time just doing SOMEthing, anything, towards my overall task. I learned to give myself permission to not prioritize, to not get bogged down on "well, it will be more efficient if I do X before Y." Just 5 or 10 or 20 or however many minutes of "just do something." It was an amazingly effective tool for relearning how to do things in a way that factored in my ADD without using it as an excuse for not doing things.

So today I woke up feeling totally unable to face scraping this damn floor, and dredging up those old tricks, I made myself a deal: 90 minutes, in six 15 minute sessions through the day. Timer on. Go. I ended up doing almost two hours of hard core scraping, but the timer method helped to keep me focused and motivated, kept it from feeling too overwhelming, and helped me to go back to it after a break. Plus it's clearly a good thing for my wrist which is tending towards frequent numbness these days, and my shoulder which has chronic tendinitis courtesy of shoveling snow in the blizzard of '93.

Now I can set aside my tools and run to Lowes (for better scraping tools and perhaps a grinder to sharpen the blades, plus some picture wire and miscellany), maybe make a stop at the antique store that's closing, and then go on to my bellydance class without any guilt, since close to two hours of scraping that damn floor is MORE than enough work to expect from a normal human in a day. And the really good thing is, I'll probably do some more tonight. Well, maybe.

The first tomato, and on being a tomato snob.

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised by finding two small ripe tomatoes in my garden. Here's one of them:

The other one has already been eaten. This one will be saved for a while just so I can smell it. There's just nothing at all like that fresh garden-grown tomato smell. That's what's behind my being a tomato snob. It's not that I'll only eat heirloom tomatoes that originated from seeds my gr-gr-grand-aunt planted in 1870 and have been at least a mile away from anything non-organic for three decades. It's just that those things that they sell in the grocery stores and serve in most restaurants bear as much resemblance to a real tomato as does the plastic tomato slice that came with the McDonald's play food set that I bought for my granddaughter a few years ago. I generally don't touch tomatoes unless they are fresh from the garden and were picked as red as a firetruck.

This is clearly going to be a prolific year, too. First of all, even though I've not fed them or gone out and talked nice encouraging thoughts to them, they're clearly loving on the really good soil we have here at this house. It just was never kind of me to expect so much from my garden when we had 98% sand in the old house. Second, I've never planted plum tomatoes and never had any idea how thick with fruit they become - both of the plum tomato plants are almost obscenely covered with baby tomatoes.

And I didn't exactly choose to plant plums this year. What happened was that I bought six tomato plants, two each of three different varieties (no plums or cherries) at our Ag department's annual sale, but somehow those plants didn't make it into my car. By the time I got back over there, all they had left were individual plants that had lost their markers. I just chose 6 at random, trying to get as much visual diversity in hopes of getting as much variation in types of tomatoes as possible. So we ended up with two plums and four others - all I know is that they're "regular" tomatoes.

Since this pretty little thing is only actually as big as a ping-pong ball, it will likely just sit there waiting for me to occasionally sniff it until we get some more and can start on our tomato-basil-extra virgin olive oil salad summer addiction.

Monday, June 18, 2007

How to be faithful to your current projects.

In relationships, I'm the hardcore monogamous type (a couple of my exes didn't share my viewpoint, but that's why they're exes! But I digress...). But when it comes to house projects, I'm definitely somewhere between polyamourous, serial monogamist, and raging philanderer. I'll be hugely into something, but then suddenly, after far too little time, it just feels like too much work, or it just gets tedious and boring, or the sex tapers off to... oh, no, wait, never mind.

I just lose interest in finishing what I started and I don't know how to keep myself motivated for the projects that are a lot of hard work for very little in the way of short-term gratification. "Oh, look at what I got done today, honey: another 4x5 ft section of the dining room floor has at least 50% of the linoleum adhesive scraped up and the residual glue mopped up -- whooohoooooooo!!!"

Needless to say, I have to admit that I've got my eye on a pretty thing that has me all distracted and discombobulated and antsy to move on... remember that dresser I talked about in my last post? I'm starting to daydream about it when I should be being true to my scrapers and mop bucket. I'm starting to make plans for how to refinish it, how to reshape the drawers to accommodate the pipes, what I should put on top for the sink, when I should be on my hands and knees devotedly serving my Heart Pine Master, and being grateful for It's existence in my life when I thought I had nothing but plywood ("Oh, thank you for the splinters and numb hands and aching back and skanky sweat; Please, Sir, may I have another hour of this torture and tedium?").


Anyone want to help me decide something?

Since the low-budget renovation of the downstairs bathroom is wrapping up, I'm ready to start upstairs. I know that we're going to put in this dresser:

as a sink base. We're going to strip it since it has many thick layers of paint, but then we'll either repaint it white or finish it with a varnish of some kind if the wood is nice.

We're also going to put pine t&g wainscoting on the walls.

So here's the big important question that is plaguing me:

White wainscoting and color on the wall above?

Or color on the wainscoting and white on the wall above?

It's a very tiny bathroom, and the color choices are leaning towards a pale mint green or perhaps a periwinkle or light tealish kind of color, in case any of those things affect your opinion.

Oh the enormity of my decidedly privileged first-world problems. ::rolling eyes::

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Our favorite antique store is closing - Whaaa and WOOT!

Our favorite little antique store, a place which carries lots of delightful things that real people can use and afford, is closing down. The owner of the building wants it in order to move and expand her store, which sells overpriced candles and baskets, and cheesy "handcrafted" items that were cranked out in some sweatshop overseas.

Even though we have zero money for extras, we couldn't pass up the 20% off sale that they're having, and we struck double-gold: A perfect little marble-topped cabinet, and a lovely mirror, which if you recall from my previous post, we really really needed for the downstairs bathroom.

So now the cabinet is in place with the pine cabinet (which we bought from the same store) mounted on the wall above it. The mirror will be put in place after Von finishes spackling/sanding/repainting where we put the old mirror back up. I also ordered some cabinet knobs from Rejuvenation Hardware that kinda sorta match the original knob on the wall cabinet, to put on the sink base and on the marble-topped cabinet (which has non-original pulls on it right now).

Oh, and the BEST thing is that the marble topped cabinet wasn't just 20% off: The original tag said $225. The sale tag said $70. We thought at first it was a mistake, but apparently it wasn't.

I might go back tomorrow or Tuesday and use some of my personal savings to get a few more things. I'll try really really hard to stick to stuff that's functional - bookcases, stuff like that - as opposed to going nuts in the "old kitchen gadgets" bin, to get things to add to my box of old kitchen gadgets that I have nowhere to display.

NOW all we need for our on-the-cheap renovation of that downstairs bathroom is a new toilet seat, new lighting, new towel bar and toilet paper holder, and the curtain we're going to put in front of the ugly shower stall door. When it seemed as if we were a long way away from getting finished (assuming incorrectly that it would be a long while before we found the perfect cabinet and mirror), I wasn't so worried about getting these things. But of course now I'm going to have to find a way to fit this other stuff in the budget so that it can be finished.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Slow progress, with pugs.

Dining room: 2/3 of the room done to round-1 level, 1/3 still needs everything done to it. On the back wall is a sample of the color we're going to paint this room, but not this week (click to see larger version).

Bathroom: Here's the new color, which we both really like. We also re-stained the sink cabinet to better match the antique pine cabinet which will eventually go on the wall (which you can see reflected in the mirror), once our studfinder starts working. Actually for now the cabinet will go on the wall behind the toilet, but as soon as budget allows, that white beat-up cheapo sawdust cabinet you see will be replaced by something lower and the pine cabinet will go above that.



The mirror and light above the sink have GOT to go, but alas, not until we recover from The Attack of the HVAC System.

And just because I think it's cute: Pug Yin-Yang.

Yin-Yang pugs

Monday, June 11, 2007

Why do I ever attempt plumbing?!? At least there's a mojito waiting for me...

There is a rule in our house: I do the electrical work, and Von does the plumbing. Except today I got a wee bit over-frustrated at the drip from the outside faucet, which really isn't outside, it's under the crawlspace, and I broke that rule. And the results caused me to remember WHY I do electric and Von does plumbing.

Apparently it's been dripping for a while and we just never noticed it, except it's gotten worse. So what did I do in my attempt to see if I could fix it, since I couldn't wait one more minute for Von to get to it? I broke off half the handle, and made it so we're losing even more water.

The only good thing that came out of my aborted attempt to stop the drip is even though there's even more water coming out than there was before, most of it's now coming out of the faucet instead of around the handle, so I was at least able to attach a hose and route that to a planter so that the water's not idly hanging out in our crawlspace tempting nasty things to live there.

And of course the faucet was rigged by the previous owners in a way that's going to be a real bitch to fix: Everything under there is PVC, which in theory should make it easier, but there's the house shutoff then basically no space at all before the T-connector to which the metal spigot is glued into place. Yes, I said glued into place. If they had given a little more room, then even someone as plumbing-impaired as I am could have just cut the PVC to either side of the T-connector and put something else in its place. But noooooooo, it couldn't possibly be that simple.

So now we have to figure out a way to fix this mess, and as long as we're under there I'm determined to get it routed to outside of the crawlspace, which means piping it to the foundation, putting in its own shutoff valve (what a concept!), drilling through the blocks, and installing the new faucet. Which of course neither of us really know how to do but our lack of funds trumps our lack of experience and lack of desire to do this ourselves.

I hate plumbing.

And I've been working on the floor again today which hasn't helped my mood at all.

At least I got us some steaks for the new grill for tonight. Grilled steak, grilled brussels sprouts with olive oil and rosemary, and grilled fresh peaches over dulce de leche ice cream. Can I hear a YUM? And I think a mojito will be in order, too - after all, the mint I have in the fridge will go bad soon if I don't use it up!

Oh and the blue we chose for the bathroom looks really, really nice. I'd describe it as kind of a faded denim color. Since we got a whole gallon for that little tiny room, I think we'll paint one of the third floor rooms that color as well.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Low-budget compromises.

It's always a hard choice: Do something to make a room look better than it does now but not nearly what you really want because you don't have the money to do otherwise, or wait until you can do it "right." We're starting on the downstairs bathroom to do just "better than now" quick & dirty fixup. This is basically just bandaid #1 out of several, but I do already see how it's going to make the room look better. It just chaps my butt not to be able to do it "right."

What we're going to do is:
  • Sand and refinish the stock oak base sink cabinet plus put on new knobs to better match the antique pine wall cabinet that we bought for that room. What we (ok, more me than Von but still...) really wanted was to put in the antique pedestal sink that someone gave us, but it's too damaged to put in without some serious restoration work. And a new pedestal sink, or a new sink of any kind, just isn't in the budget right now. Von already has them sanded and has on the first coat of stain, and it's going to look a lot better than it did.
  • Paint, a nice blue that we both really liked. Yes, we're going to have to repaint after we get a new mirror/cabinet/lights, get a new cabinet for towels and TP, maybe get a new sink, and patch the drywall where the thermostat used to be (and a junction box cover sits now) but at least for now it will be painted.
  • Put up the new antique wall cabinet. The problem is that we can't put it where it ultimately needs to go, because the ugly messed-up sawdust cabinet we're using now for towels and stuff is too tall to put it over. So we're putting it up over the toilet for now, and moving it later once we can buy what we really want for that space.
  • Put up new bathroom hardware (towel bars/hooks, tp holder, etc.). We probably won't end up with the style and quality we'd really prefer, but we'll at least have something a few steps above the HellMart quality stuff that's in there now.
Way future plans would be to rip out and redo the shower, maybe even move the door to be off the hallway instead of off the mudroom, but that's all dreams for now.

Von's on vacation this week, so hopefully this week will end up being pretty productive. Von's going to do most of the work in the bathroom, plus paint the walls in the stairway to match the living room, and probably extend the color to the upstairs hallway.

I'm going to spend this week working on the dining room floors. And working on the dining room floors. And working on the dining room floors.

Just kill me now, k?

Friday, June 8, 2007

I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink... no, no, no.

I'm sooooooooooo tired, I don't know what to do. What I know I'm not doing is any more work on this blasted floor today. I'm taking at LEAST a 12 hour break, minimum. Like, from 10:30pm until 10:30am, minimum. GAH!

So, where I am. Oy, Yoda am I? Yes, so tired. Where am I on this "get the linoleum adhesive off the dining room floor" project:

Around 1/3 of the room has all the staples removed, all the basic scraping done, which means I've scraped up the black stuff that will come up relatively easily (though still hellishly tediously) without a seemingly endless cycle of soak/scrape/soak/scrape, and it's been mopped.

Ah, but "mopped," that sounds like such an easy task, no? NO. This is The Mopping Of The Brown Gunk. See, under the black hard stuff is the Brown Gunk. You might THINK that you've made decent progress by scraping up the black stuff, but the Brown Gunk, it fool you bad. Yes, it "mops up" but this is not an exaggeration: For every 6 sq ft or so of floor which averages 1/2 black stuff (easy to mop) and 1/2 brown gunk (hell to mop), it took 3-4 buckets of mopping, emptying the water only when it was beyond sludge, then taking a minimum of 5 minutes of rinsing the mop between each bucket so that it could be deemed "clean enough" to continue mopping.

The middle 1/3 of the room has the staples removed, or at least the ones that my knee, momentarily holding all my weight, hasn't found yet. In that section I have completed about 3/5 of the rough scraping. So what is "rough scraping" as opposed to "basic scraping"? Rough scraping consists of using my half-moon garden edger to scrape up the really REALLY loose stuff. To reach "basic scraping" level requires sitting on my butt with a razor scraper, scraping up the "able to be scraped up without soaking" stuff. I'm leaving all the must-be-soaked stuff for last because I learned from the one tiny section I did that is totally cleaned that the easily scraped off stuff really just gunks up things as you're trying to scraped off the must-be-soaked stuff.

Am I making any sense? Didn't think so.

Tomorrow's goal is to finish the room to the staples out/rough scraped/basic scraped/mopping from hell level. Sunday's goal is to take out the last bit of plywood which requires me to figure out a way to cut it in a straight line right across the dog's hallway where we're putting vinyl flooring for now, do the staples/scrape/mop routine on that, then do as much of the final soak/scrape removal of the black stuff as I can handle, physically and mentally.

Thank Maude that we have air conditioning. As I'm doing this work, I have zero ecological consciousness: It was 100 degree heat factor outside today and I had our new AC cranked down to 72, which is normally unheard of for me (I normally freak if someone wants to put it below 78 unless the humidity is just too high).

Maybe I will get up and fix myself a drink.

You say I'm putting you on
But it's no joke
It's doing me harm, you know I can't sleep
I can't stop my brain, you know it's three [days]
I'm going insane
You know I'd give you everything I've got
for a little peace of mind
[or the money for a professional floor refinisher]
:::insert a string of incoherent mumbling that if you play backwards says "Leslie, you're screwing up your wrists and shoulders, plus you're whining and whining sucks":::

Freecycle rocks, getting hijacked doesn't.

Once again, Freecycle amazes me.

Old nasty carpet, padding, and luan that we ripped off the dining room floor: All gone. Baseboard heaters from throughout the house, all gone, to replace non-functioning units or heat workshops (sold one of the thermostats, too!). Old grill that needs several parts replaced, which we're replacing with a new stainless-steel grill: Will be gone by Monday. Granddaughter's old bike with the tires that need replaced: Will be gone tomorrow. We would have had to drag all that stuff out to the curb Monday night and prayed that the trash guys took it all, but instead other people came to our house and gave it all a new loving home.

I love Freecycle. I know I've had "freecycle rocks" posts here before, but it just bears repeating.

As for being hijacked, fortunately it was the online variety, not the vehicular kind! I've no clue how it might have happened since I'm obsessive about not clicking on links within emails or things like that, but someone managed to get into my ebay account, change my name to Rhonda Wambold, change my email address, change my credit card (more than likely to match the name, which I presume was a stolen identity), set me up with a Rohnert Park, CA address and a MO phone number, and listed several expensive classic rock guitars for sale "check or money order only" which sold for a total of almost $2000.

For whatever reason the person hijacking my account didn't change my password, but I only discovered what was going on by pure accident - I haven't been on ebay forever, but a link for a cell phone battery led me to an ebay store, which led me to check My Account just because I was bored, which led me to notice that I had three things recently sold!

It took ebay security support about an hour to stop saying "we see no evidence that your account was breached" and actually check the IP addresses from my account activity history as I kept telling them to do. They had the evidence that I opened my account from Delaware, they had the evidence that all my account activity up until all my info was changed was based in Delaware, they had the evidence that I was contacting them about this from Delaware, and they had the evidence that I changed everything about me from some other location, in order to sell things very different than what I've ever sold, and accepting only check/MO when I've only ever before accepted PayPal. "Please check the IP history." Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Duh-oyyy!!

By the way, I'm intentionally listing Rhonda Wambold's name because I have every reason to believe that she was someone whose identity was stolen, and quite possibly the credit card number was stolen from her or opened as part of her identity theft. It's an unusual enough name that if someone Google's it, they might see this and contact me (just comment below, no matter how much time has passed, and include a way for me to contact you!) so that I can give her the information about this whole situation (including the last 4 numbers of the credit card the hijackers were using, and the evidence from ebay that the name and credit card was used to hijack someone else's account), in case that helps her to resolve the never-ending nightmare that comes with having your identity stolen.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Little kids and big projects just don't mix.

It's hard enough to get any work done on big projects around the house with a near-toddler in your care, but it's basically impossible to get anything done when those big projects are in the most-used room of the house. What I would like to do is just keep working on the dining room floor until I've gotten off all that I can of the old linoleum adhesive. But that's just not going to done by this weekend, and the dining room is indispensable and unavoidable: You have to go through it to get from our primary entrance (the back door) to any other room in the house except for the laundry room and office. And you can't get to the kitchen without going through the dining room. So we can't just close it off and make it off limits to Crawling Monkey Baby (aka our 1 y.o. granddaughter) when she's with us on the weekends.

So what that means is, even though I'm only halfway through getting the subfloor staples removed and getting just the loose flaky part of the old adhesive up, and so not even 1/10th of the way through the overall time I'll need to put into this project, come Friday we'll need to wash the floor as well as we can, put the big area rug back down, put the furniture either back into place or at least in a place that's not in the way when we're trying to carry, feed, or watch the baby, and put everything out of reach of monkey-girl's roaming hands. Then we'll have to put things back into ready-to-work mode come Sunday night when they leave.

I love our granddaughters so much that it bursts my heart, and I dearly love that we get to spend this much time with them, but the baby in particular definitely makes house projects difficult.

Oh, just to record: All I was able to do today was remove staples from and dry-scrape about 1/3 of the room total. Tomorrow I have obligations that will keep me from doing much until evening, then Friday I'll have to focus more on baby-proofing than really making any progress.

But since work on the dining room floor is suspended over the weekend, at least I can hopefully start work on my rainbarrels! If the design I've come up with really works, I'm going to post a very detailed how-to in my blog, because truthfully the instructions I've found online so far either didn't make sense and/or called for parts that are either called something else here or just weren't available. If I can help someone else do this, that will be great! But again, the key thing is that I need to make sure it works first.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Introducing: Our Dining Room Floor, brought to you today by My Poor Aching Body

Today was Rip Out the Carpet Day, and I had originally planned to leave taking up the plywood for another day. But Von came home as I was mid-carpet pull and one thing led to another, and we pulled up all the plywood.

Ladies, Gentlemen and those elsewhere on the gender spectrum: We have a wood floor in our dining room, in place of the nasty carpet that has been the bane of my existence since we first moved here. I mean, c'mon, what can you say about a beige carpet that you clean 6 times and the water still comes up into the carpet cleaner as black the last time as the first?!? Pics are at the end of this post.

The news on the floor is mixed: Not as bad as we had feared it could be, but still a lot of work ahead of us. No real evidence of smoke/water damage from the fire that was in this room before PO's got hold of the house, but there's LOTS of old linoleum glue on the wood. Oh happy happy joy joy (NOT!). Some of it is being very kind and flaking right off, but most of it is going to require some serious muscle. Sanding it off isn't an option from what everyone has told me, because it will gunk the sander up faster than my pug going after a treat.

I ran some test patches of various things that might work to help soften the glue, and doused sections with goo-gone, Greased Lightning Orange Blast spray, Greased Lightning concentrated cleaner mixed 1/2 & 1/2 with water, and pure water as my control. The Greased Lighting spray was the winner in this round. Greased Lightning totally rocks - it's the only cleaner I use any more - but it's only softening a layer of the glue at a time, so I'm going to test some other options tomorrow.

The real bitch is the staples. Oh lord the previous owners went freakin' nuts with that freakin' staple gun when he was putting down that luan. And of course all the staples went through the plywood and stayed in the floor when we pulled up the luan. The only method I've found for removing them is to jam one side of my needle-nose plyers into the staple, brace my lineman's plyers behind them for leverage, then push down. My poor hand is only marginally functional at this point, and yet I've barely made a dent in all that are there. I'm definitely going to need a new needle-nose when I'm done, I'm putting it through such intense abuse. Do they made a needle-nose prybar?!?

I'm so happy with having most of the carpet gone (haven't taken it out of the doggie hall yet) that I could work until my body is one solid muscle spasm. Oh, wait. I already did that. ::groan:: I need some serious ibuprofen and a soak in the hot tub. Except we don't have a hot tub. My friends do, though... Hmmmm, I wonder if they're asleep...

OK here are the pics.

The before pic. Please ignore the mess. I wasn't about to clean just before I turned the room into a disaster area. The checked rug is the nasty ugly area rug that's hiding the hideously awful carpet.

Down to the luan, in half the room anyway:

There's the floor! We have no idea what that one stained area might be in the second picture - it seemed to be there from before the carpet.

The Great Solvant Face-Off!

For this teeny bit of progress, I feel hit by a truck?!?

Not manic, just marginally obsessive and loving every minute of it (so far).

A friend of mine just sent me a checklist of "how to tell if you might be manic/depressive" after I told her that I was installing junction box covers at 11pm, was feeling extremely proud of myself for finishing everything on today's to-do list plus some, have been obsessive about list making and task completion, and am feeling like a little kid the night before Christmas that tomorrow is Rip Out the Carpet day.

L., I love your concern darlin' but as I said, no I'm not suddenly bipolar and flying high in a manic phase. I'm just free from school and excited beyond measure that this year I actually get to DO something on the house instead of just lying around being sick all summer. Am I going to push myself this hard on house stuff all summer? No, because I'll probably lose a lot of motivation once it gets really hot (though now with central air maybe that won't be as likely), I'll probably lose a lot of motivation just because I'm not one to stay this highly motivated about anything for all that long, and soon my other obligations such as teaching an online class and taking care of the grandkids during the week will kick in and I won't be able to get nearly as much done.

But for now, if I feel like digging tools and supplies out of the garage at 1am, or organizing the office at a pace that makes me end up looking like I spent an hour on a stairmaster (considering that I made at least 12 trips to carry boxes and other things upstairs, that's a fair analogy), or if I want to put the junction box covers over the old thermostat boxes at close to midnight, I'm going to revel in it.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Adding things to the list just to check them off

Anyone else do that - add things to your to-do list that weren't on there originally because you have this sicko need for documented evidence of your task, so you add it to the list just to cross it off?

I have been seriously guilty of that all my life, but especially now that I'm in the midst of this near-manic obsession about getting some clearly visible, tangible things done on the house.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not like those of you who talk casually about how you refinished the floors in your entire house yesterday or the addition that you built last week. I'm talking realistic for me, an ordinary human with limited motivation, stamina, and time in a typical weekend, such as getting over half of the baseboard heaters disconnected and the old thermostats removed, hanging a mirror, making two trips to Lowes with a stop at Home Depot, getting some laundry done, and not allowing my grandbaby to drown in the pool or tumble down a flight of stairs.