Saturday, August 05, 2006

Day 8, Saturday- Religious Tolerance

Woke up bight and early, then spent nearly two solid hours unloading the van from the previous day’s festivities. I was installing a new porch light (shocker- the old one was broken) when a very nicely dressed lady walked up the steps.

“Are you a worker, or do you live here?” she asked.

“I live here, why?”

“I wanted to invite you to a conference and concert.”

“Thanks, but I’m Catholic.”

“That doesn’t matter” she answered, grinning a creepy, almost pedi-smile. (A pedi-smile is that strange grin that most pedophiles share. Watch for it on your local Megan’s law flyers.)

“But it mattered if I lived here, right?”

“Well….” She sensed this was not going well.

“Thanks, but my faith matters to me, and frankly, you are trespassing.” I turned my back and didn’t even watch her leave.

I took the car back to the family and was dropped off to continue my labors while the little ones enjoyed a day at the fair and playing with friends.

I worked at painting and priming, and got rid of the pellet stove when Dave came by. All in all, it was a rather quiet, productive, afternoon.

Then they came back.

This time, I was dumping trash on the porch when another well-dressed lady appeared up the street. I was tired, hungry, and looking for some amusement. I decided to play with the poor, unwitting Jehovah’s Witness rapidly approaching me.

“Good afternoon sir, I was wondering if I could invite you to a conference and concert”

“Really, can anyone come?” I asked.

“Oh yes, we’ll be celebrating the good word of our Lord.” She replied, with glee in her eyes.

“Can I bring my partner Stevie?”

“Excuse me, sir?”

I turned and yelled into the house. “Hey, Stevie, do you want to go to a concert in…. where is your event again ma’am?”

“Um, I really don’t think you boys would be comfortable attending.” She took her flyer and promptly stomped off.

“That’s very New Testament of you!” I called after her. Then I went back to work.

Total costs: $1,028

Day 7, Friday- “Replete with Deferred Maintenance”

The family and I decided to make the big trip down to Portland to visit the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

We wanted to get started early, but, because of the ongoing drama with the mortgage firm, I had to call the mortgage broker and wait for her to return my call. All this to let them all know that the windows (on the MUD PORCH) had been replaced.

The broker called and said everything was just great, but please hold on for a bit before leaving town. Shortly thereafter, the appraiser called to set up the appointment to see the windows. I asked if he really needed me to be there to see the windows. The lady had to call back. I’m always happy to be left at the mercy of the incredibly decisive.

We got started at noon.

We ran through the church’s janitor’s rummage sale. (Say that twice fast.) Nice enough guy, but this guy is a pack rat. Grabbed some stuff (cheap!) and headed down the road.

Got a few doors, and quite a lot of tile, for a very good price at the ReStore, and headed north on the I-5 parking lot.

That’s when the mortgage broker called back.

“Everything is taken care of, no need to worry about the windows anymore.”

“Great, do I need to do anything else?” I asked.

“You have quite enough to do,” she answered with a hint of a grin in her voice. “But that’s what happens when you buy a house that has some deferred maintenance.”

We picked up additional supplies from Home Depot and the Evil Empire (Wal-Mart). By the time we were headed back it was 11:00 pm and the budget was used up. With 400+ Square feet of tile, plus a couple hundred pounds of paint, thin set, morter, a couple of solid wood doors strapped to the roof, and three little kids, the van was sitting like a low-rider.

Some deferred maintenance. Yeah, tell that to my wallet. Or my back.

Total costs: $1,017

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Day 6, Thursday- Yea! Paint!

I spent my day preparing the walls for fresh new paint. Went out and purchased a couple of tubes of caulk, a new ladder, and other such niceties.

So I spent the morning prepping walls. I filled cracks with caulk (that sounds so dirty), plugged holes (also kinda kinky sounding), and sanded walls. I also took care of Asia and other damaged walls using the magic of "feathering."

Now, if you’re like me, you should probably be committed. At the same time, however, when you hear “feathering” you think of 80’s hair bands and mullet’s o’ plenty. I actually listened to Eddie Money and Poison while “feathering” (I really like that word) the walls, thus forever cementing the association.

I really need pharmaceutical help.

Anyhow, in my travels and purchases I made the big score of the day. Two gallons (each a different color) of Dutch Boy dirt fighter on clearance at Fred Meyer’s for $5 each. For folks who are bad at math, that is a really good deal.

One of the colors is a rather nice, rich brown with very warm tones. This is being used in the entry.

The other color is a ghastly, retina-searing, brain damaging, Pepto-Bismol pink. I mean damn, I don’t think the kids will be able to sleep in there, as this shit is practically audible.

Of course, the little girls love it. Oh well. At least it was cheap.

After working at the house until 8:00 pm or so, I return home to a panicked message from the Mortgage broker. Seems I replaced the wrong window.

Let me clarify- I fixed the window that led into the HOUSE. They wanted the windows on the PORCH fixed. Whatever. I guess I misinterpreted “securing” the house. So, by 10, I was home again. I wasn’t even bleeding. My neighbors may think I’m a meth freak, but at least my dryer sheets will be safe.

I love strange crap like that.

Total costs: $467

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Day 5, Wednesday- Eye protection is for sissies.

They always tell you to wear eye protection.

You know who they are. Assholes in well-lit studios rubbing sandpaper on a piece of wood like over-caffeinated Parkinson’s sufferers.

Well, here in the real world, we paint ceilings in dark little rooms with only the rhythmic thumping of an unevenly loaded paint roller to break the silence. In such confines, with the fumes building, the light fading, and the temperature rising you tend to just say “screw these stupid, fogged up, heavily scratched, uncomfortable, plastic pieces of shit.”

So you take them off and carefully toss them into the next room with enough force to leave a dent in the far wall. (The glasses, however, survived intact.)

Shortly thereafter, the ceiling- with amazing pigeon like accuracy- proceeded to release a single precious drop of paint.

Right. Into. My. Eye. Damn. Damn. Damn. Ow.

Little tip for people who might be dumb enough to read this for home repair advice- DO NOT RUB YOUR EYE!

Let me say that again: DO NOT RUB YOUR EYE!

After several obscenity laced minutes at the kitchen sink, I was able to see well enough to navigate through the house and go sit down for a moment or two. I grabbed a bottle of water and headed to the front porch.

Guess what wanders around in Astoria on lovely summer nights?

Tourists. Damn again.

As I sat quietly drinking my water an overly-khakied (Yay! New word!) individual stopped to make conversation. He seemed pleasant enough, but his timing was just flat awful.

He started with the obvious. “So, are you remodeling?” My guess is the paint, plaster, and pile of debris clued him in.

“Oh no, I’m restoring.”

“Ah- what is the difference?”

“Calling it restoring keeps the Historical Society off your ass.”

“What is the Historical Society?”

I grinned. “A local property-owner’s rights advocacy group.” With that, I waved good night, tossed the bottle into the junk pile and went back to painting.

With my safety glasses on.

Total costs: $335

Day 4, Tuesday- Baby, shake that brass.

Tonight, I made the rather innocent mistake of sitting down before heading over to the freestanding time sink.

Four hours later, I woke up to screaming, heartache, and discontent- something about children beating each other or stealing toys or some other such thing. When bleary-eyed and still wearing your work clothes, the last thing you want is excuses, you just want quiet.

So, I sat down at the table to a bunch of wall-candy (lead-based paint) covered brass with an assortment of tools and just got busy. The kids simply can not scream louder than my trusty Dremel tool. (My wife can, but I have a note from my doctor that says I can’t hear it when girls talk. I think she finds it easier to just go along.)

It took two hours, I actually managed to accomplish something, well, shiny.

Tomorrow, I will return to my own little time sink. Perhaps it is back-breaking mind-numbing labor, but at least it is nice and quiet.

Total costs: $335

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Day 3, Monday- Painting with an iPod.

I realized tonight that my neighbors are much closer at this house than at the last one. I am also forced to deal with another terrible truth.

I am a horrifically bad dancer. I move like a epileptic chicken on a hotplate in a centrifuge. I have the rhythm of a tree sloth after a major head injury.

Of course, I’m just trying to be nice. In reality, my dancing is much worse. I was not being fair to either the chicken or the tree sloth.

The point is this: when shaking your groove thang, folks such as myself would do the world a favor to close the damn door. I need to remember that just because I have an iPod with (as the kids who are now drawing pensions say) groovy tunes, I am still a big bald man better suited to being a middle linebacker than a Rockette.

Those neighbor kids may need therapy, the lady across the street may have stifled vomit, but at least the entry is primed.

Total costs: $335

Day 2, Sunday- Demolition, and bad ideas.

Getting started early is always nice, but the fresh air and the new day tend to screw with your head. Things you never take on due to things like “common sense” are suddenly really good ideas.

Six in the morning is an awful lot like a six pack of beer.

First thing in the morning, I spotted a little bit of paint peeling in the living room. So, instead of doing the rational, reasonable, I’ve only got 31 days to go thing- I went after it with a putty knife.

Guess what? Once you start- the paint just keeps right on flaking off. Scraping paint is fun and easy! Ok, not really. The living room now looks like a scene from a movie shot in Bosnia.

So I have several randomly shaped stripped walls. Big bare patches in fields of old paint. I’ve got a great spot that looks like Asia. Yet I kept scraping. Maybe, in the back of my mind, I was hoping to find a Virgin Mary.

Want to know what is worse than six in the morning? Nine at night. Nine is like a case of beer.

Saw some old trim boards on the wall in the dining room that needed a lot of work. I thought I was taking the easy way out. I thought that popping a couple of boards off of the walls would save hours of labor in the future.

I was wrong.

Total costs: $310

Day 1, Saturday- Blood and glazing

After a calm afternoon of child-rearing involving:
  • Numerous fights over god-knows what
  • Three complete meltdowns
  • Two meals consisting of nothing but hot dogs
  • And a PowerPuff Girls DVD

I was ready to start. Hell, I was ready to eat my own liver. No idea how the wife does it day after day. I can tell you- I kinda identify with Andrea Yates. I don’t condone killing your kids, think it is wrong, yadda yadda, but I understand were it comes from...

Anyway, after getting started very late, and lacking electricity, I took pictures and replaced broken window panes.

Fixed windowWant to know what is worse than plumbing? Fixing windows. Broken glass, rock hard clay ("glazing" I love them technical words) and old wood all wrapped in a pretty ER visit package.

Imagine a project where you get to bleed. Not a little, but lots. Like “holy shit, I think that was an artery” kind of bleeding. Just for being dumb enough to not hire someone else to do it.

With plumbing, if things go bad, the worst you have is a flood. When fixing windows, things can go bad enough that you get a closed-casket funeral.

Then, when you are all done, you get to wash a window. Whee. Nobody notices fixed windows, so you don't even get a "atta boy" from the wife. The problem is that people expect windows. They expect clean, clear windows without broken glass or bloodstains.

People are spoiled.

For the record- things go slower when you have to maintain direct pressure on a serious laceration. You can still work, but it takes some doing.

Total costs: $147

Monday, July 31, 2006

Day 0, Friday- Five Gallons and some plaster.

She was beaming, flitting happily about the rooms. She was peeking into corners, exploring the possibilities. I simply followed, observed, and took mental notes.

"You have to understand- this house has history. Women who wore corsets lived here. War ration coupons once sat on the counter. Babies were born here and have since died after long lives." She spun about on her heal to face me, hair flipping around behind her, “and that is why I wanted a Craftsman. Anybody can have a new house- but this is like continuing history.”

I smiled, just a little. “You have your Craftsman. Let’s go buy some paint.”

That is how it always starts, with five gallons of paint and some plaster.