Saturday, August 26, 2006

Day 28, Friday- Worth doing…..

There is nothing simple about fixing a bathroom. There will always be problems, things to deal with, and the unexpected. I know this. I did, however, think the problems were just about over.

I was wrong. So tell me, does the fun ever start?

I heaved the claw-foot tub away from the wall, blocking the toilet and exposing the floor underneath to daylight. That’s when I noticed the slight curling on the linoleum. I pulled it back revealing this mess.
I was sitting there, using new and exciting compound vulgarities, looking at the delaminated particle board and mold.

I picked at the edges with a screwdriver, trying to figure out the easy way to fix this mess when I remembered the things my Dad always and constantly told me:
  1. If it is worth doing, then do it right. There is no excuse for doing it wrong if you know how to do it right.
  2. Fix it now, or fix it later. But remember, later will be worse.
Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.

So, time to bleach, chisel, cut, install new plywood, and screw down half-inch HardiBacker for the floor.

Otherwise, the next guy is going to be using new and exciting compound curse words about me.

Total costs: $2,368

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Day 27, Thursday- A very bad, no good, rotten day

I rolled out of bed this morning, bright and early, and ready to kick some serious home-improvement butt. I got dressed and padded down the stairs in my socks. I hit the bottom step and placed my foot solidly in dog puke.

Dog puke. With crayon bits.

Cleaned up the dog vomit, changed my socks, and went to make some coffee. There was no coffee. None. Zilch. This is bad for most people, but after 26 days of hell, this was a personal catastrophe.


I decided to get some coffee down at the Rusty Cup and move on with life. Chemo Clem and I headed out, detouring through downtown for the required coffee. Hey- guess which dog ate crayons and had got sick the night before? The same one that barfed in the car this morning- luckily she was nice enough to barf on the garbage bags I was taking to the house- so the mess wasn’t bad at all.

The stink was terrible, however.

Feel bad for the poor city worker that has to change that can liner. OK, maybe not.

So, the dog and I went to the house. Left the windows down in the van and went inside. I grabbed the can of Killz and a cheap-o sponge paint-smearing device and went to work priming some doors. I managed to put a second coat on three doors.

That’s when the sponge disintegrated all over the door.

I spent about thirty minutes picking sponge bits off the door, and then decided to move on. That’s a benefit of having a house like this; you can always move on.

Abby had been playing “push on the crack in the broken window and see if we can open a vein” the night before, so I decided to change out that pane of glass. I carefully scraped away the old glazing, taking care not to damage the glass any further.

At that moment, the glass imploded.

I finished removing the glazing, and then swept up the microscopic bits of glass from the four corners of the girls’ bedroom. I picked up the new pane of glass and went to install it.

It was two inches too big. Never had that problem before.

I set the glass down and walked to the front of the house. That’s when my boss showed up. She didn’t have Bowpicker, and looked as if she was also having a rough time at it. Turns out that one of the remote sites was down and I needed to come down to the office.

I was getting ready to cut some other glass, so I said I would be down in a few minutes. I made my first cut and the glass snapped cleanly at the mark. Feeling brave, I made the second cut.

The glass shattered.

I cleaned things up a bit, locked the house, and then headed down the hill. I took the rest of the glass to a shop to be cut, and went to the office. I grabbed some files on a thumb drive and headed to the remote site.

It was "drive like a complete and total idiot" day in Astoria, so I carefully made my way through the cars with out-of-state plates and went to the remote site.

The DSL connection was bad. Stupid Qwest.

I checked the VPN box, and called back to the office. I was going to check the modem, but I did not have a spare to test with. I called the office and the boss agreed to call Qwest for me.

I went home for lunch, stopping by the time-sink to pick up Clem. I let her go into the back yard and tossed a Hot Pocket in the microwave.

It exploded. My stupid lunch blew up.

I cleaned the microwave, taking care to scrape the processed cheese food off the door. I ate the remains of my lunch and chased it with a flat cherry seltzer. That’s when I remembered the DSL modem sitting idle on the backup Internet connection in the server room at the office.

I headed back to the office, went into the server room and grabbed the modem. I went upstairs to let the boss know I was heading out.

That’s when Andrea slammed the door in my face. Thanks Dora!

It was at this point that I learned that Qwest thought the problem was with the line, so I did not need to worry about heading over. I also found out that the blog didn’t update last night. I put the modem back on my desk and went back home.

The wife- needing to run errands- dropped me off at the house. I went back to work, hanging sheetrock in the bathroom. I wasn’t there very long when there was a knock at the door.

It was the boss’ husband.

The problem with the DSL line had been corrected (it was the modem) and the site was still unable to connect. The boss' spousal unit came in and looked around, then said:

“Wow- you’ve got your work cut out, don’t you?”

That’s what everyone says as soon as they clear the living room. Never “what’s done looks good” or “I can see some progress.” Oh well.

I needed to finish up a couple of things; in particular I wanted to finish removing the medicine cabinet in the bathroom- it was about halfway out. I grabbed it and pulled hard.

That’s when my finger got wedged between the wall and the cabinet.

Not a little, either. Thing was wedged in there. Couldn’t push the cabinet back, hurt to move it forward. So I did what any idiot with high pain tolerance would do- I pulled the cabinet out over my finger.

I just got feeling back in that digit- it was better numb.

Now I figure I’ve got a 50/50 chance of keeping my fingernail. I locked up and I walked down to the office. Not having the car, I lucked out and got the nastiest car in the fleet. I returned to the remote site, fixed the problem, restored connectivity and started to head back.

The van would not go into reverse.

A couple of the guys helped me push the car back out of the parking space and I was off. I dropped off keys and walked home.

I cut another piece of sheetrock and started to hang it up. That’s when the wife showed up. One piece of sheetrock up. We went home for dinner.

I made myself a bacon cheeseburger (heavy on the bacon, with cream cheese on the bottom bun instead of mayonnaise- don't knock it until you try it) and sat down to eat. That’s when the phone rang.

It was the office. The stupid internet was down.

I finished my now-cold burger, then went back to the office. I replaced the backup modem and called Charter Business. Turns out it was a widespread outage, and that connectivity would be restored before morning.

Shocker. Truly a worthless ISP.

Returned to the house. My lovely bride have purchased coffee for me. I looked and found a can (yes CAN) of Kirkland coffee. I decided to give it a test.

Wow. It tastes almost, but not quite, completely unlike coffee.

Now I’m faced with the knowledge that there is “always tomorrow.” I’m not sure if I should hope for the best or just hang myself.

Total costs: $1,891 ($1 for coffee)

Day 26, Wednesday- Demolition Man

I tore up the bathroom today. Found the expected rot, mold, and other nastiness, as well a tube of toothpaste and some shampoo.

I finally pulled the bathtub away from the wall, and look at what I found:

Yeah, I don’t know either. Not going to guess, speculate, or even dwell on it. I’m just going to toss Hardibacker on the walls and tile away.

OK, maybe I’ll bleach the living shit out of this creeping unknown first. No telling what planet it is from.

Also chipped, scrapped, and chiseled the damaged plaster off the walls. Joy.

I finished off the day making a 7” x 15” hole a 7” x 7” hole whilst young Madeline tidied up the tools. I came out discovered that the tools were not only arraigned, but they were grouped with the supplies and type of work (paint, flooring, framing, hardware) they are used for.

This poor kid has spent way too much time in construction zones and hardware stores.

“This is great!” I told her, meaning every syllable.

“Yeah, this is better than when Mom did it, because this makes sense. I didn’t want to just toss the stuff in piles and call it cleaned up. You know, like Mom does.”

“Yep, this is a great job.”

“Is it better than when Mom does it?”

Crap. A trap. Oh well. “Yes dear. Yes it is.”

The wife showed up a little later to help with grouting chores. Of course Maddie immediately ratted me out.

“Look at this, and Dad says it is way better than when you do it because when I do it, it makes sense!”

“Really? Guess you’ll have to do it from now on.” Came the reply. No blood, no death stares at her husband, just the passing of a chore to a child.

I wish I was that smooth.

Total costs: $1,890

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Day 25, Tuesday- Fair Warning

I spent the evening driving around town in a fire truck checking out various buildings. Yeah- I know how to drive fire trucks. Even scarier, they let me.

So, if:

  • You are a man wearing a beret
  • You have ever lived in a tree to keep the big bad loggers away
  • You look aggravated when I sound the air horn to get your stupid cell-phone using butt out of my way
  • You think that showers are optional
  • You honestly believe that you deserve something just for breathing
  • You think that you have every right to continue breeding, regardless of the past results

This is your fair warning:

  • I have an obligation to the gene pool to run your dumb ass over

Anyway, we went inside of the lobby of the John Jacob Astor building and checked it out by flashlight. Pretty cool. Makes me feel better about my current workload.

So, in short, I did nothing other than wander around. I'm pretty happy about that.

So there.

Total costs: $1,890

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Day 24, Monday- Midnight Run

Off to Longview, yet again, for supplies. I needed bathroom floor tile, Hardibacker, and a list of other such items. So the wife picked me up at work and away we went. How often do I trek down there? Well, the paint girl knows my name.

For the most part, the evening was uneventful; Carrie even got the floor tile she wanted. It took some time between dinner, Lowes and Home Depot, but we were able to head home at a reasonable hour.

On the way home, with the van loaded like a return trip to the fat farm from Home Town Buffet (that would be riding loooooowwwww), I heard a familiar voice chirp up from the back seat.

“I wanna play ‘What am I?’ Ask a question,” Abby demanded.

“Oh, you’re awful at this game,” said Madeline.

“Am not. Ask a question.” I could almost hear her little fists balling up.

Maddie sighed deeply then asked, “OK, what are you?”

“I’m a pony!” She answered.

Maddie groaned loudly. “See? That’s not how you play; I’m supposed to ask more questions….”

“You’re just really good at this game. Try again.” Abby interrupted.

“I’m not gonna play,” Maddie replied, "you're awful at this game." She turned and looked out the window.

This was about to go badly. Abby is not big on being blown off. "Why don’t you kids play hide-and-seek?” I offered from the driver’s seat.

Maddie groaned. Dad, we’re in the car.”

Abby piped up, very excited. “I’ll play.”

OK- I’m hiding! Where am I?” I asked.

“In the driver’s seat!” Squealed Abby.

“That’s right! OK, I’m hiding again- in my imagination…”

“Are you in the driver’s seat?” asked Maddie.

“No, he said in his imag-i-na-tion. Duh. Abby then faced forward and called out, “Are you outside the car?”

“Yes, yes I am.” I answered. "You got me again. You're very good at this game."

Abby looked at her sister and said, “See, you’re awful at this game.”

Total costs: $1,890

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Day 23, Sunday- The “smart” end of the tape

Some people send smart-assed statues mocking my efforts, but you know what? I can lay tile- well. So slap another layer of linoleum down, Pop, because I’ve now got a tile entryway.

After a rousing breakfast of bad coffee and cold hotdogs, I spent the better part of a day carefully leveling the floor, mixing thinset by hand, elevating the mosaic, then cutting each tile by hand. So, after many hours of work, and after letting the tile set overnight, I gathered up the debris and went to open the front door.

It stuck. I tried again. It still stuck.


It took a little bit of work to get the door out. Actually, it took ripping out part of the door jams, chiseling out the threshold, cutting out and repairing the dry rot I found under the threshold, beating the hinge pins out of position with a hammer and screwdriver, and the removing four floor tiles with the aid of a sledgehammer.

No big deal. I got the door down and moved it outside. Do know how much a 100 year old solid fir door weighs? A lot. The damn thing is hernia heavy.

I carefully measured the height of the new threshold and calculated the difference from the old threshold (5/8”). I measured the thickness of the new tile and thinset (3/8”). Then I looked at the figures on the paper and decided to cut the door off by 3/4”.

Do you know what the difference between 3/4” and 7/8” is? It is three things:
  1. 1/8”
  2. The difference between good measuring and bad
  3. A whole bunch on an exterior door
At any rate, after only four short hours, I put everything back together. It turned out fine in the end.
I went home for a dinner of crunchy roast and green beans (I was late). It was a lovely meal were Abby’s brain fell out of her head. She took a bite of the crunchy roast and spit it out back onto the platter. She spent the rest of the meal on top of the fridge- or as we call it “Abby’s chair.”

Went back to the house and spent some quiet time doing one of my favorite chores in household remodeling- scraping popcorn crap of the ceiling. To say this sucks does not begin to describe how bad this job is. It did, however, beat the hell out of dealing with Abby on low-blood-sugar night.

Total costs: $1,500

Day 22, Saturday- Overheard...

Things at the time sink keep progressing, and with so much prep work finished, results are coming a little faster now.

The wife painted the boy’s room (blue) and her legs, and I worked on tile. While working on the small tiles near the threshold, I mentioned that it was good that I knew how to “back-butter.”

“What’s ‘back-buttering?’” She asked.

“Oh- it’s a form of foreplay in Tillamook County was my quick reply.

“Ew- really?”

"Kind of sounds like it might be, doesn't it?"

"Uh, sadly, yes," she answered.

I smiled. “No, foreplay in Tillamook County is limited to ‘yer a purdy cow...’” I looked at her, and encouraged by her wide grin, I continued. “Now, in Clatskanie, foreplay is the old, yet reliable, ‘git in the truck, woman.’”

We also had more visitors, but they didn’t bring Bowpicker, so, while we really enjoyed their visit, they shall remain unnamed. I sure hope they wiped their feet before they went back into their own home.

Total costs: $1,500