Saturday, September 09, 2006

Past Due, Day 9, Friday- Managing Frustration

I finally figured out how to deal with being married and working on the house. I proudly present The Married Person’s Home Improvement Drinking Game:

Take a sip when:
  • She / He says “It looks crooked”
  • She / He says “are you sure?”
  • She / He leaves another paint goober on the wall / door
  • She / He hangs a picture up
  • She / He asks “plus or minus?” after you ask for the Phillips screwdriver
  • She / He hands you the wrong tool, and your eight year-old corrects him/her

Take a shot every time:

  • She / He moves your tools
  • She / He measures anything and says “around,” “about,” or “kinda”
  • She / He puts all the nuts, bolts and screws in one can / jar / cup
  • She / He gets upset when you ask for the dikes
  • She / He flips the switch when you are working on the lights
  • She / He says “No big deal”
  • She / He drops her end
  • She / He asks how to use the carpenter’s level (again)
  • She / He dumps all the nails in one bag (“they’re just nails”)
  • You get a dirty look

Drink directly from the bottle when:

  • She / He has to use the toilet immediately after you disconnect it
  • She / He says “That should be easy”
  • She / He looks up how to do something on the internet, then tells you (but doesn't share the print out)
  • She / He vacuums the worksite, while you are working
  • She / He unplugs the chop saw for her radio
  • She / He tells you to watch the baby while you’re running a circular saw

I’m going to need to go to meetings after this house. Oh well, at least I can be mayor.

Total costs: $2,465

Past Due, Day 8, Thursday- The grump

The wife and kids picked me up after work- my work clothes were in the car and I needed to get to work at the house.

“We need to stop off at City Lumber, I need a couple things,” I said.

“We’re late for tap class,” was her reply, “we have to go now!”

So we went. The class was supposed to be from 5:00 to 5:30. “No problem, the hardware store is open until 6:00,” I said, “I’ll wait in the car with the sleeping boy.”

Now, I thought that we were going to drop off the child and I would be whisked away to get to work, then get dinner brought to me after the class. Never works out that way.

The class started late, and finished up at 6:00. The hardware store was closed. The kids were fighting over a feather boa. I still wasn’t working on the house.

“Just take me to the house,” I said, “I need to get to work.”

She dropped me off and sped away.

I had a dinner of cold hot dogs, peanut butter, and Gatorade, then went to work, cutting tiny little slivers of tile that no one will ever notice, but would if they were missing. I finished the bathroom floor, after digging through the trash pile, with exactly three blue diamonds to spare.
I was cleaning up, when at 11:30, she came to the door in her pajamas. “Steelers won! Are you ready to go?”

“Yeah, hey, I finished the tile work.”

“Looks good. The kids are in the car. Let’s go.”

I sensed that she was a bit miffed. “Something wrong?”

“You were a jerk earlier,” was her reply.

“Oh, so you watched the Steeler's game?”

“Yes. We also had dinner. kids are in the car. Let’s go.”

At this point, I did what anyone with an ounce of self preservation would do. I apologized.

So, yes. I admit it. I’m tired, behind schedule, and have been living off of condiments for the better part of five weeks. I might be a little testy. I may even be grumpy.

Just please cut me some slack.

Total costs: $2,465

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Past Due, Day 7, Wednesday- Simple Electrical Work

Today I needed to replace a bathroom fan, so I shut off the power by sticking a screwdriver in the junction box, moving it rapidly back and forth, and letting the breaker take over.

Ahhh... ozone.

Smells like electrical work. Now, if I say so myself, my electrical skills are better than, say, a baboon with serious head trauma. As such, I figured this would be no problem at all. I went upstairs and disconnected all of the wiring from the old fan, carefully labeling where each wire was before.

Just kidding.

I tore through the old stuff like a hyperactive kid tears through presents on Christmas. Not only was everything dismantled, but I had no clue what came from Uncle Marty and what was from Santa.

That is to say, I was screwed.

The old wiring was, to say the least, cryptic. Standard (black and white) color codes? Not present. I had three sets of wires, two lights and three switches.

I made a WAG (wild-assed-guess), put everything together, ran down to the basement and flipped the breaker back on. That lasted about half a second. Went back upstairs, tried again, ran down, and flipped the breaker- pop. On and on, upstairs and downstairs. This went for the better part of an hour.

Finally, by way of increasingly desperate WAGs, I made one light work on one switch. Half way to my new desired result of two lights, two switches. (Helpful tip: if something is hard to accomplish, change the goal.) With this knowledge, I was able to complete the wiring after only an additional hour.

I went downstairs and flipped the breaker. It held. I went to the bathroom and flipped the switch. The radio went off. Breaker tripped again. I left the switch on, went upstairs and unwrapped the wire splices to make it easier to move things around.

I was pretty sure I just had something crossed. So, I flipped the two wires I was positive were wrong and went back to the basement. I flipped the breaker.

Pop. Bastard.

I flipped it again. Pop. And again. Pop. One more time. Pop.

Damn. Back upstairs. More wire moving. Got shocked. Cursed.

Wouldn’t you know it? Tenth time was the charm. Everything was working as I (newly) intended. Yes, the switches were in a different order now, but we only need two, and that is more energy efficient.

I went downstairs, mounted everything, and then went back upstairs to connect the old duct work into the new fan. That’s when I discovered that the exhaust didn’t go OUTSIDE. No, no- that would have made sense. No, this duct ended in the bedroom. Left as it was, I could imagine how this would play out.

Me: Hey Wife, the kids are asleep.
Her: OK, how about hot monkey love?
Me: Yea! (Clapping)
Her: (Sniffs) Um, wait, no. Get away.
Me: What did I do now?
Her: It smells like poop in here.
Me: It’s the bathroom fan! One of the kids….
Her: Yeah, sure. Go to sleep, you stinky bastard.
Me: But, (sniffle) hot monkey love……
Her: Goodnight.

That will not do. I shall not have stinky bathroom fumes for which I am not directly responsible prevent the hot monkey love.

So, I did what any caring husband would do. I disconnected the electrical for the fan.


Fixing it right would require the cutting of holes in the roof. Rain comes in holes in the roof. I fall off the roof. I fear the roof. The roof sucks.

Besides, it will take her years to figure out that the fan doesn’t work. She thinks her fecal matter doesn’t cause olfactory distress (I love thesauruses) and that everyone else’s is too much for ANY fan, so I’ll tell her it is a super-quiet model and everything will be just fine.

She’ll never know.

Total costs: $2,465

Past Due, Day 6, Tuesday- Disgusting

From the Daily Astorian:

Astoria mayor arrested for DUII after accident
This is the third time Van Dusen has been charged with drunken driving
Astoria Mayor Willis Van Dusen was arrested Monday night and charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants.
This is the third time Van Dusen, 53, has been charged with drunken driving. The first time was in Umatilla County Nov. 13, 1989, after his car was observed swerving on its way into Pendleton on Interstate 84. The case was dismissed and he was sent to diversion May 23, 1990. He completed diversion from that arrest in 1991.

I think you know how I feel about drunk drivers. What in the hell is wrong with people?

I mean, come on, he is the freakin' mayor. Yes, this is a tiny town on the coast, but how about some personal responsibility? Or accountability?

He’s up for re-election. Sadly, I doubt this will hurt his campaign at all.

Total costs: $2,465

Monday, September 04, 2006

Past Due, Day 5, Monday- Almost...

Very tired. Also, a bit whacked on fumes from:
  • Spray paint / texture
  • Sewer gas from hole where missing toilet is
Bathroom is almost finished, just a few more tiles, some grout, and reinstalling the fixtures. Rather than blather on, I've posted pictures.
Before- from the hall.

Now- View from the hall.

Where the urinal isn't. I can't believe I've missed that spot on the wall at least five times.

Oh yes, there are no squirrels here. There is one here, however. I have no idea why I think that particular post is so freaking funny.

Total costs: $2,465

Past Due, Day 4, Sunday- Whatever...

Bummer about the Crocodile Hunter. That guy made me feel sane. I (knowingly) do some stupid stuff, but I leave venomous creatures alone. I enjoyed learning about animals by watching Steve Irwin piss them off. The guy was a hoot, and I really enjoyed watching his stuff. Holding a baby whilst feeding a croc? Yeah, I'd do that kind of stupid shit.

On the topic of mortality, I’m currently taking bids from cardiologists for my upcoming quadruple bypass. While I have lost about ten pounds while working on this house, it hasn’t been due to my diet.

I’ve been living off of plain peanut butter sandwiches, apples, cottage cheese, and bacon. Lots of bacon. Literally pounds of the stuff.

I love bacon. My wife knows this, and as I have been a good boy and working on her house, she has purchased lots of it for me.

For breakfast yesterday, I had hash browns, fried eggs, and half a damn pound of bacon. The day before? Bacon sandwich. Breakfast today? An omelet with cheddar, feta, and jack cheese, peppers, onions, and half a pound of bacon.

I don’t need a cholesterol test, I need an oil change.

Back to it. I get emails about this thing. Not just the “Get any love pi11 you need!” type. For whatever reason, some people do not like to use the comments.

Now, as I’m a bit busy with this whole restoration thing, I don’t leave comments like I should. I visit other people’s blogs, and sites that refer folks here, I just don’t comment. My email is no better, but I do eventually get to it.

So now- Reader Email! These are actual items that pretty much went straight into my junk mail folder. I've saved some and I’m answering them today to make up for a light post.


Yeah, I take salvation advice from some asshole with an AOL address. How’s live in the trailer park Marylou? I’m Catholic, you dipshit, I know where Jesus is- he’s hanging on the wall behind the priest on the big cross. Besides, I’ll get purgatory- I need to screw up way worse than “pretending to be gay” to get hell. Purgatory- it’s like a chat room on AOL for your soul, but with way nicer people. Why do southerners think God is the boogeyman?

Oh yeah, I’m sorry your Daddy beat you with a bible. Next message!


No, I’m imaginary. Yes, I’m real. My wife is real, my kids are real, the house is real, even Chemo Clem is real. Next message!

You mentioned dry rot in a post- how did you fix it? I’ve got rot in my laundry room I need to fix.

Wow. The drug problem is truly out of control. Asking me for advice? Get help, buddy.

I'll help nonetheless. The first thing to do is to determine how much rot there is, what caused it, and where it goes. The short answer is to fix the leak, kill the rot, and replace the damaged area.

First, (I’ll assume you fixed the leak) kill the mold. Yes, there will be mold. Take a sprayer filled with 50% bleach and 50% water. Spray it over the entire affected area. Wait for it to completely dry.

Next, get some anti-freeze. You want the dollar-store cheap-o highly-toxic-to-pets glycol antifreeze. Spread it all over the area that is rotten (use a brush, not a sprayer,) and about 5” (or as much as possible) on all sides. Do not forget the bottom. The antifreeze should soak in really fast. Wait until it has, and wipe away any excess.

Remove ALL of the rotted material. Add more antifreeze to the cut/chiseled areas. Then replace the missing materials. Sometimes, you have to dig out a little spot (fill with BONDO), sometimes take out a board, and sometimes you have to reframe a wall. Cut / chisel / tear the wet and rot away. Replace with like materials per local building codes.

Guess what- this works. I learned it from a fisherman down at the hardware store. They use this to fix dry rot on their boats. Next message!


Is your Cap-Lock button broken? Why do you abbreviate “you”? I look dumb? At least I can spell “dumb.” Dipshit.

Anyway, yeah, it is (sadly) real. The space-time continuum takes a few hits (days are shifted, or multiple days get compressed) primarily for entertainment value. For example, the whole urinal thing took place over two days (and is still going on.) The basic facts are indeed true, and the conversations are pretty much verbatim. I’m just leaving out the dead time between major events.

I do this blog because my wife told me to. As far as the looking dumb, oh well. I’ve never been concerned with the opinions of others. I’ve been doing this type of work for a long time and this kind of stuff happens (well, not everything) to just about everyone. My thought is that if I write about falling off the stupid roof twice in one day, some newbie won’t feel back about slipping themselves.

So, here is the deal, people. Use the comments and I promise to try and answer everything. I'm not going back into the Junk Mail folder anymore.

Total costs: $2,465

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Past Due, Day 3, Saturday- Just Another Day

I spent the day cutting, painting, and installing trim. Lots of trim. Mind-numbing, soul-shattering amounts of trim. I had looked online and in books to see how houses like mine would have been trimmed and went from there.

The stuff is not fancy, but there typically is a tremendous amount of it. Measure, cut, paint, nail, caulk, paint, repeat.

But, the trim is done.

I also scrapped that nasty sticky diamond crap off the bathroom window. I had no idea at all why it was there. I peeled it away, applied liberal quantities of Goo-Gone and was left with a nice, clean window.

A short time later, I decided to use the facilities. I looked out my nice clean window at the street outside. One of the nice neighbor ladies waved to me.

She waved. While I was on the toilet.

I was a bit flustered. This was seriously embarrassing. Dear God, my pants are down and women are WAVING.

Better than laughing and pointing, I guess.

Anyway, I did the only thing I could think to do. I waved back. Then I stuck a half-sheet of half-inch thick HardiBacker in the window. It sat for a moment, then fell and hit me on the head.

Dazed and slightly hurt, I pushed the panel back up.

It fell and smacked me again. Back up it went, and this time I held it. “I do not want to die like Elvis.” I thought.

The panel continued to beat me about the head and shoulders while I buttoned up my jeans and concluded my business. Image how this looked yourself. The reality was probably worse.

So, now, after flashing the neighborhood, I know why the stuff was there. I bought a can of window frosting stuff. That should not happen again.

I am thankful for one thing- at least it wasn’t my wife that found out about it first.

About that time, the family returned from their fun-filled trip to somewhere exciting and new. They had eaten exotic foods and seen interesting new things, while I sat in the time sink and ate a peanut butter sandwich, an apple, and some cottage cheese.

OK, they went to Longview / Kelso and ate at Taco Bell because it has a really good playground.

Yeah, I made out better on that deal.

We all went home for dinner, and my wife made fresh fajitas. Why she made Mexican food after eating at a Taco Bell is beyond me. After dinner, it was time to head back.

Updated, slightly retouched photo of the wife.“I want to go help,” she announced.

“Cool. OK. Great. Let’s load up.”

“I need you to get the Yaffa blocks.”

“The Kafka blocks?” I asked.

Yaffa. Y-A-F-F-A blocks. You know, the things the kids toys go in.”

“Why?” I was a bit confused.

“So I can put them together,” she answered. “Then I can start bringing toys over.”

“I thought you were going to help me.”

“Yeah, that will keep the kids quiet.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I had visions of you painting the dining room, or touching up doors, or any other number of, well, ‘working on the house’ type things.”

“Fine. We’ll stay home.” She shot back.

"You know, this is going on the blog, right?"


So that was that. Back to the house with only a big white dog for company. When I got home, she was on the couch.

“What were you working on tonight?” She asked, smiling.

“Your stupid cabinet. You know, the one were the urinal stall should be.”

“If you really want a urinal, you can have one.”

I dropped everything in my hand and grabbed paper and a pen. I got this note. It reads:

I, slave Hubby’s overseer, hereby swear that he may put his little shrine to his penis (urinal) in the Master bath, after he builds it. –Wife.

Whoo! I get to put in a urinal! Right after I….. spend like $7,500 installing a dormer…. another $2,000 on a plumber…. probably another $4,500 on fixtures and materials….

HEY! She was using my man-toilet as bait. Comparatively cheap bait for a very expensive and time consuming project. I’ll show her. I’m keeping the note, and when I do build the upstairs bathroom I’m PUTTING IN THE URINAL!

If she lets me.

Total costs: $2,465