Monthly Archives: April 2008

choosing the facilities

I officially ordered our tub and toilet. In 3-4 weeks, we will be the proud owners of a Kohler Seaforth 54-inch cast-iron tub and a Kohler Cimarron comfort-height, two-piece, round-front toilet with Class Five flushing system:

I get chills just thinking about being able to pee in private again. To say nothing of showering.

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extreme vacuuming

I learned a valuable lesson today: never give a man—and especially two men—your credit card and send them to Lowe’s. Even with a list and coupons.

Anyway, another $600 bill later, we got a hot water heater, a programmable thermostat, and a new blade for the lawnmower, which I somehow destroyed yesterday and caught hell from Joe for. A new blade was a lousy $22. “You lectured me for 22 bucks?” I asked when I found out. “That’s nothing.”

“It is when you have to replace it every three mows,” he said. Touche.

Still, he’ll lecture me about money and not spending, but then drop $600. If we need it, we need it, but I meticulously research, price compare, and wait for sales and/or coupons. Joe equates cost with quality, though, so he’ll never buy the cheapest thing on the shelf. Even a hot water heater.

I guess it was designated women’s work day, because after watching Belle all morning, I arrived, anxious to work, and was told I could vacuum. It’s been a while, so I didn’t mind too much. It helped that the bathroom ceiling is temporarily displaced (our contractor found old mold and suggested we just replace it) and the boys bought an extra hose for the shop vac. I climbed up into the attic and sucked out as much insulation debris as I could.

This sounds way easier than it actually is, since the attic is now just a series of crisscrossing beams it’d be easy to step right through. Balancing on my stomach on moveable wood planks above the bathroom floor, stretching to the max to reach the fiberglass dust in the way back of the eaves, I thought, this could be an Olympic sport. This totally kicks any yoga class’s ass.

Women’s work is not for the weak.

little john

Joe had a long conversation with our contractor, the end result being that we have to switch gears and get the bathroom ready for plumbing this week. The bathroom includes the washer/dryer, which are going in the same room. We bumped out the original bathroom wall so it encloses the closet that was next to it. Now, instead of stuffing the laundry into a closet, as was previously the case, they’ll be part of the bathroom, separated from the shower by a half-wall.

It was the best solution we could come up with. But the room is still small enough that we’re gambling on getting full-size units in there. We actually cut out a cardboard model and tried to move it past the doorframe. It’s gonna be a squeeze.

Ditto the rest of the room–even with a 54-inch tub and 30-inch vanity, we’re tight as hell. My biggest concern is the lighting. I love light fixtures, but we don’t have room for, well, anything really. I emphatically vetoed Joe’s suggestion that we build lights into the medicine cabinet, so my choices are a wall-mounted fixture above the medicine cabinet, a pendent light, or recessed lights in the ceiling. I’m not thrilled with any of those options. I guess it’s time for some research.

dream home

You know how you’ve got a bad case of remodelitis? When you dream about buying a new, problem-free house.

Last night I had the kind of dream all dreams should aspire to be, a total REM fantasy. In it, Joe and I had bought this crazy old brownstone that we thought was falling apart, only when we got inside, it was gorgeous. I mean, it needed updating, but just decorating, the fun stuff, not insulation removal and sheetrock and plumbing craziness.

Best of all, inside it was an urban loft. The ceilings were soaring, the kitchen was huge, there was even a dining room. And when we went outside, we had no neighbors, but a beachfront view. I even had a dog in this dream. It was my utopia. I literally woke up drooling. And then had to face reality again.

wild kingdom

The weather wasn’t as beautiful today as it was yesterday, but it’s amazing what just not being itchy does for you. Joe and his dad had to fix a spot on the roof, so I started weeding the front flowerbeds, and I ended up spending most of the day outside.

The yard was one of the biggest selling points of this house, and I’ve started to appreciate it even more lately. Everything inside may be falling down around our ears, but you can tell the woman who lived here really loved her plants. When she got sick, her family hired a lawn service, and since we cancelled it, I’ve been worried about keeping it all up.

To me gardening, is like wine: a really broad, complex subject that you need to know something about to really enjoy. Right now, I’m at the merlot stage: I don’t even know what half the plants in our yard are, let alone how to care for them. Aside from what we think is a maple tree, some azalea bushes, a forsythia hedge, and one rose bush, I’m lost. Here are the unidentified growing objects:

my itchy nemesis

I should have known how things would go when Joe said he had a plan. That usually means I end up with nothing to do all day, or something horrible. Today was a bit of both. The temperature was supposed to get up to 80 today, so I started in the attic first thing, while it was still cool out. Because our garbage men are lazy as hell, and as a rule don’t even cart away the eight bags a week they’re supposed to, we decided that we only need to bag as much as we can haul away in a given week.

So I climbed up to the pit of death for a few hours. I managed to clear the space above the bathroom where we’re removing the ceiling with a minimum of head bumps, even when Joe and his dad shut the electric off on me. They’re framing the hall closet and can’t work around live wires (the big babies).

The tricky thing about insulation is this: It doesn’t itch while you’re rolling around in it, or even right after. It takes a little while, but by then it’s bored into every fiber of your clothing so that every move you make irritates your skin a little more. I managed to go all morning and even mow the lawn, but after lunch I was itchy and aimless. Joe couldn’t come up with anything for me to do so I ran to Lowe’s and got some non-essential items but movement, combined with the sticky heat, was worse than the worst poison ivy. I got so irritable Joe finally sent me home to shower.

Thanks goodness he did. I was like a new woman after that, although still mildly itchy. I brought back burgers, hot dogs and rolls and we pulled out the grill for dinner. By then, Joe and his dad were the irritable ones. They had been framing all day, and ended up replacing the ceiling in the closet too.

But after that long day, sitting in our backyard on battered lawn furniture and eating picnic style was like a ray of normalcy into an extremely abnormal past 5 months. We savored the food, watched the squirrels, and petted the friendly neighborhood cat who wandered into the yard.

Life is good.

houses is expensive

With our tax bill and all the other money we seem to be hemorrhaging lately, Joe and I have both been very tense, which means lots of fights about nothing. It’s easy to see why: Above are all the receipts we’ve accumulated since buying this money pit. As you can see, it tops out around 2.5 inches right now.

And those are only the receipts I could find; Joe probably has a similar stack in his car somewhere, not to mention the whopping bill our contractor’s going to charge us. What’s really depressing is that most of those receipts are for drywall screws and paint thinner, things you won’t even see.

Who needs kids? We’ve got a 900-square-foot dependent right here.