Sunday, December 28, 2008

home depoor

Okay. The day had come to take our various measurements and lists and buy supplies for the garage apartment makeover. We'd spent a couple of weeks working on window restoration (see previous post) and tearing out the problem sections of the apartment. Like laminate over shiplap. That had gotten moisture behind it; and crumbled, bowed and smelled like mold. Like drywall that had gotten wet because we had a termite problem (past tense) and the wood under the window sill was like Swiss cheese. Rotten Swiss cheese. And there was drywall tape making appearances all over the place. To name a few things.

Three hours in Home Depot. Three fucking hours of comparing products and weighing the pros and cons. Three hours of occasionally finding an orange apron that knew what we were talking about and which aisle we could find it on. I can't even stand shopping for the things I really like for three hours. And I like home improvement do-it-yourself stores.

I figure we were more than halfway through the expenses on this long overdue project. Halfway through, but done for the day. $300. Holy shit. For the amount of lumber, drywall and bags of random supplies $300 really wasn't that bad. Sad side note: when we add up the total cost of this 500 sq ft job it will probably equal the patient cost of a single 1cm x 1cm dental crown. ONE crown. (If it isn't already apparent, in addition to the property tax people sucker-punching us, the dentist left-jabbed us with some staggering estimates.)

Where was I? Oh, yes, we checked out and guided the wobbly lumber dolly out to the truck. I am often irritated when men assume I need help loading up my purchases. Even if they work there. I am strong and able, dammit. On the other hand, I appreciate service and try not to polish that feminist chip I have on my shoulder. This time, I was three hours exhausted and three hundred dollars poorer, so I figured, what the fuck, let the eager guys load this heavy stuff into the truck bed. I thought about lecturing them on the wonders of bungee cords in securing a load but told myself to stop being so controlling. This was their job. I did warn them not to ding my drywall, however.

We live about 2 miles from Home Depot. It was a Sunday afternoon and the rain had finally stopped (yay, no soggy drywall!). Four blocks from the store, crossing a busy street, we hit a slight bump. The contents of the entire truck bed sailed out into the intersection.

Almost perfectly stacked.

Barbara pulled over as I jumped from the still-moving truck yelling, We've gotta rescue our investment! It is clear that that says something about me that I don't want to over-analyze. The two good Samaritans whose path was blocked by our debris got out of their truck to help us haul everything out of the street. The other three lanes of traffic resisted the urge to run over our drywall and half-dozen 12-foot lengths of lumber. Investment saved.

Next time, we load our own fucking truck.

window to my [wall] hole

For those of you uninterested in DIY home repair just skip this post slog through this anyway. In solidarity and because there might be a quiz when I see you next. Eric, make pretend you're me listening to you about football. There, all set?

Okay, once upon a time there was a double-hung window in our garage apartment. It was a very old window with a rotten...uh, a rotten bottom. A rotten bottom that could not be patched or epoxied or camouflaged. It was dead.

One of the rare occasions that the multifaceted and beloved
duct tape just can't save the day. No disrespect.

We found an incredible place to look for a new old window. Turns out the size we needed was atypical even for the huge range of sizes used in unstandardized 1950. After searching through a plethora* of windows we found one that was the right size.

The window was buried under paint, caulk, glaze and liberally sprinkled with mold and schmutz. I don't think we needed to scrape off every iota but it was so therapeutic, we indulged. Scraped and sanded until Norm Abram would have beamed. We took out the glass, cleaned the shit off of everything and began to reconstruct. Primed, glazed and painted. See how I slipped glazing in there as if it were nothing? I'm too modest. Glazing sounds churning or darning. There used to be people who did nothing but glaze for a living. They were called, oddly enough, glaziers. Suffice it to say, I have new respect.

Yes, Virginia, that is green linoleum on our unrenovated kitchen floor.
Avocado green. Now, try to focus on the story at hand.

In addition to learning how to glaze, we learned that glazing takes 7-14 days to firm up enough to paint. 7-14 days? Who has that kind of time? We thought, well, maybe 7...but then realized that the one-week time frame was for arid, warm-toned, Sonoran Desert windows; two-weeks were definitely needed for windows expecting to reside in the subtropic steaminess of Houston. Well, shit, two-weeks it was.

Then, we had to make some adjustments to the existing window frame. I'll spare you the details. Just know that the new, resurrected (sorry for the misplaced holiday modifiers) window had a greater depth than the old one. There was sill trimming and wood putty involved.

And today, we installed the beauty. It opens. It closes. I'm beside myself.

* 1 plethora = like, 100

Friday, December 26, 2008

wrapping it up

Christmas was quiet. Pleasant but not particularly...festive. Still I appreciated the absence of family drama, love them as I do, and it wouldn't surprise me if the hiatus was welcome for them as well. Missed my kids more than I want to acknowledge, you know, but it's important to let them create their own traditions, yada, yada.

Learned how to glaze a window. It's like caulking only lasts longer. Messy to apply, somewhat tedious to smooth and the attention-to-detail process was tonic to my soul.

We also prepared the paperwork we'll need for our property tax protest. Our tax bill is SO out of hand, the shock moved me right past teeth gnashing and whining (okay, almost past whining) and right into survival mode. We have documentation to focus on.

Enough people know about or read this blog to put a significant damper on any scathing commentary I might have about, for instance, some of my holiday experiences. Dammit.

Okay, that's all for now. Will try and check back in between the DIY pile-ups ahead...

Monday, December 15, 2008

premature preview

I don't usually review a book when I'm only 10 pages in...but I picked up In the City of Shy Hunters by Tom Spanbauer (recommended by my dear and fabulous little sister) and couldn't resist.

The main character gives this description of his friend Rose:

Drop-dead freshly fucked gorgeous.

Maybe a book shouldn't be judged by a single phrase but man, this does bode well.

the sound of one shoe flying

Forgive me for rushing to the trough of blatant blog fodder. Shoes flung at our hapless commander-in-chief are just too hard to resist.

I'm meh on Bush's reaction. Mildly surprised that his reflexes were that good and bored by his smarmy, uninspired commentary. But at least he didn't cry like a pre-schooler or throw them back. Talk about lowered expectations, all he has to do is not pee his pants and I'm like all, hey good job, goober!

It's the Iraqi guy I can't seem to get out of my head. I keep thinking about him slinking home to his disbelieving family and friends:

You had the Blaspheming Devil in your sites and all you could come up with was a shoe? A SHOE? Thrown so lamely that it didn't even glance off of his dull-witted noggin?
This poor guy will never hold his head up again. People will throw shit at him for the rest of his life, "Hey, why didn't you think of this?" and a kebab is airborne.

Addendum: Even though this act was, in fact, a very grave insult in Iraqi culture I have chosen to overlay it with my own silly American interpretation. Not because I don't respect another's culture but because 1. I kinda like the idea of throwing a shoe at Bush because it would be an amusing, albeit harmless, protest (unless I used a stiletto...but I'm getting offtrack here.) and 2. because hurling an epithet at someone in your own language (when they don't understand a single word) may make you feel better but doesn't communicate shit to the shithead.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

magic asses and midnight monkies

I have this theory that there's an invisible force field in my cube created by the contact of ass-to-chair. This force field prevents the phone from ringing. I love this power, though I have no control over it, and I suspect I'm not alone in possessing it. The corollary is, of course, as soon as I'm more than 20 feet away from the 6x6 cell cube, the damn phone is going to ring.

Curiously, at home that force field is maintained by my ass never making contact with the toilet seat. Which contact stimulates not only the phone, but the front door. I'm a skeptic so I don't think this is The Universe, God or Aliens. I think it's electrical...but that's foolishness for another post.

So last night, I settle with a sigh on the throne not long before midnight. I am half-undressed for bed. I hear a car and footsteps on the porch. And then, the firm, insistent knock. Fuck me.

Since we have our share of neighborhood crazies with occasional lapses in what constitutes good manners, I shout out, "Who is it?" (Those among you who might accuse me of yelling like a fishwife from inside the house should note that I didn't holler, "Who the fuck is knocking on my door at this hour?")

Which was fortunate restraint on my part because the answer came back, "[unintelligible...unintelligible] Houston Police."

Oh. So I call out once more (a little less belligerently), "just a moment," throw on a shirt and go to the door. And there are two cops on my porch.

"Ma'am, did someone call the police from this residence?" (Not the time to discuss the issue of calling me ma'am, I silently note.)
"No, not from here."
"We got a call about a monkey loose on this street and they gave your address."
A monkey? No, even my practical joking friends wouldn't risk possible fines for filing a false report. This was just the luck of the draw. I sent the officers away with no more information than they had before interrupting my reverie.

So far, no monkey sightings from us...we will be on the lookout, however.

Did I mention that two FBI agents stopped by in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike? Looking for a coworker who shared St. Barbara's name. FBI. Couldn't find the correct address of their own people, godhelpus.

If I were paranoid, I'd be all high anxiety now. But I'm not. It's all electrical.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

recycle guy gives me a thumbs up

I separate my recycling. Even though, at one point, I was told that the whole bin was upended into the back of the truck willy-nilly...I still separated the plastic from the metal from the paper. It just seemed like a good, pious, righteous thing to do. Some people mocked me.

We walked out of the house yesterday morning just as the recycling truck pulled up. They started emptying our bins (yes, I ordered a second one, fucking earth-mother-tree-hugger that I've become) into two different compartments and the guy looked up at me and said, "good job on separating your recycling!"

I practically beamed. A gold star from the garbage man. Mock me now, suckers.


I'm not feeling holiday-esque this year. Not upset about it, just not interested. It probably doesn't help that the temperature was in the mid-70's today. Even a cold weather hater like myself needs it a couple of degrees lower for any hope of Christmasy feeling.

A cold front was promised for tonight. I mean cold, like in the 30's. A 40-degree drop was not what I had in mind but, let's face it, Nature is completely disinterested in my weather preferences. So, I'm driving home from work with the windows open and warm breeze blowing. By the time I get to the house, the sky is that dark, brooding gray-blue that I love...but the sun is shining in such a way that the trees against the sky stand out in bright contrast. Like a negative. One of the rare times I rue not being a photographer.

In the twenty foot journey from car to the house, the temperature drops 10 degrees. I actually walk through the front wall of a cold front.


Monday, December 08, 2008

holy hybrid salvation


Greater Grace, the largest church in Detroit, invited officials from the United Automobile Workers union to speak before Bishop Ellis gave his sermon, titled “A Hybrid Hope.”

The S.U.V.’s on the stage, a Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Escape and Chrysler Aspen on loan from local dealerships, were all gas-electric hybrids, and Bishop Ellis urged worshipers to combat the region’s woes by mixing hope with faith in God.

Praise be to Oliver and the NYT.