Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The transmogrification of the button-down mind
[Friday update: I painted the ceiling myself that night, and she painted the rest of the room on Thursday evening. Someday we'll complete this project.]
I've got the Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul update complete, and it will be uploaded in a couple hours so chances are by the time you read this it'll be available for viewing. I don't have anything blatently stupid to report because I've been sheltered recently ;) but I have an observation to offer about coming back to work after nine days of peace and "quiet" (tile saw, shop vac, rubber mallet, hammer): I've never been a fan per se of Bob Newhart [some regard his phone routines as being a ripoff of Shelley Berman], but I appreciate his subtle style -- his trademark is to be the bewildered meek man who tries to forge forward while crazy people and things happen around him. I didn't watch his TV shows, but that manner came through when he was the innkeeper with Tom Postin and Larry, Darryl and Darryl dropping by, and when he was the psychiatrist, the perfect situation for looking stunned as people say stunning things. This is how I've been this week. My supervisor says my customer service skills have shown a marked improvement because I'm so nice yet sort of surprised by the people I talk to and then I forge on politely. It kinda helps that I brought my kneepads and put them on shortly after I get to my desk for the day, but that's just symbolic.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
You need a new toilet for your livingroom?
We reached a milestone: we completed the grouting of the floor! It turns out that while the books say it will take novices 8 hours to grout a 100 square foot area (our bathroom is less than 50 square feet), the 25 pounds of mixed grout in the bucket only stays workable for about 30 minutes... This will definitely speed up your performance, or make you drag the bucket back to the porch and add a cup of water then mix it again before it's too late. For those not familiar with grouting: After spreading the grout goop over the tiles with diagonal sweeps and going over it several times to both further drive grout into the cracks and scrape the excess off the tops of the tiles, you let it dry for about fifteen minutes, and then you use damp sponges to first wipe the excess off the tile tops, then go over it again nearly a hundred times (so it seems) to get the grey 'haze' off the tiles, which in the process creates those swell curves on the grout lines which makes the surface hygienic (according to the video that came with the tile saw). Thus you can see there's a lot of work that has to be done expediently, followed by a lot of repetative swabbing. It's a hell of a lot of fun!
So here are today's pictures, and we nixed the idea of painting tonight (we may do some other task mentioned yesterday between "painting" and "sealing", it's still early for us) so that will be Sunday's task. The Garfield Street Festival was small but okay, and since we agreed to finish the grout before we went there, it was around 5pm that we showed up so not everything was still around... not to say there was a lot there to miss in the first place. I did appreciate the punker dude in his 30's or 40's with the spiky Mohawk whose sew-on patch on his back accurately said "Anachronist". (Not "anarchist", since I'm sure he has a day job serving The Man and kids to put through college.) You get five photos today:
We started with the closet as our competency test area. This is the doorway of the closet, after cleaning and de-hazing, so you can compare the grouted area to the not-yet-grouted tile.
The closet is done! Now to go do the toilet nook...
Action photo #1: Mushy laying grout next to the tub.
Action photo #2: Paige de-hazes the tile next to the tub. (There you go, Jamie -- a photo of Paige, and she hates this one because she, like Natalie Portman in the previous entry, wasn't wearing a bra.)
The end result, after an hour of removing and re-removing the haze from the tiles: a grouted tile floor, yaaay! We have this great sense of accomplishment, but I won't really feel it's done until it's done and one can brush their teeth then take a shower and a poo in here (not at the same time, hopefully), and that moment won't come for at least a week.
We now resume our regularly-scheduled complaining about the stupidities of the world. Expect more bathroom photos once there's something to show: the vanity top and stuff that hangs on the wall sometime soon, and the truly finished floor with cove tiles around the perimeter on/after the first Monday in September. Thanks for watching the progress!
Friday, August 25, 2006
Grout, grout, pretty little grout; dash right in and splash about
We filled tile in the main areas, as you saw in the previous entry, but held off on the closet until we could cut tiles to fit the door frame contours and inner nooks. Here are the full tiles going into the closet (that's Paige kneeling before it)...
...and here is the closet after the cut tiles were added!
Now I cut the tiles for around the vanity. Notice the awesome L-shaped one in the corner. The next bit of silliness we will face is that the vanity has a recessed panel across the front [see wood-yellow area on the left] to make it pretty -- but doesn't since this isn't sitting flat on the floor, it's on a slab of plywood. We're considering grouting the exposed area of the board so it will be grey.
Funny time! I'll be updating the Laughter is the Spackle of the Soul page any day now, so in the meantime here's a picture I've given a couple captions:
a) Brenda was visibly excited to meet Hilary Rodham Clinton. Ms Clinton was not the only perky person in the office that day.
b) Hilary pulled Brenda the intern aside and said to Bill, "If you're going to get into monkeybusiness with an intern, this is what the intern is supposed to look like!" Bill scribbled some notes furiously.
Okay, checking the schedule... Saturday morning, grout. Saturday afternoon, a street festival. Saturday evening, paint the ceiling and other half of the bathroom. Sunday, start putting the room back into order so it can be somewhat usable: things that need to be done include putting the vanity top on, putting the sink fixtures in, hooking the plumbing to the sink back up, mounting the medicine cabinet, putting the light back up, buying some new trim strips for around the door frames and putting those up, and mounting the doors. Sealing the tile will take place on Saturday of next week, probably right before we go to the Packwood rummage sale. Putting in the new toilet will take place on Sunday. Putting up the cove tiles, and caulking around the tub (but not the toilet!) and under the cove tiles, will presumably follow that, and we need to put a reducer strip on the threshold as well... then the bathroom will be back in full service again! Yaaay!
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Blazing a trail and laying the groundwork
First, another out-take, in response to a comment made by Jamie Dawn:
> Your poor toilet is probably feeling like a fish out of water.
I offer further proof that the previous owners were crack addicts -- the inside of the toilet tank lid was painted. Like the inside surface of my white metal door being painted with white latex wasn't enough?
The first thing we did today was created chalk lines on the subfloor and laid one column of tiles following those lines. We came to discover that the chalk doesn't stay visible for very long, but we are able to use this column as the guide for laying all the other tiles. The span to the right of the column and left of the tub is precisely 12" so we're going to get some tiles cut down from 2" to 1.75" tomorrow to put along the tub. The span between the column and the wall is a bit less and I can snap some tiles in half to fill along the wall. (The tile cutter I have is great for cuts down to 0.5" and anything less than that is a mess, ergo us having the tiles along the tub cut by professionals. We WERE going to borrow a tile saw but then didn't.)
Once the column was in place, I moved into the commode corner. I am happy to say I can cut triangular tiles pretty well, and the toilet's footprint is adquately covered. There will NOT be caulk applied under the toilet, because as Ginger @ Lowe's said, if there's a leak or other problem you'll never know it until it's too late. Note to Illiterate: You may find yourself trying to find patterns, and there are a few hidden, but it's the opposite you should be looking for -- rows and columns where it's solid light green without a dark green to break it up. There's one such row from the toilet to the tub, I just noticed.
Here's where I took a break to clean the tools, and Paige said she'd take over and finish what's left. We're saving the closet for tomorrow, since we have to cut / get cut some tiles for the perimeter anyway. Don't it look GREAT?!
So I guess that despite some setbacks of previous days we're still on target to have the floor ready to walk on by the weekend, and we can seal it in a week or two per sealant package directions (though the experts we've talked to say it can be done "later that day" after the grouting sets but they don't say it like they'd do that if it were their own homes). All this and I still had time to win some unusual Christmas lights on eBay.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Meanwhile, back in the bathroom...
First, an out-take from Sunday: If you look carefully, you can see how badly the closet door framing was set in and why there were such wide trim strips... you also get a glimpse of the original paint color in the room from the 1960's (to the left over the hall door), puke green.
The wall with the door, the wall with the closet, the wall with the outlet over the vanity, and the behind the vanity with the medicine cabinet/light have been painted with Behr "Celery Ice"; the far wall, the two walls over the tub, and the wall with the light switch will be painted with Behr "Frostwood" once the other walls are cured.
A replacement 1/8" board was purchased for $0.51 in the as-is department of Home Depot and cut to size with a steak knife in my driveway. If you look closely, you will notice I also put a 3/8" plywood "stage" in the vanity's footprint (cut by Mila at Home Depot) so the vanity will be at the tile's height instead of obviously below it. I put those two panels in during the eighth inning of the Mariners/Yankees game.
Now a preview of what the bathroom floor will look like. We've been taking the 2'x1' sheets of light green tile and trimming out 10 tiles randomly, then will put in darker green tiles in those spots. This posed shot was taken on a card table in the familyroom after we got all the cutting done.
Monday, August 21, 2006
The wax item under the floorboards
Old Vanity - the before photo
Old Vanity - the after photo
This one section of floor was 1/8" plywood so we removed it. This was the only piece of this size, so the best I can figure is that someone had to do a repair and mistakenly used 3/8" plywood instead of 1/2" plywood, then had to toss in a 1/8" piece to compensate. Now must replace. Crackheads...
New vanity assembled and in place
We also discovered that the water pipes are degrading, and I did a bunch of scraping of rust out of them before installing brand new valves. The joys of home improvement!
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Now we get into the heavy labor!
Down goes the medicine cabinet!
Off goes that horrible linoleum backsplash!
Mushy takes off his top! Er, the vanity top.
Out goes the throne on its royal chariot! (It's on the back porch and will be back soon. Good thing we have two bathrooms.)
Also, we started taking out random tiles in the light-green sheets so they can be replaced with dark-green tiles; sample photo of that and pictures of the floor stripping coming tomorrow.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
So to begin the saga, the Before shots
Cleaning the outside of the vanity -- yes, the crackheads painted over the stained wood on the front and put paper on the right side then painted over the paper
View from the doorway inward
View from the far wall/window outward
From the tub, a shot of the most used part of the bathroom (beside the toilet)
Tune in tomorrow for destruction shots! Yes, I could post Saturday's now but since I didn't put up the Before photos earlier (sorry) you get some suspense.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
The arrest of Captain Underpants
I started telling my bride about some mindless situation at work, sitting on the couch around 2am this morning, and the Ambien got the best of her; she interrupted me to say, "We had to deal with a malodorous black man jacking off in the magazine section [of the library she works in]... Nothing in your day can beat that." I have to admit, she was correct. That simply doesn't compare to seeing why the previous tech didn't leave notes on what he told the customer to do, which was because the mail program the tech told the guy to download and spent the next hour on the phone with while it was coming in slooowly was incompatable with the man's office mail system. The gentleman, however, did not have to ask me to transfer him to "a more experienced technician" when I explained this fact and read the details of what mail programs do what from the PDA manufacturer's website to show what he downloaded ain't gonna work for his purposes. Obliging his request, I transferred him to Mr. Dialtone in our Whiny Customer Queue.
Our dear aunt in Arizona had her phone number changed so her daughter, a 40-year-old crack whore in Seattle, couldn't call her for money several times a day. As a concession, she gave her daughter our phone number to call in case of emergency. Running out of cigarettes is an emergency to her. Grrr. That's the biggest stupidity of the week.
We have the final batch of tiles and some tasty grey grout with matching adhesive, and we should be getting the tile saw from a coworker today. We will be attending a seminar on Saturday afternoon at
Monday, August 14, 2006
* Molding: Mostly removed -- it comes off the wall a lot easier than the bottom of the vanity, where the crackheads used some serious glue. This is going to require a chisel and gunk remover.
* Trim: Haven't done that yet because I pulled up one and found out just how much of a gap there is between the wall edge and the doorframe. It'll only take a minute to rip it all off, but I'm gonna wait so there isn't a week of gapping-ugly.
* Backsplash: I was forbidden from removing that because we still use the sink.
* Medicine cabinet: Okay, another freaking minute. Didn't get around to it, basically.
* Vanity cleaning: This got accomplished.
* Caulk: I was forbidden from removing that because we still use the tub.
* Sanding: Didn't do that because half the stuff that needed sanding wasn't exposed. Possibly I can do this during the week if those items come down.
* Painting: No.
* Neice-labor: There was some but we didn't exploit her to the fullest extent. I know, what a waste! But we weren't exactly on the ball.
One stupidity we invoked upon ourselves:
we apparently had forgotten the dimensions of our vanity; we bought three large bins for the inside, and they are just won't work. On the plus side, they only charged us for one bin. On the minus side, that means we can only be refunded for one bin. We keep encountering a related bit of stupidity, regarding our vanity and our kitchen cupboards -- the shelving products available in the stores do not match the space available, there's always one side that's too wide. Like a couple weeks ago when I was trying to find something for the cabinet the range hood is in (three feet tall but ten inches deep); everything at the hardware warehouses was too wide, and there was one shelf at Bed Bath & Beyond that would have been great but the drawer rails were perpendicular to the direction they need to be going. Do I have to build everything?!
And speaking of doing my Bill Ding imitation, one item that wasn't on the bathroom project list but was on our larger home improvement list did get done over the weekend. Last night, I replaced the two hanging spotlights facing the mantle with two little recessed lights. This was an adventure, since the old lights were put in by drilling one hole and putting the wires through it (and once again, the fixtures were being held in place by paint because the screws didn't go into anything) and the new lights required cutting holes in the ceiling and rolling around in the fluffy white fiberglass batting to work with the wiring. It's lucky we found some hydrocortisone lotion in the vanity cleaning extravaganza, I needed it pretty bad and still itch a little now. I did commit one boo-boo, I cut the hole for one of the lights before finding out where the stud was (I just followed the hole the wires came through), then had to move it forward three inches, so now there's a crescent of ceiling I need to patch with something more filling than spackle. But they do work, and once we get some spotlight bulbs in there (the globed fluorescents from IKEA that I like so much stick out and the whole idea here was to not have light shining on the television) it'll be pretty cool. If I haven't said it in the last half hour, let me remind you: the previous residents were tweakers, and the wiring upstairs was incredible. At least this time they used utility boxes and insulated grounded wire rather than speaker wire to hook stuff up. (And I did yank out a length of speaker and appliance cord which was connected to flat two-wire antenna... and neither end was connected to anything else!)
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Click for sausage! Wowza get consterpated!
Weekend homewrecking project agenda:
* Remove the rubber moldings around the perimeter, for they are a scourge of God. (Fuh Glee!)
* Remove the wood trim strips around the doors, for they have been fouled by the ingestors of methamphetimines. (Beautiful stained wood got painted over in white latex.)
* Remove the linoleum backsplash around the vanity. (Horrible dog juice out of the carpet!)
* Take down that medicine cabinet. (Not another freaking minute!)
* Clean out the vanity so it can be painted. (She emptied one shelf two weeks ago and the contents are still in front of the vanity, taking up foot-space. Spinach what she started.)
* Make the clear caulk around the tub go byebye. (It ain't so clear anymore.)
* Put that Black & Decker 'Mouse' to good use at last by sanding the thrashed yeccie areas where there was molding, trim strips, old fixtures, feral house pets, poorly-glued wallpaper, and backsplash. (That's pronounced "yetch-chee". It's Italian.)
* Would be nice to put a coat of paint over some of those freshly-sanded areas (and the patch under the light) because we can see drywall in those places, in anticipation of the full paint job of next week. (The original owner painted once, ever, and future generations didn't remove anything before painting.... everywhere.)
* Get our delightful houseguest for the weekend, her neice Amanda, to do as much of the above as possible while we suck down Mimosas and Mudslides on the couch. (Just kidding.)
The tile for around the perimeter will be arriving next week, we still need to buy/order some grout (the color is the deciding factor on which), and the nine day break to undertake the heavy work begins in one week, five and a half hours!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Bonus karma's gonna get you....
As for the blood drawing, that turned out better than hoped in the physical attributes -- I came with a bottle of orange juice, ready for my weakness, but I didn't get woozed this time. The woman got a vial of blood (the soup of cannibals) and that was that. I guess I'm not the complete withering wimp I thought I was becoming... though I still couldn't watch it happen. Now I wait a day or so for the material aspect of the action: the results, whether this has affected my liver or not so I can get some more Lamisil. I need to transfer that prescription to Canada when I get it authorized; what was $500 last time will be upwards of $100 this time if all goes well.
Yeah, I know... two blog entries in two days. Stuff bore mention. And I'm aware that half of my readers are on tour so they need to do some catching up on the last week or two worth of writings.
Monday, August 07, 2006
Have a pheasant plucking day!
Sunday was home improvement day, and my adductor muscles are sore now but I have no idea why (I swear, I haven't done the Time Warp again...) other than from climbing up on that vanity a dozen times while replacing the light, which didn't bother me at all at the time. :) Herein were the two stupidities encountered -- first, that the horizontal beam inside the wall that is used for mounting lights is nine inches below where I want it to be; second, the crackheads who replaced the light which had been there from 1959 to around 1996 (according to the "inspected by" sticker on the fixture I removed) didn't mount that light bar correctly, and it was being held to the drywall by two short screws rather than the intended bracket. Sucker coulda fallen down at any point, truthfully, though to its benefit the back was "painted shut". So once I got that fixture down, admired the outline of the original smaller fixture and the green paint which originally graced the bathroom walls, and cut a hole for a new utility box, I had to figure some way to mount the box since it was at least six inches from anything else. Wound up prying a couple chunks of 2x4 off the mowed-down mailbox pole repair of several months ago (the old mailbox and pole have been in a wheelbarrow since I replaced them), sawing them a bit to make a piece fit in the hole yet be tall enough to stand on the existing box/beam, shimmed it into place with another 2x4 chunk and pieces cut from a yard sign for some political race of months ago [gawd, the amount of lumber I recycle!], and then was able to mount the utility box in the hole. A bit of spackle and a mesh patch later, I had the old box hole covered; in the photo you can see where it was. I took care of the wiring and mounted the new fixture correctly -- which of course will be coming down when this wall gets repainted in a fortnight but we need light presently. The photo also shows the new exhaust fan (exciting, ain't it?).
In the future we will be redoing our kitchen, something we've talked about since shortly after we moved in (blame the previous folks' surgery on the linoleum, which made putting in the refrigerator a bit of a challenge), and this will be somewhere down the road. There's just so much wrong about our kitchen. We decided to wrangle the bathroom first as a test to see if we have the stuff it takes to handle major home improvements, which the kitchen undoubtedly will be. Also, this is a test to see if we can follow through on home improvement plans from start to finish, or in my wife's mind anyway, because she is accustomed to her family and friends starting projects then leaving them unfinished for years on end. I'm not about to leave any of the major projects hanging because the bathroom and kitchen are functional spaces and must remain fully functional, in my opinion, not just areas that can still be used despite being in disarray.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Why not have a box-lunch at the Y today?
Speaking of being up early, due to my wife having a staff meeting at her work at 8 a.m. ("seven seconds of information they could have emailed us, presented over two hours" she says) I was awake long before I shoulda been this morning so I installed that bathroom exhaust fan. And it took an hour and a half, what with trips into the fluffy white attic (oh look, the breaker that handles the bathroom fan also handles the attic light!) and down to the bathroom to retrofit the hole in the ceiling (from 8"x8" to 7"x9" -- saw and spackle and shim). Anyhow, by 10:15 a.m. it was ready for my much-needed shower and... it's just as loud as the one it replaced. Er, the goal was to go quieter. But it's new, it's clean, it's installed some semblance of correctly, and I got 99% of the mess vacuumed up before I left the house for work (it'll be that 1%, a stray white particle of fluff under the kitchen table, that my wife will somehow see and then ask why I didn't clean up)... and I bet she won't notice the change until I point it out. One project down, several dozen to go.
[24 hrs later: She didn't notice the fan or the fluff, and my vanity got the best of me so I pointed upward after she finished her shower... We've secretly replaced your bathroom exhaust fan with Folgier's Crystals. Let's watch. Color her surprised and shocked. She agrees, the volume is still the same.]