Monday, September 24, 2007

Nocturne

I found this while clicking on links at a blog titled The Devil Queen, and wanted to share it with you. I'm amazed and struck nearly wordless by the beauty of this. Legal stuff: This video and the artwork contained therein are copyright 2006 by the artist, Warren Criswell. And my own little caveat: This video contains female nudity. Gorgeous, Rubenesque female nudity. (For some of you that may serve as more of a reason to watch it...)

Nocturne, by Warren Criswell

Although I'm capable of tearing down curtains, ripping up carpet, and paying for a new water line all by myself, I don't know how to embed video like Nate does, so you'll just have to click and see it elsewhere. Apologies.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rear Window

Emboldened by the success of the drapery departure from the front window of my living room, I decided last night that the side window needed to have its stage-y drapes torn down too. (Yes, it's a side window, meaning that the blog's title isn't quite accurate, but Jimmy Stewart didn't make a sequel called "Side Window" or I would've used that.) My laptop's refusing to recognize my crappy digital camera as a removable storage device, and I still can't find the cable for my nice digital camera, so for now you'll just have to imagine the side window curtains. They're just a smaller version of what was on the large front window. And because they're smaller, I foolishly thought the hardware attaching the cornice to the wall would be smaller. Wrong. The cornice was held up by three 4-inch brackets, three screws each. No disassembly with a mere touch of a finger this time, but it was still only about a ten-minute process.

Those of you who are squeamish about spiders, don't read this next bit: The area between the top of the window and the plank holding up the cornice was a veritable catacomb of dead spiders. Seriously creepy. "Cities of the Underworld" stuff here. I considered spotlighting it and leaving it up as a Halloween decoration, but it's just too gross. I had to put on rubber gloves that went to my elbows and wear a mask just to clean it up, and then I ran all the way outside to the trash can to throw away the dead spiders. Can't take a chance that some weird chemical combination in the indoor trash can might revive them. Ewwwww........

So, I photo-documented it all, and then came into the dining room to blog about it, because really, I have no life. And I realized, looking at the dining room drapes, that they might in fact be even worse than the ones in the living room, so I decided to take a photo of them, too, and get everyone's opinion. But the kitchen door that's always propped open was in the way of the photo, so I kicked the doorstop to the side and got my photos. (We're talking about nearly ten feet of a bay bump-out with three windows covered by the most ginormous cornice I've ever seen outside of the White House--it really must be seen to be believed.) Photos taken, I tried to open the kitchen door. It has those big double-swingy hinges on it, so it opens either way--or, it would in an ideal world. It was stuck. So I really shoved on it. Stuck. So I really, really shoved on it. And too late, I realized that pulling on it from the bottom edge might've been a better idea. Now we were trapped--myself, Little Dog & Big Cat on the dining room side; Big Dog and Little Cat on the kitchen side. Now is a good time to mention that I have no hallway in my house and that the only way to travel from one end of the house to the other is to navigate through each room on that side of the house. I had access to the living room, the vestibule, the front porch and my bedroom; the animals had the run of the kitchen, my son's bedroom, the bathroom and the back porch. There is a door between my bedroom and my son's, but because we don't use it he put his dresser in front of it, thereby cutting off my escape route. My son! He can save us! I'll just call him....with my....cell phone.....dammit-it's-in-the-kitchen. Big Dog! He's a trained rescue dog! I put my face to the crack under the door. "Ivan! Phone! Bring me the phone!" I heard scrabbling on the other side and the squeak of the pantry door opening. "No, Ivan! Phone!" Now I heard crunching. Buy the dog a new box of treats and his months of training are lost in what might be his only opportunity at unfettered gluttony. Why not just go next door to the nice neighbors and use their phone? Because I don't think a couple in their 80s is awake at 1:30 a.m. (Pretty much all my neighbors are in their 80s.) Think...think...ah, yes, the seldom-used landline. Dug out the 70s-era harvest gold rotary-dial phone from the sideboard (where it's kept for just such an emergency, of course) plugged it in to the only working phone jack in the entire house--what luck!--and had a conversation with my beloved only child which ended with his saying, "Are you f*ing kidding me?!" But he did come home and free us a mere twenty minutes later, at which point I discovered the digital camera issue, gave up on blogging at that particular moment, and went to bed. As my Grandma Rosie would say, "Ain't life grand?"

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Departed

This is the happy story of the quickest, easiest and cheapest home improvement project I've encountered since I bought this house. Those are the living room drapes I've been complaining about, the ones that remind me (along with the '80s chandelier you can see in the upper right corner) of an episode of "Dynasty". I never liked that show, and I've never liked those drapes, either. They're pale blue raw silk, the same yucky blah pale blue as the walls (paint over wallpaper) and the carpet (don't even ask, but if you must know, read this) and I'm sure they were expensive when they were hung there about 25 years ago or so. But back then they weren't faded and sun-rotted and full of cobwebs, and back then whoever had them installed (most likely Esther) probably really liked them. Sorry, Esther, but I don't like them. They're just not me. And the cats are tearing them up....which now that I think about it isn't altogether a bad thing.

But I mostly don't like them because they make that part of the living room look like a stage. That area is a little bump-out about seven feet long and about three-and-a-half feet deep. Just the size of a small nightclub stage. I keep expecting Carol Channing to climb through one of the windows (if they weren't painted shut, of course) and belt out "Hello, Dolly". So, the drapes had to go. I would have taken them down already, but I wasn't certain how they were fastened to the walls and ceiling and I thought removing them would be another one of those seemingly simple but actually horrifyingly complicated projects I've gotten myself into over the past six months. I had visions of big chunks of plaster crashing down around me when I ripped out whatever's holding the drapes to the ceiling. But tonight I got brave and climbed up on a ladder to investigate. Less than two minutes later they looked like this:

The side curtains were fastened with drapery hooks to a runner hidden up underneath that foo-foo valance. Of course there'd be a way to draw the stage curtains, wouldn't you know, in case of a dramatic performance in the living room someday. I just unhooked the things and let them fall to the floor--except that they didn't actually fall to the floor, because they were nailed to the walls. (Need I say it? Okay, okay, I will. Sucky previous owners!!) So I yanked on them while my animals supervised (I'm sure Little Cat could actually call 911 if I fell) until they puddled onto the floor in all their dusty Alexis Carrington glory, which made me think of Scarlett O'Hara, and then the famous Carol Burnett parody. Anyway...I briefly lost my courage and considered leaving the valance there, but a big part of the reason for tearing them down in the first place is to expose all the gorgeous (but in need of repainting) original trim around the stained glass windows. (The small border panes are stained glass. I'll have to add a daytime photo so they show.) So I got my trusty little crowbar, climbed the ladder again, and stuck my index finger into a small gap between header and ceiling. And...and...and the whole thing fell out of the ceiling!! Only four teeny little nail holes to show the contraption was ever there. The drapes have departed, stage right! And now the living room looks like this: Paranormal fans, note the eerie glowing orb above the windows. Could it be Esther, floating up next to the ceiling and tut-tutting over her fallen drapes? Or perhaps Whistling Man swooping in to take a look? (I think he'd say, "Huzzah!" over the trashed drapes. He definitely seems like a huzzah-ing kind of guy.) Or maybe it's just a piece of dust on the camera lens. Either way, the damned drapes are gone!






Monday, September 10, 2007

Waterworld

Yes, I know that "Waterworld" is the worst of the bad Kevin Costner movies. But then, this post has a pretty bad storyline, too. Read it and weep, Jeff, and know that I envy you your culprit....

Last Wednesday I got my water bill, and it was a whopper. One hundred six dollars--and eighty cents. (It looks so much worse written out like that.) Usually it's not until the dead of winter when I get the gas bill that I shriek and fall onto the porch floor in shock. So after I picked myself up I called the water company and had this conversation:

Me: "Peg? This is Jaynie. I think somethin's wrong with my water bill."
Peg: "Yeah, me and Henry were just talkin' about that. It's about three times what it usually is, and I don't see how you could use 26,000 gallons in a month."
Me: "So, whaddya think?"
Peg: "Henry?! C'mere a minute!"
Henry: "I think you prolly gotta leaky toilet. I knew you were workin' nights, so I din't wanna bother you. Now be a good time to come out?"
God, I love living in a small town!

So Henry came out, shut off the water to the house, and immediately noticed that the meter continued to spin. He also noticed that we've used 8,600 gallons of water in the ten or so days since he last read the meter. Now remember that it's just, me, my son, and our herd of animals living here. We don't have a pool or a water park in the yard, and I'm not taking in laundry for extra money. (Yet, anyway.) Then Henry dumped bright blue dye into both toilets and we waited to see if they leaked. Of course not. (By the way, I really, really, wanted to take pictures of that process, but thought better of it.) Henry shuffled his feet, cleared his throat a couple of times and looked at me with his basset-hound eyes, so I knew it was gonna be really bad news. It was--a leak between the house and the street, which was my cost to fix and which I briefly thought might possibly be covered by the year warranty on the house that the sucky previous owners had given me. Guess what? It's not covered! Of course not. After all, the warranty was provided by the sucky previous owners, who SUCK, so of course anything you might actually need help paying for is not covered by warranty. So Henry gave me the cell phone number of a guy in town who could fix the water line and I called him:

Me: "Rick? This is Jaynie. Henry gave me your number." And I gave him the story and asked if he could fix it.
Rick: "I'm over here by your Aunt Janet's house, hon. Can you wait about 15 minutes?"
God, I love living in a small town!

In less than 15 minutes we were standing in the front yard with my little blind dog while Rick explained how he was going to fix it and his assistant Charlie stood behind me to catch me when I fell over after hearing the estimate. Did you know that copper costs $5 a foot and that I would need nearly a hundred feet of it, and that labor to do something like this costs a LOT?! I did not, and literally staggered. I handed over my New York City trip money, my contact lens money, all of my Carpet Fund, and some of my savings. That hurt only a little less knowing that Charlie and Rick were going to do the work themselves, and they're what we call "easy on the eyes" and it's hot, and they had to take off their shirts at some point during the digging.....Wow. Oh, sorry, what was I saying? Anyway....

The water line's located smack in the middle of the side yard between my house and her sister, built in the same year on the same lot, with only about 12 feet between them, so I went to my neighbors and explained what was going on. They came out to stand in the side yard and shake their heads with me, and I helped Gwen dig up some bushes so they wouldn't get mashed by the trencher. (Gwen's the president of the Garden Club and her yard's gorgeous.) I was hoping that the neighbors wouldn't be cranky about the noise and the mess, when Gwen spoke up:
Gwen: "Where does 800 gallons of water a day go?"
Charlie: (grinning) "Look how nice and green your yard and all your flowers are." This said as he's hand-digging a big hole in my yard.
Gwen: (obviously delighted) "Oh, how nice!"
Floyd: (Gwen's husband) While you're down there, son, can you kill all the moles?"
God, I love living next to these people!