Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tickled to Death

I stand corrected.  The walls in my dining room are not 11 feet high.  They're 10'3".  I know this because last night I measured them for the wallpaper.  I didn't get nervous about hanging the wallpaper until I rolled it out on the kitchen floor to cut it to length and saw for the first time what a big sheet of wallpaper that is.

Gulp.  It covers the whole length of the kitchen floor.  And yes, the paper's weighted down with the door hinges.  Those things come in handy.

Three hours later, this is what the dining room looked like:

After months of looking at the plain plaster walls, I'm tickled to death to finally see wallpaper up there.

And I'm tickled to death that I got the switchplate cover to match the wallpaper pattern on the very first try.

I am not, however, tickled to death about this:

Nor this:

Not at all.  Not one little bit.  Someone is in Very Big Trouble.

Don't give me that sweet innocent look, Louis.  You're at the top of the suspect list.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Well Now...

I braved the cold and snow to go outside and measure over from the current back door to the edge of the old door opening.  Forty-one inches.  Then I came back inside, stomped the snow off my boots, and measured the inside wall.  Then I called Mare.

Me:  Hey, we're not gonna be able to move that back door to where it originally was after all.
Mare:  Why not?  It wouldn't be that hard.  You've got the doors, I've got a saw.
Me:  Yeah, but where the door originally was is now my bathroom.  The door opening would be directly across from the shower.
Mare:  Well now...that'd be an interesting feature, wouldn't it?

Now I Get It

Remember when I found this, the chopped-out stuff to the left of the back door?

And remember when I found this mess, which caused me to quit working on the back of the house?

And remember how I was all frustrated and mad and couldn't figure out why someone would do something like that? 

Well, last week when Mare was here he walked onto the back porch (which is what we still call it, though it hasn't really been a porch for 60 years) and said, "I see you got a lot more shingles off the house than the last time I was here.  Looks like your back door used to be a window, and the back door used to be further over to the left.  It wouldn't be a whole lot of trouble to take that door out and put it in the old door opening, and then buy a window from salvage to put over there where the window used to be.  Then your back door would be lined up with the sidewalk again."

Oh.  The door used to be a window.  Now I get it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Trash Man Cometh....Or Not

In my last post I hinted at a forthcoming rant about why only a third of the pee-pee carpet is gone, and I fully intended to save that rant for another day...say, Monday.  But I find myself with a bit of free time on my hands and I thought, "Why wait to rant til Monday when you can rant today?"

First a bit of background:  the second parlor is the only room in the house that still has carpet, which I refer to as "pee-pee carpet" because this is the room my little blind dog lived in before he went to his new home in Iowa.  (Where, by the way, he peed on a leg of the coffee table within ten minutes of his arrival.  "Hey, thanks for adopting me—mind if I pee in your living room?")  You may be able to surmise a big part of the reason why the dog now lives in Iowa.  And why the carpet needs to be removed.  Actually, the carpet was already destined for the trash bin before the dog started using it as one giant potty pad.  But I digress.  The top layer of carpet was installed 20-some years ago over a thick padding, which was stapled to some Berber-like carpet of probably 1970s vintage, which was glued to the hardwood floor.  Y'all have heard me gripe and complain aplenty about the black glue residue that's covering the hardwood floors in the rest of the house.  Did you catch that?  I said, the rest of the house.  There is no carpet in the rest of the house because it's already been ripped up and taken out to the trash over the past two years.  Keep that in mind.  Remember also that every room in my house is about 15' by 15', except for the entryway, which is about 6' by 9'.  My son ripped out the carpet in the front parlor in two giant pieces.  We ripped out the carpet in the dining room in two or three big pieces.  I removed the carpet in the little entryway in one big swath.  Got all that?  Okay, then hang on for the rant.

Three, or maybe four weeks ago I started tearing out the carpet in the second parlor.  I decided that since I'm all by myself here, I'd better tear it out in strips I can handle.  Fifteen by fifteen room...yeah, three big pieces oughta do it.  I tore up the first layer of carpet, rolled it up, and wrapped duct tape around it to hold it together.  I tore up the padding and put it in trash bags.  I tore up the bottom layer of carpet, rolled it up, and wrapped duct tape around it.  Then I carried the whole shebang out to the trash.  The bags went in the bin and the two pieces of rolled-up carpet went in the alley next to the trash bin.  Three (or maybe four) weeks later I noted that one roll of carpet was still out in the alley.  I called the trash company to complain.  This conversation took place:

Trash Lady:  How long is the carpet?
Me:  I don't know, it's all rolled up.  Like 15 feet.
TL:  No, I mean, how long is it?
Me:  You mean, how wide is it?  I'd say 5 feet or so.
TL:  Oh.  Then that's why they didn't pick it up.  It's too long.  It has to be 4 feet long or less.
Me:  What?!  Why?
TL:  It's just the rules.  You should've gotten a list of the rules when you moved.
Me:  Well, I didn't.  I just have the joy of finding these things out as I go along.
TL:  Yeah, cut it shorter and we'll pick it up.  And it must be tied with string or tape.  Otherwise you can rent a dumpster.
Me:  I don't want to rent a dumpster.  I want you to pick up my carpet the way you always have for the past two years without all this hassle.
TL:  Well, if they picked it up before they shouldn't have.

And that was the end of that.  No amount of explanation swayed her.  She was utterly unconvinced that a roll of carpet exceeding 4 feet in width had ever been picked up at my house or at anyone else's house.  She did not believe me when I told her that I'd dragged it out to the alley without so much as an inch of tape or string on it and it had been picked up.  She scoffed when I told her that one bright morning the trash haulers had picked up at least six rolls of carpet from my house.  Impossible, she said.  Only one roll at a time.  Cut the roll to four feet or less, she said.  Make sure you tape or tie it.  Apparently the trash company does not negotiate.  So I went outside, hopping mad, in the rain mind you, to measure the roll of carpet.  Four feet five inches.  Rats!  I folded it in half.  And as I was wrestling the duct tape around the folded-in-half roll of carpet, I saw it.  The other roll of carpet.  The carpet I'd just told her had been picked up by the trash man last week.  There it was, tucked neatly between my neighbor's garage and another neighbor's fence.  What the Sam Hill?!  How did it get there?  Surely the neighbors don't intend to use it.  Did the neighbors put it there?  Did the trash man hide it?  Was it dragged there by coyotes? 

Now folks, I am not good at math, but I figure the remaining carpet in the second parlor is about 12 feet wide.  That means I'll have to cut it into at least three strips to meet the trash company's criteria.  There are two layers of carpet.  That would be 6 rolls of carpet if I roll them separately, or 3 rolls if I manage to roll the two layers of carpet together somehow.  If they pick up only one roll a week....well, y'all can figure out that it will take some time to get rid of all the carpet from my second parlor.  I think this is some scheme to make people rent a dumpster.  There's no place for a dumpster on my property.  If I put it out in the alley, my neighbor won't be able to park his truck behind his house.  Not to mention that I'm cheap and I don't want to spend the money for a dumpster.  Darnit.

In a snit, I called White Trash Bob.  He listened to me rant and when I paused for breath, he said, "I find that if I put a six-pack of beer out there on top of the trash, they'll pick up anything."  Hey, it's worth a try...

The List, Reviewed

Back in January I made a list of projects I wanted to complete by the end of the year.  It was my first-ever-in-my-whole-life list, and I made it hoping that putting my goals in writing would help me stick to them.  With less than a week left in this year, I thought it might be a good time to review The List and see how I did:

Finish painting the exterior of the house.  Except for two porch windows and an errant piece of trim here and there, it's done.  Whoo-hoo!

Re-roof the carport.  But I do have a plan.  I'm gonna strip off what's left of the rotted roof and put up fiberglass panels.  Here's hoping the ceiling joists of the carport are in good shape.  That project will have to wait until spring.

Tear up the rest of the carpet in the house.  Does almost count?  Only the pee-pee carpet remains, and a third of that is gone.  Why only a third of it is gone is a rant for another post...

Scrape the rest of the painted-over wallpaper off the entryway and front parlor walls.  Another no.  It's a tedious job that I pick at here and there but can't stick with long enough to get finished.

New flooring in the master bath.  Yep. the process of removing the old carpet and linoleum, I found some water damage to the floor between the tub and the toilet.  So, this flooring is only temporary.

Paper the dining room.  Um, no again.  This is the Next Big Thing to be done. 

Fix the front porch.  Boy, did we!  Thanks to a lot of help from Mare, this one got done, and better than I imagined.

Tear down the backyard shed.  Done—thanks to a stranger who wandered up to the front door and asked if he could have the shed.  I like it when something gets crossed off the list with no effort by me.

So, half the things on my list were completed this year.  But half the things were not completed.  Oh.  Fifty percent is an F, isn't it?  But the two biggest projects on the list did get finished.  That ought to count for something.  A greater weight in the grade, you know.  And a bunch of other stuff got done too:  the kitchen, which wasn't even on the list; WTB and I did a small landscaping project, (which I just realized I never took pictures of), there are no more holes in the outside of the house... 

But let's get back to the purpose of The List in the first place.  It was supposed to keep me focused.  Eyes on the prize and all that.  Did it?  Nah.  I ran amok and did whatever I darn well wanted all year, just like every year.  And that's not all bad.  I accomplished a heckuva lot this year.  I will next year, too.  But next year, there will be no list.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.
~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Help Wanted

I need some help.  Advice really.  It's a two-part problem.

Part One:  I have this hare-brained idea that I could get the paint off the transom window hardware if I put it in my bathtub (which is nasty and will be replaced within the next calendar year...I think) and pour boiling water over it.  My tub gets the most use as a wallpaper trough and a place for the kitties to nap, and only rarely for its intended purpose.  Do y'all think this will work?

Part Two:  How in the Sam Hill do I get the transom window hardware off the window?  Or any other hardware, for that matter?  It just occurred to me that I'd like to strip the window latches and the thumb lifts on the other windows in the house, too.  There's so much paint blobbed on it that it's almost impossible to see the screws.  I tried stripper, which worked okay but not well enough to be able to remove the hardware.  I tried a heat gun, which bubbled up the paint on the trim but did nothing else—except make me worry all night that a dust bunnie behind the trim was smoldering and my house was gonna catch fire. 

Part Two really ought to be Part One, now that I think about it...Oh well.   And thanks in advance, because I just know someone will know the answers to these questions!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Soup's On

Paula Deen, it ain't.  Eww. 

Clockwise from left:  Before, during, and almost done.

Hit the high spots so I could show y'all the detail that popped out right away.

After ten minutes of scraping on it with a little putty knife and a dull five-in-one tool.


So how long did it take?  Five or six hours of soaking in the Crock-Pot. (I didn't pay any attention to what time it was when I put 'em in there.)   Ten minutes per set of hinges to get the worst of it off, and another 20 minutes or so to get the paint out of the little nooks and crannies.

And the recipe?  Plain water.  Probably six hours on low heat, which may or not be the same as three hours on high heat.  Thirty minutes or so (per set of hinges) of picking at the paint with a small flexible putty knife and a very dull five-in-one tool.  Picking time includes re-heating the hinges in the Crock-Pot for a minute or so when they cooled off.   (It seemed to be easier to peel off warm paint.)  Your time may vary, especially if you aren't listening to "Hair Nation" on XM, which causes you to periodically use the five-in-one tool as a mic when a really cool song comes on.  C'mon now, you know you've belted out the lyrics to Bon Jovi's "Livin' On A Prayer" a time or two yourself.

Please take note that I got almost every little speck of paint off of four sets of hinges in less time than it took me to strip that one itty-bitty little operator rod knob.  My heartfelt thanks to Kate, Karen Anne and Marley for teaching me that boiling water removes 50 years of paint and to Christine, who suggested the Crock-Pot. 

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Mare Show (Preview)

Mare came over this morning, just as he promised.  He was even right on time.  And, he's clean-shaven and has a new haircut.   But his sense of humor is the same:

"You cut your hair off!" I said when he walked through the door.
"No I didn't," he replied.
"You had a ponytail last time I saw you," I insisted.
"Yeah," he grinned, "but I didn't cut it off.  I paid someone else to do it."

We took the other half of the door (gosh, I hate saying that) off the frame, Mare took the hinges off both halves, and we carried the door(s) halfway out to his car before something occurred to us:  That door will be twice as wide when it makes its return trip.  It won't fit in the car.  "One whole door might fit," Mare speculated, "but more than one door won't.  That's a lot of trips between here and Warsaw to fix seven doors."  We carried the door halves back into the dining room and decided that he'll put the doors together at my house.  Mare thinks he has enough clamps to do at least two, maybe three, at a time.  With the furniture pushed back against the walls in the front parlor, we'll have plenty of room.  (This time, though, I'm rolling up the area rug in there—remember when he cut my kitchen countertops on the parlor rug instead of taking them outside?)

And you know it wouldn't be a day with Mare if we didn't have at least one of those Tracy-Hepburn conversations that makes me smack my forehead and groan.

Me:  "So what's your plan to fix 'em?"  
Mare:  "I'm gonna biscuit the hell out of 'em!"
Me:  "Do you have a biscuit cutter?"
Mare:  "Sure, it belonged to my grandma."
Me:  "What? Why would your grandma have—"
Mare:  [laughing]  " mean that kind of a biscuit cutter!  Yeah, I got one of those, too."

He's coming back in a couple of weeks with his biscuit cutter (presumably not his grandma's), some clamps and some glue.  This oughta be fun.

And those hinges we took off the doors?  They've been boiling in the crockpot all afternoon.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Hinge Boiler

"Darnit!" my mom said, jerking her hand away suddenly from the Crock Pot she'd been spooning meatballs out of. "That does it--I'm sellin this thing on a yard sale!"

"What thing?" I asked. "You mean the Crock Pot?" Now, y'all know what I was thinkin....

"Yes! It's got that stupid metal rim at the top of it and I burn myself on it every time."

"You really don't want it anymore? Seriously?" The wheels were turnin in my little head but I had to be sure it really was destined for the yard sale before I appropriated it. My mom ranted about how it was pretty but not worth a darn because it got too hot. Yep, yard sale bound.

"But what do you want it for?" she asked. "You already have a nice Crock Pot."

"Well actually..." I grinned. "If you wanna know the truth I was gonna use it to boil the paint off them steeple hinges on my doors."

She laughed. "Oh Lordy! Well take it then."

I already have one half-door out on the dining room floor with stripper on the hinges so I can get em off the door.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Door Plan

So as I'm painting the second parlor and the trim in the dining room, it occurs to me that I'd better do something about the doors. You know, the doors that some dolt sawed in half length-wise. The doors that are almost certainly original to the house. I cannot comprehend why someone would do that...but I've ranted about that plenty of times before, so I'll spare you another one. I do not like their current sawed-in-half state. As I see it, that leaves me with three choices: learn to live with the stupid sawed doors (and paint them along with the trim), try to fix the doors, or replace them. I myself would have no idea how to fix them. I don't think Gorilla Glue's gonna do it, and that's about the extent of my carpentry skills. Fortunately for me, I know Mare. And Mare has this idea that he might be able to fix the doors. I don't remember his plan, exactly, but I do remember the warning he gave me: "And if I fix 'em, you can't go gettin' all pissed off and slam the doors because they might break in half again." This man knows me too well...  Actually, I think he said something about biscuits and a couple thin pieces of wood, and then a wider piece of wood along the bottom. The doors are about two inches shorter than they need to be, to accommodate the three layers of carpet that used to be on the floor. (That's an old photo; the carpet's gone from the front parlor and so is a lot of that painted-over wallpaper.) This is actually an advantage, maybe, in fixing the doors. Mare thinks that putting a strip of wood along the bottom edge of the door might make it stronger.

Or maybe it won't work at all, and then I'll spend a lot of time in the basement of the Missouri River Antique Company with a yardstick, sorting through the old doors Sue has stored down there. While I'm there, I'll ask her if she has any old doorknobs, plates and latches. The marks of the original hardware can still be seen on the doors, but the hardware's long gone. I have this recurring dream that I'll find a big box of the door hardware someplace in the house, but after living here for three years without a sign of 'em, I'm beginning to think that's not gonna happen. I did have both my son and the insulation guy conduct a thorough search of the attic, just in case, but they didn't find anything.  What I can see of the basement crawlspace reveals nothing, either. Darnit. There are ghosts of the latches, too, badly filled in with wood putty or something, sometimes painted over and sometimes not, and in one case the original latch is still there. We can tell which way the doors were hung originally.

There is one bit of happy news: whoever sawed the doors in half did keep the original steeple hinges, although they're oddly re-distributed among the seven doors. Some doors (like in the front parlor) have no steeple hinges at all, and other doors have two sets of them. Mare and I held our breath as we walked through the house counting sets of steeple hinges. Seven. All of them are still here. Covered with paint and certainly candidates for the boiling treatment y'all so kindly told me about, but here. Amazing. I can't wait to get the paint off of 'em and see what they look like.

So that's the plan.  I'm not sure when Mare will be able to take one of the doors or when he'll get it fixed.  Heck, I don't even know if the door can be fixed, but if anyone can do it, it's Mare.  It's definitely worth a try, in my opinion.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Favorite Things

Random favorite things that I wanna share...

A text message from my daughter in law that says, "Thank you for the pretty Christmas card.  It looks just like the one G-ma sent me."  A call to my mom confirmed that, yes, we had each (separately) bought Sarah exactly the same Hallmark card. 

My favorite soldier, my son's best friend Brian.  He's stationed in Afghanistan until October 2010, but he'll be home in May for two weeks, God willing.  Through the magic of the interwebs I get to chat with him on Facebook at least once a week.  If y'all are so inclined, could you add him to your prayer list?  The last time I put a pic of Brian on this blog was back in May, when he the best man at my son's wedding.  How much things change in six months...

You may have read this story in my comments, but it's so funny I have to share it here.  My friend Troy came home the other night to a kitchen that smelled like chicken soup...but nothing was cooking.  A short investigation discovered that one of his cats had broken into the cupboard and sunk its teeth into a box of chicken stock, which leaked out slowly all over the pantry.  He figured out which cat it was when the culprit sidled up to him to be petted and he smelled chicken broth on its fur.  It's only funny cause it didn't happen to me.

The cutest Caesar I've ever seen!  My friend Michelle's son portrayed the great ruler in a school play, but only after asking his teacher gravely, "He's not the king that killed the babies, right?  Cause if he is, I don't wanna be him."  Assured that the baby-killing king was Herod, Ben went on with the show.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Operator Rod Knob, You Say?

Last night I had an idea:  Wouldn't it be nice to strip the layers of paint off the transom window hardware so that it shows up against the trim?  I've seen reproduction transom hardware in brass and thought I just might have something like that under the paint.   I decided early on, though, that if the paint didn't come off easily or if the metal underneath didn't look pretty that I was going to abandon this little project.   After more than a year of feeling chained to the house while I was tearing off shingles and painting the exterior, I have limited patience and a short attention span.  The paint did not come off easily.  What metal showed through here and there looked like steel or iron, so it's not pretty anyway.  Abandon project!  Abandon project! 

But wait...check out that little knob that tightens against the operator rod to hold the window open...under that blobby paint there might be something...

So I took the knob off the operator rod and soaked it in Goo Gone for half an hour.  Goo Gone is yucky stuff.  It smells like a mixture of gasoline, ethyl alcohol, and nail polish remover.  If you get it in a small cut on your finger you will almost pee your pants from the pain before you can run to the sink and wash it off.  I'm just sayin'.  Thirty minutes later, with rubber gloves and a mask on, I fished the knob out of the Goo Gone and scrubbed on it with a toothbrush.  (The only toothbrush I have, so remind me to go buy another one.  Soon.)  Almost no paint came off.  This is the first time ever that Goo Gone has failed me.  So I scrubbed some more, and put the knob back in the stuff, and left it there for another 30 minutes.  I repeated this process six more times.  Somewhere in there I went to my Mom's house and borrowed her nutmeat picker thingy so I could scritch and scratch paint out of the little nooks and crannies of the knob.  (And please don't tell her I used it for that, okay?)  Three hours or so later, the blobby little knob looked like this:

Is that not the most beautiful little operator rod knob you've ever seen?!  (Okay, so maybe it's the only little operator rod knob you've ever seen...) Solid brass.  Gorgeous.  Kudos to Mrs. Kelly for picking it out.  She could have chosen something that looks kind of like a modern-day binder clip, which was much more common then, but she chose something beautiful instead.  Bless her heart.  Now, standby for rant in  Who in their right freaking mind paints over something like this?!  Someone looked at this beautiful workmanship and thought, "I believe I'll paint over it with lead paint that's nearly impossible to remove."  Then some other idiot came along after them and said, "I think I'll further obliterate the detail on that little knob by doing a really crappy job of painting."  And after that, some color-blind fool painted it turquoise, so you almost can't blame whoever put the final coat of paint on it.  Seriously?!?!  Who does something like that?!  Oh yeah, sucky previous owners, that's who.  (And the worst part is, the first coat of paint at least was probably put on there by Mrs. Kelly's son Aub, who turned the house into two apartments and owned it until 1951.)  As my friend Michelle says, "Jeez Louise!"

But it's all better now.  There are six more knobs just like this on the other transom windows, and I'll strip the paint off them, too, as I go along.

Oh, and I have one more photo.  This one's for Karen Anne:

Thirteen double rolls of paper.  It's mocking me.  I distinctly heard it say, "The dining room's already kicking your hiney and you haven't even started papering!"  Then it laughed.  Or maybe I just hallucinated that after inhaling Goo Gone fumes for three hours.

Monday, December 14, 2009

They're Heeeerrrre....

Remember that scene from "Poltergeist" where the little girl turns to her parents and says, "They're heeeerrre" after the creepy things come out of the tv?  That was the first thing that came to mind yesterday afternoon when I saw the big box of wallpaper rolls on the front porch.  (In fact, I was gonna use that clip in this post, but after I watched it I remembered how much scary movies give me the heebie-jeebies and now I'm too scared to use it.)  Anyway, the wallpaper's here.  Yep, already.  Good thing I didn't waste $127 on three-day shipping since it took, um, three days to get here with free ground shipping.  All thirteen double rolls of it.  That's a lot of wallpaper.  But what's about as scary as "Poltergeist" is the thought that I didn't order enough wallpaper.  Never mind that I used the wallpaper calculator and didn't subtract for the three windows and three doorways, I'm still scared. 

The big box of wallpaper is sitting in the middle of the dining room floor like an obelisk.  Waiting.  Why is the wallpaper waiting?  Because one of my friends pointed out to me that it sure would be easier to paint the trim in the dining room before I put up the paper.  Oh.  Good idea.  So I spent almost an hour at Lowe's picking out a shade of cream paint that goes with the wallpaper.  Lyndhurst Estate Cream, which also goes with the color I'm painting the second parlor, and will eventually, someday, go with whatever paint or wallpaper I pick out for the entryway and the front parlor.  Then I came home and washed down the trim in the dining room.  (Mrs. Kelly, immaculate housekeeper that she was, would not be happy that this is only the second time I've done that since I moved in.)  And now, I'm gonna go paint me some trim.  Photos to follow.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Few of my Favorite Things

This Christmas season, I thought I'd share with y'all a few of my favorite this scene from "It's A Wonderful Life". And it even has a cool old house in it!

Friday, December 11, 2009

As God As My Witness

This afternoon I briefly turned into Scarlett O'Hara. When I stepped out of the hot shower and into my cold bathroom a Scarlett-ness came over me. I lost it a little bit. I pounded my fists against the bathroom wall and shouted, "As God as my witness, I'll never be cold again!" I think I scared the cats.

My bathroom is unheated. So it's cold. Really cold. Miserably cold. Cold as in, no HVAC whatsoever. Well...that's not completely true. There is a wall heater the size of a fridge which uses natural gas. I've been advised by a house inspector and an HVAC guy not to use it. The thing scares me. So I don't use it. And the bathroom is cold. Did I mention that?

It was less cold last winter. That was before I cut a cat door in the kitchen door and left the kitchen door shut all the time. Now the rest of the house is warmer, but the bathroom and the back porch are colder. And I can't take it anymore. I don't know what I'm gonna do, but "As God as my witness, I'll never be cold again!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Missed A Spot

"Hey Momma, I think you missed a spot."

It's just the first coat of paint and it was still wet when this photo was taken, but I'm grateful the foreman inspects my work so carefully as I go along. 
(Note Mean Little Marie in the lower center of the photo as well.
 Is it just me or is she looking at Louis as if she wants to eat him?)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

In The Meantime

So I did it.  I took a deep breath and clicked the button and bought—gulp—26 rolls of wallpaper.  I've never bought that much wallpaper in my life...every wallpaper order I've ever placed, combined, does not equal 26 rolls of wallpaper.  But then, I've never papered a 15' by 15' room with a bay and 11' ceilings before.  Buying that much of anything makes me nervous.  Hang on, I have to go take a Tagamet and wash it down with a nice crisp white wine....

Okay, I feel better. 

The wallpaper will take a little while to get here, since I chose free ground shipping instead of three-day shipping for $127.  (Made the right decision there, huh?)  In the meantime, I decided to eradicate the pee-pee carpet in the second parlor.  So far I've stripped a five-foot-wide swath of the junk off the floor, ripped up the pad underneath, torn up the glued-down carpet under that, and scraped the carpet backing off the floor.  I am very sorry to say that the floor in the second parlor looks black and icky like the floors in the rest of the house.  This is the last room in the house that still has carpet, so the end is in sight.  Only two more five-foot-wide swaths to tear up.  (Every room in my house is about 15' x 15'.  Those Victorians and their love of symmetry.)  To motivate me to keep ripping away at the carpet, I bought paint for the second parlor.  It's Valspar's Praline Cake, and if you've ever eaten a praline (the candy, I didn't even know it could be cake) it's exactly that color.  My idea is to make the second parlor sort of manly.  I have photos of my Uncle Walter from World War I and my dad from World War II, a shadow box of the ribbons and insignia from my dad's Army uniform, and a couple of reproduction maps and posters that I think will all go together nicely.  I also have a little desk and some bookshelves to put in there.  Now all I need are a couple of big, overstuffed chairs, like the ones they have at Barnes & Noble, and a chunky table to go between 'em.  Better hit the Salvation Army for those.  Someday.  In the meantime, I'll be right here ripping up carpet and painting and waiting on the gigantic wallpaper order to get here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Where We Need To Be

In a small town, everybody knows everybody.  But there are all different kinds of knowing.  I knew Frankie because we went to high school together and occasionally he did my hair.   But my bestie Sharon, she really knew Frankie.  They called each other almost every day, shared bad times and good times together, went out for breakfast after the bars closed, and had a thousand inside jokes from twenty-some years of friendship.  So when Sharon told me last Sunday that Frankie had had a major stroke and was not expected to live, I hurt more for Sharon than for myself.  I remember all too well what it's like to lose your best guy friend.  We went out to supper Sunday night and ate nachos together teary-eyed while I said the only thing I could think to say:  "Girl, I know just how you feel."  Frankie lingered between life and death for a couple of days while our hopes raised and fell and we felt increasingly helpless.  I ought to do something, I thought, something to make her feel better.  On the way to Taco Night Tuesday evening I suddenly turned my car around and called Sharon.

"Let's go over to the Catholic Church and light a candle for Frankie," I said.

"We're not Catholic, though," she said, "but Frankie is.  Let's go."

So I picked her up and us two Protestants tiptoed into the Catholic Church.  I had this idea that we'd go in there, light a candle for him, say a quick prayer, and be gone.  But God and Father Hansen had other plans for us.  We didn't notice until we were in the door that the priest was sitting alone in the back of the church.

"Um, hi," I said.  "We have a friend who is, um, dying and we thought we might light a candle for him.  Is that okay?  We're not Catholic and I don't really know what the rules are."

He smiled kindly.  "There are no 'rules' against a Protestant lighting a candle for a friend.  Come down to the front of the church and I'll help you."  His long black robes made a soft shushing sound as he walked us to the front of the church.  "Is there truly no hope?" he asked.  Sharon explained sadly that there was not, and then he said the Prayer of Saint Joseph for us, explaining that Joseph is the saint of a happy death.  As we repeated "Pray for him" after each of the Father's intonations, I saw some of the worry and fear go out of Sharon's face.  "Thank you very much for that, Father," she said.  On the way out of the church, Father Hansen paused us at the door.  "Do you know what the Last Rites are?" he asked.  We did not.  He beckoned us back into the Church and explained them to us, reading a part of them as he did so.  Again, Sharon and I thanked him.  He assured us we could come again whenever we wanted to pray with him.

We walked out to my car and, out of habit, checked our cell phones.  Both of us had the same text message from a friend:  "Frankie passed at 6:36 p.m. tonight," it read.  Our eyes met.  At 6:36 p.m. we were saying the Prayer of St. Joseph with the priest.  Sharon said softly, "God puts us where we need to be."  That He does, indeed.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dining Room Decision

After a year of scouring the internet for the perfect (and affordable) wallpaper for my dining room, I've finally found it.  This is the color:

And this is a photo of the overall pattern:

I like it.  A lot.  The dining room is about 15'x15' with 11-foot ceilings, so I think it can handle that large overall pattern.  And because it's tone-on-tone, I don't think I'll get tired of it.  That's a major consideration because, due to the cost and the high PITA factor of wallpapering, I won't be doing it again anytime soon.  Now I just have to pack up the hundred or so knick-knacks in my china cabinet so I can pull it out from the wall, finish tearing off the shards of wallpaper left behind the china cabinet and the buffet, and order the wallpaper.  Oh yeah, and work up the courage to tackle this project...