Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Best Idea

Of all my many faults, the one that causes me the most trouble in life is this:  I overlook the obvious.  Also known in some circles as "can't see the forest for the trees".  I am oftentimes so focused on the future, my next big idea, whatever might be just around the corner, that I completely miss an obvious solution to a nagging problem. 

Take for example the bathrooms in my house.  I've previously explained what I want to do here and here and channeled Scarlett O'Hara here, but what it comes down to is this:  Both bathrooms are varying degrees of ugly, one has no heat, and I have this big and expensive idea to fix all that.  And because I've made that decision and am saving up the money for it, I am blind to any other possibility.  Until yesterday, that is.  Yesterday I noticed that September 22nd is the first day of Fall and so, since Winter follows Fall, I began my yearly tirade about how I hate cold weather and taking showers in a freezing-cold bathroom and paying high gas bills and raking leaves from trees that aren't even mine and—

And the Sgt. Major interrupted me to ask, "Well why don't you just put in a hand-held shower in that bathroom next to your bedroom?"

I stopped mid-rant.  Why, indeed.  There's a tub in there, that bathroom will be warm in winter, and it's a cheap temporary solution.  We de-camped from our usual spot on the front porch and went to Wal-Mart.  Fifty bucks and 45 minutes later, I'd attached a hand-held shower to the former location of the tub spout and he'd hung a shower curtain from a tension rod. 

It's the best idea I never had.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not My Floor

Joey showed me some pictures of a floor his company recently did.  Not my floor.  Heck, no. I want to make that clear, right from the start, that this is not my floor.  This is a Very Expensive Floor.  Also, a Very Beautiful Floor.  When I saw it, I just had to share it with you.

It started out like this:

The floor is red oak, Brazilian tiger wood, and—get this—brass inlays.  Joe said those brass inlays were a real pain in the hiney to cut. 

Here's the floor after they finished laying it all out:

See the brass strips over on the right side of the photo? 
Here's a closer (if a bit blurry) photo of the brass inlays.
Yowza.  These people have skills.

And just feast your eyes on the finished floor:
Wow.  Just WOW.  That's a seriously beautiful floor.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fail

I have failed.  Twice.  And paint has failed once.  The paint fail is partly my fail as well.  But I'm getting ahead of myself here.  First things first.

First, I've failed at regular updates to my blog for the past four weeks or so.  There's a reason for that...but I'm not quite ready to share that reason just yet.  I apologize to my regular readers.  Things should be back to normal (which is to say, the usual chaos) sometime in mid-October.  More later.

Second, the paint is failing on the east side of my house.  Sadly, this was pointed out to me by my beloved neighbor Floyd because I haven't been home enough in the past month to have noticed.  I blamed myself for the paint fail until White Trash Bob pointed out that without scraping the entire house down to bare wood before painting, this was bound to happen.  "It's no fault of yours," he told me, "old houses just do that."  That made me feel a bit better.  What made me feel even better is that WTB showed me how to stop the paint peel using painter's caulk.  Which brings me to my third fail...

Third, I failed to save the photos I took last week of the east side of the house and the first few swipes of caulk across it.  I deleted them from the camera's memory card in order to take a few photos of the fire at the local lumberyard.  So I can't show you my initial efforts to fix the east side of the house.  But I can show you this: 

That's some Lexington firefighters putting water on a hot spot at the roof line after they got a stop on the main fire.  Fortunately for the lumberyard and its customers, the fire was contained to the rear third of the office building, most of the damage is to the exterior (the interior damage is mostly from water, not fire), and no one was injured.

I will make amends for my failures, both with my house and my readers, in the very near future.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Aunt Babe

I did not want to have to tell you this, and so I put it off.  But now, given a little space from the loss, I can write about it.

Evelyn Marie Fisher, my great-aunt and the matriarch of our large family, known affectionately among us as "Babe", passed away September 1st.  She was 92.  Six weeks ago we learned, somewhat accidentally, that she had cancer but we chose not to tell her.  Instead, my cousins brought her home from the hospital to her little house where we've had so many family gatherings, and surrounded her with love and light until she went to be with the angels.  Father Gerry was called in to give Aunt Babe the Last Rites.  While he was there, my cousin Cheryl said, "It's okay, Mama, you can go home to Daddy now."  My auntie replied with typical aplomb, "Why?  I'm not dying today."  And, good as her word as always, she hung on for two more days.  I think she did so just to prove the priest wrong.  The love of being right is a trait that runs deep among the women in my family.

I adored her.  She was unfailingly supportive of me.  When I announced my engagement several years ago she called me and said, "I'm so happy for you, honey!  You should be married.  You'll be so happy."  Six months later when I broke that engagement she called me to say, "Bah!  Who needs a husband?  Marriage is not all it's cracked up to be."  She and my grandmother (her sister) always took my side in my frequent arguments with my younger brother, and it is an eternal mystery to me why he ever bothered to try to rat me out to either of them.  Breaking up a fistfight between my younger brother and I on her side porch one summer when I was about 8, she famously referred to him as "that heifer", forever earning my absolute loyalty and admiration.  It was my Aunt Babe who taught me that any unkind remark about someone can be made less terrible by adding "bless her heart" to the end of it, that if you burn a cake you can just saw the bottom off of it and serve it anyway with lots of frosting, that swear words should be whispered, and that the best cure for any heartbreak is a good cry and a talk with the women who love you.

She guided us all with humor, grace, and fierce strength.  Our lives are the richer for having known her and we are now poorer in her absence.  "Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Twelve Thousand Dollars

"Hey, Joe," I typed in Facebook chat, "I had a dream about you the other night."

Oops.  Too late, I realized he might take that the wrong way.

"Oh really??  Good or bad??" he asked.  I could practically hear the leer in his typing.

"Horrible," I told him.

See, my friend Joe owns a hardwood floor business and I am in need of his skills.  Those glue-encrusted floors in the entryway, two parlors, dining room and bedroom have got to go.  The trouble is, when the floors go so will a huge chunk of my money.  That's where the dream about Joe comes in.  I've been meaning to call the man to get an estimate, but every time I reach for the phone my hands start to shake and my mouth goes dry.  This is less a reaction to Joe himself than it is to the cost of refinishing floors.  Spending lots of money scares me.  So I've put off calling him. 

But now, a couple of times a week, I have a recurring nightmare about Joe.  In it, he comes over to take a look at the floors.  He walks through the house somberly shaking his head and taking notes.  In the nightmare, this seems to take hours.  Finally, he turns to me and says that he has an estimate for me.

"Nine thousand dollars," he says.

I scream.

And then I wake up.  And worry that it's not really a nightmare, but a premonition. 

So I hit Joe up on chat the other night, confessed my nightmare, and then asked, "It won't really be $9K, right?"

"No way," he replied.

"Oh good," I answered.

And then he typed, "More like 12 thousand dollars."

Such good friends I have.