Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sometimes It's Nice

Sometimes it's nice to help out someone else with their house....but sometimes, it's even nicer not to help at all, and instead just stand back and watch the work that follows the debate.  And snap a photo, of course. 
This one was taken at my son's house the other morning while the menfolk installed a new front door for Dylan and Sarah.  The two men I love most in the world are in this photo:  that's my son, Dylan, fartherest (is that a word?) from the door and to his left, my boyfriend Allen.  The other two guys in the photo are Allen's brother Larry on the far right and their Uncle Clarence in the checked shirt. 

Four men.  One door.  No effort on my part.  Sometimes it's nice.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Odds & Ends

Super Bowl Sunday I was the designated driver for New Boyfriend and his friends.  (And let me clarify that my loathing of football is still intact; therefore, I watched "Love, Actually" at my house for the tenth time while the boys watched the stupid game at someone else's house.)  I have a Kia Soul, a car known as The Brave Little Toaster among my friends and which was not designed to haul around two large guys in the back seat.  (NB, an average-sized fellow, fits into the front passenger seat quite nicely.)  As the guys wedged themselves into the Toaster, one of them grumbled, "Jeez, Jaynie, do you drive this thing or live in it?"  The back seat was nearly covered with books, some tools, clothes, plastic containers that once held leftovers, and a couple pairs of boots.  And a piece of backsplash.

Yes, backsplash.  From the kitchen reno in March of--gulp--2009.  I had miscut a piece of backsplash and bought a new piece way back then...and it's been on the back seat of the Toaster ever since.  Which means that there was, until yesterday, a big chunk of kitchen wall behind the stove with no backsplash.

Scotty shamed me into action.  Yesterday--hey, he shamed me into action but didn't cure me of procrastination!--I dragged all the junk out of the Toaster with the help of my (now-retired) Wingman Randy.  Then I measured, cut, and hung the new piece of backsplash.  We dug further and found more house-related things in the back seat of the Toaster:  the last four cabinet pulls for the kitchen cabinets, my wrecker bar that I'd long thought to be left behind on the roof of the house, the paint chip from when I matched paint to front parlor wallpaper, and two boxes of Keurig K-cups. 

The cabinet pulls are now on the cabinet doors.  The wrecker bar is in the bottom of the EMS box that I snagged from work in a surplus property giveaway, and my other tools and nails and sandpaper and the like are all neatly organized in the EMS-box-turned-toolbox.  (I should mention that it's been sitting empty in my spare bedroom for four years.)  The paint chip was taken to Wal-Mart and I brought a gallon of Dutch Boy paint home.  Only the K-cups are still not in their proper place, but today I am going to clean out the kitchen pantry.  Oh yes, I am.

It feels good to have all those little odds and ends taken care of...not to mention that the Brave Little Toaster is now also the Clean Little Toaster, at least on the inside.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

No New News

Nothin new here.  The scraping of painted-over wallpaper in the front parlor continues, now at a breakneck pace.  Really.  New Boyfriend's sister loaned me her steamer, so now I can continue using one while waiting for the other to warm up.  Awesome. 

No cool new photos to show you, either.  I mean, really, how many times can I post pics of bare plaster walls?  It'd be like the 1970s when your Aunt Mamie invited you over to her house to see slides of her trip to Wyoming...the same thing over and over and over....When I start putting up the new paper, or when White Trash Bob and I start putting up the picture rail, then I'll have some photos to post.  Happily, I'm slightly past the halfway point in terms of wall area, but not in time because the border takes forever to scrape off.  I think it must be attached with some sort of waterproof glue, and it's on top of the 1930s-or-so border, which is on top of the 1930s-or-so wallpaper, so I'm using a utility knife to score through all three layers of paper.  Given my history with ladders and utility knives, I'm amazed I haven't yet injured myself.  Although, now that I think about it, today's the one-year anniversary of my fall from the ladder in the dining room and the subsequent sticking of the utility knife in the floor....hope I didn't just jinx myself....

Friday, February 4, 2011

Stranded

I am here.  I survived Snowmageddon III, the dumping of snow that the Kansas City area received Tuesday and Wednesday...but not without (minor) incident.  (Warning, this is really long...but also at least somewhat funny.)

In the wee hours of Tuesday morning I was doing laundry when my dryer quit working again.  (Last time it was the heating element; this time it quit altogether.)  I waited until 3:45 a.m. when the New Boyfriend gets up for work to call him and ask if I could use his dryer.  Of course I could.  "But," he said, "the weather's gonna get really bad, so I'll come get you and then you can use my truck today because it's four-wheel-drive."  He showed up a few minutes later, we loaded my laundry into his truck, and we went to his house.  So far, just a few flakes of snow here and there.  He left for work with a friend and then, in an appalling lack of common sense on my part, I fell asleep in a big chair while watching the Weather Channel.  Six hours later I woke up to the wind howling and snow coming down so hard I couldn't see the houses across the street.  Uh-oh.  "Travel is not advised," said Weather Channel Dude.  Seriously, uh-oh.  It's only a couple miles to my house, I thought, surely I can make it.  I packed up my laundry and went out to his garage, fully intending to back the truck out and go home.  But when I hit the garage door opener, the door rose to reveal two feet of drifted snow packed against the front of the house.  This was about noon.  I called AJ.  "Stay right where you are," he said.  "And go out to the dog pen and let Maddie in the garage."  Maddie is his cocker spaniel.  I bundled up and went out to the dog pen, where the snow was already drifted as high as the chain link fence.  "Maddie!"  I called.  "Maaaaadiiieee!"  No sign of her anywhere.  I stomped around the dog pen for ten minutes or so without locating her. 

Stranded.  At the boyfriend's house.  Not exactly miserable conditions.  He built the house in 1997, so it's 110 years younger than the Kelly House, it's beautiful, it's cozy warm, and there's cable tv and a pantry full  of food.  Sadly, there's not a speck of painted-over wallpaper anywhere and absolutely nothing needs fixing.  I was bored.  By the time he got home I had two loads of his laundry done in addition to all of mine, the kitchen was clean, and I picked up all the beer cans and peanut shells that he and his buddies had left behind in his man-cave.  Bored, I tell you.  (Incidentally, his needle-nose pliers were nice and clean, too, since I didn't think to check his pockets before I washed his jeans and the pliers did not reveal themselves until they got to the dryer and banged around.)

At some point Tuesday the Governor of Missouri declared a State of Emergency and called out the National Guard.  My son called me to tell me they were okay and to let me know that Guard trucks with soldiers were stationed at all the entrance ramps to I-70 to prevent people from getting on the interstate.  It was closed both eastbound and westbound from state line to state line, a situation previously unheard of.  (Emergency vehicles were allowed through, and the medics at my department told me it was surreal to be the only vehicle on the interstate for miles and miles while transporting a patient to a hospital in Kansas City.)

AJ and the guys he works with burst into the house about 5:30 p.m. (their usual 45-minute trip home having taken twice the time) covered with snow and cussing like sailors.  They'd left their trucks in the street and waded through snow ranging from knee-high to chest-high just to get to the house.  "Where's the dog?" he asked me.  "I couldn't find her," I told him.  He went outside to the dog pen with one of his friends and started calling her.  Still no Maddie.  Methodically they criss-crossed the dog pen until finally, in the corner, they saw snow moving.  Poor Maddie had, at some point, dug a hole into a snow drift and as the snow kept falling and the wind blowing, she'd been sealed inside her little snow cave, invisible to us.  AJ scooped her up and took her into the warm garage.  Maddie was a very grateful little dog.

"We'll go to your house, shovel the walks, and come back to get you," AJ told me.  Twenty minutes later he called me.  It had taken them that long to drive the two miles to my house and recon the situation.  "Your alley's completely drifted over higher than the bumper on the truck and there's snow up to that little window on the back of your house.  We're gonna dig out the front walk and get you in that way."  Uh-oh.  "Um, AJ?  I don't have a key to my front door," I said.  He conferred with his buddies.  "Hell with it," he said, "we're pickin up some beer and comin back to my house."

Stranded again.  With four guys and a case of beer.  Worse things could happen, you know?

Wednesday morning, amazingly, the place were AJ works was not closed down, so the guys dug out one of the trucks and left for work.  I stayed at AJ's and worried about how I was going to get to work myself.  Taking a snow day is not an option when you work at a fire department--we're all essential personnel.  I called my boss.  "Do the best you can," she said.  "Some of us have been stuck at the station for 36 hours, though, so if you have any way of getting here to relieve us please do so."  Wednesday night when AJ got home from work he and four other guys set to clearing the snow away from the garage door so he could get his truck out.  He drove me to work.  After being up since 3:15 a.m. and shoveling about 4 feet of drifted snow off his driveway, this man drove 90 minutes round-trip to take me to work.  (Yeah, I know, he's probably a keeper.  Or maybe he was just desperate to get rid of me.)

I had packed a bag Wednesday night when I left AJ's house, thinking that I'd have to stay at the fire station Thursday.  (I work Wednesday through Saturday this week; AJ's off Friday through Tuesday so he would be able to retrieve me Friday morning.)   Thursday morning at shift change an Assistant Chief appeared in the doorway of the Comm Cave.  "C'mon, Jaynie," he said, "I'll give you a ride home."  Woo hoo!  On the way out to his Command Vehicle (a 4WD Blazer) he told me that it's actually the policy of this department to shuttle its employees to and from work in severe weather.  Wow, how awesome is that?! 

Thirty minutes later I think the Asst. Chief might have been rethinking that policy when we tried to stop at a traffic light and slid out into the intersection.  "Oh my gosh!" he said, "We're sliding, this is us sliding, we're sliding on ice!"  We skidded out into the intersection and finally came to a stop.  "Holy hell!" I shouted.  He laughed.  "I'm really glad that truck didn't hit us because that would've been a lot of paperwork," he told me.  "And I might've gotten hurt!" I reminded him.  "Well, yeah, there is that, too," he admitted. 

When we finally arrived at the Kelly House, the City Street Dept. had plowed the alley and someone had cleared the snow from around my car.  (I suspect it was my neighbor Darrell, who helped my son dig out half the alley the last time it snowed.)  The wind must have blown just right, because the snow in my back yard was only knee-high, so I was able to yank the door open and get inside the house.

Five fur-babies greeted me joyfully.  Even Mean Little Marie was glad to see me...probably only because she was running low on kibble, but still.  Happily, Libbi had used the potty pads I always leave by the back door, so the mess was minimal.  I refilled their food bowls (they hadn't run out of water because I have one of those 5-gallon pet waterers), cleaned the litterboxes, gave each one of them a hug and kiss, and then we all piled into bed.  Ahhhhh, back in my own little house.  Snowmageddon III has been survived.