Sunday, December 30, 2012

Step One

Step One in the De-Crapification of my laundry room:

Getting rid of this mess.


Yes, folks, this is the first thing people see when they walk into my house.  (Because the back door is used way more often than the front door, which leads into my pretty little foyer.)  Actually, this photo doesn't really do justice to the crapification that I've allowed to happen to the laundry room.  About half an hour before this photo was taken, there was a little vintage folding table next to that trunk.  It was piled high with tools, plastic bags from the grocery store, and junk mail.  I didn't think to take a photo until after I'd thrown away 98% of what was on the table and then banished the table to the back bedroom.  And yes, I do always have two containers of kitty litter.  Trust me, you don't want to run out of that stuff.

After I cleaned off the table and took that photo, I remembered that I told y'all I wouldn't start the de-crapification until after I'd finished the bathroom.  So I did this:
More stenciling.  I'm now slightly more than halfway done.  It's going a bit faster now that I've got the hang of it.  (By the way, all those blank areas around the edges will be filled in.  I just have to either cut the stencil apart or do it by hand when I'm done with the main part of the floor.)  I really am almost done with the bathroom.  Really.  I promise A Big Reveal when it's done.

And then, because there's only so much stenciling I can take before I start to get really cranky, I cleaned up the rest of the mess in the laundry room and put a little telephone table where the mess used to be.  The tag on the table calls it a "gossip bench", which I happen to think is a really cute name for it, but my momma says it should be called a telephone table.  My momma rules.  Telephone table, it is.
Libbi and Louis think I bought it for them.  And really, as my friend Mandy said, "it fits them perfectly", so why not?  I made them both paw-promise that they wouldn't barf on it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Laundry (Room) Day

I can explain my absence.

I'd like to say that I've been gone on a fabulous vacation to someplace warm, sunning myself on a beach while drinking fruity cocktails, but that's not true.  (Actually, I don't even like fruity cocktails.)

What really happened is that I stumbled onto a snippet of local Civil War history while reading something else and became obsessed with it.  I've been spending a lot of time in 1864...at least mentally.  (Oh, that I could travel back in time!  I have lots of questions.)

Today I forced myself to live in 2012 and take care of some electrical issues in my laundry room.  Things have been in a sad state back there for about a year.  By "in a sad state" I mean that I've been doing laundry by flashlight because both the ceiling fixture and the wall fixture quit working.  I tried to plug a small lamp into the only outlet in the laundry room, but the outlet is so loose that the plug just falls right out.

Today, therefore, was Laundry Day.  No, that's not right...I still have a big pile of unwashed clothes in my bathroom.  Today was Laundry (Room) Day.  First, I ventured down to the scary basement to shut off the breaker.  An utterly uneventful trip.  No ghosts, no dead animals, nothing.  Then I replaced the loose outlet, the ceiling fixture which operates with a pull chain, and the wonky switch that was keeping the wall fixture from working.  I have lights!

And then, because there's no heat ducts back there and it gets mighty cold in the winter, I bought one of those oil-filled radiators and plugged it into the now-not-loose outlet.  I have heat!  (I should have done that a long time ago.  It's really nice back there now.)

And after that, I took a hard look at the laundry room and decided it's in serious need of a makeover.  Y'all, it's ugly.  Just as soon as I get the bathroom done (and I'm just about finished) I am starting in on the laundry room.

If I can stay away from 1864, that is....

**PS:  Is anybody else getting an error message when they click on the plus sign for Google Friend Connect?  It doesn't seem to be working.  Google eliminated Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites several months ago, but now I wonder if they've abandoned it altogether.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Scones


I made cranberry scones from scratch a few days ago. This conversation followed.

Me: I made some scones if you want one.
Charlie: What the hell's a scone?
Me: Those things on the counter, those are scones.
Charlie: I know, but what ARE they?
Me: They're like biscuits, sorta.
Charlie:  What do you mean, "sorta"?
Me:  Hang on, I'll look it up.  Scone.  A single-serving cake or quick bread, originally hailing from Scotland.
C: I'm not eatin' 'em.
Me: And why not?!
C: Because I don't eat things that I've never heard of or that I can't pronounce.
And that is why I devoured 8 scones in two days.
(Should you want to make scones--either to share or to devour all on your own--you can find the recipe I used here.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tinkering

I've been tinkering with the look of my blog and I think I finally have it all spruced up.  It might not have taken me so long if I actually knew what I was doing...  I am no expert in HTML, folks.  I just stumble along until finally it looks right.  Sort of.  I get a lot of help from internet freebies.

  • The background came from Hot Bliggity Blog.  Lots of cute stuff there.  
  • Those cute little connect buttons were created by Kira at Her New Leaf.  I chose the set in Clementine, but she made sets in other cute colors too. 
  • I'm completely incapable of choosing HTML colors with that slider thingy so I use the chart here

I get by with a little help from my friends, too.

After Andrea from Blue Shoe Farm reminded me that I didn't have my contact information on here, I added those little orange buttons in the sidebar.  Just click on the one that looks like an envelope to send me an email.  If you'd like to subscribe to The Kelly House via Feedburner or follow me with Google Friend Connect you can do that at the other two buttons.

A lot of my traffic comes from readers at Houseblogging, so I added their button as well.  That site is chock full of great house blogs.  Check it out, if you haven't already.

If, like Karen Anne, you're wondering what happened to the pictures of my house that used to be in the sidebar, you can find them under the tab called The House at the top of this page.  I changed the color and the font of the tabs to make them a bit more noticeable.  While you're clicking on the tabs, check out the one about my hometown and the one about me, too.  (That last one mentions you.  Yes, you.)

Twitter recently updated their widget, so I changed the one in my sidebar.  I think it looks nicer, and it's so much easier to interact with.  Reply to any tweet by hovering on it until the icons for reply, retweet, or favorite appear; send me a tweet via the window at the bottom of the feed; scroll down to see more tweets than before, including my photos and the photos of others without leaving this page; and follow me on Twitter by clicking the button at the top of the Twitter widget.

Hopefully, all these changes are for the better?  What do y'all think?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Bleah

The word of the day is "bleah".  Actually, that's the word of the week.  I have a cold which is persistently hanging on in spite of my best efforts to shake it--efforts that include chicken noodle soup, lots of naps, regular doses of Airborne and DayQuil, and quarts of sweet tea.  I spent most of my days off snuggled in bed surrounded by furbabies.  And used tissues.

To avoid feeling like I'd totally wasted my days off, I set myself the goal of finishing the chair rail in the bathroom.  It seemed like a reasonable goal, since I had only three pieces left to hang, caulk, and paint.  I put up one piece each of my three days off.  I just put up the last piece, and now I have no energy left to paint it.  

Bleah, I tell you.  Bleah.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

All Things Considered

At the beginning of my days off, way back on Wednesday morning, I channeled my inner Scarlett O'Hara and vowed that I would finish the bathroom ceiling.  I papered it with stuff that looks a little like tin ceiling, which may or may not be a really stupid idea considering that there's a lot of steam in a bathroom and steam is the best method for removing wallpaper.  I decided that I would caulk all the wallpaper seams and then put two coats of paint on it to protect it from the steam.  I finished half of it.  Not all of it, but it's a pretty good start.  Considering all the other things I could have done by channeling my inner Scarlett O'Hara, it's not so bad.  I mean, I didn't kill any Yankees in the past four days, fool around with a married man, or steal my sister's boyfriend, so all in all I think I'm good.


I did get some other things done.  (Wholly unrelated to Scarlett O'Hara.)  I hung chair rail on one side of the bathroom, cut down some baseboard and quarter round and put it back, painted the rest of the beadboard wallpaper, and put up a towel rod and a toilet paper holder.  That last item I'm especially proud of, since there hasn't been a toilet paper holder in that bathroom for six years.  A phone jack on the side of the old vanity, yes, but not a toilet paper holder.  What phone call is soooo important that you'd need to install a phone jack mere inches from the toilet so that you'd be sure not to miss a call while you're in there doin' your bidness?  People have different priorities, I guess.




Saturday, December 1, 2012

Maybe Not Really

Today I announced triumphantly to Charlie that I am almost done working on the bathroom.

He raised his eyebrows and asked, "Really?  You think?"

"Sure," I said.  "I just have to finish stenciling the floor and then I have to put poly on it, and put up some chair rail, and cut that other piece of baseboard down and then nail it in."

He ate another piece of the Christmas chocolate that my mama gave us.  We have a deal that I won't eat any of the Buckeyes and he won't eat any of the Pretzel Joys.  "And?"

"Oh yeah, and I have to finish painting the wallpaper, and the ceiling above the shower, and buy that hook with the bird on it that I like--"

"And replace the toilet lid that you got paint all over when you stood on it."  Charlie shook his head.  "I still don't get how you did that."

"Oh, I forgot about that," I said.  "I think I might want to get that door we saw at Lowe's too, so we can replace that stupid Dutch door that I hate.  I need to get some double-face tape for the wallpaper I put inside the medicine cabinet too, so the paper sticks better.  And then I need to figure out where to put the toilet paper holder."

Charlie laughed.  "But you're almost done.  Almost."

"Well, maybe not really...." I allowed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

All Day Long

Somewhere in the world there are houses in which people decide to fix something and it takes only a little while and everything goes perfectly.  My house is not one of those houses.  But really, where's the fun in that?

Last Saturday Charlie and I decided to replace the yucky vanity in the back bathroom with a nice new one.  He said, "You know this is gonna take all day long."  I said, "I know, but finding out why it will take all day is the joy of it."

I already knew that the shut-offs under the sink don't really shut off the water, but Charlie wanted to find this out for himself.  I may have mentioned once or twice that my bathroom is 39 inches wide.  The old vanity was 18" deep.  That meant that my 6'2", 200-lb. guy had about 21 inches of space in which to work.  (By the way, I really, really wanted to get a photo of him wedged in between the wall and the vanity with his head stuck under it but he threatened to never again make me fried taters, so I put the camera away.)

The shut-offs proved themselves a miserable failure again, so we headed down to the basement to look for the main shut-off to the house.  By "headed down to the basement" I mean of course that we corralled the animals in the bedroom under fierce protest, hooked the rope of cotton clothesline to the basement trapdoor, and then used the boat winch bolted to the wall to crank the door open.

We walked down the steps and..."Oh dear God, what is that stench?!" I squealed.  Charlie had his hoodie over his nose and mouth.  "Dead rat, I think," he said.  We looked all over the basement for it and couldn't find it.  I'm sure it's back in the dark recesses of the dirt crawlspace somewhere. I sprayed Febreze around down in there, and I can tell you that those commercials for Febreze where the people are surrounded by nastiness and cooing about open meadows are a dirty lie.  Anyhow, we found two water shut-offs.  One of them leads to the outdoor spigot and the other looks like it leads to the other outdoor spigot but actually seems to serve no purpose at all.  So we went outside and shut the water off at the meter.  I earned the daggers look from Charlie by saying, "Please don't drop my channel locks down in there".

Then we came in the house, shut the basement door, let the animals out, and went to the hardware store to buy new shut-offs.  When we came home, we found this:


Louis evidently has some psychic connection with the sink which causes him to know immediately when the water's off and makes him believe he will die of thirst before it's back on.  He could just get a drink out of the giant water bowl in the laundry room, but the water's colder and tastes better right out of the tap.  He sat in the sink patiently waiting for the water to be turned back on.

Meanwhile, Charlie tore out the old vanity, threw it out into the yard (it broke into pieces when it hit the ground), and then asked me if I have a crescent wrench.  I do not.  Apparently that's something you really need when you're working on plumbing.  He called WTB to ask if we could borrow one, but he wasn't home, so we borrowed one from his aunt across town.  By now, it was lunchtime so we ate and then Charlie replaced the shut-offs.

Now we know what's under the
vinyl flooring:  plywood subfloor
He pointed out that right then would be a good time to put up another strip of beadboard wallpaper, since nothing was in my way.  So I cut the strip of paper and turned on the kitchen faucet so I could use the sink as a wallpaper tray.  And no water came out, because of course the water was still shut off.  Duh.  Charlie went out to the meter and turned it back on, I filled the sink and hung the paper, and Louis got his drink.

After that, Charlie carried the new vanity into the bathroom, attached it to the wall, and discovered that the old trap kit wouldn't work.  (I don't know exactly why--it was too long or too short or something.)  We made another trip to the hardware store.  On the way there, Charlie asked me where the new faucet was.  I said something intelligent like, "Ummmm..." and Charlie said, "How did you forget to buy a new faucet?"  Which is a really good question and one I wish I knew the answer to.  I had my little heart set on a faucet with an oil-rubbed bronze finish and the only one the hardware store had was really expensive, so we had to make a 40-minute trip (one way) to a big box store to get one.

It took hours longer than it probably should have, but at the end of the day I had this:

A pretty vanity that's standard height.  (Esther, the previous owner, was 4'11" so the old vanity had been cut down for her.)  Also, a faucet that doesn't drip, a sink that holds water, a pipe that's not clogged, and shut-offs that work.  I also have a wee bit less floor to stencil, since this vanity is a little larger than the old one.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Brilliant

This month my friends and I have been doing "Thirty Days of Thankful", but instead of giving thanks for what we consider the big things, like family and faith and good friends and such, we've been giving thanks for ordinary things that we tend to take for granted.  Hence, my list has things on it like furnaces and internet access and replacement window glass.  (For real, glass is on my list.)  And really, the fact that we take those things for granted is, in itself, something to be grateful for when much of the rest of the world doesn't have regular access to them.

Anyhow, today I'm thankful for one of the things that ought to be on my list but isn't:  beadboard wallpaper.   Yup.  Wallpaper that looks surprisingly like the real thing.  It's brilliant.  Of course it costs less than the real thing (about $25 or so for a roll), and it's so much easier to put up than beadboard.  Even easier than those big sheets of what Mare calls beadboard plywood.  He's a restoration purist and won't call that stuff beadboard.  He'd have apoplexy over this.

I looked at a couple of different brands of it, and what I recommend is the allen + roth brand that's sold at Lowe's.  It's fairly thick and seems more durable than the other brands.  It also looks more like the real stuff than some of the other brands.  The walls in my bathroom were a mess.  Some previous owner had used vinyl flooring as wainscoting.  Ick.  When I took off that ugliness, the walls underneath were drywall that had never been taped and mudded.  I'm not sure exactly what happened in this room, because the top third or so of the walls seems to be plaster, but everything below that is drywall.  If you look closely at the photo, you can see the horizontal line under the wallpaper where plaster meets drywall.  Baffling.  The beadboard wallpaper is thick enough to cover most of that mess.  I'm seriously thinking about covering the yucky paneling in my laundry room with beadboard wallpaper.

But first, I have to finish this room.  The wallpaper isn't painted yet (it comes bright white like that, and it looks nice enough that you really could leave it that way) and I need to put up some chair rail too.  Then I need to finish painting the ceiling (which is also wallpapered, with stuff that looks a bit like tin ceiling) and put in the new vanity and hang the towel rod back up.  Oh yeah, and I need to finish that stenciled floor.  Still tapping away at that...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Patience Is A Virtue

I may have mentioned that patience isn't my strong suit.  Welllll....I think I'd better learn some patience.

Because this...

took me about three hours to do.

And that was after I figured out that using any kind of roller wasn't going to work.

First, I tried to use a foam roller, which some of the tutorials suggested.  It worked fine on the piece of cardboard I used for practice, but didn't cover well on the floor at all.  Then I figured since that part of the floor was already ruined, I'd try to use a paint roller with a very fine nap.  That covered well, but the paint seeped under the edges of the stencil and looked awful.  So I wiped the teal paint off the floor as best I could with a wet paper towel and then re-painted the floor with two coats of the white.

What does work?  A stencil brush.  It works great.  It takes a thousand times longer than a roller would, but it works great.

A couple of people asked about the durability of the floor.  After I get all this stenciling done, the floor will get two coats of Varathane Crystal Clear to protect it.  Remember that cool paisley floor I loved?  Carrie from Lovely etc. did that--in her living room and dining room, no less!--and was kind enough to blog about it again seven months later to report that her floors still look beautiful.  That's reassuring, since I'll be spending 30 to 40 hours tapping a little tiny stencil brush on my bathroom floor...


Thursday, November 15, 2012

I've Lost My Mind

I went to the big box store yesterday and looked at vinyl plank flooring.  I had every intention of ordering enough for the bathroom floor.

But instead I came home, lost my mind, and started painting my bathroom floor.  Actually, that's somewhat inaccurate.  I came home, cleaned my bathroom floor, sanded the finish off of it, cleaned the floor again, scrubbed the floor down with TSP, and let it dry thoroughly.  All the tutorials I've found on the interwebs say you have to do all that before you start painting.  What they don't tell you is that all that stuff takes a really long time to do.  (Even if your floor's not as dirty as mine was.)  I started out sanding with 100-grit like the instructions say and realized I'd qualify for the senior citizen discount at Golden Corral before I got finished.  So then I used really rough sandpaper left over from refinishing the floors (it's probably 80-grit or even 60-grit) and I put it on my multi-tool.  That didn't take too long.  What took forever was running the shop vac, then mopping, then letting it dry, then sanding, then running the shop vac, then mopping, then letting it dry, then scrubbing the floor with TSP and letting that dry.  Patience is not my strong suit.

Pawprints in the primer
After I finished all that, I put on two thick coats of primer.  I used Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer because it's really thick and it covers well.  The pattern in the vinyl floor is navy blue, so I wanted to be sure it was all covered up.  Also, thick coats of primer help hide the texture and pattern of the vinyl floor.  I brushed it on rather than using a roller so I could get plenty of primer down in the texture of the floor.  I was just about done with the first coat of primer when the dog chased one of the cats into the bathroom and then back out.  That was not a fun clean up.  You can tell in the photo that one coat is covering pretty well, but I used two just to be sure.

While the primer was drying, I went to Lowe's and bought a quart of Valspar Porch and Floor Paint and had them tint it to Fish Story, which is a dark teal.  (I love paint names.)  Incidentally, my mom was with me and happened to be wearing light teal colored shoes, so she helped me pick out the paint color by comparing the chips to her shoes.  (I love my mom.)

Background color
When I got back home, I swept the floor just to be sure nothing had been tracked in by the fur-babies in my absence, and then I painted on a thick coat of Valspar Gilded Linen.  That's the same color I'm using for the ceiling and the trim in the bathroom.  I'm planning to stencil the floor, so this whitish color will be the lines of the design and the teal will be the main color of the floor.  I'm debating whether or not to put down another coat of this color before I start stenciling.

Second coat or no, the stenciling will start tomorrow.  I think I'd better do it in the daytime when there's more light and when I've had plenty of rest, because math is involved in the placement of the first stencil so that the whole pattern doesn't go wonky after that.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Very Small Disaster

There are lots of leaves in my yard.  Billions, I estimate.  There are still more leaves on the roof of my house and in my gutters.  I've been doing my annual woe-is-me thing about this in the hopes that Charlie would take pity on me and do something about all those leaves.  However, when I whined to him about it...this schidt is not what I imagined.  Read on.

Charlie had the day off today and declared it Leaf Removal Day.  He cleaned out the gutters at White Trash Bob's house, at the house of the Ex-Mrs. WTB, at WTB's rental house, and finally at my house.  So there he was, on the roof of my house with my electric leaf blower, blowing the leaves off the roof and out into my yard.  (The logic of this escapes me, but whatever.)  He was on the roof at the front of the house, above the parlor. Meanwhile, I slept in my warm bed at the other end of the house, blissfully unaware that a very small disaster was about to happen.

Charlie was walking across the roof with the leaf blower when the extension cord caught on the porch roof.  So he yanked on the cord to free it.  Then he yanked on it again.  Then he heard an awful scrrrrrrrrrrape and had just enough time to think, "What the hell was that?" before he heard glass breaking and realized that he'd knocked the ladder sideways.

Charlie peered over the edge of the roof and saw the ladder at a horrible angle some feet away.  It occurred to him that he was now trapped on the roof of the house.

Then he leaned farther out over the edge of the roof and took a closer look.  The ladder was poking through one of the stained glass windows on my front parlor bay.  "Jaynie's gonna kill me," he thought.  And then, "I better call WTB for some help."

Glazing compound is the only
evidence of the accident.
WTB arrived from across the street in short order, pulled the ladder free from the window, and set the ladder back up so that Charlie could climb down.  Together they assessed the damage.

"Jaynie's gonna kill me," Charlie said.

"Not if she doesn't know about it," WTB said.

"How's she not gonna know about it?!  The ladder poked through the middle of the window!" Charlie said.

"Yes," WTB countered, "but she's asleep, isn't she?  We can take out the broken window, buy a new piece of glass, fix the window, and clean up the mess before she wakes up."

Charlie grinned, "That just might work."

Some hours later, I woke up and chattered along happily to Charlie about how much I'm looking forward to my days off and how pleased I am that he cleaned out the gutters.

"You're the best!" I said, and gave him a big hug.

"No, I'm not," he said.  "I'm really not the best..."

"You are!" I insisted.  "You are the best.  Just think about all the stuff you do for me."

Then I noticed that Charlie wouldn't look me in the eye.  My Spidey-sense began tingling. "What?" I said.  "What happened?"

"Dammit," he sighed.  "I can't lie to you."

Now ordinarily, I'd say that's a good thing...but when he told me the truth about what happened while I was sleeping, I sorta wished that he was capable of lying.  Or at least, of lying by omission.  I would really have preferred not to know that he poked the leg of a ladder through the middle of a window that's been in my house, unbroken, since about 1887.  I almost cried when I saw the pieces of wavy glass in the trash.  On the other hand, as ladders-through-windows go, this wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been.  Only the clear glass in the middle was broken.  The art glass panes around the outside are still intact.  At least Charlie didn't fall off the roof or go through the window himself.  And I have an honest man and a repaired window, both good things.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Down The Rabbit Hole

The last 57 times I've checked the weather forecast for my days off (Wednesday through Saturday) it predicted the same thing:  sunny or mostly sunny all four days and not a chance of rain.  This is good paint-scraping weather.  I will be scraping paint.  I will.  Honest.

But while I'm scraping paint, I'll be thinking about what to do with my bathroom floor.  Right now it looks like this:

It's not horrible, but I don't like it.  Also, it's been there for a couple of decades by my estimate and it looks pretty dingy, even right after I scrub it.  (Which, admittedly, hasn't happened in a while.)

Now, this is where I stop to make y'all aware of something:  Milah is a genius.  And an enabler.  A genius enabler.  Or, an enabling genius.  Either way, she's really smart.  She thinks of things I wouldn't, and then she tells me about them so that I start to think about them too.  Milah suggested vinyl plank flooring, which is water-resistant, durable, and inexpensive.  I like it.  I had about decided on this for the bathroom floor:

TrafficMaster in Hickory
Image via HomeDepot.com

It would look really good against the white beadboard (which I will tell you more about later) and the robin-egg-blue walls.  It reminds me of this inspiration photo I pinned to one of my Pinterest boards about a year ago.
See more gorgeousness at House of Turquoise

I like that floor...but I don't love it.  Then I remembered that Milah had also said it's possible to paint vinyl floors.  I googled images of that and fell down into a very large rabbithole.  Now I'm in love with the idea of painting the ugly vinyl floor in my bathroom.  These are my favorites:
Love the fishscale and the colors.
Image via Lovely Crafty Home


I like that the stencil looks like a bigger version of
hex tile.  I'm not brave enough to use this leaf green color.
Image via Apartment Therapy
This is actually painted subfloor, but it would
work on vinyl as well.  I adore the stencil but
is it too busy for my little bathroom?
Image via Lovely Etc.

That last image led me to the Cutting Edge Stencils website, which has tons of gorgeous stencils that would work on floors as well as walls.  (Another rabbithole, right there.)

So what do y'all think?  Should I go with vinyl plank or paint the bathroom floor?  Which stencil would you go with?  Colors?  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Two Seasons

"There are only two seasons--winter and baseball."
--Bill Veeck

I have to agree with Mr. Veeck about that.  The end of baseball season means the beginning of winter.  I hate winter.  I despise winter.  I loathe winter.  Winter has cold weather and ice and short days.  I have to wear shoes and socks in winter.  There are no fresh peaches in winter.  No tomatoes either,  or corn on the cob or good strawberries or any kind of melon.  No wrens singing in my yard, no honeybees, no daylilies.

No building permits either.  Mine runs out December 19th, and every day that I get to work outside on the house I think might be the last day of that.  I won't miss my wrists and arms hurting after a day of scraping paint, but I'll miss being outside, seeing my neighbors, hearing the saws and hammers of everyone else's projects.  Last week there was enough good weather to make some progress on the house, and I'm hoping for the same good weather this week.  Before that permit runs out (and the good weather with it) I need to make as much progress as I can on the west side of the house.  That's the side of the house we started back in....May.  Good grief, has it been that long??  It's finished except for a 15-foot-wide section (where the paint's incredibly hard to strip) and a little bit of trim.  I'd also like to get the clapboards replaced on the back of the house before winter, and my neighbor Chris would like to get rid of 20 or so salvage clapboards that he's promised me but that I haven't picked out or paid for yet.  That's a lot of work to get done.  I'm not making any promises or bold declarations about what I think will be accomplished.  Too much depends on things I can't control, like weather and arthritis and the help of others.  I'll try to remember to post photos of what's being done, but if y'all don't hear from me you'll know I'm out there trying to beat the weather in between working night shift and doing that other thing called Life.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Self-Reliance

The other day, out of nowhere, Charlie said, "You rely on me too much."

What?!  That's something I've never had a guy tell me.  "You're too independent."  Oh, yes.  "Why don't you ask for help once in a while?"  All the time.  But being accused of relying on a guy too much?  Never.

So, in the spirit of self-reliance, I decided to remove the crappy old vanity from the little bathroom.  This is something I know how to do.  This is something I've done before.  And without the help of any man.  I am confident.  I am independent.

And then I discovered the shut-off valves under the sink don't really shut off the water.  Even if they did, I can't get to the nuts under the faucet without a basin wrench.  (See?  I am independent.  I am a girl who knows what a basin wrench is.  I just don't own one...)  So out of frustration I kicked the vanity repeatedly and not only kicked a hole in the side of it (it's rotted) but I also knocked the seal loose between the sink and the pipe, so now I have to brush my teeth in the kitchen.

Still determined to demonstrate my self-reliance, I sorted through all the stuff in my head that needs to be done (and that's a lot of stuff, y'all) and came up with this:  put up the ceiling trim in the bathroom.  I'd previously wallpapered the ceiling, but it looked unfinished without trim.  I was not deterred by the fact that I've never put up trim by myself.  The fact that I have no miter saw...now that's a deterrent.  But I improvised.  I overcame.  I adapted.

I stole the trim from the laundry room with its already-mitered corners.

Oh yes, I did.  That way I only had to make straight cuts, which I did and I messed up just one time.  Unfortunately it's right in the middle of the wall above the door.  I think caulk and paint will cover it.  I hope.

So when I told Charlie about all this, he said he was proud of me for starting and completing a project in one day and for my ingenuity.  Then he said, "Just leave that vanity for later when I can help you with it."

Oh, really?!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Funny

I showed this photo to a friend of mine.

"Look at all those leaves!  They're covering up my brand-new patio!" I said. 
 "And the clapboards on the house look really bad, too."

He considered this for a moment.

Then he said, "Forget the leaves and the siding.  That's an awfully little deer leaving the photo."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Patio

You know how they say that "the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray"?  Well, that's pretty much what happened with my patio.  Charlie and Flint tore out the old patio over a month ago and Charlie meant to pour the new one a week or so later.  But life happened, like it does, and so we're just now getting around to the new patio.

Charlie took the day off from pouring concrete at his job to...well, pour concrete at my house.
He's funny like that.

The concrete truck kept barfing out sludgy cement, and Charlie kept spreading it around, and pretty soon the forms were all filled up.
For the first time in many years, the walkway goes right up to the back door.  This pleases me greatly.

What also pleases me greatly is the way Charlie finished the patio and the walkway by "picture-framing" it.  I think it looks really nice.
The walkway was finished pretty quickly, but the patio took awhile to broom out.

 It's 9 feet wide and 32 feet long.  That's a lot of broom-pushing.

At the west corner of the patio, near the back door, is a spot where Little Marie often sat and watched the world go by.  That was where my son buried her last week.  I wanted to mark the spot somehow, so my mama got me a small stone.  I placed it over her grave today.
It made me feel both a little bit better and a little bit worse to do that.  Y'all understand.
But now my little gray girl has a marker on her grave, and I can sit there sometimes and feel as if I'm with her.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Untamed Little Soul

On the front porch, Summer of 2008.
This is my favorite photo of Marie.
Karen Anne said it best:  "There are no words."

So I will just say that Monday morning when I came home I found Little Marie in the street by my house where she had been hit by a car, and that was as horrible as you imagine it was.

I am not ready yet to write about what she meant to me.  

God bless her untamed little soul.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Missing Motivation

You know how it is when you really don't like something, but you try to make it work anyway?  One of two things happens then:  you either get over it, or every time you look at the something you get cranky.  There's been a whole lot of cranky around here over the color of the bathroom.  So today I started repainting it.


The difference is startling, right?!  If you look really, really hard at the right side of the photo you can see the old blue color on the bottom versus the new blue color on the top.  I know, I know, it's almost the same color.  Almost.  But not exactly.  Enough so that I'm not cranky anymore.  Oh, and I'm leaving the bottom half of the walls the old color because soon--I mean, eventually--that will be covered up with beadboard.

I know I've been talking a lot lately about the bathroom, but I haven't forgotten about the outside of the house.  I made some progress on scraping paint yesterday and today, too.


Amazing, isn't it?  Why, if I make that much progress every day I'll be done in only...another 27 weeks or so.    That electrical line stringing across the back of the house down to the fixture in the window is lovely, isn't it?  At least I spared y'all the view of the back yard, which still looks pretty much like it did a month ago when Flint and Charlie tore up the old patio.

I'm hoping to get my motivation back real soon.   Like before November 18th, when my building permit runs out....

Friday, September 28, 2012

Something Wicked

I went down to the scary basement today to turn off the breakers to the bathroom so I could put up new fixtures.  I thought while I was down there, I'd check on the decomposing rat Charlie and I left behind when we fixed the drain hose to the air conditioner.

There's just one little problem with that plan.

The dead rat is gone.

After I finished squealing, "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!" it occurred to me that there might be a reasonable explanation for the missing rat.  So I called Charlie.

"Did you pick up that dead rat out of my basement?" I asked him.

"Hell no, I didn't!  I got enough health problems as it is without pickin' up a dead rat," Charlie said.

Oh.

Then something else carried away the rat carcass.

Something big enough to carry a rat.

Or big enough to eat it.

Something wicked.

Which means that someplace in my foundation, there's a hole big enough for something wicked that carries away dead rats to get inside my house.

All together now:  Ewwwwwww.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Girly Man

Charlie is home.  Actually, he came home Wednesday afternoon, but I didn't get around to blogging about it until now.  I've been busy hovering over him, checking his hand every couple of hours (I have gory pics if anyone would like to see them), and reminding him to take his antibiotics.  He's glad I went back to work last night.

I'm worried about him.  I think something might have happened to him in the hospital that turned him into a girl.

Wait.  That didn't sound right.

But seriously, y'all.  He's been acting kinda girly ever since he came home.

Wednesday night was not a good night at all.  I know this because both of us cried.  That automatically makes it a really bad night.  Sending a guy home with an open wound (the surgeon didn't stitch it up because he says it'll heal better if it's open), a bunch of antibiotics and painkillers, and a booklet about MRSA that will scare the bejeebers out of anybody can be a little overwhelming.  On top of all that, Charlie doesn't have health insurance or even sick leave at his job, so now he's got this big hospital bill and no money coming in to cover it.  So he cried.  Then I cried because he cried.  Then he told me I wasn't re-bandaging his hand right and I cried some more.  Finally we both sat on the couch with a box of Kleenex and cried it out while eating a whole bag of peanut butter cups.  You know, because that's what girls do.  Except that only one of us is a girl.  I think.

Then Thursday or Friday we had a big discussion about laundry detergent.  I mean, for like half an hour.  He's been buying the cheap kind but now he thinks he might buy the kind I use because he likes the way his clothes smell when I wash them at my house.  Besides, he says, "your soap gets my whites whiter".  Seriously.  He said that.

But what really sealed the deal about him becoming a girly-man was what happened last night.  I called him from work to check on him and he said he couldn't talk to me right then.  Why?  "Because there's a really good movie on Lifetime and I don't wanna miss it."  A really good movie on Lifetime??   I thought he was joking until he hung up so he could watch the movie.  He texted me during a commercial to tell me that "another good movie's comin on" after that one.

Who is this guy, and what has he done with my Charlie??



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hilarity

Possibly the best moment in the whole history of Twitter just occurred.

Bear with me for a bit of backstory, k?

Daniel Hudson  (DHuddy41) is a pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  He's a nice guy and one of my favorite players.  This is Daniel Hudson in action:

Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America

Daniel Hudson has a dog named Buckley.  This is Buckley in action:
Photo by Daniel Hudson

When Buckley's mom (aka Mrs. Daniel Hudson) bought a new couch and then announced that Buckley would not be allowed to sleep on it (that's the old couch in the photo), Buckley took to Twitter to protest, creating his own account (BuxHuddy41) with the hashtag #WemmeSweepOnDaCouch to campaign for couch privileges.  Buckley's supporters (and y'all know I support dogs on couches!) are known as the #RollAwoundSkwad and we #SwapPaws over small victories.

With me so far?  Okay.  That brings us to Tuesday night, when I was looking for something to make me laugh because, as y'all know, this has not exactly been the best week.  (By the way, Charlie had surgery Monday to remove dead tissue and infection from his hand and he's still in the hospital.  We now know he has an infection called MRSA, which you can read more about here, or you can just take my word for it that it's nasty, icky stuff which you would not wish on your worst enemy.)  Anyhow, I may or may not have posted this photo to my Twitter feed:
Photo via Emergency Cute Stuff on Twitter

Followed by this picture:
Photo via Emergency Cute Stuff on Twitter

Followed by this tweet:  "Oh my, the cuteness!  I am in danger of RT-ing everything from EmergencyPuppy!"

Enter my friend Matthew, who I adore but who is badly in need of some silliness in his life.  He's very serious and earnest.  His job somehow involves handling other people's money--I think he's an investment banker or a stockbroker or something like that--and maybe if I had to do math all day I'd be serious and earnest and ever-so-slightly cranky all the time too.

Matthew (not "Matt", not ever) tweeted me:  "Please don't."
I replied:  "But, but--that little dog doing yoga is so, well, CUTE."
And then:  "Maybe you'd prefer the cat singing a Collective Soul tune?  I have that in my arsenal too."
Matthew:  "All forms of animal cruelty as far as I am concerned."
Me:  "I'm guessing you don't follow BuxHuddy41 either...."
Matthew:  "You are correct.  Nor will I even look at it."

And then something wonderful happened.  Something marvelous.  Something that is quite possibly the best Twitter moment ever.

Buckley Hudson entered the conversation.

Oh yes, he did.

Buckley Hudson tweeted, "Fow shame.  #SomePeopowMan"

Hilarious.



Sunday, September 16, 2012

Careful What You Wish For

Charlie came home from work early on Friday because of rain.  So early, in fact, that I was still sound asleep.  He made fun of me because I was still sleeping at 10 a.m. and I made fun of him because he says that half the day is gone by 10 a.m.  He stood by my bed and said, "Get-up-get-up-get-up-get-up!" until finally I couldn't take it anymore and I did, in fact, get up.  Grumbly and unwilling, but I did get up.  While I was eating my bowl of Lucky Charms, I said to him, "I wish sometimes that you would slow down a little bit and just take it easy instead of always workin' your butt off every day."

Welllll.....be careful what you wish for.

Later in the day on Friday, Charlie showed me a little blister on the web of his right hand.  Neither one of us thought much about it, although he did say that it hurt a bit.  Saturday when he came home from work his hand was slightly swollen.  This morning he slept in a little and I slept in a lot, since I had to work night  shift.  "Don't wake me up for anything," I said.  He threw a pillow at me.  About noon he shook me awake. "I know you said not to wake you up, but..."  He showed me his hand.  "I think I need to go to the hospital." His hand was swollen to about twice its normal size and the web of his hand was red and hot to the touch.  He said he was freezing (he must've had fever), and when he put a hoodie on over his t-shirt, I gasped when I saw the underside of his arm.  There was a red streak snaking up from his wrist, along his forearm, across the crook of his elbow, and under his arm to his armpit.

Later at the ER, when Charlie showed that to the nurse, the guy said, "Uh-oh, that is not good."  The doctor agreed, so Charlie's in the hospital now.  It's a staph infection, probably from a spider bite.  Charlie's on IV antibiotics and will be in the hospital until the infection clears up.  The doctor says he's not sure how long that will be.  In the morning they'll decide if they need to do surgery.

I wanted Charlie to take it easy for a few days...but this is not exactly what I meant when I wished for that.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Boatlift of September 11




"Average people.  They stepped up."
--Robin Jones
Engineer, Mary Gellatly




Monday, September 10, 2012

That Is The Question

To beadboard or not to beadboard?  That is the question.  You can't really see it in this crappy pic I took with my phone last night, but the walls are pretty yucky-looking in here.  Not, however, as yucky-looking as they used to be...When I bought the house, this bathroom had vinyl flooring nailed to the walls about halfway up.  Light tan vinyl flooring with a brassy-looking tack strip at the top of it.  Ugly.  I guess because whoever did the walls knew they'd be nailing ugly vinyl to it, they didn't bother to tape and mud very well on the bottom half of the walls.   (If you look just to the right of Gracie Cat, who is looking askance at the paint job in progress, you can see the line in the wall where the strip used to be.)

Because of all that, I'm thinking of putting beadboard on the walls.    I need a second opinion though.  (And a third and a fourth, and so on...)  Do y'all think it would look okay?  Or do you think it would chop up the area and make it look even smaller than it already is?  The other thing I'm thinking is that the light blue turned out lighter and more baby-blue on the walls than I thought it would, so putting white beadboard in there might make it look even more like a baby's room.

So.  Beadboard?  Or no beadboard?



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Yard of the Month

The Garden Club will be over any minute now to award me Yard of the Month.
It's a good thing Charlie mowed yesterday and I stacked up the bricks and cinder blocks so neatly.
Too bad the ladies of the Garden Club don't have any place to sit and have a nice cold glass of sweet tea...since Flint came over and took the patio out this morning.

I thought he was coming over tomorrow.  Imagine my surprise when a Bobcat showed up in my yard.  At 9:00 in the morning.  I was sound asleep until I heard the guys yelling to each other over the noise of the Bobcat.

Flint took out the sidewalk too.  The new one will line up with the back door.  This makes me exceedingly happy.
They uncovered a very old sidewalk that led from the original back door (which is now the kitchen door) to the cistern (which is now covered by a small patio).  It makes me a little sad that this will be covered back up.

In fact, a lot of this mess will be covered up with concrete when I get a new patio.  That will be sometime next week.  I think.  Unless a cement truck shows up tomorrow.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Serenity Prayer Bathroom

These are the things I hate about the bathroom at the back of the house:

1.  It's 4 feet wide and 11 feet long.
2.  The vinyl flooring is kinda not pretty.
3.  The vanity is ugly and falling apart.
4.  The only outlet in there is on the fixture above the vanity.
5.  There is no HVAC back there.
6.  The shower is only 32" x 32".
7.  The Dutch door at one end of it is stupid and ugly.
8.  The walls are uneven and have cracks and holes.
9.  The ceiling is ugly and now it has a leak.
10.  I painted it a horrible cobalt blue.

Of that list, there are things I can change and things I can't.  So instead of griping and bitching incessantly about it, I decided to change the things I can and stop complaining about the rest of it.  The Serenity Prayer applied to a bathroom, if you will.  Looking at that list, I guess everything on there could be changed with enough time and money.  But let's be realistic.  (For once.)

So the first thing I'm going to do is get rid of that ugly dark blue.  You can see a tiny bit of the color it's going to be in the upper left-hand corner of the photo.  A much lighter blue.  With whitish trim.

And then maybe I'll get a new vanity, a temporary one.  Heck, around here "temporary" is anywhere from six months to six years.  That seems like it might be a good idea.

And I definitely have to do something about the icky ceiling, which is covered with craptastic acoustic tile that now has a big ugly water spot on it and is bowed way out, thanks to 8 inches of rain in two days.  Charlie told me not to poke at the ceiling.  Tomorrow I think I will in fact poke at it until at least the bowed-out part is gone.  Then I'll figure out something to cover the ceiling with.

If I do those three things, then I think I can live with this bathroom for a while.  Maybe a long while.  In-progress pictures to follow.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Here Kitty, Part 2

Charlie came over to my house after he got off work yesterday.

"What're you doin?" he asked.

"I'm lookin for Louis so I can put him in the house before I go to work," I said.  "I've been lookin for him for 20 minutes and I can't find him."

Usually when I'm looking for Louis Cat, I step out into the alley and yell, "Louuuuuis, c'mere buddy!" a couple of times and he comes running from wherever he's been visiting.  I wish I could put a little camera around his neck so I know where he spends his time when he's not in the yard.

Charlie and I looked in all of Louis Cat's favorite spots:  under the concrete bench in Floyd and Gwen's garden, behind the azalea bush in Martha's yard, on my front porch.  No Louis.

So Charlie went out into the alley and yelled, "Willis!  Hey, Willllllliiiiis!  C'mere buddy!"

Willis?  Who the heck is Willis?

Charlie said, "Where'd I get that?  I must be losin my mind."

 I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe.

Then Louis came running down the alley meowing.

Apparently he also answers to Willis.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

WTB's Porch

Over at The Coal Miner's Despair, Charlie and White Trash Bob are rebuilding WTB's porch.  (I don't really know why Bob calls his house that, except that it really was built by a coal miner sometime in the 1890s.)  The porch wasn't horrible before, but it did need some help.  What they've done so far looks fabulous.

"What we're really good at is making a mess."--WTB
Freshly painted trim under the porch roof, freshly painted and fixed-up posts, a brand-new railing, and nice new trim just below the porch floor.  WTB decided he didn't like the old newel post, which was square and really didn't seem to go with the posts, so he made two new ones which are round.  You can barely see them at the left edge of the above photo.  (I wasn't standing quite far enough away when I took it, but I was afraid I'd fall down the hill.)  WTB's idea is that the two round posts and new steps (not yet built) will frame the front door better.  The gap between the tops of the posts and the porch roof will be filled in with new capitals.  Look real close at the upstairs window and you can see two dolls that Mrs. WTB left behind.  One of them has fallen forward and its little hand is against the window, so it looks like they're trying to escape.  I want to put witch hats on them for Halloween.
"I love scrapin' paint so much that I had to do
some more of it over here."--Charlie
This is taken from the west side of the house. I don't know if you can see it in the photo very well, but WTB put the balusters at a 45-degree angle.  Looks really nice.  Here you can also see the porch floor a little bit. (I'll get better photos of the floor when they get it all swept off.)  Like I said before, WTB bought new tongue-and-groove flooring intending to paint it and then decided it was too pretty to paint, so he stained it.  Charlie scraped and sanded down all the porch trim and then WTB repainted it.  Check out the curved ceiling on the porch.  I just love that.  They're going to keep that, but repaint it.  I'm secretly wishing they'd paint it a very pale sky blue, but that's probably not going to happen.
"If we make the top the bottom and the
bottom the top, then I think it'll fit."--WTB
The east side of the porch.  Look at all those balusters waiting to be nailed to the railing.  While I was taking this photo, Charlie and WTB were trying to fit in the little piece of railing between the post on the far right and the half/newel post next to it.  Some colorful language was involved.  If you look really close, you can see a bottle of Torani Raspberry Syrup on the porch.  WTB mixes that with water or club soda to sustain them during the arduous porch-building.  He's a gracious host.

I think WTB needs some wicker furniture and big ferns on that porch when he gets it done.  What do y'all think?


Monday, September 3, 2012

Here Kitty...

Friday and Saturday we finally got some rain.  Lots of rain.  Lovely, slow, steady, soaking rain that turned everything green again.  Because that rain came from the edges of Hurricane Isaac, there was also a lot of wind. I worried about Mean Little Marie out in the rain.  (I don't know if I told y'all this or not, but about two months ago MLM decided to be an outdoor cat.  She will not come in the house anymore at all.) It was windy and kinda cold Friday night, so I ran outside in the storm, scooped up Marie, and put her in the house.  She stood at the back door yowling until I finally let her out again.  Strange little cat.  About 2 a.m. Saturday morning when the wind was really blowing I went outside again to try to make her come inside.  In the process of "rescuing" her, I stepped on her tail and she bit me.  After that, she went missing until about 10 p.m. Saturday night.  Then she showed up at the back door, meowing in her cranky voice, indignant because her food bowl was full of water and not kibble.  I never, ever, ever leave kibble in her bowl at night because our neighborhood is overrun with possums and raccoons.  (And apparently, rats, given what I recently found in the basement.)  Just this once, I thought it would be okay.  When I set out the bowl of kibble, Louis Cat ran outside.  Louis is a mostly-indoor/sometimes-outdoor cat.  I decided to leave Louis and the bowl of kibble outside for about 30 minutes.

When I went to check on Louis about 45 minutes later, I did not have my glasses on.  I'm at the age now where reading my Nook is easier without glasses.  So I opened the back door to call Louis and then saw him eating out of Marie's bowl.  I leaned down to pet him and said something like, "Louis, my sweetie, come in the house."  Then I noticed the big furry tail.  It was a raccoon!  A little raccoon, about half-grown.  It looked up at me with an "oh crap" expression on its face.  I looked back at it with the same expression.  We both stood there, frozen like that, for a few seconds, and then I very intelligently said, "You are not my Louis" and the little raccoon trundled off through the yard, climbed the picket fence, paused at the top to look back at me, and then jumped down and ran off across the alley.

Three things occurred to me:
1.  I will wear my glasses at all times forever more.
2.  I really need to get some electricity on the back porch.  (There's only one outlet besides the washer/dryer hookup.  No lights.)
3.  I feel like the woman in this commercial:




Sunday, September 2, 2012

Picture Rail!

Way back in May, I bought picture rail and painted it.  Charlie said, "The next time it rains on a day that neither one of us is workin, we'll put that up."  Who knew it would be September before that happened??

So yesterday we hung picture rail all day.  This is the only in-progress photo I have:
Charlie wearing a dorky hat that I hate.

Charlie said, "Don't be takin pictures of me."
Me:  "I'm not."
Charlie:  "You are."
Me:  "Am not.  You said pictures, plural.  This is the only one I'm takin."

This was one of the two worst bits of trim in the whole room because it had both an inside corner and an outside corner on the same piece.  I think Charlie measured that part of the wall at least four times, then cut the piece of picture rail, then trimmed a bit off one end and a bit off the other end at least six times, then swore a lot, and finally got it just right.

This is the outside corner of that same part of the room:

And here's what the room looks like today:
And also:
I need some more furniture in here.  I'm working on that.  And now that I have picture rail, I need to buy some hanging hardware and some pictures!