Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ice Ice Baby

Tuesday afternoon I slept as late as possible before crawling out of my nice warm bed and stumbling into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee and eat a cookie.  Then I packed up my meals and snacks for work, and finally, with just 20 minutes left before I had to go to work, I turned on the shower.
And nothing happened.
Oh crap, I forgot to pay the water bill., I didn't.  And the tap in the kitchen worked when I needed water for the coffeemaker.
I tried the sink in the bathroom.  Nada.
Huh.  That's weird.  I'll just take a shower in the other bathroom.
So I went in there and cranked the hot water tap.  Zilch.  The sink didn't work either.
Uh oh.  I had a sneaking suspicion as to the cause, since it was about 12 degrees outside and the wind chill was like 15 below zero. Yup, frozen pipes.  So I went to work without a shower and worried all night that the pipes would burst sometime during the 14 hours that I was gone.  On the way home I worried about what to do, because the access to those pipes--the bathrooms are pretty much back-to-back at the rear of the house--is in a dirt crawlspace that's about 18 inches high.  The last time I needed to get in that crawlspace I saw a giant spider and couldn't bring myself to go back in there, so I paid a crackhead named BooBoo 25 bucks to shimmy through the crawlspace pulling electrical wire behind him.  I think BooBoo is dead now, so that's not an option. 
By the time I got home Wednesday morning, I'd fretted myself into quite a state over this whole thing.
So I walked into the bathroom, turned the shower, and a whole bunch of icy cold rusty gross water sorta belched out.  I left it running until the water ran clear and did the same thing with the bathroom sink and also the sink and the shower in the other bathroom.  This might be the only time in the whole history of my house that something just fixed itself and I didn't have to do anything.
And just when you got that song (in the post title) out of your heads:
Stop.  Collaborate and listen.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Things I Forgot To Tell Y'all, Part 1

The other day I was folding laundry when it occurred to me that I never told y'all about the shelves I put up in the laundry room last year.  The laundry room's always looked a little blah and I wanted to pretty it up, especially since almost everybody who comes over uses the back door and the laundry room's the first room they see.

I have a lot of storage in the laundry room already because there are built-in cabinets along the whole wall opposite the washer and dryer, so these shelves were primarily just to look nice.  

A Pinterest idea that actually worked--wooden letters with scrapbook paper ModPodged to them.  I use the baskets to store toilet paper, paper towels, dryer sheets, and other things.  The cats use the baskets on the top shelves as nests.

A Pinterest idea that doesn't work so well--putting liquid detergent in a drink dispenser.  It looks cute, but the valve gets kinda gummy after awhile.  The shorter bottom shelf isn't a mistake (although with my carpentry skills, it could've been) but intentional, because I'm going to put a rod on the underside of that second shelf so I can hang things up as I take them out of the dryer.  I might also get a drying table that folds back against the wall for drying sweaters and such.  

All of the decorations on the shelves came from other parts of the house and I kept rearranging them until I found something I like.  Everything on the shelves has a memory of a person or place attached to it, so looking at them makes me happy.  The dried hydrangeas came from my very own yard, and it's amazing to me not only that I kept hydrangea bushes alive (four of them!) but that I had the presence of mind to dry the flowers last fall. There's a story behind those bricks on the top shelf:  they're from a downtown commercial building that collapsed a couple years ago and that building was the home of Riley's Irish Pub, where I used to work and where I had many a good meal and great conversation with friends and family.  So while a little pile of bricks might seem at first an odd decorating choice, it fits in with the theme of the shelves.  

Before I put the shelves up, I stripped off the beadboard wallpaper that I'd put up a couple of years before.  Turns out that kitties just love beadboard wallpaper.  It feels so good to their little claws that they just have to scratch and scratch at it until it's shredded.  I painted the walls with Valspar's Sparkling Sage.  The old janky paneling (which Mare calls "trailer paneling") looks decent once it's got a couple coats of paint on it.

The laundry room gets a lot of natural light from the windows and the back door--it's the northwest corner of the house--and now that the shelves are up it's a nice cozy room. 

Friday, January 8, 2016


Here's how things go around here:  I had the beginnings of a pretty good post written about how I am finally, really and truly, becoming "unstuck" from the emotional mire I'd found myself in for much of last year.  I felt pretty good about what I'd written but I wasn't sure if maybe I might be oversharing, so I took a break to check on my sheet pan supper (one of my new favorite things) and when I came back Gracie Cat was sitting on the laptop like a nesting hen and my post was completely gone. It's an allegory.  Oh yes, it is.

Without all the navel-gazing philosophy (not that there's anything wrong with that) what my post said is this: I need to get my shit together.  I've been faced with daunting tasks that should've overwhelmed me before and I got through those just fine.  Like when I peeled the ugly off of the outside of my house--two years and 40 bags of cedar shingles later, and there we were.  Or when my son and I decided to demolish the ugly 1960s porch and he accidentally set it on fire a few weeks before we made a giant engineering mistake that caused the whole thing to fall out into the yard and nearly crush us and our friend Steve.  All's well that ends well.  Back then I wasn't fearless (my bravado in the face of haters notwithstanding) but I went ahead and did something anyway, even though I was scared or nervous or not exactly sure how to get from Point A to Point B.  I did it.  I figured it out and I got through it.  It's not in my nature to be overwhelmed and timid but somewhere between losing WTB a couple of years ago, and then getting laid off, and then having a Greek-fucking-tragedy of a year in 2015 that's exactly what I became.  So now, I need to get my shit together.

Yep, like that.  More specifically, by actually doing something instead of saying with a sigh that I ought to do something.  There are three medium-to-large projects that I still either want or need to do around here (refinishing two floors, redoing the square bathroom, and finishing the side porch) and one extra-large thing  (my bedroom, previously known as That Thing We Don't Talk About) but all the other big stuff is done.  (Until something goes wrong or falls apart.) There are probably a dozen little jobs that need to be done, things that are free or nearly free and just need a combination of days off, motivation, and good weather to be completed.  None of it has a deadline.  

So I have plans.  Plans to get an idea of the total cost of each of those things I just mentioned, then decide which one's the most doable based on money, difficulty, and necessity, and then chop that big project into a whole bunch of smaller projects that I can dole out to myself over time.  In between, I'll do some of those little things to give myself small victories.  Here goes.