Tag Archives: construction

Doing It… Doing It… DONE!

We did it!  Or, to be precise, we’re doing it right at the moment this post is being published.

Wait; get that look off your face!  We’re not ‘doing it’; we’re doing ‘IT’:  That is, moving into our finally-at-last-thank-God-could-it-possibly-have-taken-ANY-BLOODY-LONGER?!? much-anticipated and mostly-complete second floor (we still have to hang doors and do some finish carpentry).  As of 9:00 this morning, the movers are hauling all my office, fitness, sewing, and art equipment, along with Hubby’s N-scale model train layout and all his astronomy gear, out of the garage and into its final home upstairs.

Are we relieved?  OH HELL YES!!!

Are we still sane?

Not even close.

Our intellectual capacity has diminished to the point where we can’t retain even the most basic snippets of information for more than ten seconds.  Our most frequent conversation for the past couple of weeks has been:

“What about (fill in construction question)?”

“Are you really asking me that?!?  I just told you half an hour ago!”

“You did not.”

“Did too!”

“Did not!”

“Did too…”

I’d love to say that it’s all Hubby’s fault because he never listens to me; but I’m not quite sure how that would explain the fact that I’ve done exactly the same thing.  ’Cause I always listen to him.  (Hubby, stop laughing.)  Maybe we’re simultaneously developing acute dementia caused by paint fumes.

I’m so brain-dead I can’t even feed myself.  When the building inspector departed after giving us a passing grade on our final inspection, I allowed myself a celebratory Lindt truffle (or maybe several; but I’ll only admit to one).  They’re one of my favourite indulgences:  An oh-so-smooth-and-delicious soft chocolate centre enclosed in a chocolate sphere and wrapped in pretty foil.

So I peeled off the foil and put it into my mouth.  The foil, not the chocolate.  Seriously; if I had to take a mental competence test right now, they’d lock me up so fast I wouldn’t even have time to yell, “Hey, where’s my truffle?”

I’ve also developed an unnerving tendency to forget where I’m going and why; resulting in a scenario where I stop in my tracks, thump my forehead, and mutter, “Come on, brain, you can do this.”  (For the record:  It can’t.)

But I can hardly wait to unpack and settle into a period of blissful normalcy… at least until our budget recovers enough that we can afford to install flooring up there instead of the painted plywood we have now.  Then the renovation insanity will begin all over again; but we’re both so heartily sick of construction that there’s an excellent chance we’ll put off installing flooring for another ten years.  Maybe longer.

Or maybe we’ll just wait until the trauma fades; which, given the current state of my short-term memory, could be as early as next week.

Anyhow, I’m looking forward to resuming my life now that I no longer have to spend every spare moment either thinking about or doing construction.  We’re done!  HOORAY!!!

*does happy dance*

And in other news… I just hit the halfway point on Book 13 – woohoo!  Now I’m looking forward to having some quality time to bomb ahead with it.

*does another happy dance*

Here’s the grand unveiling of my new workspace:

Looking east (gym and art studio, with Hubby's gear in the area down the hall). The wooden base on the left is the beginning of a bookshelf. Just... one... more... thing... to... do...

Looking east (gym and art studio, with Hubby’s gear in the area down the hall). The wooden base on the left is the beginning of a bookshelf. Just… one… more… thing… to… do…

Looking west (sewing room and office overlooking the rhododendron garden-to-be)

Looking west (sewing room and office overlooking the rhododendron garden-to-be)

 

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Paint, Lies, and False Optimism

We’re close.  We’re sooooo close…

You may think that first sentence should end with “…to insanity” but in truth, our sanity fled a long time ago.

No; we’re close to finally finishing our second floor renovation… if by ‘close’ you read “we only have to paint three walls and half the floor, install the shower doors, buy four sets of bifold doors and install them, hang a bathroom door, build storage shelves and a twenty-four-foot bookcase, and trim out six doors, four windows, and two skylights”.

Honestly, we’re almost done!  …Or we’re delusional.  It’s one of those D-words; but ‘delusional’ is so harsh.  I prefer ‘optimistic’.

You may recall that I confessed my antipathy to painting back in May when I ended up painting our exterior trim.  Shortly thereafter, we tried to hire a painter to do our interior work.

The original painter who did our addition was the messiest painter I’ve ever seen.  By the time he was finished there was paint everywhere, all over our new flooring and even on the door handles; and he seemed to think that was perfectly okay.  We didn’t call him back.

After a lengthy search we found a second painter who thought he could fit us in.  He showed up, gave us an astronomical quote, and then vanished after we asked when he could start.

So we found a third.  He showed up, gave us a reasonable quote, and said he could start the following week… and then vanished.  (I heard a rumour that he was fleeing three ex-wives and a soon-to-be-ex fourth.)

So we tracked down the second painter again.  We waited a month until he finally showed up and started painting… and then he had a tantrum and walked off the job after doing only two rooms (badly).

By then I was out of time and patience, so I did it myself (despite the fact that I REALLY HATE PAINTING).  It was a slow process, but it looked surprisingly good when I was finished.

So for the second floor, we didn’t even bother trying to hire somebody.  “I’ll do it,” I said to Hubby.  “Even though I REALLY HATE PAINTING.”

“Should we do the floor last?” he asked.  “Just in case you drip?”

“I never drip,” I said proudly.  “I’m a very tidy painter.”

Well.

I guess I can’t blame our ex-painters for being flaky, because apparently there’s something in latex paint that turns people into liars and/or nutjobs and/or destroys their hand-eye coordination.

Last summer I painted without a dropcloth and never had a problem; but now?  Good Lord.  I have paint on the floor, the ladders, my clothes, and every part of my body that isn’t covered by clothes, including my hair.  When I’m finally finished upstairs, I’m going to frame my jeans and market them as a modern art piece.  (On the upside, the walls and ceiling are pristine; and thanks to Hubby’s foresight we’re painting the floor last.)

But slow?  I’m positively glacial.  With emphasis on ‘positively’; as in ‘falsely optimistic’.  Before I started, I thought, “Ah, I’ll be done in a few days.”  I’ve been painting six hours a day for two weeks and I’m still not done.

But I’m close.

I’m sooooo close…

*cuddles into straitjacket and rocks back and forth, humming*

Did I mention I REALLY HATE PAINTING?

To be fair, that mess isn’t all from mistakes – I also clean the end of my small roller on my pants because it’s easier than finding a rag. But still…

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Unpredictably Predictive

This week I was delighted to discover that computers are now capable of writing stories for us using predictive text. I had already suspected as much, since these days my iPhone can pretty much compose text messages all by itself. If I type “Are…”, it will automatically fill in “…you still coming today?”

This is an unavoidable result of dealing with contractors who are genetically incapable of showing up as promised; and it also proves that my iPhone is at least as smart as they are.

Um… no, I’m not bitter; why do you ask?

Anyhow, back to predictive-text stories: Botnik Studios fed all seven volumes of Harry Potter to their computer, and then turned it loose to write the next great Harry Potter saga.

Amazingly, the computer did create a story that has taken the internet by storm. Not because it’s so good, but because it’s so hilariously bad. Check out “Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash”.

Better still, talented artist Megan Nicole Dong couldn’t resist the challenge of illustrating the particularly bizarre bits.

Inspired, I turned to my iPhone. Surely it had the world’s next bestseller locked away in its little electronic brain!

Here is its magnum opus:

I don’t know what to tell you about the other day but we’re not going to get any more time. Officially the best thing to do is to get a new job. Jobless claims are still coming up in a couple of months but I haven’t been able to make any changes to the company.

I forgot to ask you about the foundation of your job and how to make it work. The next time we have to make sure you get the house. The beams are not going to make it any better than the last time I had a chance to look at it and I haven’t done anything for the last week. I want to see what we can do to get the job done.

I admit I was disappointed in its painfully dry prose; but at least the whole composition was more coherent than a lot of business memos I’ve seen.

Moving on from ‘predictive’ to ‘predictable’… Christmas holidays are here again!

And that means I’m going to skip next week’s blog post so I have time to remove a few pounds of dust from Every. Single. Surface. In the house.  Including the Christmas tree, all the Christmas decorations, and the (formerly nicely) wrapped gifts, because the contractors (who were supposed to finish a month ago) exploded Dustpocalypse in our house the day before our houseguests were due to arriveGRRR!!!

*breathes deeply through a dust mask for a few minutes*

Okay, I’m all better now.  Ish.

I’ll also be taking time to prepare some festive calorie-laden goodies for my guests.  With any luck I’ll be able to keep the dusting separate from the cooking; but if not, at least I’ll be serving high fibre (if oddly-flavoured) meals.

Merry Christmas to those who observe it; and whatever your December traditions may be, I wish you joy, comfort, peace, and prosperity.

‘See’ you on January 3, 2018!

 

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Do Ya Feel Lucky, Punk?

It’s been an interesting week… if by ‘interesting’ you mean ‘a blood-pressure-spiking, rant-inducing tragicomedy of ridiculousness’.

Or in other words:  ‘Same-old, same-old’.

We started the process for our second floor renovation in early August, reasoning that two and a half months was lots of time to get a permit, frame a storage closet and a bathroom, and insulate before the weather turned cold.  I sealed my doom by signing up for a six-week watercolour course to begin in mid-October, because the construction would be done by then, right?

Ha.  I reckoned without the glacial pace of structural engineers and bureaucracy.

Last week when we were rushing around getting ready for the framing inspection (we did the framing ourselves), I finally lost my grip… on everything from my paintbrush to my temper.

In our last watercolour class I had foolishly bravely decided to paint along with the instructor.  I didn’t expect great results; but what the heck, if you don’t try, you’ll never know, right?

I actually did okay for a while.  I laid in washes for sky and water, and underpainted my trees… and then my coordination short-circuited and my paintbrush (loaded with brown pigment) flipped out of my hand and bounced… not once; but twice… onto my painting.

Two gigantic dark-brown turds splotched down in the middle of my misty landscape.

I burst into uproarious laughter.

Taking their cue from my continuing chuckles, the rest of the class converged to giggle and cheer me on while I tried to convert my turds into dock pilings jutting out of the water.

I failed, but at least we all had a good laugh.

In between construction and turd-painting I’ve also been hard at work on Book 13, and apparently I need new reading glasses.  For a few days a muscle under my right eye twitched wildly, making me look like a female version of Dirty Harry on speed.

That turned out to be fitting, because when I discovered water puddling on our floor from a leaky door, I completely lost my shit and fired off… *ahem* …a strongly-worded missive1 to our home-builder, who has been ignoring my deficiency reports since May.  I doubt if it did any good, but at least it relieved my feelings.

After that banner week, I couldn’t help snickering in anticipation of comedic disaster when I looked into my kitchen junk drawer.  It contains everything from screwdrivers to matches to notepads… and also a tube of lip balm, a black Sharpie marker, and a Tide pen all in the same convenient compartment.

Now, what could possibly go wrong?

So if you hear about a woman who accidentally poisoned herself by using a Tide pen instead of lip balm, you’ll know who it was.  Or who knows?  I might unwittingly use the Sharpie to enhance my Dirty Harry image with a permanent black moustache.

So whenever I make a blind grab for that tube of lip balm, I have to ask myself:  “Do ya feel lucky, punk?  Well… do ya?”

*

1 Even though I really wanted to fill that email with enough profanity to make their eyes bleed, I didn’t use any swearwords at all.  Aren’t you proud of me?

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Contractor’s Contractions

If you’ve ever tried to renovate during an insane housing boom, you know exactly what we’ve been going through for the past year.  But if you’re blissfully unfamiliar with that situation, I’m here to tell you that contractors use a special language full of shorthand and contractions; and after a year of tearing my hair out I’ve finally learned to interpret the local dialect.

Here are some common phrases and their translations:

“I’ll be your project manager and take care of everything.”:  “I’ll collect $1500 per month from you and ignore your job entirely unless you call and nag me every day.  If I do actually get involved, it will be to obstruct progress by telling all the trades that I’m the sole point of contact and then dropping off the face of the earth.”

“You can have anything you want…”:  “…as long as it’s one of our three substandard stock items.”

“We can have that in for you by Friday…”:  “…two months from now.”

“Yep, we can do that no problem.”:  “We’ve been promising that we can do it for the past three months; but now that it’s time for us to actually show up and do the work, we can’t do it after all.  You’ll have to find somebody else and sit on their waiting list for another three months.”

“That’s impossible.”:  “That’s not the cheap-ass way we want to do it.”

“This is prepped all wrong.  Whoever did it was an idiot*.”:  “I’m going to charge you extra.”
*Any trade not currently on site will be blamed for shoddy workmanship regardless of the actual quality of the work.

“I’ll drop by and do an estimate and get right back to you…”:  “…when hell freezes over.”

“I’ll be there Tuesday at nine AM…”:  “…or maybe noon.  Or maybe sometime Wednesday.  Or I might not come at all; but the one thing you can count on is that I won’t call to tell you.”

“I’ve just got a couple of days left on my current job and then you’re next in line…”:  “…after I take the money from my last job and go on a three-week bender, and then do ‘a quick job for a friend’ that takes another two months.  But right after that, you’re next… ish.”

“I have to leave for another job, but don’t worry; you can get anybody to finish these last couple of details for you.”:  “I’ve made a fundamental mistake in my work and I can’t finish unless I tear it out and redo it.  And that ain’t happenin’, so sayonara, suckahs!”

“I’ll charge hourly.”:  “I’ll hide in my truck talking on my cell phone for hours at a time and hope you won’t notice when I bill you for it.”

“I know that’s what the building code requires, but as long as you don’t get a permit or an inspection we can do it my way for a lot cheaper.”:  This means exactly what you think it means:  RUN AWAY!

Unfortunately, being able to translate these phrases accomplishes nothing except to adjust my expectations far below what I would normally consider sub-par.  And even my adjusted expectations are turning out to be wildly optimistic.

So if you’re looking for me, I’ll be the bald chick in the corner muttering profanities to empty air and yanking on my last two remaining hairs.

But at least I speak the language now.

*

P.S.  I learned these phrases the hard way this year but, to be fair, we’ve also had some excellent tradesmen who were professional and reliable.  But after two separate miscreants bailed on us this week after promising us the world for months, I was just a leetle cranky.  I’m all better now.  Ish…

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Jusht An Ash Hole

I was on the phone with my step-mom the other day when the conversation turned to my messy painting habits, and I confessed that by now I have paint on my jacket, shoes, jeans, and even my socks.

My step-mom expressed concern about my jacket, but I assured her, “Oh, no, it’s only my old camping jacket.  It’s ancient and full of ash holes from sitting around the campfire.”

I should have known she wouldn’t let me get away with that.  She hesitated, then let me have it:  “Are you saying there’s an ash hole in your jacket?  So who’s the ash hole?”

Needless to say, I laughed my ash off.

And I was ready for a good laugh, because my patience with the construction process is wearing thin.

But… *drumroll please* …we might get the all-important Occupancy Permit in a few days!

These days Hubby and I utter the words “Occupancy Permit” in the same way one might say “Holy Grail”: with capital letters and in a hushed tone of awe.  The other day our neighbour’s truck went by towing a flatbed trailer with an oak dining room suite on it, and Hubby said, “Mike got his Occupancy Permit last week.”

I sighed with the same hopeless desire as if I’d just found out Mike had won $50 million in the lottery.

Wait, no.  If he’d won $50 million I’d be pleased as punch for him.  But an Occupancy Permit?  I admit it:  I’m rabidly envious.  Imagine, an actual dining table and chairs.  And a kitchen to cook real food instead of microwaving plastic prepared stuff.

And maybe… dare I even think it?  *whispers* A dresser and a closet.  We’ve been living out of suitcases for so long I can’t even remember if I have other clothes besides the same fourteen T-shirts I’ve been wearing over and over for the past five months.

But despite my limited sartorial options, I’ve discovered that no matter how few clothes you have in your suitcase, the item you want will always be at the bottom.  And when you have multiple T-shirts of approximately the same colour, you will have to unfold each and every one of them before you finally find the one you want.

And socks?  I’ve previously speculated that socks are the work of evil; and their behaviour in my suitcase confirms it.  No matter how carefully I pair and arrange them so the best ones are on top, the sock imps rampage through my suitcase at night, pulling pairs apart and hiding the best socks in odd corners while moving the second-string ones to the top.

Here’s proof:  My painting shoes have holes in them.  Ergo, I have a pair of socks with blue paint on the toes.  How many times do you think I’ve pulled that pair out of my suitcase thinking they were good socks?

Yep, you guessed it.  Every… single… time!  This despite the fact that each time I find them, I push them back to the bottom of the suitcase.

So, between the malevolent sock imps and the irritation of STILL not having a finished house, I’m a woman on the edge.  If we don’t get our Occupancy Permit by next week, I’m gonna put on my ash hole jacket and start kickin’ ash!

Am I the only one with sock imps in my suitcase?

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Progress…

This was us yesterday:

It wasn’t a new phone book that got us all excited, though; it was our new house!  (Or at least part of it.)

If you’re visiting for the first time, here’s a bit of background:  After living in Calgary, Alberta for 30 years or so, we finally decided to make a move to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.  We bought land near Qualicum Beach in September of 2016, and for the past three months we’ve been living in a hotel while our house is being built.

We didn’t have the time or budget to build from scratch, so we decided to go with a modular home on a crawl space:  an innovative Cape Cod style from Gordon’s Homes in Nanaimo, BC.  (Ours is actually a little larger than the one in their photos).  Then we’re going to add on a main entrance/mudroom and a garage and workshop.

The site clearing, excavation, and concrete pouring have been exciting to watch… but seeing the two halves of the modular arrive yesterday was a real thrill!  Now they’ll install the three second-storey dormers (those will go on today), do the last of the interior finishing, and build on the additions.

Here are some photos of our progress to date.  Only a few more weeks ‘til we can move in! (Fingers crossed.)  🙂

Back in September, before we started

We have REALLY big gophers…

Forms for the perimeter footings

Hubby’s handiwork in one of the footings

The crawl space poured and backfilled

The crawl space insulated and ready for the house at 7:30 AM

And here it comes…

Part 1

Part 2

The roof unfolds just like opening a box. (Okay, maybe a bit more complicated.)

Most of the interior finishing is already done at the factory

Here’s how we left it for the day, only 11 hours later

…but we’re sure going to miss this view when we move! At least it’ll only be 15 minutes away.

 

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Who’s On First?

Sometimes I wonder if Hubby and I are being secretly videotaped for someone’s sick amusement while they punk us over and over.  Fortunately nothing catastrophic has happened yet, but we feel like poster children for Murphy’s Law.

Here’s the latest:

When Hubby researched the process for bringing electricity to our building site, it seemed fairly simple:  Get a homeowner’s permit, put in a power pole with a breaker box and meter, and get an electrical inspection.

Instead, it’s been an exchange worthy of Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s On First” (although not quite as amusing to us):

Hubby:  *double-checking with the electrical inspector* “So, I can put in a pole and breaker box…”

Inspector:  “No.”

Hubby:  “But that’s what the National Electrical Code says.”

Inspector:  “This is BC.  That’s not acceptable here.”

Hubby:  “Ooookay.”  *spends a week researching alternatives, then calls back with questions and ends up talking to a different inspector*

Inspector #2:  “…well, yeah, you could do those alternatives, but why don’t you just put in a pole?  It’s cheaper.”

Hubby:  “Because Inspector #1 told me I couldn’t.”

Inspector #2:  “Oh, no, he’s wrong.  All you need is a Class 6 pole with a guy wire.  You can get that at Windsor Plywood.”

Hubby: *calling Windsor Plywood in foolish hope*  “Do you sell Class 6 poles?”

WP:  “No, we only have Class 5 poles.”

Hubby:  “The inspector said I needed a Class 6 pole.  Any idea where I can get one?”

WP:  “No.”

Hubby:  “Do you sell the guy-wire kit?”

WP:  “No.”

Hubby:  *spends days calling around before giving up and phoning an electrical contractor*  “How much would you charge to supply and install a Class 6 pole and guy wires?”

Contractor:  “We only install Class 5 poles, and they don’t need guy wires.”

Hubby: *calling Inspector #2* “Can I use a Class 5 pole without guy wires?”

Inspector #2:  “Sure, that’s better than a Class 6.”

Hubby:  *facepalm*

Hubby:  *calling electrical supply store* “Hi, do you sell retail to the public?”

Store:  “Sure.”

Hubby:  *walks into store*  “Hi, I’d like to buy a breaker box…”

Store owner:  “We don’t sell to the public.”

Hubby:  “But I called your head office and they said…”

Owner:  “I don’t care what they said, I won’t sell to you.  I have to protect my contractors.”

Hubby: *walks out muttering and calls the head office* “You said you’d sell to the public, but the guy in the Parksville store refuses to sell to me.”

Store:  “Oh.  Hold on…” *returns to the line*  “Yes, sorry; each store makes their own policy decisions.”

Hubby, speaking slowly and evenly:  “Do… you… have… a… store… that… will… sell… to… me?”

Store:  “I think the Courtenay store (an hour and a half in the opposite direction) will.  Here’s their number…

Hubby:  *calling the Courtenay store* “Do you sell retail to the public?”

Courtenay:  “Sure.”

Hubby hasn’t gone up there yet, but he’s braced to walk into the store and discover that:

  1. the guy he was talking to just got fired; and/or
  2. they changed their policy two days ago and now they don’t sell to the public; and/or
  3. the store sells to everybody except ex-Albertans who look like him; and/or
  4. they gave him the wrong number and he was in fact talking to the store in Victoria (3.5 hours in the opposite direction to Courtenay).

I’m waiting for the next chapter in the saga, but meanwhile… Who’s on first?

 

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What’s That Rusty Colour?

A few years ago I confessed my lack of regard for fine distinctions in paint colour, and I should have known it would come back to bite me in the ass.

This week I’ve been doing some touchups around the house.  Nothing big – a couple of swipes of drywall compound, light sanding, and a feathering of paint to blend in the patch.

I’ve done it dozens of times over the years and usually it’s easy.  But sometimes the stars and planets misalign and the patron saint of painting goes on a bender and can’t be roused from the hangover.  Then everything that can go wrong, does; and several things that couldn’t possibly go wrong, do anyway.

The drywall repairs went smoothly (pun intended).  Then I trotted out to the garage to find the leftover house paints, which were all labelled, colour-matched, and ready to go (I thought).

I decided to start with the small patch on the bathroom ceiling.  There were two paint cans, both labelled ‘flat white ceiling paint’.  Fine.  I optimistically pried the lid off one, mixed it, and applied a test swatch.

It wasn’t white.  Nowhere near.  Nope, it was an odd rusty colour.

I repeated the process with the second can.

Same weird colour.

I was beginning to question my own sanity when I realized the rusty colour was spreading like some vile algae on the test swatch.

Yep, there were rust flakes in the paint.  I’d like to say ‘I’ll never understand why paint comes in cans that rust and wreck the paint ten seconds after you open them’, but the truth is I do understand.  It’s a diabolical scheme to force us to go out and buy a whole new batch of paint for every single project, no matter how minor.

So I succumbed to the inevitable and headed for the paint store.  Little did I know that my karmic debt was about to be called in, with interest and penalties:

  • I was in a hurry (first mistake) so I asked the paint person for a quart of flat white ceiling paint, took the can she handed me, paid, and left.
  • She screwed up. It was untinted neutral base, which is translucent.  Back to the store, stand in the returns lineup, then go back to the paint department.
  • Decide to get drywall primer instead, thinking that’s what I had used as a finish coat last time anyway. (Second mistake:  relying on my shitty memory.)
  • Discover the drywall primer is also translucent. Back to the paint store.
  • Find FLAT WHITE CEILING PAINT. They don’t have any quarts; only gallons.
  • Buy a gallon of paint (approximately 20 times what I need for my small patch) because it’s only $7 more than a quart, and I’d spend more than that in gas, time, and annoyance going somewhere else.
  • Take the paint home, open it, ascertain that it is in fact the right paint and the right colour.
  • Paint over my patch and feather the edges onto the existing painted ceiling, finally accomplishing the ten minutes of work that I set out to do about eight hours ago.
  • Go to bed, not exactly happy but at least relieved.
  • Wake up the next morning to discover the new paint has dried to a different shade of white than the original, so now I have to repaint the entire ceiling.
  • Slit my wrists, staining the ceiling a very unpleasant rusty colour indeed…

How was your week?

P.S. I’ll be away from the internet most of the day today, so I’ll catch up with comments as soon as I can in the evening or tomorrow.  ‘Talk’ to you then!

New discussion over at the VBBC:  Is John selfish or supportive?  Click here to have your say!

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