Tag Archives: renovations

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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It’s Just ‘Pain’ With A ‘T’

I’ve been doing quite a bit of painting on our new house, and I’m here to tell you that the root word of ‘paint’ is ‘pain’.

But I’m practically a painting guru now, so as a public service I’m sharing my very best answers to common DIY painting questions:

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Q:  When using a roller, how much paint should I put in my tray?

A:  How much do you want to mop up?

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Q:  What is ‘cutting in’?

A:  ‘Cutting in’ means using a paintbrush to create a sharp accurate edge, which you can then completely wreck with the paint roller.

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Q:  What is the best technique for cutting in?

A:  Inhale, then touch down the brush and slowly exhale while you stroke smoothly down the edge. This steadies your hand, and conveniently conserves your breath for swearing after you get paint all over everything.

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Q:  Should I apply masking tape before cutting in to keep my edges sharp and clean?

A:  Absolutely!  There’s nothing more fulfilling than spending hours painstakingly applying masking tape, only to remove it and discover that the paint has seeped under it and dried, and/or the tape has peeled the original paint off the wall.

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Q:  What is the best way to clean up a small paint spill?

A:  There are no small paint spills.  Even though it takes a gallon of paint to do a tiny room, a single drop of spilled paint is capable of spreading over a thousand square feet.

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Q:  So many types of paint!  What kind should I buy?

A:  Just pick one at random.  Whichever you choose, it’s guaranteed to be the wrong type for your project; even if you’ve described your project in detail to a professional paint seller and bought exactly what they recommended.

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Q:  What is the best cloth for wiping up drips?

A:  Whatever you’re wearing at the time.  You can try a special clean-up cloth if you want, but your clothes are still going to look like paint rags by the time you’re done.

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Q:  How can I choose a colour I’ll like from those little paint chips?

A:  You can’t.  You need to paint three-foot swatches of the colours you’re considering.  Then, after agonizing for days over the subtle differences between ten shades of the same colour, you’ll feel confident when you finally choose the perfect one… which will last until you paint the room and discover that it looks entirely different than the chip or the swatch.

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Q:  How much paint do I need?

A:  Half a cup more than you bought.

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Q:  Design magazines recommend choosing colours from a colour group so they’ll look nice together.  What are the colour groups?

A:  There are two basic colour groups:  “Muted” and “Clear”.  Muted colours fade into dismal anonymity and look as though they’ve all been mixed with mud; and clear colours leap off the wall with super-saturated brilliance that hurts your eyes and causes psychotic episodes if you stay in the room too long.  All paint colours belong to one group or the other; and you won’t know which you’ve got until it’s too late.

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Q:  What’s the best way to use a dropcloth?

A:  Spread it out in a nice grassy area and anchor it with a cooler full of alcoholic beverages.  Recline and enjoy a cold one… or several.  Trust me, it’s far better than trying to use the dropcloth to keep paint off your floors and furniture.

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What are your best painting tips?

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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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Um… Hello, 911…?

…I think I just killed my husband… with a bathtub…

I came very close to speaking those words several years ago, and yes, you did read that first sentence correctly. ‘With’; not ‘in’. After all, killing one’s husband in a bathtub is practically a cliché, and you know I’d never stoop to that.

When we bought our house, the upstairs bathroom had a ‘cultured marble’ (read ‘concrete finished to look like marble’) jetted tub.  If we didn’t remember to run the jets frequently it spat stinking gouts of slime because there was no way to drain the stagnant water from the lines. It was ugly, as cold as stone (go figure) and poorly insulated on an exterior wall. In winter my ass froze on the bottom of the tub no matter how hot the water was.

It had to go.

Our plumber friend surveyed it and advised, “That thing probably weighs nearly two hundred pounds. Break it up with a sledgehammer and take it out in pieces.” (Gary, if you’re reading this: We should have listened to you.)

We didn’t, of course.

No; the tub was in good shape. Somebody else might be able to use it. It must be salvaged!

We’re both strong, so removing it wasn’t too difficult. We extricated it from the bathroom with a modicum of sweat and profanity and lugged it to the top of the stairs.  There we balanced it precariously overhanging the stairs, and I went down to support it from below while Hubby held it from the landing above.

I eyed the teetering monstrosity looming over me and said, “I think we should wait until after lunch to do this. My blood sugar is low and I don’t know if I can hold this thing.”

And Hubby said, “That’s okay, I’ll take the bottom and you can take the top.”

We swapped positions and I quavered, “I think we might be solving the wrong problem here…”

And we were. Oh, yes, we were.

Have I mentioned that cultured marble is slippery?

As soon as the tub tipped past its centre of balance, it wrenched out of my grasp. I had only enough time to yelp, “I can’t hold it!” before it hurtled down the stairs like a murderous toboggan with Hubby underneath it.

The lower landing sported an oak railing and (luckily) a 90-degree bend in the stairs.

The tub hit the landing and slammed into the railing. The railing let out a hellish crack and tore loose from the wall but miraculously held at a crazy angle, barely preventing the tub from shooting over the edge and plunging through the living room floor below.

Frozen, I gaped down at the scene of the crime: The tub (still in one piece); the broken railing; Hubby squished underneath.

And I thought, “Shit, I just killed my husband with a bathtub.”

I hadn’t, fortunately. He was smart enough to let it carry him down instead of trying to stop it, so he escaped with only a few minor bruises. After I’d eaten some lunch and stopped shaking, we anticlimactically carried it down the remaining stairs, and we did eventually sell it.

But I’ll never forget the horror of those few moments.

Any bulldozing bathtubs of doom in your family tales?

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Optimism Or Idiocy?

This week, I’m diving into uncharted waters – again.  It seems for every new situation that arises in my business or personal life, I acquire another three skills I never wanted to have.  But does that make me say, “Oh, wait, I don’t know how to do that; maybe I should get some help”?

Oh, hell, no.

‘Cause that would be sensible.

No, my response looks more like this:  “Sure, I can do that.  No problem.  Is Wednesday okay?”  *scuttles frantically back to computer to research arcane topic*

Last week, I learned basic ASP programming in an afternoon.  It wasn’t one of the more enjoyable afternoons I’ve ever spent, but I got my web forms working.

This week, I’ve been reading up on discretionary trusts, crash-safety specs on 2012 SUVs, and how to get rid of pocket gophers.  Frankly, rodent eradication has been the most relaxing and enjoyable part of my research.  Those little bastards have been decimating my carrots.  Messing with my garden is a killin’ offense.

…aaaand now that I’ve invited flaming hate mail from gopher-lovers…

Most people would consider my jump-in-with-both-feet approach to be at best, a liability, and at worst, sheer idiocy.  I prefer to call it “optimism”.  After all, I’m living proof that too much prep time isn’t necessarily a good thing.  My only colossal failures occurred after years of training and/or preparation:  my first career and my first marriage.

I dated my now-ex-husband six years before I married him, and my bachelor’s degree in interior design took four years to acquire, plus the extra two years it took for me to wrangle my failing thesis through the appeals process.  As long as I cheerfully disregard the delicate issue of innate competence (and I do, oh yes I do), the cause of my failure in both cases was obviously “too much preparation”.

Since those massive failures, I’ve flown by the seat of my pants for everything from becoming a computer geek to installing granite floors to developing the optimum recipe for banana bread.  And everything has worked out pretty well (including my second career and second marriage).

Thank goodness for my enabler:  that source of great wisdom, pure bullshit, and occasionally, useful instructions – the internet.  With the internet on my side, it’s actually possible to take on a ridiculously unrealistic challenge and come out smelling, if not like a rose, at least not like a skunk cabbage.

Problem is, I’ve been cursed with an unholy combination of do-it-yourself-ism and perfectionism.  I don’t just jump in and do it, I jump in and want to do it well.  I expect to come out smelling like a rose.

Which brings us back to that “optimism” thing again.  Some may use the word “delusional”, but… pshaw.  What do they know?

I realize this approach sets me up for more colossal failures.  I can sense their vile miasma hovering just behind my left shoulder.  Fortunately, I’m right-handed.  My plan is to keep moving so fast that failure doesn’t have a chance to catch up.

And I don’t mind if people call it idiocy – I’m happy in my delusional little world.  ‘Cause it has nice granite floors…

The house Delusion built.

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