Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Porchish Pictures

The new porch will be finished on Thursday. We had to again evacuate the birds from the living room as the stench of Spantex was close to overwhelming their wee birdie respiratory systems. Progress as of yesterday:

Now, I'm undecided about paint on the porch. Christian quickly photoshopped in white on the rail and columns, and you'll have to imagine this with white on the stair risers, too:

The wood is still vaguely flesh-toned, but will be the same white as the trim in the end. I kind of want the painting to look like this, though:

Remember, white risers, not red. I just don't know.

I brought this on myself.

I'm a firm believer in equal treatment for everyone, meaning that money shouldn't buy better medical care or easier access to it, so I completely deserve the ridiculous hoops I've had to jump through to get an appointment to have my ankle examined, that poor little joint that was injured as a parting shot from the Levaquin, the antibiotic that should be used as a torture mechanism in third world terrorism campaigns. I called the foot and ankle clinic in the medical system where I work, and they told me that they were a referral clinic only, and that their coordinators would have to contact my physican's office to get said referral and then they would call me back to make an appointment. Well, I gave them all the info, called the other hospital, Northwest, where I had been seen for the infection that started it all, asked them to send my files and waited to hear back.

A week later, nothing.

I called today and was told that I couldn't be seen because there was no referral yet. Now, the same person I spoke with first time was the one I spoke with this time, and she told me that they would get the referral for me, but I had emailed my doctor just in case to cover all the bases. Alas, no referral. No call, no email, no scribbled post it note, nothing. I called my doctor's office, was transferred to the wrong person and then was told by the right person that my doctor hadn't been answering his emails so he must be out of town and it would take at least three weeks to get into the foot and ankle clinic anyway. She actually told me that they were referring patients out of the system. So, I called Northwest Hospital's ortho group, and the cheerful woman who immediately answered the phone asked me my name and number and said, "Well, we can see you this Thursday. Is that soon enough?" "Yes," I said, "and I love you."

Monday, August 28, 2006

TLOH Part Deux with Pictures

Why am I not embedding my pictures in the original post? Because Blogger is out to get me, that's why.



I also found this whopper of a picture from when we first bought the house:

And this is how it looks now:

Of course, it's still not done, but those hideous old windows? So thrilled they've gone to their final reward.

TLOH Part Deux

I don't know what we've done either in this life or in previous lives to deserve the friends and family we somehow have surrounding us. In two tortuous weeks, we went from white trash to respectable, and without them all we'd still be buying old cars to fix them up but not getting around to it and leaving them on the lawn on cinderblocks and sitting on our crumbling porch scratching the heads of the Bumpus hounds and Christian would never have gotten out of that wife-beater. As it was, I had to pry the shotgun out of his left hand and the Schmidt out of his right.

In the four years we've lived in the house, we've refinished or replaced floors, repainted every interior surface but those in the rooms that will be remodeled, replaced all of the windows, rebuilt the porch and now repainted the house. We've spent $20,000 for all of this, mostly because we have the most amazing work crew at our disposal. It would have cost us at least twice as much to do all of these things with a contractor. Of course, we didn't install the windows ourselves as we'd have to be HIGH to do so, but the rest of it we either did or helped to do.

Christian and I worked almost every night last week after our day jobs to get the house ready for the actual paint. But, I was full of despair and chagrin last Friday, when, after working for six straight hours with Tara and Christian, the house didn't seem to be any further along. Painting white trim on white primer is pathetically anticlimactic. Our house looked like a marshmallow. On Saturday morning, I had the obligatory mini-meltdown in which I stood in the garage and cried for a few minutes over the rollers and brushes that seemed to multiply as though they were in a house painting version of the movie Gremlins until I couldn't find anything under the piles of tinfoil wrapped, oil painted and ruined rollers and I couldn't possibly foresee how the tragic disaster that was the garage and driveway could ever be clean again, and how was the house going to get painted before I died and if you've met me you can imagine this scene better than if it had been videotaped.

I started painting on the shady side of the house at about 9:30 after making a doughnut run for everyone who said they'd be helping, even though I simply couldn't believe that anyone would give up their weekend, so imagine my wonderment when Chris, Angie and Rich arrived, clothed in their painterly togs ready to grapple with the unimaginable: putting two layers of paint on our entire house, eaves included, in two days. Thank God that C&A painted their house two years ago and the paint job on the inside of their house is far more impressive than any museum exhibit of mid-century modern art, and their art is painted onto the walls instead of hanging from them, because man, are they good at both detail work and rollering. As both Angie and I are gimpy right now, we left it to the boys to scale the scaffolding and paint the difficult areas and we rollered over acres of lap siding. Those little pink rollers that have the button end and fit onto the handle that is the perfect width of the siding? I want to marry them. They shall be my new husband. They're the right shape and everything. Oh yeah. Something else? Apparently, when I'm tired and punchy, I have no inhibitions and will talk about things that would mortify me at any other time. Just for future reference. Anyway, Christian is glad that he never got rid of his javelin spikes, as they were the only thing between him and certain death from a fall of the roof of the kitchen.

I'm still not happy with the underside of the eaves as we couldn't sand them due to the difficult angle, so they're flaky-looking, but when we replace our roof, we'll be able to soffitize them. This weekend, we'll be able to finish the porch including replacing the beadboard on the ceiling and putting a second coat on the areas we couldn't get to because of the construction. The actual porch construction should be finished by Wednesday, when Tara is going to come and clean the utter filth inside our home. You can see my footprints on the dust of my bedroom floor in a little path from the foyer to my bedside to the closet.

I'm now covered in bruises and desperately sunburned on my back and shoulders and I have a big lump on my head from where I dropped the enormous ladder on it in a misguided attempt to move it on my own, but we're almost done, so it doesn't matter anyway as I now have a chance to lie on the couch and moan without having to get up right away and climb a ladder with a possibly useless ankle.

I really do want to take this time to get extremely emotional with everyone and thank:

Mom and Dad
Lynn and Sal
Chris and Angie
Rich and Shelly

and especially my Mooky, who has worked harder than I've ever seen anyone work in my life. You are my hero, sweetie.

And Chris? You can touch Christian inappropriately any time you like. You've earned it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Progress, schmogress.

Working on weeknights on the exterior of the house is about as fruitful as cleaning a bathroom with a toothbrush. We don't have the daylight needed to get anything truly DONE. I'm hoping that Christian will be able to take a chunk out of the primering the east (and last) side today as he's working from home and can paint on his lunch hour and immediately after he finishes working. Once the primering is done, the real painting can begin, and I'm very excited for that. I am imagining what it will look like when it's all done and it makes me very happy.

The porch is looking fantastic:

As Christian said last night, it's so SOLID. I no longer feel as though the stair treads will pop off when I step on them. I mean, they have more than two screws in each, which really broke the bank. Those screws are awfully expensive and I can see why the people who built the last porch only used two per tread and three per plank on the top. That money was so much better spent on the range they bought for $3 at the Sears irregular sale.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

My God, my ass is big.

It can't even be hidden by the GORGEOUS NEW COLUMN on our front porch:

We've read many informative and highly opinionated articles on how best to paint a house, and most of them agree that most energy should be concentrated on prepping "money shots" at eye level. As the ceiling of the porch is visible from everywhere in the yard and is one of the first sights when one ascends the steps, I decided to completely strip it, sand it down to the wood and polyurethane it to keep it the natural wood color. It will nicely compliment the door we'll get eventually when we have money again.

I loooove scraping. Scrape, scrape, scrape! I could scrape all day. The ceiling is a blank canvas of peely goodness. And, if I don't scrape, according to one article, I could be looking at imminent paint failure. Man the lifeboats! The paint, she's going down! And we don't want that.

Monday, August 21, 2006

LOH Pictures

The house before the onslaught:

Note the patch of bare wood to the right of the porch. No one can resist picking at it.

The red on the left, RC (Roycroft Copper) is the main house color.

The third day or so:

Glad I wasn't there to see this one:

Primed and missing the porch:

This Little, Old House

When we first bought our little house, I hated the exterior paint with an intensity rivaled only by my hatred of country music and NASCAR. We knew that it would either cost us an arm and a leg or the love of our family to paint the house with a contractor ("You paid HOW MUCH to have your house painted?? We could have done it for FREE!"), so we waited until we had the time and money to do it ourselves. We had originally wanted to wait until the garage and kitchen were rebuilt/remodeled so all the paint would match, but it became the habit of everyone entering our house to pick off loose paint from the wall next to the front door, leaving a huge, gaping bare patch of siding, so we either needed to paint or get some mangy dogs and broken down cars in the yard to complete the picture of the perfect white-trash shanty. My parents have painted their house twice by themselves, my in-laws painted their house themselves and Chris and Angie painted theirs, and all of these well-meaning and completely insane people offered to help, so we decided that we would take time off and prep and paint in one week. Heh. Heeeeeeeeh heh. Heeee.

My parents had spent the previous week helping build a deck at my sister's house, so they were in town to move on to the next stage of back-breaking manual labor that would remind them of why they had never moved to Seattle to be nearer to us. We started last Sunday by power washing the house, which was not only fun but satisfying on a deep and profound level as the house was filthy. Only pigs could live in such a dirty home. Some of the loose paint was blown off by the water, and, as we washed, we walked around the house to get a good look at the condition of the existing paint and gauge how much work would need to be done. The whole east side of the house was a nightmare. It was peeling and flaking and the many layers of paint from the first to the last coat had never been removed, just lightly sanded and painted over, so there were patches that looked like an example of sedimentary rock in a science class film about erosion. We knew beforehand that we would have to strip some of the house, so we sent away for the Silent Paint Remover, which turned out to be worth its weight in gold. We turned the SPR onto the worst parts of the paint (which turned out to be pretty much the lower half of the entire house) and it was like a peely miracle. The thickest paint would bubble and come off in huge sheets with a deft flick of the $1 scraper we all fought over, leaving only pinkish, pleasant smelling cedar siding exposed. I had no idea that stripping paint would appeal so strongly to my sickening obsession. I could have used that sucker on the entire house if I had had enough time. I should have purchased it instead of renting it. I could have walked around the neighborhood with a really long extension cord trailing behind me looking for paint to peel on my neighbors' homes.

For the first two days, we scraped and scraped and Christian went to work and came home and we were still scraping and I started to think that we just might not get this whole job done in a week. I got very upset and had one of those embarrassing breakdowns one only has with ones parents as one feels that she is twelve and being told that she can't wear those jeans out of the house as they are too tight and one has to cry and lock herself in the bathroom to regain her composure.

The inlaws joined us on Tuesday, God love 'em, and Christian had the whole day off, so we made some extensive progress with so many hands. I had to leave and go to the opera where I, of course, injured myself. I think it was a parting shot from the Levaquin. I had been on ladders and scaffolding all day and was so exhausted that I biffed it twice in my costume shoes and heard a pop in my ankle. By the next morning, the bone was the size of a golf ball and it hurt to glance at it out of the corner of my eye. I was relegated to errand runner and meal cooker that day. Guilt. Guilty, guilty, guilt guilt guilt.

The week before we started prepping, Christian cut back all of the climbing plants on the front of our house, and our porch let out an audible groan when the wisteria was removed as the plant was the only thing holding up that half-assed set of toothpicks. The more we looked at the bare porch, the more we wanted to rip it down with our bare hands, so we called the contractor who had built Tina's deck and hired him to start construction at the same time we were painting. We had the grand task of prying off the hateful decking that was screwed to our porch instead of actual contiguous material that would prevent my heel from catching every time I walked up the stairs. To save on labor costs, we bought $1,700 worth of wood ourselves, of which my sneaky mother in law bought a good portion and wouldn't let me pay her back. Guilt. Eeeeee with the guilt.

As the week wore on, more people who I thought would rather be doing anything other than the vile work we had cornered ourselves into, showed up. Angie stripped windowsills and sanded and taped and generally was a rock star. It did seem, though, that the prep would never end. There was always so much more to do. The bottom half of the house was done, but the top was flaking at me in defiance of my wishes to be finished in time to take a nap Sunday afternoon. Lynn and Sal had to leave Friday afternoon and my parents had to leave Saturday as Jayden's birthday party was in the middle of the afternoon. We would be all alone, and we only had one side of the house primered. Mom put in an amazing day of work on Friday and single-handedly scraped, sanded and primed the back of the house by the bathroom. But they were leaving!

And then the second shift showed up.

Chris and Rich came over after work on Friday and bolstered us up. They sanded and scraped and Angie taped and we primered the rest of the front of the house. They moved the scaffolding and Chris held Christian up while he scaled the peak of the kitchen to sand the eaves, wearing javelin spikes for traction. Thank God I was at the opera and didn't have to witness that.

So, as of today, three quarters of the house is primed and half the windows are painted trim-wise. The kitchen wall has to be sanded and the ceiling of the porch needs to be scraped, but we'll be done by this weekend. And our friends are coming back. I don't know what on earth we did to deserve all these wonderful people, but there it is.

And if anyone ever tells me that I should do any more house projects myself, I'm going to brain them with a paint can.

Pictures in the next post.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bad, bad week.

Why is this week going so poorly? What hateful planet is in my house, what evil mojo has been worked on me that, no matter where I go, annoyance and vexation follows?

Monday: Did everything wrong at work. Health issues of this summer causing me to not be able to concentrate. Had wrong room number on one boss' calendar for a meeting she was chairing, and she sent out a reminder over the weekend with the incorrect room number. Had to call meeting participants and sort out. Brought other boss back from trip a day late and hotel dropped his reservation. Still no housekeeper. It was her day, she hasn't shown up but once (and then promptly left again) in the past two weeks. Broke bowl, birds angry at me for not being home all day. Aggressively bitten by Fritz.

Tuesday, still no housekeeper, no message. In addition, forgot wallet at work, and didn't' realize it until in checkout line at Safeway getting groceries to make dinner for Christy, who was coming over to watch Auntie Mame. Get in car, hobbling as legs very much hurting, to head back to work, only to find that all traffic lights between me and work out. Traffic v. bad. Turned and went home.

Today, woke up more exhausted than when went to bed night before. Haven't slept more than a few hours in past few nights as muscles are so sore and painful that am constantly awoken by knives in back and hips. Called in to work sick a half day and forgot that Mariner's game at 1 would make traffic horrific. Bird to vet for vaccinations and may have to have beak dremmeled down as crooked beak can cause jaw problems. Poor pooper.

I'm taking next week off to paint the house with the parents and inlaws, and I don't know how I'm going to stand for long periods of time. If anyone wants to temporarily donate their legs to me, I'll graciously accept, and give them back in excellent but possibly slightly paint-stained shape.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Is it pink-red or brown-red?

We're painting our house next week. This is one of those tasks that I usually believe should be left to professionals, but as we don't have that extra $10,000 lying around and I certainly don't want to take out a loan, we're tackling that treacherous home-owner learning curve with the aid of both sets of parents, our neighbors and an infrared paint remover. The last item is intriguing and hopefully will be as efficient as promised. The videos of stripping paint on the rental website were almost pornographic and made me want to pull out old copies of This Old House I had hidden under my mattress and lovingly stroke the glossy color photos of freshly painted houses.

We've decided on a color called Roycroft Copper, a dark brownish-red that sounds hideous when I describe it (too much like dried blood) but looks beautiful on the house. It's from the Sherwin-Williams Arts and Crafts Home collection, and God knows they must be right. The trim will be alabaster white. I honestly think I chose this particular white because of the simple name. I can't take descriptions like "Fair Virgin Lily" when I choose a color.

In anticipation of painting, Christian had to cut back the wisteria, which seemed to be the only thing holding up our ancient and badly-built porch:

The wisteria is most likely around 30 years old, and cutting it seemed like a sacrilidge, despite its alien-like aggressive growth tendencies. Whenever we go away in the summer for more than two days, we come back to long tendrils reaching for the house and wrapped around the porch swing like they're going to crush the bedroom in a vegetative embrace. I just know that, if we were gone for more than a week, we'd come back to a throbbing green mass of vines and sweet-smelling blossoms. So, it'll grow back.

We know the porch looks like fifteen kinds of crap. We'll rebuild it with stone and cement and sturdier wood when we have accrued large sums of money from nefarious activities. I never thought I would wish to be a criminal, but owning an old home that needs work makes one think outside the strictly legal box.

Christian also cut back the flowering hedge that had been lovingly trained by the previous owner but one:

All of the privacy afforded by the hedge is gone, and we can see waaaaaay too much of the neighborhood now. The trellis filtered the light so nicely and sheltered us from the screaming WT house-of-a-thousand-occupants across the street.

I shall report our progress with pictures. Of course, by the end of next week, my entries will most likely consist of, "Can't....go...on....the scraping...God...THE SCRAPING!"

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Shackles for one in the tenth level of hell.

My grandma was robbed last week. My teeny little 86-year-old grandmother was awakened at 4 am by her enormous and useless German Shepherd as he needed to go outside to wallow in the dirt in the fenced in backyard garden, and no other time would do. After letting him back in, she heard a knock at the front door. She opened it slightly to see who it was, and found a young woman who was claiming that her car had broken down and she needed to use the phone. My grandma opened the door enough to allow this young woman to push her way into the house.

Now, there are several things you need to know about my grandma and her financial situation. She is the mother of six children, who were all raised on my grandpa's income as an Air Force welder. They live in a very working class, fairly poor neighborhood, in which their house is most likely the best cared-for, as Grandma is very particular. They have never had any debt, paid off their house many, many years ago and my grandmother still walks her one utility bill to the utility company's office every month, check in hand. Grandma is living off of my deceased grandpa's small pension, their slim retirement and Social Security. It has been sufficient as her needs are small. Whatever is not provided for her by her own income is provided for her by her six children, all of whom live in her town.

Returning to the narrative, this person, after pushing her way into the house, apparently ran about babbling "Money!" as she looked for a purse or wad of cash to just to be lying about waiting for her filthy, disease-ridden clutches, which, as you can see from the explanatory paragraph above, is absurd. My grandma, being the plucky broad she is, told the girl, "If you're looking for money to steal, you came to the wrong house." The whore-bitch-from-the-depths-of-Hades did find Grandma's purse and took the small sum of cash from her wallet and ran out, but not before pushing Grandma to the ground, perhaps as a parting shot for not having anything portable worth stealing. Fortunately, we have sturdy bones in our family, and Grandma is taking an osteoporosis medication that helps the bones stay strong, so nothing was broken, but she was bruised up one side of her body.

There is no instance that I can point to more clearly than this next bit to demonstrate how strongly the "Don't Impose" mentality is imprinted on my family. Grandma waited four hours to let anyone know she had been robbed and, when she did, she didn't call the police, she called my Uncle Mike, who called the police himself. Apparently, the events caused quite an uproar, and Grandma was on the news and in the paper. I'm still looking for the story, which better not have been buried under all this Israel crap.

If they ever find the girl who did this to Grandma, there will be no hole deep enough to protect her from the Family. For once I'm glad Uncle Wayne has those shotguns.