Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday Night

I spent Tuesday Day on the couch, feeling sorry for myself and sick sick sick. Not puking, thank goodness, but achy and scratchy and just blech. So I'm planning an uneventful evening of Nyquil-induced coma. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day. 

House projects are stalled at the moment, as we're not starting anything else till we finish the exterior stuff, and it's been too cold for the workers to finish the exterior stuff. So we've got a 3/4 painted house right now. Yeah, it's looking good... What the heck is going on with it being so cold?? It froze last night. As we just turned the gas and heat on for the first time, we have no idea how much it's costing us, so we're erring on the side of chilly in the house here. Last thing we need right now is a $300 a month bill... 

Discovered today while doing some research on early voting that my state-issued state-employee ID isn't going to cut it for voting purposes, so I'm going to have to schlep down to the BMV AGAIN to get an ID card. I'm still driving with a Michigan license (yes, I know I haven't lived in Michigan in a decade...) because Indiana requires you to take a test for a new license. I need to study. Anyway, I'm glad I discovered this little issue now instead of on November 4, when I would have thrown a conniption fit had I not been allowed to vote. 

This weekend, Eric and I are driving up to Cleveland for a Smashing Pumpkins concert. Should be fun, though Cleveland is not remotely close to us. I suppose it will be nice to get away for a night together, and we do love Smashing Pumpkins. But seriously, Cleveland is like 5 hours away. Have you seen that episode of 30 Rock where Liz and Floyd go to Cleveland and people ask her if she's a model? So funny. 

Basketball on TV tonight. With the Sox being out of the Series, and Tom Brady being injured, I can only hope that the Celts suck this year. It is my goal that Boston sports cease to be compelling to my husband. 

Nyyyyyquilllll, I hear you calling me...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More pictures

Lazy Saturday. Ugh. I've got a really terrible movie on television, something starring Denzel Washington. I thought for a moment that I really was so out of it that I couldn't understand what he was saying, but it turns out he was just speaking in a made-up language. Feeling much the space cadet today.

Eric and his cousin Matt are up in the man cave, ripping nails and screws out of the ceiling studs. Eric instructed me to put a quote on the blog from Star Wars relating to the construction of the Death Star. The only one I could find was this: 

Luke Skywalker, as he approaches the Death Star: "I have a bad feeling about this."

As far as I'm concerned, this is a perfect quote. 


This is the pile of drywall that is going to have to somehow make it down two flights of stairs to the dumpster. I think I will arrange to be gone that day. 

Meanwhile, Pixie is staying comfortable in this chilly weather. 

The new fence looks great. The yard, not so much. That's a next summer project.

The paint is coming along. There's just a little bit to finish, including a little spot by the door that needs the yellow, the back trim, and the ceiling of the front porch, which we were going to do in the same red as the door, but I'm thinking we'll do it instead in the dark green we're using on the window sashes.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

HCC vol... Whatever

Thought I'd post some pictures of the stuff we did while the fam was in town:
New and improved living room and foyer. Yea piano! I played (poorly) for an hour today, and it was lovely. The act of practicing, not the playing itself. It's been about 8 years since I've been around a piano consistently. A LONG time. 
Our new ceiling in the attic. Ugh. The crazy square there is where we removed a skylight. Really, I liked the IDEA of the skylight, but it's south-facing and on hot days, the attic gets SO hot. Of course, vents will help with that, too. 
Our new vanity. I love it. 

Finally, here's the most awesome thing about today. Here's our new house!!!!! Tomorrow, they'll put up the trim color (yellow) and maybe the accent (dark green). How awesome is this going to look?? Fam, I wish you could come again this weekend to see it all done! Abby, look at how good the red door looks!


In that I was very happy to have my delightful family in town, and happy that they were willing to get dirty and help us do several gigantic projects. Sad that they had to leave. :( Pixie and Yogi are sad, too. They were a little suspicious of Big Maddie when she first arrived, and didn't quite know what to think of their grandparents and Auntie Abby and Uncle John, but they ended up loving everybody, and they have been wandering around the house looking for everybody. I got them some rawhide bones to take their minds off it.

We did have just a wonderful weekend. Got SO much done. On Saturday, the guys built the remainder of the fence between us and our crazy-lady neighbor, and it's awesome. I feel almost as if she's not even there anymore. Eric talked to her on Saturday morning while dad and I were out buying a fence post digger. He asked her if it would be okay to remove the 50+ year old chain link fence that separated our yards. She said yes. So he took out about 3 of her posts, when she came out yelling at him and asking what he was doing. He put them back in and we just put our fence up right next to the old fence. Now the dogs can roam around the yard on their own. We're all happy about that.

We painted the front door, which turned into a project far exceeding what I had anticipated. Our storm door is likely either original to the house, or at least really really old. For years, then, the former owners had been taking down the window in the summer and putting in a screen. However, the screen didn't have a frame. Instead, they stapled or nailed the screen up every year. There are approximately 225,000 itty bitty nails in that door. We also took out the doorknob, which I may or may not be able to replace. During a recent powerwash, something must've slipped, because it was growing increasingly difficult to open the door. I guess I'll try to put it back in tonight.

The boys ripped the ceiling out of the finished attic. This, I suppose, needed to be done for a couple reasons: 1) the drywall was gross, 2) we needed to install vent stuff up there, and 3) Eric was not going to shut up about it till it happened. I just wish we could've waited on that till we finished up a 2nd floor shower so I didn't have to walk up there when it's all insulation-y. We're going to put some beadboard up there instead of drywall, which will be a much easier solution (one we can do without killing ourselves or lugging about a ton of drywall up 3 flights of stairs). I think that will look nice.

Dad and Eric installed a really cool vanity in the guest bathroom, and it works! So now people can use the bathroom AND wash their hands. Fancy, I know.

Abby is a cleaning machine, so while my mom and Aunt Ro and I were out looking at tile, she scoured the house. It looks awesome. I can't find anything in the kitchen, but I don't mind so much because it looks so nice.

The tile-looking expedition was a load of fun, but totally fried my brain. WAY too many things to think about and decide on. Despite that, I do think I found what I want, which is a just slightly shiny, rustic-looking baked tile. We may do a fancy inset or something. This will be a good fall/winter project for me. Now I just have to find the tile I want cheaper somewhere else.

While we were out for lunch, though, at Maggiano's, I was in the bathroom being totally innocuous, and a huge chunk of a filling fell out. What??! This was the tooth that needed the root canal several months ago, and the same tooth that needed a crown in 2002. So, all told, I've invested probably $3,000 in a single tooth. I just want to rip it out of my head. Stupid tooth.

Dad also did some great work in insulating our windows. We had the weighted windows in the dining room, and since the trim was off, we could see all the way through to the exterior wall, and in some cases, through the wall. So we sealed that up and took out the weights (since we rarely open those windows anyway because they look directly into our neighbor's kitchen...) and stuffed the spaces with insulation. This came at exactly the right time because it's getting cold! We learned this weekend that indeed, we have a gas furnace. So dumb--I've been thinking this whole time that we had electric heat. It was totally fun when I went to turn on the heater and cold air blew out. The gas people are coming this evening to check things out. We will likely just hold out and not actually turn the heat on for quite some time (or until we have visitors and are embarassed that they're cold). Last year in Boston (granted, we were in an itty bitty apartment with upstairs neighbors), we didn't turn the heat on till December. I shudder to think at what it's going to cost to heat that house.... Ugh.

Meanwhile, the house is being caulked and primed and should be ready for real paint quite soon. I can't wait till this is all done. Several times this weekend mom and dad told me not to get frustrated. All I need is for a project to be DONE. We have about 27 projects that are 90% done, and triple that that are just started. We've actually finished next to nothing. I just want to look at something and say, Okay, that's it. I have nothing to add.

We played 3 games of Trivial Pursuit. The boys won first, the girls won the second night, and while I'm sure there are some who will disagree, I say the last game was pretty much a tie.

I was going to post pictures last night, but the camera is out of batteries. Will do that tonight. Mom, Dad, Abs, John--Had a GREAT time. THANK YOU!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

HCC v.3

I got home yesterday and discovered a house that was disgusting beyond my wildest dreams. Powerwashing may be effective, but it makes a wicked mess. It's distressing to me.

Inside, I've made a little progress in sprucing up the upstairs hallway, though we still have no means of painting the stairwell and its 24 foot walls. That may have to be a professional job. I picked a lovely color called Indian White, and I'm pleased. What I'm not pleased about is the state of the walls themselves. Part of me is kind of geeked to have original plaster (once painted hot pink, I discovered last night), and part of me wants to rip it down and start over. I cannot express these feelings to Eric, who would gut the house entirely if he had the option. Seriously, though, there are some pretty major flaws, especially up near the ceiling, and these are not things that are fixable with spackle. The skim-coating we had done on a portion of the wall that was damaged is mediocre at best--a remnant of our crappy contractor that will haunt us forever. Sigh.

Anyway, fam arrives tomorrow, and we're getting very excited, though I feel as though every time I make just a little bit of progress in getting stuff cleaned up, I look around and discover a pile of drywall dust, a tumbleweed of Yogi hair, not to mention multiple piles of trim that need to be put up that are scattered all over the house. So tonight is reserved for putting crap down in the basement. My mom will likely call and say, "Oh, don't worry about anything!," to which I will respond, "This is my equivalent of cleaning before the housekeeper comes." I'm embarrassed, and I want to impress my family with the awesome potential of the house, and I feel as though that might not happen if there is crap everywhere.

I've been thinking a lot of how great it's going to be to have the fam together again--Abby and I both manage to see mom and dad a couple times a year, and to see each other once every 18 months or so, but we're never BOTH in the same place. So this will be a very special visit. I keep imagining how cool it will be to wake up early on Saturday morning, make my coffee and watch The Practice (normal Sat. am routine) with my sister. Then we'll take the pups for a walk. It'll be great.

We're also planning a game of Trivial Pursuit that is shaping up to be quite high-stakes--girls vs. boys. Here's the problem with that set-up, though. The boys can not compete with the girls on topics like literature, and we can't compete with the boys on sports. The best I can hope for is a question about hockey, and my answer will, invariably, be Wayne Gretzky. I figure that there is about a 50% chance that this answer will be right for any hockey-related question.

In other news, we watched the debate last night, and my mind was not changed. In fact, I came away from it even more solid in my conviction that I'm making the right decision. McCain looked angry and shaken and sounded bitter. That doesn't particularly bother me, but when those sort of nonverbal indicators are there, AND you're spouting lies your party has provided you with, it sounds desperate. Obama's no saint, and for quite a while there, I was considering voting for McCain--I find the rhetoric that Obama used to use about "hope" and "dreams" and "fluffy kitty snuggles" to be patronizing and appealing to the lowest common denominator (much in the way I find Sarah Palin's vitriol to be pandering to the LCD of the right wing). But I think Obama has come around and has stopped using that fluff because the times call for real brains, which he's got. I particularly liked McCain's insistence that he wouldn't use a "litmus test" (goodness, it's like we're in a time warp...) for his appointments to the Supreme Court, but that he would never appoint a pro-choice judge. Ummmm, what?

Anyway, there are my musings for the day. I'll try to post more pictures of the squalor we're living in tonight.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Naked House

Here's what I found when I got home from work: messy yard, naked house, and two freaked out dogs.

Crazy next door neighbor shown...

That's Yogi's "panic face." It's very slightly different from his "I'm hungry" or "what did you say?" face. 

Anyway, the place is a mess, but I guess they're going to try to start painting tomorrow. There is one good thing--the windows are getting washed. Which is nice. 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sleepless in Bloomington

That's me. I dozed off after about an hour of fitful try-sleep, and then woke up a while ago all hot and yuck-mouthed. 

What was the first thing I did? Attempted to drink the "mouthwash" in the hotel bathroom. In fact, this is not mouthwash but turquoise shampoo. Did the fact that the liquid did not pour right out of the bottle tip me off that something was amiss? Of course not. I sucked on the bottle so as to experience the awesomeness of a full mouth of shampoo at 1:30 in the freaking morning. 

I'm feeling brilliant right now. 

Things were pretty kickin' at the house today. Before I left for work about 9:00, they'd already made a huge mess of the front yard. When I return at lunch time to pick up my suitcase and ensure the puppies had not destroyed our new bedroom set, the mess was everywhere. If the house was a head and the lawn was shoulders, our house had a terrible case of shingle-dandruff. 

Totally cool with this. What I'm not cool with is the dudes who are doing the work leaving their half empty Mountain Dew bottles everywhere. Now, as a homeowner, if I want to leave crap all over my front porch for 3 months, that's my prerogative. But you, Mr. Questionably-Motivated-Roofer, you pick up your dang bottles. Grrrrrr. 

Tonight I had dinner with several representatives of Indiana University. I sat next to one gentleman in particular who, about 10 minutes into our conversation inspired me to say, "I LIKE you!" When he asked where I was from, I did the Michigan hand and he said, "So, Grayling." WHAT?! No one knows where Grayling is, especially just from the Michigan hand. Of course I countered with, "Grayling was actually one of the last reported Sasquatch sightings..." Sigh. I ruin conversations a lot with non-sequiturs like that. But they just thought it was funny, or humored me, and we had a lovely chat. What charming, intelligent, thoughtful people. I am so lucky to have the opportunity to meet people like this all over the state. I love Indiana. 

One week from right now, hopefully I'll be sleeping, but under the same roof will be my entire family--all six of us. As my sister and I, up till July, seemed to be making a pretty concerted effort to stay on opposite sides of the country, my whole family hasn't been together since Abby's wedding in August, 2007, where, let's be honest, there were quite a few distractions from family time. I'm very VERY excited for everybody to come and see the house, contribute some slave labor, and have a good time. We're purchasing a new Trivial Pursuit game especially for the visit. Also exciting is the fact that my doggie sister Maddie, whom I've never met, is coming, too. So in addition to having 6 people, we will also have three dogs, weighing a combined 200 pounds, 80 pounds of that being black fur. I furminated Yogi on Wednesday. He's shedding like a madman. I took more hair off of him than I thought possible. Eric got home and said, "Yogi looks thinner." 

Well, not that this hasn't been entertaining as hell, but I suppose I should try to get some sleep, seeing as my meetings start at 7:30 in the morning. It's nights like these that make me glad I have a blog. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

HCC vol. II

It hasn't rained in, oh, 3 weeks. OF COURSE it starts raining the day after they rip our roof off.

In the meantime, the dogs are confused as hell about all the junk in their personal litterbox (our back yard) and have for the last 2 days basically refused to leave the back stoop to pee. Which is lovely. They also don't like to go out in the rain, so we tried to coax them into doing late-night potty on the front porch. So last night, about 10:15 after I'd grown so weary of the debate and said, "Jeez. I know who I'm voting for. I'm not watching this anymore," saw me and Eric in socks on the front porch.

"Pleeeeeeeease, Pixie. I know you have to potty. Please potty for mama."

Dignity? What dignity?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Holy Crap Chronicles, Vol. 1

So, work on the house started today. Even though I knew it was happening, I didn't really expect them to get anything done. Well, they did. Here is our backyard. 

Today, they ripped the first four feet or so off the roof back from the gutter boards. About 75% of that wood was rotted, so they replaced it with new stuff. Tomorrow, we may see the rest of the shingles come off and some more wood replaced. Here's some of the results. Please don't think the crappiness of that little alcove has had any work done--no, that's what that has always looked like...

They also delivered the shingles. Here's what they look like. 

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sunday, Sunday

It's been a pretty nice weekend. Eric's cousin Matt was here and was a good deal of help in getting some stuff done, including the cabinet installation in the half bath (the cabinet has been waiting to be installed since July, and has been sitting in front of the bathroom door for 2 weeks...), the door hanging in the guest bathroom (hooray! Which means the toilet that has been in for a couple weeks is finally usable...), and the front porch cleaned off (finally, we're not the trashiest house on the block). 

Speaking of the trashiest house on the block. For a while I thought it was the old lady across the street's house, the one with the ceramic rabbits and planters made out of tires (painted bright yellow). But I re-evaluated today as I sat outside eating a hot dog in the lovely fall air. It isn't the rabbit house. It's the house across and to the left of ours. This house is a monstrosity, but has a very heavily treed yard, so I haven't noticed it much, despite spending a lot of time on my front porch spying on my neighbors. This afternoon, the owners who I haven't seen but once before and haven't met at all (apparently they're kind of weird according to Doug, our exceptional across-the-street neighbor), were outside. So, interested, I perked up and watched as they proceeded to install an 8-foot silhouette of a witch on a broom, lighted jackolanterns, and other Halloween stuff in their front yard. It's a lot of stuff. A LOT. 

Here's what's weird, though. This house is quite literally FALLING APART. It's been at least 20 years since it's been painted, the windows are cracked, roof's missing shingles, siding missing--the whole shebang. I frankly don't know how these guys actually live there, as it's surely not weather-tight, and looks to be infested. Anyway, here's what's confusing. Why bother with all of the fancy decorations and hanging a festive wreath on your door if your door is falling apart? 

Anyway, I got a lot done today--painted all of the white trim in the master bath and 3rd-floor bath this afternoon, which took like 4 hours but was totally worth it. I think white trim just looks so sharp when it's freshly painted. It also brought to my attention the insane oldness of our windows (single pane--likely original to the house). I imagine at some point in the future we're going to replace them, but it's not going to be this year. So it'll be plastic covers and thermal drapes for us this winter! Whooo. 

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm Gonna Talk about the Debate, guys

I started a new post about 10 times during that excruciating 90 minutes last night, but each time, got more agitated than I was before and had to close my computer down. Seriously, I had a physical reaction. She talked, I squirmed. She winked, I threw up my hands and asked what the HELL is a Vice Presidential candidate doing winking during a debate on national television?

Here's a disclaimer... I've made it quite obvious that I am not a fan of politicians like Sarah Palin, and her in particular. And I absolutely love LOVE Joe Biden, and I have for a long time. Yes, he's prone to saying stupid stuff, but at least it's honest and earnest, which is more than you can say about 99% of his colleagues. Thus, I was totally pre-disposed to favor Joe over Sarah. But I tried to turn it off and to judge the answers independent of who was delivering them.

And can I just say that whatever "answers" Governor Palin gave were CRAP! She is the queen of wrapping winks and "doggones" and "darn its" and verbal diarheea in such a way that you think you're being handed a beautiful present, but when you open it, it's crap in a box. Nothing of substance, nothing that showed she'd done anything other than memorize sound bites. I was a teacher, high school and college, and do you know what this sounded like to me? Students who hadn't picked up a book all semester and had stayed up late the night before with a highlighter. In my classes, those students got Ds.

They're saying that she did well. She did well because she didn't throw up on stage or say anything completely stupid. Is that really the standard by which we want to measure our country's leadership? They're saying that this debate should assuage some fears that she's not ready to lead. Um, what??! Can you imagine her sitting down with one of our allies, trying to get them to support whatever war it is we're going into next? "Hey, Prime Minister. How ya doin'? I was thinkin' that you all might want to help us out there in Iran 'cause they're not nice over there. And, ya know, they've got a lot of oil there and a nucular weapon." Yes, I spelled nuclear wrong on purpose. Somebody should teach her how to say it right.

This is what I don't understand. The President is the most powerful person in the world, if he or she chooses not to turn him or herself into a blundering asshole a la GW. The most powerful person in the world should be the smartest, most honest, strongest person we can find, and his second in command should be just as smart, just as honest, and just as strong. John McCain is a good man who made some pretty awesome sacrifices, and has been a good representative. But he's chosen someone who can't function if she's not cutting someone down, has little knowledge of anything that matters in the world today, is an anti-feminist, and I'm sorry--she's not qualified.

I have a real issue with the usage of the whole "Joe-Sixpack" term. How incredibly patronizing. Yes, we all realize that there are a lot of folks out there who are average people just trying to get by. Calling them Joe Sixpack makes it sound like she thinks all of these people are just dying to get home to get a beer in their hands. They're SO average. They're SO middle America. Yeah, they're also not qualified to be Vice President. Feh.

The best part of the debate for me was texting back and forth with Ashie, who makes everything fun. Some highlights:

Ash: "I think if Palin was on Perez Hilton she'd have 'simple' written across her forehead."
Me: "I am literally shaking right now. Saying darn it doesn't make you sound Presidential."
Ash: "Does no one know that Alaska really doesn't matter? 'Of this great land' makes me want to braf."
Me: "Well, Joe is from Delaware... 'We've gotta clean up our planet.' God!"
Ash: "We gotta help our environment folks! 'Drill, baby, drill' doesn't sound too gentle to me."
Me: "I hate her."
Ash: "Tanked. Like a college girl. I actually really like Biden. He's kind of a dashing scamp."
Me: "If I wasn't married and was 30 years older..."

Anyway, all of that was probably unnecessary. I just feel upset.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Pixie unleashed a torrent of destruction never before seen at #2021. Her victims include:
  • Contents of a purse, including credit card
  • "The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair" - back cover completely ripped off
  • ESPN Magazine
  • At least 3 pieces of junk mail

We MUST learn to put crap away. Speaking of crap, Pix also had a bit of an accident in the house. And the girl who let the pups out during the day cleaned it up, but then put it right in the garbage can. The kitchen smelled just lovely when I got home 4 hours later.

So, yeah, it's been a nice evening. 

In house news, the big work starts next Monday, which means a couple things: 1) it's going to be insane around here for the next two weeks or so, and 2) we are parting with a great deal of money. I'm a bit of a skinflint anyway, as Eric will attest, but I am having major problems spending money of this magnitude, though I understand fully that we'll get every dollar back in equity, value and prevention of other problems. But yes, fundamentally, I have a real problem with this. Plus, I'm more than a little freaked about the financial situation in general. 

Anyway, here's what we're doing:
  • New Roof: chose "Weathered Wood" color, which is a nice blend of brown, yellow, green. 
  • Gutters: Because we have none.
  • Replacing all rotten siding and trim wood: In general, things are really solid. But the contractor was here the other day and Eric said, "I want you to replace the water board" and the contractor said, "This thing is in perfect shape." And then he tapped it with his hammer and the hammer went right through it. Nice. 
  • Exterior Paint: Field Olive Green, Trim light yellow, and accent/sashes Dark Green.
Tonight, it's debate time. I know that all the pundits are saying that Joe Biden should just stick to facts and debate McCain, not Sarah Palin. But you know what? I hope he just destroys her. I'm all for women in government--hey, I'm one of them--but if you can't string words together to form a complete sentence, maybe you shouldn't be Vice President. No doubt she'll have her answers memorized and will do just fine. And while that happens, I'll be here, pulling my hair out and eating cold PopTarts and despairing.