Hidden Treasures

July 30, 2008

Here is a list of some of the things that the demolition team discovered in my garage:

  • Lawn chairs circa 1969
  • Rusted bed rails
  • Miscellaneous lumber
  • Turquoise patio umbrella circa 1976
  • Sheets of leftover vinyl siding
  • Rolls of gold shag carpeting circa 1977
  • Possible termites
  • Definite yellow mold

It turns out that some money is well spent. There is no way in hell I could’ve done this work. And now I have an appointment with pest control. Let the domino game begin!


The first coat is the hardest

July 28, 2008

Turning 38 this summer has ushered in my own Year of Completion. This year I promise to finish things that I start, be thorough about staying on task with projects, and commit to following through. I’m all about bringing things to fruition. This, anyway, is the lofty goal.

As one of the first steps in my year-long mission, I’ve stuck with painting the front porch. I’m buoyed up by the final vision I have and so I’ve been gritting my teeth and getting shit done. I want to drink a latte on that porch while it’s still summer, dammit! Ceiling fan? Painted and reassembled. The light even works, but the fan doesn’t. I’m not going to sweat that though. Two coats of white on all woodwork? Done. Right now I’m waiting for the first coat of gray porch paint to dry and then…ONE MORE COAT. I even painted the kelly green window mullions and it makes a HUGE difference.

Think white lights, sisal rug, lots of plants, and evening suppers spent listening to the sounds of crickets chirping and the neighborhood kids beating each other up.

Life is good.

Bathroom blues

July 25, 2008

I’m about to embark on a new relationship with a recommended handyman.  He came over yesterday to check out the upstairs bathroom. In terms of labor and supplies, I think it’s on the light side of jobs. What do I want? White wainscoating on the lower half and help putting up/in a new medicine cabinet, wall lights, and towel rack.

Oh, and I also wanted him to give me an estimate on either 1) ripping up the linoleum to get to the original tile or 2) on putting in a new tile floor.  His response to #1 was: Yeah, I wouldn’t want to do that…but you could.  His second suggestion was to just put new linoleum over it and call it a day.  So while waiting to hear about his estimate, I decided to see what I could do on a rainy day.

I knew there was the original tile because last summer we’d cut away a section of flooring. I just didn’t know what shape it was in and pretty much everyone from the plumber to the electrician told me not to bother with it.  After six hours on my knees with a metal scraper, I’m beginning to think they were right. Sometimes you got to do it the hard way.

Garage=The Bane of my existence

July 22, 2008

Remember how the whole experience of closing on your house is a blur of paperwork and checks? Once the dust settled and I took stock of my homestead, I figured out that the garage had been excluded from everything. Should I have realized this sooner? You bet. I don’t even know when or how that information was determined, but everyone else was aware of it long before I was.

The upshot of this is that my tiny cement garage is in dire need of a new roof and (probably) new rafters, joists, beams, you name it—it needs it. I’ve got guys coming to “demo” the rotten and moldy ceiling on Thursday, so I spent today clearing out my clutter: snow tires, bike, kayak, woodpile, piles o’ plastic buckets, lawn tools, gardening crap, etc.

Here’s the problem: it’s hard to feel good about spending money on a structure you rarely use and kind of don’t care about. I mean, I know I need to do it, but wouldn’t a new tile floor in my bathroom be so much cuter? Or how about a new fall wardrobe for teaching? Or a yoga trip to Mexico? There’s easily ten things I’d rather do with my money than spend it on the building of mold that is my garage.

Big sigh. Yet another chapter in real estate reality.

On the brighter side of things, I had to laugh when I went to pay my yoga teacher last night and there was my brand new orange container of Elmer’s Wood Filler in my purse.

Painting project #1

July 16, 2008

It turns out that painting is like everything else in life.  Once you’re in the groove, it’s fine, but getting started is hell.  Since I’d been living in blissful denial, it’d been a while since I was doing any major daily painting.  I unearthed my painting duds, bought some more exterior latex semi-gloss, rediscovered my favorite brush, and clipped on my shuffle. Good to go.

I was about half way through This American Life when I remembered how important prep work is. You know, the scraping, priming, and cleaning part. Oh yeah.  After a few false starts and lots of neon Mr. Clean scrubbing, I think the porch and I are off and running.  I’d also forgotten the motto of house painters everywhere: There’s no such thing as one coat of paint. Good to know.

Cupcakes for The People!

July 13, 2008

I spent yesterday in a bubble of baking and catching up on my Splendid Table podcasts.  To celebrate my birthday, I invited folks over for a late afternoon cookout and wanted to make sure there were plenty of cupcakes to go around (and  extras in the certain event of spilled or dropped cupcakes).  Success!

We drank Fizzy Izze pomegranant juice mixed with champagne, lounged in the yard, and enjoyed the cool breeze. All in all, a good birthday. And I’m still not 40!

Home to Roost

July 9, 2008

When I bought the house, my dad asked me a lot of questions about the the basement and the size of the garage. Naturally, he wanted to be sure these crucial spaces were dry and in good condition. But I now realize that he had an ulterior motive. He was ready for me to take back all the stuff I’d been storing in his attic and garage for the last two decades. And really, who can blame him?

So over the course of a year, the things of my life have slowing been accumulating around me and this house like nails to a magnetized screwdriver. My purple mountain bike from college has found its way back to me, as have my four snow tires, and a whole slew of mildewed cardboard boxes.

At first I planned to go through all the cardboard boxes and I did find some things I’d forgotten I owned–like the brilliantly masochistic Silver Palate Cookbook and a clutch of wooden spoons I’d collected in college. But then I started finding piles of old letters from old boyfriends and school pictures from seventh grade and the hand-sewn doll named Ed that my mother made for me when I was two. All those years of storing stuff at my parents’ house meant that I was free of my own past. But now it’s here with me. So I went to Lowes and bought some of those durable plastic tubs with snap-on lids. Everything’s in there now, stacked neatly in a dry corner of my basement until I can figure out what it means to have the remnants of your history so close at hand.