Monday, December 31, 2007

Year's End

In review, it has been an odd year. The kids have been doing well. Cindy and I have been doing well. I have a new niece. Cindy's nieces returned to the Coast. And we've been making crazy amounts of progress on the house.

But everything seems to pale next to the series of losses that have scarred the year for me. My friend Stanley Cline died. My cohort MacArthur Wright died. And last week, my Grandfather died.

So that's how I'll remember 2007. A swirl of personal successes spangled red by unexpected departures.

Welcome, 2008. I've been expecting you.

Friday, December 28, 2007

MOVIE: Charlie Wilson's War

It is a good sign when Cindy doesn't sleep through a late movie. And Charlie Wilson's War kept her awake the whoooooole time.

Stellar cast. Excellent acting. Well-written dialog. Good pacing. All around great flick. Well worth the price of admission and I know there will be numerous awards in its future.

I was glad to see the movie allude to the fact that America trained and armed the Mujahideen to fight the Soviets, but created a new generations of enemies by "not finishing the job." We left the fragile, still-wounded country to fend for itself. Then the Taliban slithered into the void, to fill the Afghan people with hatred towards its former ally. And the rest is history.

So, just a touch of self-righteous liberalism. But not enough to spoil the mood.

In closing, I do have a confession to make. I thought the male co-star was Dan Akroyd.
I was happily surprised when Cindy told me it was Philip Seymour Hoffman. Loved his character, too! His best role since Capote. I would have went to the theater just to see him. The rest was gravy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Santa's Leftovers

Santa came and left several surprises. First, the kids both got a reindeer Webkinz. I think that makes 8 pets for Liam and 6 pets for Meg.

Here's a picture of their displaying the newbies.

Next, Liam rocked the house with a new electric guitar. It is a pretty cool little axe, too. It has different cartridges that let you play different genres of music. And you can hook it to any relatively modern television that has a red/yellow/white input. So, Liam's new motto is: have grooves, will travel.

Here's a snap of him getting ready to shred.

And wee Meg, recently returned from her Medical Tour of Gulfport Memorial, received a Hannah Montana wig and a nifty karaoke microphone, among other things.

Here's a photo of her preparing for her first appearance with the new gear.

After we went through all the findings at our house, we went to my Grandmother's house for a few more presents and lunch. Then over to my parents house, for the next round of gifts.

I was supposed to go with everyone to my Father-in-law's house, for the final round of presents. But my allergies or sinuses fired up, and I all but collapsed in bed for a couple of hours. I slept while Cindy and the kids went without me.

In the end, it was a good day. The weather held out for us. The families all came together. Everyone was happy, given the situation. 2008, here we come.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My wee lass

Meg was sick for a couple of days. The first day she threw up several times and couldn't keep anything down. The next day, she barely ate and threw up again. Yesterday, Cindy took her to the pediatrician. He said Meg had lost too much weight too quickly and was very dehydrated. So we had to admit her to the hospital, to keep her from deteriorating further.

The first day was bad. She was very lethargic. And didn't speak much. She wanted to be home. And didn't like the fact she had an IV in her arm and they had to draw blood (for tests) from the other. I don't think she ate that day, either.

On the good side, they pumped her full of fluids. There were TONS of presents from schools and nurses. And they had plenty of games and books to keep her entertained.

By the end of the second day, she was eating a little bit. Her color had returned. And she was talking again (mostly about going home.) I managed to catch her smiling. (Click picture to enlarge.) That's her bed and her Mommy and her new pink bear. I forgot what she named the bear, though.

Just as Liam and I were wrapping up, the doctor came through. He said, "It wouldn't hurt to keep her one more night." Which Cindy and I clearly took to mean: Her labs are close, but she isn't normal, we'd like to keep giving her fluids over night and we'll send her home tomorrow morning.

So that's the plan. One more night for Mommy and Meg. We'll all be together tomorrow.

Monday, December 03, 2007

This Olde House - Part 8

We've had three pallets of tiles sitting, under tarps, under my carport, for the better part of a month. We bought them early, when they were on sale. They've been taunting me ever since. Daring me to try and put them in place. It all came to a close this weekend.

The tiles are done!

These things are eighteen inch, "roman stone " tiles. That translates into "very heavy and cumbersome." A six pack easily weights more than forty five pounds. Seriously, the large weighted plates at the gym weigh less! And there are three hundred square feet of them to put down.

In the process of putting them down, I learned several valuable lessons: you always have to mix the mortar the same way to keep it consistent throughout the project, sometimes the floor isn't perfectly level, and you have to vary the thickness the mortar to in order to get the final product to be level.

Fortunately, the dining room is fairly square. And the back wall lines up flush with the kitchen walls. So there really wasn't aanything overly complicated involved in getting the pattern in place.

Only really had to cut about twenty pieces. Six along the arch to the living room. Two along the hallway. And the rest along the cabinets in the kitchen.

A day and a half for the tile. Half a day for the grout.

I think the pictures speak for themselves.

Cindy loves the final results. That makes it worth the time, effort, and cost.

Monday, November 26, 2007

This Olde House - Pre-fab corners

The corner pieces are all in place along with the crown molding. I've been caulking all the seams. Fun stuff, caulk. I usually manage to get more of it in the correct place than on my fingers. But I still had to carry an old towel on my shoulder to wipe off the excess. And every half hour I'd end up scrubbing my hands.

The first picture is in the dining room. The molding on the RIGHT side has been caulked. I also spackled the nail holes. Look along the ceiling on the LEFT side. It isn't caulked yet. When I first put up the board, I thought, "I don't need to caulk that." But the difference is very noticeable afterwards. I still have to shim the large visible gap between the molding and the corner piece.

Second picture is also in the dining room. Again, one side is caulked, the other isn't. Again, noticeable gap between the board and the ceiling. Yes, I'm nailing the board every foot, or so. But I'm putting this on a pre-sprayed ceiling. The popcorn helps create the gaps. I'm still considering scraping that popcorn off. I really hate it. It screams, "I'm old!" Of course, there's still a noticeable space by the corner piece, but it isn't too severe and I'm just going to caulk it. No shim for it.

Last picture is in the living room, with painted walls. The lesson here is: don't paint until AFTER the caulking is done. (Actually, we painted before any of the molding was up.) Much of the wall in the picture will have to be repainted. But I think it demonstrates how I went around the whole corner piece and made sure to fill in every bit of space.

The last picture is a bit fuzzy, but on the left side, it shows where I had to sand down the seam between two boards. There's some excess spackle still hardening, but I'm 95% certain the seam will be invisible once I finish sanding everything down.

Some primer in a few places, a layer of paint on everything, and I'll be done up top.

Monday, November 19, 2007

This Olde House - Part 7.5

The floor of the dining room is next. We were expecting to find a slab when we lifted up the old carpeting. Instead, we found bricks. Raw, untreated bricks. It only confirmed our suspicion that the dining room wasn't a part of the original house. Perhaps it used to be a porch or patio or something. And later they enclosed it. But they never covered it with anything other than a nappy rug. And they certainly didn't level it. The only reason I didn't put a wooden sub floor is because the area is far from level. I would have had to cut every board to a custom angle. And I mean EVERY board. So Cindy did some sweeping and I took the day off to supervise the efforts to get a solid, level floor in the dining room.

The cement truck arrived late. And instead of a front loader, it was a standard back loader. So the guy had to backup, onto my lawn, and angle a clean shot through the window. We were hoping to use a front loader and extend a couple of chutes through the window. But, as I've said, you gotta do what you gotta do. And the driver expertly damaged my yard while getting the chute in place.

It was rapidly apparent to me why I didn't want to tackle this project myself. Concrete isn't a forgiving or simple medium. The guy who worked it had a slow, mellow gait about him. He'd eyeball the pour and shout a couple of instructions to the driver. Surprisingly, the "driver" actually does a good bit of work throughout the adventure. He adds water to the mix, operates the chute, and does a good bit of cleaning. In addition to smoking endlessly and chatting it up with the guy smoothing the poured concrete.

After a while, they had the room filled and seemingly level. Then it was about an hour of smoothing. And an hour of cleaning. By the end, there was no apparent seam between the old floor (in the kitchen) and the new floor (in the dining room.) If nobody had ever seen it, they'd never know it wasn't part of the original house. And that is fine by me.

Next, on to the tiling...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Olde House - Part 7

Time to get back to the floors. I've been avoiding this part for a while. Part due to the work I'd have to put into it. Part due to the price. In the end, I accepted the fact: you gotta do what you gotta do. So I set to work prepping the kitchen floor.

As a recap, the floor used to have large Spanish tile with inch-wide grout lines. I put in six hours of labor to jackhammer it up (as well as having my spine surgically replaced!) And there were still maaaaany rough spots. According to my tile guys, I can't have rough spots. I have to get rid of them.

One method is to try to use the jackhammer, again. The other method is to use a "floor grinder." My new spine didn't need to be replaced, so I thought the "grinder" would be the path of least resistance. Oh, stupid, stupid me! As far as I can tell, the "floor grinder" is really just a floor buffer with thick charcoal bricks loaded onto the buffing wheel.

While using the grinder, three facts quickly became apparent: 1) This thing kicks like a pair of pissed off pack mules. (It actually got away from me once, swung around, and plowed into my ribs, where it left a distinctly painful and apparent bruise.) After I finished, I was completely drenched in sweat and felt as I had worked out for a couple of hours! 2) While brutal to use, it is muuuuuch quicker than using a jackhammer, 3) It leaves a major mess. It was easy to see where I had ground down and where I hadn't, because there was a blanket of powdered cement on top of the finished areas.

By the end, the whole process took about four hours. One to prep. One to grind. Two to clean. I like to think that I actually learn from my mistakes. So I made sure I wouldn't get a quarter inch of dust on top of everything in the house by walling off the kitchen with a plastic barrier. And I put a layer of plastic on top of all the counters.

I think the precautions spared me another verbal assault from Lady McD. Once I shop vac'ed the floors and carefully extracted all the plastic, there was almost nothing left to clean. Almost.

So it is on to the next stage...

Monday, November 12, 2007

This Olde House - Part 6.50

Three weeks of downtime due to Cindy's lack of faith in my abilities to install the boards. Mostly she objected to my use of corner pieces. Since Cheryl (her best friend and our interior designer) didn't approve of them, Cindy didn't want to accept my decision to make use of them. To be honest, their aesthetics come second to their ease of use. If I put them in the corners, I only have to cut the boards to length (to go flush against the corner pieces.) I don't have to cut the angles and I don't have to cope anything. It is much much much easier to use corner pieces. And it actually looks pretty good, even in my opinion. But Cindy wouldn't let me do it without her Dad helping and approving of everything. Thus, a thousand bucks worth of boards sat untouched for almost a month.

Eventually, however, my father-in-law (Robert) came to my rescue, blessed the operation, and we got down to it. He put in the corners, while I started to cut the boards to length. It really isn't rocket science. The process is just a repetition of the following: measure the distance twice, measure the board twice, cut the board cleanly, try to put it in place. If it fits, nail it. If it doesn't fit, cut it down until it fits, then nail it.

The first photo is me, cutting a couple of boards, with my brand new mitre saw. Absolutely luuuuv that monster. Dual bevel. Compound. 12" slider. Even a laser sight on it! It's an early xmas present, from my parents. Love it. Love it. Love it. It made this whole adventure eighteen times more exciting.

Second shot is an example of the corner pieces. They aren't primed, like the crown. Just raw wood. Notice that we didn't paint up to the top of the wall? Would have been a wasted effort, since the crown covers it. Anyway, Robert nailed them into place and then I'd get the boards cut to length. They butt right up against the corner pieces. Flush. No complex angles involved.

Cutting angles suckdiddlyucks. A lot of boards and time get wasted by cutting the angles wrong. Time and boards are worth money. I hate wasting time. And hate wasting money even more. Corner pieces to the rescue!

Couple of action shots. Next on my "to purchase list" is a nailer. Robert has a nice finishing nailer, but I'm inclined to get a cordless one from Dewalt. The cost of buying my own is about the same as renting one twice. I've little doubt I'll need a nailer more than twice in the next year, so I'm going to let my credit card cool off a bit, then buy one.

Today, we only had Robert's. I've used a finishing gun before. And now, forever more, I'll never do it without a finishing gun. Much much much much much muuuuuuch easier with the nailer. It cuts the time and effort down by an order of magnitude. Without it, we would have been hammering for hours, and likely doing a lot more damage to the wood. With it, we did almost all of the crown and floorboards in the living room in half a day.

The dining room is next, but I have to get the floors settled. And in the meanwhile, I'm going to crank out the casings on my own. But I think we've made plenty of progress, and I couldn't be happier.

Onward and upward.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

This Olde House - Part 6

I like demo work. I like construction work. I even like some of the mundane work, like painting or sanding. What I don't like is: spending money.

(After all, I'm doing most of this work myself in order to SAVE money!)

Had to spend a LOT of it, today. Painful. Very painful stuff. Didn't like it one bit. But it had to be done. I want to make everything look good. And that's not free, or even remotely close to cheap. So I dropped almost a grand on boards. BOARDS! Crown molding. Casings. Floor boards. (Not to mention plinths, rosettes, corner pieces, primer, caulking, and spackle.) And that is for just TWO ROOMS!

I literally filled up my car with boards and had to stack some on top. Click the images to get a better view. The first one is funny (at least to me) because of the overhanging pieces and the fact that there's a reflection on the side of me taking the picture. But I like the second one, with everything spilling over the tailgate and the back filled with all manner of parts. By myself, it took me two hours to pick out everything and get them loaded. That alone was a good days work. But there were miles to go before I slept.


I think Lowe's ought to be giving me frequent flier miles. And hand-writing me "Thank You" notes.

$1000 for boards? Blood suckers.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This Olde House - Part 5.75

Just a minor adventure this time. My father and I took down the old ceiling fans and replaced them with a couple of new ones.

It was one of the easiest legs of the race we've run, yet. We took our time and got it right the first time.

Notice the lack of crown moldings and baseboards and casings around the doors? That's next on the list.

Thanks, Dad! You're one hell of an electrician. This project would be impossible and I could not have done it without all your time and efforts. It's a shame it took us so long to find something we could do together without arguing.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mind Over Matter

On the heels of his surprise last night, with the burrito, Liam pulled off another major coupe, tonight.

At his karate class, the instructor had a little competition. All the students had to walk their feet up the wall and support themselves with their hands / arms as long as possible.

I was hoping Liam wouldn't be the first to fall. And he wasn't. I was hoping he'd make it half way through the pack. And he did. I thought he would give up before all the really big kids, higher ranks and older than he. But he didn't. I didn't think he would win. He did. I was all misty-eyed as he lasted longer than anyone else, including this one girl easily twice his size and several years older than him.

Liam wasn't the biggest, or the strongest. But he put his mind to it, and he won. Toward the end, when it was just him and the last girl, I could see his little arms shaking. But he clenched his eyes and fought through it. He won.

Through sheer determination, he beat everyone else. He beat them all.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Something new?!?

It must be a decidedly cold day in Hades (some folks call it Hell, I call it Hades!) as Liam took it upon himself to eat something new! We were so shocked, we had to get photographic evidence (click to enlarge) of it and record the event for posterity.

Believe it or not, but that's Liam eating a burrito! A first, for him. And a huge relief for us. Maybe he'll eat something other than burgers and chicken nuggets by the time he goes off to college.

In the background, as surprised as we are, is Baby Bear. I dunno what game she was playing, but Liam seemed to think she was a character from that vilest of cartoons: Sponge Bob Jackleg. She's got her faerie jammies on, and god-only-knows-what in her hand, and I'm betting she was probably singing something.

(For the record, Meg's already tried burritos. She didn't care for them. But she does like a freshly made cheese quesadilla!)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

This Olde House - Part 5.5

Time to say goodbye to my new friend, The Dumpster. I certainly couldn't have done it without him, but it is time to part ways. (Has it been a month, already?)

Most of the visible bones are either jack-hammered pieces of tile or ancient wooden slats that framed the living room and dining room. Buried in there somewhere are the antique, 1960s gas heaters as well as several deep maroon wood panels and dozens of plastic Powerade bottles. None of it will be missed. All of it is destined for landfill.

The departure of the dumpster marks the highpoint of the construction. We've done most of the hardest parts. The rest is cosmetic. Finishing the walls, finishing the floors, nailing up the crown molding and the floor boards and the casings. Caulking. Sanding. Painting. And then we can rest.

Goodbye, my friend. You don't have to go home, but you've got to get out of here.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

This Olde House - Part 5

So the next big project is the floor in the kitchen / dining room. Liam is modeling the existing tiles. By themselves, they aren't bad. But the grout lines are nigh on an inch wide, so they collect dirt like stink on a pig. Combine that with the fact that we've removed the wall between the two rooms and plan to unify the flooring in both of them, and the inevitable conclusion is: the tile has to go. And of course, I am the one doing it. With my charming assistant: Boo Bear.

The empty spot Liam is standing on (above) was formerly a cabinet. He's facing where the wall used to reside. With such a massive gap already leering at me, I started there.

Liam fired up the camera and snapped a couple of action shots as I began the adventure. It is a bit blurry but that is how it began: a twenty year old weight belt cinched around my waist, knee pads bearing my bulk, and a thirty five pound jackhammer chattering away in my fists.

At first, it was really really cool. I love power tools. And I absolutely love the personal application of destruction to the world around me. High carnage means high energy from me. I gnawed through the first dozen tiles in fifteen minutes. Last weekend, it took me and my father together almost an hour to do it. Today I'm doing it by myself in minutes.

I'd knock up several tiles. And as I'm shifting around the floor, Liam hops to it. He's picking up the big pieces and throwing them into the wheel barrow. He's pushing smaller pieces into a pile with the broom. He's snapping pictures. Answering the phone. It's amazing. And I actually have a problem keeping up. At least for the first hour.

By the second hour, my charming assistant was running out of steam. I was holding my own, but the buzz was beginning to fade as the bones in my hands began to grow numb. We started to figure out shortcuts to help ease the burden. Liam grabbed a little shovel and filled up the wheelbarrow in scoops rather than one piece at a time. And I started to get a feel for the proper angles for the hammer.

By the third hour, we were half way done. But Liam had jumped ship. He put in a good couple of hours and was an enormous help. So I let him head to the front yard and play with the neighbor kid. But one last photo before I fly solo. Notice the diving line Liam is straddling? And the shovels? And the full wheel barrow?

When I had to do it all myself, I would hammer up an entire row of tiles, fill the wheel barrow, haul it outside, and shovel everything into the dumpster. It took about half an hour per row. And there were six rows to do.

Around the last hour, Mom came over. She bathed the kids and took them to dinner. With everyone out of the way, I pushed through and finished the whole kitchen. But I could barely move by the end. My hands had no feeling, my arms were like rags, and I could barely aim the hammer. I think it took me half an hour to do the last six tiles. And Mom came home just as I was shoveling the last of the debris.

Then she dusted for two hours.

And then Cindy came home and dusted for two hours.

And then I had a stiff drink and prepared to sleep like the dead.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Kudos for Kiddos

Meg & Liam both go Bayou View Elementary. Seeing as Cindy is the school nurse, I guess you could say she goes there, too.

Today, they officially announced they had been awarded the US Department Of Education's Blue Ribbon award. Only four schools in all of MS received the award. Bayou View was the only elementary school among the four, the rest were high schools. So out of the entire state, only BVE was the only Blue Ribbon elementary.

We moved here because of the quiet neighborhoods, the proximity to a good school, and the short trip to all the Grandparents. (Gigi is only a little more than a mile away!) Knowing that the kids' school received one of the highest honors in the nation makes it that much better.

Good job, kids. Great job, teachers. The whole school has set an example that the rest of the Gulf Coast needs to follow. In the wake of Katrina you proved that where there is a will, there is way.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Remembering Roamer1

Stanley Cline would have turned 32 today. He shared a birthday with another famous Georgian: Jimmy Carter.

I sent a couple of Instant Messages to the folks who knew him. Maybe somewhere in the ether, he felt the karma of our thoughts nudging the memories of him. It is still so unreal to have lost him. I get odd calls from strange area codes, and I think: "I'll call Cline to see where that came from." But Cline is dead. Somebody asked me today, "Which are the Top 5 cell providers in the US." And I thought to ask Cline. But, Cline is dead.

I visited the ghost of Stanley for a little while. What we have left of him. Scrolled through his Live Journal page. Trying to figure out how we arrived at this point. Adam said Stanley's house was completely normal. Nothing out of place. No notes. No signs of foul play. Did we miss something? Were there obvious signs we should have seen? I don't think so. I still don't see it, if he left something on his blog.

Stanley's website is gone, already. But I found copies on TheWayBackMachine. It isn't the same. But it is all we have left for remembering Roamer1.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

This Olde House - Part 4.5

I decided to take most of the weekend off from construction work. I'm just burned out. Between the kids and the house and the job and working out, I needed some time to decompress.

The only thing I did this weekend was rip up the tile under the washer and dryer and 'fridge. I thought it was going to be a simple affair. I thought wrong. Very wrong.

It took my father and I forty five minutes to dash up a dozen tiles. Both of us with hammers and chisels and crowbars. Especially difficult to get it out of the corners. Bad angles. Didn't want to bash up the walls. So our backs paid the price. And I had a huge throbbing blister on my right forefinger within an hour.

And that was only a dozen tiles.

I'm gonna rent out some kind of jackhammer or at least a sledge hammer. That tile was a beast.

There's at least another six dozen to go. Between now and next Friday. And I haven't even started to think about the demo on the small bathroom.

My achin' back.

Friday, September 28, 2007

MOVIE: Eastern Promises

It is a grim omen when your movie begins with a hemorrhage. Eastern Promises starts with a torrent of blood and continues the flow for nigh on two hours. Gritty. Remorseless. And untroubled by anything clean or sane. It's a disease of a movie, slowly gasping out its last breaths until it has nothing left to give.

I think it was about counter-balances. It all begins with a violent death, the end of a life. On to a dying mother and the struggles of her child as it fights for life. A feeble newborn, slick with her mother's blood. One character is a nurse (who tries to bring people health) and a mid-wife (bringing new lives into the world.) The other main character is referred to as an undertaker (preparing the dead for the next world) and a Russian thug (bringing anything but health to several people.) The love and forgiveness of family members contrasted against the loyalty and dedication of an organized crime family. The two worlds co-mingle while conflicting on multiple levels.

One character's loss is another character's gain. And in the end, there is always some form of balance. At least that's what I think it was trying to express.

Short version? Good flick if you don't mind the rough edges. But you're put off by violence, nudity, or rampant vulgarity, you may want to skip this one.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Vegan vmail

Left on my voicemail:
"Hey, Daddy. It's Liam. I tried salad today. Mommy made me one. With cheese and Goldfish. It tasted like leaves. I tried ranch dressing, too. It tasted pretty good. I dipped my fork in it. And had three bites. Anyway, call me. Or talk to me when you get home. I had salad. I love you. It's Liam. Bye!"

How does he know what leaves taste like?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Wounded

Cindy inflicted a pretty gnarly flesh wound upon herself today. She was cleaning up some of the debris from the gap in the master bathroom, when she brushed up against a jagged piece of tile. By jagged, I mean "sharp enough to slice right through her."

I dashed home. Her mom dashed her to a nearby clinic. The doctor stopped the bleeding and doused her with some Superglue. So she lucked out and didn't get any stitches. And we both lucked out because I guess the doctor had a crush on her and decided not to bill her. If he had, it would have been $300 for the use of his eagle eye and a couple of drops of glue.

If a clinic can get a hundred bucks per drop of adhesive, I'm in the wrong business! Nothing like making a tidy profit off the wounded.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sweaty return

For the first time since I started renovating the house, I managed to slip into the gym. Felt great! Pilates went pretty well. Except for the stretching I did before class. I've lost soooooo much flexibility that I'm almost too embarrassed to being attempting some of the moves.

But it all started to click again once I fired up the iPod and hit the free weights. Lots of reps. Lots of sets. Lots of difference exercises. Chest and triceps. Everything worked out better than I planned and I imagine I'll be back in full force next week.

I wrapped it up with a 3.5 mile run/job on the treadmill. I didn't really get up to full speed, but only halfway through, I was perspiring like the fat bastard that I am

It was quite a sweat return.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My kingdom for a nap

"Insomnia is a gross feeder. It will nourish itself on any kind of thinking, including thinking about not thinking. " ~Clifton Fadiman

Sleep never came. For the second night in a row. What came were endless obsessive diagrams and schematics. Over and over. Plans for building M.C. Escher-esque walls and corners. Impossible designs that I had to unravel and construct in my living room. And as the night continued its slow endless creep toward morning, I couldn't stop the thoughts. I couldn't snap out of maddening fugue state.

I couldn't put the pieces together. I couldn't make them edges meet. And though I know I wasn't awake, I don't think I slept.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Our little narc

An actual email bouncing around the household:

From: Liam McDougal
Date: Sep 18, 2007 4:01 PM
Subject: Meg chewing
To: Cindy McDougal
Dear Mom, Meg was chewing on her ponytail holder and now it is all

Couple of thoughts:
  1. The boy is 8, and he's emailing tips to his mother?
  2. Slobbery?
  3. Where was Meg while he was composing this bit of prosecution?
  4. Why didn't he CC his Daddy???

Saturday, September 22, 2007

This Olde House - Part 4

Another fun filled weekend. By fun, of course, I mean "Back breaking manual labor and trying to convince Cindy to chill out and trust me on this whole "renovation" thing.

Per the new norm: Click any picture to enlarge.

The living room and dining room have been primed with two coats of drywall primer. Five gallons of the stuff. We are glad to be rid of the red wall panels! Now, the wait between stages of the project isn't nearly as bad, since we don't have to suffer through crimson walls burning our retinas.

Cindy went ahead started painting the ceiling in the living room. I gotta admit, at first I didn't think we needed to burn cycles on the ancient popcorn. But once Cindy started rolling it on, the difference was staggering. Check the photos, but we didn't have a white ceiling, we had a gray one! Not for long, though. Cindy put her back into it and covered up the haggard old thing. Quick note: popcorn ceilings suck up paint at a phenomenal rate. Two gallons for just one room!

After Cindy cleared some space, I whipped out the rollers and dropped the big green hammer. Check the furniture all covered in plastic. Loads of fun there, too. We pretty much haven't been able to use the living room for two weeks. But that just helps encourage us.

Anyway, the green paint went down pretty slowly. It's a fairly dark color and any thin areas showed up quickly. I'd start rolling new lines and notice old places where I hadn't put it down thick enough. So I'd roll back over that a couple of times. Two steps forward, one step back. But once it was down, nobody would ever know the horror of the red wood panel walls!

Of course you can't keep the kids under wraps for too long. And it was only a matter of time before they came up for air. Which means they fired up the Nag Machine and switched into Full Auto Fire mode with "I Wanna Paint!" and "Can I Paint!" A few thousand rounds later, I had to give in to the fullisade. First up was Ms Meg. Couple of the finer details from the picture: 1) Check the safety glasses that Cindy made her wear, 2) She's barefoot and still wearing her PJs, 3) Check my sharp flipflops!, 4) Yes, I'm sweating like a stuck hog, paintin' hard work! Anyway, she slapped down a couple lines of the green paint and quickly grew bored.

As you can imagine, The Boy didn't want to be left out of the equation. He threw on some shoes and joined us on the front line. By this time, I'm about half way done with the living room. He had the floors covered with paper so I left him go to town. He did a pretty good job and stuck it out longer than his sister did. Unfortunately the picture doesn't do any justice to the scope and magnitude of his Bed Head. The whole mass of his hair was pretty much one fluffy cow lick, but it doesn't show up very well. It looked like he'd stuck his toe in a light socket!

Once the kids were spent, Cindy wrapped up the ceiling and I wrapped up the walls. Here's a shot of the long wall with the windows. No more panels. No more Little House On The Prairie casings. It does look a bit TOO green, but the white of the windows and the white of the crown molding will offset everything. Fix up that old ass door one day, too!

Several hours after we got started. And here's the opposite wall, with Lady McD tidying up the mess. Her safety glasses came off long ago. And check her favorite Braves shirt. See the green paint? Heh heh heh. The back is even worse. I don't think that one will see the light of day in public again.

And that's our weekend. Painting, painting, and more painting. Next steps: level the floor in the dining room, rip up the old tiles, put down the new tiles, and new molding for everyone.