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.