It's not about the house.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What The Hell, Let's Make It Three*

Oh my, me likee Shark Week...

*Show us your junk!

Show Me Your Junk

Remember how confused I was about the whole deed thing a while back? (My god, was that just three weeks ago?)

Well, today -- today, after three and a half years of living in this house -- I got a letter from something called National Deed Service, Inc., offering to procure me a copy of my own deed for the low, low price of $59.50!

Oh, you didn't think I was going to link to their actual website, did you?

Now, I don't actually believe they're out there trolling for blog posts from people too stupid to understand what a deed is and where it comes from (ahem) -- I don't really think anyone out there read my post and then went to the trouble to look me up and mailed me this junk specifically -- but I do think it's an odd coincidence. And fortuitous.

I sure am I glad I posted what I did, when I did, and called and asked the questions that I did, and y'all wrote in and filled in the blanks for me. Otherwise I'd be sitting here today, writing a check, and writing a post about how glad I am that my certified deed copy finally arrived.

And then y'all would know I'm just a moron.

Ladies And Gentlemen...

My very first boss.

Honest to god.

And you wonder why Prudence makes so many poop jokes...

Where We Stand On The Heat Project

Plumber #1, um, died.

Plumber #2 kept making appointments to price the job, not showing up for them, and then calling at random hours when nobody was home and leaving messages saying he'd be here in half an hour and maybe we should just leave the back door open for him.

Plumber #3 never showed up (hey, let's give him the benefit of the doubt: maybe he died, too?).

Plumber #4 wanted $800 just to install an electric water heater, so he didn't get to price the big job.

Plumber #5 wore a suit and quoted $6000, which he would not break down.

Plumber #6 came to price the job, but never sent an estimate (again?).

Plumber #7 never showed up (jeez, another one?).

Now we're on plumber#8. We called him yesterday and he hasn't called back yet.

Can't say as I blame him much, considering how they seem to drop around here...

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Cobbler's Children

Guess where Johnny is. Ah go on, guess...

(No, not at the pub -- although whoever said that gets the green cookie in the fur-lined pocket.)

He's across the street, of course. At Jimbo's, stripping wallpaper. As a favor. You know, to be neighborly.

Which is neighborly and all. I mean, its nice to be nice, as Johnny would say. And we do want to borrow that scaffolding when the time comes. But I can't help thinking to myself:

Um, Honey? If you feel like working in this weather, I've got this half-finished closet here that could use another dose of joint compound.

Ah well, going prostrate now...

Perchance To Dream...

This was me last night:

Oh my god. I couldn't sleep and I had undifferentiated anxiety like you wouldn't believe! Here's how bad it got: I watched "The Two Coreys" on A&E. Twice. Because it made me feel better about myself.

So this is me today:

I'm dirty in that sleepless way that no shower can scrub clean. Dirty down to my lungs. Sluggish and greasy and swollen. I've brushed my teeth three times but they still taste all fuzzy, and I can't seem to ingest the sugar fast enough. I have to stay awake long enough to pick Johnny up from work, and then...

This will be me:

For about eleven hours. So that I can get back to my normal self tomorrow.

Like this:

Hubba hubba. Betcha never woulda guessed ol' Pru was such a hottie.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I'm sorry for the small type of what follows, but the format of the poem doesn't work if each line doesn't fit on one line. If you can't read it as is, I've posted the entire thing (with stupid ugly formatting, and without the links) as a comment on this very post...

“I cannot come to camp today,” says Brandon M, “and by the way
“I want more money than I said. The guy I shot at, he's not dead;
“The guys I stomped, they're walking since. So let’s talk dollars, forget sense.”

Georgetown House worked really hard for this homage from the bard
(That’s me this time, not William S. – and how do you like that largesse?)
So she gets an entire verse (except the part on me, of course)

When others said “He’s a mistake” I gave the kid a
brand-clean slate.
I thought he knew the chance he’d gotten, I thought he'd stop being rotten.
But I was wrong, others were right: this dog’s still looking for a fight.

LadyScot’s one of the ones who remembers the brawls and guns.
Donna played by private email, bringing up the new five-year deal.
(Joe D. – though he's off the mark – gets credit for the Whinehouse snark)

Rookie holdouts are the norm, but from a punk it’s just bad form.
If you’re that good, let’s see you prove it. We’ve seen you’re* ass, let’s see you move it.
Really, what’s your damage, Heather? I’m sorry, I mean Meriweather…

*not a typo, but a very clever play on words…

Ten Reasons Why I Couldn't Care Less About The New TV Show, "Flipping Out"

In no particular order...

1. Because when money's no object, renovation's no challenge.

2. Because if all these shows about zillionaires in L.A. County bear any resemblance to any actual "reality," then the AssVac is a Frank Lloyd Wright original.

3. Because any business that makes employees answer the phone with anything other than "Hello, Blah-Blah Business" deserves a collective punch in the nose.

4. Because stocking the fridge with Evian is not renovation, it's staging -- and it's pretentious, no matter which way the labels are facing.

5. Because you just know that the zillionaires who buy these things from him are only going to gut them and start over anyway.

6. Because I already have one Bravo show about a demanding diva, thank you.

7. Because the web site doesn't even bother to show before and after pictures of the houses. As if we're going to tune in for the star's sheer hunkiness? I'm gagging, Miss Thing.

8. Because, if he does happen to encounter any real nightmares like the rest of us plebeians suffer through, well, I kind of turn on the TV to avoid thinking about that.

9. Because the best advice he has to offer is "upgrade kitchen, bath & flooring." Well, duh.

10. Because, I'm sorry, but -- seriously? I'll watch this guy wade hip-deep through just about any disgusting thing, but I don't want to be privy to the repercussions if Miss Thing should break a nail.

Bravo Channel, Tuesdays at 10:00. Don't watch it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


This website that talked about the John Edwards thing that I posted on? One of the ones I linked to, in the interest of giving credit where credit's due? Which they didn't, but whatever?

Well, I signed up. In order to leave a comment about the whole John Edwards thing. To sign up you have to give an email address, and when you do they send you a welcome email...

"Thank you for signing up for the conservative revolution at!"

Oh, shit!


Somebody came to my blog today from somewhere in the Netherlands. I'm not quite sure I understand this, and if anyone out there speaks Dutch and can explain to me what this Google thinger says and why I'm on it, it would be greatly appreciated...

But in the meantime, following the click-leads, I discovered that there is a new picture of the AssVac on the town assessor's website, and so I've replaced my header photo.

Please to compare (or cf., as it were).



Purdy, ain't it?

Okay, maybe I exaggerated on the "trees" that have grown up along the side -- but they're much bushier with leaves on them.

And that's Chuck (TFT) parked out front.

We hate him.

Maybe I Should Clarify...

Johnny's last name starts with a C.

He was working with Joint Compound, fixing up the mess I made -- suffering, one might say, for my transgressions.

And then he comes up bleeding from the palm?

You can't see the wound so well in this image, but it just cries out "NRSV cover photo," don't you think?

Okay, so the bleeding was not spontaneous, but I stand by my reaction. Which went something along the lines of:

Look! Stigmata!

I'm letting him sit on the couch today and watch Adam Sandler movies. Because I don't want to wake up tomorrow morning in a field of blood or hanging from a tree or anything.


Three weeks ago, this happened.

Two days later, this happened.

Then two days ago, this happened.

And twelve hours later, this happened.

Seven hours after that, voila!



Hey, if it means more hits on my blog, then who gives a holy hoo?

Hi, Wonkette!
Love, Prudence

Friday, July 27, 2007

Stig It

Lookit what happened to Johnny tonight:

If that's not a sign, I don't know what is...

I Changed My Mind

Meriweather's a punk.

I thought otherwise, but I was wrong. He's a punk. He's a punk and I hate him. He's a punk and I hate him and I can't promise I won't change my mind again later but for now -- phooey. Lalapalooka

Hey here's a thought... CONTEST ALERT:

If anyone who doesn't live in New England (hint hint) can tell me what the hell I'm talking about, I will memorialize you in verse. Oh what the hell, Yankees can play, too (the region, that is, not the team. The team from the Bronx can Nantucket -- if you know what I'm saying.).

And how 'bout this: since I've had complaints before about closing the contests too soon -- and as a special little reward for those of you who tune in on the weekends, I will leave this contest open until noon on Sunday (I was going to say I'd leave it open for two whole days, but a girl's gotta give herself time to versify), and I will write into the poem all the names of anyone who posts any original part of the reason why I think Meriweather is a punk.

Come on, wouldn't you like to see me try to come up with a rhyme for "Meriweather"?

Won't You Be Mine? Take 2

Dang, that'll teach me to just hit "Publish" when the phone rings. Here's an edited version. Sorry for all y'all who suffered through already...

When I got home from work just now, there was this big black pickup truck parked out in front of our house with a big burly bearded guy hopping out of it. He was headed across the street but turned when I pulled up in front of him and shouted "Is that in your way?"

"No," I hollered from the driver's seat. "You're all set!" But by the time I was out of the car he was on his way back over.


See, we don't have the best relationship with our neighbors. Not all of them, but several. We've been told by other locals that their dislike of us has to do mostly with the facts that #1. they've all lived here forever and we haven't; #2. they wanted the AssVac and we bought it; #3. they wanted us to give them money when we moved in and we didn't. Ta da! The Montagues and Capulets it ain't, but there you have it.

We especially don't like the people that live across the street. They're -- well, how can I put this? I wouldn't be terribly surprised to have TV crews show up on our block because one of these goony goo-goos was caught in the act of setting cats on fire. (I believe that is the technical term for it, is it not? "Goony goo-goo"? Ref. Eddie Murphy, Raw?).


So this guy -- this big burly guy with a big burly beard on his big burly head who had gotten out of his big burly truck and headed for the goony goo-goo house -- was now heading straight for me and saying something about painting. I couldn't understand what, precisely, because there were too many cars going by behind me, so all I caught was:

traffic noises traffic noises "... paint your house?"

Oh come on. We'll get to it, all right? Go burn a cat or something, will you?

I turned to look at the AssVac over my shoulder (and I'm looking at this version of her, remember...

... not the nice, still-in-one-piece version from the old picture above). I cupped my hands around my ears to indicate I hadn't heard, and said the only thing that sprang to mind.

"My husband's a painter."

Very good, sweetheart! And you are a writer and Mommie Dearest is your mother and Khurston is your sister! Here, have a spearmint leaf...

I don't know where I was going with that comment. Might have been a "we'll do it ourselves, thanks" deliberate deflection. Could have been a "Cobbler's children have no shoes" sort of apologetic shrug. Just possibly it had a hint of "I have a husband and he's huge and eats burly thugs like you for breakfast so please leave me alone" mixed in there (and don't you like that I at least said "please" in my imaginary not-quite threat?).

Whatever I meant by it, though, this is what the thug said in reply:

"My name is Jimbo, and I own the house across the street. The tenants that were in there for the last few years are moving out -- thank god, they made a disaster of the place, the scumbags -- "

(hey, he said it, I didn't)

"I haven't got anyone moving in until September, and I'd really like to find someone to look after the house for me till then. Most of the folks around here are old and dying [sad, but true], except for the scumbags [also true: they're frightening young and virile-looking] -- and this Polish lady over here is just a lulu!"

[Also true. "The Polish lady" (although I thought Lithuanian) would be the kitty-corner neighbor who pounded on our door one night wanting to sell us meat. Long story. Actually, no -- that's pretty much most of it right there...]

"Anyway, if you wouldn't mind just, you know, keeping an eye out, I've got a mess of pipe scaffolding I'd be happy to lend you -- you know, in exchange -- whenever you plan on painting."

"Yeah!" I gasped. "Of course we'd be happy to keep an eye on things. Even without -- you know. But I'll tell Johnny about the scaffolding. I don't know if he --" I have (finally) learned not to speak for Johnny about anything regarding his profession, so I cut myself off.

"My name's Erin, by the way -- Johnny's my husband."

"Yeah, I see him around sometimes. I see you, too. You guys are always working on that house!"

Ah, go on...

"So -- Erin, is it? Jimbo," he said again, and stuck out his Hagrid of a hand, which I shook.

"Nice to meet you!" I enthused, perhaps embarrassingly.

"Likewise," says Jimbo.

And we went our separate ways.

Well, what do you know? A real, actual, honest-to-god neighbor. A big, burly, you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours neighbor right here outside my house. I shook his hand and everything!

Too bad he doesn't actually live here, but still.

Jimbo. Huh.

It might not have been a bad idea to get a last name. Or a phone number.

Ah well. Here's hoping nothing too terrible happens to his house. At least not while I'm in charge...

A Reminder...

What it looks like when I do it:

What it looks like when Johnny does it (same corners):

See, when we first bought this house I swore I would never attempt this kind of work -- because, as I believe I've mentioned, he's been doing it for thirty years and is really really good at it. I knew I could never live up or work as fast, so I figured it wasn't worth the fights.

Plus that meant I wouldn't have to, you know, do it.

But I got possessed. By Goody and Prudence and the Puritan Manifesto, and the notion that this was just a closet, so who cares? Johnny approved that concept before I began. Which, ahem, was by definition before he saw what havoc I was capable of wreaking.

Apparently there's a line between "just a closet" and "still part of the house we own and have to live in" -- and apparently I crossed it.

Twenty minutes into the job, shirtless and drenched in sweat (oh, did I mention it was 94 degrees yesterday?) Johnny came marching into the bedroom (where I was folding laundry, if you can believe that -- and believe me, I want credit for it) to announce:

"Don't ever try to tape anything again.


Yes, dear. If you insist.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gotta Go!

I'm shutting down my computer now. Wanna know why? Ask me why!

Because Johnny's going to sand and j.c. the closet in my office and he told me to throw a sheet over the 'puter to protect it from the dust!

Gee, maybe I should have thought of that before I sanded last time...


As Seen On TV!

I almost forgot -- look what I got for my birthday:

Anyone who's ever met my husband won't be shocked. See, he has a bit of a problem with obsessive desire for every late-night gadget he can get his hands on.

(I mean for sale late at night, sheesh. Get your minds out of the gutter!)

But I have been on a bit of a smoothie kick lately. I had been using the whizzer stick to make them. You know, that magic-wandy thing you may have seen on TV about seven years ago? Turns out it doesn't make mayonnaise so well, and you absolutely cannot make whipped cream out of skim milk no matter how long you stand there whizzing, but it is good for lots of other things. Like smoothies.

So anyway at least it makes sense that he would buy this particular gadget for me at this particular time. Shows some knowledge of the things I do. Shows forethought and planning. All good things, husband-present-wise.

Plus, now after I make a smoothie I just have one messy dish to clean! (Ding!)

What concerns me, though, is that he bought this at a store. Which means there's an "As Seen On TV" store. Around here somewhere. That Johnny can get to. Without me.

I think we're going to need a bigger kitchen...

Days Go By

Believe it or not, I'm actually running out of ideas for projects to do around here...

· Johnny's going to finish the closet. Someday. He spoke today about buying a gallon of joint compound, so maybe it's on his radar.

· I've decided to just leave the damn door for the time being. I'm going to paint it before we sell, but that's years away and I like it the way it is. I can't varnish it if I'm going to paint it, so it will still suck up moisture every time it rains, but we keep a rag handy and just wipe the stain-soaked puddles off the floor. Okay, maybe that isn't quite the best plan but I'm sticking to it...

· Johnny and I talked this morning about me pulling wood panelling off the dining room walls, but I don't think we can afford to re-drywall and run electric in there right now, and -- as ugly as the panels are -- they're not as ugly as living with half-torn cardboard walls. Trust me, we did it in the living room for about two years. It ain't nice.

· And there's no sense replacing all the face plates if I'm only going to tear down the walls and re-electric later. Right? Right, Goody? Right?

· There is that other door but I don't know what I'm going to do with it and, ugh, I don't know if I can face it...

I don't want to stop with such a good head of steam going, but honestly I can't think of anything. And the project I'm supposed to be putting my shoulder to is the furnace replacement, but that is so much hurry up and wait I'm getting whiplash. And panicked. Days go by, and they just keep going by, endlessly pulling us into the winter...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Day 44: If You Can't Stand The Heat...

So I wrote before about this window in the kitchen. How Johnny changed the sash already but it keeps slipping off the pulley. How we spent 45 sweaty minutes together trying to make it right, but four times it slipped off again until finally we said “Screw it, we don’t need no open window in the kitchen anyhow.”

Well, it’s almost August, and it turns out we do.

I’ve decided over the intervening months that the problem is Johnny used nylon clothesline cord, which is slippy, and if I just replace it with good cotton sash cord it will work just fine.

After looking for twenty minutes in the basement, the pile of crap behind the kitchen door, the junk drawer in the kitchen and the one in the living room, behind the couch near the last windows I worked on, and the scary cubby under the stairs, I found the sash cord in the spare bedroom on the floor. Right where – oh yeah, that’s right – I left it. So I’d know where it was in case I needed it again.

(Therefore Gracie – a.k.a. Mommie Dearest – and Charlie were both right about its whereabouts, but I found it before I read their comments so I don’t owe them shit.


Okay fine. Thanks, Mom! But Charlie I think was just being obnoxious.)

This time it was easy. I only had to change the right-hand sash. I remembered to check the time when I began and everything, and it was only eleven minutes until I was ready to start putting things back together again. Just line up the new sash with the old one to get the length right, and tie a knot.

Hang on a second. Why won’t the old one move?

Oh balls, it’s stuck, too. Well, what’s another eleven minutes, right?


On this one, the metal runner-thingy has been tacked in with nails so small I can’t get a hammer under them to prize them out. When I try pulling on the entire piece of metal, it bends and finally breaks, nail still firmly in place. Well, at least the piece of metal’s unattached now.

I take out the two screws holding in the piece of wood so I can get at the weight-hole, and discover that this piece of wood – like those two others in the living room – has never been 100% cut out. Fortunately, when we “redid” the kitchen last year (and I put it in quotes because – well, you’ll see) we never put the fronts back on the window frames. So I can put my hand right in behind:

I can’t get it in enough to pull the weight out or replace the sash cord, but I can at least shove out that uncut piece of wood.

CRACK! Ta da! It’s free! You laugh and say nothing’s that simple – but it can be if you’re cavalier enough about it

I unscrew the pulley at the top so as to de-wedgify the old nylon sash and com face to face with this:

Okay so it's not the greatest picture, but it's a spider egg sac! Oh man. For-sure there's spider poop inside that weight hole -- maybe even spider babies -- and I’ve already had my fingers all up in it.

I take the old cord off, put the new one off, cut it to measure, pass it up through the weight hole to the pulley hole up top, freak out when I touch something fuzzy in there only to discover it was insulation, wonder for a minute why I’ve never touched insulation before in any of the other windows that I’ve done, decide not to think about it anymore, and voilá – I’m ready to start putting things together once again.

I tried to tack the bent and broken the metal piece back into place but the wood’s so hard I couldn’t seem to drive the nail (and maybe I was a wee bit afraid to swing the hammer too hard that close to the glass and everything). Finally I said “Screw it, we don’t need no metal piece on the kitchen window anyhow.”

It sticks a little, but it works.

Day 44: Accomplished
Time: 32 minutes – I checked!
Cost: Nothing.
Having My Mother Know Just Where The Sash Cord Was From Three Hundred Miles And Two States Away: Preternatural – unless she saw it when she was here and so she’s cheating…

If You Were Me...

... where would you have put the sash cord when you were done with it the last time?

I already looked: in the basement, in the junk drawer, and in the living room (where I was using it).

Any ideas?

Somewhere Over The AssVac...

I wanted to show you how my skylight has turned into a Pollocky study in bird poop, but my pictures just keep coming out like this:

Of course. Because it's, you know, a skylight.

So you're just going to have to take my word: it's gross.

I know, you're heartbroken that you don't get to see it, right?

I've really got to get over this fascination I seem to have lately with excrement...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hey, Guess What?

Beer soothes the pain of sunburn very nicely...

Anybody wanna give me an endorsement deal? Shipyard? Endurance? Not even Harpoon? Not even because I went to the same high school as one of the founders? Okay, fine...

Happy Birthday to me, then.


(That last was a typo, but it's funny -- especially in context -- so I leave it. Till the morrow, y'all...)

Q: How Many Birthday Girls Does It Take To Change A Window Sash?

A: None. Birthday Girls don't work!

I Pricked A Winner!

Prick is my favorite, though Poppo never said it,
Leaving it up to the reader to get it.
All that I know is I started in May,
Going a month with a job every day.
I even extended, I’m two months in now
And this guy thinks he’s so darn clever – this cow
Ruminated my Manifestation
Into a bolus of appropriation.
Some folks (like Goody) say I should be flattered;
Maybe I would be, if I thought the cow mattered.

Goody wants me to point out that I know it's not technically that P-word I've been so careful not to say, and I'm not actually accusing anyone of anything. Just having a little fun, and pointing out an incredibly (some might say unbelievably) happenstantial -- oh, let's just call it a coincidence, shall we?

Monday, July 23, 2007

The P Word

In a comment on my last post, Robert suggested a P-word contest, regarding this little nugget that I closed with:

"This Fellow I’ve Just Heard Of Who’s Decided To Do A Blog Entry A Day For Thirty Days About His Renovation Project: Oh, I know there’s a P word I could use here, but it’s not one a lady in my line of work likes to throw around…"

So gimme a P!

This time the winner doesn't have to be first or right -- I'll just pick whichever word I like the best, so enter early and often. (If you win, as always, I'll make a poem with your name in it.)

I think I might already know what form this poem will be in, but I'm open to suggestions (especially from winners)...

Day 43: Window Mistreatment

I actually didn’t feel like doing anything today, because I’m sunburned and I’m tired and it’s a grand, soft day outside, and it just feels like a good day to crawl back in bed with the newspapers I never got around to reading yesterday…

But I didn’t do anything yesterday, and I didn’t really do anything on Saturday, and I didn’t do anything on Friday either, and – yeesh, now that I’m looking I really haven’t done anything much around here since the joint compound incident last Tuesday. Phone calls, furniture pick-ups, poetry – none of that counts as work so much as noodling around avoiding work.

And I know I’m not doing anything tomorrow because it’s my birthday. So I absolutely had to do something today.

Easiest job I could think of was to move those curtain-rod brackets. You know, the ones I hung in the living room too close to the picture window, so the curtains wound up looking all pinched and – I believe the phrase I used was “anal-retentive looking”? Just move ’em over a couple inches, spit spot, easy peasy.

Well, yes, except for when I went to use my drill there was something not quite right with it all of a sudden. When I switch it over to “unscrew,” the drill itself keeps loosening until the head falls out. Took me three times climbing down and picking the damn thing off the floor to realize that was happening. I just thought I was leaving it in the wrong position. I’d pick it up, put it back in, tighten it, climb back up and – zzzzz, plop.

So I got my girlie screwdriver. Not as quick, but much less frustrating. And for only four little screws out and back in again, not that much of a waste of time.

Now, I long ago tired of the “what size hole should I drill in the wall to accommodate this anchor” question. The size they tell you is always – but always – too small, and if you try to bash the anchor into it anyway because they said that was the size, it smushes and gets stuck and then you have to cut it off with an exacto knife and make another hole right next to it. Then you have to inch up in drill sizes until you get to the point that it’s too big, then you have to find a bigger anchor, and then a bigger screw.

Screw that. Nowadays I start with an industrial-sized screw-and-anchor and a size 6 drill bit. At least I know whatever it is I’m hanging won’t fall down.

Except for – whoops. You’re going to be able to see these screws. And they’re in the living room. So I really kind of want to use the original black screws the bracket came with.

(Speaking of which, why can’t you find black screws in any hardware store, when every single hardware-fixture-thing I’ve ever bought is black and they don’t all come with them? The closet to an answer I ever got was a recommendation to buy brass screws and color them with a magic marker. Oh, take my word, it’s lover-ly.)

So I want to reuse the screws I just took out, but I just put industrial-sized holes into the wall. I don’t want to go drilling yet another hole, so my options are to use the big ugly industrial screws, or use the little black ones and hope they hold.

Well, the big ones don’t fit through the holes in the hardware anyway, so I guess we’ve got our answer.

Sheesh, I’m a great planner-aheader, aren’t I?

I used the black ones (obviously). They’re a bit slippy – if I pull on the thing I can pull it right out – but I don’t really see anybody pulling on the thing, and they seem to hold the curtain up all right.

I could only find one smaller anchor for the other bracket, and there was no way I was going to Lowe’s at this point for another. So I decided to use the little (a.k.a. “proper-sized”) one on top, where the fulcrum of the weight would be, and the bigger one on the bottom where it was less likely to slip. I marked my spaces, put the smaller drill bit on… and hit a stud.

Dang! If I’d known there was a stud there I wouldn’t have needed the anchor in the first place! I could have used the one small one on the other side and just put screws in here! But now that I’ve drilled the gol-dang hole I have to use the anchor even though there is a stud, because the hole of course is too big for the screw alone.

At least I got to skip the too-big anchor, though. Just put the bottom screw straight in to the stud and called it a job well done. The curtain rods might look a little saggy, but there’s no way I’m moving them again.

When I went to take the “after” picture to compare with the “before” one I posted a few weeks ago, I tried thirty different angles, with lights on and off, standing on things and laying down. I simply could not figure out how I had managed to get the entire window in the shot. Finally, I backed aaaalllll the way up into the dining room and, with every single light on, I got this:

(yes, that is the funky futon I was fomenting discontent over the other day.)

And then, when I actually went to the computer to look at the “before” picture, it turns out I didn’t get the whole thing in the shot at all.

So you can’t really compare the two, you’ll just have to trust me. Even if they are a little floppy, they look much better now…

Day 43: Accomplished
Time: I don’t know, but shorter than it took to write this, that’s for sure. Half an hour, maybe?
Cost: Nothing.
This Fellow I’ve Just Heard Of Who’s Decided To Do A Blog Entry A Day For Thirty Days About His Renovation Project: Oh, I know there’s a P word I could use here, but it’s not one a lady in my line of work likes to throw around…

Cheap Stuff!

I meant to say this on Saturday but I got so caught up bitching about my husband that I plumb forgot...

If any of y'all live near an Ocean State Job Lot and you have a bathroom or kitchen you're re-doing, go quick! They have really good sinks and faucets for really cheap. I puked when I saw them. The same faucet I put in my bathroom for $150 or something sick like that (in a different finish, but still the exact same brand and everything) for $25!

I don't know names or anything, but they had good bathroom sinks for $35 -- just the basin, that is, not a vanity or anything -- but still. Thirty-five bucks? Puke puke puke!

So go, buy them out, redo your bathrooms and tell everybody that your friend EGE sent you. She'll be the one hanging from the curtain rod.

Now I'm going to go move over my curtains and call it a day...


Um... remember how I said we spent most of yesterday at the beach?

Well, what I didn't say was that my sister tried to make me wear sunscreen but I refused because it's greasy and stinky and besides it wasn't even all that hot, and maybe she got the burny Irish complexion but me, I got the Albanian skin so I tan anyway.

(Yes, I know. Sun and cancer and all that. Y'all throw away your Cheetos and your salt shakers and your coffee pots and your char-grilled foods, and your drinks and smokes and all the other happy things in life, and then you can leave a comment on my blog telling me how important sunscreen is -- K?)

Anyway, it turns out even the Albanian skin can't protect you when you've been cooped up working on the house and haven't seen the sun in going on three years. Or when you dive right in for the first time with four hours of it in a two-piece suit without the sunscreen.

This is what I look like this morning:

The backs of my thighs are the really funnest part.

So we're going to have to see about finding a job I can accomplish around here today without having to touch myself...

And yes, Khurston, you were right.

But if I turn up tan tomorrow, I am so posting another picture of it.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Does This Look Like A Two-Year -Old To You?

We didn't do anything in the house today either, because today we did this:

And this:
Except mostly we did these sorts of things at the beach, but I forgot to bring my camera. Which is just as well, because you know I would have broken the damn thing if I brought it. And then my pictures wouldn't look anywhere near as good as this (ahem).

PS Can you see the sagging of my roof over the baby's right shoulder? Nice, no?

Oh, and PPS
I don't know who that guy is sitting in the chair in the first picture. He just followed us home from the beach. I think he's like a bum or something...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

MORE Dead Old Lady Crap

Oh my god I’m gonna kill him.

But first, a little background

Yes, you’ll all think this is strange, and I don’t usually tell people about it until we know them a little better, but you have to know in order for me to bitch about the following, so here goes:

Johnny sleeps on a futon in the living room.

When we moved in to our first apartment, ten years ago, we did the regular-old, normal-people, queen-bed thing. And we didn’t give up easily, either.

He snores, I slept in earplugs.

I snore, sometimes – mostly when I’m sick or drunk. (And which is less ladylike to admit? That I snore, or that I only snore when I’m dead-blind-paralytic drunk? Either way) Johnny just suffers and then tells everyone about it the next day, and for years...

We lasted about eighteen months, and then we parted sleepy-ways.

If you know us, you won’t be shocked to hear that, after eighteen months in that particular apartment, we still hadn’t finished unpacking, let alone set up the spare bedroom. So Johnny – being the gentleman of the house (and the louder snorer) – started sleeping on the futon in the living room.

This was fine with him because, being the youngest of thirteen children raised in a three-bedroom house on the south side of Dublin, he spent the first sixteen years of his life sleeping on the sofa in the sitting room.

When we at last did unpack and set up the second bedroom, he was perfectly happy to stay right where he was. When we moved apartments, he stayed there (on the futon, that is; he did allow it was okay to shift it to the new living room). And, finally, when we bought a house, still he stayed.

So there, I said it.

I don’t care that he doesn’t sleep with me. I lived alone for most of my adult life before I met him, and to be perfectly honest those eighteen months in Southie were uncomfortable for reasons that had to do with more than just his snoring. When we do spend an entire night in the same bed – when we travel, say – we usually wake up angry in the morning. He kicks and snores and I poke him and pee a lot. Not in the bed, I mean, but, you know: I’m up and down.

But I do wish he wouldn’t have to sleep in the living room.

We’ve had this fight enough times that I’ve given it up. I say “There’s a perfectly good – king sized! – bed in the guest room. There isn’t cable but we could put it in and get another TV. We’ve got a futon in the office, so there would still be a spare bedroom. Don’t you think you might be happier in there?”

Glare, glare, glare at me, he does!

“Okay fine, so you’re staying in the living room. But can we talk about the futon?”

This particular futon was a hand-me-down from our friend Marie of Roumania. She slept on it (I think, or maybe it was in her living room; I can’t remember) for – I’m going to hazard a guess and say fifteen years before she handed it down to us? And that was ten years ago. So the thing – much as I love Marie – ain’t been a glorious cycle of song for donkey’s years.

And he won’t replace it.

We got a new mattress for it last year, but that doesn’t mean stink when it comes to looking at the thing. And now that we’re finally getting our living room into some semblance of actual livable shape, I've been noticing for the first time what an eyesore this thing is.

Again, generally I don’t care. But we’re not going to live here forever. And when we do go to sell, it would help if the place didn’t look like it was decorated with Matthew McConaughey’s dorm-room cast-offs. If we’re going to do it then, well, mightn't we as well furnish it sooner? So we can actually enjoy our purchases for a while?

Johnny did acknowledge that the couch he slept on a few weeks ago when he was working down the Cape was nice, and he allowed as how he'd sleep on something like that if we could get one. But anyone who can afford to pay what Larry (Johnny’s boss) charges for house painting, has way more money than we will ever have. (I’m not saying it’s not worth it: it is. They’re good. But it’s a lot. And Johnny doesn’t get but an hourly wage out of the bargain.) So – although I didn’t see the couch – I’m going to assume we won’t be able to afford one like it any time soon.

And at last we get to why I’m gonna kill him.

Yesterday, in the building where I work (a residential building), I saw this notice:


ASKING $200.00

And this picture (now, this is a picture of the picture, for reasons that will become obvious soon enough):

Nice, right? For two hundred dollars? I mean, I know most people don’t have day beds in their living rooms, and I know a day bed is not a couch. But the way our living room is set up, it would not look out of place – and it would certainly do until we can afford the however-many thousands of dollars it would take to find a Johnny-approved substitute.

I took the notice off the wall. I didn’t call straight off, because even I know enough to not to do a thing like this without consulting the husband. Not to mention that we’re supposed to be socking money away for the furnace project and I shouldn’t be spending any $200 right this moment. But my birthday’s coming up, and if he sad yes, I figured, then I’d tell him this could be my present.

So I took the notice off the wall because I didn’t want anyone to buy it out from under me. I figured that, if he said no, I’d put it back up Monday morning and there would be no harm done.

I brought it home. I showed it to him. I asked if he'd consider sleeping on a thing like that.

“I guess,” he said, “if we put a futon mattress on it.”

“So can we get it? It could be my birthday present?”

“Sure. Why not?”

So I called. And it turned out that the woman who owned it died last week, and the notice was put up by her (retirement-aged) children. And they have to clean out the apartment in three days.

The daughter I spoke to said she’d really like to take it herself, for sentimental reasons, but she’s moving to Florida real soon and doesn’t see moving it into her condo and then moving it again in a few weeks. So they're selling it, but they plan to give the money to charity, and...

And then I felt like crap for having taken the notice down. I’d effectively stolen two of the three days they had to get rid of it. So then I had to buy it. But it didn’t matter, because I really, really did want the day bed anyway. Because of Johnny sleeping in the living room and everything.

We went to pick it up this morning, which is why we didn’t do anything else around this house today. We met the brother in the apartment and took the thing apart in record time and crammed it into Chuck (TFT). And as soon as we’re on the way home with it, Johnny turns to me and says:

“You realize there’s no way that’s fitting in our living room.”



“I, but – we, but – you, but —”

Oh, man!

“It could go in the back room,” he says.

That would be my office. Where there already is a futon. And lord-knows he won’t allow that one to be thrown away – he just took it as a hand me down not seven days ago. And I might add, even if he would allow it, I'd never have spent $200 right now to replace it because how many times do we have more guests than the spare bedroom can handle? And if we do, who are they that they’re so princess-and-the-pea precious they can’t pass out on that lump of extemporanea?


So right now the day bed is piled in pieces on the porch.

And we’re $200 poorer.

And I will be expecting a birthday present from my husband, goddamnit.

I swear to god, I’m gonna kill him.

Speaking Of Boobs...


I never thought I'd be on tenterhooks, waiting to hear that G.W. was awake and well and in charge of everything again...

I See A White Door And I Want To Paint It Green

Here’s a story about why the door is green now:

The color came from when I re-did the (inside of) the porch. I won’t paint an actual room, because Johnny is so good at it it’s frightening, and he’s proud of how good he is at it, and he can’t stand to see shoddy work, and shoddy work is pretty much my specialty.

(Witness exhibit #1: the closet. This also explains why he simply cannot let the closet look like that, even if it is just a closet and who cares and who’s ever going to see it anyway? “I will,” he says. Fine.)

I really didn’t do such a bad job on the porch, although I skipped the joint compound out there all together, see?:

What the hell, it’s just a porch, right?

In fact, that’s the very green paint I’m talking about you can see in that there picture. For this – I don’t know if it’s “decorative” so much as “hiding the seams between the wall boards (and ceiling – actually mostly ceiling, because the walls are mostly window).” Maybe whoever put it up was just as good at joint compound as I am.

It looks like this (and this is really most of it):

So I figured I’d need, oh, about a gallon of green paint.

What can I say? You lose, you learn.

Needless to say, there was about, oh, a gallon of green paint leftover, and one day I came home to find Johnny had re-painted the door.

The door was in rough shape, yes, but there were lots of other things that needed more immediate attention. The door, in fact, was in such rough shape that we’d talked about replacing it. Eventually. When we were rich again. So I didn’t see what sense it made to paint it now.

(This is usually my logic: why do anything with the wood paneling in the dining room, for example, when we’re only going to pull it down eventually? And then you wake up one morning three years into your sentence at the blue house – one random morning, not necessarily today – but definitely after a month of equatorial humidity, to discover this:

one piece has completely separated from the wall. Aren’t you glad you didn’t do anything about it sooner?

And not only that but now apparently you’ve been demoted. You are no longer first person plural but rather second person singular. What does that make you now? A Duchess?)

Anyway, so Johnny painted the door last year or so. Then last month, when we were helping Andy down at his house, I overheard Johnny telling him his own front door should be green, even offering that we had a bit (oh, almost a gallon) of leftover paint.

“It’s good luck to paint your front door green,” I heard him saying. “It brings the money in.”

“Yeah, Andy, take his advice!” I hollered from the other room. “Don’t you know it’s worked so well so far for us!”

Oh you didn’t think I was going to keep my fat mouth shut, did you?

Well, Andy and Johnny wandered over to where I was working and gave me a little lesson in humility.

“Haven’t I been working?” Johnny said.

“Don’t you have whatever with your writing now?” says Andy. Bless his heart, he really doesn't understand what I have got going on, but he does know it's a good thing. “And didn’t your ladies give you a very generous gift last year?”

And then Johnny, with the kick to the solar plexus:

“Have we ever once had to struggle to pay the mortgage?”


Yes, yes, yes and no. Thankfully, no.

So paint your doors green, everybody. I’d hate to think what our lives would have been like if Johnny hadn’t painted ours.

Which brings to mind one of my favorite quotes ever, although I have no idea about the guy who said it. I read it in the paper once and cut it out. If anybody out there can enlighten me, I would appreciate it:

“How can they say my life isn’t a success? Have I not for 60 years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten?”
— Logan Pearsall Smith

Friday, July 20, 2007

We Are Not Amused (okay, maybe we are)

We're taking the day off.

We're taking the day off because yesterday was such a nightmare, and we had such fun this morning playing Uncle e.e. instead of really writing, that we decided to just play hooky for the afternoon.

(We also, apparently, got crowned Queen of Somewhere, because we can't stop referring to ourselves as us.)

We're taking the day off because we allowed Johnny to convince us to let him finish the closet, and crossing something off our list of things to do is nearly as good as actually doing it.

But we got him to admit that it's a bigger job now than it would have been if we had never touched it in the first place, so we're giving him one week nag-free before we start complaining. About the closet.

And we're taking the day off because Johnny found this dozy bugger:

out here:

and we have no idea how he escaped. He's filthy but he isn't squished or drowned or eaten by coyotes or plain old run away, so we just need to sit and cuddle him a while.

Oh yeah, the front door's green, now. Different from the picture up above. Johnny painted it last year or so. That picture up above is from the town assessor's website. It's so old that, well, just to give you some perspective: you can't see the side of the house from that angle anymore because of the giant trees that grew up since the time that shot was taken.

You also might notice some differences between the colors of the stairs and shingles around the door in the two photos...

We'll get to it, all right? Sheesh.

(And by "we" this time I mean pretty much mostly Johnny.)

Day 42: With Apologies To The Unicorns

a long time ago (like yesterday)
there was more things going Wrong than you could ever say
i was running around getting f.ed at every turn
and the worstiest of all was the ace of furn
there was mean Keyspan people and Comcast freaks
there was humper bumper traffic and toilet leaks
there was trainsanddrainsandhusbandfights but sure as you’re born
the worstiest of all was the ace of furn

the furnace guy promised he would come and see
he says "stand back, i'll be there at fivethirty"
fivethirty comes and i'm sittinonthecouch
this back can't be no good for my slouch
and you take mean Keyspan people and Comcast freaks
take humper bumper traffic and toilet leaks
take trainsanddrainsandhusbandfights but sure as you’re born
buddy don’t you forget my ace of furn

now Charlie was there and she answered the callin'
she knew about ABZ and she kept me from bawlin'
but i couldn't talk to her till after eight
cuz furnguy's call would no longer wait
hey Chuck i got your mean Keyspan people and Comcast freaks
your humper bumper traffic and toilet leaks
got your trainsanddrainsandhusbandfights but chuck i’m so forlorn
cause i just don't see no ace of furn

i waited till nine through the drivin' rain
but the furnace guy was hidin' playin' silly games
we tried callin' and yellin' but it didn’t do durn
oh that silly ace of furn
then the PAP started PAPpin' and the roof started shakin'
the husband started husbandin' and the floor started bacon
the mice started squeakin' and the cats started purrin'
everything's pissed about the ace of furn
i mean the mean Keyspan people and Comcast freaks
the humper bumper traffic and toilet leaks
I cried "i need sleep, i've got to in-turn"
and i just can't wait for that ace of furn

then the house started movin' and it drifted with the tide
and the furnace guy looked up from his truck and cried
and the water come up and sort of floated him away
thats why you'll never see a furnace guy to this day
you'll see a lot of Keyspan people and a whole mess of freaks
you'll see humper bumper traffic and lots of toilet leaks
you'll see trainsanddrainsandhusbandfights but sure as you’re born
you're never gonna see no

This was a request, for those of you who don't read the comments. I couldn't really get the ee formatting in blogger the way I had it in Word, because tabs and extra spaces don't work here, but you get the jist. Thanks, I feel a lot better now...

Day 41: Accomplished (oh it so counts)
Time: All day.
Cost: Another little piece of my heart (takeit).
Getting To Combine Cummings -- Sorry, cummings -- And Uncle Shelby Instead Of Writing What I Should Be Writing In The Morning Because I've Come To Believe I'm No Good At That Anyway And Someone Should Really Just Give Me A Spatula And A Paper Hat And Be Done With It: Priceless, and a little bit precious (in the obnoxious kind of way).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Number Nine, Number Nine, Number Nine...

Okay, I don’t know if I can be funny about any of this, but here goes…

Johnny’s not working today (little tiny trauma #1). Since he has the day off, he’s going to go see his doctor because he had a tick on him the other day and the bite has that Lyme-disease look to it (medium-sized trauma #2).

The furnace guy is coming at 5:30 this evening (for me? big huge trauma #3, considering this new furnace guy is our fourth). He told us that he thinks Keyspan has low-income assistance programs for changing over to gas heat. I want to know what the deal is with this before he comes, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to make yet another call to Keyspan to get yet another clipped, two-second answer and hang up feeling like an idiot. I’ve known about this for three weeks and I can’t do it. I just can’t.

So I ask Johnny to do it.

But his dyslexia makes phone books and phone numbers and “press one for this” and “enter the last four digits of that” all really complicated, and when I’m about to begin the process of writing it all down for him I just say “fuck it” and pick up the phone.

After five minutes of “press one for this” and “enter the last four digits of that” – after ten more minutes of some twelve-year-old CSA reading to me exactly what I’m looking at on my computer screen, only backwards, and telling me I’m wrong – after being interrupted three times with wrong answers to the question I still haven’t managed to actually ask – (all of these insults # 4, 5, 6 and 7) – I have an answer.

Keyspan (insult #8) has no low-income assistance programs for changing over to gas heat.

Oh and, as of 6:00, no sign of our 5:30 furnace guy.

Looks Like I'm the Idiot

Charlie wins the poem contest -- I just didn't get it at first. So hit me: what kind of poem do you want?

In the meantime, I'm having a bad day.

A terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad day.

A nobody loves me and I'm no good at anything I do day.


A getting stuck on the platform, on the train, in traffic and behind the drawbridge kind of day.

A two-defeats for every victory and the watermelon I was looking forward to eating after work got frozen in the refrigerator day.

A dirt in the salad I'm eating instead of it kind of day.

An eating the salad anyway because if I don't eat something I'm going to kill my husband kind of day.

An I-just-yelled-at-him-anyway kind of day.

And the furnace guy isn't even here yet.

I'm going to go lay down until he gets here.

Pray for me.

If not for me, for Prudence. Or, god help him, Johnny...

Bullet Points

And not in the head either.

I'm just in a hurry, so here's the rundown:

1. The PAPs are back. I think it does have something to do with the humidity.

2. The furnace guy is coming at 5:30 -- just to take a look and give us a price, but wish us luck. I'll tell you how it went when it's over.

3. I wish I could say that was my Prudence duty for today, but I already did it. Two frustrating phone calls. I'll tell you about them later as well. Suffice for now to say that I don't have call waiting anymore! Go ahead, try me...

4. Hey, guys! Contest Alert! See below! Is everybody really stumped on this one? I'll give you a hint: You might find the missing piece under the giving tree where the sidewalk ends... But now that I've given you that big a hint, you're going to have to explain it to me if you want to win the super-duper poem with your name in it. Remember, Ladies and Germs: Google is your friend. And how 'bout this: if you get the answer, you can name the form of poem that I write. Sonnet? Haiku? Free verse? Sock it to me, babies!

5. I killed a spider in the shower just now. Got 'im good, too. WHACK! And it was just a bitty one. Happy, Dad?

Now I gotta go to yucky work.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

P.S. Cf. (& ABZ)

This is what it looks like when Johnny does it:

Maybe someday he can go to Detroit.

(CONTEST ALERT: What's "ABZ" got to do with anything...?)

Day 41: Dealing With A Staunch Character.

Johnny said that after work he’d show me how to j.c. the closet proper. Set me up and teach me how. Because as much as he’s pretending it’s okay, it’s just a closet, it’s driving him mad the mess I made in there—

Oh, all right, I’ll show you a picture. Here:

Oh, what the hell, have three:

But you better appreciate it, because it’s too light in there for flash and too dark without it, so I had to find Johnny’s work light in the basement and run the extension cord to get this g-d picture just so y’all could see how incompetent I am. Happy? (and PS I didn't mean to give that last one a penis, it just came out that way. I didn't even notice it until I took this picture.)

Anyway, so that was the plan. But then…

I got The Beales Of Grey Gardens in the mail.

This is not the original movie, but an hour and a half of cobbled-together footage that was left out of the original and released straight to DVD (I believe) sometime last year. It arrived from Netflix yesterday and the plan was to watch it in chunks each morning while I was on the stairmaster.

Yeah, I watched the first chunk this morning and realized that wasn’t what was gonna happen. So when Johnny got home from work, I told him “You look thirsty, dear. Why don’t you go and have yourself a pint?” And then I had myself a good hard think.

I had to find Prudence a job she could do in front of the TV.

Aha! Remember this?

The last unpacked box, which I found when I emptied out the closet I’ve decided not to joint compound? I was supposed to unpack it one day but never got around to it, shoved it in the spare bedroom when everyone came over for the 4th of July, and then forgot all about it.

Yay! I can drag it into the bedroom and unpack it while I watch the Edies.

I wonder what I’ll find in there? Everything I’ve been missing since we moved in that never turned up anywhere else, I suppose. That Ganeesha Suzanne gave me… The hat I made for Johnny once… The mysterious missing underpants… Maybe even a couple of raccoons and the Marble Faun!

It was full of bedding. A mattress cover, two duvet covers, a lightweight quilt, a heavyweight sleeping bag, one blanket and two really gross old pillows. Dang-ity.

I threw the lightweight quilt in the wash to put on the bed in the spare bedroom, because we (hopefully) have a friend staying over next weekend and the quilt in there is just too heavy for this jungle atmosphere.

I put the pillows back in the box awaiting Johnny’s permission to throw them out. He probably won’t give it, because it’s going to turn out that those were the very first pillows he bought for himself when he was still sleeping at the Y when he first arrived on these fair shores or something. But there’s room in the attic, and keeping the nasty old things around is much better than the fight that will ensue if he finds them in the trash.

Speaking of the attic, that’s where the rest of it wound up. I’m really going to have to clean that mess up someday, too. But not until the jungle clears.

And when I do, if all the little hand towels go missing and you hear John Phillips Sousa music blasting from up there, for god's sake, come and get me!

Day 41: Accomplished.
Time: Fifteen minutes.
Cost: Nothing.
What I Am By Every Latest Thing: Pulverized

Ooo, Ooo, Ooo!

This happened!

Johnny wants to know who you have to pay around here for a "mistake" like that to happen.

Not that we would, I mean.

Of course not.

I'm just saying, it's not like they hit the house next door. They were blocks away.

So who do we have to talk to?

Sympathy For The Devil

Last week, I got in Chuck (TFT) to discover a spider had spun a perfect web from the dash to the shotgun seat, and I actually opted to leave the windows closed so as not to ruin her hard work.

Last night, there was an eight-legged bump in the middle of another silken spiral, this time between the clothesline and the giant rhododendron. I turned on the back porch light to highlight it for Johnny.

“The brown ones are poisonous,” he said.

I said “Really?” and shut the light off.

And just this second I passed a yellow one dangling from my bedroom ceiling. I just blew it aside as I walked by.

What’s happening to me?

Actually, I think I learned about this when I was studying ethology. I think it’s called habituation. You know, like at the zoo: you bang on the glass enough times eventually the snakes stop startling? I must note, however, that the article I just linked to, points out that habituation is the “simplest form of learning.”


I can’t learn not to buy the wrong thing all the time. I can’t learn not to put things where they’ll ruin other things. Can’t learn not to trust people I shouldn’t. Hell, I can’t even learn to shut windows against the rain. Or sprinkler. But I can learn not to be afraid of spiders.

Whoopee. At least I’m smarter than a grub. If, that is, grubs are incapable of non-associative learning – a fact I don’t seem to remember anymore.

Ah well, maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome.

Talk About Your Forty Days...

This morning, before we got in the car, Johnny decided to put the sprinkler on his garden.

It takes me about a half an hour to drop him off and come home again, so if I remembered to shut it off when I got home, that would be just about a perfect amount of watering.

(we hate to have to use the sprinklers, really. Not for green reasons as much as the fact that we live in MWRA territory and pay through the nose for water use. Seriously, it runs about $260 quarterly. Not running the hose is a beautiful thing. But, although they've been predicting rain all week, it has so far refused to come. So now, of course, I can practically guarantee it will.)

I didn't exactly remember to shut it off when I got home. More like I was reminded. Because, as you may remember from an earlier post, the garden is right outside the dining room windows.

And the dining room windows were open.

So I just spent twenty minutes mopping gallons of sprinkler-water off our newly refinished wood floors.

And at these prices, I'm half-tempted to go wring the towels out into the yard.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ah, I See... Okay, I Take It Back.

Turns out he was planning on taking them -- one each of what he thinks are four different kinds of grubs -- to the garden shop around the corner, to ask the folks up there exactly what they are and what to do about them.

Which actually makes a certain amount of sense. Loads more than I was giving him credit for. Amd that wasn't really fair.

Even if I am afraid they're just going to tell him "Grubs," and "GrubEx."

It's a good thing he came home when he did and explained it to me, though. Because I'd suddenly remembered about Johnny's obsession with making soup, and I was about to go throw them out into the road...

Johnny Is Very Strange

Johnny was out in the garden for about an hour after work. He’s gone for a pint now. I wandered out to water the apple trees in the front yard and I found this:


I could actually (block your ears if you’re squeamish) could actually hear them scrabbling around in there!

He doesn’t like to kill anything, but he knows the grubs aren’t good for the garden, so he pulls them out and sets them aside. I can’t bring myself to step on them cuz yeahsfaljkhdfa, so usually he throws them out into the street to get run over by a car.

This, though, this is new. Maybe he plans to make a little mud pie out of them? Maybe he just hopes they’ll bake to death in the sun? Maybe he plans to take them down to the river and set them free... Ooh, maybe he plans to take them down to the river and go fishing! Do any oceany-rivery-type fish eat grubs?

Yuck. I still don’t think that I could touch one even if it meant bluefish for dinner.

Oh, and when I shut off the water from the spigot I found this:

Yes, that’s right ladies and gentleman, I have now officially taken a picture of poop.

But seriously, although you can’t tell because the picture is crap (ba-dump bump), that pile of poo is perched nicely on the sill to our (albeit rotten) basement window. And, not to get too graphic about it or anything, it looks like whoever left it has been eating a lot of oats.

Skunks? Raccoons? Do they eat oats? If so, why would they be pooping on my windowsill? Don’t they have more private places to do that sort of business? Like under my front porch?

But if not them, then who?

Now, before you even think it -- and despite the title of this post -- I know for sure it wasn’t Johnny.

I don’t remember the last time I got him to eat an oat.

(ba-dump bump)

Johnny Is Very Kind

"Did I make a bollocks of it, Johnny?"

"It's a bit thick, yeah. But you'll sand it down. Did you use a knife?"

No, I supposited the whole entire thing.

"Yes, I used a knife."

"To push the tape into the corners?"


"Ah, sure, you'll sand it down tomorrow. It's just a closet, right?"

That's not what he was saying yesterday...

No Big Love On THIS Compound

I asked Johnny to sum up the how-tos for me again this morning, because he was not exactly crystal-clear on the finer points of the procedure yesterday. So he did.

It goes pretty much like he said yesterday: slathe it, press the tape, cut the tape, slathe it again (but, like everything else about homeownership, you really can’t know what that means until you’ve done it). And then, before he hopped out of the car he gave me one last bit of advice:

“You’re gonna need that small dropcloth,” he said, “because you’re gonna get it everywhere.”

Well, you don’t know the half, my dear.

Oh, it stuck to the walls, all right. The walls, and the ceiling, and the floor, and the ladder, and the doorjamb, and the drop cloth. And to me. Hell, I just stepped in a lump of it underneath my desk – I don’t know how the hell I managed that one…

In the beginning, I was being careful. Using the j.c. sparingly, trying to spread it really thin, with the big round knife that I’ve seen Johnny use.

Soon enough, I was slathing it on there, glopping it on and just shaving off the excess, using the smaller, flat-topped knife because at least I could make it freaking work.

I hate this. Ooh boy, do I hate this!

You slabber it all on there and it smutches out the edges of the knife and plobbles all over your head and shoulders everything. It’s always either too thick or too thin, and even when you think you’ve finally got it sort of good enough there’s always one millimeter – no matter how hard you try, there’s always at least one – where you didn’t get it quite as thick, or as wide, as all the rest, So when you press the tape to it, it sticks at first, but then as you go along slothering globble on top of the tape, it pulls up in that one spot. It won’t stay back down no matter what you do, so you end up shbirtzing the tape up with your fingernail and suppositing more gollow underneath there with your thumb. This act, in turn, makes it wovel up in other places.

(“Suppositing”: a word that I made it up. It means use your finger to — oh, I’m sure you’re capable of figuring it out.)

In addition to all of this joy, it’s also really, really fun – if you’re ever bored or have the grandkids visiting or what-not – to stand on a ladder inside a closet with no air circulation, a closet off the only room in your house with windows that don’t open (yeah, we’ll put that on the list right after “furnace,” “new roof,” and “privacy fence”), on an 84-degree July day (okay, so that’s not so bad – but that is outside) in a house that has no air conditioning (which is by preference, but still).

Plus, I’m not sure – I mean, it’s white and everything – but think that joint compound might be made of poo.

Day 40 (hey, if that’s the case then is that an olive branch or hyssop that I see Goody extending?): Accomplished
Time: 90 minutes
Cost: Nothing (unless Johnny charges me for the almost entire tub of crap I used)
Joint Compound: Pee-yew!

In-Progress Update

I hate joint compound.

Also, don't do this:

(Don't worry, Mom -- and Goody -- I only took the picture for funnies when I realized what I was about to do. I washed my hands before I touched -- well, before I typed on -- the computer. I'm telling you, the fact that everything I own is broken is not-not-NOT my fault...)

Hey, Mr. "Joint Compound Won't Stick To Walls"

Not to freak anybody out or anything, but I happen to have noticed that someone found this blog this morning by googling the phrase "joint compound won't stick to walls." I followed up with google and discovered that the answer isn't really there. So, herewith (which seems to be my favorite word these days):

A Tip From Johnny:

Whoever you are, if you're still out there, Johnny says make sure you wash it first with a bleach solution (1/4 cup or so per gallon), let it dry completely, sand it well, then dust it off (a soft paintbrush will do the trick).

When you apply the joint compound, make sure you're using skim-thin coats. You'll have to do it, let it dry, then do it again at least twice, and maybe more if your walls are really bad. (Don't forget to sand in between -- but lightly, or you'll sand off all your hard work). If you try to make it cover in one coat then it will just fall off.

If you've already done all that, or if you do it now and it still falls off, leave a comment here and I'll ask him what to try next.

I'm about to embark on my first joint compounding experience any minute now, so--hey...

You don't think that was me, googling myself from the future, do you?

(Ooh, hey, PS -- Johnny reminds me that the above advice only goes for old walls, walls that have been painted at least once already. If you've got new, unblemished blueboard, for god's sake don't wash or sand it! And in that case, if it won't stick, then all he can think is that you're slathering it on too thick.)

Climbing The Walls

Most people, when they hear something hit the roof of their house, think "Oh, something just hit the roof of my house" and get on with their lives.

But when we bought this house, the entire back half was black-mold-squash-rotten, all from one tiny little twig (okay, a fairly large tree branch) that had hit and somehow stabbed through the roof, and everyone had just gone on with their lives. For years. And we spent two years and thirty-five thousand dollars making it habitable again.

So when I hear something hit the roof, I have to get a ladder.

And that's how, at 5:30 this morning, after apparently hitting the snooze button an inexplicable five times (and somehow switching it over from beep to radio), I wound up climbing out of bed and up onto the roof.

Only, for some reason, I decded that I didn't need a ladder.

It was a pretty healthy whomp, and sort of fleshy sounding. In fact, I was pretty sure that it was squirrels even before I heard them scurrying around up there. Tree branches don't scurry, and squirrels don't crash through the roof -- well, they certainly don't scurry around after they do, at any rate -- so it was a pretty safe bet that everything was fine and I didn't have to go and see.

But with things lke this you just know: the one time you don't go see will be the one time there's a little fluffy, twitching tail poking through the shingle and a whole mourning squirrel family scurrying around.

For some reason, I decided I had to sneak up on them. I was just awake, and I guess I thought seeing a blank roof wasn't good enough, I needed to actually set eyes on scurrying squirrels. So I skipped the ladder. Because, you know, ladders are so loud and otherwise a squirrel would have no idea that I was coming.

I went out the back, being careful not to let the screen door slam, and threw a leg over the rail. I managed to get myself up on the railing on one knee -- like I was proposing to my house -- and grasping the gutter for support, when I remembered about my back. I wasn't going to be able to haul myself up there, not even if there was a big, flaming (and, apparently, scurrying) asteroid to be examined.

But getting down and getting a ladder seemed just as pointless. So I held on to the gutter for dear life and, shakily, stood up. I was like Kilroy, peering nose and fingers over the edge of the roof, my feet wobbling like circus dogs on a rubber ball, my back begging me not to hurt it any more...

There was nothing up there.

I don't really remember getting down.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Day 39: That's Enough Of That

Oy yoy yoy. If you live with somebody you love, don’t smoke, okay? Or, actually, go ahead and smoke all you want, just make sure you always have a spare carton in the freezer.

Because I don’t really care about the cancer or the smell or any of the rest of it – that’s all your body and your stink and I’d just as soon keep my laws off the whole shebang. But sheesh, a smoker without smokes is a pain in the toosh – and now that’s my toosh we’re talking about.

Johnny was out of cigarettes – had been for about an hour – when I asked him to tell me how to patch the closet. He said he was going out to get them and I asked him to set me up before he left – because around here “going for cigarettes” can sometimes be code for “going for a pint” (and “going for a pint” can sometimes be code for “going for several”), so I wanted my direction before he stepped out the door.

“There you go: knives, gypsum, pot, tape, joint compound’s in the bedroom, little bit of water with this, stir it, use it fast or it’ll set up, stick, screws, slap it on there, do you want me to mix it for you?”

What? Mix? Sure. Okay. Um. I have to change my clothes and get a ladder…

“No no not a ladder, this is just for the big holes, that stuff up there you’ll use the joint compound, spread it on, cut the tape, press it in, cut it off, spread it over, do you want me to mix it for you?”

“The joint compound? I mean the gypsum? Sure, thanks. Hang on, I’ll go change and get a—I mean, I’ll just go change.”

HEAVY SIGH… feet tapping…

“You know what, Johnny? Why don’t you go ahead? I’ve got this figured out.”

Zip-bang, he was gone.

Okay now, what did he say?

Let’s see. I do remember him doing this once in the living room when we moved the couch and accidentally put a corner of it through the wall. You get a stick of some sort (paint stirrer? paint stirrer ought to do) and you put it through the hole so it’s behind the wall. Then you get a couple screws (drywall screws? drywall screws ought to do) and screw it in so it’s attached to the back of the wall. That gives the gypsum something to hold on to, otherwise it’ll just keep falling through and you’ll fill up the wall before you manage to patch the hole.

Except for, how are you supposed to hold the stick in there while you screw it? If I move the stick over enough so I can hold it with my fingers, it’s too far over to one side to even block the hole. I could make the hole bigger, make more room for me to hold the stick – but then of course the hole would be bigger and I’d probably need another stick.

Oh, I know! I’m a genius!

I went and got a rubber band, wrapped it around the center of the stick and looped my fingers through – the stick mashed up against the back of the wall quite nicely. And the top screw went in so easy! I thought it would be harder to hold the stick steady while the screw went through it but it just went whistling on through. Now I just need the other screw and—


Hm. Apparently the screw only went whistling through the wall. The stick, still unattached, was now on the floor between the walls with all the spider poop.

So I get another stick, another rubber band. This time I’m more careful that the stick actually be touching the screw when I hit it with the power screwdriver. This time I remember about how rubber bands actually stretch and realize maybe they weren’t the best choice for this job (although I still haven’t come up with a better answer), but once it’s sort of attached I can sort of get my finger behind it and give it a sort of tug. Good enough.

Sort of.

I had put the top screw through the first, whistling hole – so I had something to go by – but the second screw is trickier. This one keeps bouncing off the stick behind it and going wonky on me. Finally – after much sweating and swearing – I get the screw to go through the stick and stay there. Really. It’s not the sturdiest construction job I ever saw, but this is just a patch job in the back of a spare-room closet: the screws only have to hold until the plaster sets.

Now, plaster… what’d he say… little bit of water… how are you supposed to scoop out the… ugh, not with your hand I guess… oops, that’s probably not something that ought to be left to get wet and harden on the bathroom tile floor… okay, now that that’s all vacuumed up I’ll try pouring … how much, though? Stir it with what? This knife? Well, the bigger one won’t fit so might as well…

Hey, that looks like stuff! Like real plaster-patching stuff! I think I mixed it up just right by chance on my first try!

So I got the bigger knife and I took my tub into the closet. I gave it one last stir and took a healthy glob up on the knife, put it to the newly stick-filled hole and—


Huh. Apparently all that wrangling with the sticks had made those holes in the drywall just that much bigger than the screws.

So, balls. Swearing and sweating and stomping because those were of course the last two screws in the drill case (well, not technically, but even I knew enough not to use 50 pound masonry screws), and I’ve already mixed up the plaster and it’s going to set before I can get another g-d stick in there. But standing here staring at it isn’t doing anything so I might as well dump it out and go down cellar for another couple sticks and screws.

But I forgot to dump it out, and the second stick didn’t take as long to put in there as the first one, and the plaster was still good when I was ready for it. Well, almost good. Good enough, anyway. Or at least I thought so. And Johnny wasn’t home.

So I filled up that old hole (the stick stayed in place this time) but I ran out of the almost-dried up plaster so I had to go mix more before I could finish with the other two, smaller, stickless holes.

Oh. Hey, I should’ve just filled them with this when it was wet and then made more for that first hole.

The second batch didn’t go so well. I thought I was a pro so I sloshed water in there and slished plaster dust, and it came out like plaster soup. So I sloshed dust and slished water and by the time I had the right consistency I had way too much plaster. I had about a cup’s worth, and I needed a tablespoon or two. So I spread it out where it was needed, then I tossed a little extra on the big hole for good measure (I don’t know if I was supposed to put wet stuff over half-dry plaster or not; if it doesn’t come out okay, no telling).

I set the pot of plaster down to dry and (eventually) be thrown away, and went into the other room for the bucket of joint compound to start the up-on-the-ladder, spread and tape and cut and whatever-he-said stuff.

But then I thought: You know what?

I've had enough of this.

(For today, I mean, Goody. I'll j.c. tomorrow...)

Day 38: Accomplished
Time: 25 minutes
Cost: Nothing
Why I Have A New-Found Respect For Pamela DesBarres: Plaster Casters

Eight-Letter Creaks

You all make me laugh! I was thinking "backache" but I like all of the suggestions offered up on my last post.

Herewith: A Prose Poem On The Subject Of Old Age (Eight-Letter Words For)

my original thought, which was: Backache
and my new favorite word, which is: blooey-ed

I'm going to patch the closet. Wish me luck...

I'm NOT Iron Man

Three times yesterday I heard snippets of Black Sabbath's "I Am Iron Man" -- never in it's entirety, and always in incongruous places.

First on NPR, in a story about the Fenway Park DJ (they play it for Mike Lowell when he comes up to bat, because he once got hit in the head by a wild pitch and then sent the next pitch into the stands).

Then on television (I don't remember the context of that one, but it wasn't on The Osbournes or in a commercial or anything).

Then, when we were on our way home from dinner, the kid collecting tolls on the Mass Pike was blasting it from his little booth.

Three times in twelve hours -- and it's not a song you hear that much at random these days (not like, oh, say, "go heavy go widdit" -- which I know is not the name of the song (which is why I didn't capitalize it) but it's the part that sticks in my head until I want to carve my brain out through my ears) -- I was starting to wonder if this might be some sort of sign...

And then yesterday I could not get out of bed.

Now, that's a slight exaggeration. I didn't piss myself or anything. I even managed to haul my ass out for a pint of sympathetic Ben & Jerry's at around one o'clock (Johnny doesn't drive; there's no sense sending him out for ice cream on a 90-degree day: all I'd get is ice-cream-soup).

But -- and this is not exaggeration -- it did feel as though someone had attached strong but tiny rubber bands (like the ones you have to wear with metal braces) to all the muscles from my waist down to my knees.

So I took a -- well, I took two aspirin, three extra strength Tylenol, one prescription-strength Mortin, something called Nabumetone and, finally, a Vicodin. Nothing helped, so I took another day off.

I don't think it counts, though, because I spent it watching a marathon of America's Next Top Model -- which I do believe is punishment enough.

I got the Sunday crossword done, though. The Globe that is, not NYT. Well, almost. Does anybody know an eight-letter word for "Symptom of old age"?