Tag Archives: physical plant

Moving is Such Joy


So last weekend we moved into the new house.

Actually we moved on Friday, but I was absent because payroll was due and then there was a training that nobody else could do.   So The Lovely Rhonda was forced to begin the move without me.

We hired some thugs and a truck because a) we have a lot of crap, b) some of it is very heavy, and c) I have these terrible feet.

I have new orthotics but they only help so much.  The last time I saw the podiatrist I told her that I had accepted the fact that even with good shoes and orthotics I still have only so much foot-time on any given day.  She told me that it was good that I had accepted this because it was true.

Pretty much from this point forward, this is my new reality.  Trips to Disneyland will always involve a rented scooter.  Big projects in the house or yard will always involve painkillers and more than likely, hired help as well.  The temporary parking pass may become permanent.

At the end of a typical day, my feet might be a little tired but I don’t require pain medication.

But, moving house is not typical.

So the hired thugs stuffed our crap into the truck and moved it and then they went back for more crap.  They worked hard and they didn’t slack off at all, and we tipped them pretty generously.  At the end of the day, most of our crap was in the new house, and anything that wasn’t a piece of furniture was piled in the garage.

You really get to know who your friends are when you’re moving.  Kimberly came over on multiple occasions and helped us pack, which was so enormously helpful I can’t even form words around the concept.  My mouth just hangs open when I try.  Another friend, Jerry, came and helped us paint the kids’ bedrooms in the new house and hung curtain rods and such, and then helped paint the old house (which is now a rental).  He won’t accept any money for this.  When we posted on FB that we needed a plumber and couldn’t get anyone to call us back, he came over and fixed a leaky sink at the new house as well.

The day after the main move we had a bunch of friends and family volunteer to come over and help with various things.  Heather helped me unpack a lot of boxes.  Anhata and Frank and their kids came and packed up the last of the junk at the old house, along with friends Sarah and Joni and my cousins Carmen and Emily.  Between Frank, Jerry and my Dad, we got all the appliances hooked up.

And of course our Best Handyman Kenny is in the house (literally), installing the baseboards and the new dishwasher in the rental.  He’s not a volunteer but he’s family anyway.

At the end of the weekend we had the basics sort of unpacked — unfortunately, since I wasn’t there to grab the last-minute essentials (hair product, Minecraft game disc, etc) we have all been without a few of our Favorite Things for a solid week.  I’ve had to find other methods of taming my hair, and the kids have been forced to entertain themselves by going to the park, unpacking boxes in their rooms, and playing on alternate electronic platforms, but somehow we all survived.

Essentially I’ve been on my feet about three times as much as usual in the past week with painting/packing/moving/unpacking, and some of that time I’ve been shifting boxes around, so the moral of this story is rapidly becoming the following statement:  codeine is my friend.  The temporary disabled parking permit has gotten a workout, because any step saved is a blessing to me right now.

Also?  The new house is nice, and I think we will all like it here.


A Day Off


So today I awoke to some issues that you don’t want to hear about, and after a few attempts it became clear that I was not actually going to succeed in leaving the house.  So I laid around trying to not feel too wretched.  This is not as easy as it sounds, sometimes.  Eventually I resorted to a book on CD and some minor household tasks to amuse me.

I’m not much of a seamstress but if  you have something that requires repair and it won’t be worn out in public ever, I’m totally the gal for you.  I have honed my skills on stuffed animals with split seams or that the dog has taken a liking to, the occasional wayward button, and now: a sleeping bag.   The spawn have these kid-sized sleeping bags of the sort one might use at a sleepover or summer camping, and recently I was compelled to wash them.  They had that slightly mildewy-smelling funk that things get from being stored in the garage, and they’ve seen a few gymnasium floors in their day (for elementary school movie night).  Unfortunately one didn’t survive the experience unblemished, and I was faced with a six-inch split seam.

Now, I don’t own a sewing machine.  The thought of it terrifies me.  I would be That Lady who sews things to other things by mistake, perhaps even to something I am currently wearing.  It wouldn’t be pretty.  So I got out the little sewing kit that we keep in the drawer in the kitchen and I found some pink thread and I sat right down on the couch and started sewing that bad boy right up.  I even used a few pins to keep the slippery nylon fabric edges together so it wouldn’t keep slipping and sliding around.  I’m practically ready to be a costumer for the New York Metropolitan Opera, yo.

Okay, not really.

The seam isn’t beautiful, but the object here — to keep the insides of the sleeping bag from becoming the outsides — has been accomplished.  And I figure this little repair is saving us forty-five dollars plus tax.  Because if we replace one kid’s fifteen-dollar sleeping bag, we’ll have to replace them all; otherwise there will be resentment and grudges and eventually they’ll do drugs and sleep around because of how unhappy their childhoods were.  We can’t have that.

Now I just have to figure out how to spin the whole thing so it’s actually super cool to use the one with the big awesome scar on it!

I was still feeling pretty pitiful but was so torn with wanting to do something useful.  I looked around for another one of those things I’d been meaning to do and spied a pair of eyeballs on my desk.  Obviously this would require SuperGlue, so I rummaged around in the junk drawer and found some.  Pretty soon Big Lethal Pointy Metal Owl had eyes again.  He’d had them initially, but then they fell off when we unwrapped him.  I guess if I spent a year wrapped in newspapers inside a cardboard box in somebody’s garage my eyeballs might fall off too.


I think he looks a bit better with eyes.  I’d gotten used to seeing him with no eyes, so now he looks kind of surprised all the time.  Or angry.

Later I finished something I’d started the day before, wherein I had run hot water with bleach into my washing machine and let it soak for a while.  Then I ran hot water with vinegar in it.  This allegedly loosens up the grim and “scale,” whatever the hell that is.  Then I got an old, slightly scratchy washrag and essentially sanded the grime deposits off the agitator and the rim of the wash tub.  I went ahead and ran more hot water and threw some vinegar in there, and let me tell you, I have no idea how the clothes ever got clean in that thing considering how much it stank to clean it like this.  A crapload of crud came out of the various nooks and/or crannies.  Yech.

By the end of the day I was feeling somewhat less horrible.  Apparently the absence of vileness caused me to completely lose my mind to some kind of post-malaise euphoria, because I then found myself under the kitchen sink removing everything from the cupboard and scrubbing it out.

I’m going back to school in a little over a month and I think I want things to be halfway orderly before I start.  We’ve reached Defcon Level: Crusty around here lately, and I’m doing my fall cleaning or something.   One crummy little project at a time.

Spring, and cleaning. Sort of.


So I have this stupid broken foot which necessitates the use of a big Velcro boot.  So attractive, and the very pinnacle of comfort.

I’m at loose ends today in that The Lovely Rhonda is at work and the children are all off at their other homes.  There’s been a lot going on lately that is not the sort of thing one blogs about, at least in my particular case, and a lot of it has been very stressful, so I’m restless.

Let’s review: hobbled by broken foot, and restless.  Oh, and it’s the nicest, warmest, breeziest, most perfect day so far this year.  The two days ago it snowed and school was two hours late, and now it’s a mild, hopeful sixty degrees out.

I was tempted to embark on some craft related tangent because I am exposed to Pinterest against my will via Facebook, but I felt that this was not really  justified in light of the fact that the house was a little messy and decided instead that perhaps I should direct my attentions to something a bit closer to home.

(Read this in an Andy Rooney voice:)  Did ya ever notice how when you clean your house, you clean everybody’s room but yours?  You’re so busy scrubbing the toilet and cracking the whip over the recalcitrant children to pick up their fifty bajillion toys that your own room remains untidy and cluttered behind the closed door.

Soooo, our bedroom, possibly the nicest room in the house next to the kitchen, is in need of some pretty comprehensive swilling-out, so I decided to start there.  And so I found the box of Christmas things laying around neglected in the corner under the comforter that disintegrated when we washed it after one of the kids threw up on it.  And there were some winter gloves and scarves and things and a few stray ornaments and such, and we keep that in boxes in the garage, and so I was forced to open the garage up.

Oh, the garage.  The last time we had any business to conduct in the garage was during the Great Kitchen Makeover when we had to paint a lot of cabinet doors in it because it was so rainy the paint wouldn’t dry on the back patio.  It’s been butt-cold since then, so it has remained disheveled with painting and sanding things strewn around.   I cracked the door open, and there was a whoooosh of that dusty, horrible tomb air that escapes this kind of sealed environment when you’ve neglected it for a while.  Once the bats and moths had cleared out and the eerie screaming died down, I knew that this was the real project for me today.

So I spent a delightful couple of hours removing things from the garage, loading certain of them into the van to be donated to charity or returned to their original owners.  There was sweeping, there was shifting of things from one place to another, there was organization.  The winter things and the ornaments were put in their respective boxes and the painting and sanding things were put back into their box, and it was all just so satisfyingly tidy when I was done.

But the side effect of having your one foot in a big stupid Velcro boot is that your other foot gets tired, so although I could have spent all day out there, my left foot now dictates that I stop.  Maybe later, if I’m feeling ambitious, I might consider putting a garbage bag over the boot and mowing the front lawn.

Or not.

I do what I want!

Wild Hairs


So we dropped by to visit our dear friend Amber.  Amber is what you might call very energetic.  She is also possessed of the impulse to improve everything she touches.  We call Amber when we need to rearrange a room and haven’t the slightest idea how to position things.

Amber has recently made over her kitchen on a shoestring budget and viewing it has caused us to come down with a raging case of Kitchen Envy.  It turns out that a shoestring budget is our specialty, because we have to put new siding on the house this year and cannot afford much toward updating anything else.  Yet our horrible kitchen is so repulsive that we cannot stand to look at it any longer.  The appliances are decent, but the cabinets are funky and old and the sheet vinyl flooring is pretty beat up.

But we have a few dollars to throw at this, so we paid a visit to Homey’s to “look” at colors and so forth.

You know where this is going.

The back end of the van is filled with peel-and-stick floor tiles, cans of paint, and this fantastic thing we found called countertop paint.  Our existing countertop is… well… well, it’s green.  It’s bulletproof, in decent shape, not torn up, but it’s green.  Sort of a pale avocado green.  Frankly, I’m not a fan.

So The Lovely Rhonda had me bring in the paint cans so we could get a little idea of what the transformation will look like.

Manly, yes, but we like it too.

You can just see the countertop color below the outlet.

In related matters, we rang up a friend a couple of houses away to inquire whether she might have a palm sander or similar we could borrow since there seems to be a lot of sanding involved in this project.  She is of the sensible-shoed lesbian persuasion so stereotypically speaking might have a few power tools cluttering up the garage.  We once borrowed a socket wrench from her as I recall.

“Did you forget who you’re talking to?” she chuckled.  “Of course I have one.  Let me know when you’re starting the project and I’ll come over and laugh at you.  I mean watch you.”

We start Thursday.  See you all then?

The Malady


So if one suffers from a Chronic Malady, particularly on that involves the less than glamorous Digestive System, it’s nearly impossible to blog (nay, even to speak) about it without having to foray into areas of the body and symptoms that virtually no-one cares to discuss.

That all being said, I’m really sick of feeling really sick. It’s not fair if the medicine makes you feel as sick as the malady.  I can’t even go visit Helga, who texts me occasionally from Hades to ask how I’m doing.


Hi Helga I’m under the weather and can’t come to the zhim I mean gym for about 10 days.


Helga I am very ill, I will be back in about a week


Uh… don’t you have other victims I mean clients?


I’ll be back in a week, I’m sorry


An adventurous evening.


So this evening we returned from running a couple of errands.  Well, I and two of the children did.  The Lovely Rhonda had to run the youngest to an impromptu doctor’s appointment.  I’d tell you why, but if it’s common knowledge then we can’t use it to embarrass her to death when we tell it to her date when he/she comes to pick her up for the prom.

I noticed that there were a lot of things knocked askew on higher shelves and counters, which I rightly blamed on the cats.   I didn’t think much else of it, aside from the usual curses and expletives.

Then after everyone was home again and I was closing the curtains for the evening, I noticed blood and bird droppings on the inside of the front windowsill.  And realized I’d seen one of the cats sniffing and pawing around at the couch.   So I asked TLR to help me move the couch.  And we did, and there it was.  A big, rather apprehensive looking starling blinking in the light at me, looking fairly healthy for all it must have gone through.

So we opened up all the doors and locked the cats in the bedroom, and eventually it flapped and fluttered around enough to end up clinging to a little framed picture in the kitchen, whereupon I captured it with a work-gloved hand and escorted it outside whereupon it flew away post-haste.  Not that I could blame it.  Oh, the stories it would be telling its starling friends.  (Assuming that birds of a feather really do flock together.)

Then we moved on to checking the laundry, which seems to be taking forever to dry these days.   After spending a good hour poking around at its mysterious inner workings we have concluded that it is choked with lint and needs to be disassembled and cleaned out.  It turns out that I’m not quite this level of awesome when it comes to home appliance maintenance, so everyone’s favorite handyman Kenny will be dropping by to tackle this for us Friday or Saturday.

He’s got a real job now, by the way!  We’re super happy for him, but … who’s going to do our siding next summer?!


We’re peeing in sunshine (woh-ooooah)


So today The Lovely Rhonda and I had a little time on our hands.  It was the last unstructured day of the “vacation” that we took.

I was restless.  I have the hormones, you see, and lordy do they make me crazier than a shithouse rat.  Also, I’ve been under some stress about Stuff I Don’t Want To Talk About Here, and the combination of the two is never good.  Ask TLR.  She keeps a stash of cardboard boxes in the garage against the day when she can no longer stand me.  For my stuff, you see.  To put in the driveway.

Anyway, what I often find myself doing when I’m Like This is shopping.  Not like crazy buying stuff I can’t afford and don’t need shopping, but like browsing in thrift stores and rarely buying more than a paperback book shopping.  Just poking around.

We ended up in a discount home goods store where we spied a delicious shower curtain, competitively priced.  We’ve had the one we’re using now for a long time, it has monkeys on it and it’s not terribly sophisticated according to my mother.  Although she’s not inclined to say such things unsolicited or anything, but when I told her about the new one she said, ever so delicately, “Is it more…. sophisticated than the one you had?”

So we both fall in love with its riotous colors and general lack of primates, and TLR, because she is perfect in every way, turns to me and says, How about we buy this and then go to Homey’s and pick up some paint and paint the bathroom?  Like today right now?


So we do, and we pick out paint and we bring it home.  And we paint like our lives depend on it.  Because tomorrow we have plans, and the weekend is full of things to do, and school starts next week, and we both go back to work, and and and.

Which is how the bathroom is suddenly violently orange in places and searing, retina-exploding yellow in others.

Also, we got a new bath rug which is purple.  It all makes sense, trust me.


Believe it or not, this is an improvement!

Another use for Coban ™


So today I’m cleaning our bedroom, the loveliest room in the house.  It’s suffered from neglect because the rest of the house always gets attention first, but my mom and stepdad are coming over tomorrow.  There’s an electrical issue affecting some of the outlets and the overhead light in that room so they’ll want to go in there.  Eek.

We bought a shoe rack a while back to keep our impressively large collection of shoes on.  It’s made of metal rods, you know the kind I mean.  The front of the shoe rests slightly lower than the back of the shoe (assuming you put your shoes on it so that their backs are to the wall).

Unfortunately, while I was deeply satisfied with many things about this rack, such as its price, functionality, even its appearance which was quite benign — it had an annoying tendency.  It’s very lightweight and the metal rods are so smooth that the shoes have nothing to grip, and if you bump the rack or attempt to remove a pair of shoes from it, all the pairs of shoes come sliding off of it in a cascade.

This is particularly irritating early in the morning when you’re trying to be quiet while the other occupant of the room is still sleeping.  The shoes fall off the rack quietly, but the swearing is difficult to keep at a low volume.

We poked around at a few hardware and home-improvement stores looking for grippy tape of the sort that you put on outdoor stairs to keep people from slipping on them, but to no avail.  Then as we stared at the umpteenth roll of unsuitable tape, this time a cloth athletic tape, it slapped me upside my head out of nowhere:  Coban ™.  That rubbery, stretchy bandage roll that sticks to itself, used mainly by phlebotomists when they take your blood at the lab.

It’s grippy.  It’s easily obtainable.  And, if you know where to go, it’s cheap.

Where to go is the feed store.  People who have horses use Coban-type bandage for all kinds of things.  It comes in a variety of exciting colors, and it’s MUCH less expensive than the kind at the drugstore.

Five bucks for two rolls of black self-gripping elastic bandage (black because it’s my bedroom, not a rave party) and the shoes are neatly on the rack and only a comprehensive attack on the shoerack’s integrity will remove the shoes prematurely.

Aren’t you glad I’m so smart?  I know I am.

EW! — updated with photo —


So the bathtub drain has been kinda slow lately.  Typically it drained well in the past; you flipped the thinger “down” and the water would all disappear in a reasonably good time frame.  We had no complaints and ours was a relationship based on mutual respect and good feelings all around.

But lately the drain had become sluggish.  The water would pool unattractively in the drain-end of the tub and only very slowly drain, leaving a nasty residue, and, inexplicably, no amount of swearing and thinly veiled threats had any effect.  This left us no choice and we were forced to break out the plunger.

Thus did The Lovely Rhonda stop the drain from functioning in any capacity whatsoever.  But I digress.

I did stop by and purchase a drain snake on my way home, yes I did, and I did attempt to cram it down the drain.  It would not advance very far, and I felt keenly the sting of failure.  I felt it keenly and then I made the phone call, and our knight in shining pickup truck did appear. You may remember him from such blog entries as this, or possibly this.

The keen sting of failure abated a bit once the inestimable siding-wallah had done battle with the drain for a while.  If it was giving Kenny this kind of trouble, I never really had a chance in the first place.  Never one to admit defeat, Kenny eschewed the crawl space (dirt and insulation bad for contact lenses) in favor of the more brutally satisfying cutting a hole in the wall behind the drain (conveniently located under the sink in the master half-bath that shares its wall).

You may find it yet more satisfying to imagine that he created the hole with a righteous punch of his mighty fist.  I know I do.

At this point I retired to the computer because this kind of thing stresses me out, but as I understand it he removed the flux capacitor and loosened up the dilithium crystal assemblage in order to get at the energon cube.

Also, he may have disassembled the drain thingy.

Then was the snake once more introduced to the recalcitrant clog, and victory was ours — A GIGANTIC, FOOT-LONG HAIR BEAST OF EPIC DARK AUBURN PROPORTION was removed.  It was a resplendent, slimy, full-bodied critter that fought removal tooth and claw, but no disgusting, foul hair clog can ever get the best of our Kenny.  There was a general HUZZAH from down the hall, which is how I knew that evil had been vanquished.  I dutifully admired it and then photographed it for posterity.

Okay, it's not *quite* a foot long. But still!

Also? I have no idea how that got there.    *cough*

So Far Today


Today was that rare occasion: a day totally alone, no plans, no nothing.  Okay, I should have gone to church, but I had this idea that I would do something useful to the house.  The Lovely Rhonda and our babysitter/housekeeper/friend Amber painted the kitchen last week and it got me in the mood to Improve the Home.

So, this morning I got my mow on early, thanks to unexpected help from a friend (thanks Josh!), and between us we got all kinds of crazy stuff done.  The whole back yard is mowed, the weeds have been whacked (to the extent that the whacker battery would allow), the patio has been hosed and scrubbed and hosed again because hosing alone did not remove the ground-in filth; all the of patio furniture has been hosed off and in some cases scrubbed; the cooler full of beverages from a party we had last fall was discovered, emptied, scrubbed and returned to the garage… the list goes on and on.

The mowing alone was a bit of a chore.   The delightful weather is perfect for growing grass, or in our case, weeds.  Rainy with just enough sun to encourage explosive growth.  Josh mowed the entire thing and then declined to allow me to buy him lunch.  I whacked weeds, pulled weeds, battled weeds, cursed at weeds, and occasionally texted Rhonda about weeds.  Good times!

And now to visit the Home Improvement store for some odds and ends!   Yay!