Tag Archives: remodeling

Why I didn’t do my homework tonight


So we have this little black dog and he occasionally gets a little neurotic and pees in the hallway.

My theory is that he does it when he thinks he’s home alone.  We crate him and the other dog when we’re not home, but sometimes The Lovely Rhonda leaves for work before I get up and I think that Jake, for that is his name, forgets that I’m home and figures it’s his opportunity to saunter down the hall and leave us a little token of his esteem.

This morning was one of those mornings, and after putting enzyme solution and a towel on the offending spot, I texted TLR to inform her of her dog’s actions.

He’s not my dog.  He’s HER dog.

MY dog is the one we got to keep HER dog company.  MY dog digs holes in the yard and is too mouthy, but what he does NOT do is pee in the house.

So anyway.  TLR came home from work and looked at the hall and festered about the pee stains until I got home.

We decided to think about laminate flooring.  We decided to do this at Ikea, because reasonably priced probably horse-meat-free meatballs.  Sadly, Ikea is phasing out their laminate flooring, at least at our location, so even after traipsing all over the store we came away empty-handed.  Well, sort of.  It was Ikea.  We had to buy a Kermit-the-frog-green spatula and some other odds and ends.  One does not simply leave Ikea without buying things.  Gah.

And we ate dinner.  Because HELLO MEATBALLS, GET IN MY BELLY.

What should we have been doing?  Going home to do our homework, of course.  What did we do?  We went to Home Depot instead.

So now we have laminate flooring.  Because painting the entire interior of the house isn’t enough to do.

This is where Kenny comes in.  He comes in, rips out carpet, and lays down laminate flooring like a boss.  He does this without displaying more than a soupçon of buttcrack, and for this we shower him in money.   And sarcasm.

Mostly sarcasm.

It’s curtains for us.


So about three years ago The Lovely Rhonda and I moved into this house.  I like to call it The Swamp because that makes me feel all Shrek-y, and who doesn’t like Shrek?  If I were green and my ears stuck out a bit I might be rather Fiona-esque.

Well, I guess I’d have to be younger too.  And royal.  Also, a bit nicer.


Anyway, back to The Swamp.  It was — and pardon me but there just really is no other word to describe it — a bit of a shithole.  The Ex-Mister-The Lovely Rhonda lived in it for a year as Bachelor Dad Guy, with their girls (ages 3 and 1) there with him half-time, and let’s just say that his housekeeping standards were somewhat lax.  The front window had broken vertical blinds that wouldn’t open, everything smelled strongly of the dog, and the entire interior still sported the weird peachy-tan color that it had been painted before they bought it, a year before I blundered into TLR’s life and completely decimated it like Godzilla over Tokyo.  It’s a 70’s tract house and anything we do to it short of demolition is likely to improve it.

Come to think of it, demolition doesn’t sound too bad.  But I digress.

The first thing we did when we moved in was paint as many of the rooms as we could.  This included borrowing a sprayer and giving what was the master bedroom several coats of primer and then paint.  This was necessary because The Ex Mr. TLR had retaliated to having his wife leave him for another woman by painting what had been their bedroom Manly Guy colors.  Apparently there is a paint selection for the recently divorced gentleman featuring such shades as single-dad-forgot-the diaper-bag-again toddler-poo brown and ashes-of-my-cold-dead-marriage gray, because those are the colors he chose.  It took twelve solid hours of work and four coats of paint to make it habitable again.

At any rate, we’ve made many other changes since then such as knocking out a wall, making half the garage into our bedroom, replacing a sliding glass door with a window, and (ongoing) having new siding installed.  And we made the customary pilgrimage to Ikea for a modest entertainment center and some low bookshelves to put in front of the front window.  This is an improvement over the previous arrangement but unfortunately now it means that the curtains covering the living room window are too long.

Enter writer’s mother, stage right.

So my Mom is going to hem them for us, because she is awesome like that, and so now  you know why I’m spending part of my day cleaning the front window and replacing the drapes with mismatched curtain panels left over from the former sliding glass doors.




So we’re engaging in yet more Home Improvement.  Recently our sidingwallah Kenny replaced the elderly sliding glass door.  This is the same door upon which I had attempted to peel my own fingernails off more than once, opening it for the spindly-armed children, because it was so elderly that it declined to slide open and closed easily but did so only under duress.  I know the feeling.

He replaced it with a window, and in the coming weeks will be finishing the wall beneath the new window and installing the trim around the window and the fancy new French doors that replaced the other sliding glass door.  It’s looking a little rough around the edges but it’ll get there eventually.  So we keep telling ourselves.

The new window and wall beneath it gave rise to a brisk round of furniture-rearranging.  Although there was really nothing stopping us from blocking one of the doors with the table, there is just something about having a door that says PUT NO FURNITURE HERE even if you have another door a mere five feet to the left.  But, even a framed and plywooded suggestion of a wall changes the way you see the space around you, and we were suddenly free to put the table along this rudimentary wall in a way that we weren’t the day before.

Obviously we had to get a bit carried away with the whole thing and it wasn’t long before we came to the conclusion that removing the laundry room door would be nothing less than a stroke of sheer architectural brilliance.  We never close it because the pets enter and exit the home through the laundry-room pet door, which can be secured if necessary, and furthermore the cats’ food dishes are on top of the dryer.  Our Hermione would have a stroke if we impeded her access to the food dishes.

So, we merrily set about to free the door from its hinges.  I held it in place while The Lovely Rhonda tapped a screwdriver up into the hinges, one by one, with a hammer to free up the hinge-pins.

All went swimmingly until the final hinge, the bottom one.  It was difficult to swing the hammer even a bit in such a cramped space, and awkward to hold the screwdriver in place.  TLR was on her knees struggling with this and suddenly she jumped back and clasped her hand to her chin.  I was sent to fetch a dishtowel.  There was a certain amount of blood.

It turns out that it might not be the safest idea to tap a screwdriver into a hinge at the bottom of a door, unless you have a great deal of insurance or perhaps a death wish.  The screwdriver had slipped and gouged TLR in the chin.  It takes a certain amount of force to drive a screwdriver into your lip hard enough to cut nearly through it.  Sufficient force to create a pretty decent fat lip, for one.

So what with the unsettling way the wound had of gaping and bleeding when she moved her mouth at all, we decided to get it looked at down at the local hospital.  I figured this was the best way to handle it since the chances of her keeping her mouth shut were slim to none it was on her face and might scar.  We thought they might stitch it but instead they used “Dermabond” which is hospital-talk for “hideously expensive SuperGlue.”  That and couple of steri-strips and she was on her way.


She now has a mild speech impediment (“maybe they’ll put a couple of sssstishes in it”) and cannot lick her lower lip, bite her fingernails, or eat pizza without a knife and fork, but all will be back to normal in a few days.

After we got home I quietly removed the door and placed it in the garage.  I was extra cautious.  The door has tasted blood and can no longer be trusted.

Repaint, and thin no more


So as either of you might recall from an earlier post, we recently were afflicted with Kitchen Envy, specifically Spruced Up Kitchen Envy (a particularly virulent strain).  The only cure is to make multiple trips to the hardware store between bouts of feverish sanding and painting.

The kitchen as it was.  Note the brown varnished cabinets and pasty walls.  What you can’t see is how the drawers sit all cattywampus and threaten to fall out if manhandled, i.e. used in any way.

Cabinet door removal is underway.

The old hardware was designed by Klingons.  We removed most of the old knobs and pulls the minute we moved in.  The ones above the refrigerator were the only survivors.    And why put the pulls in the center of the cabinet doors?  Mid-70’s cabinet manufacturers were obviously on drugs.

These knobs bring honor to my people. Sadly, they also look like hell.

Several kind souls came over to help us, sanding and painting and just doing all kinds of helpful things.  One of them stayed for three nights, an unprecedented act of kindness that we can never repay.  We tried to get a start on this by buying him lunch but our rewards program kicked in and his lunch was free.  Let no good deed go unpunished!

Who knew we had this many friends?

A true friend will sand cabinet doors for you even though it's cold and rainy out.

Amber is flexible and compact.

We had sixteen cabinet doors and six drawers to paint.   Our friend Josh (who slept for three nights in the middle child’s room on Princess Flower Rainbow Unicorn sheets without complaint, while the middle child bunked with the oldest child) repaired/replaced the drawer hardware, cabinet hinges and pulls for us.  Because the forty-year-old hardware didn’t exactly match the new stuff, this involved drilling a lot of holes in stuff.

We had initially planned on painting the countertops but what we found was that the new colors of wall and cabinetry made the existing counters less unbearable. The countertop paint is fairly toxic and I’m glad not to have to deal with it.

These aren’t the photos I’d like to post in that everything isn’t finished — we still have three doors to hang –and there’s a certain amount of junk laying around cluttering up the place, but we’re both under the weather today and not able to work on it more at the moment.  But I really wanted to get this posted, so here goes:

Clean and fresh!

We even replaced my old ghetto toaster oven, purchased thirteen years ago.  It wasn’t toasting terribly well anymore.  I’ll miss the melted bread wrapper on the top.  The new one’s bigger and matches the other appliances better.  I’LL NEVER FORGET YOU LITTLE TOASTER OVEN

An old friend.

The new Toast-O-Matic 9000 (now with tint control!)

This week we’ll get started, and maybe even finish, the floor, and then we’ll be done with the inexpensive cosmetic overhaul of the kitchen.  Next, the siding project will get underway.  Further posts as events warrant!  Stay tuned!