Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Fixer Upper: Mags, Toilets and Superior Ancestors

Welcome to "The Fixer Upper," a new series on this here blog about our new domicile. There will most likely be an influx of posts at first, onaccounta all the things we need to do before we even move in. But people keep asking how it's going every day, so I thought I'd just tell ya.

We're in the back-and-forth phase. I've planned out easy dinners, and we're eating at the new house every evening while we work.

This is my special bag. It's called "The Back-and-Forth Bag."

Last night, Jeff got started ripping out the living room carpet and discovered it was glued down, not tacked. We both strained against it for a while, and when only a quarter of it had come up, we called it quits until Jeff could bring some better tools. He also put new locks on the doors and messed with his new-to-him weedeater.

I walked the perimeter of the property and ate blackberries all along the way. Kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk. (10 points if you know that reference.) I met the neighbor's dogs. The loudest one is called "Maggie" by the woman out riding around the field, and "Mags" by the man sitting in the shadow of his porch, out of sight. I stayed on my land, but Mags was a little uncomfortable all the same. She gave me "what for" quite vociferously until suddenly, I heard thundering down the long driveway an enormous growly shout, "MAGS!!!! LEAVE 'ER ALONE!!!!" Mags did. Her barking stopped instantly. It's good to know she's under voice command. I shielded my eyes from the sun with one hand and waved blindly toward the direction of the voice with the other. Hope that was a good first impression.

I also met another neighbor's goats. They felt pretty unsure about me. One didn't say anything, but other told me in no uncertain terms that I had wandered just a little too close to the fence, thank you very much. I got scolded like a recalcitrant child.

Inside the house, I went around and took pictures of all the cabinets so I could start figuring out where to put stuff. Here's a sample.

Pots and pans, baby. (And fresh paint and new shelf paper.)

One thing God has granted me that I didn't even think to ask for is space in the kitchen for Jeff's vast collection of small appliances. This is a big deal. We had a big, fat fight about carrying all of Jeff's unused small appliances from house to house for ten years, but in the end, I had to submit to Jeff and put the whole business in God's hands. This was God's response. (Which Jeff pointed out to me while managing to keep the gloating tone out of his voice.)

The best part about last night was the removal of the fuzzy brown cat scratching post in the living room. Here's a happy little video about it, so you can all share in the moment. (Note: you may need to visit my blog to view the video.)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZTlkJgWfw8&fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0&color1=0x006699&color2=0x54abd6&border=1]

Last night, we had cereal for dinner at the new place. So today, I put together a menu for the next however many days it is until we move in. There's a built-in microwave at the new place, which is happy. Tonight, the boys had canned ravioli, Jeff had canned spaghetti and meatballs that the boys refuse to eat, and I had a salad with crunchy lettuce, shredded chicken, walnuts, and artichoke dressing. Yummy.

Tonight, I put some signs up for the boys. Three. The sink in the main bathroom has no pipe below it, so I put a big X across the sink with masking tape and wrote "DO NOT USE" on it with a black sharpie. The toilet in the main bath is yucky, so I taped it shut, too. We have a free replacement toilet for the main bathroom toilet, which is sitting in the family room waiting to be installed. Jonathan was about to make use of it, while complaining that everyone could see him, when I rescued myself at the last minute from cleaning up after *that* fiasco. So I taped that one shut too. "DO NOT USE."

I also measured every single drawer and cabinet shelf in the entire house so I could figure out how much shelf paper to get. But guess what! My mom says wrapping paper works too! So if I can find some thick wrapping paper, I might go that route instead. I could get the exact perfect color and pattern that way.

After I finished measuring, I sat in a daze on the front porch and watched the stars come out while the boys raced behind me from one end of the 44-foot porch to the other, turning my peaceful solitude into a giggling earthquake. So I went back inside and watched this.

The brown sections are particle board covered with sticky glue, and the grey parts are the underside of old vinyl we found under portions of the carpet. Jeff is seen here painting the entire floor with Kilz Primer to seal up any lingering odors. James wrinkled his nose at the Kilz and said it smelled like "diesel gas", but we reminded him it certainly did't smell like urine anymore, and he was mollified.

The finished result.

Until the part where we ran out of primer. But it was late, and Jeff was beat, so he laid down his roller (and his burden) and we made our way home.

Last night, I asked Jeff to let me follow him home (we'd driven separately) and not lose me since I needed his taillights to combat my night blindness. When the boys and I hopped in the van, James asked, "Mom, why do you need to follow Dad's taillights?"

"Because I don't see very well in the dark, and his taillights help me figure out where to go."

With snobbery and derision beyond his years, James replied, "Obviously, you don't have any Indian ancestors." (He does. On his dad's side.)

"Nope, I don't have Indian ancestors. I have night blindness," I replied dryly.

Jonathan piped in, "Yep, you don't have any Indian, or any Scottish, or--wait. Do you have German?"

"Yep, I do have German." (I also have Scottish, but whatever.)

"Oh, that's right," said Jonathan, pitying me, "you have medieval ancestors."

I didn't bother to explain that everyone has medieval ancestors, or that my ancestors were their ancestors too, or that night blindness has nothing to do with ancestry. But I did follow Jeff's taillights all the way home last night, and tonight, too. He even pulled over and waited for me when some cars got between us as we pulled out onto the highway. He's my hero.