Selling the House

I am learning so many things about selling a home, most of which I wish I didn’t have to learn. I don’t care if I have 80 amp service or 100 amp service. I only care that when I flip the switch the lights come on and when I push the “on” button on the remote the television turns on. I don’t care that the furnace is older than dirt, I am just really very happy that when it gets cold outside I can turn up the thermostat and voila! we have heat! I have a slow running drain in the bathroom, my sink, more than likely from hair, soap and make up. I know it and have been putting just about very chemical and/or home remedies and nothing works. It was just a bit humiliating to see a color photo on the buyers’ inspection report showing my slow draining sink. I thought great now the world knows I have a giant hair clog.

All of the steps that a seller goes through to get their house sold is mind boggling. I understand the buyers want to get the most for their money and the inspectors are there to make sure that a buyer doesn’t get ripped off, but some of the stuff on the report is nitpicky at best. I mean anyone looking at our house would know that there are going to be things that are not the latest and greatest. The original structure was built in 1928 what do they expect?

One of the things on the list that the buyers want corrected is that I have any tree limbs close to power lines cut back. I haven’t gotten any of the tree trimmers I have called to come out and even look at the house and property. The minute I mention power lines, they all say, “Nope don’t do that. Call the power company and have them come out.” Great, the power company doesn’t care about me.

I was telling my coworkers about the tree limbs and said in passing that I would have to cut any limbs I find myself. One of my coworkers suggested that I wear rubber gloves and maybe I wouldn’t get electrocuted. Another coworker said that I should take off all of my jewelry so I wouldn’t get electrocuted. I said I should put on all of my jewelry, wear rubber gloves, climb up on top of the camper shell of the truck with my Little Giant aluminum ladder with a really long limb cutter and cut back any limbs. I would have on rubber gloves and be wearing sneakers. What could possibly go wrong?

A third coworker was actually concerned for me and said the company I work for should pay someone to trim back any limbs so I wouldn’t get electrocuted. I think they were going to take up a collection, but I’m not so sure what the money was for. I think some were putting money in the pot for flowers for the funeral, you know just in case.

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Another Career Path Option Down the Drain

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I have learned that being a painter is not an employment option. In fact I suck at painting. The funny part about it is that I actually enjoy painting. Nothing brightens or freshens up a room better than a fresh coat of paint. Paint is also a fairly inexpensive way to update a room or house. The caveat is only if the only thing that gets painted is the walls and ceiling.

My problem is that when I paint I get paint everywhere, the walls, ceiling, floor and me. I’m really good at getting paint on me, every part of my body. I always start off with the best intentions, I am so careful; I remove all of the switch plate covers for the outlets and light switches. I tape the window, door and floor trims. I cover the floor with plastic and newspaper and still get paint on window trim, doors and door trim, and oh how I get paint on the floors. Mitch says, “It’s a gift. You definitely have a gift.” He says that after I cut myself, fall off something, like maybe a ladder or get paint in places that any other normal person would never slop paint on.

I decided to paint the living room to brighten it up and make it look very fresh. I bought two gallons of ceiling paint and two gallons of wall paint just to make sure I had enough. The first mishap happened when I was painting the ceiling the paint roller slipped and whacked the ceiling fan. I had to quickly climb the ladder rag in hand to wipe off the paint before it left a big white smear across the fan blades. After the ceiling was done I cleaned up the roller and paint tray.

The walls came next and that is when true disaster after disaster happened. I thought that if I cut in the top of the walls, window and door trim and the base of the wall close to the floor all the way around the room I would save time moving the ladder around. I still had to go back and start over moving the ladder around the room to get the roller up high on the walls. At first I was doing well, no paint slops, I started to relax a bit and that is when it happened. I climbed up the ladder, lost my balance and fell backwards off the ladder knocking the ladder one way and I went the other way paint roller in hand and across the couch and onto the floor. Luckily the couch was covered in a plastic drop cloth. But in true Susan fashion, I ended up with a nice bruise on my hip.

After that it was all downhill, I bumped the roller against the ceiling, which means I have to go back with a brush and ceiling paint to correct all of the paint splatters. The roller would drip and a paint blob fall across the window trim or the door trim. Paint droplets would mysteriously appear on the floor where a second ago the floor was covered in newspaper. It was like a gust of wind had magically whipped through the room just across the floor moving the newspaper away exposing bare bamboo. I ended up looking like I’d been dipped in a paint can. I had paint on my hands, my jeans and shirt, and even in my hair. I didn’t just have paint down the front of my jeans I also had paint on my butt. I have this ability to bend over to paint low and back into the wall I just painted. I guess it truly is a gift.

It’s not like I’m totally graceless nor have no other skills, painting is just not one of them. The funny part about this is that Mitch hates painting, but is exceptionally neat when painting. He never gets paint anywhere but on the walls that he wants to paint. I’ve even tried bribery but it doesn’t work. There is nothing he wants that will entice him to paint with or for me. I think I hate him.

The Chair

My long suffering husband, Mitch, is no wimp. He’s not afraid of too many things in this world. I’ve seen him stand his ground among men a lot bigger and stronger than he is and come out ahead. In his youth his father taught him to box in order to fight back against school bullies, something he’s carried over into his adulthood. But there is one thing he is terrified of, me. I can instill terror and panic in Mitch in less than two minutes flat. I know that’s bold statement but I can prove it.

Last Saturday I had him take me to Nebraska Furniture Mart to buy a couple of accent chairs for the living room. He didn’t really want to go, you know how exciting furniture shopping is to a man, but nevertheless he went. As we were walking into the building he commented, “So we’re going to get a couple of chairs to match the couch?” (Mitch likes everything to match, coffee table and end tables alike, sofa, loveseat and matching chair, you get the picture)

I shook my head and said, “No, I have something else in mind. The room would be very drab all the same color, no I want some punch in the room. You know, I want something with a bold pattern and some contrasting colors.” He turned and looked at me, eyes a little wider, like someone who’d just been told they had cancer.

“Colors, patterns, what colors and how big a pattern?” This while his left eye started to twitch.

I said, “Oh I don’t know, maybe red or orange, something bold. I’ll know it when I see it.” The twitch got more pronounced. Then I said, “I was thinking of buying two different chairs not a matching set. Something to give the room more punch.” His eyes widen and he sucked in his breath trying to picture the unbalanced room in his mind’s eye. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

As we wandered around looking at the variety of chairs, Mitch kept trying to get me to look at brown or beige chairs and I pointed out all of the chairs with wonderful patterns and colors other than brown or beige. He would sit in the ones I would point to and say how uncomfortable they were, like he would ever sit in it anyway. I found one chair that was a sort of barrel shape and had very large red and brown circles covering the chair. Mitch looked at it and I could swear he sort of clutched his chest and looked skyward as if to say, “Look out Martha this is the big one! I’m coming home!”

He said, “Do you really like this?”

I said, “Not especially, I just want to see you flinch.”

About an hour later I finally found a chair that I really liked. It was a cream colored fabric with red and brown and black writing all over the chair, almost like old envelopes and cancelled postage stamps. It had a low back and sloping arm rests, the perfect size. I could see that Mitch wasn’t sold on it, so I decided that I would look around a bit more and found another chair that was also cream colored with dark brown butterflies stamped all over it and proclaimed this was the one. Given the choice of either butterflies or antique writing, he went with the antique writing. Butterflies was just way over the top for him, I think it would have given him nightmares.

When I suggested that we buy both, Mitch was convinced that the room wasn’t large enough for two chairs. Funny, if I was going to buy matching solid color chairs, there was enough for two, but two different chairs were way too big for the room. In order to not send him to the hospital with a coronary I found a round ottoman that I liked and bought it to go in the room with the chair. This way, I have one chair and the ottoman can be used another place to sit. Genius.

Poor Mitch, what he has to put up with.

Down to the Nitty Picky

This is what our remodel has been reduced to. Because of previous battles and total opposite styles in taste and décor, our never-ending long suffering remodel of this money pit called our home, Mitch is now consulting my opinion on even the minutest detail. Believe me when I say that when we first started this arduous journey, I didn’t think our marriage would survive. We argued constantly about everything. The biggest stumbling block to our relationship was the master bath. We totally gutted it down to the studs and started over from there. The only fixture that stayed in its original spot was the toilet. And that was only because of the difficulty in moving the drain. We, meaning Mitch doing the labor and me being the creative genius, have moved from room to room bringing this hodge podge house into some kind of homey updated house.

Now we are down to the last two bedrooms, laying bamboo floors and rebuilding the closets. We fought over the placement of the closets and we removed them because of poor original construction. People back then used whatever material was available and no building code was followed. I finally gave in to Mitch’s idea of dividing the one closet into two with a wall separating them and with doors opening into each room. Mitch had a genius idea of making them cedar closets which for those rooms is very practical as well as a unique idea. Those rooms are on the old side of the house, which was originally built in 1928 and added on to in 1934, which means that side of the house is not as tightly constructed leaving room for mustiness and the possibility of mold. So the cedar closet was a stroke of genius. The only thing left to argue about was what type of door to install for each closet, bi-fold or sliding, solid or louvered. Louvered bi-fold won (my idea). I bought wooden knobs thinking simple easy plain, no fuss, no muss. It wasn’t until Mitch opened the doors up to remove the hardware and prepare to be stained, that he found that each door had its own wooden knobs.

When it came down to the stain, that was another dilemma, the knotty pine planks are all eighty years old and I’m pretty sure that the stain used back then is long gone, even if we knew what the color was. Mitch went on the hunt buying about a dozen small cans of stain to try and come as close as possible to the original color. A friend suggested that we go to Sherwin Williams with a piece of one of the existing boards and have them create a matching color. Mitch stained the doors, the knobs (all four of them) and the trim. When it came down to putting the knobs on the closet doors, he called me in the make a decision, which knob did I want on the doors. I looked at the knobs and laughed out loud, they were so similar. The only difference was a slight rounded top on one and a flat top on the other. I asked if he was serious and said that he could pick, to which he said no way, I had to pick.

Which one do you think I should pick, you know they are so very different.

knob picture

Tis the Season

I should have seen it coming. It is that time of the year. Sudden intense storms that blow out of nowhere, with little warning and leave vast destruction in its wake. Yesterday was one of those days. Beautiful morning, cool temperature partly cloudy skies and a nice breeze, a perfect day for yard work and a DIY home improvement project. We had the whole day planned out. Mitch would go rent a jack hammer to dig out holes in the shelf rock under one of the bedrooms on the old side of the house and I would go to the grocery store then come home and mow.

First off I misunderstood where he was going to rent the jack hammer. I thought he said Lowe’s, so I figured he could drop me off at Sam’s Club across the street rent the jack hammer then come back and get me, killing an extra trip for me. But no, he said Home Depot, not even close to where Sam’s is. Strike one against me for the morning. I caused him to have to drive farther out of his way to take me to Sam’s then on to Home Depot then back to pick me up. He didn’t bother to correct me until we were getting off the highway at the exit, so by then it was too late to correct the misunderstanding. It didn’t end up saving any time for either of us, because I had to wait about a half hour for him to come back and get me. The only upside was the looks on people’s faces walking past me standing in front of Sam’s with a cart full of food.

After coming home and unloading food and jack hammer I buzzed off to the grocery store leaving Mitch to attack rock to his heart’s content. I came home and unloaded groceries, made sure Mitch hadn’t jack hammered off one of his toes, changed my clothes and took the dogs outside to commence yard work. I dragged the mower out of the shed ducking for cover because of the growing wasp nest in the door. I keep forgetting that it’s there until I have to mow, then I’m rudely reminded of it when the wasps buzz bomb my head. I pushed the mower down to the driveway, grabbed the gas can and filled the mower. I pulled the cord and the mower started right off then promptly died. I pulled the cord again and again, now the mower wouldn’t even try to start. I thought great, not now, not today.

I was already hot and tired from cutting limbs from bushes and it was 11:30 so I thought it was a perfect time to take a break, eat some lunch then ask Mitch start the mower for me. I walked back in the house to see how much he had accomplished. He had punched out two holes each about a foot and a half square. It was slow going, Mitch had to break up the rock in big chunks, lift the large rocks out of the hole then use a shovel to scoop up the dirt and smaller rocks out of the holes and into a bucket. He then had to carry the bucket outside and down the steps to the trash dumpster. Hard heavy work and he still had many more holes to dig. I suggested breaking for lunch, but he said no he wasn’t ready. I said that I couldn’t get the mower to start and asked that he start it for me, but I was tired and wanted a diet coke and just sit for a minute. Strike number two, since I stopped to take a break, in essence I made him stop what he was doing too. He quickly reheated a leftover steak while I ate a salad and drank my diet coke.

When I was done, he followed me out to the mower. I pulled the cord just to check; it started right up, then died and wouldn’t start again. Mitch pulled and pulled but nothing happened. He told me to push it into the garage so he could work on it. I could tell by his expression, it wasn’t going well. Strike number three, I told him not to worry about the mower that I could do something else and he could go back to jack hammering. He looked at me with that look and I saw the first signs of “Mitch Fit Warning”. I offered again that he could stop taking the mower apart and I would do something else. That’s when I saw the “Mitch Fit Warning, Imminent”. The look that says “take cover things are about to starting flying or get broken”.

He looked at me and said very slowly, “Go find something else to do, right now.” Here it comes “Mitch Fit Imminent” is getting ready to strike and I didn’t want to be in the path of that storm. This had all signs of a major event. He had rented a jack hammer, paying an hourly rate to get grueling back breaking work down and I had just halted the process in order to fix the mower. This wasn’t going to be pretty at all.

So I grabbed the dogs and beat a hasty retreat. An hour later he walked into the house and said, “I got it running for now so go mow right now before it stops.” Thank god we had rocks he could break.

Ladder 1 – Susan 0

Now that spring is here with warmer weather, our long overdue “do to” list is underway. You know the usual stuff, raking the mountains dead leaves that have wintered in every nook and cranny around the house, getting the gardens ready for tomatoes, peppers and this year potatoes. Another item on our “to do” list is to stain the outside window trim. The trim has been looking especially shabby and weathered, so I decided to go with a darker stain around the windows for be a fresh new look. New stain meant a trip to the home improvement store and shopping for the perfect color, one of my favorite things to do and one that makes Mitch crazy. As I was perusing the colors trying to decide which one would be the right choice, Mitch stood there looking like he’d just passed a kidney stone.

I wasn’t sure how much we would need, so just to be on the safe side I bought four gallons. We have twenty three windows of which six require an extension ladder to be used to get to; the rest can be done with just a six foot stepladder. I am not fond of heights; in fact one could say I am almost terrified of heights. The height is not the real fear it’s the fear of falling off the ladder that is the scariest part of climbing a ladder. I started with the easiest windows first leaving hardest for last. Climbing up the step ladder, reaching what I could, repositioning the ladder and repeating the process went very well for the back side of the house. I moved around to the kitchen side of the house and kept up the momentum of the morning, everything going very well, too well I should have known.

I had just finished staining the trim around the kitchen door and carried the can of stain, paintbrush and the hand broom I used to whisk away spider webs around to the front of the house. I came back, grabbed the stepladder, closed it for easier carrying and stepped off of the porch to carry the stepladder down the hill and around to the front of the house. I’m not sure what exactly happened, but the next thing I remember was taking a header off the porch and doing a somersault across the yard with the ladder. I sat up looked at my right arm which had a big chunk of flesh gone and was bleeding. The right leg of my jeans was ripped and my shin had a two inch long scrape down it. It didn’t take very long for the bruises to show up, they formed quite quickly in fact. There are three dark ones on my forearm and a really spectacular six inch bruise on my shin. I thought that the most dangerous part would be climbing up eighteen feet or so on the extension ladder and leaning out to reach as far as I could to stain the trim on the front of the house. I had no idea just carrying the stepladder would be my downfall.

Mitch has dubbed me “Dances with Ladders”.

Wall Check

This afternoon I was doing my weekly wall check for slobber bombs and there were a lot as usual, there were even a couple way up high on the wall. I thought to myself, “what does Orso do, stand on his back legs put his front paws on the wall and sling his head around to whip a slobber bomb as high on the wall as he can?” Is this a game with him that he keeps score with Charlie over, “I can shoot a slobber bomb higher than you?” I sprayed the Fantastic antibacterial cleaner over each dried gross blob and scrubbed them off the wall.

I stood back and surveyed my handiwork and noticed the walls now have clean spots where the slobber bombs were, standing out starkly against the rest of the walls. This means that in order to not have lighter colored spots dotted around the room I need to wash all of the walls and clean off a year’s worth of pipe tobacco smoke, dust and god knows what else. I filled a bucket of water and cleaner, grabbed the step ladder and washed all of the walls in the living room. I stood back to admire my work again, and decided that no amount of soap and water were going to improve the look of the walls.

That means only one thing, time to paint the walls. Since I have to paint the walls, I might as well freshen up the room with a new color, a new look. If I’m going to go with a new color on the walls I need to spend some quality time at Lowes and Home Depot staring at paint chips for hours, searching through the myriad of colors and hues in my quest for the perfect shade. For some this may seem to be a chore, but to me this is one of my most fun things to do. Every time we go to Lowes or Home Depot I wander off to the paint department and load up on scads of paint chips. Even if I have no painting project planned I can stand there for hours, just looking at all of colors, thinking about which room I would paint with the different shades. It makes Mitch crazy, when I come home with an armload of paint chips and paint books. Mitch’s idea of painting a room any color other than white is off white. He’s very adventurous don’t you think?

In order to spare Mitch the agony of living through another painting project, I just won’t tell him. I’ll go to Lowes early when he’s at work, stock up on paint chips and stick them all over the wall in the living room to see which one I like best. Then I’ll head back over and buy my paint and paint the room before he gets off work. It will be a surprise and I can guarantee you it won’t be white.

A Catastrophe Narrowly Averted

The day started off so benignly, I took Mitch to work, walked the dogs, went to see my grandchildren and picked Mitch up from work. Boring stuff. After we got home from picking Mitch up, I started to fix us some lunch. Mitch was in the process of changing out of his work clothes to his grubbies so he could finish installing a step to the passenger side of the pickup truck. It’s a real challenge for me to climb into the truck, since I’m vertically challenged. Yesterday he installed the driver’s side and today it will be the passenger side.

I had set the table and finished making the salad, filling the salad bowls when I heard a weird noise coming from the third bedroom. I turned to look and saw both of the dogs lying on the floor in the dining room not the least bit interested in the noise. Because of their lack of interest I thought that Mitch was looking for something there.

We are in the midst of ripping up the hardwood floor and replacing it with bamboo. Because of the age of the house there has been some settling and the back corner of the room has sunk a few inches. Mitch is tearing out the floor and the subfloor to assess what will need to be done. This has left a small hole in the floor opening up to the basement on the old side of the house. The basement on the old side is made up of shelf rock, limestone, I believe. It’s very primitive and if I had a way down there without going outside first, I would have the perfect place for a wine cellar, cool and dark. Otherwise, it’s just creepy down there.

I called out to Mitch to ask what he was looking for and there was no response, but I could still hear the rustling sound. So I walked to the bedroom stepping over two sleeping dogs and started to walk in the room to ask Mitch again what he was looking for. Imagine my shock and surprise when I walked in on one large panicked squirrel running around in the room jumping up and down on each window looking for a way out. How he got in there I have no idea, but the last thing I wanted was the dogs to wake up and discover him in the bedroom. There would have been mayhem and carnage unimaginable. I’m not sure the house would have survived.

I quickly stepped out of the room and started yelling for Mitch. I had no idea where he was, so I ran to the door and shouted for him out in the garage, luckily he was still in the house and I didn’t have to search for him, leaving the squirrel and the dogs alone together. I told him we have a squirrel in the house, to which he didn’t believe me. I told him where it was and grabbed the dogs to take them to the master bedroom for the squirrel’s safety. Of course the panicked squirrel didn’t stay in the bedroom; no he ran to the kitchen and starting running around under the kitchen table. All I could see in my future was it jumping up on the table destroying dishes and scattering food everywhere. At that point I probably would have just burned the house down.

Mitch stood there watching the squirrel run around with a silly grin on his face. I could see the ten year old boy very close to the surface just when I needed a superhero and not a ten year old boy. Mitch regained control of himself and told me to open the kitchen door, close the bedroom door and hand him a broom. I thought oh please don’t start whacking things. I don’t want squirrel parts everywhere and in the course of killing the squirrel destroying the kitchen. I know most men resort to the caveman inside when an opportunity to be the tough guy comes along and I didn’t want to have to clean up the mess.

Thankfully Mitch just used the broom to point the terrified animal in the direction of the open kitchen door. The squirrel couldn’t get out of the house fast enough; he raced across the yard and fled up a tree. I still am not sure how the dogs missed the sound of the squirrel running around in the bedroom or didn’t catch a whiff of him either. But one thing’s for sure, I am really glad they didn’t.

The Calm Before the Storm

It’s too quiet here.  It’s been almost two months since Mitch finished installing the dishwasher.  He has been busy with work and local city demands and hasn’t had a chance to cut the cabinet that will install next to the dishwasher filling the gaping hole left when we removed the existing cabinet to install the dishwasher.  I have not bugged him about filling the space because I know how busy he has been

I think part of his reticence to start the project is that there will be multiple “Mitch Fit” watches that can quickly go to “Mitch Fit” warnings and even “Mitch Fit” imminent crises.   Cutting down a thirty-six inch cabinet to a twelve inch cabinet is probably a bit of a challenge, especially shrinking the cabinet door, but I have faith that Mitch will figure it out.  (If not, I know where I can buy a twelve inch cabinet brand new in the box.)  That’s what scares him the most.  If I buy a new cabinet, I will have to re-stain or paint all of the cabinets so all will match and look the same.   Painting wood is sacrilege to him.  Wood only comes in stained colors if you ask him.

Finally this afternoon after a consultation with a seasoned cabinetmaker Mitch is finally de-constructing the cabinet and preparing it to become a third of its’ original size.  WooHoo.  What’s the worst that can happen?  It looks really sad and we go buy a new one.  Mitch doesn’t look at it that way, though.  He thinks it has to be perfect.

The de-constructing is the easy part; it’s the reconstructing part that will be tricky.  But it’s okay, I have my ear plugs.  I am definitely a glutton for punishment.

Mitch Hates Me

Mitch hates me.  He told me.  That this revelation came after spending an hour and a half at Lowes and another forty-five minutes at Home Depot in search of plumbing parts for the new dishwasher is a moot point.  I can’t help it that I have no idea what plumbing parts, elbows and tees, shut offs and hoses and whatnot are required to install the new dishwasher.  I don’t do plumbing or electrical for that matter.  But Mitch can stand for hours and does, staring at the vast assortment of whosidossals and create a masterful linkage of plumbing parts to connect the existing water lines and drains to the new dishwasher.

For the most part while Mitch rummaged through PVC pipes, elbows and tees I wandered through Lowes looking for stuff I just couldn’t live without.  I found all sorts of cool stuff too.  I bought a storage holder for the aluminum foil and plastic wrap.  I found two twelve inch cabinets to slide in next to the dishwasher to take up the empty space we made removing the large cabinet for the spot to install the dishwasher, one with a drawer and one without to choose from.  I looked at paint chips to paint the cabinets after the dishwasher installation is complete.  The idea of painting the cabinets just makes Mitch cringe.  I bought basil seeds to plant.  I found a mirror I liked.  All this while Plumbing Man was mesmerized by PVC whatnots.

Frustrated Lowes didn’t have something he needed even though we spent $85 on plumbing connectors and things; Mitch wanted to run to Home Depot to check out their plumbing section.  Once again while Plumbing Man listened to sound of the Plumbing Siren, I went off in search of much more interesting stuff.  The Siren doesn’t call to women evidently.   I found more paint chips and checked out their selection of house plants. 

I wandered back to find Mitch mumbling to himself still in search of the perfect plumbing concoction to magically make plumbing nirvana.  I started yawning from the stifling heat in Home Depot and sheer boredom.  In order to entertain myself and help pass the time I looked at the wall of gizmos opposite from where Mitch was standing.  I looked down and saw a package with a hose and an assortment of plumbing connectors that said “Universal Dishwasher Connection Kit”.  For the bargain price of $14.98 it contained everything Mitch needed to connect the dishwasher to the existing water lines and drains.  I showed it to him and asked if it would work.  He stared at it for a few minutes, then looked at me and said, “I hate you.”

Guess who will be taking all of the unneeded plumbing parts back?