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.

Team Work

Last weekend it was jack hammering this weekend it was woodwork. Cutting large boards with a table saw, carrying those large boards into the house and laying them just so to form a grid. Then making sure each board is level on both ends and in perfect alignment takes talent and patience. It is hard work and a long day for Mitch. At times his patience wears thin and when that happens, objects weighing less than him start flying across the room. Loud obscenities usually precede the flying debris, thus the phrase, “Mitch Fit Warning”. In light of last week’s mower debacle I decided that this weekend I would not try to accomplish any yard work and focus all of my energy on helping Mitch.

I did exactly that, I helped him by leaving first thing in the morning to go get a pedicure and do some shopping. Now before you think I was being selfish and only thinking of pampering myself while Mitch was slaving away working on the never ending home rehab, I’m here to tell you I was being totally selfless. You have no idea how hard it is to sit in a chair that vibrates and kneads your back and shoulders while a person sits at your feet massaging your legs and feet, then perfectly applying a sassy nail color to your toes. The sheer torture of having all of the tightness in your calves and feet rubbed out was almost more than I could bear. It’s a tough job but someone had to do it and it might as well had been me.

Don’t get me wrong, I was more than willing to stay home and help Mitch and offered many times but each time I asked if I could help he said no he was perfectly fine. He had everything under control. Besides he won’t let me do anything. He doesn’t trust me to run the saw, not because I might not cut the wood straight, he’s afraid I’ll cut off some appendage. He doesn’t let me carry the boards, too heavy and I might drop one on my foot or whack myself turning a corner. He won’t let me hammer, I might smash my thumb or hand or foot or whatever. Granted his fears are not baseless, I do have a history of self-mutilation, not on purpose, I would never intentionally hurt myself, I’m just a bit accident prone. It seems that body parts are always getting in the way of whatever it is I’m doing. So Mitch has become very bossy about what I get to do or not do around the house. The only reason I mow and not him is because he only mows in a straight line no matter what is in his path, it gets mowed.

Now when there is some really difficult DIY project I try to make myself as scarce as possible that way I don’t hear the obscenities and see the carnage. Mitch gets to vent and work through the problem and I get a pedicure and some new clothes. It’s a win-win situation.

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”.

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?

One Day Two Countertops and Only Three Meltdowns

One more project down and only a gazillion to go.  I gave Mitch two weeks off from home improvement projects and threw in a weekend hunting trip to boot to relax him before tackling the latest project, new kitchen countertops.  Should have been a cakewalk right, especially since both countertops were only six feet long and no corners.  Wrong, never is in this house. 

First surprise of the day was when I just pulled the one side off by myself, shocking Mitch that the old countertop was not anchored to the cabinets.  Not surprising to me, by now nothing surprises me about this house.  We switched out the old countertop for the new one, done easy peasy.  I thought that the second would be almost as quick, unhook the drains, garbage disposal and faucet, and lift off.  That part went fairly fast so things were looking hopeful. 

Cutting the new hole and fitting the sink was a bit more challenging.  Many measurements with the tape measure were taken, just to be sure that the hole wasn’t cut too big.  You can always make a hole bigger, but you can’t make a hole smaller.  I walked into the kitchen to find Mitch drawing the outline of the sink in permanent marker on the top of the new countertop.  I rubbed the center line he had drawn to the edge of the countertop that would be exposed, it didn’t come off.  I looked at him and said that this will not work having a black line across my new countertop, oh no.  He turned and left to find something that would remove the marker and thus would get to reside on the planet another day.  Luckily, Windex worked like a champ.  Mitch is off the endangered species list for now.

The jigsaw wouldn’t get quite close enough to the back splash to make the back side cut, so that took different blades, cutting angles and eventually a different saw to get a close cut.  Next came the fitting of the sink into the new hole.  It didn’t, surprise.  How can you measure, measure and measure again and then it doesn’t fit?  That caused Meltdown number one.  Out came the rubber mallet, at least it wasn’t the sledgehammer.  Two new dents to the stainless steel sink and it fit.  Woo hoo. 

The container of plumbers putty was dried up and hard, so Mitch had to add water to soften it up.  Meltdown number two came when he asked for my help holding the sink in the hole so he could attach the fasteners that clamp onto the underside of the sink and secure it to the countertop.  I walked to the backside of the countertop which was sitting on blocks in the dining room and waited for direction.  Evidently I had turned off my mental telepathy switch and didn’t know that I was to immediately grab the countertop and sink in a death grip to hold it in place.  Mitch bent down and flipped up the front side causing the sink to slip.  Huge meltdown.  I told him he needed to use his words.  Not very smart on my part, using sarcasm in the face of unmitigated rage.  At least he didn’t toss me across the room, just sent the dust brush flying.  Second attempt and this time I grabbed the sink but it slipped again, causing Mitch to say that he would just secure the sink to the countertop on his back in the kitchen with the countertop supported by the cabinets, among other more colorful words.

We carried the countertop sans sink to the kitchen and placed it on the cabinets.  He set the sink in the hole in the countertop and I thought that maybe it wouldn’t be very long before this would be finished.  Wrong again, I should be used to being wrong a lot.  I made myself scarce when I heard the comment, “If one more thing goes wrong, I’m lighting a match.”

The third meltdown was almost anticlimactic compared to meltdown number two, sort of like an aftershock.  Mitch decided there weren’t enough sink clips to secure the sink to the countertop.  That set off a string of ranting and raving about why nothing is ever simple and easy about the house.  I wisely chose not to remind him that the house was in his family long before I came into the picture.

Ten o’clock at night and the new countertop project was finally finished.  It only took fourteen hours and three meltdowns, a new record somewhere I’m sure.

A Man and His Home Improvement Store

What is it about a man and a home improvement store?  I love to shop as much as the next person, especially for shoes, but come on, what is the enticement of plumbing parts?  Shoes and boots have a stylish appeal that expresses your personality that you can show the world whenever you step outdoors.  But hose connectors?  Who’s going to see them?  When guests come over you would show off the tile or pedestal sinks in a newly remodeled bath, but no one would point out the shiny new hoses for the hot and cold water.

But yet Mitch will stand and gaze over the plumbing aisle forever with a look of sheer awe at the variety of shapes and sizes of hoses and connectors.  I even asked if he had measured before we got to Lowes and he said yes he knew exactly what he needed.  After ten minutes of watching him stare transfixed at the huge assortment, I said that I was going to go to the tile section to find something that would work for the gap at the top of the shower to the ceiling.  He said, “Okay,” in a faraway dreamy voice like a drug addict that had just gotten a fix.

On my way to the tile section I found the kitchen countertop that I fell in love with instantly and took pictures of it with my phone so I would remember it later.  I wandered through the tile section and came up with all kinds of solutions to the three inch gap.  The guest bathroom is not only small in area but with a very low ceiling, so with the shower on, there would be condensation and back splashing that would cause the sheetrock to get wet.  With having to remodel the remodel, Mitch is extra cautious about moisture in the bathroom. 

After spending a very productive ten minutes finding our new kitchen countertop (this will be Mitch’s next project, although he doesn’t know it yet) and coming up with a number of solutions for the top of the shower I wandered back to find Mitch still in the plumbing section.  He had one two inch section of hose fitting and a tube of sealer in his hand.  I asked what else he needed and he said no he had everything he needed.  So why was he still standing there?  It has to plumbing crack.  I looked skyward for guidance.

I dragged him away to show him the new countertop I wanted and my ideas for the top of the shower.  We made a decision to use porcelain tile at the top and grabbed a couple of pieces to take home to try out.  He then said he needed to get caulk.  Oh no, not caulk, anything but caulk.  I don’t know how many hundreds of tubes of caulk Mitch has bought over the years, but each time he needs to buy caulk, we go through the same process.  He stares at the variety of brands, types and colors for minutes, and then when he finally makes a decision, he stands there and reads the entire back section of the tube.  Why?  What could he possibly learn that he does not already know about caulk having caulked four bathrooms in the last three years?

God help me if the caulk industry ever does invent a new and improved caulk.

An Unproductive Day

It’s just a rainy Saturday, a perfect day to get caught up on cleaning the house, the closet or some other productive household chore.  But I’m just not in the mood.  This is something I’ll regret tomorrow or the next day, but not today.  Today, I just want to relax and do nothing productive.  The dogs aren’t even any fun.  They’re lying curled up on the bed snoozing, enjoying the rainy day too. 

The only one who is getting anything accomplished is Mitch.  He is diligently working on the re-construction of the guest bathroom.   He’s mudding and sanding and re-mudding and re-sanding the sheetrock seams, giving it his best shot, even though applying mud and sanding is not his forte.  Of course this is adding to my guilt level, knowing that I’m being a slug and he’s slaving away. 

I feel like painting something, maybe the kitchen.  Painting is therapeutic for me.  One small problem, I have no paint and haven’t even picked out a color yet.  But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about painting the kitchen; it just adds to the mental guilt list of one more thing I could be doing if I had been more proactive in deciding on a color and buying the paint.  I could run to Lowes and hurriedly pick out a color and just start painting.  Of course we all know how well my painting projects go. 

Good thing it’s a small kitchen.

And It Just Doesn’t End

Two coats of gray primer and three coats of red paint just to paint a door and I’m not sure that three coats of paint will be enough to give that finished look.  Seriously?  If I had known that red was such a difficult color to work with, I would have gone with blue or green or anything else, maybe purple.  A simple one day project has taken all week and I’m not sure it’s really done yet.  I’m waiting for the third coat of paint to dry.

After the second coat of paint had dried I peeled off the tape protecting the glass panes and the door knob.  That went badly as well.  I should have used Frog tape, but no I used the regular blue that has worked in the past.  The blue tape hung on to the red paint with great tenacity.  I peeled off huge chunks of red paint on the metal strips between the window panes.  This meant that I had to make another trip to Lowes to buy tiny paint brushes to touch up the flubs.  I have started to doubt my sanity at attempting this project. 

I have only painted one side of the three doors mind you.  I still have the back side of the doors to paint.  Today is Sunday one week ago on last Sunday I started this insanity.  Guess what, vacation is officially over, tomorrow I get to go back to work, who hoo. 

At least Mitch has had a productive project laden vacation.  He gutted the bathroom, ripped out the tile floor, floor below and the subfloor in four days and in the last two he has re-installed the subfloor and floor.  He’s now ready to go buy the backer board for the tile and tile the floor, which he’ll get done this week.  Me, I’ll probably have to apply another coat of paint. 

A wadded up newspaper and a match is looking awfully good right now.