Friday, January 31, 2014

One Step Forward?

(This post was written on Wednesday night.  It is now Friday night and welcome to the first post I am sending from my own WiFi network at home.  Woo hoo!)
 Well, I’m trying to revel in the small victories.  The theme for the past couple of weeks has been “one step forward, at least one step back.”  Ergo, not a lot of progress has been made in any part of my life.  Let’s review.

On Sunday the 19th I dropped poodle off at her cousins’ house and flew off to Vegas to attend the West Coast Art & Frame Expo.  I haven’t been to this show in a few years; it was a bit strange walking in by myself but my objective was to sniff around for any employment opportunities.  In that regard, I had a few good conversations and I’m following up this week.  Truthfully, I’m not very optimistic but I needed to try before I look elsewhere.  I lugged my camera all the way to Vegas and didn’t take a single picture at the tradeshow.  Instead, guess where the show was held?

I had a lovely and quite tasty dinner with Derek on Monday night at Olive’s in the Bellagio, and was invited to attend the 20th anniversary breakfast “party” for an industry vendor on Tuesday before I headed for the airport.  Lo and behold, my phone rang at 6:30 Tuesday morning, and so began a travel adventure I do not wish to ever repeat.  My flight from Vegas to Washington, D.C. was canceled, and I was rebooked on an earlier flight into Philadelphia instead.  There went the breakfast event.  I got to the airport before 10:00 a.m. and on a whim I checked my bag.  Got up to the gate with plenty of time to spare.  Bought a stupid magazine and a book and settled in to wait.  Waiting waiting waiting.  Next thing I know there is an announcement that the Philly flight has been canceled.  Since I had the US Airways 800 number (having spent some time with them on the phone earlier in the day), I called to rebook my flight.  Guess what?  The only flight I could get out of Vegas that day was leaving at 7:00 p.m. and heading to Los Angeles.  What?!?  Yes.  From there I could catch the redeye to Philly, and get the 9:45 a.m. flight to Burlington the next morning.  Otherwise I could stay in Vegas another day.  Except I no longer had a hotel room and didn’t want to pay for another night, plus $40 in cab fare.  So I settled in for the long haul.  If you are keeping track, this was Plan C.  Good thing I hung around because about an hour later I heard someone mention that a Philly flight was going out after all.  They put me on standby for that one, but informed me that my connecting flight to Burlington had been canceled.  The only thing I could get wouldn’t be leaving for Vermont until the following morning.  Plan D?  Poo.

I did get on the afternoon flight out of Vegas, but at this point I don’t know what plan we are on because they rebooked and canceled me on two or three different flights from Philly to Vermont.  In fact, when we got to the airport I asked the gate agent to check and let me know when I was scheduled to fly out and she said I was on the 9:30 p.m. flight on the 23rd.  I said, “That’s tomorrow, right?”  And she said, “No, tomorrow is the 22nd.”  Huh.  She put me on the 9:30 p.m. flight for the 22nd, and said the two morning flights had already been canceled but I might make the 1:30 if I got myself on the standby list in the morning.  So there I was, very late at night, preparing to wander aimlessly all by myself through the dark, quiet, lonely Philadelphia airport all night long.

Except it wasn’t dark, or quiet, or lonely.  All kinds of people spent the night in the airport.  Derek told me later that 3,000 flights had been canceled that day because of the crazy weather.  I was all set to do a photo essay about a lonely airport at night but, well, it didn’t happen.  This was the best I could do.

Long story longer, I DID get back to Burlington on the 1:30 p.m. flight on the 22nd, but my bag didn’t make it until the later flight so I stayed in Hinesburg.  My bag was delivered around noon the next day, and Ann and I went to Home Depot to look at unfinished kitchen cabinets, flooring, kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, and who knows what else.  It was a relief to finally make it back home and take a shower.  It is always nice to sleep in your own bed, even when said bed is an air mattress on the living room floor.

So what else.  Before I left for Vegas I finished almost all of the painting in the bedrooms upstairs.  I sprayed the floor in the little bedroom with Anti Icky-Poo (heh heh, that’s so funny), and painted on two coats of Kilz.


The carpet was supposed to be installed on Thursday last week but I called from the Vegas airport and asked to bump it a day.  We ended up moving it to Tuesday this week – which was yesterday.  This worked out well because I was able to put the final coat of paint on the walls in the little bedroom and, just for kicks, I slathered more Kilz on the questionable part of the floor.  Did I mention that I got home from this trip with a cold?  It’s true.  So I didn’t finish the painting until Monday when I felt mostly human again.

 Nick the carpet installer got here at about 9:30 Tuesday morning and he was finished by 2:00 p.m.  We checked it out while he was at lunch and poodle rolled around on it and gave it two thumbs up.

It looks great upstairs now; this afternoon mom said she can’t believe the carpet was just installed yesterday.  We hauled the beds upstairs but we can’t finish with the log bed until I borrow a socket set from Ann, which she is lending me tomorrow when we meet at Home Depot to order all the kitchen cabinets.  Poodle got tired of posing for me – can you tell?


And speaking of the kitchen, here is where we really took one step forward, then a whole bunch back.  We had a moment of success when we actually got one of the upper cabinets off the wall today, but we found ick on the ceiling above it.

Yes, the bathtub is up there.  And the sink.  And the toilet.  *sigh*  Mom went to town with her mad demolition skills, and a bunch of the tiles are now gone.  So are bits of the wall behind the tile, but that’s okay because that drywall has to go anyway.

Then – more success – we got another cabinet down.  Now before I show you the picture - which I can’t believe I am going to do, but we’re all friends here and I don’t want there to be any secrets between us – make sure there are no small children looking and make sure you aren’t sitting alone in a quiet room late at night with slightly scary music playing.  This picture is nightmare-inducing.  Okay, ready?  Here it is:

See what I mean about one step forward and a whole bunch back?  Yikes.  I am trying not to be discouraged.  I am telling myself how glad I am to have found all this ick so I can fix it.  And I’m keeping my eye on the end result, which I know is going to be totally awesome.  It is just going to take a whole lot longer to get there, and cost a whole lot more money.  Which is why I need a job.  And to sell more paintings.

 And speaking of THAT, my internet service gets hooked up on Friday, which means I will re-open my Etsy store.  To finish on a happy note, here is a picture of the first painting I did in my new “studio” space:

Just for kicks, here is that same painting in front of the startling yellow walls that someday soon will become boring beige:

And, last but not least, here is the best dog in the history of the universe:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Twofer!

Having no access to WiFi has certainly inhibited my ability to update my blog.  Almost a week has gone by since I wrote my last post (you know, the one I uploaded a couple minutes ago) and lots of progress was made but not many pictures were taken.  The moving truck finally arrived in Burlington on Thursday, and was delivered here on Friday morning.  EARLY Friday morning.  It was cold and icy and the driver got hung up on a patch of ice in my neighbor’s driveway when he pulled in across the street to back into my driveway.  It was all fun and games.  When he unhooked the trailer from the truck I was positive it would either slide away or tip over.  Neither happened, but it DID settle more than the driver was expecting and landed on one of the truck tires.  He had to crank the trailer up again by hand  – poor guy worked up a sweat.  Mom and I did a bit of unloading on Friday afternoon; I wanted to get as much out of there as I could before all my helpers arrived on Saturday.  I didn’t want my family to think they were coming to do all the work – I can tote that barge and lift that bale just as easily as the next guy – but I also knew the inside of that truck was packed tighter than a Jenga puzzle.  So I pulled a bunch of the puzzle pieces out on Friday, including my bike which Derek had wrapped in a 5’ x 8’ rug and tied up with a 50’ extension cord, then stuffed up high seemingly supported by … nothing.  He said it was his crowning achievement. I got the bike out all by myself, without killing myself.  That was MY crowning achievement.

 So Saturday morning it was raining.  Of course it was raining.  I opened the truck and worked unloading for about an hour before everybody arrived.  It was me, mom, Ann, Aidan, Delaney, Liam, Kathy, Johnny, Abby, Evan and three dogs.  Madness ensued, and the truck unloaded really quickly.  (This was the first time Johnny had seen the house and when Kathy was giving him the tour, in the trailer she said, “And this is the sunken living room.”  Hahahaha – that’s so generous!)  Since the upstairs is waiting for carpet, all the bedroom stuff is in the dining room/living room.  Here's how it looks now:
And I thought it looked small with just a couple of PEOPLE in it!  Woo hoo!
We made a lunch run, then Ann and Kathy attempted to demo my kitchen cabinets.  I think they wanted to rip those suckers down before I noticed what they were doing.  Alas, the cabinets defeated them.  Aidan and Johnny got in on the action, and still no go.  Have I mentioned that those cabinets are metal?  I think they are meant to be hung in a garage or something.  Last week I took down the one cabinet hanging over the stove, but the rest of them are totally stuck to the wall.  Some of the screws won’t come out, and I’m sure the grout from those beautiful tiles is not helping, but the cabinets are seriously stuck on the wall.  They got the piece of tiled countertop off – the one with broken tiles on the kitchen side of the pony wall, and that cabinet came out.  I didn’t realize there was an actual wall behind it until the cabinet was hauled out.  Ann is pushing for keeping the wall and capping it with something that can act as a place for stools on the dining room side.  She told me yesterday she has all kinds of ideas percolating about the kitchen (one of which was a great idea for using the “pantry” closet, which is where the previous tenants kept their litter box – gross), so we’ll see what she comes up with.  First I need to finish the upstairs so this is how the kitchen will look for at least the next couple of weeks:


 Speaking of the upstairs, on tap for this week is a second coat of paint on the ceiling in the small bedroom, two coats of paint on the ceiling in the big bedroom and the hallway, two coats of paint on the walls in the small bedroom, finish the first coat of paint on the walls in the hall and then do the second coat, spray the crap out of all the floors upstairs with an enzymatic cleaner Kathy got from her vet (guaranteed to get rid of odors, including those from dead bodies – says so right on the bottle), two coats of Kilz on all the floors and, if I have time, a little bit of high gloss white trim paint.  All of that needs to be done by Saturday night since I will be out of town Sunday through Tuesday and the new carpet gets installed hopefully on Thursday next week. 

So what did I do over there yesterday?  Nothing.  Mom went back to Killington with a car full of trash and recycling, so it was the first time I was here by myself.  Well, poodle and I were here by ourselves.  Poodle misses mom.  We ran a few errands and it was warm outside so I told poodle we would go for a walk.  She was beyond excited.  And then … I couldn’t find her leash.  I looked everywhere.  Twice.  I looked everywhere twice and then looked again.  I called mom to see if she knew where it was, or if it was in her car.  No go.  I called both my sisters to see if it ended up in their stuff when they left on Saturday.  No go.  Luckily I found Roxie’s baby leash so we were able to go out, but she walks better on a retractable leash.  I have since looked everywhere eight more times (I even looked in the freezer –you never know) but I still can’t find it.  It is driving me crazy.  I’m sure the minute I go buy a new one the old one will turn up.

Anyway, I read a library book yesterday and did another load of laundry (no quarters necessary – woo hoo!) and did a little rearranging.  The dining room in the trailer is going to be my art studio but the previous owners have a ceiling fan hanging in there, even though the ceiling is only about six feet high.  I tried to take a selfie so you can see how low it is, but it’s hard to take a selfie and not be in the picture.
I’m hoping the removal of the ceiling fan can be a job for the electrician, but I still haven’t called him.  I need to get the upstairs finished before I move on to another project.  My studio space can be temporarily set up now, so that’s what I did.  I folded up the card table and chairs and brought my desk into the dining room from the smaller of the two bedrooms, which I will use as an office.  The desk is really an artist’s table – you can adjust the height and tilt the top.  I set it up almost at its highest height to use as a temporary base for my painting table.  I paint flat, not on an easel, and I’ve painted on my kitchen counter for the past seven years, so I want a surface that is about 36” high.  I also want to be able to move the table around, so I saved a set of casters I found in our garage when we were moving all our stuff out of the house in November.  At some point I will build a permanent base for the table with some kind of pipes and the casters, but for now the desk is working fine.  As for the top, we took down the door that was between the two bedrooms.  When the door was open it just stuck out into the middle of the smaller room, which is kind of dumb.  So away it went and I’m using it as the table top.  It’s the perfect size – 72” x 36” – and that’s more than THREE TIMES the size of the counter I was painting on before.  Awesome.


In the background you can see some of my art junk in the next room.

I set up my old dining room table in the living room, and I’ll use it for making jewelry and whatever else.  For the foreseeable future, I’ll use it as a dining room table (!) although with the addition of two stools Ann gave me, my art table looks like a lunch counter.

As you can see, the trailer living room is also my bedroom until the upstairs next door is useable.  We left mom’s air mattress set up because she will be back next week (after a four day jaunt to Brooklyn with her friend Joan).  Roxie will be very happy to see her.

 What else.  The moving truck left this morning.
Oh, and that reminds me – I met some of my neighbors Sunday when they were out in the road repairing the mailboxes that someone knocked down Saturday night.  I met that guy too.  They all seem like nice people.

 My information overload is petering out, so I’m going down to the library to upload these posts before I get into full painting mode.  Maybe tonight I will paint something small, on a canvas rather than a wall or a ceiling.  Unless I get wrapped up in mindless tv watching.  I get five channels here thanks to a giganto ugly antenna outside:  three public television channels, a local network out of New York that mostly comes in okay, and something called MeTV.  I learned that one stands for Memorable Entertainment Television and they are proudly “Kardashian Free.”  The other night we watched an episode of Batman (Holy Painfully Bad TV, Batman!) and two episodes of Wonder Woman.  I remember loving that show when we were kids; it’s amazing how dorky it seems now!

 The end.  For now.



A Little Crooked House

(I wrote this on Wednesday the 8th - today is Tuesday the 14th.)

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

That’s an English nursery rhyme, c. 1842.  If you take away the first three lines, throw in the words “girl” and “dog” and keep the last line, you’ve got my current situation.  Except I think it would have to be a “wicked crooked house.” 

Here’s a sunset from Saturday night, as seen from my driveway, overlooking the neighbor’s house across the street:

And here’s poodle keeping her eye on me when I went outside to take the picture:

My little trailer was full-to-overflowing on Saturday.  Kathy, mom, poodle and I drove up from Killington.  Ann came down from Hinesburg with Abby, Evan, Delaney and Hoagie (he’s a dog).  Aidan and Liam came over after snowboarding at Bolton. 

It was interesting, considering my current (borrowed) furniture consists of a card table and four folding chairs.  Saturday night the trailer living room was lined with air mattresses:  mom, Kathy, Evan, Abby, Delaney, poodle and I were all lined up in a row.  It was hilarious.  Before I show you pictures of what the painting crew accomplished, I MUST mention what we had for dinner.  Chinese take-out from a place called the Green Dragon.  Now I MUST mention that the Green Dragon is literally FOUR MINUTES from my house.  Did you get that?  FOUR MINUTES!  And it is one of THREE Chinese places I’ve seen here in town.  *swoon*  This may not mean much to some of you, but for those of you familiar with Bigfork, Montana, you know why this makes me deliriously happy.  Strangely enough, the Green Dragon even had french fries on the menu, so Evan was happy.  Chinese flavored french fries.  I think they cook them with the chicken fingers.

Anyway, back to the painting.  There’s a reason why I don’t paint houses for a living.  It’s a pain in the butt.  We started with the darker color for a couple of the living room walls. 

I know it looks orange in the pictures, but the color is called Armangac.  It’s a Sherwin Williams color – look it up.  Kathy is painting it on the stair risers as well.  (Those are the risers, right?  Not the treads, because that’s the part you walk on, right?)  In that first picture, Evan is not-so-patiently waiting for his first ever opportunity to paint with a roller.

On Sunday we moved on to the yellow (called Butter Up) in the dining room and the rest of the living room walls.  It was a fluorescent color right out of the can – not quite what I was expecting but you can see it is different from the peach color the previous people had in the dining room.  Delaney said it is a happy color.  And speaking of the dining room, doesn’t that space look tiny with people in it?  Yikes.


Poodle helped a lot.

Okay, what else.  I’m trying to remember what we’ve been doing the past couple of days.  I opened a bank account and got a post office box.  Notice I updated my mailing address over there on the right.  The post office computer randomly picks a box number for you, and when my number came up as 1612 the woman said, “Ah, the War of 1612.”  We don’t think there really was one, but I will forever remember my box number now by thinking of the War of 1612.

We’ve been to Big Lots three days in a row.  I didn’t even know what a Big Lots was until I moved here, and now I’ve been there three times.  Maybe four, I lost count.  I’ve been to the Aubuchon Hardware store four days in a row, and will be going back tomorrow.  Maybe tomorrow I can get a library card, too, because I have nothing to read.

Mom has been denuding the yard of lots of knick knacks and doo dads.  We took a bunch to a store that resells them as a benefit for the United Way, and next door found a master electrician looking for small jobs.  I’m going to call him tomorrow.  Hopefully he can come over and give me an idea of what I need to worry about first.  I’ve got enough small jobs to keep him busy for all of eternity, assuming he doesn’t have heart failure when he sees the wiring in this place.  Woo hoo!

Back to the painting.  Kathy picked a color for the two bedrooms upstairs and mom taped everything.  Both rooms need walls and ceilings painted.  Since the ceiling slopes down to a knee wall, I couldn’t decide what to do about color.  After putting the first coat on the walls in the bigger bedroom, I decided to go with a ceiling color that is tinted about halfway to the wall color.  Oh, and I couldn’t reach all the way up the tall walls with mom’s stepladder, so I couldn’t get an entire first coat on all the walls.  I kind of forgot about the whole before-and-after business, so these pictures are mid-painting. 

Sad poodle.

Ann brought down her Little Giant ladder today and I finished the walls and the inside of the closet in the big room, and painted the ceiling in the little room.  No, I didn’t need the ladder for the closet, nor did I need it for the ceiling in the littler room.  Amazing how easy it is to rub your head against wet paint when you are painting a low ceiling.

While I was messing around with this, mom was ripping the crap out of the carpet in the smaller bedroom. 

See, here’s the deal.  The previous tenants had a cat.  And somehow that cat turned into three cats.  And those three cats left one hell of a stink behind.  I have nothing against cats – I love cats - but I have everything against irresponsible pet owners who don’t know how to clean up after their pets.  If this is you, please stop reading right now and go away.  I have no time for you.  Because of some irresponsible pet owners, not only are we replacing all of the carpet upstairs, mom also ripped out the pad underneath and all of the tack strips.  We’re down to plywood.  And it still stinks.  Twice now I have sprayed almost a full bottle of pet odor eliminator on the entire floor of the small bedroom, which means my back hurts from bending over and my hands hurt from squeezing the trigger on the damn bottle.  A zillion times.  Plus I’m just pissed (no pun intended).  If this second application doesn’t help with the smell, the third time will be with barely diluted bleach.  Then we will paint the floors to seal them before the carpet installers come on the 22nd.

One thing I did learn during all this, though, is that my mom is an animal when it comes to carpet removal.  She did it all herself.  Talking to herself most of the time, but she did it.  We got her somewhat hooked on HGTV a couple of months ago, and now she could have her own show.  I suggested she test drive the cast iron tub tonight, but I forgot to get Epsom salts when we were out today.  Guess I’ll be going back to Big Lots tomorrow.