Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Time Shares and Exhaustion

Over the weekend, I only worked at the house on Sunday. Here's the weekend recap:

Friday & Saturday - After work, I headed home with the intention of doing a little bit of work before packing and leaving for Lincoln, NH (more on this later). When I arrived home, there were seven men working in my house. It was craziness. There was an electrician upstairs, with two helpers, Crazy Jeff Doors, Al Medina and two helpers. If I went anywhere other than outside, I would have been in some one's way.

The good news about all of the workers being there is that things were finished up. There is not only light on the second floor, but crazy creature comforts like ceiling fans and working outlets. The electrician finished up on the second floor, so that's great.

Al Medina added a banister to the second floor, added some trim in the kitchen, and finished up his obligations. Also great.

Crazy Jeff Doors showed up and actually did work. Also great.

Amanda got out of work, took a shower and we headed to the car to drive to NH. Here are the proceedings from the trip, followed by a 1st grade report card inspired rating:

Drove to Lincoln (Satisfactory)
In 4 and a half hours (Unsatisfactory)
Checked into the resort (Satisfactory)
Found a Murphy Bed in the condo (Excellent)
Found a broken fireplace (Needs Improvement)
Went to Dinner (Satisfactory)
Enjoyed a hot tub (Excellent)
Hot tub closed after 10 minutes (Unsatisfactory)
Slept (Excellent)

Woke Up (Unsatisfactory)
Ate breakfast (Excellent)
Enjoyed a hot tub (Excellent)
Checked out (Satisfactory)
Met with a salesman (Needs Improvement)
Listened to sales pitch for 2+ hours (TERRIBLE)
Received free plane tickets (Satisfactory)
Left (Excellent)

That's right. Amanda and I went to a resort in Lincoln, NH to stay for free, listen to a salesman try to sell us a timeshare and get free airline tickets. The traffic, the bed and the salesman were just terrible. Thus, as of right now, it wasn't worth it. Once we go on two free trips to Venice or something? It might be worth it.

After that experience, we got some lunch with Judy and headed to Ikea. We bought a bunch of stuff and drove home.

Sunday - Amanda and I worked a lot. I added some trim upstairs, added some wainscoting in the first floor bathroom, built some furniture, assembled a closet organization system in the master bedroom closet, etc.

Monday - I put a bead of caulk around everything in the kitchen and started the baseboards in the second floor second bedroom. I only started them, not finished them, because I am an idiot and forgot to charge my circular saw battery. It died, and so did my hopes of finishing the trim.

Amanda threw some wood putty around, sanded, and painted some trim. Hooray.

As for the title of this post, and it's final noun, I am starting to get a little tired. I've been working until 11 every night and getting to work at 7:15 for the last week and a half or so. It might not seem like much, but I feel like I'm 75 years old. I am not. My back hurts, my hands are constantly sore, my knees are generally in pain, etc.

(Needs Improvement)

Friday, June 26, 2009


Yesterday, a lot got done. Crazy Jeff Doors hung a few more doors upstairs, Amanda and I bought some light fixtures for the second floor, we bought exterior paint for the new front steps, I finished the second floor bathroom floor, Amanda primed the new front steps, we hung the cabinet doors in the kitchen and Michael Jackson died. Busy.

Jeff will be finishing up his work, hopefully today. The electrician should be finishing up the work upstairs, and we will be heading to NH for a night. Weird.

Here are the before, after and after after pictures of the front steps:

Here are the before and after shots of the bathroom floor:

Here is the sweet set up I worked in the past two nights (no electricity upstairs = dark. It is actually much darker than it looks. My camera sucks up more light than my eyes do):

And finally, here are the freshly painted and hung cabinet doors in the kitchen:

Back to work on Sunday.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Evening Work.

When I got home from work yesterday, it was busy. It was nice to see. Crazy Jeff Doors was cleaning up after another day of door hanging/trimming and Al Medina was building me some front steps. To say that the front steps were 'spongy' before yesterday is apt. They were pretty dangerous and rotted. Now they're rebuilt. Great.

After dinner, Amanda finished up painting the cabinet doors (which is fantastic) and I cleaned up/repaired the second floor bathroom floor. Once the holes were filled in and the floors were relatively dust free, I got to work laying vinyl tiles. It's a pretty easy process, but was made a little harder because the second floor has no lights. I had to use a flashlight for lighting. Great.

After three hours, a tube and a half of liquid nails, many tile cuts and lots of sweat, I ran out of tile. Since I'm an idiot and didn't buy the requisite "extra X percent of tile to account for cuts", I ran out. I probably have another half an hour to go in there before the floor is finished.

Hopefully, tonight I will prime the new stairs and finish up the tile in the bathroom. Since today is sunny (read: the cloud cover isn't quite as thick as usual. There's no actual sun shining on us, but it's as close as it's been to breaking through in seemingly weeks), I should be able to get the stairs done, and possibly a coat of color, without fear of losing it to a rain shower.

Amanda will hopefully hang the cabinet doors in the kitchen. That will look sterling.

I'll have some before/after pictures of the stairs and bathroom floor for you hopefully tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Finished up painting upstairs. Primer, ceilings, two coats of paint. Done. It only took 47 hours and roughly 37 gallons of sweat. It's hot up there.

In other news, General Contractor Al Medina is working at the house today to fix the front steps, install a banister to the second floor, and fix the bathroom and second floor bedroom floors (so I can order carpet and/or tile). That should wrap up his obligations at the house, which is kind of awesome.

Also, crazy Jeff Doors (I don't know his actual last name) is hanging some more doors upstairs today.

On Friday, the electrician should finish up his work on the second floor and I'll finally be able to get a quote from him on the first floor stuff (thanks Ron). We've managed to live pretty comfortably with a single outlet in the kitchen, surprisingly, but more than one would be nice...

I plan on laying some tile in the second floor bathroom (provided that the floor is fixed) tonight and generally continuing the trend of not sleeping enough and working/sweating/ingesting latex paint too much.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Weekend In Pictures

As promised, here are some pictures of the work done over the weekend.

Since taking these, I've pretty much finished up the painting (second coats, cut the corners, etc).

Here's the Master Bedroom:

And the second bedroom upstairs:

And the hung TV (if you look closely, you can see what the house will look like when it's done. The corner with the windows and curtains looks great):

What I looked like after spraying the primer upstairs. Notice the paint on my tear ducts:

(I can't wait until my hair is actually that color)

And what I looked like after cleaning the paint sprayer:

One of the problems with constantly working (at home, and at my day job), is the fact that my grooming has suffered. I shave maybe once every two weeks. I don't like it, as it's itchy and I look like an R tard, but that's the way it's gone so far.

Crazy Jeff is hanging some doors this week and the electrician started upstairs yesterday. Things are starting to come together.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I worked very hard over the weekend. It stunk.

On Friday, I went home after work and helped hang my TV up over my fireplace. It took some effort, but it's up, and it looks great. I also hung a few curtain rods before going to test out some bikes with Amanda. Amanda bought a bike and that was that.

Once we finished up dinner, we headed to Home Depot to buy all kinds of lumber. 6 doors, hinges for them, handles for them, and trim for the doorways upstairs. I had to buy, and I'm not exaggerating, 140 feet of door trim. 140 feet! Terrible.

Saturday brought the real work. After a quick and delicious greasy breakfast from down the street, we headed to a grocer. Not our usual grocer, but one I was initially a bit skeptical of. What a glorious decision.

This new grocer was very very bad overall. Poor selection, ugly interior, minimal brand names, etc. It was closer and we heard less expensive, so we tried it out. Towards the end of our overall disappointing trip through the store, I noticed a bunch of boxes of Count Chocula. Whenever I see Count Chocula, I immediately look for its less celebrated, but easily superior step brother, Boo Berry. Sadly, it never materializes. Usually, surrounding Count Chocula is only more of the same, blandly chocolate tasting garbage. Even throughout the years, my eyes light up in hopes of finding the elusive, blueberry flavored, marshmallow infused breakfast, only to be disappointed.

Saturday, however, to my surprise I saw a few boxes of it. Elated, I danced over to the boxes, grabbed two, and happily tossed them into the cart.

I can't tell you how excited I was. It is easily my favorite cereal of all time. It was almost never in any store I entered growing up and generally, the only place I could get it was at my friend Josh's house. His mom knew where to get it. Since going off to college, and thus not visiting Josh and his miracle working mother, I have not eaten it once. It was nowhere to be found in Philadelphia (where I resided for seven years) and until Saturday, was in parts unknown here in the Providence area. What an unbelievable turn of luck. Even though that grocery store is terrible and has almost nothing that I would like to eat, I will go there at least once a week.

What a fantastic start to the day.


After we got home, I immediately began taping off the second floor windows to prep them for my new in the box paint sprayer. After a few hours of meticulous taping and covering, I was excited to start. I put on latex gloves, pants, a long sleeved shirt, a respirator and my earbuds and got to business. What an incredible invention. I had the entire second floor primed in less than four hours. Even if I used my handy Wagner Power Roller, it would have taken me at least six or seven hours (there are very tall ceilings in each room, and huge walls everywhere). Paint sprayers are great. Messy, but great.

When I finished up the painting and cleaning of all my painting stuff, I called it a day (night?).

On Sunday, I got to work early. I filled up the sprayer with some flat ceiling paint, got all my gear back on, and sprayed away. An hour or so later and the ceilings were done (again, this would have taken at least 4 hours to do without the sprayer). Awesome.

One thing I haven't mentioned yet is how suffocating the process is. Since there is no electricity yet upstairs, it's pretty dark. The windows are taped off, letting no light, or air in. It's basically a dark, foggy (from the paint particles floating around), super hot working environment. I probably sweat out 5 pounds per day this weekend. Paint sprayers aren't without their downsides...

Once the ceilings were done and given a little bit of time to dry, I started to paint the walls, the semi-old fashioned way (aforementioned Power Roller). This took forever and I finished up around 5:30 or so. The second floor is now painted, but not yet trimmed out.

Also, Amanda worked on priming the cabinet doors and getting some wood putty up in the hallway. Killer.

An electrician is coming this week (hooray) and I plan on finishing the painting, getting the second floor bathroom floor done, starting to get the trim up and finally finishing the stupid first floor bathroom.

I should have some pictures of our hard work from the weekend up tomorrow. Be excited.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Big Weekend Upcoming. I Hope.

Over the last week, a handyman and sometimes his dad and friend have been working on getting the second floor prepped for paint. Basically, creating mountains of joint compound dust and making everything smooth.

Once they finish up (today), the second floor will be ready to paint. I'm going to fill my paint sprayer with drywall sealer, point, and spray in all directions. It's probably going to be hilarious. Once sealed, it's time for ceiling paint. After that, it's wall paint. Once that's done, we can actually start moving stuff upstairs. Once stuff is upstairs, we will have at least one empty room to finish. Once that room is finished, we move stuff from another room into that one, and repeat. Holy moly.

It's a grand plan. It may not actually happen, but that's the plan this weekend.

I haven't yet finished the stupid wainscoting yet. I stink. That will be done this weekend as well.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Last night, I worked on putting up the baseboard trim in the bathroom while Amanda put a coat of semi-gloss onto the kitchen drawer fronts. Whee.

Nothing else of interest happened.

Today, I'll be hopefully putting up the wainscoting in the bathroom, effectively finishing it up. It will be weird to have a room done.

Does anyone else remember this? I almost collapsed when I first saw it. Just awesome:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Not much went on yesterday, at least anything interesting. I completed step three of proper tile installation and sealed the heck out of it.

After dinner, I started to set up the sawhorses to cut some trim/wainscoting for the first floor bathroom, but it started to rain. I was shocked.

Resigned to the fact that I will only have one day per week to do things outside, I grabbed all of the kitchen drawers and sanded them. After sanding, they got a nice coat of primer. Since the humidity is hovering around 117 percent, the first coat wouldn't be dry enough to apply a second coat until hours later, so I called it a night.

While I'm at work, a person is happily sanding and mudding the second floor of my house. Yesterday, he brought his father along to help. When I came home from work, they were still there, just finishing up. Two things to note about the handyman's father:

1. His eyes are about 7 inches apart. It's jarring.

2. He seems like a very nice guy.

Those two things may be true, but it doesn't really stop him from being kind of dumb. When I walked into the house and set my stuff down in the living room, I noticed a person print, made of joint compound dust, on my couch. Perturbed, I backtracked outside, where the workers were, and asked who sat on the couch. Dad was the culprit.

When asking about the person print, I noticed that the driver of the truck parked in my driveway, presumably the father, had stopped with his rear passenger's side tire on top of a plant. Not a weed growing in between the cracks of the driveway, but a plant I had purchased and surrounded by inches of mulch. Awesome.

The last hint that dad might be a little slow? His chosen method of dust clean-up. When he rushed into the house to remedy the dusty couch problem, instead of getting something to brush the dust off with, he grabbed some paper towels and wet them. I don't know if you've ever dealt with dust in fabric before, but in my experience, wetting the fabric only makes things worse. Luckily, his son had already started cleaning up, sans-liquids, and the couch is looking good.

One thing I have yet to mention here is that I don't have cable. It's been quite some time since I have been without the constant murmur of the television, but it's kind of great. I did get the internet, which has basically every show we'd watch via bit torrent. I purchased a little device that I can hook my external hard drive up to and it plays 1080p videos on my huge TV. Below is a handy table of pros and cons, if you're thinking of getting rid of cable television:

The Cons - No live sporting events
- No Sportscenter with morning cereal
- On Demand was generally very good
- One day wait to download and view new episodes of shows

The Pros - My television bill has been reduced greatly
- I actually read a little bit now (could be construed as a con, but we'll keep it here)
- I don't have to wait for Netflix for Showtime (which I wouldn't have) shows
- I downloaded every episode of Hey Dude

Even if all of the other Pros didn't exist, it would still be worth it. Hey Dude is just fantastic. Next up? Salute Your Shorts.

This thing came apart.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Kitchen.

Big weekend. We now have a semblance of a kitchen.

On Friday, after work, I rushed home to remove the old counter top, hook up the dishwasher, and do some counter support work around it (the old counter was being supported by the dishwasher. This is a bad idea). As I was finishing up the support stuff, the counter folks showed up and got to work. A few hours later, three counter tops had been installed and we had actual food preparation surfaces throughout the kitchen. Hooray.

I spent the first half of Saturday prepping some more exterior window trim for paint. Since it's been raining for the past 13 weeks, I was happy to be outside, but unhappy to be scraping and sanding old red paint.

A quick aside about the weather: the one good thing that came from all of this rain lately is the fact that I haven't had to water the lawns for two hours a day. They are growing in nicely, as evidenced by this shot of the back yard (the grass is probably 5-7 inches long):

While I was outside and on to the painting, Amanda was finishing up the construction of the third and fourth curtains for the house. Only twenty five hundred to go. When she was out of fabric, she relieved me of my painting work and took over. All of the windows on one side of the house are painted. It's a marked improvement:

While Amanda was painting outside, I got cracking on tiling the back splash above the new counter. Many tile cuts and hours later, I had finished up the first step to proper tiling and we called it a day.

Sunday brought more crappy weather, so we went to Home Depot and picked up all kinds of stuff (wainscoting, second floor bathroom floor tiles, sawhorses, etc). Once we lugged it all into the house, I got to the second step of proper tiling; grout. My mother is terrible at this. Thankfully, I am much better. A couple of hours with some grout and a float, and I was finished up. The third and final step to proper tiling is today, and once the grout is sealed, the kitchen will be that much closer to completion. What's left? Cabinet doors and drawers. What else? Why electricity of course. Thanks Ron...

Here's the sink, subway tile and counters:

Also exciting this weekend? We finally got to use the stove . It's been sitting there, basically just acting as a clock for months. We didn't really have any surfaces to prepare food, or at least ones that weren't covered in dust/paint, so we never tried it for fear of lead poisoning. The good oven news is, it works. Here's the proof:


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Yard

I painted the bathroom last night and hired a fellow to finish up the drywall mudding upstairs. Boring.

By popular demand (Paul Topham), here's the front yard:

It's a little on the brown side in some spots, as it spent a few days rolled up and thus, not getting much sun. It should come back to green soon. The constant gloom and rain should help.

And now this:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Stolen Garbage.

Last night, after finishing up Season 3 of Dexter, I finished the stupid corner in the bathroom and sealed the drywall. Huzzah.

More importantly, Tuesday, in my neighborhood, is garbage day. As I do every Monday, I dragged the garbage down to the sidewalk, so it can leave my property for good. I found out over the course of the week that the garbage folks will take pretty much anything, including garbage, recyclables, appliances and yard refuse. Splendid. It just so happens that we had all of those things to dispose of. I dragged the garbage can, 4 palates (from the sod) a dishwasher and rolled the old fridge down for pick-up.

Here's a little note about the fridge: It had been sitting in an abandoned house for months and months. When I bought the house, I removed it from the house and set it outside, where it remained, unmoved, for another month or two. I don't know if you know much about refrigeration, but it basically keeps food fresher, a little bit longer, as bacteria and mold has a harder time prospering in frigid conditions. It basically slows down the decomposition process. The important thing to note here is that, since it doesn't come close to moving the needle on the kelvin scale, it doesn't stop it altogether.

Considering the process is slowed, not halted completely, things inside of a refrigerator, if left unattended, will still decompose. And considering that the previous owner left the home, and thus, the refrigerator, unattended for months on end, without completely cleaning out the appliance, you can imagine what kind of wretched foulness was left to breed and multiply inside. Needless to say, it was full of black mold and a stench that I cannot even begin to describe.

When I first opened the refrigerator, months ago, the putrid stink lingered in the air for minutes on end. It was, without a doubt, the worst smelling refrigerator I had ever smelled, and possibly in the world. And it took that crown before I left it outside in the elements, with its heat heat and moisture fluctuations, unplugged, for a month or two.

Now, I rolled that fridge down to the sidewalk where it remained for at least 7 minutes. Here's a picture of the sidewalk post trash dragging:

And here it is two hours later:

Can you spot the difference?

Someone actually took the fridge.

Not only did they take it, but they opened it up, stuffed all of the drawers and shelves into my garbage can, closed it and loaded it onto something. Provided that the person(s) had both eyes and a nose, it's safe to say that the person(s) also saw and, more importantly, smelled the fridge. They still took the thing! I don't care how great it looked (it didn't look great), or how free it was (very), once you crack the door even two inches, you know that this appliance can only bring bad things.

I can only assume that they vomited for the entire ride home, even if they loaded it onto an open air truck and they we're 14 feet away from the hermetically sealed fridge. Once they cracked that door, it was in their nostrils, heavily, for an hour.

This leads me to wonder what would have to be inside of a refrigerator to keep people from taking it. An active hornets nest? A murder of hungry crows? An angry bear? I wish I had another disposable fridge to find out...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ho Hum.

Work is continuing, indoors and out, at my house. I'll admit I slacked off last week, both in the writing, as well as working departments. I have no excuse.

Over the weekend, lots of things were done; most involved outdoor work. Amanda and I planted some more bushes in the back yard, and that pretty much wraps up the landscaping. All of the sod is laid, and all of the plantings are in. All that remains is to put some sort of border around the newest bushes and to continue watering the stupid lawns for 18 hours per day.

Also finished up over the past week? Hanging some doors. All doors in the first floor hallway are up and actually close, so that's awesome. Proof:

On Sunday, I went and bought a crazy adjustable ladder from Home Depot, as it's time to start scraping/painting exterior window trim. I finished scraping, sanding and priming a window and a doorway yesterday. It's pretty tedious work and I dislike it greatly, but it's a significant improvement compared to the old red color. Only 37 more windows to go...

With the new ladder, I also cleared out the gutters on the side of the house. Filthy, disgusting work. I'd venture a guess that at least five years went by between gutter cleanings. Why do I know that at least five years went by? Easy. The roof on the house is at least five years old, probably older. When said roof was being installed, some roofer, or roofers, decided that a great place to store belts of roofing nails was in the gutters. They then left the nails in the gutter, to clog them for years to come. Tetanus anyone?

The last notable happening from the last week or so at the house has to do with the crazy man with the fat wife who was fixing door frames in the hallway. I came home late last week to find him watering the front lawn. I am not paying him for this, but he said he was out of wood, bored, and was waiting for a ride. Any time I don't have to spend watering a lawn is time I'd enjoy, so no big deal. He mentioned that in his boredom, he also installed a light fixture in the bedroom. That's great. Here it is:

If you'll notice, there is yellow insulation hanging out of the sides. Quality.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Just Kidding."

The title of this post is something that my landscaping friend should have told me more than once.

The first time he should have said it is when he told me he would be coming to my house to finish up the yard, "in like half an hour." He said that yesterday around noon. he didn't follow it up with a, "Just kidding," but he should have. He didn't show up.

He was at my house today to hopefully finish things up.

The second time he should have said it is when I asked him if he'd have enough sod to finish the front, back and side yards. He said yes when he first started installing it last week. He didn't follow it up with a, "just kidding." He should have. He ran out today.


Monday, June 1, 2009


Hello there.

Friday - Backyard sod is done. Hooray. When I got home from work, a bunch of seemingly punk kids were standing around in my yard, smoking and talking on cell phones. Somehow, this led to my back yard having grass. Here are a few pictures of said lawn:

The front lawn? Not so finished. Not even really started. I guess he's going to my house today to do some work. I hope so, because I'm sick of looking like an idiot watering a palate of rolled up sod stacked next to my house.

Saturday - After watering the lawn, as I get to do twice a day for the next hundred years or so, I grabbed a shovel, a level and some retaining wall blocks and got to work. Nine hours (seriously) of digging, chopping, leveling and fine tuning later, I had the first row of blocks laid and ready for the rest of the wall. I would save that for another day.

During my time getting things ready for a wall, a weird man came over to fix the terrible door jambs and frames in my first floor hallway. The night previous, Amanda and I spent a bunch of money buying new interior doors and some wood, among other things, to get this crazy man ready for door fixing. He worked away throughout the day and got two jambs/frames/doors done. Not bad for a days work.

Oh, and it bears mentioning that this crazy man has an enormous (probably close to 400lbs) friend/girlfriend/12 steps sponsor. Why do I know this? Because she was his ride to and from my house. She showed up a full two and a half hours before he was finished and proceeded to park herself 10 feet from where I was fighting with a retaining wall. She talked and talked and talked. Ugh. I learned that she had a stroke awhile ago which led to her falling down. Upon impacting the ground (I assume), she hurt her hip. That's two ailments so far. She also is going through chemotherapy apparently.

(An aside - is chemotherapy our generations bloodletting and leeches? Will your great grand kids be looking back at medical history and say things like, "what? they intentionally ingested radioactive pills? Idiots..."?)

While sitting through her constant regaling, I made probably three sounds that could have been construed as communication. She did not get the hint. At some point during the "exchange" Amanda made the mistake of coming outside. She was stuck listening to the same things I was forced to listen to, only Amanda is much nicer than I am, so she felt the need to actively participate in the conversation, like a regularly functioning social person

At one point, I realized that our only hope was that this enormous, unhealthy and annoying woman would get hungry. She did. She left to get some dinner and I was left to work in peace.

Sunday - Not much happened on Sunday. Amanda and I put up the rest of the retaining wall in about an hour and a half, did a little yard tending and called it quits. I would have done more work, but I was, and remain, super ultra extra mega sore for getting the retaining wall ready. I am a gangly, weak 6'6" and was not designed to be crouched over working essentially underground for minutes, let alone the 9 hours I spent doing it on Saturday.

Here's the finished wall:

Not too bad.

After the wall was done, we went to see a matinee of Up and I got a new phone finally.

Lastly, here's that video I promised. My camera cut off before I could capture the triumphant ending, but here's an image of the finished product, after plantings:

And the video (the best is Amanda's mighty swing at around 1:48):

A woman walked by me yesterday morning, while I was working on the wall, and said to me, while gesturing to the Kennedy sign (which I found behind the bushes I tore out) leaning on my front stairs and said, "that's great. I'm glad you left it up. Good for you."