The Big Yellow Monster


I have been a member of the National Geographic Society for many years. The primary benefit of the membership in this prestigious society is the receipt of a magazine every month. Depending on the amount of spare time, and the topics, we either devour the magazines, or they pile up on the end table. The recent issue with the story about how dogs were domesticated, fascinating, and hit all the right notes on the Boy’s interest in dogs and evolution and selective breeding.

The thing is, I can’t get rid of these magazines- we hold on to them as reference material, in case we want to look back at the maps, re-read the articles. Cutting them up for collages? Never! People do, I know, but not us.
The reality is, though, we don’t look back at old issues, or at least we haven’t, so far. So we hold on to them. I have a vivid memory of going out to the icy cold garage one February, to find an issue with Olmecs in it, to do a school report when I was in Junior High.

Why the garage? I don’t know the origin of the decision, but there were so many issues of the magazine, and so little storage space inside, that somehow it seemed logical to keep them in the garage.
Get rid of them? Never!
Ours, almost 20 years worth, have been fitting well in a lovely built-in shelf in our entrance way. That is, they were fitting in well, when they were only occupying the bottom shelf, then they encroached on the second from the bottom, displacing my cookbooks, and craft books. The front hall is terrribly lighted as well, so even when you want to look for a map, or a story on the Mongols, it is hard to do.
Long story short…I’m not getting rid of them. Never! But I am moving them to the basement, where with some clever re-arrangement, they can have their own bookshelf, with a lamp nearby.
Philosophically, what is this hold that National Geographics have on me? I can recycle or give away other magazines and books, but not these. What do you have that you can’t get rid of?

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These Seven Pieces? Really?


At the bookstore the other day I flipped through Good Bones, a book about the seven essential pieces of furniture that you should buy and keep for a lifetime.

I was pleased to see a demilune table- I have one in teak, that I paid too much for, probably, but that I really love.

But the rest of the stuff threw me off. A dresser, obviously.

Wait…You have to write a book to tell people to buy a chest of drawers?

Slipper chairs…really?

A loveseat? ummm…I want a big couch that several people can flop on, especially as two of my favorite people to flop with get bigger and taller.

Bookshelves, a necesity for me, don’t get a mention in the book. Entertainment center… likewise not in the book. Coffee table? No. Rocker/recliner? Not in there.

So, what are your 7 essential pieces of furniture- if you were starting over, what would be the 7 first things you would get?

Demolition


Need some elbow grease to finish scraping off that mastic.

If  remodeling all starts with a throw pillow, or a pretty Martha Stewart towel rack,or paint colors, or choosing tile, there’s still a lot of stuff in the middle to get through, before any of the fun pretty stuff can get accomplished.

Our basement bathroom remodel started with a sluggish drain, and it is turning into a big deal. And we have kind of a deadline- I go back to school soon, and I will be teaching full time, rather than half, as I have been for the past several years. More money=nice, less time= not so nice.
The clock is ticking.
So, I ripped off the ceramic tile from the walls. At first I was dainty, sliding the scraper under the edge, prying gently, removing it with my other hand and placing it gently into the trash barrel.
Then it got fun. It was loose enough in most places that it would just pop off- whoever applied my tile so many years ago did it the same way they constructed the shower. That is, they did it  half-assedly. There was no grout, and I think it was mastic, rather than thin-set mortar. The mastic comes off the concrete foundation wall pretty easily, but not so much on the drywall. It’s pretty sloppy.

I used the gentlest tool first, and it worked really well- I read a lot of advice on the web that advocated crowbars and stuff, and implied that the best case scenario for most people was replacing the sheet rock. In our case, it popped off pretty easily.
The main tool I used was a scraper- it has removable 4 inch blades, and I found it in the tile section of the home improvement store.
If you are looking at this as a how-to, rather than just an opportunity to laugh at my hapless DIY skills, make sure you wear shoes, and gloves, and probably long pants, and definitely DEFINITELY DEFINITELY EYE PROTECTION. Seriously. There are tiny chips of ceramic flying around. Your eyes are what you see with. Protect them.

The next step was yanking out the dry wall from behind the shower wall. Rotten drywall. Pretty gross. I used a claw hammer to pull it up and break off pieces. About an hour by myself. I’m not complaining about doing it by myself- it is a 5×8 bathroom- I don’t think anyone else could get in there with a hammer without either taking longer, or someone getting hurt.

The next step is mental- the reason the drain was so sluggish was because the hole in the shower pan didn’t line up with the hole in the floor. I need to figure out how to “fur out” the wall so that the backer board can line up with the shower pan.

The book that has been super helpful is Stanley’s Complete Baths– I read it when we were up in the mountains last weekend.  My niece would say, “what are you reading?” and I would say, “shhh, I’m learning how to tile.”

So, we are working through the messy part, and soon will get through to the fun parts, expect more photos!

Holy Smokes- it worked!


Every picture should tell a story, right? This picture tells the story of the nasty stuff in my shower drain.

Our basement shower has been draining sloooowly for a long time, and when we had the plumber out to look at it, Dave was his name, wearing his cute little booties to protect our rugs, he just shook his head and said there was nothing he could do. Seriously?
We had already tried to snake it, but the problem was, the shower pan drain didn’t overlap with the floor drain- it was a little 3 dimensional Venn Diagram- this side was the water that came down in the shower, and this was the water that pooled up on the floor, and there in the middle, was the water that went down the drain. Gross.

We needed to do something, so I thought about remodeling. For a while. I set up a board on Pinterest, even.
After putting it off most of the summer, I tore out the shower pan last week, and tried the snake again. Not effective. Then I read somewhere that using a wet-dry vacuum would work.
Really? Okay.
It does work- I borrowed my friend Molly’s, and plugged it in, wrapped a rag around the end of the hose and turned it on.
At first, I wondered how you would be able to tell if it was working, then I felt little jerks on the hose, and looked inside the canister. Globs. Nasty globs of, let’s admit it, mostly my hair. And a piece of plastic that the installers had used to bridge the gap between the drain holes.
I poured an exploratory gallon or 2 of water down the drain, and it made contented gurgling sounds. Yea!
Next step, doing something about the decomposing wallboard behind the shower wall. Seriously? Who installed this thing?