All posts filed under: Home Improvement

If only owning a century home didn’t provide so many interesting surprises.

What price frugality?

I blame the following on heat stroke. And pain. (Read in the tone of drained awfulness.)   One hour, two hours, three hours, four – I really don’t want to do any more. We scrape and we wash and we prime and we paint. We dangle from scaffolding until we are faint. Tibbit is hungry, Hamish is bored. The house is still green in one corner more.   The garage lurks out back, all peeling and grim. I think we’ll be painting when the stars go dim.   Twenty thousand dollars seemed a lot to pay. Maybe, we said, there’s a more economical way? Scaffolding, scrapers, and gallons of tint – Up to the soffits and bump outs we went.   Lamentations and griping, match blisters and pain. If only, I think darkly, we’d have days of rain.   (Sigh.)   Would we do it all over? When the end is so near? Oh God we sure would. Sweat equity wins out when the cost is so high. We’d do it again, and ask ourselves …

The interview ends with a worm.

We’re here with Hamish the Corgi and Miss Tibbit-the-useless-little-black-dog. It’s painting season again here at the WideEyedDomicile. The Bosses are up on the scaffolding along the northwest side this season, scraping and painting yet another architectural complexity. We asked Miss Tibbit what she thinks of the house painting activity. “Well,” she looked either thoughtful or vacant, it isn’t easy to tell, “it is really pretty boring. We just sit around in the yard. There’s not much to do.” Hamish looked sideways at her. “That’s a negative attitude.” Tibbit snorted. “Look at them up there,” Hamish waved his nose upward, “they stay in one place for hours at a time and I can keep my eye on them.” “Whatever,” Miss Tibbit seemed doubtful. She sniffed the air and “Hey, there’s a worm over there!” She spun on her hind legs and took off. “What??” Hamish ran after her. Another day, more of the house painted. We’ll check back in with the WideEyedHousehold next week.

High places

Miss Tibbit and I stood in the rain eating black raspberries off the canes in the backyard. I reached high, Miss Tibbit plucked the low ones with her front nibble teeth. Their pure, rain-washed fruitiness is soothing my stomach after a feast of lamb vindaloo and chicken xacuti, samosas and deep-fried paneer at the Taj Grill. I can hear the rain pinging on the steel frame of the scaffolding. We should be painting. Monsoon-like rains and passing lightening storms make it impossible. The scaffolding arrived a week ago on a big rig. It traveled across country for 22 days to get here. Twenty feet of bright yellow painted tubular steel and mini-girders. So cheery. So horrifyingly high. From July 2 to July 5 we spent the daylight hours perched on Level 1 (6 feet), Level 2 (12 feet), Level 3 (18 feet) scraping, washing, priming. The husband of each neighboring household came to see. From my aerie they all looked the same: wide legged stance, arms crossed over the chest, head tilted back, mouth a …

Rain Delay

We lost the Mini to car fever yesterday. The WideEyedSpouse struggled heroically for months. Yesterday he succumbed. Yesterday, a bright sunny day perfect for painting a century home, we spent in the air-conditioned comfort of a car dealer’s showroom. The Mini stayed there. We left to rearrange the snow shovels in the garage to fit the new WideEyedMobile. “Tomorrow we’ll work on the house all day,” the Spouse said, staring dreamily in at his new ride. But. Rain. Guilt-less, feck-less, fancy-free we fled the Homestead with our Niagara Wine Trail Passports (thanks WideEyedMLB!) in hand and turned left and right for an hour or more, heading east and north into rural western New York. We crossed and crisscrossed the Erie Canal. We skirted Lake Ontario. We saw old houses tumbling down, fixing up, and hovering undecided in a state of quasi-repair. Trucks and Chevys from oldy-time hid half under tarps – rusty butt ends sticking out. Kids played in puddles, trailers huddled in clusters on abandoned farm fields. We breathed deeply of non-city air and …

Old House | Freedom Thief

We had freedom once. We hiked. We rode mountain bikes. We visited antique shops and flea markets, clutching take-out lattes. We read the whole Sunday paper to fill the time before brunch. But our lives seemed empty. So we bought a house and fixed up it. Then we moved. Bought another house and fixed it up. Then we moved, to the biggest, oldest house yet. It must be painted. I do understand that there are professionals who do these things for you. For buckets of ducats. But the WideEyedSpouse and I sort of want to see what is happening on the house. Get a sense of coming maintenance. And, we want to run the 35 foot boom lift and stare down at the neighborhood from our lofty position. Yesterday we started. We scraped. I washed with pre-painting detergent. No, I’m ok, it only burned a little when it dripped down my arms and off my elbows. We painted. Creamy white. Deepest blue. We painted until 12 minutes after sunset, knowing that rains were coming and hoping for the …

Responsibility avoidance, Or, There are two kinds of spurs my friend.

The grass in the back yard is long. Mowing has become critical. The new back stoop remains unfinished. The parts are in the garage, some assembly required. The new house colors, still undecided. Stripping the old paint, urgent. But it’s raining. 47 hundredths of an inch today so far in a long slow endless shower. Well now, that’s just too bad. All of the day’s chores were outside chores. Howsoever will I pass the time? I’ll tell you how, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and a lace knitting project. 178 minutes of men of poor moral character. Italian made cotton Tahki yarn in a peaceable spring leaf green, bamboo needles, and a simple leaf lace scarf pattern. A match made in work avoidance heaven. I knit three, and watched Blondie shoot Tuco down from the gallows for the second time… “I’ll keep the money and you can have the rope”. Slipped one purlwise, knit two and passed slip stitch over while Tuco caught Blondie in his hotel room… “There are two kinds of …

Toilets, and I didn’t know my mom lurked in my head.

I don’t know what it is about my neighborhood, but people swap out their toilets A Lot. At least once a month there’s a toilet sitting on the curb on our three block dog patrol. We’ve replaced a toilet or two around here, so I’m familiar with the brands and qualities of toilets on the market. I can tell by the empty new toilet box leaning against the old, abandoned toilet whether or not the home is 1) a rental, 2) being prepared for sale, or 3) a cared-for owner inhabited domicile. If the toilet is a brand I’ve never heard of, if the flush rating is listed as 4 or 5 rather than 10 – it’s a rental. If it is a good brand but lower end model, probably someone did a quick refurb to put a place on the market – you get the name but you aren’t out of pocket too much. There are a bunch of older folks in our neighborhood and as they sell up after 40 or 50 years, …