Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year 2009

Well, I'd like to wish all of you a happy New Year. 2009 can't be much worse than 2008, can it?

Okay, so we were not about to watch Ryan Seacrest and the sad state of Dick Clark, so we watched New Year's Eve LIVE on CNN, with what turned out to be the painful pairing of Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. While I like both of them separately, together they were awful. Kathy was over-the-top obnoxious and Anderson was as nervous as a whore in church. Kathy kept talking over him, interrupting him constantly, to the point it wasn't fun. It was painful in places. While he did manage to get in a several bitchy comments, it just didn't work. And speaking of not working, CNN had so many technical difficulties with the switch-offs to other reporters that it makes you wonder how they run a network for their day job.

I think the best thing for the country in 2009 is that Dubya will not be running it after January 20. I have my fingers crossed that Obama does a better job.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

In which I become a butch contractor

Occasionally, I take off the cook's apron and put on the contractor's apron. Today, I wore both. I made chicken fajitas for dinner and some fresh guacamole that really rocked. We were both very happy with them.

Later, however, we began discussing the fact that we may be having several guests for New Year's Eve, and this would present a problem if some of said guests were to sleep over and occupy the upstairs guest room, since the upstairs shower has a bit of an embarrassing eyesore. You see, because our fuck-up contractor didn't do the tile job right, a problem has arisen within the last 8 months where the grout began cracking and crumbling out of the tile joints. This led to tiny amounts of water seeping behind the grout. And because aforementioned loser contractor didn't install the bathroom ventilation fan I specified, but instead used an inferior cheap-shit it's-what-I-could-get-at-Home-Depot-because-I-was-too-lazy-to-go-to-the-
specialty-store-and get-what-you-specified model, we have an issue with getting moisture out of that bathroom easily.

So all this leads to mold and mildew issues. Well, eight months ago, I had to re-caulk the tiles to the shower pan because the grout was beginning to crumble and the caulk was starting to peel. Yes, only three years into the remodel, and we're already having to play fix-it. Four months ago, the re-caulked area was peeling in a couple of places (because that's what re-caulking often does), so I (re-)re-caulked. When I was doing that caulking, the grout had so deteriorated that I had to dig much of it out of the seam. I made the mistake of not re-grouting, but instead filling the seams with caulk. Caulk is difficult to work with and sets up very quickly, so you have to work very fast when applying it. Apparently I didn't get the caulk to completely fill the seam to its full depth, so there were air pockets that allowed moisture and air to be trapped behind it, and within three months, I noticed that there were particular areas of the caulk that were beginning to change color. I scrubbed with Soft Scrub with Bleach, with bathroom cleaner and Lysol Mold & Mildew remover, but to no avail since the mold was behind the caulk and coming through it.

So tonight, I had to dig out all the old caulk and remaining pieces of grout and start over again. Having learned my lesson regarding using caulk as filler, I went to the garage and found the bag of caulk that the contractor had left, mixed it up and grouted the tile to the shower pan, taking great pains to squeeze the grout into the joints and get them filled completely. And it looks damned good, too. In a couple of days when it has cured, I will then caulk over the grout to give it water protection at the edge where it needs it most, and let that cure for 24 hours, which will be just enough time to have it ready for guests.

Sometimes the butch side of me surprises even me. If my dad were alive, he'd take the credit for that, I am sure, because from my childhood to the day he died, I can count on one hand the number of times he had to call a contractor for anything. He did everything himself: fixed cars, installed sinks, installed lighting, hung crown molding, laid linoleum flooring, installed tile, put new Formica on my mom's countertops and dining table, unclogged drains, built our TVs from kits, rebuilt carburetors, assembled and finished furniture, laid brick, poured cement expertly for driveways, steps and patios, built a fully-engineered shingled and guttered patio cover, and hundreds of other projects. He often asked me to help him or watch him do these things so that I could do them later, but I was not interested in most of these things and had the attention span for them of a gnat, so I learned very few of them. I am sure if he were alive, he'd remind me that if only I had paid better attention when I was a youngster, I could have saved a lot of money doing things myself; to which I would probably reply: "I'd rather pay someone to do it than have to do it myself." But for little jobs like this one, it feels good to know what to do and how.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Something nice for Christmas...

...on Christmas day, no less! Not an easy feat when you're working from almost 400 miles away and given the very limited delivery options.

Let's rewind, briefly. About 10:15 this morning, Jess and I were having a conversation about Christmas cards and who we hadn't heard from this year. We got fewer cards this Christmas than we had in the past, and we were comparing that also with the more limited number of Christmas baskets that we received at our respective offices. Not that we minded, just observing. We usually hear from Tuna and her crew at Christmas and hadn't...we were waiting to get her card so that we would have an address for her to send her card, since the Tuna clan moved not that long ago.

Back to present: at about 10:30 this morning, the doorbell rang and the dogs went crazy. I'm thinking, "it's Christmas! Who the heck is coming over unannounced on Christmas?!" We were not at all dressed for a visitor, and the house was hardly visitor-worthy either, so a little twinge of dread swept through me. But as I looked through the visitor viewer, a simultaneous flush of relief, curiosity and excitement came over me.

It was the mailman. On Christmas day.

About 15 years ago, the US Postal Service started delivering Express Mail on Christmas Day, and they later expanded that to include Priority Mail.

Now the question was, "who the heck is sending us a package on Christmas day?!"

Lo, and behold, it was a big box...from Tuna Girl! And inside?

Two dozen delicious chocolate chip cookies, neatly wrapped in pairs in plastic wrap and packed into a sealed container.

And they are delicious. What a great gift! Now we have cookies to enjoy on Christmas and we don't even have to bake! Woo-hoo!

Thanks, Karen and family...that really made our day!

And Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a blessed Kwanzaa to all.