Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tile Conundrum

I don't think the master bathroom's shower was installed properly. Now, I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure the shower floor is supposed to gently slope towards the drain to discourage puddling. We don't have that.

The tiles aren't one hundred percent even, either. One of them, right next to the drain was sorta off-kilter, and it cracked.
"Simple," you say. "Take it out and replace it!" After all, that's what bobvila.com and diynetwork.com told me to do.

So we pry this tile out - not easy, in fact we chipped one of the adjacent tiles - and we've got a confusing sight before us.

There's a thick layer of wet, sandy, crumbling gray stuff under the tile - obviously water had gotten in. But why is it so thick? Tiles are, at most, 3/8" thick, and the length between the black plastic pan and the top of the tile has got to be twice that. Is there supposed to be 1/2" of adhesive under the tile?

And there are more questions. Why does the "pan" have holes in it? Why isn't it sloping towards the drain?

I'm afraid if we just slap a crazy-thick layer of whatever adhesive down, pop a tile on top of it, grout and seal the whole thing, that we're putting a band-aid over a larger problem.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

lightning at sunset

lightning at sunset, originally uploaded by wvs.

The blog Pilgrimsteps alerted me to this photo. I'm a sucker for outdoor photography, especially storms and sunsets. This is amazing!

Okay, let's try this one more time ....

Last night, a coworker of Kyle's called. She had been talking about our wedding with her husband, who is a professor at the community college here. When he heard the date, he pointed out that May 2 is also graduation for both the college and the university. There wouldn't be a hotel room left in the city on that weekend.

"Don't you work at the university?" This is what you're thinking, aren't you?

Well, technically. But I work for the Extension service, which has almost nothing to do with students. My "customers" are Florida gardeners and college students don't tend to fall within that demographic. So we don't pay much attention to that sort of thing over here.

"Well, doesn't the university own the building in which you're planning to be married?" You could be thinking that too. "Why didn't the staff mention that?"

I don't have a good answer for that one.

Luckily, it all worked out. I called back this morning, and the next Saturday was available. And with graduation out of the way, it will be a little quieter in town as well.

Kyle and his friend got most of the baseboards up last night - it's amazing the difference it makes.

No baseboards:


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's on! Oh, and we got a fooseball table.

The wedding date is set!

We're getting married on Saturday, May 2, 2009. Most likely at 7 p.m. Yay! This is a huge step forward for us - we have our site and date. We had originally wanted April, and the only reason we didn't consider May is that so much is already going on that month (lots of birthday, anniversaries, Memorial Day weekend). But the reason we picked April was because the weather is consistently nice at that time of year. But a week or two later isn't going to hurt anything.


Kyle picked up his fooseball table last night:

He bought it from some kid. For sitting around in a bachelor pad for a couple of years, it's in shockingly good condition, and it's well-made. It's not a Tornado, but it's solid. And Kyle got it for such a great price (he saved hundreds versus buying a new one), I can overlook the fact that it doesn't exactly go with our interior design plan of natural colors. Chrome doesn't really show up in the "naturals" palette too often.

Right now it's in the dining room. I'm sure that's where it will stay until we get around to purchasing an actual dining set. However, there are many, many expenses standing in between now and that time. Like getting married.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Well, we had a date...

I got a bad-news e-mail this morning: apparently the date I thought I had reserved at the lovely meditation center/chapel here on campus for our wedding was given to someone else. We had wanted a sunset time as the Baughman Center is on Lake Alice and has an amazing sunset view.

But our choices are now either smack-dab middle of the day (1-3) or at night (7-9). Obviously, not the end of the world, but I had a whole week to get used to having an actual wedding date and now I'm back to g-ddamn square one.

Friday, August 15, 2008

And it's done . . .

. . . almost. But the gray nasty is gone!

My knights in . . . sweaty workclothes:

On the left is my fiance, and to his left is our friend who had the know-how to do this project. We (see how I'm part of this!) couldn't have done it without him.

We're lucky - we do have great friends. Projects like this usually bring the best (or the worst) out in people. Some friends surprise you, offering so much of themselves - and others disappoint. But that's enough said about that.

We still have buy floorboards and transition pieces, but the guys are estatic - no more glue!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The floor - so close!

It's actually further along than this - I just haven't taken a photo of it yet. We may finish tonight!

Of course, "finish" is a relative term. Because once all the flooring's down, we still have to buy baseboards, "quarter-round" whatever that is, and transition pieces to put between the wood and the tile and the carpet. But the scary elastomeric stuff will be covered, safely within the doomsday deadline of 14 days.

Humidity affects cure to a greater degree than temperature;
the higher the humidity, the faster the cure. Keep off
membrane until material cures; usually 12 to 16 hours. To
help protect the cured membrane form scuffing, tears,
scratches, dust, dirt, or other jobsite contamination, install
hardwood flooring as soon as possible. If the membrane is
exposed for more than 14 days, do not install hardwood
flooring until you contact Bostik’s Flooring Technical Service

(Italics mine.)

Yesterday morning I looked out the bathroom window and could see, from quite a distance, a spider moving around in its web on a tree in our back yard.

We have some impressive spiders:

They're mostly what I've always called banana spiders - I think the bug folks call them Golden Orb spiders - and dang, are they big. Big enough to see across the yard.

This particular morning, I could see the spider working with something in its web. I thought (or more likely, actually said out loud, because I talk to myself), "Ooh, it caught something!"

Careful observation revealed that it was actually a leaf. It had most likely fallen out of the tree, and now the spider was neatly clipping it out of the web, as easily as we might trim a hedge. I wondered at it; the dexterity, the accuracy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Here's one for you, Grampa

I certainly didn't need it.

I was standing in line at the coffee shop (you know the one, I'm just ashamed to say I shop there - it's right on the way to work!) when I saw it. In the brightly lit display case of attractive, fatty treats - muffins the size of your head, cookies iced to resemble baseballs, etc. - there was a tray marked "Old-Fashioned Chocolate Doughnuts."

I had packed a yogurt to eat with my coffee; I didn't need any extra food, much less a 480-calorie doughnut (this particular conglomerate is quite proficient in providing nutritional information).


When I was much younger, my mother, brother and I spent summers in Maine, living with my mother's parents (poor Daddy had to stay home and work). My grandparents lived in Richmond, which is a teeny little town forty minutes north of Portland. Basically, the middle of nowhere, with a population of 1,864.

Every Saturday, we would drive to Boothbay so that my grandmother could get her hair done - the old-fashioned "shampoo and set" that little old ladies used to wear. She'd been going to the same woman for twenty, thirty years and nothing was going to change that.

Luckily, Boothbay Harbour is a lovely little seaside town with charm to spare. "Quaint" was invented for Boothbay Harbour. My mother would go off window shopping with my little brother, a toddler at the time, and Grandpa would take me to the coffee shop.

I don't think it exists anymore - it's been replaced by chain shops and places that call themselves general stores and boast of "Teas from Africa, Drink espresso from Italy and enjoy locally roasted drip coffee." (Yes, "teas" and "drink" are unnecessarily capitalized - who knows why?)

It was a proper coffee shop, with a counter as the only seating and each stool housing a old guy, much like my grandfather. Coffee was poured from pots to white mugs that were no longer white, so long had they been in service. Men sat around and groused, if I recall, mainly about the weather and jobs.

And they had doughnuts.

My grandfather was soon to be diagnosed with diabetes, but I don't think we were aware of that at the time. And boy, did he love his sweets - he even named one of his dogs after a favorite treat, Suzy Q's. My grandmother was constantly scolding him for sneaking dessert before dinner. And heaven forbid she try to sneak something healthy into his desserts - there's a meltdown involving grapes that is still mentioned at family gatherings.

My grandfather's favorite, and thus mine, was the glazed chocolate cake-style doughnut. For those of you who aren't connoisseurs of breakfast pastries, there are two styles of doughnut - the cakey kind and the airy, yeast-assisted risen kind (think Krispy Kreme). And any doughnut lover worth his salt falls into one camp or the other. I am a cake doughnut girl.

The men would dunk their doughnuts in their coffee and discuss local politics, and I would make do with a glass of milk, silent, the only child in the place usually, only half-listening. Mostly I was proud to be hanging out with the grownups.

This was a weekly ritual for my grandfather and I, one that I've cherished dearly. I'm sure I've bored many a friend by rhapsodizing over a chocolate cake doughnut.

I've tried to cut unnecessary fatty foods out of my diet, saving my caloric sinning for the good stuff (good chocolate, premium ice creams, etc.), and I'm pretty sure doughnuts wouldn't make the cut in anyone's idea of a healthy lifestyle.

I lost my grandfather last fall; he was 84 and had a good life. But he was my last grandparent living, and I loved him so dearly. In that pastry case, at the bland, homogenized, corporate coffee shop, I saw my childhood and a sweet memory.

So I bought it. And yeah, I ate the whole thing - all 480 calories. I dunked it in my coffee, because now, I'm the grownup.

Monday, August 4, 2008

We're all over the elastomeric-ness

Ah, fresh from a weekend of toiling on the house. Actually, it was mostly Kyle toiling on the house. He and our friend who's helping us decided that mere days after moving in would be a good time to start laying the wood floor down in the den and hallway.

Saturday, Kyle and I go to our local big box home improvement store and purchase the glue, some trowels listed by manufacturer of said glue and a tapping block. A very friendly employee saw the glue and cheefully mentioned that the manufacturer wouldn't honor the glue's warranty if we didn't first lay a "moisture vapor barrier" down over the concrete. So back we go, off to buy what turned out to be hell in a can.

Bostik's hideously expensive "MVP4® Moisture Vapor Protection is a one-part, trowel applied, elastomeric, moisture cure urethane membrane designed to 1) reduce moisture vapor transmission from the subfloor; 2) create a noise reduction barrier over the substrate; 3) establish an anti-fracture membrane that can bridge cracks that can occur in the substrate prior to or after installation (up to 1/8"); prior to the installation of engineered and solid hardwood flooring..."

Elastomeric officially means that the product is an elastomer, a polymer with the property of elasticity. What it has come to mean for Kyle and I is "slimy, gray, sticky goo that, once touching any surface, will never come off - not even with the mineral spirits suggested by the manufacturer."

Kyle spent much of the weekend kneeling on concrete, spreading this mess with a trowel. Seriously, for hours at a time. It wasn't fun, and it wasn't comfortable - and that's just me watching him. The goo ruined a pair of new work gloves and Kyle's favorite flip-flops.*

It takes 16 hours for the stuff to cure. Since we spread it all over the hallway - the only access to the bathrooms and bedroom - we had to spend last night in a hotel. Kyle had to show up at work this morning covered in the stuff. Did I mention it's gray and doesn't come off?

The boys next get to cut the wood to size and glue it down, with another Bostik product that has "elastometric properties." Oh goody.

What am I doing this whole time? Trying to stay out of the way while still keeping nearby in case of a need of assistance. Doing "stuff" in the kitchen (but not putting on drawer pulls!) and laundry.

I had meant to take photos of poor Kyle toiling away, but I left the camera in the bedroom, and by the time I thought of it - too late: the hallway was all elastomized.

(*You know you're a Floridian when you have a favorite pair of flip-flops.)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Just made it out alive

The move has been made.

Last night, around 3 a.m., Kyle and I finished cleaning the hell out of the rental house and came home - to OUR home.

Of course, in our imaginations, it was going to be a magical moment. Maybe some champagne (or beer). Maybe some romance. Our first night in our new home!

In reality, it was more like this: barely speaking, driving separate cars packed to the gills (with . . . what is all this shit?), one livid with rage and the other miserable and just trying to make it out alive, both sweaty, filthy and exhausted; eventually we make it, take what feels like a camp shower (where the hell did we pack the towels?) and drop into bed.

On the plus side, the kitchen looks fabulous!

In what is possibly the worst timing ever, we're laying the wood floor in the living room and the house's only hallway - tomorrow. Our friend who's helping us (he's done this before) needs to do it this weekend, so you don't turn gift horses away. Something like that.

In the meantime, I insist that you enjoy this "conversation" between Paris Hilton and some musician named Benji that she's dating, courtesy of my favorite fashion blog, Go Fug Yourself.