DIY Drama: Crabby Dogs, Achey Husbands and Nowhere to Rest my Weary Bones
There’s nowhere to sit around here, so I’m in bed working at my laptop. I’m hoping nothing bursts into flames while I’m working since we we did get some kind of exploding battery warning from Toshiba last week which we didn’t pay much attention to. Just call me Brave Heart. Or Stupid.
We are still in the midst of renovations and have moved most of the furniture out into the shop and slid our precious family pieces, all two of them, into the tiny bedroom where we have to sidle around them to get to the closet or into or out of bed. No one has slammed into anything in the dark, yet. I’m sure there will be some late night cussing and jumping around on one foot before we’re done. I once broke a toe that way (living in another small house) when I jumped out of bed one morning to answer the phone. This was before caller ID and cell phones. I didn’t even swear at the telemarketer on the other end, just kind of groaned “no thank you” and hung up and hobbled to a chair and sat looking at my little toe that was sticking out at a right angle to my foot, which was almost as interesting as it was painful. But I was nice to the telemarketer so that tells you what kind of stand up person I am.
Our living room furniture has been reduced to a couch, a small ottoman, an end table and the TV. At the moment, the old man and the dog are on the couch, the only soft seat in the house. The dog is comfy, sprawled out over two cushions, but I can hear the ottoman’s feet scraping the ground every few minutes as the old man squirms around trying to get comfortable on one cushion without, God forbid, disturbing the dog, who tends to snarl and get crabby if you so much as touch his tail hairs while he is resting. It’s a difficult place to be, next to the cranky old dog, with a tail that looks like a shaggy muppet and takes up valuable real estate on the small couch. Our otherwise sweet puppy takes on the personality of a cobra if you brush up against him while he’s sleeping. The old man is pretty cranky that way too.
We are living like this because we got some drywall bids last week. Our plan was to have all our new addition walls and ceilings hung and finished, and at the same time, have the ugly existing “brocade” textured ceilings skim coated and re-textured in a light orange peel finish. What we really wanted was a nice classy smooth wall finish everywhere. That was before we were told it was way out of our price range and that we didn’t live in the kind of neighborhood that has classy houses with spendy smooth wall finishes. As if we didn’t know that. We did know that the existing ceiling had “issues”, because it looked a lot like the roof of a circus tent when you sat in certain places under certain lights. It kind of had a swag effect to it… not unlike gently rolling hills. Which is a nice way to say it sagged between the joists because who ever dry walled it last time was too cheap to put up 5/8 inch drywall and used 1/2 inch instead–on 24 inch centers. If you know what that means, then you are a DIY-er and you’re probably rolling your eyes right now because you can picture in your mind how ugly it was, all swaggy and brocaded like an overdone Victorian window treatment, which is so 1980’s. And you know how much we have been just itching to tear it down and fix it. But we tried to live with it because we never really wanted the mess and expense involved–until the one dry-wall expert eyed it and said “tear it down”. At which point we looked at each other with despair because we knew he was right. And we knew it was gonna cost more and we knew we were not gonna tear it down ourselves with our old backs and necks and tendonitis and bulging discs and all, and it was kinda one of those “Oh shit” moments. KA CHING KA CHING.
So the astute drywall guy hooked us up with a nice young man who showed up that same night to bid out the job and said he would be back in two days to rip out that old ceiling and install all new R-49 insulation too. We kinda felt sorry for the kid, because we knew what was up there–nasty blown in insulation full of the detritus from some previous roof tear out that rained dirt, moss, cedar shingles, nails and all kinds of shit up there, who knows how many years ago. We know this because the old man has been crawling around in that nastiness for years now re-wiring shoddy work and installing new light boxes and switches and properly wired junction boxes and just generally trying to keep the house from burning down around our ears. And when we pulled the walls out between the old house and the addition some of that debris fell in a white flurry at my feet along with the skeletized remains of a mouse and several teaspoons or so of mouse droppings. It was gross. And yes, I screamed like a girl.
So we scurried around for two days moving everything possible out of the house and removing light fixtures and smoke detectors and anything at all that would impede the nice young man from performing his gruesome task. We pushed the remaining furniture into a corner and covered everything with tarps. We were ready when the big day came. We let the nice kids in and then drove away, almost giddy to have someone else doing the dirty work for a change. It was a sunny day. We took a drive. We had a lovely breakfast at a farm to table cafe. We walked the dog on the rails to trails. We realized that this is how most people live and that there is a lot to be said for just paying someone to do the crap work. Then we went home to check on things.
There was shit everywhere. The kid said he never saw so much blown in insulation in an attic before. We were wading through a foot of it everywhere we tried to walk. We slept in our camp trailer in the driveway that night, but only after the old man scrambled around in the rafters until ten o’clock that night making more wiring and HVAC repairs and upgrades. And of course he slammed his head into the nails that protrude through the roof everywhere and bled like a decapitated chicken all over the house. There is always so much blood when that guy works on this house. Which is pretty much all time. And I’m a regular Florence Nightingale when it comes to clean up, but man that boy really needs a tetanus shot booster.
Aside from that, the job was completed without any other injuries and we paid the kid and sent him home, where I assume he showered and slathered himself in antibacterials, popped a few penicillin and washed em down with shots of vodka. I know that’s what I would have done. Then I spent three hours cleaning and sanitizing things, including the inside of the fridge which had all kinds of crap in it. I even had to rinse off the cucumbers.
So we now have a cleaner attic space above most of the house and vastly improved insulation. We have at least two weeks to wait before the drywall guy can fit us into his schedule, which means a month from now I’ll still be trying to track him down, but that’s okay. We could use the break. I think I may need to pull my little old lady recliner out of the shop and put it back in the living room until then, so I won’t have to wrestle with a crabby dog and an achey husband for a soft place to sit. We will be happy-happy when the walls and ceilings are all new and fresh with their orange peel finish and a coat of satin paint in “Fallen Snow” on them. I’m thinking we might even be able to move the family heirlooms out of the tiny bedroom by June. Until then, I won’t be jumping out of bed and running to answer any phones. We have cell phones and caller ID now, which is so convenient and should insure that all ten of my toes will remain parallel to their respective feet, at least for the foreseeable future.