Friday, January 14, 2011

The Productive Kicks (and other dangers of homeownership)

Coming to you live and direct from Starbucks on Hwy 280 & Hwy 119... because?  Because my modem, the one we paid for when we first got AT&T DSL service, decided, "Eh, bunk this.  I'm done."  And now we have nothing but a little green flashing light that is barely flashing green.  Naturally, because this is how it always works, its out of warranty, so we have to pay a cost to have it replaced.  Not only is it $40, which I guess for a modem isn't bad, but we also have to pay $14.95 shipping for 3-5 days ground service.  This, my fellow readers, is what is known in common circles as "a racket". 

This is not the actual offending modem, but one like it, so
you get the idea.
If you've ever seen this kind of modem, its about the size of an index card, about as thick as two stacked iPhones, and weighs less than a roll of quarters.  I actually told the lady, "Seriously, $14.95?  Can you not just shove it into a padded envelope and mail it for like, $6 or something?"  Of course she said she could do no such thing, and so, no modem until next Wednesday... hopefully, its next Wednesday because... next Wednesday?  That's right...




For what its worth, I've already asked The Lovely Steph Leann if she is in for Idol, and she says she is.  So I guess I am to.  I think we've already discussed this in a previous post, so we'll get to Idol next week.

So, our toilet is jacked up too.  Upstairs in our master bathroom.  The darn thing has been leaking water down the pipes for two months, and in typical d$-N-The Lovely Steph Leann fashion, we finally got around to doing something about it... well, sort of.  I bought a $10 part at Wal-Mart and figured I would just replace the whole mechanism in the tank.  Easy enough, right?  On the box, it says in bright, bold letters, "EASY TO INSTALL!" and when you flip the box over, it goes even further by saying "INSTALLS IN MINUTES!!"

Not many words are more false than "EASY TO INSTALL" and "INSTALLS IN MINUTES" aside from something like "OBAMA CARES FOR YOU", but hey, I am a homeowner.  This is what homeowners do, right?  They fix their own small problems.  So I bought the part... and that was Phase I.  The part sat in our master bathroom for about, I dunno, two months, collecting dust in the unopened box until I got the gumption for Phase II. 

Phase II always comes in when I get my "productive kicks".  This constitutes an afternoon, or an evening, sometimes even a whole day, when my whole mindset is focused on getting things done that should have been done long, long ago.  Sometimes, I'll pull apart and put back together, reorganized, entire rooms of the house... I'll sort through CDs and books and shed myself of unused or unwanted items... I'll clean the entire kitchen, getting all dishes from around the house into the dishwasher, and if said kick lasts long enough, I'll get them out and put them away, all so The Lovely Steph Leann can come home to a dirty-dish-free environment. 

I have to be careful, though... sometimes I'll get knee deep into a project and then fall out of my productive binge just as easily as I got into it.  And thats dangerous, because if I've got a mess around me, with intentions of reorganizing, sorting or disposing, and suddenly I lose all ambition, then I've got to put everything back, and it all goes back haphazardly and usually with no sort of sense.

Last week, I got into a Productive Kick. 

Okay, I know this started with the toilet, and now I'm going to talk about baseboards, but I promise you, we'll tie this into toilets, so bare with me, okay?

When we moved into The Cabana, we had plans for the upstairs.  The whole house had been painted with a drab, generic taupe color (The Lovely Steph Leann will read this and correct me, I'm sure, but it was a basic greyish, brownish, whitish, blahish color) and we wanted to paint each room of the house at some point.  Before we even moved in, our brother in law Randy painted our bedroom, which still looks great almost three years later. 

The middle bedroom was to be a guest room, but we were going to keep some books in there, our CDs, a desk, and a futon we purchased for guests to sleep on.  Eventually, when Campbell Isaiah and/or Lorelei Addison make their appearance, that room will become a nursery.  And The Lovely Steph Leann had plans for that back bedroom... it was to become her Creative Memories crop room

SIDEBAR... The Lovely Steph Leann is an extremely talented photograph rescue specialist, as well as a memory sustainer operationalist.  That's fancy words for saying she is a Creative Memories consultant, which means she deals in scrapbooking--wait, wait, don't go away... scrapbooking is far and beyond pasting pictures into a book with little pieces of construction paper... it, like the rest of the free world, has gone digital.  So not only can she help you salvage all those pictures and precious memories you have lying in a box in a drawer by converting them to digital, she has also started a service where she takes your pictures, thusly taking the work off of your hands, and will make books for you.  Imagine a yearbook, full color, except every picture has one of your memories, your family members, your friends, your kids, et al in it (instead Brandy, the head cheerleader and not so coincindentally the yearbook editor which explains why she is on 14 different pages out of a 50 page book)... anyway, her site is here, but you can also find me and ask for her info for a price quote and such.  She's awesome.

So, the back room was/is going to be her crop room.  She went to IKEA with her cousin, spent way too much money there--its like, when you walk up to the doors, they ask you how much you expect to spend, and when you tell them, they add 35% and tell you that is the new number you will spend... and they are right.

She came back from IKEA with a bunch of home items, including a desk that will be assembled for her crop room.  Now, in the corner of that room is a large "bonus room"... when we moved in, it was nothing but rafters, studs and insulation, but we paid them an extra $50 to pipe a vent in that area, and Big Daddy Ron came over and we (and by we, I mean he) put up sheetrock, put a door and door frame to block off the heating unit, added a ceiling and covered up the rafters and had it painted. 

After the room was finished, we had it carpeted and then I painted baseboards, to which we (and by we, I mean he) installed them in the bonus room. 

Its important to note, however, that from the time we had the room finished to the time that the baseboards were installed should have taken about a month.  Maybe two.  Four if we are really lazy.  It actually took about two years.  Cause we just never got around to doing it.  The baseboards actually sat in our living room floor, stretching into the kitchen, for about a month or so, because I just never got around to getting them into the garage and painting them... trust me, The Lovely Steph Leann was on me just about every day for it, as well she should have been.

Alright, so we got them painted, got them installed, and they needed to be touched up.  When the touch up occurs, then we can put that desk together, and then that room, which is still filled with boxes and stuff--no other way to describe it than "stuff"--will be on the road to being completed.

Now, back to the toilet... well, not quite, but we're getting there.  After about two months, I finally decided it was time to not only get the toilet fixed, but also get those baseboards touched up.  With The Lovely Steph Leann downstairs watching HGTV (for some reason, she's been obsessed with HGTV... really, most of the shows on that channel could be called "Renovations You'll Never Do On Houses You'll Never Afford... So Come and See the New Deck, Loser") I went to the laundry room, pulled down the two cans of paint that were previously used to do the baseboards--each can looks exactly alike, so its the same paint, right?--and then disappeared into the back bedroom, and on into the bonus room.  I had purchased a paint brush and some painters tape a few months back, and now that I think about it, probably at the same time I purchased the toilet unit, and so I went to work.

I laid old sheets carefully down on the carpet, the new carpet which still smelled like just that, and still had that springy step of not being used much, and then used the wide blue painters tape to tape off the wall and the carpet.  About four or five inches out on the carpet, about three inches up the wall, all the way around, the ten feet of one wall, the foot or so on each side of the door, then another twelve or thirteen feet on the long wall, then the side wall for another five feet, then back around the closet door again. 

I shook the can briskly, hearing the slosh of paint inside, and was so happy.  This was going to be quick and painless, I'd knock this out in about twenty minutes, and since my Productive Kicks usually last a few hours, who knows what I could get done, right?  Right!

(play cool working music) With a screw driver, I pulled the cap off, then used a plastic piece of a broken clothes hanger to stir the can up.  And then, I dipped the small brush in and began to paint the boards.  Left, right, left, right, dip.  Left, left, right right, dip.  Left, right, left, rig (cue screeching sound of record needle being ripped off of an LP).  I stared at the baseboard.  The baseboard all the way around the wall was a creamy, dark white color.  The color that I had now splashed on about 14 inches of this baseboard was a lighter white.  And very noticable.  I looked at the can, and inside the can, then looked at the other can.  Just alike.  I opened up the other can, and saw that the other color was darker.  Creamier.  Kind of a... well, a creamy, dark white color. 

Now, one could assume that this 2nd color is the right one, that I should immediately begin to use this other color to cover up the white that I've descrated the baseboard with... but, as with many things in the past, I figured it was time to ask the boss.  This ruined my plan of being able to come downstairs and say, "Hey, dear, guess what, the baseboards are all done!  Let's put that desk together!"  Instead, I came downstairs and softly said, "Hey... uh... what color are the baseboards upstairs, in the back closet room?"  She looked up and thought for a minute, "Um... I think its... Signature Creamy, I believe."  Then she eyed me.  "Are you... doing the baseboards?"  I nodded, and she smiled, "Thanks!" and then went back to the HGTV show she was involved in.  So much for surprise.

Back upstairs, I looked at both cans.  One said "Signature Creamy", in tiny letters on a small sticker that I didn't see.  One said something else.  And, because I've used 3,000 words telling this story, you can guess which color was on the baseboards and which color should have been.  So, I used the new color, and really, got the boards done in about twenty minutes.  Mostly, it was just covering up the nails and screws that had been used to put the baseboards in place, and it was done.

Okay, to the toilets... Well, we don't want to let a Productive Kick go to waste, so I immediately head to our bathroom.  I grab the box, which had somehow made it way into our closet and was leaning up against our laundry basket, and take it into the bathroom.  I pull down some unused, old towels and spread them out on the floor around the toilet bowl, and then flush the water out of the toilet, turning the water off before it could fill up again.  I take the top off of the tank and set it carefully aside, and then use old towels to sponge up the remaining few inches of water in the tank.  Need it dry for my toilet transplant, which really should take, what, twenty minutes again?  Maybe thirty?  Thats one hour of a Productive Kick, and who knows what else I could get done?  Scour the garage?  Scrub down our porch?  Build a deck?  Yeah!  I'm rolling!

I open the box and pull the piece out.  And those words "EASY TO INSTALL" and "INSTALLS IN MINUTES!" are atop the instructions, and as I scan the diagram, it doesn't seem that hard, right?  Right.  I pull out the comparable piece in the tank, and am all set to put in the new piece... this is going to be great!  I mean, painted baseboards, get the toilet to work, The Lovely Steph Leann is going to fall into the arms of her wonderful handy man and all will be right with the world, right?  Right!


Yeah, there's a piece that won't come out of the bottom of the tank.  After banging it a few times, trying my best to unscrew it with several forms of plier apparatuses, pushing and pulling with my own bare fingers, I gave up.  My Productive Kick was fading, and really, I just wanted to go get some tacos. 

Well, a week later, our toilet still doesn't work.  We got Big Daddy Ron involved, and he had a hard time with it too.  As he tried to remove the piece I couldn't get out, he asked me if I had a crescent wrench.  I laughed and said, "Uh... no."

"Man, you gotta get some tools," he replied.
"Dude, if I can't fix it with a regular pair of pliers, a screw driver or duct tape, then I can't fix it and a set of a dozen crescent wrenches isn't going to help me in the least..."  I replied back.

We (and by we, I mean he) concluded it was a faulty seal, one that is in the other piece that I didn't try to replace nor bought a part for, and he got it from Home Depot later.  With the seal replaced, the water still leaked.  And it leaks now. 

Luckily, we have a bathroom down the hall which The Lovely Steph Leann and I are using.  Its not as comfortable, but it will do. 

I guess this falls under "The Problems of the Blessed", cause we have two more working bathrooms, the money to call a plumber (we just want to avoid it if at all possible), baseboards that are done in a room that will be a large closet that will be full of stuff we really should get rid of, and The Lovely Steph Leann still loves me no matter what color I paint wrong, nor how I mess up while repairing the toilet. 

Its just inconvenient, ya know?  Such is life.  I'll just sit back and wait for another Productive Kick and maybe I'll just build a new house.

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