Friday, March 19, 2010

The Great Kitchen Debacle 2010

Several months ago I noticed something amiss in my kitchen. The floor right in front of my sink had a little rise in it as it came up to the cabinet. I checked under the sink supposing there may be a leak….there wasn't. I being very busy and not all that savvy about things like this thought it was just the house shifting, my house was built in 1951 and on Texas soil, which moves around a lot. So I went about my busy life and ignored the floor in the kitchen until the corner in front of the cabinets became squishy and obviously full of water….damn, now what? I called the company that holds my home warranty out and the guy thinks that it is the aerator on my bathroom sink which just so happened to be shooting water down the back of the faucet, where I couldn't see it (brilliant design) he decided that was the leak that was going under my bathroom wall and kitchen cabinets ultimately causing the problem…I myself thought that was a long shot but went along with it anyway.

A couple of days later I talked my dear wonderful friend Jeff into coming over and taking a look at my floor that was by now badly damaged. He pulled up the linoleum to reveal 3 layers of linoleum and the actual wood floor underneath were all wet. He also pulled up the back board inside the cabinet to reveal that in fact the water was coming from across the wall from the bathroom and perhaps over quite a long time the water could have been coming from the sink faucet.

Here is what it looked like after the first time Jeff came over. I lived with it looking like this for 6 weeks.

 It stayed like this for about a month. I put a fan on it to start drying it out so that the floor could get repaired and checked it every time I came and went to work. All was well for 2 days and then I came home and found that the floor that had been getting dry was in fact soaking wet again. I called the plumbers out again and the guy Joey is his name and he works for Recue Rooter Fort Worth, came turned on all the faucets in my bathroom at the same time and stood looking at the wall and inside the cabinet and decided that the water was coming from one of the things he had running in the bathroom and that the entire kitchen wall would have to be torn up to find out where the problem was coming from. Oh and they don't pay for access so not only was I going to have to pay to have my kitchen torn up so they could fix one little leak in the wall I was also going to have to replace my irreplaceable 1950's excellent condition cabinets and tile counter top. I asked if he would be able to better tell exactly where it was coming from if he took a look under the house. In the same "you're an idiot girl" tone he had been using for the entire conversation he told me that it didn't work that way and you can't see, I would have to tear up my kitchen.

After panicking for about 15 minutes I screwed my head on straight and decided to get a second opinion. I called Ernie's plumbing and Terry came out. Terry did something strange, he actually turned on the faucets in the bathroom one at a time and decided pretty quickly, after getting on his knees and actually looking that the water was coming from the faucet in the tub….now we were getting somewhere! He decided that it was the valve behind the hot water knob, since hot water was coming out in the kitchen. He gave me an estimate and then went to work fixing it. As soon as he took the faucet apart he realized that it wasn't the knob that was leaking. Then he did another strange thing. He put on some coveralls and actually crawled under my house, had me turn the water on and determined that the leak was coming from my tub spout. Terry then told me that he would have to knock out some of the tile in my bathroom to get to the tub spout to fix it but then he did another strange thing, when I suggested cutting a hole in the wall inside my kitchen cabinets where no one would see it he instantly told me how smart I was and what a good idea! Now he would have better access to the problem and wouldn't have to tear up my bathroom in the process. Terry fixed the leaking faucet, and after 586$ was on his way. He was an awesome nice guy and did a great job! Thanks Terry from Ernie's Plumbing!

So back went the fan to dry out the mess. After a month of drying out, the floor was ready to be replaced. So, I called Jeff and we talked about the plan. We decided that Spring Break was the time to do it. I was off of school for 3 days and we could tear up the floor and get it back down. I was optimistic Jeff however, has done things like this before and knows the kind of problems you run into along the way especially in 60 year old houses. We made the first of what was to be many trips to the Lowes to get the supplies we would need for the floor. I had to order the vinyl squares that I wanted online because apparently black and white checker board is not in style in Texas. When we went to Lowes we talked to some guy that I have now decided to call jerk face, and he said that we should use what he called floor leveler but what ultimately turned out to be concrete patch(more on this later in the story).

This is what it looked like after Jeff came over to "get some measurements"  I lived with it like this for 10 days.

Day One:

Monday the 15th of March we started on the journey. Jeff went to work tearing up the old wood floor that was damaged and I went about carrying it all outside. There was cutting, sawing and carrying of the wood outside. Then we had to go to Lowes again to get new tar paper to put between the subfloor and the new wood that the floor would go on eventually.

Once the tar paper was down the ¾ inch plywood went on top of it. Here is where it gets interesting. The so called Leveler was supposed to now go on the existing concrete floor in the utility room and was supposed to go over the wood in the kitchen to fill in the little imperfections in the plywood so that we couldn't see them in the finished floor. So we went about trying to do that and to make a long story a little shorter that is not what happened. The first batch was way too thick even though Jeff mixed it according to the label instructions and after we poured it down in the utility room and had a big mess on our hands we were a little more careful about mixing it for the Kitchen. We got that down and Jeff went home for the night, thinking that his stuff was going to be dry by the next morning and we were going to sand it a little and then be able to put the floor down. We were pretty excited and thinking that we might even be done the next day.

Day Two:

When Jeff arrived the next morning, the stuff wasn't dry….at all. So after discovering that the blow dryer made it dry faster we decided we needed a giant floor heater. We went to Lowes, got a few more things we discovered we needed and then went to Home Depot at the advice of the Lowes guy to rent a floor heater. Home Depot didn't have any floor heaters and sent us to Sunbelt rental to get one. We were in Luck they had one. We rented it and headed back to the House with our huge kerosene torpedo in tow. We got it going and got the kitchen up to about 100 degrees in 10 minutes and the floor dry in about 45 minutes.

Now here is where it gets interesting. While I was out on an errand for Jeff, he called me when I was half way home and says we need masks, I was a little scared but turned back to the CVS and got them anyway. When I got back to the house there was a huge dust cloud in the Kitchen that prevented me from seeing the other side. This was by far my favorite part of the project and where the original Lowes guy earned his name of Jerk face. Now everything in my house was covered with a layer of grey dust.
The dust layer in the kitchen...lucky me this is everywhere in the house...although this is by far the worst room.

On top of this we decided that the utility room floor could not be saved and Jeff came up with the idea of putting a wood floor on top of the concrete and then laying the new floor on that. So back to the Lowes we went to get more wood and now more molding and quarter round to finish off the utility room. Lucky for me my other friend Jeff showed up to visit with me and help a little with the floor.

The two Jeffs working together on the utility room floor.

At the end of day two we had both of the floors covered with wood, sanded and the seams filled in.

Day three:

We coated the floor with some kind of latex goo that was supposed to help the vinyl stick better, whatever I guess it did. Once that was dry we started putting the floor tiles down. That was fun in and of itself and seemed to be pretty satisfying after all of the toiling we did on the last two days. By the end of that day we realized that we were not going to be finished and that I would have to take a day off of work to get it done. So I called and got my shift covered and went to bed knowing that we were on the home stretch.

Picture of the moulding /floor goes here.

The molding without the caulk.

Day four:

Jeff slept in, and brought Lisa and Ava with him at about 3 pm.

Cute Baby Ava!!!!!
I had to make yet another trip to Lowes to get some more molding and stuff to finish out the utility room. Jeff worked hard the rest of the day to get the room finished out. Finally at about midnight he was applying the last of the caulk to the molding and it was time to load up the truck and trailer with the many tools he had brought over to do the job. I cannot extend enough thanks to Jeff for sticking through this job until the end. Never once did he get grouchy and kept a wonderful positive attitude through the whole thing. He is my hero! Thanks also to Lisa for doing without him for four days.

Jeff had to custom make some stuff to fit on the thresholds for both utility room doors as they are weird and not standard at all.  He did a great job!
It is still not clean and I am out of time.  I will post some pictures of it when it is cleaned up!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Web Logging

So I am off from school for spring break and thought I would do a web logging! Lucky you. School is going great this semester! I have A's in all of my classes so far and can forsee another 4.0 semester in my future. I love my Biology class and my Biology teacher Dr. Vise…she loves Biology as much as I do and makes it fun to learn, I will for sure take her for Bio II for Majors in the fall. My Comp class sis going great and I have finished 2 papers so far one of them is posted here for you to read and the other is just an annotated Bibliography, kind of a glorified works cited page. Pretty boring to write so I am sure it would be pretty boring to read. My philosophy class is pretty boring which just compounds my idea that I am a biologist and not a philosopher. My American Lit. class is really fun and my professor is great! I am learning a lot about one of my favorite subjects and that is history…I am getting excited about taking my history classes in the summer. I have submitted my application for the radiologic technology program and am nervously waiting to hear whether I got in. The cut off last year was 5.13…this is a weird point system they have where they take your GPA and add bonus points on top of it. As far as I can figure I have a little over 5 points but I am not sure if I am doing it right. I don't know what my competition will be this year so I am trying not to stress on it too much. I will have to just wait and see. I will hear at the end of March whether or not I made it. They choose the top 50 applicants, 30 get in and then the other 20 are alternates, so if someone decides they don't want to go or fail their drug test or background check they put alternates in. I hope I make it in and not on the alternates list. If I don't make it I will just keep plugging along at my AA degree and the core classes for my bachelors degree, get my GPA up through the fall and try again next year. I guess that is it for now, I hope you are all doing well and I will keep you posted on my progress.

Friday, March 5, 2010

House Cleaning Blues.

I can clearly remember the days when my house used to be spotless all the time save for a few dog hairs here and there, and the hairy cat trees that got vacuumed once a month. It wasn't the kind of spotless that some people have, you know those folks that live in a house where you feel like you are in a museum and you can't sit on certain pieces of furniture, mine was the kind of place where you felt comfortable and might even put your feet on the coffee table and wouldn't be afraid to sit on the floor. Those were the days when I thought an un-vacuumed floor meant the house was REALLY dirty.

Then came school, my first semester I stressed about the state of cleanliness constantly and spent every spare moment scrubbing something. I felt so tired and stressed that semester...then I got comfortable in my dirty house. The hairballs in the corners became my friends and "I'll get to that later" became my mantra. When you have a schedule like mine something has to give and in my place the housework was it.

Now on my days off I go to school and or study all day so house work has definitely gone to the way side and the definition of a dirty house has been bent a little to say the least. These days to be considered filthy it must have vomit and or crap on it, those items get cleaned right away but the others can wait. The last time I managed to really clean my house was last Winter break and during that time I had a house guest so the cleaning wasn't nearly as intense as it has been this Winter and the dirt around here can definitely attest to that.

The last week of school as I was studying for my finals I remember taking short breaks and looking around at the mess that is my house and daydreaming about cleaning it. I even had dreams about vacuuming out corners and dusting the tables. My constant companion during my studying on the sofa was the filthy ceiling fan above me in the living room. That fan didn't seem so bad until it got cold enough to have to turn it off and only then did the real filth reveal itself. You see, when you have cats and humans for that matter with long hair the hair gets stuck on the leading edge of the fan as it turns and cools you off. Well you can imagine what one year worth of dirt looks like on the leading edge of a ceiling fan.

My last day of school was two weeks ago, I spent my first day off lazing on the sofa drifting in and out of sleep and watching movies I had saved on my DVR. Day two was more of the same, a trip to the dog park, a nap, some good snacks. Day three I felt rested and so in between TV, Face book and Farm Town I spent a little time picking up things and putting them where they belonged...putting my books away from the last semester, storing away notes and cleaning out my backpack. it felt great to transfer some of my things into an actual purse and not have to carry around the 100pound pack all the time.

Wednesday I actually went out and was social for a couple of hours and had fun having a couple of beers and some good laughs. Thursday morning is when it happened... I was sitting at the computer playing with the facebook and contemplating cleaning the bathroom, when it began, the systematic cleaning of the office. Everything off the desk, all the hairballs vacuumed from under the furniture, shelves dusted, uneeded clutter thrown away, ceiling fan cleaned and before i knew it I had a clean office. Not only does it smell better but it is so nice to relax in a clean space! I didn't want to go any where else in the house because it seemed that much worse. That day I had to go to work at 6pm and so I was finished for the week but now I have some momentum going.

This week I watched movies all day on Monday...I forgot what that was is hard to relax when you feel like you have something to do all the time. It has taken me awhile to get used to the fact that I can lay on the couch for an entire day, not miss anything and not feel guilty. Tuesday I managed to get my bedroom cleaned up. The amount of dust in there was pretty amazing as well. I pulled my bed out from the wall and found many treasures including lip balms and a bunch of hair scrunchies...I wondered where those went...I had been blaming their disappearance on Stan but it seems he only ate about half of those I had originally assumed. I also remembered how much I hair was everywhere in my room. I got everything cleaned and dusted and I think I slept better in there last night than I have in a while. It is amazing how much better I feel when my house is clean.  Like the air somehow circulates better.

Wednesday and now I am scrubbing the bathroom...I am ashamed at how dirty this room has become! it is the kind of mess my grandmother would see and say "Oh Cassandra!" I have decide that the bathroom would be much easier to clean if I had all of the hair lasered off of my body. My behemoth of a tub is really hard to scrub and I have to turn myself upside down to get to all the corners. It is soaking in a film of comet right now.

I know i am gross.

Will try harder this year to keep up chores.

Thank goodness for hard wood floors.

dog beds, more hair.

I must find a way to make sure I can do some chores while I am in school.

You may be wondering what the hell is going on there at the end well, funny thing, I found this unfinished blog while I was going through and organizing and decided to publish it just like it is.  The first part is done and quite fabulously fantastic so I left it but the end is still in the beginning phases.  I thought I would leave it alone so you could see how this happens, how I put these together.  Most are not done this way, those ones about just regular stuff that don't need all that much creativity or thinking just get typed out, checked for errors and then published.  The rest however, the good stuff, the ones that make you laugh or cry are done in this fashion.  It starts with random thoughts blurted out on the computer screen, kind of like a list.  Then I go through the list and put it in a more orderly fashion, then I write a paragraph about each list item, and then revise,  leave and go do something else, come back revise, revise, revise, sleep for a night, come back revise and then publish it when I am satisfied.  Apparently I slept and then forgot about this one, which is too bad because it looks like I was on a pretty good role...I make myself laugh anyway.  Hope you enjoy it!

Essay One for Comp Class

This is my first essay written for my Composition class.  We were asked to take any short story from our text book and wind our own personal narrative in with relevant quotes from the authors story, as well as provide a summary.  This seemed impossible when I started but once I got going it turned out to be pretty great.  I am proud of this piece of writing as it is very personal and took some guts to get it out and onto paper.  I am providing a link to the short story if you want to read it first. I highly recommend it, it is funny and wonderfully sarcastic.

I Can and Will, Do Anything I Want

            Margret Atwood’s “Happy Endings” gives us a satirical glimpse into the cliché Atwood thinks is the middle class life most of us muddle through on a daily basis.  She starts with two characters appropriately named John and Mary, I believe Atwood uses these generic names to get her point across that society today continues to be quite stereotypical, sexist and unfair.  She says “if you want a happy ending try A” (394).  A describes the cliché of modern middle class life, or what it appears to be on the surface.  “John and Mary fall in love” they get great jobs, buy a house, have kids that turn out great, they have a good sex life, great friends and vacations. Eventually they retire and get hobbies, and then they die, “This is the end of the story” (394).  Atwood is giving us her interpretation of romantic fiction, which also, Atwood believes, happens to be the dream of a good portion of the modern middle class.
For a long time I thought this was my dream as well.  Everyday I thought about having a husband and a house and possibly a kid or two.  I looked on with envy as all of my friends and siblings got married and started their lives.  What about me?  I thought, why can’t I find a great guy?  Why can’t I have that kind of relationship?  What is wrong with me?  Then when I really started looking through the cracks in the wonderful shell, I realized that these are not storybook romances, these are two real people struggling to keep it together. The more I look in the cracks in some of these relationships, the better a spinster’s life seems to me.
            Several years ago I met a guy that I thought was perfect.  We spent two and half happy years together and I thought one day we would get married.  While I was reading “Happy Endings” I realized how close our relationship mirrored B.  I met this guy and we fell in love.  I always felt like I loved him more but that didn’t matter, I had found Mr. Right.  He wasn’t perfect but he seemed to be a great guy and who is perfect really?  I did many things to try and make him love me.  I cooked great meals; didn’t at all mind doing his laundry and put up with his football addiction. Occasionally we went out to dinner I made him look good in public and in return he made me feel good about myself.  Sometimes I would bring up marriage but he would always change the subject or tell me that his business wasn’t as great as he wanted it to be; all the same he kept me hoping. 
As was with Mary, I too thought, he’ll come to depend on me and we will get married (394). I spent countless hours trying to make myself available for this man. I tried really hard to make him comfortable at my place. He even moved in for awhile but then after a year or so of this he told me he didn’t want to marry and didn’t want kids.  We split up and had an on again off again, mostly sexual, relationship for another two years. 
Eventually I found out that he had been seeing someone else throughout our entire relationship.  My friends said he was “a rat, a pig, a dog, he isn’t good enough for her,” trying to make me feel better about myself, which is after all, what friends are supposed to do.  I felt like such a doormat.  Why didn’t I see what was going on?  I kept thinking that I could change him.  Atwood says it perfectly “Inside John, she thinks, is another John…This other John will emerge like a butterfly from a cocoon, a Jack from a box, a pit from a prune, if the first John is only squeezed enough” (394). How did I get to this place?  I had always considered myself an independent, smart girl.  I can only imagine that I got here with my incessant drive to live the middle class American dream.  I was willing to put up with more and more crap to get what I wanted.  I had lost sight of myself completely.  Some of my friends had noticed early on that I was doing things I had never done before.  Like eating poorly and spending more time alone, but I blew them off, I was happy dammit!  How dare they try and ruin my happiness!  They had their happy little lives, they had their husband and house and baby on the way.  I finally had a great guy that thought I was pretty. I just knew he would come around and marry me someday, how foolish I was, how disillusioned I had become, and all for this dream of a life that really is just a cliché. 
Atwood has Mary kill herself in the end and that is where my story differs from hers.  I didn’t kill myself far from it, I threw that jerk out of my house followed by his stuff and told him to leave, never come back and don’t even think about calling me.  Of course he has called however, all calls save one that I used to make him feel like a small piece of nothing, have been ignored. 
Atwood then moves on to C.  This is the married man and younger women scenario.  I have never done this but have met people who have and it always seemed like a bad idea to me.  The end of C rings truest for me, “Madge after a suitable period of mourning, marries an understanding man called Fred and everything continues as in A”(395) I am unsure as to how many women I have met that have a marriage, are unhappy, get divorced and then are dating and have an engagement ring on their finger six months later and divorce papers in their hand two years later.  I wonder why they don’t figure out that they might be making bad choices.  Why don’t they figure out that they don’t need a man to feel good about themselves?  Of course that wasn’t so easy for me either.
D, E and F all explain different scenarios and F even gives us an intriguing relationship between “John a revolutionary and Mary a counterespionage agent” (396) in fact, no matter what you try and insert into the story the endings are all the same, you still end up with A. Atwood mentions that “though in between you may get a lustful brawling saga of passionate involvement” she also explains that “the endings are all the same however you slice it”. She warns that we shouldn’t “be deluded by any other endings, they’re all fake, either deliberately fake, with malicious intent … or just motivated by excessive optimism if not downright sentimentality.” (396).  I learned after the break up with the long term man that my happiness is based solely on what I think it is, not on some contrived notion of the masses.  Like Atwood mentions, “True connoisseurs … are known to favor the stretch in between, since it’s the hardest to do anything with” (396).  I think she is telling us what I learned after my bad relationship that, we need to savor our time on this earth or the “stretch in between” if you will (396).  I take time daily to look at the positive things in my life.  I have a house, a car, matching silverware, my dog pack.  I am grateful for the little things that make me happy, the smell outside after it rains, the way my dogs feet smell when they are clean, a romp at the dog park, the way my cats fur feels on my bare feet, the softness of flannel sheets, a good cup of coffee or a great book before bed.  We shouldn’t be so worried about what others think or see as the perfect life.  Your perfect life is the one you live for yourself not someone else.  We shouldn’t just revel in the beginnings since “they are always more fun” or in fact go back to them when times get rough or things aren’t going our way (396).  I think Atwood is correct in saying that the true connoisseurs of life are the ones that relish the time we have in the middle when we are young and can do anything.

Making my Butt Smaller

On January 15th I started keeping track of everything I eat on a website one of my friends showed me. It is called Livestrong and they have a feature on it called The Daily Plate. On this thing you input your age, height, activity level and how much weight you want to lose per week. It then calculates how many calories you need to achieve this goal. So I started it and have lost 12 pounds! I have been struggling with my weight my whole life and have never found anything so easy to stick to. The magic of it is you can eat whatever you want as long as you stay in your calorie goal. The other night I ate Girl Scout cookies, ice cream and Doritos for dinner. The program doesn't judge it doesn't say "are you supposed to be eating that?" or "that isn't diet food" I am pretty optimistic at this point that I will be able to stick to this program. Another great thing about it is it also keeps track of your fat, fiber and protein consumption among other things. I realized pretty quickly when I started logging that I was eating too much fat (a remnant from the low carb diets I have been trying to stick to for years) and not nearly enough fiber. I have adjusted and seemed to have made some great changes that have helped me not only lose weight but also be healthier. Of course now there are groupies that want to be healthy as well. I have started looking better and so people at work are asking me what I am doing so I explain the site and they are trying it too. It is pretty awesome I have to say. I decided to include some food pictures in this blog for you guys. I love to take pictures of my food and haven't really had an occasion to share them but now seems like a good time. I will also include a link to the website in case any of you want to check it out. Until later bon appétit!
The Site,

In-N-Out Double Double Animal Style 690 calories (and worth every one!)

New England Clam Chowder at Horatios in San Leandro Marina Ca. 557 calories.

Sourdough Bread Horatio's 110 calories

I am not even going to guess how many this had...but it was divine!  And so rich. Crab Stuffed Mahi at Horatio's.

Jason's Deli California Club 826 calories

M&M's 240 calories

Shrimp Tacos I made, 660 calories for all three. 

Gummy Bears 130 calories

Lucky for me coffee has almost no calories.

Strawberries covered in Splenda, 45 calories

He He He.

Orange 62 calories.