The October Rules: Midwest and Northeast US Edition

I’ve made it simple for you to enjoy October PROPERLY.

It’s been a while since I’ve issued some Rules. It was quite a habit when I first started this blog – The Middle Aged Woman Rules, The Thanksgiving Rules and even the Rules of Attraction. I have a very strong attachment to October, and I’ve noticed (ok, and even committed) some violations of rules I should have made known by now. So:

  1. Pumpkins, gourds, hay bales and cornstalks must be purchased at a FARM, with fields and tractors and at least one barn. Exceptions permitting grocery store purchases are only for those who have aged out of driving three hours each way to reach the constantly receding farmland that keeps getting swallowed up by sprawl, which is now getting drowned in climate change torrential rains that won’t quit, but they’ll quit long enough for Fall Excursion (upcoming this week) so back to the rule: Pumpkins, FARM.
  2. Lights are for Christmas. Halloween is about welcoming the DARK. Get rid of those cutesy strings of lit-up dancing skeletons or jack-o-lanterns, or those orange Christmas lights some marketer figured out how to sell you, which brings me to rule
  3. Concerning marketing, do not patronize any store that already has Christmas stuff packnig the aisles . If a store can’t muster a few turkeys and cornucopias before going all in on St. Nick, nuts to ’em. Christmas stuff goes up the DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING.
  4. Jack-o-lanterns are made out of REAL PUMPKINS that were purchased at a FARM (see rule 1). You cut out a cap for the top and scoop and scopo and carve. Bonus points for separating the seeds from the glop and roasting them.
  5. If you are an adult, and you have occasion to wear a costume (e.g., you actually got invited to a Halloween party hosted by other adults) your costume will be either scary or funny. NOT SEXY. Why does everything for adults turn into porn? Which leads me to ask, why are there no “sexy” Halloween costumes marketed to men, hmmmmmm?? Find me one. Can’t do it, canya? If you go to a costume store online and click “sexy,” does anything for men come up – oh wait I didn’t mean it that way — dammit, porn!
  6. You are permitted to eat leftover candy only after the last doorbell has tolled, but only if you were decent enough to buy the good stuff, meaning your Halloween bowl is filled with Reese’s cups, Snickers (I’m on the “fun sized acceptable” team, because that way you can eat more of them on the excuse that they’re small), Baby Ruth’s for those with eclectic tastes, and Hershey minis in all varieties. Don’t try to compete with the pro athlete or CEO down the block who passes out full-sized. They’re just showing off. But, whatever hasn’t been consumed in a guilt-ridden binge before midnight October 31 must be discarded. Vade retro.
  7. Leaves should be peeped at, then raked, not blown (I throw the flag on myself – lawn guy – but after he’s done for the season, these rules apply) or run over with a mower with mulching blades and left to nourish your yard for next year. Demonstrate virtue by using an electric mower, or better, an old-fashioned human-powered mower, which won’t mulch but will win the neighborhood nobility competition (environmental responsibility!)
  8. At least one peck of apples must be picked at an orchard. One or more HOMEMADE PIES (crust too, from scratch, no cheating) must result. If you have to buy a taffy apple, or one of those dolled-up apples coated in two inches of chocolate, at least do it at the ORCHARD’S store, not some cutesy in-town candy store. Eat the pie for dessert after the butternut squash soup you made from squash purchased at a FARM.
  9. Smore’s are to be made outdoors. Relive your scouting days.
  10. October air is “crisp,” not cold, even if you are freezing your fingers off. Suck it up. There may be a vortex or a Siberian jet stream coming your way in a few months.

There. Enjoy the harvest season, which lasts until THE DAY AFTER THANKSGIVING.

Packing for fall excursion, I remain,

Your pedantic, old-fashioned, fussbudgeting, October-loving

Ridiculouswoman

No Tanks

There’s a limit. I’ve reached it.

I draw the line at toilet tanks. Nobody’s going to see behind it, anyway.  I am not going to pull a toilet tank off just to make a nice smooth wall behind it. I’ll just slap whatever I can get back there on it, and leave it at that. I think I got primer over all of the ripped part, and when I put joint compound back there, I don’t care how lumpy it turns out to be. That will be the next owner’s problem, along with my eccentric paint jobs. Ha!

But the wall above the vanity is a problem. I got a little too gleeful when I figured out that there was another layer of something or other under the wallpaper backing, and if I got down to that layer and found a finger hold, I could just rip the paper right up and off. What could have been a five hour job was reduced to two, and I got the rented wallpaper steamer-offer thingee back to the hardware store in plenty of time.

Except I ended up with this:

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And this:IMG_20191007_123201235.jpg

The guy at the rental desk didn’t know what to do about the drywall, even though he showed me a picture of the garage that he had been drywalling all around. So he googled it: OK, primer, joint compound. Go see paint guy.

Paint guy found the primer and the joint compound, and also a new scraper/schmeering thing to schmeer on the joint compound, and explained how to “feather” it and use a big sponge to smooth it out.

So now, apparently, I will add “drywall repair” to my repertoire of do-it-myselfing stuff. We’ll see how that goes.

I confess, however, that just looking at the front hall defeats me. I surrender. Two layers of old, fabric wallpaper on a plaster wall. So I called a highly recommended paint guy  for an estimate for getting those two layers of ancient wallpaper off the front hall walls and prepping the walls for painting, which will be the finale of all this.

Except for the deck.

What was to have been my adventure in power-washing turned into a misadventure when I couldn’t get the hose into the trigger-sprayer thingee.  But wait! Troubleshooting guide online! O-ring has slipped. Slide it back down!

Yeah, right. How? I know! I can slip a tiny screwdriver under it to pry it out enough and roll it down!

Oops. O-ring snaps off and flies away.

But online troubleshooting guide says, “if that doesn’t work, use a sharp knife to remove O-ring.” Yay me! Already removed it! Aren’t I clever?

The troubleshooting guide didn’t say anything about the washer leaking, without the O-ring that guide said to take a sharp knife to.

Kindly brother comes over to help, with his borrowed machine. Attempts fix with O-ring kit I purchased for him at local big box hardware store.

Hose explodes off trigger-sprayer thingee and scatters O-rings across the yard. No windows were broken or eyes put out during this experiment in attempting-to-avoid-ordering-parts-from-manufacturer. But no deckwashing got done, either.

Curses.

Consoled myself by blowing several hundred dollars on new sinks and faucets for the yet-to-be-drywall-repaired bathroom, and making an appointment for a new countertop to be selected and measured. One thing leads to another as the money credit drains away.  Kindly brother installs new bathroom lighting, which looks great and works.

Electrician called to handle other, trickier installations. The only thing to do about this

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hideous affront of a light fixture is to disconnect it, remove it and get kindly brother to cover it up with a piece of matching wood. There is fluorescent light in there that has gone on once in twenty years. I shudder to think what will fall out of there when I unscrew those pegs and look inside. Yikes. I wanted to install cute, small track lights, but there has never been light in that built-in, knotty pine bookcase and I can live without it. Electrician’s option was to snip the wires from the switch, stuff the others up into the hole and cover it up. Good option. Brotherly handyman services are cost of materials only. Yay. Saved credit.

Painter’s estimate for the front hall was reasonable. Electrician’s cost is hair-raising but necessary. Have just enough credit to cover them. Let’s pray that job comes through.

I’ve bored you all with my nearly year-long saga of how-not-to paint, assemble, repair, etc. I’m hoping for a big closing number. I didn’t take any “before” pictures of a lot of it, but I will take some of the “afters” so you can share the hilarious results of attempts to paint a straight line or patch plaster.

Until then, I remain,

Your about to get schooled in schmeering and “feathering” drywall joint compound,

Ridiculouswoman

Haircut and Heartache

Say what you need to while you can.

I hadn’t had a haircut since April.  An entire summer of really bad hair days (can you say “humidity?”) and an upcoming job interview (Tuesday) put me back in the hair chair.

I showed my hairstylist a picture of Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

“That’s a lot like what we usually do.” she said.

What a difference waiting six month makes. Those scissors were inspired. And the blow-dry styling was exceptional.  So of course I bought the expensive new hair product she used,  even though I shouldn’t have spent the money and I’m sure I won’t be able to achieve the same effect.

The haircut pulled me out of a slump. Not just my little writer’s “everything I do sucks” tantrum the other day,  but a real slump caused by the shocking news that a friend I had known since kindergarten had died. He was fine Friday, and gone on Sunday, leaving a grieving husband and hundreds of stunned, saddened friends.

That hit me like a ton of bricks. Not only because I don’t want to believe that my peers and I have reached that stage in life where we look to the obituaries before we read the headlines, but because this particular friend was the kind you could take right back up with even if you hadn’t seen each other in decades. He was vital, loyal, funny, energetic and always responsive, although he was 2,000 miles away.

I messaged him when I reluctantly got back on Facebook in August, just to give him a heads’ up that my new friend request was legit. His response was:

♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️

I took his being there on the other end of Facebook for granted.  But now he’s not.

The last time I saw him in person was at our 40th high school reunion. (God, just typing  “40th reunion” makes me feel ancient). Of all the attendees, he was the last I would have thought would check out early.

We met on the first day of kindergarten. Best I recall, he was wearing dress shorts and Buster Browns. He was always well-dressed. Unwrinkled.  There was something different about him and it didn’t matter at all to the guileless, totally accepting 5-year olds that we were. Through the years we sang in school choruses together.  He had a wonderful bass voice. He performed in talent shows I directed and brought the house down with a brave, fey twist on the song “Convoy” – in high school, in the ’70s. He won everyone over and everyone loved him.  At the reunion I told him that his performance was the bravest thing I’d ever seen a friend do. I’m sure he brushed that off,  saying it was just for fun, but I hope he took in my true admiration.

The evening of the day I found out he was gone,  I had to go to chorus rehearsal, still feeling blue, stunned and pissed off (“how could this have happened? He was healthy, strong, vibrant!”) I turned west, and suddenly my windshield was filled with a breathtaking sunset.  Pink, peach, purple, and just enough cloud in front to make it possible to enjoy without being blinded by the setting sun.  It was a glorious reminder of my friend’s personality and his effect on everyone he knew.  It was a reminder to me of how far I have to grow (still, at my age) to even approach being the kind of person he was.

I found out later that he had been very ill last year, and medication for that illness had weakened his heart. He went to take a nap last weekend and didn’t wake up.  I hadn’t known he’d been ill, which, if I was any kind of good friend,  I should have. I feel rotten about that.  Another smack upside the head about how superficial my friendship can be. I don’t like that about myself and I’ve been trying to change that since my husband died. But here, I failed.

The pink in the sunset was the same color as the scarf my friend wore around his neck for his “Convoy” parody.  The rest of the colors were as vibrant as he was. Heaven got brighter when he arrived.

I think he would have liked the haircut, and my joke about how it made me look like a short, fat, senior Fleabag, and how people would think I’m an (old) pervy Englishwoman, and I didn’t know whether I should be worried or turned on. He would pick “turned on.”

At church the sermon today was about being present, in the now, and and letting go of anxiety, anger and frustration. It was about not letting routine and business interfere with living each day. This is the only this day you get.

Missing an old friend, right now, I remain,

Your composing-lists-of-people-who-should-receive-notes-of-gratitude-and-phone-calls-and-emails-and-texts-before-now-becomes-then,

Ridiculouswoman

Motion Sickness

Querying makes me queasy.

It’s October, and I’m back on the query train, and I’m queasy as hell. Someone get me a dramamine. Sent two off today and I feel like crawling under the covers and moaning ’til dark,  succumbing to the writer’s interior monologue that goes, “who the hell am I kidding? What was I thinking, to write that book, much less send out queries about it? Why do I think anyone would want to read my crap? ARRGGH! Oh this is horrendous! I should be so embarrassed! These New York agents are going to laugh my queries out of their inboxes faster than you can say “memoir,” while they’re venting to their colleagues, “DAMMIT ANOTHER F***ING MEMOIR!”

Why can’t I write YA fiction like everyone else on the planet? You know, stuff that appeals to a market that actually seems to exist? Why can’t I write fiction at all? How does anyone do it, come up with characters and plots and settings and stories that break your heart? Why are all my heartbreaking stories true?

I had a great phone interview yesterday for a job I want. I have to write something and send it in before I show up to an in-person interview next Tuesday. Which means I have less than a week to go full overthink on a 300-500 word piece that should be as easy as falling off a log and then have a full-blown wardrobe crisis. Already scheduled a haircut. Can’t afford new clothes or the haircut but what else can I do?

I have four CNF pieces pending with lit mags, one of which is for an October issue and Submittable still says, “In Progress.” But October itself is “in progress.” WTF? Or am I just such a rookie that I don’t know how this is supposed to work?

I feel another round of displacement-activity-wallpaper-stripping-and-painting coming on. After the downstairs bathroom, the big finale is going to be the front hall, which has two layers of wallpaper:  some kind of heavy striped 1970’s looking fabric, over an adorable 1940s-1950s red-kerchiefy-Betty-Crocker-cookbook-cover looking kind of pattern, as far as I can tell, from the snippet of it that shows in a spot where the stripes have eroded. I’ll have to try and remove or go around an old doorbell chime thing that’s almost a foot square and the paddle on the steamer thing I rented last time is way too big to go above doors and into corners so what do I do about that? Shouldn’t there be some kind of attachment for that? Why am I asking you? I should be asking the guys-who-know-how-to-do-things-who-should-be-enjoying-retirement-now-but-have-to-keep-working-at-the-big-box-hardware-store-for-the-health-insurance. These nice guys give good advice. They all appear to have suffered back or hip or limb injuries in their past professions. One of them even showed me what’s left of one of his fingers.  Note to self: don’t use power sawing equipment. Good thing I don’t need a power saw to steam off wallpaper. Not that I might not want to use one by the time I’m halfway through the job.

I am now in possession of my brother’s power washer and if it ever stops raining I have to use it to clean my deck, which I have never done before. Apparently the force of the thing is capable of “puncturing” skin, and probably breaking toes, so I’ll wear my reinforced toe boots from my warehouse days. Then if I succeed in cleaning the deck I’ll have to go back to the big box store and get the guy-who-knows-about-paint-and-stuff to limp over with his bad back and show me what kind of stuff I have to spread all over the deck once I clean it and which variety of said stuff is the least toxic variety, and how to apply it and whether I have to wear a gas mask or something while I do it. Oh, God! This do-it-your-self-ing will be the death of me if waiting for an answer on my writing doesn’t kill me first.

The kitchen floor needs washing and the second load of laundry is dry and Angelic Daughter needs me to make a vat of her late father’s “magic” chicken soup which does have a way of miraculously curing what ails you, if he helps me from beyond with the proportions of things, because he was an on-the-fly chef who didn’t write down his recipes, which makes me an on-the-fly-cook who prays, when I’m not cowering under the covers with writer’s meltdown.

There’s only one way to handle this.

Nap.

A good two hours of oblivion will at least be a good two hours less of anxiety.  The floor and the laundry can wait, and I’ll still have time to make the soup.

Off to the land of Nod, I remain,

Your overthinking, obsessive, oddball

Ridiculouswoman

Scents Memory

Fragrance, femininity, faith and fairy godmothers….

The other day,  I unconsciously picked up a bottle of perfume and did my “spray, stay, walk away” routine (learned from Carson Kressley, original Queer Eye episode).  I hadn’t used that perfume for a long time. It was the same kind as the last bottle of scent Mike bought me for Christmas.

He’d buy perfume, often with matching bath stuff and lotion, at Christmas.  I’m not sure I ever made it clear to Mike that I got the message in his choices – “Joy,” or “Mon Tresor.”  That last Christmas, he didn’t have the energy to find something on his own, so he just asked me what I wanted: “Modern Muse, please. Estee Lauder counter, I think.”  I found that scent in one of those samples that fall out of catalogs, that you peel open and sniff. I loved the scent, and I especially loved its name. I hope Mike took it as a message that I still wanted him to have a muse, that I still loved his poetic soul, and that I hoped he’d write poetry again, before he died.

His last journal was lyrical prose, about having cancer, and about rediscovering our love for one another, when cancer made everything else irrelevant. He also wrote about his embrace of suffering through his unconventional faith and his trust in the path he was on.

The perfume I used the other day is the same kind but not the same bottle. I used that up in the first year of widowhood, when I oscillated from screaming, sobbing grief one day to timid hope about a new kind of life the next.

I worked in warehouses during and after Mike’s illness. I’ve been wearing jeans almost daily ever since. Jeans express my physical strength and my determination to take on projects that involve some combination of power tools, dirt, ladders, chainsaws, paint and work boots.  The perfume is for when I wear empire waisted, v-necked, pajama-soft, print knit dresses that, I admit, show too much cleavage.  I own three of them and wear them any day it is warm enough, when I’m done getting sweaty with my workout or my redecorating or dirty with my gardening and yard work. As fall and winter progress, the dresses yield to deep-v-necked, soft wool sweaters.

The dresses and the sweaters say I’m not ready to let go of  womanliness. I’m not ready to become a crone. I’m not ready to dry up and grey out. I need to feel gorgeous and touchable. More than touchable.  I’m unwilling to accept that I’ll never be regarded that way again.

My Dad told me about a weird house in his home town. Legend was that it had been owned by an old lady who kept adding on to it, believing that as long as she did, she would never die. He may have said that kids in town believed the house was haunted. It made a good ghost story; the house was near a school.

Between the euphoria of being nearly done with redecorating and the panic that I’m still unemployed and running out of money, I wonder if I’m turning into that lady – the crazy old lady with the never-ending projects, trying to ward off aging and death.

Angelic Daughter’s Halloween costume arrived yesterday, and she looks adorable in it.  I can’t tell you what it is because she wants to keep it a surprise. But she keeps asking me what I want to be for Halloween. It’s never been worth dressing up to answer the door here. We get very few trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood, unless Halloween falls on a sunny Saturday. I usually just throw on a drugstore witch hat and light the jack-o-lanterns. It’s typically all over before 7:30.

Looking online for this year’s costume, among the princesses and movie characters, we saw a Fairy Godmother costume. I hadn’t seen one before.  I thought, “I could use a Fairy Godmother.  Bibbiddy-bobbidy-boo, a book deal, a job and a handsome prince for you!”

Maybe my semi-insane determination to finish decorating this house, even it bankrupts me, is about belief in magic, as a metaphor for faith. As a reason to hope.

Wednesday was a perfect bright-blue fall day. Feeling down about job prospects and writing, I impulsively took Angelic Daughter on a surprise outing to a local pumpkin farm that, until last year, I hadn’t known existed, even though it is less than 10 miles away.

Sitting in the haywagon waiting for the ride to start, I checked my phone, and found an email saying “impressed…would like to schedule you for a phone interview.”  For a writing job. With health insurance.

Do you believe in magic?

Waiting to hear back about an interview time, I remain,

Your faithful, fragrant,

Ridiculouswoman

Image by czarownica from Pixabay

How Not to Strip Wallpaper: Part Two

Neither plaster walls nor lost screws nor bad instructions shall stay this do-it-herself-er from her intended plan

Collect new wall-mounted cabinet from immaculate Big Box home store, where you have applied for a job and they haven’t called. Surprise.

Measure, drill, screw anchors, screws. This is the drywall part of the wall. Drills easily. Hang mirror. Wait, little triangular mirror-hanger thingees on back of mirror don’t quite reach? BUT I MEASURED, DAMMIT! Try starting the other side first. Hang over protruding screw. See if you can bend little triangular hanger thingee a smidge. Success! Off to a good start.

Unbox new cabinet on bedroom floor. Follow instructions.  Attach sides to shelf. Install rod. No, wait, rod won’t fit when sides already attached. Unscrew one side, install rod in holes provided, reattach side. Attach top to sides. Flip over.  Attach back flimsy cardboard backing grooved to look like beadboard to sides and top with tiny little nails.  Oops, beadboard-looking side is supposed to be on the inside. Remove. Ha! Hammer pries out tiny little nails easily. Turn over, reattach. Why are there so many tiny little nails left over? Oh, they assumed destruction of tiny little nails through amateur hammering. HA!  Didn’t bend a single one.

Attach doors by putting plastic posts into plastic “hinge anchors,

Attach wedge-shaped screw-bracket thingees to inside top of cabinet. Hmm, screwdriver doesn’t fit at angle that allows screwing in brackets. No pre-drilled holes?  Turn cabinet upside down to stand on its top. Leverage? Useless. Screwdriver still won’t fit.  WHAT IDIOT WROTE THESE INSTRUCTIONS? THE WEDGE-SHAPED BRACKET THINGEES SHOULD HAVE BEEN ATTACHED TO THE TOP BEFORE THE CABINET WAS ASSEMBLED BY SCREWING INTO PRE-DRILLED HOLES THAT AREN’T THERE! AUGHGHGHGHHGHG!!!

Disassemble cabinet. Mark and drill holes into inside top. Attach first wedge-shaped screw bracket thingee. DAMMIT WHERE’S THAT OTHER SCREW? Retrieve reasonable facsimile of supplied screw from impressive collection of screws leftover from previous projects, at bottom of drill case bag. Reassemble cabinet.

Follow instructions to drill “small hole” through wedge-shaped screw bracket thingee and flimsy backing. Carry cabinet to bathroom to mark where to drill holes for mounting. Select a spot directly above spackle mark from previously mounted towel rack. Should be a drillable spot, right? Up on stepstool, hold cabinet against wall while bending sideways over sink. Silently thank 8-lb dumbbell workouts.

Step down. Discover pencil tip too short to go through “small holes.”  No marks made. Dispel frustration by drilling larger hole through bracket and flimsy backing. Back on step ladder, hoist cabinet, mark.

Lower cabinet, retrieve drill. Commence drilling.

Plaster dust falls. Note to self: don’t breathe, just in case. Clean with wet tissue when finished. Wait, wha? Drill not progressing into wall. Press harder. Hot smell. Drill motor frying. Cease drilling. Note progress of about  1/32nd inch, accompanied by a pile of plaster dust. Step off ladder. WTF! how am I going to get this thing on the wall?

Plan B.

Retrieve hammer and reasonable facsimile of supplied screws from impressive collection.  HAMMER THAT SUCKER THROUGH TINY 32ND OF AN INCH DEPRESSION. Hear chunks of concrete lath fall down inside wall. Shrug. What happens inside the wall stays inside the wall.

Holy shit, that worked. Screw goes through wall, doesn’t crack plaster, and comes out easy. HA! UNSTOPPABLE! Hammer in screw anchors. Pick up cabinet again, careful not to drop supplied screws. Screw through holes and into screw anchors, pressing hard and sweating. There.

Step off ladder.

Note 45 degree angle slant of cabinet.

Laugh. Really, the only thing left to do here is laugh. It’s 10:30 p.m. and you’re sweating profusely and you’ve been at this all day. Sigh.

Unscrew cabinet from wall. Remind self not to lose supplied screws. Deploy too-short level (yes, you have a level, but this is the first time in more than forty years of hanging things on walls that you have used it) to draw a straight line from one screw anchor across to above other too-low screw anchor. Drill 1/32nd inch deep hole.  Repeat screw and hammer maneuver. BAM! Something more falls inside wall. Shrug. Spare screw anchor from impressive collection goes in easy and tight.

Pick up cabinet, check for supplied screws you reminded yourself not to lose. DAMMIT WHERE’S THAT OTHER SCREW? Retrieve reasonable facsimile. Step up on ladder. Relieved to discover supplied screw still halfway in wedge-shaped bracket thingee inside cabinet. Place level on top of cabinet. Holes match up! GENIUS! Screw in screws, pressing hard, sweating profusely. Step down, wipe up plaster dust with wet tissue. Step back. Straight. HA! WINNER AND STILL CHAMPEEN!

Measure, hammer, anchor, screw, hang picture. Done. It’s 11:30 p.m. You haven’t eaten since lunchtime. HA! Intermittent fasting! Lose three pounds overnight!

Consume demure snack of grapes and cheese. Regain three pounds.

Shower, off to bed.

Step on lost screw for wedge-shaped screw anchor.

HA! FOUND IT!

Enjoying our redecorated bathroom, I remain, your UNDEFEATED

Ridiculouswoman

How Not to Strip Wallpaper: Part One

A picture is worth 800 words, but I’ll do the words anyway.

Trepidation. Never used a wallpaper-steamer-offer machine. Trek to truly valuable hardware store to rent one. What emerges from the back is incomprehensible and unclean. Sorry. Head to Big Box Chain home store. Rent cleaner machine. Nice guy at paint department finds little tool to “score” wallpaper first. Warns against pushing too hard, resulting in little pinpricks all over wall. Ha, these walls are plaster, no worries.

Haul machine upstairs. You should have filled machine with hose outside on porch first, but that would make machine too heavy to haul. Review instructions. Main point: don’t burn yourself.  Got it.

Attempt to fill machine using round plastic container retained from grocery store soup purchase, to fill machine. Filled floor instead. Move machine from puddle. Wipe up.

Deploy long-nosed watering can to fill machine. After six or eight fills and pours, screw top back on. Tight enough? Do not over tighten? Plug in. Wait. Fill time by “scoring” walls with pinprick thingee.

Twenty minutes. Shouldn’t steam be coming out of the rod in the middle of the plastic rectangle paddle thingee you’re supposed to put against the wallpaper? Examine plastic hose. Identify severe kink. Attempt to unkink. Ow! Hot! DON’T BURN YOURSELF. Obtain small towel from hall closet to use as hot pad. Hose reluctant to unkink and uncurl. Drape portion of hose over door handle to maintain unkink-ness. Observe that to keep reluctant hose over door handle requires hose to wrap around step ladder. Addendum to “don’t burn yourself:” “don’t trip over hose and fall off step ladder.” Got it.

Steam now schvitzing vigorously. Steam one section while scraping another.  Instructions say ten seconds.  First try, not long enough to make paper scrape off easily.  Repeat.  Hold, steam, scrape. Discover optimum time to hold paddle against wall about three-quarters of the way around the room, after realizing that holding it too long causes vinyl patterned part of paper to scrape off easily, while leaving behind a brown mush of paper backing that smears, doesn’t scrape, all over three-quarters of the room.

Hey, suddenly easier? Drywall, covering an inset for a long-removed medicine cabinet. What are those little pinpricks? Oh. Oh, right. Don’t press too hard with pinprick-roller-scoring tool thingee. Got it. Next bathroom, all drywall. Remember to be gentle. Scrape, scrape, scrape.

Hey, stop biting my ankle, bug! Wait, not an insect – hot plastic hose between your feet that you are not to trip on is burning your ankle that you were to remember not to burn. Readjust hose. Steam, scrape. Steam, scrape. Made it all around.

Observe mess.  Scoop up paper and mush. Place in garbage bag you remembered to bring upstairs for that purpose. Clever you! Step back and observe. Hmm.

Decide that remaining bits of mush on the wall will lend the textured, antique ambiance of a Tuscan villa when painted over with ivory color.  Walls need to dry before paint. Lunch break.

Paint. Hard to reach corner. Ivory paint smear, white ceiling. Charm. Mushy paper bits come off when painted.  Leave some anyway. Texture.

Paint must dry. Use time to assemble clever over-toilet standing cabinet, purchased for the express purpose of not having to drill into plaster wall.

Damn, this thing is rickety, how is it ever going to stand on its own over toilet?  Consult instructions. Discover cabinet must be anchored to wall with supplied brackets. GRRRR.  Set assembled cabinet with brackets attached over toilet. Realize that wainscotting and baseboard make it impossible to get cabinet flush to the wall to anchor. Cabinet is also so low to toilet that if repair inside tank is necessary, unit that can’t be screwed to the wall anyway would have to be UNSCREWED FROM THE WALL. WHAT IDIOT DESIGNED THIS THING? DO YOU MEAN TO TELL ME I JUST SPENT FOUR HOURS OF A GORGEOUS AFTERNOON ASSEMBLING THIS RICKETY PIECE OF SHIT AND NOW I WON’T HAVE TIME TO STEAM THE DOWNSTAIRS BATHROOM AND I’LL HAVE TO BUY A DIFFERENT CABINET TO DRILL INTO THE WALL ANYWAY AND PAY TO RENT THE MACHINE A SECOND TIME??? SHIIIIIIIIIT!

“Mom, are you ok?”

“I’m fine, sweetheart. Want to go shopping?”

Retrieve packaging, including box and mass quantities of styrofoam from recycling bins. Pile these and rickety piece of shit debris into Subaru. Proceed to bedroom-bathroom store. Pile all into cart from cart corral and march to returns desk, prepared for battle.

No battle necessary. Nice lady at bedroom bathroom store sees the problem. Refund.

Proceed to other Big Box Home store, to pick up replacement cabinet that will have to be drilled into wall. Note that store is immaculate, even in aisles with bales of hay. Resolve to apply for job here, ASAP.

Composing Part Two of bathroom cabinet saga and heading off to job apply, I remain,

Your getting-sick-of-do-it-yourself-jobs-but-pleased-enough-with-results-to-carry-on,

Ridiculouswoman