No Tanks

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

Motion Sickness

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

How Not to Strip Wallpaper: Part Two

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