Friday, July 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Walls

The parents have finally made it back to Rochester, despite being stuck overnight in JFK in what sounds like an epic Delta screw-up. Here in Utah, progress continues to be made on the house as Jason brings the Big Machine into the bedroom and proceeds to sand the floor that the stripper has finally succeeded in scraping up the old linoleum, with the help of a lot of elbow grease and a wire brush. [Aside: construction terminology sounds funny. This is a photo of me in Home Depot one night when it was 9pm and we were still loading lumber and I was carrying a blind and searching for a Furring Strip, which I accidentally called a Furry Strip and outed myself as incompetent to Phil, one of many Home Depot employees who now recognize me on sight]. After the past 90 years of crud was sanded off the floor, exposing beautifully tight boards that are so long they span the whole length of the room, I said: "oh! That's why we scraped off all that crap." and then Jason laid down about a dozen test patches of stain so I could choose. This was a bad move. The more choices I had available to me, the harder the choice. At one point, I proposed patch-working my bedroom floor in different colored stains a la Buddhist monk sand sculpture. Jason said, "have fun with that and let me know how it goes" or something like that which was probably nicer, like, "uhhhhh... I could help you with that..." or else, "hmmm. ". This is a picture of us sitting on the floor at midnight, yucky and dirty and undecided on stain.

While the floors were setting up an
d decisions were percolating, we continued the assault on the laundry room, working over the last few patches of mudding that needed to be applied to the walls to smear over any rough spots.

Now, for those of you who don't know anything about walls, I've had an education this last week. So, first, there are the wooden thi
ngs that make the framework and hold the wall up. Then comes the insulation stuffed in all the gaps. Then the sheetrock goes over all that to cover it up and gets screwed in. Then you use this drywall stuff that comes in a giant (very heavy, surprise surprise) bucket to smear over all the screw holes and netting-like tape that goes between the pieces of sheetrock. This is what eventually gets painted over so your wall looks like one smooth surface.

My favorite moment in this educational process was when Johnny's two youngest kids came over to drop off the Dickens and see the house, and Ilona took one look at the laundry room and asked, "so what color are you painting it, white or green?" I laughed because that is exactly what I would have asked, if I hadn't seen the whole thing happening. To her, it looked like a little room with funny smears of white goo all over the green walls. I told her tha
t was still all the stuff under the skin, and the final thing was going to be yellow! or maybe blue. Or both.

You know what else is messy? Wet-sanding the drywall once it sets up. You take this fine sponge that is somewhere between foam and sandpaper, and you smear it all over the surface of the wall to even out any imperfections. It takes a long time, is susceptible to mistakes that put dents in your wall, and tends to drip plaster into your armpit, which, if you forget to wash it out, gets you funny looks when you go grocery shopping covered in plaster. [I don't have any photos of this event, but it happened].

Interspersed in being covered in plaster: many trips into the bedroom to contemplate the floor stain. My conclusion -- WHY did I paint that wall red? I don't even like that red wall. Decision made: I will stain the floor dark Rosewood and repaint my one wall light green instead of brick red. Hey. I never said that just because I made a decision on the paint color, it would stick. Again, I am heavily wooed by nomenclature. The yellow that is on the majority of the
walls in the bedroom is called Corn Silk, and the green that will replace Misguided Red Wall is called Corn Husk. Conclusion: I have corny walls.

Outside, Mom and I attacked the front yard on the last day. She did some epic weeding -- including a long stint in the Utah sun with tiny clippers, on her hands and knees, clipping by hand each over grown weed cropping out of my front yard! [no photos -- too tragic -- "this is why I encouraged you to get the lawnmower BEFORE your parents got here," Jason s
aid]. I took the shovel to the front beds and struck the good dirt jackpot -- clearly, someone who lived here before has nourished those garden beds. This was the most exciting thing of the day -- real, rich, good, dark DIRT! Dirt without a million tiny rocks packed into it that need to be broken up with a pick axe and sifted out. Dirt without killer tree roots and that hardpack layer of red sand. Real, fertile dirt. Awesome. I was so excited, Mom and I went out and bought some plants -- Russian Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, tall grasses, ice plant, groundcover, echanasea and yarrow -- and I will plant them as soon as the sun gets low enough in the sky to give me a little relief from the heat.

Tomorrow, Nicole comes over for brunch! D
ickens is excited to see her, too. She has been away too long.


  1. How are you going to make the floor all one color after doing the test patches?

  2. When you prep a floor, you go over it with several grades of sandpaper. We did test patches after the first two -- the finer sanding totally wiped up the test patches as if they never happened! It's amazing.