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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

On Moving, Speckles, and Pushing around that Machine

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

On Moving, Speckles, and Pushing around that Machine

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For anyone who has missed my obsessive presence online for the past three months, be comforted that the DSL will be installed on Thursday. Of course, I'm leaving that night for Ocean City, but normalcy should return beginning next Monday.

Moving is never fun. In fact, unless I'm moving to another (warmer) state or moving out of the country, then I'm not interested in ever moving again.

But the house is starting to come together. Today, Bobby and I spent the first half of our day assembling the last of the new furniture for the living room, which--as is to be expected where furniture assembly is concerned--was a real bitch. So that is two whole rooms completed exactly as we would like them!

But it didn't start that way. Settlement Friday--right on the heels of the Jimmy Buffett Debacle--started smoothly enough. Bobby and I got up early to shove as much crap in the car as feasibly possible, including all of the remaining living creatures in our apartment. Alex was already over my parents' house, where we'd taken him for the Jimmy Buffett concert. Heh. But we had numerous houseplants and--funnest of all--a twenty-gallon fishtank. Well, we had two twenty-gallon fishtanks, but Maedhros the catfish sadly died a few days before we moved; Maglor the plecostomus had died an undetermined length of time earlier and was eaten by Maedhros. Gruesome, that. So we tossed Celegorm in the other tank, disassembled the first (which Bobby despised anyway), and put the whole works in the front seat of my car.

I successfully managed not to slosh a drop of water onto my upholstery until arriving at my parents' post-settlement to pick up Alex. As has been mentioned before, my parents are building a rather large addition on their house ... well, let's just say that our whole house could fit several times inside of their addition alone. So when I arrived, there was a cement truck in the driveway, and I had to park in the grass. At which point, a cupful of fishwater sloshed all over the seats, so my car smelled like rotten fishwater for about a week after.

Alex was ecstatic to see me. So I packed him into the car with the aquarium, the houseplants, and random other junk and took him to see his new home for the first time.

We had a schedule already planned out. Both sets of parents were coming to help Saturday through Tuesday; Wednesday was July 4th, so they were going to come over, do a little work, then we were going to have a cookout. Here was the schedule:

Friday: Pull up carpet in guest bedroom and study. Wax all hardwood floors. Clean basement carpet.

Saturday: Begin painting. (Living room, master bedroom, guest bedroom) Clean.

Sunday: Finish painting.

Monday: Moving Day 1! Move boxes and non-furniture items.

Tuesday: Moving Day 2! Meet movers to have furniture and heavy boxes moved.

That put us in a nice position to get everything put away and as we would like it during the end of the week and weekend.

Why do we even make schedules? This is like an announcement to Murphy: Hey! Come fuck with me!

Which he did. In profusion.

We did not anticipate the level of dirt--no, not dirt, filth--and minor disrepair in the house. It began on Friday. Bobby's dad drove up to help Bobby take out the carpet while I started polishing the floors. We figured taking out the carpet to be an easy task, and it should have been. But it was not. In the study, they had stapled the carpet to the floor with about three hundred heavy-duty staples that had to be wrenched out one by one. For the three of us to remove the staples and the tack strip took about three hours.

But the guest bedroom was worse. In here, they had glued the carpet directly to the hardwood floors beneath. This made removal easier, yes, but was a major part of the Ballad of the Hardwood Floors that followed.

So Friday, we got the carpet up, but the rooms were in no way ready to paint. I got the living room, dining area, master bedroom, and hallway waxed and polished.

Bobby had said back when this whole house-procurement process began that he was going to drink a whole bottle of rum on our first night there. I told him that, in interest of his health, I could not allow him to do that. Therefore, I must help him. We did indeed procure a bottle of Captain Morgan that night and did indeed drink almost the whole of it. Bobby got quite fucked up. I thought that my level of fucked-upedness was less; I didn't even feel buzzed, sitting in the backyard around the firepit that was one of the essential items we'd needed to bring that morning. But when I went back into the house to finish polishing the hardwood floors in the dining area and hallway, I discovered that I was more fucked up than I'd thought. Using the floor-waxing machine was a real treat while drunk. It would take off on its own, and I'd stumble after it and almost fall over. I polished the floors twice just to make sure that I didn't miss any spots, which surely I had, given my rather inebriated condition. This was only the second time in my life that I've been honestly drunk (buzzed many times--it only takes a glass of wine--but I avoid outright intoxication), and both times were on Captain Morgan. Hmmm ...

Saturday brought the family in droves. Everyone oohed and ahhed over my polished floors. Apparently I am good at "pushing around that machine," which was what Bobby's dad humorously called it when we went to Lonestar that first night and ate half of their food. Everyone then went into the guest bedroom and study and goggled.

You know, it hurts part of my soul to see good hardwood floors treated badly. I don't know why this is; maybe because I grew up in a home with hardwood floors and feared pain of death for leaving a wet bathing suit or towel on them. Or maybe because I generally abhor carpet, which seems more to me to exist as a trap for dust, dirt, and dog hair and so have always wanted hardwood floors in my own home. And the hardwood floors in this house weren't badly treated; they were mauled, molested, and near-death when we moved in here. It was heartbreaking because--'neath the abuse--they're beautiful floors.

The study was the worst. Besides all of the staple holes, someone had pissed all over the floor in numerous places, and the finish was off. There are big stains to this day, despite many days worth of work. My study has painted on the ceiling a cloudscape, which I've decided to leave--being somewhat whimsical and feeling that it suits the study of a fantasy author--and when they painted it, apparently, the floors were not yet carpeted, but they must have figured, "What the hell? Who needs something so passé as drop cloths? Not when we're going to put ugly bright green carpet on the floor anyway!" So they did not put down drop cloths, and the floors were covered in paint: big spots everywhere and (worst of the worst) millions of teeny-tiny speckles. I kid you not: millions. This was in both carpeted rooms but especially the study.

Between the two rooms, Mom and I spent about three whole days working together to clean and fix the floors. They're still not perfect. We took up the worst of the piss stains, removed several other suspect stains, filled in the holes and gouges with wood filler, scraped up the worst of the paint and Spackle, picked off the millions of speckles, and removed the glue from the floor in the guest bedroom. Two people; three days. All because someone couldn't take thirty damned seconds to put down a drop cloth.

My mother-in-law, meanwhile, started cleaning. The Dads and Bobby began taping and painting. Painting went well; Dad is an excellent painter, and the rooms we've finished look awesome. But the cleaning ... it was filthy. I am not kidding when I say that I don't think that the people who lived here before us ever actually cleaned. I mean more than wiping the surface. I do not claim to be a champion house cleaner; far from it! But when Mom was cleaning the closet in the guest bedroom, the dirt in the door tracks was so thick that ants had begun to nest in it. Every corner we turned, it seemed, brought more filth. I began to feel less bad for the many thousands of dollars in repairs we'd demanded from them (and got).

So we ended up way behind schedule, largely on account of the hardwood floors in the guestroom and study. Monday came, Moving Day 1. 40% of our promised help ended up not showing up, so it was Bobby, Terrell, and me moving boxes down three flights of stairs on a ninety-degree day. By this time, I could hear Murphy laughing maniacally as he tossed wrenches willy-nilly into our cogs. We took the U-Haul to my parents' house next to pick up the items that they were giving us or had been holding for us. Everything barely fit. It was hard to believe that we had once fit all of our possessions and furniture into a truck of this size, but then, that was three years ago and we were just out of school and very poor. When we got back to the house, we were all exhausted and did not feel like moving the furniture back out of the truck. It sat until about nine o'clock that night when everyone banded together and got the whole truck unloaded in about forty-five minutes and the boxes put into their proper rooms.

The next morning was another early day: drop off the U-Haul and wait for the movers at the apartment. This time around, we learned to hire movers for the big stuff, especially since we had to move our big-screen TV down three flights. The movers have insurance if they drop it; we do not. That peace of mind alone made it worthwhile. The movers we had were excellent and got everything done--loaded, moved, and unloaded--in less than four hours. RoomStore delivered our family room furniture this day, so the basement was all set up and ready to go but evening.

So by close of business on Tuesday, we had the floors finished, the house cleaned, and two rooms painted. The second room wasn't even one we'd intended to paint, but the walls of my study were so filthy--one could actually see the outline of where the child living there had slept--that we had to paint them. Yech.

We were a bit behind but not hopeless. Wednesday, we worked a bit, but we took the afternoon and evening for a cookout. Of course, it rained. It had been sunny all week; we had one day set aside for a cookout and steamed crabs, and it poured. People were dashing out between breaks in the rain to eat crabs, covering them when it started to pour again, and running back in.

But all was not in vain. We've made great progress on the house since moving in, despite our numerous setbacks. The painting we'd wanted to accomplish is finished in all but the guestroom. The floors are finished ... for now. They still need a lot of TLC, but at least I'm not walking across piss every time I need a book from the bookshelf. Most of the unpacking is done; all that is left is my study, which is only about a third unpacked. Yesterday, my parents brought over our new living room furniture; Mom and I put together the two endtables yesterday, and Bobby and I put together the coffee table and hall tree today. It looks awesome. (Yes, pictures will follow, probably next week.) We bought cabinets and an art table for my study, and that is all put together; Bobby and Dad hung the cabinets last week. Bobby has the family room--his sports palace, we call it, because it is his room to decorate like the study is mine--finished pending new acquisition of cool sports-related stuff. Like when the Ravens win the Super Bowl next year. ;) We bought a fifty-gallon aquarium to replace the two twenties, and that is set up with some new fish. Bobby painted the family room furniture--previously done in Eclectic Wood, i.e. nothing matched anything else--to match. He completely organized the basement. Dad and he built shelves for the pantry and the closet in my study. We hung up plants, windchimes, and birdfeeders outside, cut the grass, and edged the property (it was in desperate need, surprise surprise). The bathroom is hideous, so we've redone it to the best of our abilities until we can afford to tear it out completely and start again.

It makes me tired to think of it all. We've got a lot done ... but we've only just begun at the same time. Still, the house is livable, and we're at the point where we do a half-hour of work each night and creep towards goals. But we'll get there.

The time with our families was hard work but a lot of fun too. Everyone would come over early afternoon and stay till around eleven at night. We went out to dinner and rounded out each day of labor with coffee and dessert around the firepit. I have learned so much in the past few weeks. It's been exhausting ... but kind of fun and certainly rewarding at the same time.
  • Yeurgh.

    You know, reading this, and having seen oloriel's house (which is beautiful but in the midst of restoration work) will make me think more than just twice about ever buying a house. Hah. Haha. Not bloody likely anyway.

    Anyways, good luck, and it's good to see you around again! *hugs*
    • I think I would tend to agree with you. ;) I always said that I'd be happy as a renter forever; unfortunately, the American tax system doesn't favor those of us who have jobs but do not own houses. Having this house is the difference between owing several thousand extra in taxes each year or getting several thousand back in taxes!

      But now that we're here and the worst of the work is done (for now), I'm glad we took the plunge. :)

      Also, don't know if you saw it, but Seven in '07 has a Nerdanel feature coming up. I thought you might like to know, as her biggest fan and all. ;)
      • Well, that is something I didn't know - I can't say that I'm too familiar with the American tax system. In that case, yeah, moving sounds like a prudent idea. Also glad you're beginning to settle in. :)

        Nerdanel (and Celebrimbor too!) - I know! I've been meaning to write and manip something for days now, but inspiration is scarce at best, especially now that there are no other deadlines or assignments; ickle Elleth here needs some stress to get working. ;) I'll manage to send something in though, promised. Thank you for the heads-up! *hugs*
        • That makes two of us then that aren't too familiar with the US tax system. ;) I do know, however, that it favors homeowners so much because interest paid on mortgages is tax deductible, which is good for us now, but when we were paying rent ... o.O

          No pressure on the new Seven in '07 ... I just wanted to be sure that you knew, being that Nerds is your favorite and all. *hugs back*
  • The second room wasn't even one we'd intended to paint, but the walls of my study were so filthy--one could actually see the outline of where the child living there had slept--that we had to paint them. Yech.

    You know, I can just see the outline of a child's body on the wall, with shadowing of his/her blanket around him, and maybe even the suggested outline of a teddy bear... which leads me to think of heavy-duty velcro pajamas... LOL!

    They still need a lot of TLC, but at least I'm not walking across piss every time I need a book from the bookshelf.

    Disgusting visual! Thanks for sharing! *snort* Ewwww... ;-)
    • *snicker* Oh, I always share, you know! ;)

      If it was my outline, it would be a unicorn or an Elf instead of a teddy bear. ;)
  • Oh, it sounds like you have been working very hard for some time! It never ceases to amaze me, the degrees of filthyness that people are willing to live with, but I am astounded that they would want anyone else to see exactly how bad it was.. And they really cannot have been ignorant of the fact that everything would come to light once you started making the house yours. O_o I keep a clean house (well most of the time anyway) but if I was moving I would be sure to clean it very meticulously! Cleaning away other peoples dirt (and piss?????) icks me no end..

    And still, even with all the hard work you have been doing, I'm very jealous of you! A house in the country, with a study just for you, for your books and arts! *happy sigh* (and I'm laughing my head of at the thought of the Fëanorians in aquatic lifeform!! Have you named the new fish?)
    • I'm not the best housekeeper because I'm busy and distracted on the best of days, but I agree with you that forcing other people to live with my dirt? Just ... no. Even before we have guests over, I usually spend a few hours on a cleaning spree to at least make it look like, sure, I vacuum up the dog hair regularly and clean the toilet weekly. ;)

      The study was one of my number-one reasons for wanting this house. In the apartment, we had a "study" that was in fact supposed to be a dining room, but it quickly got taken over as the Room Where We Put Things When They Won't Go Anywhere Else. So our scuba gear was under the desk; Bobby's hockey equipment on the futon ... and it didn't have good light, which meant that I still had to paint outside, whenever I felt so inspired. And in Maryland, we have a very narrow window of painting-suitable weather in mid-Spring or late Fall, so it's probably not surprising that I didn't get much done in the last three years at all.

      I haven't finished naming the fish, no. I'm trying to get another featherfin catfish to replace Maedhros; he will be Maedhros again. Maglor is again the pleco; Celegorm the bala shark. Caranthir and Curufin are discus fish. We have four glowfish--two orange and two red--who are Elladan and Elrohir and Amrod and Amras respectively. And a black ghostknife, Mack the Knife, the only non-Feanorian. All of the others still need names, but I'll get there in time! :)
  • You should probably not stay in my house should you ever come visit me. Just saying...

    We have so much that needs replacing/repairing... It's a house thang. I do think you'll be happy you took the plunge though.

    Some critter prolly pissed on the floor and the pet owner's carpeted rather than fix the wood floor. My parents did this. *nods*
    • I'm not a great housekeeper either. When guests visit, I spend the three hours prior to their arrival making it look like I keep up with these things on a regular basis. ;) But I do draw the line at allowing filth to gather to where there is enough for ants to build a nest in it!
  • Carpets. The former owners of my house loved carpets. There were carpets in the most unlikely places. Everybody's favourite: in the fancy little bathroom for the fancy guests there was a bright green carpet with really looong hair (do you say hair for carpets?), about 10cm long that looked like some kind of runaway mould. It was disgusting.
    And same as in your house, carpets over lovely wood floors, and even better, some ghastly plastic tiles between the wood and the carpet. People are amazing and renovations are endless. Lucklily, they are -at the beginning at least- fun
    • Wow, 10 centimeters and green?? (Also, it's nap or pile, which makes no sense because ... it's English! It's designed not to make sense! Hair is much more logical. ;)

      Everything's been fun so far except picking those damned speckles off of the floor. I wore off all of my fingernails cleaning the floors. I'm not vain about my fingernails, but they grow fast and very hard, and it's easier to let them be than to cut them (because I lack the strength in my left hand to cut my right thumbnail, it's so hard!), but dang. That was a lot of scrubbing.
  • Mom and I spent about three whole days working together to clean and fix the floors.

    My mother-in-law, meanwhile, started cleaning. The Dads and Bobby began taping and painting. Painting went well; Dad is an excellent painter...


    What with all the family help, this sounds akin to an Amish barn-raising! :^D

    It goes without saying (but that won't stop me) that you are incredibly fortunate to have parents and in-laws who are willing and able to help you out to such a large degree. It sounds like you've accomplished a lot!

    Reading this makes me mildly nostalgic about our first house which mr. pandemonium and I bought when we were around your age. Our experiences with cleaning and fixing things were very much like yours (sans Capt. Morgan :^)), and did a lot of the work ourselves: re-modeled the bathroom, kitchen, constructed a beautiful ceramic tile surround for the new woodburning stove that replaced the Jetson's style free-standing fireplace. It's not an experience I would ever wish to repeat. Mr. pan loathes the thought of tiling anything now.

    And yep, we moved a fish tank into that first new house, too. It was also a 20 gallon freshwater, but our cichlids and plecostomus were named after characters in Robert Graves' I, Claudius.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing the photos of the new digs!
    • It was a lot like a barn-raising; I had that thought too! And I know how lucky I am too, believe me! We would have accomplished very little without the help of the respective families because--in many cases--we didn't even know where to begin. My dad is practically a professional handyman, and there's few things that he can't fix, so that's been wonderful.

      And imagine accomplishing all that you did without Captain Morgan! ;) The bathroom is our next project. The tub and sink are done in '70s goldenrod (which I think might be more aptly named "puke"), and there is three different kinds of tile on the walls. Very weird. Very ugly.

      Also, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who names her fish. Bobby doesn't ... except he did name out black ghost knifefish Mack the Knife!
  • After all the work you've sunk into this house already, I hope it turns out just beautiful and you end up loving it to death. Hardwood floors are indeed fantastic, especially with a couple of nice Oriental rugs (NOT carpets!) on them.

    You know, I was just thinking of the Jimmy Buffett Debacle recently! I just got back from Philadelphia, and in the airport on the way there, I picked up a copy of TIME magazine, and there was a little interview with Jimmy Buffett. Readers could write to the magazine with questions for him that he would answer. One of the first questions was about how he related to his fans, and he said that they loved him, and that he'd recently played a concert in Virginia where 26,000 people stood out in the rain to hear him. I read that and thought, well, but for the incompetent cops, it would have been 26,002 people!
    • Oh dear, that's too funny! Apparently, it is a habit that it always rains for Jimmy Buffett concerts at Nissan. Well, given my experiences this summer, it rains for every outdoor concert, period.

      We already to adore the house, even though it's not finished yet. (Though, will it ever be finished? I doubt it.) It's been worth the work and heart/headache so far.

      We don't have an Oriental rug in the living room but a Southwestern-looking one. But on rugs on wood floors in general, I'm completely with you.
      • I happen to love my hardwood floors (especially that creaky sound they make -- it's comforting, somehow), and there are almost no rugs in the house. The exception is a small area rug in the bedroom, which is primarily there for the purpose of being somewhat nice to the ol' feet when they hit the floor first thing on a cold winter morning in Chicago. Mom Pony occasionally asks me why I don't get a few more rugs. Besides the convenience factor of not having to roll up a living room rug every time I want to host a singing, I tell her that the kind of rug I'd want would be a nice Oriental one, and I can't afford that, so I'm not going to spend money on a large rug that I don't want, and instead, I'm going to hold out until I can afford the kind of rug that I like.
  • My next move will be to the nursing home. Which means someone else will have to clear out and clean my house.

    I'm not a very meticulous housekeeper, but having painted just about everything above ground this year, so I think it's clean. Now the basement, that's scary, it might require professional help some day.

    When I recarpeted several years back, I discovered I had wood floors in the living room, just not in the entry way and hall way; mind you, this is all in the same large room. I still try to fathom what someone was thinking, to put a vinyl 'runner' from the front door to the kitchen door and down the hallway when the rest of the room is wood. And then to carpet over all of it. It's perplexing.

    Wood looks great, maybe some day I'll pull up the carpets, but I think about my previous dog who couldn't walk on the neighbor's wood floor when she was old and arthritic, so I was glad for the carpet, which gave her some dignity.

    But speaking of old dogs, I know there's a spot that I never found, so I expect I have at least 1 stain under there too. Ewww, I don't want to think about it.
    • Okay, your floors are officially weirder than mine. Why would someone do that?

      Alex hasn't fully grasped the concept of hardwood floors yet. He sits and his butt starts sliding, and he backpedals until he's slid across the whole floor! It's kind of funny to watch, though I doubt he thinks so!

      I'm also not a meticulous housekeeper by any stretch of the imagination. And Alex has gotten his coat to where he's starting to shed big time, so I might have to start doing a little better with the dog hair, for my allergies if nothing else.
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