M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Friday, April 05, 2002  

I'm a bachelor this weekend. My lovely wife Trash is going to Milwaukee to meet up with her friends from grad school this weekend, so I have the house to myself. That means I have two days in which I’ll be free to get as much poontang as I would if I were a swinging single guy, which is to say absolutely none.

Normally when this happens, I like to spend some time housecleaning, so she comes home to a cleaner place than the one she left. When she goes away, I figure that it's to my advantage to make sure she wants to come back. I like it when she comes home from a trip and walks into a layout from Better Homes and Gardens. Or at least I would, if I were ever able to accomplish that.

Not this time, homeslice. This time I've got actual home-improvement-type projects to work on. I’m not getting rid of messes, I’m making ‘em. Here's a rundown of the projects I'm hoping to complete this weekend:

1. Put in a new kitchen floor. I've never done anything like this before, and I'm a little nervous. Mind you, I think the kind of floor I'm putting in is the easiest kind to install, unless you count sawdust or filbert shells as a valid design choice, which I don't. I'm not cutting a huge sheet of linoleum to fit around all of our cabinets or anything, which is good because I have no idea how people are able do that anyway. I'm not putting in ceramic tile, so I don't have to deal with all the adhesive and grout and other messy stuff. No, I'm just throwing down a layer of self-adhesive vinyl tiles. You know, the kind with the backing you peel off and stick to the floor. Of course, before I can do that I have to spread some goop on the floor so the 3-D aspect of the old linoleum pattern doesn't show through under the new stuff. I'm worried that I’ll start lining them up wrong and not realize it until I’m almost to the edges of the room and I have some kind of messed-up vortex effect going. Also, the measuring and cutting makes me nervous. As does the very real possibility that I'll come up a sixteenth of a tile short for the surface area I need to cover. Whatever happens, it'll be a learning experience. Not that what I learn will be of any use to me, because I plan never to do anything like this again.

2. Finish prepping the spare bedroom to be repainted. There's actually not much left to do on this. I started patching the cracks and holes in the walls a couple of weeks ago, but there’s always stuff you don’t see until the room is totally empty and you’re stalking every inch of wallspace with a putty knife. Amazingly enough, I’ve got a good start on that, too. I’ve even taped around the doors, windows and floor trim. I’m getting good at this. See, we’ve already repainted the kitchen, living room, hallway, and bathroom in the past year, and we kind of have a system. What we normally like to do is try to pack it all into one day. That way we can sit around waiting for spackle to dry, debate whether we have the time or the inclination to slap a coat of primer over it, apply fresh paint while dust from the sanding is still flying, and then act all surprised when blobs of damp plaster start coming off on the roller pads. Plus you get the bonus of painting the walls, trim, and ceiling three different colors without the benefit of masking tape. It’s a nearly flawless system and it’s worked well for us in the past. This time, though, there’s not so much of a rush because unlike the kitchen, living room, or bathroom, nobody cares if the spare bedroom is torn up for a week or two. Especially because of something cool I discovered: I have a plastic dropcloth taped down all around the edges of the room, and when the furnace kicks on, the floor vent inflates it from below so the room is like a half-assed version of one of those Moonwalk tents at church carnivals. There isn’t much bounce to it if you weigh more than a gram or two, but when you’re doing home improvement you need to find your fun wherever you can.

3. Fix the closet wall in the second bedroom. Trash happened to discover a slight problem with one of the walls inside the closet: it’s falling off the frame. Our house was built in 1950 or something, so all of the walls are plaster over some weird composite fiberboard material I’ve never seen and which frankly I’m getting pretty tired of patching. So that closet wall is going to come tumblin’, crumblin’ down. After all the work this house has caused me, it’s going to be cathartic to be able to beat the hell out of it with a hammer and a crowbar. And maybe some power tools. Then instead of messing around with giant gobs of drywall compound and a whole lot of sandpaper, I can just slap up a hunk of sheetrock, which will only require me to mess around with neat layers of drywall compound and considerably less sandpaper. Maybe I should wait on this, but hey, the second bedroom is torn up already. I might as well make a bigger mess and clean it up rather than making two smaller messes and having to clean up twice. Always thinking, me.

4. Rewire the light switches by the front door. Ever since we moved into this house nearly nine years ago, we’ve been on a never-ending quest to find a new switchplate for the light switches in the entryway. How hard can this be, you ask? Well, the switches are arranged in a triangle. You can’t find a switchplate anywhere that will fit that configuration. I’m pretty sure that’s because the electrical code doesn’t allow switches to be that close together anymore. I’m also pretty sure that Trash lost the old switchplate on purpose when we repainted the living room, because it was ugly. Although not as ugly as the exposed hardware and wiring we’ve been looking at ever since. It’s okay, though, because I’m going to pull out the entire mess and redo it, with a new switch box and everything. I’m pretty sure I can pull this off, even though the last time I tried to do something like this I ended up with a dimmer switch that doesn’t dim. See, since then, I took a class in electrical wiring. So I’m practically certified. But don’t be surprised if this turns out to be my last entry. I’m just saying.

Actually, I think that’s it. I hope I can pull it all off. I’d hate for Trash to have to come home to a house with sawdust and scrap lumber everywhere, exposed wires hanging out of the walls, no power, a kitchen floor you couldn’t drive a Jeep on, and two dead cats. That wouldn’t do much for my chances of getting her to come back from her next trip.

posted by M. Giant 11:46 AM 0 comments


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