M. Giant's
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Monday, May 10, 2004  

On the Floor

There's always been one thing the most wrong with our house. What that that thing is has changed over the years, and it usually declines in severity. As we fix a Worst Thing, the second worst thing steps up and becomes the new Worst Thing. That's home ownership. That's how it goes. For instance, the day we closed, the biggest thing wrong with our house was The Color Of Every Surface In It. We enlisted an army of friends to get almost every room painted before we moved in a stick of furniture. But then we still had the orange shag carpeting in the basement that was so thick that when somebody spilled an entire can of Sunkist on it, nobody could find the spill. Even by touch.

Sometimes things became the new Worst Thing without us having to fix anything; they just came up on their own. Like when the ancient fluorescent lights in the bathroom started taking so long to flicker on that we would hit the switch walking by, go do something else, and hope to come back to an illuminated facility a few minutes later. Like when rainwater flowed directly from the roof into our kitchen window, turning the wall plaster below it into oatmeal. Like when every flush of the toilet baptized our basement utility rom with water (and God knows what else).

The past few weeks, we've been dealing with lots of Worst Things, sometimes at the same time. Our house looks better than it has since we moved into it (and probably better than it ever did before). Trash's mom came over one weekend, and my parents the next, and with their help we knocked over Worst Things like bowling pins. These were things I'd been dreading tackling for a long time—years, in at least one case—but we got to the point where the Worst Thing in our house that had any tenure at all was the color of the walls in the utility room. Which nobody in the world cares about.

I guess I should mention that this was after I'd torn the carpet out of the living room.

I mentioned a few weeks ago how I had the major brainwave of deciding do that on a Tuesday evening and didn't end up getting to bed until about four-ish. I don't think I mentioned the condition of the floor underneath.

A previous owner—and I assume it was Dr. Jellyfinger because this had his jellyfingerprints all over it—had painted the living room off-white before installing the carpet. And had not bothered to put down a dropcloth, presumably because he figured, "Hey, I'm putting in carpet after this. Who cares about the hardwood floor? I'll never see it again."

One wonders if he takes the same approach to neurosurgery.

In any case, the wood floor wasn't stained as badly in the living room and hallway as it was in the room that is now the study. On the other hand, the study floor didn't look like a Jackson Pollock in monochrome, either.

I count us very lucky that we had a nearly-room-sized area rug all ready to be deployed in there. I count myself even luckier that when it came to the margin of the floor (eighteen inches at its narrowest point), it was Trash and not I who ended up scrunched down on the floor using fingernails and a container of some caustic solvent called Goof-Off™ to peel away countless spatters of paint whose first sight of daylight in over a decade had come just days before. And Trash counts herself lucky once again for that area rug and the mess it hides.

So obviously we're going to need to get the floor refinished, and soon. Goof-Off™ is also Varnish-Off™, do there's nothing protecting large areas of bare wood right now. I considered doing it myself again, but we're talking a much bigger space this time, and if you factor in the cost of the sanding drums and disks I'd have to buy, I wouldn't be saving that much money. Not to mention the inconvenience of ourselves and the cats being confined to the kitchen and basement for three or four 24-hour periods in a row while coats of polyurethane dry. Neither of those areas has a bathroom, and I can't see the cats being too pleased about having to share their litter boxes with us.

So we'll probably have someone come do it in June when Trash is at a librarians' conference, or even in a couple of weeks while we're in California. And thus will begin the search for the new Worst Thing. But the new Worst Thing will be smaller and less conspicuous than any Worst Thing has ever been before in our house, so it's going to take a while to find it.

I'd say at least ten minutes.

Today's best search phrase: "How do I get trash off the TV?" Trash would like to point out that she's hardly ever on TV.

posted by M. Giant 5:00 PM 0 comments


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