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Monday, January 07, 2013  

Control Panels, Part 1

We had a bit of "Gift of the Magi" thing at our house on Christmas this year. Among the gifts Trash gave me were some nice thick books by writers I enjoy that I could read at my leisure. And then I gave her something that burned up all my leisure for the week.

She was going to be gone for a week -- last week, to be precise -- and I find that's a good time to take on household maintenance projects. The dust and noise and mess and general disruption that these things generate are less annoying to both of us when only one of us has to deal with them.

In this case, I decided to fix up the bathroom. One might think there wouldn’t be much left to fix in a room where every surface that isn’t either porcelain or metal (and some that are) has already been reprinted, refinished, and/or completely replaced since we lived there, some of them twice. We've gone floor to ceiling in there. Literally. I replaced the entire ceiling a few years ago, no shit.

But the bathroom is also the only place in the house where we have any wallpaper. Which was fine, and my mom did a great job hanging it (no, it's not original, are you insane?) except for the fact that Exie keeps digging his claws into it to get to the windowsill. I already replaced that section once right after fixing the ceiling, but it was getting shredded again and I decided the timing was right to get rid of it once and for all.

Timing has never been my strong point.

Simply tearing off the wallpaper wasn’t going to cut it, because the paper was stuck not to sheetrock, but to some hideous Masonite paneling, which in turn covered the even more hideous grout that had held up the square tiles that were installed directly over the plaster when the house was built. Sanding and painting was therefore a nonstarter. I mean I could do it, but it would take weeks and I didn't want Trash to be gone that long. Besides, the amount of dust that would generate would certainly have caused my long-absent asthma to be all, “Heeeey, how have you been? Let’s settle down and catch up.” Emphasis on “down.”

So I decided to replace the wallpapered paneling with some paneling of our own choice. And then three years later I started actually doing it.

Trash was leaving at zero A.M on Sunday and returning the afternoon of the following Saturday. Six and a half days away from my true love stretched out before me like a yawning abyss. Until I realized what I'd gotten myself into.

With the hard experience gained from replacing windows with my parents the past couple of years -- specifically the “making it look nice afterward” part of the job -- I thought turning 8’ x 4' panels into 4’ x 4’ panels would be the hardest part. Yes, my dad’s table saw is still in our garage after a summer of replacing windows, but my dad was always the one who operated it and he was also away. And yes, it was hard. Not the hardest part, though.

Funny thing about our bathroom is it’s not all that big. And it’s oddly shaped, so instead of your standard four walls, it has, say...twenty. And it turns out there’s all this stuff to work around in there, like a wall heater, and an electrical outlet, and a vanity, and a toilet.

I thought I could cheat and work around the latter two things a little bit, but by the time I’d moved them out of of the way enough to remove the old paneling, I realized I’d given myself enough access to do the new paneling properly anyway. So why not, might as well. If everything went well I could have the water in the house turned back on within a couple of hours.

Everything did not go well.

More on that in a later entry, though. And you won't have to wait weeks for it, I promise.

posted by M. Giant 3:37 PM 0 comments


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