Friday, May 30, 2008

Fumes, Fibers and Fumbling

I have black spray paint on my nose. And my thumb. And my shirt. A few minutes ago, in a fit of frustration, I decided to spray paint my old white Adirondack chair black. I brushed off some of the chipping paint, and a bit of the grass that had been thrown up by the lawnmower, then started in on my $3.00 solution to a crappy week. I know I should have prepped the chair by washing it, brushing off the chipped paint with a steel brush, and possibly priming it. I had no patience for that.

Remember how I self-righteously said we’d all be a whole lot “greener” if we just left things in our houses alone? Well, sometime last week I decided I couldn’t stand my textured ceiling one minute longer. In the interest of being environmentally responsible, I had the ceiling checked for asbestos. Out of the 30 or so possibly harmful elements, all came back negative but one. We had a trace (less than 1%) of one of the elements. This meant that in all good conscience, I couldn’t have a regular drywall guy come in and rip out the ceiling; we would need asbestos specialists. We could have left the ceiling intact, and just spruced up the room with a new coat of paint (to the tune of $60), but by that time I’d already chipped part of it away to get the samples, and my hubby had started tearing apart the fireplace hearth, which connected to the floor, which connected to the walls, which connected to the textured ceiling.

Before we knew it, our house looked like the spacesuit scene in E.T. Plastic hung everywhere, my office was transformed into a decontamination chamber, and in a few short days, we were rid of the asbestos and large sums of cash. Out went the plan for built-in bookcases. Out went the heated floors. Out went the new fireplace. Our funds were low, and we were in survival mode. The walls and floor are now pocked with staples from the “containment” procedures, we have no ceiling, and we must decide how to proceed with what began as a minor home renovation.

So, this dilemma led me to my ozone-depleting date with the spray can. The house is a wreck. I can’t start trying to fix it up or even clean it until all the work is done, but I had to accomplish something. The chair looks like crap—just as I figured it would—with paint still peeling off and a wasp struggling to free itself from a sticky death on the right arm. But at least I did something. A white chair is now black. Sort of. Don’t look at the back or bottom.

This reminds me of my mom, who when she got the urge to do something, would do it. When our family home sold and I went to meet the new owner, he started discussing the house’s quirks with me. “What about this weird paint job in the dining room? How come it starts and stops and starts again on this one wall?” I didn’t care for his tone. Our house was always beautifully decorated, and my mother had a real knack for design.

I didn’t feel like sharing with this complete stranger what I knew had probably happened. My mother, late one night, had an urge to transform the dining room. With no one to help her move the enormous china cabinet, she had painted around it-- no one the wiser until now. Breathing in the fumes from the oil-based paint, she probably looked in satisfaction at a “job done.” As I look at our shrunken bank account and torn up family room, I wonder: do we always need the “well” part?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

"My" Settee is your Settee

Okay, I know I usually write in here about stuff going on in my life. For instance, today I could write about the men downstairs in their biohazard suits tearing down my textured ceiling. I could write about my long-suffering husband who has agreed to pay large sums of money to get rid of said ceiling even though he finds it quite attractive.

I could write about the large tick we pulled off Molly’s arm after soccer on Monday and let you join in the speculation as to whether or not it was a deer tick.

Instead, I want to share this photo with you. I have been drooling over this velvet settee on-line for over a year now, but we have no place in our house to put it. I have watched the price go down and eventually land it in the JCPenney outlet store for only $379.99! I have discussed with hubby how we could move our bulky leather furniture down to the basement and replace it with some chic new furniture in tones of say… brown velvet and brown velvet.

Reality hit last night as we struggled to move the leather couch out of the workmen’s way, that there is no way our leather furniture can fit down the stairwell into the basement. Soooooo, I am sharing this beauty with you today in hopes that it can brighten someone else’s living room, gracious foyer, or capacious master suite. What’s not to love? Enjoy!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

One Life Down, 8 to Go

Last week I let Shadow out of the house so she and I could pick up the kids from school. She took off after a big orange cat that had been sitting in our driveway. They tore past me and soon the cat was whizzing up a really tall tree. Shadow circled back, and with a running dash, made it about 6 feet up before falling to the ground.

What was easy to climb up, was a challenge to get down, so the cat remained perched in a V in the tree while I picked up the kids from school. I’m not good at gauging distances, but a neighborhood poll had that cat being between 25 and 40 feet off the ground. An hour passed, then two. There were NO lower branches, so a trip down would mean coming straight down the trunk or falling head over heels. The cat was freaked. A neighbor called Animal Control whose party line was: “Let it come down on its own. We don’t see many cat skeletons in trees, so it’s bound to come down eventually.” They didn’t mention if they had seen cat skeletons at the base of any trees.

Three hours passed. The cat’s view down was our yard, where Shadow the Raging Beast lived, and, on the other side of the fence, a busy road at rush hour. I’m sure the cars zooming by didn’t make him or her feel more inclined to risk coming down. I toyed with the idea of calling the fire department but didn’t know if their willingness to rescue cats from trees was just a myth from children’s stories.

Eventually Molly and I took my uneaten dinner, conveniently a plate of tilapia, and placed it under the tree. The cat meowed like crazy as the scent wafted up. We videotaped the cat’s every move. This made me a little nervous. I was torn between wanting to make $10,000 on America’s Funniest Videos and fearing that Molly would be traumatized if the cat went splat. Nothing happened.

After hour 4, I could take it no longer. We called the fire department. I learned a lot about ladder length. They dispatched a truck. Before they got here, a neighbor girl burst into the house yelling, “The cat is down! The cat is down!” The tilapia must have proved tempting, because the cat had stood up, teetered off the branch, and started to fall. It grabbed the tree and shimmied down rear first before running under the shed. Whew! A quick call to cancel the fire truck and our lives returned to normal.

Both kids were a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see an exciting rescue, but we were all glad the cat was safe. We still don’t know whose cat it was, but he/she hasn’t been seen hanging out in our basement window wells since.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Not Sexy in the Suburbs

I had a fantastic Mother’s Day. Hubby understands that I do not have to be his mother for him to extend himself for me on Mother’s Day. This is quite the coup considering he is the same guy who uttered, “But we don’t DO Valentine’s Day.” Three home-cooked gourmet meals, a novel (and the whole afternoon to read it), plus “date coupons” from Tom and the kids set the tone for a great day. Did I mention the chocolate?

I did crack up that morning when I pulled Parade Magazine out of the Sunday paper. Emblazoned on the cover was a picture of Sarah Jessica Parker and the words: “America’s Most Fabulous Mom.” Joking, I said to the kids, “Wooohoo! The world finally knows how great I am! They even put me on the cover of this magazine.” Molly took one peek and said, “That doesn’t look like you, Mommy. That looks like Holden’s mom.” “Yeah,” said Jake, “Definitely Holden’s mom.” Molly considered it a moment longer, and pointing at SJP’s distinctive mole said, “Well she does have that thing on her face. It’s kinda like Mom’s zits.” Aaaah. Motherhood.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Duly Quoted

Molly has started using quotation marks to accentuate certain points. This, joined with the hip-jutting bravado of a 6 year old who aspires to be a rock star, ranges from being incredibly cute to a bit frightening. She seems to be growing up fast. I wonder where she gets these “grown up” traits from, and her sassy, brassy over-the-top personality. Okay, so I just used quotation marks. Maybe they weren’t necessary. Maybe I’m answering my own questions. Let’s move on…

Sometimes she really pegs when to add the quotation marks, hands held right up next to a squinched-up face for emphasis. Other times, she’s pretty off base. She reminds me of Joey on “Friends” when Chandler and Ross try to help him understand when air quotes are applicable. He never quite gets it. Last night, for instance, Molly said, “When are the boys coming home with ‘the food?’” As far as I could tell, the food was food, and the situation didn’t call for quotation marks. I let it go. A few minutes earlier I had told her that girls have a separate hole for babies to come out of. I don’t want to squander all of my wise, motherly instruction in one day.

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Friday, May 9, 2008

P.S. A Sense about Scents

In the interest of full disclosure, when I wrote about my former scents, I forgot to tell you about the musk stage. It was eighth grade and I had heard that musk would attract the opposite sex. I’ll let my school picture speak for itself as you decide how well it worked.

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