Renovation Continues into Week 2

Yesterday morning, my husband said, “We’re running out of stuff to demolish. It’s time to start building.”

And he was right.

We’d pulled off about a mile in baseboards and weird rounded epoxy fake baseboards.


About half the house has this epoxy stuff, sprayed onto 3/4 inch particle board. They only put epoxy coatings in garages these days, so it took a while for us to figure out what the heck this stuff was. There’s glittery epoxy in the kid’s bathroom.


50 year old cork floors.

I took out a doorway, as we’re intending to drywall over it.


Then it was kitchen cabinet removal time.


This was actually super fun to do. Unlike removing ancient 1960’s drapery rods.


It really did make such a difference.

And then?

It was time to actually build something!


This is actually a rebuilding. With the twin doors there, it’s pretty obvious they removed the wall at some point. Maybe. It’s hard to tell. Why remove the wall, but not the door? So confusing.


Wall frame in an afternoon!

And our contractor is building a new deck.

The old deck was so old and decayed that “demo” for it basically just meant taking it apart with your hands. It just came apart.


New deck is not yet done, but my son is super excited for the final results.


We still have to remove the 1966 carpets.

I am a little afraid.

Demo. Parts 1 through 4 of 7000.

We have to scrape the barnacles off.


And, by scrape, I mean, literally. With a scraper. So. Much. Scraping.

The acoustic tiles came down, and with them went a good 30% of the old, musty house smell. I was surprised at what a difference it made, really.

Then it was cork attack.

These things were stuck on with the worlds most horrifying glue.


So we’re all on the same page? This house doesn’t have air conditioning.

It never did.

It was 100 degrees all weekend.

It gets a bit toasty in there.

So, we had to scrape off those tiles.


And, just for googling googlers who might happen to chance upon this?

Removing cork tiles from walls. It is terrible. I feel your pain.

What you need? Is a “reversible blade scraper” on a handle. A sharpish one. It’s amazing. Don’t try it without one. We did one side of the wall in 4 hours, with two people. The next day, we got through 120% of the space, with one person, in one hour. Get the darned scraper.

So, after the tiles, it was time for my husband and a friend to start gutting the rotted out bathroom.


Fungus, subfloor damage. It was a mess.

Now it’s an even bigger mess.


And we have a pile of bathroom.


The house was vacant for 4 years, but so far as I can tell, the woman who lived here was still using the dark terror shower.

She lived here with all the rot, the leaking faucets. She tried to Scotch tape up the ceiling. It’s sort of sad to look at now. We know the back door and some of the windows were replaced about 7 years ago, and the roof was replaced 5 years ago, though the ceiling was never patched.

We actually know quite a lot about the house, because… well. Small town.

It belonged to a local judge and his wife, who had it custom built in 66. They had two kids, boys. At some point in 1979 or 1980, one of the boys was hit by a car, and he spent 15 years in a wheelchair. The wife ended up a physical therapist, and she worked out of her home. The office was equipped with hydrotherapy tubs and whatnot. The whole house is pretty close to ADA compliant, which is why the halls are so wide. I can’t imagine they were widened later, though. Presumably, she was a therapist before the accident.

I know they were religious, and one of then was of Ukranian descent. There are newspapers and Jesus cards left behind. There were grandkids, because the cork has several Cars drawings. They read a lot. There’s an entire library set-up in the basement, with sections marked out with label tape.

I know one of them drank cheap vodka.


We found this hidden in an upper cabinet. Neither my mother-in-law, nor our 60-something realtor recognized the brand at all. We think it’s from the 70’s maybe?

It’s interesting to be in a house that has some history. One of the contractors that gave a quote for the carpets said he’d gone to Cub Scout meetings in the house in the late 60’s. He also said that the carpets were, in fact, original.

So far as we can tell, they never changed anything. We know the paint in the back was up by 1971, because they marked the boys heights on the door frame.


So, I set out to remove wallpaper.

A brief reminder:




I’d never taken wallpaper down.

It’s not super fun, for the record.


It was slow going, so I put the boy to work.

Child labor! He was so proud of that tool belt. His very own tool belt and his very own scraper. Fancy.

Child labor! He was so proud of that tool belt. His very own tool belt and his very own scraper. Fancy.

But, he was not 101% committed.


So, we put the baby to work.


I promise, we thoroughly washed her afterwards.

This was it last night, on day 2.


It should be completely done tomorrow. Which is good, because I am beyond sick of it.

We Bought a House!

It’s official!

We’ve closed.


We bought a house that is in need of a lot of work.


The boy is eager to get started. He says we are the Mighty Repair Team.


And it needs some mighty repairs.

It’s very, very, very 1960’s.


I am not sure they ever updated anything at all.


This thing comes complete with owner’s manual, broiler tray, and rotisserie set. It’s set up to start your percolator on a timer. Pretty high tech for 1966.


The floors are all 50 year old carpet and spray epoxy with actual gold flecks in it.

And there’s cork tile all over the back of the house.


So, yeah.

It’s a fixer upper.

But the views are nice.


And it comes with a grape vine that is probably older than my parents.


The Danger in Getting What You Ask For

While strapped into a nauseating, runaway bus full of dumpsterfire stories about Dallas and Baton Rouge and Donald Trump and Nice and Turkey and ISIS and the Antarctic melt, I found a story about the University of Cincinnati’s new “Diversity and Inclusion Statements.

Seems like a small thing.

And as of July 1, new job postings related to staff openings will also require a Diversity and Inclusion statement.


  • Faculty and administrative/professional applicants will be asked to submit a personal statement summarizing his or her contributions (or potential contributions) to diversity, inclusion and leadership.
  • All other positions, including hourly positions, will be asked to respond to the following question on UC’s application form:
    “As an equal-opportunity employer with a diverse staff and student population, we are interested in how your qualifications prepare you to work with faculty, staff and students from cultures and backgrounds different from your own.”

According to Tamie Grunow, senior associate vice president and chief human resources officer, “This application request recognizes that the university is a diverse environment and signals that diversity and inclusion are important enough that we’re asking applicants about contributions or potential contributions up front. We’re all better off with diversity in our lives, and it’s part of demonstrating our commitment to diversity and inclusion and setting expectations and priorities.”

Now, this set off a weird little bell for me.

I remember, in 2003, March of 2003, I walked down a hallway full of televisions at work, all set to CNN, feeling like I’d walked into some sort of dystopian nightmare. The war was just starting. The scent of Freedom Fries was, literally, in the air, as this hallway was next to a food court. And they’d turned “God Bless America” into a dirge.  People were caged up in “Free Speech Zones.”  Missiles were launching. War was freedom. Shopping was defiance. It was disorienting.

Peak Conservative.

Same as this last month has been similarly disorienting.

But 2016 is very clearly not Peak Conservative. The GOP has obviously lost all bearings. That scene is a total mess.


Since it’s in a shambles, though, it’s given way to a new extreme.

This is Peak Liberal, I’m pretty sure. The disorienting landscape where you get called a bigot for using the term female genital mutilation, because some females have penises. (That actually happened.)

Where feminists are siding with the rights of Muslim men to shout down and silence Middle Eastern women, in the name of diversity. (That actually happened.)

Where you’re not allowed to merely shake your head at antisemitism, because it’s “triggering.” (Guess what? That actually happened. That was this week, even.)

Where a “diversity” and “inclusion” statement is clearly, and I mean, incredibly clearly, meant to exclude. To purify the purestrain ideology. To weed out dissent and make things far less diverse.

This is where the snake eats it’s tail.  The kids have lost their damned heads.

We’re, weirdly, right back in doublespeaking Free Speech Zone territory.


Summer 2016

I wrote up that whole thing about globalism, political branding, the incoherent ideological state of things, and then Brexit happened. I’d pontificate on that like I know something, but I sort of suspect I don’t.

We’re probably moving. We are in escrow. It’s a fixer upper. I am making lists. Checking them twice. I am wondering if we have bitten off more than we can chew. Then I wonder if we’ll even make it to closing without the deal falling apart or meteor strikes.

I’ve spent the several weeks in a state of perpetual personal anxiety.


She’s into packing, if it means more boxes.

The summer has been eaten by house hunting, house negotiating, inspections, quotes, appraisals. My son is slowly losing all his math facts. They’re soaking into the pool.

Last year, even with a tiny baby, I could keep him doing something educational.

This year, with toddler crazies, and house crazies, and stuff everywhere (we have officially outgrown this place), I’m just lucky no one has wandered off or cut down a tree.

He got this first peeling sunburn. I managed to prevent it until he was 8. Not a bad run.

He got this first peeling sunburn. I managed to prevent it until he was 8. Not a bad run.

This weekend we’re having guests, because it’s a holiday weekend. Last year we went to their house, this year they’re coming to Lakeport. I asked my husband, “What the hell do you do with guests here?”

We have exactly one trick up our sleeves. We take people shooting.

It’s waaaaay too hot for that, though. I don’t think, “Holy moly, maybe just sit on top of this a/c vent, and later we’ll feed you tacos” is the greatest plan. It is, however, a plan. And it comes with tacos.