Category Archives: Remodel From Hell/New Home

Meet The Mayor of Crazie Town

Hello, my long-lost readers.

Wait.

You weren’t lost, I was.

???? Lost

You may be asking, WTF?  Why did The Mayor go from writing a hilariously funny and entertaining post every week, to barely a dozen over the last two years?

That is an excellent question and one I’ve been trying to answer for…well, the last two years.

I could tell you a lot of stuff happened, like:

My dad died,

and then;

My favorite aunt died,

and then;

My dog died,

and then;

We moved into the house from hell,

and then;

My husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer,

and then…

And then, I got stuck in Child’s Pose.  Literally.  Knees to chest, forehead pinned to a yoga mat.

My first yoga class in years and, unable to stand in Warrior 1, 2 or 3, I folded myself into Child’s Pose to wait for a position I could manage.  The problem became apparent immediately.  Once I arranged myself into Child’s Pose, huge crocodile tears rolled down my face and plopped onto the mat.  As the puddle of tears grew, the salty drops splashed back up onto my cheeks.

“Let’s continue our Vinyasa,” the teacher murmured to the class while tucking a pile of tissues next to me.  “Downward Dog…to Plank…to Cobra.”

I pushed up to try a Downward Dog but, the tears traveled upside down across my forehead and added to the growing dark patch on my purple mat.  Back to Child’s Pose, where I continued to weep silently until the class was over.

That was it.  I’m done.

I’m actually tired of being sad.

Khalil Gibran wrote: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”

I figure by now, my life can hold a shit-load of joy.

For example, this brings me joy.

Blue Mayor

I’ve spent a small fortune at Shutterstock and thought it would be better to pay an artist I’ve actually met.  This is a creation from one of the extremely talented members of the WTF Critique Group.  Annie is an artist, a writer, an art critic and a world traveler.  I hate her awesome talent.  I think she has awesome talent!

I asked her to make a drawing that looks like me but add a top hat.

Done and done.

Meet the Mayor of Crazie Town. She confirmed that hilariously funny and entertaining blog posts will soon follow.

 

Sharing a House with Murphy S Law

Many adventures have kept me away from my computer chair, so I’m a little rusty in the writing department.  The blank screen and a smart-alecky blinking cursor are giving me the stink-eye, but I’m going to give it a try anyway.

It started when doctors discovered a lump in Husband’s prostate – which everyone assured me, “would be fine.”  Everyone that is, except Murphy S Law, who knew immediately that, in fact, it would not be fine.

Shortly after bringing Husband home from his brief hospital stay, sparkly white flakes began to float down from the sky.  Knowing that I’d be spending the next week hovering over Husband, I decided I could care less. I walked over to the (new to me) gas fireplace, flipped the switch and watched, fascinated, as a perfectly effortless fire roared to life.

Can I rock a look or what?

Can I rock a look or what?

I gotta go - BAD

I gotta go – BAD

Soon Murphy S Law flipped his own switch and the gently floating snowflakes turn to brutal sheets of white. Still, who really cared?  Okay, me, a bit.  Husband’s doctor forbade him to do any lifting AT ALL, which required me to fully outfit myself against the storm in order to carve out a path so that aging dog, Lola, could make it to the back yard.

Returning from my walk on the frozen tundra, I buttoned up the house, turned off the lights and went to bed.

******

“Guess what?” Husband said, as I stumbled into the kitchen for my morning cup of caffeine.

“Wha?” I mumbled.

“The pipes are frozen!”

I swear I felt the brush of a giggle against my ear from Mr. Law

I called the plumber that had worked for our hated contractor, but had been one of the few subs we trusted.  The plumber asked “What’s your address again?”  When told, he hemmed and hawed a bit, then said “I’m really sorry to tell you this, but I’ll be filing a lien against you because your contractor never paid us.”

Of. Course. They. Didn’t. – Mr. Murphy S Law’s giggle turned into a guffaw as he firmly planted himself into my life.

What were my options?  I begged the plumber to come anyway. Plumber #1 arrived and said he’d never seen anything like it.  I heard Mr. M S Law cackle.  Plumber #1 called in Plumber #2 who thought he remembered this happening to his dad once and maybe he’d have the tool we needed.

Didn't think this plan through

Didn’t think this plan through

Meantime I’m carrying in buckets and buckets of snow to melt on the stove so that I can pour them in the toilet tank so that we can use it. Picture to the right is my first attempt before I, DOH, realized my gas stove worked.

Plumber #1 and #2 returned with a pair of jumper cables as long as a bus.  They attached one end to the meter and the other end ran through my front door, across the living room, down the stairs and draped across my writing desk, to connect to the pipe that enters the house.

“Now we wait.” Plumber #2 said.

We waited.

And waited.

And waited.

All the time, Murphy S Law is stretched out on my floor, filing his nails.  Four hours of waiting later, Plumber #2 said he’s going to go on home, but just to keep the jumper cables plugged in and he’d be back tomorrow to pick them up.

Plumber #2 returned the next day and, surprised to find us still frozen, called in Plumber #3.  He said “Sorry, can’t help you. Here’s our bill.”

By day four of hauling in snow to melt, I was getting a tiny bit cranky.  I gathered up every unread book and magazine I could find and hunkered down in the worn out, over-stuffed chair in my office.  After an hour or so, husband came down.

“Whatcha doin?” he asked.

“I’m in a terrible mood,” I grumbled.  “Better to just leave me alone.”

“Why are you in a bad mood?” He asked with a bright smile on his face.

“Can’t you just leave me alone for a bit?” I pled.  “I’m really, really cranky and, as my dad would say, ‘don’t poke the bear.'”

“But, how is my talking to you poking the bear?  Just tell me why you’re so cranky and then I’ll leave.”

“For one thing, I’m SICK AND TIRED of hauling snow to flush toilets.”

“Whew,” he said.  “Me too.”

Dark spots appeared before my eyes.  “You?” My hands rose of their own volition toward his throat.  “YOU’RE tired of me hauling snow?” I willed my hands away from him and turned them on me, literally stuffing them in my mouth.

The questioning look on Husband’s face changed to terror as he realized he had poked the bear one too many times and he quickly left the room.

The next day, the sun came out and…we still had frozen pipes.  But, the day after that…we still had frozen pipes.  Eventually they did thaw and we spent the rest of our record-breaking-low-temperature winter with the water running in the bathroom sink, day and night.

All this is a long, convoluted way (would the Mayor of Crazie Town do it any other way?) of saying , Citizens of Crazie Town – I’m back and thanks for sticking around!

 

 

 

The Night of the Living Smoke Alarm

It was a rough night.

First, the stupid coffee shop gave me a real latte instead of a decaf. I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling until 1:00 am, vowing over and over to never to consume another latte if, The Sandman would just let me sleep.

Guard dog grade: F

Guard dog grade: F

Then, at 3:00 am, Lola, the seventy-pound chicken/dog, came galloping into the bedroom to try to squeeze her giant body behind the rickety bedside table I’ve been vowing to repair. I roll over in time to catch a lamp before it crashes to the floor.

“There’s a noise in the house,” Husband mutters sleepily and pulls the covers over his head

I don’t know how this ever happened, but in our marriage, I’m the one to go investigate noises. Actually I do know how it happened. One dark and stormy night I heard someone rooting around in the kitchen. I shook him awake and demanded that he go investigate. Instead he rolled over and started snoring. I discovered that the “someone” was a raccoon, but that’s another story.

“What noise?” I ask my now snoring husband.

Then I heard it, a high-pitched BEEP, followed by Lola flinging herself behind the bedside table.

“Hey!” I shook Husband awake, balancing the lamp in my arms. “It’s a smoke alarm.” I slid out of bed, put the lamp back on the table and wrestled into my sleeves-inside-out robe.

I walked down the hallway, listening.

BEEP

“Which one is it?” Husband shouts from the bedroom.

“I don’t know!” I shout back.

He finally gets up and together we wander around the house, pausing under each smoke alarm until we hear the BEEP from the smoke alarm that we are not standing under.

Not actual Husband

Not actual Husband

Husband pinpoints the offender in the dining room but can’t reach it by standing on a chair, so (still in his underwear) out to the garage he goes to retrieve a ladder. He climbs up and takes the battery out. He climbs down and we stumble off to bed.

BEEP

Cursing, Husband climbs back up the ladder to see if he can disconnect it from the electrical wires. He struggles for quite a while and I decide I can help by retrieving the flashlight from the laundry room closet. As soon as I open the door, Lola throws herself on to the bottom shelf of the metal cabinet I put in there. Obviously a three-foot tall dog is not going to fit on a one-foot tall shelf, but this doesn’t stop her from trying. The room is pitch black and she is pitch black and I’m flailing around holding the still-dark flashlight in one hand and trying to grab a body part of hers that will enable me to drag her away from the shelf with the other hand. Then there’s another BEEP, followed by a curse from Husband, followed by Lola redoubling her efforts.

Actual photo of me

Actual photo of me

Eventually I give up and return to the dining room, flipping every light switch along the way. I shine the flashlight at the offending smoke alarm and try to ignore the sound of Lola’s toenails frantically scraping the metal shelf.

Husband still can’t figure out the smoke alarm and asks me to think of where – anywhere – we’d have a nine volt battery we could use. Just as I’ve resigned myself that it will require a trip to an all-night store, I remember there’s a battery in the sprinkler system. Along the way to the garage, Husband stops long enough to drag Lola out of the laundry closet and shut the door.

We spend the next fifteen minutes with Husband at the top of the ladder, trying and failing to insert the battery into the smoke alarm, over and over again.

Meanwhile, Lola is darting from room to room, knocking into chairs, looking for a new place to hide.

At every BEEP I add my opinion.

BEEP “I’m pretty sure the battery goes the other way.”
BEEP “I’m very sure the battery goes the other way.”
BEEP “TRY IT THE OTHER WAY!”

I take a deep breath and turn my head away, vowing not to lose my temper again. I look at the bank of windows behind us and renew my vow from last week, to buy curtains this week.

Then, my focus changes and I see the scene that all my neighbors can see; Husband in his underwear, standing at the top of a ladder, with me shining a spotlight on him.

A Killer New Home

This new house of mine is trying to kill me, but I’m being stoic about it.

I  kept it together, through weeks and weeks of screaming and fights with my contractor, to turn this:
IMG_0236
into this:
IMG_0633

(Okay, maybe not I’m not being exactly stoic, as there were a few  tears the day I almost got killed from the broken gas line and yes, maybe I did tell the contractor to get the @#!$ off my property, but the point is, I survived that part.)

And I kept it together through the weeks and weeks it took me to get from this:
IMG_0648
to this:
Image

But, the morning after my return from England, this new house tried, once again, to do me in.

I awoke early, put the teakettle on and stepped outside on the deck to let the dog out. Rubbing my arms in the cool air, I took a stroll down the stairs to check out the grass we’d planted before we left.  It only took one step for my feet to fly up in front of me and then I’m doing a Winnie The Pooh down the stairs, bump, bump, bump, on the back of my head.

As I lay on the wet ground, my first thought was, “Uh oh. I hit my head.” My second thought was…well, I don’t think there was a second thought, just tears and sobbing — the big kind, where you can’t catch your breath and snot runs uncontrollably out of your nose and you don’t care. With my head resting on a patch of newly grown grass, I watched my un-Lassie-like dog wander happily around the backyard ignoring my pleas for help. I decided, at that very moment, I hated this new house – every unfinished inch of it.

When the damp ground began to seep through my sweater I thought it was time to assess the damage I’d done. I sat up, patted the back of my head and peaked at my fingers. I let out a sigh of relief when they came away free of blood. Not sure if I could, or  should, stand up, I contemplated my next move. Rubbing at the ache in my posterior I discovered I had my cell phone in the back pocket of my jeans. I dialed our home number (yes, I still have a home phone.) When my husband, John, answered, I burst back into my  hiccupping sobs.

“What? What is it? Where are you? What’s going on?”

“Fell,” I bawled.

“Where?”

“Outside,” I snuffled.

“Front or back?”

“B-b-back.”

I’ve never been so happy to see his half-a-shaving-cream-covered face in my life. He helped me up and we worked our way back inside.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” he asked, stepping away from me to let our happy-go-lucky dog back into the house.

I ran into the guest bathroom and blubbered, “I’m fine,” before slamming the door.

I could go into great gushy details about how my husband coaxed me out and tucked me into bed with a nice hot cup of tea, but I won’t — because that’s not what happened. There is nothing more terrifying to my husband than a crying woman, so he returned to his sink to finish shaving.

A few minutes later, as I sat on the floor of the bathroom unrolling yards of toilet paper to keep up with my blubbering, I heard the whistle of the teakettle. Since I knew John would be protected from the kryptonite of my tears by the door, I continued with my mopping up efforts and the teapot screeched on.

Finally, Husband’s voice. “Teresa?”

Unable to answer, I blew my nose loudly.

A timid knock at the door and then he muttered, “Hey…ummmm…err…”

“Yes?” I asked, looking at the doorknob, willing it to turn.

“The teakettle is whistling.”

I will survive this new house, but right this moment, I’m not sure my husband will survive me.

The Unluckiest of Phobias

These are some of the phobias I’m currently cultivating.

C = Claustrophobia- Fear of confined spaces.
R = Rhytiphobia- Fear of getting wrinkles.
A = Arachnophobia- Fear of spiders.
Z = Zemmiphobia- Fear of the great mole rat.
I = Ideophobia- Fear of ideas.
E = Enosiophobia – Fear of having committed an unpardonable sin or of criticism.

T = Triskaidekaphobia- Fear of the number 13.
O = Obesophobia- Fear of gaining weight.
W = Walloonphobia- Fear of the Walloons.
N = Nucleomituphobia- Fear of nuclear weapons.

I know a lot of people that share my more common phobias; claustrophobia and arachnophobia, and most women over the age of fifty have a fear of wrinkles and gaining weight.  All the Catholics in the world probably share my fear of having committed an unpardonable sin and you’d have to be pretty obtuse not to have nucleomituphobia.

Until I wrote this blog post, I didn’t know I was afraid of the Great Mole Rat. Now that I know it exists, I’m definitely afraid of it.

Credit: Buffenstein/Barshop Institute/UTHSCSA

Credit: Buffenstein/Barshop Institute/UTHSCSA

And, in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m not actually afraid of the Walloons. I’m sure they are perfectly nice people, but I needed a W and the only other phobia was Wiccaphobia, the fear of witches and witchcraft. I’m not afraid of witches, as I think I might be one.

Triskaidekaphobia

Triskaidekaphobia

Unbelievably for someone with this many phobias, I’m not the least bit superstitious. I walk under ladders, step on cracks, cross paths with black cats and never blink and eye.  But, the number 13 always causes a little shiver to run down my spine.

And now, what have I gone and done?  Bought a 13-year-old house in the year 2013 with the number 13 in its street address and in its zip code.  This whole messy part of my life started when we rented Apartment #1301 after leaving our last house of, what? That’s right. 13 years.

I’m told (by people who know such things) that thirteen is actually a powerful number and that this house is going to be lucky for me.

I’m sure it was luck when the landscape guy’s shovel hit the unmarked buried telephone line.

What good fortune it was, to have the wrong colored tile installed in the bottom five rows of the backsplash.

Lady Luck really must have enjoyed that trick, because when the wall of tile was torn down and reinstalled, I had five rows of wrong colored tile at the top.

And, how lucky we were when the stump grinder hit the sprinkler system – seven times.

Lucky when the cook top installer split the gas line and filled our floor joists with explosive fumes.

I was charmed when the morning of our move-in, we discovered that after buffing, the floor stain had been removed from the edge of every board creating an interesting striped effect.

Or, favored when the special order pendant lights arrived with three different finishes.

And it had to be a stroke of good fortune that the countertop was cut in such a way that we would not have to pay the expense of installing an exhaust fan.

If anyone knows a way to remove this jinx from my life, I’d love to hear what I could do, before the number of mishaps reaches 13.

Crazy is as Crazie Does

Good health gone bad

Good health gone bad

This is how I started my day – with liquified spinach exploding from my blender and spraying all over my kitchen walls.

Even though I’m tempted (by the turmoil in my life) to eat cases of Snickers bars, I’ve made a commitment to stick with healthy eating which means I start the day choking down enjoying a protein shake.

My life has been topsy-turvey pretty much since… well, since January, when we put our house on the market and sold it the same day. I know, I know. That should be a good thing. And, really, it is. But, along with the good, comes all the bad.  Sorting years of crap, selling years of crap and packing up the rest of our crap.

Then we spent six months in a tiny apartment that had some kind of weird Karma. I’m not kidding. My big, lazy dog, Lola, would be snoring away on the living room rug, then suddenly jump up with a yelp, and run away to hide in the bathroom with her tail between her legs. I kind of new-agey, so I purchased a Smudge Stick at Whole Foods and came home and waved it through the rooms, paying special attention to the corners as advised.  And even though it stank to high heaven, I did this at least once a week, which did seem to help for a while, but the next day I’d find Lola quivering in the bathroom again.

Then we found a house and started work on remodeling it into our (well, my) dream home. And even though every person I know warned me it would be awful, it turned out to be a bigger deal than I ever imagined. I’m trying to stay organized but when I tried to look for a pair – any pair – of reading glasses in my purse, this is what I found.

IMG_04201. The first third of the world’s longest receipt from Walgreens, where I purchased two items.
2. A gas receipt for $65.13 (18.40 gallons of gas.  My car readout said I had 12 miles left before I ran out.)
3. The business card from the woman at Capitol Federal who helped me cash in sixty-two $25 savings bonds from my Aunt Kathleen’s estate that I carried around for two weeks in my purse.
4. One of the hundreds of receipts I have for Home Depot.
5. Every pair of my reading glasses.
6. Receipt for my, now daily, mini chocolate shake from Freddy’s.

IMG_04217. Middle third of world’s longest receipt.
8. An inkjet cartridge that I’ve been toting around since March, waiting to be dropped off to be refilled.
9. Receipt from Restoration Hardware for a can of the only kind of white paint I like and therefore was willing to drive 30 minutes to the Plaza to pick up. I frantically purchased said paint, when I found out I had one day to paint all the baseboards in my house before the floors were done.
10. A mostly broken pair of headphones that I use because my bluetooth system in my car (that I insisted I needed) doesn’t work right.
11. My snack bag I carry around to keep me from eating unhealthy food. (It’s filled with bacon.)

IMG_042212. Bottom third of world’s longest receipt.
13. Receipt from dry cleaners where I left with two heaping handfuls of their free Tootsie Rolls.
14. A note with the number of electrical covers to replace at the new house. The switches and outlets are white, but the covers are tan. Not going to work with my OCD.
15. Phillips and flathead screwdriver to install said covers, if and when they are ever purchased.
16. Note to buy olive oil – which is used on princess dog’s food.
17. Flyer for alterations – needed after daily intake of mini chocolate shakes.

Math is Hard [insert whining voice]

This One is Too Small

This One is Too Small

After several horrible months in our teeny-tiny apartment, we have finally purchased a home.

Because I’m not confident of my ability to make any logical decisions right now — for example; I took the inheritance I received from my father and purchased a black hole of problems in a vintage camper — I hired a design company to help me with the remodel.

Even though, I’m pretty confident I could have made this

IMG_0236

Into this:
IMG_0292
And this:
IMG_0264
Into this:
IMG_0293
I could never go any further with the plan.

Not only does the design team supervise the demo and construction, they also help with the decorating.

To assist them with their plan, I had the contents of one of our storage units, (the one that held all our furniture) delivered to the new house. I instructed the moving crew to line my items up in such a way that the design team could view all of my precious possessions  — like the coffee table made from an old wooden hardware cabinet or the eight foot tall antique secretary given to me by my mother-in-law — and then they could decide what was worth keeping and what should be relegated to the basement.

Turns out, none of my junk worldly goods are going to fit into the new hip, modern, design. Really? Not even the rusted head of a broken sledge hammer I kept in our living room? So much for the tiny thread of hope I held that I had good taste.

The one thing the design team loved and said they planned to put over the mantle in the hearth room, is this painting – which they called. Portrait of a Man.

Portrait of a Man

Portrait of a Man

I love Portrait of a Man, because it was painted by our son (my step-son) and  because it is a picture of our other son (my birth son). However, I don’t display this picture in a place of prominence because, our two daughters (my step-daughters) might be offended by a large exhibition of “my” son.

So, for years, Portrait of a Man has lived in my basement  because of all the agitation it could cause in our blended family.

Being a step-parent is a delicate operation and I work hard to balance our out-of-balance family.  Photos around the house are counted and re-counted. A picture of Husband with his son should be balanced out with a picture of Husband with my son.  A picture of me with step-daughter’s kids should be balanced out with a picture of me with my son’s child.  Christmas is a mathematical nightmare.  Do I use the number of presents as an equalizer? Or is it the amount spent on the present?

If I apply my blended family calculations to Portrait of a Man, and with the following givens:

(a) = painted by step-son

(b) = picture of my birth son

(c) = does not include step-daughters

(d) = no good will come from this

Then, (a + b) might equal zero. But, I’m pretty certain (a + b) – (c) =  (d)

Explaining these calculations to my friend, Kerry, she posed a question I’d never asked myself. “Do you really think your grown kids give a damn?”

Is that (f) in the equation?  Dang. Math is hard.