...because everything is funny when it's happening to someone else!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Well, of COURSE there's termites!

As you can tell my the post title, the Taj MaHell just keeps on givin' the love!  Sainted Singing Plumber waved me over Monday and pointed out a termite column going up the brick foundation.  Before he re-floors the bathroom, the Termite Dude has to come whip some munching insect butt.


$1109 for the treatment and preventive measures against future house-nomming termites.

THAT was not in the budget.

Oh wait...there was a budget?!

Anyway...just another setback on the road to fabulousness.  The good news is, the local pest control peeps are going to take care of it tomorrow, so the Sainted Singing Plumber doesn't have to leave the floor out and invite Who-knows-what to move in to the house while we're not looking.  "Oh, hey!  A skunk in my shoe!"

We're back on Gilligan's Island and trying to coordinate Termite Annihilation from 200 miles away, but it'll get done. 

And best of all...this weekend is HALLOWEEN.  HALLO-FRICKIN-WEEN!  My favorite holiday, because all my adult life, the 'Ween is the only fun time of the year I didn't have to pack up and head home from wherever my gypsy butt was camped at the time.  Since we moved to Gilligan's Island, our house has become the grown-up Halloween destination.  We live on a tiny island that is very safe and quiet.  Our house is on a circle, so the parents come by and sit on the porch for a drink while the kids walk around the circle, then come back for the parents.  You can do the whole trick-or-treat thing on foot (or golf cart, if you roll like that).  Tank's going to be a pirate this year, if I can make him wear a costume.  I have great photos of his second Halloween, half in and half out of a costume, red-faced and screaming.  Kodak moments, people.

Ah, well.  Time to get back to the grind.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Well, hi there!
I have a few updates and I will start with the most important:  Josh's lymphoma is the "good" kind, with a 90% success rate.  YESSSSSSS!  Please keep him and his family in your thoughts and prayers, since the wonderful survival rate is only part of the story...he still has a tough time ahead.  Today, Josh had surgery to place his chemo device in his chest.  He's doing well and we're all pulling for him.  Go, Joshua!

In the face of what my friends are enduring, work on the Taj is pretty insignificant.  I am lucky to be fighting unwieldy bathroom vanities and budgetary concerns...and I know it. 

We are making progress, though.  We decided to go with the less-expensive fiberglass tub and shower combo, instead of buying a tub and tiling above it.  Time constraints and inexperience convinced us to take the simpler route.  We found one we liked at Lowe's and bought it, along with some tile that was on sale.  I couldn't find a good photo of what we got (Aqua Glass Eleganza set), but I did find these images:

You can't really tell much from the pics, but the shower surround has molding around the top that dresses it up a little.  It was $50 more than the plain-Jane versions, but if you're going to be staring at it while you soap up and rinse off, you might as well like the view.

More news to report, but that will have to wait, as Shawn has demanded brownies.  And I want some, too!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Not that anybody deserves to be where my friends Al and Trish are right now, but I can't think of many people who LESS deserve it.

Al and Trish's son Joshua was just diagnosed with lymphoma...we don't know the type yet, so details are sketchy.  Josh is a real trouper and he's holding up very well...teenage boy and all that.  He's a bright (101.4 average at a tough private school), devout young man who has never known a day without the love and support of a truly amazing family. 

I sat next to Trish at choir tonight and she wept quietly while we sang songs of praise.  Every once in a while, I could hear her voice, always soft but now more faint than ever, breathing out words that were as much a prayer as a song.  Every time she is quiet and still, I am sure her mind goes to a place she would rather not visit.

She's taking her oldest child to a reproductive specialist tomorrow to have sperm frozen.  Just in case Josh's treatment prevents him from being able to conceive a child years from now.  Trish tries to laugh when she says, "We're savin' grandbabies."  She's not very convincing, not when you see that she cried her mascara off about 12 hours ago.

Please pray for Josh and for his family.  Pray a prayer that I'm sure they never imagined praying:  Please let this be the good kind of lymphoma.

Please let Josh kick this thing's butt.  And go on to live a beautiful life and give his mama lots of grandbabies!

JOSHUA:  Hebrew, "God rescues."

Wallace Coming Out of My Gromits

Just a quick note to report that I am still sane.  Okay, "sane-ish."

The thread of my sanity was saved when Tank allowed me to take "Veggie Tales' Ultimate Silly Song Countdown" out of the DVD player and replace it with Wallace & Gromit.

If he ever starts to talk, it'll  probably be with a British accent, but I think I can handle that better than repeated renditions of "The Hairbrush Song."

At least Wallace and Gromit throw in some humor for the grown-ups from time to time.  I always crack up in "Curse of the Wererabbit" when the constable says it was "a case of arson...someone arsin' around!"

"Well done, lad!"

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dude, Where's My Floor?!

Well, the Taj continues to surprise, what with its little quirks and idiosyncracies and....what's the word I'm searching for?  Oh, yeah...the house is nutballs.

The plumber, who has yet to be nicknamed because he may in fact be too amazing for a nickname and may instead just get a halo, came by on Saturday to go over a couple things.  He's thinking he can start later this week, but he needed the floor out of the master bath.  He quoted us $250 to take out the floor and remove the debris.  Like an out-of-body experience, I heard me say to the guy, "No problem."  Inside my head there was that cavernous echo from horror movies, so it sounded more like, "Noooooo proooohhhhhbleeeeemmmmmmm."  And then there was demonic laughter from somewhere.

Fabulous Niece Rebecca agreed to stay at Uncle Todd's Cabin while Michael napped and so Sunday afternoon, I got to swinging the sledgehammer.  Given that the floor was already falling apart, I thought this job would be easy-peasy.  Oh, SO not true!  There were four layers to take up...2 layers of vinyl flooring, then a layer of crumbly pressboard-type stuff, then a thin layer of plywood.  It was a huge mess and most of it came up in about 6-onch sections, which meant many, many trips to the curb with the world's tiniest wheelbarrow.  And spiders!  (You have to say it like an old Jewish woman in New York...SHPEYDUHS!)  Egads, there were spiders and crickets and quite possibly dead bodies, but I was not about to go spelunking under there to see.

In the end, I only got the floor completely off the main part of the bathroom.  The smaller room to the left, that had previously housed the toilet and shower, still has the plywood, but the other 3 layers are gone.  And the toilet is gone.  THAT was a job for one tired chick on her own!  The toilet is now sitting in the middle of the master bedroom floor, because that is the precise spot I was standing in when I decided I couldn't carry a toilet another step:
Gives new meaning to "en suite" doesn't it?

Well, I didn't get it all done, but I got most of it, so I guess we'll save some of the $250.  We'll have to cut more elsewhere.  The good news is, we're all going back to the Taj this weekend, so maybe Shawn and I can get more done.

In the meantime, here's the bathroom, waiting for the plumbers to come and move EVERY SINGLE FIXTURE:

We're making progress.  I have to remind myself of that.  Sometimes it just has to get worse before it gets better....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Taj -- Now With More Flushing!

We have WATER!


You have no idea how huge this is!  This afternoon, the fabulous Diamond Dave (Farm Maven's hubby) came by the Taj and helped (and by 'helped' I mean pretty much single-handedly) install the toilet.  I had to run around a bit and tighten the caps on the old sink lines and the old shower has a steady drip, but everything went very well.  I have a bucket under the old shower head and the plumber should be able to start soon, so bye-bye old shower, anyway.

I could have CRIED, I was so happy to have running water again.  I've been hesitant to tackle skim-coating or painting without cleanup capabilities.  Now, things look more do-able.

The new vanity has been shimmed into place, but I still need a small 1 1/2" PVC extender to hook up the drain line.  It's not the look I necessarily wanted (I still mourn the loss of the fabulous Kohler pedestal sink), but it will be a functional bathroom for Tank and for guests.  THANK GOD.  Honestly, there were moments (many) when I didn't think I'd make it.

But all the news isn't sunshine and roses.  The Farm Maven and Co.suffered a significant blow to the funding for their second adoption when an unexpectedly high tax bill arrived.  It's really sickening to know that almost half your income goes to fund the lifestyles of those who won't work and that's why you work your tail off and you STILL barely make it.  Don't get me wrong, I know that there are many deserving recipients of government funds out there...I just think those folks are outnumbered by the ones who cheat the system simply because they don't want to work.  And now a child waits even longer for a loving family, so that another family can sit on their arses.  It just isn't fair.

Why I Should Buy Stock in Excedrin

It's going to be a good day.

If I tell myself that enough times, will it happen?

Yesterday was a challenge for me. Tank pushed my buttons in a BIG way and I reacted. By the time I put him to bed last night, it was all over and done and we had a good quiet-down time together, with prayers and teeth-brushing. As I went to bed myself a couple of hours later, I said aloud, "This day is over. Tomorrow is a different day, not a continuation of this one."

In addition to the challenges of single-parenting Tank while we're out of town, there are all the challenges of working the adoption agency job with a portable wireless system that tends to blink on and off at the worst possible times. And yesterday I had to deal with a VERY difficult prospective adoptive mom. She's one of those controlling types who thinks that the only reason the agency does things a certain way is because she hasn't shown us a better way. Sadly, the oftentimes bulky, inefficient way we operate is the best possible option, discovered after many, many trials and errors working with governments overseas. But Dr. Heifer, as she is known to me, refuses to follow the instructions we provide and instead strikes out on her own, gaily calling back over her shoulder that she knows a better way to get this done....and then she bombs. And when she bombs, she blames...ME. The very adoption consultant she wouldn't listen to in the first place. It's not just me; I spoke with one of our Admin Assistants yesterday and she's been getting the same treatment from Dr. Heifer. At the end of the day, it's not about us all getting along, holding hands and singing "Kum-Ba-Ya" as the sun slips over the flower-strewn hills. It's about bringing an orphan to a loving family. I try to remember that. But then I think about how this woman must be as a mother and I wonder if we're doing this kid any favors.

I did come up this weekend to work on the Taj, but not a lot has happened as of yet. Two trips to Home Depot yesterday (the secon trip was when Tank sprawled out in the floor and screamed bloody murder because I made him leave the door mock-up section). I spoke with the plumber dude and he is dropping off what promises to be a jaw-dropping estimate this morning. Oh, and the tankless water heater arrived (thanks, Farm Maven, for being my storage facility). I bought some shims at HD and slid them under the front of the vanity and voila! It works much better with a bit of shimming! I think I'll trim the shims up today and finish installing the drain line. Diamond Dave has graciously offered to help me install the 125-lb toilet that Shawn just HAD to have. The goal is to--come hell or high water--leave here this trip with running water. Maybe I shouldn't have said "come hell or high water", huh?

Oh, well.

More later....

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Occupy the Taj Movement

I read this morning that the Occupy Wall Street protesters got a reprieve when they began cleaning up their own mess, so that the city of NY didn't have to shoo them all away and clean up for them. Am I the only person who thinks this whole mess is stupid? After a day or so, I haven't even paid attention to the news reminders that this "movement" is on-going. I look at the headlines, see something about the Occupy folks and go, "Meh" and move on.

The last time anything political was accomplished by sitting still, it was Rosa Parks. These peeps aren't Rosa Parks.

Well, at least they're sweeping up the fast-food wrappers and tags from their brand-new Birkenstocks, so the rest of the world can squeeze past them and get to work. Incidentally, even if I thought parking my big butt down on property owned by someone else was going to serve any purpose, I don't have the TIME. Because I have TWO JOBS. So that I can pay my bills and not have to cry to Diane Sawyer about how this country has failed me, because I can't afford cable TV and cigarettes. Y'all keep up your "protest"--I'll keep paying for your kids to go to school free, eat free and get free health care.

Argh. Enough of that.

Michael and I arrived in Mayberry yesterday evening and had supper with the Farm Maven and her brood. Rebecca had spent the day volunteering at the Mayberry Munchkin Farm, a small private school near their home. She enjoys grading papers and helping the teacher and reports that the kids are all sweet and cute. Sounds like she inherited her mother's teaching gene. Me, I no gots it. I don't learn well by verbal instruction; I learn by physically performing a task. The byproduct of that is that I don't explain things worth diddly. Also, I tend to make up my own words for things, which is why taking me to a tool store is an adventure. "I need one of those things that goes on the end of the drill and looks like a biscuit cutter." The guy begins looking for the items you'd use to actually make a biscuit joint, but what I'm talking about is a hole saw bit. To me, it looks like what Mama used to cut out biscuits. Sometimes, being me is a lot like traveling in a foreign country. I am forever being misunderstood, misunderstanding those around me and generally embarrassing myself.

I haven't ventured over to the Taj yet, but once Tank wakes up and gets his daily dose of Wallace and Gromit, I guess we'll check in. Need to call the plumber dudes, too. Busy day, but without busy days, nothing gets done.

Right, Occupy protesters?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My Hopes Are Sinking

It's been a bit since my last post.  There's a reason for that:  I've been trying to formulate a post without using creative profanity.

See, the THIRD sink fits in the hallway bath, but it's not a great look.  Because the bottom tiles on the wall are coved, the vanity won't fit flush next to the wall and leaves a gap at the top, which shows the holes made when we un-mounted (dismounted?!) the old pedestal sink.  Should we cut a curve into the bottom of the vanity to make it fit better?  Re-do the tiles with holes in them to make the wall look better?

Or just down the World's Largest Margarita and forget the whole thing?

(Guess which one I'm advocating?)

Anyway...since I'm never one to leave well enough alone, I am heading back to the Taj on Thursday with Tank and I'll do some rear-end scratching and thinking and see what I can come up with.

I'm also going to look into skim-coating the plaster walls, since the estimate to drywall over them caused my spleen to exit my body.  (Spleen, come back...all is forgiven)

Okay, then...I'm off to do online research into skim-coating.  Hope your projects are going more smoothly than mine....

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I Tiled!

Hey there, mah peeps.

I did something today I've never done before.  No, I didn't cook a meal...ha, ha..you think you're SO funny.


So, you remember the gaping hole where the old gas heater used to be?

Okay, so last night, I carefully removed the partial tiles around the perimeter of the hole, that had been cut to fit around the heater.  I was left with this:

Attractive, yes?!  Um...NO.
But then I got to work.  Diamond Dave had some leftover green board from a tiling project for the Farm Maven, so I happily snatched up a scrap piece and some scrap lumber from his barn project.  The scrap lumber I made into cleats, one of which you can see in the picture above.  I needed the cleats to have something to screw the green  board to.

Home Depot sells individual 4x4inch tiles for $0.16 each.  I needed 25, which was only $4.  Sadly, the ancient tiles were just a WEE bit smaller, so each and every tile had to be carefully filed on the edges to make it all fit:

Yes, I DO have pink work gloves.  You got something to say about that?!

Well, after the filing was done and the backerboard put up, I got covered in mastic, so I didn't use the camera again.  (These one-woman operations leave a lot to be desired).  I did take a pic after I got the tiles up:

Another view....

Once they are good and set, I will grout them and give them a shot of the same epoxy that I put on the old tiles, to get them to match.  Ignore the funky holes above the sink connections...the new sink (if it fits!) should pretty much cover them.

It's not perfect by a long shot, but I was really proud of my first tile attempt.  I hope the tiles are still on the wall tomorrow!

Well, that's about it and I'm about done in.  Going to rest my poor tired hands...that filing was not fun!

Hope you have a great night!


The Tankster and I made the long drive to Mayberry yesterday afternoon.  We finally located a plumber who's willing to jump in and do all the Taj master bath fixture-moving, and there are a few things I need to do ahead of his arrival.

In other news, I'm still clutching my chest and stumbling around like Fred Sanford after getting the plumbing quote.  (Fred Sanford was this character in a show called "Sanford and Son" that was on in the late 70's and....oh, forget about it.  If you don't know who it is, my wrinkles are older than you are).

I shared my bloggin' with neighbor PJ back on Gilligan's Island and she sent me this link.  It's a good illustration of the way male and female brains work.  I have to admit, I'm siding with the male on this one.  Thanks, PJ!


More news and photos later, hopefully, once Tank wakes up and we get going.  In the meantime, I am sucking down coffee and hoping to get a LOT done!
Toodles.  Plus oodles of noodles.