30 July 2006


Fireplace and reading room with old floor

Fireplace and reading room while they are still working

Fireplace and reading room after mom & the dog have gotten comfortable with the new floor & rug!

TV space & cool front window with the old floor

TV space and cool front window with the new floor & rug

When I look at these pictures in the preview mode of blogger, I realize it's hard to see the difference in colors between the floors. The old floor was very light and didn't look very much like "wood"; this is more rich & cherry-stained with more realistic graining and wood color variations. Maybe this photo shows it best, although I didn't copy over a similar one of the 'before':

Entry to the house with the new, darker floor

I'm thrilled with it :) I'm still mad at Home Depot for making me wait two months for it without any communication, but I'm happy that it's finally in. The installers that Home Depot subcontracted did a great job & were very professional, and that part, at least, went great.

29 July 2006

I have a Floor!!!!

Without some photographic explanation, you will not understand how excited I am about having my new floor installed. Therefore, I open with the part that makes you say, "And you paid money for that house?!" Yes, the floor was a mess. The previous owner had installed it in hopes that it would gussy up the place for sale. Bummer that -- should have actually followed the installation instructions. (The empty boxes are there to keep the dog's paws & my toes from getting pinched between the pieces of laminate. Nice, eh?)

I won't go into the specifics of the problems, but suffice it to say that the floor was a mess. Not only that, but it was ... cheap. The seller did offer to have it repaired, but I said oh no, you just discount the house & then I can install what *I* want. So that's how it happened that I've been waiting since the end of May to have a floor.

On Friday morning, the guys from Sunshine Flooring -- subcontractors for Home Depot -- showed up to rip out the nasty, cheap laminate and install my pretty new floor (still laminate, but pretty and definitely not cheap). I was at work during this segment of the festivities, but mom reports that they had a jolly old time tearing it out.

What you really want to know is, is the new stuff beautiful?? Well, of course it is. More pix to come.

25 July 2006

Floor update

The delivery dude for Home Depot showed up with a load of flooring on Saturday morning. (Not exactly between noon and dark, but I'm ok with it because it's HERE!) Unfortunately, it looked as if part of the delivery had not arrived.

I called Monday to find out about the missing stuff and scheduling the install, and I got more run-around: "Well, we can't even think about scheduling installation until we know you have everything. But the person who is in charge of deliveries is busy loading a truck so I will have to call you back." (sigh) No one called on Monday.

However, apparently on Tuesday morning they called mom (she thinks they like her local phone number better than my metro-Phoenix area code) to talk about the delivery and convince 'me' that I got everything. It's all there, inside those boxes somewhere, they assured mom.

So she had to come over to the house to look. Part of it she found, and part she did not find so she called them back -- and they hung up on her three times. This, of course, made her very, very happy, and she stormed off to the store to speak to a human. At the store, a human showed her what the 'missing' parts looked like, and yes, of course they were all mixed in with other parts that looked just like them.

So, with everything confirmed, mom managed to get a human being to actualy commit to coming to the house on Friday to rip out this nasty mess of improperly installed (by the previous owner) cheap flooring and come back Saturday to install my gorgeous new, sweet-looking floor.

Believe it? I guess we will find out this weekend!

21 July 2006

Let's get ready to Roooomba!!

The dog thinks it is a scary space alien, but I find the Roomba just way too much fun. How can you not love a vacuum cleaner that 1) works by itself while you play comptuer games, paint the bedroom, sew a table skirt, create a scrapbook page, play with the dog, etc., and 2) Even gets underneath the furniture where the icky bugs and dust bunnies hide??

So far so good on the picking up dog hair, etc.; I did already empty the cassette twice but in fairness to the machine, it's (ahem) been a while since I vacuumed in here.

By the way, there is news on the new flooring front: It's supposed to be delivered tomorrow "between noon and dark." No word on installation, but since the flooring has to sit & stew in my typically humid Houston-area home for at least 72 hours, I can still hope to have a new floor sometime next week -- and maybe to unpack all the living/dining room boxes before August (maybe). [Note in lower picture of Roomba under the furniture that it is still wrapped in plastic, waiting for the new floor before we unwrap.]

One of these days I need to remember to take some pictures of the bad spots on the old floor. Not sure how I'm gonna do that, but it needs doing.

20 July 2006

Woot! It's a Roomba!

OK, I was wandering around the Houston Chronicle website the other day and stumbled across a tech blog that talked about a website called Woot. Best I can describe it is "think Fry's Electronics with only one item per day."

Anyway, the item for that day was a Roomba. It's a little robotic vacuum thing that -- as with Woot, I've heard about, read about and considered but never bought. Well, what caught my attention this time were two reviews of the thing: One said it's great for people with dogs because it picked up dog hair like mad. The other said it's great for hardwood and laminate floors. I got that.... And the price was right... so I Wooted!

My Roomba arrived today and because it's electronic you know the drill: Plug it in for XX hours before first use. So it's charging. Tomorrow before I go to work, I get to see if it makes the dog totally nuts. Oh and also whether it does a good job of cleaning.

17 July 2006

Pix of the Renovation!


Master Bedroom, looking toward Master Bathroom
The "after" wall color is more correct on the photos below. You know how the camera flash & other stuff affects the color of the image...


Master Bedroom looking away from the Master Bathroom
(what you can't see in the "before" photo are the spots where the home seller tried to 'touch up' the walls to cover nail holes... with the wrong color paint.)

.. ..
Master Bathroom

New draperies (sorry, I didn't take any Before photos but they were PINK -- EEK!)
Master Bathroom..............Master Bedroom

Mom on ladder, sponge-painting the bathroom

Stuff before I paint

I have one more small section of painting to finish (up in the soffit, ugh!), but before I do that, I just need to clear my brain a bit:

-- I don't understand why everybody is so annoyed with iTunes. I have it, and I listen to music purchased through iTunes all the time, in my car even. One way to do this is the way that Apple most wishes us to do so: buy an iPod. I have one and an FM transmitter gizmo that lets me listen to music through my normal car radio. The transmittter works better in the Mini than it did in the Camaro, either because of the location of the antenna or the age of the vehicle... Anyway, I could also buy an adapter for my car radio to plug the iPod right in as if it were a multi-CD box, but since the FM transmitter works great, I haven't bothered to do that -- yet. Another way to listen to my iTunes-purchased music in my car is -- duh -- burn a CD. That would make it just like every other music-purchase service on the planet. If I prefered to use some other means of listening to my music -- say, some off-brand mp3 player, I could even (gasp) rip the CD I burned from iTunes, and have perfectly usable mp3 files. Some wag will suggest that they can tell the difference between first- and second-generation copies of the music. I say those people who can tell the difference probably are not shopping on iTunes to get music all squished by Apple's proprietary compression scheme. So can someone explain what's the fuss here?

-- The US Surgeon General has finally noted something that children of smokers have known since forever: second-hand smoke makes people sick. Oh, and I saw another smoking-related story today about how quitting smoking can relieve symptoms of asthma. I'm sorry but I don't see how this could possibly be news to anyone. What I really want to know is, we have a dangerous DRUG that obviously harms people's health, and yet, we do not include it on our list of controlled substances. I don't get it. No, I do get it, but to me, the arguments for keeping cigarettes legal are very much the same as the ones for letting illegal aliens stay in the US: It would be too hard to stop it now that it's happening, so we will just talk about it a lot and hope it goes away. Right.

-- CNN Money says The Woodlands, TX, is #73 in the Best Places to Live. Their #1 choice, some place in Colorado, has crime statistics suggesting that just thinking about the city gets you robbed. How is that good?? Apparently people are willing to have a high likelihood of becoming a crime statistic, in return for a 15-minute commute. I don't get it, myself.

-- When I am done with this last dab of painting, I would like to go see Johnny Depp prance around in a pirate costume. Who's with me??

16 July 2006

Paint and microwaves (no, not together)

In the master bedroom, Wall #1, behind the bed, is the colored wall -- blue. It's done and looks fabulous. Covering up the small section of Granite was no problem. The other walls will be the same color as the background color of the master bath walls (yellowish), and I should get a couple of those done today. Maybe all, but...

This house is perfect for me because it has a very small kitchen. To me, 'kitchen' is wasted square footage. When I was looking at new construction, I joked with a builder about whether he had any floor plans with no kitchen, just a microwave built in to the TV cabinet somewhere. He said I was not the first person to ask for something like that, but the problem is that mortgage companies are weird about 'resale' and don't think there's a big enough market for homes with no kitchen. Go figure.

Anyway, the stupid microwave that came with the house is officially non-working. Oh, it pretends to work. Lights come on, it makes noise, the turntable turns, but ain't no cookin' being done. Last night for dinner I made one of my famous Marie Callendar Chicken Pot pies. They are a staple of my diet for more than 10 years I think, and so it's like rote to hit the 5 min button, then eat. Last night after five mins my pie was still frozen in the middle. After 7 it was barely thawed. This morning, my warmed up coffee is almost warm-ish so I've made another whole pot of hot, fresh coffee.


The annoying thing is that the home warranty thing that the seller bought among the various closing goodies covers microwaves -- but only built-ins. Apparently the built-in one long since expired, and the one left behind is just a countertop model crammed in the built-in space.

Now the crazy part. Microwaves are like $50. (OK, microwaves that will last longer than the 45 days I've been in the house are more than that.) And I don't cook. But I got spoiled when I was in NY because the ex won a GE Advantium in some online contest. The Advantium is a combination convection(?)/microwave thing that make the most perfect chicken pot pies you can ever have. Naturally, the Advantium costs more than $50. The only thing that might save me some money here is the fact that I think the Advantium is too wide for the built-in space. I'll have to go look at them today. I don't mind pulling my dinner from the freezer every day but I do prefer to warm it up a bit first.

15 July 2006

No Floor; No Surprise

No reader who has ever done home improvements will be surprised to hear that the floor did not arrive on Friday. Nor will it be a surprise that as of Thursday afternoon, it had not yet left the warehouse. (sigh) Maybe, they say, next Friday? I am hoping to have it before Christmas, but I'm not holding my breath. Meanwhile, the dog thinks the gaps in the existing floor are great places to hide her toys.

The bathroom looks GREAT, which means I suppose I should get off my butt and figure out how to re-size pictures on the Mac. Or install the new hard drive in the PC, but that just seems like so much frustration (reloading the OS? EEK! ) when I still have a whole room to paint. I may try to do that later after I get a coat of some paint on the wall in there.

Off to paint. There's a story about Lowe's "Granite" paint but I'll just summarize it by saying if you are not 100% sure you want it on your wall, don't do it, because once it's there, it is never coming off. Well, I *was* 100% sure, but then when I saw it... well, you know. At least I only did a small section up on the corner of the soffit. I am hoping the new normal paint will cover or that the shadows in the soffit will sort of make you wonder exactly what DID happen up there...

10 July 2006

Did I say rag rolling?

We tried it, and we didn't like the way it looked. So we sponged instead. It's a lot of work but it looks soooo much better!

We also didn't finish the bathroom, but we can see the end of the tunnel.

Now, there's a story about the floor. It's bad. The first time I came into the house I said "No, not this house. The floor is a mess, and I hate the wallpaper in the bathroom." But Mom can see past these things and realized that the house, itself was ok, and we could do these little cosmetic projects like painting walls, planting some flowers, and installing a new floor. So the old improperly installed laminate was slated to go away. We visited the flooring folks at Home Depot and Lowe's. At Lowe's, the flooring guy was too busy chatting with a fellow employee and their flooring samples were inadequate for our needs. At Home Depot, the flooring guy knew the difference between different laminates, explained why this one is $x per square foot and that one is $X+Y, and basically sold me on his ability to do Customer Service.

Stupid me.

This occurred some six weeks ago, in the last week of May, when I closed on the house and the flooring that we thought we might be able to simply 'repair' was clearly irreparable. Home Depot sent a guy right out, measured, gave me an estimate near what I expected (slightly more than the discount the home-seller gave us for repairing the icky floor), and I said 'do it.' A day later, they called to say the floor had to be back-ordered so it might be 4-6 weeks. Would that be ok?

A smart person would have seen the writing on the wall... But no. I said no worries, and started counting the weeks. At four weeks, June 26, I called and they said the estimated delivery date was July 3. Woohoo! I was excited to get the now really messed up floor outta here. But no. I called on July 3, and mysteriously the estimated delivery date had been moved to July 9. No worries, that would be six weeks...

Called today, July 10, to find out what's up. "Uh," says the Home Depot flooring guy, "the computer says it's supposed to be here yesterday. Since we don't take deliveries on Sundays it should be here any day now."

"Here's the deal, Sparky." I replied. "You guys have been putting me off for two weeks already with your 'should be' nonsense. This time you are going to find out exactly where my floor is and when it's coming to my house, ok?"

"Uh... it's going to take me a while to track it down. I'll call you back."

Unbelievably, he did. "Uh, here's the deal," said Sparky the Floor Guy. "We got six cases of the flooring on Thursday but the other 30-something are missing, so we are going to have to re-order. I think we can have it by Friday."

(Go ahead and do the math: I have been waiting for this special, back-ordered floor for six weeks but now if they order it on Monday, they can get it by Friday...)

"OK, once again, Sparky buddy, I'm not paying for 'thinking' here. What I want to know is, when will the floor be in my house?" [For those not familiar with laminates, the stuff has to sit in your house to acclimate for 3 days before they install it, so it gets all humidified and doesn't buckle when it retains moisture later. Thus, delivery + at least 3 days is when I get a new floor, assuming they can rip out the old crap and install the new in one day.]

"Well, if it comes on Friday, and you know it could get lost again, but if it comes on Friday then we can schedule the delivery, but it would take a special OK to get it delivered on the weekend, and I can't authorize that."

"Well, Sparky, I'm in a feisty mood so how about you put me on the phone with someone who CAN authorize a weekend delivery?"

(Hold music...) "Hi, this is Teresa. Sparky filled me in on some basics about your floor. We're going to re-order it and then it could be here as early as Friday. Then we can schedule a delivery and installation ok?"

"Well, Teresa, here's my problem. I'm guessing that if the floor arrives on Friday you aren't going to be able to turn it around and get it to my house until, what, Monday? or later?"

"Uh, yeah kinda. Well, you know we can't really schedule a delivery until we have the product in."

"I do understand that Teresa, ol' pal. Here's what I want you to know. You knew on Thursday -- that is, three days ago, that you did't get all the flooring in. But it didn't occur to anybody in the store to re-order the missing stuff until I called to ask you where the heck is my floor. So I hope you can understand I'm a bit upset about your level of customer service, first of all for not calling me on Thursday to let me know part of it was in, and second for not immediately ordering it so it could get here sooner. Are you getting this?"

"Um well see, when orders come in, they get checked and then if it's just a partial order it goes in a bin and ..."

"Teresa, hon, you're not hearing me. I don't care how it works. I do care about communication with a customer who has spent $10k in your store in the last month and needs to still do a lot more work on her new 15-year-old house. Does this mean anything to you?"

"Sure. We will call you when the flooring comes in, which is what we would have done when it all came in, anyway."

"OK, you're still not hearing me on the 'when it comes in' thing. See, if it doesn't come in Friday, you had better be on the phone to me, telling me that you are tracking its GPS coordinates, and you know exactly when it will arrive there and, based on that, when you can deliver it to my house. Does this sound reasonable to you?"

"So you want someone to call you on Friday?"


But no, that's not all...

Several hours later, I get another Home Depot call. I think this is the person who took the initial order: "Hi, I just got back into the office after being away for a week and a half, and I see on your file that you wanted someone to call you."

(sigh) I run through the situation, including the two initial calls when I was told two different delivery dates. Then I learn the real kicker of the story:

"Well, we got the flooring in a couple of weeks ago, but it was the wrong color so we had to re-order it."

"I don't suppose it occurred to anybody at that time to call and let me know."

"I don't see anything on the file saying we did that."

"No, I know you didn't. In fact, not only did you not call and tell me it was delayed, but the two bozos that I spoke to on June 26 and July 3 lied about the delivery date."

"Well, we don't usually track this sort of thing. See, we just schedule it when it comes in."

"OK, well, I am glad to have had this experience because it will save me a lot of aggravation in the future. Other home improvement stores may not be any better on this, but they can't be any worse. I can't wait to hear from you on Friday."

09 July 2006

Fun with Paint

As with any older house (15 years old), this one is not perfect. It is getting closer to perfection, thanks to my mom & I and a pile of cash, but it's a lot of work.

The guest bath, for example, was a fairly putrid blue when I moved in. Mom fixed that within the first days of moving in by painting it a cheerful, bright, sunny yellow. (She also replaced the nasty padded toilet seat cover. Do people actually use those things? They just feel so icky. Toilet seats should be hard and cool, not soft and warm. Yuck.)

Mom also took care of re-painting the laundry room a lovely sand color, and putting up a cute wallpaper border in there. It's cute, not icky, I swear. Anyway, that all happened before the washer/dryer/space shuttle arrived, so that's not today's project...

More recently, we have been attacking the master bathroom. It's a fairly large space, and somebody filled the walls with a busy 1980s Waverly sort of wallpaper. It's something that might work in a smaller space or as an accent on one wall of a bigger room, but egads, it was overwhelming in my poor master bath. So began project number 4: Wallpaper-be-gone.

If anybody out there is thinking about removing their own wallpaper, STOP. It took us the better part of a week to remove two walls of this very-well-stuck wallpaper using chemical wallpaper remover (bad idea) and finaly the old tried-and-true steamer. Bored with the process and facing quite a lot more wallpaper to remove, we decided to paint over the rest of it.

Mom found some magic primer that sticks to anything, including this coated wallpaper, to leave it water-wet so the latex paint sticks. Yesterday we put on the first coat of the real paint, and it will need one more coat to cover the stupid dark blue flowers of the wallpaper (grrr) and then we will rag-roll a coat of glaze on it. (More on that in a minute)

The last time I painted anything, I used a Wagner Power-Roller on a biiiig empty wall. Thus, painting was fun and sort of mindless. Fast-forward from then (~1983?) to now, painting a bathroom. The thing about bathrooms is that they are full of stuff you can't just paint over: mirrors, medicine cabinets, bathtub spouts, toilets, etc. Furthermore, this room has 13-foot ceilings and a large soffet, which means I'm up and down a big ladder much more than any monkey ever wanted to climb.

I've also managed to back into the paint at least once, and paint my hands, toes and arms a couple of times. In the competition for 'most body parts painted,' mom is running a close second; I have at least managed to keep it out of my hair...

That said, after one coat, I'm breathing a sigh of relief that the busy busy wallpaper is mostly disappeared. It's all worth it.

Next: The master bedroom. This one should go much faster. Famous last words, right?