Saturday, July 07, 2007
Benevolence and Wallpaper
So far, it seems that Willem has done an admirable job of not reading that which he is not supposed to be reading. Though this may be due to the fact that he was using his mother's computer to check his email and the ESPN website, typed in "http://e" and her Internet Explorer automatically filled in the rest: "" So he was instantly stricken blind at the idea of his mother Internet dating.

Whatever. Good behavior is good behavior, regardless of the motivation.

As for here, things are moving along just swimmingly - so well that I could practically post After pictures, if only I could figure out how to post any pictures at all from this camera. Maybe tomorrow I'll be smarter. It's been a busy couple of days and I only have a few neurons left firing at the moment.

It started immediately after Willem and the kids left yesterday; I dug in and started clearing out the kitchen and peeling off wallpaper. When we bought this house it was, as far as I can tell, mostly balsa wood and wallpaper held together with cheap adhesive and good intentions. The prior owners had four children, two teenagers and two toddlers, crammed into a three-bedroom house. I get that decorative house projects may not have ranked too high on their list.

But seriously. The laziness? Why even bother? "Half-assed" would be an optimistic term for the way most things were installed here, which is to my advantage once I finally get around to doing something about it. Half-assed is far easier to take down and replace than whole-assed.

So, the wallpaper whooshed down quickly, and by 3:30 in the afternoon I was ready to take down the cabinets. Our friend W called to say she'd be over shortly, which was just barely in time to prevent me from being stupid enough to try and take it down all by myself. My unconcussioned head thanks her.

Once the cupboards were down, I expected her to turn around and head home, but instead she became intrigued by the thin layer of adhesive left behind after the wallpaper was removed, and intrigue soon morphed into helping me do it. Like I said, cheap adhesive - a few quick swipes of hot water on a sponge, wait a few seconds, and peel like a week-old sunburn. There's something deeply satisfying about nonviolent destruction like this.

At 4:30, we were most of the way around the room, and nearing a decision point. In two places - each about 9 square feet - there were patches of even older and wildly hideous wallpaper underneath the cheap stuff, and I had a sneaking suspicion that this was going to be a nightmare to remove. W is very much of a "Do it Right" mindset, bless her heart, and I recognized that my desire to just slap a coat of primer on top and paint right over the stuff was causing her some heart palpitations.

Before we quite made it to the first of these areas, my phone rang. Because oh-by-the-way, I was working from 8:00-8:00 yesterday. It had been quiet, primarily because I'd been very careful to restrict myself to non-messy aspects of the project all day, but as soon as I start playing with water and wallpaper adhesive, ring, ring!

I felt a little weird, leaving W to continue working on my kitchen walls while I went to work, but she showed zero inclination to leave, so I just... left. Told her to let herself out and leave the door unlocked, and off I went.

I was at the hospital from 5:00-6:30, and then decided that I would have just enough time to stop at Home Depot for paint and a new refrigerator before rushing home to meet friend G, who had, completely unprompted, offered to come over and help me in the evening. By 6:40, I had completely mixed paint and a voucher for Wednesday delivery of the fridge, and first spot in line at the Customer Service ("Home Depot - you can do it, we would help if we could figure out how") Desk. At 7:20, I was still in line, waiting for a manager to figure out how to both give me their advertised 10% off and not ask for my tax ID number, see as how I'm not a business.

The good news is, I finally escaped, voucher and multiple rebate forms in hand, having saved 10% on the cost of the fridge, getting a $6 rebate on the paint and a $75 gift card for buying an Energy Star product. There was much rejoicing. The bad news is, I was now a half hour behind schedule. I hate feeling late.

As I was muttering and driving home, my phone rang. It was W's partner, S. "How are things going over there? Do you guys need me to bring over some pizza or something?"

I blinked. And blinked a few more times. Then, "What do you mean? Is W still at my house?"

Pause while S blinked. "Well, she's not here. Where are you?"

"I'm coming home from work, I had a hospital call to do." Just then, I turned the corner onto my street, and sure enough, W's car was still in the driveway. I came in to find her meticulously chipping away at the old, cast-iron, industrial-grade-adhesive Wallpaper of Steel. Mind you, this is almost three hours after I'd left to go to the hospital.

W spoke to S on the phone, and S arrived a half hour later with extra spackle and a case of beer.

Meanwhile, G arrived, blessedly later than planned so I could cross the mental image of her sitting endlessly in my driveway waiting for me to escape Home Depot off my Guilt List. I ordered pizzas. It seemed like the thing to do.

W and S stayed until 10:30 at night. G stayed in the kitchen until 11:30, and then hung out to chat for another while or two.

How cool is that? Seriously. I am notoriously slow to make friends, especially after moving to a new town, and a week ago I'd have said with confidence that I had plenty of people who would be willing to join me for a social event but no one who would be willing to spend more than 20 minutes helping with any random household chore. Turns out I have three people willing to spend hours doing hard, tedious, wonderful work. I'm still a little choked up.

So instead of being a smidgen of the way through, I'm almost done. The old fridge is half-heartedly back in the vague corner where the new one will live, the kitchen table is back in its rightful non-living-room position, and the majority of the work left to do is shopping (spice rack, wallboard scraps and netting and still more spackle, foam to cover the pipes for the second bathroom and fabric to make curtains) and then applying said purchases appropriately.

And if that weren't sufficient evidence that I live a charmed life, my children are safe and asleep at my mother-in-law's, my mother-in-law is every bit as obnoxious as we all expected her to be, and my husband is doing a marvelous job of holding it all together. And of not reading this blog like I asked.

And furthermore, I just got back from a $350 (yes, that's a zero on the end there) dinner at Aujourd'hui in the Four Seasons Hotel in Boston. Darn right it was expensive, but it was to celebrate Jenny's birthday and my God, was it good.

So I'm just abrim with charity and love for all of humanity right now. And to maintain that feeling, I won't be watching the news, talking to my mother-in-law, or going to work tomorrow.