Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hook, Line and Sinker

Random Family Conversation #213

Critter: ..and so my friend Sam is getting married tomorrow!

Me (slightly confused but figuring it has to be a teenager thing): Oh? And, um, why is that?

Critter: In drama class, we're doing this scene and Sam is getting married to the hotest guy in the class. (she giggles excitedly) Omigosh, he's so hot. He's got this one kinda lazy eye and it's soooo cute! We call him 'Phonics'.

Me: Oh?

Critter (smiling): Yeah, cause we're Hooked On Phonics!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bunny Hop

Have you ever danced the Bunny Hop? Two hops forward, one hop back, and some fancy toe tapping. That’s an apt description for selecting our fixtures for the bathroom remodel, too.

Bathtub – plain white. Cast iron with white enamel.
One hop back: Tub will take a week to arrive.
Towel bar – chrome with porcelain accents.
Vanity cabinet handles – chrome with porcelain accents.
Light fixture – went to Home Depot, didn’t like anything there.
One hop back: Went to Lowe’s, settled on chrome 4-light fixture with white shades.
Sink faucet – chrome with interchangeable porcelain or chrome handles, 4-inches on center.
One hop back: Need 8-inches on center to accommodate new granite countertop.
Shower fan – purchased 2.0 sones fan with 50 CFM (CFM? Horsepower)
One hop back: Need 0.5-1 sones with 70+ CFM
Toilet paper roll holder: burnished steel with porcelain accents.
One hop back: Need chrome with porcelain accents.
Granite countertop for vanity with white under-mount sink – GREAT deal at Home Depot. Half the cost of what we thought we’d have to spend.
One hop back: Only one countertop of the style/color we like, and it’s in Bellevue. Will take a week to arrive.
Decorative tile for backsplash and shower surround – found cool tile shop; want glass tiles.
Multiple hops back: Would take 2 weeks to special-order our tile choices; nothing in “seconds” section of store (which no one told us about until AFTER we got home); researched other glass tile retailers in area; found a hole-in-the-strip-mall distributer who could order my tile and have it in a week. SOLD!
Mirror – went to IKEA, found exact item, paid $20 and came home.

On the plus side, the tile distributor was eccentric and fun. His son works the cutting machine on the special orders. He has a new puppy, who comes to the store and hangs out. When I was checking out tile and sending JewelGeek photos on my cell, the puppy was following me around and cooling herself off on the granite slabs. They also have a store bunny. He hops around the store merrily, rolling in the dust and generally surprising the customers. JewelGeek took a picture when she went to pick up the tile…

It at least made us laugh.

April Bathroom

As with any remodel, you have in mind a timeframe for getting the job done. Our goal was to have this job completed over the month of March, with an unveiling April 1. Please pretend it is the first of April, alright?*

When figuring out what we needed and wanted in our new bathroom we decided it had to be functional first and foremost. Our first thought was this one but we nixed it because CrafterKat and I don't really wear high heels. It seemed a pre-requesite. Plus the windows would look into the back of the fridge and the microwave.

I told CrafterKat that we should really honor the concept of bringing the outdoors in. We have white peacocks that roam our neighborhood and I thought they'd be great central theme for the bathroom.

So what did we have on April 1? This beauty features a two-person jacuzzi bath and shower. A fireplace seemed an absolute necessity, so we had one of those installed, too. And a design plus? This bathroom, as opposed to my Peacock Bathroom, actually has a commode.

We toyed with the idea of installing a Korean appliance in the bathroom but I didn't think I could handle watching my father-in-law make some of these faces (especially the guy's reaction at the 24 second mark).

In the end, we spared no expense and decided that Critter didn't really need to go to college after all. Nor did she need all that bedroom space so we reconfigured the bathroom to be in her old bedroom. We think she could easily roll out a sleeping bag on the tile floor.

* In other words, April Fools. We will get new photos up of the real bathroom soon!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

When Life Hands You Avocados…

I recently had one of the most hilarious discussions with a colleague about the housing fashions of the 1970s. She grew up in a home with red shag carpeting in the livingroom and three “classic colors” bathrooms (powder blue, avocado, and beige). In the early 80s, her mom redecorated the livingroom – yup, mauve and light blue. Yikes!

Our home is a mid-70s split-level. When we moved in, it still had the lovely amber sidelight windows at the front door, an amber glass globe chandelier in the foyer, and architectural “details” such as arches and rod-iron decorative grill work. It even had the ORIGINAL avocado green electric stove/oven in the kitchen. “The horror! The horror!”

We’ve been updating/remodeling almost non-stop for the last several years. JewelGeek and I have similar tastes (thank goodness), and the temperaments to live with chaos for a while, knowing that it WILL end and a better thing will come of it. A few years ago, we remodeled the kitchen. That same year, Mr. GoGoGo and I remodeled the downstairs bathroom over a weekend. This last month, we tackled the main bathroom. Why? Well, when Critter came out with a piece of green enamel from the bathtub and asked if it was supposed to do that, we knew it was time.

So, here is our Guacamole Bathroom, pre-remodel. Absorb.

Notice the iron peeking through the avocado enamel.

The lovely, green and orange “veined marble” laminate on the vanity.

The white with gold-vein 4x4 tile surround above the avocado tub.

The mysterious floating soffit in the ceiling above the halfwall. (We assume there was rod-iron grill work in here at one point, too, to match the other stuff in the house.) The drywall damage in the ceiling is from a roof leak we hadn’t noticed. And the all-important globe lighting on oh-so-classy brass chains ties the whole 70s theme together.

Feel our pain. And prepare to be amazed…

Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Idle

Last night as Critter watched snippets of American Idol, I sat at the computer to play some online sudoku. As I opened Yahoo, I read an entertainment news headline that I thought might earn me some Cool Mom points--either the Wow-Mom-Knows-My-Music or the I-Understand-Your-Pain variety. It seems that Critter's Pete Wentz of The Fall Out Boys is now engaged to Ashlee Simpson, Jessica's younger sister.

"Oh, honey," I sighed, "it looks like your Pete Wentz is engaged."


What?! The rock guitarist you sighed over in the doctor's office? The good looking member of the group? I kept my voice calm. "You know, the guy you like from the Fall Out Boys?"

She nodded but continued to watch Billy Crystal and Lindsey Lohan Miley Cyrus. "Oh, yeah. I'm not much into him anymore..."

No Cool Mom points for me, it seems. "Oh? Is he sooo 2007?"

She rolled her eyes. "Yeah, sooo 2007."

Well, maybe one Cool Mom point.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Miracle Worker

In high school, CrafterKat encouraged me to participate in the after school drama program. "You don't have to be on stage," she explained, "there's lots of stuff to do behind the scenes." So I took a chance, stepped out of my comfort zone, and joined the zany group that routinely performed. My first production was The Miracle Worker, the story of Helen Keller. CrafterKat played the role of Aunt Ev and I, not being a seamstress or mechanically inclined to stage craft design, assumed the role of Properties Manager.

It was my job to make sure that the furniture got moved on stage for different scenes, that the actors had their walking stick or suitcase, and that the table was set for the big food fight scene when Annie first arrives to teach Helen. I remember that the bassinet used in the opening scene was mine, an antique that my parents had kept for me for my future children. The doll that Annie brings Helen was my own, a Raggedy Ann my grandmother had made. And the food fight? I cooked up a batch of food before every performance that the actors would secretly eat when they were supposed to be "frozen" on stage.

Helen's parents were played by the high school drama redhead--a statuesque singer with a charisma streak that was off the charts--and a somewhat portly young geek who was new to our school. The contrast between these two was quite acute. Everyone knew the redhead was going to continue in the drama arena after school--she could sing, act, she was humble, and very nice. The new guy was a bit harder to read--he could act, yes, but he had this very subtle, quiet humor that could leave us in stitches if his comment was above a stage whisper. Our redhead became a stage actress back east (Chicago?) and we wouldn't be surprised if our young geek had a writing role on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

There's a part in the play where Annie takes Helen to a summer hunting cottage off the Captain's vast estate to teach. As the main stage represented the house--the dining room, Annie's bedroom, and the infamous water pump in the front yard--we had little room to represent this important spot. The theater had two aprons, little bits of stage that jutted into the audience and cradled the orchestra pit. The front of the apron was perhaps eight feet wide but the part that attached to the main stage had to share space with the stage exit, so it tapered to only three feet.

We outfitted the apron with a little table and chair, and one rather large potted tree to represent that it was a summer house. The spot worked fine for Annie and Helen--there was plenty of room for the roughhousing that occured when lessons were portrayed--but it was tight for everything else. And it was not much better with a director who kept changing his mind about set design, lighting, entrance cues, and placement of props. That stupid potted plant moved to all four corners of the apron and the actors would adjust their stance and position each time.

At last, the director made a decision--place the plant at the cottage "entrance", the part attached to the main stage. The audience would be able to see Annie and Helen and the plant would be out of the way. Never mind that it was an obstacle to the Captain and Helen's mother. The Captain would battle the foliage with his walking cane, and keep one hand on the redhead to keep her from falling into the orchestra pit.

As the director paused rehearsal--yet again--we heard the Captain casually sum up his existence in the scene. "This is my wife. This my plant."

CrafterKat and I busted a gut. From that day on, we've used this simple statement in tight quarters when something else keeps interfering, usually a home improvement project when something isn't going quite right. Stuck under a leaky sink or moving a heavy bookcase? This is my wife. This is my plant.

As Bill Cosby says, "I told you this story so I could tell you another."

E-mail to CrafterKat:

From: JewelGeek
Sent: Thursday, April 03, 2008
Subject: JewelGeek's Day

8am Ask MS Dean if the chalkboard on the drama stage is magnetic. She was to check yesterday afternoon.

10-noon E-mail Evil PXE about not finding magnetic boards and who should I talk to about ordering one.

2pm Per Evil PXE's e-mail, check Athletic Center for floater board used in coaching.

2:15 Discover that there are mounted boards in the Weight Room. Wrinkle nose at smell.

2:30 Discover that the other boards are cork bulletin boards. Not magnetic.

2:45 Find a white board with past principal's old schedule in the Athletic Storage Room!

3:00 Laugh at the names of people who don’t teach here anymore. Haul board back to office.

3:05 Discover that it is not magnetic.

3:06 Cry a little on the inside.

3:15 Go back to Storage Room WITH magnets. Find chalkboard on wheels.

3:16 Pray

3:17 Rejoice. Chalkboard is magnetic

3:18 Worry about yanking board without talking to Athletic Director.

3:25 Find Academic Dean and tell her about Board, explaining that the coach diagrams look to be from football season.

3:30 Ask where to get money to buy magnets.

3:35 Head to Athletic Cent-- Wait. Bathroom

3:37 Think to self. It’s a good spot, you know?

3:38 Wonder if there is a White Board already in the Conference Room…?

3:40 Nope.

3:42 Enthusiastically walk towards Athletic Center, heading for stairs.

3:45 How am I gonna lug the thing up stairs? Elevator is too small…

3:50 Cry a little on the inside.

3:55 Pray and head to back boiler room, down the hall from the conference room.

4:00 No broken chalkboards on wheels.

4:05 Behind fake stage foliage, one white magnetic white board.

4:06 This is my plant. This is my magnetic board.