Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Back at the ranch, other stuff is going.

Last weekend, we got the heck out of dodge and went to Peoria. Why, you ask? Because many, many people have asked why the heck we went to Peoria, often while wearing the same expression one might have when they discover that their neighbor clubs baby seals as a hobby.

Three reasons:
1. It was close. In a Prius, it took less than a tank of gas, round trip. Less than five hours total driving time.
2. There was an orchard--Tanner Orchards. The website said ponies and barrel trains, which didn't actually start until Sept. 1, but there were apples, my son's second fruit of choice (strawberries are first), goats to feed, and a kick-butt playground. We played for hours.
3. They have baseball. The Peoria Chiefs are a Cubs single A farm team. We just missed seeing Carlos Zambrano's rehab stint. Plus, they also had a kick-butt playground. And fireworks. And Dippin' Dots. And a big dalmatian for a mascot. Frankly, when you're four, it don't get no better than that.

But wait! There's more!

I taught the fourth session of my new ESL class last night. Eight people so far, from all corners of Asia and South America. The levels vary from advanced beginner to advanced plus. (No, I didn't come up with those designations. Yes, they're real designations.) I used to teach five hours a day, five days a week with the same class. Now? Two hours a day, two days a week. I get finished with my opening activity, and only have 20 minutes left. Reentry is occasionally a little rough, but otherwise it's going well.

This afternoon, I'm going carpet shopping with my mom and gram. Why? Because my gram is the kind of woman who believes, deep down in her soul, that a nice house has carpet in the kitchen. And there is no talking her out of this travesty of woven fabric. Trust me, I've tried.

I've got shrubbery to put in the ground (pictures forthcoming next week) (I hope), and walls to paint (ditto). Can't do that until the floor dries.

Gratuitous floor pictures:

Before . . .

During . . . (Note the primed walls and painted ceiling. Do not note the temporary light fixture.)

After. Ooooh, pretty. It almost makes up for the odor of urethane that has permeated every single thing in my house.

Toss in some dishes in the sink and mounds of laundry, and it's just another week here at the Anderson homestead.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Oh, The Dust

You have no idea.

And honestly, the dust isn't as bad this time as it was when we ripped the old plaster and lathe out of the basement. That was dust that's still clinging to baseboards.

But this is dust that's grinding into carpets with a tenacity normally reserved for chiggers. Not that I speak from experience there, either.

Anyway, I let my kid run the camera to take pictures of the drywalling in process.

Annie Leibovitz he ain't.

But look at that nice wall, with new and improved outlets! I'm going to run some nice bookcases along that wall. Going to be lovely.

The kid wasn't done yet:

Two things here: First, I would like it to be noted that I had been scraping wallpaper glue off the walls before the kid broke out the Kodak. Second, that ladder thing the drywall guy left in our house overnight? I almost kept it. The temptation to hide it away until after the worker left was huge. That's the most wonderful ladder-like contraption ever. I want one for Christmas.

This is a pretty typical angle for a four year old. All doorknob.

I even tried to get my head in this shot, and still barely made it. But they're going to start on that floor on Friday. Boy howdy, it's going to be beautiful.

If we ever get the dust out of there.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Office in Progress

So, you know, I like to have fun.

Fun. You know. Fun--the kind of of enjoyment that comes from house guests and their pets in residence at the same time contractors are dumping house detritus onto newly made guest beds and screwing new drywall in, all while I'm frantically figuring out what the sam-hill I'm going to do in a classroom after five years.

Like I said. Fun.

Toss in a kid who screams in his sleep and a dog who keeps figuring out how to break into my room at 3 in the morning just so he can snort and shake his cute, floppy little ears until I'm ready to drop-kick him through the wiener dog goal posts of life, and I'm not sure how much more fun I could possibly stand.

(NOTE: This is not a diatribe against house guests. Love them. Especially when they entertain my child for hours--yea, DAYS--on end. Even more so when they are my family--I feel less obligated to make my house spic-and-span.)

So, having recently been just about funned out, here are some pictures.


Same place in the room, During:

Look! A Window! Look again! Wide plank red oak flooring (that needs to be refinished, but otherwise, ooooh)!

Look! House detritus! (It's already been cleaned up.)(Thank God.)

Office in Progress. Why do I feel like Woman, Interrupted?

Ah, remodeling . . .

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Attack of the Killer Home Remodeling Projects!

Boy, that just doesn't have a snappy ring to it, does it? It is, however, true. They might just kill me.

Let's review. We spent most of the spring laying down this paver patio ourselves:

Note the out-of-control tomatoes and pumpkins trying to take over the world in the lower right hand corner. I'm seriously considering using pumpkin vines for all my home landscaping needs.

I drove the bobcat with all my normal grace and style.

It's not done yet, of course. Any experienced home remodeler knows that the project is never, ever finished. Where would the fun be in that? We still have to do all the landscaping, and the steps are . . . barely steppable. But I would like everyone to appreciate the lower elevation of the dirt pile that has been my kid's source of joy this year:

Compared to this:

See the difference? One could almost consider that level, if one had drunk a few too many adult beverages. All we need now is the sod. Still.

Anyway, since we're not done with the patio project, we decided to go ahead with ANOTHER home remodeling project: My office. My office was, formerly, a bedroom that some previous owners (yes, I know who, and no, I don't think it was their best idea) carved up to make a huge, massive, gigantic walk-in closet for the master bedroom. I love closets, it's true, but that made this little room the ugly stepchild of the house. See? This is what it looked like before we moved in.

I know you can't tell, but that's not wallpaper. That's contact paper. Talk about your remodeling projects on the cheap!

And, at one time, it apparently had Cubs wallpaper, too. That's what people who partied at our house with various previous owners in the 70s and 80s always ask. "Do you still have the Cubs room?" No, my hubby always answers with regret. No Cubs room. (Lay off, Cards fans!)

Ever since we moved into this house, we have planned on ripping out the newish wall, running it all the way back to the original far wall, and reconfiguring the walk-in closet. They just never used all the space--space that could be better served by bookcases. But ripping out walls and putting in new ones is a major project, best left to professionals. (True, I could rip it out myself. But I couldn't put it back in. "Know your limits" is my wise home remodeling mantra.) And major projects cost major money. Money better spent on other things. Like food. Or shoes. Or more shoes. I could write in ugliness. I just didn't love it.

But then, one wonderful day in late May, my wonderful hubby looked over to me and said those magic words: "When do you want to redo your office?" (The correct answer is "Hand me the phone. I'll call the contractor. Right now.")

What brought on this sudden change of heart, you ask? Did it have something to do with my agent signing me with solid business-style plans for selling my books? Perhaps.

Contractors willing, the wall-ripping process will begin next week. We've moved all my pre-existing furniture out to the landing:

It's like my own little office cocoon. Very . . . snug.

And we tore most of the wallpaper off, too. Well, the kid did. The ability to destroy is one of the more fun gifts I gave him. And then? Well, heck. If you're going to tear walls out anyway, why not let a young child--and his friends--draw on the walls?

The art of a four year old is open to interpretation, but there are Handy Manny screwdrivers, Mr. Tickle monsters, and various attempts at names in there. Needless to say, the kid is already looking forward to the next home remodeling project.

So, off we go. I've got the border ordered (say that one five times fast) and the paint picked out. Some furniture (in my cocoon) is already here; the bookcases and filing cabinet will have to be ordered. (Because you just can't find nice oak bookcases and filing cabinets on the cheap. You can find fake wood bookcases and cheap wood filing cabinets, but they look fake and cheap. And I'm not spending the next thirty years scowling at my office furniture for ruining my vibe.)

It helps tremendously that I just got hired to teach English as a Second Language at the community college. Another part-time gig, but even a part-time paycheck is a paycheck.

Much like a butterfly, my office will emerge from its cocoon lovely and resplendent.

I hope.

Stay tuned!