Thursday, November 15, 2001

My house is cream. Fields and fields of cream.

The walls are the color of summer cream. The carpets are darker cream -- no, say it, Jonquil, they're beige. The kitchen and bathroom floors are vinyl masquerading as speckled cream tiles.

The four rooms I painted stand out like whores in a nunnery. The living room is a deep rich burgundy, toning with the purple velvet, wine-and-green striped, and jewel-tones-on-black-chintz chairs. The dining room is an aggressive deep peacock blue. The children's bathroom is ice blue. Our bathroom is robin's egg blue, but will be cream by tomorrow evening.

This is not my beautiful house.

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

Kate Bolin asks:
Where else would you find a faux gameshow filled with celebrities making jokes about recent news events?

U.S. National Public Radio, "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me". The newscasters of NPR let their snark out. Celebrity guests have included the guy who draws Tom Tomorrow, the woman who voices Bart Simpson, and similar left-liberal types. Every Saturday at 2PM. The prize for every event? Carl Kassell, NPR's molasses-voiced announcer, records the outgoing message on your answering machine.

Gaaah. My end tables are covered with mayonnaise and plastic wrap. Because that is supposed to vanquish white rings caused by un-coastered glasses.

I am turning into Martha Stewart.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

I have been so profoundly grateful to the New York Times these last weeks. The daily picture-obituaries ("Portraits of Grief") for people dead in the 9/11 disaster run so deep. This wasn't thousands of people dead, a tidy number we can file in the almanac. This was Vishna, and Lucille, and Inna. Distinct people who gave the best hugs in the world, who always found time to play soccer with the kids, who always knew the latest joke, who fiercely loved taekwondo. The Times articles are insisting on the individual losses, in a time when it's so easy to think only in groups.

On the other hand, the title of the post-terrorism section, "America Challenged", is just dorky. Especially since the primary connotation of "challenged" nowadays is "yet another euphemism for handicapped".

Monday, November 12, 2001

Dear God. It's going to be another day spent watching CNN.

What a week.

I'd laughed at other people's funny horror stories about remodeling. After all, things like that don't happen to me, right? It's like bombings or car accidents or nearly electing a Klansman governor -- things that are properly horrifying and depressing, but happen in some far-distant place that's not my place.

Now I have my own remodeling horror stories. Remember "the vinyl people come today"? Well, he did. With the wrong vinyl. The one we'd tentatively agreed to before our Realtor suggested a better floor, one we in fact liked more. I found this out by peeking in the truck. He explained that the vinyl we'd requested hadn't come in. After some back-and-forth, we sent the vinyl person away. The business owner called and assured us he would make everything right on Friday: the vinyl and carpet would be installed simultaneously.

The vinyl guy left at 3, without doing the upstairs bathrooms. By 4, it was clear that the carpet people couldn't possibly finish that day; they were still working on the upstairs and hadn't touched the downstairs. And all our belongings were outdoors on the deck under a tarp. After a lot MORE back-and-forth, the floor guy agreed to have the carpeters finish "all the flat surfaces" that evening. They stayed until 8 to do that; we were trapped in the refloored kitchen, eating takeout pizza and letting the children watch Shrek on our portable TV/VCR. Yeah, yeah, I know, poor children in China don't even have a TV/VCR. Although they probably have bootleg copies of Shrek.

The carpeters came back on Saturday and finished. Total time: 14 hours for two carpeters working full-tilt. In other words, this never was, and never had been, a one-day job.

We were backed up by the realty company's services department, which had recommended these bozos and which put heavy pressure on them to live up to their promises. I shudder to think of what would have happened if we'd just been one angry residential customer.

Oh, and the cleaners managed to cause a major toilet leak in the upstairs bathroom (no fault of their own), dumping an entire toilet tank into the ceiling, where it leaked through the kitchen light fixture. Exciting times.

The window-washers come today, as does the vinyl installer to finish the job. The painter comes Thursday. What fresh horrors await us? Watch this space.

On the more amusing front, I was washing my pre-teen daughter's hair (it's hip-length and curly, so assistance is required) and she complained, "Hey, why can't I get handsome MEN washing my hair?" and grinned. The puberty express is definitely headed down the track.