Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year In Review, Or ...?

Everybody else is doing it. I'm having trouble getting up the energy to revisit this past year. So much of it, from this perspective, can be summed up in the word "deathwatch". Besides, I already did that, only it was called a Christmas letter. Of course, reading that, my news of the past year could best be summed up in the word "deathwatch". Sound a bit redundant?

Does to me. Why repeat it yet again?

I'd rather think about upcoming events. The kind of things that are important enough to require lists. There's a wedding, and it's got a long list, lotta stuff to do in six weeks. Then there's a honeymoon trip, shorter list but we're taking it pretty much by ear, so to speak. Its schedule mostly depends on weather and how we feel day-to-day. None of this by-Tuesday-we-have-to-be-in-City-X-so there's-no-time-to-stop-at-.... crap.

Then there's househunting. I contacted a realtor down in Arizona, and got a login-in password to a realty website. Steve and I have been pouring over the listings, narrowing down the wish-list, comparing features and prices. Dreaming. Beginning to arrange financing. Looking at serious snowbirding if I can come to an accommodation with the Phoenix branch of the company I contract with.

And there's this house. The carpeting needs replacing in the living room after Daddy's walker snagged it all to heck. After looking over options, and noticing that the kitchen linoleum hasn't held up well to 20 years of wear, I decided to go with ripping it all out and putting down laminate flooring, a vinyl-backed product vs. particleboard product, in light woodgrain. The formal estimate was a bit outrageous and didn't include leveling or taking up the plywood in the kitchen, or any other little unexpected thing that is sure to come along.

So I went with Plan B: have Richard do the install (which he agreed to after much researching), and work out an agreement to pay three months of his child support in exchange. There was a gap in his income from summer work that would have wound up with his losing his driver's license again, and likely ending up in jail again, probably just in time to screw with his next season's job. This bridges that gap until work starts up again, as well as getting me a decent new flooring that doesn't cling to every allergen in the world that's decided to pick on me.

The original offer was two rooms for two months' support, but after I cut down the labor-plus part of the bill, I added in my bedroom to the job. Its carpet is nice enough for twenty-year-old carpet, but my allergies are kicking up a bit again after I moved back into it, so I'm following Doctor's orders and getting it out of there.

I've already picked up the flooring. The cost plus what I'm paying Richard plus miscellaneous tools and supplies is still less that the 'they-do-it" estimate, even when we know the estimate doesn't include extras. It's sitting on the floor of my bedroom in a spot I usually don't need to walk on. Good thing too, since it's not going to move easily. When I picked it up I had to argue with the store to be able to get the extra 9 boxes (Have you had it measured? The installation price will have to be adjusted. How do we tell the computer what you're doing?), but three people later it was mine. It took two young fellows and a flatbed cart to get it loaded, taken to the cash register (more arguing), and finally loaded into my cute little hatchback. (You don't have a truck?)

Their guess while loading it was that each box weighed 15-20 pounds. Their estimate was 400 lbs. total. Yeah. Right. We're talking 33 boxes of laminate. It got stacked front-to back with the seat down, but there's a little tilt on the floor that way, and once the boxes cleared the back lip of the hatch door in height, there was the issue of keeping slippery boxes from sliding right back out again. So they put the remainder crosswise right behind the seats, since there's a spot where the back seat backs go when upright that's narrower. It turns out it's narrower than the boxes are long and they wedge three across in that space very nicely and don't slide any further back. Everything went in, the car sagged a lot but not too much for a cautious drive home, and my two-wheeler still fit right in on top of all the boxes without doing any damage.


I enlisted Paul and Richard to haul them into my bedroom, though I had to wake Rich to do so. That was the simple part. Where the problem lay was getting the boxes out of the car. Those cross-laying boxes, wedged forward of the narrow spot? Well, when the third box went into each layer, it took up the remainder of the space behind the front seats. No biggie if you can take them out the same way they went in, but in reverse: lift, turn at an angle, slide out. The turning at an angle part is only possible after one box has been lifted clear. And I quickly found out that each box weighs, not 15 lbs., not 20 lbs, either of which would have been enough fun when one needs to stretch way forward over the back of the car towards the front and then have only one's arms for leverage, but 40 lbs.! We wound up putting my seat back forward and taking the first box of each crosswise stack out my door so the other two could be turned to free them and slid down to the hatch opening. Eventually it worked, they all got in, and the car rose back to its normal height above the ground.

So, 33 boxes at 40 lbs. each... Nice little load for my hatchback. Nice load for my bedroom floor, spread out over about 12 square feet.

There's a lot of prep work first. I'm taking Rich shopping this morning, before the weather moves in with rain/ice/snow, wind and cold temps right in time to stay home for New Year's Eve. There are supplies and tools to get, though I've already picked up 100 lbs. of leveling compound, a squeegee, and a linoleum knife. The first segment of cut up linoleum went out in the garbage can this week, and that and carpeting will be fed through in bits till it's gone. Maybe May? We need a 3-foot level to find any other hollows besides the one we know about in the floor which is already going to take the 100 lbs. of compound to fill. Then knee pads, a small thin pry bar to remove the wooden floor molding - carefully, I hope, to reuse - razor knife and blades to cut carpet, a wood chisel to cut through the plywood the cabinets stand on to we can have a smooth vertical edge and a floor level from kitchen to living room, shims or something to give a gap around the edges, and whatever else we find out we might need. Something to pry up plywood? Eventually quarter-round for along cabinets, covering the gap, and trim strips where laminate meets other flooring.

Still cheaper, even with an added room, than the incomplete estimate.

We'll have to be careful for a while of splinters, especially as the kitchen plywood is being torn out. The curio cabinet will have to be packed up and moved out. (Where? Please, where?) A plumber or similar expert will need to be called to disconnect and reconnect the water to the icemaker and the gas to the stove.

Oh yeah, and I've told Richard it needs to be finished by the time Steve and I get back from the honeymoon. March 6th.

It's going to look so good.

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