Monday, May 26, 2008

The last thing I'll say about roaches, and then I'll shut up

While squealing and fussing over a single poor bug may seem both funny and perfectly appropriate, I imagine that anyone with real problems - say, someone living in Rangoon or Chengdu or Harare -would read my recent posts with a mix of incredulity and disgust (at me, not the bug).

As I enjoy the time to work on my own home this Memorial Day weekend, I want to be perfectly clear that I fully appreciate the blessings and privilege in my life. I am truly fortunate if the most immediate invader I have to worry about is a cockroach - and I never, ever forget that.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

More about roaches

Fred at One Project Closer wanted pictures of the demon that invaded our home last week. For some reason, I didn't have the presence of mind to take photographs.

I couldn't find much online that really did justice to the horror of seeing the beast in one's own home. This one is pretty close though:

What I can do, is provide the following disturbing news. From a not-for-the-squeamish blog called What's That Bug - "A decapitated roach is able to live for 7 days without a head and will eventually die of hunger."

I think that's all we need to know for now.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Aagh! or The Champ Wouldn’t Want Us Living Like This

In the Time of The Great Communicator, I used to ride the bus to work. You may infer from this that child labor laws were weak back then. I won’t stop you.

I rode eastward from West Hollywood down Sunset Blvd. Then transferred to go north, waiting for my second bus under the protection of The King.

Even though it was a little over a score or so ago, I distinctly recall looking up into the hillsides of Silverlake and Echo Park and thinking to myself, "I bet those people who live up there have cockroaches in their houses."

How could my younger self have been so prescient?

I don’t know what prompted that thought. I suppose it was that the houses were so old – so vulnerable to invasion. But I think it was also the hilly-ness . The fact of hilly-ness made me think "roaches." I doubt I would have thought it had the landscape been flat.

So – cut to the Time of The Decider. The Best Man comes over on Friday night to show us his photos of his recent trip to Argentina. He and We are comfortably settled into the deck furniture that currently passes for living room furniture.

Best Man’s photo album rests between him and me; we are chatting, relaxed; ready to mentally transport ourselves to The Casa Rosada . . .

. . . and then, what should scramble across the suede-bound album but a gigantic Kafka-esque nightmare of an antennae-ed creature, joining our little party as if he too wanted to hear tales of warm spring nights whiled away listening to the sounds of Tango.

I think I screamed. And like a girly-girl, leapt from my adirondack, jumping over pocket door apparatus to escape. Best Man ran in the opposite direction.
K, unaware of what we’d seen, shouted, "WHAT!"

We answered, "There’s a giant cockroach!" and "OMG, it’s huge!"

And then . . . in a preemptive attack, . . . he ran right at ME.

We should all know by now that the preemptive attack doesn’t always have the intended consequences. It sometime serves to make your enemy more belligerent, more aggressive, less likely to play nicely. In this case, the ploy worked. It made me run. And once I fled, the Insect continued in the direction of the Best Man.

At that point, the kitten joined the melee. Kitten has no problem swatting and de-vivifying any moth or fly in her path. But in the case of the Insect, she was curious but kept a respectful distance. She seemed to only want to herd it, not touch it.

Terrified that she would tangle with the demonic beast, I shouted "No, Kitty, get away!"
K, who was doing his best to wrangle it, scolded her with a disappointed, "Cat, what’s wrong with you?"

And then, manly as he is, K swooped up the horrid creature in his bare hand. To which Best Man and I both cried "Eww – you touched it with your hand! How could you do that?"

Then K was out the door to toss the invader into the street.

Jenni at ThirteenEleven has her own trouble with insects. But hers seems to be a problem of quantity. This was definitely a problem of quality. I’m sure this could qualify as a NYC sized roach. Though, to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a roach in NYC. Maybe I’m just not going to the right places.

What could have caused this horror? K pointed to the gap under the front door. "He probably came in through there." Best Man offered the gap as "an opportunity." I pointed to holes in the floor, drilled for access to wiring in the house's previous incarnation. It dawned on me that any insect could make its way from the basement into our house.

Better get that new flooring in soon! I've become one of those people!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Is that a door in your pocket?

Today was the day of the living room/dining room pocket doors.

Here's the track. This was all a mystery to me. I had really never given any thought to the magic of the pocket door.

First, K built the framework on the library side.

And here they are!

I don't have much to say on the process. Build the frame, hang the doors. The trick seems to be to get the little wheels correctly on the track. And they're awfully little wheels for such heavy doors. Seems to work, though. There are videos on YouTube to explain the process. The guy that voices them is kind of dry though. Very dry.

Tomorrow, Mr. U will come to help with putting up the drywall on the library side. As fascinating as the track system is, we don't want to look at it forever.

I am so happy with these doors. And I'm so glad we can give them a good home after they were wrested from their original home.

Later in the day, K was working on building additional storage around the fireplace, while I was upstairs simultaneously paying bills, researching our June vacation and looking for crap on YouTube - -multi-tasking.

He comes to the office door and asks if I could help him. "Sure," I says. Then he says, "I shot myself with the nail gun."


"Not the big one," he says, "just the little one."

He's fine. Some Neosporin, a bandage and he's back to work. He's a trooper.

Kids, let this be a lesson to you. Home improvement is not a game.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

It was bound to happen

The guy with the limo service finally decided to park one of the Hummers right across the street.

Fortunately, it was only there a couple of hours.

As a happier development in the inevtable, our first agapanthus of the season has bloomed . . .

and two more are on the way . . .

and the Angel's Trumpet in the backyard is yielding . . .

a bounty of blooms . . .


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Quest for Fire

This weekend the new gas fireplace was connected in anticipation of a visit from the inspector this week. Yesterday, the inspector signed off on both the fireplace and the new windows. That’ll be the last inspection until we're all done. Woo hoo!

Oh, and K also installed the pocket door between the kitchen and hallway. The hardware works great. We got the door for $15 from the Habitat for Humanity Re Store in Pasadena. The door still needs to be painted but here it is for now.

This was a good test before K installs the big mahogany doors in the living room.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Top 5 Totally Uncool Things About My 'hood - #2 in a series

#4 - The Paucity of Parking

When I was a child, I got into my head that the ideal house has a circular driveway. Maybe the ideal house does have a circular driveway. But my house doesn’t. It does have a driveway, unlike the house next door and the house next door to the house next door. But it’s pretty much only wide enough for a gullwing – which I also don’t have.

This was the car of the day when my house was built:

No problem getting in
and out of the Model T

But unless you want to crawl in and out of the sunroof (which we also don’t have) parking in our driveway, means sleeping in the car.

K is both slender and agile. He plans to park in the driveway when the construction materials are gone. I have no such plan.

In the meantime, we hunt for parking with each return home. Sometimes we find it in front of our house. Sometimes down the street. Sometimes around the corner and sometimes down the block. Or down the next block.

We now have three vehicles. To make matters worse there’s a guy down the street with a limo company and he parks his fleet on our street.

Last Sunday, I found two stretch limos:

and two stretch Hummers taking up real estate.

The homes at that end of the street have been condemned in anticipation of the construction of a school, so for now the limos aren’t such an issue. Once construction begins, I suppose he’ll move them all closer to our house. That’ll be fun.
In the interest of good karma, I hope his business thrives so much that he can either move to a building appropriate to house his cars or that all the vehicles are constantly engaged 24/7, filled with prom partyers and quinceanera guests. If you saw the movie Quinceanera, then you know the value of the stretch Hummer to the celebrants.

If I wanted bad karma, I suppose I could check with the city about the any laws against running a limo service out of an apartment.

Even without the limos, we still have trouble parking. Sometimes it’s because it’s trash day and all the containers are out in the street and you can’t park around them.

Sometimes it’s because it’s street sweeping day and half the street is off limits.

Sometimes it’s because someone is having a party.

Sometimes it’s because of construction on a nearly street.

Sometimes it’s because filming is scheduled so a street is blocked off.

Sometimes it’s because one or more parking illiterates have planted a single car in a space that could have served two. This is the one that really gets me. This is the one that makes me want to leave nasty post-its on windshields. This is the one that makes me want to slash tires. But that would probably be really bad karma.

It's been too long since we've have a Presidential portrait. Today, we'll celebrate Warren G. Harding, one of our worst presidents of all time and the first U.S. president to ride to his inauguration in an automobile (1921).

I doubt if even he had a circular driveway.

I've been color corrected

OK, I admit it. The kitchen wall color will not be a shade of Lavender. It will be a shade of Violet. Not as Violet as Sherwin Williams Ash Violet, but still Violet. Color doesn't photograph well so you'll just have to see when you visit.

That Silver Peony (2nd from top) might be nice. Maybe I'll try a sample of that. Maybe I'll take up painting canvases with all the leftover samples I'll have.

The computer doesn't reproduce this color well at all.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Colonel Mustard and Lady Lavender

K worked not on but around the new windows this weekend. He caulked and he put up the temporary molding that will surround them until the old aluminum siding comes down. That part of the plan (bringing down the siding) is at least a year ahead. He also worked on the rooftop – finishing off the difference between the space left behind by the old chimney and the new fireplace vent. Unfortunately, he didn’t take pictures and I had no idea what he was up to until the work was all done.

While he did all that, I tested out the paint colors that I had in mind for the living room and dining room walls and all the ceilings. The intended wall color was Sherwin Williams Hubbard Squash, from their Arts and Crafts Preservation Palette. I had already painted a piece of board that was about 2.5" x 2.5" and I was about to show it off to a friend after last week’s window-lift-a-thon when K revealed that he had pitched the board in the trash. He thought I was "done with it." I hadn’t even started with it but he thought I was done with it. That’ll teach me about not keeping my things locked up.

The plan was Hubbard Squash above the wainscoting in the living room and dining room and Sherwin Williams Tealight on the ceiling. I was also considering Bunglehouse Blue in the library.

Bunglehouse Blue on a test door

The Bunglehouse Blue seemed like quite a contrast so I wasn’t feeling that confident about it. I’d also planned an even darker blue on two of the walls in the kitchen. It was supposed to have matched a small piece of tile that would be the behind-the-stove back splash. Well . . . That small bit of tile wasn’t blue. I finally had a look at it today (why I hadn’t really looked at it before, don’t ask) but the tile I thought was blue was actually various shades of purple.

Deep breath.

So I’m off to Sherwin Williams and I return with sample pitchers of Tealight and Mythical.

Once home, I bring out the sample pitcher of Hubbard Squash and painted an actual wall with it. I also painted part of the wall in Tealight. And then it hit me. It would be Tealight all around.

K thought the Hubbard Squash looked like mustard. I just thought it was muddy. But the Tealight seemed perfect, for both the walls and the ceiling. It was even right for the library.

Hubbard Squash


Hubbard Squash and Tealight meet

Why did I want all those different colors? One unifying color would make the rooms flow together – would make the whole space seem larger. Why would I want to draw attention each little room? Why shouldn’t they all be one continuous space? Why am I obsessed with contrasting ceilings?

And then there was the kitchen. I painted swatches of west and east walls in Mythical and I immediately loved it. The blue that I had in mind would have been too dark and too heavy with the black kitchen cabinets. Mythical was perfect. It’s actually lavender – like Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes. I don’t have the cabinets up yet but I’m sure lavender will play off them better than blue would have. The cows will glow against it as will the glass knobs I have planned for the cabinets.

Mythical and Tealight together

Mythical on the east wall

This is a huge leap for me. Just knowing what the final colors will be I consider a huge, huge accomplishment. Even though the lavender Mythical is not part of the Arts and Crafts Preservation Palette I don’t care. I like it. K likes it. The cows will love it.