1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Monday, September 25, 2006

Baby Whale All Grown Up

Heeheeheeheeeeeeeeeee! That's the sound of me being giddy. The tub? It is painted!

I couldn't find the "Canvas White" spray paint I wanted in any of the local stores and ended up having to order it online in a 6-pack (from Aubuchon Hardware). It arrived on Friday, and automatically Darwin and I both knew what we'd be doing Saturday, whether we liked it or not.

The color of the cap was just slightly lighter than the cap of the Almond spray paint.

I was anxious (I'll wait while you recover from the shock), but it turned out fine. Canvas White is the exact color we needed, and before it's over I think we'll need all six cans.

"Before it's over?" you say ... "I thought you were finished."

Yeah, well "finished" is a flexible term around here. The tub itself is pretty much finished, though we'll probably do one more coat.

Two out of four claw feet are primed, though OF COURSE we ran out of primer. The last two feet need to be buffed with a wire brush and washed to get any loose rust-dust off.

While dealing with the feet, D noticed two are marked 5 1/4 on the back, and two are marked 6. They are two different heights. We assume the shorter feet were intended to go toward the faucet end of the tub to help it drain better. But we are considering using the tall feet on the same side of the tub to help offset the slant in the bathroom floor. Maybe this is the intended purpose after all? Or maybe there were multiple purposes.

The feet look worlds universes better now that they're not all gunked with rust and old toxic paint. Ooh, so pretty.

And now for the moment you've been waiting for, the money shot:

Oops, wrong money shot. :) That's Darwin finishing up taping around the edge of the tub, which he wisely insisted we do. Lest anyone think I did nothing, I taped most of the edge. Yeah, and I scraped the rest of the paint off the feet while Darwin spray-painted the tub. I also spray painted some of the second coat.

So I'm not useless, even though I am so pathetic that I'm even bad at spray painting. And my forearm was sore the next day from holding down that stupid little button.

Anyway, I will now distract you with pictures so you will forget all about what I just said:

Is that not the perfect color? I love you, Canvas White.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Unintentional Humor

I saw The Black Dahlia this weekend, and man was it a weird experience. So confusing, convoluted, jam-packed full of unnecessary stuff ... and yet, I somehow had a good time! It was so unintentionally funny. The entire theater burst into laughter when Scarlett Johansen spat out, "She looks like that dead girl!" And then they replayed it, and we all laughed again. I don't know why, but that was hilarious.

And the scene at dinner with the drugged-out mother/Harry Potter's aunt? PRICELESS.

So yeah, I'm kinda glad I went even though the movie was horrendous.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A Good Shoe is Hard to Find

We leave for Italy two weeks from today, and for the first time I'm feeling a little nervous. I'm not afraid of the flying, the terrorists, the language barrier (grazie, Pimsleur!), the inter-city train travel, or even the luggage lugging.

I'm afraid of the walking.

When I say I have bad feet, most people think I'm just being a whiner. In part, I am. But I inherited the feet-that-kill from my mother, who inherited them from her mother.

On a normal day, walking a little way from a parking lot into the grocery store or dashing back to the art department at work, I'm okay.

But fifteen minutes into a step routine at the gym, my arches ache so badly I start scanning the room for a sharp object to put myself out of my misery. It's the same with any sustained movement - a stretching, cramping sensation in the arch that feels like it could escalate to tearing at any moment.

Besides that, if I stand up for too long, the dull-then-not-so-dull unbearable ache begins throughout my foot.

I make it through with willpower more than anything. When I went to New York City a couple of years ago, I forced myself to keep up the pace with my two male co-workers even as we traipsed all over Manhattan, looking for some specific deli one of them remembered. I looked longingly at the dozens of delis we passed as we looped up and down the streets near Times Square, but I didn't say a word. I also gamely went along on the walk to Central Park and back. I don't even know how far that is - probably not very - but it felt like a million miles.

Believe it or not, wearing a shoe with a heel helps the arch pain, which is one reason (besides the fact that I love them!) that I wear heels 90 percent of the time. I can just walk better in them.

But the heels don't work for real, sustained walking like what we'll do in Italy, especially not on cobblestone streets. For one thing, most heels don't have much cushion in the sole. For another, my foot often ends up sliding down with each step, rubbing a blister on the ball of my foot over time.

It doesn't help that I have hard-to-fit feet. They are wider-than-normal across the ball and narrower-than-normal at the heel, so any kind of closed-back shoe flips up and down endlessly, rubbing a blister in just a few minutes that won't fully heal for weeks.

The last thing I want marring my trip to Italy is 10 different kinds of blisters. In NYC I "solved the problem" - aka, made it so I could at least walk rather than hobble - by buying a thick, squishy pair of pink socks.

I've also tried every kind of insert known to man, including the stick-on, back-of-the heel kind, but they don't work either.

So ever since we decided once and for all we'd be going to Italy - where I've heard estimates of walking 5 miles a day - I've been searching for the perfect shoes. I read up on the TripAdvisor forums about the most comfortable kinds of shoes, about the weather in Italy when we'll be there, about how many pairs to take.

I considered my trip to the trade show last month a practice run-through for Italy and packed as lightly as possible. I took three pair of shoes, one on my feet and two in the suitcase. It turned out to be the perfect number. That way I could rotate through them and not wear on the same blisters two days in a row. Besides, even a high heel feels comfortable when it's a change from the shoe you wore all day.

For Italy, I want to take two pairs of walking shoes and one pair of dressier shoes. But even my walking shoes can't be just your run-of-the-mill sneaker. I hate the way I look in sneakers - too stumpy and frumpy - and I wear them strictly for working out (when they're still not even that comfortable). Plus, I don't plan to take any jeans.

I found several candidates for comfort shoes: Born, Merrell, Dansko, Sketchers, Clarks. My mother made me try on her Merrell clogs, and yes, they were comfortable.

But they also suffered from a problem so many comfortable shoes have: hideousness.

Yeah, this is probably why I get so little sympathy when I complain about my foot problems. I want it all - cute AND comfortable. Is that really so much to ask?

I ended up buying dark purple Merrell mary janes and red Born mary janes for ridiculously cheap prices on eBay. And I love them, I really do.

But ... the Borns are a little too big. They have the heel-flippage problem even with the inserts, and the top of the left shoe digs into my foot a little. Just a trip to the mall gave me blisters, so what would a trek all over Florence do? I shudder to think. They'd probably be okay with socks, but I had my heart set on black tights with red mary janes.

I haven't test-run the purple Merrells yet, but just trying them on I can feel some heel-digging.

Meanwhile, I wasn't willing to place all my chips in the eBay basket, so I ordered a pair of Merrell Plaza Mocs (a black suede leather loafer with a sneakerish sole) for $90 from Shoes.com. Yeah, they're too small.


Surely my perfect pair of shoes exists out there somewhere! But the fact is, Italy is only two weeks away. I'm running out of time.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Cure: Week One

I posted last week about how I'm a slob and our house has devolved into a quivering mass of hideousness.

Then I found a cure! I read about the book Apartment Therapy: The Eight-Step Home Cure on a houseblog, but I can't remember which one. Whoever you are, I'm indebted to you!

I ordered the book on the last day of my free trial Amazon Prime subscription, and it arrived - to my delight - just one day later.

While the author's apartment is roughly 11 times smaller than my house (250 meager square feet), the heart of this book is the same for all homes. It focuses on the "health" of your home - bones, heart, head and ... um, something else I can't remember right now. It helps you "diagnose your home’s physical, emotional, and energy flow issues" and treat them, too. (Check out the book's blog here for more info.)

I took a quiz to determine my home's health, and it scored low, mostly due to the clutter and the unfinished repairs. That means I need the Deep Treatment.

Week One of the deep treatment requires us to do the following:

1. Vacuum/mop/sweep all floors in the house. Yeah, that's easier to do in a one-bedroom apartment than a ginormous old house with constructional materials lying about, but I'm giving it a go.

On Sunday I tackled the bedroom with the broom and the Clorox ReadyMop. The bedroom was probably the most disgusting room in the house. Since we can shut the door and hide it away from guests - or potential guests, haven't had many lately since I'm too embarassed to let people in this pigsty - we tend to let the clutter get completely out of hand. Both Darwin and I pile our clothes everywhere instead of putting them away, and you saw my shoes strewn all over the floor.

The cute fireplace mantel and tile surround were completely obscured with junk - receipts and clothes tags and extra buttons all over the mantel, bags and boxes and an unopened set of flannel sheets on the hearth. A spider had built a web between a shoebox and the portable heater that was STILL sitting there from this winter.

The dust bunnies under the bed and nightstand were large enough to wreak havoc on a major metropolis. It was all so gross.

Also, I noticed my high-heeled shoes have been making shallow impressions in the soft heart pine floor in front of the door and its full-length mirror. I feel really awful about that. But after the sweeping and mopping, I got the idea to bring in a runner from the hall to replace the shorter rug beside my bed. In the hall, the runner has been sitting on top of a carpet runner because we never got around to removing the carpet. So that solves two problems in one. Actually, three, because I moved the small bedside rug into the guest bathroom to cover the plywood floor. It's amazing what a different these little shifts made!

The bedroom - it feels wonderful now. It's still cluttered with too many clothes and shoes, but that's a project for another week.

As for the rest of the house, Darwin vacuumed the living room and hall from front to back and swept MASSIVE orange cat hair dust bunnies from under the armoire beside the cats' food and water dishes. These dust bunnies made the ones in the bedroom look like tiny bits of fluff.

It's sort of shocking to realize what filth we've been living with!

Still to go: Kitchen, office, laundry room, guest room, guest bath, cats' room. The vacuum bag got full, and we didn't have another one, so those had to wait.

2. Go around the house and list all repairs that need to be done. Brainstorm solutions. Ha ha ha ha haaaaaa! The book provided a page with spaces for several repairs. Yeah, those are all full. And that was just what I listed while sitting outside waiting for paint stripper to cure; I didn't even do the full house walk-around.

Brainstorm solutions? Oh my. All the repairs are doable by us, but when do we have time? Anyone know how to weave hours from gossamer threads? Perhaps a solution we should consider is to hire some of it done.

3. Get rid of one item from your house, the bigger the better. I've been debating this one. I am a "warm" personality, according to the book, which means I tend to let clutter get out of control and tend to feel emotional attachments to objects.

Still, I've improved at getting rid of stuff. It feels so liberating! I just need to start doing it again. I'm even considering having a dreaded yard sale. This weekend Eutaw is having its first annual Hwy. 14 Antique Trail. Guess where I live? Directly on Hwy. 14! So how perfect would that be? And yet ... having a yard sale sucks. I wouldn't be able to manage one up to my typical standards; I don't have time for pricing - just big signs stuck on tables that say, "Everything this table, $1."

Candidates for my "big item" this week? One is a framed floral print that hung in our living room at the ranch house. It's been propped in our living room here, too, but hidden behind another painting. I've hung onto it because I still like the colors, but really it doesn't fit with our aesthetic anymore. A little too Hobby Lobby, y'know?

Also, there's an armchair we never sit in or a cheap, particleboard dresser we don't use anymore.

4. Sit for 10 minutes in one room of your house where you never sit. I'm supposed to consider what doesn't work about this room and do some Jedi mind tricks to visualize what could make it work. I haven't decided which room to sit in yet. Nearly every room in our house gets used frequently, and the only rooms that don't are basically big empty rooms we don't need yet.

If you don't have an unused room, you can sit in an unused corner or space. The dining room settee might work for that, or the guest room rocking chair.

5. Buy fresh flowers. Guess I'm just a low-class individual because I've never bought fresh flowers in my life. I've received some, and I guess I've probably sent some, but I've never just gone and bought some for myself. The author thinks this is important because he wants it to become something I do every week. I don't have a problem with that - in fact, it sounds fun - but I haven't remembered to do it yet. Do Publix flowers count as fresh?

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Baby Whale Gets a Makeover

With all the paint finally scraped off, the rust ground off, and the residue washed off, the mottled gray hide of the clawfoot tub reminds me of a baby whale. Awww, it's so cute and harmless now that all the hard work is done.

It has been a long saga to get to this point. In December 2004, we brought it home. It sat out in the workshop untouched - except for a few times when I went and sat in it to daydream ( Don't judge me!). Then we started the bathroom renovation, and when the demo neared completion, I realized that duh - we had to get the tub ready to go in there. In June 2006 we started scraping it. We did that a couple of different days in June, but then the Summer of Stagnation (hereafter referred to as SOS) set in, and we got exactly 0.0001% of our planned work done.

I've been perusing the archives, and this is the first weekend in three weeks that we've actually accomplished something, and the first time in TWO MONTHS that we've made progress on the bathroom. Yeah, we've had legitimate excuses, but still - yikes!

The long SOS makes our accomplishments this weekend feel like superhero stuff. We finished scraping the tub and worked on scraping the bed. Then Darwin used the handy-dandy wire brush attachment for the drill to get rid of a bit of rust on the unpainted side of the tub and some uneven paint scraps left under the rim. He washed the tub and blow-dried it with his leaf blower, which chased the water around and around the rim of the tub. Then we taped up the tub openings with brown paper.

Finally, the moment! We spray-painted the exterior of the tub with white Rustoleum clean metal primer. It looked so crisp and white and not covered with globs of crackled, peeling lead paint! Yes!

Then, of course, we ran out of spray primer. But that can't keep me down. We're at the easy part now.

So today - Lowe's. We need more spray primer, and I want to find a top coat that's not quite so bright white. I saw a color called Canvas (I think) online, but Darwin didn't see it at Lowe's when he bought the spray primer. If they don't have it, there's a Home Depot I can try, too.

Okay, without further ado - the photos:


The only damper on my joy is that I hoped to have the tub finished by its 75th birthday. I had it in my head the birthday was September 17, 1931, but then we flipped it over Saturday and saw that the date is September 7. Oops, just missed it. Sorry, baby whale. Consider this your belated birthday celebration.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bye Bye Beauty

Remember that post about the branches falling off our neighbor's giant pecan tree? After the last branch crashed, the neighbor decided to finish the job. He hired someone to cut down the old girl, and now there's a wide, flat stump in the field instead of a lovely hand-shaped pecan tree.

Yeah, I know it was for the best. The next branch could've taken out our storage building and/or fence. But I'm still slightly devastated. Ironic from a chick whose dad cut down trees for a living, huh?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Confessions of a Mindless Consumer

I've recently come to the difficult realization that I am a slob. There, I said it. While I'm confessing, I am also an addict - to clothes, shoes and antique lighting.

But I just found a cure for at least two out of my four major problems. (Winning the lottery would also be a good cure, but I digress.)

Actually, it's more of a solution or even enabler than a "cure," per se. Behold the wonder that is the Neatnix Slide N Stax:

They're so simple and yet so miraculous! Between each item of clothing is a plastic card that keeps the items separate and easy to slide out without disturbing the rest of the stack. Before stacking, you use the plastic card as a guide for tidy, slim folding. (I bought the corresponding Fold N Stax to get more plastic cards than what comes with the unit.) Another bonus is that it's easy to see what all I own, so I don't end up buying three red shirts - hmm, too late for that one.

I wish I'd thought to take a photo of that shelf "before." It used to be three distinct stacks - pants, shirts and, um, other shirts - but had devolved into one big jumble that rained clothes down on my head whenever I tried to choose a pair of pants. And let's not even talk about the shirts!

Here, I'll show you some other photos of my closet/bedroom chaos, and you'll get the idea:

About half of my summer shoe collection has navigated out of the closet and onto the floor in front of the dresser.

My bedroom closet. Believe it or not, my clothes did not cause that swayback in the rod. It was there before we bought the house.

My bedroom armoire. This originated as the place for my winter sweaters and my few dresses and pajamas. But then I bought a lot more sweaters, dresses and pajamas. It's also overflow from the other closet.

I'll wait while you turn your nose up in disgust at my meaningless, consumer-driven life.

Just so you know, I'm posting these photos not because I'm proud but because I'm ashamed. It's getting ridiculous. Not so long ago, I had trouble finding something to wear in the morning because I didn't have much to choose from. Now I have trouble because I have TOO MUCH to choose from. This is what happens to a girl when she loses a few pounds and also starts up an eBay business selling clothes that she happens to love.

We could play a "Where's Waldo?" with these photos. See if you can find the following:

My T-shirt from 10th grade gym class (hint: our mascot was the Patriot)
18 blue items (not counting navy)
My new favorite accessory, a red belt
2 cherry print items
25 pairs of shoes (visible)
2 cotton candy colored items
Evidence that I have lost my mind completely ... oh wait, that's this post.

But don't worry, I have ordered more Slide N Stax. Even if I am a mindless consumer, at least I can be a neat one.

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