highs and lows and klondike bars

8:15 and I’m waiting in line outside of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

It has been an interesting week here in the Land of the Remodel. In the seven weeks since this project began, Banjo Man and I have consoled ourselves at night by eating Klondike bars, those chocolate-covered squares of vanilla ice cream we have never bought until this winter. In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, our nightly ritual of Klondike bars in front of the tv was an excellent stress reducer.

By the way, we’ve been watching season 1 of True Detective and we’re very grateful we don’t live on or near the bayou with all those crazy drugged up people.

Check out the picture I took this morning. Remember I told you I had sold Mom’s car to one of the wonderful electricians? Well, the poor kid couldn’t register it because he needed the title. Recently the Department of Motor Vehicles had changed the rules from not needing a title after 10 years to needing a title until the car was 19 years old!

Who knew? And with my mother’s papers in storage, there was no way to dig out a title. I’d taken a stab at going through her files last fall in hopes of finding the title, but I didn’t spent a lot of time on it knowing it was necessary.

Silly me.

I was on the road at 7:30 this morning and at the DMV–the only place in town with the capacity to issue a duplicate title–at 8:15. There were at least a hundred people ahead of me.

I called Banjo Man and warned him. “I’m going to be here all day.”

But lucky for me, I was out of there within an hour. After lining up with all of my new friends in the wrong place, and then being sent to the right place (the “research” department on the third floor), I discovered there were only two people ahead of me. I was armed with notarized papers and the Power of Attorney and my check book, so it actually went smoothly.

This was not what I expected. The RI DMV is the place of legends. People line up all day and then get a blue “return ticket” to keep their place in line for the next day. A scam was uncovered last year: DMV employees were selling low numbers. For $25 you could save yourself a couple of hours in hell.

Speaking of hell, Banjo Man and I tried to put together a cd storage book case I bought on line. On the right side, part E, the holes were slightly off and the cam locks wouldn’t lock. Some worker in China wasn’t paying attention that day. Banjo Man tried to take out the cam lock and ended up punching a hole in the Side E, which means we can’t return it.

I’ve decided to repackage the whole thing and slide it under the bed until we have more patience. Or somebody really smart and really bored comes over for a visit.

I was sad about this because it was to have held almost 500 cd’s and was the perfect height, width and color for the space in our living room.

In the process of a little retail therapy, I ordered new sandals. They were two inches too long and had to be sent back. Are my feet shrinking? What the hell???!!!

My mother’s new pants are too big and had to be returned. She gave me the latest rejected pair at Easter. I give up. I AM DONE WITH PANTS.

My beautiful new gas range was installed on Friday. The gas company guy, Joel, couldn’t hook up the oven because the door couldn’t be opened all the way (which I’d told the appliance company people weeks ago and they’d said it was a quick fix). But the burners worked, so as soon as Joel left I made pancakes.

The appliance repairman came on Saturday to (a) fix the hinge and (b) install the oven and broiler. After a couple of hours here, he was not a happy camper. In fact, he was downright angry. He (a) couldn’t fix the hinge and (b) couldn’t get the door off. A specialist, a bonafide GE repairman, is coming next week to see what he can do.

In the meantime, the oven works and I made cookies.

I’m pretty sure I’m in love.

I had such a proud moment last week. I patched a serious hole in the ceiling after the electrician centered my new pendant light over the sink. I spackled and sanded three times. And my construction crew guys told me I did a really good job!

They couldn’t hide their surprise. Hah!

I dare you to find where the hole was. Come on over and try!

A low moment last week: we were in Home Depot and Banjo Man told me to pick out stain for the new stair banisters. I totally freaked and started to cry right there in front of all those little cans of stain. “You didn’t tell me, you didn’t warn me, I don’t have my floor sample, I can’t do it,” I wailed.

The decision-making part of my brain has collapsed. Hopefully only temporarily, but still…ask me questions at your own risk.

To add to all of this, Banjo Man has not recovered from the root canal he had three weeks ago. His jaw joint is locked and his cheek muscles are in spasms. He has a hard time eating (an understatement, actually) and we have made two visits to the dentist and oral surgeon. Yesterday’s visit resulted in more medication, exercises and hope for relief some time soon.

Surprisingly, this hasn’t slowed him down too much. He’s installing those freshly-stained stair banisters as I type this.

And I think I’ll put a beef stew in that new oven. Or take a nap. Or both.

from google.sites

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a little update

Pardon my excitement, but I just had to share. Nelson wouldn’t let me take his picture, so I had to settle for the tile.

Lots of thunder and lightning this morning. The crashing sound of disaster woke me at 5 AM. Some of the state lost power. It was intense for a few hours, but now the rain has stopped.

to be continued...

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at least there’s this

Look at me, fancy kitchen person that I am. I now have a Keurig that matches my new counter.

Of course, everything else is a mess and I will have to remove this tonight before the crew returns early tomorrow morning, but I couldn’t resist unpacking this little baby and putting it through its paces for the weekend.

So far so good.

Tomorrow the remodel crew will finish the whole damn thing. On Tuesday the Appliance Guy comes to install the new gas stove.

I was up at 4:30 this morning worrying about everything that could go wrong. I will not torture you with the list.

We are still waiting for the plumber to tell us when he is available to hook up the sink and dishwasher, but another week or so won’t make any difference. I can unpack, wash floors, put the furniture back and hang pictures without needing a working sink.

I have one more round of sanding to do on my ceiling patch job over the sink. It looks pretty darn good to me, but I’m sure my perfectionist work crew will have something to say about it. I expect a lot of eye rolling and unsolicited advice about how to do it better next time.

Our wonderful electricians were here for two and a half days. There was a bit of a crisis while hooking up the new light in the basement kitchen. Suddenly half of the basement went dark. The refrigerator had to be moved. The door opened and a lot of things spilled out. No one cared, least of all me. I heard the crash and then I heard laughter, so I didn’t even go downstairs to see what happened.

I’ve been to Home Depot three days in a row. I buy things, they are wrong, I return them and I try again. It’s quite amazing. I could be losing my mind.

I’m sure this remodel project will end eventually. One way or another, I’ll be back at the lake in forty-eight days.

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the busiest day

Yesterday Banjo Man woke me at 6:30 yelling, “Get up! The counter guy is here!”

I didn’t think so. He comes from an hour and a half away, in Massachusetts. But I staggered out of bed and found my robe to check it out for myself.

It was the lumber company delivering three cabinet doors to replace the defective ones.

Because I was up so early, I actually wrote my phone number on a FOR SALE sign I bought at Walmart last week. I taped it onto the windshield of my mother’s car. That poor Toyota Camry would not hold a charge and we were all–Glen, my brother, my sister-in-law and I—tired of calling AAA. We rarely drove it. I’d been intending to sell it for months, but I wanted to time it so that AAA would charge the battery (or put in a new one), there would not be a cold snap, there would be no construction workers’ trucks in the driveway and it would be a weekend when I could list it on Craigslist.

Slapping the FOR SALE sign on was my commitment to calling AAA on Friday and hopefully selling it this coming weekend. It was parked right in front of our back door, next to the dumpster.

At 9:00 the electricians returned to hang the chandeliers. This would prove to be a nightmare for them and the mysteries of the wiring would continue off an on until after 6 PM.

Everyone looked askance at my fancy crystal island light until it was lit up and then the consensus was that it was “really cool”.

One of the most exciting things–and there were a number of them–yesterday was the centering of the light over my sink, smack dab in the middle of the window.

I’ll be happily patching that hole later on this morning. It’s a thrill every time I look at that centered light.

The counter installer arrived around 11 and–gasp–the installation went beautifully. “Dana” was afraid I was still upset over last week’s fiasco and I had to assure him that I was fine and didn’t hold a grudge. The glue stunk up the place, sending the electricians to the basement to work on things down there.

When they returned, I kept sweeping and cleaning, discussing fixture heights and light switches and music. There was lots of chit chat going on. The sun was shining.

No one seemed too upset when they discovered I’d tossed their circular drywall drill attachments into the garbage box. I thought they were old lighting boxes. They forgave me.

Around 4:00 Banjo Man came upstairs to tell me that one of the boys was interested in Mom’s car. I lowered the price and typed up a bill of sale, just in case.

By 6:30 last night, the car was sold, the lights were in, the wiring had been figured out (after an intense couple of hours) and Banjo Man and I were reeling from exhaustion.

As he said, he was so tired he felt as if he’d done all the work himself. I felt the same way. We were too tired to eat. Banjo Man had a bowl of cereal. My dinner consisted of tequila and potato chips.

Don’t judge me. I’ll cry.

We watched a silly British comedy, DEATH AT A FUNERAL, and the first episode of “True Detective” before staggering off to bed.

Here are the new recessed lights in my office. No more industrial lights hanging from the ceiling! No more extension cords draped over windows and doors!

Today I am washing floors, cleaning cupboards and unpacking more boxes. The contractor is going to come by and hopefully he’ll have good news for me about when the back splash will be installed and if the plumber will hook up the sink and dishwasher this weekend.

It will be nice to have a sink again.

Fingers crossed!

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and week six begins

It’s always a thrill to throw something away.

See the white bookcase? It’s 30 years old and has served me well. But now it’s history.

For my own amusement I often ask Banjo Man, “Would you mind throwing this in the dumpster?”

I say it with a straight face, as if I don’t want to bother him and he’d be doing me a big favor.

And of course his face lights up and he rushes to do the deed. It’s quite entertaining.

Speaking of entertaining, our electrician was here yesterday with his two electrician-in-training sons. It was quite hilarious to watch the father (a highly experienced professional used to running electrical departments in major manufacturing plants) tell his boys what to do and how to do it, though it was clear that the sons knew exactly what to do and how to do it without being told. I loved watching their faces and their restrained, ever-so-patient replies to “Dad” as they were gritting their teeth.

Ah, fathers and sons…..

They are returning today to hang the chandeliers. I can barely stand the excitement. I spent a bazillion hours online picking out these lights and today I’m going to see how they look.

The counter is going to be installed today…I hope. They should arrive any minute now and I’ll know if this time things have been done correctly.

I’m a little nervous.

But progress is being made every time one of these nice electricians picks up a screwdriver, so it’s going to be a good day.

And if I’m feeling stressed, I can always go throw something in the dumpster.

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be still my heart, he’s back!

Jeremy Wade has been off television for two years and…he’s returning with a new show!!!

I had no idea this was happening. Banjo Man was trying to cheer me up this past weekend and discovered reruns of “River Monsters” on the Animal Planet channel. He knew I’d grown tired of “Building Off The Grid” and “Buying Alaska” so he was channel surfing in the hope I wouldn’t resort to one of those “secret prince” movies on the Hallmark Channel.

We watched Jeremy try–and succeed–in catching not one but two saw fish. Great stuff!

But the commercials advertised his new show, “Dark Waters”.

Oh, my. A crummy day had turned into a joyful one.

According to the website:

In JEREMY WADE’S DARK WATERS, Wade spotlights the bizarre, the weird and the mysterious as he investigates baffling, unsolved mysteries. He takes Animal Planet’s audiences on journeys beneath the water in remote areas, to islands lost in time and out into the open ocean to investigate reports that include, among others, entire fish species suddenly disappearing; unexplained sightings of mythical beasts; once thriving rivers now empty; and genetic oddities that may have produced the biggest monsters yet.

So on Sunday night, April 21, I will be right in front of the television watching Jeremy’s newest adventure.

Fish on!

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The Outlaws made Headlines. The Lawmen made History.

We watched this movie Friday night on Netflix. “The Highwaymen” are two Texas Rangers who come out of retirement to put a stop to Bonnie and Clyde’s murder spree. It’s based on a true story–Kevin Costner’s character was known to have been the greatest Texas Ranger in history–and it certainly gave a sense of the Depression.

Neither one of us knew anything about the Texas Rangers and their undercover mission. In a world without satellites, cell phones, computers, GPS, helicopters and drones, catching stone cold killers was not a simple process.

We thoroughly enjoyed it, perhaps more because I needed a little violence in my life after the wrong kitchen counter had been delivered earlier in the day.

And poor Banjo Man was loaded up with pain pills after his morning root canal, so he was happy to relax and watch a movie where he knew the ending.

In other words, we’re giving this a “two thumbs up” from the basement!

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what’s wrong with this picture?

Hint: it’s the sink cutout.

Yesterday, after waiting three weeks for this counter (and for the finishing stages that would follow next week) the counter company guys arrived and unloaded my lovely “solid surface” (aka Corian) counter in three pieces.

Oh, the excitement!! Its installation meant that next week the construction crew could return and tile the back splash, install the missing cabinet doors and hook up the sink and dishwasher. And then I could have my new gas stove installed!

But no…because the idiot who came to measure and make a template two weeks ago had–for some mysterious reason–countermanded all the typed instructions on the contract and scrawled, “DROP IN SINK” over the order.

I do not have a drop in sink. I have an undermount sink. It actually can go either way, but we’d stipulated an undermount installation.

I honestly think the guy who came to measure and make the template was high on something. He was overly cheerful and energetic and didn’t want me asking too many questions. He kept telling me it was all going to be beautiful, even when I reminded him I was told he would take the sink with him to make sure the counter was cut properly. He said no, don’t worry, it’s all going to be perfect.

Liar. Idiot.

So now the counter pieces have been taken away and the folks at the counter company have promised us (ha!) that they will install the proper counter by next Friday.

So another week goes by.

I cannot unpack the silverware or fill the lower cabinets with pots and pans and little appliances. The boxes are stacked to the ceiling in the bedroom and will have to wait another week or two.

I was so furious. There was no one to take it out on, because the screw up wasn’t the installers’ faults. Poor Banjo Man was suffering from his root canal earlier in the day and was in no shape to listen to my ranting. “Tammy” at the counter company had apologized and promised what she could–installation next week– but I am sure she was lying. I had to call the contractor back and tell him we weren’t ready for a plumber and tile next week after all.

Then I drove down to Westerly to “eat my feelings” by purchasing hot dogs and buns. I could no longer wait for summer and the grill on the porch. Indigestion would keep me awake until 3 AM, so it wasn’t the best decision, but a craving is a craving, even though I was still furious and frustrated long after eating the hot dogs for dinner. Tonight I will be content with yogurt.

I know I sound like a “Whiny Girl” (a nickname for one of our dogs who would annoyingly whine about anything), but let me review:

The sink flood was the day after Thanksgiving. The insurance company lost our claim in their computer. By the time it was straightened out–after Banjo Man made several LOUD phone calls–it was December 17.

December 20th Jim The Contractor came to look at the job of replacing a cabinet or two and most of the upstairs flooring.

February 8: Jim and the Snobby Kitchen Designer arrived, along with the Flooring Guy, to measure the kitchen. Jim would not return with his crew to demo the kitchen and floors until MARCH 8!!!

The kitchen cabinets arrived the following week and–lo and behold!–the size was wrong. The Snobby Kitchen Designer had screwed up. There would be a delay of two weeks while new ones were ordered.

The lower cabinets were installed and then the flooring, which went like clockwork over two days.

The crew–lovely sweet young men–would work elsewhere and return to our house when the upper cabinets arrived.

But when that happened–happy day!–THREE of the cabinet doors were defective and had to be reordered. “Made in America” had let us down.

This meant I could not line the shelves or unpack dishes and glassware.

And still can’t.

We had the new gas range delivered but not installed (we were wrongly told that the counter-measuring guy needed it). The door is faulty and won’t open all the way and the propane conversion kit we’d paid for was not included.

This was not a cheap stove.

We bought it from a local, family-owned appliance store and they have been nice about promising to fix everything whenever I am able to have the thing installed.


This whole thing has been quite an experience.

I will not bore you with descriptions of Home Depot salespeople with their heads in their computers and no desire to help anyone (my friend Sharon had the exact same experience last week while trying to buy a refrigerator) or the vast empty wasteland that is Lowe’s counter and kitchen department. I suggest, if you are shopping there, to bring a megaphone so you can shout for assistance.

As Banjo Man pointed out, this was a pretty small remodel project and a lot of things have gone wrong. What on earth goes on in a big project? How many screw ups happen when building a house?

It’s mind boggling.

Today I am going to try to figure out how I can make any kind of progress in the house. Any little bit would help, so it’s time for more coffee and a serious analysis of the tasks ahead. Without bothering Banjo Man, who is suffering. And without having a temper tantrum.

Wish me luck.

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going once…

The Shelter Harbor Inn, about 20 minutes south of here, had been sold. A farm in the 1800’s, an Inn in 1911, a music colony for composers, a little destination resort with 24 rooms, large restaurant and two tennis courts, Shelter Harbor seems to have been in our little corner of Rhode Island forever.

Son Will worked in the catering department for many college summers.

But it had been sold to a pair of local entrepreneurs who intended to gut the place, totally redesign it (the Hollywood designer was there to hang out for a while) and reopen as a live music venue with a restaurant.

Even the signs were on sale.

Saturday was the big day for the auction. I’d seen the large white tent for over a week, but I hadn’t intended to go. Being deathly afraid of buying something unnecessary I’d decided it was best not to be tempted. But Banjo Man? He woke me before 7 AM Saturday morning, calling “Let’s go, the preview is at 8!”

This was the same man who had been suffering from a toothache for the last four days. He’d been eating chicken soup–I’d made a vat of it in the crock pot–and downing Tylenol.

So off we went and, thank goodness, there was a ton of old stuff but not “old in a good way”. The inn had fallen onto hard times a few years ago, so there were lots of bargains in the “furniture tent”. After roaming through the furniture and then the various rooms on the main floor, Banjo Man declared there was only one thing he wanted: a metal dolly in the “tool tent”.

“That will be the last place they auction off,” I warned him. But one of the auctioneers assured him that they would get there sooner than later.

He fibbed.

I found a comfy chair and settled in–until they sold the chair (there were two dozen of them). Then we left the Inn and went down the road to have breakfast.

Arriving back less than an hour later there hadn’t been much progress. They were auctioning everything from the long oak bar to a case of paper cups. A lot of the stuff looked like it should have gone straight to the dump.

Lots of interest for the hundreds of pots and pans and baking sheets. I repeatedly told myself I no longer had a need for a dozen baking sheets and kept my hand from waving in the air.

There were two rooms filled with dishes and glasses. Tables, cloths, chairs, everything! I did lose my mind for five minutes and bought four bentwood chairs (from the lounge) for $5 each.

A temporary solution to our chair problems.

We need dining room chairs, but I am so tired of making design and decorating decisions. Banjo Man is super fussy about seating and I just don’t have the energy. These will do, at least until next fall when we can shop with more enthusiasm than desperation.

Here’s something I insanely coveted:

A catering cooler.

I wanted this for no other reason than I thought it would be a cool thing to have for a party. Banjo Man said it was falling apart and wasn’t impressed. It was in the tool tent and went for $5.00.

Ah, the tool tent…

It was now FOUR O’CLOCK and we had been there for 8 hours. At 3:00 I took a break and drove to Wendy’s for a cold drink and then to Home Goods to look at pretty Easter things. Banjo Man stayed behind and watched as more dishes, more glasses, more chairs, etc. were sold before the crowd went down to the tool tent.

The stuff under the tool tent was all that remained and at 4:15 Banjo Man, me and one of the auction crew were the only people in the tent. They tried to round up more people to continue the auction, but could only come up with two more as everyone else had bought what they wanted or left empty-handed. No one was interested in a dozen toilets, porcelain sinks or boxes of electrical outlets. Imagine that.

Needless to say, Banjo Man won his dolly for $5.00. To me it looked like a baking pan on wheels but my husband declared it the bargain of the day and proudly shoved it into the back of the car with my $5 chairs.

He was beyond thrilled which, my friends, clearly illustrates the difference between men and women.

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april flowers

A gift from my friend Barbara, these tulips certainly brighten up the basement. I had no idea where the vases were packed, so I used the bottom half of my Dutch windmill cookie jar. Very appropriate!

I love tulips.

Tomorrow Banjo Man has his first root canal and the crew from Lowe’s installs the new counter.

My tiny counter sample, a Corian-like product.

I hope both procedures are performed perfectly–with no pain and no surprises.

I’ll keep you posted.

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