Monday, February 21, 2011

The Infamous Tar Paper Drama

This is the hilariously dramatic story of my battle with the tar paper, upon request.  Dun dun dun!!  So our little drama begins to unfold on Valentine's Day.  Valentine's Day morning, the husband tells me he is going to be sent to Florida for work the following morning, and he won't be home till Friday.  OK, no problem.  We go home that evening, have a delightful Valentine's dinner, open gifts, get lovey dovey etc...then he announces he is in fact leaving at 3am.  <record scratch>  Abandoning the dinner wreckage, he goes upstairs to wrangle his laundry for the week ahead.  He comes back downstairs with a look of dread on his face.  "I hate to do this..." he announces, "but some of the tar paper has come off of the back of the house.  You can either deal with it yourself, or call my dad in the morning."  Uh oh.  Danger Will Robinson!  (What the hale am I getting myself into?)

Let's back up.  In the fall, we tore some siding on the back of the house so we could put in the new windows.  While tearing off some of the siding, we got a little crazy and tore all of the siding off the back of the house.  We couldn't afford to replace the siding at the time, so we're using the old hillbilly trick of covering the bare wood with tar paper to get us through the winter.  This is not necessarily a bad plan, except that when the weather gets wild, the tar paper occasionally tears and falls off of the house, resulting in an extension-ladder husband-with-a-staple-gun firedrill.  Except in this case, clearly it was going to have to be a wife-with-a-staple-gun firedrill.  Ruh roh, Scooby.

Tuesday morning dawned ominously rainy.  I seriously pondered calling the new father-in-law but no one wants to be the new wife who is so incapable and bratty that she expects other people to come fix the house when the hubs is out of town!  OK, I can do this...I donned my girl Carhartts (yes, they do make them and yes, they are cute), ratty fleece and gloves and went outside to assess.  One large strip of tar paper was missing, unfortunately positioned about 10 ft. above ground level.  When you're 5 feet tall, 10 feet is a looong way.  The span ran from just over the back deck, behind a tree, and over the basement door stairwell.  First things first, a ladder.

Ah the ladder conundrum.  See, there was already a ladder propped up against this wall.  Right behind the tree, where I would need to get up anyway to staple this new strip of tarpaper.  Unfortunately, this ladder was an enormous one and would put me significantly too high to affix the paper.  Must remove large ladder to make way for smaller ladder.  No problem!  I walked up to that large ladder, grabbed hold of a rung and pulled like hell.  Ladder wouldn't budge.  Mmmmkay.  I wedged my butt up against the tree, braced my legs, and pulled higher on the ladder.  Success!  I managed to tilt the ladder away from the house.  At this moment, two things occurred simultaneously.  The ladder got stuck in the tree, and I realized the ladder was approximately twice as heavy as what I could safely lift.  Unable to lift the big daddy ladder, my only safe option was to tilt the ladder and let it fall in a location where it wouldn't do any damage.  With the glass-french-doored garden shed behind me, the back deck to one side, that left approximately 10% of available area for the ladder to fall.  Awesome.  I climbed up on the deck so as to have better leverage trying to push and pull the ladder out of the tree.  As the ladder swayed close to our brand-new, seven brajillion dollar windows, I broke out in a cold sweat.  Ten body positions later and some minor swearing at the tree and I managed to drop the ladder exactly where I had intended. Off to a good start!

I then discover that putting the short ladder on the back porch actually makes me too tall to hang the strip of paper where I need to.  Short of growing precisely four feet, what's a girl to do?  How about improvise something to stand upon!  Brilliant idea.  What do we have?  A keg and a cinderblock?  Okay!
Oh god.  (Sorry there are no pictures of the actual event and only these scene-of-the-crime ones, but its awfully hard to fear for your life and photograph yourself at the same time.)  I managed to tear a piece of tarpaper roughly the right size, scale this little contraption, and get the first end stapled in.  Success!  Elation!  Oh wait, I still have 3/4 of the sheet left to go.

Next phase, behind the tree.  I manage to wrangle the little extension ladder (which I can lift all by myself thankyouverymuch) into place behind the tree.  Excellent.  I climb up three rungs and realize something doesn't feel right.  Oh right, I put the ladder up to the house backwards.  Whoops!  Back down the ladder, putthethingdownflipitandreverseit (just like Missy Elliott) and ascend again.  Realize that the ends of my ladder are exactly where the tarpaper needs to go.  No problem!  I'll just put my butt in this handy tree, tilt the ladder away from the wall, skootch the paper behind the ladder tips and put the ladder back down.  This technique actually worked!  OMG.  OK, it mostly worked.  In the photo below you can see the semi-unsightly puckering created by my unconventional approach, but the damn paper was up there!  Take that, haters.

  The final and last portion was the sketchiest.  It is a little hard to explain the orientation here which caused all the trouble in the first place but basically, the ladder had to be positioned in the basement door stairwell, all the way up against the back wall.  The kitchen vent was precisely one ladder width away from the back wall of the stairwell.  AKA there was only one place the ladder could be, which of course was precisely the wrong place.  The ladder tips were again positioned in the exact place I needed to put the tarpaper.  No handy tree to tip back into this time.  Couldn't position the ladder lower because with my short arms I wouldn't be able to reach the top of the paper.  Couldn't position the ladder higher because well, to be honest, have you ever tried raising an extension ladder?  It requires some upper body strength that I don't have.  So, what's a girl to do?  I got up there with the paper and pondered this situation.  I wound up tearing it to fit around the ladder and stapling it in place.  Hmmm, sub par, Wifey.  

Never fear, there's nothing like a good chance for a do-over!  I finished this by 8:30 Tuesday morning.  At about 8am on Thursday morning, I was on my way to catch my bus but I had an extra ten minutes.  I was all dolled up for work in my tightest jeans and wool peacoat, but I figured I'd just go peek on my tarpapering job to make sure it was holding up.  Huge mistake.  The tarpaper had torn loose from all but the very far staples.  UGH.  OK, I've got five minutes, I'm just gonna get up there and make it stay up!  Grab staple gun!  Ascend ladder in heels!  Bad plan!  Halfway up the ladder my peacoat got stuck in the tree.  A minute of thrashing around reminded me that my tight-ass jeans were not conducive to any sort of gymnastics.  Or really, any sort of movement at all, short of looking cute.  Two more minutes were spent trying to get the paper up underneath the top layer, while extending my arms over my head all the way and attempting to staple.  Without gloves on.  At the same moment that my hands went numb, I ran out of staples and realized I had missed my bus.  OK, time to back up the bread truck.  I wiggled down the ladder in my tight jeans, stuffed my numb hands inside my pockets and ran inside.  Five minutes later I re-emerged in trusty Carhartts and fleece, found my gloves, taught myself how to reload the staple gun and tried again.
This time, I decided the tearing-around-the-ladder plan completely eliminated the waterproofness of the tarpaper.  After considering the situation for a couple minutes, I came up with a very creative plan.  I stapled the tarpaper OVER the ladder, and carefully retracted the ladder once done.  Looks kinda like an art installation, but is 100 percent waterproof!  Triumph.  Check it:

See there, right under the vent?  It isn't supposed to look like a sea anemone, that's all my "creativity".  

So there you have it, team.  My saga of me vs. the weatherproofing.  However, its amazing how proud you can be of one strip of black paper.  See that new stripy strip in the middle?  All me baby!  The husband got home, checked it out, and proclaimed that it was so good he was leaving it up, even the sea anemone.  I couldn't have been prouder.  Let me know if you all have any questions about tar papering because I am clearly a seasoned pro.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Book Attack!

OMG, it's an actually home-related post.  Don't fall over.  (Although, technically it's about furniture not remodeling.  Sorry people laying tile and scraping walls, I will not be dishing out any nuggets of wisdom today.)

One of the perks of marrying a woodworker is that when you realize that books are totally taking over your life, you have someone on your team qualified to deal with that little problem.  We have a little niche in our guest room wall, created by a chimney, just crying out for some built-in shelves.  Out of respect for the plaster, these aren't actually built-in, but they sure look like it!  Check out the beauteousness of my husband's creations.

So much shelf space!  Yay!  (I haven't gotten around to artistically arranging the shelves yet, but don't you worry, I will!)

You can't really tell from the above photos, but he was going for an Art Nouveau-esque design on the uprights which is really quite beautiful.  Let's try again:
 There, you can kind of see it.  It's a beautiful design...which unfortunately is being obscured by beautiful books. Not the worst thing in the world.

Further things are afoot in the household including a craft room re-sort and a massive furniture rearrangement, so stay tuned!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

OK, so I don't quite have as much love for Valentine's Day as I do for Easter, but one thing that Valentine's Day has going for it is the potential for crafting.  A whole holiday revolving around cute paper products?  YES please!  Last week I hosted a Valentine's crafternoon and I wanted to share some of the amazing creations of my friends, in the hopes that it will inspire everyone everywhere to make someone a really great valentine.  Let's go back in time one week.  (As they would say in Wayne's World, "doodly doo doodly doo doodly doo...")

To fuel the crafts, I set out some cute finger foods.
(Note the in-appropriate-color-scheme Pyrex!)

My helper-friend Krystal, demonstrating how delicious (and festive) radishes are!

We had a great turn-out, despite it being Super Bowl Sunday.  I had to add more chairs to the table and wished I had left the extra leaf in for more glitter space.  The girls mid-craft:
(What's that you say?  What am I wearing?  What, you don't own a vintage cardigan covered in so many pink sequin it weighs five pounds?  I was trying to dress festive!)

The creativity of my friends never ceases to amaze me.  Check out the finished products.

More cuteness:

MORE cuteness!

OK, enough cuteness, let's go for some hilarious cuteness.  Put a bird on it, courtesy of Becca (and if you haven't seen the "Put a Bird On It" sketch from Portlandia do it.)

And further adorableness from Monica:

Are you overwhelmed with pink and red and amazing?  I hope you all have a great Valentine's Day filled with as much love, glitter, and chocolate as you can handle!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

30 Before 30 Update - #23

The 30 Before 30 Project is on and I'm already making progress.  Check it out:

1. Host mah jongg night.
2. Make jam.
3. Host brunch. (Done!)
4. Go for a picnic.
5. Go grocery shopping on my bike.
6. Finish my year-end photo albums.
7. Take Fred to Lost Lake.
8. Rearrange the backyard.
9. Eat at the Space Needle.
10. Stay in bed all day.
11. <edited for privacy.>
12. Have a really girly slumber party.
13. Play a round of mini-golf.
14. Get the craft room sorted and gorgeousified.
15. Go for a weekend in the San Juans.
16. Have an individual date with each NGS.
17. Go for a hike.
18. Plan and cook a week’s worth of dinners.
19. Go to Portland to see old friends.
20. Perfect a signature recipe (one slightly more nutritional than Bundt cake.)
21. Go to the drive-in movies.
22. Get a mani-pedi every month. (Done for Jan and Feb!)
23. Go ice skating. (Done!  Colorado with the parentals!)
24. Find the perfect shade of lipstick.
25. Host a big tea party in the back yard.
26. Make a quilt top.
27. Take six dance classes of any kind. (Two down.  Love the Little Red Hen.)
28. Ride on a Ferris wheel.
29. Organize our finances and filing system.
        30. Plan an awesome 30th birthday party.

This week, I completed #23, "go ice skating".  I went to Colorado to see my parents.  We had an awesome day skiing at Copper Mountain, and topped it off with skating at the most charming skating pond ever to be in existence.  Imagine drifts of snow around a circular pond, trees lit with Christmas lights, bonfire on one side, and no other people on the ice.  As my dear friend Sara would have said, "aaaaaaaaamazing!"  Unfortunately, my mom tore her ACL earlier this week, so it was just me and my dear papa, but Mom was an excellent photographer.

OK, it was really dark and hard to photograph.  But you get the idea.  Totally charming.  #23, it was nice to know you. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Napkin Insanity

The lesson of the day: we NEVER need to buy another cloth napkin.

OK, let's back up the bread truck.  Our work around the house has lately been more of the sorting/purging/cleaning/organizing kind, rather than the renovation kind.  But it's just as necessary, and actually almost as satisfying.  So I thought I'd share my latest organizational triumph.

While we were engaged, we received a ton of linens from Fred's family.  So many, in fact, that I found it sort of overwhelming and we stuffed them in a closet to be dealt with after the wedding insanity had died down.  Cue last week.

Unfortunately I don't have a before picture of this closet.  But imagine total chaos of 100 year old linens.  Add a hamster.  That's pretty much what it looked like.

The new closet:

 Martha would be sooo proud.  So now you want to know exactly how many cloth napkins we own?

 Those are all napkins.  I think the final total came in at ninety bagajillion.  (Or more precisely, around 100.)  But still!  Who needs 100 vintage cloth napkins?  I do, clearly.  Some of them are completely wonderful and ancient and monogrammed, but that's the subject of a different post (watch out, my own version of antiques roadshow will show up any day now.)

Also on the subject of I-am-newly-married-and-suddenly-obsessed-with-linens (ok, I've been into linens for a long time), we finally sucked it up and bought some adult-person towels.  Because I love the vintagey-adorableness of monograms and because I'm tickled to have a brand-new name, we got them monogrammed too!  Check out the cuteness:
Very old Hollywood, non?  I'm in love.  Bath towel?  YES please!

Side discussion: monograms.  Monograms are VERY confusing entities.  Your last name goes in the middle, which is bananas right off the bat.  Linens can either have the traditional monogram (bride's new initials) or the modern monogram (bride's first initial - couple's last initial - groom's first initial).  Confusingly enough, if you want to get glassware monogrammed, the groom's initial is supposed to go first.  Aaaack!  It's enough to drive you distracted.  Why did we get my monogram on our combined towels?  Because the "F" in the monogramming font looked dumb.  Since F doesn't care what is on the towels as long as they dry him sufficiently, we went with mine. 

And then, just to complete the total domesticity, I organized the other linen closet.
It makes me feel better just knowing these closets aren't pits of despair anymore.  Hamsters evicted, peace reigns.  Ahhhh.