Pulling Up the Tarp

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Moment of Truth!

littlebasil

This morning, I transplanted my itty bitty baby basil sprouts (from seed!) into a larger pot:

bigbasil

Those babies had a LOT of roots mashed up together at the bottom of that little pot. More than I expected. Hope they survive.


Masterpiece

To give you an idea of what’s floating around in my mind tonight, I will tell you about some articles I’ve read tonight, in no particular order: scraping popcorn ceiling off, what asbestos is, what joint compound is, how to hang drywall, what metal beading is, how to apply joint compound to metal corner beading, and lastly, how to apply a skim coat to drywall. Judging by these topics it sounds like I’m going to gut a room and start from scratch. Luckily for everyone within a 10 mile radius, I’m not that ambitious (tonight).
Last night, we celebrated my youngest son’s 6th birthday. We had a little party here at the house with family and a couple friends, Batman themed. There are about two months between now and my oldest son’s 11th October birthday, plenty of time for us to get the playroom cleared out and prepared for him to move into it from a shared bedroom with his little brother. Maybe we will make a trip to goodwill tomorrow and stop at the hardware store for paint samples. I’d like a slate blue for that room, my son votes turquoise (?!). I am also anxious to rip up the carpeting in there and will probably put down some laminate flooring until I can get tile going.
As I watched videos here and there on the topics mentioned above, it occurred to me how familiar some things were to me, down to the boxes of product and the sound the knife made as it was scraping along the drywall. My dad was a carpenter for most of my childhood. I have no solid memory of ever watching him at work at any jobsite, but I could almost smell the compound as if I were in the room. A memory that’s lost without a tiny visual cue. I felt comfortable and at ease just watching. I also felt, as I watched one man mixing a little water into his compound, that each element of constructing, repairing, or resurfacing had its own set of supplies and techniques that all fit together. Layers that create a home. Each, to me, was its own art project. A tiny art project that I am fully capable of completing.


Surprise Blooms and an Unidentified Blockage

red flowers

About a month ago, I was either getting the mail or taking out the trash when I noticed something red on one of the bushes in front of my house. I rarely use the front door, except to water the jasmine that’s out there, so I never look at the bushes. I smiled as I approached the bush — it had a few of these cool red flowers that I’ve never seen on it. I have lived here for almost two years without this bush blooming to my knowledge.

red flowers
Standing in front of the surprise blossoms was like having a conversation with a friend who still continues to surprise. There are many more things to know about parts of our lives — inanimate or not — than we consider.

stalk

And then there are inanimate things that we — or I — could live a happy life without “consider”ing. Desert plant buffs, prepare to cringe. Before the holidays when my amazing neighbors came to help hack down all my bushes, they suggested trimming this plant by tying up part of it and just trimming whatever was underneath it. Part of this was to deter pack rats and spiders and promote the general health of the backyards that all four intersect in the corner where the plant resides. Come spring, I was throwing a going-away party for a co-worker and thought this to be a good time to approach this task. I whined and cried and pissed and moaned as I crawled around under that thing for maybe two hours with a pair of gloves and a small pair of handheld gardening clippers. The spiky fronds kept pulling at my hair and scratching and stabbing pretty much my entire body. Add to that the spider webs I found, the old dead rotten oranges fallen from the neighbor’s orange tree, and intermittent and sudden “scurrying” by lizards, and I was not a happy girl. I had a huge pile of spines and other plant parts by the time my wrist was ready to throw in the towel. I am still only half finished. If you see a tweet in the feed about me opening a beer at 7:30 in the morning, you’ll know I am tackling the rest of those damn dead fronds. As I was working I kept thinking that the previous owner should’ve trimmed them AT LEAST once (!!), but to be fair, I have lived here for a while now and could’ve done it much sooner too.

stalk1

Just to add a little more fun to the subject of the almost-succulent from hell, a stalk has grown out of the top of it and is, of course, leaning toward my neighbor’s yard as it begins to flower. Really need to keep an eye on that sucker as the monsoon approaches. Ah, the perks of DIY landscape maintenance.

As a horrific note, my sons thought it would be a good idea to fill my compost can with water . . . and leave it sitting there . . . in the heat . . . without telling me about it . . . so that after a few days it was positively putrid and full of f_______ flies. I had to drain a bunch of the water; hated that. I put a bunch of dirt in the can to dry it up and the boys heard about it from me.

Moving indoors, I repaired a towel rack last week. My Monkey Children like to swing on the towel racks, naturally.

towel rack

I bought a Tiny Screwdriver set as suggested by Video Joe Knows. It came with a standard and a phillips head screwdriver, mini, as the name suggests. Turns out all you have to do is screw the part that holds the bar into the little flat piece mounted on the wall. That took about 1 minute to do as my son cleaned out their bathroom drain:

water

That’s the first time it’s ever stopped up that much. And the water is murky because they continued to use the sink to brush their teeth and rinse out their mouths in it. So that is my eldest son’s hand in the photo as I am instructing him to untwist and pull out the stopper of the drain. He asked why he had to and I explained that it’s their drain and he needs to learn to do it, that he’s a boy and boys like gross things, and lastly that I would vomit if I had to do it. After some complaining and wrestling with the stopper, he got it out and we were faced with this:

gunk2

Bleh. He wore a glove because he wanted to and used about 187 toothpicks to pull all that crap out. He thought it was hilarious how unsettled I was by that gunk. He was proud to have gotten it all out though. Little punk. He even WAVED some of it at me. Gross.

gunk3

I had him clean out the sink after that and put all of our tools away where they go. I don’t understand what that is in the drain and I don’t want to know. Perhaps some preventive maintenance is in order. It’s funny the things I am still learning about running a home. I don’t know if these things are basic or obvious but I suppose the important thing is that I am learning them.

My basil seeds sprouted on Wednesday.

Time to make a drink. Good night.


Your Drain Update, as Promised.

So, last week, I attempted to clear my shower drain the way I saw it done in videos and failed.

supplies

scene of the crime

To begin, I assembled all of my materials. Drain auger, standard screwdriver, rubber gloves, beer, newspaper,and courage. I started by unscrewing the plate underneath the faucet so as to work the snake down there and pull the clog out that way, clean and slick and all at once:

removing the plate

removing the plate

You can see that I have the newspaper over the drain for when I inevitably drop one of the screws and I am wearing my weekend jeans, just in case. I was paranoid about disgusting bugs climbing out of that dark hole and toward my face, just so you know. Once the metal plate was safely out of range of the drain (read on the floor outside and next to the tub), I got comfortable with shoving the business end of the snake down the pipe in efforts to find something to fish out:

snake-it.jpg

Nothing. More shoving, more snaking, more snagging, more swearing.
Still nothing.
Fine.
I haven’t been able to get the stopper out of the drain. I chalked it up to my lack of knowledge about different drains or else to HAIR holding it. I’ve been trying to unscrew it for months. I kind of started prying at it with the screwdiver. I don’t know what made me go get my little knife, but after I worked that around the base of the stopper, the damn thing finally came free.

ew.

ew.

Between my rubber-gloved hands, the snake, and the screwdriver, I removed the hair as best I could and snaked at the drain a little and very poorly. Then I flushed it with water and it’s been clear since then.

wah.

wah.

Week after next is the drain in the kitchen sink. I’m on vacation next week baby!


Step One

The drain in my shower upstairs is clogged. When I shower, water backs up and gets up to my ankles and drains very very slowly. It’s hair in there, I know it is. And I hate pulling hair out of drains. Who doesn’t, right? So step one was to check out youtube.com for a video on how to clear the drain. This was the best one I found:

Informative and horrifying all in one. Entertainment, folks. This afternoon I gathered up some newspapers to catch the clog, a screwdriver for the plate in the tub, and my rubber gloves that thinly protect me from nasty things. I started to unscrew the screws and . . .

drain1

. . . paused to take a photo so you could see the process and what I found. I was looking for an attachment similar to the one in the above video that connects a long metal part from the plate down to a spring designed to hang near the drain and catch debris. The idea is that you can pull the plate off and with it the clog. Then you replace it and shower clog-free. I found that I have no such attachment and next week you will find a post from me on how to use a plumber’s auger, or rather, my experiences with a plumber’s auger. Also known as a “snake”. Sigh.


Fox Point

Briefly, regarding my last post, my trees got damaged pretty well with a bizarre streak of below 20 degree lows out here in the desert. It is not pretty. The leaves are mostly still green but are completely shriveled up and brittle. They fall off the trees if I brush by them. My singular lemon turned to mush but the grapefruits seem to be fine. I did cover each tree according to my neighbors instruction — which was maddening on a cold and windy afternoon — but I think we were too late and underprepared for the temperatures. I am not too concerned about the damage to the lemon tree, at least not yet as I don’t know much about caring for formerly frozen plants. I was already planning on cutting a lot of it off this spring for a fresh start and some definition anyway. It has no trunk and no direction. It’s still wild, even with as much as I’ve chopped off of that poor damn thing. Sounds kind of like me.

As for indoors around here, I have replaced two more cartridges in the faucets to alleviate incessant dripping. I had my sons help me with it a little bit. It was not quite the bonding moment that I expected it to be, but they did what they would. I have also screwed a little tiny box of wires back into the wall in the living room. I have no idea why it is there. I have resolved to replace the wooden threshold of the front door and the weatherstripping around the door as I can see light coming through it during the day. The dial to turn the water on and off in my sons’ shower dramatically snapped in half as my eldest son was turning the water on one morning. Naturally, I bought completely the wrong replacement piece and have yet to return or exchange it. Good thing we have pliers. Lastly, my temper has cost me all the time and materials I spent repairing the first kitchen drawer that broke several posts ago. At least now I have experience.

And to finally address the title of this page, I drove past my old apartment complex today. For some reason, every time I pass it, I look toward my former patio. I am honestly looking for my 20 year old self to be standing there perhaps talking on the telephone. When I look I get a calm feeling, as if I am remembering that those were the days, when I lived there, when I had everything together and I was the best version of myself. It was the first apartment that I paid for by myself every month. I came into my own as I lived there and at first memory I feel serenity. Truthfully though I’m sure I felt more afraid and indecisive than I do now. I panic all the time about bills and food and “making it” and something breaking in this house. It is a much better pot for me in which to grow, though. With my babies. Yesterday I was standing in the kitchen when I realized that this is where my sons will learn to cook. This is where they will surpass me in height. This is where they will learn to drive. Damn this house and I are lucky.


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