I hate losing things. It’s such a waste of time looking everywhere. But when you DO find it, it’s like pulling a rock out of your shoe. So, here’s the piano bench. I got it from my mother-in-law, Eva, many, many years ago. Another one of those items that moved around with me and even had one (or more) feet in the car on its way to the donation center, but something always stopped me. I did the upholstery when I first got it.
So, when my neighbors and I remodelated the hallway of our apartment building just before Christmas, I was looking for something to set in the corner. Something that had soft parts, because the hall became very echo-y after we removed the carpet. So I. . .
repainted the bench, reupholstered the seat and added a pillow. Like anyone’s ever going to sit around on the landing in the stairway, but it does help soften the noise.
BUT, when I went to put the top back on, I’d lost one of the hinges. I looked everywhere. Under everything. In pockets, purses, couch dregs, but nothing. Then, this morning I ran out to the car (which was quite an undertaking since wind chills are 55 below) and didn’t stop to take the annoying bump out of my shoe. When I got back. . .
HA! has at last reared its gorgeous white head and we all feel a bit more wintery, I decided to delve into recent history to document my sojourn in this rather amazing space. When I moved in I had a crippled cat, the walls were pink and the carpet was brown. Those issues have all been remedied now.
Brown carpet, though unforgivable, is understandable. Most dirt is from the Browntone Family, so it doesn’t show itself readily on brown flooring, which is probably a landlord’s aim. But Brown. If I never had to see this absurd color again, I would be happy. I am eternally grateful that snow is not brown. Neither is spring.
The walls? I think the intention was to paint them taupe, but taupe is a tricky one. It can easily lean in many directions from orange to purple to, in this case, pink. Every wall was painted this pathetic pink. Had it been rose or petal pink, I’d have willingly paired my reds, maroons, blacks and rusts with it. But it was so mournful. It was sorry to even exist. Poor Pink, mistaken for taupe.
But it’s better than Pickled.
The woodwork was pickled. The pickled wood fashion has come and gone several times during the 70-odd years this building has existed. I didn’t like it any of those times. It’s when you take the warmth of wood and wash it out with some white stuff that makes it look like it’s been in a pickle jar for eons. I’m not a fan,
Then there was the carpet. Every time I walked from the living room into the hall leading to bedrooms and bath, I could feel a tiny transition in the floor under the carpet and pad. Yes, I have Princess Toes. They could feel a pea under a carpet, apparently. I knew that this transition probably held a secret stash of hardwood flooring.
Now, I’m all about cozy and hygge, but for some reason the flooring industry is lagging in its pursuit of innovative materials for contact with the bottoms of our feet. No one seems capable or willing to invent something that’s cleanable(!), removable, attractive and durable.
Carpet? Under which there’s a room-sized sponge soaking up every dust particle, microscopic critter and drop of liquid, including bodily fluids, that ever come in contact with the floor from now until tear-out. What ARE you thinking? Let’s save ALL the disgusting spills for the next 25 years so we can smell them while they decompose. I guess that’s why Glade was invented.
So, in the winter of 2016 starting cautiously with a tiny corner in the hallway between the bedrooms, I tore out all the carpet and its accompanying sponge. Out! Out! Damn sponge. I took pictures but the )*A&)#(*$ camera I was using bit the dust and its pictures went with it. I checked all of the numerous (50?) SD cards I could find in both houses and my vehicle and nothing turned up. Alas, my colorful descriptions will have to suffice.
Utility knife. Check. Pry bar. Check. LARGE garbage bags. Check. Off we go, cutting the carpet, woven in an endless loop which comes apart like one long ramen noodle and refuses to be cut by even the sharpest of utility knives. Annoying. But still fun. Along the walls are nail strips that pop off with the pry bar. But THEN the nightmare staples.
Dear Flooring Guys, Do you honestly think that the weird speckled foam stuff that you put under carpet is going to grow Lit-Tle Foam Feet and run away from home? Do you think that three staples per inch are necessary to hold it in place? Did you expect that Jave Baez would be practicing base sliding throughout this apartment?
Staplesstaplesstaplesstaples. All over. Stuck into the beautiful oak floors. I have no idea what Ann and Kory downstairs thought I was doing, but eventually, I removed every stitch of carpet and threw it onto the balcony outside. It eventually found a home in the dumpster out back. Yay.
The staple holes add character.
The Living Room floor however, was made of plywood.
So I painted it.
White. Nice contrast to the black of the cat, don’t you think?
In fall of 2012 massive upheavals took place in my life and I moved into this apartment building. That’s Ella reigning over the lawn this past fall while she was staying with me during her parents’ (Kent and Brenda) visit to Oklahoma. I realized I’d never taken a photo of the outside of the building so snapped a quick one.
At Christmas, Ansel drove up with his dog, Maebe. We all met at my apartment and celebrated. Short but very sweet visit. A house fulla dogs.
It’s a solid old building with its share of quirks, but I have become very fond of it. My space is on the south side, so has windows facing east, south and west. Very sunny. THAT is the therapy part.
Everything about today was kind of impulsive (not to be confused with COMpulsive, which seldom happens here). I decided to replace the desk I kind of like with the one I REALLY like in my closet office. The main reason is that the bedrooms are so small here at Libby’s that there’s room for a bed and pretty much nothing else. And the Really Like desk was taking up room in the East Bedroom. So, I pulled the Kind Of desk out of the closet, then removed the floor rug, which had become disgusting and realized that there was bare concrete under there.
Hmm, methinks. This is an excellent opportunity to test the flooring I’ve been researching: Congoleum Carefree. (The painted concrete idea, while ok, wasn’t a rousing success because it weeps during very humid summer days thereby molding the rugs and causing enough moisture to make the floor slippery. Dehumidifer can only do so much.) I can see how the flooring survives the winter by laying it in the closet. It floats, so if the cold damages the product, I can pick it up and toss it.
Congoleum warns that this product needs to be at 65 degrees or above at all times. Right. Well, he who obeys the rules gets stuck with mainstream stuff resulting in a Generic House. Maybe Congoleum will be interested in the results of my research. Although I doubt it.
So instead of immediately exchanging desks, I drove to Menards to buy a box of the flooring. I also bought this stuff called DMX Underlayment that’s supposed to let moisture evaporate due to its Patented Air Circulation Wondrousness. I put that down under half the flooring (also against the Rules) and laid the rest on the bare concrete. I’d like to use the underlayment because I’m hoping for warmth, so as September cools down, I’ll have my toes do a review.
SO. While I’m wandering the aisles of Menards — always dangerous — I see this on sale:
How could I resist? I bought the same item in a double version for Brenda’s birthday and we’ve been having a blast with it. So, I blew it up — that would be inflated it — and took it for a spin. Lots of fun for $49.
So, when I ripped the old shower out of the “shower house”, as it was called then, I really liked the way the space opened up. In fact, I had thought of making it into a bunkhouse or kind of a tiny home, but I couldn’t finagle a bed in there unless it was standing up. I thought guests might complain. But WHOA! Once I removed the plastic stand-alone shower, there were copious possibilities for my little shack.
Next, I bought a little portable building in which to put tools, nails, screws and presumably lawnmower and pressure washer, but the two last ones were pushed out by whatever-the-hell-is-taking-up-all-the-space and continue to reside under the deck.
Once the place was empty, I painted, spruced, cleaned and got Orkin to evict the mice who’d been living there for generations. That was in 2016. Then! Then it struck me that I should put the shower outside. It would be easy for me to plumb it into the back side of the building because there’s water there already AND a water heater. HA! Hot showers in nature.
I thought I would just build a little platform and put a new plastic stand-alone shower out there. It would look kind of ratty being all white, but I had some ideas. Well. Justin Pistohl who did the siding on the house and shower house surprised me with this new cedar shower. He texted me this picture while I was gone for the weekend. What a guy.
It’s really hot. I seldom go into the water unless I’m really hot. And I was really hot after watering the flowers, so I waded around the shallow end for a few minutes. Since a clean shoreline is a happy shoreline I am in the habit of removing floating weeds and debris (Coke cans are numerous. Lots of Coke freaks on Trego Lake, I guess.)
I pulled out a raft of floating branches and this handsome dude on YouTube told me it was a willow. He also told me how to propagate it. I’ve wanted to plant willows for some time now, as they grow fast and I like to watch them when it’s windy. So, I cut the wayward willow branches into 10-inch pieces per the Handsome Guy and put them in water.
This past spring, I bought six bare-root willows from Farmer Seed Company and they are definitely dead. Maybe these will work. No doubt they lived somewhere upstream successfully.
*An obscure reference to the movie Willow, which we watched 487 times when the boys were small. Mostly at Grandma Sheahan’s house because she had it on VHS. The only other choice in VHS movies was a National Geographic special on hairless cats.
UPDATE: I was gone for a few days (all over Wisconsin and the U.P.) and when I came home I thought the whole experiment was a bust. The leaves all fell off and the water was scummy. BUT, once I gave it fresh water, I see that there are new leaves and lots of roots.