Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bang the gongs! Ring the bells!

Our laundry room is officially done.

With the help of a handyman, the folding-folding tables are now mounted on the wall, and this concludes the laundry room project that began in August. Yes, they're folding-folding tables. Because our new laundry room is also the pass-through to the attic and kind of narrow, I bought a couple tables that fold down that we will use for folding our clothes instead of letting them pile up on the guest room bed. And the handyman also built a little shelf in the guest room closet that is adjacent to the laundry room to hide the pipes that go through it to the laundry machines.

Do you smell that smell? It's the smell of victory.

Verily, verily, it took a long time. It is so hard to get anything done when everything you need to do has something that needs to be done before it. Home ownering is like that, it turns out. Holy.

Next stop: kitchen. But while we're prepping for that, I need to ask the Universe to help me find the strength to persevere. Also, I need the Universe to know that I want some shelves for the living room.

With the completion of this laundry room project, I'm starting to regain strength. Scott and I spent several hours today trying to organize the basement, and that helps a person feel like they're moving in the right direction. I just want to continue this forward movement. I want to feel excited about our house. Universe, will you help me?

While I was napping the weekend before last, Scott rearranged the furniture in the living room in such a way that there is room for a couple proper bookshelves. If I can acquire the bookshelves that will fit, I will be able to unpack my books, which have been in the basement since we moved in. And I will feel more at home. Here's what we need:

Two bookshelves made of solid wood. Maybe even three. We prefer mission style, if possible. We have dark red furniture, so I think darker wood would be nicest. I'd like them to be about five feet tall and two to two-and-a-half feet wide and deep enough to hold your average book - no more than a foot, I'd say.

I have such a specific vision because I saw what I wanted on Craigslist about a month ago, but didn't realize we had the room for them until Scott worked his magic. He is extremely magical.

Anyway, that's it.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

My identical-twin grandmother - plus a few other things

Grandmother Myszkowski, my identical-twin grandmother, will shortly be having a birthday. I'm making her a proper cake next week. I can't wait! I asked her what kind of cake she likes. She said, "Any kind of cake is fine." And then said, "Surprise me!" And then added, all casual-like. "Carrot cake is nice."

She's visiting the north country for the summer, but no one told me she's been up for a month, so I only just saw her last weekend for the first time. Oh, I've missed too much! Last year I saw her a total of once due to moving mayhem and this year I need to catch up. I get such a kick out of that lady. She's a sassy broad who is happy to tell you just what she thinks. Calling her candid would be a bit of an understatement. It's pretty hilarious.

If we're Facebook friends, you've seen her. She's in my current profile photo. That's how fucking cool she is.

Speaking of my grandmother and Facebook, I have a few updates.

Grandmother complained that I'm not updating my blog as much as I used to. (See? I told you she is cool.) She's right. There are a number of things going on here.
  1. One of them is that when something funny or exciting happens, I make it a status update on Facebook. Then I forget about it and I don't write a blog about it. It's Facebook's fault. For example, the Prairie Home Companion live at Tanglewood? That would make a great post! Too bad I wrote all about it already on Facebook. (Summary: I shook Garrison Keillor's hand.) See what I mean?
  2. Scott has rearranged his work schedule to be off on Saturdays, so we could be together more on the weekends when I'm not working. This has been going on for a couple weeks now. Generally, I spend the most amount of personal time online on Saturdays, and if I had something to say would say it then. So there's that.
The other thing is that a fellow friended me on Facebook because he subscribes to my blog! But I didn't accept his friendship because I didn't know him. Then he friended me again, so I gave him the third degree, and then, since it turned out he came in peace, I accepted. I guess my point here is that if you should friend me on Facebook, mention this blog so that I don't treat you like a stranger. Also, I wish I could find out who was subscribed to this blog. Is that something I can find out? Who knows about this stuff?

We will shortly begin a giant house project, which will likely suck my will to live, but will ultimately improve my quality of life so much that I won't even be recognizable. If you happen to notice radio silence around here, drop me a line and remind me to blog about it. It's going to be madness!

Today we bought a new mattress. It's being delivered on Monday. We were just walking on Main Street in Greenfield this afternoon and suddenly found ourselves in Mattress Outlet. We've gone mattress shopping a few times without really falling in love with a mattress and we had no plans to buy a mattress today. Then we placed our bodies upon the most comfortable bed I've ever, ever been on and we had to have it. Plus, since it's from Vera Wang, you know it's stylish. I cannot wait for it to arrive. I'm going to have to rearrange my schedule a bit on Monday to be here when the nice men arrive, and that's fine by me. I can't think of a better reason to rearrange a work schedule, honestly.

The final update is that today I was recognized at my favorite farm stand, Golonka Farm Stand, in Whately. They have such glorious produce and the sweetest corn you will ever taste. Oh, it's so good! We're having some for dinner tonight. In any case, while I was checking out, one of the ladies said to me, "Are you Jennifer?" Indeed, I was Jennifer, and so I told her so. She told me she got a kick out of my radio program. I said, "I get a kick out of doing it, so it all works out." Then I told them that theirs was my favorite farm stand, because it's true, and the lady who never smiles smiled. How about that?

The world, it's our oyster, isn't it?

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Feelin' hot-hot-hot (a few moments of boiling anger with Jennifer Myszkowski - plus, some advice)

Our furnace had a problem last week and we lost the heat. I wasn't sure what to do, so I called the oil company and asked them if they could service our furnace. The nice lady replied, "We're scheduling service for January."

"I don't know if we can wait that long," I told her, "Our furnace won't turn on."

Lickety-split, there was a fellow (I like to call him Mr. Furnace, though his actual name was Jim) in our basement berating the previous owner of our house for taking such shitty care of the furnace. He was ready to berate me, but when I told him we only just bought the place six months ago and we're first-time home owners, he was filled with the compassion.

Well, not exactly filled, but he had some and he started telling me what we need to do from now on. I think I won him over when I stopped him so I could go get a pen and paper to take notes. I was drinking from his font of knowledge, after all.

In the homeowner statement that sellers fill out, the previous owners of the house claimed to have regularly serviced the furnace.

When Mr. Furnace cracked open our furnace, he said that, at minimum, it's been four years since the furnace was serviced.

I'll tell you, that guy had eyes like an eagle. He was in our basement for two minutes and he noticed an oil leak by the tank, a water leak from the furnace and that there were no service records by the furnace.

The oil leak was a function of the furnace not being serviced for a long time. There's a filter that should get changed once a year. After four years, it kind of gave up and started leaking. Can you blame it?

One thing that Mr. Furnace told us that we didn't know and I feel compelled to share is that if you're looking at a house and there are no service records hanging from the furnace it means:
  1. The homeowner removed them to hide a problem with the furnace
  2. The realtor removed them to hide a problem with the furnace

Bottom line: no service records spells trouble. If there are no furnace service records hanging from a furnace, a home buyer should pay for a furnace inspection ($50-$100) and then force the homeowner to pay for the repairs before making the purchase.

I never even heard of this. Mr. Furnace suggested that perhaps our inspector should have told us this and that he might be a second-rate inspector since he didn't, but I truly don't believe that. Our inspector gave us so much really right-on information and great advice that I can't hold him responsible for missing one small thing.

Also, we read about 100 articles and books about home buying and not a single one suggested this.

But Mr. Furnace suggested it and now I'm suggesting it.

Mr. Furnace was here for about four hours. He replaced the transformer, which blew because the furnace wasn't working properly due to not having been serviced, then he fixed the whole thing up right. It was a giant ruckus and, I'll tell you, Mr. Furnace was furious with the previous owners of our house.

And so was I. I got powerfully angry at those motherfuckers. In fact, Scott and I toyed with the idea of sending them a letter. I wanted it to be snarky and sarcastic. Scott wanted it to be just honest and disappointed. I voted the whole thing down because I don't want to be that guy, but it's so tempting to be that guy!

If we ever sell this house, I hope the new people don't hate us and take our names in vain. We're trying so hard to do right by the house.

When it was all said and done, the bill for the repair was not as bad as I thought it would be. It was still a lot of money, but it certainly could have been more. And the beauty part is that I had the money and we're not going to starve as a result of our having had to repair the furnace. And the reason they hid the service records is because there is something pretty big that needs to be repaired and soon, but it's not effecting the efficiency of the furnace and we still have heat. We just have to closely monitor the water level until it's repaired. But the other beauty part is that it turns out that my dad (the Artist) knows how to make the repair and has offered to help. All we have to do is buy the parts.

But let this be a cautionary tale: take care of your furnace with annual service and don't assume the previous homeowners are telling the truth.

Speaking of: if you know a person who can properly service a slate roof, e-mail me. They claim they had it gone over in March of this year, but I don't believe them. And either way, you're supposed to have it gone over every spring anyway.

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Little bit by little bit

I was talking to my carpool partner this morning about how there are this many things to buy and, like, this much time and money. Which is fine. We knew this coming in. It's not like we didn't know. We knew. He was all, "Welcome to home ownership."


We just made the arrangements to purchase some second-hand cabinets from some nice ladies in Vermont. We found them on craigslist. Scott's picking them up on Friday with a rent-a-truck. Did you know that we have no counters at all in our kitchen? Well, we don't. How previous owners ever made food is a mystery.

How the kitchen has never been remodeled before we weaseled our way in over here is a mystery as well.

I've been feeling a little down about how it hardly looks like we've done anything in here, and all we're doing is doing things in here. Our housewarming is on Sunday and we have a number of friends and strangers coming by for it. I want the house to totally rock, and it will, but mostly because there will be a band playing.

One of the reasons that no one will notice that we're getting things done is that we're doing things that no one would imagine would need doing. For example, the bathroom window. We didn't know we had a bathroom window before our inspection. It was hiding behind a shower curtain. Great. Also, it was painted over. Fine. I decided that I would scrape the paint off last weekend. I went to Highland Hardware and bought a small window razor scraper thing. Tesia came by. She said, "Why don't you just make this window the first one you replace?"


With Tesia's help, I spent an hour and a half scraping the living bejesus out of the window - just the bottom pane. Turns out it wasn't just paint on the window: it was also contact paper designed to look like a frosted window. The contact paper wasn't much interested in coming off the window, and smeared a thousand pounds of snot-like glue all over. I had to use nail polish remover to dissolve and remove it.

Hooray for toxic fumes!

After Tesia left, I tried my hand at the top pane. I got about an eighth of the way through and cracked it. Just like that. So I guess that'll be the first window we replace.

One of my problems is that there are about a thousand things to do in here and I have time and sanity for about three things. I keep giving myself assignments and barely meeting my own deadlines. It's embarrassing.

The progress is slow, but at least there's progress. Please notice the progress when you come by on Sunday.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Moving on up, to the east side to our deluxe house on Saint James

Our official move date is Sunday. Holy hell. It seems like we've had the house for months and months, what with all the work we've done. But it's only been three weeks since our closing!

We met a very nice man thanks to craigslist* who sanded our floors and basically made them totally beautiful. Joe (that's his name) told us that our floors are not pine, which is what everyone else said they were. Of course, he became intimately acquainted with them in a fashion that no one else did. But it turns out that our floors are hemlock. How about that?

Anyway, our floors will be done tomorrow, and then will need a couple days to mellow, so we're moving in on Sunday.

I'm really pleased about this turn of events because I am about 100% ready for this moving process to be over. I reached a fevered pitch of heart-pounding anxiety tonight. Sunday can't come soon enough.

Today, Scott got a U-Haul and moved a bunch of stuff he can move by himself. I'm gathering a small band of ladies on Saturday to help me with the final packing while Scott is at work. Then Sunday, we'll have a small band of helpers to help with the final big stuff. Then it will be over.

Oh! Hear this excellent news! I found an awesome, awesome dining room set on craigslist for a low price. It's extra fancy and the table extends to eight feet long! Scott and I had just been talking about what we were going to do in our big new dining room. Now we will dine there!

I'm hoping that once we're done with the madness that I will return to blogging about hilarious things. I hope you will bear with me as we get through this crazy time.

Thank you.

* If you're looking for someone to sand your floors, consider Joe. He came in with the best quote and he was just about the nicest person ever. We met a couple total shysters -- one that quoted us fully twice as much as this guy and bellyached about how hard it would be to sand our floors. Joe definitely knew they were hard floors, but he didn't bellyache or try to separate us from any more of our money than his original quote. I can't recommend him highly enough.

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

The insanity continues

Listen. It's crazy time over here. My friend Amy came by and helped me pack up a whole bunch of my shit. Tomorrow Scott and I spend the whole day at the new house working. It's been very hard, and more than I bargained for, if you want to know the truth. We only have a little more carpet to pull up before we lose our minds entirely. Man!

I need a product called the PaintShaverPro. It does exactly what we need to have done. However, it's very expensive and I can't find a single rental place that carries it.

Do you have a PaintShaverPro? If so - I know I'm a stranger and all, but - can I borrow it? I promise not to break it or cause it any trouble. I will buy you a new carbide blade. Seriously. I am about a thousand shades of serious here.

If you have one, please consider lending it to me. If you know of any place to rent one, tell me. I'm all ears.

Thank you.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

June 7 show cancelled

The Gay Men's Chorus cancelled their Saturday night show, so that means I'm not opening for them. It's just as well, because I've got my work cut out for me at the house.

I called The Artist tonight and gave him a list of tools we need to borrow. Margaret procured for us a lent shopvac.

If anyone has any advice about how to get linoleum that's fused to the floor off the floor, we're all ears. The paper backing of the linoleum in the bathroom (that was under the carpet and held to the floor by nails, upholstery tacks and - and! - copious amounts of glue is fused to the floor. Careful work with a putty knife has freed some of the paper, but wood is coming up with it. It's hideous. I got so frustrated that I decided to move out to the hallway and pull up that carpet, where I found the same linoleum held down by the same nails, upholstery tacks and glue.

The more we pulled things up, the more I cursed every single other owner of our house. Margaret advised that we can get their names from the Holyoke history room in case we want to hate them by name. I only wish there were time to go over there.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Nosiness and caring are such curious bedfellows

So many friends dropped by the house tonight while we surveyed our new digs. It was funny because I peered out the window just as a couple friends were doing a very slow drive-by. I ran out of the house and begged them to come in to behold the before picture.

They were the only ones who beheld it because as soon as they left, we started peeling up the carpet. By we I mean Scott. I tried to tie up the carpet in bundles with the twine we purchased over at Highland Hardware, but apparently I'm lame because Scott got up half a room of carpet before I tied up two bundles.

Things with the floors are not quite as grim as we feared. There is a pine floor underneath layers and layers of carpet. While pine isn't ideal, it's in WAY better shape than we thought from peeling up the corners and peeking during our showings. Of course, we will still need to have them sanded and finished, but we thought we might have to install new floors right away (I can't live with carpets on account of my allergies). A finished pine floor might not last our whole lives, but it will last a few years (during which time we can save up our money for everything we think we want to do).

The real chunk of heck may be the kitchen, but Margaret and I brainstormed some ideas that might really bring that room into the glory it deserves. Getting the floor up in there, though, may be a bit of a chore. Scott pulled up the carpet, which is glued to linoleum, which is glued to some kind of papery something or other that's glued to something made of wood, though we're not sure it's the pine - indeed it may be the subfloor. It's still a mystery.

But this is good news. There's a lot of work to do, but it's the kind of work I said I could do back in the day:

I want a house where people have made stupid paint and flooring choices or have maybe put up a stupid light fixture or two. These are the kinds of things I can handle.
Remember when I said that?

Anyway, the point here is that everyone cares so much about us that they had to stop by right away, but I also think they maybe were filled to overflowing with a bit of nosiness as well, which I don't begrudge one bit. Sometimes the two go hand in hand. Also, I have a caring/nosy streak a mile wide.

If you know us in real life and you know where the house is and want to do a drive by, I will welcome your caring and nosiness. If you bring your work gloves and want to help peel up the carpet, all the better.

Oh! I almost forgot. It turns out the neighbors have four kids. One of them recognized me right in my own yard! He said, "Hey, aren't you a stand-up comic?" I said, "Aren't you too young to hear any of my jokes?" It turned out that he used to go out with one of the teenager comics that comes to my open mic. He was a little older than he seemed. The kids just keep getting younger and younger looking.

The Artist also came by and surveyed things. He brought over his rototiller so he could dig us up a garden this weekend. He also brought by the plants he picked up at the farmer's market. While Dad builds us a garden on Saturday, I will be peeling up the carpet and the plastic-y crap off the walls in the bathroom. Yes, there is carpet in the bathroom. As far as the plastic-y crap goes, I don't know what they were thinking: Margaret lifted a spot and found beadboard underneath! I'm sure it will need attention, but still!

Anyway, the end. More on all this later.

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Jennifer Myszkowski, home owner

Everyone told me there would be a bunch of signing, that my hand was going to hurt, that it was going to go on and on. Turns out it wasn't so bad. Maybe it's because everyone prepared me so well that it was like a breeze.

Now the real work begins.

You may be interested to know that I didn't cry at all at the closing. I did cry a little bit at the walk-through, but that's because I'm a human. On our way to the walk-through, I had to rush to a nearby Dunkin Donuts to avoid soiling myself from the nerves.

All in all, though, we made it through with flying colors over here. Now we just have to wait for the deed to be filed this afternoon, then we can go pick up our keys (the seller's lawyer is crazy old-school and wouldn't let us have the keys until the filing).

If anyone wants any recommendations for such things as mortgage broker or real estate lawyer, please e-mail me. I'll be glad to pass some names on to you.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thinking only happy thoughts

Thursday morning at 9 a.m. we are going to our new house to have a walk through. At 10 a.m., we are proceding to the lawyer's office to sign papers and hopefully not have a nervous breakdown. Directly following, we're going to the ReStore to see if we can find things we need for low-low discount prices. Then we're going to get an oil change for the car (we haven't been able to fit that in with all the hubbub), then we're going to go to our new house and start working.

Holy hell.