A Brief Affair

Yesterday, I was so excited to have one of my posts featured over at Aiming Low — a humor site about promoting the mediocrity in all of us.  If you’re not already a fan, please go check it out.

You may have seen that post before.  It was about — you guessed it — the Fordeville laundry drama.  Or lack thereof.  Day 170 with no machines, incidentally.  For those of you keeping count at home.

BUT.  Get this.

Who knew that the folks over at Aiming Low had such amazing super powers?  Because here’s what happened.  My post ran on their site and then, within 24 hours, I couldn’t believe my eyes.


All hooked up.  Fully operational.  Ready.  To.  Go.

{Cue angels singing.  Or smelling salts.  Or, where the hell did I put that fabric softener back in August?}

BUT WAIT.  Not so fast.  Get this.

Before you send me champagne or some lovely lavender-scented congratulatory detergent, I’ll tell you that my joy was short-lived.  No, not short-lived as much as killed — by way of the We Have a New Basement Problem files.

The whole laundry room has to be reconfigured.

Translation:  My machines will soon be disconnected.



I won’t bore you with the whole story, but the short version is this:  It wasn’t until the machines were installed that we noticed our mason had graciously jutted our new foundation out about six inches from the wall.  Six inches that we didn’t really have.  Six inches that he never told us about.

Yes, that’s right.  Six inches of error stands between me and Laundry Nirvana.  Because, in the current configuration, I am basically squeezed out of the laundry room.  So my machines fit — barely — but I’m standing outside the door.  Which doesn’t really work.  Especially, on a more urgent note, with no place to rest my glass of wine.  Now, we must rip up the wall to move the plumbing around, in order to hook the machines up to a different spot.

That’s OK — things were getting boring around here with progress, smooth sailing and the like.  It was throwing us off of our game.

So, for now, I’m treating my beautiful new machines kind of like going on a fabulous first date and then finding out the guy is temporarily moving out of the country or being shipped off to war.  I like my new machines, a lot.  We spent a fabulous first evening together.  But I fear getting too attached too soon.  I want to buy them nice things like cabinetry and high-efficiency detergent, but I don’t want to move too quickly.  I don’t want to be left in tears when they are suddenly pulled away from me sometime this week — all before we really got to know each other.

Such a brief love affair.  Such heartbreak.

We almost had it all.

But if you love someone, set them free.

{I’m on a Lite FM heartbreak ballad roll.  One more? OK…}

Take a look at me now — there’s just an empty space.

{I couldn’t resist.  End of Lite FM melodramatic references.}

Anyway, I just hope I can let my guard down when they come back to me and we move forward with our life together.  Day 170, you were lovely to behold.  This was no one-night stand.

Oh — and if anyone has seen my mason (because we sure as hell haven’t), can you tell him that I’d like a word?  Thanks.


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Baby Steps

You guys.  After 22 weeks of insanity, we have decided that the time has come to just walk away and abandon Project Pimp My Basement.

What?  Yes, of course I’m kidding.  What the hell would I write about if I didn’t have the basement chronicles?  And what would I do with my time if I didn’t have to run to Home Depot every single day?  I would be lost without my ongoing chats in the Flooring section.  Or my kids asking what time we’re going to ride in the orange cart.

So where do things stand?  I’ll put it this way.  Remember when we had some wagers placed on the original five week timeline?  If you bet on the “outrageously high” side and said, say, twelve weeks.  And then doubled it?  Well, you still might not win.

I’ll withhold photos at this stage {I’m going for the HGTV “big reveal” moment}, but I’ll tell you what we have in the works.

First, there is visible progress.  Which beats the hell out of the invisible progress that allegedly transpired for months.

There are stairs.  Which is nice.  We’re obviously going for total luxury here.  Plus, it got dicey to take our friends and family down the ladder for the “I Don’t Understand What the Hell Is Taking So Long Tour.”  Especially after a few bottles of wine.

There are lights.  Some lights.  Not all of them, but enough to see that guys are down there working.  Or just living there — I’m not sure which.  I haven’t checked the basement fridge in a while — but last time, most of the beer was gone.  {The wine stays upstairs with me.  Obviously.}

There is noise.  All day, every day.  Which makes my kids scream.  Which creates more noise.

Oh, and there are walls.  Sanded, primed and painted walls.  Which gives me hope.  And after a little war with the Benjamin Moore color wheel, I think I finally found a shade of navy for my laundry room that works.  Because the first two choices made my husband ask if Suicide Goth Den was the look I was going for.

Speaking of the laundry room, I have…wait for it…

I have two outlets staring at me.  Begging to be hooked up to — no, wed to — their soul mates, Shiny New Washer and Dryer.  {Did I mention 22 weeks?}.  And it looked promising for  awhile.  I especially enjoyed the very earnest look my contractor directed squarely at my eyes on January 16, when he said: “We will do everything we can to have those machines installed this week.” It seems by “everything we can,” he meant “notsomuch, really.”  And by “this week,” he meant “this fiscal quarter.”  It’s my fault for thinking otherwise — I should really speak his language by now.

This is all good news for Bruce, who owns the laundromat and will probably come over for Christmas Dinner after all of the time we’ve spent together these last few months.  He’s always pretty excited to get more business out of me.  I think I heard him squeal when my daughter mentioned all the painting they’re doing at pre-school — without smocks.  Come to think of it, while I was weighing in my latest pay-per-pound laundry haul (56 lbs), he turned his back to me and called his wife.  Something about pulling the trigger on that beer tour of Germany they’ve always wanted to take.  Glad to help, Bruce.

But, you know, it’s all fine.  We are learning important life skills.

Like staying grounded.  Because the sight of the red dumpster in my driveway every day and its companion piece, the port-a-john, prevents us from trying to keep up with the Joneses.

We are also improving the kids’ eye-hand coordination.  All of the work being done underfoot now causes the hundred-year-old floors on our main level to spring a nail pretty regularly.  So we get out the hammer before dinner and play Whack-a-Mole.  The Tetanus Version.

Baby steps, I guess.  Like stairs.  And semi-goth walls.  And outlets at the ready for that laundry.  Any day now.

Or so I’m told.



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Still Standing

For those of you who think I’ve been incarcerated for clubbing my General Contractor in the knees, it’s not so.  So where have I been?  Well, I’ve just been recovering from the anxiety of Operation Presto-Change-o, whereby the phantom contractor and his crew made a one-day cameo appearance to take out the beams that were supporting our house to replace them with one ginormous piece of steel.

Never one to overreact, I figured I’d evacuate for the day.  But the logistics didn’t work out, so I decided on the next best thing, which was to have my good friend Beth come over and distract me with the ridiculous cuteness of her six month-old twins.  I figured, since she has two infants, she probably has a high threshold for noise and maybe she wouldn’t even notice the construction.

After distributing hard hats and reviewing safety drills highlighting the nearest exits with Beth, we had a lovely visit that managed to take my mind off of what was going on under the house.

{Side note:  My husband is also a big fan of Beth’s but he has begun to dread her visits.  Not because he doesn’t enjoy her company.  That’s not the case at all.  It’s because he sees the maniacal “I-might-kidnap-these-infants” look in my eyes.  And he knows that, hours later, the other side of my split personality will emerge and tell him we should have four to six more kids.}

We actually had a full house, as P worked from home that day — either to keep me from kidnapping Beth’s babies or to assist me with any necessary evacuation — I’m not sure which.  So he took the opportunity to bring me down to the basement — where I have not ventured in a while, to avoid a nervous breakdown — and showed me how they were switching out the beams.  It was a real, live HGTV show right under my house.  See, we don’t need high def after all.

In the most non-technical and unprofessional craftsman terms, here’s my understanding of what they did.  First, they took out the old beams and replaced them with this makeshift support structure.

I’m not an engineer or an architect but this seemed like a flimsy replacement to me.  Should it really look like a fort?

Then they took this big-ass beam and, somehow, moved it to the back of the house.  Eight guys.  One beam.

Then they slid it under the house, through the makeshift wooden fort.  And by “slid,” I mean yelled a lot and moved the Earth under my feet for about 90 minutes.


Then.  They jacked up the beam to its proper place.  By this point, Beth took off with her kids, which was smart.  Because I was convinced my 100 year-old house would not withstand the amount of shaking that this process brought.

But it did.  We’re still here. Somehow.

I should also mention that while P and I were touring the makeshift fort, the head mason was down there.  So we took this opportunity to corner him and try to get more clarity around things like, say, why the hell his crew shows up on a random and increasingly rare basis.

It went like this.

Us:  “Bill, what’s going on with the schedule?”

Bill:  “The schedule?”

Us:  “Yeah.  You know, we are on week 12 of a five week job now and we’re not really feeling like anyone is communicating with us.”

Bill:  “Oh but we’ve had problems with {inaudible} and {mumbling} and look, is that a bird over there?”

Us:  “Bill.  You promised us the beam would go in today {Friday} and the concrete floor would be poured on Monday.  Is that still going to happen?”

Bill {reaching for pocket}:  “I have to take this call.”

Us:  “I don’t hear a phone ringing.”

Bill:  “Oh.”

Us:  {blinking audibly}

Bill:  “Well, we need an inspector to come out here before we can pour the concrete.”

Us:  “Fine.  This is the first we’ve heard of this.  Did you schedule the inspection?”

Bill:  “No, no, not yet.  But I will, first thing Monday.  And they should get here on Tuesday.  And then maybe we can pour the concrete on Wednesday.”

{Translation: Concrete floor will not be poured until after Thanksgiving weekend.  Probably once the calendar reads December.}


We could have said more.  Much more.  But the timing felt wrong.  Vulnerable, even.  I’m usually not afraid of confrontation, but I didn’t think I wanted to piss off the guy in charge of holding up my house at that moment.

And so the house stands.  Even if our nerves are hanging on by a thread and we’re about to be awarded VIP status at the laundromat.  Because, 12 weeks in to my five week project, this doesn’t really feel like quite the milestone photo I’d hoped to post.

Baby steps, my friends.  Baby steps.

As for Bill, he somehow slipped through our fingers right after our conversation and disappeared into thin air, much like Kaiser Soze.  And just like that, he was gone.



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Despair, Denial and No Ketchup

The strangest thing happened yesterday.

A truck pulled up to the house.  Filled with construction guys.  To work on my basement.  The basement that is almost complete.  But only in an alternate universe where “almost complete” means total lack of progress for four consecutive weeks.

Potato, potahto.

So it turns out I can cancel that APB  I was about to put out on my General Contractor (clearly I watch too many crime/forensics shows).  And the handmade “Missing” flyer that I considered posting on my local utility poles.   You know, complete with little fringy tabs with my phone number across the bottom — and a photo of me giving the finger.

But it seems, after the strange appearance of the truck, we can call off the dogs.  At least for now.

How did we get here?  I get this question a lot.  Actually, the question I get more often is “What the hell is going on with your basement? ”

And the honest answer is that I’ve lost track how we got here (which is nowhere, for the record) at this point.  I know this much is true:

–We made a decision to drop the basement floor down to give us more headroom.

–This decision exposed parts of the foundation on our 100 year-old house that needed to be reinforced.  As in, there were piles of rocks in their original 1909 formation, a la Blair Witch Project.  These piles may or may not continue to hold up the house over the long term now that we have dropped the floor down.

–As a result, new plans and inspections were required in terms of how the foundation work would be accomplished.

–As best as I can recall, it was right about here that weeks of finger pointing between the architect, the town’s building inspectors, the mason and the contractors ensued.  Just when you thought one person was holding us up, that person would tell us it was someone else.  And so on.

–Four weeks passed like this.  With an insufficiently secure foundation.  Which has resulted in floors buckling, door frames shifting and walls cracking.  While we waited for the Finger Pointing Tournament to reach the next round.  Or for the house to fall.

I recently broke down and begged my husband to go batshit crazy on have a reasonable discussion with our General Contractor.

Because, remember, while fingers were being pointed and floors buckled, our heat was also not restored to some rooms, and the work has left an exposed hole from the house to the elements.  (For the calendar and weather-challenged folks out there:  It’s almost November in New Jersey, aka we’re screwed).  And I continue to forbid my kids from using any condiments on their food because we have no laundry machines.  They’ve been eating very bland meals since August 22.

And they miss ketchup, my kids.  A lot.  Also, I’m kind of weirded out by the fact that I’m considering adding the laundromat manager to my Christmas card list at this point.

So.  At my urging, my husband tried to go batshit crazy have a reasonable conversation with our GC.  But.  His voice mail box was full.

Every day.

Where does one go from here?

Well, I got some good suggestions from people about next steps.  Like call one of those Consumer Action reporters.  Or even the HGTV Holmes on Homes dude (who I may or may not have a renovation crush on).  Or get meds to keep my frail remnants of sanity intact.  Oh, and I got some great leads on space heaters.

It was right about then that our GC returned from the missing and got back on his game.  It seems.

So the work has resumed and our five-week summer/early fall project may wrap up before 2012.

In related news, I no longer give a shit.  That’s the sad truth.  I’ve gone from rage and frustration to total detachment and apathy.  I am ignoring it.  I’m burying my head in my pile of outsourced laundry and pretending the whole damn basement no longer exists.  I don’t care anymore.

As you can imagine, this is a problematic approach for several reasons.  The biggest of which is the fact that some major decisions still have to be made.

My husband knows I’m at my limit.  Tonight, he suggested, as a joke, that we can roll with my whole denial approach and then I can have the Big Reveal Moment at the end.  A la HGTV.  I then suggested we take it up a notch.  Let’s take the pressure off of him with the remaining decisions — we could have the blog readers vote on options and make the final choices.

On my second glass of wine at the end of another long week without condiments, the Big Reveal/Let the Blogosphere Decide option seems pretty compelling.  Maybe I should pitch this somewhere.

Or.  You guys could just do me a favor:  Adopt a vigilante/mob mentality and break my GC’s knees.  Or at least restore his voice mail box.



Separately, a huge thanks to all of you who have commented on the post about my Aunt Debbie to help raise $100 for the Susan G Komen Foundation.  You guys rock.  If you haven’t commented, it’s not too late — October 31 is the deadline.  And I will nag you all until the bitter end.

I’m about 30% there.  Spread the word!


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Crashing the Party

I totally owe you guys an update on the basement renovation.  And by “update,” I mean complete and total lack of any progress.  I also mean regression.  And anger.  And approaching the worst case scenario scale of the project.  Because I don’t remember signing up for the floors buckling in my living room — a full story above said basement work.  Or doors that don’t fit their frames anymore on the second floor of the house, accompanied by cracks in the wall.  Or a side of my house fully exposed to the elements.  Without heat.  As we approach the season of dropping temperatures.

But let’s save that for another day.  Who needs bad news going into the weekend?

Because, in the meantime, I’m really excited to have done my first guest posting gig.  Can you believe someone entrusted me to put content on their site ?

But Jennifer over at Take2Mommy did.  How nice is that?

Jennifer is a fabulous blogger and almost New Jersey-ite.  She has the dream gig of working from home, and writes about her adventures raising her two sons.  I’m crashing at her place today to talk about alternate career paths in my future and I’m really grateful that she let me stop by.

So please pop over and show her blog some love.  And pray for my basement renovation and sanity.  Because both are hanging by a thread.


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Remember: Laundry is a Privilege

Do you hate doing laundry?  Please don’t.

I’m here to ask you to re-think your position on this.

Why?  Because, my friends, you have the privilege of doing laundry.  Yes, that’s right, the privilege.  You are able to do the following while laundry is cleaned:  Stay in the comfort of your home.  Wear pajamas.  Drink wine.  Watch really bad TV.  Multi-task.

Here, in the Land of the Endless Basement Renovation, there is no in-home laundry nirvana.  I’m clearly not alone in the world, or there would be no laundromats.  But, I’m sorry, I would rather pull out my eyelashes, one by one, than entertain my two children in a laundromat for several hours.  Call me weak — it’s just not in me.  So I’ve explored my other options.

1)  Become the Kato Kaelin of Laundry.  In this model, I turn up at the homes of friends and relatives with pounds and pounds of my family’s dirty clothes.  This requires that I stay for an extended period of time and impose upon them.

I tested this approach in my post-Irene-I-don’t-want-to-be-Amish-anymore escape to my in-laws’ place last month.  It worked out well.  So I took it up a notch.  Which meant we may or may not have shown up at my mother’s recent family BBQ with no fewer than six loads of laundry.  It was like coming home from college.  With a husband and two kids.  Except now I buy the good detergent.  {And of course I brought her an appetizer for the party, if that at all makes up for our classy arrival.}

I’ve had multiple friends in town offer to have my laundry and me come over, which is so nice.  And though I’ve politely declined, I can’t swear I will continue to turn them down much longer.  It will be a feat of strength.

Especially after my recent experience with Laundry Option #2.

2)  Use the Drop-Off Wash & Fold. I assumed I could totally do this.  After all, I did it for years when I lived in the city.  Because, even when you live in a building with laundry “facilities,” they are often housed in a makeshift boiler room that surely doubles as the NYC Serial Killer Headquarters.

So, somewhere between another basement “development,” the loss of water in the house {again} and the decision to go forth with Operation Presto Chango To Hold Up the House, I needed to get out of the belly of the beast and go clean a ton of clothes.  One dollar per pound?  I’m in.  I’ll give you two.

What relief I felt dropping off my clothes.  If memory served from my NYC wash & fold life, I would get to come back in a few hours and my 30 pounds of laundry — which took me three trips to haul inside — would miraculously come back to me folded like origami in one small sandwich-sized bag.

I picked the wrong place.

When I arrived for pick-up, all happy and looking forward to reuniting with pieces of clothing I hadn’t worn in weeks, I was instead greeted by this:

“Oooooh, it’s you.  Uh, hi.”

“Hi.  What’s wrong?  Where’s my sandwich bag?”

“Wellllll.  Your laundry accidentally got combined with someone else’s.”

{Blinking audibly}

“So, if you could just take a few minutes to go through this basket and pick out your stuff, that would be great.”

{Internal screaming}

And that’s what we did.  My two kids and me.  We picked through about 50 pounds of laundry to pull out everything that belonged to us.  Along the way, I was lucky enough to say the following things:

“Oh God, that pair of very European men’s underwear does not belong to us.  And it’s lying on top of my daughter’s pajamas.”

“Ugh, these briefs are not ours.  And you might want to use extra bleach next time.”

Remember:  I have a Purel addiction.  So you can imagine how well I took to this turn of events.  Yeah, it has all been cleaned, I know.  But.  Still.

And so ended my affair with this particular wash & fold establishment.

With no upcoming family gatherings or cocktail parties to which I can haul my laundry, where does this leave me?  Clearly things need to change so that I can minimize the mountain of dirty clothes.  I could insist my kids eat in the nude.  Or color while wearing Hazmat suits.  Or get an overnight catheter for my four year-old.  These are just ideas I’m throwing around.

In the meantime, remember:  Your laundry is a privilege.

And, yes, that’s me in your driveway with two big baskets of dirty clothes, my naked kids and a bottle of fabric softener.  Can I come in for a while?





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Support System

Today is the end of Week 3 in the Project Pimp My Basement timeline.  The original estimation for completion was five weeks, so — in theory — we should be getting close.

I should be saying the following:  More than halfway!  Encouraging signs of progress!  Such excitement over the new digs!



This is what it looks like today.


Is it just me, or is it not feeling quite like “Hey, we’re more than half way”?  You noticed that too?  OK, good.  Sometimes I can be accused of pessimism, so I have to sanity check my reactions now and then.

In fairness, Irene derailed us a bit with the flooding.  Then there were other “developments,” which we were told to expect with a 100-year-old house.

{Note:  “developments” is code for “exorbitantly expensive and unexpected add-ons.”}

But we’re doing well here in the house where the ground shakes all day.  Even if my hands tremble constantly from the jackhammering.  Oh, and I’ll never complain about doing laundry again.  Because, when you can’t do laundry at home, it’s not pretty.  Good thing toddlers don’t get their clothes dirty. Ever.

And then, there was this “development” {see note above} last night.  It started when P got home from work and said, “Just wait until you hear about the call I got from the contractor today.”

{Wine pouring ensues.}

Basically, the contractor suggested that there may be a way to remove the unsightly but structurally necessary support beams in our basement.  For the sake of a visual, they look like vertical poles (you can see one in the photo above) — and they literally hold up the house.  Our contractor proposes the following:

–Cut a hole in the front and back of the house.

–Slide a giant steel beam in from front to back to hold up the house.

–Remove the existing vertical support beams from the basement.

–Voila.  House still standing.  I think.

It’s at this point of the P’s description that I notice I’m essentially gulping my glass of wine and grasping tightly onto its stem.  I’m looking at my husband with my head at a 90 degree angle of disbelief.  He, as always, is calm and steady.  He’s “willing to consider” this idea.

Just to be clear:  They want to slide a beam into my house and then remove the ones that are now supporting it.  The place where we live. It feels an awful lot to me like the old remove the tablecloth while keeping the plates on the table trick.

If we proceed, I feel the need to evacuate the kids and me from Project Keep The House Standing.

There are far more qualified minds than mine thinking about this.  I’m sure it’s done all the time.  But this “development” is one that feels a little out of scope to me.

I guess I’m learning that, while I love to watch HGTV, I don’t like to live HGTV.


{Gambling note: If you want to officially update your wager on total project time, please do so.}



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Hats Off to The Amish

Well.  So much for the end of summer being relaxing.  Thanks, Irene.

First, let me say I’m so grateful we sustained no damage to our house and that everyone was safe around here.  I know how devastating this storm was for many.

Second, let me say that, on the Natural Disaster Panic Spectrum, it appears that I fall in the red zone.  Whereas my husband was more of a “let’s not make ourselves crazy” type.  Somewhere in the middle is the Promised Land.

But it’s hard not to worry when you see this.


And this.  {Who knew that they really used this system for something other than ill-timed tests during my favorite shows?}


And, uh, this.  Filled with debris.  Next to our windows.  Auntie Em, Uncle Henry, we’ve got to secure this mother.


Turns out that Project Pimp My Basement was well-timed.  We had emptied the contents of the basement to start the project, so our stuff was safely removed.  And we hadn’t gotten far enough to have any of the new basement ruined.  It was basically a construction mudslide under the house.  Not bad, all things considered.

But let me tell you, we’ll be putting in additional drainage plans after all this.  Because we didn’t really sign up to have Lake Fordeville in the back yard.


The only thing we really suffered was inconvenience because the power went out.  On day one, it was fine.  The kids re-embraced coloring.



And I was even invited to an awesome dinosaur cake and tea party.


But, alas, after a day, I remembered why I never liked camping.  I was also tired of repeating to my kids that Nick Jr is not an option. Then, after hearing from our power company that it may take a week to restore it, I had a decision to make.

Option A:  Stay at home and live like an Amish woman.  Consider churning butter and quilting by candlelight.

Option B: Go stay with my in-laws, who had full electricity.

It was like Sophie’s Choice.  After careful consideration, I went with B.  The butter churning wasn’t going so well.

I’m kidding.  It was an easy choice.  My in-laws were very hospitable and it was a nice escape from The Land With No Power.  Plus, I had an endless supply of chilled white wine.  You can’t get that, for various reasons, in Amish Country.

We stayed for two nights, wondering what to do about my dad‘s upcoming annual visit, amidst further reports that power would stay out for a while.  I had a chat with him the day before his arrival about the situation at hand.  I thought he should consider rescheduling, as much as I hated to move his visit, since we only see him once a year.  But really, without power, were we expected to sit around and just talk to each other for eight days?  Let’s not be crazy.

Then this came from my neighbor.  Like a gift from the heavens at Hour 50.


And we headed back home, just in time to throw out  hundreds of dollars worth of food in the fridge/freezer, restock, regroup and pick up my father from the airport.

With the power back, the Father-Daughter-Talkathon Crisis was averted.

Although, sometimes, you need to be careful what you wish for.  Because my father and I are on diametrically opposite ends of the political spectrum.  And at least if there was no power, I would not have to listen to a certain conservative news organization on my TV all day.  With unnamed people who may or may not rhyme with Shmill O’Shmeilly.  My ears.  My head.

But it’s better than churning butter.  I think.  We still have five days to go.


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Where the Ground Shook All Day

I feel the Earth.  Move.  Under my feet…

But not from the earthquake.  I missed it.  You know why?

Because I was having my own personal, all-day earthquake at home as part of Renovation, Day Two.  Yes, the ccccoonnnstttant jackhammmmmmering in the bbbbbbasssemmmennnnt today rendered me useless in recognizing an East Coast seismic event.

They say pets are often the first to pick up on these types of things.  I saw all kinds of quirky animal videos on the news today, with dogs barking fiercely, ears up in the air — at the ready to alert their owners to potential danger.

Here? Not so much.

My dog’s only source for concern was whether the earthquake was going to force him to move off of his comfortable perch.  Atop the mound of clean laundry I completed just before the machines were ripped out of the basement.  So much for that effort.

So.  How’s Project Pimp My Basement going?

Let’s just say I’m leery when one has the following “development” on Day Two.

See this?

This is the interior door to my basement from our front hallway.  All taped up like a crime scene so that dust is contained and all the magic happens behind the curtain.  Like Oz.

Now.  See this?

Why, that’s not my basement.  It’s my kitchen.  With a square sawed into it.

Just for fun.

To make a very long story short, three guys stood in my house today with looks of surprise.  It seems that what was believed to be a proper plumbing vent in the basement is not actually functional for the purposes of our renovation.  So they need to access one that is up on the main floor of the house.

You can imagine my reaction to them standing in my kitchen, gesturing with a saw — “Just to take a look in there.”

After being pleased with what they found in my kitchen, I was told that, sometime Wednesday, that little sawed-out hole will expand greatly to expose the plumbing guts of this area.  You know, where I cook meals.  Where my kids pass through to get around the first floor.  Where we were not supposed to feel any impact  of the basement renovation.

Day Two.  I think we’re off to a smashing start.  Say it with me:  Domino Effect.

I know I should expect hiccups.  Especially with a house that is 100 years old.  I know.  I also know my nerves aressshotttttt from the jaccckkkkhammmmer.  So never mind that our water is brown and not warming up beyond tepid.  When it’s not cut off altogether.

It’s like camping, but at home.  See — my Purell addiction is not without merit at times like these.

But, hey, good news.  My kids don’t seem quite so loud anymore compared to the jaccckkkhammmmer.

As for the weekend Battle of Keep vs Purge to empty said basement?  Don’t you worry, I have a proper recap brewing in my head, complete with photographic artifacts.  Some fantastic finds — more on that soon.  But I will say, for now, that having that dumpster in the driveway is so freeing.  I love it.  Everyone should have one.  If they were prettier, I mean.

Now, back to wondering if I should just rip out the entire kitchen back splash.  You know, since they’re cutting into it anyway, and I never really liked it.  Then I’d need new matching granite.  And cabinets, of course.  Maybe even some upgraded appliances…


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The Renovation Sanity Meter

On Monday — at long last — Project Pimp My Basement gets underway.  It’s a big job.  Total demolition.  Re-zoning heat, moving the furnace, upgrading electricity.

It’s a total and complete overhaul.  Right now, it’s an unfinished space, filled with boxes and old toys and, well, everything (more on this below).  If I had a few drinks in me, I might have the guts to post some “before” photos.  Sorry.

Anyway, the end goal is to create some great additional living space, both for us and for the kids’ stuff.  Everything will be new.  Like my laundry room, complete with machines that were made in this century.  And the wet bar.  Because I clearly need a place to sit and stare at the pretty new front-loaders.

The sad reality is that, when this is all done, our basement is going to be the nicest part of our house.  By far.

The general contractor said the job should take five weeks.  So I’m mentally banking on six to eight weeks.  Let’s see where we land.  I think we all know that you’ll be along for the ride.

But first.

Important business.

Uh, we have to empty the basement.  This weekend.  Top to bottom.

Have I mentioned that my husband and I have an ongoing difference in world views on keeping versus purging?  He’s a hoarder keeper and I’m a purger.  Mostly.  Unless it’s stuff that I like, and then it stays regardless.

So, in what could be the premise for a bad reality show, he and I will basically lock ourselves in the basement all weekend and duke it out over what stays and what gets tossed into this eyesore in my driveway.  I’ll think of it as inspiration.

Today’s marital showdown will really be just be the tip of the iceberg in testing my Renovation Sanity Meter.  Because, come Monday morning, the crew arrives and the following things will begin to transpire.  All of which are not on my list of That Which I Tolerate Well:



–Strangers walking around

–People asking me to make decisions on the spot

–A Port-a-Potty in my driveway (not for us, for the crew)

–Revoked access to do laundry

–Did I mention noise and dust?


Don’t you worry, I’ll keep you guys posted.  But if you don’t hear from me by, say, Tuesday, you might send someone to check on my sanity.

But there is one bright spot in this weekend’s project.  In our spare basement fridge — the one we use for entertaining — we have a generous supply of wine and beer.  Without anywhere else to put it, things could get interesting in the Battle of Keep Vs. Purge.

And now I’m off to do my Farewell Laundry Loads in these antiques.


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