31 January, 2010

Remodel Update: Office Progress - Floor Installation (Yay!)

I found out what all the blue lines are for.  Not tic-tac-toe.  There's one going down the center of the room - that's to make sure you're still straight as you get close to that target.  The others are perpendicular to the center-line, approximately every foot or so - these are to mark the floor joists.  In wood flooring, we're actually nailing the floor to the floor.  Hah!  Whereas in laminate, the flooring floats on the floor.  For whatever that's worth...

Anyhow.  We're getting closer and closer to getting the floor laid in the office.  It always amazes me how much work goes into a project before any "work" actually gets done.  We did a bunch of math - the room is four boards and one inch long, so we've got to figure out the cuts to minimize waste and offset seams.  Greg had to pre-drill holes; measure and cut away the hole for the floor vent; come up with spacers to hold the first row in place; and ensure all the supplies were on hand.

The first two boards took the most time.  He won't need to pre-drill the other boards, because the other nail gun (you know, the one that shoots the other nails?) doesn't need it.  But because of it's shape, he can't use it close to the wall, so the two boards closest to the wall will be hand-done.  This includes drilling the hole, nailing the board down, then using some kind of doohickey to get the nail flush or slightly below the level of the wood so the next board fits on nicely.  I tried to help, but since you have to put your fingers in the way so you don't mar the wood (if you miss the nail... and I miss the nail a lot), I opted to watch and bring Greg nails as he needed them.  You shouldn't hit the wood, you shouldn't bend the nail, and you should make sure the nail is down far enough.  If you don't pay attention to any one of those, the potential for disaster is monumental.  No wonder I don't do this kind of crap for a living - I'd be eaten up with stress and probably have had a heart attack by now.  But I'm glad it's suitable for other people...  =)

So that's all we got done this weekend.  The two hardest boards to set and all the prep work - in between a photo shoot, racquetball date, running, laundry and facebook-ing.  The rest of the room (at least until we hit the two boards closest to the other wall), should go in quick-as-pie.
On another note, it's getting noticeably lighter in the afternoons. This weekend was also a little bit warmer - not above freezing, but I think we may have gotten up to 30 degrees.  I'm looking forward to the longer days and the returning warmth, even though I know we typically have a cold spell in February.  A last-ditch effort by Old Man Winter to hold onto his domain, but Spring will win out - I just have to hang on 'til then...  Yay!

24 January, 2010

Derby Madness

Saturday night was roller derby - wahoo!!  A chance to get out of the house; watch some fast rolling, hard hitting competition; and spend time visiting with friends.  A great evening!  (Note: Greg and his fancy-pants camera provided the pictures for this entry - all my pix turned out grainy, probably because of the lighting (and only a little because it's a plain-jane point-and-shoot camera and his is super-spiffy).)

Greg and I went early.  Him, because he's one of the photographers for the event; me, because I want good seats and it starts filling up fast.  Because Greg's an "official" person, we can get in before the doors technically open.  So I was there by 5:45pm  - holding seats for 9 of us. I was really glad to see James and Stacy - having a couple extra people helped stave off the dirty glares, but not necessarily all the hopeful "are these seats taken?" inquiries.  Last night there was standing room only and they actually had to turn people away.  One of our group almost didn't make it in, but we were lucky.  It's a good sign for the sport - but for me, it meant that I arrived not a moment too soon, and could actually have been a little earlier for extra peace of mind.

Roller derby is always enjoyable - and Saturday's bout was no exception.  I think it's more exciting to watch than hockey.  There's more action, lots of shoving and pushing, and plenty of excitement.  No out-and-out brawls, but hard work and good fun.

The teams were well matched, so the score was close - first one team in the lead, then the other.  My team lost.  I was rooting for the green team.  For sports, that's one of the best deciding factors for me. (Just ask Sheri about the football game on Sunday.  I did pick the black team to win - because black goes with everything and New Orleans knows how to throw a kick-ass party (we should all know the good party-throwers, right? and the cool purple just doesn't overcome the freezing coldness of Minnesota).  But when she was giving updates using team names I got confused and cheered for a score by the purple team...  Now it's black and blue for the Super Bowl - I'm going to root for black.) 

 The next bout is the 6th of March - I think it's a little too early for Jeannea or Sara to be here.  One of these days their visit will coincide with a bout and they'll be able to experience derby Anchorage-style.  Yeah, baby!

18 January, 2010

Remodel Update: Office Progress - Floor Prep Etc.

We've made a fair bit of progress on the office, which is great because I'm *really* tired of having the office "stuff" in the living room.  We're not quite ready to move it back in yet, but the end is in sight... A fair amount of work wasn't really photogenic, so here's the run-down: decided we were indeed going to paint all the walls - still white, but all of them; boxed up books and paraphernalia, took down shelves, puttied holes, prepped for painting; painted the entire room (excluding trim), twice; turned off power to replace plugs and re-hang the light fixture.

All that was done primarily by Greg.  I helped with a tiny bit of the boxing up (all those boxes are now in my living room, alongside the office furniture and tools); I scraped the floor (trying to get up texture and paint globs - necessary but definitely not glamorous) and vacuumed; and I helped re-install the light fixture.  Let me tell you: I'd gladly trade that job for texture-floor-scraper.

It turns out that I'm not cut out for this remodel stuff.  It's not intuitive, and I don't much like it.  But I do like the results we're going to have.  So I'll suck it up and help where I can.  Holding the light part-way above my head was one way to help.  (Did I mention that thing gains weight the further from the floor it gets? And it was already practically the weight of a baby whale? A baby whale that's on a high krill diet and growing heavier second by second?)  Greg says that I'm not the weakest person on earth (my perception begs to differ), that anyone's arms would've started shaking as they're holding a fixture above his or her head.  I tried really hard not to whine; I couldn't stop the shaking, but I didn't drop the light (I did ask Greg to hold the light a couple times so I could get feeling back into my limbs); and we eventually got the thing stuck in place.  It's there for life now.  I refuse to change that fixture or any other ever again.  Oh, wait.  We're changing the fixtures in the kitchen.  Damn!  Well, at least they're not fans.

Anyhow.  All the power and light stuff was done on Sunday.  Then we did a bunch more stuff today.  Mostly Greg, but I did help out a bit.  Greg laid felt (aka tar paper) down over the plywood. We're using it as insulation - to help with warmth and as noise reduction.  At least, that's what I'm told.

My contribution to helping with the tar paper is the blue lines.  (By the way, you can walk on tar paper without sticking, and it doesn't discolor your socks - or your knees.)  I'm guessing the lines are to make sure that the strips of flooring stay straight as they're being laid.  But they could also just be a gauge so one can figure out how much more you've got to do.  Or a large grid for tic-tac-toe to amuse yourself and your working buddy, while you're installing some flooring.  I'm sure Greg has a very good reason for putting blue lines on tar paper.  When I find out, I'll let you know.  Unless you already know.  In which case, could you leave a comment with the information?  I'm curious.  It would've been more helpful for me to be curious when we were doing the work, but back then I was focusing on following directions and making sure my line was good.

With the paper down and the lines on  the floor, it's time for... installing the door.  Yup.  I guessed right (not!).  Another task that shows I'm not cut out for the remodel business.  Thank goodness this isn't my day job!  You have to watch the gaps between the door and the frame (on the sides too, not just the top) to make sure they're even; make sure the frame is flush with the wall, while you're shoving shims between the frame and the wall; and use the level to make sure everything's square in your rectangle door.  Who knew that hanging a door was that complicated?!?  It's done.  We're never changing any other doors again.  Oh, wait.  We're planning on changing the other two doors upstairs (bathroom and pantry).  Damn!  Well, at least they don't weigh as much as baby whales.

So it looks like we're ready to put some flooring down.  Greg brought up his fancy saw.  Here's our conversation:
  • Greg: What is that?
  • Me: A cutter tool.
  • Greg: A what?
  • Me: You know, a cutter.  A wood cutter. It cuts wood.  Yeah, a SAW!
  • Greg: What kind of saw?
  • Me: One on stilts?  With angles? That you use for cutting flooring?

Folks, in case you need to know, it's a miter (mitre?) saw.  I'm not sure exactly how it's different from another saw we have in the garage - except the color's different, and this one's on stilts instead of on a platform (and it has lots of knobs and adjuster thingies for the stilts).  It looks like it has a little dust baggie on the back side - so maybe we won't be spewing sawdust everywhere?

Could the next step actually be installing flooring???  We shall see...

10 January, 2010

Life Lesson # 823: Prom Isn't Just for High School

Going to the annual Dinner / Dance for work reminds me a lot of getting ready for Prom.   My corporate "Prom" usually consists of dinner, a photographer, company business, then a band and dancing.  Lots of people buy new stuff and dress really fancy for this event; then there's some of us that spiff up a bit; and there's others that I've seen dress down (one year someone wore a pair of jeans to the event).  Just like way-back-when in high school.

Even my preparations for the event are similar.  And we're carpooling with friends - always more fun! - although they have to go a bit early, since I'm responsible for holding some tables for my division.  We'll still have a good time chatting while we're waiting for the festivities to commence.

Pre-Prom Preparations:
  • Make sure the camera is charged - check
  • Shave legs - check (not that anyone but me will know - and Greg, since he got a cold shower because I used up all the hot water (thanks for bringing me the shaving lotion, honey!))
  • Apply smelly lotion - check (got to keep the newly bare legs moisturized so they don't turn scaly)
  • Apply toenail polish - check (did this last weekend, when Stacy and I went for pedicures)
  • Determine wardrobe - check (decided that I want to be comfortable, so I'm wearing slacks; went shopping this afternoon for a work-worthy, dressy top - no way am I going to spend a minor fortune on an outfit that I'll only wear once... I suppose in this, I'm a little different than I used to be)
  • Hit the car wash - check (got to have a clean ride, and to make sure the back seats are cleaned out for our passengers)
  • Wiggle into figure enhancing undergarments - check (made sure to use the restroom first, and have to remember to drink sparingly since this rigmarole has to happen every time the pants go up or down, and hair/makeup has to be done after since this is practically a workout on its own and I'm drenched in sweat by the time I'm done - next step should be "wipe the sweat off" - check)
  • Have Greg pick top - check (brought home four, since I couldn't make up my mind at the store - fortunately they were all on sale, and they're all suitable for wearing to work - except maybe that one that's a little low-cut...  I'm not wearing that tonight, since my goal is to be dressed well *and* as comfortable as I can be - besides, Greg picked the black one)
  • Finishing touches - check (pick out jewelry; makeup is light this year: mascara and lip gloss - that's what I do for the rest of the year and I'm not confident that one night a year I can do more without looking like a clown, so I'll leave it at that.  Some year I'll get organized enough to have a pamper morning that includes someone that does makeup and hair, then get dressed and head out.)
  • Shoes, coat, drivers license and cash (or cash equivalent) - check
  • Ready to go!
Post-Prom Pictures:

We had a nice time.  Food and company were good.  Unfortunately, because it was so dark in the room the best pictures aren't of the people, but the decorations.  Oh well.  There's always Prom next year!

    01 January, 2010

    Let the New Year Commence!

    Note: I forgot to take my camera (and it probably wouldn't have worked so well anyway), so all pictures for today's post are courtesy of Greg and his fancy-pants camera.

    We rang in the New Year surrounded by friends out in Big Lake.  Plenty of food, bonfires, visiting, and fireworks.  I couldn't ask for anything more, as we celebrate the end of 2009 and prepare for the beginning of 2010.

    On the night of the Blue Moon - one with a lunar eclipse, no less - we trekked out to be with friends.  The trip out had bits of fog hanging over the valley, making parts of the road seem eerie and disconnected.  But traffic was light, crazies were already ensconced wherever they were going, and road conditions were good.  We made good time - only an hour and twenty minutes - and there were friends and food waiting on our arrival.

    I always love a good bonfire - and last night we had three.  Which was absolutely marvelous, as ambient temperatures were below zero.  I planned ahead and wore thermals under my jeans; two pairs of socks (I should have worn my boots, but opted for multi-layer socks and slip on/off shoes for ease of entrance to the house); my fur head band for super-toasty ears; and of course the requisite coat, gloves, and scarf.  I positioned myself with one fire at my back, the other at my front and stayed pretty warm for most of the night.

    Plenty of camaraderie, a whole bunch of fireworks, and lots of laughing.  That's how we spent the last bit of time from the year just past.  Can't imagine a more fitting end.

    And now it's the beginning of a New Year.  We made it safely through the last one, and are starry-eyed with the promise and portends of the next one looming in front of us.  We have goals: finish the remodel - at least the flooring (joint); get back to working on exercising (mine); run to Florida (Greg's - it's literal running, with a virtual trip to Davie - you can follow his progress here).

    My hope for you (and for me) is that this coming year is a good one.  That we are surrounded by those we love and can find the peace and contentment that comes through happiness.  God bless us, everyone!  =)