Ramblings from the Gryphon Rose

Monday, July 30, 2007

Exactly the reverse

Ugh, I am dragging today. Long, long weekend. Not a bad one, just . . . long.

It started out well enough. I finished the first draft of the novel Thursday (ahead of schedule! WooT!) and celebrated Friday by hanging out with some friends and watching Hot Fuzz (much fun, that movie!). A few of us were up REALLY late (but still escaped the dreaded dawn) but were having a great deal of fun, even without olive oil.

Saturday was a working day, but not at the computer. Our cousins came out in the late morning and jendaby and JD hung out with the kids all day while the menfolk (S, Sp, and I) worked on the house.

And here’s where, yet again, my house tripped me up. Our goal was to definitely take care of three things: cut through the wall separating the laundry room and the garage and install a door (right now you have to go outside and through the garage door to enter that space, which won’t work all that well for an office), replace the laundry room window (the original plastic-slat window from the 1940s), and replace the matching window in the family room.

We hit our first snag immediately. My cousin S (who is amazing at this stuff and was completely in charge the entire day) takes one look at the wall and says, “This isn’t cement block, it’s poured concrete.” I, having no clue, say, “Oh? Is that bad?” Turns out that, no, it’s a very good thing—in terms of stability. Our house has REALLY solid walls, apparently. Great for protection—not so much for cutting holes.

Because S doesn’t have the tools for that. Neither does Home Despot (we checked). They rent a circular saw that can cut concrete, but not something this thick.

So we table the whole door question for now and move on to the windows, going to Home Despot for supplies. We decide to start with the laundry room window. We remove the burglar bars on the outside (which were welded in place—again, good for security, bad for replacing windows), yank out the window—and Viola! A pleasant surprise, for once. There was insulation hanging down around the old window so we thought it would be a mess, but actually the frame was in excellent shape and everything was fine. Cut some wood to build it in a bit, installed the window, and Hey, Presto! we can actually see out into our backyard for the first time ever. Nice! Plus this window’s much better insulated than the old one, which will be particularly good come winter.

Then we went and checked out the family room window, figuring this would be the easier of the two—it’s in the window well, so there’s no need for stepladders or anything, and it doesn’t have bars. We manage to get the window out—and part of the wall comes with it.

Turns out the previous owners, when they said they’d never had water damage? Lying out their *ss (which, given other lies, is no surprise). Lots of water damage all around the window. The metal frame? Half-corroded away. The wall on both sides? Crumbling away.

Hence the post title—when I need the wall to be crappy (for cutting a door) it’s rock-solid. When I need it to be solid (for holding a window) it’s crap. Figures.

So we had to get rid of all the crumbly bits, go back to Home Despot, buy cement, come back, build a completely new frame, install it, and start packing cement in around it to fill in the gaps. We took a break in the middle of this for dinner.

Our cousins left around nine-something. Both windows are in. They need a little finishing, but the windows themselves are in place and very solid. Yay! Like I said, my cousin S was amazing. Sp and I spent part of the time standing around watching because there wasn’t anything else we could do to help. Still exhausted, though. After they left I tidied up a little, then we collapsed. Ugh.

Sunday we got up and I applied duct tape to make sure the frames were at least roughly sealed, which proved to be a good thing—it started pouring just as I finished. We went to the store anyway, both to Home Despot to buy a few things (including new bolts for the bars) and then to the grocery to stock up before our trip. Came back, lugged kids and groceries back inside through the rain, then went out back just as the rain stopped and reinstalled the bars.

Next came basement cleanup—I carried the sofa slipcover out (the sofa’s right under the family room window, so it got covered in cement dust, sawdust, and regular dust) and shook it out before setting it aside to wash, dragged the sofa away from the wall, swept up behind it, then jendaby mopped it up and vacuumed the rug and washed all the covers. I also used some cardboard as makeshift filler to cover the holes around the window, both because they’re ugly (they’re only on the inside) and to keep the cat from trying to climb into the walls.

When we looked up again it was eight p.m., so we had dinner and got our daughter to bed. Then I did a little revision work before conking out around one. Didn’t sleep well—not sure why, might be the lack of curtains or the AC or something else—and finally got up at seven-thirty to get ready for work.



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