Off in the distance are the lights of downtown. Around the corner from this spot is a Walgreens, sitting on a lot that used to house a thrift store we called Saks North Avenue when I was in college: a football-field sized building with more treasures than our 18-year-old brains could process. I still have some of the clothes I bought there: a blue sharkskin jacket, a full tuxedo set, a National Beer delivery shirt…
Somewhere in America, a floor sander is whirring. It’s removing the top layer of dirt and wax and crud and stain and age from our oak floors, and collecting it in a bag to be disposed of somewhere else. Rick showed up at 8:30 this morning to do the dirty deed (and let me just tell you, this is an awful day to be sanding floors in Baltimore: the humidity we had been avoiding for a month suddenly landed like a sack of cement yesterday) and he was sweating before he got any of the tools out of the van. We closed the door behind him and RAN for the coffee shop.
I’ll back up a little bit here and say that the Cauzzi family is doing well. Jen and I brought barbecue to Todd and Heather, and in between feedings, they were actually able to enjoy some food of their own. Declan and Callie are tiny sleepy little people, mostly zonked out between meals for as long as we were there. Jen and I both got our baby on, however— we traded Declan back and forth for about an hour, and he slept through the whole thing. Great going, you guys. They are beautiful.
The rest of the weekend was a blur of cleaning, moving, packing, shopping, and more cleaning. All our first-floor furniture is on the front porch. We took some time to set up the automatic sprinklers and tend to the gardens (which will be in full bloom the week we’re in Ireland, I’m sure) and square away the cats, who are probably doing laps in sheer terror as the huge metal machine grinds away at the floor above their heads. I took a crowbar and pulled the disgusting ‘wainscoting’ from the living room wall—it was built out from the wall by about 2 inches, covering that much of the oak flooring—and tossed the wood out the window and into the garage.
Sunday we avoided the humidity by heading to the Arundel Mills Mall in search of some clothes to replace the 1995-era rags I still wear. Six hours later, we came back home and finished preparing the house for demolition. Some high points:
- A queen Sleep Number bed with the digital control is considerably less than we thought it would be, which means it’s on our list of Stuff To Buy When We Get Home, right after an air conditioner.
- For the first time in my life, I own a suitcase. Instead of jamming all my crap into a duffel bag (you may laugh, but I made it from here to Italy and back again in a $15 duffel bag) I own a wheeled Samsonite suitcase, in fashionable black. This is progress.
- I may have found the replacement for my Syracuse hat. I bought this aleady beat-up hat used at Saks North Avenue for $.95 in 1991, and it has been the only hat to correctly fit my misshapen alien head since then. It’s been through art school, camping trips, to Italy, Bimini, California, and countless other places; it almost drowned in the Atlantic Ocean until the co-sponsor of our diving trip cried, “WILSON!” and jumped off the boat, swam back, and got it; It went everywhere I did, and it’s showing its age. I tried on a women’s Adidas hat yesterday, and it seemed to fit my head correctly (the brim is not three feet too wide, which makes most hats look like a duck swallowed my scalp) so I bought it.
- We are taking the Italian good-luck frog with us to Ireland. May he watch over us as we drive on the wrong side of the road.
- I have two green bell peppers growing in the greenhouse. The gladiolous in the perennial bed are as tall as the bedframe.
Tonight we are being graciously put up by our neighbors M&S, who (I’m pretty sure) have air conditioning and a queen bed. Hopefully after four days, they will still be speaking to us.
I love a bargain. I’ve haunted the yard sales in our neighborhood for years, looking for good deals, and I’ve been lucky more times than I can count. As Finn has gotten more interested in sewing and creating her own clothes, we’ve been looking for materials to work with. Jen started taking her to thrift stores a while back, and tagging along with them has awakened the dormant thrift store shopper in my blood.
I found a couple of things yesterday that I’m excited about, and one of them isn’t even for me. Our daughter is now a Teen, which means she sleeps 21 hours a day and complains about not seeing her friends for the other 17. Jen has been waking at 6:30 to get her out of bed and off to school by 7:45; the bus picks her up within visual distance of our front door but she’s already missed it once. We are eager to get her functioning as more of an adult, so a better alarm clock was in order. Among the shelves of disused electronics I found the exact same model GE alarm clock I took to college; in a weird bit of circular irony I donated that clock to charity back when I got my first iPhone, glad to be rid of its grating alarm noise. After scrubbing this one with bathroom cleaner and a toothbrush I plugged it in on her dresser and set the time. She’ll need to climb down from bed to shut it off, and hopefully that will wake her up enough to get the day started. Because if it’s in there going off for ten minutes every morning I’m going to bury her body somewhere deep in the backyard.
The other gem I found is a Toshiba 19″ LCD/DVD combo in working order with an attached stand and power cord. I did my best to test it out at the store at the single available power outlet, and all seemed to work OK—for $12 I figured I could deal with some broken features, as long as the coax input still worked. See, I like to enjoy listening to football when I’m working around the house in the fall, and the only room I can do that in currently is the den. For another $20 I can pick up a digital antenna from Amazon and move the TV where I’d like to watch some games before the season is over. For the rest of the year, I can plug a laptop into the HDMI port on the back and watch movies (I checked, it works) or use the built-in DVD player (I checked, that also works).
I tested this plan out on Sunday while I installed a lockset on the new door going into the new bathroom; the TV sat on the dresser next to me, and I got to watch the Packers finally beat the Bengals in overtime while I put a final coat of paint on the back of the door. It’s nice to have something in there that closes and latches and locks, and it’s nice to hear the game while I’m working.
Then I moved it downstairs and addressed a leak in our washing machine, which has been covering the floor in water for the past couple of weeks. I’d looked over all the attachments and found nothing wrong, so I bought a water tray and set it up underneath the washer partially as insurance and partially to see if the leak was under the washer or somewhere else. My hunch paid off when Jen reported a new leak this afternoon, so I pulled the drain hose off and checked it out: a leak at the low point squirted water out into the sink. $15 and a trip to the store fixed that right up; the TV sat on the workbench and kept me up to date on Giants/Cowboys. Not bad for less than $20.