I’m spending the morning chasing down the orders I’ve placed online. Stuff that I bought a week and a half ago is taking way too long to ship. Apparently my mother’s present, which was listed as “in stock” on the 6th, is now listed as “expected” by the 27th, which means it would show up on the 3rd. After 15 minutes listening to the cheery hold-message people sing the praises of a company-badged credit card, I find out it’s actually discontinued (Mom, you’re getting a call in 5 minutes.) My father’s gift didn’t ship until this morning, even though I bought it last monday. My sister’s gift is “processing”, which is shorthand for “we don’t know where the fuck we put it, but we sure did charge the full amount on your VISA card.”
On the sunnier side of Christmas, we put our ornaments on the tree on Thursday, after chasing down lights and hooks in two separate trips, one of which equated to a fifteen-minute wait on line at the dollar store. Want to get real good and depressed during the holiday season? Go hang out at the dollar store, baby. It’s what I imagine a toilet-paper line in Soviet Russia to have been like, with bonus added Christmas Musak. Nobody looks happy to be there, least of all the cashiers, who move painfully slow like those robots at Disneyland.
Saturday night we stopped over to the Home of Dismay to have some drinks with the proprietors; thanks for the hospitality, C. and S. We sat in front of a warm fire, had fun chatting, and made some new degree-of-separation connections; this world is indeed smaller than it looks.
Sunday I started working in the basement to shore up the foundation walls. Step one is to scrape all the crud off with a steel brush, and inhale century-old dust. (I was wearing a mask, Mom. No worries.) Step two is to mix an acid solution and wash off the salt and other mineral deposits. Step three is to wash off the acid with water. Step four is to mix some hydraulic cement and fill in all the cracks, gaps, and edges of the walls. Step five is to sit back and drink a beer while everything dries. The final step is to use a big fat roller and start applying Drylok to what’s left. I’d like to say I got far, but this is going to take some time; our walls are 80 years old and in need of some serious attention. I’m hopeful that this will cut back on some of the drafty air down there, as well as keep the moisture and crickets out. Plus, a coat of white Drylok with another coat of bright white paint will make the place a lot less depressing.
I’d have to say, mixing and applying the cement has to have been the most bizarre experience I’ve had in a while. When kneaded between the fingers, as the directions describe, it has the consistency of soft feces. (They call it “putty”, but that’s a lie.) Plus, it gets warm as it sets up, so I found myself smearing dark warm baby poo on the walls of my basement. After a while, I started really getting into it, trying to get the poo to look as aesthetically pleasing as possible, working it like sculptural clay, using the heel of my palm to flatten out the ridges. I stepped back and admired my basement poo sculpture with a sense of satisfaction.
Finally, our lights from Rejuvenation arrived last week, and I hung the two hall fixtures on Saturday. We were concerned when we held them up to the cieling, as the shades had a greenish cast to them, but when I put them in and flipped the switch, the hall was filled with wonderful, diffuse amber light. The quality of the construction is high (although I think the fixtures could be a little heavier-weight steel) and the shades are about ten pounds apiece. Overall, they blend into the cieling but also look like they’ve been there since the house was put up—I think we nailed the period pretty well.