Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we had a fantastic time with our families. It went too quickly. I’ll have some more pictures and video up here later, but now it’s off to work.
In preparation for a family Turkey Day visit, Jen and I have been hard at work cleaning up the Estate, so we decided it would be a good investment to have a cleaning service come in and help us get a leg up on the hard work so that we could concentrate on other important chores. Saturday morning I let four strange women enter our house and buzz around with mops, vacuums, and squeegees while I trapped myself in the basement with the cats in order to stay out of their way. Given that we’re not made of money, it took us both a little time to come to grips with the idea that we were considering paying someone to clean our house, but overall they did a pretty decent job, even if they didn’t mop the baseboards or clean the windowsills as we would have liked. Now we just have to keep everything clean for the next two weeks.
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Now that we’ve got a fancy-shmancy color laser printer, I set up a Yahoo Pipe which scrapes Craigslist for Xerox Phaser supplies in the Baltimore, D.C. area in the hopes that maybe somebody somewhere will be divesting themselves of a bunch of toner cartridges. Please?
Meanwhile, my quest to find a usable service manual for this model has been met with a slew of pay-for-PDF websites, ranging from $5 to $25 in price. Good grief!
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I signed up for Angie’s List last week in order to vet out some local service providers (the houselceaning service being the first). I’d have to say the information is good while the presentation is bad. I did some design and architecture work on a very similar website a number of years ago, and while there are difficult problems to solve with a user content driven site, this one makes that simplest of actions, search, all but impossible to find. I probably should have done the monthly tryout first. Oh, well.
I also signed up for Freecycle this morning in order to get rid of our old kitchen cabinets and some other stuff we’ve been collecting in the basement; I’m going to post some stuff tonight and see if we get any takers. I’d have to say the Freecycle interface is about as helpful as the Angie’s List design.
Through some creative finagling over the last couple of weeks, We here at the Lockardugan collective have secured a welcome addition to our studio tools: a large-format (11×17) color laser printer. Getting it here required use of the babyhauler, calling in a favor, and careful jockeying to get a 160 lb. brick up a flight and a half of stairs in the rain. It’s a ten year old Xerox Phaser 790, and though it’s a bit slow (10/100 ethernet, 6pgs/min.), it’s maxed out on available RAM, it came with a spare set of color cartridges, it’s paid for and it’s OURS.
Right now it’s rocking AppleTalk via ethernet, but I should be able to divine sense from the Xerox manuals and figure out how to set up network printing in the next week or so. I’m also trying to find a service manual that’s available for download online without paying money; we’ll see how that goes.
As of this morning, I’ve got a patch made for the large section missing from the face of the wall and another section cut for the area behind the backsplash. There’s a 1″ brace built to hold the entire area in place, as well as anchor the plastic edging strip that will make up the corner. I’ve got to buy some decking screws long enough to reach the studs behind the tile, backing board, and lathe. This evening the plan is to finish the patches, fasten them into the wall, and get mud on the walls to dry.
My plans for the weekend were pretty simple. I was going to get a few supplies, turn on the TV, and listen to football while I installed some window balances, recaulked the bathtub, and finished cleaning up the mess of wiring in the basement. Sunday morning was bright, warm, and clear, so I pulled the Scout out of the garage for the first time in three weeks, fired it up, and headed to the hardware store.
Unfortunately, my trip was cut short. The temperature gauge went from you’re fine to you’re fucked in about two minutes of idling through downtown Ellicott City, so I pulled off into the International dealer’s lot at the top of the hill to let it cool down (fitting, I know). The radiator cap was cool to the touch, but when I loosened it, a great mass of burbling steam rose from the depths of the radiator and hissed out the top. While I waited for it to cool down, I went and did a little snooping up the hill where the dealer parks the vehicles they have in progress, and found that a diesel Mr. Scout had found almost abandoned off of Rt. 40 is now hopefully getting a new lease on life.
After waiting a half an hour and calling Jen, I crossed my fingers, prayed I’d make the lights going back through town, and pulled back onto the road. Luck was with me, so I made it up the hill to Dmitri’s (a strange Greek-ish restaurant perched on the side of a hill) before the needle told me to pull off for another half-hour. After making it to the Candlelight Inn, I had my ladies come to pick me up, and we did some errands while it cooled off long enough to make the trip home.
I have a long history of ownership with cars that overheat; from the CRX that disliked idling in traffic (requiring full-blast heat in the middle of July) to the Taurus that resisted all repair attempts to the coolant system (and very nearly derailed our rehearsal dinner with an ill-timed coolant failure on the way back from the caterer’s) to the Saturn’s recent troubles, it seems like my lot in life is to sit on the side of the road waiting for the engine to stop ticking. What was going to be my first water pump replacement will now be handled professionally in order to ensure things are done correctly, but I was really hoping to avoid that repair bill.
Upon our return, I started removing the caulk from around our tub in order to hunt down the odor of mildew we’ve been noticing lately, and found a surprise I wasn’t looking forward to at 6:30 on a Sunday night:
The area next to our tub, where water sometimes runs down—especially after Finley pulls the shower curtain open to say, “Hi!”—has been wet for some time now. I pushed a screwdriver blade into the drywall and it felt like peanut butter. As I dug deeper, it got nastier, and the reason why it’s been smelling like mildew became more evident: When the bathroom was last “remodeled”, new sheets of drywall were nailed up over the old tile and tileboard, effectively sealing an airpocket inbetween the two layers of wall. When water got in there, it had a whole lot of dark room to grow mold, so when I pulled off the outer layer, the tile was splotched black and the adjacent wallboard was damp. I kept pulling until I hit dry wallboard and then I pulled another foot beyond that to make sure there’s nothing left, and what you see above is what remains. That thick wooden stud to the immediate right of the tub is original, and got a nice bleach bath once I was done cleaning the dust. The tile is straight-up 60’s stuff, an off-white with gold speckle. I’m glad it was hidden, and I’ll be even more glad to rip that shit out, along with all three layers of wallboard, nasty mismatched linoleum tiles, poorly milled moldings, balky light fixtures, broken concrete slab, and the ancient, crumbling sink. I admit, it took a lot of willpower to put the crowbar down last night. But for now, the plan is to dry it out, put some green wallboard (moisture-resistant) back in, smooth out the seams, repaint and make it through the holidays.
I’ll sign off with a little humor at the expense of my daughter: Don’t drink and drive.
In Columbia this morning, I spotted this gorgeous old delivery van from a distance, and my heart raced, because I saw there was a “For Sale” sign in the window, and I thought it might have been an early model Metro, a type of step van that International Harvester built in the 30’s to the 80’s and which (these days, on this coast) is pretty rare. Getting closer, I noticed the Ford badge on the front and was a little bummed out, but I was still so taken aback by the styling of this van that I got out into the rain to shoot a few pictures.
This is the kind of vehicle I would love to own; completely utilitarian but also aesthetically beautiful, from the graceful lines on the grille to the gentle curves at the edges of the roof. I don’t know if it’s stainless steel or aluminum (the latter would be my guess) but I’d bet, especially with the duallys out back, that it could be fitted with a hitch to tow a 19′ Airstream of similar vintage. Finding glass for this thing would be as difficult as sleeping on a roller coaster, so having it all intact is a bonus.
I have the number on the window in my hand, but I’m resisting the temptation to call it. Too many projects and not enough space in the driveway. Farewell, you lovely beast.