Invaded By Mexicans

Yesterday, I managed to go twenty-four hours without internet. By the end of the day my hands were shaking and I needed a drink, a strong drink. Each day this week the painting crew arrived at 7:30 am and took over the house. On day one they did the guest room, a spare bedroom, and two bathrooms. They also prepped the next day of work; the sun room, our master bedroom-bathroom, and my office. On day 2 they painted those rooms, and began the great room prep. Day 3 began with five men taking over the largest area of the house, the great room, and prep for the kitchen. Preparation means taping woodwork, spreading drop cloths, moving furniture, covering furniture with plastic, and scrapping bumps and loose paint from gnarly areas of the walls. Split drywall joints are dug out, new tape is applied, and covered with mud. When the drywall plaster is dried the painting begins. To speed things up the army installs several huge fans around the house to blow high-speed air at the moist plaster and pre-painted spots.

The five men, Jose, Carlos, Francisco, Miguel, and Julio work as a team without instruction nor any hint of dissension or animosity toward one another. The age of the army ranges from twenty-two to forty. Most of the men have worked for Mike’s Painting and Decorating from five to twelve years. One thing they have in common is Spanish as a language. The entire crew is Mexican. At least three of them came to America when they were toddlers or grammar school kids. I watched one man mixing mud for the joints. He saw me watching him, so I teased him “I want to learn your job so I can take it.” He smiled heartily, and said, “I teach to you.”

All of them are extremely polite and conscious of the effect they have on the customer. What effect could they possibly have? Try watching your castle being taken over, and trashed with ugly drop cloths, plastic sheeting, paint buckets, sanding blocks, green tape, blue tape, white tape, masking tape, splotches of plaster, trails of fine white dust, rollers, brushes, poles, and tool boxes with more of the same.

I am glad we took on this adventure, but now that Peg and I have been through it I will never do it again. It has been one week of total life style interruption, and seniors like everything to stay on a smooth path. Little things like where is my pill-box? How will we make lunch? The stove, microwave, and refrigerator are swathed in plastic. Which bathroom is available? I don’t want to know how many years of bad luck I will have after walking under ladders because it was the only free path from A to B.

The house looks great. It is even better than I expected. The colors I chose work well with our floors, carpets, tile, and furniture. The accents are subtle and when I look at the walls I ask myself if the walls are truly different in color. Lighting makes a big difference on what colors I see.

The biggest disappointment happened when  we discovered the dry-rotted sill plate and rafters next to the living room window. That room remains unfinished until I have the structural damage repaired, the wood treated with a fungiicide, and the drywall replaced. Thankfully, the damage is the same as a dented fender on a car, and not damage from a head on collision with a semi.

The next big job is cleaning the entire house, then replacing the pictures and mementos  that I scattered throughout the basement and the spare bedrooms.

I need a drink. Peg and I will enjoy a simple supper at a restaurant tonight, and I might even imbibe a martini.

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And then there is this. . . .

Crumbling Wall From RLBW

Crumbling Wall From RLBW

 

Roughing It In A Luxury Home

Today, I conducted a war on terror. It isn’t finished, but we identified the vermin, it is terror. As the days go ahead, more and more experts will give opinions about what repairs will kill this scourge known as RLBW.

Peg and I are undertaking a complete renovation of our living quarters by having all the rooms painted within five days. It sounds easy at first, but along with the painting comes the repair of many drywall joints that have split open by the forces of a house settling. Our home is now old enough to drink by Illinois law, that makes it twenty-one.

For the past six years I have noticed a spot on one wall that has changed color. The snow-white wall had an ominous grey spot on it. I guessed it to be moisture. At that same time, I identified several roof leaks that were severely damaging some of the walls. Four years ago, I had a new roof installed to stop the leaking.$$$ It seemed to have worked. I never took the trouble to repair the grey spots, until this major paint job became a reality.$$$$$

This morning the crew attacked Peg’s sitting room at the front of the house and the terrorist popped out and reared his ugly head. In chipping away at some of the drywall to replace it with sound plaster, the technician discovered that the plaster around our front window is soaking wet. He began pulling down wet moldy wall thus exposing the RLBW (Roof leak behind walls). This discovery told me that replacing the roof at considerable expense did not correct this problem. It has leaked for another four years without our knowledge. The result is a sill plate that is so rotted it must be replaced. The rotten sill plate supports  the roof structure, and it is crumbling. Even as we tore away more of the drywall and insulation we could not find out the source of the water. My roofer sent a technician to  investigate, and of course he couldn’t find a thing wrong, but he did admit he is looking at a leak problem.

Peggy's Sitting Room

Peggy’s Sitting Room

Now the paint job has taken a new twist in the schedule. The priority has shifted from Peg’s room to my office, and I am knee-deep in the usual shit that takes over an office. Books by the shelf full, papers, and brochures to read later, my book notes, maps, and manuscript are strewn about the surface of my desk. Not to mention a bird’s nest of wires connecting printers, modems, hard drives, routers, that make up a modern office.

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Grumpa Joe’s Office

 

By the time I started to cook supper, I had transferred 95% of my stuff to another room with a solemn vow that 75% of it will never return. This is a great opportunity to purge, and to simplify, except I am doing the same with every room in the house. By the time the paint is dry, my body will be yearning for a couch in front of a big screen TV. Because of the extensive drywall repairs today, our bedroom is still wrapped in plastic waiting for a second coat of paint. That means Peg and I sleep in he guest room among all the stuff I moved there from the other rooms. There is a path around the bed into the bathroom and the bed itself is clear, so we will rough it in a strange bed. Gee it will be just like it is when we travel. Except for one thing, our guest room mattress does not match the same high quality of a Holiday Inn bed. It will be roughing it while the terrorist lurks two rooms away waiting for another opportunity to sneak water into the walls.$$$$$$$$$$

 

Crumbling Wall From RLBW

Crumbling Wall From RLBW

Rotten Sill Plate

Rotten SIll Plate

 

 

Secret Places Where Features Hide

Each year I try to make my garden different. Even though there are elements that cannot change easily like a pond, hard-scaping, and all the perennials. There is however, plenty of opportunity to paint a picture in the blank spaces using different colors and plant materials. This year one of my goals was to plant a garden that would deter rabbits. I think I succeeded, that is the rabbits have given me the impression that I have succeeded. The episodes of Wabbit Wars have been sparse because the Wabbits have not been able to get to me as often.

My color palette is yellow and orange. I elected different varieties of Marigolds and sought out other species of yellow flowers to mix in like the gold Celosia, Lysimachia, Lantana, Marguerite Daisy, and Orange Joy Asiatic lily.  Close planting and weekly foliar fertilization helped the plants spread out and finally fill in the canvas. A seven minute video of the same plants would be terribly boring, so I decided to add some interest with winter scenes and an escape to the desert while I waited for Spring to arrive.

Yesterday, I posted a trailer using a new version of iMovie. It was my training session on how to use this new version of a program I was very comfortable with. The new version made posting on YouTube easier, but I felt it harder to compose the movie. There are so many short cuts built into this version that I had trouble doing things that make a movie a movie. The older version is more oriented to real movie makers. This new version targets a person interested in speed. I am sure all the features of the old version are in this new one, but I’m too old to want to spend all that time looking for the drop downs and secret places where features hide. In that regard, iMovie is a lot like Windows, it is the same stuff reorganized to make it look new and to make you work to find things. In a way, iMovie 10.0.4 is like my garden, it has many exciting things to see, but one must explore to find them.

Personal guided tours of the garden are available upon request. My favorite time to give a tour is between January and March, I spend less time touring and more time imbibing.

Please enjoy my garden called “The 2014-Monet Vision, Golden Glow”

A

 

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