Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sassmaster and Bros., Inc.

My dear aunt stuck this picture in with her Christmas letter:

It is Sassmaster and her siblings on an Easter morning in Grandma's backyard. I do remember that coat, with its candy-like buttons. Please also note the gloves, hat, and purse, which were modeled at Easter. Those two faux-prep-school red jackets made the rounds among all the boys. My youngest brother was not in the picture, literally or figuratively, so this must be what? 1969? 1970? Also, Sassmaster must have flinched when her bangs were being cut. Either that, or Mom was going for near baldness for the whole lot.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

All Lit Up

Suspiciously Pleased and I went to see Trailer Trash's Trashy Little X-Mas Show last night at Lee's. Oh man. Those guys are in serious danger of being stalked. Here's a little taste of awsomeness:

Do You Hear What I Hear (You Rea
Do You Hear What I...
Hosted by eSnips

You're welcome.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


I'm experimenting in the name of saving some dough -- I just ordered my new glasses online. These are them:

I came under the thrall of a blog call Glassy Eyes. This guy Ira has become enraged by the eyeglass industrial complex and after researching and using some eyeglass-selling Web sites, recommends that we spurn our money-grubbing opticians and order on line. I also have lingering resentment over the amount of money I've spent over the years on something I can't function without, so he had no trouble convincing me.

There's a certain amount of dinking around needed: you have determine what frames you want without being able to try them on and you have to learn about measurements and stuff. And this would be a lot easier and cheaper for someone with a weaker and less complicated prescription than mine (astigmatism! prism! bifocal! God.).

However, I stopped in at Vision World and priced out my prescription with lower priced frames and the thinnest lens (they always insist I get the "super high index" because of my coke-bottle-bottom lens) and it came to around $330. And that was with their "50% off the frames and lenses" special this week. I ordered the ones shown above, without the super thin lenses for $111.51.

They're supposed to be here in about a week. I'll let you know how it goes.

P.S. The kitchen is lovely and the contractors are gone. I still haven't finished the painting, but I don't care. It'll get done at some point. You should come over and see it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mad House

Your endless efforts to distract yourself while you wait to hear more about my kitchen are now over! I can't imagine how you filled the hours. I, for one, have been alternately quivering with rage, silently despairing, and staring blankly into the middle distance. This is what I've learned from my adventure: I hate remodeling with the white hot heat of a thousand suns.

Right! On to the photos:

A vast expanse of countertop! I imagine four people chopping vegetables at the same time--come on over. Bring carrots!

It's island-living here in land-locked St. Paul.

Dig the pull-out garbage/recycling -- so tidy!

The refrigerator is still in the dining room, but the liquor has already been stowed in the cupboard above, per family tradition:

The desk! I'm going to be redonkulously organized:

I leave you with the pretty floor:

There's lots of trim still to go up and a closet door, but I now have heat, which is a nice change of pace. I think I can see the end from here.
In eyeball news, my cataract surgery is scheduled for November 11, so there's that. Once I've recovered and the remodelers are gone, I hope to be doing absolutely nothing for weeks on end. Though that plan will be foiled by the holidays... Loafing in January. Who's with me?

P.S.: Several friends just read "silently despairing" and spit out their coffee. "Yeah, silent despair might have been nice, lady." I'd like to give a shout-out to k80, who was very supportive through all my first-thing-in-the-morning rants, Roxy, who soothed me with Ikea therapy, and Fiffy, who had the bad luck to call just as I got home from work one day, when I answered the phone with angry yelling. Sorry for the ringing ears, guys.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Out of the Darkness

I've got Lights! Lots of them -- in the ceiling, under the cabinets, over the island, over the desk, outside the back door. It's a twinkling, Christmas tree of a room now! And outlets, oh my God the outlets. It's sort of ridiculous, really, how many there are. The plumbers were there today, which may mean I'll have heat and a stove tonight. Haaaaa Haahhhahahha HEEeee haa haa haaaaaaaaaa (shrieking maniacal laughter). Countertops arrive tomorrow, perhaps to be installed the same day? That seems preposterous, but you never know. Ooo, then a sink. (hehehheh ohmy woo-ahoh) I feel a little dizzy. Good times!

Monday, September 29, 2008


Winfred-ians!* Did you know that a Twig is the head of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission (i.e. the owners of the Metrodome)? Roy Terwilliger, born in Winfred....What a networking opportunity! I'll use my questionable "press" credentials to get invited to some party he's at, sidle up to him, bond over our shared knowledge of the Winfred literati, and weasel some Vikings season tickets out of him. It can't fail! Unless he moved away at age 5 or something, and never met a Wettlaufer or hung out at Virg's.

Of course, he has other things on his mind at present.

*Note to non-Winfred-ians: Winfred, S.D., is my hometown and Terwilligers took up at least half of it.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


OK, so the cabinets are installed but it wasn't a slam dunk. There are some issues. I had good cry about it, then got mad, then had an idea how to fix it, then had a reasonable conversation with my remedelor. (This is known as the Four Stages of the Remodeling Grief.* It's in the DSM.) You really should wait to call, at least until after the crying is over.

But I will say this: I wish I'd ordered stock cabinets from Lowes or someplace. This "custom cabinet" business is bull. Or at least the guy doing mine is a pain.
However, on to the pictorial:

Everything is good here. As is should be. I'm not sure about my color choices now, 'cause the walls and cabinets seem a little monochromatic -- all blending into each other without enough contrast. But the black counters and dark floor may change the look?

Here's my desk area. I'm sitting here right now! With my makeshift plywood countertop. That cabinet to the left is super big, y'all! But here's where the trouble begins:

That cabinet to the right of the refrigerator opening is kind of stuck in that corner -- can you see it? The wall bumps out right in front of it to house some plumbing. A few weeks ago I said to the cabinet guy, "Are you sure the cabinet door will open in that corner? It's very tight." He assured me it was no problem. Yeah, not so much:

I guess he thought part way would be good enough? Yeah, maybe part of his money will have to be good enough. Jerk. Anyhoo, I think my GC will be able to reframe that bumped out wall with an angle to allow room for the cabinet door.

In other jackassery, the cabinet doors don't match the drawer fronts. You can kinda see on the island:

The cabinets doors are the plain, flat-panel style I ordered, and the drawer fronts are just solid with no style at all. I have no idea why, and the cabinet knucklehead will be fixing it, though he may not be aware of it yet.
Meanwhile, I spent a pleasant hour and a half ordering my countertops from Lowes this evening from Neal, a ridiculously competent and detailed guy in the kitchen department. It took so long, both because he was making sure everything was correct and because we were having a pleasant conversation. I wish to God I'd ordered my cabinets from him. Oh well, spilled milk and all.
My mood has improved, and I'm able to appreciate the presence of cabinets. (Sqeeeee!) Once the final drywall taping and sanding is done (this week?), I may even be able to put away some of my drop cloths. My lifestyle would be improved significantly at that point.
*Please note that you do not go through the Four Stages once, but many, many times during the remodeling process.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yeeeee-Haaaw [shoots gun in air]

I just talked to my remodeler and he says the cabinets should start going in next week. Squeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! OMG, I can't wait!!

We must be on the downhill slide 'cause I been paintin'. The whole room got a coat of primer and the ceiling got another coat of white. (White paint does not make for exiting photos, unfortch.) I'll apply the wall color over the weekend and maybe paint the door. Painting is super easy when you don't have to do any taping.

Maybe by this time next week, I can put stuff in a cabinet. Can you imagine? Stuff. In a cabinet! Unimaginable luxury! I'm going to pee my pants from excitement!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Name Calling

If Sarah Palin were my mom, my name would be Tank Dent. And you? Ask the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator.

By the way, I don't think the Republicans know what the work "sexist" means. Tip to the GOP: Poking fun at a candidate on SNL probably doesn't qualify, unless some kind of offensive word was used. Pundits commenting on her looks and clothes rather than addressing her policy positions? Yeah, that's a bigger issue.

And while I'm up, feminism is not about the elevation of one woman. Nominating a woman to high office doesn't make her or you a feminist. Working for the rights, equality, and well being of all women does, so you need to shut up about that, 'cause your track record isn't so good in that area.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Baby Steps

A few more progress photos--new insulation with vapor barrier. Sexy!

Look at all the outlets! Also, you can see the colors on the scrap wood. The off-white is for the wall and base cabinets, the brown is the island and the gold is for the walls.

You like? I'm totally recreating my mom's kitchen of the '70s -- brown appliances, gold carpet -- except it wasn't intentional, I swear! Then there was drywall... Check out the alcove to the left of the back door, where my new desk will be:

Yesterday, the neighbors probably heard me yelling for joy -- I have a back door for the first time in a month. Isn't it pretty?:

Please note the convenient blinds, encased between two panes of glass:

Almost as exciting as outlets! (You think I'm kidding.)

My mood is only marginal, with evenly spaced nervous breakdowns. Yesterday was a bright spot, though, with the door and my friend and co-worker Denise making me a hotdish and green beans to last a week. You guys, so good. I've been fantisizing lately about the humblest of meals. Thanks D. -- they'd canonize you if you weren't Lutheran.

I'm starting to get rid of furniture I won't need. Anybody looking for a desk or a pink dresser with mirror? The latter is tres shabby chic:

Bargain basement prices, y'all!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Keepin' On

Sorry for the radio silence. I'm not on the InterWebs at home now, due to wiring changes/remodeling limbo. I need to take my laptop to a hot spot and do some updating, but then, I need to do a lot of things.

But just so you know: I've got insulation, I've got new wiring (OMG, outlets!!), I've got drywall. No door yet, though. grumble, grumble, bitch, moan Also, major design change last week when the island went from angled to perpendicular to the dining room wall. Turns out the angled version restricts traffic to the back door. The island is now longer, so I'm getting one of those pull-out garbage bin drawers next to the sink. Yay! I think the floor goes in sometime. I don't know. Nobody tells me anything.

I spent the weekend in western S.D. with this lot. But we were mourning a loss, so the performances were limited to guitars and singing. Good to see everybody, sad as we were and are. Be well, you guys.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Only Thing I Do Now

I pulled down the wallpaper in the kitchen closet, the last remnant of the kitchen decor from when I bought the place. It's good to have finally vanquished it all. Check it:

It's sort of like a cross between a children's picture book and an acid trip. That cow always seemed slightly demonic. Anyway, that was the border at chair-rail level. It was paired with two very busy patterns, the busier one on the bottom. You can kinda tell from this:

I took that photo when I was still considering buying the place. The visual chaos obviously blinded me to the fact that the cabinets weren't attached. Oy.

Meanwhile, electrical work is being done and lighting placement happens tomorrow, leading inexorably to insulation and drywall. Woo-hoo! I picked out some pendant lights for over the island. What do you think?:

I love that red! I also got a new microwave for over the stove:

Mmmm, shiny. Now you'll have to excuse me while I go do my dishes in the laundry tub.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Structurally Sound

Kitchen progress is being made. The floor is now level and the opening between kitchen and dining room opened up:

It's comforting to have a sturdy header over that opening, where there was none before. The back door was especially alarming, where some yahoo had just cut a hole. In a load bearing wall. The studs just ended at the top of the door! That? Is amazing. We now have a better solution:

I'm looking forward to having a new door in that opening in the next few days. The cat is very confused as to why I can't just let him out there.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It's Not too Dark, is it?

More choices have been made -- see above for my new chestnut flooring. As of now, the cabinets will be a nice buttery cream color and the island will be a chocolate brown. I'm thinking of a muted gold for the walls. Or a muted green. Or a muted slate blue. It will definitely be muted.

These choices are very stressful! Why is that? I've survived many other poor paint choices -- what's the big? Oh, who am I kidding... it's not about the paint, it's about the money. The sheer, staggering most-of-a-year's-salary size of the bill. I'm hard wired to spend only on utility and not on pretty. If the lovely maple cabinets are $1000 more, I must have painted. I won't choose to open up that doorway, even if it would make the space more comfortable, until it becomes clear those new headers were going to have to go in anyway and the money isn't an issue. Spending money on improved mechanicals is one thing, spending money on the beautiful teak flooring is selfish. Of course, I have a budget. The cuts have to come somewhere. What am I going to do ... decide that the floor doesn't need to leveled after all? I don't think so:

Still, I realized today that I've been repeating an obscure little mantra to myself: "I'm improving the city's housing stock." Yeah, so important these days, with all the foreclosures! (Huh?) But clearly I feel I need to tie my remodeling project to the greater good in order to justify the expense to myself. If you know me, I assume you're not surprised.

Say something encouraging, y'all.

Monday, August 4, 2008

I'm No Good at This

More kitchen dithering. I'm not a good shopper, people!
The original cabinets I chose -- plain shaker-style doors in a pretty lightly stained maple -- proved to be beyond my budget. So now I'm going with painted cabinets, maybe in an off-white. What do you think of this door style?

I have to go back out to the cabinet showroom -- I don't know exactly what's available. What about these? I kind of like the more yellowish cast of this color:

I'm going to ask if the paint color on the island can be different -- maybe a smoky blue or an olive green. I'm going to choose a wood floor in a darker warm tone. I love the crisp line where light cabinets meet a wood floor:

Click through for the laminate I've picked for the countertops. What is your advice people? I have no idea what to paint the walls. I wish there was some place to put it together so I could see what it would look like. My brain hurts.

Meanwhile, all the warts have been revealed in the kitchen. The floor has been torn out:

Four layers! There is now a two inch step down from the dining room:

The floor now pitches even more precipitously toward the corner (note the listing stove--not a trick of the light). The remodeling guy called it a "disaster," which was just hyperbole to justify the extra money he's going to charge me to level it, I think. Apparently, all the previous owners subscribed to the "add a layer" school of home remodeling. Somebody should have told them that plywood and drywall don't work well as insulation.
Good news: I think the anxiety has caused me to lose a couple pounds!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Corruption and Decay

OK, get this: my right eyeball, the one that tried to offload its retina four years ago? Now has a cataract. Can you believe that shit?!? It's like the Ford Pinto of eyeballs. I'm only 43 years old people!

I'm actually kinda relieved. It could have been more retinal problems, which are tricky and risky. Cataract surgery on the other hand is kind of a snap, I hear. Just drive up, roll down your window, bing bang boom, you're outta there. I was diagnosed by the surgeon who did my retina surgery—he seemed almost offended that I'd come to him with such a trivial matter.

Still, I don't like reminders of my non-youthfulness. Some jerk colleague objected to my use of the term chillax the other day, on the grounds of my age, or so he implied. I wanted to give him such a pinch.

Can I get a seeing-eye dog for this?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kitchen Krazy

Oh man, my people. It is so on. I've marshalled the necessary energies and debt to finally do something about the kitchen limbo I've been living in for an age. I've signed up with a remodeler, pulled down a bunch of crumbling plaster, and bent my brain around cabinet, flooring, and appliance shopping. Lemme show ya around!

The kitchen with some elements still intact (including unwashed dishes and general squalor):

The destruction begins:

Middle-aged woman with wrecking bar. FEAR ME!

I show a couple more walls who's boss:

After the first layer of newer drywall is off, the really attractive, greenish plaster is revealed:

At this point, I can't take it any more:

But I finished off that green monster the next day:

I let the professionals take down the ceiling. I still have my sink for now, but will likely lose it in the next few days. Then it's the hose out back for me! I'm pretending I'm camping.

But oh my god you guys! Here's what it could look like (with different cabinet styles, countertop, and appliances), according to the cabinet guy's computer:

Isn't it to die for!? The party begins an hour after the last carpenter leaves, y'all!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Big Night

For those of you who haven't given up on Sassmaster, here's a little something:

Yeah, that's right. Hybrid Fat-N-Sassy and I met our girl crush Maria Bamford after we caught her act in Minneapolis. She does not disappoint, y'all!