Wednesday, August 30, 2006

You Want a Different What?

Well... Mark decided that the colors in the bedroom are a little saturated. "It looks less like a New York apartment and sort of like... a cottage bakery," he said. "Arthur's room really looks like a kid's room," he added. "And this 'Raleigh Green' for the trim? As soon as I put it on I said to myself, I've seen that color before and it's 'baby-poop green.'"

I feel energized when I walk into that part of the house. It's almost a physical sensation. But then again, I like Jean-Micheal Jarre and Juno Reactor -- so maybe it's the limbic part of my brain that needs to be stimulated. Anyway, I gave Mark the go-ahead to get a lighter colored yellow (from the same paint chip as "Glorious Glow") for the living room. I figure I can always live in the bedrooms during the Dark Half Of The Year (dark, so very dark...)

We've been tag-team painting, so we haven't actually been in the living room at the same time. Last night I was painting until one in the morning; the other night Mark was the one painting until past midnight. We've seen so little of each other awake that Mark commented that this must be what couples with two jobs each must feel like.

Depending on what time of day (or night) it is, how many lights we turn on, and how much paint is applied, the color of the living room yellow goes anywhere from a kind of mustard brown to a pale yellow-green. I think part of this chameleon effect is due to the pale nature of the paint color -- it picks up what ever other colors are reflected on it (like from the blue painter's tape). I think it's such a light, unsaturated color that we'll need to apply two coats of it to get a consistent color.

So, I'm not sure, but I think I've been painting the living room a color I would have never have imagined: pale yellow beige. I'm not sure if this counts as a Judith Viorst poem or not.

The current theory is that we'll be moving into the house Labor Day. Really. It's. Going. To. Happen.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Are We There, Yet?

The house is progressing. My Dad came over and has been a great help. When he put on the white primer coat and made the old, icky colors go away I was about ready to leave the walls white. It was like a new morning had come into the house, filling the rooms with light. The old colors really did suck all the light out of the air.

Then he put on the base color: Dutch Boy Glorius Glow. The light from the primer had been a winter's day with snow reflecting a cold blue sky. The light from the top coat was from the heart of summer; it made the oak floor glow. Mark and I had done the right thing by making sure the paint chips harmonized with the short wood planks. I can only conclude that whoever painted the house before us was colorblind or enjoyed being depressed in the dreary Willamette Valley days of January and February, which are filled with moody and poetic drizzle and fog. The only thing that glows during these months are the moss and lichen on the trees (and that's only between the wan daylight hours of 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM).

So far the walls on one and a half bedrooms are complete. There's some minor undercoating that needs to happen in the square hall, and in part of the dining nook. No trim has been painted yet. Mark has been saying things like, "Boy, this sure is yellow -- but I like it. It's cheery," so I think he's hoping the darker trim colors will help to ground things out a little. I suppose that we could get a reproduction of Vincent van Gogh's sunflowers...

On the Arthur front: He can't walk, but he can climb. The other day, Arthur climbed up on top of the landladies' picnic table -- the collapsable one with the swivle top. Yesterday he found a ladder propped up against the deadly wisteria and scrambled up it (I was right there spotting him). And he's a little mad at us for not giving him a paintbrush so he can paint the house.

Mark continues to find (and buy) toys for Arther that are disturbing. He got a sprinkler a few days ago: it's plastic and in the shape of a Disney eyed puppy with floppy ears. Water comes out of the puppy's colar in about seven streams. When the water goes through it, it rocks its head from right to left. At first, it's cute; but after a while, the relentless and sometimes frantic rocking of the head seems like a metaphor for hyperactivity. The water rushing through the puppy represents raw, psychological and physiological force, but it can only be used to knod convulsviely; the puppy cannot not stand still. It's enough to make me want to get it some ritalin. Arthur loves it and will point at it until we turn it on and he can get soaked.

The most recent acquisition is some sort of 1996 musical blocks toy. It's a rectangular plastic box. A memory cartridge fits in the back slot. There arer five additional slots for five small cubes. The cubes are different colors and have different geometric shapes on them. If you arrange the cubes from left to right blue, green, yellow, organge, red, it will play a tune based on Motzart's Night Music. Different geometric shapes on the cube faces signify different voices. I think this would be cool if Arthur knew the sequence of A) colors and B) the tune. He doesn't; the result sounds like an experiment in rap music and percussion as he bangs one or more of the cubes onto toy. Even though it's not the Leapfrog Anti-Diva singing on it, I think I'll have to walk away when Arthur starts playing with it.

Monday, August 21, 2006

We've Reached A Milestone

We've reached a new milestone in home-ownership. It's the "I'm so tired of working on this house I just want this project to be done" milestone.

Or is that the, "Nobody'll notice milestone?"

I'm sure our contractor friend, Ed, will have a name for it that involves fire.

In any case, after about 11 days (and I'm going to guess 48 person-hours of work) we're finished scraping all the paint-like emolents off of the kitchen cabinets. So now we get to clean everything -- the walls, the ceilings, the floors, the cabinets, the mantle, the divider, the oven, the sink, the... say... well, maybe we haven't reached that milestone after all.

Mark has decided that our color scheme is going to make our house look like an unpretentious but upscale candy shop. As long as it's not "Old Lady" decor, I'm happy, and if I can get a purple top hat like WIlly Wonka out of it so much the better.

On the Arthur front: he's climbing everything. He's not walking, yet, but I think his climbing skills are making up for it. He can also stand without help for about five seconds.

As for talking... Well, every now and then I catch Arthur whsipering sibilent words in the corner. It's a little unnerving because it sounds like something like "Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul. Precious."

And then there was last night. Arthur's new molar woke him up in the middle of the night, so Mark put him in our bed. A little later I was thwacked out of a sound sleep by a flailing baby arm.

It was Arthur.

He was signing in his sleep.

Arm Photon Torpedos!

For a variety of reasons, our moving date has floated back a week... or even more. If we don't move Labor Day weekend, we'll have to wait until after Shrewsbury (Sept 8-10) to move two weeks later (Sept 15-16). This gives me two weeks to recover from moving and finish up the final draft of a story for the Writers of the Future contest (Sept 30).

I think the quote of the day for August 18 was, "Wow, it's a good thing John didn't have photon torpedoes or those people would be so dead." (Sometimes shouting 'Arm photon torpedos!' at the idiot driving in front of you helps to relieve stress.)

So I'm a man with a mission; finish up the house now so I can free up my will to focus on other projects (like writing, for one thing). It's become obvious to me that we'll be hinkle-pinkling around with various odd house jobs forever unless we hire a baby-sitter to watch Arthur while the both of us take on the tasks of new-home-ownership. So we've got one for next week.

This weekend we had lots of help... Scraping. The. Damn. Kitchen. Cabinets. Even if they are old, clear fir, I'm about ready to take them out and burn them. Even with (or possibly in spite of) using strippers on the cabinets, there's areas of decorative globs that gum up the sandpaper. I've discovered a new tool called a "sandstone" that is sort of like a cross between pumice and a sponge; with a little bit of pressure you can use it to get right down to the wood. At least in the parts where you can use the sandstone. It's a little ironic that the kitchen is what's holding us up because if we could afford it, the kitchen would be the second thing we'd gut and re-do. (The first would be the bathroom.)

Probably the funniest thing to happen this weekend (which I didn't see) was my Dad managed to cut through an extension cord with electrical hedge shears. I'm told it was very dramatic with lots of sparks. Good thing part of the house settlement was installing trip-fuse electrical sockets; my Dad's already had his heart medically rebooted twice.

This whole ordeal has been a learning experience, though; I've learned that Mark and I physically perceive colors differently. If you give us a source green, for example, and a variety of green paint chips, we'll choose different chips. I don't know if we're using different ways to evaluate color tone or color shade or some other color modality -- but it's different. The good news is that Mark and I have chosen three colors to paint the house, we wrote the color names down on a piece of paper and we both signed it. I think this will be the first page in what we'll call "The Book of Big Decisions." I'm very glad that we've irrevocably, finally, absolutely really and for true, nailed down the colors. Now, of course, we have to buy the paint. We've also agreed on drawer pulls for the house -- they're classy and round, and it's nice that we had a gift certificate from Jerry's because elegance and style aren't cheap. We would have gotten some cobalt glass pulls, but they were even more expensive.

In further good news, I've decided that I like the smell of Murphy's Wood Soap. Which is a darn good thing because there's paint dust and chips all over our hard wood floors.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Saturday at "Che Spectreeck"


Mark and I sat down and here's what we came up with. We still very much need any help people want to offer -- and I'm sure Arthur would be pleased to see anyone who wants to stop by.

There was still some substance on the kitchen cabinets that was gumming up the sandpaper, so the cabinets still need to be scraped a bit more and then sanded.

Once we're done sanding, then we can do a final wall and ceiling cleaning. OK, and the floors need to be mopped, too, because we've tracked some paint chip bit things all over.

Other tasks that need to be done are removing face and socket plates from the walls and filling in the drawer and cabinet pull holes (we're replacing the small, old, ugly, 50's style pulls with something a little nicer).

Once everything is clean, then we can begin the painting process. Just as soon as we buy the paint. I'm afraid to give any kind of progress report on color pallets because every time I think we've come to a decision, I'm wrong; I think we're still going with the elemental pallet reported on earlier (but we've had a serious discussion about a monochrome green pallet).

Don't ask me when I think we're going to move.

No Paint Yet...

We're (probably) going to by paint today. This would be good, because we're supposed to paint the house tommorrow. Most of the old paint is off; there's still some tricky parts in the kitchen.

Arthur is not allowed to touch the oven. So I'm not sure what I should do when, after being told a million times that the oven is "not for Arthur", he crawls off and crawls back with a spatula and starts whacking the oven with it.

I tried not to laugh.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Progress Report

Arthur is crawling on his feet and hands as if he were a gorilla. It is probably a matter of hours before he is walking and My Life Changes Forever (Again).

Today my folks came over; my Mom watched Arthur in the back yard while I, Mark, and my Dad scraped paint off of the walls. The bedrooms are all scraped and sanded and plastered. So is the hallway between them. The bathroom we're just going to live with. The living room is mostly scraped and needs to be sanded. The kitchen... needs to be scraped and sanded.

All this scraping makes me feel like I'm some kind of nano-dentist working on someone's tartar build-up.

The People Who Used Latex is beginning to become a theme in my mind. I can almost hear Leonard Nimoy now, "In Search of The Latex Painters." Who were these people and what were they thinking...?

Must. Paint. House.

Friday, August 11, 2006

True Colors

Let's see.

Arthur can blow bubbles if you hold the bubble wand in front of his mouth and tell him to blow. We're hoping to catch some of this on video in the next few days.

On the house department, we've discovered the joys of paint strippers and honest-to-God paint stripping tools. It's a joy to use the right tool for a job. The paint stripper just peels the latex right off of the enamel.

It's kind of funny, but it appears that the interior has been painted variations of green and yellow found in oak floors before it was painted the dreadful olive-sandstone with white trim color. Also in the kind-of-funny department, I thought Mark and I had agreed on a color pallet, but I guess we haven't. It seems the specific tiles from M.P. Verneuil's Art Nouveau Animal Designs and Patterns weren't the final word, at least in Mark's mind, and he'd like to choose some colors from the book, but he's not sure, what. All I know is that the copy we he had blended in well with the oak floor and the pale cream color is bright and cheery.

The colors are sort of a pale creamy yellow, kind of peach, and a dark pine. Or not. Looks like we'll be visiting the Visibone Color Lab over the next few days.

Monday, August 07, 2006

You Oughtta LeapFrog

I was searching around the web and found an Alanis Morissette lyric generator.

Here's what it came up with when I told it my baby toy woes:


Toys, songs, voices
Why God, Why?
Songs, homes, LeapFrog
Why God, Why?

What have I done to deserve this purple horror?
Surrounded on all sides with the Hell of LeapFrog
Like a William Blake character, I'm wordy and alone
Why God, Why?

Babies, toys, sounds
Why God, Why?
LeapFrog, sounds, voices
Why God, Why?

What have I done to deserve this purple disaster that is my life?
Surrounded on all sides with the Hell of LeapFrog
Like a William Blake character, I'm wordy and alone
Why God, Why?

What have I done to deserve this purple misery?
Surrounded on all sides with the Hell of LeapFrog
Like a William Blake character, I'm wordy and alone
Why God, Why?

Why God, Why?
Why God, Why?
Why God, Why?
Why God, Why?

My Sister's Big Fat Wedding

My sister, Julie, is married now. It was a high church wedding at the Episcopal church my folks have attended since 1967. Julie was regal in her white dress and my grandmother's veil. Randy, my new brother-in-law, looked handsome with his black tuxedo and lily boutonniere.

The funniest part of the wedding was when the officiant dropped the rings. The bittersweet part of the wedding was seating my Grandmother, who has a short-term memory appropriate for a ninety-six year old. The most ironic part (for me as someone who is organizing Unitarian Universalistic Pagans, anyway) was reading 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and 1 John 4:7-21. It was also (for me) the most self-restrained part because I had to refrain from reading the lessons as if I were William Shatner or the Bishop from The Princess Bride. I suppose it says something about the readings because many people who heard them -- not knowing they were coming out of the mouth of a neo-pagan -- were moved (or at least complimentary).

Arthur fed us his Cheerios as Julie and Randy were exchanging their vows -- and he really likes my cousin, Jane, because he fed her a piece of highly coveted cheese. The most medical part of the wedding was watching Jane sing The Lord's Prayer and seeing how her uvula and soft palate produce sound (this was before the cheese feeding). The Baby Bach moment of the wedding was when the string quartet played especially for Arthur as folks were exiting the church (I think the viola player might have gotten some cheese earlier if she had been close enough). The 'Be Prepared' moment of the wedding was when Mark loaned a tie to someone at the reception who, um, 'forgot' his.

Mark won the Father of the Year award for watching Arthur all of the day so I could play host at the reception and other Big Brother Jobs. My Dad won the Martha Stewart Award for being unable to sleep the morning of the wedding and getting up at 2 AM to work on boutonnieres. I'm sure my Mom gets an award, too, but I can't figure out what it should be.

Arthur has a cold. And possibly a new molar. Luckily, this all manifested after the wedding was over, so all of the 2,000 wedding guests think Arthur is the cutest, most well behaved baby ever. I try to remember all their kind words when Arthur wakes up screaming at midnight (OK, Mark will point out he had a little help waking up), or when he uses my pants as a Kleenex.

For the wedding, Mark purchased An Infernal Machine. For Arthur. He described it as a lawnmower that would help Arthur learn to walk. In reality, I think it's a cross between a monster truck and a Mardi Gras float... with a shopping cart handle attached at the end. It's a "Learning Band Walker." I don't mind (much) that it plays trumpet solos. I don't mind (really) that it has volume and on/off switches that Arthur can reach and manipulate.

What makes this, this thing, An Infernal Machine is that it has a woman singing. And not just any woman -- if it were Cher or Yma Sumac it would be fine. It's Her -- the same woman from the LeapFrog Writing Desk. In fact, when I said, "Augh! It's the same woman!" Mark said, "Oh yeah, it's the same company; LeapFrog."

It's bad enough that natural selection has provided the world with a person who can make the phrase "one, two, three, four, five" sound like a ultra-perky description of saccharin-sprinkled pink bunnies and unicorns frolicking in the woods. But presumably a toy executive decided that they needed to hold auditions to find such a person and pay them to keep doing it.

I hate the LeapFrog Writing Desk Woman. I hate Her so much -- and I don't normally do this sort of thing -- that when Arthur's asleep I think up ways to fool the LeapFrog Writing Desk into saying curse words. There's a lot you can do with a well placed X or homophone.

I did a quick Google Search, but I didn't find a hack page for the LeapFrog Learning Band Walker. Then I did another Google Search, but I still don't seem to be able find any instructions for replacing The Anti-Diva's voice with my own.

Why don't they hire someone like Annie Lennox or Alanis Morissette to be the voice for these toys? Or even my cousin, Jane; kids could learn all about uvulas that way.

Ah well... back to scraping paint off of the house.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Pause in Scraping

Yesterday was my and Mark's second anniversary. Sarah, Gretchen and Lexi watched Arthur and we had a nice romantic dinner at a local restaurant. One of the women who used to work at Savoure was our waitress. We commiserated about the loss of the salon, and Mark added that we probably make better tea at home now. It was pleasant to be able to be with each other without having to focus on the child or scraping paint.

The last two nights I've been having all sorts of strange dreams. Sunday night's dream was very magically oriented, with amethyst and talking bears and Bigfoot and fish taking naps on the surface of the oceans. Last night's dream wanted to be a cross between a Prince Valiant cartoon and a National Geographic -- I'll have to look up Greek images of a horseman with a falcon. Then it turned into a reality dating show. I'm actually glad these types of dreams have returned; lately it seems I keep having dreams where I'm stuck at Arcosanti and anxious about catching a plane or train.

Tonight there's more paint scraping. Actually, I think it's sanding, now. I was wrong about the wall trim, it's not latex paint -- so really, all we have to scrape are the window casings (which is still more scraping than I wanted to do). The new house is nice. I was saying to Mark the other day how great it was that we had a full view of the southern sky so we could see the path of the moon and sun. The sky is darker over the new house (we're away from the bright lights of highway 105), so we can see the stars, too. I haven't done more than eyeball the house's edge with Polaris, but I'm pretty sure the house is squared with the cardinal directions.

Now all we have to do is paint, pack, move in, and unpack....

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New Homes with Laurie Anderson

Looks like we're going to have to get higher desks in the new house. Either that or The Child will have to go to a computer class. Maybe we can find a drool-proof keyboard with a projectile-proof screen.

The other day we went on a open house tour put on by local area builders and realtors. It was strange. The first house was basically The Mariott meets the boy's club. In the bathroom was a huge, two-basin wide mirror. It was a two way mirror, and a television was installed behind it. It was the weirdest, stupidest thing I had ever seen -- I made the mistake of giving my opinion when somebody asked, "Isn't that TV cool?" I think he was the contractor who built it, and if he'd had cat ears they would have been flat against his head.

We went to a bunch of houses, mostly to look at color combinations and design ideas. The first three houses were more or less the same color. And they were very blandly decorated. Except for the lamp shades; it looks like your choices are Louis XIII lamp shades with dangling beads or large glass hurricane lamps (Mark broke his own, hastily enacted 'Be Nice' rule by calling the latter "somebody's science project.")

Then we went to the "MacMansions." I never understood the term before that night. It looked like The Borg had scooped up a chunk of southern California and dropped it on the southwest end of Eugene (where it used to meet the forrest). What struck me about these houses was that each room was designed for a single function, and that the rooms were not to human scale. One room looked like the ruins of the Lady Chapel at Glastonbury Cathedral -- it appeared to be missing a middle floor, and I kept looking around for where a crucifix should be. Oh, yeah, and it appears that new houses must come with small auditorium for showing either The Incredibles or Pirates of the Carribiean. When I ran into another TV installed behind a bathroom mirror, I said, "Oh no, it's another one." before I could stop myself.

The whole TV behind a bathroom mirrror really stuck with me, and inspired a Laurie Anderson-esque poem:
Good Morning, America

I woke up the other day
And I went to the mirror
But I couldn't see myself
Instead, it was the TV guy
And I said,  "Oh boy, I look good."