Thursday, January 31, 2013

Raw sewage and birthday cake

I think Contractor God is avoiding me.  When I saw him on the street a few days ago, he quickly donned women's clothing and told me he'd never heard of himself in a high-pitched voice.

I approached him again yesterday but before I could get a word out, he was a contractor-sized blur, leaping over cars and knocking down pedestrians as he ran.

Today when I asked him to do a few odd jobs at our rental house on Beacon Hill, he didn't speak, just growled at me and slammed the door as he left.

(That last one is true, the others are my usual bullshit).

I can't blame him.  He's been through a lot for us, more than any man should ever endure. He's taken on the neverending story that is Banister Abbey alongside the pressure-filled Goddamn House. Worse, he recently came over on a Saturday morning when we called in a panic; our sink was backed up, our basement was flooded and everything smelled like sewage.

Al and Contractor God eventually fixed that (big) problem but it was a long, painful process. All three of us would like to erase from our memories what we saw and smelled that day. Alex had the insight to say, "You should take a picture of all this raw sewage for your blog." but I answered "No" because....

I was a chaperone recently for Lucien's class field trip to the puppet theater.  I generally don't like puppets, in fact am pretty creeped out by the little f*ckers, but I wanted to be a helpful parent.

Regardless of the destination, I do love being a chaperone.  These kids are at the best age; there's nothing in the world like a first-grader's eyes blinking up at you as they ask, "Lucien's Mommy, do unicorns exist?"  It's very entertaining but also hard to spit out the answer -- "Of course not, you stupid little first-grader!" -- in between guffaws.

Lucien sat next to me on the school bus, held my hand and rested his head on my shoulder.  I don't know how many more years I have of him being thrilled to have his Mama along on field trips.  Soon enough I'm going to embarrass the hell out of him just by being visible.

The puppets were surprisingly enjoyable and were operated by award-winning Chinese puppeteers.  After the show, the puppeteers agreed to take questions from the children.  I think they regretted that decision when five hundred small hands shot in the air.

When called upon, the children did one of three things:  1.) said, "Ummmmm....." because they didn't really have a question, 2.) rambled on nonsensically, or 3.) asked something like, "How do the puppets go to the bathroom?"

(Incidentally, you cannot use the words "puppet" and "potty" in the same sentence without sounding like an idiot, no matter how many fancy awards you've won.)

Lucien turned 7 years old last week.  We had his birthday party over the weekend.  We had twenty kids here.  There's something wrong with us, maybe.

Thankfully, we hired the best kid magician in the world to entertain them for the first hour.  I was skeptical it was going to work, expected the kids to turn against Xakary the Magician after ten minutes and pelt him with party favors. But Xakary is a true professional.  He not only kept the kids' attention for nearly an hour, he kept them laughing and happy so we parents could gossip and eat junk food in the kitchen.

Xakary made Lucien the star of the show.  The culminating moment of Lucien's life thus far was helping Xakary pull a live rabbit out of an empty box.  It was a really big deal.

I'm considering hiring Xakary every weekend for the rest of our lives so I can finally get a few things done around here.

Most parents dropped their kids off at the party and ran but a hardy few stuck around so I wouldn't have to bear it alone.  They promised they would bring flasks to help us get through but they lied, they LIED.

There are not many rooms in either Banister Abbey or The Goddamn House that are finished so I've been reluctant to post photos.  I keep waiting for that "Ta-DAH!  F*cker's finished!" feeling but I may be an old, old woman before that blessed moment happens.

Even though the work completed is plentiful, it all still looks unpainted, unfinished.  In our defense, we can't do anything until we do other things first.  But those other things rely on us doing other things and buying necessary doodads.  But to buy the doodads, we must measure the spaces that are not yet there.  It's all connected in one neverending cycle of incompleteness.

I can finally celebrate something kind of close.  I can celebrate the one room in Banister Abbey that is finished, truly finished -- except for putting the pocket doors back in and moving the piano back and getting that one piece of wood above the window back from the stripper (wood stripper, not naked stripper, though I bet that would be a better story) -- but finished enough.

Here's what the parlor looked like before we moved in:

Here it is now:

There was a lot more involved in that room than buying furniture and fluffing pillows but Lord, you'd never know it.  It's disheartening, with all the time and money spent, when friends come over and can only remark, "Oh, you painted!" 

I wish changes could be tracked and highlighted and presented to each guest in a binder.  Then, a Powerpoint presentation full of slides of sheetrock dust, nail guns, chemicals, splinters and pain! 

As for The Goddamn House, it's not done either but it's close.  I'll post more pictures when it's truly done but in the meantime, here's one to prove I'm not lying when I say I think about houses ALL the TIME. 

The kitchen before, with two years of garbage and graffiti still hanging about:

The kitchen now, with sexy back views of Contractor God and Street of Dreams Neighbor:

Those are party lights installed above the cabinets.  They can be set to twelve different colors. They can also blink or fade from one color to another.  
They were Contractor God's idea.
Dear Lord, why?

Alex is in Japan again.  The night before he left, he accidentally set off the alarm downstairs.  I was brushing my teeth upstairs, assuming he had it handled and would turn it off in a second.  When it continued to go off, I went to the stairwell and leaned over the banister, "Al?  All OK?"

Alex ran past downstairs, flustered and disheveled and yelling, "What do I do?  What do I do?"

Piercing sirens can fluster even the most together of men,


  1. Don't let my husband know about the cabinet lights; they'll drive me crazy. :-) Lovely to enjoy this little missive over lunch. Made. My. Day.

  2. howdy absent blog queen...haha

    love the house pics..I enjoy that colour of blue...and the kitchen in the goddamn house is fab.

    and is that a white deer head stuck on your wall? how canadian!

    chime in anytime Duch.

    1. Hello:)

      Yes, I must say that white deer head caught my attention. So heart-warming to see a little canadiana in your living room or whatchamacallit!:)

  3. The pictures look gorgeous! I am coveting your chairs. For what it's worth, we feel the same way about the OMG Endless Projects That Need To Be Done. And we have lived here three years. And are working on one house. You are at least making progress! :) -Minda

  4. I can't take more renos. The ones in our first house were fairly minor and they just about did us in! Plus, I have asthma, so sawdust is not my friend.

    I too love the kitchen in the GDH!:) B-Abbey will look like something out of Elle Decor when you're done with it (right before your children put you in a home and just in time for your grand children's graduation;)

    Happy birthday, Loosh! Wow, 7 already! To think that you celebrated his third birthday (twice!) a few weeks after you arrived in Paris:) Time sure flies:) you know that new blog Debs told you about? That woman who's kind of reliving your life in Paris? Well, she just gave birth to her own Paris baby - a girl! - on the Loosh's birthday!! Now how funky is that, eh?:)

  5. Ewwwwwwwwwwww raw sewerage OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!! Thanks for triggering that major burst of post-traumatic stress. That smell is forever imprinted in my olfactory receptors.

    Like the best magicians, you don't want to show people the tricks behind your renovation magic! The fact that they do just think that you painted, and don't see all the crap that went on behind the scenes, is proof of your mad skillz. Take a bow, Reno Master.

  6. The renovations all look great, you did a great job keeping the character of the rooms intact. I especially love the lights in all the rooms. And I do want those chairs too!

    How could Lucien be 7?! Wasn't he just a toddler talking about "ouchies" a minute ago? Tell him his mom's fans say 'happy birthday!'

    1. Speaking of lights... Whatever happened to that really tacky egg-shaped abomination that was hanging near your staircase? Did you finally decide that it was so strangely compelling in its ugliness that you absolutely had to leave it there?:)

  7. Hi, MJ, I've not commented since Paris. I'm delighted to see the same funny crapola, different venue!

  8. YAY House porn!! I love the rooms that you have done and I LOVE the couch. If we lived closer and I didn't think my kids would ruin it, I would steal it!

  9. excellent blog title, no wait! Great post title, No, I like your profile- oh what they hay- you guys are our kind of weirdos!

    Sending YOU Aloha
    from Honolulu,
    Comfort Spiral
    ~ > < } } ( ° >

  10. I NEED the LED lights for my mom's kitchen remodel. Where can I get some?