Removing the counter and sink…

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 On HGTV they always make demo day seem fun and, quite frankly, easy.  But it is not easy if you are trying to salvage parts of your project.  In our case, we are saving the cabinets, so we had to be careful not to damage them when removing the counter and the sink.  Not easy.

I turned off the water supply valves and then removed the plumbing under the sink.  Since S is a tiny person, she had to climb under the sink to remove the clips that were holding it to the counter.  Five of the clips came out with relative ease.  But there were 50 clips and most of them were rusted pretty badly.  We sprayed some WD-40 on them and waited to see if they would loosen up.  Nope.  Since we couldn’t get the clips removed we couldn’t just pull the sink out.

Out of frustration, I started to hammer on the up-swing along the counter and it started to come loose with an ease that gave me my confidence back.  The counter had merely been glued down, not screwed into the base cabinets.  Woo-hoo!

But wait…  While the counter was pretty easy to loosen, the two of us were never going to be able to lift it out with the cast iron sink still in place.  New idea.  I got out my jig saw and cut the counter up to the back-splash, thinking we could pull it out in parts.  It was a good idea, but flawed in the sense that the jigsaw could only do so much.  We needed a reciprocating saw, which we didn’t have.  But I had seen a cute little one at Wal-Mart a few days ago that was pretty cheap.  So we stopped everything and went to Wal-Mart.

The cute little reciprocating saw was a Black & Decker product. And it was only $30.  But it was rechargeable and before we would be able to use it we would have to charge it.  And I am not a fan of rechargeable tools anyway since they always seem to lack the power of plug ins.  There was also a Skil brand reciprocating saw which was much more powerful and much more expensive.  I ripped open the box to make sure it was a plug in (it was) because it wasn’t clear from the box.  I rationalized away the extra expense by saying that I could also use it to cut out our ugly front hedges and to take out some scrub trees in the backyard.

We got the saw home and I inserted the blade while S stood back in fear.  It is a big saw.  A scary saw.  And I am not one for reading directions.  I should also mention that it is really quite powerful.  The first time I tried to use it, it was like the cliche of a woman shooting a shot gun and getting thrown down on the floor from the kick-back.  It was embarrassing even though I am sure S didn’t notice.  But if there had been a man in the vicinity, he would have laughed derisively.  Anyway, we got the counter cut apart and we lifted out the half with the sink, which was incredibly heavy.  Rummy enjoyed inspecting it once we got it down on the floor.  They never show how hard it is to do renovations with pets running around on HGTV.

The second piece of counter came out easily and was light enough for me to carry out to the garage by myself.  The sink piece was a three person job that we got done with just two people.  I would like to tell you right now that the best thing in the world is to have a work-mate who is always willing to be the one to walk backwards when carrying stuff.  S is great.

After we got our debris to the garage we did a little clean up in the kicthen and then inspected the cabinets.  We didn’t do any damage to them, which is great.  We also found that the Lazy Susan cabinet had one of it’s side pieces broken, so there were boxes of food and a bottle of syrup (from the 1950’s, I think) laying on the floor begging ants and mice to come for a visit.  We’re going to repair that today before we start putting on the new counter.

Before we got started yesterday we went to Lowe’s so that we could build something together, which became the catch phrase of the day.  We found a good stainless steel sink (8″ deep, double bowls) for $99.00.  We also got a new under counter light that we can hard-wire, which is good.  We didn’t get our wet saw because the tile guy was trying to talk us into buying an expensive and slightly less powerful saw than we wanted.  There is nothing I hate more than the “hard sell”.  We also bought some plastic, folding sawhorses ($30 for a pair), which everyone needs, but I had totally overlooked when I bought my circular saw a few months ago.  Now I have something on which to cut.

Later this afternoon, we are going up to our Home Despot to get our lumber, cement board, mastic, grout and tiling tools.  I’m hoping that we have the base of the counter on today and that we can start tiling tomorrow.

There will be updates, of course.

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Waiting for the after…

Last Sunday I posted about our planned kitchen remodel.  I said that some such project would be history “by this time next Sunday“.  I’m pretty sure that it is now this time next Sunday, but the project hasn’t gotten started.  You see, S is an Olympic qualifying sleeper.  She could win awards for sleeping if such awards were ever given.  She can sleep through anything.  Seriously, right now both dogs are up in the bedroom having an epic barking battle right near S’s ear and she is still sound asleep.

I try not to begrudge her the whole sleeping thing.  She gets up early five days a week and works really hard all day long.  This week was especially tough so she deserves the sleep and rest.  I would have started tearing apart the kitchen Friday as soon as she got home from work, but she was drained.  Yesterday I was up early (like always) checking the prices of things we need at Lowe’s.  But when S finally got out of bed, I could tell she needed a day to collect herself.  Fine.  No problem.  We can hunt and gather our supplies Sunday morning and begin the demo Sunday afternoon.  Right?

Well, it’s 10:45 am and there are no signs that S is going to be awake before noon.  I’ve got my list ready and I could go without her, but her feelings would be hurt.  Besides, I kind of need her to do the question asking about a couple of things (sink parts and a hardwired under cabinet light).  I don’t do well with the whole asking for help thing.  I recognize that I need help, but would rather leave the store empty handed than ask for help.  I have problems.

We have eight days to work on this project.  There are times when we will work on something and then have to let it sit for 24 hours before we can finish them.  I am concerned about time constraints because S still has her college classes two evenings this week and she wants us to drive to Pennsylvania and West Virginia to see our families one day this week.  I don’t know… 

I fear that we are never actually going to get started at all.  Or that we will get started and run out of time during the break and then I am going to have to ask her to work on finishing it next week when she is back at work.  But I’ll feel bad about asking her to help with the plumbing or some such thing after she has had a grueling day in the salt mines, so I’ll put it off and we won’t have a working sink for another week.

Which brings me to another point… I think that the water that comes out of the faucet in the bathrooms tastes different than the water in the kitchen faucet.  Always have.  But it’s the same water, right?  So it’s just my imagination?  I have not sipped any water that comes out of the utility sink faucet in the laundry room, but I’m betting that when I do, I’ll think it tastes weird.  But that is going to be our default kitchen sink once the demo begins.  I’m not thrilled about the idea of my water, coffee and sweet tea are going to taste weird for a week or more.  Which is probably why I am so desperate to get this project started.

Well, that and the fact that S’s grandparents are coming up to see the house for the first time at the end of April.  They didn’t see it before we started working on it, so I shouldn’t feel a lot of pressure to impress them with all the work that we have done, but I do.  I want the kitchen completed before they arrive.  I wish we had the time and the money to do the floor tiling in the kitchen/laundry room before they get here, but we don’t.  The yard looks like Hell from a long winter’s neglectand I’m going to want to spruce that up for them.  I just want everything to look nice so that S will be proud to show it off to them.  They are lovely people and she really cares a great deal about their opinion.  I want them to be impressed by where she lives.

thirty-something…

I believe it is an absolute crime that the television series “thirty-something” has not been released on dvd.

When the show made its debut in 1987, I was only 14, but I watched it every single week.  Not only that, but I watched it with my mother.  We bonded over the show about thirty-something yuppies even though I was in my teens and she was in her fifties.  The stories were often great.  The acting was always superb.  The music was perfect.  The characters were engaging.  At the time, there were no better characters on television than Michael & Hope, Nancy & Elliot, Mellisa & Gary and Ellyn. 

It is a crime that right now I could buy the entire series of That 70’s Show or Stargate Atlantis but not thirty-something.  Seriously, how can that be?  What is the hold up?  It’s kind of like waiting for all of the Kennedy assassination papers to be released.  It’s not fair.

Dith Pran has died…

Dith Pran, the photojournalist and survivor of the Khmer Rouge “revolution” has died.

 I think it would be good to honor him by watching or re-watching the movie “The Killing Fields“.

A few nights ago I started reading a biography of Pol Pot.  I’m just a few chapters in and he is still a rather unserious boy.  But it won’t be long before the boy Saloth Sar becomes the murderer Pol Pot.  Pure evil.

My greatest fear…

Reading this little item from the Pro-Football Talk page called the Rumor Mill sent chills down my spine.  Allegedly a Seattle Seahawks fan, who happened to be a restaurant employee, got into an argument with a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and later spit phlegm onto the Steeler fan’s food.  That is my greatest fear when going out to eat here in my neck of the woods.

I live in Cleveland Browns country.  Which is bad enough.  But S’s parents always buy me Steelers gear, which I love, but it is clothing that is not appreciated around here.  My only two winter weather coats are Steelers gear.  Last week when I had to go buy a new tire for the car, three employees of the store looked at my coat and said, “Yeah, we can’t sell a tire to a Steelers fan.”  To which I replied, “Oh well, I’ll just have to drive around on my Five Lombardi Trophies then.”  That’s my standard line, with changes for the situation like “I’ll just have to comfort myself with Five Lombardi Trophies,” or “That’s okay, I can just eat my Five Lombardi Trophies.” But I always worry that some idiot Browns fan is going to spit in my food.  Or worse.

Last fall I bought a Steelers license plate holder for the car.  My mother told me not to put it on the car, but I thought she was being silly.  Within two days of having the thing on the car I was pulled over for running a red light.  Here’s the thing, I am the world’s most cautious driver.  I stop dead at yellow lights.  I come to complete stops at Stop signs in the middle of the night when nobody is even looking.  I do not run red lights.  I hadn’t had a ticket or gotten into so much as a fender bender in over ten years.*  But I got a ticket that night.  And the officer pointed out that he had a difficult time seeing my plate stickers because that “thing” was covering them up.  He told me I had to remove it as soon as I got home.  My $5 Steelers license plate holder ended up costing me $150.

*I usually say knock on wood after a sentence like that.

The madness continues…

UNC only scored 68 points last night.  Do you think they feel like they only played half a game?

 When I look at my student loan bills and then watch a college basketball game, I get a little p*ssed off when guys who are getting a free education to play basketball can’t make a simple foul shot.  Which is just one of the reasons WVU lost to Xavier last night.

I only have three teams projected for the Final Four that are still, as of this morning, still in it.  I have given up hope of even coming close to “winning” any of the bracket pools I entered.

Crunchy Cons…

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading the book Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Retrun to Roots written by Rod Dreher.  I had been wanting to read the book for awhile, pretty much since he posited his thesis over at National Review Online a few years ago.  He raised a bit of a ruckus with his posit that he and others of his ilk are different from other Conservatives because they eat organic foods, wear Birkenstocks and homeschool their children.  Yeah, there were some other things in there too but I’ll get to that later.  Anyway, he seemed to be complaining that Crunchy Cons were eyed suspiciously by regular Conservatives and often faced the accusation that they were actually closet Liberals.  Naturally, most of the NRO Conservatives balked at the idea that Crunchy Cons are the truest of conservatives.

The exchanges between Dreher and Jonah Goldbergtotally sucked me in.  And it wasn’t long before Dreher turned his thesis into a full article for the print editionof National Review.  I thought it was a great article and was happy when I read that Dreher was turning the Crunchy Con idea into a book.  Of course, I had to wait for it to go into its paperback edition.  And in the course of waiting I forgot what I was waiting for.  Luckily I remembered what I wanted to read when I happened upon Crunchy Cons during one of my February book buying benders.

Crunchy Cons is an easy read.  At 264 pagesit is not especially taxing either.  Dreher’s original NRO thesis had generated responses from all over Americafrom people living the Crunchy Con lifestyle even though they hadn’t put that label on their living.  So Dreher went out and interviewed several families and he writes about them so well that I, too, felt like I had sat down at their kitchen tables and talked with them.  I was too shy at the time of the NRO unveiling of Crunchy Cons to send Rod Dreher an e-mail to tell him how much S and I identified with the Crunchy Con label.  I kind of wish I had now.

The drawback of Crunchy Cons, the book as opposed to the original thesis on NRO, is that Dreher’s fleshing out of the idea brought forth the idea that it is heavily drawn from conservative religious values.  I was not able to identify with that because I am not religious.  Yet, I share so many of the Crunchy Con values that I believe they don’t have to be so tied to religious values.  I love to eat chicken that is not pumped full of antibiotics.  It tastes better.  I support small farmsand think we should have policies that encourage them rather than dissuade them.  I love Craftsman architecture.  I think we should save our historical architecture and save our past.  I think the federal government should encourage marriage and children through tax policies.  There should not be a marriage penalty tax and child tax credits should be greater.  I want to support families and encourage them to have as many children as they have the capacity to love.  If I had children of my own, I would favor homeschooling them.  I think that Americans have the brilliance to invent alternatives to oil and coal for energy, but I favor private investment rather than government subsidies.  I think that local communities know best what their schoolsneed rather than the increased involvement of the federal government.  And, of course, I love my Birkenstocks, though I prefer to think of them as Burke-en-stocks.  These are values that Dreher embraces as Crunchy Con.  But his jumping off point is his religious values and that isn’t mine.  However, his religious values didn’t discount gays and lesbians in the Crunchy Con groupings, which was a pleasant surprise.

I did enjoy the book. I whole-heartedly recommend it.  Especially to people of the more liberalmindset so that they can “meet” conservatives who share so many of their values and concerns.  I think this book feeds the thought that there are more things that enjoin us than divide us.  I just didn’t enjoy the book as much as I wanted to.  If you can get your hands on a copy of Dreher’s National Review article, please do.  Also, if you are a fan of Cruncy Conservatism or Rod Dreher, I recommend his blog, Crunchy Con: Conservative Politics and Religion.

Soon, hopefully today, South Park Conservatives, will arrive on my doorstep via the US Postal Service.  I can’t wait to see how it measures up to Crunchy Cons.