No doubt you're all waiting to find out what happened with the car. Or not. Whatever. Well, the car was totaled by the insurance company (meaning "this car will cost more than 80% of what we deem to be its value to repair, therefore we don't want to repair it"). So I could either take some amount of money they were offering and use it to buy another car, or I could take a lesser amount of money and they would give me the car back as salvage. I briefly considered taking the money and buying another van ( I do miss my van on occasion- generally those occasions involving 4' x 8' sheets of plywood)- that lasted all of ten minutes. The truth is, I love my car, and I wanted it back. So I took it as salvage, and the body shop is fixing it. It's still going to cost me about $600-$700 out of pocket.
Meanwhile, because one of the rooms here at the bunga-mansion is currently empty, and the selection of potential tenants is, shall we say, underwhelming, I decided that this would be the ideal time to finish finishing the floor, a project started about three tenants ago, I think. When I bought the house, this particular room had wall to wall carpeting and painted-over wallpaper. The carpeting was the first thing to go, the wallpaper was next. Under the wallpaper was the original green tinted plaster, albeit with lots of white spackle over later holes ( those have been touched up with watercolor so now it's all more or less green. The floor was covered with what appeared to be brown paint, but after a few solvent experiments, it turned out to be tinted shellac. So I started removing it with alcohol. This was fairly labor intensive, so I ended up just doing a two foot strip around the outer edges, then I covered the rest of it with an area rug. But the areas that had been stripped had no finish except some residual shellac, which wasn't very protective, especially because tenants aren't known for the gentle ways they treat other people's property. So this seemed like an opportunity to get some real finish on ALL of the floor.
Now, if I had money, I could have just called the floor people and they would have done the whole thing in two days for about $400. Or I could have rented a floor sander. However, I've seen enough softwood floors messed up by people who thought they could do it themselves- an out-of-control drum sander with 40-grit paper on it can turn a fir floor into something resembling a roller coaster in record time. So I'm doing it with an orbital sander- slow, but little danger of ruining the floor. It's taken me two days to sand about a third of it with 60-grit paper- still have to go back over it with the finer grits. The shellac gums up the sandpaper, so I've taken to scraping the majority of it off with a carbide scraper first- also a bit labor intensive. I think I'm going to finish the floor the same way I'm doing the kitchen cabinets- several layers of orange shellac with a couple coats of polyurethane on top. If it were just me here, I might dispense with the polyurethane (all the floors were originally shellacked- there's a closet downstairs that still has the original finish), but with tenants, you kinda need something that can't be immediately ruined by water or alcohol.
One other thing- only a few blog posts in and I already had my first troll! Gist of her comment: "Stop whining and write some more books." Yeah, 'cause I can just whip out a book in my prodigious free time.
Not a big fan of Home Depot, but I do love my Ridgid sander!
A new book that features my house (and me) has just been released by the Indiana University Press. It's called A Home Of Her Own,
and features the stories, and the houses, of women who have formed a deep and abiding bond with their homes. It was written by my friend Nancy Hiller, with wonderful photographs by Kendall Reeves. Nancy is a wonderful writer- she made my life story sound much better than my actual life! And I found the stories of the other women fascinating, and occasionally heart-wrenching. Nancy has a piece up at The Huffington Post
about the book:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-hiller/a-home-of-her-own_b_1025970.html
Nancy has her own blog at http://ahomeofherown.wordpress.com/
Check out the comments on the Huffington Post entry if you are amused by cluelessness.
Linoleum patterns from 1915, sold by the Frorlicht- Dunker company.
Elements of Style
myself. In the latest Rolling Stone,
he finally figures out what Occupy Wall Street is really about:
"If you think of it this way, Occupy Wall Street takes on another meaning. There's no better symbol of the gloom and psychological repression of modern America than the banking system, a huge heartless machine that attaches itself to you at an early age, and from which there is no escape. You fail to receive a few past-due notices about a $19 payment you missed on that TV you bought at Circuit City, and next thing you know a collector has filed a judgment against you for $3,000 in fees and interest. Or maybe you wake up one morning and your car is gone, legally repossessed by Vulture Inc., the debt-buying firm that bought your loan on the Internet from Chase for two cents on the dollar. This is why people hate Wall Street. They hate it because the banks have made life for ordinary people a vicious tightrope act; you slip anywhere along the way, it's 10,000 feet down into a vat of razor blades that you can never climb out of.
That, to me, is what Occupy Wall Street is addressing. People don't know exactly what they want, but as one friend of mine put it, they know one thing: FUCK THIS SHIT!
We want something different: a different life, with different values, or at least a chance
at different values."
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/how-i-stopped-worrying-and-learned-to-love-the-ows-protests-20111110#ixzz1dSxSD9Xc
Most days I feel like the mole in a game of Whack-A-Mole- every time I stick my head up somebody hits me with a mallet. Personally, I'd like to hit Lloyd Blankfein with a mallet. Actually, no- what I want is for the one-percenters to suddenly find themselves (permanently) living OUR lives- destitute, homeless, no job (or crappy job with an abusive boss), no health insurance, no hope of things getting better, no help to be found because they don't "Qualify"- not poor enough or too poor, don't fit the guidelines somehow, or the program has been de-funded.Know why I am no longer eligible for financial assistance from Kaiser? Because according to their "guidelines", I would have to have spent over $4800 on medical expenses
last year IN ORDER TO QUALIFY FOR ASSISTANCE. You see, the health insurance for which I pay $360 a month and for which I have to work four days a week for $12 an hour has a $2000 deductible, which I obviously don't have, so essentially I am paying for really expensive catastrophic insurance. But I'm pretty sure that if I could somehow afford the deductible, I wouldn't need the financial assistance. But according to Kaiser's reasoning, I would need to spend over twice the deductible in order to get help. Know why I don't qualify for food stamps or Medicaid? Because I dare to still have money in my IRA
. I want Lloyd Blankfein and all his little friends to be having that life- the one the rest of us are living.Still, there's always linoleum.
I'm a big fan of Matt Taibbi's writing- I often find myself thinking, "Damn, I wish I'd written that!" Now it's true he can be a bit over the top, but hell, I've never been exactly all
My car in the really awesone parking space I scored at the Northern California Pirate Festival.
If I wasn't so busy worrying about other stuff, I would have seen it coming. No, not the other car (though probably that too)- no, the insurance company. Because, as we all know, insurance is nothing more than legalized extortion. Yesterday they towed my car off to the body shop, and I went and picked up the rental car. Today I thought I'd look at the claim online, maybe find out how long it would take to fix the car. Now I should have known damn well they weren't going to fix the car- the car is nine years old, and it's got 100,000 miles on it. Sure enough, the estimate to fix it is $4200, so they're declaring it a total loss. Now, they haven't actually offered me anything yet, but I can guarantee that what they offer will not be $4200. I am sure they will subtract the towing (no doubt they called the most expensive place in town), then go on to subtract the previously cracked windshield, the bald tires, and the fact that it hasn't been washed in six months. (I have a gravel driveway- makes washing fairly pointless.) If you Google "total vehicle loss", like I did, you'll find out they have a million ways to screw you, and to fight them will take more time and energy than most people have. For starters, the minute they make you an offer, no matter how bad, they only have to pay for the rental car for another three days. I believe that would qualify as coercion. But not in America, where the corporations run wild and free.
Now, there are those who will say it's just a car. I expect those are the same people who would say the bunga-mansion is "just a house." Well, to me it's not just a car. It's the only NEW car I have ever owned in my entire freaking life- the only one where I got to pick the color I wanted (and I was really clear about that if nothing else- I was having the aubergine one and no other). I generally don't care about cars, viewing them mostly as a useful tool. That was until I saw my first PT Cruiser- the only car that has ever made me go, "Ooh- I want that!"
So I can see my life for the next few days/weeks: back at work at the fabric store, spending my lunch (half) hour and my breaks on the phone arguing with the insurance company. Swell. I just want them to fix my fucking car. I just want GMAC to modify my fucking mortgage. I just want my life, and the lives of everyone else in the 99%, to STOP SUCKING!
My car parked at the bunga-mansion in better days.
Okay, I swore I was gonna avoid whining. Even though I'm really good at it. I was gonna save the "my life sucks- here's why- I am the 99%" for the Tumblr page devoted to that. But that was before.
Earlier today, I was driving on the freeway, on my way to pick up my friend Josh's appliance dolly. It's good to have a friend who owns an appliance dolly. Hell, if I could afford one, I'd probably get my own. Anyway, I needed it because the basement fridge died, and I was going to pick up a used fridge I'd found on Craigslist.
So I'm motoring along, and I'm about to take the ramp that leads from 580 to 80, when I discover (too late) that some guy in a Toyota Camry has come to a dead stop on the off-ramp. Needless to say, though I slammed on the brakes- I ran into him. Pretty hard, actually- I was surprised the airbag didn't deploy. I'm fine- the guy in the Toyota is fine- and frankly, the Toyota doesn't look like it was damaged that much. But the Toyota's bumper has pretty much destroyed most of the front of my car.
I won't bore you with the gory details of having the CHP push me down the off ramp (my car would no longer start) or the two hour wait for the tow truck. But almost all I could think of while I waited was, "Shit, I can't afford this." I have car insurance- and it has a $500 deductible. I've been driving around with a cracked windshield for more than a year- I can't afford to replace it. My tires are all bald- I finally bought a used one to replace the one that got so bad you could see the steel in the steel-belted radial.
So there's a blog out there called WTF Is It Now (http://maruthecrankpot.blogspot.com/)- and that's pretty much how I feel most of the time. This is what it's like to be one minor disaster away from everything spinning completely out of control.
So I will put the $500 deductible on a credit card (and thank God I have a credit card again after bankruptcy). And thank God my sister sent me money to renew my AAA membership, which I had allowed to lapse, or God only knows what it would have cost to have the car towed.
More whining later. Linoleum now-Armstrong linoleum rugs 1919.
The bunga-mansion looks glamorous from the outside. Even parts of the inside do. Other parts, not so much. The photo shows my dining room, currently the finishing space for kitchen cabinet doors (that I haven't worked on since July, but that's a whole other story). Why am I doing this in the dining room? Because I have no garage and no basement. Why no garage? Because it was torn down in 1952, when some previous owner of the property sold off a piece of it, and someone built this really ugly apartment building on the sold-off piece. The site of my garage is now part of the apartment building's driveway.
The apartment building is about twelve feet from the north side of the house, and their front doors, living room and bedroom windows all face the side of my house. The building resembles a very long double-wide mobile home, if mobile homes were covered in beige stucco. It's a four plex. When I first moved here there were a lot of bad tenants, including a meth dealer, and one apartment I swore the landlord only rented to couples with domestic violence issues. The tenants have improved slightly in the ensuing years, thank God. It is my fervent hope that one day there will be a miracle and I will be able to buy it and tear it down, and then be able to rebuild my garage.
The garage, by the way, was built in 1906. I know this because Matteson had a "garage-warming" party, which was written up in elaborate detail in the Oakland Tribune. Until I got this latest set of archival photos, the only picture I had of the garage was the photo from the Tribune article, which was a photocopy of a microfilm of the newspaper, courtesy of the Oakland Library. Matteson was an early adopter, as we would now say- not many people had an automobile in 1906. The garage-warming party took place only a few days before the 1906 earthquake. Apparently neither the house nor the garage was much damaged, or else the damage was repaired, since they certainly looked okay in the 1910 photos.
Today I am painting a client's family room for fifteen bucks an hour. I so enjoy working seven days a week.
And, of course, the linoleum of the day.