Midwinter: “Goodbye Yellow-walled Room”

(tap, tap, tap) Is this thing on? Check, one, two…

Sequestered in my home office, on a cold winter Tuesday. It’s Tuesday, right? Halfway through my second day hunkered down in here, i’ve run out of easy projects and mindless busywork, and am not quite ready to tackle the hard stuff (tax prep, file purge, etc.).

So here i am.


i hope another year of navigating a global plague finds you and yours healthy and warm.

Banished to my office to stay out of the way as we start interior work on the new house. We learned last year that daisyfae gets a bit batty when the yardwork doesn’t wear her out. Since travel will be curtailed this year, we launched a series of household projects that need to be executed by pros. We will be doing some of the easier bits.

Painting is fun, and therapeutic. i honestly enjoy the prep work, and am a seasoned hand at patching walls and doing skim coating. But when you have 20′ ceilings, and a rather debilitating fear of heights, professionals are necessary. And it’s a big room…

This is the living room about midway through day 2. Mercifully, it will only be yellow for a few days longer. Normally this would have been done by a crew, but being short staffed, Mike has to do this himself. He will likely be doing all the painting, too. Suspect we’ll just adopt him before the project is over.

Sure, i could sit out in the living room, and play with my phone while Mike is working. He could throw a drop cloth over me as needed. Is there anything worse than sitting lazily in an armchair while the hired worker is toiling over a project you choose not to do?

yes. risking death on a ladder while a lazy home owner plays with her phone

Original plan was for 3 days, but expecting a week or more. He’s nice, laughs at our jokes, and has no fear of the ladder. i’ll be feeding him before the week is over.

Studley and i are both doing well. The homestead kept us happily puttering about until we put it to bed sometime in November. Ate and drank our way through the holidays. Stayed home. A lot. Just back from a visit to Alaska, spending the new year with Studley’s kids and trying not to freeze our gonads off. It was a good visit. .

Awash in first world problems, we have no complaints.

With at least the remainder of the week being sequestered in the home office, i plan to use the time to get back out and visit my blogmates. And just maybe hoark up some of the random nuggets rattling around in my winter brain.

For want of a nail…

If my latest home improvement saga was a horror movie, there would be a slow-motion bit as i noticed the dead bugs collected in the flickering fluorescent light fixture at the bottom of the stairs.  Creepy music would play as i climbed up on a chair to pull down the diffuser panel – with the intent to shake off the crispy critters, and replace the flickering tubes…

“Noooooooo!  Don’t do it!  You’ll be sorry!”

From there? You know the rest…

The diffuser panel – being over 15 years old – was a bit of a crispy critter itself.  It cracked straight through the middle when i tried to put it back in place after swapping out the fluorescent tubes.

“Ahh…”, i thought, “i can just buy a 10-pack of panels at the hardware store.  Replace the lot of them.  They’re all kinda yellowed anyway…”

A 10-pack of shiny new diffuser panels, for $80.  Standard size, 48″ x 24″.  Thinking that i could drop the back seat of the Civic and slide the box into the trunk – i was confronted with the reality that only half of the seat folded down.  And the box didn’t fit… Hence, it could not be tucked in flat – to prevent breakage – but had to be wedged in through the rear doors at an odd angle, with the hope that the gentle torque i applied wouldn’t snap the panels into useless plastic shrapnel.

The box sat in my garage for a week, as i went about other business.  Finally getting a few free moments to swap out the panels – i learned something about the word “Standard”.  A “Standard” size diffuser panel, marked ” 4′ x 2′ ” is NOT, in fact, 48″ x 24″.  Each side was short – and off the top of my head, i couldn’t figure out an easy way to rig them securely without duct tape.


The standard panels are 47.75″ x 23.75″ – while the openings in my ceiling required 48″ x 24″ panels. Who knew?  The only solution: custom panels.

Reloaded the box, torqued it, and stuffed it back into my car.  The box kept me company while driving around for a few days before i found time to return it.

Finding the sexiest most helpful lighting department manager, i learned that custom panels would cost far more than i wanted to spend.  Given that this guy was really smokin’ hot when i moved in, i’d planned to replace all of the fluorescents downstairs with can lights, i decided to check out his can lights.

Invariably, this led to a meeting with an electrician for an estimate on re-doing all of my downstairs lighting – including installation of a light for my billiards table.  This light has been resting comfortably underneath my billiards table since i bought it.  Three years ago…

“Oh, while you’re here – how much would you charge* to replace the ugly light fixture in my dining room?”

“Ya know, if i get rid of that ugly light, i will need to replace the ceiling fan/light in the great room.  How much for that?”

Followed shortly thereafter by:

“i always bang my head on the light in the kitchen.  Can you add that to the estimate?”

As i awaited the six-part labor estimate for the lighting job, i started shopping online for fixtures.  “i like that one!  What? It’s not available at this store?” Now racing about on another lunch hour to retrieve the last-remaining, discontinued ceiling fan in the city from a store across town.

“Ya know, i REALLY should go with the LED lights…”  Sure, they cost more up-front, but they last 10 years and burn a helluva lot less energy.  “$600 for sixteen of them?”

At this point?  What the fuck?  Somewhere between discovery of the non-standard diffuser panel and the bit where i decided to have the entire downstairs re-wired, it’s become a major renovation project.

Two months – and a serious divot in the check book later – there is a moral to this long-winded story:

Never clean anything in your house.  It can only cause you trouble.

Hmmm… My patio door – the one the dog knocked out?  i should probably replace the screen… and maybe the window, too…

* Circuits aren’t hard – i can do electrical work.  But the fact is, it scares the crap out of me.  When you replace a toilet, you don’t lie awake at night wondering if it will burn your house down… After i did the microwave oven installation?  i checked the batteries on my smoke detectors EVERY WEEK.  From now on? i leave the electrons to the professionals.