Ugly Sights - Artichoke

When I told my family to check my last blog entry, they were fortuitously eating artichoke for dinner. My sister, lucky to have no Ugly Sight Receptors, was responsible for recording the appearance. And thus:

photo courtesy of Robin Schmal


Ugly Sights - An Introduction

There is an inherited trait in my family that runs down through my mother's side, that makes us queazily susceptible to Ugly Sights. My Ma and brother Mike have Ugly Sight receptors much more sensitive than my own, but I do have them nonetheless. I suppose I should attempt to define an Ugly Sight. It's not easy. Essentially, it's lots of little things, close together, usually a natural occurrence but not limited to such. What's tricky is that most little-things-close-together pass unnoticed and do not trigger the Ugly Sight receptors. Really, the only way to understand them is by example over time. But for introduction's sake, I'll list a few Ugly Sights in ascending order of offense.

striations of cooked chicken breast when cut across the grain---> gills of mushroom's underside---> cluster of bell pepper seeds---> honeycomb teeming with bees

Since this all has the tendency to make those born without Ugly Sight Receptors scratch their heads in confusion or pity, I've decided to post pictures of Ugly Sights whenever I have the opportunity and means. Contributions and suggestions are welcome and encouraged.

And without further ado:



My understanding of the current financial hubbub is limited at best. At best. I've been trying to catch the big ones in the Times, the occasional Planet Money and NPR ramblings, but I just can't get my head in the game. I think fiscal ambition is as sparse in my genetic code as raw hockey talent, military service leanings or Merengue obsession. But what I did notice tonight during Obamas p.c. on economic stimulus, is that while he's no doubt gleaning many angles from his team of advisers and analysts, he's not merely regurgitating. His speech and body language are suggestive of an active engagement in the material. It's like he wants to be President...and do what a President should do. When he firmly ended one reporter's questioning why he waited days to comment on the bonuses, Obama said "It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak." Read you loud and clear, sir. I think W. was an illiterate, too. What was most encouraging for me though, was Obama's continued pressing of the notion that energy, education and health care can simultaneously create growth fiscally and holistically for the nation. On one hand, it's a general laundry list of Democratic rhetoric, but in light of his demonstrated understanding of what his top people are bringing to the table, I hope and to some degree expect, that he's working with actionable intelligence.



I was cleaning up and putting tools and supplies away today, and tomorrow I'm going to be spending the bulk of the day trying to clean the layer of dust that is now sitting over every-single-thing in our apartment. If I had to do this over I would listen to Bec, and put up plastic, cordoning-off the construction zone. What's done is done however, so in the meantime, here are some details of the glass knobs we put on the cabinets and door. I hope my next bathroom post is the final before and after pics!



The bathroom progress over the last two days has been little loose ends - grout, installation of the light fixture, some caulk, sealing the floor tile. I thought a cute Aussie was more fun for today. Tomorrow I'm going to paint our old door and install new hinges and a new glass knob to match the cabinet knobs. A couple of paint touch-ups and quite possibly...it will be finished. Oh my goodness...



Whew. Just a little more. I finished plastering and painting the ceiling last night and was set to do a lot more finish work today, until my downstairs neighbor called from JFK having forgotten her passport. I suppose it was good practice for fastest-way-to-JFK, but I'd have rather spent that time cleaning up the floor or something. Anyway, I gave the dust a first pass and the room is coming together.

We're a little bummed about how dark and bulky the cabinet over the toilet appears, but we're thinking that once we get some towels, bathmat and chatchkis and other evidence of human activity, it won't be quite so view-commanding. Maybe.

Here's a happy accident. I cut the hex tile off at the doorway a little too short, so when I set the marble saddle (the wide piece at the threshold) there was a 3/8-1/2" gap - too wide to not look weird once grouted.

So I cut some of the glass mosaic in half and shoved 'em in that gap, and lo and behold: looks like I was planning that detail the whole time.

Stumbling to the finish line...


Same Day, Sort Of

I just finished painting the walls. I'm pretty bushed.


XXII (XXIII?) - So...Tired...Must...Press...On...

I'm so close to being done, but not yet there - it's a bit frustrating. It felt like a step backwards yesterday to cut a hole in the ceiling to install a new exhaust fan, but it needs to be done, and I'm glad Bec suggested I do it before I proceed with painting the walls.

Once the fan is in and the hole patched, I'll be able to do all the painting including the ceiling in one shot. At least opening-up the ceiling gave me a pretty cool glimpse
of the duct-work and timbers that are hidden above our dropped bathroom ceiling.

The last couple of days with a functional shower have been a wonderful if not a bit maddening preview of a return to normalcy around here! I'm going to wrap this up so I can get working and hopefully get the ceiling all taken care of this afternoon. We watched Sarah Marshall last night, which was mostly hilarious with a spotty turn towards relationship malevolence, which I do not enjoy. There was also an unexpected appearance by Paul Rudd, whom Becky has dubbed "my boyfriend". He's charming. What can I say.

...Okay, I typed the previous this morning, and since have installed the fan and am currently waiting for the first layer of plaster patch to dry before I go back to finish.


Day XX - Shower

I am about to take a shower. No ordinary shower, mind you; probably the most earned shower I will have ever taken. Becky took the inaugural this morning and came out with rave reviews. Good pressure out of the new showerparts. Spacious feeling due to the clean new tile, added light in the ceiling, the removal of intrusive shower caddy and hand-held showerhead with it's coils and such. Needless to say, I'm very excited to both enjoy my weeks of handiwork, and join the rest of the daily-bathing adult population. I'm going to go now and use this shower. I will post more later about today's work. Here we go!




pic by Becky



Paint samples before deciding on a color and here's why...

Yeesh. Guess we'll see what 7+ has to offer!


Day Sixteen - Grout

Grout! Oh baby, it's coming together. Shower soon.


Two Weeks! Two Weeks!

Today, at 2:50PM Eastern Standard Time, I placed the last wall tile in its spot. Man did that feel good. There's still a whole bunch to do before it's finished, and a couple of little tile details on the floor I need to take care of, but moving past the noise and mess of cutting and gluing tiles all day long is a huge relief.

Becky had a great idea for capping the edge of the shower tiles with quarter-rounds I bought to edge the floor. It makes the transition from tile to [what will be] painted wall more finished looking. I'm glad I went back and redid the tiles framing the soap/shampoo niche as I can now say free of hyperbole that it looks a zillion times better.

I had the end of the project clear enough in my mind that I was able to take the time to make dinner for the first time in days. Pasta with a braised short-rib ragu. It was pretty worthy.


Day Thirteen - Clog Free...sorta

Joe came this morning with his son Joe, and installed the sink, shower fixtures and straightened the toilet. It was really nice to have some parts of the final picture completed. The fixtures operate smoothly and solidly, and they're nice and shiny.

Much of my worry was relieved when Tony the sewer guy came by and unstuck the boulder I'd grown in the tub's drain. We talked about Scrubs, Friday Night Lights and Willie Randolph.

Apparently, this is the face I make when I'm stressed, hungry and eating my breakfast that I made hours ago, moments before Joe arrived to get to work. I will try and avoid that combination of circumstances and thus, this face, in the future.

I messed up the edging around the shampoo niche. It's going to set me back a bit to redo it, but after so many days of hardwork, to not set it right on account of a couple hours and dollars...anyway, I'll fix it tomorrow. I think the tiling will be done by the end of the day. I will rejoice. Sushi tonight. Yum.


Day Twelve - Still Still Tub

Mini melt-down this afternoon, slow going, but then a strong finish in the waning hours of the day. Chicken, beans and rice for dinner. We're getting verrrry close to finishing the tile...I can taste it. Literally: the tile saw spews a lot of clay dust into the room. The plumbers turned the tub problem over to a sewer guy who will be here tomorrow. That news was part of the melt-down. Tomorrow is a big day!


Days Ten & Eleven

I thought the shower would be entirely tiled by the end of today, but no. Ugh. Mike works with a diligent perfectionism that is fun to have around, and I think we should be done with the shower tomorrow. There is an obstacle though. The tub is stopped-up and filled with water from work and cleanup. I sure hope we can get someone here in the morning to free-up the drain so we can get back to work.


Day Nine - Moving Along

Mike and I spent most of the morning trying to clean and make some sense of everything outside the bathroom. Becky was coming home from Lexington with her dad and brother after lunch, so we cleaned as much as we could before then. Progress+*Neatness*=Illusions of Competence! After a quick look at what's been done so far, Dan and Josh headed back North. Mike and I tiled most of the long wall around the sink before Bec noticed that the light switchbox wasn't high enough to clear the belt-line of the tile, so we'd wind up having to cut into the tile to fit the switchplate. Blech. I moved the box up in the wall about an inch and Mike patched around it. I found it cool: that task in itself, had none of this renovation been going on, would've seemed like kind of a big deal that I'd pencil in an entire day to do, but as it is we cut the power and had that thing at proper height and the wall around it patched up in like an hour. Once again there was pizza. It was good. Tomorrow we hope to make it through most of the remaining tile and we'll all go pick up paint samples for the wall color.