Home Improvement 2017

The kitchen backsplash was replaced yesterday, so there’s no gap between the countertop and the tile. Long-time readers may recall that the original backsplash was discolored wallpaper.

Now the tiles will match the counter and cupboards, although I lost my hand painted fruit tiles.

The project wasn’t without glitches. Because there are no bullnose tiles, the tiler attempted to finish the edges near the window with some fancy cutting. It would have looked great if the window were centered and outlets didn’t force him to cut away at odd angles.

Instead, the tile looked uniformly wonderful at both ends and turned into a jigsaw puzzle in the middle. I contacted the business owner and she agreed that running the tiles to the edge will look better. I’ll have to paint the edges when I repaint the windowsill and recess.

The master bath is in progress.  The broken tile, chipped sink, and rusty bathtub were eyesores.  (Not to mention baths became impossible when the switch to stop up the bath got stuck last year.) So it was an exciting project.

On Tuesday it became even more exciting because La Casa de Tontería (aka The House of Nonsense) was built by the infamous Jerkface MacGuyver.

I’ll keep you posted. (Literally.)

Jerkface MacGuyver defeated again

As long-time readers may recall, La Casa de Tontería (aka The House of Nonsense) suffers from the evil machinations of a builder known only as Jerkface MacGuyver. He’s the mastermind behind an unlicensed electrical line to the shed of doom, collapsible shelves, and other adventures in homeownership.

The toilet in the powder room wasn’t holding its alcohol water, so I bought a new toilet flapper valve for the powder room. Unfortunately, the overflow tube looked nothing like a normal tube. In fact, it had a long pointy plastic “tower” rising through the center. (For a normal view, see here and click on the image to the right.)

I returned the flapper and bought a complete replacement kit.

Baby Bro was planning a visit and our father (aka The Old Man) insisted I get his help moving the tank.   He quickly took over the project when it became clear that MacGuyver had struck again.  How? The tank had an extra hole plugged with caulk which Baby Bro easily removed.

Baby Bro took photos and sent them to The Old Man. The consultation was lengthy only because they were amazed by MacGuyver’s handiwork. (And not in an admiring way.) Honestly, is there any other licensed builder who consistently finds factory rejects and second-hand parts and says, “Oh, this will do nicely”?!?

Even the handle needed replacing because the flush lever had no holes for the pull-chain.

Happily I can reveal that the toilet flushes and fills properly. Now I am one step closer to a functioning home.


Dealing with the Budgetary Crisis

No, not Congress. La crisis presupuestaria de la Casa de Tontería. To non-Spanish speakers: Need mo’ money in da House o’ Nonsense, eh? (I added the last word so Canadian and Yooper readers would understand.)

Last week, I got one bid (and another pending) to replace the driveway and the walk. The previous neighbors had trees growing right at the edge of the drive, which heaved the concrete. The husband was reluctant to cut them down until I pointed out that they would undermine his own house’s foundation.

Since they left and the bank sold the house, the decaying roots caused the cement to tip sideways, creating a dam where the downspouts pour out.  The summer has been very dry, but marked by torrential storms that made a shallow pool between our houses. Not only was the tar-like sealant washing away, but air bubbled up when even a child on a bike crossed the drive.

The walkway problem is typical for the builder, known affectionately as Jerkface MacGuyver.  Because the backfill around the foundation wasn’t properly tamped, the soil has compacted and the concrete tipped. Now the sidewalk leading to the front step tilts toward the house. As with the driveway, it pours water toward the foundation.

I had money set aside for the Garage Plan (a three-year project so well-thought out and  thus far so well-executed, government project planners would weep over their relative incompetence. Not that I’m bragging. I’m merely stating the facts with a sneer.).  Since I envisioned a new driveway leading to the garage, I felt comfortable using funds for this masonry project. I still have time to add to the Garage Fund.

Or so I thought. Continue reading

The Heat Has Gone To My Head!

“It’s so hot and humid today,” I thought to myself after I mowed and ran errands. “I better take it easy.”

I didn’t iron – too hot. I didn’t cook – far too hot by lunch! I couldn’t focus on my self-assigned book. I turned on the fan and sat, surfing the ‘net and trying to stay cool.

“Oh, I know!” I thought suddenly.

And that’s how I came up with the bright idea of removing the shower doors by myself.* I’d like to report that it wasn’t as hard as I expected, but that would be a lie. Jerkface MacGuyver, the builder of La Casa de Tontería, employed excellent installers; too bad the doors were cheap garbage. Although the rust-encrusted caulk crumbled under a double-dose of elbow grease, the wall anchors will NOT budge.

However, I was pleasantly surprised that my klutziness didn’t interfere. Even gravity was my friend!  Once the doors fell off the wall into the tub, taking the entire top metal strip with them, it was MUCH easier to tear them individually from the lower strip.

I admit I grazed my right index and ring fingers on metal, but there’s no bleeding. So I put away the first aid kit unused.

I was quite pleased. Until I realized I desperately need a shower but there’s no curtain. Oops.

*My friend Daniel offered to help in exchange for homemade chocolate mocha cookies, but his work schedule is definitely hospitalish. Readers employed in the medical field will understand!

Losing power…


This past Saturday, high winds brought down powerlines in the neighbourhood. I was so very glad for the unseasonably warm trend, since the house cooled quickly between the time the power failed and 5 am, when I woke.

Losing power is rather common for La Casa de Tontería. Branches fall on the lines and strong winds topple poles. I expect to be left in the dark once in winter and twice in summer. The last long outage was April 2014. Continue reading

Closet shelf fix

Below is how a real man affixes a shelf. Behold! Two solid, even boards affixed to the wall after locating the studs.


This is my father’s handiwork. I asked him to help me after the catastrophic failure in the  guestroom closet. Why, you may ask? Because this is  what Jerkface MacGuyver used to support the shelf: Continue reading

Opportunity, or How to Prevent an Infestation of Middle Schoolers from Damaging the Garden

Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison

There’s a lot of opportunity in my garden right now. Raking and pruning and mulching – I’m not sure I deserve all these opportunities. There’s also the matter of moving all the cement blocks that Jerkface MacGuyver thought would make a fine way of destroying lawnmower blades and trimmer strings marking the border of the flowerbeds.

He couldn’t limit himself to just the house. He had ideas about gardening, too. When I moved into La Casa de Tontería, the flowerbeds consisted of azaleas, dandelions, thistles, and a morning-glory-like vine that strangles other plants.

Homicidal plants. It makes me happy he never built a fire pit. *shudder*

Last weekend I bought a trellis and set it perpendicular to the shed and the privacy fence.  It’s too dark there to grow anything, but that’s not its purpose. Really, it’s a middle schooler barrier.

Rumor has it that in the Old Country, adults would hear the burping farting thundering herds of middle schoolers in the distance and they’d dig huge pits to trap them. But modern zoning ordinances do not allow for such structures. Pity. Continue reading

So much for starter homes…

Architect Magazine had an interesting article about why so-called “Starter Homes” – affordable small homes for young families and singletons tired of renting – aren’t being built.

I’ve been quite happy in The House of Nonsense (aka La Casa de Tontería), owing to my training in living la vida pequeña. Not all starter homes are tiny; newlyweds can live large in 1700 square feet. As I pointed out elsewhere, small homes have been the American standard since the ’90s, contrary to the stereotype of McMansions.

So what changed? Continue reading

The Wallpaper is Dead…

…and I have conquered it.  Oh, yeah!  I only fell off the ladder once, trying to hurry down to answer the doorbell for the repairman.*  I still need to take a razor blade to cut the edges off around two cabinets, but today is a day of rest. And a day not clutching cabinets in order to avoid falling into the sink.

Next weekend, M&D Delivery (aka “mother and dad service”) will be transporting a scaffolding from Eldest Brother. Then it will be painting, painting, and possibly painting. Continue reading