Sunday, September 10, 2017

Sparks and Flickers


The lights had been flickering, ever so faintly, since the day I moved into my Burbank condo.

At first, I thought I might be imagining it. I couldn't see the flickering if I looked at the lights with intent. I only saw the flicker if I was thinking of something else, looking away. 

But the exhaust fan in the downstairs bathroom didn't flicker—that was an audible surge. My ears were more reliable than my eyes. 

Perhaps there is something wrong with the fan, I thought. 

But I did nothing, because eventually I would just replace the fan. It's one of those cheap-ass loud fans people believe masks noises the human body makes in the bathroom. Sure it does, but only to the person in the bathroom, the person wishing to cling to this particular myth. I assure you, the person not in the bathroom is quite capable of distinguishing between cheap fan sounds and biological function sounds. Not because they want to. 

But the flickering seemed to get worse, and once I realized the gurgling from the fridge wasn't actually from fridge at all, but from the nearby electrical box, and it wasn't gurgling but was actually crackling from a circuit, then I became nervous.

I texted the electrician who had installed my ceiling fan and wired in my upstairs ceiling lights, but he is "contractor ghosting" me now. I assume he's busy. That's not the worst, I suppose. His first work was vastly better than the second job he did for me. I wasn't sure I should bother calling him back anyway. 

I looked up the recommended electrician on the HOA docs, called him during a break while I was wandering around Pasadena yesterday, and he said "I'll be there in an hour." I raced back to the #501 bus stop and hurried home. Ten minutes after my arrival, he showed up. 

He showed me the corrosion on the line and tested the microwave circuit. The condo has a giant beast of a built-in microwave with exhaust fan over the stove. I hate it, because it has a sensor that turns the exhaust fan on whether I like it or not. This beast is the likely culprit, with an output of 14 amps on a 15 amp max circuit. I ran it while he tested, and the beast tipped just over the scale into 15 if I ran a few other things at the same time. 

The electrician will come back and install a dedicated microwave circuit down the road, I think, or maybe I'll look for one that isn't a beast, but in the meantime, he swapped out the breaker. 

I'm pretty happy with how this all turned out. Reasonable price, service in an hour, and careful explanation. I think I just switched electricians. 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Doorway to the Past

I had been agitating BBF to help me with my old pocket door I'd salvaged from 350 8th Street pretty much since we first met a few years ago. Al H (who did some of the work on my old place) had helped me extract my pocket door, but we were sorely disappointed to learn someone over the preceding century had sliced off a third of it, presumably in order to shove the door back into the cavity and seal off the gusts that came in from behind it. (We stuffed the cavity full of insulation before sealing it up again, but left the 2/3 pocket door in the basement, until I moved, when we then left it in the garage.)

BBF was having none of it.

Where are you going to put an 8x4 pocket door? There's no room for it. And it's missing a third of the wood!

I know exactly where I'd put it. In the cavity of my house that used to have a pocket door, given the worn track on the floor. I'd dismantle the angled semi-arch someone built in the past and restore the pocket door on the edge of the parlor to what it surely was in 1900.

But BBF is the one who would have to help me drive the door back and forth to Dip 'n' Strip and then do the carpentry work, and he doesn't have that old Turbo-style "The more impossible, the more I want to try it" going on, probably because he is not Australian.

He did agree to help me carry it from the garage to my Lafayette house, where he propped it up in the tiny yard.

Then it was my problem.

I had concluded I wasn't going to get the door to Dip 'n' Strip and back. I wasn't going to convince BBF to tackle the carpentry project of restoring the door to its former glory. I wasn't going to convince him to tear out the parlor wall, build a track, insert the pocket door, and do a high-end finish.

But I also wasn't going to throw out the etched glass that survived 87 years in three of the six glass panels. I had a matching one already from when a neighbor dug it out of his door while restoring. If I had four, maybe I could use them in something eventually. At least, throwing out etched glass from the 1930s seems irresponsible. I was determined to save the glass if I couldn't save the door.

I dug around in my toolbox, eventually finding a chisel, hammer, and a gizmo theoretically used to yank up old caulk. I had that because the tub at Yancey's (my rental on Hamilton Park) had DIY tile around it, leaving all kinds of cavities for mold to grow in. I don't know how many times I recaulked there over the years of renting.

I dug into the ancient glazing putty of the 2/3 pocket door, and once I'd find the glazier's points, each side went smoothly. I managed to remove all three etched glass panes without breaking anything.

We moved the old door to the curb on Sunday night, and the trash collectors took it away. I didn't stay home to watch. I couldn't bear it.

My 4th pane was salvaged from this door at 350 8th.


Garage Clean-Out

What could be more fun than laboring over Labor Day weekend?

Saturday, BBF and I headed to the Secaucus tool rental section at you-know-where (big box place with an orange sign), picked up a pressure washer, and headed to my garage in the "Italian Village" section of JC.

To get to the spigot, I'd had to borrow a key off one of the owners of the condos above the garage. He'd sent it to me Priority Mail from Chicago. He is the same guy who gave me "wasta" back when my Kuwaiti company had a storage unit near the Manhattan Bridge.

BBF and I hooked up BBF's garden hose to the spigot, put the pressure washer together, and went to work.

This all worked surprisingly well. Take a look.


There are still oil spots. I have some electrical parts cleaner that gets the oil off easily. Spray on, wipe off with old towel, wham, no more oil. But the toxic brain-damaging odor was too much. If I do that again, I'll have to come back with a respirator.

The garage is ready for a new owner. No more car, no more stuff in the garage, and a spiffy cleaning.

This garage made my nomadic lifestyle possible from 2003 or 4 to 2017, and it's in the middle of an area exploding with real estate growth. Maybe I should hold onto it. Maybe I'll have to if it's hard to sell. How does one price a garage? Are there comps? Not in JC. But it's not a loss if I can't sell it--I can just rent it out then, and cling to my past a little longer.



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Larry the Lamp

Larry the Lamp's Travelogue:

I am a lamp. My name is Larry.

I lived in an antique store in Manhattan until a colleague of Marie's found me and took me home. David later relocated me to North Hollywood when the office moved to Burbank, where I lived until David gave me to Marie in Hollywood. He was leaving, going home to Miami.

In Hollywood, I lived in a vintage building until Marie moved me to Burbank. But her home there was not vintage—it was built in 1987.

I was sad in Burbank surrounded by short ceilings and textured orange peel walls.

Then one day I was sent to Jersey City in two boxes! I took a ride on an airplane and was put on a truck to an 1895 row house with a bay window. Marie will show up soon to reassemble me and BBF will rewire me properly.

I will be much happier in an 1895 house than in a 1987 apartment.

I've had quite a few electric adventures for a lamp, and those are just the ones we know about.








Monday, August 21, 2017

Project Solar Eclipse Here

The eclipse made me seasick for the rest of the day.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Maybe I Should Have Just Paid Someone...

I spent too much time today sewing this textile to a matte and then putting the DIY frame together.

I bought several of these at a market in Brazzaville. Some of you might remember. This and the smaller items went home in a tiny box from the Brazzaville post office, where a pygmy named Benson chatted me up. The wooden TinTin sculptures went with me to Zambia, with its reliable postal system, but I had a big fight at Customs about them when the officials in Kinshasa claimed they were antiques.

I wasn't totally surprised--I'd had this happen in Ethiopia in 2001, but there, I just had to get some paperwork filled out. In Kinshasa, the only way through was by bribe or sheer stubbornness. I chose the latter (actually, the latter chose me when I lost my temper) and refused to move until they finally gave up. I also did a lot of arguing. That was fun. Never argue with officials with guns in airports, unless you are pretty sure you can get away with it.

I didn't expect to still own this Congolese textile six years later--I meant to send it to someone in my souvenir program, but somehow I did not.

I have one like this already in Jersey City. But that one I bought in Nairobi--this is the real thing, Congolese, bought in Republic of Congo.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Small Luxury

You know how you add something small to your life and later you wonder why you didn't do it sooner? Like a mat in front of the sink, to stand on while washing dishes. Or a doormat next to the bed, so you always get the dust off your bare feet right before bed (admittedly, this wasn't a big problem back East). Or changing sugary peanut butter for the real thing and wondering what took you so long.

Well, I recently decided I was tired of using a big colander for my morning berries. I went on Etsy and found this small berry bowl. Profits went to a foster care advocacy agency and my berries are housed in just the right bowl, so all is well in Burbank for now.



Thursday, August 03, 2017

Dinner with Friends

I don't have many favorite things. Maybe reacting to problem after problem on the road in a remote part of a foreign country. Or sitting on a curb in Bangkok eating pad thai after a Thai massage.

My most favorite thing is enjoying a meal with friends who are smart and interesting. I got to do that last night in DTLA, and it's so rare for me to get around to this these days. A great reminder of how I prefer to spend my time.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Food from a Truck (Daily)

No, it hadn't ever occurred to me either. And I love to complain about having only food truck options for lunch daily here in Burbank.

But this turned out to be delicious.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Squirrel!

Today I am wearing a shortish skirt with squirrels on it.

It's hot out and I read somewhere that people my age don't really age anymore, so I can wear all the squirrels I want. You should too.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

On Suddenly Understanding Selfies

Traveling alone and not taking photos of myself never seemed to be a problem to me, until I was asked for a photo of me in a specific shirt. I've written a recommendation for one of my favorite independent designers, for her website, but you know what I don't have? 

Photos of me overseas actually wearing the clothes she designed. 

I do, however, have a lot of photos of my feet, and occasionally, my hands. 



Thursday, July 06, 2017

Call It Homage. Bus Homage.

Finally, a bus you can sleep on! How novel!

Only...not to rain on anyone's parade, but this has been going on in China for years. I spotted my first sleeper bus in 2001, and I'm sure they'd been around a long time before I first saw one.

I actually took one in 2011. Comfy. 

I know we love to steal ideas and give them their own personal outlets and lamps, but...god, we're just ridiculous.

Will I be taking a sleeper bus? No, I'll stick with Spirit out of Burbank Airport, because I like a nice shower in the morning mixed with my cheap fare, but it's good we're finally beginning to catch up to China.










Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Slight Exaggeration

The trains must've gone faster in the late 1800s.


Tuesday, July 04, 2017

A Step Up

I got some photos of the completed new stoop yesterday. It looks so great! Plus, now I can get mail for my own little downstairs studio instead of it all going into the mail slot on the main door.

I wish I could go to Jersey City and sit on it for a while. I could sit and contemplate just how far I plan to go with renovating this 1895 row house on Breadalbane Terrace.




Saturday, July 01, 2017

Breadalbane Terrace

I stumbled over this while searching for info on why my house is on Breadalbane Terrace in Lafayette, Jersey City.

The fellow on the left was descended from the Scottish Highlander Breadalbane branch of the Campbell Clan. He was a huge figure in the development of the Lafayette area.

Which might explain why my house says BREADALBANE on the side of it, but what I don't know is why the carving is in perfect shape and if it was restored to match exactly what was there before. I assume so, but I'm going to need to do some more digging.



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Remote Repairs

I have a new stoop!

Well, not completely new. More rebuilt than new. I haven't actually seen it yet, and might not see it until September given how high airfares are in the summer. Maybe if I weren't so busy spending all my money on fixing up my old house in JC and my new condo in Burbank, I'd be able to spend the money for airfare, but then there'd be no stoop to check out. Perplexing.

I'm told the old railings are back up and the steel grate over the downstairs entrance is back, along with the gate. I'm hoping the guys hung the new mailboxes I bought, and if they actually left the keys to the new mailboxes somewhere useful, that would be good too.

Jetco also fixed two spots where the stucco was cracking. They're the same guys who redid the stucco on the back of the house last year, and they've been nothing but charming and thorough. I initially had a hard time getting them on the phone, but once winter kicked in, it became easy. Of course, now I have their direct email address, so getting in touch is a cinch.

The best part about the new stoop is the kids who inhabit my house (I rent it out to a family, you didn't think I let it sit empty, did you?) love to sit on the stoop. And now they have an extra-special stoop for sitting. And stooping, I guess.




Monday, June 26, 2017

Stand In

I clicked on a link to learn more about what Basic Economy fare is on United. I guess it's just using your under-seat space instead of an overhead bin, but what I really wanted to know is what having silver status means for Basic Economy.

I didn't figure that part out from watching the United video, but I did see an actor strolling down a street in "New York City." And I had to laugh. That's not NYC. That's Eighth Street between Coles and Monmouth, in Jersey City, right up from Hamilton Park.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dark Skies and Giant Serpents

Three-and-a-half hours from Los Angeles, there's a town completely surrounded by a California state park.

Borrego Springs is a Dark Sky Community, which means it's a good place to look at the night sky. I dunno...I don't mean to be a skeptic, but I'm pretty sure I've spent nights out in national parks in Uganda and Zimbabwe where I could see a lot less light. Or in Turbo's yard out in the middle of nowhere, Australia. But I applaud the effort, and I didn't happen to carry a giant telescope with me out into any of those places without cities nearby, but there are telescope options in Borrego Springs, so off I went in a rental car from Burbank Airport.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Bit Warm Here

I drove up over the hill from the coast, winding down the mountain roads to Anzo-Borrego State Park.

No wonder all the campgrounds shut at the end of May.


En Route to the Desert

I read about seeing the Milky Way out in the desert, and the best place for it in this part of the country turns out to be the same place as some tremendous iron sculptures. I booked a rental car and a hotel room.

After driving my rental car an hour and a half into the desert, I pulled over at an outlet mall I'd never heard of.

At least half the storefronts were empty and shuttered. I went into a few shoe stores. The only customers in the whole mall were in the brew pub, the plus size shop, or in Hot Topic.

I got back in the car and drove on into the desert. I glanced in the rear view mirror.

There was no outlet mall. Just a shimmering haze.

I'd just time traveled into the future of American retail.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Conflicted

The longer I work at a day job, the harder it is to remember my life pre-routine. Well, not remember, exactly. More like inhabit my identity. I recall the mechanics of it just fine—traipsing around the world with my laptop, researching where to find hotels or coffee shops with the best wifi. My office was my immediate line-of-sight. This I know intellectually. I just don't feel like that person at the moment.

I put little reminders of the other me up on my walls, both in Burbank and Jersey City. One of my Otomi textiles from my extended stay in San Miguel de Allende is too big for anywhere I live right now, and so it is in a box in storage, but the other one is tall and thin—perfect for my Burbank condo.

How to hang it was trickier, and I struggled with options, finally deciding I needed to go downtown to the mega-crafts store in DTLA. It's a bit like a low-rent super-Michael's, and I reasoned it might have a tapestry hanger. I caught the #222 bus over the hill to Hollywood and Argyle—which is, according to Metro signs, Hollywood and Vine—and took the Red Line down to Pershing Square.

After lunch at my favorite crepe place, I walked over to the crafts shop.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hitting Home

Today's baseball field shooting took place where I grew up.

I don't mean in the same town (Alexandria) or the same neighborhood (Del Ray). I mean it was 3/4 of a block away from the row house I lived in from when I was four years old to when I went off to college.

I played in that field. The neighbor kids and I sang Monkees songs (we loved the TV repeats of the show) while swinging on the swingsets next to that field. I used to go to the YMCA across the parking lot. It's where I learned to swim as an after-school latchkey kid. (Not very well. I had to relearn in college.) We would take our dog for walks in that field. A small plane once crashed into that field. I slept through it, which is how I learned I am a skilled sleeper.

I broke my left arm on the monkey bars at that baseball park. My dad went to a turkey shoot and the neighbor took me and my mother to the hospital. We didn't think it was broken, because I could still move my fingers. Of course, we weren't exactly medical professionals. Lots of people can still move their fingers when they have a fracture or break. What did we know? We didn't have online reference yet.

My mother was mugged walking along that baseball field, and another time, my sister and mother were ambushed by drunk rednecks there (not coincidentally, the drunk rednecks were our next-door neighbors).

I have conflicted emotions about the area, since my childhood wasn't exactly idyllic, and I associate that area with a lot I'd prefer to forget, even as I strive to remember elusive but important traumatic moments.

I understand the area is gentrified and a lot safer now than it was then, but I guess it didn't feel that way today.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Bit More Like Home

Home is still an 1895 row house in Lafayette, Jersey City, but I'm trying to make my Burbank condo a little more personalized.

Here is today's addition. Three plates I bought in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in 2001, on the original MariesWorldTour.  I probably sent the plates home from Zambia, then I would've had Kraiger help me hang them at 350 Eighth Street before packing them into storage while I was off in Cairo, then unpacking into my rental on Hamilton Park, and packing up again in May 2015, leaving them in my First Street garage until a few weeks ago.

They didn't fit into my mini-kitchen in my Lafayette studio, but they fit just right here in Burbank. And they remind me that once upon a time, I did more with my life than work all the time.


Saturday, June 10, 2017

On Location

I've been meaning to go to the Batcave since I first realized it was here, just a few minutes away in the Hollywood Hills, but I didn't get around to it until today.

Adam West was 88 years old--he lived a long life. Today we acknowledge his passing not because we're surprised at the death of an 88-year-old, and not solely because another part of our childhoods has moved on. (Most of us watched Batman in repeats, anyway.)

We mention it because of his iconic status in the industry many of us live and work in, our brushes with celebrity, standing next to him at functions, in elevators, at bars. My own Adam West story is pretty brief--he gave out a Harvey Award at a Dallas convention in 1993, and I presented for Marvel either right before him or right after him. I've forgotten, but we did shake hands.


Today signals an end to us accumulating silly stories about Adam West interactions and near-misses, so I headed up to Bronson Caves because today was not just as good a day as any, but a better day than most.

I caught the #222 bus over the hill to Hollywood, disembarking at Yucca and Vine. I walked up to Argyle and Franklin, where the DASH Hollywood was driving by, so I jumped on that to Franklin and Bronson, where I stopped by the Oaks for a quick lunch. I tried getting a Lyft up to the trailhead, but my phone reported a five-minute wait, so I just walked the 1.4 miles to the fire road to Bronson Caves.

Once you get to the trailhead, it's pretty much the world's easiest hike up to the caves. I could've done without walking back to Franklin, but I couldn't get a signal in Griffith Park. Oh well, walking is good for me, plus there's a decent Gelson's at Franklin and Bronson, so I picked up a few things on my way back to the #222 stop to go back over the hill to Burbank.

Look at this list of productions shot at the Batcave. It's tremendous, including even on of my favorite films, The Searchers. Even Little House on the Prairie ended up here.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Time Travel

The Other Marie was in town last week--I was back East for most of it (at BookExpo, formerly BEA), but I returned to spend some time with her before she flew home.

She'd rented an apartment in DTLA. It had two beds, so I stayed with her instead of dragging her back and forth to Burbank.

We went to LA Confidential at the Orpheum, wandered the streets where I had sublet when I first arrived in Los Angeles, ate at the Nickel Diner, and enjoyed briefly feeling like we had other lives.

"Downtown is so much like our old neighborhood," Marie marveled, referring to our Avenue B places back in the nineties. (There's even a Two Boots, which was a thing before it was a thing.)

On Sunday morning, we walked to the metro. We were heading to Culver City to meet our friend Steve—formerly of East 10th Street in Manhattan, among other places.

Two men approached us, walking the other way.

They glanced over.

"The ladies of 7th Street are pretty," said one.

The comment hung in the air, as we thought about the old days in the East Village, when men said strange things and young women (which we were then) smiled nervously or looked the other way.

"Yeah, but a lot of them are hookers," said the other, as he looked us up and down.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Small Victories

BBF sometimes gets pretty tired of me saying "Let's fix this today." Most people relax by watching television, I guess.

Here's what I made him do with me today. We fetched Burmese puppets from my garage, went to the DIY store and found some anchors, and put these up in my little JC studio.

I love my Burmese puppets. 


Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bike to Work Day

Burbank hosted its annual Bike and Walk to Work Day today. For me, that's just "going to work," but one of the three pit stops was in front of my office building, so I stopped in and browsed the public information tables set up by the police department, fire department, cycle advocacy groups, local hospital, and public transit info center.

I politely took flyers about buses I already know well, entered the drawing for a folding bike, and got some good swag--a little light clip for bike handlebars and a flashing reflector.

Then, at the far end of the gallery of tents, I saw a row of used bicycles.

A local nonprofit called Burbank Bike Angels had set these bikes up, and was accepting donations in exchange for them.

I studied the bikes carefully--a men's Specialized, several Schwinn bikes, lots of one-speeds.

There's a bike parking area in my new building's parking garage, but I'd barely ever ridden the last bike I'd had and was unlikely to ride one here. There aren't many bike lanes and this is car country.

"How much are the bikes?" I asked.

"Whatever you donate," was the response.

I took a flyer and went upstairs, where I spoke to one of the other group editors who had bought a bike six months ago and then never used it.

"That's exactly what would happen to me," I said.

But about five minutes later, I changed my mind, went downstairs, and gave the sixty dollars I had in my pocket over in exchange for a purple Schwinn.

I parked it on the bike rack in the office garage, and it was still there at the end of the day. Only now it had a note admonishing me to buy a lock. Ha. Okay. Thanks, anonymous person.

I rode the bike home at twilight down back streets, balancing on my inappropriately tall clogs while trying to stop my handbag from sliding down onto the handlebars.

Here is Red the purple bike, currently residing in my living room while awaiting a lock. I don't know how long I'll manage to keep this until it is stolen even WITH a lock, but at least I know where to get a new one for cheap.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Don't Ask Unless You Really Want an Answer

I sometimes get carried away with instructions.

In my defense, the electrician did ask where I wanted the lights to go.


Sunday, May 07, 2017

Draw, Write, Color, and Edit Like a Girl

I wondered if maybe I was too heartbroken to ever post again after giving up my 1990 Ford Taurus.

But then I picked up Yancey at Burbank Bob Hope Airport yesterday morning, drove him around to signings for Free Comic Book Day, and now I feel a little better.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Farewell Old Friend

My car, Henry the Ford Taurus (1990), was running perfectly on the 15th anniversary of my acquisition of him.

I picked him up from my Jersey City garage late last night, directly from Newark Airport. I cleaned out my stuff this morning. Rocks Turbo dragged up from the bottom of canyons as we drove across the US in 2002. An old Haynes manual. The peace sign air freshener my sister left in the car in...2004? 2005? My E-Z Pass. Half a wooden kookaburra keychain. Fuzzy dice.

My car was waiting on Mr. Recycler to come and take him away to be smashed into steel. People said "Why don't you give him to someone," but it's worrying to hand off a 27-year-old car. Who would trust it? Others said "Why don't you donate it?" But you can only get Blue Book value on the donation, not even enough to worry about. The rear bumper alone could be sold for twice what the car is worth. Whatever...I didn't have time to fuss around, so I sold it outright to a recycling company.

I've had this car since April 23, 2002, and I bought it because it's a Taurus and I'm a Taurus, and buying a used car is such a crapshoot, you may as well use the zodiac.

The Aussie ex and I drove this car from Torrance to the East Village, and I've had it ever since. Henry the Ford stayed in my garage while I was in Kuwait, Egypt, Australia, Uganda, and spending ten months on the bus around the world. He went tent camping all over the US and visited every campground in NJ and VA for two separate books. I'd slept in the backseat a few times when I'd gotten too tired to keep driving.

I almost called the recycling company to cancel about 20 times. My car represents eras of my life. But then I'd remind myself that NJ insurance is $150 a month, and that's money I am spending to garage my car in Jersey City even though I live in California at the moment. I'd thought I'd drive it to LA, but after 23 months of living car-free, I knew I didn't need to spend a week driving 8-10 hours a day to get the car out West.

I felt guilty as hell for recycling him, and I kept reminding myself this is a hunk of steel, not a living being. But I didn't entirely believe it.


Thursday, April 06, 2017

New Bamboo

Here are my new floors!

Getting them was crazy expensive, way beyond anything I had to pay back home just for refinishing hundred-year-old heart pine floors. If I had to do it again, I'd just go to Lumber Liquidators, get what's on sale and unlikely to last that long, and buy a table saw. How hard can it be? They can snap together if you buy the right kind.

I hired a professional off Yelp. It took me a few weeks to get there. I got an estimate from him initially and it was far too expensive, so I asked a guy working on a floor in a different unit in my complex. He was way more reasonable as he wasn't a company but rather the guy who did the actual work, but as I dug in and learned I needed to provide documentation including insurance to my HOA, and realized I couldn't take delivery of the floor personally without hiring some guys who stand near Home Depot looking for day labor, I came around to seeing the value of paying someone to run the whole thing. This isn't like when I worked at home. I can't hang around the house all day when managing a group in a deadline industry.

And the professional didn't do the work. His guys did the work. And he kept texting me "We" are doing this or that, and what he meant was "They" but I went along with it, because it seemed important to him that I believe he was somehow doing the actual work. He also asked me for a Yelp review at the end, as does everyone for everything now. I guess money isn't enough anymore.

He was incredibly keen to get paid--I can only imagine he's been stiffed in the past. Anyway, it made me nervous, like "What is he trying to hide about this floor?"

I liked the other guy a lot, but we had a communication issue. He texted me to call S&S Flooring for prices, because he couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak Spanish. That led me to a break-of-day trip to S&S Flooring on the LA side of the mountain, but that wasn't particularly promising, so I called the Valley one. The Valley one had a close-out of solid, real 5/8" bamboo (not the kind where it's on top of plywood or particle board) for $3.19 a square foot, so I jumped on that. Even the floor guy was surprised when the flooring showed up. I did real good.

Of course, I didn't really want bamboo. I'm worried about the fumes and I'd rather have proper hardwood, but a sale's a sale, and I have no plans to stay on this coast any longer than I have to, so bamboo it is.

The slate tile in the kitchen and dining area