Archive for May, 2011

The Third Toilet’s the Charm

May 31, 2011

The Third Toilet’s the Charm

            My son Eric and his wife Amy wanted to tile their home in a ceramic tile that looks like wood. They wanted to try it out in a small space and I was easily convinced as I had a bathroom in my cabin that was carpeted. I hate carpeting in a bathroom. We went looking for the tile. The small store that had the most samples was closed for Easter weekend. So we went to a tile store and found a few colors. I liked it. We tried to find it at the big box home improvement stores to compare price, but they didn’t carry it. Now I know why.

I measured the area of the bathroom and the living room. I was thinking big. I’d love to replace that carpet with all the pet stains with a wipeable surface.

Common sense ruled and I decided to try the bathroom. I would see if I liked it and could afford it for the living room. I went back to the place Eric had recommended and found a great pine color. I ordered it and then picked it up at a warehouse.

I went to Home Depot and got advice on what to buy for the installation. I bought some tools and Eric would buy the plywood that was needed to go under the floor.

A few days before they were coming up to do the floor; there was an article in The New York Times about installing your first tile floor. It listed many tools I hadn’t bought. So I drove up to Flagstaff and bought more items, including a new toilet. I anxiously awaited the transformation. I had the Home Depot woman load toilet #1 in the back seat of my Civic. It was a tight fit in the back seat. I had to drive around with it until Saturday morning when Eric came up and unloaded it.

Eric and Amy arrived and took a look at the bathroom. First problem: the toilet I had bought wouldn’t work because the connection in my bathroom was at the back of the toilet, not the floor. He loaded toilet #1 into his truck and we went to Home Depot to rent the tile saw, buy the plywood, and return the toilet. I learned I would have to obtain that type of toilet from a plumbing supply store. Okay, the tile had to be laid and grouted before I could reinstall the toilet, so I would have time to find the right one.

The first step was removing the carpeting. Eric took it out. He took off the old toilet. Big problem. The toilet must have had a slow leak on the inside. There was mold on the studs that had held the carpet to the floor.

Did I think to call my home warranty company? No. Did I think to call my home insurance company? No. I called the Greg, the local plumber who winterizes my cabin. Even though it was Saturday, he came over an hour later and looked at the situation. I needed to re-pipe the toilet. He cut a big hole in the drywall to cap off the line and drilled the hole in the floor for the new plumbing so Eric and Amy could know where to lay the tile.

So at three o’clock Amy and I pulled up the studs and nails that had held the carpeting in place. I am the un-handiest person ever, so they told me to read a book while they did the work. Eric cut the plywood and set it in. He laid out the tile. It looked great! They cut and pasted tile for four hours. At eight we went to dinner at The Lone Pine. It was too late to use the whining saw by the time we got home.

They went at it the next morning for another three hours and finished the job. We took back the rented saw, picked out toilet #2, and went back to the cabin to admire their work. Eric unloaded the toilet onto my front porch.

I couldn’t walk on the tile while it set. Luckily I had built a half bathroom two years ago. We used a space heater in the bathroom to bring the temperature up to the sixty-five degrees needed for the adherent to work. I just couldn’t walk on the tile for three days. That meant no showers for a few days.

The plumber said that the drywall needed to be done before he came in. I called one fellow. He was loathe to work on Mondays or any morning and wanted a bunch of money for the patch. I contacted another fellow, Randy, who quoted half the price and was able to start the Monday following the weekend when Amy and Eric would return to grout the tile.

I left the cabin to return to Scottsdale. The next weekend Eric and Amy did the grout. They put one of the portable wall heaters in the bathroom to dry the grout. By the time I came up to the cabin on Monday night, Randy had done most of the drywall job.

Tuesday morning Randy returned to do some more on the drywall patch. Greg came over and was very dismayed at my choice of toilet. He convinced me to get a better one. He and his helper loaded toilet #2 in the back seat of the Civic. Back again I went to Home Depot. I asked for someone to come out and unload the toilet. The first guy tried but stated that it wouldn’t come out because the door was not wide enough. I implored him to seek assistance. A woman came out and together they were able to wrestle toilet #2 from the back seat. I returned it and bought toilet #3, the one recommended by the plumber. It was more expensive but had received a rave review from a friend of mine who had recently installed one. It took two people to load toilet #3 in my back seat. I celebrated toilet #3 by having lunch at Oscar’s Fiesta Burro, my favorite Mexican restaurant in Flagstaff. I went home and painted the new drywall patch.

On Wednesday, the plumber re-piped and installed the new toilet. I was ready to put everything back and clear the towels off my dresser. When I tried to put the cupboard over the toilet back, I discovered a new problem: the cupboard was two inches too short for the new deluxe toilet. Rats!

I went into Flagstaff and bought a new cupboard at Bed, Bath & Beyond with an old coupon  I found in a side pocket of my car. Of course it came in a box and there was no way I could put it together. I called Randy and he agreed to do it. When it came time to affix it to the wall, there was another problem. The hardware that came with the cupboard was substandard. Randy would have to get new screws or whatever. So I still couldn’t put everything back in its place. I am not an obsessive compulsive, but I was extremely frustrated to be storing the bathroom supplies and towels in my bedroom.

And there was another problem. The toilet paper holder was no longer in the right place. I had to buy a freestanding one and that left a screw-sized hole in the wall.

I waited for another day but no Randy. I finally called him and he came over in the late afternoon and secured the cupboard. As I was trying to put the towels, etc. back I realized I hadn’t measured the width of the cupboard and it was a few inches less than the old one. I had to roll the towels to make them fit. The cute pinecone tissue paper holder was too wide for the top of the cupboard.

The only problem left was the small hole in the wall. Donna came up on Sunday to spend a few days in the pines. When we went to the small hardware department in the garden shop in Munds Park to buy drywall patch, the owner didn’t have any but suggested Colgate toothpaste. Donna worked the miracle and my bathroom is finally done.

There’s always a catch. While the plumber was underneath the house re-piping, he noticed that one of the main house supports needs to be reinforced. I’ll save that for another day.

Over the Ethical Line

May 24, 2011

Over the Ethical Line

I have only half-heartedly been searching for dates on One fellow emailed me and asked for my phone number. I gave it to him. The first time he called, I was at the beach in California with my kids. He said he would call the next day but didn’t. No big deal.

The second time he called he was surprised that I answered. He said he just wanted to leave a message that he would call later in the day. He didn’t.

The third time he called we talked for a while. We decided to meet at a Starbuck’s at Desert Ridge after I had dinner with my son and his family. I look just like the pictures that are posted on my profile, so I figured even if he didn’t we’d find each other.

That day was a busy one. Hair appointments for me and Sparky, off to the dentist to get the permanent crown, on to my writing group, and then picking up dinner at Carolina’s for the family. I was running late so I called and made the date for forty-five minutes later than it was originally scheduled.

I arrived at Starbuck’s right on time. He came up to me and he looked just like his picture, not handsome but interesting. He bought me a large iced tea and we talked. He mostly talked about his business and bringing up his daughter in a rural area so she could have ponies, peacocks, sheep, goats, dogs, cats, and horses. We both grew up in New Jersey. We laughed and I figured I would see him again, though it would be tricky as I was about to go north for the summer. He suggested we could trade services: I would write copy for his website and he would have someone lay the tile in my living room.

He walked me out to my car and kissed me. It was good. I was feeling hopeful.

Before I got in the car, he said, “You’ll probably ‘Google’ me as soon as you get home, so I want to let you know what you’ll find. Forty years ago I was involved with some fake money.” He handed me his card.

“Forty years ago is a long time,” I said brightly.

“Also, a guy I recently stopped being partners with has was blog. Don’t believe what he writes.”
“Okay,” I said.

I got in my car and drove home. This was a bit weird. I couldn’t have “Goggled” him until he gave me his card with his last name.

The next day I was leaving for a vacation in San Francisco. Waiting for the plane to board, I did “Google” him. I read about the counterfeit money case. He had failed to mention that the judgment states that my date had an extensive criminal record. So It wasn’t just a one-time thing. He was an voluntary witness (informant) for the prosecution against Giuliano. Isn’t that a mob family?

The blog was listed next, but I didn’t go there. Of interest was an appellate court opinion. The judge wrote that this fellow I had just had met was the defendant in a fraud case involving mortgages. He and a loan officer conspired to allow investors to buy rental properties without any down payment.

I lost a lot of money in the two businesses I funded for my second husband. I was uncomfortable knowing that he sometimes leaned over the ethical line. This new guy hadn’t just leaned over the line; he’d jumped to the other side.

I was going to call him to let him know there would be no second date. I decided to email instead, through All he has is my cell phone number. No last name, no address. I wrote a short note that the counterfeit money and the blog were not the reasons I would not see him. The fraud case troubled me. I wished him good luck in the future.

He emailed back a lame explanation that he was an unwitting party. I don’t think so. I will not email back or continue the conversation. Whew! Dodged that one!

Living Alone and Loving It

May 13, 2011

Living Alone and Loving It

Writing on my front porch in Munds Park

           All winter I lived in my condo in Scottsdale. My youngest son, who’s twenty-two, lived with me. I gained twenty pounds, had recurrent back problems despite monthly massages, and was stressed to the max. My son wasn’t hard to live with, it’s just that I’ve lived alone for four years and had a hard time adjusting to living with someone else. I became a helicopter parent, scrutinizing, monitoring, and nagging. This is not my usual personality. Yes, the financial burden took its toll, but I don’t think that was the key to the problem.

When I moved up to my cabin in Munds Park for the summer last week, the tension subsided. The first day I just goofed off, reading books, waiting for the cable guy, playing computer Scrabble, and taking Sparky for long walks. I can wear my pajamas until eleven in the morning, when it warmed up enough for me to take a shower. (I confess I put my sweats over my pajamas when I walk my dog at 7 a.m. but I’m quite bundled up in my scarf, jacket, and mittens.) I’ve already lost weight and can get into jeans that I couldn’t button and zip in Scottsdale.

The first few days I spoke to my son daily to check up on him. Then I was able to let go. He buzzed me today since I hadn’t phoned him for a few days. I began my interrogation and he called me on it. We started the conversation again and talked like regular people. I was able to relate to him and not try to control him.

Insight of the month:  Even though I’d like to meet a fellow with whom to share my life, I now know I could never live with him. When I live with someone else, I become another person, controlling and naggy. My usual personality is free and easy. I’ve been able to go on two week vacations with friends with no change in my personality, although one friend does have to remind me that I don’t have to check on her.

I’m hoping that my son will be in a position to move out by the time I get back to the valley in late October. The problem is he’ll have a hard time finding a roommate as all of his friends live with their parents!

Weekend at the Beach

May 11, 2011

Weekend at the Beach

I spent last weekend in Carlsbad, California with my oldest son and his family. What a treat! He did all the driving and I never realized how easy the trip can be if you’re not responsible for the driving. The grandkids, ages four and 4 months were incredibly well behaved both in the car and on land.

We stayed at my daughter-in-law’s father’s condo which is just a few blocks from the beach. The place is gorgeous and has the beach chairs, umbrellas, sand toys, etc. I had my own room and shared a bathroom with my four year old granddaughter Abby.

I couldn’t believe how well the kids behaved when we went to the outlet mall. Of course Granny Annie treated Abby to a train ride and a mini merry-go-round ride. I got to buy the baby’s first bathing suit.

            We went strawberry picking. Yummy! The bushes were so leaded with fruit it took no time at all to fill our bucket.

            The first day we went to the beach and it was nice enough to go in the water. It was so fulfilling to see my son and daughter-in-law interact with their kids. And I loved seeing him put his arms around her. There was no tension or bickering the whole weekend!

The next day was windy and cooler and I never took off my sweat pants and sweat shirt at the beach. I still managed to get sunburned on the top of my feet. Abby went swimming with her mom and they built a sand village. My son surprised us by bringing us a burger picnic.

I am so glad to have my kids in my life! This was one of the best Mother’s Day weekends ever.