Monday, January 31, 2005


  • - there won't be dirt in the house right after its cleaned.
  • - I might be able to sleep in without fear of some workman walking in on me
  • - I'll be able to pee in peace
  • - I can close the windows and doors all day long
  • - there won't be bugs flying around constantly cause all the doors and windows were off
  • - I won't have a hit list
  • - I can put away all the cartons of stuff we've moved from room to room
  • - I can put away my "contractors book of spanish"
  • - I can actually put things in my brand new medicine chests
  • - I'll be able to find my hairbrush, electric toothbrush & all the other things that have been misplaced over the last 8 months
  • - I won't have to make 10 design/color decisions a day
  • - there won't be some snafu to write about
  • - over the rainbow.......

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Dena and I with Toby the bottlenose dolphin

Friday, January 28, 2005

A major milestone reached!

I cannot tell you how excited I am to report that as of 1/27/2005 we are showering in our own home again! I honestly thought this day would never come. I began this blog 6 months ago to vent my frustration at the seemingly insane litany of mishaps, screw-ups and SNAFUs at our home remodel. Many of you and your friends have written to tell me that this is par for the course. While my faith in humanity is shaken that still cannot lessen the joy I feel at finally showering in the comfort of my own home.
Now, if I could only get the painters out of the bathroom.......

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

There's a lot going on here

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Can anything else go wrong?

I suppose you are not supposed to ask that kind of question. I may anger the Gods. There seem to be many Gods conspiring against me, the weather god is one of them. Today was just another day at the insane house I call home. Let's see, there were 4 painters, 1 gardener, 3 plumbers (yes, again) and well, almost an ambulance.

So, this morning the anal painter, Brian says that the toilet in the guest house is backed up. If you'll recall the painters have pretty much moved in. The guest house now contains their coffee maker, water and soda stash, their toilet and wash facilities, snacks and pastries for coffee breaks. Its also their changing area. Well, to minimize the interruptions to my work day (boy is that a laugh) I call a roto rooter type service, but not Roto Rooter. After all, they were here last week working on the other drain, the "area" drain its called. For those of you uneducated in these matters, an area drain drains the backyard or what have you. Its for outside stuff. That was a $500 adventure to learn that the area drain (terra cotta, very old) is broken not 15' from where it starts.

Back to where I was, the new plumbing/rooter company arrives. I'm on a very important and expensive conference call with my life coach, and the timing couldn't be worse. It's $500 (1) to hydro flush the drain, another $250 (2) or something to put a camera down it and (3) another $600 or something to put in a proper clean out, bringing it to code and preventing future need for items 1) and 2). I was in shock after 1). I opted for 1) So on the nextel he goes calling in reinforcements. What arrives but the biggest bloody plumbers truck I've ever seen. This thing was huge. It pumps some huge volume of water and more importantly major pressure thru the pipe and cleans it out. This works almost instantly. It was a soft matter clog. (yuck, I told the painters no more tamales) Sal (plumber #1) then spots my new red pipe locator tool. This is just a large red T shaped metal rod with a pointy end an ergonomic handles used to push into the ground to hopefully hit a pipe. I suppose besides dowsing this would be how to locate pipe sans modern technology.

I could tell Sal wanted my newly acquired metal pointy thing. You see, the Roto Rooter fellows left it. I was quite happy to have a new tool so I squirreled it away. Sal wanted it. I traded him camera/video surveillance on my pipe & pipe locating for the rod. I believe they are expensive rods. He was salivating as was I. Isnt' it odd what makes two people happy? I now know where the guest house sewer drain goes and at what depth. hehe and $500 poorer, not $1,000.

As for the painters, the forecast is rain and the house is done up like a huge cocoon. Its so bizarre its almost funny. If the windows get wet the painter cannot work for a week. Self preservation I guess. Oh, right, the ambulance. Well Brian wanted to cut these 3 little stub outs from the side of the house. On these old 1920's houses there can be several of these as the power is fed from poles. These get moved along the years and old metal stubs on the side of a house remain. He's anal remember so it looks bad. They have to go. So Brian goes up the ladder with his cordless reciprocating saw and starts cutting close to the stucco. One down, two down and ZAAAAPPPPPP!!! One was hot. He got quite a jolt and the curse words were flying. There was no way to tell that there was even wires in there. I've called an electrician...........

Monday, January 24, 2005

The surreal environment that has become our backyard

Friday, January 21, 2005

7 months later, the tile in the Pink Shower is done. That doesn't mean we can use it yet.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Today is grout day people. Yes, Eric got paid for the ceiling yesterday and has enough money to buy grout. A small part of me is saying, well if I gave him $200 yesterday will he even show up today? How the hell was he going to buy grout if I hadn't given him the $ anyways?? OMG we could be doing grout today!!! There's that hope thing again. Will Dawn's hopes be dashed today or will the Gods of favor shine upon her? The shower is completely tiled and looks awesome. Each time I enter the bathroom I shiver with anticipation that soon I could shower in my own house again. Since July 6th we have not showered in our house. We've bathed mind you but not showered. Oh how I long for a home based shower. I'm so excited.

I've made a deal with the devil

Brian my anal painter has started with his crew on the house exterior. He is also responsible for painting the interior parts that have been destroyed by Gene ( my GC ). So, while reviewing the pink bathroom painting he mentioned that we should tile the ceiling of the shower. This made sense to me. Its an enclosed shower only area that gets quite misty, so ceiling and arch maintenance is an issue. This is why Eric the tile guy tiled the arch, cause the paint peels.

I approached Eric the tile guy with this new little project (fully understanding it was out of the scope of work) and he just went ballistic. Nattering on about how he only has $43 in his wallet and is living on noodles until he can finish this job. Adding a ceiling would add another day (of eating noodles) and blah, blah, blah. He says he'll have to wait til Gene gives him a few hundred dollars to continue the job. Now Gene is so busy that I never hear from him. So, I'm thinking if I pay him on the side to do the ceiling then he gets $ and I don't impede the project time wise. Its amazing how industrious Eric can be when cash money is sitting on the table... So that's my deal with the devil. Gene cannot know because paying a sub behind the contractors back is not kosher. There's a little bit more to it than I describe here, but suffice it to say that I am highly motivated to get this project done and all these people the hell out of my house!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Another fun filled day @ the house

Busy, busy, busy. Yes, how does one get any real work done? I've been asking myself that question for 2 days. Eric the tile guy is here. Brian the painter convinced me (and rightly so) to tile the ceiling of the shower for plain white tile for maintenance reasons. We have an enclosed shower so even with the exhaust fan it gets quite damp. The shower door guy was here. They measured and of course, its extra to notch around our decorative accents for the flush mount door (that means no metal strip all the way around the shower to get all moldy). Its going to be an expensive door. The bombshell today was what handle do you want on the shower door? OMG! I never even thought of this. So tonight its off to the Shower Door Doctor to figure that one out.

Also the painters are here. They are scraping and chiseling and removing windows and otherwise driving me insane. How the hell can I work with all this distraction?? I'm not complaining, at least progress is occurring. There's only been 6 guys at my house today, so I suppose its improving, yesterday was 7. You'd think we were building a mansion. How in the world do those people do it in those 7 day makeover shows? Dena says they have 150 workers and all the work is shitty. Makes sense to me.

Christmas in Los Angeles....

Monday, January 17, 2005

Remodel Update for 1/17/2005

Hard to believe its 2005, eh? Today there were 7 guys in the backyard, 3 from Roto Rooter and 4 of the painters. The painters have started on the house today. I'm so excited. It'll take them about 6 weeks to finish the external of the house and perhaps, if we're really, really, really lucky, by then the pink bathroom should be ready to paint. Because you see, Eric the tile guy didn't show up today. It's really hard to finish in any kind of timely manner when you only work Tues., Wed and Thurs. and then only from 11:00a to 3:00p.

I called Roto Rooter because of the 6" of water in the backyard last week. We have a drain back there but it wasn't draining. Jerry showed up and it was fairly obvious that while conscientious and definitely not a talker he was a little green. He managed to get his huge roto rooter end stuck somewhere in my "area pipe". That sounds a little sexual doesn't it? Hmmm...... Anyways, back to plumbing.... He had to call a supervisor and soon the street was full of Roto Rooter trucks and painter trucks. I'm not complaining, at least someone is working on the house. The pipe turns out that it is broken not 20' from where it starts in the backyard. It's a clay pipe and probably has been there since the 20's or perhaps the 1950's. It also heads toward the back fence. Why doesn't it head toward the street to drain? No one seems to know. So, we're not getting it fixed because there could be another break a little further down the line and it would be cost prohibitive to continue this game.

A busy day @ the Armstrong/Schwimmer household

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Now that's pink! I can feel the spray of that $300 shower head now...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Remodel and Rain Update

Rain, rain go away
Come again another day....

Los Angeles has had probably 15 inches of rain since Christmas. That's a lot of rain for a place that is really desert like. We've had significant water in our back yard and a big surprise yesterday was when my painter ( the most excellent and anal painter in the world ) stopped by to check on us. Now a good painter cannot paint interiors in this weather, as the paint doesn't dry properly so I suppose Brian was just out checking on his clients. He immediately ordered me to get another pump as the water around the garage was undermining the foundation. It was up the sides about 3" and inside quite a bit, too. Also he climbed onto the roof and cleaned all the neighbors rubber tree leaves from our back gutter, repaired another gutter and then moved to the front of the house.

At this point I left for Koontz Hardware in WeHo and Dena helped/watched him clean all the gutters at the front of the house then they covered the front door with plastic. Ever since we lost our front awning that front door has taken a weather beating for sure. Well, have you ever heard of a painter doing all this? And for free???? I should marry the guy!

Meanwhile at Koontz Hardware I'm buying our second pump and looking quite snazzy in my pink rain boots and yellow rain slicker ( see pix below). Then this gay fellow walks up to me and puts his hand over his mouth as only a flame can do and says, "those are the cutest boots!" hehe Hey, they were all K-mart had left!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Saturday, January 08, 2005

How one event can change your life

The end of 2004 has spawned speculation and memories from me that I haven't had in awhile. Perhaps its because I'm another year older, perhaps not, but whatever the reason, I thought I'd share a little story with all of you to begin the year of blogging.

Years ago when I was young and drinking a big gulp for breakfast I used to stop faithfully every morning at my local 7-11. During that time a young black fellow was there each morning and he would clean my windshield. In return I'd buy him a pastry for breakfast. This went on for some time and we became good "acquaintances". Each morning I'd drive off and wonder why he was there & why was he homeless.

One day, I felt we'd known each other long enough that I could ask him. He said that he used to be a cable TV installer, had an apartment and a car and life was good. One night he went to a party and elected to drive home drunk. He was caught, lost his license which meant that the cable TV company fired him. Without a license, a job, and looming DUI fines he lost his apartment. You see, in Los Angeles, it almost imperative that to work you be able to drive as public transportation is not great. He eventually lost it all and then to put the nail in the coffin so to speak, he was diagnosed with HIV. With no medical insurance it developed quickly into aids and somewhere in that downward spiral is when I met him.

Eventually he disappeared from my 7-11 and I always wonder what has become of him. I fear the worst. So to all my faithful readers, friends, family and scrapbookers I wish you all a happy, healthy, thoughtful, and prosperous New Year. And remember, every day brings change and opportunity, seize the day and enjoy life.