Sunday, July 29, 2007

Not Quite the Sistine Chapel

The shower job has turned out to be more complicated than I expected. When I started to take out the old grout the bottom row of tiles came loose as did chunks of backing. Here are the chunks of what is either plaster or some kind of cement that came out from behind the tile. The walls in the apartment are plaster but this was applied on top, presumably to build out the wall. It may also be a thick layer of tile adhesive.

I did not take a picture of the holes at the start but here you can see some of the space left after removal. The extra build out does not extend down the side of the tub. There is just space there. I mixed the plaster extra thick so it would stay in place.

Some of the tile came away without the backing. I think the leak was less at this point so there is not as much water damage.

At this point I will just have to use the tile adhesive.

Here is the first layer of plaster. It is thick enough that it should be applied in two layers.
I tell ya, those cake decorating skills come in handy at a time like this. Not to mention my trusty offset spatula, perfect for small spaces.

After the second layer is in place I will cover it all with a thin layer of adhesive and after that has dried I can stick on the tiles. Then more drying, then grouting then still more drying and curing. So maybe by Friday I can get rid of all the plastic though in this humidity I may play it safe and wait until Sunday to take it down.

It is quite clear that the tiling job was not well done and that at some point in the not too distant future the shower wall will need to be completely re-done. But not just now. My dream would be to re-do the whole bathroom, get rid of the awful pink tile.

Friday, July 27, 2007


This morning I showered in plastic. After yesterday's debacle I went to the Home Depot. In addition to grout, grout seal and some tools I also bought a shower curtain and a plastic drop cloth. Now my shower curtains enclose the whole tub in a U shape from wall to wall and I hung the drop cloth over the tile wall. Not so much as a drop went anywhere but down the drain. But it was little odd showering in a plastic tent. I felt like I was part of some hazmat team showering off noxious chemicals. This weekend I will re-grout. If all goes well I can lose part of my tent on Wednesday.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

When it rains... pours. In this case into the apartments of my downstairs neighbors. It seems the grout in my shower needs to be replaced. I had thought on several occasions that it was looking a bit worn but I didn't realize how bad the problem had become. Until this morning when the super rang my bell and told me water was leaking into the two apartments below me. The plumber tested the tub and the shower and the toilet. Nothing. Lastly, he tossed water at the wall. That was it.

I don't know how bad the damage downstairs is. I'm hoping it just needs a little re-plastering. The super says the damage is not too bad, medium, she said. The people directly below me are not home. This will not be a nice thing to come home to. I feel very bad that my procrastination has caused these people a really annoying problem. I'm wondering if I should get them something as an apology. Nice bottle of wine maybe? I also don't know if I will be responsible for paying for the plumber and for any ceiling repair that has to be done. I will hope for the best. My horoscope predicted splendor. I'd like some right about now.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Well Done!

Many people complain about the US Postal Service. I have nothing but praise for them and the British Royal Mail. Amazon UK dispatched my copy of Harry Potter on Friday and it was in my mailbox when I got home yesterday.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Road Home

Last night a friend and I went to see Harry Potter at the Imax, the midnight showing. It was pretty good. They did a fine job of cutting in order to turn a 750 page book into a two hour and fifteen minute movie. But this is not a post about that but about what happened after.

My friend and I parted ways on the sidewalk, she going to the 1 train on Broadway and I to the A on Central Park West. At 2:30 am the A runs local so rather than go downtown to Columbus Circle I went north to 72nd. No sense backtracking. I entered the station at 70th street. When I tried to go through the turnstile I discovered my Metrocard had expired. No worries, there was a machine right there. I tried to buy a new monthly card. But the machine could not read my debit card, nor my credit card. I could have left the station and walked to the entrance at 72nd but I risked missing a train which at this time of night would be a real pain. So I used two dollars to buy a single ride. There was another woman there. We waited. About 20 minutes into the waiting a D train passed on the express track, as it should. But then 10 minutes after that an A did the same. I ran down the stairs to the downtown track to discover an A local pulling out. I climbed back up the stairs feeling very very heavy. There were some MTA workers in the station collecting the trash. I asked one of them if the A was running express uptown all night. He said he didn't know but pointed to some service posters. Indeed, the A was running express uptown. I had missed the posters because I'd had my back to them while fighting with the Metrocard machine. I did some swearing and left the station. Rather than go all the way down to 59th I went to Broadway and 66th to take the 1.

It was now 3 am. There were three others in the station. A woman with suitcases, a young man, and a young woman with her head on the man's lap. She appeared to be asleep. We waited for about 10 minutes which seemed like 3 hours during which I pleaded with any deity who would listen for a train. I didn't know that I was about to get a lesson about self-pity and about what constitutes a real problem.

When the 1 arrived it became apparent that the girl was asleep because she was really drunk. The young man half carried her into the car and they collapsed into a corner seat. Three men standing near them eyed her warily. The young man assured them that she would just pass out. He was wrong. Moments later she threw up. On the seat, on herself, and on the young man. The three men moved away and at the next station left the train after wishing the young man good luck. The rest of the train made various comments. At 3 am people are louder, more ready to engage with others. There was one group of 4 men who were particularly loud and obnoxious. At this point I began to search through my bag. I thought I had some tissues. When I found them I walked over and gave them to the young man. It was only a few, enough to wipe her face and maybe her hands which is what I told the man across from me who said that wouldn't do any good. But that's not why I gave him the tissues. It was a gesture of sympathy. Here he was, covered in vomit, unable to do anything to help the girl or himself, having to listen to the car laugh about it. I wanted to give him one tiny decent moment in all of that. They got off the train at 116th street. I wondered if they would have to pass a doorman to get home. Not a nice thought. At least the people on the train were strangers. You have to look the doorman in the face every day.

When I got on that train I'd been feeling angry. Mostly at myself for missing the information I needed to keep me from waiting 30 minutes for a train that wasn't going to stop but also at the MTA for putting the posters in the last place anyone would look as they entered the station. Especially late at night when the information is particularly needed. I had spent an extra two dollars and had to walk all over the place to get a train. I wouldn't get home until almost 4 in the morning. But now the anger was gone. All of those things were still true but I had not thrown up all over myself on the train nor had I been thrown up on by someone I was trying to take care of while being laughed at and wondering if I was going to be able to get this person all the way home. Perspective, it makes all the difference.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Night Deposit

This morning I discovered that one of the cats had brought up the biggest hairball I have ever seen. Those of you with cats know that a hairball isn't really a ball. It's a sausage shaped wad of hair and other things its best not to speculate about. This one was fully four inches long and as big around as my thumb. But the most amazing thing about this hairball was not its size but its location. It was in the tub. Now, a cat will usually cross great distances while bringing up a hairball in order to deposit it on the rug, or in the main path of traffic, or in some hidden spot where it won't be discovered until it has formed an almost permanent bond with the floor. Not this one. It was left where it would not be trod on by an unsuspecting bare foot and where it would be easy to clean up. Makes a mother proud.
I first saw the hair ball out of the corner of my eye and through my clear, though definitely not crystal, shower curtain. The first thought that popped into my slightly sleepy brain was that it was a lizard or some kind of bug. This fancy was reinforced by the fact that the mesh drain cover had been popped out as if something had crawled up out of the pipe. They do say there are alligators in the New York sewers. I peered cautiously around the curtain and saw that it was in fact a hairball. I stared at it for some time, marveling at its size and placement. Then I took some toilet paper, scooped the thing up and tossed it in the toilet. I did not take a picture first. Possibly had I scored higher on the blogging addiction quiz I would have done so so you could all enjoy the sight. As it is, you will just have to picture it in your mind's eye.
Biggest. Hairball. Ever.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Trip to the Farmers' Market

Wild Arugula Salad
It's spicier than the domestic kind.

Basil Pesto (of course)

Apricots! Aren't they pretty?

Sour Cherries
Waiting to become Sour Cherry Brandy.

Minted Cherry Tomatoes
I stole the idea from the Whole Foods salad bar.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

She Wins!

Normally I do a Wordless day on Wednesday but today I need words.

Today I am joining Karen in congratulating a nurse. In my case the nurse is my cousin Beth. She's been a nurse for some time and has recently been working toward her Master's Degree. She is planning to teach. Anyway, she applied for a scholarship from the AACN (American Association of Critical Care Nurses) and yesterday she learned that she got it! She is one of only ten people to receive the grant!

And she is doing all of this with 3 children and a husband.

Even after about 10 years of watching her do more in one day than I ever could, I am still amazed at the change in her. When she was in her teens and early twenties she screamed at spiders, didn't care about school, and didn't have much to say. Then, when we weren't looking, she became this fabulous person, interesting and capable and fun. It was there, inside her all the time, it just needed a way out.

I love her dearly and wish her all the very best on her journey.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


Some time last year the Dunkin' Donuts near me moved down the street and its former home on the corner was left empty. Recently there were signs that something was going on. I wondered what it would be. Another dollar store? Or perhaps another bank kiosk like the one that replaced the Twin Donut shop. This week the boards came down and a sign was revealed.
Cafe Espresso. I am doing my best to be positive, to believe that good coffee is coming. I (and probably many others in the neighborhood) have been longing for a good coffee place. One with comfy chairs and a forgiving attitude toward the lingerers among us. The first glimpse I've had is a little worrisome. It does not look like the sort of place in which one would relax. The location is also not the sort to encourage peaceful contemplation of the foam on a cappuccino. But I'm willing to forgo ambiance if the coffee is good and strong. So I live in hope.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


So I have to tell you about the dream I had last night because I think it is directly related to my earlier ramblings about my inability to control my own mind.

The dream begins in a stone room. I am there with one other person and we are on a mission of some kind. As we are starting on the job a bad guy comes in. He's got this electric whip thing that delivers a nasty little shock. He corners us and then a small older woman comes in and takes the whip thing. She then concentrates on me. It turns out that if the whip is held against the body it delivers a sustained shock. This is painful and I start to cry out NO repeatedly while trying to push her away. I push her back long enough to get my hands around her throat and I squeeze. She starts to back away and then to choke. It's at this moment that I wake up.

Normally I am not too quick to interpret my dreams but this was different. I woke with a certainty that I was trying to kill that part of me that is giving me grief by making me relive a bad decision or by causing me to imagine the worst. They say you need to hit bottom before you can really change. Perhaps it is also true that your need must reach it's apex before you can change. And let me tell you, I have never had a greater need than I do now.
Sing it with me... ding dong the bitch is dead...