Wednesday, August 31, 2005


We’re renovating our kitchen the old fashioned way – by calling in favors from friends and relatives, shopping for items on sale, and hoping that we don’t have the design vision of spider monkeys. It’s going well. There are several holes in the wall, the ceiling isn’t as crooked as we thought, and most of the outlets are actually wired-in. Also, half of the tile is up on the backsplash and we finally figured out how to wire the pendant light (pendant here referring to the little-known meaning from its Latin translation: fixture which is assembled by the spider monkeys who have more decorating taste than you.)

The electrical wiring in our house is like an artistic journey of expression. The wires are connected in a seemingly unpredictable pattern that can only be the work of an artist trying to articulate his confused mental state by making those who wish to run new wiring in our house equally confused. To this artist I can only say: you’ve succeeded brilliantly.

We began our journey toward a modern kitchen in the attempt to eradicate from it the fifty year-old lineoleum flooring with which the house came. We planned to rip it out and put down new flooring. We heard various comments on reconsidering the fate of this floor by people who had some kind of sad affection for old floors. Some thought it reminded them of the floors they grew up with during the Pleistocene era. There were those that found the unusual pattern of deeply impregnated stains of past generations unique and interesting. Still others thought that, like some garish old platter they saw on Antiques Roadshow, our floor must have value due to its vintage status.

When I called the Antiques Roadshow I was surprised to discover that vintage flooring is not exactly a field in which they employ an expert. It must, therefore, be an emerging field so all of you youngsters who don’t know what to do with your lives, take up antique floor valuing. You can right the wrongs of your parents and grandparents who didn’t invest in Microsoft in 1975 by lunging head-first into this sure to be lucrative field.

Anyone who is seriously considering a career in assessing antique floors can come on by my house and value my vintage floor because it’s still there under new vinyl. Although we attempted to rip it out, several hours, various scrapers and the removal of a mere two square feet later, we decided it was best to treat the floor like the lost paintings of masters and go over the top with something cheap and simple. One day when the vintage floor field is hot, our floor will be rediscovered and make bucketloads of money for whomever owns this house. This fortune might be useful in coaxing someone with both an electrician’s license and an art degree to sort out the electrical expressions to which we’ve added our unique signature.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Why Is It So Warm In Here And What Am I Doing In This Handbasket?

I love technology. It has really made my life full. My husband and I still have the same amount of obligations, mind you. we still have to cook, clean, work, and maintain the yard. Now we have amazing gadgets which allow us to do all of these tasks in less time. The offshoot of this is that they cost more money than had we done our daily chores through the time-tested methods of days of old. To get this money we have to work more, which means we have less free time which means we have to simplify tasks. Somehow, in the end, we are coming up short but, thanks to technology, we don't perceive that. That's the joy of technology -- it doesn't make your life easier, it just makes you unaware of how much easier your life isn't.

As our income has grown, so have our bills. Or is that: as our bills grow, so has our income? Now we not only need a cell phones but land line phone service, and high-speed internet (after all, we do have limited time so since we're being paid for our time, we have to pay more to conserve time). It's a vicious circle.

I have to be available to family and friends 24/7. This is especially important if a friend's car won't start in a parking lot on the other end of town while I'm in the bathroom at Target. Of course I, and the rest of the bathroom patrons, should know about this right away so I can call my husband to have him tell me "she must have flooded it" only to have her call me back as I wash my hands to tell me that it started after she waited a few minutes. Immediate access to me is important because, should I be unavailable, my friend would be required to contact less good friends who are either at home or provide a cell-phone emergency service such as I wouldn't provide in this scenario.

In our house, the technology question has become polarized around the issue of television use. Since our time is so darn valuable, we can't simply subscribe to a cable service or, for that matter, plop an antennae on the roof so we can access all of network TV and the joys it has to offer. No, since we don't subscribe to the concept of reality TV as high entertainment, we must subscribe to something. Since we work so hard we can't simply subscribe to nothing -- we deserve more, right? (Homework: see how many advertisements in various media tell you that you deserve their products.) And since that something must be diverse and interesting, it should come in the form of a home satellite.

Upon evaluating satellite TV's offerings based upon our woefully lacking standards we decided it was better. Therefore, the fee for it was slightly higher. Since we're not always ready to plunk down on the sofa and watch whatever might be on at the time, we have to record our choice of programs to watch when our ever dwindling supply of spare time gives us a few moments. Since recording TV allows us to watch shows at our leisure, we are also able to zoom past commercials and save ourselves even more time. However, the process of recording programs is fraught with difficulty, including finding a tape and programing the VCR AGAIN, so we must subscribe to TiVO. This digital recording system costs slightly more than regular satellite TV, which costs slightly more than cable, which costs slightly more than the roof antennae, which is more expensive than simply watching TV using the electricity which would have cost less had we simply chucked the whole TV idea and invested the $295 it would cost in bonds. This is all because time is valuable.

One of these days I'm going to wander off into the woods and live on bark and berries. Before I do that, maybe I should find a bark and berry harvester on ebay.