Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What's that hanging down from the ceiling?

While most people were spending their Fourth of July Mondays blowing stuff up and grilling in their backyards, I spent the day with Mom at Lowe's where we looked at new light fixtures for the dining/living room. We found some very pretty ones. And some neat ones. But mostly we discovered that the trend in lighting involves mounting glass and metal breasts on your ceiling.

Don't believe me?
Really. Explain to me how these were not designed by a very lonely man.

We ended up picking this for the dining room (for over the table) and another smaller light I now cannot find (but it looks a lot like this one) Our selection parameter was: Pick the nicest non-breast-looking light fixtures and BUY THEM.

Mom and I went hunting for vent grate-cover thingies too. We found some we really liked, like this one. This is to go in the newly-tiled kitchen floor to replace the gaping hole in the ground that we have now. This hole has come in handy for small cereal spills, because the cereal falls inside the hole and VANISHES, never to be seen again. Which means, basically, that no one has to sweep, ever. And even if you did, the hole works better than a dustpan, right?

When I revealed that this was how the rest of the family was "unintentionally" using the hole in the floor, Mom stared at me, aghast. Then she shrugged. After all, the grate we used to have has been swallowing the odd pill and egg shell for ages. You could build a miniature city with all the Micro-Machines and toothpicks that have fallen in there throughout my life. It's best just to give up, or to buy a high-powered vacuum.

But, as with many home improvement projects, we soon discovered that we could in no way get the awesome grate cover thingy we loved.

This is because the people who built our house liked to smoke lots of crack.

You see, the vent covers you can buy, or even special order, are all on some kind of standard measuring system. So, you can get a grate cover that is 2" x 14" to cover a hole that is 2" x 14" because why make grate covers in every size when all ducts are that size, or in one of the many other standard sizes.

I think the people who built our house were waiting behind the scratch and dent truck for irregular duct work to fall off, because OUR duct is actually 2.25" x 15.75" instead of like, a NORMAL size.

I would think that standard sizing had just changed over time, except in my room, the vent is about a foot long, but the vent COVER extends across the whole of one wall, something like 6 FEET. What is underneath if not a duct, you ask? The sub floor, that's what. It makes no sense. And did I mention it can't come off? Well, it can't. We tried everything. We even went to work trying to pry it from the wall with various prying tools, only to TEAR THE METAL, while the rest of the cover remained in place. I think it might be welded together.

I wish the ducts and vents were the only strange things about the house, I really do. But they aren't. We have no idea why the people who built our house did what they did. But we are endeavoring to understand.

My mother and I have created a list of methods they used in the construction of our house, ages ago. Some were also used by whatever psychopath built my aunt's house.

How to Build a House, Farmer-Style

1. Buy really awesome wood for the frame. Because you don't want this house falling down.

2. Put the boards together with nails. But not just any nails. You should use roofing nails, because they are cheap but also super-long and long nails mean STURDY nails.

3. Buy a LOT of roofing nails, since you will be using them for everything, even to hang pictures on the walls.

4. Your house now has a frame. Hooray! Now you need to do other stuff, like putting in a floor and making walls and adding a roof. So buy the cheapest materials you can find!

5. Now that you've filled your new walls with insulation that will quickly turn to dust, wire the house with electrical wires! For LIGHTS! You know they have those in houses now. You flip a switch and it's like a candle lights itself AUTOMATICALLY. You want to live in a Rich People House, don't you?

6. Well, copper wiring is kind of expensive. Too bad you can't use roofing nails...Better save money by wiring the house yourself! So what if the random wire sticks out of the wall or ceiling! Just cap it off and no one will notice but your wife!

7. While wiring a house by yourself is, arguably, a fire hazard, fire extinguishers are for Soccer Moms and you should totally save money by not buying any.

8. Do you really need air conditioning? Really? I mean, you sweat all the time outside, so why should the sweating stop when you go INSIDE?

9. Plaster is boring. We plastered half of the house, so why should we keep this up? It's too much work. I know--we'll just buy paneling in bulk! And look, this paneling is a little different--we'll have an accent wall! Get out the roofing nails, let's get to work!

10. You know what else would be cheaper in bulk? CARPETING. So here's what we'll do, we'll buy that whole bolt of carpet that's on SALE! So what if it's the color of pea soup?

11. Wow. Did you know that carpet needs to, like, have padding underneath? Gee. I never thought of that. Hey--I know! This stuff will work! The carpet guy says it's only supposed to work for automotive purposes, but what do we care?

12. What side of the carpet padding is supposed to face up again? Oh well, it won't matter.* Get the roofing nails!

13. I've got this screen and these boards--that works for a door, right?

14. Bathrooms need carpet, too. So why don't we go back to that auto-carpet place? Let's do that.

15. You know what would be pretty right over the bathtub? A window! Let's make it a wooden frame, too. That's nice. And we don't need frosted glass, we're in the country. No one will ever want to put a shower here.

And, of course...

16. Make sure no one can ever replace those duct covers, ever.

The duct cover could not be purchased. We went online, and they just don't make duct covers that size anymore. That means we're stuck with the ancient one. Unless you guys have any ideas.

* They actually picked the wrong side. So the part that's supposed to adhere to the back of the carpet actually stuck, quite permanently, to the floor underneath the carpet. Then the bottom (now the top) of the carpet padding slowly decayed and turned to what might liberally be called sand. But it was pretty much a fine powder that would puff out of the carpet if you smacked it with something heavy. Also it would gather in places like sand dunes.


  1. See, sometimes I go for DAYS forgetting about the deliciousness that is Laura's blog. And then, when I'm having a rough day, I remember that there is cheer to be had right here. Yay!

    This is an excellent, excellent post, and I RELATE.

    You would not believe the monkey-jinks we discovered when we remodeled this house (built in 1954 by a farmer).

    It's a bummer about the grate cover.

  2. This post actually reminded me of an old one of my own:

    Just in case, you know, you're bored and Netflix has failed you yet again. :)

  3. That is a hilarious story! It's like you lived through THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DRYER! Which would make an awesome movie, if you ask me.