Michael Mon May 22 01:08:11 2006|
Re: hello hello hello!
> michael's back! yay!
As back as ever, anyway. Naturally, getting into the new/old house has been more work than anticipated, starting with the carpets, which were none too young when we bought the place in 1996. Ahem. And seven years of rental had not been kind to them. But that, as they say, is why God made dumpsters.
So I called up Hoosier Disposal (yes, that's really their name, and no, you can't dispose of Hoosiers in their dumpsters, because my wife asked if corpses were OK, and the driver said no.) So I called up Hoosier Disposal, and promptly took delivery of the LARGEST dumpster I have ever seen. Two weeks later, full of carpet, two large bushes (not the Bushes I'd *like* to get rid of, just garden-variety ones), and all the crappy pasteboard furniture that my wife declared to have been depreciated sufficiently to be even more worthless than it was when we bought it, well, that dumpster doesn't look so large any more. Well, no, it still looks large. Just -- full. My dad came down to help out on the weekend and maintains that due to inexpert packing, I've left a lot of extra area unused. I told him the question wasn't really area, but volume. Ha, ha.
SO anyway, we ripped out all the carpet in the house. And damn if the whole place didn't smell better that same day. That carpet was just unbelievable. I rolled one of the carpet pads up and tried to roll it towards the dumpster, but it laid on the grass for a week in the cold rain like a dead manatee. I mean, *exactly* like what I can only assume a dead manatee on Indiana grass would look. I tried hacking it up with my machete (one of the fringe benefits of living in Puerto Rico is that you get to have a machete, it's basically mandatory) but it didn't really hack up well. I did get a lot of weirdly slimy bits of carpet pad on the lawn, sort of underscoring the whole dead-manatee paradigm, but it didn't help me get it into the dumpster. My dad finally worked out some kind of lever arrangement, because basically neither of us wanted to get our shoulders under this slimy, week-in-the-rain mass of dead-manatee-like carpet padding. So that worked out. My dad's pretty cool, even if he's fuzzy on dimensionality.
*Under* this carpet was what they call commercial tile, that same stuff they have on the floor in stores like K-Mart or someplace. And given that it's 40 years old and had carpet tack strips nailed into it around the edges, it's surprisingly OK. Mostly. The corner room and hallway, though, had tar on the tile, for some reason that (so far) no contractor in Bloomington can explain to me -- because on the tar (or tar-like adhesive substance, anyway) there was a layer of newspaper, so it wasn't intended as a glue for the carpet. It's a mystery. But the newspaper dates the whole process to September 22, 1974. A two-room apartment in Bloomington could be rented for $145 in that year. Cool.
So the commercial tile in that room and the hallway was unsalvageable, as a short experiment with solvent and a putty knife demonstrated to the satisfaction (and mild dizziness) of all participants. Fortunately the 40-year-old glue under the commercial tile now has roughly the adhesion of flour paste, and so the tiles come up rather easily with a screwdriver, and some just by picking them up. Leaving a really groovy post-industrial kind of tarry black concrete look. We took up the tiles around the edges of the other rooms, too, where the nails had shattered them, the theory being that it would be easier to keep the floor clean for our son, the kid with the allergies, remember? And so the result is sort of a commercial-tile area rug look with a groovy post-industrial edge. I'm sure it's going to start a trend. Any day now.
But no. Seriously, we're now putting down extremely cheap (28 cents a square foot!) Chinese vinyl squares. Even regular 12-foot vinyl is about 40 cents a square foot, and these things are self-adhesive (and fortunately are actually managing to adhere, always a question with self-adhesive anything in a house.) My dad says that the hundred bucks a room for vinyl would have seemed cheap if they didn't have this stuff, which came to about 35 bucks for the corner room and another 15 for the hallway. He says they should really have this stuff in the parking lot under a tarp and just send the seedy-looking customers out for it instead of having it right in the store robbing them of otherwise lucrative business. The salesperson would say, "I'll meet you out there," because he couldn't actually be seen walking out there with a customer. Ha. My dad lives in a slightly different world from me, I've noticed. It's nice to be back in Indiana.
But the stuff looks pretty darned nice. Especially compared to the tarry cement underneath it. So we have a floor for the summer.
> and you owe the kid a winter he can remember. in years to come, when he is
> raising his family in puerto rico, he will look back fondly on the
> sledding and the snowmen - and he won't remember the bad part of it at
> all. i know i don't.
Ha. He's not going to raise his family in PR. He's the one saying we should move to Japan next. No, it's my 12-year-old daughter who's wanting to stay somewhere -- anywhere, basically. She's at that social age.
I can't imagine us surviving a winter. We've slowly figured out that what the kid needs is to be outside, *all the time*. He sleeps with the window open, and he's fine -- close the window for a week, his allergies kick in, and they act on his kidneys, too. It sucks, but we're really starting to get a complete enough set of data to back it up, and at least one nephrologist (our man in San Juan) is already convinced, though at a loss as to what to do about it, if anything. We're going to consult another nephrologist (at the Pediatric Renal Clinic in Indianapolis) this week, and we'll see what they say up there. The more the merrier.
But the key is that in an Indiana winter, you can't sleep with the window open, and after four weeks of drizzly gray November indoors, the kid would be sick. That's what happened in Budapest last year, and his proteinuria got a lot worse. We returned to PR for that very reason -- and his proteinuria went right back down into the mild range. Magic.
We'll *visit* winter. Then we'll leave again. I don't see how else we can work it.
No, the *real* problem is that in PR we don't have the resources for education that we do here. The kids are in school for the last four weeks of the year and are loving it. If we could just find a place with Caribbean weather and a Bloomingtonian school and library system and university, and maybe the public transit of Budapest -- if we could find that magical place, well, maybe we could settle there. Like, I dunno, San Diego I suppose, if we had more money. We're thinking maybe Corpus Christi (rent is cheaper). We'll see.
After talking to a neighbor (of the new/old house, that is, not the moldy house), who just sold their house two doors down for $117,000, I'm really, really thinking we need to sell now before the market collapses. We paid $77,000 for this place 10 years ago and it's larger than their house, so I'm thinking we could get some tidy profit out of it right now, and we're not really emotionally tied to it, so much.
And then we could just buy an RV and live in that. What the heck, we're going to be nomads anyway, might as well just get a house we can take with us.
> (although i _do_ remember that i was too young to shovel snow :D)
God put it there, God will take it away. (Of course, I don't commute.)
I haven't actually experienced temperatures lower than the high 30's since 2004. I'm not eager to renew my acquaintance yet. But we shall see.