Thursday, July 02, 2015

And I still can't get Nick to call me Khaleesi

After nearly six years in our house, we decided it was time for a kitchen back splash.

I'd never given any thought to a back splash. I didn't have one in my condo. I'm not overly observant, and didn't used to pay much attention to architectural details.

So it could be that the numerous apartments I'd rented over the years had one. Or maybe they didn't.

But you want a back splash, it turns out, so that when you splash things on the wall behind the sink or stove, you can wipe them right off. Like red wine, for example. Not a good splash.

Plus these back splashes, they can be pretty.

I'd never looked for tile before, so when Australian Builder took me to a tile place I was a little overwhelmed.

After 45 different attempts, I found a very pretty marble mosaic that I thought would do nicely.

They did the square footage and it turned out to cost oh, approximately 8 kabillion dollars.

At that point I actually started thinking about what I wanted. Like, about what fit our house and personality. (You'd think you'd start with that, and why do I never, ever start at the actual reasonable beginning?)

We have a Victorian house, so I started googling Victorian tile. Do you know about the Arts and Crafts Movement? I certainly didn't. But I'm now completely in love with so many designs from that era. Eventually I came across William Morris Tile.
The first thing I saw was this William De Morgan Persian dragon tile. Isn't he lovely? Or maybe she? I dunno. In any case, I now have two of him/her.

I contacted Christine, the owner/artist, who said she'd be delighted to talk tile with me.

Her original dragon set had 13. I asked if I could order 15, and she said, "Yes, but I wouldn't want you to have to do repeats. So let me consult my medieval bestiary and come up with a couple more."

She had me at Let me consult my medieval bestiary.

This is a phrase I hope to use one day.

So I bought a bunch of dragons and then set about choosing matching field tile. And then you need to choose a complimentary grout color and matching caulk (heh). So many decisions!

Christine said, "Don't pick light beige matching grout or it'll look like a summer camp project." So we picked a light silver. I think it's kind of perfect.

The project started in February with walls being ripped open and under cabinet lights being installed and then walls patched with white stuff but not actually repainted because we were going to tile in like 10 minutes!

So there was this loooong span of time in which Australian Builder was in Australia and then way too busy. And the walls were splotchy yellow and white with maybe an extra splash! or two. The situation deteriorated rapidly, is what I'm saying.

During this time, Christine made more dragons, and dangled them in front of me. Turns out I'm a sucker for a pretty dragon.

And in fact, she has so many delightful tiles that I love that I've been looking for other tiling opportunities. Eventually we're going to put these fantastical birds on a fireplace. And might we tile the sofa, for example, Nick?

Because they are just awesome and I love them so much and really, how can you have too many dragons, Betty bought me six more. Australian Builder was worried we had too many, and we'd be overwhelmed with dragons. But in the end, they all spaced well, don't you think?

We did wind up repeating two of them, which I think was perfect.

Christine very kindly gave me an extra dragon because she said that the Horus Deliciarum really ought to go with the 10-horned Apocalypse Dragon from the Lieber Floridus, and I hadn't ordered her.

There they are pictured below on either side of the switch that needs something done to the wiring, apparently. Nick said the wires got squozen when they got put back in.

India calls the one on the right of the outlet Lady Princess Dragon. Although I assume she's more of a queen.
I'm going to risk boring you by putting up the whole kitchen.
Here's the other side:
Sorry for my not-great photography skills. And hey, here's a used pan on my stove!
The flying gecko dragon on the end, uh, above the gin, is one of Nick's favorites.

In fact, we all have our favorites and when people come over, I love to hear theirs, and their reasons for it. Pretty sure I've weirded out at least one guest with my insistence on talking about them.

I love this basilisk dearly, mainly because his face reminds me of my dog Gloria's. OK, so technically they're not all dragons. They're more like fantastic beasts, I suppose.
India's favorite is the Japanese Baku, because it eats bad dreams. Christine said we needed a Baku, whether we got the tile or not. And who wouldn't want their bad dreams eaten?
A couple people suggested it sounded unusual when I told them that we were tiling our kitchen with dragons.

But I am just fine with being unusual, and I am super in love with them.

Monday, June 22, 2015

And then I'm going to go to the bakery and get me some fish

We won a weekend at a river house in Jordan's school auction, so we went out to Front Royal, VA, for Father's Day.

I have to say, the people of Front Royal were super friendly. Also, they make really good ice cream.

And hey! Now we know who won the tiny-drawer dresser!
Nick had meetings till late evening Friday, and we stopped for dinner on the way (at Wegmans, which really is a magical place). Jordan was bound and determined to ride in the shopping cart, comfort be damned.
So it was late and pitch dark by the time we were turning down the increasingly small, unlit roads to get to the house. Dark and winding tree-lined roads of my slumber party stories, where a couple goes out for a drive and they learn there's an escaped convict in the woods but the car runs out of gas...and ultimately the boyfriend winds up dead and hanging from a tree above the car, scritch scritch scritching on the roof.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep. And filled with murdery types.

Nick had to walk around back to get the key, and when he left the car he jokingly said, "Lock the doors!"

And then fell on the ground laughing when my eyes bugged out and I shrieked, "Really?!"

It took him a while to come through the front door and by that time I was ready to dial 911 but hadn't quite decided if it would be better to: 1. lock the car doors and stay to wait for the police; 2. sneak out of the car and find a large stick while my mom stay locked in with kids; or 3. drive down the road and wait for police, possibly leaving Nick for dead but definitely saving the children.

Fortunately, none of the above needed to happen.

When the sun came up through the giant and abundant windows, you could see the river across the lawn. It was really a gorgeous place. So lovely in the daylight.
As it turned out, our main nemesis was not escaped convicts but sulfur water.

They'd mentioned this and that there was a filtration system, and the water was potable. But we couldn't drink it. I couldn't rinse off in it either. I mean, yes, in the yard where it was freezing and open-air, but not in the shower.

Because I don't know if you've ever showered in sulfur water, but basically it is like standing in a box of super moist farts.

I tried for one hot second, and then decided I was likely to throw up, and it would all just be the worst combination.

What I'm saying is, I came home from the weekend unbathed. I was washed in river water.

Anyway, they had bottled water in the fridge and then the next day Nick dropped me at the grocery while the rest of them went to get gas. I got a bunch of gallons of water.  I wanted to get the huge plastic water jug things with a tap that you set on the counter, but there'd been a recall.

I asked if they knew why, but they didn't.

We'd been drinking from those big jug things out of the fridge, so I was really hoping it wasn't recalled because it was fracking water or something. Hopefully the taps were just a choking hazard or some such.

Anyway.

The woman at the checkout rang up all the gallons, and then said one of them rang up as $3.00 more than it should've been, and she was going to get customer service.

I'd already swiped my card, and there was nobody else in line, so I said, "OK, then, I'm going to run  get some wine!"

And I did run. One guy said, "Emergency?" And then saw the wine and gave me a thumbs-up.

When I got back to the register, bottle in hand, there were a couple people in line.

The woman at the front pointed to the cashier and said, "She says you're exchanging your water for wine!"

"I'm, uh? Yes!"

Friday, June 19, 2015

And when she shines she really shows you all she can...

My song recognition skills are pretty poor. And I often get song lyrics wrong. Very wrong. Even though I give them actual thought and they make sense in my mind.

You all know this about me. Big Ole Chedo Lino, don't carry me too far away. Oh, Big Ole Chedo Lino, cause it's here that I've got to stay...

There are many songs to which I do not know the lyrics, correct ones or no. But there is this narrow swath of 80s songs that I know by heart. Or anyway, I believe I know. I can even recognize most of them in the beginning, not just when they get to the chorus.

Now, I ardently embraced Duran Duran in the 1980s, and I still love the entire Rio album. I have been singing along to it for all these years.

If you came of age in the 80s you yourself may know and love the song Rio? "Her name is Rio and she dances on the sand..."

Yah. So, there's this one line that it turns out I've had dead wrong this whole time.

The song came on in the car the other day, and since I do unabashedly croon off-tune in front of my family, I was singing along all, 

"Like a bird of prey or a pretty view
But then I'm sure that you know it's just for you..."

Nick said, "What did you just say?"

"Like a bird of prey or a pretty view. But then I'm sure that you know it's just for you..."

"It's birthday. Like a birthday or a pretty view."

"Birthday makes no sense."

"It does. Birthday. Something nice. How'd you come up with bird of prey, anyway?"

"You know, bird's-eye view. Up really high...I don't know. It's what it sounds like. Are you sure?"

He was sure.

Happy bird of prey to you, is all I'm saying.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Just a wee little caulk problem

So now, after six years, we're finally installing a backsplash in our kitchen.

It's going to be amazing and I will absolutely take pictures and blog about it because we're going to have a bunch of dragons sprinkled throughout the kitchen and I'm seriously in love with them.

And speaking of dragons, Game of Thrones has killed me. Killed me dead. But that's a whole nother topic.

Because the issue at hand is caulk. (I mean, isn't it always?)

This morning we got a pallet delivered from the tile store with all the field tiles and necessary supplies. The very nice delivery guy opened the plastic to go through all the items with me before having me sign the paperwork.

So all the boxes of tile were there. The unsanded grout in the proper color. The side pieces. The...

"Hey, wait a second. Let me take a look at the caulk. It looks a little bent."

"Oh?" I said this with a straight face.

He took it out of the plastic wrap, shaking his head.  He inspected it and said, "This is no good. You'll need a new one. See this?"

The way it had been wrapped had left the top vulnerable, it seems, and so the squeezy-outy part was broken. He added, though I asked for no explanation, "I used to work with caulk."
I nodded solemnly.

He said he'd call it in once he got back in the truck and have them send me a new one. About five minutes later he called to apologize and say I'd have to report it to customer service myself. He's new to this tile delivery company.


This led me to assume the caulk company, uh, handled things differently.

He said, "Just call and tell them your caulk was broken. They'll send you one immediately."

I thanked him for his diligence and help and called the tile company. I explained my problem with the tip of my caulk and how the delivery guy said it would be unusable. I got put on hold and transferred.

The next customer service person got on the line and said, "Hi! Are you the one with the broken caulk?"

(Breathe, Lisa, breathe.)

"Yes. Everything else was perfect. Just, you know, this little caulk problem."

Couldn't resist.