Tagged: home improvement

Hard Assed About Hardwoods


We moved a couple of miles to a subdivision that’s hooked into the Nextdoor website. Familiar with it? It can be really useful when you need a recommendation for a window washer, a lawn service, a plumber or just looking to form a canasta or golf group.

The other day someone asked for a recommendation for a good, honest place to buy some carpeting. She received a few good tips…and then I came across this response:

“Put in hardwood carpeting seems dated and always needs cleaning!”

My first response was, “heh..what an asshole.” My second response was, “Yeah..a big one.” You see, I’m totally mystified by what seems to be a growing devotion to cold, hard floors.

Oh, we tried. the house we moved into is all hardwood on the first level, with the exception of tile in the kitchen. Keep in mind, I grew up in a small apartment in NYC where every room was covered in wall-to-wall from the looms of Mohawk. After we got married in the early 70’s we grooved out to awesome orange shag carpeting in our first couple of places and graduated to luxurious deep-pile on thick padding.


This is a generic house..not mine


I found our new house on Zillow and despite the photos that showed wide swaths of varnished hardwood, we loved it too much to pass up. Oh, we tried to get with the current hardwood hard-on that seems to be in vogue. The first night we sat on our couch to watch TV, the thing went flying when I got up for a snack. Hmm..maybe get an area rug to avoid that next time, but we rejected that idea because come winter time, only that little bit of floor would be warm and we’d freeze our footsies padding elsewhere around the place.

Our kids are grown now, but I got to thinking about families with toddler who might launch themselves across the slick surface only to crack their noggins on a sharp corner of the furniture. Not only would the poor kid be hurt, the blood might leave a permanent stain on an end table. 


And think of poor pooch! What’s the poor thing know except its owner ignorantly might believe it can pull off a double axel. Pathetic there has to be a website with tips to keep pets from spilling their kibble on carpet-less floors.

Now we’re not totally tone deaf. We know that many people swear by the curious desire to live their lives on what amounts to small roller skating rinks so we decided to install carpet on part of the floor and leave some hardwood exposed on another where there isn’t as much traffic. So far this has served us well, although I’m sure those who totally heart hardwoods would be appalled that even one inch of precious oak is suffocating beneath a blanket of warmth and comfort. If and when we decide to sell, we’ll make it plain that if they must, the carpeting can be removed so they can enjoy a life of cold feet and chasing dustballs. Wear slippers you suggest? Oh no, you slat-faced silly! Hardwood people do NOT allow the wearing of footwear on their precious planking!

slippersWalk around in socks? Ha! You’ll fly across the room and punch a Kool-aid Kid hole right through the guest bathroom’s drywall.

The final faux issue regards upkeep. The moron who posted on Nextdoor complained that carpet “always needs cleaning.” Honestly, what doesn’t? I rather enjoy running the Hoover over my carpeting far more than slopping around with a Swiffer or mop across the boards. Then again, I’m a man and I like things you plug in that make noise.


Well, I hope the person who requested recommendations for a good carpet supplier ended up happy with her new flooring. I tip my hat to her for making the smart choice and standing her solid, stable, warm, luxurious ground against the hardwood hard asses…who are probably nursing black and blue from their latest fall.  

A home show showdown


We went to the home show yesterday. I had two main goals in mind: find a carpenter and get a free yard stick. I actually own several yard sticks procured for free at previous home shows, and my favorite is one that’s actually slightly longer than a yard but shorter than a meter. It’s really just a long, flat stick with numbers on it, but I find it useful as a straight edge and as a tool for prying gum off my driveway, knocking things off high shelves, and wiggling between the legs of annoying door-to-door salesmen.

Home shows are really not shows, but rather aisles and aisles of booths staffed by friendly sales people who would like to sell you insulation, bricks, logs with which to fashion a cabin, ventilation systems and assorted methods of renovating your bathroom and kitchen. I generally have a project in mind and seek out specific vendors, while snarfing as many free Hershey Kisses as possible from the bowls at almost every booth.

homeshow2On this day, I really just needed to find a carpenter to repair the door frame on my garage. No dice. There were booths hawking remodeling, renovations, complete construction, but not one sign that said, “no job too small.” There’s a local home improvement company whose advertising slogan actually says, “no job too big, no job too small.” But when I called them several years ago and described my job, the guy on the phone was embarrassed to say to me, “I know, I know what our slogan says, but your job is actually too small.”

homeshow3Having navigated past a half dozen or so Jacuzzi booths, home security stands and a few selling jerky and fudge, a woman came up to us handing us bags with packages of peanut butter crackers and a circular. We accepted them and dragged the little bags around till we got to the last aisle and past the stands selling “mystery sausage” and faux fake jewelry.

Frustrated at not finding someone willing to accept our modest job we decided to see what else was inside the bags of peanut butter crackers. Ha! A carpentry business! Somehow we had missed their actual booth, and no wonder. It was a guy sitting at a card table at the end of an aisle. I walked up to him and smiled. He smiled back. He said “hi young feller!” I thought, “he has no idea I got in on a senior ticket and I’m not telling.” I described my job to him and, well, he didn’t say “too small!” or “are you just busting my chops?” He handed me a business card  said they actually have one guy who does that kind of work and he usually starts those jobs in the spring.  A miracle! The power of peanut butter crackers!  Those are fine, but they give you bad breath and jeez, I really would have appreciated a yard stick. After all, who doesn’t abide by that old home show marketing slogan, “Give ‘em 36 inches, they’ll give you a smile?”

Treating “Low T” at the Home D


There are any number of reasons to cross the double-wide threshold of a home improvement store. Usually it’s because you need some sort of screw or tool or gardening implement, soil or sump pump.  Here’s the secret “Big Pharma” doesn’t want you to know: guys of a certain age go there to treat what’s politely become known as “low T,” and obtusely defined as “empty tank o’ testoterone.”

My son and I visited a mega-sized such home improvement/Low T treatment center today with absolutely no motivation other than bolstering our manhood. My son is in his 30’s, I’ve reached my 30’s….twice.

Here’s how it works. You start by pulling into the closest parking spot you can so other guys getting out of their pickup trucks think you need to be near the exit to make it easier for you to load that slab of plywood and bags of concrete. They give you that look that says, “way to go, but I’m gonna load enough crap in my pickup bed to build a subdivision.”

Up to the challenge, we walked confidently into the store and made sure the nice guy in the apron asking if we needed to be directed anywhere knew we weren’t some suburban do-it yourselfers, but actual men with actual testosterone.  “Thanks,” I say with my chest filled with pride and pizza, “I’m headin’ for the power tools and I know just where they are.” The guy is in utter awe and I feel my T levels spiking uncontrollably.

powertoolsOf course I don’t go to the power tool aisle, because my “treatment” has many phases, the next being, convincing other guys hoping for rescue from their hormonal sinking ship that I’m the master of my male vessel.  This mean touching and feeling and making up fake stuff to say within earshot of the untreatable. Here’s how it goes down. You strut up to the plumbing stuff and grab the biggest monkey wrench you can and hold it and look at it and say out loud, “Hell, I hope this giant monkey wrench is up to a master plumber like me using it, because pipes fear me when I start twisting and I can’t have my tool bending under pressure.” That gets the attention of the High T wannabees who admit immediate defeat by skulking off to the housewares department and meekly fondle storage bins. That ain’t gonna cut it, ya sissy.

screwsnailsPhase two involves impressing the apron guy watching over the screws and nails. “Help you?” he asks while his fingers are crossed deep in his apron pocket because he just wants to go on his break. “Yeah, thanks,” I say, dashing his hopes. “I need a dozen two penny nails, 14 six penny nails, 2 screws with left-hand threads and a bolt as wide as a Slim Jim.” The guy is both impressed and intimidated and calls over a supervisor who tells me they don’t carry any of those things, which is a trade secret for blowing off obnoxious customers. Even so, I’ve made my point and I’ve never felt more like a man.

The final phase is eavesdropping on another customer’s quandry and acting like you can help. Hapless guy in flannel is agonizing over whether to use a washer or O-ring and discusses such with his wife. You decide to end the guy’s pain, walk over and say, “I couldn’t help overhearing your discussion. Always, ALWAYS, go with the O-ring. You’ll be glad you did. They never fail…except maybe on the Challenger. Sad.” The guy is grateful, his wife wants to run off with you and you’re walking out the exit having spent nothing but time with more T than a scrumming rugby squad.”