Green Room

We have a 3 bedrooms on the second floor.  The green room was one of my favorites because of the bay window.

See the ugly yellow floor?

Yellow carpet

Unfortunately, it also had mustard colored shag carpet and forest green wallpaper from floor to ceiling.  Put that together with the track lighting and the general feel of the room was… it had a nice personality.  Lots of potential.

I apologize that there are few decent pictures of the room in its Before state.

We spent much of September and October pulling up the carpet and scraping the layers of gunk off the wood floor underneath.  It appears that after the wide-plank fir floors were laid down and varnished, the room went through a few phases.  There was a gray-painted-floor phase, a brown-floor phase, a sort of putty-colored phase, a black-foam-backed-glue-on-carpet phase, and finally a yellow shag phase.  We were left to scrape off the layer of crumbly black foam, glue, paint and varnish.

It sucked.  There is very little on the internets about how to deal with the worst part of the job, which is removing the black foam and glue.  It turns out the only real way to deal with it is to scrape the stuff off by hand with a paint scraper.  One needs to lean on the scraper with one hand and pull with the other.  It is important to wear a respirator during this part of the job, as the lead content in the floor paint is verifiably toxic.


The scraping phase took weeks.  Weeks.  Hours and hours.  Zach worked on them, I worked on them, Andy worked on them, Bruce the painter worked on them. But most of all, Zach worked on them.

When the floors were naked they were unrecognizable.  Obviously old and abused in some areas, they were on the

whole, quite nice.

Much, much better

Zach Sanding

The Drum-sander Waltz

This was under the nasty green wallpaper

So shiny you shouldnt wear skirts on it.

The painting begins.

Gratitude Part 2

Sorry for leaving people hanging with me and Jasper on the side of the road in Owatonna.

It was below zero and windy.  I had not followed my cardinal rule; I hadn’t dressed warmly enough to walk more than a block or two.  The girl and her mom who came up the dirt road were headed for the exact photo shoot we had been trying to get to. A young (tweenish)  Asian girl and her mom missed the same turn we missed. They asked us for help. I asked if they could possibly give us a ride to the shoot. We would use our magical phone device to get them to the destination and they’d use their magical unstuck car to get us there.  They agreed.  Turns out, the turn we missed is very easy to miss.

As we pulled away from where my car was, I realized I had no understanding of how to describe the location. I didn’t know the street number or anything. I looked back at the name of the street  and hoped that would be enough to direct the tow truck I eventually would have to call to the car. Jasper and I sat in the back seat and Jasper became the navigator with the magical phone. Between that and the jade figurine on the dashboard, we made it to the location, just a titch late.

When we arrived, the “handler” (I’m sure she has a nicer title) had us all pull out the clothing we had brought. They made it clear that they wanted a “clean-cut and sporty” look, with asking us to bring shorts, t-shirs and white ankle socks. We got to fixing Jasper’s hair and changing into the outfit she recommended. She didn’t look to happy.  There were a 5 kids and 5 parents waiting in the lobby, changing and making their hair generic (high ponies for the straight haired girls, hair parted and tucked behind the ears for the boys) and conservative. Two small white boys and a white girl, one asian girl and a tall black girl.  The handler asked everyone their age.  13, 14, 14,15 and 17.  The handler disappeared behind a door for a while.

While she was gone, I stepped outside and called Andy for the number to Triple A and the temporary ID number they gave us.  I tried to describe the location so she could direct the towing company.  She directed me to wait for a call from the Tow Guys.  While I was waiting for them to call, I tried to use the mapping function on the phone to locate an address without success.

The handler came back out looking grim. It turns out that the agency made a mistake. They catalog company had requested upper teen kids and what they ended up with was mostly lower-age looking teens. She apologized to everyone. The only kid they could use was the tall black girl who looked older than she was. We’d all get paid (since the agency, but there would be no work that day.

The Asian girl and her mom asked if we needed a ride to the car. Since i hadn’t heard from the Towing guys, I said no, I’d stay where it was warm until I heard from them. Maybe they’d pick us up on the way since it was so close.

It turns out that using the map on the phone was a mistake. When one is using the map function on the phone, the caller to that phone gets a busy signal.  Oops. The tow truck had tried to call.  Triple A was able to get through while I was in between maps. The lady scolded me and told me that the tow truck guy was at my car trying to get ahold of me. And me trying to find an address for them.

The Dad of the black girl heard my side of the conversation with the tow truck which was something like, “You’re where? You’re at the car right now? Oh. You found it.I’ll try to get there as soon as I can. Will you stay there for another ten minutes?” They would. Dad offered to give us a ride over there while his daughter did the photo-shoot.  We gratefully accepted, although I wasn’t completely sure I was going to be able to direct him there. We did find it, the Tow Truck Company was there waiting. Two guys instead of one.

We thanked the Dad, who was very gracious. The Tow Truck guys had the towline under the front of my car and only needed me to get in and put the thing into neutral for them. Just like butter, they pulled the car out of the snow.  I tipped them each generously (usually don’t have cash on me, but my  new year’s resolution is to tip better, so I had real american dollars). They thanked me profusely, adding the “Triple A don’t pay too good, so we sure appreciate it.”

We got home without further incident. So grateful for how well the day went in spite of being so crappy.  If we hadn’t have gotten Triple A, if the Asian girl’s mom hadn’t missed the same turn as we did, if they hadn’t asked us for directions (I don’t know if I would have thrown myself in front of them), if I didn’t happen to remember to look back at the car’s location, if the dad didn’t offer to drive us… Uuff. It was all just a step away from disaster.


So we get a call. A fortuitous and happy call saying, “Can Jasper do a photo-shoot for Gopher Sports on Wednesday afternoon? It’s 1 to 3pm and pays (some exorbitant amount) per hour. We take our 15 percent and he gets the rest. Minimum of two hours paid work.”

Well, sure.  We can take an afternoon off of school to get the lad paid work in his preferred field. “Oh, yeah, it’s in Owatonna, is that going to be a problem? You get paid an extra $25 bucks for gas.” Mmmm, yeah… we’ll do it. Less enthusiastically, but we’ll do it.

I had kind of left Jasper’s modeling and acting career to Andy. He got all the pictures done, he went to most of the meetings with agencies, he did the movie with Jasper this past summer (Souvenirs, for the uninformed).  But this time, he couldn’t do the drive and the shoot. I’d be the person driving to Owatonna and back.  I hadn’t yet placed Owatonna on a map, but it kinda sounds like an outer-ring suburb of the Twin Cites, doesn’t it? It’s really not a suburb on the Twin Cities at all.  It’s more like a suburb of Rochester or Albert Lea.  It’s over an hour each way.

We agreed to do it anyway. I agreed to do it. Good think I got that Triple A membership over the weekend since I’d be driving out in the middle of nowhere. Also, good thing I now have googlemaps on my phone. It’s pretty much a GPS, especially when Jasper holds it and reads me directions. He watches the little dot on the purple path and tells me when we’re off the path. I’m kind of nervous about travel, which I know is no big secret. I left the Twin Cities with plenty of time to spare. We rolled into the Owatonna area about 20 minutes before we needed to be there. Good!

The directions said take a right at 24th Avenue.  We were at 32nd Avenue and surrounded by farm fields and the occasional farm house. The road turned to gravel just ahead.  My navigator asked me to pull over so the dot would have time to catch up with where I was. Sometimes the dot gets behind, especially when you do something it doesn’t anticipate, like leave the paved roads for example. I puled over to the shoulder. The road had been plowed, and the shoulder looked nice and wide, about 5 feet.  Except for one thing: There was no shoulder. I felt something odd in the way the car leaned to the right.

Shit. I hit the gas. Nothing but the sound of spinning tires. Reverse. A tiny bit of movement, more settling of the car to the right. Drive. More spinning tires. Shit.

“Mom, are we stuck? Do you want me to get out and push?” I love my boy, and pound for pound, he’s incredibly strong. But he’s barely a hundred pounds. I directed him to get out and sprinkle salt under whichever tire was spinning. He sprinkled and I tried to rock, the car listing further and further to the right. I looked at the clock, it was 12:48. We were supposed to be on site in 12 minutes.  I started to get panicky. The magical phone map said we were only 3.3 miles from Gopher sports.

How we could possibly be that close to anything was beyond me. We were in the middle of an empty tundra with just one house within sight. I got out of the car to assess the situation. Cold. It was cold.

I looked to see if we were getting close to traction under the front tires.  The driver’s side tire was barely touching a slick of ice which just might eventually melt with salt and time. The passenger side of the car was another story. The front and rear tires were actually off the ground, sort of suspended over a snow-filled ditch. The snow was fluffy enough that when they plowed the road, it just smoothed over the top of the snow. It looked like packed snow, but it wasn’t, it was just  a powdery illusion.  The right side of my car was essentially hanging in the air, about 2 feet from ground level. The body of the car was resting mostly on the road.  No amount of pushing in the world was going to get my car out of that ditch. Ok, now I was going to cry.


Nope. No crying. We could walk over to the little white house just up the road and ask for help. Maybe they’d know who could pull  us out.

“Mom, I think that car back there is coming this way, maybe they can help us.”  No way. But it was true. Another car on this god-forsaken stretch of road was a pretty decent sign, actually. I tried to look stuck, but not desperate or crazed. The car was driven by an Asian woman with her daughter in the passenger street.  They pulled over and rolled down the passenger side window and surprised the hell out of me by asking for our help.

“Excuse me, do you know how to get to this address, Lemmond street?” I blinked and walked over to the car and looked at the googlemaps printout she held in front of her: Directions to Gopher Sports. Was this a dream? I blinked and looked through the car to the mom in the driver’s seat.