Posts Tagged ‘The Horseman’



Soooooo…. (averts eyes, whistles)……remember my post about the bathroom floor being my Moby-Dick? And how I was going to use my bare hands to chip away at the linoleum to reveal the beautiful wide-plank pine floors underneath? Well, yeah, that didn’t go over so well.

I had Sunday afternoon all to myself to get the job done, so I started by buying a little crowbar at Ace hardware. The tip was the perfect size for noodling under the brittle, dry, linoleum. But even with that fine tip and beautiful torque, the linoleum still wasn’t peeling up in great strips like I hoped it would. Out of frustration or inspiration, I’m not sure which, I just started jackhammering away at the linoleum with the tip of the crowbar, and lo and behold, I actually started making some recognizable progress. I suddenly realized that being too deliberate–placing tip of crowbar under flooring, carefully lifting–was going to take all day. But this Psycho-esque stabbing was getting me somewhere. (Remember– this was all taking place in the bathroom!)

It was then that I recalled a nice fellow at Ace hardware telling me several weeks ago, back when I first started this project, that they had a power tool for rent that could help me get rid of the linoleum. After tantalizing me with this magical tool, he then advised against it, saying it would gouge the floor. But I decided yesterday that this tool was going to be the answer to the bathroom problem, so I got back in the car and went back to the rental counter at Ace hardware. I told the tool rental guy I needed something that was like a reciprocating saw (this I picked up from All the Way Home, because I swear that’s what Giffels said he used for the tiles in his kitchen. Oh wait–maybe they were actual ceramic tiles, not resilient flooring after all, now that I think about it.) Anyway, my mistake, I think, was in saying “reciprocating” without really knowing what that means. The guy behind the counter rented me a Sawzall.

I also bought a $10 blade called The Shark or The Tiger or something, which you’re supposed to stick inside that little clamp-like thing at the end of the saw (the same clamping thing that’s in drills, where you put the bit in), which was then supposed to be tightened with a little allen wrench like the ones that come with every box of furniture you buy at Ikea. I don’t know if I just didn’t tighten the thing up enough or what, but within minutes of turning on the Sawzall, the blade first fell over, kind of limp-like, then shot out the end of the Sawzall and ended up about 2 feet away from the linoleum it was supposed to be scraping up. Not to mention that the Sawzall itself was so heavy and made so much noise that it scared me half ┬áto death, especially considering that I was alone in the house at night with nothing but construction lights hanging from nails to light my work. I think I used the Sawzall for all of 15 seconds before deciding that Nick was right–I should have just asked the Horseman to do it. The Horseman could probably get rid of this flooring using nothing but his bare hands in a few hours. But no–I had to go spend $18 on a replacement crowbar (I lost the first one I bought), $15 on a Sawzall rental (yup–a dollar a second), and $10 on a stupidly named blade that doesn’t stay locked into place, only to realize that the same amount of money could have bought me about 3 hours of the Horseman’s time. And he actually would have finished the job.

Nick was kind enough not to say “I told you!” to me, even though I say that to him so often that now he knows to beat me to the punch by saying, “You told me!” In fact, he even defended my honor by saying that the tool rental guy was a jerk for suggesting a Sawzall in the first place.

But we all know the real culprit here: hubris. There are some things you just have to learn to let go of. This floor is one of them. We’re calling the Horseman first thing tomorrow.

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The Horseman

I’ve been remiss in not mentioning how we got so much of the demo done while working full-time and caring for our daughter. The secret has been our neighbor, whom I’ll only refer to as the Horseman.

The Horseman’s yard abuts our house, and he’s been around long enough to remember when our enclosed porch was a yard. We live on perpendicular streets; a large condo building sits on the corner of our intersecting streets, and our houses are to either side of the condos, his facing south(ish), ours facing west(ish). Since our property line is the perimeter of the house’s footprint, we have no yard to speak of. Nothing at all. That means our kitchen window looks out over the Horseman’s yard. His yard, which he shares, as far as we can tell, with a teenaged daughter and his own parents, among others who appear to live in his home, is grassy and green, and holds a lot of stuff for such a small space: a swinging loveseat, a small play gym for children, several car tires, some gas cans, some pieces of wood, and a lawnmower abandoned just a few feet from our house’s east-facing rear wall.

The Horseman used to haul out garbage and do other odd jobs for our home’s previous owner, a middle-aged woman with a pre-teen son. He himself is middle-aged, with permanently sooty hands and dark, bushy hair. He doesn’t speak so much as emit sounds that tumble out of his mouth as mumbled stream-of-consciousness, edged with a smoker’s rasp. Despite being really slight in size, he works like an ox, and has hauled out tons, literally, of demolition debris from our house.

We’re not sure what he does for a regular job. All we know is that his truck broke down right around the time we needed help with the demo and hauling away, and he was willing and able to do it. So he has hauled out garbage pails overflowing with junk out of our house, has ripped things down with his bare hands, and along the way, has even given us some really good ideas about how to remodel–where to put a closet, how to finish a beam, what might be lurking beneath the old linoleum. We couldn’t have done without the Horseman, so here’s to you.

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