Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Korean Embassy Redux

Perhaps the biggest nightmare in the BKFs house was the wall of horror and its transition into the horrible wall of blood. The old woman who had lived in the house was in the habit of slapping up new wallpaper when the old wallpaper no longer suited her. Because of this you could tell which room had been the children's room. In that room, as you unveiled each layer of wallpaper you revealed a different developmental state. At the bottom the wallpaper was bright colorful figures of bells and things (suitable for an infant), above it was patriot/historical events wallpaper (suitable for a school-child), above that was a wallpaper with abstract figures (suitable for a teen) and on top was the wallpaper (stupid geometric patterns) that the old lady slapped on to re-establish her control of the room. Each room (including bathrooms, which were otherwise decked out like they belonged in bordellos) had one "accent" wall covered in wallpaper. In most of the rooms this wallpaper came off fairly easily - you scored the wallpaper and slapped on an "enzyme-based" wallpaper remover which was just about as effective as prayer would have been. The only difference is that once we were done we didn't feel any closer to God.

As a youth, I was privileged to have a slumlord as a father and we owned some ratty apartment buildings in Redwood City. We had to remove the wallpaper there, but in those good old days you could use a remarkably caustic remover which was based on some kind of highly poisonous poly-styrene-toluene-killuall type of chemical that is no longer available to the average consumer.

So when we got to the wall of horror, stinking enviro-nazi hippies had left us without the tools we needed. The old lady had slapped three or four layers of wallpaper on this thing. The first layer came off with deceptive ease... Jae could strip entire columns of the stuff from the wall. It fell off like soccer players pretending to be fouled. But below that, the thing might as well have been concrete. BKF and I scraped until our arms nearly fell off, but we achieved little. You can see the picture of transcontinental pain that we finally achieved.

As we scraped away on the wallpaper the hombres BKF had hired worked on pulling up the linoleum. They pretty much got the entire job done in one day, but there was an amusing side-note. I drove down on a Thursday afternoon and when I got there BKF hissed to me, "I told them that you were the owner." I was a bit bemused by that. BFK did say that the hombres stopped talking as much once I got there. Later, BFK noted what my arrival must have looked like to the hombres. BFK had been working on his computer all morning, and once I landed he joined me in scraping the wall. To the hombres it must have looked like BFK had been loafing until I arrived, and then snapped to attention.

In any case, the hombres stopped talking and laughing and began taking their breaks outside.

I'm the man!

During our ample beer breaks (the hombres got agua) I took the camera around and just looked at the place. One thing that popped out was how.. well... eclectic the previous owner had been. The backyard looked like some kind of Zen OK Corral. But the inside was worse. I noticed that the electrical fittings looked as though they had been picked up at garage sales and at some point it hit me that there were no two fittings even remotely alike. If you click on that photo to see the larger version you will also note that each one was covered in grime.

Several days later, as BFK and I spoke to the next door neighbor, he told us that the old owner had been the bric-a-brac queen (we took down about three linear miles of bizarre little shelves) and that once she retired she spent her entire life haunting garage sales and antique stores. And if something was truly tasteless and gaudy she snapped it up.

The same was largely true of her approach to lighting. No two lights were the same and none seemed to match in any way.

In any case, on the next day BKF set the hombres to working on the wallpaper problem and by noon that day it had been rendered semi-gone. After that all three turned to getting the walls ready for painting and by the end of the day that was also done.

Painting was boring and predictable, but as noted above, it turned the wall of horror into the wall of blood, which you see over there on the left. BKF says that the first night he slept in the house, with only external lighting and his mighty Korean Hunting Dog to scared to enter the house, it looked like he was in some kind of horrorshow. The wall looks a bit saturated and heavy, but it looks good from the living room and once things are placed upon it I think it will look fine.

We just have to remove that fat waygookun from in front of it and everything should be just fine!

The next weekend I also came down and it was mainly about moving from the old apartment to the new house. The BKFs had an innovative system for moving which featured four evenly balanced tiers:
  1. Complete lack of planning
  2. Glad Bags
  3. More hombres
  4. U-Haul truck

While Jae struggled manfully to put breakable things into boxes, the remainder of the move was accomplished by putting big pieces of furniture into the truck and 'packing' them in with boxes full of junk. Since the "junk" that was supposed to be moved and the "junk" that was just "junk" was more or less indistinguishable, both the hombres and I packed plenty of stuff that was supposed to end up in a dumpster.

In due time this was moved to the new house and hastily stuffed into the garage, which quickly became impassable. This was inconvenient as it was the only way into the house and also contained the composite flooring and padding which we were going to install the very next day.

Intrepidly (is that a word) we hacked a path through the mess and kept it open from then on.

The BKF and I began on the flooring, but only had about 9 strips down before the BAG came into town, we all had dinner, and then went separate ways. The BAG and I headed to a motel (practically via King City, since as soon as my gas warning light came on I found a miles long frontage road with no access to the highway - we just kept tooling along as I watched my gas level dwindle) where we had some lovely Hotel Medicine, BKF slept in the new house, and his lovely wife (and mother of his child!) went to stay at a friend's house.

On the morrow? The floor, oh!

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