Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why Make

It's been a slow week at work, so I spent quite a bit of time browsing DIY-type web-sites. The whole floor thing has inspired me to do all sorts of wonderful things to my home, though in truth I know this enthusiasm will abate somewhat and I'll be once more consumed mostly wholly by beading and knitting, but that's OK.

Among the items that interested me were rag shag rugs: strips of fabric attached to a backing of sorts. Most used cotton jersey for the pile, but I've worked with that stuff and I know that when you cut knit fabric across, you cut all those stitches in half, generating gazillions of millimetre-long lengths of wiggly thread, and it's a messy business, so I wondered about woven cotton.
As it turns out, there was a time I thought I'd knit something from strips of fabric, and I even made a gauge swatch, but did not move beyond that. So I have (even apart from the fabric stash that is for sewing clothes mostly but is surprisingly sparse when it comes to thin cotton fabrics) a good length of something that was never intended to be sewn but was always destined to be strips.

I'm thinking bathmat.
At the time the knitted fabric was to be cut on the bias, and I had begun, though barely made a dent.

One of the reasons I was drawn to woven rather than knit fabric for a rag rug is that given the appropriate weave and weight, the fabric could be torn rather than cut, both eliminating those tiny lengths of thread that are a by-product of cutting close to along the warp or weft but not exactly, and also resulting in a softly frayed edge that would fray no more. Cutting along the diagonal is dreadfully tedious though it does also eliminate the thread by-products.

So I cut some of my fabric yarn into four-inch lengths (it struck me that even though five inches was a popular length on the blogs I surveyed, it was longer than necessary) and started attaching it to burlap using a latch-hook to make larks-head knots.

Based on the comments of those people who'd made three-by-four rugs ("It took months!"), I expected to work busily for half the day to end up with a postage-stamp-sized area, but after a little over an hour I have about thirty-six square inches (that's roughly a six-by-six square. Perhaps more, I'm guesstimating because I can't see it from here.
I don't think that's too bad at all, which makes the prospect of a rug of a usable size reasonable in terms of time.

It's way faster than knitting.  I don't think I could knit that area in that time, using yarn and needles in my preferred zone of sizes (rarely bigger than worsted; no smaller than sock-weight), and I wondered what sort of crack these people were smoking when they went on and on about the huge chunk out of their lives needed for a bathmat-sized rug.

I suspect that many of these self-described "crafty" people make things for a fairly narrow range of reasons (apart from the fact that they like doing it well enough to spend the time) which I'd guess can be summed up in one word: money. 

Most of the time, especially when up-cycling, you get a lot more home decor for a lot less outlay in cash, if considerable outlay in time. True, I read about projects which took longer than half an hour though I think most did not and I read about projects which were far from free, but even the long and involved projects involved multiple different steps, so even if the total time necessary was considerable, by and large each step didn't require multiple days or even very many multiple hours.

Don't these people knit sweaters?

Don't they make seed-beaded jewellery?

Even my floor project which took most of four weekends from start to finish doesn't qualify by my standards as exceedingly time-consuming. Given that I can work on a sweater for a couple of months worth of evenings, I'd fully expect a latch-hooked rag rug to take longer than that and not be an onerously lengthy task (the above sample is a proof-of-concept - more to see if I like it than if I am capable of producing a satisfactory product. Jury's still out).

My suspicion is that the person who does crafty up-cycling is probably a lot like the person who does stringing: they are more product-oriented than many knitters or seed-beaders who really enjoy a project that gives them maximum pleasure in the doing, in the making. DIY-ers are more product-oriented, while knitters and beaders are often more process-oriented. Sure we like to finish our projects, but we don't want them to be over too soon; we want to savour the time, bliss out in the repetitiveness, get all zen in the doing and doing and doing.

In case anyone was wondering, I'm not making any sort of value judgement on which is better: neither is preferable, neither is indicative of superior moral fiber or intellect - they are merely different motivations to satisfying a possibly unconscious need (creating something) while scratching a more immediate itch.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


And the new registers arrived and they look AWESOME on the tiles.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Working Floor

The cat peeing on the carpet was the catalyst, but it all started with my frenzy of upholstering last summer.

First it was the dining-room chairs, then a new cover for the living-room sofa, then an ottoman for the TV room in the basement, then reupholstering the chair in the family room which forced me to buy a new sofa because the old one didn't match, making a matching ottoman because I had left-over fabric - and then the carpet just looked terrible with the new sofa.
 The new floor is a much better match, even though I haven't re-hung the pictures yet.
And I'm glad my daughter persuaded me to paint the fireplace wall while I was at it.

The new floor works pretty well (as a floor) and it almost even looks as though it's, y'know, real, as if someone who knew what they were doing installed it. Almost.

I don't think this is the start of a new series the way the dining-room chairs was. This was big enough to stand on its own.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Not Dissatisfied

I would have finished grouting on Saturday as planned had not my back loudly refused to do any more.

Inspired, emboldened, encouraged, cautioned, educated etc by what I learned yesterday, I finished the rest of the grouting (getting it in, that is) in record time this morning. To a certain extent, that's the easy part. The hard part is getting to this:
From this:
 Grout haze. It's annoying and insidious and they're right: you need elbow grease to get it off but it's not so bad really if you use those cellulose-type cloths, the ones like the sponges but configured like fabric. And oh yeah, lots of pressure with the wipe, and frequent rinsing and changing of the water.

Another thing I learned when grouting is that I'm not exactly excellent at the tiling business, specifically I'm not terrific at glopping on the perfect amount of thin-set, because this became my favourite and most necessary tool of the grouting enterprise:
 A dremel-type tool with a grouting bit used to remove excessive thin-set that had bubbled up between the tiles. Next time I'll get another charger for super-efficiency. In the unlikely even that there is a next time, that is.
 But the floor is grouted and (mostly) de-hazed, and I moved in a few pieces of (light) furniture just to see if I like it.

My friend and her son will help me move in the rest of it tomorrow and then I will take most excellent photos with which I shall display to the family in Australia my genius at home improvements. It's all relative, really.

So here's a weird thing.

When you work with thin-set and grout, it does nasty things to the skin or your hands (I'm not so good with the gloves, so sue me. Besides, they always leak) because it's very caustic.  I read on some manly-man tiling forum that if you wash your hands with acid, it balances the alkali of the other stuff and helps  prevent the skin on your hands from, I don't know, peeling or exploding or something.

Makes sense, so I've put the white vinegar at the sink, and have been using it to rinse my hands while I'm working. It has the added benefit of unsticking any thin-set that might creep under your finger-nails or stick in the cuticles of your nails.

When I vinegar-rinse my hands while grouting (I wash, rinse with water, dry, then rinse with vinegar) that the odour which first assails my nostrils is not that acetic acid punch as during a thin-set session, but is instead a sulphurous flatus followed quickly by the acidic hit. I'm guessing there's something in grout which when combined with acetic acid makes sulphur dioxide.

Or something.

So yesterday when my back went out I managed a little beading. First I made the other earring:
 Then I made another pair with different dangles
 To match a necklace.
I have a beading and knitting deficit which I badly need to balance!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Painting, the New Caffeine

So last night at the open house at the bead store, all I could think about was being horizontal and at least slightly unconscious, but as I got home I realized that if (a) I was going to spend all day Saturday grouting and (b) I wanted to paint the fireplace wall, the painting might be better served by doing it first thereby ensuring its completion because otherwise it'll be another week with the family room furniture jammed into the living room and I don't think I can stand it any longer.
 Turns out that painting a brick wall (and remind me to never do it again because OMG the tedium of not being able to use a paint roller) is pretty invigorating. So much so that I had a hard time falling asleep when it was over, even though it was somewhat past the bedtime that is my wont when I'm not exhausted. Go figure.
 Of course I had an audience.
 There were attempts at active participation. This guy just climbed up and down all night long. Who knew cats liked these things? The primary cat though? Not even slightly interested in the equipment. Her contribution to the effort was to complain that I wasn't giving her enough attention.

Of course I wasn't.
 When I woke up this morning and hung the stuff back on the wall and attached the new switch-plate (the finish of which - brushed nickel according to the packaging - might force me to replace the brassy fireplace doors. Or not) I looked upon my work and saw that it was pretty good (though not perfect, but it does match the new tiles pretty well and doesn't clash with the Roman shades, so that's a plus) and it was evening and it was morning of the first day of this home improvements weekend. (Why yes, this stuff is making me feel pretty powerful, why do you ask?)
 He likes it too.

The grouting really isn't as onerous as I'd been led to believe. I think I mixed the bag of grout successfully (because yes, it was the consistency of peanut butter, toothpaste and/or cookie dough) but here's my gripe.
When you use the Power of the Interwebs to collect hints and tips about grouting, there seems to be a decent consensus on the opinion that you should mix only the amount of grout you can use in half an hour, because otherwise it starts to set up, and I can attest to the truthiness of the time for the grout to harden: it was a bit more than half an hour, but quite a bit less than the amount of time I'd have needed to actually use it all. Like half the time I would have needed.

So it being the case that you should not mix an entire twenty-something pound bag of grout all at once, why is it that it's impossible to divide up the bag with anything resembling accuracy so as to mix up only useful amounts?

You try and figure out how much is left in the bag when you start pouring and it !fwumps! out into the bucket in a cloud of noxious fine particulates. (Yes, I was wearing a respirator). I know that two quarts of water is good for one twenty-something pound of grout, but I really don't have a scale in my backyard with which to measure out fractions of a bag of grout.

So it's possible that if much of what I mixed were not in fact a hard crumbly mess in the bucket that I would be finished with the grouting as we speak, but in truth my back has kinda given out and so it turns out that it might be better that I did not spend a few more hours today on my hands and knees, wrangling grout into cracks.

It's actually somewhat energetic work. Not difficult, but it's work.

Meanwhile during the week I made an earring as a sample for the class I taught on Tuesday:
Yup, just the one. I'll get to its mate later. Sometime.

Yesterday I bumped into one of the students from the class who told me how much she's enjoying the project - it's a chain of motifs like in the earring (sort of), joined one to the next as you go. It's a really simple project which eats twin beads and fire-polished beads like breaking the Fast, and I guess I'm often surprised which designs particularly do it for a beader. The things that I get juiced about are complex and clever and intricate, but I guess it's nice to bead for relaxation too.

I also finished my silk sweater and even though I really could have taken a somewhat better picture if I were not inside the sweater, I didn't, so my Proof of Finishedness isn't so picturesque.
It turned out pretty well. You can't really tell but it's a hip-length a-line swingy shape with sleeves in the same lace motif as in the front which reach almost to the elbows (but I might shorten them. I haven't decided if I love that length).

Tomorrow: Finish the Grout, dammit. I might paint the baseboards and the door to match the fireplace too.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

All Over Bar the Grouting

 Every square inch of floor that should be covered by tile, is. The hole in the floor in the picture above is for the register and I haven't removed all the labels, so it's not as though I'm ready to move the furniture back in and call it done, but I think I'm over the worst of it.

I'm oddly optimistic about the grouting.
All that remains is some cleanup (removal of smudges of thin-set, that sort of thing), grouting and getting a something to transition from the tiles to the wood floor.

I was feeling pretty smug, so I moved in a small end table, and then I realized that it could be problematic that the tiles may not be laid down perfectly evenly: things will at best wobble, and at worst put a disproportionate amount of pressure on the high areas and maybe the tiles will break.

Perhaps I should just leave this room empty.

Perhaps it's not that bad after all.


I know. What about the beading? Or even knitting or spinning?

Not quite yet, I'm afraid.

So unless you're incredibly lucky, the dimensions of your floor and the size and number of tiles and the width of your grout lines mean that you have to cut some tiles if you intend to cover the entire floor with tiles. (I don't know, perhaps your aesthetic has its own dictates).

And in order to cut tiles, you need a tile saw. And if your tiles are on the larger side (say sixteen inches square), you need a great big heavy tile saw requiring two brawny young men at your favourite big box hardware store to get it into your car. (There were false starts. These guys did not have Amy's getting-things-into-tight-spaces skills. Or even mine).
There's a pump which gets submerged in a bucket of water which is used to keep the rotating blade very wet so that it doesn't overheat as it cuts through the tile. The dusty water falls into the white plastic tray underneath the cutting table, though I think the saw is designed to make you think it's going in there, when really it sprays in a neat line from your nose to your crotch. Awkward!

(I should add that as I was packing and cleaning it up to return - it was a rental - I discovered that the blade hood was raised, which you can see in the picture above. I suspect that if it had been lowered, this may not have been quite such a personally messy business).

Given that I was tiling a rectangular room, and that many of the pieces I was cutting were of similar sizes, I labelled them all, like the grids in those map books you used to buy before Google maps. You know, you'd look for a street in the index, and it would say "Page 5, G17". So my tiles were labeled L6↑ or C1↓ - the arrows pointed towards the garage because (and I learned this on YouTube) each tile has an arrow underneath in case you need to match the patterns. My tiles are slightly random abstract faux-stone patterns, and I got tired of trying to sort-of-alternate them, so eventually I just went with the MRD (manufacturer recommended direction).
 This is a tile just after making the first cut. In the interest of not requiring another two boxes of tiles, I didn't worry too much about direction for the cut pieces. At least half of them were right.

This is my Pile o'Tiles partway through a cutting session which lasted as long as the water in one bucket and two basins (used to refill the bucket).
On the right and front of the picture are the pieces that have been cut (as it turns out to slightly less than perfectly exacting measurements - you try and do better one hundred percent of the time!) At the rear is a piece waiting to be cut, and on the left are, well,  left-overs.
I don't usually do selfies but my outfit was killer, so I thought you'd be interested/amused.

My hair (well, actually, most of me) by this time (I'm about to pack up) is crusted with fine pale terracotta tile dust (most effective hair product ever), I can barely see through the protective eyewear despite the repeated wipings-off, my hands are thoroughly water-logged (the gloves are for protection and padding rather than water-proofing), and my handy dyer's apron sadly could not prevent the water that sprayed on my face from dripping down my neck inside the apron though it did avoid the whole wetting of the pants thing.
The tile saw was pretty amazing actually.

I'd read that you can't cut small amounts because of chipping, but I was even able to shave off less than a quarter inch when I grossly mismeasured. There were a couple of strips with widths less than two inches, so I cut them into small rectangles (randomly, I measured nothing) for cabochons. Too bad the tiles are so neutral. Good for floor, less so for jewellery.
 This is my left-overs pile after I'd cut everything. Not a colossal amount of waste.
 The above and below pictures show the only untiled areas left at the end of the day. Actually I lie. The very edges of the room, except for one long side, have small pieces not yet attached.

I was most worried about the ares around the registers, as the concrete is slightly raised at the openings and I was concerned about stress on the tiles. It turned out that it was easier to cut rectangles than L-shaped pieces, so even though the tiles around the registers may not form overall perfectly flat surfaces, each tile is on a fairly flat piece of concrete (with a thick layer of thin-set underneath). I think it'll be OK.
 If I hadn't hurt my back, I'd have completed them after returning the saw.
This is the tray that supposedly collected the tile spray. what it really collected was the stuff that was too heavy to spray at me on account of having a particularly high concentration of tile dust (hence the respirator in the selfie). In the front corner you can see a large handful of goop, a slurry of tile dust and water that did not drain out and that had to be scraped out. It was a little disgusting, quite frankly.

In spite of the fact that this project has taken me at least twice as long as I'd imagined, and in spite of the fact that I really had no freaking idea of what I was doing (and I knew it!) when I started, and in spite of the fact that I'm not quite done yet, and in spite (or perhaps because) of the fact that I'll probably never do this again EVER, I'm remarkably impressed with myself and overall pretty pleased with the way it's turning out.

I'm ready for something a little less physical though.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


So when you decide to do something, that's Plan A.

When it doesn't quite go right, you switch to Plan B.

When Plan B was also over-optimistic, it's time to bring out Plan C.

I'm at Plan R - R for Reality. And Relief, quite frankly.

I was convinced that I could prep on Friday, cut and lay on Saturday, finish laying on Sunday, grout Monday after work, and get my daughter and her friend to help me move the furniture back on Tuesday. Plan A.

So the prep was impossibly hard, and not only did it take much longer than anticipated and delay the next step by at least a day and a half, it also exhausted me so that even if I hadn't had to be at work again on Monday, it would have been hard to find enough energy to have made it happen. 

I had half a hope that I could get the furniture moved back by this evening (Wednesday), as I watched those Plans scroll by.

When I realised that there will be another weekend in just a few days, and that I could use my evenings to rest and measure for every single cut, it was much easier.

More realistic.

Plan R.

I'm tired, bruised all over and sore. My hands are stiff and swollen and my rings don't fit.
So I took a short break. I figure the fine motor movements are a good counterpoint to the gross phyisicality of what has been consuming me. Frankly I was too tired to even consider laying tile this evening.

Also, I need to make some cuts before I mix up a batch of thin-set to start laying tiles again, and George forgot his tile saw at home - much better to borrow one for a few days than to stress about getting the rental back within twenty-four hours, right? - so until I can cut I can't lay so I might as well take a break.
Anubis loves the tiles. I've learned how much I can trust his judgement.

I have perhaps seventeen full tiles to lay, and then a boatload of small pieces.

Then grouting.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

At Last

Next time (if ever there is a next time) I tile anything, I need to hire someone to do the part that was onerous and a time-suck.

My plan was a good one: use Friday to remove the gunk, lay tiles on Saturday, finish the last few tiles on Sunday before Spinners, then grout on Sunday evening, move the furniture back on Monday.

I didn't count on the gunk removal being so dreadful.

However, I did finally get to start the fun stuff, but I had to leave Spinners early.
First I started just putting it down to see where the cuts would be and how awful etc. One school of thought says that you start laying from the centre out so that every wall has the same cuts. Like a border perhaps. Another says that the wall you see when you enter a room shouldn't have any cuts. This room has two entries at opposite sides, but even so, the most public entry-way faces a wall with two bookshelves and a sofa so you would barely even see the cuts except in front of the door to the garage.

I decided that there shouldn't be cuts in front of the fireplace, or on the more public side either, so that's where I started.

After some futzing with chalk snap lines (a bit pathetic) and lots of measuring (the width of the room differs by a quarter of an inch at the two ends), I actually started with the tile, sticking it down and whatnot.
In a bit less than four hours I covered close to three-quarters of the room. If I hadn't spent two of my precious days scraping tar, you'd be looking at a picture of fresh grout instead of fresh tile.

Best-laid plans and all that.

Turns out I'm not the most excellent tiler. It took me a while to get halfway decent - and really, at this point, that's all I am: only halfway decent. If I lost my job this would probably not be a viable alternative in terms of making a living, but so far, in lieu of shelling out a few times my materials costs for someone else to do the job (albeit much better), I'm satisfied with my decision to try this myself.

Perhaps if I don't put any furniture on it ever, no tiles will ever crack.


I've learned quite a bit in the last twelve or fourteen hours:

1. You don't want cats on your Quality Assurance Team.
No matter how adorable they are.
Or how easy it is to get them to give you a passing grade.
No matter how whole-hearted their approval.
Or how hands-on their participation.

2. Your patch is only as good as your mix.
Even if your technique is awesome.
It's no use if your dried and "cured" patch dissolves when you get it wet.

3.  Rapidset, despite warnings on the bag, sticks to asphalt pretty well. In fact, it sticks better to asphalt than asphalt sticks to concrete. Which leads naturally to:

4.  If you want to remove asphalt from concrete, simply mix Rapidset badly, dry, and then scrape it off. Works like a charm!

5.  The big long manly tool has its uses.

6.  Unfortunately you may have to redo your paint job.

7.  It takes about as long to remove it as it does to put it down.

8.  It's not that scary, except perhaps the mixing part f you don't get it right.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Girls and Boys and Toys. Tools

I think it's fair to say that I've never attempted anything remotely so far outside my comfort zone as this floor project. 

I've never done woodwork, but when I was child I'd watch my dad in his workshop. He could do anything with wood. He had a chip on his shoulder because he never designed anything, always needing plans, but he was an extremely talented artisan in terms of his technique and execution. My daughter has the desk he made me when I was about ten or twelve; it's one of those flip-top things with cubbies and nooks, and four drawers underneath. My Barbies lived in the second drawer. I had quite the collection.


Even though my actual woodworking experience is very limited, tackling a woodworking project would be far less scary. I have some sense of what it takes, some sense of how the tools and the techniques are handled, just from all those hours of watching and soaking it in.

Concrete? Floors? Getting tar or asphalt or whatever that disgusting stuff is off a floor?

Utterly foreign.

I'm not averse to asking for input, reading up, trying to find useful videos on YouTube, so I did.

I've talked to a few guys at work who've done lots of home projects, and they even lent me tools.

I talked to people at Home Despot (who were actually pretty awesome).

The thing is, all the people who had advice about removing tar from concrete were men. They told me how they would do it, showed me the tools that they would use.

Actually, they all said I should rent the machine that does it, but I realized that even though the machine would have cleaned the entire floor by yesterday lunchtime, I would first have had to have been able to get it out of my car, and given that it weighs far more than the large box of kitty litter (about forty pounds - that's about my lifting limit), it would still be in the car.

So the guy took this long thing off the wall and said "Here, use this to scrape it off". I asked about a hand scraper (I'd read about them) and he pooh-poohed that idea, saying that this was what I needed.

So Wednesday I took this very long metal thing with a thick blade at one end, a foot-rest just above it and a tee-shaped metal handle at the other end, and tried the scraping thing.

Very awkward. It's too long for me, I can't get a good grip, and the handle gave me a bruise on my back, just under the bra line.

Thursday night my body figured out how to make it somewhat effective, but it's very hard work - I can't do more than half an hour with it, at which point I'm horribly out of breath and sweat is dripping into my eyes. This is way more intense than any exercise regimen I've tried.

My plan was to clear the floor on Friday, and fill in any dips and irregularities, and then lay tile on Saturday. Today. And grout on Sunday, and get my daughter and a male friend to help me move the furniture back in on Monday.

One word:


Some of it is dry and crumbly, end then it comes right off. Some is softish, so I can scrape it off in small curls and slivers. Most of the time though, I just burnished it smooth and dense. Going into this, I figured if I could clear fifty percent of the concrete, that would be enough to adhere the tiles.

By the time I fell into bed last night, I may have been at twenty percent, and all the low-hanging fruit was gone. The stuff that was left just wasn't coming off.

This morning I realized that I had to consider a Plan B. Initially Plan B was just "Screw it, I'll just put the tiles down anyway" and then I started reading the instructions on the bag of stuff that has to be mixed and it went on and on about how the surface has to be cleaned of this and that and asphalt.

At the hardware store I tried to find a trowel that looked like the one that the guy in one of the videos used, and two shelves above, I saw a hand tool, perhaps ten inches long, with a short, angled blade. A scraper. For $6.95, what could it hurt, right?

The metal tool (with some wadding wrapped around that useless handle to protect my delicate self) is taller than a broom, and much heavier too. 

Twenty minutes with the small, useless, girly, wrong tool, and I removed more tar from the floor than all of the time I'd spent until then.
Those scrapings are bigger than anything I could remove with the big tool. See those patches of not-black in the foreground? Couldn't get those with the big man-tool.

With the small tool, I can sit down, hold it with both hands, and use my upper body weight to lever the gunk off the floor. Because I'm not using my whole body, I can do it for longer, and it's way more effective.

So yes, long-winded, but what I wanted to get at was that even if you do get excellent advice, how helpful it ultimately is to you and your body and your situation has an inordinate amount to do with who is giving you that advice.

My friend's husband offered to sharpen the blade on My Big Tool, but that's not the problem, because it's the wrong tool for me

I know they say a bad workman blames their tools, and I'll cop to that, but at the same time, the right tool for you makes all the difference.

Friday, August 9, 2013

They Should Pay Me

So when I'm beading something or knitting something, people talk about "working" on it, but really work is that thing that you have to be paid to do, but beading, knitting, spinning, dyeing - that's stuff I do for free.

This home improvements stuff though, it's even worse than work. Worse than aerobics (it makes me even more out of breath, even sweatier).

I stayed home from work for a number of boring reasons, and also to get some work done on the floor. It all started at 6:27 with a phonecall notifying me of the imminent delivery of Stuff With Which To Do Work (but I didn't even get to it today).

Understand, I live on a rather small street.
 This huge truck was like half the length of the block. When I saw it my heart sunk, because there was no ways they'd be able to deliver my heavy things to the back of the house, just next to the door of the room of the floor that in a very short time I will not want to mention because it's giving me fits, but just hang on a second.
 He had a little (and when I say "little", that's only relative to the hugeness of the truck) forklift which barely made it up my driveway (one massive tire had to go all over the neighbour's plants which honestly she doesn't pay much attention to anyway) but the very nice man was able to deliver the very heavy things (and mine was by far the smallest pile on the Very Large Truck) to within a few feet of the door.
 Oh that I had made enough progress to un-plastic the stack.

It's the tar on the floor, see. It doesn't look all that bad in this picture, but it is.
The flash disguises the badness, but there, on the upper right? That thick blackness? That's the tar that has to come off.

This part of the floor is pretty good, considering. I'm happy to call it enough where fifty percent of the concrete is bare.
Sadly, I have a ways to go and all I want to do is drink water and sleep.

There's this short, sturdy blade on a very unwieldy and heavy stick which I'm supposed to use to scrape the tar off the concrete. It's slightly tacky when you walk on it, but it's nothing like nailpolish which hasn't yet set which you can scrape off without too much trouble, or even nailpolish that is completely dry that you can chip off if it's a bit old.

Nothing like that at all.

The tar is hard enough and dense enough and I'm not strong enough (except for brief frenzied moments, impossible to sustain) to get a purchase with the blade tool to scrape it. Occasionally I happen upon areas that are a bit drier and slightly brittle, or perhaps the concrete was smoother so it's not adhering all that strongly, but it looks to me as if much of my effort has served merely to burnish the tar that is firmly stuck to the concrete floor.

And I haven't even gotten to renting the tile saw.

On the plus side, I think I may not have to do much to smooth out the floor. There are a couple of puddle-making areas which I should be able to fill, but overall it may not require too much evening out. 

One can only hope.

What made the day even fuller, busier, harder was a hard deadline: submissions had to be postmarked by today, and the post office closed at six - I made it with perhaps eight minutes to spare, and that was including finishing a necklace:
As well as the instructions which had to be mailed with the sample, and also making this whole new sample:
And then horrors! Fallout from my New Year's computer disaster in which it turned out that Time Machine does not in fact back up everything.

The editable version of the instructions were lost, though I had a PDF and no, I do not have any magic utility whereby I can decompile a PDF file back to Appleworks (I know, I know, I should move beyond a product which hasn't been supported in years, and I guess when the the latest OS makes it unusable I'll have to, but for now it's familiar and I'm efficient) - all I had was copy (which luckily worked) and paste and the original step-by-step photos, so in addition to the scraping and sweating and finishing a sample and making a new sample, I also had to make new instructions (because the old ones had not sensibly kept up with the improvements I made to the design; I know, shocking), and all this in less than twelve hours.

And you wonder why all I want to do is sleep?

And there's more of the awful stuff and scary new stuff (I have never tiled a floor in my life. Once in art we made small mosaic things, but the teacher did the grouting) which I absolutely have to get done because I swore up and down that I would. 

Besides, the room is currently hideous and unusable.