Sad stereotypes too strong to silence (for now)

Texas Flip n Move logo

Last night, I did something I rarely do: open a Facebook post to the public, rather than just friends.

Today, I’m blogging about the online battle that followed, something I hadn’t planned to do.

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The story was about one of the hosts of a show on the DIY Network — part of Scripps Networks Interactive and sister to HGTV, the Food Network, Travel Channel, Cooking Channel, Great American Country, TVN, Fine Living and the Asian Food Channel.

You’re certainly familiar with some of them unless you’ve been living under a rock.

Unfortunately, it has since been reinforced to me that too many Americans have been living under figurative rocks.

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Texas Flip N Move host Toni Snow — who along with her sister Donna — are “real estate entrepreneurs” who “compete head-to-head in a fast-paced and thrilling real estate flipping competition,” according to the show’s website.

It goes on, if you understand flipping, “Our flippers are under the gun to buy low, work fast and sell high.”

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And in a recent episode that was shot, produced and edited, Toni Snow asked a participant who was willing to pay full asking price for a refurbished school bus, “You’re not even gonna bicker a little bit, Jew us down?” according to CNN and People magazine.

Toni Snow NY Post Fox
Toni Snow from the New York Post, captured from http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2018/01/17/diy-apologizes-for-anti-semitic-slur-that-made-it-on-to-air.html

I’m not a regular watcher of that channel nor show, although I think I once saw part of an episode that was shown on HGTV.

I could say things about people from Texas but I won’t.

The network told CNN in an apology, “An inappropriate comment unfortunately made it past our team” and that they “immediately pulled the episode to edit it for future broadcast.”

im sorry

My original point was that Toni Snow needed to be edited out. In other words, she should be fired and the episode should never be shown again.

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That’s not hard to do.

Look at what’s happening over sexual misconduct these days. Kevin Spacey’s role in the movie All the Money in the World was recast with Christopher Plummer. Scenes from the film about J. Paul Getty’s grandson’s kidnapping were reshot in nine days, costing millions of dollars, a month before its opening. All the promotions/trailers had to be reworked. (See trailer #1 and trailer #2.)

all the money in the world
Sony-TriStar-Imperative Entertainment-Scott Free

Toni Snow reminds me of Hillary Clinton saying half of now-President Trump’s supporters fit into a “basket of deplorables,” back in Sept., 2016, less than two months before losing the election (watch here). I also thought about President Obama, competing against Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying economically struggling Americans “get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy towards people who aren’t like them” back in 2008 (watch here).

This is an embed of the Facebook post. Be warned, not all is polite.

I have to note how hateful some Toni Schroeder Schwind comes across like those quotes politicians used above, just clinging to the past. I don’t know her but her profile pictures indicate she’s not Jewish, yet she insisted more than once,

“This comment has been around for ages and I think somewhat over reaction was an over reaction. Get over it.”

(Yes, her words.)

I’d say to ask a black person about the N-word, or another minority about slurs about them. Who is she to judge what’s offensive to most Jewish people?

And I wrote “most Jewish people” because some of my friends say it’s no big deal, or it’s the intent that matters.

I also originally angrily posted, “Only #Jews! What other group would tolerate that?”

jewish symbols
Jewish symbols
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Even a menorah at the Bristol Motor Speedway‘s Speedway in Lights!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seems liberalism has replaced religion for many non-Orthodox Jews and that bothers me. Their thoughts and practices are certainly up to them, but it leaves me with a bad taste. I wonder what will be in the generations to come.

Others would say I should be doing more. Again, that’s their opinion. Most of us know stereotypes like “two Jews, three opinions” carry a bit of truth.

As for the speaker’s intent, who knows? I’m not a mind-reader. I did write in a private message off Facebook,

“I find people who say things like that about Jews and prices to have bad intent. The reason is simply, one side wants the price higher and the other wants it lower. It’s adversarial by nature.”

One friend wrote there are worse words and phrases.

I responded late last night,

“Look at the reaction from the post at this hour, and also all the news articles. It’s not exactly like the president using SHole because he’s the president. Besides, if people hear it on TV, they think it’s acceptable. Don’t give the public too much credit.”

girl watching tv

Something very similar happened at the TV station I worked at in the northeast Tennessee/southwest Virginia Tri-Cities region after I left.

I explained it,

“Are slurs against any minority group tolerable in 2018? After I left the Tri-Cities, a member of the local synagogue – the only one between Knoxville and Charlottesville – contacted me after the station I worked for did a story about a guy holding an auction and using the same phrase, just like his father taught him! It aired at 5:30. At 11, there was an apology. But he was just white trash and not on the payroll. What gets me is that it’s missed in the editing process. Of course, so do curse words on signs at anti-Trump rallies.”

 

cbs fuck trump pence
Like this. Can you find it? From the CBS Evening News, captured from http://www.ftvlive.com/sqsp-test/2018/1/17/you-might-want-to-look-a-bit-closer

Yes, I used a phrase where the stereotype fit (and not about somebody from Texas, as I promised earlier). I’m certainly not perfect. I tend to be middle of the road politically, but absolutely not politically correct. Society needs civilized discussion.

I’m guessing a photographer who grew up locally shot the interview, wrote the script and edited it. That’s what happens in small non-union markets.

jew people down wcyb

I have files of both the original piece and the apology but won’t show them publicly because the anchorwoman on air had nothing to do with putting together the story. She just read it, along with having to read the apology hours later with her face on air. Her co-worker who should’ve known better caused her to suffer enough embarrassment, and she was simply subbing on someone else’s newscast while that person was on vacation!

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Casey is innocent

I had this last thought while trying to fall asleep last night:

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Archie and Meathead (Mike)

“This conversation reminds me of an episode of All in the Family. It definitely was not my favorite because there was more drama than comedy. Archie and Meathead were locked in the basement and opening up to each other while drinking. Mike tried to convince Archie their fathers were very similar, but wrong as it turned out. Mike had changed completely, becoming a leftist. Archie, his older father-in-law, was more defensive and blindly insisted his father could do no wrong. Most of us have (had) relatives like that, even those who came to this country as immigrants. They lived among each other (in shtetels?) and had no way of understanding anybody else’s feelings or experiences until getting out in the real world. That’s the way things were then. Today, whether traveling a few blocks or watching TV, most people become exposed to others and realize it’s wrong to use and perpetuate stereotypes.”

You can click here to watch 14 minutes of the 1973 episode. They start talking about their fathers just before 8:30 in.

all in the family

At last check, the (very slightly edited) episode “Snow Sisters’ School Bus Flip” is scheduled to air again Friday, Jan. 26 at 8pm ET, Saturday, Jan. 27 at 3am ET and Sunday, Feb. 4 at 3pm ET.

Shame on DIY and Scripps Networks Interactive for having low standards, avoiding a teaching moment and not dumping it.

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Moving back to Philly!

be right back

Yes, you read correctly! I’m headed back after more than 12 years. I didn’t really think it was going to happen, especially considering the roller coaster my life has been over the past several years.

I left Philadelphia for family issues back in 2004. Got a good deal on my house. (But would’ve never expected real estate prices to skyrocket! That’s another story.)

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May 2002: Not expecting this picture to be taken. The old KYW building was torn down for the National Museum of American Jewish History. I’ll be working a block away.

Several good things followed. I got to do the web full time and loved that. I tried and succeeded in a whole new teaching career, and still can’t believe that ever happened! I met several wonderful people I would’ve never met had I not returned to Florida, and worked for one who took a chance on me in a place I’d never heard of.

I was asked not to put this news on social media until well after it became official, but I can tell because it’s only days away. I’m going to be a web producer at WTXF-Fox 29 and work with people I’ve already worked with twice, and some I watched and admired all those years ago. (So please take a moment. Click here to like the Facebook page and click here to follow on Twitter. They’re already doing great! Click here for the news, just out today.)

I leave work in the Tri-Cities on Tuesday, pack and have everything taken on Wednesday, and make the move Thursday. Hopefully everything will be delivered Friday!

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Casey and Yeti’s bye-bye

Garry and Yeti moved to New York over the weekend.

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Yeti REALLY made an impression in the Tri-Cities!

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The house I just got six months ago, and had so much work done on (see bathroom and kitchen), is up for sale. It’ll get a good much-needed cleaning right after I leave.

I’m going to downsize and rent a one-bedroom apartment in Philadelphia, a block-and-a-half from where I used to live. I’m also going to put stuff in storage.

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2001-2004: Lombard Street at 11th
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Open the gate…
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walk down the stairs…
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and take a load off!

I really enjoyed working in the Tri-Cities, getting to run the digital operations at the number one station in the market. Changes will be coming to the desktop and mobile websites over the summer but I was the one who helped set up the migration to a new CMS.

I helped train new people out of school who know how to do SO much, took part in daily management meetings and was listened to, and learned the culture of a place that was very foreign to me.

But Philadelphia and the Tri-Cities are different places, and opportunities like this don’t come along often. It’s the only place I would ever consider moving and I have to do what’s best long-term.

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My last promo for News 5 WCYB

So please wish me luck and I’ll let the Realtor know if you know anyone who wants to buy a house in far southwestern Virginia.

Kitchen complete! At least for now…

The kitchen is done so it’s blog time again!

You’ll remember, we had to do the work because the new dishwasher went a few inches past the edge of the counter. It took this long because the backsplash was delayed. Luckily, that wasn’t a big deal. It’s wasn’t like going without a shower.

day 1 after

On the first day, early last week, Bob the contractor got the counters done. You may also notice he took the air conditioner out of the window, so the room is brighter. Now, check out the sink. We avoided getting a new one because Bob scoured it with steel wool and let it sit overnight.

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The new counter covers the edge next to the dishwasher, so nobody can see insulation on the side.

 

day 2 microwave

Before the second day, we decided to replace the small microwave with a built-in across the room, above the stove. You see it installed. Also, Bob finished the sink. Now, it has the faucet Garry wanted. There are “fancy” knobs on the cabinets that look more like the doors upstairs. Similar handles had to wait because Bob had to drill new holes on the drawers.

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Yesterday, the backsplash came. Bob installed it and covered the electric outlets, including some new ones. You can’t see it here but there’s a fluorescent light right above the windows. It was there but didn’t work, and I never knew it. (Surprise?) Actually, the switch for it was inside the cabinet,  left of the windows. I don’t know why anybody would’ve put it there. Now, Garry won’t have to deal with shadows from the light above following him at that counter.

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This is the area where the microwave used to be, between the tiny half-bath and the breakfast nook area where we have the refrigerator, washer and dryer. We’re keeping those appliances where they are, for now.

I wish we could’ve done the floor, as I posted last time. There’s some nice inexpensive tile that’ll go great, but too expensive at the moment.

We’re also not replacing the fluorescent lights on the ceiling with LED lights. There’s simply too much work involved.

Click here for the rest of the “before” pictures.

So until next time…

And now, the kitchen!

This blog was not supposed to be about home improvement, but we all go through phases.

The bathroom is done and we’re happy with it. In fact, I took two baths over the weekend!

Now, onto the kitchen.

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The main reason for this work is that the dishwasher we had installed in the fall goes a few inches past the edge of the counter.

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There’s insulation showing, and the house can never be sold or rented until that’s fixed. May as well get it done when Bob the contractor has the time.

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So we’re going to get the counters replaced. We’ll extend it those few inches and use the end piece of wood from before the dishwasher to cover up that side.

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This will be the backsplash. Late update: Home Depot has to order more of it.

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The nook with the microwave is included.

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We’re going to keep the sink, but get a new faucet.

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And change the knobs and handles on the perfectly fine cabinets to reflect the house’s long history and look more like the doors upstairs. (This part was obviously Garry and Bob’s decision!)

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That’s it for now. We were also thinking about redoing the floor.

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And maybe changing the fluorescent lights to LEDs. They would be brighter, eliminate the buzzing sound and lower the electric bill very slightly.

kitchen lights

Work is getting started today.

We’ll keep you posted.

 

A better bedroom (and bigger blog)

I have to start off by saying this blog post is late. I warned you when I was finishing the last one.

It wasn’t entirely my fault. We got the bed for my brother and sister-in-law’s visit, and that took a while. We got it upstairs, but that took a while. And then we were too tired to get it ready, or having too much fun with the staple gun, so that took a while. (Details coming up.)

Then, there was a snowstorm. Then, Daniel and Jennifer visited, had a good time and left two days ago! Garry and I dropped them off at the airport in Asheville and finally bought kosher food at Trader Joe’s.

bristol cavernsI took Daniel and Jennifer to Bristol Motor Speedway. We couldn’t get inside. I fell on ice trying.

But we saw Bristol Caverns

a little bit around South Holston Dam (until the roads were closed)…south holston dam

and of course the newsroom. (Everyone gets that, but Jennifer actually asked!)

They saw Yeti and Casey, and also snow.

So that’s the background and this is the blog:

—–

My brother Daniel and his wife Jennifer are going to be visiting in a few weeks. It’s going to be nice seeing some familiar faces in town.holston mountain

It seems not many people visit the Tri-Cities. I don’t know why. We’re conveniently located off I-81, just north of I-26. We have mountains, a moderate climate with change of seasons, and a pretty low cost of living.

map Tri-Cities, TN/VA
from FallonGroup.com

Anyway, since I arrived 10 months ago, my parents visited once, and so did my cousins Barry and Ellen, on their drive from Florida to Boston. None of them saw the house. Hadn’t started looking for it yet.

Daniel and Jennifer are going to be here for a few days and also go skiing in North Carolina.

We’re going to set Casey’s room up as the guest bedroom. I started calling it Casey’s room right away because it has blue walls and checkered-flag curtains, and Casey is a boy.

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I know it’s old-fashioned. He doesn’t even spend much time there, except in the box with linens.

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There are other places to sleep, like the futon in the office…

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… and the pull-out couch in the basement I’ve had almost 19 years. (I bought it in Connecticut and it looked a lot different before Casey stuck his fingernails into it repeatedly.)

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But Casey’s room is going to be much more comfortable, and it’s close to the new and improved bathroom! (Let me know if you ever get locked out or kicked out of your own place.)

So we’re looking for a queen-size bed and Garry found someone advertising on Craigslist. The price sounded good, so we went to Johnson City to check it out.

Sunday (Jan. 10), we prepared with ratchet tie-downs (bungee cables to normal people) and drove the truck over to get it. (We had the truck at the time, but replaced it just before the snowstorm.) Easier said than done.

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The cords weren’t long enough to secure both mattress and box spring…

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… so we put the mattress inside, had the box spring on top and drove back extra slowly in a flurry or two.05

Saved $60 on delivery. The hard part was over, or so we thought. They had to go upstairs.

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Neither Garry nor I expected a problem. The movers did a fine job getting a mattress and box spring of the same size up when we moved in.

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I was at work and Garry didn’t know what those movers did, but there was no way the box spring was going to make it up!

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You can see we tried.

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We did everything we could. I even asked on social media, but the box spring wasn’t going up.

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I knew it would have to be dismembered to some degree. Unfortunately, searches on the subject only dealt with repairing broken box springs.

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We brought it down and Garry had the brilliant idea to take out the staples on one side so it would fold enough and make it upstairs. It worked!

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Of course, we had to get the right nails to put the box spring back together, but that wasn’t such a big deal. (Remember, this is Lenny writing.)

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Garry did the work. I’m not sure how much should be considered “work” when he was holding a staple gun. But he’s finally done.

garry on box spring

He relaxed and moved everything into place.

bed ready for daniel and jenniferSo, we looked forward to giving Daniel and Jennifer a comfortable place to stay. Everything worked out nicely. I just wish they didn’t leave my nephews at home!yeti missing them after

Now they’re back home, and Yeti misses having them around and protecting them. She has been spending more time upstairs, waiting for them by their room.

Until the next visitors…

One blogging year in review

It’s a big day in Cohen Country. I posted my first blog one year ago today.

A year ago, I was living in Florida, deciding what I wanted to do with my life (and not much else).

I wanted to go back to doing news on the web and had considered blogging. I hoped it could give me a better chance of breaking back in, considering I’d been out of the business for eight years. (And a lot of TV stations use WordPress.)

1st blog
January 11, 2015

What got me started was a wonderful picture someone (I forgot who) posted on Facebook.

The Charlie Hebdo attacks happened a few days earlier in France. Gunmen killed 12 people at the satirical magazine.

The next day, another extremist shot a policewoman dead and went on to kill four people at a Jewish supermarket.

France was the victim, like Israel all too often.

I wrote, “Perhaps the world should put the same demands on France as it does to Israel.” Fascinating thought! In the year since, the subject of Muslim immigrants and phrase “radical Islam” have been in the news a lot.

Also a year ago on this date, I wrote “Probably won’t be the last attack against a Western democracy. The world has to act & put an end to it, wherever it is.” Unfortunately, I was right in both Israel and France.

But it has been a good year personally. John hired me in the Tri-Cities and I started a whole new life, doing what I wanted at a whole new level. I got an actual house and rented out the condo in Miami. So I can’t complain.

Let’s not forget the home improvements. Thanks to Garry for a lot of that. And good times with Casey and Yeti.

The blog has been a work in progress, like so many other things. I learned more and actually like WordPress more than the web tool Lakana we use at work. And, I even incorporated more A.P.-style writing than I did, but still don’t completely like it.

There was a break for a few months. Work got in the way.

Eventually, this email: “At the end of the year, the WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,900 times in 2015. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

So there were 4,900 views through Dec. 31. There were 342 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 196 MB. That’s about 7 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was Feb. 25 with 287 views. Not surprisingly, the post that day was that I could reveal I got a job – and I’m moving!.

In 2015, I wrote 32 posts. My longest streak was 3 days in a row, March 15-17. They were about the move, work and the new city. On the other hand, there was a big break between June and November. And Sunday was my most popular day to post.

What shocked me most was that people read the blog in 48 countries! A close second was that Brazil and the United Kingdom were the countries that followed the U.S.

So… Thank you for reading and following along. I hope I’ve helped or humored in some way.

All done! New year, new bathroom

The holidays are always a busy time. Finishing a major construction project while working everyday meant chaos and a delayed post. So here it is, the last steps to the final product!

By Friday, way back on Dec. 18, the bath tub was finally installed. Bob the contractor could finish what was delayed.

Friday 1Friday 2Friday 3Friday 4Friday 5

Saturday, Dec. 19

Saturday 1Saturday 2Saturday 3

Monday, Dec. 21

Monday 1Monday 2abathbbathcbath

Now, there is a giant litter box for Casey (it IS the bathroom!) and a few floor mats, but you get the picture.

So far, BathFitter fulfilled half of its promise for screwing up and delaying the work, and getting that was like pulling teeth. I’m sure the local franchise will take care of the rest of its responsibility.

So… The place is much brighter and less cluttered. Plus, there’s a LOT more storage!

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And something here is gone, too.

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Next project is buying a bed for the room I say is Casey’s before my brother and sister-in-law visit, later this month. That’s where we stored all the bathroom stuff. It needs a good cleaning.

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Then, all three bedrooms are going to need work, some more than others.

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I hope to post again before the next construction project.

Taking shape

It was a big week of work, even without the bathtub. I have to hand it to Bob, the contractor. His buddies at BathFitter left him in a bad position, unable to finish the work or get paid when he expected. Luckily, he didn’t plan a vacation the week before Christmas, or the beginning of Christmas week.

Where we left off: BathFitter wouldn’t have the bath tub ready a week ago because they screwed up and ordered the wrong one. They said they’d have it in the middle of this week. Garry and I decided what we wanted from them for our troubles.

Then, they said they wouldn’t have it until Saturday! That’s when I got really angry. Apparently, Garry threatened them where it hurts and they’ll make it right. I’ll believe it when I see it and get back to you, but am relatively calm.

Remember, there’s a shower deep in the construction zone and a cramped half-bath downstairs off the kitchen.

after Tuesday

Tuesday was painting day. We picked out the paint last Thursday. Garry thought it turned out too blue, and the condition of the walls meant we needed another coat.

Wednesday, he picked something lighter. You can see the difference.

blue Wednesday

So the walls look a lot lighter, one shade of blue off of white. Nice. This is what it looked like when you walk in: bath tub to go along the left side and the vanity on the right side.Wednesday1

This is the wall where the vanity will go.Wednesday2

And this is your best picture yet of the shower. Bob painted around it.

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But not everything is complete. There’s big stuff to maneuver around in the upstairs hallway. Not everyone is as fast as Casey.

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Thursday was floor day. The tiles were probably the hardest decision. It wasn’t what I was thinking, but looks good. Grouting between each piece will be tomorrow. This is the entrance. Bath tub will still be on the left and vanity to the right.

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This is the view when you walk in and turn around. Toilet will go to the left and bath tub to the right.Thursday2

I was admiring the floor and didn’t realize Bob had put up the light, mirror and cabinets to go above the vanity! We debated the set-up and went with this. The plan was for two of the lights but one will do. And there are more electric outlets.

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And this is the light between the shower and bath tub. Plus, there’s one in the middle with a fan and heater. So it’s a lot brighter than it was.Thursday4

So as you see, things are looking brighter! Just wish us luck.

The one week mark

It’s now a week since the bathroom construction started. It would’ve been done by now if BathFitter had ordered the right bath tub, or realized they made the mistake because they had weeks to do so.

The contractor seems to be making good progress. Unfortunately for him, he can’t finish up until the bath tub is installed. But he’s doing other stuff.

He set up electric. Now, by the door, there are two switches for two lights: one above the vanity, and one between the shower and bath tub.

vanity wall

He recessed another switch that’s behind the door for the fan, heat, etc. Before, it was sticking out and you could see where the wires were going up to the ceiling.

recessed electric

He lowered the separator, which will be at the foot of the bath tub (when it arrives).

tub wall

He cut the wainscot, which will be the bottom half of the walls. It should go up tomorrow. The top half will be painted light blue.

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And he cut, patched, cleaned and sealed all of the sheetrock on the walls and ceiling. Everything needs to dry overnight. That’s why there are fans on.

Onto better things:

Yeti enjoyed celebrating Hanukkah. This was her wrapping up the holiday last night. She wore a yarmulke because she’s liberal.

yeti

And this is her behind-the-scenes grooming. Casey wasn’t so interested in celebrating. Very disappointing.

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Instead, this morning, Casey went for his annual physical and got a good report. He tried to be brave.

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I’m also going to try to be brave, hoping this whole bathroom brouhaha is over and done with this week.

Days 2, 3 & 4: hard work, harder luck

In the last blog, they tore apart the entire bathroom. That’s one out of the one-and-a-half bathrooms we have. I was hoping everything would go smoothly and quickly. That didn’t exactly happen.

Tuesday, they sectioned off the shower and bathtub areas.

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And they used sheet rock on the walls. Disregard the color. That will change. Something for the top and something else for the bottom.

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So far, so good.

Wednesday, unfortunately, I got a call from the secretary at BathFitter. I thought she was calling to confirm Thursday morning at 9am again, on the day before, when it really counts. She’d already called to confirm twice.

Instead, she told me they’ll put the shower in on Thursday and Friday, but they were sent the wrong bathtub! (They ordered it weeks ago and didn’t realize?) It’ll have to come from Canada, probably next week. We’re looking into what they will give us for our trouble.

So I won’t be able to use the shower Thursday. Will have to wait 24 hours for the silicone to completely dry.

 

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Looking in. You see what the floor will look like.
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Closer up. Shower on left. Bath tub straight ahead. Window, radiator and vanity (waiting out in the hallway) on right.
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Shower done. Can’t wait to leave work and use it!
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Where the bath tub will go when it finally arrives.

Speaking of changes, Thursday morning, the contractor, Garry and I spent a few hours shopping for every conceivable type of bathroom fixture, from tile and wall paneling, to paint and the ceiling, not to mention the vanity and mirror.

Of course, installing everything is delayed. We’ll all have to wait to see what everything looks like in place. Until then, here’s a sneak peek at one object that’s in a box, in another room…

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By the way, the old one is gone. The neighborhood must be very nice because we left it outside for 3 days and nobody wanted it. The contractor ended up taking it away.

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