Best Birthday Ever!

So I had a fantastic birthday yesterday. Sam’s parents came up for the weekend, and here’s something I knew but never fully appreciated about my father-in-law: he possesses a wide range of incredibly useful talents and skills! And for my birthday, Sam and his father dedicated themselves to completing a number of projects around the home that I’ve been dying to get done.

First, Dave installed the new faucet on our tub. I guess I should back up a minute to explain that when we moved in, the handles were missing from the tub faucet; when I got a plumber out to fix it, he took one look and told me that the whole faucet needed to be replaced, and that he’d be happy to do that for us at his usual rate of $125/hour, once we’d bought the new hardware. In the meantime, we could only take baths or showers by turning the handle-stubs with pliers, which was awkward and annoying. And the water pressure was pretty cruddy too. But when he installed the new faucet for us, Dave somehow magically managed to fix the water pressure too! Taking showers is now a delight, and look how pretty the new hardware is:

Also, there’s a cute little boy in there enjoying the bath. This is significant as Robin’s gone back to a strongly anti-bath phase for the past few months. But the gooseneck water spout is fun for him to play with, and he also likes reading out the letters on the handles.

After doing our plumbing work for us, Dave turned to the landscaping. He trimmed back the trees and bushes in our back yard, and then he and Sam installed my new composter for me:

This is the Green Cone System, which I chose because it can handle types of organic waste that other composters can’t, like meat scraps and kitty litter (if you use compostable litter). The disadvantage to this cone is that it releases most of the composted material as liquid into the soil, not as mulchy fertilizer that you can spread on your garden: but since I’m planning on keeping chickens, I figure I can compost the chicken manure separately and get my good fertilizer that way.

Anyway, there’s no real way to make a composter look particularly attractive, but I love that decorative brick border that Dave put around it! If I plant some flowers around it, I think it’ll make a cute spot in the yard.

Then, Sam and Dave went off to pick up an entertainment cabinet that I’d bought over Craigslist. I’m finding Craigslist to be a fantastic way to locate the kind of solid wood furniture that really suits our Craftsman home, but that’s terribly expensive when you buy it new. Unfortunately, then I generally have to pay movers to haul the massively heavy piece of wood I’ve just bought.

For instance, I’m typing this post at a solid oak desk I bought a couple weeks ago from the City of Palo Alto public library, which was liquidating some furniture on Craigslist. I love the desk:

And they only wanted $150 for it, when similar pieces sell new for a couple thousand. But I had to pay the movers almost as much to get it into our home as I did for the desk itself.

Anyway, I got another good deal on this lovely cabinet for our living room, to hide our TV and provide some much-needed extra storage space:

(Please ignore the fact that we have yet to tear down that ugly fake wood paneling—I have some nice wallpaper all picked out that will be replacing it soon. Also, we had to wedge a strip of wood under one of the feet of the cabinet because our floor’s not level; we’ll be cutting that down to make it less obtrusive.) I’m in love with the cabinet. It was made by The Wooden Duck, a local outfit that does very nice work using locally-sourced reclaimed wood. This particular model is made completely of solid teak. It’s about ten years old and they’re not selling it anymore, because it’s too narrow to fit the modern widescreen televisions. Luckily our old Philips TV is also ten years old, and as it’s still going strong neither of us feel any need to replace it yet. And because our living room was designed back in the days before television, really the only place to put the TV is right against that wall, where there’s juuuuuuust enough room for a narrow cabinet like this one. So! I’m splendidly pleased with it, and almost as pleased that Sam and his dad were able to fit the thing in the back of our Volvo—

—did I mention we have a car now? A ’97 Volvo station wagon, baybee, just waiting for us to paint flames down the sides and install some flashy rims.

As I was saying—I was pretty thrilled that Sam and his dad were able to fit the thing in the back of our Volvo and get it into the house themselves.

And that’s not even all that Sam and his dad got done yesterday; they also brought down some of the ugly window coverings that the last owners left, and put up a new glass shade for a light fixture that had been bare, and a bunch of little odds and ends like that. So, basically what I got for my birthday was hours and hours of other people’s hard manual labor, while I stood around and fanned myself and crowed in delight over the results. It was immensely satisfying. Best birthday ever!

Just to close out this post, here is a bonus picture I took of the view from our kitchen window. Isn’t it pretty? I love those morning glories. (Less picturesque are the dirty spots at the bottom of the window. Sorry about those.)

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