Jun 12, 2013

Home project: Laundry pedestals

Posted by Mary |

When we toured our house, there was a very nice washer/dryer set in the laundry room. They were included in our contract, but on our final walk-through before closing, we noticed they were gone. It turns out that the seller had given them to her daughter and refused to admit that she had said they conveyed. We got a check from her realtor at closing to buy replacement machines. Since I'm a bargain hunter, we ended up with shiny awesome new machines for about half price, thanks to a dent on the washer.

That dent? That saved us about $1,200. I love that dent.
When you view front-loading washers and dryers in the store, a lot of them are on nifty little pedestals. These pedestals provide storage and also make it MUCH easier to do the laundry. They also cost $250 each. Ouch. Even with our savings, I couldn't justify paying that.

Enter the bargains.
In May, I came across a pair of laundry pedestals at my favorite home improvement thrift store. After some dealing, the manager and I agreed on $70 for the pair. Because of my obsession with aesthetics, I knew we couldn't pair white drawers with our silvery-gray washer and dryer. Armed with sandpaper and spraypaint, I set out to imrpove them.


A few hours of sunshine later, I had coated all the visible parts with a near-perfect color match. After letting the paint harden and cure, Beau and I were ready to move them in. I should probably note that Beau had put the washer and dryer in place by himself when we moved in. I should also probably thank him for that, especially in light of what followed.

Step 1: Remove washer door.
Step 2: Maneuver dryer out of tiny room.
Step 3: Strain back moving washer out of tiny room.

Once we had the washer drawer in position, all we had to do was put the washer on it. Except once we got the washer into the tiny room, there was not much space for me to squat down and pick up my side. Literally, my back was a few inches from the wall. My yoga practice includes lots of malasana, so we managed.

In. Doesn't fit.

Once the washer was in place, it became apparent that my measuring had been for naught. The pedestal was wide enough, but it technically was not deep enough. When the washer's back legs were on the pedestal, the front legs were barely resting on the drawer front. No bueno. But Goonies never say die, and I was determined to make these work. We eventually found that we could cut lengths of scrap plywood to provide the necessary support for the back legs.

With the washer hooked up, we put the dryer pedestal in its spot and tried to figure out how to get the dryer in place and hooked up. You see, we couldn't just have a simple dryer. Oh no, we had to have a fancy steam dryer, and you can't have steam without a water hookup.

Not the best time for a claustrophobia attack.

Our solution? I stood on the dryer pedestal and we lifted the back edge onto the pedestal. Beau supported the front edge with jack stands, while I made the water and exhaust connections behind the machine. Then I had to hoist myself up and out of the space, ending up on top of the washer. To further complicate matters, I had to go back down a few times to fix things. I ended up just chilling on top of the washer for a while.

And scene!
We will never move these machines again. If we sell them, the buyers must remove. We will paint around them. (And eventually I will paint the plywood to match the machines and pedestals because I have issues.) But I must say, it sure is nice having them washer and dryer elevated. Now if only we could change the washer door so that it didn't open toward the dryer...

May 28, 2013

This is not Mr. Roger's Neighborhood

Posted by Mary |

When we moved into our new house in the middle of December, I accepted the fact that we likely wouldn't meet the neighbors any time soon. No one spends lots of time hanging out in their yard in the winter, and although we get out to shovel our driveway, I'd rather use that time to shovel and get back inside ASAP. The colder months are just not conducive to making new friends.

About a month ago, I happened to be standing in the kitchen when a vehicle pulled into our neighbor's carport. Through the windows, the passenger and I made slow, lingering eye contact. Naturally, I freaked out and dropped to my knees, then crawled out of the kitchen. Oh, did I mention I was naked? Eating a banana? Dignity has never been my strong suit.

Now that summer is here, people are starting to loiter in their yards. Yesterday, Beau and I were enjoying an amazing sunny holiday in our yard when he started talking with those same neighbors. After a few minutes of talking, I realized that our neighbor writes a blog. Actually, it's a reasonably well-followed blog. Crap. I hoped she never blogged about the naked banana lady.

In other news, we've been making steady progress on some house projects, and my parents are visiting. It took many trains and boats to get them here, because flying is for suckers. The weather gods have rewarded them with 4 four (4!) warm sunny days in a row. This must be a new record for Anchorage.

Mar 10, 2013

It calls me on and on, across the universe

Posted by Mary |

Although I tried to be vigilant about posting on my latest trip to India, my netbook ran afoul of Indian power fluctuations. The power source died in Rishikesh, leaving us with just my cellphone to connect. No good.

What was good in Rishikesh, though, was the shopping and massages and, oh yeah, breaking into the Beatles ashram.  One of the highlights of the trip, for sure. Before we got to India, I mentioned to Terri that the ashram the Beatles stayed at in the 60s was in Rishikesh. It's been abandoned for some time now, and is slowly decaying back into to woods. It's locked up and no one is allowed to go in, so I suggested that we simply find our way inside. Terri was game, so we set off down the road one day, in search of the Maharishi Mahesh Ashram.

We were staying by the Laxman Jhula footbridge. After breakfast, we headed down the road toward the Ram Jhula footbridge. The ashram is located on the far side of Ram Jhula, downstream from the bridge.Because it was early in the day, we actually got a bit turned around. We walked past the plaza that leads to the footbridge, and kept on down the road. You want to find your way all the way down by the footbridge and keep going downstream.

As you continue downstream, you will reach this temple. Keep going past it and down the road.

Eventually, the road will turn to dirt, and you'll come to a sharp S curve with this yellow gate. Keep going.

The sign for the Beatles ashram is confirmation that you are headed in the right direction.

Finally, the road sort of ends at this dry riverbed. The place straight across is occupied, and someone may come out to chat with you. I wouldn't recommend telling them you plan to go in.

If you turn left and walk up the river bed, you'll find the locked front gates on the right, about where those men and motorcycles are.

Locked front gate. You won't get in through here.

Ha! But I wouldn't bring you all this way without getting you inside, too.

Keep going up the dry riverbed, and you'll see this path off to the right. It's just past the ashram. Go up this path.

Keep looking to the right, and you'll see these two logs across a little side trail. If they've been put here to keep you out, chances are you want to go in. Climb over these logs and go up the hill.

Crumbling wall = success!

The actual ashram photos will have to wait for another day, when I catch up on my backlog of photos and posts. I wanted to get these directions up quickly because a friend has just returned to India for another visit, and may be trying to locate the ashram as well. There are many amazing things to see inside the ashram walls. Tip: As you climb the road inside, you'll start seeing meditation pods on the right. Once you get to the circle past the little guard shack, you'll see many more meditation pods on the right. Those are fun to explore, and have the start of the Beatles graffiti. For most of it, though, you'll want to head to the left from the circle and walk down the road. There are some amazing abandoned buildings there, including the Beatles Cathedral, which is about halfway down the road on the left side.

Jan 11, 2013

Heard on the train

Posted by Mary |

It's like gastrointestinal Thunderdome.
--Me, not sharing
more details

Gujurat had the friendliest people of the trip. Too bad Terri and I came down with mild colds in Bhuj, and I seemed to acquire a touch of the Delhi belly in Ahmedabad. I opted to skip the antibiotics and tough it out on the train.

After our travel companion suffered some transportation woes, Terri and I decided to change our itinerary a bit, and are now in Rishikesh a bit early. It's gotten very white here. There's a Cafe Coffee Day on the far side of Laxman Jhula, and I see more Westerners than Indians. We used to stand out for being white. Now we stand out for not having dreads and wearing hiking boots. I guess we just can't win.

Jan 3, 2013

Heard in Pushkar

Posted by Mary |

No marijuana. Just cake.

Pushkar is on the backpacker circuit, but I didn't notice this many special lassi shops last time. There's one on every corner. No, I have not partaken. I'm too busy eating Israeli food and dancing. We had a 2-hour khalbeliya dance class today, and will be doing another 2 hours tomorrow. Raki has asked us to come to her village for dinner tomorrow night, and then we must sadly leave Pushkar. Brighton heads home while Terri and I head out to Bhuj.

Jan 1, 2013

Random notes: Bundi and beyond

Posted by Mary |

  • Date and cumin pickle is delicious.
  • Also delicious: hot ginger/lemon/honey drink
  • No westerners seem to take the government Bundi-Ajmer bus, judging by the level of stares we got.
  • A health care worker chatted us up a bit, then gave us her bangles as she got off the bus.
  • My super-awesome Devanagari skills helped me identify the Kota-Ajmer bus and the Pushkar bus. Score.
  • This hotel in Pushkar has special lassi. And special juice. Special juice sounds gross.
  • The last rickshaw in Bundi was playing "Barbie Girl."

Dec 30, 2012

Beautiful Bundi

Posted by Mary |

We made it to Bundi. Not going to lie - sleeper class overnight from Agra was not great. We did get some sleep though, and all survived. The only casualty was Brighton's sleep sack, which apparently got left on the train.

Bundi is, so far, pretty amazing. We've seen more westerners than we did in Delhi, which is strange. The fabric shops are great, and I've already bought two lengths. I may or may not locate a tailor before we leave. Great restaurants, too, and a very relaxed vibe.

I also finally bought my first sari of the trip. A green, blue and white one called my name. When I saw the choli piece was green and white polka dots, I was done. Terri has asked me to force her to buy fabric and get a salwar kameez set made before we leave. I guess shopping is my gift.