The Colonel’s Plan – Lost and Found

August 22, 2018

Dear Daddy –

I found the missing tile! Ethan took apart my general purpose room, where all the tile had been moved last Spring, in hopes of finding a stray box. I checked the attics, went through every box of tile on the shelves in the basement (they were all labeled “Regency Blue”) and checked the closets and under the beds in the crib room—the tile’s first stop after sitting in the blue bathroom for all those years. 


I was beginning to get desperate. I searched for the invoice, which I thought I had, but I didn’t have it. You had bought the tile separately from the other fixtures. I assume you bought it from Lowes, because one of the boxes has “Vienna” written on it in black grease pencil (or crayon), and the Vienna, Virginia store was the closest Lowes when we moved here. I remember many late-night trips to that Lowes. Well, they seemed late-night to me when I was probably younger than eight. There was a Gino’s in Virginia. You refused to take me there because they didn’t serve milk. (For you, not me. I wasn’t allowed much carbonated soda growing up, but you never stopped me from having it on our rare visits to fast food joints.) 

I searched eBay. I searched Google to see if Mid-State Tile was still in business (they seem to be, but that did not help.) I considered making the guy who was selling tiles for $2.99 a piece a quantity offer on 100 tiles, but I wasn’t actually sure his tiles were VenetianPink. I’m not sure how you actually tell without the box or a color chart, and he did not specify. 

The largest lot of purported Venetian Pink tiles for sale was six, and they were $22. I wondered what it would look like if I put stripes of blue around the top and bottom of the walls? [I have since seen this done, in photos attached to a comment on last week’s entry.]

Then I decided to check and see if you had mixed and matched tiles in boxes. There was a slim chance, as some of the tiles were out of their boxes. 

I went back to the basement, where I had stored the blue tiles on the shelves in the corner of the front room. I found two or three boxes that were not sealed shut. As I began to clear detritus from in front of the shelf so I could pull them out and go through them, I spied one more Mid-State Tile box, in the shadows, on the shelf below the others. I pulled some stray desk drawers out of the way, pointed my flashlight at the label, and, lo and behold, it said “Venetian Pink.” We had accidentally carried one box down there and stuck it out of sight. (And, in fact, when I went to get it, I saw three more boxes behind it, their labels turned to the wall. One of more of those may be pink as well, but I only needed one case.) 


The pink bathroom has two walls completely tiled. I wish I had done more laying out ahead of cementing. I measured very carefully to make sure that the tiles fit around the tub, but, once I’d put the tile on the back wall, I realized I’d laid it out so that I had to cut tiles at both ends for half the height of the wall. If I’d adjusted, I’d literally have had to cut, like, six tiles instead of 30-some. Oh well. 

Most of the floor is done, too. I have to cut tile to finish the edges, and that can be done after the plumbing is in. My priority was to be ready last week for the plumbing, and I was. I discovered that the mosaic tile is veryhard to clean of grout haze. That’s going to be a lot of work. 

The green bathroom’s plumbing is done! Two sinks, a toilet and a tub/shower. Gary said he’d be back as soon as possible for the pink. Technically, the deadline was two days ago, but he said he’ll handle that. Now I need to hang doors for the green bathroom, so it can be used, and seal the grout in the shower. And there’s a little bit of baseboard tile to place. After that, it can be painted. I’ll let someone else worry about that!

Today, though, I’m building a run for the chickens. Last week, Gwendolyn, one of the legbars, jumped up and was perching on the top of the gate. So clearly we can’t trust them in the temporary run we built. I’m constructing one with solid, framed walls, which I’ll cover with hog fencing, seven feet high. I’m also going to roof it with wire. I know everything eats chickens, but, hopefully, I can give the ladies a measure of safety and a little more freedom. 

They’ve been molting, so the eggs have been sparse. And Jess said the last one had a very soft shell. I probably need to buy them oyster shell to eat, for calcium. And then I need to think about lights for heat, and to encourage them to keep laying as nights get longer. 

Is it really less than a month until Fall? It’s still very, very humid most days, and still incredibly rainy. The temperatures have dropped to the high 70s, but you can barely feel it for the humidity. 

Susan got some not-great news yesterday. She had had a biopsy done, and it shows she has endometrial cancer. The better news is that her doctor says the cells are very sharply defined, which suggests it’s in its early stages. She’s having surgery in the next two weeks to have her uterus and ovaries removed. Hopefully that will be the end of the cancer. This is the kind of thing I’m glad you don’t have to be here to worry about. We’re getting older now, too, and dealing with the consequences. I think you dealt with enough of those in your life as it was. 



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