Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I really need a male friend and a beer right now

The American male culture of not showing fear or other perceived signs of weakness may be emotionally stunting, but damn, now and then it can have it's advantages. I'm scared out of my wits right now, but if I had a male friend and a beer in my hand, I'd be cracking jokes and ready to dive right into the job.

Some backstory... we are renovating our kitchen, and there is this thing coming down from the ceiling (we are calling it a soffit, which I guess it technically is, although usually when you say "soffit" in relation to kitchens, you are talking about the part of the ceiling that comes down above the cupboards) that has nothing in it but a single recessed light (which might as well be on the ceiling proper) and a bunch of insulation. No ducting, nothing. We haven't quite figured out why anybody would have put it in to begin with. It looks safe to remove, so... we're gonna do it.

This fucker is coming out.
You can see the soffit in the picture to the right. Sorry for the bad lighting; the electricity is off in the kitchen (for obvious reasons). You can see the soon-to-be-former recessed light hanging out, and then a pole that I stuck up in there. I'll tell you why the pole in a second.

As I mentioned, the thing is stuffed with insulation. I had originally been anticipating a god-awful mess, a veritable rain of insulataion, at the point when I planned to saw the drywall out -- but then my sister suggested there is probably a crawlspace above the kitchen, and maybe I could shovel the insulation out first. So there is, and as intimidating as crawlspaces can be, on reflection I think that is the right solution.

So here I stand, with the crawlspace open and a halogen light shining into it, completely shitting my pants about going in there. It was bad enough opening the door -- I expected a gollum to jump out and bite my face off, or at the very least for a big pile of dead bodies to come rolling out and knock me off the ladder. The fact that I don't believe in monsters is cold comfort when you are by yourself, on a ladder, opening a creepy looking door that you anticipate crawling through in the near future.

It's a mess up there. To get my bearings, I stuck a pole up through the hole where the recessed light is, so I can see how far back I will need to go.

There's this weird perceptual effect... if I walk from the garage (where the crawlspace entrance is) to the kitchen, I would estimate the soffit is maybe 10-15 ft away from the entrance.
"Your mission, should you choose to accept it..." (The pole is circled in red)
But when I peer through the crawlspace, my estimate is more like 25-30ft!

If only I was holding a cold beer and had a guy friend here. That old male conditioning would kick in, and I'd just take a big swig and say (imagine frat boy voice here) "Let's DO it! Hell yeah!" But alone, beerless, and with no incentive to conform to a specific gender role... damn, this sucks.


  1. Never do anything involving a ladder alone. I once did, and spent 2 hours on my back with a broken pelvis, calling for help.

  2. Yeah, I was sorta worried about that. My wife ended up leaving right as I was going to start the job, and I didn't really have another time I could do it. I did make sure I had my cell phone on me at all times (of course I suppose that wouldn't help if I was unconscious...)

  3. Sounds like you survived, but... did you GET 'ER DONE?

  4. I thought about volunteering to do it for you. You are doing an amazing job with your remodeling!

  5. I did, indeed, "get 'er done." I usually don't blog about home improvement stuff very much, but I should probably post a follow-up to this. Probably soon.

    Long story short, it all went about as well as could be expected. Soffit is out, there was some insulation that still fell into the kitchen when I pried it out but not too much (it would have been a disaster if I hadn't dug it out from above first). The drywall is patched, though it probably needs some more work on the ceiling (I'm not great with drywall yet). The old recessed light fixture has been replaced with two new ceiling boxes, which now have swanky new pendant lights hanging from them. I still need to paint the wall where I patched it, and then there are lots of other kitchen renovation tasks left... but it's looking good.

    Last night I climbed back up in the crawlspace and pushed insulation back on top of the patched drywall -- this time with someone else home. I nearly knocked the ladder over crawling back out. heh...