Monday, February 09, 2009

Still Alive... and Relatively Sane

Some of my family and friends are asking me if I'm "okay".. mainly because I haven't been online as much lately as I have in the past. Well… yeah, I'm okay. I have several projects going that are occupying my time and attention. BUT… I decided it was time to get on here and post a blog or two to reassure people that I'm still alive and relatively sane.

This will probably be a little boring, but here goes… Basically I'm working on three projects right now. One is family history research, another is "helping" Jay work on my room renovation, and the third is cleaning floor tile grout (exciting, huh?),

I have put some of my family research work on some web pages in my regular "Mommac" website. ( I didn't want to pay the extra monthly fee to make a separate website right now.) Here's a link to my main family history page. I just completed two related pages that I'm rather proud of. Letters to Lydia has letters that my great grandfather wrote to my great grandmother from 1907-1914 and related family photos from that time period. (I have the original letters!) The other is Edna Miller's Autobiography which has the Autobiography that my grandmother wrote when she was in ninth grade, with family photos from her life and some other "stuff". So, if you are inclined, go take a look at those pages.

I am going to put the information and photos from both of those pages into small books that I hope to distribute to historical societies in Southwest Colorado where they lived, not really for "financial gain" because I doubt there is much of that to be had from these sorts of books… but mostly for "posterity" and just because I want to.

I have a TON of pictures from my own childhood and one of these days, hope to write stories to go with them… And probably more interesting, stories from my teen years that DON"T have pictures to go with them. But that's down the road.

As for the room… You can see pictures and read about that on my other blog "Tearing Down Walls"… Jay has been working on it a lot over the past few weeks… I have been "helping" him, which at this point mostly means walking in there, standing around watching him for a little while, reassuring him that he's doing great, and asking if there is anything I can do. He almost always says, "No, not right now."… so it's a safe question to ask. Occasionally, when the drywall dust settles long enough for me to see the floor, I sweep and vacuum. (At this point, there is very little else that I can do.)

And now… about the floor tile grout. I saved the best for last. No, not really. I saved the one that I have the most to write about until last.

Background: About a million years ago when we put quarry tile down in the main part of the house we decided to use brown grout. We thought it wouldn't show the dirt like lighter grout would. Well, it doesn't show "dirt" but it did turn sort of a whitish color over time. I don't think it took too long either, because it seems I've been trying to rectify the problem for as long as I can remember. I have spent a lot of time off and on trying to make my brown grout LOOK brown. I have tried a lot of things… and most of them probably ended up making it worse. My most recent experiment a year or so ago was to mix up brown fabric dye and paint it onto the grout. After a couple coats, it DID look good… but it didn't last.

I think there are a couple possible reasons for the problem. ONE: I'm not sure we sealed it when we put it down. Maybe, maybe not.. but I lean towards not. TWO: cleaning products! Maybe the Pine Sol, or whatever I've used to clean the floor has sunk into the grout and caused the whitish look… maybe if we'd sealed it that wouldn't have happened. Then, I think… well, it looks like hard water residue.. but we have a water softener… It's a real mystery.. and I love a mystery and I am determined to solve it.

Background: Not too long ago I got a new type of mop that I really like. Now WHO gets excited about a mop? I guess I do. I liked it so well I actually got a second one just to have on hand for a "back up". I LOVE these mops. They have micro fiber covers that you can take off and wash. (I have three extra covers for them, so I'm never without a clean one.) They do a great job for damp mopping, dust mopping, or even WET mopping.

I started damp mopping the kitchen floor often…very often (with water only). It was so nice to use the mop I just couldn’t resist. Then I started to notice that the part of the floor that I’d been mopping so much had BROWN grout that actually looked brown. I had been damp mopping with water only.. no cleaning solution… Then, I really scrubbed one day with the mop really wet….. and noticed that soap bubbles were coming out of the grout! That’s when I started to think that maybe old soap residue was causing the whitish-ness. Sooooo my project, tackling the rest of the floor (little by little) began. I started my experiment in the dining area where I wouldn’t be disturbed. (Who uses a dining area anyhow? We use the breakfast bar.)

I couldn’t just mop it several times everyday (like I’ve been doing in the kitchen) because there was furniture in the way… I needed a process to get it done. (so I could put the furniture back).

It’s really quite a process, and not especially fun, but if I can make the white go away and the brown come back, (and STAY back) it will make me VERY happy.

I found an old cleaning product under my sink (from years ago) called Nutra Rinse that is supposed to “neutralize”. It says something about taking out alkaline… not sure what all that is about, but when combined with soak time (5 minutes) and a lot of elbow grease applied to a small scrub brush, it seems to work. Well, sort-of work.

I only work on about a 3 square foot area at one time… I soak it, scrub it, wipe off the bubbles and scum ,scrub again, wipe off more bubbles and scum, rinse it with clear water, rinse out the rag, get new water in the bucket, rinse it again.. dry it with a towel and wait for it to dry to see the results… It takes several times of the whole process on the same area, (about four times to be exact). It’s a good thing I have a good stock of old towels and rags.

I have almost finished the dining area (about 8 by 12 feet) and also in front of the back door leading into it. There are parts right now that only need one or two more scrubbings, but the first time is always the hardest.

I took this picture before I worked a lot more on this area. You can see how part of the grout is much darker than the part in the middle area. The part closest to the floor mat was done (and under it too) and about 2 feet around the perimeter was done. Other parts were partially done but I hadn't touched the part in the middle at all.

I have gotten very SORE and achy. I am trying to convince myself this is "exercise". The scrubbing is hard work! Not only do the muscles in my arms, shoulders and back hurt, the palms of my hands feel bruised from the scrub brush and my knees feel bruised from keeling on the floor. My solution to this is to do less each day, maybe limit my enthusiasm to only two three foot patches per day…(four times each).

Of course this WILL take forever.. I think I figured we have about 1,000 feet of tile floor. That's okay. I'll just make cleaning a little patch part of my daily routine. Right? That sounds pretty optimistic. I'll probably lose interest when I see the daffodils start to bloom…but for now… It's on my project list.

No comments: