We met with Alicia of Color Tile this morning and reviewed plans for the bathroom remodel. It’ll be expensive—in the $2,000 range—but I have no doubt that the results will be a marked improvement on the previous bathroom walls, and it’s gotta be better than just leaving up sheet rock for the rest of our lives.

Alicia’s main installer guy, Darren, had a cancellation for next week, so -lucky us!- Darren can start on Tuesday. Otherwise we’ll have to wait three weeks to get the project going. The upshot of this “good news” is that I have until Tuesday (Wednesday at the latest) to finish all the work which Joe and I have undertaken to make the bathroom “tile-ready.” That’s going to mean some more demo work (Alicia wanted the back wall torn up and sheet rocked), more insulating, and obviously more sheet rocking. There’s also some nifty plumbing for the shower head which is probably pretty easy. You know, just like the nuclear physics and calculus equations I do in my spare time.

So I’m entertaining a palpable sense of dread as I stare at a deadline for doing things which I have no experience and certainly little aptitude. Joe’s busy with work, so I opted to give Dave the standard “good buddy, I need ya” speech, and, true to form, either it worked again or he’s a helluva guy or both. He’s driving up to Salem late tonight, and after a night at casa de Davison, he’ll help me pick up some more sheet rock and buy whatever items I need at George Morlan Plumbing or Lowe’s Home Improvement. Then we’ll have a few hours tomorrow to get done whatever we can before my 2:15 PM soccer game and before he has to jet back down I-5 to Eugene.

Matt celebrated his 30th birthday this evening at party with Ginger (of course), Dennis, Maria, Joe, Carol, and me. (Erin’s lousy cold prevented her from attending.) Matt and Ginger did a lot of interior and exterior house painting over the summer, and it’s added a remarkable vibrancy. According to Matt, it also took a surprising amount of time, something which I have no trouble appreciating given my very limited painting outside the new bathroom window at our place. If that project took me awhile, I can only imagine that a whole living room and a complete exterior must have been quite the endeavor.

The topic of home improvement segued into mortgages and the encouraging news that Joe and Carol converted their adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a traditional fixed mortgage. Because converting from an ARM to a fixed loan requires short-term financial pain, the vast majority of folks never have the willpower to do it, and in the long-term they end up paying dearly for their lack of fortitude. I mean who wants to pay, say, $850 a month in mortgage when they can pay $750? ARMs will always get you lower rates, but the trick is the “adjustable” part. An ARM at 5 percent today versus, say, a fixed 6.25 percent is a marvellous short-term deal, but in other few years after interest rates go back up the ARM might be at 8 or 9 percent (or higher—who knows?) and the fixed 6.25 will still be 6.25. In the long-term a fixed is the right move for almost every home owner while the ARM is a sucker’s bet. But the number is few indeed of those home owners with the courage and the willpower to make the change from ARM to fixed. So big-time kudos to Joe and Carol.

Conversation ranged well beyond these topics, of course, and one of the great things about these folks is you can’t help but learn an awful lot at every gathering. It’s sort of one of the perks of friends getting older, really, as they gain more experience and knowledge of the world, and you get to be the indirect beneficiary of their advances. So a hearty welcome to Matt, the newest member of the 30s club. As it seems to me, it ain’t so bad!