Hashtags & Home Improvement (#150)

When I see hashtags, I think of home improvement. Maybe it’s because social media really took off the year that we worked on our new house. Suddenly # was no longer “the pound sign” on the landline phones of my youth (remember, I’m old). Instead, it became a marker that people used to look up conversations/ events on Twitter, or #CatsofInstagram.

Other people use hash tags to convey particular (usually snarky) emotions, or an action expressing disbelief. Like #facepalm, when reading any of Donald Trump’s tweets. About anything.

I found hashtags handy when hunting for window treatment ideas or paint colors.

Here my hashtags: #tiles #bathroomtiles #greytiles #pedestalsink #velvet #velvetcurtains #chandelier #chandeliersfromVienna

Here’s Andy’s: #poor

#fatsquirrel, living the good life.

Sometimes, hashtags don’t help you find what you’re looking for. Like when your new garden is torn up repeatedly by squirrels, and you look up #squirrel and find pictures of the fattest squirrels on the planet. And you think you might recognize a few, posing with peanuts given to them by the sweet old lady down the block.

Peanuts that you keep finding buried WHERE YOUR UPROOTED FREESIA BULBS USED TO BE.

My gardening hashtags evolved: #freesia, #gladiola, #holes, #whatisdiggingholes #squirrelholes #squirrelseatpeaches #squirrelseateverything #hatesquirrels

Andy hated the squirrels even more than I did. His hashtag: #bowandarrow

Sadly, no #fatsquirrels were harmed in the making of this video.

We worked on home improvements for over a year. Our weekends of dancing became weekends of paint and polyurethane. We did most of it by ourselves. Which didn’t bother me until various sisters of mine started posting Facebook pictures showing their DIY kitchen remodels…with their in-laws as unpaid labor. No, worse than unpaid labor. Those in-laws paid for the privilege of helping; they flew all the way across the continent, Eastern Seaboard, or just drove 8 hours to spend their vacations putting in cabinets and counters.

“Must be nice,” I muttered.

Andy looked over my shoulder and agreed. “Yeah.”

“Your dad is a retired engineer. But your parents never offered—”

“Thank God! Remember, I learned how to be handy around the house by watching my dad do everything wrong.”

I sulked as I returned to paint brushes and turpentine.


Home improvement took forever. There were delays. Missing toilet tanks. Our new dog in our new paint. A trip across the country to help my very pregnant sister in-law when she broke her ankle. A detour to Colorado after that to say good-bye to my dying grandfather. A week re-sodding and landscaping the backyard after a resentful doggie digging spree during my extended absence. A cat in the paint. A rat in the garage eating the baseboards, despite all the so-called predators in my house. The dog in the paint AGAIN. Or maybe it was glue. Or cement. Or all of them.

img_0898But one day, the work was done. The new sod had taken hold in the backyard. A new fountain burbled in the new landscaping. We had a new bathroom. The dining room had its new chandelier and curtains. Three-fourths of the house had new paint and matching refinished furniture.


I had lower back spasms on a regular basis. #advil

Andy had torn a meniscus in one knee. #surgeryawaits

We sat on a new swing (with a multitude of icepacks) and watched our dogs wrestle in the backyard.

I asked, “What are the travel plan this year? I saw my family already. Do you…want to see your parents? I know we have no money, but we might be able to use miles.”

Andy said, “Oh, um, no. No need to visit them.”

The sky got a little bluer. A bird sang above the fountain. I wouldn’t have to plan another trip. We could enjoy our new place for a while. Just the two of us.

We rocked on the swing, content.

For five seconds. Then Andy cleared his throat. “Didn’t…didn’t I tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

“Well, um, my mom already got the tickets. My parents, um, want to see the new house. They’re coming next month.”

Sometimes, existing hastags do not fully convey the depth of one’s emotions.

#Facepalm is not enough.

#Facedesk is not enough.

#Facedirt it is.

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

23 thoughts on “Hashtags & Home Improvement (#150)”

  1. I got distracted with the velvet curtains! My favorite remodeling story is when I painted a large bedroom a light yellow. My all black cat liked to sit on the windowsills in that room. I noticed yellow paw prints all over the house. She had climbed up in the wet paint then decided to do some redecorating of her own. #holycrap #yellowandblackgonicelytogether #don’twanttocleanitup #needadrink

  2. OMG. I hope it was latex based pain and not oil.

    Woofie would sneak into newly painted rooms, sniff the walls, and wag his tail, adding his own brush strokes (and fur) to the walls. Then he’d go wag his tail elsewhere — on us, on carpets, or Fey…

    One of our rooms was also yellow.

  3. Oh dear. The in-laws are coming. After all your hard work. That means… #Facewall. Or #Bodywall.

    Remodelling is a long slog, and for two people like you and Andy to do it alone, my hat’s off to the both of you. Hope the bodies recover soon and the two of you can dance as fast as you did once again…bit of a treat after all of that 🙂

    I have never remodelled in my life. The closest I ever got to it was ripping up some living room tiles in a rented apartment because they popped. In the end it was too big a job – all the other tiles started popping up too and had to call the landlord to fix it all.

    1. #Facewallathighspeed, maybe. 🙂 Landlords are useful things to have, though sometimes they don’t fix stuff as quickly as you might like. I’m pretty sure Andy’s dad wanted to come and inspect (i.e., criticize) our improvements, actually.

        1. You know, there’s enough of a narcissistic quality to Jay that I’m pretty sure he would never admit that Andy was better at anything. He can’t cook himself, but insists that he taught Sunny how to cook and takes credit for all her cooking.

          But that’s not how Andy remembers it.

  4. Autumn, I know exactly the pain of painting and decorating a house. My husband and I did it ourselves as well. I remember one time, some of my husband’s family were visiting and they kept saying ‘Wow, you know how to paint.’ Like you need a university degree or something to apply a paintbrush or roller to a wall.

    1. LOL. I had no idea painting was considered skilled labor, either. Although pulling the tape off after painting the trim can be tricky sometimes. Andy’s better at that, while I’m better at heading off excess paint that drips.

  5. LOL. I am so behind catching up with my online blogs and videos. Got this narrow window of opportunity now when the little one is asleep! You are too funny. I had a hard time understanding hashtag a year ago and bewildered the meaning of it. But I think I am getting better at using them on IG. sometimes, a bit too much! Glad you finished your remodeling!! You have a swing?! It’s our dream to have one. We just have a stupid bench in the front that the neighbor’s cat loves to sit. And the squirrel video is too funny! If Andy hit one, will he grill it? 😀

    1. Grill it? Um, no. Just, no. He’s only allowed to use nerf guns and the nerf bow and arrow. I don’t actually want to kill the squirrels. Especially since I saw the article on how it’s the female squirrels who do all the work while the male squirrels sit around and get fat.

      But if he did kill one, yeah, he’d probably skin it and truss it and roast it. And give the organs to the cat. Because food should not be wasted.

      I, meanwhile, will be eating pasta.

  6. Love your fountain and the banana plants. I can’t quite make out what the figure on the top of it is, though.

    On the video … your laugh sounded just as I would have imagined it, but I must have imagined the sound of your speaking voice a little different because it surprised me.

    When we lived overseas, we rented. (It seems that not all countries allow non-citizens to buy property.) At one point we bought a house in WA State. Then we went back to the Philippines and rented it out. When we returned, it had been trashed. We did a big remodel job, staying in a motel for a month and then sleeping on the basement floor for another couple of months. Our oldest daughter also stayed in the motel with us and helped with the remodel. One big job was ripping out all the baseboard and staining and varnishing new baseboard. After painting the insides of closets, I had a lot of trouble with my neck

    Then we went overseas and rented it out again. When we returned, it was the same thing. I have other remodeling stories, but I think this is enough for now.

  7. Hahaha very entertaining use of hashtags! Velvet curtains and a chandelier sound very lush 🙂

    For some reason hearing your voice surprised me too – even though I know you are American and live in America when I heard your accent my brain was like “she’s American!” like as though that was somehow surprising!

    I think this might be one of the few ways in which our in-laws differ – Peter and his dad are both massively into renovations and Peter always talks about how him and his dad could fix up any house we ever buy. Given house prices in Sydney are so ridiculous though I think a house is pretty much out of the question. We have our eyes on a nice new apartment overlooking a park – apart from the fact that it is, of course, overpriced I’m not yet sure if the fact that its 500m from his parent’s house is wonderfully practical or the worst idea ever.

      1. Honestly, I think it would be much the same as it is living a 10 minute drive away from them like we do now. They are not the kind of people to drop in unannounced so I think the only difference would be walking rather than driving when we or they visit

        Haha if enthusiasm isn’t backed up by skills that’s definitely worse than an unenthusiastic renovator who at least knows their limitations!

        1. Well, thank goodness they don’t drop in. Yeah, I can’t see much difference, either. And it would sure be handy if you needed an ingredient fast in the middle of cooking.

          1. Or don’t feel like cooking at all 🙂 Anyway, in the end, despite it being so close to them they advised us it was a bad investment (overpriced, not a great suburb) and I agree. So we won’t be moving in. The hunt continues…

  8. Haha to me, # was also the pound sign. I think they call it something else in England…

    Anyway, it’s funny that Andy is so handy because Z is visiting the USA now (for the first time!) and when I took her to Home Depot she kept remarking how handy Americans are but Chinese aren’t. She needs to meet Andy!

    I really hope we get another blog post about the parent visit… must be a good one.

    1. Oh, the parent visit is at least a month of blog posts. I survived by emailing my family updates and I kept them.

      Andy had to replace faucets the other day. I think it took three trips to Home Depot. Pretty sure they greet him by name.

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