woke up at 7am to drive my mother to work before going to the watertown home depot to buy some smaller saddles of the right size for the house. i came back to belmont to grab my father and went out to cambridge, where jimmy said he'd be there at 8:30 for the second day of flooring. jimmy showed up 30 minutes late along with sunny. instead of sunny just working solo, jimmy worked with him as well today. the first order of the day (apart from finishing laying down the few areas of floor that went unfinished from yesterday plus putting down the saddles) was sanding all the floors with this machine that looked like an indoor lawnmower. detail work along the edge of the walls where the floor sander couldn't reach was done with a hand sander. for underneath appliances, they had this machine that looked like a sanding pad mounted on a long rod. and for corners, they used a manual stripping claw with a blade that would just shave off layers of surface wood. when sanding was all done, they vacuumed the floors of all the dust.

i got lunch for them from zoe's again, they both ordered the vegetable chicken while i had the general gao's. sunny sat out by the front steps of the house while jimmy and i were in the backyard on the porch. we shared a moment, having a pretty decent conversation. i found out that he's from everett, 24 years old and recently married with a daughter, having done floors for the past 6 years. i asked him why so many floor guys are vietnamese, and he said very matter of factly, "because it's easy." i asked him about growing up in everett, and he revealed to me that he faced a lot of prejudices. i told him about my own childhood in belmont, how i hardly faced any prejudices, how in my class of 200 there were only a handful of asian people. he asked if i liked asian girls or white girls, and i told him, "jimmy, i like all girls." but that's actually a complex question which i couldn't elaborate on too much. i told him how i thought it was wrong to hang out with only people of similar cultures, that as americans we should embrace everything and everyone. i asked him about the large tattoo he has on his arm, and he told me that a friend of his tattoo'ed it for him a few months ago, took a few hours and "it was a little painful."

after our lunch break, jimmy and sunny applied a layer of clear protective sealer all over the floors. still not too sure what that's for, probably to protect the wood from moisture somehow, but the fumes the sealer gave off was like combining all your dry erase marker and rubber cement fantasies together into this thick, dense wall of intoxicating vapors. this is probably the most dangerous part of the job, not only from accidently passing out from the fumes, but the fumes are also highly flammable, and jimmy had us turn off the gas supply to the house as a safety precaution. even from outside the house i could smell the vapors, as well as the basement where the odor cascaded downward. i had to retreat to a corner of the backyard downwind from the fumes in order to escape the smell. they applied the sealer with a paint brush along the edges of the walls and with a long-handled cleanup brush for the rest of the floors. that only took 20 minutes to dry, so there was some downtime as jimmy and sunny sat in their van, smoking and making phone calls on the cellphone. after 20 minutes i could walk around the house barefoot, no trace of the sealer other than the still present fumes. well, if i ever wanted to get rid of those cat smells, i think i've finally done it by covering it up with the even stronger smell of wood sealer!

sealing was followed by a round of light polishing, making sure the floors were smooth and clean for the first coat of polyurethane protective finish. the polyurethane stage is the grand finale of the floor refinishing process. after you put it on, you have to leave it for 24 hours to let it dry. so jimmy locked the back porch door and moved all his equipment out the front door, and working from the back of the house, started to systematically cover the floors in polyurethane. after it was all done, the entire floor of the house was glistening as i watched from the window of the back porch door.

the guys started packing up their equipments into the van, that's when jimmy came running back to ask if we had a ladder. a ladder? "yeah, i left the car keys on your kitchen counter." and you think since they're professionals they don't accidently "paint themselves into a corner" but that's exactly what happened. i figured they'd have to step over the floor and redo those areas in order to retrieve his keys, but he went to the side of the house with the ladder and popped open the screen window which i thought was locked from the inside and possible to open from the outside but jimmy proved me wrong. once he was through the window, he sort of climbed onto the kitchen counter without touching the floor and came back out with his keys. we agreed to meet tomorrow at 9:30 for the second and last coat of polyurethane. not exactly 24 hours worth of drying, but i figure 17 hours is good enough. my father and i also turned off the electricity to the house, fear of accidental sparks that could set the house on fire while waiting for the floors to dry. i totally forgot about the fridge though, so i think tomorrow morning i'm going to find myself with some spoiled milk.

all day long, about 7 hours, i sat outside on my deck, occasionally going inside to inspect the work, but mostly just hanging out, reading, and taking some garden photos. my inherited perennial garden continues to impress me. a new series of unknown flowers are blooming. originally i thought they were pink colored speedwells, but once they bloomed, they looked nothing like speedwells. if i had to guess, maybe some sort of lobelia (bellflower) but i can't be sure. i also caught a sluggish wasp waiting out the early morning rainstorm beneath some hydrangea leaves. usually wasps will fly away if you approach them from the front, but due to the weather, this particular wasp stood virutally motionless as i snapped away. i found it's large compound eyes particularly amusing, like big cartoon eyes.

later in the evening i went to the middlesex mall in burlington to return some items with my mother and sister, as well as to show them the catalina couch at the la-z-boy showroom. without a doubt in my mind, that's the best couch i've seen thus far in my search for a good couch. i'm still in love with it. but being unemployed, i can't see myself paying for a $1400 couch, even though it feels like sitting on clouds and has oh-so-sexy curves and long legs. there are a few more furniture stores in the boston area i haven't visited yet, maybe i can find a close cousin to the catalina.