Sunday, June 29, 2014

You know those weeks?

On Sunday, one of the faucets connecting to my washer sprung a leak. I tried tightening where the hose connected, but it appeared to be the faucet itself so I called my home warranty company Monday morning and they gave me the number of the plumber I was required to use. He wasn't available until Tuesday, so I picked the latest time they allowed, 1 pm to 3 pm. I canceled five patients and waited. Until he arrived at 3:10. As he was tightening the faucet he said, "Couldn't your hubby do this?" I said, flatly, "I don't have a 'hubby'." Not picking up on social cues he persisted, "Don't you got no sons to help you?" Again, expressionless, I said, "If I had known that was all it needed, I'd have done it myself." I forked over the $75 deductible and he left. Ten minutes later, it started leaking in earnest. I called again and he said he'd be out the next morning. See that huge plastic bin? Five of those were filled by the leak. I set my alarm to get up every 2-3 hours to swap out the bins. I was not happy. I was even less happy when I got home to find that although the faucet was replaced, there was now lots of water coming out the back of the washer whenever it was on.
A friend I've not really seen in a few years messaged me with an offer to help and I jumped on it. Saturday he came out and took the washer apart to do some troubleshooting. We had to run out and buy some teflon tape to wrap the threads of this valve piece, but as soon as the washer was reassembled it started leaking again. It hadn't occurred to either of us to leave the back off to see if that fixed the problem. Turns out, there is a crack in the plastic housing of that part, so I got on-line and found a replacement to order.
And then made us lunch and we sat out on the deck in the sun, talking. He'll come back when I get the replacement part and fix it for me. I'm moving into my second week with no laundry, which wouldn't be a problem if my son didn't seem to shed mountains of clothes. We're down to the last two towels and I've told him he needs to hang his up and re-use it or he'll be drying off with a washcloth.
I'm finding friends to be key in letting the little problems not weigh me down. One friend invited me over and made me salmon with a miso glaze, an apple and cheddar quiche and asparagus. Another texted Saturday afternoon to ask if I liked blueberries and peaches. Well, who doesn't? She'd bought some at the farmer's market that morning and brought over a pie she'd made from them, for me and my son.

Today, I tried to wire in a new dining room ceiling lamp only to find that the lamp wires are blue and red and the ceiling wires black and some indeterminate color and there are several conflicting answers on-line on to how to wire that configuration. When I ordered it on Amazon, I hadn't realized it was getting shipped from China and would come with absolutely no directions. I've put that aside and moved on to replacing the track lights, only to discover one of them was broken inside the box. My son and I hopped in the car to exchange it and look for shirts for him. The skies opened up just as we got to the store to return the light fixture. We ran in through a driving rain, getting completely soaked. Back at the car ten minutes later, my son picked my iPhone up from the puddle where it had dropped as we ran in. Let's just say it doesn't work like it used to. And I lost my credit card and driver's license in the process and had to come home to call and cancel the card. Of course, cleaning the muddy wet clothes will have to wait until I have a functioning washing machine. I told my son to give me ten minutes to feel sorry for myself and then we'd head back out to finish our errands. Turned out I only needed two minutes to remind myself that these are all inconsequential problems and, in the grand scheme of things, my life is pretty damned sweet.

Stay tuned...

I'm trying to switch to a comment system that allows reposes to go to emails and also stay here on the blog. I'm giving Disqus a shot, but it does mean you have to take a moment the first time to comment through their system. After that, it's automatic. At least, that's how it works when I comment on other blogs with Disqus. Anyway, they assure me they are importing all my old comments, so I hope that's true. I'll write a real post tonight and see how it goes.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I'm almost too busy to blog.

I got temporarily waylaid by one of those family betrayal situations that sends me into a full-on retreat. I don't want to talk about it now because I'm still feeling pretty bitter and just want to focus on the good in my life. So back to the house...
I can't even let a forlorn mailbox just be. The bent and rusty wrought iron post is firmly cemented into the ground so it would have been excessively difficult to replace.
But it could be camouflaged. I spray-painted the post black, detached the newspaper box (because I don't subscribe to our right-leaning local paper), bought a new mailbox and even painted the silver flag on it red. Seriously, everyone knows mailbox flags should be red. I planted a gorgeous pink mandevilla vine I found on sale and then discovered that it is a tender perennial and unlikely to survive the winter in my zone. I'm treating it as an annual and on the other side of the post I planted a purple clematis so it can be establishing itself through the summer and fall for next year.
On the deck, the former owner had an enormous cement planter with a boxwood in it. A boxwood. What a bland, uninteresting choice. I do not care for boxwoods and I felt no remorse as I chopped it down and dug out the roots.
It now houses a deliciously sweet-smelling gardenia bush. When I was packing up the basement I discovered I still had a bag of coconut husk bedding left over from when I had my pet python, Mike. Rather than toss it, I used it as mulch for some of the potted plants. It was the perfect place for my grandfather's smiling boddhisatva statue.
This yard is largely devoid of planting beds other than the ones immediately in front of the house and this one on the side around a dogwood tree. The previous owner wasn't a gardener and the bed was insanely over-grown.
I spent the better part of an afternoon digging up weeds from that one bed and chatting with my neighbor on the side of me. He is retired and tried to convince me that the tradition in the neighborhood was for anyone who moved in to work on their next-door neighbor's yard. This pile is the result of my labor. One of the results, that is. The other?
A lovely case of poison ivy. I thought I was being careful but when I stood up at one point, I saw where I had been kneeling a healthy crop of the wicked weed. My heart sunk because I'd been in that spot for about 45 minutes.
Oh yeah, it got me. Every part of me that wasn't covered by shorts, a tank top, sneakers and gloves has a rash on it. The exposure was over a week ago, and I've just now reached a point where it is starting to get a little better.
On the upside, I do have this beautifully weeded bed. I will likely transplant some of the things in it to more suitable locations and plan to expand the bed considerably. In the meantime, I've added some pink coneflowers. You see my next door neighbor's yard? He's a gardener, and I've been studying the way he's landscaped so I can design something that flows from it. More on that later - I'll be bouncing back and forth between indoor and outdoor projects.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Slowly coming up for air.

It seems so much longer than a couple of weeks ago that my younger son and I were having a final dinner out on the lake that I already miss. Everything has gone at a break-neck pace since. The movers showed up and managed to get my whole house loaded on their truck in just under two hours. The next day I closed on the house I was selling and headed out to do the walk-through on my new house. The seller, a very nice woman, let me move my things in before closing, since we couldn't schedule our closing until that afternoon. She told me at closing that she had obviously sold it to someone who would love the house as much as she did and that made her happy.
The same young guys who loaded up my things arrived to unload. In the garage, they were brought up short by the sight of the washer and dryer left behind by the seller, just as I was during the walk-through. I said I planned to keep my washer and her dryer and asked if they happened to know anyone who needed a set. One of the guys said, "Actually, I've been looking for a washer and dryer." I said, "Great! They're yours!" It seemed to take him a minute to believe that I was just giving him the extra set. But to me it was a win-win. He got a free working washer and dryer, I got to do something nice. What's not to like about that situation?
And what's not to like about this adorable little house? It's perfect for me. Needs some landscaping, but that's right up my alley.
First things first, I set about changing locks on the doors. You never know how many keys are floating around out there. This house has three exterior doors. I'll get to the door into the garage after I've had a chance to paint it - you'd have to be able to get into the garage to get to it anyway. But I started with the back door.
I went with deadbolts that have a keypad. No keys to hang on to and you can program temporary codes as needed. And yes, I'm aware that if someone really wants to get in they can just break through the glass.
Next up, the front door. It was originally a dark green and the owner had painted it white. Which is fine. But I like red front doors. They just make me happy.
I really loved this odd vintage brass door knocker with a sheep's head. Seems almost pagan to me. I removed it so I could paint, but there was no way it wasn't staying with the door.
I found a can of red paint in the garage and now my front door looks like this.
This go round there won't be a huge kitchen or bathroom remodel - I'll paint and so on, but I'm putting money into fixing things up that are dangerously outdated. Like the electrical system. Three fuse boxes, all with double-tapped fuses and crazy exposed wires running everywhere. Add to that ungrounded three prong outlets, insufficient wiring for the major appliances and an inadequate wire to the house. Conversation with a home inspector about updating the electrical system:
Me: "So it would make sense to swap out the fuses for those flippy things? That's the technical term, I believe."
Him: "Yes, definitely. Those flippy things are also called circuit breakers."
Me: "Or that. And then don't they make tube thingies to put the wires in?"
Him: "Yes. Conduits."
Me: "Either way."
I called an electrician for an estimate. They were here for the better part of two days, and put in a new main power line, a new circuit box outside, new circuit box in the garage, cleaned up the wiring system and put all the wiring into conduits. They also put a GFI in each room and changed the other ungrounded plugs to two-prong outlets. My house is now up to code. And best of all, they came in under the estimate! How often does that happen?
I have a lot of work to do, which I'll be blogging about as I go. But I have to say that when I have breakfast out on my deck, I am blissfully happy. It already feels like home.