Thursday, December 18, 2014

Trim that tree!

I'm rather lucky when it comes to neighbors. Not only do I get along with them, they seem to get along with each other. Jack, the best neighbor in the world, lives across the street, but even he was a bit bothered by *his* next door neighbor's trees. I knew the two of them had been in negotiations over said trees, so I was not surprised when the sound of chain saws and wood chippers filled the air last week.


Unlike some people in my fair city, these two neighbors are not anti-tree. However, the branches of some of Sue's locust trees hung over the property line, dropping a shitload (ha! that word is recognized by spell checker) of fine leaves into his gutters each year. Also, recent wind storms had left several large branches hanging by a thread.


I thought the trees were coming down, but not so. The broken branches were removed, along with the lower ones that were behaving unneighborly, but the trees themselves remain, to provide much needed shade from the midday sun. I enjoy the golden leaves in spring, which turn green for summer, then yellow in the fall.


Most properties in this neighborhood are populated with silver maples, all of which are potential house crushers. Despite their height, locusts seem to be rock solid. A friend of mine had some locusts removed from her yard 25 years ago, and the stumps are still there.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

FINALLY!

I didn't sleep well the night before last, just could not drift off (damn that five o'clock cup of coffee), but since I am RETIRED, I made up for the difference by sleeping in. Consequently, I was still in my pj's when the contractor called to say they were on their way. Wha'?!? Per usual, the customer communication of this business had fallen short; *they* knew they were coming, so surely I would too, by osmosis I guess. Anyway, I told them to give me an hour (to shower, dress, and clean up the kitchen), and I'd be ready.

Yesterday's effort involved replacing the corner piece of counter top with a seamless one. The big wait was the lag time between the ordering and delivery of said replacement. The new piece has straight edges, not as attractive, but I'd rather have that than rolled edges with a seam running through the piece.

The week before, the paint-and-ceiling crew came and fixed one join in the crown molding that I was willing to live with but that really bothered the owner of the contracting company; he's tall and it was the first thing he saw when he stepped through the front door. The join is still discernible, but the light has to be just right and you really have to look for it.

So now everything really, really, REALLY is finished, at least as far as the big projects are concerned. There are many little things to do, but I can address them catch-as-catch-can. Oh, and I should probably write them a check, too.

Start date: April 9
Finish date: December 16

As with most major home improvement projects, I'm satisfied with the results, but it was painful getting there. Very few problems arose, though, a minor miracle considering how much work was done. I am a happy homeowner.

Friday, November 28, 2014

The decluttering continues

While playing with my new Nook Tab, I tested downloading books from the local library's Overdrive site, and wound up with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo. I'm about halfway through, and while I doubt I will start thanking my shoes for doing a good job or petting a coat as I hang it in the closet, I admit I agree with much of what she recommends.

In the course of the remodeling, I got rid of a lot of things. Some stuff went to Habitat ReStore, some to Goodwill, some to the landfill. The 20+ years of computer equipment is still here because I have this misguided idea that I need to copy everything off the hard drives, JUST IN CASE. I did buy a doodad that will allow me to do that, but I have not yet put it to use. Never mind that I have not even booted up any of those computers in over ten years.

Paper is the bane of my existence, though. Again, much of it has found its way out of my house via the shredder and the recycling bin, but too much remains. My desk has a file drawer in it, and my goal is to reduce the amount of paper in my life to what fits in there. Right now I have about four times that amount.


Just like the data on the hard drives of my old computers, I have not accessed a lot of this paper since filing it away. There are user manuals for things I no longer own, instructions for assembling furniture that was assembled right out of the box, outdated insurance policies, expired warranties, annual reviews from 20 years ago, certificates of participation for work-related seminars, an essay I wrote to accompany my application to an MBA program, etc. You get the picture.

Just like Kondo suggests, I handle each item and decide its fate. I've been working through the easy stuff first (see above), but there is so much paper, my brain tires from making decision after decision. Initially, I tossed user manuals for things I still own, but then I glanced through the one for the power screwdriver that died and discovered the rechargeable battery is replaceable. So now I want to save *all* the user manuals.

Slowly but surely, I am getting there, and hopefully will stay there. A couple of strategies help going forward. One is to not let more paper into the house. I do this by going paperless whenever I can, for banking, utility bills, and credit card statements. This leads to another strategy: if the information is available online, I don't need my own personal copy of it. Thirdly, I used to devote some time at the end of each year to winnowing the accumulation of paper over the previous 12 months. That habit needs to be reinstated.

I haven't reached the "magic" part of Kondo's book yet, but I do feel lighter, less burdened, as the junk clears out.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I lied. Again

The remodeling is not quite done yet. There were a couple of things that still bugged me, the worst being the kitchen counter. There is an almost-square section between the refrigerator and the stove, not very big but used very much because of its location. It is also a corner piece, and because I selected a rolled edge for the counter top, there was a big fat seam running up the middle of it, from inside corner to out. I had been told the counter top would have seams, and I thought that was just a cosmetic problem, not a functional one. Now I know better, especially after this particular seam developed a hump.

Eventually, the manufacturing rep showed up and deemed it fixable, but the fix is not 100% perfect. When a glass or plate slides across the seam, it bumps. If I had hired Joe Blow to install the counter top, I would have let it go. But for the amount of money I am paying, I want things to be as close to perfection as possible. I'll ruin them later myself.

I wasn't getting anywhere with the project managers I had been working with, so I went right to the top, asking the owner/president to come take a look. We go a ways back, as this company has done much work for me over the years. And he agreed that the seam just was not right.

So that part of the counter top is to be replaced with one that has no seam. This means no rolled edge on that section, but I would be surprised if anyone notices that. Once that is fixed, I can stop fretting and start enjoying my "new" house. (Fingers crossed.)

Friday, October 31, 2014

I vant to be alone

I may jinx myself by saying it out loud, but I think the remodeling is *finally* done. Today the counter top was fixed and the seams sealed, the underside of the house inspected (no evidence there has ever been water in my crawl space - good to know), this and that checked, and walls touched up. Not only does the house look great, but NO ONE IS EVER COMING TO MY HOUSE EVER AGAIN. Not really, but I am looking forward to some solitude. As soon as Halloween is over. And Women's Weekend. And the holidays. Maybe come January?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What a good cat!

Last night, with my butt plastered to the living room couch, I heard a noise in the dining room. I thought it was the cat doing something, but the sound went on and on. Finally, I eased over to see what was what. Finn was lying on the floor, perfectly innocent and perfectly OBLIVIOUS to what I realized must be a mouse in the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. Eek!

There has been the occasional rodent in the garage, but never in twenty years has there been a mouse in the house itself. The other day, however, I noticed some movement by the (closed) garage door and realized there is a gap in the garage foundation; the movement was probably Mickey deciding to come back later when the structure was not occupied. I keep a litter box in the garage because sometimes Finn likes to hang out there (I wonder why!) and I grew tired of finding cat poop here and there. Last night the litter box contained not cat poop but mouse turds. While I have changed to using clay litter in the house, the garage litter box contains the last of the Swheat Scoop which is made up of wheat which is apparently attractive to mice.

So I locked Finn in the garage overnight (with food and water), and this morning there was half a mouse on the step. Hopefully, that is the only one. Today I am replacing the Swheat Scoop with clay litter and blocking the gap in the foundation. In a previous lifetime, when I lived in the country, there were mice in the house, but you can't live in the country and be squeamish about such things. (There was a black snake that hung out behind the siding by the back door, too. Snakes eat mice - the enemy of my enemy is my friend.) That was a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Backyard habitat notwithstanding, this citified gal now prefers the wildlife stay outside!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Happy birthday to me!

The couch was delivered today. Fingers crossed it looked at least okay colorwise in the den, and it does. The cushions feel stiffer than they did in the store.


The mattress will not induce anyone to overstay their welcome, but it will be used maybe once per year, if that, so I'm not too concerned. A nice feature is the head of the bed can be propped up. The better to see the TV, my dear.


In other late breaking news, the deck repairs were completed yesterday to my satisfaction. And the countertop rep magically appeared today, to declare the countertop fixable. That means more waiting while they schedule that task. If I knew then what I know now about countertops, I would have made some different choices. Ditto bathtubs. Ditto just about everything that has been upgraded in my house over the past twenty years. Maybe I will remember some of this info in my next life.