helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Today I had the chimney cap fixed so raccoons don't crawl in and get trapped next summer like they did last year. While I had the contractors out, I got the external facing board behind the concrete front stoop (as well as the concrete front stoop) replaced. The board was rotten and had a hole in it through which mice could get into the insulation, and the concrete was crumbling in parts, so it was about time to get it done.

We did not, however, replace the door assembly yet, although that needs to be done too, and plans are underway. Aside from the fact that parts of the door frame are falling apart, the threshold is cracked and there's a hole in it where mice chewed it. The cracked threshold has been reinforced with wood and I will fill in the crack and hole with putty and then sand and paint it, but it really needs to be replaced.

The irony doesn't escape me that the threshold of the organizer of Walking the Thresholds and co-organizer of Crossing the Thresholds is cracked. Just to be on the safe side, we will have a new threshold by Thresholds.

helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
The new central air/heat system has a programmable thermostat that is set to recommended standard energy-saving settings. It didn't really make the ambient temperature that much warmer - just a few degrees. We also replaced all our light bulbs with cool-burning compact fluorescent lights. Our electric bill last year at this time was over $300. This year, August's bill was $150, including lizard and fish lighting and filters equipment. It would probably be even less than that if I threw out the obnoxious halogen lamp and replaced it with a CF lamp, and made sure to turn off any light I wasn't using. Maybe we can get the bill under $100 by next August.

A/C Fixed.

Jul. 12th, 2007 06:11 pm
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I came home to a house that smelled good and the temperature inside was cooler than it was outside. What an odd feeling.

Just in time for this weekend (sorry, no sauna party after all...)
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
As some may know, the A/C died last week. After several rather expensive attempts to fix it, I decided to replace it. Last week the heat wasn't quite as bad - it actually would cool down at night when there was a cool breeze from the open window. I had already missed a couple of days of work waiting around for the first repairman (who didn't fix it), and was annoyed that I'd missed two days of work for nothing.

I didn't want to miss any more work, so I asked [livejournal.com profile] rialian to hire someone and deal with the logistics the following week. He called someone to look at it, and we decided that it was old and trashed enough to get a new one. Because I'd already missed two days of work, and because the weather was still cooler than now, I asked Rialian to make the second (installation) appointment when he would be available. So... he made an appointment for this Thursday. What I didn't know was that by Monday, the temperature would go up 15 degrees... (hence, self inflicted - the Thursday appointment was my own doing!)

The temperature increased yesterday to what felt like 100 degrees. The humidity caused it to feel quite a bit hotter than it was, probably (I didn't check the actual temperature - I was too busy dunking my head underwater). We've kept the windows open, put tubs of fresh water for the cats, drank copious ice water, placed fans in every room, placed ice cubes on our wrists, and splashed water on ourselves and the cats. I'm worried about leaving the cats alone, or I would have slept elsewhere (there are several offers of places we could sleep). I told [livejournal.com profile] rialian to crash at the house of a friend who offered, but he didn't want to leave me alone in the hothouse.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Our sink got clogged yesterday evening. Not sure with what exactly, but it was situated above the main line, and it was a pretty tough clog. I tried to get it unstuck with a plunger and a wire coat hanger. After a few minutes of this, the water started going down. "Hey, it's getting unclogged," I thought. Then I felt water splashing on my socks. Oops.

A rusty area had developed in the J-shaped pipe segment under the sink, and had just succumbed to teh pressure. Water poured out onto the floor by the sink (and my socks). Rialian detached the corroded pipe segment and attempted to dislodge the clog with a small plumbing snake I have, but the snake wasn't strong enough for it. We sadly mopped up the sludge, thinking that maybe it would cost a lot to fix...

Then, while I was at work today, [livejournal.com profile] rialian went to the hardware store to buy a new segment of pipe and sealant, as well as a better plumbing snake than the one I had (which hadn't been able to get past the clog last night). The end result was, he unstopped the sink and replaced the corroded pipe segment himself. I don't have to spend several hundred to get a plumber out here or miss more work.

Many thanks to my sweetie... You are the best.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
My mom's life insurance check arrived in the mail. At first I thought it was some sort of ad. You know, the kind that say, "This is not a check - you may have won this amount" or "Get this amount as a rebate if you buy our million-dollar product". But it was not an ad - it was a check. After the initial reaction of "I don't want this money from the insurance company. I want my mother back", it began to sink in that I had a Check (TM). I should have kept my thoughts more of a secret from my house. My house knows when something like this happens. It always knows.

The week after I received the check, my A/C died a dramatic death. We found oil under the unit, and no refrigerant in the unit (we don't exactly know where that went, because there was no refrigerant under the unit). The A/C man who came by replenished the refrigerant for which he charged me quite a bit, but failed to find the leak. Five minutes after he left, the fan died and the refrigerant was down two pounds. We called him back. Several hundreds of dollars worth of tests later, he still hadn't found the leak. He was going to do some more tests, and was starting to recommend a new unit. I'd about had it with him. He was strange, slow, and possibly trying to get more money. I called him back and told him we were giving up on getting more tests. He called back and dropped the price on his new unit proposal by a thousand dollars, and offered to do the last test for free. I thought it sounded like a good deal. Too good. No dice.

So... Rialian hired another company who had serviced [livejournal.com profile] laurelinde's unit when it went bad. I wanted to get a second opinion. Of course, this one was even worse (money-wise) than the last. He gave me a choice - try to fix this one (if he could) which would cost about the same as the last guy charged, and give it another 5 years of life (maybe), or get a new one. At first I wanted to try to fix the old one. But then, the prospect of never having to worry about this ancient appliance again began to look attractive. He examined the inside unit as well, and also the furnace, which came with the house in 84 when I got it. It's probably around 50 years old. No parts exist for it outside of a junkyard (reminds me of Smurf). It still works, it's not emitting noxious fumes, and there were no holes that he could see in the coils. However, the coils were layered with about 2 inches of rust, dust, and debris, so he couldn't really tell.

Of course, he said, "I'll give you a package deal on a new furnace and A/C unit".

I have the money now. I may not have it later when the furnace actually goes, which also could be a dangerous thing. If I do it now that's one more thing I don't have to worry about. So...

My house always knows when I can do something like this. How does it know? How can it know anything - it's just a bunch of old wood and plaster. Or is it...?
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I'm currently cleaning out the room that was just vacated at my house ([livejournal.com profile] rialian and I had a housemate for the past 2 years). In it, I found a Residude.

A Residude is that which a housemate leaves behind when he or she leaves, including trash, smells, discarded materials, etc. This particular Residude included several 30-gallon garbage bags full of discarded packaging and trash, as well as a bag full of unwanted clothes, looseleaf notebooks, and other assorted items.

The bedsheets had not been washed in a long time (possibly for 2 years). We had to throw out the little futon that he'd been sleeping on, because it smelled so bad. We did some scrubbing and smudging and threw out the discarded junk and mopped the floor. The dust bunnies fought fiercely, but were vanquished in the end.

Still to do - wash the walls and windows, wash curtains, smudge again, touch up paint where it got chipped. Residudes usually last for about a week after someone vacates. This one was particularly stale/nasty though, so may last for a couple of weeks. Pew.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
We started noticing a smell upstairs in Rialian's computer room yesterday. I looked all around the room and found nothing. Then I sniffed where the upstairs vent is, and, well, pew.

We're guessing that either the mother got trapped somewhere inside the house and died indoors, or one of the babies died a couple of days ago. I left for work today without having found anything.

We found two more babies up in the chimney last night- and then they disappeared before we could get to them. They'll probably die too now. We were hoping to get them over to the rescue place, but this morning there was only silence in the chimney. Also, the smell upstairs was worse this morning. I'll need to identify where and how they're getting in and find the bodies (if possible - what if they're in the vents?)

I should have called animal control when I first heard them, but I was afraid they'd just kill them. I'd heard noises around the fireplace for a while, and I knew there were some sort of animals in the chimney. I sealed off my fireplace and they weren't bothering anything, and I thought they would get out the same way they got in. Wrong.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Roof and gutters are done. The caper was flawlessly executed, they escaped with the money, and nobody got hurt.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Last night we were admiring a newly arrived copy of "The King in Yellow" by Thom Ryng. [livejournal.com profile] rialian read the the hillarious introduction to the first edition and then the more serious introduction to the second edition (because by the time of the second edition, the world had taken a turn for the serious, and some of the contents of the play were scarily applicable to it). Presently, I wandered into the kitchen, whereupon I heard a sound I never want to hear: "OH DRAT!!!" [livejournal.com profile] rialian had heard a dripping noise behind him. When we looked behind the couch at the large window, we saw that water was dripping down from the ceiling (leaving a brown stain and puckering in its path).

The irony that we were looking at a Lovecraftian book when this happened did not escape anyone...

The last time I had a similar water intrusion was a very long time ago, but in the dim recesses of my memory I recalled that it had something to do with "the A/C ductwork". That wasn't entirely accurate, but based on that, I began to shop around for someone to clean the ductwork, thinking that dirt in the ductwork may have caused condensation to form (I don't know HVAC systems very well).

[livejournal.com profile] rialian and also someone at work informed me that it was probably the condensate drain line (not the ductwork). I hadn't had the ductwork cleaned in about 15 years, though, so I thought maybe this was a strong hint to just go ahead and get it cleaned, whether or not it was the direct cause of the problem. So I called the A/C people and told them to do both (and to service the entire system while they were at it). So much for my shredded pocketbook.

The A/C people are scheduled for Friday morning. Meanwhile, we will roast half to death, since we can't run the A/C or the ceiling will cave in. As it is now, I can repair it with joint compound, drywall tape, spackle, sandpaper, and paint. If it gets worse, I'll have to get someone to replace it. I'm wondering if I should wait till later to clean the duct work, since probably cleaning the drain line alone would solve the immediate water problem - but no, I was supposed to clean it every three years and haven't for about 5 times that long. It has to be done now so people don't get sick.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Last night it monsooned like I haven't seen in a while, maybe ever. The first step of the front stairs was completely covered in water. [livejournal.com profile] rialian was upstairs in his room when noticed some dripping sounds. When he turned on the light, he saw a giant bubble in the wall above his head. Luckily it hadn't burst. He placed a bucket under it and punctured it slightly. Apparently the people who had the house before me had painted over some wallpaper (or the water would have just penetrated the wall and landed on his head). So... Anyway, today he's calling the roofing people and I'm signing the contract (someone recommended by a friend). Not the guy I had for the bathroom. (I like him but ... no.)

So soon after the zombie bathroom, it was the attack of the zombie roof. I was hoping for a couple of more years to save up, but twas not to be. Now is the time, and the time is now. Good bye nice, peaceful, tidy yard. Hello huge, bum-ugly tarps and broken shingles and weird contractors everywhere. Hopefully this is really quick and easy and the contractors are ok.

The magical mantram of the day is, "In, Out, Nobody Gets Hurt."
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
A number of electronic and mechanical systems are failing of late. My computer printer died and had to be replaced. One of the wheels fell off of my push mower and now needs repair (the wheel wasn't a part that I assembled - it came pre-assembled and needs a special tool to repair it). Meanwhile I picked up a new one. My bike is finally repaired (it was broken to begin with, which was why it cost $18 at the thrift shop). My washer and dryer are making odd noises and don't seem to be up to speed, and will need repair. And the roof needs to be redone. Suddenly it needs to be redone now, because the tree guys dropped a branch on the gutters and made an existing situation (rotten gutter beam) a little bit worse. I'm not sure where I'm going to get this money after the Zombie Bathroom repair, but I guess I'll scrounge it up somehow.

The good news is, my new printer works with Debian - the driver was already there. Yay!
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
I was at getting some coffee at Starbucks and there was a slight wait since they were brewing fresh pots just as I arrived. As I was waiting for the coffee, who should walk up but George, my contractor who repaired the Zombie Bathroom™! He sat down at my table and we chatted for a while. I asked what brought him to that part of town, and he said his wife had just picked him up from the hospital, because he had been in an accident. Apparently someone had rear ended his truck, and their front end had slid underneath the truck. He doesn't know how severe the damage to his truck is, or how bad the whiplash is at this point (the truck is still at the shop). I was able to remind him about returning my key (I trust him completely to never misuse it, but he is a bit scatterbrained)... I mentioned that we still hadn't found a suitable medicine cabinet to put upstairs in [livejournal.com profile] rialian's bathroom, but that we'd be in touch (but not too soon, because I'm still replenishing the coffers, so to speak.) All in all, it was a pleasant exchange, but.... I am SO GLAD GLAD HE FINISHED THE BATHROOM WHEN HE DID, because if he had been still working on it now it would not have been completed until the year 2025. I did meet his wife, and she is a gorgeous scandinavian looking blonde woman. Wowzers. Now I don't blame him so much for not wanting to get up early in the morning.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
From Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets:

"The powerful enzymes secreted by certain fungi digest lignin and cellulose, the primary structural components of wood. These digestive enzymes can also break down a surprisingly wide range of toxins that have chemical bonds like those in wood. Such mushrooms can be classified into 2 subgroups: brown rotters and white rotters. Only about 7 percent of mushrooms are brown rot fungi; of those, about 70 percent are polypors. Brown rot fungi's extracellular enzymes break down the white, pulpy cellulose, leaving behind the brownish lignin (hence the name. These fungi cause checkered cubical cracking and shrinking in wood, which is commonly seen on downed conifer trees. Examples of brown rot mushrooms are:...

(insert long list of mushrooms along with their Latin names here)

...and dry rot house wreckers (such as Serpula lacrymans and Serpula himantiodes)."

One of the astounding things I noticed when I first removed the bathroom wall was that all the fiberglass insulation had turned to dirt. Not just crumbled insulation - dirt. I think they may be onto something here in terms of bioremediation.

Mushrooms have been used to restore decommissioned logging roads to a natural state. )
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Heh. They got it done.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Dag Frakking Gonnit and Bah Humbug. This contractor has got to be slower than plate tectonics. I've been really patient and positive toward him the whole time, really I have. I want to maintain a good relationship since he is an excellent and trustworthy guy and a good handyman, and I have a lot of little things that need to be done. I need to know a trustworthy person like him who won't rip me blind and abandon the job. I know he's been trying and has had a good reason every time there's a delay.

But Geeeeeze.

I contracted with him in AUGUST, and he's still not done and he keeps saying there's only about TWO DAYS WORTH OF WORK LEFT. Last week he was going to for sure attach the ONE LAST THING in the bathroom before the inside part was complete. The light fixture. But his electrician is even slower than he is, and has been a no show twice. So this week it's STILL NOT ATTACHED. It wouldn't bother me so much, but it's the LAST THING DAMMIT.

Then there's the outside. He said he would get the siding back up and the yard cleaned up LAST WEEK and THE WEEK BEFORE THAT, and THE WEEK BEFORE THAT (and so on). Instead, every time it snows maybe 2 flakes or he has a sniffly nose or his kid is sick or his father in law's house needs work, he stays home. Then yesterday, he finally showed up, and realized that some of the siding had become bent, so he had to straighten it out and maybe replace a few strips of it, so he STILL DIDN'T FINISH, has to come back today.

He left me a note (bless him, he always does when there's a delay unlike some contractors), saying they'd come back today and GET IT DONE. We'll see. If they do, so much the better. I've hesitated to post anything like this since I DONT WANT TO BE NEGATIVE about it, but, well, uh, so.

THEY BETTER GET IT DONE TODAY OR I WILL SLAY THEM IN THEIR TRACKS. And such. Probably not, since I want him to do some other odd jobs around the house. No wonder his reference said he worked for him for 15 years. It probably TOOK HIM 15 YEARS TO FINISH.

Ok, I'm back now.
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Today the contractor brought an assistant with him to help him with tiling... I guess that means that maybe by tonight I'll see some tiles on the floor, maybe even the walls. Having become extremely bored with the whole process I just accepted the first (on-hand and therefore cheapest) tiles he brought by - the floor will be tiled with small tiles in the pattern of a beehive, and the walls in plain off-white tiles. Nothing too interesting, but I don't really care about having an interesting bathroom as long it Smells Good and won't fall apart in a flurry of disintigrating zombie pieces for at least the next 300 years.

The ants are all gone - I guess they had been reanimating the bathroom, and realized their work here is done...

--Signed, The Nose
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Dezombification proceeds apace. I don't think we'll actually have a usable bathroom downstairs by tonight, but I saw the contractor today and he's closed up the gaping floor (I can no longer see the crawlspace now), and was talking about putting in the rest of the insulation, the walls, and new bathtub that he bought yesterday. This means he might be almost ready to reattach the sink. Thus will Sithreal's commode be restored. He likes to use the sink, which is easily washable. When that was taken away, though, he began to use the chair, which is not easily washable. Therefore I'm greatly looking forward to Sithreal getting his friend Mr. Sink back. I'm not sure when this will be completed, but he seems to be moving right along now. There's still a lot to be done with the house before its midlife crisis is over. It is approximately 70 years old, so after I'm done it should be good for about another 70. Right after this I'll have to have the crawl space and attic insulated (before winter of this year). Then I have to start planning for the roof and gutters replacement (probably next year), furnace replacement (putting that off as long as possible, probably financed through the gas company), wiring and light fixtures checkup, interior painting, floor refinishing and trim, laminate flooring for the upstairs, tree trimming, shed replacement, and repair for a section of outdoor piping (probably a couple of years after the roof).
helen99: A windswept tree against a starlit sky (Default)
Wellp, work has finally decided to crack down and ban all webmail from the server (i.e., I can no longer access my webmail from work). Will get to any incoming mail this evening.

Speaking of work, my side-job-:P materialized again, just in time to pay for the third and final dezombification installment, which should occur sometime next month. I have thus far paid for two dezombification installments and one property tax installment using reserves, insurance, and current income. I shall do this without dipping into equity.

So far so good...

April 2010



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