That's how much I could pay for the install of the stand-by Generac generator ($5,000) and the install of the propane tank and gas lines ($2,000).
I went into this thinking I would use the electrician I've used for several small jobs over the years (he moonlights on weekends but works f/t at a generator company), so I didn't get any other bids for his end of the work.
But now I'm thinking, that's silly, because 1) he's not doing the actual work itself, and 2) he can't control my costs since it's not his company.
So I decided I would get one more bid for the electrical end of the work, since that's the lion's share of the cost. I found him on Angie's List and he has 59 "A" ratings, far more than anyone else.
He can't come out til next week, though, so this delays everything.
I now have 2 estimates for the gas line connection, although the one guy hasn't given me anything in writing, just a phone estimate, which is about the same price as the other guy.
Strategy: I will call the one guy who went to the trouble of showing up here, explain it's a "tie" between his price and the other guy's, and ask if he can do any better on the price to give me a reason to hire him. If I could save a few hundred on the price, that would be great.
I imagine the payback on this generator will be quite lengthy, but the peace of mind and comfort factor is really what I'm paying for.
A small payday
My paycheck this Thursday (I get paid weekly) will be quite small since I only worked a 3-day week.
Mouse in the House
Earlier this fall, I noticed some herbal mouse deterrents at Lowe's and picked up 3 of them. Nothing to lose by trying. I put them in the areas of the basement where I think Luther catches his mice and until last night, they appeared to be working.
I was watching TV in bed when I heard a telltale squeak. Or was it coming from the TV? I got up and walked all around, looking for Luther, and finally found him in my upstairs bathroom. The poor mouse had climbed up the vinyl shower curtain and was clinging to it precariously. Luther didn't know where it went and was nosing around.
I quickly ran downstairs to the basement where I knew I had an empty cardboard box. I came back up, hoping the mouse was right where I left it. It was. I quickly tapped on the other side of the shower curtain while holding the box up on the side where the mouse was, and it landed perfectly in the box.
I released it outside. That was one of the lucky ones. I blocked the cat entrance in the door to the basement so I could get a good night's sleep without worrying about more live mice.
Once I get this generator, I hope it will be the last pricey home improvement I make for a while.
There are other things I know I will do that aren't quite so pricey.
1. Beef up my attic insulation.
2. I would at some point like to replace my wood garage door. I remember everyone was trying to persuade me to go with a metal door, but no, I liked the look of wood better, but 13 years later, the door looks kind of like an eyesore as moisture/rain/snow has wicked up through the wood and warped the plywood panels in the carriage door style door.
Of course, I've always wanted a new kitchen, but that's such an expensive, overwhelming and disruptive project I have no desire to do it now. I have white laminate cabinets and some kind of manmade counters and it's too much white for me: white cabinets, white counters, white backsplash. Everything's a little worn around the edges, but perfectly functional.
The walls in the downstairs: I would love to get new drywall walls in here, another major disruptive project. This is an old house and old beaverboard (precursor to sheetrock) had layers of wallpaper PAINTED OVER. That's why the paint keeps coming up and cracking. The wallpaper was never removed. It's a mess and there's no use repainting as it only lasts a few years and then it cracks again. I will have to address this at some point.
The upstairs hardwood floors could really use a refinishing.
I would love to replace my upstairs bathroom cabinet, another laminate type job and part of the trim is coming off (tried gluing it back on already). But I have a pocket door opening to that bathroom and I can't even imagine getting a new cabinet in there, or the old one out.
My front door: It's narrower than today's standard width. I think it's just 30 inches wide and getting stuff in and out, like furniture, can be a challenge. I'd love to get a new door and wider opening.
Archive for November, 2017
That's how much I could pay for the install of the stand-by Generac generator ($5,000) and the install of the propane tank and gas lines ($2,000).
Leaves & Hornet Nest
I ran the mower over leaves on the lawn for about a half hour to mulch them. The lawn looks better than it did before.
Dad came over and he admired the big gap in the tree line, as well as a humongous hornet nest that's now clearly visible about 12 feet up in my viburnum, before we went to lunch at an Italian place.
Dad's going to bring his branch cutter pole, the kind where you can reach way up high, to see if I can get that hornet nest down. I think it would look nice on my dining room shelves. If we get it down, I'll put it in a plastic bag and close it before bringing it in the house, to make sure the warm air indoors doesn't cause any hornets to hatch.
According to National Geographic, only the queen and her eggs survive the winter, and they apparently shelter in other locations, not the nest.
We had a young, inexperienced waiter at the restaurant. We had a very long wait to get our meals, even after the other table of people, who arrived after us, and then he brought out my dad's meal first; my meal came about 15 minutes later. Then when he was clearing our plates he spilled the shrimp shells from my dad's dish right beside our table and never did clean up the 4 or 5 shells so when we got up to left, we had to avoid stepping on them.
I did 2 loads of laundry today and vacuumed 3 levels, due to possible flea eggs, including the basement, since the cat goes down there.
Sunday shopping plans:
Tomorrow I plan to:
1. get a haircut with coupon
2. get gas
3. go to lowes for 1 or 2 6-packs of LED light bulbs
4. go to walmart for cat food and peruse the sales
5. hit Aldi's for groceries
6. stop at the craft show on the way home
I browsed a few websites online more out of curiosity than anything else and idly thought about getting a food processor, but some bad reviews about food getting stuck inside certain parts and then turning moldy turned me off.
I try to use a blender for most things but if it's not that liquidy it doesn't work well; it's just not powerful enough to turn drier food around. So I chop most things manually. I would use a processor for certain things like coleslaw, for instance; cabbage takes forever to chop finely.
I've been in a bit of a decluttering state of mind lately. Last weekend, I brought 3 strands of Christmas lights to Lowes for recycling. I tried selling them briefly on Facebook, but after the woman who showed up to buy them declined to do so after realizing the price was $5 for each set, not $5 for all 3 (I mean, c'mon), I decided it wasn't worth the bother to try again. Now I have a pair of heavy navy blue clogs I want to dispose of.
Bought these Dansko clogs in 2010 because I really needed navy shoes for a new job, but have rarely worn them. Guess I'm no longer a clog type of person, though I loved them in high school. They're just so big and heavy. I paid over $100 for them at a pricey store because they were the only pair of navy shoes for miles around. They will last someone for decades, I'm sure, but they do have small scuffs on the toe. I fear they won't sell with those scuffs and the only way to fix that would be to buy blue shoe polish which again makes this probably not worth selling as I'd only ask $15 for them. So they will be donated...I hope Good Will doesn't toss them.
I do have a simple glass aquarium I'll try to sell for $9, about as much as I paid for it 2 summers ago to raise butterflies in. I now prefer netting over tomato hoop cages to the aquarium, which can heat up pretty quickly and doesn't have as good air circulation. So will try to take pix and post tomorrow. I figure now's the time to try to sell anything as people are in the buying mood.
I spent an enjoyable 3 hours sitting in a decrepit room at the ASPCA "socializing" 3 kitties recently rescued and brought to the shelter.
These kitties have beautiful markings and are all females. The male sibling was adopted. The longtime volunteer there who helped me adopt Waldo and Luther sat with me for a good while talking and catching up, and I met another nice volunteer there too. My volunteer very kindly gave me a Capstar flea pill, and the snack treats to put the pill in. I didn't ask for it but do appreciate it.
If I had thought of it, I would have taken the kitten pictures to show you! The shyest cat, a gorgeous tabby, was the most energetic when chasing my string; she was really like the Energizer Bunny. Yet she would scamper when I tried to touch her. The other 2 were a bit more friendly.
Their mother is there too, but not doing as well. She's been to multiple vets and they aren't really sure what's wrong with her, but she has chronic diarrhea, is extremely bloated and is acting listless. The volunteer thinks it could be dead worms blocking things up. She's been dewormed several times already. The mother, found in nearby city where I used to work at the bank, was killing and feeding dead rats to the kittens as they found several carcasses around.
Reminds me of the North Korean who ran to freedom recently. He also had tons of internal worms because the country is so poor, they say, they can't afford to buy fertilizer and fertilize their fields with human excrement.
I researched the Capstar when I got home and see that this pill kills fleas very well, but only for 24 hours. So to maximize what you get out of it you should be ready to vacuum and launder at the same time. And I would spray inside the house again too. I don't want to use it immediately as I just Luther him the Revolution, even though she said it was ok to do so.
I gave Luther the Revolution yesterday; he is still scratching and I am still finding live fleas on him.
Aside from time spent at the animal shelter, I didn't do too much today. I did spend over about an hour cutting back vines engulfing some dogwoods in the brushy area in front of house, now somewhat more accessible after the big white pines were taken down. In fact, I thought there was only 1 dogwood in there and I saw 3! I also blew leaves off the driveway and filled the wheelbarrow with leaves 3 times.
Our town did their revaluation and my assessment went up by $20,000. I checked the details the assessors have for my house on their website and everything is correct. In fact, my central air was installed shortly after they paid a visit so they did not catch that. I would like to challenge the assessment but I have nothing to base a challenge on.
I did also do a little bit of editing for my one remaining freelance client. He's still job hunting and likes me to edit his cover letters and resume.
I'm looking forward to 4 days of bliss and no work. That's right, 4 days. I learned today that after mentally coming to terms with having to work on Sunday, my manager said I don't have to come in. The others, though, who are working Friday and Saturday, will still have to go in.
I'm trying not to plan too much or add to my to-do list. Probably the thing I most want to get done aside from household chores is get rid of the cut up logs in front where they took the trees down; I'd like to clear away some of the debris while the leaves are off the shrubs, it's not too cold and there's no snow on the ground. Come spring, the brambles could grow back and again make things impenetrable.
I also have a fair amount of cooking to do but I will be spending the big T-Day alone. It still seems dismal but I'm trying not to think about the many Thanksgivings spent with family. All those family dinners over the holidays was just something I took as a given, and I never thought too much about how, one day, being single with no kids and after watching my grandparents die and now my mother, that I would be spending this day alone. I'm sure those of you who are married with children could never imagine anything more depressing, because I can't.
I asked dad last week if he was having dinner at my sister's; I assumed he was but he said she didn't say anything. He doesn't really seem to care that much one way or the other. He's always been like that, which mystifies me. One year he went to my half-brother's for the holiday and he was disappointed because bro's wife, who is Chinese-American, doesn't cook much and they ordered catered food which just wasn't the same.
I thought about volunteering at a homeless shelter or similar type place, but decided I'd rather just stay home than be with people I don't know.
I am going to cook a nice meal for myself, as if I were having company over and put the Macy's Day parade on TV, the way my grandfather always watched it every year. He grew up in the city so I guess it meant more to him, but memories of the TV being turned on to the parade every Thanksgiving are burned into my brain and it feels nostalgic now.
I could have invited myself over to my cousin's in New Jersey, as I learned that she, too, is staying home alone tomorrow. (Her husband died of Parkinson's around the time my mother died 2 years ago.) Last year if you recall I spent Thanksgiving with her and she went all out to make a big traditional dinner for just the 2 of us, and I realized it must've been a ton of work for her when she probably would have rather not done it. She works full-time and never seems to have enough time and what time she has she devotes to multiple cats and dogs in her home. She is always rescuing animals.
I didn't want to burden her with that and to be honest, I didn't feel like doing the drive (1.5 hrs x 2) and most especially, I would feel really bad leaving Luther alone for yet another long day when he spends so much time alone as it is. I could have also invited myself over to my friend R.'s, who goes to his niece's with other family members and makes up a group of 5. (Both he and his sister are divorced, no kids.) His niece has 2 daughters.) I have done major holiday dinners like Easter with them more than once but I don't want to intrude on their own family thing too much and don't want to appear pathetic.
I will make 4 or 5 phone calls to family and friends tomorrow to say hello, but that's about it. I'll browse Black Friday deals on Friday, see Dad on Saturday and maybe catch a movie and get a hair cut at some point.
Actually, it was dark when I was writing this so I don't have an "after" from my front stoop, but suffice it to say it's all very open now. Which of course I was expecting.
This is looking up at my house, which is now suddenly very visible from the road...
This is the view from the road. Now there's a large gap in the woods fronting the road. Doesn't look great, but it will grow back quickly in spring and I won't have to worry about large pines falling on my house.
Yep, I have a new view on things, from my front door. Suddenly, I can see the starry sky at night and during the day, the less attractive view of my neighbor's house across the street.
The tree crew hired by my town took down the 3 giant white pines, all in one day. Amazing.
I came home from work last night in the dark but even then I could easily see the yawning gap where all those tree branches used to be.
I already have some ideas about obstructing the view of the neighbor's house with some new tree plantings, but not those that will grow 100 feet tall or get in the way of the power lines.
I have a smallish (about 5 feet high) viburnum I transplanted to a bad spot in my backyard. I've wanted to get it out of that place, and now I could find a place for it under where the pines were. It will only get a max of 15 to 20 feet high.
There is a preexisting paper birch that sprang up a few years back in the stump of a black locust tree, another giant tree I had cut down becus I felt it was dangerous. I'm glad I let that birch stay and grow where it was, because it happens to be perfectly positioned to obscure the neighbor's front door, at least when it has leaves on it. I also have a Japanese black pine I planted 22 years ago, but its kind of bonsai-ish with a lanky appearance and not a whole lot of branches.
I had asked the tree guy yesterday before leaving for work if they could try to spare the dogwood choking in the undergrowth under the canopy of the white pines. He didn't give me much hope and I understood; the tree cutting was taking place right there.
The dogwood still stands, and it's cleared enough so I can hopefully get in there and cut back remaining vines.
The other bit of good news is that there was another dogwood, on my driveway, which they had said last summer would have to go to make room for their cherry picker to drive on the lawn and access the white pines. The dogwood is still there! It's been ailing for years, but it still blooms each spring.
The only damage done was to a trio of evergreen trees (not white pine) that I call The 3 Sisters. The smallest one to the right got its crown nicked, which is now hanging from where it broke about 6 feet from its top. It's too bad it happened, but all things considered, I guess I'm ok with that. It if it was one of the bigger ones, I'd be more upset.
They flattened the area where the white pines were pretty well, and cleaned up all the debris, but they did leave a bunch of old logs from where a tree fell a few years ago. At the time, I figured I'd just let them rot in the overgrowth, but now they're kind of an eyesore and I will have to try and dispose of them.
The time to do it would be NOW when it would be most accessible, and when the poison ivy is dead, tick activity is low and so on. I hate to spend money paying someone to do it since they always overcharge, but since I have a few days off this weekend, maybe I could borrow my dad's truck. The transfer station will charge you $20 for a pickup truck full of cut logs, which is not too bad.
The tree crew has arrived with their big bucket truck to take down 3 approximately 100 foot white pines growing along the roadside. I am very happy they're here . I'm sure it will take at least several days to do the job, and right now I'm hearing the chainsaw but they're probably just using it to get to one of the big white pines; there's a lot of overgrowth in that area.
I spoke briefly to the burly handsome owner. He doubts they could work around a dogwood in the undergrowth which is in the path of where they're working. I can't have everything, I guess.
They will be on my driveway with their heavy truck but will put down some sort of pads that hopefully will protect it, as it was newly paved last year.
I would like to be around to watch the activity, but have to go to work soon.
As for the generator, I have a price for a small, 7500 watt Generac (top brand) that, with all the little incidentals, should come out to about $5,000, but that's not including the work by propane company to install the line to propane tank and the tank itself.
I have the propane guy coming out this Wednesday before I leave for work to give me a price on that.
If I get annual servicing on the generator, I would be paying $353 a year for that; they said some people have servicing twice a year! I don't think it should be needed on a brand new unit, but what do I know.
Enough money was repaid to me in Kiva loans that I was able to make another $25 loan. This will be to a woman in my 7th country, Lebanon.
Fatmeh is a 41-year-old widow who lives in an undeveloped area with her only child. After the death of her husband, she became the sole income provider in the family. She took on all of her husband's responsibilities, and works hard to pay the life expenses. She started her business in selling clothes. She can’t rent a small shop in her town, so she visits her clients in their homes to sell her merchandise. Today, she is requesting a loan from Kiva's field partner Vitas s.a.l. to register her daughter in school and pay the first installment. She said that by contributing to this loan you will surely help this hardworking woman to enhance her way of living.
Other countries I've loaned to include Armenia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Moldova, Palestine, and Uganda. I usually focus on women, either widowed or single parents, those looking to further their education, build a "green" business or improve basic hygiene like putting in a latrine/toilet. I figure these are the people who most need my help.
I went out to lunch with dad yesterday, and the waitress who works there and at another restaurant waited on us. We've seen her many times before. Somehow we got on the subject of my new job and after I mentioned it was "pharma," she mentioned a friend of hers was looking for a job in that field. I gave the waitress my email and said if her friend wanted, she could send me her resume and I could see if they could use anyone like her at my office.
I've traded a few emails with the woman already. She did send me her resume and I will follow through tomorrow and also give it to my friend the recruiter. The woman is single, in her 50s, and confided she can't make her mortgage, has no savings or IRAs and her dog just got diagnosed with cancer. She lives in my town. I was surprised she was having trouble finding work as she has a very solid resume as a project manager.
I felt I was getting drawn into her tale of woe, and I just wanted to make sure her story was legit, so I googled her name. Once I did that, I think I understood why she couldn't find work. Ranking pretty high in the search results was an article in an area paper, dating back to 2010(!) saying she was arrested for DUI.
Employers always do background checks. I don't usually think twice about it since I have nothing to worry about, but I imagine a DUI, even an old one, might give some employers pause. I'm sure she was punished enough by having that go public in the paper, and it appears that was a one-time thing (of course I don't really know). But it's a shame that one bad decision can affect your livelihood for years to come. Of course, if there was someone in my family hit by a drunk driver, I would have no sympathy.
Two does and their fawns this morning. Note to self: Finish fencing off rhododendrons and mountain laurels!
I am so happy...I don't have to work on Saturday after all. A client changed course or something. However, I may have to come in to work the Sunday after Thanksgiving, which kind of sucks since I was so looking forward to a long holiday weekend.
Ahhh, the weekend is here. Today was a long day. I prepped all morning for my bank interview. There are certain unexpected questions that have tripped me up in the past. I wanted to be sure I could respond seamlessly.
It was a 2-hour interview with 3 people. I think I did fairly well, no major gaffes, and the job surprisingly seems like a pretty good fit for me. I had initially given myself a 50/50 shot at even getting an interview; now I feel they'd be nuts not to hire me!I have 80% of what they're looking for: outstanding writer, strong background in financial services, even prior banking experience, and tons of experience writing all kinds of print and digital stuff. They're even wanting to start a new corporate blog, which I would own; this is right up my alley. They're also going thru a rebranding, and I also have a lot of experience with branding in my other bank job. So it would see to be a really good fit for me.
I guess we'll see what happens. If I get this job, not only will it get me out of a bad situation at my current job (long hours and work environment similar to a bull pen at the NY Stock Exchange), but it would also get me into a quality, affordable health plan, just in the nick of time (before my COBRA expires). To accomplish all that smack dab during the traditionally slow jobs market during the holidays would be truly awesome.
So I got out of the interview a little after 3 pm, feeling pretty drained, and then I had to drive back to work since I offered to do that. I didn't want to make it obvious I was on a job interview, so I had brought a chance of clothes with me, but I didn't want to waste time running into a fast food place to change, so I just pulled into a parking lot (ironically, it happened to be a branch of the bank where I interviewed), and just changed into my blue jeans in the car, and that was that.
I put in 3.25 hours at the pharma job and then left for home at 6:45 pm, hitting the usual nightmare interstate traffic.
My to do list is not too bad this weekend. I hope to discuss my generator with the electrician; his price, I thought, was reasonable, but I also have to get a plumber to do some work related to it. I have to tally up all the incidental costs and sales tax; it still might add up to about $5,000 when all is said and done.
Now I'm being asked to come in on Saturdays for the next few months. So I just cancel all family/personal plans for the foreseeable future? The owners are happy because they landed a few big accounts/projects. There's a lot of work. Hard to say no when every other employee is coming in. If you refuse, you stand out like a sore thumb.
Sure, they want me to be "flexible," but are there any limits? Does it work both ways?
Meanwhile, another employee went off to an out-of-state wedding over the weekend. She was supposed to return to work yesterday, but word had it that her flight was delayed. Then, when her flight did arrive here, she chose to go home instead of coming directly to the office and decided to spend the rest of the day at home. Others in the office were whispering, she's in deep trouble. (Roll of the eyes.)
My manager told me these are the kind of hours agencies typically work. Um, no, I've worked for 3 agencies before (a marketing agency, a PR agency and a strategic consulting firm), and none of them had hours like this.
Regrettably, I only learned I would be asked to work all day on Saturday AFTER I volunteered (feeling a bit guilty about the job interview) to come to the office after the interview ends Friday afternoon, probably around 4 pm. I would not have chosen to rush over there post-interview if I knew I'd be there Saturday.
Is anyone else enjoying "The Durrells" on Masterpiece Theater? Raising your family on a charming Greek island sounds so....idyllic.
Yesterday I finally got the info I needed to dispose safely of the rest of my spent smoke alarms. Most were my mother's. (She kept everything.) They have a small amount of radioactive material in them so they should NOT be thrown in the trash. Nor does my town household hazardous waste event accept them for drop-off.
Each smoke alarm maker only accepts their own brand back for recycling. So I had to track down and call 5 separate companies. So I have 3 packages to mail off today and then I'm done with that particular chore. I wanted to do the right thing and unlike a lot of my mother's stuff, this was one item I knew I could part with.
I also ascertained that my Kidde kitchen fire extinguisher is NOT on the recall list. If you have one, be sure to check their listing of recalled fire extinguishers and/or call them. It applies to extinguishers sold decades ago, so don't think because yours is old that it's not on the recall list.
Yesterday early before work the electrician I use came over to have a look around with the aim of installing a stand-by generator.
I told him I'd calculated wattage of the key items I'd want working during a power outage (furnace, fridge, microwave, TV, computer) and it came to just 5,000 or so kilowatts. I believe the smallest generator they sell is 7500 watts so that's all I think I need and I don't want to pay more for something that's going to deliver 100% power during an outage. However, that's what he initially tried to tell me I should do. Which disappointed me a little because my past impressions have been that he's very honest. I'll be curious about what price he comes up with.
One thing I'm not crazy about is adding yet another "system" that should have annual maintenance. So far I've got the furnace, furnace humidifier and central air now, all of which should be tuned up annually. Actually, I cleaned my humidifier myself and just ordered a replacement filter for it. The problem is, you only look at these things once a year so you tend to forget actually what steps you should take. But I'm trying.
The furnace I can't do myself, of course. I almost always pay for an annual tuneup, my thinking being, i don't want to risk problems in the dead of winter with no heat. But I wonder if everyone does this. I learned my mother never had hers serviced until she had a problem with her heat and it cost over $2,000 in repairs.
I used to do a chimney cleaning every year as well, for similar reasons, even though I have no fireplace here and the chimney is the furnace chimney. Then i got a stainless steel liner in it which in my mind makes it even less likely there'd ever be a fire or creosote buildup, so I've been doing the cleanings every other year. My father doesn't think it's necessary at all, but he's no expert. I've been thinking of calling my local fire department to ask their opinion. Of course the chimney sweeps will tell you it's important because they want the business.
The one I had scheduled to come this past Saturday was a no-show. Well, he eventually arrived about 2 hours late, after I had left to do other things. My weekend time is too precious. I wrote them a bad review on Angie's List. It's Customer Service 101. Show up as scheduled. They never even called me to tell me they'd be late or anything. I just have not heard from them since!
How do you handle household maintenance issues for your furnace, whole house humidifiers, central air and generators, etc? Are you religious about annual servicing or don't you bother?
Meaning, the fleas are still with us. Frustrating. Too soon to give a 3rd dose. Will never use Frontline again.
Here's what I did today:
1. Ran over leaves on the lawn with my mower to mulch them, about 40 minutes.
2. Blew leaves off the driveway, then swept them up in the wheelbarrow and dumped them.
3. Made a tomato vegetable soup and kale salad for the upcoming work week.
4. Determined that my kitchen fire extinguisher is indeed among those recalled; will call Kidde Monday to get a replacement.
5. Gathered up 3 strings of Xmas lights taking up a lot of space. Made sure all were working, then too pix and posted on Facebook for sale; if they don't sell in a week, I'll drop them off at Lowe's for recycling since they're not LEDs.
I'm running out of time now, to do everything I wanted. I guess assembling my portfolio for Friday job interview has to come first since I'm too tired when I get home from work.
Aside from that, I really wanted to go to the Historical Society program this afternoon and/or a one-day showing of Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Steve Martin at the town hall theater. The former starts in 5 minutes and I'm too pooped to run out, so maybe I'll try for the 4 pm movie.
That means I have to put the portfolio together NOW. Now, PS, now! No rest for the weary.