Home > Archive: July, 2023

Archive for July, 2023

Fun news that has nothing to do with money

July 30th, 2023 at 12:09 am

Just as I type, the strong rain has begun after building for some time. After that passes, we'll have truly "seasonal" weather conditions in the low 80s and low humidity, which I'm really looking forward to. Need to catch up on the yard work and pull as much mile-a-minute vine as I can before it starts to flower, form berries and then multiply some more.

I have not been active with genealogy work for several years now, only because Ancestry subscriptions are not cheap and I feel that when I do sign up, I need to devote as much time as possible to it to "get my money's worth."

So there are 2 cousins I discovered on Ancestry prior to COVID whom I conversed with. One of them, in Ohio, texted me tonight and proposed we (she and her husband, me and my father) get together with them in September when they are planning a trip east to visit a childhood friend of hers from Florida who will be visiting her son in a town pretty close to mine. Serendipity.

I'm doing a local garden tour tomorrow with a friend.  And her husband and daughter.

I invited another, more distant friend over for lunch next week, knowing the weather will be good and it's one of the alternate weeks when I don't have to work. We have talked about it a few times. It's an opportunity to deepen a friendship.

Next week is my birthday, so my friend and neighbor S. is 1) taking me out to breakfast at 8 am at a cafe I've kept suggesting to him, and 2) he's going to give me 2 hours of his time to do anything I want that morning, as a birthday present. I often ask him for help with things around here, usually involving his chainsaw to cut down a tree, or running to dump brush at the landfill with his pickup, and stuff like that. So for me, this is like the perfect gift. I'm going to think carefully about what I'd like but I'm pretty sure it will involve trees.

I did very recently get quotes from 2 tree companies for pruning some smaller fruit trees around here, and becus the prices were so high, I decided to spend $100 on a new pole pruner so I could probably handle the smaller ones and heck, I'd pay for the cost of the pruner doing just a few of the trees myself.

I would have tried it out already, but you need to unbolt the bolt so you can pull the blade at the end of the pole into the upright position, then reattach the bolt and tighten. Problem is, I can't get it off. It's on really tight. So that's the 1st thing S. can do. Smile

I will still have the pros do the pruning, though not til this winter, on the apple, crabapple, mulberry and dogwood. I'm going to tackle an overgrown rhododendron growing over some stairs (so it's not possible to reach the dead stuff using a ladder), along with an inkberry holly that blocks my view of the front yard (too close to the front entry).

Spend, spend, spend. No shortage of ways for me to spend my money. Still waiting for Ms. Mouse to return to exclude them after doing an "inspection."

Since next week I'll be just ONE YEAR away from Medicare, I'm thinking of other biggish life events that will coincide with that birthday. Namely, that is the time I plan to completely stop working.

(I've tossed it around a few times. In some ways, I'd like to keep my hand in it, doing some kind of freelance writing, but ultimately decided I really didn't want any more holds on my time. I can always return to it if I have a change of heart.) I've been downsizing my job now for the past 6 years, starting when I went p/t when i was doing editing at the pharma agency before COVID.

(Yes, my time references all seem to relate to either "before COVID" or "after COVID.")

Come to think of it, next summer would also be a good time to restart my Ancestry membership with my newfound time.



It's always something....

July 25th, 2023 at 01:22 pm

Just when I thought I could take a breather from the work projects around the house.....I ran out of water last night. A very small volume of water coming out the tap and then, nothing. I tried the other faucets, same thing. No water, no pressure.

I went into the basement to look at the water pipe coming into the basement. I see a small wet spot directly under the meter. Something's leaking, which I guess messed up the water pressure?

I had a sink full of dirty dishes. Great. About 15 minutes later, I tried the kitchen faucet again, just to see, and this time I had water, spitting and spluttering. But it was enough to do the dishes.

I called the water company this morning and they are sending someone out this morning. Thank goodness that no water is considered an emergency situation. The woman on the phone agreed that it sounded like the meter needs replacing and said they usually contact the customer once it becomes 14 years old. I hooked up to the water company water line in 2013, so that's 10 years already.

Mysteriously, I have seemingly normal water this morning, and when i went downstairs to look at the water meter, there was NO water in the bucket I'd put under the meter and the small wet spot under the bucket had completely dried. Maybe it has some sort of early warning system, like a hot water heater that starts out with a slow leak when it begins to go??

My father will be disappointed as we had plans to see an Oppenheimer matinee today, but we can reschedule for Thursday.

In other news, my neighbor friend and I traveled about an hour-and-a-half to South Deerfield, Massachusetts, to check out the Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory. They have some rooms with lots of terrariums filled with giant cockroaches, insects and reptiles to enthrall the kids, plus a gift shop where you can buy milkweed seeds and all things butterfly-related. The conservatory itself is a fairly small, enclosed space but is chock full of lush, tropical plants and plenty of butterflies flitting about so it was no problem getting close up views.

On the way back, we stopped at a greasy diner, seemingly the only place to eat within a few miles, and an antique/collectible place run by a pleasant elderly couple who no doubt were trying to supplement their Social Security income.

The next day, we did another road trip to the Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York. I've been there probably 4 times in the past 30 years, but I always wanted to try their vegetarian lunch, which we did. It was a bargain at $7: white rice and mixed veggies, bean curd. I think it was all you can eat. Their claim to fame is they purportedly have the largest indoor Buddha in the Northern Hemisphere.

Update: Water company guy showed up here in under an hour. Took him 5 minutes to replace the meter, so hopefully I'm all set for another 14 years.

I always like to chat with contractors who come here to try to learn something. He asked me if I'd heard any fire sirens last night, and I said no. He said a fire in town could actually pull enough water from the hydrant to cause me to lose pressure. He agreed it seemed wierd that I lost water last night, but have it this morning. And he said I hadn't needed to wait til this morning to call them, that I can call them 24/7.

We're off to see the 1st Oppenheimer matinee. Smile


Projects Punch List

July 20th, 2023 at 07:59 pm

I'm continuing to take care of stuff that needs doing, stuff that' s been deferred for a while now.

It feels good to be knocking some of these things off.

These are completed projects since starting on them last spring, beginning with the most recent:

1. Leaking heating oil tank replacement

2. Repair (rotting wood trim, mouse chewed screen) of basement window.

3. New footers for the listing tool shed

4. Repair of side garage window where water collected, leading to rotting wood trim.

5. Kitchen cabinet refinishing

6. New kitchen faucet and stainless steel sink

7. Repair of back patio leaky faucet

8. Replacement of washing machine hose shut-off valve.

Today the woman who specializes in exclusion of rodents (not just poison or traps) came and marked 13 individual holes where they could (or have?) gotten in. She said that wasn't too bad for a house as old as mine. I had to pay for today's inspection, and then she'll return next week to plug all the holes. It was her father's business. I hope it actually works. I would be thrilled as I've been dealing with mice in the basement for many years. I won't really know until October when it gets cold. I showed her the one area where I know they were coming in as the cats would sit there for hours, waiting.

She's not cheap, but she's actually a lot less expensive than the one other company I'd found a number of years back who made a speciality of exclusion, and he was VERY expensive but I was willing to throw money at this problem. In the end, he was so busy in his town and didn't want to drive as far as my town, a distance of about an hour.

Also next week will be first treatment of my giant hemlock tree for wooly adelgid. This tree has somehow survived for 28 years with wooly adelgid, much longer than it's supposed to from what I've read. I did pay to have dormant oil spray twice, I think, soon after I bought the house, but after that, I stopped, becus the tree is so large I didn't think they'd be able to cover it from all sides.

And I'm not sure they had this trunk spray treatment, which the arborist said is very effective, available 30 years ago. He said my tree is only about 25% dead, whereas I'd estimated 50% or more. I had actually been anticipating having to pay to have it taken down, which would be much more expensive than the cost of doing the trunk spray.

Once the insects are under control, the tree will slowly grow back new needles in the bare spots. But they want you to treat every year, actually twice a year. I need to read more about it to be sure. He had urged me to also spend hundreds of extra dollars on fertilizer for the hemlock, and I have since come across advice NOT to fertilize an infested tree. I feel like you have to be so careful to vet everything you're told so you don't spend money needlessley.

Next Year

Next year, I already know I want to focus on:

1. Replacement of new front door with a pretty fiberglass door (the most energy-efficient) and maybe back door as well.


My cousin is coming out for a vist in a few weeks from PA. I asked him to go car shopping with me at the dealer. I highly doubt I would actually make a purchase at this time, but I wouldn't mind taking my vehicle of choice out for a test drive.

Tomorrow a friend and i are traveling to southwestern massachusetts to visit a butterfly conservatory I've always to check out.

Oh, no! It's leaking.

July 1st, 2023 at 02:18 pm

Of course, it always happens at the worst possible time: a Friday night going into a long holiday weekend. My heating oil tank is leaking and needs to be replaced.

Maybe 2 days ago I noticed a funny chemical smell when I opened the garage door. Couldn't say exactly what it was. I thought maybe it was an herbicide that spilled? Nope. Only later did it occur to me it could be the rusty heating oil tank situated at the back of my garage (which I had WANTED to replace like 10 years ago, but the serviceman who said he would have the office call me about that never followed through, and then I dropped the ball).

But yeah, I looked under the tank, and yup, I saw a wet spot that smelled like oil.

I posted on my town's FB page asking for recommendations and in the meanwhile, I went online searching for the right contractor. I wound up on the Roth website, one of the leading oil tank suppliers, and when I clicked on Dealers Near You, up popped the plumber who had just been here (twice) for my sink/faucet and washing machine valve.  I didn't realize he could replace an oil tank, too. Cost: $4,500. Sticker shock!

I decided to go with him, even though another company gave me a price over the phone that was $500 less. I had never done business with them before, whereas the plumber I just used did a good job, although he is top dollar. (My current plumber is repeatedly highly recommended in my local FB group, so I felt he was practically a celebrity.) 

When I called him 6 pm on Friday night (yesterday) and said my tank appears to be leaking, he was here in a half-hour, put down some absorbency pads where the wet spot was under the tank and told me to get a tinfoil pan, the kind you cook a turkey in, and put it under the tank as well with more of the absorbency pads that he left me.

He specced out the whole job right then and there, gave me a firm price the next morning and said the tank would be delivered Monday and they would do the install Wednesday. He said to call him if the leak (what he called "seeping," at this point) suddenly got worse. I'll get the same size tank, but this one's a double-sided wall Roth tank with a 30-year warranty. That will pretty much cover the rest of  my life. He said he's never seen one fail.

I just feel greater peace of mind going with this plumber, who is in my hometown, not 2 towns away like the other one.

They are going to put the new tank in the back of the garage, but to the right (not left), so I have to clear all the junk out of there. I guess it will make the rack where I hang garden tools inaccessible. They want to put it side by side with the current tank so they can more easily drain the full tank of oil I just had delivered into the new tank, except for the bottom 6 inches, which will be full of over 28 years' worth of sludge. He'll also be replacing some old, corroded tubing that goes thru the basement to the furnace.

I just wish I'd been aware of the what the average lifespan of an oil tank is. This one came with the house, so I know it's over 28 years old; the average lifespan is just 10 to 15 years old! After watching a few YouTube videos, I learned that the simple act of filling up the tank just the other day with 275 gallons of oil is a lot of added weight and probably contributed to the start of the oil "seeping" out! Also wish I hadn't forgotten about tank replacement 10 years ago after observing how rusty mine was getting, but since it was still working at the time, there seemed to be no sense of urgency.

Hate to say this, but while he's here, once he's done with the oil tank replacement, I want to ask him about replacing my electric hot water heater. I checked a few years back on when I purchased it, and it is near the end of its average life span. I hate dealing with stuff like this on an emergency basis, like when it's begun to leak, so I'd like to proactively replace it and possibly go for a heat pump hot water heater, which is much more energy-efficient.

My last plumber didn't think it would be a good idea, said his customers weren't happy with it, etc, as I recall, because it was somewhat noisy and made the basement very cold. But would be good to get another plumber's opinion. If not, would just go with a ceramic-walled hot water heater with the longest warranty I can find. They are more expensive, but you don't have to go thru the whole replacement ordeal as often, and I think you save in the long run as you're not having to pay plumber labor costs as often.