Posts Tagged ‘home improvement

27
Mar
19

Mill Street Blues

It all started innocently enough, as many spectacular disasters do—with an abundance of good intentions and a dearth of interest in doing research and checking references.

The Jarhead and I, having survived multiple military deployments, thirty-two income tax seasons, and five home improvement projects—including one whole house renovation–decided to go into business flipping houses.

It made perfect sense at the time. As the more creative member of the team, I would come up with the designs, choose the furnishings and fixtures, and do the accounting, while he—as the stronger, fitter, and more mechanically inclined member of the team, would be the muscle, the engineer, and the eye-candy.

As with our marriage—ill-advised as some considered it to be back in 1985—we knew it wouldn’t be easy. As with raising children, we knew there would be challenges. As with military deployments, we knew we would need to plan well and be prepared for surprises. And as with income tax returns and other home improvements, we knew there would be tears, heated exchanges, and homicidal ideations. But we also knew that with patience, dedication and—if necessary—copious amounts of alcohol, our business could be a smashing success.

And so, one month after the Jarhead retired, we bought a domain name, created an LLC, acquired a trailer, and started shopping for investment properties. There were other steps involved, as well. I’m just listing the highlights.

You’re welcome.

We didn’t issue a press release—mostly because no one reads the newspaper anymore, but also because we weren’t sure anyone would care that we were going into business, and because we didn’t want to have to admit it later if the endeavor was a colossal failure. But we told a few friends, and word got around.

Those who didn’t hate it, loved the idea. They imagined the Jarhead as a midwestern Tarek El Moussa to my shorter, plumper, and false eyelash-free Christina. Or as a taller, darker, and less excitable Chip Gaines to my shorter, plumper, blonder, and less patient Joanna. Or as a shorter, older, and handsomer Jonathon Scott to my shorter, plumper, blonder, and slightly less masculine Drew. You get the picture—with my apologies.

And just over a year later, here we are—still married—and about to embark on our second flip. There have been ups and downs, setbacks, and surprises, which I hope to cover in future posts.

And even as I joke about spectacular disasters and colossal failures, from my perspective it’s been a mostly positive and highly educational experience. Case in point: I’ve learned how to (and how NOT to) install vinyl flooring.  I’ve also developed new appreciation for people who show up for appointments and meetings on time, and I’ve learned many new words for ordinary household devices.

For example, cabinets that don’t appear level when hung, are pecker-heads.

Screws that won’t turn at the speed or in the direction you want them too, are also pecker-heads.

Cordless drills with lithium batteries that won’t hold a change are quite vexing, and, therefore, are also pecker-heads.

If you type it often enough while watching someone hang kitchen cabinets, your Android keyboard will eventually recognize the word pecker-heads.

Apologies for the blue language. However, if you’re easily offended, you probably shouldn’t be here in the first place.

And for those of you who aren’t easily offended, be sure to tune in next time for Mill Street Blues II: Hunting and Blathering.

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24
Jul
15

Hose Improvement

Let me preface today’s post with the following: this time it was neither my fault, nor my imagination.

Yesterday at approximately 4:20 pm, as I was on the phone chatting with a friend about the my recent bathroom remodel, I happened to look out the front door and find the yard around the porch flooded and the mulch in my shrub bed floating like tiny logs on a mighty river. Since it had not rained in days, and having not turned on a hose, sprinkler, faucet, spigot, or other water source in over a week, I was both shaken and confused.

Having seen the bathroom contractor using the garden hose to mix grout for the floor tile, and to wash said grout from the container in which he’d mixed it, I briefly wondered if perhaps he had finished and left for the day without shutting off the hose. Upon closer inspection, however, I realized that the water was not coming from the hose but from one of the channels of the four-way hose manifold that was attached to the faucet. Further examination revealed that one of the hoses that had been attached to said four-way hose manifold had been blown off its outlet and was now drifting among the floating logjam of mulch.

Fortunately I knew I could handle this problem myself and, thus, did not have to bother the Jarhead to stem the flow and stop the flooding. Instead, I simply flipped that channel’s switch to off, made a mental note to inform my loving spouse that his attempt to mend a leak on that particular hose had failed spectacularly, and went on my merry way.

It had been leaking for several weeks before he got around to fixing it last weekend—after he got sick of having to go to the front of the house to turn on/shut off that channel whenever he wanted to use that hose so water didn’t run across the porch floor 24/7. And, knowing how little free time he was going to have in the coming weeks thanks to an approaching work deadline, I figured we’d be playing the hokey pokey with that spigot right up until it was time to winterize and put away the hoses for the year. But since that hose happens to be the one that wraps around the end of the house and to the back yard, and since it is the only one we have that CAN be used in the backyard, I also knew there was a chance he would get to it sooner—if only to prevent the lawn and his sweet corn plot from dying from lack of rain.

At this point you may be wondering why I didn’t just fix the hose myself. If so, I advise you to read back a few posts to “A Haunting in Oshkosh” where you will learn that I am wholly unqualified to use power tools. Although it is not a matter of written record, it should be noted that I am equally unqualified when it comes to plumbing and electrical repairs, so there was no way I was going to touch that hose. Even if my feminist dander was nudging me to do so, my arthritic hands held veto power, and so instead of grabbing the pliers and trying to join the hose and connector, I threw on my swimsuit and joined Princess Primrose in the pool.

Several hours later, after visiting the pharmacy, a retail store, and two home improvement centers—where I not only made returns and purchases but also managed to resist the urge to buy a hose repair kit—the Princess and I returned to the house and set about to completing our evening chores. A few minutes later, I heard expletives coming from the south end of the basement where the Princess had gone to clean the cat boxes.

Joining her there, I found the carpeting in the storage/litter room saturated and water seeping ever so slowly toward the laundry room. Immediately the Princess and I started taking from the room any and every movable object that could be damaged by standing water. Once we had removed every last wooden, paper, fabric, and cardboard item from the area, we began searching for the source of the water in hopes of preventing further damage to the rest of the basement.

The first thing that came to my mind, of course, was the plumbing in the newly remodeled bathroom two floors up. Yep. Despite the fact that the plumbing went in two days earlier and had not leaked in the intervening hours since then—and despite the fact that I had witnessed with my own eyes the flooding of the ground above that part of the house just hours before—the first explanation to enter my head upon finding a half-inch of water in the basement was a plumbing problem. Although it pains me to admit it, the Jarhead may have reason not to trust me with tools, pipes, or electricity.

In my defense, I have more experience with contractor mishaps than I do flooding. It wasn’t too long ago that a handyman whom I had hired to replace the floor of the cabinet under my kitchen sink managed to shoot a nail into the water line behind the wall. That mistake went unnoticed until 10pm the next evening when El Noble came home and found the ceiling in the basement family room raining and the carpet a sopping wet mess.

Still, I don’t know why I didn’t think of the most likely scenario instead of the worst. It’s not as if I’m unfamiliar with the water cycle or the concept of cause and effect. In any event, after finding no leaks in the water lines or drain pipes—and after ruling out both paranormal activity and an extinction level event—it finally dawned on me that the water in the front yard had not magically evaporated into the air above, but instead had seeped down into the ground, and taken up residence in my basement, below.

Satisfied that I had found the most probable cause for the water intrusion, the Princess and I then set about to finding the fans, the Shop Vac, and an extension cord so we could begin the cleanup. This, thankfully, was the easy part since, having run this drill in the family room three years ago, we both knew what to do.

The Jarhead, who conveniently came home AFTER things were already well in hand, took a look at the ground, the hose, and the basement and ultimately agreed with my diagnosis. He also agreed to have another go at fixing the hose.

He’d better get it right this time or I may have to ban HIM from hose improvements.




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