Sunday, January 15, 2012

Like a Cartoon Snowball Rolling Down a Mountain

Our home improvement projects have been slow going.  Part of it is that I just have so many daily chores and they pretty much eat up my entire day, and part of it is that every little, simple task always has to snowball out of control into dozens of other tasks.  Every time I start a new project, I regret it because we always somehow end up in a worse situation than we were in to begin with.  I thought that hiring a handyman who knew what he was doing would help, but it didn't.  I came away from that experience feeling as if I would have been better off doing the job myself.

I'm starting out trying to fix the most glaring problems that are affordable to fix.  I know from experience in selling my mother's house, which was built in the 1940's, that people are willing to deal with a few cosmetic issues, but if there are problems everywhere they look, they tend to get cold feet.  I noticed that the plastic panes of one porch light had fallen into the light bulb and melted, so I wanted to replace that.  I didn't want people thinking the house was a fire hazard.  Buying the new porch light was the easy part.

When we removed the old light, we discovered that the light was indeed a fire hazard, because someone twisted the grounding wire around another wire instead of attaching it to the green grounding bolt.  We suspect it was the hippie painter who painted our house 15 years ago, and now we are wondering just how many other outdoor lights he took shortcuts on when re-installing them.  Then we discovered that the plastic cup that sits in the wall and keeps the wires away from the insulation and wood on the house as well as providing a mount for the light was broken.

In the process of trying to figure out which fuse switch controlled the light, we had to turn off electricity to the majority of the house, which broke one computer's UPS.  It also reset the programming on our TVs, so we had to fix that along with resetting all the clocks -- my favorite past time.  Last winter we had so many storms knocking out our electricity that I was going to commit hari-kari if I had to reset one more clock.

My husband tried to repair the broken cup with glue, but discovered another logistics problem, so we had to go to the hardware store to look for mounting extensions.  I talked him into getting a new cup while we were there, just in case his glue didn't stick.  These things are all standard sizes, right?  Well, of course the old cup was not a standard size.  We believe the guy who built our house was from Europe and shipped all the parts in from overseas, because literally nothing in this house is a standard size.  So, my husband ended up having to make a larger cutout in the wall for the new cup.  Just eight hours earlier he had been telling me that installing the new light would be "an easy peasy 10-minute job". 

In the meantime, he's been trying to fill in some holes in our tile shower by re-grouting the problem areas.  Of course, they don't make the same color grout that is in the shower, so we had to use something different.  (Note to self:  Never grout just a section of tiles.  Always plan to grout the entire enchilada.)  He's applied two layers of grout now, and they just aren't sticking.  The holes between the tiles are still there.  It's amazing how we can do so much work and accomplish absolutely nothing.  I'm tempted to just hire one of these companies that specialize in remodeling bathrooms and getting all new tile.

I just fear that if I put too much money into an all new bathroom and new flooring, the home buyers won't like my choices and will just redo everything anyway.  I'd rather let the new homeowners choose how they want to remodel.  On the other hand, if we end up renting the house, I'd like to upgrade as much as possible so that all the old stuff doesn't get worn down even more through use, and I end up with a bigger problem on my hands such as black mold from a leaky shower.

One house near us has been up for rent for many months now, and we finally have new neighbors moving in.  Of course, new neighbors in this neighborhood is never a good thing, but it's nice to know that someone had some success in renting out his house.

My annoying neighbors continue to be weird.  No surprise there.  As long as they have tons of company over at their house, they are busy entertaining them and they stop stalking me.  But the company usually ends up being disruptive in some way.  Then when the company leaves, I feel relieved only to discover that my neighbors are stalking me again.

Yesterday I had the misfortune of going outside to muck out stalls right after the man had driven up in his car, which means I got to deal with him sitting in his car staring at me for a ridiculously long time.  He had the dog with him.  Sometimes they drive the dog somewhere other than to my house for a walk and to do its business, which I appreciate.  The man finally finished whatever he was doing in his vehicle (zip) and walked right up to my fence.  He then began picking stray garbage up off the ground and throwing it at my fence.

Much to my surprise, my horses ran over to him and tried to poke him with their noses over the fence.  The only reason I can think of why they would do that would be if someone over there has been feeding them on a regular basis.  Now I know why Lostine colicked the other day.  Oh well, I guess if I run out of hay during this drought, I know my annoying neighbors and their guests will always find something to feed my horses, even if it kills them.

The man took his dog in the house and I thought I'd be alone for a while, since the dog had already done its business.  While I was cleaning stalls, the horses kept pushing the manure wagon out of the way and running into the stalls.  I kept chasing them out and saying things out loud to them about what buttheads they are, and chastising Lostine for breaking into her stall during the day and leaving behind way too many deposits in the process.  I just don't understand why that mare prefers to foul her own nest over pooping and peeing outside where she can spread it around and doesn't have to lie in it.

Anyway, after chatting it up with the horses, I heard the telltale tinkle of my neighbor's dog's collar.  I looked up to see it trotting up their driveway dragging a leash behind it.  I was totally confused, because just a few minutes before, the man had taken the dog out to do its business off leash and now someone had let it out to run over to my place on leash.  I looked around, and suddenly the man's wife scurried out from behind my barn, where she probably had been hiding the whole time listening to me talk to my horses.  It felt just like old times, and I realized that all these visitors they have day in and day out have spared me from being eavesdropped on for quite a while now.

Also, after my husband talked to Brutus about the noise and air pollution he has been causing by working on his jeep every afternoon and evening, Brutus stopped working on it during daylight hours and has now started sneaking over there to rev his engine late at night when we are in bed trying to sleep.  I'm not sure how he thinks that is any better than what he was doing before.  Only this time he's careful to do it for no more than a few minutes, which prevents me from being able to call the police, because he'd be gone by the time they arrive.  The thing is that once he starts revving that engine, he's already woken us up, so it almost doesn't matter if he only does it for a few minutes vs. several hours like he did before.  I'm beginning to think that the guy isn't fixing that jeep at all, but is simply jonesing for the sound of the engine all the time.  He's like a kid stealing cookies from the cookie jar and trying to not get caught.

Also, the annoying neighbors have been allowing a completely different man, who I've never seen before, bring his car over to their place and work on it for days on end.  He spent two days changing one tire, and another two days under the hood.  I guess they are running an automotive shop out of their garage now.  They could have fooled me, because their garage is stacked to the ceiling with used carpet rolls.  Do you know of anyone who would buy or want used carpet?  That's like borrowing someone else's used toilet paper.  They truly are strange people.


achieve1dream said...

Yuck! Gross on the carpet and so annoying on everything else!! I'm just glad you discovered the problem with the lights before it caused a fire. Scary!

Dreaming said...

You are right about the snowball effect of home repair. We know that, intimately!

Breathe said...

I have the same experience with our home repair projects. They always turn into epic adventures into chaos.

Cut-N-Jump said...

Home repairs are rarely the easy-peasy 1-2-3 fix we dream of...

I would call the cops on Jeep guy. While you are on the phone with them, position yourself by the nearest window or door so the operator or dispatcher can hear it. Ask them if they can hear it and tell them this has been an ongoing problem you have tried to resolve already. Call every night if you have to. You would be surprised how quickly it ends. Usually expect 2 phone calls. Tell the dispatcher you called the night before, I'm calling tonight and I won't be calling tomorrow night as Smith and Wesson will be glad to handle things for me.