Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My crew has been released

Believe it or not, I'm on my own for at least a month. Except for hauling off some leftover debris like the old kitchen countertop, boxes, and the old refrigerator and redoing my front porch. Then in the fall, when it's cooler, we'll reshingle my roof, fix the patio cover, and replace the fence between my house and the neighbor.

Saturday, my crew chief took care of the final touches around the house like adding the shoe moulding along the kitchen cabinets, replacing the hall door and a couple door knobs, cleaning off the back patio, and touching up some spots on the walls while his assistant and I brought in the boxes of books and filled the bookcase shelves - and I mean filled to the brim! I still have 4 boxes in the garage! Once I have the shelves in my office set up, I'll move some business-related books into my office. That will allow room for another box or 2 of books.

While the first set of books were being dusted, I decided to dust the hope chest my mom gave me when I was 15. As I was dusting, I realized I don't remember ever dusting it except with a feather duster - ever! This was probably the first time furniture polish has touched it in 46 years!

I might have to buy another bookcase or purge. My daughter votes for purging. I told her I've been collecting these books since early adulthood for my library. Her response was that all hoarders consider their stuff collections. After my crew left for the day, I went into my library and lined the books up just like I was taught when I was studying to be a librarian at San Antonio College. I can't help but go in the library and feel a sense of accomplishment. Finally, one of my longest standing dreams has come true.

Another dream was to have a baby grand piano. I've wanted one since I was a child. When I was planning this renovation, I decided this was the perfect time to get the piano, and it would go into the library. I was so excited that I started looking for pianos online and even printed out a few contenders. Then I realized I was over wanting the piano. It was a dream that will not happen. That's OK. I've realized 2 dreams - my library and Jaguar.

My daughter and my grandson visited last Saturday, and she didn't mention Empire once! 

I went around the house taking photos, but they're all blurry. I'll have to try again. I think I do better with my phone than my Canon since I dropped it. Maybe it's on the wrong setting - I'll have to find the manual and troubleshoot. I found all the before photos, and I plan to post them really soon - promise. 

There are still several boxes left to unpack, but all the heavy lifting is over. The cable box is still missing, and I haven't found the external drive that's missing. I asked Time Warner what happens if the box is gone, and they didn't have an answer. I'm paying $10 a month for that box - I guess I'd best find it.

My exercise room has a recumbent bike, a glider like the one Chuck Norris promotes, a Body by Jake (remember those?), and the Nordic Trak that I got 20 years ago. Now, it just needs me in there using everything. When I went to weigh in Thursday, I'd gained 5.2 lbs. The week before I lost 5, now I'm 0.2 heavier. Boy did I get a talkin' to! She told me that I have to get serious again, and she wanted to know when everything would be set up in the exercise room. I promised it would be this week. So, that's done. I guess she also wanted me to use at least SOMETHING.

My open house will be moved back a couple weeks. My 52-year-old sister-by-love (ex SIL) passed away Aug 23 after battling cancer for 5 years. The service was Monday, Aug 26, in Jacksonville, FL. My ex mother-in-law (Mom) asked that I visit her when my SIL's ashes are ready to be spread over the mountains. At this point, I have no idea when that will be. I think it will be a window in the middle of September. I want to see if I can sneak a visit with a friend in Atlanta while I'm in that part of the country. Timing may not be on my side, and that would be such a shame.

I talked to my neighbor about the tree that was growing in the fence line on their side, and he removed it this past weekend. We have a huge tree in the fence line that the neighbor before them didn't take care of, and it infringes on the fence and the branches that jut out in my yard are distorting my trees because they are growing away from it. I've had to pay to have large limbs removed a couple of times over the years. It's a great source of shade for the neighbor, but it's a great source of heartburn for me.

After all this work, drama, expense, and inconvenience, I love, Love, LOVE my house. I like the way it feels and looks - inside and out. I can't wait to show it off.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Refrigerator Elbow?

My new refrigerator seems to vacuum seal itself shut sometimes. The first time I try to open it every morning, I really struggle. We still haven't anchored it because I want to make sure we are done moving it in and out. So I have to hold it back with a foot and yank it open. My right elbow is really hurting, so I must have developed refrigerator elbow. I change it up occasionally and open the door with my left hand.

But wait, I may be wrong. Since I've lost weight, I noticed the arm rests on my chair at work seem to be too far away. My elbows are inside the arm rests instead of on them like before. Today, I noticed that my right arm rubbed the arm rest in the spot where it hurts the most. So I removed the arm rests.

It was weird not having arm rests. I'd become accustomed to using them to adjust myself when I noticed I was slouching, and I rested on them when I needed to think. So, a few times today, my arms flailed as I reached for the missing arm rests. I'm thinking my elbow will improve soon.

If you're wondering how the house is, I'll tell you - it's still a work in progress.

My crew of 2 has painted and installed the bookcases, painted and repainted the brown perimeter stripe, caulked the granite backsplash, and touched up the rough spots on the walls. Except for a few more things, we're done!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Still at it!

We are still taking care of the finishing touches.

The old saltillo tile in the entry of my house was not my style, plus it was chipped from skateboarding and obviously needed to be replaced (it was only 33 years old). So Monday we headed to Floor & Decor to pick out replacement tile. I've been to a couple of places and couldn't decide, so I dragged my crew with me. We picked out a beautiful porcelain tile with brown, red, and gold, that goes with the acid stain, the brown perimeter, and the gold walls, yet it's different enough to keep people from falling off the raised entry. When we picked out the tile, I had to make the grout color decision. Geez, that was a hard decision. Did I want to go light, dark, or in between? I chose an in between color, and it turned out to be perfect.

Tuesday they removed the old tile. It was tougher than expected, and lots of the thinset remained. They worked on removing the thinset the next day, cut the tiles Thursday, put them in place Friday, and grouted Saturday. I love the tile. They're 20x20, so different from the 6x6 I had before.

The bookcases finally came in Wednesday. I stopped by the house about 2:30 after a funeral to see if they were on the front porch. Four 90-pound boxes about 90 inches long, 13 inches wide, and 6 inches deep were placed in front of my garage door! I freaked out! Although I figured they would be safe on my front porch, I never imagined the delivery guy would put them right in front of my house so all the traffic on the busy street could see them. I parked my car as close to the boxes as I could, placed the trash bins so they hid the boxes, and went inside and called the office to let them know that I wasn't coming back.

Once the entry was finished, my crew assembled the bookcases. The website said they were unfinished, but the photos showed a sort of dark finish, so I figured they'd blend in with my walls. Well, the pieces were so unfinished they almost glowed, it was obvious we'd have to do something - paint or stain. Which? Whichever I chose, I'd have to choose a color. Dang! Another dang decision to make. I went to Home Depot and spent at least an hour going back and forth between stain and paint trying to make a decision. I chose a stain color called "Provincial" and was pretty happy with my decision. Then I headed to check out their Formica counter tops to use for a desk in my office. The armoire that I'm using is too small and confining, and I need to do something else.

When I was at the dentist last week having a root canal done, I noticed their counter tops. Very simple - counters on plywood legs. We can do that! I knew Home Depot had counter tops, so while I was there, I checked them out. Reasonably priced, I decided that this was definitely a possibility - maybe 2 pieces that would fit in the corner. As I was leaving the counter tops, I saw the display of vanities, and the colors caught my attention. That's when I realized I didn't want to stain the bookcases. I want to paint them the same color as the trim. I want the bookcases to look built in, and since the kitchen cabinets are light, I think the bookcases should be as well.

One thing that makes my crew chuckle is when I say "I was thinking . . ." They always know this will cost me money and they'll have one more thing to do. When I told them I was thinking the bookcases should be painted, we pictured all the pieces leaning up against trees, bricks, the house, all over the place. It seemed like a daunting task. Then David said "I was thinking . . .", and we laughed. We decided that we should assemble the bookcases, THEN paint. What a great idea! After I saw the bookcases assembled, I got really excited and asked if we could remove the shoe moulding and attach the bookcases to the wall, but I was told that wouldn't work. Then I heard "I was thinking . . ." and we decided to remove the baseboards and shoe moulding behind the bookcases and put the trim down the sides and in front instead so they would really look built-in. They fit in the space, and I'm so excited.

We are so close to being done! Now, just rugs and hanging things on the walls, and the inside is done!

The landscaper is doing a great job outside. He's cleaned up the flowerbeds that were overgrown with weeds. He picked up the old mulch, laid down a weed barrier that is really keeping the weeds under control and finished with a darker mulch. The sage has grown; the Lantanas are really pretty, and I love the way they smell. My grandmother had Lantana and primrose, and I'll have primrose soon as well. At least that what I hope the plant I want is called. We'll plant 3 on the street side of the house, which will help cut back on the amount of grass to cut, and when they're mature, offer some privacy for the windows on that side of the house. We finally worked out a maintenance schedule, and the sprinkler system has been completed. I can't believe how awesome my house is! I just wish Daddy could see it.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Dream turned into nightmare

Since I was 12 years old, passing Motor Imports, a European car dealership on Austin Highway, twice a day, I've wanted a Jaguar. I fell in love with them, their body styles, their power, their colors. My dream for 42 years has been to own a Jaguar.

As I got older, the Jaguars got more expensive. They always seemed to be just out of reach.

I've been blessed to own some great cars. I started out with a 1965 Chevy Impala, 2 door, 3 on the column. It was an amazing car that my parents gave me as a high school graduation present. The car had about 55K miles when I got it, and it had about 130K when I sold it. It had been wrecked 3 times, and I got several speeding tickets.

I wanted something smaller and sportier, so I bought a Ford Pinto. It was the mustard color that everyone called baby shit yellow. It was so much fun to drive. It had 4 on the floor with black vinyl seats that had the amazing ability to get hotter and hotter the longer I sat on them in the hot summers. I hated those black vinyl seats. I was rear-ended twice in that car. Remember when Pintos were catching fire in rear-end collisions because of a bolt that would puncture the gas tank? I was blessed that I only got whiplash. That car was wrecked on 3 sides, and I found a huge bandaid bumper sticker that I put across the damaged front fender. Everyone thought that was so cute. But after a while, I got tired of driving a character car and looked for something more sophisticated.

I bought a 1974 Comet. I loved that car. It was a beautiful bronze color with a vinyl top. That was one of the best cars - just the right size, power, and style. As soon as it was paid for, we traded it in for a used diesel Volkswagen Rabbit. Boy, was that a mistake. The first day I drove that car to work, a rock hit the windshield and in no time, there was a crack completely across. Shortly after that, the electrical system went out and left me stranded on a remote road. I don't think we even had that car a year.

Then we got a Dodge Colt, a cute little 4-door sedan with vinyl roof that was customized for me. I loved that car. After that, we had a different car every other year, and I can't remember what came next. I had a Fifth Avenue, a LeBaron, a second Dodge Colt that was a space-aged looking station wagon, a Nissan (Datsun?) 2-door hatchback, a Corolla 4-door hatchback, a 4-door Ford Escort wagon, a 4-door Ford Escort sedan, a Mazda 626, and then I got my dream car - a 2004 Jaguar X-Type.

The Mazda's transmission was going out; it was never the same after I drove it to Galveston to visit my son. I was contemplating whether to have it repaired or buy another car. Then I happened to check out the Enterprise Car Sales website because that was where I got the 626. I saw the Jaguar, called to see if it was still on the lot, grabbed my purse, and ran out the door. I was so excited - a Jaguar that was affordable.

For 7 years, I felt like the Queen of Sheba driving that car. For 7 years, I felt like people should look at me and think I was special because I was driving a Jaguar. For 2 years, I felt like I was bleeding money into that car.

One of the good things about owning a Jaguar and taking it to the dealer was the loaners I got. I drove brand new Jaguars, Saabs, Toyotas, Mazdas, all sorts of cars. Each time I couldn't wait to get my Jaguar back because I liked the power and comfort. I drove a Mazda6 when the Jaguar was in the body shop when the ceiling tile landed on the roof. I liked the Mazda6 - it was a close second to the Jaguar. The car I drove while it was in the shop this last time with alternator and battery problems was a Camry. The Camry was nice, but I didn't like that it was almost black with dark interior.

When I picked up the Jaguar after the second time in the shop in a month, after plunking down another $1800 dollars on top of the $3300 I spent a month before, the transmission wasn't right. I told God, "I can take a hint." And I cried all the way home. My dream car had become a nightmare.

The next morning, I was in the credit union waiting to see my favorite loan officer. We worked out how much I should consider spending on a car - I didn't want to spend more than $10K, and she suggested looking for something about $15K. Then she suggested I look at Enterprise. Before I knew it, she had an Enterprise salesman on the phone, and I was telling him I'd stop by.

By 2:00, I was walking around the Enterprise lot, checking out all the cars I was interested in. They had several that were close to the $15K price range, a few light colored exteriors with light interior, and a couple with electric seats. I made the salesman stay out in the heat as long as I could. We walked back and forth among the cars, and I was telling him why this car was good and why this one wasn't.

The salesman finally talked me into going inside. One of the things he did was ask me what I was looking for in a car, and I gave him my list of must haves. He got the keys to a couple of cars - the Camry and a Honda Accord. We hopped in the Camry and went for a ride. We talked and wound around the country roads behind the car lot. Then we got to where I could take it on the highway. I really liked the smooth ride, responsiveness, cornering, quietness, and the driver's seat was comfortable and high enough for me.

We talked about the pros and cons of the Camry, then we took the Accord for a test drive. After a couple of miles, I knew the Accord was not for me. It was noisier and rougher, and I didn't even take it on the highway. It did not compare to the Camry. We had also considered taking the Malibu on a test drive, but he said if I didn't like the Accord, I wouldn't like the Malibu, and I didn't even drive it.

While I was test driving the cars, they were looking at the Jaguar. It really didn't matter what they saw, the Car Fax mentioned the rear-end collision in April, and it was all over. That collision, which was not my fault, caused a huge drop in the value and how much they would offer. I could have said "No thanks" to trading it in and sold it myself, but then I'd have to advertise, worry about who would want to meet me to check it out, find the title, transfer the title, etc., etc., etc. So, I whined a bit and signed on the dotted line.

As I was going through the Jaguar, gathering all the personal items and preparing to say "goodbye," I started to cry again. Then, I put on my big girl panties, took one last photo of the Jaguar and hopped in the Camry.

By 5:00, I was on my way home in a beautiful Camry that met all the must haves on my list. ALL the must haves. By the time I got home, the Jaguar had become "that stupid Jaguar." I don't miss it. Like a friend said, I "lived the dream."

I really like the Camry, and from all the reports of my friends, I'll like it for a long time. I won't become really good friends with the service rep because I won't see him/her often enough to develop a friendship like at Jaguar.

It felt sooo good to buy regular unleaded gas. I filled the tank the next day (last Sunday), and after driving around this week, the gas gauge has just hit the half mark instead of being empty like with the Jaguar. I'm not being completely fair because the Camry gas tank is 18.5 gallons (according to the manual), and the Jaguar was 14. It feels weird to not be looking for a Chevron station about now. I'm dying to get gas and check the gas mileage. But even more, I want to see how many miles I can go on a tank, so I'll be patient.

I thank God for leading me to the loan officer who led me to Enterprise, who led me to the Camry.