Murphy Has Moved In!

Granite installedIt has been a few months since I posted anything.  I have been busy!  My daily routine is to start my day by getting up, go over my daily task list with my creator, count my blessings, pet the cat until he purrs and get dressed.  Victory already and I’m still in the bedroom.

It doesn’t take Harlan long to convince me he will continue to twist around my ankles until I feed him.  Task accomplished, off to feed the girls. Six lovely free range hens.  Then hair and makeup and off to work.  Woot!  More success!

My employer strongly believes in accomplishing more with less, so every day is stressful and I break the stress by a brisk walk on my 15 minutes.  Some days I forget to take a break, not good.  I watch the clock way too much until I can leave to start working on my house.  I am so much closer, but everything has been an ordeal whether or not I do the work myself or hire a contractor. Lather, rinse, repeat; since January.

The counter tops were to be installed in my kitchen this Saturday.  THEY DROPPED THE 52″ GRANITE SLAB ON MY NEW BAMBOO FLOOR!!!!  It was seriously damaged through the protective cardboard, the slab did not fare well either.  The workers were polite and very apologetic and gave me the option of a $200. discount for a repaired counter top.  I declined and they came back on Sunday to install a new slab.

Even though the workers were good (except for the drop-age), I was exhausted at having to babysit them for TWO DAYS!  I couldn’t go anywhere, not even to another room.  The company insisted that I stay in visual distance at all times, for their protection as well as mine.  I understand this, but the entire weekend was spent doing nothing!  I went through paper and shredded bills, so almost nothing.

The cabinets are Natural Hickory by Kraft Maid and they are IN!  The counter-tops are a lovely granite.  (But don’t match the tile I picked out, slightly different from the slab in the store.)  The last big repair is the kitchen floor tile (and the repairs to the bamboo floor). I don’t know how much I will get done since NaNoWriMo begins in a few days. I released my Municipal Liaison status due to my crazy schedule. Someone with more time can carry the county banner this year. I will be so happy to have a normal life again!

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What Have I Been Up To?

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I’ve been absent for a while, thanks for sticking with me.  My mother passed away and my house fell apart.  I’ve found that when something big happens, like my leaking roof and five rooms with water damage, God is using it to keep me busy and keep me out of trouble.

It is unfortunate that God has to use such measures. However, He know my heart.  I would most likely try to rescues the situation, if I had the energy and time I would hop on my high horse and try to save the day.

The roof has been re-engineered and has been completed.  The rain has stopped and dry days are forecasted.  I’ve pulled out the wet cabinets, sheetrock and insulation.  There is not much left to rip out, just one little block I can’t pry out without causing more damage.

I’m not Rosie the Riveter.  I have to study and learn what the code is, which tools to use and how to use them.  Generally, it’s a very slow process.  They money tree has not produced the greenbacks for the repairs and the insurance company is not paying for all the damages or the upgrades.  I’m cutting costs where I can.

New studs have been installed and mold has been treated and cleaned.  (I’ve been living in a trailer in my driveway.)  I have painted everything that is nailed down with Red Guard, a paintable vapor barrier normally used near water service.  Expert advice says that it will help keep water from coming through any small cracks in the stucco.  I even installed an extra layer of water barrier in the sink area.

I still have other rooms to work on, but the kitchen/den area is ready for the electrician, cabinet installer and plumber.  I hadn’t planned on a kitchen remodel, but who puts 1977 cabinets back in?  The silver lining to this costly project is free.  I discovered a beautiful  load-bearing beam behind layers of sheetrock.  It matches the smaller one on the other side of the room.  The smaller beam took me five months to remove all the paint and plaster.  It took me about an hour to pull down the sheetrock from the newly discovered beam.  I can’t wait to sand it down and apply a light finish.

beam

 

 

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Apologies for Success!?!?

I originally wrote this and let it sit, it’s a touchy subject with me; apologies from people who don’t really mean it and over/under exaggeration to the point of lying.  I was embarrassed for a young professional woman at a recent party.  She apologized for all the world’s woes, none of which she created.  She did so, making sure my friend got lots of eye contact and even got close to her face for emphasis.  My friend is an introvert and was born outside of the US, it was threatening to her personally and she took a step back.  She is extremely intelligent and holds a professional position in a male dominated field.  She is well aware of the struggle for ethnic women to be successful, she does not need a lecture on it.  Yes, we can and should do better, but, please don’t lecture the introvert or get on the current soapbox. A meaningless apology about something you had no part in, no control over and are simply parroting what you think is popular, does not bring about change. Kindness and honesty bring lasting change.  Look at the lasting changes Gandhi and Dr. King brought to the world!

Original text:

I sat in yet another session by an individual who made choices that capitalized their success, then made a career of apologizing for that success!   Making money twice over, ARRGH!  While I understand that people can change, I see this as another form of greed.  The latest one was a “true confession”, the author wrote a book on it.  That is, after making A LOT of money doing what is now socially unacceptable.  He apologized for being successful, he apologized for being white, he apologized for his birth parents, he apologized for his trust fund, and he apologized for many things he could not control.  It is boring, droll and really poor taste.  It insults all those individuals who happen to fall into the categories the speaker was apologizing for.  He did not, however, talk about any philanthropic activities he put that money to work in.

If I tell a better story, yell louder or repeat the story often, does that make it a better cause? Should I apologize for things I have no control over; my ethnicity, hair color, height, parents?  Would I want my daughter to apologize for her ethnicity? It is boring and disingenuous to apologize for something you have no control over.  Instead, motivate me, inspire me with your optimism and heroic everyday efforts for your cause.  Inspire me by what you are doing now that is different.  Give me a reason to think differently. Challenge me to do better in a positive non-judgmental way.  Persuade me to be a partner in your passion for excellence.  Win me over with kindness, truth, logic and real facts.

I check facts for publication and write engineering specs.  I translate engineer speak into plain English.  It was natural for me to pick up my phone and ask Dr. Google if the facts presented were truth.  I found a small grain of truth and widely exaggerated falsehoods.

The “true confessions” the speaker is currently making money on are not entirely true. The speaker was still doing the same thing that he “confessed”, only the venue changed.  Profiting in a shady way, not quite telling the truth and misleading the public.

This is not a new experience for me.  I belong to several authors’ venues and we often have speakers.  Several years ago, I listened as a semi-famous individual apologized for the mistreatment that goes on daily to dairy cows in California.  Really, in California where a plethora of watchdog organizations for animal protection and rights exist?  There may be more people living in California that care passionately about animal treatment that those that do not.  Every one of them is a whistleblower.  I’ve personally been to large scale dairy farm to check it out. I wanted to know. They may not be “Happy Cows” as the ad states, but the herd was certainly well cared for. The milking area was extremely clean and the ladies were very well fed.  The dairyperson explained that sick and mistreated cows cost money.  Common sense tells you that this visible dairy would be a favorite target for animal rights groups to take a look at.  These are operations that enjoy excellent reputations and are highly regulated and inspected.  I’m not saying mistreatment does not occur, but it does not occur in the exaggerated scale presented in the speech.  Dr. Google did not support the speakers assertions.

Exaggerating a grain of truth, whether it is a positive or negative one, has become too common place.  Don’t be common!

Do you check facts with Dr. Google, Yahoo, Bing or a fact checking site?  List your favorite sites below!  If you don’t check facts, today is a good day to start.  Please don’t be led by these obvious dupesters, gaining recognition and money on partial or no truth!  Please check facts, don’t follow the herd (pun intended) mentality.

P.S. If anyone else wants to apologize for their trust fund, please send me a check.  I can and will find a worthwhile way to spend it for you!

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Waiting 10 Months on a Permit!

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Repair work in progress after old balcony removal.

I have written before about my awesome list of things I need to get done.  I started with 100 line items and I’m ecstatically reporting the list sits at 25 today.  It represents a lot of my time and an additional $32,000.  Ouch!

I’ve budgeted $10K to construct the replacement second floor deck over the patio.  My handyperson is visiting his grandchildren in Illinois and will be back in a few weeks.  I hope to have the permit from the city by then.  It is about a 50/50 shot, I’ve been working on it since September 2016.  The plan check engineer had just a few more items for me to include, but my engineer was in a vehicle accident!  He is o.k. but the vehicle was totaled, someone ran a stop sign.  It could have been worse and I so glad they are alright.  I’m hoping to get his results this week so I can submit the final changes.  The plan check engineer says he wants a P.E. designation, something that the code DOES NOT require and will cost me a lot of money.  My Civil Engineer is doing a lot of work for free, he has quite a bit of experience but is young working on his E.I.T. (engineer in training, precursor to the P.E. designation).  He has access to state-of-art design programs that take the guesswork out of the plans.  The building code gives the city leeway to demand just about anything, but it is not required.  I will give it one more try with all the plan check requested changes.  Keeping my fingers crossed and saying my prayers!

This will be the only job I seek a permit for.  It has been a painful process, with five trips down to the city.  The clerk (who is NOT an engineer and has no building experience) continually refused to take the plans for submission.  She finally saw it my way when I mentioned that I have made five trips and the exposed second floor doorways present a liability exposure for me.  Oh, and probably an exposure for the City as well, since they refused to even begin the permitting process.  I convinced her that we should let the plan check engineer tell me what he wanted and stop guessing.  (Yes I was a bit snarky.)

I will be revisiting the problems I have experienced with her after my job is complete.  She has created unnecessary obstacles, malicious ones, and even told me to have a man come down and help me out.  I’m not particularly a feminist, but that statement made my blood boil!  I have been a technical writer for 30 years.  I’ve worked for various building and manufacturing businesses.  My father, brother, and foster sons are in trades.  I know my way around a simple build like a balcony/deck.  It’s simple construction and physics!  I will be addressing this issue with the City Manager before long!  I don’t need this level of headaches in my life.

The final work on front of my house will be complete today.  I will write a separate post after I have a nice photo, it’s looking fine and dandy!

 

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Working on Me!

Admin Stairs - topThese are the stairs that I have mastered, twice a day.  There is a matching set at the other end of the parking lot that we circle three times to make up one mile.  It has not been easy and I huff and puff, but I have achieved some success. Around 20 pounds since Thanksgiving, 40 pounds in the last year.  That’s three dress sizes!  The last one is a little slower to come off.

It’s easy to do something for someone else, not so easy to be your own best friend.  Fitness is one of my goals for this year.  My weight was starting to signal early signs of medical problems ahead.  When your feet scream at you in pain by the end of the day, check your weight first.  My loving daughter let me know that one pound of fat can exert 7 pounds of pressure on just your knees.  No wonder my poor feet protested!

Seriously, diabetes and other medical problems run in my family and I am doing my best to beat the odds and avoid it all by eating right and exercising.  That means getting my weight down another 40 pounds.

While I’m at it, I’m working on my financial fitness as well.  Selling some stock, why was I keeping it anyway, some of it was a negative rate of return and some down in the 2% range.  I’ve kept the good performers and dumped the bad.  I have a new financial guy and he wants to manage all of it, but I’m a little on the cautious side.  I decided to compromise and keep my star performers, liquidate the bad actors and send the cash to him to invest.  He has one year to convince me he can handle my retirement money.  I can do about 5-7% on my own.  He was a little surprised when I told him that.  The money in my 401k was doing 3-4%, time to make some changes.  So I rolled the account out for him to handle it.

We all know that God has just two rules for us to live by, Love God, Love others.  That little rule that goes like this:  Love others as yourself.  Somehow we are able to lie to ourselves that we are doing good by giving away all our time.  Giving all your time to a cause, even to your family, is not a good thing.  Balance is a good thing.  If you do not spend the appropriate time taking care of yourself first, the quality of the remaining time degrades.  It is not giving your best to others.  Spending an hour on fitness at least 3 times a week keeps you healthy.  You are able to give to others a rested healthy persons time as opposed to a tired, run down and possibly sick persons time.

I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in my life.  No more sleepwalking, RLS and insomnia.  They finally figured it out; after a lifetime of extremely low REM sleep waking up felt like I was swimming through mud.  I am so grateful that they did since I have much more energy and as a result, I can exercise more and get in shape!

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Taking Care – Goals

The nasty head cold is circulating at work.  It has hit just about everyone, including me.  I don’t get the flu, but this hit me hard.  I beefed up on vitamins and hand washing, it still got me.  The nurse was afraid it could go into pneumonia and I have been on bed rest for the last two weeks.  BORING!!!

I did follow the doctor’s orders and made myself rest and take care.  I focused on my nutrition and being still.  I spent some time going over my goals for 2017.  I am a list maker and I need to look back to celebrate accomplishments in order to move forward in a positive space.   It has been hard to rest the last few days.  I’m finally released to return to the land of the living.

Goals for 2017 (subject to change)
Celebrate 2016 accomplishments
Finish attic bedroom
Move pantry move to new location
Build balcony (includes concrete work)
Kitchen remodel
Finish medical needs
Continue to lose weight and build strength
Remove carpet and lay hardwood floor in my office
Improve home security
Take a vacation
Save $$$
Stay out of debt
Resume Saturday patio brunches during the bloom
Finish at least one of two novels in progress
Let go of the novel that isn’t up to par and focus on the good
Grow critique group
Teach needle skills
Get notary license
Be more sustainable
Be humble and kind

I don’t know that I can do everything on my list of goals, but I’m sure going to give it a try!  Nothing is every gained by failing to take the first step.

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Burst of Energy!

panoramic-photo-project-status-12-20-16It’s been a few weeks since my last post.  I’ve been putting the time to good use in my attic room conversion!  All the sheetrock is hung, 90% of the taping is complete and at least one coat of “mud” has been applied.  The finish skim coat has been applied on about 10%.  I hope to get the rest of the taping/mud done this week and possibly the texturing sometime around Christmas.  The panoramic view might be difficult to get a good idea of the room.  It helps to orientate yourself if you imagine the wooden door and the glass door as opposite each other.

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Overkill Support Beam

Here’s another view of the early days when I first split the room in half at the top of the stairwell.  I’m not very fast, but it is getting done.  I used to be able to work only a half day on Saturday.  Since I’ve been sleeping better, I can now do an hour or so here and there after work and a whole day on Saturday.  If I had a whole Saturday!  I can also wake up as a functioning human by 8:00 a.m. now.  It used to take me until 10:00 a.m. to be able to think straight at work.

 

It’s been a large project, but I wanted to do everything above code requirements.  I’ve managed to do a lot of the construction using recycled/reclaimed materials.  The drywall looks like a puzzle because a lot of it was left over from construction sites.  It was free because the corners were slightly damaged.  I managed to get contractor packs of insulation for $50.00 at a going out of business sale.  I saved almost $500.00 there!  I did have to invest in two new LED lights and a fan.  I paid a professional electrician to alter the wiring.  My HVAC guy at work gave me the “T” to divert A/C and heat from the main line and coached me on how to do it myself.

I’ve made tentative arrangements with a High School senior art student to use the wall with the wooden door as a canvas for a senior project. Maybe a Dawn Redwood.  I love all things Sequoia!  I’ll post a photo if that happens.

The room is a little more private that my other bedrooms and I hope to have some very special visitors in it!  I think my WWOOFer* will like it!  I plan on giving them three choices of where to sleep.  This next year will be exciting as I attempt to transition from a consumer to a sustainable producer of my own food.  Who needs well over 5,000 sq. ft. of green lawn?  I would much rather have some zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, herbs and more in my garden.

*World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.  WWOOF has allowed Urban Gardens into the organization.  I already have a couple of WWOOFers that are interested in visiting my “garden”, several want to help in laying out the new format I’ve chosen.

https://wwoofusa.org/

Lots of changes, exciting times!

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My Brain is Broken – Why RLS?

I’ve always had what my mom called the wearies.  Even as a child I would shake my legs to fall asleep.  I remember my cousin shaking her whole body to get to sleep.  This was more normal than not in my family, so why would I question it?

I’m getting ready to retire in a few years so a round of medical appointments and routine screening.  My generalist was not happy with the non specific pain in my legs and my chronic exhaustion.  He sent me to a neurologist.  What seems like a million questions later and his diagnosis, broken brain.  Actually, low dopamine levels.  Just talking about my history of sleep walking, sleeping a few hours a night, waking up and trying to fall back to sleep resulted in almost no sleep night before last.  I’ve started on a very low dose of a drug given to RLS and Parkinson’s sufferers.  It’s so low that I didn’t expect to really notice any difference.  I managed to sleep approximately six hours straight through and was able to get out of bed before the third alarm went off.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still exhausted.  Just much less exhausted.  I’m hopeful that I will someday soon wake up rested and wonder at the experience.  Just think how much Mrs. Winchester could get done if the hammer didn’t feel like it weighed a ton and I could keep my eyes open!

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Better Man “The Gates of Your Dreams”

Head on over to The Better Man Project, this motivation blog on personal risk is worth the read!

The Gates of Your Dreams & The Dues You Must Pay

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Want vs. Need

Loft Update 9-2016.jpgMy fingers are itching to plant something so bad!!!!  Winter garden anyone? No, that is not on the list.  Sigh! Mrs. Winchester wins again!  Keep on building.

The loft room is almost done.  The electrical is mostly complete, the fan and second light fixture will be installed after the paint work is done.  I finally found a solid core door that will fit and if you look at the 8×8 block of wood on the right side of the roof, that is where I will eventually punch a hole into the main part of the house.  I still need to complete the short wall frame on the right and build a bench over the A/C.  I have purchased all the parts for the A/C vent into the room waiting for the box to be built.

I was rushing to give my adult kids more space to move back in.  They gave notice and are in the process of buying their first house.  Bad news is the good news, depending on how you look at it.

The Good News

  • They found a house they loved right away.
  • It’s close to me.
  • Their offer was accepted.
  • It’s in escrow, waiting for the home inspections now.

The Bad News

  • They found a house they loved right away.
  • Their offer was accepted.

Some of the pressure is off to finish the room and I’ve been lazy, feeling under the weather this week.  Mostly I think it is from the barometer dancing up and down with the weather.  We had some rain, but I was at work and didn’t get to enjoy it.  I did go outside for a quick minute to do my traditional dance in the rain.  I love to light a fire in the fire-place and read my Nook by firelight with a bowl of soup and freshly baked bread.  I’m making my own bread again, this time with bromine free flour!  (This is important for hypothyroid issues, metabolic syndrome or anyone with hormone issues of any kind!)

I added the rest of the single pane windows to the list so it bumped back up to 38.  That’s a lot better than 100 that we started with when we bought the home.  It will happen, I keep reminding myself that God is still in control and to just take it one nail at a time.

Instead of planting, I went online and selected what I want in my organic CSA box next week.  I can wait.  Retirement is not that far away and although I really want to build those raised garden beds, I need to finish the loft and balcony first!

Blessings to you all, remember to pray for Florida this week!

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