Category Archives: Homeowner

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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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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Filed under Garden, Homeowner, Prepare, Projects, Urban Farming, WWOOF

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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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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The List Goes On!

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The shed finally gets painted!

 

I think “The List” has become a sentient life form!  It started as a punch list of 100 items when we purchased the house.  My beloved whacked it down to 75 before he fell ill and died.  I have continued to hack away at the list.  Friends, family and sometimes hired help have helped me to whack some more off the list.  It was at 28 this morning but I allowed myself to add to it.  I have found myself arguing to avoid any additions, to just finish what we originally listed.  I lost the argument today and added eight window replacements.  They are all poorly hung, leaking, single pane windows.  Only one should be a problem replacement because of its location.  Three I might be able to do by myself, if Dahve will assist in the selection process.  Who knew there were so many different flanges to windows?

The List now sits at 36 with seven items to be completed before December 31, 2016.  The total estimated cost is between a conservative $10,000 to a possible $13,200.  “The List” is the reason I may work freelance for a few hours after I retire.  I have a couple of post retirement offers of work.  I will be fine with Social Security if I keep the income under $17,000.

I didn’t get any work done on the loft room or any of my could of, should of, or would of’s.  I did get the tool shed painted and is ready for winter and the sprinkler system is finally repaired.  The connecting pipes were disconnected from the main pipes.  The general belief is this happened due to the tilled soil settling and/or running over them with heavy weight.  We deep tilled the soil before installing the pipes due to the problems in the yard with chunks of debris buried in it.  We removed several truckloads of trash and concrete before the yard was ready for seed.  I would rather repair the sprinklers than have toxic trash and bits of concrete work their way to the surface, ewww.  The side yard was not tilled and I am still digging out trash from inside the house six years later!  Six heads repaired or replaced and my dead lawn is good to go again.

I feel like this was a good weekend.  Sprinkler system repaired, shed painted and a great talk on Sunday from Andy.  No Elvis impersonator this Sunday, but a great version of “Can’t Help Falling In Love”.  My take away this week is to love on purpose, to think before I speak and to bear with those irritations in life.  (Co-workers come to mind, 468 days to retirement!) More positive thinking and positive talking!  I also spent time with the beautiful daughter, son-in-law and my stolen son’s daughter.  The four of us walked through IKEA, (g-daughter and I did it twice) so daughter could get design ideas for their new house.

P.S. Could you use some relationship help?  The current Thrive Church-CA series is all about relationships, some good talks with usable information from Andy Bernard and Jeremiah Aja.  Check out Thrive Church-CA!

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Filed under Family Times, Foster Children, Garden, Homeowner

I Can Sleep When I’m Retired?

Most of the insulation is done for the attic space that will be closed in as a bonus room.  The wiring is complete and I only need to build the wall out that the door will be installed on.  I drove my trusty truck and picked up 10 sheets of drywall.  Now, how do I get those 10 sheets up the garage stairs into the attic?

Daughter is on a weight restriction, no go.
Son-in-law is working late, too late.
Foster son is working overtime, too tired.
Neighbors are out-of-town, no go.
Friends are older than me, nope.

Pastor Andy’s sermon from Sunday reminded us that we can create our own loneliness and isolation.  When we are hurt or even grieving, we withdraw and then wonder why we are lonely.  He challenged us to reach out instead of withdrawing, to ask for help when we really need it.  O.K. so is this a test to see if I was listening?  We have a neighborhood watch app for my street that includes four or five neighboring streets.  I posted a note that I needed help unloading 10 sheets of drywall.  A kind husband/wife team in their 70’s were the ones that showed up to help.  The wife and I switched off carrying one end and the husband carried the low-end.  I was very grateful for their help and sent them home with jam, honey and a dozen eggs from the girls.  They were so helpful and would not accept money, true neighbors!

I checked the punch list.  I’ve been telling people I was down to 30 something.  I’m happy to say that I am down to 28, Whoot!  Down from the original 100 and no under 30!  Tonight I will be cutting drywall to fit into the small spaces.  Tomorrow night my son-in-law will be over with his might and height to help with the ceiling drywall.

Sigh!  I will be happy when all the construction projects are finished.

28

 

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Filed under Grief, Homeowner, Projects, Uncategorized

The Sounds of Mrs. Winchester

Ahh, September, and a better attitude!

The kids call me Mrs. Winchester because of my “punch list”.  I can hire the work done or live comfortably in retirement.  So this month I have been hanging insulation in the attic, framing in part of it, and finishing with drywall.  I need to have the painting and carpet done by the end of the month.

I’ve put the screws to my independent daughter to move back in with me.  I have all this space to myself and not even a cat shares it with me now.  I want to be able to travel when I retire and having the kids there will give me freedom.  My house has two bedrooms upstairs and two downstairs with the master on the first floor.  That gives them a certain degree of privacy and the bonus room in the attic will give them even more space to spread out and two external entrances once the deck is rebuilt.  Plus, there is the added security of having a large 6′ something man hanging around brings as well as fewer hours the house is unoccupied.  They will bring with them two hefty attack cats.

The original deck was causing a major water problem and mold so it had to come down.  I hope to have it rebuilt by the end of October but the City is a bit slow on the permitting process.  It will provide even more privacy and a nice relaxation space overlook the backyard.

I’m a bit frustrated because I can measure, cut and place the boards, but I can’t seem to seat those screws and I have to ask a manly man to come finish them off for me.  So much for equality of the sexes, we are equal, just not the same. Sigh! At least this way the work progresses and I don’t have to wait for someone to donate their free time.  Mr. T or my friend Dahve are happy to finish off those screws since it doesn’t take much time.  Dahve is always ready to give me building advice.  He dropped by this week because I was two inches off and didn’t see how to solve the problem.  He had a quick answer that provided a nice finished look.  There is no substitute for experience!

The chickens are doing fine, enjoying the seeds from the spent cardone.  I didn’t get to cook and eat much this year because of my schedule so I let it go to seed.  The vocal birds encouraged this.  My feathered friends come when I get close to the plants and bock at me to pull the fluffy tufts to get the seeds.  They push each other out of the way to compete for treats.  I’m constantly amazed by these dinosaur relics.  Their fantastic eyesight is demonstrated as they zone in on the little seeds and pluck them with 100% accuracy out of my hand, never hitting my hand once!  Chicken T.V. is still the best show around.

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Mrs. Winchester – Today

People acquainted with me know about “the list”.  We bought an older home that needed a “few” repairs.  The punch list was 100 items long, my beloved completed the first 25 and then was promoted to work full-time for Jesus.  That left me with 75 items and very few skills.  I have drive, determination, an advisor and WiFi.

I watch a lot of fix it shows on Dish and even more You Tube videos on “how to”.  Once I have gained enough knowledge to ask intelligent questions, I ask my advisor Dahve what he thinks.  He thinks I’m funny.  I’m really not trying to be.

So there is always construction going on since it takes me forever to complete even a simple task.  Sustainable construction is the newest catch phrase.  I’m good with that, I need raised garden beds and I have this pile of old wood.  I can do that.  Sigh, it takes me an hour to pull the nails, scrape off the foam and get one long board ready to cut down for a garden bed.  I have two completed and need at least two more.  It was a little disappointing not to have something completed so I installed my rain gutter garden on the shady side of the house and planted my parsley and cilantro seedlings.  It looks a little wavy so I probably should have used more than four washers and screws.  I got a little distracted with the camera and thought you would enjoy my Cardoon (or cardonni) plants in bloom.  They are not artichokes, which are cultivated for the bulb, but are in the same family.  I can’t possibly eat all of this but I did discover the single ladies (chickens) love, love, love the seeds that hide in the dried thistle.  If you look close, you can find more than one or two of my bees nestled down in the purple fluff searching for pollen.  Guaranteed pollination!  Cardoon is an Italian veggie and you eat the celery looking stalks which does taste like artichokes, yum!  Hope you enjoy.

 

 

 

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Filed under Bees, Chickens, Garden, Homeowner, Photography, Projects, Urban Farming

Punching the List

Punch list update! 

The short story, we bought a house, made a repair “punch” list, closed a business, inherited a quilters will, a crafters will, my favorite maiden aunt died and my beloved got sick.  Then he died, all within three years. Breathe.

My beloved managed to slice a good portion of the 100 item punch list before he was promoted to engineer for Jesus full time.  The twenty five items he completed were big ones that would have been costly for me to hire to complete.  He rewired walls and the main panel, replaced rafters, installed two sprinkler systems, built a staircase, installed a floor in the two lofts and more.  I am so thankful for what he managed to complete!  The 76 items left loom over me like an oncoming freight train.  I budgeted for them carefully and set a priority for each item and began to tackle them one by one. 

Saturday morning I was able to put the final coat of paint on the trim around a sliding glass door and hang the blinds.  This was the completion of a long drawn out item that included: repairing water damage to the wall, removing its cause, associated black mold, insulation and drywall, some wiring and replacing a damaged outside light fixture.  I lost the alarm, electricity, light and phone on that wall due to the water damage.  The patio cover on the outside of the wall had to also be removed and the damage to the stucco repaired and trim replaced.  Research and technical advice on how to proceed were required to proceed.  It also required I face my Kryptonite, multiple trips to the big box hardware stores where the service is less than desirable when you don’t know what you are doing!  I am sooooooooooo happy that this wall is done!!!!!!!

I haven’t been brave enough during the last few months to even look at the outstanding punch list.  I could only deal with one overwhelming task at a time so, what was the point.  Today I opened up the Excel spreadsheet to move the wall repairs to the completed page and do a review/update of my remaining tasks.  There are some larger ticket items on the list that include:  insulate attic, tile the master shower, replace kitchen window and associated water damage on that wall, replace water damaged kitchen cabinets, remove two crumbling cement pads, replace patio pad, new patio/balcony (old one is removed), new construction of walkway from bedroom to landing in loft.  There are a total of 30 items, the rest are easier and lower cost.  The budget for the entire list is $33,960.00.  I feel so broke just looking at it!  Items that I complete myself will lower the cost but take longer.  Welcome to homeownership.

A review of the completed page revealed that I was completing the tasks at a rate of one a month.  Good right?  At this rate, I will finish the list in almost three years.  I really need it done in two so I can retire and transition to a fixed income.  That means I need to complete seventeen tasks this year, thirteen tasks in 2017 and four tasks in 2018 for a total of 34.  The last four tasks are looking like they may have to just stay a wish and a dream. Reality is, I may not have the money to complete them.

Who knows, if I am brave enough and talented enough to actually finish my three novels and sell them, it might just work out.  My home is no longer the horrible looking pit it was when we bought it in a short sale.  It’s still in the needs improvement  category but I have two neighbors that have usurped me in the “worst” house spot. Each item I can complete on the punch list only improves the look and value of my home. 

The land of optimism is a much better place to live than the dark side.  There are more sane people there.

 

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Filed under All Things Crafty, Grief, Homeowner, Projects, Writing

Anxious Much?

I was raised by a bitical woman (bitter + critical = bitical).  That explains where I learned to fail so well but it does not explain why, equipped with this knowledge, I can’t seem to shake it off.  I ended the relationships that were so toxic and damaging to me completely when my beloved died and they (plural) saw it as an opportunity to attack me personally when I was at my lowest.  I had all but ended relationships with them before but, without my beloved protector and personal encourager, it was no longer possible to have contact with them.  That is their problem, my problem remains but is different.

I set wonderful goals with appropriate steps to complete them; good time frames and even plan outside influences to create my success.  I have great technical plans and then I fail to follow through until completion.  My big girl pants just don’t seem to stay on as long as I need them to.  I shoot myself in the foot on a regular basis and when I get close to the goal line, I fail to finish.  I have volumes of stories that have never seen the light of day. This blog is the first time I have freely let my words leave without rushing to pull them back and protect them from harm.  It is a learning experience for me and, perhaps because I have so few followers, I’ve been able to let it go and be myself.

NaNoWriMo has been a great experience for me to “turn off my inner editor” which is really a technical writer and the child of bitterness.  Coaching others to complete the 50,000 word count has helped me grow and throw out my inner bitical critic. Seven years as a staff volunteer for the San Francisco Writers Conference has provided me with healing encouragement and hundreds of success stories and relationships with people who are happy to see me when I walk into the room.

To stretch those new confidence muscles even more, I have started my own critique group and am going to submit two short stories for publication in an anthology.  It is not so important that I get accepted for publication as it is I actually submit it.  I sent one of the stories to a beta reader.  Not just any beta reader but, one I consider to be a true American hero.  He served as an Army Ranger and later as an undercover police officer.  He gave much for his country, including the life of his mother when his cover was blown.  He is quiet, humble and extremely smart.  The story deals with PTSD, a subject he is an expert on.  I highly value his opinion.

I sent the story to my friend yesterday at 5:00 p.m. and was awake most of the night.  My anxiety level was sky high.  I expected one of two things; he would read it and politely say little or nothing or attack it with a full offensive.  Neither happened.  The time stamp was 10:27 p.m. the same day and he liked it!  His wife liked it! He gave me 12 suggestions (some I should have caught if I wasn’t so anxious).

It is time for me to succeed!  I have awesome friends and an awesome God!  Now Tessa, let it go and get it done.

Worry for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

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Filed under All Things Crafty, Grief, Homeowner, Life Lessons, SFWC, Writing