Tag Archives: home

Waiting 10 Months on a Permit!


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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Filed under Homeowner, Projects

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.


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.


Lots of changes, exciting times!

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

The List Goes On!


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

Lagging Energy? Take Baby Steps!

I survived my duel with mono and strep as well as the National Novel Writing Month. Yes, I hit the 50K word count goal but, no, my energy level is not back up to par. I’m o.k. with it taking a little longer to rebound since I am sleeping well and it is still the rainy season. My son-in-law has been very generous with his time and has kept my fire box stocked with wood from the outside.

I have about forty projects on my list. I have banned any additions to the list as well as a prohibition on any new starts. I managed to actually complete a project even with my lagging energy. There is a beam over my fireplace in my den that is about 10” x 12” big and runs the length of the den. It had been painted several colors through the year and the finish was nasty looking with bumps of plaster in places.

I used an orange oil based paint stripper because of the allergies my daughter suffers from.  It did not work as fast as the toxic ones do and I had to re-apply it a few times.  It did work well and I didn’t have to worry about the fumes so I was happy with the product.  My patient son-in-law busted out the big sander and went to town after the stripping phase was complete.  Have you ever held a heavy belt sander upside down, over your head for an extended period?  I tried for about 20 seconds and then called in the cavalry!  It is now stained and sealed and I love the look!

I will write a separate post about how to deal with a midnight visit from an Opossum and sew up a chicken butt.  No, we did not eat the chicken, it was an option though.

My project list for my little urban homestead was over 75 items long three years ago.  Baby Steps, just press on.  There have been many times that I was tempted to feel sorry for myself.  It doesn’t accomplish anything but one more small step in the right direction, day after day, will accomplish much.  Now it’s on to my next project, tiling the master shower, and planning for the start of the growing season. 

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My Life is a Circus!

My life is a circus and I have a tent to prove it! It has been a little crazy lately. My beloved was a wonderful man. He could leap tall buildings, fix anything, reverse engineer or design engineer almost anything. I’m not exaggerating, he was a genius and had the IQ scores to prove it. He would give you the shirt off his back and had literally done so on at least two occasions I can recall. But, ah yes the but! He could not say no! Even when it caused his death. A close friend and former mentor had a heart attack and it turns out he was a hoarder. This could have been filmed for a reality show. The hoarders’ adult daughter called and pleaded for help. Mind you she had her family, her husband, her church, her father’s church and many friends in town. We lived over an hour away. But hey, she knew this close friend who could perform miracles and who wouldn’t say no….

My beloved should have been in intensive care with a fatal case of pneumonia. He was resting at home because he feared and hated hospitals. She knew this, you could hear it in his voice and as he coughed up liquid.

The call came and he went on Friday. I went with him on Saturday and Sunday and helped toss over a ton of belongings into a roll off dumpster. I begged, I cried, I watched him bend over and cough out water from his lungs. He came home Sunday night, could not get out of bed Monday and died on Tuesday morning. He was 52.

I do not bear her ill will, I am not angry with her, I think I have forgiven her, I may have to again, but I am not ready to talk to her yet. Maybe when the circus has left town and I can find some balance in my life again. Maybe these relationships just need to gently fade into the past with the pain as time goes by.

It has been one year and I have been fighting the bugs that came home with him all this time. The cockroaches were easy to kill, the silverfish a little harder but not impossible. The bed bugs won. Until I declared nuclear war and called in the fumigators. Food had to be removed and frozen. Anything taken out of the house had to be frozen or heated to over 130 degrees. We had to find homes for our three cats and ourselves for a week. My adult daughter is spending a few months with me to help me with the chaos of my life. We are both chemically sensitive and Vikane gas with a Tear Gas precursor is a very nasty chemical cocktail. It kills EVERYTHING! We have tossed and replaced one mattress and one box springs and had to destroy a lot of food that we either missed or just wouldn’t make the transfers. The tent alone cost $2,640. and other costs are still mounting. The biggest cost has been the life of my husband so the material possessions pale in comparison.

Clean, toss out, reorganize, sanitize…boxes and bags everywhere. I think it is the residue from the tear gas that is giving us sore throats and sore nasal cavities. It is better after washing all the bedding. The hundreds of little black bodies all over the house…who knew how many house flies and spiders we really had, even after a grocery store type of chemical bombing. The vacuum is busy and so are my daughter and myself!

My advice to you, say no when it is appropriate! Take care of your own health first! Regift, REDUCE, reuse, recycle! And so very important to avoid some of this mess….go to Wal-Mart and buy mattress and pillow cases for bed bugs. Put your box spring, your mattress and every bed pillow in the house in one! Strip all bedding, including the blankets, off your beds after visitors and wash and/or at least heat up in the dryer.

The folks at Clark Pest Control have been as wonderful as they could possibly be. They were very aggressive with the process (a good thing) and their sales person, Vincent, called me almost daily during the process. Sometimes three and four times a day. Now that I have “come clean” about my experience, others are confessing their own stories and what we have is an epidemic of bed bugs, especially areas that do not freeze over. Think about it….someone will pay the consequences of our actions, maybe not ourselves, but someone will.

Fumigation Tent

Fumigation Tent


Filed under Family Times, Grief, Travel