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Archive for June, 2007

Water Down the Wall Again

June 29th, 2007 at 01:16 am

Zipped downstairs today to get the punch supplies from the freezer and checked "The Wall" just to see if it was dry.......and no. All the old water drip lines on the wall were dripping new water. Yuk.

This tosses my theory about the garbage disposal out the window, since we haven't used it since it leaked when we did. This AM it was the dishwasher and the right hand sink in the kitchen....and the leak. Just the dishwasher last week, no leak. And, no water whatsoever upstairs around the sink area. Heck, none in the kitchen.
Once we get the plumber at the apartment tomorrow, we put this job on the list to be fixed. Still no emergency, but a definate must be fixed sort of problem.

I'm noticing mom isn't at all concerned about maintaining this home (or any of the others she owns). Not sure why. Dad was always the one that kept track of things, even tho mom helped and handled any rentals. She would rather not know about the water downstairs.....even tho she does KNOW how water damages anything it comes into contact with.

I've been the only one taking care of my homes for decades, so I'm used to watching for 'stuff that needs doing' as I call all these jobs. I even opened the conversation with mom last night about wondering when to stop putting big money into this home and just do the hold the line repairs. If she ever does sell this house, any new owner would level it and re build on the existing foundation. Or, at the very least, gut it and add a 2nd story. So, it seems to be excessive to put a new roof on (which the house will be needing) or make any big changes.

I have had a stay at home, no spend, no work (almost) sort of day. Moms bridge buddies are here having a great day of it... I did all the last minute cleaning and straightening up this AM and made a dessert for her to serve then have been enjoying a day of just playing around in the sewing room and here on the PC.

Moms bank called & said the funds were being deposited into her account from the bond she had bought earlier this month. The bank found another buyer for the entire order, so mom got all the money back. She thinks she should not invest these funds now and use it for the projects on this house. I guess this is where the conversation started yesterday; I'm just not sure the money would be well spent here. We are certainly making do here, although there are some things it would be nice to update.

This house is in a very well to do neighborhood.....although neighborhood is not the right term. There are houses along this one road, no one knows anyone, no one speaks really. Almost everyone has 'staff' and I'm the only person I know who mows the lawn themself. So, the property is worth more without the house almost! And, mom has a large enough piece she could build & sell the back half....which I think is a better idea in the long run.

This would cut the work in half here (which I'm totally in favor of). She could either move to the new house, or fix up this one. Or, sell the new, lease this and move to the beach house of her dreams. I like that option too.

Heard from the financial planner/accountant and attorney. The decedants trust was funded when dad died, and has the tax number. But, for some reason moms accountant never had her file the taxes on that trust. They all are saying it's no problem.....but, I'm guessing there probably are a few since it's been 7 years with no filing.
I'm sure learning lots...it seems like no day goes by without another huge thing coming into view here. Property, tenants, trusts, investments; all needing attention. No question why I moved over here anymore, that part is certain!

And, There Was Water........drip, drip.....

June 28th, 2007 at 06:26 am

Yes, this AM on one of my many treks down to the basement......I flipped the light switch and made a quick check of The Wall...... A small trickle of water and a crack in the wall with a drop or two; plus about an eighth of a cup of water on the floor. Hmmm.
Think the culprit is the garbage disposal after all the checking and re checking. Not a typical leak at the disposer however, but something to do with either the incoming water, or the drain behind the kitchen wall. The water is pooling upstairs in the dead space below the undersink cabinet or behind the cabinet. Yuk. Makes it almost impossible to get to.....but, easier now to tell a plumber what is leaking. Our version of taking care of this right now, is to not use the disposer! Temporary fix, but right now, that works.

Borrowed moms car for an errand to the title co, to sign for the re fi. Money will be wire transferred to my acct soon; actually forgot what day they said.
Took the car to the auto parts store, to pick up a tail light bulb, as we have one burned out. I thought I could get someone to show me how to replace said light since I couldn't seem to get to it on my own. (hate to be stupid, but the car must have been built around the light) No one at the store could get to the bulb either! So, it's a trip to a dealership for a lightbulb. I prefer vehicles where I can do at least the minor stuff.

Spent the last 48 hours cleaning and gardening so the house & yard look spic & span for moms bridge day tomorrow. Whipped out a bridge table cover too now that I'm here & understand just what she was needing. (from fabric I bartered for) Looks pretty good if I do say so....and the make shift sewing room worked too. I'm obviously too pooped to be writing....just tried to re read this paragraph and it doesn't even make sense to me! Off to bed!



Bending the Rules Credit-wise & Other Updates

June 27th, 2007 at 02:42 am

This was a new one for me, however it was explained to us as something being done "all the time" in the mortage business.

Mom was asked to add a family member on to 3 of her high limit cc acounts (all at zero balances) just long enough for the credit reporting companies to add the family persons name & account. This makes the credit of the person in question broad, or varied they explained. As soon as the report is noted, mom can take the person off the accounts. (which she will do) So, there is to be no risk to her.......she feels like she is helping in a family situation and I am just going to watch.

I'm not a betting person, but I'm willing to put money on this family person not being able to maintain a mortage .....if it happens in the first place. Buying isn't always a good choice for some. Although continued renting isn't a great option either, it seems to have so much less risk in this situation.

I'm grateful I don't need someone to work the system as it was explained to us.

Plumbing Update: None. No info. Nothing. Basement floor & wall are still dry. Just too frustrating not knowing how it got so wet, and obviously many times before. Mom said this AM "It's a good day if we don't see water".......I feel just the opposite. I think it is just nasty I can't come up with the problem! Wish I could see some water & nail down where it came from & when!

Historic Happening Here: I turned down money. Yep. Found 3 gentlemen to divide up the first round of cured wood dad had been saving to turn or carve. One of them asked what I was selling it for, and I turned it down. Dad would have shared before selling.....so that is what we did all day again today. There are 3 pretty excited woodworkers here in the Pacific NW tonight!

Racing to Keep Up With the Autistic One

June 26th, 2007 at 05:44 am

I'm exhausted.

The autistic young man showed up for a visit today around 3PM and I feel like I've run a marathon.

We started with compost moving......and got the new garden completely done. (still have more compost to move, will think creatively tonight so I have a solution when he gets up in the AM)
After dinner, he helped me load up a walk behind mower & we took off for the empty rental. He mowed the place, and for anyone who might have been watching us.......I hope they figured it out. My young man mows; just where he wants to mow. And he loves it. Looks like he has won the lottery while he is working. Had the mower on FAST and was just trotting along all over the yard. I had a hard time getting him to do the whole yard. When he finished, the place did look better than when we arrived, but it was an odd bit of mowing to say the least. He moved a roll of new vinyl into the garage too......so we're ready for the kitchen floor man to arrive ..whenever we get that going.

Back home, we set up a ramp thing my dad had constructed years ago, as a way to move things in and out of the basement without having to go inside and down the stairs repeatedly. Sort of a slide that hooks to the window well and drops off into the rec room. (otherwise known as the storage area) I passed 20 something pieces of dried wood my dad had saved from the 70's up to the ramp thing and my strapping young man picked them up and moved them into the garage. Whew. I was beat and he was laughing hysterically by this point. I'm so grateful for the help but he doesn't even understand that part.....he just had a ball.

Tomorrow a couple more local woodworkers are to arrive & we'll divide up the wood chunks. These are all set for people to either carve or turn them on a lathe. Dad would be thrilled to know the wood was not being used for firewood and mom is pleased I'm locating folks that seem to understand a 'good chunk of wood'.

Resting up tonight.....hoping I can sort of keep up with tomorrows day. Autistic kiddo is sleeping over & we're getting up at 6AM in order to watch Mr Rogers together (his best hero....and no, he doesn't know the man is dead) Then, a big home made breakfast and back to the compost moving outside.

There was so much more this kid did today, now that I think about it. He couldn't have got my mower in the van until he unloaded said van....and hauled everything down into that basement. And those things wouldn't have fit in the basement until he hauled the stuff for the dump up to the garage......

What a day...and just think, we're doing a repeat of most of it tomorrow!!! Smile

Playing Plumbing Detective Still

June 25th, 2007 at 04:33 am

Still no answers re; the water issue in the basement here at moms. Yuk. The fan has almost dried out the floor, except for under the freezer. And, before you think it....no, the water didn't come from the freezer. It is empty and unplugged.

Every time water runs upstairs for any reason, or it rains, I'm dashing (well....more like dragging myself) downstairs. Still nothing. Very frustrating.

Did the last food bank/gleaner run this AM, as I'm too far away from the facility with the new move. Stopped at the old house & mowed the lawns, met with a tenant, picked the veggies & flowers and gathered eggs.

In between appointments, mom & I did the breakfast out deal again....nice little local restaurant, but almost $20.00 for breakfast. We had a good time, and the rest was great before we hit the rest of the days tasks.

The evening was spent dealing with the produce from the garden and putting the plants I had brought from the other house into the ground. I've got one VERY overgrown garden and one brand new garden. Neither is very attractive!

Found a plumber referral from a friend, so will be calling him in the AM to schedule the appointment ......no not for this place........but for the rental. Still trying to get that guys drains to all work at the same time. I got each drain to at least drain....but, the bathroom sink is pretty slow. Not OK to leave it this way, so that guy gets the plumber first. If we like him, we might let him have a go at our mystery water situation here at moms. I'd sure like to be able to figure it out first, so I wasn't paying plumbers wages to scope out the situation.

Still freecycling every chance I get, and every time mom gives the nod to get rid of something. Todays new event was the wood chunks dad had drying in the basement. (all up on rails, so nothing got wet) I've found a couple wood workers who are interested, so hoping I can clear out the maple chunks this week. I feel like I'm trying to set up the sewing room in a combination storage unit/garage sort of space. Not pleasant!!

Must go to bed......gearing up for a visit from autistic young man tomorrow. We're attempting to clear the remainder of the pile of compost tomorrow (weather permitting) and then have him stay overnight. I'll be dragging by Tuesday!

Why is it Plumbing Difficulties Happen only on Weekends?????

June 23rd, 2007 at 11:57 pm

Is there some sort of Rule of the Universe that makes all plumbing events happen between Friday at 5:30PM and Monday at 9:00AM?? (with extra bonus points if a holiday falls on that week end too??)

I went downstairs here at moms house this morning (can no longer even remember why I went down) to find water on the basement floor coming from under a freezer that is no longer plugged in or being used. Discovered water trickling down the outside wall & could see where it had been doing so over time. (like maybe years??)

There is so much stuff in this basement it is impossible to get to the problem area without moving things........so that became the first job. Trash bags, buckets, rags........all hauled downstairs only to discover we had another layer to the problems in the basement.

Most of the stuff that needed to be moved isn't my moms. It belongs to the other dtr & her kids. Lots of stuff. Nothing of real value, nothing they are willing to come get; but mom won't get rid of it without their go ahead...at least until today.

9 big garbage sacks (the clear kind) were full of llama fleeces. My sister persons; as she was going to clean them, learn to spin and make these up into yarn to knit socks with. Not any more. They are at the dump. I can't tell you how many, nor what kind, of critters that were breeding their own little world in all these sacks. YUK. Think slightly damp animal fur.......infested with thousands of bugs squirming and flying around. We re bagged them and hauled them out to the yard.......then into the van and off to the dump. A great use of $17.00 in our opinion. You should have seen the attendant when he asked what we were dumping. I'm certain no one else had ever dumped llama fleeces.

Now, I'm trying to pinpoint where the slow leak is coming from. Can't see it anywhere. Have a couple possibilities, but want to narrow it down before having a plumber in here this coming week so I'm not paying them to search out the problem.

Most of the cupboards upstairs that cover the most likely problem area have backs that come off, so I'm cleaning cupboards and removing all the backs. So far, dry & dusty/cobwebby. Each time I get into a new area & find it dry, the mystery deepens.

I go downstairs anytime we use water anywhere upstairs & can't see the trickle on the wall yet. We're expecting rain tonight & tomorrow.....thinking maybe it is a clogged outside drain that is allowing water to pool underground near the foundation?? Not likely, as you can see the subfloor is wet so it is definately inside the house in my opinion and not coming from under a 6' eave and uphill under a concrete porch the length of the home.

The downstairs was looking so much better with the sewing room getting organized.......now it is a shambles and damp to boot. I have a fan running and windows open so that is helping dry the cement out.

Upstairs is looking like we're moving or something......cupboards open and emptied into boxes; sitting around everywhere in the kitchen.

I hate mysteries. Especially when they involve water where it isn't supposed to be. And, of course......over a week end where I can't even start to resolve this. (way too cheap to pay week end rates when we aren't in crisis mode)

Catching Up

June 23rd, 2007 at 07:20 am

Been working all the waking hours here.
Making slow but steady progress, clearing out space for my odd collection of things I move over to moms every week end. Things I can't live without, things I won't live without and not much else.

Freecycling things as soon as my mom breathes anything about letting me get rid of something. The neighbors must wonder....if they even notice. Mom lives in an area of homes where I would bet no one freecycles or re uses or anything similar. And, yes, I do feel quite out of place here! Smile

We've been out somewhere every day for what seems like weeks. In my other life, I would go weeks without going anywhere. What a switch. Not sure yet which I prefer.......most likely a decent combination of the two.

The rental issue is still not resolved. The potential tenant came back to the table wanting to know more about the 2 items I couldn't say yes to. Specifically, what percent the increase would be after the 2 year lease.....and what we would charge if he were to add other businesses in the bldg. Of course, I don't know those answers.

The biggie was the bond issue of moms. We did get that sale reversed. Had no idea you could do that......but we did. The firm sold it to other clients & mom has her funds back. In this whole deal, she met with the financial mgr from another firm (where she has had funds for decades) and the one where she & dad had first learned about living trusts. After only minutes of this meeting, I knew we were in deep doo doo. After one person dies, there needed to be a decedents trust set up and funded. This gets a tax ID number & pays income tax separately. Well, can you say no, to all of that? Mom hasn't had any of this done. Should have been accomplished 7 years ago. Much scurrying and phoning going on to see if we can play a grand game of catch up here.
Also found out there are probably no properties in the right branch of this trust, the branch that will eliminate probate, and decrease the estate taxes. Of course, all this needed to be done 7 years ago too.

My brain is tired from all the meetings and my back is tired from all the gardening. At least I can see progress in the gardens! Even worked a deal with the neighbor kid; he needed to borrow my mower & I got him to start my edger! Things are looking tidier after running that around the beds.

Crossing fingers that Monday brings a round of phone calls and no further road blocks re; the trust/will/funding issues. Biggest issue I want to deal with is 'do iris require full sun or filtered sun??' Smile

A Stay at Home, No Spend Day

June 20th, 2007 at 04:37 am

Stayed home for the first time since moving to moms I think. She is the going-est person. Jump in the car & go here......no problem, just run to the store .......let's go; her favorite line!

Anyway, we both stayed here today. Spent nothing but personal energy. I continued to dig sod out of a new garden bed, taking all the sod to the new pathway to the back lawn and the clothesline area.

Also cleared out a garden bed in front and trimmed up the freecycle iris we picked up yesterday. Have them all in the ground and watered. If even half of them take off, we've got an exceptional bed of cut flowers on the way. (also have 2 more people sharing iris with us this week......must come up with another area for those)

Tomorrow is garbage day here....I've not had garbage pick up ....hmmmm ....in over 20 years maybe. Tuesday night is the regular clean out the fridge or freezer event here. Working on the upright freezer in the basement, food has been in there since ....well, let's say I'm embarrased to say. Another month or so, I'll be done with this project.

Have convinced mom to try a month of eating out of her pantry and freezer, with no trips to the store, with the exception of milk. Now if I can just keep her from going to the store to "stock up" prior to our little contest starting. Smile

Slow Tenant Finally Pays Up

June 17th, 2007 at 09:46 pm

Came to the old house again today; and in my mail was a check for May & June for one of the couples in the other house. Finally.
I had called twice, only able to leave messages........and was trying to figure out what Plan B was.

The group here at 'the ranch' says they will have rent soon........I'm just not sure this is going to work. Giving them til the end of July to see if they can get it together & get rent in on time. I know I jumped ship here with almost no notice, so I can't expect my little group of folks to suddenly be on the ball.

Got a rebate check from the power company, for turning in an old freezer. Also had 6 freebies in the mail, fun when they come in a bunch like this!

Also have the paperwork for the re fi on this house, so I will be paying off the major dental work. I've never pulled out cash, so this is a one time deal for me....but it is the year for me I decided, so here goes.

Have a van full of more 'things I can't live without' to take to moms. Heaven knows where I'll put them when I get there. All on top of the bridge playing table I suppose Smile That way, mom will have to let me get rid of some of the stuff stored in the basement so I can move my things in. Seems to be my best technique yet.

A shares vs. C shares ???????

June 17th, 2007 at 04:34 am

My alergic to numbers brain cells are having a meltdown this week end. Trying to keep up with mom & her banking/investment business, the meetings where people are explaining stuff to her (and to me) are making smoke come out my ears! I truly do think I have a learning disability when it comes to math. Is that possible???

I was with mom when she decided to take half of an account in an anuity fund and buy bonds with it, thus the A shares. Then, another of her investment people called and said......No, you shouldn't do A shares....let me come explain why. He touts C shares & told mom to call the bank and "bust the deal". Now, doesn't that just sound like something my 85 year old mother is going to do??? Well, she made the phone call, but had to leave a message on voice mail. Monday should be show down day between the two firms......with my mom in the middle and me just barely being able to follow the action.

I'm not the one to be giving mom advice, she has done just fine on her own over the decades, but I do believe I side with the C share guy.

Besides the money dilema here, we have had a great week end. The electrician has begun work on the rental house, we have purchased all the new fixtures & can see inside now. We sent the potential tenant our version of what we can and can't do. (thank you to all who have been brainstorming with me on this one) We are going to: go with the 2 year lease, give 2 months free rent for his labor & materials on the work list and we are paying for the electrical. We aren't going to: put a 10% cap on an increase after 2 years and we aren't going to give him reduced rent after 2 months of no rent. We are not going to allow him to sublet the space to other professionals to share the office, without renegotiating the lease, which would mean they would be paying for this house at commercial rates, by the square foot.
I'm expecting we have just ended the negotiations with this gentleman, but he could surprise me. We are OK with it if he decides we're too expensive. I think the property can pull in twice what we were asking. It has set vacant since Oct of last year, there is no mortage on it, just taxes, so mom is fine with continuing the search.

Have my week end young man with us this week. We packed picnic lunches and took off for a local beach park today. Very nice day. Sold a book on Amazon and got the funds for a Pinecone survey. Not a bad way to finish off the day.

Vandals in the Garden

June 16th, 2007 at 06:10 am

Yes, there are vandals. The winged types I believe......but I haven't spotted the offenders.

I have been watching the peas (or beans, I can't remember which is which in this new garden) as they began to break through the earth.... And, suddenly, they were all up one morning. Then, the very next day.......I went for my usual stroll throught the garden with the dog in the early AM., only to find the little sprouts picked up out of the dirt and laid on top. All down the row. Whatever did this, only missed 3 or 4 starts. I replanted as many as I could find that weren't all dried out...we'll see what sort of crop I get!

Odd if it was a bird, that they didn't eat the sprouts. Can't think of anything else that would just uproot the seeds and leave them either. Gotta love all the mysteries a garden brings!

On the flip side......tonight was the first brocoli from the garden. Totally yummy! So satisfying growing and then cooking your own food. Tastes nothing like what we get from the grocery store. Also had radishes, but that never feels quite like the TA DA of growing brocoli to me!

A Peek at the New Gardens

June 14th, 2007 at 06:32 am

Here's a few pictures of the new garden spaces at moms. Most of the bare dirt has been planted in seeds, so you need to use your imagination & fill in all the empty spots with lush foliage and prolific vegetables!



The firewood holder thingy is the container garden I'm copying from the farmers market booth we visited. Still have some work to do on this, but having a tough time getting the rocks to stay put on the ends. Might need another trip to the market!



The refurbished picnic table & benches turned out quite well & even matched the existing umbrella. Gotta love those happy accidents! Free paint too!



New seedlings are up this morning; can see the beets, lettuces, radishes and also the beans & peas! Can hardly wait for a garden fresh salad!



This last picture is a before shot, we'll see what it turns into!

Mystery Shopping Works for Me

June 13th, 2007 at 07:08 am

I'm in my 2nd month now of this and can now be considered a Professional Mystery Shopper I guess. Isn't getting paid for something all it takes to be considered professional??

I had signed up for 2 dining "shops" this month and just this evening finished the last one. The online survey doesn't take long, since the restaurant is the same one, the questions are the same too. It is easier the more I do if it....just like everything else.

This company is paying for the meals as well as paying a small sum for completing the survey, so in my opinion it is a great deal. The latest email from them says there are still more of the "shops" unassigned, so I might offer to do one more......as mom said tonight, "force us to go out to dinner again!" Smile

Spent what seemed like the entire day on the phone. Cancelled several things that had shown up on my CC for some reason, called the companies and the CC & will get it all credited. Hopefully, have it straightened out.
Trying to figure out the history on an account of moms, ended up with more questions than answers today. Her advice was to "look at it again in the morning". Not thinking it is going to be much clearer......think a trip to the bank is in order pretty soon here.

Also trying to weigh the info coming in for moms 2 investment accounts. I'm just barely understanding what she has done with her proceeds from 2 real estate transactions. Both account reps want the money from the other account....and they are putting on some pressure, each trying to say the other account is BAD for one reason or another. (I hate that when companies focus on the bad, rather than impress me with their own positive points)

I've listened and tried to follow so many money trails today....and my brain absolutely fries when it has to try & process numbers. I'm going to try moms advice & think about it all tomorrow!

Still no resolution re; the potential renter. Mom is leaning towards just letting the property sit vacant. I'm thinking of putting together a counter to his proposal; yes to the 2 year lease with the cap on rent increase, Yes to 2 months rent in exchange for the work (extensive work needed, we have a list from the walk through yesterday). No to the lower rent proposed from Sept-Dec and No to him adding additional desks and renting them out himself to get his rent lower.

Hoping I don't dream of numbers, for me that would truly be a nightmare!