Friday, March 29, 2013

Is It Spring Yet?

This past Sunday it was snowing to beat the band.
Today, the high was in the upper sixties.
Yet, ol' man winter isn't quite ready to give up just yet - Monday's high is supposed to be back in the thirties, with a chance of snow.

Ah, the vagaries of spring!

I was among the small minority who actually liked Sunday's snow.  It was messy out, so I changed all my plans and stayed home.  Did laundry, exercised, read a book, slept in - there are far worse ways to spend a day.  And, it was pretty!

Today, I spent the day working on my new house.  Dull stuff - I liked it better back in the days when I didn't know how to prep walls, so just painted 'em.  They didn't look near as good when I was done, but I didn't have to spend several days spackling and sanding and priming before I started.

In between, I had my one-year checkup with my oncologist.  All is looking good.  My blood numbers are good; from all appearances, the beast is still tied up by the side of the road in northern Egypt.

I didn't know how worried about it I was until after the visit.  Part of me was just SURE that it was going to come back and I was going to be stuck with this house with no way to finish the project and I'd have to move in and the walls would still be all yucky and mustard yellow and in desperate need of paint.  I guess the Universe had other things on its mind than making my life miserable - and I appreciate it!

This painting is taking longer to finish than I'd anticipated, and there's a part of my mind that is convinced that it'll be mid-May and I'll still be working on the walls.  (No, it's not the logical part that looked at a calendar, it's the worry-wart part that's convinced that if the sky is not falling today, it's sure to start coming down tomorrow.)  Still, I'll be glad to have it done.  I'll be there again all day tomorrow and part of Sunday.  Maybe I'll be able to make enough progress to still my worry-wart mind.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Bonding Moments

You know, I think every mother and son should plan a bonding activity every once in a while.  Joe and I had one just yesterday; we took down a chimney together.

The shared driveway on my new house is only about nine feet wide as it runs between the two houses.  There was an abandoned chimney, originally used by the gravity furnace (we think) on the north side of my house, taking up a good 16 inches of that valuable driveway real estate.

Joe was home for the weekend because he doesn't care for the St. Pat's festivities down in Rolla, so I took shameless advantage of his presence and asked for his help tearing down the chimney.  (Yes, I still have a fireplace - there's a second chimney on the south side of the house.)  He, being a good and dutiful son (or something like that), agreed to help.

Yesterday, I hauled him out of bed at the crack of ten and we headed to the hardware store to pick up a ladder and a few other things we needed.  (All good projects start with a trip to the hardware store.  For the best ones, you get to buy new tools!)  It was a beautiful and unseasonably warm spring day, and by the time we got to the roof, just before noon, the temperature was perfect.

I'd read on the web about how a hammer and chisel would be good to take out old mortar, and they were spot on.  Joe had a wonderful time with the upper three feet of the chimney - he got to tear things apart, make a mess, AND throw stuff off the roof.  How much more fun can a guy have?  He didn't even need to use his chisel much; that old mortar didn't need much encouragement to give way.

The job did get a little long about halfway down the wall, but we stuck with it, trading off stand-on-the-ladder-and-free-up-bricks vs. haul-the-bricks-off-in-a-bucket duty each time we lowered the ladder.  Joe got his second wind about the time he didn't have to stand on the ladder any more (he REALLY doesn't like ladders - or so he informed me, at least once...), and pulled the last 8' down by himself in about an hour.  I felt a bit like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, going in circles, bringing back the empty bucket and picking up the one he'd filled with bricks in the time it took me to drop off the previous load.

It was just after nine by the time we finished; long dark and beginning to cool off.  But, we got 'er done, sweeping the piles of debris off the driveway with an attitude of tired accomplishment. 

NOTICE:  bragging ahead:  And, I was QUITE pleased with myself this morning because it only took two Advil and I was moving around without undue stiffness or soreness.  I guess I'm not entirely out of shape, just yet...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

House Hunting: Done

These last two weeks have been NUTS!

Things with the house sale were going along beautifully, I was all set to close on March 1st.  Then, on Feb. 28th, around 4PM, the appraisal came back to the lender - 10K shy of our agreed upon purchase price.

rrrrrrkkk!  I put on the brakes.  (I'm not positive how you spell the screeching brake sound...)

I didn't think, in this day and age, paying 10K above the appraisal price was sound financial practice.  The sellers were (are) of the opinion that because they invested X dollars in the house, it HAS to be worth that much, my bank's appraisal was completely bogus, and they weren't going to budge.

Thus started a week of:  It's on.  It's off.  It's on. It's off.  (I have a whole new crop of gray hairs.)

I thought we had a agreement - if the bank would come up 5K, the sellers and I would split the other 5K.  The bank re-looked at the appraisal, and came up, not 5K, but 6K.

OK, that just leaves 4K to split.  But, oh, no.  After agreeing on the phone over the weekend, when the time came to amend the purchase contract, they wouldn't do it.  Arrggh!

Finally, last Friday morning, after an attempt Thursday by their agent to deceive me into thinking they'd amended the contract per our latest agreement, when in fact, all the advantage went to the sellers, and the entire over-appraisal difference landed on my side of the balance sheet, I'd had enough.

First thing in the morning, (3:40AM is first thing, right? - I was a bit peeved and couldn't sleep), I sent my agent an email saying I'd had it.  I outlined my final offer, and gave them until noon to respond.

They accepted it at 11:45 - with the stipulation that I close that same day.  (say, what???) Thank goodness my bank had penciled me in, just in case.  I closed at 5:00, had the locks changed by 6:30.

I guess I'm glad I own a house again.  Any ideas on how to get the bad karma cooties out of it?  It's not its fault it belonged to those entitled jerks.  (I'm thinking maybe a party with lots of laughter.  Bad karma cooties just HATE joyful noises...)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Anger in the Snow

As I was thoroughly enjoying my walk through the new-fallen snow last week, I rounded a corner and came across a black man who seemed out of place in the scene.  He came too quickly from an set of townhouse driveways.  I said good morning, and he returned my greeting, but something was off.  As I walked on, I looked down the drive he'd come out of, and there on the ground was about 16' of copper line, freshly dropped, cut from the air-conditioner at the far end of the drive.

Instantly, I was furious.  I didn't stop immediately (a confrontation would have been risky, possibly dangerous, and the damage had been done), but continued a couple of dozen feet down the sidewalk, then stopped and turned back to look at him.  He was very carefully NOT watching me, totally absorbed in taking his scarf off and rewrapping his neck.  Once he finished, he crossed the street and left my field of vision.

I thought of calling 911, but discarded the thought immediately - I know the police can do little about property crimes at the best of times, and this was in the midst of a snowstorm.  They would have a hard time even getting to the street to file a report.  Seeing a gentleman shoveling out his truck at the other end of the block, I did the next best thing and walked down to let him know what had happened, so he could alert the neighborhood email list.  As I was pointing back down the street, telling him the story the black man came back, casually picked up his loot and again sauntered out of sight.

As I continued on with my week, I realized I was and am disproportionately angry at the black man.  He did $500 worth of damage so he could steal $30 worth of copper, for which he will receive $5 from the recycling center (if that).

Far worse, he ruined things for the young black men I work with each day.  They are good kids - they work and study hard and have every intention of being college-bound.  Because of 'that man', should they walk down that street acting like normal teens, doing normal teenage hijinks, they will be met with looks of suspicion and fear.  People will watch them go down the street, and the looks that follow them will be neither friendly nor welcoming.  That man perpetuated the worst of the stereotypes our young men are trying to break, and we are all worse off for it.


postscript:  Today at work I asked one of the black men there how he keeps from being angry with men like the one who stole the copper and ruin things for everyone with skin like him.  He had a two-word answer:  "I pray."  I will try to follow his path...