Thursday, August 29, 2013

Texting & Driving With A Twist…

I am all for promoting safety when it comes to driving. Too many tragedies occur due to drunk drivers or people talking on their cell phones. In fact, even when using “hands free” devices, people are still too distracted talking to drive safely. And now it’s been reported that texting while driving is even more dangerous than driving under the influence. The law is cracking down on drivers who break these laws with big fines and points on their license. So why am I peeved today?

I just heard that people who text drivers while they are driving are also going to be held accountable and responsible for any accidents they may get in. Of course the person texting the driver has to be aware that the person that are texting is operating a vehicle in order to get in trouble. If there is evidence of that, they will also be guilty of breaking the law. And this is where I think the law has gone too far! Where do you draw the line?

I fail to understand how all the culpability is not on the driver of the car when he, and he alone, decides it’s ok to answer his phone or read and reply to a text message? No one is putting a gun to his head and saying he has to answer every call or respond to every message, right? Last time I heard we all had free will and a reasonably functioning brain. What is so hard about the “No texting or using a cell phone when driving,” rule? It seems clear cut to me. There are no exceptions stipulated. Just a big fat DON’T DO IT rule.

Drivers are expected to follow dozens of laws and rules regarding safe driving. The onus is on the driver to do the right thing, whether that means going the posted speed limit, wearing a seat belt, abstaining from alcohol or shutting the cell phone OFF when driving. If a bartender or host of a party serves a driver a drink or two, are they also going to get in trouble if the driver gets behind the wheel and has an accident? What about the supermarket selling beer? What if the driver drinks it in the parking lot before taking off and has an accident? Is it the supermarket’s fault? Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get it.

The law should be tough on anyone who gets n their car and puts others on the road needlessly at risk because of their actions. Cell phones have been deemed to cause more accidents than alcohol. Crack down on drivers who won’t obey the rules. There are plenty of them. Almost everyone has a cell phone and I can’t tell you how many drivers I see every day chatting away with the phone in one hand and the wheel in the other. There should be a stiff penalty for first time offenders and then harsher penalties for second and third time offenders until people take it seriously. There is no excuse good enough for putting people’s lives in danger, and there is no one to blame except the driver, when he doesn’t obey the law.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Five Weeks After The Move…

Well five weeks have come and gone. I have been calling all kinds of people to do all the work we need done. My husband is a saint, but the scope of his handy skills are limited to changing an occasional light bulb. Thank God he earns a good living to pay others to do what we can’t. The first thing I did was to make a list for my electrician, Frank, to take care of. There were a couple of carpentry items he said he wouldn’t do because he wasn’t comfortable. That’s fine. I had plenty of electrical work on the list and he is a wiz at all that. I have five light fixtures changed, some outlets added and switches too.

Then I called a roofer/brick guy, Mik, who specializes in waterproofing to check the front and back of the house. He found some cracks, but more importantly, he said the lintels over four of the windows in front needed to be replaced. The engineer who inspected the house already told me this, so I knew it was true. He also said it would cost $800 to $900 a window. I hadn’t planned on doing this, but as both men explained, the lintels are holding up all the bricks that make up the front of the house. When they break down the bricks will crack and crumble. Mik told me he would replace 4 lintels, repair the cracks in the stucco and paint it, power wash the slate roof and repair/replace missing and broken slates and do some pointing on brinks that needed it front and back, plus caulk all the windows. We hired him to do it all which saved me from calling a few other people to take care of these jobs. It was expensive, but when he showed me how rotted away the old lentils were I knew it was a wise decision.

Once that work was done I needed a handy man, I called Marco. The kitchen cabinets are a nice cherry wood and not very old, but the damn hidden European hinges on three of them need adjustments. If you don’t know what kind of hinges these are, you are very lucky. If you ever get new kitchen cabinets, avoid them at all costs! Anyway, I wanted the handyman to adjust three of the cabinet doors that were not properly aligned and driving me crazy. The ones in the corner were the worst and I would not use them they way they were, and they had plenty of storage space that I needed too. I also needed the copper roof over my front door sanded and painted. He came yesterday and did both jobs. Two more things checked off the list!

I have been having ongoing conversations with the painter. The whole house needs to be painted on the inside. I don’t want to think about painting again for a few years. After coming and finally giving me an estimate, it took some back and forth texting and emailing to get him to bring the color charts and set a date to begin work. He tells me he will start day after Labor day, I can only pray that’s true. I haven’t been unpacking a lot of stuff so as to keep the clutter to a minimum and make it easier to paint all the rooms. I have not been buying furniture or curtains or rugs either, for the same reason. So this is holding me back a little, but based on his reputation for neatness, I was willing to wait. I had a very sloppy painter in the old house and that was a disaster! The mess he made was ridiculous. In the mean time, I let him know we picked our colors out and he plans to come back soon to iron out the final details.  So hopefully I will be reporting that the painter has started work next week.

Next job on the list is the front yard/patio. I called a neighborhood construction guy who seems to do most of the concrete, brick and paving work in the area. Of course he is also expensive. His name is Anthony and he is Italian. The both of us talking together sounded like a scene from The Sopranos. He had the nerve to make fun of my accent, when his is just as bad. Brooklyn accents are very distinctive! Besides that, I had him laughing because of my bluntness. He tells me that pavers for the front yard/patio wouldn’t cost much more than concrete and I know this is BS because I did my research. In the end the whole job is more expensive that I guesstimated, but my husband and I agree to hire him. It’s not worth shopping around for a cheaper price and then not have this big job done the right way. Anthony tells us to go to his office with a deposit and to pick out the pavers. We get there a little early. His secretary has us look at the various color pavers. After a few minutes Anthony comes out and he says, “Let me show you something,” as he grabs one of the books. I say, “So now you are going to show me what you want me to pick?” He breaks out laughing. As it turns out, I had already decided to go with the same pavers he was going to “suggest.” He promises to have the job completed by September 21st, one month after we sign the contract, unless we get a lot of rain and he falls behind. We agree no one can fight the weather.

So all my ducks are in a row, so it seems. I am hoping that everything I planned to do for now will be done by September 21st. Then I can focus on unpacking and buying what I need to finish all the rooms. I am tired just thinking about it.

On a good note, I was feeling around the outside of the huge bathroom mirror this morning, don’t ask me why. I have been grumbling for weeks about how there is no medicine cabinet in such a huge bathroom. Well guess what? There is a very big cabinet behind that mirror! I love it! This was one of the good things I discovered. Most of the others were problems that had to be addressed. So I will be fully utilizing the space behind that mirror shortly! I also found six bottles of expensive perfume and aftershave that the previous owner said I could keep. One bottle I know is $100 because I also have it!

I miss writing my blogs damn it! Can’t wait to get back to them full time.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Move and Two Weeks Later….

We moved on July 24th after two months of packing 25 years of belongings. I got rid of a lot of stuff, thank God, because everything still couldn’t fit on the truck. They had to go back and get the rest of my things for a second trip. It took eight hours, from 9 am to 5 pm, to get it done. Needless to say I was exhausted. I think exhausted is how I am going to feel for a very long time.

My queen size box-spring did not fit up the stairs, so we agreed the movers should dispose of it. We spent our first night sleeping on the old mattress that was laying on the floor in the bed frame. The next day I went out and purchased a new split box-spring and mattress, just like the ones I got for my daughters’ new bedroom sets. The delivery guys came to deliver it and saw I had three slats to hold up the new set. They had no clue how to arrange them, so they put them in any old way. I got two great and much needed nights of sleep before two of the three slat cracked at 12:30 am on the third night. I yelled to my husband to get off the bed and we “slept” on the hardwood floor until 5:30 am. Then, while my husband went to have breakfast, I stripped the linens off the bed and yank off the mattress and box springs. By the time he came up I was already measuring the size of the new slats we needed to buy. At 7 am we were at the lumberyard. I wanted ten slats, but they only had 8 and when I got home I found one of those eight was damaged. I ended up using seven. My husband helped me get the box-spring and mattress onto the slats and left in time to get to work at 8 am.

My younger daughter took a week’s vacation to help me out with the move. I was very grateful to have someone home with me to help me get organized. The first thing we did the day after the move was to get the bathrooms and linen closet set up so we could take showers. That was the smaller of the two unpacking jobs I had in mind and it went well. The next day I planned to do the kitchen. I had purchased plenty of paper and plastic plates, cups and utensils anticipating not being able to unpack and organize the kitchen overnight. I cleaned the outside of the cherry cabinets while my daughter was sleeping. Then I started washing the inside of each one. I thought it would make the unpacking a lot faster and easier if I got a head start. Well, these cabinets are twice as deep as the ones I had. I don’t know why they would make cabinets this deep because you can not see or get to the things in the back. I miss my old cabinets. Anyway, I was trying to clean one on the bottom, narrow cabinets. I struggled to reach the back even as I was crouched down on the floor. I lost my balance, which is no surprise, and fell forward. I went to block my head from hitting the tile floor and instead my forehead crushed my pointer finger which immediately swelled up and turned black and blue. I might as well have hit it with a sledge hammer. Thank God I didn’t pass out right then and there and was able to get ice from the freezer on it. I must have sat there a couple of hours icing it. My husband was going to work late that day and it’s a good thing too, because after a while I did feel like passing out and he was here to help me through it. Two weeks later and it still hurts.

While we were working on the kitchen, I decided we should do the laundry. We had quite a bit, even though I had done as much as I could before we left the old house. My daughter and I took all the laundry downstairs and loaded the machine. It fills up with water, but doesn’t start washing the clothes. The machine sits there full of clothes and water. I am tired, frustrated and disgusted. Thank God my husband took the day off. I wring out all the clothes as best as I can, by hand. Then I send him to the laundromat to wash and dry them while my daughter and I empty out the water in the machine. Once that is done, I call a repairman, who comes immediately. The sensor that tells the machine to start isn’t working. He adjusts it with two turns of a screwdriver and tells me this is a very good machine. Then he notices the agitator doesn’t work and says he can rebuild it right now for sixty dollars, on top of the fifty dollar service charge. I tell him to go ahead and do it. It takes less than 15 minutes. Now I have a working machine and some peace of mind. I also have clean clothes! I was happy for a while.

What next? Well, we had a very heavy rain one evening. I see water coming down in my kitchen from the ceiling. Now I cannot tell you how many times I stressed to the previous owners that I was paranoid about water getting into the house and they swore the roof and basement were good, but never mentioned the window in the office upstairs! I should have been suspicious when, during the walk through, I saw the window screen was removed from that window. I also noticed, after the fact, that some plastering had been done to the wall under that window and the kitchen ceiling. So when I went upstairs I see water coming in from the top of the office window, which was ever so slightly open and there was an inch and a half to two inches of water sitting in the windowsill and coming in through the wall. A nice puddle formed on my brand new hard wood floors. I frantically got up the water with paper towels. Now it makes sense why the screen was out. The bottom of the screen was preventing the water from draining off the window sill. I closed the top window as tightly as I could and raised the screen all the way to the top. I don’t know if this will solve the problem, but I may find out today or tomorrow, as we are getting heavy rain again. In the meantime, I have hired someone to take care of the front of the house including the slate roof, brick work, cleaning gutters, and caulking all the windows. In case you are wondering, the windows in the house are relatively new. I have to say I am more than a little pissed about this development.

It seems I am always getting derailed by things I didn’t anticipate. I had a long, long list of things to do here and these little adventures aren’t helping. Meanwhile, I got the painter in last week to go over the whole house and take notes. I am still waiting for his estimate. In the meantime, I got my electrician taking care of new fixtures, outlets and odd jobs while I wait. The house is very dark inside, especially on cloudy days and I need light! I can’t unpack most of the boxes until the painting is done. The garage, which looked a lot bigger than it is, is full of boxes from floor to ceiling. I need it for storage right now and don’t know if we will ever be able to use it for a car…maybe a matchbox car.

After the front brickwork and slate roof is done I need to get a contractor to do a new cement sidewalk and front yard with a brick wall around it. We will be able to BBQ and eat out there next summer, hopefully. Maybe by then I will be able to laugh at all my first week of adventures in the new house? If not, we will start a new tradition in this house. At 4 pm every day there will be a happy hour and I will indulge in a glass of wine before dinner.