Diary of a mad homeowner

The trials and tribulations of fixing up a house filled with character but not much else

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The days of winter wane

OK. I know it’s the Winter Solstice today and technically this is the first day of winter but this is glorious day on the calendar because the sun will begin its northward trek towards more sunshine on this snow-covered house.

There’s a fire in the woodstove and a snowplow scraping away at the road and the only thing missing is honey mead.

Years ago I worked as an apprentice in an acupuncture clinic in Lakewood and the summer and winter solstices were events to be acknowledged. Old rituals were celebrated with friends and it included drinking some homemade honey mead that had quite a kick. It’s said that having a drink on the solstice clears the liver and resets the body in time for the new year. I don’t know about that but it’s nice to have traditions to fall back on when necessary or thirsty.

I don’t drink much these days so I toast 2013 with an orange-flavored Vitamin Water.

Here’s an honest recap of 2013:

With Roo-B having been damaged in the wreck in February and in need of some big repairs, I sold it and bought a new 2014 Forester.

The new Forester sucks. It’s uses oil at the rate of 1 quart every 2,000 miles or so and with only 12,000 on the odometer, that seems a bit much. I’ve been back and forth with the Subaru dealership and their singsong is that 1 quarter per 1,000 is within their parameters. One last trip to the dealership on Monday and then Goldy-Roo goes back to Automotive Avenues for a trade-in. I’m hoping there’s an SUV for me that won’t be such a hot-house rose and I can get on with driving and not spend half my time waiting for the yellow light to come on.

I found the world’s greatest vacuum cleaner: Dyson. I dropped $700 on the model designed to scour animal hair out of whatever plagues you. Though the instruction illustrations have a Swedish accent to their graphics, I’ve pretty much got it under control, hair and all.

I hate the hardwood floors. They’re splitting in places and evil edges will catch your foot or sock if you’re not smart enough to wear shoes in here. Oh, they look very pretty but once they are refinished in oh, say, 10 years from now, they’ll be splendid.

At least all the cold has put my IPS beetles to bed for a long, winter’s nap. I predict that in the spring and summer months new plant species will grow where once it was too dark for them to exist. At some point, we’ll have a party down in the Slightly Unenchanted Forest.

I’ve stopped doing home improvement projects for now; I need a break from the stress of all the shabby work. Perhaps by spring I’ll get the desire to start again but this time, I’ll write up a document for each contractor with specific tasks and a checklist. Don’t finish what’s on the checklist? It’ll take longer to get your money. There will also be a time schedule. How many days will it take to complete? What can I expect to be done each day? Don’t show up twice without calling and you’re toast and NO, I won’t babysit your kid while you work. You may charge $25 and hour to build things but I charge $50 an hour to babysit and $75 if your kid tries to bite me.

My family is doing well with Kate and Jason moving into their new digs on a farm in Niwot. Life is going very well for them and I’m happy they have dreams in front of them: gardens, cows, chickens and a pig?

Matt and Jill have announced they are getting married in 2014 and have bought beautiful rings to seal the deal. I think Jill’s been influenced by Pinterest and that she can get married and not have to have a big wedding like her sister, Kate did. They may have already gotten married but know that when we find out we’ll make some sort of celebration and during the busy holiday season, that’s a challenge for Jill and Matt. I couldn’t be happier with her choice of husband; Matt takes good care of her and they love each other very much. I couldn’t ask for anything more for my family.

Paul, Kristen and Mariah keep making progress and they moved into a nice apartment complex this year and have acquired some cats and a hamster along the way. Both Paul and Kristen have new jobs they are doing well with and good things are on the horizon for them. They seem happy and Mariah is doing very well in school and just recently got an award for perfect attendance and improvement in reading. In the past few years Mariah has needed a solid home base and she’s excelling because the people in her life are sacrificing a lot to meet her needs. In turn she’s flourishing and it’s my hope her world only gets better and better. I loves Mariah and can’t imagine a time when she wasn’t around. Our tea parties have evolved from a little plastic set to an in-between set of cups, saucers and plates. I hope she never gets tired of our time and always remembers that Grandma loves her and the tea party.

The cats are all doing well except for Nina, who on this winter solstice is dealing with an abscess courtesy of Buzz’s roughhousing. She tries to keep up with the kittens but at 11 years old her heart is willing but her energy level can’t compete with the 18 month-old kittens bursting with energy. Nina’s one comfort is Skeeter who is her almost constant companion and keeps Nina warm on cold nights. Petticoat is one of the sweetest cats I’ve ever had and causes no problems at all though she’ll also be part of the “shave parade” in the spring when everyone but Skeeter will go to the groomer in Bailey and get a trimmin. Nina grew up with Jack who was a big bully and now she has Buzz to contend with. I’ve taken to calling Buzz, “Buzzard” or in cases of loathing, “Little Orange Fucker.”

This year I discovered the BBC series, Sherlock and I adore Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. “I’m not a psychopath, I’m a highly functioning sociopath. Do your research!” Each episode is 90 minutes long so there’s only three episodes per season. The original series was supposed to only be a few episodes but it was so well received that more episodes were created. My favorite Sherlock episode is “A Scandal in Belgravia” and elicited some roars from British viewers over the partial nudity scenes. You’re riveted to the episode to the last moments of the show. Cumberbatch and Freeman have both been incredibly busy: Cumberbatch as the villain “Khan” in “Star Trek: Into Darkness” and also in “Twelve Years a Slave” and both star in the new Hobbit movie. There’s lots of Cumberbatch and Freeman to see in 2013. The series has given me something to watch on my iPad during long work hours when time is idle. I love the acting and smart writing though I never was interested in Sherlock Holmes stories before. The third series starts in January and I can hardly wait.

Not totally due to watching Sherlock in 2014, I hope to slow down the construction process but I’ll cut down more trees in the ongoing effort to mitigate this property. I’m sure the Ips beetles are just napping and I doubt the dry-summer pattern will change in ’14 and the only things to do are have a good evacuation plan and mitigate, mitigate, mitigate. Only by the grace of God will this place last through these dry years.

I was thinking about last year at this time when I had to many high hopes for 2013. I got everything I wanted and almost everything I needed but progress was slow and with a measure of undue stress. Maybe in ’14 I’ll learn to take it a little easier and still get things done … eventually.

One thought on “The days of winter wane

  • Sounds like maybe you need to get a general-purpose contract in place instead of giving contractors the breathing room to screw you over. Remember, contracts protect both sides.


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