Sunday, November 27, 2011

I really an sick of writing about real estate problems. Our Autumn Northeaster took out power in the area of one of my rental houses. The tenants have been very good about the weather after another. After all, what can We do about the weather? The company I call on for sump pump issues has installed a new pump for them with increased capacity plus a battery backup system that is warrantied to run for a week on battery power. That should take care of any power outages that occur.
The only thing is, they cut the line to the leaching field ...part of the septic system. Another company came out to pump out the tank, so perhaps this latest disaster was a blessing in disguise. The tank needed a pumping out. They gave me the name of the man with the backhoe . He will take care of the cut line....after Thanksgiving. My fingers are crossed that the pumping out will last over Thanksgiving. The company that cut the line swears up and down that they didn't do it. There is nothing to be done right now. Instead, I drive to my daughter's house and forget about what is waiting on my plate back home.
Thanksgiving was a success. It was good to have the whole family together, eat too much, have lunch with three old friends, and spend a quiet morning at the Regional Farmer's Market. I love that place. When I lived in Syracuse, it was my favorite place to visit on Saturday mornings.
I have returned home, driving through the thousands of people also returning home. It is too late at night to pick up my dog at his doggie daycare. That will wait until tomorrow.
Tomorrow, I shall call the backhoe man to find out what really happened in the ground.
In the meantime, the mice problem is also fixed: They were getting in through the dryer vent. It didn't have a flap to close them out. A new vent was installed.
Are We done yet? Is this the last of real estate repairs?


Monday, November 14, 2011

My resignation is in. I went to my second to the last meeting of the Veterans Parade and Ceremony Commission. It took some thought to resign, but I did it. Perhaps if there was a ground swell of support for the military museum, I might have stayed. As it is, I was just putting in my time. A walk around the building, just looking, brought back memories of the people I met and worked with in that beautiful building. Emotionally, I turned the building over to the younger volunteers. It is their turn.

I feel close ties to my adopted city. I spent 11 years on this commission and another year on the Council On Aging.

Before that, I worked for United Way. It was an experience to learn about charities and social services. I experienced the world of the poor and those who don't cope very well...those that don't know how to function. We don't have nearly enough services available for those who require help. It was disappointing to see the executive director of each charity out for himself/herself. The client is way down on the list. I learned that my talent is not for fund raising. I was an outsider in the "good old boys" network. My interest lies in another direction.

Before that, I worked for the city. I loved that job. Through my work experience, I gained respect for our civil servants...especially public works. The Health Department, Fire Department, Police, Engineering, Planning and Zoning....all staffed by capable people. I take it for granted that the water is safe for drinking, restaurants won't poison me, the fire department will be there if I need them. Bridges don't fall down. The traffic lights don't mal-function and cause a pile up. The library still has free books for lending. Those people do a very good job.

I even like it that some positions are elected. Mayor, Board Of Aldermen, Board of Education electives represent the people who live in the community. I could have run for any of those offices. So could you. In this way, the people who live here, shape the city . This is all good stuff.

My mother was the person who influenced me to do volunteer work. She drove the car when I was little, delivering food baskets for a Police Charity. She wanted me to come along and see "how other people have to live". The lesson wasn't wasted. Mom was always doing something for other people. One of the phrases she used a lot was,"What can I do for you?" She would do it for you....even giving out money or performing free professional services.

My volunteer service will be over in December. I am free to get in my truck, paints and canvas in the back and wander around...not having to check the calender so I don't miss a meeting. I think I finally retired.


Yes, it is a glorious autumn day. We've had several glorious days in a row. This is the last of warm weather. Cold, damp and darkness will be here soon. For now, it is time to enjoy the outdoors.

I should be outside with my paints, painting foliage colors, but there is work to usual. The rake, tarp , gloves, extension chord and leaf grinder are retrieved from storage.

This isn't work. It is wonderful outdoor exercise. The sun is shining. Neighbors are out raking up leaves. Each household has a different technique for leaves. Tina uses a blower. Joanne rakes leaves into paper bags and leaves them at the curb for pick up by Public Works. Last year, I ran my lawn mower over the leaves, mulching them in place. Butch has a leaf catcher at the back of his lawn mower. He catches leaves as He mowes the lawn...then bags them. My neighbor Bob and I chat over the fence. He is shrink wrapping his boat..tucking it in for the winter. I've already covered my sailing dingy with bubble wrap. I hope it stays in place for the winter. I make a note to myself to use a tarp next time.

This year, I need the leaves to fill in a low spot in the side yard. All my mulch is distributed on the vegetable bed and the flower bed. The man who cuts the grass, put his foot through a hole in the ground that I did not know was there. He wasn't hurt. I am surprised but now I know why the fruit tree I planted in that spot did not grow. I planted it over a cavity. The roots dried out, poor tree. (Another mental note to plant another tree there next spring. The ground should be settled by them.)

Several bags of dirt are purchased from the garden store. One bag is dumped in the hole. The hole is filled up. It looks fine. However, when I water it down, the entire bag of dirt disappears down the rabbit hole. Ditto the second bag and the third bag. All the weeds and sticks...anything organic is dumped down the hole. It looks filled up. I test it with a pole..poke ..poke..poke. Seems to be filled up OK, but I don't trust that spot.

Standing back, I see a bowl shape in the lawn. It is where the septic system used to be. That whole area has sunk. I will level the entire spot with mulch. The leaf mulcher crunches leaves. I rake the front lawn, put the leaves on a tarp and drag it to the low spot. Mulched leaves are heaped on the spot, then raked as level as I can make it.

Still doesn't seem level. More leaves are needed. Several days with many breaks for lunch or tea will clean up the lawn. I should have the bowl filled level and more to go into the mulch pile. For now, it is lunch time. My back is aching, but I have that good feeling of accomplishing something useful


Saturday, November 12, 2011

The southern coast of Connecticut has escaped the autumn northeaster storm. I am safe and warm...both houses. However, friends up north are not so fortunate. This northeastern storm was worse than the hurricane because it came so early. There were leaves on the trees. When the rain and snow hit, limbs broke , pulling power lines down with them. Connecticut Yankees love their trees. There are lots of them...trees, I mean.
I called a friend and asked if He had power. He said He did. His family did not. His house is a small cottage. There is not enough room for his gang. I invite them to take over my beach house. They gratefully accept.
The house is filled with children enjoying the beach. They watch the waves, collect stones, shells and crabs. Their mom is a teacher, but her school is closed. Her sister and her two children join her...any place that is warm is wonderful. Good Karma is going on here. There is the excitement of children, laughter, good sleep and good hot showers.
They stay for 7 days. Their power is returned. Mom has to go back to school.
I am sorry to see them leave. They leave behind for me, several bottles of very good wine. I am saving them.


Saturday, November 05, 2011

Hurricane Irene isn't the only weather crisis in Connecticut. The state has also had an earth quake and a tornado. Damage is everywhere. Then the Autumn Northeaster hit. There are still leaves on the trees. The ground is saturated with water from the hurricane. FEMA sets up camp in our state.

When the northeaster storm hit, the wet snow weighed down tree branches. They broke. There are limbs and trunks everywhere. Trees bring down power lines. About two thirds of the state is without power. With live lines down, Halloween is cancelled. It is too dangerous to send young children out trick or treating. This is the first time in history that Halloween has been cancelled.

I am fortunate. Milford is fine. The new drain system and sump pump works fine thanks to Budget Dry. It keeps the beach house nice and dry. Lights and heat work. I have hot water thanks to TriCity. The replaced the furnace and hot water tank after the hurricane.

The main house is also safe and dry.

Then the phone rings: The tenants with the new toilet have called to tell me that their basement is flooded. They are losing their possessions stored down there. The water may rise to take out the furnace and hot water tank. Did I not just go through with this problem only a month before? At the beach house? It is happening again. I can't believe this.

My tenant is patient. This is a good family to work with. I give them every break I can to keep them happy. In return, they take good care of this house. Together , We will solve this problem.

The little Honda generator goes into my truck along with an extension cord and a gallon of gasoline. My tenant starts up the generator, plugs in the sump pump and it pumps out the water. I am so glad I bought the generator. The next door neighbor, who has power, runs another extension cord. The tenant can have a light and maybe a space heater upstairs. I am surprised at how much water is being pumped out of the basement. It rushes out like a river. In fact, there is a little stream on the property. It is swollen with run off from the hurricane. The ground is saturated. There is no where for the water to go except in the basement.

This is a situation that can not be ignored. As much as I don't want to pay for another drain system, I have to make the call. I call Budget Dry. They come out and design a much better drain system plus sump pump with battery backup. This will replace the existing system. This system can run for 6 days on battery back up. That should be long enough to carry over until the utility company can turn the power back on. I sign the contract.

The new system will be installed in two weeks. The old pump has to last only two weeks more. It doesn't. It is burning out. My tenant is down stairs manually plugging in the pump and then pulling the plug when the well is drained. If He didn't do that, the pump would run continually and burn out. The choice is either flood or fire. Some choice.

Something has to be done right now. Can We borrow a pump from the plumber? Will Budget Dry reschedule us for tomorrow? This is an emergency. Both John, my now favorite plumber and Budget Dry call us back. John can't get a pump. The supply store is closed for the night. However, Budget Dry will be there at 9AM in the morning.

I see the cash register go ching disappearing, but what choice is there? My tenants have been very patient about all of this. I feel the need to refund part of their month's rent to compensate them for this inconvenience. They very gratefully accept my offer.


Are these the times of tribulation? I am beginning to think so. There is water dripping from the bathroom on the second floor through the kitchen ceiling. My tenant has cut a hole in the kitchen ceiling to prevent the Sheetrock from falling on the stove. He moves the stove so that water doesn't leak onto their dinner that is cooking.

Here We go again. I've had a plumber out several times for this bathroom. It was so wet that the tile loosened from the floor. They snaked the drain line to remove a blockage...if that was the problem. This is the third plumber I've hired for this problem.

John pulls the toilet. We think it is only the wax ring. He finds a surprise: The toilet is defective. It should have been rejected at the factory. It should have been destroyed, never sent to the store. The wax ring that seals the toilet to the floor needs to seal to the toilet. The toilet needs to have a ring to accept the wax ring. This one doesn't. It has a piece missing from the ring. John buys a new toilet and the problem is solved.

This leaves me with an angry feeling about people who aren't professional. The quality control people in the factory should have spotted the problem. The first plumber that installed the toilet should have spotted the problem. The second plumber that snaked the drain line...should have spotted the problem.

I had to have the ceramic tile on the bathroom floor replaced, the bottom of the door cut so it could close. The kitchen ceiling had to be cut open twice to access the plumbing. Then new Sheetrock had to be installed. The kitchen ceiling had to be painted. ...twice. The expense and upset was entirely unnecessary if people did their job. My tenants were inconvenienced and so was I. I hate incompetence.

Labels: ,