Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dad's workbench

DAD'S WORKBENCH.    It was made of lumber.  My Dad and his friend, Harold, put it together in the basement.   It has been around for as long as I can remember.    Dad really used this work station.  He repaired radios.  I would watch.  He would explain.  He explained magnetism by magnetizing a knife blade.  He put metal filings on a sheet of paper and ran the knife blade under the paper.  The filings lined up showing magnetic lines of force.  He showed me positive and negative .  He glued the paper back down on speakers that had developed a "buzz".  I watched him solder wires.    The world of science was opened to me by watching Dad at his work bench.

Years have passed.  I have the work bench.  It is in my beach house .  It has gotten soaked by floods, but still it is one piece.    After the last flood, the lower level...aka...the "apartment" ...had to be redone.    The contractor did a very good job...except He could not stand to see that old slivered, beat up workbench being placed in the new construction.

Ted...that's his name....took the workbench apart, put it in his truck and without permission from me, dumped it in my garage at the house on Park Circle.  I was really mad at him, as I need work space in the beach house.

It turns out that Ted has done me a favor.  The work bench is reassembled in the basement on Park Circle.  It is placed at right angles to my father-in-law's work bench.  In memory I see my husband working on car parts on his Dad's work bench.  I intend to work on my Dad's work bench, too.

I will move all my art supplies to the basement.  I will have a light installed by the electrician.  I will have a new counter top installed.  My sewing supplies can come down stairs, too...and the ironing board.  I have found a nice place to "putter".  My  Dad's workbench is for clean projects...like watercolors.  My father-in-law's workbench is for dirty projects, like sawing wood and painting.


Update:   My contractor is here.   I ask him to attach the countertop I had  purchased to the workbench.  He points out the bow in the countertop.  He can attach the back-splash only on the ends.  The length is not correct.  The top is poorly made.  (sigh).  It goes back to the store.  There is still no counter-top on the work bench, but the lower shelf has been put to use....not as I had intended, but useful.    The plumber is installing a tankless hot water tank in the basement.  The best wall for this project happens to have shelves where I keep my gardening supplies.   The gardening supplies are moved to the lower shelf of the work bench....temporarily, I hope.   This clears the wall for the tankless tank.

Meanwhile, upstairs, all the art materials sit in boxes and bins in the hall way.  The plumber needs to finish his project...... before I can relocate all the gardening supplies,..... which clears the work bench, making a space for the art materials,...... which clears the upstairs hall way. 

 and....still no countertop.  I think I will just buy a piece of 3/4 finished plywood and throw that on top.


Saturday, June 09, 2012

EVICTING A TENANT   This is the sequence of events that culminated in asking my tenants to leave.

 The house next door was built by my second husband's grandfather.  It is a small but well built house.  Butch lived in that house.  He was a very nice neighbor.  Last Thanksgiving, I drove to Syracuse.  By the time I returned, Butch had died and had his wake.  What a shock!  There was no warning, no time to say goodbye. He had an aneurysm that broke.  He died within hours.

Butch had told me that his will states his niece will inherit the house.  Butch and his wife had no children of their own.  He adored his niece and her family.  The feeling was mutual.  Everybody liked "Uncle Butch".  

Time goes by.  I expect to see the new family move in next door.  They do not. 

Then, a neighbor tells me that the house will be sold.  It seems that Butch had some gambling debts.  The house must be sold to pay his bills.

Thinking back, I remember how Butch had worked on the house.  He had a new roof put on.  He took down awnings and restored them.   The basement looks military ship shape...no wonder....Butch was Air Force  before He worked at Sikorsky Helicopters.   Butch's expertise using machines was evident in how He restored that house.   ...the house that my husband's grandfather built.

 I thought it would make a better rental than the one I own in the town next to Milford.    I expressed an interest in buying this house. Butch's niece agreed.  

 In order to do that, I would have to sell my other rental.   

The Agent said that the house next door will probably sell quickly.  My house may or may not sell quickly.  She suggested a bridge loan...an equity loan on my primary residence...which is the beach house.   I agreed to that. 

In order to pay off the equity loan, I would sell off the house in the neighboring town.    I put in an application for an equity loan and was turned down.  It seems the equity in my beach house has fallen to about half of what I thought it was.  They would only grant the loan on my primary residence, which is the beach house.   

My attorney had written into my purchase offer,"subject to getting the equity loan".  I got my deposit back.

Now what shall I do?    I decided to continue with the sale of my rental house.  If the timing works out for me, I can by-pass the equity loan and pay cash for the house next door.  The agent agrees to look at the house.  She calls me very upset.  "I can't show that house in the condition it is now.  There are things all over.  There are two dogs barking at me.  No agent nor prospective buyer will enter a house with 2 strange dogs in it, for fear of being bitten."

I had a talk with the tenants. They said they would have it cleaned up by the weekend.  The weekend came and went.  it looks the same.  Strike one.  Repeat one week later.  Strike two.  Another weekend and they strike out.  They are making no effort to cooperate with the sale of this house...which would have been in their best interest.  

I finally pulled my trump card:  They had been smoking in a no smoking house. There are butts on the ground.  The basement smells of cigarette smoke.   They signed the lease that specifically prohibits smoking...and no pets.  I had relented to allowing their one dog because He was a family pet and getting old.   The second dog I was told, was "just visiting".    The tenants were asked to leave.  

This is an upsetting experience for them as it is for me.  The house goes on the market July 1st.

LAST AUNT    I got a call from my cousin in Buffalo.  Her mother was taken to the hospital from the assisted living center where she lived.  My aunt was expected to be hospitalized for a little while.  My cousin was spending time with her mom, 24 hours a day.  

I had done the same when my husband was dying of cancer, so I knew the exhaustion my cousin must be feeling.  It is important that I support her...and see my aunt , perhaps for one last time. 

My daughter lives about half way between my house in Connecticut and my cousin's house on Lake Erie.   Beth agrees to take my dog.  The first stop is at Beth's for an overnight stay, drop off Captain Jack and perhaps make a shopping trip to the Farmer's Market ...my favorite thing to do in Syracuse.

At the Farmer's Market, I load up on produce and good grass fed beef.  It all goes into a bin in the back of my truck.  The intention is to cook for my cousin.  She will be too tired to cook after spending so much time at the hospital.  

The day I arrived in Syracuse, my cell phone rings.  My aunt has died.  I am now going to a funeral.

Christine is about 12 years younger than I am. ..and very beautiful.   She is a real estate agent.  She owns several pieces of property that she rents out.  That is how she earns her living.   As I drive up to her house, I note how well designed it is...and maintained.  My beautiful cousin is quite competent.  She swings a hammer with the best of them.  She knows how to use a riding mower...and how to maintain it.  Christine was widowed about 3 years ago, so she maintains her properties alone.

She turns her bedroom over to me and she sleeps on the couch.  How gracious can she get?   In the morning, We are going to the Episcopal Church that my Aunt went to faithfully.  At one time, I was an organist and choir director for an Episcopal church in Buffalo, so I know the liturgy.  All is well...until they wheel my aunt's casket up to the alter.  We are all crying.

I see cousins I rarely see...and their children.  My delight is to call them "first cousins once removed"...which confuses them, even if it is true.

The ceremony is followed by a drive to the cemetery, where my aunt is interred...then to a restaurant for a nice luncheon with an open bar.   I have lost my last aunt, but I have reconnected to a part of the family that seemed to be disconnecting.  One "first cousin once removed" seems especially grateful to have some family to come home to.  He has been living several states away by himself.   I feel the bonds of reconnection.  It feels good. It feels healing.

Well, I can't impose on Christine any longer.  I treat her to a restaurant meal of her choice.  She chooses Mexican.  Lots of hugs and promises to stay connected.  I leave Christine and drive to Nancy's house.  I've known Nancy since I was a freshman in high school.  We were both art majors together...but had different art teachers.  We were also in Triangle Girls together.  Nancy was elected Queen.  I played the organ for their ceremonies.  What fun We had...especially when there were square dances with the Demole boys. 

Nancy and I went to different high schools when my parents moved.  We reconnected at Buffalo State as Art Ed Majors.  We were grouped together , had the same classes together.  Our friendship deepened.  Nancy is so smart, She graduated Suma Cum Laude...I hope I spelled that right.  I was nominated for a class officer, but I turned it down, as I was holding down 2 jobs to pay for college.  There just wasn't any more time or energy for this honor.

Nancy is an artist.  She has a studio in her home.  I've invited myself to her house.  We can paint together.  We do!  It is really fun to socialize and paint together.   Nancy takes me to parts of Buffalo to enjoy a Buffalo Spring.  The harbor is much changed, but Forest Lawn is the same...timeless.  We go shopping in the art district.  I am eating this up.   Nancy gives me some of the solution she uses to clean her glasses.  Mine were getting smeared.   I take her out to a restaurant of her choice.  It is in the art district, of course.   I've bought a skirt from an international import company.  We talk to the clerks there.  Both clerks have escaped horrible conditions in their native country.  One was from Rwanda.  I admire that they can understand more than one language.  I have tried, but I don't have the ear for language.  

Time to go back, pick up my dog, have dinner with my Syracuse family.....and back to Connecticut.