Archive for the ‘previous occupant’ Category

Yes, I’m a day late… but better a late Festivus than no Festivus at all.

We did have it all yesterday, though. A Festivus miracle, feats of strength AND Airing of Grievances. See, I’ve complained often about the previous owner of our house and his inept construction technique. So, yesterday, Supportive Partner Woman (Decorator of trees!) was putting the finishing touches on the Pop Culture Tree when she heard a loud crash. She went to the basement to see if the heater had blown up, only to find no problems. She went back upstairs, heard another crash and looked in the garage. There’s where she found the source.

Thankfully the rake and Jolly Roger flag stopped the potential bad damage.

Thankfully the rake and Jolly Roger flag stopped the potential bad damage.

Seems that Former Owner Guy’s use of shitty materials had caused a bit of an issue in the garage. You know, it would make sense to attach a big shelf by using something more than drywall anchors and very short screws that don’t quite bite into the stud. But maybe that’s just me.

After the Feat of Strength

After the Feat of Strength

At any rate, SPW was able to manhandle the stored closet doors and heavy totes off the shelf after safely removing Mario the Super Honda from the garage without damage. That constituted the Festivus Feat of Strength. The Festivus Miracle was that no serious damage was done. The Airing of Grievances consisted of me colorfully and masterfully cursing the previous owner’s ineptitide and my desire to hunt him down and kick him in the junk with the Boot of Shame.

Mine is twice as big!

Mine is twice as big!

After all the fun was done, including SPW’s Feat of Strength (accomplished whilst wearing flannel penguin loungewear… no lie), I was able to rettach the shelving when I got home from work. It’s funny… you can see a bit of difference between the screws Captain Asstastic used and the type of screws that should’ve been used. They really weren’t that much more expensive. Or maybe he could’ve used an anchor rated for heavier weights, rather than a cheap one that’s best for hanging a picture.

The most important thing is that no one was hurt and everything was back in its place by the time SPW was home from work. I even got to use power tools. Woot!

This past weekend we attended a beer cheer event hosted by one of SPW’s co-workers. The basic premise was that each guest brought a six pack of something interesting, everyone sampled them, and at the end of the night, pretty much everyone went home with a new selection of brew. I also whipped up a pretty decent Cajun crab dip at 3:07 AM, because, as Jeanine says, there’s never a bad time for crab dip.

Festive Death Star!

Festive Death Star!

We also did up a batch of SPW’s granny’s cutout cookies. We were faced with a dilemma, though… we had really cool Death Star cookie cutters, but I couldn’t find the black sugar (from when we did Halloween cutout cookies. My answer? Festive Death Stars! I also made festive X-Wings, festive TIE Fighters, and festive modified Corellian YT-1300 freighters.

At any rate, I wish all of you a very happy and safe holiday season, whether you celebrate Festivus, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or something I forgot to name. Check back next week for my take on the final Cinematic Titanic show and my New Years Resolutions.

Since I need something to keep me busy, I thought I’d share the saga of the living room windows.

I might have previously mentioned that our development is the reason they instituted building codes in our township. To say that the contractors took some liberties would be putting it mildly. They used a lot of cheap materials (mainly the roof) and apparently the windows. Don’t get me wrong… the specs are fine. They are double-paned, low-e glass. That’s about where the good points stop. See, they have an alarming tendency to break the seals between the panes causing condensation. This has been the case with our living room windows since we moved in.

It’s not always been super high on our priority list. The truth is, we have sheer curtains that block the view of the window panes and, well, out of sight, out of mind.

This changed in the previous weeks… out of nowhere, one of the panes cracked. The inside pane. Just a big crack, nasty as you please. This has required us to engage the services of Marvin the Glass Man. Marvin came out, took measurements and will be installing new glass next week. I mentioned to SPW that it would certainly be nice to be able to open the windows. She concurred, then we realized that the skeevy previous occupant’s giant dogs did a number on the screens for those windows. I decided to give rescreening a try.

Now, know that I have never done this. I did not have tools or even know what was involved. I talked to me neighbor, who said it wasn’t too difficult. So, I went to Lowe’s, bought the materials and came home to give it a try.

The first attempt was not good. In an attempt to stretch the screen to make it nice and taut, I managed to rip it. Just tore like nobody’s business. I was not particularly happy about this… after all, that was good money I just wasted. So, I said, “I’ll try it again later.”

The second time was the charm.

So, I have one screen mostly done, and three more to go. As for Marvin, he’s coming next week.

In other news, I weighed in at 330.8 yesterday. That means I’m down 49.2 pounds since I started the program. I’m pretty pleased about that. I also ate my first real food. I had a scallop that tasted awesome. Paired with a scrambled egg, because, well, at this point, the variation in my menu is really limited. It was nice to actually chew something with substance, and it went down well. It stayed down, too, which is always a huge help. I’m actually really glad that fish and seafood are considered to be soft foods… some of my favorite foods are in that category.

So, I’m up early today because I need to go to a funeral. My dad’s cousin passed away a few days ago and I need to go to pay respects to the family. We kind of lost touch over the years, as often happens, but it’s what needs to be done. I also have to stop and pick up my mother, because the funeral home is located in Reading, and she’s scared to drive in the city. I tried to tell her that most of the drug dealers and gangbangers are not awake at 10 AM on a Saturday morning, but she wasn’t having any of that. I’m not disputing that Reading is pretty much a shithole , but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get jacked just going to a funeral. The plus side is that I actually have clothes to wear that fit. I’m not going for a suit, mainly because my dress shoes no longer fit me (foot pronation has made them impossible to wear), but I’m sure my suit would actually fit again. Instead, khakis, dress shirt, necktie and a tweed jacket. Not exactly cutting edge, but presentable enough. It was funny, though… the last time I wore a dress shirt was for our niece’s college graduation and I was stuffed into it like a sausage. This time, it feels like a tent. I guess that’s better.

At any rate, hope you all have a great day!

Song of the Day: King of Anything – Sara Bareilles

So, The Management and I spent some time working on the house today. I painted the trim on the porch and the garage, she planted the rest of her flowers and veg. The place really looks good… the fresh paint makes things look pretty clean, and the new flowers certainly add a nice touch of color. I usually leave the flowers and planting to The Management, as I don’t have much of a green thumb. I have more of a black thumb. Seems like any plant I touch withers and dies. I can kill kudzu.

I have a confession to make, though. I did something that our Homeowner’s Association would not approve of. Please don’t tell, but I painted with a different shade of white than specified by the by-laws. I did this because a real white pops more than the crappy off-white they want me to use. I also realized when replacing the fence two summers ago that the prescribed white didn’t match the approved fence post caps and it looked like crap. So I took matters into my own hands. Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

Responsibility for enforcing the bylaws of the association falls to Wanda, the property manager. Near as I can tell, her job involves taking kickbacks from the lawn “service”, hassling people who shouldn’t be hassled, and not hassling those that should. Case in point. If you look to the left of the garage door, you’ll see a dwarf Alberta spruce. That’s a replacement for the shrub that was there when we moved in. See, the shrub was really nasty looking, but over the course of our first year, I spent hours reshaping and trimming the shrub to make it look presentable.

One fine day, after spending about an hour  on the shrub and really being happy with it, I walked up to the mailbox and found a letter from Wanda informing us that said shrub was in violation of the bylaw that requires on-property foliage to be under six feet. Our shrub was around seven feet. As I read this, I could feel pure and simple rage starting to boil in my veins. I looked around to other houses, seeing many with shrubs much taller than I. I lost it. The Management will tell you that she never saw me as angry as I was that day. I immediately went and lopped off around a foot and a half to the shrub, and apparently I was not the only one to receive a similar letter. As you drove up the street, you could see many flat-topped shrubs. I soon grew tired of how bad it looked and went to purchase the little spruce that you see now.

The Management and I cut down the old one (she let me get a reciprocating saw… SCORE!) and replaced it with the new shrub, measuring much shorter. Imagine my surprise when we received ANOTHER letter from Wanda telling us our shrub was exceeding the six foot height limit… showing here.

Taller than six feet? In what measuring system?

Soooo, I promptly fired off a letter to Wanda informing her that while I appreciated her dedication to enforcing the bylaws, perhaps a lesson in reading a tape measure might be in order. As expected, she was less than enthused and fired back with yet another pointless criticism about a crack in the sidewalk. Sigh. This was not the first criticism, nor will it be the last. There was the time when we moved in that we were told we needed to replace all the outdoor light fixtures because they were pitted and the brass finish was corroding. Never mind that the entire unit of townhouses across the street have nasty outside lights, including two that recently changed hands. We were told we needed to replace the deck, which I would’ve done anyway. We opted to replace it with a composite material and when we submitted the proposal to them, cited the other home in our development with a similar coloration and style, we were asked to provide more detail regarding color and style, because I guess looking out the window presented a challenge. When we opted to replaced the dry-rotting French door on the patio with a sliding door, they wanted pictures. The door was being custom-made for us, so I just took a picture of my neighbor’s sliding door and the apparently was enough. So when the time came to replace the screen door, I didn’t even submit plans. Makes me even more of a rebel, I know.

I should add that the previous owner could charitably be described as filthy. I have many other names for him, but he didn’t leave us a lot to work with. I consider it to be a small miracle that we’ve gotten the place in the shape that it is.

So, the point of the story is that when you have an evil, vindictive witch as a property manager, beware because she will become the bane of your existence. My only advice is to avoid all HOAs, if possible, The idea that you don’t have to mow your grass or shovel your snow* is nice, on the surface. When you realize what a piss poor job they do on the mowing (and they will mow your flowerbeds for free!) you start to wonder if it’s worth it. Granted, you still have to pay your association dues whether they cut your grass or not.

I do wonder, though, if Wanda would mind if we replaced the lilac in the front flowerbed with something more festive…


*   They only shovel if it’s more than 3″… otherwise you’re on your own. And God forbid you need to get to work in the morning. You’ll be shoveling yourself out.