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Archive for September, 2020

Home improvement planning

September 29th, 2020 at 08:07 pm

Now that the stone facade and stair railing have been done at my house, I can finally say that the exterior of the house is pretty much DONE.

I will never have to paint anything on the outside again except for one little area that's visible in that photo of the side of my garage, by the big window. The trim on that seems to peel every summer.

Now I'd love to turn my attention to indoor projects, which are admittedly more important but more difficult and disruptive to my personal life to get done.

I have an older kitchen, but it's still functional. The priority there is actually to replace the ridge, which regularly (like today) malfunctions by suddenly getting freezing cold and ruining whatever produce I have in the bottom drawer and sometimes higher up. I also want to widen the space so I can get a bigger fridge.

The other project I've been thinking more about lately is redoing the upstairs bathroom. I have 3 goals there:

1. Replace the toilet, which sits really low. In preparation for me getting older (someone else's post here has got me thinking more of this again), it would be easier to rise from a toilet that sat just a few inches higher.

2. Replace the tub with a walk-in shower, the kind with a low or no step. I don't really need a tub but more importantly, I see it as an accident waiting to happen. It would be so easy to slip and fall in it, even now. I think a walk-in shower with a bench would be much safer and more practical.

3. Replace my cabinetry. UGH. It's very old laminate that is falling apart in places; it has 2 sinks, which I guess I'd replace too.

4. Another project, oh, I guess this counts as an outside one, would be to replace my front door. This is an old house, and the doorway is narrow, jsut 32" wide. Conventional doors today are 36" wide.I have struggled a lot to get furniture in here over the years.

5. Replace electric hot water heater. They only last so long, and it's about time for a replacement, which I'd rather do before it started leaking. I looked into getting an electric heat pump instead a few years ago, but I don't have the clearance for one in my basement with its low ceiling.

The problemw with the kitchen and bath remodels is that both would be pretty expensive and very disruptive. Aside from the fridge replacement, I'd love to get quality finishes in there, from the cabinetry to the countertops and backsplash. What I have now is laminate.

I'd probably want to do the bathroom first.

Totally unrelated: Someone today gifted me a beautiful albeit overgrown angel wing begonia. It was huge. I'd always admired them. I gave it a good pruning and have the stems rooting in water, so when they develop roots in about a month, I can offer them back on the Buy Nothing site. I just learned they are toxic to cats, so I'm gonna have to be real careful and keep Luther out of the bathroom, where I have the door closed.

September spending

September 29th, 2020 at 03:52 pm

September was a very pricey month for me, mainly because I spent the max I've allocated for home improvements during any one year: $10,000.

I got my mason back here and he covered the ugly concrete garage wall (2 sides) with stone and it looks like an old country cottage now that's been like that forever, especially since my upper driveway is all done in pavers. (He did that too.)

What I especially like about the stones is that some of them still have lichens on them, so I'm hoping to encourage them to continue to grow as it makes everything looks so aged.

I now have 2 very nice seating areas: the back patio (same mason did that...I joke that I'm putting his kids through college) and the "side patio," which is actually part of the driveway to the left of the garage.

Those 2 tan metal chairs, incidentally, I got free from my Buy Nothing group. They had a bit of rust on them, so I used spray paint to redo them.

And that little stained glass table? Salvaged that at the dump!

Once I had that done a few weeks ago, I decided to just forge ahead and not wait til next year to replace the old wood garage door that had totally warped due to water absorption. I'm very happy with the final results.

On top of the home improvements, I had some other expenses that don't happen every month: $1310 for homeowners and auto insurance, an oil tank full-up to be ready for the cold weather, a trip to the vet and, for the first time in years, a quarterly estimated federal tax payment (just $96 this first time).

A few posts ago I talked about changing my pay structure for my job and going on retainer so I'd get the same pay every week for my p/t job.

Well, it seemed too good to be true and that didn't last! Three weeks into the new pay arrangement, the co-owner wife was covering for our p/t freelance accountant, who took some vacation time, and she came across my last week where i only worked 7 hours and was getting paid the equivalent of $100 an hour. Of course, no one said a word when I worked 7 hours or so for months and was earning about $150 a week, which was the whole reason I sought to stabilize my income.

They asked me to work additional hours to earn that fixed rate of pay they'd agreed to 3 weeks earlier. So now instead of working 18 hours (Mon/Tues/half of Wed), I'm now working a full day on Mon/Tues/Wed, or 24 hours instead of 18 to get the fixed rate we'd worked out.

It bothers me they reneged, yes (not very professional), but since I'm working from home, I'm willing to work the extra hours since the nature of how our business works is that I have tons of down time throughout the day when I can do other (personal) things.

Now, they decided to not renew the lease on the office bulding we'd been in back in March/April, but if they ever decide we need to all work together again next year,then I'll have to ask to switch back to an hourly rate of pay, because I'll be stuck on-site all 24 hours and not able to do anything else, so under my current fixed rate of weekly pay, my hourly rate of pay will have dropped substantially.

I made a return visit to someone I met through Buy Nothing to collect more goat, chicken and quail manure for next year's garden. I took this picture of my friend's cute ducks enjoying water sports.