Sunday 27 August 2017

Weekend Wrap-up

Another busy and productive weekend is rapidly coming to a close.  Well, perhaps not as productive as I'd like but I did get a few tasks off the to-get-done list, not to be confused with the to-do list.  

First off was getting the duct work cleared out.  When I had booked my appointment a month or so ago, the crew was unable to complete the task because there was no access to the furnace.  He advised to have someone cut into the drywall, as they could not/would not do so themselves.  A couple of weeks ago, I asked J to cut open the drywall for me, which he did, so I re-booked the appointment for last Friday.  

I tucked all the cats into the sunroom at about 7:45 and two man crew showed up shortly after.  They brought in these huge long vacuum hoses, and some smaller equipment.  While one set up in the basement, cutting open the duct to the furnace, the other went around the house and opened up all the air vents.  OMG, the cat hair!  I have vacuumed my vents but apparently not very recently.  

It took about an hour with the vacuum sucking out the junk through the big hoses, while the one of the crew used some sort of air hose to clean up the cold and warm air vents, and the other followed him, putting the vent covers back in place.  I sat in the living room while this was going on and could hear chunks of something or other coming through the hose.  Since that can't have been cat hair I can only guess what might have made it's way into the vents.  Cat toys, children's toys, perhaps?  I know for certain there was lots of drywall dust as well from the basement and bathroom renos.

As they finished, the one crew member closed up the hole in the duct work, while the other dealt with the truck and did up the paperwork.  Everything was done very efficiently and as tidy as could be.  I was quite impressed with the workmanship.  

A couple of things I learned; first the living room should have three air vents, it currently only has two.  We think the previous owners may have covered it up when they put the base in front of the bay window.  It likely is located under the cat scratcher.

Why yes, my front room is full of cat furniture.  All the better to view cat television!  
The second thing I learned is the duct work has likely not been cleaned since it was installed.  Yikes, that's 30 years!  Bad enough that I left it for 7 years.  The difference in the sound of the furnace fan is simply amazing.  It costs a bit to get it done but I replaced the furnace 6 years ago and it sounds like it is brand new again.

The other task that got taken care of was the removal of the boxes and bags of items that were left over from the garage sale.  The driver showed up alone so I gave him a hand loading about 30 boxes/bags onto the truck.  It's so good to see that stuff gone. (Kim, I know you know that feeling).  Time to start working on the next purge.

Speaking of which, I've got at least 75-80% of my daughter's stuff packed and ready to move.  Some of it has been packed since she moved back in last winter, but I've had to repack things because there were open boxes and tubs.  I'd say she packed in a hurry as everything was simply tossed into them.  I still have some books and craft items to pack along with the baby's room.  

You may be asking why I'm doing this.  Simply because if I wait for her, it will never happen.  Plus I want all of her stuff out of my house.  Since we moved into the house in 2010, she's brought things back or left them here.  This time, it is all going.  I'll give her to the end of September to find a place, and if she hasn't I'll have it all moved to a storage unit.  I'm willing to pay for the rental on the unit for six months and after that she'd best be in the position to move it or they can sell it.  

That might sound harsh, but D has been communicating with me only through Facebook.  The other day in a text to her brother, she told to inform me, that if I want to see Eli, I must ask for access.  Based on the photos she's pasted, I think she's living at a friend's house but I don't expect that will last for much longer.  I only hope she's making some effort to find a place of her own..

Our temps have been staying quite high for this time of year (26-28C) but cooling off overnight.  Taking advantage of the cooler weather this morning, I did some meal preparation for the rest of the week.  One of things I did was cook up a meatloaf.  I don't know about you, but while I enjoy eating meatloaf I hate cleaning up the pan.  

I found this hack a few months ago and thought I'd share it with you. I filled the pan with hot water, a little dish-washing soap, and a dryer sheet.  

Wait about 20-30 minutes and the crusted on stuff pretty much wipes away.  I usually wash it again, just with soap and water because I'm not sure what residue the dryer sheet might leave behind, and then rinse.

Pretty amazing and so much easier that the scraping and scrubbing I used to do.  I don't know how or why it works, but it does!

Have you found a hack that you like to use?  I'm always amazed at the creativity and ingenuity of people.  I'm not nearly that capable.

Though I am getting closer to finishing my shawl for the cruise.  Good thing too, as the cruise is only 3 weeks away!

I've got my packing list written up though I haven't actually pulled out the suitcase.  It's going to be somewhat challenging because the weather is a bit uncertain.  So far, we seem to be leaving one port for another just before the rain comes in.  

I'm thinking layers, tees and capris for warmer days, a couple of pair of jeans, a sweater or two for cooler ones, and a fleece jacket with a windbreaker in case of rain.  Then there is outfits for the evening - a dress, a couple of skirts and nicer tops to go with, along with a sweater or my shawl.  Oh, and a bathing suit for the hot tub or pool.  Add in several pairs of shoes, underclothes, and my personal toiletries and I'll have a full bag.  Well, actually two as I always ensure I have a change of clothing, some toiletries and an extra pair of shoes in my carry-on.  I've only had my luggage delayed once in all of my travels, and it was an experience I'd prefer not to have happen again.

Finally, one more photo of my newest little "helper".  He's pretty darn cute, even if he is a pest!  It will be very hard to give him up, if D decides to pick him up someday.  

Saturday 19 August 2017

Moving backward, looking forward

Well, that's over and done.  Another offer accepted and then terminated as a result of information not made available to me before I made the offer.  I'm disappointed, D is disappointed, and as a result life has taken another turn.

She and I had a discussion that got heated.  From my perspective she's done nothing, since getting pregnant with Eli, to do anything to secure his or her own future.  There was no plan B, hell I don't think there was even a plan A.  According to her she was relying on J and when that didn't work out, she figured I'd take care of things.  Well, I tried and that didn't work.

As a result of our disagreement she has moved back into J's house.  I suspect it won't last long as he is no more responsible than she is.  At this point, I can nothing more and at her age (35+), it is time for her to step up and take care of herself.  I worry about little Eli, but as I keep telling myself, kids are pretty resilient.  By nature he is a happy little guy, very easy-going, and I hope those tendencies will stand him in good stead.

It appears she's decided to leave Sheldon behind (as she did with Saku 8 years ago).  We'd been slowly introducing Sheldon to Saku - unlike Sami and Sasha he's never seen a kitten before and was quite upset.  On Thursday evening, my son and I decided it was now or never so we fed the cats in the same room.  Sheldon was probably 4 feet from Saku and while the two of them kept an eye on each other while they ate, there was no hissing or howling.  

After the meal, things were a little more tense but they managed.  Yesterday, I kept Sheldon out all day, there were a few moments of whappy paw, hissing and growling from Saku, especially when Sheldon runs up to him or surprises him.  Most often, Sheldon knows enough to back off but I think he gets confused because sometimes Saku will play with him.

At one point, they were in the midst of the chase game, Saku chased Sheldon, then they turned and Sheldon chased Saku.  But then Saku had had enough and turned on the kitten, hissing and growling.  

So the tolerance level is increasing, not without a scratch or two (on Sheldon's ear and nose). 

Night time is a different story, I tried allowing Sheldon to stay last night but I had to put him in a separate bedroom as he doesn't settle down and ends up annoying the other cats (and me).  So for the weekend, he'll be out during the day and tucked away at night so we can all get some sleep.  I left them alone for an hour yesterday while I went grocery shopping and they were fine, so may try leaving them on their own on Monday when I return to work. I don't think Saku would ever seriously hurt him, and now that Sheldon is bigger he can run away or climb out of Saku's way.

I really didn't/don't want another cat, but I suspect he'll be staying here.  My son C says he'll take him and Sasha when he leaves, likely in the next year.  I'll keep the other two with me.

On a much happier note, I'm counting down the days to my cruise....29!  I starting making a packing list yesterday.  Since it's Canada/New England and it's fall, it's quite a different list than i would take for my winter Caribbean cruise.  I'm assuming reasonably warm temps during the day with cooler temps at night so that means layers, a rain jacket just in case, and even a few pairs of socks.   

As a side note I hate socks (and pantyhose) soon as the weather warms enough in spring, I never wear them until it gets too cold in the fall to do without.  Growing up on the farm, I went barefoot all summer but now I wear sandals or flipflops.  

Anyway, back to the cruise.  I got an up-sell offer e-mail the other day.  For an additional $150C I could upgrade to an obstructed exterior cabin on deck 8.  I have sailed in one of these before, one of my first cruises, and they're okay.  There is a window, but the view is obstructed by the lifeboats that are stored on outside the rooms.  Our view was partially obstructed, as our window looked out between two lifeboats.  This time there was no guarantee, and I quite like the location of my current interior room.  I'm booked on deck 10 at the aft of the ship, a short distance from the adult only pool, and midway between the dining room on Deck 5 and the Horizon Court buffet on Deck 15.  One of my "rules" to cruising is no using the elevator except when I'm carrying luggage.  I know myself well, I'm more likely to stick to that rule if I don't have to climb more than 5 or 6 sets of stairs.  So I passed on the if they were to offer me a balcony room at the same rate..... :)

Enough babble from me today. I've got vacuuming, floors to wash, and outside chores to keep me busy.  

Have a good weekend everyone!  

Sunday 13 August 2017

Moving along

Things continue to move along with the purchase of the house trailer.  I've managed to arrange financing - though that in itself was a bit of a gong show.  Suffice to say the bank I've dealt with for the past 35 years is very quickly becoming less likely to keep my business.  (I started with this bank as a teller in 1982, long before bank clerks became known as client service representatives.  Somewhere along the line, service has become less about the client, and more about form over substance).  Instead I'm in the process of re-mortgaging my own home. While it isn't what I wanted, the interest rate is fantastic, so I'll use the reduction in the expected payments to reduce the principal while I'm still here.  

We had the home inspection on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately, we weren't able to view the roof before I made my offer, and it turns out there is missing flashing, a broken stack pipe (I think that's what it is called) and several missing shingles.  Our real estate agent let theirs know that we would be thinking about it over the weekend, but if we came back it would be with a lower offer.  He and I have planned to talk tomorrow - I'll probably offer considerably less and see where it goes.  I get the impression that the owners are in a hurry to sell, which is unfortunate for them, but good for me.  On the other hand I want to be fair so we'll have to wait and see what the agent has to say.  He's been very spot-on with his advice.  I've already told him, he'll get the call to sell my house next year.

While this process carries on, I'm looking forward to my upcoming cruise.  We've got a really good group going on Facebook and on CruiseCritic, so it should be a lot of fun.  There's talk of a trivia team (which I'd be thrilled to join) and karaoke (which I've promised not to join), as well as dinners on board ship, and excursions.  

I booked another excursion last night, this one for the port of  St. John, New Brunswick.  The tour takes in the Bay of Fundy, St. John River, and St. Martins. From the description: "After a photo stop at Fallsview Park, you'll embark on a one hour, scenic drive to St. Martins. The 200-year-old village features twin covered bridges, a small harbor and a lighthouse, favorite subjects for photographers and painters. You'll join your guide for a brief walking tour of the harbor, visit the lighthouse, and stroll the quaint gardens nestled between the covered bridges." 

One of the twin covered bridges was shut down earlier this year to vehicular traffic due to needed maintenance.  I'm hoping we'll have sufficient time to allow me to walk across and back on the bridge itself.  From there we head to the sea caves, then to a local restaurant for lunch and finally back to St. John to the Old City Market.  Sounds like a great day - not too strenuous and with an opportunity for some great photographs.

Just 35 days to sail-away (34 to leaving on a jet plane!)

Speaking of photographs, the subject of my camera is generally little Eli.  He's such a character!  He'll be grinning at me, and as soon as I turn the camera on, he turns solemn.  

He's started eating solid food...well as much as puree can be called solid food.  Sweet potatoes are his favorite, though he likes butternut squash, carrots, peas, and bananas.  Peaches have been tried with limited success.

He wants so much to hold his own spoon, so we give him one.  It takes a bit of work to pick it up but he gets it!

Of course, there is no hope of actually getting the right end of it into his mouth and certainly not with any food on it. But that's okay, practice will eventually make perfect.

He's also trying very hard to sit up on his own.  As long as he has backing he can sit (without sliding over sideways) for a few seconds.  I expect he'll master sitting in a few weeks.

He just makes me laugh. Even when he won't smile for me!  

Have a good week everyone. 


Monday 7 August 2017

Keeping busy

Can you believe that we're already into August?  The weeks keep flying by and I took another marble from the jar last week.  Hooray!  :) 

Work has been incredibly busy with all of the changes coming. I've been working on various projects in preparation of the new staff arriving and finishing off work with my current staff. I haven't felt overwhelmed, but am definitely exhausted by the end of the day. Not a bad thing.

At home, it's been a whirlwind the past two weeks.  Let me preface the rest of this paragraph with, I love my daughter and my grandson but....having them around is exhausting.  Besides the extra clutter and noise, there are the middle of the night wake-up calls which I attempt to ignore with the use of ear plugs.  However, D has yet to learn how to close a door quietly and seems to need to go in and out various doors (bathroom, her bedroom, his bedroom) at least a dozen times before things settle down again.  Despite enjoying the baby cuddles, I'm ready for her and Eli to move on.

This isn't as simple as it would seem. At this point, she's living on maternity benefits from Employment Insurance.  When she does go back to work, she'll have the additional costs for childcare.  She has also got herself in a bit of financial pickle that will need to be resolved over the next few months.  Like Scarlet O'Hara she has a tendency to put off thinking about tomorrow until she absolutely must. To be honest, sometimes I wonder if this girl will ever grow up. 

So I sat down and did some number crunching.  D was less than forthcoming about her fiscal position but I did determine how much she was contributing to the household when she was living with J.  ARRRGGHHH.....that man is a total leech!*  Once I had that number I started looking for viable options for living.  While D ought to have been doing this, she had determined she would live with me until next response to that suggestion was an emphatic no!

A two bed, one bath rental in Regina is currently renting for $1200-$1500 for apartments and even more for houses and this was simply beyond (=]]6==g`-Sheldon's helping with this post) her means at this point.  I looked on-line at the housing market and quickly came to the realization that any house available that I might be able to afford would need significant work and was likely to be found in an area of the city, neither she nor I would be comfortable with.

However, there were several mobile homes available in three different parks. One is about a 15-20 minute drive from the city, while the other two are within the city limits.  I started showing the options to D and after some discussion she agreed to visit a few of the properties with me.

The first was located outside the city.  The home has been updated with new flooring, a new furnace, new washer/dryer, and has a two additions, one a third bedroom and the other a family room.  It even had a second bath and a walk-in closet in the master.  The yard was lovely, fenced in with lots of perennials, a shed, and ample parking in front.  D is considering opening a home daycare in the next year so it seemed perfect, and although it was only the first place we saw, we decided to put in an offer.  After a bit of to and fro'ing the offer was accepted with certain conditions to be met. But it wasn't meant to be, as one of the conditions was decidedly not met by the seller....she had failed to disclose that the lot fees for the park were increasing by $150 per month!  Suddenly the numbers no longer added up the way I'd hoped so I withdrew the offer and we were back to square one.

Over the past week and a half we've seen six other properties.  Several appeared to be very nice on-line but turned out to be real duds in real life.  It's pretty clear a good real estate with an eye for photography can make a difference.  Two of the homes were in dire need of updating, as well as mechanical issues.  I took the papers out of the envelope on the front of the furnace - it's had no servicing since 2005.  Another had half-finished projects all over the place, none of which had been done well.  No thanks!  

Another of the properties was just too small, at only 700 square feet,  though it's had been re-done with new flooring, paint, counter tops and back splash.  But there was little storage, the closets were small, no pantry, and the bathroom also doubled as the laundry room.  When we drove away, I said to D, that place would be perfect for C (my son).  It would have done in a pinch but I think it's more suitable to a single or perhaps a young couple starting out.  

This past Friday, we were able to see the last two properties.  The second was the biggest fail of all.  We hadn't been able to get into it earlier as the key wasn't in the lock box the first time we were there.   It was a double wide with two bedrooms, one bath that has been pretty much gutted.  AND that's exactly what it was...gutted.  There were no kitchen cabinets, no bathroom fixtures, and the materials they'd used to complete the work that had been done was of the cheapest quality.  What a waste of time for us and our real estate agent!

But the first property we saw that day was much more appealing.  A three bedroom, one bath on a large lot with a front porch and a screened in back deck, it has had some recent upgrades and was listed with all appliances including washer/dryer, fridge, stove, dishwasher, freezer, and garburator.  The kitchen is a bit dated but the bathroom was recently renovated with new vanity, a soaker tub, cabinets and flooring.  It has lots of storage, with a pantry, the front and back porches, a full closet plus another walk-in closet in the master bedroom and two sheds.  It also has the third bedroom.  It is a home D and Eli can grow I'd have a place to stay when I come out to visit!

We told our real estate agent we wanted to take the night to think about it and agreed to get in touch with him the next afternoon.  D is still disappointed about the first place and wasn't entirely certain.  But by morning, she had come to the realization this place had a lot to offer.  She can still consider opening a home daycare - it has the third bedroom for nap-time, the living room is large so can be used at one end for toys, and when the weather is nice the back porch will make a great play area.  (Maybe I won't want to stay with her).

At 4:15 p.m. the real estate agent dropped by the house to pick up the signed offer.  He gave me the impression that he didn't think the sellers would bite as I offered significantly less than they were asking.  By 6 p.m. we had signed acceptance!  Again there are conditions to be met, financing, a satisfactory home inspection, a review of the current lease, and the disclosure statement from the current owner.  I expect these conditions will be met by the end of this upcoming week.  

Because of her financial situation, D will be unable to get the financing.  I've always said I would gift each of my children a certain amount from the sale of my current home for a down payment.  Instead I'm kicking in the down payment for this home from my current savings, and will make the payments on the loan (no mortgages are available on a mobile home on leased land), until that number is reached.  Then she's on her own.  In the meantime she's responsible for the lot fee, insurance and utilities.  Based on my calculations that should be about $900 a month, significantly less than a rental would have cost.  While the mobile home will not likely retain it's value, she should be able to sell it in a few years and still have a reasonable amount for a down payment on something else if she chooses.

Best of all, by early October, I'll have my peace and quiet again.  Plus all, and I mean all, of D's stuff will be out of my home.  She's been storing things here since I kicked her out in 2014.  I told C when it's all out of here, I'll be going hard to clear the rest of the clutter and get this house ready for resale in mid-2018.  With any luck C will get a permanent position at work, and be in his own place soon as well.  He's been saving his pennies diligently.  In fact, if that place that was perfect for him is still available in December, he thinks he'll have sufficient funds to buy it with cash.  That's my boy!

It will be a bit of stretch financially for me as well, but I've done the numbers and I can do it without much sacrifice.  I won't be able to buy a new vehicle....but then again, I hadn't planned to do so.  My travel will be limited to the trips already booked, but I don't have any more vacation time anyway.  (At least until I retire). Besides I'm doing it for this guy....could there be a better reason?

*And a leech he continues to be.  Since D left, he's found another sucker to move in with him to pay the rent.  This time it is a male friend....we'll see how long another guy is willing to put up with his games.  Obviously she cannot count on him to provide any support.  

Have a good week everyone!