Friday, March 29, 2013

The Universe Hates Us

Yea, it's been one of those couple weeks. First it was car trouble, although I can't really complain about the Durango. Since I bought the thing used back in 2005, I've done absolutely nothing other than change the oil, tires and brakes. Not bad for a ten-year-old vehicle with over 150K miles. It was more to do with the timing, being in the middle of tax season and all. It wasn't even a major breakdown; the water pump crapped out. No big, right? A couple hours in the shop and back on the road.

Not.

See, Dodge has a special kind of water pump that doesn't just start leaking like every other water pump on every other car ever made. No, the Dodge water pump fails catastrophically and takes out everything on the front of the engine block and usually the radiator as well with flying debris. We actually got lucky and only had to replace the fan and fan clutch in addition to the water pump. Of course, we had to wait for parts, which meant bumming a ride to work for a week from my daddy like I was 15 working my first job at Burger King. The good news is that it's fixed and it didn't cost us our life savings.

That cannot be said of the second little problem. But first, I have to talk about the weather. It's been just plain weird with several days of 80 degree highs, then several days where it barely creeps up into the 60's. On one of the 80-degree days, I decided to flip on the AC just to make sure it was working after sitting unused since the end of September. As you probably have guessed, it wasn't. No big deal; we have a maintenance contract left over from the previous owners and the temps were due to swing back into the 60's. I called and scheduled a dude to come out and look at things figuring it will just be a bit of Freon and we'll be good to go. Then I get The Call at work. The system is completely empty. Just finding the leak and refilling the Freon (the old banned kind that costs several hundred dollars a gallon) will cost $1,000. If the leak is in the coil (which it most likely is), add another $2,000. And after all that, you will have a system that maybe will last another year or so.

I've been around the block once or twice, so I know where this conversation is heading. Me: "Cut to the chase, Dude. What's a new system going to cost?" Dude: "$4,500." Me: "When?" Dude: "Today." Me: "Do it." I do have to say that I was impressed at how fast these guys moved. Debbie handed Dude our credit card around 2:45PM. We had a new system installed along with a new thermostat, all new duct work, new electrical with lightning protection, and all the old stuff cleaned up and gone by 5:30PM. It was almost too fast; for $4,500 (which was our life savings) I would expect there to be enough work to keep a crew busy for at least an eight-hour day. The silver lining in all this is that now that the temperatures have cycled back into the 60's during the day and the 40's at night, we have heat. The old system was just an AC, so we've been relying on electric heaters to keep us warm on those cold, frosty Florida winter nights. Now it stays all warm and toasty by magic.

Work continues on the Florida room. Last weekend, my dad and I tore the front off and installed the sliding glass door that had been between the Florida room and the trailer. I have everything more or less sealed up at this point. This weekend, we'll be working on more of the detail work like insulating around the new windows, getting the stud work done so we can get the siding up on the outside and insulate the walls and hang drywall on the inside, and going nuts with the caulking gun to try to seal up all the places where you can look outside that you shouldn't be able to look outside. We're not sure where the money for the siding is going to come from now that our entire life savings went to a new central air unit, but at this point, we need to get that done, probably shortly after tax season is over.

And that's our life. And it's 57 days until Towel Day. Don't panic.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Quicky

Just to let people know that I'm still kicking, I thought I'd post some photos:

I finished up the back corner connecting the two new planting beds. I may do more with this in the future, but for now, I'm calling it done.

We started final prep for new siding by replacing half of the plastic windows with dual pane glass windows and eliminating the other half.

I had some unexpected work when I realized that I couldn't take out the window I wanted to get rid of without taking out the small one on the porch. That was supposed to be a later project, but now it's done. The rest of the wall will be replaced with a sliding glass door.
Sorry for the short updates, but I need to head off and get ready for work.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Baby

With apologies to the Little River Band. And a few days late. My first post here was actually March 3rd, 2004, but tax season keeps getting in the way of... well... everything.

I have managed to get a few things done in spite of all the tax season chaos:

We did the same trick to the window in our new back door that we used at Arcosanti to block out the sun and nosy neighbors.

The back of the trailer was just weeds and dirt. The walk will eventually be widened all the way across to the trailer behind us, eliminating a major maintenance nightmare I had to deal with all last summer.

New bed along the side of the trailer. The maintenance guys last year did us a "favor" and sprayed Roundup all along the trailer so I wouldn't have to trim it. More bare dirt, dust and a few weeks after it was sprayed, weeds that I had to trim anyway. Thanks, guys!

We finally got a solar-powered clothes dryer (old people call it a "clothesline") so we can stop making the coin laundry people rich.

It was close to sunset, so the lighting is bad, but this is supposed to show that the walk in front of the shed has been straightened up and expanded slightly. We will eventually expand it out under the clothesli... er... solar-powered clothes dryer.
That's all I have time for this morning.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Sleepless in Zephyrhills

We both had yesterday off work, so we slept late, then fell asleep last night around 9pm. (We live such adventuresome lives....) So here it is 3:30 in the morning and I'm wide awake. This ought to make for an interesting day at work. At least I have the weekend off.

Anyway, not much going on for either of us other than work, work, work. Things seem to be slowing a bit at Debbie's job, but tax season is still going strong for me. We're not getting the walk-in's like we were the first few weeks; now it's the returning clients with rental properties, schedule C businesses, sub-S corporations, etc. The great thing about tax season is that for better or worse, it's mostly over on April 15th. Then you have nine months for forget how much tax season sucks so you'll be stupid enough to do it again the next year.

Because we've both been working like crazy, we haven't really done much. But as I mentioned, we both managed to finagle a day off together yesterday to go see a bunch of people from the church I grew up in. It was fun catching up with everyone. I managed to figure out who most of the people were in the four hours or so that we were there. All in all, a better way to pass a day than getting bitched at on the phone by people desperate for their tax refunds because they've managed to wreck their lives in some way.

That's pretty much all I have. Between work and trying to plow through Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series (1,800 extremely dense pages), I've barely even been on the computer for over a week. I have no idea if the world ended or the stock market crashed or what new country we've decided to go to war against. And don't really care. I have a to-be-read pile that is out-growing the space I have set aside for my to-be-read pile, so I'll likely be updating this place even less frequently than I am now.

We have managed to make some progress on the outside of this place, so I may snap a few pictures to post here when I get a minute this weekend. Other than that, don't expect much.