Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We're Here (sort of)

Debbie came and picked me up on Thursday and we made it back to Sanford in one piece (always a doubtful proposition on Death Highway, otherwise known as I-4). I spent Friday tossing everything into bins and doing a deep clean, with a short break to take all the equipment back to Brighthouse and shutting off our account.

[Interesting aside: Even though we have Brighthouse in Zephyrhills, it isn't the same Brighthouse we had in Sanford, so we couldn't use their move-your-service service. We had to get service installed here, then shut off service in Sanford. Because of the whole living-in-two-places-at-once thing, it actually worked out to our advantage, but I thought it rather strange when I called Brighthouse and they couldn't find any trace of our account.]

Saturday, we picked up the truck at 9am, started hauling everything out around 10am, rolled out of Sanford with a full truck by 2pm, made the 2 1/2-hour drive to Zephyrhills and had the truck empty and ready to return by 7pm. Sunday morning, we ditched the truck, drove back to Sanford to finish cleaning and turn in the keys, made it back here and collapsed in front of the TV. Monday morning was all about getting internet access working for both computers, then installing all the hardware and software that Debbie needed to be able to log into work Tuesday morning. We spent the afternoon at the bank, then the DMV to change our addresses, then Staples to buy a good chair and chair mat for Debbie's office. We wanted to pick up a file cabinet, but the Zephyrhills Staples doesn't carry large items in inventory: you pick what you want from the display models, then order it online and have it delivered to your house. Good idea if you don't have a way to transport something like a four-drawer file cabinet, but it means we have to wait a bit for the new file cabinet.

The trailer is completely full of bins and we're not real sure where most of it will end up. The only storage areas and closets we have are full and the entire Florida room is packed with more stuff. Some of the big items will be going on Craigslist later this month, but we simply have no idea where the rest is going to go. One thing is absolutely certain; we are not renting another storage unit. The space we have is the space we have and we need to learn to live in it and stop clinging to things. I know, I know; radical idea for someone living in the biggest hording culture in human history. We'll just have to be freaks.

And to keep from getting bored, we're heading back up to Michigan for the Wiklanski reunion this weekend. It will be a nice break from all things moving and unpacking. The problem is that all the work will still be sitting here when we get back. Ah well.

Another of today's fun little adventures involves trying to get our address updated with all the various places that insist on clogging up our mailbox. You would think that such a simple task wouldn't be that hard. You would of course, be wrong. If I hear one more person tell me that I connected to the wrong department, then either "accidentally" disconnect me when they transfer me, or give me a non-working phone number to call, I'm going to start blowing things up. And don't even get me started on the crappy coding on business and government web sites. These complete morons can't even get the basics right, as in here's a place to type an 8-digit number, but it only accepts five digits. Again, any place I worked back in the bad ol' days of COBOL and 24 lines of 80 green characters on a black screen, putting something like that into production was a firing offense.

Well, I need to get back at it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Living in the First World

Bahr's Propane came by today, on time and with everything they needed to get all the work done so we would have a functioning range and running hot water. Again, I'm not sure why it's so hard for some people to do that. Anyway, I can at least take a hot shower this afternoon for the first time in a month. In celebration of having a functioning stove, I feasted on Ramen for lunch. It will be a while before I can stomach microwaved food again.

Anyway, that's all I have. Debbie will be picking me up tonight, tomorrow I tear everything down and pack it all up, Saturday morning we go get our truck, load it, and hit the road. We have the truck until Monday morning in case we need to make multiple trips or something goes sideways. With luck, we'll be out of Sanford for good no later than Monday. Woohoo!

We probably won't have time to update anything here until we are fully landed in Zephyrhills.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Blogging from Zephyrhills

Brighthouse came today, on the day they said they would, on time and with all the equipment and supplies they needed to do the job. One hour later, we have phone service, cable TV and internet, which I am using right now to post this. I could name a number of people who could learn a great deal from Brighthouse Networks. My purpose on this planet is not to spend every day sitting around waiting for people who never show up or call when they say they will.

Debbie drove over Saturday night after work with a load of stuff. The place is really starting to fill up and we don't even have a third of our crap here yet. I'll be calling Restore to pick up another load of left-overs from the previous owners and some of the pieces we've removed that are still in good enough condition that someone can make use of them. That will open up a couple good-sized holes for us to fill back up with bins full of things we have no idea where to put. I'm thinking "landfill" sounds good, but we'll probably try to find new homes for most of it rather than dumpster it.

One thing we had to get done before we moved was to get a hard-wire network connection for Debbie's computer. For poking around on the internet, her laptop's wimpy wireless connection was good enough, but for running a voice and data VPN connection so she can work from home, a 56K network connection just wasn't going to do the trick. I had peeked under the trailer to see just what would be involved in running a wire for its entire width. It was ugly. Seriously ugly. So I picked up a 50-foot fish tape at Lowes, dug out the Ric's Stuff box that has all my network cabling supplies and tackled the job while Debbie was here to be the second pair of hands. It actually went pretty smooth and we were all set in a couple hours. That was the only thing I had on the to-do list for the day, so we made the decision to make a round-trip to Sanford to get our bed.

Our bed doubles as storage, and for the last week or so, we've been kicking stuff from pillar to post here in the trailer that will ultimately be stored under the bed. I made the bed so it breaks down for easy transport, and I thought it all fit in the back of the Durango. I measured how much space we had to make sure. Seven feet. No problem. A queen bed is only like 80 inches, right? A hundred miles later, we discover that either our queen bed is eight feet long, or I need to practice more with a tape measure. So we grabbed a bunch of other stuff instead and headed back to Zephyrhills. We were making pretty good time, until we got to the jackknifed semi blocking all lanes. We were able to get off I-4 and go around the mess without loosing too much time, but it meant that Debbie would have to drive back to Sanford after dark. She finally got home around 9pm after a (thankfully) smooth ride home.

So yea. Not one of our more productive days, but at least at this point, we're about 90% livable. I'm waiting on one more phone call from someone who was supposed to call me Friday and promises on poor ol' Granny's grave that he'll call me today. If I can get his ass out here before Debbie comes to pick me up Thursday night, we can move in and actually be living in a legal residence. How first-world. I'm not holding my breath. But no matter what, we'll be living here by the end of July, even if we have to take our baths in a galvanized tub sitting over a wood fire.

Well, I need to call the Restore people and set up another pickup and set up the truck rental for this weekend. And wait for a phone call, of course. It will be so nice when we get past this.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quick Post Then On the Road Again

I'm back at the ghetto apartment for less than 48 hours and then it's off again to Michigan for the Vargason Reunion. In some ways, the renovations at the new place are going well. In others, not so great. Anything that we're doing ourselves is fine. The one thing I hired done is, of course, a complete screw-up that has left us with no source of hot water, no oven or stove, no hook-up for the washer,  a scratched-up kitchen floor, and two open gas lines under the kitchen counter. It's the house in Alden all over again: incompetent "friends" who just wanna "help." Not this time. Their last chance to make things right was Tuesday before Debbie showed up to bring me back here. I was left sitting around with my thumb up my ass all day while they played the no-call-no-show game. Well, when you do that as an employee of Burger King, you are fired on the spot. So guess what, Steve and your little Merry Band of Men; You're Fired!

(I gotta get a picture of me in a bad toupee if I'm going to start using that line.)

So as soon as we're back in Florida, we have to get to work fixing the damage left behind. Working with gas lines isn't one of my favorite tasks, but I'll manage it much better than the last bunch of fools, it won't cost me hundreds of dollars, and when I'm finished, the job will be done. Unfortunately, because of the wasted time, we won't get all the renovations complete that we wanted out of the way before we started living there, but we can make do and piece-meal it once we're moved in.

Enough of that. Done and done. Lesson relearned: If Debbie and I can't do it ourselves, it just won't get done.

Here is what we did get accomplished:

Florida room: Lots of water damage out here, plus a wall with a non-functioning pocket door that led to a completely dysfunctional laundry/storage area. Getting the old vinyl flooring in the laundry room up turned out to be pretty easy. The underlayment was molded due to water leaking in under the back door, so rather than try to separate the vinyl floor from it, we tore it all up as one piece and tossed it on the scrap pile, then put down all-new felt and underlayment. We will eventually put down some kind of permanent flooring, but in the meantime, we went with some blue enamel porch-and-floor paint. One distressing discovery: The florescent fixture you can see in the laundry room in the first photo? Some bright boy thought the best way to attach it to the ceiling was by running screws from the outside through the roof. And not just a few screws; over a dozen screws were driven through the roof. The best part is that they were too short and were doing nothing to hold up the light. They're just making holes in the roof. We've been finding this sort of thing, or worse, everywhere we look.

Storage room: Originally, all that was in the storage area were two clothes rods that had been positioned too close to the wall for a hanger to fit, and a shelf over the rod. None of it felt very secure, and when I took everything down I found that it wasn't just a feeling. Any significant weight on either the shelf or the rod would have resulted in a loud crash, most likely late at night. The shelving attached to the door seemed secure, so we left it. Everything else went into the dump pile and was replaced by Closetmaid rod and shelf on one side, and pantry shelving on the other.

Bedroom: There was a narrow wall at the foot of the bed that was only there to provide a place for the 1970's-style folding closet door to attach when closed. We never closed it, and the wall was in the perfect spot that whenever I got out of bed at night, I would come around the end of the bed and smash my right foot and the right side of my face into it. Every. Single. Time. So it's gone. And no, I didn't leave the 2x2 stumps sticking into the room. I was taking intermediate pictures while I was working, then forgot to take one when it was complete. Living around old people must be rubbing off.

Well, off to do last minute packing (to move), packing (for the trip) and cleaning things up.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Power tools and ants

Hey All --- Debbie here. 

Ric is over in Zephyrhills working on things so we can move in the last weekend of this month.   I took last Friday off work and we were over there together working Fri/Sat/Sun.   We got to take down a wall -- finally figured out how to take up the old linoleum/wood floor in the laundry room  --  take down the old paneling in the Florida room and then start putting down new flooring in the laundry room and one place in Florida room back corner where rain damaged/rotted.   I got to use the power tool to take out screws from the old shelving and the old paneling.   (And I didn't hurt myself!  LOL)   The big surprise was when I was part way done with taking down the old paneling in the Florida room under the fake vinyl windows.   I started to take out one screw and a bunch of ants started running all over the place.   I stopped and just yelled ANTS ANTS ANTS! to Ric.   Of course we did not have any type of bug spray yet.    Ric told me to stop hitting them and they should go back to their nest until I could make an emergency run to get some ant spray.   They finally calmed down after I stopped hitting the wall with my shoe!    We found them in a couple places in the wall under the windows -- nestled in the foam or between the foam and the paneling.   Glad they all died with the ant spray!   The first bunch I kinda went overboard with the spraying and Ric and I ended up inhaling the fumes for most of the rest of the day.   Ric is busy while I'm gone with cleaning and figuring out how to reseal things so this does not happen again. 

Well -- clothes are ready to fold and get packed again to head over to Z Hills tomorrow after work -- I have the 4th and 5th off since I'm working Sat.