Category Archives: Housekeeping – Maintenance

“Closet” Project Almost Finished!

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Actually, yesterday was the biggest push on this. My closet is as organized now as it ever gets – cool and cold weather clothes in there now. I filled a whole leaf trash bag with clothes that were TOO LARGE yesterday – my reward for the day. I’ve spent SO many years moving too-small clothes back and forth, ignoring the problem. The past couple of years I’ve only moved the ones I had SOME chance of getting into by the NEXT season, or things I really loved that I just couldn’t face giving away. As I told you yesterday, I’m still grinning that a deep purple sweater with leather front decorated with leather flowers finally FITS!

The remainder of the closet project will be done today, since it’s STILL raining and too cool outside for comfort  (45 degrees F.)  I moved the warm/hot weather clothes into the guest room closet. I’ll get them arranged a bit better, with room for our son to hang stuff up when he visits (sometime this winter!)  And THAT will finish the closet project.

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Filed under Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Organizing/DeCluttering

Decluttering – Cleaning Out – Celebration!

Cosmopolitan

I told you recently that I’ve started on Phase II of decluttering my home. It’s been awhile since I’ve made any progress because I’ve been working out in the yard. Now that we’re having a rainy weekend and first of the week, I started on the master bedroom and bath.

With the sudden coolness,  yesterday we got the upstairs vacuum working well enough to clean both rooms. I found myself grabbing a hoodie to keep warm, so today I started on my closet in earnest. I moved the hot weather clothes into the guest room closet and the cold weather clothes into my closet. Now I’m doing sessions, trying on everything and deciding whether it’s wearable and I like it, or if it’s in good enough shape to donate to the Thrift shop, or…

A truly wonderful thing is that I’ve been moving a sweater with a leather front, leather flowers and a front zipper back and forth for at least 5 years now because I loved it, even though it was WAAAAAY too small.  Today I tried it on and it FIT!!!!! I got my husband to come upstairs, put it on, and even HE thought it looked really good. He said, “Not only can you get into it, it fits WELL and looks GOOD.” :0)

I like loose tops. I’ve found several, however, that are SO loose they’re either falling off my shoulders or come down so low in front I might as well not bother wearing anything. Woo HOOOO!  I have a pad and pen and some trash bags up there to receive the donations now.

I get tired and out of patience quickly trying things on and taking them off again, so I’m spacing out the sessions. I’ll try to finish things by this evening.

It really feels good to be celebrating getting rid of clothes that are TOO LARGE, as well as purging my closet in general.

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Filed under Encouragement, giving, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Organizing/DeCluttering

Today’s Exercise Sucks!

Alamy

My son gave us a small Dyson ball vacuum when he decided he wanted to live and work in China. Now he’s in Thailand and I still use his vacuum upstairs.

Lately I’ve been having trouble with it. It was REALLY hard to push forward – acting like it was on strike – taking all of my strength to try to vacuum the rugs in our master bath. I brought it down to have my husband – Mr. Fix it – do his magic on it. Like taking your car to the shop, he pushed it around and found no problem, so I took it back up.

Today I started trying to vacuum our bedroom and the master bath. Same problem. I left it where it was and came down and got Mr. Fix It again. This time it showed its true colors. Even my husband couldn’t get it to go forward. PLUS, it wasn’t sucking. The combination made it pretty useless.

He took it apart, frowned at it, and put it back together again. Somehow that made it suck again, although it was still really hard to push forward. It was bad in the master bath, but wasn’t bad at all on the bedroom carpet…

So, I finished vacuuming up there, and now I have sore stomach muscles from trying to push the thing in the bathroom – so I’m officially using my cleaning efforts as my exercise for the day.

We took it apart again, and I brought down the filter and the canister that holds the dirt to wash them out. He found another filter inside the ball and brought it down and we washed that, too. Hopefully, when we put the dry, clean parts back together, it will be happier. Otherwise, I’ll drag my larger one from downstairs up the next time.

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Filed under exercise, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob

Decluttering Project – Phase Two – Office

I’ve been going through our home this year, trying to look at everything with a fresh eye with the idea of keeping what is useful or brings us joy, and giving away what we hope others can use, and getting rid of ‘stuff’ that just weighs us down. Since we’ve been in the house for over 30 years now and are both pack rats, this is a big job. We aren’t ‘hoarders’ as on TV, but we have gone far beyond reasonable in ‘stuff.’

I’ve made good progress, going through each of the rooms of the house (with only cursory attention to basement, garage, and shop due to ‘intense discussions’ on what constitutes ‘junk’) and am now starting PHASE II, going through everything again.

I started with our office, because we both spend a lot of time in here. My husband was finally able to get both of our computers going again (INTENSE GRATEFULNESS and RELIEF) so I’m officially moving the laptop back out to our shop. There is one remaining open computer on the counter. This is a project of my husband’s, so I’m keeping hands off and mouth firmly shut. :0)

Otherwise, I have been working on this room part of each day for approximately two weeks. Trips and other priorities made this a bit hit and miss, but today I feel as if I’ve made definite progress.

I have one small pile of things left to file or pitch. Otherwise, I’ve cleaned out my drawers and shelves here. It’s nice to not have to wade through a whole pile of ‘stuff’ to get to my calendar, or discover that I actually have two wall calendars for 2019 already! I’m comfortable at my computer now.

 

This was a real mess. I threw away a BUNCH of things. Again, I can find things easily now and have removed more dust than I care to detail. :0(  Our shredder is sitting on a box containing a new laser printer. Our old printer that was beyond used up suddenly gasped and is functioning. We’ll finish out what it can do and THEN get the new one set up.

 

And this is my impractical, but well-loved desk, finally clear of many piles of things that couldn’t be moved before today for various reasons. It’s nice to be able to have a spot to actually work without having to move stacks and stacks of ‘stuff.’

Motivation is picturing our son, who lives and works in Thailand – and who loves his minimalist lifestyle, having to go through things and decide what to do with all of it. I’m not sure which room I’ll tackle next. I have to admit that everywhere I look, attention is needed. I feel good that I have one room “Phase Two Finished.”

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Challenges, Changes, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Organizing/DeCluttering

Balloon Pricker

Science ABC

A good friend of mine, Carla, and I went for a free dinner and spiel by Healthy Home 365 yesterday afternoon. We’ve been to other spiel/dinners, but this one was at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Fort Smith, a restaurant we both like, and we wanted the time together to catch up, so off we went.

This company has lots of good ideas for energy savings in your home. The spiel was well done and the food was good. I’m glad that technology is now providing good ways to minimize the affects of attics on homes. They have a solar-powered attic fan, a stuff called MLI, a multi-layered 99.9% aluminum ‘sandwich’ that comes in rolls to go over your existing attic insulation, an additive to put in your air conditioner to get rid of fouled oil that is supposed to prolong the life of your a/c, an EcoProbiotic System you attach to your air ducts to remove bacteria, etc., etc., etc.

My main reaction is that my husband and I have done what we’re able to afford already with a geothermal air conditioning and heat system, a tankless water heater, new windows, a check by our electric company for places we were losing heat, etc. These companies know what demographic they’re targeting, but it seems to ME that they should be targeting affluent middle or upper class families, rather than ‘mature’ people like us. The technology was impressive, and of COURSE I’d like to do ALL of it, but the cost was astronomical, even with a 30% price savings due to a Federal credit on your taxes. My friend signed up for an estimate, and I’m interested to hear what they told her. The estimates are supposed to be good for one year.

Big selling points were the tax credit, discount for quick sign-up, a higher selling price on your home, a payment plan, amortizing the cost over your lifetime, etc., etc. We have a reverse mortgage, so we aren’t concerned with selling our home. We are still trying to amortize the cost of the geothermal system, even though we received tax savings on that, ‘lifetime’ warranties mean a bit less now.

If this were about 15 years ago, we might have jumped at this. Their really good products and we would love to have them, but priorities are different now.  Sorry. I had to prick their balloon.

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Filed under Bright Ideas, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Important Ideas to Consider, learning new things, opportunities, quality of life

3rd (and Last) Session in the Yard Today

For my third session in the yard today, I pruned our rose bushes. I weeded around them, too, and GUESS WHAT! – encountered more swarming ants! I went and got the sprayer and hosed them down well. I only got bitten in one session today, on my left calf, and that’s GREAT with all the hostiles I encountered.

 

I then got the leaf blower and cleaned off the front porch, pad, sidewalk, and then the back sidewalk, and finally the garage pad before declaring and end to the outside work today.

I rested a bit, drank more water, then we had lunch – on the nice, clean porch! :0)

Finally, I just did a session of yoga.

Arlindo Martins

I have a back ache after all the work in the yard. I was able to lessen it a lot with all the stretching. I’ll take some Advil to finish things off and then rest again before dinner.

I got a good amount of exercise done today (for me) and the yard and greenhouse are under better control now.

I’m looking forward to relaxing a bunch and enjoying taped TV or a movie tonight – and definitely a good night’s sleep.

I hope you had a good Sunday, too.

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Filed under exercise, Gardening, Housekeeping - Maintenance

Yard

alamy.com

I am devoting the day to working in the yard. Since I’ve been home from seeing Murray, I’ve been getting laundry and the house cleaning under better control. Today it’s time to shift my focus to the yard. My husband mowed recently, so I can concentrate on the smaller things that need doing.

I’ll be out there in several shifts today, resting and hydrating in-between –

  • pruning rose bushes
  • spraying EIGHT bug spray on the ant piles and hostile ants my husband found while mowing, and then while pulling a weed out of a planter on the deck while we were grilling steaks last night
  • planting the head iceberg lettuce six-pack I bought in town yesterday in the greenhouse
  • weeding flower planters
  • finding, cutting and planting tomato suckers in the greenhouse from the plants still alive
  • cleaning up the greenhouse
  • spraying and weeding the planters on the deck
  • using the leaf blower to clean up porch, sidewalks, and garage pad from the grass cutting my husband did
  • weeding and preparing the raised bed planters in the garden for the winter

The list is never-ending, but our weather is cooler, so it’s nicer to tackle some of the issues.

If I actually accomplish something significant, I’ll share some pics later.

One wonderful thing happened in the front yard this morning! I went out to call Amber after Molly had barked to come in. She and Smoke (the gray cat) were together messing with ‘something’ in the yard. I went out to find they had unearthed a mole! I stomped on it a couple of times, but that didn’t kill it. I called to Amber to follow me inside, which she did, reluctantly. She really wanted to continue picking the mole up, biting it, and spitting it out again. I got Amber inside, grabbed the hemostat clamp we have hanging up for when we need to grab bad things securely, and picked up the mole and threw him as far as I could into the woods in front of the civilized part of our yard. I’m hoping that he will either die (yeah, I’m cruel) or if not, satisfy himself tunneling through the 7 acres we’re NOT trying to fashion into some form of a lawn around the house.

Have a great Sunday!

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Filed under Gardening, greenhouse, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Immortal

My husband has, once again, made something immortal, fixing the light by my chair that had gone wonky. I would turn it on and then it would go off by itself. Sometimes it would come ON again, making us feel as if the gremlins were in charge. We decided it had to be the lamp part that the light bulb goes in, and so went to Yeager’s this morning and bought a replacement part. After my husband did his thing, it’s working fine.

We built these two lamps in 1969 when we married. We couldn’t afford ones we liked, so we went to an aircraft junk yard and bought two parts of a helicopter. (Yeah, we were weird back then, too. )

 

We sandblasted each of these and wired them, installed lamp parts, and then a holder for the shade. They weigh about 50 lbs each, so I get a bit of exercise moving them back and forth on the tables to dust them – and under them.

We’ve loved them because they are unique. No one else in the world would probably HAVE them if they were offered, but WE like them and they aren’t like everybody else’s. We put a spark plug in each of them, just as an accent. :0)

We’ve laboriously moved them with us to each new place. So far, they’ve been with us for 49 years. With the fix my husband did on the one by my chair today, they’ll outlive us!

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Filed under Bright Ideas, Decorating Ideas, Favorite Things, Housekeeping - Maintenance, memories

Closet Purge/Reorganization Project Finished

I have now finished going through my closet with my hot weather clothes, all my shoes, purses, scarves, etc. For me, this is good. Before, my shoes were all over the floor, for example. To the right of the shelves you can see my scarves and a hint of my purses.

 

My shoes are actually in the shelves for shoes now!

 

Casual tops are on the top. Dressier (as far as I GET dressier) on the bottom.)

I’ve tried everything on and have brought a LOT of stuff downstairs and dumped it in the foyer corner until I start listing and bagging things for donation to the Veterans Thrift Store in Fort Smith. THAT’S for another day, though.

I’m going to go put my feet up and dive into another book. :0)

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Filed under Challenges, giving, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Lewis projects, Organizing/DeCluttering

Smiling Fish

I bought an aquarium vacuum quite some time ago, but didn’t use it until yesterday. It’s a siphon-type apparatus. You sink the main part, getting it full of water, then turn and bump it up and down a few times to get the siphon action going. (This proved to need two of us yesterday, though I think one person is supposed to be able to do it by themself.)

Once we got it siphoning, it did a good job of sucking up the gravel and separating the debris from it, sucking it out through the tube and into the sink.

 

I then added the decorations, new filter cartridge, etc, and topped it off with the fish. They’ve been smiling ever since, and the water is nice and clear today.

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob

Project for the Day

I got six of these fabric bins so that I could do a better job of storing Afghans, blankets, throws, and quilts. I have shelves upstairs, but I want these to stay clean. Living up on top of a ridge line means that whenever doors are opened (50+ times a day letting doggies, cats, or people in and out) dust blows in. No matter what I do, I’m always finding dust all over everything. I refuse to dust and vacuum more than a couple of times a week, so we live with both dust and animal hair.

These bins seem like a good way to store my extras dust-free. They have zippered tops and open up nice and wide. They have a plastic ‘stripe’ down the front so you can easily see what is inside. I’m hopeful that these will be at least part of a solution to my storage challenges.

 

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Bug Busting

 

I told you yesterday that a scorpion casually waltzed up from the drain hole in the sink and mooned me night before last while I was sleepily washing my face getting ready for bed.

I won’t have it! Today I’m concentrating on the second floor, getting stuff up off the floor, vacuuming thoroughly, and then spraying all around the baseboards, windows and doorways with our good bug sprayer. One of the bug companies years ago said, “The only good bug is a dead bug.” I basically agree – emotionally – since I know that bugs are good for something in our ecology. I just don’t want them to be good for the ecology in my house!

We’re in the awkward stage for the commercial bug sprayers to come back here. They spray, and for two weeks afterwards, if you see a live bug, you call and they’ll come back and spray again at no extra charge. We’re about halfway between the no charge respray and them coming again for the contracted quarterly treatment. I’m trying not to have to pay an extra charge, if I can knock these out myself in-between.

So far, I’ve finished our master bedroom and the master bath, plus our two closets. I’ll rest a bit and then go up and tackle the next section.  Hopefully, I’ll finish the second floor before the end of the day.

I hope it’s not buggy where you are.

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Filed under Arkansas, Challenges, Greenwood, Housekeeping - Maintenance

I’ve Earned my Salt Today

“To be ‘worth one’s salt’ is to be worth one’s pay. Our word salary derives from the Latin salarium, (sal is the Latin word for salt). There is some debate over the origin of the word salarium, but most scholars accept that it was the money allowed to Roman soldiers for the purchase of salt. Roman soldiers weren’t actually paid in salt, as some suggest. They were obliged to buy their own food, weapons etc. and had the cost of these deducted from their wages in advance.”

I learned this phrase from my parents and just now realized I had no idea where the phrase came from or if I were using it correctly. (My parents meant “earning your food and upkeep.”)

I’ve been working most of the afternoon – inside – because it’s way too hot to be working outside at least until it’s almost dark.

amazing-creature.blogspot.com

The main thing I accomplished today was cleaning the floors on our first floor. I vacuumed the tiles and then mopped. (Pantry, kitchen, dining area, entryway to living room, two half-baths, and the utility room.)

I then vacuumed the carpeted flooring (office, foyer, and living room.)

We’re much better than we were, though it’s never all clean at the same time. I feel much better about things, though, and that’s good for the day.

I’m feeling as limp as the sweet puppy above, so I think I’ll get a bottle of water and go put my feet up awhile.

I hope you’ve had a good day, too.

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob

The Insanity Continues

coolanimalspics.blogspot.com

Yesterday we had a pop-up shower in the afternoon. Apparently, this energized my husband because the rest of the afternoon into the evening was filled with outside work.

  • He announced that he had unplugged the hummingbird bird bath we made, saying it wasn’t working; no hummingbirds – or ANY birds – used it; and that it was making a mess on the deck. The fact that all of these things were true didn’t help with the disappointment when starting to dismantle it. I took the decorative stuff, bricks and rocks out of it, then unplugged the hose that attached to it. My husband then helped me dismantle the whole thing, saving what was reusable and putting the rest of the stuff into the burn barrel. He started the fire that got rid of the rest of the bird bath parts. Meanwhile, I decided to leave the ‘table’ we made for the bird bath and will put a large, low, round planter with saucer on it. I got a bag of potting soil from our stash and wheelbarrowed it over to the steps of the deck. I heaved the bag out onto a step and was bringing the wheelbarrow back to its place when I saw my husband looking into the trees on one side of our property. (I should have known.)  I continued the bird bath project, intending to trade out the good hose that went to the bird bath for the ratty one that hangs on the bricks beside the nook planter. I wasn’t making any progress, so I went to ask for my husband’s help.
  • He was standing with the chain saw in his hand, wanting ME to come help HIM. There was a tall, dead tree he had decided should come down. I pointed out that the tree would fall on the electric wires that run to the shop. He was unimpressed and undeterred. He was trying to cut a wedge in the tree, but the chainsaw blades seemed to be dull. We spent the next half hour or so changing out the blade and the blade holder in the hot shop. Then we went back out. When the wedge had been cut, I got on the back side of the tree and prepared to push. This came quickly, with the tree coming right down on the wires, but thankfully bouncing off without taking them down.

How is it that the person you love most in the world is also the person you consider killing from time to time?

I was hostile, but he was standing there, looking SMUG, saying, “I told you it wouldn’t be a problem.” This was only the beginning, since we needed to cut the whole tree up and drag it to our growing wood pile that we’ll burn ‘sometime when it’s safer.’ It took us another two hours for my husband to chain saw the tree into pieces and me to drag all the pieces and heave them onto the pile.

We limped back to the house, shed our yucky clothes directly into the washing machine and took showers. It took me a bottle of water, shower, and resting for about an hour before I felt human again.

Needless to say, the bird bath project remains unfinished. I do have plans to use some of the decorative stuff I took out of the bird bath in the aquarium next cleaning. I’ll enlist my husband’s help when we get back from the Breakfast Bunch to help me with the hose and the potting soil for the planter. I hope to plant some pretty flowers in it today.

And GUESS WHAT! – we have MORE rain in the forecast for this afternoon and evening…

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Are Fish ‘Affectionate?’

I’ve been told that goldfish are ‘dirtier’ than most aquarium fish and take  a lot more care in keeping their bowl or aquarium clean. I’ll have to agree that it seems I need to completely change the water every week or so, even with a good filter with a cartridge I change twice as often as the box suggests.

My husband keeps suggesting that the fish are too much work, that they don’t ‘love’ us, aren’t affectionate, don’t do tricks or anything – just make more work for us. I just look at him when he starts this. He finally shrugs and gives up. I’M the one who is doing the work, after all.

My fish don’t have names. To be honest I can’t tell the three more regular goldfish apart. I have a white one with a gold spot who could have a name, but I don’t want to treat that one any differently than the others.

I don’t know if my fishies are ‘affectionate,’ or not. The only thing they do that melts my heart is that when I come up to the glass to feed them twice a day, they see me, bunch up in the top right corner of the aquarium and wriggle their little bodies as fast as they can go, mouths opening and closing.  I don’t really know why I find that ‘sweet,’  but I do.

 

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Filed under Amazing Animals, Family, Housekeeping - Maintenance

It’s Official

household-tips.thefuntimesguide.com

We now have clean, repaired gutters with screen covers, plus no more huge dead tree limbs hanging down over the driveway, ready to fall on us as we pass!

Yesterday Ryan Edwards and his partner from Edwards Gutter Cleaning, 479-462-2663, spent 4 hours in 97 degree (heat index 108) heat, getting us fixed up. I provided bottles of cold water and a bathroom, and they handled everything else. Surprisingly, we actually HAD screens in part of the guttering! He repaired one end of the guttering in the back, where it was drooping at the wrong angle, replaced some of the screens that weren’t tight, cleaning everything out and making sure all was working well. They took a ‘break’ at one point, cutting down the dead branches from the mimosa tree at the bottom of the driveway, then came back up to continue work on the gutters. They found almost nothing in the guttering that is the closest to the few large trees we have around the house. Mostly they found tiny gravel from the shingles.

We had agreed on a price for the guttering and branch removal, but he cut the price due to the fact we already had screens in part of the gutters!

When he finished, I told him and his partner how much I appreciated them. I stressed that I was pleased that he did what he said he would do. He called to keep me informed of when he would be here. When he was delayed, he called to tell me that. He treated us like real people who might have a life and plans that didn’t include waiting around for service. He did a beautiful job, leaving everything clean. I told him that I had already written about him on my blog and that I would do so again. He was really happy about that. :0)

Ryan Edwards is an honest, hard-working man you can depend on. He doesn’t try to gouge you on prices. He doesn’t pressure you. He listens carefully when you’re explaining what you would like estimates for, and gives them straightforwardly. He doesn’t try to sell you anything you don’t want. He takes pride in a job well done. I recommend him highly and will call him whenever I have outside handyman type work. I hit the jackpot on great companies!

 

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Filed under Great Companies Who Deserve Your Business, Housekeeping - Maintenance

Hard-Working Guys

deckerhomerepairs.com

The gutter cleaning guys called and said they were delayed, and that they would be here around 2 pm. They got here as promised, and started work.  I received an estimate from the owner for cutting the broken branch off the mimosa tree at the bottom of the driveway, so they’re going to do that, too.

I showed them the garage fridge which has bottles of cold water, as well as where a bathroom was before they started. I just went to check on them, because it is SUPER hot out there. They seem to be doing fine. They were at the back of the house, trying to realign and support the end of the gutter run that is drooping. They’re cleaning the gutters, too.

One surprise – on the front of the house, one end of the house already has ‘screens’ on the guttering! They’ve been up there some 30 years or so, and WE haven’t had any interest in climbing up a two-story ladder to check things if we aren’t having problems, so I was really surprised. So was my husband!

I don’t know if they’ll change the estimate because of part of the guttering already having screens or not, but I’m inclined to pay them the full amount. The heat index is 108 this afternoon. I made sure they had cold water. They’re taking breaks every once in a while, sitting in the car a/c. I still feel bad it’s SOOO hot while they’re trying to work for us.

jaxstorm.realverse.us

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This Never Happens

MommyGoneViral-www.pinterest.com

We were scheduled to have our gutters cleaned out, one part repaired, and then gutter covers installed – plus an estimate to cut down a tree branch that broke during the last storm – this afternoon at 4 pm. I had told the man that we need to leave at 7:30 this evening, and he said if they didn’t finish, they would be back tomorrow.

Then the phone rang this morning. I thought, “Oh, great. They aren’t coming.”

To my surprise, he asked if it was ‘okay’ if they come at 12:45 this afternoon since they were running ahead of schedule. I GRACIOUSLY said, “That would be GREAT!” and then did a happy dance after I hung up. :0)

So far, I’m really impressed with this guy. His name is Ryan and his company is Edwards Gutter Cleaning.  479-462-2663. He does all kinds of outside handyman work. I found him through HomeAdvisor.com.

He has called when he said he would; called to give me updates or to check on things; came and checked what we needed carefully, and will now come sooner than scheduled. This never happens, but it’s such a beautiful thing when our luck with contractors is less than stellar.

Now if his work is good, I will put his card in my ‘dependable people’ file and call him first for outside handyman type jobs in the future.

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Filed under Delightful Surprises, Housekeeping - Maintenance

Lunacy

workingtruckworld.com

Recently I told you that we found a wonderful guy who is coming tomorrow afternoon to clean out our gutters, install covers, PLUS give us an estimate for taking down parts of two trees. He’ll have his chainsaw in the back of his vehicle so he can do the tree work while he’s here if we like the estimate.

Yesterday I was sitting in my comfortable chair in the living room reading when I heard a strange sound in the back yard. I looked out to see our truck backed up toward the evergreen tree that has a huge dead place in the middle of it due to the power company clearing things for their lines, cutting stuff down in a really careless way.  My husband was up on a ladder, precariously balanced on the slope that runs down to the actual tree trunk, trying to tie a nylon rope to the dead part of the tree.

I screeched silently, grabbed my sweatband and sunglasses and ran out to the truck. I held onto the ladder while my husband got the line tied. The other end of the line was on the trailer hitch on the back of the truck. Amber was in the back of the truck, looking delighted.

We tried the technique several times before we finally pulled the largest dead branch off the tree. We untied it and rolled the whole branch into the easement behind the evergreen, across from the greenhouse and the ham radio tower. We were then able to use another tool to grab another large piece of dead stuff and pull it down.  We couldn’t get all of the dead stuff, but it looks a lot better than it did.  We’re all still alive and no one was hurt.

We still have the mimosa at the bottom of the driveway that suffered a broken branch. It’s hanging down halfway onto the driveway. I’m picturing the two of us tackling THAT, too, today, ahead of the handyman coming tomorrow.  To do this, my husband will have to stand in the back of the truck and try to use the chain saw on the branch. I’ll be in the truck – positioning it as closely as possible – and then dragging the branches across the road as they’re cut and tossing them down into the ravine on the other side of the road from us.

I’m thinking that this is a pride thing, where it’s better to kill ourselves than have to admit to someone else we’re too old to do it…

Please wish us luck.

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Filed under Challenges, Changes, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Lewis projects

Amber’s Pool is Clean-ER

Our yellow lab ‘puppy’ is now is almost 16 months old. She weighs 92 pounds (officially on the vet’s scales) and to say that she loves water is the understatement of all time.

I try to clean her pool every 3 days or so, and I have to say, it’s a big job. When it’s half full, as it is in this picture, neither my husband nor I can lift the edge to try to empty it. We tried it together, with both of us on one side, and still can’t do it.

What we’ve finally come up with is to push down on one side, in effect, crumpling the plastic, pushing down hard as the water flows out. Then I take the car broom (long handled and really soft brush) and scrub it out with the rest of the old water. Then I crumple the side some more, getting as much water out as possible. THEN I’m barely able to lift one side as the rest of the water goes out.

When empty, it’s a simple thing of using a cleaner spray, scrubbing with the broom again, and then lots of rinsing. When the pool is clean, we put the hose on full blast with the thingie on the end that keeps the water flowing whether you’re holding it or not and put it in the pool with two bricks on top. When the pool is about half full, the job is done.

Today my husband wanted to help and insisted we bring Amber. He immediately figured out that wearing his socks and sandals wasn’t the best for dealing with LOTS of water, so he stood back.

Amber took my messing with her pool to mean it was play time and she kept trying to get into the pool with the yucky water. As I got the water out, it of course forms mud all around the pool, since the place my husband wants the pool now is in the shade and out of the way of the mower. Amber thought it was great fun to play in the mud – laying down in it at several points, and then trying again to get into the pool.

I finally got the pool half full. My husband got Amber to sit and I hosed her off – with her trying to bite the spray from the hose.

She jumped into the pool as we hung the hose back up on the end of the house, probably putting a bunch of mud into the freshly cleaned pool. I just ignored it, not wanting to see the damage so soon.

At least the water in the pool is clean-ER and cool now. I won’t cringe – at least for awhile, when Amber drinks it as she walks around the inside of the pool before plopping down in it.

  • Addendum – just now she barked at the garage door wanting to come in. I got her toweled off enough finally that I could let her in. She headed straight for the big dog bed in the living room for a well-earned nap.

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Gutter Covers – The Estimate Game

Trying to get estimates for things you need done is not for sissies. I’ve never liked situations where you ‘bargain’ for things, and I’m not very good at fielding estimates, either.

We wanted gutter covers, thinking that this is a good idea as we’re too long in the tooth to be climbing up two-story ladders and trying to do anything these days. We don’t have much guttering, but I would like to take care of what we have the best way we can.

I went to HomeAdvisor.com and filled out a form about gutter cover estimates. Within a few minutes two of three people accessed had called me and arranged to come to the house to give us estimates. I now know, due to the estimates, that we have approximately 68 feet of guttering. It’s along the 2nd floor in the front, and part of the first floor in the back. We only put up the minimum, and it has worked well for us. In fact, when we doubled the size of our shop, we had them remove the guttering on the older part and have been happy with our decision.

The first estimate was $1020. Nice young guys. Good manners.

The second was $670, but no written estimate until I called him back, telling him we would do it, and it HAD to be done the next day.  To be honest, I was wary about this one.

My husband and I decided that each of these would cost more than we were willing to spend for this job. I started over today with estimates for just CLEANING the existing guttering and downspouts and adding a support to the end of the run at the back of the house.

This time there were apparently two available services, one of which said, “No available bookings” (whatever that means) beside their name.

Within 5 minutes the available company called me back. He was here to give us an estimate this afternoon. He said he also installs covers, so I asked him to give us an estimate on that, as well. He lists himself as a handyman, too, so that opens up a whole host of future activity with him if we’re happy.

He gave us an estimate for cleaning, repairing the one part of the guttering end on the back, AND the covers, of $300. SOLD!  He said he would call me back about whether they could do the job on Saturday or Monday. He called back in a couple of hours, and we’ve settled on Monday afternoon.

While he was here, I was griping that my husband and I are going to have to chain saw parts of two trees – an evergreen tree that the local power company savaged while they were making sure their lines were clear. They cut it off in a terrible fashion and we now have an unsightly and dangerous hunk of dead evergreen hanging from the top. A mimosa tree at the bottom of our driveway had one of its huge branches break off in the last big storm. It’s hanging at half mast, threatening to come down into the driveway, hopefully not on a vehicle under it at the time.

When the man called back about the guttering the way he promised, I asked him to give us a bid on cutting down the parts of both trees and hauling the debris away. He said he’ll put his chain saw in his truck Monday and he’ll give us an estimate then. If we like it, he’ll do it Monday while they’re here. If not, that’s fine.

I feel we’ve won the lottery on good sources and good people. I will continue to use HomeAdvisor.com for the odd jobs we need, and I will get and keep the handyman’s card in my ‘wonderful people’ file and we’ll probably give him several more jobs in the near future.

We came out pretty well for someone who doesn’t know anything about dealing with estimates…

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Shock and Awe

We have a Dyson Animal Vacuum Cleaner. Mine doesn’t have as much purple as the one in this picture, but it’s a wonderful vacuum. I’ve told you that I’m a slob – and that a sparkling clean, perfectly ordered home is not high on my list of priorities.

Lately, though, since we have two dogs and two cats, all of whom seem to be shedding hair as a main priority of their days – as well as 4 goldfish who thankfully DON’T shed, I’ve been vacuuming at least every 3 days, if not more, trying to keep up.

I started the vacuum today and my husband said, “Why are you vacuuming? You just finished.” I explained to him that it was the day before yesterday when I vacuumed the first floor. He shrugged, saying, “I don’t think it needs it.”

When I finished, having vacuumed the carpet in the office, foyer and living room, and the tile in the dining area, kitchen, pantry, utility room and two half-baths, I emptied the canister and brought the trashcan to my husband. He looked down and said, “UGH! Where did all that come from?” His face told the story. He looked a combination of shocked/disgusted/impressed, with an “euwwww!” set to his lips.

I kindly took the trash can away remarking that it was amazing how much the vacuum got up when “you didn’t think it needs it.”

I’m just really glad we have a great vacuum cleaner. I just wish that it were a bit less graphic about what was on our floors before I started….

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Gutter Covers?

LeafFilter Guard

The first of two people coming to give us estimates for covering our gutters is coming today.

As I’ve told you before, we have a two-story home. The guttering, of course, is along the edges of the 2nd floor roof. (Imagine that! :0) )  We are definitely too long in the tooth to be cleaning out the guttering – balancing on the two-story ladder, cleaning out the gutter, and then climbing down, moving the ladder a couple of feet over, then climbing up again….

We’ve seen the ads for the nice gutter covers on TV. I went to their website and they said their service wasn’t available in my area yet. I was disappointed, but decided that we could just continue to ignore our gutters.

Suddenly, two people called to talk about gutter covers! I found out later than they had been referred to us by HomeAdvisor.com. I didn’t remember going there, but I must have in my quest to find someone in our area.

Our information was given to three companies, two of which called and made appointments to come out and give us an estimate. The first one is coming this morning and the second is coming tomorrow afternoon. The second one asked me for an estimate of the number of feet of guttering we had. After I finished laughing, I told him I didn’t have a clue.

I’ll make sure I have an apples-to-apples comparison of the cost of this, including cleaning out the gutters, sealing the gutters (whatever that means – but it was in the ad on TV), warranty information (the ad said, “Lifetime warranty.” OUR life? The installer’s life? The gutter covers life? What does that MEAN?), clean up of all debris, cost of the project, and when they could do it.

I’m afraid, since I would really like to do this, we can’t afford it.

As my husband says, “Soon we will know.”

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Estimates

We saw some commercials about LeafGuard gutter covers and decided to check it out.

We live in a two-story home. We don’t have many gutters, but the ones we have are important. My husband and I agree that we’re too old to get up on a two-story ladder and try to clean our gutters out, and we’ve never even gotten estimates on getting our cleaned out.

I filled out an online form on the LeafGuard Website, got all finished and hit “Get a free estimate” and then a pop-up said “There is no service available in your area.” Shoot!

I messed around, looking for other avenues and all of a sudden the phone rang. It was a guy from North Little Rock asking me about coming for an estimate for gutter covers! That’s a little scary! I talked to him and he’s scheduled to come Monday morning. I found out that he found ME through HomeAdvisor.com – a place I’d gone a week or so ago to see if there was anyone in our area who could help us. I got another call from a second company about an hour ago. He’s scheduled to come Tuesday after 3pm. There is a third place that was listed on the HomeAdvisor site, so we may get another call today.

We’ll see what happens. It will be interesting to see if they all agree as to the state of our current guttering, whether they try to sell us more, how many feet of guttering they say we have, whether they charge or not for cleaning out the gutters before they would install the covers, what the warranty is, what they would charge, etc.

When we have the written estimates in hand, we’ll go back online to see the reviews, get Better Business Bureau ratings, etc.

This sounds like such a good thing to do that we probably can’t afford it, but it’s good to dream…

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Happy Fish

My goldfish seem happier with the new filter. Even though the filter itself is smaller, the design of the pump with a tube basically sucking the water through the pump seems to be working well.

 

The fish didn’t actually SAY anything, but they’re swimming around with great enthusiasm. Can fish smile?

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Ammo and Clothes Washer Pump

We order lots of things online, but we don’t usually get such an interesting combination in one delivery. Today the Fedex guy delivered 9mm ammunition and a replacement pump for our clothes washer.  Amber greeted him in the driveway having just gotten out of her pool. She jumped into the truck with him, making him laugh, even though she was dripping copiously.

We got a really good deal on 1000 rounds of 9mm ammo.

 

We didn’t get a great deal on the replacement clothes washer pump, but we needed it. Our washer has been sending us terse messages for the past couple of weeks saying it was unhappy. We got an “F02” which meant we should check the drain hose to see if were kinked or clogged, and a “SUD” which indicated that there were still suds in the rinse water.

We made sure the hose was fine. I figured out how to go ahead and use the washer, bypassing the error messages until the new pump arrived. It was delivered this morning, so when we got home from Lunch Bunch, we tackled replacing the pump. My husband found a video online that showed him at least the idea of what was required and how to attack it. In half an hour, he had the old pump off and the new pump on.

The old pump had a long screw and a penny in there which my husband thinks caused the clog to form. We don’t know when that happened, but the washer and dryer combo are 13 years old. We really don’t know how the washer was able to function at ALL with as much ‘stuff’ as it had in it. The washer is running happily now, free of clogs. It’s GOOD to have a husband who is good at diagnosing and fixing things.

Now I won’t have to shoot him with my new ammo! :0)

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Romaine Harvest and Yard Work

All of my romaine lettuce plants are bolting in the heat. That means that the plants which used to be fat and lush, suddenly shoot up into the air, looking like miniature trees. I tasted some of the leaves on the ‘trees’ and they tasted fine, so I cut off all the bolting parts of the plants, harvested the leaves and brought them in.

I couldn’t know less about what I’m doing, but the rest of each plant still looked pretty good, so I’m hoping there are good leaves to harvest later. Time will tell.

I brought in a big basket of the best leaves, dumped them into the sink so I could get them clean, and then stored them in gallon bags and put them in the fridge. We’ll have some in our salad with dinner this evening.

The sun is so hot I was really shot when I brought the leaves in. I let them soak in the sink while I rested and gulped water. I cooled off and then washed and stored the leaves, then rested again!

I just came in from scrubbing and refilling Amber’s pool. I use my husband’s car washing broom. It works just fine to clean without hurting the plastic of the pool. I loosen everything, drain about half the water out, then use the broom again, then dump the rest of the water out. Then I spray the pool out and leave the hose in the pool, held down by two bricks, to fill it.

When it was about half full, Amber came bounding around the house, looked at me, and then jumped right into the pool. She walked around, drank some of the water, then laid down full length in the water. I could almost hear her say, “Ahhhh!” as she gave me a very satisfied look. She got out, shook water all over me, then started barking at the hose. When I laughed, she jumped into the pool again and luxuriated some more. I finally finished filling the pool and put everything away. Amber is snoring on her bed in the living room now.

At dusk, my husband and I will do our first pass at cutting back the greenery on the sides of the driveway. I’ll put our battery-powered weed eater in the back and my sunglasses that wrap around, and my gloves, so that when we get to the bottom, we can do some weed whacking and pruning. Then we’ll go slowly up the other side of the driveway, cutting things back as we go, and we’ll be finished for the day. Our driveway is long and steep – about 650 feet, so this will take several passes to get it the way it should be.

I hope that you’ve had a wonderful day, too.

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Filed under Arkansas, Greenwood, holidays, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Weekend of Playing in the Dirt

stayathomeeducator.com via sites.psu.edu

 

This weekend we’ll be in and out, trying to get as much accomplished in the yard as we can – while living to tell the tale.

The weather looks like typical July or August for us – lots of bright sun, 90’s – 100+ temperatures and little, if any, chance of rain. The problem is that it’s only May!  We have doors and windows open most of the morning and then have to close up to run a/c for the afternoon and early evening, opening up again when if/when possible.

  • The bright sunshine after rain last week is causing our grass to grow as we watch, so mowing and weed-whacking will be one thing we need to do this weekend.
  • I need to scrub out and refill Amber’s kiddie pool. She doesn’t ‘swim’ in it a whole lot, but she rarely goes out during the day without running through it, drinking a bit of it, and maybe lying down in it enough to cool herself off a bit. (She is 14 months old now and weighs 93 lbs. To say it’s a ‘challenge’ for us to keep up with her is a laughable understatement. :0)
  • The rain and sunshine are causing the trees – and other ‘stuff’ on both sides of our long, steep driveway – to attempt to grow together, blocking anyone from coming up or going down. I’ll drive the truck slowly up and down the driveway – my husband with loppers and a ladder in the back – cutting things back. We’ll need to do this several times before it will be reasonable again. We also need to cut down things at the bottom of the driveway. Our robot is almost surrounded by greenery!
  • My raised bed square foot garden needs a lot of work. Yesterday we got some lettucy-type plants, broccoli ‘stir-fry’ plants, and some cantaloupe plants at the co-op. I got them planted, but need to harvest, prune, pull-up, and otherwise get the garden under better control. My bolted lettuce plants need to be pulled, chopped up, and added to our compost barrel.

And the list goes on. We’ll do as much as we can – resting between sessions and drinking boatloads of water.  Assuming we can do most of this by the end of the weekend, we’ll go to our local nursery next week to find some flowers for the deck and yard.

Happy Memorial Day weekend!

 

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Filed under Gardening, holidays, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Square Foot Gardening - Raised Beds

Joke on Us

gettyimages.ae

I started mowing the lawn yesterday, in a rush because we were going to have thunderstorms in the afternoon. My husband came out and took over when I had finished about half of the yard. I drank some water and then went out to run the leaf blower to clean up the front porch, sidewalks front and back and the garage pad of all the grass and dirt.

We both came in breathing pretty heavily and drank water again and rested.

Can you hear Mother Nature giggling? She has a cruel sense of humor sometimes. I think she loves seeing us rush around and then NOT send the rain…

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Filed under Funny Signs - Humor, Housekeeping - Maintenance, Mother Nature

Latest Decluttering Project

I’m going through the last group of books I brought into the office from the entertainment center in the living room. I’m listing some of them for sale on Amazon and bagging up the rest for a donation to our local library tomorrow to be sold at their next fundraiser.

It has taken most of 2 days to go through the shelves, bring the books in here, sort them, and then clean the living room.

 

I made my husband stop what he was doing and come in and look at the CLEAN and much better organized living room.

 

I’ve promised myself that I’m NOT going to take 30 years to declutter what it has taken us a bit over 30 years to accumulate!

 

As I finish each phase of this once-in-30-years declutter/give away, throw away/reorganize/cleaning long-term project I feel freer. We have been weighed down by too much ‘stuff’ for far too long. Since neither my husband nor I are great housekeepers or throw-awayers, things had gotten well out of hand when I started this in January.

Thus far we’ve made 7 trips with donations to the Disabled Veterans Thrift Store in Fort Smith, and tomorrow we should be able to make our 3rd trip to the local library to donate books. We definitely have a good start now, and I’ll continue tackling one area at a time, making pass after pass until it feels really good.

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Filed under Acting Like a Grownup, Housekeeping - Maintenance, I'm a slob, Organizing/DeCluttering

A Little Progress

BuzzFeed

I’ve told you I’m a lousy housekeeper, and that almost anything takes priority in my day. Yesterday and today, though, I was determined to get our screened back porch cleaned up after the long winter, lots of wind and rain, and even more dust and pollen. When I took Amber’s kiddie pool off the porch, I was choking from all the ‘stuff’ I stirred up!

Yesterday I cleaned off the table, then cleaned each thing on the floor as I piled it on the table. I then swept. I dragged the garden hose onto the porch and hosed everything down, then scrubbed the floor.

Mohkam_Mopping-commons.wikimedia.org

Today I swept again, and then used a mop and combination cleaner and shine stuff to finish the floor. The porch actually looks pretty good right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look quickly!  The wind is blowing and we have a chance for rain tonight, so this won’t last.  I’m planning for us to enjoy our lunch there today.

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