Rocks, cars, year-end brain dump

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I actually feel on the verge of feeling crappy. I know that sounds sort of vague and mysterious, but I have felt “off” since last night with a stomach ache that is not going away yet not getting worse. Bad food was my first choice, because M and I ate a quick fast-food-like dinner last night (Noodles and Company) while out doing a zoom-zoom-zoom through landscape places. Landscape designer (and M’s best friend) REALLY wants us to consider at least a tree in the front yard, despite M telling him repeatedly that he’s doubtful I will go for such an idea (yep, still resisting it). However, when M brought it up, I did thaw ever so slightly on the idea and suggested maybe the lace leaf maple M is so fond of? Except (1) it will likely die because of our black thumbs and general negligence, and (2) lace leaf maples would not occur naturally in the simulated granite forest we are created. My good natured “So? Who the f–k cares? This is our rendition completely not based in reality,” was agreeable to M, but he/we are sensitive to our friend’s talent and business. We don’t want to be THAT friend and client.

So we went to the landscape superstore to examine tree possibilities. Hated all of them. No way do I want something in my yard that has to be groomed to look like cake pops or columnar swirls – as if either of those things occurred naturally in the wild. In the end I caved and agreed on some pretty ground cover that occurs naturally in our mountains and will not spread and overtake the entire front space, grow too tall and need to be trimmed every 3 weeks, and not require sprinklers or drip system to keep alive. We shall see what landscape bestie says on Monday.

Anyway, something is not agreeable with my virtually cast-iron stomach. Mildly nauseated, low energy, sort of yuck. But I thought the gym might make me feel better, and for the most part it did. I say it that way because for as empty as it was, every single machine was occupied and no fluffy cuffies were deployed. Frustrating, and I was not in the mood to negotiate or wait them out. So abandoned the rest of my lower body List and finished up with my dumbbell matrix. Now just feeling general malaise and like I’m trying to become ill. Yuck. So not the way I want to end 2016 or start 2017.

Yesterday, the rocks in my head became the rocks in my yard.


12/30/2016 – We have rocks! Granite boulders delivered and placed.

Yep the granite boulders were delivered. Took them 2 hours to place them just-so, as the rock place owner is an artist and has an artist’s temperament with rock placement. Still, the yard is truly starting to take shape.



12/30/2016 – Retaining wall. One more row of stones and capstone to add.

Monday the rest of the retaining wall stones will be delivered, and M and I are going to a couple of landscape places to check out their decomposed granite and such today. I know, I know – such an enthralling life I am leading today. Honestly, I don’t much care if the decomposed granite is light gray or reddish gray, but M wants what he wants (lightest gray possible) and would like to know in advance so as to adjust his expectations.

I will mostly be happy when the dirt is no longer being tracked everywhere the way it is right this minute.

But after 2 years of waiting, our front yard will finally look like we have done something to make it attractive. I am delighted with the way things are progressing, and even if I do relent and we get the tree, I will insist upon nice decorative rock at its base. Our expensive tastes already have it selected for this application if it comes to that, because it will be a small enough area to justify the cost.

I was putting fuel into my car this morning and contemplating the filthbomb it inside right now when a brand new version pulled up on the other side of the pump. I drive a 2013 Rav4, and after 3+ years it has just over 30K on the odometer. This is essentially less than 10K mile per year, and M and I have tentatively agreed that we keep it at least another 3 or 4 years before deciding whether or not to upgrade or get something else.

Temptation is everywhere, though, and while admiring it’s 2017 twin, I was idly thinking maybe we should advance our timetable, upgrade sooner. This is the terrible accountant in me coming to the surface, because my car is practically brand new, extremely reliable, and the present level of filth bomb interior will be restored to its usual clean and tidy state with a vacuum (yard dirt is everywhere even though Rav lives in the garage) and a dust rag. M’s car is approaching 200K on the odometer and is our primary go vehicle, so our dollars are better spent ensuring it continues to enjoy its present level of robust good order. I don’t know what it is about a brand new car; perhaps I am influenced by the new car smell? A good interior scrub, having M hand wash and detail the exterior and I’ll be over the moon again abut my car. But for a few moments I was dreaming of bright and shiny objects I do not really want. I am far more comforted by the replacement car cash building and driving our paid-for vehicles.

And in all fairness, I’m not 100% sure I want another SUV when the time comes. M will always have an AWD/4WD SUV because of his hobbies and places he goes. Me, my next car could be a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle. Or a Rav with a bigger, more powerful engine. Things may change with environmental regulations under the Trump administration, so probably best to wait and see what happens with cars on our present planned trajectory.

M and I have been discussing our plans and projects for 2017, and this may be the year when we do not have a big home improvement. The deck last spring and the front landscaping now pretty much leave us wanting to let things settle a bit before we decide on what to do next. This year was so busy, hectic, crazy with both kids getting married and then C moving to Florida, so we may need to revisit our plans and priorities for the new year. Definitely we will want to go to Florida to visit C and A, but when is in question right now. Summer does not appeal to me in the slightest, G and K would also like to go, but they have a destination wedding in Mexico in March, so it does seem more prudent to let some time pas and savings build for them to join us. I like the idea of October, but M kind of wants to go to Portland and visit our friends up north and support them in an ultra race. He may also go to Colorado to support his bestie at Leadville, and while he would love for me to go as well, I’m not that excited about the idea. The primary reason I like the Portland event is that a lot of our runner friends up in that group have non-running spouses that I genuinely enjoy hanging with. We shall see.

Work continues to be an evolving adventure. While a bunch of my tiny self-employment clients have found other accountants to help them, I did pick up 2 new regular clients that I could not turn away. When one of my existing long-term private clients refers someone to me I always say yes, no matter what. I doubt I will regret these addition, although I feel mildly intimidated by the volume of catch-up that must be done and the challenges of working and educating them to avoid such mishaps into the future.

Sometimes it seems the biggest disconnect that M and I suffer is the fact that he is essentially retired and I feel as if I am only just now cresting my peak working years. While I have zero resentment about being the breadwinner in our relationship, he feels some hesitation to pursue his hobbies and interests when larger cash outlaws are involved. I’m grateful for our baseline communication, where we can talk about things honestly and openly and figure out whether or not we can make things happen. That he might travel without me is of no consequence; if I really wanted to go I would make it happen. Fact is I truly love the work I do and it satisfying the little slave-driver within that keeps pushing to do more, more more, as well as the organizer who wants to find balance and manage the time I have available.

My hope for the new year that the quest for balance continues to evolve into a life that satisfies my needs as well as fulfills more of my wants. In 2016 I came face to face with the idea that success in personal development is not just a fluke or something that happens to the gifted and the blessed. Persistence, hard work, discipline have their place, and surprisingly, I am capable to stepping up when it matters. Perhaps I always have been capable, yet not quite ready to embrace and accept that it happens even when not gifted or blessed with any special talents.

The desire to learn and challenge myself in new ways sparks joy in unique and exciting ways, and pursuing the various tendrils of new and evolving interests is invigorating. Either commingling that with my jobs or finding time to prioritize my pursuit is part of what makes my life interesting. I am, at heart, a very simple soul.

I do love the beginning of a new year. If I view every month as a chapter in my personal book, I see a year as a volume in my book of life. I am always excited about new beginnings, fresh starts, resets. For me, 2016 was an absolutely amazing and wonderful year. The plan is to continue to build on that, and with the zeal of the born again, I plan to make it happen.

Happy new year, everyone! Please be safe tonight.


Blogging bonk

One of my close friends was teasing me on text that I must be having “brain bonk” because of the benign, almost vacuous replies I have been sending.

Perhaps it’s true. It seems I have had little to report or talk about recently, due to the low-energy, relatively drama-free life I am leading lately. Yesterday I was completely uninspired, mostly because of my overall sleep deprivation and doing boring domestic chores inside with the ongoing drizzle here. Today I continue to feel rather lackluster in the energy department, despite going to the gym and doing my minimalist Sunday workout. I console myself that I went and did a light workout, as is typical on Sundays, versus lying on the couch feeling listless and bored with my lack of enthusiasm and energy for the day. So I went to the gym out of a sense of obligation and am glad I did so, if only to step away from the negative girl territory. I felt pretty good about form and such and allowed zero guilt to creep in about not doing more. Progress.

I had a calendar mix-up last week and thought I was in the bay all day on Tuesday and had to reschedule with TM, only shortly after receiving his reply today I realized that I forgot to follow-up with a “never mind!” email because my bay area meeting is a week from Tuesday, not this week. TM has been away and just replied to my Thursday email offering to fit me in tomorrow instead. Rather than disrupt my regular gym appointment and training with J, he offered to make room for me at the end of his workday. Except none of that is now necessary, since I came to my senses and realized I was not double booked this week.

In his email reply he asked how things were going – no phone calls, no texts, no emails (other than my request to reschedule) in nearly 2 weeks. In truth I had not given it much though about the passage of time, and I just realized when he asked that I have no particular agenda of items that I want or need to discuss. Nothing new or in particular has freaked me out or set me off on some complete spin cycle. My days have become a pretty well-oiled machine of gym/exercise, work, meals/healthy eating, time to recreational read/talk to or hang out with friends, more work, writing/blogging, ensuring I get enough sleep. M and I have both been busy with various individual and joint projects here at home, so there is that tossed into the mix as well.

Essentially, nothing hugely dramatic or exciting going on right now, and I am perfectly okay with that.

With TM, I have anticipated this year’s self-improvement project would wind down sooner rather than later, because he assured me I already had the tools to achieved my self-improvement and confidence objectives. So maybe we are winding down? It’s something we will explore on Wednesday. Either that or some modern miracle has occurred and I have nothing left to talk about. I’m really happy every day I get up and go to the gym and get through my List without feeling anxious or edgy or anything other than focused on whether the muscle I am supposed to be working is actually doing what it’s supposed to be doing. I was thinking yesterday and again this morning that when I feel tired dragging my butt into the gym I start feeling more energized by the third set of the List I am working, which is strange and weird and could be my imagination going into overdrive. Work is work and proceeding well, despite the recent hiccups with staff issues.

It is odd to feel less guilty about doing things I planned or hoped to get done. Today M and I have been out shopping, on the hunt for a replacement hydration running pack. From the scratches and rub spots on his back from his older model, the need is real and the specificity and pickiness of finding The One is completely understandable. It was an adventure, going to parts of town we rarely have reason to venture into except in search of some mythical unicorn of a running vest. It’s not something we can just order over the internet and HOPE it works out for him. This is one of those things he needs to go shop for, try on, test and flex and see how it feels.

I have told you guys M runs A LOT. This is from his fancy-smancy GPS running watch:


M’s running mileage for the last 30 days.

In the last 30 days – consecutive days – M has run 501.25 miles in 122:29 hours (and people have the nerve to suggest I might be overtraining). But this is why the hunt for the hydration pack is on right now. Unfortunately it’s also one of those things he wants/needs me to tag along with and see what I think. I don’t run so I have no idea what I’m looking at, but I nod, smile, test cramming phones into pockets with him.

At my insistence we brought home 2 different packs today. The thing I love about REI – you can return anything up to a year from the date of purchase. He’ll test both on short runs this week and hopefully one of them will be adequate, because there is no perfect hydration pack on the market. Trust me on this – I have looked at a lot of them in the last couple of days and the vast majority have been rejected for various reasons. Fingers and toes crossed for at least 1 of the 2 we brought home today.

And I myself have a new, upgraded, even more judgmental heart rate monitor. It was a gift, and I am trying very hard to make friends and get along with it. It does all sorts of things I have not yet bothered to figure out, but mostly I like that it works as a watch with nice big numbers that allows me to see the time.

So while bulk cooking did not get done due to the late start this morning with getting out of the house for the gym (me) and run (M) and the extended hydration vest search, the house is clean, laundry is done, and food was purchased. Plus I have new books on my kindle to read … about cooking, of all things. Yep, I’m skimming through kindle unlimited cookbooks in hopes of being inspired to try new dishes.

I did try a couple of different vegan protein powders this weekend, both of which were not to my taste. A recurring feature of these is the taste and texture of grass clippings or sawdust; these are not smooth mixtures no matter how long I blended them. Maybe if I could find or figure out a green smoothie recipe I would tolerate they would be more useful, but for now I’ll stick with my standard Syntha 6 for protein powder. I don’t consume a lot of it, but when I do I have no problem drinking it down.

The new deck looks beautiful, and of course it was raining much of the weekend and unavailable for real enjoyment, other than tripping and falling over the number 3 fluff bucket. They are ranked by age, because we do not play favorites, and Pesto, number 3, is the kitten in the bunch.

But it’s been a good weekend, even if I have little news to report or any new, navel-gazing wonderings to share and purge from my mind. Other than feeling tired, which I can trace directly to not enough sleep on Friday night, I feel almost bored with myself this weekend.

I think I have spring fever and am frustrated with the desperately needed rain.

Servant of the calendar, slave to the clock

Our contractor started work on rebuilding the decks at our home this week. And as these things usually go for us, what was projected to be a week or 8 days is now realistically more like 2 to 3 weeks worth of work. Longer if he paints the entire house after finishing the decks. We had been planning to have the exterior repainted in the fall, but it is now looking more like during and after the deck rebuild. Once the first deck top was removed, there was some damage underneath to the siding, which of course we had him repair, and while he was at it may as well do another spot along the back of the house. Today is demolition of the smaller deck off the master bedroom, so if there is something else that needs repair with the siding he can just do it all at once. The new pieces will need to be painted, so we may as well do the entire back of the house, since we will also need to paint the new visual barrier that is being installed along with the deck. Since we are doing the back of the house, may as well start planning to do the rest of the house as well.

These home improvement projects seem to simply take on life of their own and consume chunks of mine in the process.

The financial impacts of this are going to be more than M wanted to spend all in one hit, but I am philosophical about it. In the 4 years we have owned this home there has not been a single project that went according to the original estimate. Either there is something else wrong, we choose to add change orders to what we want, or both. And it’s nearly always both. Discoveries of other issues lead us to make different decisions about the timing of planned improvements or change our minds about what we wanted in the first place. Thankfully I always add at least 20% contingency onto the estimates and I have funds tucked away for future projects that can be utilized to absorb the cost present project work. My kitchen remodel may just have to wait another year, but that gives me more time to convince M that his ideas for a ginormous kitchen island are impractical.

Having our contractor here and M switching up his run schedule to coincide with my gym time is making me rethink my practice time as well, maybe get up even earlier and get to the gym earlier to ensure I have what my brain deems adequate time to complete an entire practice. Our guy does run on what I refer to as “contractor time,” meaning if they say they will be here at 7 they are almost always here by 7:30 unless they call to say they will be late for another reason. The day I am home late from the gym is the day he has arrived on time and is waiting for me to get home to unlock the gate. Because we have an in-ground pool, I am reluctant to leave our front gates unlocked for an extended period of time when no one is at home, even at 5 a.m. Which means I have to make sure I am home from the gym by the proposed start time each morning since M rarely gets back before 8:30.

So my week feels a little constrained by having him working at the house. I am beyond delighted at getting the decks done – it has been a year since the concrete was poured and a year without stairs from the decks to the pool deck. Going in and out of the backyard through the garage was tedious after the first month, but it took awhile to convince M that he alone could not rebuild the deck and then awhile longer waiting for room on our contractor’s calendar. We likely could have had someone do the work much sooner, but we really like and trust our guy and were mostly fine with waiting.

As I march onward to older age, I feel more and more regimented about my time and schedule and things I do throughout the day. Out of the ordinary for more than a day or 2 has a weird domino effect. The pressure I put upon myself to be home by contractor’s arrival time tends to make me feel anxious at the gym and impacts my focus during practice. Being impacted during practice makes me wonder if I am working hard enough, which in turns leaves me vulnerable to the negative voices in my head getting louder until I feel somewhat deflated and worried about losing my resolve. While intellectually I recognize I am stronger and capable of overcoming that, the soft underbelly of my emotions has not quite caught up to my less crazy brain.

It is part of why I was a little distressed by the idea of less supervision and not seeing RD for several weeks. The accountability of knowing we would had an appointment and would have to have a discussion tended to keep me honest. But it is actually more and less than that. I enjoy working with him, like the education and knowledge he shares with me, and can truly appreciate his patience and efforts in steering me in directions to make myself take better care and be more mindful of what I am eating and why.

I guess I dislike change and disruption in my coaching village. This is a natural evolution of that relationship, yet it was unexpected. I suppose the fact that I try pretty diligently to follow his directions and made good progress is worthy of celebration. It’s like having to specifically request to stay with my endocrinologist to manage my diabetes even though I am now in the well-controlled category and should be able to work with my primary care doc for this condition. Uh huh; got it, but I want what I want. But unless I choose to become more focused in my efforts toward weight/fat loss and determined muscle building, I do not need a registered dietician monitoring me and my progress toward healthier eating. Or at least not monitoring me as closely in these efforts. I am a normal person just trying to improve my overall health, and in the Kaiser protocol, I am successfully managing and no longer need this particular service. Despite commenter SAK’s reminder about dreams (nightmares?) of gold lame bikinis and spray on tans, I am pretty content where I am on this journey. Maybe after I have been well-controlled diabetic without drugs for another 6 months I will revisit those thoughts and ideas. But please, no one reading that hold your breath in anticipation; you will likely turn blue and expire before my pursuit of gold lame and spray tan comes to fruition.

Thinking this over while showering this morning (and scaring myself every so slightly with thoughts of the gate unlocked and side garage door open for the contractor to access tools left in the garage), I realize I am looking at this all wrong. As usual. *smile* Being a a little rigid about my habits and feeling big bereft at the peeling away of one of my security blankets is pretty normal, especially for me. If it takes 66 days of doing something to make it a habit, I require something more like 66 weeks, and even then I may question whether or not it has really taken root and embark on another block of time just to be sure. Lather, rinse, repeat as often as necessary, possibly forever. If they are good habits, repetition is not necessarily a bad thing. Boring to everyone else, maybe, but if this is what it takes to get me to that better health plateau and stay there, so be it.

Considering my unusual and really flexible professional work life, my rigidity and need for stricter levels of order and routine in my better health quest seem sort of surprising. The divide between personal life and professional life has always been a distinctive chasm, though. I have always enjoyed a level of success professionally that I never (before now) enjoyed personally. While I have rarely held big flashy corporate jobs or titles, I am bright enough, intuitive enough, and empathetic enough to fit in and thrive where I have been employed. And when those jobs and situations became stifling, boring, or hostile to me, I began the methodical process of finding something else. Working for a living has been one of life’s genuine necessities for me, and I have always hoped for and been employed by firms where I thrived and grew rather than just existed or survived for the paycheck.

Perhaps that’s why I hold my own village of professionals in such high esteem. RD, trainer J, mental health doc TM, my medical docs – they all profess genuine interest in my forward progress and improvements and it feels like flourishing partnerships designed to propel me forward. Finally, I seem to be ready to get better, to be consistent, to try harder. And for me they have done the most amazing things with motivation and teaching and just expanding the boundaries of my little world and opening up the possibilities of what else is out there for me. I recognize there have been others along the way – my past is littered with really good doctors, other dieticians, even a trainer or 2 that might have been more effective if I had been in my present frame of mind. But that was then, this is now, and my crazy brain is becoming healthier enough to shed any lingering vestiges of regret.

Even old friends and the new ones I am picking up here and elsewhere in my life, there is a different, renewed sense of energy and direction of our conversations. Food and cooking still holds little interest for me, but perhaps like the exercise it too may become something more fun in the undiscovered country of my future. But I can appreciate my friends who love to cook, love to experiment with food, love to talk about nutrition and taste nuances. Same thing with the exercise. Being married to M and watching his running hobby again blooming into its rather addictive habit, my own exercise pursuits have provided a much clearer understanding of what drives him. I seriously doubt I would ever find the joy he and other friends find running, particularly trail running, and am unlikely to develop more discipline toward it or even being out there in the wilderness for hiking on a routine, consistent basis. Same with friends who pursue weight lifting competitively, whether they are competing with others or merely with themselves. I have a tiny patch of skin in the fitness game myself now; it’s renewed my interest and desire to know more about what they are pursuing and why.

If only we all had more time, I think; it is a reflexive, almost automatic thought that flitters through my mind when I start thinking about all I need to do and want to do each day. Then I realize we all have the same 24 hours every single day and allocate them to our individual priorities. Coordinating the amount of time we have to share with one another … well, I guess I am grateful for the blog’s dual purpose of downloading my overloaded thoughts so you can read and get back to me in whatever forum you choose to utilize whenever your time allows. I am selfish enough, honest enough to state this blogging is for me, and pretty much all about me, but I can appreciate that it benefits others in ways I never imagined when I began.

And I am so glad and so grateful.

Year-end countdown

I feel as if I am on some sort of deathwatch, with the final days of 2015 upon us. While I have some grief and sadness in my life right now, it was actually a good year. M and I are living our lives and things are progressing in good ways, and majority of those nearest and dearest to me are happy, healthy, and planning amazing futures.

Lots of little things going on around here to report on today.

Today we met with the first deck guy and got our plan for the deck rebuilding 98% finalized. We’re going with a composite top and simple iron railing, although we did end up changing our mind (again) about the product we plan to use. The one we originally liked most was significantly more expensive when quoted for us to purchase, but the contractor’s quote will only be about 25% more, versus the 98% more it would have cost us just buying materials ourselves. As of right now we’re going with a simple iron railing, no top affixed to it, although he is quoting both bannisters on all 3 sets of stairs with a grippy topper. I was just worried that if (when?) I slip on those stairs that bony iron is going to be tricky. We also decided on enclosing beneath the deck with siding to match the house, and M will paint it in whatever color we decide the rest of the house is going to be when the time comes. It’s going to be expensive – I already know this  and am braced for it – but we plan to be here a very long time and will be enjoying this deck.

I am also mildly fretting about my year-end spending. For someone who worries about money for a living, I am absolutely blowing up my own budget in the last few days of the year. It was not overspending on Christmas or anything like that so much as hair goo (shampoo, conditioner, product) and getting my hair cut and colored. For some odd reason I did not budget well for this expense and am spending far more money than I had planned. It does not happen all that often, but when it does I go big.

The big fancy Reverie bed we purchased a couple of months ago is going back. M and I both love the bed itself – it is extremely comfortable and luxurious – but M hates the split mattress configuration we chose. I am less bothered by it, but he whines complains expresses dissatisfaction to a volume that I just called and asked if we could exchange or return it for a regular California King sleep system instead. We are within our no-questions-asked satisfaction period, and when I explained our issue to the customer service rep, he confirmed there would be no issue in exchanging the split top Cal King for a regular Cal King, but our 101 no-questions-asked returned policy would not be available for the new set-up. That’s fine; we love the sleep system, M just hates the divider crack between the beds and feels as if he is sleeping on a twin bed again. That exchange should happen sometime in the next 4 to 6 weeks.

K found The Dress yesterday and has ordered it in her size and color preference. It should arrive in about 6 months. The organized chaos of wedding planning continues over there. We had a very brief discussion about the rehearsal dinner, and the guest list for that is between 30 and 40 people. *faint!* M and I had planned to have it in a restaurant, but now we are reconsidering and thinking instead about a catered BBQ here at the house. We have the room and the backyard for it, especially with the new deck. I will start gathering sources for catering and equipment rentals.

Since they have had to keep their guest list small for the wedding and reception, I am toying with the idea of a second party on Saturday here at the house for all their other friends. With the pool and backyard, we have the facilities to accommodate a larger group, and September in northern California is prime swim party weather. As of right now they plan to meet their friends after the reception at a bar in town, but the after party would be starting around 10:30 and I’m just not sure how well attended it will be since many of their friends have to work on Saturday, etc. M and I are still mulling it over.

It’s been a busy and productive day. Between the deck guy appointment and my hair appointment, I was at the gym this afternoon. It is a rare occurrence and time for me and only happened because I could not get myself woken up enough to get out of bed this morning. The afternoon was kind of a horrible experience, and not because of anyone or conditions at the club. Getting up and to the gym first thing is the way to go for me, because I have no opportunity to graze and snack on crap beforehand and am less likely to overindulge once I have been there and worked so hard at it. Today there was See’s candy everywhere I turned this morning, though, and I simply had zero willpower to resist its seductive call. Consequently, the gym was a long, hard slog.

Tomorrow will be better. I’ll drag my sorry butt out of bed and get it done first thing.

Two more official days of work and I am done for the year. Cannot wait!


Home enhancement projects 2016

So last night M finally, FINALLY agreed that rebuilding the deck might be bettered hired out to the professionals. It’s not that I think he cannot do it; I am absolutely certain he would do a stellar job. However, it’s been 7 long months since our concrete was finished and we remain stair-less and having to come in and out of the garage to get to the pool and backyard. Have I been patient? Most of the time, yes, and part of that is I just did not want to fight with him about it. Last night I was working on our 2016 budget and telling him that I really wanted the deck done by the spring … and he said maybe we should get estimates and hire it out.

I was online and looking at decking contractors within minutes after that statement. I already have my first choice lined up to come out on Monday.

Since our joint decision to go composite versus wood, it has become a much more complicated project. Plus he would need helpers to get it done, and once the project is started my very limited well of patience will quickly run dry if daily progress is not occurring. Paying a contractor is significantly less expensive that marital counseling or having your wife lose her shit ever single day because it’s taking too long to get a couple of simple decks, stairs, and railings rebuilt.

My point and theory about hiring work out is pretty simple: there are jobs M really enjoys and jobs that are simply drudgery and hard work. Rebuilding the deck is drudgery and hard work, would take him 4, 5, 100 times longer than a contractor and crew, and is it really worth the conflict with me? I am sure he would rather spend his time refinishing the used teak patio set we just purchased. He can take his time and make it beautiful again.

Once the deck is completed, painting the exterior of our home is next … or may happen concurrently. That should be the extent of home projects for 2016, but it’s more than enough to consume our enhancements budget and saving for 2017 will commence.

Spring always seems to be an exciting and expensive time of year.

We are practically criminals!

Yesterday’s mail brought notice of alleged code violations from our county officials. We have 15 days to correct the problem or be cited. Our crime against humanity? M’s project car sitting in the middle of our front yard. It also has no grass and is a simple pile of dirt, so we are expecting yet another nasty gram about that as well.


I have been asking M to move the *$!# project car for weeks. Just like I have been asking him to figure out a solution for the back deck and stairs leading to the pool deck. But seriously, moving the project car is a much bigger deal, because it’s an eyesore. He needs assistance to get it pulled into the side yard to be stored and has been reluctant or too focused on other things to make it happen. While I am happy it’s finally going to get put away, neither of us are happy about the courtesy code violation notice. We are generally law-abiding citizens and it bugs the crap out of me that this was in our mailbox. With this piece of dynamite lit under his ass, M should get done on or before this weekend. Edit: he called a friend and the two of them are doing it tonight. In the dark. I am bracing myself for a visit from the sheriff with a noise complaint.

Is it coincidence that I was mulling a post about our neighbors? Or did I sense this was waiting for me in the mailbox? Maybe I am turning psychic and developing a sixth sense for ignoring rules. My minor irritation with our elderly neighbors has now been thrust to the forefront.

We are friendly with most of our neighbors. I walk every weekend with our immediate next door neighbor and we chat and catch up. This morning she had emailed me about some gossip heard from the neighbor on her other side. They too are nice people – probably nicer to our elderly neighbors than M and I are these days – and the husband helps out the widow a couple of houses down on the other side of us. The one who complained about the jackhammering while we were installing the new concrete.

Anyway, she told them that we are not very neighborly or friendly and are vandalizing the sprinkler system at the empty home next door. The landscaper taking care of the house told her that she had fixed the sprinkler timer and it kept getting un-fixed, likely by us, or more specifically M. I think I saw red when I read that in the email, then considered the source and calmed down.

The landscaper engaged to maintain that property is not doing a very good job of it and has left the sprinklers running on more than one occasion, flooding our yard. M has spoken to the elderly woman’s son about it, and he (the son) told M to just turn them off when it happened again. This was last month sometime. He came out a few weekends ago and inspected the broker sprinkler head and disconnected the time. He was supposed to ask the landscaper to adjust the timer and fix the broken piece so it was not watering our concrete and lower yard rather than her garden. Guess what? Landscaper did not do that at all, but reported back to the son that she did. The night after her visit, our concrete was soaked, the lower yard flooded, and the sprinkers back on all night long. M wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but he did take photos with his phone and emailed them to the homeowner’s son. When it happened the next night, M hopped the fence, turned off the sprinkler system, and emailed the son details of what he had done. Son came by the next weekend and asked M to help him repair the broken sprinkler and then the two of them worked out the timing system. Problem resolved, we thought.

That was a couple of weeks ago. The landscaper lady was by sometime last week and immediately after her visit the sprinklers are going off and again all night long. We are in a drought. There are very specific water restrictions going on, and yet this empty home has sprinklers on all night long. M emailed the son last Friday, he came out on Saturday and turned off the sprinkler system completely and then put a lock on the box to keep it that way. He apologized for the inconvenience, which we appreciated. M opined, being pretty pisssed off at the useless landscape lady at this point, that she was not very good or efficient at her job.

Widow neighbor on the other side told the son and our other neighbor that the landscape lady told her that we, specifically M, was turning them on to make the landscape lady look bad.


We love our neighborhood, and we actually like our saner neighbors. There are a few older, lonely couples/people who have far too much time on their hands and need to inject some drama into their lives, so they pull crap like this. If we were the only ones it had ever happened to I would be a lot more concerned, but every one of my more sane and normal neighbors has at least one story of being reported or gossiped about by the elderly who need some excitement. The neighbor’s son is a nice, laid-back guy, and he appreciates all we do and have done for his mother. Unfortunately his sister in Connecticut and his mother in assisted living are the ones wearing the pants as far as the services at the house, so he has no authority to fire the landscaper. He knows she’s not very good and taking advantage of the situation, but she is an old friend of his mother’s and his sister does not want to upset their mother from 3000 miles away.

So, there you have it. In an effort to be completely transparent on my blog,you now know we have violated county ordinances by leaving an old car in the front dirt patch and now been accused of wasting water. I may actually lose followers on this with my checkered history now exposed. Oh the horror!

Contractor time rewound

A couple of additional events related to contractor time today:

  • The crew returned around 2:15 (no update from M about this so my theories were debunked as I was explaining them to all of you in my previous post). The late return was explained as difficulty in finding additional materials needed to complete the job today.
  • They were more efficient than anticipated and were done tonight rather than returning again tomorrow.
  • M observed and learned all he needs to know to reseal in the future. We love the shiny wet look of this product, which unfortunately does not last forever. However, into the future M will just go buy supplies and apply the next coat himself.

A good ending to a delightful Thursday. M is exhausted – he was busy helping out to get this done – but we are both happy with the end result.