Monday, October 31, 2005

Monday night - what a day!

I absolutely HATE waiting! I wanted to go to the grocery store this morning, but the guys who are going to level the house said they were coming by, he had left a level under my house, would go do another, and then come back and do mine. I called at 3:00 and he said, "Oh, we'll be there in the morning. It's supposed to rain this afternoon!"
Um, I've been waiting all day!
The girl I work for was going to come by and pick up her job I had done for her. She never came or called.
I called this morning for the folks to come double-check the blue roof. "Yes," he said, we'll call Randy and he'll have somebody out there today." Nope - never showed. This roof is scaring me! I know it's not on right!
Well, NONE of them showed up all morning. 1:00 - 2:00 -- finally 2:30 Home Depot, whose appointment was at 3:00, called, "Can I come early?"
"You betcha!"
All morning, waiting, I should have been making use of the time, but I was just too tired. I think I took two naps in that span and felt like I didn't have the energy to do even that.
Well, the Home Depot guy was very nice, informative, and I like how they do business. I don't want Chuck's Roofing doing my job. I got a bid for both with and without the room. The room will be more expensive he said because the roof slope is less than 2/12, which means it's almost flat!
As soon as he left, I finally went to the grocery store, and stopped at Sutherland's again to get some 240 grit sandpaper so I can put another coat or two of polyurathane on. Robert (my youngest son) told me maybe I could put paint thinner on the spots and remove whatever is on the wood so the stain will take, but that it might create more a mess and maybe I should let it alone. So, I don't know.
Got home, and before I even put the groceries away, I decided I better move things out from under the vulnerable roof areas. I had put my door in the back room to stain it, so I moved it toward the front of the house, and shoved most everything else in the front room where it's in the front half of that room. I had to leave the white tables in the back. Then I started putting groceries away and here comes the rain!
Sure 'nuff! Guess what! As soon as it started raining, it's like Niagra Falls into my back room! I knew it! We're talking serious water on the floor. It was hard to get a picture where the water would show up, but the number of drips from the ceiling will give you a clue. Too bad the drips falling didn't show up. (You might have to look at full view to see it)
Also water was coming in under the back door because there's not a proper threshold. When I had the patio cover, it wasn't an issue! Oops! Somebody forgot to check that! Me I guess.
One time I had bought one of those rubber seals you put on the bottom of a garage door for my mom but she decided she didn't want it. So, I found it and cut a piece and put it down and closed the door on it to try to seal it. It seemed to work. But no such luck in the back room. Not enough pots to catch it all.
I called Randy, the straw boss of the company (Hy-Quality out of Ohio or Indiana or wherever) who came out here and put the thing on.
I told him, "I knew it! I knew that roof wasn't put on right!" I said, "That roof didn't even last through one rain. It was supposed to be there for rain, not beautiful blue skies! Houses in Florida have lasted 3 years with a blue roof and I can't get through the first rain with my $475 blue roof!!!! I said, "I'm still furious about that!!"
He said, "Well, who paid for the roof? "
"I DID! My check! My money!"
"Uh, your insurance isn't paying it?"
"Well, NO! Not that much! People paid $200 for one -- or got it free from FEMA if they were lucky! NOT $475!" I said, "I called my insurance lady while Carlos was here, and she was like, 'Well, we pay for materials, uh, I'll have to ask my supervisor about the upper end on labor.' No, they won't pay that!"
He said, "Well, will it make you feel better if I bring you a check for $275 in the morning?"
"Yes, it will! It will keep me from being mad about that the rest of my entire life! Yes!"
He said he was sorry Carlos "upset" me - or whatever word he used.
I said, "No, he didn't upset me. He was polite and friendly and personable. He's just incompetent! I have been around this trade long enough to reconize if somebody doesn't know what they're doing. I don't know if he's on-the-job training or what, but I knew that roof wasn't right. He didn't know what he was doing. That's why I called for y'all to come check it."
He admitted he got the message this morning and just didn't get out here, that he would be here at 8:00 in the morning, would I call him.
I said, "Can't you just be here without me having to call you?"
"Yes, I'll be there at 8:00 in the morning."
So we'll see!! AND WITH MY CHECK!! I don't know if he's being nice or if he's scared I'll report him to the attorney general.
After the blood pressure getting back to normal I called my insurance lady to talk to her about the roof bid and she's certainly understanding my wanting to use Home Depot with the full warranties, etc, even if they are high on their prices. She was even concerned that they were NOT figuring in the bid the decking that might be bad underneath since he didn't get up there to check it! She said tomorrow she wants to go over with me on the phone every tiny detail to get the full list of repairs.
She is obviously not your run-of-the-mill adjuster. I don't have numbers yet, but so far I am extemely happy I got her. If the numbers aren't good, I doubt it will be for her not trying! I trust her. So, with all the negatives on AllState, I'm hopeful this case will be okay - if I can survive these contractors!
On the agenda tomorrow morning - level guys, blue roof guy and my money, conference with insurance lady. This is hard for somebody whose memory is completely lousy!
Oh, yes -- and call my cell phone people. I changed my plan to a nation plan during evacuation, and they billed me some long distance and took away a lot of my bonus minutes! I've been haggling with them since I got my bill trying to get that worked out. "It has to approved. Call back." I was supposed to call them back again this afternoon and forgot!

Monday morning - early

I absolutely hate time changes. It always takes me several days to get my own system in line with it. I really wish they'd leave time alone! I woke up at 5:00 a.m. and if you know me at all, you know that is unheard of!
I've decided to put the blocks under my house. Knowing that one of the jack stands was so rusted that the head on it busted off, and knowing the other 31 are in just as bad a shape, and the fact that only one caused my figurines to fall helped make up my mind. So, I called Larry and James, the two guys from Vidor who are doing this for me, and Larry said they'd come today. It seems like a really hard job, and I suggested if they liked, they could break it up into sessions, but he said no, they needed to do it all at one time.
I have noticed that my laminated flooring in my front bedroom is separating at the ends of the boards - not the sides where it snaps together, but the ends. So, once all this is said and done, that will mean having to pull the baseboards off and trying to shove them back together. I'm glad I didn't glue them when I laid that flooring down last year.
The rest of the day I spent staining and varnishing. the two cabinets and the door. One of the cabinets has some kind of flaw in the wood that has made spots. They didn't show up in raw wood, but the stain made them pop right out.
I tried sanding them. I tried letting stain dry a little on a Q-Tip and dab it on. Any ideas? I'm waiting to varnish over them in case I can figure out what to do. Naturally they're right on the face of the door. The inside of the door is perfect! My luck.
This afternoon Home Depot will be out to do a roof bid. None too soon, either, because they can look to see if my blue roof is down securely. There is a strong thunderstorm headed here this evening with some winds. We've been so lucky that ever since Rita hit the weather has been absolutely gorgeous! So many people have so many really serious problems with trees and roofs and damage, and to not have to fight the weather has been a real blessing. Of course, we need the rain. The dead trees everywhere are a fire hazard at best and they even emit a certain dust in the air. But I still don't want flooded rooms, especially since I have a literal hole in my roof! I guess today I better move things out from under the target areas and cover some stuff with plastic just in case! (sigh)
PS --- Well, I'll be doggone! After inserting the picture above, I just figured out that you can "MOVE" a picture! Put the mouse on it, click, and wa-la -- there is that blessed little directional cursor! Why didn't it do that before when I tried to move the previous pics I added? You can even resize them, too. Fancy that! Okay, I'll take the blame - dumb me! And I will cling to the excuse, "Grandma is slow, but she's old."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Level again - desk delimma at hand

I called the leveling people early this morning and they were here this afternoon. Apparently I had a jack that "blew its head off" - lol It was so rusted out that the top snapped off, and my house must have had a bit of a jolt when it happened, because some little figurines that sit on those little decorative wall shelf things (Home Interior type stuff), were on the floor. These guys were really nice about it and blocked where that jack was and got me straightened up again. They noticed a door frame going into my kitchen wasn't square, and they even got that straight for me without me even asking! As for the jacks, they said that jacks are now basically illegal - that the regulations require the concrete blocks. Said it would be an additional $260'ish do that, and they wouldn't add extra to my leveling charge I've already paid. I really think I should do this now. The jacks are really on their last leg (no pun intended)! I have 32 they said -- well, now I have 31 and one block.

I've decided I'm going to use the cabinets I bought yesterday as storage tables. So, maybe tomorrow I will begin staining them. I have two or three places in my house where I might use them, most probably in my middle bedroom for storage of my LP collection and cassette tapes. That will free up some floor space in my new office I'll be creating. I'm not sure how I'll top them off, but perhaps a piece of that Formica pre-formed top they use in baths and kitchens, with the rise in the back would be good.

As for the door-top desk idea, the tables that I wanted to throw away might have to be used. This is my probably soon to be eliminated back room and my beloved office pre-Rita (boo-hoo! I want my room back!) Anyway, the tables are 24x24x27 high, so just the right size. Only they're painted white, and I don't know what I want to do about that yet. I'll keep two of the tables that weren't damaged, and throw the rest away. Maybe it would look nice to cover the door with white sheet Formica, and have the whole thing white. Where is Christopher Lowell when you need him!!
Well, first things first, I'll get the two pieces stained and polyurethaned. That will give me time to think about what I want to do on the desk.

If you think Hurricane Rita didn't have any power to it, take a look at what it did to my rusty ol' latch to my storage shed - bent that sucker plum backwards!!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Mixed bag of woes and a bright spot

I started the day with dare I say it, a little energy and confidence. List of items for Sutherlands - porch light, 16 feet of treated 1x4 for front horizontal, white nails and yellow nails for top siding piece in back, two toilet thingabobs - the thing that raises and lowers with a chain (I need one and so does my mom). Add to that my next project, to build myself a desk since mine were ruined and they're only about 25 years old. Plan: a 2'6" door put atop two 2-drawer file cabinets. But when I saw kitchen cabinets I thought, why not! So, I got two -- end of story first -- it was the wrong thing to do. But in my ignorance, I checked out, managed to get all my huge stuff in my van, and not sure how to get it unloaded. I saw a neighbor who has helped me (for money) before, Scott, and asked him if he would help me unload for $10. Yes, he would - and did. So, then I ran an errand for mom and had lunch with her, as well as put the thingabob in her toilet tank. While there my heart decided to give me a fit with its PVCs, which it does from time to time.
Eventually I got home and started on the first project - the horizontal board in the front. The boards that were rotten were out, but what was behind them was the original siding, and it was like wet cardboard. I didn't know if I should cover it up or not, and the nails wouldn't stick into it. Panic!
Move on to the porch light -- opened instructions -- gasp - I don't feel like doing this. So, I called my newly met neighbor and he promised he'd be here in an hour. But he was sooner. Said it was okay to put the boards up, and found studs to nail to. Got that fixed. Then he put up the piece of siding missing from the upper back. I had found it under my shed. Then on to the porch light. It was real pain in the neck! Poor guy had to fight it because the siding has a third dimention to it that made the screws too short, so he had to improvise, but finally got it. I'd have never been able to do that! I went to pay him, "Oh, no, ma'am. No, it's okay."
"Oh, no! I must pay you something!"
"No, ma'am. Really. It's okay."
What an angel he is! "Well, okay, but next time I will pay you! You will get extra stars by your name in Heaven's book for this!"
By now it's late, dark, and I have a job I should start on (job, as in paying kind), but I first took a look at my cabinets. I had measured them in the store, and it looked like the height would be about 31 inches, which is about a standard desk height. But no! They are 36 inches! I would have to have a barstool to work! So, I now have two 24-inch cabinets - $160! I guess I can still stain them, and use them as sort of a printer table type thing. But I really wasn't planning on buying that. They're way too heavy and bulky to try to take them back, and I'd be embarrassed to ask Scott to help me load them again! Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!
If all the above isn't enough for one day, I noticed the door to my room was swinging shut all by itself! Yikes! Sure sign I have lost my level - at least some of it! So, I sure hope I can get that bunch back out here. Something they did under the house didn't hold.
Well, that was my day, besides I did decide to call a Mold Inspection place who will come out and inspect for free - but it will take them three weeks. So, I put my name down on the list.
I seriously doubt I'm going to be able to survive Rita Reconstruction!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Perseverance pays off

If you willl look to the right of the screen, I have been successful in getting my profile picture up, and I have added a few links! Hooray for me! Before long I'll be doing backflips, too. My skirting on my mobile home was really messed up. The man who leveled my house said he would do the labor of installing new skirting for $170, but I would have to buy the materials. I think the insurance lady is calculating to replace all but about 18 feet which that part was down, but seemed undamaged. To make an all-afternoon story short -- I DID IT! I got out there, figured out what pieces went where, and put my skirting back up!

I couldn't get to the south side where I have all the aluminum stacked, but I finished the front and back, and half the north side. There seems to be enough recovered pieces to finish the job, but curiously, they're too long to finish the north side. Obviously they must go on the south, but it almost seems like there's too many.
Yes, it was hard. Yes, I had to rest a lot. I sure wouldn't have beat any time clocks. But I think I saved a few dollars!
I also got some of the debris cleaned off the patio, though there's lots more to be done. I wish I had a designer or at least someone with some talent to help me come up with a plan on how to redo it so it will look nice.
By the way - follow-up -- yes, the aluminum recycle people do take aluminum patio covers. They pay from 34-40 cents, depending on who - if it's clean, meaning no screws; and they do not come pick it up. When the men were here to level the house, I asked them about how much they thought I might have, and they said possibly $30-40 or so. I don't think it will be worth it to sit there and remove a million screws and then try to load that stuff in my van. Realistically, I'd pay $40 to not have to do all that. So, it was at least a good idea. Now that I know it will generate a little cash, maybe I can get somebody to haul it off and let them have the money.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Adding pics to blogs - not that easy!

Okay - I admit, I'm not a computer guru - I'm fast approaching senior citizen status, and I do attempt to limp along with the newest technologies - but sometimes it's not without great effort and grief.
Last night I decided to learn how to to add pictures to my blog entries, and fought them like a wildcat! I couldn't get the tags to work in html mode - probably because I don't know what I'm doing. I tried different syntax - no success there. So, in the compose mode I went to the picture icon and tried to upload from my fotopic site. It didn't work. Tried over and over -- and it just wouldn't take.
So, then I went to the "from my computer" or however it's worded, and navigated to the one I wanted, selected medium size, and the option for center, left, right choice. With my mouse carefully placed where I wanted the picture to go in the text -- it went straight to the top! grrrr. Okay.
I tried to cut and paste the picture in the place I wanted -- nope. Then I decided to cut and paste the text above it! Okay. I can do that. When I went for the 2nd picture that should follow in sequence - no, it went ahead of the first. double grrrr!! You have to put them in reverse order because it will only upload to the top!
Oh, wait, it looks like you can do multi pics at once. I'll try that. Loading them in reverse order, with a plan to cut and paste text in between as desired -- no, it wouldn't upload them. So back to doing them one at a time - in reverse order, of course.
With that done, all pictures in the top, now it's time to place the text around them. This is worse than a jigsaw puzzle! Only when you're deleting spaces and line commands -- oops, there goes the picture. Quick - CNTL-Z to get it back -- nope, that won't work. This has got to be easier than this! Since you can't put the pictures in sequence, only on the top, that means start completely over again! If I didn't have a determined personality, I'd have given up long ago!
Well, though it was a major effort and a great stressor, success. I did it! Now dare I be brave enough to tackle the profile picture? Sure. Confidence is restored.
Instructions say to post the picture in your blog, then copy the properties http site, then paste that site into your profile picture space, then delete the original from the post. I can do that. I did that. Message: the name of the http exceeded the number of characters allowed!! What! "You named it. I didn't!!"
That lesson will have to come another day, along with learning how to put links to the side of other's blogs or sites I want to add to my page.
This is just getting too complicated for an ol' lady!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Cool weather at long last!

We seem to have lost summer -- finally! Here it is nearing the end of October and we're finally getting some cool weather. For some strange reason, I've wanted an electric blanket for a few years now and just never got one. Finally, yesterday, I did! So, with the chilly temperature, I set my little thermostat on level 3 and let it warm before I went to bed. It was really quite nice! The warmth seemed a little extra relaxing, but through the night it seemed to get too hot and I had to turn it off for a while. But I'm very happy with it. It was a good investment. The gas company is warning people how high their heating bills will be this winter. Well - not to worry -- I'll just stay snug and warm in my new blanket.

House leveled - Step 1 down, how many to go!

The company I had called a week or so ago to level my house called this morning to say they were subbing out because of so much work and could do my house today! A quick call to the company who was here last night and he said he couldn't do it for what this company had quoted. So, I told them to come on, and they were here by 1:00. Thankfully they were local people - well, from Vidor, but that's local enough. The price was low, comparatively speaking, but it did not include any new jacks, blocks, or pads - probably high considering that, I guess. But at least they did it according to the old ways of doing things.
I was told that jacks are now illegal and they must use concrete blocks, which makes the job very expensive. My jacks are getting rusty, but that's something to worry about five or so years from now. For now, I'm straight again and doors actually stay open when they're supposed to be open.
I explained to these men the jobs I needed done, and they gave me a bid on what I think will be an agreeable price for the tear-down, repair of the vinyl siding, both from the storm and from removal of the room, and installing skirting. These guys are basically what we call "workin' stiffs," not the big-time professionals, but they seem to be experienced in this kind of work. So, maybe this will work.
I called my insurance adjuster to see how things are going, and she was glad to hear from me. She's a very personable lady, and I believe she will do as good as she can for me. I told her so because I believe in giving flowers when they're due. It seemed to make her feel good to hear kind words. We agreed that first to mid next week will be sufficient time to get my quotes from her. I didn't mention the fact I'll need a whole new roof yet, and I didn't discuss the idea or removing the room. I want the insurance to fund for the replacements. Roof estimate will come Friday when Home Depot comes out.

My worry now is a porch light fixture that is open to the elements now. I think tomorrow I will try to fix this myself, at least temporarily. I hope I won't shock myself. So, maybe I'll just pull the main breaker since I have no idea what I'm doing.

One good thing, we have had excellent weather, and forecasts still is not including rain for a few more days.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Big decision at hand

Should I remove the back room entirely or fix it? The room was added to my mobile home when the boys were still home. Having my office and my bedroom in the same room pretty much had me in one room virtually 24/7; so spreading out a bit was a touch of heaven.

Since then, I've had roof problems over and over through the years, and had to buy two window air-conditioning units over the years and use a space heater in winter. So the room cost me on utility bills, for sure. Now that I don't really need the space anymore, it seems like maybe a good time to just have it detached and hauled off. Quite possibly the repairs bid might be substantially more than a tear-down.
A local company who basically moves houses, levels them, came out and checked my level and looked at the room. I am sloping down about an inch or two to the front, and dipping to the right. I think some tie-downs are collapsed. They'll get a price to me this week I hope. Home Depot is scheduled to come out Friday, which will be for a bid on the roof and the siding. So, I surely have to make a decision on the room this week! Ugh. I hate this. I'm a Libra. Decisions are extremely stressful by nature. But another advantage to getting rid of the room is if I ever wanted to move, not having that room would make my life a whole lot simpler. I have absolutely no plans to move, but you never know what the future holds. So, I suppose the "get rid of it" column seems to outnumber the "keep it" column, though the "keep it" column contains -- I like it!
A neighbor took down the flapping aluminum for me! Of course, for a price, but it was worth it!

The whole cover isn't gone, but the offensive parts are. With an auto paint and body shop directly behind me, all I needed was for a piece to blow off and land on one of their cars -- or, alas, a workman! So, that was money well spent.

This neighbor also does odd jobs, so hopefully he will be someone to call on when I need little things done.

Tomorrow I am going to call the aluminum recycling place. While he was taking down all that metal, the thought occurred to me -- how much do people get for aluminum cans? Can't hurt to ask them if they'll buy this pile of mangled mess from me.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

FEMA paid an unexpected visit

I suppose they're trying to overcome the nasty reputation they got during Katrina, but they have sure been nice as far as I've been involved with them. While we were in Little Rock we contacted them and registered for the $2,000 that they gave to everybody; and the money was promptly direct deposited into our checking accounts. In that phone call I told their agent I didn't know about how my house was, but it was a mobile home and logic would dictate it might have a little damage. I also told him I had insurance. Well, today, as planned, I had gone to Mom's to await her roof guy and my cell phone rang with a 305 area code. "Hi, this is Steve. I'm from FEMA and I'm in your area and would like to come by and assess your damages." Wow! I didn't even ask for this! So, we finished up at Mom's, called him back and met him at my house. He was very thorough, had his little computer of some kind and recorded everything, even asked if I had lost things like throw rugs! Well, no, nothing like that. only my computer desks. He did comment I had "major damage," saw where the whole house dropped to the front a bit. You can feel it walking through the house. He also recorded the mold/mildew growths and of course siding, awning, skirting damages. Sure enough, he said that because I have insurance, I will be initially turned down. But he said after I get my settlement from my insurance company to fax the settlement back to FEMA and then it will be up to them to decide what additional assistance they will provide. All this is somewhat a comfort, but what is disheartening is I haven't been paying FEMA insurance premiums all these years. I've been paying Allstate. I have yet to hear one kind word about Allstate! If they treat me fair, I will certainly give them due praises. Their adjuster presented herself as nice and professional. I'm holding my breath! The poor FEMA guy was nervous because Hurricane Wilma is closing in on Florida and his home, wife and family are in West Palm Beach and he can't get there. I felt sorry for him. After he left, I went out on the patio and tried to get some of the pieces of stuff up and carried around for the garbage tomorrow. I don't know if it's age or lack of stamina, or clogged arteries, but three or four trips from the back of the house to the front to the trash completely wore me out! And I was taking my time. It's sad! I don't even know what to do with the big stuff, like the metal cabinet that needs to be tossed, and the picnic table and a big wicker chase that's ruined. I'm stacking all the aluminum in a pile.

The remnants of aluminum still hanging needs to be torn down because there is a big piece that keeps banging in the breeze and it gets on my nerves.

No immediate plans for tomorrow other than to continue trying to get things organized. Now is an excellent time to throw out junk that's collected over the years. At least this storm has motivated me to throw away! Problem is, throw it where?

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saturday - a good day to start a blog

It seems like everybody has a blog nowadays, and I've had the greatest of intentions to do so, as well. Well -- today was the day. Of couse I still don't know how to add a picture or a link or other blogs, but hopefully I'll learn.
Since I live in a city that hosted Hurricane Rita, I am like most people in this town, having more things to do and think about than before she paid her nasty visit. Perhaps in the days to come I'll go back and archive some of how this historic even affected my life, but starting where I am now, today I scrubbed out the mildew/mold from a closet. If I had the know-how to upload a picture, I would illustrate. Nevertheless, the cleaner nearly knocked me for a loop, but after a few trips outside to breathe again, I think the closet is usable again. I'm wondering about what's behind the walls and wondering if using a sealant around the crevaces would be sufficient rather than a total tear-out, which the insurance adjuster did allow for, though I still don't have any numbers from her. She was here Thursday a week ago to make assessments, and spent four hours taking pictures, writing things down, measuring things. I will say she was very pleasant and apparently thorough and a professional lady.
Another project I started today is to move my filing system for my paperwork to my writing desk since my office is now virtually worthless with no roof. Paperwork is most definitely one of my least favorite things to do; so I really hope I can develop a system that will be easy and troublefree.
I've printed up my invoice from my gasoline card off the Internet so I can submit it to Allstate. The way I understand it, they are in litigation for displaced expenses, and IF they lose, they will pay people $100 for their absence. WOW! A few gasoline tickets will take care of that! No money for refrigerated food lost. No reimbursement for hotel expenses - but I evacuated with my mother and she is getting reimbursed for that on her State Farm Insurance! So, I suppose I really can't complain about that too much. Still, there should be some accommodation more than $100 for this kind of catastrophe! Right?