Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I think it's called progress

As soon as I got home from evacuation on Oct 15, I gathered all my siding and aluminum pieces from around the yard and piled them alongside the house, knowing there were salvagable pieces there, but not ready to deal with them. On the side of the street right at my driveway was the remains of my roof that had blown off. The park has picked up some things periodically, but a lot of my roof was still there and I worried about nails. So, yesterday I called and left a voice mail with the park manager's maintenance department.

Sure enough, this morning as I had just crawled out of bed and was stumbling around to get my coffee and join the human race, I heard something outside and saw them getting the roof, and were also getting lots of other things around the park, so I really think this was more coincidence than my power of suggestion.

Now this was a good thing. Normally I don't pay much attention to the goings on outside, but I was hearing their motor of the little front-end loader and thought it prudent to look out the window. Yikes! He's coming up the side of my yard! He's after all my pile of aluminum! NO! NOT YET!! Embarrassed as I was at being in my robe, hair in the predicted just-woke-up style, I rushed outside to tell him not to take it, I had pieces I needed in there. He kind of grunted and backed up and left.
Realizing this might be my last hope of getting this stuff hauled off, I hurriedly got dressed and donning some nice heavy work gloves, I started taking apart the pile, hauling one piece at a time to the front, pulling out the pieces I thought I might need. Some things needed a little disassembling, so I did that, too. Well, that whiddled it down to a reasonable size.

I noticed he had parked the little front-end loader in the parking area in front of my house and he disappeared. Well, good, then when he comes back he'll see I now have this ready for him.

Soon enough he had come back and went straight for my neat pile I had prepared for him! JOY! Something getting done! I was proud of myself. Well, bye-bye patio cover!

I go back in the house, then hear that motor sound again. By the time I get back outside, my pile was back in my yard and he was high-tailing it back down the street! WHAT! He brought it back! Why me!!???

Tommy even seems to be confused! (see him in the bottom of the picture, appears to be saying, "What was that all about?" ) Well, whatever! I'll worry about that later. At least the roofing stuff is gone and I have the pile separated. Some progress is made; right?
Coffee is something I need probably more in an IV than in a cup. The pot I was drinking from was the very last I had in the house and I really wanted to go to the store for a can of coffee. I also wanted to go over to Conn's and get a new micowave, but can I leave? No. Curtis promised he and Larry would be out today. Didn't tell me a time. James had said he would be here 10:00'ish. James finally showed up about noon and wanted me to go get a couple of pieces of lumber he needed. "I can't leave. I don't want to miss the level people."
So he agreed to get this stuff on his lunch break! Now, this guy is meticulous and pays attention to detail. But he just got here. Break already? Well, he said he wanted to put the materials out in the sun and let them adapt to the temperatures, etc. Whatever.
Finally at 3:00 I call Curtis. "Are y'all coming today?" He said Larry said somebody was sick or something. They wouldn't be coming out today. No, I didn't scream in his ear -- but I did say, "Here is my cell phone number. I have things I have to do. I can't just hang around the house all day and not know if you're coming or not. If you're coming, call me and if I am not home, I will immediately leave and get home!" I am not going to let them wear me down!
James finished putting on the Weatherlock G material and will put the roll roofing on tomorrow. Short of finishing up the eaves, and covering them with the siding pieces I so wisely salvaged, I suppose the room roof will then be done! That will be worthy of celebration! But tonight and in the morning rain is predicted, 30% scattered showers; so we're back to blue roof again. But this time the plastic is to more protect the materials up there than to keep water out of the house. It's a roof. Protect it from the rain, you say - well, yes. It's all done in layers, and he can't have any wetness in between or it might not adhere like it's supposed to.
Finally, after James leaves, it is once again dark, and I absolutely had to go to the store for my coffee if I expect to function in the morning. The microwave will have to wait.
So, yes, progress is being made. despite the many steps sideways and backwards.
I can't believe this month is already gone! What happened to November!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A day of miracles? well, almost...

As I stated in the previous post, my first "miracle" was discovering what had happened to my screwdriver and receiving proper chastisement of my conscious for how I behaved when I discovered it missing.

My second "miracle" was when I called Curtis Sr back since he hadn't called me yet, he said again he would get in touch with Larry and call me back. Lo -- HE DID! And he said he was coming to Beaumont from Vidor and would come by if that was okay! "IS IT OKAY!!" He was quite prompt in getting here, and he did agree my house does not look level, though he didn't go under the house, only from what he could see - and feel, too, because you definitely get the sensation that the room is dipping. So, he said tomorrow he wanted Larry and either himself or his son, Junior , to come back out here and get me fixed and satisfied. He acknowledges that even though technically he is not responsible for what Larry did (evidently he really did misrepresent himself), he wants to make it good because of ethics, etc. So, I now feel one step closer to house level resolution!

I think James already got the strip of flashing over the joint of the room to the house, a step that we would have preferred the leveling first, but all seem to think it won't be enough to cause any kind of problem.

He did not finish the roof today, but worked on preparing the deck for the Weatherlock G and had some end of rafters that needed some shoring up. I have to say he tries very hard to be meticulous with what he does. So, I can deal with slow as long as he does a good job.

Of course, as destiny - fate - karma - luck -- would have it, all was not perfect today. My microwave decided to quit heating! Don't they have a fuse somewhere? The clock works, the fan works, the turntable works, the timer works. It just doesn't send any "waves" out to do any heating or cooking. I tried to take the case off it to see if I saw anything obvious, but it's extremely heavy and the case doesn't just slide off with ease. So, I put it back. I found the date inside the door, 1994. I really hate to lose this microwave because it's huge! I haven't seen any in recent years so large. You could put a whole Butterball Turkey in it and have space left over. Well, I'll worry about that one tomorrow, after the level people leave.

The next project that will be requiring a major decision will be the patio cover. I finally was able to locate where I had gotten the original materials, and called them today and was told to replace what I lost will be over $1,000 only for the sheets! Yikes! What's Plan B! I thought I would go back to the idea of just moving what did survive to over the back door and remove the rest. When I told James, he suggested I can get something else that won't be so exhorbitant, that taking down what was in place would be just wasting labor fees that could be applied to materials. Well, that part is true. At least the decision doesn't have to be made today. I am really glad of that.

oops - an apology is in order (blush)

If you have been reading this for a while and/or I told you about my battery-powered screwdriver and bit set that mysteriously came "missing" after some contractors came out to my house to bid on some sheetrock work, and I was convinced that they must have lifted it since it was nowhere to be found in my house - nowhere, I tell you - well, uh -- guess what!

It was safely tucked away in a box, a box that I had put back on the top shelf of my broom closet, the closet that was full of mildew when I came back from evacuation. Inside that box is pretty much nothing except a couple of cans of carpet fresh and a couple of other things. Well, since the closet is pretty much awaiting painting, I haven't moved things back in it, though I did set the box on the shelf to get it out of the way. So, I just never open that closet. In the meantime, I had read where you can make sort of potpourri from using little pebbles and carpet fresh and give a nice scent to your rooms. So, Susie Homemaker that I am, I decided to do just that, which, put me opening the closet, looking in the box - um, oh, gosh! Lookie here! OH, MY!

So, my apologies to those who I accused of stealing (never to their face, thank Goodness) and they will never read this. But the fact of the matter is, some people did; and honest Injun' that I am, I must set the record straight. Now, what possessed me to put the screwdriver and the bit set in that box is anybody's guess. But it is now safely recharging, alongside the one I bought to replace it! I'm glad at least I'm not yet showing any signs of getting old!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Unbelievable - Roof work starts

My impression was that James would be out Tuesday to start on the roof. I did call Curtis Sr about my level problem, explaining how Larry had come out several times, what he did, what he charged, etc. I didn't say anything about the fiasco of the charges against Larry, but actually, Senior said something about a big list missing and that Larry had been their salesman and truck driver. But he didn't elaborate on it either, just said he had been gone a couple of weeks and would call Larry and would get back with me probably in the morning.

By then it was mid morning and I fixed myself some eggs as sort of brunch, and I thought I heard something in the back. I went to the back door and lo, there was James' truck in my back yard and his saw horses set up and he was already on my roof pulling up the plastic tarps. Wow! Terrific surprise.
I told him I had thought it would be a good idea to pull that plastic off and let the wood dry out good, and he said that was exactly why he was here.
He took a couple of measurements and then had to leave, but came back later.

After the plastic was removed, we could see the condition of the decking. It's not too bad. I almost made my bet of needing only one piece. But because of some measurements, there was one more piece we needed that would come out of the second piece. So, I guess I owe him a quarter on that. I climbed up the laddter to see for myself and, of course, took my camera with me.

He took a couple of shots for me, as well. (oops, that's me hugging the ladder!)

In the meantime, I had a really short depo to do and then went to Sutherland's to get three treated 2x6s that he was going to need, one 12 foot and two 8 foot, a 2x4, and three sizes of nails. They didn't have the 6 penny nails; and it took forever to get waited on to get the lumber I wanted. After I finally got it and was looking for help to load it in my van, there was a young lady there with long piece of lumber herself. So, we agreed to help each other. Men all over the place, store and parking lot, but let me tell you, chilvalry is dead!!

With that 12 foot board sticking out the back of my van, I had to drive home with the back hatch up. Thank goodness it wasn't far. When I got to the house James was already back and unloaded the lumber for me. Then I went back to M&D for the nails.

Back again; and since he had no helper with him, he needed help to hold the 2x6s up against the rafters to make a facer board. So, I had to stand on the ladder and hold the boards as he nailed them. Now, that's fine, except my legs aren't what they used to be and my agility is even less. So, I was a little nervous doing that. Plus, I had to go up one more step higher than I was comfortable doing, but I did it and it got done. I also assisted with marking the chalk lines and holding the plywood as he ripped it. Um, wonder if I get an assistant discount! ha. ha.

After he left, it was dark. I still had to get the roll of galvanized tin, which Sutherland's also didn't have. So, I called Home Depot and yes, they had it, only it was a roll of 50 feet, not 20 feet! How much? About $40. Well, okay. So, I have a whole lot left over! I rarely go out after dark, but I wanted to get this over with and went, found the tin, but wasn't sure if it was galvanized. Another hide and seek game of the hired help!

Then I remembered I will need a vent for my hot water heater. James had already said he needed 3 feet of 3 inch -- find help again -- walk up and down the store aisles -- kept seeing the same clerk, but he had said he sold applicances, didn't know about vents. But he decided to help me with his limited expertise and we chatted a bit about our problems with recovery.

Finally satisfied I had done as best as I could, I left, treated myself to Luther's Barbecue to take home with me and made one more stop at Petsmart for some cat food and headed home.

Well, I think, by golly, I am finally about to get my new roof! Weather says we're fine till Thursday, and then a 20% chance -- so fingers crossed!
Now, if I can get my level problem resolved, I'll be estatic.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sunday - a real day off!

No contractors, no leaking roofs, no phone calls, no waiting, no work! How great is that!
I picked up Mom about 10:30 this morning and we headed for Houston. Nice weather, traffic a bit heavy but we noticed it was much heavier eastbound. I knew the later the day got, the worse it would get. But I'd worry about that when the time came.
We got to John's and Sheridan, my sweet little 10-year-old granddaughter, had already put up their tree and had it looking so cheery and Christmasy. Well, she's not 10 yet -- she will be 10 on the 11th of Dec. My Dimage Z2 had broken while I was staying at John's at the end of the evacuation period, and I had mailed it off from there to be repaired. So, he had received it back and that was part of my excuse to drive over there - to pick up my camera -- and of course, to celebrate a belated Thanksgiving, too, I guess.
Anyway, we all went to eat at a nice Mexican restaurant, had a lovely meal and then went to Target to let Sheridan help us to know what to get her for her birthday and for Christmas. Ever since she was tiny, we would take her to a toy store and let her pick out the things she wants. There would be the "this is for birthday" things, and then the "this is for Christmas" things, and then there is always the "this is an I Love You thing for right now." She always seems to enjoy the little game we've sorta developed with it. So, it was a real pleasure! I don't get to see her nearly as much as I would like. Heck, I would like if she lived next door!! And of course, I even got John a "I Love You" gift too. All the time when he and Robert were home, if we'd go to the mall, I'd make sure to get them either a music tape, then later the CD's and so now it's a DVD. He had chosen "Magnificant Seven" for himself and so I said, "Here, let me give you that as your I Love You present. You're a little overdue!" He's 36, but I still enjoy getting him something! It was fun.
We went back to his house for a cup of coffee and by then it was about 4:15 and we knew we better start back. At first I thought maybe I should take Hwy 90 back because of the traffic, but it didn't seem so bad, so we decided to be brave and stay on I-10. Whoa! Wrong choice! For you local people, it was fine till we got around Jacinto City, and then slow down to 5 and 10 miles an hour. Intermittently I could get up to 30 or 40, then quickly back to 5 and 10. It took us four hours to get home! (should have been two) But we made it, and it was a glorious day. And I guess even the traffic had us feeling like we were taking part in the holiday "festivities" -- that is if you want to call bumper to bumper "festive."
It was a good day.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Rain as predicted - inside and out

So much for the Blue Roof. It sprung a leak. The people who put it up put vitually fish net on the first time and had to come out and put another layer over it. Well, that only lasted one or two light rains. Today we had a good downfall. But thankfully the leaks weren't like last time where it was coming through all over the room. Two pots caught most of it, and the rest I was able to mop up throught the day.

My roll roofing material was stacked in there. So, I found an old vinyl tablecloth I had saved as a dropcloth for painting or something and put it on the floor and managed to get those 6 rolls on it. I pulled the sides up around the rolls and then covered them with an old shower curtain - also saved for the same purpose. Then I moved the four boxes of expensive underlayment material into my office and my trim strips that I still haven't put on my tables yet. Well, I can't do more than that. If the leaks get worse, then let it leak!

The materials outside seemed safe. Thank goodness James got them on a pallet and covered last night or they would have been ruined.

My back door again had water running into the house under it. So, I had to use a towel till there was too much water, and then managed to get some rubber shoved under the door and I think that will be okay for now. I have got to get that door sweep put on, but I don't know how. lol -- have to try to study the directions if I can clear my cobwebs in my brain. The patio cover will eliminate that problem, but at the speed with which things are progressing, I think the door sweep might be prudent in the meantime.

The forecast is it could rain again tonight and then I think we might be okay for a few days. One report says possible rain Monday, another says no rain after tonight. Well, James says he will be here Tuesday and will start on the room first. Who knows what the decking will look like. I've made a little 25 cent bet with him that it won't need more than one sheet of plywood decking. We'll see. Definitely the soffitt will have to be replaced.

I had about decided I would save the money the insurance allowed for the insulation and ceiling tiles in that room and just paint over the water spots. Since it has been some pretty fair amount of water coming through, I'm wondering if that is still going to be a feasible option. How do you know? If it smells? Thank goodness I'm not smelling mold and mildew anymore anywhere.

Oh, how estatic I will be to get a proper roof over that room!! You can't imagine how many times I've fought leaks, and had to get patches and have it mopped with tar or Cool Seal ever since I've had it. Of course Hurricane Rita tore all that off right down to the decking. That's why I had first seriously considered just tearing the room off. But I think his plan will be a good one -- IF he ever gets started!

Black Friday - Black eye for Beaumont

I have never been quite brave enough to tackle shopping on Black Friday and quite frankly, never saw the appeal to it. But be that as it may, obviously millions of people find enjoyment to do it. It's too bad that a time that is supposed to be a joyous holiday event can be turned into a shameful display of "power" by a policeman who obviously got over zealous in his crowd control authority. Now, I do not know Officer Ownby; but the article says he is a 20-year veteran. You would think 20 years might would have tempered a bit of that gusto. Well, Beaumont got national recognition on the Drudge Report over it. I even saw a news clip about it on MSNBC! Poor people, with their babies and young kids, out trying to enjoy the beginning of Christmas Season, had to endure pepper spray at Wal-Mart for heaven's sake! I do hope the Beaumont Police Department will do a little bit more than shake a finger at such an overreaction that caused people such pain and discomfort and even made some of them have to spend money for emergency room visits, traumatize kids - it's just plain shameful, and even embarrassing! Here's the link to our local TV news report about it.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Back to my new norm...

... which seems to be mostly waiting. The weather is turning cloudy, good chances of rain tonight and better chances tomorrow. The shingles were laid out on the patio and I didn't know if their getting wet would be a problem. So, I had asked James and he said, yes, if they have to stand in water. Well, my patio can flood very easily, so. So, again, he says he will come out "in a couple of hours" at 11:30. Well, it was more like 6:30 or so before he got here. But he did bring a pallet and restacked the whole 15 squares and rolls felt paper on the pallet and covered them up with blue tarps. The weather predicts strong thunder showers tomorrow, and so we just agreed Monday, and if he hits a snag he will email me!

Well, that clears me up for Sunday. Maybe I can drive over to Houston and get my camera from John's Sunday. I won't want to go Saturday if the weather is bad. Of course, I bet Sunday the traffic will be atrocious! I'll take driving in heavy traffic to bad weather.

While waiting all day for my roofer, still gullible in believing him when he sets a time, I worked some on a job, and admittedly, took a nap, piddled around, and worked some more.

There was a knock on my door; and of, course, I obviously assumed it was James, but it was a very dear friend of mine -- well, he's John's friend, but they were close and he was here a lot through schooldays and even the years after they graduated; and so, we were good friends, too. He's stayed in touch pretty well over the years, but in the last couple or so it had gotten pretty slack. So, it was a real surprise to see him and a joy to catch up on his life and hear about his family and common friends. So, if you happen to see this, Billy -- don't stay away so long next time!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful day, filled with good food, lots of companionship with loved ones, and plenty of giving thanks for the things we all take for granted way too much.

Mom and I did go to Piccadilly as we had planned. With it being just the two of us here, and the kids off doing their own thing, it seemed like the most sensible thing to do. We did choose to eat there, though, rather than take-out, and since if I don't have leftovers, I feel deprived, I did buy a helping of dressing and cranberries and a lemon pie to take back home with me.

Walmart was open, so I got the few things I needed from yesterday and then we took a little ride around town, and then out to Tyrrell Park to see how it made out through the storm. I liked to go out there and take pictures and hadn't been back yet. It took a pretty good hit, but surprisingly, they had workers out there even today. They've been working hard, you can tell from so many cut trees, and then the orange numbering system they're using painted on other trees. It's so sad. The Public Gardens, always so pretty and serene and such a nice place to stroll though with a camera, or without one, were in utter shambles. Gosh, it's sad.

After our little ride, we went back to Mom's and just hung out and relaxed and had a cup of eggnog and I went home, only to have a message on my answering machine from Mom saying I had forgotten my cell there, so after I put away my few items, I drove back out there to get it.

Home once again I unloaded the pictures to the computer and gave them a little sharpening and resizing in editing and posted them in my HurricaneRita-Beaumont Fotopic site. You are cordially invited to take a look if you like. The camera I used is a simple instamatic with no controls that you can adjust. So, I guess photographically speaking, they're not exactly super-duper, but they do show what the city looks like.

Today marks two months since the storm. It's amazing that so much time has passed; but then again, it seems like it was eons ago. I'd say the town isn't making much faster headway than I am. But considering how much there is to do, I guess patience will be the key to enduring recovery. The sad part of it is, some of the destruction will probably never be repaired or torn down. The century old trees will certainly never be back - not in any of our lifetimes. So, regrettably, I don't think our town will ever be the same.

With today being Thanksgiving, there is one thing I want to acknowledge, and that is though there are indeed trees through roofs on many structures, the number of trees that "just missed" is really amazing. I can't help but visualize thousands of angels that night rushing frome tree to tree and directing their fall away from so many of the nearby homes and businesses. Granted, some unfortunate people are still unable to return to their homes because of trees in their kitchens and living rooms, but when you get a grasp of how many trees fell and snapped and how many misses there were, it's enough to get your attention. So, "Thank you for saving so much of our town from what could have been so much worse."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I hate waiting!

5:00 p.m. Why can't people be dependable? Why do they lie and say they will be here at a certain time and know full well they have no intentions! Talk about a pet peeve - waiting, waiting, and no consideration to let me know. James said he would be out after lunch. Larry said he would be out this afternoon. No "maybes," no "If I feel like it," - they said, "I will be there..." So, I kept my word. I went to Lowe's this morning and bought three of those boxes of undercoating for the weatherproofing so James would have them when he was ready for them. Mom rode with me. I needed a few items from Walmart, right across the street, but it was already about 11:00 and by the time I took her home, just in case either of them came early, I didn't take the time do to a little shopping. We didn't get lunch, just took her home and came back and started waiting. Yes, I did work on a job, but you're always in that "waiting" frame of mind. Now it's after 5:00 and not a call, not nuthin!

Well, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. So, I bet I don't hear from either of them till next week. In fact, I bet Larry has no intentions of getting his self back over here, period. Guess there's no point in calling and listening to lame excuses.

5:55 P.M. : Well, James just showed up and delivered the rest of the materials. I told him that the next time he tells me "after lunch" that I will interpret that to mean around dinnertime. I think he got the message. He said he will be here Friday, around 1:30 (here we go again) and do the lumber portion of the back room and then Saturday the roofing part. He's horrible at gauging his time schedules, but I think now that I'm learning that about him, I think it will all be okay. But I still can't help but expect punctuality or at least consideration to make a phone call. It's just that so few people seem to know the meaning of those words anymore.

Well, anyway, hope you-all have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving tomorrow and a wonderful dinner. I think we will not do much, maybe even do like we did all those years ago -- get take-out, take it home, remember all the good things we really do have to be thankful for, and call it a day.

You probably have already seen this, or maybe even I sent it to you, but it seems too appropiate to not view one more time! Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Finally - roofing materials and a plan!

I never dreamed I'd be so excited about roofing materials being delivered. I feel like I have fought very long and hard and finally, they're here! James did come by and unloaded the roll roofing for the back room and a big bucket of tar I guess and some weatherproofing stuff. He had to go back to get the shingles and felt paper for the house because they didn't have enough black, so he brought me the color chart and only a few were available. Apparently the predicted shortages are beginning.

I chose Driftwood, though I considered the one right above it, sort of orangy, which I like, but I'm afraid it would maybe clash with my siding. I scribbled out a note for him at his request stating that was my choice, and he took off. It took a while but he finally made it back with the shingles and got them unloaded. It was well after dark.

He said he still had to get the felt paper, but would get that in the morning. His plan is to be here shortly after lunch and will do the back room first so he won't be in the middle of the main house roofing for Thanksgiving. That sounds like a plan to me!

He explained to me about the Owens Corning Weatherlock G Underlayment product. He said he was trying to stay within the budget he understood I wanted ($500) so only bought one box (1 square) at $40. Since it was so expensive, he would just use it on the edges and not all over. So, I asked him about the durability of it, would it prolong the life of the roof of that room if we did it all over for more than the four or five years as will be expected with the original plan of roll roof and felt paper? "Oh, my yes! It will last a very long time." So, he suggested if I get two more boxes in the morning, he will put them on for me. Spending $80 more now compared to having to go through this in five years again seems like a no-brainer! So, I will go get it in the morning!

I'm very happy about this roof! He will not use any seams on the roll roof and will overlap further than recommended. So, I think he's planned me a good and dependable roof and it's coming in under the allocated $635 by the insurance company.

He will start on the house after Thanksgiving -- I assume Friday, though I didn't quite catch if that is his plan. But I feel so much better. Now, if the leveling will get straight, Thanksgiving will be even that much more meaningful.

For whatever it's worth, when I first moved in this house, we were living in Lumberton. It was Thanksgiving Eve, 1986. I don't remember what that date was, but it was for sure the day before Thanksgiving, and I remember John was sick with the flu or a bad cold or something and a couple of his friends and my parents helped us move. The next day myself and the boys and my parents got our turkey dinners to go from the Picaddilly and ate it in our new house out of styrofoam plates amonst unpacked boxes. If I remember right, I think they forgot to dish up our cranberries and Robert was quite annoyed at that omission, traditionalist that he always was! He was 12 then, and John was 16. Wow, what a lifetime ago.

Caught in the middle...

Still stressing over my house level situation I decided to take advantage of Wright's offer to level me for $150 more, with the understanding that I would expect it to stay level. It seems that there was a death in the family and Junior wasn't there and would call me -- guess what -- he never called.

So, I called Larry back and before I got my voice mail finished, he called me back. He told me I am level! He knows I'm level, but my walls or the floor could be warped. He's trying to find somebody to come out here and tell me he's right! I disagreed, and said I had been told he charged too much - etc, etc. Then I told him about the charges stated against him by the Wrights. Well, I figured he had a right to defend himself, and sure 'nuff, there is another side of the story. I told him I really didn't care, but if I was responsible for the pot getting stirred on one end, he had the right to know about it and either take up for himself or apologize or whatever. Somehow this whole conversation was as if an argument between -- well, "friends" is too strong a word, but it wasn't deeply rooted hostile.

He told me Junior - they call him Bubba he said - was only 18 years old, about to take over Daddy's business. Oh, boy! I had a hunch there was more to this. For the record, Larry is probably about 50. Considering how many times Larry came out here and how he conducted himself, and I do believe he genuinely tried - I tend to think he does have some credibility - even though he is stumped on my situation. However, their problems are very much NOT my concern! I soooo don't care!

So, the bottom line is Larry will come back out tomorrow afternoon and check wall levels etc and try to figure out exactly what is going on and I can rest easier about getting my roof. I also have some cracked window panes that I am reluctant to replace until the leveling is finished. As for the amount of money I've spent so far -- they all are charging too much. So, if I don't have to pay any more, then so be that. As we're hanging up, he tells me that the sheriff had just got there, and that his truck had gotten broken into and he had to go to talk to the sheriff. Oh, brother!!

As for roofs, my roofing guy called last night - finally, instead of an email. He hadn't gotten back to me yesterday because he had a broken water line in his yard and it had backed up into his house, etc, etc. But he said he was getting ready to get the papers together for a bid for my back room and we discussed the particulars. He said he wanted to bring the samples by for me to choose a color and then deliver materials today and also pick up his 1/2 down payment.

Sure nuff, he called as I was writing this entry and explained that the only colors he can get are onyx and white and maybe a reddish brown, which would clash with my siding. I don't want white, so I told him just get onyx. That's what I have now, and I'll be fine with that. So, he is going to pick them up, and get the roll roofing material while he's there, and bring them here - hopefully in about an hour, depending on the line he has to wait in. I told him about the conversation with Larry saying I'm level, and he certainly agrees with me that I am not. So, I really do hope James, the roofing guy, will be here tomorrow when Larry, the level guy, shows up! Another instance of being in the middle, I guess.

Just for a little final touch to this crazy story, the house next door is being moved out today. It's a double wide and they've been working pretty hard on it. I figured my van was in the way for them to move out the half that is closest to my house. So, I pulled my van up some to give them a little more clearance and asked them what company they were with. Not hard to guess -- the Wrights are moving the house next door to me. Looks like they work a predominantly Mexican crew. After they got both halves out, they brought one back, and now I can see the first half left down the street at the corner. They seem to be gone for the night. Um, wonder why they left it down there and brought this one back? Oh, well, that is none of my worry, for sure, except I had to walk over there and close the front door because sure as shootin', my cat Tommy would get locked up in that house and hauled off to Orange! He did get locked in that house one time. I had to get a neighbor to literally break through a window to get Tommy out! That was one frantic cat, going from window to window, and his little lips mouthing the words, "GET ME OUTTA HERE! I'M HERE! LET ME OUT!"
Well, roofing materials today! Finally! I'll believe it when I see it.

Monday, November 21, 2005

So, what in the world will be next!

Is it a lie? Is it a fraud? Is it a misunderstanding? Is it a feud?

First thing this morning I got on the phone and called Wright's Mobile Homes. They are the people who I called originally to level my house and was told there was a huge backlog and they would get in touch with me. About a week or two later I got a call from Larry Layfield saying that Wright's had so much to do, they were subcontracting out and could he come by to do my house. That was Oct. 25th. I've been documenting all the troubles with this in my blog, but bottom line is Larry Layfield has been out four times, replaced most of the jackstands with concrete (cinder) blocks. I've put out $750 so far, and I'm still not level. The last visit was total frustration on his part, "I don't understand. I won't charge you for these last four stands I replaced."

Since Wright's was who recommended him, I called them this morning, asked for the owner, and he's out till Monday. His daughter answered the phone and I told her why I was calling. She said straight out that Larry L used to work there as a salesman and that their work list had been stolen and they could not be reponsible for anything that he had done.

So, I said, well, who can I talk to about where I am now with the leveling part of this? Her brother, Junior.

Junior also told me the same story about the list being stolen and didn't want Larry L going around using their name because he didn't know anything about leveling. Well, if what he says is true, I sure don't blame him for that. But he did try. I mean, he was here four times trying to make it good.

I asked how much it would have cost me if they had done this. And he said $350 for what I've had done so far. I had paid too much. I had to balk at that because when I called for a price, I was told $400. Later he said they level for $400 plus materials. Umm. Well, which is it? Nobody says under $400 to level! Some said $1,000.

But considering my situation, he would have a crew come out and get me level for only his cost to pay their wages, so $150 plus his cost for any additional materials. In the meantime, I did give Junior Larry's phone numbers and a copy of the receipts he gave me -- though they did not have the Wright business name on them. So, it's going to be one word against the other. They can fight this out between themselves.

I decided Larry should be the one to get me level - or get somebody out here who can. So, I called him and not telling him of my newly acquired information, asked if he had discussed my problem with his cohorts and he said yes, that the frame is level. It has to be the walls or something. Well, that's nuts. He had it level -- even twice -- and the walls didn't just all of a sudden warp. So, could he send somebody else out on his nickle and take a look. Yes, he said. He sure would do that. He would call me whenever that person would be coming. I'll hold my breath!!

Now, this stealing a list and all that -- I don't know why I'm becoming quite leery of anything any of these people tell me. I'd be willing to bet that Larry has a side to this story, as well. Granted, he didn't do this conventionally, I'm sure of that. But I don't think he's as green at it as they say. The other company I had called Saturday, a different Larry - Larry's Mobile Homes, competitor to Wright's, had said how he should have used a water hose instead of a stick, etc. Nevertheless, Larry L did get it level twice; but it lost the level for some reason, and he did try within his obviously limited ability. If I pay Wright's the extra $150 and they get it level again, who's to say I won't lose it again in a matter of days just like before?

I guess I will just have to let it be as it is. I'll be willing to bet that even if I get it perfect and it holds for over a month or two, by six months, in this soil, I'll be out of level again. So, what do you do! I'm no more level than I was to begin with. I have some cinder blocks under my house now I didn't have. To top it off, I was told that it should be solid concrete blocks, not cinder blocks.

I think I'll take my insurance money and run away to Aruba and maybe I'll disappear off the face of the earth. I'll bet the news channels won't spend months looking for ME!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Patience running thin

After the roofing contractor came out yesterday, I expected he would get back with me today with some solid numbers for the back room roof and for fixing my siding and the patio cover. But what do I get instead, I get an email, saying what is my budget for the roof. Well, I've told him, my budget is not $1300 for 3 1/2 squares. That's too much money! That's almost $400 a square! I have asked, get me a price for something less. He has said, maybe brai or this or that, but no numbers. He wants me to set the numbers. So, I say, well, insurance is allowing $635. He comes back with more vagueness and more questions just won't talk numbers, reminds me I was going to take it off to begin with. Well, duh, that has been settled for a while now. Why bring that up again?

How can I set the numbers? I don't know the cost of materials. I called Lowe's. How much is roll roofing and how much does it cover? How much is 30# felt paper? How much does it cover?
So I try to calculate this and come up with about $100 in materials! We're only talking about 18x18 roof surface at best! So, I add in a guess for lumber and figure $300 labor should be adequate for this little job. That's a bottom of the barrel roof. That should come to just under $500 but the cheapest of the cheap for that little space!

He writes me back and says he doesn't understand, remember lumber minimum charges, etc. $300 isn't under his minimum. He will not give me any numbers! Only that $1300! Then he says something about it has to be put on in over 50 degree temps and it will crack if I don't. Well, it's going to be in the 60s and 70s this week! What's 50 degrees have to do with anything? He's not going to be putting it on in the middle of the night.

I swear, I have been talking to this guy for weeks, and he talks like he knows all this stuff about every building trade there is, but it's time to put up or shut up! Let's get going on something! If I didn't know better I'd think he was just doing this out of sheer boredom or something and has no intentions of doing any of it! I know that's crazy, but this is driving ME crazy. Thank God I haven't given him the half down on the house portion of the roof yet!

And to top it off, this is all email. I tried to call him to have a two-way conversation! We are obviously not undertsanding each other. I have two phone numbers, and he doesn't answer either one. Only email. Crimeny!

I really hope I don't have to scrap this whole thing and start over with the blasted roof! In the morning I have to call the level guy - which was the very first thing I tried to get done - and try to get that accomplished. Now this roof thing is headed for the toilet. What's the matter with people!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Saturday - a day off? - no...

Needless to say the roof guy never came out yesterday. I did get an email saying it would probably be today, Fridays were awful. That's fine.
Allstate called, the lady I had talked to at the 800 number when my check was messed up, and wanted to be sure everything was straightened out. That was nice. Then right after that a man from Allstate called about my expenses while away. It seems since I have a mobile home policy, all I'm entitled to is $100 a month!! WOW! And then only if my dwelling is uninhabitable - not because of forced evacuation or because the power it out, but because it was turned into toothpicks or something. Well, no, I didn't qualify for the $100. Gosh!

The only thing left to deal with on insurance now is contents, and I doubt I'll get anything for that either. The only things that were ruined from Hurricane Rita were my computer desks that were cheap to begin with and 20 years old (I even painted a couple of them) and a few books. Scientific Dictionary, Chemical Dictionary, Dorland's Medical, and a big Reader's Digest Atlas, were worth a few bucks, maybe $350 for those. But I bet they won't give me anything for them.

Today has been mostly spent working on this job that is about to eat my lunch. Also, I took a break and installed the software that I had ordered to be able to download my cell phone pictures to my computer. The software is cheesy, at best. Unless I missed something, there's no place to direct the downloads to go to the folder of your choice. But whatever. I can move them. I didn't have anything to practice on, so I played voyeurist and took a few pictures of the people taking off the porch of the house next door.

I'd say it definitely looks like they're getting it ready to move the house!

Anyway, now when something actually worthwhile turns up to take a picture of with my little cell phone camera, I'll at least be able to get the pics on my 'puter without having to email them to myself.

The roofing man finally got here about 4:00. We did a good going over of all the outside jobs I want him to do, less the porch. He wants to wait on the porch, get the roofs out of the way and the siding. We're going to calculate the cost to put my whole patio back for comparision's sake to tearing it down and putting back a smaller cover. If it's not much monitarily, I'll just restore it how it was. He got up on the roof and said it looked like there wouldn't be too much lumber for the room, other than the soffitt, of course, but thought the decking was probably okay, though he didn't take off the tarp - just crawled around on the roof hitting it with a hammer. Thank God he didn't fall through!

Um, wonder if he'll try to get started before Thanksgiving! Better hurry! At least we decided not to wait for proper leveling first. It probably won't make any difference. But I will most definitely be making some calls Monday to try to make somebody fix it, and fix it right.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Square 1 Revisited

Square - level -- it's all the same; right?
I've not been able to get this unlevel situation off my mind, and worried about proceeding forward with any of my repairs without my foundation in proper form, but at the same time not knowing what to do about it. I decided to call another level company for a consultation.
So, I called Larry Gray, another similar company; and was able to talk to him. He was very nice and I even offered to pay him for his time discussing another person's workmanship with me. He wouldn't accept that. On the side, he said he has over 3,000 houses that need leveling after Hurricane Rita! Wow! Anyway, I asked him if he knew Larry Layfield, who did mine. And he did not. I explained I originally called Curtis Wright, who was also extremely busy and had sent Layfield to come out. Gray said he knew Wright quite well. He asked if Layfield used a clear water hose, and no, he did not, he used a long level, like a carpenter's level. Gray explained that is not how leveling is done, with a stick. He felt that even with the blocks that Layfield placed, seeing as I was still not level, that I should contact Wright and tell him what has happened with the person he had recommended, and that obviously Layfield did not know how to do this. He said he would come out himself when he had a chance, but had no idea when that would be. I asked if he thought I should go forward with the roof, and he thinks I should be level first. He also thought I had paid more than I should have for what was done, but he didn't get specific on the dollars.
I did as he suggested and called Curtis Wright and asked for him specifically and was told he would not be available till Monday and to call back then.
I was really hoping to get my roof this weekend. But I sent this info to the man I contracted the roof with, and he concurs that I should get this level problem resolved first, and that he will not rush me at all. In fact, he said he will try to get here late this afternoon, before sundown, to take a look and see if there's something obvious.
This whole repair situation is definitely getting to me. I had a dream last night that I looked out my window at the neighbor's house, the one that it looked like they were preparing to move. There were law officials all around, and they were tearing out walls, etc, to the house, apparently looking for some kind of contraband. Then they came to my house, continuing their search, and began tearing out my walls - creating quite a mess of busted Sheetrock, broken paneling, and insulation all over. There were large spots of mildew on the back sides of the walls where they had been removed, and I was happy about the whole situation because here the law was taking down the offensive walls searching for something I certainly had absolutely no fear they would find - and I wasn't having to pay anything for it! Yup, I'd say that's confirmation -- this is getting to be unacceptably obsessive!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Exhale - but not without incident

Hooray! The check came! After returning from errands, about 3:00 this afternoon, I stopped at the mailbox to get my mail. And it's there, a nice fat envelope from Allstate (several pages of claim items). Having groceries to unload, etc, I waited till I got the things put away, having a distinct feeling I wanted to be sitting down when I opened it. And I was right. Remember the lien that they kept saying was showing up on my policy, the one I called Saturday to have deleted -- well, check was made out to me -- and the S&L company!! WHAT! I have my insurance lady's number on my cell phone, and called her immediately!
"I have good news and bad news. The good news is I got my check. The bad news is the lienholder's name is there, too!"
She was flabbergasted and couldn't quite get a handle on what I was telling her.
"Remember? I called the 800 number to Allstate Saturday and they told me they deleted it. Remember? I sent you the clear title and the release of lien."
"Well, I don't understand. After we went through all that -- how did... can you send it to me? Does it look like my handwriting?"
So, a fast scan and email and a quick return call from her, "That is NOT my handwriting! I've got to see what's going on. I'll call you back." In the meantime I called back the 800 number.
Only a few minutes passed and she did call back while I was still on the phone with their other place and she said she would make a specific trip to Beaumont and bring another check and get this one. She's staying in Liberty - about 40 miles away. I said, "I'll meet you!"
"Great! If you can at least meet me in China." (town about 10 miles on my end)
So, I take off headed west out Hwy 90 and she takes off headed east on Hwy 90. I reach China -- call, her. Voice mail. "I'm past China. Headed to Nome."
I reach Nome - call her, "I'm in Nome. Still headed your way."
Then she calls back, had been detained, and was about 5 miles from Devers. By that time I was 6 miles on the other side of Devers. We'll meet in Devers. I reached Devers city limits and soon saw an Exxon on the right and called her again, "I'm pulling into the Exxon station on my right."
She said, "I see it! I see you!"
Wow! What a day! I teased her and told her I forgot the check at home! So, we sat there in the Exxon parking lot and she writes the check right there and gives it to me to be sure she did it right. Looks good. I said, "I bet a man wrote that in thinking how efficient he was being!"
She laughed and said her claims supervisor told her, "Well, maybe I did do that."
"Would that be a man or a woman?"
"A man."
"Told you!"
She reminded me that if any of the repairs exceed our calculations, to get two bids and then resubmit for supplements. We agreed celebration was in order, but neither of us had time for such indulgences, and bid farewell. Allstate, you did all right by me. I have no complaints at all. I hope she'll get a nice commission on my claim.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Sheetrock busters offer a discount...

Having received a message last night from the folks who wanted to charge me $7,000 to bust out my Sheetrock, I returned the call this morning.
He said, "I have some good news for you."
"Oh? What is it?"
"I talked to my boss, and we can do your work for $3,000."
"Oh? Did you tell him I wanted a job!! Will you replace things?"
"No, but we can get contractors to do the replacements for you."
You know, if they first bid $7,000 and then I turn it down, and they counteroffer with $3,000 - what does that tell you! Amazing, isn't it? I guess this is how the game is played "out there" but I sure don't like it. I didn't get angry, though - actually I was a bit amuzed. I even considered letting them rebid a couple of little things (I said "If you can charge normal prices,"), but then I asked, "You would come in with the masks and the white suits and all that?"
"Oh, yes. We have to do that."
"No, no, no. Thanks but no thanks. I really think this is a -- pardon the pun -- huge overkill. I"ll get this done another way." They never even ID'd what I have. Well, end of that story.

The roof that's on my house isn't too old, so I dug out some old Quicken files to try to find out when I got it. I restored backed up files from back to 1990, and found it in 1999. 9/9/99 -- how about that! So, it's only six years old. I then did a little detective work to find who installed it and called him. How I wish I kept better records so that wouldn't have been such a chore! Anyway, he's still in business and remembered me. My thinking was that maybe since the roof isn't very old, and it's at least a 20-year roof, maybe I could recoup something from the manufacturer warranty, and what kind of roof was it. He said probably a Tamko, and no way, not with a natural disaster. But deciding maybe it wouldn't hurt to ask, I found their website and sent them a little email asking. Bet they'll get a big horse laugh out of my question! But hey, what if they say yes!

That's about it on the house today. The rest of the time I worked on my depo, and it is about as difficult as was promised. So, I had to focus on that and give the house a rest for a bit.

I did notice some people I have never seen before cleaning up around the house next door, cutting out bushes and taking down skirting. I know the house is vacant and has been up for sale. Looks like maybe they are preparing it to move it out. So, now I'll have to be alert to who might be moving in next door.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

So far two bye-bye's today...

(11:50 a.m.)
And it's not even noon yet. I got a call late yesterday evening from Eagle Restoration wanting to know when they could get started on my house. So, I called him and told him I wanted a job with them! Tearing out Sheetrock, not putting anything back, for $7000 -- he had to admit, that was outrageous. He hummed and hawed, and Well, we have people who put things back."
"Yeah, well, for $7,000 and you didn't even tell me this? Well, thanks for working up the bid so promptly and coming out, but I won't be needing your company's services. Bye-bye. "

Larry came out to level. We agreed this morning on the phone since the problem is the front south corner, we would just reblock that corner. The rest of the house is fine. So, he showed up and worked and still no better than I was when I first started. He kept coming out to check the doors (they swing on their own if the house isn't level), then going back under the house and adjusting. He finally said, "The frame is showing level. I can't figure it out. If I jack it up any more, I'll destroy the trailer. I don't know what else to do. I won't charge you for the blocks today. I just can't do it."

I felt bad, both because the house still isn't level, and because I believe he really tried. But still, I have given him a total of $750 and I'm not level. Insurance is only giving me $625. I would be furious except I do have all but I think 9 jackstands out of 32 now replaced with concrete blocks, so the money at least bought something. He said this was a first for him and the only thing I could do - and he would not if it was his - would be to have someone (someone else, no doubt) come out and take out and redo everything under there. No way! I will not do that. I will buy doorstops!! He departed with, "I'll be seeing 'ya." So, bye-bye.

Now I am waiting on the roof guy. He wanted me to buy a 20x30 tarp so he can remove the one that's up there now, inspect the roof for lumber needed, and have a new one to put back. So, I went to Sutherlands, and they didn't have that size. While I was there, I got some more trim for my tables -- not going to let those 45s lick me. I saw an old neighbor in there and asked him how to use a miter box and he explained. I'm going to try that. Anyway, back to the roof, the weather will be turning nasty this afternoon, so James and I agreed today won't be a good day to do it anyway. He will have the contract for my house roof only I guess and then we'll discuss the other jobs for him to do. Hope three isn't a charm.
(will edit this later for the conclusion of the day's events. Hope the afternoon is more successful than the morning!!)

6:10 p.m. -- what was supposed to be "after 1:00" appointment on the roof just ended. I had finally called him about 3:40 and he said he would be out shortly after 4:00, but if I needed to go somewhere --- NO, only wanted to get off of alert status - lol. So he did show up, and we discussed the level problem. He thinks maybe he can tell what's going on and agreed to look when time and weather permits. The promised thunderstorm came, and I heard lights were out on the street coming to my house. Thank God my lights didn't go out! Anyway, the house roof contract is now signed! HOORAY! Will be about 3 days to start, but will have to pick out color for the shingles. Now I have black, but if there is a good brown that will go with my siding color, I might lighten up a bit.

He has given me a price for removing the existing patio cover and moving those materials to over the back door. I told him I want to compare what it would be to just use the "tearing off" funds to apply to replacing what blew off or down. So, a couple of decisions yet, but we're on the way at least with the house! He is also thinking of redoing the design on my porch railing, which I'll bet he comes up with something nice.

I had a depo come in. Sounds like it will be taxing on the nerves to get done -- hard and unintelligible foreign doctor - and long. Well, guess I'll have to take 2 aspirin before starting. But it won't be tonight. Tomorrow will be devoted to work -- and probably the next couple days or so from the sound of it. Tonight -- I'll relax and watch a little TV.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Office very nearly done.

I'm having to put two posts on Monday because by the time I finished up my projects last night, I was too tired. So, Sunday's entry is below this one.

Larry did come this morning as promised and as I suspected, we agreed to replace the remaining jacks with blocks. We'd done 18, and have 13 left. We agreed on a price, and he said he would come back by noon. In the meantime, I went to Sutherland's to get some trim for my tables and desk.

My first task to do was to put the keyboard tray under my desktop. Never having done that before, I had to take my time. Because the top is actually a hollow core door, I had to put two pieces of wood strips for the metal runners to attach to, other wise they screws wouldn't hold. This whole project took me some time since it was so unfamiliar to me. For my board to actually set the keyboard on, I had a piece of shelving that I had taken apart sometime back that was about 14 inches wide and plenty long. So, I cut it and used it. I was pleased with how it came out.

Then I went to attempt the trim, and I almost messed up the desk. I put a piece on the back side, and when I went to put the side piece, I royally messed up the 45-degree corner. I really do not know how to do those! And I won't have it done like a little kid did it. So, I squared it off on the ends of the back side only and quit. Don't know what I'll use on the tables - probably something flat that I can just butt the corners and not have to try to 45 them. Maybe one day I'll learn the secret to that.

I think when I do have that back wall taken out because of the mildew (back wall that adjoins the back room), I'm thinking I'll replace it with sheetrock and paint it like a foam green, sort of blue-green. When you walk in the room the left side seems much heavier than the right side, since all the white is on the right and all the stained stuff on the left. I think color on that back wall on the right will balance it out.
I guess next is the closet, to get it cloroxed and painted and sealed.
In the meantime, here's my room -- all but the trim on the tables and of course, setting up the computers and moving my highback, armed computer chair back there.

Things go bump in the night

(Sunday morning - 3:00 a.m.)
Something woke me up, some weird noise. At first I thought it was my circulating fan malfunctioning. So I turned it off. But the noise didn't stop. The decible level was louder than the a/c fan - which mine is loud. It sounded so strange. Quincy was nervous about it,too, and had his little ears cocked and was quite intent on finding it. It sounded like it was coming from the floor - is a gas line leaking? I didn't smell anything. Besides, that would be a consistent noise. But it almost had that type of sound, like gas escaping. An animal? Doesn't sound like an animal under the house. It was irradic but strong in rhythm, not like something rubbing against metal or wood or insulation. It was localized in that area in front of my central heat unit in the hall. The night light in the bathroom was my only light and the house seemed real hazy, to the point I almost expected the fire alarm to go off, but I turned the light on, and I guess my eyes adjusted. That part got better, but still hearing that incesent sound! What is it!!! It sounded like it was going to come right up through the floor and devour all of us!! I got on my knees and tried to localize it, then just beat on the floor with the palm of my hand a few times - that kinda hurt. It didn't stop immediately but the irradic rhythm seemed to lessen. Finally it stopped. I decided to lay back down, then it was back, slower, still irradic, a rhythm of something like a swhoosing sound. then heard it again closer to the bathroom. Quincy was definitely also trying to figure it out. Had he been a dog, I'm sure if it was alive the barking would have scared it off. I went in the kitchen and even little Molly was interested, though she wouldn't come down off the table she had been lying on. Still, she was alert to it.
Finally it has stopped. It had to be a possum or something up in the insulation, but I can't for the life of me figure out what it was doing to create that sound. Rubbing up against insulation or metal or wood wouldn't sound like that. Disturbing insulation would be that loud. I sent an email to John so if my house blew up and me in it, or the langoliers came and ate me alive, then that's what happened. Umm, best I remember that show, I think that might be sorta what it sounded like! Yikes! The langoliers are coming - or was that a crunching sound?

Sunday Afternoon:
I survived the night. The sounds lingered, though weakened and eventually stopped. Later I went to get some supplies for my house, like Clorox and gloves and some plywood for my tabletops, and a new screwdriver and bit set. I am just about convinced somebody helped themselves to mine. And going back and reading when I had it last and who was here the next day -- well, I don't want to accuse. If I'm wrong - I'll apologize. Finding all the things I wanted at Lowe's was hard. I don't know the store well enough, and the walking back and forth and up and down just about did me in. Unfortunately, I still had Walmart to do. I sure wish I could get around easier. There was a day shopping all day was nothing, now it just about knocks me out.

After I got home and got the car unloaded, I decided to start on my projects, put the table tops on, had gotten some self-adhesive tiles to put on some 2x2 plywood pieces they had, drilled the holes and put the hardware on the cabinets, put a shelf with two brackets up over the music center. I have a rather large Indian collection of artwork and plates, and dug all that out and got it all hung and placed. Finished up by midnight. If the langoliers come back, don't wake me up!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Things are lookin' up

For starters, my insurance lady called this morning, and of course, it wasn't without incident. While I was still evacuated and I first started on this claim, she had told me that there was a lien showing on my house. Well, that was totally in error as the house has been paid off for many years. So, at the time I went to the Allstate station, a trailer and tents set up in Wal-Mart's parking lot, carried my title and release of lien and they promised me it would be taken care of. Wrong!! No, it wasn't, still showing a lien. Thankfully, when I called the 1-800 number for Allstate, the lady who answered the phone was able to delete the lien off my file! Said it would take till Tuesday for it to show up, which wasn't good because the check was actually being cut today and then submitted for approval. So, I scanned and emailed the documents to my claim adjuster and she felt that was sufficient. So, as always, some big snag that takes about an hour or more to clear up. But it is cleared now. So, that's good.

Another issue that was on her mind was a measurement she wanted double-checked, the distance from the peak of the roof to the edge, for calculations of the number of squares. We tried our hand at an algebra formula for a right angle hypotenuse and somehow kept getting screwy answers -- you know, square root of A squared + B squared = C -- well, so much for our refresher course in that. So, I got brave, went out and set my ladder against the house and climbed up till I could see the roof, slid the metal tape up the roof slope till it caught on the ridge row and got my number and eased back down. Now, there was a time when I would have thought nothing of such a task, but not now - not clumbsy me. I put my cell phone in my pocket in case I fell!! And no, I did not get on the roof.

I called her back again and we got that number plugged in and it dropped the final number by about $59. But we both felt better about it because it has to be exactly accurate. She said Allstate can - not necessarily will - but can come out to check our measurements and want them within an inch, no less! Geez! Well, we're happy with what we've done and it is now in the hands of the powers that be! Hopefully this week I'll get my check. This stage is a little scary. I will exhale only after I have it safely in the bank.

Larry, the leveling fellow, finally returned my calls from yesterday and I didn't confront him at all, but questioned what he thought might be happening that my house isn't keeping the level on that front corner. He said he is totally perplexed about it, but he will be out Monday morning, hopefully between 8:00 and 9:00 and try to figure it out. In my extreme limited knowledge about leveling, I'm thinking I may have to buy a few more blocks to further support that corner, though I hate spending more money on this level job. It's adding up! But it's not unreasonsble that it might be needed.

The roofing man, James, also contacted me via email and will be also coming by Monday to get a contract signed on at least the house part of the work he'll do. He didn't mention the patio and the back room roof and the porch steps and railing, but he has agreed to do those things, so we'll see what he has in mind. Then he said his policy is to wait 3 days, giving me the opportunity to change my mind - I don't think so! -- and then I guess he can get started. So, maybe that will be next week, also - provided the weather is agreeable to roofing.

I have turned this house upside down and looked in every nook and cranny for my electric screwdriver and bits set. They are gone! It's hard not to wonder if some of these people coming in the house might have just picked them up. I bet I had left it laying on the dryer next to the back door I was trying to fix. Well, I'm sick of looking. Tomorrow I have to get groceries and things. So, I'll go buy another one and the set of bits or whatever you call them that goes with it!! Darn it! Then what do you want to bet I'll find mine and feel totally guilty and ashamed for thinking somebody took them and doubly stupid for not remembering where I put 'em.
(edited 11/29/05 -- prediction came true! I did indeed finally find them and posted my official apology.)

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sheetrock Busters

My insurance lady called today to go over the final polishing of our numbers and items. She said, "Did you notice that Sheetrock bid didn't have any replacement costs in their bid?"
"No. I didn't." When I got home and found the bid in my door, I immediately scanned it and emailed it to her, looked at the bottom line, in the $7,000 neighborhood, saw where they would furnish a Dumpster and would also clean out my air ducts. Well, that's good, items I hadn't thought about. But I continued with my furniture moving and didn't look at it again. So, to her query, I got it out. There is a column, Tear out, and a column Replace - well, the Replace column contained a whole lot of zeros! Well, how 'bout that!

They think they can come in my home, bust out Sheetrock, charge me over $7,000 and not put anything back? Not in their wildest dreams! I told her to tear it up! I can do some serious Sheetrock tear-out for $7,000 myself! Am I ever in the wrong business!

My whole repair process just got a whole lot easier. I'm so sick of these alarmists who prey on your fears to completely rip you off. I have water damage and that's it. If there's black stuff, it's from the water damage and you wash it off. If it's too soft and isn't any good anymore, then you replace it. And I'm not scared of the bird flu either! What a ripoff this whole mold remediation business is! And to top it all off, as I said before, they didn't have one piece of testing equipment! How do they justify ripping my home apart and charging me that kind of money! For the record, because this makes me so mad, their name is Eagle Restoration. So I hope if somebody Googles for them, they'll see this. Now, they might be real legitimate business people in their field, but as I see it, the whole field is one big scam. They're not pulling any wool over this ol' gal's eyes!

To add to my woes -- ah, yes, but not a new one, a recurring one -- my house has lost its level again!! WHY? What are they not doing that it's not holding! I called Larry - left a voice mail, waited all day, no return call. So, I called his sidekick James, and James seemed to question my ability to know it's not level again. I know how to read a level, thank you very much! Yes, the door is swinging closed again. My roof contractor is ready to put on my roof but I have to be level first. So, he said he'd have to get ahold of Larry and they'd be back out. It seems we're about out of good weather, rain predicted tomorrow night and then a nice strong cold front by Tuesday. Geez! Hurry up, get this thing level where it will stay level!! What's the matter with you guys!

Other than these headaches, I have one more - I have a battery operated electric screwdriver and a whole set of the little bits or whatever you call them for all kinds of different screw heads. It has flat disappeared! I have looked every feasible place and it's not anywhere. The last I used it I think was to try to fix that back door latch. I swear, I think somebody stole it!

The good news is my settlement amount came up a bit after a few revisions and she is ready to turn that sucker in. We tried to think if there was anything we missed and agreed we had pretty well cooked that egg! Of course if something else turns up, I can file for supplements, but I think we're good to go! She said she'll be going back home next week. So, I'm extremely happy we were able to finish and not have to break in somebody new. She has been a dream to work with. I can't complain one iota as far as my agent is concerned. Bouquets to her!

Making an office

As I promised myself, I started putting back together my office in my front room. I basically put the room back like I had had it before I moved into the back room, but of course, I now have my new desk and cabinets. I'll post a picture soon. I still have to set up my computers and I'm trying to decide what to do over my "entertainment" table.

Last year during one of my "redo stuff. I'm sick of this" moods, I had taken a credenza and made a sort of hutch over it with shelving and added a mirror and boudoir lamps and it served as a dressing table. I enjoyed having it, but the lighting never was really great. I almost put the credenza in the back room to make a place for the white iron table/hutch, whatever it is, that pretty well matches my white iron day bed. My mother was helping me move and she suggested using the credenza for holding the TV and my LP record player. Um -- okay. So we took down the hutch. Mind you, I have a good four linear feet of LPs. I didn't want to use the stand they were on anymore, so we moved them to the middle bedroom to a different stand.

We worked pretty hard moving things out of one room and moving other things into the room. After I took her home, I started trying to put things away. It is now after 1:00 a.m., and I just now quitting. I didn't like the looks of the knee hole in the credenza if it was going to be sort of an entertainment center, so I had an idea. After measuring, the shelves the LPs were now on in the middle bedroom were exactly the right width to fill the knee hole, too tall of course, but a saw would remedy that! So, I took them all down again, carried them back to the original room we had taken them out of, and took the shelfing unit to my "new" hobby room, got out a ruler and a saber saw and made the cuts! Perfect! Braced it up to hold the weight, and slide my new unit right in place and loaded up the LPs!

I also have a Sega Genesis that periodically I or my kids might play around with. So, since the tabletop was getting a bit full, I had the top half of the shelving unit I just took off for the albums, shortened it a bit more, and set it on top of the credenza, serving as a shelf for the record player and a place to put the Sega underneath.
I'll edit this tomorrow and put a picture, but I think I want an overhead shelf to put an Indians on. So, the wall isn't totally finished.
(edited to add pic)

The desk turned out quite nice I think. I'll have to anchor the top to the tables below, which I got some L brackets to do that with. Then I'll have to get tops for the cabinets. Putting them together as a unit didn't work space-wise, so I'll be making a separate top for them, but will make them the same. (edited to add pics)

The mold remediation people did bring their bid by and it's seven pages - and a lot of money! I emailed the bid to my insurance lady and all she's waiting on now is this last roof bid and I think we're very close to a settlement, depending how she adjusts for these new figures. I really didn't study it out since moving furniture and all pretty well had me occupied. They evidently use a similar software are the insurance company uses.

But for now, it's way past my bedtime.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

One or two steps forward

I have a roof man! The man who came out yesterday afternoon, James, emailed me his bid for my roofs, house and room, and to take down what's left of the patio and put it back up over the back door.

I'm not going to try to replace the whole aluminum cover. It was
too big to begin with, and it never served the purpose it was supposed to. It's too high and didn't provide that much shade in the late evening with the west sun beaming in or protection from rain if it was blowing. So, a simplified patio over the back door will be about 14x16, which is still a nice sized patio cover. Looking at the picture, it will measure out to just past the kitchen window (3rd window from the left side of the picture)

The price he gave me for the house roof includes windstorm approved and he's considerably less than Home Depot, who was admittedly too expensive. The insurance is still short some on the roof, but it's not too bad. This is a much more reasonable bid.

As for the back room - well, he told me it was too nice to destroy and he would relocate it for himself if he took it off. As for my alternate decision, he gave me an estimate for a "proper" roof, which was about like Home Depot's price -- too darn much!! Insurance isn't giving me hardly anything for the roof, but I can't get more from the insurance on it because regardless, I've maxed out my adjacent structure portion of the policy. I wrote him back and made a suggestion of tar paper and roll roof and simultaneously he wrote me back thinking about some kind of tin!
This morning, after hearing him talk about how nice the room is, etc, I guess I moved from 50/50 to keep or not keep, to say 60/40 keep. Since there wasn't anything really pressing for the day, I decided to work on my desk project. The tables I'm painting for the base are in that room, and so is the door I'm staining that will be the top. So, I proceeded to put the last touches of paint and the last coat of varnish (which, by the way had bubbles and I had to sand it off and do it again - lol) -- but while doing these things, I knew for sure I do not want to get rid of my room. It's so nice to have that space. If I didn't have it and I wanted to do some project, I'd have to destroy the order of some room in the house or go outside in the hot sun.

So, I have decided -- I'm keeping it! I won't set my office up in there though. The central heat/air is not ducted into that room, so I have to use the window unit and a space heater, which, with fuel prices ever climbing, that's wasteful when I can simply put my office in the front room. I had it there before. Then the back room can serve as sort of a hobby room.

I don't think I'll replace the wood floors with new wood floors but will take them up and put down some indoor/outdoor carpet, touch up the ceiling with paint where the water spots are. I can keep my file cabinet in there and my treadmill, and maybe a few other things. And of course, keep that closet!! I still need to continue throwing away junk, just the same.

As for the room roof -- I feel confident that between James and myself, we'll come up with something that will work that won't be so exhorbitant. When I'm talking "exhorbitant," he and Home Depot were bidding in the range of $2,000 for a 16x16 room! That's only 3 1/2 squares! That's exhorbitant in anybody's book!

He didn't bid for the porch, but he said he will do it. We'll work out a price for it. I'll probably do all the painting myself, but he said he would come up with a better design for the posts. Also, my steps were not built to the proper proportions of rise and run, and I've always hated them. They're too steep and not even equal heights. He said he can redo those for me, as well.

Nothing has been signed yet other than the gentleman's e-mail agreement on the house roof and the patio; but I feel good about working with him on the room roof and the porch, as well.

The Sheetrock/mold people really didn't set good with me. Their bid will be helpful to finalize my insurance claim numbers, but I might not use them - depends on the prices, and the attitude. But the more I think about how I called them for a mold inspection, "Yes, we inspect. It's free" - and then he comes out here and doesn't even have one instrument or anything - what kind of fool do they think I am. They just wanted the work. He did tell my insurance lady they're "mold certified." If they are, then why didn't they give me a "mold inspection"? That's really bugging me.
I think tomorrow I'll put my desk in position and anchor the top to the bottom, and find the appropriate place to put the cabinets I stained. I have an idea where to put the cabinets in my new office but will have to wait to see if it will be how I'm envisioning it. If not, I might only use one and put the other in my middle bedroom - or both in the middle bedroom. They sure won't go to waste.

Once that's determined, then it will be time to decide on a top for them - maybe those preformed formica tops would be nice - either one over both cabinets, or do each one separately. Then I can pick out the hardware for it and pray I drill the holes in the right place the first time!! Well, those decisions are for tomorrow.

For now, I have decided on a roof contractor, what I'll do with my patio cover, and to keep my room - even if it will have a blue roof for a while! So, all in all, I'd say it was good day.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A snail's pace, but bit by bit...

What a full day. For starters, again, I awoke way too early - about 4:00 a.m. - finally got up, and put the second coat of paint on my tables before daylight. About 9:00 Jim called. Jim is the guy from mold inspection, and said he would be here at 11:00. Great. So, a quick bath, dressed, my yard man came and went to pay him and he wanted to visit about the storm. Then Jim drove up.
No instruments, no testing devices - only his measuring tape and a table of paper. Some inspection. I kept asking about what about testing, well, he didn't have any more of the testing equipment - blah, blah. Basically it seems his idea of mold inspection is if it looks supicious, tear it out! Doesn't matter what it is! Some inspection, huh!

But he did understand about the ceiling and said that it can be cut and then joined with normal Sheetrock and textured. We went though all the places and he measured and diagramed and photographed everything. He showed me an estimate he did of another customer, and it will look similar to what the insurance company does, which is better than just picking a number out of the blue. He said he'd have it ready hopefully Friday. I called my insurance lady and let her talk to him and ask whatever questions she had. So, that worked out well too. He commented after the call what a nice lady she is and how she seemed to be a real pleasure to work with.

As soon as he was gone, I left to go with my mom to get her car inspected and oil changed and stuff. Got back to her house and I got a call from James. James is the guy I contacted on about tearing off my room and my roof. He wanted to come out, so, I had to hurry to get back home.

He stayed a couple hours looking at the roof, the patio, the room. He said the room is in such good condition, that if he takes it down, he most definitely will put it on his own property and use it himself! All it needs is a good roof! (He said the blue roof that I have two layers of now and that leaked the first hint of rain - he said it's not put on very well. Not sure if it will hold up very long! Surprise!) So, since I'm 50/50 on keep it/get rid of it, I thought maybe I do want to keep it. His estimate on the house roof is reasonable and his ideas about the patio were good. So, I think I'll probably be working with him on all the roof issues. He doesn't seem to be a fly-by-night roofer, seems to be a little higher caliber than some others that are out there.

I really cannot decide what to do on my room! This is an extremely stressful decision. But I'll wait and see what the bid comes back for the inside work Friday, see how my numbers are all stacking up, and maybe then it will help me decide. Even to have the room as a work room is nice and the extra storage. And it does add value to my house, not that I would sell it anyway. But on the other hand, the roof is a real problem, and I do have to pay extra heating and cooling bills. Either way, I can't get rid of it till after my insurance has sent me the funds. I can see it now, "No, we won't give you money to fix something you don't have!" So, I have some time to think about it... enie, meenie, miney, mo...

All in all, I feel like things are shaping up. I've talked to several people, gotten a good handle on what my issues are and feel like I can make some more informed decisions about ceilings and things like that. This last man, James, being in real estate, too, has seen the fiascos that mold can cause and grief in people's lives, has the philosophy it's a lot of politics involved, and I do agree with that. I mean, this is S.E. Texas and we have mold and mildew. We always have and we always will.

Still, I know my house has the smell. I think the bad places I will fix, and the not so bad places I'll wash with clorox or get some industrial strength mold stuff and paint and call it a day. I figure it's about half to fix of what we've looked at and the other half will be okay.

In the meantime, while waiting on these things to come through, I guess I'll do my last coat of varnish, put my desk together when they've had plenty of time for the varnish to cure, and continue the spring cleaning.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Life just got more complicated

Who knows where this dilemma will lead me, but a dry-wall contractor from Port Arthur came out and I started showing them all the problems, starting in the house with the ceilings. He was Spanish, and his wife and another man and his child were with him, and she served as interpreter, but they seemed quite knowledgeable. He told me that my ceiling is not Sheetrock as we know it, that when the mobile home was constructed, they use some special kind of Sheetrock that is rock hard, and all in one piece throughout the mobile home, that it is put on first and glued to the expand foam or something that is the insulation and all that is against the decking of the roof. Then after all that is in, then they go up with the walls. So, to cut out sections of Sheetrock and have insulation fall down is definitely not what will happen. The walls have a bit of a space at the top before they touch the ceiling, so when the ceiling would be knocked out in one room, it would crack and go across into the adjoining room's ceiling space. There is no way around it they said. They first told me I should jump up and down and scream and holler to have the insurance total out the whole house. Then after a little discussion, he said he could rip out the whole insides, ceilings, walls, and replace everything with normal Sheetrock, everything inside would be new. Geez! What a nightmare this is turning into!

I called a couple of mobile home sales and asked them about such construction, and they assured me that is how things used to be done, that now they use regular Sheetrock, but they didn't know how to repair that type of ceiling - evidently too young to remember! lol

I climbed in a chair and looked behind a piece of the trim that's up there that all this time I thought was covering seams, but it was solid behind it! No seam! At least in that spot, and it is very hard! The stipples don't flake off. And after being moved when it was new, being moved from Lumberton to Beaumont, being leveled, being in Rita, there is not one crack in that ceiling!!! Which tells me it's a strong son of a gun. Maybe such construction of a ceiling helped strengthen my house.

But what about the mold problem? The girl -- Rebecca is her name -- said the smell was starting to give her a headache. So, though it doesn't bother me, it's evidently still here. Other people notice it when they first walk into the house.

I've called my insurance lady and left a message on her cell phone. I had sent her an email Friday, and she never got that, which she said she doesn't get email unless she knows something is there for her - and I did tell her but she could have forgot. God Forbid!! I hope she hasn't quit or something! This new information will definitely change her numbers since she was figuing on normal Sheetrock repair.

The mold people never showed up. I called and come to find out, the secretary failed to tell them of the 10:00 appointment and the guy who was coming had a doctor's appointment. I canceled with them because the dry-wall people kept their appointment which was supposed to follow the mold people. After the mold people left, I called them back to see if they could come on out . They said they'd call me back and didn't. I HATE CONTRACTORS!

I wonder about them anyway. I think they're just basically contractors looking for regular type repairs. I had asked the secretary if painting or varnish would corrupt any air samples, and she said, oh, no they won't do air sampling. That's waaay too expensive, that it will be a visual inspection! Well, what about all those instruments and stuff? I don't know what they'll do. Maybe tomorrow, or I'll call some other mold people.

My inclination is to clorox the ceilings and paint and call it a day! It hasn't made me sick yet, and I'm not dead I don't think! If it smells, I'll just burn candles if company comes. I really don't know what to make of all this.

Edited for postscript -- I just called Larry, Vidor guy who leveled my house -- and explained about roof. "Oh, yes, just like mine. I'm going to have to do the same thing. You won't have to take out the walls, just take that out and replace it with ceiling tiles. Tiles will be less expensive than Sheetrock and if you have a leak again, easier to deal with. The mold and mildew won't go anywhere if it's sealed off. The whole thing might cost $4,000 -- don't know." I'm going to try to get him to do most of this, at least what he can do. I believe he's trustworthy and he does understand mobile homes.

So, I feel better. I just wish now my insurance lady would call me back. I know there will be an adjustment on her calculations, for sure. I'm getting a little worried about her now. I hope she didn't get in a car wreck or something.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Woe is me...

Sometimes things just get a little overwhelming, and I feel totally inadequate, incompetent to run even my own life all by myself. Most people have somebody who can help them think about a plan or lift this or move that or haul off something else, show you how to do some task you've never done before. And truth be known, I bet those people are extremely taken for granted! Having such an aide, assistant, partner is not my lot in life.

Growing up, my dad was a master at anything he wanted to do. He did mechanic work, carpenter work, detailed things like beautiful crochet and embrodery or detailed rigging of a model ship - everything from the plumbing to roofing. You get the idea. During my marriage, my ex had learned from my dad and was an apt handyman, too. My sons never really cared about such things. Besides, they're now moved away and have their own homes and families.

So, here I sit, with a halfway knowledgeable understanding of how things are supposed to be done, especially for a girl, but by either limitations of dexterity (getting up and down for starters), strength to carry or lift or move things by myself, or just lack of experience, successful completion of desired tasks sometimes seems impossible. It's so frustrating.

Through these years for home repairs I've had to rely on hired help, and I'd make sure I got "qualified" people - but no, they would not be qualified. No matter how many years they're in business, they still hire the no-accounts that don't care what they do and still charge you outrageous prices. So, as I look around, I see the incompetencies of work that has been done in the past, and wonder how in this God's world will I ever get this all put back together again and not have a pile of pure junk when I get through.

When they leveled the house, the back door facing shifted a bit making the plunger a tiny bit short of fitting into the little hole to hold it closed. I didn't notice it until after they left. But the thumb bolt worked. So be it. Use the thumb bolt. When it rained the other night, rain came flooding in under that back door because the threshold is wrong and the steps that exit the house are set too high, level with the house floor. This was never noticed or bothered with because I had the awning that kept the rain off the door. So, a trip to Sutherland's today for a weather strip and seal. In my case I needed what's called a door sweep.

Even the walk in Sutherland's to find what I wanted was a difficult task because something is happening to my upper thigh muscles and walking has become difficult. It's like they're wasting away and not strong enough anymore. But be that as it may, the clerks kept telling me the wrong aisle to find the door weatherproofing stuff and I really didn't feel like another hike in the wrong direction.

But I finally found it and then didn't know - do I get 1/4, 3/8, 1/2? Where is a clerk? Nobody around and I wasn't going off to look for one who probably wouldn't know anyway. So, I settled for the middle, 3/8 -- wrong! It was too thick and door wouldn't close at all. So, I whittled it down with sissors -- nope, still wouldn't close. So, off it came! Whatever!

Then I studied that little metal thing on the door facing that the plunger goes into and deduced that if it were brought out just a bit, maybe the door would close and the plunger would catch inside the little hole and stay closed. So, I found a Phillips screwdriver and took the metal plate off, stuffed some of the weather stripping behind it and put it back in the place! Wa-la! I fixed that!

Now for the door sweep -- pull it out, get out directions - "don't cut this end!" Well, which end? Looking at the diagrams and reading and -- no, I really don't know how to do this. So, put it back in the plastic bag and now I will have to pay somebody to put it on -- probably charge me, what, $25, $50 to put it on? The darn thing cost $12.99. And who wants to bet when I do find somebody to do it for me, they will either do a messy job of it or cut it too short or something. It won't be right. I'll almost guarantee you!

So, that task at least tended to, and with the mold people scheduled in the morning, I thought I should get those bags of clothes out to the shed. I probably should have divided them up into smaller bags, but I managed to get them out there and just basically throw them in. Another castrophe in the shed. So much junk in there. At one time I had it all nice and neat; and over the years, whether it be myself or the boys, we'd look for something and throw stuff around to find it and never put it back. 90% needs to be thrown out!

Again, no help even if I did clean it out. Nobody to haul it off. Nobody with a pickup truck to take it to the dump. So, shovel the junk from Point A to Point B, and deal with Point B later. Maybe I'll rent a bloomin' pickup truck and go to the stupid dump myself!

Well, venting helps I guess. I am an extremely determined personality, and this will all get done if I can just not let it get me too overwhelmed. They say patience is learned as you age. I don't think so much that it's patience that I'm lacking, though, as the feeling that everything has to all be done right now and I have to do it all by myself and I don't have me to call to help me. So, it's more like -- um -- panic I would say!

As for my desk I'm making, with my mood such as it is today, the idea of veniering has been scrubbed and replaced with simply painting - so, chocolate brown enamel and some sandpaper should take care of that and make life a little easier. The darn things will be up against a wall filled with supplies and more junk and it will never make a whit of difference.

If you actually read all this, then thanks for listening to an ol' lady grumble. It helped.