Okay, so we are in the season of fixing things. We own ( with the bank, of course) two domiciles, a house in Ohio which was built in 1917 and has all of the quirks, problems and charm of any old gal well past her sell by date and a relatively new condo in Cary, NC which has its own special issues, including being about forty feet up in the air. The residences take turns giving us pleasant and unpleasant surprises.
The dishwasher in the Cary condo began to sound like a 747 lifting off, to the point where we had to turn the television up to hear the program if the dishwasher was on. We got a new one Wednesday and it is so quiet it is kind of spooky, it sounds sneaky with its gentle swoosh of water, which makes me wonder exactly what it is doing to my dishes.We had quite an experience buying the dish washer. I am old enough to remember the time when the primary problem in buying new appliances was collecting the money to buy them. Now it seems the primary problem is finding someone who wants to take your money. My husband and I went to Lowe’s near our house to purchase a new dishwasher, mainly because ours was not only making the previously mentioned dreadful noise, but it had an odor like old gym socks, which I attributed to it having a slight leak someplace and having water standing and going bad. We hung around the displays of dishwashers, reading stats and prices for fifteen minutes. Finally, realizing no one was going to help us, we began the process of selecting one. We made up our minds in about 20 minutes and I went looking for someone to tell that we had made up our minds. I found a poor hapless young employee in the paint department who assured me that although he did not know much about dishwashers he could write us up since we had selected one. It turns out he was overly optimistic. 45 minutes later we were able to reel to the front of the store and present our bill to pay having had to suffer through several abortive attempts by the young man to write up the sale and arrange delivery, he kept hitting a button on the computer that asked when we were going to pick it up. Having paid $139 to have it installed we had to remind him we had no intention of picking it up, that transport was , presumably, part of the deal of installation . To his credit the actual purchase proved the worst part as the dishwasher arrived when promised and was quickly and correctly installed.
We also had a new wood floor put in the Cary condo, replacing a rug that had seen much abuse from my cats. Not only did they sharpen their claws on it making the rug look, in places, as if it was trying to grow an afro, it also had been subjected to my male cat, Bucky‘s periodic attempts to make his presence known by peeing just a little. I was glad to see the back of that poor benighted rug, but now the cats act like we just sold them down the river. Bucky has taken to lying in the study under the desk where there is still carpet and eschews the living room most of the time.
Getting the floor in was a bit of an adventure. I first tried Home Depot who informed me that 1) it would cost me money for them to deign come and measure my room and give me an estimate 2) they would have to “do tests” to make certain the floor was stable ( it was made up of concrete under the rug and there was no indication that it was sinking into the downstairs neighbor’s ceiling. I think they would have told me, they were certainly testy and prompt that time my water line leaked into their precious ceiling, but I digress) and 3) it would be $4,200 to actually pull up the carpet and lay the wood. They also gave me a laundry list of rules, regulations and things they would and would not , could and could not do.
I called a local shop JD‘s and the owner came by, whipped out his measuring tape, carrying on a running, funny conversation the entire time, told us what needed to be done, and would be done by him, not by us and did not mention anything he could not do and promptly presented us with an estimate of $2300 for everything. Needless to say it was JD and his crwe who put down the floor on Monday. It looks great, the only problem is that after they removed the old carpet and swept they stirred up a cloud of dust of Biblical proportions that we are still fighting with. Every time I think we have conquered it I see some knickknack or electronic screen that is in dire shape. Fortunately, in my infinite wisdom ( actually not I had bought this before we knew we were getting a new floor) I have a Living Social voucher for two hours of housecleaning. The ladies from the North Raleigh Cleaning Services will be doing some full body contact dusting this weekend.
In the Ohio house I replaced , or rather had replaced, the dining room chandelier. In a younger house this would be an easy project. In a house almost a hundred years old there is no such thing. To begin with the pipes that provided gas to the light fixtures of yesteryear are still in place. So, the young man who installed our chandelier ( he is about 40) had never encountered such. He was puzzled and not a little afraid. I imagine he thought “gas + electricity=boom.” We had the gas in the walls and ceilings capped off years ago, but he was still very nervous as he was unscrewing the pipe so he mount the chandelier flush with the ceiling. Then there was the matter of the electricity. It seems that when he was turning it on and off to keep from having sparks fly out of his ears,he discovered our electrics, as the British would call them,were not exactly standard. There were live wires where there should not be and dead wires where they should not be dead. I wanted the chandelier on a dimmer, because we give so many romantic dinner parties you know ( sarcasm in case you do not know me) and when he went to install the dimmer switch he found a huge mess of wires. The poor dear took over three hours to install the chandelier. I have another light fixture for the foyer and I called him when I was home to tell him I needed him again. He stuttered and stammered and promised to come by, but he did not show up. I am afraid he is worried about the gas in this light fixture since its pipe is longer. I think I will stay out on the deck when he works on it if he ever screws up his courage enough to come back by.
We also are getting new windows for the upstairs at the Ohio house. I refuse to have the downstairs ones replaced because they have the old wavy glass in them that is historic. The upstairs ones were replaced with aluminum windows sometime in the past, but they are not attractive nor do they repel weather well. The first estimate we got was exorbitant, beware men carting sample windows to demonstrate. The second man was a snake oil salesman who kept asking us questions like ” what is your utility bill.” When I told him, ( our ancient room sized furnace is very efficient) he hesitated and then asked ” would you like to make it even lower?” I reminded him we were supposed to be talking about windows, and he scribbled a figure down on a piece of notebook paper and thrust it at me, informing me that he could finance it for me at about $25 a month. I shuddered to think how long it would take me to pay off the scribbled price at $25 a month and informed him I would be writing him a check. He seemed to be crestfallen at that point and when I told him thank you and that we would be in touch he looked like he was going to cry. ” I thought we were going to make a deal today” he whined, sounding like a four year old who had been denied a Popsicle. I had to firmly tell him that we were simply getting estimates and exploring our options.I stopped short of telling him anyone unprofessional enough to scribble an estimate with no details on a piece of notebook paper was not going to get my business. We finally decided to ask our neighbors who had recently replaced their windows who they used and got a sane, reasonable, non-slimy person to come give us an estimate, which we went with.
I truly cannot decide whether I like having people work on my house or not. I think I am glad that Wayne is retired and can be there and I can just walk into the splendor of the new whatever and be spared the drama,the angst the tension, the questions and the pronouncements. Of course, having work done on your house is like having work done on your car, the craftsman always finds something else you could do. Depending on his/her level of professionalism this can take the guise of a sales pitch or a piece of information. Being born contrary I am much more likely to have you do something if you kind of imply you do not want to do it yourself but feel it should be done.
Next quest is to get the vines off the Ohio house that are threatening to turn it into a two story plant holder. I cannot wait to hear what kind of dialog that inspires in the souls brave enough to come give us an estimate for tackling that job! Stay tuned.