Tags: girl homeowner

Geri 2014

Geri Sullivan: Girl Homeowner

AKA: They'll let anybody own a house, whether they're fit to or not

Sunday evening: water flowing from hot water tap is first sorta warmish, then distinctly lacking in anything resembling heat.

Background: my boiler heats my water; I don't have a separate water heater.

I do various things: try another tap; go downstairs and peer at the silent boiler; shine a light and notice it appears to be seeping water onto the floor an a somewhat increased rate; turn the thermostat to heat and crank the temp up to 86 in an attempt to get the boiler to start up (*click* *click* *nothing*); and eventually go to bed, thanking the stars and calendar that it's August and who needs hot water anyway.

Monday: Call Boiler Guy. "This number is temporarily disconnected." Hmmm....that, combined with the fact that they didn't return repeated calls for a cleaning throughout the last utterly horrid heating season leads me to suspect they may be out of business.

Call place that delivers my oil, remembering a letter mentioning that they do cleanings now. Beside, it's Squier Oil. Of my Squiers. So, hey. Talk with Ed, the guy who worked with me to coordinate deliveries during aforementioned horrid heating season, when it was impossible to shovel a path to the fill cap. Mention need for cleaning, water on floor, furnace that won't come on. Arrange for Wednesday visit. Learn why a bit of seeping is better left alone. State that I think I'm beyond a bit of seeping. Learn a thing to try with the water valves, 'cause minerals sometimes build up and stop the auto-fill for the water.

Still no boiler action; still no hot water.

Leave for a couple of days. Stay with friendly cat in a lovely, comfortable home. It's good to have friends, especially friends who give you house keys for decades at a time. Answer phone call to schedule time for Wednesday visit; talk about some of the details with the scheduler. Shower. Ah, warm water is nice, especially in a house with central air. Make contingency plans about possibly needing to return.

Come home. Work. Clear out storage bins near boiler so new Boiler Guy(s) will be able to work. Attempt to sweep cobwebs from rafters. Tidy upstairs, well, at least somewhat. Faff around on FB and other, usual net destinations. Write and send funding request for Scott Imes Video Archive digitizing project.

Answer phone call confirming 10:30am appointment for boiler cleaning. Scheduler asks (in a confirming sort of tone), "And it doesn't come on when you push the reset button, right?"

Geri Sullivan, Girl Homeowner responds with a query of her own: "There's a reset button?"


Get off phone, go downstairs and stare at boiler. Notice little red button and the instruction next to it: "Push to Reset."

Well, okay. Push button. Boiler fires right up.

Something like 10-15 minutes later, it turns off. I go to kitchen tap, set it to hot, and let the water run. It takes a bit longer than usual, but hot (not just warmish, *hot*) water is soon running from the tap.

They're still coming at 10:30. The boiler rather desperately needs cleaning and there's still all that seeping water on the floor. But I have hot water. And I'll probably remember that my boiler has an easy-to-find, easy-to-use reset button.

They'll let anybody own a house. There aren't any qualifying tests demonstrating competencies for living in it, using the appliances correctly, or repairing anything.

Just like they'll let anybody join Facebook, whether or not they know if long, chatty posts are appropriate there. Apologies to friends seeing this in both places.*


*Yes, I joined Facebook. Really. After all these years of adamantly staying away it and everything. But I'm damned if I'm going to put the app on my phone. Not while they demand access to my frigging call history to install it. And other things....

Okay, okay, we all know I'm damned anyway. I'm on Facebook.
Geri 2014

Geri Sullivan: Girl Homeowner

Replaced the upstairs toilet seat last night. The plastic hinges had broken, separating the lid from the seat. Turns out the plastic had grown brittle with age.

It got me thinking about how many toilet seats I've replaced in my life. None before first becoming a homeowner in 1980; none before moving into Toad Hall in 1983, as far as I can remember. Once for sure, probably twice during my 20 years there. I know I changed the toilet seat on the first floor here at Toad Woods a few or several years ago. I think I might have changed the upstairs seat at the same time, but that's a hazy possibility at most. This is the first time I remember replacement being due to broken hinges, certainly broken hinges where the lid comes off. Usually the seat itself gets scratched, paint chips, or the surface degrades such that it no longer seems or looks sanitary.

So four, maybe five, maybe even six seats in all. Not all that many given the 35 years we're talking about. If only all homeownership tasks were as trivial and infrequent.
Carnegie Hall

Giving thanks

In these wee hours of Monday night/Tuesday morning, I am especially thankful to my father because the right socket and a ratchet handle beat the came-with-the-new-office-chair knock-off Allen wrench hands down and then some when it comes to putting said chair together. Said socket and ratchet followed me home from his basement workshop when we were cleaning out the house after his death. It's already been three years, and I'm usually as okay as one can be, but a few days ago I was standing in a grocery store and found myself missing him madly. Tonight, I was just thankful that he gladly and eagerly taught his all of his children how to use and respect tools, not just the boy-child.

I'm also especially thankful that Gavi is spending her Thanksgiving break here at Toad Woods, and that she prefers the companionship of setting up a work table in my office instead of being in a different room (or even a different floor -- there's a desk in the primary guest bedroom). Because said chair is now assembled and oh, so comfortable, and rolls oh, so smoothly instead of sitting in the box it arrived in...um...very early September. There would have been room for her even with the chair still in its box over by the supply bureau, but it was nice to have a motivational date for getting the job done, and tonight was it.

Much as I miss Tillie and Jinx, I'm also happy knowing that I won't be applying decorative duct tape to said chair to keep the innards from spilling all over the floor after Tillie and her claws had her way with it for a few months. She and Jinx left most household furnishings alone, but the vertical blinds in the dining area and my old office chair were the exceptions. Jinx left the chair alone since she wasn't inclined to seek close-up attention from her human. Tillie was rather the opposite of her daughter in that regard.

The old office chair served me well for seven years then limped along through one more year after it was worn out. Not bad for an $89 deal at Staples bought in Michigan to get me through a few weeks working at my sister's dining room table after she had hip replacement surgery. Not bad at all considering how much time I spend at my desk. The new chair is sturdier. Comfortable, too, and probably more so once I figure out the various settings and adjustments.

Geri 2014

Small mysteries

A few years ago, I had a handyman replace the outdoor floodlight fixture over the garage. Last winter, one of the light bulbs stopped working; I presumed it had burned out. I bought two replacement bulbs, figuring it wise to replace both at once (especially since the fixture is in a location I can't get to). I bought pricy, super-long lasting bulbs for the same parenthetical reason.

When the house painters were here, I asked them to replace both bulbs. They did. But the fixture didn't work. It has a motion detector and I could see a bit of an orange glow come on that seemed to indicate it was detecting motion, but no floodlights. My best guess was that there was something about my pricy, super-long lasting, fancy-dancy bulbs that didn't work in the fixture.

The guy at Lowe's thought any of their floodlight bulbs should work when I talked with him while buying lower-priced replacement bulbs. Of course, by the time I got around to doing that, the painters were long gone. One of these days, I really do have to buy an extension ladder....

The summer passed, with no floodlights, ever. I finally turned the switch off, flipping it every once in awhile wishing that hope might triumph over experience, but it never did.

On Monday, my neighbor came down to work out with me. (We've just started doing this; hope it sticks!) It was dark when she left, and she asked me to turn on the light. I told her it wasn't working and flipped the switch to demonstrate.

The floodlights came on, of course. They've been coming on regularly (when they should) for 48 hours now. They go off a bit more quickly than I would prefer (or that I remember them doing before), but they come on! I should know better than to look at this gift pony's teeth any more closely.

"Should know better" so rarely trumps "because curiosity."

I don't know enough about electricity to know if shorts or other wiring problems can be temperature sensitive. The Interwebs tell me that resistance typically increases as temperature increases, and, as a Wikipedia article says, "As a consequence, the resistance of wires, resistors, and other components often change with temperature. This effect may be undesired, causing an electronic circuit to malfunction at extreme temperatures."

Only it seems that my circuit resumed functioning as soon as it got cold. Besides, Massachusetts spring, summer, and fall temperatures can hardly be considered "extreme." Even this cold snap isn't extreme.

And if there were damage to the wiring, caused by mice or squirrels, for example, it hardly seems likely that there are rodent electricians in my Flamingo Loft, repairing damage done by their cousins.

So why did the fixture stop working as soon as the new floodlights were installed...and why did it start working 6-7 months later?
Santa Monkey

Garage door update #2

Repair single overhead door RHSLI

Furnish and install

4 3" H.D. shears [pulleys]
2 clamps

Adjust springs

Total materials: $31.00
Total labor: $95.00
Tax: 1.94

Total amount: $127.94

Paid in Full


It's official. I love Roebuck Door Company! Paul & Bill both rocked big time. And when I want to replace my garage door opener remote, or to get a second one, I know where to go.

(Yes, big box stores'n'such have 'em, or I could order online. But I know the one I get from Paul's company will work, and the $35 price is utterly competitive with the offerings at Blue and Orange.)

In related news, I learned that my springs have safety wires, so if they break they won't hit me or my car. And that my doors are cedar, in good shape, and would be "very expensive" to replace (which I wasn't anticipating doing, but it bears out my previous experience that when the Shorettes were here, they went for premium materials and good workmanship).

As unexpected home repair adventures go, this one ranks "splendidly."
Zeppelin Hangar

Garage door update #1

Paul & Bill from the Roebuck Door Company are here. Excellent attitude so far -- they're not trying to sell me on a bunch of related work that I'm prepared to need, opting instead for "if it's working, leave it be."

I'm going to go watch, 'cause I'm interested. As Paul said when I asked (and said I'd stay out of the way), "You're welcome to watch. If you want to help, it costs more."

In other news, this is the company that installed the automatic openers...about 18 years ago, Paul thinks. Not as old as I thought from the remotes. They have replacement remotes in the truck; I can get those today. Win.

Yep, I like Roebuck Door Company.
Zeppelin Hangar

The further adventures of Geri Sullivan: Girl Homeowner

See that garage on the far right of the user icon? See that garage door on the right, partially-obscured by the shrub rose cacophony in the front yard? The door is closed in the picture, which is not its current state.

Oh, no. The door is currently half-open. Half-open and thoroughly stuck. The wire cable on the furthest side came off one pulley, freeing the other pulley to drop partially into the rail (where it never belongs) and become very firmly lodged against the top roller as the door rose. The whole thing appears totally bolluxed.

So instead of seeing the Coen Brothers' new movie, Inside Llewyn Davis and then spending the afternoon visiting with Mark & Priscilla Olsen, I'm stuck here at Toad Woods. Or, rather, the Cardis is stuck, which for most practical purposes means I am, too.

In the last 3 hours, I've Collapse )

As I was working on removing the 4th bolt (the socket and ratchet handle that came from Daddy's doesn't fit there nearly as well as it did with the other 3), my cell phone rang. It was the Roebuck Door Company calling back. No guarantees, but they think they can get out this afternoon. And they ever so softly and kindly suggested that I stop trying to free my car in the meanwhile. "Oh," I said. "You don't want the homeowner making it worse."

Ah, yup. Makes sense. I told them I'll resist poking at it further for as long as I can. Which is why I'm inside writing this post. I knew before I called them that I'd need door service/repairs even if I managed to it working today. That was before I noticed the wire-off-the-pulley problem.

I've left a message for Mark & Priscilla. I may still get there; they may be able to come here.

Further update coming when I have one. I suspect I'll end up getting new garage door openers, too. The ones I have are well over 20 years old and may even be original to the house, which would make them 40. I think it's time, especially if I like the company. So far, I do.
Zeppelin Hangar

The continuing saga of Geri Sullivan, Girl Homeowner and Lawn Mower Abuser

The back story, for those just tuning in:

May 30, 2009: The Very Bad Lawnmower

August 29, 2010: Rock 1: Lawnmower 0

I've been researching lawnmowers online during spare moments over the last couple of weeks. My splendid next door neighbor mowed the lawn here at Toad Woods before I returned from the midwest, but that was 6 weeks ago. The property reverted to looking abandoned and I really did have to do something to correct that.

benyalow helpfully suggested setting a forest fire to burn all the grass. Alas, the GT friends who could manage such a trick while still leaving the Zeppelin Hangar standing are most of a thousand miles away, so I turned my attention instead to the question of whether last summer's decisive battle in the 7- Year Rock War had done in just the blade or the whole engine of The Very Bad Lawnmower.

The first "Geri Sullivan, Girl Homeowner" moment came when I approached the mower with Liquid Wrench and implements of destruction and bolt removal. Squirt, squirt. Bang, bang, bang. (The Liquid Wrench bottle advises that judicious application of hammer to bolt can help in the loosening process.) The adjustable wrench didn't do it, but the Vice Grips were up to the task. Color me competent. I love it when tools are my friend.

Blade in hand, I headed to the Sears store in Auburn. The back-up to get on the Pike was the worst I've ever seen -- don't know what was going on there -- but rather than joining hundreds of cars a half-mile back, I quickly hopped back off onto Hwy 20 and took the back roads east.

At Sears, I opted for a heavy duty replacement blade and also talked with Ken Cardinal, an excellent lawn mower sales guy. If the blade didn't do the trick, I've narrowed my choice down to two rear-wheel drive, variable speed, self-propelled models. (Is key start worth $50? Probably not on my budget, but that doesn't stop the temptation...especially after the adventures that followed once I was back home.)

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Zeppelin Hangar

Remember that tall mound of snow on my deck?

The one that I claimed had a gas grill underneath it?

Well, the snow is gone and now I'm scared to remove the grill cover.

The cover goes over the grill and down to the deck itself. Normally, I can just barely make out the edge heat'n'fire-resistant mat under the grill itself.

I just noticed I can see one of the wheels compliments of a hole gnawed through the cover by some critter or other.

I suspect something larger than mice since mice would have had little problem ducking under the edge of the cover itself. Maybe the three feet of snow on the deck rather hindered that, but I have this feeling that the critter(s) moved into the protected space well before there was even a foot of snow piled up.

The hole is roughly 8 inches wide by 6 inches tall. Maybe that raccoon that took to climbing my back door and scaring the bejeezus out of me by staring me in the eye...from eye level...when I turned on one of the deck lights to investigate the noise? The one who showed every sign of wanting to move into the Zeppelin Hangar itself several months back?

Yes, I know. Anyone who chooses to live in the woods needs to be prepared or at least able to deal with whatever is or was under the grill cover. I'm Geri Sullivan, Girl Homeowner, after all. If nothing else, I can always get a fanzine article out of the adventure. Or an LJ post, at least.
Zeppelin Hangar

Rock 1: Lawn mower 0

My lawn mower blade has hit more than its share of rocks over the past 7 summers. The result is usually a loud sound, sparks, and, occasionally, the engine kicking off. It's always started up again immediately.

Tonight, the rock won big time. I was mowing some weed-ridden sandy soil near the bottom of the drive. *Crunch!* went the lawn mower with a ringing tone, the engine promptly dying. It didn't restart immediately, so I gave it a moment and went looking for the rock. There was a fist-sized lump of quartz lurking in the sand. Dings on multiple sides suggest it's been hit by that lawnmower more than once over the years. Tonight, though, tonight it looks like an entire side was sheared off, revealing a broad expanse of the beauty that is the quartz within. Impressive work for a lawn mower blade.

The mower still didn't want to start, so I started pushing it toward the garage. Huh. It wouldn't push, either. I tipped it up on edge and took a look. One end of the blade is bent at such a steep angle that the mower is resting on it instead of its usual 4 wheels. Impressive work for a rock.

I called it quits for the night, rolling the mower back into the garage on its back two wheels with the front raised high enough for forward movement and then some. I'll try taking some tools to the blade when I'm less sweaty and when it's also less humid outside.

The rock is now in my window box. I don't know that it will stay there, but wherever it ends up, it's going to be outside lawn mower range. Both the rock and the mower have earned that.