Thursday, June 30, 2005

Stringing the CAT 5

Wireless technology is a wonderful thing... if you live in glass houses.

All of our computers WERE downstairs. We decided to leave all the clunky servers and junk downstairs and set up an upstairs spare bedroom as a nook. It started out as "hubby's nook", but then I got tired of sitting in the crappy cement block, unfinished section all the time and decided to set up a nice computer table for myself upstairs in the "nook". Seems a bit more cathartic up there.

All was well, except our throughput sucked. The wireless routers were downstairs, so out throughput averaged around 50, which sucks when you have cable modem.

We spent $100 on a wireless booster. It sucks too. Only get about 70 with it, and that's sporadic.

So, tonight, after hearing hubby complain (once again) about the bandwidth, I said "FINE", grabbed the honking long CAT 5, pulled the crap away from the bed and shoved it down the hole that was drilled for our DirecTV phone line. Strung the cable down into the back room, strung it through the wall where all the DirecTV cables go, looped it over the doors and into the computer room.

We drilled a hole through the closet, into the nook, hooked up a router and now we're back to wired again. Much fast, much better, amazingly fast, I'm exhausted.

The good news for me is that now I can actually put my work laptop on my nifty new computer desk in the nook and work, AND have the powerbook up to chat with the outside world (since my work chat is limited to work people). Plus I have the added bonus of not being crammed downstairs with it on a tiny little plot of available desk space.

It's the little things that make life easier.
BTW: the dogs are being buttheads (as usual).

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Will It Work?

Ok, I'm giving my palm pilot one last shot, and even though I set up the big mondo dayplanner to use... I'm having second thoughts again (yes, again), because it is so honking huge.

I finally got the guts to install the palm desktop crap onto the Powerbook, and then figured out how to get it to sync with iCal and my mac address book. At least now, if I can't have the palm with me, but if I have internet connectivity, I can access everything from the web.

It works pretty nice, although the to do list is kinda clunky. I really did like my flexi soft small dayplanner binder, so... ok, dammit, I'm going back. Yeah, that lasted all of three days. I just can't see carrying that damn thing around with me everywhere I go. What a pain.

Ok, let me go get the small dayplanner back out, put the big one away (I do like writing in it, maybe I'll go back to journalling in that again, that'll last a week too). Sigh. I'll never be happy, never ever ever.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Dayplanner mood

I've pretty much had it with my palm pilot. About a month ago, the on/off switch broke, so I have to hit a button to turn it on, which means if I want to go someplace specific, I have to hit the task button, then navigate to where I want to go. This is getting annoying, especially when I'm looking at something, and it turns off, it means I have to hit the task button, navigate back to where I was.

I found a program that'll turn it off with a stylus stroke, but one of the stylus strokes is near the down button, and I end up shutting it off when I actually want to scroll down, then I have to turn it on and navigate back to where I was.

On top of which, I have to install the palm software on the Powerbook (since I don't use the crappy HP anymore), and I'm sure that'll be an easy feat to get it to work since Palm sucks.

I'm working a task where I can't take it with me at the client site, which means all of my info is trapped where I'm not, so that's inconvenient. Either I keep all of my info on the palm, or on my Powerbook, or I input it into the palm, then into the Powerbook, and I'll spend most of my nights transferring information all the time. Very inconvenient.

So, I'm relying more on my dayplanner. I love my current dayplanner, except for some minor inconveniences, such as the size. Can't write a lot in it, limited space. I write a LOT. I've always been a writer, so having limited space to write is annoying. The lines are too close together, I'm a BIG writer, I don't like everything squished. It's not normal paper sized, so it isn't like I can print out my calendars and to do lists from the Powerbook and slap them in the dayplanner.

I've been contemplated on going back to my "monarch" sized dayplanner (if I can find it). The problem with the "monarch" dayplanner is that its whopping big. One more big thing for me to carry around. It's not like I go a lot of places, it's just that it's very big, but the paper has wider spaced lines, I can print stuff out and slap it in there... sigh.

Yes, I'm a bit neurotic and never happy with stuff because there's always "something" inconvenient about it. I would like to admit now that although I've always considered myself low maintenance, I'm actually high maintenance. I'd like to thank my "career advocate" for pointing that out to me on a trip to Inconvenience-ville... Myrtle Beach when he suffered through a business trip with me and we went to CVS where I bought pens... even though I brought a trailer load of them with me. I am high maintenance.

Guess I'll go dig through some boxes and look for the HUGE dayplanner now, might as well get that disappointment over with.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Shish Ka Bobs are good

Tonight was shish kabob night, and quite tasty they were. I have to admit, I really like the grill now, because my clean up chores consist mainly of tossing the paper plates, and rinsing off the grill tools. Much better than shoving a ton of dirty dishes into the dishwasher.

We went to Lowes tonight and bought "sprinkler hose". It's a flat hose that is suppose to act like a sprinkler system. We wanted it for under the deck so we can get grass to grow there, but we didn't want to completely soak the deck with a sprinkler, so this "sprinkler hose" seemed like the thing to get.

We strung it out, hooked it up, turned on the water, and I've never seen a more depressing gurgle of water in my life. Totally worthless. Looked like some old guy with major prostate problems taking a pee. There's 30 bucks down the drain.

We ended up hand watering it with the crappy sprayer we also bought at Lowes. The dogs were being buttheads, as usual, so they got sprayed a few times. Then they thought it was fun to run back and forth in front of the sprinkler. Now covered in water, they proceeded to power slam each other into the mud, roll around, and chase each other.

We managed to water under the deck, then ended up having to towel off the muddy dogs. So a half hour job turned into about 2 hours (what with the depressing "sprinkler hose" incident, then hand watering, then drying and wiping mud off the dogs).

I've discovered that I can't freakin screw anything on with this messed up thumb, which really pisses me off (action: useless to screw, useless to hold while the other hand screws) I've also learned: don't try to move a shopping cart with the thumb (action: screaming in a supermarket, jumping around shaking hand like loon.)

Ok, gotta set up coffee for the morning and rinse off the grill tools so we can go to bed.

Glad they found that cub scout alive. Pity he'll have to go through life being ridiculed for getting lost 500 feet from camp and ending up 5 miles away. His parents said he didn't have a very good sense of direction. I'd change that to: he has NO sense of direction and needs to be fitted with a GPS tracking device. Perhaps one of those big collar ones they put on bears.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Testing out new Widget

I'm just testing this new mac widget that allows me to post to blogger

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Sunday Already

Where do the weekends go?

We saw Lewis Black last night, funny! He cracks me up. Hubby got a bobblehead doll of him, I got a t-shirt. We had a great time except for trying to get out of the parking lot. I really hate Baltimore.

Saw a moment of kharma happen right in front of us. Some choad decided he was much more important than we were, and literally pushed his car in front of ours to get in our lane. Not more than a minute later, his flashers were on, and steam was pouring out of his hood. Yeah, gotta love that.

Hubby had to go into work today, so I did some mondo yard work. Cleaned all of the branches out of the side yard, threw out some grass seed (after mowing) and lay down that crappy grass cover stuff that was in the back yard until the dogs had a field day ripping it to shreds. Then when hubby got home, I went out back and cleaned out from behind the shed.

The back of the shed was used (for many years) as a place to throw branches and other junk. That seemed like a good place to toss it, as it was gated off from the dogs (who would sneak back there and dig where we couldn't see them). Seemed like a good idea until we found mice, rates (from our neighbor's shed) and the dreaded rat snake in our yard. They were making a nice little home in all the branches and stuff back there.

I went back, fully expecting to be attacked by some wild animal, but they must have heard me coming and ran. Nothing back there but 5 bags of junk. Now its clean, regated, and hopefully will stay clean and critter free.

Despite the fact that said "overcast", it started to rain here. The temperature also dropped to about 60 degrees, which is quite a shock. Hubby went out and braved the drizzle to grill steaks and corn on the cob, which was oh so very tasty. We were a bit disappointed that the steaks we scored at the Pennsylvania Dutch Market were a bit tough. Got better ones at Safeway the other day, so I guess there's no need for us to shlep back to Annapolis just for steaks.

Hubby also connected the wireless booster, so now I can take the PowerBook out on the deck and use it. That's nice! Of course, it's cold and wet out there now, so I'm inside surrounded by sleepy pups.

Another pretty productive weekend I guess. Certainly not ready to go back to work tomorrow, but at least I accomplished a lot this weekend.

Oh, and I discoverd that the county doesn't just come and pick up a bunch of junk. Their bulk trash is only for big items, like fridges and things. I guess I either have to
a.) haul this crap to the dump ourselves
b.) break everything down so it'll fit in garbage bags and put it out 4 bags at a time twice a week
c.) pay someone to come haul it away.

I have an estimate request out, since I'm lazy.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

20050617 Back Door Railing

20050617 Back Door Railing
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
This is the new back door railing.

The old one was connected to NOTHING. Ok, it had some nails holding it in place, but you could pretty much just lift it up and remove it. Needless to say, I can't count the times that we forgot and leaned on it, only to almost tumble onto the concrete below.

Funny thing now is that we avoid even touching this one. We're so use to the old one leaning, falling apart and nearly killing us, that last night hubby lost his balance and windmilled and did just about everything NOT to lean on this one.

It's very sturdy. The crew cut into one of the stairs, sunk a support, concreted it and even put a support board at one end. The other end is bolted into the house and another support is bolted into one of the deck supports. It won't be going anywhere soon.

The pups are exhausted right now. They spent some time on the deck, then had a good run in the yard. It's a lot more exercise than they've gotten in a month of the construction. It's good to see them tired and napping again instead of pacing and full of energy.

Hubby and are also getting a lot more sun, we're actually starting to tan a bit, which after 11 years of hiding in the house is a miracle. That pasty complextion was actually getting tiresome anyway.

This morning we hit a Pennsylvania Dutch store that had a wonderful meat counter and other goodies. We got some steaks for tomorrow and baby back ribs for monday. Today hubby grilled some more brats in a beer, onion, and saurkraut metal container. We're snacking on that as the day goes on. Expecting some friends in a few hours to go see Lewis Black at the Lyric, which should be fun.

Tomorrow is yard work day. We've got so much crap piling up out back, limbs and junk. We also have to prep the dirt and throw out some grass seed on the front yard where the fill dirt was, after I mow it, of course.

Ok, enough rambling.

20050617 Deck Gate

20050617 Deck Gate
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Here is the cool gate that the crew built for us. Very heavy and secure with a locking latch to keep the pups from racing up and down the deck stairs when we don't want them to.

Loki flew up the stairs like a breeze, Meeshka slowly went up the stairs, and Sam is afraid of the stairs, for some reason, but he finally made it up there. Right now they know they lead up to the deck, but haven't figure out that they also go to the yard.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Grill time

Sorry, forgot to take pics again today. I promise I'll do it tomorrow.

Tonight was grill night. The propane tank got delivered around 6, then we had to shoot out to Lowes because we didn't have a grill scraper, and of course found a myriad of other things there while we looked at the grill supplies. We also got a padlock for the gate, which gives us both an incredible peace of mind, knowing that some idiot can't just come and open the gate on us. Of course it had sort of a lock already, but still, having it double locked is comforting.

Now, onto the grilling fest. First of all, hubby and I have never grilled on a propane grill before. I'm a mental case and hate things that could potentially explode. When I was a kid, I had a very vivid dream that I would croak in an explosion and fire, so I pretty much figure that's my destiny, so allowing hubby to buy a large combustable and possibly explosive device was a big leap of faith for me. I stayed inside (close to the phone) while he lit it for the first time. He made one gesture that made me leap toward the phone, but he was actually gesturing that it lit and all was well.

So, we get the burners burning, and they're burning blue, which is a good thing apparently. Yellow flame, sputtering and noise is a bad thing, apparently. We tried bratwurst as our first grilled thing. Later on I read that they're really "juicy", so you need to poke them and pre cook them a tad, which we didn't do, so we ended up with flames shooting out all over, and me leaping around yelling 'IS IT SUPPOSE TO DO THAT??" We've already planned to go out and buy "Grilling for Dummies" to make sure what is going on should go on.

The brats were actually pretty tasty, and I'm not a big brat lover. Definitely better than cooking them in a pan though. I bought some dark spicy mustard to go on them, and either I was starving (it was 10pm before they were cooked and ready), or the grill actually makes a big difference, but they were pretty damn good. Tomorrow is hot dog/hamburger day before we go out to watch Lewis Black rant and rave at the Lyric in Baltimore.

The dogs are really loving the new deck because there are now endless possibilities for slaloming around the support beams. Meeshka has found the nook under the stairs and is slowly making a body impression under the stairs and calling it her hidey hole. She still runs toward where the old stairs were, thinking she can slip under, only to find them gone. I'm sure it won't take long for her to find the new hidey hole in time of need.

I've also discovered that at night, the deck absolutely blocks out all light to the left side of the yard. We'll have to figure out how and where to put the solar flood light soon so they dogs can't go back there and do devious things. It also kinda blocks out the rest of the light, but the dogs still love zooming around the deck in the dark.

Overall, except for not knowing the basic ins and outs of the grill, which I'm sure we'll learn, we love the deck, love the yard, love the gate and fence, and love everything about the construction. It hardly seems like we went through so much to get it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

It's Finally Over!

Sorry, no pics today. It got dark and I forgot.


Whew. Just in time for us to enjoy it while we have our nervous breakdowns.

The crew got here early (hoping to never set foot in our town again probably). They put the new railing up, and boy is that thing sturdy. After years of rickety, falling down railing, I'll probably run into this one thinking it has some give and impale myself. They also put up the new gate at the bottom of the stairs to keep the pups from running up there and causing grief and chaos. It's perfect, very sturdy, and have an easy latch lock on it.

Everything these guys did was well thought out, they took the dogs into consideration and made adjustments accordingly, and the workmanship is just fabulous. For all of our complaining and whining, it was well worth it. Of course I'm sure a lot of people say that. It's easy to look back and think it wasn't so bad, especially when you have a super cool deck to lounge on.

Hubby came home at the end of the work to thank the guys (as i hand them the final check), and then we secured the back gate and freed the puppies for the first time in a month.

They went nuts, sniffing every beam, peeing on every support, checking out the gate (in case we may have left them a way out), then running around with glee. They're still getting use to having a whole yard, and Sammy loves that he has new obstacles to run around to try to get Loki from catching him. So far none of them have run head first into a support, so that's a good thing.

It'll be so nice to just open the door and let them out tomorrow, sit on the stairs and sip a cup of coffee and watch them do their thing. Not having to leash walk each one at a time in my robe. Tomorrow I'm going to try to work outside if the wireless connection will transmit that far. That'll be cool. If not, that's fine too, I'll just take breaks with the puppies. Toss them outside then watch them from the deck in comfort :)

Hubby found a place that will actually deliver propane to your house. We're having a delivery tomorrow, so we'll be grilling tomorrow night. MMMMM grilled food! I can't wait.

Pictures coming tomorrow of the final outcome.

Thank you Colin and Don of Fortress Fence for all of your hard work, your unbelievable skill and craftmanship, sense of humor, and hard work building the perfect deck!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

20050615 Gate

20050615 Gate
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Our cool new gate. The crew installed it so it would swing in, not out. Now if the dogs jump on it, it won't accidently open. It's very solid, and the latch locks two ways, one is a bar that swings down and locks, and then you can put a padlock on the end so it can't be unlocked. Totally cool!

20050615 Deck is DONE!

20050615 Deck is DONE!
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Here is the cool privacy fence area they did for us too.

20050615 Deck 3 Starburst

20050615 Deck 3 Starburst
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
This is the cool pattern the crew put on our starburst pattern, totally cool!

20050615 Grill

20050615 Grill
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Hubby posing with his new grill!

20050615 Table

20050615 Table
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Our new deck table, chairs and umbrella. Comfy!

20050615 Dogs getting to know the deck

Here are the dogs getting to know the deck. One of them immediately peed on the door leading to the kitchen, of course.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

20050614 Deck sunburst view

20050614 Deck sunburst view
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Today was suppose to be the big finish day!

The crew was making excellent progress. They had finished putting in the railing on both sides, set up the privacy railing area, and were about to nail on the railing tops... when their special nail gun broke.

The special nail gun is used on the composit wood (which is what the top part of our railing will be) so they couldn't finish the deck today, and they were mad (don't blame them, they're now three days behind schedule, and other people wanting decks are screaming at them).

20050614 Where's my Gate?

20050614 Where's my Gate?
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Since the special nail gun broke, they decided to replace the fence and gate. We contracted to even out a part of our fence, and put in a better, more secure gate (with a locking handle, as the old one didn't have that). We also wanted the gate to be wider so we could fit a riding lawn mower through it. They got as far as doing the sides, and then quit for the day. They were nice enough to put the lattice up to block the opening, but since they aren't husky savvy, had no idea that something that delicate would be shredded by the beasts in no time, and we'd be hauling down the street after them.

We're stuck leash walking them until the gate is up. In the heat. Humidity... 4 huskies. This is fun.

20050614 Where's my Railing?

20050614 Where's my Railing?
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Another contracted job was to remove the old railing and put a new one up that matched the deck. They ripped the old railing down (which was pretty much just nailed into concrete and not sturdy at all) and discovered that the reason it was put in like that is because there's no easy way to secure a railing to the piece of crap concrete around the back entrance.

The lead guy has some ideas. Frankly, we told him if it was secure, within code and reasonably non-ugly, nobody would notice as they would be too busy gazing at the beauty of the deck.

So, deck not done, gate gone, railing gone, leash walking 4 huskies in the heat and humidity... Priceless.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Lack of Common Sense Gene Alert

I felt compelled to take some time off from posting about the deck building and home improvement woes because of this article in the news today:

"The mother of a 12-year-old boy killed in his own home by one of the family's two pit bulls said she had been so concerned about one of the dogs that she shut her son in the basement to protect him.
Maureen Faibish said she ordered Nicholas to stay in the basement while she did errands on June 3, the day he was attacked by one or both of the dogs. She said she was worried about the male dog, Rex, who was acting possessive because the female, Ella, was in heat.
"I put him down there, with a shovel on the door,'' Faibish told the San Francisco Chronicle. "And I told him: 'Stay down there until I come back.' Typical Nicky, he wouldn't listen to me.''
Nicholas apparently found a way to open the basement door.
Faibish said she felt compelled to call the Chronicle Saturday to defend herself against widespread public outrage directed at families with children who own pit bulls."

A.) If she were concerned about her child's safety, she should have removed the dogs from the house.
B.) If she couldn't remove the dogs from the house and secure them safely, should she have not locked the DOGS in the basement, not her 12 year old son? Locked her kid in the basement and shoved a shovel under the door handle? What if the place caught on fire?
C.) Why couldn't she take her son with her while she was "running errands" if she was so concerned about his safety?

Most of us with common sense would have already had the dogs spayed and neutered at 6 months of age.
Most of us with common sense would have taken the child with us when we ran errands, and if there was a shred of doubt as to the safety of the boy, enough so to LOCK HIM IN A BASEMENT, we would have sought means to protect the child by either removing the dogs from the house, or seeking a behaviorist to stop the behavior in the dogs, like having them spayed and neutered.

For her to "defend" her actions, just shows what a negligent moron she is. Sad that her child had to pay for her stupidity, sad that the dogs paid as well.

I hope that I (and a few of my friends) aren't the only ones to see through this woman's guise to evade punishment for allowing her son to be killed these dogs. Her admitting that they were showing aggressive behavior demonstrates that she knew they were aggressive and did NOTHING but lock her son in a basement to prevent this from happening.

Shame on her, and shame on those who don't punish her for her neglect.

20050613 Starburst

20050613 Starburst
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Here is the stairburst from the outside, with more of the railing (at the platform for the stairs. Heee, it's really cool.

Tomorrow the crew is coming to finish up everything, and we'll do a walk through to make sure everything is the way it should. They'll be putting up the two privacy railings on either side nearest the doors (to keep our deck a little private, and also because the one side is close to the fence, we don't want the dogs to leap off trying to get over the fence). Then the railing caps will get put on and that should be about it, other than the guys digging the trench for our drainspout :)

20050613 Stairs

20050613 Stairs
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
This is the back side of the stairs. I just thought it was neat how they made them. It's got a spine down the middle to help support. Unlike the old deck, which just had boards nailed in, this thing is pretty sturdy and has kickplates on the back so the dogs won't slip and break their legs (like what almost happened on the old deck once).

20050613 railing again

20050613 railing
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Here is the starburst pattern they put into one of the sections. It looks so cool. That's hubby taking pics for his blog site. After having the rickety old deck for so long, it's amazing how sturdy this is. The dogs won't be able to stick their heads (let alone half their bodies) through these rails!

20050613 Railings

20050613 Railings
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
More progress today. The deck crew ran out of supplies and had to go get more, but they got most of the railing done, and geesh is it NICE!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

"We're on our way to deliver your bath tub"

That's the call we got from Lowes at 9am this morning.
Bath tub? No, you're suppose to be delivering our grill.
Oh, yeah, right... a grill... ok, it'll be there soon.

Noon rolls around, we've moved almost all of the fill dirt into the back yard, and have created trenches with rock in them for drainage.

3pm rolls around and one of hubby's friends stops by to help with the rest of the dirt. I call Lowes. The guy that finally answers says "I don't know where the truck is, so it'll get delivered in a few hours probably". I love that certainty, love that exact science of delivery times. Soon, and a few hours.

4pm rolls around, we're done, cleaned up the back yard, and have let the dogs out to stretch their legs a bit. We had planned on going to Outback for tasty foods when we got done, but here we are, waiting around for the grill delivery. Just as we're about to give up our plans for tasty foods, I hear the air brakes of a large truck. It's here.

While I stood out back guarding the barrier from the ever nosy Gazelle Meeshka, they loaded the grill into the house. Actually had to carry it with straps because there was no place to grab and carry it. But, it's here, the grill is actually here, and now sitting in our living room. It looks much smaller in the house for some reason.

We did the dance of grill happiness, then went to Outback and ate way too much, then stopped for tasty ice cream on the way home.

We're about to go to bed, we're very tired, and full, and tired, and its Monday tomorrow. The weekend went way too fast.

20050612 Grill

20050612 Grill
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Our "bath tub"

Saturday, June 11, 2005

20050611 Side of stairs

20050611 Side of stairs
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Here are the deck stairs. The crew came out (Saturday), and finished up nailing all the decking to the deck, then built the stairs. There's another picture below this write up.

It was pretty cool watching them build the stairs, I never could do something like that, very sturdy, and oh so cool. I'll take a pic of the back of the stairs because it's really neat how they made them.

Meeshka will be oh so happy because she'll have a place to hide under the stairs again, and this time, there are kick plates, so us evil owners can't reach through and push her out when she's trying to hide.

While the deck crew was building the stairs, we continued our top soil building. We managed to get a good 5 inches of depth under the stair area before they built the stairs, so now the stairs are at the right level. While the deck guys built, we hauled more top soil and filled in more of the slope. We ordered pizza for everyone, but after that, we all were pretty sleepy, so that was a mistake. 900 degrees, pizza, full stomachs, not a lot of motivation.

Monday the deck crew is coming out to do the railings and finish the job. We can't wait! It's HUGE and pretty, and very sturdy, compared to our old piece of crap deck. We keep looking at it in awe.

Tomorrow we'll be filling in a section with more top soil and adding a drainage ditch. After the deck crew finished up, we showered, and went to Home Depot for rocks, and landscaper cloth (to kill the evil weeds), then over to Petsmart because the dogs were out of food (and that's not a good thing), then to Safeway for steaks and baking potatoes for us. It would be nice to grill the steaks, but the grill delivery isn't until tomorrow (we hope), and the railing won't be on until Monday, so we plan on having a grill christening Tuesday.

We're both exhausted, sore, blech.
The dogs are antsy, they want to go out in the yard to play, but they're still restricted to a portion of the yard, and Meeshka is restricted to leash when they're all out there. She keeps showing off and jumping over the barrier when they're all out there. If she's by herself, she doesn't feel the need to show off, so we've been letting them out one at a time.

I'm hoping that 600mg of motrin will kick in. Arms are sore, thumb hurts and is the size of a softball, but I'm sure we'll sleep REALLY good tonight.

Love those stairs.

We Have STAIRS!!!

20050611 Stairs
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Here are our deck stairs. PRETTY!

Friday, June 10, 2005

20050610 Update

No pictures today... because no deck people showed up. harumpf. They mentioned something about working this weekend, but they also said "See ya tomorrow" on Thursday. Who knows. It was 900 degrees out, with a mere 584% humidity, so its not like I blame them, but I don't see myself going "gosh it's hot, I'll stay home from work today."

The fill dirt was delivered, and we're running out of spots to park the trucks. Driveway is taken up with decking and deck support materials, front yard where I've been parking the RAV is now filled with a pile of top soil. Our front yard looks like a construction zone, I'm sure the neighbors love that.

The tree guy came. Apparently the ADC map people were smoking crack when they wrote their latest addition of our area. They have our street waaaay down the street, not where it actually is. I can't count the times I've had to tell people, "no, not there, turn around and come back". I've never heard of a street called "Jason's Landing", but one of these days I'll go visit if I can find it.

The good news is that the trees are relatively healthy, they've just gotten so big and dense that they're fighting for sunlight, so the inner branches are dying. All we have to do is have them pruned, and one tree needs to be cabled, because there are two trees growing out of one spot and there's a good chance one will split and fall over. He gave us a rough estimate of $1,600 to do all 5 trees. CHA CHING!

Which isn't a problem, except... I HATE QUICKEN!

Ever since I converted the data from Windows to Mac, it's told me that my balance is off, so now I'm not exactly sure what my balance is. It seems to match somewhat with what the bank says at the time, but it's maddening. I reconcile and it says that everything matches, but I'm like a grand off somewhere. How could that be? A grand? So I tried to go back and re-reconcile, but that's a huge pain. You can't globally unreconcile stuff, you have to do it one at a time, then it asks you "are you sure?" duh. Then I re-reconciled from a few months back, now it says I'm THREE GRAND off. ARGH!!! Did something get botched in the conversion? Is it insane? Who knows!!! So I have to deal with that this weekend. I'm about ready to just go back to pencil and check book register at this point. Annoying piece of crap software.

Hubby gets home around 5'ish, and since no deck work, we decide we have time to throw down some top soil to raise up the part where the stairs will go (which was the original purpose of this whole fill dirt fiasco). We change and go out (remember, it's now 938 degrees, with 6979% humidity and mosquitos as big as eagles).

6,000 wheelbarrows full later... we barely make an inch of new dirt (at least that's what hubby thinks), and it's getting dark so we give up. I can barely lift my arms.

Meeshka has discovered that if she gets enough speed going, she can propel her bulk over the 4 foot plastic fence. Earlier in the week she tried the steamroll through the fencing, but that was apparently painful. Now she gives us that look (and would extend her middle finger if she could), then races toward the fence and heaves herself over. Once over, she does the happy husky dance of "f you", then sniffs and regales in the glory, as the other dogs complain how unfair it is. Hubby carried her back the first time. The look on her face was priceless, but he didn't think it was funny when I asked him to just hold her 60lb bulk until I ran up and got the camera. The second time I went to that side and told her to get her Shmoo butt inside, which she did, grinning the whole way.

Hubby announced that from now on, she only goes out on a leash. That'll last all of the first time they need to go out and I hold up the leash for him to walk her. sigh.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The left side of the deck

The left side of the deck
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
The decking is on!!!!

This is the left side of the deck, you can sorta see the bump out and the platform where the stairs will be.

The thing is just too huge to photograph, I'll post the exact measurements one of these days. You can click on the pic and see the others in flickr if you want.

The guys were here until 5pm working on it, and they said that barring bad weather, they hoped to get it done tomorrow, but would probably work the weekend until it was done... so cool!!

That means IF the grill gets delivered on Sunday, we may be able to actually try it out! YUMMY!

oh, there is that whole putting the lawn furniture together thing, but hell, it'll all be worth it when I'm sitting out on the deck with my powerbook and blogging from the comfort of a comfy deck chair :)

Happy dance, happy dance!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

20050608 Deck Progress

20050608 Deck Progress
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Not a whole lot done today, as one of the crew called out sick, so the other two did what they could.

The bump out supports are up, and the supports for the stairs are up. The lead guy says he has about 20 minutes of work left putting boards up on the one bump out and then they can begin decking... except the decking didn't show up today like it was suppose to. What's new?

The big, black tube is the drainage from our downspout. The old downspout got cut in pieces when they first crew dug the first set of holes (in the wrong places), so we've thrown up another drainage tube until the deck gets done and we can bury it.

Just when I thought things were going well... see next edition.

20050608 Decking

20050608 Decking
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
No, it wasn't a bad thing that happened (for a change), the decking arrived around 4:30pm today (yipeee). One board was broken, so they're bringing a replacement board tomorrow, but isn't it PRETTY!

It's Weatherbest "Western Redwood", very pretty!
Doesn't seem like enough to cover the deck, but I'm spacially challenged, so what do I know.

Got a call from the tree trimming place this afternoon, he's coming out to tell me whether our trees are terminal and need to be cut down. I have a sneaking suspicion that at least one will have to come down. I was taking a closer look at it today and except for a few branches near the top, it looks pretty dead. It's also leaning toward the house. The LAST thing I want is to get the deck done and have a stupid tree fall on it.

Our side yard (I'll snap a pic and post it if I don't run out of upload space on Flickr) is a mud pit from Monday's rain storm. We still have topsoil coming in on friday, so some of that may get used to elevate the yard some more in that area.

Since the crew member was sick and the decking didn't get here until later, our crew chief said he'd probably finish up monday. That would be a good thing if he did the stairs last and on Monday because that would give us time to move the topsoil to where the stairs would be to raise it up a bit and make it more level. We plan on raising the whole front of the yard, but after the stairs are put in, that means wherever the stairs are, that's where they'll be (hard to explain).

So, making some progress, got the decking (always a good sign), Topsoil coming Friday, Tree guy coming friday to tell me I have to sell a kidney or else a tree will smite our new deck, Grill coming Sunday (I'll believe that when I see it), and maybe, just maybe we'll have barbecue central next weekend :)

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

20050607 New Structure

20050607 New Structure
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
Here's the work they did today.
Almost the entire deck is framed. They had to dig two more support holes for the extensions on both sides, so they'll finish that up tomorrow. They also said that the decking will arrive tomorrow and the decking will be installed tomorrow (I'll believe it when I see it). They put the support for the stair platform on also, so that was exciting to see.

It's going to be a big deck, and frankly, I'm glad they started over, because this version looks more secure, better put together, and just wonderful. Of course after a month of woe, pipe cleaners and balsa wood would look wonderful as long as it was done.

They've filled in most of the support holes, so that side of the yard is looking less crater damaged. We did have a lot of run off from last night's rain, so where there are holes in the concrete, there's hardly any dirt left under the concrete. I figure I'd just get some bags of crete and dump them down in the spaces and let it set from all the water that's in there.

20050606 Holes

20050606 Holes
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
so, here is the deck progress as of yesterday.

They dug new holes and poured concrete into them, and that's about all they could do until the concrete set.

So, since they dug new holes, invariably, we had a horrible thunder/lightening storm. Meeshka was her usual frantic self, clawing us, trying to crawl under us each time a thunderclap went off.

The weather alarm went off and pronounced 70mph winds with the storm (lovely), and they didn't mention the buckets of rain that would come with those winds.

Hubby checked the back and pronounced that we were going to "collapse". Um, the whole house? He was afraid that with all the water rushing through the bottom of our back porch entryway, the retaining wall was all but gone (its a lot sturdier than he thinks). He also announced that so much water was running in, that the drain wasn't keeping up with it.

We have a drain cover, which pretty much does that... cover the drain hole. In 11 years I've just learned to pull it off and let the water run in, so I went out to do that and found water seeping quickly in under our back door. AAAH, stop it before it gets to the water detector!!!

I threw some dirty towels on the water, swung open the door (as lightening flashed close by), shoved my hand in the water and pulled the drain cover off, and the level immediately started to recede (whew). Of course now water was gushing into the sump hole faster than the sump could dump it out, but hey, progress.

Hours later, and by now my arm looks like hamburger from Meeshka freaking out and clawing me, the rain finally stopped, the sump caught up, and life was good again... except it continued to thunder throughout the night, which Meeshka woke us up to announce.

We didn't get a lot of sleep.

First thing in the morning, the first thing the deck guys said when they saw the carnage was "oh my gawd."

I agree.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Loki Cushy Hoarder and The Grill Saga Continues

Loki Cushy Hoarder
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
This morning Loki latched onto a pair of my shorts to use as a pillow. He's a cushy hoarder in recovery. He used to drag pillows, towels, clothes, socks, you name it into a pile every morning and nap on it. We've gotten him down to one item per day, although it was handy at times because he would "gather" the laundry for me.

The Grill Saga Continues

Ok, so the Lowes person didn't call me back today (what a shock) to let me know what she found out about our grill. We drove there (how convenient), got ahold of the manager (the woman that I called yesterday), and she just THEN starts to look into it again.

No luck on the computer at all, so she writes the model number down and tells a salesguy to go see if there are any in stock, and if not, then if any higher end model is in stock. We didn't have the heart to tell her that we bought the highest end model they had in the store.

All they had left was a store model, which she assured us was put together only two days ago. She told us to go check it out, and if it was acceptable to us, they would deliver that one.

We go and look at it. Everything seemed fine, except the smoke box was missing. The salesguy goes off to look for the smoke box, and while we stood there waiting, another salesman sauntered up and asked if we had any questions. Um... where's the grill we bought?

We explain (the short version) and ask him if he knows where the smoker box for the floor model is. He said that what usually happens is that if one of them is damaged, they'll take the ones out of the floor display to use, yea and verily there was no spares.

ANOTHER salesguy comes up to us (having been handed off by the first salesguy) and pronounces that the floor model was the last one, take it or leave it. Hubby steps in front of me, as I have that "look", just as the first salesguy comes walking down the aisle with OUR grill. It had been in the back room all this time without a tag on it.

Ok, you mean to tell me that Manager type didn't even bother to LOOK in the back for it? All this time she's looking for it on a computer, and all she had to do was WALK to the back and see it?

Ugh. Whatever, we hugged the grill. They asked us to step over to Customer Service again, but we weren't leaving the grill unguarded, so we drug it along with us.

Manager type does some stuff on the cash register, finally hands us like 4 slips of reciepts and explains that she voided out the one for the credit card, made a new one for cash and took off the delivery and assembly charge, but it all added up to the same amount and we should bow down and thank her because now if we had a problem with the grill we'd get cash back instead of a store credit.

Huh? Ok, three visits to the store to schedule the grill delivery, fix what they messed up, and we get NOTHING for our trouble except having it delivered FINALLY on next Sunday? What, no free grill tool kit? No scraper? No handy dandy grill thing? Not even a paint stirrer? NOTHING? We're suppose to dance out of the store because if the grill is messed up we can get cash instead of credit on our credit card?

Not a happy Lowes customer at all right now. A token of apology, a 30 buck gift card, anything... but no. All that struggle, pain and suffering, and all we got was what we bought.

Seems a bit unfair to me. What would compel me to even try to have anything delivered from that store again. For that matter, every time I've tried the in-store purchase thing, I've ended up walking back to the shelf and picking it up and standing in line at customer service. That's convenient.

I'm very glad I cancelled the Lowes card when we paid them off. I was going to keep it for emergencies, but holy crap, if it takes three visits and three deliveries to get whatever it is I bought, I'll just do without if something breaks at this point.

There is no "service" in customer service any more.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Just one more thing

On top of the lack o' deck, the missing grill, and the myriad of other things going on, as I walked into my kitchen this afternoon, I saw something falling out back.

HUGE dead tree branch comes crashing out of the sky, hits our fence, rips off the top of one picket (haven't checked to see if there's more damage yet) and crashes to the ground.

I should have just stayed in bed.

Oh, did I mention that they're calling for rain all next week?

Deck Furniture Delivery

Deck Furniture
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
So, the continuing saga of woe.

This morning our deck salesperson calls to tell us that he's no longer with the company. Lovely. On top of having to start over, now the salespeople are leaving. It bodes well, doesn't it?

Then Lowes calls to say they are on their way with our deck furniture and grill. The above picture is of the deck furniture, but what is missing?

Why yes, there is no grill. They didn't have one on their truck, and there wasn't one listed on the list of things they had. So, I call Lowes. Two people later, I'm trasferred to a phone that rings for five minutes straight. Call back, get another person who transfers me to another person who takes my number and promises to look into it and call me back.

An hour later, I call again and ask for that person. I'm being very nice about this whole thing. Things have now gone from the surreal, to the absolute ridiculous at this point. Deck partially built, then tore down, torrential downpours, grill AWOL.

The person I talk to is very nice, and very happy that I'm not the screaming banshee on the outside that I actually am on the inside. It is a mystery. The grill, although listed in the stuff that we bought, is nowhere to be found. I say check the house of the first guy that tried to deliver it and see if he's not firing it up to have some burgers.

So, I'm told that she will call me tomorrow once she's talked to someone else who apparently holds the knowledge of all grills lost in limbo. I hold out very little hope of ever getting it at this point.

I'm glad we postponed the delivery of top soil again because of the rain, because next week was looking to be relaxing and productive for me. Now I have to (once again) deal with a grill delivery, MAYBE the deck will be done, and a load of fill dirt.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

20050602 Deck

20050602 Deck
Originally uploaded by Shmoomeema.
So, here's the progress on the deck as of today.

Yes, you are seeing correctly, where there once were supports, now there is nothing. After two days of nobody showing up because of other "emergencies" another crew came out and discovered (as hubby and I thought) that the holes weren't in the right place.

The whole thing got torn down, more stuff loaded into our yard, and a promise that this foreman would stay on the job until it was done, and done right.

Ok, it's getting very tedius, dealing with the construction, the weather, the dogs, the barrier (which Meeshka decided wasn't going to hold her back tonight, so she barrelled right through it and played among the holes in the ground), and frankly, I just want my yard back, I want a deck, but this is getting ridiculous.

So, it's going to rain tomorrow, so no work. Sometime in the near future (hopefully) they'll come out, dig more holes, pour more concrete, and maybe, just maybe we'll have a deck by next friday.

Tomorrrow, the grill, furniture, and fill dirt are coming (oh joy). We measured the grill, it'll fit through the kitchen door, so it's going into the living room (our first piece of furniture up there), along with the deck furniture, and the fill dirt will go somewhere in the front yard, I could care less at this point.