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New freezer - ugh

March 20th, 2022 at 01:44 am

DW went down to get the laundry on Thursday and the freezer was beeping which generally means we left the door open... except the door was closed. So the temp was too high for some reason. She opened it and things were still frozen but a couple of things weren't as solid as they should be. I told her to just crank up the temp setting and leave it be (I was at work).

Of course, that didn't solve the problem. We moved some stuff into the upstairs freezer and the little freezer in the bar fridge but we will end up having to trash a bunch of stuff ($$).

I went online today to shop for a new one. Found one I wanted at Lowe's but the website showed it wouldn't be available until September. Fortunately, I knew that the website isn't always accurate, so I took a ride over to their nearest store. They didn't have one but their system showed that another area store did. I went there and sure enough they had one in stock.

I bought it right away. I even signed up for Lowe's credit card because it saved me $100. The soonest they can deliver is Wednesday but we're fine without it until then.

Just $700 we weren't expecting to be spending plus the cost of replacing the food that we lost.

It's always something.

New bed, Chili, and ebay update

March 5th, 2022 at 09:07 pm

We did something today that we haven't done for 25 years - bought a new bed. DW has been wanting a new mattress for ages but I've put it off because I'm cheap and sleep just fine on the one we have. However since she hurt her back in October, she hasn't been able to sleep in bed. She just can't get comfortable and it doesn't give her enough support. She's been sleeping downstairs on the loveseat propped up with pillows. Not a good long term solution. We were hoping she'd be better by now but since she's not, it was time to go another route.

She did a bunch of research and decided on a hybrid memory foam/spring mattress. The main thing would be an adjustable base so she could raise the head of the bed rather than propping up on pillows. Honestly, I'll like that too as watching TV in bed or even doing stuff on my phone means propping up awkwardly which tends to hurt my neck.

We headed off to a local shop today. They were still running their Presidents Day sale. We tried several options and agreed on one and placed the order. It should be delivered on Tuesday. We got split twin XLs since we have a king bed but need to be able to adjust them independently so she can sleep propped up and I can sleep flat. Of course, that raised the price, but it's the only workable solution.

After lunch, I made a pot of chili as we were out. That will be dinner tonight and 5 containers went into the freezer.

Ebay has been busy. I'm up to 82 active listings. My 90-day sales total is $1,039. My current goal is to make at least $200/mo after expenses and YTD I'm already at $505 so I should have no trouble passing $600 before the end of March. I already have $21 in bids right now.

Although the primary goal is to clear out the basement and garage, I've also started going to estate sales, being very selective in what I buy to resell. Two weeks ago, I went to my first one and bought 6 items for $14. I've already sold 2 for $40. Thursday I went to one and spent $3 for one item which I sold last night for $25. Not a bad track record so far.


Update on settling my cousin's affairs

June 6th, 2021 at 02:05 am

I realized I haven't made a post since I arrived in Florida. I did leave a week ago Tuesday and arrived Wednesday evening. I had a nice drive down and even got to detour in North Carolina to visit my cousins who just moved there a couple weeks earlier from Connecticut. I got to see their new house and have dinner with them.

Since arriving, I've been working every day to clean out the house. I've taken out 7 or 8 bags of trash, about 6 bins of paper for recycling, and packed 10 cartons of documents to be shredded. I've also sold his tool chest, tool boxes, and most of the tools, a mini bike, and just tonight sold his floor jack on Marketplace. Oh and I've taken half a dozen boxes of stuff to the thrift shop along with 6 garbage bags of clothing plus several suits and some assorted loose items.

I think I'm pretty much done with the debulking. I've been through every drawer, cabinet, closet, and file. Although it's been time consuming, that was the relatively easy part as it didn't involve too much in the way of personal or sentimental stuff.

Now I'm getting to the harder part with the more personal items. A lot of that will end up being transported home with me. There are a bunch of things that need to either be sold or donated. I'm sure I'll do a mix of both. I'll need to decide what to do with furniture - sell or donate. I'll probably at least try to sell some of it and if I don't get any bites fairly quickly, I'll give it away. There is a large local thrift shop that will pick it up.

I'm not sure how long I'm staying. I finally got the death certificate on Friday and have an appointment with the lawyer on Monday to start the probate process. I'm not sure all that's involved with that or whether or not I need to physically be here to do anything.

There are 2 cars, one antique and one regular, that need to be sold. I've been doing some word of mouth advertising for the antique but if nothing comes of it in the next couple of days, I need to actually start listing that at a few sites. The regular car will be no problem as I'll probably go to Carmax, Carvana, and the dealership and take the highest offer. I don't want to get rid of the car until we're pretty much done as we may need it to get around if I drive home and fly back.

I guess that pretty much sums it up for now.

Beginning to deal with cousin's estate

May 23rd, 2021 at 07:03 pm

Now that the funeral is behind us, it's time to start dealing with everything needed to settle his estate. I'm expecting to leave for Florida Tuesday morning and get there Wednesday night (I'm driving).

Until I have death certificates, I can't address any of the financial stuff, so I'll start cleaning out the house, getting rid of trash, shredding unneeded papers, donating clothing and other items, etc. Once I have the certificates, I can start closing credit cards and bank accounts and getting assets transferred into my name. I will schedule a meeting with his attorney and give his financial advisor a call. I've already spoken to both of them. The advisor manages his retirement accounts and I'm the beneficiary so that stuff should be simple. No probate needed. Other stuff has to go through probate.

I got the first tiny piece of the inheritance - he had $85 cash in his wallet. Woo hoo.

Also in his wallet are two gift cards that they get as part of their HOA dues in his community. They are good at the clubhouse cafe (which has been closed for COVID) and at one local restaurant. I checked the balances and between the two of them, there's over $190 credit. I guess I know where I'll be eating regularly when I get down there.

I have a lot of work ahead of me and I'm sure some of it will be emotionally difficult, especially dealing with some of the more personal items, but I'll work my way through day by day. I'll be there by myself so I won't really have any distractions. I figure in the mornings, I'll start in the garage and crawlspace before the temperature heats up for the day. Once it's too warm, I'll focus on the inside stuff - clothing, kitchen, home office files, etc. The thrift shop where everything will be donated is just a few minutes away so I'm sure I'll be making multiple trips there. They will pick up but I'll save that for big items like furniture. I'm certainly capable of hauling bags of clothing and small household items over there myself, plus it will give me a reason to get out.

I suspect I'll be blogging more going forward so I'll update as I have new info.

General updates - home, family, work

May 5th, 2021 at 06:49 pm

Home: We haven't needed to do the plumbing repair I mentioned previously. Actually the pipe doesn't seem to be leaking anymore. I know sometimes when you first repair a pipe it takes a couple of days for everything to settle and there can still be a slight drip until it does. So far, so good.

However, we were waiting for a siding contractor to come out and repair a minor issue on the side of our garage. Well, that took a bit too long. Friday night there was a bad windstorm and it ripped about 1/3 of the siding off the wall. We were out of town but I was able to get a friend to come over, clean up the mess, and drive in a few nails to stabilize the remaining siding. Now we're waiting for the siding guy to come out and replace the whole wall.

The reason we were away last week is that we were in Florida visiting/helping my cousin who is dying. He is not doing well and will probably pass relatively soon. We got home care started to go along with hospice which I had set up when I was there in February. We came home on Sunday but we're already talking about having my wife go back down and stay there until the end whenever that may be. Once he dies, I'm going to take a leave of absence for a couple of months to clean out and sell the house and settle his affairs.

Work is going okay. The site where I work is closing at the end of the month and I will be moving to a new location. I'm not thrilled about that but it does have some advantages. The biggest one is that I'll be at a 2 provider site instead of working alone. That will be a nice change. And a lot of days, I'll end up seeing fewer patients. The new site is busier but not more than twice as busy as my current site. So for example, I might see 26 patients in a day while they see 42, meaning each provider sees about 21. And it's just nice to not be alone and actually be able to take a 10 minute break for lunch or dinner instead of having to squeeze something in between patients. I'll start at the new site on May 31.

Not too much else happening. A number of things are kind of in a holding pattern pending my cousin passing. Both personal plans and financial stuff (I'll be getting an inheritance when he dies).

So that's about it for now.

Small home repair, which will lead to much bigger one

April 21st, 2021 at 02:03 am

I was just reading another blog post about homes being money pits. I completely agree.

On Saturday, I was cleaning the drain in our bathroom sink, something I've done dozens of times. This time, when I was done and stepped away, I saw a stream of water coming from the drain pipe. A closer look revealed a small hole in the pipe. I grabbed a bucket and sopped up the water with a towel and put a call into our handyman. He said he could come on Monday.

He did come and fixed it, but his fix is less than perfect. There is now a very tiny bit of water leaking at the end of the pipe that he installed. There also seems to be a tiny bit coming from the cold water shutoff valve. The pipes are all quite old so I'm not surprised.

Bottom line is we're really going to need to have a plumber come out and replace everything going to and from that sink. Of course, when they built houses years ago they often didn't install shutoff valves or even access panels. Replacing the plumbing will mean cutting through the closet wall to access the pipes leading to the bathroom, turning off the water to the whole house, installing shutoff valves, then doing the actual plumbing work in the bathroom. I have no idea what that will all cost but I'm sure it won't be cheap. Yay.

Mid-March check in

March 13th, 2021 at 03:53 pm

We're almost halfway through the month so I thought I'd post a quick update.

Our federal tax refund arrived on Wednesday. $518, so not a huge amount but I'll take it. Our state refund is bigger - $3,000 - but that always takes longer.

We aren't eligible for stimulus money but our daughter is, so that's nice for her. She is also due federal and state refunds. She filed last week so should have that money soon.

I sold the JETS shares I bought after last March's crash. I made an 81% profit which was nice. I'm still holding the AAL I bought but will probably sell it this week. It's at its 52-week high and I want to trim our stock allocation anyway.

DW gets her 2nd vaccine on Tuesday. Once we're both fully vaccinated, we may consider returning to indoor dining. One nice thing is that we will no longer need to wear masks to visit my mom since she had both of her shots already.

My cousin with cancer is doing okay. Things seem stable at the moment. He is on hospice service now which is good since he lives alone and we're 1,200 miles away. We're glad to know someone is checking in on him regularly. He also just started getting Meals on Wheels. He's had a couple of them so far and says they're very good. He really isn't a cook so having those on hand for an easy, balanced, nutritious dinner is great.

I've got PTO coming up starting 3/20. We were supposed to be in Florida that week but the event got cancelled due to COVID. No big plans, though DW and I were talking about tearing up the carpet in our bedroom so we'll probably do that. I'm hoping the floor isn't in too bad of a shape when we do.

The siding on the wall of our garage is coming loose. I contacted a couple of contracters to come out and take a look. Both are backed up for weeks so hopefully it doesn't get worse before one of them is able to get to us.

Otherwise, we're plugging along. I was spending a lot of time playing with retirement calculators and figuring out where we stand. I've pretty much determined that once my cousin is gone and his estate is settled, I should be good to drop down to part time. Right now, I'm figuring on remaining full time through the end of 2022 and maybe transitioning at that point. We shall see how it all plays out. How the market performs is a factor, too.

I hope everyone has a great weekend.

Anything that can go wrong....

December 8th, 2020 at 08:21 pm

We're having one of those days here.

My wife started getting more serious about her sewing business a couple of months ago. She updated her website. We had a friend design a new logo. I then designed and we had printed business cards. I also printed hang tags to put on her items. She reconnected with a shop owner who is selling her items on consignment, and she has already sold a bunch of things. That's all good.

Today, my task was to update the hang tags with a different email address. In the process of doing so, I suddenly realized that on everything we had done so far, a word was misspelled. Ugh. Business cards. Hang tags. Some product labels. All wrong. Several people had reviewed those designs multiple times and somehow none of us had noticed the mistake until I caught it today.

So now my job is to fix it all. Our friend is going to fix the logo. Then I'll use that to fix the hang tags and we'll have to order new business cards. Fortunately, I printed the hang tags myself in small batches and we got the business cards online for about $20. So not a big financial loss but a huge pain in the butt.

Oh, and one more thing. My wife went to cut some fabric on her Cricut and apparently chose the wrong setting which resulted in the machine cutting through the cutting mat.

I hope you're all having a better day.

Hurricane aftermath

August 5th, 2020 at 11:49 pm

Hurricane Isaias came through our area yesterday morning. Heavy rain and high winds. Other than a little water in the basement, we thought we had made out okay. And then around 12:30pm, after the rain had stopped and the sky was actually clearing, the power went out. It's now 7:40pm the next day, so 31 hours later, and the power is still out.

We were able to spend last night at home. Fortunately, it wasn't terribly hot so even without AC, it only got up to about 75 in the house.

Still no power this morning but DD and I both had to work so off we went. DW stayed home except for running out to get some breakfast since there wasn't really anything she could have at home.

When I got home, I picked up some lunch, and we were debating what to do. It was hot today so the temp in the house was up to about 85. We knew we wouldn't be able to stay in the house if the power didn't come back.

Once DD came home, we decided pretty soon after to book a hotel room and head out. There was no sign that the power would be back anytime soon and it was pretty oppressive in the house. DD is also in the middle of a big project that she needs internet access for.

So we're all settled in at the hotel. Lights, AC, Wifi, all the amenities we need. We ordered takeout for dinner. The hotel is right down the street from my office so I'll be at work in 5 minutes in the morning. And it's about the same distance from DD's work as from home so she's fine, too. I booked for 2 nights but can always extend it if necessary. Hopefully by Friday the power will be restored.

Update on storm damage

July 8th, 2020 at 12:17 am

So I posted that last night, an electric circuit tripped and wouldn't reset. I scheduled the electrician to come out this afternoon.

I checked the circuit this morning before I went to work and it still wouldn't reset. When I got home around 2pm, and the electrician was on his way, I tried one more time and sure enough it reset and everything worked.

When the tech came, I told him the story and my theory that during the storm, some moisture had somehow gotten into something, most likely one of the outside light fixtures. Once it dried up, everything worked again. He agreed with me and explained that there was really no way for him to trace where the problem had come from.

The "overkill" solution would be to take apart every connection on that circuit, check the wires, and rewrap and seal everything, but he did not recommend doing that. If this happens again, I should call them and at that point they would start tracing everything but if it was just a fluke from a severe storm, it might never give us any trouble again.

I'm okay with that. He charged nothing for coming out since he never got past our front step and a 5-minute conversation. So crisis averted, at least for now.

Storm damage - how much is this going to cost us?

July 7th, 2020 at 01:07 am

We had a violent tropical storm move through the area this afternoon. High winds, heavy rain, even some hail in the area. Our lights flickered a few times but never went out. We did get a bit of water in the basement, which isn't unusual, and it was pretty minor. We thought we had escaped the worst of it.

Then a short time ago, DD went into the family room, turned on the TV, and the power went out. It only affected the family room, half the living room, and part of the basement. I checked the circuit box and one circuit is tripped but I could not get it to reset.

It's a GFCI circuit so I'm thinking water must have found it's way into something on that circuit, like maybe one of the outside lights. I can't see anything obvious but something tripped that circuit.

I put a call into our electrician. I didn't see the need to pay for an emergency call tonight since the rest of the house is fine so they're coming out tomorrow afternoon.

Hopefully, they can trace and fix the cause and hopefully, it won't be anything major/expensive.

Tree removal - $2,400. Yay.

June 17th, 2020 at 07:58 pm

We've had a dead tree next to our driveway for months. I've been meaning to call our tree guy for that one. Then in the storm a couple of weeks ago, a large limb came off the big tree next to our garage. That's the 2nd time that has happened. It's time to get rid of that tree. And while they're at it, I'll have them prune the tree in front of our house.

Tree guy came today. Total damage is about $2,400. He's hoping they can come by the end of next week. Hopefully no big storms before then.

Little by little, we've taken out almost every tree on the property. Whoever plants all of the trees so close to houses clearly doesn't give any thought to what happens when those trees grow up.

If you have a newer property, the best advice I can give you is to tear out any tree that is close enough to hit the house if it falls in the future when it's 40 or 50 feet tall. Get rid of it while it's small and cheap. Also take out any tree where the roots could damage the concrete or the sewer line.

Stick to small shrubs and bushes and maybe ornamental sorts of trees that don't get that big and don't develop extensive root systems.

New garbage disposal

May 8th, 2020 at 05:41 pm

Our garbage disposal died a few weeks ago, sometime soon after quarantine began. I tried fixing it myself to no avail. I wasn't up to replacing it myself so we contacted our handyman. He installed the current one. Of course, due to COVID, he wasn't able to come out, nor did we want him to, but we wanted to get on his list for when things started loosening up.

So for however many weeks now, we just haven't had a working disposal, which honestly wasn't a huge deal. He reached out a few days ago and asked if he could come today and we said yes. He came this morning and installed it so we're up and running again. We made sure to wipe everything down before he arrived, wore masks while he was here, and wiped everything down again after he left.

Disposal itself was about $150 from Home Depot plus $65 for him to install it so $215 total.

News from Quarantine

April 25th, 2020 at 12:08 am

Well, there's not really much in the way of news but it's been 2 weeks since I posted so figured I'd check in.

Our daughter wasn't eligible for unemployment because her last job was with a non-profit and they don't pay into the system. The look back period ended 9/30/19 and she had only been at her current job about 2 months at that point and needed to have 20 weeks of work history.

There may be a silver lining, though. She got a call from her manager the other day and it sounds like they got money from the payroll protection program as she said they may be able to pay her for 8 weeks worth of income. She's waiting for confirmation and details.

I'm working same as always. Urgent care is still very slow. The hospital census has been gradually increasing but not to a point where they are overwhelmed and calling in more help. I'm hoping that remains the case and they won't need us. I really don't want to go work there.

DW is managing okay. She and her mah jong friends got set up with an online game platform so a couple of times a week they get together virtually and play. They use a 2nd device to Facetime so that they can all see and talk to each other. They'll probably keep using that system even after quarantine ends at least sometimes because it means nobody has to drive around. It will be great if we have bad weather or someone isn't feeling well but can still play without getting others sick.

We've become regular Zoom users, as I'm sure lots of you have. We've had meets with our bourbon club, our Disney friends, family members, and more. What a great resource to stay connected with everyone. I've used it a few times for work also for updates and meetings.

At work, we've been very grateful for some of the community support, mainly in the form of free food. We've gotten lunch from Five Guys and Mission BBQ, free smoothies from Smoothie King, and free donuts from Krispy Kreme among other things.

Financially speaking, the quarantine has really cut down our spending. Less gas, less dining out, less unplanned shopping, no outside entertainment - it's all added up to over $3,000 of reduced spending compared to the first 4 months of 2019.

I hope everyone is hanging in there. Stay safe.

Electric meter update

March 11th, 2020 at 01:51 am

We finally got an answer from the utility company today. They said that the meter was 99.7% accurate (I think that was the number). So apparently there's no refund coming our way and we've somehow managed to increase electricity usage 40-60% in the past year without changing anything we do or use in our home.

At least there was no cost to getting our meter replaced. I'm really curious to see how the bills are going forward. If the continue to show higher usage, I guess that will confirm the answer. If, however, it shows a significant drop in usage, I may reach out again to complain and question that analysis.

Electric meter update

February 3rd, 2020 at 05:45 pm

They came out today and replaced our electric meter. My wife said the tech told her that the meter did appear to be worn out internally so he thinks I may be right that it wasn't recording properly. He said it takes about 2 weeks for them to do the analysis and he gave us a number to call to get a report.

So now we just have to wait a couple of weeks and then see what they say. Hopefully, they'll confirm a discrepancy and we'll get some money back. I'll update when I know.

The moral of the story is that if something just doesn't seem right, don't be afraid to question it. And the other moral is to pay attention. Review bills. Look for discrepancies or unfamiliar charges and look into them when they occur.

Electric meter update

January 24th, 2020 at 09:36 pm

I called the utility company today and explained my concern with the sharply higher electricity usage compared to last year. The rep asked if we had any space heaters, electric fireplaces, etc. I said we do have a space heater but it's the same one we've had for years. I also explained that we recently got a new dishwasher which is more efficient than the one it replaced and that we've also installed several LED lights so our usage should be lower.

She set up an appointment for our meter to be replaced early next month. They will analyze the old meter and if they find a discrepancy, we'll be credited accordingly. If they find no issues, then our bill will remain as is. But there's no cost to having the meter replaced so we really have nothing to lose. I figure it's worth a shot.

I'll post an update when I have one.

Fixed the toilet - again

January 23rd, 2020 at 01:47 am

One of our toilets was taking forever to fill. It wasn't running. It wasn't leaking. It just was filling really slowly. My wife finally asked if I could fix it so a couple of weeks ago, I stopped at Home Depot and picked up a new fill valve assembly and installed it. Everything seemed fine. It was working properly and filling in a normal amount of time.

Then 2 days ago DW texts me at work and says the toilet is running and she opened the back and the water level was rising over the top of the drain tube. I talked her through a couple of things to try but nothing helped. The only thing I can figure is that the fill valve I installed was defective and had a leak somewhere so the water flow wasn't cutting off when the tank was full.

I had to work all day yesterday so couldn't do anything about it until today (which I'm sure our next water bill will reflect). I went and got another new fill valve assembly, took out the first one, and installed the new one. I also went and replaced the flapper while I was at it. It wasn't leaking but it was pretty old.

So far, everything seems fine, but that was true last time too. Hopefully it will continue to be okay. I just have to get back to Home Depot to return the first one.

Of course, in the process of doing all of this, I discovered that the water shut off valve to the toilet doesn't work. I had to turn off the main water supply to the house to fix the toilet. I got a plumber referral from a friend and will call them at some point to come install a new valve. That's a little beyond my DIY skill set.

Broken electric meter?

January 21st, 2020 at 08:00 pm

It recently occurred to me that there might be something wrong with our electric meter. The utility bill shows how much our electricity and gas usage is compared to the same month a year ago. The gas usage is sometimes higher, sometimes lower, but I've realized the electricity usage is always higher, sometimes 10 or 12% but sometimes 50 or 60% higher. This was actually happening last year but I attributed it to DD being back living at home and not away at college.

There's no way we can be using 60% more electricity than a year ago though. Nothing has changed in our house. It's been the same 3 people. The only new appliance we've gotten, and that was just a couple of months ago, was a dishwasher and the new one should be a lot more efficient than the 15-year-old one it replaced. Every other appliance is the same.

I'm going to call the utility company and see if they can send someone out to check our meter. We've had it for a long time so maybe it needs to be replaced.