Other people may have been outside enjoying their summer vacation, but this summer has been all about fixing stuff. Doors and water heaters. Cleaning. Getting rid of junk. The last seasonally lovely pictures I took were at the very beginning of the month at Roaring Dam.

Roaring Dam

Since then, we’ve been home fixing stuff, or Garry was in New York — fixing stuff in his parents old house. Other than Roaring Dam, there have been no landscapes. I may get a few before the month is out, but I’m not holding my breath.

The actual installation of the long-awaited door gives me a sense of completion. With a little bit of luck, we’ll be in good shape to get through the winter and hopefully survive the drenching rains from the hurricane on its way up the coast.

Not painted and before the doggy door was added, but it’s up.

It went well. In a rare moment of do-it-yourself home repairs, the project went pretty  much perfectly from start to finish. All the work Owen did when he installed the previous door — ten years ago — remained in good shape. Damp, but not rotted. The door had rotted, but the frame was solid and square. Which meant that they could put the door in without a crisis.

I really like the new door. There’s more glass and I can actually look outside through it and see something. It’s simple and suits the house.

It was still a lot of work. Big, heavy door to remove, even bigger, heavier door to install. Nails and screws and moving the lock and door handle. Shims. Flashing. Insulation. Some green stuff that is designed to kill every living thing that could invade a piece of wood.

The doggy door had to be installed too. I was worried it wouldn’t be big enough. This, despite the fact that every website that deals with dog doors assured me that this is the right size door. We’ve had a really huge dog door for years, so it looked puny in comparison.

It is fine, as it turns out. Once it was installed, Duke looked at it and immediately went out. Bonnie refused to try it and Gibbs sat in front of it, hitting it with his paw, but refused to use it. Finally, Owen pushed him through it, after which he went back out and came in for dinner. After dinner, both Scottish Terriers went out, then sat outside, in front of the door, whining. I believe this was a complaint indicating they would like their old dog door back. Please.

Obviously, this is not going to happen, but they are good at registering complaints. Garry thinks they are merely messing with our heads. Another thing they are very good at.

They really liked the hours when the door wasn’t there at all. The “no door” solution suited them. I think they would have been very happy had we left it that way. I could certainly understand their point of view. Unfortunately, the hornets, flies, and mosquitoes — and who knows what else — also liked the “no door” scenario. It’s going to take a while to clear out the strange flying things in the house.

Orange begonias on the deck

I took pictures. Garry was continuing the clean-up of the guest room while I was tending to the door-in-progress. While the guys were out getting other supplies, I joined Garry. Cleaned all the dolls, which was easier than I expected. I was reminded I had cleaned them more recently than I realized. I also remembered to use plain, white vinegar as a doll cleanser. Which is good because all the other cleaning supplies are somewhere. I’m not sure where. Maybe in the trunk in the bedroom, which last I knew contains wigs and cords for restringing aging hard plastic dolls from the 1940s through 1960s. More or less my entire collection.

Tired Duke, taking a breather.

Garry managed to get the rug in the room clean. It’s a miracle. I never expected it to look that good again. If only I could get the horrible dark pink paint off the walls, too.

One thing at a time. We’ve got other work to do in the meantime.

Please visit Max — Cardinal Guzman  — and take a look at all the other wonderful photographs of the season! 

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.



Cee in on vacation, so today, we reveal our private selves to Emilio, who has decided to be this weeks question asker.

Have you ever been pulled over by a cop?  

For years, I got away with being a nonstop speeder. I wasn’t a dangerous driver, but I was a fast one. Then, one day, my past caught up with me and so did the state troopers. Two speeding tickets later, I slowed down. It took Garry four tickets, then HE slowed down, too.

There are some places that just beg to have you put pedal to the metal and go for it. I still don’t know why we aren’t allowed to drive faster when the road is built for fast driving and the traffic is light … but I think it’s a money thing.

What have you always wanted? Did you get it? 

I wanted to write a book. But to be fair, I wanted to write a best-selling book and make a lot of money as a writer. I didn’t want to work really hard to write a book, but never be able to properly market it.

For all that, I got a huge amount of satisfaction from writing and having people enjoy it. Even though I didn’t make oodles of money, I got oodles of happiness. So yes, I got it.

What is your perfect pizza?

Almost any pizza not made in Uxbridge. Sorry, little town. This is not one of the great pizza-making villages.

What inspired you this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination.

I have been sick for a week. Inspiration? When I think the meds are working. Failed inspiration? Realizing no, they didn’t work and I am still sick. I don’t understand why I’m still sick. I should be much better by now. It is making me grouchy.


In 1987, my ex husband and I, along with our two children, spent weekends and summers in a one bedroom cottage on my mother’s property in Easton, CT. My grandparents had lived in the cottage when I was growing up. It was fine for them but at this point, both kids were sleeping in the living room. It was time to get a bigger house. So we decided to build one on a piece of adjoining property that Mom gave me.

We hired an architect and spent nine months designing a beautiful but budget friendly house. Unfortunately, our architect was calculating costs based on the prior year’s cost per foot. And costs were apparently rising at a ridiculous rate. When we put the house out to bids from contractors, the bids were twice what we had budgeted. We couldn’t afford to build our dream house anymore!

Only one bid came in low enough that we could just barely stretch to afford it. It came from a general contractor we knew personally. Mac was a well-liked, well-respected member of our tennis club. He had even been president of the club. We knew his friends and family. We asked him why he could put in such a low bid. He said he was just starting in the contracting business and wanted to use our house as a marketing show piece. He’d do it for cost and not expect a profit.

Mac working on the house foundation

We drafted an air tight contract (my ex was a lawyer). We broke ground. We wrote checks. The house was framed out but not enclosed. Winter was coming. We had put in all the money we were contractually obligated to put in. It was up to Mac to put in his share. On paper.

Mac told us he didn’t have the money to finish the house. If we wanted to protect the structure from the coming winter, we would have to pay for everything going forward, above and beyond the contract.

We were between a rock and a hard place. We’d lose our significant investment and our house if we cut our losses and walked away. We were frantic. We ended up selling three of my thirteen acres of land to help finance the now much more expensive house. We also borrowed money from my parents and went deeper into debt. We finished the house but it took forever. I kept paying all the bills I received but contractors either didn’t show up or came but did a shoddy job. We couldn’t understand what was going on.

Me and my kids as house framed out

Until one contractor came to me, toward the end of the process. He complained that Mac had not paid him until he threatened to sue. When he did get a check for $2500, it bounced. Mac had told him that the reason he was stiffing the contractors on their bills was that WE were not paying our bills to Mac. I was shocked. I showed the contractor my canceled checks to Mac, covering everything.

I hired a lawyer. He said that this was the worst case of construction fraud he’d seen in 15 years of practice. Apparently, Mac had just taken most of our money for himself. He was doing the same thing to another family at the same time. When contractors demanded payment, he would use some of my money or the other family’s money to pay them off and get them off his back. He was robbing Peter to pay Paul and visa versa. He was paying the contractors just enough money to get the jobs done – eventually. It took a year and a half to build our house.

My son on the building site

We fired Mac and finished the house without him. His partner told us that he would never work with Mac again. He also told us that the estimate Mac gave us was based on no calculations and no facts. Mac just came up with a number he thought we’d accept.

We couldn’t sue Mac because our lawyer couldn’t find any of our money. Mac was broke. There was no money to recover. No one could figure out what he had done with all the money he took from us, that didn’t go into our house. It came to over $200,000! His wife swore he didn’t spend it on his own house or family.

Years later, his wife discovered that Mac had conned her as well. He was supposed to be contributing his income to the college funds of his three kids. There was no college account. He was also supposed to be filing and paying the family’s tax returns. He not only didn’t pay taxes, for years he never even filed returns. The IRS came after his wife, who worked, and garnished her salary. That’s when she left Mac, taking her three kids with her.

Mac was obviously a sociopath. He screwed a lot of people. The building of my house turned out to be one of the major stress periods and financial drains of my life. I love my house and am still living in it 28 years later. But it is in spite of all the angst we suffered during the building process.

I recently renewed my friendship with Mac’s ex wife. We commiserate together over being taken to the cleaners by Mac. We still have no idea where all the money went. We think it might have gone into a land deal that went south. Mac always had some new money-making scheme in the works. But we’ll never know. They say that building a house is throwing money into a black hole. Well, in our case, it really was a black hole.