POP! NEW GUTTERS – Marilyn Armstrong

“POP!” Pop of Positivity Share
Theme: People doing the right thing
just like they promised!

Usually dealing with contractors is at it’s best, not too bad. This time, it went so easilyAtlantic Gutters were on my schedule for 2 pm. They showed up at 10:30 in the morning. Just as well we didn’t sleep late.

They went to work instantly without a moment wasted and in a few hours, they were finished. It cost $500 more than expected because there should have been fascia put on with the roof, but they weren’t there (we had really awful people doing our original work because we didn’t know anyone and we took someone’s recommendation.

New gutters from the deck

The guy turned out to be her brother-in-law and he’d never put up a roof or gutters before. It was a disaster for us, but he took the money and smiled all the way to the bank. We knew so little, it took us years to discover what a mess they had made.

Thus, for the past 19 years, gunk has been building under the edge of the roof. Without the fascia, we were going to need a roof soon. We just bought maybe 8 to 10 more years of roofing.

The company is Atlantic Gutters of New England and they are a large group, reasonable prices. Not the cheapest, but definitely not the most expensive. They are a big enough organization so that they are likely to still be in business in a few years. I sure hope so. They give a nice, long guarantee, but as I have learned, a guarantee is only good if the company stays in business.

Right now, I’m pretty happy. Even with the unexpected $500.

After they were finished … and I should add that they cleaned up every single item they used. When they were done, it was exactly as it had been before they began. Which means that we have several tons of leaves to blow into the woods. I always laugh when people suggest we need humus (no, not the delicious combination of chickpeas and tahini (with lemon, olive oil, garlic, and maybe a hint of chopped onion) but the rich soil you find on the floor of the forest.

We have a lot of humus. Enough for half a million gardens. Maybe more. So when they left and I had handed them my previously empty credit card because I really needed those gutters, I went out to the back porch to sweep up the pile of leaves and birdseed. Surprisingly, there were no seeds on the railing. Between the return of the Mourning Doves and the determined little chipmunk, every last seed got eaten.

We refilled the feeders — again. We filled them yesterday, too. We also let the Duke wander around the deck and bark himself sick. This does not scare the birds. They trust their wings. It freaked out the squirrels and the birds get a whole hour to eat before the squirrels were back.

After a while, the birds got tired of watching me push leaves off the deck and started hitting the feeders with energy, totally ignoring me and the Duke. They probably didn’t even appreciate the new gutters.

BLACK & WHITE – HALLWAYS, CORRIDORS, AND NARROW PATHS – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge:
Indoor Walkways, Hallways, Elevators

I’ve been thinking a lot about hallways and corridors recently since I’ve been wondering if I should start saving up for some version of a motorized wheelchair.

Medicare will give you one only if you are going to use it IN the house, not outside, but I don’t need one in the house. I need one outside, in the mall (for those rare times I go to one) … and moreover, I need one that could travel “off-road” on grass and gravel surfaces because that’s where I take pictures. If it only travels on smooth surfaces, it won’t get me anywhere I need to go.

It’s actually two hallways — up (with stairlift) and down (stairs only) — and only 39 inches wide!
All the books and DVDs make the hall rather narrow

If the thing will only run on flat, smooth floors, what would I do with it? We don’t live in a flat, smooth-surfaced world and the hallways in this house are far too narrow to navigate in any kind of chair. They are often difficult to navigate on foot and we are used to turning sideways when we are carrying packages — even small packages.

Narrow entryway
Almost too narrow to get the groceries up — the stairlift gets in the way!

Between Garry, me, and the pups, we knock a lot of stuff off shelves and tabletops. It makes one think seriously about what do you do when you can’t walk, but you can’t get up and down the stairs with a wheelchair either. Does that mean you have to move to “one of those homes”? Shiver.

NOTE:  Garry says we should hook up the dogs and make them work for a living. I pointed out we’d need more dogs. More dogs? MORE dogs?

MY WORLD GOES ROUND AND ROUND – Marilyn Armstrong

I was about to give up. Contractors have a weird way of vanishing just when you think you’ve got a deal. You have the money in hand. The house awaits some long-awaited repairs. Which is when your contractor slips into the mists of time and disappears. What happened?

But not this time — or at least I don’t think this time. We have a date. I have the money. If we don’t get typhoon-level rain for all next week, we’ll have a fixed side of the house and a repaired (and hopefully freshly painted) front door.

The deck Dutch door won’t make this year’s repair list. We’ve run out of time. The weather is turning, so that job will have to wait until our next not-winter. I would say spring, but spring is usually winter, but wetter. So the next time after the regular winter when we have weather in which a carpenter can work … like maybe May or June, the Dutch door gets fixed. Along with the rot around it.

I am thrilled. No, really. I know there are too many other things going on about which I seem unable to do much. So I send $5 to Elizabeth Warren and fill my bird feeders which somehow doesn’t seem nearly enough, but it’s what I’ve got to offer and I figure it beats nothing by a little something.

Oh, and I switched to all wind-powered electricity. Yes, I know it costs more, but I figure it’ll be maybe $5 a month … well, with Owen coming back and all his stuff, probably more but he’ll pay his way, so it should be fine.

Meanwhile, Garry is feeling better and Bonnie seems to be barking less. She now seems to require a biscuit from both of us. We have to both appear and bribe her and then she goes back to sleep. Don’t ask me. I don’t get it either.

I’m just really happy the house is getting 2/3 fixed. We didn’t really have the money for the Dutch door anyway, but I was going to try to “make a deal.”

Something I read today — I think an article in the Washington Post — the author said that by Friday, she can’t remember what happened on Monday unless she goes back and reads her notes. That’s just how I feel. By Friday, this world has whizzed around its axis about 48 times. I sometimes forget the morning news before lunch.

But at least I am getting a couple of major items cared for. So in case the world survives, I’ll have a great front door and won’t have that rotten side door anymore.


This song was written by  Tom Paxton, but I can’t find a copy of him doing the singing. This singer’s okay and he plays the guitar well. So he will have to do!

In case you may be wondering why, despite the fact that the door that opens onto the deck is not getting replaces, it’s because I simply love that door. I love being able to open the top and have the air blow through the screen in the door. It turns out that Dutch doors are well-loved and wildly expensive. I could probably make a fair bit selling it, but I just love that door.

Scrabbling Junco feet!

Today we had two rather hungry looking squirrels, our usual chipmunk who is beginning to become a teenage chipmunk … and a lot of woodpeckers. I wonder why the woodpeckers are so fond of our feeders? We have a woods full of trees and a fair number of them are old and hollow, so there ought to be plenty for them to eat … but maybe we serve a better meal?

TAKING THE REST OF THE WEEK OFF – BACK ON THE WEEKEND – Marilyn Armstrong

This is the kind of busy week we all bump into. Usually, I try to set up schedules with posts in advance, but I’m tired. I’ve been pushing to try to get everything that needs doing done before the snow flies. I finally realized I can’t do it. It’s not because I’m unwilling or uninterested.

I’m tired and I can’t keep pushing this hard. Cooking, cleaning, writing, photographing, processing, editing … and maybe even sleeping (!) — I need time. I need a few days to get stuff done. I can’t sit at the computer all day and still manage the rest of the week. So, until Saturday, I’m dealing with the rest of my life. Or trying to.

Tomorrow is Garry’s dental work. The first of two days, actually.

There’s something for every taste

Thursday I have nearly a whole day while they figure out what to do with my Pacemaker. It will need its battery replaced soon. Whether to switch to a new (non-metal) Pacemaker or keep the current one is up in the air. New or old, they are internally identical (no major progress on Pacemakers, in case you were wondering). Plastic or metal, they are no different, so it’s a matter of “convenience.” Mostly mine. On the upside, there are a lot of tests they can’t run if I have a metal one and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I can’t get an MRI with a metal pacemaker and there are many airport issues. Except I’m not flying anywhere. There’s some question of whether or not Medicare would pay for a replacement anyway since there’s nothing wrong with the one I have. Personally, I’d like a thinner one where I can’t feel the wires — and not have to panic in the presence of magnets. Sometimes, when I walk past my refrigerator that has all those magnets on it, I wonder if I’m going to accidentally turn my heart off.

Friday, Owen’s moving in. Right now, he’s moving out all the trash in the basement. For the FIRST TIME EVER, all the junk will be GONE.

Oh, joy! I do need to check for a few long-missing items. I have a feeling they are in big cartons at the back of the basement behind all the rest of the more recently added junk. All my old writings and my copy for the ceremony of “Fall of Sauron” day are in the very back — assuming they are still readable.

I may want to dump most of it, but there are probably a few things worth keeping. Or they will so embarrass me I will race to the dumpster with them.

So I’m just going to take the rest of the week off. See if I can clear out the mountain of email. Get some sleep. Buy groceries as we’re running a bit thin in the freezer.

I think my contractor will be starting work next week and I think (I hope!) my granddaughter has found a guy to paint the doors. Meanwhile, I’d like to enter winter without holes in the exterior walls of the house.

HAPPENSTANCE JUST HAPPENS – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP Wednesday – HAPPENSTANCE

It has been one of those weeks. We were supposed to go away at the end of the week to celebrate being alive and surviving this year, but happenstance really happened big-time. First, I got sick. I wasn’t sure I was sick until I talked to Cherrie and she had the same thing and then Garry came down with it. I guess that means I had something. It’s one of those stomach things, so it will go away pretty quickly (usually they only last a few days), so I’m not going running to the doctor for something that’s just “going around.”

As it happened, one of the people we would be have been visiting has to be in the hospital soon. People with contagious things don’t go visiting people who are having surgery soon. It’s just … well … rude. Unhealthy, too.

Then there’s the wall of the house. As concerned as I am about getting the insurance company to throw a few dollars our way (ONE year’s payment of our home insurance bill would more than cover the issue and we’ve been paying for a long, long time — 19 years on this house and 10 on the previous one — but they don’t “pay.” They collect.

Garry and Karin MacMillan

On the upside, Karin — who we were going to be visiting but now aren’t — dropped by this morning with her business partner and Garry got to jabber a bit and it was fun to actually have company. She commented that this is a really lovely area — which it really is. It’s a gorgeous area despite the terrible weather we’ve been having.

Owen then came over and put a new pillar under the back deck. The pillar is on cement, so it isn’t going to sink. It used to be attached to the house, but the attachment came loose. Propping it up seemed a better deal than getting a new deck. That’s a few thousand dollars and basically, there’s nothing wrong with this deck except that it has come unhitched from the house. Now, with a double-strong wooden pillar propping up that corner, it is unlikely to go anywhere. And he got the job done in under two hours. Go, Owen!

I’m still trying to get hold of the contractor. It’s a busy — SUPER busy — season for contractors. Not only is everyone desperate to get something fixed before winter drops by, but it’s hunting season. Big time. And contractors have an odd way of drifting away even when they are in the middle of a job. So I want him to come, but I have to cajole and coddle him. Can I bribe him with cookies?

And yesterday, because how loud can anyone hint before someone else gets the message, Garry bought me a brilliant purple orchid. Which meant rearranging the dining room by pushing the table against the French doors. We can use it as a sideboard if we are serving and everyone can drift off to eat wherever they are most comfy. And my flowers look so much better.

As it happens, happenstance won my day. I happened to have a new coffee machine because the old one croaked and new flowers to dream about. Garry feels a little better than yesterday and I don’t feel any worse, which is something.

IT’S GONNA BE A HELLUVA WEEK – Marilyn & Garry Armstrong

It’s going to be a rough week. We are supposed to take a vacation at the end of this week — visiting friends — but I need something to get worked out here and make sure we have a house to come home to. I at least need to know what’s going on around here — if MAPFRE is going to help at all with this repair or we are just left hanging.

And I have also very quickly hire a contractor who will do a good job at a decent price. Soon. I’m almost as terrified of finding a decent contractor as I am of somehow guilting the insurance company into not abandoning us.

I had hoped by now I’d know if the insurers would come through before I tried to find a contractor, but I don’t have any time left. Summer is disappearing and suddenly, winter will drop by — and then nothing gets done until next spring.

What a sky!

It is a bit tricky without money. It’ll get done. How exactly? Good question, but it’ll get done. Somehow.

Garry looking for the best shot

Sometimes, when you are looking at what is going to be a very difficult period of time, it’s good to get out and take a few pictures, which we did. There’s not even a hint of autumn outside. Usually by September — even near the end of August — at least the maples are beginning to shift colors and the aspens are yellow. But this time, it’s just solid green, green, green.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
Photo: Garry Armstrong — The perfect canal.

On the other hand, the weather was wonderful. Cool, dry, with puffy white clouds and reflections like mirrors in the canal.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Marilyn leaning on the fence and Garry taking great pictures.

Just be patient with us. There’s an awful lot we need to get done and we have very little time in which to accomplish it. I think the biggest miracle will be managing to get something happening before the snow flies!

Photo: Garry Armstrong – I made him leave the woods. I live in fear of lethal mosquitoes!

SIZE IS RELATIVE – Marilyn Armstrong

Photo Challenge – Size Matters!

Everything is relative. When we moved into this house — Garry and I — it was perfect. I didn’t know about the tons of snow that would need to be cleared off the driveway or the water that would rush down the driveway and try to pool in the basement.

I never imagined 12-stairs would prove too much for me and Garry never thought pushing the trash up to the street would be life-threatening. I didn’t count on heart problems, cancer, or having yet one more vertebra (S1) disintegrate.

Photo: Garry Armstrong – Our house in winter

Mostly, we didn’t think we would get old, cranky, or poor. We were working. We assumed we’d continue working for years to come.

Well, sometimes, it all turns sideways. Garry lost his job because they decided he was too old. I got too sick to work. Owen’s job blew up on 9/11 and never came back. The kids came to live with us, which made the house too small. Ten years later, they left, so now the house is too big and we’re a lot older and poorer.

Big, small … it’s all a matter of one’s position in the universe. I’ve heard people who live in mansions complain it’s not big enough and then, later, I’ve heard the same people complain it’s too much and who needs so much house?

Definitely a door!

The van was just barely big enough when everyone lived here and now our little Renegade is absolutely perfect (but I wish it had a bigger glove box). The deck was too small, but now it’s perfect.

If it would just stop RAINING for a while. We need a dry spell! Preferably, without killer mosquitoes.