Friday, May 15, 2009

Rain Dance

It's been very VERY dry here. So the yard is almost completely dead. And actually that's a good thing! We need the old spotty grass to die so we can till and re-sod. The bushes, on the other hand, are doing amazingly well for having no water.... Isn't it amazing how one plant can die and the other can thrive under the same stressful conditions?

This weekend it's back to work on the yard. For the past two weekends we've been out of town. First for the Godson's 1st birthday party in Tampa, then to Mississippi for a memorial service for Dave's aunt. And then of course in between flying, driving, or sitting in an airport waiting, we've been working our tails off at work due to the infamous Players Championship here in town. (What?? You didn't follow Sergio's quest to contend? FOR SHAME...)

We've decided to hold off on painting the house until we can get the yard under control. I think this will help with the stress level around the house (and the cash level.) It's really REEEEEALLLY hard not to get into 10 thousand projects at once. We are the king (and queen, I'll admit it.) of unfinished projects.

But I am determined to have a nice yard this year. I want to enjoy driving up to house after work. I want to pull in the driveway and feast my eyes on green green grass (with no dollar weed) blooming flowers and think "I live here - It's so pretty!" instead of "Hmmmm... I guess that plant died. Well, that's a new type of weed I've never - wait who threw a candy bar wrapper on my doorstep? What the-?"

Yup. It's a pipe dream. I know.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

So we meet again, eh?

Of course, RIGHT after I blogged about not getting an estimate from the Referral guy............ HE CALLED! And of course his bid was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay high. Double the highest bid I've gotten so far. (That's $6,000 if you're keeping score.)

Ahh... I love a story filled with irony.

So I told him he was double my other bids, and even if I could afford him, I wouldn't use him just for the sole fact that it took him a month to even call me back; why would I ever fork over thousands of dollars to him?

(What? And you thought I was going to politely say "No thanks" and hang up?)

(Uhh Hello, have we met?)

He may or may not have uttered some expletives at me... and then may or may not have hung up on me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Your guess is as good as mine.

Besides the yard, another humongous project we're trying to tackle is getting the house painted this summer. I know some of you are screaming at your computer screen, "WHAT?!? You mean you don't love this pinky brownish skin color??? It's so lovely!!"

Uh, NO.

(Wait, you really like it?... oh wow....umm... This is awkward. Soooo... How about that local team/the weather?)

Actually the paint is in REALLY bad shape. It's flaking off in numerous spots (read = 95% of the house) and is revealing an even pinkier pink underneath! It's like the alien trying to break through that guys stomach in that movie...

So it needs to be repainted in a bad way. And while we're breaking out the brushes, I figured it was time for a new color. You know, put our stamp on it - make it more modern like we're been trying to do inside the house. I got three bids from local painters...

#1 The Referral guy.
This guy is a contractor by trade, but a neighbor 1 street over gave me his name. He painted their house, and it's similar in size, shape, and texture (stucco/brick) so I felt pretty confident that the bid might be the same price. But I have yet to receive it. Yeah, I know. Strange since I keep hearing all these stories about how people who do house construction are dying for work. I guess not so with this dude. He came out, spent about an hour taking measurements, writing stuff down asking my house what it's symptoms are (joking! I think?) and walked around it like 4 times. He then told me he'd have to go calculate the paint and labor and he'd get back to me in a week. That was 2 months ago.

#2 The Open the Phonebook and Point guy.
Just like it sounds, I picked a name out of the phone book at random. I had the Painting Pros come out for an estimate. They are pretty generic franchise that I think is in every city in America. Just like a Firehouse Subs or a Mr. Sandless, you can buy into the franchise and they will help start it up in your city. They looked pretty reputable online too. And I liked the fact they were nice on the phone, right on time for the appointment, and the guy smiled and said thanks when he left. (Courtesy goes a LONG way with me.) He was only here 15 minutes, plugged all the numbers into his computer, spit out an estimate on his portable printer and viola! $3,000 and they could start next week.

(Points awarded for attitude, but YOWZA! Three grand? I'll have to raise some more funds.)

(BTW still no estimate from #1. Called his cell about 502 times.)

#3 The Historic House Painter who Loves his Job guy.
Last estimate came as a referral from another friend. This guy paints all the historic houses in Springfield - a section of downtown Jacksonville. He mainly works on these old two-story houses from the 1800's that are being renovated and updated. Springfield used to be a pretty sketchy part of town but several blocks have been renovated by young couples since they can afford the cheap mortgages and don't mind living in drywall dust.
This painter was very nice, and I liked him alot but I am a little skeptical. For one thing, he took a look at the front, scratched his beard and said "Mmmm, $2,500?" Just like that. Like it was a question. I was tempted to say. "Nope. Try again." The other thing that kind of worries me is the fact that he doesn't work on stucco houses. The houses he paints are all restored wood shingles. I'm sure it's not that different... but what if there's something really wrong with the stucco and he doesn't know how to spot it? I'm probably being paranoid.
Bottom line he was a NICE guy - price is certainly better - and he LOVES painting houses. Can't beat a person who loves their job. You know you are going to get 110% of effort.

(BTW Still no estimate from #1. I called him 4 more times - got the secretary once, she claimed he would call back. He did - only it was the house phone while I was at work. Oldest trick in the book dude, do you think I was born yesterday?)

So there you have it. We have yet to get started... One of the things you must MUST do before you paint is cut all the shrubbery back so the people can get in there and paint. Plus I have to decide on a color... Any suggestions?

Make like a tree and get outta here.

So one of the perks of having a dead tree on a city street is the fact that the city will come and cut it down and haul it away for FREE. This fact can be evidenced by our neighbors who had a huge (HUGE) water oak tree taken down a few months ago. Too bad our dead water oak was in the back of the house... making it impossible to convince the city to pay for it. Damn.
Here's what our view of the street from our driveway looked like with that dead oak... (I have to say, even though it was dead, it sure was purdy.)

And here's what it looks like now. TOTALLY changes the street, no?

We're still getting used to all the sun we now get. It's almost too hot to stand out in the street and gossip. Hmmm....

Anyhoodle. We had tree issues of our own this past month. A huge windstorm blew through town and the gusts actually ended up damaging a tree in our backyard. Our weird looking tree in the right corner had a branch that split in half. Not just a piddly little small branch... Oh no. That would have been too easy. One of the main branches that all the piddly little branches grow out of. Yeah that one. THAT one split in half.

It must have happened when we were at work because I came home one day and thought, "Huh. That looks funny... What's different about that---NOOOO!"

See what I mean? Kinda looks normal at first, but then you notice the left side seems to be growing down towards the grass. Yeah. ALL those little branches - GONE! because that one split was at the base of them all. Sucks. And of course we have no chainsaw (it's like the one tool we've yet to buy) so Dave got up in that tree with a hand saw and got rid of it all.

Crazy? Yes quite possibly. BUT at least he was wearing sneakers and not flip flops - or worse, barefoot. If you know Dave - you know that's a big improvement. The man is determined to lose an appendage. I'm pretty sure OSHA has his picture up on the "WHAT NOT TO DO" side of the poster that they hang in construction sites.