Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Today's Accomplishment

Did I tell you that we hired out the painting of the pergola that Mister C built? My original plan was to paint the parts before the guys built it. The thought process being that once it was all together, it would be easy to just touch up the spots where needed and I wouldn't have to figure out how to crawl all over the structure. That was the plan. You know how well those go.

The main problem to working out the plan was that Mister C never actually purchased the parts until the day they built the pergola. Obviously I wasn't going to get away with having everyone wait around while I painted everything so it got built with the raw wood.

At the end of the very long weekend I looked at that pergola and and I thought "There is no way in hell I'm painting that thing!" I mean seriously, I had zero desire to figure out how to paint the top side of the lattice pieces with a brush. Realizing that his painter was rebelling, Mister C made the (only viable) decision to hire out the painting.

I did try to call Mark, the guy that painted our house a year ago. Mark was a neighbor that had a painting business and we'd seen plenty of his work in our neighborhood. He did an awesome job for what I would consider a really good price. He ended up short selling his house not long after he finished painting our house and moved to the other side of town. But I still had his number and I thought that surely I could have him come back to do this project. But unfortunately his number now goes to a message that says it's no longer in service. Sigh.

So I asked around and got the name of another painter, George. I called him and he said he could come out in a few days to give me a quote. The very next day he rang my bell and introduced himself. I figured, wow, this guy is on the ball!

The first thing he said was that he couldn't do the job for less than $500. Which seemed a tad high for the amount of work he would be doing. More so because Mark had done the entire house for about four times that amount. But I understand, he needs to keep his guys working and he has to pay them a certain amount. So fine, I tell him to send them out and get it done.

Fast forward a few days.

Now it's Friday afternoon, around 2:00, and suddenly there are four guys standing on my front porch. Sadly, only one of them speaks (minimal) English so the entire conversation consists of singular words and pointing. Awesome. Oh and here's a side note that I know from previous experience: Don't ever let workers start a project on Friday afternoon. Why? Because all they really care about is getting to Friday night and their favorite beer. And the only thing between them and that Friday night beer is your project. Which they will rush through and cut corners on. Seriously. I've had enough guys do piss-poor work on Fridays that I should know better than to even let them start. But they are here and they have paint and I think "Surely it will be different this time..."

It is not different this time (nor will it ever be.)

They come to the front door less than an hour later and announce (in singular words and with gestures) that they are done. And I need to go check out their fantastic job so they can go. So I send Mister C out to do so. And he is forced to point out to them that they have missed several areas.

Fifteen minutes later they are back at my front door. Mister C is now on the phone so I am the one to go out and check their work so they can be released to their beer. I go out, look at the area where Mister C had previously pointed to problems and it looks good (or at least somewhat painted.) Then I drag the guy's ladder over so I can see what the top looks like. The painter looks a little panicked at that but at least he holds the ladder. I get to the top and realize he hasn't painted the top of the trim board. At all. Not one lick of primer or paint. Oh, did I not mention that they were supposed to both prime and paint this structure? Yeah, that comes back up later. Anyway, I climb down from the ladder and the painter goes back up to paint the top of the trim board.

Five minutes later he's at my door again. Something strikes me as wrong but I can't pinpoint what it is so I head back outside to see what he's done. I see that he has "accidentally" taken the ladder to his truck. I mention that I need to get my ladder to see the top and he laughs about his "mistake" and goes to get his ladder. I climb back up top and see that there's paint on the top of the board. Yay! It looks like they finally get those beers after all. We give them the check and send them on their way.

At some point in the middle of the night I wake up and realize what was bothering me about the trim board with the missing paint. When I noticed it, I was looking at raw wood. And he was at my door within five minutes. Which means there's no way in hell he primed the board before painting it. Which means there's no way in hell he primed any of it. Grrrr!

The next morning I have Mister C get out our ladder and I go up to view the top of the pergola from different angles. From the front side (where I was the day before) it looks okay. But from the other side, it's very obvious that they only sprayed from the front side and didn't do it from all angles. And it also very obvious that I'm looking at bare wood, so no primer was used at all. Which really pisses me off.

I get that my little piddly pergola painting job isn't a high end money maker for anyone. But I already overpaid for it in the first place, why eff it up and go cheap on it? Why cut corners and do a half-ass job? Why piss me off? As a homeowner there's always a ton of little things that need to be done, chief among them are painting projects. House exteriors in Arizona are generally repainted every five to ten years. But beyond that, I have neighbors that I talk to, friends, family members. And most importantly, I'm a Realtor, I have clients and I know a ton of other Realtors who are always looking for good references. All of whom could have gotten a glowing review from me of your company's work. Conceivably hundreds of potential clients for your painting company now didn't get your name because you screwed up. Because you hired some guys that probably aren't really painters at all but just the guys you could hire for the least amount of money. Maybe they're really plumbers or electricians or veterinarians (not joking about that one, I had a client from Ecuador that was a licensed vet at home that worked for the local garbage company.) Whatever they are or were, they weren't painters.

After I got done yipping to Mister C about the shoddy work, he went ahead and called and left a message for George to complain. In his defense, George did call back immediately and promise to make it right. He insisted that there was primer used, just that he had it tinted to match the paint color. Which, I call bullshit on because I know the difference between raw wood and wood that has been painted but whatever, he says he's going to make it right so I'm good.

And he does send that same crew back out the next day. And they do whatever it is they do for at least thirty minutes. And when I check it out, it looks like they've at least got paint on anything. At this point, that's about all I'm looking for. So I send the painter on his way. And today, I went out and painted the end of one board that they completely missed, and repainted the trim boards. Because at this point I just wanted it done and done right.

And I will never recommend George's company to anyone as long as I live. And if anyone asks about his company I will tell them to avoid him like the plague. And if I have nobody else to recommend for them, I will at least tell them to make sure their project doesn't get started on a Friday afternoon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Garden Update

After leveling the gardens (again), watching Mister C adjust (and re-adjust) the sprinkler heads, and one last trip to Home Depot, I finally planted the strawberry plants today.

Up until now, they've been sitting by my kitchen sink, in the plastic bin I had planted them in two weeks ago when they arrived. It's probably good I could finally plant them in the ground though since they were already outgrowing the bin. Also, it turns out the nursery in Georgia, Willis Orchard*, gave us extra strawberry plants so I ended up with twenty eight to plant. Which is awesome. As a side note they also tossed in an extra blackberry and an extra raspberry plant in the original order as well. I don't know if this is standard practice for them or what but I can tell you that I was impressed that they did it.

After the planting, I spent a little time moving rocks from the piles in our side yard to around the raised garden beds. I managed five wheelbarrow fulls before I decided to hang it up for the day. That's hard work shoveling, moving, dumping and raking rocks. My hat's off to those that do this on a daily basis, I sure don't love it.

SO at this point we're really close to being done with the backyard. Move some more gravel, plant some vegetables and eventually put in two apple trees and that should be it. Oh yeah, I also ordered some grape vines today from the same company. I had to order six because they are so cheap that the two I really needed didn't add up to the minimum order amount. Luckily for me, Miss Lee said she would like some to put on her grape arbor so she'll be buying the other four. We will need to help her and Music Man reinforce or rebuild her arbor since it's been sitting empty for awhile, but helping family is always a good thing anyway.

Some day I might get to hang out on my patio with a no guilt about what I should be doing in my yard. In the meantime, I'll do a little bit every day and hopefully reap the rewards in a few months when I have my own bountiful baskets growing in my backyard.

*I am not in any way affiliated with nor compensated by Willis Orchard, I just really liked my dealings with them.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Latest Photography Project

I've been working on the final project for my photo class. It's a self driven, choose your own project type of project. So I've been flailing about for a week or so trying to pin down what I'm doing. I've narrowed it to "people", but that's about it. So far I've taken pictures of various shop owners, bikers, homeless guys and tattoo artists. I think I'm narrowing it down a little, but I'm still not sure on direction. I guess I'll see what shakes out this coming week since the project is due the following week. In the meantime, I did manage to get one decent picture printed out at last Wednesday's class.

The gal below, Leah, is a tattoo artist at the shop Inkenstein in the historic part of Glendale. She was gracious enough to allow me to take her picture on not one, but two separate occasions. I'm sure she wasn't completely comfortable having a stranger in her face taking an entire role of film, but she was game. Anyway, the one picture I printed was from that shoot. Also, since I'm working in black and white you can't see her hair color, which was bright blue and purple. Which was awesome.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this day of gratitude...

I'm grateful for the health of my friends and family and praying for those who are sick. I'm grateful for the roof over our heads and the food on our table and praying for those who have neither. I'm grateful for the opportunities available to us through education and jobs and praying that those who need them most will have them available as well. Mostly I'm grateful for everyone in my life who brings joy, love and friendship, and praying that I do the same for someone else.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Finishing up the Backyard

So if you remember back a few posts you'll remember that I promised to take pictures of the big pile of dirt on my patio. Well, I've waited long enough that now I can just do the update for the (almost) grand finale of the backyard project. That "almost" is there strictly because we haven't actually put all of the plants in. We're still missing our vegetables. But anyway, pictures!

Here's the pile of garden soil on my patio. It's not as full as it was because the day I planted the berry bushes I took about seven wheelbarrows out of it for the berry gardens. Also, the smaller pile in the background is the stuff Mister C pulled out of the berry garden so he could redo the irrigation. Which is somewhat messed up due to over abundance of sprinkler heads. But that's a story for another day. But anyway, look, dirt.

Here are the raised garden beds that Mister C and I built with our own two hands. Ignore that they are not lined up correctly and look lopsided. We hadn't lined them up and leveled them at this point in the process. I was just taking pictures as we went along. As you can see we built three beds, each one is eight foot by four foot for a total of...I'm not doing math so assume a lot of room to plant.

And here's Mister C admiring his newly filled in raised garden beds with their (over abundant) sprinkler system. What a beautiful sight, a freshly filled garden bed, ready for planting. But hang on, it looks like something IS already in the garden...

Ah hell, guess who found the nice soft dirt in the raised garden?

Mister C was not impressed with the girls antics. The dirt was flying for a few minutes while they all dug down little holes in which to bath themselves and then settled in for a nap. Like we spent building the beds, putting together the sprinkler and hauling three yards of dirt over just so they could have a place to hang out in style.

Wait, we didn't build this for the girls enjoyment? I'm shocked!

More pictures eventually, as soon as I move the strawberries from my kitchen window out to the garden and put some actual vegetables out there. Currently? Still a chicken playground.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

And So It Begins

The annual holiday begging has started on Craigslist. It seems excessively early this year, but maybe they're paying more attention to the stores than to the calendar and figure it's time. There are always people asking for free items on Craigslist, but the numbers increase the closer we get to Christmas.

For the record, I have nothing against helping someone in need. I've given away my fair share of food, clothing, gifts and money to various charities, food pantries, churches and individuals. I'm not talking about the people who are truly in need. I'm not talking about people that find themselves in dire straights due to job loss or some such. No, I'm referring to the people who make a living off the charity of others. And those who up the ante around the holidays to prey on people trying to generous.

Exhibit 1:

Free Motorcycle Wanted! (El Mirage)
Date: 2011-10-10, 11:25AM MST

Hi, I know this sounds crazy, but I need to cut down gas costs. I currently am spending over 300 a month on gas and can't afford it anymore. I am a single mom, working full time, and going to school. I need a fully working motorcycle that will get me to work and back. I can't afford payments, obviously, and don't have money saved up to buy one. I had one previously, but due to a divorce and a near bankruptcy, my parents bought it and my dad is trying to fix it up for himself. Between the insurance and gas money on that, I believe I will be able to save around $100 a month, and that is a wonderful thing for someone who has absolutely ZERO left over every month! PLEASE HELP! I know I am asking for a miracle, but I am praying that God will provide me with it! Please e-mail me at the e-mail address provided by craigslist or text me.

Thank you and God Bless!


While I appreciate the logic of trying to save money on gas by getting a bike, it seems like the high price of gas is the least of your problems. I'm fairly sure that God does not in fact supply free motorcycles. Especially not ones that are "fully working". Also, nice dad you got there.

Exhibit 2:

Date: 2011-11-12, 6:30PM MST


Ummm, maybe forgo the tree this year? Do you still have a string of lights from previous years? Because I've made a tree shape out of lights on the wall before and then taped paper ornaments inside the outline. It actually looked pretty cool and it didn't cost me anything. It should be noted that this particular lister has been putting various versions of this same ad up since mid-October.

Exhibit 3:

I need furniture beds,couches,tv etc - $20 (phx)
Date: 2011-11-13, 4:14PM MST

is anyone giving away any beds couches tvs household items. im in need of donations I do not have anything in my apartment, I do have a little cash maybe like 20 if anyone haz a heart please can u help this mom out call me xxx xxx xxxx

Okay, pulling the mom card is almost understandable, trying to guilt us by suggesting that if we don't give to you we must not "haz a heart" is less so. Asking for beds is acceptable, asking for tvs not so much. Also, Craigslist really doesn't limit the number of characters you use so you can actually spell out all of your words. And don't get me started on the lack of capitalization and random punctuation.

Exhibit 4:

Piano (PHX)
Date: 2011-11-12, 10:02AM MST

If anyone has a piano they would like to give away I would gladly take it. I can hire someone to move it, so you don't have to worry about damage to your home.

Wow, that's so nice that you'll hire someone to remove it from my home. I guess I should be grateful you didn't ask me to deliver it. But seriously, are there that many people giving away pianos these days?

I'm sure the number of ads and the feeling of desperation conveyed will increase exponentially with each week closer to Christmas we get. The week before Christmas will invariably be filled with people angrily complaining about all of the "grinches" in this town that must want the kids to suffer with no Christmas presents under the tree, blah, blah, blah. I'm not heartless, I just find it interesting how many people out there think that everyone one else should supply their houseful of furniture and holiday cheer.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Latest Backyard Projects

Last weekend Mister C invited a friend over to hang out. Okay, not really. What really what happened is that his friend drove over sixty miles across the valley just to help Mister C build our new pergola. His friend was even kind enough to bring his fourteen year old apprentice, aka his son Wes. Mister C has nice friends.

Anyway, here's a picture of the before...

And here's the end result.

I think they did a fantastic job, especially since I didn't have to lift one single board.

Today on the other hand, Mister C and I put together three raised garden bed frames and I did have to lift many heavy boards. But in the end it worked out pretty well since here's our final product (sans dirt currently.)

It should be noted that we moved the three boxes around several times (more heavy lifting) and ended up right back where we started. I guess I can't complain since I'm the one that had grand ideas of how they should be arranged. Sadly, I'm also the one who originally suggested the configuration that we started and ended with.

The girls found very the boxes very appealing.

The plan is to fix the irrigation tomorrow after church and then start filling them in with the three and a half yards of dirt that was delivered Monday. I had a picture of the pile on my patio but it disappeared so I'll retake it tomorrow as part of the garden finishing post.

At the end of the day I sat down on the front box and was almost immediately approached by Rocky who was looking for a place to roost. Unfortunately for her I had to get dinner ready so she was out of luck tonight.

And finally, there's been a lot of feathers floating around the place lately. I suspect there's some kind of molt going on. There's certainly a lot of fluffing and cleaning of feathers going on. Like this...

I'm fairly sure Wedge is giving me the evil eye for my lack of sense in taking pictures of her backside. Ah well, I'm sure she forgot about it less than two seconds later.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thank you Veterans

For all you've done. For all you're currently doing. And for all you will do in the future to assure the people of this country the freedoms we so cherish. "Thank you" is never enough, but I say it with such gratitude.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 5, 2011




Friday, November 4, 2011

Skipping Gratitude, Going Straight To Greed

The three cats spent the first hour of their day today winding around our legs and running from the kitchen to the laundry room yowling at us. Eventually one of us (okay, it was Mister C) figured out that they had no food left. And there was no food in the pantry because I had run out last week. So, while Master J was showering I hopped in my car and headed over to Walmart to stock up and shut up the frenzied felines.

I've said before that I don't love this store. I think it mistreats it's employees and sells way too much cheap, foreign crap. But I digress. The main thing is that when I walked in the door I was greeted with full Christmas regalia. A huge decorated tree was by the door and the ten aisles that a few days ago were stocking candy and costumes were now loaded with Christmas candy and decor.

Are you kidding me? What happened to celebrating Thanksgiving? What the hell Walmart? Just. What. The. Hell.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Picture heavy update post...

So I hope your Halloween was happy in a scary, creepy sort of way. I'm becoming more entranced with the holiday every year, it's becoming my favorite holiday. It's not as commercialized as Christmas has become which is a huge thing. I love Christmas, totally love going to the service and seeing the birth of Jesus played out by the kids, but the rest of it is hugely corporate. Halloween is cheaper...a few bags of candy, maybe a new costume if Master J has grown a bunch, pizza for dinner. The house decorations take less than two hours to put up and take down. And I never have to cook on Halloween (see dinner plans above). Plus there's zero family/holiday related stress because really, how much stress can there be to show up any time before dark and eat pizza? So anyway, I enjoyed it immensely and so did Master J. We have way too much candy leftover however so I'm going to be donating it. Southwest Ambulance is doing a collection for the troops this Thursday in our area. I just need to bag it up and write a letter to accompany it and they'll take care of the rest.

Anyway, here's a couple of pictures of my pumpkins this year. And no, the pumpkin on the right does not say "MOM", it's supposed to say "NOM" as in "Om, nom, nom!" but evidently I carve words as well as I write them thereby rendering them easily mis-read.

And a chicken update. The Flockers are doing well, eating everything in sight and growing quickly. I let them out in the morning for at least an hour to scrounge around in the yard. Then in the evening, before dusk, I let them out again so they can stretch their wings and eat bugs. For the last week, my barred rock hen has decided that I'm her new roost. As dusk falls and the other five girls head to the coop, Rocky comes over to where I'm sitting, hops up on my lap and cleans her feathers for a few minutes before settling in. I always end up having to carry her to the coop once I'm ready to go in for the night. I have no idea why she does this, it's just yet another abnormal animal in my horde.

And since this is an update post, I'll post a few recently printed pictures from my class.

Here's The Antagonizer doing her very best impersonation of a baboon...

I know right? Crazy awesome impersonator that cat. The picture was taken through the screen, I was on the patio at the time.

And here's Miss Lee and Music Man's miniature Dachshund, the ever adorable Lola...

I think that's about all that's new for today. I'll try to post more regularly since I seemed to fall of the planet periodically through October.