Decorating a-go-go

I may have mentioned this more than once, but we’ve been living here in this house for almost 20 years.  We moved in the first day of November, 2000 and were renting the house at that time.  About a year later the people that owned the house made us an offer well below what they had the place listed for.  My wife and I at that time were still both working (she retired in 2006) and getting a mortgage from a ‘brick and mortar’ bank was proving elusive.  Online banking was in its infancy, and we decided to go that route instead.  We inputted our combined earnings with one of the fledgling startup mortgage companies and wonder of wonder, we got approved.  They sent us the requisite paperwork, our percentage rate wasn’t too bad, and it was agreed to be a 30 year note.

Before we finished purchasing, we had a company called ‘Pillar to Post’ go over the house and property, so as to give us an idea of what exactly we were getting into.  Granted we knew the house was built in the 1830s, so it was bound to have certain quirks, and we already had been living here for a little over a year, so some of those quirks were already known to us (sadly, the bats were discovered about a month after the sale was finalized.  Would have been better to know about them beforehand) though the inspector gave us some other things to consider and discuss with the sellers before everything was signed and monies were paid.

One of the things we thought was a little weird was, before we were able to occupy the house, the owners decided to paint just about every room in the house white.  The only rooms they left alone were ones that either had paneling, wallpaper, or a combination of the two.  Consequently, as we were never able to decide what color to paint any room of the house, we’ve pretty much lived with mostly white walls.  Over the course of our time too, we’ve not hung too many pictures, and what ones we have, have been a bit haphazard to say the least.  In the hallway there’s a piece of signed artwork from Berkeley Breathed.  It’s a print of the comic strip Bloom County, from 2015 when he decided to start drawing the comic again after a hiatus of about 25 years.  He’s continuing to draw them, but he’s relegated his postings to Facebook, and not newspapers.  So he doesn’t have to be required to ‘toe the line’ of publishers, in essence he’s self-publishing his work.  It seems to be working out the better for him.

Getting back to the topic at hand, we really haven’t had much time or money to do anything with the interior of the house, most of our time and expense has been with the exterior.  Getting a new vehicle put a dent in our money set aside of repairs and upgrades for the house, so perhaps this year we may not get the new furnace we were thinking about, perhaps just a coat of paint for the outside parts that aren’t brick.  A lot of the fascias and soffetts could use a coat of paint, the garage needs some work inside and out, and the bathrooms could use a major upgrade.

Lots of work to be done here.  Just have to set aside the money and time to get it all done.

Final Touches

I’m thinking that we’ve finally finished buying flowers and plants for our respective gardens and plots around the property.  I’m thinking also that I’m about ready to situate the roto-tiller for the year into a corner of the garage, so that it will be ready for use next year.  We did errands on Wednesday, going to our usual ‘go-to’ greenhouse, who are having their ‘end-of-season’ sale before closing for the year.  Unfortunately, they had closed early for some reason, but will be open on Friday.  Not to be outdone, there’s another greenhouse on the other side of town we could check out, and they have ice cream.

While we were out, we also did some grocery shopping.  Normally I prefer to do my shopping by myself, without the wife, because she likes to wander around the store, and gets lost.  (I call it “lost”, she’s just browsing and tends to lag behind)  Me, knowing where just about everything in the store is, can get in and out in record time.  Even so, there are times when I take a little longer at the store, seeing people that I work with and engaging in conversation with them about this or that.  Generally when I shop with the wife, it’s on an off-day from work, so things might have happened in the intervening 18-20 hours that I was unaware of.  Too, there are times during my vacation where I shop at the store, so the conversation tends to be a little longer at that point, much to the wife’s consternation.  So the pendulum swings both ways.

Insofar as being done with the gardening, at least the major getting ready and planting parts are completed.  The beds have been prepped, tilled, graded, weeded (initially) and planted.  We purchased five bags of mulch from Lowes several weeks ago, and finally got them spread in the last couple of days.  Added to the bag and a half that was saved from two years ago, the ones that were stored under the stairs, we’re still probably about a bag or two short of what we really need to keep the weeds at bay.  Having looked up the ratio of thickness of mulch to weed suppression, its been suggested on more than one site that a depth of 3-4 inches is ideal, and we’re nowhere close to that.  A basic layer of about an inch in most places is about the best we could do with 6 1/2 bags.  Too, there are several areas that haven’t been mulched at all, considering it’s where the knotweed is most prevalent.  More than likely that’s going to be left to its own devices for the time being, and possibly for the remainder of the season.

My idea of getting a second wheelbarrow got shot down in the afternoon, the wife has decided that she wants to not only fix her old one, she wishes to repaint it before the summer is over as well.  My suggestion wasn’t with the idea of replacing the one we have, that she inherited from her parents (along with the roto-tiller I just finished fixing) just giving it a little respite, considering its age.  Even so, she almost had a nutty about the whole idea, so I just dropped it.  Perhaps her idea of the JB-Weld she’s getting from Amazon will work.  If not, I have a back-up plan that involves taking it to a metal fab place near here and see if they’re able to weld the handle back together.  It’s worth a shot.

I was intending to have pictures here when this posts, but I will have to add them in later.  I didn’t take any this afternoon when I got finished and it rained before I could get back out to document the ‘finished product’.  That will have to wait for the next day.

Off to bed, some of us work weekends.


Bluster = Intent?

About every three months my union has a conference call, what they call a ‘telephone town hall’ where the union President and whoever else he invites to participate talks to the members that wish to listen in.  Usually this is held at the union offices near Buffalo, NY, but sometimes they do it in a satellite place like Syracuse, Albany, or somewhere there’s a significant union presence, where they can be out and seen, interact with the rank and file, and in many ways give us all the impression that our union dues are actually going towards something meaningful, rather than what some suspect, padding their respective pockets.

In these calls, the format is welcoming everyone to the call, talking about what’s been occurring in the union over the last several months, since not all union members are with one particular company, there are several businesses that are covered by the union, so someone in the health care industry isn’t necessarily interested in pension business with a grocery chain and so on.  There’s some crossover, but not necessarily a lot.  On these calls, generally at any given time there may be anywhere between 700 and 3000 people listening in, depending on what’s being discussed.  Certainly more than one would get at a sit-down union meeting, as is evidenced by all the ones I’ve attended when it comes to discussing and voting on impending contracts.  Just as an example, the last time my particular contract was voted on, out of over 100 eligible employees that might have attended the meeting, four showed up.  FOUR.  Boggles my mind.  With that in mind, the organizers had several different locals at the meeting so as to allow for more people than one local would provide.  Still, the attendance rate was pretty dismal.

Getting back to the issue at hand, the meeting was mostly about what’s been happening ove the past three months, and to bring people’s attention to a program the union is sponsoring in regard to health care costs, that it requires some effort to participate in.  In order to lower the costs here in the US (since we don’t seem to have any rhyme or reason when it comes to health care charges) they started this program where one can provide them with some health care information (confidentially) and if there are certain warning signs (heart, pre-diabetes, etc) that person can get assistance in attending to it, from a health professional, as well as qualify for lower co-pays and higher payments from the health insurance, which can be a great thing if one ever has anything that would be more costly in that regard.

Generally, the business portion is dealt with first, then the floor is opened up for questions.  Too, there are small polls conducted, asking questions like “who are you going to vote for in the coming election“, (generally unions prefer Democratic candidates as Republicans aren’t very supportive of anything to do with organized labor as a rule) to fill in the time of the meeting.  After the business is attended to, the floor is opened up for questions.  Generally, the questions aren’t supposed to be about something the person is experiencing in their local store or employment location, but on occasion that does happen.  Too, questions attend to information or discrepancies in the health care plans, but every now and again someone asks something that effects all of us.

In that vein, this time, someone asked that sort of question.

Here in New York, the state government has been raising the minimum labor wage incrementally over the last ten years.  The Federal minimum wage is at $7.25/hour and has been there since 2009.  There have been several bills introduced in the Senate and House intending to raise it, but with Republican control in the Senate, and Trump in the White House, there’s little chance of a raise in the minimum wage on the Federal level anytime soon.  That’s not to say the Democrats are any less guilty of this, when Obama was President, Congress had little desire to raise it either, so there’s blame on both sides.

The question posed was; with the raising of the minimum wage that has been happening, every time that wage goes up, those of us that are earning more than minimum end up losing out, since eventually someone being hired could very well make about the same amount of money that another person (like myself) took 20-30 years to earn.  Minimum wage rising doesn’t translate to a bump in pay for people in grade.  We end up losing ground to this.  And the company I work for knows this, but does nothing about it.  They just throw up their hands, and say there’s nothing they can do and continue on their merry way.  (Of course it doesn’t stop them from awarding themselves bonuses whenever they feel like it, but that’s a different issue.)

The person asked if there was anything the union was intending to do about it, and that’s when the union President had a nutty.  I’ve actually never heard someone in his position get so passionate about an issue, and as he was going on about it, he was practically yelling into the phone.  I think it was a speakerphone on his end, since he was at a sit-down rank and file meeting that had been set up for this occasion.  That might have contributed to his actions, but he harranged about this for a good two to three minutes, basically calling out the grocery company I work for to do something about this issue (I do wonder if they had someone listening in on the call, or ever do) and just coming short of promising to bring this up at the contract negotiations next year.  Whether or not anything happens with this is very up in the air, but it was pretty interesting to listen to at any rate.

After this tirade, the meeting came rather quickly to a close.  All in all it wasn’t wasted time, and it gave me something to ponder as well as talk to with my fellow employees at work the next day, ones that hadn’t been in on the call.  I actually expect I’m one of the few at my store that even bothers to take these calls, but being older, I tend to give more weight as to what happens with the union than younger employees, who might not be so interested in building a career in the retail industry.