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We came back with a load of stuff from the old garage destined for the old shed, and found that the shed had been vandalized while we were away. Two-thirds of the boards I’d put over the broken window, those lowest to the ground, were torn off, and some of the exterior sheathing next to the door was pulled away from the frame and the insulation behind it torn out, too. Some of the previous owner’s detritus which I’d placed outside the shed door awaiting yet another dump run had been scattered as far as thirty feet away. I saw it as someone, most likely one or more children, staking an illegitimate claim. I was immediately driven from my happy place.

While we were unloading the stuff that came into the house, three little girls probably between six and eight or nine years old came up to us and their ringleader asked if we were the ones “who put locks our our shed”. “Our” shed, as if she were one of several to whom it belongs. I corrected the little bitch, saying “No, that’s our shed. I put the locks on it. We bought this place, it’s ours, and the the things inside the shed are ours.” Her response was “We played and kept some things in there”. Amethyst asked, “So you’re the ones who vandalized our shed, then?”. The little girls’ eyes all widened, and I interjected with “Yes, it was. Of course it was them”.

And of course it was. The little bitches were confronting us as if it was their right. The ringleader said that they’d heard some banging but don’t know who was doing it because they were inside eating dinner. Bullshit. Knowing that it would do no good and would likely be taken as a challenge, I informed the trio that if our place is vandalized again I’ll be calling the cops. At that, they left.

After unloading, we dashed off to obtain pseudo-food, and upon returning we watched the first three and a fourth girl’s game of catch expand from their adjoining yards into ours — the fourth girl backed into our yard, and kept backing deeper into it. The original trio seemed to be making it a point to remain entirely within their own yard. After we were inside, I looked out the window to see the fourth little bitch backed to about six feet in front of the truck, and saw the very next throw to her fly over her head to hit the truck. She threw her hands to her mouth as if gasping in surprise, which was bullshit as evidenced by the look on her smug little redneck face, and out the door I went.

I’ve changed my mind: I will be calling the cops tomorrow and one or both of us will be lodging a complaint with the manager of the park on Monday. I won’t accuse the little bitches, but the encounter with them will be reported accurately because it’s potentially relevant. We’ve got plans for this place that don’t include allowing vandalism, and we’ve just added surveillance cameras to the shopping list that already included a fence.

When I was a child myself, the only reason I preferred children over adults was that I was unable to defend myself against adults. Now, I’d be content to spend the rest of my life completely unaware of the existence of any human child. Where’s the Pied Piper when you need him?


More SOS. Don’t Read.

Finally getting the move down to the garage, I went out to our ratty-ass old (but new to us) shed to prepare it for its last winter and found a softball that I hadn’t put there amidst a scatter of shattered glass that looked suspiciously like it was once a window. Which I also had no memory of having put there on the floor of the shed. It might have painted a pretty picture if there had been sunlight streaming in through the gaping hole the glass had evacuated, but it was snowing so I said something like oh fuck I need this now like I need…

… to keep in mind that the only thing that has changed is that I don’t need to worry about breaking the damn window myself when I destroy and discard the shed in Spring. The kid didn’t have courage enough to accept responsibility for the window so has reason to worry that the old hippie dude will figure out what happened and tell mom and dad. The old hippie dude figured it out straight away, naturally, but has got old enough to not mind letting the little fucker sweat.

I have concluded that the problem is not that our new place is too small, but that the volume of the valuable stuff (AKA “shit”) we have accumulated over the course of our lives is too great. We’re about to acquire two of the previously mentioned dump coupons from the folks Amethyst works with, which will help a lot with that problem. Each coupon is good for one pickup truck plus one trailer load of valuable stuff, but my trailer hitch is in the dilapidated shed because the intimidating bumper manufacturer’s claim of “retains factory trailer hitch: yes” is a mite inaccurate. In order to fit the factory trailer hitch I must get around to removing some superfluous material from the intimidating bumper’s mounts, which I haven’t got around to yet. But with two dump coupons we’ll get the equivalent as two pickup loads, so once again I must say what the fuck. Not that I don’t habitually say so already.

If’n ya wants a classic though not yet antique Lazy Boy sofa and love seat you’ve got only a day or two to retrieve them before they go to the landfill. Please hurry because my back is fucked and Amethyst is a chicken wing. Which is my own personal slang for weakling: She can’t lift her own weight. (Though I can, I shouldn’t these days because it might be the last thing I do for myself in this life. My arbitrarily chosen limit is now one hundred pounds, one pound more than the floor jack I carried and survived twice yesterday.)

I’m already missing the garage after spending my evening trying to figure out how to jam miscellaneous garage stuff into one of our two extra bedrooms which has been designated as (a) the purple room, and (b) our indoor storage space until we build an actually useful shed. I believe that I might have got all of the tools and doodads I might need before the shed comes into existence into the happy vagina, er, uh, odd shade of pinkish-purple room now. The stuff that’s going into the dilapidated shed… well, mostly. Our plan for tomorrow is to move boxes that haven’t been unpacked in fifteen years into the happy… uh, purple room. That’s our plan. My plan is a bit different.

My followup plan is to avoid eating the garbage purveyed by the market deli and random Dinkytown restaurants for quite a long time, as doing so has added eight pounds to my frame in the last couple of weeks. The additional insulation hasn’t prevented my fingers from becoming numb while packing the contents of the unheated garage… the temperature rapidly drops to below freezing once the sun dips behind the mountain this time of year. I’ll gladly pay that final gas to keep the fingers I was born with. Fingers are important to programmers. We’re the people who use semicolons. And for some reason the one key on my keyboard whose label is worn away is the L key so apparently that right fing ringer must be important, too. I do ‘ls -lh’ quite a lot.

Oh shit. I’ve got some paying work yet to do tonight. See ya!

Same Old… still moving.

The move from the rented house to the playhouse continues. We no longer have hillbilly window coverings. Fuck the hillbilly idiot who thought that screwing blankets to the wall with drywall screws made more sense than hanging proper window coverings. We could probably finish the renovation/remodel without buying any screws or nails with all of the shit we’ve pulled out of the walls already.

A tankless water heater is now on our list o’ things t’ do. I’ve always wanted one just because bottomless hot water fuck yeah, and now Amethyst wants one, too, because our place came with a smallish water heater that’s about forty feet from the kitchen sink so the water heater cycles on before the hot water becomes available. I imagine that if such a thing is not already available on the market it wouldn’t take much effort to craft up a recirculation system that we can invoke over the wireless network to get the hot water ready before walking all the way to the kitchen to use it. The water heater I’ve been eyeing is somehow “wireless enabled” so it might be even easier to implement than the system I’ve got in mind and am prepared to build from scratch. Maybe not superior to it, but WTF.

I get to bill a client for almost two hours of listening to a guy on the phone learning what I’d already told him via email for free, which is always good. At the end of it all he updated a trouble ticket he’d opened with their dedicated server provider (who shall remain nameless but it’s a name that rhymes with Rackspace) to say “I’ve worked with a system administration consultant to resolve this issue so don’t require your help with it”. Though I’m one of myriad resellers of the services delivered by that outfit whose name rhymes with Rackspace, my ultimate goal is to get as many clients as possible running their own hardware on their own internet links as possible, and this is at least a light breeze blowing in that direction. I mean, what the fuck, ya know, I’ve got Gigabit internet for seventy bucks a month way out here in the sticks, so surely folks in places like Boston and New York can get the same, right?

No, of course not. But they ought to be able to. It is, after all, the 21st century.

Which is to say that I’m really digging this Gigabit internet thang. I’ve not got Gigabit all the way to the workstations yet as that will require some additional homebrew networking gear, but at least I know how to build it and will, soon enough, do so. It’s the soon enough part that pisses me off just now, as it requires that I buy the hardware and configure the software, and that takes time that I don’t have at the moment. Gotta get completely out of the old house first… dammit.

It’ll all be memories soon enough. Fuckin’ yay.

I’ve come to embrace this we’re-old-now downsizing thing, as has Amethyst, so we were delighted to discover this evening that the county landfill offers coupons for a free dump of a pickup plus trailer load of household shit. They claim to send out one such coupon per year to all residents of the county, but I’ve never seen one so I’m’a fuck with ’em about it. Our old neighbor the noisy-ass biker dude works out there so I might be able to score a good-guy discount, too. Ya never damn know in a place like Dinkytown but it’s always worth a try. I figure that eighteen years of not seeing the free dump coupon oughta be worth something, anyway. And, if not, it’s a lot easier to hurl old shit into the landfill than to concern oneself with whether or not it gets broken in moving. Win:win even if it costs us a few buckaroonies.

As is entirely too common, I had a point at the beginning of this byte spew that has since gone missing. Be well, friends and neighbors!

Not Fun: Moving

Being in no great rush to get everything out the door of the rental, we’re dragging a few small loads a day to the playhouse. We have entirely too much crystal, way too much of it stemware. Entirely too much glassware, too. Entirely too many stock pots, water bath canners, and measuring cups and spoons, as well, which serve as reminders that we married later in life than we ought to have. The trickiest part of it, though, as always, is getting my spice cabinet properly arranged — and consolidating the redundancies there, too, as I often figure out what dinner’s going to be while we’re at the market and can’t always remember what I’ve got on hand.

I know that proper white people are supposed to grocery shop just once each week with a carefully prepared shopping list matched to a healthful, well balanced meal plan. I ain’t that proper a white person. Cooking at home is not about maximizing efficiency.

So much for blogging. Snoogins just had her second seizure in as many weeks after several months of being without. I hope that the emotional stress of the move triggered it and that upping her dose of puppy weed will prevent future seizures. Amethyst and I had both silently noted that Starr had been easily startled for a couple of days but failed to correlate it with our previous observation of her former jumpiness subsiding when we started her on the medical pot. Dammit.

Miss Awesome has been a bit off, too, mostly because when we’re bringing loads from the old place we close her up in our bedroom (and Starr in what’s the game room until the remodel). She’s been grouchy about being picked up since she learned that it’s often the precursor to being locked up. She spends most of her time on our bed anyway, but she doesn’t like closed doors between us.

Moving is always hard on the kids.

Greetings from the pointy end of my brand new one Gigabit fiber-optic internet connection here at the playhouse. This being Dinkytown we’re running on a stopgap setup with the modem in the master bedroom and forty-plus feet of ethernet cable connecting it to my networking gear, but it was that or nothing until the working dudes show up to pull a new cable. What, me worry? I’ve never had a Gigabit of internet bandwidth before.

We’ve been in the playhouse for a few days now, still moving our stuff from the old place but not in a mad rush. We’d agreed to give 30 days notice to the landlady so we’ve got plenty of time to get it done — and we’re moving only six blocks. We talked this evening about how much more we like our smaller place than the rented house, and it didn’t occur to me until later that that’s not really as remarkable as it seemed at the time because we’d both come to loathe the rented place.

I’ve mentioned the 1970’s built-in funk that Amethyst adores… but wait, there’s more! The view out our kitchen window is of the back of the feed store. The poly on their relatively large greenhouse reached the end of its life this year and the recent powerful storms left it hanging in tatters. To complete the picture, they store random odds and ends of fencing and irrigation pipe, pallets that I might try to talk them out of, and the usual feed store flotsam behind their building. For some odd reason there’s been a pallet jack just right out in the open on their lot where our drive meets the street since some time before we first came to look at the place — the most plausible explanation I can devise is that it’s broken and they’re hoping that someone will steal it so they don’t have to pay by the pound to dump the thing at the county landfill. The valuable stuff is all inside the fence. Except the dumpsters, which are protected by closed-circuit surveillance cameras whose field of view doesn’t extend all the way to the pallet jack’s resting place.

When the feed store first installed their dumpster cameras several years ago I wondered why they cared if someone stole their trash. I blame Arlo Guthrie for that sort of thought when I have one. I seem to be having more of them lately and like to believe that it’s an effect of downsizing, since unburdening ourselves and ditching stress are the points of it.

I find it a vaguely romantic situation, being the old hippies who live in the mobile home behind the feed store in an isolated dinky-ass town in the Rockies. Old hippies need places where they can just go and do their own things, and society needs for them to do their own hippie things in out of the way places, so it’s a perfect fit.

I’ve figured out how to get myself almost a garage: We’ll put up an attached carport, and essentially close the back of it with the shed we’re going to build — we’ll give it a shed roof angled to match the angle of the carport roof, and tuck the front of the shed under the back of the carport. Then we’ll span the long open side of the thing with substantial trellises stuck into the ground and plant some kind of woody vine to climb them, creating a living wall that doesn’t wind or snow load the carport structure at all. It will still be outdoors, but most of the wind and snow should stay outside of the thing. The climate buffer effect might even shave a few pennies off of our heating and cooling bills, but my primary concerns are protecting the truck and shaving a bit of misery out of my life should I be compelled to work on it in winter.

Which is made easier by our more convenient location: Within a very short walking distance are two Chinese restaurants, a liquor store, and my preferred auto parts store. It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Happy Thanksgiving, to those who are celebrating it, and happy Thursday to everyone else.

Maybe phew

I crawled under the place today and found that the pipe that’s ours is both intact and properly situated. Not only that, the effluent flowed entirely beneath our vapor barrier so there’s no evidence of the leak visible from the underside at all. Someone Else’s Problem. Yay. I’ll call Someone Else about it tomorrow. It’s nice to have a Someone Else to call. Especially for sewer problems.

There was, completely unfathomably, a built-in corner desk in the master bedroom. Original stuff, in the place since forever. Amethyst called it “the anti-funk”. It yielded to the persuasive influences of various implements of destruction and will be unpleasantly strange no more. Remarkably, I lost no flesh or blood in the removal process.

I’m calling it a good day. And good night.

Mixed luck

Our luck was good and we took possession of the playhouse yesterday. Yay!

My first act was to replace the pantry door catch. A small thing, but an important thing. The original hardware was one of those cheap double roller catches whose telltale of failure is kitchen cabinet doors perpetually ajar. Millions of ’em all over the world, just a little bit open all the time because some nimrod won’t replace the damn catch. I looked ’em up on the Home Depot web site a bit ago: $0.98 each. All it takes is a screwdriver to take the old one out and put the new one in. Some nimrod solved that problem on what just became our pantry door by installing a slide bolt. $2.78 each at Home Depot. To make it work, he or she had to gouge out the door frame trim. It cost more and was more work to fuck up but he or she did it anyway, and for the next however many years that pantry door was someone’s daily inconvenience. It’s got a nice magnetic catch on it now, almost five bucks but we’re worth it.

I suppose that an alternative explanation could be that the double roller catch became redundant after the installation of the slide bolt whose purpose was to keep a poorly behaved toddler out of the pantry. If that was the case, cutting out the trim was still an unnecessarily destructive solution to a simple problem.

There are a few stupids of that sort around the place that I’m going to get rid of just because things like that piss me off too much to live even one day with them. They’re minor things, really, but it’s a very sensitive bundle of nerves that they twang. And even without those sensitive nerves I’d still see what the work people do or don’t do for themselves says about them, which is not always good.

Today, our first full day of ownership, we found that we’ve bought a sewage leak. I’ll be looking into the bowels of the thing tomorrow to see what we’re up against… probably a cracked or dislodged pipe, so probably as easy a fix as dealing with biologically hazardous waste can be. Bleach ‘n’ lime time… dammit. I’ve decided that I’m not going to get mad about it or fret over it. It’s bad enough that nothing more than smelling and looking at it has left me feeling slimy and toxic. A long hot shower didn’t help. Not in that regard, anyway.

We’ve been referring to the particularly 1970’s looking design elements of the place “the funk”, and it’s struck a chord with Amethyst. She won’t let me take out the funk unless I put it back in some way better, so now we’re looking at swag lamps. Specifically green swag lamps, as opposed to the nasty ass orange that was more popular for a time. And small white globe swags for the bathroom, too. Because funk.

Of course that was the first song we played in the place after taking possession of it.

It’s official: The jack & jill bathroom is coming out and the resulting larger space will become our shared office. That was my thought the first time we saw the place but Amethyst wanted to think on it, and today she made her decision. Yay. I’ve disliked those things since the first time I saw one and will be happy to see the last of this one. Ripping it all out before it leaks will mean that I’ll never know how painful it would be for my busted body to work on the plumbing beneath that sink. Double bonus.

It seems that the shed we need to last one more winter has it in it to do so, with a bit of patching and a lot of paranoia on my part. I’m going to construct a temporary raised floor with some bricks and scrap wood that somehow came with the place and use tarps to prevent water from getting at my garage stuff from any direction, then when the weather warms we’ll build a new shed and haul the old eyesore to the landfill. It was probably the same dork who installed the feed shed hardware on the pantry door who built the shed. It’s basically an OSB destruction experiment but with a surprisingly okay roof on it. There’s no sign of the roof having ever leaked or being about ready to start, but the walls are designed to self destruct. They’re OSB inside and out with styrofoam insulation between, resting upon a floor of bare plywood on bare wooden beams on soil. The floor is vapor permeable but the shell is not, so the moisture that enters through the floor is trapped within the shell. The high moisture level causes the OSB to lose its shear strength, which is the primary contribution of sheathing to a stud-framed wall, so soon enough the walls come down. The OSB Goon apparently knew none of this.

Looking at all the work before us is alternating, for me, between exciting and terrifying. While I’m eager to do the work that we’ve planned, I worry that there may be expensive surprises lurking behind walls and/or under floor coverings. I suppose that it’s probably a very common worry. The place reads positively. It was well cared for by someone who had actual skill prior to OSB Goon, who didn’t attempt anything major and clearly lacked the skill to cover up a serious problem. It’s likely that I’ll spend a little time rooting out his half-assery and the big work that we’ll do over time will go without too many surprises. The place isn’t wired with aluminum or plumbed with polybutylene, there’s insulation where it should be, and so on, but still I worry.

Which makes me glad that pot’s legal here.