Exchanges in the Night

J has just switched to Irish Spring body wash. It just smells good. On him, I mean. I'm not quite so convinced that I should be using it. As a result, I bought a bottle of milk protein and honey body wash for myself. Curse big box stores that put the Ivory bodywash on sale. Apparantly, everyone else likes the only scent we can agree on to both use enough to clean the store out before we get there. J and I have taken to showering before going to bed to combat the heat in the house. I crawled into bed the other night after showering, and spooned up against J. He grabbed my arm and started sniffing. "I can't decide what I smell like. Just that it smells familiar" "Mmmhmmm....(big sniff)...I know!" J starts laughing, "You smell like Golden Grahams!" Just what I always wanted to be: a part of this complete breakfast.

All Together Now..."Awwww"

A year ago today I married my sweetie. The roller coaster hasn't slowed since. I love you babe. Happy anniversary. Keep enjoying the ride.

Where I Realize That I Am Turning Into My Mother...

By the time this posts, J and I should be gone on the 3 week odyssey of our road trip to Washington and Charleston, SC. Hopefully, good times will be had by all. J has never done anything like this, and I haven't since I moved out of my parents' house. It's one thing to go to Europe for a month with my parents. It's another thing to spend all this time in the car with them. When I was younger, my father got 5 weeks of vacation in a block. One year, it would be the month of July, the next year, it would be the month of August. Because of the type of work, if we stayed home, our phone would have continued to ring to ask him some type of question, or to do something other than relax. I was sure that it was normal for people to pull up stakes the morning that vacation started and come back to town the night before you returned to work. This meant that my family had wonderful long adventures together: Europe, South America and Africa for 35 days; long camping trips to both coasts. We went away. I'm still somewhat like that, despite a husband who if working could only get a week or perhaps 2. I have time, and we should make the most of it by travelling. Something planned out, but leaving lots of time for experiencing the journey. I travelled in a car that stopped for historic road markers, picnics on the side of the road, and sometimes an ice cream. J remembers only 1 vacation with his family. They went to Yellowstone for 10 days. They got up, and his father started driving from Ohio. They stopped when they got to Yellowstone. Same thing coming home. I asked him if he felt ripped off missing all the interesting things between home and the park. He didn't know what I meant. What I hated most about summer vacations with my parents was the food for the first part of the trip: not what it was as much as what it wasn't. I swore my mother made the biggest batch of cookies she could think of for us to take. She would sped time thinking of snacks and meals that included things brought from home. We would have to finish it all before I was allowed to start choosing store bought cookies for lunch, or get a package of the little boxes of cereal, the one time a year I was allowed to eat presweetened varieties. I thought about this the other day as I made Chex Mix and a big batch of cookies for us to take with us. Not because I was thinking about the kinds we could buy when we run out of home made snacks, but about how much we'll save on the road. I've already heard my mother come out of my face...but this is the first time I've experienced some kind of mind-meld, which I'm sure has probably happened in the past, and I've ignored it. It's starting to happen more frequently, and frankly it scares me a bit. There are worse people I could be melding with: Paris Hilton or Martha Stewart to name a couple.

The End of the Story (Or so we hope...)

So where did I leave off? I meant to come back to this rather quickly, and failed miserably. Sigh. Look what vacation does to me. Sloth. So the painter came, and cut holes in the ceiling and wall, looking for mold. Remember how I said that the attic was well ventilated? Apparantly, it is. The ceiling and wall were both dry by the time he got in there, and the insulation was fine. We're pretty sure the leak is fixed. At least, we went with it is. Here is the new room in Benjamin Moore's colour Baby Fern:
Look! No gaping wallpaper! Smooth ceiling! Nicely painted woodwork! What more could a girl ask for, except some money out of the roofers to pay for it all.
Here's the hall that was also painted at the same time in Benjamin Moore's Yellow Raincoat:
I'm so happy that this is all over with (as far as I'm aware). I told a friend on the phone on the weekend that if I come back from vacation to anthing the slightest bit disturbed in the office (unless someone wants to come over and load everything in the guest room back into the office), I'm going to take a sleeping bag and camp out in the roofer's office until they can say with certainty that the roof is fixed. J has promised to come with me. I'm sure our making out when we realize there's not much else to do during our impromptu sit in will get the wheels moving.
In a crazy aside, J called this week to lodge our complaint about the lack of metal going up over the caulking. Apparantly, the guy who has been put in charge of our problem fell over the long weekend and broke his ribs. He's not working, and they don't want to send someone else. I have a feeling that I'm going to be sleeping on an office floor before the summer is over.

The Sad Cautionary Tale of Sarah and J's Roof

So, I've been promising this story for a while...I've just been trying to get to a point where I'm no longer angry. I think I've succeeded. This is going to be long, and hopefully cathartic. I should really be putting together lists of stuff for work in the fall, but I don't want to. I made another abortive trip out to the school today. Once again, no cars. I've come to the conclusion that I am not to go in before the middle of August, like a normal administrator. It will just be a couple of late nights then. The waiting is turning me into a horrible person. But, my story. It's a good one. I'll get to the lessons learned later. When I went house shopping 5 years ago (gah!), I wanted interesting wall space, good light, and something close to my work. I also have a love for old houses, I discovered, and found myself one that I love that was built in 1913. It's narrow, has wide wood moldings, hardwood floors, and character. When I moved in, I knew that I would need a new roof. The inspector had made it clear that the roof was fine, but it needed to be redone. So the first fall I was here, I spent a miserable couple of months arranging my schedule so that I could get roofers to come and do quotes for the following Spring. You would think that guaranteed work for the following year would make them come, but it didn't. I finally managed to convince a couple to show, and hired the more professional of the 2 who showed up. I really don't regret my decision, desipte the heartache of this year. They came when they said they would, and came in on budget. I was happy and wrote a check. They were happy and told me all about my 10 year warranty. In February, I came up the stairs on a Saturday morning after a sleet storm, looked in my office door and saw something much like this:
The staining in this picture is from June. I wasn't taking pictures in anger at that point. At some point in the house's 94 years, there was another leak, and the homeowners of the time put up stylish wallpaper over the stains and texturized it. Classy.
We called a friend of ours who went into the attic (J and I don't own a ladder, and I don't think would fit through our attic hatch...thank goodness for friends who are willing to do so!) He told us that he could see daylight through a space near the chimney, and we should call the roofers. Thankfully, he also told us that the attic was well ventilated, and it probably wouldn't be a big deal to get it fixed.
I called the roofers. J was still working, but around in the mornings; and Monday a guy came to take a look. He couldn't go up to poke around because it was icy, and he didn't have a ladder tall enough. Our house needs the big 28 ft ladder, completely open. But you know, they're roofers. You would think that they'd bring the big ladder. This is a common theme in this story: they don't have a big enough ladder to take a look. He told us to call in March/April, when the weather was better, he'd bring back the big ladder, and they'd go up and take a look at the chimney.
In late April, we still hadn't heard from the roofers...but the paint was starting to peel in the office - starting along the cracks in our plaster from where the water would run down:
Note where the water would run, dragging the dust with it. I think the camera caught this well, don't you?
Now that J was home full time, he decided to call the roofers again. Turns out the guy who'd come to see us had been fired, and they had no record that he'd been to see us. They said they'd come out when they could. Of course, the first time they showed up on our doorstep, they didn't have the big ladder again.
So went the month of April: J calling every few days, and their promising that they'd do something soon. Meanwhile, we were looking for someone to repair the damage in the office. We still think that we may move, and well, we can't sell a house with a leak. Or, we can...but not for as much as a house with no leak.
Around the end of the month, when we had a hot spell, J called one day and was told that the roofers had come the previous night. Around 7:30. We'd gone for ice cream and had no idea if they'd really been here or not. But here was the clincher: we wanted an invoice verifying that the work had been done.
Weeeell....did we really need that? They didn't normally issue a piece of paper for caulking a chimney.
Meanwhile, the rest of the work on the house was continuing apace. The topsoil and seed went down in the backyard, the aluminum around a window was replaced, and we had brick repointed. Frankly, we got real lucky with the repointing. They needed a small Friday job, and we fit the bill. We agreed to the work Wednesday, and they set up Thursday afternoon.
Luckily, J called the roofers again looking for the elusive invoice from the roofers. The girl on the phone started into the same song and dance we'd been getting for a couple of weeks, and J's response was that we didn't feel like valued customers, seeing as he could call other contractors and have them working within 48 hours. Almost made her cry. This makes me a little proud, simply because I'm the heavy for customer service. I wouldn't have had the time or the patience to deal with the roofers as long as he did. It was the right tactic. We had roofers on our doorstep that evening, telling us that they were the ones who had done the work, and if there was another problem, they'd issue us an invoice. We insisted, and got a letter out of the roofers stating that they'd done the work the day they came to talk to us. Our names were spelled wrong, the street name was spelled wrong, but we had something. We went with the work was done, and hired a painter and plasterer to repair the inside of the house. The weekend before the painter was supposed to start, it was beastly here. Well over 30, vilely humid, and we had storm after storm. My friend had come for dinner with her pictures of Africa on a memory key, and we had to keep shutting off the computer. It poured rain horizontally. We should have known what was coming.
I got up the following morning and took a shower. As I was walking past the office after my shower, I heard dripping in the office on the hardwood floor and the desk...right in front of my monitor. The roof wasn't fixed.

Isn't this attractive? The paper started to rip because it was so waterlogged. The stains travelled the full length of the room along the seam in the wallpaper. This is after I started to clear the room, and the paper has dried.

This is the "do you think there's mould up there?" shot. Notice how much bigger the gap is, and the new cracks. These pictures are a sample of the many I took. Suddenly, we had to stop the painter, reschedule the carpet that we'd picked for the hall, and all that. We also called in the insurance company with our tale of woe. Frankly, I was at the point where I didn't care if the rates went up, so long as I didn't have to think about all this anymore. (as a side note, because this wasn't an act of God, they weren't willing to do anything. They told us to go after the roofers. But after the roofers last trip up to look, the insurace guy were up there. They also didn't bring a big enough ladder the first time. They say things look sound)

I was also the lucky person who got to call the roofers and politely tell them what I thought of their caulking job. I ended with an, "I expect to hear from you tomorrow with how you plan to fix this problem." At 8:45, we had a roofer on our doorstep: pair of tennis shoes and a pair of shorts on, and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. He was "just driving by" and wanted to know how our roof was. He seemed shocked when we explained that it was still leaking. He promised to come back the next day and take a look.

They called at 5:20. They were just packing up. They'd be there soon to take a look around. At 8, a crew came out and up they went. Our guess was that this was the first time, based on what they found: a 1/2" gap that needed caulking. When asked if it was faulty product or ineptitude during installation, I was told that this "happened sometimes". Right. Apparantly, what we need is a piece of metal to block the gap. The caulking is a temporary fix. Not surprisingly, we're still after them for the metal.

What I have learned is this:

  1. Contractors are a pain in the ass. And a necessary part of life. They know it.
  2. J's being home this Spring has been great. We are squeaky wheels with the roofers, and we have had some results.
  3. There is a reason people sue for mental damages. I'm not a big drinker, but I've had more than a few in the last month as this has dragged on. We quit eating at home because I lost all ambition. I also spent a lot of time standing in the door of my office, staring at the ceiling, hating the Whos.
  4. Everyone should own a 28 foot ladder.

So. Much.

Things have been happening here on the Mountain, and I've been remiss. Mostly, I just haven't been able to process lately. With school ending, trying to say goodbye to students who are wishing me a horrible year next year so that I come back to them, packing, preparing for a trip, dealing with contractors, and being so very tired, I haven't been here. With 6 days until we leave on vacation, I'm not sure how much I'll be here for the next little bit. Here are the things that currently consume my time, in no particular order: 1. The leak is *fingers crossed* fixed. We've had the room drywalled and plastered and painted. The hall has been painted too. Pictures forthcoming. Apparantly, I felt strongly about the leak. I have 15 pictures of the wall, the falling wallpaper, the stains on the ceiling that we looked at, trying to decide if it was mould. Carpet arrives this week. Frankly, the saga is a good one, and now that I'm not in it, I can probably be coherent enough to blog about it. 2. I got a new to me computer monitor. A 19" flatscreen. I luuurve it. Going from the beast that threatened to crack the glass shelf it sat upon to this little number is amazing. Silly things like technology shouldn't make me this happy. We also took our CPUs in to get them blown out after the drywall dust, and I got some more RAM and a better virus program so that I no longer have 2 conflicting program running simultaneously on my computer. It's still not as fast as J's, but I can do things on my computer! Like open Itunes in less than 5 minutes. 3. We booked a cruise for March Break this week. We cruised for our honeymoon, and frankly, developed a taste for it. J and I have been toying with it for a while now, and have decided that it's not going to get any cheaper with current energy prices. This also gives us an excuse to go and see his aunt in California before we go. I don't think it will be quite as plush as the cruise we took for our honeymoon (older, smaller ship and so on), but it will be nice. And a vacation is what you make it to be. 4. We leave in less than a week for our summer adventure - a 2.5 week road trip. J has never done anything like what we have planned, and it's been a long time since I have. We've got the GPS, the satellite radio, the reservations and itinerary. Now all we need to do is pack. Bleh. 5. I'm pretty sure that my new principal lives, eats, and breathes school. We're going to have to find a happy medium for the 2 of us. I need more balance than that. While there are things that I need to do before the first day of school, I can't spend time in the building right now. And I feel guilty about that. Argh. 6. I'm back to sleeping 10 or 11 hours at night. I'm hoping this soon will pass. I found at March Break this year I finally gave myself permission to be tired, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I'm back in that position again. I fall into bed at night and sleep like the dead. But I'm starting to feel rested during the day, so things are coming along. I think that's all...and it's quite a bit. I need to deal with so much in the office still, but I like how open and clean it looks. Everything is still stacked in the guest room, all over everything . I guess I can't have it both ways.