Category Archives: House

Kids, sometimes the world is just fucking with you

I knew this was coming.

When we did our Massive Home Renovation project in 2010, we knew it would end up raising our taxes. How could it not? We essentially sheared the roof off of our existing house and slapped on a whole ‘nother floor. The tax people were probably driving by in their green visors, clicking the keys on their calculators, whispering “ohhhh yeah. We’re gonna get something GOOD out of this.”


Full offense meant to anyone involved in any way with the assessment of my property taxes, by the way.

That’s right.

We finished the bulk of the construction in July 2010 and put off final inspection while loose ends were being tied up and taken care of. We finally ended up getting the final inspection done after we got a nastygram from the town, all “pls to let us inspect or you will have to pay $$ just because we said so” and then we braced ourselves for the new taxes.

Nothing happened.

We refinanced the thing, to take advantage of crazy-good rates and a shitty market environment (the house appraised at nearly what we paid for it, despite its nearly doubling in size) and waited for the new tax rate to hit us.

Nothing happened.

Until, RIGHT BEFORE THE FUCKING HOLIDAYS, we got slammed with the new tax rate. That payment is all bundled into our mortgage payment (P&I, taxes, etc), and when the new payment amount decided to be $800 more than we’d previously been paying, I had a heart attack, died, came back to life, and ate half of a carrot cake.

This is how I cope.

Our taxes MORE THAN DOUBLED. We went from paying just under $6K to just over $12K and THIS IS NOT FUCKING FUNNY, UNIVERSE.

We spent the morning digging around on the internet for comps and recent sale prices of houses for sale in our ‘hood. The news is slightly encouraging, but it could just be that we are on the front line of the town decided to jack up EVERYONE’S taxes. I do not want to be in that club.

Thus, we are going to appeal. Being an adult sucks hairy donkey shitballs sometimes.


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My To-Do List

So ever since getting the blog fixed, I am really happy with the amount of writing I’m doing. I don’t even care if I have an audience, but if you’re here, reading this (and not via Facebook), well hello there! I am going to subject you to my Weekend To-Do List! It’s my blog, after all, and like George Carlin once said “they’re my rules, I make ’em up.”

1. Find a microfiber cloth or something to wipe down the kitchen cabinet fronts. I don’t know if it’s the new Pledge dusting shit I bought or WHAT the fuck the cleaning ladies did, but they look weird and shiny and greasy as if they need to be buffed out. I think it’s the weird new Pledge that I bought, though, because the bacon grease does not seem to be disturbed at all.

2. Laundry. Oh, laundry. I hate you. A woman on one of my internet hangouts posted a thing about “mommy pr0n” (and if you don’t know why I put it that way, welcome to 1995) and it was a photo of a hot dude with a baby in a sling. Meh, fuck that noise. You want to get my chili cooking? Show me a hot dude FOLDING LAUNDRY. Ohhhh yeah, baby. You REALLY want to get me revved up? Show me a hot dude folding FITTED SHEETS. Damn, girl.

3. Transferring the beer! The beer needs to go from primary to secondary fermentation, even though this is really just a formality. We could put in the keg straightaway, but that would require emptying the beer fridge and I’m not scheduled to have a party or anything at the moment. So the Stonehenge Ale will go into 2nd until such time as I feel like kegging it. Then I will have to clean the carboy, which is NOT MY FAVORITE. For whatever reason, the angled carboy brush just does NOT get the job done as efficiently as I’d like but I have yet to see a successful workaround.

4. Got a birthday party tomorrow, those are always a good excuse to drink heavily fun. Our friends’ kid is turning 3, which baffles me because I always think he’s way older than that. Still, we haven’t seen that part of the gang for a while, and it will be nice to hang out and watch the kids lose their minds.

5. Brewing again on Sunday! We’re going to have to slow down the brew schedule or have more parties because we’re going to be all backed up with our beer. However, the holidays are coming and rather than give shitty meaningless gifts or bake cookies or something, we give out six-packs. Something for the whole family, you see.

6. I have to call the Nissan dealership and harass them about the parts for my truck. My poor truck needs shocks and struts and some other shit and they said 3-5 business days. Well today is the 5th business day WHERE ARE MY PARTS and let’s get them in so my truck stops trying to compress my spine with the bouncing and uncomfortableness.

7. Gotta change my nail polish. It’s truly the only girly thing I do to the body (hair dye doesn’t count because that’s art). I am currently rocking gold nails but they’re starting to look a bit scrubbly so it’s time to change it up. I just need a good hour of people leaving me the fuck alone so I can let them dry and set properly. I thought about going to the nail place but last time they talked me into the gel manicure and FUCK THAT because it doesn’t come off unless they take it off with their Hello Cancer chemicals and fancy doodads, so I let the last one “peel” off on its own schedule and that was like 6 months ago and my nails have only JUST recovered. So… no. Toes, maybe, because I could use a pedicure, but then again it’s nearly winter and nobody’s going to see the feet until May anyway.

8. My tattoo. I want to get it done sooner rather than later because I know I will have to stay out of the pool for a good three weeks or a month after it’s on. And I neeeeeeed to start swimming SOOOON, so if I get it done in the next week or so, I will be cutting it VERY fine on the swimming. I could push the swimming back, but… hm. I have amazing middle class problems and I am VERY thankful for that.

9. The dog is sitting under my feet, chewing her nails, so apparently it’s time to send her to the groomer. It’s been… awhile. She’s fairly stinky but it’s a dog smell, not a “holy shit, what the fuck did you roll in” smell, so that’s fine, but she chews her nails when they’re too long. I’ve never had a dog who did this, so I really doubt that’s a normal thing.

10. I wanted to round this out with a nice #10 but I can’t think of anything else at the moment. Happy Friday!

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Hurricane Readiness

As I type this, the NYC metro area is bracing for Hurricane Irene. She has landed in North Carolina already, and we’re all watching the weather and news reports coming in from there, with visuals of meteorologists knee-deep in the angry ocean and roofing materials flying through the swirling air. Good TV.

The powers that be have been telling us for days that this is “a big one” and much of the coastal area is under mandatory evacuation. We are fairly far inland, but at least two of the projections of Irene’s path bring her directly over our area. So we are as prepared as we can be.

Yesterday, we ran around town, stopping at Target and Home Depot to see if they had radios or batteries. No dice on either one, which we expected. The radio situation was perplexing to me, in that there are scads of things to plug an iPod into but not a whole lot of straight-up boombox-type radios anymore. There was one at a Target but it was $60 and it would be stupid to spend that on a radio when I have 6 different ways of playing music all within my arm’s reach. If the power goes and we are desperate for news (not likely), I will just hop in the car and put the radio on.

We stopped at Costco, because the only thing worse than a hurricane is running out of coffee. That place is always a madhouse and yesterday, doubly so. They’d put up a sign at the door saying “We are out of stock on the following: D & C batteries, generators, bottled water.” Of course. People go insane when weather is happening, but for Costco to run out of water is amazing to me.

Of course, all this near-hysteria rubbed off on us a bit so we decided that maaaaybe we should get some water too, just in case. We figured all the regular grocery stores would be picked clean, but there is one near us that is not a big chain and not really patronized by white people. We stopped there, and of course water was plentiful. No batteries, though. We got what we needed and then headed out to our regular grocery store.

There was NO BREAD. It was really astonishing, although I shouldn’t have been surprised. Usually when there’s weather coming all the white bread disappears but the fancy hippie multigrain bread that I prefer is available. Not so, yesterday. Even the shitty Weight-Watchers bread was gone! The shelves were completely empty. Same thing with the water, which I expected. Even the fancy expensive Volvic-type water was gone and people were just shrugging and scooping up cases of Perrier. Lucky for me, the liquor store was fully-stocked so I was able to procure enough wine to get me through the weekend. Maybe. We have beer and a selection of liquor as well, so I’m sure we’ll be fine.

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We’re home!

HOME! Staying!

The inconvenience factor is still rather high, and we are compounding that by having the dog home with us, but there is MUCH to be said for sleeping in one’s own bed, however dusty and smelly it might be.

The floor is done and it looks great. I’m sure that over time the color variations between the sections will even out, but compared to what it was, it’s amazing now. That was the last really big messy thing to get done. Outside of the entryway tile and the upstairs carpet, it’s all relatively small projects from here on out.

Today’s plans include a trip to the gym, then a detour to Babies R Us for a baby gate. We gave ours away last year but we’ll need one for a little while so Piper doesn’t try to eat the builders and/or escape. We also need a series of plastic storage bins which will help me wrest some kind of temporary order from this chaotic mess I’m facing. I’m not even close to being what one would call a conscientious housekeeper, but we are dealing with a level of filth that makes that first bathroom scene in Trainspotting look like surgery prep.

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Oh, hi!

Hi blog! Where have I been? Why do all my posts start like this?

1. We returned to New Jersey just before Memorial Day. Spent that weekend down the shore with friends, then Jillian and I decamped to Baltimore for a couple of days. THEN we came back to NJ to house-sit, but now we are home. It’s not quite livable yet, but it’s getting there.

2. The drywall in the house is mostly done. They hope to have it done by the end of this week, at which time they will start installing the floor where the laminate used to be AND THEN they’ll sand/stain/polyurethane the whole of the front room.

3. Phish @ Blossom this weekend!

4. That’s all for now – I didn’t really have anything to say, I just needed to check that my site was back up and running after I neglected to pay my hosting bill. 🙂

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House-y Adventures, Part 3

8AM and the concrete blocks arrived. Big truck! Lots o’ blocks. The builders got right to work (after graciously moving my baker’s rack from the porch to the front yard so the Freecycle lady could come get it). Building building building. The neighbors are starting to slow down when they drive by.

Eventually I will get around to posting pictures of this journey but today the camera is going with me to NYC to chase after Jamie Oliver. 🙂

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House-y Adventures, Part 3

No progress yesterday on the building, but things inside are moving right along. Essentially, we have to move everything out of the living room and kitchen and into the back of the house so when they take the roof off, all my stuff isn’t exposed to the elements.

I had to pack up my books and all my junk from my bookcases and now my house looks all naked, like we’re moving out. We even took down all the pictures and art on the walls, which are peppered with tiny nails. It looks very forlorn in here.

Today we are tackling the kitchen, which has storage issues, despite its size. My cabinets are… well let’s just say the kitchen is a piece of shit. It looks nice but was VERY cheaply done, and I hate every inch of it. I think the previous owners just went “ooh shiny!” and didn’t stop to think about how the cabinets would actually be used, so there are too many cupboards, not enough drawers, and although there are acres of counter space, little of it is actually in a useful place. Ugh.

ANYWAY, tomorrow the builders are putting in concrete blocks out in the foundation hole. I have no idea what happens after that.

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House-y Adventures, Part 2

The hole is still there. But now it’s partially filled with concrete! Freddie dropped the ball big-time by not getting pictures of the giant cement truck or the builder buried up to his knees in wet concrete. I’ll try to take some pictures later that give a sense of just how much destruction there is. And concrete! Yay!

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House-y adventures, Part 1

The house renovation has begun. After nearly a year of discussion and meetings with the architect and standing out in the front yard looking at the house in a thinky way, we have started construction.

Like all good things, it started with a heavy dose of DEstruction, what with the dismantling of half the patio and a good chunk of the driveway. There was a backhoe involved. A hole was dug around the porch and along the perimeter of what will be the new entryway and stair hall. It looks way bigger as a big, muddy hole than it did on paper.

For all intents and purposes, we are stranded in the house. The builders made a little bridge that we can use when it’s time to take the dog out or when we feel like we have to go run errands, but it’s a pain in their ass for me to be running in and out all the time and it’s a pain in my ass because the dog is not a fan of going over the bridge and Jillian just wants to jump off of it and play in the mud.

Our backyard is wholly inaccessible, which sucks mighty donkey balls. I was hoping to use this 80-degree weekend to get a move on with the garden but I can’t even get NEAR the garden, much less trek back and forth from the truck to the backyard with a bunch of topsoil and sand (that I haven’t actually purchased yet, thank goodness). Perhaps I can still start the indoor seeds and maybe be a little late with the direct-sown plants. We’ll see. That involves planning and I don’t really like to do that with the garden.

With the indoor bit, I spent a good chunk of yesterday emptying my bookshelves in advance of moving them to the playroom. I have way too many books but I already got rid of a lot of them when we moved here, so what’s left is… what’s left. LOTS of books, and it made me wonder if I really need 4 different coffee-table books about U2 even though I don’t have a coffee table. The answer, of course, is yes.

I also realized that I have a lot of cookbooks and food magazines.

The kitchen is also in need of some packing up. We’re losing two walls in there, which means the baker’s rack and my desk are going away. I have no idea what’s going to happen to the things that live on these two surfaces. Despite the relative enormity of my kitchen, the storage in that room is TERRIBLE. The pantry cupboard is too deep, the TWO drawers are way too shallow, and the cabinets are… in need of reorganization. I have to find a place to stash my KitchenAid, my food processor, my steamer, napkins/placemats, extra dish towels, and the fruit rack. Where am I going to hang my bunches of bananas now? We’re throwing around the idea of installing a kitchen island, but as expected, Freddie and I are butting heads on that. He wants to have the guys build something permanent-ish and I want something that is going to cost me as close to nothing as possible so that when I finally get fed up and demolish the kitchen in a couple of years, I can build something better.

Speaking of the kitchen, remember how, on the night before I was too cook a 22-lb turkey my oven conked out? Well, that’s fixed and I’m thrilled. The day before yesterday, I loaded up the dishwasher, started it up, and went to see what Jillian was up to. Not three minutes later, I went back into the kitchen to see smoke pouring out of the top of the dishwasher. I said to myself: “Self! Smoke coming out of the dishwasher is generally not a good thing. Maybe something plastic fell down onto the heating coil, not unlike my Mets water bottle [RIP].” So I opened up the door and FLAMES shot out of the top of it.

“Well, that’s interesting,” I thought. You’d think that the water part of the dishwashing equation would cancel out fire, but you would be WRONG.

The appliance repair guy came out this morning to have a look at it and was all “yep. You’ve had a fire.” Erm, no shit, homey. Apparently parts need to be ordered and that will get us into next week before it’s fixed.

Everything in the kitchen has shit the bed at least once (the fridge twice and the oven three times). The microwave is the only appliance in there that hasn’t tried to commit suicide yet, but I’m expecting it to leave me a note and jump off the wall any day now.

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