Saturday, March 23, 2013

Life with a Double Amputee...

The title is a little deceiving, but I wanted to get your attention. Now that you're here, here is the real story. My dining room table and I had a horrible day yesterday. The day involved the loss of 2 legs, a lot of blood and sadness all around.

In 1980, I became a single man, after a 12 year marriage that failed miserably. I moved out of the family dwelling and found a townhouse to rent. I had little in the way of furnishings and needed everything. My first trip to the grocery store involved the purchase of a steak, plastic utensils and a sharp knife, to cut the steak. After broiling my dinner, I looked around and saw no where to sit and made a mental note to buy a table and chairs, so I did, (but not until I ate the steak). The following day I found a store with a "Going out of business" sign in their window and bought a solid oak wall unit and a matching dining room table with 4 chairs. I was set! 

Here it is 33 years later and until last year, when I abandoned the oak wall unit, those two items were still doing their job of filling my rooms and had served me well over the years. For the last 3 years, my oak table resided in a storage unit and a couple of garages, but were still considered family. Upon moving into this house last week, my table came out of retirement and proudly took it's place in my new dining area. Life had not always been so good for my table and chairs however. When we lived in the "big house" in North Scottsdale for almost 20 years, I became host to an out of town friend that was forced to reside in Scottsdale for a time, due to his wife breaking her back in a car accident. Doug and his wife lived in Sedona. He would come down every weekend to visit his wife in the hospital here at the Barrows Institute, after her back surgery. Sometimes alone and sometimes with his 2 daughters. I was married to wife number 3 at the time and we were happy to have him occupy our guest room. One night, while eating dinner, Doug leaned back in his chair and was balancing on the 2 rear legs when the chair totally collapsed leave the chair in pieces and Doug on his ass! I think that's the night Doug began his diet. Doug, an attorney, and I was sure he was going to sue me, got up, brushed himself off, assured me he was okay and said, "I'll bet you that's going to cost you a pretty penny"! (he was right) My wife and I decided to discard the remaining 3 chairs and have new ones made by a local furniture manufacturer. The year was 1998 and we'd had good service from the set and weren't ready to retire the table, as it matched our kitchen cabinets. The 4 chairs cost us about $1200 and when I say us, I mean me.

So here we are at the new house and I notice that the leaf is not in the table making it the size of a card table, which is okay, but why bother to store the leaf and the piece of custom glass that I had made for it? I decide that the right thing to do is to insert the leaf, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Go figure, but the table has warped from the heat of the garages and is frozen solid in it's current position. priding myself at being the king of solutions, I first try using a tire iron to pry it apart, but unless I'm very careful, I could do more damage than good. Scratching my head for about 30 minutes and thinking, I decide to use a hammer on the underside of the beast and hammer it apart. It's working, but extremely slow going. I counted and for every 20 whacks with the hammer, I'm moving the warped work about 1/4 inch and I have 18 1/4 inches to go. My next brainstorm was to get the accordion jack out of the Volvo and use it on the table, but first I have to prop the table up on something, so I use my briefcase on one side and a soup pot on the other. Try to imagine a visual of my task. I'm also using my trusty hammer and wooden cutting board to absorb some of the impact of the hammer. Now I've got the table opened about 12 inches and only have another 6 plus inches to go when I realize that the jack is opened to it's maximum, so it's back to whacking it with a hammer. This process, so far, has taken about 3 hours and no telling how many neighbors I've pissed off with my loud hammering. Suddenly, and suddenly may have been the wrong word, because I only measured my progress about 200 times along the way, I had reached my goal and it was now time to slide the leaf into the waiting opening (sounds kind of sexual, or is it just me?) I get the leaf in, but the table now doesn't want to close, it's still fighting me every bit of the way. I only need to move it about 1/4 of an inch, but where will I hammer on it? I use my wooden cutting board to whack it on the outside of the side of the table and break the cutting board in half with the first smash. (Note to self: Replace cutting board) Now using 1/2 of the cutting board, I finish my task and get the leaf in place and voila, I'm ready to go! All I have to do is put the table back up on it's legs and push it into place...

This is precisely what happened when I attempted to do that. This may have been God's way of telling me that oak is out! The picture below tells it all!

Bulk trash collection is April 1, I already checked!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Move...

Chuck's Movers (623) 234-3778

It was a Sunday, about eleven days ago and the movers called and said they could fit me in on Sunday, today! LJ had just finished helping me load the first load onto her truck, after being the victim of a series of collapsing shelves. She really did pretty well, only bleeding from one arm. We drove to the new house in 2 vehicles, driving really slowly, so as not to lose her load. We no sooner arrived at the new house when my phone rang and it was Chuck, my mover, saying he was just 5 minutes away from my old place. Running around like a Keystone Cop, I apologized to LJ for abandoning her, but I HAD to be there when the movers arrived. She said she'd unload the truck by herself, along with Macy's help. Macy is a dog! I thought she was joking as I drove back to the old house at 90 MPH. 

About an hour later, Chuck and his helper had loaded the first run to the new place, when my phone rang and it was LJ. She explained that she and Macy had finished unloading her truck and were on their way to get some burgers, what do I want on mine? I couldn't believe she had actually unloaded that thing alone, some of that stuff was pretty heavy!

When the movers and I showed up, LJ was sitting on my new patio eating her burger and Macy was chewing on hers. The garage was fully packed with things from her truck and everything was nicely put away. I could hardly believe my eyes! The movers, Chuck and his 16 year old nephew worked fast and soon the truck was on it's way back for the second load.

Now I've used Chuck before and he's unbelievably inexpensive, quick and efficient. His overhead is nil and works out of an old pickup truck and a trailer of his own. After the second load was in place, I asked if there was a goat that we could tie to the back of the trailer, just for effect? In addition to Chuck being extremely strong, he's pretty quick-witted. The above picture was taken a little too soon, as there was still a reclining chair that went on top of the 2 black couches. It was a good thing there were no bridges to go under! The entire move cost me $260, plus a tip. My previous movers charged me $800 plus, for the same load, plus they stole my jewelry!

Now I've been in this house for about 11 days and finally got most of the repairs done. Here is a list of the things that didn't work. Dish washer leaked heavily, garbage disposal inoperative, faucet in the kitchen leaked and was frozen in place, washer and dryer were both inoperative, shower leaked, and the vent for the dryer was blocked. Everything has been fixed or replaced, I threw out the washer and dryer and used my own that I had just bought before moving here. Here is a biggy! The toilet seat in the master bath required a seat belt to stay on it. Today, Walmart was kind enough to sell me one that had no bad history and was guaranteed to be more stable. I bought a butter dish, a new microwave, a toilet brush and a plunger. I've got all of those things packed away in boxes but it might be a very long time before they surface.

The worst of the ongoing problems is the smell of cigarette smoke that seems to be attached to the house. They tricked me. The place has new wall to wall carpeting and was freshly painted, plus there were room fresheners everywhere when I looked at it and now that they've dissipated, it's more than obvious that a smoker had lived here. Today I bought a gross of air fresheners. Walmart is my new best friend! They sell tomatoes for 94 cents a pound! (Safeway, $2.99)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


The move is finally behind me. I'll talk more about that in another post. I'm sore, feel pain, exhaustion, but for the most part, good! Today, I went to Costco to stock up on everything. For breakfast I had 2 toasted hamburger buns with cream cheese spread across them with my index finger. I'll find the silverware another time........ maybe. On my way out to the car, I happened to look to my right and there was a baggy full of plastic eating utensils, right before my very eyes. The same ones that my first wife purchased and packed away about 33 years ago. She said we'd need them one day and she was right. 

I had just finished with James, my cable installer, who supplied me with Internet and 30 commercial filled stations for a mere $65 a month. I already had all the things that I needed for installation. my router and modem all packed away in a large baggy. He asked me where the wire is that goes between the 2 and I had no idea. Because of that, Cocks Communications will charge me $6.50 a month for the rest of my life to rent theirs, or I could have bought one with the wire for $130. I shook my head and said, just do it! Two hours later, after 2 cable boxes (one wouldn't work) James shook my hand and asked me to give him a 9 or 10 on the survey that is soon coming. I agreed to, because after all, James was 6' 9" tall! I headed out to Costco.

Did you ever stop and count the number of soaps that appear in your everyday life? Me neither, but I needed them all. Laundry soap, kitchen dish soap, dish washing machine soap, hand soap, and shampoo. Can I count toothpaste (teeth soap)? I spent almost $400 and all I've got to eat is Oreo cookies, ice cream and hamburger meat. My cart was full slam up and Costco carts are huge. I could hardly push the mother. I also had one of their cases of water on board, in addition to all of those damned soaps. No telling how much my cart weighed but to add insult to injury, it kept pulled hard to the left. (I've got to take that thing in and get it aligned). I was at the farthest corner of the huge warehouse store and was moving along at a pretty good clip, when I looked ahead and there was a woman and her 2 daughters walking 3 abreast covering the entire isle. I knew I could stop, but didn't want to. I pictured myself in court explaining to the judge, just how the accident happened and that they were run over by a madman pushing an overweight shopping cart that was pulling hard to the left! Instead, I yelled out, BEEP-BEEP and all three of them looked back to see who was beeping them. I'm guessing at their ages to be Mom about 45 and overweight, daughter one was about 15 and there was a 20 year old there too. 

As I passed them on the left, fighting hard to keep it on the road, my mind went wheeling back to an easier time in my life when I was 6 years old and I had just learned to ride my 2 wheeler and the only way a kid was to get any respect at all on the streets of Chicago when he is 6, is to yell BEEP-BEEP, when passing another kid on a bike. It was 1952 and I don't think they had invented bicycle horns yet! The woman whispered something to her 2 offspring and I'm pretty sure it wasn't nice...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Looks Like Mel was a DUD!

Unknown to me, my new Real Estate hero was anything but. He was a dud! After our 2 days together, he gave up and continued to answer my calls with, "Sorry, nothing new on the MLS, I'll keep you posted." I actually believed him that there were no new houses listed for rent for about 5 days, until the end of the month was about to happen and I was afraid I'd be tossed out into the street, so I mention to the lady that I reside with that it looks like I'll be here a little longer. She said she had a friend in Real Estate and she'd call her. Frankly, it went in one ear and out the other, because if after I exhausted all of my resources trying, how was she going to find someone, just like that? As she was walking out the front door, talking to someone on the phone, she yelled to me, "What part of town do you want to live in"? I yelled Scottsdale and about an hour later, a dozen houses appeared on my computer from this woman Michelle.

With my mouth wide open, all I could think of is that lying SOB, Mel. Evidently, he decided he didn't want to bother working with me as it wasn't going to be profitable for him and instead of telling me, he just tied me up for a week, wasting precious time. Did I mention that Real Estate people are among the lowest forms of life, (except Brenda)? I used to think it was car salesmen, but Real Estate people beat them hands down! 

Magically, Michelle was able to spend a couple of days, (about 3 hours total) with me and showed me about 6 houses and they were all nice. One, we couldn't view the first day as it was being carpeted with new beige carpeting. It was a 3 bedroom with a built-in bar in what could be an exercise room or study. A great room and it already had 2 refrigerators, in addition the 3 that I already have. With 5 refrigerators, I may not need air conditioning! It's located in an upscale part of Scottsdale just 4 blocks from the main freeway. After reviewing the three I'd seen on the previous day, one was already taken off the market, so I jumped all over the one with the new carpeting and I sign the lease for it tomorrow! It's about 1600 square feet and has a 2 car garage with built in cabinets, washer and dryer, desert landscaping and the only down side is a chip in the porcelain kitchen sink and no pets allowed. Time to call the movers!