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15th June 2022

A Fresh Look

10 days later (thanks rain!) my house is almost all painted (there’s a few more finishing touches).

Karin and I argued a lot about the color. She wanted a light blue; I wanted a sunny yellow and we compromised with a green. It’s called peacock plume and it changes hues depending on the sun. Every house around here hasn’t been painted in 20+ years, so it really pops.

I love it with the contrasting white.

As a reminder, this is what it looked like before, a putrid, faded orange-pink brown that might have been rose colored at some point.

I had asked them to paint my garage door purple too, but things got mixed up. It’s fine – it looks great in a solid color too. There’s a small area of siding that I’m a little concerned about, but you know what, I’m giving it more protection than what it had before.

Onward to the next project.

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10th February 2022

a little less light (but that’s a good thing)

a little less light (but that's a good thing)

The rotting siding has been removed. The chimney was completely taken apart and cleaned and flashed properly – there were rusted holes where you could see the sun and where it was evident that water was just pouring in. The fresh air vent had a screen on it that had a hole the size of my fist in it – a hole where mice and ants could get directly into the house, and that’s been fixed now.

It was a 8 day process, 3 days longer than what the initial estimate was for (well, the first estimate was for 6-8 hours, but that quickly changed). The weather mostly cooperated (I won’t think about how that’s not a good thing for our climate or summer water supply). It was terribly expensive, but it’s done now and I can breath easier for a little bit.

Next up: getting a landscaper to put in a french drain and paver stones I think. I have an appointment to get the downspouts replaced next month. And I still have to get the house painted – I waffle about getting all of the siding replaced now and painting it afterwards, but I just don’t know. It would make sense from a maintenance perspective but just to have this small portion fixed was so much money that it makes me a little panicky.

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2nd February 2022

housing nightmare update

(This is long)

1) My washer decided that it wanted to be a helicopter this summer and started making “vroom vroom” noises and wasn’t cleaning clothes quite as well and then started leaking in October. Yeah. So I researched and got all kinds of contradictory information from friends about top loaders and front loaders and impellers and agitators. I fretted about it for weeks and visited Home Depot and Lowe’s and Costco to try out different models. I finally ordered a set from Costco that was on backorder. I knew they were bigger than my previous set, but they had the reversible doors that I needed, so at Thanksgiving, my parents came out and we tore down dry wall and moved the water faucet and the light switch so that they would fit.

They were supposed to be delivered the second weekend of December. The delivery truck arrived, some guy got out, ran upstairs to my laundry room and said that I had the wrong outlet for the dryer and that the space was too small and refused to deliver them.

My dad came out the middle of January and we installed a new outlet at the right amps and painted the walls. I ordered a new set, smaller so they’d fit into the space, so they’d be delivered while my dad was there, to ensure that we had everything right. Costco was out of the pedestals, so I picked up a set from Best Buy. Tuesday came. I heard the truck start down my driveway … and 30 seconds later, I heard it backing up. Their truck was too big so they had to postpone for a week.

A week later, they deliver the washer and dryer. It fits! And one of the pedestals was missing the installation screws. They installed the washer on the pedestal, refused to put the dryer on the pedestal, and basically left me a mess.

I nearly started sobbing on them.

I called up my parents and they offered to fly out on points for the weekend to help me get it fixed. We ended up having to get screws mailed from Amazon, because nothing was available at any of the hardware stores, and Dad and I jimmied things around with an appliance truck and got longer hoses so I could switch them around and finally got them in position – did I mention that I was working nights and had a really horrible weekend so was exceedingly sleep-deprived?


2) As I mentioned previously, I found rotting siding where the back deck had abutted to the house in the fall. I was hoping to get it replaced in the spring, but we’ve had new ants in the house and it was making me really nervous that I’d be seeing more furry critters soon. So when my dad was here, I found a construction company who came out and basically said that just replacing that part of the siding was too small of a project, but they recommended residing the entire house – well not residing exactly, but replacing the rotting wood and then putting a composite plank siding over it all. I was skeptical and it was expensive for the whole project so I waffled and called a handyman company.

The handyman service took my information and said, yep we can handle this. It sounds like it’ll be a 6-8 hour job, we’ll have a technician out to do the work tomorrow. The handyman arrived the next morning, walked around, took some measurements for 4 hours, and at the end said that it was going to be a 40 hour project with two people.

They started Monday. They don’t think they’ll be done on Friday. There’s no vapor barrier under the siding. The windows and the chimney didn’t have flashing installed. The flashing over the foundation had rusted completely away and half of it was buried by dirt. I’m going to be hitting $15k easily just to fix this.

3) I have ants coming out from the side of my tub at the joints. I’m pretty sure that’s the next thing to fall apart.

I hate it all.

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30th October 2021



Luckily, only about 15-20 feet of siding will need to be replaced, rather than the 50 that I had feared. The rest of the siding look okay – there was flashing over the foundation further down that drew a lot of the moisture away. I’ll be getting the siding replaced in late January. In the meantime, there’s now a railing so people don’t fall and some plastic to protect the foundation until I can get a landscaper to come in and build a french drain and grate it. I’m thinking about putting down paver stones or tiles, with planters maybe, to make the space more usable and attractive – give me your thoughts!

I had the back portion of the fence removed to access the area. I might put up a gate there, I don’t know.

I also installed a new bit of railing on the front deck. It looks a little awkward, but I’ve had three people miss the two steps when they’ve visited and fall and it’s only because they were friends/family that they didn’t sue.

The gutters got cleaned out thoroughly, though, which is a huge worry off my plate. It should help with the water that collected in the crawl space last spring (and probably collecting again this fall). The downspouts still need to be fixed as does the chimney flashing.

I got somebody to come by to give an estimate for painting the house. It’s been a week and I haven’t heard back. I messaged another company to get an estimate, you know, so I can make an informed, compared decision, and also have heard nothing. It’s majorly frustrating.

I just realized that I didn’t show you all pictures of the deck after it was power washed. It looks good. There’s still a few boards that need to be replaced but I should be able to replace those and get it stained and sealed this spring.

I’ve mentioned that my house is all deck, right?
Back deck and landing

All this to just get the house to a “maintained” level.

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23rd October 2021

the rotting state

the rotting state

When we first moved into this house, on the inspection, I noted several boards that were rotting on the back deck. The deck was virtually unusable when it rained (which, since I live in the pacific northwest is often) because it was so slick and it was always covered coated with leaves and decaying matter (landlord had people come through and remove leaves once a year but stopped after I got angry that they were removing ALL grasses on the hill beneath the trees so it was just eroding away). Anyway, noted problems but my landlord didn’t do anything about them.

Last November, I looked out the window and noted that there was a hole in one of the boards and texted the landlord, who did nothing about it.

When I purchased the house, the sale was delayed because the bank wouldn’t authorize the mortgage until the back deck was fixed, which landlord refused to pay for (it was an issue). In the end, I had the worst of the boards replaced and the house closed.

I always knew that I’d have to replace the back deck, so I hired a friend who came out this week and started on the project. He power-washed the front deck for two days and it sparkles – I’ll only have to replace a few more boards there and will get it stained and sealed in the spring and it’ll be nice. I’m excited about that.

But when he moved to the back deck, he noted an area where there was moss and rot into the siding. We removed boards and the rot is more extensive than I had feared. I’m going to have to replace the lower part of siding across that entire side of the house.

We’re removing the deck, all except for the steps down. I have to get a landscaper to come and grate it and put in a french drain to deal with the water and maybe put in concrete. It needs a retaining wall.

I had hoped to paint the house in the spring. But I can’t until these problems are fixed.

(The washer also started leaking and needs to be replaced, although I think I may be able to delay that at least another couple of weeks so I can look for the holiday deals).

(I finally got somebody to answer my emails/texts/voice messages to schedule cleaning my gutters this week. So there’s that at least.)

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21st August 2011



1. I am exhausted and have a headache. I haven’t been sleeping well recently. I was on night float last week and did a really good job of switching my schedule to sleep during the day and be awake at night. I’m naturally more of a night-owl anyhow so that wasn’t difficult, but the converting back has been dreadful. Add in the stress of looming boards (Aug 24th, as in 2.5 days from now) and the house situation, yeah, insomnia and I are becoming good friends. It’s 19:30 now and I think I’m going to try to go to bed by 20:00.

2. I have 228 unread messages on my email. For those who understand the signficance: I miss you! [info]bjorks_defender has been making me feel all nostalgic and remembering LJ from 5-6 years ago and how much time I spent on here and how few are still around. I’m so glad that I’ve reconnected with [info]shirerain again and I’m going to try really, really hard to start writing here more often.

3. Did I mention that my test is on Wednesday? I’ve done pretty well studying over the last couple of months, getting in an hour or two after work. Haven’t been so good this week. Mostly because I’m emotionally and physically drained. I’ve been studying for the last year for this thing. I will never be able to differentiate between all of the different pulmonary fibrosis/interstitial pneumonias. I will probably miss most of the cardiology EKG questions because I will overlook a U wave or not see that the QRS is widened. I will probably give a patient methotrexate for the autoimmune disease and the answer will be to give the azathioprine. I will completely overlook that the kidney patient has Fabry’s disease or some form of renal acidosis (Type II or IV) and will diagnose them with Wegener’s or something like that.

In short, there is still a lot that I don’t know, it’s overwhelming. I have oncology and hematology left to review and then it will be trying to memorize a few tables and going over questions so that hopefully something will stick. The passing rate is about 85-90%, so I’m trying not to get too worked up, but there is still that possibility…

4. Adjustment to SF has been hard. My roommate and I get along pretty well and she moves in a couple of days, but because of work and board studying, I haven’t been able to see the city at all. I’m lonely, I miss my friends and my very comfortable lift back in Milwaukee so much. So much. I’m making “acquaintances” but things are different. Residency almost came with ready made friends – since we spent pretty much every waking (and sleeping) moment with each other, it didn’t take long before they were your best friends. Here, there’s a smaller number of fellows – there’s only 4 neuro critical care fellows total, and 2 are the year ahead of me and I’ve never even met them – and we’re all on different schedules and at different hospitals. I’m slowly getting to know a few people, but not enough to have somebody to go to the movies with or out to dinner or just wander the city. And I miss that.

I’ve also become somewhat agoraphobic and/or social phobic over the last several months. I’ve talked myself out of taking the bus to the movies or to the grocery store. I’m not sure why, the few times I’ve been out I’ve been safe, but I’m just so completely out of my element that I just cling to what is familiar. I felt the same when I was in the Netherlands and in Ireland that last day and I was all by myself: both times I could barely get myself to leave the room and see the city. In the Netherlands, I met sombody and we ended up spending the rest of the day with each other and it was fantastic. It’s one of the reasons that I don’t think I could do one of the “backpack trips across Europe” by myself – I need to have somebody else with me to share the experience. I’m trying to do better.

5. I made brown rice, black beans and corn for dinner tonight with a balsamic vinaigrette over it. It was not my best experimentation. It really needed cilantro and I didn’t have cilantro. The balsamic vinegar with raisins and mandarin oranges, chopped almonds and pecans topping that I made last week was incredible, however.

6. I go on “vacation” in 3.5 days, after I finish my test. So excited. I’m flying home to Utah, going see friends and family for a few days, go through all of my stuff that is being stored at my parent’s house and then driving back. It’ll be nice to spend almost a week in the same place. Then I work for a couple of days and that weekend, I fly to Phoenix to see my nephews. Who are adorable and are just waiting for their Auntie Julia to spoil them.

7. As of tomorrow morning, my house will be coming off the market and I am so sad about it. One viewing. I thought for sure somebody would fall in love with my house because it is perfect, but it didn’t happen (I thought for sure that someone would fall in love with me and that also hasn’t happened, so I probably should have had lower expectations). I’ve learned from this experience. One is that when I try to sell it again, I’m getting a different agent. I liked her – she’s the one who helped me buy the house in the first place, but she usually deals with more expensive homes and I don’t think really devoted her attention to my home. The pictures that were initially taken were awful (my roof looked like it had holes in it. The rooms looked dark and scary). And she never had an open house and it felt like I was doing all of the work trying to come up with creative ways to get it out there. So next time: new realtor with new perspectives.

I haven’t been able to talk to a rental manager (see #3 above – that’s sort of been my life), which of course is freaking me out, because I really have to get this house rented in the next month (preferably by September 1st). Thanks again for all of the advice and links, it’s given me a lot to think about!

And now it’s 8 and I still have dishes to do and bed is sounding like a really good idea.


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28th October 2010

channeling count von count

2 windows! 2 pretty windows done! Bah ha ha!

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9th November 2009



On Saturday, as you now, I raked and raked and raked leaves. Then, after church yesterday, I came back home and raked leaves in the dark for another half hour. My lower back and shoulder was not happy with me. By the evening, they were both loudly protesting my mistreatment of them.

I could barely walk this morning. Acutally it was more the twisting out of bed that killed me. Once I started moving, it got better, but I couldn’t bend over or twist. Let’s not talk about the agony of getting up out of a chair.

I went to work to find that we, blessedly and blissfully, had a light service (I should know, I spent all of my time discharging them yesterday!) with no scheduled admissions, so I went home at noon, took some anti-inflammatory meds, and slept. I’m still in pain, mostly if I sit on the couch (hmm…), but it’s a little better. It’s so lovely to have an afternoon off, especially one where the sun was shiny (albeit briefly) and it’s 60 degrees outside. I just wish that I could have been able to put it to good use: done dishes or laundry or gone for a walk.

I hadn’t finished with all of my leaves (the joy of having 4 trees on my property!), but my friend, who really is one of the nicest people I know (even if she does fall prey to fad diets), came over this afternoon and finished raking them all to the street. There’s still some lingering leaves on the tree and some around my raspberry bush that if I feel especially motivated (and pain free!) later this week that I might try to collect, but oh, what a relief to not have to worry about this!

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1st July 2009

july 1st

My morning was free today. I celebrated by taking a long nap, buried in blankets. I honestly think we could bring peace to the world by initiating global nap time.

It’s drizzling and cool today. The weather forecasts only mild rain throughout the day. No major thunderstorms for which I am thankful. Did I mention that I had a plumber out to my house last week, who pulled off the rusted cap to the sewer drains, peered down and stated that snaking the drains wouldn’t help the flooding situation at all? It’s a city system problem, that the water backs up in everybody’s drain when it becomes overwhelmed with the rain water – my neighbors fair slightly better because they have sump pumps installed. If I installed a flap in the drain to prevent the water from coming up, I risk building up pressure so that the water comes up through my sinks or toilet instead, causing even more problems. Installing a sump pump could cost thousands. Over $100 dollars to be told that there is nothing that I can do, except petition my city officials to expand their drainage systems.  I haven’t decided whether or not to seek a second opinion. And neither have I figured out how to address the leaky windows/floor either. All I can do is hope that we’re done with the thunderous rain storms for now and keep everything up off my floors (the cinder blocks are staying).

The ER is “mercifully benevolent” today, in the words of one of the attendings today, a change of pace that I am enjoying. Either everybody got the message that the hospitals are to be avoided on July 1st or they’re all at the baseball game down the road. It’s now 4 pm and there’s been nobody so far. I’ve been good and have used the time to catch up on some clinic notes. I’m sure as soon as I suggest an early end to the day, the patients will start pouring in.

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19th June 2009

since the thunder and lightening are doing such a great job of keeping me awake

The good news: the leak in my basement when it rains extremely hard does not seem to be coming from the toilet. Horray!

The bad news: I have no idea where it is coming from. Well, I fear that it is dripping down the inside of the bathroom walls, but I can’t seem to locate a source. It just seems to appear, like zombies rising from the ground. Or something like that.

For now, it’s trickling down the basement drain. I only flooded a year ago because the downpour was too much volume and speed for the drainage system to accommodate. I am sure tired of dealing with this issue.

I should have spent tonight finishing up clinic notes. Instead I spent it looking at neurological equipment that I’m not sure I’ll ever use and updating my WP blog to 2.8, importing LJ entries with their new import system. Somehow it messed it up, transferring everything in triplicate and when I attempted to delete it, it deleted the entry on the LJ side. Of course, Livejournal, in their infinite wisdom has decided that you can’t import blog entries to their database, so I had to repost, losing the comments (on LJ. It’s still there on the WP side). It’s going to take me forever to delete (correctly!) and merge everything.

The rain is really coming down now. Come on, little drains, keep up. I’m going to try to sleep.

ETA: Scratch that. It’s coming down the majority of my windows now. The drain that my church installed for me is not keeping up and I’ve got a large puddle puddle at my back door. My rug has already been taken up. It’s supposed to last for the next two hours before letting up. CRAP.

ETA #2: And the drains stopped working and I flooded my basement again. This time I had the sump pump, which I pumped into a sink and managed to keep from flooding every where. Sure am glad that I kept it all up on cinder blocks too. I’m going to be utterly useless at work tomorrow. What I really need to do is take the day off, get everything bleached and call a plumber to come look at my drains. And figure out how to waterproof windows



Of course, it’s starting to rain again.

posted in Adventures in Home Ownership, Domestic Goddess and Rugged Handy-man Me, Handy-man Me | 1 Comment

26th April 2009

fawlty faucets

My basement is leaking again. Thankfully, the drain was able to keep up with the amount of water (it really pounded for a while; I thought for sure that they’d back up again). This time, however, the window sills were caulked, the outside drain took most of the water away from my back door, and the walls were dry. It was just that there was a puddle of water that continually drizzled towards the drain–coming from the bathroom. I think it’s seeping up from under the toilet (it’s water, it’s not sewage as far as I can tell). I’m worried that I’m going to need to get a plumber in here. I don’t know how; I have no days off during the week and I don’t get done until after 5 or 6 most nights. It’s times like this that I wish I had a husband or roommate so that I could let them deal with this.


On the bright side, it did not flood and all of my belongings are still safe.


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25th April 2009

4,600, but who’s counting?

After the symphony, we met up for dinner and drinks. The conversation turned away from surgery and medicine and into the impact that the failing economy was having on us. Chris joked about how when I started residency, he had pushed me to buy a house for the financial investment (it was encouraged to most of us freshly graduated medical students) and a year later, when he was in the same position, he had decided against it and how glad he was that he hadn’t bought a house.

“How much has your house lost in value?” One of the group asked me.

“I don’t know,” I demurred, “I’m not selling it for another two years at least and I figured I’d save my heart the stress test.” Besides, I reasoned, the housing market had never been as profitable in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is very much a blue-collared city and the home values and resell reflect that. Surely, it could weather the storm a little better.

The City of Milwaukee decided, however, that they would have none of this blissful ignorance, thank you very much. Since I am the one paying taxes on the property, they felt it was their duty to inform me of their recent appraisal of my property and sent me a nice official letter (in purple ink. I applaud the creative and aesthetic touch). Net Change: -4,600. Ouch.

My first thought: “Hey, that means my taxes will go down!”

The COM may have thought that they were bringing doom and gloom, but they hadn’t ever encountered the little orphan annie who resides prominently in my frontal lobe. For my raspberry bushes have sprung the first leaves of green this week and I have tiny rhubarb shoots popping through the ground and a garage door that now locks. You just can’t get better than that, even if the CoM has decided that it’s worth less this year.

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    • Books for 2022 July 1, 2022
      I’ve had an unofficial goal to read 52 books this year – a book a week. Last year I read 49. For most of the past 20 years, since entering med school, I’ve read at most 5-10 books a year, so it felt like an ambitious goal. I just hit 45 books so far. Some […]