Author… Artist… Amateur Photographer… Book Reviewer… Mom
Author: TJ Fox
I am a slightly sane artist, amateur photographer, book addict, wife, mom and raging introvert. I have more hobbies than I can count, so it is beyond shocking that I manage to find time to do any of them, let alone most of them and still have time to do anything else. Of all the talents I claim, writing wasn’t one of them until my muse dropped the idea for a book on my head.
We are getting a really heavy snow storm today. Heavy for us anyway.
Even better, it seems to be on the dryer side so that means I get some detail on the flakes. These aren’t the really detailed crystalline flakes. These are more spiky, sharp flakes, but they are still cool to look at up close.
This is all great for photos, but it also kind of sucks because I’ve now had to cancel an appointment for a second Covid test. Still incredibly doubtful that’s what I’ve got, but the doctor wanted to be absolutely sure, especially since BG started doing her cough thing and that is what changed mine. She was also supposed to get one, so she is thrilled she doesn’t have to get a brain jab.
Not really sure where the timeline break is to no longer test positive if you had it, but I’m going to have to try and figure out how and when to reschedule since the guys will be back to work on the craft room on Monday and I’ll have to try and work around them a bit.
But hey! I finally got some snow, so I AM happy about that.
Today is our annual movie, games, and great foods day. It looks like we will also be ringing in the new year with a lovely winter storm. Depending on how it tracks, we will either get more ice and yuck or we will get upwards of 6 inches of snow, so it could be interesting and a very different kind of NYE entertainment.
Hoping you all have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve tonight! I invite you to join me in flipping this year the bird on its way out the door. May next year be kinder to all of us.
We didn’t completely melt off last night. What is still there is getting taken care of by this morning’s sun. Sadly, I don’t think that melt is going to last as we have another round of, again, not just snow, but ice and sleet headed our way. I’m so glad we don’t have to get out any time soon.
Was I just complaining about not getting any winter weather? I really just meant snow. At least this ice won’t get to hang around for too long as we are warming up throughout the day.
I’m still battling this nasty cold thing. I just can’t seem to really shake it. It is still clinging pretty hard to BG as well though I don’t think it is kicking her butt like it is me. I really thought I’d caught a glimpse of the back end of it and had felt better, for all of a day, but slid back hard the next day.
I haven’t gotten anything at all done because of it. Getting out for the maybe 10 minutes I did to get a couple of not great shots (this one is the best) wiped out whatever energy I had. I really think I’m already ready for winter to be over and we haven’t even gotten a decent snow. Only because I know that spring will kick all of this nastiness out the door until next winter.
I did a whole lot of procrastinating, but these finally got done. I do love doing these, but I HATE mixing up all the batches of icing and getting them colored. It just really seems to take forever. When you are still feeling like crap, the thought of having to put in all that work just seems overwhelming.
We still had a blast. Again, I love the fact that both of my kids still love to do these every year. We got Hubby to jump in and decorate with us this year, too, which was even more fun.
Sadly, I STILL have two other things on my list of stuff I was supposed to bake for the holidays that hasn’t gotten done yet. I’m thinking they sound just as good being New Year’s treats.
Even with all of our precautions, the masks, the distancing, the staying at home, we STILL somehow managed to bring something nasty into this house.
It started with BG just after her Christmas programs at dance, which is where I’m sure this came from even though masks were worn (until some girls decided they needed photos without their masks on) and it was virtual so there was no audience. There are so few other options for it to have hit us and she was the first to feel bad, so that is the most likely source. She started feeling off a few days after her first class back after the Thanksgiving break. Nothing really awful, more just a cold, but enough to make her not feel great.
As is classic around here, just a couple of days later and it hits me. On top of my already existing bronchitis, it is SO not fun. Now instead of just coughing my fool head off, I’m also congested as all hell, had a sore throat (which is now thankfully gone), one of my ears is completely blocked and I can’t hear out of it well. I was feeling crummy enough yesterday that I didn’t get squat done that I needed to do and just stayed bundled up on the couch, goofing around on the internet and reading. That was all topped off last night when I popped a bit of a fever, low grad, but still a fever.
Normally, this would just suck, especially so close to Christmas and with so much I still need to do baking wise. But this isn’t a normal year. It is a very real concern that this is more than just a cold or the flu, though I do think it is just a cold and my poor body is already stressed from fighting the bronchitis. We are taking all precautions, though.
I am still making my FIL his Christmas dinner, though I’m fully masked the entire time. Hubby and the kids will take that and his gifts out to him to drop off later today, but the kids will stay in the car, there will be zero contact. They will only be there long enough to drop it all off and leave. No one will even go in the house. Just wave and wish him Merry Christmas in person, but that is it.
I’ll be staying home while they do this. We discussed BG staying home as well, but she never ran a fever and is nearly over hers. With everyone staying masked even though there won’t be any contact or closeness, there should be little to no risk of passing whatever this is along. Considering he hasn’t seen the kids since Spring other than the 5 minutes it took us to drop off Thanksgiving dinner, it is important that he gets at least that little bit.
I might have to cut down on what I’d planned to bake this year. Or, at the very least, delay getting it done. I don’t have a ton left to do and I managed the energy to get the fudge done so I could send that and some cookies to my FIL, but I still have to put together his soup and I know that is about all I’m going to be able to get done today. I don’t think I’ve ever been so grateful that my fridge is currently full of leftovers so I don’t have to even think about fixing dinner on top of it all.
I will say that I am worried and a bit stressed because it is still a very real possibility that this is Covid-19. I don’t think it is, but it is still a possibility and that is scary. I can only hope that this is as bad as I’ll feel no matter what it is.
BG and I wanted to try and get a glimpse of this event, so we set alarms and set up camp at a front window that was perfectly positioned for viewing.
I’m going to admit to some extreme ignorance on this. I really had thought that when there was talk of Saturn being in line with Jupiter, I expected it to fall behind Jupiter. So when I decided to just see what I could get with my camera, my mind was in that mode and expected certain things because of it, though I really didn’t expect to get anything at all exciting as I simply do not have the right equipment for anything amazingly detailed. I really just expected to get a bright dot.
Imagine my surprise when I see not just one dot with the naked eye, but a couple. BG and I were trying to decide what the second dot was, even using our Google Sky ap to try and identify it. Just a side note about that ap… it confirmed my thoughts on Saturn being behind Jupiter because that is what it showed on the screen instead of it being next to it. Other than giving us a place to look, it really didn’t help one bit in figuring out what we were seeing.
After I’d taken a few shots and BG had run off to take one of her finals, I decided to see what all that looked like if I zoomed in on one of the photos. My mind was absolutely blown. It looked like you could see Saturn’s rings peaking out from behind Jupiter. I was so stunned that I could see that and jumped back in to take a bunch more to see if I could get it to clear up. Some looked more like a solid ring and others dropped down to more single light points on either side of Jupiter.
I got all crazy exited, cropped out the best one I could find and got it posted on my FB page, bragging about getting the rings. Then I went looking at photos other people had gotten. And got really confused. Turns out Saturn is that mysterious dot to the side and what I thought were the rings really weren’t. I was so disappointed and felt like such an idiot.
I finally found a diagram of what was where and realized, okay, so I didn’t get Saturns rings, but I DID get 3 of Juipter’s moons and, quite possibly, Pluto as well. Yes, they are still really just dots, but the placement is clear.
I reposted the photos with a correction and the diagram I’d found, disappointed by the fact that I didn’t actually get those amazing rings. One of my friends jumped in and corrected me saying that because Saturn’s dot is more oblong than Jupiter, that technically I DID get the rings, they just aren’t clearly defined.
Considering I didn’t expect to get ANYTHING, I’m really stoked that I got what I did. Below is the full size photo. Even without blowing it up in size, you can still see some of those elements.
This is the diagram I found on Earth Sky to give you and idea of which dot is which. This is why I said I THINK I also got Pluto because it isn’t pictured here.
The closer look at what I managed to capture. You can clearly see the big dot of Jupiter with a moon close on either side and a third just up and to the left. Saturn is the slightly smaller, egg shaped dot up and to the right of Jupiter. Then, if you look close, almost straight down from Saturn is the faintest dot. That is the one I think may be Pluto (feel free to correct me if you know what it is).
While yesterday was THE day to see the two planets this close, you can still see them together for the next several days, with more distance between the planets each day.
I’m so far behind on getting any holiday baking done this year. I had originally planned on just making stuff in chunks so I didn’t end up with a massive pile of goodies all at once. Yeah, that didn’t work. I made one batch of nougat after the kids harassed me until I got it done. Next thing I know, I’ve got only a few days before Christmas and nothing else is made.
I spent yesterday in the kitchen trying to get at least part of my baking done. So far, I’ve made a batch of sugar cookie dough, but not the cookies. I got a batch of peanut butter cookies made and I was able to get my annual batch of pot pies made up and in the freezer ready to go to my FIL as part of his gift. There aren’t nearly as many as I usually make, but at least I got them done.
I still have something like 5 other goodies, some homemade pizzas, and baking and decorating the sugar cookies left to get done. So, if it feels like I’ve gone quiet, it’s because I’m chained to the kitchen until all of that is finished.
Tonight will be our annual drive to look at lights. I’m kind of shocked that my 16 year old AND my 18 year old think this is still something awesome to do and are excited to do it. I honestly thought by now that they would think it was childish or that they had much better things to do, but they have both been bugging me about when we are going to do it this year.
So, as is tradition, I will make a big pot of hot chocolate. The kids will either get into cozy PJs or grab a blanket. We will grab some snacks and get the Christmas music going. Then head out for about 2 hours or so just driving around and looking at houses decorated for the holidays.
Even though we will most likely go and see all the same houses we always see and the decorations will all mostly be the same as previous years, we still go and look at them all. We goof around and laugh and sing along, sometimes with our own lyrics, which ALWAYS ends up in more laughing and ridiculousness. Then when the drinks and snacks are gone and we’ve heard all the same songs at least a couple of times, we will head back home.
I’m definitely going to savor it as much as possible this year because I know this tradition has an expiration as my kids get older. Next year may see an addition with MCG coming along or it may see MC finally deciding he has more important things to do with MCG here. I’m pretty sure that once MC decides he is done, then BG will follow quickly behind as it won’t be the same for her without her big brother.
Their continued excitement for this and some of our other traditions makes me infinitely grateful that my kids are who they are and that they still think time spent with their parents is something they enjoy.
This year has proven that I really wouldn’t do well living in an area that didn’t get any snow. Other than the one extremely odd pre-Halloween snow, we have missed every single snow producing system that has made it way by. We haven’t even had a flurry.
A friend in NY posted a photo on FB of the massive amounts they’ve gotten and how much work it was taking to just get her front walk cleared in an attempt to dig out her car. The snow was up nearly to the top of the wheels. She was absolutely miserable and I felt horrible for her, but I was also a little jealous that we haven’t seen any.
We haven’t even had any rain.
While I really don’t wish for snow that would bring all kinds of negatives like power outages and dangerous roads, I do really wish we’d get snow. It is the only thing that makes the cold tolerable.
We had our meeting and walk through with the main guy today. I mostly let Hubby lead because I’m still pretty pissed about everything. It wasn’t a very satisfying meeting. The end result is that whatever issues we have are going to be taken care of, one way or another.
They shut down all work starting next Wednesday and don’t start back up again until January 4th. With the issues we have and the people they have available to work right now, we are opting to wait to pick back up on this after the new year.
I have very mixed feelings about this. Mostly because this pushes the whole project back to the point where I will be lucky to have them done and gone so I can start my part by my birthday in the middle of January. I’m really kind of ticked that this is going to take so long to finish.
The plus sides are that we get a stress free and peaceful holiday with no pounding or singing or obnoxious laughing or trash or bathroom messes. Our cats can roam free and I don’t have to stress about the difficult kitty being completely pissed and unhappy about being confined.
It also means that we get our original guy back. I have no clue how in the hell he is cleared to go back to full work so soon after a surgery like that, but apparently that is what he is being told. Having him back means I know the rest is going to be done right and he can fix any of the problems the recent guys created (and there are several.)
I don’t love the extended time frame at all, but I’m going to take the road of looking at the positives right now. I really do want to be able to enjoy the holidays without being constantly ticked.
Hell, maybe now that I’m not so tied to the house I can get out and get some new photos for a change.
It started when only one guy showed up. He came in with a huge broom, which tripped my WTF mode because that would indicate they thought they were done or close to done and they weren’t. I just decided to wait and see. At that point, I had no idea if the second guy, the singer, would be there later or what.
About an hour after he got here, I started hearing a very different kind of sawing, more like a higher pitched grinding. It reminded me of my Dremel tool, which really didn’t make sense with what he most likely would have been working on. That was soon followed up with a lovely, crunching/ripping kind of sound that is more associated with destruction, not construction. I was seriously concerned by this.
About 10 minutes into that, Hubby gets out of his meeting and we decide we really need to find out what is going on and go check. The dude is cutting a rather large notch into one of our wooden support beams above the steel I-beam. The apparent thought process was to give a place for the wires that ran under those support beams a place to go so that drywall could be attached (the wires are currently in the way).
Um… NO. This was NOT the plan. The plan was to build out around that so you didn’t have to mess with the wires at all. Same goes for the other beam. I honestly haven’t a clue what the dipshit was thinking he was going to do as we have wiring that runs all along the top of that I-beam and underneath the floor beams, so he would have had to do this to EVERY single floor beam. I cannot imagine that is even remotely good for structural integrity, but that’s neither here nor there as it wasn’t the plan at all. I would have outright rejected that if someone has suggested it as a solution, but no one said a word to me about it.
When we told him that this wasn’t a part of the plan and talked about the need to build out instead, he said that he wasn’t sure how to do that and he would need to talk to the main guy at the company. That and he was actually scheduled to go to another job with singer guy when he finished up, so he was just going to clean up and go and that he’d have main guy call us.
Seriously?! There are so many pieces that are wrong with all of that. First, you don’t know how to do that and yet you are here, working BY YOURSELF, and were supposed to finish?! They apparently forgot all together that the much larger beam wasn’t done and ready for drywall because it wasn’t even on their plans to do anything with it. They also apparently thought they were done with the duct work in the closet as well because all this guy was going to do today was this crazy shit with the wires (which he managed to jack up the insulation around one in the process, exposing some bare wire). Why on Earth do you have someone that doesn’t know jack shit working unsupervised?
Secondly, why in the ever loving hell did they schedule these guys to go work another job without confirming that not only are they done, but it is done right and there are no issues? I’m so sick of the people that are supposed to be working on this job not actually DOING this job.
Both Hubby and I are absolutely livid. He knows better than to have me talk to the main guy (I do not have the ability to keep a calm head right now), so he has called and left a message for him. We are now waiting to find out what the hell is going on and when we are going to get this cursed job finished.
You have no idea how tempted I am to tell them they are going to have to just frickin’ wait until after the new year to continue any work just to give us a stress free holiday, but I also want this done and this company gone. I’d even be tempted to say they can take the rest of the contract and shove it where the sun don’t shine, but after the hell of even getting a response from anyone else, I know I have zero choices right now.
I want to know how the hell a company that does business like this and has guys like this on their crews can manage to get as many high a ratings as they have and even able to win a few awards because this is all just a whole bunch of bullshit.
Yesterday’s progress seems a little better than the previous days of work. At one point, I got the wild idea that they were actually working until they finished today, but that was extreme wishful thinking on my part. All because they worked later in the day than they had the other days.
I was pleased to see the outside wall of our existing storage area get built out so the pole could be enclosed when they drywall that area. After the other day, I was really concerned they would forget it. I can say that I’m REALLY glad that I’m not the poor sap that has to drywall this because there are a couple of areas that aren’t exactly flush. Not sure how they are going to overcome that, but I’m not the one that has to deal with it.
They also finished the walls of the closet and started wrapping the duct work so that drywall can be mounted around it. Again I’m wondering if they forgot something or if they aren’t aware that the inside of the closet is also getting drywalled or they just simply aren’t finished because the duct work inside the closet isn’t done, but the outside is.
I now also have a frame for the ceiling over the new doorway.
That lovely (read ugly) reddish brown beam will also need to be wrapped so it can be drywalled. There is another, much longer, beam where the opening to the rest of the basement is that also needs to be wrapped, but it also has a lot of wires along the top edge that makes wrapping that one a bit of a challenge. I’m not exactly certain how they are working that, but it may be built out a bit.
Those really are the last parts of the framing that needs to be done: finish wrapping the duct work in the closet and wrap the two beams. It would be easy to imagine it would only take another day to finish, but I just don’t see that happening with this crew.
I ended the day with a clean bathroom again (not sure anyone actually even used it) and a headache. I’ve decided that I NEVER want to be serenaded. It would likely send me into a murderous rage. I came close by the end of the day, so I know this for a fact. Hubby’s coworkers got a bit of an earful during a meeting as well because the guy was belting it out like he was trying out for a Broadway musical and he wanted to ensure the guys in the back could hear it too.
Would I be getting too nitpicky if I ranted again about the fast food cup still full of soda left in my basement (and on my new frickin’ counter top that is not exactly in the area they are working) or the lack of mask wearing when the one guy goes in an out even though he sees me sitting on the couch wearing mine? Have I said I can’t wait for this project to be done yet?
I still do not understand how it is possible for two guys to be here from 9am until about 3:30pm and all they get done is framing a doorway in an existing opening, putting up an outer wall frame (no internal studs) and the door frame/front wall of the new closet.
They did add two boards to the the large opening they worked on yesterday and that took them most of the morning. Hubby went down when they left for lunch to see what they’d done and that was the extent of it. Based on where they were working, I was expecting the wall build out on the outside of the storage area to be getting worked, but that didn’t happen today.
With as much as I’ve complained so far, this feels like I’m just being nitpicky, but it really is shocking how little they get done. At this pace, I honestly expect them to be here the rest of the week even though our last guy really expected to only have about a day or two worth of work left before he got sick.
It was also fun to have some random guy I’ve never seen before unexpectedly walk into my house and head to the basement, sans mask, with a little mumble that he was with the company. Again, no name. He was only here for about 10 minutes before he left, but it shocked the hell out of me to look up and see someone I didn’t know standing in my house.
*Sigh* At least I have a clean bathroom today and this IS progress. I can say that it is awesome to see this really taking shape.
It’s incredibly hard to believe that we STILL haven’t seen any of this kind of thing this year. No snow. Only a few sprinkles of rain, so almost zero moisture of any kind. We are just now really feeling any cold and it decided to go WAY cold as we are only in the teens this morning. Such weird weather.
I debated with myself over posting this because, honestly, it feels like I’m just being cranky about the whole thing. Reality is that I’m not actually just being cranky. It is about general respect and decency from the people you hire to work on property you own and the fact that this company really doesn’t have any.
I’d say I don’t know how I managed to forget to put it in yesterday’s post, but I do know how. It was because there were just SO many things that bothered me yesterday that it got lost in the mess. The first utter lack of respect and concern I experienced from the new crew was them showing up at my door without masks on or anywhere in sight after having parked a massive truck in my driveway, blocking all of our cars in, without asking. I hesitated at first to say anything, though I’m opening the door with my own mask on and Hubby standing with me, also with a mask on, so it is obvious what I felt about the issue. One guy finally asks if I want them to wear masks. After they are standing in my house. Needless to say, after only getting the text that morning, this didn’t start the day out on the right foot at all.
They also didn’t even give their names. Just that they were with the company we hired and were there to work on the project. At that point, I was stressing more about how to deal with the mask issue that I just let it slide. I never did get a name for either one of the guys that worked yesterday.
I was quite honestly concerned about what exactly they were doing yesterday hearing some of the things I did. At one point, I was really concerned they were attempting to straighten a major support pole, one of two that are both problems when it comes to framing, but were NOT supposed to be messed with. I could hear the pounding and feel the vibrations through the entire house, so it was obvious they were at the very least working in that area. I didn’t think they’d be stupid enough to attempt to straighten a pole that was concreted in to the floor, but… I was still worried. That, thankfully, didn’t end up being one of my many problems by the end of the day.
There were a couple of times throughout the day that at least one of the guys came upstairs to either get more lumber from outside or go to the bathroom and he wasn’t wearing his mask. In all honesty, I wasn’t at all comfortable with these guys. I don’t know if it was this lack of respect, the refusal to wear their masks and the rudeness from the extremely loud and obnoxious one or if it was something else, but I just was not comfortable and felt incredibly relieved that Hubby was working from home and there with me. I had not felt that way at all with our first crew.
After they left for the day, Hubby and I do our usual walk through to see what kind of progress they’d made. What they got done, did look good, so quality hadn’t suffered from the previous crew. At least as far as the construction aspect goes. The clean up? That’s a little different.
While the tools and things were mostly organized and confined, the materials weren’t as well cleaned up as the previous crew. They also had a large trash bag sitting in the middle of the room that was never there before, but really not a big deal or a huge concern for either. What annoyed the ever loving shit out of me was the empty water bottle and fast food cup that were sitting on a couple of storage bins under our stairs. This is even more annoying when you consider the large trash bag just a few feet away. I’m feeling like I’m just being horrifically petty and picky at this point and just let it go. It really isn’t a huge deal.
Even with all of these things, I was just irritated and annoyed and not truly pissed. THAT came when I went to use my bathroom, one I’d cleaned the night before, and was forced to clean it before I could use it.
Let me just say, I threatened to quit my job years ago when the company I worked for at the time suggested canceling their contract with a cleaning crew for the bathroom and having us employees clean it instead in an effort to cut costs. I do NOT clean up other people’s bathroom messes. Hell, I don’t even clean my kids’ bathrooms anymore. They do their own. Having to clean up after a stranger pissed me off.
I’m sorry, how fucking difficult is it to check after you’ve used a bathroom to make sure you didn’t leave a mess? I’m not talking a couple of drips here. I’m talking, someone obviously wasn’t feeling awesome and splatters happened. I had crap on the underside of the seat and around the rim and those expected male drips on the seat.
I’ve been a home owner for over 20 years and dealt with a lot of various different service people and contractors in and out of my house. In all that time, it was exceptionally rare that a worker would even ask to use the bathroom and NEVER have they left it a mess. I was absolutely livid.
I wanted to call the company owner up and rip him a new one. The problem? I also want my job finished and finished correctly and I truly believe that if I do that, I just might piss him off enough that that might not happen. Hubby and I spent a significant amount of time discussing it last night and both agreed to just keep quiet about it for now. If anything worse happens, we will say something. Once the job is done, though, we will be leaving a review.
Oh! And if that wasn’t enough, I was absolutely floored at how little they got done. The first picture below is what it looked like when they started their day. The one below is after.
They managed to frame in my access opening in the wall on the left and they built what looks like the framing for the large doorway opening to the rest of the basement. That’s it. For an entire day’s worth of work. Do you have any idea how long it takes for them to frame out an entire house? It really isn’t long at all. Maybe a couple weeks tops.
I’m not entirely ignorant when it comes to construction. I’ve watched my dad work on all kinds of projects for years. And yes, he actually did work construction for a while when he and my mom were first married, so he actually does know what he is doing. It should not have taken two guys all day to get that little bit done. It took a day and a half for the previous crew to do three and a half walls, one of which included a door frame and the rework of half a wall including the build out.
They still have to build out the wall by the storage area to be able to enclose that pole, frame out a new closet on the other side of that area and wrap the duct work on the ceiling so it can be dry walled in. I really don’t want these guys in my house for as long as it is going to take them to do all that. Not with the pace they are going. Hell, it looks like this whole thing my now be going on through mid-January and I was hoping to be done by Christmas.
So, yeah, I’m frustrated and pissed off. I am desperate to get this part of the job done so we can move on to the next part. I’m also hoping like mad that the electrician is better than these guys and that the people that come to do the dry wall are NOT them.