So everything is all lined up…ah oh.

building with stick figure eyes/arms collapses

Uh.

Our contractor sent us an e-mail which, to paraphrase and summarise, said:

Something went horribly wrong on another job due to a subcontractor, I don’t think I can do your job now*

What it didn’t tell us is what state things were in. So I’ve been trying to catch our truss supplier and our roofing company and find out when they need to know by, and please don’t cancel it yet, and dear goddess what do we do now.

After 5 contractors have been and gone, one because we just didn’t like them (so after the bid we were done), and one because he just wandered off in the middle of a text conversation about scheduling and then didn’t come back for months. But now 2 on this job have screwed us and because of one of them we lost another contractor and we’ve pretty much lost all faith in anyone in Oly being a decent contractor.

It’s not like in the UK it was all smooth sailing, we got screwed by contractors doing shoddy work that had to be fixed, but apart from a rare few over the years, people turned up. People did some work of some sort. It may be shit and need rectification, but it actually got done.

We can’t even get past planning here. We get people who waffle around for months then decide they don’t want to do it, we get people who suddenly announce that they need to shuffle our job to months in the future, and now we’ve got a permit, we’ve got approved truss diagrams and quotes, we’ve got roofers ready to go, we’ve ripped out the electrics, we have an electrician scheduled and no f’kin general contractor to put the trusses on.

We’re now considering:
1) Hiring day labour to put them up ourselves
2) Finding an installer to just do the trusses**
3) Screaming endlessly into the void

* Although talking to the Truss Supplier – he said that he’d been told we were worried about keeping the house dry and so he’d had to move the date. Which is a WTF?! We *explicitly* agreed that we were fine with water getting in the house. We didn’t want it open for weeks and weeks, but what now?! Where did this come from?
** Although our Truss Supplier seems to think that is going to be a stretch because most of them are tied up until the Spring.

Sometimes I do wonder if the world is picking on us

Now realistically I know that we are not the centre of the universes, and as I don’t believe in any deities, it’s pretty hard to imagine the random nature of the universe coinciding to pick on us, specifically.

But it sure does feel that way sometimes.

Let me walk you through this…

Yesterday it became apparent that our house actually came with a swimming pool. The insulation contractor came, looked at the house, and in the process of preparing to go into the crawl space we discovered that the house was actually standing in about 6″ of water.

This did not make me happy.

However, the house does have a sump pump and so with some trepidation, I pulled an extension cable through the window and plugged it in. In an astonishing first of its kind experience, the pump worked.

However, it demonstrated why the crawlspace is flooded, and the pump disconnected.

Water pours from the leaking drains

Yes, in another fine example of “why do something properly if you can do it both cheaply and badly”, our gutters drain in to above-ground soak-away pipes which… are completely blocked once they do get in to the ground. So while the pump did pump the water out from under the house, it immediately leaked out of the pipe and then poured back in through the crawl-space hatch.

Hi-la-ri-ous.

Cue much faffing and, in the end, abuse of the vacuum cleaner hose, which allowed me to at least get the worst of it out and turn our garden into a swamp. Of course, the pointfullness of this activity was somewhat reduced by the fact that it rained overnight, and this morning.

So I got to the house today having bought 20 feet of soakaway drainage hose. My thought being that it would probably be okay if it was not full of leaves and mud, at least until we get the new gutters and get some soakaways (or drywells, as they seem to be called here) built. I ended up pulling the one out of the ground in the front garden and replacing it with one of the new 10′ runs. I also created a new connection for the sump pump that allowed me to leave it connected. Don’t ask*.

Then I tried that at the back, but it rapidly became apparent that the water was just running out of the soak-away hose and back into the crawlspace.

So I unplugged the pump, got in the car and headed back to the hardware shop. As I drove off, one street away, I pulled aside to allow a fire engine to go flying past. I had the usual momentary thought of “I wonder if they’re going to our house, nah”.

And I continued on my way.

And I was away for all of, maybe, 20 minutes.

I returned with 10′ of non-perforated hose (I should have got twenty foot).

And then I found this note on our door…

OFD forced entry to check for a death...but it was the wrong house

And then I nudged the door and discovered that the frame was split, and the door no longer locked. Thankfully, because I wasn’t gone long, it doesn’t look like anything was taken. I pulled some nails out from the trim and used them to put the door-frame back into some kind of holdable state, then fished in the giant box of pulled nails and screws (for chucking in metal recycling, conceptually), and pulled out a couple of long not-too-rusty screws. Using them I could fix the latchplate into the building frame rather than just the door frame.

And it at least sort-of locks. Oly Fire Dept are coming tomorrow to replace the door and frame.

But seriously. Seriously!

I was gone 20 minutes. If they’d have arrived 5 minutes earlier I’d’ve been at the house. And it was the wrong house anyway.

The world is laughing at me, I swear it.

And of course, because the house is only semi-secured I felt I needed to pull all the tools and my bike out. So they’ve all come home, but in the process of arguing my bike into the car, I managed to smear oil onto the backs of the seats. Which is pretty irritating.

* Did you ask? *sigh* Okay, I drilled a hole in the siding, in a section we’re planning to cut out, fed the cable through and duct-taped over it.

Nibbled to death by ducks

My aged laptop (9 years old) is apparently attempting to gradually consume my money. In addition to its already irritating tendency to reboot itself at random moments, the replacement (used) power supply cable is starting to break (but I’m really unwilling to pay for a new one for it), and… now the right speaker has failed.

Not in a “oh, the right speaker isn’t working” way, but in a “oh, it’s horribly distorted” way.

Problem is I don’t really feel like I have the cash to throw at a decent replacement. Indeed, my broad intention was not to replace it. And perhaps that’s the path down which I need to go. I have the Pinebook I can use for things where I need to do a decent amount of typing, and the Yogabook for things where I want to do only a little typing.

But trying to research stuff for the house on either of those is less than ideal. While the Yogabook is adequately quick, it is at the end of the day a tablet, and while the pinebook is more laptopy, it is at the end of the day a Raspberry Pi in a posh box.

The reason I don’t want to replace the mac is a two-parter. One is that I am intending to get a decent PC when we have the house finished, and the other is that if I were to replace this I’d want to replace it with something actually good.

But I’m disappointed Apple. My last laptop, the ever disintegrating Dell, beyond its murderous approach to battery management never actually had component issues. The case gradually broke, and it got painfully, painfully slow to use as software requirements got greater. But it always actually worked. And I sold it at about the same age as this Macbook is now.

But the Macbook I can’t sell as a working computer (not that it’s worth much) because of its faults. *looks at Apple*.

Ah, yes, that about describes it.

Here is the current learning curve: Overhanging cliff by Jason Priem, via Flickr

So, back when we were planning to build our house from scratch there were many things we didn’t need to learn. Why? Well, because we had an architect who was able to inform us of how we should do things. Now, because we have a contractor for just some of the work – and he’s asking us exactly what we want (which is exactly as it should be), we’re getting to make exciting decisions like “how do we want to vent the roof” or, in our case, not vent it.

Having spent some time reading up on vaulted roofs, our now expert opinion is that we should fork out for a thin layer of closed cell insulation over which we can throw fiberglass (because that’s what we can afford) to meet the required R-value in the space allowed. That means, ideally, tweaking the roofing to have a small gap under the metal to allow it to dry out in an upward direction.

Which means adding furring strips.

Which weren’t in the original quote.

Which means changing something.

Which means getting someone to ring me back.

Which it turns out is proving difficult this morning.

Of the 6 people I’ve contacted this morning I’m running about a 50% return rate (well, actually, it’s exactly 50%). Unfortunately, the 50% that’ve called me back are:

– The porta-loo company (which I don’t need to book yet)
– The insulation company (which I would like a quote from, but he’s asked to do it by e-mail)
– Our contractor (who’s asked for a bit more time to get an answer).

The electrical, the guttering, and the roofing.. the people I actually more urgently need to speak to? They haven’t yet called me back. I’m hoping they will, as they’ve been pretty good about returning calls, but it’s not always been rapid. Problem is I don’t really want to head out until I’ve got answers as I really could do with the answers while I have my big book of notes to write them in, and not them calling me back in the middle of a shop. Which is obviously what will happen.

Not to count chickens but…

Quoth the e-mail this morning: “The above-referenced permit has been approved and is ready to be issued”.

Just the electrical permit to submit and I need to check on my waste water plumbing plan.

Now the terror begins.

In which I think out-typed some more

I’ve been feeling this melancholia or even the vague edges of depression again. I cheer up around Kathryn and around friends, but even then at times I’m feeling the edges of something that’s concerning to me. And I’m not sure exactly why. I know I miss Europe – and I miss feeling comfortable with traveling. I miss a sensible length of paid holidays, not worrying that the the next illness could suck all the money from our scant savings.

I know that the rise of the right wing has fucked up much of Europe as much as it’s fucking up America, and I don’t really know what to do with that in my head. I know that the UK that I thought at least partially existed is nothing more than a mirage from living in left-leaning liberal bits of England where people who weren’t white and weren’t English were welcomed.

I get that. It hurts. But I get it.

It’s funny, because in many respects, job-wise we’re both better off than we’ve ever been. If we can ever get this house project moving and, indeed, get it done, it’s much closer to building our own house than we’ve ever done before. I mean, it’s frustratingly not building our house on the land we bought for that purpose. And that leaves it with an edge of frustration. As does the startling discovery that the city really care about the appearance of that street.

I dunno. It all just feels vaguely unsatisfactory and I can’t entirely explain why.

I’m hoping this will improve when we actually get started on something, as at the moment my brain is mainly occupied with being frustrated about things we can’t afford to do.

Well, that was astonishingly pricey

So, I went to my new optician today and hope to the goddesses that he’s right about his diagnosis, as at the end of the appointment I was $1000 lighter than when I went in.

Having had a long discussion about the sort-of-double vision I get when I’m tired, and when I’m reading…

…and the fact it’s been around since I was in my 20s, but it seems to be getting worse…

…and the fact that the prism added for strabismus (or ‘squint’, or ‘turned eye’) helped for the past two years, but seems to have stopped helping…

…and that it gets better if I take my glasses off…

…and many other things…

…and then following about 90 minutes of eye examination (although that did include the check for glaucoma and macular degeneration) he concluded that what I actually have is accommodative esotropia. Which basically means I get crosseyed, very slightly, as I try and near-focus. At far focus my eyes do something else (I forget what). As a result, my brain has, it seems stopped bothering with focusing my left eye (which is probably why I get headaches when I spend the day at home dinking), which was very weird. That seems to have been a result of adding prism, as I never had a problem focusing it before but today even with much tweaking of my lenses, the left was vaguely fuzzy.

That should, hopefully, get better with this new prescription.

The optician is clearly someone who very much enjoys his job (I’d recommend him to people, so long as you’re happy with blunt cheerful honesty about how terrible your eyes are), so that part at least was actually kinda enjoyable. Insofar as a sight test can ever be enjoyable.

But I’ve gone from a relatively simple prescription to a super complicated multifocal one which, to top it off, I need two of. That’s because I really, really need sunglasses to reduce the probability of me getting macular degeneration. I did once have “transitions” lenses – which they also sell, but my last wearing of them resulted in me having glasses that went dark in the cold. Since then I’ve been unwilling to retry them. So I had to buy two pairs of the painfully expensive glasses (although the sun glasses were marginally less expensive lens wise, as they don’t do the really good quality multifocals in sunglasses yet).

As a ‘bonus’, they recommended larger glasses, because to accommodate the multifocal variation they really need more glass-estate. So I’m back to my teenage-owl glasses look, which I’m not sure about, but I’m going to have to like, because $1000. I considered some 1960s style ones but felt a little too much like photos of my dad from the 1960s.

I could, obviously, have taken my prescription to some online place and tried to get something cheaper – but given the crappitude of my eyes it’s probably not worth the torment.

Apparently I can expect at least a couple of weeks of discomfort when I get them, too, as my brain attempts to remap the visual cortex to handle this new system for seeing. Which sounds super fun. And of course, having had atropine drops in my eyes I got to spend the day as a vampire with pain from sunlight and eventually a moderately cracking headache from not being able to focus on anything.

—–

Despite that Kathryn and I got out in the garden as the evening wore on and planted four trees – A ranier cherry, a bing cherry, a mountain maple, and a buckthorn – all thanks to Sarah for the ace tip about the native plant sale and the tree sale. We said Hi to our neighbours and had a nice chat with our arborist who’s made the area around the trees at the back much prettier and healthier (bramble reduction, adding mulch). He also helped us plant the two cherries – digging holes for us as we trundled out to grab them in the pickup.

—–

In house news, we’re still getting quotes in, and waiting on news of a final quote from our contractor (he gave us a ballpark which we were happy with). We’re working with the city to come up with a plan for the frontage that we – and they – are happy with. While it’s stressful and tough, I think we might be making progress.

Note to self

Traditional order of dressing: Bra, then teeshirt. Not vice versa*.

* Limited applicability to superheroes.