Saturday, March 31, 2012

Day 837

Janet and I went to another charity fundraiser tonight. I think this one benefited children instead of animals, but they're all pretty much the same. We used to spend more time at these things, but now we pretty much just eat our dinner and come home. With Dot's rear legs getting increasingly shaky, we both hate to leave her by herself for long periods of time. I ended up bidding on a pallet of St. Augustine grass at the silent auction, since I'm going to have to be putting in new grass anyway in a few weeks. We played a little roulette out of habit, but we were home before nine.

I started moving some stuff into the new storage space this afternoon, mostly because I needed to bring home some special steps I had in storage that will make it easier for Dot to get up in the bed at night. I had these steps made for Petey when his legs started to go and they actually work pretty good. Now, we've just got to teach her how to use them. She still seems to want to take a flying leap up into the bed instead of gently walking up the steps.

The steps were buried away pretty well, so I ended up moving quite a few things from the old storage space to the new one just so I could get the dog steps and bring them home. While trying to find the elusive steps, I uncovered a dental drill, a vacuum tube powered, 1950's era lie detector machine and an original Elsworth Kelly painting. I don't do much now, but this odd little room reminds me that I have led an interesting life.

I was going to go down to the rent house and do some painting today, but I spent so much time at the storage warehouse that all I had time to do was go to the grocery store and walk the dogs before we had to leave for the charity dinner. If we were smart we would have just eaten at home and left a little later for the event. The food was terrible. These guys need to find a new caterer next year.

It looks like it's going to be a great day to go to the dog park tomorrow. The weather was beautiful today and it looks like it's going to stay this way for the rest of the week. I think Dot's days of racing around are over, but she still likes to wander through the park and smell the flowers.

Smiley is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 836

I went down to the rent property to do some painting and cleanup today. I gathered all my tools together, went up to the front door and then realized that I had forgotten to bring the key with me. I couldn't get in. The whole trip was a wasted effort. It was a waste of gas as well. I hadn't really noticed how expensive gasoline was getting until the rent property became vacant and I had to start making periodic visits to fix the place up. My weekly mileage has doubled and so has my gas bill. I feel sorry for those who have to commute long distances to work. At these prices, you could easily spend a small fortune on gas. Expensive gas notwithstanding, I'm going to have to make another trip to the rent house this weekend to finish what I should have done today. This whole cleanup process is taking a lot longer than I expected.

I'm starting to worry about Dot. Ever since her seizure, she has not been herself. Even though her blood work seems normal, she has been so lethargic and tired lately. Something is wrong, but it's hard to tell what the problem is. She still seems normal on her walks, but once we get home she mostly sleeps the rest of the day. This isn't like her at all. I'll take her in for some more tests next week. It could be that she's just getting old.

Hard to believe that March is over already. Last year at this time, we already had the St. Augustine grass in place in the back yard. This year we haven't even started yet. There's just so much to do. In addition to painting at the rent property, I have to start moving things over to the new larger storage warehouse this weekend. Nobody believes me yet, but the plan for the larger storage space is to organize things so I can finally start getting rid of some of this stuff. Right now, things are packed so tightly that I don't even know what I have. I'll give this project a year. If it works, I'll have sold a lot of stuff on eBay. If it doesn't work? Well, then I guess the new warehouse will be just as full of crap as the old one.

A guy called me today and said he was finally ready to start on the new website. I didn't recognize the voice, but said "Great" and asked when he'd like to get together. After the guy hung up, I searched through my files, trying to discover who I was talking to. I finally found what I was looking for. The call was a response to a bid I had sent out over two and a half years ago. It just goes to prove that all those dormant jobs aren't necessarily dead.

Sparky is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 835

I went to a friend's funeral today. No, this wasn't the architectural school classmate I mentioned earlier. I met David doing animal rescue work here in Dallas. Oddly, although my two friends lived thousands of miles apart, they both died of cancer within days of each other. During the service, the wireless mic that the preacher was using kept fading in and out. I could imagine David fuming in the casket. He was a fabulous DJ and knew everything there was to know about sound systems. I'm sure he knew exactly how to fix the situation, but he was already somewhere else. David loved people and was always there to lend a helping hand. It was not surprising that the church was filled to capacity. As a somewhat grumpy person with few friends, I often wonder if anyone will show up at my funeral at all. I guess we never know these things though. It's probably best that we don't.

While I was at the funeral, the electrician called and left a message saying he was ready to fix the mercury vapor lamp in the back yard. When I returned the call and asked whether he could reschedule for tomorrow, he said that they didn't work on Fridays and that I would have to call the office on Monday and reschedule. I also got a call from the washing machine repair shop today, saying that the part hadn't come in yet and they were planning on coming out again next Wednesday. When I reminded them that the repairman told me the part could be ordered overnight and that the repair would be finished by Friday at the latest, all the dispatcher said was that the repairman shouldn't have been telling me these things. Oh, well. So much for service.

My financial advisor called me today to explain some recent transactions. I was perplexed yesterday when I discovered that I now owned two new stocks and didn't remember buying either of them. My advisor explained to me that we had talked extensively about these two companies during our last meeting, but that he had waited until now to buy them because they hadn't been attractively priced until recently. I have no reason to doubt the guy. I forget stuff all the time. It was just a little embarrassing to admit to my financial advisor that much of what he tells me goes in one ear and right out the other.

It was a busy day, but I still managed to get just about everything on my list finished. Dogs were walked. Articles were written. Websites were updated. Probably the most surprising thing about the day was that my dark funeral suit still fit. I may be getting senile, but at least I'm not getting fat.

Elliot is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 834

I must have been tired last night. When I woke up this morning, the house was quiet. Janet had already left for work and the dogs were back asleep on either side of me. I got myself in gear and started working, but spent most of the day thinking it was Tuesday. Tuesday or Wednesday? It doesn't really make much difference. I do practically the same things each day anyway. I didn't realize it was Wednesday until I was paying bills this afternoon and noticed that the computerized check on my screen was dated Wednesday, March 28.

Although I got off to a late start, it was a pretty normal day. I paid some bills, wrote some articles and updated a few websites. For some reason nobody is paying me this month. It's the 28th of the month and only one check in the mail so far.

I made the final arrangements for moving to my larger storage space this Saturday. I also had a talk with the people who did my MRI last January. When I went in for the MRI, the girl at the front desk told me that the amount I paid up front would be the only payment I'd have to make. Sure enough, three months later I get another bill from these people. This type of thing happens frequently and is one of the reasons I think healthcare is hopelessly complex. Doctors and hospitals initially charge way more than they ever expect to receive and then spend the next three months fighting it out with the insurance companies. In this case, a $5,500 initial bill was eventually settled for $798. This still seems a lot for what is basically a fancy scan. Sure, they're scanning something that's alive, instead of a photo or a piece of paper, but an MRI is still a fancy scan in my book. You ought to be able to walk into an MRI store and get one of these things for $25.

Neither of the real estate agents I contacted about my rental property has bothered to follow up with me. When I wasn't interested in selling, real estate agents were relentless about getting a listing. I'd tell them no and they'd just keep calling. Ironically, now that I am interested in selling, these same agents don't even give me the time of day. Maybe they know something I don't. Now that I think about it, there are a lot of for sale signs in the neighborhood already. Maybe they're worried that adding one more house to the mix will depress prices even further.

The dogs did well at class tonight. The weather is getting warmer and more importantly, there is still daylight when the class begins. In another month, there will probably be daylight when the class ends.

Doc is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 833

I got a message this morning that one of my college classmates had died after a long battle with cancer. Spending as much time with dogs as I do, I'm all too familiar with the cycle of life. Some of my very best friends are sitting in little urns on our coffee table. It's different though when someone passes away who is exactly the same age as you are. It makes you realize just how fragile and short life can be. Whenever a friend dies, I resolve to make the most of the rest of my life. This resolve seldom lasts long however. The simple mechanics of daily living seem increasingly complex and any grand plans I once had continue to fade away. My college friend accomplished a lot during his short time on earth. Sometimes I wonder whether I've done anything at all. Maybe being an observer is not enough.

The mower charged up just fine last night, so right after I finished walking the dogs, I mowed the grass for the first time in 2012. If the front yard was filled with Bluebells like the ones that are starting to appear in the fields behind our house, I wouldn't bother to mow at all. Unfortunately, there are no wildflowers in our yard; just a lot of wildly growing weeds.

Continuing the theme of broken things that I've established this Spring, a mercury vapor lamp in the back yard burned out last night. I called an electrician to replace the lamp, since it is located right next to where the power comes in from the utility pole. I'm so clumsy that I'd probably electrocute myself if I tried to change the lamp myself. We installed the lamp for security years ago, but in recent years it has become more of a nightlight for me and the dogs. Dash seemed restless last night without the soft light streaming in the windows and it seemed a bit too dark to me as well. It's weird that everyone at our house sleeps better with light streaming in the window, but that's just the way it is.

I returned to the rental property this afternoon to continue my cleaning efforts. I patched the holes in the Sheetrock and started to clean the floors. A word to the wise: don't ever put slate floors in a rental property. The dark floors hide the dirt so well that nobody bothers to clean them. When I got out my wet mop to clean the floors, I discovered they were filthy. I don't think any renter has bothered to clean them since they were installed. Although it's often hard work, I don't mind cleaning up the rent house. It's peaceful down there. No phones or Internet to interrupt me. As I slowly and methodically bring the place back to the way it was when I used to live there, I have many fond memories of the good times I had there. Life was simpler then. Much simpler!

I took the last of the K-1 forms that have been arriving in the mail to the accountant today. I think I'm finally good to go. Taxes are another thing that have become more complex over the years. You'd think with such a complex tax return, I'd be making a lot of money. Sadly, this is not the case. It's all just a lot of bad investments.

Chloe is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 832

I started three big repairs today. The report card: one success, two fails. The washing machine repair was a big fail. After listening to barking dogs and strange noises in the utility room for an hour and a half, the technician told me that I needed a new circuit board and that he would have to special order the part. It doesn't matter whether it's the furnace, the car, or the washing machine, it's always the motherboard. I don't know why they had to special order this part. They should have just filled the truck with these innocuous looking but strangely expensive circuit boards. There was nothing mechanically wrong with the machine at all. It was the electronics that had gone haywire. The machine is still broken and I will have to listen to barking dogs again as soon as the part arrives.

For a while, I thought I was going to have better luck with my catalytic converter. When I went to the muffler shop, the repair guy said he didn't see anything wrong with my catalytic converter. He thought I just had a loose heat shield. He welded the loose heat shield on again and didn't charge me a thing. I thought I was ahead of the game until I started hearing the rattling noise again before I was even halfway home. Either the weld broke when I went over a bump, or they guy was completely wrong about the catalytic converter. At any rate, it's back to the muffler shop tomorrow.

The one success of the day was the lawn mower. I went to a shop that rebuilds batteries and they were able to get my 24-volt lawnmower going again by using two twelve volt motorcycle batteries. Hopefully, these new batteries will hold a charge and I'll be able to finish mowing the grass in the morning.

Despite all the repairs, I still managed to get several websites updates done and wrote a couple of articles. I think the whole week is going to be this way. Hopefully, I'll find time tomorrow to go down to the rent property and patch the holes in the Sheetrock. I need to find the paint number and buy a quart of touch-up paint.When all the holes are patched, sanded and painted, I'll contact a real estate agent. Now that I'm thinking about selling, I'm starting to get calls from people who'd like to rent. It's always this way. I'm totally out of sync with the rest of the world.

Dot seemed tired today. She probably just wore herself out barking at the washing machine repairman, but she's getting old and I'm starting to worry about her legs giving out. I probably worry too much about everything.

Bubba is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 831

Our weekly trip to the dog park was the high point of the day. After we returned and had a little lunch, it was non-stop chores. I went to Home Depot first, to try to get a battery for my lawn mower before the grass in the front yard gets two feet tall. Although the store was still selling my model of mower, they had no replacement batteries. "We used to have batteries for these." was the best response I could get out of anyone. The salespeople couldn't even point me to a service center. Everyone seemed totally dependent on the Home Depot website. I already knew what the website said however. It said that this battery was out of stock online. Oh, well. Too much grass up front. Not enough grass out back. What are you going to do? Maybe I can get the battery rebuilt where I buy my watch batteries.

Later in the afternoon, I kept the promise I made yesterday and went down to clean my rental property. I'm happy to say that the Goo-be-Gone stuff actually worked and most of the candle wax and sticky stuff on the stone floors is gone. Now I've got to figure out how to get the Goo-be-Gone off the floors. It's some kind of petroleum based product and it doesn't seem to evaborate.

The big Molly Bolt wall anchors in the living room were a lot harder to remove than the sticky stuff on the floors. I managed to get most of them out, but I've got to go back and plaster over the holes. Now, the living room looks like someone used the walls for target practice. Renters are a complete mystery to me. I just don't understand why they do some of the things they do. In one of the bedrooms, someone took off the four sliding closet doors and put them on again backwards. Why? I just don't know what this proves. I've still got a lot of work to do, but I ought to have the place presentable enough to show a real estate agent in a week or two.

I think I'm getting too old to be cleaning sticky stuff off floors on my hands and knees. All I know it that every bone in my body was sore when I arrived home for dinner. I hate to pay someone to do this stuff however. It's simple mindless work. I used to be able to do this type of cleaning all day long. Unfortunately, the operating word in this case is "used to." If my hands rebel at scrubbing a floor, Lord help me when I pick up a guitar again.

Petey is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Day 830

I awoke to the sound of lawnmowers. All my neighbors were mowing their lawn. I think this loud, raucous sound marks the official start of Spring in Texas. From now through September it won't be birds chirping that I hear. It will be lawn mowers, weed wackers, hedge trimmers and leaf blowers. I would have mowed my own lawn too, but the mower wouldn't start. Jeez, I specifically got an electric mower so it would start easily every time, but apparently the battery went dead sometime during the Winter. I wish I knew the battery was dead when I was getting supplies at Home Depot yesterday. I could have picked up a replacement battery. No, that's not right. What was I thinking? Home Depot doesn't have any replacement parts. I'll have to look up the model number of the mower and buy a battery online.

I managed to put off cleaning up the rent property until tomorrow. I don't know why I hate dealing with this place so much. Once, I left the rent house vacant for two years because I just didn't want to mess with it. I can't afford to do that anymore. I'm going to have to get the place looking spotless and show it to a real estate agent. It would be a lot easier to just show it the way it is, but people always remember the worst and seldom make the effort to imagine how pretty it could be. OK. I've convinced myself. Tomorrow, rain or shine, I'm going down there with my bottle of Goo-be-Gone, a vacuum cleaner, a tub of spackling compound and assorted hammers and screwdrivers. I'm determined to get this albatross off my back.

The dogs were both panting on their evening walk and it wasn't even eighty degrees. I don't know what they're going to do in July when it's a hundred and ten outside. Dot is getting older and can't take the heat anymore. I think Dash is just lazy like me and would prefer to stay inside with a cool beverage.

Hopefully, the lawn mower battery will recharge itself overnight. I'd hate to add a new lawnmower to the washing machine repair, new furnace, and catalytic converter I'm already on the hook for. Oh, and I'm getting that larger storage space too. Where are those big, lucrative jobs when I really need them?

Chelsey is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 829

I spent the day wrapping up loose ends. I took the set top boxes and remotes back to the cable company. Hopefully, we'll never need these things again. I went to the muffler store and got a price on a new catalytic converter for my car. I went to Home Depot and got a bunch of cleaning products so can get my rent house looking presentable this weekend. I also called a real estate agent who's been bugging me for years to give him the listing on the place. Probably, now that I actually want to sell the house, he won't be interested any more. The guy specializes in what he calls architecturally significant homes, but usually they're much larger and more expensive than mine. We'll see. Somewhere out there is a person who has always wanted a mid-century home like this. I've just got to find them.

The weather has been beautiful for the past two days. If I wasn't so tired, I'd put in the new St. Augustine turf in the back yard. I think it was just about this time last year when we planted grass in the back yard. It's almost an annual ritual to plant new grass each Spring. Most of the grass never makes it through our hot Texas summers, but the yard looks real nice through about mid July.

So far, I like U-verse a lot better than cable. Internet download speeds seem quite a bit faster. The TV picture seems sharper too. The hum I always heard in the old analog phones is gone. I just wish the U-verse set top box showed which channel you were watching. Although we have 300 channels, the channel that shows old episodes of Fraiser every night is gone. I've seen all these shows five times already, but it's comforting to watch something you've already seen as you're going to sleep. I guess I'll have to find something new.

I have a feeling that it's going to be a busy weekend. Nice weather during the weekend usually means lots of chores.

Ariel is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 828

I had a meeting with my watchmaker client today. He was telling me how it's getting harder and harder for small repair shops like his to stay in business, mostly because the large watch manufacturers won't sell him parts anymore. They want repairs to come back to the factory and are slowly shutting out independent watch repairmen. I find this sad. I also find that it's just part of a much larger picture. More and more manufacturers have discovered what Apple is doing and would like to try doing the same thing themselves. Hey, if people will pay a lot of money for an iPad with no serviceable parts, maybe they'll do the same thing for an expensive watch or pair of shoes. We have become a disposable society and it's getting harder and harder to get anything fixed. I like buying quality things that can be fixed forever, but I'm in the minority here.

On the way back from my client meeting, I stopped by the Land Rover dealer to see if they could identify my new noise. Clay, my service guy identified it right away. "You need a new catalytic converter," he said. Damn! I thought I fixed the catalytic converter last year, but apparently the car has two of them. One thing I learned when I replaced the first catalytic converter was that it wasn't a good idea to have Land Rover do the job. The cost of a genuine Land Rover catalytic converter: $2500. The cost of a generic catalytic converter at the local muffler shop: $300. I'm going back to the muffler shop again.

It must have rained last night because the roof was full of water again. I didn't even hear the rain, but apparently a gentle rain can leave just as much standing water as a big storm. I'm really getting sick of getting all the water off the roof every time it rains, but the cost of a quality "engineered" roof that drains properly will make a Land Rover catalytic converter seem cheap. All I can tell you is to never buy a house with a flat roof. Those flat roofed mid-century modern homes with their sleek flowing lines sure look nice, but they will make your life miserable. Actually, if I had it all to do over again, I would just rent. Now that everybody is discovering that real estate is no better as an investment than anything else, houses don't look quite so glamorous. Owning a home is a lot of trouble. It would be a lot easier to just act like my tenants and "let the landlord take care of it."

I just finished doing a huge load of laundry with towels and clothes and everything all mixed together. The washer worked perfectly. Whenever Janet does a properly sized load of color sorted clothes, the washer doesn't work. Needless to say this isn't making her very happy. Oh well, the washing machine repairman comes on Monday.

Brooke is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 827

Most of today was occupied by getting U-verse installed. It was such a long, involved process that I boarded the dogs for the day. Dot would never have tolerated strangers moving things around in every room of the house. Since we were replacing all the phones, the televisions and the entire office network, I was expecting the worst. So far, the results have been largely favorable. The television works and we have a lot more channels than we had before. The Internet is quite a bit faster than it was before. The phones have built-in voice mail, so I don't need the answering machine anymore. I like a lot of the little things the best. When someone calls, the caller ID number shows up on your television screen. You can record an entire season of your favorite show just by clicking on a single button. The DVR automatically records each episode and then you can watch them whenever you want. So far, so good. It will probably take me months to learn all the available features but the main thing is that we are getting more services than cable for less money each month. As long as this complicated fiber optic system doesn't crash on us, I'm a happy camper.

I can't say that the dogs were all that happy today. Apparently, they both hate day boarding. When I picked Dot and Dash up after the U-verse installation was complete, Dot was panting like she'd been left out in the sun all day and Dash was making strange warbling bird noises. They were both very happy to return home again. Oddly, after all the boarding agitation, they were both very good at training class tonight. Dash had one of his best nights in months. We was even able to do some of his exercises off-leash. OK, I forgot to bring the long leash, but he did much better than I expected without it. Maybe I don't even need the long leash anymore. That would be great. If I could actually get to the point where I could trust this dog to come when he's called, it would be a miracle.

Now that the big household electronics upgrade is behind me, all I have to worry about are the washing machine repair and a potentially expensive trip to the Land Rover dealer. The mystery noise under the hood is getting louder, so I'd better take the car in soon.

The weather was beautiful all day. I'm sure the U-verse installation went a lot smoother than it would have if the technicians were trying to hook up new phone lines in a thunderstorm. I hope the nice weather continues. It should! After all, it's officially Spring now. Summer will be here before you know it, and that means I'd better turn my attention towards getting the rental property leased or sold.

Big Boy is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 826

There was an enormous amount of rain last night. It rained all night long and the storms continued until almost 10 AM this morning. Needless to say, the roof wasn't up to the challenge. Not only was there a leak in the living room where water usually gets in, but there was a second leak in the utility room as well. It's a good thing we've got a lot of buckets. Dot wasn't really up the the challenge either. She is terrified of storms and periodic thunderclaps kept her up all night. At some point during the night, the power went out, leaving me with dripping ceilings, scared dogs and no light.

Luckily, things got a lot better as the day progressed. I started the day by driving Janet to the dentist for dental surgery. Then the dogs got their walk where they splashed through puddles and made a general mess of themselves. As soon as the dogs were dried off and asleep on the bed again, I made the obligatory trip up on the roof to get the water off. I think my patches held up, but there was so much water this time that it just found another place to leak in.

With the roof dry again, I took Dash to the vet for his antigen shop and picked up a somewhat sedated Janet from the dentist. Before starting on my writing work for the day, I made one more attempt to find a washing machine repairman. My first pick never returned my call, so this time I picked a company that sounded more corporate. I made an appointment and am hoping for the best. These guys sound pretty expensive, but in this house the washing machine is just as essential as the coffee maker. I can't live with a broken washing machine for very long.

I don't know why everything seems to be breaking lately. I just noticed that the electric heating element in the dishwasher isn't working properly. The dishes get clean enough, but they just appear to air dry. Jeez, a furnace on the fritz, a washing machine that won't spin, a dishwasher that won't dry...where is all this all going to end? I think I heard a funny noise when I started the car this morning too.

Baxter is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 825

Everything seems to be falling apart lately. Today I discovered that the final spin cycle on the washing machine doesn't work anymore. A washing machine without a spin cycle is just a lot of wet soggy clothes, so I spent some time today looking for a repairman. The current front loader is the first washing machine we've had that didn't come from Sears. It used to be that just about everyone bought their major appliances from Sears. It was hard to go into anyone's kitchen without seeing the word Kenmore somewhere. Those days are long gone. We got the current washer and dryer from Lowes, who unlike Sears, doesn't service what they sell. I looked on the Internet for someone who repaired our brand of washing machine and found three names. I called the name with the best looking website and still haven't heard anything back. Maybe the guys with ugly websites are more responsive. I'll keep looking. I hope I can find someone soon. I certainly don't want to resort to going to laundromats again.

I've been waiting all day for the big storm all the TV weathermen have been telling me about. This is the storm that is supposed to bring eight inches of rain and maybe a tornado our way. Luckily, I was able to get both the morning and evening walks for Dot and Dash completed before the rains actually started. It's raining right now. I wouldn't call this a giant storm, but there is definitely enough water coming down to create a giant pond on the roof. We'll see tomorrow whether all the patching I did yesterday did any good.

My renter has finally moved out. I always hope the place will be spotless when a tenant leaves and am usually disappointed. The kitchen was pretty clean this time, which is always a good sign. Unfortunately, there were large metal wall anchors everywhere where pictures and shelves used to be. If you just paint over the wall anchors, it looks ugly and it you remove them completely from the sheetrock, there is usually some major patching to do. The stone floor is a mess too. Lots of candle wax spilled on the floor and a couple of big sticky spots where it looks like someone was using spray adhesive for craft projects. I could spend a couple of days down at the rent house and get everything looking shipshape again. Alternately, I could hire a handyman to fix things for me and probably not be happy with the results. I seldom have two days of free time and even less frequently have a good handyman at my beck and call. This is why it usually takes me forever to get the rent house ready to rent again.

Tomorrow, I'm a medical taxi. I take Janet in for dental surgery in the morning and Dash over to the vet for his antigen shot in the afternoon. I'm sure there will be some work to do as well.

Pringles is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Day 824

There is a big storm on the way with as much as eight inches of rain predicted for tomorrow. Like it or not, today was the day to bag up all the leaves in the yard and get them out to the curb for bulky trash day. If the leaves become waterlogged again, we'll be stuck with them for another month. Today was the day to try and get the roof patched as well. It's been dry for a while now, so it's easier to spot the small cracks where water gets inside.

Before tackling these tiring chores, we took Dot and Dash to the dog park. Dot is back to her old self again. The park is turning green again, which is a big improvement over the pile of dirt it is in the Winter. While the dogs were playing, we saw Dash try to protect Dot from an overly aggressive dog. We've never seen this before. I think dogs send signals to each other that we don't see or hear. Dash probably understood that Dot was still vulnerable and not quite herself. Dash was quite the hero, chasing the big black dog who was trying to hump every dog in the park away from Dot.

When we got back home, it was time for work. Janet and I must have bagged thirty bags of leaves in the back yard. The leaf blower sent an almost equal number into the street in front of the house where passing eighteen wheelers scattered them to the four winds. The yard looks much better now and is ready for a new St. Augustine turf to be installed in early April. I still can't believe the turf we put in last year only lasted one year. I think I'm going to till the soil before installing the new grass this time. The grass people said not to do this last year, but I don't think they realized how hard the clay in the backyard is. The roots never got established, even though we watered constantly. Hopefully, tilling the soil and adding some additional topsoil will help this time.

With a big rain coming, I knew I had one last chance to find the roof leak and patch it. I did find one little hole that still looked damp when the rest of the roof was dry. I dragged the shop vac up on the roof and tried to suck water out of this hole before I patched it. Amazingly, over two gallons of water came out. There is something a bit hopeless about this entire situation. I need an entirely new roof. Unfortunately, I can't really afford one yet. I keep patching and hoping for the best.

All in all, it was a pretty good day. Janet and I are tired. The dogs are tired. We're ready as we can be for whatever comes our way.

Nick is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Day 823 - St. Patrick's Day

Dot is doing a lot better today. Since she doesn't have a limp or any lingering effects from yesterday's trauma, I'm inclined to think she really did have a seizure. We'll never know for sure though, since I wasn't there when it happened. The important thing is that Dot is more or less back to normal.

Health is so important, for people and animals. I got two e-mails today from the families of friends who are losing their battle with cancer. One friend was a college classmate and the other an animal rescue volunteer. It's sobering to realize how tenuous our hold on health can be. One minute you're fine and the next minute, you're facing the battle of your life. I saw both my parents lose their grip on good health, and I'm sure my day will come as well. We all need to learn not to waste the good years we are given.

I seldom edit this blog, but I realized this morning that today was actually St. Patrick's Day and not yesterday. I don't know what made me think that the holiday was yesterday. Probably I just saw some news anchors on TV wearing green ties and didn't think any further about the subject. At any rate, I moved the St. Patrick's Day header from yesterday's post to today's. I'd hate for people to think that I'm so out of touch that I don't even know when I am experiencing a holiday.

I was going to bag up the leaves in the back yard this afternoon, mostly because I've been seeing my neighbors bag up their leaves. This means that the trash people will probably be picking up leaves this week. It wouldn't have been good to bag up the leaves today though. It rained last night and each bag would have been twice as heavy as it should be. Maybe if the weather is nice tomorrow, I can still get everything bagged up in time. I think there is only one leaf pick-up day all year, so I'd better not miss this one.

I got another letter from the Missouri Department of Revenue today. I was shocked. They actually admitted that I was right and that I didn't owe any Missouri State Tax after all. They thanked me for my input and said they would close out all my tax files. I guess this is good news, but it still doesn't answer the question of why I had a Missouri tax file in the first place. Like I said earlier, I've never lived in Missouri.

Tomorrow looks like a good day to go to the dog park. It also looks like a good day to do yard work. We'll go to the dog park first, and hopefully there won't be much time left to do yard work when we return.

Allie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Friday, March 16, 2012

Day 822

We had a dog emergency today. The day started normally enough. We fed the dogs and I took them on their morning walk. Both Dot and Dash were energetic and eager, just like they usually are. When we returned, I went out for breakfast. I was only gone an hour, but when I got home again, Dot couldn't walk anymore. I would lift her up and she would just fall over. She couldn't stand at all. I immediately rushed her to the vet. I wasn't sure if she had a seizure, if she had somehow torn her anterior cruciate ligaments, or if something life threatening was happening.

Dot was still real shaky when I got her to the vet, but over the next hour she appeared to stabilize and was able to stand again. The vet agreed that she probably had a seizure, but nobody knew why. Dot, unlike Dash, has never had a history of seizures. The vet did blood work to make sure she hadn't gotten a tick borne disease and then checked all her vital signs. Everything seemed normal. I left Dot at the vet for several hours, just in case she might have another seizure. Seizures often come in clusters of three. Nothing happened for the rest of the day however, and Dot is back home with us. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, it would be hard to believe that anything had happened at all.

While Dot was under observation at the vet, I took my tax files over to my accountant. This year, instead of fat ring binders and bulging accordion files, I just took them a disk with all my Quickbooks information. The disk is all they really want anyway. Last year, I took over a stack of papers almost a foot thick and I don't even think they looked at them. After finally getting Quickbooks configured exactly the way my accountant wanted, you'd think my taxes would be less expensive to prepare. Nope! Somehow, they're actually more expensive to prepare now.

After dropping off my files at the accountant's office, I headed back to the vet to check on Dot. On the way, I stopped by my rental property to see if my tenant had actually moved out. Nope! There's still furniture in the place. I was under the impression she was going to move out last week. I don't know if I have the patience for another renter. Maybe it's finally time to sell the place. I think I'm going to interview some real estate agents and see what they have to say.

Friday traffic was a lot worse than usual. The grocery stores were packed and everyone seemed to be buying beer and wine. There is a huge
St. Patrick's Day parade down Greenville Avenue tomorrow. I need to remember to avoid the entire area, since traffic becomes gridlocked. The days when I enjoyed drinking green beer and getting knee walking drunk are long gone. I just hope Dot is feeling better tomorrow.

Ruthie is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Day 821

I started working on my taxes today. Every year these things seem to become more complicated, even though my life has actually become simpler. Once you start depreciating things and carrying losses forward, you are forced to do these things every year thereafter. Right now, my financial life is such a complicated mix of things I've done in previous years that I don't think I'll ever have a simple return again. Maybe someday, our politicians will pass a flat tax and put an end to this needless complexity. You should really be able to do your taxes on a single sheet of paper. Just write down what you earned, subtract fifteen percent for the government, and write a check. Right now there are literally hundreds of ways for people to try to game the system, and yet nobody is happy. A flat tax would be better.

I'm still having a hard time adjusting to daylight savings time. I feel like I'm getting up earlier because it's still dark outside. In reality, I'm getting up a bit later though and the whole day gets off to a slow start. I don't really care about having more daylight in the evening. All I do in the evenings is write the blog anyway. Somehow, I'm walking the dogs at 8:30 in the morning now, instead of 7:30 like I used to. The sun is way too high in the sky for me to capture any neat sunset shots on our evening walks either. I haven't even finished resetting all the watches. I'm just not cut out for daylight savings time.

I've got to decide what to do about the rental property. One day I'll wake up wanting to sell the place, and the next day I'll decide it would be better to lease it again. It's hard to decide. The real estate market certainly hasn't rebounded yet. On the other hand, I don't really like being a landlord. I've got to decide something soon though, because I can't afford to have the place sitting empty forever.

I noticed that Jupiter and Venus were real close together in the Western sky when I took the trash out tonight. I wonder if they'll get closer, or if I already missed the closest approach? I used to be real interested in astronomy, but like so many things, the fascination slowly faded away.

Carmine is today's Dalmatian of the Day

Watch of the Day