#5TF: Maintenance Woes

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 9 – August 19 – 25, 2017

You might say that this week’s theme was “home repairs” or rather “how many times can you call maintenance in one week??”. It all started with the strange circle that appeared on our bedroom ceiling (definitely evidence of a leak) and progressed to our fire alarm going off for (what seemed like) no reason at all. Turns out the two were related. When maintenance replaced the HVAC unit upstairs earlier in the week, the drain line wasn’t properly installed and it began leaking into our ceiling and consequently, into the smoke alarm. It’s always fun to twist off a screaming smoke detector only to get a face full of water!

To add insult in injury, we opened our water bill for the month only to find that it was nearly triple what it usually is. We pay a set rate for water, sewer, trash and pest control each month – usually $33.68 for up to 1,800 gallons of water. This bill was $82.23. The kicker of this part of the story is that we were making a conscious effort to be more conservative with water this month! We used the dishwasher only 6 times and washed only 9 loads of laundry in a month, and that doesn’t even include our shortened shower times, so we knew there was no way we’d used 8,800 gallons of water. Prior to our conservation effort, we only ever went over the 1,800 gallon mark once and that was when we had guests.

One thing I really enjoyed this week was planning a weekend getaway with my mom and Angie. Next month we are all going to the Tiny House Festival in Chattanooga, TN. It was fun to sit around together talking about what we wanted to see and do and where we wanted to stay. We haven’t been on a trip together since May when we went camping in Kentucky so we are all looking forward to the getaway. And who knows, we may find that tiny “dream house” (on wheels!) that we’ve talked about for years now.

I am grateful for the farmers who provided our great CSA baskets this season. We picked up our last Wednesday basket earlier this week and we’ll pick up our last Saturday basket tomorrow. We’ve gotten some really great fruits and veggies, in addition to getting to know some great folks at the Farmer’s Market. We’re very grateful to have a freezer stuffed full of goodies for the winter – corn, yellow squash, zucchini, okra, blueberries, blackberries, carrots, peppers of all sizes, tomatoes, and even a few bags of cauliflower rice.

I need to let go of checking on my niece and the baby every five minutes. Okay, so maybe it’s more like every few hours, but still, it is something I need to stop doing. They are still homeless, couchsurfing at the moment from friend to friend, and my niece has made it pretty clear that they do not want our help. I would admire the “can do” attitude if it were actually there but at this point it’s more about her just not wanting to get a job or live by the rules of our home than it is about her actually wanting to make it on her own. So, I need to let that go of that and focus on things I can change for a while.

We made progress on side hustles and trying new things this week. We surpassed our October vacation savings goal by $10 but have decided to keep working a few easy side hustles to save for other trips down the road. In fact, Angie is off right now doing an Easy Shift. As for trying new things, we downloaded a yoga app to Roku and gave that a shot on Monday. Though this particular video wasn’t for me, I agreed to try another one tomorrow. Angie has been using the app regularly all week (but then again, she does enjoy exercise more than I do…probably more than most people do).

The funniest thing that happened this week involved yet another repair job. We were on our way to mow Mom’s yard yesterday when we passed by a new shop that repairs mowers. I offhandedly joked that since we sold the Xterra and couldn’t tow a trailer anymore, it would probably be easier to just ride the mower up to this shop if we needed to have it repaired. For the rest of the drive to Mom’s house, we laughed and joked about how we’d wear costumes and wave at passersby as we made our way through town on the mower. Angie even suggested we toss out candy or hand out bottles of water. When we got to Mom’s, I hopped on the mower and what do know…the cable that engages the blades broke when I moved the lever! So I guess sometime tomorrow you should look for two superheroes riding a Murray lawnmower through the streets of Gallatin, TN.

On another note, a friend of ours was inspired by my post on redesigning our dining room and decided to do something different with hers this week. Our friend has two sons (ages 11 and 14). The boys have been complaining about sharing a room so my friend decided to convert her dining room into a bedroom for her youngest son, who happens to be a Yankees fan as you’ll see. Since they live in an apartment and can’t put up an actual wall, she purchased two utility shelves to separate the space from the living room and backed those with curtains. She says the shelves will serve as storage for her husbands work and play gear. I don’t have a “before” photo but picture a typical dining room with a large farmhouse table. I think it turned out rather well!

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Five Thought Friday (Week 9)

#1) After going back and forth about it, Angie and I decided to join a local CSA (community supported agriculture) program. We opted for the small share, which is about a 1/2 bushel of fresh produce per week for 16 weeks beginning in May. The farm is located in the county where we live and run by 2 brothers in their early 20s. This is their first year to offer a CSA and while they are not Certified Organic, they do practice sustainable natural farming methods. Our biggest hold up wasn’t the price (which is a reasonable $350 for the season) but the fact that we might end up with too much food, since we are also growing a small garden. I refuse to waste food. To that end, we’ve decided that during CSA season, we will plan our meals around what we receive (or harvest) for the week and freeze or can any extras for this coming winter.

Chase Pear Tree#2) Speaking of the garden, we seem to have inspired a few others in the neighborhood. My mom’s next door neighbor, Chase, dug what looks to be a 10′ x 15′ garden plot and his neighbor on the other side plowed up his entire back yard. This is Chase’s first garden. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, we can begin planing the 2nd weekend in April to avoid freezing. We have tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and peppers ready to go. I’m not sure what Chase will plant but I can’t wait to see what becomes of our “community gardening” projects. Chase also has a pear tree that bears the most delicious pears (that I hope he will share again this year.)

#3) Toward our decluttering for cash effort, I listed 9 items on Ebay this week. Most of the items were jewelry, which is pretty easy to ship. It’s only been 2 days but so far so good – half of them have bids already. Angie has almost finished wiping the hard drive on the Tank (her old laptop) so that we can get rid of it too. We still haven’t decided whether to donate it to a computer reuse program or sell it for the few bucks that it’s worth.

#4) About that cash…the Xterra is finally fixed! The great folks at Cooper’s and Helping Hands Automotive in Gallatin really went the extra mile to fix what turned out to be more than just a bad relay. They rewired the entire back half of the Xterra, including reinstalling our 4-way wiring harness (for towing) that another (less reputable chain store) mechanic had ripped out and left in the spare tire area. AND…they fixed an annoying noise that had been bothering us for years! PLUS…they reclamped our air conditioner hoses where a small leak was causing the Xterra to overheat when the air was on. Since they kept the car for 2 full days, I expected our bill to be outrageous. I was half prepared to cry. The total cost was $290.03. That’s still a lot of money but not nearly what it could have been so we were pretty happy.

20150718_190538#5) We got our bicycles out this week, cleaned them up, and put rear racks on them. The racks were “free” using a $25 Amazon gift card that I received for completing a survey from my insurance company (on fitness of all things). With the bikes up and running, the search has begun for milk crates to mount on those shiny new rear racks to carry picnics, library books, and fresh produce. But free milk crates are hard to come by! My thought is that we can bike the short 2.5 miles from our apartment to our CSA pick up location each week this summer – get some extra exercise to go along with our healthy eating plan.