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Other People's Property

I've often imagined I'd hate being a landlord or owning a vacation home. I know myself well.

I'm in the middle of insulating my parents' attic. It's not like a spacious TV attic full of cherry antiques, it's a big, dark, low, dusty area made of trusses, each with a big wooden W in the middle. Wires run the length of the house. The yoga classes, where we build strength through striking odd poses, have paid off for this project. So has my sinus infection from a few years back. While I was lying in bed last night coughing up a lung from the dust I inhaled while putting down insulation, I remembered someone telling me that congestion is worse at night because the mucus settles in your throat when you lie down. With that in mind, I propped myself up on pillows and returned to normal.

Last Saturday, I ran errands while my nephew hauled the insulation up to the attic and fixed the fan and screens. He hasn't been back. A bunch of contractors came to the house to write up estimates for a sprinkler system; my parents can't water the lawn anymore since they're both in wheelchairs. (Note to self: fix your house up now and get lots of enjoyment out of it. You'll have to do it someday anyway, and you don't have any children to do it for you.)

My parents and I selected a contractor (i.e., went with the low bidder). I offered to landscape part of the yard that's on a slope and would be hard to hook up to the system. I'm thinking Russian sage, yellow achillea, tansy, and low-growing sedum. I can put down a 3-sprinkler hose and ask a neighbor to water the area a few times a week this year; it shouldn't need watered after that except in a drought. The money my father got from selling some collectibles and other assets should more than cover the sprinkler; I can landscape the slope mostly with volunteers from my yard. Unfortunately, my sister, who sold the items, probably won't be back since our father bawled her out for selling something he wanted to keep and demanding she return it NOW, in a blizzard.

My mother discovered there was a lien on the car when she tried to get a replacement title for it. It turns out the lien is just a matter of paperwork--we can get the title and possibly sell it to one of my coworkers whose car, and husband's car, were both stolen. She got her car back, but his was totaled by the thief.

Readers may remember the three and a half hours my mother and I spent setting up a new account at the credit union. I think her old bank, where we haven't yet closed the accounts, knows something is up. Someone from there called the other day, sweetly asking how all of us were, and asking to talk to me. They can forget it. Their bank has charged my parents almost $150 in fees over the past six months, allowed someone to open a credit card in my father's name, and wasn't helpful in getting it resolved. Why do people put up with such high costs and poor service? It's called switching costs: it takes some combination of time, money and effort make certain kinds of changes, like changing software (learning a new system and exporting your data), going to the metric system, speaking Esperanto, or changing banks. Mom and I have already paid most of the switching costs; it's just a matter of closing the old account once we're sure the deposits will all go in the new account.

In addition to this, it's busy season where I work. I hope to have all this work done around the same time at the end of April (I'm in audit, not tax). And then I'd like to go to somebody else's home for a vacation.


tess said…
hang in there, Lori! you can do it! (then make sure you treat yourself)
Lori Miller said…
I'm not kidding about going to someone else's home for a vacation.
Galina L. said…
Hold on Tess! We keep postponing dealing with attic insulation out of fear of dust. I think a respirator musk should be a must. Sometimes revolting reaction on paying others for the job you can theoretically do yourself is wrong, but we continue that road. Recently my husband was down for whole weekend with sinus congestion after a garden work first in season, we did it together, at least I was ok. There is too much pollen around. Next time he promised to use the mask.
Lori - I definitely think a vacation or special treat for you is going to be well deserved and needed.

Hope all goes well

All the best Jan
Lori Miller said…
I had a mask, but it fogged up my glasses. I have to wear long sleeves and gloves, too.

I considered blown-in insultation, but you have to put guards on all the soffit vents and around anything that gets hot.
Lori Miller said…
Thanks, Jan. All that dust made me think of our ancestors who survived the Mount Toba eruption. My dust can't be nearly as bad as theirs.

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