Saturday Night Open Thread

It's freezing here, nothing but cold rain for days (and snow at higher elevations.) For a city that is renowned for 300 days of sunshine a year, something is askew. I don't ever remember it snowing after May 10 before. As someone who hates home maintenance, it's really a drag. The front part of the front lawn has sunk below the sidewalk and needs to be re-sodded and have a big water cover raised. The sprinkler heads need to be raised. Who does this stuff? How do you even know who to call?

The power generator and transformer that blew out the neighborhood the other day has left other problems. In addition to shorting out my coffeemaker, it blew out a huge light fixture that sits on a ceiling that's 20 feet high. As if I have a ladder that high (or would climb one even if I did) so now I have to find an electrician. Who has time for this stuff?

What are the alternatives? Move to the new Four Seasons downtown? A million dollars for 950 square feet sounds absurd, but at least you just pick up the phone and dial 0 when something goes wrong. Of course, since I don't have a million dollars laying around, I guess I don't have to seriously consider it.

How small of a place would you move to avoid maintenance responsibilities? Or, if you don't mind home maintenance, but crave space, how many miles from town would you be willing to move in order to have a few extra thousand square feet that you couldn't afford in the city? And why are so many things in life a trade-off?

Also, if someone handed you a check for three million dollars, where would you live? Would you stay where you are now? Buy A farm in the country? A brand new condo? Would you expend a year of your time with architects and designers creating the place of your dreams?

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    I think the thing I like the most about (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Anne on Sat May 15, 2010 at 10:42:01 PM EST
    where I live is the privacy.

    We live on just under 6 acres, about half clear and half wooded, so there's lots of space between our house and our neighbors.  We can come home and just be - no awkward moments of "okay, I'm on my deck and so is my neighbor and I really just want to read my book and not chat, so what do I do?"  No, "oh, jeez, the neighbors are fighting again," no, "cr@p - the neighbors saw me go get the paper in my robe!"

    Yes, there's the land to take care of, but that's not so hard, really.  My husband used to cut it all himself, and now we pay someone to do it once a week.

    Our house is pretty much the perfect size; when our kids were little, I used to think I wanted a bigger house, but everything comes full circle, and now it seems quite spacious!

    Moving somewhere where there would be less maintenance would mean giving up the peace and quiet and privacy of living in the country - I just don't know that I want to live on top of a bunch of other people; there's more isolation in making a conscious effort to avoid people than there is in living somewhere where people are few and far between.  

    It's a haven from the rat race, from the craziness of highways and the urban workplace - I sometimes think I can feel my blood pressure going down as I get off the highway and drive the last couple of miles home.

    To each his own, of course, but I just can't imagine living anywhere else.

    I agree (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by BarnBabe on Sat May 15, 2010 at 11:53:35 PM EST
    I have my 2 acres and a large house.Use to be my Grandfathers Dairy Barn, with beams. I lived in a townhouse in San Diego, grew up in a large house on the waterway in Ft. Lauderdale. Boy, does sound carry. I say go for the country. I can still be in NYC in 2.5 hours from PA. I have a 5 min commute to work. I love mowing my lawn on my Cub and breathing in the fresh air. And there are no rules. I had a condo once and got a notice that I was only allowed 5 plants on my balcony and no pet (one) over 20 lbs. Get the picture? I have 3 stray cats and a Golden. And as far as electricians and plumbers, for some reason, practically every guy around here knows how to fix things. I am NEVER at a loss for help whether it is the new water heater to building a deck to a new roof on the barn. And a lot of time there is even bartering. So everyone has to make their choices on their life styles. I might add that age has to do with it also. Party animals do slow down eventually. Heh.

    Amen and amen (none / 0) (#22)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 16, 2010 at 09:01:35 AM EST
    to both of you.  I'm also a city girl transplanted into the country.  The funny thing, as you say, is that it's far, far easier to find competent, reliable help for things like blown-out light fixtures or landscaping issues, a malfunctioning water heater, whatever it is.  "Out here," you're basically dealing with neighbors, not anonymous strangers, and word spreads fast about anybody who does bad work or is dishonest, and they're out of business in short order.

    In the city, I gradually built up a small list of really good workmen-- a fantastic plumber, a terrific electrician, a guy to clean the gutters on my mother's house, a window washer who knew his stuff and didn't make a mess, etc.-- but I got ripped off plenty before I found those people.

    I only have two acres of land here, but I'm surrounded on all four sides by about 1,000 acres of farmland and woods that's in the state Land Trust program, which means it can't ever be built on, not even an equipment shed, only farmed or left alone.

    The quiet is total bliss to me. No airplanes overhead, no honking horns, no screaming children, no barking dogs (except the coyotes at dusk), no police or ambulance sirens.  It's so quiet, I get irritated when the freezer motor comes on.

    If I had the mega-bucks, I'd stay right where I am, fix up some things, maybe get a better roof and a bigger woodstove, etc., and take a vacation once in a while to places I'd love to see.


    The other thing that helps, a lot, (none / 0) (#30)
    by Anne on Sun May 16, 2010 at 10:40:34 AM EST
    is that we're generally pretty handy people, so with the exception of things like major electrical and major plumbing, we've pretty much handled it all ourselves.  My brother used to be in the contracting business, one daughter's husband and father can build pretty much anything - and have - and other daughter's boyfriend used to build homes.

    Since we moved out here in 1983, there has been quite an explosion of building in the area, but within our particular world, the combination of zoning (can only subdivide property twice, and no lot can be less than 2 acres) and people donating land to the Land Trust, has meant a measure of protection from being surrounded by chock-a-block neighborhoods of townhomes and quad homes and what-not.

    I know a number of people who moved out to the country and built these 5,000 - 7,000 sq ft monuments-to-ego homes with every bell and whistle imaginable, but they hardly ever go outside; they have beautiful pools, but never use them because they use the pool at "the club."  They complain about the farm machinery that occasionally has to use the roads to get from one farm to another, about the bicyclists who ride the back roads because they're challenging, and about all the driving they have to do to make sure their kids have someone to play with (on the other hand, having to take your kids to other kids' homes to play means one has more control over where they are and who they're with).  When I have asked them, "well, what did you imagine country life would involve?" they are hard-pressed to come up with an answer that makes any sense.  

    I would expect city-living people to have the same reaction to what would no doubt be my complaints aobut city life: too noisy, too much light, no privacy, and so on; each venue has its advantages and disadvantages, but the country can't really be citified and the city can't be countrified - you just have to know where you're happiest and which venue's advantages trump its disadvantages.


    S. CA builders are concentrating on (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 11:26:42 AM EST
    building smaller homes now.  It seems people are less interested, or less able to afford, the mega-homes w/no yard but all the bells and whistles.

    Recreating suburbia (none / 0) (#50)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 16, 2010 at 07:53:49 PM EST
    is what these folks are doing.  I have little patience with them (particularly the complaints about farm machinery-- sheesh!).

    Happily, rural zoning here is minimum 10 acres lot size (the rare small properties like mine grandfathered in when the rule was made), and being in the Champlain Valley, the heavy clay and lack of municipal sewer pretty much prohibits housing of any density at all anyway.

    My town is so far out in the middle of nowhere, we don't generally attrack the folks who want to recreate their suburban lifestyle anyway, thank goodness, although we do have the occasional city people who buy "vacation homes" and then start yapping about getting a burglar alarm installed, which is pretty hilarious since we have neither crime nor police.


    I'm moving to an apt on an island (none / 0) (#21)
    by observed on Sun May 16, 2010 at 07:42:48 AM EST
    which has about 160 people (just off the main island where I live). It's narrow and 2 miles long.
    The quiet is the big draw for me.
    (and it's a nice apt).

    I had many years of country life (none / 0) (#40)
    by Cream City on Sun May 16, 2010 at 12:50:21 PM EST
    and would not do it again -- I fled to the city and love it, especially being able to walk to so much to do.  Even if it's a bit of a distance and we have to drive, it's not far.  I rarely drive at all now, after years in the country of the chauffeur's life; it may be that part of the burden of those years was because that was when my progeny were young.  Far from friends, having to bus to school, etc., all too isolated for them and for me.  When I moved, they learned the joys of urban life -- friends and school and libraries and so much more within walking distance.

    And they discovered more that they did not have in the country -- they had their first trick-or-treat on Halloween, they found out that pizza can be delivered.  They loved it, too.

    When we retire, if anything, we will be going even more urban -- friends have condos in a part of our city (if we stay here), rehabbed old warehouses with amazing views of the lake on one side and the river on the other; sitting out on a deck watching the river traffic go by is fun.  And they can go down the stairs from the deck to our city's riverwalk that goes for miles, but they need walk only a few blocks to be at the office or lectures or libraries or theater or concerts or movies or festivals or parks or shopping galore . . . or to the lovely lakefront.

    I like the occasional country getaway to a cottage, but then I need to get back to the city, you bet.


    I spend every workday in the (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Anne on Sun May 16, 2010 at 05:15:42 PM EST
    city, and at the end of the day, I am happy to leave it for the oasis that is my life in the country; I have never thrived on crowds or noise or non-stop light, and I think that's part of why we gravitated to country life in the first place, and why it has worked so well for us.

    Even our kids, who used to moan from time to time that they couldn't fall out the front door and have instant playmates, confide that this is the life they also aspire to - and both want "dibs" on the family home!

    Some of us feed off the energy that comes with city life, and some of us feed off the quiet and calm of country life - the best thing is to be where you want to be, and not chafing at being in one place when you want to be in another!


    You bet (none / 0) (#51)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 16, 2010 at 07:58:47 PM EST
    But I have to admit I would have gone stark raving mad out here as a teenager and young adult for all the reasons Cream sets out.

    But for my part, been there, done that, no longer care much.  Pizza delivery (ANY delivery!) would be nice once in a while, yeah, but I was happy to trade it for the ability to grow my own wonderful produce, drink raw milk and eat eggs still warm from under a hen.


    I am a city girl (none / 0) (#53)
    by CST on Sun May 16, 2010 at 11:01:31 PM EST
    through and through.  But VT is a pretty special place.  A lot of my dad's family lives up there and just a few years ago they finally named the streets - so they could get 911 service.  They just named them after the families that live on the roads.

    I can't imagine living anyplace but a city.  But at the same time, I try to leave the city at least once a month, and some of my favorite places are the parks/green spaces.  Boston is pretty good for the amount of quiet green space, the walkability, and the proximity to not-city.  That's one thing that always made me a little wary of living someplace like NYC.  Even the empty spaces are crowded, and it takes forever to get out.


    Me too re city. Grew up in a "city" of (none / 0) (#54)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 11:14:04 PM EST
    30,000, went a university of 30,000--much better.  Entire new worlds.

    As a nearly lifelong (none / 0) (#58)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:52:29 AM EST
    resident of the near Boston suburbs before I moved to the Promised Land (oh, excuse me, I mean Vermont...) I've long felt and said that if you have to live in a city or burbs, I doubt you can do much better than Boston, although the spectacular increase in traffic congestion makes it less livable than it was even 15 years ago.

    I needed the country for itself, but there's no question it's much, much more livable and attractive because of the unique characteristics and really amazing culture of this state.  I honestly have no clue why Vermont has become so totally different from other rural areas even in NE and I keep puzzling over it. I can't tell you how proud I am to be able to call myself a Vermonter.


    actually (none / 0) (#61)
    by CST on Tue May 18, 2010 at 10:53:57 AM EST
    I think the last 5 years or so (the post-big-dig years) have seen a huge improvement.  During the big dig, which was most of my life until recently things were a constant traffic nightmare, but things have settled now and it really is remarkable how much of a difference it has made to the downtown area, plus connecting the north end to the rest of the city.  And if you are driving north (to places like VT) even during rush hour getting out of the city is 1000x better than it was before the tunnel was built.  Of course driving south is still a disaster, but that has more to do with congestion south of the tunnel and really I just avoid that road entirely during rush hour.

    I know what you mean about Vermont but I can't quite put my finger on it either.  Maybe it's just the people I knew, but they were pretty much all highly educated, intelligent, self sufficient, hard working, but also very laid back, mostly small farmers.  With a remarkable acceptance of individual personalities and characters.  It just feels very free.


    BTW, we actually have here (none / 0) (#59)
    by gyrfalcon on Tue May 18, 2010 at 12:56:08 AM EST
    911 addresses and Post Office addresses that don't match.  It's beyond me why they don't fix one to match up with the other.  My "next-door" neighbors a half a mile down the road have a 911 street number but the PO street number on their mailbox, which are 300-and-something numbers different.  Nutso.

    That was my experience in the country (none / 0) (#60)
    by Cream City on Tue May 18, 2010 at 09:15:53 AM EST
    here, too -- and just beyond a major urban area.  But to this day, the urbanites cannot find their way in the countryside; I swear it is deliberate.

    We lived and paid taxes in one township, but our mailbox -- and thus our address -- was in another township, half a mile away up our private road.  And our phone number was in an exchange listed as for yet a different township.  It was hellish when calling an ambulance in emergencies.  And when we had tornadoes through our area, several times, emergency services that were to check on everyone missed us every time.

    And our school district was huge, with kids from bits and pieces of several different townships plus some from a small city nearby.

    It was schizophrenic.  Good places to live have identities.  And they want to be found!


    $3M isn't enough to really go wild (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by andgarden on Sat May 15, 2010 at 11:42:48 PM EST
    Add a zero and we're talking. ;-)

    Hmm. Even in midtown? I don't need (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 09:54:32 AM EST
    much space but thrive on natural light.  Plus am too "old" to revert to laundromat or laundry in basement.  

    Re: the $3 mil check? (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by scribe on Sun May 16, 2010 at 05:40:54 AM EST
    I'd buy a couple hundred acres wayyyy out in the rurals near where I'm living now, with or without a house on it.  If there wasn't one, that would allow me the chance to cross off one of the items on my list:  "build a house".  

    With the money left over I could get a pied a terre in a big city for the occasional weeks or so I might be inclined to go there, as opposed to staying in my private country quiet.  But while in the country, I could also indulge both my gardening jones and maybe do a little - emphasis on little - farming.

    As to the electrical problem, you need an electrician.  I'm handy (and have both construction and engineering experience and education), but I draw the line at messing with elecricity and plumbing.  There's a reason those folks are licensed.  Either your landlord has to take care of the problems (that is why you rent rather than own, right?), or you get to withhold rent until the landlord does.  

    As to the yard subsidence, that indicates there's a problem in the way the yard was built.  While soils and the way they react to excess moisture vary from place to place, that kind of reaction to rain indicates to me that when they built your building the builder used the yard area to hide construction debris such as tree stumps and the like.  Then they dumped on top of all that a foot or so of subsoil and a couple inches of topsoil,  and then a lawn.  Used to see it all the time a couple decades ago whewn I was working construction in Jersey.  You'd be amazed, the stuff buried in people's yards.

    As to the lawn sprinklers, same as with the electrical - it's the landlord's problem.  I'd suspect there's a connection between the lawn subsidence and the spinkler failure, BTW.

    Depends Where You Live (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Saul on Sun May 16, 2010 at 05:55:16 AM EST
    3 mil sounds like a lot but it depends where you live.  For 2 mil here in Texas I could build a 6000 sq ft home on 3 acres of land out in the country and have money left over from the 2 mil.

    You could hire a yard man to do you yards or do it your self for exercise.  But you could afford some nice high end equipment to do it with.  Like a riding lawnmowers, small tractor with bucket and front end loader etc.  

    Plumbing, electrical, and Heating/AC problems are generally isolated problems that happen ever so often.  Buying quality items when building your custom home will help reduce those maintenance items.

    Also I am a handy man and rarely call a plumber or electricians unless I know I can't fix it myself.  I also like to work on my own vehicles.
    In my lifetime I have saved thousands of dollars by being a handyman. Plus I learned a lot about all the disciplines in the building industry.

    It snowed in the first week of June in the late (none / 0) (#1)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sat May 15, 2010 at 10:20:44 PM EST
    90's.... We were driving to my daughters home and we had first snow, then rain as we went east on I70 and then a dust storm as we got into KS.

    A suite (none / 0) (#2)
    by Spamlet on Sat May 15, 2010 at 10:29:35 PM EST
    at the new Four Seasons downtown?

    On the way . . .


    $3 million to play with (none / 0) (#3)
    by MO Blue on Sat May 15, 2010 at 10:30:28 PM EST
    Would buy a nice roomy condo. It would have lots of windows and a 3 season room in the back. Since I could get what I want for not a lot of bucks here where I have have family, I would also get a small condo somewhere by the ocean where it is warm all year. It would have to be in a place where no off shore drilling is allowed.

    $3 mil.? I would definitely (none / 0) (#4)
    by oculus on Sat May 15, 2010 at 10:32:55 PM EST
    buy a condo w/i walking distance of Lincoln Center.  Maybe with that kind of money it would have more than 400 sq. ft., lots of light, en suite washer and dryer, and central air?  

    Our plan, if we were to win the lottery (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Cream City on Sun May 16, 2010 at 12:35:50 AM EST
    is to have a place to spend fall in NYC for the theater season (and so much more, such as the NY Public Library for me, but the spouse loves him his plays on Broadway, off Broadway, anything anywhere near Broadway, etc.).  Then Christmas or so through March, we would have a place in Mexico on our favorite isla amid warm breezes, sunshine, white sand beaches and crystal clear waters for the snorkeling spouse, while I would just revel in flowers in bloom . . . at a time when our homeland here in the heartland is the exact opposite, buried under snow in subfreezing cold.

    But when winter begins to ease, come April or so, back home we would go to the Midwest, in time for me to put in a garden and enjoy the beauty here -- and the fun here, with ethnic festivals every weekend and music festivals, too, through the summer.  Then, well, I would enjoy September to mid-October watching the incredible fall color here -- but for the spouse, back we would go to NYC.

    That's the plan if we win the lottery or the like.  If it happens, I'll let you know from a solid-gold keyboard on a bejeweled laptop. :-)


    Deal (none / 0) (#10)
    by squeaky on Sun May 16, 2010 at 12:44:41 AM EST
    I will sell you 400 SqFt for 2.5, and with the extra $500K you can have a private limo at your beck and call...

    A large percentage of my enjoyment of (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 12:30:55 PM EST
    Manhattan is its "walkability."  

    Well You Can Walk (none / 0) (#41)
    by squeaky on Sun May 16, 2010 at 01:06:29 PM EST
    And spend the extra $500K on fine dining, season tickets..etc.

    It would take about an hour to walk to Lincoln Center from mine. I can carve out a nice 400sqft section of my loft, sunlight, washer dryer... etc.

    I could really use the $2.5 mil right now..  


    How many sq. feet total? (none / 0) (#42)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 01:10:33 PM EST
    Might make an hr. each way walk more attractive.

    3000 (none / 0) (#43)
    by squeaky on Sun May 16, 2010 at 01:11:49 PM EST
    Wow. More than a lot of houses. (none / 0) (#45)
    by Cream City on Sun May 16, 2010 at 02:05:07 PM EST

    Yes (none / 0) (#46)
    by squeaky on Sun May 16, 2010 at 02:11:42 PM EST
    Sounds spacious...although, since it is full to the brim not much room to walk around in.  

    Lots of art, both my own and my collection...  


    Landlord (none / 0) (#8)
    by squeaky on Sun May 16, 2010 at 12:32:14 AM EST
    Doesn't the landlord have any responsibilities? Lawn, electrical etc....

    My current living space is 300 sq. ft. (none / 0) (#11)
    by caseyOR on Sun May 16, 2010 at 01:28:58 AM EST
    It has certainly helped me reduce my carbon footprint, but I would like a little more room.

    If I had $3 mil I'd buy a small house on the near eastside of my beloved city, one with a yard big enough to garden and plenty of sunshine.

    I'd still have a goodly amount of cash left to invest in a small place in a sunny clime so I could escape the famous winter rains here in the maritime NW. I've never been to Mexico, but Cream City's descriptions of her favorite isla (Isla Mujere? Is that right?) have put that locale high on my list.

    Thanks to the Arizona legislature my dream of a little place in Arizona where I could spend spring training watching my hapless but beloved Cubs is now off the table.

    300 sq ft is pretty small !! (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by ZtoA on Sun May 16, 2010 at 01:51:05 AM EST
    I live in the west hills so we are sort of neighbors (are you near Portland or Eugene or other?), and I love the rain (which is lucky in the fall, winter and spring.) Last year when it snowed over 2 feet, living in the hills was torture. Actually I broke a leg and had more problems.

    My experience is that once I get really comfortable everything changes (for ever or for just a bit) and I am reminded of the Temporary Nature of Things - a Buddhist concept. But the "if I had 3 mil" is not a Buddhist concept, and if I did I would probably stuff it into my mattress and then there would be a house fire. So much for conservative investment.


    I'm a Portlander (none / 0) (#13)
    by caseyOR on Sun May 16, 2010 at 02:00:30 AM EST
    I'm in NE Portland. We are sort of neighbors.

    Cool!! (none / 0) (#15)
    by ZtoA on Sun May 16, 2010 at 02:20:10 AM EST
    I'm in sw. We could 'do' coffee.

    Yes, we could. (none / 0) (#16)
    by caseyOR on Sun May 16, 2010 at 02:23:43 AM EST
    Portland is certainly a good place to do coffee.

    Local coffee shop here in town (none / 0) (#17)
    by Raskolnikov on Sun May 16, 2010 at 04:19:08 AM EST
    gets Stumptown coffee delivered weekly...absolutely delicious stuff, I'm planning a trip later this summer to the West Coast for wine and coffee...love that Willamette Valley Pinot Noir...

    Jeralyn (none / 0) (#14)
    by ZtoA on Sun May 16, 2010 at 02:05:55 AM EST
    You ask many questions in this post that are basically unanswerable. But you are not alone. Home maintenance is completely utterly (and any thesorian [is that a word?] extension) annoying and inconvenient. And, in my experience, it has a cumulative effect. Finding the electrician for small things is most annoying. So I let them go. And that is annoying too. Gads, life is annoying sometimes. I let having a stove top go for many months because I didn't want to be bothered, or to pay and then I was going to have some visitors who would not 'appreciate' deli food (like I do) and so had to finally have it fixed.

    Pretty funny (none / 0) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Sun May 16, 2010 at 05:28:48 AM EST
    My facebook is lit up with some angry as hell wives.  Apparently Fort Stewart GA busted one of us for violating its civilian dress code.  She was wearing her husbands burmuda shorts.  We are dependents and there is going to be some sh*t over this.  That was the old military when they thought they could tell the dependents what to think and feel and how to dress.

    "Dependents" pretty much sums it up. (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 10:04:29 AM EST
    Hmmmm, well that would depend (none / 0) (#36)
    by Militarytracy on Sun May 16, 2010 at 11:43:25 AM EST
    on which "dependents" you are trying to read what riot act to :)  Post commanders get to decide all sorts of policy.  The Fort Stewart dress code has a distinct "keeping women women and in their place" Southern flavor, but this particular commander is about to have a face off with some of my friends.  You know me, so imagine how they are handling this.  They will likely begin this challenge with an in his face flagrant group breaking of the dress code :)  Hell hath no fury!  Oh Yeah, and the dependent likely organizing this, she used to be a Marine before her marriage and having a child with a disability.  She understands why soldiers have a dress code but she also understands why the rest of the family isn't a soldier and part of the general population and why that is a must have for a healthy military.  This commander is in trouble much more so than any of my friends :)

    Let us know how this progresses. I was (none / 0) (#37)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 11:45:47 AM EST
    thinking of all those Navy vessels being put out to sea in the face of a hurricane warning.  Women and children: fend for yourselves.

    Jeralyn, if you rent (none / 0) (#23)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun May 16, 2010 at 09:14:34 AM EST
    call the landlord.  It's his/her responsibility to get these things fixed, and the landlord almost certainly knows good people to call.  Depending on your arrangement (and what the lease says), you may be asked to pay for all or part of the work, though.

    If you own, ask your neighbors, everybody you know for recommendations (and for workmen to stay away from).  If your town has a community e-list discussion group, join up and ask there.  I found the one where I used to live in the burbs totally invaluable for finding reliable workmen.

    If there's no list, join up with Angie's List on the Web.  There's a charge for joining ($50 or so I think), but it's totally worth it if you can hire good people who won't cheat you right off the bat.

    FYI, depending on your local codes, I'm not sure you need an electrician per se for that light fixture.  It's a pretty simple job.  You just turn off the circuit that goes to the fixture and then replace it and turn the circuit back on.

    Sounds to me like what you need is a really good all-around handy-man-- with the emphasis on "really good."  There are a lot of guys out there, especially now in the recession, who advertise themselves as handymen who really aren't all that competent.  So you'll definitely want a couple of strong recommendation before hiring one.

    Jeralyn sez: (none / 0) (#24)
    by jen on Sun May 16, 2010 at 09:28:49 AM EST
    For a city that is renowned for 300 days of sunshine a year, something is askew.

    I too live where the sun typically shines over 300 days a year and everyone here has been commenting on the difference this winter. Something is definitely askew. Most of us never complain about winter because we are blessed with so many beautiful, sunny, and relatively warm days. This winter has been more cloudy and little pissy storms moving through than most can remember. We moved here in 1970 and this winter definitely stands out as one of the longest we can remember. It snowed Monday and Tuesday -- like 8"! and is supposed to do it again this coming Tuesday. Weather manipulation? I'd say so.

    We usually have "June gloom" starting (none / 0) (#26)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 10:00:57 AM EST
    in May.  But this year it is sunny.  Strange.

    Woody Allen says "Free Roman." (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 10:13:21 AM EST

    And spend the money apprehending and prosecuting drug dealers and robbers.

    Who does this stuff? (none / 0) (#29)
    by SOS on Sun May 16, 2010 at 10:27:59 AM EST
    Traditionally it's been the husband, boyfriend, sons come in handy for this stuff also.  

    Otherwise open up the yellow pages and try the Home Maintenance and Repair section.

    Hardware store guy told me there are (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 11:28:01 AM EST
    people who specialize in cleaning out dryer hose/vent.  Who knew?  And there are!

    Local tourism bureau decides against (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 11:29:10 AM EST
    open letter to "Zonies."  link

    They will invade starting Memorial Day weekend no matter what!

    I suggest a large RV. (none / 0) (#34)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Sun May 16, 2010 at 11:32:21 AM EST
    I suggest a large RV.  Then when the ground sinks, or the waters rise, you can just move it.

    That was my dream, but my current wife, and my mother have nixed it so far.

    I have lived in a small to large RVs near Naval bases around this great country.  Usually on or close to the coast.

    My future hope for when I really, really retire [again] was to get one of those monsters that is close to the size or larger than a Greyhound bus, and has "slides" that come out and put it down in Pensacola or Tampa, but this oil slick business is putting a damper on that thought.

    Still on the other side of FL, maybe Jacksonville is a good place.

    RV, Jeralyn.  RV all the way!

    My brother lusts for a new Airstream-- (none / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 11:38:41 AM EST
    of his own interior design.

    A discerning brother. (none / 0) (#55)
    by Gerald USN Ret on Mon May 17, 2010 at 12:24:02 AM EST
    A discerning brother.

    The lean competent traveler!

    I have had good experiences with Air-streamers.

    Now though I am getting old enough to appreciate the fuller sized enjoyment of the "out-sided" even "super-sized" motor home that is capable of carrying all the trappings of a cornucopia of lifetime interests.

    Let us be even clearer.

    As my own sister sarcastically states:

    A "touring palace!"

    Hell you can't take it with you, but you sure can live in it!

    By the way, I have also lived in boats but there are downsides to that, that I am too aware of.  

    I work at and love the sea, but it is good to come "home" to the land to wait out the storms.


    Critique of Kagan's appearances (none / 0) (#38)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 12:19:39 PM EST
    b/4 SCOTUS as Solicitor General.  See Huff Post.  

    2 out of 3 ain't bad, especially if (none / 0) (#44)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 01:27:13 PM EST
    Martin Bernheimer is the critic, which he is of:  "Lulu," by Alban Berg, @ the Met; Thomas Quasthoff singing German lieder at Carnegie Hall; and Rossini's "Armida," at the Met.

    Financial Times

    Wondering, though, why no Bernheimer review of NY Phil./Gergiev/Stravinsky?

    Are you recommending (none / 0) (#48)
    by BackFromOhio on Sun May 16, 2010 at 03:46:46 PM EST

    Not really. Kind of a lame opera, (none / 0) (#52)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 09:34:45 PM EST
    expecially 2nd act.  Primo tenor splendid.  Maybe worth the price of the Met HD.

    kdog: Achtung! no (none / 0) (#47)
    by oculus on Sun May 16, 2010 at 02:46:14 PM EST
    smoking and/or alcohol in our fab jewel of a city park.

    Good luck... (none / 0) (#56)
    by kdog on Mon May 17, 2010 at 08:47:16 AM EST
    enforcing that one...if I'm ever in your lovely park, what's one more law to break? :)

    3 million... (none / 0) (#57)
    by kdog on Mon May 17, 2010 at 08:52:22 AM EST
    Thats easy...small home in or around Guadalajara and never work for nobody again...early retirement.  

    I kinda like doing home maintenance...the hardest part is getting started on a project, but once I start one I enjoy seeing it to completion...and the sense of accomplishment once complete is a great feeling.

    Just yesterday I put in a full day over at my sisters McMansion...helped her husband spread 30 cubic yards of mulch, opened the pool, and repaired two leaks in their sprinkler lines.  Crankin' tunes and drinking brews as we worked, it was fun and a great workout.