First off, Happy St. Patrick's Day to all! Now that we're back in the U.S., I have to work today, but it's an official holiday in Ireland. We get about the same number of holidays in the U.S. as the Irish do, but they are spread out differently. In the U.S., we really load up the back end of the year, with half of our holidays taking place between the end of November and January 1st. I don't particularly like that. It means that there is a spread of almost five months between New Year's Day and Memorial Day without any built in holidays. I'd much rather have a day around March to break things up a bit. There are plenty of options (Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Valentines Day, President's Day, Saint Patrick's Day and Easter) but I guess none of them are important enough to warrant an official day off. Having said that, we are taking off this Friday, next Monday and next Tuesday to go visit family over Easter.
The last week at the house has been full of ups and downs (literally). On Wednesdays Ms. Huis has the car to go about her miscellaneous errands and activities (we're still a one car family). She picks me up after work and then we go home. Well, last Wednesday, as we were driving along on the highway, someone pulled up to us and motioned that we had a flat tire on the rear driver's side. By the time Ms. Huis got pulled off and into a gas station parking lot, the tire was 100% flat. We drove the car too far and destroyed the tire. So I put on the spare and on our way home, we stopped at a tire place and picked out a new tire. That evening, I went back, they put the new one on, put the spare back and like that all was well.
Until the next morning.
I no sooner got out of the driveway and was pointed towards the road when I noticed the car pulled really hard towards the passenger side. The inside of the car heard a lot of cuss words as I was sure that the tire shop had screwed up the alignment on the wheels. I didnt' get too far down the road though when somebody signaled to me that the front passenger's wheel was flat. Taking heed from our last tire, I pulled off right away. That tire was flat, so for the second time in a little more than twelve hours, I changed another tire. I took that one into the same tire shop and that one they were able to repair. We were lucky that we were so attentive with the first tire, otherwise we would have been in a bit of a bind with two flat tires. All four tires (and the spare) have been holding up nicely since Thursday.
The spring melt has finally arrived and portions of the yard are starting to peek through. I'm getting anxious to get out and do stuff outside. Yesterday Ms. Huis and I went out and measured the property and the buildings so that we could draw up plans for the landscaping. The lawn is much larger than it appears because so much of it is overgrown with buckthorn and some other hedge plant that I'm still trying to identify. Once we get those pulled out and cut back, we'll have a lot more room.
Last January we had a tinsmith come out and look at the gutters. The gutters involve a whole post dedicated to themselves, but the short and dirty of it is that we're looking to either repair or replace the gutters because they leak, and are rusted through in spots. I had waited patiently for the quote up until the last few weeks, and then I started trying to apply some pressure to this guy for a quote. I finally had to talk to the carpenter who recommended him in the first place and that got the tinsmith to shake the quote free. I almost fell off my chair when I saw it.
We made it fairly clear (I thought) that we weren't interested in copper. Our house is very much atypical in the neighborhood we live in. Putting a lot of money into the house is an investment we'll never see returned as the values of the surrounding houses are lower than ours. We committed the terrible real estate sin of buying the most expensive house in the neighborhood. This means that while I'd love to put on a slate roof and copper rain gutters, 1) we can't afford it and 2) even if we could, we'd never get our money out of the investment when the day came for us to sell. If our house was in a neighborhood of $300,000+ homes, it might make sense for copper.
So the tinsmith quoted us for copper gutters. And a copper roof over the front entry. And a copper roof over the back entry. That's right, the back entry. The one that no one sees. The one that is currently an airing porch that people walk on.
The quote came in at $26,000.
Yeah right buddy. Good luck with that.
He did mention that there as an option to use stainless steel for 20% less (that's ONLY $21,000 for those of you who don't have a calculator handy). Now just as an FYI, even though the bids on the main roof aren't finalized yet, the cost for the gutters look to be significantly more than the cost of replacing the roof, including removal and disposal of the existing asbestos shingles. Paying more for gutters than for the entire main roof sticks in my throat a bit.
So Tuesday and Wednesday we have meetings with two other tinsmiths/sheet metal fabricators. We'll see how that turns out.