Category Archives: house

Getting your mind into the gutter

When you own a house there’s always something that needs attention. If you’re lucky, you can alternate the fun projects such as a new bathroom or a rehabbed deck with the necessary, but unsexy projects like replacing the roof or windows, and achieve some sense of satisfaction with the expense of homeownership. If your house is as old as mine (110 years), I wish you good luck with that.

My investment this summer was of the latter sort – adding gutters to the east side of my house in the hopes of preventing water from coming into my basement. I know that it is irresponsible to hire the first contractor you meet, but I wish it wasn’t. It’s just such a headache having to contact companies and schedule appointments and go through the same process multiple times. Sadly, this is probably my number one reason for delaying projects.

The process for this recent job was pretty typical, I suppose. I started by searching “gutters” on All Over Albany in the hopes that someone else had broached this topic in recent years. Sure enough, there was a thread from a couple of years with a strong winner when it came to customer satisfaction. I emailed the contractor and waited for a response…and….nothing. A week or so later, I emailed a second time and followed up with a phone call and message and still…nothing. I moved on.

I contacted two other potential installers – Huff n Puff and Ipek. I’ve never used Huff n Puff, but they were quick with a response and we set up a meeting. Ipek, who did my roof a number of years ago, took a bit longer to return my call and when they did, I was in the middle of a run and asked them to phone back later, which they didn’t. Huff n Puff was looking better and better.

The salesman came when promised and provided me with pricing which, as he explained, would be out of line with other companies due to their product being superior. He left and I planned to follow-up again with Ipek. But, wait! I received a phone call within a day or so from the salesman and learned that at their weekly business meeting, my project was discussed and they came up with a new option making their price about 25% less than previously quoted. Done, deposit paid and scheduled. Great.

Until, of course, the installers came and determined that they couldn’t hang the gutters because of some sort of issue with the fascia of my house, at least not for the agreed upon price. Back to square one. As tired of the process as if I had installed the damn gutters myself, I called Ipek again. This time we connected and one of the same people who had worked on my roof, came out and gave me an estimate lower than either estimate I had received from Huff n Puff. A few days later my gutters were installed and, ironically,  we’ve been pretty much rainless since.

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Filed under house, Local, Recommendations, Summer, Uncategorized

If I had two more hours in a day…

My house would be cleaner. Right now a twice weekly vacuuming, paired with a weekly bathroom cleaning and a more sporadic schedule of dusting, is the best I can do.

I would bake my own bread – sans high fructose corn syrup and other bogus ingredients.

The thank you cards and other correspondence I would like to, and intend to, write would make it out of my head and onto paper.

I’d get to more yoga classes.

I might consider getting to the Co-op more often, especially for granola and spices.

Hell, I’d make my own granola!

I would foam roll and lift weights more frequently.

I imagine I’d be further along in Breaking Bad than I am presently.

There would be time for more conversations with the people I love.

I’d probably fill those hours up with events, tasks, chores and activities. It seems to be what I do.

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Filed under Exercise, house, ideas, musings, Random, Recipes, Uncategorized

I need (to have) a dog

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different dog, same boy.

Two years ago, we let our 12 year-old lab, Cassidy, go. She made it clear that day when she laid down on the cold, snowy sidewalk and refused to get up, that it was time and she was ready. To this day, I so appreciate that she clearly communicated her need to be done to me. Just like the decision of when to have a baby, the right time to say goodbye to her probably would never have arrived for me. I still miss her and sometimes find myself calling our “new” lab by her name despite the fact that she was a she, and black, and Jeter is all boy and nearly white.

Jeter will be two next week. We celebrate his birthday on Christmas Day although we’re not 100% certain if he was actually born on the 24th or the 25th. His mom delivered 16 puppies and having a litter of that size was a bit chaotic and exhausting for all involved. Regardless of which day he was born, he was a true gift to our family and we love him dearly.IMG_6615

Those couple of months between losing Cassidy and bringing Jeter home, were uncomfortably quiet around here. On the days, and especially the nights, when the boys were at their dad’s house, my house echoed with their absence. I didn’t like it and can’t imagine the day when my house will feel like home without the presence of my children and a dog. Since the plan is for my boys to eventually move on and out, it looks like I’ll always need to have a dog. I hope I get to keep the one I have now for a good long time.

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Filed under aging, Boys, DelSo, family, favorites, house, love, musings, Uncategorized

Worst mother, best neighbors

Now I need to get some new pillows!

Now I need to get some new pillows!

Last Monday, my oldest son and I took a walk with Jeter around the neighborhood. We were about a mile away from our house when we came across some curbside treasure – a leather couch in remarkably good condition. Hmmm.

I should tell you about our history with couches. In the last 20 years there have been at least 6, 3 of which were bought on Craigslist. You see, we (and by “we” I mean the male Lillys, Jeter included) destroy couches and I refuse to spend more than a couple of hundred dollars on a replacement, particularly in light of the fact that I spend very little time actually sitting on one. So….

Liam and I gave the couch a quick once over and decided it was worth my walking home to get the car. I left he and the dog and returned with my wagon within 15 minutes. That’s when the real fun started.

The couch is a small sectional in two pieces. The small piece and the cushions easily fit into the back of my car, but the larger part? It was not happening. At this point, I was committed to getting the couch and came up with my best option – drop the smaller section at home and pick up my middle son. We were going to have to carry the couch.

I wish someone I knew had been able to witness the ridiculousness of us carrying that piece of furniture approximately a mile. The laughter (mine alone), the bitching (Griffin owned that part), the cursing (all of us)…it was a classic moment in mothering which, I hope, will one day be passed down to future generations of Lillys as an example of how crazy I was.

We made it, with uncountable pauses along the way, to about a block from our house when I caved to the complaints and called my always helpful and strong neighbor, Emily, to literally lend a hand. As we hauled the couch down the street, two more neighbors came to our assistance – big, strong guys who completely saved our asses, not to mention backs, by muscling the couch up the stairs and into my living room.

I look forward to sitting on it soon.

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Filed under Boys, DelSo, family, friends, house, Local, moms, Uncategorized

Lucky! In the right place at the right time walking on broken glass.

A couple of months ago when I was in NYC with the girls, I received a text message with a photo attached. While it was hot and humid in the city, Albany was getting pummeled by a storm complete with wind and intense rain. The picture perfectly captured the severity of the storm including the tree in my neighbor’s yard which, I’m convinced, will one day fall on my house.

My immediate response was panic – Oh, no! What can I do?! I quickly concluded: nothing. My next thought was “at least there isn’t anyone at home to get hurt and stuff is just stuff.” With that realization, I picked up my glass of rose and carried on with living.

This morning Jeter become possessed by a squirrel he spotted on the front porch. He ran from window to door to window before finally jumping up to slam himself against the door window, shattering it, of course, into a million pieces. Miraculously, unlike when I put my hand through a door’s glass window, Jeter came through completely unscathed.

I shooed him out and got to work cleaning up the larger shanks shards of glass by hand before busting out the vacuum to get the finer pieces. It took some time. During the day I got an estimate for the repair. I considered calling for help with the removal of the door (by the hinges) and lugging it down the steps to load into my car to bring to the glass shop. I didn’t. I figured out how to take the hinge pins out myself and carefully somehow got the door off and into my car.

Reflecting on the morning, I was appreciative that I had been home when Jeter finally went through the window. It was only a matter of time before it happened and it would have been awful if I hadn’t been there to clean up the glass.  He could have gotten hurt.  It could have been so much worse.

So many potential perils – wind and rain and broken glass and all I have is a splinter or two in my hands.  Lucky.

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Filed under DelSo, house, musings, NYC, Observations, Random, Uncategorized

The best intentions

While my focus these days is on looking forward, I want to take a moment to reflect upon my success in achieving some intentions I stated months ago when 10 weeks of summer loomed on the horizon. So, let’s see…how did I do?

Well, 4 of the items I didn’t even come close to. I don’t know where the time went, but I never got down to Nine-Pin, nor to a Soul Kitchen dinner. I do hope to feature Nine-Pin at Lark + Lily, though, and now that there’s been a schedule change and the boys are at my house Mondays, maybe we can all go to dinner together. Let’s call it a work in progress.

The Catskills day hike is still a possibility. I’m sure it will be lovely in the fall and I could probably redefine that slightly into a trail run with my iPhone, right? I didn’t have dinner at 15 Church, but I did have a lovely glass of wine paired with some tasty tuna tacos on their gorgeous patio. It’s a start. Another A for effort situation would be my attendance at the summer trail run series. I didn’t quite make it to half of them (5 of 14), but I did do a Monday evening group run, bringing me up nearly to my goal of 50%. I can live with that.

Paddle boarding, a small party on the deck and destination Hudson all were achieved. I’m working my way through The Sopranos and made it through season one of Girls, so I’m catching up with the rest of the universe culturally, I suppose. There was an excellent, albeit scorching hot, getaway with the girls to the city and I most definitely enjoyed this last summer of having all three of my children around. Success!

The backyard became my middle son’s opus and he did a remarkable job cutting down overgrown weeds and vines and filled bags and bags with the evidence of his labor. We now have a clean slate to work with – next summer. It s a similar situation inside my house in the spare room. I’ve eliminated some items and can now repurpose the room as a true guest room/office, but it really still lacks an identity or any style.

My biggest fail is the lack of effort on my part to help with a meal at the Ronald McDonald house. This is something I really want to participate in, but I just haven’t put any attention into it. Not to make excuses, but, my focus for the last 2 months was on an item which wasn’t even on my list – putting together a restaurant.  That’s getting closer every day.  I hope your intention is to come and enjoy a glass of wine and a bite to eat!

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Filed under Albany, Boys, house, Local, musings, Observations, running, Summer, Uncategorized

Giving Sling a shot

imageThis summer I did something I’d been threatening to do for at least a year – I turned in my DVR and bought a Roku. For those of you who may be considering doing the same thing, let me share what I’ve learned.

  • Handing in the DVR box was completely painless. I went to the Time-Warner “store” at Colonie Center and it couldn’t have been any easier. There was no hard sell, no “speak to my manager” nonsense, just a simple and stress free transaction.
  • Our next stop was Sears where, for approximately $50, we bought a Roku 1. Our television is probably 10 years old and the first generation Roku was what we needed, there are other options for new televisions.
  • Once we got home, I conceded to my teenaged son and allowed him to set the Roku up, a process which took less than 10 minutes from in the box to on the screen. Since I kept Time Warner as my internet provider, all we had to do was register the Roku and connect.
  • As the summer progressed we unanimously Agreed that we missed one thing about having cable – the clock on the DVR box. No, seriously, that was the big loss to our family room – the clock! Other than an occasional jones for HGTV or Cartoon Network, we did fine with our Amazon Prime and Netflix Streaming offerings.
  • My bill went from $140 a month (a combined amount for DVR cable box and internet) to just over $50 per month. Of course, Amazon Prime is about $100 annually and Netflix is, I believe, $7 or $8 a month, but we already were paying for these services in addition to Time Warner.
  • The U.S. Open has dominated my Labor Day weekends for a good number of years and I was kind of missing the chance to watch it on television. I did some super quick research and it turns out that Sling has a package of channels (including 3 ESPN choices, HGTV, Cartoon network and A & E) for $20 a month. That seemed worthwhile to me and I signed up for a 7-day free trial. I imagine we’ll continue the service.

How about you?  Are you still connected to cable?  How much are you paying a month for television programming?

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