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Dear friends and readers,

I'm keeping a record, so:

10/1/12:

Not so modest improvements begun. Very nice man in jeans, lovely shirt, came and made estimate for removing hedge, making two modest flower beds (silver ferns, daffodils). Discussed land: swamp on one side, rocky down back so beds go on one good side. Don't want all sorts of drains and stuff. Discussed turning screened porch into room. Carlos asks what did I have in mind? well, walls, windows, floors that sort of thing. Heat and air-conditioning to come out of ducts. Suddenly Admiral making difficulties, all becoming very complex. No it's not. Window in present room stays. I like window, looked at it for over 30 years. Doors to porch stay. Maybe clean, replace glass, paint: fix up. Then like the rest of house a window in each outer wall, since one will be big, then have 2 windows.Brick walls, wooden floors like rest of house again. No door from porch to outside. Admiral looks dubious. I ignore. Carlos pleased. Will send estimate for room later today. I admit there is one statement in all W's years I actually liked. I did not hear him say it, but was told he said "I am the decider." What's the use of being duchess if I don't get to decide and get the thing done. Realize unspoilt nature of house will be lost. Ah well. Sobeit. Carlos says an Occupy demonstration nearby. Hurrah! I say. Bad for traffic. so nuff for today.

10/9/12:

House improvements resume, if not exactly apace. Signed contract with believable man. Will come, will really remove huge hedge with deep roots, put down gravel, plant grass, make flower beds. So back up to attic, ruthlessly emptying out shelves. Tell Admiral who agrees to stand at bottom of ladder and put stuff coming down in place. If any is his, and he wants it, he must be the one to re-shelve downstairs. Some Algebra books with Russian authors from Math Ph.D. spotted. Notice he pitches these too. Getting more ruthless with own stuff. Notice oddities in attic like vile pieces of cardboard stuck in places to keep out drafts and wonder if anyone ever lived up here. House 63 years old after all, & attic once held at its center in big frame a huge huge fan. Done for day.

10/10/12:

House improvements (re-organizations) slow down. Cats decidedly adverse to up and down ladder; do not like footsteps in attic either. Last 2 days also became convinced should not pitch everything. Need to select. So 5 valuable folders on Henrietta St John Knight (Lady Luxborough) stay (project several years on hold to write a short biography and make a tiny etext edition of her poetry). Some teaching materials. Point is not simply to throw away but discover what's there! So inroads slighter for a while.

10/11/12:

House improvements. Having decided yesterday what to pitch, what keep & put in attic, and what keep downstairs, I went great guns today for a full hour. Emptied half a top shelf, and most of a long bottom one downstairs, put up. Almost fell trying to save time. It's too much to ask not to heave-ho upstairs files down (& more ruined and/or obsolete books), so threw down ladder & into whatever bins there. Admiral does not like this: his law-abiding spirit against throwing so I proceeded alone. But then he wants to divide stuff into right colored bins so participated by beating me to the punch on the stuff that belongs in the blue bin. Did take one file downstairs. Cable company technician visits & reveals how horrible the people on the phone really are, what total shits, liars, thieves. Have to call gardening people too but will put off until tomorrow. Loathe this, beginning to become aware it was not the lack of money that stopped me all these years, or not altogether. Subside into reading now.  Tired.

Sylvia

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
misssylviadrake
Oct. 10th, 2012 05:27 pm (UTC)
Judy: I am enjoyng this saga. We moved house 6 years ago and did a huge emptying out and fixing up in the old house, but the new one has quietly started bulging and fraying now....

Me: I've not gotten to it today, maybe later. Yes when we first bought the house, I emptied out a huge amount of stuff left over from the landlady. Now I've got just as much stuff -- 29 years of what's no longer wanted (toys, children's books), what you feel you must save (student papers), what you think you can keep in an attic (Xmas stuff? luggage), what you mean to give to someone else (a beautiful crib), obsolete stuff too (computers?) Laura put her leftovers from her wedding up there, I 3 piles of my book (now diminished finally)
misssylviadrake
Oct. 10th, 2012 05:29 pm (UTC)
proliferating like rabbits
Fran: I've appreciated reading your blogs on your own valiant struggles to get rid of all the stuff that seems to accumulate over time and simultaneously cope with renovation work. Same problem here. We had the house built about 18 years ago and there are still unopened removal boxes festooning the cellars and attics, not to mention all the things that have joined them since, which seem to proliferate like rabbits. We should have been radical when we moved in the first place. It would have saved many a trip to the dumpster or charity shop.

Me: It's fighting back continual growth, but some of what is there comes from before the internet and in order to have an article you had to have it in paper. I am finding that it's not just self-indulgent print-outs of my own stuff - indeed that's much smaller than I thought so I must pick and choose. It's books that are still proliferating like rabbits - but I am so fond of them, maybe I should liken them rather to kittens. The thing is it's hard to find the time. I won't take weeks out but then the days seem so crowded -- even though I've retired. I'm doing things with Admiral I wasn't before, going to the gym twice a week, but I do love it -- most of the time. At the university picking up books today (I seem to have kept my library privileges) and saw the young adults, young people with their fresh faces and youthful bodies and thought a little that I missed them.



Edited at 2012-10-12 02:57 am (UTC)
misssylviadrake
Oct. 10th, 2012 09:35 pm (UTC)
Susan: I hate throwing stuff out, but when needs must, I take a deep breath, and throw stuff out. And always regret it.

Me: Well a little later on I had a throw-out directly from the attic. I do have lots of room in my attic but my idea is to make my attic newly orderly too.
misssylviadrake
Oct. 11th, 2012 12:01 am (UTC)
Regrets?
Diane K: "I threw a lot before we left Boston, still had a garage sale here, now am going through papers again. What I have learned is I never regret keeping anything, but I do regret ditching some things....now I would have no regrets about throwing some of my husband's stuff out."

Me: Although I own so many books, and I have bought doubles by mistake (I forget I have a book, our library is so large), I think I've never regretted buying any book. I did throw out a set of files today I regretted in a way: summer teaching where I did these literature courses in the later 1990s and early 2001-3 but I'll never use this again. No one wants it. It's all abolished everywhere. As to destruction and say 2nd marriage, my first husband destroyed some stories I wrote as a teenager. One called "Ellen's Story" -- a sequel to GWTW. I can't replace them as I couldn't write them again. One nearly won a prize across NYC. Probably I'd find it embarrassing.
misssylviadrake
Oct. 12th, 2012 02:46 am (UTC)
Struggles over cable company & TVs
Caroline: What happened with Cable?

Me: long unhappy story. No ESPN or other stuff on her TV 3 nights ago. I call the Cable people and get this utter bitch (such people are hired for this) and she claims we had these channels wrongly before (after at first insisting we had not had them). I agree to go up to next level after much promotion on her part which I tried to stop and couldn't manage. The TV had stopped working altogether by this time. I did not realize that there was a cause-effect here. I call the technician and he (apparently) pretends to be helping but he's not. He picks up I know nothing and the Admiral offends him -- probably I did too. So I say I want the little flat box back (DT?). Technician turns up today with another HD box; he kept showing me the work order. After a while I gathered one could not have the next level without the HD box. Except that in the front Dad and I have this new level of service w/o it. Probably he did not want to go back to office. So he pulls out and puts in plugs, but more important calls a technician with serial numbers. It seems the TV's connection had been severed altogether at some point -- probably while I was talking to that saleswoman. Or else the second level needed to be sent to new box and hadn't been done. I couldn't get a straight story from technician. After 10 minutes of talking and serial number exchange the TV works with HB box. Only now I've got to pay for bigger box as well as first level. I don't trust the people on the phone and if I demanded a small box I'd be back to first base. So the people on the phone were liars and did nothing or were incompetent or irritated and glad to give us a hard time. I made no bones about my inability to cope with the phone technician's instructions and the Admiral was very impatient with him but who the hell are they? for myself if I could have the cable for the Internet another way I'd have nothing. But Yvette likes TV; and it's company, companionship, interest ...

All this took over an hour the other night. I conclude: they are shits, liars and thieves. The young man who came today wasn't as bad simply because he was here and it was his job to make the TV work or I wouldn't sign.



Edited at 2012-10-12 02:51 am (UTC)
misssylviadrake
Oct. 12th, 2012 02:46 am (UTC)
Struggles over cable company & TVs
Caroline: Is her TV working now? should I come by and see what's up?

Me: It was an hour ago. You have to hit two buttons. One on one remote and one on the other. We are going out to the National Symphony at 5 but she will be here at 5:30. If you think you can help please do but she got more aggravated than we did. She was upset

Caroline: this is too complex--see your email. I will leave at 4pm and be over before you leave.
It sounds like this happened:

You upgraded her box but did not upgrade your service at the time. Remember how I was on her box looking for features that I was confused were not there? 99.8% of the time when people upgrade their box they upgrade their service. Upgrading the box but not the service that gives you these features is probably so uncommon the woman on the phone couldn't comprehend that this is in fact what you had done. She probably believes it's not technically legal to have the box without those upgrades--for all I know she may be right. I have to tell you that i had NEVER seen an HD box that didn't have those features in it--i had assumed they came as part of the box's interior technology.

Once she upgraded your service to match the box in Izzy's room, then you get an HD box for all your TVs. Most likely she thought herself doing you a favor. Shew probably assumed this had to be what you wanted because it was the better service.

I understand you are upset but you are not recognizing that what you were trying to have the cable company do is not normal. When you are dealing with people on the phone who make minimum wage, not normal doesn't compute. They're not paid to make not normal happen. They are paid to make normal happen.

Does that make sense?

Me: I'd say this is what happened up to the time the phone technician came on. He was supposed to make the upgrade or "higher rating" or whatever it was called. He pretended to. Then when it didn't work, I asked to speak to the same young woman and asked her to put us back to basic and bring the tiny box (DT). She promised that she would put us back to basic service and send the tiny box.

Then three days later this young man shows up with a work order for another HD box and it says we have level one.

So the technician on the other end of the line lied and pretended to help us and did no such thing. I assume when he realized I had no idea what he was talking about and then when the Admiral got on the phone he became offended. So Izzy upset I decide, fuck all this stuff, put us back the way we were, but the young woman does not do that because she wants the sale.

I wasn't trying to do anything. I was asking why we did not get the channels we had originally been getting. All I got from her was first lies, that we hadn't had them, and then a confused explanation interrupted by promotional talk: didn't I want 5 ESPNs? no. Didn't my daughter want HBO? no.

Really two different worlds clashing with her wanting to extract money from me for the next level and the man angry at the Admiral's tense behavior.

I do hope it works now. The Admiral has been very very uncooperative _with me_.

Really what I was up against was the dysfunctionality of US life. Sometimes I think impersonal social life has vanished and all we are left with is trying to wrest things from one another. No good impulses can come to the fore.

Edited at 2012-10-12 02:56 am (UTC)
misssylviadrake
Oct. 12th, 2012 02:48 am (UTC)
Diane: Spent a similar day, getting stuff out of boxes into files, bookshelves, and trash. But there are still 11 boxes of Paul's, filled with programs and recuerdos from the Folger, an old watch, 46 cassette tapes, 3 bins of records....He comes home tonight, and I will shanghai him in the basement.

Me: I'm doing only an hour a day and not every day -- there is so much, but today I made good inroads. No precious objects (the old watch?) today. When I come to the toys I may be hard put to part with the little horse Izzy used to ride around on in the house and perhaps one or two toys & cassettes (plays Laura was in recorded there) more. But soon my cassette player will die so what use will they be?
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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