Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

Welcome to my World---Woman, widow. senior citizen seeking to live out my days with a sense of whimsy as I search for inner peace and friendships. Jeez, that sounds like a profile on a dating app and I have zero interest in them, having lost my soul mate of 42 years. Life was good until it wasn't when my husband had a massive stroke and I spent the next 12 1/2 years as his caregiver. This blog has documented the pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties and finally, moving past it all. And now I’m ready for a new start, in a new location---a continuum care campus in West Michigan, U.S.A. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. Stick around, read a while. I'm sure we'll have things in common. Your comments are welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Decks and Daylilies



A few years back I planted what at the time was supposed to be the tallest, yellow daylilies on the market. This is what a guy at Daylilies of North Carolina says about the variety: “Here we have a true giant in the daylily world. A flower that begs you to stand next to and have your picture taken with it. And you do not have to squat, or stand in a hole, or use a funny camera angle to show the height of this daylily. Modesty dictates that I register this beauty at 68" but I have measured scapes at 74". What's half a foot when we are talking about ‘reaching new heights?’ I would rather tell you that it has wonderful fragrance, and 7 ½" blooms, and fabulous mounds of foliage.... and it sets pods!” 

On my kitchen counter is a bouquet of 25-30 stems of my daylilies. Normally, I wouldn’t cut them and bring them in the house, but I have a guy here prepping my deck for staining it and putting new lattice around the bottom and the lilies will get trampled. I had no choice, but to bring them in if I wanted to stretch their beauty out a few more days. In the meantime they’re filling up the house with sickeningly sweet fragrance. If someone I know were here he'd say, “Something smells like a well perfumed whore on a Saturday night” and I suspect before all the blooms are gone the bouquet will end up in the garage if it keeps reminding me of ladies of the night.

I don’t know about this guy doing my deck work. He didn’t come about because I thoroughly vetted him or he came highly recommended or has done deck work for me in the past. I happened to ask my lawn care guy if he knew anyone who stains decks and replaces lattice skirting and he said, “I do. I do it all.” So I told him to write up an estimate and the next thing I know I came home to find a power washer sitting in my back yard. Since he was the first person I asked about the deck, I knew it was his. I called him up and left a message that he needed to get something down in a contract because we hadn’t agreed on a price or the product or method of applying it. Yadda, yadda, yadda. 

He called me back and long story short, he’d already bought the stain and the plastic lattice and he claimed I told him I wanted the lattice painted gray to match the decking and he was just getting ready to start doing it in his garage. I was shocked. “Painting it gray wouldn’t have occurred to me in a 100 years!” I said. “It’s always been white. It comes white. White lattice matches the trim on the house.” And I was racking my brain to try to remember what I could have possibility said to make him think he had the job in the bag before he’d even given me an estimate of the cost involved. The word 'dementia' occurred to me during this exchange and I wasn't sure if that label should be smacked on his forehead or mine. Either way I clearly lost control of the deck job I'd planned on getting a couple of estimates on. And that makes me feel old and unsure of what's really going on.

I bluntly told him, “I did not agree to this job and won’t until you put it in writing so we both know we’re on the same page.” The contract he gave me had exactly twenty words in it. I’d proof read enough of my husband’s contracts and I’ve seen enough Judge Judy shows to know what should be in a contract and this guy didn't even include the name of the person---his live-in girlfriend---who he always has me write the checks to when lawn care payments are due. Without a canceled check made out to him, I’d have no way to prove I paid for the extensive deck work should things go bad and we ended up in court. I've never sued anyone in my life but there's a first time for everything.

One of his helpers told me he does the check thing because he owes his x-wife a bunch of back child support and she comes after any money that goes in his bank account. He’s a likeable guy but as the summer has gone by he’s gotten increasing too eager to spend my money. He wanted to power wash my house one time. “No, thanks.” "Are you, sure? It needs it." No it doesn't. “Your shrubs need trimming. I’ve got my trimmer in the truck.” “Wrong season to do it in.” But I wanted to say, “I’m the home owner, I DECIDE when I schedule what.” Ohmygod, I miss my nephew! He took such good care of my yard and even though he charged more than Avoiding-Child-Support Guy, my nephew was worth every penny…and he paid taxes on his income like all good little foot soldiers in this world do and he knew how to write a contract. But I can’t fire this guy because there's a shortage of lawn care services in town and I was lucky to get him last spring after calling nearly a dozen who weren't taking on anymore customers.

I’m not looking forward to next week when the deck gets its makeover. He’s bringing his live-in girlfriend with him to help stain the 191 spindles and her son to do the lattice work. I’ve got a huge deck that wraps two sides of the house and deck staining alone---without the lattice work---has always been a huge, three day production and I’m crossing my fingers Avoiding-Child-Support-Guy knows what he’s doing. I will be watching like a hawk. I've told him before signing the stupid contract that "neatness counts" and he just laughed which made me feel like a controlling old lady. I did get him to cross off his name and write his girlfriend's name where it said, "payable to...." She's got to be ten ways to dimwitted to allow herself to be used that way.

On the good side, this week I did learn something about daylilies, having them in the house. The flowers really do only last a day---sun up to sun down even under artificial lights---and when they die they are so wet they 'cry tears' like babies needing their mamas. They don't drink a lot of water like gladiolas and other large flowers do. Where does all the water they drip come from?  ©


32 comments:

  1. I've got my fingers crossed for your deck project too. Let us know how it turns out.

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    1. Oh, I will surely write about it. I've never had good luck finding deck people. I've decided its because it's such an easy occupation to get into with very little investment. Even the ones who've been around awhile all hire college kids and they come with too much noise and attitude for my tastes.

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  2. Securing hired help for those kinds of jobs is a challenge. I want to prepare a fire pit area and reclad a garden shed. Once I get the area leveled with a skid steer (thanks to my neighbor) I may tackle the job myself with the help of a cousin. I call on friends and family occasionally, saying I need a man. And mot just any man; he needs to be handy! I've not seen lilies as tall as those in the photo. The deer really enjoy the lilies planted in the yard. I concur re: the smell. It's not one that I enjoy in the house.

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    1. Good luck with your project. All of my friends are too old to help and my family is too far away and too busy with little ones.

      Fortunately...or unfortunately...depending on how you feel about seeing wildlife, we don't have to worry about deer resistant plant where I live. These lilies are great about a raised deck. Mine need thinning though.

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  3. You KNOW what you said or didn't say. Guy just needs the work/money. And you have to wonder how many other reliable workers would give you an estimate? Decks are like having another room! We had over 1,200 sq feet of cedar deck ... we power washed and stained every year. Taking turns every other year with a professional. Still looks like new!

    We used engineered wood for decks in Maui ... thinking WOW, no more staining just a power wash. WRONG! The sun faded it after about 5 years so realtor found a guy to prime and PAINT it. Looks fabulous! And I don't have to care how long it stays looking that good!

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    1. Getting reliable deck stainers has been a skill I never acquired and after this job is finish, I won't have to do it again. I've managed to find good people for everything else until this year.

      I really think this guy is getting a touch of dementia, rather than me. He also claimed I wanted the lattice on my picket fence replaced and I was planing to remove it entirely because Levi can't walk through it anymore. I know I never told him to replace it.

      I did not know that about engineered wood for decks!

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  4. Your story of the deck is familiar to me. Last summer I asked a friend for a recommendation of someone to fix our window trimmings. He sent a guy, who came with his wife. He scraped all the window trimmings in preparation for painting while his wife power washed and stripped our deck in preparation for restraining and power washing the siding. The only thing I asked him to do was the windows. The rest he volunteered that his wife would do while he was scraping the windows. They worked for 3 solid days and then never showed up again. They left me with scraped windows and stripped deck which I do need to find someone to seal and finish. When I say they never showed up again, that does mean that I never paid them anything.
    It is frustrating enough that I have no incentive to look for anyone else because I don’t want to get burned twice. Having said that I did have a guy here a couple of weeks ago who did do some work on some of the windows so I will probably call him again to reseal the deck.
    Good luck
    Leze

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    1. Wow, that's sure leaving you worse off than you were before! I have paid half down with the rest due when the job is finished with is common in this area for any kind of work.

      Did you ever find out why they didn't come back? I sometimes think when people like that figure out that they underbid a job they cut their losses and run. One time I had my deck stained and figured out the guy was losing money so when the job was finished I gave him $200 more than his bid.

      Good luck finding someone. We are running out of summer, though!

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  5. Yikes, I hope you at least got him to do it in the color you want. That guy is way too pushy for me. Good luck and let us know what happens.

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    1. Yes, in our very first conversation he asked what color was on it and I told him the brand and color. I will know when I see the cans if he got it right.

      I'll tell you another example of his pushiness. When he was putting down bark, there was a plant/weed that I told him to pull out and he said it looked nice there and didn't pull it and at the time I thought he was confusing me with a wife, not a customer and I let it pass. Yesterday I dug it out because it reminded me of who is supposed to be in charge and it's not the paid worker!

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  6. Your Home smelling like a Brothel cracked me up, Lilies really are pungently sweet aren't they? The Hired Help Dude sounds shady, definitely have a paper trail lest something goes sketchy on the job. Don't wanna hafta see you hashing it out on Judge Judy! *Winks*

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    1. Half the people who go on her show must be looking for a free trip and stay in a hotel because they've got to know she will rake them over the coals with no chance of winning.

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  7. Do not let either of them inside your house! This isn't just pushy, it's manipulative. You CAN find another lawn person. Nobody should have to put up with that kind of behavior.

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    1. I won't. I'm not the kind to invite service people inside if they don't have something inside to fix.

      As for finding another lawn person, the season is 2/3 over and I'm STILL seeing desperate pleads for lawn cutting in our local Next Door app. A bunch of them went out of business last spring.

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  8. No I didn’t really find out why he didn’t come back but I sort of did! I had originally asked a neighbor up the road and the guy was working across the road from him at someone else’s house. Apparently they needed him to do something else. That’s what I was told.
    This is very casual work...no estimates (except verbal), not usually any payment in advance (unless they need supplies) and some of them are paid $35.00 an hour. A lot of these guys are doing this in their retirement, The professional contractors have 2 and 3 year waiting lists.
    Regards
    Leze

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  9. Good luck! What a mess, but you should be out of it soon.

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  10. I hope all goes well for you Jean. But this guy sounds like a grade A number 1 asshole.

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    1. He's not young. I think it's a brain thing rather than a butt thing going on...well, except for the child support thing. That's a butt thing.

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  11. I was a handy man for a few years. I enjoyed most of it. I had more work than I could do. I was passed around by word of mouth. I spent many days inside people's houses while they was gone and was trusted. But things can get a little tricky at time, e.g., one time a woman whom I had often worked for left me inside her house to continue on a job. I walked down the stairs to go outside and noticed a pair of panties on the floor. I felt I was in a situation. I wondered if she would think I was snooping around and dropped them, or if she would assume she had dropped them. I couldn't move them to protect myself because she might of left them there to test me. I was pretty worried. But when she came home I told her about them and explained that I hadn't been in her things. She explained that she must have dropped them when she carried a load of laundry downstairs. I was so worried my credibility would damaged but everything turned out okay.

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    1. I'm glad it turned out okay, but I can see why it caused you grief. I drop things from carrying laundry all the time so it makes sense. One of my blogger friend's husband does work inside people's houses and he runs into tricky situations on occasion where he IS getting set up.

      The only situation I ever ran into was with a past deck stainer. My husband invited him in when the job was finished---something I never would have done---and he stayed for over an hour talking about how AAA and Jesus saved his life. Poor soul was trying hard to get his life back on track but it's not the kind of conversation I'd advice a contractor to get into with customers.

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  12. He doesn't have dementia. He knows how to manipulate. He would have been out of my life faster than your daylilies faded -- but that's just me. I suppose part of my response is because I'm a contractor, and I've had plenty of time to watch the bad ones operate. And, now and then, I get the opportunity to come in behind one of the bad ones and fix up the mess they've made. I really hope you don't end up with anything resembling a mess!

    As for those lilies, I found a wonderful wild one this weekend in east Texas -- it's called the Carolina lily (Lilium michauxii) and it's pretty common in the southeast, but scarce here in Texas. Doesn't take much to make me happy!

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    1. Time will tell. He's starting the staining tomorrow morning. I've been close up and personal with several people developing dementia and I think the signs are there with him. Of course there is nothing to stop someone from being manipulative and having dementia.

      I finally threw out the stems of lilies this morning. They were going strong all week...blooms dying and being replaced that next day with new blooms. Fun to watch. I have hundreds of tiger lilies on my back hill. Lilies are common here in all sizes and colors.

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  13. Your deck work will probably end up okay. I sure hope so.
    I have a new lawn mowing guy too. I loved the one I had here for 14 years, but he retired. This new guy is going to trim the bushes along the east side of my house. They are suppose to come up to the window sills, but since I didn't trim them last year, they are to the tops of the windows. He said he is charging me nothing. He mows every week for only $10.00 a cut. i used to pay $20.00 every other week. It still costs me around $40.00 a month, but the lawn looks better cut weekly. I insisted on paying for the bush trim. I'm anxious to see if he does as good a job as I would do. It is very difficult for me to allow "people" to do work that I used to do. Something about letting go of control of my personal property just doesn't sit well with me.

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    1. I think it will. He's neat about cutting the grass, etc.

      Oh my god, I know exactly what you mean about being anxious about trimming the bushes! I'm really fussy about how I like mine. I will probably end up doing my own in the fall. It is hard to give up control.

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  14. That's a huge amount of spindles! What a tedious job that would be. I remember staining our teeny back deck one summer and it felt like it took forever. It's ground level, and after that, we quickly eliminated the railing and tore the whole thing out and replaced it with Trex, the wood/plastic product. No more staining. One time was enough!

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    1. My deck is too high to legally be without a railing so the spindles have to stay but that was a great idea for your place with a ground level deck. Engineered wood was 4 times the cost of wood real when this house was built but it probably would have paid for itself in savings on deck maintenance over the years. Thankfully, I will never have to do it again.

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  15. This guy sounds nuts and I probably would have fired him no matter what and still sought out more estimates. That said, I had a guy who was supposed to come over and give an estimate on my basement who never showed and when we had our cottage roof done, we took the guy who showed up (out of the three we tried to ask). So I get what you're going through. As you already know -- GET IT IN WRITING!!!!

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    1. I called ten lawn care services last April trying to find someone to do my lawn this year, and no one was taking anymore clients for this season. I was lucky to get him and here you have to pay for half a season twice a year. If I fire him then I'd not get my money back for lawn care through fall and he does decent on that. The jury is still out on the deck work.

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  16. I'm a daylily lover, and am especially fond of those vanilla-scented yellow ones. I occasionally will cut some stems for the house, especially if they have just a few buds left on them that will open in the next few days.
    For a few years, I used a contractor who was as overbearing as your deck guy. I wonder how much of the attitude is sexism. My guy did good work, but we finally parted ways over some hardwood floor that he wanted to install crosswise along my long hallway.

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    1. I think it's totally sexist. He's maybe only 10 years younger than me and I think he's used to men being in charge. Nice enough guy, does good enough work but he rubs me the wrong way.

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