There may be life in Florida, although the number of SunStar ambulances racing around the streets, sirens blaring, is a tad alarming. But we have beds to sleep in, we found the beautiful white sand beaches, Tropicana Field, and enough scale on the three beautiful Sago Palms in the front yard to populate several newly discovered planets. We’re being greeted as “the new regulars” at Starbucks and they know our morning order by heart. The house is taking shape. And if I NEVER see a Target, Walmarts, Costco, Lowes, Home Depot or Roy, aka, Mr. Mattress Firm again in my life it will be too
One part of this week falls under the heading good help is hard to find. The kids are good for one task a day. Yesterday Nick was in charge of breaking down boxes and disposing of an entire back yard full of moving trash: he asked, “Where?” I said, “the trash cans in the alleys.” Each one is enormous and shared by 4 households. He came back and announced ours was almost full and I replied that if he wanted dinner to make it work and he did- maybe. Today is trash day and I haven’t
been able to bring myself to peek into the ally but I’m imagining the mayhem and rage of neighbors and sanitation engineers alike. Fortunately, my address isn’t on any of it.
Abby and Nick helping out
Dave, the neighborhood yard guy has pointed out the scale and numerous other dangers, mostly encroaching plant life that he swears will uproot the house if not attended to immediately. Which he’s willing to do at an affordable price. I said, “Now? This minute.” I want pictures for you all back at home…
And then there’s Larry, Sherri and Jasmine from Cleans With Dirt. We went step by step through this tiny bungalow discussing window sashes, hardwood floors, under sinks, wiping out empty drawers: that kind of clean you want before you load your stuff in and the kind that gets rid of the last inhabitant’s cooties. Yup, yup, yup. You go away and we’ll have this all spotless when you come back in two hours (2 hours?). This from Larry, who had already given me a lengthy treatise on his theory that you shouldn’t hire “foreigners or retired people from New York” as any kind of household help and to not pay until the job is done right. Sherri, the boss, was home recovering from surgery but Jasmine, with the vacuous stare of say, that plant scale, was on the job even as we left. Slopping out the kitchen cupboards with a filthy rag dragged through a bucket of filthy water they must have brought from the last job (” Ya, we use all our own supplies, You don’t have to provide nothin’ “).
I’m bad at confrontation- with me it’s smarm, smarm, smarm, smile, mediate, make nice, make excuses for other’s bad behavior, smarm and then I smack somebody or throw something. But when we got back and they were gone with a note that Sherri would invoice us I knew a confrontation was coming. I called her and, in my most apologetic voice, said that we needed to talk, I needed someone to come back and look at the job. So yesterday Sherri and Larry (her husband, it ends up, covering for her while she recovers from a Complete Makeover in Costa Rica, where it’s a fraction the price and she would be happy to give me the number of the clinic…). Larry had the unmitigated gall to blame it ALL on Jasmine (“nope, she din do this, nope she din do that. Hate to think what she’s been doing on our other jobs. Sheri, you knew she had attention deficit disorder…” Well, I have some kind of attention problem as we’ve already established, but I know filth when I’m walking through it.). So they started again with the dirty rags and water only this time slopping it on the newly laid rugs. Finally I pointed out to Sherri that she might mess up the healing on her total face and body lift and perhaps she should knock off until she felt good and healed. She thanked me for my kindness and left with promises to call me right away next week to schedule a time to come back and by the way, don’t worry , she would just mail me the invoice for two days of cleaning. Needless to say, there will be an ice rink in Hell before, based on Larry’s good advice, they get paid.
And so forth the rest of the day until we finally settled down to our new little fire pit ( weighs a mere 230 #; Kristen loaded it at Costco by herself even though there’s a large hazard sign stating: “This is a BUDDY ITEM. Let our customer service department lift this for you!” Ya, and where are you?). We cooked food on a stick and everyone crashed early. This is a yawner, I know.
Soon the finished product with photos and a list of the best local restaurants and attractions. Everyday we pass The Sunken Gardens and I swear I’m going to go find out what that means before we leave on Monday.
Oh, here’s a dilemma: Dave of Dave’s Lawn’s, a friendly guy who does most of the nicely maintained neighborhood came in with a total estimate for an initial pruning, hauling, spraying the Sagos, blowing the seeds off the roof, mulching, feeding and mowing of 320.00. This on a yard that the previous owner spent upwards of 25,000. on “zero-scaping” the property with spectacular plantings of jasmine, crepe myrtle, bougainvillea and so on. Later in the day Jimmy of Jimmy’s trees came and we walked over the same terrain and he came in at 5800.00. Hmmm, decisions, decisions. “You get what you pay for” or “Money near is money dear (and almost gone anyway). Think I’ll run this one by Rich.”