Meanderings, Musings, and More

Hi There! Did you miss me?

I missed me, believe me, I did.

Three Plagues Upon My House

It all began in the last days of 2017, the last healthy days before a season of sickness. Seriously, I got sick THREE separate times.

Shortly after I recovered from Plague #1 – which my husband was still fighting off – here comes Plague #2. I could not believe it. I denied it, “This cannot be happening, there are rules, damn it!”

By the time I recovered from Plague #2 and Plague #3 came and walloped me upside my head, I was ready to start digging my own grave, but far too tired to do it.

By this time, the hubs had the second round of whatever he got. And dancing around us with crazy fevers and days of sore throat and sniffles was our little one.

Who am I kidding, she was probably the plague monkey who infected us each time.

Thanks a lot, public school populated with children who are not mine – you infectious little plague monkeys!

My cleaning clients were patient, gracious souls – but I have informed my youngest (currently suffering through a sore throat, malaise, and a zigzagging fever) that she is NOT to get me sick again. As if she could control it.

Could this plague season be over already? I actually noticed on the calendar that next Sunday is Leap Forward when Daylight Savings Time activates (something I abhor) and I actually smiled because it is the first step towards spring. And spring means the end of winter, which hopefully means NO MORE FLU.

Please let it mean that. Please.

Regulations, Schmegulations

First, there came the news of the new Airbnb regulations for Kansas City. One of the biggest thorns?

“Off-site owners must secure the consent of 55 percent of adjacent property owners.”

I live next door to both of these properties. But because I am using a property that I do not live in personally, I am considered an off-site owner. These new regulations mean that I have to ask permission of my neighbors to operate a business.

Now, if I choose to rent these houses out, I don’t have to ask permission. But Airbnb? Have to ask permission.

Uh uh.

Now they are proposing inspections (and possibly more) for rental properties. And I’m really having a hard time with this.

There are already plenty of regulations on the books – renters have rights, property owners have responsibilities, and we have a whole codes enforcement agency in place.

So why do we need MORE legislation, more laws?

Perhaps I’m being overly simplistic. Perhaps I’m looking at the world through rose-colored glasses. Perhaps I’m a fool for hoping that other property owners will do this novel and unique thing called “the right thing” and provide a safe, healthy, acceptable living environment for their tenants.

Look, it goes something like this. My first house is in Belton. I lived in it for 13 years – lavished love and work on it and did my best to not just take care of it, but make it a home. I planted multiple fruit trees, improved the inside, put a new roof on, energy-efficient windows, et cetera.

A few years back, the showerhead started leaking. It had a Waterpik showerhead, which might not be the most expensive one there is, but it was one I had bought and used for myself. So when I needed to replace it, I didn’t go out and buy one that was cheaper, I bought another Waterpik for my renter.

When we were over there on Sunday replacing the dishwasher, I felt awful because the dishwasher we put in there was a used one that doesn’t look as spiffy as I would have wanted it to. I was more stressed about it then the renter was.

I noticed the back fence is bowing and that some of the panels need replacing. “Tell me how many you need and we will bring them down, I don’t want you to worry about your dogs getting out.”

Which reminds me that I need to also return next weekend to see if we can fix the double gate which apparently needs work but that I forgot to look at while we were there.

Am I going to get top of the line for a rental house? No. But I am going to provide a decent living environment – one that has working appliances and that is safe. That’s part of the deal.

Today I read an argument about the new rental inspections with one guy insisting that it will make landlords give up and stop renting because they can’t afford to make a rental house be safe and decent to live in.

But the fact is, renting a house for $600 is not a profitable activity in the end. That’s why so many houses sit in poor condition. It isn’t because the landlord is an evildoer. It’s because in the end he just doesn’t have the cash because the activity is not profitable. It’s not very hard to figure out really…Has it ever occurred to you guys that there’s actually a market for substandard housing?

That last line really REALLY bothered me. I’m not okay with being a landlord who provides substandard housing. Call me old-fashioned but a home is where you should feel safe. It’s the place you go back to at the end of the day after working your ass off and feel is your sanctuary. Or at least where you can somewhat relax.

I’ve lived in substandard housing. It sucked. I don’t look back on it as an experience that helped me – it hurt me. I was poor, I was desperate, and all around me were predatory landlords that didn’t give a fuck about me or my child or whether we were healthy and safe. It stressed me out and gave me a shorter temper. I wasn’t as good a mom because I was worried about stuff like my bathroom wall dissolving and the hot water leaking so bad it might burn my child’s skin or the time it RAINED IN MY KITCHEN. And don’t get me started on the intermittent phone service (caused by the lines being flattened in the basement) or no screens on the windows (and having to kill hornets, mosquitoes, and other flying creatures) all summer long if I wanted any breeze in my non-air-conditioned overly priced hovel.

No one needs that.

I’m still on the fence about this new inspection proposal. I don’t think it will make a difference. What will make a difference is a property owner who is willing to be the better person or get out of the game. I believe we CAN provide safe, good housing and still make a profit. It might not be as large of a profit, but still.

The other day, faced with having to replace a broken dishwasher, I grumbled and stared at the rental contract. “A dishwasher isn’t a necessary appliance,” I said, frustrated that I had not delineated it as such in the rental contract.

But the real problem I had?

I don’t have a dishwasher. When mine broke, I decided not to fix it. I was frustrated that it had last two years and then abruptly died. I was also frustrated because the one at the rental house had also lasted just two years and then died. Talk about built-in obsolescence, that is ridiculous!

But it isn’t my renter’s fault. And frankly, for them and their needs, it IS a necessary appliance. I thought about how it would feel if I were in their shoes. When they moved in, there was a working dishwasher. I realized that, like it or not, whether I have a dishwasher or not myself, I had a moral obligation to replace the one that had broken.

So I put in the used one, felt like crap that I didn’t have a nicer looking one, and I’m monitoring the situation. Hell, I’ll probably be buying a new one for them in a few months.

Because that’s the right thing to do.

She Dreams of Spring

I can’t help it, I have to buy flower seeds.

It’s an addiction, I tell you, an addiction!

My plans for the yard are limited in scope. Why? Because I’m going to be very busy. I’m writing, moving between three major projects as the muse takes me, I’m gearing up for homeschooling again in the fall, I’m staying pretty busy with my housecleaning biz (I clean one house per day, five days per week and occasionally two houses per day), AND we will be opening our home and hearts to a foster child soon.

Our hopes are to foster to adopt – but I remain committed to reunification with the bio parents if at all possible.

In any case, it means that we will have one major project this year – finishing the back fence (the front fence will wait until next year) – and then I have my own pet project…

When I laid some of the brick walkways a few years back, I didn’t lay down weed block and so grass and weeds have grown up between the bricks. I need to dig them up, level the soil, lay down the weed block (a black plastic mat on a roll), and then return the bricks to their positions and add sand in between the cracks.

I have several areas where I simply need to dig up and relocate the brick pathways since they aren’t working in their current locations. And on the sides of the main brick walkway that moves along the west side of the house, I want to dig out a two foot deep stretch along each side, add good dirt and plant groundcovers on each side that will fill the borders of the walkway with beautiful green and flowering plants.

I’ve ordered blue Aubrieta…

Irish moss…

Monkey grass…

Rock rose…

As well as a packet of dwarf perennials…

I hope to continue to establish perennials that help reduce weeds while brightening up our yard with an explosion of flowers and beauty.

I dream of spring…I know that it is on its way!

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