Shopaholic

It’s been a unique experience to do the kind of shopping I’ve done this move. The curtains we did before – and paid a lot less, if I remember right. We also did the bedding. The new sofa is unique – I literally haven’t ever gone shopping for a sofa before. My ex spent my money to buy one that should’ve been condemned at the store, but I didn’t have any input on the purchase. This time around we’re kind of doing it all at once, which is a weird feeling. It’s literally going to be a  new home when we get done, and we’re really decorating almost from scratch. We have to get rid of a lot of stuff too, but we should hopefully be able to sell a lot of what we can’t keep, so it’s all good.

More photos!

curtains
These curtains are the bomb. I was looking for EXACTLY something along these lines, but it was going to cost me around $150 for the two windows, way out of my price range. This set cost me about $60 for the two windows. Score!

 

quilt
One thing I hated about swapping out our king size for a queen size bed: I loved our quilt! Lucky for me I found this one, which is very similar to the one we had to leave behind. I consider that a win.

 

sink - before
Thus was the original sink and faucet in the kitchen. You can’t see, but that faucet was really busted at the end. I wouldn’t have hated the porcelain, but the thing was just trashed. The strainer baskets were even shattered, and this dumped into a garbage disposal with a cord stolen from a lamp. Yes, really.

 

sink - after
This is the end result. Kind of a big difference, huh? The garbage disposal is history, at my request. I hate the things – they serve no purpose except to make noise and destroy my spoons. The sink, meanwhile, is both an upgrade to stainless AND is about twice as deep as the old one.

G had to dig the trench for the Internet install. The phone company installer swore he couldn’t do it, despite the fact that I’d ordered an installation at an extra cost. That was a lost morning we’d hoped would be spent painting. It also zapped poor G’s strength so we had a short day today. We both had a hard time staying awake. Granted, this is pretty light work as renovations go, but it’s still a LOT of work for two people, with most of it falling on G’s shoulders.

I have done some of the work, but so much of it I simply can’t do. I’m not a painter. I tried, and let’s just say it wasn’t successful. However I managed to re-hang the cabinet doors, and I take care of virtually everything else – all the bill paying, errands, meals, blah blah blah. So I’m not completely useless.

I didn’t mention the degree of personal pandemonium going on in the background. It won’t go on a public post but hopefully on a private one, soon. Let’s just say I’ll be glad when we finally get to move in here.

On a brighter front, I started the process to become a Mystery Shopper. No, I’m not talking about the come-hither crap that you see everywhere and boils down to a whole lot of nothing. There are legit Mystery Shopper jobs and I know someone who owns one of the shopper companies. She got me connected with the pro Mystery Shopper organization and I’m working toward my certification. The average person seems to make somewhere around $1000-1500 a month average, with some averaging closer to $5K monthly. I talked to one person who did $10K a month for a while but said it was not something they could keep up – it involved a LOT of travel, to the extent they were virtually never home. (Though admittedly, I’m never home NOW.) If I can do part time and do the $1000-1500 range we’ll be sitting pretty since we have no bills, but I’d like to go a bit higher so we can start socking money back for other things. I’d love to retire someday soon, but looks like it’s not going to happen yet.

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I’ll Drink to That

This insane remodeling project has been one step forward, two steps back, but I think we’re finally making progress. The plumbing is mostly done – still some little tweaks, like replacing the $10 flush mechanism on the toilet. We still need to replace the water heater but we already pretty much knew that, and have someone lined up to swap it out.

I was cringing when I looked at the bathroom and worried over what it was going to take to rip out several layers of atrocious wallpaper. I started to pull it out and it was taking the wall with it. Luckily looks like that issue turned out to be a lot less scary than I thought, and the fix should be pretty simple. I’m going to need to clean up a ton of crusted lime from where the old faucet sat, and in all the other fixtures.

The water here is among the hardest in the world. The muddy cow ponds in the middle of Africa don’t carry as much crud in their water as the local water supply here. It’s ostensibly clean crud, but still crud. Calcium, iron, and God knows how many other minerals mean a scrubbing marathon at least once a month for sinks and faucets, and a vinegar bath for clothes and dishes on the same frequency. It’s bad closer in to Phoenix, but this little corner of the world is worse. I used to think bottled water was the ultimate in bourgeois posing. Then we moved here and invested in a water dispenser in the house, which is the only water you can actually drink. We replenish those three-gallon bottles at a brisk clip, because they’re a necessary evil.

Now we’re only talking drinking water. For bathing and such this stuff is safe. You just crack off a hard shell every now and then. That’s really what snakes shedding their skin is about – it’s sloughing off the accumulated hard water deposits around here.

To be fair, I’m kind of a water snob. When I was a kid growing up in northeastern Iowa, we had our own well. We lived a few blocks from the Cedar River, a tributary of the Mississippi. I thought everyone could get water from the faucet that was cold without ice, and that tasted like – well, water. I thought there was something seriously wrong with the water at my grandma’s house in the next town. She had city water rather than her own well, but I didn’t know that until I was 8-ish or thereabouts. Her water tasted funny, and it wasn’t super cold, but it was drinkable.

Fast forward to 2016 and I’ve become a connoisseur of fine H2O. I know, for example, that Aquafina is the best bottled stuff you can get from the drug store. I know that whenever we go traipsing across town we take along something liquid and cold year-round, because carrying water is what you do. There are no public drinking fountains in the vicinity, and even if there were, you wouldn’t want to drink from them unless they were attached to one big ol’ honking filtration system.

Hubby promised to get a picture of the new sink today. I live such an exciting life. (Read that in the deadpan voice in which it was written.) He’s painting whilst I do laundry and dishes. I finally gave up and bought curtain rods from the Big Box Devil, because I refuse to pay $30 for a single curtain rod. Yeah, I know I’m cheap, and I don’t care who else knows it. We’re buying curtains online because we want something specific that will cost us an arm and a leg if we can even find it locally. It costs entirely too much for you to cover up your windows, but in this part of the world it’s also a necessary evil.

Once the painting is done, we’re going to tackle flooring. In theory we might even move in someday, but I’m not holding my breath.

This is the same series of pictures I posted on Facebook, give or take a few, so feel free to ignore them if you like.

Painting the monster
That gridwork there? That thing looked like crap no matter what we did to it. I told my husband to rip it out, right off the bat, but he didn’t want to. Then we painted. Suffice to say it’s now gone.

Gone
And it’s gone! I was so glad to see that thing removed. It literally disintegrated as hubby was trying to rip it out. It was supposedly porous wood but I think it might also have been cork wannabe.

Into Hallway
This is another view, one that includes the tools and such. That box across the top of the bar is coming out, as well as the bar itself. We’re putting in a double-sided bookcase and a small desk.

Kitchen after partial paint
The paint is about a thousand times cleaner looking than the gray and blue wallpaper you can still see in the back corner. The ceiling fixture is being replaced. The lighting now is a mishmash, we’re shooting for consistency

Just a reminder: this is where we started. Kind of a wee bit of difference, isn't there?
Just a reminder: this is where we started. The upper cabinets are going to be white, the lowers a dark navy blue. Flooring will be largely gray tones. We’ll be patriotic once everything’s there, with our red small appliances

And this is where we REALLY started - complete with god-awful gold high-low carpet and cheap 1970's furniture
And this is where we REALLY started – complete with god-awful gold high-low carpet and cheap 1970’s furniture. the furniture went straight to the dumpster, though some of the workers decided to keep the dishes.
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Weekend Worrier

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Despite achieving quite a bit this week, I’m stressing. I’m always stressing. What else is new? Gotta get the AC fixed on the car sometime this week. First gotta get the window AC setup at the house and do a scrub-down of the ceiling and walls in prep for painting. The stuff we’re using to wash things down is pretty intense stuff, so I need gloves and eye protection. We have both, and I know the gloves are already there. Dunno where the safety goggles reside at the moment.

I need to get a sponge mop and a bucket to use for the wash-down. I made a trip today and managed to forget to get them. I got everything else under the sun, just not the main reason I was going. According to G that was the main reason, anyway. In reality I had a list of stuff to get and remembered to get most of it.

Part of what I had to get was clothes for both of us. G needed some basics. I needed everything. I have lost a LOT of weight over the past few months. Didn’t realize how much until I started literally walking out of my clothes – even shirts were to the point of falling off. I bought a size smaller – ummm… nope, still didn’t fit. I finally tried things on. (I know – what a concept!) Turns out I’m down three sizes from when I was working. Not dieting so much as simply eating healthier. The weight loss has helped with the joint pain, though this weekend it came roaring back with a vengeance.

I’m hoping it doesn’t dog me all week. We’ve got sooooo much to do. G hopes to have all the painting done this week, the earlier the better.

We still need to coordinate with the handyman about the plumbing. G has a very lackadaisical attitude about getting the water issues remedied. It drives me insane, because to me that’s kind of a priority.

Think about this for a minute. If we can’t use the water, I can’t scrub down anything and painting is not going to happen, and painting needs to be done before flooring. The kitchen faucet is a piece o’ junk, definitely not usable for anything. Bathroom faucet isn’t any better. I don’t know about the bathtub, but not putting any bets on it being any more functional. Even the toilet is barely usable at this point. The place has been sitting empty for so long that the lines are all clogged with grit and such, and the kitchen faucet is broken. There was a water filter on it that broke off in G’s hand, taking a chunk of the cheapo faucet with it. We knew this going in. But hey – we can forestall water indefinitely, right? Because nobody needs water to paint, or to go to the bathroom, or any of those other little details, right?

With G, we’re talking about a member of the male species, one who periodically displays the complete absence of functioning brain cells. You can’t get through to him when he digs in his heels. So I’m going along to watch when the facts dawn on him. I might point and laugh, on principle. I’ll spare him the overdue, “I told you so”, because it will be redundant at that point. Any sympathy I possess draws a line when The Stupid comes out to play.

It’s past midnight and this is going to be a long week. Guess I’d better sign off and call it a night.

 

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Job Creation

Master Bedroom

We’re moving forward with the mobile. The old carpeting is mostly out, the power is on, and the water is off but we can turn it on. We didn’t leave the water turned on because we couldn’t be sure there weren’t any hidden leaks. Ostensibly the husband half of the world is having our handyman come through and fix the cooler and go over the rest of the plumbing to check for issues next week. We already know we’re replacing faucets and eliminating an unusable garbage disposal. I loath garbage disposals, anyway. I hope to compost the stuff that would normally go into a disposal. We might end up replacing the whole sink – the one that’s there now is a white porcelain dinosaur.

We’ve got a window AC unit to tide us over until the cooler is working like it’s supposed to work. The fan works on the cooler but with the water off, it’s not gonna cut it in weather well over 100º. Hubby still has to yank the old carpet from the smallest bedroom, and to scrape up the two layers of vinyl from the kitchen, bathroom and a small section of hall. Lucky for us the sub-floors are in incredibly good shape for their age. Usually once there have been any leaks at all, the sub floors are toast. That didn’t happen here and we plan to keep it that way.

We may buy a bigger capacity window AC in the off season. As small as this place is, one of the bigger units might be enough to do the trick permanently. There are other people who simply removed the rooftop swamp cooler and went 100% to a window AC for places of similar size. We’ll see how it goes.

We agree on paint colors and flooring colors. We agreed on cheap ceiling lights for the kitchen. I don’t love them but they’re 1000% improvement over what’s there now, which is mismatched and tacky. These are boring but modern. The bedrooms still have old style fixtures – I wanted to go ahead and get replacements for those too but hubby said no. Not a huge deal to me – for those I’ll be fine with just swapping out the square glass shades for round. Hubby also said no to getting the kitchen faucet I wanted. That was a bigger deal to me because the one I wanted was on clearance, but since we’re waiting on handyman guy, I’ll cool my heels for the time being.

More pictures, now that we’ve cleared out all the furniture:

Master BedroomThis is the master bedroom. Hubby had to take the closet doors off because the bottom door runners were mounted on top of the carpeting. They didn’t slide as a result. You had to force them. Glad to see that carpet gone! Considering its age, the gold high-low carpet was still in amazing condition. That doesn’t mean we wanted to keep it.

The little built-in is a nice touch. I haven’t talked to G about whether it’ll be white or if we’ll paint it navy like all the lower cabinets. I’m leaning toward white for now.
Living RoomThis is the living room. One thing I love about it is how bright it is! Those are big windows on all three sides. Despite what it looks like in this picture, it’s actually a decent size, at 13’4″ by 16′. Not too shabby considering the overall size of the place. It needs to be big since it’s also going to serve as hubby’s office space.

I’m less enamored of the two badly done Kokopelli and saguaro cactus on the far wall. Hubby thinks they’re on with paint. I think somebody did them with a magic marker. Either way, I’ll be glad when they’re buried under a layer of KILZ and gray paint.
Hallway

This is the hallway looking from the master bedroom door. That slice of brown vinyl was actually underneath carpeting. You can just see the little niche next to the bathroom where the washer and dryer will go. The dryer fits on one side of the bathroom door and the washer on the other side. The hall was carpeted before but we’re planning to do all vinyl tile this time, so it’s consistent from kitchen to hall to bath.

There were actually three different vinyl patterns throughout the place, including 2-3 layers in places. The carpet padding, meanwhile, was a layer of upholstery foam. That was kind of a facepalm moment, especially since the foam was of different thicknesses in different parts of the place. It’s all going so we start clean.

There will be mid-tone laminate in the living room and both bedrooms, and the light colored paneling is getting a coat of light gray paint. The tile we picked out is very close in tone to the laminate – we originally looked at something lighter, but I wanted something that wouldn’t show every speck of dirt!! We’ll be putting in a white baseboard throughout and painting the ceilings white.
Paint

Finally, this is our paint test. It’s only one quick run over with a sponge brush, but you get the idea. It looks slightly darker in person, though still a light gray.

We decided to use the same light gray we bought for the house, and white trim. I think it will look awesome once get two coats up and it’s a nice even color throughout. We had the majority of our paint left from the previous project and can always get more if needed. If the bedrooms aren’t a perfect match it isn’t a big deal anyway.

Yes, this place is small, but it’s far too big to be considered a “tiny house”. Those things are insane, at 400sf and under. The majority I’ve seen have been on the order of 150-200sf. If push came to shove I could do it, alone. Hubby would lose his mind, and I couldn’t do it with two or more people. We’ve watched a lot of shows on tiny houses, where people pay as much for those things as a full size house.

Why on earth would you do that? Why not take something like this old mobile, give it some love, and do the whole thing for well under $10K, including the price of the mobile? The structure is already in place and you’re saving it from destruction, plus you have more space and can still haul it to wherever you like, if you insist.  I’ve seen some mid-century mobiles thMobile-002-07-28-2016(1)at were remodeled to keep the original kitchy style throughout. We’re not doing that, given this one’s vintage (1978) but I saw some from the 50’s and 60’s that were just amazing. This is our answer to the tiny house movement: not quite so tiny, but a definite downsize, and done right on a budget that’s within the scope of a couple of big tax refunds.

That plant that’s overtaken the stairs in the picture at left? It’s a bougainvillea. And it’s also going as soon as we can rip it out. Those things have insanely long thorns and they get to be huge in a hurry. We’ll be replacing it with something a little less apt to rip a hole in your legs.

The stairs and deck will also be replaced. There’s no railing around that deck, and both stairs and deck are rickety as heck. Hubby will be taking care of those after he wraps up the inside, and we plan to paint the outside of the mobile in either gray and white or two-tone gray. The railing will be white and the flooring is going to get a gray-tone stain. The stairs will be replaced by a wheelchair ramp.

There’s more, but it’s o’dark thirty in the middle of the night and I’ve got a long day ahead of me tomorrow. Looking into business options, because I’m done with the non-starter stuff we’ve done so far. I’ve got a narrow window of opportunity here and I plan to take it, one way or another.

 

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And a-One and a-Two

Anybody my age range has probably seen Lawrence Welk. He was a parental staple of the 1960’s and into the 70’s and even 80’s. My parents watched religiously, which I found ironic given that our church ostensibly didn’t believe in dancing.

I also remember seeing the Beatles on the Sullivan show – the original, in real time, just before we left for church. My mom was appalled that the kids were screaming and crying over this “long-haired boys” group.

I can sort of see her point. I love the Beatles’ music to this day, but screaming and crying and fainting? No, can’t really see myself doing any of those things, not for any performer. I didn’t as a teen either, though I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my contemporaries behaved with comparable silliness at concerts by CCR. The craziness surrounding the Fab Four is downright quaint in comparison to the mosh pits today. I suppose someday our current insanity will be recalled as a nostalgic bender, with the spiked hair and obscenity-laced lyrics viewed as an age of innocence. Not sure I want to know what would make some of this crap sound innocent, but given the overall arc of life it’s bound to happen.

Then again, it may be that the future kids will rebel in the opposite direction, rejecting the jagged styles and ragged attitudes we see now, turning into Ozzie and Harriet III. Cycles come and go. Here’s hoping that at some point in the relatively near future, common sense and class come back into vogue.

We are finally making some kind of progress. We got the water turned on and the power turned on (yay!) and next up will be going through all of the various and sundry sections to make sure they’re working. The cooling fan works. We turned it on and generated our own personal dust storm indoors. It was a sight to behold. We just opened all the doors and windows and let ‘er blow, all things considered, and in a few minutes it all calmed down. We’ll be washing down walls and ceilings and all the flooring is being ripped out anyway, so the dust didn’t really hurt anything. I wish I’d gotten a picture though. I’ve never seen anything like it. Suffice to say, we added duct cleaning to our to-do list!

I talked G into dumping the fridge and getting a new one. I don’t want to go spend crazy, but neither do I want to be stranded a few months from now when that one goes out (if it even works now – which was very much in question.) We can get a new one that size for about $450, give or take. I already priced them.

We’re going to be connecting with our handyman for a few projects. Servicing the cooling system, absolutely. Removing the fire-hazard garbage disposal and replacing the unusable faucets in kitchen and bath, fer sure. I’m sure other things will come up along the way, too, but so far everything looks manageable. I can replace the light fixtures that need replacing – I don’t think any two match throughout the whole place, and some are just atrocious. We have a mix of brass and chrome and dark bronze fixtures and doorknobs, all beyond tacky. I think what we have for replacement cabinet handles are brushed nickel, so that’s probably the direction we’ll take overall.

And the dirt. Holy cow… Before we had the water turned on, I simply wanted to wipe down the cabinet where we were putting the microwave. It took seven bouts of spray, soak, wipe, repeat. The grime was that thick and nasty. And I was using a heavy duty cleaner on that sucker, too! By the time I finished though, it looked new. I managed to remove all the grit, coffee rings, etc., from who knows how many spills.

It will definitely take some work to get it all done, but we’ll get there. I’m way over living with someone else already.

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Organized Chaos

We’re down to the wire on the move, but nearly done. We’re moving the last out of our things today and going to be staying at the DIL’s house, hopefully for no more than a couple of weeks (if that) while we get a mobile and rehab it. I chose direct deposit for the house proceeds, which should help expedite things. Much as I love my DIL and grandsons, we don’t want to live with them for any longer than necessary.

My daughter in law is a doll. My son is currently out of the picture, thanks to some atrocious life choices. He said he’s getting his act together. I hope he does, but not holding my breath. Went through this with his dad 20 odd years ago.

When in the same room the boys fight and scream nonstop. DIL is also living with her mother. Mama has kept them afloat financially for years and I’m grateful for it. Unfortunately that mama also needs to be in assisted living. She’s not safe to drive, can’t cook or clean for herself any more, and generally is not self sufficient. She’s also not terribly rational. It’s not dementia; she’s always been this way, for as long as I’ve known her, coming up on 20 years.

So yeah – lots of incentive to get our butts outta there asap.

In addition to the standard rehab of whatever place we ultimately buy – flooring, paint, repairs, etc. – I am hoping we can get at least one solar panel installed. We can buy a 100-watt panel for under $200, possibly under $150. We’ll have to also get a power management panel, battery, and someone who knows how to safely and professionally integrate it into the electrical system, but I imagine we can get that done for a reasonable price, too. Lower electric bills is a given; but also it would potentially keep us up and running in the event of a power outage, at least if we cut it back to just the essentials. As time goes on I suspect we’ll see more rolling blackouts. This would be our insurance policy against them.

It’s currently too much of a stretch to go 100% off the grid, but we can put a dent in the grid, anyway.

Still hoping to get a place with a swamp cooler vs. AC. It’s not quite as cool during periods of high humidity, but overall it’s livable and it’s SO much cheaper to operate and maintain.

If things work out like we hope and believe they will, I’ll probably turn all this insanity into a book. Being debt free is all well and good, but you still have to have some income. We’ve got a few projects going. Some of them I knew up front were a waste of time, but G insisted I jump through the hoops. I did, and they’re doing a whole lot of nothing, as expected. To be fair, my ideas aren’t moving any faster. I’ve gotten a few bucks from them and still have billing out for more, but the vast riches are taking their sweet time about rolling in.

And I still keep forgetting to win the lottery. Maybe I’ll remember this week.

That’s only half joking, by the way. While packing, I found lottery tickets from January that I never checked. We don’t buy lottery tickets often, and we’ve got so much going on at any given time that I can’t remember my own name some days.

Going to try and get another hour or so o sleep before tackling the last day of moving – for a couple of weeks.

 

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Boxing Days

My Canadian friends know Boxing Day is the day after Christmas. In our house, boxing day is moving day (or close to it.) We’ve started moving boxes to storage now, though there’s still plenty more to move. We’ve sold or given away quite a bit – still more to go there, too. We’re eight days from closing on the house. I’m both relieved and daunted at the process. Today our ginormous china hutch goes – it’s sold already. The sofa’s history. We’ve packed up about 2/3 of our recently-culled book collection. Progress! And pain!

We went yesterday to look at two places, and ended up looking at something like half a dozen. Most were surprisingly good, one was atrocious. The one we want is affordable and in the location we were hoping to move. Our space rent would include water and sewer. When you take that into account, we’d be paying just over a quarter per month what we’re paying on the house. Add to that a swamp cooler in lieu of AC, which drops the electric bill to almost nothing, and it’s looking sweeter all the time. Hopefully it’s still there a few days from now, when we’ve got the cash to plunk down.

mobile1The picture on the right is the place we’re hoping to buy. It’s older and obviously not fancy – but it’s a roof over our heads. And a TV antenna, for what it’s worth, LOL.

From house-hunting, we headed to the hardware store to price out flooring and materials, because the place we want needs a degree of rehab. At our price range we were bracing for something that was trashed, and were pleasantly surprised to find that’s not even close to the case. Yes, it needs some TLC, but nothing we can’t handle, especially since we have a local handyman on call. We talked to our handyman buddy today, though, and not sure we want to pay his cost to install the flooring. It would literally cost more for the installation than the cost of the flooring and underlayment combined. We might, though, both because of time and because I don’t want G doing it. I don’t think it would be safe for G to do it.

Of course all this is predicated on the house sale going through on schedule, and us getting the place we want. It could sell before we get our shot at it, but it’s been on the market for a while and no takers, so we’re hoping it’ll hold off another week and a half so we get a crack at it.

The family drama continues. I’m proud of my DIL for sticking to her guns. It’s hard on her now but the alternative would be catastrophic for all concerned.

We’ve had her older son with us for most of the week and may have him for a day this weekend. He’s been a joy – we even got to take him with us to my sister’s house this afternoon, where he got a chance to play with a distant cousin of the same age. The boys played video games and made a sweet deal with their aunt (my sister). She had a couple of dollar bills in cash and promised them to whoever brought her something from the kitchen. My grandson (okay, she’s his great aunt, but whatever) brought it to her and she gave him the ones – which turned out to be fives, LOL.

But you know something? I was so proud of that little boy I could have burst. He split his take with his cousin, without anyone asking or suggesting he did so. My grandson has precious little to cheer about right now, so his generosity was an especially sweet move.

Despite some of the challenges, there are some huge bright spots in my world right now, and getting a new chance to spend time with this grandson is one of them.

More pictures – yes, the place comes with the furniture if we want it (we don’t) but with a coat of white paint, laminate flooring, and some more modern furnishings, I think we might have a winner.

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Several Years Are Now Gone

I’m posting a couple of short posts because I can’t publish more than a few words at a time. I backed up my old posts (thank goodness) but this really isn’t functional any more. I’m a frigging technician and tore this baby apart every way I could before reinstalling. The bug still continues even after a fresh install, which makes me suspect it’s server related.

I had a long post written out, but obviously it’s not going live any time soon. I’m so not a happy camper. Angry as hell, actually, and I suspect I know why the bug exists – and that the damned hosting company needs to pull its head out of its ass.

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