Sunday, January 27, 2008

Damn these allergies!

Ah..a nice warm, sunny winter day. Time to water the plants! I look over across the street and see a cloud erupting from a cedar tree. Holy shit. I was so happy to have a few days where I could semi-breathe and semi-taste food. That was not today...

I went back inside, went upstairs to my office to work on some things at my drafting table, which sits by three windows. I look out from the safe haven of the indoors. I see clouds of cedar pollen going through the air. Clouds. That is something that I have never physically witnessed before. I have seen pictures of it and didn't want to believe it. But now, surrounding the whole area, clouds of cedar pollen. My nostrils swell shut, my body dries out from snotting so much. My nose burns from the tissues I have had to rub against it. My eyes constantly itch and are red. Ugh.

I took 3 showers today. Hot showers are nice -- I can semi-breathe for a few minutes of the day. I was excited that I could actually close my mouth and not run out of breath.

It's apparent that the allergy shots are not working for cedar. The shots should take effect within 6 months to a year, and I've been on them for over a year now. I think I am going to discontinue them and just leave the central Texas area for 2 months out of the year, every winter. Short of moving away completely, that's the best solution I have. I have tried the old wives tales, I've tried immunology (shots). I'm convinced that nothing will work. Running away. I can handle that.

And thus I cannot wait till my plane leaves on Tuesday morning. I am ready to get away from these damned allergies!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

New blog: Panama and Costa Rica blog

This is just a post to let you all know about my Panama/Costa Rica blog. You can follow me on my trip at:
Pura Vida

Eight more days till I leave. I have tons to do before then...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yessss!!! I have an apartment in Costa Rica!!! =D

So the one ad I replied to that I found on Craigslist Costa Rica has come through. I'll be renting a room out in a 2 bedroom apt from a Canadian massage therapist/hair stylist. It sounds like a nice place and sounds like it will work out well. He's looking for renters that are non-smoker, non-partier, gay friendly, nature loving, adventure seeking, peaceful and relaxed. Yes, that sounds like me!

The rent for the 4 weeks will be $600 (about $21.40/night). It sounds like a lot, but in actuality, after doing all the research, it's quite a bargain for what I'll get. I found a ton of rentals in the $1000 range -- from dumpy to okay. To give you an idea of more budget places, the hostels are going for about $24/night for a private w/shared bathroom. Others were going for $50/night for private with bathroom. I wanted to stay away from the hostels since I'll be studying and the last thing I want to deal with is a bunch of young 18-20-somethings partying all night long. Been there, done that, and over it!

I'm extremely excited. I had been looking pretty much every day for a place to stay. And not finding anything was worrying me a bit. This eases my mind a bit. Yay!!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

If only I were rich...

Good news! I've been accepted into the TEFL International program to take a month long course to get a certificate to teach English as a foreign language. Yay!

Now here's the tough part...finding accomodations. Since I'll be deep into my studies, I want somewhere quiet. The school recommended some hostels, but I want to stay far away from them for that month. So I have been looking for apartments to rent in Manuel Antonio. Unfortunately, it is a happening, touristy and expensive part of Costa Rica...

I've looked all over the internet and find places that cost more than our mortgage to rent for a month. Some cost more than our 2 mortgages combined per month!!! Now another tricky part -- if it's not listed, it is difficult to tell whether they are renting a place out per day/per week/per month. I see $50 for rent..I think..wow, that's not bad (thinking it's per week), but I've found many that are $50/day (OUCH!!!). Then I see $350 to rent..sweet, I could do $350 for the month. Um..it ends up being $350/week so times that by 4. Yeah, you get my drift.

I have found craigslist Costa Rica. I've responded to one ad -- it says $50. But I don't know if that means $50/night or $50/week. I'm scared...if it's $50/week, then I'm golden and can afford it. If it's $50/night..heck, I don't even spend that much in the US on a motel. Sheesh.

I'm looking forward to the trip and I'm sure will have a blast. But the problem is that Costa Rica is damn expensive. Or damn expensive compared to the way I'm used to traveling (I like to travel on a $20/day (or less) budget -- that includes accomodations, all meals, and transportation). So overall, the trip is going to cost more than I anticipated. I've found a few places where I can sleep in a hammock for $5/night. I don't exactly want to do that every night, but may have to do it for a few nights here and there to save on money.

My budget..I have no clue. The school program cost $1690, which...well...more than I make in a month here as a jeweler (yeah, it sucks). So it's costly if you think of it in those terms. Then I need to rent a place for about a month, which I am finding is going to be damn expensive, too.

What to do, what to do...I've put up one of my wakeboards for sale -- my 2006 CWB Sapphire 134 for $150. Anyone interested? ;) I'm working on some photo stuff for work, which will get me a little bit, too. But then I just blew $65 today on clothing (the program has a dress code -- I can't dress like the grotty backpacker that I am) and travel stuff. Not to mention that I have to pick up my malaria meds, which chances are, insurance won't cover. That'll be another $100ish. I'm kind of working backwards here...

Oh well, I'm sure I'll figure it all out at some point! It's all an adventure anyways :)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Canyon Creek Homes needs to take more care if they build so close to another homeowner - Part 4

Yes, that's right, I mentioned the name of the offender. Canyon Creek Homes. I'm not impressed at their care during construction in regards to their neighbors.

I am glad to say that today, there was 0 trash in my yard - front and back.

However, I have been sooooo focused on the trash situation that I overlooked something even more major -- 'damage' to our house due to their construction.

A few days ago when I was picking up construction trash from our backyard, I noticed that there was concrete stuck to our black weedblock plastic that we had put down earlier in the year. Concrete...hmm..that had to jump over a 6 foot fence. Given that it was stuck to the weedblock, it locked like it had splashed over from next door rather than dried first. It was wet and then dried to the weedblock. I said, whatever to that. Still wondering how concrete could splash over a 6 foot fence.

I had also cleaned out concrete chunks from our front yard-side yard as well.

Until today, I noticed...concrete splashes on the side of our house..yes, OUR house...













My first instinct - call Chris and tell him about it. But I get pretty flustered. He sounded oh so excited to talk to me yesterday...so I think I'm going to have Sean talk to him. I'll do the emails to Nora and Matt once we talk to Chris. Sean will have a look at it and see what kind of resolution we could come to on the concrete splatters. It can't be scratched off easily. So we'll see...

Thanks Caynon Creek Homes, thanks for your trash, and your concrete splashed on my house. Thanks a lot. Who knew that a home being built so close to you would be so troublesome...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Day 3 of construction trash communications...

So I left my number with the office manager of the builder next door yesterday via email. The supervisor of the site called and left a message on my phone today apologizing.

The work site is cleaner but still has things that can blow over. Well, I guess I'll just bitch to them whenever stuff blows over...

So nothing in my front yard today...yay!

However, this is what I found in my backyard on the side of our house. Mind you that this stuff has to make it over a 6 foot fence to get into our yard. Paper for the roof, I can understand. A big chunk of 1/2 inch thick wood -- um...has to be some pretty strong wind to carry it over. But the screws are what really piss me off. Not 1, not 2, but 3 screws where my dogs could step on them...

Yeah, I was livid. I called Chris (the supervisor) on his cell since he left his card on our door. He didn't sound to happy to hear from me. So I told him of the problem. He said, oh, is it okay if I go in your backyard and clean it up in the morning? I told him I already cleaned it up, emphasizing the screws being in the yard where my dogs could step on them...

UGH!!!

Pictures of the trash in my backyard from today:





I ended up sending an email to the office manager of the builder - Nora, since I had been in previous communications with her and attached the photos as well.

Here's the email I sent:
Hi Nora,

The site looks much cleaner. Again, I thank you guys for your efforts. I received a message from Chris this morning and appreciate that as well.

In my backyard - side yard, I did find a few things of concern this evening -- a piece of roofing paper, a chunk of 1/2 inch wood (about 5 inches in diameter), and 3 loose screws. The screws were the main concern being that my dogs walk back there and may step on them. Just as much, we may step on them as well. I called Chris this evening about it - he said there was a lot of wind today, so he is aware of my findings (I've cleaned it out of my backyard-side yard because I do not want my dogs to step on the screws or wood).

I prefer to keep you in the email/communications loop so that you are aware of what is going on just as well.

Regards,
Marisa

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Construction trash - part 2

Continuing on my story from yesterday, I received this email today from the office manager of the homebuilder:

Marisa,

We are in receipt of your email regarding the trash blowing in your yard from the construction on .... Our superintendent C... has informed me that the trash has been picked up and the area cleaned up. I would like to talk to you, if you could please call me at ...-.... to discuss further or email your phone number.

Regards,

N


It sounds like a good email, right? So I looked around..no new trash in my yard. Maybe a few things that I overlooked yesterday in my mad trash pickup. However, the site is not totally cleaned up. There are still some loose trash items on the ground that are well capable of blowing over, despite what she stated that the trash had been picked up in the area.

Also, when I was having a look around, I saw my neighbor walking her dog, with a huge plastic sheeting, a plastic ring that goes around a box for packaging, and a plastic bag in her hand. I went to talk to her, and she said that they're getting trash, too. I told her of my efforts of sending a complaint to the builder, and said that she should feel free to as well. Builders should be responsible for the trash they create.

Here is the email I sent back to the office manager this evening:

Hi N...,

Good to hear from you. I do not have email access from work, so I just receive the email. I appreciate your effort to come to a quick resolution on this issue. No new trash in our yard today; however, the site still has some loose trash laying around that may blow over as evidenced by the attached photo from this evening (I circled a few things that have the potential of blowing over). I know you may not visit the construction sites, so I thought it would be important for you to see. Let's discuss this when you have a chance.

Here is my cell number: ...-....
If I am at work and do not answer the phone, please leave a message and I will get back with you. I may be working with heavy machinery or with a customer at the time.

Regards,
Marisa


And here is the picture I attached

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ahhh..the joys of having new home construction 3 feet way from your property...

Well, I've been pretty quiet about it lately..lots more going on to life. But the update on the house next to us -- builder C --aka the lot we tried to buy but the builder wanted to charge $65,000 for what is valued as a $15,000 lot...

Well, we have a big two story house next door to us. And it is close. About 3 feet from our fence. I know we're close to our fence, but since we were here first, we got used to it. Plus the thought of possibly buying the lot next to us (before I knew a builder had his claws grasped all around it) made me feel allright.

So anyways, long story short, I used rocks to line our lot line in the front yard -- thinking it would be obvious. And so construction brings trash, and lots of it. I've been picking up trash about every day -- trash that ends up on my lot. This evening, I spend 30 minutes cleaning up trash. It was just...great.

I sent this friendly letter to Matt, the owner of the homebuilder company. I just needed to get this off my chest and get it out in public. I need to save up money and buy an acre of land somewhere for our next home sometime in the future...

Dear Matt,

I tried to send this email to inquiries@... (found on the Inquiries section of your website); however the email bounced back saying that the address is invalid. Please attend to this issue immediately.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Marisa
To: inquiries@
Sent: Tuesday, January 8, 2008 6:38:16 PM
Subject: new home construction on ...


To whom it may concern,

I am a neighbor to your home construction at ... in ...and have a growing concern. Almost every day, I come home to
find trash from your construction site in my front and backyards.
Previously, I have found a chopped down tree and lumber on my lot (which I've
chosen to disregard). However, the trash almost every day is becoming
more and more frustrating. I spent 30 minutes this evening cleaning
up both my front and backyards of your construction trash that has blown
into or somehow wound up in our yard. The trash varies from a
cigarette butt stuck to the plastic the carton came in (disgusting), green
thin foam-like construction materials, a mint from Sonic (found in my
backyard), round metallic discs used for roofing (I have had to clean up
many of those mostly in my backyard -- they have a sharp enough edge on
them that they may slice into my dogs' paws), Tyvek remnants,
construction material receipts from delivery(?), roofing material (the black stuff used on the roof), Trident chewing
gum wrapper, bits of a ketchup packet, many nails -- including *nails in
my backyard* where my dogs are free to run around - thankfully, they
have not stepped on any or ingested any, blue bits of plastic (looks
like drilled out scraps from pipe), pieces of wood from construction,
concrete chunks, thin bag-like plastic, a piece of cardboard, a substance
that looks to be caulking, etc.

While we understand that the wind can blow construction trash around,
we believe that your company should take proper steps to ensure that trash is
kept in a proper place as to not blow away or escape the receptacle (but first of all, it needs to be put *in* a receptacle rather than free on the lot to be blown around). As
for the trash that is most likely not blown by wind (ie nails and
concrete), a little more care would be good.

Please find a way to resolve this issue immediately. A few ways I have
thought of are as follows:
- Have your workers clean up the site on a daily basis and discard the
trash in a trash receptacle that has a proper lid.
- Put up a temporary construction fence between our lots (like the
construction fence at the back of your lot). That will at least trap the
trash that the wind carries. It will also show the working crew a
border which not to cross. I have a rock lined line which I thought would
be obvious, but after picking up multiple nails today (which could not
be carried by the wind) and concrete bits, I think that it may not be so obvious.

Maybe you can come up with better ways to resolve this issue.

Regards,
Marisa

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

It's official!!!

2008 has begun. First day back at work and I turned in my letter of resignation. I decided to be nice and give a 3.5 week notice.

My last day of work will be Jan 25th. Then on Jan 29th, I will be flying into Panama City, Panama. I'll work my way up to Manuel Antonio for a wedding in mid Feb, and will meet Sean there. We'll travel around for a few weeks together. I'll stick around Central America till mid April. Yup, I said mid April.

Wow, that's such a long time, Marisa...you may be thinking. But I decided to do a longer trip because when I come back, I will be starting my own business. I'll be more dedicated to it, so will be taking shorter stints of travel in the future.

Bring on the surf!!!