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  • Christine Shuck

Plague Monkeys

Cough, hack, cough.

Damned plague monkeys.

Also known as CHILDREN.


The itty bitty one, now almost 11 months, brought home some kind of misery at the beginning of last week. He promptly infected the teen with the crud and they are only now just recovering. Now it appears that our 6 year old is falling ill, and, as fates would have it, me.


I'd be annoyed if he wasn't so darned cute.

Serious cuteness going on here!

I've been spending my days coughing, sucking on sore throat drops and grumpily putting together jigsaw puzzles. It turns out that our six-year-old loves jigsaw puzzles. She's already busting past the 48 count and 60 count jigsaw puzzles and firmly into the 100 count realm. And it won't be long before she is ready for something bigger.


It's my modus operandi... figure out what they are into and give it to them, in spades.


My eldest loved art. Sometimes my purchases were on the mark, other times they were something she would grow into. Oil paints. That got me the, "I don't know what to do with them." Complete with a concerned, half-frightened look.


I just shrugged. "Play around with them. Figure them out. Maybe you'll like them, and maybe not."


Feed kids' interests. Give them tons of different things to play around with. See what falls flat, and what sticks.


Rocking the Purple

I have my own colorist. He's quite talented. And no, I'm not sharing him, he's all mine! I also happen to be married to him, so there's that perk. I absolutely love the latest color. This is Amethyst Chrome from Got2B. And it kind of fits me to a T, y'know?


Keeping the Weight Off

I haven't said much, mainly because I've been fighting to keep my weight to the level I achieved back last fall. Every day, I get on the scale and see where I'm at. It isn't a "oh, you horrible slob, stop eating so much" weigh-in. Instead, it is a, "Well, I'm still at 190, and if I ever want to see 189, I know what I need to do." I spend about that much time thinking about it each day. Shame is never a good motivator. Instead, I am proud of the fact that 1) I lost 30 pounds last year and 2) with few exceptions, I've kept it off. Eventually, hopefully, I'll weasel it down another 10-20 pounds. Or not. I refuse to diet, or starve myself, but I have found that mixing in intermittent fasting has really helped keep me steady. This means I eat two meals per day with a couple of snacks thrown in.


This weight loss (and NOT gaining it back) has made a huge difference though. For one, I no longer snore. Not that there was any video/audio proof of this purported snoring you understand, but still, I was also, according to my husband, showing signs of sleep apnea, enough that he was rather concerned. That has gone away as well. My face has changed! It's far more slim than it had been 30 extra pounds ago.


Ha! Here is a picture from the last time I had the Amethyst Chrome color in my hair... in 2020!


Finally! A Project is Underway

After much dithering about, I've finally settled (yet again) on a book project. I finished schlepping the outline into shape yesterday, and dug into the Preface and the first two chapters today of Short Term Rental Success: Create Welcoming Five Star Stays. I might futz around with the subtitle a bit, but yeah, it is underway. I hope to be done by mid-August since I've already accumulated some 31k words in it so far. Crossing my fingers and toes that I can make that happen.


The I Bought A $25 House (and so can you) book will wait. Maybe until right after the STR book, and maybe much longer. We'll see.


Do The Right Thing

Across the street from our house is an old apartment building. Built circa 1910 or so, it is a lovely brick building and has eight, one-bedroom units in it. I had hoped to buy it, but when we looked at borrowing the money to do so, I was stopped in my tracks by the roof. It's 20+ years old and everyone I talked to said it would have to be replaced before any funding could be approved.


And even so, although I had asked the owner at the time to keep us in mind if he ever decided to sell, he didn't. The first we learned of its sale were workmen showing up to do some basic upgrades.


That was around a year ago.


We know several of the residents. They are good people on limited income who desperately need a place to stay. With soaring rents, they have zero options. Worse, there are some serious issues going on with the building that need addressing. A leaking water heater has turned the floor spongey and is beginning to erode the support beams in the basement. When they mentioned it to the management, they were threatened. "Report us to Codes and we will evict you."


This makes me ill. Being a landlord, providing housing to people no matter what their social status or income is, comes with deep, abiding responsibilities. It isn't hard to do the right thing. In fact, it is easier in the long run. How can you make any long-term income off of anything that is degrading? Fix it! Keep the cash flow coming!


The other day, my long-term renter of our house down south of Kansas City reached out to me and let me know the a/c wasn't completely up to snuff. It wouldn't cool the house to anything less than 78 degrees. I made a call. The HVAC service we have used in the past was able to see them, same day, and fix the problem. I asked the renter if there were any other problems we needed to be made aware of. Lo and behold, the fence on the property needed some fixing. A gate had come loose. I added that to our weekend to-do list and asked her to send pictures.


I'd like to take a moment and mention that I still do not have central air in my home. Hopefully it will happen soon, before the temps rise to unacceptable levels again, but whether I have it or not is truly beside the point. My renter signed a lease with me for a home that has central air. I am legally (and morally) obligated to provide it.


These fixes are small prices to pay. They are the cost of doing business, of owning a home. As a landlord, I expect my tenants to:

  • Keep the property relatively clean and pest-free and the lawn mowed in the summer

  • Notify me of any issues that need fixing on the property

  • To pay their rent on time every month

It isn't rocket science. It's simple. I provide the property and am compensated for it. The renter lives in a well-maintained property and pays a market-appropriate rent. End of story.


I worry about my neighbors. I wish I knew what to do, or a way to make it better. Eventually, once we are debt-free, Cottage West and Cottage East (still under renovation) will become long-term rentals. But that is years away. Possibly ten or more. It makes me wish I had moved here a decade sooner, or had far more disposable income than I do.


So that's it. My two cents. I'm going to go back to bed now. Hope you are doing (and feeling) better than I am!

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