Saturday, May 10, 2014

Rental Property - Tub O'possums

My sister and I inherited a cute little rental house in Chicopee Village in Gainesville, Georgia. It has a really interesting history:

In 1927, the Johnson and Johnson company built the Chicopee textile plant on the site of the Hall County Farm and Convict camp. Along with the one story textile plant, about 200 brick homes were constructed. There were 3, 4 and 5 room homes for the employees and larger houses for the management personnel. The village had a school, a community store, a post office, a barbershop and a drugstore. Employees were issued script (coins) that could be used at the community store and the canteen at the plant.

My parents met while working at the Chicopee plant. My father was a machinist and my mother, a secretary. My father would find excuses to go into the office to see my mother. The first time he asked her out, she turned him down. He joined the camera club to get to know her. She finally relented and went out with him. After they married, they lived in their little 4 room house in the village. After they moved out, they kept the place as a rental property (which we inherited).

Jump back to the present...

When our prior tenants moved out, there was work to be done to get ready for new renters. We did what we could ourselves, but the bathroom needed work that was beyond our abilities. Our new tenant's father was a contractor so we struck an agreement to have him do the bathroom repairs in exchange for a couple of months' rent.

I was in Florida for Shrimp Fest while the bathroom repairs were going on. I got a call from Scott, the contractor-father. My immediate thought was, "Oh no...  Here we go... What now?" With a house this old, every repair uncovers another can of worms.

Scott said that when he was taking the tub out, he raised it up a bit and saw eyes looking back at him. He said, and I quote, "I dropped the bathtub, screamed like a girl, ran out and closed the door." He wanted to know what I wanted him to do. He said he thought the critter was an o'possum. He refused to do any more work until I did something about the critter.

I called my brother-in-law who was a science teacher. He took a trap over and retrieved 7 baby opossums from under the tub. He wasn't able to capture the mama opossum.

My brother-in-law and my niece had fun with the little fellows.

Once the tub was removed, they could see that there was a huge hole in the floor where the plumbing had been routed, giving the opossums an opening to come in and make their home under the tub. They had lined their little home with lots of leaves and sticks.

Scott, the contractor did a good job of closing in the hole around the new plumbing to prevent future opossum squatters.

The bathroom is finished now, complete with new tub, surround and sink, and most importantly is now an opossum free zone!

The baby opossums were deemed to be old enough to survive on their own so they were set free (I'm not sure where.)

Paws Awhile - Tony and Lola's Workspace

Lola was having trouble performing her duties as a watch-cat because the window sill was too narrow. Not only was it not comfortable, but she kept falling off. Tony solved the problem by adding a wider sill where Lola could work!

Lola loves her new workspace! She can monitor the beach and the parking lot.

Tony was also having trouble performing work while we were at Paws Awhile.  He tried to work remotely a few times but complained that there are too many distractions. Since the place is so small, we didn't want to dedicate a space for him to have an office but we needed to figure out how he could get away from the distractions. We found a drop down table at IKEA that would fit perfectly under the master bedroom window and could be folded away when he wasn't working. He could close the bedroom door and have some privacy while he worked and have an added bonus of being able to have a view of the beach from his "office".

Now Lucy and I can enjoy our time at the beach and not be bothered by Lola and Tony!  :)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Break-In at Paws Awhile

Sunday evening, after we said goodbye to our guests, we were sitting on the sofa at Paws Awhile and we heard a rattle at the door. Lucy started barking so we thought it was probably just a dog passing by. The door continued to rattle as though someone were trying to unlock it and then suddenly it opened and a man gave a surprised shout when he saw us in the condo. He pulled the door partially closed and shouted an apology, but he continued to stand there. I went to the door and found that when he had tried to jerk the door closed, he had embedded the key clip into his finger. We had to get the pliers to get the key clip out. We gave him some tissues and some ice and took the bloody key. 

He stood there and explained that he had just driven in from someplace up north (we don't remember where) and that he had rented one of the condos in our building. He asked us how he could find out which condo he had rented. He pulled a printout of what looked like an email from his pocket. I told him to go to the office downstairs and if no one was there, to call the after-hours number on the door. He looked a bit confused so I asked him if he had a cell phone and he said he did. I closed the door and we finished watching our movie.

We didn't think much more about it.  We assumed that when he had checked in, the manager had accidentally given him the wrong key so we didn't even ask him where he got the key. The key had the white tag on it with our unit number so we knew it was the one from the manager's office.

The next morning when I went to return the key, I talked to the managers and they said nobody was supposed to be checking in on Sunday. They didn't know who the guy is or how he had gotten the key. No one had called the after-hours number on Sunday evening. They speculated that he had gotten the key from one of the workmen, but none of the workmen should have a key. They are supposed to get it from the manager when they need to work there.

I spoke with Herb, the handyman, who had worked at the condo on Wednesday.  He had gotten the key from the manager Wednesday morning, but when he got ready to leave, no one was in the office so he returned the key to the lockbox next to the office.  The managers say that that box is locked and there is no way the guy could have gotten the key from the box.

So, it remains a mystery who he was and how he got the key. He didn't appear to be nervous at all about being caught breaking in. He told his story calmly and was in no hurry to get away. I wondered if he had been scammed by someone else who had rented him our place, except that he never called the after-hours number. 

He appeared to be somewhere between his mid-twenties to mid-thirties with long brown hair, of average height and weight. He was wearing khaki pants with his cell phone sticking out of a side pocket. If you know anyone who meets this description, would you ask them how they got our key?

Paws Awhile at Shrimp Fest!

With only 2 days until Shrimp Fest, there had still been no word from Herb the Handyman about our plumbing. We were expecting our friends Pat and Steve to come down and spend the weekend with us and I knew this would not be pleasant if we were still using the guest bath as our kitchen.  Thankfully, on Wednesday before we arrived on Thursday, Herb came through for us! Herb, Herb, he's our man!  If Herb can't do it no one can!

It turned out that our friends couldn't come until Saturday which was actually perfect because it gave us a chance to move the kitchen out of the guest bath and start getting the new kitchen set up and ready for prime time!

Everything in the condo was still covered in sheet rock dust, so we spent Friday dusting and cleaning. I ran all of the dishes through our new very quiet Bosch dishwasher. It is a tiny thing so it took about 7 loads to get everything through.  Then came the challenge of deciding where to put everything. It looks like we are going to have plenty of space, it is just a matter of figuring out what works.

We took a break for lunch and drove downtown to see if anything was going on at Shrimp Fest. Folks were just starting to set things up. We wandered around a bit and then stopped in to Cafe Karibo for lunch. We had Lucy with us so we were relegated to sit outside. It was drizzling a bit but we found a table under cover. The waitress fell in love with Lucy and brought her a slice of turkey. By the time we finished lunch, we had convinced the waitress that she needed to get both a chihuahua and a Savannah cat!

We met some friends at the Surf for happy hour.  The Surf has a fun rain policy called "When it Rains, the Surf Pours".  If the island gets 1/2 inch of rain, the Surf has happy hour all day.  There are increasing specials depending on how much rain the gauge indicates. With the exception of 2 spouses, everyone in our party had some connection to Waycross, Georgia. We decided that folks from Waycross are just FUN!

Saturday morning, Lola had an interview with the local paper at 9AM. When we were down a month or so ago, some people had seen us walking Lola on the beach and had told the wildlife reporter for the local paper about it. She posted a request in her article asking that anyone who knew anything about the cat contact her. I contacted her and we set up an appointment for Saturday morning. Thankfully when she got there it has not yet started to rain so we got to walk on the beach and she got some good pictures for her upcoming article.

Just after she left, the skies opened up and it poured rain for the rest of the day. We had lunch at the Tiki Bar at Sliders and then went back to Paws Awhile to wait out the rain.  It finally stopped around 2:30PM so we went to the Shrimp Festival. There were lots and lots of booths with fun arts and crafts. We sampled the shrimp and watched some of the award presentations and then met our other friends at the Salty Pelican.

Dinner Saturday night was amazing! Our friends Terri and Eddie have recently relocated to Fernandina Beach permanently. They bought a great house with an expansive deck where Eddie (from Argentina) installed a HUGE Argentinian grill. We had meat, meat and more meat! I made a key lime cake that was a big hit too!

Sunday, Lucy was feeling particularly frisky during our walk on the beach. I let her off of the leash (which is technically against the law), but she just loves to run at full speed. We met a little white dog named Sam who was also off-leash and they had a big time playing chase. When we got back to the condo Lucy was so exhausted she didn't even lift her head off of the pillow to beg to go out to lunch with us.

We walked down the beach to meet friends at Sliders and for a leisurely lunch. On the way back, we ran into more friends on the beach. Back at the condo, our guests packed up to leave and we settled down to watch a movie. That's where things got weird.  See my next post about the "break-in" at Paws Awhile - coming soon!