Monday, October 20, 2014

Oh, it's been a long time....

since I last updated.   I've been to SanDiego/LosAngeles for a fun wedding and visits with friends, to Las Vegas for a conference with my husband which confirmed all my thoughts about Las Vegas and now am heading to the beach.  In between I've made a million trips to the grocery for my father, mowed the lawn every week, done laundry continuously, and gotten lots done on two big knitting projects. 

This trip to the beach has trememdous potential, either for a great time or a disaster.  For one week of my trip I'm being joined by three friends.  One is a very close friend who has been to the beach with me many times and we have developed a great rhythm.  We basically are friendly roommates and don't feel like we have to do everything together all the time.   She feels comfortable rummaging through the pantry and refrigerator to find lunch and doesn't expect me to play hostess.  It's kind of like living with a sister.  I have not traveled with these two other friends except for short 2-3 day trips.   One of them is a total space cadet and the other talks incessantly.  I've tried to write out a couple of beach emails nicely giving them the lay-of-the-land on how this trip should operate, i.e. "breakfast cereal, muffins, coffee, etc will be available but you will need to serve yourself.   Lunch meat, bread, fruit etc will be in the fridge for you to find when you are hungry for lunch. We will share dinner duty so bring a favorite easy recipe."  Do I think they will do any of this?  No so I'm relying on friend #1 to set the tone and show them how to do it. And to tone down our talker I'm thinking of starting and ending my day with short yoga and meditation time and ask them to join me.  That should buy us all at least 45 minutes of quiet time. twice a day.  I'll let you know how it goes.  But any day at the beach makes me happy so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow when I'll get to put my feet in the sand.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


My plumbing experiences put me behind so now I need a list to help me get caught up.

1.  Call Harry to firm up LA plans so I can get better idea of date/time for Hearst Castle tickets.

2. Talk to children about plans for Miami wedding trip.  Who is coming and when so I can make house reservations for us all?

3.  Make Miami house reservations.

4.  Hostess gift for Jack and Susie - What to take that I can carry on an airplane?  Virginia peanuts, jams, and wine but that is heavy and takes a lot of space.  Or maybe that is fine because then I'll have space in the suitcase to go shopping in California.

5.  Send note to Florida Sharon welcoming her to the beach and letting her know  when I'll be down.

6.  Get Daddy Arena Stage tickets.

7.  Order yarn for Christmas gifts.  Hope I have to time to get them made.  At least I've selected patterns using chunky yarn!

8.  LA rental car reservation.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

We have been experiencing a sewer line odyssey which has now resulted in me having three different plumbers on speed dial. We've lived in this 48 year old house for 35 years so I guess we were living on borrowed time.

First there was the hydro-jetting person aka Plumber #1 who cleaned our original blockage last September.  They ran 18 psi water through the entire line to clean and flush out everything.  Then they ran a camera through the lines and declared that we had "belly" which is where the pipe is sagging and consequently you have a constricted flow-through.  So, basically we were now on notice that this was not going to last forever. Another blockage this June made us realize we had to get serious about getting this fixed.  I called the same hydro-jetting company and this time when they ran the camera upon completion they didn't find a belly but they did determine that the pipes were very rough and corroded, not unexpected for cast iron that has  been in use for almost 50 years.  After getting some estimates for pipe replacement in an effort to be proactive before the next blockage we had our pipes replaced from the house to the street by Plumber #2.  To replace all the way to the sewer main requires huge amounts of money and posting a $20,000 bond with the county for 15 years.  You don't do that unless you are absolutely positive that it is necessary and no one thought we had that level problem.

Two weeks ago today we had the work done and I felt so good that we could once again use the garbage disposal, shower, do laundry, and flush simultaneously!  That euphoria was short lived. Yesterday when I went into the laundry room I realized that water was backing up into the floor drain again and the sewer had backed up into the downstairs toilet and shower.  ARGHHH.    I immediately called the people who installed the new pipe (Plumber #2) to say "HELP!" but the woman in the office didn't get back to me with any promise of help so I called yet another plumber to to see if he could figure out what was really wrong.   By now it is late afternoon and we have no working plumbing in the house so I called Plumber #3, Larry and Anthony.

Plumber #3 heard the quiet desperation in my sweet Southern voice.  When I really desperately need something I unconsciously revert to my mother's soft Kentucky accent and people do seem to be nicer to you.  (My children call it my "Grannie voice" because it is the accent I had growing up and when speaking with my mother.  I learned to speak more unaccented English when at work.) Well, thankfully Plumber #3 speaks with the same Appalachian accent because he said "I'll be there in an hour."   

Larry and Anthony aka Plumber #3 were a strange couple.  Larry is a small, wiry older man, probably in his 70's, and clearly from Southern Virginia or thereabouts, and Anthony is a young man who is extremely personable but you can tell he is just a tiny bit slow.  If I had to guess I'd say he's a grandson or nephew.  Larry directs and Anthony works and you can tell that Larry is trying hard to build his confidence and let him do things on his own.  So while Larry and I chatted on the front porch, Anthony ran a huge plumbing snake through my pipes and worked hard to burst through the clog.  None of us could figure out what could possibly have caused such a clog in under two weeks.  It's not like I have kids that throw baseballs and Barbie dolls down the toilets.  During my chat with Larry he heard my whole tale of woe and I learned a lot about drains and sewer pipes.  It will come in very handy with what happened next.  

As soon as Larry and Anthony left, Plumber #2 showed up!  I explained that since I had not heard back from the office manager I had contacted another plumber to get the clog cleared.  He offered to run a camera through it to see if they could find why it had clogged.  Well, we found the problem  - a giant rock about 1/2 the size of the sewer pipe is out in the pipe under the street.  Hmmmmmmm..... how did that get there?  Plumber #2 and I have conflicting opinions.  He thinks maybe there is a break in the bottom of the pipe exposing some rocks and gravel and the rock came from there.  I tried to explain the laws of physics and that the rock could not have jumped or floated up into the pipe.  My theory is that it got in during there construction and then got pushed further into the pipe when I had the pipe snaked.  

Only after he left did I get to cleaning the downstairs bathroom.  First I flushed the commode and put in LOTS cleanser, then I turned on the shower to try to wash some of the muck down the now cleared drain.  The shower would not drain.  Apparently the back-up caused a local clog in the shower pipe.  So this morning another call to Larry and Anthony to get the shower unclogged.  He again came in about 2 hours and Anthony worked and Larry and I talked about the rock.  Larry agrees with me and gave me some ideas on what they can do to get it out so that when I call the company that Plumber #2 works for I can speak with some authority on getting it out of there.  

So now I have a call into Plumbing Company #2 and will wait to see what they have to say about the situation.  Maybe they will be embarrassed enough about leaving a giant rock in the line that I won't have to change to my "don't mess with me" accent.

Final, I hope, update:   Plumber #2 called in Plumber #4 to clear out rocks and debris that were left in line.  He jetted it and we looked through the camera, twice, to make certain it was clear to the main.  I have now resumed flushing, laundry, and using the dishwasher.  He assured me I could do it all simultaneously!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friend Fatigue

I believe I am suffering from 'friend fatigue'.   You know, that feeling that you are constantly listing to the concerns and complaints of friends, struggling to find the nice words they want to hear, taking on the obligations that they need from you.  It's not that they don't appreciate it because they do.  But you finally are just momentarily tired of it. If they really, really needed you, you'd be there in a heartbeat, but they keep needing you for things that they don't really need you for.  Does that make sense?  To listen to the small slights by a daughter-in-law; complaints about the boss that was too bossy; the constantly too busy, over-scheduled friend who uses that to show how important she is, especially compared to you who always makes time for her.  I thought my extra week at the beach would cure me of this but it hasn't.  I want to tell these 60 year old people to grow up and act like adults.  This is not high school and things don't always work the way we want them to.  Your daughter-in-law is not going to be your daughter and the more you push the more she will push back.  Your boss is right - you are a crybaby and you should just put your big girl panties on and move past it.  If you don't have time for me then stop making dates and then changing/cancelling them - when meeting with me is a priority then call me but don't have me put you on the schedule and then switch it at the last minute.  I, too have a life.

OK, so this is a complaint and that's what I'm complaining about.  And I apologize.  But you can stop reading anytime you want. And now, complaint over.  I'm going to go meet with friends at the pool.

Monday, July 07, 2014

lunch and name-dropping in the afternoon

Yesterday we visited some acquaintances from our former life.  We knew them through Charlie's position and attended business functions, which were disguised as social events, with them a couple of times a year. These were the kinds of events where I spent the entire plane flight memorizing flash cards of names and rank, children's names, home locations, etc.  I am not naturally good at these things but I certainly know how to do them well, albeit with a bit of effort. This couple lives about an hour and a half from our beach condo and we had visited them a couple of times at their home.  Since Charlie left that position we had not seen them although he had kept in touch through mutual friends.  I had moved on with my life.

So, through a series of emails and events we re-established contact and made plans to get together for lunch. First up was to meet at their home - an amazing lakefront property which is exquisitely decorated and perfect in every way.  Not my style but definitely beautiful and she is an elegant and easy hostess.  She's had lots of practice as he had a minor political career.  After some snacks and really good lemonade we went to a  nice restaurant for lunch where we enjoyed the food and conversation.

Then came the strange part.  Their community is full of amazing homes and the big names that go with that.   After lunch, as we drove through the streets of the community she would name who lived in each home - a basketball player here, a football player there, a bank president on this corner, a well-known politician that corner........This went on for about an hour!  The funny part is I don't follow sports so had only a vague notion of who the sports figures were.  I live in DC so I'm not impressed by politicians, and "Carrot Top" is one of the worst comedians ever.  And I'm not a fan of conspicuous consumption (do people use that term any more?).

I'm still wondering why this was the "entertainment" for the day instead of nice walk down the cute little streets of the town after lunch, or back to their home for coffee and conversation.  Any theories?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Let's talk about HOT

When I was growing up we had no air conditioning.  Finally, once I was in college my parents bought a window unit for THEIR bedroom and occasionally I would sneak in and let the cool air blow on my face but that was about as close to air conditioning as I got until I had my own apartment.  We survived by having a big back porch and lots of trees and a neighborhood swimming pool. As a kid my day was 1) go to pool for swim team practice, which I loathed but everyone was on swim team so I was too, 2) go home and play Monopoly in the basement with friends until after dinner when 3) you went back to the pool to cool off before going to bed.  Often I slept on the porch, and I do remember being hot but it was just a fact of life.

Then when my kids were young they followed pretty much the same schedule except come August, when the temps were consistently 90+, I would relent and turn on the air conditioner.  We did have central air conditioning in the house but I figured I'd survived my entire childhood without so they could too, and when they complained I told them they were "storing heat for winter" when they would look back fondly at the summer heat.  I'm not certain that the really bought that.

Now it is only JUNE and I have the air conditioning on!  We are already having long stretches of 90+ days and, although it does cool off a bit at night, it is so humid that even the whole house fan doesn't keep things cool.  This is my own personal indicator of climate change.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

busy, busy, busy

This is what my next two weeks look like.  I barely have time to breathe but what fun!  And at the end of the two weeks I get to go to the beach for July 4th and have another party with beach friends.  Can you tell that I love a good party?
  1. Clean first floor and clean up front garden TODAY before Daddy comes for Father's Day dinner tomorrow, - DONE
  2. Grocery shop for tomorrows dinner - sweet potatoes, irish potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green beans, buy roast chickens at Costco.  Dessert???? DONE
  3. Buy a nice rose bush for LaV to acknowledge her mother's death.  I know that relationship was way more complicated than I'll ever know. DONE
  4. Call All-American and discuss estimate for sewer line replacement.  Yes, the sewer line backed up for the second time in a year so I think the time has come to either reline the pipe or install a new "burst" pipe.  I have more knowledge of sewer systems that I should have to have at this point.  Last time they cleaned out the pipe they said it had "belly" and was Orangeburg pipe, both bad things when it comes to replacement.  This time the person didn't see the "belly" and said it was cast iron.  This must be resolved before we start the reline vs replace decision.  If you want to discuss sewer pipes, I'm your woman.  Definitely pipe bursting.  Now need to decide which company to do the work.
  5. Call Sharon for a lunch date next week. done and enjoyed happy hour with her!
  6. Get ready for Saturday BBQ party.  Small group - need burgers and dogs, buns, chips, appetizers, drinks. Dat is bringing Rotel dip!, Gordon bringing beans, Sally a salad, and actually don't know if anyone else is coming.  If not, then I'll buy some potato salad and make some brownies for dessert.  Taking a break from the set up now.   Hope the weather clears a bit.
  7. Clean porch for party. Remove screens and scrub off bird shit.  The bird shit remains.
  8. Buy some more plants to fill in holes now that daffodils have died back.  DONE
  9. Get ready for Wednesday party for Margie's retirement.  Chili baked chicken, rice, refried beans, chips, margaritas.  Send an email to remind people.  Email sent. 
  10. Clean upstairs and freshen guest room for Steve and Vicki's arrival. 
  11. Plan a tourist day for Steve and Vicki once I hear back on their interests.  Plan a couple of dinners, Friday we can go out to dinner after Udvar-Hazy tour.
  12. Call "other Sharon" to see what her plans are for July 4th at the beach.  Plan an introductory party for her to meet some of my friends?  Steve and Vicki, Gordon and Eileen, Howard and Janis, Linda. I wonder who will be in town that week?  "other Sharon will not be in Florida yet so postpone party plans.
  13. Go to spa and get a pedicure before leaving for Florida!  Made hair appointment for Tuesday and now need pedicure appointment.  That can wait until after Steve and Vicki leave.