Saturday, November 08, 2014

I'm in need of a list

Before retirement my entire life was driven by the calendar and deadlines - calendars for family, children and work, and work deadlines that hit daily, sometimes multiple times each day.  My retirement gift to myself was a watch with just hands, no numbers, since it would now be unnecessary to plan my schedules to the minute, but occasionally I find my life drifting a bit out of control and a list helps ground me.  So...,..,
1) Today/tonight - make potato casserole for Friendsgiving tonight Mashed potato casserole was good and very easy do-ahead.  Will make again for T-giving
2) Tomorrow - Daddy to church @ 10 am.  Breakfast to follow.  Maybe take him to Momma's Kitchen?  Nope, he's already objected to that.  After much discussion I fixed breakfast for us at home.  It was fine.
3) Monday - Daddy dermatologist appointment; stop by hearing aid people for new wax baskets
2) Tuesday - hair appointment, then off to threading lady.  Book Club in evening.Added some chores for Daddy in the afternoon.
3) Wednesday - morning eye appointment and pack for wedding. - DONE
4) Thursday - early flight to beach DONE
5) Friday - drive to Miami collecting children along the way Had nice lunch with girls in Ft Lauderdale at a restaurant on the beach.  
6) Saturday, Nov 15 - wedding - Great fun, LOTS of dancing.
7) Sunday -  lunch at Versaillles  Tried a new restaurant within walking distance of condo - Havana 1957.  Terrible waitress, good food
8) Monday - drive back to beach dropping children and husband at airports along the way DONE
9) Tuesday - day at beach - and condo meeting in the evening.  Charlie at home to take daddy out to dinner  Actually cold windy day and I spent it getting the car repaired for the trip home.
10) Wednesday - drive home from beach day#1  Done
11) Thursday - drive home from beach day#2   Done along with a stop at the pharmacy for refills and a trip to the commissary to shop for Thanksgiving
12) Friday - Daddy groceries and errands And took Daddy to his new activity at the Senior Center - a group discussion of Memories of New York City - which is held monthly.
13) Saturday, Nov 22 - Drive to Pennsylvania for family get-together with Charlie's uncle
14) Sunday - Daddy breakfast
15) Monday - shop for Thanksgiving and Daddy dermatologist appointment @ 3:15
16) Tuesday - day off????
17) Wednesday - set table, make sweet potatoes, etc.  Daddy to dentist @11 am
18) Thanksgiving dinner
19) Friday - neighborhood dessert
20) weekend? no activities?  YES!
21) Saturday, Dec 6 - cookie baking day with Clara
22) Dec 10 - send Noche Buena invites
23) Friday, Dec 12 - Sunday, Dec 14 - Yogaville weekend with Judy
24) Monday, Dec 15 - start planning/cooking for Noche Buena - invites must go out earlier?  Get that date on the calendar!
25)  Tuesday, Dec 16 - hair appointment @10:30

Also, need to coordinate Christmas plans with children and get plane tickets for them.  And I have completely ignored the need to decorate the house and put up a tree.  ARGHHHH.  And what about getting the leaves raked?  Why did Adelio return to Central America? (maybe it was the impossible immigration policies??????)  Oh, and I have to reschedule my dental appointment and reschedule daddy's dental appointment.   And I have three large, really large, knitting projects to finish before Christmas!  and maybe buy a few Christmas gifts, too! 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

The quiet at the end...

This past week three friends were enjoying "beach week" with me.  I had some trepidation about having four women spend a full week together but it turned out to be great fun. Yes, we each had some annoying habits but it all worked out just fine.  At the beginning of the week I used my best Girl Scout Leader skills to establish rules and expectations.  They made a bit of fun of me at the time but I think it helped keep me from constantly explaining stuff and for them to understand that I really did want them to treat the condo as though they were at home and not to feel like a guest.   They mastered all the rules except for keeping food put away, counters clean and dishes in the dishwasher so I kept putting glasses into the dishwasher and wiping the counter. They would then rush in and say "Oh, I was going to get to that later."    Since I want to keep my home bug free, and in Florida that is no small accomplishment, "later" wasn't working for me, but everything else worked great.

We all have very different styles of enjoying ourselves but we seemed to make it work fine.  Friend #1, a much closer friend to me than the other two, is a beach, pool and sun worshiper.  She does not want to be inside if the sun is shining.  She has been here many times before so she was no worry to me.  Friend #2 didn't even own a bathing suit when she arrived.  After one day here we were in a little discount shop and she found a cute bathing suit so that she could go into the pool.  I think she felt that she was very daring! Friend #3 we have always though of as very adventurous and up for any activity and I found that she is not nearly as brave as she seems. No kayaking for her, even as a passenger in my two person kayak in a river with no current and so shallow I can stand up in it!  But she did help wash the kayaks when we were done.

Once everyone got the idea that we had only three planned activities - a trip to Historic Cocoa Village for shopping, a visit to Winter Park for the Morse Museum and lunch, and a massage for a totally relaxing experience - they settled into to enjoy the beach-pool-nap-read experience that is the beach. We had perfect weather and enjoyed drinks on the porch every night.

Our shopping trip was real boost to the local economy as Cocoa Village has a number of little boutique style stores that have very reasonable prices.  We each bought something special.   One friend traded in her baseball cap for a fabulous brimmed hat that makes her look adorable.  I got a fancy new top and bling-ey jewelry for the wedding I'm attending in a couple of weeks.  I think we all declared the day a success.  The Winter Park field trip is always a hit because no one ever expects a fabulous museum of Tiffany glass and other American crafts and pottery art in the middle of Central Florida.  It is fabulous place and if you are ever in the area is a must-see. The only activity that concerned me a bit was my plan for us all to get massages at the massage school.  To be licensed the students must perform a certain number of massages under supervision.  It's $25 for a one hour massage and you just can't beat it.  When you enter this concrete strip mall building you have no idea that they will have soft lights, relaxing spa music, and you will experience one of the best massages you'll ever hope to have.  One friend had never had a massage so I explained the entire process so she would feel comfortable.  When she emerged from her treatment room I could tell she absolutely loved it!  It made me happy that we all enjoyed it so much and I could tell from the comments afterward that they weren't sure they were going to like it going in.

When I dropped them at the airport last night I was sorry to see them go, but I am enjoying the quiet today and getting the house back in order.  We all said we'd like to do beach week again next year so that seems to be a good indication of a successful week.

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?