Sunday, November 30, 2008

Exorcist Wanted

My kitchen is possessed.

As noted in the last post, the fridge freezes things. Not always, mind you. Only when repair people aren't around.

The first repair visit was a fiasco. The guy reshuffled the top shelf and left.

I called back. On the advice of the Sears phone rep, I bumped up the temperature in the freezer and waited for the return of the repair guy, promised for the next day.

He never came. Sears had several versions of why not, but it's clear that he just blew me off. Would next week be good for me?

Unpleasantness ensued, punctuated by decidedly unladylike language.

So they rescheduled for the next day, when Younger Son would have to supervise again. By then, the fridge temperature was fine (because the freezer was set too high) and there wasn't any frozen food (because it's in the trash) so the guy left without touching it again. He offered to order a new thermostat, probably just to shut me up.

I don't know what to do now. I'd love to return the thing, but there's a scratch already, probably from Gatsby jumping on top of it, plus a hefty restocking fee.

Whatever its issue is, it seems to have infected the new stove. That was working great until Thanksgiving day, when the oven started overheating. Between the too-cold fridge and the too-hot oven, I ended up with fifteen pounds of turkey jerky. If you soaked it in gravy long enough it was edible, but this was not the holiday experience I was hoping for.

In the process, the nonstick finish bubbled and chipped off my Kitchenaid turkey roaster pan. I loved that pan. It's never been used on the stovetop, and the oven wasn't that hot.

Meanwhile, the first time I tried baked potatoes in the new microwave, it overheated and burned out. Lowe's said they'd never seen that happen before. I'm afraid to use the replacement.

We've also had to exchange a dehumidifier that wasn't taking accurate readings ... and a carbon monoxide detector that wouldn't light up ... and curtains that weren't actually the length the package said they were. Even a loaf of bakery bread I bought for the holiday was solid, inedible dough inside.

So what the hell? Am I under some kind of appliance curse, or is everything just made like junk now?

P.S. We managed to have a great Thanksgiving anyway, which just goes to show you that it's not about the stuff. As long as there's family and love, the rest is just gravy. So to speak. Hope your holiday was wonderful too!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just Shoot Me. Please.

OK, so here we are on final countdown to the biggest, most complicated, most emotionally loaded meal of the entire year, with company on the way, and my brand new, fancy schmancy, ridiculously overpriced refrigerator is freezing everything.

Yes, folks, I got your frozen celery, your frosty cheese, your solid-state salad dressings, your milk slushies ... whatever flavor of ice your little heart desires. I do not, however, have a turkey that is anywhere close to thawing out by Thursday.

Why me, God, why me?

After ten minutes of suffering through the robot phone lady and the holding pattern in the Sears service center, I convinced a rep that I had done all the tweakage recommended in the operating manual to no avail. Four days later, today, a service person was dispatched.

According to Younger Son, who supervised the process in my absence, the guy moved some bread away from a blower in the back of the fridge and declared the problem solved. Or, if not, we should "wait about four days to see if it gets better."

Oh HELL no. And now the thing is even colder.

Back on the phone after work, back through the robot lady, to another rep who -- miracle of miracles -- will send somebody out tomorrow. This will pretty much wreck my plans for my day off, but at this point I'm feeling lucky not to be waiting four days for the damn thing to make up its mind what temperature it wants to be. I already know what my temperature is: boiling.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dashing Through the Snow

Yesterday's dawn cast a rosy glow on the first snow of the season. Cold and clear and beautiful, it was nevertheless a day I had dreaded. Would I be able to get down the long, icy driveway in winter?

Past the pines at the top of the drive, taking it nice and slow...

A quick stop to admire the view...

One more curve to the left, and then it's a straight shot through to the main road. Where the real problems begin.

The driveway was a piece of cake, but it seems the snowplows don't consider our little back-road to be a high priority.

It's a good thing I allowed an extra 20 minutes to get to work, because I needed every one of them. I had to fly low once I hit the highway to make up the time. And this is just a couple of inches of the white stuff. Some years they measure it in feet around here.

I wonder where I could get a dogsled?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hello, Dolly

Pilot Son wandered into my office today and casually remarked that he'd found a man doll in the woods.

Me: "A what?"

He: "A man doll. It's made out of a black plastic garbage bag, and it's hanging from a tree."

Me: "You mean, like, a voodoo doll?"

He: "Nah. It's wearing a Carhartt jacket and a hunting vest."

This I had to see.

The last time I walked the woods, birds and squirrels were scolding from the thickets and golden leaves were whispering their goodbyes. Today it was strangely empty, silent except for the sound of distant gunfire. It is deer season, and all the wildlings are making themselves scarce.

At the far edge of the woods, just beyond our property line, this is what we found. We can only imagine that a hunter hung it there so that deer would become used to its presence, and might not be spooked at the sight of a real man in similar dress.

Creepy, is it not?

Whispers from the Cellar*

Once in a while, in my line of work, I find myself on the phone with a customer from my home state of West Virginia. Good natured banter always ensues, as we are a friendly and clannish folk. The customer relays news from home, and I dutifully lament my loss at having left the place. Yesterday, though, the usual script took a surprising turn.

At the end of the call, the client recited the first line of the West Virginia state song: "Oh the West Virginia hills, how majestic and how grand." To which I found myself adding, without hesitation, the next line: "With their summits bathed in glory like our Prince Immanuel's land."

Where the HELL did that come from? I haven't sung that song since grade school. In the '50s.

But wait, there's more: Today on public radio, I heard that researchers have discovered that baby boomer brains are still carrying around an extra load of carbon 14 from the nuclear bomb tests done when we were babies. Some parts of people regenerate completely over time, but the brain just keeps packing new stuff into its original equipment. Hmm. Permanent, radioactive memories. This explains so much.

So it seems I have reached the age where I can't remember whether I took a pill with the glass of water I am still holding in my hand, but factoids from half a century ago are on speed dial. Nature has a cruel sense of humor, and she loves to screw with old people.

*Reprinted from the other blog, Maraca.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wait, Wait, I'm Not Ready!

Me and my big mouth. I've been saying all along that I wanted this house to be a gathering place for family and friends. And I meant it, I really did, but I was kind of hoping to finish moving in before people started showing up.

Today the elder son asked if it would be OK if a friend of his came out this weekend to calibrate the new sight on his muzzle loader. Um ... OK, I guess, as long as he doesn't shoot any animals. And the younger son wants to have "a few people" in tomorrow night. Well ... I'm working Saturday, so as long as there's no loud music late, I guess ... plan on getting pizza though, 'cause I'm not cooking.

Having guests has always been kind of a formal thing in my family. Nobody ever got past my mother's front room without an invitation and/or a few weeks advance notice. The place had to be perfect, and clean, and stocked with homemade goodies before anyone could see it. Needless to say, we didn't have a lot of company.

On the other hand, I envy friends whose homes are always open and welcoming, where impromptu gatherings can happen at any time. That's the kind of place I want this to be. I'm just having a little difficulty getting past the fussy-hosting thing.

OK, big deep breath ... from now on, I'm saying YES.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Welcoming Committee
Havenwood Welcoming Committee

At long last we are officially, irrevocably moved in. And now that I'm here, I can't figure out what took me so long.

Friday, my brother in law and his wife arrived with a van, a fresh load of enthusiasm, good humor, and that family's typically boundless energy. Their arrival was like the sun breaking through storm clouds.

By the end of the day on Saturday, the four guys had packed, loaded, moved, unloaded, and set up all the big pieces, and we women had done the same with the contents of the kitchen and dining areas. My sister in law's goal was to have everything put away by quitting time, and to have no boxes left lying around. Due mostly to her determination and stamina, that's exactly where we stood at day's end. The place actually looks like a home now, and is organized well enough to be comfortable.

We topped things off with a well-deserved dinner at a local steak house. We hadn't been out to a restaurant dinner since we took on the new mortgage, and it felt like a real treat.

Sunday morning we christened the new stove with its first splatters of bacon grease and bread crumbs, and shared a big farm breakfast around our own kitchen table. We watched the deer between sips of coffee and laughter.

Errands, sorting, and rearranging occupied most of Sunday and Monday. There's a lot more stuff to sort through at the old place, but none of it is necessary. It can come over in small batches as we get to it, if it comes over at all. Goodwill may be in for quite a windfall.

Pilot Son has decided to try staying in the old house alone for a while, and is considering buying it from us. That could work out to be a win-win for all of us, given the current housing market.

Funny, isn't it, how dreading a thing can take more energy than the actual doing of it. And in the end, sometimes, if you're really lucky, it turns out there really wasn't anything to dread in the first place. It's been a long, long journey to get here. A whole lifetime, in fact. But it feels like we've finally come home.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Moving: We're Doin' It Rong

When my older son was a toddler, on a day when I was apparently asleep at the wheel, he decided it might be fun to poop on the bathroom carpet. So he did. And then, he tried to clean it up. I got involved at the point where loud wails began to emanate from behind the bathroom door. The kid, the carpet, and the walls were covered in poop, and all he could get out between sobs was, "I don't know what to do! I don't know what to do!"

So. It's kinda like that.

It's a week into the moving project, and all we've managed to do so far is to spread all of our s*** all over the place in two houses. And I don't know what to do.

The last time we moved ourselves, all our stuff fit in the back of a VW van. Every time since, hubby's company sent movers. A crew of burly men would descend on the house, wrap and box everything in the place, and load it into a truck. Our possessions would magically reappear a few days later in a new house in a new state, where a new set of burly men would perform the whole process in reverse. God, I miss those guys.

Part of this situation is due to a difference of opinion on how to proceed. My feeling was that we should move everything we don't need first, and keep the old place livable 'til the last. His approach involved tearing apart everything big and camping out in the new place while we reconstructed a workable home. As a result, nothing much has actually gotten moved at all.

We're down to the wire now. Relatives are arriving Friday night to help us load a rental truck. It would be good if we had it all in boxes to load by then. I'd say the odds are 50/50 at best.

I'm told this computer setup is getting packed tomorrow, ready or not. I've spent a few days throwing my body between the hubby and my desk, but there's just no way to fend him off any longer. So this may be the last post for a while. Pray for me.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Honey of a Blog: Linda's Bees

Linda's Bees is currently listed in Blogs of Note, and it certainly deserves the honor. I wish I had seen it before I gave away my beehive; I just might have held onto it.

Read just a few posts, and you'll see how fascinating beekeeping is. She has tons of great photos, too, up close and personal. I especially enjoyed the post where she dusts the hive with powdered sugar, and it looks like it's filled with little ghostie bees.

Check it out, why don'tcha?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Friendship Award

I'm honored to say that Kiva at Eclectic Granny tapped me for this friendship award. (Can you see I'm blushing?)

The award asks that we answer four questions:

1. Do you have the same friends since childhood?
I have two childhood friends whom I write at Christmastime, but we all live in different parts of the country now. I envy people who live in small towns and have lifelong friends nearby.

2. What do you value most about your friends?
I enjoy the companionship, and knowing that we're there for each other in a pinch.

3. Are your friends your sounding boards?
My online friends are my soundingboards, rather than my "real world" friends, interestingly enough.

4. What is your favorite activity to share with your friends?
I love to do lunch.

I'm passing this one along to three lovely ladies who stepped in this week to offer their encouragement and support when I needed it most. Faced with the reality of moving to the new house, I suddenly found that I needed a little hug and a shove. Special thanks and this award go to Spookydragonfly of Wishnik Woods, Ramblingwoods of Rambling Woods ~ The Road Less Traveled, and Sally at Sallyacious. Your loving replies meant more than you know.

P.S. OH! I want to add Kathy, AKA Mutualaide to the list, too. Kathy is a wonderful friend to have. If you haven't met her yet, you should stop by her place, Flamingo Feathers and say hi.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Synchronicity Strikes Again

Pearls Before Swine

Sometimes the universe plunks down what you need exactly when you need it. This was in this morning's paper. Ain't life a gas?