So Ends an Exciting Week!

A lot of stuff was rolled into one week.  We had snow, 3-day work week, Thanksgiving, power outage, Black Friday... Lots of stuff.

The snow we had was fun.  It didn't create much of a problem for me though.  I left for work early each of the three days that I worked, and I made it there just fine--Early each time.  Monday was crazy though.  Apparently, the snow crippled the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett area so badly that some people spent over 13 hours getting home, arriving finally after 2 in the morning.  Many of those didn't even make it with their vehicles.  There were vehicles abandoned everywhere--Freeways, highways, city streets, and rural roads.  I guess there are lessons in there somewhere, but I doubt if anyone learned anything.  Next time it snows they'll probably do it all over again the same way.  The best thing any of those folks could have done that day/night was to just grab a nice, convenient motel and camp.  The next day (Tuesday) the roads were so devoid of traffic it was downright pleasurable for the rest of us.  It was a good day of $$$ for tow trucks, body shops, tire stores, and any other business that was related to vehicular misfortune.

As I said, Tuesday was so much better because traffic was nil.  The weather was so nice I was sorry to be at work.  Sue texted me and said I was the only one of "our people" here in the neighborhood that went to work.  I believe it.  Even at work only two thirds of the people showed up.  It was bright, sunny day and most people stayed home and made the best of it--Playing with their kids and being kids themselves.  Sue got lots of great pictures of the various family members having fun.  I wished I was one of them!  Oh well--I already had to deal with a forced 3-day work week because of Thanksgiving.  Our shop is closed on Friday, but it's unpaid.  I didn't want to shorten my paycheck even more by playing hooky when I only work one town away.

Wednesday was cold.  Way cold.  Suzie and I enjoyed a crisp, cold soak in the hot tub on Tuesday night, and as a precursor to Wednesday it was already somewhere around 8 or 10 degrees.  That made for a great night of hot tub stargazing though because the sky was so clear.  Stepping out onto snow from that nice, hot water was quite a shock, but we had the woodstove blazing so we were able to go quickly from one comfort zone to another.

During these snow days I had fun on the newly-acquired Honda 3-wheeler.  I was out riding each evening of the 3 snow days we had, and had a great time zooming around the neighborhood.  Wednesday, I stopped on the way home from work and picked Sarah up.  She enjoyed a good time on the 3-wheeler herself.  Actually, I think we crammed a pretty good evening in on her schedule.  She got 3-wheeler riding (solo and as passenger both), cold-night hot-tubbing, enjoyed homemade soup, and relaxed by the blazing woodstove.  It was a good visit all the way around.

Thanksgiving at my parents' house was predictable, which means it went well.  Nothing unusual happened there.  One little tidbit of health news from mom & dad:  Dad is going in for a prostate biopsy.  That's usually not so good, but in this case might be fine--It is early they think.  Sarah had to work until about 4:30 so she showed up after that.  There was still food and stuff for her though.

Sarah and her mom, and their friend Noelle were planning their big shoppers feeding frenzy, a.k.a. Black Friday.  This year was crazy--Almost all of the real competitive stores were open at midnight.  Some never closed.  It was a new "flavor" of retail chaos.  Sarah and them never did go to sleep, instead going from store to store in their planned order of attack (I think they actually do have a battle plan when they do it).  Reports trickled in from Sarah via cell phone messages at various times of the wee hours:  "(at 2:20am) Don't come to Walmart--Nuts. (at 5:33am) This sucks--There's a million people out here."  She said they didn't even try to get into Kohl's because it was such a mob scene.  No thanks man--I'll shop Black Friday online.  I believe this may be the end of the traditional "Black Friday" as we know it.  When all the ads are posted in advance, stores don't close or are open at midnight, and shopping deals are available online--What's the point?  It's ridiculous.

What would Thanksgiving be without a power failure?  This year was no exception.  Halfway through a lot of people's cooking time (around noon I think it was) the power went out.  Apparently someone hit a pole somewhere in an outlying area.  When I got home from my folks' house at about 7, the power was still out, but our house was toasty.  Some folks in Sues congregation that live right around the corner were here, bathing in the warmth of our woodstove.  Actually, it was downright hot in the house!  The power stayed off until about 10 or 10:30 I think.  The 5 of us (Keith was here too) played games at the kitchen table all evening.  It was fun.

Most of the snow is gone.  Suzie and I took a drive out a ways yesterday but it was more of the same--Very little snow left.  Hopefully it will all be gone by the time the next wave of weather rolls in, Then we can do it all over again!

Snow Day Poem

This one came to me while I was at work yesterday.  Sort of trickled into my brain little by little as the day wore on.

Snow Day
Alas, I have to rise and face
the weather even though
my common sense tells me not,
so off to work I go.
Over snow covered streets I drive my car
when winter rears its head.
Why can't I stay all snug and warm
tucked safely into bed?

Of course, I'd rather be a kid
and go sledding down the hills,
but the boss comes first and after all--
The income pays the bills.

A white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel
when traffic lights go stale;
I never know when or if they'll turn
or if my stop will fail.

Hopefully when I make it home
to spend evening by the fire,
I'll arrive with all my parts intact
for the relaxation I require.
Rick Williams

Winter Arrives in November

Winter is here, and it arrived with a vengeance.

It snowed pretty much all day yesterday. Because it was cold (upper 20's) it was pretty small snowflakes, but there was even wind with it. Had it snowed at 30-35 degree temps there would probably be more like a foot of snow out there right now instead of the 3-4 inches we appear to have.

We went out to the hot tub last night at about 7:45. Because it was snowing quite a bit we opted to swing the umbrella out over it and open it up. The wind was blowing the wispy, small snow into our faces and making the umbrella dance. That was pretty weird--Sitting under an umbrella and still getting wet. The overall experience was pretty good. The water, of course, was very nicely hot. It would have been much better as an experience if it was daylight so we could enjoy the white back yard. We had quite the shock when it was time to step out of the tub though. Putting those tender, toasty toes into ankle-deep snow was a shock to the system! We were extremely happy to have a blazing wood stove to warm our tootsies back up when we came in.

Before the daylight was completely gone I went out and gave the "new" old ATC110 3-wheeler its inaugural test run. It performed pretty well. I had a great time running around the neighborhood with the snow in my face for 15 or 20 minutes.  Watch me catch cold from it... (knock on wood).

Today should be a bit of a knuckle-biter driving to work. I'm fortunate that I leave early and don't have to drive far, but the downside of that is that it's still dark out. Oh well. I'll try to give myself an extra half hour this morning. That's funny considering it only takes 15-20 minutes to get to work in normal circumstances.

It was 59.5 degrees on the thermometer I have at my desk at work.  With nothing running over the weekend it gets pretty cold in there.  Thank goodness I have my space heater!  By the end of the day it was still only up to about 63 degrees.

I would venture a guess that my picture-of-the-day today will somehow involve snow...  What do you think?


I have been bitching about it for far too long, but I finally have heat in my area at work!

As easily as I made it happen makes me wonder why I dragged my feet so long.  I guess it's because the area I have for a work "cubicle" is really just a corner or whatever.  It's not a room.  Because of that fact there are no actual outlets for electricity.  Instead, there is a heavy-duty drop-down cord with a square 4-outlet box on the end that hangs down from the ceiling.  When I say heavy duty, I mean it's about 5/8" thick wire (or cable) which is big stuff.  I guess because it's not permanent it always seemed like an extension cord to me.  It's really not--It's more like building wiring but flexible.

Suzie and I were out at Walmart in Auburn last weekend and went by the heater section.  I saw these little Sunbeam ceramic heaters there for only $18 and I thought, "Hey, why not give one a try?"

Long story short:  It didn't blow any breakers on low (1000-watt).  I wanted to make sure before investing in an extension cord to put it in a more convenient spot.  Especially because it's the same outlet area/breaker  that our company computer routers are plugged into.  The next morning I tried it on high (1500-watt) with the same results.  No breakers popped, and no problems at all.  Good to go!

Now I have convenient heat in my area and all is right with the world.  For now that is.

Don't worry--I'll find something else to bitch about.

The Rift

It's funny how things can change so drastically in a short period of time.

Take for instance:  Just a short time ago Denny's house was practically the family's hub of existence.  Rachyl and Tony lived there with them, and there was an endless amount of activity there all the time.  From my perspective, there was rarely a time when there wasn't an excess of conversation going on, outside doors being left open, nobody knowing where anybody was or who was going to do what for dinner.  It was chaos.  It also seemed like they almost thrived on it sometimes though.

In a relatively short time, a lot of things took place that changed all that.  What has happened?

Rachyl and Tony moved out and have a beautiful home of their own near us on this end of the street.
Mark, Rachel, and their family are here from Utah and are living directly across the street from Denny and Heather in one half of a duplex.
At one point, Kevin and his two boys were drifting aimlessly, trying to put their lives in order after Shirley took leave on a personal quest to find herself.  Now they both are together doing wonderfully, and living in the other half of the same duplex as Mark and Rachel's family.
Most everybody is doing well in their own right and happily spending time in their own homes as most people do.

Except that now Denny's house is pretty much avoided.

It's unfortunate but it's true.  Due to some sort of inner turmoil that is bubbling away in Heather's head, there has been a huge rift blown into the family.  She is waging a war with Shirley--Over what exactly nobody knows.  Has something snapped in her head?  Is she unable to cope with the reality of being a responsible adult in charge of her home instead of being a roommate?  Is she just jealous?  Did something actually happen that nobody is aware of?  Has she got a sudden medical problem that's causing her to lash out?  I know that it's wreaking havoc on everyone involved, not the least of which being her husband Denny.

Denny doesn't know what to do so he remains busy on a project remodel that he's doing in his house.  The busier he can stay the better.  It seems whenever Sue tries to help Denny with something she gets caught in the middle of it.  After it happening more than once she has seemingly become lumped into the enemy category with Shirley (at least in Heather's mind).  Fortunately Heather can't see our house when she looks out her front window or she'd probably be taking her frustrations out on our possessions when nobody was watching like she has allegedly done to Kevin and Shirley.

When will it stop?  How will it stop?  Will it stop?

Poor Mark and Rachel--Here from Utah to be with what was a tight-knit, loving family--Now forced to occasionally observe and hear things that nobody's family should have to endure, just because of their close proximity to the whole mess.

Shirley as turned into one of those moms that just loves being a mom.  She posts pictures of her culinary creations on her Facebook page, loves taking part in PTA things at Joe's school, and totally dotes on her husband and family.  She used to be the one we shook our heads sadly at from time to time as she struggled to find her place in life.  She has had some things happen in her life that shouldn't happen to anybody.  She has explored things, places, and herself.  Apparently the nonstop "bad luck" that she had in recent history has caused her to open her eyes.  Her epiphany is to everybody's benefit.  She is now a family member.  She is still uniquely Shirley, but that just seems to add to her appeal now.

Heather's had a constant barrage of outbursts.  We never know where or when.  I am lucky to have only witnessed a couple of them, but she has sent Suzie home shaking and fearful of what may happen. She has vowed to stay with her parents "until [Shirley] moves out" and does seem to be there every night, but just when you think it's safe to visit Denny guess who shows up.  She has become adept in speeding away in anger--Sometimes with Hunter--Sometimes alone.  Not only should she not even be driving (she has no license), but she shouldn't be driving in her mental state.  Shirley finally had to step up and file a restraining order to protect them from her, and even the cop that served the papers was scared of Heather.

It's just all wrong.  I can't wait for this to end and neither can Suzie.  It causes her more turmoil than people can imagine.  This is her family.  These are her babies.  I'm sick of it.  We're all sick of it.

Wednesdays and Water

My parents live just 10 or 15 minutes away.  They've been trying to visit for what seems like a month now, but for one reason or another can't seem to make it happen.

Apparently, Wednesdays are their choice of a day to visit.  The first time mom called, she asked if we were going to be around.  I had to explain that I had a dentist appointment in about two hours.  She said she'd try again another day.  The appointment I had was for a "deep-cleaning", and unknown to me (or it was probably explained to me but I immediately forgot as I sometimes do) it is seldom a one-visit thing.  Sure enough, they got half my mouth done that night and I scheduled my next dental visit for the following Wednesday (that's the one day a week that they're open much later).

Guess what day mom called again?  Yep, Wednesday.  I felt bad, but what could I do?  Well, the cleaning worked out well, but a small filling was needed so I scheduled an appointment for the following Wednesday.

Are you starting to see a pattern here?  Yep, my mom called yet again!  I don't remember the details of when she called, but I know that I was embarrassed that I had to tell her the same thing for the third time.  I asked myself if she would ever try again.  I know I would probably write Wednesdays off the list under my name if it was me...

This week we decided to make it up to them and invite them up for dinner on Wednesday.  Sue has a recipe for a few killer soups, and she was going to make them the best of the bunch.  Well, some unforeseen family drama down the street reared its head on Tuesday night.  The drama itself wasn't exactly unforeseen, but the level that it escalated to certainly was.  Suzie, being the mom, is also very often the mediator to such things--Sometimes requested and sometimes not.  It's her.  It's what she does.  She ended up not getting to sleep until very late, and didn't sleep well or for very long.  She texted me at work and asked me to postpone my parents visit.  She just didn't have the energy for all the preparation and such.  I understood of course, and after several tries, finally got my mom on the phone and apologized.

I wonder what she thinks?

It's just as well they didn't come.  I took my truck to work yesterday to pick up a bunch of scrap wood with, and while I was loading it up after work Suzie called.  The city of Covington had come by to replace our defective water shutoff at the meter, and as soon as they started working on it, a mysterious leak (a somewhat major one) magically appeared above it (on our side).  Well, they got their work all done and we tore into our driveway.  Now there is a hole in the driveway and we have no water.  I wish I would have followed my first inclination and worked at it last night to finish it, but Suz insisted we just get it apart, clean it up, and assess what we needed to buy or do.  Fortunately for us, Tony and Rachyl live right across the street so Sue can still get whatever water she needs today, but I don't have that luxury at 4:30 in the morning.  At least I got my coffee pot filled at their house before I went to bed.  Priorities you know.

As much as I hate (hate, hate, HATE) emergency repairs of any kind, at least it didn't happen in the middle of winter.