Friday, May 31, 2019

Summer cold

Two types of cold going on at my house:

1. The a/c is repaired....Hooray!!!! The best thing that's happened around here in weeks.

2. We're both sick with heavy colds. Is there anything more miserable than a cold virus during hot weather? Probably not much.

Yesterday at work I just wanted to crawl into a hole somewhere and die. I was miserable, what with sneezing, coughing, sweating, and body aches all while having to put on a pleasant face and run the front office. It was simply awful and the day dragged. I'm hoping today isn't just a repeat of that, but so far this morning I'm not very hopeful. I woke up feeling the same as yesterday.

At least it will be cool and pleasant in the house when I make it back home to collapse on the bed.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Warning: nothing but negativity today.

We're still waiting for our air conditioning to be repaired. I blew up at the person on the other end of the phone when I called the home warranty company for an update yesterday and she acted like she had no idea what was going on. After she refused to put her supervisor on the phone and told me to "call back tomorrow morning during business hours" I lost my cool and told her that if her supervisor didn't call me back first thing the next morning I was going to report them to the Better Business Bureau. Then I hung up on her and stomped into the kitchen.

Gregg: "Everything okay there, baby?"
Me: "I'm fine. Why?"
Gregg: "Because you never raise your voice like that."

Everyone always thinks that I'm "too nice". When I get mad and stand up for myself, people are usually shocked. Yes, I have a lot of patience. Yes, I'm very easygoing and it takes a lot to piss me off. But when I've had enough, I've had enough.

And it must have worked, because first thing this morning I got a call from the HVAC service the home warranty people are using, advising me that the parts to do the repair had arrived and someone will be out first thing tomorrow morning to finish the repair. Success! But I admit I spent hours stewing in my anger and frustration last night over this whole ordeal. It was 101 degrees again today, as it has been for almost a week now. I almost danced a jig right there at my desk when I got the call that the repair should be done tomorrow.

Add to all this that Gregg caught some kind of virus and was very sick over the weekend. He finally went to Urgent Care yesterday because he had a terrible sore throat, loads of congestion in his chest, and was running fevers. Not a good time to be stuck with barely functioning a/c. They gave him a strep and flu test (both negative) and decided that even though it's probably a viral thing, you don't take chances with someone who only has one lung and so they prescribed him antibiotics just in case. He has an appointment with the urologist next week to try to figure out what the "kidney blockage" is, and did I mention that they found something weird going on with his heart? "Systolic dysfunction" they're calling it, and we still have no idea what that even means. It definitely wasn't a good time for the home warranty/air conditioning people to blow off my repeated calls and emails! I was so mad! Sometimes you've just had enough.

Today I woke up with the beginnings of whatever Gregg has.  I've felt like total shit, with a raw feeling congested chest, body aches, chills, the whole nine yards. At the very least, it's a fierce summer cold. That phone call was the only good thing that happened to me today. Now that I'm home I want to crawl into bed and die. Thanks for sharing, honey!

Oh well. At least we should have a functioning air conditioner tomorrow, right? :)

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Memorial Day weekend

It's a holiday weekend, which means a three day weekend. Memorial Day. I'm grateful for the extra time off and a chance to relax a little. Also, the house is messy and needs some attention.

The heat wave, and the barely functioning air conditioner, continues. Sitting in an almost-too-warm room with the blinds drawn isn't very satisfactory, but at least it's comfortable enough to get by. I'm trying to avoid cooking and we're taking cool showers, but I finally had to break down and put on a load of laundry this morning. All of my shorts and tank tops/thin short sleeved shirts/camis were filling up the laundry basket and I've got to have some clean clothes. I plan to run the dryer on the coolest setting for the shortest possible amount of time, and the laundry room will be closed off. We're still getting periodic blasts of cool air from the a/c vents thanks to the misting water hose I have positioned in front of the unit, but I hate wasting the water (and dread the next water bill).

I did call the home warranty company for some kind of update yesterday, and the person I spoke with said that she could see that parts had been ordered the day after the technician came out. I'm taking that as a good sign that maybe the unit will be repaired, although I don't think there's a chance in hell that will happen until after Monday. It's a holiday weekend that happened to fall during a record-setting heat wave. The few technicians working will have their hands full, and probably charging holiday rates to boot. So we have to limp along as best we can. We do have a portable a/c on wheels that will cool a single room nicely if worse comes to worse. It was used for the dogs in our last garage when they lived outside. They're mostly indoor dogs these days, especially when the weather is bad. Like today...almost 100 degrees in the shade!

A couple of weeks ago at the big library sale downtown I bought my first Philippa Gregory book, The Red Queen. I liked it so much that I read it in about 3 days.  After having such a bad day on Wednesday (after meeting with the a/c technician I went back to work only to get yelled at and harshly insulted by a parent) I decided I deserved a small treat so I went by the bookstore, got coffee with friends, and bought a paperback copy of The White Princess. I'm finding that these books about the warring cousins trying to claim the throne of England is a good substitute for Game of Thrones! It's also nice to discover a new author to enjoy. She seems to be a most prolific writer so I'll have plenty of entertainment to look forward to. Are you reading anything these days? If so I'd love to hear about it.

For the long weekend, we'll probably do the traditional thing and grill out--a lot! It's no good heating up the house with the stove, and cold salads go great with grilled meats and corn on the cob. I may even try to get some strawberries, if there are any left after the heat we've had this week.

Have a nice weekend, everyone.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Being hot doesn't help

We've already set a record this week for high temperatures in May. On Tuesday it was 97 damn degrees and it's not even June yet. Early next week the high temperature is supposed to be 103F. It's ridiculous.

And to make matters worse, our air conditioning isn't working properly. When we were in the process of closing on this house, we discovered that the HVAC is 36 years old! Since it was still functional, the seller wasn't compelled to do anything about it, and we were too far gone in the closing process to renegotiate anything. Because of that, primarily, we purchased a home warranty so that if it (or anything else) broke in the first year it would be covered. Well. All good, right?

Wrong! We put in a request for a service call, and when the technician arrived yesterday he found that the previous owner had rigged something up to make the a/c work...and a fan in the motor is not diverting hot air away from the unit. So when the temperature rises during the day, the motor shuts down because it's overheating. And since it's a rigged together "fix" the technician is doubtful that the warranty company is going to cover the repair. Which will be in the $200-$300 range for another pieced together fix because the unit is so old that original replacement parts are hard to find.

I have a feeling we're not going to have any choice but to dip into our savings to purchase a whole new unit. That will easily be several thousand dollars, at least. We will, of course, wait for a decision about the repair from the home warranty company before we do anything.

In the meantime we have a temporary fix....a water hose positioned in front of the unit with a fine mist of water spraying on it. It keeps the unit cool enough to work. Who knows what our water bill will look like though.

It's bad enough to be stressed out...but to be hot's just too much!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Plenty of reason to be happy....

My sweet little niece at her birthday party...
The first taste of birthday cake was a hit!

A rainbow appeared above our house last night. The colors were impossible to capture with my phone camera. It was much brighter and more colorful than it seems in this picture. 

One of my orchids actually rebloomed for me. I found this flower early this morning.
Despite all these good things, I can't seem to shake this low level sadness I'm feeling. Is it my husband's continuing health concerns, the political situation, the advent of blazing hot summer temperatures (and our a/c breaking already.....a repairman is coming tomorrow), work stress, or all of the above? I don't know. It is what it is, I suppose. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A whole year already

I'm off to a birthday party this afternoon!

It's hard to believe, but little Carsen will be a year old on Tuesday! We all love her to pieces. I'm going to be the boring auntie that always buys books for her. Luckily her mommy and daddy read to her every night, and her nursery has bookshelves with her very own collection of books being built. I do hope she will love reading as she grows! I have a couple of books here at my home that I plan to read to her when she's big enough to stay over: The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh, The Velveteen Rabbit, a beautifully illustrated hardback copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and a first edition of Dinotopia. I also have the first 5 books of the Little House series in one hardback edition, but once she's old enough to read I plan to buy her a set of those of her own. A child that loves books is always my favorite kind of child!

Carsen's main gift today is a beautiful hardback book of Mother Goose rhymes. I spent the better part of the afternoon at the bookstore yesterday looking for just the right thing. The illustrations are gorgeous in this book and I hope they capture Carsen's imagination as she grows!

And so that she would have at least one book that she can hold (and drool on) right away, I bought her another book made for toddlers. It features squishy, crinkle-y sea animals: turtles, crabs, sharks, whales, and sea horses. I chose it since her "uncle" Gregg is known for his love of animals found in the water.

As I wrapped the books yesterday Gregg remarked on what a lucky little girl she is--to have so many people that love her and want to make her happy. I suspect today's party will be extra nice. For one thing, Marla and Toyo wouldn't agree to any kind of baby shower or party before Carsen was born. As some of you may remember, their first baby only lived a few days and never got to come home to the fully furnished nursery and the dozens of gifts waiting for her. Their caution during the next pregnancy was understandable, and so there hasn't been any special event for Carsen until now. Marla and (especially) Toyo have large families that dote on the baby, and lots and lots of friends, too. In addition, they just bought a new house last month and will be eager to show it off. Their move was so recent that I haven't even seen the place yet.

I'm so happy for their little family: a beautiful little girl with a first birthday to celebrate, a new home with space for their growing family where they can make a fresh start, and lots of friends and family to celebrate their good fortune with.

So I'm off to a birthday party! Have a great Sunday, everyone.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Crazy neighbor strikes again

Yesterday morning after I left for work, Gregg put the dogs outside and fed them their breakfast. Then he got in the shower. When he got out, George was barking at the back door to be let back in. Gregg let him in after what could NOT have been over 10 or 15 minutes of barking, and 5 minutes after that Crazy Neighbor showed up at the door, ranting and raving and screaming about our dogs "who have been barking for 2 hours!!!" Gregg was still in his bathrobe, not having had time to get dressed. He got right in the guy's face and told him that we've already spoken to the police, that he's not welcome on our property, and the next time he steps foot in our yard we're calling the police on him for trespassing and harassment. He finished by saying, "We're done here" and the Crazy Neighbor snarled, "Oh, we'll see about that!"

Gregg was furious. I'm pretty mad, but I'm starting to get nervous. The old man is clearly unhinged.

I spoke to another police office last night about the situation (we have Spanish class together) and he said to not answer the door next time....just call the police immediately.

I'm afraid he's going to do something to hurt our dogs. We're starting to consider buying a camera for the back yard to keep an eye on things. What do you think?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mother's Day

I drove the 30 miles or so today to have lunch with my parents. Here's what I got my mom for Mother's Day:

Speaking of Mother's Day, look what my parents found buried deep inside one of my dad's rose bushes:

Those are mockingbird eggs. Just before I took this picture we watched the parent birds join forces with a gang of blackbirds and chase off a large hawk. That kept them distracted for long enough that I was able to snap a couple of pictures. Talk about a safe nest-- it's surrounded by wicked sharp thorns!

I hope all the mothers out there reading have had a nice day!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Letting off some steam!

I was set to write a post today about the two male pets in my house--George and Marco. They both misbehave so often that I sometimes mix up their names when I'm yelling at them. It's probably a funny sight--me calling a bird by the dog's name and vice versa like a frustrated mother whose kids have pushed her to the edge! Ginger, of course, is the perfect dog and never does bad stuff but the boys in the house are troublesome. Ah well. I wonder what people without pets do for entertainment? There's never a dull moment around here!

Instead, I'm finding myself still stewing in irritation from the work day. It was 50 shades of chaos in the office and by 9:30am I was ready to strangle some of my coworkers. It was the same old thing: too much stuff going on, too many people needing too many things at once, phones ringing off the hook and parents cursing at whoever happened to answer the phone (me), half of the administrators and one of the guidance counselors out sick, and me being by myself handling everything because the two or three people who could've pitched in to help had either disappeared entirely, or were sequestered in their (private) offices with the doors shut. I was so damn mad.

I'm going to have to have a sit down with the principal in the very near future. I've had enough.

I'm also irritated as hell at some of the medical care my husband has been getting recently. He finally saw his doctor friend, a prestigious pulmonary specialist who now sits on the board of the hospital, and he immediately questioned the diagnoses and treatment Gregg's been getting. The good news (and I am grateful for this) is that it's looking less and less likely that he has a blood clot on his kidney and the testing they've done so far has concluded that his heart is fine. The problem is that there's some sort of obstruction in the kidney and they have to get to the bottom of it still. And our doctor friend was very upset when he found out that our family doctor and the kidney specialist she sent us to failed to contact Gregg's oncologist right away. When a patient has a history of stage 3 cancer, the oncologist should be notified immediately of any new health concerns, particularly a kidney blockage. Gregg's been wasting time and taking medication he doesn't need, as well as having lots of expensive and uncomfortable tests run that were probably not necessary. And to top it all off, no one thought to share his information with his oncologist! Unbelievable. And the nurse at our family doctor's office had the nerve to get defensive when Gregg told her that he needed to make an appointment to discuss these new findings! She's probably afraid that they'll be in trouble with our friend since he has so much power and influence at the hospital. And what about people who don't have a great doctor friend looking out for them? What happens to them? I'll tell you what--substandard care. It's despicable and it just burns me up. Not normal "everyone is human" mistakes, but mistakes that come from carelessness. Medical people need to be held to a higher standard.

But anyway, enough with all that. It felt good to type it all out, but I'm not going to let the rest of the evening be ruined. I'm home now, the sun is shining, and the screened porch (and a glass or three of wine) await. Maybe Marco won't screech at ear splitting levels (which he did yesterday when we had him out on the porch) and George won't bark like a crazy dog if the neighbors walk by with their little anklebiter dog on a leash (which also happened yesterday).

Oops...too late. She just walked past, and of course George barked like a hellhound. I went out back and yelled at him to stop. Hey, at least I didn't call him Marco this time!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

The weekend in pictures

The view from our local library's entrance. Three friends and I went to the annual "Big  Book Sale" first thing Saturday morning, then had breakfast afterwards.
Friend Karen waiting for me to finish taking a few photos.

Martina came over Saturday night, and here is some of the food we had. She brought the gorgeous berries.

Food sent home with Martina for her husband, Will. Two kinds of cheeses, guacamole, chicken salad, and fruit.

Having drinks on the porch with me last night!

Ginger loves Martina and hated to see her leave.

On the porch this morning with one of the books I bought at the sale yesterday.

A few of the herbs and flowers I'm growing on the porch.

On March 10th, I planted the pomegranate that had been living in a pot for years beside the window looking out from our den. It's been growing noticeably since going in the ground. I took that picture this morning.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Happy May Day!

I didn't want to let the first of May go by without wishing you all a happy day (and month!). I also wanted to share an essay from my favorite nature writer, Hal Borland, to commemorate the holiday.

May 1st
May Baskets
"Do youngsters anywhere still hang May baskets, or has May Day become wholly a date of social significance?
There was a time when May Day meant sentiment. It was preceded by a busy week when young fingers were weaving baskets and small cornucopias out of colored paper. Between spells of basket-making, scouting expeditions were made to the woods and fields, to see how the season went with wild flowers. And at least one trip was made to the candy store.
On April's last day, as late as possible, the scouting expeditions were followed up. Purple violets, preferably those big, dark, long-stemmed ones which grow at the edge of the swamp, were picked. Dogtooth violets were gathered. And windflowers, if any were to be found. Spring beauties were sought, and Dutchman's breeches. And the most delicate of young fern fronds were gathered for garnish. All were carried home in the dusk and stowed carefully in cups and glasses of water.
May Day morning called for early rising. In the bottom of the basket or cornucopia were put a few jelly beans left over from Easter, a few gumdrops, and at least one heart-shaped wafer candy printed with coy words of affection. Then the flowers were added till the basket brimmed with beauty. And at last, before breakfast if possible, the trip was made to Her house, where the basket was hung on the doorknob. The bell was rung and the basketeer ran like mad, to hide around the corner until She came and found the tribute.
That was May Day, in the morning, when there was sentiment in the date. The candy might be cheap, the flowers somewhat wilted; but the sentiment was real. What ever happened to it, anyway?"
Hal Borland
"Sundial of the Seasons"
May 1949

I remember having a Maypole and some kind of "May Queen" thing at school when I was a young girl, but I haven't heard any mention of such things in many, many years. I would love to revive the old custom of leaving little posies for the neighbors on their doorsteps, though. Well, maybe not for Crazy Neighbor but the others I've met have been nice. Especially the sweet 80 year old lady who lives next door--I like her a lot. Maybe next year I'll remember and buy her a little bouquet of daisies to leave on her steps.

We're doing okay here. Gregg isn't hurting quite as much and he got the pain medicine he needs just in case. He goes for a stress test (for his heart) on Friday and then he has some more tests later this month. Hopefully we'll get to the bottom of things and get it all resolved.

Going back to work after spring break wasn't too painful. It really helps to like your job, not to mention the fact that summer break is only 25 (school) days away. This morning the principal called out from his office, "Mrs. Barlow, can you come in here, please?" and when I went it he looked grim and told me to shut the door and sit down. I felt dread creeping all over me and braced myself for whatever was coming. Then he smiled broadly and told me that classified district employees get an evaluation every two years, and he had just completed my first one. He rated me as "Exemplary" in all categories, which was the highest rating, and wrote some really nice comments at the end. I nearly cried--evaluations were always traumatic at my old job. Not only were they often very unfair, but they were always slightly demeaning. (It was that way for all the employees, the company made a practice of never giving very positive reviews in an effort to keep the yearly raises small). It's so nice to work in a place where you feel valued! I told Mr. Oates that I love my job, and he replied, "We love having you here." Wasn't that nice of him? :)

Anyway, it's been a pretty good first of May. How has yours been? Did you give anyone flowers, dance around a Maypole, or somehow mark the occasion? I hope everyone has had a good one!