Category Archives: Just stuff…

Streak


Hello Everyone!

I solemnly swear that the story I am about to share with you is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  You need that reassurance in advance, because otherwise it might be hard to believe.

This year is our 30th anniversary, and we were planning on celebrating it by taking the camper to Charleston for a few days over Memorial Day weekend.  Mark was getting ready to bring the camper from storage for us to clean it up for the trip a couple of weekends in advance of that date but as he started to crank it up, the levelers went crazy (automatic levelers on a Class A motor home do exactly what it sounds like they do – the make sure the coach is level when the motor home is stationary).  They fully extended and refused to do anything else.  With some difficulty, we figured out how to manually retract the levelers (hint:  you really don’t want to try it without a power drill to crank with!) and disable them.  We reluctantly cancelled the Charleston trip, put the camper in the shop and waited.  And waited.  And waited.

When we put the camper in the shop, we explained to the service people that we had a trip planned over the Fourth of July weekend to the beach, so we really needed the camper back before then.  It wasn’t fixed by the Fourth, but the beach is relatively flat so we decided we would be okay to take it back out of the shop for just that trip and then return it afterwards – and to be fair, we didn’t notice the lack of levelers the entire trip.

Now press pause.  Here’s the thing – we never travel on the Fourth of July weekend.  I hate it; it is too crowded wherever you try to go, too busy and too hectic, but for whatever reason in a fit of insanity Mark and I decided we would go to Gulf Shores over the Fourth of July weekend.  We also arranged for my Mom to come with the two of us and Kayla in our camper, and to meet one of my sisters, her husband and her daughter down there – they have a travel trailer.  We thought it would be fine.  And it would have been.  Except – press “resume” now –

My sister’s crew was going to leave the Friday before the Fourth of July from North Alabama and arrive at the beach that day.  We were going to leave that Saturday since the beach is much closer to us than it is to them.  So Saturday morning, Mark and I, Kayla and my Mom were safely tucked into our motor home and headed south towards the beach in heavy, but tolerable, traffic when we got a text from my sister about 10 a.m.  They had gotten a late start the night before, ended up spending some time sleeping at a rest area and were about 30 minutes from the beach when their truck died.  They had called a wrecker and were waiting for it.

We got the next text about 15 minutes later.  The wrecker had arrived; its operator had gotten the truck to start by hitting the alternator with a hammer, but he was going to follow them into town to the nearest (open) mechanic’s shop to be sure they got there safely.  The next word we got, maybe 10 minutes later, was that the first place they had gone to did not have a mechanic on duty, so they were going to try a different place.  About 10 minutes after that, my sister let us know that the tow truck following them had just been hit by someone who was DUI and had drug paraphernalia in her vehicle.  Once that was sorted out with the police, my sister’s family and the tow truck continued their trek over to an auto parts store which we will call, for convenience sake and purely incidentally resembling the name of an existing chain, O’Raley’s Auto Parts Store.  O’Raley’s did have mechanics on duty, but they weren’t highly motivated to work on the truck – until it died again in front of the bays they use to fix vehicles, at which point O’Raley’s decided to help.  Which was great, except that O’Raley’s didn’t have the exact alternator that they needed in stock, which meant that the O’Raley’s people ended up trying three different places before they could find the part they needed.

About 1:00 that afternoon when we were 45 minutes from the beach, we got a text from my sister that the truck was fixed and they were headed on to the campground.  At which point we all heaved a huge sigh of relief and began to relax.  Until about 10 minutes later.

Kayla started shouting “Stop!  Stop!  Stop!”  She had been watching the rear view camera.  Apparently, the front end of the Hyundai Veloster that we towed behind us had decided to detach itself from the rest of the vehicle, something none of us had seen before.  We pulled over.  Fortunately, the break happened on a local road while traffic was going slow, so the towing safeguards held stuff together enough that no-one around us got hurt.

Veloster Commits Hari Kari

We called the police, who came out to prepare what is called an “incident” report.  They couldn’t do an accident report because there was no other car involved.

While the police were working with us, a couple of cars in the left hand lane decided to collide into each other.  We think maybe they were watching us instead of each other.  So the policeman stuck with working on the Saturday before the Fourth of July was much busier than he might have been otherwise.

After about 45 minutes, the policeman was done with us, the tow truck driver called by AAA had arrived and taken the Veloster off with him, and we resumed our drive.  Now short one car, we decided to rent one for the weekend.  However, it was 2:00 p.m. on the Saturday before the Fourth of July in small town Alabama, and no one was open except for one Avis Rent-A-Car place in Daphne, 30 minutes away from us in normal traffic – and the beach traffic on this weekend was anything but!  Plus they closed at three.  My brother-in-law grabbed Mark as soon as we got into the campground, and the two of them dashed off in his truck to get the car, arriving at the Avis place at 3:00 on the dot, where the kind young man at the counter took pity on them and helped.

Meanwhile, back at the campground, Mom, Kayla, my sister and her daughter decided to go to the pool.  I stayed behind at the camper to try to regain some semblance of equanimity, slightly perturbed by the events of the day.  While doing so, I decided to put the chicken for supper that night out to thaw.  I deduced that it would thaw more quickly outdoors, so carried it out there to put it on the picnic table, but then decided it would be safer from bugs if I put it inside the grill to thaw.  Pulling the grill open, I saw some spots that needed to be cleaned, so turned back to go in the camper to get what I needed  – and discovered I had locked myself out of the camper.  I sat outside at the picnic table for a while but July in Alabama is not the time to stay outdoors without any water, so ended up going to the pool, where my sister took pity on me and brought me back to her trailer while we waited for Mark and my brother-in-law to return.

Once they got back with the car and the camper was unlocked, everyone took a deep breath and started to finally relax. We enjoyed dinner together, and even went to bed a little early.   After all, it had been a stressful day getting down there, but we were finally there, set up and able to rest.  Until 2:30 a.m. that morning.

I woke up or Mark woke me up because the electricity in our camper was dead.  Normally, this is not a big deal – a breaker just trips somewhere and needs to be reset.  Not this weekend, though.  Whatever was wrong with our electrical system was systemic and not going to be fixed by something as easy as a flipped circuit breaker.  By 3:30 a.m., Kayla and Mom had woken up too.  We conceded defeat and agreed that we were going to have to head back home the next day.  My sister and her family were disappointed, but understood.  However, we still needed to return the rental car so Mark and I decided that he and Mom would ride in the motor home to the nearest Avis drop-off spot, while Kayla and I took the rental car, swung through the nearest McDonald’s to get breakfast and then met them there, dropping the car off and the key in the night box.

Because the Avis return lot was not a great place for a motor home to enter or turn around in, Mark and Mom waited for us in the next parking lot over.  Kayla and I had to walk around a small ditch to reach them, which wasn’t a big deal.  When we reached the parking lot, we had to walk beside an old, battered motor home that looked like it hadn’t been moved for at least a decade.  Suddenly, Kayla shrieked, and so I shrieked in sympathy.  The cause of the distress?  A black cat, probably as startled by us as we were by it, had scuttled out from under the decrepit  motor home in front of us.

I’ll spare you the rest of this summer’s journey, which included another trip to the motor home repair shop, an engine mount bracket breaking on our 2012 Ford Escape and additional camper repairs that we did ourselves until we finally got the motor home back to tip-top condition about two weeks ago.

All’s well that ends well – a trite statement but a true one.  Now that the dust has finally settled, Mark has a new car, Kayla will inherit the repaired 2012 Ford Escape once she passes her driver’s exam and we hope to use the camper soon, but I really hope our streak of repairs is over with for now.

Mark's New car

Mark’s New-To-Him Car

Kayla's New Car

Kayla’s Car

And it should go without saying but for clarity’s sake I emphasize the following –  I will NOT be traveling on the Fourth of July weekend again any time soon.

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

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When your dog is more focused than you…


Good morning Everyone!

Something about the Christmas season seems to send my absent mindedness into hyperdrive.  Not so my dogs.

Basset Hound, Husky Mix

The Mandinator!

Here’s my proof:

1.       It was raining last week, and I was the last one to leave the office. I usually go out the front, which requires me to unlock and then lock it back,  but that night I went out the back door, which always lets people out even if they can’t get back in.  After I got outside and into my car (it has a combination lock that lets me unlock it without the key), I started to panic when I couldn’t find the keys anywhere in my purse.  I hadn’t even closed the car door yet.  I started to send a frantic text to one of my friends from work asking her to come back to free me, but as I was doing so, I realized there was the most annoying “ping, ping, ping” coming from the car.  I looked up to realize that my keys were in the ignition.  I must have put them in the ignition without even thinking about it.

2.     I am working on a knitting project that involves using a row counter.  This means that after I finish a row, I have to stop and hit the button on the counter to tally each row.  To do this, I have to put the “free” needle – the one without yarn on it at the time – down.  I got quite annoyed the other night when I couldn’t find the darn thing after one row tally.  There is nothing more frustrating than losing an object when you have been sitting in the same place the whole time.  I was sitting by Mark and he finally asked me what I was looking for.  When I told him I was looking for my knitting needle, he looked at me strangely before telling me that it was tucked behind my ear!

3.    We put a memory foam mattress topper on our bed last night.  We leaned back to see how it felt, and Mark had my glasses in his hand.  I kept reaching out to take them back, and he finally asked, “Why are you reaching for my glasses?”  I started to inform him that they weren’t his glasses, they were mine – until I realized that my glasses were still on my head.  Then I had to tell him that I had forgotten my glasses were still on me!

Compare that to Mandy’s behavior this morning.  She sailed onto my chest about 6:30, ready for me to get up.  Apparently the extra 4 inches added to the bed by the mattress topper doesn’t pose any problems for her, but I digress.  When she did, I noticed that in her mouth she had one of Mark’s handkerchiefs.  Sleepy or not, I was aware that most dogs do not carry handkerchiefs around with them, so I removed Mandy’s from her, put it in the hamper, pushed the clothes down to be sure they stayed out of reach and went on about our day.  About an hour later, I went back into the room for something and Mandy followed me, sailed back on the bed and began searching for the handkerchief I had taken away.

That moment was when I concluded that my dog is far less absent-minded than me.

Have a great day!

Nancy

 

Hints for Household Helpers Under the Age of 16


Good morning Everyone!

Certain circumstances having arisen in my household, I wish to aid household helpers under the age of 16 with the following hints.

  1.  Pushing the vacuum cleaner over the floor does not count unless the vacuum cleaner is also removing dust, dog hair, paper and other detritus from the floor.
  2.  A see through canister on the vacuum cleaner is not there merely for your viewing pleasure. When the canister resembles a water balloon about to burst, it needs to be emptied.
  3. If the engine of said vacuum cleaner starts to smoke, the canister definitely must be emptied.  Unplugging it at this point is a good idea, too.  Please remember that we keep the fire extinguisher centrally located for the good of all under the kitchen sink.
  4. The terms “window cleaner” and “window streaker” are not synonymous.
  5. Dishes that come out of the dishwasher without feeling clean should be returned to the dishwasher for another round.  If they still are not clean after that, you must hand wash the items.
  6. If the drink glass you pull from the dishwasher feels as if there is a hidden message transcribed in braille on the outside, it is not clean.
  7. Putting said drink glass on the highest shelf possible does not render the glass clean or relieve the household helper of culpability.
  8.  If you have pets, pantry doors and trash bins need to be firmly closed once the cleaning is done.  Otherwise, you will end up doing it all over again after the pets enjoy the wondrous smorgasbord you have set before them.
  9. The phrase “empty the dishwasher” is not synonymous with “empty the dishwasher – except the silverware.”  Parents do notice when they open the silverware drawer and find the silverware set consists of two teaspoons and a knife.
  10. If a parent begins any sentence with “Perhaps you should….”  the following instruction is not optional.  Your parent is trying to tell you something nicely.
  11. The “whole house” means the whole house.  It does not mean the living room and the kitchen only.
  12. Please explain exactly how you can claim to have vacuumed or dusted thoroughly when items such as clothing and shoes that were on the floor when you began your work remain in the same spot in an unaltered state when you are finished.
  13. You are not abused or misused because we expect you to help with the housework.  And yes, when you go off to college, we will probably hire someone to do the house for us once a week.  Get over it.  You can do the same thing to your children once you have them.
  14. Most of us do not expect your work to pass the white glove test.  (Google it.)  However, if the dust on the surface of anything is deep enough that we can write our names in it or draw pictures, it needs to be dusted.
  15. We parents appreciate your help.  Really.  It’s just hard to remember to say so when steam is blowing out of our ears because you know and we know that you have not given us your best effort.

Happy helping, household helpers!

Have a great day everyone.

Nancy

Serenity


Good morning Everyone!

I thought I’d share a clip with you of a small snippet of a Saturday morning at a local campground. This is one of the many reasons I like camping.

The gray, white and pink pajama fabric at the end is just a bonus!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Anyone’s Cat Missing a Life or Two?


Good morning everyone!

I think Mandy has stolen several lives from a cat of origins unknown.  Mandy is our husky basset hound mix and our scavenger extraordinaire.

Basset Hound, Husky Mix

Mandy Out for a Drive!

Over the years, she has eaten anything and everything from socks and handkerchiefs to medicated creams like Neosporin and been none the worse for wear, but yesterday she finally went too far.

When I got home yesterday,  I went inside to my normally enthusiastic greeting from both dogs.  Rounding the corner of the couch, my blood chilled (cue the screeching violin motif from Friday the 13th) when I saw:

golden-raisin-box

That most terrifying of sights, a large box of golden raisins, chewed open, with the plastic bag that contained the raisins therein lying empty beside it.

To the untutored individual, this scene would be banal.  However, I am blessed/cursed to know better than that.

 

Dog, eating, counter

My reprobate

 

Dogs can eat almost anything we can, but there are a few – very few – things we can’t share well. Chocolate is one of those. Dogs lack an enzyme needed to digest it properly.  I know this because I sat up with Mandy one night after she had scored an entire family size bag of peanut butter M & M’s and since what goes up must come down, you can guess what an exciting night we both had!

Another is grapes. Grapes release toxins into the blood stream of a dog that can cause kidney damage, apparently do other things to the hemoglobin in the blood and cause death in the right circumstances.  Raisins, of course, are dried grapes, which means that eating a box of raisins is eating grapes in quintuplet.

After a moment of panic, I threw both dogs and Kayla into the car, barreling at 80 miles an hour to the nearest after-hours pet emergency clinic, which was in Montgomery.

Mark met us there – he hadn’t been able to get home yet since traffic had been gridlocked.

How, you may ask, did we know that it was Mandy and not Darwin that ate the grapes?  We didn’t, which is why we brought both dogs.  Upon reaching the vet’s, we had to choose which dog to treat first. This guess mattered, because we were already well past the two-hour window that you normally have to empty a dog’s stomach of anything that shouldn’t be there.  We made an educated guess that Mandy was the only one of the two to have enough bravado to enter the pantry and pull out her very own personal snack.  Darwin would help eat something if it was readily accessible, but wouldn’t seek it out like that.  And when Mandy goes to that kind of trouble to get a snack, she will not be sharing.

The decision made, we handed Mandy to the vet tech and off trotted my reprobate, tail wagging and looking like this was the outing of the century.

After the vet convinced the dog to empty her stomach, the vet tech came out to tell us that not only had we guessed right, but also they had been able to get almost all of it back up – because Mandy had eaten one of Kayla’s socks the day before, and it was slowing her digestion of a number of items, the grapes being one of them.  (The sock made its reappearance, apparently, sometime after the grapes.)  This may be the first time in recorded veterinary history that the consumption of one undesirable item by a dog saved its life after the consumption of a second, more toxic, undesirable item.

Mandy 1 for web

Mandy  coming home after the first Very Large Vet Bill.

Because Mandy is probably around 12, they have kept her overnight pumping fluids through her, and Mark is going to pick her up this afternoon after he pays a Very Large Vet Bill that dwarfs our last Very Large Vet Bill. Darwin believed it was right thoughty of us to include him in all of the excitement, and has done surprisingly well at home without Mandy, but you can tell he misses her, as do we all.

And on that happy note, I hope each of you have a great weekend!

Nancy

P.S.  I skipped a couple of steps between the discovery of the grapes and entering the car.  Accordingly, I’d like to thank my youngest sister for her help in getting a message to her friend, the vet, and her sympathetic support via text thereafter.  I’d also like to thank her friend, the vet, who did her best to help given that she was two states away and not where she could talk.  If I knew then what I know now, we would have provided immediate assistance to Mandy by giving her one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide, and then a second one fifteen minutes later.  Hind sight is, alas, 20-20.

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Quote

Dedicated to All Frustrated Parents of Teens


Good morning , everyone!

Whether you’re parenting a teen with another parent, or doing it on your own, I salute you!  Carry on bravely, my suffering brothers and sisters! I  feel your pain!

Parent Pulling Out Hair
AAAAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHH! from http://www.clickartonline.com All rights reserved.

To All Frustrated Parents of Teens

The 14 year old mind

Is a strange, wondrous thing;

No one can account

For the thoughts which it springs.

One moment high fashion

Has it enthralled;

The next, finding rations

Puts flights to all else.

It has not a filter,

At best, one too late;

Arguments it adores

Much too much to forsake.

It wades only in shallows,

Concerns chill it not,

Yet strong loves wells deepen,

As do new, wondering thoughts.

When its parents despair

Through long suffering in vain

That wisdom shall ever

Elude this young brain,

A small touch on their shoulder,

A hug in the mall,

A smile on a cold day,

A kindness, too small

To affect fates of nations,

But which heartens those close,

A keen observation that

Will pierce other’s boasts,

Reminds family present

That hope is not lost.

This mind will grow wiser

With the age of its host.

Have a great day!

Nancy

Reaching Out


Good morning Everyone!l

I love the English language.  I love its richness and sonorousness.

I love the nuances present in different words with similar meanings such as the words “create” and “engender.”  I create a painting; I don’t engender it.  On the other hand, a hospital staff’s decision to make customer service a top priority can engender a sense of hope and pride in the surrounding medical community rather than create that sense.  “Engender” implies more of an outgrowing and flowering  than does the word “creation,” at least to my untutored etymological ear.

I also love the sheer number of words in our language.  After all, how many other languages have a name for that spot on your back that is unreachable when it itches?  For those of you wondering, the word is “acnestis.”  (Yes, I am nerd enough to subscribe to the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Day..)

English’s flexibility is also an advantage.   If our language didn’t change, we wouldn’t have been able to invent words for new inventions and actions such as television, planes, internet, googling, cable, e-mailing and scanning.

There are times, however, when American English’s penchant for changeability gives rise to meanings that are more annoying than helpful.  “Actually” is a good example of such a word, as I’ve mentioned before.

The latest annoying phrase I’ve encountered is “reaching out.”  This phrase has been adopted en masse by sales people under the age of 40 in the electronics business.  They primarily use the phrase in e-mails.  Lots of people “reach out” to me in e-mails asking me to buy computer equipment, electronic research and other such services.  Every time I read the phrase, my stomach squirms as I envision a horde of people extending their hands begging me to rescue them from a ship wreck or prison, which doesn’t increase the writer’s chance of getting a response.

Of course, I could just be evolving into a language curmudgeon as I age.  Help me out here by letting my know if you have any pet peeves regarding the English language to assure me that I’m not alone.  I’d love to hear about them!

Have a great day!

Nancy

Justifiable Homicide?


Good morning Everyone!

volcano

From http://www.clickartonline.com All rights reserved. 

 

Things got a little tense at our household this morning thanks to contacts and baseball, strange combination that it is.

Kayla got contacts about a month ago and after the first three days, which were rough, had most of the kinks worked out – until this morning.  I knocked on her bedroom door to tell her I was going to take a shower, so I would wish her a good day then and to have a good day, and

got screamed

yelled at 

was informed tersely that her contacts were just “not working” this morning and she was afraid she was going to miss the bus.  [How something with no moving parts or motor can “not work” is beyond me.]

When I told her she had nine minutes left so she should calm down a little, I struck a spark onto a pile of dry twigs and leaves.  I’m not saying I slammed any doors over the conversation, but I  slammed my bedroom door over the conversation.

However, as we all know, Karma works its magic at the worst possible times.

Field Trip

From http://www.clickartonline.com All Rights Reserved

15 minutes after the bus came, Kayla texted  – she had forgotten her permission slip for the baseball game field trip her class is taking today and would I please bring it to her at school so she wouldn’t have to sit in the boring classroom all day long and us lose the $20  we had plunked down for the field trip?  [I’m sure it was our losing the twenty dollars that was worrying her the most.][Insert sarcasm font.]

I contemplated telling her “no.”  I should have told her “no.”  I almost texted her “no. ” But instead I clenched my jaw and started looking for it.  Once I found it, the following dialogue by text ensued:

[Typos in originals]

ME:  Leaving house now.  Please be at front at drop off line to pick up form.  Do NOT make me park and come inside. 

KAYLA:  I can’t do that its against the rules.

[At this point, I think most mothers would agree with me that she has achieved reached the level of justifiable homicide.]

ME:  Then how the )^&*&%$%(*&^( do you expect me to get it to    [text typing interrupted by further communication from Kayla.]

KAYLA:  I’ll try it

ME:  [Deletes above text without sending. ]

KAYLA:  coach dean said I could come to the carrider line.

My mood was not improved by the fact that I managed to lose the permission slip form three times after I found it before I entered the car which probably wasn’t her fault but which I will find some way to blame on her anyhow.

Smiling Snail

From http://www.clickartonline.com All Rights Reserved

The smile on her face when she grabbed the form from me, though, made it worth it.

Have a great day!

 

Nancy

 

 

 

Finally – a Craft for Men!


Good morning Everyone!

Finally:

A Craft for Men.

At a Michael’s Near You!

 

Have a great day!

Nancy

God’s Sense of Humor, Part II


Good morning Everyone!

As I mentioned yesterday, twice recently I have been reminded that God has a rich sense of humor.  The second time came from a story an out-of-state friend told me and a group of women I was with.

She teaches first grade, and is still trying to figure out how to keep the kids quiet.  (She’s young.)  She told us that during Christmas break, she had been praying for patience.

Every woman over the age of 40 listening groaned; us older women know that if you pray for patience, you get plenty of opportunities to practice it.

When school started after Christmas break, she was called to the office during fourth period to receive a new student.

The student was named Patience.

Have a great day!

Nancy