“You’re Taking This Well”

Last Thursday during routine furnace maintenance, the technician found a hole in the 2nd chamber from the left of the heat exchanger & a crack in the inducer transition of our 13-year-old gas furnace.

[You’re thrilled, right?  Scintillating first sentence.]

He immediately turned off the gas & electric on the furnace and put a red tag on the front of it.  The red tag said:

THIS UNIT HAS BEEN DISABLED DUE TO THE FOLLOWING UNSAFE CONDITION Hole in heat exchanger

Then he very politely asked me to go with him downstairs into the basement to talk about our furnace.  I knew that this wasn’t going to be good.

[I didn’t just fall off the new homeowner turnip truck, ‘ya know?]

So, down we went.  The technician explained the problems, told me about my two solutions to the problems, and then stood there waiting for me to explode.

But I didn’t get mad at all.  I just started to laugh.  A crazy, silly laugh.  It was a laugh that a woman steeped in a life of irony would produce when told that her plans were once again being thwarted.

“You’re taking this well,” he said.  “Most woman yell at me when I tell them their furnace is dead– and needs costly repairs or to be replaced entirely.”

Instead, I stood there– laughed & smiled– basking in the self-knowledge that just that very morning I’d allowed myself to dream that we might actually get the new wall-to-wall carpeting installed on the second floor of the house by Thanksgiving.  That this year for the holidays our home might look tidy without 13-year-old skunky, dirty, original wall-to-wall carpet uglifying the place. 

[And let me interject here to say that wall-to-wall carpeting is something that I hate to my core, but I accept as a necessary evil of suburbia. Making this situation doubly ironic.]  

Yep, that’s what I was thinking as the technician started to tell me the price of a new furnace.   I didn’t listen very carefully to the rest of what he said.  It didn’t matter to me.  I knew that we’d be buying a new furnace, regardless of the cost, by the end of the day.

And that I could put my carpet samples back in the drawer where I’ve kept them for a couple of years.   Waiting for just the right time to buy wall-to-wall carpeting… which I’m beginning to believe is never.

This Is What Passes For Excitement Around Here

Botanically, a tomato is a fruit. However, in ...
Image via Wikipedia

[Subtitled:  Somewhat Organized Thoughts Upon The Occasion of A Hopefully Random Act of Very Minor Violence]

Our mailbox is a rectangular, black metal one that sits on top of a white wooden post by the street.  It was tomato-ed. This is a first for us.

In the past our mailbox has been: smashed with a baseball bat;  peanutbutter-ed;  egged;  toilet paper-ed;  and robbed.  [One summer I decided to put a small bracket on the back of the white post and hang a basket of geraniums from it.  Very pretty… for the few days that it was there before someone stole it.]  But we’ve never had a tomato thrown at it.

The attack of this not-so-rotten tomato occurred between 6:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. while I drove Z-D to work.  Our mailbox, which is large, shiny and very noticeable when pulling out of our driveway, was just fine when we left home.  But when I got back home, the door to it was hanging open and there was a small dent in the side of it.  This I saw from the driveway as I pulled in.

It wasn’t until I walked down our driveway to see up-close what had happened that I realized that we had been tomato-ed with a large, firm, red tomato that left its seedy drool all over one side of our mailbox– and its gushy guts in the grass around the bottom of the wooden post.

As I didn’t grow up in suburbia I can only guess at the motivations for tomato-ing someone’s mailbox.  Questions plague me.

  • Which came first: the tomato or the mailbox?
  • Was this planned?  And if so, where did the perp get his or her tomato?  Stolen from someone’s garden?  Purloined from Mom’s frig?  Purchased at Kroger?
  • Is it possible that our mailbox wasn’t the intended target? 

Considering there are high school kids in the two house across the street from us & in one house next door to us, I have to wonder if this is a case of mistaken tomato-ing.

Answers to these questions elude me, leaving me to suspect that the real reason our mailbox was tomato-ed has nothing to do with logic.  I imagine, that like many things in life, the real reason that our mailbox was tomato-ed is that it was in the right place at the wrong time.

A Garden Wall Worthy Of Fred & Wilma

[Sub-titled: So You’re Really Going To Do This, Huh?]

Last week while the stock market was on the roller coaster ride of our lifetimes, we decided to do something a little bit different with our money.  Why not invest in something stable, said we.  How about finally getting the back of our property to look like something resembling a backyard, said we.  So…

We had this concrete wall built.  It’s very Flintstone-esque, don’t you think?

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What I Learned About Having A Garden Wall Built

√  Unlike the land excavating guy who said that he’d be at our house at 8:00 a.m. on Monday and arrived at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, when the concrete guy said that he and his crew would there at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, they were.  With lots of battery-powered lights.  Trying to work quietly, not succeeding.

√  It took 5 hours to create the 2.5′ x 4′ footers.  Two of those hours involved the crew sitting around on the ground, listening to music, laughing among themselves, eating snacks– waiting for the footers to become solid enough to continue on with the wall.  We paid for them to do this, of course.

√  It took about 3 hours for 9 men to build this 30′ x 4′ free-form concrete wall.  A truck in front of the house pumped a foamy kind of concrete through a 90′ hose to the backyard. Two men positioned the concrete, which looked like toothpaste being squeezed out of a tube, along the wall line by slowly walking back and forth; they stopped when the concrete was 4′ high. Then the rest of the men, each holding a trowel in one hand and a paintbrush in the other, shaped the wall.  It was the darndest thing to watch.

√  After the wall was stable and had air-dried for about an hour, a man stained it to look like naturally formed rock.  He used two different colors of paint in sprayers, a water sprayer, and a paint brush dipped in stain.  It took him maybe 45 minutes to do this.  He told me that he wanted the wall to look like “God had put it there.”

√  It takes about a week for this concrete to cure.  So until that happens, the land excavator guy can’t fill behind our wall with dirt to create our yard.  Meaning… there will be more to this story.

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[Please note: This is Phase Two of a three-part project.  Phase One is here.  Phase Three is here.] 

We’re Investing In Dirt

[Sub-titled: The Big Dig Begins]

Two weeks ago while the 112th US Congress was destroying the credit rating of the USA, we were investing in something a little bit different from the usual.  Something that is a known commodity, but generally is just there when you buy a house.  Unless, of course, you have a non-traditional property with a swale in the backyard that needs to be filled in. In which case, you need to buy dirt.  Lots of it.  So…

We bought 110 tons of dirt.  Really.   

In the past I’ve mentioned the sad shape of our lawn.  Our Lawn Has Mange

I’ve talked about my meeting with a land planner.  Talking Dirt

I’ve even told you about my anxiety about our backyard renovation project.  Rambling Thoughts From A Sleepless Night

But it wasn’t until this project finally began that I realized what the heck I’d gotten us into this time.

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Below is a photo of what the swale looked like right before the Bobcat operator began to push the dead wood and half-dead trees out-of-the-way for the dirt.

While the first man in the swale cleared that space, a second man in a different Bobcat moved the dirt from the street in front of our house to the back of our property.  He drove over, and piled it on, what used to be a lovely bed of pachysandra and juniper.

Then the first man, working at a precarious angle on the side of the hill, used the new dirt to fill in the swale.

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[Amazing as it was to watch this phase unfold, the words “liability insurance” kept dancing through my brain. You can tell that I’ve been around lawyers all my life, right?  But I digress…]

Here’s a photo of what the former swale looks like now that we’ve completed Phase One of our project.  Our property is almost flat, open to sunshine, and ready for the next step– which is a poured concrete wall.

[Please note: This is Phase One of a three-part project.  Much more about this later.  Phase Two is here.  Phase Three is here.] 

Keeping Up With The {Energy Conscious} Joneses

We’re getting a new front door– or more accurately: a new Entry System.

[One must use the jargon that one encounters when one is working with individuals in a new and different industry, mustn’t one?]

Three times during the last few week we met here at the house with the sales rep from the door and window store.  While our windows are fine, our front door is older, wooden, and because of sun exposure, impossible to keep properly refinished.  Many of our neighbors have replaced their Entry Systems with more energy-efficient/visually pleasing doors and sidelights.  So after talking with the sales rep, we decided to do the same thing.

Our new Entry System will be a six-panel American cherry-stained fiberglass door with no glass in it.  Half sidelights and an arched transom with beveled glass and gluechip glass complete the Entry System.  Pretty and private.

Of course, it’ll be weeks until this door is made;  having a special order arched transom slows production down a bit.  And then who knows how long after that until the door can be installed.

Nothing is fast in the world of home improvement.  But that’s probably a good thing.  It gives me more time to practice saying Entry System out loud– without rolling my eyes as I say it.  Lord knows, I wouldn’t want to use the wrong term for our new front door.  😉

A Suburban Moral Dilemma

As I sit here typing this post I’m watching our neighbor’s sprinkler system water their lawn.  Putting aside the fact that it is midday and the sun is at its hottest while the sprinkler system waters their lawn, I’ve found myself in a bit of a moral dilemma.  The sort of dilemma that an observant, kind-hearted person, such as myself, could only find herself in.

Here’s the deal.  We don’t have an automated lawn watering system.  I am our watering system– complete with hoses, oscillating sprinklers, and a decidedly lethargic approach to lawn care.  I water when the spirit moves me and in a random pattern when I get around to it.

Our neighbors, on the other hand, have a perfectly positioned, professionally maintained sprinkler system that evenly and consistently waters their grass.  Or at least that’s what the neighbors, who are never here at midday, think is happening.

The reality is that the men who positioned the sprinkler heads have sent the water shooting into a tree and a wall, which is causing the water to bounce back into small portions of our lawn instead of evenly watering the neighbor’s lawn.

Now the angelic [do good] part of my being is saying that I really should go over to the neighbor’s house and tell them that their sprinkler system is amiss… that their professionals have made a mistake or two when positioning the sprinkler heads.

But the devilish [lazy butt] part of my being is shouting “yes! less lawn for me to water” and resists making the effort to tell the neighbors what’s really going on with their lawn… figuring that it is up to them to monitor their own property.

So there you have it, my gentle readers.  A moral dilemma.  In a non-friendly suburb.  Noted by me because I pay attention.

What say ‘ye?  Do I tell them, or not?

Rambling Thoughts From A Sleepless Night

~ I rarely have insomnia, but last night I did not sleep.  Too hot and humid outside.  Too noisy and AC-y inside.  I just couldn’t get comfy, so… 

•  I got up and surfed the internet until the battery in my notebook died– which was 2.25 hours.  I decided to go back to many of the new-to-me blogs where I’ve left comments over the past few months.  It takes quite a bit of focus and prayer for me to reach out to strangers and leave them a comment.  I know that comments are a good way of making friends in the blogosphere and I want to have more bloggy friends.  So I take a deep breath, write something sincere, and push “publish.”

It’s not easy for me, but I do it.

Checking back to see how well-received my comments were, I discovered that 40% of the new-to-me bloggers responded back to me – yeah!  40% of the new-to-me bloggers said nothing – hmm?  And 20% of the new-to-me bloggers didn’t even allow my comment to show up on their blogs – ouch!

•  After the battery went dead in my notebook I just wandered around the inside of the house in the dark, looking out the windows at nature and moonlight and total stillness.  I like doing this because it centers me in the moment, encourages me to look within.  I used to always get up early to do this, but fell out of the habit at some point.

While I was moseying around I got thinking about my health.  I’ve just finished a battery of annual tests and am quite healthy, thank you very much.  The only issue is that my cholesterol is a bit high.

Just something more to be aware of, I guess.

As I don’t know of anyone who eats meat who doesn’t have slightly elevated cholesterol, I’m rather “whatever” about this fact.  I figure that some small changes in my diet and a bit more exercise will fix this issue.  I avoid pharmaceuticals at all costs, so I will take on the challenge of making myself better all by myself.  No pills for me, says the doctor’s daughter.

•  Around 5:30 a.m. I decided it was time to make a pot of coffee and get on with the day.  After the elixir of life brewed, I poured myself a large mug of it and went outside to sit on the deck.  Morning was just starting to grace the sky with streaky, pink clouds and yellowish bursts of weak sunlight.  There were bats flying around everywhere– and birds chirping about something of [presumably] birdy importance.

I like our deck because it looks into the forest prime evil primeval
that leads to the ravine behind our house.  But this morning I was a bit wistful as I looked at the natural mess that is back there.  In a couple of weeks, we will have a new backyard.

Change is good.  And inevitable when you live on a hillside.

The backyard project will put in place a poured concrete landscaping wall.  Then about 28 tons of dirt will be hauled in to level off some of the land.  After that, the landscapers will plant lots of bushes in a visually pleasing, manicured way– which will transform our backyard into a more useable, but decidedly less rustic, place to be.

~ I’ve got nothing more to add to this post.  Morning is here and I’m ready to get on with my day.  I kind of wonder how productive I’ll be today, but figure that I’ll give it my best shot.  Some days “good enough” is the new “perfect.”