Saturday, May 16, 2015

4037 Continuation of Post 4036

Saturday, May 16, 2015

I got interrupted yesterday by Nugget coming over to visit.

Walking her back over to her house later, we found a tiny baby bird (still with fluff on either side of his head and on his back, so definitely not ready to leave the nest) hopping down the middle of the street.  No idea where he came from.  The rest of the evening was spent building him a nest box in my spare bathroom, digging worms and grubs for him, and feeding him.  So I now have a bird after all.  Looks like it might be a starling.

To conclude the previous bird stories, the blackbirds gave up on the dryer vent after one got stuck ripping open the netting Daughter had put over the opening to keep them out.  Once it got loose, they never came back.  Funny that running the clothes dryer didn't bother them, but a net "trap" frightened them away.

The house finches who built the nest in the wreath on my front door were evicted twice, and when they rebuilt the third time I gave up and allowed them to stay.  They laid four eggs in the prettiest, softest-lined nest I've ever seen, and just five days later the eggs were ... gone.  I suspect a squirrel got them.  Mother squirrels will eat eggs and new hatchlings because they need calcium when they're nursing babies.  (When you make eggs for breakfast, crush the shells and toss them out on the lawn for nursing mothers: squirrels, racoons, possums, cats, whatever.  If nobody takes them, they're good for your lawn.)  Anyway, the finches haven't been back.

I think the robin who'd laid claim to my patch of front lawn has built a nest in the tree, and may have chicks because I'll see a robin fly into the tree, and then there's an unholy racket of buzzing and chirping.

So, expect future updates on the baby bird in the bathroom.  He eats a LOT!  Just this evening he ate six chubby earthworms, two fat grubs, and about 12-15 medium-sized mealworms before he decided he was full and stopped begging.  That was his fifth meal of the day.  Nugget is happy feeding him, but when he gets full and wants to sleep, she's done.  Daughter has fallen in love with him and will easily spend an hour up there snuggling him.


So, to continue from yesterday.  Where was I?  Oh, yeah, Tuesday, May 5th.  The Hunk had just put the new tire on my car.  Then I went to the village diner for lunch, and to the hardware store for white spray paint, and a few other stores for some other stuff.  When I got back to the house, I pried the new numbers off the tree next to the driveway, painted a large white oval on the bark, and renailed the numbers.  Now you can see them.

By then it was close to 5 pm.  Still nothing accomplished on the house, midway through the second trip.

I had been trying to sort the crap in the house into "take south", "sell or give away", and "throw away", and I'd been making very little progress because, well, there's so much, and everything has to be touched, examined, considered.  On a previous 2014 three day trip, all I'd done was go through one drawer of the four drawer horizontal file cabinet. This time I just grabbed some garbage bags and ran quickly around throwing stuff in the bags.  I was really being tough.  I even threw out a jade Chinese teapot because it leaked.  I filled two huge garbage bags, and tossed them into the back seat of the car.  And then about 8 pm I sat down in the den for a minute, and woke at 11 pm with my head on the desk.  I was exhausted.  I went to bed.

I left fairly early Wednesday because I have to be south of Newark by 4 pm or the traffic is awful, or wait until after 6 pm to leave, and I wanted to be home to watch Survivor at 8 so that wasn't going to cut it.  I left at 1 pm, and the 2.5 hour trip took me 4.5 hours because of roadwork near Suffern and ... something? an accident long cleared out? ... near the Oranges that both slowed me down to 2nd gear for miles and miles.

But I was very good about those garbage bags.  I resisted the urge to look into them one more time, and they went out with Thursday's garbage collection.

So, two round trips, five days, many hours driving, $900 in hotel, gas, tolls, thermostat, tire, and I have two bags of trash to show for it.  I hope the next trip is more productive --- but I sorta doubt it because I'll be meeting with the a/c man to discuss getting the old heat pump replaced with electric a/c, and I want to go to the SS office up there to get some business handled, since the local SS office down here is understaffed and overcrowded, you can't make an appointment (although the website says you can by calling, but the phone call gets you a recorded message that says you have to appear in person), and on three attempts in person I hadn't been able to actually see anyone ("take a number", wait wait wait, "oops, we're closing now, come back tomorrow", when it's the same thing again).

I am currently collecting SS and Medicare on Jay's record as his widow, but I can give myself a huge raise by collecting on Ex#2's record.  That is complicated, have to show proof we were married long enough, it affects my medical insurance, and so on and so on.  Can't do it online.

I hope no more trees get blown over up there.


4036 Long time no see.

Friday, May 15, 2015

It's been a while.  Slightly over a month.  Partly because I'd been busy, but mainly because my laptop had been in the shop (which was mysteriously closed for a while).  I have my little Sony notebook, which works just fine for visiting websites and reading mail, and writing short comments and so on, but is frustrating to type on.  Yes, I bought a Bluetooth keyboard for it, but the freakin' thing doesn't want to hold a charge.

Laptop is now back, so I am too.

About the only noteworthy thing that's happened in the past month is that the Nugget celebrated her fourth birthday, and I've been to the old house twice in the past three weeks, both very expensive trips.

Nugget has been hearing about measles, I guess.  She told her father one day that she wasn't feeling well, might be coming down with something, "I think I have weasels."  For her birthday I got her an art easel she can use at my house, the kind with blackboard on one side, white board on the other, and paper on a roll underneath that can be draped over the top.  She went home and told her Daddy that Gramma got her a weasel!

Sometimes it's hard to know what's going on with 4-year-olds.

I hadn't been to the old house all winter.  They had a LOT of snow last winter, and I just didn't want to deal with it.  My last trip of 2014 had been in November, to make sure the furnace was on and to shut off the water and drain the pipes so there'd be no danger of freezing.  I made my first trip for this year in late April, heading up Thursday, planning to stay until Saturday.

It was still very cold up there - daytime high in the low 40s and nights dropping into the low 30s.  When I got to the house on Thursday, it was 56 in the house.  I pushed the thermostat buttons to boost the heat, and nothing happened, except that the thermostat went blank - except for a flashing "low bat".  Hmmmm.

I drove into the village and bought some batteries.  I installed the new batteries, and the thermostat went completely wonky, like digital "8"s blinking everywhere.  But the furnace fan did come on.  It was blowing cold air.  Seems like the burner wasn't on.  Hmmmm.

I went downstairs to check the furnace, and the gauge on the oil tank said it was empty.  Hmmmm.  Maybe the furnace hadn't been running at all?  So how could it have been 56 when I arrived?  Then I remembered - that house is extremely well insulated, and practically the entire west wall is glass.  The afternoon sun can warm it up.

By then it was getting late, sun was low, and the temperature started dropping.  Obviously I wasn't going to be sleeping there.  I don't know what the heck was going on locally, but the cheapest close hotel room I could get was $199.  Plus tax.  Sigh.  Non-scary Kingston motels aren't cheap to start with, and Rhinebeck is worse.

The next morning, Friday, I went back to the house, and it was cold. Worse, it was a cloudy day.  The Hairless Hunk had been removing some fallen trees from my side yard, so loads of logs, his huge trailer, AND a flatbed truck, AND his spare car were parked at the top of the driveway.  The fuel oil truck needs to be able to turn around at the top because the driveway is long, steep, curving, and narrow and they hate to back up or down it.  I can't call for a delivery until I know the Hunk has cleared the driveway, and he has a job.  I felt so discouraged I packed up a few things and went home.  Made my calls from there.

I couldn't go back until the second Monday following, but I got an oil delivery order in the meantime, and made an appointment for thermostat service on Monday, May 4, at 2 pm.  I rushed up river that Monday to arrive by 1 pm, because I had to nail some house numbers on a tree near the end of the driveway, because some fool had run over the mailbox.  The bark on the tree was light gray.  The numbers were 7 inches high, black with reflective white edges.  From a distance of 8 feet you couldn't see the stupid numbers.

Drove up the rest of the driveway and found the invoice for the oil delivery on the front door.  They had pumped $9.32 worth of oil.  Duh?  The previous delivery had been in late February, for 250 gallons, so that means that up until February the furnace had been running, but had not been running since the February delivery.

The service guy arrived.  He said yeah, the oil tank is full, the gauge must be stuck on empty.  The furnace had to be reset, it must have run out of oil just before the February delivery and shut itself off.  Yup, the thermostat was dead, no idea why, sometimes they just fry themselves.  Especially after fifteen years.

I'm so glad there's no water in the pipes in the house.  It was a very cold February and March up there.

The furnace guy didn't want to install a new thermostat.  He was honest.  He said the thermostat isn't covered under my (very expensive) service contract, so the company would bill me $300 for a new one, but I could buy a perfectly good one for $65 at the big hardware store across the river and install it myself or have someone do it for me.  The Hunk works weird hours (UPS), so he was already sleeping and would be leaving for work at 9 pm.  It took me about 30 seconds thinking to say, "Fooey.  Do it now.  I'd rather have it working now than have to freeze here today and spend another night in a hotel."  (The bill has arrived, BTW, and I got a discount because of the service contract, so it was just a hair over $200.)  That's $400 so far on two trips up, in addition to the $100 per trip in gas and tolls, and I hadn't accomplished anything yet.

After the furnace guy left, I went to the deli to get a late lunch, and hit a pothole.  With the BMW.  Split a sidewall, about 1.5 inches.  Drove into the village to meet with Piper to discuss investment strategy, then drove to Rhinebeck to the tire place.  They didn't have my tire in stock (low profile, drive-flat).  They can get it in by tomorrow morning, but that's ok, I can drive on a blown drive-flat at low speeds for like 100 miles, no problem.

By then it was like 6 pm, and I was dog tired.  I poked around at the house a little bit, and went to bed early.  I slept very badly, hardly at all, because the alarm clock no longer works, and I needed to be up and dressed early.

At 7 am Tuesday morning, the Hunk came by to look at some tools I had told him he could have from the basement - a large standing drill press and a table saw.  He's been so dependable and helpful the past few years, keeping the grounds presentable and the house safe, as far as I'm concerned he can have everything I don't need.  He loaded the drill press into his truck, and then said, "Hey, your tire's flat."

BMWs don't come with spare tires.  Or jacks.  There's no place to put them anyway.

The damn thing was down to the rim.  No way I was going to drive it the 10 miles to Rhinebeck.  Now, the Hunk gets home from work about 6 am, works a variety of jobs until about 2 pm, goes to sleep for a few hours, and then back to UPS at 9 pm.  He had mentioned he had a contract in Rhinebeck that day.  I said I was going to call the tire place and get a tow truck.  He said no, he'd just take the tire off and take me and the tire to Rhinebeck - but he wouldn't be able to pick me up again until around 2, is that ok?

The new tire was on the rim at about 11, and I got a call from him as I was paying ($245) for it, he needed to go home to get some tools - so he picked me and the tire up, took us home, put the tire on the car, and retrieved his jack and tire iron, and went back to the job.

See why I don't mind giving him drill presses and table saws?

Continued next post.......