The dry sauna and the wind tunnel

I just took my first fall in two-and-a-half weeks, after the jubilation of finally finding my specialist yesterday.

Maybe I didn’t sleep last night. Maybe I did too much at the gym. Maybe I was stressed after reading the report of the insurance adjuster that my home has more than $10,000 in damage from what I call, “the toilet explosion.”

I tripped. I think I might have misjudged the length of my steps when I tried to step over the industrial fan in my bathroom. I went in to wash the drain cleaner down the drain that I had prepped after my shower.

I fell into the cute submarine toiletry holder I let the teenager when she was a little girl. The smashing plastic sent me over the edge of the tub and I hit my head and my left elbow on the ceramic tile wall on the far side of the tub.

I was trying to protect my left ring finger, the one in the cast. I’m less than three weeks away from getting this cast off. I hope for good. Nine weeks with my finger in plaster.

My head hurts. My elbow hurts. But I think I’m okay.

If you look at the photo, I was crossing over the air mover in the foreground and my ass ended up in the box with all the soap and shampoo.

Since temperatures here have been in the 90s, the impact of that equipment in my small bathroom has made it very dry and very hot, probably 110 degrees. The towel rods melted.

I called it my dry sauna. I would sit there and wrap my cast before you bathed and took a cold shower in the hot room. I loved it.

And downstairs— the fans and dehumidifiers are on 24-hours-a-day. You know when you are in a tunnel? The roar of the exhaust fans? That’s my living space.

But today we got the news— the water did $10,000 in damage. It looks like the floor, subfloor and wall in the bathroom need to be ripped out. And we need some plumbing.

There’s a wall downstairs that will need work, and there will be painting. And a new ceiling.

And my hardwood floors will need repair and the entire floor downstairs will need to be refinished.

I think the insurance company is going a little overboard. But we’ll see what ServePro rips out when they start demolition next week.

But maybe… just maybe… we can move some of these fans tomorrow. No more falls.

First Experience in Home Improvement vs. Home Repair

My husband and I moved into this house in late January 2003. As with any older house, there is an endless list of things that need to be done— from bathroom sinks that flood the house to ceramic walls that fail to sewer lines that crack and hot water heaters that fail. And back decks that threaten to collapse.

Home ownership is not for the feint of heart.

But this is the first time in almost 20 years I am undertaking a home improvement project versus a home repair. And it’s a small one, but it’s still a roller coaster.

I’ve been through two small mom-and-pop appliance stores. Times have changed. I used to go to a family-owned appliance store (Schaffer’s Appliance in Easton) where I could walk in the door (like Norm from Cheers) and they didn’t know my name but they knew my Maytags.

I could walk in and say, “I need the stove to match my refrigerator” and they usually knew off the top of their heads what model I had. If not, they had a small box— like a recipe box from back in the day— where an index card listed my name, contact info and all my appliances.

I miss those days.

When my original Maytag Performa washer (circa 2000) died about four or five years ago, Schaffer’s had sold the business to another small shop. But now that shop has closed.

When my original refrigerator (alsoMaytag circa 2000) died two years ago, the replacement came from Best Buy and the experience was decent but I hate the fridge. When Schaffer’s delivered a fridge, they delivered it cold. They ran it at the shop to make sure it was good to go.

So now I’m building a laundry room.

I ordered a Samsung washer dryer combo from Lowe’s, based on various reviews I read online. At first, I had some issues ordering as I did it online and I’m not sure I got all the connectors/plugs.

Last night I received a call from Lowe’s asking if I really meant to order a washer and a dryer. I got nervous I accidentally ordered two pair. The person on the other end assured me I only ordered one pair.

The very nice person called back stating that they didn’t have my dryer, in any color, but they could deliver the washer. I told him I had a washer so I didn’t need two washers. I needed a dryer.

This confused him.

I’m building a new laundry room, I explained, so the combo has to be stackable. The old dryer has been dead for three years, but the washer is fine. It’s just not stackable and it’s not coming up from the basement.

So we canceled my order and he said I could come into the store and special order something but that Samsung could take months.

This made me grouchy, but such is life.

He called back at 8 p.m. and said he mentioned my plight to his manager and she found that model of washer/dryer that someone had recently canceled and I could have it.

So appliance delivery on again.

But out of three handymen with electrical experience I contacted only one even contacted me. My neighbor offered to help, but with the time frame, I have about ten days to figure this out.

Just me and the animals

The teenager and I did some cleaning today— all getting ready for the plumber to start building my laundry room on Tuesday.

The bathroom off the kitchen now looks like this:

But on Tuesday the shower is coming out to make room for a stackable washer dryer.

Meanwhile, after the gym and while the teenager was off at the diner doing her work thing, Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab foster cat tripod Louise and I did some more work on the fourth volume of the Kink Noir series by William Prystauk, a gritty erotic look at all the definitions of love with a hearty dose of darkness.

Then FURR Khloe came to relieve her. Apparently I need babysitting.

FURR Khloe

At 6:30 pm, I harnessed up the dog and we went to try a $3 pumpkin spice cold brew at Dunkin and pick up the teenager at work. The woman in the drive thru gave Bean a munchkin but she didn’t like it— probably because it was round. This mutt can’t eat round items.

And then old neighbors stopped by and we got to visit and hang out in another neighbor’s yard while there was quoits happening.

Isn’t that what Saturday should be?

Lessons I Have Revisited This Week

For a while, I was writing everyday on this platform. Recently, life has gotten busy and I shifted my focus to more organized blog entries than random posts.

So I slowed my writing down to times when I am rested and focused— which sometimes isn’t that often. But seriously, this week brought me great joy and also sorrow. In those emotions, I revisited some favorite life lessons. Many, but not all, involve cats.

First, there is Louise, the freshly amputee cat. She spent two weeks under my bed. Probably still confused and uncomfortable from her surgery, but also scared and scarred from her experiences before someone contacted Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab to get this injured apparent stray some help— both material and medical.

After two weeks under my bed, she’s trusting me. She’s super affectionate, cuddly, purrs like a machine and playful. She’s gentle and sweet and doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.

Louise tested my patience and rewarded me with her love.

Hermes, yes another foster, got adopted yesterday. He came to us as a very sick kitten on July 31, 2020 as part of the Greek Pride. His sister Hades sent me to the hospital. But that’s another story.

Hermes was terrified of human hands for most of his life, and he’s still a quirky cat. His new family knows his flaws, but they are confident that he should be their cat.

Hermes reminded me that some growth is slow, but can transform everything about how you live your life. And that we are all on a different timeline.

Touch of Grey, a four-year-old owner surrender, has been with us about two weeks because of her tendency to be bitchy and nasty. She’s been an angel with us, even going so far as to try and convince Hermes’ parents to take her home instead.

Sometimes we only thrive in certain environments. What nurtures me might not work for you.

The hardest part of this week was caring for the Ten Little Kittens who were starving and probably have distemper. Only two survived the week. (More on that here: Ten Tiny Kittens) To see some kitten cuteness: Parker Playing.

Sometimes there is beauty and divinity in the briefest of lives, and knowing you did something, even if it leads to heartache, is better than doing nothing.

Okay. No more cats. I had a conversation with someone whom I’m known for a long time— decades. She has had a good career with the same employer the entire time I’ve known her. She’s my age. She asked where I landed after last year’s job loss. I mentioned the Stitch Fix warehouse and expected the conversation to drop or to get that sense I get from people that my job makes me less important or less of a person now.

Instead, she asked if we were hiring and if I thought it was a good job. I explained the pay, the good and the bad. Apparently she has no holiday pay, no paid time off, and ten hour days. Her job is taking a toll on her body and she just wants to move on.

This country places too much emphasis on our jobs and careers as the definition of who we are. And it’s upsetting how basic quality of life items like health care and paid time off are regulated by/ reliant on corporations and small business owners. Your worth is not based on your occupation.

I went to the diner last night to have pancakes and see the charming teenager #1 at work. One of her regulars asked her to help with his dogs so he and I have been talking. He’s a conservative Christian Trump supporter and I am a liberal with socialist leanings. I told him right off we probably had very different opinions on a lot of issues. But we had a polite discussion and did not attack each other.

Listening and sharing information has to be a polite and earnest exchange. People can have different opinions but respect each other and, even so, cooperate.

This old house and this old brain

This is my first full work week post-Covid. Last night was the first night of the week that I felt competent and capable.

And now today that feeling is gone. I’m slow. I can’t even say I’m tired but my brain is foggy and I just can’t do more or move faster.

Last night I packed 75 fixes at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I took about 5 1/2 minutes per fix which was a nice improvement over the previous night.

But tonight I am averaging 6 1/2 minutes per fix— almost double the goal of 3 3/4 minutes per fix. Three minutes and 45 seconds to fold five pieces of clothing into a box. Neatly.

They announced mandatory overtime tonight. Starting Monday everyone must work eight extra hours per week. I’m struggling to survive 40 so this was not the news I needed.

At home, the parakeet chicks look like real birds. Mama Periwinkle still won’t let her best friend Peek-a-Booboo into the cage—I tried to reintroduce her into the cage and Periwinkle flew over to her, grabbed her by the neck and threw her to the ground. So poor Booboo remains in isolation.

Nala might be done plucking but the damage is done. Her wings look like Buffalo wings.

And tomorrow Loki has another family coming to consider him.

The teens have an appointment at 11 to use the gift certificates I bought them for the salon. They both plan to get a set of acrylic nails.

In preparation, teenager #1 is trying to finish household projects. Like mounting the new dustbuster to the wall. And swapping out my bedroom door.

I had several beautiful moments with my daughter this week, and some good reflections. So I guess this blog entry is a good introduction into what may come in the next few days.

And if you google “how many calories do you burn folding clothes,” the answer is an optimistic 148 an hour. That suggests I’m burning 1,000 calories a night.

As I fold, I listen to podcasts. And I think. And I am reminded how often is takes finesse and skill to do our best when we are not good at something and wish to be.

I intellectually tell myself that coming back after Covid to a new job is hard, and that I have to stop comparing myself to my experienced colleagues. But it’s hard.

My new floor

So, after the kittens spilled charcoal lighter all over the floor in the mud room last week, the teenager became adamant she was going to lay a real floor in that area.

It’s had only a subfloor since my husband and I bought the house more than 17-years-ago.

Last week, I took her to the independent hardware store to get the supplies (and I also got copies of my house keys, drain clog stuff, a plunger and wasp killer— and when your backroom absorbs an entire bottle of flammable liquid because you have no floor out there, those items all count as necessities).

She worked on it three hours today and actually laid it twice. And now some of our friends keep pointing out that she didn’t stagger the interlocking laminate.

Well, the room didn’t have a floor for 17 years and it has one now.

I’m proud.

She did it all by herself.

Friday Funday

Today had some elements of greatness among the toil of a long work day in the midst of a pandemic.

  • We had a lovely walk.
  • We had pizza.
  • I got a free doughnut.
  • We got a Yum box.
  • We went to Family Dollar for school supplies and found some other surprises.
  • My truck is only $5,000. Maybe I can really buy it.
  • I got a new plunger.
  • I helped my blind friend Nancy open a Twitter account.

If none of that sounds interesting just skip this entry, but you might enjoy this “a day in the life.”

I had to go to the local Goin Postal to print and mail a grant for work. I brought the teenager along so she could grab some Little Caesars pizza and school supplies from Family Dollar as I figured I’d be in the shop for an hour.

The dollar store had clearance jelly beans for 75% off! I got three bags for $1!!! The teenager got lead for her favorite mechanical pencils and pens for my home office. We also got two really big cans of cat food. Because four cats.

The teenager procured some food items too— though some may not qualify as food. Lemon sugar wagers, pickles, blueberry muffins, beef ramen, generic pop tarts, sour freeze pops and Slim Jim’s.

We came home and she did school work while I did office work. At 2 pm, I took my meal break to go to the local hardware store. We needed caulk, wood patch, drain unclogger, a plunger, and items for a floor in the mud room.

I’ll have to take some photos of the nice laminate plank flooring the teen picked out for her floor. I even got wasp killer and some keys made.

Spent $180. But that includes 60 square feet of flooring.

That was also when I noticed my old aging truck was only $5,000.

I want this truck.

So we then stopped at Dunkin because it’s Free Doughnut Friday and since I only leave the house about once a week might as well make it exciting.

I worked late. Went straight to a telephone meeting with Nancy, my blind friend who I do computer stuff for. Long story short— we ended up putting her on Twitter and she followed a whole bunch of NASA stuff. Try explaining Twitter to a blind person. Just try.

Then once we finished, the teenager and I had her Universal Yums box for dinner. It was amazing! Scandinavian goodies for the win!

Unboxing and tasting video here: April 2020 Scandinavia Universal Yum Box

And then I tried the new plunger. It worked so well the gunk was coming out that little hole in the drain circle where the flipper for the tub plug goes. Under the spigot.

And that was my exciting day. Everyone even hung out with me.

DIY hair and drain projects—hopefully one will work

It’s Sunday night. I’m succumbing to the stress of facing another Monday. So rather than watch excessive amounts of my main squeeze Gordon Ramsay, I decided to scrub the tub, work on the drains and update my hair.

I thought I’d trim my hair— the teenager offered to help me but the timing hasn’t worked out. I thought before I cut it maybe I’d dye my hair. When this is all over, I can get a short haircut and remove the color if I get sick of it or it causes trouble at work.

Phase I

I don’t have any hair bleach at home, as it’s been at least two years since I ventured into Manic Panic realm. But I did find some old cream bleach so ancient that it had burned the inside of the box. It has been at least a decade since I started waxing my upper lip instead of bleaching it.

So I mixed it up and smeared it into my hair. As it percolated, I scrubbed the tub with baking soda and poured about half a large bottle of vinegar down the drain while plunging. That should help free our pipes.

This is probably a bad idea

Next I’m going to start the tea pot and pour boiling water and ammonia down there before I rinse the bleach off my head.

Phase II

Poured some ammonia and the boiling hot water down the tub drain. Now to rinse my hair of the bleach mixture.

My hair has a few paler spots — a little redness here and there. My drain didn’t fare much better. I even used the barbed snake thing and I don’t see a difference in water drainage speed.

Phase III

The teenager is smearing Manic Panic into my hair— we have an aquamarine color from one of the times we dyed her hair in her pre-marching band days and some Green Envy Intensified. We also found Argan Oil Hair color in green and magenta.

The teenager has splattered hair dye liberally.

Your head looks like a fifth grader’s art project and a unicorn threw up on your face.

The teenager, remarking on the quality of her work

Phase IV

The only time I use my hair dryer.

Now to watch TV— my main squeeze Gordon Ramsay— while my hair dries some more. I used the blow dryer but my hair is so thick I’d have to bake it for days.

My buffalo chicken spaghetti squash casserole did not hit the spot for the teen, so we ended up splitting a can of Spaghettios with meatballs. Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo, approved.

Phase V

Shower. As soon as this episode of Hell’s Kitchen is over. There’s a contestant on the red team from Bethlehem, Pa. That’s where my husband and I met at Moravian College while earning our English degrees.

My hair is nice and crispy. This should be interesting.

The magenta hair dye went everywhere in the shower, and despite all my efforts with the drains I was standing with dark purple water up to my ankles.

Phase VI

I plunged the tub while waiting for the teenager to come up and give my hair a trim. The plunger split. Which might explain why I haven’t had much luck with the drain. The plunger has not been getting a good seal.

Phase VII

The teen — who has no experience or knowledge in hair— gives me a haircut. I wanted her to trim a few bushy errant pieces but I told her to cut what she wanted. She used my sewing scissors.

It looks good. Can only see some magenta in this evening light.

My new haircut and color