Thursday, March 5, 2015

Rats, Vertigo and Catching Up

***WARNING*** Gross factor (rat poo) in first picture!

I'll start with the latter...catching up.  Frankly, I don't think I will ever catch up, but I'd like to think I will.  I've been home from the northern state for two weeks already, hoping to stay here until the end of June but am already seeing hearing things from my dad that may change that.  Since I left, my sister hasn't been able to make it down to check on him either, and that concerns me.  I did eight loads of laundry in one day, and that didn't include my new fabric.  There were still a couple loads that could have been done, and now laundry has piled up again - my guys have unlearned their good habits during my frequent absences.  I've only asked that they bring their dirty laundry and set it on the washer daily, and that Nick take his clean clothes from the garage (where the laundry is) to his room.  One of my first tasks was also to review (read 'toss') things still in the refrigerator from mid-January that they ignored. 

While I was still up north, I had a chat message from my son saying we had invaders beginning with "R" and ending with "odent" - cute, huh? - so I asked if mice or rats and where?  He said they thought mice and in the garage and they could hear them in the attic crawl space.  I suggested they get some traps and deal with it.  When I arrived home, I took a flashlight and investigated a bit more closely.  I keep my pantry overflow of canned and boxed goods, and potatoes, onions, apples out in the garage.  The first thing I saw was a tiny little mouse-trap set with a tiny little piece of cheese sitting out in the open on a shelf.  Then I saw the 'droppings', that is NOT from a mouse, that IS from a rat, and the rat will laugh at that mousetrap.  Keep in mind, I'm a country girl (or at least was) and my dear hubby and son are both entirely city boys even if hubs does like to be out in the wilds backpacking.  He knows nothing about these things.

This is a rat trap, not the mouse trap and it has been set for a week, no takers, and I'm not sure it's still set correctly.  Notice the wrapper was chewed into - it was a granola-type bar.
To refresh myself, I researched online - we never really had rats on the ranch, but mice were often in the feed and in the house!  I had hubby go out and get some rat traps, though I think they may be too big - isn't there a medium size? our rats aren't huge.  The research also said to make sure all points of entry have been plugged so Marty took care of that aspect.  He set ONE trap (it was recommended to set a dozen of them in many places).  Still no takers.  I had noticed that they had chewed into the potatoes, and especially had chewed into the packets in a box of instant potatoes!  

The first bottle I noticed.  I actually thought at first that maybe it had fallen onto the concrete floor and had been placed back on the shelf without it be realized it had split open.  But obviously, those are teeth marks!
Days later I discovered, in the other garage (we have technically a 3-car garage - might fit Smart Cars - with one side being 'finished' with a door that stays closed in between), that the shelf where we keep water and soda was wet.  Looking closer, I saw that several of the water bottles had the bottoms chewed out of them!  Can you believe that?  I was stunned.  Can rats smell water in those bottles through the plastic?  Hubs set two more traps there, but still no takers.  We still hear them in the attic area, and in the upstairs 'new' bathroom, the cats keep listening at the tub, so it sounds like they're going from the attic, down the wall and under the tub.  There is an outdoor access panel that hubs says is sealed, but I want him to open it and place a couple traps in there as well as in the attic.  What was Marty's comment?  "I was hoping to starve them out."  Um, if they're now trapped within the house having sealed up any access points, and they starve to death, they are going to STINK!  Such a city boy, lol.

Rats are supposed to really like peanut butter.  Notice the bottom of that water bottle, still in the case wrapping, chewed out and empty.  Several are that way.

The bag of potatoes chewed into, and though it can't really be seen, they had eaten quite a bit of several potatoes.

Research also said to hold off on cleanup until you're sure the rats are eliminated.  So I've been holding off feeling really grossed out, though I bought the bleach, and hubs bought the face masks. I need new rubber gloves yet.

So the vertigo.  Well now, isn't that fun?  I've had brief bouts of this somewhat frequently in recent years, but usually only feel its effects when I lay down so it's never been a problem.  A few days ago, out of the blue sitting in my office chair, the world started spinning if I tilted my head off center.  It persists, but not horribly, though enough to make me feel like my brain is a bowl of Jell-o when I walk or try to drive.  Sometimes its ok, other times not, and when I lie down, at times, the room spins like a pinwheel in the wind for about 30 seconds.  Interestingly, before I came home, my brother Eugene had been at my dad's and he was suffering from it big time and is on about day 19 with very slow progress of getting better.  He's glad he's in between job assignments.  Since I feel a little wonky driving, and because Nick has a minimum day today, I let him take my car all on his own, but as he doesn't have a school parking permit, he'll have to park on the street about a block away.

I'm supposed to be preparing for a meeting with our financial dude tomorrow...I may not be as ready as I'd like, but it will have to suffice.  We then have our tax appointment on the 16th,

Monday, February 16, 2015

Forgetfulness and a Wee Rant

This post is a little bit quilty, but not so much, so I'm keeping it here.  Back in July for my birthday my cousin-in-law (probably the cousin too) gave me a gift card for JoAnn Fabrics.  I don't get there very often and I've been trying to think what I could buy that would make me happy that I probably wouldn't buy at a quilt shop.  There are lots of choices actually :)

While I'm here in the wet land where they don't charge the 9% sales tax on goods, I decided I'd better think fast since I'm going home on Thursday.  Aha, I can get the much-needed white/neutral flannel for my design wall.  As it so happens, it's President's Day and they have a 60% off sale going on.  How cool is that?  I figured I needed around six yards to cover my 8' x 8' design wall.  No problem.  I find the fabric and walk to the cutting table.

There are two other ladies waiting as a third is getting her fabrics cut.  I'm not paying much attention other than that those two ladies are ahead of me.  At one point the cutter said something, but I wasn't paying attention at all.  So the second gal goes up and gets her Velcro, but before getting it cut, the cutter tells her she could get a pre-cut 1 yard for about half the price and goes over and gets it off the shelf for her.  Cool, that was nice.  The third gal goes up and starts to get her fabrics cut and I realize that the cutter is saying "and you must be number 73" and I notice she changes the number on a machine up above the cutting table.  I then notice another gal comes up and way at the end in a less than conspicuous place, is a machine that spits out the next number and she gets 74.  I stay where I am, the cutter has clearly seen that I've been standing there through the first three people she's helped, and at that time only one more person "after me" had grabbed a number and that person then wanders off to peruse other areas of the store.

She finishes up #73 and proceeds to call #74 as a man walks up to get #75 and I move to the cutting table thinking this won't be a problem as she has seen me this entire time.  This cutter starts to give me grief about not taking a number.  I told her I didn't realize it was there until after #74 had pulled hers as #74 returns so she asks #74 if it's ok and still gives me words about the number and I told I had obviously been waiting there and she SAW me but never said a word about getting a number!

She finally asked me how much I wanted and told me what the discounted and then the total price would be - must be something they have to do now - and as she's finishing up, she starts giving me words AGAIN about the numbering machine.  I told her I'd never been in this part of the store before and didn't know.  I should have just kept my own tongue silent and given her 'that' look like 'really?' and this after she was so nice to the second gal.  Touchy, touchy, touchy.  And of all things, her name was Grace, of which she wasn't exhibiting much at that point, nor was I, I suppose.

Well, I politely took my fabric, and my ticket to the checkout counter and paid for my $14 and change purchase, with what? my gift card?  NO!! I was so rattled I went into auto-pay mode and pulled out my CREDIT CARD!  I guess I'll have my gift card for the next time I'm up here because I'm certainly not going back there today!  The other item I considered purchasing was can wait, probably even until next President's Day and maybe Grace will have moved to greener pastures by then.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Life in the Slow Lane

I see my last post here on D.O.O.W. was already a week ago...definitely in the slow lane.  To say 2014 threw me off-kilter is putting it mildly, but I've been home for two full months, and one would think I'd be back in gear by now, yet I'm not.  I'm not sure if that still has to do with the grieving process from losing my mom, knowing I still have to contend with my dad's ongoing issues and trips back to the northern wet land, or just a build up of many issues these last few years.  What I do know is that motivation and enthusiasm aren't real strong right now, so things get put off and left undone and then they build up and that adds to the feelings of being overwhelmed and it seems an endless cycle.  I'm tired just thinking of all that needs to be done!

One specific thing that popped up while I've been home, and I'll try not to expend too many words on it, but about a month ago, I started getting sustained heart palpitations.  I went to my usual urgent care facility, which is also where my regular doctor is, but when you just walk in you see whomever is available and this time it was the Physician's Assistant (how does one formally address them? they aren't Dr.  So-and-So) who diagnosed them as PVC's (premature ventricular contractions) which typically are more bothersome than threatening.  She referred me to a local cardiologist for a stress test but when I went, her equipment wasn't working and I just didn't have a good feeling about her office and staff in general so did not make a subsequent appointment.  I found a different cardiologist; the appointment was yesterday.  I really liked him, his staff and his office set up - stuff like that is really important in my book!  I explained the stresses of this past year and gave my health history along with any family health issues.  He fit in a stress test while I was there.  During that test, my BP went up to 240/100 so they stopped the test and will do another one again in a couple months.  In the meantime, they fitted me with a 24-hour monitor (the top lead is so itchy!) and have me scheduled for further tests in February.  He recommended I take the usual baby aspirin dosage and take magnesium (oxide), which has a natural bp-lowering affect and wants me to continue monitoring my BP at home.  He doesn't think there's any reason I should postpone my trip back up to the wet land around the 20th.  

In other news, the furnace has been repaired as of yesterday.  There was a part that normally opens & closes and it was sticking closed, so had to be replaced.  All is good, and warm, now = happiness :)

After the cold snap of several nights with sub-freezing temperatures, I took inventory of how our outdoor plants survived.  Here are some photos of their really sad condition:

Jade plant, normally stands about three feet high, was looking very round and full and in bloom.  Very sadly drooping.

All of those fleshy 'petals' froze and are too damaged to recover.  If left alone, they will turn black, dry up and fall off.  If the main stem(s) weren't damaged too much, they will produce new growth and the plant will come back even fuller...unless I prune them back lower to the ground.

Some areas that weren't quite so exposed, were unharmed.  These plants get these clusters of star-shaped flowers (no fragrance) usually around December, but I think these plants actually were getting them in October this past year.

The second plant at the other end of the window is more exposed and suffered more damage.  It isn't dead, but sure doesn't look very pretty.

The geranium plant didn't fare very well either, though the "Red Apple" plant that hasn't been tended to all year did fine.  It doesn't belong IN the geranium pot, but not much has been maintained in these areas in my absences of 2014.

The aloe on the doorstep is fine - it's well protected, but does need to be cleaned up of the old dried 'leaves'.  That's a good-sized plant in a large pot.

In the back yard, the Schefflera suffered significant leaf damage, already turning brown.  It has long needed some maintenance and pruning, so it may finally get some...or not.

This 'frond' was the only one damaged on the large epiphyllum.  It's also long over due for pruning care.

The Naked Lady lily variety suffered as well.  The exposed leaves froze but it still lives.  I noticed a second plant was appearing a few feet away from the mother plant.  It's been planted here for about 17 years without much care other than to occasionally pull away the dead dry leaves.

I know this doesn't look like much, but if you note the far left corner you'll see a bit of green.  That's how this Airplane plant aka Spider plant aka Chlorophytum comosum 'Vittatum' plant is supposed to look, and I suppose there's a whole lot left under all the dead leaves, but most of the leaves that were exposed are now those dead, dark looking streaks in this photo.  This is one of those plants that self-propagates by sending out runners with baby plants, so it's virtually indestructible.  It will be back.

And what did I spy in my bulb pots?  New growth!  This is just one of them but all three or four pots had new shoots popping up. 

Oh Flame, I know you're not squawking at me; nice yawn!  Truly life in the slow lane.

Flame, stop laughing at me!  Flame and Raven enjoying a small patch of sun hitting the bed.  With double-paned windows, it's really hard to get a really good patch of sun in which to bask, but they try.  More remarkable is that they are this close together while laying down!

Next week starts off with Nick back to school on Monday and me taking "the girls" to visit the torture device.  That'll be one more thing off my list. Nick's asking for me to arrange for music or voice lessons again.  Unless he miraculously is endowed with a car, it would have to be arranged to have someone come to our home; not sure I'm comfortable with that during those times I'm gone.  What to do, what to do. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Such a Wimp!

Overnight, our thermostat is set to 50.  In the house it rarely drops below 55.  Last night was the second night in a row with outside temperatures dropping to 26 degrees, and THIS is supposed to be a warm climate!  I suppose it is compared to the Midwest and the Atlantic states, and even Texas lately!  While these temps are not sustained, we do get them at this time of year.

This morning, after sleeping in and not getting up until after 8:30 I went to our three zonal thermostats and set them all for 68.   That's pretty much the 'high' for our winter indoor living comfort and while that's still chilly, it works much better than 72 on the pocket book - we've learned to adjust and throw on a sweater or jacket if chilled.  Though Marty was up a whole lot earlier, probably by 7:00, he NEVER turns the thermostat up.  This morning he told me he didn't know how...he promptly got a lesson!  

After about 30 minutes or so, I realized that while I could hear the rooftop unit 'humming' it never really kicked in to produce heat.  Swell.  SO.... Nick is in his room with the door closed and a space heater running and I dug out the only other space heater and let Marty have it down at his computer for awhile, the 'stole' it and brought it to my quilt room and closed the door.  Marty has a better tolerance (maybe he's just being macho...or selfless, or sacrificial) for the cold.  He's been outside and done some outdoor chores, but the furnace on the roof requires the furnace man.  I did call him and leave a message and he'd called back within an hour and said he should be able to make here sometime between 1:00 and 3:00.  It's 2:15 and not yet!  Sure hope he keeps his word, but even if he does, I suspect he may have to order a part or parts and that could takes days, or longer.  

His company originally installed the combo air/furnace unit several years ago- like maybe six or seven - and this was the first year we haven't had it serviced per the (rather loose) contract.  His partner said they'd had a computer crash and were trying to retrieve their files.  Not a problem - I haven't been around much myself and Marty wouldn't be able to arrange a time from work to accommodate the servicing.  A few weeks ago the partner had called and explained this and set up an appointment, but never showed nor called and with the holidays, I didn't call either.  Whatever the problem, it likely would have shown up whether serviced or not as we've had a few hiccups that have worked themselves out over the last year.  It's controlled with computerized equipment, and we all know just how that can go.

Waiting, waiting, waiting :)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One More Day of 2014

It's hard to believe just how quickly this year passed; surely you must think so too.  

I surely hope that 2015 isn't quite as hectic, and doesn't require as many trips up north, but I won't hold my breath on that one.  I'll be headed north again around the 20th of January and that'll depend a lot on the road conditions through the passes...I don't do snow and ice if I can help it!  In fact, I'd be perfectly happy just staying home until all possibilities of snow have ended, but that's probably too much to hope for. 

Our Christmas tree was quite nice this year - found a nice full one and its trunk was straight!  For the last two years, we've only used the artificial 4' tree.  I still struggle through the Christmas holidays - many reasons - and this year apparently had enough anxiety about it that I was having some all-day-long heart palpitations and skipped beats.  After two weeks, I did go to the doctor who called them PVCs and referred me to a cardiologist for a stress test.  Well, that didn't work out, and I haven't tried to make another appointment yet, but as soon as we got past Christmas, those palpitations lessened to the point there are very few at all now.

2014 Christmas tree, very bushy!  I didn't put all the usual decorations on it, just didn't have the energy. 
 I will probably start taking the tree down on Friday as our our trash pick-up will be collecting them on Saturday, and with only about three weeks left at home, it would be a good time to make a concerted effort at taming the giant dust monster from every corner of the house. 
Flame and Raven - about as close to snuggling together as they've ever been.  Though they are only weeks apart in age and came to live with us when very young but at separate times, they aren't snugglers with each other or even us.
These kitties aren't really big on canned food and usually only take a few licks before walking away.  Today, Flame decided she was really hungry.  I fed her canned food twice and the second time, Raven was there as well and they both ate off the same plate from the same blop of food at the same time!  That's a first.  Earlier in the day, Flame also came and crawled into my lap and lay down for about five minutes and right now she's digging up the towel in her box like she wants to crawl under it.

The kitties, not sure which one so both are guilty, gave me one casualty.  Not bad for a first time with the big tree and all the decorations.  Raven decided she likes to play in the water basin, so she might have been the culprit, but Flame is aka Klepto-Cat and likes shiny things so it may have been her.
This will likely be my last post of 2014.  I need to find, or buy, a new memory card for 2015 for the camera. 

May you have a safe, and blessed New Year. May your troubles be few, and may your joys abound.  May you have love, and peace, in all your relationships (even with those who are 'difficult'!).  


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cleaning & Scrubbing

I was able to get Clue 2 of Grand Illusion finished pretty early - easy to do if you don't do anything else, and that's usually what I do with my weekends....very little in the way of housework!

So, what have I been doing in my non-quilty time?  Some of those once or twice a year, or decade in the case of some, maybe in a lifetime for others, but for me, something I like to get done at least once every year things.  I tackled the very necessary chest freezer clean-out, defrost and inventory on one day.  With being gone so much this year, I've had no clue what's still here and long-forgotten how old some things might be.  This freezer only builds up ice around the top rim because when you open it, warm air hits it and creates moisture, which then freezes when you close the lid.  It isn't a very large freezer, just big enough for our little family, so I empty everything into ice chests, then scoop up any loose things like spilled frozen veggies - why do the clips not get put back on those open bags? - I then run as hot of water as I can into my large soup pan/spaghetti pot, set it in atop a towel I've placed on the bottom, then close the lid and leave it alone for about 45 minutes.  Oh, and I've turned it OFF!  

When I come back, the ice on the side slips right off, I remove the hot water pan(s) and scoop out the ice then mop up any melted ice/water and dry the sides and bottom, turn it back on and re-inventory the items as I put them back....unless it's an item that gets tossed.  I also did the refrigerator's freezer but it doesn't ice up so  it was just a basic clean-out and inventory.

Once those were done, I tackled the pantry - a deep, shelved, "walk-in" space about 32" x 38". There's just enough room between the shelves and the door for a small rolling cart, and to store a few things on the floor.  I also have some overflow shelves out in the garage, so all of these were cleaned, re-organized and re-inventoried.  It's amazing how much I've crammed into those spaces.

I cleansered (is that a legitimate word?) the kitchen sink after soaking it with scalding hot water and bleach.  I discovered that the 'splashless' bleach is not quite the same as regular bleach...whatever the additive is in it, it suds, and suds a lot.  I noticed too on the jug that, in very small print, it says "Not for sanitization or disinfection.  To sanitize and disinfect, use Clorox Regular-Bleach.".  Well, so much for sanitizing and disinfecting.  I will be far more careful to read the label on my next bleach purchase.  Who knew, right?

Today, I tackled the inside of the refrigerator.  Oh my! but it was a mess.  More things got dumped.  Who needs salad dressing bottles with a half-inch of dressing remaining that "expired" a year ago?  And ugh, those shelves in the door were filthy! Not to mention the bottom after I removed the drawers. 

Oops, I need to be paying attention to the clock, it's almost time to go pick Nick up from school.

Sorry I took no pictures of my "before" and my "after"; the before would have been too embarrassing anyway.  Next, I need to tackle the microwave - sure wish my guys would learn to clean up after themselves - would make my life easier!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thursday's Thoughts are Lacking

Truly I am loving being home.  I have found though, that I am mentally all out of sorts lately.  Staying focused is a challenge.  Today I updated our financial stuff and discovered I was two days late on our cable bill.  Glad they don't automatically shut it off.  But the bigger question is, how did I manage to overlook paying it, and also end up almost late on a credit card payment?  I'm thinking this whole back and forth between home and my dad's, from my own records to his records, from my former - now non-existent - routines here at home to living day by day, has totally fried my brain.  I told my husband my routines were all out of whack and he said "What routines?"; poor man doesn't know or recognize I had routines....well, I did, even if they were often hit and miss, now they don't exist at all and my thought processes aren't even thinking about making lists to get back on track.  If I'm rambling, reread my second sentence ;p
This was a 'from scratch', crust and all, turkey pot pie.  I found the recipe online and it was from a Taste of Home contributor.  Instead of crimping the crust, I just overlapped the top one and tucked it down the insides of the pie plate.  This would have been a good one for Toaster Oven Tuesday.

This is all that was left after dinner, and I got to enjoy the leftover for lunch the next day.  The crust was really flaky.  I guess with 2/3 c. + 2T shortening it should be!

We had a pretty good rain soaking a couple days ago.  So much so that the birds were trying to find a dry spot.  Outside our upstairs windows are 'planter' ledges and you can see the silhouette of a little finch hanging out safely with Flame on the inside trying to figure out how she could grab that little birdie.  At one point there were two on the ledge, and my poor kitty was quite frustrated!

The ash tree in our back yard has finally turned to its beautiful fall yellow; leaves are beginning to drop - the heavy rains helped as well to get them to drop.  This is normal that it's leaves do not drop until December, while in other parts of the country, ash trees will have lost their leaves two months ago.

Some of the leaves floating on what becomes our own private 4" deep 'lake' in the back.  Previous owner was a cement guy so except where the ash tree is in a 20' x 20' section of lawn (make that roots & dirt), the rest is all concrete and as it's all well over 20 years old, the roots of the over-50 year tree have cracked and lifted the concrete, so water collects in that back corner.  The birds love it at times, gives them a place for water, and worm-collection.
Flame discovered she can jump from the desk top to the top of my 6' tall bookshelf upon which I have some boxed projects.She was hoping she could just jump down without Nick's help - she's very independent you know.  Nick is now 5'10" and that hair almost makes it to 6'.

I took this through the side window of my car.  Kind of represents my brain these days, very foggy.  This was somewhere south of a major university town on the interstate in the wet land I keep going to.  Those aren't DUCKS in the field ;p  they're cattle.  There were places where the fog was so thick you couldn't see but a few car lengths ahead of you...and some drivers weren't going any slower.  Me?  Well, 55 was a good speed rather than the 72 the policeman accused me of on the previous trip south.  He still reminded me of Don Knotts in Mayberry, RFD, lol.

That's it for this week, we'll see how long before I post again.  I'm hoping Bonnie Hunter's electricity gets back on so that she can get the next step of Grand Illusion out for us tomorrow.  That woman is an absolute wonder at how much she gets done.  I want to be like her when if I grow up before I die.  She must be incredibly organized and seems to have energy to burn.
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