Thursday, December 13, 2018

HOW MANY THINGS CAN NEED TO BE REDONE?

I know I complain a lot.  Life used to be relatively organized.  I would do things and be done with them.  Lately everything seems to be awry.  I do things and they have to be redone.

One of the things I do in November is reserve the meeting room for the following year for my embroidery group.  This was relatively simple at first.  I would receive the paperwork in the mail early in November, fill it in, have my signature notarized and mail it back - and we had room - free - to meet in for another year. 

We had met in a series of churches over decades - back to before I joined the group in the 1990s.  (The group is around 40 years old.)  We would pay for our meeting room. The group used to be over 400 members.    The group would have workshops and interested members would pay for same which would allow the group to pay for a meeting room. Over the years members aged (with the inevitable result) and moved away.  Women were working and could not come to day meetings.  (A new group had broken off from ours and meets at night in the next county - some members belong to both groups.)  Interest in embroidery waned.  We were down to around 20 members.  I figured out (as treasurer) that in 3 years we no longer would have anything in the treasury and the group would be gone.  As I was about to sign the agreement for the next year, I noticed a mailer from the local township.  One of the parks caught my eye.  I called and asked about the use of a room for meetings.  We had just enough percentage of members who were residents of the township for a room - since we are non-profit - it would be free!  We were given space at a park other than the one I saw and we have been there for 5 years now.  The women who work in the park office have been very nice.  The first woman who ran it, however retired.  Since then it has been a bit confused in renewing the room.  Last year I did not get the form until late so I had made a note for November 1 to check with them.

October 31 I received a phone call asking for the group’s email address.  I called back and left it on voice mail.  A week later, nothing had come and I had not heard from anyone.  I called back in case my voice mail had gone astray and was given someone else’s voice mail and left the info again.  Another week - I called and was told that the forms would be out shortly. The next week was Thanksgiving.  I was telephoned the day before same by the woman who used to run the department who again asked for my email - I told her the story and she apologized.  She called back later to check which park we meet in.  Thank goodness it was all finally going to be done with!  On Tuesday the next week I received the paperwork by email.  I filled it in.  Wednesday I went to the bank and had the paperwork notarized and on Thursday mailed it back.  All done, finally, how great.

The following Tuesday I had a telephone message when we got home from errands, basically, sorry. another group meets in that room then.  Hmmm, we meet in that room then, maybe the nice former director had filled us in already on some chart or form?  I called her back the next morning.  No - another group was meeting at an overlapping time to ours - and she had a different location for us to met.  I questioned how this had happened.  The other group got their paperwork in first.  I told her the story of trying to get the paperwork and how unfair that someone else had, apparently gotten their paperwork earlier than us and taken our space.  I also explained that we were a group of “old ladies” - which we are, at 65 I am the youngest - and I was afraid that finding the other park would be too hard for them.  She hmmmed a bit.  Then said that since we only meet once a month and the other group meets more often maybe she could get them to give up the room for the once a month.  She did and we have the room back for next year.

Totally unrelated - and dealing with the county instead of the township - husband and I are entitled to a reduction in our real estate taxes due to our age and income.  I started collecting information for the paperwork in January - well I actually collected some during 2017.  I had to telephone our medical insurance companies for last year (which we had 4 of do to R switching to Medicare partway through the year) and get printouts of the premiums paid to them - listed by month paid.  Of course one only gave a total and I to keep after them for the correct info.  I also had to get listings of what we paid for prescriptions (Walmart pharmacy was the easiest of all the info needed for me to get) and the dentist and doctors from the providers themselves.  I did not bother with the doctors as payments to them were minor.  We have to get statements from who we paid - canceled checks are not accepted.

In late August I received the renewal papers from the county (we had gone through all this last year for the first time).  I filled them in and continued to chase down missing information.  While husband was incapacitated I finished the forms and started making the photocopies I needed to give them - photocopies of income, of the medical expenses, etc.  I wrote a summary of what I was giving them.  I wrote a cover letter.  We mailed it out certified mail (almost $7 postage) on November 27 - and received the information that it had been delivered and signed for on November 29.  We sat back to wait to hear from the county in April - maybe earlier if they wanted some other information.

Monday night we got a robocall from the county executive that we have not yet filled the renewal for our exemption! We panicked.  Tuesday I was taking my mom to her doctor and I called before I left for her house.  I got a voice mail setup and left my information and asked them to PLEASE call back and let me know if they were missing our application - knowing that they would not call back.  Oh, well, this was better than last year.  Last year when I called for information their telephone number was continually answered by voice mail that said, basically, we are too busy to answer the phone - goodby, although after calling for several weeks the message was changed by adding - that there is not enough parking here, so don’t come either.  While mom was in with her doctor I called again.  This time there was a message that people were called who should not have been called and - the message only applied to those over 65 and if one had receipt from them for the paperwork given, they were fine.  It offered a chance to talk to exemptions (overall I was calling the county tax assessor’s office) and I did so - same message as in the morning and I again asked to PLEASE let me know if they have our paperwork - just leave the message on our answering machine, they did not even have to talk to us.

Local news last night talked about the robocall error  - it showed the lines that people were on for 2 hours due to the call - as did the local paper today - 400,000 called instead of something liked 50,000!  But again it was said that as long as one had a receipt from them there was no problem.

Well, we only have the proof of delivery from the post office.  So being crazy people - we copied all the supporting paperwork, reprinted the forms and resigned everything and reassembled it all.  Tomorrow morning we will be going to the county assessor’s office.  Hopefully the crowds will no longer be there having heard on the news or read in the newspaper what the situation is and we will get in fairly quickly - perhaps even told that of course they have the application and paperwork.  But I anticipate a long wait to get in and who knows what has happened to our original paperwork.  Husband will drop me off and try to find a parking space - there are a lot of parking lots (free) but in addition to the county office buildings (at least 3 I know of) there are the courts (at least 2 buildings), general office buildings in the area and the train station which serves 2 train lines, so parking is not easy - which is why we mailed it in the first place.

Does this happen to everyone - or just us?

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Always get a receipt.  Always follow up. Always make and keep copies (or give copies if you can and keep the originals).  Never assume that all is going well.  Do this for smaller things also, but especially for big important things.

UPDATE -

Even with all this going on, I managed to take more of my required tax courses and now have finished 14 of the required 20. I have a left a 6 hour (credits) course that has a 3 hour exam.  This exam is timed and has to be completed at one sitting, so I will have to set aside an evening alone in our office to take the exam - I do get 3 chances, but I have not yet (in past years) needed more than one attempt.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

WHAT EATS UP MY TIME THESE DAYS?

Do you have control over your time?  How much of you time is governed by other people who need you or make plans which involve you - and are not the king of people you can say no to?

When my husband worked full time at his job all of my time during the day on weekdays was my own.  Yes, I had to go to work and I went to my embroidery meetings, but I could easily plan what I was doing when back then. 

Husband and I were in what is called a rotational art exhibit - okay, we were each in two of them.  In this type of exhibition (run by two different township park departments) the artist, after having his/her work reviewed and approved, goes to a showcase.  Different venues - town offices, libraries, local businesses... sign up with the program also and come to the showcase.  They select which artist’s works they would like to have in their venue and they and the artist agree on which month (or two month period) the exhibition will be for. There would be months when we had 3 shows at 3 different venues (he had work in 2 different media in the show).  Since he was working full time I was allowed to represent both of us - I also set up and took down the exhibitions.  I could schedule the exhibitions, set them up and then take them down.  When husband quit his job and worked part time from home we would do all of this together and there was always a problem with him as to when we were doing it, why we were doing it (we only sold 3 small pieces over the time he exhibited, my work was not for sale, so I did not sell any).  It amazed me how much easier it was when I did this all alone, then when we did it together.  Due to the fact that one of libraries may be where we got bedbugs, we stopped doing the shows - and it was relief to stop - although before he started coming along, this would not have been true.

When he first quit his job we had an agreement that we would each go our own way during the day - and we did for awhile.  Then gasoline prices went up and up and up and husband pointed out that we were wasting money at the high price of gas for me to drive to the supermarket and him to drive separately to the Home Depot in the same parking lot and we started sort of car pooling for errands like this.  Before I knew it, we were together all day, every day (except the days I went out to work and the days I went to my embroidery meeting). 

Clients of mine, older senior citizens, had to shut down their business due to the economy and gradually I ended up with only one monthly business client. I used to go out to clients at least 8 days a month - some days to multiple clients - and had no problem scheduling them - now the 1 client is a problem to schedule. 

I am not the world’s best house cleaner.  I had a schedule - on Wednesdays I would clean - First Wednesday of the month I would dust, vacuum & wash floors, and clean the toilet upstairs.  Second Wednesday of the month I would do the same downstairs.  Third week I would do the upstairs - except the toilet - again.  Fourth week I would do the same as the second, but would clean the kitchen instead of the bathroom.  On the occasional fifth Wednesday I would do another chore that had not been done and needed doing.  Now - forget it!  It is hard to clean toilets or wash floors when as soon as one is mid cleaning one’s husband appears and says “I have to go in NOW.”  And there is always a reason that the other bathroom is not where he wants to be.  It has gotten so bad that I ended waiting until he fell asleep at night and then cleaned the upstairs bathroom - at 3 in the morning!

This comes up right now as the past 2 weeks I feel like screaming!  Last week on Tuesday he decided it was time to put up the Christmas lights, and then looked at the bushes and the piles of fallen leaves and said “We can’t put up the lights with all these leaves here - there will be a fire.”  Okay, so we are going to suddenly clear up the leaves.  He found online at a home store near us a rack to hold the garbage bags and it was in stock at the store.  We go there  - I really don’t think we need the rack - without even knowing what it was.  The store does not have any, even though the company website says that they do - and, while it is still November at that time, they don’t have it because it is a “fall” item and the main office therefore took all of them back! Oh, and according to them the website saying they have something does not mean anything - good thing husband did not buy it online and go to pick it up at the store.  We lost an hour and a half of limited sunlight (remember we get started late and had already run errands) on that fool’s errand.  We come home and we start clearing the leaves.  Over the years husband has come up with a variety of methods to do this - vacuum them, shred them with a vacuum, and I don’t know what else - my system is a snow shovel  - yes, a snow shovel.  First I quickly rake the leaves out from between the bushes onto the driveway in a line of leaves.  I shovel them into the garbage bag in the garbage pail, stop periodically to tamp them down with the shovel, then when the bag is full (probably overfull) I close the bad with a bag tie, drag the garbage can to by the curb, lay the pail down on it’s side, stand it up again with the open end down, pull the can off the bag and there it is - a bag of leaves where it needs to be for pickup.  I am doing the work due to the pain that is still healing in his left arm and shoulder.  He has to help (you know, like small children have to help).  He wants to hold the rake for me to push the leaves against when shoveling, this is not needed as there is a line of leaves to push against and at the end I use the pail.  Then he decides that too many leaves are falling and puts the rake over the leaves - resulting in almost all of the leaves falling off.  I convince him to go and get more bags and bag ties to keep him busy.  We eventually end up with about a dozen or more bags sitting at the curb - they were picked the next day as Wednesday is yard pickup.  Wednesday we run errands and then go to clear the last of the leaves - these are leaves around the driveway where he is worried that mice will nest - he is shocked that new leaves are where we cleared the day before!  Now, if I was involved in planning this ahead of time - we would not have had errands to run - I would make sure they were otherwise scheduled - and we would have eaten a quick lunch at home to give us enough time, instead of our daily half hour plus leisurely lunch at Wendys.

We had checked the light strands ahead of time, as we had not had a chance to check them when we took them down (I made a reminder in my cell phone for the middle of October about this, as well as about the 2 strands that went out while out last year and had purchased replacement lights.  We had to wait after clearing the leaves for a day that was not below freezing and it was not raining.  Over the weekend we put out the lights.  I am, again, doing the work.  We did a little bit different setup as he had some ideas, All was going well.  We have a holly tree and the lights have to be (literally) thrown onto the upper part of it as neither of us likes to go on a ladder.  I was trying to figure out how to put the higher lights on it - figuring a ladder will be needed - and he grabs the strand and throws it - and then is reminded of his shoulder and arm - and was back in pain like a few weeks ago!  (Yes, the lights are up, look nice - one of his ideas I thought was terrible works very well.)

We spent yesterday evening taking apart his computer as it had stopped working - believe it or not it as the battery that keeps the time and such going as this is his desktop computer.  So the time I would have spent washing dishes - I was lifting his computer (because even before he threw the light strand he should not have lifted it) as well as clearing off my desk for him to work on.  I did some of my magic - “It needs a CR2032 battery, I guess we will have to buy one.”  I go to our bag of button batteries (travels with us on trips) and find one, still sealed in the package.  Then I did the dishes after we changed the battery, put the computer back on his side of the office on the floor and he had restarted the computer.

I have to take 20 hours of classes to do tax returns next year - I took 2 hours of them the other evening and I should have much more of them done by now - only 26 days to go - 6 days of which we will be involved in reenacting, two days of which will be Christmas Eve and Day, that leaves 18 days left!  And Christmas decorations, shopping for one of his nieces (other is  finished) and regular housework is left - oh, and he is still trying to fit in a one day trip to Lancaster, PA.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

It is hard to make our time our own to be able to schedule what work needs to be done, but we have to do it.  This time of year, especially, we have to make time for what we need to do as well as what we have to do. 

Thursday, November 29, 2018

MY HUSBAND SAID IT WILL ONLY TAKE AN HOUR - PART 2

Back this week to the lack of organization in winterizing our RV.  The start of this story was two weeks ago - http://wheredidileavethat.blogspot.com/2018/11/my-husband-said-it-will-only-take-hour.html

We are able to skip part of the process which involves emptying out the hot water tank as we don’t use it and keep it off line.  Good thing as this involves opening the tank from the outside with a huge wrench and he has trouble doing so - often it takes both of us - so I never would be able to do it alone and he could not do it with his shoulder and arm as it is.

The rest of the process involves letting water out of the hot and cold taps in the sink, shower, outside shower and the toilet bowl.   Due to not wanting to put water we don’t have to into the outgoing water tanks since they could not be drained, we used a box that we have which fits the sink to let the water out of the pipes -  we use it for outgoing water if we travel after we winterized for the year and therefore could not use running water.  We open all the taps one at time and let the water out.  We did have to let the water in the toilet go down the tank.  (Toilet looks similar to home toilets, but when flushed a trap door opens into the tank.)  Then I have to use a wrench to open a cap on the pipe which comes from the water pump - under the bed in a cabinet - which means that I have to take the table top off the top of the cabinet and then the protective foam under it out - we shove them between the front seats, where the pillows, blankets, and mattress covers were moved when I unmade the bed. 

There is a water pump in this area which normally would pump water from the clean water tanks to be used in any of the taps mentioned or the toilet.  The first year we had the RV we had the dealer do the winterizing and show us how to do it.  We also had it install a two way switch over for the pump to either draw water from the clean tanks or we could hook a hose to the other side of the switch over and have it draw the antifreeze from through the hose from the a bottle of antifreeze.  I had to use an adjustable wrench to open the cap on the switch over.  Husband handed me a 7 inch long wrench.  The space in the cabinet seems to be between 7 and 7 and half inches tall - I could not get the wrench on, adjust it to size, and turn it to take off the cap.  After much yelling between us - “I know how to use a wrench!” - we switched places and he took the cap off.  I then attached the hose to the switch over and shoved the other end into the first bottle of anti-freeze. 

Husband went around and opened each of the taps and ran the tap until it ran pink, the color of the anti-freeze. He did this with each tap in each of the 3 pairs of taps.  I had to switch the bottle of anti-freeze twice while we were doing this.  He then poured a bottle of the anti-freeze into the toilet bowl and let it into the tank under it - remember, he already put one bottle - a gallon - before.  Normally we don’t put this much in the toilet tank, but we were worried about the water already in it freezing.  He then stepped on the flush pedal and ran more of the antifreeze through the water pump until the water coming out of the pipe into the toilet bowl was also running pink.
We then disconnected the hose we were using and I put the cap back on the two way switch and switched it back to draw water from the clean water tanks.

Lastly we had to pour antifreeze down the sink drain and the shower drain in the floor.  I poured out 2 separate cups of antifreeze first and poured the rest of a new bottle of anti-freeze partially in the floor shower drain and most of it down the sink drain (the two drains go to the same grey water tank).  I then had to S L O W L Y pour one of the cups we set aside down the toilet drain and then the other down the sink drain.  These are poured slowly so that it will stay in the traps (you know, the bend in the pipe that you see under the sink).  Last thing I did was put pieces of pipe foam - you know - the tubes of plastic foam that is slit up one side and one puts on pipes in their house to keep the pipes and valves from freezing - over the valves related to the hot water tank.  This tank and its pipes are just above the (uninsulated) floor and the valves in the pipes have frozen in the past until we started pieces these pieces of foam over them for the winter.

I then had to pack up everything we had used and put the bed  - with the table top under it - back to where it belongs.  Husband went into the house as he did not feel well - both because his shoulder and arm were hurting and he had bent down and was dizzy and nauseous as gets from same.  I had to unplug the RV from where we plugged into our house electricity in our porch so that we could run the water pump without using up the battery’s charge.  I put everything back in place inside the RV and then put stuff back in the porch that is kept there and put the wrench back in the garage workshop.  I then took a last walk around the RV to make sure everything was put away - good thing - the driver’s side window looked funny - it was still open!  I closed and walked around again. 

We will have to call the RV dealer over the winter and make an appointment for next spring to have them take apart and find out what is wrong with the macerator and/or its pump.  Hopefully we put enough anti-freeze in enough places to keep the rest of the system from freezing - and costing us even more money. 

I will admit that after deducting the time we spent trying to get the water out of the black and grey tanks - trying to get the macerator and its pump to work, the rest of the process really did only take a little more than an hour.

After my complaints about using a wrench which was too long for the space - which apparently we don’t have one the correct length as previously he had not been able to find a short adjustable wrench which opened large enough - he is buying me a rather expensive (for us) 6 inch wrench as a Christmas gift.  I guess this may be one year that I cannot say that I did not want anything and did not get a gift.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Procrastination can lead to panic.  Try to get things done when they should be done. 

It does turn out that we were lucky not to have gone on a trip after our last one.  As it is we have two tanks that need to be empty with a bit of water and a much larger bit of anti-freeze.  If we had gone on a trip after our last trip, when we went to dump the tanks at the end of the trip we would not have been able to do so.  When we took the RV to the dealer we would have had to have them empty the tanks to work - and that would cost even more.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

THANKSGIVING IS HERE AGAIN

For those of you in the U.S., Thanksgiving is tomorrow, at least as I write this (by the time you read this, it is probably today or yesterday for you).  Rather than retell the story of organizing for Thanksgiving past, I will post links to my prior Thanksgiving posts at the end of this post.

This year is rather worse than even most recent years.  Until this past Monday we were still debating - cook dinner or go to an Asian buffet (they do put out a turkey for carving - and each person carves their own serving). 
On Monday we bought our turkey.  It is from the same specialty supermarket that we bought from last year and the year before.  Due to our letter about our problem last year  with the turkey not being fully cooked (the breast was blood raw) after following their directions, they sent us a gift card for about 3 times the price of the turkey.  So this year’s turkey (and next year’s and part of the year after’s turkey) was free.  Due to the warnings this year about problems with turkeys and salmonella, I was concerned about putting the turkey - even though it is still in its packaging - on the right hand top shelf of our refrigerator, the only one tall enough to hold the turkey - even though it is lying down.  So I was going to put it on one of my platters - but then realized that they are pottery and might absorb any leaks and any salmonella in the leaks.  I thought and thought where I might have a large enough glass plate to hold it.  So it is sitting on a lovely large dessert serving plate that we received as a wedding gift.  (Yes, we have used it to serve dessert over the decades.)  That left 2 small corners at the front of the shelf to put anything on it.  Husband, a few weeks ago, had decided that the caffeinated diet soda he has at lunch made his shoulder/arm feel better.  So we have a started bottle of decaf soda and one of caffeinated soda in the fridge.  I put the decaf one on the right corner of the shelf.  I then went to put the caffeinated one on the left corner of the shelf - I had forgotten that one of the reasons I hate this fridge (even before we bought it, but it was the closest to what I wanted that we could find in the emergency situation of our old one - around 30 years old - dying) is that the light bulb is in the front of it - in the middle of the fridge and one cannot put anything tall there - so the soda bottle could not go there.  I managed to balance it - 3/4 of it on the center of the shelf and the front end sticking off.  I warned husband - so he would be careful not to knock it off the shelf  - and made him repeat to me what I said - so he cannot say I did not tell him.  Of course right after this, he stopped drinking soda and switched to ice tea, so I have been drinking the decaf soda to get rid of the extra bottle.  It is down enough that the bottle can lay on a lower shelf as there is so little soda left, it does not reach the neck of the bottle while it is lying down.

Yesterday (Tuesday) we went out shopping for the other things we need for the dinner.  Of course the stores (we went to 2 different supermarkets and a Walmart) were jammed and out of things.  I am annoyed that since we waited this long items - milk, stuffing, eggs and such - that I would normally buy in Walmart as they are cheaper there, had to bought at the supermarket and we probably blew at least $5 on the difference.  (I think I have said that I am cheap.)  We had to go out again today for items we did not find yesterday - another Walmart and a different supermarket.  I never did get the mixed (green) beans I wanted.  Somehow everything we picked is what he wanted, the mixed beans were what I wanted - plain green beans it is. 

I have not cleared out the dining room yet.  Nor have I cleared off the kitchen counters to have room to work.  I guess whatever is in the way in the dining room will be pushed to far end - hey, it’s only us, I would like it nicer, but between dealing with his shoulder and the RV winterizing mess (which will be continued next week) I am soooo behind in getting ready.  In reading my prior Thanksgiving posts (I found I already repeated myself at least once, and not repeating myself was why I read them) I was reminded that I have to go to the basement, move all the boxes of Christmas decorations in front of the very small closet that has our gas meter, a blanket cut in half for reenactments (in sealed plastic bags and rarely used kitchen stuff and get the platter for carving out and wash it.

I don’t know if you go shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, we do not.  Never found anything worth getting.  I have to wonder if people buy new TVs every year as that always seems to be the big draw.  Then again, as I have mentioned, we do very little gift shopping, as well as little shopping for us.  For us if we are shopping something needs replacing or there is something very new (and not expensive) that husband has decided he needs.

Remember that what you buy has to be paid for and you don’t want to be in debt forever for something that is gone in a year or two or less.  Also - everything you buy has to be stored - either by you or the person you give it to - think about that when buying items for yourself or as a gift. For example husband decided last week to buy a chair at Ikea. It is a small kitchen table chair and it has a low back and is smaller than our regular chairs.  He had noticed the chairs at Wendys where we have lunch are more comfortable for his shoulder and arm - after jokes about maybe since we go there so office we can borrow/rent a chair from them, he decided to look in Ikea after dinner last week.  Now, we are the type of people who can shop for a package of hair pins for a week or two, but he sat in several chairs and then announced one was perfect (and “only $39") and we bought it and assembled it that night and he loves it. This left me with the chair he used before (and hopefully will again).  It is now in the dining room against the wall (we keep furniture against the wall in the colonial “room at rest” manner) - out of the way until we need it again and looks decorative.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK -

Those of you in the U.S. - have a nice Thanksgiving. 

All of you - think before you shop during the holidays (and in general) before overspending or buying unneeded items which will quickly be unwanted - by yourself or as gifts.  One of the movie theater chains we used to go to had a trailer to sell its gift cards for holiday gifts.  It has people receiving gifts that were not appropriate and of course those who received their gift cards were happy.  I will never forget one sequence - a man receives a sweater as a gift.  The sweater is huge - his arms are lost in the sleeves and the sweater covers him to below his knees and he is so sad and upset and shaking his head.  You don’t want to be the person who gives a gift like that!  (And no, I am not pushing movie gift cards.)

Prior Thanksgiving posts -
http://wheredidileavethat.blogspot.com/2015/11/thanksgiving-and-other-holidays.html
http://wheredidileavethat.blogspot.com/2016/11/
http://wheredidileavethat.blogspot.com/2017/11/semi-unorganized-thanksgiving.html

Thursday, November 15, 2018

MY HUSBAND SAID - IT WILL ONLY TAKE AN HOUR - PART 1

First - I hope any of you in California and those you know are safe from the fires. 

I have mentioned before that we have a very small RV (it is a conversion of a Chevy Express van so I do mean small).  Those of you who live in the colder areas understand that in cold weather unprotected water pipes can freeze and cause damage.  To prevent this in an RV (or a travel trailer or boat which has plumbing) one has to winterize the water system in the fall before it gets too cold. Too cold according to my husband is 2 nights in a row under 28F, without it getting into the 40Fs during the days.  At this point water will be freezing in the water system of the RV.

Winterizing is a fairly straight forward process - all the water in the pipes and tanks has to be drained out and then a non-toxic anti-freeze (mostly alcohol - no, not the drinkable kind) has to be run through the system.  It really should only take about an hour - but hey, this is us.

At the end of October when it was still in the 50Fs I suggested to husband that we do the winterizing since we were not going to use the RV due to his shoulder and arm pain.  We normally due this early in November.  He replied that we had plenty of time - I suggested that doing it in relatively warmer weather was better.  He said to wait until he felt better.  This is one of the few maintenance tasks that we do ourselves on the RV that I cannot do on my own.  (Husband has been surprised this past month and a half that I can do the tasks we do together on my own.) 

Well, last weekend the weather report was for a night below freezing and that the weather would not improve much this week - going into rain on Tuesday.  So, now in panic we had to winterize the RV on Monday.  Luckily husband had listened to me when I suggested buying the antifreeze last month and we had bought 3 one gallon bottles plus we had one full bottle and one at least half full bottle left over last year. 

First thing we had to do was the result of our not having traveled in September or October.  We anticipated at least one more trip when we went away on our last (one night) August trip.  The black and grey water tanks (outgoing water) have to be dumped.  While we dumped them before we left for home on our last trip, we also added some clean water into them as they cannot be without water (or antifreeze) in it.  Generally on our last trip of the season we would not have added this water into the tanks.  So we had to dump the tanks. 

Well, we thought this was the first thing.  Since we had planned to travel again and had been away for at most a total of 5 nights, we had left the bed made.  So first I had to unmake and disassemble the bed.  Why?  The bed is on top of two cabinets (when not a bed it is similar to a restaurant booth  - a seats on top of a cabinet on each side of the RV in the rear section and then wooden boards go between, the side seats slide together onto these boards and then the bench backs are laid down along the walls to form the bed) This all has to be reversed to unmake the bed.

So I strip the sheets and pillow cases and bag them in a laundry bag - throw in front of the RV.  I then fold the blankets and the mattress covers and with the pillows to the same side of the bed (his side or my side) I bag them in extra large laundry bags and then put those in extra large plastic bags and seal them closed for the winter.  I use twin sheets, blankets and mattress covers as it is easier to make up each half of the bed separately.  The bags with the pillows etc. each go on one of the front seats.  I then lift up the back of the bench on “my side”of the bed and put it on the main mattress piece and push the bottom end (where I am) to the side which lets me pull out the first wooden board from the center and set it aside. I then squeeze in and pull out the second board.  I can then reach a small section of the mattress which sits along the rear corner of the RV (head of the bed as we sleep with our heads to the back of the RV) and put that also on the main piece.  I can now push the main piece into the bench position on the cabinet on that side.  I remove a small additional center mattress insert from between the two sides and put it and the two large pieces of wood under the mattress piece. 

I then take the back piece from his side of the bed and put it on mine.  I take the matching small back corner piece and put it on mine.  This leaves his main mattress piece - the bench seat.  Problem is that my side of the bed and its bench is about 3 inches shorter than his in length.  So I can not put it on my side, I have to put the rear van end (head of the bed) on mine and with it on a catty corner angle make room to be able to later get to the front end of the cabinet under his mattress as that is where the water system is accessed.  This has taken about a half hour.

The water from the fresh water tanks had been let out after our return home - that water can be allowed to run down the driveway as it is clean water, the water from the grey and black tanks cannot be allowed to run.  So when we do this at home we have the dump system pump the water into a bucket which is then carried into the house and flushed down the toilet.  (If you have been in an RV our has different dump system - instead of it all running out by gravity, ours has a macerator and pump and the contents are pumped out and ground up.  Normally he would carry the bucket, this time I had to. 

We set it all up on the driveway and I was holding the hose into the bucket while he pushed the button on the side of  the driver’s seat to run the pump.  He pushes it - nothing happens.  Repeat - nothing happens.  Repeat - nothing happens.  Husband goes into panic mode.  Maybe we didn’t put water in it when we pumped it out?  He adds a gallon of antifreeze.  He pushes the button - nothing happens.   More panic.  Then he thinks - maybe there is not enough water in it as the RV is on the driveway on an uphill angle and the water is sitting at the other end of the tank.  He has me take out our levelers - this are rounded bottom plastic pieces with a thin end graduated to a thick end.  One is put in front of the rear tires (or the front ones - in this case the rear ones) and then he slowly drives onto them until the RV is level.  Chucks are put under the thin end which is now raised in the air - lifting the tires up off the group.  We do this.  I hate doing this as I am the one who has to slip the chucks under it and then has to remove the chucks from it - we were going to put strings on the chucks so I would not have to put my hands and arms under the RV to remove them, but of course have not gotten around to it.  So the RV was sort of level (we can only raise it so much).  I hold the hose in the bucket, he pushes the button.  Nothing happens.  Repeat.  Finally remove the chucks and drive off the levelers.

When we last dumped the tanks the pump sounded funny, it seemed to go to quickly, and there was no need to give short pumps at the end.  Maybe the macerator is broken and/or pump is broken? That’s a big expense.
New idea.  Maybe something is stuck in the macerator?  There is a handle to rotate it and clear it - under the RV.  I have lain down before and looked at what was underneath as husband would get ill if he did so and I did have to find the cap to remove to let the clean the water out when we are done with using the tanks.  I knew where the handle was.  As a matter of fact during this past summer husband and I had a conversation about the handle as someone had figured out how to make a clean out from the macerator directly and let the tank contents out by gravity.  The handle is on the driver’s side of the RV - the macerator is under the passenger side.  We have had this discussion at least 3 times in the past.  He tells me to turn the handle and insists it is on the passenger side.  It is fall.  The driveway is covered in leaves.  I don’t want to lie down in the leaves.  He gets a broom and sweeps them away as I humor him by lying down and looking on the wrong side for the handle.  Then the leaves have to be cleared off the driveway on the correct side.  Problem here is the driveway is wet from our attempts to dump - and I AM NOT GOING TO LIE IN THAT WATER.  So I am lying on my wrong side.  Next problem.  I am short and have short arms so I can barely reach the handle and.  I manage to grab it and push it and I think it engaged.  I turn it.  I cannot keep it pushed and turn it at the same time, but attempt it several times.  Guess what - yes, when we try to dump again it still does not work.  Husband figures that maybe the water in the macerator (there is always some which is why we are suppose to get anti-freeze in it to replace the water which will be pushed out by the pump) froze. 

We realize that we cannot do anything with pump and macerator and - luckily for me - we both have the same idea to move on to the rest of the process.  We have used about 2.5 hours doing this.  He drives the RV back into its normal position on the driveway to do the rest - most - of the process which remains.

To be continued -

Thursday, November 8, 2018

PROCRASTINATION

I have been making phone calls that have been sitting waiting to be done as long as we have been in the house.

When we picked up our prescriptions after going to doctor one of mine came up showing I owed $45 on it - it is suppose to be covered in full by my insurance.  I had expected a $5 charge as husband had when he picked up this prescription for the first time on this insurance, which was later refunded to us as he did not owe it - but $45?  Pharmacist said that I had to talk to the company, so I finally had a chance today.  They don’t know why - they have to talk to, yes, the pharmacist about it!  So next time we go in I have to tell them to call the insurance company about it.  Both husband and I have the same prescription, so I am taking some of his in the meantime (90 day renewal, so there are enough for now until this is resolved).

I also called about the annual service for our furnace.  We used to be called by the company each year to have this done - often in the spring or early summer.  When I went looking to see when the last service had been done it was done in October 2016!  2 years with no service on the furnace, not only we did pay for the service last year as part of our service contract and did not get what we paid for - one of the things done in the service is to check for carbon monoxide.  So I finally called yesterday to find out what was going on and to make an appointment.  The cheerful voice on the other end told me that it was no trouble to make the appointment for the service - the next one is February 26!  I repeated the date to her with emphasis on the February and she said yes.  A conversation then followed about why have they not called us to do the service and I was told that it is my responsibility - never was before - why now?  The company was joined into another company and the new company has its own rules, but never told us about the change.  We buy our oil and have our furnace contract through membership in a non-profit co-op group and I have written letter complaining to same - after greatly complementing the old company which gave us great service and helped us out with two emergencies over the years, oh wait, I just remembered a 3rd emergency they helped us with.  I mentioned that my mother-in-law had a different oil company and the water tank for her furnace fell on it and broke it.  Her company told her that they don’t do replacements - too bad.  I called ours and within 3 days she had a new furnace installed - and they had a new customer.  A couple of years ago I found an oil leak in our oil tank - in our basement - at 1 am on a Friday night.  Someone was sent to plug the leak.  A huge snow storm was to hit on Monday - over the weekend a new oil tank was installed.  The one I forgot was about 15 years ago our hot water heater (which is natural gas not oil and not serviced by this company) died and flooded the basement also on a Friday night.  We had plans for Saturday and husband saw our plans gone and us spending the day shopping and making arrangements for a new water heater.  I figured I had nothing to lose and called our oil company - by 1pm we had a new water heater installed and we were off to do what we planned to do - late, but with plenty of time.  What a difference between the old and new company.

I have to make a call tomorrow - I had been called by the parks department that my embroidery group gets a room from for meetings.  I telephoned the woman back, got her voice mail, and left the information she requested - an email address.  It is time to do the renewal paperwork for the meeting room for next year and I figured I would be receiving it by email (and the town would save the cost of mailing it), but I have not heard back from her and will try calling her again and ask if she has the information to please either leave a message on my phone or send an email so I know she has it.

On the other hand, I waited too long to call about my eyeglasses.  Last year (2017) in June I bought new eyeglasses which change in the sun to sunglasses.  I have had glasses like these for decades and never had a problem with them.  These did not change.  At first I figured they needed some time - this has happened in the past - then suddenly it was this July.  I went back to the optician and was told it was past the one year for the warranty.  He did try to help me and said that the glasses changed a bit under his lights and I should try putting them in the freezer overnight.  I thought this strange, but saw it in articles and tried it.  First time the glasses changed to the lightest shade of grey.  Tried two more times and nothing happened.  He had told me to call him if it did not work.  Due to procrastination and life I did not have a chance to call him - until I was stuck in the house with husband - 3 months after I had been in.  So, now I have a spare of eyeglasses which do not change color - just stay the lightest bit of yellow and I will have to decide if I want to spend all that money again on a new pair that changes color and make sure it does or go back right away.  I figure I will wait until just before spring to decide as I won’t need them during the winter.

I also have to call our eye doctor and make an appointment for both of us to see him.  I had planned to call just about when all this happened last month.  Appointments for routine eye exams are usually about a month after I call.  Now I have a problem.  I am not sure if husband can deal with driving out to him - about 45 minutes to an hour - followed by our going to stores slightly further out near the doctor and walking around for a few hours until the eye drops wear off.  I hate to make appointments and then have to cancel them - but then again, if wait until January there may be snow and that would be a problem to drive out there in same.


THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

Try not to procrastinate - we all do and I can be the queen of procrastination - believe me.  (I have to take 20 hours of online classes for work - this year I made sure to pay for them early so I would not be taking them all in November and December again - still have not taken any and they have to be finished by the end of December - or else.) 

Procrastination can result in an oil burner not being serviced and inspected for two years - two and half by the time they come.  If I wait to hear back about the meeting room - we might lose it and have no where to meet next year.  If I had followed up on the eyeglasses sooner I would have glasses that do what I need them for (or a refund) instead of a unneeded spare pair and having to spend more to get yet another pair.  And if I had called the medical insurance right away I would not be going back and having to explain the problem, as I am sure it has been forgotten by now as they are so busy at the pharmacy.

       

Thursday, November 1, 2018

HALLOWEEN HERE - HOLIDAYS COMING

Well it is Halloween.  For the first time in many years (at least a couple of decades) we are home and not in Pennsylvania.  We normally go away for my birthday as I don’t like all the Halloween stuff being associated it with it - including not being able to go out for a nice dinner other than at an Asian restaurant - and while it is everywhere, there is a lot less in the area we go to and we can walk into local restaurants and not be served by a science experiment gone wrong covered in blood - ick.  Since husband’s shoulder still has not healed he could not drive anywhere near that far and he cannot ride when someone else drives, so here we are.

What surprised me the most was the total lack of trick or treaters.  Even when we were home for Halloween we had no trick or treaters until the woman next door to us had her son and his family - including his young daughter - move in and then she came by for a couple of years until they moved.  Then the house beyond that one had a new family move in - they had 3 children and we had the children and maybe a couple of their friends come by for maybe 3 years.  The street is 4 lanes, so the family that lived across the street never came here - too dangerous to cross the street.  We live on a main street with only these children on it in the past and since we did not know the families on the streets near us I figured that we did not have trick or treaters as they did not know us. 

But now there is a new family in the house on either side of us and I figured that they would come by.  They did not.  What surprised us even more is that when we driving home from running errands and lunch - around 3:30 pm (which is when I would have been out making the rounds as a child) and later when we went out to pick up Chinese takeout for dinner - we did not see one child (or adult) in costumes walking around. 

Later, after dinner, I read the regional newspaper (yes, I still read the “dead tree” newspaper) there was an article on how most of the neighborhoods no longer have trick or treaters going around.  Parents and schools have apparently decided (and rightly so) for safety in today’s world to have parties at the schools or what is called “trunk and treat” at the schools or other location rather than the children going around house to house.  This eliminates the danger of children out alone - and possibly in the dark - as well as what strangers might give the children.  In thinking about it I realized that I had not seen any of the usual - “Bring your candy to the hospital and we will X-ray it for you.” 

For those of you who might not know about trunk and treat - groups of families get together in parking lot  at a school, park, or shopping center.  The cars are decorated for the holiday and the trunk (or hatch) is open and the children go from car to car for their trick or treating and possibly other activities.  Parents know who the other participants are and the children have fun and are safe.  The first time I saw this was the Halloween 2 days after Superstorm Sandy.  There were few people out and about and we had gasoline shortages and major electric outages.  Sidewalks were not safe to walk on due to trees and limbs - and wires which had fallen down.  I thought this a great idea for the children. I did not know at the time that it was something being done otherwise than the storm. 

Have you noticed a lack of trick or treaters in your area in recent years - or is this area an anomaly?

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK -

If it is Halloween than the start of the end of the year holiday season is starting - if not already started.  As we head into the end of year holiday season, think.   Don’t overdo.   Think “less is more”.  Buy less items (oh, the retail industry will hate me) but think more about what you do buy.  I tend to be very conservative in gift giving and have pushed husband in that direction. 

His sister goes the opposite way and buys each of her two daughters, umm, I mean Santa brings each of her two daughters 64 gifts.  Huh?  Yes 64 gifts - and I don’t mean small ones.  Sister in law has some idea stuck in her head that she received same each year as a child - I knew her then, she did not - and feels she must do this for her daughters.  I have even seen her give duplicate gifts to them as she forgot she already bought the same or very similar gift the same year.  Their grandmother (on their dad’s side) goes into debt that she cannot afford to buy them even more.

As a result the girls do not value what they have received - or even remember what they have received.  The two girls are adopted from China.  When the older one was younger (she is a teenager now) we bought her an Asian faced Cabbage Patch Kid.  Her grandmother also did so.  A couple of years later she was at our house and I was playing with my Cabbage Patch Dolls with her. (No children, so dolls and bears are my substitute - when I play with the dolls with our nieces I am the nice aunt, if I play with them alone, I am “the crazy lady”.) Niece said to me “I wish I had a doll like these.”  I told her that she two of them - and she was shocked. They were “on the pile” at home and she did not remember them.

So as you start the season keep in mind that less can really be more.  Stay on your budget.  Buy items with meaning or is something that the person wants.  Don’t go overboard because other family members do. 

Watch what you spend on what I calling “buying garbage” - huh?  When you buy wrapping paper and ribbon it is basically buying something that will quickly be garbage and thrown out.  My rule for Christmas wrapping was $1 for 50 square feet for decades.  I will now spend $1 for 40 square feet as price adjustment over time.  I buy inexpensive curling ribbon and make long tendrils that I put on gifts - in expensive, one does not feel the need to “save the bows” and they don’t get crushed when traveling.  I have a ribbon shredder to use on the ribbon, which makes it look even nicer. Christmas cards are the same.  They are opened, maybe displayed and then thrown out. Shop wisely and one can get very nice cards inexpensively - and don’t forget the end of the season sales which seem these days to start right as the season starts.  Think about this - my sister had a friend whose father owned a small chain of upscale card and gift stores.  The girl’s gifts for my sister were always wrapped in Sunday color comics - never wrapping paper.