Flop 2.0

Kind readers, Parenthood 2.0 hasn’t been all that swell. Actually, It’s been an abysmal flop. I had hopes, though not high nor lofty….just hopes, that the second time at it, so to speak, would work out better…smoother. Alas, that was pie-in-the-sky dreaming.

Ten months ago my son showed up on my doorstep, penniless and homeless.  I told him to come, of course, when the call came from out of the blue.  I can remember that night as if it were yesterday.  After the call I had a hundred things swirling around in my head.  A do-over might be just the thing to break the estrangement …one that he initiated, I might add.

He rolled in around midnight looking nothing like the son I saw some four years prior. He said “Hi Mom. I’m tired….I need to sleep.”  Not even ten minutes later he was in the basement.  It’s been his cocoon since.

My bullet point plan to help him get back on track has been met with both stubborn resistance and absolute refusal every step of the way from day one of his arrival.   What was I thinking? I should have known I could never break through, after all he’ll be 36 once summer is over.

It is what it is now.

I seethe that his father enabled him financially for fifteen years.  His idea of showing love was not to get down into the trenches but to throw money from afar.   If our son would have been forced to fall on his face at 21 it would have been much easier to break bad habits, form new ones, LISTEN to sage advice, LEARN from mistakes…and so on and so forth.  In other words….GROW UP.

Of course that is just my humble opinion.  But, what do I know?  I’m just the mom.

I’m split into: one part of me knows unequivocally that I did everything in my power.   But the other part of me?  I feel like a complete failure.

I’m done, inside and out.

Once again I am showing him the door.

Once again he is nowhere near a path that will help him flourish…

It’s a cliché…but ever so true in our situation: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” 

My heart aches.

Tears dot my cheeks as I listen to music by Ludovico Einaudi.

Blue thoughts swirl around me as his soulful, contemplative notes linger in the afternoon air…

Will I ever be able to sleep without profound worry again?

Let it go! ….says a voice from somewhere.

Sigh.

Yes.  It’s all I can do in this moment.

Do I dare continue to have hope for him? 

Of course I do.  I will go to my grave taking hope with me…

I’m the mom.

My Love is infinite…To the moon and back and beyond…for both my son and daughter.

I’m reminded of a Tweet just this morning from the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh

Nourish Yourself: The Buddha advises us to create the feeling of joy and happiness in order to nourish ourselves before we deal with the painful feelings.

I like that sentiment.  It’s just what I need now.

I think a walk with The Poodle is in order….

then perhaps a dip in the neighborhood pool.

Nothing like water –whether it’s from a swimming pool or the ocean–to wash the blues away.

There is bliss in that.

Breath of Fresh Air – White

I whacked my Dammit Doll on the counter so hard yesterday that I thought for sure it’s red-yarn tufted head would burst into a stream of its cotton-ball filling. The Poodle sat still as a statue nearby. I could feel his steely gaze, as if in judgement, as I let the moment of frustration wash over me.

“What’s got your knickers in a knot,” he’d say if only he could.

In a blink my outburst was over though it was followed by quiet tears.

I’m just so over all this man-child-in-my-basement drama.  Yet another time I’ve failed miserably to reach inside my son’s head and heart and get both headed in a better, healthier direction.

I’m thinking of his words as he walked out the door.  “Well if you want me to leave you should give me money.”

Talk to the hand son: Not going to happen.

I fix myself a cup of coffee and sweeten the moment with a cookie to soothe the ache in my heart. As I take a sip I realize that all the recent drama has clouded my head and heart with negativity and blue moods.

I look at my new kitchen…yes, NEW kitchen…and my spirit instantly brightens.

So, it’s been in the works for exactly a month. Our lives were in understandable chaos with a gutted kitchen and extremely limited means to create reasonably healthy meals.  Not to mention the constant presence of workers and The Poodle barking (A LOT!).   The inconvenience (and ear-splitting noise) of it all felt like years but in reality, the month has flown and we finally have a fully functional kitchen once again. With the exception of a few odds and ends that need finishing, we are absolutely thrilled with our breath-of-fresh-air new look.

Gratitude seems like a word over-used lately–in particular, without honest conviction– but honestly (and I know, kind readers, you all know it too), it’s a word that should be relevant every hour of the day.   Thankfully, I’ve become immensely better at practicing heartfelt gratitude especially when I find myself starting to wallow into a negative spiral of emotions.  Often, it’s just a long, deep breath that I need to get myself back to center.

And yes…sometimes it takes a prop….like my Dammit Doll.  Judge not until you try it: It really is a terrific stress-buster.

Inexplicably, my mind is a whirlwind of thoughts.  As I sit in my kitchen that has been transformed from darkness to a breath of fresh air, I’m filled with hope and a deep appreciation for every thing. From things large and small, happy and sad, the good, bad and the ugly, I’m grateful for everything that has colored my life so far.  Yes, It seems like such a cliché… but I am better for it all.

….Yes, even for the father that beat me and the ex-husband that stifled growth and joy because of fear and insecurity.

Holy Cow: It’s amazing what a white kitchen will do for you!

Before

 

 

After: A breath of fresh air!

In this moment, feeling blissful…

Clearly Commando

I stood at the spot for a good ten minutes. I was hoping she would return.  Perhaps I should give her another five minutes …maybe she’ll emerge from around the bend at which point I could wave her down…..

I thought of walking in the direction she went but given the myriad of paths she could have taken I’d be wasting my efforts not to mention that it was turning out to be another scorcher of a day.  The Poodle was already panting heavily from the short distance we’d covered so far.

“Well, that’s unfortunate,” I say to The Poodle as I bag my good intention and we continue towards home. “I’m sure she would have wanted to know that little piece of information.”

As I walk home I think about my preference and the flak I sometimes receive from going against the grain as it were.  I’m okay with that but it’s interesting how my preference irks folks.  I suppose It’s all about them wanting to show how “right” they are.

Okay, I am SURE you’re scratching your heads…..as in….Where in the world is she going with this?

So as I walked The Poodle this morning I spotted a woman out cycling.  She had just turned the corner not far in front of me.  I’ll admit to feeling wistful in that moment.  I haven’t been in the saddle (cycling) for a year now.  Between the move, family issues, and all the home repairs  going on (not to mention feeling just a wee bit depressed over being miserably out-of-shape) there just hasn’t been a good time.

As she cycles by I turn to look at her and it’s then that I see….

Oh my! That is particularly bad. In fact, the worst I have ever seen.

She should know.  How could she not know?!

Someone needs to tell her.

Which is why I stood for over ten minutes hoping she’d be cycling back in my direction.

Alas, I did not see her again.

Perhaps some of you die-hard cycling folks know what I’m referring to.  In fact, I’ll bet my next paycheck (Oh…wait…I’m not working now)….well, you get my drift.

So for those not in the know…..

Her cycling shorts were COMPLETELY threadbare in the back.  And yes, the material was so worn thin that you could see her derrière, bare as the day she was born.

In a nutshell:  The cycling world is somewhat divided on the issue of wearing undies under cycling shorts.  Those in the “commando” camp assert that its more hygienic to go sans underwear since there is a chamois pad that fits close to the body which is specifically designed to absorb sweat. It’s thought that wearing underwear doesn’t allow for sweat absorption, which may increase one’s chances of developing a urinary tract infection (UTI).    But really, their most compelling reason is to prevent chafing in the nether regions.   While I can absolutely attest to the merits of these arguments, the other camp–those who do wear undies– mostly women, simply feel more comfortable, modesty-wise.  If rides are short, wearing undies is more convenient when changing from bike shorts to other attire if, for example, you’re heading into the office.  In addition, that extra layer keeps bike shorts cleaner which means fewer trips to the washing machine, with an added bonus that your bike shorts lasts longer.

I’m sure you’re chomping at the bit to know….

Which camp am I in?

Suffice it so say that I’ve tried it both ways–from 100 miles in the saddle to ten, and I still feel more at ease with undies on.  With all the miles I have put in the saddle, I have never had a UTI.  Saddle sores?  Well…of course, but who hasn’t?!  Still, chafing is entirely manageable since I use plenty of Butt Butter (yes…folks, that’s what it’s called).  Multiple and generous applications of butt butter definitely helps keep the chafing down.

Butter to prevent chafing in one’s nether regions….

 

And why, might you ask, don’t I prefer the favored commando approach?

My personal preference is to strike a balance between modesty and function.  Obviously, I could have plenty of pairs of cycling shorts/pants in my cycle drawer and I could (and do) closely inspect them for wear before putting them on.  Still, I’ve seen far too many butts due to thread-bare cycling shorts.   I honestly don’t want the unintended consequence of barring my buttocks–as lovely as Rocket-man thinks it is– to the world.

 

 

An unintended consequence of going commando…..

Just Bee Calm

pexels-photo-1043059.jpeg

My sis–B. for short–is the creative one in the family.  She knows color, she paints, she’s always got clever ideas for everything from home decorating to her son’s school activities… and she’s got a fashion sense.  She puts energy into dressing her hubby to the nines, even for his work attire and the same effort goes into her son.  He’s perfectly attired whenever he has a function to attend.  Just the other week he looked terrific–and so adult– in coat and tie at his piano recital.

Moi?  I’m not sure what happened–perhaps an event of some such occurred in utero?  Or, more plausible, the military doc smacked me too hard as I came into the world.  I lament the dearth of creative genes.  I’m sure I’ve got one or two but not nearly enough for an aesthetic loving Libra!  And while I’m fairly adept at creating a beautiful home with what I have I cannot seem to draw a stick figure.  And don’t get me started on selecting colors (whether it’s for painting a room or putting together something decent to wear): It can be tortuous because indecision rules making it nearly impossible to “pick and stick” on a color.   And as far as attire goes, I want uncomplicated, easy… which means I do not want to think about it.  Ah…you guessed it: yoga attire and Birkenstock’s.

Okay….hmm…so where was I even going with this…..?

Ah yes.

So my sis cracks me up just the other day.  We’re outside on her screened-in deck enjoying coffee and a sweet treat.

“I’ve bought a bee house,” she says

“A bee house?” I repeat.

“Yes,” she says sweetly as she sips her coffee.  “Bees need a place to live too so I’m giving them their own Bed and Breakfast (A Bee B&B. Yep, see…I would have never thought of that.)  “Look…” she says as she points out into the yard to a tree that is just at the start of the very path we both worked on to connect our two back yards.

Ah…and there, so lovingly attached to a tree is a quaint little Bee House.  I should say that it is ever so sweet.

I wasted no time….

YIKES!” I cried out. “Really? You actually want to attract bees?!” I ask in distress.  “And, by the way, I’ll have to walk past this…um… bee hotel every time I walk over here?”

For a moment sis is clearly perplexed at my reaction so I refresh her memory.

“You’ll recall the bee incident when I was out in Arizona caring for mom two years ago.

“Oh….yes…..right,” she says.  “But these aren’t Africanized bees.”

“Still sis….you had to be there.  I still have nightmares!  And how, pray tell, do you know that one of these bees hasn’t decided to go rogue and join a TERROR CELL?  After all, Africanized bees are “killer” bees! They actually aggressively go after people!”

Sis understands my…er…concern.

“Remember…one minute mom and I are sitting on the patio enjoying our morning espresso and the next minute we hear the handyman roar “RUN…GET INDOORS NOW!”

As part of my efforts to clear my mother’s home and get it ready for sale I was having a ginormous fallen saguaro in the yard hauled away.  It was quite some distance from where we were sitting on the back patio. It only took an instance for the handyman doing the hauling to learn that it contained a large hive.  Before we could blink our quiet morning desert bliss was invaded by swarms of thousands of bees.  Extremely angry bees I might add!  Oh sure…I’m supposed to feel sorry for them as they are simply trying to defend their hive. Alas, On this, dear Buddha I have not evolved when it comes to Africanized bees. In any event, the handyman made a mad dash for it into the house but not before he was stung at least five different places on his face as well as multiple times on his arms.

Mom and I were in a state of terror and frenzy as I tried to move mom as fast as possible given her condition. It was barely five steps from her seat into her room that was just off the back patio but as she relied on both a wheelchair and a walker it was impossible to make a run for it.  She ended up having several sings to her face, one pretty close to an eye.  One side of her face swelled up in less than a New York minute.  Somehow I managed to escape with only one sting to my shoulder.

The handyman was a jewel, helping to calm mom down and even made her laugh as he used his credit card to scrape the stingers out.  The day proceeded with a confirmation by not one but TWO different Bee extermination companies, “You’ve got Africanized bees.”  It took all but nuking them to get the battle under control.

Thankfully mom didn’t require a hospital visit.  Applying cold compresses throughout the morning helped reduce the swelling and by later in the day there was barely a trace of the morning’s mayhem.   Moi?  Just the sound of a bee buzz made me jump and run.

…and still does today.

The memory of it all starts me down a path of anxiety.  Breathe in….breathe outJust BEE calm….

And when the calm returns I can confess…

…that yes, it really is a cute little Bee House.

 

B.’s bee house…

Same Song, Second Verse

I put my feet to the floor at just after five in the morning. Slowly I press down to stand up. It takes but a moment to be accurately aware; I am not twenty anymore.

“Ay…” I mutter as I attempt a few sun salutations to loosen up.

The stiffness in my lower back is more pronounced than usual after five hours in the car. Leaving yesterday evening with The Poodle in tow, we’re in a Marriott just outside of Pittsburgh.  Rocket-man still slumbers (um…and yes…I am still struggling to come up with a name change in lieu of events in the past months, if you get my drift!).

Suggestions are welcome by the way.

The Poodle does not stir from his place on the bed although he’s got one eye open…surveying…and quite ready to bolt off the bed should I make steps towards the door.  He is not oblivious to the fact that our routine has changed.

I make thoroughly unremarkable hotel-room coffee which is nothing more than a cup of translucent brown lukewarm water.  As I sip I’m thinking about the task before us in just about an hour from now.

Yet again we are faced with the task of aiding an aged parent.  It’s literally same song, second verse, this time it’s hubby’s mother.  We realized a little over two years ago that it was past time to start the process of getting her into a care facility.  Naturally this meant getting Rocket-man’s two other siblings involved.  Furthermore, it made sense to task the sibling that lived the closest to get the ball rolling; after all, said sibling, the youngest at 50-something, lived twenty minutes –for good measure…one more time…20 minutes — from her mother and who also held power of attorney.

Well, let’s just say we had to go to plan B as that sibling essentially jumped ship.  She’s got …enter air quotes here…”issues” with her mother, bless her little Ole heart.

LIKE WHO DOESN’T?!

Yep.  Some weeks ago Rocket-man finally had to take matters into his own hands.  He saw his mother into an assisted living facility in her home town. Thankfully oldest sibling was available for accompanying him on that difficult task.   At eighty-six, Mrs. C.’s long-term memory is pretty darn good but short-term memory ….not so much.  She doesn’t remember five minutes ago. While she gets around without the aid of a walker she shuffles when she walks which is another factor indicating vascular dementia.  The process of going into assisted living was a thousand-fold easier than with my mother. Mrs. C was pretty much calm as a kitten and happy too unlike my mother, who in spite of being wheelchair bound, fought to the bitter end, leaving this earth terribly unhappy with everyone in the world.  Mrs. C. appears so far to be doing just fine.  Thankfully, she seems to be happy to have three square meals a day, social interaction, and endless card games and other such activities.

Now the task of clearing her home has landed pretty much on our shoulders though oldest sibling–we sincerely hope– plans on helping at some point in the weeks to come.  My sister and her family offered their help and support as well, and in fact they are just several hotel rooms down from us, God bless them!.  But the daughter that lives in the same town couldn’t be bothered with taking care of her mother in her declining years much less helping clear the family home.  This is where I bite my tongue ’til it bleeds because it would be incredibly easy to unleash a venomous diatribe against the egregious behavior of said sister.  Suffice it to say that there seems to be one like her in every family.  Just as there was one in mine…a feckless sibling who cannot seem to boot pesky little demons regarding their parents (and I do mean little in this case) into a closet somewhere long enough to take care of their parent’s basic needs in their years of decline.

Sigh…..

Forgive me when I say that I am buoyed by the fact that the universe will respond…and in fact, already has.

I’ll admit that I’ve never been particularly close to my mother-in-law. Let me be clear:  she is not a bad person. We have simply never connected.  Still, as I began the task of putting things into contractor-strength trash bags I’m barely able to contain my anger.  I am appalled at the mess before me and naturally so is Rocket-man.    Mrs. C. could never afford the luxury of a cleaning service but she was able to maintain a decently clean home, that is, until her husband passed away more than a decade ago.  There was not a broom to be found in the whole place let alone a toilet brush.  No one deserves to live in this kind of filth. The collection of years of dust and dirt on furniture crammed to the gills with fifty-plus years of stuff put there by depression-era parents made us cough and wheeze throughout the day.  My sis wore a face mask which helped but still, the condition of the bathrooms, kitchen and basement made us wretch on more than one occasion.

Just the tip of the iceberg….

Many times throughout the day we shook our heads, vacillating between sadness and anger.  “I get that your mom has been alone for years since your father’s passing and she just couldn’t keep things up…. but really….There is just no excuse for this…. with a daughter that lives in the same town!” I cried. 

“I know,” said Rocket-man.  Barely an hour into our work he’s dripping with sweat from moving heavy bags of junk and furniture out the door.  It was then I could tell from his body language that he was taking this mess all on the chin. 

The blame is mine; I should have done more for my mother….and sooner.

“This is not your mea culpa,” I said as I hugged him during a break from clearing out kitchen cabinets.  “I’ve known you for twenty years and there is not a week that goes by that you don’t call and talk to your mom.  It’s not your fault that your career path took you away from your home town.  And besides, as much as you travel, you’ve seen and done a hundred-fold more for your mom particularly in these past fifteen years than your sister has and she lives just minutes away.  And what about her five grandchildren!  They live in the same town too!    Where have they been?  Your mom may have been a busy-body grandmother but she was always available;  baby-sitting at the drop of a hat and endless sweets and treats for her grand-kids!

With a heavy sigh, Rocket-man nods his head in agreement.

“And besides,” I add “You’re not the who collected THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of newspaper and magazine recipes, cutting them out and stuffing them into a gazillion little photo albums!”  

“Yeah…what’s up with that; she really didn’t even cook,” said Rocket-man with the hint of a smile.

I’m not sure my words helped much but I noted a softness in his jaw and a twinkle in his eye as he turned to continued hauling stuff out the door.

At the end of the day two, between the five of us, we had filled the driveway’s car port and driveway to the gills with bags to haul away as well as two 400 cubic feet truckloads for the 1-800-GOT-JUNK folks.   Those guys were a Godsend; they did all the heavy lifting and with smiles too.  It soothed Rocket-man, and sis too, to learn that not everything would be thrown into the local landfill.  The 1-800-GOT-JUNK folks separate out items suitable for donation to local homeless shelters and other such centers. 

Now “back at the ranch” and with a day to recover I’m once again in pitching mode, Ala Marie Kondo.  I thought I’d done enough of that for a while when preparing for the move from middle-earth Alabama to Virginia just a year ago!  Now. I’m on a mission to keep things as simple as possible for my daughter, because It’s not a matter of IF…but WHEN.  My time WILL arrive.

I’ve already got four bags of stuff ready for donation and there is potential for more before the day is over.

Without doubt, there is bliss in De-cluttering. But more importantly, I’m beyond grateful for the love and support of my sister and her family.  Not only did they do a lot of heavy lifting, they helped keep things real which translates thusly: spontaneous eruptions of laughter in the midst of incredibly unfavorable conditions.

 

Waterlogged

I’m pretty sure The Poodle is actively scouting for new digs. In fact, if he possessed opposable thumbs I’m certain he’d be doing web searches now looking for a new place to move his bed to.

Let’s be clear.  I am not abusing my four-legged love though he would be quick to argue otherwise.

Since we’ve moved into our Northern Virginia home it’s been one fix-it problem after another.  In just shy of nine months we have endured a steady stream of contractors and the accompanying noise.  Some of course, were entirely optional, such as painters in the house for over a week.  However, vent cleaning, replacing the defunct water heater, toilet replacement, new appliances being installed, tree removals, and even replacing the rotting deck weren’t planned.

So now we’ve been able to enjoy a week of quiet after replacing the decaying wood deck with a lovely new screened-in one.   It’s been tranquil around these parts without incessant Poodle barking due to drills, pounding and such.  No sooner than we all exhaled into the bliss of our screened-in porch another shoe dropped.

I was sitting in Italian class when the call came from my son (yes…he is STILL in the basement)….and, in light of recent headlines about a man-child in a New York basement, let me not digress….

I excused myself and went out into the hall to take the call.  Actually, I was thinking my son was going to tell me he had lost this job.  Instead he said:  “Mom, there is water dripping from the ceiling in the kitchen. I placed a bowl there….thought you should know.” 

Ya think?

“What?” I roared, causing heads to turn.

Santo cielo (good heavens)….per l’amor di Dio (for the love of God)….can we not catch a break!?

“Mi dispiace professoressa. Ho una problema con il tetto di mia casa!”  (I’m sorry teacher….I have a problem with the roof on my house).

In two minutes flat I was on the road home.  In the meantime, I called my sis asking if she’d look in on the situation before I arrived.  She called me less than five minutes later as I was still in transit to confirm the news.

“The drips are coming down a good six seconds apart,” she reported.  “Your master bath is directly above the area. Maybe its a plumbing issue?”

Naturally, I nearly lost my mind.  What else could go wrong with this house?

Off and running I went to address the situation.  With the help of my sis I figured out how to turn off the water via the main shut-off valve.  I scrambled to submit an on-line claim request to the home warranty company and within minutes received a work order number.  I followed up with a phone call just two blinks-of-an-eye later only to learn that it would be a week before a plumber could come out.

A week?!

I’ll confess I was not….um… calm.  This is my first time with a home warranty company.  Is this going to be the norm?!  I could feel the Purple Minion bubbling up from the pit of my being.

“A week?”  I refrained from adding: Are you nuts?!  “I have water steadily dripping from my ceiling….around the light fixture, I might add!  I cannot possibly wait a week to address the problem!”

So, kicking “you might not be able to go out of network” to the curb, I called my plumber George.  He installed a pretty white potty in my powder room soon after we moved in.

“What’s up?” asks George.

I launch breathlessly into a tirade about the problem finishing with “can you please come out today?”

“Um…no,” was his reply.

Before I had time to erupt in frustration over his answer –which would have been my second lava flow of the day–George says “Lets walk through the problem over the phone.”

So, he Face-times me.  I can see that he is on his back in someone’s bathroom.

“Oh my God George, you’re on  job now!  I am so sorry to bother you.”

“No problem.  It’s what I live for,” he deadpanned.

He walks me through things to check as he continues working on his back on his client’s floor.  Hmm…no, it’s not the toilet in the master bath.  Hmm…all looks good in the shower which is directly over the area that’s leaking.

I’m yakking on Face-Time with George as I rack my brain.  As I pace the floor George makes a request. “Hey, boss lady, can you please stay in one place, you’re killing me here with sea sickness!”

Oh…jeez…right….I’m sorry!  “If it is not coming from the master bath …where is the water coming from?  Though we have been getting soaked with rain lately it cannot be the roof….I mean how can it be?  According to the previous homeowner, It was replaced in 2013.

I walk into the other bedroom and continue chatting with George as I look out the window.  It is then that I can see that a portion of the roof just above the area in the kitchen that is leaking is wet from water dripping from the gutters above me.  I look left, then right.  Everything is dry as a bone except for that wet spot.

“By George, I think I’ve got it,” I say to George.  I think this gutter system is the culprit.”   I profusely thank George for his help and promise to call him soon as we will need another pretty white potty installed.

I call Rocket-man to let him know that I may have diagnosed the problem.  “It’s the Gutter Helmet system.  I tried to schedule a cleaning for it just a few days ago and no one would service it because…well…it’s a Gutter Helmet system.”

Note to anyone thinking about Gutter Helmet for their home: DON’T DO IT. Don’t believe them when they say it keeps stuff out of the gutter. It’s a hassle–fifty-fold, and more–to clean. and if not done just so (read: By a Gutter Helmet professional) it voids their “lifetime” warranty;  most other gutter cleaning companies don’t want the headache particularly since the helmet system is placed UNDER the first row of roof shingles.  It’s by no means easy-peasy to remove the helmet and it’s also EXPENSIVE to do so.

Before I digress into a long diatribe about my first world problem suffice it to say customer service with Gutter Helmet was terrible!  The service technician from Gutter Helmet never showed up.  Naturally, as not one but two pots in the kitchen were steadily receiving water from the ceiling, this warranted plan B.  Replace Gutter Helmet with a more user-friendly leaf guard system.  I called another gutter company and the next day, bright and early….and on time….they new gutter folks showed up.  The guys were super.  They were practically giddy to show me how horrible the Gutter Helmet system was.  There was so much mud and debris in the gutters that they were incredulous the gutters didn’t fall off from the sheer weight of all the gunk.  So, I’m pleased as punch to have new gutters and downspouts.

Who says a gal needs shiny baubles–or new shoes– to be happy?

You’d be wrong however if you thought that was the end of that little drama.

Of course not.  How silly.

The next day my first world drip problem was back.

Another round of sleuthing (and expletives) began.

So it turns out it was not the gutters causing the problem.  It was the HVAC system in the attic.  Apparently the home inspector (the one we paid $875 to perform a thorough home inspection before we bought this house) overlooked YET ANOTHER problem.  You’ll recall the mountain of lint in the basement ceiling because the dryer vent was not venting to the outside! Yep….THAT home inspector.  Grrrrr.

Anyhoo….A call to the HVAC company yielded a quick response.  Within thirty minutes I had a definitive diagnosis: the primary condensation line was clogged which meant the secondary condensation line to the outside would need to come to the rescue.  It would have been able to do its job had it not been THREE INCHES TOO SHORT.

Breathe missy….breathe.

Therefore most of the condensation water was dripping back into the house.  The HVAC guy said, “Your home inspector should have caught that right away.”

I held up my hand.  Don’t get me started was all I could muster.

Rocket-man has dubbed our house “Aquarius”.  “We are waterlogged.” Between all the drainage issues in the yard, leaky faucets, replacing a water heater, leaky toilet, and now water damage to walls and ceiling…..I see his point.

I pull The Poodle up into my lap moments after the HVAC technician, who had worked for more than three hours to resolve the problem, finally pulled out of our driveway well after happy-hour time.

Rocket-man hands me a glass of red wine as we kick back on the deck.  As he takes a swig of his beer, He’s tallying up the fix-it expenses… so far…less than a year of living in our Aquarius home.

I caress The Poodle and ask Alexa to play some smooth jazz.  For a moment I’m lost in the music.  It’s our first world problem.  Too many folks in the world don’t even have a roof that leaks or a condensation line that is too short.

I let Chris Botti and his trumpet, along with the beating heart of my poodle-love, soften the worry and anxiety in my heart.

“First world problems,” I say to Rocket-man.  “I’m chilled.”   Without a shadow of a doubt,  I am grateful for Aquarius and all of her problems and possibilities.

 

 

The Heat is On

Today is lovely but just a few days ago we experienced summer as temps went from forty to ninety-one, seemingly without a blink of hesitation.

Goodness gracious,” I said as I wiped salty sweat from my eyes.  A check of the car thermometer confirmed: It read 91.

Wow.  It was just 36 degrees this morning!

The heat is on.  If you blinked, you missed spring in Northern Virginia. How did I not remember that?  I lived here for fourteen years during my first sojourn in these neck-of-the-woods.  I suspect eight years of Southern California living with oceans breezes and  delightful weather nearly year-round  swept all dreadful weather memories from my consciousness.  No doubt, dear reader, it would be the same for you: less than two miles from the ocean, we could practically live outdoors every day of the year. Not a single mosquito –not even a fly– interrupted evenings out on the patio as we enjoyed wine and dining.

Enter wistful sigh here…..When living in middle-earth-land Alabama spring usually appeared by February which meant it wasn’t long after that so did all manner of flying insects.  Wasps, bees, lady bugs, cicadas, palmetto bugs…it seemed like we had ’em all! 

I could complain about many things during my southern living years (guilty as charged…regretfully too much complaining) but I could not complain about our yard which was ever so lovely.  The ample back yard, adorned by a decorative iron-look fence with brick posts, included an outdoor brick fireplace and not one but two wonderfully spacious patios. The yard was perfect for The Poodle to exhaust himself on his daily quest to catch squirrels.  The problem–in case you haven’t guessed it by now–was that we could only truly enjoy the yard and patio less than five months of the year.  Alas, it wasn’t because of the suffocating southern heat but rather due to Jurassic culprits…yes mosquitoes.  Who knew that there is evidence of these vectors of diseases dating back to the Jurassic era?   Particularly when a can of bug spray wasn’t readily at hand, the very real danger of West Nile Virus often kept us indoors even when temps were pleasant enough.

Despite the fact that spring comes late in Northern Virginia (May) and lasts …like…um…less than three days doesn’t mean that we don’t have sweltering temps and mosquitoes.  We’ve got both.  This time around however we have decided to reclaim our backyard pleasure– albeit at great expense. Read: Peanut butter sandwiches for quite some time. 

Life is getting shorter the older we get and while our backyard days won’t ever be as blissfully perfect as what we enjoyed during our SoCal years we are not about to give up said enjoyment while we still can reasonably function.

So folks….by the end of week, just in time for Mother’s Day, we shall be enjoying early morning coffee and sipping our evening libations outside, in our new screened-in deck!   The skylights are being installed as I write.  I am giddy-as-a-school-girl with delight!  Golly-gee…that rhymes! 

Feeling blessed and full of bliss….

Out with the rotting old deck…..

…and in with the new!