Posted in Car Repair, Home Repair, humor

The Joys (?) of Home and Car Ownership

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Last week was interesting. It started out with the leak in the garage. Since our garage is directly underneath the house, it seemed to be a good idea to try to figure out what was going on especially since the leak was growing and mold was forming on the ceiling.

Hubby and I tried to duplicate what happened. We thought it might be the shower. I had first noticed the leak after I had showered. So we ran the shower, and ran the shower and set off the smoke alarm because of the steam pouring out of the bathroom. The good news was the smoke alarm works, the bad news was that the shower wasn’t the problem. There was no additional water pooling.

Two days later another major puddle. So we call the plumber. This guy is great and someone comes right out. Of course a hole has to be cut into the ceiling. Guess what we discover. The uncapped drain pipes from the heating unit are vented right into the crawl space and have been dripping on the plaster board. I don’t think that was quite up to code and I question the intelligence of the individual who installed it. I am not a plumbing expert, but even I know, you shouldn’t do that.

So we get the pipe rerouted and then the work starts on patching the ceiling.

Now here is where it gets really exciting. Hubby had moved his car so that the area could be accessed. His car is half way out of the garage. Well, we decide we need a few things from the grocery. Dang, the car won’t start. Hubby says “Looks like the battery is dead, I’ll pop the car into neutral and we can push it so that we can jump it with your truck.” Hubby has a Buick LaCrosse. First problem, you cannot pop that car into gear unless the car is started. Wait you cannot start the car with a dead battery. Oh yeah, the parking brake is automatically engaged as a safety feature.   Thank heavens this didn’t happen on a railroad track with a train coming, since the car is now immobile.  Really great safety feature.

The car is dead and we can’t move it forward or backward. We can’t get the car towed since it is front-wheeled drive and if you tow it from the rear, you will cause damage. Our garage is tight, so positioning the car and truck for a jump is a problem. We sleep on it. The garage is wide open.

Hubby says in the morning, “I’ve changed batteries before, we’ll just pull this one out, buy another and pop it in. It will be simple.” Folks, do not try this at home. The battery is housed in a plastic casing. We get the top case off. There is a second layer. We go to You Tube and find a video on how to change a battery in a Buick LaCrosse. We study it. We get the second layer removed. There is a bracket holding the battery in place. We remove the bracket, after trying about 5 different size sockets. We remove the cables on the battery and try to lift the battery up. No dice. There is about a half-inch of clearance where you can tilt the battery to pry it out. Hubby even tries with a crow bar, we still can’t get it. Our hands bear the scars, scrapes and bruises from our efforts. No luck. We take a break.

Hubby goes down later in the day. I hear a loud crash. I go rushing down and hubby is talking to the neighbor. The crash was from the garage door coming down without the spring engaged. The good news was that it wasn’t the bay where the car was sitting or where the hubby was standing. The other good news is that the neighbor heard the crash and came to investigate. After much effort, he was able to work the battery out of the car. We celebrate our success and turn in for the night. The garage is still open.

Day three, we buy a battery and bring it home. It should be easier to get it back in to the car….gravity will assist, right?   Hubby and I fail miserably, but it is neighbor to the rescue again. He is now also scraped up from the effort.

Whoever designed and configured the battery placement on the LaCrosse should have gone back to the drawing board. But anyhow….

The leak is repaired, the car is working. And although we still have to get the garage door repaired and the ceiling primed and painted, life is good.

The moral of this story is:

Don’t  try and change the battery on a Buick Lacrosse yourself, unless you have helpful and handy neighbors.

 

 

Posted in business advice, dining, humor, Quality, rant, Savannah, shopping, Uncategorized

Advice for Entrepreneurs

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It was an average kind of day. My hubby and I had a number of errands to run so we were going to do the 25-mile drive into town. We generally try to do a number of things in a trip. It saves gas and it saves time.

 

First on the agenda was my trip to the doctor. The office is on the large campus of one of the major hospitals in town. It was my first visit to this particular physician and while they did provide a street address and a room number on the appointment card, there are about twelve buildings at the hospital. It is a bit of a crapshoot to pick the right building. Since I did some fairly convoluted searching on the Internet, we did find the place. The doctor was nice and competent and other than having to schedule some normal follow-up tests all went well with the visit.

 

Tip Number 1: Provide complete address information for all places of business or recreation.

 

I get positively cranky when an event is advertised and it says, “The fabulous mart is held at Saint Sam’s Church.” I would love to go to your event. I might even buy something and add to your profits. I am new to town or I am a tourist or I am directionally challenged. How in the heck am I supposed to find your location? Your 4-color full-page ad was wonderful and it caught my interest, but if you don’t tell me where you are, I’m not getting there. Unless I really, really want to go, I am not going to do the additional research needed to find out your location.

 

Back to our day trip, next on the agenda was a stop at the drugstore to pick up some gosh awful expensive medicine for hubby. The drug store is a bit out of the way for us, but since it is where we can get the drug for a reasonable price through our insurance, that’s where we go. We pick up the bag at the pharmacy and scoot out of the drugstore. What wonderful service. Right?

 

Next stop…the craft store. You have seen the comic strips with the older couple in the store and the woman spending an hour picking out the right skein of yarn and the husband rolling his eyeballs. We are those people. But this time I was prepared. I had a particular target in mind and a fine coupon for 40% off. I found the item, didn’t loiter and headed for the register. Price was $15. Now let see, 40% off is $6, leaving me with a $9 item plus a bit for tax. The lady at the register asks me for $17. Say what? Okay, she just misread the register, so all was well. I pay my $9 and leave.

 

Tip Number 2: Make sure employees have some basic knowledge of grade school arithmetic.

 

I know, you have electronic registers that scan UPC codes, manage inventory and do all the calculations for you, but a bit of knowledge about addition, subtractions and dare I demand percentages, really would help. I just feel like bashing my head against the counter, when a clerk can’t deduct 10% from a sales item without using a computer. Yes, I went to school a few years ago and yes we did have calculators, but we learned the basics without relying on those calculators.

 

Stop number four on our itinerary was a local “variety” store. Hubby likes to go there for the weird sodas and I like their cheap plunk. We had about 20 minutes kill before the restaurant that we were planning to have dinner in opened. We did our browsing, bought our wine and soda and all went well. So now we are off to dinner.

 

We pull into the restaurant at 5:05 PM. I had wanted to try this place since they reviewed it in the local newspaper. The journalist raved about the food and the prices seemed reasonable. I had my eye on a nice seafood dinner. Hubby and I had tried to get in the place a few weeks ago for lunch, but they were closed. The review had said that the restaurant was open for lunch, but sometimes in a new place traffic doesn’t support the original hours and things change. I understand that, not a problem. So we are here for dinner. We walk in the hostess looks at us and asks, “What can I do for you?” I say, “Two for dinner”. She says, “We are not open yet”. I ask, “What time do you open?” “5:00 PM.” I did mention it was 5:05 PM didn’t I? She sees my face and says, “You can have a seat but the cooks are out in the parking lot and we aren’t ready yet.” I say, “Thanks but maybe not.” As we leave we see a bunch of guys in the parking lot staring in a cooler, chatting and laughing. I guess they were comparing the size of their fish. At least the catch of the day was fresh.

 

Tip Number 3: Post your hours and open on time.

 

Guess what? We are not going back to that restaurant. Hubby and I now have an ongoing bet on when this place will go out of business. My guess is by the end of the year. Hubby said at the end of the tourist season.

 

Back to our day trip, all is not lost for supper. I had a fall back plan for one of our local haunts. It is a bar and serves food. They have great burgers and buffalo chicken. It is quirky, so I fit right in. There is a boar’s head displayed prominently over the bar with a bevy of bras adding to the festive décor. Gosh, I love that place. Hubby and I have a nice dinner and head home. Looking forward to some mindless TV viewing for the evening. We unpack the car.

 

As I was getting a drink, I notice the bag from the pharmacy. I get the prescription out to put it away and look at the bottle. “Dang, Dang and Double Dang”, I yell. Hubby comes running into the kitchen saying, “What’s wrong.” (For full disclosure, maybe those are not the exact expletives that I used.) The pharmacy gave you the wrong prescription I rant. Hubby now has Mr. Smith’s bottle of Oxycodone and we don’t have his drug.

 

Tip Number 4: Put the right item in the bag that you are handing your customer, especially if you are dealing with items that can kill you.

 

Yes, we should have checked the bag. But really, shouldn’t we be able to rely on something that basic being done right. Hubby calls the pharmacy and explains the issue. Then it is the 50-mile round trip to town again. Frankly hubby was a lot nicer, when he returned the drugs, than I would have been. He only gently pointed out that they gave him a heavy-duty narcotic and that the results could have been like in the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” if George had never been born and the druggist, killed the patient.

 

We returned home to the cat and the TV. We got our stuff and nobody died. The trip was a success. Hopefully if you follow my tips, your business will be too.

 

Posted in dining, humor, taboos, Uncategorized

My Guilty Secret

Over the years society’s taboos have changed.  What was once frowned upon has become acceptable. However, some things still stay forbidden or at least are considered declass.  Once it was considered in bad taste to stare at people…now people watching is an acceptable hobby.  Now I am not saying that folks have not people watched forever, they were just more discrete about it.  Can’t you just imagine one Neanderthal talking to another and being catty about the length of a fur shift?

But I digress. I know you can’t wait to hear my secret.  Well here it is.

I eavesdrop.

I am deeply ashamed.  Actually I’m not…I do it in public places and my logic is as follows:  If you don’t want to share your conversation, don’t talk so loudly.  Now I am not particularly fond of one-sided cell phone conversations.  They can be irritating and generally you don’t hear anything of major interest.  But that is a rant for another day.  I am talking about those conversations or snippets that you hear in restaurants or any other crowded place.  Sometimes it can just be something like the best place to get ice cream in a touristy town, but other times it is more meaty.

Here is one of my favorites.  It happened about thirteen years ago in a little seafood place in Pennsylvania.  My then fiancé and I were sitting in a booth in downstairs section of the restaurant.  You know the kind of place.  Good food, kind of dim, going for the ambience, but never quite making it.  We really liked the place and went there for dinner relatively often.

There was a group sitting in the booth across from us – two couples.  I would guess they were about seventy and nicely dressed.  They were enjoying their dinners and chatting.  One of the men in the group dominated the conversation.  He spoke clearly and given the fact that we were about three feet away, I didn’t even have to strain to hear.  The conversation started with speeders in “his” gated community.  Ironically, this community was where my fiancé was living, so my ears really perked up.  This gentleman went on and on how often he called the police and the homeowners’ association to complain and how evil these people were.  Now don’t get me wrong, you really shouldn’t speed in residential areas, but I had never notice a major problem.  The way this guy was talking, I got the impression that the militia would be called if you so much as plucked a dandelion from his lawn, let alone drove two miles over the speed limit.  None of the other members of his party got a word in except for maybe a grunt of agreement.

By this time, I am thinking okay, the dude is a blowhard and not someone I really am enamored with, but to each his own.  Then the conversation (or should I say monolog) shifted.  He moved on to “bad behavior” at the community center.  He spoke graphically and at length about a young man who was acting rambunctiously at the pool and who got what he deserved.  The youth was jumping in the pool.  The rules say no jumping.  Bad kid, bad kid.   Apparently, the lad did a face plant and came up bleeding copiously with an imprint of the pool tile on his forehead.  Lovely dinner conversation, it was a blow by blow of each and every drop of blood that flew, the depth of the tile dent and how the kid deserved it.

So I am sitting there, with my guy and I loose it. Normally with my eavesdropping, I can remain stoic and hidden.  This conversation was so inappropriate and the guy was so much a caricature of a domineering, self-absorbed critic that I started giggling. That became contagious and soon the two of us were doing some non-stop laughing at the table.  I couldn’t stop.  I know it wasn’t polite and that speeding and gore are not funny topics, but there it was.

We got the evil eye from across the way.  I suspect the next time they went out for dinner the monolog focused on how rude people can be laughing in restaurants.

What can I say?  I eavesdrop.

Have you overheard anything good lately?

Posted in Home Repair, humor, Quality

Two Cheap Screws

 

My husband and I wanted to do a bit of sprucing up on the entry to our house.

For a couple of months now, my husband has been saying that our front door needs a new coat of paint.  To do a translation of that comment another individual would say, “My dear wife, why don’t you paint the front door? I will pick out the color and comment on the spots that you miss.  I will also apply one or maybe two swipes of paint, so that I can say I helped.”

The second issue that we had is that there is no doorbell or knocker on the door.  So unless a visitor pounds quite loudly, we don’t hear them.  I suspect some of the problem may be that our hearing is not what it used to be due to too much rock and roll and noise pollution in our growing up years.

I finally break down and say, “let’s do it.”  We drive off to the local hardware store and procure a quart of paint.  Now the door is a forest green, but the husband thinks we should change that.  We agree on a deep maroon/red.  The paint and primer are all in one.  I have brushes, rollers and tape, so we are good to go.  We also choose and order a fine doorknocker from Amazon.  They have a nice selection and we generally have good luck with both delivery and quality of product from them.  The knocker comes in the mail.  It is lovely; a brass beauty and best of all installation looks easy only two screws to put in.

The painting day arrives.  The weather is perfect; the paint is thick and goes on nicely.  A second coat is needed because of the color change, but no real problems.  Hubby does his critique and two swipes of the brush and we are done.  We allow the door to dry overnight.

Day two, I prep for the quick installation of the knocker.  (Did I mention there are only two screws to put in?)  I pull out my handy drill.  My husband generally doesn’t use power tools.  His statement is “I don’t do power tools and the insurance company continues to cover me.”  I line up the doorknocker, mark the two spots for screw placement and drill my pilot holes.  I have the electric screwdriver at hand ready to install.

How hard could it be?

You know the little slots that your flat head screwdriver goes in to turn the screw…..THEY ARE ONLY A MICROMETER DEEP.  I can’t get a bit to stay in the slot and not strip the screws.  I run to the garage to get another bit.  The knocker itself is also blocking the screw-holes, so I can’t get the driver to turn.  Husband wanders over attracted by his wife ranting at the cheap screws and using salty language.  He suggests disassembling the knocker to be able to angle the screws.  This is a brilliant idea.  It might have actually worked if the screw slots were deep enough.  We get a jeweler’s piece to try and turn the screws…not enough torque.  At this point I am thinking replace the screws.  But, they are visible and brass.  Replacing the screws would require a 25 mile round trip to the hardware store.  I soldier on and finally get the screws in.  What should have taken 5 minutes, took about 45 minutes.

Two cheap screws = one cranky woman.

P.S.  The door looks beautiful, but now the trim along side it looks a little dinked.  Husband says, “we” should paint that next.

Posted in animals, humor, Uncategorized

The Raider

 

I have never been fond of birds in cages, but I like wild birds.  For years, I have had a bird feeder where I could watch the little critters fly around.  It made me happy.

 

In my first house, there were the squirrels that would raid the bird feeder.  They were well fed on the birdseed, but I didn’t really mind because they were very acrobatic and frankly, there are few things funnier than a squirrel hanging upside-down and stretching to reach the feeder, especially when they take the occasional tumble and get up and try again.  It became a game of keep-away between the squirrels and the birds with the squirrels winning most days.

 

Things change.  I got married and moved to a new house.  It was in a wooded lot with lots of mature trees.  There was a perfect spot for a bird feeder, right outside my kitchen window.  My husband bought a new feeder for me.  It was a great gift.  I could watch the birds visit while I worked in the kitchen.  The cat had a great spot by the porch door and would spend hours planning his attack.  (Since he is an indoor cat, his plans were seldom implemented.)  We had blue jays, cardinals, robins, woodpeckers, sparrows and crows.  We started putting suet out and more birds arrived.  We did have a few raiders.  There were a couple of squirrels during the day, but they were not as successful as before, perhaps because the feeder was on a pole.  A couple of times at night the feeder was emptied, we were not sure by what since we had deer and skunks visiting.  Overall, it was not too bad and the birds were prolific.  I really had a great time and I managed to hook my husband on bird watching and feeding.

 

We sold the house and moved.  By now my husband is a convert, so on a trip to the home improvement store, we bought a new bird feeder.   It has been challenging.  We hung the feeder in a tree, but the birds didn’t like the spot.  We thought it might be too low, and too susceptible to predators.  We hung the feeder higher.  Now we use the stepladder to fill the feeder.  (Even though we are no longer as young as we used to be.) The birds came, unfortunately so did the raccoon.  The beast clawed his way up the tree and enjoyed the bird food.  Okay, we’ll fix that.  We moved the feeder to a littler branch.  That seemed to work…for a while.  The last week we noticed the lid of the feeder off and the food disappearing overnight.  Ricky the Raccoon is back.  Yesterday we moved the feeder again to a metal pole in the middle of the lawn.  Aesthetically, it just isn’t the right spot, but so far only the birds are using the feeder.  The plan is to move the pole closer to the tree and see if we can still avoid the midnight raider.  The war is on.  The only question is: who will win the raccoon or the humans?  To date, it has been Ricky the Raccoon.

Posted in humor, Uncategorized

The Applebee’s Incident

I used to like Applebee’s.  Food is generally decent, predictable and relatively inexpensive. And, whoever came up with the Mudslide, as an adult beverage, must have been a genius.  Hey, what is not to like about a milk shake with a kick?

So, my husband and I are out doing errands and decide to stop for dinner.  We see an Applebee’s.  It’s convenient, not crowded and we figure we can each find something we like.  What could go wrong?

The hostess seats us and the waiter arrives promptly to take our drink orders.  I order a frou-frou drink and my husband orders a beer.  Five minutes later the waiter comes back, they are out of that particular beer.  Not a problem, my husband orders another type of beer.  Five minutes later, my drink arrives and the waiter tells my husband they are out of beer number two.  My husband orders another brand and we both order dinner.

My husband’s beer arrives with his dinner.  Ten minutes later, I still don’t have my dinner and the waiter has vanished.  Twenty minutes later, the waiter reappears and we flag him down to inquire about my dinner.  We get a puzzled look and then he says he will check on it.  By this time, both my husband and I are less than happy.  Five minutes later, the waiter returns and says my entree will arrive in a few minutes.  Ten minutes after that, he tells us, “It will be just a few more minutes.”  Finally my dinner arrives.  My husband has long since finished eating.  I am dining solo, but perhaps it was just as well that my husband finished his dinner, since part three of this comedy of errors is about to commence.

There is a family dining behind me.  My husband is facing their table.  A young lad proceeds to upchuck all over the place.  Now, stuff like this happens if you have children, but generally courteous people try and minimize the visibility of the incident and quietly clean up the mess.  Not this family…oh no.  The parents think the kid puking is hilarious.  His older brother proceeds to run up and down the aisle making gagging noises and yelling that, “Bobby puked”.  The restaurant staff takes no steps to alleviate the situation.  The parents are still amused and laughing as they leave.

It was one of the worst dinners out that we have ever experienced.  Did we get an acceptable apology for this “lovely” dining experience?   No.  We didn’t even get a sincere “I’m sorry” from the waiter or the manager.

We paid the bill and left, never to return.  Please note this is the only time my husband, who is now retired, did not leave a tip.  Do you think that the waiter wondered why?

Posted in humor, Moving, Uncategorized

For Your Protection

I am not a suspicious-looking character.  People tell me their life stories in grocery store checkout lines.  About once a month, I get the comment, “You look just like my second cousin or Aunt Mary or my former Sunday school teacher”.  If you were in a roomful of twenty strangers and had to ask one of them to hold you wallet, nineteen times out of twenty, you would ask me.  Ms. Innocuous is who I am.

Well, earlier this year, my husband and I moved to Georgia and needed to open a bank account.  We had some checks to cash and wanted to get a local bank for better access to our funds.  We both have had accounts since we were little children.  I can remember taking a dollar to school every week to put in my bankbook when I was in grade school.  My husband remembers taking in a dime every week.  (You can see he is much, much, much older than me.)  I had passed a nearby local bank and checked it out online.  All seemed fine and since both my husband and I like to do business as locally, we decided to go there.

We were putting the account in my name.  So I dutifully filled out the paperwork at the bank.  They wanted identification, which was understandable, and they also said, “We have to do a credit check.  It is bank policy and a requirement of the Patriot Act.”  Now I thought that was a bit odd, because we were depositing money not asking for a loan, but our credit is acceptable, so we said okay.

The bank employee returned and said, “We can’t open an account, we can’t verify your address.”  Since we had just moved, I did not have a Georgia license yet and the address on the old (and still valid) license did not match what the credit bureau had on record, since I had a temporary apartment in the interim.  I told them the previous address that they had on the report, but that made no difference.  They would not open the account.  It was company policy.

I am now really irritated; my husband is now really irritated.  We spent thirty minutes giving our personal and confidential life history to this bank and waiting on a credit report, all for nothing.  My husband asked for the application form. We took it.  Then, we walked out. Did I mention we were irritated?

Three days later we go to pick up the mail and there is a letter from the bank, telling us they can’t open an account because they can’t verify our address.  They can’t verify our address, but they can send us mail, which gets to us at our non-verifiable address.  What is wrong with this scenario?  Can someone explain it to me?  I surely don’t understand.

We did successfully establish an account at a not so nearby bank.  Ironically, that was done without any issue.

My amused husband now fondly refers me to as “the terrorist”.  He laughs about his wife, who never even got a parking ticket, being flagged by a “Patriot Act Policy”.

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