Sunday, January 28, 2007

Productive Morning

The problem goes back well over a year ago when Himself raped the hot water faucet in the bathroom. Just didn't know his own strength and ripped the knob from its moorings. He turned the hot water in the bathroom off. We still had running cold, running water. I was not bothered by this fact as I usually wash my hands in the kitchen sink anyway. (Just an old idea from childhood that water from the bathroom sink came from the toilet) This was also the impetus to finally get the bathroom remodeled and it was supposed to happen this past summer. The project came to a screeching halt trying to coordinate between the demolition guy, the plumber, and a miscommunication as to who was serving as general contractor. No worries, next summer for sure.

Somewhere around Tues. of last week, the youngest child began complaining about water pressure dropping during her shower. I sang the usual "if you didn't stand in the shower like a statue while the well was draining dry, you'd have plenty of water" song. The following day her sharp cry of "HEY!" sent me dashing into the bathroom to see her head completely lathered and two drops of water dripping from the shower head. Houston, we've got a problem.

Pressure had dropped throughout the line. Not much pressure in the sink, none in the bathroom sink, and the toilet was filling trickle by trickle. Houston, we've got a big problem. Living out in the boondocks, we own our own well which has good and bad points. Good, because we know what's in our water. Bad because we can't be sure whether the problem is a straight plumbing problem or something to do with the well. To complicate matters, there's the water filtration system to remove the iron and manganese from the water. There's also the boiler mate which makes and stores our hot water. Who ya gonna call?

Talking to my friend, Red, she had a similar problem and it turned out to be the boiler mate. I wasn't so sure, but I called the heating oil service as the water is heated through the furnace. It was a place to start. At least I knew I would get a return call. I wasn't so sure of a return call from the plumber.

The receptionist was very nice. Said she's send someone over, at least if it wasn't their problem, he could point me in the right direction. Service was schedule for after 9:30am on Thurs. Promptly at 9:30 am, Tom arrived. In the meantime, we still had water in the shower. Pressure would build up and then drop. Tom thought it was a problem at the well pump in the basement, and happily the oil service took care of pump maintenance too. He fiddled and tested and finally said there was a problem in one or both check valves. He took them apart and found one was clogged with bits of plastic and what looked like string. He changed both for good measure since the parts were 20 years old. Voila! We had volcanic pressure in the shower!

The bathroom sink was another matter. Just a drip, drip, drip. It seemed like such a little project when I asked Himself to buy a cheap faucet to replace the one with the missing hot. By the way, we had purchased a lovely faucet with a nice goose neck after the hot water knob was torn off. American Standard is an oxymoron as the darn thing wouldn't fit the holes in the sink! Never mind, we set it aside for the bathroom remodel.

Himself went out early Sun. morning and purchased an inexpensive faucet set up. He began taking things apart. I went downstairs to do some work. I don't remember how long I was down there when I heard something drop and "Y'horse's patoot!" which is the phrase Himself utters in mixed company. Then I heard, "I'll be right back." and the sound of the front door closing. No worries, just the usual run to Ray's. Any project Himself has ever tackled involves a couple of trips to Ray's and sometimes a trip to Home Depot.

I went upstairs to the bathroom to check the progress. My mouth dropped open in a wordless "OH" as I saw the a very large crack and a hole in the side of the toilet bowl. I'm glad it wasn't the expensive, gleaming toilet I had picked out for the remodel. On the plus side, there was a new faucet in the bathroom sink, and it worked. Not only do we have the miracle of cold running water, but guests to the house will be thrilled to learn we now have hot running water as well. I know how Neanderthal man felt when he discovered fire.

Sometime later, Himself returned with epoxy which he slathered over the crack. Fortunately, the damage was above the water line. As Himself finished up he said, "Well, that was a productive morning. I think this is God's way to get moving on the bathroom remodel." I smiled politely. I think it was God's way to say next time call a plumber.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Some Days It Just Doesn't Pay....

There are days, and then there are days. Friday was one of those days. Friday began earlier in the week with a phone call from Dad. Ma's shoes were in. Dad called to tell me she had an appointment for a fitting on Friday at 10am. Good! Himself offered to keep me company. Even better!

Himself took the Youngest to school at 7:45am. At 8:40, we dropped the Oldest at her cube farm, and then hopped on the Pike. Traffic moved steadily and at a good clip inspite of some light snow. We made excellent time and arrived at the Weebles at 9:30am.

Their driveway had an inch or so of slush on it. Himself found a shovel and began pushing the slush off the driveway while I went in to announce the arrival of the elder bus.

Dad greeted me at the door, trousers, undershirt, no socks. This was not a good sign. Weebles not ready. The bathroom door banged open. Another bad sign. Ma came out in her robe with a towel turbaned on her head. "You didn't tell me you were coming!" she screamed. She stormed off to her bedroom muttering things in Italian that would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap. I looked at Dad, and he shrugged.

"Didn't you tell her the appointment was today?"

"I told her! She says I didn't tell her."

Oh, boy. I made the mistake of going into her room to see if she needed help getting dressed. She pounced on me. "I fell," she said "My hip feels like the bone is out of place."

I knew she must have given herself a good bang, but if her hip was dislocated she'd be in excrutiating pain and unable to move. "Why didn't you call the doctor?"


"You know that's not true." I tried not to look to the heavens in exasperation.

"You didn't call to take me."

"I'm not a mind reader!"

"I wasn't told you were coming today until this morning!"

"Look that's not my fault! I'm just the #%^&*#! bus driver!" Some days it just doesn't pay to gnaw through the straps. I went outside to warn Himself and to watch him finish the driveway. We went inside. I thought I would hurry things along as it was just past the appointment. I got Ma's pockabook. Hunted around the livingroom for her check book. Another battle erupted over which walker Ma was going to take, the tall one or the short one. After the brouhaha settled down and the walker decision had been made, we were able to load Weebles into the car.

Himself has his own way to get to the hospital where the podiatrist's office is located. Ma turned toward him and started to open her mouth. Nothing came out. I bit my lip so I wouldn't laugh. She so wanted to yell that Himself was going the wrong way!

Himself pulled up to the front door, and Weebles were offloaded. Himself took Ma's handicap placard and went to find a space and peace as he would wait in the car. I didn't begrudge him, but wished I could figure out a reason why I couldn't stay with him.

Ma sputtered into the building. Yelled at Dad because he didn't push the button for the elevator. The "down" indicator on both elevators was lit so there was no need as both were headed to the lobby. We got in one elevator and rode up to the third floor. We were a good 20 mins. past the official appointment time.

Ma was still mumbling as we entered the office. Fortunately, there were no other Weebles in the waiting room. The little bit of snow had kept other weebles home. The receptionist escorted Ma to the shoe room. Ma was griping very loudly, Dad asked the receptionist for the key to the lavatory and bolted out of the office and down the hall. I started to sing, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in the neighborhood..." The receptionist started to laugh.

The doctor arrived and the griping stopped as the shoe fitting took place. "Oh these are wonderful. Oh these look nice." The doctor escorted Ma back to the waiting room. "You are so wonderful," she said to the doctor. "I don't know what I would do without you!"

"Oh, so your the golden child today", I said to the doctor.

"I guess so."

I so desperately wanted to say, "Good, you can take her home!"

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Television and OPD

Himself and I started watching a new television series, The Sopranos. It's not really a new series, just new to us as we don't get HBO. The series is being shown on the A&E channel. I'm really enjoying this program. I'm not watching it for the action or the drama. I'm enjoying watching Tony Soprano deal with his elderly mother and OPD. It's hysterical.

Tony loves his mother and is a devoted son. In one episode, in the middle of his business day, he calls his mother. She's sauteing mushrooms and forgets them on the stove. Next thing, flames shoot from the pan, but poor Tony can only hear his mother yelling, "Oh my God! Oh my God" Tony is able to get in touch with his wife to send her to check on his mother.

In another episode, Tony's mother is driving a friend home. The lady gets out of the car. Tony's mother goes to back out of the driveway, but forgets the car is in drive and plows through her friend. Mama ends up with a broken arm.

Tony moves his mother to a lovely assisted living facility. The old lady complains her son has "put her in a nursing home to die."

Poor Tony has panic attacks or in Italian acute agita. Tony talks to a shrink to help him deal with his OPD. He explains that the assisted living facility costs him four grand a month. It has lots of social amenities, but his mother refuses to participate thus making Tony feel very guilty. He says his mother makes him feel like he's "an eskimo pushing her out to sea." Himself and I roared. Tony should try blogging.

I can hardly wait for next week's episode.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Mahket Day

Yesterday, was another excursion to Market Basket. Himself came along and even offered to come into the store with the Weebles and me. What a guy!

We arrived at the house and the Weebles were running behind. They finally got themselves pulled together, coats on, when we had to do the missing checkbook dance. Himself thought I was kidding about these rituals. Checkbook found, we piled the Weebles in the car. Himself drove. Himself has his own preferred route to Market Basket. I was chuckling to myself. He is so the Golden Child. Not one peep about the route he was taking though I could tell Dad wanted to say something!

Wednesday must not be the usual elder crowd shopping day. Several handicap slots were open. Himself found a prime space, and we unloaded Weebles. At the store entrance, Dad went in to get Ma one of the shopping scooters, and Himself returned her walker to the car. Ma hopped on the scooter and zoomed around the store with us following in her wake stepping and fetching as she dictated. a 12 pack of "jinjah-ale", a 12 pack of root beer, 2 dozen eggs, 2 gallons of milk.

The deli seemed to be the parting of the ways. Dad took off one way, and Ma headed to the meat case. Himself decided to follow Ma and I as she blessed the meat. He really thought I exaggerated the task of picking out the meat. Ma would point, I would lean into the case to retrieve a package, and then hold it for her inspection, then put it back when it was rejected. I glanced over my shoulder and saw Himself watching our progress. As Ma was looking at another package of meat, I made the papal blessing behind her back. Himself started to laugh.

Ma finally selected a package of chuck which she was going to grind into her own hamburger until we found packages of hamburger for $1.79 per pound.

"Is that a good price?" she asked me.

Now, many of you know I don't do the grocery shopping, and when I do shop, I ascribe to the Little Princess Principal of Shopping. That is, if you want it, you buy it whether or not it's on sale or you have a coupon. Ma was waiting for an answer and of course, I have no idea whether it's a good price or not. Suddenly, I feel as if I'm on a game show. Wait! I need a lifeline. Himself gave me a thumbs up. Ma put the hamburger in her cart and had me replace the chuck. As we left the meat case, the meat manager was rearranging all the packages.

Ma's entourage seemed to join up at Produce. She sent Dad off to the other end of the store for something or other. Himself was ordered to pick out plum tomatoes. Not an easy task since most of the tomatoes looked rotted.

Himself rejoined us as Ma and I rounded on the carrots. She wanted big carrots as she doesn't like peeling and doesn't like peeling small ones. Course I'm thinking she doesn't do the peeling any more so what difference does it make. I pick a package. It's rejected. Another is offered. That one is axed too. Ma suddenly grabs the package that is the corner stone of the entire carrot display. I begin juggling 5 lb bags of carrots as they slide from the top. Fortunately, Himself lifted the entire 200 lb stack and Ma was able to get the bag she wanted. Whew!

Himself was sent off to look for raisins while Ma and I headed to the freezer case of ice cream. I have no clue where Dad was, probably taking a break. A local brand of ice cream was on sale.

"Get a gallon of vanilla."

I obliged. She looked at the freezer case trying to decide on another flavor.

"Pick one that you like."

I picked chocolate.

"No, I don't like that." I put the chocolate back. Condensation which had formed on the glass of the open door was now starting to freeze. "What other flavors are there?"

"Chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, Chocolate chip cookie dough, Fudge Swirl, Berry Swirl?" She wrinkled her nose. The tips of my fingers were turning black, and I feared gangrene from frostbite had set in.

"Get the spumoni"

"The spumoni is not on sale. It's $5.99."

"No, that's too expensive. What other flavors are there?"

"The same ones that were in the case a minute ago."

She finally selected the Berry Swirl.

Dad made an appearance about this time, and she sent him looking for nuts. I almost said he didn't have to look far was we were all right there.

We went up and down aisles, and she sent us scattering like ants hither and yon to bring back things to be presented to her highness.

"Where's the list?"

List? There was a list? We've spent an hour and a half running from one end of the store to the other and there was a list? At least no Little Debbie snack cakes gave their lives during this production.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Eaglet Spreads Her Wings

Today is a day of celebration. The Eldest applied to Bay Path College and arranged for a tour of the campus. We traveled an hour west of where we live to the small town of Longmeadow. The college she chose is a very small women's college. Founded at the turn of the last century, the buildings are charming nestled in a park like campus of green lawn and old trees. Inside, the buildings have undergone extensive renovation. Everything is comfortably modern and pristine. The labs have all state of the art equipment and computers in common space abound.

After the tour, the admissions officer interviewed her, and then offered her a seat in the Class of 2011 (est. 100 give or take members in the class). She also received the Dean's Scholarship, a 4 year partial tuition scholarship if she maintains a C average. She had scored a 4 out of 5 points on the AP English exam and this score waived her Freshman English course.

She was a little nervous during the interview, but also poised, and her answers were so grown up. I listened to her answers with a mixture of pride and sadness. In this interim year, she has grown, but I can still see my little kindergartener with her name on the school issued fish tag getting on the bus for the very first time.

Eaglet stands on the edge of the nest, ready to spread her wings and soar. Watch out for her!