Monday, October 31, 2011

Power Outage Fun Time.

So the power went out for two days. This event, while not unusual for this time of year, served to highlight that fact that we were totally unprepared for winter to a ridicules level. The power went out at about 5am Saturday morning, meaning that it got every very cold inside, rather quickly. Upon waking up I also realized that there was 7 inches of snow outside, and it was still snowing. 

Now the day before, we had just learned that the storm was due to show up on Saturday night, instead of Monday like they had been thinking. So we basically constructed an entire furnace shed in one afternoon, having spent all morning feverishly buying materials at the Lowes. It was very cold outside, as the temp was dropping during the day, and once we got the framing up, it started to snow. Picture the two of us, outside, frantically cutting sheathing in the pouring snow, cursing at each other and dropping screws on the ground because ours hands were too cold to hold them anymore. We hadn't eaten anything since early morning, and it was 5pm. 

We quickly realized that we were not going to get the roof on with out help, and had to make an emergency call to my Uncle Dale, who is the go to person now, since my dad is dead. He told us he could come out, but that it would be after dark, since he had a few things to do himself before the snow got too bad. Long story short, he showed up, and I told him we had made some bad decisions, but that it was okay because he was here now. He laughed. I also told him that just like every other kid in his life, I only called him when I needed something. Well in the dark and the cold and the snow the three of us (did I mention my husband still has a broken rib?) Wrestled the roof in place and tacked it down. We covered the roof in plastic sheeting as a temp cover* A congratulatory home brewed beer was had, and my uncle departed, and we ate crappy oven baked pizza and went to bed, tired but happy. That shed was up god damned it. 

At around five am, I woke up to a pitch black mobile home, and the sound of my battery back up for my PC beeping incessantly. Usually when this happens the power will kick back on in a few minutes. I lay there listening to the beeping, waiting, and waiting. Nothing happened. 

We got up sometime the next morning, brewed some tea, and began to talk about ways to heat the trailer. I soon discovered that my Dad's back up generator was a 300 pound behemoth that neither of us could move out of shed or, indeed anywhere near the trailer and also hadn't been serviced in about two years. That's okay, we said, We'll just go over to the newer trailer (my Dad's trailer when he was alive, where the newly built furnace shed is residing) and use the back up propane heater. We came to conclusion, after about a good twenty minutes of fighting the controls, that A: we had no idea how this thing worked, and that B: it was out of fuel. Two Propane tanks sit out back and feed it, and they were both empty. 

Okay then. Our only option now, was to buy a generator to run the blowers on the wood stove.** This involved going to town, which meant that we first needed to shovel the driveway. Which we did. The snow was heavy and wet and my back and arm still hurt from heaving shovel full after shovel full over the bank. Finally we make it to town, and purchased a 200$ motherfucking generator. We bring it back, only to discover that we don't have any gas for it. Scott goes into town AGAIN while I built a platform for said generator from an old pallet and a few boards. He gets back, and we fire it up. 

We manage to fight the temperature inside back up to a balmy 60 degrees. However this involves getting up in the middle of the night at 3am to refill the wood stove and the generator. This meant that I spent the better part of an hour laying awake in bed, listing to the generator, terrified that it would die prematurely and the heat from the stove would melt the extension cord, which could totally really happen. I'm not kidding. 

Needless to say I didn't get a whole lot of sleep that night. 

The next day was grim repetition of the first, keeping the generator going, and trying to get whatever chores we could get done accomplished. Finally the power came back on at exactly 4pm. YES! I could take a SHOWER. I had Internet! I could microwave shit! I could wash my clothes! 

Except now the fuel oil furnace isn't working, and we have to go to town AGAIN to blow money on a new magic gray box that will hopefully make it work. 

This, right here people, is life in country. This negates any idea I had every had about going out this Halloween either. Then my friend sent me a text Saturday night, unaware of my struggles to survive, about how she didn't feel like going to any parties that night, and I wanted to strangle her. I guess it was just cosmic payback for the time I called her because my pet rat was dead and she told me her sister had just died. 

I'm still sorry about that one, Heather. 

* Note: if you think you would like to live in the country and buy a place to build a house on and homestead, the second thing you should do is go out and buy a roll of thick plastic from the store. It is not a tarp, it will not last all winter, but by god when you need temporary cover for something RIGHT NOW this stuff in in-fucking-valuable.

** Now to explain, our furnace shed is located behind our mobile home, contains our wood stove and is fully functional. My Dad's trailer needed a furnace shed to house his wood stove, as the original shed he had built needed to be torn down. That is what we were building on Friday so we can move into his place, since his is the newer mobile home.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why are we terrible at going to the store?

I am a firm believer in combining trips. However I am also terrible at anticipating what we are going to need. I can easily put on the list the things we are out of completely, but I can never realize that if have half a brick of cheese that we are going to need more before next week. Or we do fine on food, but don't check anything but the fridge and end up using paper towels instead of toilet paper for two days. 

And it's not just me. Scott does this too. I can't figure out why two intelligent people have such a problem with this concept. 

Now I would like to keep a well stocked pantry so that we have extra of everything, but I can't do that in a mobile home because I live in a shoe box. I like to buy when it's on sale, and then live off my stash of pasta and canned tomatoes for all time. Unfortunately when you travel a lot you tend not to buy perishable things. This leads to getting home and opening the fridge to revel that you only own moldy cheese and condiments. And frozen peas. And sadness.

We also got a magnetic white board for the fridge so we could make a list of foods that we needed as we went though them. This, in retrospect, was a terrible idea. The problem develops because that system eliminates actually looking around the kitchen to see what were out of. In addition to the above organizational issues, I firmly believe I enter some sort of weird trance when I enter the grocery store. This trance makes me unable to remember any item that is not on my list. I call this problem 'store amnesia.' It's like I get terribly distracted by my desire to get the foods as fast as possible. 

I dislike shopping for foodstuffs, unless the store is really empty. It's like a circus where I have to dodge screaming children, fat isle blockers, the elderly, and the group of like five women that have to take up the whole alley and have to stop every three feet because those cake toppers are just to goddamn darling. I hate all of you. I also tend not to buy a lot without the husband there because I never want to get a cart. They slow me down and I get stuck in shitty cart traffic jams. Plus I have to take them out to the car and hunt down the cart return area while people barrel past me while looking for the best parking spot ever. I just want to get my fucking noodles and get the hell out. 

I think what we need is an app where if I mount a web cam with a flash in the fridge, It will take pictures of what I have and then send them to my phone while I'm in the store trying to decide if I need more soy sauce. Or maybe leave one spouse at home so that the shopping half can call home and start rattling off items. “Do we need more mayo? What about butter? Do you still eat this brand?”

I really don't have a good idea of how to fix the problem, which is why none of my sandwiches had mayo on them for the past week and haven't had any tissues in my office now for about three months. 

But it's okay, because not buying enough food is one hell of a weight loss plan, because hunger is the breakfast of champions. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I Hate Strange Showers

I feel the need to write this post because when I was trying to explain this to my coworker he was giving me this look like I was crazy. I hate using a strange shower, because I never know how the goddamn thing is supposed to work. Okay, okay I know that standard set up, two knobs, pull tab, and you’re in business. Except where the hell did all these weird ass shower designs come from? Like those handles that you have to turn sideways. The more you turn them, the more water pressure you get, but it’s actually a cruel trap, because the more you turn them the colder the water gets. So in effect you have two choices, you can have nice warm/hot water, or you can have water pressure, but you can’t have both because life is unfair and painful cold. 
The worst is what I call the mystery shower, or at least that’s what I call it in my own mind where no one can judge me for it. Shut up. Anyway the mystery show is as follows: any shower with an unfamiliar set up of knobs and levers.

I swear to Buddha, I am not making this up, although in my defense I was very sleep deprived. I was just happy to have reached the point in the day where I could take a goddamn shower. I get naked, obtain a hotel towel that smells like bleach and go switch on the shower. This diabolical fiend was a single knob with no instructions what so ever. Well I had a shower like this when I was a kid, I got this no problem. I pull the knob out and water comes pouring out into the tub. It takes me awhile to get the water hot, because this hotel’s water heaters seem to be taking fucking forever to make any progress and when you’re not entirely sure which is hot and which is cold, well it’s an adventure. I have also noticed a lot of showers at hotels are actually plumbed in backward for reasons I don’t understand but probably have to do with the fact they hired the plumber off craigslist.

Finally! Hot fucking water! Holy crap! I go to turn the shower on and realize there is no other lever. No button. Nothing. How in the fuck do you turn the shower on? 
I spend a few moments watching my hard won hot water pouring down the drain, and then another few wishing Scott would get in so I could ask him. I should also point out that having to ask him how the shower works is not abnormal in our marriage and I think he’s used to it by now. Any who, here I am starting at something that shouldn’t be happening if there was a fair and righteous god, and I get pissed. God damn I went to motherfucking college and got good grades and by god no cheap ass motel shower is going to stop me from being clean. I seize the knob and give it great yank to the left and to my surprise it pulls out even more and the shower comes on. VICTORY! 
I just realized that I probably should not be telling the whole Internet that I have trouble with unfamiliar shower designs, but I’m rather curious. Does anyone else have this problem? I am just crazy. Crazier than normal, I mean. I dunno. God damned showers are stealing my god damn dignity. Fuckers.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Driveway Is A Venus Fly Trap

I got back from work at 5:35 am this morning. I feel like I've been run over by a truck. A big truck. Speaking of trucks guess what happened when I ordered gravel? 

If you guessed the gravel truck got stuck in my driveway, you'd be right. Like really stuck. This was unexpected as it was like 4:30 in the afternoon. The driver got out, and we stood looking at his truck. It had slid off the road, and the right rear wheel was just chilling in the ditch. We tried shoveling gravel under the tires to give him some traction. 

It didn't work. 

 It was getting dark. I offered him some shots, he declined. I kept apologizing for my road that had just eaten one of his trucks. I really had no idea what to talk about in that situation. The weather? 

He called someone, who showed up with a skid steer and a flat bed truck. He made the mistake of pulling in behind the gravel truck, which you should never ever do. Ever. We almost didn't get the flat bed back out again. Then the skid steer got stuck. 

This is sadness, also expensive.
 At that point they told me that would have to come back in the morning with a bulldozer. They climbed into the only vehicle that was not stuck in the mud and drove off. I went inside, intending to have a god damned drink, only to discover that the dog had eaten a shit ton of fresh made-from-scratch- cookies off the table in my absence. 

It was not a good day. 

Of course Scott was in DC though all of this so he missed almost all of the fun, arriving home just in time to see them victoriously dump what was left of the gravel in the lawn. He wasn't here when the fuel oil tank started to go when they were filling it either. I'm beginning to get tired of apologizing to various delivery people for things. 

I had asked the man with a bulldozer what to do about the driveway and he told me that we had to scrape it back down to the clay, add shale, and then add gravel. In a way it's fortune that this happened, because we were both unsure as to how to really go about fixing the damn thing. I was working under the assumption that the previous owners had done that step, but he assured us that, no they hadn't. The road was a lie. 

So all in all, not one of the better days of my life.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I am not good at things.

Life keeps demanding I do things. Things I am terrible at.

I have to order gravel today. Actually I tried to order gravel yesterday, but the gravel guy wasn't in. So he is supposed to give me a call back. I hate that. Anyway, I don't know how to order gravel. The lady in the store at the to her end of the line was- god save her- trying to help me. This is pretty much how our conversation went. I am not good with these things.

NANCY: “How much do you need?”
ME: “Um, I dunno. Like, a big truck, a really big truck.”

NANCY: “Okay, well the truck holds six tons. Is that how much you need?”

ME: “ Um, sure. How much does six tons of gravel cost?”

NANCY: “That depends on the type, what type do you need?”

ME: “I need to pour a small cement slab, and then use the left overs on the driveway.”

NANCY: “I don't know what kind that is, you'll have to talk to our gravel guy.”

First of all, I didn't know that builder supply places had gravel guy. Second, I am utterly incompetent when it comes to measuring distance or quantity by eye. Quantity is the worst though. I have no idea how men, who could have never even seen six tons of gravel before in their lives, can tell exactly how much they need to do a driveway. How in the hell do they do that?

These are the questions that keep me up at night people.

I like to be thought of as competent, but I'm not sure how people go about doing that. The little things always seem to trip me up. Like the time the ATM ate my debit card because I put it in while the advertisements between customers were still up. You know, when the guy in front of you leaves and then you step forward but the ATM is thinking or some shit so it runs ads for the bank you are already banking with because that makes sense. So I ram my card into the machine and it eats it. Apparently, even though the ATM is sitting idle, looking innocent, you are not supposed to use it until the little welcome screen pops up. How the fuck was I supposed to know that? It's not like there are warning labels on those things.

Is there a class I missed at college for this shit?

I feel like there was a class, or a pamphlet I missed out on that explained all this, like how to order gravel, and how not to confuse a ATM, or how to make small talk with delivery people so you don't feel awkward about the transaction, or how to make out a check while you are standing in your yard with out looking like an idiot.