Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Age of Technology

I asked my oldest, Dugger, to vacuum the basement carpet. He went down to the basement to retrieve the vacuum from the laundry room. Doug was loading the washing machine as Dugger entered the laundry room. Dugger grabs the handle of the vacuum and begins to look it over. He turns to Doug and says, "Is this wireless?".

Doug not expecting any conversation from Dugger wasn't really listening but noticed him closely examining the vacuum says, "What?"

Dugger says,"Uh, never mind." and begins to unwind the cord. At this point it registers in Doug's brain what Dugger first said, Is it wireless? Doug couldn't contain his smirk and laughter and had to come up and relay the tale to me. I wish I could have seen it for myself.

I don't know how many of you follow the Zits comic strip but Doug swears that one of the authors Jerry Scott or Jim Borgman must have our house under surveillance. At the very least they must know Dugger. I think that this event is one for the comic strip.

In this age of technology where phones can fit in a shoe, thousands of songs, hundreds of pictures, numerous videos can fit in a pocket, and a computer fit in a backpack all with wireless access, why not a wireless vacuum cleaner. Personally this would be quite nice. That cord is pretty limiting some days.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Keeping Busy

Over our extended unplanned holiday I got a few things accomplished. I organized and filed our home paperwork (bill receipts and such). I ironed some clothes while watching the first season DVD of Commander and Chief. Between Doug and I we diminished the clothing in our ironing basket to a handful of items. I altered one dance costume. I cut and began sewing another one. I even began work on my photo album. The creative juices were starting to flow so maybe I can get a few pages finished each night this week.

Monday for some reason I was in a cooking mood. I made an apple cake, finishing off some left over ingredients from a Life Teen meal that I prepared for the church's youth group two Sundays ago. I also cooked a meatloaf for tonight's dinner. That turned out to be a good thing because I got home late from a committee meeting and it only took 30 minutes to get the remaining parts of the meal together.

Second Winter Break

Now days we don't call Christmas Break, Christmas Break. We call it Winter Break. We truly had a winter break last week. We went to school Monday and Tuesday and then had the rest of the week off because of 1)snow and blowing wind (Wed.) and 2) extremely cold temperatures (Thurs. & Fri.). Then yesterday was MKL day thus an official holiday. We were home for six days. My dad said he could not begin to imagine how cold it was here. Some highlights:

1.) So cold that we didn't even venture outside Thursday.

2.) So cold we used electric heater in two of the bedrooms so the furnace heat wouldn't come on as much.

3.) So cold that the van in the garage would not start on Friday when we did venture out. We had to restart it later.

4.) So cold that the sodas, waters, and Power Aids froze in the garage. As I found out when I was cooking Sunday, so did the potatoes. Evidently they froze and later thawed. YUK!

5.) So cold that every time I let the dog out back I'd set the stove timer so I wouldn't forget to let her back in.

6.) So cold that I had to buy new gloves because my ski ones go ruined last year. (Now this is sure to create warmer temperatures.)

7.) So cold I began wearing Doug's large cozy cologne scented hooded sweatshirts at home. He broke down and bought me my own. I'll have to add the cologne or maybe have him break it in for me.

8.) So cold that I bought T-Man ski pants for a zoo outing on Monday. Interesting that on some of the coldest days in recent history the zoo group is bonding and building relationships to sustain them in the heat of Costa Rica.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I woke to the message that there was no school today. The automated phone system rang at 6:20 in the morning waking me up. We were expecting some snow and cold weather, but I once again never thought that school would be canceled. I tried to go back to sleep but there is still that little kid in me that gets the adrenalin going when you here the words no school. Of course, that just irritates me.

I finally got up and drove Doug to work so he didn't have to defrost the car. On the way to work Doug mentioned that tomorrow it was suppose to be very cold -35 with the wind chill and wondered if the public school would close because of the safety of kids waiting for the bus. Dugger pointed out that skin freezes at -40. Last year they had a day where the buses wouldn't start because it was so cold. Now this weather is to last until Friday midnight. So what will the end of the week bring in regards to school?

I returned home bummed and out of sorts. I just hate having my routine messed up. I had my work day planned out and I'm in the midst of finishing report cards. Although the report card program is online and I can access it from anywhere, I had my mind set on managing my time at school to work on this.

I did decide early to not waste the day. I need all the time at home I can get (so why complain). I began organizing the filing so I could do the filing and gather all our tax return documents. I had planned on doing this on MLK Monday. I also contemplated working on our Texas trip photo album. I've cropped all the pictures and have put them in order. The creative spirit isn't moving me on this but I think once I start I'll get in the swing of things. The filing took a bit of time and then T-Man went to go work for a local man. T-Man does yard work and handyman stuff in the spring, summer, and fall and in the winter he often helps clean the ice and snow off the driveway, sidewalk, and walking paths. So I dropped him off and headed to the store.

The roads were not good in most areas so I it was a good call to cancel school. I picked up some sewing items in case school was canceled tomorrow then I could work on one of Mimi's competition costumes. I also stopped by the store and picked up a few food items for eating lunches at home. In case there was school tomorrow, I bought Dugger some folders to replace last semester's folders as he begins the new semester. Hopefully this will get him off to an organized start.

I feel good that I didn't waste the day reading a novel or sitting in front of the TV. I was tense from driving with the roads a mess. I very slowly slid into the intersection near the place where T-Man works. Luckily there were no other cars already at the intersection. The few coming up were driving slowly; as was I.

I began working on my report cards after dinner and the neighbor girl headed back home. I don't have as much time tomorrow as I do on Wednesday and I need them finished by Thursday night. I finished everything but my student comments when I received an e-mail about 8:00 pm from T-Man's chess coach saying their tournament was canceled because the other school district in town had canceled school for tomorrow. This is quite unusual because school closing decisions are not typically made until the early morning 5:00 to 6:00 am. We began checking the local radio website to see if there were other school closings, ours!

Sure enough the phone rang and Dugger's school was closed. Then it appeared on the website. Still wondering about my school and the other two kids. Then a few minutes later my cell phone rings and the home phone rings too. Our school is canceled too. I checked the radio website and the local catholic schools are now closed as well. So the whole neighborhood will be home.

At least now I have several things to keep me busy at home tomorrow and I can flit from thing to thing.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Let There Be Light

In September our chandelier in the computer/dining room blew out. We flipped the light switch heard a pop, saw a flash and then the light did not work again. We check the breaker and still no light. We had to call the electrician. I was hoping that the chandelier could still be used because I really like its old look. It turned out to be a problem with the light switch and not the chandelier. Once the switch was replaced the light worked again.

In talking with the electrician, Doug told him that we did not like the light output in the kitchen. It is too dim in there especially at night. In fact, when I sew or work on crafts I have to bring up a floor lamp from the basement to provide extra task lighting. Doug told the electrician that we were at a loss as to a good solution. Should we add track lighting or recessed lighting? He suggested getting new fixtures. The candelabra style lights do not give off much lighting and we could purchase other fixtures and use several 100W lights.

This is what we had in the cooking area. Notice on the right that there is a bulb missing. That socket burned out and never worked again. Our limited light was even more limited.

And this was in the dining part of the kitchen.
They actually look a little better in the picture than they really look. The glass panels are not adhered as you would stain glass and they tend to slip around when you try to clean them. Trying to clean the inside part of the glass lighting of the fan was very awkward.

Here comes the saga. In October Doug and I went to a local lighting store to look for some new fixtures. We looked around and didn't quite see what we wanted, although we weren't sure what we wanted. One of the salespersons offered to help us. Doug told her about our current lighting situation and I told her that we wanted an Arts and Craftsman or Art Deco kind of look.

She steered us towards some pages in a catalog. I found a fixture in particular that I liked for the kitchen and it would take up to three 100W lights. I then found a similar look for the dining area. The salesperson was concerned about the drop of this fixture and thought we should get our ceiling height before ordering.

We went home measured and called her. She was also calling the company that manufactures the light to see if they had shorter rod inserts. Well the company did not have shorter rods and our ceiling height was too low. The salesperson felt we would be unhappy with the fixture. Although I was glad for her attention to details this put us back at square one. Do we look for two new fixture or pick something else to complement the cooking area one that we already picked out?

There were several other choices in the catalog that were part of this particular collection. None of them looked like the second light fixture I picked out. From the catalog choices I didn't like the globe shape and I didn't like that the fixtures had a chandelier look to them. I wanted something different. The sales person offered to mail me some more pages of the catalog. Although she felt the globe shape of some of the other options we discussed would compliment our chosen fixture.

I waited several days and the additional pages arrived with the salesperson's notes. Basically the fixture images were the same as the catalog pages I already had. I was O.K. with two of the chandelier shapes. I still did not like the globes, but the salesperson said that they would go well with the other fixture. I was torn between the fixture with fewer lights and the one with more. It seemed to me that the larger one was too large. I again took her advice and agree to purchase the larger one. She helped with this when I gave her the table size and the room size. She also suggested that we have a dimmer installed that would adjust the lighting to what we would desire.

I waited for Doug to return from a conference, showed him the fixture, and then placed the final order. We were now in the first week of November. We got a call that one fixture was in stock from the manufacturer in CA but the other would have to be made and shipped to CA or here. This would take at least several weeks.

Finally, Friday, December 19, our ice day, the salesperson called to tell us the fixtures were in. We headed out in the afternoon to get the much awaited for fixtures. We loaded them up in the van and took the two large boxes to the basement, called the electrician to set a date for after the holidays, and went about our crazy schedule. It was a good thing we were busy and were getting ready to leave for Christmas. Otherwise it would have driven me crazy waiting till December 30th for the lights to be replaced.

We returned home and finally December 30th arrived. I went to school to do some work and Doug stayed to wait for the electrician. I came home excited to see the new fixtures go up. No electrician shows. Doug calls and leaves a message, still no electrician. Bummer. Later that evening the electrician calls with a reason for forgetting about us and will come out early the 31st.

I get up and plan to rush to the store to get bulbs for the fixtures before the electrician arrives. When the electrician said first thing in the morning he meant it. He sent two of his guys to put up our lights. The guys begin by taking down the fan light and discover a code problem. There is no box, the fixture was wired up through the beams. They have to have a box. They begin to work on this. I take off for the store.

I come back and they have hung the fixture and want to make sure the height is good. The electrician says that the height with the rod insert is the standard height from the ceiling to the table. I kind of wanted it higher but say O.K. The two men continue to work and as I watch I notice that the globes are the wrong color. They are amber and I wanted white frosted. I tell the guy to put up all but one globe because I'm going to take it and have the lighting place order the correct color. I'm watching them finish with the fixture and I can't figure out why I don't like the fixture. I'm really not liking it and am thinking how did I go so wrong. I can't live with this. So I start looking at the rods and shape checking them off in my mind. They match what I picked out and then it hits me. The metal is the wrong color too! I tell the guys take it down. Of course they heard me mumbling earlier. The one on the ladder says your kidding. I said nope it the wrong color. It should be brushed nickle and I don't want that.

They grumblingly take it down and pack it back in the box. I call the salesperson and tell her we are bringing this one back and she needs to order the correct color. What do we do now that the original light fixture is down and the new is not staying? This!

The guys did put up the cooking area fixture before they left. One out of two, not good. It is beautiful and my favorite of the two we bought.

Here is the ending. On Wednesday, the 7th we get the call that our fixture is in. We rush to pick it up right before closing. Lucking Dugger, who made it home from school before us, called to tell us they had just called and were closing at 5:00. Coincidentally, our electrician's van was parked in the lighting lot. Doug went in and asked for the electrician who was checking out in the back. I got the light and we scheduled the electrician for Friday. Yea!!

He remembered, arrived, and fixed us up. I did have this fixture higher than the last attempt. I really didn't not care for the standard drop. Here is the newest and last fixture. Sometimes when I look at it I see a wagon wheel look and other times I see the skyscraper Empire State Building/Sears Tower look. Hopefully I'll see more of the skyscraper look than wheel. The lighting and aesthetics are definitely better.

Somebody Missed Us

When we returned home from our Christmas visit later in the morning we picked up our dog from the kennel. She is always excited and happy to see us, then later in the day she seems a bit down. The vet tells us that it is not unusual for pets to be out of sorts or depressed the first day or two back home.

Amber is not allowed to sleep on the beds. She actually sleeps under Doug and my bed. When she was a baby she got into the torn lining on the underside the box spring and would sleep hanging in the lining. As she grew she couldn't fit back in the lining so she sleeps in the same spot on the floor. She also has a doggy pillow in our room and uses that when the floor is cold.

T-Man likes to call her to his bed and have her give him kisses. He tends to try and grab her when she gets in his bed and she doesn't really care for that so she won't stay in the bed. Amber just jumps up on the bed, runs across T-Man, and jumps off the bed, with T-Man trying to get her to stay.

When T-Man went to bed that first night home Amber jumped into bed with him. I thought oh sure this won't last. I sorted the covers for T-man and covered him up. Amber stayed. I was able to snap a picture before Amber took off.