sailors take warning

1 09 2009

rdskyNo special filters, no photoshop tweeks on this photo…it is the real deal.  But I wasn’t listening to what it was putting down.  Billy, being the sailor he was, always quipped, “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.  Red sky at night, sailors delight” when he saw a sky like this.  So I should have known I was in for some rough seas for the next little while.

Murphy’s law – anything that can possibly go wrong, does –  is striking all around me like I’m some kind of human lightening rod.  I keep hoping that it is just a three pattern this time around. I mentioned these events in the last post but here they are in all their glory (or gory?).

It started back with the two days before Best Boy’s departure for LA when I found that my 15 year old Maytag was leaking like a sieve from the bottom of the machine.  Got it unhooked and dragged out to the deck where I could at least take the front panel off and have a look see.  Called a repair man who charged $240 some odd dollars to replace the waterpump that was spewing yuck every which way but where it was supposed to be going.  He wanted to charge me an extra $50 to hook it back up.  I cocked my head and asked, “By hooking it back up, do you mean re-attaching the two water hoses on the back and plugging it in…the three things I undid to get it out here?  Ummm – no thanks.  I think I can handle that for $50!”

By then, he had already vibbed me all his bad juju.  Before getting the machine put back in the little nook where it lives, I had run to the hardware store to get a new drain hose since the ancient one was starting to crack and was permenantly kinked. The repairman said that it would cost me $60 from the company and 10 days wait, plus another $65 housecall, not including labor- or $16 from Ace Hardware down on the corner doing it myself.  I knew how to attach it and where.  I am college educated after all.

The Dr. and I  got it back in position and reattached said hoses…cranked her up for test run.  Guess where the water started pouring out?  No, not the part fixed by Mr. Maytag Repairman or me for that matter…but from the spigot where it attached to the wall.

Using special vocabulary, I dragged the machine back out into the kitchen, got the silcock off the water pipe (but had to turn the water off at the main because the valves at the point I should have turned it off – were so stuck I thought I’d have to re-plumb the entire house to get them working).  Smart cookie that I am on this second trip to Ace, I went ahead and grabbed new water input hoses for the machine too – one blue, one red.  I was sure the ones that worked fine 10 minutes ago were going to blow.

After another bunch of hours fussing with this and that, we wrestled it back in place, got all the valves turned back on and we had a washing machine.  Except now it wouldn’t drain.  More special words, dragging it back out, cutting here, reattaching there, pushing and shoving and all sorts of fun…we got it to work.

Sort of…but enough to get the loads done I needed to get done.  I don’t trust it enough to just throw in a load and run off to do something else.  Maybe that will come with time.  I know what the real fix is – but I’ve run out of time and energy and it will just have to wait.  I can make it work by crawling up on top of the machine when it needs to drain, wedge my head under the cupboards that hang directly above it, reach down the back – jacking up my shoulder and twisting my neck to wiggle things here and pull things there and get it to drain just fine.  That ain’t so bad…after all, it’s just me and the Dr. now and working from home (read: sweats and t-shirts) means we only do about two loads of laundry a week.  Just don’t tell Swelling Belly Shop Girl that she has to get on top of the machine to make it drain…she does LOTS more laundry than we do each week.

Next was the 18 year old car with 166,000 miles on it that needed an oil change, new brakes, a new battery and some belts…$400 later (and a week plus at the shop) I drove it home yesterday late in the afternoon listening to all kinds of strange noises I’d never heard before only to park it in front of the house to find there is massive leakage of mystery fluid dripping from under the hood.  The good thing is that I didn’t have the right credit card with me when I picked it up.  I’ll be trying to drive the car back to the garage a few miles away and I’m gonna take a mechanic for a drive.

I know this just doesn’t happen to old stuff.  This happens to brand new things that cost lots more money.  Whatever happened to the feeling that you could trust people to do a thorough job…that your money was going to be well spent when you didn’t have the tools or know how to fix things yourself?  I want a re-do.  I want to go back to the point in 6th grade when we had to decide if we would enter the world of college prep or tech school.  Tech school, baby!  I would have saved myself what my college education cost in repair bills alone.

As soon as I get it back from the mechanic AGAIN, it is going to have the windshield painted with a special message: $1800 OBO.  Volvo clunker anyone?


27 08 2009

la1This week between the end of August and Labor Day seems to be a turning point in my life year after year.   It was particularly tough marking time between Billy’s death and the actual funeral Labor Day weekend a year ago.  But for decades prior to that, it was back to school time.

Time for routine – and it was a welcomed change after unstructured hazy hot days of summer especially in Spain when the heat really seems to crank and brush fires leave that acrid smell hanging in the air.  The first weeks back in books was welcomed as life settled into a certain rhythm were I could count on a few uninterrupted hours of quiet.

This morning there is a certain crisp chill in the air reminding me of clock watching, hurry up breakfasts, a mad dash for backpacks and the rumble of yellow buses pausing at pre-determined spots along streets.

Of all the seasons, I seem to be most productive in the Fall.  Almost a decade past the decades spent tied to the academic calendar, I still feel my internal motors revving up.  Today, after a two day adventure in Maytag repairman school, I have things to do for sure.  There is laundry (with my fingers crossed that the $250 repair plus another $50 invested in things that broke after he left – will hold).  There is a suitcase to pack.  A plane to catch tomorrow morning.

Best Boy called me on Monday mid-day to say that the trip planned for LA (which I knew nothing about) was going to be a month long rather than a week.  We all know this is the trip.  He may come back for a visit after a month but this is the “move”.  It’s been planned for and talked about for over a year but made all the sweeter knowing his Mimi is THERE and not here.

It wasn’t until a news story remembering the events of Hurricane Katrina during these days in 2005 that I realized that Shop Girl and I were settling her in LA four years ago right now.  Without a TV or a radio during those days and feeling cut off from world events yet thrown into the world of Ikea and unpacking – we “missed” Katrina.  I didn’t see images or get brought up to speed until weeks later.

Four years later – lots of water under lots of bridges – lots of changes.  I will settle into a new quiet around here -at least until The Awaited One decides to make his entrance in 6 weeks or so.  I embrace this new chapter of quiet and chaos in juxtaposition.  The Dr. and I can always escape to the land where a stop at the corner can get you Chinese food and Donuts at once.  You gotta love the City of Angels!