Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky...

...Stormy Weather. Sung by seemingly everyone, but my favourites are Lena Horne, Billie Holiday and Etta James.

For the last few days we've been watching Tropical Storm Fay as it creeps closer and closer to our coast. Chatham County (the county right next door to us, and home to Savannah proper) is now under a Tropical Storm watch. Am I nervous? Maybe a little, although we are not under any watches in our county.

Truthfully, a tropical storm doesn't scare me as much as the idea of a hurricane. I've often told Ray that, while I know he has to stay and cover the storm for his listeners, the first evacuation order that comes will find me, the kids and the cats making a beeline up I-75 and to his parents house.

I actually did a live broadcast once as a tropical storm came ashore in Charleston a few years ago. The storm was quickly downgraded to a tropical depression, but it didn't make it any easier to stand outside of an oil change place and try to convince listeners they really needed to come on down and see me to win tickets to the Moody Blues. We did get some people to come by, but it may have been that they felt sorry for me. I was almost five months pregnant with TFYO at the time.

"Come on down folks! When was the last time you had your oil changed? Schools are closed and half the businesses in town have shut down, so now's your chance to be first in line to get an oil change for $19.95, and have a chance to win tickets to see the Moody Blues!"

There I was, just starting to show, holding an expensive piece of electrical equipment, while the rain just poured down all around us, and the wind tried to uproot the palm trees. At one point, I was underneath the awning that was over the front door. I walked inside, and moments later the thing collapsed from the amount of water that had pooled in it.

Thinking back on it, I suppose I should be nervous, but we're prepared. We've got all the batteries for our lanterns and radios and flashlights. We have our water supply (bottles, stored in the garage), plenty of canned foods, plus extra ice in the chest freezer. I've even taken in the patio furniture and moved the grill. The grill will be important, because if power goes out, I can use the side burners to cook things.

So blow, wind, blow!

Monday, August 18, 2008

When I was at home I was merry and frisky...

for those not in the know, that's the opening line to The Irish Washerwoman.

I just have to say... I F-ING ROCK!!!

Our Kenmore brand washing machine broke over the weekend, with a load of denim still in it, and believe me, the air was as blue as the fabric refusing to spin in that drum.

After much plugging, unplugging, pulling the timer thingy, pushing the timer thingy, and kicking the cabinet, I figured out that the lid latch was broken. It wasn't just broken, it had disintegrated, and if the lid doesn't latch, the washer won't drain or spin. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's the little plastic and metal thingy that the lid presses in to make the washer go. We have to have these apparently because people are too stupid to not know that they shouldn't put their hands (and other things) into a washer that's going through the spin cycle.

Ray and I thought about calling in a repairman from Sears, and then remembered the hell we went through trying to get our five year-old dryer repaired when it's door latch broke. Long story short, we ended up buying a new dryer because it was cheaper than paying some dude to fix the door. However, we are in no position to buy a new washing machine right now (much as I would like one!).

Half an hour and some serious Googling later ( do yourselves a favour, don't buy Kenmore appliances), I had myself convinced that I could fix this myself. All we needed to do was buy a new lid latch and plug it in. How hard could it be?

We called the local Sears appliance store and they said they had the part. Ray grabbed the girls and headed over, only to be told that they only had the part at the Savannah store, which closed at five p.m. As it was already four p.m., and they weren't open on Sunday, we decided we'd just have to make do until today.

Ray picked up the part and brought it home. It looked simple enough, even though it didn't come with instructions. All I had to due was unscrew the the bracket from the old latch, and put the new one in.

Not quite.

I also had to wrestle the front of the machine apart, which, funnily enough, has to be done from the back of the machine. The makers of said machine felt it necessary to point out my folly by placing this right behind the front panel.

Here are some more pictures for illustration.

Once I'd gotten the front panel wrestled apart, and the old lid latch unplugged, I noticed that the unit wasn't coming out, even though I'd unscrewed the bracket. The ground wire was bolted to the underside of the top of the machine, but I couldn't figure out how to unbolt the top of the machine, since it appeared to have been done from the underside, just like the ground wire. It took my husband (who is brilliant, but not great with tools) to figure out we had to remove the entire cabinet surrounding the wash drum.

I'd like to say that I managed to do all of this, and keep the washer in it's place in our laundry closet in our very narrow back hallway. I had to do it this way, since there wasn't room in the hallway for me and the washer at the same time.

After about an hour of wrangling, and tugging (and some cussing), I fixed our washing machine. I. Fixed. My. Washing. Machine.

This makes me almost as proud as when I made my first lattice top pie from scratch.

My washing machine is now humming merrily, spinning in contentment, as I type.

All of this has convinced me of two things:

1. I would have made a lousy pioneer.

2. I'm more mechanically inclined than maybe my Dad thought I was.

And that I f-ing rock!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Up in the morning and out to school...

from the song School Day by Chuck Berry.

I'm sorry that it's been a week since my last post. TFYO started kindergarten last week, and I was filling in on the night shift, to boot.

TFYO was very excited about getting to ride "the big girl bus". I was terrified. I'm sure I seemed like a helicopter parent, shouting instructions while she was getting on the bus, but I promised myself I'd let her go, and I would not meet her at the school.

As she was getting on the bus, I caught a glimpse of her clear backpack.* I realized she was missing something, something rather important, actually. She was missing her three-ring notebook which we were told at the school open house must absolutely, positively come with her every day. That binder holds her lunch money, her behaviour chart, notes from her teacher and any homework she's supposed to do or has already done.

In a panic, I fled back down our street from the bus stop, pushing the stroller at full speed. Baby J was less than impressed, and let me know by filling her diaper and spitting up all over herself. I must have literally scared the crap out of the poor kid.

So, even though I didn't want to, I ended up joining the horde of parents at the elementary school the first day. I had hoped to beat the bus, and make it to the classroom before TFYO. As I was speeding down the twisty two-lane highway, I noticed blue lights in my mirror. I began to pull to the side, convinced that I'd never make it to the school on time now, but he sped past me and pulled over the mom in the minivan filled with kids in front of me instead.

Now, normally I'm not the kind of person who rejoices in others misfortune. Not much, anyway. But I couldn't help smirking a little as I sped past her arguing with the deputy over how late her kids were going to be thanks to him. Hallelujah!

My joy was short-lived when I actually made it to the school, though. Traffic was already backing up at the entrance, and I could tell the parking lot was full. Wending my way through the throngs of tiny people carrying oversized backpacks, I managed to find a small strip of grass at the far end of the ball field that was not occupied by a pick-up truck, an SUV or a minivan.

Gathering up Baby J (who was howling with anger at being strapped in to the car seat), I huffed and puffed my way across the grounds until I could get in a door, where I was immediately told I had to go in the front and sign in.

Back out, and half way around the school, I pushed my way into the front entrance with seemingly every other parent in the county.

I was met with cries of "Sign in! We can't let you in unless you sign the sheet!" I scribbled something down on a line which may or may not have actually been my name. It was difficult to tell. Under reason for being there, I scrawled "forgetfulness", which was true.

Finally, notebook tucked under one arm, ten pound baby carrier containing thirteen pounds of baby straining the muscles of the other arm, I made it to TFYO's classroom. Her teacher looked puzzled until I displayed the notebook, unable to summon enough breath to speak. She smiled at me and asked if I wanted to say hi to my child before leaving. I nodded.

Was I met with a smile? Did I receive a delighted hug? No. All I got was...

"Tsk! Mooooo-ooom! What are you doing here?" And she rolled her eyes. My darling, sweet child, happy FYO...rolled her eyes at me.

Now that I'd managed to catch my breath, my answer was a bit tart.

"Well, I'm not here for my health. I'm bringing you the notebook that you forgot this morning."

"But Mommy, I'm too busy talking to Frankie to talk to you. Go home!"

"Who the heck is Frankie?"

"I'm Frankie!" said a little voice. It belonged to a cherub- faced boy with a mop of curls on his head. "I've got a loose tooth, see?"

Yeah, I could see. I could see that a loose tooth was much more important than mommy. TFYO gave me another look that plainly said "Beat it, ma. You're ruining me rep, here."

So, I slunk back to the car, trying not to sniffle over my first born baby, who no longer needed me. It was then that Baby J laughed out loud...and filled another diaper.

At least I know I'm still needed!

*County school rules state that all backpacks must be made of mesh or clear plastic. Same goes for pencil cases. Purses and makeup cases are subject to search.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A letter to my blog...

My Dearest Blog,

So sorry I've been out of touch. I know you feel neglected. Every time I sit in front of the computer to check my mail, pay bills or catch up on the news I think of you. I think of things I should be writing on you. But then...the baby cries, work calls, the in-laws show up, or it's dinner time, and I get called away; thinking of you, but never really connecting.

Alas, poor blog, so lonely in your corner of cyberspace. I can imagine you, sitting by yourself, whimpering in the dark, wondering why I don't come by more often. I bet you miss all of our little bloggy friends. Although, they've all gotten great makeovers, and you're still the plain little mousy thing you started off as last summer. I'm sure they don't hold it against you. I'm sure they still love you, they're just wondering why you don't say more.

Perhaps a little counseling is in order, to help us deal with this burgeoning case of blog agoraphobia. A little make-up might help us boost your confidence, and then maybe we can work on what you want to say when you meet other blogs.

I promise to work on my html skills a bit, and track down a copy of Photoshop so I can make you a pretty header. Perhaps we'll get lucky and a kind friend will help us make a template.

In the meantime, here are some roses to make up for my absence. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder...dearest, lonely little blog, I can only hope that's true.

Love always,