wordsmith

… and it grows …

While the young’uns worked on finishing the desk, Widow Dressing took her bottle of Howard’s Feed-n-Wax (she didn’t know Howard, and didn’t want to). Because of Dry Climate and Thirsty Wood, she and D thoroughly rubbed a good coating of it into the five bookcase shelves and all the outside and drawers of her granddad’s pie safe (this is extremely time consuming, in case you don’t know, and takes a lot of rubbing) as well as the chest of drawers and the small walnut whatnot cabinet. It would be much better for them than sitting around drying out in the 25% humidididity in her house, although she wasn’t much looking forward to the twice or so a year they’d need it because torn rotator cuff. Hers, not the wood’s.

So left-handed, carefully, she rubbed and rubbed and rubbed, then found a big pile of three-layered paper/plastic/paper in the Moving Mess to put under them to protect rug and hard floor. The shelves could sit there a few days, soaking stuff in, before she rubbed and polished to clear off the greasiness and make sure the books wouldn’t get stained. The pie safe could soak as long as it wanted to.

She intended to rub down the chest and the big Craftsman bookshelf, too, but what with the aforementioned &#)@&5^@!!!!d mess, she flat ran out of time and she was NOT staying up ‘til midnight–not after she’d dragged her groggy, sorry ass out of bed at 7 so she could Get Things Done.

The Widow decided she was going to eat some Lindt balls, and put the newly purchased ice packs on her shoulder, watch junk TV (wait for me, René!), and knit. By damn, she needed to knit.

Then Widow Dressing realized she’d not written anything amusing in weeks. She was still furious, but apologized anyway.

P.S. You’d be amazed how much the pie safe has already absorbed.

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And the expected tech frustration does not disappoint

Desk after D’s amazing kids put it together for me. There’s going to be a problem re mouse placemnt, but I can figure something out.

“You cannot hear me swear,” growled the Widow Dressing. “You cannot see the rage in my eyes. You cannot see the frustration, the fury, the anger, the lividity, the outrage, the wrath, the spleen, choler, or birse. Keep it that way if you know what’s good for you.”

The outraged woman had spent the afternoon setting up her computer on the new desk (new desk! She’d been so excited! Now it was just anticlimactic). Patiently, she’d threaded cables and cords through a cable hole in the top, so the wires would (but they didn’t) go nicely behind everything and not look like a rat’s nest.

She’d already compromised on the Crap Mouse because the Good Mouse, the ADA mouse for the crippled, was in its box but not in the box with the rest of the Essential Tech Stuff (it had been a few days ago). She’d already unplugged the extra USB port bank because its transformer wouldn’t fit. That was compromise enough.

She’d even moved the happy light to the desk (oh, the irony) and tried the laptop on the desk (it worked fine; at least it didn’t yap annoying shite at her about there being no networks. She could see 10 without even trying).

But then, then she couldn’t find the brand-new, still-in-the-box printer/scanner she’d been SO looking forward to trying out. NOWHERE. Every bloody box in the house was either a white banker box or a brown moving box. There was not ONE box ANYWHERE with colorful printing on the outside. Nor was it in the garage or the car. No other places existed where it could be.

Ever hopeful (gods only know why), she turned on the tower. Voila! The new monitor lit up and gave her the thumbs up. Thrilled, she clicked the browser button. And nothing. “Sorry, we can’t find that page!” for page after page after page.

Clicking the connection icon at the bottom, she waited for the list of available networks to appear. NOT ONE. NOT ONE STINKING ONE. NOT ONE. Stupid bloody Win10 just kept saying “sorry, sorry, you have to have an ethernet cable to connect. Maybe yours is broken?”

“Up YOURS before I break YOU,” she snarled, wishing she could give Micro$oft a kick inna fork. Hard. With a shovel. There was no reason whatsoever she could find that none of the 15 or 20 nearby networks should not show up.

Eventually, after trying everything she knew and getting nothing but M$ B$, she said some really, really, really bad words and walked away. She suspected it was the crappy connection she was getting 60% of but paying 100% for, and the house seller had flat-out lied when she said she had DSL, too, and her son had no trouble streaming back there. The only thing streaming at this point were tears of utter, complete, out-of-control rage.

Except that the wi-fi laptop worked fine. So what the ever-loving hell was going on?!

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Obstacles and intimidation

Widder Dressing is too tired to write any kind of story tonight.

She made her mom’s famous cranberry salad for tomorrow, then spent the rest of the day inventorying parts that came out of the two huge desk boxes. Quite a few parts are missing, including (if you can believe this!) the top of the second leg of the L. Calls Will Be Made.

However, there is no way on the Disc or anywhere else I can put this together by myself. So now begins the distressing and frustrating task of trying to find someone who can and will, and hopefully not charge me $10,000. I didn’t even have the energy to inventory the hardware (but I was cutting and hauling cardboard and styrofoam as I went, too).

Lots and lots and lots of intimidating little bits and pieces.
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Wasted motion: I’m good at that

Widow Dressing rubbed her hands together in satisfaction: Hard, brutal work, but she’d done it, and she thought (hoped) (rattled) (sizzled) (prayed) (lit candles) (rinked) that it would work better than the first attempt. And even though it was way late at night and she shouldn’t have been doing it just before bed, the exertion had felt good. She just needed to be sure to leave room for the exercise equipment that also needed to go in there somewhere… although she could put it in the two-carriage carriage house except that it would be 120° (49 C) or higher in there in the summer. Pro’lly not such a good idea, that.

She’d also end-capped her two outdoor spigots and put foam insulators over them to prevent freezing. So all in all, despite the confounded interruptions and essential errands, she felt good about her results. Uh-oh! She suddenly recalled she’d left the blueberries, hardening off to go dormant and stay outside over winter, on the porch, and decided she’d better bring them in.

It was about time she did feel good about getting something visible done. She decided to eat a chocolate peanut-butter holiday tree before going to bed, even though she knew it was stupid, because Celebrate. “Nuggan can just go stuff himself in a raggedy cut tin can and throw himself in a metal crusher,” she said. Out loud. With defiance.

Craft room moved to former office (the shelves are leaning forward on purpose, until I can get hold of a piece of insulation to stick in that stupid wall-mounted pet door).
New office, sans closet doors and with filing cabinet in closet (and shredder). There’s plenty of room, I think, to mount mis-matched shelves for paper on the right side of the closet.
Bookshelf moved into office, easily movable when needed for desk (in box on floor) so the desk can fit into the corner (it’s a big L-shaped thing).



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Early days in the marathon

Widow Dressing snarled at the little boy who came to the door selling cookies.

“Don’t want no cookies. Go away.” She slammed the door in his face. She didn’t even care that she could hear him wailing outside. She’d had more than she could take in the last couple of weeks, and she wasn’t going to take any more. Not off anybody. Or anything.

She had gotten her yarn boxes unpacked, and the boxes cut up into her now completely full to almost overflowing recycle bin at the curb. Squeezing in two bags of trash had even been possible in the bin the bloody damned city didn’t pick up last week. What the hells did those so-called Sanitifying Guild people do all week, anyway? Were they blind and stupid, or just one or the other?

It was nice to have a little space in the room and have her yarn back in its Place in the World, she had to admit that.

But her shoulder ached and burned (she was NOT going to try the water disaster like that) and she should not have tried to set up the new iconoprojector her son had sent her. It refused absolutely and utterly to connect to whatever her “network” was, even though she was not riding her first stinkin’ biting Shetland pony and was bloody damned positive she’d entered all the ridiculous information correctly.

But she told the “help people” (hollow laughter) to call her anyway… only to find out that her audioimp device had freaking died, and it never did that. So she said, in much saltier language, “Well, screw it,” and stopped.

It wouldn’t even let her connect to her own darned account with the people who made the bloody iconoprojector.

This did not make her feel one bit happier. She still was furious that she couldn’t get it set up, because she’d really been looking forward to doing something relaxing so she could knit tonight.

That was not going to happen.

Widow Dressing glared at all the boxes that surrounded her. She snapped at the empty kitchen cabinets–how was she supposed to figure out how to put anything in those, and where? (However, she had found her little Japanese saws, and mangled hells out of the top half of the nonfunctioning retainer clip, completely removing it, although it made no difference.)

Her shoulder hurt so badly she wanted to cry. Her feet hurt. Her back hurt. And despite having demolished a good 16 or so boxes today, she was deeply, deeply annoyed.

Well, she’d learned never to go to Cost-mo on a Sunday. And that fake trees were as dear as a university education no matter where you found them. And that her Santa Clara pottery had made it safely through the trip. She still needed to cut up a two-pound brick of Cost-mo cheese and put most of it in the freezer, but even if she left it sit ‘til morning the world wouldn’t end.

She was a seriously, seriously unhappy camper, largely thanks to the ghastly uncooperative iconoprojector, because those stinking things NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER EVER EVER worked for her. They refused to hook up, they told her things were wrong when they were not, they LIED, they were just horrible and she hated them all.

But her craft room was starting, slowly, to take shape. This would change radically in the next few days, but we’ll save that for later.

Floor space!
Stash to shop from!
She’d even found her fountain pen case and all had made the journey safely (though she hadn’t yet taken out all the bubble wrap to be sure).

She realized she actually didn’t have anything but the #(%&^%$##! iconoprojector to be pissed off about. Fortunately, she’d found and was wrapped up in her old, beat up, way-too-big but toasty cashmere sweater, so at least she was comfortable. She could find something to watch on her tiny screen, however unsatisfying it was.

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Way out of order; but so am I

Dec. 16, 2021. What a day!

This a.m. I girded my loins and did some Adulting. I called the printer people to ask where the blazes the USB port was on this thing so I could get a physical connection to the computer and maybe get more than 1.5 pages printed before the wi-fi disconnected. The woman was kind not to laugh at me as she spelled (with a very difficult accent) what I needed to get.

At the same time, my sternly worded and repeated “that is not acceptable” emails must have made an impression on CenturyLink’s tech support, because they offered me a speed higher than I initially wanted at the same price I’m paying, which will be $15 lower when I return their modem and don’t have to rent it (I own mine).

I then went to Best Buy and got the last one cable they had. Then went to Electric Playhouse with the wonderful Ortiz women for the December birthday girls’ party. They have graciously adopted this gringa into their family and I’m terribly grateful! (D gets a bye ‘cause she was married to one of the late brothers; there were four of them and five girls. I’m just the gringa friend upstart, although they all had at least one of my parents for teachers.) Electric Playhouse is awesome–the grands would love it and even we creaky oldsters had a blast.

I had enough time after to go by the ACE Hardware store with a list half a page long of things I needed, things I wasn’t sure how best to do (or fix what I’d already done wrong), and just questions for how they’d do A if it happened to them. (Dang; wasn’t on the list, but I should’ve gotten some spackle, because I’m bound to mess up the drywall one of these days and need to repair it. Oh, well; next time.)

I love those people.

I came home with workable (even for me, I think) answers, some nuts and bolts, drawer pulls, a couple of toggle bolts, and a new, heavy duty vise grip, which I think will be helpful because arthritic hands just don’t have the squeeze strength they used to with pliers. The youngster who led me around the store (and even wrote down the size drill bit to use on the package with the toggle bolts, because I told him I’d be sure to forget) and pulled things out for me was an absolute sweetie.

However, I have to admit that while I did bring my caulk gun with me (it was an expensive pro model; in Washington, you have to do a lot of caulking and the cheap ones fall apart)… I was truly hoping never to have to use it again. And while he couldn’t help me with the magnet catches I’d like to install on the tiny Cheap Chinese Crap (CCC) storage towers in the baths, I did have a potentially brilliant idea: I might be able to cut a recess into the movable shelf and epoxy in one of those tiny rare-earth magnets I’ve been saving from Sonicare toothbrushes (for years), then put a tiny piece of steel on the other side—not close enough to touch, because I’d never get them apart, but close enough for the magnet to keep it gently shut. I may have to get a 1/4” or smaller chisel or similar to pull that off (why didn’t I keep my carving tools? Oh, yeah, shaky hands). It may have to go on the Son List, given the shaky hand issue.

Sweet Kid couldn’t help with the dog door in the wall problem, though (how to seal the outside so no cold air gets in). He said I’d done the right thing with the insulation, but since they don’t really get into construction supplies he wasn’t sure what to advise, especially since it will need to be something that will support stucco and I think they put chicken wire or something under that. I’ll investigate a little more. Or try CallFidel.com (ha ha–that’s D’s BIL and my former classmate, whom she feels she’s always calling on to do things her late husband always did. We turned it into a joke when, after a few days here, I started saying, “I guess we’ll have to call Fidel” when I ran into something I couldn’t fix for her. Poor Fidel does not know we’ve done this to him. Hee hee. He can be grateful we haven’t set up a website.)

Once home, I struggled and struggled to hook up the printer–the mfr says the cable should be no more than 6.5’, and mine is 6’. Too short. I may have to do some end-table rearranging and just put it to the side of the desk closest to the pooter so the cable will attach tightly, but that’s OK. Fewer wires to fight on the desk, anyway. Didn’t have the spoons to give it a try, so I’ll work on that in the a.m. I’d also like to drill a few holes in the desk itself for cable management, but that will require some thought.

Now I’m ensconced on the couch, with the fireplace on (oh, the utter luxury!), an old tatty blanket of my grandma’s over my lap (it’s wool!), and a pair of toasty fingerless gloves on. (It gets cold here, and while the technician programmed my thermostat yesterday, I wasn’t thinking clearly about the kinds of temps I needed during which parts of the day.) And waiting for Temporarily Homeless Guest to arrive. He doesn’t know it, but we’re having a massive Cut the Boxes Down for Recycling party tonight or tomorrow. 😉

Back to putting my meds and vitamins into their monthly containers. You may now return to your regularly scheduled lives.

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Sons of mine: Read this. It’s important.

I’ve been busier than the proverbial one-armed paper hanger–no, I’ve been the one-armed paper hanger, because the deltoid I’d trained to mostly take over for the torn rotator cuff got sprained, so I’m doing almost everything left-handed. Anyway, I’ve not been keeping up blog-wise (as if you cared; really, it’s just the drudgery of moving and the anger of finding out that the previous owner a) did shoddy, shoddy, shoddy work; b) if she did any at all; c) knew damn well there were problems with the house that she did not disclose, which is illegal as hell; and d) trying to figure out ways to fix things well and inexpensively, which generally means creatively.

However, I have been writing about these things. Mostly in explosions of incandescent rage. In my most-used online knitting forum, where we’re oriented around Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. We have something called Guild Wars, in which participants choose a guild from the DW universe and then shows off what they’ve knitted or done (this is its purpose; I don’t think anyone pays attention to the imaginary “points”). Most of my “done” lately has been the back-breaking work of packing, hauling, and reversing the process. And making too many decisions for the spoons I no longer have and trying to find places where there are no places to put things.

Thing is, we also get points for writing stories to go with our work. You know me; any chance to write a story is a good one. So I’m going to use those DW stories to fill out the non-blogging lacuna, which damn well better be my last move. If they don’t carry me out of here in a box, I’m suing someone.

Because it’s DW-themed, our stories read rather like fanfic, which I don’t much care for elsewhere, but it’s fun here. When you read about the Widow Dressing (a pun arising from a felicitous typo of “window dressing”), that is I. When you read about Apocalyptica (or Pocky), that’s either Widow Dressing’s niece (lately) or also I (earlier on). I’m not going back any farther than that, because I don’t remember what character name I was using, and it’s not relevant.

This is because I have absolutely no spoons to rewrite it in regular language and still make it even remotely humorous, so you’re just going to have to get along with it. Maybe the grands will think it’s fun–especially those who’ve started the DW Tiffany Aching cycle (which reminds me, Nodakbassmaster: Offspring 2 is exactly the right age for this set. If she’s still not much of a reader, you can get them on audiobook from the library). Or maybe they won’t. Ahorita, no me importa.

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Vindication feels so-o-o good

Ever since I moved into this place, I’ve been increasingly sure that a) the thermostat (which is 20 years old and listed last on the PDF manual site, which I take to mean the company’s about to drop support for it) was broken and b) the heater was not working properly. I graphed the difference between thermostat heat settings and actual room temperature, and the thermostat was convinced it was anywhere from six to eight degrees warmer than it actually was. This has resulted in my living with room heaters for about three weeks now. Fortunately, thanks to having lived in a POS house that held heat the way a colander holds water, I have a couple of good heaters and <em>did</em> have the foresight to bring them. (OK, I can’t credit foresight. I just did because they were good heaters, not Cheap Chinese Crap.)

A few days ago I consulted a few people I trust, who recommended a heating/cooling/plumbing/electrical company they use (which is <em>not</em>, thank goodness, the most expensive in town). They came by today, and the lead guy was quite familiar with both this bizarre system (which has a dual hot water tank: The top portion heats really hot and goes to the heater, where radiator fins distribute the heat to the house; the bottom portion actually provides bath-style hot water, which explains why I ran out of hot water in what seemed a <em>very</em> short time while taking a shower. (I’m used to a tankless, where you never run out of hot water.)

Upshot: Though at least one of my kids has been downplaying my concerns and telling me “just put in a new thermostat; it’s not a big deal,” it’s not that easy. A normal two-wire one won’t work. The third wire is necessary because of the ultra-hot-water section in the tank (if I understood correctly). The technician turned up the water temp on the heater portion of the water heater and they’re coming back with a new, appropriate, <em>programmable</em> thermostat to replace it with. That means it will be warm when I get up in the a.m. and cold enough to sleep better at night, and will automatically reduce temperature during times when I’m sweating buckets unpacking boxes.

So there, children. I was right, despite being mechanically declined. Hah.

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FINALLY. Minor progress occurs

The householder was angry. Really angry. She’d been in her new digs for a good three weeks and hardly anything looked any different than it had on day one. She still couldn’t cook and was getting tired of eating out of Costco’s freezer (which actually meant she wasn’t eating much at all). She was beyond fed up, ready to stand on the rooftop, scream, and throw rocks at passersby. Her ankle hurt. Her shoulders burned like the Little Bear fire.

But she was determined to get one damned bookshelf up today, with books on it. No matter what. Even though she didn’t get started ‘til 2 p.m. because she’s a lazy git, she’s living on Australian time, or maybe both, or maybe worse.

She wound up moving every bloody banker box in the house–more than 50–as well as most of the regular boxes, because the books were in the heavier banker boxes and she was looking for her favorite author. She figured it was fitting for his books to go on the first shelf in the new place.

She lifted. She toted. She hauled. She grunted. She panted. She kicked things out of the way. She moved everything ranging from tools to desk parts (which she carefully replaced so as not to mess up The System) to an escalerita. Several times. She did remember to eat, though not so much to drink. She snarled and swore and shouted at Recalcitrant Inanimate Objects, of which there were many, many, many. She sliced open box after box after box to see what was inside; she remembered labeling the boxes she wanted, and she’d labeled more, too, but this time she rough-labeled everything, moved them into the proper rooms, and actually made more room to move around. She glared at the boxes with the Glare of Death, daring them to fall over, collapse, or otherwise increase her ire.

She also laid her Dad’s empty bookcase on the floor and replaced the felt on the feet, and did the same with her Granddad’s 100+-year-old (yes, them hyphens is right, and it’s 106 this year) piece, which was interesting because the clips and things that hold the glass and wooden doors closed, well, don’t (like you’d be in perfect shape after 100 years, so shut up and stop laughing). She had to tape them shut, take out the wee drawers, and move it to the carpet to get some control. And seeing as it has built-in shelves and things, it’s much heavier than her Dad’s case. She took care to keep her shoulder low, which made it quite difficult for her biceps to do their job. But, guessing that it weighed around 70-75 pounds, she did it. Who else was around to? She put it elsewhere, and moved the cheesy cheap-ass IKEA thing into the corner by the kitchen, where at this point she thought it would likely be most useful.

Finally–you guessed it–the last two freaking boxes, buried under every stinkin’ thing in the office from boxes to tools to furniture parts to polar bears, contained the books she wanted. She hauled them out to the bookcase, fought ferociously with the uncooperative shelf-support clips in the dark (even a flashlight didn’t help), got a shelf in place despite its repeated desperate attempts to run off to Zanzibar, and put all the Pratchett books she’d found onto the shelf. She was surprised to find they all fit (but suspects there are more elsewhere–like the Johnny ones and the Carpet People ones–and they won’t. Not on the same shelf, anyway).

She stood back and looked at them with satisfaction.

Finally. Finally. Finally this confounded mess of a place could start to look like Home. She needed that more desperately than even she had thought, and she’d felt pretty darned desperate for a very long time. She’d run out of the 2024 spoons she’d been borrowing at appalling interest rates and The Future had notified her it would not be issuing her any more, thank you, she’d gone way over her limit.

Mindful of both ankle and shoulder, she did quit after the one shelf. She decided she’d go get ice packs for her shoulder tomorrow morning, and maybe start trying to figure out what kitchen stuff would go best in the IKEA thing, which she was beginning to think of as “pantry.”

Even though that would require pulling a fair number of boxes labeled “kitchen stuff” out of the bottom of many stacks of boxes. There wasn’t much choice; there was no more room in or near the kitchen for more kitchen-labeled boxes. She sighed, a deep, voluminous, wave-propagating sigh that would have made a West-of-Ireland sigh sound like a gentle spring zephyr.

“You can’t have everything,” she thought. “At least you got something done today that’s visible. Just pat yourself on the back–owwww, not with that hand, dope! Use the slightly less painful one!–and call it a good job for the day.”

So it’s a good job for the day. And that’s that. Now she can do a little knitting.

This looks like the crafty room is worse, but it’s not. The banker boxes are the white ones, and the damn things don’t break down. There’s some kind of sticky stuff that holds the double walls in place and you can’t get them apart. Hoping someone will come and take them away as-is, because they’re sturdy, tough boxes and cost about $3 a pop.
Lots more room in the office for working on The Monster Desk
Grandpa’s pie safe, about to be converted into more bookshelves, across the room from its initial position.

IKEA thing stuffed in the corner, with tub of pots and pans bracing it so it won’t fall down. I did find a stud to fasten it to, but it hurt the crap shoulder a lot so I left it alone. It totally does not fit style-wise with any other thing I own, but at this point who needs furniture that will outlast me?
Yessssssss. Success, peaches.

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A day I should have stayed in bed

Not Even Remotely Dear Day,

This could have gone better. Let me explain why I don’t like you. At all. I am glad to see the ass end of you disappearing behind the Three Sisters and I’m glad you’ll never, ever be back, you sorry excuse for a diurnal event.

Baby M.’s covid test isn’t back, but the doc says she has pneumonia. She’s 2. Not good. I know her mom and dad are watchful and competent, but couldn’t help explaining what serious respiratory distress looks like and when to get her to ER fast if it happens. They’ll just have to live with the fact that the EMT mentality never goes away.

I did get a bunch of (not visible where it counts) boxes emptied out and the recycle bin is packed (packed) with cut-up cardboard, and I squeezed a couple of trash bags into the trash bin the city didn’t pick up on Monday. They’d bloody better well do it tomorrow.

I gave up on trying to hang the new TV right now, propped it up securely on the dresser, and tried to set it up. “Tried” being the operative word. I mean, it’s not like this is my first vicious Shetland pony, you know? I know damn well I entered the password correctly–FIVE EFFING TIMES–and every time it said Sorry! Could not connect! It’s a Fire TV NoDakBassmaster sent me, so I tried the Amazon PW and it spit that one out in disgust, too. No love there.

After putting my short trip to Costco on hold for a Chilkat/Chilkoot video production (they stabbed Kermit in the back), I learned that you do not go to Costco around noon on a Sunday. And I spent about $200 (OUCH), mostly on frozen food since I haven’t yet found my pots and pans. Not that that’s going to make me want to cook.

My shoulder is killing me. I can hardly move my arm. So I was not going to tackle the plumbing. My foot aches. My back aches. And my phone died. DIED. Zero battery. This has never happened before and I don’t know why it should.

I also learned that no matter where you look, fake trees of the 5’ (or even 2.5’) variety are so far beyond ridiculously expensive as to be in the range of taking a space trip, and I’m pissed off about that. Wasn’t so long ago you could get a nice one for $20-$25. Now the cheapest thing I can find is $72. I have too much unpacking to do to go traipsing around town looking for them at thrift stores when I know they won’t be there anyway.

So I defy you, you sorry excuse for a wretch. I am snuggled in my old, huge, ratty, beloved cashmere sweater and a lap robe. I will find something to watch even though it’s not very pleasant on a laptop screen, and I will knit, and I will get to bed before midnight, and that asshole who rang my doorbell at 7 a.m. will pay in some form and be very, very sorry he screwed with me. Or I’ll disconnect the doorbell. Hah.

You are GONE, Day. I am still standing. Even if I’m sitting down. I. Freaking. Win.

Not a heck of a lot of like, and no love at all,
Me

Small floor space in the craft room!
Yarn is back in its home. I can shop from stash again!
Pen chest is found and all seem to have survived, though I’ve not removed all the bubble wrap yet.


No photo, but I found my Japanese saws and sawed the top half off one of those confounded self-locking shelf supports in a kitchen cabinet. Doesn’t seem to matter; I still can’t move the shelf. At this point it’s not worth fighting it.

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Personal electromagnetism … came close to winning

For donkey’s years, all three of my sons (especially the one with the electrical engineering degree; the mechanical ones aren’t as certain) have declared that I have a negatively charged (I think) Personal Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) that destroys, or at least causes to malfunction, any technology within a 10′ radius of me.

Srsly. I can walk past the TV aisle; the screens flicker or there’s an outage. Some watches with batteries I can’t wear; the batteries croak overnight. Gods help me when I try to Do Something Essential on websites, because the PEMF will cut them right off the Interwebz.

So yesterday, fairly late, I got an email from my realtor listing all the things I had to do–TODAY–because closing tomorrow. Things like arrange for a wire transfer for money, transfer utilities into my name, set up an Internet provider… you know. Low-tech stuff. Stuff that doesn’t require positive PEMF.

Yes, that high-pitched howling you hear in the background is my super-sarcastic version of hollow laughter.

We started off OK. Transfering (yes, spellchecker, it’s one “r” in the U.S., now get lost) the electricity went smoothly. Setting up the wire transfer went OK, but I was dealing with actual people at my actual bank, so that’s not much of a test.

Then I broke NM Gas’s website–which didn’t appear to have a sign-up option anyway–and the poor people I had to talk to had no more clue than I how to get around that. “You really did,” one of them said in wondrous tones. “You really did break it!”

Eventually we solved that one. Then came the dreaded one: CenturyLink, to set up a modem delivery for DSL. CL has systematically eliminated people and customer service functions over the last couple of years so that there’s now no chat function on the site, if something goes a tiny bit wrong (which of course it did) you can’t sign up for Internet on the site, and all the heavens in all the cultures help you if you have to call in, because the queue to get to an actual person burns cell minutes the way those flare pipes at gas plants burn off waste gas. (CL’s own menu says, “If at any time you’d like to speak to a representative, say ‘representative,'” but if you say that word, the recording merely says (every time you say the r-word), “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that. Let’s try again.”

As expected, I got sent to three or four different departments, just to get someone to send me a modem. I couldn’t get anyone to explain to me why I’d have to pay the full monthly price for 100Mbps when their own system said the best I could get was 60. By my math, I should only be billed about $30 a month.

None of these people seemed to have even a wee cluelet.

“You want to get a DSL modem?” said one. “Hmm. Let me see.” (long wait) “It looks like I’ll have to transfer you to mmblemble.”

“Oh, I see you had an account with us for… wow, that’s a really long time. That’s longer than I am old,” said Mmblemble.

Eventually, somehow, I wound up talking to tech support–for what was essentially a sales call–but whatever. The woman got me scheduled and fixed up, squared everything away, and promised that the methodology had changed so much that all I had to do was plug in the modem, click a couple of phone buttons, and voila! I’d be off and surfing.

Yeah, well. Not. Just the mention of “phone buttons” gave me the PEMF Dreads.

Not counting the two hours plus I spent on the phone getting service lined up, I spent another three-point-five a few days later trying to follow their instructions to get the super-easy modem to set up. Come to find out the “super-easy” secret was that you had to download their app, which was supposed to do the installing. But there was so little signal that it wouldn’t download to my phone. Eventually, I gave up and came “home” to D’s house and downloaded it here.

She went back with me next day because her phone gets better service there. I didn’t waste any PEMF on buttons and apps this time; we just called the service people, where an exceedingly polite but so heavily accented young woman as to surpass understandability tried very hard to talk me through the process. We went through it four or five times before she gave in and said, “Let’s do a hard reset. Do you have a paper clip or a pin?”

“Um, probably not, since I’m moving,” I responded. D and I gave each other the deer-in-the-headlights stare for a little while; then I remembered that a quilting safety pin was in my hoodie pocket (yes, for a purpose: If I was out working on the Cliff of Doom, I pinned my phone inside the pocket so it wouldn’t fly out when I went rolling downhill).

“Oh, wait! Lemme see if this will fit!” It did!

We did a hard reset, and some other stuff, and eventually it worked. You could tell she was getting really frustrated by then, though. I wanted to say, “You think this is frustrating? Try living your entire life this way!” But I didn’t. There went this month’s supply of tact. Maybe next month’s, too.

When we came home that afternoon, I remembered to bring the laptop with me (never a guarantee that will happen) but left the power cord behind, so it died on me at an early hour, forcing extra knitting time and the watching of “Midsomer Murders,” which is an oddly comforting show given that the region must have the highest homicide rate in two universes.

As Miss Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day. Sufficient unto this one were the evils thereof.

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Tamales, tamales, tamales!

Three of Donna’s sisters-in-law came over today and brought all the Stuff for tamales.

If you’ve never made tamales, you need to know that they are (unless you are very fast) quite time-, work-, assembly-, and clean-up-intensive. (I am not fast. Actually, I haven’t made tamales since I was 9 or 10, and I’ll bet I got sent outside to get out from underfoot then.)

Table laden with damp ojas, bowls of masa, bowls of red chile, and participants preparing to put masa on the ojas, chile on that, fold it attractively (or otherwise), and plop it in a pan.

And this is only the beginning! One must dry off the wet ojas (corn husks), smear masa over the oja, put some filling in, and fold it up tidily to lean up against the others, until you have approximately 84 dozen and can package them for the freezer and parcel ’em out.

One large pan full of wet ojas (corn husks). They have to be soaked so they’re flexible enough to fold up. And E. preparing to put chile on hers.
Partway through one of about five or six pans full of filled up and folded tamales. Even some curly ones!

As with all female bonding experiences, this one involved a lot of visiting, a lot of laughter, a lot of silliness, and fun, too. I think we probably spent the entire day, or most of it, either prepping, building, or cleaning up. But we did it! And we remembered (or Donna and I did) why tamales are made only once or twice a year!

L. packing the finished tamales into freezer-friendly bits: in foil packs, plastic bags, freezery bowls, or other containers. This is relatively important because really, who can possibly eat 84 dozen tamales at once unless you have a really, really large group of people to feed?

And that’s all, folks. I’m too tired to be funny and have too many late-received, last-minute housing things to get done. Argh.

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Totin’ the load

Yeah, this is the driveway, not the store, but I guarantee you this is how I looked hauling all that stuff around. Someone should pay me for being Entertainment for All and Sundry Living Darn Near Everywhere in the World.

My life overflows with adventure. Most of it unplanned, unintended, uninvited, and unwelcome. Today’s visit to Big Lots! fell into that category.

The store contained maybe 15 people… and no carts. NO CARTS. Not one. None outside; none at the inside front of the store; not even any scattered, abandoned, in corners. And I needed to get some stuff for the new house. What’s a crone to do?

Well, I’m gonna need a laundry basket, so I found one and started stuffing Essential Things into it. I dragged it around on the floor like a puppy with a bone six times its size. Drag, scrape, drag, scrape, stand up, rub back, drag, scrape, drag scrape, repeat.

“Why are you dragging that stuff around?” asked one woman about my age, who looked at least mildly sympathetic to the wildly dysfunctional, even improper, body mechanics I was having to employ.

“There weren’t any carts,” I replied.

“No carts! That’s awful!” And she wandered away. So much for sympathy.

I rounded another corner and found a trash can—also something I’m going to need, right?—and promptly filled it with a container of Dawn (a big one! Original formula!!), some toilet paper (so there, Linda R.–I told you I’d remember!), and some other stuff. By this time, the laundry basket held four round pillows, two large multi-photo picture frames (I’ve got a lot of my-kid photos that no longer have frames because space when moving, and those super-multi-frames are getting harder to find), a half gallon of Clorox (maybe not such a good idea with fabric adjacent, but hey, I was draggin’ in more ways than one. It’s hard pulling everything you have in a freaking laundry basket when you’re older than the dirt rocks came from), and you have to remember I don’t like to shop.

“My goodness,” said another woman in a later aisle. “Are you dragging all that stuff around in a laundry basket?!”

I am proud that I did not give her the sarcastic snark that rose to my lips. Like, “No, I’m floating it overhead in a balloon,” or “Can’t you see the donkeys in harness?” though that one would have backfired, I’m sure. But her next sentence was helpful!

“You need something to pull that with,” she said. “How about fastening your purse strap to it?”

I looked at my purse strap, which is fastened via dog-leash-style clasps to the purse. This is the kind of solution I usually come up with, and I was a bit miffed. But she deserved her due.

“Brilliant!” I said, and actually smiled. Then I frowned at her, having heard too many of those simple-fixes-I-didn’t-think-of ideas from my kids, daughters-in-law, and probably grandkids.

“Are you an engineer?” I accused through slitted eyes.

She laughed. “No; I’m a nurse. But we solve a lot of problems in creative ways when we don’t have the right equipment!”

“Aha!” I replied, thanked her, and started hauling my cache toward the cash register via the purse-leash method (more like drag-swish), which wasn’t half bad as a solution.

When I reached the cash register, I had to get into a seldom-used email account in order to get a 15% off discount. Very, very carefully–given the shaky dang fingers–I entered the information. I triple checked it. It was all right.

Google didn’t like it. They wanted me to enter my “recovery email” as a security measure. Now, I appreciate that they’re concerned about my security (ha ha ha ha ha), but… I entered that one extremely carefully, too, checked it several times, and clicked the “next” button.

CRITICAL ERROR! CRITICAL ERROR! it shouted.

“Critical error, my ass!” I snapped. Both the young men at the checkout were caught between laughing up their sleeves at my cache of stuff and trying to figure out how to get me out of the way so the next person could check out.

I tried it again. Even more carefully.

CRITICAL ERROR! CRITICAL ERROR!!! Seriously, it gave me three shriek marks after that one. Google needs to chill.

“Umm….” said Checker 1 to Checker 2, “… ummm… can we just give her the 15% discount and not worry about this?”

Checker 2 side-eyed him and quietly nodded. “Yeeeeaaaah, let’s try that.” (Silent subtext: “Otherwise she’ll never leave.”) He asked my phone number, I gave it to him, he got into my account, I saved $25, all was what passes for “well” in my odd little world.

He kindly put some of the stuff into a very large Big Lots!! bag and managed to compress the contents to a density just shy of a black hole. With a determined expression, he maneuvered the trash can of stuff into the laundry basket, whose bottom now looked, surprisingly enough, as sandpapery as if it had been dragged around the floor of a large store while filled with heavy stuff.

Bless his heart, he also helped me carry stuff outside… although there were still no carts. Not outside. Not inside. Nor were there any more people than there had been.

I think there’s a portal to another dimension in that store. It’s the only explanation. I’ll bet there, the milk cartons all say, “Found! So-and-so, appeared last Saturday in Albertson’s, standing in the dairy section and looking puzzled!” Etc.

Donna, blissfully unaware that my head had gone off on yet another of the wild-goose chases that send her into terminal laughter, opened her car and we shoved my stuff inside.

I’m still walking a little like Igor, but I hope that won’t be permanent. If it is, I may have to start using eyeliner pencil to draw big scars and stitches on various body parts, just so’s I look the part.

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Ahhhh… heaven!

Donna and I had lunch at her favorite place, Padilla’s, today. Absolutely the best Mexican food I’ve had since The Coffee Cup when I was a kid.

They spelled “sopaipillas” correctly on the menu. And had about 12 varieties of stuffed ones, from meat and beans to chicken and other combinations. We both had meat-and-bean stuffed ones with two sopaipillas on the side—one for bread, one with honey for dessert as is traditionally required.

Honest to Pete, whoever Pete is, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. And they give you sensible portions that won’t feed you for three meals, and low prices to fit. (But I’m still full and don’t need any dinner.)

They had all the other usual stuff, too, enchiladas and burritos and tacos and so on, but it’s probably been 30 years or more since I had a proper sopaipilla and it was utterly irresistible.

My tummy is still very, very happy.

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Off and … crawling?

I kissed my first frog today (well, a few weeks ago now. Not sure how I’m getting all this out of order, but heck, blogs go backwards anyway). Mettyforick’ly speakin’, o’course.

I braved Crazy Driver traffic to meet my realtor at a townhouse in what was actually an attractive little community close to Abq’s Old Town. When I drove up, five people were rushing inside. One of them came out and knocked on my window. I rolled it down.

“I suppose you’re waiting for your broker?”

I nodded.

“We’re clearing the air out,” she said. “Somebody left a gas burner on without lighting it, so it smells pretty thick in there.”

“Wow,” I replied, biting my tongue so as not to add, “that sounds like an explosive situation.” Instead, I said, “Good thing someone caught it early!” (See, I really am getting a bit more diplomatic in old age!)

My realtor arrived as the five people were leaving, and one of them handed her the key and said the lock was really touchy so he’d left it open for us. But he hadn’t, or something, because it took her like five minutes and a threat to go get a file from her car to get the security screen to open. No, not a good first impression at all, given that that’s part of the place.

It did give me a good sense of what 850 sf is like: pretty small, compared to my 1300 sf, but workable, although quite tight in the kitchen. But it had not been well cared for, or possibly not cared for at all, or even cleaned very well. The (possibly new?) vinyl in the bathroom had obviously been laid by someone who’d never done it before (I did a better job with my first one decades ago in a basement). I flushed one of the toilets and the water was v-e-r-y s-l-u-g-g-i-s-h… And there was no outdoor private space at all, except for the entryway, which hardly counts. Add that to the noise from a big road right behind it and the freeway two or three blocks away, and… yeah, kissed a frog!

But it was a start! Here’s hoping more frogs will come along soon and one will be a prince in disguise!

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