Firestarter

My husband mentioned last week that it had been awhile since I set a stove on fire. I don’t know why or how it came up, but it was a valid comment since I have, in fact, incinerated a few stoves and ovens in my day. But with that comment, he inflicted a curse on our house. The following day my dryer turned off by itself after running for five minutes and when I opened the door, I was greeted by the smell of burning plastic/wires/electronics/etc… This is a smell I know well.

We called a repairman out to have a look and we were informed that the repair of our 10 year old dryer would run us somewhere between $600-900. The service call was well worth the fee though because we learned what brands not to buy. Strangely, it was pretty much every brand that the big box stores were running sales on last weekend. Also, the fact that each of the brands he recommended were American was a little suspect, but he explained that the parts for foreign machines were difficult to get and that the quality of the brand we currently had peaked at about the time we bought our last machine and had been going downhill ever since. I didn’t ask if he was a card carrying member of the proud boys or anything, but I don’t think his recommendation was made based on being a redneck.

After considering how much laundry I do in any given week (3-6 loads), I promptly went online and ordered a washer and dryer set. Our washer was working properly but I’m no dummy and know that if I replaced only the dryer, the washer would go up in flames the following day. If anyone could cause something that dispenses water to burn to ashes, it’s me. On Friday night I placed my order and scheduled a delivery for Sunday afternoon. My husband spent the next afternoon preparing for the delivery by removing doors and unhooking our old machines. I knew enough to pay the extra charge for the delivery guys to cart away our old crap.

Sunday rolled around and we were informed that our delivery would be late, which was fine until the truck showed up and the delivery team informed us that their work order did not include taking anything with them and that they had our order but it included a dryer that had very obviously been in someone else’s house and was missing the legs. They refused to take our 10 year old dusty machines and we refused to take their broken merchandise.

When I called the store (as instructed by the deliveryman), I basically got the run around for several hours. I talked to a woman who I am pretty sure had short-term memory issues because she called me back three times to confirm the details of my problem. I thought it was pretty cut and dry but she was having some trouble understanding the specifics. She was under the impression I ordered two washing machines and didn’t know why I wouldn’t let go of the broken one when the delivery men tried to take it. I’m now wondering if she was under the impression she was calling a laundromat. She left me with a broken promise of a call back to resolve the issue.

The next morning I called back and spoke with someone who, amazingly understood my dilemma and helped me resolve it. He was astonished that the delivery guys refused to even look at our invoice that verified we had paid for them to take away our old stuff and said that if it happened on the next delivery to call him right away. He also informed me that the washing machine we ordered never made it back to the store. I am now guessing that the delivery man didn’t have the time to haul away our stuff at 5:30 at night because he was preparing to hook up his brand new washing machine that “fell off the truck” somewhere along the way.

Unfortunately, even with Mr. Helpful on the case, we still had some hurdles to jump since the washer/dryer set I originally ordered was out of stock. We ended up being upgraded to a more expensive model but he had to call all over to get manager approval. When the order was finally ready to process, our Lowe’s credit card was rejected for too much activity. Apparently they frown on stores attempting to return items so I had to call to get the hold removed. By the time the items were authorized, purchased and scheduled for delivery, I had spent 4 hours and 48 minutes on the phone with various Lowe’s employees and yelled at at least three of them.

But today, we have a washer and dryer. My husband did have to install them himself since the deliverymen said they were unable to touch our old tubes and clamps for liability reasons. But that was probably for the best since one of the guys was sweating so profusely I was afraid he might actually slip and fall in his own bodily fluids in my hallway. And I couldn’t have waited another minute since my kid wears about 12 outfits a day. If anyone needs me, I’ll be slowly unburying myself from mounds of clothing I have been trapped under while on hold.

**Nothing makes me feel better than good old fashioned punk rock when I am annoyed and frustrated (or happy, angry, ambivalent…)

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Neighbors

I have become the neighborhood crazy lady. It seems like since I left my 9 to 5 and started working from home that I have become increasingly more aware of my neighbors, and what they are doing. Until about a year ago we already had a neighborhood busy body but she moved away, apparently leaving the position open for me. I am now acutely aware of my neighbors’ coming and goings, as well as all of their bad habits. They should all be grateful that I am not on the homeowner’s association board. More accurately, they should be thanking sweet baby Jesus that I have not yet convinced my husband to doctor me up some official looking neighborhood watch letterhead. I would be sending one line letters daily with comments such as “hey asshole, vegetable gardens are for the backyard, not next to your front porch!” and “maybe you are unaware that they picked up your garbage on Monday, so there is no need for your recycling bin to be at the curb on Friday, but great job saving the planet!” But seriously, nobody wants to see tomato plants and cucumber vines growing all over their neighbor’s front porch.

My latest obsession has been our neighbor who has no clue where his property line is located. In fairness, our lawn company did cut half of his grass last summer, mostly because they came on Tuesday after the neighbor had already spent all weekend cutting half of his grass, so they followed the line he made. When fall rolled around, he raked about 10 feet of his substantial property and called it a day. I raked up to our property line and left his leaves for a week until the forecast called for snow. I was concerned the plows would come through and push all of his leaves in the street into our driveway so I raked them all up to the curb where they still sit four months later. And now there is snow…

When our previous neighbors still occupied the house next door, we took turns snow blowing the sidewalk. Whoever saw the snow first was “it” and took care of the sidewalk between the houses. We tried this when our new neighbors moved in several years ago but they apparently didn’t understand the game. At the time I was doing a lot of the snow blowing since my husband was working crazy long hours. The first few times it snowed, I cleared a path between our driveway and theirs. Apparently the neighbor interpreted this gesture as me claiming the job of clearing his sidewalk for all of eternity, because when he does his snow removal first, he avoids our house like the plague. He hasn’t stepped more than 10′ away from his driveway with a shovel.

Clearly, our neighbor is both unclear and unconcerned about where his property is and what he needs to do about it. The worst part is that every year, the arbitrary property line seems to move. The good news is we are gaining more property, the bad news is it’s not really ours, we just maintain it. After I watched a giant mound of leaves sit and gather snow for months I had finally had enough. When my husband went out to shovel after the first substantial snowfall, I followed him and told him exactly where to stop. I had done a little research (and measuring) and knew exactly where our property line was. The next day I looked outside to see that our neighbor had shoveled most of his property but left a 20′ piece of sidewalk uncleared. He was apparently throwing down the gauntlet. We had both shoveled at least a half dozen times so far and the large section of sidewalk remained covered. I know it was killing my husband to leave it be, but the more we give, the more they take. Pretty soon we will be taking care of their whole yard.

I have thought of a dozen ways to make this situation worse, but not one that would actually encourage the neighbor to just shovel his damn sidewalk. At this point, I am thinking I should either put some crime scene tape around the patch of sidewalk or build a snowman or ski jump right in the middle of it. At least the kids could get some use out of it that way. A few days ago my daughter was going to go over and ask the neighbor to play and my husband said “I don’t know…can you get through the sidewalk there?” half mocking me. And then last night over a foot of snow dropped on us. This morning my husband went out to snow blow and I watched him walk all the way over to the neighbor’s driveway, clearing the entire sidewalk between our houses. I wanted to tell him that our neighbor would now consider this our job, but I know he wouldn’t really care. He is the one who keeps watching the rest of the neighborhood try to traverse the giant mound of snow with their dogs and small children. Unfortunately, I think I now need to call my landscapers back to get a quote for cutting two lawns this spring.

*I wrote this while trying to drown out my daughter making Instagram reels and listening to my boyfriend (Mr. Henry Rollins).

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Elf on a Shelf

It snowed a few days ago, and buckets of that white stuffed poured on us for a full day. While my daughter was home for a snow day, she decided that it was the perfect time to decorate for Christmas. In theory, it wasn’t a horrible time, but I had literally just taken down our Halloween decorations the day before and we still have pumpkins and cobwebs on the porch. My house is like a holiday mullet with pumpkins in the front and santa in the back. Plus, all day I had been laughing at memes on social media saying things like “Snow in November happens because people decorate for Christmas prematurely. You know who you are. Stop it.” Now all I can think is clearly these people are spying on me. Somehow I don’t think I’ll get any credit for hot days in April when I decorate early for the Fourth of July. Then again, my Christmas decorations may very well still be up well into spring.

Normally when I decorate, I put the same pieces in the same places, but apparently I am getting senile as well as acquiring more decor because I stood there looking at half empty bins strewn across my house, unable to remember where anything went. Meanwhile, mini me ran through the house randomly placing ornament stands and two foot tall sparkly trees on the piano bench and next to the toilets. Apparently she likes to feel festive when she pees. I found her and a half decorated tree by following the trail of glitter. At one point I even joined in, trying to set up a snowman in our guest bathroom, but my husband promptly put a stop to that by reminding me that my mother has literally close to 50 snowmen in her guest bathroom. It is so packed in there that it’s hard to even find the toilet, let alone the sink. I don’t know if it was my fear of becoming a hoarder or the idea that someone could potentially pee all over Frosty, but I cleared out the bathroom pretty quickly.

I eventually figured out what normally goes where and then moved things around for another two hours before I finally gave up and started dragging empty bins downstairs. When my little elf pranced in suggesting we get started on the tree I laughed right out loud. Magically, I have two shelves with no decorations and I somehow acquired a bag containing 150 ornaments that had a $4 price tag on it. Apparently I couldn’t pass up an after Christmas sale even though our tree is already at maximum ornament capacity. Luckily we just bought a new coffee table with a glass top and a shelf below that holds exactly 150 sparkly globes. I would normally try to convince my husband I had bought the bag of bulbs for this exact spot and I am clearly a genius, but he had just redirected me from placing a fluffy white snowman six inches from the urine zone, so I kept my mouth closed.

So once again, it looks like someone ran through my house with a fire hose shooting glitter, and I am in heaven. Everything is sparkly and shiny and I even found spaces for hundreds of ornaments. It’s finally time to light the balsam scented candles, although I feel like fall lasted about three and a half minutes. Maybe I’ll keep the multi-holiday theme going and light some leaves scented candles in the front rooms and balsam in the back. Tis the season!

*I wrote this while listening to The Interrupters

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That’s Your Opinion

I attended a charity fashion show last month where there was a purse auction. My mom, daughter and I all bid on purses in between sipping tea and scarfing down tiny cucumber sandwiches. Right before the end of the auction my mom actually outbid me on the purse I wanted just so she could buy it for me. She knew I wanted it, so she wanted to give me a gift. That, or she is just super competitive or has a bit of a spending problem. I’m not going to analyze her motivations, I got a great bag out of the deal.

When we came home my daughter was excited to tell her dad about the event. She was going on and on about how we “won” purses. As she was showing him the bags I butted in and said “actually, I didn’t win my purse, my mom outbid me and bought it for me!” to which he replied “You mean you PAID for that purse?!” I told him that technically my mom did, but yes, money was exchanged. He just shook his head as he turned the bag in circles, looking at it from every angle. He has since named it my Fraggle Rock purse. Apparently he thinks it’s ugly and reminds him of a cartoon character from his childhood.

I have now had this purse for about six weeks and have received no less than 20 compliments on it. Every time someone is on an elevator with me or passes me in the grocery store and compliments the bag I immediately text or call my husband to let him know. He asks things like “was it a blind woman?” “was she wearing crocs?” and “was it in that way that people tell parents with ugly babies how cute they are?” He clearly does not appreciate my purse. I have had a librarian call me back inside as I was exiting the library to tell me how pretty my bag is. I have also had a woman drive out of her way down an aisle in a shopping plaza to compliment my Mokey Fraggle. I couldn’t see either of their feet to check for crocs but they appeared normal enough. None of these women have been blind, elderly or wearing hospital gowns. One was even sporting the same Louis Vuitton purse I was carrying before swapping it out for Gobo. I know that my taste can be a little iffy, but in this case I now have scores of women agreeing that this is the cutest purse on the block.

My husband has more fun than he probably should teasing me about my choice of attire. I’ll admit I often dress like a teenage boy in sleeveless band t-shirts and ripped jeans. I also have a certain affection for plaid and anything with a hood. But most of my clothing is some shade of black, so the sheer amount of colors included in this handbag should have been call for celebration for my husband. I am not going to remind him of his ill-advised soul patch of the early part of the 21st century or his facial hair in general during our early courtship. I will also not point out that he wore only white socks for years. I am saving up all of my jabs for when he is elderly and wearing the same white socks with sandals or pajamas bottoms as pants. I am waiting until the day he buys a pair of loafers or a double breasted suit coat and then I am going to remind him of how he teased me about the work of art I carried on my arm. I’ll probably also be wearing pajama pants in public and possibly crocs by then so my words won’t mean much but I’ll be ready.Share this post...

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Dance Yourself Clean

First time vacuuming – three years after we moved in!

Cleaning is not my favorite thing to do. In fact, it is something I dislike so much that I am willing to pay someone else to do it, which is exactly what I did until recently. It was decided that since I am now home more that there is no need to pay someone else to clean our house. I must have been daydreaming during this decision making process because there is no way I would voluntarily agree to get on my hands and knees and scrub my kitchen floor. I literally have a recurring nightmare about cleaning the toilet and the cleaning brush flicking little bits of toilet scum into my mouth. I would never knowingly bring this nightmare to fruition. All I know is one day my cleaning lady was no longer coming to the house after my husband talked to her. Since dust bunnies were multiplying and nobody seemed to be doing anything about it, I finally came to the conclusion that I was the somebody that was supposed to be doing something about it. All I could think is there had to be someone more qualified for this job than me.

Growing up I helped clean the house every weekend. My job was to dust. It apparently seemed like the appropriate job for a child who was allergic to dust. I think my mom knew better than to put a piece of metal in my hands and send me to push it around the house banging into furniture. I have blamed this childhood chore for my dislike of cleaning since the first time I had to clean my own house. I know this is a fallacy, but I am holding onto it with both hands. Freud may have been wrong about a lot, but he had a point with his theory that everything is mom’s fault. It can’t possibly be my laziness and sense of entitlement that has caused this extreme distaste for cleaning my own house.

One of my least favorite things to do is vacuum. It doesn’t seem like it would be a hard task to accomplish, but my track record with vacuum cleaners is not good. I once stood in the driveway with our little compact vacuum trying to find the power switch for about twenty minutes. I was attempting to clean out my car with little luck. If I couldn’t even turn the thing on, I clearly was not meant to operate the device. I took that experience as a sign to abort all future missions with vacuum cleaners.

When you vacuum once a quarter, the bag looks like this!

The next time I used this compact vacuum cleaner, the only vacuum I ever used since I moved in with my husband over fifteen years ago, was when my daughter was a toddler. My husband grabbed his phone and took a photo since he was pretty sure it was the first and last time he would ever see me use the vacuum. He even called my daughter in so they could watch me. It was apparently like watching a monkey use a tool for the first time. His positive reinforcement was not going to work on me though. I didn’t pick up another cleaning gadget for years.

Last week something brushed up against my leg while I was walking up the stairs. Since we no longer have a cat, it scared me more than a little. I turned around to see a dust bunny hopping down the stairs looking like a tumbleweed blowing through the desert. The time had finally come for me to attempt this cleaning thing again. Two days later I dragged out the vacuum that I had banished to the guest bedroom closet. I was pleased to see the power switch right near the handle. That cut a good half hour off my cleaning time right there. I plugged the vacuum in and started pushing it around my office, but all it did was push the little bits of paper and fuzz around in circles. It wasn’t picking anything up. I turned the machine off and looked at my husband throwing my hands up as I said “it’s broken. This thing doesn’t work.” He just laughed and told me that the bag was probably full. I gave up and went downstairs.

After another two days I decided to figure out what this full bag situation was all about. I know that vacuums contain bags, I have even ordered said bags online. What I didn’t know was how or when you need to replace a bag in a vacuum. Apparently now was the time and I was going to figure out the how of it. I dragged the vacuum down the stairs, expecting this project to be messy. I was correct in my assessment. When I opened the front door and pulled out the bag, a cloud of dust exploded from the hose and globs of shredded paper poured out. To say the bag was full was a bit of an understatement. The bag was ready to blow, which may explain why the top of it was duct taped to the inside of the vacuum. Somehow I managed to attach the new bag to the hose, put the vacuum back together and drag it back upstairs to finally get to work.

I swear people live in this house!

After four days I was finally prepared to vacuum the portion of our house covered in carpet. I plugged in the vacuum and started pushing. This thing was fancy – it even had a light on the front, you know, for late night vacuuming. Heaven knows when I can’t sleep the first thing that comes to mind is cleaning. I pushed the vacuum through my bedroom feeling victorious for all of ten seconds before the vacuum turned off. No warning alarms, no sucking up half of the curtains, it just died. I checked the switch which was turned to the on position. I even plugged it into another outlet thinking it could have been the power in the house, but nothing happened. No light, no sucking, no nothing. I pushed the vacuum right back to it’s home in the closet and returned downstairs. This settles it – I am not destined to clean. Luckily my daughter has decided that cleaning is fun. Let’s just hope she is not allergic to dust!Share this post...

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