A Case of the Mondays….

I know I promised my next post here would be television discussion, but I had a case of the Mondays, and I really need to get it out of my system. And really (knock on wood), the case of the Mondays only applies to my morning, so let me tell you about it.

For starters, I found a cat turd on the bedroom floor. Got to clean that up. Yay.

Then, as I was getting ready for my day, the cat was sprawling on the floor, rolling around, showing off his irresistible white belly and meowing very cutely, so of course I had to rub the belly. And despite recognizing quickly he wanted to “play,” I kept trying to rub the belly while avoiding his primary method of “play,” which is his teeth. Yeah, you can guess where this is going… he bit the snot out of my hand. No stitches, thankfully, and because he’s not an outdoor cat, I don’t worry about the same kind of germs as I would if he were, indeed, an outdoor cat eating mice and birds and any other kind of vermin.

But the icing on the cake was my car. When I tried to start my car, it was dead. But to make matters worse, I couldn’t even get the key out of the ignition.

Continue reading

Back in the Saddle

I decided on Friday to unofficially take the weekend off. Short of trying to make sure I kept up with my daily Hellblazer reading, I stayed off the blog, didn’t write, and didn’t walk. And honestly, the weekend was just too busy to consider otherwise. It was the kind of busy that makes you wish you had an extra day, just so you can take a breather and actually get some rest.

This coming weekend looks to be a bit quieter, but the weekend after that looks to be just as crazy, if not worse. I’m tempted to make THAT weekend a three-day weekend, because I know I’ll need the recovery time.

Lots of stuff on the table: neighbor is being quite amicable about repairs from his trampoline, so we’re getting official quotes. The HVAC guy is coming out tomorrow to look at our unit and giving us the official diagnosis, and then we’ll start really deciding what we’ll do there. And at work, some guys were hammering away at that HVAC unit (same brand as the one we have at home, which is a piece of crap), but we won’t know if their fix worked until we turn on the AC, which will likely happen Tuesday.

I can’t believe April is nearly over. It’s gone by so fast.

At any rate, I’ve hit the point of the evening where I don’t care what’s left on my to-do list: I just want to wash up, curl beneath the covers, and relax. I’ve got my daily walk, my daily Hellblazer, and my blog entry in for the day. Maybe I’ll try to squeeze out a page of Space Vampires. Maybe. I’m early in and already my daily feedback has me thinking of new! and improved! ways of telling the tale. That’s the hard part for writers like me: staying the course so I really know what the story’s about, rather than trying to fix things with rewrites as I go along (which always amounts to not moving forward).

We’ll see.

Air-Conditioning Unit From Hell

Once upon a time, my husband and I bought a new house. Not just new-to-us, but brand new, as in we were the first people to live in the sucker since it was built. We weren’t in it seven months, and on Christmas Eve, the heat went out.

This was 2004.

The next year, same holiday. The heat went out again. Same unit, of course, but different problem.

And it so it continued. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had problems out of the heating and air unit, only to say that when the heat went out, it was always on the holiday or a weekend. It didn’t go out every year, and last year, we thought we got lucky, because we had no heating problems.

Instead, a new problem arose: the air-conditioning went out in August.

The problem, we soon learned, was that coolant was leaking. The repairman was able to refill it, but this spring would be the test: if we turned on the air-conditioning and got cold air, then we’d be okay: it was a slow leak. If we didn’t get cold air, we’re looking at replacing something. Be it coils or compressor or a whole new unit. Something will need to be replaced.

Well, yesterday, it was a bit muggy out, so when I got home, I turned on the air. Not for the first time this spring, but it was the first time that I noticed the thermostat going UP after I told it to go DOWN.

So yeah, fast leak. We have an appointment on Tuesday for the repairman to come out, take a look, give us options and quotes galore. It’s not going to be a cheap fix, I’m afraid, and it’s frustrating, because in hindsight, it’s easy to say we should’ve replaced this lemon of a machine from the start. But going into it, how were we to know our unit was such a piece of crap? That it’d cause us trouble, and cost us money every year?

Alas. It’s the joys of home-ownership. Every year, it seems like we have more and more expenses piling up: this year, we’ve already replaced our fridge. We’re still looking at the possibility of having to pay for the damage our neighbor’s trampoline did to the house (but hopefully, he’ll be cool and pay for it), and now this. Surprisingly, I’ve discovered that I just can’t get furious over this stuff. It happens. It sucks, but it happens. We’ll deal.

My husband, on the other hand, gets furious. It’s almost like the world, or at least the things in the house, have a personal vendetta against him…. but make no mistake, whatever happens with the air-conditioning unit, it’s going to be one of the more expensive fixes.

Except of the roof. Replacing the roof was damned expensive, but at least insurance covered that. πŸ™‚

The good news: it is not August. It’s still, mostly, spring, and after tomorrow, the weather’s going to cool down some. We have fans, and we have air filters. We’ll be all right.

3 Down, 3 To Go….

Today is a day to celebrate: yesterday, I paid off one of my remaining four student loans. *throws confetti*

Back when I graduated with my M.A., I had accumulated seven student loans. Two of them were my undergrad, and because I consolidated after getting my B.A., those two loans are treated as one BIG loan, even though it’s broken down on my bill. The other five loans stand for each term at grad school (a term amounting to half a year). It took me five terms to get my degree, one more than it should’ve, but that’s a story for another day.

In 2009, my husband and I refinanced the home. We paid off the cars and still got a lower interest-rate, and one of the options we considered was folding my student loans into the refinancing package. I said no: I get tax credits on student loan interest, and while I can claim interest paid to the mortgage company, it doesn’t work the same way on our taxes. So we didn’t, and I worked out a very detailed plan to pay off my student loans faster than paying the minimum would allow: I’d pay the minimum on all the loans except for the one with the highest interest rate, and throw extra money at it until it was gone, and then do the same thing for the next loan with a high interest rate, and so on and so forth.

I paid off my first loan in 2011, about three months ahead of schedule. I paid my second loan in 2012, and I’m still ahead of schedule. Yesterday, my payment was received for my third loan, and yes, I’m still about three months ahead of schedule. And so I will continue. I keep sending the same amount of money every month to the loan company, but all the extra over the minimum is targeted at one loan.

The next one I’m targeting is my undergrad loan, which won’t be paid off until next year. Then the last two will be paid off in 2015. And then I’ll be done.

When I’m done, we’re talking about moving. Getting me a new car. Maybe even going to the U.K. to celebrate. But when that day comes, it’s going to be a huge relief. My student loans aren’t as large as some, but they exist: I didn’t have parents paying for my college education. That being said, I know I’m very fortunate to have enough income to throw extra money at those loans. It’s a nice cushion to have, especially if we ever run into a situation where I have to use that extra money for something else: if that happens, I can always pay the minimum. Some people, I know, aren’t that lucky.

But today is a celebration day. Three loans down. Three to go. BRING IT.

When Trampolines Attack!

So. For the past four or so years, Tennessee has been hit with massive flooding, rain storms, hail, and torandoes. This happens pretty much every spring, and every spring, when the weather finally starts warming up, hearing that thunderstorm is coming also means we need to get our cars covered and keep one eye out for funnel clouds.

Three years ago, we had to replace our roof & guttering due to hail damage. Last year, our neighbor’s trampoline flew into our yard during a storm and dented the brand new gutter. Since that was all the damage, and his insurance wouldn’t cover the cost of replacing it because he had his trampoline weighed down based on their guidelines, we decided not to get it fixed. The neighbor was happy to pay for it himself, but we decided not to bother. Good thing.

Thursday, we got hit. The National Weather Service says it was a thunderstorm with winds reaching up to 100 mph, but people around here swear there was a tornado. Whatever the case, at 8:30 pm the storm REALLY hit hard and while I decided to see if we had hail, the neighbor’s trampoline took a flying leap and hit the house and then rolled alongside our house to get stuck on our porch.

The damage: the gutter we should have but DIDN’T replace last year? A new dent! But this year, we have three panels of siding broken, one broken so badly it shows the wood beneath. My husband suited up that night in a rain jacket, got the neighbor, and removed the trampoline from our property and investigated and talked about the damage. Neighbor is a nice guy, but not the brightest: he doesn’t think his insurance will cover anything because the trampoline was weighted down (he should’ve been using stakes though, not sandbags, and also: when you hear a big storm is coming and you KNOW your trampoline likes to attack the neighbors? You should take it down before the storm. Or at least turn it upside down). My husband stressed, however, that we’re getting this fixed this year, so we’re hoping that if his insurance says no, he’s going to pay. We’ll find out soon, once we get our own estimate, which likely won’t be more than our own deductible, and we’re not going to claim it on our insurance regardless, just because we shouldn’t have to and also, a lot of insurance companies in this area have a “three strikes in five years, you’re out” rule. Which means I don’t want to add a second strike when I shouldn’t have to.

But the damage could’ve been so much worse: the trampoline didn’t hit the window, so that’s a relief. And we don’t have trees, otherwise the would’ve been bent over, broken, or completely uprooted, which is what I saw Friday morning while driving to work.

Tornado or not, it was bad. I’m really tired of these storm systems, but every geographic location has some kind of SOMETHING that makes the location somewhat undesirable. Like getting lots of snow. Or having ungodly heat. Or being subject to hurricanes. Or earthquakes. There’s always something. It’s just that in this neck of the woods, that SOMETHING used to be rare. It sure as hell didn’t happen like clockwork every year.

Stupid climate change….

The Call of (Jury) Duty

It’s over. Thank God.

I’ve never done jury duty before this week. I’d been summoned back when I was in college, but because I attended college out-of-state, it was an easy thing to get out of, because I wasn’t even going to be in town. But when I got my summons last year for this year, I swore a blue streak. On principle, I didn’t mind the idea of serving on a jury. I minded the interruption to my daily routine and the hassle it was going to take to make sure that my job didn’t suffer in my absence.

I’m not going to talk about specifics of my case, but I am going to talk about the process and the TYPE of case it was, as well as the verdict. I will say this, though: if you ever have the opportunity to serve on a jury and it doesn’t pose a financial hardship to you, do it. Seriously. Yeah, it’s an interruption and it’s stressful depending on the type of case you have to hear, but it’s utterly fascinating and educational. I’m not a patriot or anything, and I’ll be the first to tell you, when it comes to civic duty, I’m pretty ambivalent. But having an inside view of how the justice system works, to be a part of it, is really, really important. It gives you a new perspective on your community and law enforcement. It can reinforce already held views, but really, it made me feel a part of a the community in a way I never imagined. So while I’ll still grumble about speed traps and photo surveillance of traffic, I have a new appreciation for what the police force has to do when a crime’s committed and what the legal system goes through to follow up.

Yeah, I was on a murder trial.

Continue reading

Middle School Moment

The following post will be put behind a cut (or, for you email readers, you’ll have to click through to read the full post) for the sake of the squeamish, particularly men. The following post is not graphic in any form or fashion, but it does discuss the visitor women get every month, so even though the story I’m about to tell is funny in a “thank god that wasn’t me” kind of way, if the existence of how a woman’s body functions (or how my body functions) grosses you out, stop reading now (especially if you’re reading this on a feed).

Continue reading