Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The downside

The downside about trips to Seattle is not coming home (I'm a smaller town person at heart, and I think I might be happy in a really small town. With a friend.), but coming home in winter over Snoqualmie Pass. So I spend a lot of worry time when I could be enjoying myself.

I watch the weather channel too much.

And it showed that weather was coming through the region, so Tuesday night, with the pass looking good that night but probably not Wednesday day, I decided to come home.

I am thinking that, once we get over the pass, everything will be a piece of cake. Snoqualmie Pass is at 3022 feet, and it is the highest point on the trip home. Then we head over Manashtash Ridge (2672) and two other ridges (less) between Ellensburg and Yakima.

Each time we came over something I was thinking "The worst is over." But the weather just kept on getting worse. And at milepost 61 on I-82 I lost control and spun out. Fortunately there was no one to hit and we landed on the right side facing the road, but the ground was too soft to get any traction and we are stuck. Within minutes there was an aid car and State Patrol and he took down my license and registration and called a tow truck. Then the patrol officer takes off to aid someone who is in the river. At this point, we don't know if the car is driveable, but it is likely.

Then, 45 minutes later, another car spins out and hits us. Fortunately we are in the car, belted, and not hurt. The other driver is unconscious, but comes to very confused and keeps asking what happened. The same patrol officer responds (and recognizes us!), the ambulance comes, the other driver is taken to a hospital, and all the paperwork (we can not get by without paperwork, can we?) is taken care of. In the middle of all this the tow truck finally comes.

We spend the night in a hotel in Sunnyside, I call insurance companies (the other driver had incorrect insurance information, which just adds to the story), Jack comes, we remove personal belongings from the car and come home safely.

The roads today (Wednesday), of course, are perfect.

You can spend a lot of time playing the "Weshouldave" game. We should have stayed in Seattle for the last night. We should have given up and stayed in Ellensburg or Yakima. We should have tried to dig the car out or tried to drive out over the cookie sheet. But the fact of the matter is that the whole incident could have been much, much worse. The other driver could have hit us instead of the car, or hit the tow truck driver. Jack says the conditions ahead of us were worse. We could have been the one in the river. We could have been rescued by axe murderers, or, even worse, rude people.

So, in the end, God was indeed watching over us. While He doesn't prevent bad things from happening, we appreciate a speedy happy ending to the whole affair. (In fact, the biggest irritant now is that I left my sack of dirty underwear in the hotel in Seattle. Do I want to replace them, or have the hotel send it to me?!!) Plus I got to ride in a police car for the first time in my life!


Seattle is one of my favorite places to visit...and after a few days, I really want to go home because the traffic and the noise get to me. Especially if I have to drive in it.

Connie had the flu, so Jack stayed home with her and I took Tami. She is a great travel companion. She likes everything. Just walking along the waterfront was great. We didn't get to everything because she takes longer to see things -- which is a good thing. But we went to the Space Needle when the sun was shinging and we could see Mt. Baker and there was no wind. (In fact, all the time we were outside it was sunny, and the Museum of Flight it was cloudy.) She preferred the Seattle Science Center to the Experience Music Project. It took her ALL DAY to see the Museum of Flight -- I swear she read every single plackard the museum printed. We didn't get to the Underground Tour and the Zoo and a couple of other things, so I guess we will just have to go back!
She never seemed to want to stop for food or coffee or tea....I am starved.

Friday, December 25, 2009

I keep my promises

It is all over but the shouting. I mean, cleanup. That means me.

So far the stove is surviving correct handling. The turkey stock has been simmering for 3 hours and the stove has not non-catastrophically failed again.
The presents were all well-received. The daughter requested Star Trek: Enterprise, Season 3. When she opened the present from Dad and found season 4, she said that she might love him. When she opened season 3 from Tami, she declared that she loved Tami better than Dad. When she opened season 1 from Santa, she began to suspect something. When I tossed her a present and said "I think you know what this is!" she looked at me strangely -- turns out she had just opened a book intended for Tami. Oh well. Then she curled up in Daddy's lap again, she is fighting a cold.

I was pleased with my gifts, but then I got a lot of stuff on my list. I'll have to think up more next time. I got chocolate, I'm happy.

Lindsey likes the present from Grandma and Grandpa the best. Just ask me.

Grandma proceeded to show everyone how to make Lindsey laugh. That is, just make a complete fool of yourself! And Lindsey laughed. Here's proof!

Then we ate dinner, which, given the volume of candy left over from the gingerbread house (approximately equal in volume to the gingerbread house itself, including the inside!), the amount of other candies, the amount of cookies received from Germany, the amount of cookies made here....well, we didn't need so much dinner. Basically, turkey with stuffing (requested by Tami; she said she doesn't get turkey often in Germany), mashed potatoes, gravy and broccoli. Notice the attempt at healthy eating. What we needed was turkey (no gravy) and broccoli.

Then cheesecake for dessert. It's main selling point is that it expired soon, and the store sold it for $5 instead of $15.

After that, Lindsey continued in his quest to imitate the perfect pretzel (see picture), with grandpa's able help. Jack specializes in holding sleeping babies.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

santa baby

I hope you haven't missed the grandbaby pictures. In between colds and cars with mechanical difficulties and schedule, he hasn't been near a camera in a month. More will be taken tomorrow, I promise!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another tradition, finished for the year.

Our first exchange student, Jens from Germany, introduced us to 1. making a gingerbread house and 2. It doesn't have to look like an winner in the annual contests.

We have been making one every year since. (Once we cheated and bought the forms, and it just didn't have enough candy. Or the right candy. We just can't do a gingerbread house without all the flavors of Jelly Bellys! (except licorice and buttered popcorn)) There is always extra dough, and so I make flagstones and fence posts and boulders -- that is when the dough is tired of being rolled out one more time. I just roll them up and bake them as is.

This first picture shows our state of the art construction methods. This has been refined over the years. It holds it until the glue (powdered sugar and water) is dry enough to hold everything together. Then you start on the yard. One year, my sister (the totally talented and creative) made an igloo out of pillow mints. Another year, a young friend of ours took fat chocolate chips and glued them on his roof flat side out. They were solar panels. Our pastor's oldest son (when in sixth grade) fashioned a guillotine out of graham crackers. The crowning touch was gummi bears separated from their heads, and tiny bits of red licorice nearby.

Our normal yard, however, contains frolicking gummy bears, fences, a woodpile, snow balls, the occasional small branch from the Christmas tree: basically normal stuff.

This year, our exchange student, who we thought was a nice normal girl who doesn't swear, likes to go to church, and doesn't wear clothes with skulls on them, decided to make a spider. Only she didn't have room for 8 legs made of reindeer corn, so she only made six. This meant it was an insect, and needed antennae, and she used what were supposed to be fence posts for this. The finishing touch was a couple of chocolate chips for eyes. The second picture has all the weird stuff on it, with a closeup of the alien in the third picture.

Then they posed with their house. You will notice that, for this picture, they chose to have the normal side showing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I have made something

It has been a pretty sparse Christmas sewing season...But I did make more placemats. I have twelve, but only 6 matching napkins. (All red.)

That is OK, nobody in this house seems to care about anything except presents anymore.

Next year I'm going to let everyone else dictate the schedule and see how they like that when there is nothing to put presents under.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It has been a day

Actually, it has been a week. Or a month.

Let's start with the stove (estimated replacement, $800-900), the car ($1400, some sort of gasket, a battery and new tires), replacement appliances for the rentals($1000) and lost glasses, $375.

Yesterday the dog ate a little over a pound of chocolates (Chukar Cherries, to be exact, mixed milk and dark chocolate, plus dried fruit.) that was meant for Some One Else. She did not greet me enthusiastically when I got home, but she knew she misbehaved ("And I'll never do it again, I promise!") and I didn't think much until hours later she was still avoiding me. Actually she was lethargic and didn't walk right. So I took her to the pet emergency clinic, where, some 7 hours after eating them, she threw them all up.

The vet said her stomach was so full that she just couldn't process them. She also provided graphic details, like they could see the chocolate and the cherries. I said Checkers could have kept the cherries, she eats them from the tree in the backyard all the time.

She also said it was a waste of good chocolate.

I agreed. Not to mention $20.95.

When it was all over, the visit cost $301.77. (not including chocolate)

The grand total of extra expenses for a month where we DO NOT NEED extra expenses is just over $4000.

And most of the Christmas presents have been bought, so there.

I came home from this adventure to find everyone standing around in my street at 10:00 in the evening.

It has been snowing, raining, and freezing rain for a week. School has been delayed or closed due to slippery road conditions (and, true to form, the first cars to spin out have been SUV's!) So I am not parking in my driveway, which goes down from the street. It is a good thing too, because the tires would have frozen into the pool of water Tuesday night.

Just before I took the dog to the vet, I told my husband to pick up the exchange student at the school after her basketball game. I neglected to tell him it was an away game. So he waited outside the wrong school, where he picked up our daughter, who was helping broadcast the wrestling match. He drove her home, to find a the exchange student had gotten a ride in a car which was now sitting diagonally in our driveway, pointed towards the street. She had managed to spin the car almost in a full circle.

Logistics: it is a one-car garage, so the driveway is one car wide. There is a lamp post three feet off one side of the driveway. There at two medium sized trees 5 feet from both sides of the driveway. The driveway is two cars long, and, as I said, sloped toward the house.

This girl, who has only had her license for some 6 months, missed everything!

After some more fruitless maneuvers, she ended up backing onto the grass (missing the lamppost), and then my husband gunned the engine and drove up onto the street, missing the lampost, the two trees, (and did I mention the fire hydrant) and the house, but going over the curb. Onto a street that is sort of icy-slushy.

All this for about an inch of various kinds of precipitation.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Need a caption

So far:

It's not a wreath, it's my bed.

Everybody in the house helps decorate

You want me to .... move? me? After all that work I did to take off the plastic?

and I also need a reason to open a facebook account.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chrysanthemums are tough

This picture was taken on December 4, when the high was freezing and the low was domething like 18. It took a few more days of this -- and lows of -2 Fahrenheit -- to finally kill these flowers.

They even bloom in the heat of the summer, when the highs run up to and occasionally over 100 degrees.

It is back up to freezing now, and we have a layer of snow over a layer of melted and then frozen snow, and it is raining.

We are hosting a student from a region of Germany where these conditions are normal.

Time to look at hosting a student from Thailand.

Latest witticism from the exchange students (not one of mine): The street I live on is Birch Doctor.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I broke the stove

The only reason to go to Sears when we first got married in 1981 was to get Kenmore brand appliances. They worked well, and for a long time. My washing machine (which was a wedding present) died in 2007. I had it fixed in 2006 and THEY STILL HAD PARTS! My dryer started smelling smoky last spring and I decided to replace it before it died catastrophically (since it might take the whole house with it and I did not want to replace all the quilts) (or, possibly, the cat and dog). My microwave is actually a Litton, my Dad chose that. (Litton and Kenmore are, or were duplicates.) At 28 1/2 years it is still working, although I will have to replace it soon.
Sears Service, however has pretty much always sucked. I called them in 1991? 1992? when the washing machine died with a load of diapers in it. They promised to fit me in the schedule in 5 days (not including the weekend). I found someone else who could come out that day, and had the machine up and running that day. When I called Sears to cancel the service, they were uninterested in why. I told them anyway. Politely.
No one I have ever talked to has ever praised Sears Service.
My stove is a Kenmore, and I got it in 2000 when we redid the house. I just killed it all by myself, after Thanksgiving dinner was done and I was working on the turkey stock.
Usually we dump all the bones into the turkey roaster pan, fill it with water, set it on top of the stove, turn on two burners and cook it for several hours. Then we throw out all the bones and big bits and save the stock for chicken soup, which the kids would greet with a less than enthusiastic response. It took 20 minutes for the stuff to start boiling. Just after I turned the burners down to simmer, we heard 3 popping sounds.

The stove now has 3 large cracks and several major glass chips which are no longer a contiguous part of the stove. (see picture)

There was turkey grease on the stove.
The turkey roasting pan has a rim on the bottom, and this was the only thing that actually contacted the burners.
Parts of the enamel surface of the roasting pan were found in the turkey stock.
There are burned bits on the bottom of the pan which may be turkey or pan or both.

The pan, and after that liquid, are fairly good heat transfer media. Grease is also, but could only transfer it to air (not a good heat conductor, or you'd burn your hands in the 350 degree air in your oven as well as on the pan and racks). After I turned the heat down, the grease was able to transfer heat to the burner. There was a colder spot under the pan and a hot spot under the grease. The heat differential was too much for the glass.
While I have no desire to test the hypothesis on other burners, I do want a completely working stove top. So I called Sears Service. I was told that a service call would be $129 (plus tax) plus the cost of parts, and that the part for my stove would be about $250. Given these numbers, service was therefore scheduled. At that time I specifically asked the representative if he needed the model and serial number of my stove. He said that he had that information.

The repairman came out to my home and copied the model and serial number off my oven and told me that the replacement part was going to be $579.58, plus $48.11 sales tax. In addition, he told me that the phone representative will promise repair when no such repair could be offered, and that the numbers they quote on the phone (with the exception of the cost of repair call) hardly ever match the actual cost.

The difference in price means that I am now going to consider a new stove rather than repairing the old one.

This means that I have paid $139.71 to have somebody else read numbers off the stove and look up a part number, and tell me its cost.
Not only does Sears Service Still Suck, they think I am illiterate, unintelligent and gullible. (For those that are illiterate, unintelligent and gullible, that means I can't read, I don't know anything and I can't think.)
It is now the 5th day since I originally complained. I guess they tink I don no nothin bout fones, neethr. Or emales.