Thursday, February 28, 2013

Happy Happy Happy

I made it home!  I made it home!!

And it's all good news--the house didn't lose power, the roof didn't cave in, and the furbabies are all fine.  That's the short version of the story.  But y'all know me well enough to know that I can't just leave it at that, so here's the rest...

The Brave Little Toaster after
being outside in the snow for 36 hours
I left for work at 5:30 p.m. Monday night and didn't get to come back home until Wednesday morning at 8:30. I missed my kitties and my dog and my own little bed but folks, I had it gooooood.  The dispatch center is in a fire station, so unlike most folks who get stranded at work I had access to a full kitchen, a shower, and a real bed. (Although I chose to sleep on an air mattress in the Boardroom rather than in the firefighters' bunk room because it's quieter in the "civilian" part of the station.)  I had plenty of company at the station.  In addition to the regular crew and the Shift Commander, the day shift dispatchers spent the night there Monday night, as did the Shift Commander for Tuesday's shift, a Deputy Chief, and another Shift Commander who came in at 3 a.m. to start running the snowplow at all five of our stations.  (Our fire department is its own entity, not a city-owned department, so the city's Public Works Department doesn't clear the snow at our stations.  That means that our own folks have to shovel the snow so our trucks can get out if we catch a call.)  I don't want to get all mushy here or anything, but I really believe that my co-workers are the best bunch of people in the whole world.  If you're at all interested in where I work and what we do, you can visit our Facebook page or our website.  Both sites have some really good information not just about us, but how you can keep yourself healthier and safer.

Wedged in the snow.
Anyhow, when there's snow on the roads I drive like a little old lady, so it took me almost 90 minutes to drive 28 miles this morning.  It wasn't snowing but the wind was blowing like crazy so the highway was partly drifted over in places.  My son was correct in his prediction that I'd get stuck in the alley, but I was so happy to be home that I left my car there and waded through knee-deep snow to get in the house.  I opened the door and was very happy and relieved to find that the house was warm.  I called out to the furbabies.  "Louis?  Libbi?  Gracie?"  No sign of any of them, but I could hear the dog growling.  When I walked into my bedroom, three furry little heads poked out from under my bed. (I really wish I'd gotten a pic of that--so darn cute.)  Much smooching on their little faces followed.

View from the front porch.
Tree branches bent and broken.
We got a lot more snow in the boonies than we did at the station.  It's weird how the snowfall happened--some places didn't get much snow and other places got a lot.  Lexington got dumped on.  I'd guess there's a good 18 inches of snow in my back yard, although some of that is left over from the snowfall last week.  The snow was really wet and heavy, and that's causing a lot of problems with trees and electrical lines.  Reed got his power turned back on some time during the day while he was at work, and the KCP&L guy told him that the weight of the snow is dragging down the utility lines and causing them to pull away from people's houses, including his.  I looked at mine and it appears okay, but I am not an electrician.  My neighbor Gwen was outside this morning knocking the snow off her tree branches, but I think we'll refrain from doing that to the power lines.  Might not work so well.

Poor little dogwood.
My Adirondack chairs look like
fluffy armchairs today.
The only slightly sour note in all this is that my next-door neighbor Martha's dogwood tree was really damaged by the heavy snow.  I love that tree, so much so that my love for it almost makes up for my hatred of her pecan tree which drops thousands of nuts into my yard and my gutters.  In the spring it blooms pink and it's so beautiful.  Its branches arch over part of my patio (the old part that covers the cistern) and make a nice shady place to sit.  The tree is also a part of the Great Squirrel Highway which runs along trees, roofs and power lines all over my neighborhood.  Several of its branches are either broken completely off or barely hanging on.  I'm hoping it's not so bad that it needs to be cut down and that Martha can just get it trimmed up and in a few years it will be back to its former glory.

So, all in all, happy news.  I don't have to be anywhere until Sunday night, so my plan until then is to stay inside my warm house.  I'm thinking three days of watching movies, snuggling with the furbabies, and drinking plenty of hot chocolate.  As Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty would say, "Happy happy happy."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Snowpocalypse

So, we had a big snowstorm here.  I knew it was gonna happen because for days beforehand there were wild-eyed people on the news predicting some pretty dire stuff.  However, I am a Missourian through and through and I tend not to believe things until I actually see them. Before I left for work Monday evening I threw a few things into a bag just in case I couldn't get back home, but I really didn't think I'd get stuck at work.

The snow weighed down power lines and caused electrical outages all over the city, but I thought I'd get home.

The wind caused near-blizzard conditions and whiteout in some areas, but I thought if I drove really carefully, I'd get home.

Then one of our fire trucks got stuck in a snowdrift as the crew left someone's house.  Uh-oh.  I began to worry a little at that point.  I mean, if a 44,000-pound vehicle with chains on its tires gets stuck in a snowdrift, what hope is there for me and my little Kia Soul?

When daylight came, I looked out of the bay doors and saw this:

That's ugly.  (Well, okay, I admit the trees are actually pretty, but what's on the ground is not.)

Then my captain came tromping back into the station--the same captain on the truck that was stuck in a snowdrift and who had to wait for a snowplow to dig him out--and before I could say anything, he snapped, "You are NOT driving home!" Then his driver came in and told me that the secondary roads were all but impassable and that the interstate was closed 4 miles east of the station because of a wreck. Until I heard that, I'd been planning to head eastbound on the interstate to go home.

So I made a little bed on the floor of the Boardroom at the station and slept fitfully for a few hours.  Never before in my 13-year career as a dispatcher have I not been able to go home from work.

When I woke up, I had texts from home:

My son said that the alley behind my house (where everybody parks) was completely drifted over at both ends and he was barely able to drive through it in his big 4WD truck.  After he pulled up outside my house, he realized that he doesn't have a spare key to it, so he had no way to check on the furbabies.  I hope they're okay. (I did give them extra kibble and water Monday night.)

Reed, who lives directly behind me on the next street over, said he's been without power all day long and KCP&L told him they have no idea when the electricity will be back on.  He doesn't know how widespread the power outage is in town, and of course he doesn't know if there's power at my house.

My mom said she heard we got 16 inches of snow, but that she's not venturing outside to measure it.  We'd already gotten almost a foot of snow last week, so now I'm worried about all that snow on the flat roof over the back of my house.  You know, the same roof that was leaking last summer...

And then I got on Facebook and saw this:

The canopy over the parking spaces at Maid-Rite Drive-In fell over.  Maid-Rite is a Lexington icon.  It's been in business since the late 1940s.  Remember Joey the Floor Guy, who gave me advice on refinishing my floors?    His brother Eddie owns the Maid-Rite.  I feel really bad for Eddie, because that looks like an expensive fix.  I sure hope insurance helps out a lot.

We're still under a Winter Weather Advisory until 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, and the last time I looked outside it was snowing again.  I am determined to drive home in the morning.  Determined, I tell you.  I am more than a little worried about the drive home and what I'll find when I get there.  Update to follow as soon as I possibly can.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

WTB's Up For Sainthood

A while back, we unofficially formed the White Trash Bob Fan Club.  There was even some talk of nominating him for sainthood.  As I understand it, to be declared a saint a person has to be responsible for a certain number of miracles.  So, I submit the following in support of WTB's being declared a saint:

I went and whined to him about my dryer catching fire and how I was afraid I was going to have to buy a new one, and WTB being WTB, he immediately said, "Why don't I take a look at it first?"  So he came over and took the back of the dryer off, which I was certain was going to reveal a blackened, charry mess completely beyond repair.  But instead, it looked like this, which seemed promising:
Those wires sticking out were connected to a little part which didn't survive the fire.  What's left of it is at the top of the next photo; the part at the bottom is what it's supposed to look like.
I'm thinking about selling that burned-up piece on eBay and claiming that it's a part off of a Russian satellite or something.  I figure I can make tens of dollars from it!  Or maybe not.

Anyhow, we replaced the burned-up piece with a shiny new piece that cost only $31, which made me happy.  No dipping into the Porch Fund needed.  (And by "we replaced" I mean of course that Bob replaced it while I very helpfully held a work light.)

Then we turned the dryer on and waited to see if it caught fire again.  Happily, it did not.

Yep, I think this qualifies WTB for consideration as a living saint.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Prefer To Laugh

"The only way to get through life 
is to laugh your way through it.  
You either have to laugh or cry.  
I prefer to laugh.  
Crying gives me a headache."
--Marjorie Pay Hinckley

What have I been doing nearly every waking moment for the past three weeks?  (Note that by "nearly every waking moment" I mean those times when I'm not eating or watching Netflix or reading the entire interwebs or playing Ruzzle.)  All those other times when I'm awake, what have I been doing?

That's right--I've been prettying up my laundry room.

And what is Murphy's Law?

That's right--anything that can go wrong, will.

So what happened Saturday night was barely even a blip on the radar of my life.

I put a load of laundry in the dryer, turned on the dryer, and heard a nasty crispy crackling noise that sounded kinda like a deep fryer when you drop in a piece of chicken.  Then I saw an orange-ish light glowing behind the dryer.  I leaned over to look behind the dryer and saw a tiny flame licking out of the back of it.  Well, schidt.  It says a lot about me and the way things go in this house that I didn't freak out or cry when I realized the clothes dryer was on fire.  I just heaved a big sigh, pushed the damn thing out away from the wall, unplugged it, and waited to see if the flames would die down on their own.  They did.  Then I opened a window so the icky electrical smoke would go outside rather than all through the house, and I went into the kitchen and got a can of club soda to drink while I sat in the plastic chair out in the laundry room and waited for the smoke to clear and the dryer to cool off.  After the back of the dryer was cool to the touch, I opened it, got my sheets out, and then rigged up a clothesline by tying string from one transom window to the other in my bedroom.  I could have gone to the 24-hour laundrymat in the next town over, but I was afraid the house might catch fire while I was gone and I wanted to be there to see it in case all my hard work went up in flames.  I thought about playing the Talking Heads song "Burning Down The House" while I hung up my laundry but decided that might be tempting fate a bit much, so I played James Taylor's "Fire and Rain" as a sort of B-side.

On my next day off, I'll call the repairman on the chance that he can fix the dryer, but I'm pretty sure he'll tell me that it not only died, it cremated itself.

The bright note in this story is that I've been saving up money to rebuild the front porch so hey! I can buy a new dryer with that money instead.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Still A Wreck

Note the miter box on the floor, the loose
piece of ceiling paper, and Gracie
about to leap.
The laundry room is still a wreck, as you can see.  At least now it's a newly-painted wreck with new window shades.  The paint is Valspar's Sparkling Sage.  (On the walls; it's Luna on the ceiling.)  The shades are Emmie roll-up shades from Ikea.  I feel like I've gone through some sort of rite of passage because I now own something from Ikea.  (Even though I actually bought the shades on eBay because they're not sold on Ikea's website and the closest store to me is like 7 hours away.) I also cut and mitered three pieces of trim and put them up. There are three more pieces left to do.  You can't rush these things, you know.  I decided what color I'm going to paint the floor and I bought the paint.  Not that I've started painting, or even opened the can, but it's there if the mood strikes me.  In related news, I think I was a bear in a past life, or some other animal that hibernates, because come January and February I want to do nothing but sleep.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Devil's In The Details

The storage cabinets in the laundry room were really getting on my nerves.

I have to have them because they hide a lot of my junk like a shop vac, brooms, cans of paint, various cleaning supplies, gardening tools (like I have a garden!--someday), and a big orange EMS box that my tools are in.  They're not very well made, just sheets of paneling nailed onto what's essentially a big ol' plywood shelf.  I thought about tearing them out and replacing them, but that would turn this medium-sized project into a larger one, and I don't have the time for that. This is already February, so Outside Painting Season is just around the corner.

And then there's those hinges.  I thought I hated them, so I considered taking them all off and replacing them.  Then I realized that would entail prying off itty-bitty pieces of molding, because the hinges are under the molding, and then replacing 11 hinges and 4 handles.  Not fun.

So, I did what I do best:  I made do with what I have, and I painted.

Two coats of paint didn't really improve the looks of the cabinets much, so I put two more coats on. That helped.  Then I took a look at the hinges and decided that Kathy was right when she said in a comment on an earlier post that they're kinda vintage-y looking.  I figured out that what really bugs me about the hinges is that some of them are copper-finish and some of them are black.  So I bought a little can of Rustoleum and went to work with a tiny paintbrush. Better already.

Now what's really getting on my nerves is that I robbed the trim from the laundry room to use in the bathroom, thinking that it would be a long, long time before I re-did the laundry room, and now I have to replace it...