New Dishwasher Part two


The next available weekday day was Labor Day which of course, I had forgotten about. Amazing how many important Holidays you miss when you are old and retired and living alone.  Damn. Makes no difference as one day is pretty much the same as the rest of them. I made the call and got an answering machine, surprise, surprise and left a message. explaining what I had done and “would you please reschedule the installation”. The next day being a Tuesday with everything back to normal, I received a call back message only for it to say that I had to call them back to reschedule. More frustration but being very good at following orders even though I was almost at the boil, I called the rep back and between us, she rescheduled for the following Friday. I asked for the afternoon but she said she had no control over the actual time but would do the best she could. Can you see where this is going?

As they had done on the very first schedule, the Rep called me on the Thursday prior to the installation to confirm that it was going to be in the morning after all and she was sorry but to be prepared for the installation from between 8:00 am and 12:00 pm the following day. Heeding her words, I was up early (for me) and went about my usual morning rituals, feeding fish, feeding dogs and then feeding me in that order as I waited for the phone call from the Technicians telling me that, “they would be at my house in 30 minutes”.  Prior to that, I had cancelled my Physical Therapy session scheduled for that morning explaining the situation. That went off OK as I waited and waited and waited. By 12:00 pm, it was obvious that it was not going to be a morning install so I gave it a couple of hours and  in an exceedingly bad frame of mind, called the Scheduling Person back again. Even though by then, I was thoroughly P.O’d, I held my temper in check and was a very civil gentleman as it was not her fault. Wait a minute,  maybe it was but I was not to know if it was or not. Thirty minutes later and after being passed from the Appliance Delivery person to the Installation Scheduling person and in between listening to the same terrible canned music over and over as I was put on hold time after time, we came up with a new date, this coming Thursday the 13th. Hell, it might be a bad day for some but in this case with such an ongoing story of horrors, what else can go wrong? When I asked her what had happened with the original work order,  she stated that apparently the person that set up the Friday install had filled the work order out wrong and that she was sorry for the inconvenience. Yeah, Right. Talk about a comedy of errors.

Thursday the 13th rolled around as usual as there had not been any end of the world experiences to prevent it and I made the effort to get up early so as to be ready for them. Didn’t want them ringing my doorbell with me half asleep. I was lucky, as the installer called me at 8:00 am to tell me they were 20 minutes away. I had to move my truck out of the driveway so that it didn’t get damaged as they squeezed by and as I got out of the vehicle, the installers pulled up. Great timing. These were two different guys than the first pair so I led them inside and they went straight to work.

The installation went very smoothly and the only adjustment they had to make was to the hole in the cabinet that the water pipe passes through, just a little bigger. They quickly finished the assembly and tested for leaks and then ran the unit for a 15 minute wash cycle to make sure it was working properly. Satisfied, they collected up their tools and one of them went over some paperwork with me that required a half a dozen signatures and they were on their way. I gave them a substantial tip, at least enough to stop at Starbucks and buy a coffee and donut. I saw them out the door and then grabbed the mop and proceeded to clean up the water that had splashed all over the floor, brought in the mat and admired their handywork. Just for the hell of it, I found as many dirty dishes that I could locate plus a few clean ones to make up the load and started it up. An hour or so later, it was through and the load was clean.

I wonder what is next? I have already replaced the Microwave, Refrigerator and Stove so I guess it will probably be the water heater. Again, that is another job that will require installation as my copper pipe soldering skills are not that good. As a side note, I was checking around to see if I could get cheaper house insurance and one of the companies would not insure me because the water heater had not been replaced and they were concerned that a 34 year old heater would present them with problems down the road. When I asked what sort of problems, they really didn’t have a definitive answer. Oh well, it does fall under the category of one of the things that will need to be replaced when the house is eventually sold.

But, for the time being, I will enjoy my new dishwasher and maybe make an effort to use it every couple of months…

Written 9/16/2018

New Dishwasher Part One.


Being a long time Batchelor or should that read Divorced and living alone for the past 26 years, one learns a lot when it comes to maintaining a household. It is so much easier when there is only one person to account for in the ways of cooking and keeping the larder and refrigerator well stocked. Items such as doing the laundry are also on my own personal schedule and although I am pretty good at keeping my clothes clean, folded and put away, I also have made sure that I have plenty to wear. As it usually consists of tee shirt and shorts along with socks and shoes buying is easy although I did have a problem the other day when I wanted to purchase new hiking shorts (that’s the  actual name of the shorts) and ended going online and buying directly from the manufacturers. No big deal as a week later, they came in the mail.

The same is true of cooking the food that I eat. I am very much a creature of habit which includes food. I find something that I like and I will stay with it until either something new comes along or I just get sick of eating the same old stuff. That’s because I have an easy to please set of taste buds brought about by 30 years of stodgy English food. If it wasn’t for the ketchup, even fish and chips would be bland. Consequently, with only me and the dogs to feed and the fish not using any utensils, between us we don’t dirty very many dishes tending to have 3-4 plates and bowls stacked in the drying basket at all times. Which brings me to the main part of the story.

I have lived in this house for 34 years first as a happily married person and finally as a miserable, bad tempered,  grumpy old man that I have now become. The house came equipped with a dishwasher as all modern houses have and ours was used pretty extensively in the early years. Heck, we were comparatively young and energetic and washes dishes was not a part of our plans and that’s why they made dishwashers in the first place. Following the move from married to single, or I guess the proper word is Divorced, like its a black mark on your character, the dishwasher was used less and less and finally it got to the point where I would have to remember to push the start button for a few seconds just to turn the motor over or it would just freeze up. This meant that I would have to get the tools out to manually give it a turn. Apparently, it is something associated with electric motors that they need to be turned over for a few seconds at least once a week or they would create this problem.

The first time it happened, I called a repair man as I don’t know enough about appliances to fool with them. He lay on the floor with a wrench and gave the motor a turn and it worked just fine. So, I quickly learned from him and took over that role for myself and as long as I remembered to run the motor every 3-4 days, I only had to copy his actions  a couple of time after I had managed to forget the schedule. It finally got to the point that I would have to make a point of filling the dishwasher with anything I could find that needed washing and even some of the clean stuff out of the cupboard just so I could run the thing.

About a month ago, I deemed that it was time to run another load as I had managed to dirty up some pots and pans having taking it upon myself to do some real cooking. So, I loaded everything in and started it up and water poured everywhere. Apparently, it had developed a leak and although I gave it a cursory once over, I couldn’t locate it. That did it for me as I unloaded everything and washed the dishes and pots and pans by hand all the time mumbling under my breath about stupid dishwashers which wasn’t really very nice of me as after all, the thing had lasted 34 years. I’m really good at mumbling under my breath. The alternative to that is turning the air blue with a whole string of cuss words delivered at the top of my voice which usually makes the dogs run for cover.

I debated over what to do made especially more difficult by not needing or using one very often and finally came to the conclusion that I should replace it if nothing more than to save having to do it if and when I finally move out of here. Whether that be feet first in a box or of my own volition it made no difference. When the place eventually sells, it needs a working dishwasher if nothing more than to look good as the current one, the bottom front panel is kinda loose. It fell off one day when I accidentally kicked up against it and although I replaced it (sort of) from time to time, in the end I just left it propped up against the unit.

Next step was to Home Depot, one of my most favorite of stores to see what they had in the way of cheap dishwashers. I was amazed at the variance in the price range from a little over $400.00 to well above $1500.00. I don’t know what you get at the top end different to the cheaper models but I certainly was not interested enough to find out. I discussed my needs with the Sales Clerk and he told me, after checking prices and models, that I should wait until the sales that happen around the Memorial Weekend. I also wanted to renew my Home Depot charge card as my old one was not longer in the system with me having not used in eaons and I wanted to use the 6 months interest free option to pay off this purchase. He told me to delay that as well and do them both at the same time as that would get another $40.00 taken off the price.

I took his advice and as soon as I saw the sales advertised, was back to the local Home Depot to make my purchase. Everything went smoothly as I picked out one of the cheaper models and then arranged for them to install the thing. The  female Clerk told me that I would be getting a phone call from some other source regarding scheduling the installation. I bade her farewell and thanked her for her help which included the new Home Depot charge card.

True to her word, I received a phone call and we went through the necessary arrangements for it to be installed. The earliest date available was 5 days away and they could not give me an exact time only that it would be either morning or afternoon and that I would receive yet another call the day before with either of those times. The day arranged was for the coming Saturday afternoon between 12:00 and 4:00 and as luck would have it, the delivery/installers came early. One guy brought in the new unit while the other stuck his head under the sink to start with the installation which required turning off the valve to shut off the water. Then came the first of the bad news. The valve having been there for 34 years and hardly used in that time, had frozen and would require,”a plumber to come out and replace it”. I asked the usual question, “you don’t do that?” and of course, the answer was no. So, they left the new unit in the middle of my living room, collected their gear and left giving me instruction on what to do next regarding scheduling a new installation date after making the repair.

I thought about it after they had gone and decided that I could do the job without the services of a Plumber and save myself a $100.00.  The next day being a Sunday, I went back to Home Depot and asked the guy for the part that I wanted. He knew exactly what I was talking about and led me straight to it. He picked one out and handed it to me telling me that “this should do the trick”. I drove home and then taking a deep breath, opened the sink cabinet doors to reveal the part that I needed to replace. At least, I thought I would reveal it but of course, it was behind other stuff like the Garbage Disposal and sundry other items making it really difficult to get to. I had worked under here before as a couple of years back, as I had changed out the same Garbage Disposal so I already knew just how difficult the job was going to be. The only way to get at everything was to lay down on my back but not before placing a rubberized yoga mat that I happened to have plus a thick kneeling pad, under my shoulders in the hope of at least making the job a little more comfortable. I forgot to mention that I am going to Physical Therapy for my left shoulder that I managed to overstretch whilst loading all of that loose change into my truck and laying down in a very uncomfortable position trying to unscrew frozen fittings with my arm above my head was not very easy. Of course, it had to be on the injured side as I couldn’t reach it with the other arm. I had previously turned off the water at the main valve after dragging off the heavy metal cover to the manhole, making sure that it was drained and holding before working on releasing the rusted part.

Mikey sat in his chair watching for a while until he got bored and then he turned his back on me and went to sleep.  Gritting my teeth, I pressed on and after a very lengthy struggle and turning the air blue with a few very well chosen cuss words, managed to break the rusted part loose.  I have yet to figure out whether it was the cussing or that I had applied enough pressure to break the rust seal or maybe a combination of both. Gizzie came over to find out what all of the fuss was about and licked me on the face as if to say, “Good Luck” before going back to his hiding place and going to sleep. Ginnie, being the smart dog that she is, was nowhere to be seen. From that point on, it went very smoothly as I replaced the old with the new. Almost there I thought as I went about re-attaching the other two pipes to the valve fitting. Alas, I spoke too soon as it turns out that the Home Depot Sales Clerk had inadvertently given me the wrong sized part. It was not really his fault as he was not to know that both of my attachments were 3/8 inch in size and he had given me a part that had one at 3/8 inch and the other at 1/4 inch.

So, I jumped into the truck and drove back to Home Depot and picked up the correct part returning the other part at the same time. It was easier to dismantle the valve that I had just installed as the hard job had been in breaking the rusted old valve loose and with that job done, everything else at that point was brand new. I quickly reinstalled everything and tested it by turning on the outside main valve and brought it back up to pressure. Everything held which was a huge relief.

Written 9/16/2018

Mikey the Comforter…


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Mikey looking very bright

When will it end you may well ask
working on yet another task
there is more work for me to do
why me, he exclaimed, I haven’t a clue
there was I just doing my thing
not bothering anyone in my dream
and all of a sudden and before my eyes
this shape began to materialize
not one I recognized straight away
or that I had seen on a different day
a brand new shape unknown to me
struggling like it was breaking free
ready to jump into my brain
and never to appear again
with blazing eyes and claws so strong
looking like it did not belong
in anything alive on this earth
and yet in its own familiar way
I thought I recognized what it did say
with its barks and growls and loud howls
and scratching claws and licking tongue
and wagging tail swishing in fun
and then I awoke only to find
that Mikey, my dog was what I had seen
and asleep and drifting in my dream
I had called out and thrashed around in my sleep
getting Mikey excited from his place near my feet
with his barks and his cries all for the sake
to bring me back to this place and awake
away from the demons that had me secured
dreaming of things that are totally weird
he licked my face and calmed me down
as if to say don’t be a clown
sleep peaceful now and I will watch
and make sure that your sleep is not lost
for nothing will get to you today
not while I am here to stay
I patted Mikey on the head
and turned back over and instead
of going back to sleep again
thought about how it’s not the same
to dream of monsters when I was a kid
and have my Mother stroke my head
and tell me everything’s OK
tomorrow is another day
instead I settle for a wet nose
and a cuddle as he moves in close
from Mikey as I close my eyes
and into a deep sleep did slide.

Written 8/25/2018

Big Brother?


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I got to thinking the other day about life. Not just my life but life in general and how it seems to change on a daily basis. It is worse now than ever it was before namely due to the ability at which the word can be spread throughout the world.There is barely a time lapse for information of an event in say New York City reaching London, or Hong Kong or anywhere else in the world in just the blink of an eye.

In this electronic age of internet and Facebook, there are no secrets as people fall over each other in an attempt to be the first to share the news, any news. In this country, the USA, people are so addicted to their cell phones that I swear they are an extra attachment to their wrist. When I walk around the Supermarket and as I like to do, study the people in front of me, I am amazed at how many times they check their phones walking the length of the store. It is as though they are willing a text or a call to come in just to keep them amused. I can see they are NOT checking a grocery list that some people keep on their phones as that list doesn’t change. If this isn’t bad enough, even more annoying is that person in the checkout line that insists on continuing her conversation even while trying to deal with the check out clerk. How rude is that? Good manners have gone out of the window along with common sense and decency as far as cell phones go.

Maybe it’s because I am old stodgy geezer that is set in my ways but I do worry about where we are heading with all of this technology available to the world. If people are already so connected to their cell phones, what it to prevent a “Big Brother” from sending subtle messages of unrest or something similar?

In a way, it is already happening. I am a creature of habit one of which is to take a drive late in the afternoon and head for the grocery store. Then I generally buy a Latte from the Starbucks next door and take a drive listening to the current Audiobook before heading home. I always know when it is time for me to head out the door as a message appears on my phone around the time I leave, telling me that the traffic is light and it will take me 15 minutes to reach my favorite HEB store! This is before I even leave the house. I certainly do not send the message to myself and it is not coming from one of my friends but someone or something is certainly keeping an eye on my actions. It’s kinda scary in a way as what else is being compiled of my everyday actions and habits? As I said before, I am an old geezer and hardly a threat to anyone. I am not involved in any illicit actions that I know of and have no know vices. Hell, I am even too bloody old to appreciate beautiful women when I see them.

What if by chance, I was a double agent or a drug runner or any of the things that one would normally associate with being kept under close scrutiny. Is the scary message that I receive also watching those sort of people from afar compiling proof of some sort of wrongdoing, waiting for the moment to send in the SWAT team or the FBI? How many other people have the same thoughts as I do and just how secret are our lives? I guess we shall never know as the word here is secret.What people don’t know about, the less it concerns them.

As for me, I am going to change my habits and start my routines in the morning at a totally different time. See if I am afraid of Big Brother…

Written 8/24/2018

The Beauty of the Moment.


HEB

First HEB Store in Kerrville, Texas

 

I was in the checkout line at where else, yeah you got it, my friendly HEB Grocery Store and in front of me was this young mother with her son riding in the cart as kids are wont to do. I would guess the kid to be between 3- 4 years old and in his hands, clutched as tight as he could grasp them, were a couple of toys that she had purchased for him  on the way round the store.

She was busy unloading the basket and not paying much attention to her son at least not as much as I was and as she placed her items on the counter. She reached back in for more and as I watched,  he carefully put his hands behind his back to hide his new toys for fear that he was going to lose them. I burst out laughing as it was so funny to see the reflex action of this little fellow trying desperately hard to hang on to his new playthings. The Mother looked at me with a smile as she knew what I was laughing at and exclaimed. “He is so afraid he won’t get them back”.

She finally persuaded him that he needed to pay for them and would get them back after they were checked out and he very reluctantly gave them up but kept a very careful eye on them as they proceeded through the checkout line. The cashier, who had also been watching the proceedings with a close eye, after ringing them up, made a big show of handing the toys back to the little boy whose worst fears had not been realized and all was going to end well.

The whole thing was a beautiful moment from the Mother who made the kid understand that things had to be paid for to the checkout clerk who made a big deal out of handing them back to the little boy after the transaction was complete.

Me, I just felt all warm and fuzzy inside happy to just have witnessed a step in this young boys life and it was so funny to watch him try to hide them. Made my whole day…

Written 8/23/2018

APS September Meeting 2018.


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True to form as September 17th rolled around so did the Austin Pond Society monthly meeting held at the usual place, Zilker Botanical Gardens Clubhouse. There were about 34 people in attendance plus several of the Sponsors as this meeting was dedicated to them to give everyone a chance to meet them in person.

DSC_3425 John from Jet’s Pizza with Steven Monfrini

The evening started with a light meal in the form of Pizza with all of the fixins delivered by the owner John. Member’s brought deserts as they usually do which I for one am very grateful. About the only time I eat deserts is once every month at the Austin Pond Society Meetings.

Following the meal, the Business section of the meeting started with the President Jeannie, going around the room and taking comments and questions. The high spot of the evening apart from the opportunity of meeting the Sponsors, was the announcement and presentation of a list of names compiled by the Nomination Committee ably led by Nancy Reinert for the 2019 Board of Directors. Much to everyone’s surprise, this Committee had managed to find willing people to serve in all of the vacant positions which included, President, Treasurer and Pond Tour Chairman, the three most difficult positions to fill. There was some shuffling around as  people switched positions but in the end, all of the Officers and Directors positions had nominees. These need to be ratified which will happen by the Membership at the next meeting in November. None of these nominees are cast in stone and if there are any other candidates willing to run at that meeting, then the positions will be decided by a vote of the membership. There are still two other outstanding positions that are classified as Volunteers meaning that they do not have to attend Board Meetings and neither do they get a vote if they do choose to attend. Those positions are Hospitality and Librarian. The Hospitality position is the most popular person in the Club as that person is the one that feeds us every month. The other vacant position is the Librarian who brings the books and maintains the records of those that are loaned out. If any of you are interested in either of these positions, contact Nancy Reinert at parliamentarian@austinpondsociety.org

Time was given to mix with the Sponsors to see what they had to offer and ask questions about their products. My favorite was Barb Lenhardt who is a Realtor as she had the best chocolates. Actually, the Sponsors who were in attendance or had representation at a table were as follows, the aforementioned Barb Lenhardt, Realtor, Water Garden Gems from Marion who brought several goodies that they offered for sale, Taylormade who builds ponds and Kirk Perry with Perry Aerial Photography.  Both Jet’s Pizza and Bamboo Bistro had tables but were not in attendance due to the calls of business.

The meeting finally came to a close with the business out of the way as it was time to turn attention to the other important part of the evening namely the judging of the pictures that will go into the Calendar. As Calendar sales have been dropping off with the advent of the internet and cell phones, this item will eventually go the way of the DoDo even though the Photo Contest will remain as an integral part of the organization with the pictures getting posted on the website, the modern way of showing off prints. There were a lot of pictures on display split into four different categories, fish, ponds and pond features, wildlife and pond plants. The participants were each given four stickies with a number that they affixed to each of their pictures. The voters wrote down their selection by number and the votes were tallied up and the winners announced. These winning pictures will all go into the Calendar and will be posted on the website usually as the heading picture for the month. This is always a very popular occurrence every year and regardless of the Calendar survival, will continue as an integral part of the Austin Pond Society.

Jeannie thanked everyone for attending including the Sponsors and for making the evening a huge success and called the meeting to a close. The next meeting is October 15 at the same place and the Speaker will be Alex Rabadan, Owner of Oasis Water Features & Landscaping (512-630-6786). Alex offers services such as Pond Installations & Monthly or Yearly pond & water garden maintenance.
This will be the last real meeting of the year as the November Meeting is dedicated to having fun and partying.

APS September Meeting 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

APS September 2018 Meeting Video from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo.

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Sponsor Night from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo


APS September Photo Contest 2018 from Francis Allcorn on Vimeo
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Hope to see everyone at the October Meeting.

Written 9/21/2018

The Passage of Time…


Santos1982

I was invited to a party the other night when a dear friend was being honored for his services for our local Soccer Organization. His was for forty five years of service as the Legal Council and founder member of this League from all of that time ago.

I first met Phil just after I moved to Texas in 1977 with my third wife, Susan. We had moved down from New York State mainly because of a job offer that I had and also to get as far away from the awful winters that is a part of that State’s makeup. We settled in Austin and Susan, knowing that I liked to play soccer (football to the rest of the world), asked around and finally hooked up with Phil who asked me to come and practice with his team named Santos. He considered me good enough that I signed on to play. I played for the team for a few years and also the subsequent team named Santigous formed to play in an Over 30 division as the younger punks in Division 1 were really running us ragged. Time and age was already catching up with us.

Over the course of the next thirty or so years, our paths crossed on the soccer fields and in the League Meetings where I was also very active as the Administrator. Although we never played together again, we remained good friends until I finally quit the soccer scene in 2008 due to knee problems. I had one knee replaced but have managed to get by on the other even though the cartilage has gone. As it doesn’t hurt, why mess with it. Phil is still showing up to the fields to play although he is suffering from macular degeneration and can’t see worth a damn but he likes the company and camaraderie that playing with a bunch of old guys that you have known for a very long time, brings.

The party was a surprise and even though eighty odd people had been invited, the secret never got out and Phil was suitably impressed when he walked in the door to the cheers and claps of all of those present. We had all been asked to arrive early, get a drink and socialize which wasn’t hard to do as we were in the company of people that we hadn’t seen in years. It was interesting to see someone you recognized but could not place a name and in other cases, the name came straight back to you. I had the unfortunate distinction of being the oldest person there although many others were not that far behind. As I surveyed the scene trying to recall the names of the many men gathered there, I was struck by the fact that  the passage of time had not been kind to some of them. In some cases, it was hard to recognize them as their faces had grown old and their bodies had shrunk with the passing of time. I compared them now to when they were playing all much younger healthier and vibrant men and bemoaned that the passing of time is so cruel. Many of the men were still playing albeit in the Over 50 division and at a much slower pace but they still enjoyed the game and the company of their fellow players.  Team sports and football in particular does that for you.

The evening ended following a procession of speakers who made their way up to the mic to relay what Phil had done for them in their lives. Everyone spoke in glowing terms of his different exploits both on and off the soccer fields recalling memories of Soccer Camps of long ago, notable games against teams long gone and of the players who have passed on. All in all, the evening was a huge success for those of us lucky to attend to honor a very dear friend for his outstanding soccer accomplishments.

Written 8/13/2018