Time


DSC_2687I have a conflicting mind
worrying about a different kind
and looking for a sign
maybe that should plural be
as more than one as you will see
that bother me
my body it is slowing down
with creaks and groans that I have found
are all around
my brain it no longer works so fast
it takes its time even to the last
to remember the past
yet even with these flaws in me
living is still my priority
as there is still lots to see
to all of you that are growing old
struggle on for I am told
the end is cold
better to be half a man
enjoying life as best we can
than let the glass run out of sand
turning back the hands of time
to an age much more sublime
that only I can find.

Written 9/26/2018

 

Texas Heat and Laziness?


DSC_1825 

With the temperatures finally cooling down here in my part of Texas, you would think that I would be chomping at the bit to get out on the trails or outside in the garden. After all, the 100 degree heat lasted almost 3 months of which, I spent a great deal of time indoors in the air conditioning, only venturing out when the larder got low and needed restocking. I haven’t been out on the trails since my last hike at McKinney Roughs way back on June 8, 2018 and have only done enough in the yard and ponds to keep things running with the very occasional trimming to keep the paths clear.

Somehow though, I have gotten used to the lazy life of sitting around and even though the high temperature is only around 90 degrees on the hot days and getting cooler all of the time, I still find myself sitting in front of my computer looking out of the window at the yard instead of going out and getting stuck into all of the work that needs to be done. I suppose I can blame some of that on my increasing years but if I want to live for a few more of them, I need to bite the bullet and just go and get after it. I do have the excuse that my shoulder is sore, the one that I managed to wrench when I was loading the coins into the truck and I am going to Physical Therapy for it. I also joined a new gym just a couple of miles up the road from me but I am using the the same wrenched shoulder as an excuse for not working out. That’s even worse as the gym as you can imagine, has a brand new, state of the art cooling system.

What will it take for me to get of my arse, which, if I am not careful will start to grow to a much larger size unless I can convince my brain that I need the exercise. In truth, it is a mental problem more than a physical one as I feel fit enough. On the positive side, I know that I will overcome my mind and get outside and do what I do best and that is hard work as I have all of my life. As the temperature cools down even more, I will start working out and going on that hike? Honest, I will…

Such are the quandaries that I find myself in at this time of my life and what the Texas heat can do to a man…

Written 9/25/2018

A Blank Screen…


beeStaring here at an empty screen
desperately searching for a theme
of something to interest my empty thoughts
something to write where their currently is nought
I really should be working outside
but the temperature is way to high
to spend time on just the trivial things
the important ones have already been seen
done early in the morning before it’s too hot
before the thermometer has climbed a lot
close to one hundred degrees in the sun
and the work outside has been done
Texas summers are a brutal thing
and go on forever or so it seems
and for those that spend their days outside
their work goes on just as decried
me, I am no longer in demand
retired from work just as I had planned.

Written 8/15/2018

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

Is It Over?


beeWho would believe that to write about the weather other than any extremes, is blogworthy. Yet, here I am just picking away with my superfast two finger typing, what we in Texas decide is really newsworthy and that is that it has gotten a little cooler.

With any luck, we may be over our hot weather for the year. These past few days, the temperature has failed to reach the 100 degree mark albeit only by a couple of degrees but at least psychologically, it feels cooler. And, today, it is raining. Not a fully socked in real gully washer but at least an odd cloud here and there that is dumping rain on us in a steady drizzle. We’ll take it any way we can. What is more, the temperature has only reached 80 degrees and that’s at 2:00 pm in the afternoon. It is forecast to reach 97 degrees but it may not get anywhere near that high especially if it continues to rain.

As tough as we claim to be, eventually continuous 100 degree weather gets to even the most hardened of us. Even the native Texans, the ones who wear those big hats, get more than a little tired of the heat and are glad to see it cool down. I for one am especially glad as I have done very little outdoors over these past two months. My garden needs trimming and I have a couple of projects that I want to complete this fall. Nothing major but still needing my attention and not to mention that I haven’t been on a hike in two and a half months at least. If the Parks and the Trails have not missed me, I sure as heck have missed them.

I did get in the big pond the other day to join the fish in their habitat, not for their company but because I needed to work on a couple of the installations like a fish fountain and an in-pond filter system. I finished the fish fountain and it is working just fine but the filter system still needs some work. Still, I don’t mind that work as I am standing in the pond where it is pretty cool at least compared to the outside temperatures.

The only good thing that has come out of all of this heat and me staying indoors is that I have written enough blogs to take me through mid October at three a week and I know of at least two more that I will need to fit in with the Austin Pond Society meetings for October and November. Hopefully, I have not bored my few readers too much with my odd selection of subjects over these past couple of months.

Well, it has stopped raining, with any luck only temporarily, as we could sure use a lot more. As I have written in previous blogs, my garden is pretty much all native plants. I have not watered it at all this summer and although some of the plants are looking a bit heat weary, most of them are holding up well. When our one or two day winter arrives, the frost will knock down all of the remaining growth and I will have to spend a couple of days cleaning it up ready for the start of the new season. But that is next year…

Written 9/3/2018

Finally, Rain…


Rainy Day on the Coast

Rainy Day on the Coast

Finally, we got some rain here in my part of Texas. A little more than 2 inches of a steady downpour. Not enough to flood but a nice gentle rain that the hungry soil greedily soaked up with very little run off.

I walked around the garden the next day and was totally amazed at how quickly everything that a couple of days ago was really sorry looking and drooping like it was on its last legs, had recovered. Nature is so amazing and so resilient and it helps that I have all native plants in my garden. The reason for the rain was the most recent Tropical Storm named Gordon off the coast of Mississippi that managed to dump enough rain to make it a very welcome guest. Today the high temperature so far has only reached 92 with yesterday’s high the same. Maybe, just maybe we are all through with the 100 degree days of the past few weeks. So far this year, 2018, Austin has seen 49 days of 100 degree heat a long cry from 2011 when there were 90 days of it. Incidentally, this is the first year that I did not hook up the soaker hose system mainly to see what the end result would be without it. The only watering was to the plants in containers on the deck.

As you can imagine, not only is 100 degrees bloody hot, it is also very tiring and difficult to work outside especially for us older folks. Back in the day, when I was a lot younger, I worked Construction  when I first arrived in Texas and even though it was very hot, it didn’t bother me as much as it does now I am an old fart. I have spent these past few weeks indoors working on my blogs and a couple of other indoor projects and attending to the ponds early in the mornings. I have managed to put together a whole list of projects that I need to do and would normally have been done if not for the heat. These I will work on as soon as it cools to around 90 degrees and lower. Needless to say, I have not even thought about going hiking and as tough of an old bird that I am, even I would probably pass out in the heat.

These are the joys of living in the Lone Star State. At least we don’t get much of a winter which almost makes up for the heat.

Written 9/5/2018