The Day From Hell

I just got back from a great vacation in Greece, which I will share later, and meant to get this post off before I left.  Hurricane Irma swept through our state four days before we left, and it reminded me of the last time we got on a plane.  We had some really rotten luck for the better part of the last year, and part of the reason we went on this trip to Greece is as a reward from what happened and our marriage actually surviving the very shitty months that followed.

We had multiple plumbing disasters.  On August 25, 2016 our sewer line broke under our house in multiple places.  It was the old Florida standard cast iron plumbing system.  It broke in three sections and we had plumbers tunnel 47 feet under the house to remove the old pipes and put new PVC plumbing in.  This is not a quick or easy job.  It involves several men digging a 3’x 3’ x 47’ tunnel BY HAND.  It took six weeks and during that time, we couldn’t flush a scrap of toilet paper down our drains. Oh, and our homeowner’s insurance refused to reimburse us which cost $25,000. So on to the point of this story…

On October 28, 2016 we were scheduled to fly up to Rochester at 2:00PM to see my husband’s family for a week.  He was on shift the night before, and didn’t get home until 8AM.  I was woken up at 2AM by the dog that was having major back issues (old beagle).  So, from 2AM on I was up with the dog, who was going to be boarded for a week, while he struggled with back spasms.  I called my vet right when they opened at 8:00, and I was told they were really busy and I should drop him off.  They would “try” to see him before 10:00AM.  What could I do?  I dropped the dog off.  I came home and started pulling our coats out of the guest closet, looked down for some odd reason, and I see the carpet on the floor of the closet is completely black and soaking wet.  Black mold.  Great!  At 9AM we call the plumber out again, who will try to get to us as soon as he can.  In the meantime, we start pulling everything out of the closet.  Everything on the floor is ruined – things that can’t easily be replaced like old photos or the beautiful Italian leather tote I purchased in Venice.  The plumber comes at about 10AM and thinks that the toilet on the other side of the closet wall isn’t seated properly and leaking.  He pulls the toilet out and it’s perfect.  So the leak is coming from another plumbing source.  We still haven’t heard from the vet and its now about 11:00AM.  We need to leave in 90 minutes to go to the airport.

(If this were a play, this would be an “aside”:  there’s a reason I am specific about the dates.  First plumbing issue started on August 25 and took six weeks to fix.  Second plumbing issue happened on or before October 28.  So, we had maybe a two week break between issues.  I’m not proud of this and am glad this is an anonymous blog but on the advice of our plumber, we poured a gallon of bleach on the floor of the closet, sealed it with 4mm plastic sheeting, and carried on with our plans to go out of town.  Turned out, this issue was a break in our incoming water line and it destroyed our house.  An extra few days didn’t matter – it was already destroyed by the point we found it.  Moving on…)

We finally heard from the vet at 1:00PM.  By this time it was too late to catch our flight, so once we figured out the poor dog’s treatment options we scheduled a second flight out at 7:00PM.  My elderly parents drove us to the airport in 5 o’clock traffic and dropped us off.  I should mention that they had spent most of the morning with us helping clean out the closet and waiting to hear about the dog.  We were so relieved to finally be at the airport so we sat down at the bar and ordered a round of drinks.  As we’re sitting there, we start hearing announcements on the loud speaker:  THE AIRPORT IS NOW CLOSED.  Wait, WHAT???  We look around and see people start moving to the gate counters so we asked the people at the table next to us what happened, and they said that a Fedex plane blew up right outside our gate.  I shit you not.  A FEDEX PLANE BLEW UP OUTSIDE OUR GATE.  They had to close the airport because, aside from a plane blowing up, the runway also melted.

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I want to take a minute to give American Airlines a positive plug:  I did not go to the gate counter.  I called the 1-800 number to see about rescheduling our flight, and they had already done it.  They rescheduled us for a 6AM flight the next morning.  We went to baggage claim to see about our bags, and within 30 minutes we had our bags. Yay AA!

I called my parents and bless their hearts they got back on the highway and came and picked us up.  They dropped us off at home, and went on their way.  We unlocked our door.  The power is out.  Again, I shit you not.  The power is out at our house.  I call FPL to notify them, and because there’s been a house fire a few blocks away they had to shut down our grid.  Power is not expected to be on until 10PM.  I can live with that.  10PM rolls by, still no power.  I check FPL again, and now they have no idea when power is expected to be back on.  At this point, all I know is I need to be up by 3:30AM to catch our 6:00 flight.  Oh, and my poor parents are going to drive us to the airport at 4:30AM.  So, I set the alarm on my phone and plug it into the charger just in case the power comes on overnight, take a Xanax, and go to bed.  That’s all I can do.

I wake up on my own at 3:00AM and the power is still off.  I also have a ton of texts from American Airlines about our flight getting rescheduled again, so I go out into the living room to call them and find out what’s going on.  Just as I’m hanging up with them, the power comes back on.  Yay!  Power!  I get up to make a cup of coffee, and our house alarm starts screeching.  At 3AM.  I forgot I set the alarm and I guess it stayed set while the power was off.  The power came back on and my moving around triggered it.  Poor Carlos…I’m laughing as I type this remembering him jumping out of bed in his fighting stance ready to protect the house.  Thankfully, he has a strong heart.

We finally get rescheduled to leave at 1PM the next day.  I guess the runway was still melted at 6AM, and then when it was finally ok to handle planes, we had to be rescheduled so we wouldn’t miss our connecting flight.  So, as you can understand when Irma came through South Florida four days before we were scheduled to go to Greece, we were more than a little nervous.  We will forevermore refer to October 28, 2016 as “That Day From Hell.”

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Everglades Photography Expedition

I am headed to Greece in a couple of weeks, so I took an 8 week photography course that just ended.  My goal was to learn how to use my camera in manual mode rather than always using auto.  I have a Nikon D5300 which, so far, seems to be a pretty decent camera.  It came with an all purpose 18-140mm Nikkor lens, and I purchased a couple of lower priced Nikkor lenses: 10-20mm wide zoom and a 35mm prime.  I just got the wide angle lens, so yesterday I took it out in the Everglades for a test drive.  It wasn’t the greatest day for photography, but here are a few shots:

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A couple of alligators swimming in the canal.  1/1000 sec. f/5.6 20mm ISO100

 

We met up with a couple of alligators in the canal.  I’ve lived here in South Florida since 1995 and have never really seen alligators in the wild.  I can only think of maybe twice outside of the airboat tours.  There were two in this particular canal, and they seemed very used to humans.

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1/400 sec. f/5.6 62mm ISO100

The one above swam right up to us, and as I changed direction to take its photo, it would change direction with me.  This guy pretty much just sat there and waited for his food:

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1/500 sec. f/5.6 18mm ISO100

Basically all we did was drive down I-75 aka Alligator Alley and stop at a parking area to get these photos.  We got back in the car and drove a few miles further up the road and stopped at another parking area.  This area had a TON of giant lubber grasshoppers.  You could not walk or drive without squishing one.  I honestly don’t know how I made it walking around this area because I really don’t like these things.

 

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How many do you see?  1/200 sec. f/5.6 20mm ISO100

These guys would jump in the water and swim across the canals from one area of brush/vegetation to another.  In the picture below, you can see two swimming away from the old alligator on the top left side:

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1/200 sec. f/5 15mm ISO100

I think this is my favorite photo of all the ones I took.  I love the contrast between the green algae on the back of the old alligator and the green lily pads with the black water.  That guy has been around for awhile and lived in some dark places with that algae on his back.

I’d like to try my new lens out again on a sunny day.  It has rained nonstop for the last few days with the tropical depressions that are in the area.  Hopefully this week I’ll make it over to the levee to get some sunset photos over the Everglades.  Until then!

 

I’m Hot

For the third weekend in a row, the AC is broken. God forbid it breaks on a Tuesday at 10AM. First, it broke on Saturday at 4PM. Emergency service was an extra $200. Next, it broke on Sunday at about 11AM. Emergency service was an extra $150. This weekend, it broke at 5:00PM on Friday right before we left to go to Disney. Fuck the emergency service this time. We called and scheduled the appointment for 8:30AM Monday morning, and I’m going to hold the AC guy hostage until the unit is FIXED.

So here I sit on my sofa, home from Disney, and its 83 degrees in my house. I’m hot.

My Aging Parents (Bless their hearts)

Two years and three months ago I moved my parents down to Ft. Lauderdale from Columbia, SC.  They lived in SC for 100% of their adult lives.  It’s been an adjustment for everyone.  For them, because they had to leave everything and everyone they knew behind and adjust to a new, definitely not southern, culture.  For me and my husband, we have to adjust to including them in our daily lives as opposed to just seeing them every six months.  Also, one of the main reasons we moved them down here is because they are getting older and need more support than what my sister or I could provide from where either of us lived.  So my husband and I became what could be considered their caretakers – loosely translated.

There have been a few challenges and fires put out these last twenty seven months, but Tuesday was especially challenging.  Mom called shortly before 9:00AM saying she was taking dad to the ER because he was up all night with stabbing back pain.  I agreed to meet her at the hospital as soon as I could.  I knew it probably wasn’t serious, but this is why we moved them down here.  My mom goes into panic mode and can barely string two thoughts together when something happens to my dad, so she needed the support more than my dad did.  I arrive at the ER about 30 minutes after them, and when I walked into his treatment area I was hit with the overwhelming smell of gasoline and my mom apologizing to all the staff in the room.  They had to stop for gas on the way to the hospital, and in her panic to get to the hospital, she ended up spilling gas all over herself. The back half of the ER now smelled like gasoline.  Truly.  The ER staff sprayed Lysol around our area.  After sitting there for a few hours, she starts to rub her knee and whenever she gets up to see to my dad, she’s gimping.  Come to find out when she spilled that gasoline all over herself, she slipped in the puddle it made on the ground and twisted her leg.  I should mention that she is almost 74 years old.  She already had one knee replaced, and looks like she’s on her way to replacing the other one.

Dad’s fine, by the way.  After 5 hours, a Percocet, two IV injections of Tramadol, a CT, blood work, and urine sample which DID NOT OCCUR IN THE BATHROOM (I am moderately traumatized), we were finally sent on our way with the diagnosis of a strained muscle and lumbar degenerative disc disease.  Next up was the challenge of figuring out how we were going to get my drugged up, in pain, barely able to stand, 200+ pound father to his second floor condo in the independent senior living community.  I was thinking we would use one of the stolen shopping carts kept under the stairs, but I was a little premature in my planning.  I agreed to follow them back to their place and we’d figure it out when we got there.

Well, this is where I go wrong.  Instead of staying behind them and getting off at the same exit they got off at (because its free), I drove a little further to the shorter route exit and got off the highway there.  I’m about 2 miles from their house when I get a call from dad and he garbles something about taking a detour and they’re on Flamingo and he hangs up on me.  OKAY.  I pull into their development and sit and wait and then my mom calls me.  “The van died.  I don’t know what to do, can you tell me how to find a wrecker service.”  I tell her just to call AAA and they’ll send someone but in the meantime, I’m on my way.  “How do I call AAA?” ….. “With the card in dad’s wallet.” …..  I really wasn’t kidding when I said she goes into panic mode and can’t put two thoughts together.

The van died sitting first in the left turn lane at a light at a very busy intersection.  Have I mentioned that it is pouring rain?  Of course it is…its 2:30 PM in the summer in South Florida!  I pull up behind them, get out of my car (in the rain) to go steal cones from the (fortuitous) police sign, and make several trips to place them by our cars so traffic at least knows to go around us (they still honk).  Next up, I have to get dad out of his car and into my car while he is pooped up on Percocet and Tramadol, in horrible pain still, and in the rain.  It’s slow and steady, but we finally accomplish the task.  Mom gets off the phone with AAA, and it’s going to be a one hour wait.  So we wait.  At some point I feel the need to ask why they were at this intersection.  Were they lost since my mom never drives and dad is fucked up?  Did she make a wrong turn?

*sigh*

They were going to the liquor store.  My mother is out of wine.

I don’t really know what else to say at this point.  We sat in the car for an hour and waited for Gerry from Affordable Towing to come pick up the van and take it to the auto shop.  Gerry was super nice and the tow was uneventful.  However when we got to the auto shop we got yelled at by a landscaper who wanted to take a shortcut through the parking lot that we were blocking.  By the time all was said and done, the medicine wore off enough for us to not have to stuff my dad in a shopping cart to get him from the car to his condo.  He was able to use his walker and shuffle in all by himself.  Dad is feeling better.  Mom is now at the doctor for her knee.  And I have had a headache for the last two days from smelling gasoline for 8 hours straight.   This weekend we’re all going to Disney World!

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Back in the saddle

I didn’t realize that this blog was still available for me to write on.  What a pleasant surprise since I’ve had a lot of really random, crazy, stupid shit to happen over the last seven years.  My friend keeps telling me I need to have a blog or an anonymous twitter feed, so here I am.  I just have to figure out how to do it again.

I have a crazy story to share from yesterday so I’m going to type it up on Word and I’ll share it once I figure out again how WordPress works.  In the mean time I leave you with this…

I’ve finally FINALLY settled on a brand of toilet paper and am making a commitment.  Angel-Soft-Tissue-9-Mega-Rolls

Cats Don’t Like Roofers

We are getting a new roof today.  I would say that the flushing sound you hear after that statement is our money going down the toilet, but I guess its not REALLY going down the toilet since a roof is one of those necessary things.  However, insurance isn’t paying for it and we’ve been saving our $20’s (not pennies for this giant expense) for a long time so we could pay for it.  Here in South Florida, a roof aint cheap.  I think its because we have to buy a certain wind rated type of shingle for hurricanes that can withstand being blistered in the sun 350 days a year.  My parents put a shingle roof on their house in SC for 1/4 of the price of what we’re paying.  Anyway, my point is that it sucks writing a check for that much money to buy something that you can’t do anything fun with.   It’s kind of like flushing money down the toilet.

The roofers are up there banging away, and my normally outgoing and vocal cat, Kirby, is no where to be seen.  We’ll see a flash of orange every now and then — like when they started cutting the roof for the ridge vent zooooooooooooooooooooom — but that’s it.  I decided to do a little investigation and this what I found:

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There they are…Fraidy Cat #1 and #2.

The Week in Review

I don’t usually post about what I’ve been up to, but I feel the need to update my blog and I don’t have any creative ramblings at the moment.

Last weekend Dina & I went up to Ohio to visit with Melanie and her family.  We had a great time up there in spite of the really cold weather.  However, it was nice to see snow and we went snow tubing!!  That was such a blast.  Carlos hates to ski or even go to a ski resort, so I’m hoping now with the alternative of snow tubing we’ll be able to take some winter vacations.    I know that he would absolutely love it.  Whenever we go on rides at amusement parks all I hear is him beside me laughing like a little boy.  I know he’d be doing the same thing zooming down the hill on a tube at 40 mph.  Anyway, it was so good to see Mel and meet little Lulu.  I am glad that we were up there for 20 degree weather rather than 0 degree weather like this weekend, though.

On Tuesday mom had her knee replacement surgery.  I feel bad for her…that is a really traumatic surgery for someone’s body.  She has had a great attitude throughout the recovery process, and I feel like she should be on her feet again like normal very soon.  The hospital let her go home a day early so that is a positive sign.

I’m still sticking with my New Year’s resolution and using it as a motto for daily living and minding my own business.  I feel like people try to interject their issues into my life and I just don’t want anything to do with it.  I have a life of my own and with my husband.  He is my best friend, and I would much rather spend my time with him than anyone else.   When I am not busy with work or school, then he is my focus.

So anyway, maybe a little venting is included in this post 😉

TTFN