Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When It Rains, It Pours

Recently, we discovered that our 15 year old dishwasher is beginning to leak. We put a towel under it, continue to run it once a day, and purchased a new dishwasher that is sitting in the dining room in the box waiting to be installed. Why is it waiting to be installed? Because the shut-off valve to the dishwasher hasn't been used in 15 years and is frozen shut and needs to be replaced first. Of course, Steve wants to do this himself -- it's not that hard a job and a plumber will charge a fortune. He needs a new tool for the job, though....

In the meantime... I was out to dinner with some friends a couple of weeks ago and mentioned how we were thinking about a new type of water heater because ours is 15 years old and it's rated for about 10 years. I was promptly chastised by my friends for living with the old water heater on borrowed time. This is a disaster waiting to happen! Well, a couple of days before Christmas we discovered that there's a small leak in our water heater. So now Steve is scrambling to figure out what new water heater we will and can get before this one completely blows. (We'd like to get a super-efficient one -- even if the cost doesn't justify the payback, we feel that someone needs to start creating demand for environmentally friendly products or they'll never become commonplace!) But getting plumbers to call back, give quotes, and find non-standard water heaters during the holidays is frustrating, to say the least.

So, every night before we go to bed and any time we go out of the house for an extended period of time, we shut off the water supply to the water heater. (If it does fail, the most that would get on the floor is what's in the tank.) Oh, and we used to run the dishwasher every night when we went to bed because the old one is so noisy. But I don't want to run it without hot water... so I'm constantly looking for a time when I can run it and it's thrown off our dish usage habits!

I sure hope that the water heater doesn't fail next week when Steve's away! There's a plumber coming Monday, just to see if it's possible to install a direct-vent water heater. Then it could be 3 more weeks before we could get our hands on one of these models. Cross your fingers, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter Wonderland

In Friday's storm we got about 8 inches. I had to run the snowblower at midnight to clear out enough of the driveway for Steve to get in. (He had to drive home from JFK because US Airways diverted his flight home there and then cancelled it. Now there saying that they successfully completed his flight! Nothing like a good fight with an airline. And then Steve rented car with 2 guys in his row and drove back to Logan. Think, "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.") In yesterday's storm we got another 12 inches. It stopped snowing around 9pm, so Steve was able to completely clear the driveway before we went to bed. Bummer there still wasn't any school today!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Survey

I got this from a friend's blog and thought I'd post my answers here:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both... whatever works best. I usually buy wrapping paper and reuse gift bags that have been given to me.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real
3. When do you put up the tree? Usually a week or 2 after Thanksgiving, but if we're too busy, it might go up right before Christmas.
4. When do you take the tree down? Jan 6, or as close to it as the tree pick-up schedule will allow. (12 days of Christmas, remember?)
5. Do you like eggnog? Yum! But these days I only drink Silk Nog when I can find it.
6. Favorite gift received ever? I can't remember... brain cells gone...
7. Hardest person to buy for? Mostly Steve. He's always so particular about what he likes, usually he just has to tell me what he wants. This year he even shopped for the best price and said, "Buy it today because the sale is over at midnight." It's a really nice gift, though!
8. Easiest person to buy for? Kids.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? No. Someday I might like to get one because it's a really cool piece of art, though.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? mail
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? The year Santa brought my sister a baton in her stocking and my "comparable" gift was a toy broom. I was convinced that Santa mixed up my sister's and my stockings, but there wasn't anything I could do about it.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story with Jean Shepherd. "You'll shoot your eye out, kid."
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? varies, usually around Thanksgiving
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don't think so.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies.
16. Lights on the tree? I've always prefered white (lots), not blinking, at most, twinkling. These days I'm more sold on colored lights. But I really do hate when they blink in patterns.
17. Favorite Christmas song? The "putting up the lights" version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"
18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? Travelling to local relatives (then I don't have to clean, but I don't have to sleep away from home.)
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Yes.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Star, but I have an angel that I made a long time ago that I hope to re-use someday.
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? morning
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Crowds at the stores
23. What theme or color are you using? Theme... I'm supposed to have a theme? It's whatever minimal decorations are in the boxes from the attic.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Whatever, I'm easy.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Happy, excited children on Christmas morning.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

How Bad Could a Little Frozen Rain Be?

Last Thursday night and early Friday morning we had an ice storm here. I had no idea what we were in for, but before I went to bed, I kept hearing "CRACK, crash, crash, crash!" in the back yard. (It was really freaky to hear so much going on in woods and not being able to see it!) This went on all night long. In the morning we were treated to this:

We were also treated to a 7 am phone automated phone call from the town declaring a state of emergency and closed schools. We were planning on leaving for my cousin's wedding in NJ that morning at 10, but delayed until noon, mostly just to give some time for roads to be cleared of tree limbs and such. (Well, and to finish packing, too....) We had no trouble getting out and were gone until 11:30 pm Sunday night. That's when I found out that our town was essentially entirely without power on Friday (except for small areas, including where we are) and many areas are still without power now (Tuesday night) and one of the schools is still acting as a shelter.

I find it so amazing that a bunch of rain at the wrong temperature can cause so much damage and chaos. So many perfectly healthy trees in our back yard suffered the loss of so many limbs. Most of the limbs fell, but many of them are just hanging with no clear indication of when they may fall. I imagine that everyone around here needs to be careful in any wooded area for a while, because there may be unintentional booby traps!

Thankfully, the weather warmed up the past couple of days, so people were able to get out and clean up without freezing, but tonight we have snow forecast, and they cancelled school again tomorrow....