Sunday, July 24, 2016

Sad Story About a New House

My son-in-law's parents recently sold their home and bought a smaller home that was under construction. It was still early enough in the construction that they, or rather SIL's mother, could pick out the flooring, counters, and all the accessories. She chose wood flooring in all the public areas and carpet in the bedrooms.

She opted for a high end Roomba vacuum rather than a whole house vacuum system so it would do the cleaning while she was at work. If you've ever seen a Roomba in action, you know they cover every square inch of every room, even under the bed where most vacuums don't reach. Plus they have a dirt sensor so can go over dirty areas more than once.

They had to move into a rental for a few months and sold most of their furniture rather than store it, and most of it wouldn't work in the new house anyway. So when they moved into the new house, they had new everything, and she was thrilled to pieces every time she came home from work to a clean house with that new house smell.

That is, until one day when she came home from work to find that the Roomba had run over a fresh pile of dog poo and tracked it into every room of the house. Every square inch.

True story.

Linking to Silly Sunday at Comedy Plus.

Friday, July 22, 2016

National Parks on the Air

National Parks on the Air is to ham radio operators what Pokemon Go is to gamers. That's the best analogy I can come up with.

On our recent vacation, Hubby (who is a ham radio operator aka ham), wanted to do some activations. That means that he wanted to set up a radio at some approved national locations and see how many other ham radio operators he could talk to in a short amount of time. I was okay with that. He's certainly done his share of quilt shows and photography stops. So I told him I would help if he needed it. Turns out he did because his computer, where he usually logs his contacts, interfered with his radio. So I logged his contacts by hand. That sounded easy enough. I can write, and pretty fast too. But it wasn't quite that easy.

To begin my story, let me set the scene. It was a pleasant day with temperatures in the mid 80's, and a fine, steady rain. The location he wanted to activate was the beginning of the Santa Fe trail, and once we decided that a little gravel parking site and a little monument was actually THE site, we pulled in to the parking area so Hubby could set up his antenna. The rules state that you have to be within so many feet of the monument, and since we were also pulling our travel trailer, we were fairly limited where we could park. Notice the power lines in the picture below? That's where the fun began.

Once Hubby had his antenna mounted on the hood of the pickup, he set up his radio on the center console and we got into the back seat so we could have room to move. Hubby began looking for an open frequency (I think I got that right) but all I could hear was static. When I'm in the office with Hubby, I usually think the noise coming from the radio sounds more like sounds over a transistor radio (if you are old enough to remember those), but this was worse. Hubby said it was the electric lines overhead. Horrible place to set up a ham antenna. The running pickup and his laptop were making the static worse, so he turned them off and he said that made a difference. Still sounded like static to me. Hubby called some ham friends who were at their home computer and they helped him find an open line to transmit on and they posted it to a facebook page that is just for National Parks on the Air. Hubby began calling CQ on that open line and finally we heard something over the static that sounded like it might be someone saying their call sign. Or it could have been a different level of static. Hard to tell. Somehow, Hubby managed to pick out a few letters of their call sign and asked them to repeat it until he understood it, and then Hubby would repeat it so I could write it down along with the time and how good their signal was. This went on for about twenty minutes and then more of them began calling to Hubby. I guess they saw our friends' post on the facebook page.

I couldn't understand anything they were saying. All I knew is that with the heat of the radio, Hubby shouting his call over and over, the windows rolled up, and no air conditioning, it was getting pretty steamy in there. After another ten minutes of rapid fire calls and jotting down letters and numbers only Hubby could hear, and with sweat streaming down my neck, back and everywhere else, I told Hubby he was going to have to roll down a window. "Now?" he asked in disbelief. "Yes, now," I said. "It's a sauna in here and I can't breathe."

So he jumped out of the pickup - in the rain - got into the front seat, and stuck the key in the ignition. He lowered the driver's window about two inches and without looking back, lowered my window about a half inch. Then he jumped out of the pickup, jerked the backseat door open and jumped in before I had a chance to stop him. So I pointed to my window and said, "Really?" He reached over the seat this time, put the key in the ignition and told me to roll it down as much as I wanted. I pressed the button and nothing happened. Nothing happened because Hubby has this habit of using the driver's door handle as an arm rest, and that's where all the window buttons are located, including the one that keeps everyone else from being able to open or close their window.

By then, Hubby was CQ-ing again, and was none too happy when I told him he had locked my window button and I couldn't roll down the window. So he lunged out of the pickup again, jerked open the front door and turned on the button, slammed it shut and jumped back in the back seat, dripping wet because the nice, pleasant light rain had turned into a heavy rain. He picked up his microphone, turned to me, and asked through clenched teeth, "Anything else?" "No, I'm good," I replied cheerfully, "CQ away."

Then an ear-splitting squeal joined the static and I could no longer hear those sounds that I thought might be another voice. But Hubby kept picking out a letter here and there and got a few more contacts in the next thirty minutes, and then he too decided the conditions were just too bad to continue. As if they hadn't been bad all along.

That experience was enough for me to wonder why anyone wanted to spend time trying to talk on a short wave radio. But for some reason, trying to hear other people shout numbers and letters makes Hubby happy, so I was willing to do the next NPOTA activation with him, and hoped it wasn't raining and that we weren't parked under power lines.

We were a little late getting away from the RV park and Google map showed the next activation quite a ways from the highway we were on. We wanted to eat dinner with our daughter and her two foster kids at the next campground, so Hubby groused that he would just not do that activation. But after the last fiasco, I thought he needed to do it and talked him into going to the next one. The signs on the highway said it wasn't far away.

As it turned out, it was just a few miles off the highway. It was at a Civil War battlefield, and they had a nice, big, paved, parking lot. The skies were cloudy, but not raining, and there was a cool breeze blowing through our completely rolled down windows. This time, there was no static and even I could clearly hear the call signs unless they talked too fast. I logged onto facebook while Hubby found a frequency and within seconds of posting it online, we had people calling. Hubby described it as a tidal wave of calls and said it was a real adrenaline rush. This time I had trouble keeping up with the logging as Hubby went quickly from one call to the next, and finally, after I filled up several pages, he announced that he would take two more calls and then we had to move on. People clamored to be picked so Hubby took several more calls before he quit. If I understand it right, everyone who calls and gets through to the ham doing a NPOTA activation also gets points, and this particular site hadn't been activated very much, so a lot of people wanted the contact.

As we drove away, I asked Hubby if he was glad we stopped for this, and he said doing this one made it all worthwhile. Since I feel that way about getting the perfect photograph, I can totally understand. But I still can't understand calls signs when people say them fast. So slow down you guys! Next time, I will be ready.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Galveston, Oh Galveston

Now where was I?

Oh yes, I had been talking about the changes in our lives. I stopped posting because I didn't want to be one of those bloggers who moan and whine about their health, their mothers-in-law, and their poor lot in life. Well, maybe I want to moan and whine about my mother-in-law a little. *smirk* I thought my life changed at 50, but at 60, it just fell apart. But I think we are mostly back on track and looking forward to the future, whatever that may be.

After four months of worrying that I would soon be blind, I had another retina tear. In my good eye. The one the doctor said had pigment around the thin spots that would protect them from tears. Guess he was wrong. So anyway, as soon as he told me I needed another surgery, I started crying and he asked why, since it wasn't a bad tear. So I asked him how many tears before the scars from them made me blind. He stepped back in surprise and said I wouldn't go blind from the tears, no matter how many, because they are on the outer edge of the retina. I had been holding this worry for so long that once the tears started, I couldn't turn them off. This doctor is good, but he isn't good at explaining what is going on. I could have used a lot more information at the beginning of this.

So anyway, I've been pulling myself out of the hole I was in, and we started getting the house ready to sell. Plus I had a trip planned with my girlfriends, and Hubby and I had planned a vacation right after that. Not much time for blogging with all that going on. Hubby probably wouldn't be too pleased to see me here typing right now instead of painting something, but I'm waiting for a phone call so I thought I'd make a quick post. Seems I can't do a quick post. But I'm going to end now because the microwave just beeped that my tv dinner is ready. Trying to eat everything in the freezer has been interesting, to say the least. I didn't even know there were tv dinners in there. I probably should have looked at the expiration date on this one. Looks like something .... yellow.

Here is the house we rented for our girlfriends' trip. About a block from the beach. And sunrise at the beach.

Linking to image-in-ing although I am anything but wordless today.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Stop Me If You've Heard This

I haven't been posting much lately, in case you haven't noticed. I also haven't been sharing much, not because nothing is going on, but because so much has been going on.

At the end of February, I had a retina tear and laser surgery to repair it. If you are a regular reader, you already know that, and that the retina specialist told me I am high risk for more tears. But, he said everything looked good at my one month exam, so we breathed a huge sigh of relief and prepared to get on with our lives. Then, just a couple of weeks later, I started having a lot of flashes in that eye. So the next morning, it was back to the retina center. My usual doctor wasn't in that day, but the doctor I saw said that there was scarring growing over my retina, called a macular pucker, and it was pulling on my retina. He said that sometimes happens after laser surgery, but sometimes it stops on its own, and if not, there was a surgery to remove it. But he wanted me to wait three more weeks to see if it would stop.

Sounds simple, right? The assistant gave me a brochure that described the procedure. Basically, they drain the vitreous fluid from the eye, peel the scarring from the retina and then refill the eye with saline. And of course, there is an increased risk of retina detachment during the procedure. And that is for normal people. I'm already high risk so it was going to be a very risky surgery. I was scared to death, and anxiously waited out the next three weeks before seeing my regular doctor. And I prayed. A lot. I think there was some begging going on too. I didn't tell anyone except my best friends from high school, and my mom of course. Hubby knew because he went in with me and he lost sleep worrying with me.

At the appointment, my doctor said the scarring had not not spread much in the last three weeks. He didn't know if it stopped or just slowed, but said for now, he doesn't recommend surgery.  He said he will leave it to me to see if I have surgery later.  I blurted out that no! I didn't want to have the surgery.  He smiled and said no, that he will leave it to my eye to determine if I have to have surgery later.  Drats!

The scarring that is there causes lines to look wavy, printed letters run together a little, and little dark objects on other dark objects are impossible to tell apart. Little dark objects like fire ants in dirt. I used to be able to see them on the ground to know where to step or where NOT to put my hand when pulling weeds, and now I can't see them until they are on my hand. And if you know fire ants, you know that that is just too late. Hand sewing is also difficult, especially on black or dark fabric. The work I've done lately probably doesn't look very good, but hey, I can't see it so it doesn't bother me.

So that's one big thing. The other is that Hubby changed jobs. Same company, just different division. He had been after this job for several months and was beginning to lose hope, but then they finally decided to fill it and Hubby was their first choice before they even started interviewing. He just started this month and has been doing a lot of overtime with paperwork and training, but it should get easier in a few months. There's a learning curve with every new job but he's anxious to start producing. With this job, he works from home and doesn't have to report in to any one place every day. His territory is mainly the entire metroplex area but also includes everything one hundred miles in every direction.

Those two events have made us evaluate our lives and our future. We are at the age where friends and relatives have had heart attacks and strokes, and when that happens, we always talk about some of the stuff we want to do someday while we are still able: traveling, developing a hobby, clearing the clutter, or whatever is on our minds at the time. And while there is nothing life-threatening in our lives at the moment, my eye scare made us realize that someday is now. None of us know how much time we have left, or what the quality of life will be like next year or even next month.

One thing we have always wanted to do is downsize into a house that is as maintenance free as possible and easy to close up and leave for weeks at a time. We finally decided that we are ready to sell our house and do just that. We were thinking we'd find three or four acres within thirty to fifty miles of the metroplex, and build a barndominium, or rather an rvdominium. Since Hubby isn't tied to any particular place now, we could move anywhere around the perimenter, and we thought it would be great to move north of Dallas in the Gainesville area. Then the reality of commuting in North Dallas traffic set in, and we decided that living in this area will be much less stressful, not to mention cheaper. Plus, Hubby's mother lives here and our moving would probably mean moving her too and that would be really difficult.

I always thought I would be jumping for joy and running to the car, bags in hand, if we ever agreed on when and where we wanted to move. I disliked this house from the moment we moved in - until about three years ago when we added the bright and sunny dining room and courtyard. Doing that freed space for my sewing space, and Hubby had his radio space, and suddenly, I started liking this house. Then we painted the exterior and for the first time I thought this house was actually pretty. Then, we had a couple of odd characters knocking on doors in the neighborhood, and we formed a new neighborhood watch group, and started having block parties, and ladies' game night. Now, I'm really torn about leaving. We'll still move if we can find the right place, but I'll miss this house, all the work we've put into it, and all of our great neighbors.

We've been warned that rental houses are hard to find, have long leases, and are more expensive than a house payment, so the plan is to buy some land first, and then build the shell of our rvdominium before selling this house. Then, if we have to, we can move into our travel trailer while we finish the house there. That is the last resort, the very last resort. I'm afraid that living in a twenty-one foot trailer with no counter space, very little closet space, and a dinky little bathroom will push us to our limits.

So wish us luck, pray for us if you choose, and we'll see what happens. The good thing is that I know we'll be happy now whether we move or stay.