Hello New World

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I have a valid excuse this time. My entire world has been just turned upside down. And while you think that may be an exaggeration, consider this: my beautiful ’88 Toyota 4Runner has problems so epic that an engine, wiring, and computer change didn’t fix them and have been ordered to give up on the ‘ol girl as a daily driver. I don’t want any other vehicle, nor can I afford a decently new and reliable one. Uncertainty nags at my sanity.  My professional editing software, Final Cut Pro, has been consumerized. Though I can still edit on it for now, I will soon need to convert to something else – and I am unsatisfied with prosumer choices and stodgy old-fart industry standards. My professional tool of choice is gone. My Tuesday night Zum-Belly dance class has as of last night, disbanded. The fitness club where it was held is going out of business. My weekly dose of fun, stress relief is gone. Work has been chaotic in a way that I can’t even describe. I continue to bust my butt. Meanwhile, life with one or one and one borrowed vehicle is no fun. Mike is sick of the breakdowns and the diagnosis. He’s sick of working late nights weeks on end, months on end, now close to a year on the complex MG project. He bought a new motorcycle and I can’t deny he deserves it for all the hard work. His old one has yet to be officially sold, though promises are asserted weekly. I stress about money while at the same time continue to move forward. We took a trip to Chicago and forgot about the world for a weekend – spent a boatload – came back to the same problems and minus money. It was infamously worth it. I feel like we hadn’t spent more then a half hour together watching the weather channel. I barely see my friends. I barely have time for things like Halloween party invites and piano practice. I barely have time for sleep. I’ve probably gained some weight, what with my hand in the candy dish three times a day. This all started with Hurricane Irene. That devil knocked out more then our power, I think. It’s all been a swift downhill since then.

We had a second hurricane scare not a week after Irene. Mike was so petrified of losing the garage that he took down the giant tree on the hill above it. It was more then a little scary. He tied it off with a tree and a rope and chain hooked into the truck, then began cutting in. The wind was against him. One wrong gust and the massive trunk would obliterate the garage and its contents. Mike frantically signalled to our neighbor, who was in the truck’s driver’s seat, and he hit the gas. A lucky break with a gust of wind in the right direction – the tree fell to the back, safely. We lost one beam on the playset, which Mike replaced within the same week. In the same time, he brought home a chipper and ate through all the branches. We still have the trunk laying down there today and Mike hopes to fashion a bench from it. (I have my doubts, he’s no woodworker. No hurt to try though.) The rest of the wood, (from the other tree that came down in the storm) was packed up and delivered to a friend of ours with a fireplace. He was very appreciative.

Tree Chain
Truck hooked up, Tree ready to fall

Tree Falling

Tree Down

Top of Tree in Playset

Truck of Tree

Log Mess

Branch Mess

Truck o Logs

Hill looking weird without the tree there
The weekend after that we lost ourselves in more yard work. I had a 50% off a tree coupon at Morrisons, so this time we picked out a Fuji apple tree for the backyard and a flowering shrub. (25% off the shrub.) The tree, the shrub, and soil for both totalled up under $100 and we were both extremely satisfied. We planted both that afternoon. After that, I went crazy pulling out vines and weeds both dead and alive in the area where we took down the tree the previous week. (We’ll need to do something about the stump, maybe a chair or something?) That area is looking so much better, but will still need more help with additional plantings and… dare I say it, grass?
While I was weeding away, Mike used up the rest of our porch stain on Mikey’s playset. It will need another coat, but for now, looking great. We ordered the canopy and new swing brackets, which should be in soon.

New Apple Tree, Shrub behind to left

Newly Fixed and now Red Playset
 And speaking of ordering, we finally ordered a new shed for our trash cans. You may recall that we’ve been having nightly run-ins with a giant racoon, who freqents our busted trash hut and chows down on our delicious garbage. This thing is huge. At my first encounter, I thought it was a sweatshirt. The door to our current, homemade trash hut has long since fallen off its hinges, and this big boy (or girl) has been eating like a king (or queen) ever since. The new shed is a simple, modest Rubbermaid model big enough to hold a couple of trash cans. I’ll miss all the extra cardboard box storage of the old trash hut, but it’s a small price to pay to keep out the coons. I can’t wait until it arrives so we can take the old one to the dump – along with a bunch of other items that have been awaiting a big dump run.

So, with another week coming to an end I have to reflect on everything as a whole. On the one hand, things are just terrible. The 4Runner, the FCP, the Zum-belly, the work, the money, the MG, the late nights, the sleeplessness and timelessness… And on the other hand, new plantings, new stain, new trash hut.... weekends ignoring and procrastinating the inevitable…. Yeah, things still kinda suck.

Electrical Aftermath

Hurricane Irene. You may remember my last post - dated the day after the hurricane. Well, little did I know what fun and exciting horrors were yet to come. Bottom line - we were powerless for over 6 days with a 2 year old with the stomach flu. If that's not bad enough, we were powerless over three days longer then any of our neighbors... and we're the only ones in the area with a small child.

A branch knocked off our power line from the pole to our house.

This pic, taken during the hurricane shows the branch there behind the lilac bush... and the line, right below it on the ground in the right of the photo.

Here's what it did to our electrical box - ripped it nearly off the house.

And this is what caused all the problems. We first reported the down line as soon as it happend. When we lost power several hours later, we called again and reported that. No big shake - the entire area was out of power. Then, the days went by. On day one, the milk went bad, Mikey was throwing up, and we were out of hot water. Mike went down to Brewster where they had power (Brewster had power? They never have power! But they did this time!) and he borrowed a generator. (We own a generator of course, a super huge one... it was broken at the time.)

It was all downhill from there. Day two, I took some pukey clothes and laundry into work so my co-worker could wash them for me. Mikey was still sick. We ate a strange mix of things prepared on the grill. But in the evening of day two, around 11pm, Nstar rolled up. We were both in bed, but upon hearing the truck, Mike jumped up and began putting on his clothes to go and talk to them. By the time he was halfway down the stairs, they were pulling away - gone. We wondered what that had been all about. The power was still out and the line was still down.

On day three, Mike took a turn taking laundry down to Brewster. Mikey was starting to improve. Mike took him to the Dr. just in case. And sometime that day, the rest of the neighborhood got power back. Mike called Nstar and was informed that the truck that had visited us previously had cut our line so they could safely turn on power to everyone else. We were completely cut off.

Day four and still no power. I called Nstar and after describing what was going on with the torn out electrical box, the associate told me I'd probably have to have an electrician come out and fix it before they could turn the power back on. Mike said, "screw that!" and went out and re-attached the box to the house himself.

Day five, I called Nstar again in the morning and they said they'd have the power on the next day by noon. Mikey was well enough to go to school. Things were looking up. But when we got home that evening, our neighbor warned us that they still might not hook up the power with the box as it was. Mike called our electrician. He said he'd try to come out the next day to check things out. That evening, in desperation, we brought up an old TV/VCR from the basement, hooked it up to the generator, and watched the muppet show on VHS.

Day 6 was Saturday. Mikey and I waited at home for the electrician. It was getting close to noon and we hadn't seen Nstar either. I texted Mike and asked him to call again. We were both very angry and frustrated at this point. Mike called me back almost immediately, "hey, I've got Nstar on the other line and they say the job is completed...."

I was livid. "No, I was just outside and the wires are still on the ground."

Yup, it had somehow been marked completed in the computer system. Mike threw a fit and they promised to have it on by 7pm that evening. We would not wait until after labor day - another three days. No way. The electrician called sometime after, he had gotten jammed up and couldn't come. We sent him a photo of the box hookup and he said we should be ok - they would turn us on.

But 7pm rolled around fast and still no Nstar. As soon as the clock hit 7, Mike hit the phone again. This time, he was even less polite, especially when he found out that the job had been marked completed - again. This time, the supervisor promised to have it on by sometime that night. Additionally, Mike demanded they send someone out to take down the tree. They promised they would send an arborist sometime soon.

Around 9pm, they finally came. And they sent two trucks!

We were ecstatic. Mike ran out with his flashlight to give them a hand. The minute the guys saw the old wires, they flipped out. "These are so old, they must be the first wires used to connect this house to the pole whenever it was first wired for electricity," they said. Remember, this house was built in 1910. Woe. Seriously overdue for an upgrade, don't you think?

The electric dudes hooked us up with all new wires and turned us back on. Mike offered them a tip, but they refused to take it. They did hook him up with some killer electrical tape, which he was geeking out over for the rest of the night.

And finally, all returned to somewhat normal. Our electrician will come visit as soon as he can to make sure everything is electrically normal too. I'm going to keep on Nstar about that arborist. Expect another call in a few more weeks!