Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I really would prefer...

...for the cold to have waited a bit longer.

We had SNOW yesterday.  More than predicted.  Initial prediction was a dusting to an inch.  That kept creeping up.  The prediction Saturday night was that we'd get 2-4", and that it wouldn't stick.  It was also predicted that we'd get light snow, just that it'd be wet and heavy and big flakes.

Woke up yesterday morning to HEAVY snow.  Small flakes.  Coming down fast, occasionally sideways, and fast and thick enough to build up.  Yeah, the ground was warm enough (at first) that it was melting from underneath, but we still had more than 2" accumulate.  And stick. 

The town got, overall, around 4"+.  Some parts got 6" or more.

The kids didn't have school.

Today, we woke up to low teens.  I let the dog out at 6:25, checked to see if the kids' school would be starting on time (there were a few in the area that started late because of melt and refreeze on the roads), then got the kids up and breakfast started.  I had the imp feed the dog inside (no, she didn't eat all of her breakfast), then let her out for a poo break when I ran the kids in to school.  Figured I'd get her back in right after I got home.

The imp's car door (rear passenger) was frozen shut.  I had trouble yanking it open, and only managed what the imp failed to do because I was able to stand on the far side of the ice patch right below the car and yank hard.

The car's dash thermometer read 17 degrees when we left.

It takes about 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic, to get the kids in to school, let off at the gym entrance, then get home.  It was the long end this morning, because I didn't want to risk a loss of traction when I was trying to get into a normal sized gap of traffic.

And the dog...wasn't ready to come in.  Usually, when I ask if she wants in, she nopes over to the far corner of the yard and dances by the gate, as far from the back door as she can get. 

Not this morning.  There's still a solid 2" of snow in the back yard, with a crust of ice over the top where we got freezing fog yesterday evening.

The dog dashed over to the opposite corner of the patio, and danced. 

I gave her ten more minutes while I did a couple things, then tried again.  She was willing to come in, that time, but only stayed in the house for about an hour.

Yes, I have since tried to get her in the house.  No, she has not been willing to come in.  She hasn't even stayed on the patio, on the straw bale or her insulated bed out of the wind.  Instead, she's been making snow-plow circuits* of the yard, barking at everything.  No, it isn't yet above freezing.  It's not supposed to get above freezing today.

We're still running the heat pump.  With as high-efficiency plug-in heaters as we can get to supplement.  Because the propane company's due out on Thursday to tell us what size tank we'll need for a 30,000 BTU heater that's going in the fireplace early next month.

So, yeah, I'd prefer for the global warming to take a break and let us get back to the normal-for-the-area 40s and 50s for early/mid November.  This shit's not supposed to hit us in SW MO until late December/January.

*Scotty-dog snow-plow: bury nose under snow until it's touching the ground, then run around like a maniac, flinging snow in all directions.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Mistakes were made

Some by me. 

Friday nights are pizza/movie nights.  Always.  We get a take-n-bake pizza, then put in a DVD of something for the kids so Odysseus and I can have some peace going into the weekend.  My pizzas are gluten-free crusts acquired ahead of time, then topped.  And those...aren't cheap.  At.  All. 

I mean, yeah, I do try to make my own.  When I can.  When I haven't used up my energy doing other things like shopping, cleaning, child-wrangling (homework time can be an utter bitch).  But sometimes, I have to fall back on crusts.

And my Walmart has stopped carrying the Udi's crusts.  They do carry another gluten free crust, a Mama Mary's brand.*  I got a package.  One was fine.  Not good, by any means, but edible.

Last week's...wasn't.  Last week's was contaminated with wheat flour (it wasn't good enough for an "oops--we put a regular crust in the package, instead of a gf crust). 

I spent Friday night, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday really suffering for it. Last night wasn't great, but I was able to sleep mostly comfortably.  The only thing buggering my sleep last night was worries about yesterday's election. 

Yes, I voted.  Despite feeling really horrible, and having no energy because of wrangling a very unwilling monster through doing most of his homework, I voted.  I voted nearly straight libertarian...and we still managed to boot Claire McCaskel out of office (the asshole voted in isn't any better, sadly).  We got an amendment to the state constitution passed to permit marijuana to be used for medical purposes.  We even passed the one that taxed it at 4% rather than 15%.  We also managed to defeat a 2 cent per gallon increase in fuel sales tax. 

Sadly, that's where the good news ends. 

We passed an amendment aimed at "keeping out of state money out of Missouri elections" which includes a nasty rider that puts a "non-partisan individual"--not a committee, by my reading--in charge of gerrymandering.  This is not good.  The money part is, but the gerrymandering thing is a definite poison pill that's going to fuck us in the short and long term.

We also, sadly, passed a MASSIVE minimum wage hike. 

Which means EVERYTHING is about to become more expensive.  And jobs?  Yeah, unskilled work is going to go bye-bye.  No more jobs for teens for us!  They're just not worth $12.60/hr (where they might be worth taking a chance at $7.65).

I think one of the biggest mistakes this country ever made was passing universal suffrage.  Because the idiots were out in force, yesterday.  And there were about 1.5 million voters in MO that need to be institutionalized in group homes and sheltered workshops instead of being allowed to vote, judging by those two things. 

Another mistake I've made is not getting my imp in to see his doctor sooner.  I'd noticed his behavior (and his grades) starting to spiral downward.  I should have got him in last month--he's gained weight, so I think his meds need to be adjusted.  I didn't.  I've been frustrated, his teacher's been frustrated, and he's been...really unable to control himself.  I've got him an appointment for tomorrow morning. 

It doesn't excuse the poor behavior, but it does explain it.  And I feel guilty because I've dropped a rather important ball in my juggling. 

This week has been stupid-busy.  Next week will be a little better, but not a whole lot, and I still feel like I'm forgetting something...

...and the week after Thanksgiving, we have a tentatively scheduled closing on the old house.  Keep your fingers crossed and send up a prayer that nothing FUBARs this attempt at a sale, please. 

*Udi's only makes gluten free products.  They don't work with wheat at all anywhere in their manufacturing.  Mama Mary's...does.  They do regular (if bad) crusts as well as the gluten free ones.  I'm not surprised this happened, just painfully disappointed. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

What ever happened to *buying* programs?

I seriously hate Microsoft.  HATE them.

I had to buy a new laptop in July 2017.  It had Windows 10.

I detest Windows 10.

I like the stability, and the fact that it doesn't tend to crash, but I hate the auto-update that cannot be turned off.   I hate that I keep having to turn Cortana back off, and turn the microphone back off, and tell it to not report my location after random updates (not every update, but frequently enough that I've had to do it more than half the times it updates).  I hate that it does this without warning, and doesn't let me put it off.

This last update has really fucked everything up for me.  Firefox is running slower (even after a troubleshoot delete/reload), and everything is...jerky.  I can type faster than it can keep up, which I've never been able to do before.  It's really bad.  It's not just internet issues, either--I have the same issues with word processing.  Even when I'm using nothing else but that program (yes, I checked). 

It's actually worse with the USB keyboard I have.

And, with this update, Word has locked down to where I can't use it. 

Granted, I'd been using Word for free for years.  While I was working for Nameless University, I had the privilege of using the university's license for Office.  And I do like Word's functionality.  If I could buy a copy of ONLY Word, I would.

But no.

I can rent Office for an affordable price for a year (uh, no.  I don't rent programs), or I can buy the whole suite, licensed for one computer only (and then have to do it again when I have to have a new machine).  Or, I could buy a pair of bifocals for about the same price.*    Guess which has higher priority. 

My now-unlicensed copy of Office has locked down.  I can open old docs in it, but cannot modify or add to them.

Which sucks, because I'd had a friend's manuscript almost done in Word, and now I have to start it over with a program I need to get familiar with, because it's going to be what I'll be using for the foreseeable future.

I wish this had at least waited until after I'd finished the manuscript I was editing.  LibreOffice's Writer program's editing/change tracking/commenting is...not precisely user friendly, if not as impossible as Open Office's is.

And I wish I had the focus and brain capacity to learn Linux.  Because Windows 10 is complete and utter shit, despite the stability.  



*I've seen Office (older versions) on Ebay for prices I can afford, but I don't trust that I'd actually get a copy that hadn't already been installed on someone else's computer. 

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Those weren't mud-balls...

Life has a nasty, bitchy habit of lobbing mud balls at you to catch while you're juggling. 

We got the offer on the old house.  They contracted the same inspector we did.  He's good, but...damn, he overloads you with literally EVERYTHING that you MIGHT need to fix, with no distinction over whether it needs done now, or can wait--that, he leaves to the home-buyer to decide. 

Which...scared our buyer to the point they withdrew from the contract. 

Yeah, there were some serious fixes, but the report was several tens of pages long and listed everything from overhanging branches that needed trimmed to knob-and-tube wiring that wasn't hooked up to anything and wasn't active (or a danger) to the need for a moisture barrier between the floor and the crawl space, and flooring that needs some work. 

Real info overload for especially a first-time HUD-loan homebuyer.  So, the attempts to sell the house start again. 

The imp's birthday was a week ago yesterday.  I didn't have his spelling list until Sunday night after he'd gone to bed, so we didn't get started on spelling until Monday.  And it was a review list, so he should have done mostly okay.  I mean, writing the lists out twice every day takes for-fucking-ever for the child, but it was working (mostly).  It had taken his tests from D's to A's and B's.  Despite his issues actually getting what he knew in his brain to come out his fingers. 

Last week's test was a C.  Mid-C.  

And this week is a short week.  And a hard list.  I guess I'm going to have to work him harder.  Because being able to communicate in writing (and take notes and be able to READ THEM LATER) is incredibly important.

And this coming week includes post-first-quarter parent/teacher conferences. 

I'd signed both kids up on Tuesday--the pixie at 5:00, and the imp at 5:30.  And then, the imp's teacher sent out a mass email, saying she had to postpone the conferences to Thursday, and Friday (which they have off).  So, one child's conference is at 5:00 on Tuesday, now, and the other one's is at 5:00 on Thursday.  Instead of having both on one night, and no more to worry about. 

I'm also going to have to find another plumber.  Yes, another one.  A year after we'd found a decent, reliable plumber that responded quickly to calls, and didn't overcharge.  Because the guy that owned the company is up on federal charges of making and distributing child porn. 

Thank God his employee was the one we dealt with most often. 

But we need that plumber soon, because we are definitely going to need a new propane line run into the side of our fireplace (instead of the middle of the back) for a new propane insert.  Because winter's well on its way, and a heat pump...is not good for heating in this part of Missouri.  We had giant electric bills last winter, and I do not want those again. 

Yeah, I'm pretty sure those were horse apples life was throwing at me for me to catch and add to my juggling.  And I missed either catching or deflecting. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

I think I'm done (in) for a while.

Last weekend was my imp's 10th birthday.  Saturday.  Ten years ago, he arrived at the world pissed off and screaming--which was a delightful sound, considering he was eight weeks early, and they weren't sure his lungs would be developed enough by that point to scream. 

His feet were literally the length of my thumb: about an inch and a half. 

Thursday evening, he came to me and showed me that his toes had no room in his shoes, so I got him a bigger pair Friday morning when I did groceries.  I wear kids' size 3 in shoes.  He now wears youth size 5. 

From feet the size of my thumb, to feet bigger than mine in ten years. 

So, Saturday morning, we went to his paternal grandparents' house for his birthday dinner (lasagna, Italian bread, spice cake, and ice cream).  And presents from them (an old tackle box spray painted silver that will be perfect for storing Hot Wheels, and a couple of books he already loves). 

And Sunday, we grabbed a rotisserie chicken, roasted potatoes, and a salad from Sam's Club ($16.98 to feed four adults and two kids!), and went up to my mom's after they'd gotten back from church.  The kids each had a chicken leg and my sister made mac'n'cheese.  And another spice cake (with rye flour, which I could eat) and cream cheese frosting.  He ate half the three inch square piece of cake they cut.  I ate my piece, then the other half of his. 

The boy made out like a bandit, where food's concerned. 

I spent yesterday exhausted, and chair-bound.  Didn't get anything done, because my brain wouldn't work any better than my body would (and my body said "newp--you're sitting back down as soon as you've gotten your drink/gone to the bathroom/grabbed a snack-type lunch, because you did too much this past weekend"). 

Felt a little better when I woke up this morning...and then the kids happened. 

I got them chased around through morning routines, and...couldn't find my keys.  They'd gotten put back in the wrong pocket of my purse. 

Found keys.  Got the kids out and into the...no, they refused to get into the car.  "Oh, Mom, it smells awful!"

Got to the car, and found out they weren't exaggerating.  Pixie was gagging, imp had hand over nose and mouth, and both were backing away from the open doors.  Because it smelled like something had died in the car. 

Got the windows down, and got the kids in the car regardless, and got them dropped off at school.  Got home.  Sorted through the detritus in the front floorboard (not much), then the back (about six inches per side). 

There was nothing dead in the car.  There were, however, jackets that they'd played in the rain in, then left wadded down in the floorboards.  They'd soured.  To the point that they smelled like something had died in the car. 

On the plus side, I got the car mostly cleaned out.  However.  I think that may have been my limit of "I can do that chore" for today.  And it finished off a half-full trash bag of kids' graded school worksheets picked up over the last week or so.

Thank goodness taco casserole is easy to throw together.  And that the kids will help with that. 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Whew.

We put the old house on the market about...two months ago.  Had some interest, but no serious offers (really, who offers HALF the asking price?). 

Yeah, the house needs some work.  Mostly it's cosmetic, though.  Not structural.  That little house is well-insulated, and stout.  But, keeping in mind that it's an old house, and not particularly pretty, we did price it low for what it is.  And still weren't getting offers.  Not real ones, anyway. 

Until Friday.  Got an offer for about $4500 less than asking.  Met them sort of in the middle in the counter offer. 

This morning, I got a call from the realtor that the buyer had accepted the counter offer.  Closing is the fifteenth of next month. 

This is such a huge load off my mind. 

Yes, we're selling for less than we paid for it, despite having put in a second bathroom, new kitchen cabinets, and a privacy fence around the back yard.  But the reason we'd wanted to move in the first place was because the neighborhood was kinda running down.  People who were...not suited to anything better than a trailer park by their behavior bought the house next door.  In the neighborhood where it is, it's actually lost value over what we paid for it in '06, rather than gaining value like it would have done elsewhere.  We did a lot of work, but it still needs a lot more done, which we neither have the cash nor the inclination to do.*

But.

I will not be paying more than one more water bill.**  I will not be paying for insurance for another year on that house.  I will no longer be paying property taxes.  I will no longer be paying electricity on two houses.  

I'm done worrying about that house.  I'm done paying bills on that house.  And when it closes, we'll be able to do the things for this house that we need to do. 

First and foremost: we definitely need a primary heat system for when it's really cold.  A heat pump does not do the job when it drops below about 40 degrees.  Found that out the hard way last year when the emergency elements yielded us an $800 electric bill.

But that's for later.  Right now, I'm going to relax, edit a friend's work, write on my own stuff, and celebrate. 


*Our home needs work, too.  I'm a lot more inclined to spend the money we can on fixing the issues where we live.  Doing more at the old house wouldn't have netted us much more than we got.

**Our home is on a well.  I don't pay a water bill, here, just a trash bill. 

Friday, September 28, 2018

Updates

So, apparently, the tragedy yesterday has a whole lot of fingers to point. 

The little girl in the trailer park on the south side of the road was running late.  The bus had already picked up from that stop (allegedly), but she missed it, and was trying to catch the bus at the turn-around. 

And a big rig, likely doing fifty or better through here, hit her.  It was 6:55 a.m.  The sun was starting to come up, it wasn't dark, and the sun wasn't up far enough to be in the driver's eyes, either.  He said he saw the bus, and thought he hit a mailbox (all of which are set so that he'd have had to go in the ditch), and lied about hitting a deer on the interstate to not get in trouble with his bosses. 

He was arrested more than fifty miles from here, in Strafford, after debris left at the scene was matched to his truck, and evidence on his truck matched back to the little girl.

I don't recall the bus ever stopping in the road out in front of my house.  I don't recall the bus doing pickups from the road in front of the house.  I am not sure if it turns into the trailer park.  But yesterday morning, it was in a driveway across the road from the trailer park, facing the trailer park.  Bus driver claims to have seen the whole thing. 

I'd say the city has a good bit of culpability in this, too, depending on their school bus policy and enforcement of such. Like I said: the speed limit isn't enforced out here, and there's no "school bus stop" sign anywhere.  There's at least that much fault to be assigned to them.  Hell, where that's concerned, maybe the case could be made that the county sheriff and/or highway patrol's partially at fault, since speed limits aren't enforced and it happened just outside city limits.

The little girl's mother...has already been punished.  I'm not going to dogpile on her like some of the locals have.  And they have.  And who knows?  My almost-eight-year-old is damn fast, and is often out the door and most of the way to the car before I can yelp on mornings we're running late. Maybe the parent(s) didn't have a chance to prevent it from happening. 

I will say that this is rage inducing.  I can't imagine why this wasn't avoided, even counting out the lying, careless son of a bitch that murdered a little girl by his negligence.  The city's policies should have prevented it.  The bus driver...unless they were not following policies set in place when they did as they did, I don't see how they have any responsibility for what happened. 

But the city...it wouldn't be the first child their school district has killed through their negligence.

And knowing the way the city council/school board works, this likely won't be the last child killed through their negligence, either.