Every year around this time, we get a whopper of a cable bill, far above our normal bill.
And we gird for war.
I used to handle it and AdventureMan would sometimes laugh from his office. (Once an insurance agent said to me “You READ the policy??” when I told her I was discontinuing it because the things it covered were things that didn’t apply, and the things that I needed weren’t covered.) When AdventureMan volunteered to handle the annual cable bill call, I danced for joy.
If you want to win, you have to have a strategy. But not any old strategy is going to win the cable bill battle, you have to have the strength and fortitude for THE LONG PHONE CALL.
As we do this, I can hear my Dad’s voice as he would do battle over the phone, with the post office over an extra charge on a package, or a financial institution about just when that interest should be paid and how it should be calculated.
You can’t do this unless you have the time and energy.
AdventureMan ultimately prevails, and saved us over $600 over the course of the cable year, but it is a tedious battle, at one point, the equivalent of a siege, a battle of attrition, as he goes through what we are buying line by line.
The cable representative, however, has his own weapons – wire and smoke and mirrors, disguised as bundles and discounts and specials. They can “stack” some, but not others, and the packages may not be as described. It’s dirty warfare, down in the trenches, but the ultimate weapon is that AdventureMan has the time, and they have their time limits.
One day we are hoping to walk away from cable altogether, but until we can figure out how to get Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, and other programs we like on a reliable basis, we stick with the devil we know.
As AdventureMan and I were trying a new place for lunch yesterday, the booth next to us filled with a group of roofers (roofers have a lot of good business in a place like Pensacola which gets both heavy winds and heavy rains). While they were not talking overly loud, one had a voice that carried and he shared with his friends – and us – a rule of life his Grandfather had told him.
“You can be right, or you can be happy.”
We laughed. When AdventureMan wants to annoy me, he tells other people that the reason we’ve been married so long is that whenever we disagree, he apologizes.
Every now and then, after all these years, I can still crack my husband up by saying something unexpected.
Retirement carries some unexpected adjustments. There was a time, when he was managing a major contract in Germany, where over dinner, I once told AdventureMan I needed him to look at me and to listen. He looked at me in horror; he told me later he thought I was leaving him. No. No. I just looked at him and told him that I am very independent, but that at least once, every single day of our lives together, I need five minutes of his undivided attention.
“Five minutes isn’t much,” he said to me.
“Five minutes is more than I am getting now,” I responded. I knew he was busy, and under a lot of stress, but relationships require nurturing, and I knew I could get by on five minutes, as long as I could count on that five minutes to stay connected.
Now, years later, the shoe is on the other foot. AdventureMan LOVES retirement, and he comes into my office all the time to tell me about a new Tiger Swallowtail in his garden, or to update me on our financial worth, or to use me as a sounding board for a political item that has come up in his garden club.
There are times I need focus. All the years we were married, I had that time, and more, I had all this time to myself, and I learned how to fill and manage my time. I rarely had to coordinate anything with AdventureMan, he just trusted me to manage the house and finances and making sure everything was in its place.
Once he had time, I had to learn how to share my time. I also had to let go of a lot of control. The first time he organized and cleaned out the garage, I almost had a heart attack. He was so proud! And I was so horrified! I am very logical, and more than a little compulsive, and I knew where everything was, in its logical place, and now . . . things were, very literally, out of control. A part of me wanted to kill him, and another part of me said “hey, cool, now you don’t have to clean out the garage, he he he” but making that gain meant giving up control over where things were!
AdventureMan started cooking, and suddenly pots and pans and measuring spoons were not where they were “supposed” to be. AdventureMan took over the garden, and I danced for joy at not having to go out and water in the heat, but I lost control over what was planted out there.
It’s hard. We are both managers, and both very good at it. We’ve had to draw some lines. I’ve had to share territory I always thought of as mine, and he has had to consult with me, when he would much rather carry out his plans directly.
We’ve both had to draw some lines. We don’t touch stuff in one another’s offices. We consult. When I clean out the pantry, the first thing I do is show him the logic, even put little signs so he will know where to find things when he is cooking. I put up with things ending up in the wrong place, except for the spice drawers, where all the normal cooking herbs and in spices are in the left drawer and all the chilis and peppers and exotic herbs are in the right drawer, with all the teas. It can be irrational, but sometimes it is the smallest things that matter.
From time to time, I need a pocket of silence.
I welcome my sweet husband into my office; he is always welcome. From time to time, however, if I am working on paying bills or a blog post or designing a quilt, or trying to get my readings done for my bible study, I tell him I can listen for five minutes, and then I need a pocket of silence.
The first time I said it, he looked at me in horrified disbelief, what I was saying was so astonishing to him that he couldn’t even take it in. Once he comprehended, he started laughing, and now he tells his friends he has a wife who needs her “pockets of silence” – and I do. As he has become more relaxed and stress free, he has become chattier. As I live a life of commitments and connections in retirement, I need some times with no talking.
I need silence in my life the way some people need to be around other people hanging out. Silence refreshes me. Silence helps me focus, helps me think things through and develop a strategy. I am never bored with silence; for me silence is a resource I use with great respect and gratitude. I love my family and my friends, and then – I need a pocket of silence.
The man with the West African accent called at noon, explaining that he was a part of my security network and I was having a problem with my computer. My computer was not on. AdventureMan’s computer was not on.
“WHO are you with?” I asked, two or three more times, and he would explain that hackers were trying to get into my computer through my Windows system. I told him I didn’t recognize the name of his security system and he told me I was registered with them, and read off my (correct) name and address.
Anyone can get my name and address. My magazine subscriptions have my name and address, my bills, you can find my name and address by asking the right questions on the internet. I am so not buying into this.
What was interesting to me was that the caller was enjoying the process. He wasn’t stuck on a memorized script; he had a few points memorized and would repeat them now and then, but he would also improvise. He wanted me to get on my computer and he would “fix everything.”
After a few minutes I said “I think this is a scam. I am going to hang up now and call the police.”
He did not protest, nor did he call back.
The Windsong Lodge home page shows happy happy people having lunch on a sunny outdoor terrace overlooking a sparkling river. I looked at a lot of different Seward Hotels, but oh, the thought of a balcony overlooking the river just drew me in.
This is what the description of the Lodge says:
Just outside the city of Seward, travel down the winding road to Exit Glacier and you’ll find your paradise away from home, Seward Windsong Lodge. The towering mountains, fragrant spruce trees and the rush of the Resurrection River awaken your senses on arrival.
I could hardly wait to see those towering mountains and fragrant spruce trees from my balcony.
There was nothing wrong with our room. It was spacious, and had furniture made from logs, all rustic and sparkling clean. There was a microwave, a refrigerator, a hair dryer, all the amenities.
This was the view from my balcony.
I did love the cut outs in the balcony railing.
The Lodge offers a coffee bar and pastries, but when we were checking out we saw huge lines waiting for coffee and pastries, and although they had about ten computers, there were lines waiting to use their computers, too. Most of these people were off the cruise ships. We thanked God to have a car, and to know where we could get good coffee and breakfast goodies. We don’t mind paying. We don’t much like standing in a long line for breakfast.
Nice lodge, every seat taken.
No, I didn’t take that photo, but it was exactly that kind of day. It was beautiful when I got to Seattle, it rained buckets one of the days I took my Mom shopping; she was such a good sport as we raced across the parking lot to the restaurant, both getting soaked, and then it was beautiful again for Mother’s Day and departure day.
Had juicy, laughing, crying visits with two very long time friends, feasted my eyes on all the rhododendrons growing so luxuriously, dancing with their intense colors in the Seattle gardens, watched the ferries coming in and out of little Edmonds. It was heaven.
On the way to the airport KUOW, the local National Public Radio station, mentioned, very politely, that there was a huge accident on I-5 going South, blocking all lanes of the freeway, and would I please consider taking an alternate route south, and gave a couple of suggestions.
So so Seattle. So civil.
Rarely do I hear a car beep in Seattle. People actually do the “after you” gesture – all the time. It takes some getting used to. :-)
As soon as I got there, I opened the window where I was staying and just breathed the fresh sweet air. It always smells like fresh mown grass when I drive into Edmonds, and then the salt air. It is cool and refreshing. When the birds settle in for the night, there are the sounds of a thousand bird voices, loudest of all the seagulls, squawking at one another while the others are all doing sorter nestling sorts of sounds.
There are trains that go through in the middle of the night, but you learn to just wake up a little and say “oh, the train” and you go right back to sleep.
I took highway 99, which at one time was the major north south road, and while it was a little crowded, due to cars like me taking the alternate routes, it was peaceful and steady, with no delays. I haven’t taken the route for a long time, and got to see an old truck-stop my youngest sister mentioned, and I got to see all the things that are no longer there – the teepee pancake house, the elephant car wash sign. Things change. Taking 99 South took me a little longer than normal, but sometimes it can take a long time on the interstate, too, even without a major accident. Seattle, like Kuwait, has outgrown its infrastructure.
It seems to be the story around the United States. Who is paying attention to the decaying bridges, the once smooth and now potholed highways? Who is checking the buildings in the abandoned city centers and malls?
When I turned in my rental car, the little girl checking me in was in hijab and looked Sudanese. She asked me where I was from, and I told her, and I asked where she was from and she told me Cleveland. LOL.
The Seattle Airport is a gem, full of art works, you just have to take the time to look. Off in corners, they also have free wi-fi, free power plugs, Chinese take away and quiet areas where people can read or use the internet. For some reason, I am TSA PreCheck. Someone said it is age related, but AdventureMan looked it up online and there doesn’t seem to be a connection. I love the shorter line, and not taking off my shoes.
I have plane karma. Just before the plane was loaded and ready to go, the two inside passengers for my row arrived – a basketball player and his also-tall Mom. Behind us arrived a Mom and her two babies – in two seats. The doors closed. There were only three empty seats in the plane, and they were across from me. The basketball player jumped into the window seat and the woman sitting in the aisle seat behind me jumped into the aisle seat across from me, and the Mom and her babies had all three seats to themselves, while the rest of us had room for knees and elbows and room to breathe . . . it makes all the difference.
I like Pensacola, and I like our life here. I am already missing the beauty and coolness of Pensacola winter, dreaming of the beauty and coolness of Seattle summer, LOL.
On my way home from a great Algerian pastry treat at SoGourmet, I passed Grafitti Bridge. Grafitti Bridge is one of Pensacola’s quirks. Every month – sometimes every week, even sometimes daily – the bridge is repainted. Sometimes it is that BubbleGum pink of Breast Cancer Awareness, with names of the fallen and names of survivors, sometimes it is Gay Pride, sometimes it is who loves who, or who is a first class jerk, sometimes it is Class of TwoThousandWhatever – it can be whatever someone feels passionate enough about to buy the paint and make it happen. No one gets too bent out of shape about it. Occasionally profanity will show up, but very shortly someone else will spray paint out the offensive word, or, which I love, alter it to have an entirely new meaning.
As I drove past today, I saw a lightning storm, well done, I couldn’t imagine how they had captured what it was like seeing so many strikes at once, and then I saw “Pensacola Tough.” By that time, I was through the bridge, so I had to circle and go back. I had to park, and take a closer look. And then I had to photograph it, and post it here.
Pensacola Tough. Pensacola got an award as the Toughest City in the USA, based on a criteria that measured percentage of felons in the population (it’s OK, it keeps us humble), sports heros, the number of military personnel, violent crime statistics, etc. It isn’t an award cities run for.
And yet, as the raging water abates, tales of heroism and helpfulness abound. While there have been bands of looters at an apartment complex housing the low-income workers in Pensacola, there have also been bands of volunteers scouring the county, helping clean out houses, pull out sodden carpeting, moving soaked furniture to the curbs for pickup, pulling out drywall and ceilings to prevent black mold. In today’s Pensacola News Journal, there is a story of a man who worked just above where the Escambia County Jail exploded and fell through the floor, breaking legs, ribs and assorted bones. He was paralyzed. His co-worker, also hurt, saw him with his head under water and pulled his head out, and held his head out for over an hour while waiting for help to arrive. She got tired, but the alternative was letting him die. She didn’t let go.
“When Things Get Rough . . . We’re Pensacola Tough.
You gotta love this place
Today, the church prays for the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast. That’s us. Today, we need your prayers.
Photos from Business Insider
I don’t think I have ever seen a storm like we saw last night. This was not a hurricane type storm, this was a thunderstorm that had Pensacola grey and dark and gloomy all day Tuesday, and then around 7 pm, all hell broke loose. Thunder. Lots of thunder. Not just a tornado watch, but a tornado warning for our area, one of those “get away from all the outside walls of your house to a protected inner area NOW” kind of warning.
The tornado warning passed. The tornado watch passed. We found a leaking door frame, and brought buckets. The thunder and lightning continued. We found a leaking ceiling light fixture, and put another bucket under it. The thunder and lightning and high wind continued. We found water coming down through a bathroom vent – thank God we have a lot of buckets. The thunder and lightning continued.
We found a leaking closed door frame in another part of the house – four mixing bowls, surrounded by towels. The thunder and lightning continued.
The thunder and lightning continued all through the night. We slept fitfully, AdventureMan getting up three or four times to check the buckets.
I know, it sounds like we live in a terrible house, but we have never had things leak like this before. I think it has to do with rain blowing up under the roof vent, that’s all I can think of. AdventureMan has already called the roofer, and the insurance office, who is not answering, due to the number of callers they are dealing with.
Our son and his wife, down the street, have no electricity, and will come here later for some coffee and to charge their electrical devices. A road near us has collapsed, and in the collapse, contaminated two wells, so we are on a “boil water” notice until further notifications.
Today, indeed, is a very good day to pray for the Central Gulf Coast. Most schools are closed, many offices are closed.
We sit high, but many are struggling with high water and flooded roads. Many have worse leaks than we have. Many are lacking power, and how can you boil the water without power? This storm dumped inches and inches of rain on us, so much rain that they don’t have an exact calculation yet. Our front yard is eroding in front of our eyes. And we are the lucky ones.
Pray for Pensacola.
“What are manners?”
“What is ‘nice’, what does it mean?”
“What is ‘kind’?” the most adorable little boy in Pensacola asked me. It was bath time, a time when we have some of our best conversations, and you never know where the conversation will go.
I love these conversations because I have to think, too, but most of all, because I love to watch this little boy’s mind grow in grasping concepts and perceptions. He is four; his class in school is on the letter “U” this coming week, and already he can sound out words in the books we read together. He knows what a globe is, and how it differs from a map. He knows his address, and he can point to Pensacola on the globe.
He knows things because we talk to him, and because he goes to school and his teachers talk to him. His mind is wide open and he is eager to learn, and he asks the most wonderful questions.
Donna Leon’s Commissario Guido Brunetti has a new case that troubles him. He knows the dead man, not well, but he would see him in his quarter, and he often saw him helping out at the local laundry. He assumed the man was deaf and retarded, everyone knew that. When the dead man has no papers, in bureaucratic Italy, no birth certificate, no medical records, no finance records, no record of social aid (he is poor as well as disabled) Brunetti is troubled. How could such a familiar figure be so undocumented?
His mother is no help; her stories are transparent lies about travel to France and her son having grown up in the country with people whose name she cannot remember.
It is a troubling book. If you read Donna Leon, you will understand how close and wonderful and articulate Brunetti’s family is, how loved and cherished their children. We eat meals with them, we understand how the Venetian vernacular distinguishes those to whom one speaks more frankly and those to whom one lies. Brunetti’s a detective; the things he sees often trouble him, but this case troubles him more than most.
I can’t tell you more without spoiling the ending. All I can tell you is that it will encourage you to love your children, hold them closely, and give them all the benefits in their life-toolbox of attention, instruction and loving discipline that a parent (and grandparent!) can give.