#5TF: Maintenance Woes

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 9 – August 19 – 25, 2017

You might say that this week’s theme was “home repairs” or rather “how many times can you call maintenance in one week??”. It all started with the strange circle that appeared on our bedroom ceiling (definitely evidence of a leak) and progressed to our fire alarm going off for (what seemed like) no reason at all. Turns out the two were related. When maintenance replaced the HVAC unit upstairs earlier in the week, the drain line wasn’t properly installed and it began leaking into our ceiling and consequently, into the smoke alarm. It’s always fun to twist off a screaming smoke detector only to get a face full of water!

To add insult in injury, we opened our water bill for the month only to find that it was nearly triple what it usually is. We pay a set rate for water, sewer, trash and pest control each month – usually $33.68 for up to 1,800 gallons of water. This bill was $82.23. The kicker of this part of the story is that we were making a conscious effort to be more conservative with water this month! We used the dishwasher only 6 times and washed only 9 loads of laundry in a month, and that doesn’t even include our shortened shower times, so we knew there was no way we’d used 8,800 gallons of water. Prior to our conservation effort, we only ever went over the 1,800 gallon mark once and that was when we had guests.

One thing I really enjoyed this week was planning a weekend getaway with my mom and Angie. Next month we are all going to the Tiny House Festival in Chattanooga, TN. It was fun to sit around together talking about what we wanted to see and do and where we wanted to stay. We haven’t been on a trip together since May when we went camping in Kentucky so we are all looking forward to the getaway. And who knows, we may find that tiny “dream house” (on wheels!) that we’ve talked about for years now.

I am grateful for the farmers who provided our great CSA baskets this season. We picked up our last Wednesday basket earlier this week and we’ll pick up our last Saturday basket tomorrow. We’ve gotten some really great fruits and veggies, in addition to getting to know some great folks at the Farmer’s Market. We’re very grateful to have a freezer stuffed full of goodies for the winter – corn, yellow squash, zucchini, okra, blueberries, blackberries, carrots, peppers of all sizes, tomatoes, and even a few bags of cauliflower rice.

I need to let go of checking on my niece and the baby every five minutes. Okay, so maybe it’s more like every few hours, but still, it is something I need to stop doing. They are still homeless, couchsurfing at the moment from friend to friend, and my niece has made it pretty clear that they do not want our help. I would admire the “can do” attitude if it were actually there but at this point it’s more about her just not wanting to get a job or live by the rules of our home than it is about her actually wanting to make it on her own. So, I need to let that go of that and focus on things I can change for a while.

We made progress on side hustles and trying new things this week. We surpassed our October vacation savings goal by $10 but have decided to keep working a few easy side hustles to save for other trips down the road. In fact, Angie is off right now doing an Easy Shift. As for trying new things, we downloaded a yoga app to Roku and gave that a shot on Monday. Though this particular video wasn’t for me, I agreed to try another one tomorrow. Angie has been using the app regularly all week (but then again, she does enjoy exercise more than I do…probably more than most people do).

The funniest thing that happened this week involved yet another repair job. We were on our way to mow Mom’s yard yesterday when we passed by a new shop that repairs mowers. I offhandedly joked that since we sold the Xterra and couldn’t tow a trailer anymore, it would probably be easier to just ride the mower up to this shop if we needed to have it repaired. For the rest of the drive to Mom’s house, we laughed and joked about how we’d wear costumes and wave at passersby as we made our way through town on the mower. Angie even suggested we toss out candy or hand out bottles of water. When we got to Mom’s, I hopped on the mower and what do know…the cable that engages the blades broke when I moved the lever! So I guess sometime tomorrow you should look for two superheroes riding a Murray lawnmower through the streets of Gallatin, TN.

On another note, a friend of ours was inspired by my post on redesigning our dining room and decided to do something different with hers this week. Our friend has two sons (ages 11 and 14). The boys have been complaining about sharing a room so my friend decided to convert her dining room into a bedroom for her youngest son, who happens to be a Yankees fan as you’ll see. Since they live in an apartment and can’t put up an actual wall, she purchased two utility shelves to separate the space from the living room and backed those with curtains. She says the shelves will serve as storage for her husbands work and play gear. I don’t have a “before” photo but picture a typical dining room with a large farmhouse table. I think it turned out rather well!

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#5TF: Great Outdoors

Five Thought Friday Challenge:  Week 8 – August 12 – 18, 2017

If you happen to be in the path of Monday’s eclipse then you’ve no doubt noticed the rampant commercialization of this rare astronomical phenomenon. We found out firsthand when we went in search of the special viewing glasses that are needed to watch the event. We read on Facebook that Walmart had the glasses for $1 so one evening we made our way over to pick up a few pairs, only to find that yes indeed, Walmart does have Eclipse glasses. They have both shot glasses and drinking glasses (along with koozies, t-shirts, and hats) but no viewing glasses. In fact, our town of 35,734 people has somehow managed to scoop up every single pair of free or cheap eclipse viewing glasses offered by the public library, Chamber of Commerce, various businesses, and yes, even Walmart. And not always for their own use, mind you. Today, I listed an old cell phone on OfferUp and saw a few folks selling ISO Eclipse glasses for a mere $10 per pair.

Our local paper has warned that we should not go out this weekend and especially on Monday if we can help it. They want to make sure all the tourists who are supposed to flock here for the “Gallatin Eclipse Encounter” have plenty of places to park and as little traffic as possible during their stay. We have lots to offer them too – a Sip ‘N Stroll of the downtown area, a Bluegrass Jam, and an all-day party in the park. I’d love to know what the economic impact of this 2 minute 40 second event will be for our city and how we’ll use that money to better our community (hint, hint politicians…though I doubt you’ll ever see this post anyway).

Now onward and upward to better things…

One thing I really enjoyed this week was car camping in Ocoee, TN and waterwater rafting the next day. (And by car camping, I mean we literally slept in the car!) You can read all about our fun adventure here: Our High Country Adventure

I am grateful that we made it out of Deliverance country alive. Just kidding, it wasn’t that bad. But winding our way up a gravel one-lane switchback road sure made for a very scary experience and arriving at the end of it to find ourselves hiking down a narrow ledge alongside some strange (and very chatty) folks in flip-flops didn’t help matters much either. I am not sure how they made it down at all. We had on our best hiking shoes and we stumbled more than a few times ourselves.

Angie says that she’s grateful that we did not have to go to the grocery store before or during this trip and that the entire weekend only cost us $44, including the rafting trip.

I need to let go of the notion that we’re ever going to be able to walk outside our house without getting eaten alive by some sort of bug. We won our battle against the mosquitoes by using a combo of creamy baby lotion and citronella spray but the chiggers at our campsite outnumbered us 1,000 to 1. Poor Angie got the worst of it. Almost a week later and she still looks like she has the measles.

We made progress on our hiking/walking goal, adding 12 miles to our tally during our 2-day outing. We also canned 3 more quarts of tomatoes and made great strides in meal-prep this week. We spent Monday afternoon chopping and prepping ingredients for a veggie soup that we shared with my Mom and Ticky on Tuesday and a squash lasagna that lasted for 2 dinners. The few hours of effort we put in that day more than paid off during the week when we had meals ready to go after a long day of mowing or playing outside with the little one. I think this coming week, we may do a pot of beans and rice and have variations of Latin American dishes for the week (like tacos, arroz con pollo, and veggie quesadillas).

The funniest thing that happened this week is really too embarrassing to be shared. Let’s just say, our campsite was a long way from the potty and sometimes your hear really strange noises when you’re attempting to pee in the woods at night (like owls or perhaps your partner laughing at you for some still unknown reason). Thank goodness I restocked the wet wipes in our car!

A close runner up to this incident was probably the look on our faces when we realized we were headed straight uphill on a gravel road in a car with a 1.4 L 4 cylinder engine. To put that in perspective, the Jeep Wrangler that passed us about a mile before the “terrifying switchback” probably had an engine 3 times that size and it was still having a hard time pulling the hill. After what seemed like forever, we somehow managed to make it to the top – to the main road – the road that we could have taken to get to our destination instead…if only our GPS wasn’t possessed by demons!