December 18, 2014

Stuff and Things 12/18

+I feel for the people who have to move during the holiday season.  We've been lucky in this regard so far.  Our moves have been in September, February, April, and May. I was just thinking the other day how glad I am that we got here in May.  Because if we'd moved in the winter, I have no idea how this remodel would've gotten off the ground.

+However, with every move, I admit that being without a washer and dryer is the hardest part.  I always tracked down a laundry mat.  I don't think it's appropriate to say "who wants to let me use their washer and dryer?" on Facebook.  Like it's some kind of honor to allow that.  I would NEVER ask social media such a question.  Perhaps I would text message a friend.  But more than likely, I would resign myself to a couple of hours at a laundromat.  Suck it up.  Egocentricity is the word that comes to mind.

+That's why I deactivate my Facebook every once in awhile.  I can't stand looking at that stuff.

+Speaking of the military, enlighten me, civilians*:  What kind of healthcare do you have/like?  I mean, the military has this system of bars and brick walls (metaphorically and literally) that prevent you from having access to your doctor and/or nurse and/or information.  I mean, can you call your doctor's office and talk to someone?  I can't.  I have to call this outside agency, leave a message with an operator, and hope they call me back.  It's kind of barbaric because they almost never call back until I leave several messages.  And I don't think 2 messages over the course of a week is too crazy.  I called on Wednesday.  Then I called again on Monday. Yet, I've heard nothing back.

*I'm technically a civilian because I have not signed up to serve my country.  I'm just using the broader definition here.

+Blog friends are the best kind of friends.  They're with you no matter where you go.  I've met and moved away from more people than I can count in the last few years.  While we keep in touch on Facebook (why I try to keep it activated) and the occasional text, the blog friends I've made are the only constant.  Isn't that kind of crazy to think about?

Angi sent me this sweet Christmas package from Alaska.

+This is a really weak post. I apologize.  Two more days and then Christmas vacation. My quality of life with the cold weather, sickness, and darkness has been low lately. Inspiration is hard to find.

+Yesterday was bookended with two highlights:  a latte at 7am and a naan pizza at 7pm.  Like I said, inspiration is hiding these days.

+ This weekend I plan on finishing the painting of the kitchen walls and making good dent in the painting of the cupboards.  Most of the cupboards are painted already but there's one wall that's not.  Here's your before picture.

It's everything a "before picture" should be:  cluttered with bad lighting.  Can only get better, right?

Stay tuned for progress.  

December 16, 2014

Jett's Day Out

Sometimes taking two puppies hunting is more trouble than it's worth.  I'm often reminded that what we have are, indeed, puppies.  When I see someone with a 5+ year old dog, I'm amazed at how reserved, quiet, and seemingly respectful the animal is.  Scout is getting there (he's only 1 1/2) and Jett can be a handful.

Scott took Scout with him hunting the other day.  Jett stayed behind.  I went to the gym and the store in the morning and then came back to find Jett all anxious.  You see, he's never really been left alone.  He's always had Scout.  Scout hates being alone for reasons of his own, but he spent the first year of his life "brother-less".  Jett doesn't understand what that means.  

So I took him with me to Lowe's to buy paint for the kitchen.  Everyone just loved him.  Even the dog he decided to bark at in the middle of the store.  He is such a puppy still.  We practiced some sitting and staying while we waited for the paint.  Scott often takes Scout to Lowe's and will just drop the leash and say "stay" and Scout will sit there and watch Scott shop.  Jett is…not quite there yet.  I don't trust him not to run off.  

I had a hankering for a caramel brûlée latte, something I got hooked on my first winter in Alaska.  Though I've been staying away from sugary drinks lately, I felt the need to just live a little. We went to the drive-thru and the barista asked if he wanted a puppy latte.  I had to ask what that was because the last thing Jett needs is caffeine.  It was just a cup of whipped cream and Jett definitely enjoyed it.  I think it's the sweetest thing that Starbucks offers these to dogs.  

Can we just say yay for dog-friendly businesses?  I never realized before how much it means for places to be dog-friendly.  I suppose it's a good thing we live in Colorado because it's a very dog-friendly state.  

December 15, 2014

Inadequacy and Simplifying

I posted about my organization challenge for November.  I didn't have grand hopes or aspirations of greatness.  I just wanted to organize the corner of the basement.  Putting all of that stuff into plastic tubs and throwing out the cardboard and throwing other stuff away felt good.  Stacking up those boxes made me feel like I had something together.  The organization challenge for December is Simplify.  Perfect for this month, right?  Perfect for believing that we are enough and we don't need to bake all the treats and go to all the parties and buy all the presents.  For believing that not going overboard is okay.

Last week, we went to a Christmas party.  It was Friday night.  I'd just put in 40 hours of Sit. No. Yes. Hurry up. What are you doing? You need a pencil. Get out your [insert any random word here].  I was exhausted and practically coughing up a lung because of this never-ending half-cold I seem to have.  Scott had made a dip because, at 10pm on Thursday he said we should probably take something to this party.  We still had to stop at the store for chips though.  And the auto part store so he could get wires to fix my car.  We didn't know where the house of the party was necessarily and I had never met any of the people who would be there.  A recipe for disaster, right?

Anyway, seeing how "together" some people have it can sometimes bring you down, you know?  Pinterest inspired gallery walls, brand new everything, things unpacked and in their perfect place (even if you just moved in a month ago), more than one perfectly decorated Christmas tree, etc.

So I needed to remind myself of the Simplify resolutions I'd already decided on for December.  

1.  I don't need to bake all the cookies.  In years past, I've gone overboard.  This year, we're not going anywhere for Christmas and we don't have any guests either so there's no need for me to spend two whole days baking.

2.  I don't need to buy presents for every person I've met in the last year.  Oh, I thought about it.  And it's not really a cost issue.  It's a take-the-time-to-pick-out-something-meaningful-wrap-it-carefully-and-mail-it issue.  I truly don't have time.  And I know that sounds awful.  I did send Christmas cards though.  And I got the boxes mailed out to our families.

3.  Do not Pinterest a gift for everyone I know here in Colorado.  I did this one year in Alaska and dang, it was stressful.  Actually, I did it two years in a row.  I made hot fudge and chocolate covered pretzels one year and cake pops for everyone the next year.  "Everyone" is coworkers.  However, my building is small enough now that if I made stuff for one person, I better make it for the whole hallway (like 8 people), plus office staff and…inevitably I will forget someone and feel terrible.  Best not to worry about it.  I also didn't print enough cards from Shutterfly (because expensive) for every acquaintance I have, so I can't hand those out.  However, do people really want a picture of me (who they see everyday), my husband (who they've never met), and my two dogs?  Eh.  Probably not.

4.  Don't go overboard buying presents.  You know how easy it is.  You see all the holiday displays and stuff just falls into the cart.  I'm 100% guilty of this.  Tis the season, right?  I finished my Christmas shopping 2 weeks ago.  Scott's gifts (little things he'd never buy himself) are under the tree.  The dogs each get a toy.  In years past, I've bought myself gifts but this year all I picked up were new pajamas, slippers, and a travel mug.  There's no need for me to wrap and unwrap presents to Kristin, from Kristin.  I think I'm outgrowing that.

Is there any way you're trying to simplify December for yourself and your family?  More ideas are welcome!

December 12, 2014

Car trouble

In the 6 years I've known Scott, I've watched him disassemble and reassemble many vehicles.  Our vehicles, friends' vehicles, etc.  He does all the work himself.  It's his thing.  He started teaching himself how to do all of this when he was a teenager because it was either learn how to fix the truck he had or just not be able to drive anywhere. He is what you would call an expert.  I'm not bragging or trying to make a point.  This is just a fact that you need to know in order for the following account to make sense.  Last summer, he rebuilt an entire exhaust system.  This is the kind of thing he spent his time on before he had a house to remodel.  We all have our hobbies, right?

Two Saturdays ago, my check engine light came on.  I told Scott, he asked how it was running, I said fine, he said okay.  He looked at it and hooked it up to the code scanner to see if it would tell him what was wrong.  He got some inconclusive codes so he said we should call the dealership since it's under warranty right now.

I called at 6pm on Saturday to make an appointment for Monday.  She said to call back Monday morning.  That was the first clue.

I called back Monday morning at 8am.  They said to bring it in Tuesday morning because after school Monday would be too late for anyone to look at it.  Scott and I left the house at 6:30 Tuesday morning to get to the dealership by 7.  He followed me there and we dropped off my SUV.  He drove me to school.  Toyota was supposed to call me at some point and I left my phone on all day (a no-no) in case.  They said "we'll try to have it ready to go by 3:30".  We assumed this meant they would diagnose it and either fix it or tell us when they could fix it.  I understand that things happen and "try" doesn't always mean "for sure", but we were assuming they'd at least be able to tell us what was wrong because they were confident about their ambition for the day.

No one called. Scott picked me up at 4:00 and I had to report to him that there had been no phone call.  We drove to Toyota.

On the way, I called and the lady said that she would "check and see if it's ready".  She wasn't sure.  Kept talking about how it was "James'" and she needed to find him.  We arrived at Toyota.  I could see the sticky note with my name and number on James' desk but the flurry of several people confirmed that James could not be found.  We waited a few minutes.

Finally, James appeared.  He said that the code scanner was inconclusive and showed us a printout from a computer.  It said one thing was high and one was low and that could mean one of two things:  something that is under warranty (and free for us) or..."and we've seen this four other times today...rodent damage".  Rodent damage, surprise surprise, is not covered by a warranty.

James asked if they could keep it for another day so they could figure out what was wrong and what route to take.  THEY HADN'T EVEN LOOKED AT IT.  They had just hooked it up to the scanner and printed out a report of what a computer said was wrong with it.  SCOTT DID THAT TWO DAYS EARLIER.  In fact, he told me later that the printout said exactly what he saw on our scanner. An analogy that crossed my mind was that us taking the car in there was the equivalent of using WebMD.

We brought up the fact of Well, yeah, you can have it for another day because you still don't know what's wrong with it but why should we trust you because you didn't even call to tell us if it was ready or not.  We were particularly upset about that.  Like, we have jobs. You said you would try to have it ready at 3:30 but you didn't even call to give any kind of update, much less figured out what was wrong.

Wednesday morning, Scott drove me to work again.  It's worth saying that I'm not a morning person and look forward to my drive in solitude so this arrangement was not working out for us.  Scott had meetings all day and no cell phones were allowed. Toyota called me at 7:30am.  They said it was rodent damage and the part was $838 and the labor was $115 per hour and it would take 12-15 hours. Suddenly, between us leaving the night before at 4:30pm and 7:30am, they'd gotten their act together, ripped my SUV apart, and diagnosed my problem.  It must have been some sort of sorcery because I didn't realize things could move so quickly in that establishment.  Quotes had also been drawn up. They said we should probably call the insurance company.  Then they said I could come look at it and see the damage for myself.  I calmly replied that I don't have a car.  Then, I'm a teacher.  

I called Scott.  He, luckily, answered because he wasn't at work yet and said he'd try to go over on his lunch break.

I was left wondering and worrying all day but, alas, the show must go on. 

At 1:00ish, I got a text.

I felt kind of relieved that he'd taken care of the dirty work.  

When he picked me up from school, he told me how it went down.

He saw the damage they were referring to.  He was all WTF.  He said it was all chewed up and honestly looked liked parts of wires were cut.  He wasn't sure how he hadn't seen this before.  Or, rather, had it been like that before?  We weren't sure. When they told him of the $115 an hour for labor and 12-15 hours of work it would take to replace an $800 part....he called them out on it.  He said he didn't trust them.  He didn't think it was rodent damage.  He didn't believe their story about a mouse climbing up there and gnawing part of it while the rest looked like it had been cut with scissors.  While it is obviously possible that a mouse did some of the damage (we're not denying this), a mouse did NOT ruin the entire wiring harness with his little teeth. Scott said he didn't believe them at all and he was going to get a second opinion and he would never pay $115 an hour for them to do something he could do himself and did that $800 part really need to be replaced?  No, they said, but you really should to prevent further damage.  He asked them how long it would take for them to replace the wires.  They weren't sure until they "got in there and looked around".

Then he said that he didn't trust them because they didn't call when they said they would and they HADN'T CHANGED THE OIL YET, which they were supposed to do the day before and homeboy mechanic had his pants around his ankles and there were several others sitting around messing around with cell phones.  I'm sure that speaks volumes on how they rack up their labor rates; didn't these guys have work to do? He threw all of this at the customer service rep and said we'd pick it up at 4 and the oil better be changed.

It took them over 24 hours to actually look under the hood and another 5-6 hours to change the oil.  They didn't call us.  They quoted us ridiculous pricing.  When Scott complained about the cost of labor, they said they could drop it to $100 an hour.  To which he replied, Oh, so you can drag it out for an extra few hours and make it cost the same?    

We showed up at 5:00 to get the car.  They'd sworn it'd be ready by 2:30.  This is what I sent Scott after I got inside.  He didn't want to talk to them again.  

There were 6 people looking for the keys, the paperwork, and the car.  It took 15-20 minutes for me to get out of there because one of the guys wouldn't stop talking to me about cell phones.  Of course, he was quite occupied, playing with his cell phone and eating Chinese food at the front desk.  No wonder no one could find my paperwork.

I'd like to reiterate that this was the dealership.  This wasn't some backroad, backwoods mechanic.  This was the Larry H. Miller Toyota Dealership in Colorado Springs.  They are supposed to be reputable places of business.  It wasn't a used car lot.  

Scott bought the replacement wires for himself at an auto store a few days later.  They were $6.
Upon taking things apart, he realized that the wires looked to be cut (we could see the razor blade marks), not all had been chewed (though some had), AND they hadn't reassembled things properly.  Something with the gas tank was off (the charcoal canister) and codes were still popping up as a signal that something was wrong. We're assuming they did this to make money off of their customers and then, when they realized we weren't going to pay them to fix it, they continued down this path just to be difficult.  There were then several little things wrong with my car, mostly stemming from the cutting of wires.  Scott took a video and several pictures of the damage and left the dealership a few messages.

 The service manager called Scott this past Monday and offered to fix the car for free.  Scott said he didn't have time to sit there and watch and make sure they do it right.  They argued a bit about it and mentioned that they'd already gotten the terrible review I wrote (eh, I was kind, all things considered) so the company is offering to fix it for free.  They still stand by the fact that a mouse must have slit the wires with his teeth and pulled out 4 separate pieces, all exactly 5 inches long, and carried them away.  A more likely story is that the person who disassembled things cut all kinds of stuff, assuming that we would be paying them $2400 to replace it.  With the extra damage, the estimate Scott came up with is about $3,900 to fix.  They took a $6 problem, lied to make it a $2,400 problem, and created a $3,900.  (That is L-A-R-R-Y H. M-I-L-L-E-R Toyota of Colorado Springs.)

Scott took one more crack at it on Tuesday night.  He spent 3 hours outside under spotlights rewiring things and repairing the damage. And then, it was fixed.  All the codes disappeared when he scanned the car for the final time at 9:30pm.

The End.  

December 11, 2014

Stuff and Things 12/11

If you're wondering why there's no outfit posts as of late, I'm wondering too.  I'm lazy.  That's it.  Pretty cut and dry.

I'm still coughing my head off.  In an effort to stay on my read aloud schedule, I've been trying to read out loud at school (mustfinishbookbyChristmasbreak) and I just can't with this cough.  I find myself gasping for air.  Yesterday, I gave it to a kid to read out loud and I could continue sorting papers while they were listening.  Win-win. 

I sent [most of] our Christmas cards this week.  This year, they are going to Alaska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Missouri, just to name a few of the zip codes.  I never thought I'd have friends all over the country because I was strangely sheltered before the army came along.

Scott went on a pheasant hunt on Sunday and before he left he said, "Seriously.  Go do something.".  I suppose he said this because he knows that, left to my own devices, I'll just watch Netflix or something.

The something I did was go to the gym and it was rough.  I don't care what people say or how long is supposedly takes to acclimate to elevation.  I spent 27+ years at sea level.  Colorado is not working out for me.  Or, rather, I'm not working out in Colorado because it's physically painful.  I spend whole hours thinking about this problem and I don't know how to make it better.  Do I have to start all over again when it comes to fitness?

Then I did go home and watch Netflix.  Bomb Girls.  Have you seen it?  It's an interesting perspective of WWII.  I've been inundated with WWII lately.  I go through a phase every couple of years where everything I read/watch seems to be about the 1940s.

We were watching a story on the news about the book Wild and the fact that it's inspired many people to make that 1,000+ mile journey just like the author did.  They were interviewing hikers and chronicling their journeys.  This left us with a question:  Who are these people and how do they have this kind of time?  I think Scott understands more than anyone about just wanting to be outside and away from the daily grind; he hunts and fishes every chance he gets.  Not for the wild game, but for the experience.  However, he said that even he would never be able to justify such a hike.  I know plenty of people who do things like this over summer vacation if they're a teacher, but this trek would be too long for 2.5 months off.  Anyway, just a thought.

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