Friday, February 3, 2017

I'm Hearing Voices and I Don't Like It.




Surely someone with a working dinghy will give me a ride off this boat!



When Hans and I arrived back in Florida we already had seven doctors appointments scheduled. We are both believers in preventative medicine but since our insurance coverage is basically an HMO and good only in Florida and we'd been in PA for a few months we had no choice.

So, now, in addition to taxi-ing Wilbur ashore for his preventative therapy (i.e; just us avoiding poopy revenge attacks aboard the Knotty Cat in our absence), and when we aren't trying to figure out why the dinghy motor has become a huge stinker leaving us adrift in the mooring field, we sit in doctors' offices filling out paperwork. Unfortunately though, it seems like every appointment we keep just spawns itself into yet another one. Colonoscopy? An office visit first, then the procedure, then a follow-up. Cataracts? Office visit, possible PCP visit next (even though you were there for a physical last week), then hopefully surgery and of course another follow-up. Mammogram? Office visit first... ad nauseum. Our original seven appointments have morphed into thirteen so far and I expect that number will grow.

Oh, and after you finally figure out which lab your insurance covers for blood work just try to make an appointment. The other day I sat in our car on my phone for an entire hour while Hans was at one of his doctors appointments (and trying not to worry about what might be happening to the groceries we'd gone and bought that were sitting in our trunk). After a half hour on hold with our insurance carrier I finally got the number of a lab. And then the fun really started. My entire transaction with the lab involved me 'talking' to a woman's computer generated voice and while I'm not a fan of this kind of service I admit I did get an appointment rather quickly. It was only after I hung up that I realized I'd gone and committed to an afternoon appointment when my blood-work was supposed to be done in the AM.

I googled the lab and dialed their local number. I then hit the number 0 on my phone in that old tried and true method of bypassing the 'voice' in order to speak to a real person.

The following is our dialogue.


Voice (far too cheerful because she knew she held the cards): You've indicated you'd like to speak to a person. I'm sorry (no she wasn't), that option isn't available. Please visit our website at www.wereallydontgiveashit.com.

I'd already been to that website and it hadn't helped at all so I called the original number back in order to talk to the voice who'd been so helpful the first time around.

Voice: How can I help you? (She kindly gave me a list of options. I chose 'reschedule an appointment', SIMPLE!)

Voice: Would you like to reschedule a date, time, or location?

Me: Date and time.

Voice: You'd like to reschedule a date and time. Great (really? that's great?)! What day would you like?

I chose the same date. I just wanted morning instead of afternoon.

Voice: You chose February eighth. What time would you like?

Me (getting all excited because this really was simple after all): 10:00!

Voice (dramatic pause): Ohhhh, I'm sorry! That time isn't available. Let me tell you what times I do have. I have 2:45 and 4:30.

Me: NO!

Voice: Okay. Let's pick a different day. What day would you like?

Me: February ninth.

Voice: You chose February ninth. What time would you like?

Me: 10:00.

Voice: (dramatic pause): Ohhhh, I'm sorry! That time isn't available. Let me tell you what times I do have. I have 1:15 and 2:30.

Me: NO!

Voice: Okay. Let's pick a different day. What day would you like?

Me (in addition to getting really tired of Voice's phony sympathy and ready to tear my hair out for fear I'd have to go through an entire calendar month): You **%#ing bitch!

Voice (dramatic pause and then quite primly): I'm sorry, I don't understand that request (oh yes she did!). Voice (continuing in a wounded tone): What day would you like?

Feeling bad now that I'd offended Voice, I picked another day and she finally gave gave me my 10:00 appointment.


Now I just have to hope for a calm, non-windy morning in order to get ashore without the dinghy motor failing and getting soaked in order to pass out while getting my blood drawn.


But before that happens Wilbur will want to go ashore because he knows the other marina dogs have marked his spots from the previous day and the marina employees are just dying to see him...


Multiply this times thirteen and you now have an idea of what life is like for us here on the waters of Florida.


Noooo! Don't make me get back on the boat! I have to piss on that tree that Harry just pissed on!

 
 
 

 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Home. Again

 

Very pretty. But cold


It seems like we'd barely unpacked our bags in Hooterville this past spring where the grass never stopped growing when all of a sudden it was January 1st and time to repack and head back to the boat.

Just like that, nine months of hard work was over.

Speaking of hard work, December didn't disappoint as we were busier than hell and my Pacer App logged in several 10 mile waitressing days. Dear Friend and I were beyond counting down the days, we were now counting down the hours, and yes, finally the minutes to when the inn would shut its doors for the season.



Again, very pretty. But cold.



I crawled through the door of our little farmhouse after my very last shift, took a shower, put on my pjs and fluffy robe, and collapsed into my camp chair. Everything from my arches, heels, and ankles, to my back ached, and while I've never taken a Xanex or Valium in my life I believe I now know what it must feel like. Knowing there would be no more emergency summons (Oh my god! Get your uniform on, we need to go in early!), I let the stress of the last month drip off me and I felt like a strand of overdone spaghetti while I dozed in front of our space heater and TV while snowflakes drifted outside our windows.

This occurred at noon and I pretty much stayed comotose until collapsing in bed and sleeping soundly til the next day.

 

But, it was time to get back to our boat. Our home.


I tearfully hugged Dear Friend goodbye and we departed on a 17 degree(F) morning and crossed the state in order to visit the cutest baby in the world (our granddaughter!). Andi greeted me with one of those huge smiles only a three month old can pull off wherein her whole body contorted and we all got a wonderful view of her toothless gums. She then demonstrated to Papa Hans just exactly how far she can stick out her tiny lower lip before letting loose a banshee wail.

On a different note I have to say I'm extremely pleased to find my son is an excellent cook and not one of his dishes contained Skittles.


Our next trek was further south where we spent a couple of couch-potato filled days with our youngest daughter and her girlfriend. Baby Girl has a knack for picking out great movies to watch and we finally got to see 'The Martian'. And also on a different note, I'm extremely pleased to note Baby Girl is an excellent cook and even though I love Chinese takeout, it was not on the menu this time.

 

We once again piled into our car (man it was still cold outside!) and this time we aimed straight south. At each rest-stop we would shed a layer of clothing and all of a sudden we were in Florida. Well, not really 'all of a sudden' as we had to fight our way through some of the craziest traffic and insane drivers I've ever encountered.



Are we there yet?


We (mostly I) were vastly relieved to find the Knotty Cat in excellent form (ie; cockroach free) and she was launched with little fanfare. A lot of drama on my part was avoided when we were informed that we could spend the night on the wall and not have to leave within an hour of launching. This allowed me time to scrub the topsides (three hours alone on this project), do a quick provisioning run (bread, lunchmeat, COFFEE, etc...), drain and fill our water tanks, make up our berth, put away all our junk (how does one stuff so much stuff into a Corolla is beyond me) and try to talk Wilbur into using a potty patch again. Gone are his long days of 'boys only' walks with Hans in the countryside.



After working on the outside all day long there's no sitting down until all this crap finds a home!


We left early the next morning, got through a lock and arrived at our home for now.


I fear progress took a giant leap forward while we were on the farm and has quickly surpassed us. Since the water fountain at a rest-stop was frozen, I asked Hans to get me a bottle of water and just as I was ready to send out a search and rescue team he arrived back at the car in a foul mood. It would appear the vending machine not only didn't take quarters, it didn't state just how much said water would cost. "Oh, I know how many calories everything there has, like I give a shit!" He huffed. "But I have no idea what the hell I just spent on this damned water!" He was livid. "For all I know some asshole is using my credit card now!"

I had to laugh and brought up the movie The Martian. "You know, Matt Damon might have been able to get off Mars with all his MacGyverish methods but after being up there a couple of years I bet he wouldn't be able to figure out these vending machines either."

I was hoping there hadn't been too much progress on the waterways while we were gone but then we jumped onto our Active Captain App. Let's just say I'm glad we have a couple of months to figure things out again.

 

Very pretty. And warm.

 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Real Legend of Christmas

 
Once upon a time, many, many years ago every Christmas Eve, Santa Claus relied upon Wilbur the Red Nosed Pit Bull to help him deliver presents to good little boys and girls and kittehs (but not very many kittehs as they are seldom well behaved) and dogs all over the world. Wilbur was eager to please and loved helping Santa. Wilbur's jaws were strong so that even in the worst of weather he never lost a present and was able to carefully place toys and treats underneath every Christmas Tree.




Then something very bad happened.

One year an especially evil kitteh who wasn't going to get any presents from Santa, because, well, because it was a kitteh and therefore evil, and because it was especially jealous of Wilbur the Red Nosed Pit Bull, pulled a nasty trick.

The night before Christmas Eve the evil kitteh said to Wilbur, "Wilbur, I am your friend and you should try some of this silly water. It is very tasty and it will make you feel good." Wilbur was very happy that a kitteh would be so nice to him and to show his appreciation, he drank many cans of this fun stuff.



Wilbur did feel silly and then he became quite dizzy and passed out cold. Poor Wilbur slept right through Christmas. Santa Claus looked and looked for him but the evil kitteh told Santa that Wilbur said he had better things to do than help a fat old man in a red suit deliver presents to a bunch of snotty nosed brats.


Santa was desperate and immediately contacted a Red Nosed Reindeer he'd heard of named Rudolph to assist him. Rudolph, who was a huge sissy and was never allowed to play in any Reindeer games, had nothing better to do anyway and agreed to help.



And so history took a turn that has long since been forgotten.

Rudolph went down in history as a hero and ended up with the girl.

Pit Bulls became vilified.

Kittehs however, will forever remain evil.

And if Paul Harvey were alive today this legend would end with, "And now you know the rest of the story."

Good day, Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, and Happy Holidays to one and all from the crew of the Knotty Cat.

 

Originally posted in December 2013. This year I'm too lazy to be original so I'm just reprinting it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Getting the Cold Shoulder


When we left Pennsylvania a few years ago and headed south I couldn't wait to be shut of 50 plus years of dreary winters. However, we ended up moving too far south and found ourselves in the tropics of Florida where the weather there consists of nine months of ankle sweating and a mere three months of being able to venture outside without melting. Just one extreme to another.

When we arrived back here in Hooterville I quickly realized how much I'd missed the changing seasons along with the beautiful topography. Where Florida is flat and mainly consists of but one kind of tree along with endless strip malls, Pennsylvania has mountains, valleys, and trees galore. This fall when we were out for one of our Sunday drives in the country, we crested a hill and the view of the valley below us consisted of a small country church, a farm with horses and cows wandering the pastures, and again, all those trees. I've always wanted to visit Vermont but after our year here, I no longer feel the need.

The only drawback to our beautiful spring and summer was the fact that we never did get Dear Friend's lawnmower working and the grass and weeds quickly grew to epic heights. Eventually a friend of Dear Friend's came over with a brush hog and we no longer feared losing Wilbur in the jungle while Hans played with his fire pit. In the mornings while we sat at our little kitchen table we were entertained by an abundance of insect life outside our window that were drawn to the flowering weeds close to the house that the brush hog couldn't reach. Actually, without all the lawn manicuring we've become used to in our previous lives, we both kind of like a more natural setting. Mother Nature does a pretty good job on her own and I know the bees love it.

Fire pit fun. Look at that grass.


Our Sunday drives continued into the fall and we experienced the vibrant colors of the trees and we didn't have to spent big bucks on a B&B to enjoy them, we just opened our curtains every morning. But fall never does last long enough and boom! winter was upon us.


I've used this one before but I love it.

Something we noticed this summer and very much enjoyed was the fact that our house is cool. Not groovy cool, mind you, but cool, temperature wise. Now that winter is here it's not so cool to be cool! In order to conserve heat, we've strung a blanket across the door from the living room (where in addition to living, we sleep) to the kitchen and with the electric baseboard heat on and a space heater plugged in, we're pretty comfortable.

In the living room.

For awhile we called the kitchen our walk-in refrigerator (it's actually colder than our fridge) but, when the temperatures dropped to single digits, we called it our 'sub-zero', and it's quite safe to leave food out without fear of getting sick. You can see your breath in there and the walk to the bathroom (where we thankfully have another space heater) is quite brisk.


Come winter, a twenty foot praying mantis could be lurking beyond that frozen window and we'd never see it.


I mentioned in my last post that due to a polar vortex we spent a weekend at the inn. Since Dear Friend advised us to leave a space heater on in the cellar to prevent frozen pipes, we took our passports and Wilbur's health records with us. We were relieved upon returning home to find the house hadn't burned down in our absence and we went back to our regular routine. The next morning after switching on the coffee pot and turning on the space heater in the bathroom, I was in the middle of washing my face when the power went out. We finally found the right breaker switch in the cellar, and now know that you either freeze your fanny in the bathroom if you want coffee right away, or you pee in comfort with the heater on and wait for that coffee.

The other day Hans noticed my soaping thermometer sitting on a shelf in the kitchen and wondered if the 40 degrees it showed was accurate and if it could register lower temps.


The mystery has been solved.

So, when people ask me if I miss the palm trees and beaches of Florida? My answer? Suprisingly, no, I really don't.

I've never claimed to be normal.

 

Wilbur's ready.

 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Winter Wonderland

 
 
This past weekend Hans and I went back in time and while I wish I could say it was a 'simpler' time, it wasn't. What happened was; a polar vortex (when I was a kid we called it snow) swept through our area dumping a couple of feet of the white stuff upon us. This vortex couldn't have come at a worse time as Santa was due to make his appearance at the inn for Breakfast with Santa on Saturday morning and let me tell you when Santa is on his way there's a hell of a lot of preparation involved. This meant that on Friday night (but only after the last of the diners have gone home) all the tables in the main dining room had to be completely rearranged and prepped for the jolly man's visit (and put back to normal after the whole shebang was done).



With the dire threat of weather moving in it was decided that instead of sending us home in a blizzard only to come back a few hours later, the affected staff should spend the weekend. And that's how Hans (weekend pianist), Wilbur (wannabe dishwasher), and I (waitress) found ourselves back in the same room we lived in last year. After Santa's visit I had to change out of my elf costume (seriously) and into my uniform for a company Christmas party, so my day started at 7AM and ended around 11PM. The next morning I was up early and getting one of our small dining rooms ready for a private party due for brunch.

We weren't sure what Wilbur would think about all this but after a couple of hours he got into the swing of things. We're pretty sure he enjoyed a consistently heated room (we turn the electric heat off when we leave the house), and he loved his outside romps with Hans. Wilbur's desire to mark where other dogs have gone before him far outweighed his hatred of the cold.

So, I have to share this one story here. It was on Thursday that I called Hans telling him to go ahead and pack up our belongings and the dog and come to the inn before the snow hit the fan. Right around 2PM, seventy-eight elementary kids had just exited their 'learning manners lunch' in our main dining room when I heard (and felt) something thundering through the room.

I was stunned to realize the thunder was Wilbur.

Unleashed.

You've no idea what it's like to unexpectedly see your dog hurl himself through your work place.

Wilbur stopped when he could go no further and then sniffed frantically at the floor. "Come to Mama," I hopefully called. He lifted his head when he heard me and then took off in the opposite direction. Luckily another delicious smell caught him up short and I was able to snag his collar. That's when I saw a perplexed Hans standing at the dining room door.

I think I lost it about then and I won't relay what I'm pretty sure I said (screamed). Anyway, Hans, in the midst of navigating the dog and our belongings to our room, let Wilbur off his leash... and needless to say, Wilbur followed his nose. I'm just thankful the dining room was empty. Imagine the flood of outraged phone calls we would have received from the parents of all those traumatized students!

It didn't happen again.


We finally arrived home, turned up the heat, plugged in the space heater, and threw blankets over our confused pit bull. I have to say, as much as Wilbur may have enjoyed his adventure at the inn he's been happy to once again sleep in our Queen Size bed on the floor instead of falling out of the 'way up high' Double Size bed at the inn all night long.


Contemplating ways to get back into the dining room.

 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Surviving


It seems like just yesterday that Hurricane Mathew was in the news and Hans and I were wondering if we'd have a boat to go home to in January. After days of listening to the 'We Love and Live for Severe Weather Action News Team' happily vacillate between, 'It's gonna miss Florida', to, 'Everyone in Florida's gonna die!' and then hearing that 90MPH winds were expected to hit the boat yard at 2 AM where our Knotty Cat sits, I simply went to bed.

Thankfully, the winds were a lot closer to 40 MPH and the Knotty Cat survived although we know some stuff on deck got blown around. We'll have to wait until January to find out for ourselves the extent as no one has access to her innards.

No sooner did we get past the hurricane, than we endured the election. Again, a lot of hot wind got blown around. But it's over. Finally. Well, not really. Those crack news teams will keep us posted.

And now we get to worry about winter as we live in the heart of a snow belt. We are down to less than two months of living here and this weekend we got hit with our first snowstorm and it was a doozy. Yesterday Wilbur was happily frolicking about in 70 degree weather and today bitter cold gusts of wind were whistling up his butt. I'd forgotten what it's like to scrape a vehicle while icy snow finds its way down the collar of my coat and we fear Wilbur may not poop again until spring.


Last week

Last night. Add about 10 more inches of snow and drop the temperature to 34F.


Wilbur lying on a floor without pillows? That must be a pretty potent heater

 

But in the meantime, we have to get through that marathon known as Thanksgiving. Hans will be on the piano and once again I'll be waiting tables and we expect a thousand or so people at the inn this year. Last year I hit the floor in the morning and didn't finish until after 6PM, all without ever taking a bathroom break or eating anything. I really have no explanation for this.

We did manage to escape for a couple of days and drove across the state to see my new granddaughter. Of course she's beautiful, and such a happy, content baby. I wouldn't let go of her and held her for several sweaty hours at a time.

But, oh my, baby technology gadgets have certainly evolved over the years. Baby swings? They aren't swings anymore, they're remote controlled pod-like seats mounted on pedestals and are swooped up and down and all about with your choice of sounds: rain, heartbeats, music... The nursery? It has strategically placed cameras so the baby can be seen and heard on your iPhone while alone. Although it will be awhile before Baby sleeps there since she's still in with Mom and Dad. Baby's infant seat is so versatile it locks into not only the car, but the stroller, the jogging stroller, and the play pen. At one point I asked if Baby needed to be changed and my son opened her sleeper, took a quick peek at the front of her diaper, and said no. It seems that diapers these days have whimsical prints that change color if the diaper is soiled. Gone are the days of sniffing Baby's butt while yanking down the back of the diaper with your fingers.

It was really hard to leave but I have to say this baby is in excellent hands. We get weekly updates and plan on one last visit before heading south in January.

Hans couldn't get over the tiny fingers


More 'Life in the Country' stuff: I don't know if it was a good thing or not that Hans was oblivious to what was going on between Dear Friend and me the other day and therefor didn't have his camera at the ready. Dear Friend's doxies spend a good deal of their day yipping and yapping. Period. We've grown used to it and even Wilbur ignores them. However, the day came that the yipping escalated into hysterical screams and since I was still in my pink robe and slippers, instead of rushing to the rescue, I called Dear Friend to inform her that one of her doxies was apparently being eaten alive.

But I couldn't just stand by, so out the door I went anyway. And there in the middle of our dirt road I met Dear Friend and she was also in her pink robe and slippers. What we couldn't understand was why all three of her doxies were now galavanting and cavorting without a care in the world. And then we both spotted a very pissed off cat up a tree right in front of us. The screaming had been a result of the 'treeing' but by now the dogs were bored. The cat eventually ran away and both Dear Friend and I were relieved Hans didn't get that lovely picture of us in our robes as it was well past noon. Hey, we had to be at work later so you can't blame us for waiting until the last minute to get dressed.

 

Yum! Kittehs taste just like chicken

 

At the inn we're on a countdown til the season ends, while Hans and I are on a countdown until we leave for the boat. Life is flying by quickly.


 

Friday, September 23, 2016

All Kindsa Busy


And boy do I mean busy!


What I thought was going to be a part time waitressing job has for the most part been full time. The inn experienced a very busy summer, so busy in fact that I nearly missed my daughter-in-law's baby shower. I'm not kidding. This was July and if the shower had been held on Saturday instead of Sunday... Well, anyway, I was able to attend and we enjoyed one of those perfect sunny, humid-free Pennsylvania summer days.


At the end of the event there was just one present remaining and it was from my son. After the wrapping paper came off I saw that it was a car seat box. Well, I guess they need one, I thought, and then all of a sudden a bunch of balloons erupted from the box and everyone around me shrieked. Now this is how stupid I am; I leaned forward to see what the hell in that box got those women all worked up. Seriously, I tried peering around the pink balloons and totally missed the one with with 'It's a Baby Girl' printed on it before I caught on.



So much for that wonderful day off, I was once again back on the job. Busy nights, lunch shifts, weddings, and dinner theaters. Just last week Dear Friend and I started our day with a wedding and ended it with a dinner theater. That's two full shifts of setting up, serving, and tearing down, and 13 hours later we limped home. The next morning we were right back at it with a dinner theater matinee. I keep thinking things will slow down but I guess I'll have to wait until January when we finally close for the winter.

I will never tire of county fairs and at the end of the summer we did manage to grab a few hours at our local one. We inhaled the wonderful scents of hot sausage, cow barns, pizza, funnel cakes, and pig stalls.



In between work shifts I continue to experiment with my soap making. I find it to be an immensely satisfying hobby and it just kills me to wait for a concoction to set up before the unmolding of it. Actually, during crazy shifts at work I placate myself with the promise of what secret design I might discover once I arrive home, get into my pajamas, pour a glass of wine, and slice into a new loaf. I have so much soap curing our little farm house smells like a cross between a Ye Olde Gift Shoppe and an antique store. Thank god we can always use soap.

Soap rounds


Soap swirls


Dear Friend and I have managed to fit in a few more Amish runs with the last one being exceptionally successful (remember, these Amish stores sell overstocked, damaged, or expired goods. And they sell anything and everything). In addition to tons of beef jerky and a huge can of $20.00 Nido (powdered whole milk) for 5 bucks, I lucked into a big box of loose cans of club soda for 5 cents each. I gleefully pounced on this find and it was only after I'd emptied most of the box that I saw a huge (and I mean HUGE) spider scuttle out from under a can I was about to grab. All I can say is, a certain little Amish girl must have been very brave or really industrious and desirous of the approximately 40 cents worth of remaining club soda in that box, because she whacked that spider so hard a can burst open and sprayed all over the condoms in the next box over. I would've taken a picture of the beast but it's entirely possible that Amish spiders may share in the belief of their human Amish counterparts and shun graven images.

I didn't feel it polite to ask.


Fall has finally arrived and if anything I find myself working even more hours. The weather has been phenomenal and Wilbur is very much enjoying his life with Hans. They go on 'boys only' walks every day on their 'no girls allowed' trails.

But most of all I've been waiting for news about my future granddaughter.

Until a couple of days ago.

Little Andi Elizabeth took her time but finally arrived weighing in at 6 pounds 13 ounces.

And just like that, we're grandparents and Wilbur's an uncle.

 

You don't think there's a chance that she's cuter than me, do you?