Terry and I went to our (nearly) local Christmas tree farm a week ago Monday and bought our Christmas tree. We put it up and decorated it, including all of our Star Trek and NASA ornaments. On Saturday we were sitting in our recliners, minding our own business, watching Pioneer Woman on Food Network when [WHOP!] the tree fell over. Just like that. Seems the base was too small for the tree.
Terry went to Home Depot and got a new base which was too big. She went back and exchanged it for one that was (you guessed it) just right. We decided that we had had enough activity for one day and put off (re) decorating the tree until Sunday. On Sunday we did just that.
We’re happy with our (re) decorated tree, but that was excitement which we did not need.
Still, the tree is up and beautiful and solid now, and we are prepared to enjoy our Christmas.
Happy Christmas to you, wherever you are.
We did not do a holiday letter this year. It is the first time in recent memory that we haven’t done one. I was simply not up to it. Or, more accurately, I was not up to writing about things which I figured people would just as soon not read about.
I wrote in last year’s letter the harsh medication I was taking to shrink the GIST (gastrointestinal stromal tumor) on my duodenum didn’t shrink it and that I would require surgery. I didn’t think that people would be interested in my three-and-half day hospital stay for the surgery in February and the fact that I was in three different rooms during that time. I thought it would probably be TMI to write about my setback in March which put me back in the hospital for the better part of a week, and which could have been entirely avoided had I been given more complete directions about eating slowly and thoroughly chewing my food. I doubted that friends and family would care to know that I had had a tube through my nose to my stomach or that the surgical people on Day 4 finally spoke to the gastroenterological people who did an endoscopic procedure and removed two pieces of mushroom that were causing the blockage (in conjunction with the normal post-surgical swelling).
Those are the kind of things that one simply doesn’t want to put in a holiday letter, but those things informed the first third of my year.
On the other hand, people might get a chuckle to read that as Terry was finishing up her physical therapy from her knee replacement surgery (right in advance of my own surgery) she told her team that she needed to be able to pick up a thirty-five pound dog and put it on the bed, since I would be unable to do so. The physical therapy team adjusted Terry’s routine to accommodate that. And folks might like to know that our thirty-five pound dog, Tasha, now fifteen-and-a-half years old, continues to thrive.
Friends and family might like to know that Terry, who went on leave from Horizon Solar Power in advance of her knee surgery, went back to work after I recovered from my setback and continues to enjoy her work as a permit runner. They might care to know that at Good Shepherd Episcopal Church we finally, after nearly three years, called a rector who is turning out to be the exact right fit for the parish. And perhaps they might also be interested that I continue to manage the web site and the weekly e-news for the church.
Those of you who are connected with me on Facebook probably saw this, but those who aren’t might like to know that after six months of not being allowed any red meat, my surgeon released me from that restriction in August. Terry immediately went out to In-n-Out and got me a Double Double. It was marvelous! And I suppose people would be interested in knowing that a CT scan in September showed no sign of anything amiss in my digestive tract. Oh, and folks might be amused that Terry was jealous that my scar disappeared more quickly than hers, even though her surgery was four months before mine.
If you remember that I was an avid baker of bread after our kitchen remodel in Gilroy you might appreciate the fact that I am baking bread once again. Our oven died and the cost to fix it was nearly half the price of buying a new stove. We ordered a Samsung model with a grill burner and convection oven before my surgery. It did not show up until I was well on the road to recovery from my setback. A perfect time to relearn my bread baking skills.
So that is our year. We are enjoying our holiday season and are looking forward to getting our Christmas tree tomorrow, which we had to forego last year as Terry’s healing cyber-knee was not up to the task.
Very best wishes to you and yours this holiday season!
You may recall that I was looking forward to picking up my new eyeglasses. I had ordered two pair, progressive and single-focus for the computer. The verdict after a couple of weeks: I am delighted.
For the progressive lenses I ordered a slightly larger frame than what I had before, so when I’m driving I sometimes need to move my eye to a little different spot on the lens, but that’s fine. In church I realized that I can hold the hymnal or the Book of Common Prayer out in front of me rather than trying to peer out from under my glasses. And it’s more pleasant watching television.
My new computer glasses make sitting at my desktop PC very pleasant. It’s now most enjoyable to work on my blog there. Using my iPad with my lap desk while sitting on the bed in the evening is also much more comfortable.
I made sure the frames were different enough to easily distinguish between the two. My computer frames have a somewhat rounder shape than the progressive ones and they also have an additional bridge piece across the nose that is not on the progressives. If I have taken both pair off I immediately know which one I am looking at. (And in any case, if I get up and walk around using my computer glasses I definitely know that I am wearing them. With the previous pair I could get up and take Tasha for a walk and be halfway up the block before I realized I had my computer glasses on.)
I was way past due in getting my eye exam. The coating was peeling off my progressive glasses and my computer glasses weren’t doing the job. I needed new glasses, but I was watching the dollars and cents.
After Social Security kicked in, which happened in September, I decided to move forward. I wanted to get my glasses locally, rather than driving to Kaiser in Moreno Valley, about 45 minutes away. With the AARP/EyeMed discount I thought I could get a good price at our Hemet LensCrafters. But Kaiser provides a no-copay eye exam, so I made the schlep to Moreno Valley for that. While I was there I got a quote on both progressive and computer glasses. I didn’t realize how good the price was.
The next day I went to the LensCrafters here and was in for an unpleasant surprise. Their price was $400 more than Kaiser. Yikes! I thought about checking out Walmart, but the Yelp and Google reviews about the local Walmart were quite negative: both with respect to the staff and the quality of the eyewear.
So back to Kaiser, 45 minutes notwithstanding, on Monday, a week ago today. Fortunately Kaiser was open, even though it was Veterans Day. (Yes, I checked first.) The optician was great. She helped me find a pair of frames that I liked for my progressives, and went out of her way to help me find a pair of frames for my computer glasses that I could quickly and easily distinguish from my progressives. (I need that. I will get up from the computer and go off an do something, only to realize that I’m still wearing my computer glasses.)
The optician said it would take two weeks for the two pair to arrive, but I had a call this morning saying that they were in. I’m looking forward to picking them up.
Today is November 1st, and for me there are always two things of note on this day. It is All Saints’ Day on the Episcopal calendar, and it is the day in 2005 on which we brought Tasha home from the shelter.
When we first brought Tasha home she had a lot of puppy in her, and when we were away she would go through the trash cans in the house. We bought multiple covered trash cans to deal with that. It eventually became something that we didn’t worry about too much.
When we moved south in 2015, without even thinking too much about it, we put an uncovered trash basket in the laundry room. That wasn’t an issue until a couple of months ago, when, on two instances, Tasha tore into that trash basket. She still has the puppy in her when the urge arises. I went to Target and bought a covered trash can for the laundry room.
At her age, however, she is still adaptable. Her afternoon walk has always been mid-afternoon, around 2:00 p.m. or so. But this summer it was just too hot, so we shifted her walk to early evening, around six-ish. She was happy with that. She seemed to agree about the heat.
Tasha is our amazing child who still keeps us surprised after all these years,
When we left Gilroy in 2015 our outdoor gas grill was one of the things that didn’t make the cut. We were here in Hemet for two years before we bought a new gas grill. When we did my brother asked me whether we were going to own our own propane tank or use the swap-out system. As I wrote back then, I didn’t know we had a choice. For us and our neighbors on Arbor St. in Gilroy, all we knew was that you picked up a full tank at Orchard Supply or Home Depot and swapped it out when it was empty. I quickly discovered that it was much less expensive to buy your own tank and refill it as needed.
Since we have been doing that here in Hemet there has only been one place that we have gotten our refills: Trailer Supply. It was a mom and pop shop where it was easy to get the task done. And I mean literally “mom and pop.” A husband and wife ran it without any additional help that I ever saw. The husband filled my tank and wrote down on a post-it the amount of propane he had dispensed. I went inside and paid the wife. Simple and easy.
And now they are gone. Closed. Just like that. The store is on my route home from church so the closure caught my eye. I realize that we did not use our grill once this year, as I wrote. But we expect to be back in the grilling business next spring. We’ll have to find another source for our propane. A couple of the big gas stations in town sell propane, but that I would expect to be a hassle. With customers coming and going, filling up their vehicles and paying at the counter, getting someone to leave their post behind said counter to refill your propane could be difficult. There is a farm supply store in the tiny town of Winchester, just a few miles from us, which has a sign saying that they sell propane. I think we’ll give them a try.
But we won’t have to worry about that until next spring.
It was a year ago at this time that we were getting ready for Terry’s Knee surgery. At the same time I needed to get a new set of blades for my Norelco electric razor. When I checked the prices on Amazon I was taken aback by cost of replacement blades. I could buy a new razor for that price, I thought. So I did. I bought a low-end model.
Big mistake. I never liked the feel of the razor in my hand and the shaves I got were not all that great.
Now here it is a year later. I went to Amazon to buy replacement blades. No Norelco blades came up for that razor. What did come up was a third-party set of blades with really poor ratings. So I checked the Norelco web site. No blades for that razor on the Norelco web site either. Really? Really.
So I took the opposite approach. I ordered a mid-range Norelco razor. Not the cheapest, but not the most expensive. Something right in the middle. I’m quite happy with it. It gives me a close, smooth save.
Sometimes it’s not a good idea to sacrifice quality for price.