Grueling Road Trip, But Worth It

My MIL’s memorial service was in MN a few days ago.  For us, it was a two days’ drive out, a day there, and two more days on the road to get home.  It was a lovely service, and it was great to get together again with family members and tell stories.

Each way, we had to stop at Dos Reales for Mexican food.  It’s a long time tradition going back 20+ years.  Their prices have gone up, but it’s still a heck of a bargain for the amount of food you get.  $2.75 for an overstuffed taco, $4.99 for a HUGE chili relleno, a la carte, and $11-14 for meal combos that, imo, could feed three people.  We always go away with leftovers.  Not a problem when the hotel room has a fridge.  I think their usual clientele are not good tippers, because when the bill comes to $31-something, with brewkis, and we leave $40, telling the waiter “no change,” he looks stunned before thanking us profusely.

Aside from sitting on our butts in a vehicle from anywhere from eight to 14 hours a day, driving, the weather changed like crazy.  It was in the mid-80s the day we left, then overnight, was down in the 40s; the next day, we got hit with sub-freezing temps, and sleet storms.  The day of the memorial service, it was snowing.

Thankfully, aside from my Tyrolean jacket to wear for the service, I brought along what I jokingly refer to as my “Eskimo parka.”  It isn’t one, but is sort of styled like one, comes down to my knees, and looks a whole lot warmer than it really is.  It served me well.

One thing that surprised me a bit was that non-family who showed up for the service were dressed as though they were out running errands.  I’m used to seeing people dressed up for these things.  I was told the dress code was casual, but I felt a bit overdressed.  Oh, well.  Nobody cared.

The best things were all the people who came out in the snow to attend, and just getting together with family to talk about memories of the deceased, and how fantastic she was.

All in all, it was brutal traveling, but fantastic to be there.  No way would I have missed it for the world.

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Knock Me Over

Our power went out earlier today, shortly before noon.  It’s cold, but sunny, and not at all windy, so I don’t know what caused it, but after waiting maybe 15 minutes to see if it would come back on, I decided to phone it in to the electric company.  Navigated through voice jail and got a live person fairly quickly.  Turns out that about 400 customers were affected.  Was told a technician had already been dispatched, and to expect power back by 2pm.  It was back on by 12:30.

The customer service woman was extremely polite and professional.  What a difference from Verizon.  They put you on hold forever, then act like you’re wasting their time unless you upgrade your service.  Knock me over with a feather.

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New Dentist at Old Place

I’m rather impressed with the new dentist at the old practice I used to use.  Nothing he told me today about my molar abscess was unexpected.  That tooth got broken over 30 years ago, so I ended up with a root canal and a crown.

Was fine for two years, then it developed an abscess at the roots that required a nice little fix that involved something akin to sawing or drilling into my jaw to fix.  All was good for the next ~30 years, until last Thursday.

Anyway, the guy actually listened to me, and agreed after looking a the x-ray that it was indeed an abscess.  Duh.  Yeah, I know — been there, done that.  He even laughed when I said “If the abscess was closer to the gum line, I probably could have squished it out myself,” and replied “I’ve done that on many a patient.”

Today, the swelling went down a bit this morning, I think, but it could be my imagination.  The worst of it was over the weekend.  The dentist thought it might be draining a little with my gum massaging.

That tooth might need to go, and be replaced by an implant, but, in the meantime, I got an Rx for a week’s worth of ampicillin, to try to get rid of the infection.  A week’s supply of that cost me $10, w/o drug insurance, or discounts.  Yay for generics at a local family owned pharmacy.

Best thing is that walking into the dentist’s office is that no face muzzles were required.  Only the staff wore them, and that might have been for legal reasons.  I figured ahead of time that an x-ray and and antibiotic Rx would be involved.  They were, but the bill was quite reasonable.

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Whatever Happened to Private Practices?

One thing I’ve noticed over the past few years is that private practices have almost disappeared.  I’m not talking about old-time country doctors who used to make house calls.  This is happening with dentists, eye doctors, and MDs, whatever their specialty.

It was not that unusual for a doctor to join a local medical group, but you could still get an appointment with your longtime practitioner.  In the old days, the doctor or dentist had one receptionist, and maybe someone who kept the books.

My previous dentist, who I loved, left a joint practice, while it was shut down during covid.  She was the main dentist there, aside from a prosthodontist, who came in two days a month, because his main practice was elsewhere.  She could do root canals, and crowns.

So, I went looking for a new dentist.  One place presented its star dentist as a prosthodontist, periodontist, and general dentist.  Total lie.  When I called to inquire, I was told “She can’t do do that.  She’s a general dentist, and you would have to go to a specialist to treat an abscess, but we can do cleanings and x-rays.”  Dafuq?

My previous dental practice has a new dentist there, but at least they could wedge me in tomorrow morning.  They have my dental records, and will still give me a 20% discount for paying cash.  Wish me luck.  The molar that’s got the abscess down by the roots already had a root canal, and got a crown 25 years ago.

Mostly, I think this needs draining, if possible, and some penicillin.  We’ll see.  At least I get a 20% discount for paying cash, and the receptionist who answered my call looked up my records, then put me on hold to go confer with the new dentist there.  God love her.

Eye doctors have gotten to be the same.  The doctors are fine, but usually, the administrative staff is for the birds.

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My Mother is Funny and Carved Bear

Not really ha-ha funny, but she does have a sense of humor.  We visited again today, bringing over several items she asked me to order online for her.  I already had one thing in reserve for her, for a stocking stuffer, so I told her “No, don’t pay me back for that, because I was going to give them to you anyway.”  She stuffed an extra $10 in cash in the envelope for me above what I said the other items cost.  I took it out, left it on the counter; she told me that’s your money, and reiterated that she only owed me $30, for the other two items, not $40.  She didn’t complain.

Then, she put another item on my list to order for her.  She can’t use a computer to order stuff online for herself.  She can barely use an ancient iPad to read her email.  These are Snoozies brand house slipper with non-slip soles.  The soles are thin, but they have little polyurethane dots on the bottom.

I bought her a pair several years ago, on a lark, and she loved them so much that since then, I’ve bought her a few more pairs at her request.  They don’t last that long before the soles wear out (maybe a year), but she can walk in them in the house using her Rollator.  She now wants two or three more pairs.  No problem.  I have to order them online, since I can’t just walk into any gift store and find them.  She wants to pay me for them, but I want to give them to her as a Christmas present.

She’ll get her slippers, and I don’t want cash back for them.  She got a box of grapes from her “canteen,” today and gave them to us as a treat.  They call it The Bistro there, but it’s basically a cafeteria/canteen with a fancy name.  This year, the grapes have been soooooo good, and we like them better than a slice of cake or a brownie, anyway.  That was so thoughtful of her.

Also, she did mange to get my email, and see the attached picture of the black bear wood carving I commissioned from a very talented neighbor.  We sourced a 4′ long, 18″ diameter maple log from our own property, so he didn’t have to find one elsewhere and charge us extra for it.  The artist had to have a friend come by with a flatbed truck to haul off the log, and it was interesting watching the loading procedure.  Anyway, the artist sent me a sketch, of what he thought we had in mind, beforehand, we agreed to that, then he came by with a contract for us both to sign (very fair terms), when the maple log got hauled off.

He started off with a chainsaw to rough it out, then did the detail work with some Dremel tools.  All the while, he sent me progress pictures.  We were unable to stop by his place to discuss staining options as he suggested, because we were away, but I asked for black bear colors.  He did such a good job.  As part of our contract, he asked for the right to take a picture of it to use for promotional purposes.  I thought that was fair.  I had the right of refusal if I didn’t like the finished product, and would have lost my deposit on it if I had refused to take delivery, but this bear is so fantastic!

AFAIK, he’s gotten a lot more commissions since then to do wood carving for other people.  His wife told me he went to art school.  It shows.  He’s retired now, but if he can earn some extra bucks on this avocation of his, good for him!  He’s got talent!

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Commissioned an Artwork

Someone posted a picture of her husband’s chainsaw log carving of a bear on Nextdoor.  Wow.  The guy has talent.  He wasn’t willing to sell me that one, but he was willing to carve another smaller one for me on commission.

The guy came by this afternoon to look over our selection of logs to pick one out that he thought would work.  Who knows whether it will or not, but we did sign a contract, and if that log is usable, it’ll leave me with just paying for his labor to do the carving.

We need to haul it out, and get it ready for him to load whenever he’s ready to come fetch it.  One of our tractors could do that.  When he hauls it off is when he gets his 50% upfront.

At least he showed up at the appointed time, and we got down to business pretty quickly.

This is going to be so awesome when he’s done.  The guy has mad skills.

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Car Inspection Sucks

We can renew our registration for two years, but still have to get vehicle inspection done every year.  My car dealer doesn’t charge any more than a local garage would, so I have them do it, especially since they offer a free valet service and loaner vehicle.

I always write out a checklist of things to do, and tell them to call me to authorize any work that’s not on my list.  For instance, nobody does a tire rotation after a measly 1500 miles since the last one, so don’t stick me with that bill.  The dealer is really good about following my instructions.

That said, whenever my car goes in for service, whether I drop it off myself, or use the valet service, they give me a loaner, whether I want or need one, or not.  The one loaner I liked, pre-covid was an S-90.  Suspension was a little loose for my preference, but I only had to drive it for ~20 miles.  After that, they always bring over brand new XC-60, as if to tempt me to trade in my car for one of those.  Not happening.  No flippin’ way would I want to drive an SUV.  As much as I love my midsize sedan, I’d drive a pickup before I’d drive an SUV.

So, the damn thing sits in my driveway, unused, until the guy delivers my car and picks up that thing he left in my driveway.  I had to sign papers to accept the loaner, but the funniest thing is that they had my year of birth

This time, it’s simply:

  • inspection
  • emissions
  • inspection stickers
  • clear out whatever drain(s) are leaking rainwater onto the driver’s seat floor
  • replace the windshield wipers
  • replace the batteries in the keys that are dying
  • oil change, even though all synthetic doesn’t gum up like ordinary motor oil

Can’t wait to see what this bill is going to come to.  The car keys each take two batteries, at $13 apiece.  But without functional keys, the car can’t be driven.

GRRRRRRRRRRRRR.

ETA:  just heard back from the dealer’s service department.  Fixing the leak is the bulk of the bill.  Dayum!

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This Totally Sucks

My mother-in-law is in hospice.  My husband left at 2:30am on Tuesday, and drove 1200 miles straight through to get there.  It’s a 20 hour drive.  Last time he did that, it was on the way home, and I told him “we’re not doing that again.”  I understand the urgency to get there, though.

Both of my brothers and sisters in law are out there, too.  Two of them flew in from Tampa.  The other two live in the area.  One of them thinks she might not make it past Monday.  Anyway, she’s coherent, recognizes everyone, and is happy to have them there.  She also understands why I’m home looking after our dog and three cats.

You can’t just call a next door neighbor at 2:30am, and ask him to take in our dog for an unspecified number of days.  He’s taken him in before for four days, but we asked if they would be around to do it days ahead, and he agreed.  We chicken, dog, and goat sit for him when they’re gone, so it’s just trading favors.

I hope my mother in law lasts.  My aunt went into hospice years ago, and lasted there for three years.  My dad went into hospice, and died within two days.  You never know.

If it comes down to a funeral, damn right I’ll go out there for it.  She’s one of the nicest ladies I’ve ever met.

So far, my updates from my husband are “no change.”

Nothing any one of us can do about it, but at least she’s in St. Mary’s, which is part of Mayo Clinic.

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Score!

A couple of weeks ago, we won a $50 gift certificate to a fishmonger place not too far from us, from a radio station.  The show’s producer was away for a while preparing for his wedding, and honeymoon, but we finally got a call back from the station to get the name and address to send it to.  This is a fantastic fishmonger, and none of us are allergic to any sort of seafood, so, yeah, we will blow it on stuff like lobster bisque and crab cakes.

Other than that, I awarded a contract to a company to replace a sliding glass door.  I’ve hired them for for some jobs before, but this time their estimate seemed absurdly high, until the other two came in.  Anytime I’m looking at thousands for home repair, I’m going to get in several bids/estimates.  They know that.  Told them as much.  At least they can schedule the job within a few weeks, rather than months from now, and since I’ve been dealing with the owner for over a decade, I know that if there’s some problem, they’re good to their promise of a three year guarantee on workmanship.

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July 4th Complaints

No, not my complaints.  But every year, there are multiple people who do not like the noise of fireworks, and bitch about how they freak out not themselves, but neighbors’ dogs, people who have babies, people who go to bed early, or veterans with PTSD.  This is on Nextdoor.

Spare me the emotional drama.  These people simply don’t like the noise.  What pisses me off the most is that they just won’t come out and say it’s the noise that bothers them, even though it’s no louder than a cracking thunderstorm.  They use other people they don’t even know, except in theory, to advance their agenda.

State fireworks laws do exist, but they involve how far away from an occupied building they can be set off, but not the noise level, which never exceeds that of a good thunder crack from Mother Nature, anyway.

Instead of getting all whiny, and bitchy online about your neighbors, maybe report them to the police if they violate fireworks laws.  Don’t get all manipulative, yelling about what big bad meanie poopie-heads and Hard Hearted Hannah types we are, for not kowtowing to your desires for silence.  If the cops ignore your complaint, way out in the ‘burbs, and exurbs, whine harder, because that’s sure to bring them around to your side.  They probably have more important cases to deal with, than a noise ordinance violation.

I know all about manipulative people in real life.  Eventually, they know we’re onto their behavior.  Takes them a while, but they do finally stop with it.

Online peeps who start that crap, trying to get unsuspecting strangers to go along, have no sympathy from me.

We had a fantastic supper of ribs, smoked to perfection, coleslaw, and corn-on-the-cob.  We also shot off some some damn good fireworks, too.  We have enough acreage to do so, legally.

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