Asking, for a friend…

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Asking for a friend. It’s a rhetorical question, really, but I still need to ask just to get it off my chest. You can provide your answers to the question in the comments, if you are so led. What would you do?

Scenario:

If you knew someone (let’s say a really good friend or even a family member) was struggling financially and you know that they had a history of making really poor decisions, what would you do when you learned they made yet another one?

Said someones are on state and federal assistance, have four kids, can’t keep up with rent or other bills, has debt collectors “knocking on the door,” and is basically using every sort of charity they can qualify for to meet needs the other sources can’t or won’t meet.

It’s tax return season and they likely will be getting a pretty substantial return based on the low income from the previous year and the number of children. There is also a pending 3rd stimulus payment coming up, so there is money coming in that could be used to do what needs to be done to get caught back up.

But, instead of using the money to do the right thing, some of the money is being used to ponder a move to another state, has been used to purchase flights to the possible state, and of course the spending for the trip will go up from there. The trip is being seen as a “vacation,” almost a scouting trip for their plans.

Advice?

They have been advised that moving is expensive (especially to a new state). They don’t have any prospects of a job at the place they would move. They have no real clue what the living expenses are like there.

They won’t listen to good counsel. Others have told them this is a terrible idea. Yet they charge forward.

So, I am asking for a friend…

What would you do? How would you address this? How would you go forward in this situation?

Travel day

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The trip home will begin shortly and I don’t like using the app the write. So, I’ll update you on how the return home goes tomorrow.

I already know there will be a less comfortable trip based on an email I got a couple days ago…so there’s that to look forward to.

Catch ya tomorrow!

The worst bed

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I’ve done it folks! I think I have discovered the worst bed in Arizona.

This trip to Arizona hasn’t exactly been a relaxing one. As you may have read in a recent post, dividing time between two parts of your family who haven’t seen you (in person) for at least a year is a challenge to say the least. On top of that, they both want you to stay with them so they get a little time with you while the other part of the family isn’t around.

We started out at my sister-in-law’s house. Big, spacious, and pretty much a space that was just for us in the downstairs portion of the house. All the amenities and most importantly, a bed that was comfortable. Sure, it wasn’t home, but it was at least as good as a hotel.

Now, we are at my in-laws and they have a hide-a-bed to sleep on. This is the first time I have been to their place since they moved down here so I didn’t know what was in store for me. When I walked into the room and saw it folded out I knew I was in trouble. I could already see from the mattress that there was a curve in it and “the middle” would become a dreaded sleeping space. There isn’t the usual bar to sleep on, so there is that. But, the bed is too soft and the pillows too flat. It is killing my back and my neck. The neck issues I am having are now only amplified, which means ibuprofen every day and an unplanned trip to the chiropractor when I get home.

Sleep has been tough to come by.

So, if ever in AZ, don’t stay at my in-laws. You have been duly warned.

Tug-o-war

The tug-o-war is a struggle while on vacation. You are being pulled this way and that. You are torn between two sets of family who both have missed you, who have looked forward with anticipation to your arrival, and ultimately have planned out every waking moment of your visit.

Here in Arizona, there are two sets of relatives to visit – the inlaws and the sister-n-law’s family. When you only have a week during your vacation, your time has to be split between both and that is the challenge. How do you keep both happy and feel like you have spent enough time with both? In the end, someone is likely going to feel like they got the short end of the stick.

So, this vacation isn’t shaping up to be all that relaxing. It will be go go go the whole time and if it isn’t one it will be the other.

Yesterday’s adventure left out one family but it did have provide for a unique experience as there was a visit to a national park where wild horses roam free. There was a good chance the horses wouldn’t be spotted since they go where they please and one would never know where to find them unless you were in a helicopter looking for them.

Anyway, as it happens, we got very lucky and they were literally less than a hundred yards from us since they had come down to water at the river. A magnificent site they are! Kind of felt like the Old West for a moment. Just sitting there on the bank of the river, watching and listening as they did their thing. I am sure the horses probably feel the tug-o-war war between modern society and the quiet solitude of the wild, something they really have no control over.

Well, despite the push and pull of family obligations, this was a gratifying experience and I am thankful that I was lucky enough to catch this site on the very first visit.

“Walmart” of the sky

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It’s been a month since the last vacation. In the scheme of things that isn’t a whole lot of time, but I gotta say that taking a vacation once a month is kind of feeling nice. I wish it could happen again next month.

Anyway, I have flown two different airlines in roughly the last five weeks and it is interesting to see how they have handled (or are handling) the pandemic a year from it’s start. Yesterday’s trip was less fabulous than the first trip. Now, I have flown other airlines, but there are two that I fly that I have liked in the past and those are the two I tend to check first when looking for flights, Alaska and Southwest.

About a month ago, I was on Alaska. The plane are newer, and feel more spacious, even if they may not actually be. The crews were friendly but not overly friendly. The planes felt clean, given the current situation, and the flights were directly to the destination (going and returning). The service inside the cabin was good. Alaska served nearly their full complimentary menu, so a light snack and beverage of choice was available.

Yesterday, I flew on Southwest Airlines. Southwest took a direct flight to Phoenix and routed it through Denver. This notification came just four days after purchasing the tickets. So, a roughly three hour flight turned into an all day affair. I wasn’t real pleased about it, but what can you do once you have already purchased the tickets? The first leg of yesterday’s trip wasn’t too crowded. But the crew wasn’t very friendly and the plane didn’t feel all that clean. It probably was, but it likely also has something to do with the fact that Southwest’s fleet is aging. Also a surprise, the in-flight service. The voice over the intercom announced they would be service iced water and a snack.

That’s it. Essentially, you are getting “bread and water” for flying with us. They, of course, told us this was because of the “current situation in the world.”

The water was a plastic cup with ice and water in it. It wasn’t even bottled water! Wow! So, apparently it is safer to serve an open cup of water in the era of airborne viruses. Go figure!

I asked a buddy who works for Southwest about it, as I was a little taken aback for the lack of services considering the experience just a month prior on a different airline. His response, “Anything to save a buck. We’re basically the Walmart of the sky, so you can’t expect much.”

I guess that is probably about right. It was a cheap flight. The second flight was much more crowded, the “empty middle seat” for social distancing was not a thing on this flight, and the plane didn’t feel any cleaner than the first one.

All in all, it was just a flight to a destination but I have come to expect a little more than what we got yesterday, even for a discount airline.

Am I spoiled or have they set us up to expect more? I am not sure.

They really know

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Some people just really know how to push your buttons. Some people just really know how to make you feel lower than low. Some people just don’t show you any appreciation or love. Some of those people are people you just know, maybe they’re coworkers or acquaintances. But sometimes they are people that are supposedly close to you.

Step-kids.

Yesterday was the beginning of my 49th trip around the sun. It was a quiet day since the day before we were blanketed with about 9″ of snow (and the ensuing compact snow and ice on the roads). So, much of the day was spent watching tv, taking a nap, playing video games, and eating food.

Lots of people on social media, family and friends alike, issued wishes of cheer and congratulations on the day. That felt good.

Only two of the nine children (our six kids and three spouses/significant others) managed to communicate with me. MY daughter and the second oldest of the step-kids. That doesn’t feel nice.

They sure know how make me feel like crap…

Just chill

OK, no, I don’t wanna chill.

Seriously.

It is damn cold outside (for the NW) and it is freaking chilly inside the house.

This week the low temps up here in the Northwest corner of the US is going to be in the low 20s. That isn’t typical for us so when it gets down in this range, we tend to just break out the sweatshirts and insulated jackets and try to avoid the out of doors. Last night the low was around 27 degrees.

So, the furnace has been acting funny and last night I was pretty sure there we were headed for a breakdown. Sure enough, this morning the house was 58 degrees when it should have been 66 when I got up. The furnace has in “lockout” mode – meaning it tried, it didn’t get lit, and then it gave up…for the next three hours.

When I got up to let the dog out at 5:00am I was like, “Crap. This is rather irritating, and cold. Dang, it’s cold in here.”

I tried resetting the furnace by turning off the power and then back on again. The stupid thing gave a good effort but after three cycles of trying, I gave up and went back to bed where it was warm. After warming up a bit, I was awake. So, back out of bed I went and out to build a fire in the wood stove. I was trying to be quiet so as to not wake the others in the house. Quiet, I tell you. Only to have one of the smoke detectors decide to CHIRP for a new battery. So much for being quiet.

Anyway, fire started and going and the warmth is starting to fill the room.

I called into work and let my manager know I was going to have to deal with this issue today and took at least half the day off. (Thank goodness for flexibility!)

I disassembled the ignitors, cleaned them with sandpaper, and reinstalled them. Furnace back on, cycled through the startup process, and still nothing. So, out comes the shop vac and vacuuming the pumps, the fans, the gas feed tubes (not sure of the technical term), etc. How did I know to do this stuff? I had a tech here once who we called because this happened like 6 years ago and we had no idea why it wasn’t working. He literally came out, cleaned the stuff, and charged $125 for 15 minutes of work. He was like, “Look, you don’t need me or need to pay me for this stuff. You can do it yourself.” He showed me what to look for, where to clean, and how to take the ignitors out and clean them.

VOILA!

Everything is back up and running. “Let there be heat!”

The fireplace is all fired up (see what I did there?) but the furnace is now doing what it is supposed to. I’ll keep the fire burning so as to not drive up the gas bill while the cold is here this week, but we are back in the warmth.

Six(ty) Word Story

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We have talked about it over and over again. You know I don’t like it.

I have asked you not to do it. You agreed you wouldn’t.

Yet, you do it anyway. Are your actions that important to only you?

You just ignore me and my feelings, my requests.

I don’t understand. I’m confused.

I’ll just sit here hurt, alone.

Smoke alarm

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First night home from vacation and a loud noise interrupts the peace. A loud, piercing, and from a dead sleep, shrieking noise. Dazed and confused but somewhat aware of what all the racket was about, I hoped outta bed and threw on some clothes.

On the way out the bedroom door, the youngest man-child in the family was apologizing for having set off the fire alarms (the whole house is wired so when one goes off, they all go off). He was making corn dogs in the middle of the night, to be precise that would be of the 12:30ish AM variety of the middle of the night.

So, after waving a pillow profusely over my head at the fire alarm so that air would move and it would no longer detect smoke, I tossed the pillow on the couch and gave him a rather irritated look.

So, what they hell?

What is with teens and late teens staying up all hours of the night and causing the old people in the house to lose sleep because they make so much racket? Talking to friends, playing video games, making food, dropping things, knocking stuff over, and everything else that you can think of that makes noise…all to our dissatisfaction and loss of sleep. Can’t you just be like “normal” people and go to bed at a civilized hour?

Yeah, yeah, it’s probably our fault some how.

I’ll tell you what though, nothing is more frustrating that waking up to the fire alarm because the non-adults can’t monitor their food while everyone else is sleeping.

Good night.

Worst ever

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There are a lot of lists out there for lots of different things: best, worst, most visited, most traveled, highly valued, etc etc etc. I am not going to jump into that trend because quite frankly the news media outlets do that crap just to generate clicks. I am not much of a bandwagoner so I will avoid that trend.

But, I am going to give a “worst ever” item. The list is only one item, so it won’t take long to read.

So, here we go…the three worst words to see or hear:

“Vacation is over.”

I was standing in the shower and I realized that I don’t like hearing or seeing those words in that order!

I have about 24 hours left of vacation and it has been a very relaxing and restful time away. I don’t want it to end. I just want it to keep on going.

Today’s post will be short and I am going to get off of here and go soak up as much of this vacation as I have left.

See ya next week.