2018 January 03 Wednesday means Grandies. But before we could get there, we had to get out of bed. 18° outside and 48° inside. Yep, the thermostat failed again.
So, we grudgingly got out of bed and dresses in cold, cold clothes.
I started the coffee perking and the bacon cooking.
Then I fired up the oven (with the oven door open). Yes I know that you’re not supposed to do that. However, I always have two windows partially open at all times. Plus we weren’t going to be there long.
We ate, turned the oven off, and left for Grandies. There we eleven brave souls there today. Three of us celebrate birthdays this month and today was when we had our cake and ice cream. After the meeting, we stayed to play Canasta while some played bridge.
For lunch Ella and I went across the tracks to Hobo Junction for lunch. It had warmed to 45° by the time we left at 12:30.
We stopped at Winkley’s to look for an electric space heater. Sold out. Went across the street to Tractor Supply. All sold out. Called Dollar General. “Yes we have many choices.” Well they had five choices and plenty of stock for each model. I bought a basic milkhouse style.
When we arrived home, I put our west-facing awning away so that we could soak in some more afternoon solar heating. It got to 73° inside without any heater other than the sun shining through the windows.
As I was getting ready for an afternoon nap, the furnace kicked on. I’m beginning to suspect that when the inside temperature gets high enough (68° with the fireplace turned off and the new heater still in the box) that the furnace isn’t really needed. However, it is predicted to drop below freezing again tonight. I’ll not take any chances with the “confused” thermostat. I’ll drip water to keep it from freezing again and I’ll use auxilary heat also.
However, the furnace continued to turn on as the RV cooled. It’ll be interesting to how it goes through the night.
For some reason our furnace did not run overnight. The electric fireplace was running which kept us from becoming popsicles. It was 58° inside and 20°outside. We slept plenty warm between flannel sheets with a deeply quilted comfort and Sherpa lined blanket throws.
I got breakfast started while Ella grudgingly crawled out of that nice warm bed.
While breakfast cooked, I examined the innards of the thermostat. It is a non digital, non mercury switch, bimetal coil type of mechanism.
Nothing was obviously broken and all seven wires on the back of the unit seemed to be securely connected. Hmm. I checked the fuse and it was okay. Hmm again. I got the model and part numbers and did a Google search. Found the part for $220+ and ordered it.
In the mean time, I’ve turned the fireplace up.
It seemed like a good day to go shopping … somewhere warm.
On one of the RV sites, I new RVer asked if a Crock-Pot was a good purchase for her RV. Amazingly, the overwhelming response was to purchase an Insta Pot.
I have admit that I had no idea what it was. So, “Hey Google, what is an Insta Pot?”
It is an amazing appliance that slow cooks, pressure cooks, sautes, steams rice, makes yogurt, and on and on.
So, as I said, we went shopping seeking warmth. However, as long as we were shopping, we might as well look for an Insta Pot. Walmart carries them … but were out of stock. I had them call other area Wallyworlds and every one were also out of stock.
I opened the Walmart app and found that they were cheaper and could be shipped directly to me or to be picked up at the local store. Sounds good so I ordered it. Well … I tried to order it. I got a message informing me that it could not be shipped to my zip code, neither directly nor to the store.
“Okay Google, open Amazon prime.” Yes! 3 in stock. Only slightly more than Walmart. However when I went to check out, the shopping was over $400.00. I know it HAS to be an error. But it’s not my job to straighten out their mistake.
Scratch looking for the appliance.
Let’s go to Costco for some supplements.
That done. Where to now?
Hey, there’s a Target store just on the other side of the toll road.
And, yes, they had it. They had quite a few. Now we have one also.
With only a stop for LP, we returned to our somewhat less chilly home (62°).
It seemed like a good idea to do some baking.
One peach cobbler and one apple strudel pie later the inside temp was up to 63°.
We spent the rest of the afternoon covered up in our recliners.
And then …
And then …
The furnace kicked on.
And has been running just like it is supposed to run.
I’m still going to change it out when the new one arrives.
Even though we went to bed around 9:30 last night we were awake for the new year to start.
When we got up this morning it was 49 degrees inside the trailer and 18 degrees outside the trailer. There’s a skiff of snow on the ground, ice on our porch and, ice on our truck. Our water lines were frozen, even though I had them dripping overnight. I guess 18 degrees was just too cold even for running water.
I got the furnace turned up and started the electric fireplace. Then I started the truck to get it de-iced.
Once the truck was warmed enough, we went into town for breakfast at Hobo Junction. A nice meal of chicken-fried steak, eggs, grits, biscuit, and coffee was just what I needed.
After breakfast we picked up our mail at the post office and found a check for Ella for her work on the Santa set. This was a surprise to us. Not that she’d get paid but that she’d get a check. They had issued her a plastic credit card looking pay card and told to activate it to get her money. A paper check was much easier for us to do a deposit over the phone.
We went into Leander and stopped to get LP however they were closed for the holiday.
We then went to Walmart to exchange some pants that Ella had purchased (without trying on) only to find that the size indicated on the hanger was not the size of the pants. She did the exchange (and still did not try them on … we’ll see).
While a Wal-Mart I purchased some battery powered under the counter LED lights. There was a 3-pack that was cheaper than buying two separate units. I only needed two, but hey! I’m sure we’ll find a use for the third one. Of course, buying these also meant buying more batteries.
I also bought a five-gallon jug of water. I mentioned earlier that our waterlines are frozen. We also have a case of bottled water. We should have no problem surviving the next few days until the waterline thaws.
We then stopped at H.E.B. for black-eyed peas and lentils. There is a southern tradition of having Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas and bacon) for dinner on January first. Ella and I have observed a tradition from my mother of having lentils and kielbasa on the first. Both convey the same idea of bringing prosperity for the new year. The black-eyed peas or lentils are symbols of coins. And the idea (as my mother explained it) is that this will be the cheapest meal you eat all year. Meaning that you’ll eat well in the coming year.
After arriving home, I installed two of the under-counter lights: one above the kitchen sink and one above the bathroom sink.
The lentil stew is done and a fresh baked loaf of bread awaits. That’s all for now folks.
Monday 11thWorked 9-4 The days are so busy that they kind of blur together. Plus I’m getting a cold, which isn’t surprising when you work with so many children and adults. I do take Airborne and vitamins with extra C. I also have up-to-date flu and pneumonia shots.
Tuesday 12th 9-4 Nothing much to report other than I took my new laptop back to Office Depot because I had this message pop up on my screen and lock it.
Fortunately Afton, the tech at tech-zone, assured me that it was a scam, a form of ransom ware. She was able to remove it.
Wednesday 13th9-4 work, eat, sleep, repeat
Monday 18thThis was an unusual day for two reasons. One, I worked the afternoon/evening shift, 4-9. Santa Charlie had an engagement in the evening so we traded shifts. Two, Ella answered regional manager, Kerri’s, call from someone to work the last week at Lakeline Mall. She sat in the archway and greeted people as they came in. She also helped to keep it organized. She will continue to work with me for this final week.
Tues 19thAfter working until 9 p.m. last night (and driving home in the fog), we returned at 9 a.m. and worked until 4 p.m.
Wednesday 20thwork. All was a blur of children and photo flashes. Head cold and congestion making it a little less fun. All these cute little petri dishes that come to visit Santa bring all kinds of ‘bugs’.
Thursday 21stwork. All was a blur.
Friday 22ndMore blur. I barely had a voice left by the end of the day.
Saturday 23rd Still a blur. One day left. I joked with the kids that my voice didn’t always sound like Cookie Monster but today it did.
Sunday 24thLast day for Santa this season. We worked from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. The very last photo shoot involved three families with two to four children each. Each group did a separate family shot and then one of that family’s children. Once all three families had their photos, they all gathered around Santa along with the grandparents for a final group shot. One preteen girl refused to settle down and threw a continuous tantrum. Everyone pleaded, begged, bribed and threatened the child but nothing worked. They finally abandoned the idea of a pleasant group photo and just took what they could get. It wasn’t a pleasant way for me to end my season either.
Then we came home for a nap before attending the Christmas Eve service at Cross Tracks Church. It was a great service that ended in a candle light service.
Monday 25th Christmas Day was spent with family at Arik & Jenny’s. We adults had a good time talking while the kids enjoyed each other and their gifts.
Tuesday 26th Our 24th Anniversary. Temperature dropped below freezing again last night. And this morning it was super foggy. We went out for breakfast at Hobo Junction. Then we moved our anniversary celebration to the laundromat and washed three loads of laundry. From there we continued our celebration by stopping to refill a 30 pound LP bottle. Just to keep the party going, we stopped at Walmart for a few groceries. Oh yeah, on the way home we stopped for a fill-up at the gas station and then to the post office for our mail. Then it was home for an afternoon of napping.
Wednesday 27thIt continues to be cold. Attendance at Grandies was down to about 10 or 11 people. Afterwards six of us went to Dahlia’s for lunch. There was no choir practice.
Thursday 28thWe went to the Over The Hill Gang today. Very few people braved the cold (or illnesses) to come today. What a shame because there was some very tasty lasagna for lunch.
Friday 29thIt was a comparatively mild day in the mid forties. We went shopping in Cedar Park. First to Home Depot to pick up some items for household upgrades. Then across the street to Walmart for some clothes for Ella and a few grocery items.
By then it was lunchtime and we were relatively close to a Dairy Queen. Actually it was on the way home anyway … but to be honest, we have been know to drive the 20 to 30 miles one way just to get to the DQ. On a side note: a DQ is scheduled to be built right here in Liberty Hill. Only about an eight mile drive from home. Yay!
It started lightly raining on the rest of the drive home. Which meant that I only unloaded the truck rather than taking care of the outside project that I had in mind. Instead, we watched TV and took naps.
Later, when I realized that it was no longer raining, I went outside and completed my project. Every since we arrived at our RV park in October, our drain hose has been lying on the ground. I’ve made several attempts to get it off the ground so that it will properly drain. However, it has always ended back on the ground. Today I purchased some concrete blocks, boards and rain gutters (eve throughs to Midwesterners). The blocks were placed to support the boards which in turn support the gutters and the hose fits snuggly in the gutters. Now all waste waters (and other stuff) should flow smoothly from the RV to the sewer connection.
I also purchased a new under the counter light for over the kitchen sink. I did not get it installed.
Saturday 30thIt was 51° when I woke this morning. We both managed to sleep through the night. That’s the first time in weeks when one or the other of us has been up and coughing. Yesterday I coughed more or less steadily from 3;30 a.m. until 5:00 a.m.
According to the forecast, today will be the best one we see for a while. With a high of 54 and low of 39 with drizzle. January 1st and 2nd are predicted to remain below freezing. This Iowegen is still glad to be in Texas because my friends and family in Iowa will not be getting above 0° on those days.
Sunday 31stA single service at Cross Tracks church today. Breakfast at 9 and then service at 10 with no Sunday School. Pastor Steve was sick and called on Pastor Judy last night. It was a small service because so many are sick and the temperature was only slightly above freezing with wind and drizzle.
Ella and I came home and turned the furnace up from 65° to 75°. When the temp dropped below freezing, I started the kitchen sink to drip into a dishpan. The idea is to keep the water flowing so it is less likely to freeze. The hydrant has an insulated faucet cover installed and I inverted a plastic wastepaper can over it also. I have the hose double insulated with two layers of pipe insulation. Hopefully, all of these precautions will keep us in water.
I, with some help from Ella, installed the new fluorescent light fixture above the kitchen sink. It doesn’t work. Apparently, the trouble lies in the wiring somewhere. I’m not inclined to try and trace it down, so I’m going to buy a battery powered light to place there.
December Thursday the 7th started cold with drizzle. I stopped at the post office to pick up my new laptop and to mail some birthday cards.
Yesterday we had gone to Arik’s for supper and got home right around 9.
I started hand washing my white gloves in the morning and let them soak all day. When I got home I finished washing them and one of my white shirts. And hung them on a hanger in front of the fan to dry. I took my INR and found it at 2.7 and I checked my glucose which was 124.
Ella has gotten our Christmas cards and Christmas gifts ready for mailing. At work this morning I had to 5 screaming toddlers in a row. Over and over I have told the photo helpers to educate the parents on how to bring their kids to me. Have the children facing them, don’t oversell Santa to them, just bring them and quietly set them on my lap. If they are toddlers, I prefer them to set them down on the floor and let them come to me rather than be brought to me. If they are hesitant to come to me I can usually start playing a game with them and win their confidence so they will come and see me. These things of course take time and as the season goes on there will be less time for that.
I think there must be something in the water or in the air today because there seem to be more tears than smiles today.
An elderly couple (that means they were around my age) that had come in yesterday for photos came back today and brought me a cup of coffee.
My white gloves are becoming stretched out and it keeps sliding down and I realize that that is leaving me “m bare wrist”.
This is another day without a manager on the set. And according to the schedule everyone leaves at 4 and only one person is scheduled to come in at 3:30. And he is new this year has worked less than 1 month.
As I was leaving the mall I saw little tiny scattered flakes of very small snow hitting the windshield. By the time I got to the Leander library to pick up Ella it was snowing full force.
On the way home we stopped at Walmart to pick up prescriptions and a few other items. This is the Walmart that had to a fire of few weeks back. And they’re not fully open. Their Pharmacy and food department is open and they do have a section of Christmas related items that are now out and available.
One of the things that I wanted to purchase was a USB drive flash drive but since that department wasn’t open I was unable to get it at Walmart. So we drove over to Target. However we discovered the right next to the Target is a former OfficeMax that is now an Office Depot and they carry such things.
I went in to check on the price of that and found that they have a tech department that can do the transfer from my old laptop to my new laptop and give me a back up at the same time. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Friday the 8th started with 27 degrees. Fearing that the roads would be iced we left early only to find out that the roads were nice and clear. Which means I got Ella to the senior center about 8:30. And was at the mall by 9. I don’t start until 10 this week.
Saturday the 9th I left Ella at home while I worked today. I needed to stop for gas on the way.
Ella had a busy morning. She had the Christmas cards started, clothes ready to go to the laundromat and lots of dishes washed.
I was busy straight through from 9 to 3. Long lines were waiting to see Santa at the mall today. I had so much fun that I didn’t even notice that I hadn’t taken a break all day.
Ella asked me to buy about 50 more Christmas cards. So I stopped at Dollar General. They happened to have all holiday cards on half price. I purchased two books of 36 each.
Sunday 10th I had my only day off between now and Christmas day. We attended worship and Sunday school. We are lunch at Taco Bell. From there went to the laundromat to wash three bags of clothes. I sat on the big comfy couch. I was listening to one of my sermons that was recorded years ago. The next thing I knew, Ella was waking me to help her with folding clothes. That’s kind of sad to admit that I went to sleep listening to my own sermon.
Monday 11th I started work an hour earlier than I have been. This will be the new normal until Christmas. This also means dropping Ella off an hour earlier at the senior center.
I arrived early and got ready and then I sit here it’s after 9 and no one has come to get me to take me to the set. I took a peek over the mezzanine railing and there’s nobody on the set.
So I sat there for an hour before somebody showed up. Although MY schedule (given to me by the regional manager) said that I was to begin at 9, the mall doesn’t open until 10 this week. Once again I am just amazed at the job this new company is doing.
After work, Ella and I went to Office Depot to retrieve my new laptop. I’d left it Friday, along with my old laptop, so that they could transfer all of my files to the new one.