Hell then Heaven

The weekend of fun and games continued.  JM remained hideously ill.  But, bless my friend Jo Ann in Florida.  She’s a nurse and I called to ask her advice, since I didn’t know whether we need to go to an ER or not. She recommended Pedialyte and I seriously think it saved us from at least several more days of misery.  Within a short time of drinking that, JM started to feel better and by Sunday evening was finally not having any further diarrhea or fever.   Which was just as well, as both Mom AND I got the bug Sunday night.  However, by then I had single-handedly managed to get everything ready for the move.  Don’t ask me how, because I honestly don’t have a clue.

Luckily, our version of the bug was short-lived and we were tired but not sick by the time the movers showed up Monday morning.  It was the same crew of Rinkens’ movers who had done a fabulous job moving JM and me in 2005.  They had everything boxed and onto the truck in under 4 hours, and I cannot tell you how glad I was to get the hell out of Hemet!

The good times remained with us, and it spite of it being the beginning of rush hour, we managed an astonishing less than 2 hours of driving into L.A.  As soon as we’d unloaded the car at the La Quinta Inn at LAX, we took it back to Enterprise and they very kindly drove us back to the hotel, even though that’s not normally something they do; as most people take their shuttle to the airport.

I cannot recommend the La Quinta too highly.  We had already stayed here on our arrival, and we were struck by the fact that they have the most comfortable beds we’ve ever slept in in a hotel.  I wish we could take them home with us!

We were exhausted, but we hadn’t had food for a long time (1 & 1/2 days for me and Mom, 3 days for JM), so we ordered in.  Mom, unfortunately made a poor choice for a recovering tummy, and this morning woke up a bit sick again.  Now, this is where one of those extraordinary moments of human kindness come in.  This afternoon, she was finally feeling a bit hungry so I went down to the lobby restaurant to see if I could get her some scrambled eggs.  The wonderful waiter went into the kitchen to make them for me and handed me a tray to take up to her.  I asked to sign it to my room.  “No, just take it,” he said. “We have free breakfast every morning, just come down earlier tomorrow.”   I was in shock.  I couldn’t believe how generous and sweet he was to a total stranger.

So, do try them out if you have to come through L.A. and are staying at the airport.  You could do far worse.

Ciao for now (and looking forward to being back in the Possum Kingdom on Thursday)

Rand

Trip from Hell

JM and I have traveled a lot over the years.  I can absolutely NOT remember a worse experience than this one.

We got up early and got to Toulouse in plenty of time for our flight.  We arrived in Paris a few minutes late and of course started to panic, because the correspondence between internal flights and international flights is horrible and long at CDG.  Lots of corridors, shuttle buses, more corridors, security, passport control, more corridors…

Anyway, we got to our L.A. flight about 10 minutes after it was supposed to board only to find out it was delayed. Okay, fine, we didn’t have to panic.

The problem was the delay kept going on and on. Air France flight attendants were on strike and we  didn’t know if they would actually find cabin crew for the plane.  No cabin crew, no flight.  The flight to Boston got canceled and all those passengers had to find other flights!  If that happened to us, we were doomed, because there is a lot to do before the movers come on Monday.

Miraculously, after 3 hours they did find a crew and started loading us onto shuttle buses.  Then, we waited on the bus for another 40 minutes. Not fun, but at least we knew we’d get to fly.  Except there was a truly ugly American spouting off for most of the time about how disgusting it was that the French “couldn’t keep their people in line”  and allowed them to get away with this kind of thing.

I’m not proud, but I finally freaked out and started telling him off!  Truly not like me, but I thought he was being odious. We had a bit of a shouting match, but several other passengers later said I was right.

When we finally boarded, there were only 5 flight attendants (instead of the usual 12) for the entire plane.  They worked their butts off for the whole flight but clearly, it was not the usual type of service, but who cares?  We were on our way to L.A.

Eventually we DID arrive, and for the first time in 30 years of flying, we wound up having our baggage screened by customs instead of just walking through.  Not that there was anything in our bags, but it added another 35  minutes to the whole business.  By the time we got our car and got back to the hotel it was 8:30,  almost 4 hours later than planned.

As usual, we left for Hemet at 4:30.  Traffic was much heavier than it had been on the trip out in September, and the only bright spot was knowing it was probably the last time we’d have to drive TO Hemet, only one more neverending freeway trip, back on Tuesday, to go.

There is so much to do here.  I don’t think Mom has accomplished much of anything since we left in September.  Still, we were confident that we could make it; except last night, JM came down with either a stomach bug or food poisoning.  He’s totally laid out, today is Saturday and the movers are coming Monday morning.  I need to get Mom packed up, separate out the stuff for the movers from the stuff that is staying, and I can’t count on either of them for help.  I am not a happy camper right now, as well as being worried about JM.

I can’t wait to be home on Thursday!

Ciao for now.

Randy

It’s here

There’s no getting around it, winter weather is here, even though the calendar says it’s still autumn.  For the first time this season, we had to put our heat on this morning as the house felt pretty darned chilly when we got up.  When I checked my desktop widget that shows the weather here in the Possum Kingdom, I saw that the outside temperature was 0 C (32 F), so it’s no wonder we felt cold!

In fact, when we were walking the horde, I noticed that there was frost on the grass.  Again, I think that is the first time this season that we’ve had a freeze.

It seems to me that we are having cold weather sooner this year than we usually do.  Of course, without checking records it’s difficult to be certain, because it could just be the kind of thing like, “When I was a girl, we walked 15 miles to school everyday with snow up to our eyebrows.” but I don’t think so.  I’ve noticed that the dogs already have thick, winter coats, again, unusual this early.

I wonder if this means we’re going to have a particularly cold winter, or if it doesn’t mean anything at all?  We’re heading off to L.A. to pick Mom up later this week. Her VISA came through last Tuesday and we’ve arranged the movers for the 29th.  It’s going to be quite the shock for her if we have a bad winter, after spending 30 years in So. Cal where we complain when the temps get below 50 F.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Moving Mom Continues

Yesterday, Mom called to tell us that she had heard from the Consulate and her visa has been approved!  That was REALLY rapid and we’re all delighted.  They had told us that it could take between 2 weeks and 2 months, but no one ever expects the shorter time for this kind of thing.

Now, we’re all going nuts trying to get the last minute details together so we can plan our return trip. We’ll call the movers today and see when they can fit us into their schedule; it should really be an easy move for them, maybe only a half day of work, since Mom isn’t taking all that much stuff with her.

This works out great, since her escrow is due to close at the end of October and we’re set to sign for the new house at the end of November.  And, the best part for me is that it means she’ll be here for Thanksgiving!  I’ve already ordered a turkey from our friends the Antonios and will make it a real family feast.

We have been invited to spend the day with friends, but I think Mom would rather spend her first French turkey day here at the house, and I have to admit I like that idea as well.  I haven’t had a whole turkey since we’ve been here, so it will be fun to do it up right.

I know that there will be some major changes in store for all of us, but I think we have to look at the time we’ll have together as a gift. I certainly believe that we’ll have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Time for cooking

I seem to be in one of those periodic moods where I just feel like cooking.

Part of it is, clearly, having a new stove that I can play on. I am really loving the induction cooktop, which can bring a pot of water to a boil faster than my electric kettle. Also, the oven is a dream. Neither of my gas ovens (here or in L.A.) cooked very evenly at all, and I always had to juggle things to make sure that everything cooked through at approximately the same time. This one, because it’s very well insulated and has a convection setting, gets everything done to the same degree of browness at the same time; for a baker it’s a true pleasure.

Something else that I bought and am really enjoying is my new Thermal Cooker. This is a relatively recent, Japanese take on the slow cooker. I had never heard of these before seeing one in a cooking catalog a couple of months back. Basically, it is a slow cooker, however it’s one that works without electricity. There is an inner, stainless steel pot. You put the food inside and put it on the stove where you bring the ingredients to a boil and cook them for between 5 and 15 minutes (depending on what you’re cooking). Then, you take that pot and put it inside the super-insulated outer pot and close the lid. The idea is that the insulation retains most of the heat from the inner pot and the food continues to cook in its own heat.

At first I was a bit skeptical, because I had never had any type of insulated container that had not lost a fair amount of heat quickly. But I’ve now made several meals in it, and it works great! I made a pot roast the other day that was one of the best I’ve ever made. It came out of the cooker falling apart tender, and because you do not have a lot of continuing heat, there is almost no shrinkage of the final product.

If you don’t have a lot of time to stand over a stove, or want a meal ready at the end of a long day, I really recommend looking into one of these. Unlike the current crop of electric crock pots, you don’t have to worry about it cooking at too high a temperature, and because the actual cooking is done in stainless steel, there is no transfer of taste to the food.

Another reason for lots of cooking is that my neighbors finally have all their tomatoes going ripe at the same time. I had so many tomatoes suddenly appear at my door that I haven’t been able to make enough sauce to use them all, so I’ve had to get some ready for freezing and later cooking during the winter months. JM will be eating tomato sauce and tomato soup all winter long at this rate.

And, the final reason for cooking is that my potluck idea is now on social event 3. We’re having another one on Friday night at a different neighbor’s house, so I will have to come up with something creative before then. I think I’m going to have to use my thermal cooker for that, as it’s also perfect for taking food to someone’s house. I wonder if BBQ pork sandwiches will strike the right note on a cool October night?

Ciao for now.

Randy

Defeat

JM and I don’t watch rugby, which is probably not a good thing to admit when you live in the middle of ” rugby country.”  But it’s impossible to live here and not follow what has been going on with the Rugby World Cup to at least a certain extent.  Especially last night, which was the big match up between France and England.

We figured that we’d know the outcome without watching, because if France won, there would be partying in the streets until the wee hours.  If we got to sleep undisturbed, then England had clearly won.  We slept like babies.

We also noticed that there was a lot of traffic for early on a Sunday morning when we took the Horde out for their morning walk.  That meant people had gone to bed at a reasonable hour; another clue.

We’re sorry for all those who care, but I wonder if the local Brits are going to hide out for the next few days?  I’d better make sure I keep reminding people I’m an American!  Don’t want any fanatics coming after me!

Ciao for now.

Randy

Autumn

My favorite time of year is definitely here. You can smell wood smoke in the evening air, although I still don’t think it has been anywhere near cold enough to need heat or fireplace. But my neighbors don’t share that feeling and are getting in the winter oil and wood supplies.

We’re holding off on filling the fuel tank for a bit, as we’ve had an expensive few weeks. I DID change my stove for an electric oven and induction top. I love it and regret not having done it sooner. I really, really hated schlepping those gas bottles!

But, no sooner had we decided that we would go ahead and do that but than my computer died following our trip to L.A. Talk about a necessary but unexpected expense.

Then, yesterday, the power went off. Now, it was raining, and it has been raining a lot this week, so my first thought was that a tower was hit or flooded out or something. But when I looked across the street I saw that the neighbors had lights. Clearly, the problem was here.

Perhaps it was the new stove. It had, strangely, been delivered without an electrical cord, and our electrician, Stephan had not realized it was induction, so he brought the wrong cord. Even though the stove wasn’t on, I thought I would unplug it, just in case. I flipped the breaker switch and POOF the power went out again. Not the stove then.

The only other thing that was operating that could have been responsible was the dishwasher. I turned that off and flipped the breaker. This time the power stayed on. Again, we thought it might have been caused by the stove (although I really couldn’t see how). Of course, when water started pouring out of the dishwasher, I realized that was our problem.

Luckily, super-plumber, Christian Drouin was able to come over quickly. After about 2 hours taking everything apart, we realized that the pump had blown. Now the dishwasher is just 2 years old. At first, we thought it was out of warranty, but amazingly, we seem to have actually purchased an extended warranty for it. We never do that, so it was quite a surprise.

Now we need to see if we will have a fight on our hands, or if they’ll actually repair it for free. In the meantime, I actually find I don’t mind washing dishes by hand. There must be something wrong with me.

Maybe it does have to do with the season. Chores like reorganizing the kitchen, cooking, doing dishes, etc., all seem very cozy and pleasant right now.

Ciao for now.

Randy

Welcome to the New PossumWorld Blog

Hi guys!  Sorry about this, but I have finally had enough of fighting with Blogger!  It was just too complicated, too irritating, too slow, etc, etc, etc.

So, I changed to WordPress, which I  hope will resolve all my issues.

The downside of this is that I appear to have lost all my archives for the time being.  I am supposed to be able to import all that stuff over from Blogger, but so far I haven’t worked that out as of yet.  That means we’ll be starting anew.  Again, sorry about that, but I guess we’ll cope.

Ciao for now,

Randy