Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Minutiae

Sunday evening, as I lay draped on our oversized armchair, my nose buried in a book, Miss Chef commented that I hadn’t posted on my blog lately.  “I know,” I replied, “But I’m not sure what to write about.” 

This afternoon at work, as I sat drowsing at my desk, I popped into my email and noticed that Bossy Betty had dropped off this comment on my last post:

BB comment 

Being an English teacher, BB has a knack for not just asking a question, but creating a writing assignment.  I thought I’d take her up on it--indeed, what have I been doing since Thanksgiving?

Answer: stuff.  All that stuff that happens while you’re busy making other plans.

Friday after Thanksgiving, not only did we get our tree, but we got it up and decorated.  (Please excuse the quality of my photos; they’re all from my phone.)



Oh, but it gets more exciting!  That Sunday, I drove an hour for goat poop.  As our disastrous garden this past summer attested, it was high time I put something back into the soil, and I could think of no finer dirt food than goat manure—especially since we happen to be friends with a goat farmer.  Mom even joined me for the hour’s drive out to Waxhaw, which is a a long time to be driven around for the pleasure of seeing your daughter shovel…stuff.

But I have to tell you, these goat farmers sure are gracious about providing poop.  They had already pulled up their wheel loader with a bucket full of the composted stuff, so there was no stink to contaminate my car.  And Mr. Goat Lady himself (aka Matt) did most of the shoveling into the double-bags I’d assembled.  When they were as full as they could stand, Mrs. Goat Lady (aka Michele) offered an extra feed bag to get every last bit of goodness for the garden.  Mom enjoyed chatting with her while we shoveled, and then Michele and Matt gave us a brief tour of the facility.

Unfortunately, I left my phone in the car, so the only picture I have of the whole experience is this:


Hey, that’s about 200 pounds of fertilizer!  Goat poop is dense.  (Oh, and did I mention…?  Their last name is Lamb.  Bazinga!)

Don’t worry—we did also offer some real entertainment to the folks, including dinner out at our favorite restaurant (Passion8 Bistro), and an evening at The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Ultimate Christmas Show (abridged).  Then Monday it was back to reality, as Miss Chef and I headed back to work and my parents headed back home.

After all that excitement, I was looking forward Monday evening to a quiet, empty house after five days of company.  Just me and the dog, since Miss Chef teaches Monday nights.  However, as Rosie and I greeted each other at the door after a long day apart, I heard an odd sound in the vicinity of the guest bathroom.  “Did somebody leave the water running?” I said to Rosie.  She didn’t answer.  Which made it all that much easier to hear the carpet go squish as I walked into the small hallway.

What Rosie wasn’t telling me was that the water heater had blown a connector and was spraying water at the furnace.  The furnace didn’t seem to care, and was letting the water splatter on the walls, run down to the floor and ooze on through into the hallway.

I will not go into the details of the panicked call to Miss Chef, the two hours of running the carpet cleaner to suck the water up, the multiple visits from the plumber, the evening showers chez a good friend…nor the gulps we took as we heard the cost of repairs.

No, I’ll just tell you we have a brand-new same-as-cash financing agreement to go along with our new tankless water heater.

Here’s where the old, 40-gallon tank sat (and spewed)—on the right wall you can see the control panel for the new system.



And here’s the new, exterior system (with water barrel and A/C unit for size comparison):


The main benefit of one of these is that you’ll never run out of hot water—it’s heated on demand.  That also means it’s more efficient, as you don’t have 40 gallons of water being kept up to temperature 24/7.  Surprisingly, the energy savings is not great enough to make up the additional cost of a tankless heater.  But since our original tank installation had not been up to code, the cost of the repairs was almost half the cost of this new system.  So we bit the bullet and went tankless.  (Also, this system means almost zero chance of your water heater springing a leak and flooding out your house.  But how often does that happen, right?)

So that, my dears, is what I have been up to—that, and catching up on laundry.  But as I struggle to get my focus back onto the upcoming holidays, let me leave you with some prettier pictures, to go with my new background theme.

A couple closeups of the tree…including the lovely ornament I won from Yabu back in September…





…a poor picture, with poor lighting, of the charming wreath my mother made, complete with foliage and berries from our invasive nandina plants….



…and a parting shot of our lights on the outside of the house.  Miss Chef decided if we were going to put lights on the house, we were going to do it right, so we have more than we’ve ever had before.  She’s still talking about getting on the roof to add something to the center peak, but thankfully she’s a bit overscheduled for the moment and probably won’t get to it…until she reads this post and decides to prove me wrong!


Bonus: if you look closely, you can just see Rosie silhouetted on the lawn.  She’s not having any major accidents during the day (knock wood!!!), but still has some minor issues in the evening.  I guess we’re kind of maintaining at this point, though I don’t think the red-clover treats are really working.


  1. Hey, this vegetarian still loves you too!
    Sorry about the water heater - never heard of one going on a rampage before!

    1. I know--you house it, feed it, give it a semi-private room, and it turns on you. It shouldn't be surprised to find itself on the back of a truck.

  2. "...water heater springing a leak and flooding out your house. But how often does that happen, right?"

    Hah!! Aside from it happening to you, which is "one" (so far), it happened to us, which makes "two" (so far), our neighbours (who weren't there at the time and ended up needing full flooring replacements), which makes "three" (so far), ... shall I go on? Hearing your pain!! What a great idea to have a waterless tank - that seems like a sensible solution!

    Please give Rosie a nice scritch for me and tell her I hope her innards settle down very soon. Is it possible for dogs to have IBS?

    1. Oh, do go fact, I think you may have bad water heater juju!

      Rosie's accidents are--thank God--not of the bowelificent type. I'd not be quite so accepting of the inconvenience!

    2. Definitely a plus! How about interstitial cystitis? I suppose the vet already considered it. Poor Rosie girl.

  3. Congratulations. I am now satisfied. You may continue your life. Is there something wrong with me that I have an urge to come and stroke that new snazzy exterior box? I think the renovation I did this summer has warped my idea of beauty.

    1. I knew you'd appreciate it! Now I want to install a back-and-forth red light a la the Cylons on the original Battlestar Galactica.

  4. Bonjour Alison. Amazing how life has a tendency to get in the way of blogging! :-) You have certainly been busy dealing with... stuff, and you should not feel bad about not writing for a while. We will always be here when you return, Bossy Betty, French Girl in Seattle, and the others... Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. Ah, my readers may be few, but they are loyal. :)

  5. Argh!!! I am so sorry to hear of your water woes! What I don't understand is why hot water heaters feel the need to be so dramatic about the end of their lives. How about a discrete little dribble that politely catches your attention? No, it has to be a major panic-causing gusher.

    I'm glad to hear it has all worked out, and I share Bossy Betty's admiration of your sleek new unit!

    1. To be honest, it had been dribbling for quite some time. We were in the process of having a handyman come in to take of that and some other odds and ends (since we don't have a Kim!), but it was obviously impatient.

      Maybe my next thrilling post will be about the handyman repairs to doors, gutters and lighting fixtures. Woo-hoo!

  6. I did some research on the tankless some time ago and the biggest complaint is that depending on the water temp to begin with, the water can't get hot enough. How has it been thus far? If you've answered in another post, don't reply. I'm really behind on blogging.

    I love the ornament closeups and may have to copy that idea should I ever get the tree up this Christmas.

    1. Nope, our water gets plenty hot. In fact, the supervisor who came to inspect the plumber's work actually convinced Miss Chef to turn the temperature down a little bit. The only two things I don't like about it is that it takes a little longer for the hot water to reach the tap (since the unit is outside, it's that much further away), and there's a weird "sandwich" effect, after the water heats up, where you get a bit of cooler water before it settles into a steady temperature. It has been nice knowing I don't have to worry about running out of hot water, though, especially when Miss Chef and I do back-to-back showers on a cold morning.

      I used the last ornament picture as my Facebook background. :)

  7. Squish is NOT what you ever want to hear when you step in your home. I yiyi, I am so sorry for the mess and expense.

    You made me laugh out loud over the goat poop. 200 pounds is A LOT but I'm sure your garden will be fabulous this coming year.

    Hope the rest of your holidays are uneventful or at very least dry!

    Merry Christmas. Your tree and house lights look perfect!
    xo jj


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