It’s time for some more newsy miniutiae about the summer and my schedule. We have been running all over the Central California coast, previewing places to take Anna while she is here this summer and at Christmas. Our destination last week was San Luis Obispo (SLO, as the signs say all over that area). I will be sharing the resulting photographs here and on my Photostream in August.
I try to avoid scheduling too much work during the summer, and luckily have my annuity to float me along at a comfortable level when I do that. But, since I work online, I have noticed that everything is accelerating more and more.
Answers, work, thinking — all must be in nano-time. I don’t like to do anything in a rush or hurry so I wonder how long someone like me will be able to keep pace with the get-it-done-yesterday mentality that dominates our gig-professional market right now.
A hot trend in my field these days, is having a 5-minute consultation. That is so absurd and fraught with liability, I won’t even consider it. So, when the incoming offers aren’t right, I can turn to a long list of waiting projects. Never a dull moment here.
To get to SLO, we took our usual coastal route up the 101 and made wonderful time, under 3 hours. Coming back we wanted to avoid the Refugio/El Capitan spill stretch because it is still being cleaned up and they have eliminated one lane on the highway, so the traffic southbound crawls.
We elected instead to try a cross-connector, the little known Route 166. If any of you out there has remaining doubt that this planet is warming, I suggest you take a ride through central California and see what we saw this weekend on our long, mesmerizing drive across the once thriving dairy and cattle cradle of the West, Kern County.
Farm after farm after farm appeared over the next swell of the steaming highway, wrested from bone-dry earth and Sertão-like vegetation. Officially it is bordered by the Los Padres National Forest, but the trees are ancient Live Oaks, very low to the ground, which is carpeted with pale yellow grasses. If we hadn’t been zipping along in a never pausing line of speeding vehicles, I might have stopped to take panoramas, because individual shots would not convey the vastness of the space, the undulating steep hills and shadowy valleys. It was so dry and spare, I was riveted the whole time. From this parched land, California produces 90% of the country’s cantaloupe, a large portion of its animal meats, especially beef, and a host of other fruit and vegetable crops.
We raced past fields of green and yellow onions, garlic, strawberries, grape after grape, corn, and miles of citrus trees. How the farmers manage to keep all this going with steadily declining aquifers and no rain for four years, is a miracle of ingenuity. We also saw many signs saying: “No rain. No work.” It is scary.
Back on the home front, our house has been slapping us around lately. We have had the royal battle of the appliances, us vs. them. First, the vacuum cleaner, a very reliable and expensive (to the tune of $1500) workhorse that is like my personal assistant, for heaven sake, just stopped working. The thought of being without it and having to bring in one of the older ones from the garage was stressful. Geoffrey is pretty handy, so he took it apart, changed all the filters, the bag (which, with two animals, one longer-haired human and one with the most astonishing thick head of auburn hair I have ever seen, as well as living in a dry, dusty desert, fills up to the brim twice a month or more), cleaned the entire thing and it still wouldn’t turn on. We called the guy who sold it to us and found out that it, after ten years, is still under warranty — in fact, this unit comes with a lifetime warranty against any defects. But for parts, not labor. His estimate was so high that I sent Geoff back to the drawing board. Long story short, a loose wire, that he repaired. But then! Both the AC and the kitchen refrigerator — the former a Trane, for Pete’s sake, the latter a top of the line Sub-Zero, once again — simply stopped working within a day of each other.
We couldn’t believe it. Both just shut down during our 100F heat wave. We emptied the entire refrigerator and freezer, stuffed as much as we could in the garage refrigerator (thank the gods for that thing!) and then threw out about $600 worth of items that we just couldn’t save, since the fridge had been declining without our realizing it for about a week. Sigh. Two repairmen later, three days without both while parts were ordered, and now we have these sturdy foot-soldiers operational again. With brand new side-mounted refrigerator and freezer thermometers for both the kitchen and garage units, so we never find out the hard way again.
But wait, there’s more. Now we are under ant-attack and have spent the last week peppering the roof ledges outside the kitchen with Terol ant bait. I hate to do it because ants are so beneficial outside. But inside, they are verboten. Double sigh. That required breaking down the entire kitchen, scrubbing, spraying my magic mixture (TJ’s liquid dish detergent/vinegar/water) to get rid of the trail, and wiping up the forlorn little dead bodies because if you don’t, ant emergency personnel return to carry their brethren back to the nest for, what, burial? Consumption? I daren’t think about it.
Not done! The DirecTV wand stopped operating the Geni box in the family room. When I shook it, I could hear a microscopic loose screw inside. It is such a hassle to call them now that they were acquired by our land line provider, ATT. They make you go through a long phone tree of automated choices before you can shout, ‘…send us a new remote!’. It took so long this time that Geoff slammed the phone down in frustration. Then we realized we had two spares from the guest room and Christmas room TVs, which have newer boxes and newer fancier remotes. We hadn’t upgraded the receiver in the family room because we had so many DVRd programs saved on it. Hallelujah for spare remotes. We still have to re-program them to work with this particular TV but at least we don’t have to go through DTV hell to place an order.
Last, but not least, Geoffrey dropped his brand new sexy iPhone at work and a lift driver went right over it in a flash, natch. Don’t ask. My frugal spouse had splurged on this phone, just finished customizing it with all his favorite games (!!). Out he went last night and bought the cheapest, lowest tech version he could find and it put him in such a snit that we had a rare argument. All well this morning, as he left he admonished me ‘not to expect much in the way of communication, texting, selfies, photos, for the duration’. Wouldn’t you know when Mr. Penurious finally blew the wad, he would be punished by Catholic guilt? Or a dark star transit, at the very least.
Now we are frantically getting ready for Deanna and Annabelle, so my posts might be spotty or dotty or both. Please be patient with me and on standby, I may need you! 😀
Images: Wikimedia Commons, fs.usda.gov, en.Wikipedia.org, loopnet.com, SFgate.com