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SATURDAY

A week ago today, I woke up and could hardly walk!  Somehow, some way, my lower back seemed to have disconnected from the rest of my torso.  Well that’s what it felt like.  I couldn’t stand up straight and even I popped two Tylenol, an hour later, still in pain.  I spent all of last Saturday in my apartment hobbling around and moaning now and then. By evening I took the one and only Alleve in the house.  We have two vintage deco lamps on our piano, one of the bulbs burnt out.

SUNDAY

After a very fitful night of sleep, I woke up and still in severe discomfort.  A long hot shower with the water pouring on my back only felt good while I was in the shower.  Given that we were in the apartment where the hot water supply is seemingly endless, I considered staying there forever.  However, the thought of more wrinkly skin and vanity being what it is, I decided I better get out and try to move around.  Believe it or not, there were still some reindeer that had to be put out.  Reindeer, you say?  Yes reindeer, my ecumenical concession to my Jewish husband when it comes to Christmas decorations.  Of course there’s a wreath and even two metal sculpture trees which light up from within with a candle.  And there are Christmas cards, usually NOT holiday cards, and two vintage stockings hung from the fireplace as well as a few Christmas village houses nestled among the plants on the living room window sill.  The warrior in me soldiers on.  By early evening I take one the two Tylenol with Codeine we have in the house.  One of the light bulbs in a foyer lamp has burnt out.

MONDAY

Thinking I had a Monday morning meeting, I scramble around as best I can, still my lower back not working in conjunction with any other body part.  I’m walking half bent over and on a tilt.  I know I can’t walk to work so I take a taxi.  WHAT? NO MEETING??!!! Well sitting at my desk is no more uncomfortable than sitting at home and besides at the office I have a whole bunch of sympathizers around me.  Actually sitting or lying down on my back with my legs curled up to my chest IS the only comfortable position.  Today Peter and I are going to the afternoon SAG movie, Mr. Turner.  I leave my office at 2:00pm to catch the 2nd Ave bus and will transfer at 57th St to a crosstown bus which will take me to West 57th St at 6th Ave.  The traffic on 2nd Avenue is a f_ _ _ _g nightmare.  The bus does not move.  It takes the bus more than 30 minutes to get to 55th St from 79th St.  YES I could have walked there quicker but I can’t really walk.  At 2:45, sirens are screaming as everything comes to a halt and let’s an ambulance through.  If you’ve never been to Midtown during the Christmas season, you really can’t imagine what is going on…it’s absolute gridlock everywhere;  Pedestrians crossing at all points, more cars on the street than ever, the windows of Bergdorf and Tiffany beckoning crowds and the tree at Rockefeller Center causing more jam -ups. 

Far INTO the Maddening Crowd

Far INTO the Maddening Crowd

At 2:55 I’m at 57th St and between Madison and Fifth and we have stopped again (not that we ever really roll along) and now two firetrucks are approaching from the west and all vehicles move over.  There’s is some stupid little black car that is playing chicken with the bus and wants to get in front of us!  I’ve got to get to 6th Ave and be in the theater before 3pm because then they lock the doors! I telephone Peter and tell him I probably won’t make it and will go home. By 2:58 we still haven’t crossed 6th Avenue to the bus stop.  When we do I practically leap off the bus and make my way across the street and up to the theater. It IS after 3pm and even though I’m bent over a bit I look up and see a woman going in and then another.  I try to walk faster and when I get to the doors I can’t believe they’re still unlocked.  At that moment, Peter comes into the lobby to see if I’ve made it.  The nice lady at the entry desk greets me with “Thank goodness, you made it”.  When I tell her I’ve been on a bus for an hour, she suggests I should have walked!

When the movie is over and it is over 2 hours long, we go out to find a) it’s raining b) I will never make it home in time to hostess my Mah Jongg group at 6:30 and c) I cannot take the subway which would be quicker because I can’t negotiate the stairs! and d) the bus doesn’t appear to be an option because as far as the eye can see, it’s traffic, traffic, traffic and I can’t imagine getting on a bus again.  I call one of the players and ask her to call the others and delay the game by a half hour.  Peter is annoyed because I’m in a rush, can’t walk and we are in frigging Midtown in the middle of the the Christmas holiday which looks a little like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  I start to walk east in the rain, bent over while he is kvetching about no rain coat and no hat.  He also has predicted that I will NEVER  get a cab because by now, I have walked (read hobbled) as far as Fifth Ave. and gone south to 56th St hoping to avoid the madness of 57th St.  OMG there is a cab two cars away – I am waving my arm like a lunatic and rushing thru moving traffic to grab that cab.  Thank you Lord and the TLC.  Just before my guests arrive, I take the last Tylenol with Codeine.

TUESDAY

I have to meet an appraiser in the morning and then I’m off to the office.  Actually standing up a bit taller and feeling pretty good.  Tuesday is also a SAG movie night but this time I have to be there by 6pm.  Janice, my friend from the office is also invited to tonight’s screening so we’re going to go together.  I tell her there’s no way we can go the bus route, we have to take the subway system.  Janice is not all that familiar with the subway connections so I say, “Just follow me”.  First we wait and wait in the rain (yes raining again) for a bus.  But since NYC is always doing something that requires scaffolding we are at least standing under the shed (bottom floor of scaffolding) while we wait and wait.  The though of trying to walk mostly at an incline to Lexington Ave to get on the subway seems like a really painful option so I say let’s wait another minute or two for the bus to come.  Well waiting for a bus to come in NYC in the rain is like waiting for a tea kettle to boil.  At this point Janice wonders if her Metro card has any money on it.   The bus comes and as I walk down the aisle I hear that dreaded sound of a bleep rather than a ding signifying the passenger’s Metro card has insufficient funds.  Luckily the driver says she owes 55 cents and lets her drop the change into the slot.  Janice has got to add money to her card when we get to the subway station.  We have to walk two blocks from the bus to the subway and halfway there Janice calls for a halt.  Well once we are at the subway station, of course we miss the train that is there because JB has no money on her card!!! Oy!  Another train comes along fairly quickly and I lead her through the rush hour hordes of people to the another subway line on 59th St.  Soon we are on an R train headed for 7th Ave and 57th St.  We arrive at the theater with time to spare – traveling underground is really the only way to go at this time of year.  When we got home, a bulb in one of the den lamps burnt out.

WEDNESDAY

The back pain is not only still there, it is bad.  Our office is donating toys to Cassidy’s Place and I go out at lunch time to find a suitable gift – this is the last day to donate.  We are having a meeting at 3pm and a holiday toast at 4pm.  It’s a very busy day.  By 3:00 my back is aching so I got two aspirin from the front desk and washed them down with champagne! By the time the meeting was over and the party underway, I felt ok.  But not for long.  I had to meet my friend, Barbara for a holiday dinner à deux and walking the few blocks to the restaurant was just agonizing.  Dinner was wonderful, the food was great, the company delightful.  Unfortunately I had to walk home and even though it was only a few blocks I  just inched along in the rain- Yes raining again!

THURSDAY

Before I left for the day I opened the freezer and OMG the stuff in there was slightly defrosted and I thought maybe the door had been ajar all night.  The night before I had a couple of spoonfuls of ice cream and maybe I didn’t close the door completely!  Surely the diet gods are behind this!  I’m meeting Janice at a property a few blocks away so I walk there and by the time I arrive I know that I can’t go along on these showings because there will be a lot of walking along the way.  I go back to the office and sit.  Once home, I put this massaging machine behind me and just let the pressure and circular movements massage the base of my back.  Peter is about to make a drink and head to the freezer to get some ice cubes only to discover that THERE IS NOTHING FROZEN IN THE FREEZER!! The ice cubes are water, the broccoli is mush, the frozen fruit is soggy and soft and all of the herbs have turned into green slime.  Just f_ _ _ _g great!  It’s 8:00 at night and I don’t know whether we need to call our landlord who of course will not be in his office or try the Super.  Peter heads downstairs and as luck would have it, our Superintendent is in his office.  Technically, he is supposed to do work in our apt only at the behest of our landlord since we are not the shareholders – it gets complicated in New York.  Anyway, once he heard of the dilemma he instructed a porter to switch out our refrigerator for one that was in a vacant apt.  First all of the food had to be removed and a lot of the stuff thrown out.  The refrigerator was actually pretty cold because it hadn’t been opened all day.  After a lot of measuring and moving of furniture in both the living room and the dining room (because that’s the only way this new refrigerator was going to get into the kitchen), the door were removed, the old one moved away from the wall giving us full view of years of dust and stuff.  The new refrigerator is bigger than the old one and it’s BLACK!   By 9:30 I’m microwaving some Chinese noodle soup that had defrosted.

OMG It's Black!

OMG It’s Black!

FRIDAY

We finally got ourselves out the door and headed to Ocean Grove for the weekend.  We hadn’t been to the cottage in two weeks so when we arrived it was about 50 degrees!  I pushed up the thermostat  and began to unload our stuff.  Once done, we headed off to do grocery shopping just as the house was warming up.  The cats curled up in their beds which are next to a radiator. 

Actually Nora Decided To Sleep With Nicky

Actually Nora Decided To Sleep With Nicky

We got home at about 6pm and wow the house felt cold.  After unloading bags and bags of groceries which required the door being open, I checked the thermostat and pushed it up higher to get the heat to kick on.  Five minutes, ten minutes – NO HEAT.  There’s a whole lot of cursing going on….  Peter goes to the basement which is actually only a Yankee basement, not much bigger than a Manhattan kitchen and to reach it you have to climb down a ladder, not stairs and of course move about 10 things that are stashed in the back area which I refer to as the Hoosier room.  He finds a reset button and nothing happens.  We wait.  He pushes the button again and after a few minutes, the furnace kicks on.  Pretty soon the radiators are hot.  And then 15 minutes later, the furnace stops.  By 8:30 we are freezing and again tempers are flaring, it is really, really cold in the house and someone (not me) thinks going back to NYC is the answer. NO WAY! I’m not leaving the house with no possible heat so the pipes can freeze and burst – you know who grew up in an apartment building!  We call the emergency number and are told we will get a return call. NO CALL.  At 10:00 we call again and about 11:00 we get a call.  The nice man on the phone who had been sleeping was willing to come out BUT I suggested he try to walk Peter through some possible solutions.  After 45 minutes on the phone, the furnace kicked on.  And 15 minutes later it stopped.  The only possible choice we have at this point is to go to bed with a lot of covers and hopefully a cat too.  Before I went upstairs I really wanted to finish watching the finale of Grace Point which was On Demand.  I had a heat shirt on under my pajama top, a corduroy shirt over that, a scarf around my neck and gloves on and socks and slippers.  I can’t fall asleep if my nose is cold and every time I sort of covered it, I felt like I wasn’t getting enough air. Not a good night. 

SATURDAY

About 4:00 am I got up to use the bathroom and the radiators were hot. Oh joy!  At 8:30 we woke up and the house was cold as were the radiators. OH NOT JOY.  Peter calls the emergency number at 9:30 and is assured Gary will call us.  At 11:00 am he calls again.  No call back.  Well by now I’m in the middle of making Beef Minestrone in the crock pot and roasting some cauliflower in the oven and oh boy that 450 degree oven helped to keep the kitchen warm.  I made us hot oatmeal for breakfast.  By 2:00pm we still had no call back and I called the emergency number and I was not as nice as Peter was about being trapped in a house that is registering 52 degrees waiting for a phone call.  I told the not-pleasant- customer-service lady we had to get of this freezing place and gave them a cell phone number.  Within 20 minutes we get a call from Gary who says he has tried to call us but our voice mailbox is full. WTF? There are no messages on our phone.  He arrives shortly and is very personable and knowledgeable and after some looks here and there, he finds the problem.  The furnace is over full of water causing some pressure problem but how did it get that way?  30 minutes later he discovers that the pig tail needs to be cleaned out.  Don’t ask!  As I write this last line, he is packing up his gear.  The radiators are not hot yet but God and Gary willing they will be! 

The day isn’t over yet so I’m not sure what else can go wrong today, you never know.  I might have to call my sister-in-law, Juanita to see if Mercury is in retrograde because believe it or not, the kitchen light in the cottage wouldn’t go on but that turned out to only be a loose bulb and the battery on Peter’s computer died about an hour ago.  Stay tuned….   

Sign of the Times

Sign of the Times

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La Vien en Rose in early Spring

La Vie en Rose in early Spring

This photo was taken probably in early April before the rose bush’s leaves opened.

OMG what a day! I worked from morning till night doing all kinds of things; AND I’m going to tell you about all of them.  Why? Well, because if you’re fortunate enough to have a family member or friend who has a cottage and you get an invitation to visit sometime this summer, I want you to know that a lot goes into making La Vie en Rose and every other beach house a great place to stay.

Today, Sunday, has been the nicest day so far this Memorial Day Weekend, considered by all to be the unofficial beginning of summer.  Our street was filled with the cars of visitors who parked and went off to the beach.  That’s what we used to do when we would go to the Shore for the weekend.  But those days are long gone…..

I started off the morning shaking out the throw rugs, then I dust-mopped the kitchen and bathroom floor with my Swifter.  Then I washed both floors.  Peter had gone to get me coffee and while he was gone, I cleaned the litter box, put last night’s dishes away and made the bed.

When he returned with my Grandé Americano, I made us a breakfast of bacon, eggs and English muffins.  That was the last time I sat down!

While Peter washed the breakfast dishes, I decided to vacuum the white area rugs which are here and there though out the cottage and are too light weight to be vacuumed with the Hoover, so I use the Dust Buster to pick up all the pesky little specks.  After the third rug, the Dust Buster began to lose power – great!  And the day had just begun.  Downstairs to recharge the vacuum, I decide we must move the kitchen table so I can use the Hoover vacuum on the radiator where dust and cobwebs left over from the winter are probably residing. Moving the table is a two-man job and now that it is halfway out into the working part of the kitchen and the 4 chairs are scattered about, it’s kind of tight in there to maneuver.  My husband agrees he should clean the radiator and I tackle the window. I  took the curtains down and shook them out and noticed how dusty the window sill was and how dirty the window was – a lot of rain and snow this winter!

I’ve been harping about repainting the window sills and frames since last year because they are layered with paint, some of which is cracking, some is chipping and basically they just look bad.  This ginormous task has been carefully avoided by Peter  up to now.  I started cleaning that nasty dirty area between the storm windows and the window sill.  Let me just remind you all that this cottage was built about 1888!  Peter brought out two scrapers and I began trying to smooth out the rough over-painted areas and removing the loose crackled pieces of paint.  I’m just going to skip over the fight we had about scraping versus non-scraping and then sanding because let me assure you, the window frames got scraped and sanded as I knew they would!

The scraping/sanding task also included washing the windows inside and out in the living room. To do so, I went outside on the front porch and  yuk another job to do.  But before I deal with the porch, I vacuumed the living room rug as well as the scrapings and sawdust in each window.  I had to move the BIG TV, God is it heavy, to get to window back there.  By the way, have I ever told you how much I dislike, bordering on hate, triple track storms and screens.  After dripping in WD-40, I finally got one of upper storm windows down so it could be washed inside and out.  Peter went upstairs to do the window frames and while he was up there, I thought he should vacuum the back porch which was covered in debris and leaves.

For 2 days the box of the porch candles has sat in the living room and I was determined to get them out on the glass tables (after I washed the tables naturally).  But first, back to the yukky porch which was really dirty (it was a long winter).  Peter washed the porch which means furniture was all over the place and some of it on the lawn.  Yesterday I filled the porch planter (which is like an outdoor window sill planter) with geraniums and petunias but didn’t attach it to the porch BECASUSE the porch wasn’t clean.  It gets tied in place to the railing spindles BUT they were dirty and spotted with mildew.  So out comes the Tilex and brush and rubber gloves as I tackle spindle after spindle scrubbing the mildew away and discovering that some of them were losing paint and OMG, rotting and will need to be replaced. It’s hard to work on the porch and not notice how black the front of the house is due to the traffic and dirt from the road.  More Tilex and more hosing down.  By this point I’m pretty wet.

I still had a wicker planter to fill with pink petunias, however that piece was in the garage and Peter had to go get it – “Not now”, he said, “Do something else”.  OK, I will transplant the mint.  Yes, I know it grows like a weed and because it does,  some has already sprouted up in areas other than the patch of lawn I gave it last year.  I had bordered that patch of ground with sea shells, some of which did not survive the winter.  So, as most of the other jobs have been going so far today, this one wasn’t going to be any different – Stop, get some sea shells from a stash I have in the shed and replace the broken ones before I start to transplant the errant mint into its rightful home.  Now that I’m on my hands and knees, I can see that the flagstone walkway is overgrown with grass and needs trimming.  I have to do this a couple of times each summer and am always surprised that the damn grass grows on top of the stone but not in the lawn!  At this level, I see a lot of areas that need hand trimming and yes, I did that too!

About this time, I realize that there are about 7 jobs in progress and none completely finished.  The furniture is still all over the kitchen, the porch furniture is scattered and the porch floor is wet and littered with paint chips.  I went back to the front of the house and made the mistake of looking up and saw that the porch ceiling should probably be repainted and certainly it was really dirty, so as I aimed the hose upward, the water came downward and I just got wetter. I asked Peter to go get the wicker planter, PLEASE!

As he filled the bird feeder,  I got the Round-UP out to kill the weeds that were popping up on the patio and between the blocks on the sidewalk.  That done, it was time to put the petunias in the wicker planter.  Uh oh, I don’t have enough dirt!  I dug some up where I plan to plant a basil plant but it really wasn’t enough.  I think there were 12 plants in the flat, however the flat was a plastic molded affair and it was really difficult to get the plants out.  There were a few casualties!  I squished them in together and HOPED that their dirt will blend together and I probably better buy some potting soil soon. I just hope they survive till I return next weekend.

Our neighbors strolled over and she noticed how stick like my hydrangeas were and informed me that I needed to cut back those stems because what I thought were buds were not and I should cut them all back to where there was some green growth near the bottom.  She offered me the use of her new clipper and now even though it was 6:30pm I tackled the two hydrangeas in the front and the one in the back.  Somebody has to tie up all these dead branches for the yard-waste pick-up. 

By the time the kitchen table and chairs were put back, the TV was put back, the porch furniture was put back (only to come off again BECAUSE the porch needs to be repainted) and the two vacuum cleaners emptied and put away, as well as the bottles of Tilex, Windex, Awesome, Simple Green and Fantastik, it was after 7pm.  I was most definitely NOT making dinner tonight.  

After a shower and two Tylenol (for my achey body), we ordered Chinese food!. Tomorrow is another day and after the Parade, I think Peter will repaint the front porch floor….this ole house! 

 

 

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