Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Then this happened

So, not how I'd planned to spend Tuesday.

I spent yesterday afternoon, evening, and overnight in Beverly Hospital hooked up to monitors, to see if my chest and back discomfort were from a heart attack.

Apparently not, as I am a free woman again.

At least the food was remarkably good, and the hospital staff were likewise.

The cats survived my absence thanks to my friend Jean's care. Peanut was the only one in the evening who dared to come out of hiding; Sally also dared for breakfast; so I suspect much of what Jean set out for the others was gobbled up by (as Jean called him) Tyrannosaurus Peanut. Perhaps that's why today he's having a bit of potty woes and vomiting. I expect his intestines will settle down now that I'm home and he's back to his usual feeding routine. Stanley's being more clingy than the others now that I've returned.

And so it goes.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

More Home Improvement!

My townhouse condo has a garage underneath. The original design of these units had the garage portion of the basement going all the way back to the rear wall, leaving one side with just stairs to the first floor and a narrow corridor running beside the garage divider wall, leading to the washer/dryer hookups, furnace, and water heater. The people I bought it from had closed off the rear part of the garage to make a small room the width of the unit and maybe a dozen feet deep from the garage end wall to the back wall, with finished sheetrocked walls hiding the concrete. They put down carpet on the stairs, corridor, and little room.

This added room makes doing laundry a lot easier since I have space for a card table to dump the laundry bag onto and to pile the laundry on when it comes out of the dryer. The room itself is good for storage, and of course has accumulated stuff, including four shelving units, over the years. Meanwhile, the carpet -- a dull maroon with rows of little gray lozenges -- has gotten shabbier and shabbier, as have the boring linen white walls and trim.

A while ago I had the stairway and most of the corridor repainted in basic white with caramel-brown trim. The room was so full of stuff, though, that I left it undone. The redone area looked a lot better, though the carpet didn't go well with the new scheme. The carpet, in fact, looked downright ugly.

So I'm having it replaced, with a tough new carpet in dark brown/black with caramel flakes. It should look great with the white walls and caramel trim. And of course, since I have to move all that stuff to clear the area for the new carpet, I might as well get the rest of the basement repainted -- right?

So over the last week or so I've been moving things to the garage -- which, of course, required moving stuff out of the garage, rearranging stuff staying the in the garage, and in general upending both areas. There've been two trips to the transfer station so far to recycle as much as I can; one big item going out in today's trash, with two more slated to go in the next two weeks; a big bag of chuckouts in today's regular trash bin; and in general a redding up and reconfiguration that both spaces desperately needed. The garage itself wanted sweeping out, and got it today.

The job isn't finished yet; I'm pacing myself, doing an hour here, a half hour there; but this morning I made a huge dent in the project, and looking at the fruits of my labor afterwards was sooooo satisfying.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Local News Update

About yesterday's fire: More bad news today.

Crews from the fire department and the town DPW were in the woods today, hunting down hot spots and taking down damaged trees. Apparently when the fire burned over the ridge from Pineswamp into the woods above Linebrook Road it was intense enough to go up some trees instead of just burning through the leaf litter and underbrush, which is what Jean and I saw yesterday.

We walked up Pineswamp around 10:30 this morning to see what we could see, and learned that one of the men cleaning up in the woods had been just struck by a falling tree and was going to be medflighted out. We saw the helicopter go over us, headed for Bialek Park (which our little side street abuts) where there's a field big enough for it to land safely, then head back away toward whatever hospital would be receiving the man. Story here:

We went up about a mile along Pineswamp, past the point we'd reached yesterday. There wasn't a massed presence of fire trucks as there had been the day before, but firemen were at work overhauling the burned area, with hundreds of yards of fire hose running along the edge of the road from the only available fire hydrant to a pumper engine serving one crew working up into the woods. There aren't many houses along there, but we could see that the fire had come within a few dozen yards of some of them.

There was some rain last night, but not enough to do much good. It was pushing 80 degrees today, with variable winds. From what we could gather, the fire crews were in there all day and expect to go back for more mopping up tomorrow.

Update, April 20:

Update on the DPW worker the tree fell on while cleaning up after the forest fire:

I went to the town transfer station yesterday and was talking to the attendant. Turns out he was right there when the tree fell on the guy. Says he got hurt pretty bad: broken shoulder, ribs, leg, and a lot of skin on his arm and side ripped off. But should recover, or at least survive.

He also said the homeowner whose blown-away kindling started it had been taking down trees in back of his property and had six burn piles of slash set up ready to light. I guess we should be grateful he didn't get any of them started before the wind grabbed his fire and sent it into the forest.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Local News

So, this happened in my area today:

I came home around 2:00 p.m. from various errands to find the air around my condo smoky and nearby Pineswamp Road blocked off to cars other than residents'. My friend Jean was talking to a neighbor when I pulled in, and she told me the smoke had been even more intense earlier; she and I strolled up Pineswamp to see what was going on.

We watched for a while from the same place that the photographer was standing when he took the shot of the line of fire trucks along the edge of the woods, in the slide show at the bottom of the story. Lots of smoke up on the hillside in the woods, and we could see bursts of flame whenever the wind gusted, as the fire advanced along the ridge. We watched for over an hour, chatting with neighbors, hearing the State Police helicopter flying overhead.

By the time we left, things seemed to be getting under control despite the difficulty of fire fighting in the thick woods, with only one (I believe nonfunctioning) nearby fire hydrant on the Pineswamp side of the ridge, though there was a water source on the other side. Lotta lotta woods in my town, and they're tinder-dry right now despite recent rain, so this sort of thing does capture one's attention. We should be getting some showers overnight, which hopefully will quench any hot spots the firefighters may have missed.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


New mattress! Got a new mattress yesterday!

I'd been waking up with an aching back for a while now, so off I went on Monday to the local mattress store (The Mattress Firm, successor to Sleepy's) to check out what I could find. Tried several, starting with the firmest (red-color-coded), since I'd been sleeping for years upon years on a firm mattress, but found what seemed most comfortable in the next level down (orange-coded).

Boy, I gotta say, that company does customer service well. Not only was the delivery on time -- a bit early, in fact -- but I could track the truck's progress on a handy web page, see exactly where it was and get a 30-minute window of when I'd be seeing them, got a confirming call from the driver as they were setting out from their preceding stop. The delivery of the new and removal of the old was fast, efficient, and tidy.

So, last night I finally slept on my gigantic new mountain! Oh, yeh -- my 20-year-old mattress was about a foot thick. This new one has gotta be half a foot thicker (and you wouldn't believe how much thicker than that some of the high-end mattresses at the store were!) and getting into bed -- a bed almost a hundred years old, made in a time when mattresses and box springs weren't nearly as plump -- was its own little adventure. And off to dreamland.... with the usual couple of awakenings for bathroom runs, of course....

I noticed during the night and in the morning how much more I was sinking into this plush-top mattress than my very firm old one (which was firm even in the mild trough that had developed over the years). I noticed it retained somewhat my body's impression when I arose. Oh, no! Had I made a terrible mistake?

Well.... No. No, I don't think so. Because when I crawled out of bed this morning, found my footing way down there and stood up....


No aching back. No aching hips. Even my grumpy knees felt better. No feeling tired despite the night's sleep. Best night's sleep I'd had in, well, I dunno how long.

The salesman had said (and the promotional literature did too) that back sleepers need firmest, side sleepers need softer, and front sleepers need softest of all. I start my nights on my side and often awake to find myself on my back, pinned down by Schooner. So... maybe all those years of thinking I needed a firm mattress, I was wrong?

We'll see if it still works as well over the 120-day trial period The Mattress Firm offers -- yes, four months!