Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Home Again

Back from Arizona - Dang it!

It was a lovely week off from all the stress. It did start to creep in again the day before returning when Steve's daughter called with the bad weather news from up here. I hate snowy/icy driving even more than I did before my new X-mas theme song became "Grandma Got Rear-Ended By A School Bus". And just to be clear, I hated it plenty already.

But to update: I now own a new 2013 Hyundai Accent, 4-door hatchback, cruise control, and a bunch of other bells and whistles that I'll eventually work out how to use... or ignore. I've "moved in", meaning all the old junk in its old places has found new places to sit, mostly where I know how to find them. The cubbies have moved around since 2008.

Mostly I love the new car, except for one thing. Kinda major, really. At a mere -14 yesterday, it had to be jump started. And after my first stop, 35 miles down the road with lights off so there should have been a fully charged battery, it refused to start again despite a nice warm engine. It finally did start, and I didn't shut it off the rest of the day until it got parked in the driveway. ( I always drive with 2 sets of keys, so I can lock it while running.) I didn't even gas it up before parking, since doing so would have required stopping the engine. I get to make an appointment with the dealership first thing Thursday morning. And boy, they better take me in! And I mean ASAP.

I'm not sure what's wrong. The dashboard lights all came on when the key turned. But no grinding like it's trying to start, no clicking like the battery is all but dead. Nothing. When Paul jumped it, even with his car running, it took a couple minutes before it started.

It was fine at the dealership last week, of course. I took Rich with me to the dealership, so he could drive the new one to the rental car place to return that one, then go with me to the airport and drive the new car home. A couple other stops had been planned, but the dealership dodos took so long over the financing that we had to change our plans. Glad they weren't urgent.

It seems it's a problem to finance just a minor portion of a new car. I had been told when I put my deposit down that it would be just fine to bring in the insurance check and just sign it over to the dealership, financing the rest. Nope. They wouldn't finance less than $10 grand. Fine, I'll write a check for the rest and finance $10 grand. Of course, it still wasn't that simple, because when it came time to sign papers, I was asked to write a check for an even $4,000 and finance the balance, leaving me with an extra $4,000 in the checking account after that cleared. Fine, I'll just make a big first payment.

Well, maybe not so big as all that. It turned out that I decided this would be a great time to replace that crappy back door on the AZ house that won't lock or keep anything out smaller than a coyote, and replace the master toilet with a handicap height water saving one. Oh, and let's do the same in Minnesota. And....

I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to clear security. Good thing, since I took three times the time everybody else did. It's due to traveling with the scooter. It's a great way to avoid standing in those long lines and having to walk all the way to what is always the very last gate on the concourse. But it needs its own security check. Plus with my shoulders these days, I get the pat-down instead of the arm lift in the security thingy. That means waiting for one of the rare female agents to clear up. My TSA agent was cute, in attitude as well as the usual way, and did her best to reassure me she wasn't going to cop a feel while she was feeling up everything. I think she was more embarrassed than I would ever be.

I bought a bottle of water for $2.75 in the gate area. Not too unexpected, since you can't bring one in with you and they have a monopoly. I thought that was steep until I heard the prices for beverages, sandwiches and snacks on the plane. Glad I planned ahead and brought my own everything. Then I rolled down to my gate, dug out the Kindle, and prepared to wait. After a bit, they announced the plane would be about 10 minutes late.The one we would be flying out on had first to come in from Seattle. After another 20 minutes, it became 20 minutes late, then a half hour, and then they just said "late." It wound up being an hour late for take-off. How did they not know how long a delay it would be? It had to already be in the air well before their first late announcement, right?

Whatever. It would be going, and I would be on it. I'm a bundle of nerves on flight days. I love to fly. I'm just afraid I'll miss the plane, or weather will cancel the flight. I had time to make two restroom stops before the flight, cancelling any need for one on the plane where maneuvering is a royal pain.

One note: MSP has wide aisles and a really huge handicap stall in the ladies rooms. PHX not so much. More of an obstacle course, especially when the cleaning cart is left right at the 90 degree turn into the area.

I was approached by a gate attendant informing me that I needed to register my scooter with them, getting the proper baggage labels on it, and since I needed/wanted it for the trek down to the plane, I needed to line up with the wheelchair bound folks for first entry. As the only non-airport-transported rider, they wanted me to head up the line. They were obsessing about getting the scooter back up the covered runway, through all the passengers waiting to board, down another hall, and into the belly of the beast, er, plane. Once at the door of the plane, however, they decided it could simply be taken down the outside stairs right there to be loaded.  But anyway, I was the very first passenger!

I had no assigned seat when I arrived at the ticket counter. I found out they keep a full row of seats behind first class for handicapped folks. There is a wall separating first class from us undesirables, so no under-seat storage as I had hoped for. My purse had to have the kindle, water, jerky, pills and cough drops removed and stowed with the magazines in the pouch so I'd have access during the flight, my purse and jacket stowed overhead. As everybody loaded, it became obvious I had the row to myself. There was another woman on the other side with her row all to herself as well. Yee-haaaa!

The flight was uneventful, barring one thing. As we landed, I had the wonderful feeling of coming home. Not arriving for a vacation. Home. 

I had Super Shuttle reservations, linked to flight arrivals and departures, and knew they kept track of which were late. I looked at my printout again to find the proper door to exit and wait for my shuttle. While sitting at the median curb, I noticed something peculiar about all the traffic whizzing past. It finally came to me what was wrong: none of them were all covered with salt!

Steve and Fred headed out the front door while I was waiting for the lift gate to get in place and lower me down. Fred was so happy to see me that he broke away from Steve and waddled out to the van, tail swooping in a full circle of happiness. I was afraid he would get trapped under the descending ramp, but the driver stopped him with some petting. We got reacquainted before Steve and I did.

It was a wonderful lazy week. We'd had plans to head to the pool/spa, but upon arrival found out they were repairing something. We should call to find out when they would reopen. Yep, that happened after the temperatures dropped enough that we no longer had an interest in going. It warmed up again just in time for me to get ready for the flight back here, into the land of ice and snow, fresh just that morning, of course.

There was a bunch of cleaning once I arrived. I swept up half a Fred from the floors, did laundry, grocery shopped (with Steve), cooked, did dishes including the now two hummingbird feeders, made a new batch of nectar. Lest it sounds like all work, or only I worked, Steve proved his increasing skills as a cook, and I made it through 5 books on my Kindle. The X-mas tree went up and we decorated it together. Steve had recently injured one shoulder, but still had one good one for getting lights to the top of the tree. As long as he remembered which to avoid using!

There were a couple of visits with Joan and Bob. We planned to scooter down to the local Mexican restaurant, but they announced they were picking us up because it was raining where they were. (The forecast was for dry until midnight. They lied.) By the time they arrived, it was raining here as well. A good soaker, .75 inches in the backyard rain guage, .17 officially. The second visit was a ride over at night to see their X-mas lights and decorations, only properly appreciated after dark, of course. Wayyyyy more work that Steve and I were interested in doing in the few days I was down. Maybe after I retire and we can start around Dec. 1.

There were also calls to schedule either the work on the house or the measuring for the work on the house. The toilet is now in. There should be a phone call next week on the door. Home Depot was fun. I started the phone conversation with the idea that we don't have transportation to get there, could they please just send out the outfit who does the measuring? HD's guy replies that we should measure the space and come into the store to talk..... So I got to repeat what I'd told him, adding we both knew they never took the customer's word on the measurement anyway, so let's just start with the official measurement, eh?

OK, but there is a price for that. It applies to the door if you follow through.

Yes, I've done this before, I know. Here's my card number.

When they get us the results, you can come into the store and....

Yeah. Right. I'll head into the store in Minnesota, get the info, and call down there to set everything up. Just like last year with the other door we replaced. And maybe he'll get his head out of his ass far enough so that his ears can work.

The plane home was not as late as the one heading down. Too early as far as I was concerned. But I didn't get to spend that extra time with Steve, so what the heck. I was in bed by 1:30 or so, up at the alarm at 6.

Good thing I got lots of sleep down there.

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