Monday, September 16, 2019

Monday Meanderings - 9.16.2019

Since our kids surreptitiously installed an Echo device in the house last Christmas, Alexia has become like a family pet. We taught her a few tricks and she entertains us from time to time, and she turns a light off and on, but we have come to an impasse over the garage door.

One of the "tricks" I taught her was to remind us each evening to check the garage doors. We used to have a real live neighbor, who would call me on occasion, while walking her dog, to say, "Bob. You forgot to put your garage door down. Again." Unfortunately, she passed away, and now it is up to Freddy from across the street to tell me the door is still up, but he doesn't call - he rings my doorbell late at night and scares the be-jeebers out of me.

So I assigned this task to Alexia, along with other reminders, and she faithfully calls out, "Don't forget to check the garage doors." At first, this scared the be-jeebers out of me as well, but I figured out how to have her speak out softly, and all is well.

If  our home were more technically advanced, Alexia could check the garage doors herself, and probably close them as well, and the reminder would not be needed, but that is not the current state of automation, and so she reminds me every evening. Even if she doesn't need to. Even if I say, "Alexa, the garage doors are down."

Her response to this statement varies. Sometimes she gives me the definition of a garage door. A couple of times she has started playing music from the group named "Three Doors Down." There's always the possibility of her standby "Hmm. I don't know that." But the impasse came about when she started arguing with me. "No! A garage is not a door!"

Barb suggests that I might not want to offend her, or make her mad. She is, after all, on speaking terms with the A/C and the TV. She can turn the lights off. And she might well have other tricks, like ordering a truck load of toilet paper from Mother Amazon.

But she can't close the garage door. Yet.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Monday Meandering - 8.26.2019

If the old almanac observation about judging the depth of the coming winter by observing how the critters pack on the fat during the Fall is to be believed, we are in for a hard winter.

The pecan crop around here seems to follow a bi-annual pattern - good year, then lean year. This will be a lean year. Not that many pecans to begin with, and certainly not after the squirrels get through. The entire pecan crop seems to lying in fragments on outr driveway and front walk.

From early morning to late evening, the resident squirrels gnaw the still-green pecans into fragments and discard the detritus on the ground, where it remains to be crunched beneath our car wheels as we come and go.

The yard guys come and blow the fragments away periodically, but I think the squirrels just consider this a challenge to recover the driveway as quickly as possible, which is pretty darn quick.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Monday Meanderings - 8.12.2019

News from the Neighborhood

The car is gone!

The car that showed up across from our driveway when the City was repaving finally got hauled away. After a police officer had tagged the windshield with the orange sticker of abandonment, I thought it would be weeks still, but in less time than that another officer showed up, followed shortly by a tow truck. The officer and truck driver took an album full of photos each and finally hoisted it onto the truck and took it to a far better place. At least as far as we are concerned.

The Crack House is gone!

A house up the street from us fell into disrepair and the various groups of renters in the recent past have not exactly added to the over-all quality of the neighborhood. A neighbor up the street had reported drug deals that occurred there, and it was getting pretty dicey. No more.

The owner - new or old - stripped the house to the studs, literally, replaced the wiring, plumbing, windows, cabinets, and appliances. It has been re-roofed, re-painted and landscaped and placed on the market. For $415,000. I notice there's a contract pending.

The fence is up!

After we puzzled a while over the row of flags dotting another neighbor's yard, and decided that they marked where a fence would be positioned, and a great deal of time passed with nothing happening, the fence went up this week. Looks pretty strange to us. Sort of a ranch-style fence positioned across the side and front yards.

What was that?

The other night, at 11:55pm, to be precise,  a very large, very loud, very low airplane flew over the house - and took a long time to do so! The next morning our local chapter of the Nextdoor social media app, which usually concerns itself only with lost dogs and cats, blew up with questions from a large swath of neighborhoods about the mystery airplane! At last count, 123 neighbors posted questions and opinions about the plane, and what it might or might not have been and why it was so low, and why it was so slow. As with most social media, the conclusion was inconclusive. It was a very large, very loud, very low, very slow airplane. Go back to bed, folks.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Monday Meanderings - 7.29.2019

News from the Neighborhood -

A few weeks ago the City of Austin began posting notices about a pending re-paving of the streets in our neighborhood. This was good news because of the deteriorating condition of the existing asphalt and bad news because of the disruption it would cause.

The notices had dire warnings about cars parked in the street (they would be hauled to some other vague location) and the interruption it would cause (if they are working on your street and you need to come or go, tough luck).

The work began, and we carefully considered our lunch-time options in view of where the paving trucks seemed to be working and decided they would not get to us until after we had dined at Chuy's. We keep our priorities straight on things like that. So we left and had lunch and you can guess the rest.

It turned out to be a negligible delay - one side of our street had the tar and gravel laid down and by driving to the bottom of our block we scooted across to home and safety before the trucks started doen the other side. Home free.

As far as cars that had to be re-located, it appeared that they simply had tow-trucks gather up vehicles on to-be-paved streets and park them on already-paved streets. Like ours. And it soon became obvious that the tow trucks were NOT charged with returniing them once moved; it was up to the owner to find and remove his vehicle. But there is this one un-driveable (front end mashed in) vehicle that ended up across from our driveway that the owner evidently thinks is in a better place than in front of his or her house.

At first, we didn't know what the deal was, but Freddie - the across-the-street neighbor, had seen the tow truck deposit the car and learned from the towing company that they had no further obligation to return it. So he called it in as an abandoned vehicle and was told it might sit there a long time before any action by the city was taken. So, we doubled down and also called and got essentially the same story, but... the other day a cop put the orange sticker of death on the windshield, so maybe, just maybe it will be moved in our lifetime.

In the mean time, I'll make you a real good deal on a late model Chrysler SUV with extensive front end damage. As is. You will need to arrange its removal, but the price is excellent.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Monday Meanderings - 7.22.2019

On getting old.

Of late, Barb and I have been discussing getting old. As in, we are. Getting old.

Age is only a number, and by and large we have ignored that ever-incrementing number, but there comes a time when the body begins to call attention to itself in ways that make us stop and assess our condition and think, "You know, I can't ____________ anymore."

Case in point. A few minutes ago Barb needed to move the stand of TV tables from one spot to another. She was struggling with them - the rack holds 4 solid wood tables, so I magnanimously stepped forward to move them for her - and discovered I could barely lift them! When did that happen?

We daily receive pointers on aging from a wide variety of sources; our alphabet of physicians and health-care experts, the AARP emails and bulletins, the exercise class leaders at the gym, a wide range of social media sources (why do I keep getting ads for Depends in my Face Book feed?), and even from our financial consultant and part-time Walmart greeter ("Have you signed up for a casita at the Casa Pequeno Home for Assisted Living yet?")

And by and large, we pay attention to these pointers. We try to eat healthy. Queso and chips is a food group, right? And we exercise. Those trips from the recliner to the bathroom really add up. We eschew habits that are bad for you, so we can check off a lot of the boxes and feel (somewhat) good about it.

But Barb pointed out that socializing is always high on the list of check-offs. That without putting forth effort to interact with others - and Alexa doesn't count - one tends to become like Boo Radley, locked away in the haunted house.

In fact, she pointed out, apart from our family, the people we currently have the most interaction with are our favorite wait-staff at the various restaurants we frequent.


Well, we have been talking about getting back into a Care Group at church. We know one that attracts old folks like us. And they meet at the Casa Pequeno Home for Assisted Living. We can check out the apartments while we are there.

Just kidding about the Casa Pequeno Home for Assisted Living part. But maybe they would be willing to move.