Friday, June 13, 2008

When It's Hot, It Can Get Hotter ... If Murphy's Around

R&R -- Resolution and Recovery

"When it rains, it pours," or as I tend to think in my case, "When it's hot, it can get hotter" is much more apropos. I don't mean just the temperature. I mean the accumulation of various pressures taxing my usual optimistic outlook on life. Perhaps I could best describe the effects if I stated Murphy's Law is prevailing –

"Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong."

I am in the midst of R&R – "Resolution and Recovery" from a litany of trials which diabolically contribute to altering my mind's balance from its normal warped state toward one closer to insanity. Some lucky souls miraculously skim over life's edges never having the thrill of experiencing such similar adverse challenges. Others are burdened with much more adversity than what I'll describe here. "Everything is relative," as the saying goes.

Even now in my anguished state (and I am taking some dramatic license with that language,) I am reminded of how as a young adult, friends and I used a then common coping response to support each other through some of life's complications. We transformed even the most trivial life events we naively perceived as disastrous, from tragedy into humor -- matters we long ago learned to laugh about – and some were, truly, laughing matters compared to problems we encountered later in life.

We honed an underlying foundation of empathy for each other's adversities, that tempered one particular not-so subtle message we delivered, about life's ironies. That communiqué was expressed by shaping our hand into a specific position, then sometimes uttering a prescribed few sentences. We each understood this symbolic code meant we cared.

Sooner or later each of us required support for incurred woes, since life was simply exacting the usual price for our being. The individual describing their disruptive life-assaulting hard luck incidents, would soon see silent listeners make a fist with their thumb extended upward, bending forward at the first knuckle. The bent thumb would be rotating in a circle above the index finger -- moving round and round and round, much like yesteryear's broken record (or, CD today.) The intimation was obvious that the story's underlying message we were hearing was quite repetitious, like "a broken record." Eventually, the hard-luck storyteller and each of us would be smiling or even laughing at the ridiculousness of life.

Some tales of woe, such as I will now relate here, or for even more complicated havoc-causing matters, the listeners ceased to be silent as their thumb rotated. They responded to the storyteller's tragic tale, with mocking words in a tone of irony, sarcasm, and with underlying sympathy:

"I've been around the world many times, been subjected to listening to accounts of every hard luck experience known to humankind, but truly your story is the saddest I've ever heard."

The rotating thumb vision firmly visualized in my mind's eye, those words ringing in my ears, I begin my tale.

I have been inundated with all sorts of unexpected repair needs beginning with my car, which has likely been unintentionally victimized in my own driveway by a youthful skateboarder or bike rider losing their balance. They broke their fall with outthrust hands leaving two huge indentations on my car's fender.

Subsequently, a leaky washing machine and squealing dryer have successively followed each other in vying for my attention. Then the outdoor security light has begun requiring entirely too much personal manual adjustment. A pre-existing unresolved complex matter associated with a non-baking oven has been a continuing concern. Fortunately, I haven't often needed its use, thanks to stovetop cooking, a microwave oven, and restaurants.

Finally, the car has been repaired, but there's more. I have been able to resolve some pesky personal medical issues with positive outcome, after juggling some transportation complications only families of one experience. Along the way, I finally concluded the time had arrived to establish an appliance replacement hierarchy list.

No sooner had I read some reference data on my needed appliances, and I had begun venturing out to stores, when suddenly the weekend arrived. I didn't sleep well that Friday night as the room seemed warmer than I liked, but the thermostat showed the air was cooling, though slowly, and the blower was blowing. I realize now in my groggy half-asleep state, my raised arm's reaching hand, sampling the expelling air from the register near the ceiling, had failed to accurately discern the air's specific degree of coolness.

Saturday morning the house felt cool and comfortable, but by the afternoon, the indoor "resident baking hours" typically beginning around 4 p.m., revealed there was serious reason to believe the air conditioner was not working properly. Despite cleaning the air filter earlier, re-adjusting the thermostat, checking the circuit breakers, listening for the outdoor AC unit's motor to rev up, but hearing only silence, I recognized the equipment simply was not working. I was no longer deceived by air movement alone, since the blower inside quietly, lightly kept pushing what was clearly increasingly warm room temperature air through its registers. I felt miserably uncomfortable, hotter than hot, since ambient air outdoors was well into the triple digits.

A phone call to the AC installer reached only an answering machine. I knew then, that late Saturday afternoon, there would be no more service calls, that the weekend for me would be long and hot -- much hotter than I recall southwestern desert days from time in Arizona, Nevada, and various Southern California locales, or those miserable high humidity days and nights in the east at much lower temperatures. Our weather prognostication was for record-breaking high temperatures well over one hundred degrees through the weekend and continuing the first part of the following week. The predictions were correct.

The evening air outside cooled, but most of the breezes stayed there. Disappointingly, I discovered I was unable to open more than one or two windows, probably stuck since the house exterior had been painted. Trying to pry them open with a screwdriver, I soon discerned, was a project best pursued in daylight hours, so as not to damage the two-year-old paint job. I recalled the heat-filled years of my life before AC, even before evaporative or swamp cooling. I was younger then, but clearly, this adult had readily acclimated to this AC creature comfort.

For some reason my mind was suddenly filled with a mental picture of my joining polar bears at the zoo joyfully playing in a pool filled with big blocks of ice. Visualizing that wet cooling image I wish I could say my mind prevailed over matter. Actually, my reality was under complete control of the lonely blower that was now forcing the accumulating downward flowing unbearable attic heat to streak through each room from one room register to another, racing endlessly.

The next day, Sunday, I needed no convincing to leave my house during those late afternoon/early evening baking hours, I had erroneously voluntarily endured the previous day. Assuming I would even have been alert enough, quite debatable, I was in no mood to shop for any new appliances either. Why not phone a good friend with whom I was long overdue to visit and confess my situation? No one else could empathize on quite the same level given our history, share the ironic laughs in appreciation of the ridiculous impositions of life.

I admit I was jealous when the answered cell phone disclosed the occupants were on their way up the coast, testing their new air conditioned car by driving to a family meet at The Strawberry Festival. I soon, thereafter, took respite in the cooling of my own car as I drove to a more pleasant air conditioned environment where I could comfortably sit, read from an unlimited selection of new volumes, and eventually enjoy a hot latte of Seattle's Best.

Upon returning home later at night, I was delighted to discover stored in the garage two fans I hadn't recalled having earlier. I soon had the table fan ready to blow and the floor pedestal fan assembled in about thirty-five minutes. These long unused fans actually worked and had quiet motors. I survived the night with their welcomed circulation of the limited much cooler air that managed to penetrate the house.

Monday, I adjusted my work schedule to assure being home for the AC miracle repair worker. He arrived on schedule, his short red hair signifying a good omen to this graying redhead. What a disappointment when, two hours later, he had exerted his utmost skills, but had not been able to conjure a permanent AC fix so the unit could safely be used. His home office said three days later would be the earliest another AC trouble-shooter would be available to assess the problem in greater depth, despite my pleas. The days were still hot, but thankfully beginning to cool slightly. The next repairman arrived on schedule, discerning a rather serious rusting condition existed in an AC housing unit above the indoor furnace. He was confident this would necessitate simply a coil replacement, though hardly an inexpensive item with labor added.

I was less than happy when his home office told him a week or so would pass, due to their prior commitments, before my coil repair could be undertaken, again despite my cajoling. I was somewhat relieved when future weather reports predicted continued cooling, but there was uncertainty about the possibility of another hot spell soon after.

The following day, the gods and goddesses of kindness smiled on me and my service call was catapulted to the top of the repairman's list. I later learned the AC team had shown up at a customer's location with truck, equipment and manpower for a scheduled AC installation and were told the customer had suddenly changed their mind, no longer wanted AC. (Because it cooled off, I wondered?) I couldn't help thinking about how the lack of common consideration impacts the lives of others, but in this instance I benefited. As promised, my AC people had called me, since this last minute cancellation enabled them to repair my AC unit first thing the next day.

By this time, our area weather had not only started to cool, but the day the AC wonder men arrived at my home, the outdoor air was cold, wet, filled with falling rain. Notably absent was any sign of the sun or its warmth. I needed indoor heat, but could not turn it on since the furnace unit had to be left off through the duration of the AC repair. Six hours later, with the AC successfully tested and functioning, followed by my being able to turn on the furnace's heat, I was able to begin to thaw my frozen body.

I think now how acclimated this older woman has become from the younger one who knew years of winter days and nights living in below zero temperatures. The younger me would likely have guffawed at older me, saying words to the effect, "This isn't cold -- simply a welcome warm winter day. You've forgotten what cold is."

I had no sooner thawed than, suddenly, another new trial was added to the mix – resolve one issue, add a new one seemed to be the pattern. An exposed section of a backyard sprinkler system pipe was noticed to be providing a slight water spout effect into the air. Examination revealed a fragile rusting pipe's external horizontal surface above ground crumbling to the touch at intervals with breaks allowing fountain-like water leakage.

The pipe had to be replaced post haste ..... before the upward spouting water expanded to once-famous Dancing Waters proportions .....
(the multiple water streams manipulated with varying colored lights and synchronized "dancing" heights, sometimes accompanied by music. Cash paying customers viewed this visual and auditory sensory pleasing experience promoted as a "cultural" attraction in special tent shows at 1950's county and state fairs.)

Several days later even this water leak problem is corrected with a new pipe, but not without the old one first providing its share of resistance at each of several various connection ends, frustrating another helpful repairman.

Guess it's past time to get back to researching facts and figures on some new appliances. At least I now have a choice of hot or cold air for comfort in my own home. Morning's "June gloom" (when the sun doesn't emerge until around noon – I love it) is reported to be giving way to another heat wave coming. At least my backyard is absent the water leak.

Presently resolution of this indoor appliance rebellion takes precedence over all else, beginning with that leaky washing machine. The dryer has suspiciously stopped squealing – waiting to do -- what? Could anything else go wrong? I wonder how old the dishwasher is? Maybe part time work for me isn't enough after all!

I hear the refrain now – "I've been around the world many times...but truly yours is the saddest story I've ever heard."

(Post script: In true Murphy's Law form, when this post published it somehow appeared twice. Efforts to erase one copy were prevented when my computer mysteriously lost Internet connection. Ah, the irony of it all! But, finally nine hours later, the issue is resolved-- I think. What's next?)


  1. Oh my goodness, What a bad time you have had. When the AC goes out it is almost unbearable.

    We experienced a similar situation last summer during a long hot, dry spell. Our bedrooms are upstairs in the townhouse and when the inside temp upstairs got up to 99 we relented and I slept on the den sofa and hubby slept on the sofa bed in the basement den. After about 3 days they had the new AC for the upstairs up and running.

    I hope your trials are over for now so you can rest,cool and relax.

  2. Yours truly is the saddest story I've ever heard. Save one. Let me tell you about...

    Seriously, I could have written that for you. We have had almost identical situations. Unfortunately we had to have the upstairs heat pump replaced ($4000) and we're keeping fingers crossed that the downstairs unit will hold together through another year. That replacement will be $8000. Then there was the dishwasher, the disposer, every light bulb in the house blowing at the same time, both cars needing major work, both of us with some big medical bills, Roomie's hysterectomy, ... Wanna hear more? Oh, then there's the little matter of a new roof for about $15000 hanging over our heads...

  3. Chancy: I thought my story would elict similar tales of woe from others, as none of us seem to be immune from these "fun" experiences. Surely does make us appreciate when everything works as we desire.

    Winston: You've outdone me -- I'm reminded of the old joke-telling radio show, "Can You Top This?" Only, what we're experiencing is no joke. We put the new roof on the house, had the exterior painted enough years ago I figured I couldn't include them on my list.
    "I've been around the world...and truly your story is the saddest I've ever heard." I laugh to keep from crying as the saying goes.

  4. You've heard the expression, "things happen in threes" but your trials and tribulations call for a new expression - "woe is me, woe is me, woe is me."

    I've had lots of things happen to me at one time but this takes the cake!!!

    By this time sounds like you have repaired or replaced everything.

    Wishing you a peaceful summer!

  5. Joared, that some bad juju, Bwana.

    I know Muddy Waters did it first and did it best, but I love this YouTube of Bobby Darin singing "I Got a Mojo Workin'"


    You need some dried chickens' feet or sumpin, gal. Try a bottle tree in the backyard...traps all the bad spirits you know.

    And while you're at it, maybe light some candles, etc...

    For real, I hope your future holds some nicer unexpected treats!

  6. First of heart goes out to you Joared. I don't know why it happens like it does; but when it rains....IT DOES POUR! So many of us can certainly commiserate with what you are going through. I know I can raise my hand to be added to the list. Does anyone remember my woes about the pipe in my wall bursting a couple of Xmas's ago flooding my living room...while at the same time one burst in my office flooding that room and leaking down into the storage room of the basement? That was the time when I ran around and around the coffee table at warp speed in attempt to undo Superman. I've had to replace all new furnace pipes, had two freezers repaired and two dryers repaired, had several plumbing repairs, had roof and ceiling repairs, wall repairs, car repairs, a room repaired and painted and a lighting fixture replaced. I think the ONLY things I haven't had to far....are the air conditioners; but hey, it's only June. I haven't even gotten to the medical crap. Big hugs to you sweetie....

  7. Millie: Think you're right about the "threes" expression.

    Actually, am still resolving some issues. Have finally deferred to replacing the old oven since the mfg. long ago ceased to be. Space dimensions may necessitate cabinetry work and one thing leads to another. Would love to have it done, but not sure I can live through the mess.

    Pattie: Thanks for the Darin link -- I like it! I like it! Especially with the vibes.

    Dried chickens' feet, bottle tree, candles(with my luck I'd set the house or trees on fire) -- I'll try anything. What's a bottle tree? I have a bottle brush tree in the front yard that attracts bees and hummingbirds.

    I'm thinkin' the next full moon I'll dance nekid in the backyard at midnight -- just have to figure out what add'l music to use with that Mojo tune.

    Joy: I remember well your water breaking story -- all through the house, not a creature was stirring -- oops, that's another story -- well, it was Xmas and I confuse easily -- I remember picturing you had water water everywhere and wondering if you had a drop to drink.

    You better be sweet talkin' that AC; cuttin' out that wild raucous night life for your health's sake to cut down those medical costs.

    I'm thinkin' I should follow your example racing round my two small rectangular sofa tables, maybe leaping over one to the next and then back again -- if I only had a cape.

  8. Ugh - that is how it works, isn't it? Last year, I replaced my 23 year old washer and dryer and at the same time put down floor tiles in the laundry room and spruced it up a bit. Three days after that work was done - my furnace AND air conditioner went out. Needless to say, last July was a gush of cash out the door - but oh the new appliances work so well and the laundry room is great. I sure was feeling pinched and frazzled by it all last year.

    It does pass - sending you hugs.

  9. Well, it seems that the old saying is true! It doesn't pour but it rains! :(
    Hope everything gets settled pretty soon.