Mystery solved!

Olive sitting at the kitchen counter.

Weird things have been going on lately. It’s stressing me out. First the dishwasher quit working, next it was the garbage disposal.

Then the power went out and I wrote about my mishaps with the garage door HERE.

Then I mistakenly threw out a Costco gift card we received for having solar installed. I had a stack of junk mail to recycle — and the Costco letter — which I hadn’t opened yet got mixed in.

The next day, it occurred to me that the Costco letter was in the recycling bin. But of course it was recycling day and the bin was empty! Costco was great about replacing the gift card, although I lost a night’s sleep fretting about it.

We hired a serviceman to fix the dishwasher. He had tools to diagnose it and said several motors were out and it would cost $1,000 to repair it.

I looked at the paperwork from the prior homeowners and it was installed in 2014. We decided to buy a new dishwasher. It arrived but it was broken. I’m waiting for the new dishwasher to come in.

In the meantime, I called the garbage disposal company and over the phone they had me unplug and plug things in the outlet under the sink. They told me it was an electrical problem, not an appliance issue.

Duh! My synapsis snapped and I realized the dishwasher and the garbage disposal are plugged in the same outlet. They would both start and then suddenly stop after a minute.

The electricians came yesterday morning. They called their boss when they couldn’t figure out what was wrong. After consulting they figured it out.

“The neutral wire was tied into a 220v circuit, so technician untied it, resolving the issue and converting the circuit back to a 120v circuit.”

The electricians

The solar people upgraded our electrical panel three weeks ago and they made a mistake. My problems with the dishwasher and garbage disposal happened at that time. I didn’t make the connection. Instead, I thought everything was breaking down at once. At least the solar company is picking up the bill for the electricians.

We were driving back from Costco after a spending spree with our gift card when a rock hit our windshield. I made an appointment with Safelight to have the one inch crack filled. The next day, the crack was 10 inches across. That means a new windshield.

Notice most of our problems are caused by going solar?

Stuff happens. And we don’t have our solar approved by the power company and city yet.

What weird things have you experienced lately? Or is it just me?

Dilemma from a dream

Olive cat
Olive giving me that look before she jumps in my lap.

I had a weird dream last night. It was short, but got me thinking.

In my dream I was at Costco. I was standing up front where they have electronics. I watched as a young woman in her 20s, got a display camera unattached and put it under her arm and walked towards the exit.

I pointed at her and yelled to a nearby employee “She’s taking a camera.”

The employee ran after her.

Another employee came up to me and told me to mind my own business. “She’s not hurting you or anybody else,” he scolded me.

“Yes, she is. It’s wrong to steal and it makes everything cost more for us,” I answered.

“Costco can afford it. Besides they have insurance for theft.”

Then I woke up.

I wondered about it.The dream me did what I feel is right. Would the awake and out of bed me do the same if I was standing in a store watching someone shoplift?

My son’s first job in San Francisco was with a retailer he worked part time for during his college days. He got robbed and was instructed to let the shoplifters take the clothing. This was one of those stories where my husband told my son, “Don’t tell mom. She doesn’t need to know.” There’s been a few of them and guess what? Mom (me) always finds out.

What would you do if you witnessed a robbery or shoplifting? Would you report it, let it go, or get involved another way?

What’s annoying…

hiking in the preserve
McDowell Sonoran Preserve

I like living in Arizona. I really do. I like being across the street from 130 miles of hiking trails that will never be developed. I also like the wildlife — bobcats, mule deer, coyotes, hawks, owls and coyotes.

But what annoys me are the grocery stores. It’s 30 minutes to drive to Trader Joe’s or Costco, which we make a special trip to do. There are four grocery stores much closer. But I have to stop at two to three of them to get my shopping done.

The one that is closest is very small. It’s not a national chain, but a family-owned local store.They never carry what I need. But they do have the only kitty litter Olive the cat will use — Johnny Cat. It’s the only one of the four stores near us that carries it. They also are the only store that carries Brown Cow yogurt. (If you haven’t tried Brown Cow, please give it a try. It’s amazing.)

So I start my shopping there for cat litter and yogurt. Next I go to a major chain to get mostly everything else. Specialty items I go to the upscale store down the street from the chain store.

I don’t mind driving, but I do mind going in and out of stores for what should be one-stop shopping. I never had this problem in Palm Springs. Maybe it’s still a supply chain issue?

Are you able to do your shopping in one stop? Or do you have to go to several stores to complete your list?

Don’t try this at home!

Healthy saguaro in the Sonoran Desert
A saguaro across the street in the nature’s preserve. It’s well over 100 years old.

Saturday was errand day. My husband and I drove to Tempe — 45 minutes away — to pick up a bookshelf for my son’s birthday present at IKEA. It’s out of stock in California, but he found it here. Our plan was to pick it up and ship it — after the one that I shipped last week was damaged en route. I’ll keep my fingers crossed on this one.

After IKEA, we spotted Dick’s Sporting Goods across the parking lot. We stopped in for a few plates of weights. At Dick’s, the clerk mentioned that their cameras had picked up the murder suspect’s vehicle during their getaway.

“Murder suspect?” I asked.

“Yes, didn’t you hear? We had a shooting in the IKEA parking lot a few days ago.”

No I hadn’t heard, and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I googled it and it was a drug deal in the middle of the day gone bad. Yes, in the IKEA parking lot. The shooters were 17 and 18 years old!

Not the story I cared to hear about on a sunny Saturday standing right where it happened.

During the time we left the house, to the time we left Dick’s and headed to our final stop at Costco, my phone rang every two minutes. It was nonstop and I was going nuts. I was already stressed by the crazy drivers on the freeway and learning about teen murderers. I didn’t need my phone blowing up with “Spam Risk” and random lending companies.

I was exasperated and asked my husband “Why do you think my phone won’t stop ringing? What’s going on?” I finally realized I could turn the darn thing off.

“Uh, I was um looking online this morning and I saw some sites about interest rates,” he confessed. “It asked me to fill out a little information and they’d tell me where the interest rates are now. I just wanted to know.”

“And you entered my phone number???!!!”

“No, I put in mine,” he said.

“Funny! It’s my phone ringing.”

It’s now days later and my phone still rings, although it’s not constant. I asked some of the companies to take us off the list — that we aren’t interested. That doesn’t stop them.

My son said the same thing happened to him. He was looking to buy a car and there were some sites that offered to find the best deals. He made the fatal mistake of entering his name and phone number. His phone immediately blew up with car dealers from throughout California.

Don’t try this at home! Unless you enjoy your phone ringing every two minutes. If you want information on cars, interest rates or whatever, take the time to contact the businesses yourself.

Have you ever filled out an online form and gotten a million phone calls? What was it for? How did you get them to stop? What would you do if your spouse entered your info on a random website?

Living on appetizers

Charcuterie platters made by my son

I’m glad I found this photo from Christmas pre COVID, December 2019 to be exact. My son is a master at creating delicious and gorgeous charcuteries. (It only took my two years to pronounce that word). I will study how he put it together and try to make something similar.

Saturday we’re hosting his girlfriend’s sisters and one has offered to play viola for us. She suggested we could invite some friends. I immediately thought of our fellow California refugees who live a mile away. I then invited two couples I met working on the HOA newsletter.

I counted my RSVPs and my original thought of four to six people has turned into 16. My husband keeps asking me what we’re going to serve. I keep telling him charcuterie, veggies, chips, dips, shrimp platter, several hot appetizers.

“What about meatballs?”

“Okay. Meatballs, too.”

We went to Costco a week ago and they once again had samples after two years of not allowing them. Yay! We tried a number of different bites, and bought a couple for our upcoming party.

Here’s the stitch. My husband wants something with puff pastry. He doesn’t want me to cook. I had gotten some ideas from my Santa Barbara friend, who caters parties and makes her spanakopita and other delicious bites — using her own puff pastry. She gave me several ideas where I could buy puff pastry already made and cut it into rectangles or triangles, bake it, and fill it with savory or sweet fillings.

My husband said no. I know he’s trying to save me from wearing myself out and putting too much time and effort into this. He suggested it would be easier for me to pop things ready made into the oven and put them in a chaffing dish or platter and let it go.

For the past three or four days, we’ve been living on appetizers. Everything looks good on the box, but I wanted to know how quickly they cook and how they taste. By the way, Kroger’s makes a delicious spanakopita. Costco has really good spring rolls — and you can order a shrimp platter from them, too. We tried meatballs in the crockpot but didn’t like the sauce I found on Allrecipes. There are some things that I really like but don’t think will work for a party, like my favorite soup dumplings with pho.

Last night I was scouting for more appetizers and I swear my car took over and stopped at Burger King on the way home from the grocery store. I ended up with two Whoppers for dinner.

Any suggestions for easy appetizers? What are your favorite finger foods? Do you have a delicious sauce for meatballs in the crock pot?

Here’s the link to Alexandra Simpson’s website who will be playing viola for us. Her website has her bio and videos of her playing. She’s visiting Arizona to play with Kygo, who I never heard of before her upcoming visit. Have you heard of Kygo?

The road to Christmas

view from Santa Barbara during rain storm
Waiting for the kids to arrive during a California storm.

We arrived at our Christmas destination amidst a rain and wind storm. I’m so thankful that our day of driving was the day before the storm. We spent the night with friends close to our airbnb. I had anxiously awaited our kids and my son’s girlfriend’s family who drove from the Bay Area as all of California was engulfed in rain, wind and flooding

In the meantime, my husband and I trekked to Costco about 15 miles away from the airbnb. I’m a nervous nelly on freeways and with the rain, visibility was zero to three feet. I white knuckled it as a passenger and thought, “I’m only doing this for my kids.”

Once at Costco, we got drenched walking from the parking lot into the store — trying to cram both of us under one small umbrella. On the way home on the 101, the rain got even heavier if that’s possible. We watched in horror as the car in front of us tapped his brakes, spun out, then headlights moved towards us in our lane. Then he stopped, thankfully, made a U-turn across the three lanes and made his exit.

I was literally shaking. My husband slowed down and we crawled at 40 mph towards our exit, only to get a google warning on maps that there was a wreck right before our exit. We got off the 101 and took surface streets and safely, thankfully, arrived at the airbnb.

Our kids’ drives should have been five and a half hours, but turned into eight. The entire 101 freeway was closed due to flooding and boulders in the highway somewhere around San Luis Obsipo.

We stayed up waiting for them all to arrive. I knew I couldn’t sleep until everyone was accounted for. I gave big hugs to each carload that arrived. My daughter’s car arrived first, and finally my son’s last. Everyone was safely tucked into their beds. I finally got a good night’s sleep. This morning the sun is shining and we’re ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Merry Christmas! Stay safe and enjoy your time with your loved ones.

Christmas Eve view from Santa Barbara. Blue skies.
This morning on Christmas Eve, the sun came out.

Talk about penny wise…

This is a post where I throw my husband under the bus. He wasn’t “pound foolish,” but rather flat out plain foolish. I know I wrote that I wasn’t going to complain about my husband ever again in this post, but that was so last week.

sunrise in the Sonoran desert reflected in swimming pool
Our first sunrise back at home.

We drove eight hours from Santa Barbara to our Arizona home on Saturday. The car hadn’t been driving as smoothly as it normally does. Anytime we got close to 80 mph it shook. It’s never done that before. But we managed to keep it in the 70s and we had an amazing drive home without hitting traffic.

Now for the penny wise part. After we unloaded the car, I noticed the right rear tire had gone flat. I had taken the car into the dealership twice — once for servicing last month and for a recall days before our trip. I was told both times that we needed to replace the two back tires. The first time I was told this, I called my husband. I didn’t trust the dealership because one, I’m a woman, and two, some dealerships try to upsell you. The being a woman thing in my experience is that I don’t know enough about cars and mechanics and dealerships can take advantage of that.

So I relied on my husband. He said the tires were fine. He didn’t want to spend the money — the penny wise part.

We were too tired to deal with the tire after our eight-hour drive on Saturday. We called Triple A Sunday morning to change the tire. The spare tire turned out to be a little skinny thing I call “the donut tire.” Triple A came three and a half hours later. My husband said when he saw the back tire, he was shocked. It was down to metal without tread! That was on the inside of the tire where he didn’t check it — obviously — when he told me we didn’t need new tires.

We called Costco and other tire stores and NOBODY had our tires. They said it was a supply chain issue. Service at the dealership was closed.

Last night, I noticed the donut tire and left rear tire were both losing air. I called the dealership this morning at 7 a.m. and the service person said they didn’t have the tires either! I called back and asked to order tires and the guy in the parts said they DID have the tires.

I told my husband I’d follow him to the dealership. He pumped up the donut tire and put in “fix a flat” and pumped up the left rear tire with a bicycle pump!

I prayed as I followed him for 25 minutes to the dealership, watching the tires get lower as he drove.

I was shaking when we finally made it. I am so thankful we didn’t have a blow out during our eight-hour drive home from California. It could have happened anytime — on the freeway through Los Angeles — or in the desert in 110 plus heat without any cell service. We could have been stuck anywhere along the way with NO tires for days. As annoying and inconvenient as the past two days were, we are safe and it could have been a whole lot worse.

green desert views after monsoons
It must have rained while we were gone. The desert is so lush and green. Even the hillsides are green.

Have you or a family member ever been penny wise and pound foolish? In what ways? Would you do things differently if you had a chance? Have you had any experience with car dealerships or mechanics taking advantage of your lack of car knowledge?