Hobee’s is a NorCal breakfast institution. There are other good breakfast places around, but Hobee’s has the double threat of also having good lunches, and that’s before you get into their yummy coffee cake.
Hobee’s was founded in Mountain View in 1974 in a former Dairy Belle burger joint. And it turns out the first location is in walking distance of my house! I started going there when I moved to Mountain View in 2001, but before that I’d been to the Palo Alto and the now-defunct Cupertino locations. Hobee’s emphasized meals made from natural and often California-sourced ingredients, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t have a deep fryer.
In 2015 the original owners sold the chain to a pair of employees. For some chains this might have been the beginning of the end, but it seemed to breathe new life into the Mountain View location: New lights, new physical menus, and some nice changes to the menu contents, my favorite being the addition of buttermilk pancakes, as I’d never been a fan of the whole wheat ones. Late in the pandemic they set up tents and outdoor seating in the parking lot and they were the first restaurant we started going to regularly once we got vaccinated.
Sadly, all good things come to an end, and we learned a little over a week ago that yesterday would be the end for Hobee’s Mountain View. They wanted to make some upgrades to their space, but the landlords were unwilling to do what they wanted. The mall they’re in is old, decrepit, and half empty, so none of this really surprised me. (I’m more surprised that there’s a new massage parlor in it, as it seems the end is not far off. Then again, the Sunnyvale mall for my comics store used to be seemed to be in that state a decade ago, and it’s still shambling along. I guess there’s just enough demand for these aging and presumably low-rent retail spaces.)
We made two trips to the place last week, for breakfast on Monday (when the coffee cake was especially good), and for lunch on Wednesday. I took some indoor photos, but as they have people in them, I’m not going to share them here. They’ll make for some nice memories, though.
Hopefully they’ll be able to find a new space in Mountain View, though it’s very unlikely it will be as convenient to us as their old one was. Meanwhile, I guess we’ll be driving to the Palo Alto location in the future. And boy has it been a long time since I’ve been there.
Halloween seemed a little quieter this year. I didn’t write about last year (though I did write about the season in Boston a week earlier), but I thought that things were basically back to pre-pandemic levels for trick-or-treaters. Our street is pretty nuts when it comes to the flocks of kids, and even in 2020 we got about 50 kids, before the COVID vaccines were available.
We set up our usual little Halloween light display earlier in October. Walking around the neighborhood there were a lot fewer houses with lights up than in past years. I’m sure people were more motivated to put the effort in during lockdown, but really there were very few this year.
We usually buy at least 4 big bags of candy from Target or Costco each year, and this year Debbi bought a couple more than that. Then we set up our large folding table in the driveway to hand out candy. This way people aren’t constantly coming to the door, which is important because it would be constant at the peak of the evening, and neither the cats nor the dog get freaked out. (Domino spent the evening in the guest room, where I think he was mostly bored. The cats took turns looking out the front window.)
One of our neighbors came to sit with us to hand out his own candy, and a few other neighbors set up in their driveways, and sometimes we’d wander among each other to say hi.
The first couple of young kids came by between 5 and 6, and the numbers gradually ramped up until about 7:15 when it remained a pretty steady stream until 9 pm. In past years there would usually be one or two waves where there would be a crowd almost as far as the eye could see, but this year I think we maybe ended up with 10 or 12 people at once as its peak. We let people pick their own two pieces of candy off the table, which was funny because some kids would think very seriously about it, and some would pointedly take the not-chocolate ones. And then there was a girl who just said, “Whoppers are awesome!”
In the end we guess we had about 300 people pick up candy, and it turns out we overbought by maybe a third of that, so we have a bunch left over. New neighbors never believe us when we say how many people come through our street, so almost everyone else runs out before the night is over. But by 9:15 everyone’s just about done. We suspect that our street gets a lot of people because it ends at a major road and one of the houses on that corner puts up a huge Halloween display which attracts people from out of the neighborhood. Plus we have two elementary schools and a middle school nearby. But even just the next block over they get maybe half as many kids as we do.
Inflatable costumes seemed popular this year, including someone in an 8-foot-tall Garfield outfit. And while last year Wednesday Addams was the popular character (we saw a couple last night too), this year it was Spider-Man, presumably because of Across the Spider-Verse having been out over the summer.
We wound down with a late dinner and a little playtime for the dog. By bedtime there was no one walking the street that we could see. And this morning decorations were already coming down.
I’ll wrap up with one of the neighborhood houses which does put on a big display. It’s a little freaky to walk past it before 8 in the morning and have a spider jump out at you:
More like a month and a half of maintenance, to be frank.
Since we got back from Massachusetts in mid-July, I’ve spent sizable chunks of my weekends doing home maintenance and improvement.
The big thing we did was to buy a new dishwasher. Debbi never cared for our old GE dishwasher, and while I thought it was okay, I admit it was loud. And it didn’t always do the best job of cleaning things. Maybe it wasn’t so okay. But the forcing factor was that it started leaking: We’d occasionally find a bunch of water at the bottom of the machine, or worse, on the kitchen floor. And our cat sitter got to clean up a spill while we were away. So it was time. We replaced it with a Bosch SHP865ZP5N from Airport Home Appliance, which is where we bought our refrigerator two years ago. We’re pretty happy with the no-nonsense experience we’ve gotten there, as well as the ease of delivery and installation.
Installation did come with one little hiccup: The valve for the water at the wall was stuck and had to be replaced, which was not cheap. A little annoying since they basically had us as a captive audience for the installation. They said these valves break all the time because they’re all pretty cheap these days. Someone on Facebook suggested we should test them all every year, but it’s not like I want to replace them myself, or hire someone to come out and replace any ones which stick. Still, this valve lasted about 15 years, which doesn’t seem too bad.
Most of my other work has been in the yard. Our yard is pretty nice, but it’s about 15% larger than I have the time and energy to care for, so projects have built up over time. Consequently, I’ve spent a few hours each weekend cutting back the jasmine, trimming the rosemary, and pulling up tree seedlings and blackberry vines. The plum tree has suddenly decided to produce a whole bunch of plums this year, which caused many of its branches to start leaning to one side, so I gave it a good pruning, too. The plums are not great, and there was way more than we could eat even if they were great, so I’ve been raking them up occasionally, but they’re pretty messy. I’m also getting ready to start trimming back the fig tree which has been slowly growing over our fence since we moved in.
I also cleared out a space and bought six cubic feet of dirt to start a dirt pile for Domino to dig in. I probably need to buy another six-to-ten cubic feet to make it really satisfying, but it’s a start.
Then last weekend I give our bathrooms a good deep cleaning, mopped the floors, and scrubbed the floor of the master shower, which it really needed. So they’re just about as clean as they’ve been since we moved in. I also want to mop the kitchen floor.
Then I took my car in for its annual maintenance, where it needed its serpentine belt changed. It also has a leak which is likely around the seals for the convertible top (some might remember that I have a Volkswagen Eos), and is going to be expensive to fix. So I decided to defer that until we get closer to the rainy season.
Car ownership seems like it’s gotten a lot more expensive in the past decade! Or maybe it’s just the difference between Hondas and VWs.
We’re also coming out of a long stretch of warm weather, after a stretch of what seemed like cooler-than-normal weather. Globally, July was the hottest month on record. Here in my hometown:
In May, we had highs in the high 60s (°F) in the first third of the month, highs between 70 and 85 in the second third, and in the low 70s in the last third.
In June highs were in the 70s almost every day until a spike at the end of the month – which I was back east. These are what I recall were typical summer temperatures when I first moved here.
I was gone for the first third of July, but highs were consistently in the 80s for the rest of the month.
And August was more of the same, with several spikes in the low 90s, and a few days with highs in the high 70s. And the overnight lows were stubbornly above 60 for about half of the month. It was also unusually humid, with dew points in the low 60s a number of times, which is nothing for places where it gets genuinely yucky, but it’s unusually moist for here.
So July and August were both hot. Yard work on some of those days was no fun, I’ll tell you. And our electric bill was not much fun either, thanks to the air conditioner. (Someday we’ll put in solar panels!)
Out of curiosity I checked June-to-August for my first 2 years here, and my recollections match the data: Highs mostly in the 70s, with a few spikes along the way (though the data for 2000 looks untrustworthy).
We’ve also been having some challenges with Domino, in particular that he hasn’t wanted to sleep in his crate at night, panting and whining when we put him in there. We suspect he had some unpleasant event in there – maybe even just a bad dream – but it’s meant that Debbi has been sleeping with him in our guest room until we can figure it out. They’re going to see the vet soon to see if there’s anything physically wrong, though he’s been about the same in all other ways. Hopefully he’s okay, but it’s been frustrating.
Speaking of frustrating, I’ve also been dealing with both (self-diagnosed) plantar fasciitis and achilles tendinitis in my right foot. It’s been gradually getting better – the new running sneakers I bought have helped a lot – but not as fast as I’d like. I should probably look into some exercises to help with them, too. (Also: For some reason New Balance running sneakers run smaller than their walking sneakers. Shrug.)
So that’s been my summer, not counting work, since I rarely blog about that. I have spent most of the past week at work working on improving some long-neglected but still-useful code I’d been thinking about for a while. It’s been fun.
Hopefully we can continue to dodge COVID until we can get new boosters this fall, and otherwise enjoy some cooler weather this month, starting with this long weekend.
It’s been a rough time around here at Château Whatever-We-Call-Our-House lately.
For me, the rough part actually started exactly two weeks ago, when I woke up to what turned out to be a pinched nerve in my right clavicle, with accompanying soreness there and down my left arm. Coincidentally this was just over 14 years since I had a pinched nerve in my neck on the right side with very similar symptoms. The difference is that last time I found a way to hold my head which could relieve the pressure temporarily, while this time I found one somewhat awkward position (holding my left arm up and bending it to touch the back of my neck) which provided a little relief, but not a lot. And it wasn’t conducive to, well, being able to do anything else. It was also worse when I was seated while driving. It was bad enough that it was disrupting my sleep.
Coincidentally I had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Friday, where my doctor – who I’ve had for 20 years – prescribed the same thing he’d given me last time – methylprednisolone, a cortical steroid. I started the treatment on Saturday and slowly felt better over the next few days.
I also learned that I am probably developing tinnitis, which stands to be somewhat annoying, although my brain already seems to be rewiring itself to ignore it pretty effectively. It’s also been coming and going, so who knows. It beats the alternative, which apparently is that hearing sounds can be associated with cardiovascular problems. No, thanks.
Should I be feeling old now? Honestly I feel rather lucky: I could be dealing with much worse. I am so over this nerve pinch, though.
The next thing arrived on Tuesday, when a rain storm followed by an incredible wind storm knocked out power at home, and at work, and in large swaths of the South Bay. It also knocked over two sections of our fence. This has happened before, about 8 years ago, and we’ve had a number of posts replaced since then since the original builder did a poor job of putting them in cement. But it seems there’s yet more to do.
The power was projected to be out until Friday night. We picked up dinner both nights, and went to bed early. The animals were very confused. Debbi’s office had power, so she went to work on Wednesday while I walked to have breakfast at Hobee’s, and then cut back the jasmine on the fallen sections of fence so the repair guy could examine it.
A downed fence is not very compatible with a dog who spends a lot of time outdoors. Domino was actually really good about not going into the neighbor’s yard, though he was curious. (His yard is also fenced in, but not necessarily dog-proof.) So I took his 30-foot leash and attached it to our outdoor couch, which did a pretty good job to keeping him from wandering.
We charged our phones and watches from our laptops – since we weren’t really using them anyway. My comic shop guy even let me charge the laptops at his store when I went over on Wednesday.
Happily, the power came back on Thursday morning, a day and a half ahead of schedule, and I was able to go back to work, too. But we did throw away a lot of refrigerated and a little frozen food. (Our chest freezer in the garage did a good job of keeping everything solid, though.) I made a grocery store run to replace most of the food we’d tossed.
Friday the fence guy came by to give us an estimate, but also the bad news that they were scheduling out in May already. Boo! He said they were so busy they might start working Saturdays and might be able to fit us in that way. So this weekend we went to Home Despot and bought some temporary fencing. I mowed the lawn for the first time this year and then put it up. Domino was a little baffled but didn’t really test it. Debbi also bought a cable with a corkscrew anchor to attach him more firmly.
Finally, today while I was out for a post-lunch walk, the fence guy called Debbi and said they had an opening today. By the time I got back they were already setting up. So I grabbed some shears and cut away the rest of the jasmine blocking one of the posts they had to replace, and by the end of the afternoon our fence was back!
Amidst all this I’ve also been working on pulling together taxes, paying bills, and trying to have a little fun here and there as well.
My nerve is not entirely better, but it’s not significantly affecting my sleep (just annoying it a little). Hopefully it will clear up over the next month or so, and that it will be more than 14 years before I get another one.
Anyway, I think I’m ready to sleep for a week or two.
Debbi and I are both off work this week for the holidays. We haven’t really been feeling in the holiday spirit this year: It took us three weeks to put up most of our outdoor Christmas lights (in part because it rained two consecutive weekends), and we decided not to put up a tree. I’m not entirely sure why, but December has been a real slog for us.
I think the enduring memory of this holiday is going to be taking Domino to the park, which Debbi has been doing for a few weeks, and I started joining them in the afternoons the Friday before Christmas. We have a surprising number of dogs in the neighborhood, and many of their owners bring them over in the morning or late afternoon to let them off leash so they can run around. The park is completely fenced in (it’s a locked-gate school field during the school day), so it’s pretty safe for trained dogs to get off leash.
Training Domino to coexist for our three cats has been a big source of stress for us this year, and while he’s getting better, he and Jackson have some sort of antagonism going on, which has meant we’ve had to work to keep them segregated a lot of the time. He’s doing better with Simon and Edison, but not so we can leave them alone together.
The park is different. While he can be barky towards trucks, bikes, and joggers, at the park he goes around and says hi to every dog and human, and plays nice with pretty much everyone unless they’re a jerk to him. He enjoys chasing and being chased by other dogs, and while he sometimes wanders off a bit – sometimes even behind a building – he’s always come back so far. Debbi thinks he suddenly realizes he can’t see us and comes sprinting back.
Anyway, I’ve been enjoying these outings. We’re getting to know some neighbors – even if we only know them by their dogs’ names. I am still definitely more of a cat person, though.
Christmas Eve we went to Cascal for dinner, and then drove around looking at Christmas lights as we do every year. I noticed my car was struggling a bit to start at each place we stopped, and figured the battery might be nearing the end, and resolved to call on Monday to get it replaced.
We had a quiet Christmas Day. Debbi made very yummy cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and I made my traditional meatloaf and potatoes gratin for dinner. Last year I had a pretty stressful time making the meal, so this year I looked ahead to plan. Debbi suggested I could prepare the potatoes and hold them until I was ready to put them in the oven with the meatloaf, and it turned out that just starting the potatoes first made all the difference, because they had to boil for a while before baking, and I used that time to make the meatloaf. Anyway, it was all delicious as always, and I added the beet salad that I concocted for Thanksgiving dinner. We also called our families during the day.
Monday I made an appointment for my car for Wednesday, but it turned out my car didn’t start, so I figured I’d have to have AAA tow it in. Worse, late in the day we encountered a serious problem with our freezer: It had been having trouble closing at times, and now was both not opening all the way, nor closing all the way. I finally managed to close it after 15 minutes of tinkering, but we removed the important stuff to our chest freezer in the garage and decided to just leave the troubled freezer closed until it could be looked at.
Monday night Debbi ended up with what we think was food poisoning, maybe from one of the chicken pot pies we’d had for dinner after rescuing it from the freezer. It made her pretty miserable for a couple of days. We took COVID tests in case it was that, but they both came back negative.
On Tuesday Debbi made an appointment with a repair company for Friday – the fridge is still under manufacturer’s warranty, so we crossed our fingers that this would just be an inconvenience. Meanwhile I called AAA to tow my car, but the tow truck driver saw that I had a AAA-installed battery (from 2018) and that it would be a lot cheaper to do that than to go to the dealer. And indeed after a couple of phone calls (by him and me), we determined that it would be less than half as much, so I did that, and 30 minutes later the car was starting again. I cancelled the appointment for Wednesday.
Thursday we had our friends Chad and his son D over in the afternoon and evening for several hours of playing Magic together. Their family has also had a month, so I think they appreciated some downtime away from home. I gave D a playmat and some packs from The Brothers’ War as a late Christmas gift. We also picked up pizzas and subs for dinner from our nearby hole-in-the-wall place, which went over well. They were also Domino’s foster family and I think Domino really liked seeing them, even though I think he was confused that they were at our house and their dogs weren’t.
Friday we waited around for the repair guy, who arrived 3 hours into his 4 hour window. Fortunately it turned out to be an easy fix. The freezer had a number of cables inside which were getting twisted and blocking the track. I wondered why they’d have cables like that rather than just having the drawer be on the track, and it turns out – they didn’t. The cables were there to keep things from shifting around during transit, and they weren’t removed when the fridge was delivered like they were supposed to be. I don’t know why we were able to open the freezer at all, but the repair guy removed them all and it’s working fine now. The stupidity of the problem aside, it’s a relief that it wasn’t a problem with the freezer that could break again in another year.
Over the week I also watched the Watchmen TV series from 2019, which overall was excellent. I suspect people who aren’t pretty familiar with the graphic novel wouldn’t get as much out of it as people who are, but it’s well worth watching anyway. I’m not surprised the show runner decided not to do a second series, because it comes to a pretty definitive conclusion.
Finally, we’ve had a quiet day today. Domino has been going a bit stir crazy because it’s raining out and he doesn’t want to be out in the rain, but he doesn’t want to be inside all the time either. Debbi took him for a couple of walks, and then gave him a bath. I’ve mostly been hanging out on the couch. Tonight we’re playing games remotely with family and friends (probably Jackbox), and I’ll likely go for a walk after the rain ends since I haven’t gotten any exercise today.
2022 has been a pretty bumpy year, with a lot of ups and downs, and I suspect 2023 will be similar. But I’m hoping we don’t have to get as many things repaired.
The last four days have been a whirlwind of adulting. It’s been kinda exhausting.
Friday we had someone from AAA Furnace over to service our HVAC. Everything seems to be in good shape. I hung out to do anything needed inside (mostly adjusting the thermostat while he did his tests), partly because COVID, and partly because kittens.
Saturday was the big day, though.
After working out in the morning we went to Airport Appliance to buy a new refrigerator (per previous entries). We decided to go with this French door model by Beko, a Turkish company which is apparently huge in Europe and has been in the U.S. for about five years. It’s devilishly hard to find out how reliable fridges are – even if you find that one has been great, it was probably made 5 or more years ago, been discontinued, and who knows if the current models are as good. Internet reviews are generally useless, partly because a lot of them are just complaining, and partly because a review from someone who’s had their fridge for 6 months or less isn’t that helpful for reliability.
We had an additional wrinkle in that the space for our fridge is only 70″ tall, and many fridges are a bit taller than that. It turns out we actually have more space if we remove or trim the bracket immediately above the fridge, but we’d already made a decision when I realized that. Good to know for next time.
Anyway, we’re replacing a 13-year-old GE fridge, and not many companies make counter-depth fridges fridges that are 69″ high. GE makes several, but I’ve heard bad things about their newer models, and frankly we were not very impressed with the apparent build quality or the styling of those models. Whereas the Beko seemed generally more solid and we really liked the look of it.
We did buy the extended warranty, which means it should work for at least that long, right? Right??
Afterwards we had lunch at Yiassoo (a longtime favorite which has substantially improved their patio seating during the pandemic), and then came home and took Jackson and Sadie to the vet for their annual checkup. This was the first time Sadie rode in a carrier by herself, since we’d always brought her with Roulette. And she yowled the whole way there and back. Jackson was also unhappy, and even peed in the carrier on the way home. But, both of them are healthy and that’s what matters.
(Simon and Edison seemed to barely notice that we were all gone.)
After all that I went down to pick up some books I’d ordered from Books Inc., and did a grocery run.
In the evening I managed to find COVID vaccinations for Monday, about which more later.
Sunday was finally a quieter day. We went to the farmer’s market in the morning, and in the afternoon I wrapped up our taxes, which will be filed this week. I also did a Magic draft which I am playing out this week before Strixhaven comes out, and the first game was totally bonkers, lasting well over half an hour. (I won with 6 cards left in my deck!)
This morning we found that our fridge has gone out again, so we moved stuff into our chest freezer (which has plenty of space even with the stuff we’ve already put in it) and mini-fridge (which is pretty packed now). The new fridge will be delivered on Thursday, and what a relief that will be.
And finally today we went to Levi’s Stadium to get vaccinated. Despite having a little trouble finding the entrance, everything otherwise was smooth and easy. It took about an hour and a half including driving time. We joined House Pfizer, and six hours later neither of us has had any reactions, though apparently they could show up tomorrow. It’s great to finally be on our way! We rewarded ourselves with treats from McDonald’s on the way home. And I’ve been telling cow-orkers about our experience so they have some idea what to expect when signing up.
And today there was the police shooting of Daunte Wright in Minneapolis. I’m sure smarter and more informed people than me (probably none of them Republicans) will have a lot useful to say about this, but one thought I have is that if we’re not going to take guns away from the cops, let’s take tasers away from them. Tasers aren’t particularly safe either, and cops mistaking their tasers for guns is bad news. If all they have to fire is a gun, then at least they know what they’re signing up for when they draw their weapon.
In any event, there’s nothing I’ve read that says to me that Wright’s actions even merited tasing. What the hell was the cop thinking? Were they even thinking?
So, that’s been a lot of stuff, even just considering our stuff. I’m looking forward to the fridge being delivered, and dealing with much less stuff for a couple of weeks.
This week’s unwanted excitement is that our freezer crapped out again. Worse, it did so on Monday, which was the last day of a 4-day weekend I’d taken off from work. So instead of a relaxing day reading and watching television, it was instead a day of stress and anxiety.
Last time we unloaded the freezer into a cooler and that night it started working again. This time we didn’t do that, and by Tuesday afternoon both the refrigerator and freezer were up around 54Â°F – not good for either one. We lost all of the food in the freezer except for a few things that we’d just been storing for long term, like some Girl Scout thin mints. There wasn’t anything in there that was a big loss – it’s all easily replaced – but it was a bummer.
But we did put some backup plans in motion. First we went to Home Despot and bought a mini-fridge, so that we can have, you know, cream for our morning coffee. And also butter. And eggs. Essentials. We also ordered a chest freezer, which is a bit less of an extravagance since we’ve been thinking for a while of getting one, as we always feel like we need more freezer space. Whether we need this much more freezer space, I don’t know, but it is just about the smallest model. It should be fine. Load it up with ice cream!
Of course, after we emptied the freezer of the spoiled food, the thing started working again. It lasted a couple of months after the last incident, and I suspect each time the problem was blocked air flow, possibly some vent getting iced over. So it might be fine for a few more months or longer. But, the fridge is about 13 years old and that’s near the lifespan of such appliances, so we’re going to replace it.
Figuring out what to replace it with, and from where, is the next trick. All of our kitchen appliances are GE, probably because our builder bought a package when he furnished the kitchen. But GE fridges don’t seem very reliable these days from what I’ve read (and from comments from friends). A few other brands also get low marks by word-of-mouth. So we’re leaning towards Whirlpool, Maytag, or maybe Frigidaire. A friend also said they had a good experience with Fisher Paykel, about which I know nothing. Debbi is intrigued by this Whirlpool model. But mainly we know we need a counter-depth model, and we’d like a french door design with a bottom freezer. That cuts out a lot of the options, so we’ll get what we get. And hopefully get another year out of it.
(How soon we get it is yet another question, as apparently there are some long delays in appliance delivery due to disruptions in the global supply chains.)
I’m kind of kicking myself for not having moved on this two months ago, but, it’s water under the bridge at this point.
So, it’s been kind of a lousy week because of all this. The fridge and the oven are the two appliances we really can’t do without during a global pandemic. But hopefully we’ll have it worked out soon.
Our house is now 11 years old (we’ve been in it for 8), which means – of course – that it’s time for little things to start failing.
Well, there’s a big thing which has been failing too, that being our lawn. But that one gets a bit of a pass since it got hammered pretty hard by California’s drought several years ago. I’ve been doing my best to keep it going and fix it up, but I’m about at the point of declaring bankruptcy on that and having someone in to re-sod it. The advantage to re-sodding is that maybe that will smooth out the very bumpy soil of the back yard. (Our soil is clay-like which is pretty annoying in several ways.) I wonder when the best time of year to do that work would be? Before the rainy season, which starts in a couple of months? Or after?
A slightly smaller thing is that we need to have several windows repaired. Some of them appear to have compromised seals, which the window cleaner last year told us is why they’re dirty between the two panes. But we also have a window which no longer opens, and another in which the outer pane broke mysteriously a few years ago (I suspect a bird flew into it or dropped something against it). Some of that might be covered by warranty, assuming the builder’s warranty transferred to us.
We also have a couple of faucets which have issues, and I suspect the issue is in the wall for both of them. One of them is the hot water for one bathtub (but not shower), so it’s not urgent; the other is the cold water for one of the sinks in the master bathroom, so it’s a little more important. We had a plumber in a few years ago for a different issue and he didn’t want to look at the sinks, so I suspect it will be a bigger job. (Or maybe he just wasn’t a very good plumber, or not rated to do that kind of work.)
More recently, we had a couple of light fixtures go out. One is one of the three pendant lights which hangs over our island. Of course the one over “my” spot at the island. Another is an under-counter light next to the stove. I might be able to fix the first one myself, but probably we’ll get an electrician to handle both.
The other outage is more amusing: The electrical outlets in the living room stopped working one evening. Not a huge deal because the overhead recessed lighting worked fine, but certainly annoying. We spent some time checking the three breaker panels around the house (upstairs, downstairs, outside) and flipping breakers, but nothing had been tripped, and no flipping fixed the issue. (We did find out that we need to evaluate and re-label some of the circuit breakers, though.) I was dreading having an electrician in for that and having it turn into a big thing. But a few days later I did some vacuuming and then plugged the hand vacuum into the one outlet in the laundry room to recharge – and its charging light didn’t come on! “Hmmm”, I said, and remembered that that outlet is one with a GFCI (since it’s near a utility sink), so I pressed its reset button, the charging light came on on the vacuum, and I checked the living room lights and they worked!
It is a little weird that the living room outlets are on the same circuit as the laundry room outlet, but to be fair there are no other outlets in the other small spaces around the laundry room, so putting it on a circuit with a larger room makes some sense. We’ll just have to remember that. It’s a relief to have it fixed.
I also did exciting things like changed a light bulb and fixed a latch on the sliding screen doors to our deck. I need to figure out why one of our drip sprinklers seems to be mostly-clogged, and replace an accent light in the back yard. And then see about getting our Internet service upgraded (which I’ve been dragging my feet on all year, on a probably-misplaced fear that they’ll do the upgrade and it will stop working for several days). And we want to get our bar stools reupholstered, as the faux-leather covering is flaking away faster and faster.
And fall means yard work. I’ve been trimming the jasmine on the back yard fences, and cutting back the bushes in front between our house and a neighbor’s. And fall also means endless raking until probably New Year’s as the sycamore tree over the front yard gradually drops thousands of leaves, mostly on our lawn.
My dad visited last week so some of this stuff has on hold for that and other reasons, but it should give us some stuff to do for the fall. Like we need things to do!
Saturday we held our eighth annual open house – eighth even though we skipped the seventh, as we didn’t get our act together last summer with everything we had going on. Last week in additional to prepping we were watching the weather hoping it would cool off by Saturday from the highs in the mid-80s, and it did cool down some, with highs in the low 80s. Still, better than our 2013 open house when it was well up in the 90s, which made us close the doors and turn on the A/C! (And a good thing we didn’t hold it in late June like we usually do, since our home weather station claims it got up over 100° around then!)
So we closed the cats in the guest bedroom, bought and made food and drinks, scattered balls and bubble wands around the porch and back yard, and opened the doors around 2 pm.
In the last two years I’ve acquired several new cow-orkers, and Debbi got a new job this spring at EPRI, so we had a lot of new people to invite – and lots of them showed up! A few of our regulars weren’t able to make it – lots of people are busy in mid-August with weddings, vacations and family events – so it was a different mix of people, but with all the new people it might have been our largest party since the first one. We both gave a bunch of tours of the house to people who hadn’t been over before (we’re more than a little proud of our house, I’ll admit), and tried to spend at least a few minutes with everyone who came in.
I was glad to see that the kids had a good time playing in the yard, as we had a different mix of kids than usual, including a lot of first-timers. I think the only mishap (that I heard of, anyway) was that I went to clean bubble fluid off the face and hair of one girl, but that’s not so bad.
We learned that our friend Emma – who I met through Madison fandom in the 90s and who had moved to California before I did – had worked at EPRI as her first job out here, and knew a couple of Debbi’s cow-orkers who came to the party. Maybe I’d known that at some point, but she’d moved to another job by the time I came out here, so maybe not.
I was happy to have my previous admin, Cyndie – who retired last year – and my current admin, Debra, came to the party. And that my cow-orker Anders and his teenaged daughter came, as they have a very busy schedule and this year’s party happened to fall on a day they had some time available. Also, my cow-orker Jake, who started earlier this year, came with his wife, and gave us a (I think) pen-and-watercolor drawing she’d done of our house, which looks awesome!
Things wrapped up around 8 pm, and our friends Lisa and Michel and their kids hung out for a little longer and helped us clean up a bit (such as taking down the canopy they loaned us). Once they left we vegged out for a bit, and called it a night.
Sunday we alternated between cleaning up and lying on the couch, but mainly being really happy with how the party turned out. I hope everyone who came had as much fun as we did!
As I mentioned last time, while we were on vacation in Florida our cat sitter wrote that our dishwasher was leaking. Specifically, the bottom of the machine was filled with water and was leaking onto the floor. This was right after the first of two big storms that hit home while we were away, so of course I worried that something had gone wrong with the dishwasher (bad), with the water supply to it (bad), or with the backflow valve on our house’s line to the sewer (worse). Still, despite my worrying about the worst case, apparently it was just water on the floor, and not any of the other wonderful stuff you would expect if you had a sewer back flow.
Our sitter, wonderful person that she is, brought over some super-absorbent pads to put under the front of the washer, and also turned off the hot water to the washer and to the sink, just to be safe.
For the rest of our trip, now news was good news; despite another storm hitting the house, we heard nothing more about the problem from her. That seemed like further evidence that it wasn’t a sewer backflow problem. We have not been thrilled with our dishwasher (a General Electric model which came with the house) as it doesn’t do a wonderful job of cleaning dishes, and we’ll probably replace it before too long. (Of the appliances our builder installed, it’s the only one we haven’t been happy with.)
So, we got back last Monday night and inspected the washer before going to bed: It was clean and dry. The next day I turned the water back on, and we kept an eye on it for the rest of the week, and nothing happened. So we planned to run the washer this weekend when it was reasonably full.
Late this afternoon Debbi noticed that the washer was filled with water on the bottom, and on the edge of leaking out. Very mysterious, since we hadn’t had any rain at all! My theory at this point was that there was some blockage in the side of the sink that the washer drained to and when we ran the water on that side of the sink it was draining to the washer instead. But I couldn’t see anything in the drain. So, after a short debate we decided to run the dishwasher as planned.
Two things happened: First, the dishwasher immediately started venting water into the sink drain as expected. Second, two of the front lights were flashing as it did so, which is not normal operation. Debbi checked the user’s manual, but didn’t find out what it meant. So I decided to stop the washer, wait a moment, and then start it again. This time it started normally, no flashing lights, ran to completion, and did not leak.
So my best guess is that the washer somehow got into some weird state while we were away, so that the drain from the washer to the sink was open, and thus the sink was partly draining into the washer rather than vice-versa. Maybe we bumped something before we left, somehow. Maybe our sitter was making sure everything was working and somehow triggered something with the washer by accident. Who knows.
But as of now, anyway, it seems to have been a transient fault which has been fixed.
Which is good, because I hate dealing with plumbing problems.