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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ice Man Cometh

One item I absolutely love on our Winnebago Journey is the Ice Maker in the Norcold refrigerator.  I am an ice junkie, I can't get enough of it.  I usually fill my cup with ice all the way to the top and then add the drink.  Ergo, I like a little Diet Coke with my ice.

The ice maker is a wonderful device.  Of course, when I pick up the Journey from the storage lot, it takes about a day before it makes ice, then it really makes ice.  The refrigerator has to running on electric and the temperature in the freezer has to be below 32 degrees (F) before it will work.  It doesn't produce ice when running on propane.


For a while now, the ice maker has been off its game.  It still produces great amounts of ice cubes, but it started giving out a little unwanted bonus, an ice stalagmite (up side down icicle?).

The ice maker developed a leak and when the tray would refill after dumping the newly made cubes, it also dripped a little water from underneath the unit.  It dripped between the black plastic housing and the little gold rectangle in the below photo.


It wasn't a huge problem, but over several days, half of the ice cubes in the ice catch bucket would be frozen into a big block of ice, way too big to fit into my cup.  Darn!

I researched the issue and the ice maker was not repairable.  Further research revealed that there are only two ice makers made that all refrigerator manufacturers use.  The good news was that they are readily available at, where else?  Lowe's (and Home Depot). 

The ice maker for my Norcold was in the following picture, Lowe's had four in stock and it cost $49.


The ice maker is held in with four self tapping screws and two regular screws.  It came apart quickly.

Pulling the unit out, it had a couple of wires plugged in to it.  The wire plug is held in place with a clip.  To get to the clip, you pop the white end cover off, it pops off easily.


You can see the wire plug lock in the below picture.  Push it in with a small screwdriver to get it to release the plug and you can pull the wires out.


This is what you have with the ice maker removed.  In the right top you see the water fill pipe and below it is the wire harness. 


The original ice maker, in the below picture shows a square opening where the fill pipe comes into it.


The new unit has the fill pipe opening closed, you see the square where the material needs to be removed to fit the fill pipe.


It clips out easily with some cutting pliers, or a razor blade.


Then it is just plug in the wire harness, put back all the screws and you are good to go.


Removal and replacement took about 45 minutes.    Now I won't have any warm sodas. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Run Over By Craigslist

As part of our preparations to get ready for our full time life on the road, downsizing has been the mantra around our abode.  One item that had to go was my 2008 Honda Civic, the car I used to do my daily 330 mile commute in.



Honda makes a great car and the Civic was no exception.  It ran and ran and never let me down.  I'd head out on the highway, set the cruise control at 76 miles an hour and zip back and forth to work.  After three years, the little car had 154,000 miles on it, but still ran like a top.

Unfortunately, with that kind of mileage, the blue book value is kind of low.  I figured what-the-heck, I'd add a $1000 to the listed value.

Never having used Craigslist before, I was a little nervous about trying it.  My daughter, Heather, is a Craigslist wonder, selling all kinds of unneeded stuff on it with great results.  When I asked her how to use it, she said it's so easy, it's idiot proof.  That sounded like it was right up my alley,  I've been know to resemble an idiot from time to time.

I snapped a few pictures from different angles and then, with sweaty palms, Goggled Craigslist.  I followed the directions and after about twenty minutes, with three aborted attempts and two edits behind me, I got the car on Craigslist.  Note to self:  It helps to sell something if you put contact information with your ad (Duh!).

Within a minute, my cell phone rang.  It was a guy calling about the car, before I could tell him about the car, my phone beeped indicating another call.  Putting the first caller on hold I took the second call and just a few words in, the phone beeped again.  Another call.  Getting back to the first caller I got more calls and then the text messages started coming in.  The first caller said he'd be there in 15 minutes, the second caller said 10 minutes, the third was on his way in twenty minutes, and the phone kept on ringing and receiving texts.  It started to resemble the famous Running with the Bulls in Spain.

Some of the calls I had to laugh at, one guy texted me an offer two thousand dollars less than my asking price.  I texted back the listed price.  He kept trying, offering more increases by $500 increments.  All the time I was still was still getting calls, some were hilarious.  "I'll give you double your price if you'll hold the car for me until next month", or "Will you finance the car?"

The phone rang and rang and was still ringing when the first buyer showed up, as well as the second and the third.  They were circling the car like buzzards over a roadkill, and giving each other the stink eye.

I did the right thing, the old "First Come, First Served" model.  I sold the car to Bob, the first caller.  He coughed up the asking price in nice, crisp $100 bills.  I tried to sign the title over to him as the phone kept on ringing.  I finally shut it off so I could count the money and affix my John Hancock in the right place on the title.

As the car drove away to its new home and the other two buyers dejectedly walked to their cars, mumbling under their breath, I ran inside and quickly took my ad off of Craigslist.  I pulled out my phone and turned it back on, finding 15 missed more calls and 5 more texts.  I scrolled through the texts and had to laugh at the messages, some ridiculous, others almost pleading.  I couldn't believe, when I looked at my watch was that only a half hour had passed.

Maybe I should list our house on Craigslist, if this is the kind of results you can get, the house would be sold already!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Riders On The Storm

Yes, that song by the Doors was going through my head as Marti and I rode out Hurricane Irene in the Journey.  We pulled in to the parking lot of Marti's nursing home Friday night, fired up the Onan 8 KW generator and set in for the blow.  With the potential threat of problems and Marti being responsible for 120 residents and an equal number of staff, we thought it would be best to be close by.

Fortunately, all we experienced was some heavy rain and gusty winds.  We made periodic rounds in and around the building to ensure all was well.  We were able to keep close tabs on the storm via our rooftop satellite dome and DirecTV, as well as the Internet with our Sprint aircard and we had a gourmet meal in the crock pot.  We were really suffering.

During the heaviest winds, I brought in one of the two opposing living rooms slides on the windward side to protect the slide topper awning.  That was the extent of our difficulties.  Now it is Sunday morning, a nice light breeze is blowing and the skies are blue with nice white puffy clouds.  Later this afternoon we'll be pulling up the jacks and heading back to the storage lot, putting our escape pod away until the next trip. :c(

It is a blessing to have the Journey to use in an emergency.  Hopefully, the next time a hurricane comes through, we'll be on the road a little more inland, like Kansas!  :c)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Talking to the Vacuum Cleaner

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, aka OCD.  Yeah, I've been accused from time to time of having leanings towards that way.  But I really don't.  Really, you can ask Marti.  On second thought, don't ask Marti, just take my word for it.

It has been an interesting experience living in a house while keeping it showroom ready in case a realtor should call wanting to bring a client to see it.  I've come up with a routine of tasks I must complete before Marti and I leave the house each morning.

It starts with our leaping out of bed each morning, well maybe it's more like crawling.  Showers and then Marti dresses, grabs some breakfast and heads to work.  Since I'm not working anymore, I remain behind to get the house "Ship-Shape".

After I complete my morning personal tasks, I start with the bed, making it up.  It takes me a while, getting the comforter and the pillows to look just right.  A little to the left, no, more to the right, wait, that makes it wrinkle.  Pull it tight, get the wrinkle out, Nuts!  Now it's uneven.  Too much hanging off to one side and so on. 

About twenty minutes later, I step back to admire my handywork.  The bed looks perfect, so perfect a blind man would be glad to see it.

Then onward, going through the bathroom, wiping down the shower, the sinks, occasionally wiping a spot off the mirror, then downstairs to the kitchen.  Empty the dishwasher, reload with the breakfast dishes.  Wipe down the sink, the stove, and the counter until it shines.


Today's major task is to replace the dryer.  Yep, with a lousy sense of timing, it gave up the ghost.  Just as we're ready to estate sale our stuff as soon as the house sells, I'm having to replace things. 

 How did I find out the dryer died, you ask?  Well, after I got up and before I made the bed I came downstairs and unloaded the dryer, taking a laundry basket full of clothes back to our bedroom.  They felt a little cool, not unusual because I had put them through last night after dinner and the clothes had all night to cool off.  Grabbing a clean pair of skivvies and pulling them up, I felt that not only were they cool, they were wet!  I let out a yelp, in an octave higher than my normal voice.  I yanked them off and had to root around to find another pair in the dresser that were not wet.

Off to Lowe's, arrived to a resounding cheer from the employees who missed me because I hadn't been there in so long.  I picked out the cheapest dryer I could find.  Loaded it up in my pickup and took it home.  Of course none of my neighbors were around to give me a helping hand.  So I muscled the old dryer out and the new one in to place to prove both my manhood and that my higher sounding voice was only a temporary condition.


The dryer looks good, works good and I only have to repaint door trim in two places.  Fortunately, I still have plenty of paint and paint brushes to touch up the trim (go figure).  Good thing because my wallet is quite a bit lighter now, there is no such thing as a "cheap" appliance.

The last thing I do before I leave is to vacuum all the carpets to remove footprints and give the house that fresh look.




  Plus it gives us an idea of how interested potential buyers are by following the footprints.  If they are not too interested, the footprints stop at the door to certain rooms, if they are more interested, the footprints go all around the rooms, stop at the closets, or extend into the walk in closets.
That is a way we find to encourage ourselves that some people really are interested.


After the ding the new dryer put on my wallet, I'm hoping that we'll sell the house before anything else breaks.  I'm finding myself talking to the vacuum cleaner, it's now making noises, sounding like a cross tween a jet airplane and a coffee grinder.  I'm urging it on to keep on working, keep doing its job, please, just a little bit longer.  Good thing I'm home alone or people really would start to talk.

After all these preparations, it's really nice to get away in the Journey each weekend.  I don't make the bed, I leave dishes in the sink and I don't mind tracking in a little dirt, just because I can. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Up On The Roof (Part II), With a Little Shake, Rattle and Roll Thrown In

I have been remiss in not always answering questions asked by our blog readers, so let me start by answering a couple:

Barbara asked Marti if the picture of my sideburns didn't cause her to hesitate in marrying me.


She worked hard to catch me, sideburns, or not.  Actually, that was the style back in 1977, but Barbara, you're too young to remember back that far! :c)

Chuck asked if the campground we stayed at up in Winchester, VA is the Candy Hill Campground.  Yes it is, we like to go there once and a while for a change of pace, and it is close to a Camping World store and a Flying J where I top off the diesel fuel tank at good prices.  That was a very observant question by Chuck, but then I'd expect nothing less from a brother Coastie. :c)

Now, onward to the roof.  If you have any RV brand other than a Winnebago, you don't have to read on if you don't want to.  However, if you own a Winnie, you might want to pay attention.  
Winnebago uses a system of tucking the fiberglass roof into a channel that runs along the side of the roof and then seals it in with caulk.


A little closer look.


The caulk needs to be inspected twice a year, per Winnebago's requirement.  What happens is the caulk can dry out, crack and separate the seam that bonds the roof into the channel.  Failing to inspect the seam can lead to the fiberglass roof blowing off while driving.  It has happened to Winnebago owners that neglected (or didn't know about) this important maintenance requirement. 


  You check it by pressing all along the seam with your finger.  If the caulk has failed you'll see this condition.


To repair the failure, you have to dig out the old caulk.

 

After getting the majority of the old caulk out, I use a razor blade to get the tiny remnants out.


Once the little bits are cleaned out, I rinse the area out with a little spray of Brake Shoe Cleaner, then wipe the area dry.  You can use acetone, if you prefer.

I pass on the caulk that Winnebago uses, I know I'd be doing the seam over again in a couple years.  Instead I use this:



This is why I use this caulk:


It provides a crack proof, water resistant seal.  Plus I like using the small tubes instead of the big tubes you'd use in a caulking gun.  You can do small areas, seal the tube with its own top and use it again later.  The large tubes of caulk have no good way to seal the end in between uses and you end up wasting the remainder.

This caulk goes on white, making it easier to see your repaired area, then it drys clear.  Don't ask me how that happens, it must be magic or something.


You can smooth out the caulk with your finger, dipped in some soapy water.  Excess caulk can be wiped off with a rag dipped in the soapy water.

Now for the shake, rattle and roll.  I repaired the seam standing on a ladder.  I'm not too steady on my feet to begin with, and I'm even a little more shaky standing on a ladder 10 feet in the air.  I finished the repair, put the ladder away and then the area around my home in Northern Virgina got hit with a 5.9 earthquake!  Fortunately for me, I was standing on solid ground at the time,  can you picture me with a tube of caulk swaying around on a ladder?  Timing (and luck) are everything. :c)

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Marti's Musings: Plan C, D, and E

Thanks for all the congratulatory wishes on our 34th anniversary.  We are mightily blessed to have each other, and still like (and love!) each other after all this time.  God is good! 

We enjoyed our weekend away, in the Journey.  We headed to Winchester, VA - which is only about 15 miles from West Virginia.  It is far enough from home to feel like we are 'away' - yet close enough if I have to respond to work.  (ugh)  Our anniversary dinner was celebrated in Old Town Winchester - a quaint little town.  Paul reveled in the history of the place, me?  I just loved being with him, and walking the brick streets that were shut off to traffic.  We found a REAL Italian restaurant - Paul's fav - to enjoy dinner.  We even had enough for lunch the next day.  Gotta love 2-for-1 meals!  :-)  We stopped by a little bakery/booth/kiosk on the street, and purchased some homemade mini pies, a whoopee pie, and some fudge.  Unfortunately they sound better than they tasted.  :-(  Most of it ended up in the trash.

Today we had another showing of our house - first one all week.  And right on the tails of another recommendation from the realtor to drop the price again! You can imagine our disappointment (we sure can sympathise with Bill and Nancy!), frustration, anger, disbelief...  well, you get the picture. 

So, for several days we have been coming up with alternate plans, beside just Plan B.  Which, by the way, is dimming in interest.  My job is becoming increasingly stressful (you know how it goes - finances up, and things settle down; finances down, and things start heating up again) - frankly, it is getting o.l.d. - and that's not referring to my age!  LOL  At some point, the decision has to be focused on quality of life, and forget about planning down to the penny.  You know the saying:  Man plans, God laughs.  Well, that may not be biblical, but pretty darn close.  He obviously has different plans than we do.  How often do we find ourselves in that spot in life?  OK, perhaps we are slow learners....

So, we have talked, and talked and talked about alternatives to Plan A and Plan B.  Do we rent?  That would change things on the road for us.  Do we drop the price?  That, too, would change our on-the-road plan.  Do we hold tight?  That means continuing in the ever stressful job - and you know what stress can do to a person. 

Today's call was timely, in that we had been discouraged that no one called to show the house all week long.  We had heard that the market picks up in September...  so, we are hoping and praying that today's showing will result in at least an offer.  The first offer, mind you!  *sigh*

Patience was never my strong suit.  We have much to be thankful for - our beautiful family, each other, our health and  many other blessings too numerous to mention.  So, we - for now- will wait for something to break or an indication of which direction to head.

Knowing we have blog supporters pulling for us sure help us during this limbo time.  Knowing God is in control keeps us going.  And Paul's humor keeps me sane.

Thanks for stopping by - and welcome to our newest followers!  (I would recognize you by name, but my laptop isn't showing that information- and hasn't for sometime) I occasionally will see the total number, so I see it is growing! 



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Thirty Four

Here's an interesting question:  Why does this man look so relieved?



Answer:  Thirty four years ago today he walked his lovely daughter down the aisle,

 

and with his blessing, he gave her to me, so I could take over the payments!  ;c)

Thirty four years ago I did, in one of my rare moments of brilliance, the smartest thing I've ever done.  I married Marti, my best friend.  I could not have done better.


 
After the wedding and reception was over, we headed out on our honeymoon to, where else?  Disney World!


All these wonderful years later, we still love Disney World, and each other. :c)


Here's to the next thirty four, may they be just as much fun!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

While Marti is away on a business trip to the exciting destination of Omaha, Nebraska (!?), I found myself with a lot of free time on my hands.  Not wanting to sit around the house and wait to lasso a buyer or two, I decided I'd do something productive.

In the process of our getting the house ready for sale, I got rid of the several drain pans I used to change the oil on the Journey, now I have just one.  It's not big enough to hold all 19 quarts of oil in the Journey's Cat 350 diesel engine.

So in a moment of brilliance (believe me, they're not too common) I decided to make a short overnight road trip, stay at a Flying J, then head over and have the oil changed at a nearby Speedco Truck Center, then back to Flying J to fill up on diesel and propane before heading home.

I had a nice, slow trip down Interstate 95 with thousands of commuters at speeds rivaling a tortoise, but I didn't care, I'm retired now and have all the time in the world.  Still got aggravated at the backups, I see I have to work on relaxed mental attitude part.

I pulled into the Flying J, had a nice meal at their Denny's restaurant and then went back to the Journey to watch some History channel on the satellite TV.  I don't watch too much of the History channel when Marti is home, she finds it boring and her snoring makes it hard to hear the TV.

Fired up the DirecTV box and tuned in to a whole lot of nothing.  I played with the box a while, used up all my tricks and finally had to call DirecTV technical service.  I was afraid I'd get a person like "Peggy" on those credit card commercials, but no, I got some really nice lady in the far away place called Pennsylvania, and she actually spoke the King's English better than I do.  A few tests later, it was determined that our DirecTV box has bit the bullet and she would send me out a brand new one, no charge (I pay a couple of bucks extra a month for warranty service), but it would arrive in three to four business days.

Well no TV, but I still have a DVD player, so on went Dances with Wolves.  I watched half of it before I nodded off.

I got up today and looked out the window to see if the Flying J fuel pumps were busy.  If they were not busy, I'd fuel up first, then head down the street to the Speedco, if they were busy I'd do it after the oil change.  Their price on diesel fuel is very good and the propane price is even better.

There was all this yellow tape around their fuel pumps.  Sorry it's not the best picture, I forgot Photography 101- don't take pictures into the sun.


I walked out and up to a Flying J manager standing outside the store and asked what was going on.  He said they had a major power failure and the whole place was closed until they could get it fixed.  No wonder he was looking a little stressed out, I can just imagine how disappointed he was that I couldn't spend a few dollars (yeah, right!) filling up the Journey's fuel tank.

On to plan "B", get the oil changed at Speedco.  I'm a firm believer in using the filters that you buy at your engine dealer.  There can never be any question if you have (very rare)  an engine failure due to a filter problem.  I have an extended warranty on the Journey and I wouldn't want a denial of a claim over it.

I was guided into the Speedco and over a pit in the floor, where the tech would work underneath the Journey.  Driving in over that pit gave me a little pucker factor.  Good thing I wasn't scheduled for a colonoscopy today. 



I asked the tech if he would put in my Cat oil filter instead of one of their brand and he said sure.  I went into the office to get the service ticket written up with the service writer.  She asked me if I was a member of  FMCA because they give members a discount.  I am so she said it would be given me when I paid the bill.  Cool!  

Three techs jumped on the Journey and had everything completed in about 15 minutes.  I went in to the office to pay the bill and a little more fun started.  With their computer software, there is no provision to deduct the cost of a customer supplied oil filter.  Oops.  A few minutes of discussion with the cashier and then the manager resulted in having to charge me for a filter.  Then, in another rare flash of brilliance, I asked the manager if, by any chance, they had a Cat oil filter for my engine in stock.  A quick check showed they had three, so they gave me one.  I'll put it in stock for the next oil change.

I paid the bill, and then the service writer asked the cashier if he'd included my FMCA discount.  You guessed it, he didn't.  He didn't know, this is his first week on the job and I thought it was already noted on the paperwork the service writer gave the cashier.

And of course, their software isn't able to give a refund on a missed discount.  It would have been about $5 or $6 bucks, not enough to cry over, but the service writer said to remind her the next time I come in and she'll give me two discounts.  Seeing that the Journey's maintenance schedule calls for oil changes every 11,000 miles or a year, which ever comes first, we'll probably (hopefully!) be on the road fulltime and on the other side of the country, I doubt we'll take advantage of that discount.

Now I'm just chillin' in the truck parking area, comfortable with the generator running, some nice tunes on the radio and the air conditioner keeping me cool.  I'll wait 'till later and check on the Flying J to see if the electricity has been restored.  I might even overnight there again, after all, I'm retired and still have to finish the rest of Dances with Wolves.
 
Plans don't always work out the way you intended, but life is retired life is good! :c)


Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

It's A Date

A big hearty "Thank You" to all my faithful friends and readers out there in blog land over your concern about my interior plumbing.  Heeding your wise comments, I have indeed rescheduled my colonoscopy for September 21, 2011.  I now have a little over a month to quake in fear.

The doctor's office was very sympathetic to my crying about having to take the pipe flushing medication again and they provided a prescription for a different kind of medication that they promise will be easier on my stomach.

I don't know why they didn't give me that in the first place.  Maybe it was my loud wailing that convinced them to do something quick to shut me up.

The nurse that I dealt with was very kind and said that after I swallowed the medicine I could drink something else as a chaser, alcohol was not included in that...

On our house sale front, we've now had over 15 realtors show the house without a single offer.  The feedback we've received from some of them is the house is beautiful, but everyone seems to want a finished basement, which our home does not have.  We're considering dropping the price a little more, but there is no way we're going to enter into a basement finishing project, which would run around $40-50K.

It's been interesting trying to keep the house in show ready condition while living there.  Most of the showings have been on weekends so we try to stay at our nearby campground in the Journey, which is where we are now.  It's a gorgeous 76 degrees and we're sitting outside in our lounge chairs enjoying the day, hoping for another realtor to call with that one buyer we're waiting for.

This week we have had an invasion of those little black sweet ants in our kitchen (of course!).  An online search revealed that they need water, it has been very dry lately.  I went to the store and bought some of those ant baits that the ants eat and take back to their nest and die off.  They work well and usually in a couple of days, they are all but gone.  I also picked up a can of ant spray.

On Friday morning, Marti told me when she went downstairs for her cup of that foul and evil liquid called coffee that there were ants all over the place.  When I went downstairs, there were long lines of ants coming and going to the half dozen ant baits I had placed around the kitchen, which showed the baits were indeed working.  After Marti left for work, I took the ant spray and sprayed down all the lines of ants, and then headed out to take care of some errands.

Nearing lunchtime, I picked up some lunch for Marti and dropped it off at her office which is near our house.  I debated going back to the house first and giving it the usual once over for realtor showings or the campground first to set up for the weekend.  Before I reached the place on the road where I had to turn one way or the other, my cell phone rang.  It was a realtor wanting to show the house.  Great!  They'd be there in 15 minutes.  Not so great.

I flew home the couple of miles and went tearing into the house to do a quick vacuuming of the carpets, they look better with no footprints in them.  I came in through the garage and when I entered the kitchen, there were long lines of recently departed ants all over the place.  To make matters more interesting, the kitchen stunk of ant spray!

I threw open the kitchen windows, grabbed a couple of handfulls of wet paper towels and scurried around on my hands and knees wiping up all the dead ants, all the while terrified that the realtor would walk in on me.  When I finished that, I took the vacuum cleaner and ran it over the carpets to give it that fresh look. 

Now that the carpets were done, I ran back to the kitchen, and took a last look around.  It still smelled of ant spray, so I had to hustle around and find some Fabreeze.  I squirted that liberally all over the kitchen and then through the downstairs of the house.

Finishing that, I went back out through the garage, hopped in my car and backed out of the driveway just as the realtor and clients showed up.  Hopefully, these are the buyers we've been waiting for, I don't know how many more close calls like this I can take!

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Flunking Colonoscopy 101

Before we hit the road full time in our Journey, one task we wanted to get out of the way was to have head-to-toe physicals so we could head out healthy as well as happy.

I passed all my physical tests with flying colors, including an EKG, a PPT and even an ICUP.  All the blood tests came back great, all my parts are in the right places and working normal.  As the doctor looked over all the test results, he said there was just one more test needed.  I've reached the esteemed age where I qualified for...a colonoscopy.  Finally, a procedure where those open backed hospital gowns they give you to wear is the appropriate attire.

I had to go to a specialist to have a pre-test checkup, my freshly completed physical didn't count.  I filled out several forests worth of paper forms and was scheduled for my procedure.  I was given a lecture by a stern faced nurse, pointing out, upon pain of death, all the things I had to do and all the things I couldn't do.

 Stopping medications five days before, no biggy, I don't take any.  Also no foods with any red, orange or purple colors, no nuts and corn was especially verboten.  Three days out, no booze (no problem, don't use any), and drink eight to ten glasses of water a day.  As a postscript, the nurse informed me that two days before the procedure, I'd have a call from the hospital nurse to review (?) things with me.  She gave me a script for some pipe cleaning medication and told me that the day before the procedure, I had to fast, I was only allowed water and Jello, as long as it was any color but red, orange or purple.  Why she didn't say I could only have green Jello, I don't know.

In no uncertain terms, I had to be at the hospital the morning of the procedure at least one hour early.  She scared me so badly that I didn't want to find out what the penalty would be for arriving late, especially when someone was going to probe my tender, rearward nether regions.

I didn't think it would be too bad.  Then when I mentioned the procedure to some people, I found them forcing a nervous laugh, or averting their eyes from mine and then start looking for the nearest exit.  Being the trained investigator I am, I should have picked up on there was going to be more to this that meets the eye.

So our weekend with the grandsons was right in the window where I had to start limiting my intake.  Look in your refrigerator and notice how many things are red, orange or purple.  I had to be careful.  We took the boys to see the Smurf Movie.  Have you ever noticed how much candy in the candy counter is red, orange or purple?  At least the Smurfs were blue so I could watch them.



No worries, I'll just have some popcorn.  Wait, didn't the nurse say no corn?  But does it count if it's already popped?  I decided not to chance it and suffered through the movie, not because it was bad, but the munching sounds of mouthfuls of popcorn being eaten by Andrew and Owie was kinda hard to take.


Two days before the procedure, the hospital nurse called.  She said she had to ask me some questions.  I asked why, because I had just covered all my medical history with the doctor's office and was told that they had to make sure everything had been covered.  She must have been from the office of redundancy office.  She started rattling off questions like a machine gun, I had to ask her to slow down and repeat questions again and again.  The questions started off with my age, date of birth and so forth.  Then they got deeper, have you ever had high blood pressure?  Did you ever grow a third eye on your forehead, have you or any of your blood relatives had pneumosidoclorist mold between the toes?

Then she got down to the really important questions like when did you first kiss a girl and did you ever cheat on a spelling test in the third grade?  I decided there must have been a specific reason for these questions so I answered as honestly as I could, except for the first time I kissed a girl and did I cheat on a third grade spelling test...

So the day before arrived, I had picked up the medication and prepared to start my fast. I mixed up the medication powder in a cute little plastic litre sized bottle.  I stuck the liquid in the fridge to await the proper time to start drinking it.  I thought the bottle was a nice size and I decided I'd keep it after the medicine was done, because it looked so handy.

I drank some water.  I drank some more.  I was getting hungry, so I drank some more water.  After listening to my stomach growl louder than the TV, I ate some Jello, green, of course.  That took the edge off, for a little while.

A couple of hours later, several more glasses of water down, I had to start drinking the pipe cleaning medicine.   It had to be consumed, one quarter of the bottle at a time every 15 minutes until all the liquid was gone.  I noted the time on the clock and started my first drink.  It tasted like lemon flavored salt water with the thickness of Elmer's glue.  Pouring it over ice,  I got down the first portion, it was not quite as pleasant as I thought.

Watching the clock, the next 15 minutes went by, back to the medicine.  More ice, another mouthful.  This time, even pinching my nose, the salty, lemon flavor broke through.  Another swallow, the tears started flowing.  Beads of sweat started forming on my forehead.  One more swallow and it was finished.  Phew!

The clock moved too fast, I found myself willing the hands to slow down.  The clock didn't listen.  Back to glass number three.  With fresh ice and shaking hands, I got the next mouthful.  Choked it down.  Started pinching my nose so hard it began to hurt.  A couple of more little mouthfuls and I splashed fresh water all down the front of my shirt as I washed the salty, lemon flavored glue taste out of my mouth.

Panic started setting in as the clock ticked towards the last dose.  I walked back towards the kitchen counter on shaky legs, the back of my shirt soaked in sweat and took the final dose.  With my heart  racing faster than an Indy 500 Pace Car, I forced the last of the "liquid" down.  I survived.  I couldn't believe there was so much liquid in that bottle, which now looked like a 55 gallon drum.  At least I was done.  Until 4:30 AM when I had to repeat the whole process again.




I walked back to the couch and sat down.  My heart rate dropped back to normal and I started to relax as I watched the TV.  Then I noticed my stomach was starting to roll, back and forth, making some noises that I've never heard before.  Then an unbelievable urge hit and I was dashing to the bathroom faster than an Olympic sprinter.  All I can say was it felt like a volcanic eruption.



And then another volcano blew its top.  And another.  And another.  Finally after a few hours, the volcanoes quieted down some and I started to wonder how I going to sleep.  It turned out to be no problem, I stayed wide awake, fearing the next dose of medicine.

Marti came home from work and brought herself some Chinese food for dinner.  I watched her eat and began to have fantasies of what I was going to eat after the procedure.  Steak, no spaghetti, no, a baked potato with sour cream.  Maybe a grilled cheese sandwich.  Even though I was watching TV, my mind just couldn't get off food, except for the periodic volcanic eruptions.

Marti went up to bed but I wasn't tired yet.  With the marching band hoofing around in my stomach, I knew I'd not be able to drop off to sleep any time soon.  Plus, I was really hungry.  No more green Jello left, what else can I have?  Looking around, my eyes fell on a can of Planters peanuts.  I knew that I could not have nuts, but what if I just put a couple in my mouth and sucked on them for a little while and then spit them out?  I swear Mr. Peanut was beckoning to me.


In no time, I had a pile of peanuts on a napkin next to me, all naked.  I had licked the salt off of each one and savored the flavor before I spit them out.  I was getting pretty desperate, so I headed to bed and tried to sleep.  That didn't work too well, with the marching band and the volcano.

4:30 AM came way too early.  Plodded down to the kitchen and started the whole process again.  The little bottle now looked like it was a tanker truck.



I got the first portion down and set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes and laid down on the couch.  The timer sounder off in what seemed like seconds and I choked down the second portion, then 15 minutes later, downed the third.  When the timer sounded for the last time, I was able to get the last bit down, crying like a baby and gagging with each swallow until the bitter end.

With the very last swallow, there were some unmixed grains of the medicine.  They went down and I breathed a sigh of relief.  I leaned over the kitchen sink and started to relax, but then it happened.  Another eruption.  A violent eruption...from the wrong end!  I tossed my cookies, a PP (Power Puke) of all the medicine right down in the sink!  Now I was really crying, all this pain and suffering and I did it for nothing!  I think I might have brought up an organ or two, it was so bad.

A call to the doctor later in the morning confirmed my fears.  No procedure for me, I flunked Colonoscopy 101 and I would have to reschedule.  Marti now has me on suicide watch.

I should have done this years ago when I was on the 82 foot long Coast Guard cutter.  I remember being out in some storms in the North Atlantic in 30 foot seas (they are impressive) and having the you-know-what scared out of me...



As for that cute little plastic bottle, it now resides in the recycling bin,  I never want to see it again!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sometimes It Needs To Be Just Us

 Remember when you first met?  When you first started dating?  Holding hands, that first kiss?  It was all you wanted to do was just be with each other, being close and sharing the days.


Then life kicked in, in high gear.  Marriage, find a place to live, get a new job, climb the ladder of success.  Kids, cars, bills, all kinds of things to occupy your time and eat up your togetherness.  I'm not saying any of this is bad, it is just life. 

Sure it's fun to spend a weekend with the grandkids.  We found a neat little water park at Fort Jackson, SC and took the the grandsons there.  They had a ball.  So did we!  Of course,  Marti's sunburn was not so much fun, despite the heavy coating of sunblock.




The previous weekend, we attended a reunion at the house of my old boss, ADM Thad Allen.  I showed I was still able to protect him, even though I turned in my gun.


It was a great time, but the highlight was seeing my former partner, Ron and his wife Amy.  Ron and I worked many cases together and he always had my back.  Even though we talk frequently on the phone, it was good to see him in person, it's been way over a year.


There are many important people in our lives, many places you need to be and they can keep you apart from your special person.

We're happy to have those times, but we're especially looking forward to our full time life where we can be just "us".  No rushing around to get to work, no fast kiss goodbye, or talking on the phone while miles apart.  No more being so busy, that our minds are on all kinds of issues that we don't talk.

No more.

Just together.

Just next to each other.

Just like we started out.

Just us.



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