Refrigerator Drama

My debit card went whooooooosh as I swiped it to purchase a new refrigerator earlier this week!  I did not expect to need a new fridge right now as my current one is barely 8 years old.  Aren't major appliances supposed to last longer than that? 

A couple weeks ago I noticed something seemed a little off or weird when I opened my fridge but I didn't think anything of it.  Then, the next day it was obvious.  Everything was starting to smell ripe and all the ice in the freezer had melted.  The fans sounded normal and the lights were on but no more cooling or freezing was going on.

I tried the trick I did when I thought my dryer had stopped producing heat - a quick off and on flip of the circuit breaker switch was the secret - for now.  Presto - the dryer dries with heat again!

Not so much for the fridge/freezer.

Ugh.  I did some research online and talked to a few people who said yeah, it's likely the compressor that has failed.  And replacing it is about half the cost of just getting a new fridge.  So after mentally grumbling about this I made a note to cancel the repair appointment I'd scheduled.  I decided I was just going to bite the bullet and get a new fridge.  No need to pay someone $100ish to tell me I need a new fridge, right?

I tried to reason with myself and think things like hey, it's not the holidays, you're not entertaining 20 people for dinner any time soon, so being sans fridge is OK, although a huge temporary pain in the ass. And it's the equinox/start of fall this week, which is is a wonderful time for changes and new beginnings.

I did more looking around online and had a few models picked out, plus I knew what my must-haves would be: white on white and a bottom freezer drawer. 

And, I waited a bit before making my purchase.  I've been working hard to rebuild savings since getting back to work and really didn't want to shuffle too much around, nor did I want to use credit cards.  So, I made it a good week plus with no fridge and just used a small, portable cooler with ice for perishables.  I researched online to get an idea of prices and all, and...more grumbling...started throwing away food that had gone bad.  Thankfully I had not had to do this since our big storm and blackout of 2006.  Many homes around here were without power for over a week that winter, and it was likely warmer by that time in my fridge than in the rest of my townhouse.  I hate throwing away food but there was no choice then or now.

So yes, admittedly, part of my reason for waiting to purchase was for another paycheck to hit my bank account.  Once that happened I set off ready to make a deal. I knew what I wanted and how much I wanted to spend.

I was surprised at how many discounts I got at the store.  They were already offering 15% off all major appliances and would have even deeper discounts soon after, which they promised to credit back to me.  Free delivery!  Free removal of my old fridge!  A $75 credit from the state of Washington as part of an incentive to get older, less energy-efficient appliances off the grid permanently.  AND a $100 gift card from the store itself!  I will likely use it toward a smaller, backup fridge which will go down in my garage.

And what a segue...my garage.  We'll get back to that in a second.

Keep in mind that after a week or more with a no-good fridge it becomes prime for science experiments.  As in MAJOR MOLD.  When the sales associate told me I would need to write down the model and serial number of the fridge I was getting rid of for the state of Washington credit program paperwork, I about died knowing I'd have to open that fridge yet again.  So when I did that later in the evening I first opened the back slider door off my kitchen to get some fresh air, tied a bandanna I wear for hockey around my nose and mouth, held my breath, opened the fridge which now REEKS to high heaven, and jotted down the numbers.

I sure hope I won't have a toxic mold situation in the house here.  I don't plan to open that fridge ever again.

Fast forward to today and woo hoo!  The new fridge was on its way for delivery.  The two guys showed up, very nice and friendly, and I showed them where the old fridge was.  They had a plastic floor mat ready to slide the old one out and get it ready to haul away.

But then one of them asked a seemingly innocent question: is there a shut-off valve for your waterline?  [I have an icemaker in the freezer, so the unit is hooked with a copper waterline off of the water heater down in the garage - pretty typical stuff].   He pulled my old fridge away from the wall and his face fell - there was no waterline shutoff valve on the back of the fridge.

What does this mean???  His delivery partner came into my house and the two of them explained that they could not remove my old fridge because there was no water shutoff t-valve on the back of the unit.  And correcting that was something they are not authorized to do.

I stood there in my kitchen, looked at the two guys, looked at my fridge and just said FUCK.

What did it all come down to?  A fucking t-valve. Fuckety fuck fuck fuck.

And how fucking ironic that it was this SAME company's delivery people who installed this very water line those 8 years ago!  Now, due to liability they can't do that any longer, and due to code changes that work isn't even acceptable any longer!  Can you believe this, people?  I explained this to them and who knows if they understood or cared.  I know it's not their fault.  Times change and I'm pretty much a ditz with how things are supposed to be installed and set up.  They're just supposed to WORK, dammit!

And how ironic a 22 cubic foot machine that was once a fabulous refrigerator has now been reduced to a disgustingly huge mold-hosting box, all for the sake of a missing t-valve water shut-off switch.  Which is likely going to be $100+ for me to have a plumber come out and install on an already now worthless old fridge.  I've got a voicemail into the guy who's done a lot of small repair projects for me over the years so hopefully he is around and can help.

So...in the meantime we put the new fridge down in my garage, one floor down from my kitchen.  It's plugged in and nice and cool inside, but I am reluctant to re-stock it with food.  Because once I get the t-valve on the old fridge installed I will then have to have the delivery guys come back, remove my old fridge and move the new one from the garage up to the kitchen where it belongs.  So I'll have to empty out the new fridge beforehand.  Believe me, they are coming back to fix this problem for free - no question there.

OK, through all of this I do try to keep a sense of humor, but believe me, I'm frustrated.  I expected this fridge/freezer to last longer than 8 years. I take a teensy amount of comfort knowing this situation with an old-school-not-up-to-code-waterline-hookup is not unique; the guys told me they run into this very same problem every couple of weeks or so.  I also just recently had to replace my cell phone as it also died after just two years (battery wouldn't hold a charge).  I'm thankful I can afford to make these changes but am frustrated that things are not lasting as long as I thought they would.

And now I have a perfectly beautiful new fridge down in the midst of my junky garage I've procrastinated cleaning out for over a year.

Guess this is another reminder to pay attention to my garage, just like the garage door karma issue earlier this year!


Every Night, a Bit More Norwegian

Ummm, OK.  So I wrote earlier (see "Extremely North") about my bewildering love of the Arctic and my crazy-ass dream to someday take a guided tour through Spitsbergen.

And it's been a good but tiring workweek so I am at home, relaxing and felt like having popcorn for dinner.  So, I did.  Geez, normally September here in the Seattle area is a summer-like "Indian Summer" (is that even politically correct as a term nowadays??) even if our normal summer is crappy.  But nope, the fog in the morning and clouds/drizzle during the day are here in full force.  Call this summer a bust save for a few days in late July or so.  I lit my giant 3-wick candle on the hearth, I hear the rain glistening and tickling outside and look forward to a glorious, relaxing evening in.  Yep, time to recharge.  Tomorrow night it's out for dinner downtown and dressed up for a show at the Paramount Theatre, so I'm OK with slouching around tonight.

My DVD collection is rather sparse...I have 5 to be exact. Yeah, movie buffs out there you are likely shocked, but I'm really not into movies.  When I do go to one, I'll see it in the theatre and really don't feel a need to "own" it in a personal library.  I do enjoy On Demand and the occasional rental but for the most part I am an eat/drink/conversation girl when I go out (or stay in) and watching a movie isn't my top choice.

OK back on track here...my DVDs consist of:  the Jillian Michaels 30-day Shred workout, a documentary by Spike Lee called When the Levees Broke, which is an OUTSTANDING collection of film footage, interviews, heroes and blunders from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a (Brazilian) Portuguese series of language lessons, the Cosmos TV series (from PBS, narrated by the late, great genius Carl Sagan c. 1980) and, now, my Norwegian lessons.  Although let me back up - whoops - for these Norwegian lessons are just on audio CD as supplements to my textbook, not DVDs.  So, wow...I guess I only have 4 DVDs actually!  What else would I add to my sparse collection?  Hmmm, probably the Sex and the City complete TV series.  Never get tired of watching those shows...and I was late to the party as I didn't have HBO until well after the series wrapped.

So...back to the Norwegian.  I know that most Scandinavian nations have a good grasp of English as a 2nd or perhaps 3rd/4th language but I am determined, if I'm going to do this Spitsbergen trip one of these years, to learn a fair amount of Norwegian so I can hear/read what's around me and, hopefully, carry on some decent conversations.  Plus I have a pretty good ear for languages, despite not a drop of Nordic blood in me that I'm aware of.

Snakker du norsk?  (Do you speak Norwegian?)  Right now, "...jeg kan snakke litt norsk." (I can speak a little norwegian).  Maybe "miniscule" is better than a little for now.

I sit on my couch, book in hand, CD playing and repeat along with dialogues.  I always wonder how "real" a lot of these foreign language lessons really are with street cred.  Meaning, do the words/phrases sound super dippy or formal in real life?  Still, I find it valuable, along with understanding the pronounciations of consonants, vowels and letter combinations. 

My next lesson is dialogue about making breakfast together.  Og vi skal lage norsk frokost.  "We will make a Norwegian breakfast."

Anyway, I'm having fun dabbling and speaking along with the dialogues.  And breakfast sounds good - why am I so hungry after a big lunch today and popcorn for dinner?

Until next time...vi sees!


Fivenineteen is ONE!

September 14th marks my 1 year anniversary of this Blog launch!  Woweee!!  Weeeeeeeeee!!

And how fitting - and how completely, deliciously by accident - that my Blog is a Virgo.  You see, I'm a Taurus, a fellow earth sign, AND my rising (secondary) sign is Virgo.  Guess there really are no coincidences eh?  That was totally NOT part of the reason - to launch sometime in Virgo land.  It just WAS and IS and happened that way.

Yep, I love me some Virgos.  I have a lot of great friends who are Virgos and come to think of it the last guy I dated for more than 6 months or so was a Virgo...hmmm...anyway lots of good chemistry for me no matter how you slice it.

So.  I think back to mid September 2009 and how I was out of work (and had been since end of that July).  The "vacation" after wrapping up a busy work assignment was nice, for awhile, but at this point it was starting to get boring.  And annoying.

And I remember taking the plunge in here, so excited and yet so not knowing what to write.  I wrote something like...I have NO idea what's going to happen in here.  And I like that.  Yep, that's pretty much me whenever I plunge into something new.  Especially something like this Blog, where I do it for sheer joy and relaxation.  And not with any intent to reach a certain audience nor to necessarily please anyone.  I've developed a small handful of Followers along the way, and for that I am most excited and grateful!  And a few of you out there have randomly stumbled in here...if you have for the first or umpteenth time, welcome!

For what it's worth, I just go with what's on my mind and write in here.  I try to show some decency with grammar and punctuation but on the other hand there are no rules in here.  So I probably have a gaffe or two out there but I don't give a fuck really.  I do sometimes go back and tweak/edit but for the most part it's not necessary.  The words and thoughts just roll out of my brain on the first try into my fingers and here I am.

I'm just happy to still be doing this after a year of pretty consistent posting.  And I definitely plan to continue.  And continue the randomness.  I think I've got stuff in here from job searching woes to travel lust to men lust to makeup reviews, 5Ks...yeah the idea to name this blog "random crap" was out there but I'm glad I stuck with fivenineteen as that's more my personal Brand overall. 

Who knows where this will evolve, but again that's not the point of this Blog.  Whatever happens, happens.

Meanwhile, join me in a happy First Birthday Toast!  My best to all of you out there for your attention, support and good wishes.


Extremely North

I pressed my face against the airplane window in complete awe of what was below me.  And I thought, "Can't we just stop here for a bit?"

It was the summer of 1985 and I was fresh out of high school and on a plane from Seattle to Amsterdam with a group of 40 headed for a 6-week tour of eastern Europe and what is now the former Soviet Union.

We were probably 30,000+ feet above northern Canada or Greenland, for the polar flight route saves a little time (but it's still a 9-hour flight or so).  And the view below of ice, snow and pristine waters just hypnotized me.  I've always had a passion for maps, geography and looking at pictures of places around the world, but here it was RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!  OK, well, from high up in a plane but still it wasn't a photo this time!  Real life!

Was anyone living down there?  What's it like? 

Fast forward 24 years or so and I stumbled upon an article on cnn.com about Shishmaref, Alaska...a small town on a barrier island in remote Alaska - kind of near Nome - that is slowly washing away into the sea due to climate change.  The permanent sea ice is now starting to melt, so the strong storms they are used to having are now tearing away at their land. The town is at risk of losing their unique way of life, culture and language dialect should they eventually have to leave and completely relocate elsewhere.  Can you imagine? And the sheer expense of relocating a town...yikes.

So whether you believe that global climate change is something of a natural cycle in the universe (the Ice Ages are thought to be a phenomenon of our solar system passing in and out of an arm of our galaxy every 40,000 years or so - no joke), or something caused by humans - or perhaps both?  Well, SOMETHING is happening in Shishmaref.  Something severe enough to threaten hundreds of years of generations and history to just wash away into the sea. And that Something is happening in several other parts of the world.

I'm not one to get into the politics or debate over climate change.  Let's deal with the facts and DO something - if we can.  I guess stumbling upon that article last fall reawakened some interest I'd likely shelved since that flight to Amsterdam over Greenland so many years ago.

Guess I'm a budding Arctic scholar here!

I've dived (dove?) in head first, doing a ton of reading and research online and with books, learning all I can about the Arctic and the uniqueness of it.  There are so many things to learn about...the geography, the issues with climate change, issues with the indigenous peoples, languages, flora and fauna, the courage and drama to find and sail the Northwest Passage, the long-elusive sea trading route...simply endless! Even a land dispute or two [look up "Hans Island" and you'll see what I mean]!  Simply fascinating!  Who knew an uninhabited rock in a far-northern strait would be the cause of such controversy between Canada and Greenland (Denmark).

This is one of those things where I don't question WHY I have this interest.  I don't have any northern/Nordic family ancestry to my knowledge.  But this interest burns strong enough in me to where I just GO and DO. 

So my latest wild-hair trip I'm dreaming of is a trip to...Spitsbergen! Or Svaalbard, rather.  I hear the sea kayaking is incredible.  Now, now...I've learned a thing or two in all this reading I've been doing.  First of all, you need to find this place on a map. Hint:  it's the archipelago north of Norway, Sweden and Finland.

The Arctic is not just snow, ice, igloos and polar bears.  Surprisingly, as far north as Spitsbergen is, there is enough Gulf Stream activity in the ocean nearby so it is somewhat "warm" in the summer...meaning in the low 40s F (6-7c) for high temperatures.  Remember, we're talking 78 degrees north latitude, so those temps in the summer are downright balmy by comparison.  See the picture in this post?  That's the town of Longyearbyen, with a population of over 2000!

I don't know what in hell has possessed me to think about a trip like this, but at the earliest it would be in summer 2011.  Lord knows it would be an expensive, 5-figure and once in a lifetime, unforgettable trip.  My house will likely need a new roof next year and of all things my refrigerator and freezer have decided to stop working in the past couple of days.  Hmmm, how ironic, for here I'm dreaming about a COLD adventure and yet right here at home my chief source of COLD has apparently crapped out.

I'll likely have more to blog about in this quest/dream for a high Arctic excursion one of these summers.  Until then, I was supposed to go to a big party tonight but have some mild stomach problems so I'm going to take a pass.

Instead I will crack open a new book I just ordered about how to speak Norwegian.  If I'm going to do this trip some day, might as well be prepared.


Hockey Memories...and those yet to be

This is one of those extremely rare weekends where I have absolutely nothing planned.  And you know, that's actually pretty refreshing.  I pride myself on keeping busy both at work and with weekend activities, but ya gotta take time to recharge the batteries too.

So, it's Saturday and a long weekend with the Labor Day holiday upcoming on Monday.  I just got back from getting a little, ahem, personal maintenance done at my favorite spa.  A little waxing upstairs and downstairs does wonders, believe me.  I also get the (colorless but aging) peach fuzz waxed off above my eyebrows a few times a year and the skin stays very red and swollen for a couple days, enough to where I wear sunglasses inside in a store if I'm running errands.  Acting very chic and mysterious, like a celebrity who just had plastic surgery, ha ha. Other than that, I'm a blank slate the next few days.  I also have four new books about the Arctic (issues with the peoples, changing climate, tourism in Spitsbergen/Svalbard - which sounds incredibly appealing actually), but that's another post for another time.

What were we talking about here?  Oh yeah, hockey.  Hockey memories.  This is the inbetween season time both for the NHL and for us adult beer league players alike.  Is it October yet?  Lots of time to reflect meanwhile.

Some of you may know the story already on how taking up (ice) hockey was probably THE most random, spontaneous thing I've ever started doing in my adult life.  This is a girl who never did team sports in school, save for some attempts at track & field in junior high.  I was into music.  Big time.  Singing in choirs, piano, performing, touring - that was my schtick all through high school and college. 

It was 2003 and I was 36 and a svelte size 6 after peeling off about 35 lbs by walking a few miles a day, every day for a few months.  I could not believe how I'd transformed myself and felt this inner urge to DO something more to keep pushing myself physically and mentally.  A new group moved into the building I was working in at the time - a group not connected with mine but we got acquainted just being right next to eachother in the hallway.  It was through that I became friends with D and she asked me if I wanted to start an adult beginner hockey class with her and I said YES!  She'd moved here from out of state and really wanted to get into it again.

In fact, I think I was considering taking up belly dancing at about this same time, thanks to my good friend J who'd been doing it for years and just loving it.  Yep, belly dancing was actually high on the list.  But hockey swooped in and trumped it.

We had an orientation session a couple weeks before the classes started to get paperwork done, pay our fees and learn about the equipment we'd need to buy.  I remember heading to that session at one of the rinks here in the area, opening the door to the rink itself (which was solid, no windows) and getting a WHOOOSH rush of cold air and noise smack in the face!  Wow!  There was a big drills session going on and I watched in awe.  Was *I* going to be doing this eventually someday?  I couldn't believe it was even possible!  I hadn't set foot in a rink in years and the last time I was on ice skates was probably over 10 years ago with my boyfriend at the time at one of the small outdoor rinks they have for public skating during the holidays.  Come to think of it, I tripped and fell pretty hard on my front too, enough to where I swear I bounced.  Ouch.

A few days after the orientation session I came back to that rink's pro shop, equipment list in hand and credit card ready.  The girl in the shop asked me "how tall" and motioned with her palm face down, moving it up and down.  Oh my God!  She thought I needed to buy equipment for a child!  I laughed and said, no, actually this stuff is for me.  After she gave me a split second funny look (hey, don't all suburban 30-something blonde chicks randomly take up hockey? Come on!) we got down to business.

I practiced suiting up at home (sans skates) and couldn't get over how big and bulky I felt! 

For those who may not be familiar with all the padding that goes on under your hockey jersey, take a gander:
- "Jill" jock short.  Yes, guys, us ladies need protection down there too.  This is a mesh short with a hard, curved cup to cover the cooch sewn in.  There are velcro strips at the leg openings front and back where you attach your socks but we'll get to that.
- Shin pads (which also cover the knees)
- Elbow pads
- Shoulder/chest pads
- Hockey pants (these resemble bulky shorts, for the legs and butt area are heavily padded.  The pants are also very high waisted with extra padding for the kidneys in back and the abdominal area up front.  "Do these pants make my butt look huge?"  Why, yes they sure do.  This ain't about glamour, people.
- Socks.  Hockey socks are pretty much long, knit tubes.  You put them over your shin pads and attach them either to the velcro on your jock/jill short like I do, or some people use a sport garter belt with clips.  Either works.
- Gloves.  Hockey gloves are like scaled-down boxing gloves but with individual fingers.  The thumb pocket is extremely stiff to prevent your thumb from hyper-extending.  And the gloves pretty much keep your hands rigid since you are holding your stick 99.9% of the time.
- Helmet
- And of course, skates.
- A stick, a spare stick and stick tape.
- Sock tape. You put a few rings of this over your socks to keep your shin pads tight and flush against your legs.
- Gear bag to tote it all!
- Long sleeved, synthetic knit t-shirts and running tights.  Totally personal preference but for me this is essential.  I refuse to put on gear and pads over bare skin.  Plus it helps in a co-ed locker room situation...I can suit up but stay covered up.

I got good advice early on...spend money on your skates and your helmet.  Because if your skates don't fit correctly your feet will be miserable, which makes YOU miserable.  And the helmet?  Enough said. Everything else can be bought second hand or fairly cheap.

Jerseys...or "sweaters" if you use the old school term.  Because hockey was played outside wearing actual, yes, sweaters.  And the name stuck.

Over the years I've acquired quite an impressive collection of jerseys (and socks).  I can brush my fingers over them as they hang in my closet and feel the memories tingling into my fingers.

There's the red, white and black 'house' jerseys we got after finishing the beginner hockey clinic.  The league split our class into two equally-matched teams and we were on our way, joining the most novice team division about halfway through the season.  I'll NEVER forget the adrenaline rushes...hitting the ice for the first time, struggling to learn to skate, pass, shoot, stop...and I was probably walking on air the whole day before our very first "official" league game.

Now, it's all still a joy, but in a habit and lifestyle way. Seven years later, I'm still smiling.

And our first "real" team jerseys, complete with our names on the back, a team logo, numbers, the whole works.  A few tournament jerseys, including a couple from a womens tournament a few of us take part in in Vegas every January!  Charity team jerseys for the Hockey Challenge, a benefit for the local Ronald McDonald House here in Seattle.

You know, one thing that I didn't expect about taking up hockey was the time committment.  And the cuh-razy game start times we can have.  Sunday night game, face-off at 9:30 or 10pm?  At a rink a 40 minute drive away?  Yep, it's possible alright.  Games last about 90 minutes and if you include the time to drive, suit up, warm up with your team, play, change and drive home that's a few hours.  Hours well spent!

I used to get really stressed out on Sunday nights.  I'd go over work issues in my head and dread the thought of getting up in the morning and going to work.  But once hockey entered my life it punctured all of that stress right out.  Because most of our beginner clinic practices (and later my division's games) were on Sunday nights.  So my typical pre-hockey Sunday night routine totally got turned upside down and I couldn't be happier.  I'm single with no kids and I could sit on the couch by myself, watching TV or just veging out...OR I could be out on the ice with super fun people, playing a super fun game...and getting some exercise too! 

When I am out on the ice, nothing else matters.  For you really, really need to focus on the game.  Especially for someone like me where this does not come naturally.  And I get a lot of funny looks when I talk about our late start times on Sundays or even during the week, depending.  Thankfully over the years I've worked in places where you can start a tad later in the morning than is traditional.  And lots of people at this company play hockey (or other team sports) and understand the lifestyle.

This season there are changes coming up, for I've hooked up with a brand new team.  After 7 years I absolutely adore my original team, and quite a few of us have stayed on since we got started way back when.  People come and go over time but we've stayed pretty consistent.  Only now we've advanced to a level in the league where I can't really participate effectively.  Gosh, I remember how I used to skate (practices, scrimmages, league games) a good 3 or 4 nights a week.   I just don't do that anymore, and as a result my skills have plateau'd.

I was a little worried about cutting ties and moving on, as much as it was very necessary.  Could I get on board with a new team before fall season?  I know a ton of people in the league...can I just pimp myself out shamelessly and avoid having to go to a new player draft?

Lo and behold, the Hockey Gods listened.  And delivered.  There is a hockey player email distribution list at work - for purely social purposes of course.  And an email came out asking for people who would be interested in joining a brand new team...at a skill level right in my sweet spot!  SCORE!! 

We had a meet and greet skate earlier this week at one of the rinks in the area, and about 6 of us showed up.  Super fun and nice people, and I can't wait for the season to start!  And to see what our new team logo will look like.  We do know our sweaters and socks will be the blue, green and white of the Vancouver Canucks (which happens to be my favorite NHL team as apparently it is of our founder and Captain!).  Nice.

I chuckle at how awkward I felt the first few times I suited up in all that gear.  And how now it's kinetic habit to suit up and I'm fully used to how it feels and how sweaty I get as a result after a hard fought game on the ice.  Our meet and greet skate (which was during a public skate so we wore street clothes)?  Oh man...I hadn't skated sans gear in years and it felt so strange!

And boy I am glad I have a garage.  Because there's nothing worse than Hockey Funk...the inevitable stink that permeates your gear over time, no matter how much you air it out afterwards.  I've washed my gear and pads in a bathtub with liquid dishwasher soap a few times over the years.

Hmmm...maybe I DO have something planned this weekend after all.  Hockey gear suds fest!