When you know better

Years ago, at 11 PM on Thanksgiving Eve as I finished washing the prep dishes I’d used for the next day’s feast, water began to gush onto my feet.  A little investigation revealed a blocked pipe under my sink.  The water overflowed from the dishwasher because it could not drain.

The culprit was the potato peels I’d shoved down the disposal after peeling about ten pounds of potatoes.

The next day, my sink was still out of commission, which made for an inconvenient day of kitchen preparation and clean-up.  (I washed dishes in the laundry room sink feeling like a pioneer woman or like the kids who lived in a boxcar in the books I read as a kid.)

The day after Thanksgiving, I bought some Liquid Plumr and that did the trick.  The water drained from the sink and we all lived happily ever after.

Ever since then, I’ve dutifully dumped my potato peels into the trash can instead of the garbage disposal.  For some reason, though, the other night, I was peeling six potatoes and decided to push the peels into the garbage disposal, one potato’s worth of peels at a time.


So, that clogged my pipes.  I have a sink with three sections–the left, the middle (with the disposal) and the right.  Every section was filled with murky, disgusting water with bits of gunky stuff.

The next day, I bought some Liquid Plumr.  Just a small bottle because I was so confident I could solve this little problem.

It didn’t work.

The next day, I bought a big bottle of Liquid Plumr.  I still had full confidence in my chemical solution. Now I had a sink full of chemicals and gunky stuff and stagnant water.  And it still didn’t work.

The next day, the plumber came and unclogged the sink and charged me $85.00 and told me to stop using caustic chemicals and to stop putting potato peels in my disposal.

I noticed that the Liquid Plumr bottles said “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and included a 1-800 number, so I called the number and explained how not satisfied I was.  The helpful customer service lady asked me a few questions (including the UPC code and another code on each bottle and the price I paid) and said they’d refund my money.

Today, the check arrived, less than two weeks after my phone call.

I was super impressed by the customer service at the Clorox Company (the parent company).  So thanks, Clorox!  You rock!

The moral of this story:  Do not put potato peels into your garbage disposal.  Do not try to solve your subsequent clog with chemicals.  Just called the plumber.  However, if you do use chemicals and find them unsatisfying, call the company and see what happens.

You’re welcome.


When you know better

Mayday! Mayday!

#Oceanside sunset

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You might notice some changes around here.  The host server that I’ve used for nine years has closed up shop, so I had to figure out a solution.  Everything is still here–some images need to be fixed–but the blog goes on!  I started blogging twelve years ago, if you can believe that.


I keep forgetting what season it is.  The hot weather feels like summer.  For some reason, my brain thinks it’s spring.  I have some fall decor around my house but I can’t even accept the idea that next month is Thanksgiving.  It’s hard to think about pumpkin pie when you’re sweating and wearing capri pants.

I’m going to blame the spate of flies in my house on the weather.  Ever since my daughter and I returned from Washington in August, I’ve noticed more black houseflies than we’ve ever had before.  I don’t know where they are coming from but I have resorted to killing them with my bare hands when necessary.  The summer fruit flies have given way to these stupid big houseflies.  We need a good hard freeze to kill all these pests–though that will never happen here.

The kids are already in the middle of their first semesters, taking mid-terms and preparing for parent-teacher conferences.  I’m starting to dread my son’s high school graduation in May because that means he is one step closer to leaving home.  His plan at this point is to move to Texas.  (He wants to attend Texas A & M.)  I keep thinking, “Next year at this time . . . ” and then I have to change the subject in my head because I can’t even finish that thought.

Do you even fully understand how quickly May will arrive?  May will be here in approximately seventeen minutes.  May will swoop in like an owl snatching a field mouse.  May will sprint toward the finish line without looking over its shoulder.  May will be the Express Bus, the quick-rise yeast, the 15-items or less check-out lane.

I know it’s the right thing.  Kids are meant to shrug off their homes and stride into the big wide world without looking back, but oh, the space isn’t even empty yet and all I can hear is the echo of the silence in his room.

And possibly the irritating buzz of a housefly I have yet to smash.

Mayday! Mayday!

The facts, nothing but the facts and more

Not quite a sunset but it will do.

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Mom’s taxi service.

Then, in between a drop-off and a pick-up, I stopped by Target to pick up essentials:  hand soap, kitty litter, toilet paper (and more) . . . all the dumb stuff you have to spend money on to maintain a certain standard of living.

More Mom’s taxi service.

Then I dropped off my passenger and went straight to Costco, along with a thousand of my closest friends.  I have been trying to cook regularly which means you have to buy food, including packages of meat that cost $30.  I try to remind myself that even a ridiculous fast food meal for seven people costs more than $30, but there’s a frugal girl living inside who hates to spend money on meat that costs $30.  Anyway, enough about me.

(Ha ha.  That’s funny because this blog is all about me.  Whatever.)

So, then back home to  unload and put away the groceries and toiletries (except for the 35-pounds of kitty litter that I left in the trunk of the car because why isn’t anyone helping me unload the car?).

Then:  Mom’s taxi service.  Dinner for the half of the family that was home.

Then:  A quick trip to the beach to take a chance on seeing the sunset.  (A storm is moving in . . . you never know if the clouds will make the sunset better or worse.  Tonight the clouds won.)

Back home and I cooked dinner for the other half of the family who was returning home.

I ate dinner myself and had (literally) thirteen minutes for a quick snooze before work.  And now I’ve worked for four hours and I need to get to bed.  It’s so late that it’s early, you know?

Now, the plot I just recited doesn’t tell you these things:

1)  Yesterday I broke a lightbulb when it slipped from my hand while I stood on a ladder in my closet.  I watched it bounce onto a mirror leaning against a shoe rack and then I saw the light bulb shatter.  I was just relieved that the mirror didn’t break.  (Seven years bad luck, right?)

2)  A child in my family lost a phone charger somehow on the walk from the car to the house.  This person called me up and asked me to stop by an Apple store to buy a new charger.  As if.  Later, this person responded to my questions (so I could retrace steps and find the charger) with annoyance and snottiness and exasperation.

So I did what any self-respecting 50-year old mother of four would do.  I slammed the door at this kid.

And then for good measure, I slammed my own bedroom door, too.  (I apologized later not because I was really sorry but because I wanted to model apologizing for this kid.  Truth.)

3)  Lola the Dog hates watching reality television and sports with me.  I can’t help it.  Occasionally, I exclaim, “OH NO!” and Lola looks at me with reproach and fear and walks around to the other side of the bed behind my husband’s recliner and stares at me.  She does not approve of outbursts.

4)  A different “child” in my family has quit an activity.  I can’t really share details but I am including this here for my future self to read so that my future self can look back and laugh at how my  current self worried and despaired and thought that perhaps this “child” would never leave home, would never find his path, would never learn to persevere.  My future self will say, “Oh, why did you waste so much time freaking out and being upset and concerned?  Things worked out!  Look!  Everything’s fine!”

My current self is doubtful.

5)  Tonight, a jar of sliced green olives tumbled off a pantry shelf and broke on the tile floor.

My goals for tomorrow:

No door slamming.
No breaking glass items.

The facts, nothing but the facts and more

Sunset, moonrise

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Sunday night I hurried to the beach to see the sunset. We’ve had extremely hot weather and occasional clouds lately. The clouds can turn a ho-hum sunset into a breathtaking one or they can blot it out entirely.

I live just far enough from the beach that there’s really no way to know how the sunset will be without driving the fifteen minutes.

So I drove to the beach with the hopes of capturing a brilliant sunset and it was okay. Not exciting at all. It was still nice to be at the beach, to hear the waves breaking. A bride and groom were getting photos taken just after the sun went down.

Then I turned around and caught a glimpse of a low-hanging sliver of the moon and realized I was seeing the lunar eclipse of the Supermoon. I only have an iPhone, so trying to take photos was pointless, but I did stand with other moonstruck beachgoers and watch the moon hanging in the fading sky.

And now we won’t see that phenomenon for decades. Maybe by then I’ll have a decent camera that can photograph the moon. And if not, I’ll just have to “memorize it with my eyes” as my daughter has so often recommended.

Sunset, moonrise

Rear-view mirror

Parallel parking. #Carlsbad

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All I seem to do these days is drive around.  I pick up kids from here and deliver them to there.  I pick up other kids from there and deliver them here, there and there.

When I’m not driving around, I’m working or cooking or reading, pretty much in that order.

I’m not sure why my life feels so crowded now.  I crave space but instead my days are chopped into bits that I have to give away.

Meanwhile, I’m acutely aware that change is afoot and I don’t really embrace that idea at all.  My middle son is a senior in high school and is planning to attend college in another state (he says) and all I can think are the words of the Wild Things, “Oh please don’t go–we’ll eat you up–we love you so!” right before Max climbed into his boat and sailed away.

But that’s the story of life, isn’t it?  People come and people go, whether you are ready or not.  (For instance, Monday was the 26th anniversary of my dad’s death.  He was only 47.  I always hasten to add his age because it was so unfair that his life was abbreviated.  I want people to understand that.  Forty-seven.  Too young.)

Anyway, so while time is ticking away, I’ll be driving, picking up and delivering, gazing into the rear view mirror while I’m speeding along.

Rear-view mirror

I remember Thomas Kuveikis

This is an annual reposting of the original post made in 2006 when I participated in the 2,996 Project, for which 2,996 bloggers volunteered to write a memorial for one person who perished in the attacks on 9/11.  (I was able to find the following information about Thomas online.)

Today, on the fourteenth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the United States, I remember Thomas Kuveikis.

Thomas Kuveikis was known to his family and friends as Tommy.  He grew up in Brooklyn, attending Blessed Sacrament Elementary School.  He later graduated from Wheatley High School in 1971 after his family moved to East Williston.

Tommy studied architecture at both SUNY Farmingdale and the Pratt Institute, but her never completed a degree.  He dabbled in carpentry, a skill learned from his father.  He joined the New York Fire Department (FDNY) in August of 1977 when he was twenty-four years old.

Within a year, Tommy made a name for himself as an aggressive, brave and tough firefighter.  His younger brother, Tim,  once said, “If I could be half the fireman he was, I’ll have a really good career.”  (Newsday.com)   He loved the action of firefighting in Bushwick, a Brooklyn neighborhood.  (His father was a legendary firefighter who died in November 2001.)

But Tommy wasn’t just a tough guy.  He came up with an idea to help a poor family at Christmas.  Starting in 1987, members of his squad visited a priest at St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church and ask for the name of the poorest family in the parish.  Then they would contact the family, set up a Christmas tree and provide presents.

Tommy was married twice and was about to be engaged to Jennifer Auerhahn, who described him as “sweet, funny, kind gentle and unselfish.”  His brother Jimmy wrote about him on September11victims.com website saying,

“It was really tough to lose Tommy as he became such a king, considerate guy over time.  He was not always this way, especially in his twenties, but ‘life’s difficulties’ made him become a great human being.  He was a vegetarian, he gave money and time to Putnam County Land Trust to preserve ‘special’ land . . . he loved animals, kids and good people.  Tommy was already a tremendous fireman, working in a poor area of Brooklyn, where he could experience many more fires than the average fireman, just like his father did.”

Kathy Gelman said her brother, Tommy, was “honorable, honest, humorous, humble, humane, and hero.”

In his spare time, Tommy worked as a carpenter.  In fact, he built a steam room in Squad 252’s firehouse.  He had a reputation for not charging enough for his carpentry work.  One day a year, he would donate a day of carpentry to the Putnam County Land Trust.

Tommy had one daughter, Kristen.  He had five siblings, sisters Christine, Karen and Kathleen and brothers, James and Timothy.

Tommy had been a firefighter for twenty-four years and a member of Squad 252 (“In Squad We Trust” was their motto) for five years when his squad answered the fifth alarm at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, at 9:00 a.m.  He was forty-eight years old that day.  CNN footage shows his squad pulling up to the east side of the Trade Center around 9:28 a.m.  The six members of the squad entered the north tower, rescued a man from an elevator.

Two of the firefighters’ bodies were found in the C stairwell 18 days later.  The other four men of Squad 252, including Tommy, were never found.

Today, I remember Thomas Kuveikis.  Thomas Kuveikis is one of the 343 FDNY firefighters who died on September 11, 2001.  He is a hero. 

We will never forget.


You can read more about Thomas Kuveikis here.

I remember Thomas Kuveikis


Our Internet quit working last night.

I frantically unplugged and replugged, disconnected and reconnected.  Rebooted my computer.  Unplugged the modem again.  Lather, rinse, repeat, more and more frazzled.  And still, the light would not turn green.

Finally, after thirty minutes, I called our Internet Service Provider.  The automated voice asked a series of questions to which I responded, “YES!” or “NO!” with increasing frustration, but, as it turns out, automated customer service agents do not really care about your tone of voice or your rage.

Finally, the robot lady voice told me she could not detect my modem online and that she would transfer me to a real person.  I don’t know.  I was practically frothing at the mouth by that point.

Then–after twelve minutes of being on the phone–I spoke to a real person who also could not see my modem online and who finally, sadly, told me that a technician would have to come out in person between one and three the next afternoon.

That was really not okay since I needed to work online immediately, but what can you do at 9:40 PM when the real live guy says he cannot detect your modem online?  (I unplugged it and replugged it a few more times anyway, just for good measure.)

I did get to enjoy a parade of my distraught children marching into my office one by one to let me know that they could not get online.

I have been the IT person in this family since the days of AOL and dial-up and yet my children had the audacity to suggest that maybe I should “reset the modem.”  I believe I glanced at them with what might be commonly known as a Death Glare.

They looked at me like I was a feeble old lady incarcerated in a nursing home who doesn’t understand technical things like computers and the World Wide Web and the Internet and electricity and entertainment.

The pain was real.  They could not play their video games!  They could not view their Netflix movies!  They could not watch YouTube videos or Skype.

Meanwhile I was freaked out because I could not do this little thing called “WORK” which requires me to be online every night.

I used my phone and its cellular data to work as much as possible.  The darling children just had to suffer all night without their access to the outside world.  Poor babies.

Anyway, after sixteen hours of dead Internet, it sprang back to life fifteen minutes before the technician’s “window” began.  I called the ISP who said the technician would still come.  And he did, but an hour after the “window” ended.  (He was supposed to come between 1 and 3 PM.  He arrived a little after 4 PM.)

The technician guy looked like he belonged in a video game swinging a sword instead of troubleshooting glitchy technology.  He was about 6’4″ and had a thick Russian accent.  (He was afraid of my extremely friendly big dog which was kind of surprising.)  He and his very long blond ponytail spent an hour wandering outside and then inside and then back outside.

He finally rang the doorbell and told me everything was fine and I don’t know why I even asked, but I said, “So, did you actually do anything?” and he said (a little defensively), “No.”  He showed me the green indicators on the little tablet he carried and assured me that the signals were all good.  (As opposed to when he arrived and said the signals were “poor” even though we had Internet again.)

So, let’s review.

My Internet inexplicably stopped working last night at 9:10 PM.

Today, it started working again at 12:45 PM.

No one understands why or how it was fixed including, but not limited to the automated computer  voice on the phone, the real customer service guy on the phone, the Russian swordsman and me.

The kids are just relieved they can access their many entertainment options and, oh yeah, also do their homework.