Archive for December, 2011

brunch for twelve and a costco christmas tree

It might be almost Christmas, but I’m still catching up from Thanksgiving-time. The highlight of which was discovering that my house can accommodate exactly twelve people, maximum, for a sit-down meal.

If momma hadn’t invited half the family for Thanksgiving brunch, I never would have tried it. Seemed like a crazy idea to me. But it worked! We moved the big dining room table toward the stairs, and set up the folding table near the window. I had to move the side table out of the window nook to make room, but it came in handy as a beverage station behind the couch.

Just two days later, the main floor went through another transformation. I wasn’t sure I was going to go all-out decorating for Christmas this year, since I’m sort of in and out a lot these days. But, we found a great deal on Christmas trees at Costco (8 foot pine for $30!!) so I relented and pulled out the ornaments and lights (and just a few nutcrackers).

When I left Minnesota the other day, there wasn’t any snow on the ground. So it didn’t make it so hard to come to California for the holiday. I sure hope there’s a few inches when I get back, even if it means I have to shovel!

Merry Christmas to you all, wherever you may be.


what do I know about circuit breakers?

Not a lot. But today, a lot more than yesterday.

Today has not been my favorite day at the farmhouse. I debated blogging about it (especially since I have a backlog of other posts to finish) since it is not a happy story. But that is life, and this wouldn’t be an accurate portrayal of my life as a young, first-time homeowner if I didn’t tell you some of the not-so-fun stories. So here goes.

The story starts a few weeks ago. I got home from a trip and the internet wasn’t working. Four days later, inconvenient turned into “what the heck is happening” when the cable guy showed up and pointed out that my neighbor’s tree had a fallen branch that was leaning on my cable and power cords. (If that doesn’t sound good to you, you’re smart — it’s not). The nice cable guy rerouted my cable line around the tree branch so I could get back online, and I proceeded to work with my neighbor to figure out how to fix the rest of the tree situation.

A week or so later, a friend and I were having dinner when the power started flickering. The energy company paid a visit, and quickly decided it was related to the broken tree branch. No other tests or investigating possible causes. File that away, please.

This morning, on the 12th day of my parents’ visit from California, we were getting ready for a quiet day of projects and relaxing when half the power went out. Just half — all the lights in the basement and main floor, and some of the upstairs outlets (the downstairs outlets still worked). So, we called the energy company … they sent someone out … blah blah blah, “it’s probably the tree branch but let’s just check a few more things”…

When the energy company guy pulled off the cover of the main box on the back side of the house, it was obvious even to me that something was really, really wrong. One of the four lugs (that’d be the technical term) was blackened and the insulation on the wire leading up to it was burned away.

I quickly learned two things: that I was lucky to have escaped a fire, and that this was not going to be a cheap fix. Oh, and the furnace was connected to the side of the line that wasn’t working. And it was getting kind of chilly in the house…

So often I have to deal with these things alone — and although I’m sure my parents would have rather not spent our last day of their visit calling electricians and sitting around without power, I was so grateful to have them here. It was not my happiest day and it was a lot nicer to have them here to help me figure out what to do.

Also, nice to have people to laugh with when the flashlight broke, and the carbon monoxide alarms started going off, and the security company called to “make sure everything was okay” (although tempting not to, I told her it was.)

Eventually, we tracked down an honest-sounding electrician who had the parts in stock to replace the main electric box and wiring today. I’m sure they had fun working out in the snow all afternoon.

They replaced the entire box that connects the power line to the circuit box in the basement, plus the wiring just to be safe. It now has a fancy bypass switch (and apparently this is a big deal? Who knew.) And while they had the power off, dad helped me hang some twinkle lights on the front porch. So now that the power is back on, it looks like this:

My wallet might be a little lighter, but the house is safe and the heat is back on. So that’s a wrap on today. I’m going to eat a pint of ice cream or something now…