It’s time for some more newsy miniutiae about the summer and my schedule.  We have been running all over the Central California coast, previewing places to take Anna while she is here this summer and at Christmas.  Our destination last week was San Luis Obispo (SLO, as the signs say all over that area). I will be sharing the resulting photographs here and on my Photostream in August.

I try to avoid scheduling too much work during the summer, and luckily have my annuity to float me along at a comfortable level when I do that. But, since I work online, I have noticed that everything is accelerating more and more.

“Route 166 end Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes” by Amin Eshaker 

Answers, work, thinking — all must be in nano-time. I don’t like to do anything in a rush or hurry so I wonder how long someone like me will be able to keep pace with the get-it-done-yesterday mentality that dominates our gig-professional market right now.
A hot trend in my field these days, is having a 5-minute consultation. That is so absurd and fraught with liability, I won’t even consider it. So, when the incoming offers aren’t right, I can turn to a long list of waiting projects. Never a dull moment here.

To get to SLO, we took our usual coastal route up the 101 and made wonderful time, under 3 hours. Coming back we wanted to avoid the Refugio/El Capitan spill stretch because it is still being cleaned up and they have eliminated one lane on the highway, so the traffic southbound crawls.

We elected instead to try a cross-connector, the little known Route 166.  If any of you out there has remaining doubt that this planet is warming, I suggest you take a ride through central California and see what we saw this weekend on our long, mesmerizing drive across the once thriving dairy and cattle cradle of the West, Kern County.

Farm after farm after farm appeared over the next swell of the steaming highway, wrested from bone-dry earth and Sertão-like vegetation.  Officially it is bordered by the Los Padres National Forest, but the trees are ancient Live Oaks, very low to the ground, which is carpeted with pale yellow grasses. If we hadn’t been zipping along in a never pausing line of speeding vehicles, I might have stopped to take panoramas, because individual shots would not convey the vastness of the space, the undulating steep hills and shadowy valleys. It was so dry and spare, I was riveted the whole time.  From this parched land, California produces 90% of the country’s cantaloupe, a large portion of its animal meats, especially beef, and a host of other fruit and vegetable crops.

We raced past fields of green and yellow onions, garlic, strawberries, grape after grape, corn, and miles of citrus trees.  How the farmers manage to keep all this going with steadily declining aquifers and no rain for four years, is a miracle of ingenuity. We also saw many signs saying: “No rain. No work.” It is scary.

Back on the home front, our house has been slapping us around lately. We have had the royal battle of the appliances, us vs. them.  First, the vacuum cleaner, a very reliable and expensive (to the tune of $1500) workhorse that is like my personal assistant, for heaven sake, just stopped working.  The thought of being without it and having to bring in one of the older ones from the garage was stressful.  Geoffrey is pretty handy, so he took it apart, changed all the filters, the bag (which, with two animals, one longer-haired human and one with the most astonishing thick head of auburn hair I have ever seen, as well as living in a dry, dusty desert, fills up to the brim twice a month or more), cleaned the entire thing and it still wouldn’t turn on. We called the guy who sold it to us and found out that it, after ten years, is still under warranty — in fact, this unit comes with a lifetime warranty against any defects.  But for parts, not labor.  His estimate was so high that I sent Geoff back to the drawing board.  Long story short, a loose wire, that he repaired.  But then! Both the AC and the kitchen refrigerator — the former a Trane, for Pete’s sake, the latter a top of the line Sub-Zero, once again — simply stopped working within a day of each other.

We couldn’t believe it.  Both just shut down during our 100F heat wave.  We emptied the entire refrigerator and freezer, stuffed as much as we could in the garage refrigerator (thank the gods for that thing!) and then threw out about $600 worth of items that we just couldn’t save, since the fridge had been declining without our realizing it for about a week.  Sigh.  Two repairmen later, three days without both while parts were ordered, and now we have these sturdy foot-soldiers operational again. With brand new side-mounted refrigerator and freezer thermometers for both the kitchen and garage units, so we never find out the hard way again.

But wait, there’s more.  Now we are under ant-attack and have spent the last week peppering the roof ledges outside the kitchen with Terol ant bait. I hate to do it because ants are so beneficial outside.  But inside, they are verboten. Double sigh. That required breaking down the entire kitchen, scrubbing, spraying my magic mixture (TJ’s liquid dish detergent/vinegar/water) to get rid of the trail, and wiping up the forlorn little dead bodies because if you don’t, ant emergency personnel return to carry their brethren back to the nest for, what, burial? Consumption?  I daren’t think about it.

Not done! The DirecTV wand stopped operating the Geni box in the family room.  When I shook it, I could hear a microscopic loose screw inside. It is such a hassle to call them now that they were acquired by our land line provider, ATT. They make you go through a long phone tree of automated choices before you can shout, ‘…send us a new remote!’. It took so long this time that Geoff slammed the phone down in frustration. Then we realized we had two spares from the guest room and Christmas room TVs, which have newer boxes and newer fancier remotes. We hadn’t upgraded the receiver in the family room because we had so many DVRd programs saved on it.  Hallelujah for spare remotes.  We still have to re-program them to work with this particular TV but at least we don’t have to go through DTV hell to place an order.

Last, but not least, Geoffrey dropped his brand new sexy iPhone at work and a lift driver went right over it in a flash, natch. Don’t ask.  My frugal spouse had splurged on this phone, just finished customizing it with all his favorite games (!!).  Out he went last night and bought the cheapest, lowest tech version he could find and it put him in such a snit that we had a rare argument. All well this morning, as he left he admonished me ‘not to expect much in the way of communication, texting, selfies, photos, for the duration’.  Wouldn’t you know when Mr. Penurious finally blew the wad, he would be punished by Catholic guilt? Or a dark star transit, at the very least.

Now we are frantically getting ready for Deanna and Annabelle, so my posts might be spotty or dotty or both.  Please be patient with me and on standby, I may need you! 😀

Images: Wikimedia Commons,,,,

16 Comments on “SLO-bound”

  1. I do not like the Wars with Appliances. Last summer, within a week, we bought a new washer, new dryer, and spent $1800.00 on car repairs, to a car that was paid off and well behaved, until the moment, it just seemed to fall apart. Ugh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Argh. I so relate to that! Why does it always seem to come in clusters? We had that happen a couple of years ago when our KitchenAid dishwasher literally fried itself. It was a spectacular mini-fireworks and the repairman said it was dead as a doornail. We had to buy a new one, then a radiator for the car, then a new pool pump. Always in clusters.

      You have my sympathies Patty, believe me! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! I think the Governor should be making arrangements to buy water from states with surpluses rather than punishing farmers and homeowners. There are businesses like Nestle and Arrowhead that are bottling water at municipal prices and reselling it for hundreds of percentage points in profit. This water is draining our natural remaining reserves, but these companies have fierce lobbies and so they maintain their rights. It is shameful.

      Thank you for praying for us — we need it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! You have had a very Job-like life lately. I pray showers of blessings and good fortune on you both. Enjoy your time with your sweet visitors. And may you gain a fresh appreciation of things that DO go right and the plethora of good things in your life 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vera, you are Sooooo right. When that refrigerator came back on board, we both realized how much we take for granted. Ditto the AC. Honestly, I think black mold started to proliferate on all our tile while it was down. We just have to learn to appreciate the simple things in life. Me, most of all, since I am the one with the highest expectations.

      Now that Anna is four, we can no longer entertain her merely by putting a few simple toys in her room or going to get ice cream. She and her parents are world travelers and she has great expectations. At Christmas, she had just returned from Costa Rica and was comparing our pool (small) to the luxurious pool overlooking the sea and the jungle at the Air BnB they were staying in. Ours fell short, so she informed me that this time, we must go down to the pool that belongs to our neighborhood, which is an olympic size pool, as she “just can’t do laps (!!) in a pool like ours”. LOL! That must be what Al said and Anna has now interiorized that idea. Meanwhile, she does laps with water wings … 😀

      Thank you for praying over me, Vera. I know your prayers will work and I appreciate them! ❤


  3. Beth, so sorry for all this happening to you and Geoffrey. This was not the same things that were going wrong in the movie, “The Money Pit,” but it instantly came to mind. Their problems were repairing an older home while yours were the varied, high end large appliances all breaking down at once. What are the odds? Then, poor Geoffrey’s phone! I would probably lose my temper. Good to know this is a rare occurrence around your household. 🙂
    My favorite parts were your gorgeous photographs sprinkled throughout all the bad news. I admire the way you capture images which look like fabulous paintings, Beth.

    Liked by 2 people

    • This kind of thing happens to us in clusters, it seems. The house is actually in good condition, considering that it was built in the 80s and is what we jokingly refer to as California construction, i.e., built for good weather only. So, little goes wrong with the building itself (I had better watch that I don’t jinx it) but appliances are a different matter. We always try to get the best, but sometimes I think that is just hype.

      I don’t think Geoffrey will ever get another expensive phone. He might be able to get insurance to cover it, but the deductible is probably too high. He has been burned! He gets a new phone like every 10 years, wouldn’t you know it? LOL. Poor guy.

      Thank you for the kind words. I cannot take credit for these photographs. I had to find them because we were speeding along this route trying to get across the torrid Central valleys as quickly as we could. There was one lane in each direction with rare passing points, so eventually everyone got stuck behind two RVs and a tanker. I didn’t even write about the hairball passing frenzies.

      Pictures of San Luis Obispo though, came out well and are coming up!


      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m smiling at such an entertaining post, Beth. Not smiling at your brushes with the gremlins. Any time one thing goes wrong I always end up waiting for the next two and hope it ends at the proverbial three. I had to go back and count. Six! You should be good for a while (touching wood!) and I don’t even consider myself particularly superstitious. Just don’t like to take chances!

    Appliances going on the blink we come to expect but poor Geoff and his phone is just cruel. I can almost see him now, after painstaking hours to customize it and familiarize himself with it, muttering, ‘What was the point?’

    We’re obviously getting someone else’s share of rain as it’s hardly let up here since the start of the holidays except for a few glorious days. Teases then gone. But I wouldn’t like the other extreme either. That’s tough on your farmers and communities. I know Ive signed a few petitions about Nestle’s shenanigans with water in many regions. So very unjust and just plain greedy with a most essential commodity. Balance lacking too many places, Beth.

    Here’s hoping for some in all areas, including your household items. 🙂 xo

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve heard that you were all under perpetually cloudy skies. I fear this is what we are all in for. Scientists are saying that things will be amplified, the dry places will be increasingly dry and the wet, wetter. Not encouraging.

      With our drought, food supplies will dwindle and become more costly. Or worse, we will start bringing it in from Asia where there is likely little regulation. Who knows what we will be eating in the future?

      As for Geoffrey, he now does not trust himself with expensive electronics. I feel badly for him.

      Thank you Anne-Marie! 😀


  5. You’ll have to get him a new iPhone for Christmas and tell him it’s just for use I’m the home 😀. I put my phone down in a shop forgot to pick it up and two stores later remembered and ran back, can’t believe how it made me feel, luckily the security man had it and told me off 😄 he must have daughters my age lol.
    Enjoy you summer

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know, Charlotte, that is a great idea! I may just do that, or for his birthday, which is in December too. It is amazing how attached we become to our phones, especially when they are so expensive now!

      I love your new avatar, by the way. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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