2015/04/26 (N) Bentley
Turning the lights out at 11 PM last night meant I would be awake around 6 AM this morning and ready to get up, and that was the case. Linda was awake by 6:30 AM and we were up shortly thereafter. I was able to light the natural gas fireplace without difficulty. The only thing I can figure is that perhaps I did not have the Off/Pilot/On gas valve in the right position last night.
With the gas valve in the Off position gas cannot flow beyond the valve. In the Pilot position gas can only flow to the pilot flame assembly, and only while the knob is pushed in, until the flame has been lit long enough to cause the heat sensitive pilot valve to remain open at which point the knob can be released. I do not think gas can flow to the main burner tubes, however, until the knob is turned to the On position. There is also a Remote/Off/On switch that has to be in the Off position when lighting the pilot flame (with the built in spark igniter) and moved to the On position to allow the main burner tubes to receive gas. All I can figure is that I did not have the Off/Pilot/On valve turned to the On position. The Remote position is intended to be used with a wall mounted thermostat which we do not have. For us the firelogs are primarily decorative but are useful for taking the chill off of the early morning or late evening. We never have them on, however, unless we are in the living room or dining room where we can see them.
Linda fed the cats while I made coffee which we enjoyed in the living room by the firelogs. It was 33 degrees F outside this morning but in another week the morning temperatures should be such that we can sit on the rear deck and enjoy our morning brew out there. We finally both got dressed and Linda heated an Amy’s Breakfast Scramble and split it between us. We lingered a while longer in the living room and finally got to work on our various chores.
Linda’s focus was to continue cleaning the kitchen, off-loading food and kitchen supplies from the bus, and getting her domestic and professional domains back in order. She made a grocery list as the day went along. We would normally go to the Howell Farmers Market on Sunday morning, but the outdoor market does not start until next week.
I cleaned the cats’ litter tray, which seems to be my job at home but Linda’s job on the bus, and then got to work on revising the draft survey for the FMCA national education committee. While I was doing that I also started up a couple of our workstation computers, installed updates, and kept an eye on my e-mail and RVillage messages. I worked on the survey until dinner time, with a break for lunch, and had Linda proofread it before I uploaded it to my Dropbox and e-mailed the link to the committee. We have a telephone meeting at 3:30 PM EDT tomorrow and I wanted everyone to have a chance to look it over in advance of the meeting.
Linda made Farro with garlic, dried cranberries, almonds, and kale and cooked some fresh asparagus. A green salad and a glass of wine completed a very nice meal. Linda had a text message from her sister letting us know that her housemate, Linda, decided to have Bentley put down. He was the oldest of her three dogs, deaf and arthritic, and on medications that he would not take, and he had lost interest in food. We had both received a text message from Linda regarding our recent visit so I responded to that. We were sad that Bentley was gone, but glad that we got to see him one last time.
I turned my attention to editing photos for my April 10 blog post about out visit to Bandolier National Monument and Santa Fe, New Mexico but the batteries in my wireless mouse needed to be recharged so I plugged it in and called it quits for the night. Linda was watching the first episode of Wolf Hall (PBS) on her iPad so I finished reading the May-June 2015 issue of the Gypsy Journal and played a few rounds of my favorite games. Linda prepared some fresh berries for dessert and we enjoyed them to the glow of the firelogs before going to bed.
2015/04/27 (M) Caller #9
After coffee and cereal this morning I continued selecting and processing photos from our April 10 visit to Bandolier National Monument and Old Town Santa Fe. I ended up with 16 photos so I uploaded the post and put them in an image gallery at the end. After lunch I got all of my documents in order for my 3:30 PM (EDT) telephone meeting of the FMCA Education Committee. I chatted briefly with the committee chair to see if there were any surprises in store. I then worked on consolidating my draft blog posts for April 11 through 15 which included the time we spent in Norman, Oklahoma visiting with my uncle Bob and Aunt Helen, and four additional generations of relatives.
I exchanged e-mails with BCM Publisher Gary Hatt and Editor Dave Rush regarding my article on the redoing of the exterior of our coach. The article is 5,800 words with 71 photos and they would like to split it up and run it in installments over three or four issues. That will require me to go back through the article and identify the places where it can be split, making sure the photos track with the text, and write some additional bridge paragraphs to wrap up each installment and introduce the next one.
I dialed in to my FMCA meeting just before 3:30 PM. I was caller number nine (9) but I did not win anything. The meeting lasted almost 90 minutes. We discussed the survey we have been developing and approved a motion to pass it along to the Executive Board with the recommendation that it be sent to a random sample of the members both electronically and via USPS. I expect to receive minor corrections in the next 36 hours and get a final draft to the FMCA Executive Director on Wednesday so he can have it reviewed by an outside expert (Barry) at Membership Corporation of America (MCA). The FMCA executive board meets in a week so we will see what happens.
After the meeting I finished working on the April 11-16 consolidated post and uploaded it to our personal blog just in time for dinner which featured taco bowl salads. She started with refrigerated tortillas, draped them over ramekins, and baked them to create the shell. She reconstituted an ancho, red Hatch, and pequin chile and used them to season the pinto beans, mixed greens, tomatoes, onions, and olives that made up the filling. Franzia Fruity Red Sangria went nicely with the tacos. Later we had a fresh mixed fruit salad of blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and bananas. We relaxed for a while, reading and playing games, but were surprisingly tired and went to bed before 10 PM. Change happens, transition takes time.
2015/04/28 (T) And now … the rest of the summer
As sometimes happens when we go to bed early, we slept in this morning and did not get out of bed until after 8 AM. It is nice to be able to do that if we want to. Coffee and toast got the day started followed by reading, writing, and cat admiring. It was a beautiful, sunny morning albeit still on the chilly side. In other words, another day in the idyllic paradise we call retirement in the country.
We have both been busy since we got home last Friday, unloading the bus and putting things in their place in the house, visiting family, cleaning and stocking the kitchen, going through mail, and working on bills and accounting, both personal and organizational. And that was mostly Linda! I helped with some of that but was mostly focused on finishing a draft survey for the FMCA education committee, sending it out, and participating in a committee meeting by teleconference yesterday afternoon. I will have some minor additional work to do on the survey by the end of the day tomorrow, but with the meeting behind me I can now concentrate on all of the other things that need to be done. To paraphrase Paul Harvey “And now … the rest of the summer.”
One of the chores that is always there is laundry. Linda seems to take over this task when we are living in the bus, but it is definitely my job when we are at home. Ditto for cleaning the cat litter tray. To be fair, both the laundry room and liter tray are in the basement where my office and the ham radio shack are located, so I am down there a lot more than her. When we first return home after being away for an extended time there is a lot of laundry to do. Not that we don’t do it while we are away, we do, but I like to clean everything that we had with us. This is not a one day task, in part because we like to limit the number of loads of laundry we do on any given day so as not to overload the septic tanks, and in part because I just do not want to spend an entire day doing laundry.
My main focus this morning, however, was to revisit my article for Bus Conversion Magazine on the renovation of the exterior of our bus back in 2011/2012. It needs to be split into 3 or 4 installments and I would rather do that myself, making sure the photos track with the text. I started a load of laundry and then got to work, keeping an eye on e-mail and RVillage. I finished restructuring the article just before lunch, uploaded it to my BCM Dropbox folder, and e-mailed the editor and publisher. Linda reheated the Farro-cranberries-almonds dish for lunch and served it with black grapes.
I moved the first load of laundry to the dryer, put a second load of laundry in the washing machine, and started compiling my posts for April 16 through 20. I got an e-mail from Lou Petkus regarding the SKP Photographers BOF website. Lou started, and leads, the BOF and administers the website while I take care of the RVillage group and someone else takes care of the member database/roster. He found and installed a free system for displaying photo albums. He was setting it up so each BOF member had their own login and could upload their own photos and wanted me (and Linda) to try it out. I did, and found a number of issues which I documented for him. I like the idea, so I hope he can resolve the issues.
I folded and hung up the dried laundry and returned to my blog post which I uploaded, tagged, and published before going upstairs. It was a beautiful day and while Linda was outside on the rear deck reading four deer walked up the eastern boundary of our property. We were chatting back there when the doorbell rang, which is unusual for us. It was Aaron, one of the kids (teenager?) from the house to our immediate east. UPS had delivered our Amazon order to their house instead of ours even though it had my name and our address on the label.
Linda sautéed onions until they were partly caramelized, pan-fried tofu slices, and then added bar-b-que sauce. She served these in tortillas rather than on buns. She also sautéed fresh green beans. I opened a bottle of Barefoot Moscato and we each had a small glass with dinner.
After dinner I called Joe Cannarozzi, the mobile mechanic who has done the majority of the service work on our bus since we got it back to Michigan in 2010. As planned, he is now in upstate New York where he will be working well into the fall. He plans to be back this way the first week in November and we made plans to have him do the routine chassis maintenance at that time. I also discussed our interior renovation plans for the bus and got some tips from him about how to approach that work, especially the floor, as he has done several.
I noticed that I had a voice message from Gary at BCM. He had called earlier in the day after I had uploaded the new 4-part version of the Exterior Makeover article so I called him back and left him a message. Tag; you’re it.
2015/04/29 (W) Bus Lunch
We had a typical start to our day; coffee, breakfast, and iPads (news, weather, games, reading, and writing). Actually, that’s how most of our days in the bus also start, so the only real difference is where we are sitting and what we can see from that vantage point. I needed to order a refill on a prescription medication so I tried doing that on my iPad. No problem iPad-wise, but the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement System (MPSERS) had switched the mail order prescription drug service from Medco/Express-Scripts to Catamaran Home Delivery effective January 1, 2015. Catamaran was already the third part administrator (TPA) but was now operating their own pharmacy. Even though I already had a Catamaran account I had to register for Home Delivery service. Once I did that I was supposed to be able to see any prescriptions that had transferred over. There weren’t any 🙁 That meant I needed a new prescription. I had a mid-morning appointment and did not want to spend time “holding for the next available representative” so I decided to take care of this task tomorrow.
Linda called last Friday and arranged to have our curbside trash pickup resume this week. Wednesday is trash pickup day, so the trashcan had to go out by the street this morning. (We don’t have curbs here, so I can’t say we took the can to the curb.) The last two years Alchin’s has come past our house around noon. While we figured that would probably be the case again this year we did not want to risk missing the truck, so Linda took it out early.
Linda is the treasurer of SLAARC, our local ham radio club based in South Lyon, Michigan. The club’s bank (First Merit) is there and she needed to make a deposit. I was headed that general direction so I took it with me. The deposit made, I headed on to Chuck Spera’s bus garage in Novi, MI. Chuck and Barbara have the same model Prevost bus that we do only one year newer and converted by Liberty, so fancier than ours. Like us, they spend a lot of time in it, and, like us, there are always projects to be done. Some of those, in turn, require some discussion.
I met Chuck at his shop at 10:15 AM and had a look at his turbo boost sensor intake manifold pressure hose. It appeared to be intact but old a frayed like mine was. The one on our bus failed on the drive out to Quartzsite, AZ in December 2014. Changing his hose would be more difficult than our as is chassis batteries are in the passenger-side engine bay and make access to that side of the engine much more difficult than in our bus. We have been using the same mobile mechanic for the last few years but he has found longer term employment and cut back on the mobile servicing of Prevost chassis. I indicated to Chuck that we really needed to find someone locally who is in business at an accessible location and plans to continue as such into the foreseeable future. He suggested that we take a drive to Johnie’s in Walled Lake, so that is what we did.
Denny was not there (Johnie was his dad) but I got to see the place and now know where it is. We drove back to the Panera in Novi for lunch and then back to Chuck’s shop which is nearby. By 2 PM we had not only solved all of the world’s problems we had made good progress on unraveling the mysteries of the universe. Wanting to leave something for the next conversation I headed for home leaving Chuck to ponder the mysteries of the bus, which are far more baffling than the mysteries of the universe.
I drove home on Grand River Avenue (GRA) to avoid WB I-96 and the I-96/US-23 interchange construction. I bought gas at the Wixom Meijer’s and found out 20 minutes later that I had paid way too much for it ($2.59/gal). The BP station in Brighton had regular for $2.29 and the Shell station closest to our house had it for $2.44. Bummer. I passed a First Merit Bank on the south side of GRA just west of Old US-23 in Brighton. Not right around the corner from our house, but a lot closer than South Lyon. There is also a Jeep dealership there. We are interested in getting a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, we just don’t like the prices we are seeing.
Our Amazon shipment arrived with the two filter cartridges for the under sink housing in the bus and other things. Hopefully the delivery to the wrong address on Monday was a one-time thing. I had been trading phone messages with Gary at BCM and finally got through to him this time. I then curled up with the new B&H catalog which made it feel like Christmas in April.
Linda made a potato lentil ginger curry for dinner and it was very good. I had planned on revising the FMCA Education Survey and sending it out this evening but I was simply not in the humor to go back downstairs. I think my retirement motto is going to be “there is always tomorrow, and if not, it didn’t matter anyway.” Linda had to get up early tomorrow morning to beat the traffic headed into Detroit so we went to bed earlier than usual.
2015/04/30 (R) Steel
Linda set her alarm for 5:45 AM. The purpose of her alarm is to wake me up so I can wake her up. It worked as planned and she got up and got ready to go to the bakery while I went back to sleep.
I finally got up at 8:30 AM. I’ve been busy since we got home but also a bit tired and feeling the need to just unwind from our exciting winter out west. After breakfast I called the Internal Medicine clinic at the Henry Ford Health System Columbus Center in Novi to see if I could get my doctor’s nurse to get my doctor to write me a new prescription for my nasal spray. Naturally I never got to talk to the doctor or a nurse, but the youngish sounding lady who handled the phone call was very helpful, up to a point. She really wanted to schedule me for an appointment and was not quite piecing together that my prescription, which is for a maintenance drug, is only good for one year but my doctor only needs/wants to see me every other year. I don’t expect the new script to be a problem, but that fact that my MPSERS health care plan changed mail-order prescription providers as of January 1st may add a wrinkle. I’m not due for a physical until the fall but I will go sooner if needed to get my script. Which reminds me, I need to schedule my annual appointment with the dermatology PA.
I focused on making some last minute corrections to the FMCA education survey and shipped it off. I got an e-mail back from Diane Wolfe with some questions. She is not a member of the FMCA education committee but she and husband Brett did review and comment on it. The questions were interesting and answering them gave me a chance to explain some technicalities and cc: the FMCA Executive Director as they were as much for his benefit as hers.
I had several e-mails back and forth with Kate regarding productions at Meadowbrook Theater and an exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), all of which sounded interesting. Our social life is less active at home than on the road so we welcome such opportunities.
I had a phone call from Mike at Rocket Steel Buildings following up on an inquiry I made. He sent me a brochure and a price. It was something but not exactly the quote I was looking for. I still need to follow up with SteelMaster Building Systems and get to work on drawings for the wood-framed basilica design.
I compiled my blog posts for April 21-25, 2015 after finding the one for the 24th. I had e-mailed it from my iPad but it never arrived. I e-mailed it again and it bounced back. The spam blocker even said it was from a white listed sender (me!) but rejected it anyway. Huh ??? I sent it a third time to two addresses, one of which was not attached to our domain, and it came through to both accounts, naturally. I guess this was one of the mysteries of the universe that Chuck and I left unsolved yesterday. Anyway, I finally got it, finished compiling my posts, and uploaded, tagged, and published it.
I also had several e-mails back and forth with Lou Petkus regarding the SKP Photographers BOF and website. Gary sent me a link to a document in his Dropbox with photos and audio files from an interview he did for a featured bus article that never got written. I agreed to take a look at it and see what I can do.
I managed to get more things off of the bus, including bedding, and did two more loads of laundry. I do not like to do more than two loads a day as it over taxes the septic system. Someone rang the front doorbell, the second time this week. This time it was Kaylie, Aaron’s sister, from next door. For the second time this week UPS delivered a package, correctly addressed to me, to the wrong address. I was concerned this would happen and Linda said I was a pessimist. Apparently we were both right.
I called the local UPS store but the only thing they could do was give me the national 800 customer service number. I am a pessimist (just ask Linda), so I was not looking forward to that experience, but I called and fought my through their voice menu system. It did not include an option for my situation (of course) and I finally just kept saying “agent” until the system gave up and connected me to a real person.
“Chelsea” was apologetic, even though she had not personally done anything wrong, because that’s what customer service people are trained to do. I think someone, somewhere, once upon a time figured out that apologizing diffuses customers who are upset. Well, it doesn’t. And assuring me that it “won’t happen again” is equally meaningless when it comes from a person who is not in a position within the organization to make such a statement. But Chelsea verified my name and address and the incorrect delivery address and said she took careful notes and would make sure they got to the right person. I hope so.
What is perhaps most frustrating is that UPS has a local distribution center in Howell, and I have the address, but it is not open to the public except for limited package pickup hours. In other words, the mistake is being made by a driver who is most likely operating out of that location, or by someone scheduling the routing, but there is no customer support person or facility manager that I can talk to, face-to-face, and resolve this at the point of origin of the problem. We buy a lot stuff now through Amazon Prime, and it all gets shipped via UPS, so having it delivered anywhere other than to our house is a problem.
Linda called at 4:30 PM to let me know she was leaving the bakery at 5 PM and heading to Kathi’s. They were going to have dinner at La Marsa in Farmington Hills and give the I-96 traffic a chance to subside before she finished the drive home. I had some of the leftover potato barley ginger curry for dinner and then called Phil Jarrel to remind him that we are still trying to figure out how to put up a bus barn and still want him to do the site prep and driveway. I then called Butch to see if he was able to locate the front brake drums for their MCI MC-9 NJT bus. He was, and already had the driver side front reassembled. I responded to a couple of e-mails and filled out an online RFQ for SteelMaster Building Systems and went to bed.