Electrical Anxiety Syndrome

Hold on a minute, no need to run to Google to look this up. It’s not a real thing. At least I don’t think it is. I just invented it, and will now, moving forward in this post, refer to it as EAS because I love acronyms.

Living in a brick apartment building during the summer of 90+ degree days was actually tolerable. I told myself the brick helped to insulate from the heat. Does it? I don’t know, but the idea sounded plausible. Never had an inkling of EAS during August or September. I just kept my blinds closed when not home and never had to even think about turning on any heat.

Living in a brick apartment building during the autumn and coming winter may be another story as it relates to insulation, but again I must look at the idea that if brick insulates well in the heat then conversely it would stand to reason to insulate against the cold… wouldn’t it? If my reasoning here is way off base please excuse me. I leaned much more heavily to biological sciences rather than climate science. Honestly, I’m not really ready to blame the brick for my EAS. I think I need to put the blame squarely on really old single pane windows, two of which don’t seem to make sufficient contact with the aforementioned brick, and god-awful zone heating- aka: individually operated base-board heaters.

What is she talking about, you ask. In lay terms: I think that I’m going to freeze this winter and in the process run up a large electric bill. Thus the creation of my electrical anxiety syndrome (EAS) after a summer of almost non-existent heating bills.

My heaters are designed to be turned on when needed for the room I am occupying at the time. If I leave that room and go to another room, say the bedroom for some reason, I will likely encounter temperatures much, much, much colder. Energy efficiency is not a hallmark of this type of heater, and if you have these heaters in your own home you know that they are typically put in under the windows. Mine sit squarely under my woefully inadequate single pane windows with those blinds that do nothing more than keep the neighbors from glaring at me when they walk down the sidewalk.

As I have no control over changing either the windows or the heaters I have tried to take measures that will help to insulate the inside and prevent losing tons of heat to the outside. I purchased and hung thermal curtains. Pulling them during the day means living in cave-like darkness. I’m having a hard time with this as it’s autumn, the days are sunny, but not warm, and quite frankly I need to SEE OUTSIDE. Cave dwelling isn’t high on my list of fun activities. I also have those door draft snake things stuffed along the windowsills where the cracks are.

As long as I dress warmly during the day when I’m home (that means long sleeves, sometimes even a sweater, heavy-ish socks, or light socks with slippers, then I’m okay. The heaters may be turned on for a time at night, and I heat up my bedroom prior to going to bed.

“So Deb, why don’t you just turn the damn heaters on and live like a normal person?”

Great question.

The reason I am not simply just turning the heaters on and watching my meter wheel turn willy-nilly is that I have no basis for just how much electricity these things use. My local power company, in every newsletter they put online, describes these heaters as energy wasters, or as I think of them- the root cause of my EAS. I have no experience with these things, coming as I did from a natural gas/forced air furnace set-up over the past 24 years.

But I have a plan. I always have a plan. October is my test-out-the-energy-usage-of-these-crappy-old-heaters month. I can run these babies for a time each day while trying to keep the EAS at bay and then see what my bill runs at the end of the month. I can use some not very scientific calculations based on temps now versus expected temps in the coming months plus some hefty algebraic formulas that will allow me to calculate things like HRT (heater run time) / OTV (outside temperature variation) / WPA (weather pattern analysis) against more impractical options such as STSR (sock to slipper ratio) / EB&QC (extra blanket & quilt costs) / and UOOAH (use of oven as heater).

Simple right? I think so.

Or I could just get up, move around to warm up my body and find a better use for my time than filling blog posts with silly acronyms.

*Seriously though, helpful readers- if you have any experience with this type of heating system I am all ears and would love to here what works, suggestions, heartbreak versus triumph over these things…whatever you’ve got. Many thanks!

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How we do autumn in my house

The mini pumpkins have taken their place on my outdoor window sill. They get to overlook part of my new garden planter. I have a matching set on the other sill, but I think you get the idea.

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The very first pan of vegetables is ready to roast. I’ve been waiting all summer to get back into the roast veggie routine. This tray was supposed to include some red skin potatoes as well, but I let them go a bit too long. They now have a place at the bottom of the garbage pail.

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There was spicy, Market Spice tea a bit earlier, but I missed taking a photo of that so you have to settle for the generic view.

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and, finally…

I have pulled out the first of the pumpkin scented candles. This one is Pumpkin Cider

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We’ve had on and off rain showers today as well. That’s a sure sign of autumn in the Pacific Northwest.

What about you? How are you doing autumn around your home?

Not a day over 40

I am 58 years old today. That doesn’t seem possible. How is that in two years I will be sixty? I swear to god that just yesterday I was graduating high school. Only a few years after that I was a brand new dental assistant, already coming to understand what working for a sexist a**hole was going to mean.

My children are adults, like real adults, not just beginning the “newly out of college phase” but actually marking their own year by year climb up the age ladder. Okay, I have to give Alison a little leeway- she’s only 24 so still just a toddler in the adult world. I can remember every moment of labor with each of them. How can I be almost 60 and remember those events, but forget where I put my phone only seconds after setting it down?

I have two grandchildren. Aren’t grandma’s supposed to be all round and cushy and wearing a full head of white hair while carrying around lined faces and crepe-skinned necks and saggy jowls and chicken wing arms? Alright, I will admit to a degree of round, but hey, I carried and birthed 3 children remember. I do have some crepe-ish skin, somewhere under my drooping eyelids, and I will admit to a few fine lines, but those are mostly on my well-worn hands. Chicken wings for arms–yeah, it doesn’t take much to get some flapping to occur under my arms, but white hair- no way! Garnier Nutrisse 5RB will never allow me to look like a snow queen.

I wonder, on the day I turn 68 and realize that at that time I am just two years shy of seventy, if I will finally be able to acknowledge feeling mentally the same age as my body tells me I am. My head consistently tells me, on these annual birthdays, that I am somewhere around 25. I used to say 18, but that’s pushing a bit these days. I’ve had too many life experiences to claim to be the mental age of a naive 18 year old.

I wonder when the mental clock will finally catch up with my chronological age. Perhaps we always imagine ourselves to be younger. Maybe it’s some sort of self-preservation mechanism, a way to stave off our mortality. If that’s the case, then today I’m going to hop back to about 40. I think that was a pretty good year.

Am I the only one who experiences this? How old are you- in your head anyway.

What does a “day off” mean?

An interesting call just came in from the coordinator of the hearing screen program. With no fanfare, just a simple and direct, “Tell me again your commitment during the week with your other job. Maranda just gave her notice.”

Maranda is the hearing screener who works during the week at my weekend location. It’s just the two of us, with my boss spending Mondays there, screening and doing administrative work. Five of the remaining six days per week she (the boss/coordinator) is at the larger facility about 10 miles away, screening and overseeing one crisis after another.

There was a moment, before I answered, where I wanted to say, “Why of course she quit. Everyone does in this rather low paying, increasingly stressful job.” But I didn’t, My boss already knows this. It doesn’t take any new hire long to realize that the time and energy involved in this work is likely never going to pay many bills. In this system, as a new hire, you have to have a firm idea when you begin that this job is likely going to be more part-time in nature, even if you work four days per week. It’s simply not a job you can support yourself, or a family, on. Maranda is apparently leaving for that very reason. Maranda lasted about four months.

So a new screener was about to be hired, but she can only work weekends. She’s a student during the week. My boss had hoped that I could move into Maranda’s work schedule and the new person could take my weekends. That can’t happen, although if it was a few years into the future I would have jumped at the opportunity. Team player that I am (?) I made the offer to cover on the two days I am free during the week: Monday and Thursday. Plus I will continue with my weekend schedule. Let’s do the math shall we–

Granddaughters Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Hearing screening Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.

I believe that equals seven full work days per week. This new arrangement begins the second week of October. It isn’t forever, but, as this system moves at the speed of a very slow mud flow, it will likely be three, or even four months before someone new is fully functional to take Maranda’s place. That’s if the boss can hire someone yesterday.

It was rather ironic that this call came today. I was sitting here, reading a book on my day off and actually feeling rather like I was wasting time. I had these vague thoughts of how much more productive I could be; of how I really didn’t need a full two days off, because I really don’t have all that much to do…

And you know what, it will be okay. Two more days per week will certainly boost my paycheck a bit. My days screening are almost never full days anyway, especially on the weekends. Sitting here on these open days makes me feel pressured to clean my house, over and over, and I barely need to clean it now. I am not a messy person. Fortunately I have a good number of scrubs so I won’t have to do laundry every other day. Both of my jobs are a fairly easy commute and I will likely miss peak traffic times anyway…

I can do this, right?

Will someone, about mid November, just take a moment to remind me what it’s like in the real world where you get a day or two off on occasion. I’m not so sure that I’ll remember what a “day off” means by then.

Have a laugh on me

After writing about the incident with Sam last weekend, and having a brief chat with Nancy from Apt 1 early in the week, I didn’t see her for days.

We aren’t buddies or anything, but we did come to some sort of mutual bonding over the entire Sam issue. Besides that, she rides the train to work, and when she comes home at night she literally has to walk down the sidewalk right past my kitchen and living room window. If I’m in the front of the apartment, I see her. It can’t be helped. If she spots me, she waves. We’re respectfully friendly, and as we are currently the only two tenants in this building, I don’t think it unusual that I sometimes notice her coming and going.

She mentioned that sometimes she walks for exercise, and I caught a glimpse of her, again walking down the sidewalk on Thursday evening. I assumed she was going for a walk.

Then I didn’t see her, at all. I was in and out Friday. The local phone book had been delivered to our front porches late Thursday. Hers was still there Friday, and Saturday. Two days worth of mail sat protruding from her mailbox as well. She has a cat. I wondered about Matt the cat. I walked down towards her apartment. She always leaves her curtains wide open I think. Matt sat in the window yesterday, staring at me forlornly.

The landlord was here yesterday, doing demolition on Sam’s old apartment. I mentioned that I was a bit concerned about Nancy and wondered if he had seen her at all while I was at work in the morning.

“Nope, haven’t seen her at all,” was his reply. So I went a little deeper into my concerns.

“It’s likely she’s just with her sister. I think they take off sometimes, short little trips, or to the casino, or somewhere…, but I’ll go check her apartment if that would help.”

So he did, and no- he didn’t find Nancy on the floor, or munched on by a starving cat named Matt. She wasn’t there and while he was trying not to snicker I know he wanted to.

I told myself to let it go, and went to work this morning determined to stop playing at the nosy neighbor syndrome.

I was home fairly early from work, and about two hours later, a car drove up. I heard two woman talking, one of them Nancy. I assumed the other was her sister. About an hour after that my text message notification beeped on my phone. The text said, in capital letters, “SHE’S ALIVE!!” It was from the landlord, who also mentioned he was headed over to clear out more junk.

I hope he enjoyed his laugh. Let’s just see if I worry about him for one instant while he saws through walls and rips up floors next door. I may not even respond if I hear any faint cries for help coming from a back bedroom…

Tuesday

I want to get my weather whining over right away, because I really have no reason to whine given what others are facing both across my state as well as to the south. It is too hot, too humid, and smoke is blanketing this area like a winter quilt. My eyes hurt, my nose itches, and I’m coughing. Plus I break out into a sweat if I walk from the kitchen to my living room. I don’t like it.

Okay, I’m done with that part.

Do you remember some of my brief mentions of Sam, the neighbor in Apt. 2? The crusty old curmudgeon. The guy who has had some sort of monopoly over the laundry room electric meter for ages. The guy who cared for his mother for years after her stroke until she died. The man who has taken over 4 months to move out of here and back to his own apartment.

Sam is out, but Sam left with a bang. Literally. Sam and his friend Eve left (we assumed) for good on Saturday. I won’t lie, Apt. 1 tenant Nancy and I had a little happy dance outside when we believed him to be gone. She has her reasons, and my reasons developed quickly as I learned just after moving in that curmudgeon or not, Sam is a controlling abuser. His control and his verbal and emotional abuse were always directed toward Eve. I don’t have to go into detail regarding the things I heard in the last month. You are all intelligent enough to figure it out. There is a backstory there, concerning Eve, but I have no idea how or why she came into the picture, nor do I know anything about her or her life. While I fear for this woman, and grieve for her in her choice to stay around this man, I also selfishly rejoiced on Saturday that he had moved on.

Then Sunday night happened.

Their car drove in and they began to haul the remaining crap from the apartment. The landlord had come over early that day. I assumed, after seeing what was left, that he had contacted Sam and told him to get the crap out, but no, Sam still had his keys and still had intentions to linger and take his time removing the leftover junk.

Eve was set to work, hauling and dumping and removing while Sam, in his typical manner, sat back, or wandered around checking for what I can only assume to be things he deems to be out of place or not meeting his demands. About 1 hour into this return visit the loud, hateful words began toward Eve. I was just beginning to text the landlord, when I heard the laundry room door open. Sam was checking (as he always had) to see if laundry had been done in the 24 hours that he had been absent. Apt. 1 Nancy, who finally felt as if she was free to use our own laundry room and not the local coin-op facility had done laundry Saturday night, after they left. She never does laundry here…ever.

Sam immediately assumed that it was me. I know because he stood outside my open kitchen window and loudly announced, “You did laundry again and DIDN’T PAY!” He moved on to call the landlord and scream the same thing to him, again outside my window. As my fingers hovered over 911 on my phone the laundry room door slammed shut and there were bellows for Eve to “come now!” The apartment door was slammed so hard I expected to see glass on the sidewalk. The car roared off around the corner and we haven’t seen Sam since.

The landlord has been back, changing locks just in case, and apologizing more than is necessary. He has a major job ahead to get that apartment ready for someone new. Sam has been threatened with police action should he appear here again. I have been told to call 911 immediately if I see him. Nancy feels bad because the use of her own laundry room led to some of this chaos. I’ve tried to assure her that Sam could and would be able to create chaos regardless of the laundry situation. I cannot begin to imagine what life will be like for Eve should she continue to stay with Sam, and I believe she will.

Apartment life in what I believed to be a small, quaint, community…