Monday, August 8, 2022

Fabulous Friends!

Hello dear people,

House drama is moving right along.  The inspectors have compiled a 20 page expose on what a dump I'm living in.  Huzzah!  The buyers, however, are only worried about the potential hazards to life and limb.  Which is good, because I was initially, trying to sell the house 'as is'.  Here's the deal, I don't want to pass on my bad juju to the next family.  Seems like bad karma.

They requested that the 2 gas leaks be fixed.  Yes.  Not zero, not one but, TWO gas leaks!  They also requested that the rusted out furnace be replaced.  Rusted out furnace with 2 gas leaks, you say?!  How about moving the water heater to safer location that has proper ventilation?  Oh, and could you please get the double lugging out of the circuit breaker so that it meets code?  So, basically, the universe is telling me that if I hadn't gotten the house inspected, I very well could have blown up this winter.  Side note, Melissa took my old dryer to get it fixed and to use at her apartment.  Apparently, that too, was a fire hazard waiting to happen.  She has decided not to test fate and buy something else.

So, we set up a time for the furnace guy to come make things less scary here.  He shows up on Tuesday, gets the furnace in but has to disconnect the a/c because they're no longer compatible.  I don't know why, I don't make the rules... So my a/c needs a new doo hickey but the guy has been given the wrong one by his distributor.  No a/c Tuesday night.  The guy tries to tell me he's having a bad year.  Buddy, you got nothing I can't top... Okay, no problem, I can handle a night with fans.  We'll be fine.  Wednesday arrives and he goes to get correct doo hickey, nope they don't have it.  Try, St Louis office.  Nope, fresh out of proper doo hickeys.  We'll have to overnight from IN.  They offer to set us up in a hotel for the night.  The house is really gross, record highs & ungodly humidity is happening.  He doesn't even want to be in my house at this point and he's a manly man that works in the heat.  Alas, the big storm hits and nothing makes it out of IN that night.  So, we're in the hotel again on Thursday.  Friday rolls around, doo hickey arrives and dude gets to work.  When I get home on Friday, all is working.  He's agreeing with me that, yeah, this place is haunted and I should high tail it out of here as fast as I can.  Every time he fixed something, the thing it was connected to wouldn't work.  We can thank my beloved for the 'creative wiring'.  Rich knew just enough to be dangerous.  The dude had to replace the furnace, re-wire the house humidifier, re-wire the thermostat & replace it.  Fix the a/c.  Move the hot water heater and drain it 3 times because every time he got it set up, a leak would spring somewhere along the line.  He fixed the gas leaks, disconnected the gas, furnace and a/c to the garage.  He could not get out of here fast enough.  The poor man wanted nothing more to do with Mantz Manor for as long as he lives.  He did show some interest in Rich's slot machine, so I gifted it to him.  Hopefully, he feels less abused now.  All this before we're even told if my house appraised for asking price.  

I can't lie, I was feeling VERY put out last week.  I had much rage and nothing to renovate.  I couldn't cook or bake or do any of the things that I love because I basically couldn't be home.  The humidity in the house had gotten so bad, we were having trouble opening and closing the doors.  And, my house plants started dropping leaves like crazy.  No bueno...  Now, I know the house is 150 years old and we've lived BIG lives here for 19 years.  Rich was doing the best he could with what he had.  But, damn, bro! WTF?!  I'm looking forward to the move being behind me.  I think once that happens, I can just miss my husband rather than be so pissed at him all the time.  I feel deep down, that's going to be essential to my healing.

Through this, I have realized just how important connections are.  I went to a TAS (The Applique Society) meeting this month.  I went to our Crazy Quilt Group meeting.  And, I'm planning on going to my first quilt guild meeting tomorrow.  Look at me, being all social!

Oh My Gosh, I almost forgot to tell you!  So, I've kept in touch with a friend from bible camp over the years on FB.  Her name is Jennifer and we met at bible camp in Junior High and y'all know how old I am.  Lost touch for many years but reconnected when FB became a thing.  She reached out to me several weeks ago that she'd be driving through STL and did I want to get together?  Well, of course I did!  In fact, I insist that she stay with me (this is important to the story).  Then, the inspectors came.  I got distracted and over whelmed.  I'm downsizing, so I have to get rid of half my stuff.  Wake up one Saturday and put a bunch of furniture on FB market place.  The only thing that sells right away is my extra bed.  I sell it on a Saturday morning.  Lay down for bed that night and start thinking about how excited I was to see Jennifer that coming Monday.  OMG!  I just sold the bed that I insisted she sleep in!  I am such a moron!!  Luckily, Hunter had a blow up mattress I could borrow.  Jennifer came to visit.  She was lovely and forgiving and was able to laugh off the whole thing.  I've decided she must be in my soul tribe because we basically just started back up where we left off more than 35 years ago.  Moral to my story.  Friends are amazing and miraculous and I live a blessed life to have so many fabulous people to hang out with.

Speaking of fabulous people!  My step-niece just moved to STL!!  I'm so excited!  We were supposed to meet for dinner last week but the storms and everything happened.  So, we're rescheduled for this week!!  Woo hoo!  Can't wait!  See?!  Lots to look forward to!

Love you, friend!  See you soon.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Holy Mother of God, Send Help

 It occurred to me this morning on my commute that I haven't checked in with everyone in awhile.  It's not for lack of stuff happening, that's for sure.

On July 1st, we had Rich's funeral.  He was interred at Jefferson Barracks with full military honors.  We only invited our core family to join us.  It was very bittersweet to see the people I love celebrating the man I love (but am still mad at).  Then we all had to rifle through his prized possessions so that his legacy (tool collection) could live on. A "good time" was not had by all but it was necessary to move forward with our healing.  The grandbabies did get to meet, though.  Damn, they're cute and both SO well behaved!  It was blistering hot and they were just as sweet as pie the whole time.

Then on the 5th I started my new job.  It's night and day from my previous job.  I under-estimated how hard it would be on my self-esteem to not know what I'm doing!  I was with Jim's Formal Wear for 10 1/2 years.  It was a fairly high pressure job but I was confident in what I was doing.  At Echelon Supply, the pressure is almost non-existent but I know absolutely nothing.  So, I feel like an idiot but no one is worried about it.  I guess that's a good thing... It's a very masculine, industrial atmosphere but my direct supervisor is a ball-busting female that I could learn a lot from.  She seems to be the only one uncomfortable with my overtly feminine energy.  For example, it seems to bother her if my nail polish and jewelry match my outfit.  My clothes are too nice and my love of organization is out of hand.  I've been referred to as Doris Day.  A personal hero, so I considered it a compliment.  It was explained to us as a whole that there is no need for a utensil drawer organizer at her house.  It all just gets dumped into a drawer together and if you're too stupid to know the difference between a fork and a spoon, you should eat somewhere else.   Okay, fair enough.  Live your sacrilegious life the way you want, I love my drawer organizers!  I'm going to give her some time to love/ appreciate me, then I'm going to break out my organizational bins and label maker.  Really throw her for a loop.  I'm not trying to imply she's mean.  She's very, very nice, funny and easy to get along with.  She just doesn't get me yet.  I'm an enigma.

Thinking it would take some time, I decided to put my house on the market the second week on the job.  I wanted to find something smaller and closer to the new office.  Spoiler alert, it did not take some time.  It was on the market for 30 hours when we received an offer.  Yikes!  So, I placed an offer on a little 1959 ranch-style (very Doris Day) in Mehlville.  Double yikes.  In case you're wondering, the new house is half the size of the current but has a higher market value... The taxes in MO are lower and of course the maintenance of a house half the size should be easier for me to handle, not to mention the fuel cost of commuting.  So, I still feel like I'm making the right decision.

Queue inspection drama: So the buyers requested an inspection, we got all cleaned up & prepped for it.  I made the mistake of watching the security footage of the event.  The buyers invited people to see the house, plus the numerous inspectors doing the various tests.  It felt very invasive.  That night I get a text from the real estate agent wanting to know why we cut the water to the upstairs toilet.  What?!  I go see what's up, sure enough, Ezra's water is turned off to their toilet.  Wild speculation and panic ensues.  I was worried they would think I was trying to hide a problem that I was actually unaware of.  Turns out,  the toilet was making a noise that Ezra found annoying, so they shut off the water and forgot...  Nothing wrong with the toilet.  Holy Mother of God, send help.  Tonight is the inspection of the new place.  We'll see what that brings.

Are you wondering how I'm handling the stress?  Here's a fun story.  Yesterday afternoon I had a migraine but didn't take my meds because I knew I had to drive home.  By the time I made it to Troy, I could barely see straight, ready to vomit.  Took my meds and laid down.  Shit!  Where'd I leave my phone?  I must have left it at the office.  Can't send any paperwork or pics for moving quotes, need my phone for that.  Can't send copy of ID to the mortgage company, need my phone for that.  Crap!  My phone is my alarm clock.  Okay, download an alarm on to my laptop but it requires the laptop to not go to sleep or be closed.  Okay, okay, we can work with this.  Just plug it in.  Wake up at 1am worried that the alarm didn't work.  Double crap, the laptop isn't charging while it's plugged in.  It's going to be dead by 6am.  Never forget your phone at work again, Heather Mantz!  Order a back up alarm that plugs in the wall like the one you just donated to Good Will last week.  Can't go back to sleep now!  What if you don't wake up in time for your brand new job?!  7am rolls around, I'm packing the car for work, oh look!  There's my phone plugged into the car!  Sweet Baby Jesus, send help!

Next is to gather all the paperwork.  Get rid of half my stuff.  Get those quotes from the moving companies.  Change states and continue with my new life...

Blessed Archangel Michael, send help!

Monday, April 25, 2022

How Many Things Can Go Wrong, Let Us Count The Ways...

Life unsupervised sucks so far.  I am wholly unprepared for the sheer volume of crap that I've had to deal with since January.

Let's start with the fact that I work from home.  First, Rich was always in and out needing my attention.  Yes, being an annoying distraction, but bringing a lot of fun to my day.  To be loved brings beauty to your life & gave me so much more purpose that I realized it did.  It's insane to me that all that is over.  Back to working from home, I've had to replace the modem and router because my internet connection was crap.  And, it's Prom Season and I'm working 60 hours a week with said modem/ router.  Being alone 95% of the time is probably not the healthiest thing I could be doing but it's where I'm at right now.  I went from Chrome Cast to Fire Stick because the TV wasn't able to stream anything.  All I wanted was to watch some GD Top Chef, is that too much to ask?!  That whole paragraph is a mess but I'm leaving it because, I too am a mess.

The garage: we had to hire an electrician to re-wire a thermostat that went haywire.  Then the pushbutton key pad died and locked me out of the garage.  After a small panic attack, I remembered to look in the jar of extra keys & found the correct key.  FYI: the key labeled "Garage" was not, in fact, the key to the garage...  Hunter had to reprogram the keypad to get it to work again once the battery was replaced.  Speaking of the key jar, I have figured out at least 50% of the keys in question.

We sold 5 of Rich's project cars/ trucks.  Only 1 of them ran, the rest had to be towed away by other crazy car guys.  We could not find one of the titles.  If he were alive, he'd argue that he gave it to me to file.  And, I'd argue that if that were true, it would have been where is was supposed to be.  The muffler and catalytic converter had to be replaced and the A/C fixed in my own car.

I mowed my first lawn.  Yep, I'm 50 years old and I had never mowed a lawn.  I couldn't get the mower started on my own because it was also a "project".  Ezra got it started but it was so heavy and hard to maneuver, I could barely use my arms the next couple days.  The mower has been replaced.

One of the bathroom sinks had a leak.  Hunter replaced the faucets and stopped the leak.

I accidentally programed my house thermostat to no longer recognize that I had a heater...

Having to switch bills into my name, figuring out who I owe & how much... is a nightmare.  SO MUCH paperwork.  Went to the bank & the manager made a joke about me coming into a lot of money... LOST MY SHIT.  Literally hysterical, couldn't drive myself home because I was having such a bad breakdown.  Then had to get back on the phone for work (was on my lunch break) and pretend that tuxedos actually matter and somebody's delayed shipment is important to me.  

Earlier today, I got a notice from the IRS saying there was a mistake on my return and I owe more money.  Last week, I started getting the hospital bills.  Tonight's dilemma is a broken dryer.  If Rich were here, he'd get a new heating element or something & rig it to work another 20 years.  I'm pretty sure it came with us from CA.  Is this how expensive independence is?  Because it sucks.  I do not make enough money to shell out thousands of dollars on repairs/ equipment every month.

Okay, I think I'm done whining for now.  For those of you who stuck around for it, thanks.  For those who bailed on me, don't blame you a bit!  I hope everyone had a lovely Easter & is enjoying the spring.  Here's a picture of my wild bunch from Easter.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Not So- Solo Travel

In March, Ezra, Patrick and I went to Chicago for a family B'nai Mitvah.  It was not long after Rich had passed but I was sick of myself and thought a change of scenery would do me good.  Also, I was looking forward to seeing family.  Ezra & Patrick had originally wanted to drive up on their own so that they could do their own thing and I could do mine.  Spoiler alert, that's not how it worked out.  The night before we were to leave, we had another snow storm and they got nervous about driving in the snow/city.  So, we got a late start and car pooled.

First order of business was the SMART Museum at U of Chicago.  The website said they had a featured artist but I didn't expect he would be the only artist in the WHOLE museum.  Yes, art is subjective, but let me just say, it wasn't to my liking... these little statues were the most interesting thing there...

The architecture on campus was so beautiful!  We wandered around for awhile imagining we were at Hogwarts.  We ducked into the Renaissance Society and watched the DUMBEST student movie ever made... in my opinion.  They had me sitting in a bean bag to watch it... very surreal.  I did conquer my fear of stairs to go to the top floor, only to run into the elevator entrance when I got to the top.  Mind you, it was 20 degrees out, so at least I was in a warm building being confused to tears.
Saturday was Venice's B'nai Mitzah.  They go to a beautiful synagogue that is across the street from Obama's house.  A personal highlight for me was to bypass the presidential barricade to get to the parking lot.  My rebellions are small but they exist.   I only had a small break down before attending my first family event without Rich.  He hated Chicago and would have been a total pain in the butt the whole time but he still should have been there to annoy me.

This was my first Jewish ceremony and was a little surprised by the length.  Something they have in common with Catholics, apparently.  Venice did a fantastic job and so did their parents.  Gib is my oldest sister's son but we're basically the same age.  We try to keep in touch as much as possible but Covid has really put a damper on our visits and it seems like the kids are growing up in the blink of an eye.
Obama's house.  He was not in residence at the time.  Imagine how annoying it is to live next door to the former president.  People gawking, just trying to have a pizza delivered would be complicated.  Ugh!
After the luncheon, we high tailed it to the Art Institute via the bus.  It's worth mentioning this was the same weekend as the St. Patrick's Day parade.  We had the honor of sharing the very full bus with people that were ready to party!
I LOVE art museums.  LOVE.  I love the atmosphere, the smell, the subdued noise levels, the humidity control.  I love all of it.
If you've never been to the Art Institute, their top floor is dedicated to the Impressionists, which is totally my jam!
We only had an hour & half before closing, so we FLEW through the exabits.

Downstairs, they have the COOLEST exhibit of miniatures.  We could have spent the whole time admiring just that.
Seriously, these are amazing!
These are little boxes, maybe 18"x18" at most.
The detail to scale is mind blowing!  I could really use some of that skill in my work.

They also had a William Morris exhibit.  We snuck in there in the last 5 minutes of the day.

Beauty in the home for the masses.

Patrick was less impressed with the art than Ezra and I were but he tolerated us well.

On Sunday, we decided to swing by the Museum of Science and Industry before heading home.  We were finally in Patrick's arena on this one.
I was so surprised by all the miniatures to be found in Chicago.  You could do a whole weekend just looking at tiny things.
What can I say, even at the science museum, I was only interested in the art.
I mean, a Fairy House decorated with real jewels!

So, it wasn't the solo travel I had originally planned on but maybe it was better for me not to be alone.  Ezra still lives with me and it's been great having them around.  It would be really easy for me to become a crazy hermit lady that doesn't speak to humans regularly.  I'm imagining the Penguin coming out of the sewers in Batman Returns.  I'll just waddle out of the dark corner, stains all over my clothes, food falling out of my open mouth, yelling at people to get off my's not too much of a stretch of the imagination...

Any who!  Chicago hasn't seen the last of me.  I just bought tickets to see Duran Duran this August!  My BFF cousin Denise and I are going to live out our teenage dreams to see the boys live!  We went to Power Station in the 80s but never got to see the Fab Five.  My inner 15 year old is peeing herself right now!

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Improvise, Adapt, Overcome

Hello, friends.  I thought I'd talk about the TX road trip this time.  All year we had been planning a trip to New Orleans in September.  The week before our trip, Hurricane Ida hit and took out a lot of NOLA.  Instead of canceling, we decided to pivot and go west to TX instead.  We were going to keep our flight to Dallas, drive through Tyler and down to Pineville but they canceled our flight as soon as we arrived at the airport.  Okay, pivot #2, we grab a rental car and decide to drive to Pineville, instead.

Ten hours later (quicker than the next flight), we made it to the fabulous Purdyville.  I have a lot of siblings but Luke and I are the only two that share our same Mom and Dad.  Basically, he's special and so is his wife Lillian.
The next day, we went to Avery Island and the Tabasco Museum.  Very cool place if you've never been.  No husbands were hurt in the making of this next photo.  Girl!  Look at those white legs!

It was a wonderful, relaxing day.  I got to hang out with my big brother and enjoy the sweltering heat.
Avery Island is owned by the McIlhenny family and they've turned it into a nature preserve.  It's just a really beautiful, peaceful area.  Don't you just LOVE the live oaks?!
You do have to keep your eyes open for alligators and such but we didn't see any.
We made a quick trip into Lafayette for a late lunch.  Lafayette is really cute and I wish we'd been able to spend more time there.
Luke took us to Spoonbill for a late lunch.  The loaded fries are AMAZING!  Rich liked his burger so much, he bought the t-shirt.  The true sign that some place passed his food test.
We decided to check into our hotel after lunch only to find that the state of LA canceled our reservation without informing us.  Apparently, they were reserving all the rooms in a certain parameter from NOLA for emergency workers.  I get it, but dang!  Luckily, the hotel felt bad for us and pretended we were first line workers so we wouldn't be homeless for the night.  Then we decided to stop for gas before meeting Lillian for dinner.  Guess what!  95% of the gas stations in Lafayette were now out of gasoline!

Poor Lillian had to wait an hour or more for us at Prejean's while we tried to un**ck our situation.  Rich was able to finally get the Cajun meal he'd been looking forward to.  They even had a live band while we were there.  It all worked out in the end but we were emotionally exhausted when we finally called it a night.

So TX traffic; it's crazy.  The minute we entered the state, it was constant construction and tons of people.  Our next stop was NASA in Houston.  Houston has LOTS of bridges.  LOTS of bridges.  I'm terrified of heights.  Between the construction, the bridges, Rich's aggressive driving, I had a melt down.  Rich loved to tease people.  He teased everyone. If he liked you, he was giving you shit about something.  He chose the wrong day to tease me about my fear of heights.  We had our final fight in a residential neighborhood right outside of NASA.  Then we went to Whataburger for lunch.  We both needed to decompress.  Also, I wasn't too impressed with Whataburger.  Not because of the fight...

The afternoon at NASA was amazing!  We had such a good time there.

We took the Apollo 13 Mission Control tour.  Houston, we have a problem.  The tour was in a tower, with 4 flights of stairs.  Dang TX and their love of heights... Yes, I wore Star Wars to NASA, I'm a nerd with a fear of heights and a fascination with outer space.  I am what I am.

After our eventful day, we went to a random restaurant down the street from our hotel.  Frenchie's is a hole in the wall that doesn't look like much from the outside, or inside for that matter, but has the best Italian food I've eaten in my entire life!  The owners spoke Italian, they were hosting a priest from Italy.  The meal & atmosphere were perfection. 
We finished the evening with a walk around the near by Nassau Bay.  It was so beautiful.

Next stop, Austin.  We had to stop at Buckee's or they would have kicked us out of TX.
Then, In n' Out or Rich would have left me on the side of the road.
Second stop was the Capital building.  The grounds and architecture were lovely.  Rich  made best friends with all the armed guards because he never met a stranger.

We toured downtown Austin, did some shopping.
Rich insisted I buy a pair of boots at Allen's.  Bethany and I go line dancing pretty often and he wanted me to have appropriate footwear.  
We did some YouTube research to find the best BBQ in Austin.  We watched a guy cry because Valentina's was so good.  So, naturally, we had to find it.  It's a bit out of town and we rolled in as they were closing!!  They took pity on us and let us buy whatever they had left and it was delicious.  Not sure why the guy was crying, but it was really good.  And, owned by a former Marine, so Rich was going to love it no matter what.
Second day in Austin, we hiked McKinney Falls State Park.  My personal favorite of the whole trip.

Not sure what I was proud of here, but I guess I was feeling like a bad ass.

We stopped for lunch at the side of the road and had such good food!  Our waitress was the only one working, she didn't speak English, but she served some damn good tacos!
Buoyed by our delicious lunch, we decided to cook ourselves with a stroll around Lady Bird Lake.

Rich treated me to another amazing meal at 1818 Fusion.  We were WAY under dressed for the fancy experience & I was clearly over heated but the food and entertainment were fantastic.

We drove through Waco after leaving Austin.  We stopped at the In N' Out for lunch but they had a plumbing emergency.  So, to waste time, we went to the Dr Pepper Museum.  I ended up really enjoying it.

I thought it was interesting that Vernors Ginger Soda was invented the same year my house was built.  I love me some Vernors.

Plumbing emergency fixed, Rich got his Double Double, all was well...  I know, we were across the street from The Silos but does this man look like he wanted to spend time in a crowd, shopping.  No, no he does not.
We rolled into Ft Worth in time to see the Bull Run at the Stockyards.

We attended the rodeo on 9/11.  They had a lovely memorial, not a dry eye in the place.  We had plans on going to a honky tonk as a grand finale to the week but decided in the end, we were both too exhausted.
The next morning, we had some time to explore without the crowds.
Rich, trying to sneak in to a brothel...
On our way to the airport, we stopped at Grapevine, TX.  It's a cute little town.

And, they had an In N' Out... 
We had concerns that our flight home would be canceled and we'd have to drive home but we got to STL without a hitch.  Found our car in the hotel parking lot right were we left it, except someone had relieved us of the catalytic converter.  So, we drove home with what sounded like, no muffler and Rich cussing up a storm.

In honor of our trip Rich bought a brass plaque that says Improvidus Quod Victum.  Improvise, Adapt, Overcome but not quite right because it should be Impovidus Apto Quod Victum.  He was probably paying by the letter and saved money by leaving out a word.  And that, my friends, is how two polar opposite people lived together for 29 years and raised 4 kids without killing each other, and managing to have a lot of fun along the way.

I filed a claim on our canceled flight and was denied.  So, I forgot all about it.  The month after he died, they emailed me and said I had a credit on flights but I had 30 days to use it... Well, my husband had just died and I wasn't planning on traveling, so I let it go.  Now they've emailed again that they're extending my credit to the end of the year.  I think I'm going to take myself to Boston this fall.  We'll see how that goes!