Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cool Pic and Savings

Not too long ago I stopped to get some gas at the local Exxon / Flash Foods in Fayetteville. For those who might not know, you can get a little Flash card (free) and save 2 cents per gallon at any Flash Food gas station in the county (and beyond). There are three that I know about, one in Fayetteville at the Hwy 314 / 85 split, one at Gingercake Rd. / Hwy 54 and one in Peachtree City at Crosstown Rd. / Hwy 74.
There, that's my money savings tip of the day. Or the month. Possibly the year.

Back to the photo. While I was pumping gas I started noticing birds flitting about, heading toward the store. There's not much to do while pumping gas other than watch the pump if you want to stop at a certain dollar amount, or stare at the passing cars, people and whatever else catches your fancy.

I enjoyed watching the birds zipping around much more than the cars.

I think you'll get a kick out of where the birds were nesting. They had plenty to eat on the ground I'd imagine (although they do keep a very neat and clean gas station... even the bathroom was extra decent!).

What are the chances?

Stopped into the Fayetteville Post Office earlier today to do a few things. Met the nicest people! First, the people in line. I've lived in a lot of places in the world and have always managed to find good people. However, it just seems that the nicest, friendliest live in Fayette County.

It's easy to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger almost anywhere in this town. People still hold doors open for others, most will let someone into their lane while driving and we just seem to generally be a courteous bunch.

I got into a conversation with two of the ladies working at the Post Office. I was opening a new P.O. box so had to be there for a bit. They were so helpful and nice.

While talking to Sandra she noticed the birth date on my drivers license. Turns out she's a fellow Gemini, born six days earlier than me. We chatted a bit about the fun of having multiple personalities. Gemini is the twin and we're "allowed" two personalities. We concurred that Gemini's had more than just two.

Then, of course (well, it's an 'of course' if you're familiar with the whole astrology thing, compatible signs and all that gobble-de-goop), she mentioned her husband was a Libra. Well, turns out my husband is a Libra also. And, to top it all off, our husbands birthdays are six days apart. Her husband, while younger than mine, was born six days earlier than mine.

What are the chances?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas shopping

Thank goodness I'm finished. This year because my husband had surgery I didn't get any early shopping in and had to do a rush job this weekend.

Everyone has stuff on sale. Except Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond. They are also the only ones with any decent Christmas stuff left. However, given that they both said it's all going on sale the day after Christmas, who'll shop now?

I heard on the radio as I headed to the stores that stores across the nation are doing their after-Christmas sales before Christmas this year. I guess Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond didn't get the memo.

Lines are long and there's not much left to pick through. Seems that a lot of folks waited to the last minute to shop. Luckily I did some shopping on-line and the rest consisted of things that were in plentiful supply.
I did run into a problem trying to find ornaments. I buy everyone in the family an ornament each year that has some meaning for them. Basketball Santa for my nephew, gardening ornament for my mom and so on and so forth. All the little ones get a tiny tree complete with decorations. Each year I add some more miniature somethings to the tree. Slim pickings this year on the ornaments. Ah well, they just won't quite be as good as usual this year. However, I did make some pottery ornaments, pulled 'em out of the kiln this morning. One for all.

I can just imagine what tomorrow's last minute rush is going to be like! Even if I find I overlooked something, I'm not leaving the house tomorrow!!!

Merry Christmas to all and a big thanks to all for your kind comments and thoughts regarding Greg's surgery. He's doing well and will be out and about and better than ever soon!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Curb Peal...

Once again I skirted the strange curb that some sadist stuck in the middle of the road as you leave the Wal-Mart in Peachtree City... Anyone who has shopped at Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Office Depot or other stores in that shopping area who's turned left when leaving onto Hwy. 54 has noted that high curb.

It's a natural inclination when making a left to cut across at a slight angle. Based on the number of black tire marks on the curb, I'd say that quite a few have run up on the curb.

During the day it blends into the pavement. During the night it's impossible to see until you're right on it.

All they have to do to make sure that another fender isn't dented, another tire or worse, side of a car, isn't swiped, is to put some reflectors around the bottom. It has to be a foot high, so it should be easy to find something to stick on there. Maybe a sign on the end? Some concrete plant holders?

I think it's another conspiracy. The people who put that in are in cahoots with the auto repair shops on Huddleston Road. Or they've teamed up with the guys who used to video tape us as we slid into our ditch to get the newspaper (see previous blog).

I know someone had to be snickering as they put that bunker into the middle of the road.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Free newspapers, ditches and conspiracies

A vast majority of families in Fayette County have a free newspaper tossed in their yard each week. Some receive two, some three. There are two freebies that go out on Thursday, one on Wednesday.

All lay claim to a circulation of around 26,000 papers I think. I "assume" (but don't know) that the number claimed includes the stacks left at the Chamber of Commerce, libraries, local gyms and other places. I "assume" (but don't know) that the number includes the ones placed in boxes for sale around the county.

The point of today's missive isn't about the actual circulation.

It's about ditches.

We only get one paper on our street each week. I'm not sure how the paper's break down the area they distribute their free papers. I've lived in four locations in the county and have only received one of the three papers no matter where I live. Same one. I know others who receive different papers, so I'm not doubting for a minute that some are getting out, I just don't know the areas they've chosen to toss their papers.

We have a wide, very wide, driveway.

On either side of the driveway, we have ditches.

Each week, without fail, the free newspaper ends up in the ditch.

It's a ditch conspiracy.

The people across the street have ditches. The people to the left and right have ditches.

I've been watching. Their paper ends up on their driveways the vast majority of the time. When it isn't on the driveway, it isn't in the ditch either, it's on the grassy part of the yard behind the ditch. No climbing down in ditches to get it for our neighbors, oh no.

It's a ditch conspiracy. It's a game. They singled us out because we have the widest driveway on the street. Ours should be the easiest to hit.

If I didn't mind a trashy yard, I'd let the newspapers pile up in the ditch.

I know the person who tosses out the papers must live somewhere nearby. They zip down the road early, early, toss our paper into the ditch. Then they go home and sleep for a few hours. They know our routine by now. After all, they've been tossing it that same ditch for the past four years...

They sit somewhere safe, with their binoculars, or better yet, their camera, and wait for us to slide down into the ditch to get the paper. Somewhere there is a YouTube video with nothing on it but people like us slipping and sliding down into a ditch to get a soggy plastic wrapped paper.

All across the county, paper delivery people are watching their chosen victims as they tumble and contort to try and reach that plastic wrapped paper. Maybe they sit around at special occasions showing their favorite videos. Maybe they have paper delivery contests for the most trouble, the funniest or the most dangerous attempt to get the paper.

We may be slow, but we finally figured out a way to thwart their Candid Camera moment. We have a rake that we now use to grab the paper out of the ditch.

So there wicked paper tossing video making delivery person. That's the last time you'll win a video contest with us in it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Life without Internet… and cable… AKA: Cable Gremlins

I’ll freely admit that I have no idea what I’d do with myself if someone took my computers away. I get up every morning and, after fixing my first cup of hot tea, I check my emails. I write my blogs. I check my news feeds. Then I get to work.

My main business (the Fayette Front Page and the Georgia Front Page) revolve around computers. Internet access is a must.

So, imagine my displeasure when the weather got cold and I lost my Internet. And cable. When we had our first cold snap this year everything went down. I didn’t associate it with the cold at first. When I called first thing in the morning they said there was an area outage. It went off around 2 a.m., was back around 10 or so.

You expect that to happen on occasion. Things break down, accidents happen.

A few days later it happened again. Out around 2, still down when I got up. I called. They said it was another area outage. I was getting just a little, tiny, tad bit miffed but again, things happen, you expect to lose services at times.

The next day. It happened again. Temps dropped down to the 30s and our cable and Internet went out. Time for a service call because now they can’t find that there had ever been an area outage. Geez.

Our cable was just going out and then coming back on when it felt like it. I noted that it went back after the sun rose over the tree tops and hit the cable pole.

Hmmm, sound like the cold to you?

Well, let’s skip forward a full month. As I type this our cable and Internet are out for the tenth or eleventh time. Except now it’s getting more interesting. It went out last night at 10 p.m. and it’s still out.

We have cell phone numbers for the area cable maintenance guy and the area supervisor. We call them when it goes out. They zip over here to try and track down the problem.

So far they’ve rewired everything from the pole to the house. Twice. They’ve moved things, upgraded this or that, replaced things. It’s still happening.

We have the guys dropping everything and getting over here in 15 minutes now. They are all stumped.

The supervisor was over here last time. He climbed the pole, started checking things and voila it came back on by itself again. He was a little frustrated because it needs to be out for them to track down the problem.

I think we have a cable gremlin.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Night in Newnan Part 2: The CHAIR....

Oh man. I know everyone reading this has spent at least part of a night in one of those contraptions they have at hospitals for the family to "sleep" on. I've tested my fair share over the years.

Last Friday I met the monster of all monsters. This chair must have been borrowed from an Inquisition era torture chamber.

It was narrow. With arms.

The back let down... about six inches. Most hospital chairs allow you to stretch out flat so you can have the illusion of being in a bed. Not so with this contraption. Forget trying to balance a pillow on the plastic back... you have to hold it up with your head or your hands.

Typical chairs have some semblance of cushioning. They may be vinyl, but there's usually a nice thick pad of cushion under it. Not so with this chair. It was maybe 3 inches thick. One step up from rock hard. I have the sore hips to prove it.

The bottom did open up to keep my legs propped up. However... you knew there was going to be a however, didn't you? However... it stopped right at my ankles. Which meant that all night long my feet hung in limbo off the edge. The nice square edge of the "cushion" cut right into my ankles periodically cutting off circulation. I remedied that by getting an extra pillow to put under my feet. My feet were slightly up in the air, but given my overall state of high discomfort, that was minor.

OK, could have been worse, right? Welllll.... I haven't told you about the piece that connected the foot rest to the chair. You'd think it would have been a solid piece so your upper legs would have something to rest on. Nope. Not in this device. The foot rest was connected to the chair by a piece of vinyl or plastic that didn't stretch tight, it hung down in a nice curve. Which meant that from the top of my hips to knees were suspended in the air. Yep. Hard to believe they expected someone to rest in the chair...

I overcame that obstacle with another pillow. It fit nicely in the void, although it was exactly the kind of pillow that had any give to it, so my lower body was resting on a rolling hill.

Did I mention the crinkly plastic covered hard pillows?

I know in my last post I wrote something about the temperature. Sweltering. At least until somewhere in the 2 or 3 o'clock time frame. All of a sudden the temperature dropped into the frozen zone. It felt SO good. For an hour or so. Then I must have drifted off for a bit because when I next became aware of my surroundings, it was back up to 75. I would have believed I'd dreamed the cooler temps, but I know I slept no longer than 15 minutes at a pop.

Between the nurse stopping in, the alerts from all the medical equipment in surrounding rooms, Greg needing things and THE CHAIR, I was a zombie with out any hope of rest.

No matter how bad I was feeling, it was hard to grumble given Greg's suffering.

He's doing better now, so I am taking time to vent...

We both made it through the night.

After a night of torture, I looked forward to breakfast. Surely they'd have something simple like some scrambled eggs, grits and maybe a selection of toasts (I don't do white bread).

No such luck.

My choices were pre-made biscuits with either egg and ham, egg and sausage and I think maybe egg and bacon. No egg biscuits. They has a little menu that said they offered a breakfast burrito with egg and cheese. However, when I asked, I was told tough luck, not serving it.

I went back to the vending machines to see if possibly, possibly someone had added something other than chicken sandwiches and other similar fare. They had grits in a container, but you had to add water and nuke it. It just seemed like too much trouble to go try and find some water somewhere, especially since I'd tried them before and didn't like 'em.

We were leaving that day, figured I'd probably be home in time for lunch so I'd hold out.

Except... we didn't get out by lunch.

The doctor was supposed to make his rounds in the morning, or so they said, but as it turned out, he was in surgery. We didn't see him until late afternoon. He was just a bit miffed as supposedly the nurse was supposed to have unhooked Greg from all the contraptions that morning and the physical therapist was supposed to have come by and helped him walk. The doctor was just stopping by to double check and say goodbye.

We had to wait while they tracked down a therapist. Still hot. Still a tiny room. No one ever said anything else about getting us into one of the bigger rooms after that first initial burst of nice thoughts. I don't know how they managed to get the bed in the room in the first place. Every time I wanted to do something, like help Greg eat, I had to move something into the hall it seemed...

Which reminds me. I almost forgot GREG's ordeal with the food. He's a type 2 diabetic and has a heart condition. We went through the whole spiel when we first got there, talked about diet, etc., etc.

His first meal? Roast beef with gravy, a white roll, white rice, cooked carrots. He's not supposed to eat red meat. He's not supposed to eat white bread or white rice. Cooked carrots are OK, but given he'd just had surgery that involved his throat he had extreme difficulty swallowing so the carrot's didn't work. Dessert was sugar-free sorbet. He managed with that.

Breakfast? Eggs, which are OK. White bread, a no-no. And, bacon. He's not supposed to eat bacon either. Promise butter, which was good. Sugar free jam, which was good. Orange juice. Another no-no for type 2 diabetics.

By lunch time I'd mentioned to someone that we weren't very happy about the food (very nicely) so they had someone stop in to allow us to choose. You didn't choose individual items, you had a choice of this grouping or that grouping. Every single grouping had stuff on it that was on his dietary list of can't do's (this is per his doctor, and per all the books I've read on heart and /or diabetes...). Anyway, the lady was nice enough to let us select one item and ditch the rest. She brought us extra fruit trying to be nice. Appreciated the thought, but they were all in a sugar syrup. Oh well...

All's well that ends well right? Greg is doing great. The surgeon was great. The people (except the last nurse) were great. I know that Piedmont just bought the Newnan hospital and they're working on improving things. I know there's a new hospital in the works and that at some point in the future Newnan will be blessed with a good hospital.

I also know that when my time comes to get some procedure or operation done, I'll suffer for however long it takes to make sure I can have it done here, in Fayette County, at OUR Piedmont Hospital. I'm spoiled and I'll freely and happily admit it. Greg concurs. He was in debilitating pain, but after his experience in Newnan, he said he'd have been willing to gut it out a little longer.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Night in Newnan...

Greg (my husband) had to have some surgery last Friday. The doctor operates in Fayette and in Newnan, however as it turned out we'd have had to wait at least an extra month or so to get into Fayette for the operation. He was in tremendous pain so we chose to go to Piedmont Newnan Hospital to get it over with...

I'll say up front the surgeon and all of the people except one were absolutely wonderful. Great attitudes, very helpful, couldn't have been better.

Everything else stunk.

Really stunk.

Started nice... they called and did the pre-registration over the phone to save us time. Then, when we got there, they did it all over again. Exactly the same questions. Re-typed. No biggie, just silly redundancy, no time saver.

Then they said the operation was moved from 7:30 a.m. to noon. I thought that was great. Still the surgeon's first op of the day, but we wouldn't be getting up at some pre-dawn hour to get there. Nice.

Except... we got there at 11 like we were told. At 12:30 we were still waiting. Somewhere near one they called Greg back to get started. We said our goodbyes and then Greg's kids, my Dad and I went down to wait in the "good" waiting room. The one with the snack machines with not one healthy option. Hey, it's a hospital, nutrition isn't high on anyone's list...

A few minutes before 2 they called to let me know they were getting ready to start the operation.

My Dad and I decided to grab a bite to eat. Turned out the cafeteria was closed for renovation.

However, they had a "Magic Room" which served as the temporary cafeteria. OK, I could deal with that, just wanted something to eat...

Walked in, saw two tables with a white tablecloth cover. On it sat a couple of chafing dishes. One held beenie-weenies or something similar, one held greasy green beans, another had white rice, then there were some interesting looking rolls and tons of desserts in plastic containers.

I don't eat meat. I don't do white rice. I'd have been happy to find a salad, but no such luck. We left. Thankfully Greg's kids had opted to go out to eat and they were able to bring something back for us. But I had at least two meals to go before we left the hospital. Surely the nighttime offering would be better!

At 3 they called to say it'd be another half an hour to an hour before they finished up, all looked good.

At 4:10 they called to say all finished. The doc stopped by, said all went well, etc., etc.

At 5 I happened to see Greg wheeling by heading to his room and zipped out to follow. They couldn't get the bed into the room. Banged up against the door. Luckily my brother-in-law was there to help.

They had one room left on the floor as we were one of the last ones there. They said they had a call in to try and get him into a larger room. I was so fixed on Greg that it didn't exactly register. However, when I did have a minute to look around I realized we were in a room that was just a tad bigger than a coffin. There was room on each side for the usual contraptions and, if you were skinny, a person. There was a non-working furnace type thing hanging on the wall below the window that restricted one side.

On the other, if you opened the bathroom door you hit the bed. Or had a good chance of knocking the machines over.

I could deal with it. Wasn't even sure I wanted to try to move him since they had such difficulty getting him in the door. I mean, we were only going to be there overnight...

While the kids were still there, I zipped down to the not-so-magic room to see what I could get for dinner. Oh boy, oh boy. Fried chicken fingers. French fries. White bread. Desserts.

I passed again and called some friends.

It was winter. However, it was equator hot in the room. 75 degrees. Yep, 75. The thermostat was set on 65. I scooted it down to 60. Temperature didn't waver. We sweltered. I asked for a fan.

Five hours later, after checking on it a few times I saw someone walking down the hall with a fan. I followed it and literally snatched it from her hands. Greg was dripping, uncomfortable and miserable.

Overheard the nurses talking about staffing. They were short handed. No tech for the night. Which simply meant the nurse would have to do the stats, empty cath bags, take blood pressures, etc. A little later I heard that they were also short another person (an assistant of some sort).

Luckily, we had a fabulous night nurse who was so good it didn't matter. Her toe was broken which made it a bit difficult for her to walk around. Not once did she complain. She answered every question and was just super. She kept us supplied with ice (much needed given the sweltering heat in the room).

Ahh... but this tale is not over... in my next installment, I'll tell you about the torture chair, breakfast and the day of agony...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Landscape Designer's Drought Survival Guide: Tips for helping your landscape survive future drought conditions

Article Courtesy of Hollingsworth Design Group, Fayetteville, GA.

The drought of 2007 will certainly be remembered by Georgians and the residents of our neighboring southern states for many years to come. It seems like daily I hear someone say something like "I've never seen Horton Reservoir so low." or" Have you seen Lake Kedron?" To say we need rain is a gross understatement. This drought of historic proportions has put our state's rainfall total at 15" below normal for the year. State and local officials are working hard to protect our precious water resources and we residents are trying to conserve wherever we can.

With statewide bans on outdoor watering our landscapes are suffering. At times like these we are reminded that taking a few steps to conserve water in our landscapes before a drought hits really pays off. Mulching planting beds, core aerating the lawn, water reclamation and sprinkler system optimization are just a few ways we can do just that.

Mulching and Aeration

During the winter months most plantings including lawns need very little water. For the most part winter rainfall is sufficient. Supplemental watering with sprinkler systems is rarely needed for established plant material. Plants need moisture in the winter to in large part, act as an insulator. That's right, when the air temperature drops below freezing, a hydrated plant will remain above 25 degrees fare height. If a plant is not hydrated and the air temperature plunges to 10 or 20 degrees below freezing, the plant will also get that cold. This is when we start loosing plant material. Keeping plants hydrated prior to freezing temperatures is a good idea.

But what can we do during a watering ban to help our plants survive frigid temps?
One suggestion is to apply a sufficient layer of mulch around your plantings to help them retain moisture. The mulch acts like a barrier that protects the subterranean moisture from evaporating via sun and wind exposure. Increase your lawn's ability to absorb water by core-aerating. Aeration sends spikes into the soil throughout your lawn and creates pathways for water to travel below the surface compared to just soaking in from the top.

Water Reclamation

Water reclamations methods from the past are making a come-back. Many Fayette residents are now installing rain barrels and cisterns. Rain captures can be stored and used later to water plants, wash the car, etc.

Rain barrels are above-ground containers that are connected to the home's gutter system via the downspout. You might be amazed how much water travels through your gutters during a short rain shower.

An advanced water reclamation is the cistern. Used for thousands of years by many different cultures, this "old school" approach offers plenty of modern benefits. A cistern is a large, underground tank that stores water collected from the gutter down spouts. A series of buried pipes carry rain water from the downspouts to the underground reservoir. A 110volt pump provides pressurize water flow water spigots above ground when water is needed. Cisterns come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They range in capacity from about 500 - 3,000 gallons or more. Prices start around $2,500 for a standard system installed.

Sprinkler System Optimization

Sprinkler systems are wonderful tools that when utilized properly allow us to grow beautiful landscapes that would not otherwise be possible. Manufactures of sprinkler components have provided an array of products designed to optimize efficiency and conserve water.

Unfortunately, many systems are not installed to take advantage of these advances in technology and many homeowners are not educated on the proper use of their system. Consequently, a lot of water is wasted.

During the growing season, the average home in Fayette County will use thousands of gallons of water each week if it runs just three times. If you have a sprinkler system, consider implementing the following suggestions to maximize your conservation effort.

*Install a rain sensor to avoid running the sprinkler during or to shortly after a rain shower.
*If your are having significant runoff of sprinkler water during operation, it indicates that your run times are too long or the soil is compacted and not absorbing the water and should be aerated.
*Using a rain gauge, calculate the amount of water being delivered to a zone based on the run time. Lawns require 1" of water per week and shrubs approximately 1/3" per week.
*The average sprinkler head operates best at 55 psi. The pressure coming through your county water meter can be double that number. Install a pressure regulator and adjust to the proper psi.
*Hire a certified sprinkler company to inspect your system and make sure is operating properly.

It will rain again

Hopefully the drought will end soon. The National Weather Service has released predictions for rain fall levels for late Winter and Spring 2008. They anticipate normal rainfall amounts to return for our area. Hopefully, with the water restrictions still in place, our reservoirs will begin to fill up.

Let's work together to continue practicing water conservation measures even when rainfall is abundant. This will help protect our water supply for the future and it is just the right thing to do.