urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
The boiler repair guy came and went by about 10. [personal profile] vatine kindly stayed home to deal with him, and I managed to sleep through the whole thing. (Besides the social awkwardness thing, after getting one really skeezy-acting meter reader I'm still pretty sure didn't attack me because I was bigger than he was--and still kept sizing me up--I do not like to let strangers into the house while I'm home alone.)

You may have hard water when it takes two or three years for your boiler to get limed up to the point of cascading failure. Yep, we had to replace it not too long ago, and it's again to the point of "as much to fix it as replace it". (To the tune of about £2000, IIRC.) They didn't suggest any regular maintenance on the current one, but maybe some kind of preventative care will help the next one live longer. One drawback to the otherwise pretty cool and space-efficient combi boiler approach: it's complicated, with very little that is user serviceable. And you're not supposed to open them up and poke around without being Gas Safe certified. I was hoping there was some kind of minor flushing we could do or something to get some of the limescale out, but apparently not.

Ah well. It could be worse. It's June, the shower heats water (besides the dishwasher and washing machine), and we've got a space heater just in case.

And I'm reminded of this one: 50% of Americans Couldn’t Come Up with $2,000 in an Emergency (and I was surprised it wasn't more). Ghost poverty had me automatically half-panicking and hoping we'd be able to get heat and hot water back before winter, but, yeah, that's not a major problem now. As much as I still near-literally nickel-and-dime myself to death, even with me unable to work now, we're apparently in the top 20% of UK incomes.* (Which says a lot about inequality, actually.)

We're also on the second replacement washing machine in a few years. Even with regularly using sodium carbonate in the wash and running empty hot loads with lots of vinegar or citric acid, they've gotten crudded up with lime internally. But, you boil a pot of water and get lime scum on the top and a ring around the pot. I grew up on limestone karst, where there used to be a lot of mineral spring resorts, and never saw anything like the liquid chalk you get in London. I guess the softer stone makes a huge difference in ready solubility.

* This really struck me when we knew we needed at least an £800 boiler system flushing (no, insufficient after all!)--and Ingvar suggested going out and looking at Xooms. (ETA: And he's hardly prone to wild spending sprees. /ETA) I think my jaw was honestly hanging open for a minute there. I mean, I knew we weren't poor, but I'd been cutting back on food expenses and putting off buying things like a new pair of £50 walking sandals and a couple of shirts. Different assumptions and expectations based on experience, indeed. :-|
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
It is frustrating to have to choose between (a) taking a shower, (b) cleaning the fish tank, (c) going grocery shopping, (d) getting some writing done, or (e) cooking a decent supper, as a plan for the afternoon.

Today I went with the grocery shopping option (not entirely happy without the shower first!)--with a GF frozen pizza, some pre-cooked chicken to help balance it out, and some broccoli to dip into dressing for supper. On the brighter side, as of today Ingvar is now using up holiday time instead of losing it for the rest of the month before starting the new job, and he came along to help carry stuff home. Also, the bus drivers for both trips were less maniacal than I've come to expect, and I at least managed to get braced before the bus jerked into motion. So, less resulting pain (and/or falling over). And the post-shopping pain meds have kicked in now.

I'm looking forward to spending more time with Ingvar, with less stress. :)

On the not-so-bright side, Neighbor Weasel has the devil's own luck at avoiding the cops. Four of them were looking for him this morning, so he's up there now making a lot of noise. I may not like the legal system (or the whole "let's set up a state" thing) much, but I hope he is gone before long--whether they pick him up or he runs off to avoid them. Not quite enough to call them and say, "Hey, you were looking for the guy upstairs? He's up there now, being a noise nuisance. Please come and get him ASAP," however. :/ I just avoid him as far as possible.

Oh yeah, from another hard-not-to-overhear phone conversation, he apparently also does have a drug problem as suspected. (This is not a reason to look down on him, per se, but when it's some kind of stimulant that seems to make him act more violent and generally obnoxious? Yeah, I'll object.) From the way he keeps suddenly starting hacking and then bouncing off the walls--literally, a couple of times--I suspect meth. Whatever it is, it really doesn't seem to do him a lot of good.

ETA: We also had a power cut overnight, which killed an aquarium filter powerhead. Thank goodness that wasn't the main filter on the tank, or I'd have been heading to Tranquility Aquatics (good independent shop!) up the road instead of buying food. And I finally picked up some bird seed today, and want to make another feeder or two tonight, which should actually be pretty fun.
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
OK, I'm feeling pretty silly now.

It's been relatively cold here the past few days--as in, it's been hovering right around freezing, with more expected the rest of the week--and the house has been staying chilly. I usually run hot rather than cold, and dress like a beach bum around the house, but I've been huddling into yoga pants and a sweater and basically keeping a cup of tea going all the time--and have still not been feeling warm. Good reminder to drink more of the delicious hojicha I picked up, though. ;)

When I went to clean the (unheated) goldfish tank earlier, the water was much colder than I expected--with the added heat from the lights, it usually stays stable near 75F/24C in the winter, and this afternoon the water was 68F/20C. With a big (double-glazed!) bay window, that room isn't usually the warmest, but when I took a thermometer in there the air temperature was 62F/17C with the thermostat set to 72F/22C (turned up some in hopes it would help). Not great. I set up a space heater in there, especially since there are also a few tropicals in that tank. :-|

We have a combi boiler which is only a couple of years old, and of course I started thinking "oh crap, there's something expensive wrong with it, just in time for a cold snap!" It's never had a problem keeping up with not-actually-that-cold weather before. We've had plenty of hot water from the faucets, but I took a peek at the pressure gauge to make sure it didn't need more water let in again.

No, the boiler pressure was fine. But it has separate temperature controls for the hot water and the heating, and somebody had apparently knocked into the radiator system control knob at some point. It was turned almost all the way down, to 113F/45C. I turned it back up to 158F/70C.

Yep, it's already feeling warmer in here. *facepalm*

And I'd been cold for days without checking the boiler.
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
The Sainsbury's grocery delivery came, and I was glad to see it. They made an interesting substitution again.

What I ordered: Genius GF brown bread (amazingly good stuff, for commercial GF bread). What they claimed to have substituted: store brand GF part-baked baguettes (OK, not what I wanted, but edible). What they really sent: a big loaf of in-store bakery wholemeal bread (which also costs less than any of the GF stuff).

I forgot to add bread for Ingvar to the order, but it looks like he has some anyway. *shakes head* Ah well.

ETA : OK, now I'm less irked and more baffled. I also found the baguette in a bag. The rest of the stuff seems to be what I ordered, so they didn't just mix up bags or anything.

Further ETA: Tonight's fairly easy supper plans: an adobo-seasoned baked chicken with potatoes crammed in the pan around it. And probably more frozen veggies.

I am also hoping to do a coconut milk amla treatment on my head, in the meantime. (Mixing it with coconut milk keeps it from drying my hair out.) I absolutely love the results, but keep putting off sitting for half an hour with muddy stuff and a plastic bag on my head. *g* It might give my mood a boost.
urocyon: Grey fox crossing a stream (Default)
I tried to post this before supper, but the ADSL was acting screwy again.

Earlier, I made it across the street to Iceland again, so we don't have to get takeout. (The fridge is down to condiments, pickles, and fresh veggies I don't feel like messing with right now, and the rest of the food stores are in about the same shape.) What we ended up with was frozen cottage pie with some frozen broccoli mix on the side, but I was really glad to find something easy-and-almost-nutritious that wasn't full of gluten. (Other than a little barley malt in the gravy, which has only been a problem once from a salad dressing made with malt vinegar.) Annoyingly, I had to get a few "meal for one" size, since the larger ones were apparently from a different manufacturer and full of wheat flour. If we don't eat the third "meal for one", Max will be more than happy to.

Special dietary requirements (GF diabetic here!) can be a huge pain when you don't have much energy available. Usually, I do a lot of scratch cooking, which is tastier and better for us anyway. But, especially with the kitchen time anomalies (an hour can, and frequently does, pass in the blink of an eye), that takes a lot of time and energy. Sometimes it's really nice to be able to just grab something frozen that's not twice the price in the small Free From section. (Which I am glad exists, don't get me wrong.) Something that's available not 300 yards up the street? Even better!

Last night, I finally had the sense to place a rather large Sainsbury's order online, which I'd been putting off. I had to set up a new account, but I think most of it was the old "should be able to drag myself to the store". :( I also had the sense to be less, erm, frugal and get some things that require less prep time and effort. So we should have plenty of food tomorrow, without anyone having to lug it home. That's worth way more than the $3.50 delivery fee for the £100+ order!

Even better: today I've mostly been managing not to kick myself over Not Trying Hard Enough. Bah.

Oh yes, I've also been having surprisingly good luck with just using water and a lot of scalp massage to wash my hair. After about two weeks, it's not greasy and smelly, which shouldn't be a huge surprise since that didn't happen when I switched over to conditioner-only washing. *wry smile* (People managed to have clean hair before this stuff was invented, after all.) My scalp was acting up again in spite of not using shampoos I'm apparently allergic to, so I decided to experiment, hoping it was an allergy to something in the conditioners. Especially since it totally cleared up when I was trying the ultimately too drying baking soda with vinegar rinse approach. That's improved a little, but it's early days yet. It may just be eczema, since it's the time of year for that to really start kicking in--even so, putting fewer chemicals on an existing allergic reaction sounds like a good idea!

The big surprise there? My hair seems to be loving it so far. It's shinier, and even the crown is holding more curl once it's dry, without added gel or anything. (Thick, fine hair with Botticelli curls is kinda renowned for weighting itself down and going flatter on top.) I think even the conditioner was drying it out too much, which is darkly funny since I avoided using much conditioner for years because it make my hair look "stringy"--i.e., less dry and frizzed out, with some curl definition. Using the CO wash method, I could tell it was time for a wash because it started to get dry and frizzy on top. (I think my thyroid conversion is a bit wonky again, and drying my hair and skin out more.) And I was using a heavier conditioner after the cheapo light stuff for washing!

Now I'm tempted to try using a little coconut milk instead of conditioner to wash with, and see what happens. On the whole, I'd rather get away from commercial products again if it's feasible, anyway.

September 2011

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