Blog Description

A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Juggling Cats, Trees, Internet, Phone, Upgrade Miles

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Juggling as fast as I can, there is still the possibility that something is going to crash to the ground. Indeed, there have been some crashes this past week. 

Are there times in your life that you cannot seem to keep up with all that is calling your name and DEMANDING attention? Just when you think you have the rhythm down, smoothly juggling three things in the air, smiling as everything leisurely glides through the air, from out of nowhere a fourth object is thrown to you, then a fifth, and you juggle faster and faster. 

Juggling Act #1 
Stray Cat Destroyed Central Air/Heat Duct Work

Yes, you read that right. A stray yellow and white cat destroyed duct work in my house. The cat darted INTO the garage as I darted the car OUT of the garage on my way to do some errands. For a few minutes I waited in the drive to allow the cat to leave the garage. Not seeing him leave, but thinking surely he had exited the garage, I went about my errands, returned home, and left the garage door up a little while to give the cat another chance to leave. 

Surely a country-savvy-stray cat knows to leave when given the chance. Sleeping peacefully as a kitten that night, I had no idea that the less-than-country-savvy cat was roaming the duct work during the night.

Ignorance is bliss. 

The next afternoon crashing sounds caused me to run from the bedroom into the kitchen thinking my cats had knocked something off the counter. There they sat on the kitchen floor with innocent faces all trained looking up at the gaping hole that had been covered with a metal grate that now lay on the floor. All with the look of innocence and questioning looks wondering what happened.

Yes, that vent way high above the cabinets is the one whose grate lay on the floor. Did I miss an earthquake that shook the house sending that cover flying across the room?

Puzzled about what had happened I picked up the grate, used the step stool to reattach it to the open vent in the furr down over the wall ovens, and returned to the bedroom. The long screws for the grate really were not attached to the wall. Rather, they were just sandwiched between the metal duct work and the sheetrock of the furr down. 

Fifteen minutes later, another crash and clattering of metal caused me to once again dash into the kitchen just in time to see the stray yellow and white tomcat running out of the kitchen into the entry. My three cats had all dashed off, terrified of the neighborhood bully tomcat that was now roaming INSIDE the house. 

Around and around we went. Me chasing the stray cat with a broom, from the kitchen, to the dining area, to the living room, back into the kitchen, again into the dining area, then into the living room. Finally, the creamsicled yellow and white tomcat darted out the open French door in the living room. 

Now, back to my normal life... 

My car thermometer had read 91° earlier that day, and my bridge group was coming the next day. I decided to turn on the air conditioner to cool down the house for the next day's company. No air came out of the vents in the kitchen, nor my bedroom, nor my master bath. Bridge was rescheduled to another friend's house. 

Mr. Creamsicle had found a way under the crawl space from the garage to the duct work under the utility room, crawled THROUGH the duct under the floor to the kitchen, scrambled UP the vertical duct work (clawing the duct the whole way) to get into the ducts in the furr down above the kitchen cabinets.... evidently looking for a way out.... when he found his exit through the vent with the loose metal cover and jumped down into the kitchen. 

When the air conditioning repairman came, it took two days to repair duct work under the house, to cut holes in the sheetrock in my closet to get to bunched up duct work blocking airflow, and  to reattach the vertical duct from under the floor to the furr down. 

Don't ask how much that cost! Let's just say I could have had MANY 3-course meals in Paris, France, maybe even at the Ritz.

The other items juggling through the air at breakneck speed? Each could have its very own post. 

Juggling Act #2 

The largest tree on my two acres died this winter after struggling for several years and had to be cut down... between the day when Mr. Creamsicle destroyed the ducts and the first day the repairman started putting the ducts back together again. Limbs crashing to the ground made me sad.

I loved that tree.

The hole in my heart is the size of the hole in the sky. 

Juggling Act #3 

The friendly folks at a large technology company made me an offer too good to pass up. High speed Internet at speeds that would run their local office was promised to me and will make my old satellite internet service pale in comparison. Installation time allotted was one hour. 

FOUR hours later my tech installer was still muttering under his breath about 800 feet of wiring was not budgeted for an installation as he was dodging the falling limbs being cut from the big old oak tree on the same day. 

Juggling Act #4 

Land-line phones are going the way of the buffalo. Extinct.

With the new Internet line, the old land line must be converted to some new-fangled Voice something or another that is the latest and grandest thing for phone lines since sliced bread. Installation was a week ago. The phone that was working for 29 years until the new installation? 

Not even a dial tone. 

To date, a text to the installer with reply he would return the next day. He must be lost with the buffalo.

A visit to the sales rep and manager at the store that set up all the changes? A different customer service person, by phone, checked my phone line. Yes, there is a problem, and call tech support when you get home. 

Tech support contacted from home. What? You want $99 for a technician to fix the problem if the old phone jack is the issue? A technician is scheduled for tomorrow with promises there will not be a $99 charge. 


Did I mention that I got my first phone bill for my cell phone service that was supposed to cost $10 less each month, but was for $10 MORE than I had been paying? That has been resolved. 

Juggling Act #5 

During all these upkeep, upgrade, repair, and maintenance opportunities to spend time and money, I did squeeze in booking and scheduling a

10-day trip to Paris, France 
for late August 2016. 

Something has to keep a girl's spirits up after all. 


The airline reservationist says miles cannot be used to upgrade the vacation package flight after spending two days back and forth with the flight reservation desk and the vacation package desk finding a flight that has space available for an upgrade. (In between tree service, Internet installation, duct work repair, and no phone service.)

Excuse me! What good are these miles if I can't use them? After being put on hold for 2 hours and 52 minutes and being transferred to three different people, and back on hold, I hung up.

After a night's sleep, (Could it have been the same night the cat was shredding the duct work?) I called the next day to try, try again. Whew... yes, you can upgrade your international flight with miles and all is set. 

This past week has made the toilet-in-the-shower incident seem like a walk in the park and that incident cost far less than the Mr. Creamsicle-duct-work incident. 

Still juggling, but not quite as raggedly.