Saturday, January 24, 2009

New Piano :)

I guess the title says it all - we got a new-for-us piano a couple weeks ago. It is a 10-year-old Clavinova. I LOVE messing around with digital pianos. This one does not have a full keyboard (it only has 76 keys), but I love playing it and seeing what kinds of fun tones I can play my favorite songs with. I suppose these are the marks of a truly mediocre pianist. Oh well, I don't care. I love the thing. I am happy that we splurged pre-tax refund. :)

S also loves the piano. I had forgottten what it is like to live with him and a piano in the same house. (We used to have a piano in the house we were renting right after we got married). S's piano playing style reminds me of a cross between radio station remixes and CD collection infomercials.

As a kid, I used to love CD collection infomercials. I would hear one snipet of a song I liked and then I would leave the tv on that channel to see if there were more songs I liked, which there usually were. I never bought any music of course, but for some reason I was happy to be entertained by these infomercials. Well, now I have my own infomercial living in my home. S has between 4 and 6 songs that he has memorized over the years. Every now and again he will pull out a new one that I haven't heard, but for the most part they are all very familiar to me by now. They include: Canon in D, Sonata Pathetique, Jurassic Park, the song that is playing when they say "One Grecian Urn" in some movie, and perhaps one more. S will sit down at the piano and do something like this: He will start with Sonata Pathetique (which I LOVE), and right when I remember how much I love it, it will all of a sudden be Canon in D! And that will suddenly morph into Jurassic Park! He never plays more than 5-10 seconds of any one song without changing to the next. Fortunately, the songs repeat themselves without neglecting any one song or adding any other songs to the list. So I get used to it, right? :)

Also, S rarely plays any song at the composer's tempo - they go much faster. Canon in D is even jazzed up a bit with different rhythms and ornamentation. It is just like when radio stations try to play little bits and pieces of some popular songs all in the same tempo, even when the songs are not meant to be at that tempo, or when they make a hip-hop version of a country song. Really, his style just cracks me up. I am glad that he enjoys playing the piano. And I am glad that he wanted to get this piano for our family as much as I did. If only we could get Boo to take an interest... (he isn't even yet interested in his baby piano). :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Water Heater and other issues of relatively new homeowners

We just purchased a new water heater!!! Actually, we are hoping that our home warranty company just purchased a new water heater for us, but either way, we have a new water heater and it is wonderful! We have put up with unreasonably quick showers for some time now, and I personally am glad to be able to take long hot luxurious baths. :) Strangely enough, that is not the only thing that has changed around here...

When we first moved in last February, the woman who lived here before did not have time to clean, so we were left with the grime. I noticed that both bathtubs were soiled with some kind of brown thick layer of something that was stuck to the sides and bottom. That sounds grosser than it was. So it was basically just some kind of scum layer that looked nasty. Anyway, I was thrilled to discover that it all came off with Magic Eraser! I figured that she just didn't clean very much and since I cleaned it it would be gone forever.

Not so. In less than a few weeks, the yellowish-brown grime was back. I got in the habit of cleaning it out every now and again, but it was definitely an annoyance. Then we began to notice that our bathwater and drinking water was discolored. Makes sense. So we determined that the city water supply must be a yucky color. (This sort of color came out of the faucets in Iowa sometimes when they cleaned out the fire hydrants and such). No big deal, right? We decided to ask one of our neighbors sometime if this was true for them as well. And being the go-getters that we are sometimes, we never asked anyone.

So last week, I had a plumber come out finally, since I cannot STAND to take 2 minute showers and I cannot stand even more to be cold. He came in and basically decided right away that our water heater was not even worth looking at (being 15 years old - water heaters are supposed to have a life of 10-12 years tops). We would need a new one. Hoping that the home warranty plan was not some sort of fraud, I agreed to buy a new one and have him install it right then and there. Don't get me wrong, I didn't do this blindly. He went through and showed me all of the clear problems with our water heater and how a water heater is supposed to work. It was all very informative.

A few days later, I went to make some hot cocoa for myself (something I do relatively often). I put a bunch of water in our hot cocoa maker and turned it on. After awhile, I noticed something different...the water was clear! Every other time I had made hot cocoa, the water looked like some kind of weak tea. Then later I took a bath...CLEAR water! Only then did I remember that the plumber had showed me how rusted out our water heater was, and the fact that we could see a bunch of rust from the outside meant that it was COMPLETELY rusted out on the inside! It is embarassing to report that...we had been drinking RUST!!!!!! I am just glad that Boo doesn't drink water and that I only drink Kroger bottled water (except with my hot cocoa...let's not even go there!).

Take home message: Don't EVER put up with unexplained discolored water, check your water heater for a lack of rust, and if the explanation for your discolored water IS rust, replace it IMMEDIATELY, WITHOUT QUESTION, NO MATTER THE COST!!!!!!!

As for the other household appliances, we have had some other very easy fixes that have improved our lives significantly. For example, after getting to the point of having to dry our clothes 3 times before they were dry, I finally called up Sears for some service. We had a warranty with the washer and dryer, so I figured we would just have someone come out and fix it. I rehearsed all our dryer troubles and asked for advice. He told me to go home and check the vents. Upon doing that, Samuel discovered that our dryer vent to the outside was COMPLETELY clogged! We are lucky there was no damage to the dryer or anything else for that matter. Also, our lint screen was full (which, incidentally, is my favorite part of doing laundry) due to its being in an obscure place. Problem...SOLVED! (Without spending a dime, might I add.)

The dishwasher has also gone berserk on us. It looks like such a fine appliance, but we got to the point a couple months ago of giving up and going back to handwashing, even after using a rinse aid consistently. It was at that point I decided to finally call Maytag. I told the man how disappointed I was in our once-clear-now-frosted glassware, the fact that things simply did not get clean, and in fact that things came out DIRTIER than going in, requiring handwashing eventually anyway! He told me to try washing the glass with white vinegar and seeing if all the frost came off. It did, so he recommended that I use dishwasher magic once or twice and that would probably clear out the buildup of phosphates due to our hard water. Problem...SOLVED! (Again, without spending a dime!...well, ok, maybe a dime or seven dollars...).

We are finally starting to realize that there are some very simple things we can fix in our lives that will make things SO MUCH BETTER for us! (This is true spiritually as well, of course). Even these two small and one big changes in our appliances have made our lives considerably easier and less stressful. Hard to believe that such a small effort could yield such great dividends. So in a broad way, that is my goal this look for the small things I can do that will make a big difference and DO them!