Saturday, June 16, 2012

Windsor Town Green Concert and Good News About the Propane Situation

Wednesday was nothing to write home about.  Or blog about.  We were able to go to Kohl's to spend the "Kohl's cash" from Becca's earlier shopping trip, courtesy of our friend who treated Becca to summer clothes.  I was able to get some cool clothes for myself.  Otherwise, we just tried to stay out of the heat as much as possible.

The town of Windsor has a fun tradition of summer evening entertainment at the Town Green, a great community gathering place.  There are free movies outside on the lawn on Tuesdays, and a free live concert featuring various local bands on Thursdays.  This Thursday was the first concert, and Becca and I decided to go check it out.  We've slid through one previously when we stopped at the farmers market to pick up veggies, but didn't stay for the band that time.  We arrived early to get a good parking spot and found a park bench to sit on near the stage.  People had set out their chairs and blankets on the lawn to save their spots, and we watched as they filtered in, found their places, and greeted friends. 

We sat near a restaurant valet stand, which I'd never seen before and is such a good idea.  People come up and place their orders for food.  They pay for it, and take a numbered sign on a long pole with them to their seats, sticking it into the lawn near them.  When the food is ready, it is delivered to their location.  There were no huge lines of people waiting to get food, and it allowed everyone to relax and enjoy the concert.

As we were waiting for the band to begin, we saw this dog walk up with his family.  How do I know it was a "he"?  He was intact.  He was also one of the ugliest dogs I've ever seen.

My friend Ann thinks he's an English Bull Terrier, and that sounds right to me.  Becca called him "The Target Dog."  He has one black spot around his right eye.  I recoiled when I saw him initially.  His head was oddly shaped - not just straight from forehead to tip of nose, but curved in a reptilian fashion.  His eyes were tiny and pink rimmed.  I had a hard time looking at him for a while. 

Then I watched him interact with people.  Friends of his family would come up to greet them, and he calmed waited for attention.  When he got it, his tail wagged rapidly and he was excited and happy.  He didn't bark at other dogs, and he was calm as he relaxed near the chairs.  I have to say that as a representative of his breed, he provided a stellar example.  I have a better understanding of why someone would want to have him as part of their pack.  I still don't understand not neutering him, though.

When the band started, I was happy to hear that they knew what they were doing.  This was a country band, and a good one.  I quietly sang along, trying not to change the lyrics as my friends once did in their country band...  "Oooo I'm drivin' my life away."  I looked to see if anyone was dancing, and saw the first four of what would become a larger crowd in front of the bandstand.  They were skinny women in shorts and revealing tops, with cheap straw "cowboy" hats from the county fair, all with long white or grey hair.  One woman stood out, as she wore a pink brassiere clearly visible underneath her sheer, white shirt.  Ooooookay.  It takes all kinds, and this is Sonoma County, after all.

My eyes were drawn, of course, to the only couple doing a two-step, modified to dance up and down the walkway rather than in a circle.  The skinny grey bearded male counterpart of the couple became known to us as "Sparkly Man" because of his shimmering lamé and sequin encrusted gold long-sleeved shirt, which he wore with a pair of shorts.  He was flamboyant and obviously thought a great deal of himself, as he strutted and gestured gracefully with his partner, bald head gleaming in the sunlight over the grey fringe around the edges.  We tried to get some pictures of him, but I'd forgotten the good camera and my phone camera does not do well at all with distance shots.  I'm sure that you get the mental picture.  He danced every song and never had the same partner.  It seemed as if he'd brought a group of women with him who admired his ability, and he was taking full advantage of it.  It was clear that he and women he was with were having a great time.  I wished that Tammy was with me so that we could join in the dancing. 

We had left the chicks out, so needed to leave by about 7:00 pm so we could get them indoors before dark.  Next time, we'll be able to stay longer.  It was a lot of fun!

Friday morning, I followed up again on telephone conversations I'd had on Wednesday with the propane company that delivers our gas.  Last year I contacted them because I was smelling propane near the tank and believed there was a leak.  I asked them to come out and check it out.  They did, with a young driver I'd never seen before.  He tested the lines and the tank and told me that the leak was in the underground piping.  He said that the metal pipes deteriorate over time and that we should replace them with plastic.  He locked the tank and "red tagged" it.  I asked him a lot of questions, really questioning his diagnosis.  I believed strongly that the leak was from the tank, but even after talking with the owner at the company later, I had to conclude that this was what it was and we'd have to deal with it.  I helped Bette arrange for an estimate to replace the pipe.  Because the current line goes under concrete and the deck, it was less expensive to trench a new line to the other end of the house.  Less expensive doesn't mean not expensive.  It was horribly expensive.  In the meantime, she helped me set up a temporary system of using portable propane tanks to take care of things until the larger issue could be resolved.

Over the months since the tank was locked I've smelled propane from time to time, but never took the time to call again to ask them to come out.  There's a minimum fee of $50, and I figured they would probably poo-pooh my concerns again.  Over the last few days, the smell has been extremely strong, so I went to look at the gauge on the tank to see if it had lost any propane over the last 9 months.  I was shocked to see that it was nearly empty.  Was this confirmation that I'd been right all along?  Or was the tank now leaking but we still had a problem underground?  In any event, it needed to be taken care of.

I got the typical reaction when I asked the woman answering the phone to see if someone more experienced could come do the inspection.  "All of our drivers are trained."  I stifled a sigh.  I don't understand why people are so defensive when it comes to understanding that training and education or certification don't mean anything in the field.  It often takes experience to understand the nuances of a given situation.  It doesn't mean that the young man wasn't qualified or didn't know what he was doing, but perhaps he didn't know what to look for.  I ran into the same argument when a doctor at my daughter's orthodontist's office told me that we should go to a free or sliding scale clinic to have some work done for Becca.  It took us a long time to find a good dentist, and if we have to put off some minor work to make sure that she doesn't have a bad experience or deal with poor quality work, then we will do that.  She argued that California standards are so high that there are "no bad dentists" in California.  I beg to differ.  Passing a test does not mean that you will do quality work when on your own.  I've had horrible experiences with "free" or "low cost" clinics in the past, and won't subject my daughter to them.  The last time I tried a low cost clinic, I ended up at an oral surgeon's office to fix the mistakes made.

I was able to talk to the head honcho at the propane company, who said that he would talk to the driver, look at the file, and call me back that day.  That was Wednesday.  I gave him until Friday morning before I followed up.  When he called me back, I was able to have someone scheduled to come out the same day to look at the tank.  I was so relieved when the driver turned out to be someone obviously experienced and confident in what he was doing.  I explained what was happening, the gas loss, showed him where everything connected to the house, and he started carefully doing his work.  It was a sweltering hot day, so I made sure that he was supplied with plenty of ice water, too. 

After a few minutes, he came back to tell me that all of our lines, underground and in the house, tested 100% fine.  There was a leak at the valve in the tank.  He tried to tighten it, but it was not working.  He had already called the owner and insisted on the following:  We are getting a new tank as soon as possible, I will be credited for the propane lost to the leak, plus extra propane to help make up for the inconvenience of the last 9 months.  Within the hour of his leaving, he called to let me know when they could deliver the new tank.  He made special arrangements so that he will be present with another experienced employee in between their scheduled vacations.

I am so excited that we will finally be off this small tank rotation, and I am so relieved that we didn't go ahead with the new pipe lines!  That would have been a horrible mistake and unnecessary expense.

Experience does matter!

Before I close this post, the next day's entry on our trip to Indiana.

Day 3 - May 18, 2006
Kingman, AZ to Albuquerque, NM

The sun rises hot, and though it was wonderful at 6:00 am, by 8:00 am you can feel the heat building.  After turning back to see if I left my hematite necklace in the motel room, we were on the road by 9:00 am, 8:50 to be exact.

Music helps with Becca's poor attitude about doing her school work.  Mom and Dad didn't want to have the radio on, so I pulled out my Walkman.  That made me feel better and calmer again.  Becca is back to work, which helps.

Looking out the windows it is clear we are in Arizona.  There is nothing like this landscape.  Slowly we watched as rock formations started to rise out of the hills, growing ever taller and more prominent.  There is a stark beauty to Arizona that doesn't require green in order to be beautiful.

As we climb up in altitude toward Flagstaff, the terrain changes yet again.  The dry earth and rock formations shift into mountain beauty.  We are now surrounded by pines, and the signs tell us to look out for deer.  We are hoping to change our route on the way home so we can see the Grand Canyon.  Out of all the people in this van, I am the only one who has seen it.

Outside Flagstaff, the pines begin to disappear.  Suddenly, we are surrounded by nothing but flat, yellow earth.  It almost looks like Kansas, except for the mountains in the distance.  We are approaching the meteor crater now.

We saw the crater.  The cost to get in was highway robbery, but I am glad we got to see it.  Becca slipped and skinned her knee in front of the Apollo Lander.  We got some pictures and souvenirs.

We stopped at "THE INDIAN VILLAGE" with an "authentic hogan."  It had a sign over it that said, "HOGAN."  Typical tourist goods for sale.  Seed bead earrings were only $3.98.  It's far too little for all the work that goes into them.

Albuquerque is beautiful in its own way.  The bluffs are back and gorgeous.  The Motel 6 sucked.  The pool had trash and slime in it.  The room was so small that our bed was against the air conditioner.  I didn't sleep well, but still woke up feeling good.

At a rest stop today a group of Vietnam veteran bikers stopped, too.  One of the riders came up behind me in the store, touched the tattoo on my shoulder and drawled, "Somebody's been drawin' on you."

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