We came back down to Palm Desert on the 9th of December. It had really started getting cold in Lancaster, so I was definitely ready to bail out of there. It's mostly been in the mid- to high-70s here and I even wear shorts on the sunny days.
We skipped last winter, so it had been about fifteen months since we'd been here. The house stayed cleaner than I expected, except for the bug bodies in the bathrooms (I don't know how they get into the house and the casita, maybe from the attic through light fixtures or something). I got Merry Maids in on a panic basis on the fourteenth and they went through the whole house. My cousin came in on the sixteenth and her family came in on the weekend and the general tidiness of the house fell apart, with gifts to be wrapped and pieces of crystal and candles and holiday food and gift wrap and ribbon and stuff everywhere.
There were some problems, though. I had a gallon bottle of bleach sitting on the counter in the laundry room spring a leak and trickle out into rather pretty bleach stalactites on the counter and the wooden cabinets, with corresponding stalagmites on the tile floor. The counter is that synthetic marble stuff and the bleach etched a set of concentric rings into it, matching the bottom of the plastic bottle. The bleach also penetrated the finish on the cabinets in a couple of places, damaging the wood. It's been cleaned up and I'm ignoring the damage right now. I think I'll have to replace the entire counter, which is about six feet long, with a sink cutout, as well as one cabinet panel.
The other thing that happened because we were gone for so long was that the pump in the washing machine dried out. As a result, when I washed the first load in it, the plastic pump overheated and I melted itself into junk. This happened the evening of the third day we were back, a Friday, and I was able to schedule a repairman for Tuesday. He took one look at the puddle, centered at the front of the washer, and diagnosed the problem. Apparently, this is a fairly common problem for snowbirds.
I had had to have my Lancaster washer repaired this summer and I took the opportunity both times to ask the repairmen about front-loading washers. They both told me that front-loaders had a very high repair rate and that the repairs were very expensive. This confirms some of the stories I've heard from friends and neighbors with front-loaders. I think I'll stick with top-loaders. I know they use more water, but I have the ultra-large size and, as a result, don't wash that many loads, so I don't really feel that I'm putting the entire balance of nature into decline.
Our family visit was wonderful and the Christmas Eve dinner was absolutely perfect. Well, we forgot to make and serve the green salad, but we had enough food on the table that we didn't notice this until we were cleaning up the kitchen. It was wonderful to see my uncle and his daughter and her husband (their son and his wife, who live in Seattle, couldn't join us because they were insanely busy closing escrow on their first house and scrambling to get out of their apartment; plus, they're expecting a baby this spring).
Our visitors left the day after Christmas, much to Gordo's dismay. He had really enjoyed having six people in the house, particularly the two kids who made over him constantly. His sojourn at this house had started badly when he fell into the waterfall and strained his shoulder. He was put on crate rest for about a week, getting out just as the kids arrived. He really misses them.
I think this is enough of a data dump for now. I'll be back fairly soon to tell the tale of my reading Cryptonomicon, a book by Neal Stephenson, and to show off my latest shawl, a knit-along (KAL) project.