The past six weeks have been brutal. November started off okay…except for one (or maybe two) of the cats. Someone has decided that he/she doesn’t like the litter box. And so one of them has decided to pee everywhere and anywhere. I’ve found pee in my empty laundry basket, in the bathtub, on the dining room table, on the kitchen counter, on my desk, on my office chair, on a loveseat, on pillows, and on a Christmas wreath. I think the culprit is Sophie, but I can’t be sure since I haven’t actually seen her do the deed. It’s also a possibility that it’s Nate. I’ve tried just about everything I can think of (or Google) to prevent this, but nothing seems to work for any length of time. I got rid of an upholstered chair that was inundated with urine just last week. It was in a corner and rarely used (thankfully!) so I didn’t realize it was so bad. Haven’t noticed a problem for the past day or two, but I’m sure it will happen again. Just wish I could narrow down the culprit so I can come up with a course of treatment. The vet may be able to help, but I have to know which one to take in!

About 10 days before Thanksgiving I bit the bullet and had all my citrus trees trimmed back as well as having one taken out completely. It was a large tangelo tree that was intermingled among the power lines leading to my house as well as to my neighbor’s. I didn’t like the tree to begin with and worried that Santa Ana winds could cause power problems if a branch fell. So I spent the $$$ and had it done. I was happy to see the result and it is much, much easier to keep that side of the house clean. Plus I won’t have the neighborhood squirrel (or rats) eating fruit and dropping the remains all over the ground.

The following week my pool man informed me that four of the pool filters were cracked and needed to be replaced. Great. Another unexpected cost. He took care of it and my pool looked great after a thorough cleaning and filtering through the new equipment.

Not sure of the exact date, but I think it was the week before Thanksgiving that I saw Soula’s post on G+ saying that she had been in a head-on collision! Turned out that she was okay…and the baby is okay as well. Some woman was not paying attention and plowed directly into Soula as she waited in the left turn lane to go into the grocery. Their car sustained $6000 worth of damage and is still in the shop being repaired. Thank God it was only the car that was damaged.

Thanksgiving was very nice…the calm before the storm, literally! We had a traditional dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, ambrosia fruit salad and pumpkin pie. Enjoyed staying at home (and not out shopping) for the entire weekend. Did a lot of talking with family in other parts of the country, relaxed and started to prepare the house inside and out for Christmas decorating. I had considered starting in on the outdoor decorations, but just ran out of time which turned out to be a good thing.

On the following Wednesday, 11/30, all hell broke loose!!! Weather reports predicted high Santa Ana winds that night, so I checked the backyard and gathered up any pool toys and any other loose items sitting around. Folded down the patio chairs and put the cover on the grill. I wasn’t worried about much else since Patrick had tied down my shade structure to rebar posts that he had pounded into the ground and we rebuilt my fence with super heavy duty steel posts on which the wood was mounted.

At about 8:30 pm Patrick called to ask if it was windy at my house. I was in my office on the computer plus had the tv on and hadn’t been paying attention. And then I looked outside where the winds were pummeling everything in sight! The tarp covering for the shade structure had torn, but the steel poles were still in place. The grill cover had blown off (I retrieved it) and a few other things had blown around, but only the tarp was damaged. When I checked again about 45 min later, the winds were blowing harder than I’ve ever seen and the steel support poles were moving toward the pool. After a phone call, Patrick was here to take down the structure as much as possible and keep it out of the pool. It was all both of us could do to keep from blowing over ourselves! About 1/2 hour after he left my neighbor’s fence (to the north) went down into my yard. Helped him get it up and laying flat on his property. And then tried to get some sleep. Right. The winds blew all night and at times it felt as though the house was moving. The cats were scared to death and surrounded me on the bed. Every time a loud gust would hit, they would all go flying into the air. Needless to say it was not a restful night. I was scared, too.

I had a meeting at work the next day at 7 am. Had a feeling that wasn’t going to happen. Boy was I right. The damage was unbelievable. The steel supports for my fence were bent and the fence was leaning at about a 45 degree angle into my neighbor’s yard to the south. A front fence panel next to my garage was completely blown down. The shade structure tarp was literally shredded and patio furniture, flower pots, etc rested at the bottom of the pool along with tons of leaves and branches. Most of the bushes, shrubs and trees in my yard were no more than naked branches denuded of all their leaves and flowers. And then there was the front and the street.

A number of trees along the curb were uprooted and laying in the street completely blocking it. And there were branches down everywhere! I’ve never seen such destruction. It looked like a bomb had gone off! Reports were than the winds blew through at a rate of 90-100 mph!!! Someone finally cleared a path down the street and I was able to go to work around 10 am. Trying to get there was unbelievable. Turns out Pasadena was one of the hardest hit areas and my street was just the tip of the iceberg. There were so many blocked streets that a normal 15 minute drive to work took about 45 min. There were trees down on houses and cars, and lots of people had no power. I was extremely lucky to have suffered no damage that altered my life all that much. And, BTW, I was sooo glad I took out that tangelo tree!

I took the following Friday off work and spent the day cleaning up the backyard. My gardener came on Thursday and cleaned up lots of the leaves and small branches from the front yard. Also called in an insurance claim and got a fence company out to give me an estimate. Fortunately my deductible is only $500 so it won’t be too costly to get the damage repaired. All in all between the tree pruning, the pool filters and the insurance deductible, I’ll have spent in excess of $1000–not something I would have planned for November/December just before Christmas.

Had hoped to get my Christmas decorations up that weekend, but predictions of more wind made that impossible. I did a bit of inside decorating with what little time remained after working outdoors for most of the weekend. And then it was back to work. The city cleanup has progressed slowly so that every day I’ve had to find an alternate route to work to avoid the cleanup crews or the electric repair crews.

The following Saturday (12/10) was the date our annual neighborhood Light-Up was scheduled to begin. And I still had no lights or any other decorations up on my house. Patrick came over on Saturday afternoon and helped me put up the street decoration and we got it lit up for that evening. Then we had two parties to attend–Vanessa’s Open House in the afternoon and the Dreamhost Office Party (where Patrick works) that evening at the Disneyland Hotel. Vanessa’s party was great and we were sorry to leave. The Dreamhost party started at 6 pm so we felt we’d get there in plenty of time by leaving Vanessa’s at 5:15. Except we hadn’t counted on that traffic accident on the 57 fwy. It took us TWO HOURS to get to Disneyland!!! While the party was great (the food was fantastic!), I was just too exhausted to really enjoy it. I was grateful to finally get home that night.

Still had to put up the lights on the house and hedge on Sunday. Got up early and got everything up except for the icicle lights on the roof. Patrick came over and helped with that and finished everything just before dark. I was beat. About an hour later I walked outside only to realize that all the lights on the house were out. Apparently we hooked up too many strings to one circuit and blew a fuse in one of the strings. The lights on the garage and the hedge were still on, so I have some decorations but I need to wait until I have some daylight hours to figure out where the fuse is blown and also hook up part of the lights to another circuit.

It couldn’t get any worse than all this now, could it?! Oh yes, the worst is yet to come…

Kevin lost his job today. His company is going out of business and he will be without a job within the next few weeks, if not sooner. I guess he’ll get all the details tomorrow. Not a good situation at any time, but especially right before Christmas and with your wife about 7 months pregnant with your second child! In addition, Raymond, the guy who lives with them also works with Kevin meaning he lost his job as well.

2011 is certainly going out with a bang.