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Wiser’s Wramblings – “HEAP-ing on the costs”

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By Chuck Wiser, I write the words to share what my eyes see and my heart feels

I guess if I start out griping about utility costs and then switch to more pleasant Wramblings it will leave you with a better impression.

My wife pulled out the gas bill preparing to pay it last week and the exclamation from the kitchen needed no explanation. April’s gas bill was double the bill from March. I did recall a few mild days in March and a few cold ones in April but I was shocked to think there was that much difference. Being the “problem solver” (or absorber) I took the gas bill and started looking into it.

As I started comparing numbers from 2021 pre-spring months against the same months in 2022 it raised more questions than it answered. For example: My actual natural gas usage from February to April in 2022 increased by 32% over that same period in 2021. That was puzzling and I couldn’t readily find the statistical weather information easily so I just focused on the price of home heating natural gas, which I did having called a National Fuel Gas customer service representative about my bill. She explained to me that the price of gas jumped from 38¢ to 71¢ per CCF (100 Cubic Foot) from April 2021 to April 2022. OUCH! Almost double. I wonder if Department of Social Services took price increases and inflation into account when they deemed us not qualified for HEAP Assistance after applying this past fall.

After jumping through their hoops for about a month trying to get their confusing HEAP Application forms submitted and resubmitted, my monthly income came out to be about $100 over the limit for assistance I guess my pitiful monthly Social Security payment is too rich for them.

Enough with my “Wrumblings” and on with my Wramblings. As of May 10th, the 2022 Bird migration to the Wiser Bird Sanctuary is complete with the arrival of the traditional group. However, one can always hope for the occasional surprise visitors like the Scarlet Tanager or Orchard Oriole. They are said to be in the area and our grandson has already hosted an Orchard Oriole. Our first Rose Breasted Grosbeak arrived April 26th and we are fully adorned with six apparently mated pairs. The first Baltimore Oriole appeared May 1st and we are now hosting at least 8 adult pairs. Our first Hummingbird visited the feeders on May 2nd and we now have 2 adult males and one juvenile male. As of Tuesday, of this week, our normal menagerie is complete with the arrival at our feeders of the Indigo Bunting.

Indigo bunting with a mouthful

The Orioles are regularly feasting on the Grape Jelly and Orange halves with an occasional visit to their nectar feeder. I saw one in the Sunflower feeder but couldn’t tell whether it took a seed or not. I doubt it but the Gold Finches seem able to handle the shells so who knows. The Grosbeaks show the greatest flexibility of diet as usual. Their normal diet consists of the Sunflower seeds but some of the more adventuresome have been known to regularly sample the Suet cakes, the Oranges and even the Grape Jelly. The Hummingbird can’t seem to make its mind up between the Oriole’s Nectar feeder, their own feeder, or the Grape Jelly. The Bunting, as usual, only seems interested in the smaller typical “small bird” seeds. I must be honest here and in full disclosure I can’t say as I have ever seen or recognized the female of the Bunting species. Their coloring is so non-descript as to not be easily recognized separate from the other small brown finches or wrens. One of the birding oddities is a Robin that is fond of our suet cakes. Not sure if it is one that migrated but there was one last year that did that as well.

Just one note to some friends who have questioned how to present the oranges to the Orioles stating that they have a hard time holding, attaching or serving “slices” of the orange. We cut an orange in half and using a large “Drywall anchor” attached to a board or post, we thread the orange onto the spiral shaped anchor. These can be positioned face up or face horizontal and the Orioles seem to prefer reaching up to them as opposed to bending over them.

Only just under a month into the renewed Genesee Valley Chorus singing season and we have already had one “sing out”, entertaining the Monday Club at the Howe Library last Monday and will sing to a group once again Thursday with two additional performances planned and other opportunities waiting in the wings. I mention this as a lead in to extend a personal invitation to some of the men who have previously sung with the Chorus and to any others who might be interested in SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) mixed chorus singing. The male voices are typically outnumbered by the female singers anyway, but we are a little short on Basses. I know there are other former singers out there as I have sung with them previously. One visit back to try it out and I’m betting you’ll get the singing bug once again and want to join us. We really need at least one or two more singers with that lower bass voice range.

With this surge of true spring like weather, sunshine, and the promise of continued warmer weather I decided to re-open our above ground pool earlier this week. We didn’t open the pool last year for several reasons, but I twisted my wife’s arm and she agreed for this year. The pool itself was amazingly in pretty good shape in that we had kept it filled and covered. As expected, there were some leaks in the pumping/filtering components. As we commenced to bring the water level up to where the pool vacuum could be operated, we noticed after a few minutes that the liner was pulling out of the bead track. We paused the “vacuuming process” to work on the liner but gave up after several attempts. I wanted to get in the pool to work on it, but I was strongly advised not to. In years past I would don my fishing waders and go in that way. They had to be discarded the last year we had the pool in use as the boots had dry rotted, cracked and leaked. A call seeking advice from Jacques Pools in Coudersport, where we had initially purchased our pool, confirmed that the almost twenty-year-old liner was likely just too old, and probably had shrunk somewhat.

Looking into the cost for a new liner and installation and given the projected limited use of the pool put a real damper on my “permission” to re-open the pool. I may have mentioned before that a 1 to 1 vote isn’t necessarily a “tie” in marriage or partnership, so my hopes were pretty much dashed.

There was a slight ray of hope this morning, however. By the light of a new day, my spouse mentioned that the liner cost and proposed installation cost we discussed yesterday weren’t really that out of line or out of reach. I was pleasantly surprised when she advised that she didn’t want me to order anything right away, but it was a possibility. Any typographical errors that follow, are explained by my difficulty typing with crossed fingersssss.

Just wondering as I contemplate whether my car warranty has expired or can be renewed. Aside from the normal bothersome cold calls, I keep getting calls regarding a vehicle we traded 12 years ago. It seems that once I pick my cell phone up and turn it on it signals the Robo callers to start calling. I get 3 or 4 calls a day from “Albion, NY” and other recognizable repeat, named callers.

 Update on my frequent complaints about our Spectrum service. We had a visit from a very nice, friendly Spectrum technician a couple of weeks ago. He did all the usual tests disconnecting here and there and connecting his meters and advised he couldn’t really find anything wrong other than some TV’s being too far away from the Wireless Router and configured to use the 5G Connection, which the last technician had told us to use. He also suggested using a “Signal Extender” which the technician before the last technician had disconnected advising that was our problem. This technician did educate us a little explaining why which connection type would be better with some of our TV’s and which wouldn’t. When I asked if their supplied Modem could be part of the problem he replied “possibly.” We had already replaced their previously supplied, multiple units, replacing one that I had purchased at the suggestion of a technician several visits previously. He said they had a new modem available, and he had already exhausted his road supply with earlier visits that day but that I could stop by the Olean office and get a new one. He added a “filter” component into our cable connection system saying there was one signal coming in that was a little higher than normal. He left advising to call again if still having problems. The next morning I noted that the Spectrum “Boom Truck” stopped out front and the technician went up and did something to the box on the cable line that connects to our house. Later that day we stopped by the Spectrum office and picked up a new Modem.

Despite them not being able to find or remedy any “Known” problems our TV Cable performance has been almost flawless ever since. We have had a couple of minor “Buffering” episodes but nowhere near what previously had occurred.

UPDATE! Minutes after typing that comment my wife came out to tell me the TV was buffering. Given the weather/atmospheric conditions today that could be a factor. MAYBE.

Speaking of gas prices. Not all favor or agree with purchasing gas at the Native American reservations but when you can save 40¢ on a gallon of gas when you are passing through Cuba on your way to Walmart anyway it is well worth the savings. Local gas was noted at $4.49 today and despite the price being up at the Reservation as well, it was “only” $4.08. I do “buy local” when practical (or affordable) but which one of those stores is selling the shoes and shirts that I need?

I’ll wrap this up with a couple of “old time” common phrases or comments that have come to mind recently.

  • “Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick”
  • “Six of one, half dozen of another”
  • “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”
  • “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”
  • “I found it in the last place I looked”
  • “Age doesn’t always bring wisdom, sometimes it comes alone”
  • “Some people age like wine. Some people age like milk”
  • “Up at the crack of dawn”
  • “You’re uglier than a hedge fence”
  • “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite”

Any suggestions, comments, cares or concerns can be emailed to the [email protected]

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