August Doldrums: Dirty Air, Dryer Woes and a Cat Named Slinky

I have the August doldrums. Blah!

It is usually hot, dry and smoggy in San Jose throughout August. It’s been particularly bad this year with multiple wildfires burning up and down the state.

Spare the Air Alert: Source, San Jose Mercury News

Spare the Air Alert: Source, San Jose Mercury News

After five years of the drought, there is plenty of fuel feeding the wildfires. Millions of trees have died from drought-related conditions, providing even more fuel than usual. According to News Deeply

A bark beetle epidemic driven by drought is killing off millions of trees in the Sierra Nevada as California starts another summer plagued by drought and higher temperatures.

This is the driest time of year, with virtually no rain during the months of July, August and September.

The Soberanes fire started in July in Monterey County, not far from the lovely town of Carmel where we spent our get away weekend in March. It’s only 60% contained and fire crews don’t expect to have it out until September 30th!  Because San Jose is in a valley, the smoke gathers in the basin, with no wind or rain to carry it away. It adds to such a sense of gloom when the skies are a hazy gray. Even when you avoid the news, as I’m trying to do, it’s impossible not to see those hazy skies and realize what’s happening around us.

august smog

Believe it or not, there is a mountain range beyond the trees. You can just make it out.

valley fair view smog

View of the mountains from a nearby shopping center.

My dryer woes aren’t nearly as dramatic, but oh what a pain. We bought a new washer and dryer in late June and took deliver July 8th. They purred like the proverbial kitten and as with all new appliances, they use less water and less energy…when they work.

The first time I used the steam setting on the dryer it leaked water on the floor. Assuming it wasn’t properly connected, Mike contacted the appliance store who referred us to a certified repair shop. The first repair person said he needed a part (for a brand new dryer!) and would have to take the dryer to the shop because he didn’t have enough room to repair it in our home. I asked him to please leave the dryer till he received the part so that I could dry clothes on other settings. A week later, and before the part arrived, the dryer started making a loud banging noise, akin to putting a bowling ball on the fluff cycle. In addition to that awful noise it also smelled like stale smoke. Did I mention that the dryer was only a few weeks old?

A second crew came out on a Friday and took our dryer back to their shop. Meanwhile, laundry for four piled up. They promised to return it Monday, than Tuesday and by Wednesday we were mostly out of clean clothes and towels. I loaded up the dirty clothes, headed to the laundry mat, and spent three hours getting it done.

A third repair person returned and reinstalled the dryer on Thursday, turned it on and asked “does it always make that noise?”


I explained that the “bowling-ball-on-the-fluff-cycle” noise was one of two reasons the dryer was in for repairs. He said he didn’t understand why they would take the machine back to the shop, but there was nothing to be done for it that day and off he went.

Are you still with me?

A fourth crew (an experienced repair tech and a tech-in-training came out and spent three more hours trying to repair the machine. They completely dismantled it, spreading out the parts in my narrow side yard, then left to buy “longer screws” assuring me that the manufacturer-installed screws were too short.

This made no sense to me, but I’m not an appliance technician. I gave them directions to the nearest Home Depot and off they went. Once they had it all put back together they insisted all was well and that the sound of the dryer was “normal”. I signed the repair order but with an asterisk and note saying that my signature did not mean it was “repaired to my satisfaction” only that it appeared to be working…for now.

Gosh it felt good to have my dryer back and in working condition.

For two loads, that is.

The appliance repair shop has now washed their hands of us and the manufacturer opened a claim. I’ve tried (twice) to email my request to the service protection plan, only to receive error messages. When I call they say “volume is high” and to please fill out the form on the web. Sigh

And then there is Slinky.

Slinky napping in the garden

Slinky napping in the garden

She is still hanging in there, but I’ve seen a recent decline. She saw our vet twice last week, which led to a diagnoses of a “very large hyperechoic cystic mass on her liver”. The better news is that it is NOT cancer, but a benign growth. She continues to eat, groom and purr, all good signs, but she’s lost more weight. She’s a tiny 5 pounds, about 2.5 kilos. She’s not in any pain and as long as she continues with a good quality of life, we are happy to have her with us. My heart is heavy when I see her tiny frame, but then she purrs in my face or crawls in my lap and I can see that for now she’s doing okay.

I know many of you live with cats or dogs, so you can relate to the angst.

Nothing magical or transformative will happen when I turn the page to September, but I still find myself craving the fresh start of a new month.

I’m grateful that Slinky is still with us. I appreciate Cal Fire crews and their tireless efforts fighting wildfires throughout the state. I’m grateful for the clean and well maintained laundry mat nearby. Having a washer and a dryer in my home is a luxury that I know others can’t afford. The same was true for me for many years and I try hard never to take it for granted.

cal fire collage

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to the cooler days of autumn, clearer skies and the days we have left with Slinky.

How is the world treating you?

Of Possible Interest:

Topographical map of San Jose/Silicon Valley

CalFire official website

Fascinating article on prototype design for the Developing World Laundry System

50 thoughts on “August Doldrums: Dirty Air, Dryer Woes and a Cat Named Slinky

  1. I do feel for you. Here, there have been a lot of small local bush fires, some spontaneous and some hazard reduction burns, but it has affected the air quality. Then we had the earthquake. Now we have rain forecast just when the farmers are trying to play catch-up with the sugar cane harvest. However, I’m grateful for working laundry appliances (if too much laundry…) and that I’m not bonded with a pet in her last days. So very sad, but I’m happy you’re able to enjoy each other pain free.


  2. I hate August. In Greece as well, forest fires rage (starting in July..) twice our house almost burned down. A vision of hell, with black ash flying about for weeks after, the lawn black, although we had doused it with water, and almost no trees left. It saddens me for the lost forests, and sometimes people get killed as well. It’s too hot, and we have the meltemi, a hot and enervating wind that blows non-stop, destroying beach time. It’s only ok if you can escape to some protected island, but I haven’t managed to do that in years.
    As for the dryer, I loathe domestic disasters, as I call them. It sounds to me it would have been better to have it replaced, but how were you to know? What bad luck.
    First world problems, I know, but that doesn’t make them any less annoying. Poor you 😓

    Liked by 2 people

    • Domestic disasters is an excellent way to describe them. As you say, first world problems, but frustrating and inconvenience nonetheless.

      I had no idea your forest fires raged every summer as ours do. The media is so ego centric. If I didn’t blog, I wouldn’t learn half of what I learn about our friends around the world. It’s shameful. I’m sorry to hear of the loss of so many trees. How frightening to have fires burns so close to your home. I know a few people who lost there home in a fire. It’s quite traumatic.

      I hope one day you can escape your summer heat, so that you can truly relax.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh No Alys – not the August Blues!! Your dryer tale is enough to make anybody see RED – do you have consumer protection laws there? Surely a new unrepairable machine should be returned to the manufacturer and replaced with a new one? I’m probably stating the obvious for which I apologise! There is nothing worse than a machine that won’t work properly – after all that is all they have to do isn’t it! Grrrrr!! I’m glad you have a decent laundromat nearby however – otherwise you could march right into the store with your entire wardrobe in a plastic bag and politely require the assistant to dry your washing for you in lieu of the broken machine which they had recently sold you………..

    Slinky is getting ready to go – she may rally a bit when the air becomes a little cooler. Thank goodness she has you to bravely see her through. She knew what she was doing when she let you adopt her! It is a hard time isn’t it – my Orlando is a little frailer after this harsh winter – too soon, too soon!! We should skype soon! xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

      • Anne, it has to be repaired (or attempted to repair) three times before it falls under the Lemon Law. They are currently counting this as only two repairs, even though they’ve been out three times. I’ll keep you posted. I spent two hours at the laundromat yesterday so I’m good for a few more days. Sigh.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Pauline, so much goes on in my heart in August. This summer all these external problems are adding to my malaise. On the plus side, temperatures are cooler today and I can even see a bit of blue sky behind the haze.

      Slinky is on the decline for sure, but she continues to seek my lap and my company. She enjoys a few treats and the chicken baby food I bought for her and we still give her her thyroid medicine to keep that stable. Right now she’s snoozing on her pillows with the sun on her back. Not such a bad life.

      I phoned the sales rep that sold me the appliance who called Fisher Paykel. I’ve now spoken with two people there, including the regional manager. Progress…but still now working dryer.


      • Horrors Alys! Fisher Paykel was a New Zealand brand……. They sold out for big money leaving the factory here defunct and hundreds of workers out of jobs. I won’t purchase anything with that brand name on it now.


        • Oh good grief, Pauline! I heard they were a New Zealand brand, but I didn’t know anything about the sell out or the factory closure. They’ve been around since the 1930s. This makes me even sadder. We of course heard none of that on this end when that happened. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

    • Pauline, so much goes on in my heart in August. This summer all these external problems are adding to my malaise. On the plus side, temperatures are cooler today and I can even see a bit of blue sky behind the haze.

      Slinky is on the decline for sure, but she continues to seek my lap and my company. She enjoys a few treats and the chicken baby food I bought for her and we still give her her thyroid medicine to keep that stable. Right now she’s snoozing on her pillows with the sun on her back. Not such a bad life.

      I phoned the sales rep that sold me the appliance who called Fisher Paykel. I’ve now spoken with two people there, including the regional manager. Progress…but still now working dryer.


    • Thank you! It’s breezy today, which has been good for our air, but not necessarily good for fighting fires. Our friends 25 year old son is up north battling one of the blazes. His parents are both proud and worried, and honestly how could you be otherwise. Though lots of homes, property and of course forests have been destroyed, lives lost is limited to one crane operator so far. It’s devastating for all concerned.

      Thank you for your will wishes where Slinky is concerned. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been through Slinky-type situations all too often so I am really feeling for you–it’s harder on you than her, I imagine. I hope you are focusing on enjoying your time together. Regarding the dryer–I am furious just reading this account and would be ready to dismantle the store that sold the dryer, brick by brick. Where is their customer service?? This should not be your problem! OMG . . .

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Kerry. I’m sure you are right that it’s harder on me than Slinky. She’s just living her life, sleeping a ton, and enjoying some lap time. I would never let an animal linger in pain, so we keep a sharp eye on things and take it one day at a time. I knew you would relate.

      The dryer situation is unbelievable. It has now been escalated to the regional manager at Fisher Paykel who said it has to be repaired for a third time before they will replace it (under the lemon laws). Meanwhile, I was back at the laundry mat yesterday, enjoying my “free sauna” [insert sarcasm here] so my family is set with clean clothes and towels for another week.



  5. We have rain coming in Sept 2! I can hardly wait! I hope you get some too. This is a worldwide issue and fires are costing us. So many of California’s fires were set by an arsonist. They have him in custody but the damage is done and there is always another. I know what you mean about the dryer. I bought a very expensive sewing machine 2 years ago and have taken it back many times. It’s always blamed on my thread or threading. It’s technically the same design as my old machine that still works rings around the new one. Now it sits on the floor as an outrageously expensive doorstop. There is no lemon law for things like that. Can’t even sell it to someone else in good conscious. I bought it from a good company that I thought I could trust. Quality control is seriously lacking these days. SAD!
    I’m sorry to hear about Slinky’s struggles too. Life can just be hard some days. I’m ready for Aug to be over as well. Good luck with the lemon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • (((Marlene))) I’m so happy to hear that you have rain in your forecast. It would be wonderful to get some here too, though highly unusual in the Bay Area. I’ll check the long term forecast. I read about the arsonist in Lake County. He was charged with 17 incidents, and they’re now wondering if he was responsible for last year’s fire.

      Most of these fires are preventable (untended, illegal campfires, cigarettes tossed out car windows and of course arson.) Simply horrible.

      I’m sorry to hear you’ve had similar issues with your sewing machine. That is an expensive paper weight. It’s so annoying, too, when places like this blame you for the fact that the machine doesn’t work. Honestly, that makes my blood boil. When the latest repair person insisted that the new dryer needed longer screws I just shook my head. Whey would it leave the factory with the wrong screws? It makes no sense.

      I wonder why the lemon laws don’t apply to sewing machines? They should apply to all mechanical items.

      My dryer woes have been escalated to the regional manager of Fisher Paykel. Still no working dryer. Stay tuned for the update.

      Thanks for your always gracious and supportive words. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ugh, heat and what not and than this customer service…service?/ I don’t think so! Well Alys, we plough on through August and fall will come!! Please give Slinky a good hug from me!!! xo Johanna ps congrats on your weight loss, that is awesome!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your photos sum up the air quality ~ quite terrifying. I have been wondering whether you are still in drought, and I guess the answer is a resounding YES. I really sympathise, as I know you feel so powerless. In fact you have no control over any of the problems that are besetting you at the moment, and the most heartbreaking must be Slinky. As KerryCan said, it is harder on you than on her, but you will give her all the love to the end. I am sending you warm hugs to cool you down. x x x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Anne. Your words made me tear up a bit. You are such a dear. As for Slinky, you’re right. She isn’t worrying or stressing. She’s just being herself. She’s sleeping in the sun as I write this, and she spent part of last evening and this morning in my lap.

      The temps are cooler today and the air a bit cleaner. As for the drought, the El Nino conditions did not deliver as hoped. San Jose had an *average* rainfall year, but because we’re behind on both rainfall and snow melt, the state has depleted a lot of ground water. It’s a mess. A long, cleansing downpour sounds so good to me right now. Thank you for those warm hugs. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Alys, what a hard month for you. I do hope September will be kinder and that Slinky will remain pain-free for the rest of his time with you. Life can be rotten at times, can’t it. All the best to you my dear Alys. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, sweet Cathy. I appreciate your kind words. Writing about these problems helped clear my mind and also put some of it in perspective (at least with the dryer). Slinky is sleeping in the sun right now, after a nice bit of nap time earlier in the day. I hope that when her time comes, she slips away quietly and without distress. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Hello bestie xo. First, hugs and kisses to you and sweet Slinky. That’s a cute photo of her. I just love me those kitty toes. She looks comfy on that pillow. Wow, 5 lbs! That’s teeny-tiny for sure. I’m really glad she’s coming to your lap. What a long way from the side yard hey?

    I thought I’d see if there was any discussion board about FP’s crumby dryer on-line and maybe a solution or answer to the trouble. I ended up at Consumer Affairs website and it’s all rather predictable. You are, by far, not alone in your ‘lack of service’ situation (as if that is any comfort). I can’t see how they stay in business actually. Well, perhaps your persistence will be rewarded, I sure hope so.

    I’m really worried about all these fires. So much devastation and sadness for people, their homes and wildlife too. I wish we could somehow send you some of our moisture. The saddest thing is, these disasters are usually manmade. Fire fighting is a tremendous drain on the finances of the governments too. Not to mention the economy takes a big hit. Honestly, the hi-light of the past few months was your visit and our trip to the mountains. Thanks for being my bright spot ((( Alys ))) xo hang in there ❤ ❤ Boomdee bestie


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  11. Oh dear. What a stressful, frustrating month you have had, Alys! Know that I’m thinking of you and your family with hopes that a sparkling, new dryer will be installed very soon. Enjoy quiet times with Slinky. Sending two hugs across the miles. Wish I could send steady rain showers, too. ♡


    • Thank you for your well wishes, Dawn, and for your warm hugs. Still no dryer, but a trip to the laundry mat yesterday at least has me in order for another week. Slinky is calling me from the other room now…xo


  12. Gosh, it’s been so long since I’ve visited, or at least it seems that way, so I’m taking a quick swing through your blog before racing off to work.
    That dryer story! ARGH!!
    While I love the fact that you are grateful to have appliances where others don’t (we all need to be more mindful of how fortunate we are), you have every right to be completely and utterly frustrated! Seven days later, how are things?
    Thanks for the Slinky update. 5lbs is so tiny! Glad you are there to care for her, and my thoughts are with YOU as you care for her.


    • Hi Laurie, so nice to have you swing by. 🙂 The dryer saga continues. Long story, but it’s back in the repair shop today. They have to make a third attempt at repairs before the manufacturer will replace it. It’s under warranty, so the repairs themselves aren’t costing us anything, but the time, energy and expense of using the laundry mat is really adding up. So far all they’ve offered is to extend the warranty by a year.

      Slinky is mostly sleeping, eating a bit, and sitting in my lap in the evenings. I pet her with a finger instead of my hand and she lightly purrs. Thank you for your well wishes. Much appreciated. xo


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