March Blahs

November and March are my least favorite months. I consider them both transitional weather months but since November at least starts with some foliage AND has Thanksgiving, it has a small advantage and thus, gives it a slight edge over March.

March feels like the longest month of the year, and not in a good way. Sure it’s one of our “31 day” months, but it feels like it drags on forever! Aside from the day when we wear green and a shamrock necklace, there isn’t much to celebrate here. Some reasons why March ranks #12 on my list:

1- THE WEATHER: One day we get 4 inches of snow and then the next it’s 50 degrees. We Michiganders literally have 3 seasons worth of outerwear and shoes ready to go at all times. Boots & gloves one day, spring jacket the very next. It’s not safe to pack away your winter stuff yet, but sometimes you need to break out the spring stuff instead. All of that leads to extra crowded mudrooms, backseats and garages.

2- OUR YARDS: When the snow melts the yard becomes a swampy, brown/green mess full of crap (literally) from last fall/winter. Even if you don’t own a pet, somehow you still have it in your yard! It’s too wet to rake or try to do much cleaning and the ground is still too hard to absorb the standing water. And just when the water finally dries, we get more snow! We will repeat the cycle of snow/melt/mud for weeks yet.

3- DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME: Sure we gain an hour of daylight at night and I am grateful for it. It takes weeks for me to adjust to it. I find myself oversleeping because it’s still dark in the morning and making dinner later in the evening. It doesn’t “feel” like time to make dinner even if it is 7:00!

4- POTHOLES: This is the worst time of year for these tire popping, crash causing, weaving-like-your-drunk nuisances. The constant frozen-thaw conditions plays havoc on our roads and try as they might, the road crews literally can’t keep up. A loose pile of asphalt piled in a pothole is not an uncommon sight, nor is the sound of it hitting the underside of your car. Or is it salt? It’s probably both!

April will be here soon and while the beginning of it may not look much different than March, it brings the promise of actual spring. By the middle of the month we will be opening our windows here and there to let in a fresh breeze, start seeing flowers pop up and hear birds singing. We can start cleaning our yards and putting out patio furniture. Maybe, just maybe we’ll even get a car wash that lasts for more than a day!

We just have to make it through the rest of this month first!

A Smart House

For the last three years we lived in a third floor, secured building and before that, a three story townhouse with adjoining homes. Our new neighborhood is a fine neighborhood don’t get me wrong, but there is something a bit unsettling about having your bedroom windows on ground level again after all that time. I suggested investing in cameras facing the front and back yard that will allow me to be alerted and see the video when someone approaches the house. It would come in handy for deliveries, when we are out of town, etc. They are pretty common place these days.

That conversation led to inviting Alexa into our house. I had some misgivings because I hate the idea of “someone” listening in at all times. It already happens with my phone and Google. Why would I want or need an Alexa device? I’m capable of turning my own lights on and off, etc. My husband loved the idea and started adding things to his Amazon cart so I shrugged and let him run with it.

We now have a smart thermostat which I have to admit, IS a cool feature. It lets us set a schedule so we aren’t heating the house as much when we aren’t there. I can use my app to turn it down during the day and then turn it back up as I leave work so that when I get home in twenty minutes it is nice and toasty. Although I have YET to actually remember to do that! Luckily it doesn’t take that long to warm up the house.

The thermostat made sense to be. Getting smart bulbs and plugs did not seem necessary. How lazy has our society become that we can’t turn on and off a lamp? Fast forward a month and I haven’t touched a lamp switch in my living room since the day we put the bulbs in! First of all, they are dimmable. How cool is THAT? The lamps themselves are just standard lamps but now they can magically be dimmed. I can say “Alexa, lights at 50%” and the room darkens for tv viewing. Need more light? “Alexa, lights at 100%” and instantly both lamps adjust. We have a lamp in the upstairs loft on the same network so I don’t have to go up and down the stairs just to avoid having it be a dark void up there. It’s also nice to use the app and have the lights on when we pull in the driveway at night. Who likes to come home to a dark house?!

She has some pretty cool features including a “guard” feature which will alert us to the sound of a smoke alarm or breaking glass, she can add items to our Amazon cart and remind us that it’s time to order a reoccurring item, and will play any genre of music upon request (something I use frequently). My favorite feature though are the routines. I can say “Alexa, goodnight” and she will turn off the lamps and lower the thermostat. My husband has his own “Good Morning” routine. He also likes to ask her about the daily forecast, top news stories, and occasionally a good “dad” joke.

I tend to say “please” and “thank you” when asking her to do things. It just feels like the right thing to do. She will usually say “you’re welcome” and has even sang it to me before. She’s told me to have a nice day or she hopes I had a good weekend. She even pronounces my name correctly. It’s like having a very polite roommate around.

I may have had my doubts in the beginning but now I can’t imagine living without her. I suspect we will be adding more smart items over time. I know there is a way to connect her to our Roku and I will probably add more lamps as well. I’m holding out hope that one day I’ll be able to have her start dinner for me!