With the station wagon out of commission, it has been a week of no dog mobile so for each showing I put the leashes on the dogs and headed out for a really long walk. Tuesday we had two showings at the same time. I hoped I would come home to a house with no broken furniture. Luckily Tuesday was a bit cooler with cloudy skies and a chance of rain. As we headed out the door it started to rain (as is always my luck) so I grabbed the umbrella. You have no idea how much fun it is to walk two bratty undisciplined dogs and carry an umbrella at the same time. It is almost better to just get as wet as them, at least I don’t get yanked around and poke myself with the umbrella as one dog goes one way and one goes the other way.
We walked down to the dam and about half way there the rain really started to come down. It poured on us as we walked the last quarter mile to the dam. People coming home from work looked at us like we were nuts, especially me for taking those poor “babies” out in the miserable conditions. Yeah right. If they would have accepted the crates a little better then they would have stayed dry and I could have jumped in the truck and headed out to let potential buyers poke through my closets and drawers.
We sat under the canopy of the shelter house at the dam and watched the rain come down even harder. It looked like we would be sitting there for a while. At least it wasn’t ninety five degrees with the humidity in the “rain forest” zone; though it was raining like we were in the rain forest. After about thirty minutes the rain let up and I figured that maybe the house would be empty by the time we got there so we started back. As we topped the hill overlooking the house I could still see cars in the driveway, so I walked the dogs right past the house and turned to the right to circle around the block hoping they were close to finishing up. The dogs looked up at me like I had lost my mind. Here we are at the driveway, what’s up? They wanted to go in and get dried off, they were not happy that we were still walking. I circled the block and came back up to the top of the hill and saw the cars still there, so I turned around and heading back the way we came. As we came back around the cars were gone; as I turned into the driveway, I could have sworn I heard a big sigh from Charlie.
Wednesday it turned back hot with a vengeance. Working outside repairing some wood rot damage was miserable. The temperatures were again in the high nineties with high humidity and no breeze. The air was stifling and still, the only plus was that my son and I were working in the shade. I must be getting old, because I do not handle the heat very well this year.
Thursday night strong storms were forecasted and this time the weather forecasters got it right. Mother Nature hit us hard, straight line winds from seventy to eight miles an hour uprooted a neighbor’s large tree. It fell down blocking the road. The storm also knocked out our power at two am. I know because it woke me up when all of a sudden it got very dark and quiet in the house. Super. I had an inspection on the house scheduled at two pm. I hoped the power would be back on when I came home at lunch to pick up the dogs and take them to doggie day care.
No such luck, power was still out all day Friday. Friday night trying to sleep with no ventilation was a challenge at best. Saturday I woke up to no power still and thought great, there goes the food in the freezer and fridge. I jumped in the truck, ran up to the store and picked up three bags of ice hoping to salvage a few things. I wandered from room to room trying to decide what to do. No power, I can’t get on the computer, I can’t do laundry, vacuuming is out and no point in going out to the garage to clean it out. With no power the garage doors weren’t going to open and I had no lights, it was just a big dark space waiting for me to trip over all of the tools and boxes laying out there in wait.
I pulled a chair under the window and just sat there trying to stay cool with the slight breeze. That was when I realized how dependent I am on electricity. What a wimp.
Mitch is in Seattle and I’m here getting the house ready to sell so I can load up the dogs and head west. It has been a long arduous month getting rid of a lot of stuff and packing up boxes after boxes of more stuff. What I really should do is after everything is packed up, go back through each box and throw away half of what’s in each one.
Saturday a week ago the house went on the market and I had promised myself that when it happened, I would go get a massage. Lord knows my back and feet needed some tender touches, so I decided to add in a pedicure along with the massage. I locked the dogs in crates and headed out for a little pampering.
I had my first showing almost immediately after getting home from my little bit of self-indulgence. I had just enough time to feed the dogs and load them up in the station wagon to escape. Of course this weekend was oppressively hot with temperatures over ninety eight and it felt like it was over a hundred. The station wagon struggled to pump out even moderately cool air. Sunday morning I ran a quick errand and came home to find Orso not in his crate but waiting at the top of the basement stairs. Somehow he escaped. To say I was not pleased was an understatement.
Sunday afternoon I had three showings scheduled and again it was in the high nineties and felt much hotter. I loaded up the dogs and headed out. This time I planned a little better and loaded the car with water for the dogs and me, leashes and car charger for my cell phone, just in case. We weren’t gone thirty minutes when an afternoon thunderstorm popped up causing us to sit in a ballfield parking lot watching as lightning flashed across the sky. I hoped that the car was lightning proof.
Monday morning I took the dogs to the basement to crate them up and neither one was having any of that. Charlie turned around and went back upstairs refusing to come down and Orso would not get in the crate. Can you imagine trying to push one hundred pounds of dog in one direction while he wants to go a different direction? The dogs hated the crates and I knew they wouldn’t be happy but I didn’t think I would be faced with outright anarchy. The treats I threw in the crates went untouched as both dogs refused to be bribed. I had to go to work and couldn’t leave them running loose because I had a showing scheduled for the morning and three more that evening.
I had to put the leash on Charlie to walk him down the stairs and into the crate. I grabbed Orso’s collar and shoved him in, latched the door and just to be safe I took tie downs and wrapped them around his crate cinching them tight. I then turned both crates to face each other so they could see each other and hopefully be reassured they weren’t alone. I came home for lunch to check on them and take them for a walk. Orso had been working on destroying the crate, pulling at the wire door and bending in two of the wires toward him which could poke him and make him bleed. I searched for a pair of pliers to bend the wires back and Orso pulled the door back toward him getting his head stuck between the door and the crate. I had to get his head unstuck then pull the door back to the outside of the crate and keep a very unhappy dog in the crate at the same time. Not an easy feat. This time after I finally got him secured in the crate and the door locked I used the tie downs again then turned his crate up against the wall in an effort to keep Orso contained until I got home.
Monday evening I got home and thankfully both dogs were stilled in their crates, unhappy at me but still contained. I fed them and loaded them up for three showings, all back to back from five to five forty five. Another scorcher I drove the poor overworked station wagon down to the dam to let the dogs run a bit before sitting in the air conditioned car. When I finally was headed home I noticed a hot smell in the car. Thinking it might have been the car charger for my cell phone, I pulled it out hoping that was the cause. That’s when I noticed the smoke coming out of the vents, super. I looked at the front end of the car and saw smoke coming out of the hood. Getting better. I sped up hoping everyone was gone and I could get the car into the driveway before it died.
I backed in the driveway, got the dogs out and in the house then went back to the car to check on it. I turned it off and raised the hood. Smoke was coming out at the bottom of the air-conditioning compressor. Wonderful, the day just got even better. That was the only car I had to get the dogs chauffeured around. Where is Mitch when I need him?
At that moment all I wanted to do was walk back in the house open a bottle of wine and go sit in the corner and have a pity party. Why do I get all the fun stuff to do?
Everyone should have to pack up their stuff and move every five years. It should be a rule. No one should ever stay in one place for so long that they have more stuff than they know what to do with. We all accumulate “priceless treasures” over the years and in the end we look at all of it in utter shock and realize it’s just stuff and definitely not priceless. Now that Mitch has relocated to Seattle and is working full time there, it has been left up to me to pack up our belongs and clean out the house in order to put it on the market and get it sold.
It is and has been a daunting task, but I think it has been better that I’m doing the clearing out part without Mitch. I have discovered that he is a secret hoarder and left unchecked he would have covered every inch of open space with opened boxes of nuts and bolts, screws, the odd tool here and there and a large DSW shoe bag filled with old gloves (you never know when you might want to stick your hand in an old nasty glove). I even found a plastic container filled with empty shot gun shell boxes (because empty boxes two inches by three inches will come in handy sometime). I found a large spool of coaxial cable, probably enough to re-run our entire house twice over. These are all things I found in the basement and I haven’t even had a chance to look in the garage. That will require a very large dumpster.
I can’t say I’m much better about throwing things away, but I’m not quite as bad. We are the children of parents that grew up during The Great Depression where you saved every scrap you had because at some point in time you were going to need it and there was no money to go and buy a replacement. I grew up watching my mother wash used empty plastic bags, turn them inside out to dry to reuse them. She smoothed out used aluminum foil for reuse. Mitch’s father is way worse. He saves everything. Their garage is packed from the back of the garage to the front with extra furniture, boxes of things and overflow from the house. We are not that bad, but could easily be.
Sorry I digress. As I started sorting through the containers in the basement that stored old blankets and pillows I would set aside some for Goodwill and pack some. Then it dawned on me the reason these were in containers was that we didn’t use them. I didn’t even remember putting them in the containers and storing them. So out went all of old blankets for a full size bed, mind you we have a king size bed now.
My problem was that I was looking at all of the stuff and what we paid for each and every thing. I was putting an emotional value on stuff, not based on what it meant to me but what it cost me to acquire. I didn’t need it and wasn’t using it, had even forgotten I had it, but it was still in good condition so I was attaching a false need for it. As soon as I got over that hurdle, I have been able to make multiple trips to charities with a boat load of “stuff”. I am not a “garage sale” person. I have neither time nor patience to set all of my belongings in the driveway, sit around and wait for someone to come and haggle over pennies for stuff I don’t want.
I am getting to the end of the purge for the inside of the house, and after a ninety minute massage, pedicure and two bottles of wine, I hope to have my strength back and will tackle “The Garage”. If you don’t hear from me in a few days send in a search team.
I fell again today. This in itself is not new; I have a special knack at falling. I don’t know why I fall all the time, I just always seem to find the right circumstance and my body capitalizes on the moment and topples over. Granted there are a lot of times the dogs do all they can to help me crash and burn. They will give chase to an animal like a squirrel, deer or a yeti while I’m attached at the other end of the leash. Or they will hit me from behind while chasing each other around the yard. But a lot of my falls are all on me.
Mitch is not surprised anymore on my falls, what surprises him is the circumstance that causes the fall. One time was when I was carrying a four foot stepladder from one spot to another, earning me the nickname, “Dances with Ladders”. Another time it was a simple misstep to avoid a super cheap solar light causing me to fall down a flight of steps and crash into the house. I cannot count the number of ways that I’ve fallen lately; it seems that a day doesn’t go by that I haven’t fallen either over something or backwards or just walking across the floor. Maybe I’m top heavy like those high profile SUV’s that fall over in tight turns or on windy highways. Or maybe I’m just clumsy. As Mitch says, “It’s a gift.
This morning’s fall was once again a task that normal people would have no trouble accomplishing without even slowing them down. My only possible excuse is the weather and Casual Friday, and that’s iffy at best. The Midwest has been hammered with rain and storms for the last couple of weeks. Everything is water soaked and there is no real end in sight. Because it’s Casual Friday I had on jeans and deck shoes so that if the rain stops at lunch time I can come home and give the dogs a midday walk. I was on my way out the door to work, I had my purse, my lunch bag and my keys in my hand when I pulled the door closed. The door didn’t close all of the way so I turned around to pull it to the limit, just to make sure it was latched. Don’t want someone to come and steal the dogs, yeah right like that’s going to happen.
Anyway, when I turned back toward the door my deck shoes slipped on the slick wet wooden steps and I went down hard. The storm door whacked me on my right shoulder blade adding insult to injury. My left knee and shin were stinging, my right thigh burned and my right palm was on fire. I stood up and looked down at my dirty wet jeans and unlocked the door, evidently it was closed enough to catch the lock. I went in and took my shoes off, pulled off my wet dirty jeans and took off my top because it was also wet and dirty.
I checked my knee, shin and thigh. I am sporting a six inch thin bruise along my right thigh, my knee has the skin abraded off of it which will bruise up and I have a large knot and a bruise on my shin. I thought the whole purpose of deck shoes was that they helped a person maintain their balance on wet wood surfaces like decks and docks. Why is it only me that cannot do a simple task like turn around?
Now that Mitch is in Seattle permanently and I am home working on getting the house ready to sell, our schedule and routine has changed dramatically. The dogs are still trying to adjust and figure out what is happening. Before I would get up at 2:15 in the morning, feed the dogs and take them outside for a quick outing in the yard, then take them for a walk after I took Mitch to work. Now I have the alarm set at 3:30 in the morning, a whole hour and fifteen minutes more sleep, yay. I get up feed the dogs but instead of going outside, I take them for a walk then come back eat breakfast and get ready for work. Not a big change, but enough to throw the dogs off.
Since it is just me now I come home at lunch and take them for another walk, then head back to work. After work I come home let them out for a quick pee, the entire time Orso is running around like a lunatic barking at me and letting the world know he is alive and feels great. Big Doofus. Then I take them back inside feed them, change my clothes and take them for a long walk to burn off some pent up energy. Of course now that Mitch is not here they devote all of their attention on me and what I’m doing. They follow me from room to room constantly under foot, making sure I don’t get away.
Last night after a long day, I didn’t get to bed until after 9pm and of course was over tired so I couldn’t fall asleep right away and then it was a restless sleep. Orso decided he wanted to sleep with me, something he doesn’t normally do, so I let him. About 1am I woke up to a chirping noise, great the battery on the smoke alarm was going dead. Why is it that the smoke alarm batteries always go dead in the middle of the night? Is it some conspiracy by the manufacturers to make us crazy? Do they plan it that way to force us to get out of bed and run around the house searching for the chirp just to make us change the batteries on a timely basis?
I just stuck a finger in my ear and pulled the covers over my head and hoped that I could fall back asleep for a couple more hours. Orso was not so inclined. The chirping was upsetting him. For all he knew it was some strange alien running around searching for dogs to eat. He started making weird noises and moved closer to me, causing me to pull my pillow farther away from him. That didn’t make him happy so he stood up walked over and stood on top of my head. I had to find the lamp turn it on and get Orso off the bed. He stood there looking at me like I was feeding him to sharks, but finally lay down. I turned the light off and tried to go back to sleep. Just about the time I dozed off Charlie decided he needed to get into bed and away from the chirping alien and Orso. That was about 2:15. One hour and fifteen minutes left to sleep that was all I could think about. How quickly could I get back to sleep, how much of the hour and fifteen minutes could I squeak in?
Evidently not much, because Orso was back panting in my face at 2:50 letting me know that the alien was stalking him and he wanted it to go away. This morning my day got to start at 2:50am. The world was working against me.
By the time I finally got Mitch loaded up and in the car it was 11:30am. We discussed the route and decided to take I-29 north to I-90 in South Dakota and head west straight through to Washington. The drive was pretty boring until we crossed the state line into South Dakota. The people in South Dakota know how to keep drivers entertained.
We passed many road signs touting the many sights to stop and see along the way. One road sign in particular was really entertaining. The sign read, “24 hour toe service” for a tow truck company. We laughed long and hard over that one. The other phenomenon we were really surprised at was the amount of pheasants walking along the side of the highway or in the grassy area between the east and west bound lanes. We saw quite a few along the side of the road as road kill. As pheasant hunters, we wished we could have this problem when we’re out in the field hunting.
Because of the late start, we didn’t get as far as I wanted. We stopped in Wall, South Dakota to spend the night. Friday night we went to sleep with temperatures in the seventies and woke up Saturday morning to a cold rain and temperatures around forty degrees. Huge shocker! I didn’t bring anything heavier to wear than a light jacket. Mitch loaned me one of his sweater vests to wear under my jacket for added layers
Mitch turned on the weather channel and got even better news, a winter (oops spring) snow storm with a forecast of five to eight inches on Saturday and another foot forecast for Sunday. So much for sightseeing, the firebird is made for the beach, sunny skies and the top down, not snow skiing. Time to load up and head west. The weather map made it look like we should drive out of it in Wyoming. Guess what? They got it wrong, we didn’t drive out of the snow until we got to Montana. I could not believe how hard it was snowing and in May!
It could only happen to us.
Friday morning we got up around 4:30am normal for a day off. I know, normal? This was it, the big day. This was the day we load up the firebird with as much stuff as we could cram in, stuff that Mitch will need for the short term and head west. Mitch was to have all of his clothes washed and packed. But as is always the case, Mitch was behind. Thursday afternoon he was to pack and load the car. Didn’t happen. Friends and family realizing that Thursday was his last day here for real and not “just fooling” came by to say good bye. He spent a large part of his afternoon catching up and saying good bye to longtime friends, friends he grew up with, friends he made along the way.
Friday morning Mitch “The Snail” poked along, finishing up laundry, ironing and deciding what to take. He was able to fit two totes in the back seat of the car (with the seat back down). He filled the totes with of his uniforms. He filled one of our largest suitcases with street clothes; slacks, shirts, underwear and socks. I filled a milk crate with all of his vitamins, four bags of Milky Way candy bars and cappuccino mix. What is more balanced than vitamins, candy bars and cappuccino mix? Of course all of these were absolute essentials because everyone knows Seattle is some remote little dinky town without benefit of Walmart or a grocery store. Yes I know I was going overboard, but what else could I do, it’s my job to take care of him.
About 10:00am I could see the signs, Mitch was poking, the longer it took him to get loaded up, the longer he could forestall the inevitable. If I let him, he would stand in one spot and not move all day. Of course this was making me crazy. I had wanted to be on the road by about 8:00am, not that I wanted to be rid of him but this was also my vacation and I wanted to spend part of the trip sightseeing. Once again a case of the whirlwind crashing into the brick wall. I walked up to him and said something really hokey.
I put my hands on his arms and said, “The journey starts with a step.” Pretty lame, huh?
That’s when he looked at me and said, “I don’t want to go. I don’t want to go and leave you here with all of this.”
I told him that it would be fine and that this was going to be an adventure. This was something we’ve talked about doing, not Washington, per se, but going somewhere else. We just hadn’t pulled the trigger. Change is hard and taking that first step is the hardest. I guess fate decided we needed a nudge.
One week gone and one week to go, the Mitch List has two items completed, new tires and an oil change for the station wagon, but I don’t have much hope for the other items getting done. I don’t know how to sharpen the mower blade so I guess I’ll just keep whacking the grass, not that we have a showcase lawn anyway, more like a poster child ad showing why you should go with a bulldozer and start over. On the inside of the house, we have one last wall in the kitchen that needed a decision, sheetrock or wood planks. Sheetrock won out because we thought it would be quicker. Mitch got the sheetrock hung and started on the mudding, but has not had an opportunity to start sanding, so I guess I will learn a new skill or maybe I’ll just leave it bare, splatter paint on it and call it art.
Knowing Mitch as well as I do, I know he always waits until the last minute to start anything whether it is a project or even get ready to go somewhere. He just moves at a slower pace than me and it makes me insane. In order to shorten my list I started a hundred different projects at once and ended up with a hundred different messes and nothing completed. I started sorting through some of the accumulation of decades of stuff dividing it up into three piles, the toss pile for trash items, the goodwill pile for salvageable stuff for someone to take, and the keep pile to pack away so I can unpack in the future and go through this again. The toss piles are easy, as soon as I get a good size pile I throw it in the trash can. The goodwill pile is a little tougher. I have multiple goodwill piles ready to go to some charity, I just need to call the charity to come and get it and I haven’t had a chance to do that. I need to add “call charity” to my “To Do” list.
Poor Mitch, I feel so sorry for him. He walks from room to room looking at the chaos I’ve created with a shell shot look on his face. I think he’s gone around the bend and is in overload mode. I’m pretty sure that nothing more on the Mitch List is going to get done and I’m almost to the point where I’m ready to sell the house lock, stock and barrel as is for a fire sale price. I’d even be happy if a hurricane came along and blew it away. I’m just not really sure a hurricane can make it to the Midwest. Oh well, I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
As soon as we found out that Seattle would be our new home and we only had two weeks to get him out there, panic set in. The first thing I did was to start making lists, one list for all of the projects that Mitch would need to get done before he left, one list for all of the stuff that Mitch needed to take with him and one list for me, listing all of the things I needed to get done before I can put the house on the market and sell it. Needless to say, my list is much longer than his.
We decided that Mitch would take the firebird with him and I would keep the station wagon (for the dogs) and the truck. Because of the limited space in the car, I couldn’t send all of the really important things you need when you move, dishes, silverware, a bed, etc. His idea was to only take his uniforms and necessary toiletries.
You should have seen the look on his face, when I set out a pillow for him. He asked why he needed a pillow. I told him that when he finds an apartment and is not staying in a motel, he’ll be glad he has a pillow. He looked at me with a blank look on his face for a moment then the light came on. Oh, yeah, that will come in handy. You can sleep on the floor for a couple of days if necessary, but a pillow comes in very handy. Men, they don’t think like women at all. I’m thinking of all of the stuff he’ll need for the short term and what will fit in the car until I get the house sold and move out there. Mitch is only thinking of his very immediate needs, clothes, how to get to work and what he has to do to get up to speed at work.
As each day ended, marking the countdown to loading up the car and heading west, I could see that the Mitch list projects were not going to get done. That means I’m going to have to learn how to do some things I’ve never done before. Good thing I have a whole bunch of power tools to learn on. I just hope the house survives.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?