I Need a Vacation

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?

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The Great Move (Otherwise Known as the Purge)

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.

On The Road Finally

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.

This is it!

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.

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven Days Left

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.

The Countdown Begins

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?

Time to Exhale

Now the panic sets in. So much to do, so little time. Isn’t that always the case? We found out in January that the airline Mitch works for was going to start vendoring out twenty eight stations across the country. At that time it wasn’t defined yet whether or not United was going to vendor out both the above the wing and the below the wing employees in all twenty eight stations. The plan was to seek outside company bids in each of the cities affected and pay people to come in, load and unload planes, work the ticket counter and gate for wages ranging from a third less to half of what the airline employees are currently making. Such “good” news right after Christmas was definitely not well received.

My first instinct at hearing the news was to go into survival mode, cancel the paper, cancel cable, sell almost everything we own and eat only every other day. After a couple of days I calmed down enough to realize that I might be over reacting just a bit, we could probably eat most every day. The waiting game started, which stations were for sure going to be vendored out, and was it going to be both upstairs and down or just one side? Rumors started flying, so we didn’t know what was true and what wasn’t. Were the employees affected going to get any type of severance pay or was it going to be “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way out.”

Word came out in February that our station was going to be one of the twenty eight stations hit and it was going to be the ramp agents going away. The next step was the options selections. The airline was going to open up the unaffected stations to allow agents to transfer to granted they held enough seniority to move there. There was also the option to retire and take an enhanced severance pay, if the agent met a myriad of requirements, age, length of service, etc. If none of the above fit then there was always furlough with recall rights. Yeah right, first they’re told to hit the road and then they might get called back.

Finally April 10th the airline published the list of cities that were available for the agents to bid on to relocate to if that was their choice or severance or furlough. Those choices were required to be turned back in no later than April 14th. Then the airline promised to return the result of each agent’s choice on April 24th. We actually received our notice on Thursday the 23rd that Mitch will go to Seattle. He has to report on May 17th, not much time.

That was when I started “The Mitch List”, all the projects that I cannot physically do, like finish the trim work, hang the last pieces of sheetrock in the kitchen, install three sheets of plywood on the outside of the garage so I can have it sided to match the house. Then it’s all up to me to do the finish work in and around the house so I can get it on the market and sold soon.

Can you imagine what lies ahead? There is so much stuff to go through and get rid of, landscaping, and just the prettying up so it will look nice for potential buyers. I’m just really glad I have a well-stocked wine rack, because I’m going to need it.