Thursday, September 30, 2010


Two things:

Thing the first: I have discovered one of the drawbacks of not yet legally changing my last name. I put in a change-of-address form for me and for Dan when we left Denver late on Wednesday night, and got an email confirmation for both. Dan got his on Monday and, using that, was able to get a library card here in the 'dale for using internet on library computers, checking out books/movies, etc. But mine never came. And then my mom told me that when she moved out of the house, nearly 2 months ago, she'd put in a change of address for everyone with that last name at her Cloverdale address. So it's not only possible, but likely, that all of my mail is coming to Cloverdale and then getting forwarded to her new house. I've been to the post office here, and they couldn't really tell me anything. So in the meantime, I can't even get a library card because I have no proof of address. Harrumph.

Thing the second: The moving company we used, ABS, promised me that a) it would take our stuff 5 business days to arrive at the terminal in Santa Rosa, and b) someone would call me during the time it was in transit to let me know what day to expect it, so I could rent a local truck and haul it up to Cloverdale. Today is 6 business days, and since nobody had called I called them this morning, only to learn that our stuff is in Sacramento, may be at the terminal tomorrow but probably not until Monday. Somehow, 5 business days and notice = 8 business days and no notice. I'm not very happy about spending another several days with a too-small, sort of uncomfortable bed, 2 uncomfortable chairs, a table that isn't for eating on so the top slides around and gets all wobbly if touched, no TV/computer/router for internet, not much kitchen stuff or clothing, etc., but we'll have to make do. Thank goodness Dan got a library card so we have books to read and DVDs to watch on the laptop!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Full circle

I never remember how much work it is to move until I do it. Packing, organizing, getting rid of stuff we don't want, shredding/destroying all that junk mail with personally identifying information (like those awful fake check things that credit cards send), and, of course the cleaning - it's all hours and hours and hours of unfun work. We spent weeks trying to get rid of things for money and then a couple of weeks trying to get rid of things for free, and some stuff still ended up in the alleyway or given to my cousin across the street or our upstairs neighbors.

My last day of work was a Monday, and that evening I packed and organized and cleaned while Dan deposited the cats at his parents' house and retrieved his dad's big truck for hauling things. Tuesday, we loaded up the truck with boxes and assorted things four times, and Dan drove it up to the place where our 9 feet of trailer to be hauled by ABF lived, unloaded it, and played a life-sized game of Tetris to figure out how to fit everything into the allotted space in the best way. While Dan was out doing his bit, I stayed in the house doing more packing, organizing, and cleaning, fielding emails from craigslist from people who for sure wanted the stuff we were selling but never showed up to buy, and feeling totally weird because we were LEAVING the place we lived for over four years, and the state I'd lived for nearly 8 years, and the state Dan had lived in since before the age of two.

We worked late into the evening on Tuesday, and got takeout pizza, and saw Julie and Steve for a few minutes, but were otherwise too tired to do anything. Wednesday we were up early and spent nearly an hour trying to figure out how to get the couch through the front door. After removing the feet, we finally got it, but it took some serious doing and both of our brains and brawn to accomplish. We did two or three more truckloads of furniture and random assorted stuff, and then Dan came back to help me with the remainder of the cleaning. And oh, internet, there was so much cleaning to be done - carpet shampooing and wall scrubbing and all manner of other surfaces that needed to be cleaned. (I was ridiculously glad that we'd already done the heavy kitchen cleaning like the oven and the greasy walls/cabinets and the fridge and all the blinds in the house the weekend before.) I scrubbed and wiped and washed and generally kept my hands in graspy claw position or squirt bottle trigger pose all day long, with the exception of when I helped load the truck. We were due for our walk-through with the landlords at 5 PM, and of course it rained that day (OF COURSE) and then the mop broke and we were just terribly behind and so we had to call them and tell them to push it back until 6. (I cleaned the laundry room floor, the kitchen floor, and the hallway floor ON MY HANDS AND KNEES WITH A RAG AND SIMPLE GREEN due to the mop incident.)

They showed up sometime after 6:30. We still had to drive up to the truck center and finish playing life-sized Tetris with our stuff and tie it all down with rope but of course we had to wait for them, and then they wanted to chat about something or other, but finally Jenny wrote me a check for our pro-rated rent, we shoved all the stuff that would be going in the car with us into the truck (much of it going into a pillowcase that seemed to triple in size; the more we put in the more it held) and got goodbye monkey hugs from the 9-year-old next door and got in the truck and drove north.

It took us until after 9:30 to finish loading the truck. I stood on things and lifted things and shoved things and finagled things and silently thanked myself for all the times I'd gone to the gym to lift weights in the last several years, because if I wasn't regularly lifting 40K pounds in a variety of ways using a variety of muscles, I don't think I would have been able to do everything I had to do in that dark truck in the rain late at night after days of lifting and twisting and bending and cleaning all the things. Finally, we managed to get everything into our allotted space, and tied down with rope so as not to have it move around too much, and finished the drive up to Dan's parents house. When we got there, I'd stiffened up and felt 120 years old, but we had one more job to finish - we'd traded beds with one of their guest beds, and so we brought our old mattress and box spring out of the truck and into the guest bedroom. The kitties were noticeably wigged out, and we each took some painkillers, ate some dinner that Dan's mom had kept warm for us, and fell into bed, completely exhausted.

We got up before 7 the next morning in order to get all of our stuff out of the truck so Dan's dad could go to work, and it took us about 2 hours to figure out what all we'd be able to fit in the car, what would need to be mailed to us, and what could wait until spring when Dan's newly-retired parents come to visit us in California in their 5th wheel. After several calls to our vet, we'd finally gotten our hands on some kitty valium and hoped our car ride wouldn't be too miserable (if Loki can emit 3 fluids in a one-hour car ride, what can he do in 10 hours?) So we dosed the cats and shoved 'em in their carriers, made one last stop to Target and Petsmart for some road supplies, and officially began our trip to California around 10 AM.

Somehow, the kitty drugs and the kitty calming spray we'd picked up seemed to do the trick, and Wyoming and Utah passed with only one poop incident, no pee, and no barf. There wasn't even much yowling after the first hour or so, just two really high kitties. I didn't take any photos, since we've done the drive several times, and mostly we just listened to music, checked on the cats, and only had to stop a couple of times for gas/pee/$5 footlong. I'd planned to do some knitting on a baby blanket for an October baby, but my hands and forearms hurt so much from the overuse of the previous days that I couldn't even grasp the needles without yelping in pain, so I did nothing but do my best to entertain Dan, who did all the driving. I tried to get the cats to drink some water and use the box during one of our stops, but neither of them were interested in either option, so we just let them be until we pulled into the Motel 6 in Wendover, UT, checked in, sprayed some kitty spray in the room, and let 'em out. Luckily, the drugs were wearing off right around that time and so they both spent time exploring, eating, drinking, and using the box we set up in the bathroom.

We set out early on Friday for the remainder of our drive, only to realize that the car was making a funny noise and the lights were sort of flickering, which scared us. Serendipitously, Wendover has a plethora of places to get your car looked at, since it's right next to the Bonneville Salt Flats (where people come to drive cars really really really fast). We had to wait until 8 AM for one of them to open, and when it finally did, the guy poked around under the hood and declared us OK to drive. "One of the police cars in town was doing that for years," he told us, and surmised that our alternator (the one we just had replaced), while functional, was responsible for the noise and the flickering. I figure that once one of us is employed that we'll have it swapped out again for a different one.

Friday's drive was quite a bit hotter than Thursday's, and because we didn't get an early a start for the actual drive, the cats were drugged for a good chunk of the morning that wasn't drive time. They protested quite a bit more toward the end of the drive, when our only accessible atlas steered us in a weird direction when we were trying to avoid rush hour traffic on highway 101. We ended up coming up the back way, through Napa Valley, and across to Geyserville on 128, where construction stopped us for 10 minutes at one point (after we'd been in the car for over 10 hours, and the kitty valium had worn off, and the sun was in our eyes and it was still really hot). Finally, just as the sun went down, we made it to Cloverdale.

So here I am again, sitting in the Cloverdale Public Library using the free wireless. It's hot; yesterday it was in the mid-90s here, and I am more than ready for summer to be OVER. I haven't lived here since 1996, and I'm kind of having a difficult time not feeling like a failure. We tried to make this move for over a year but had no luck finding jobs, so we hope that being here will make that part easier, even if we are currently 90 minutes away from where we'd like to be living. We're doing some things to help my mom fix up her house and yard in order to get it in saleable or rentable condition, and the cats seem to be enjoying exploring the new space. My mom left some of my things from high school and earlier times (dolls, stuffed toys, my baby book) in the house, which I guess I'll have to decide what to do with when we leave. We're both going to be job hunting like mad after we finish the painting portion of our time in the house, and our stuff will arrive sometime this week, after which we'll have to rent a truck for a day to clear it out of the trailer and haul it up here. And in a couple of weeks, I'll be doing flowers for a high school friend's wedding, which I'm really excited about. For now, it's kind of like we're camping in a house - we don't have TV or internet, and we have two chairs which are only sort of comfortable to sit on. The table isn't really an eating table, and we're limited in our cookware, but we'll make do with what we have. And so far, we've been playing a lot of gin in the evenings.

Anybody out there who'd like to put out some good thoughts in the universe for us, that we find jobs in the Bay Area soon and get to move into a place of our own, they'd be much appreciated. In the meantime I'll be exploring the county where I grew up, and trying to find the good in our situation. At least we're in California now, right?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Big Change

Every couple of years, my work does a partial-day staff retreat during which time people take a personality test and find out their colors. People are categorized into blue, gold, green, and orange based on which "color" shows up most in their test. I'm not entirely sure what sort of system the test is based upon, but I do know that over the 6+ years I've worked here, my results have come up the same: equally blue and green, some orange, almost no gold. Blue = people person, empathy Green = science, data, results Gold = neat, organized Orange = change, excitement

Or some shit like that.

Anyhow, last year I took the test for probably the 4th time and orange had jumped up to be just about equal with blue and green in my results. Which meant that the part of me that craves change and challenges was crying out to be heard.

Or some shit like that.

I sat with the miniscule "orange" group that day though 2 other colors were equally represented in my results (it's apparently rare for orange people to stay long in the type of organization I work for) and thought to myself that it had been far, far too long since there had been any sort of change, positive or negative, in my life. "I need to fix that, some time in the next year," I thought to myself.

* * * * *

Today is my last day at a job at which I have worked for more than six years, at a place of employment at which I have worked for 7 years.

I'm equally gleeful, terrified, sad, and hopeful (about the future). There are some people who work at my job whom I will miss, but I'm really looking forward to doing something else now, thanks. Change is good, and because I've worked here so long my vacation and sick time payout means we'll have some money to live on until we both get fabulous jobs in California. Right?

I haven't done anything this seat-of-the-pants crazy since I up and moved to Colorado back in January of 2003, so it's about damn time.

So, to recap:

Last day of work
We move on Thursday. To California. To the house in which I grew up. We have no jobs lined up, though we do have a couple of good leads (plus I've got a wedding I'm doing mid-October).

The last month has brought enormous change to our lives. We went basically a whole year in which nothing of note happened (other than Petra dying and acquiring Robin). Then, we made the decision to move and after that things started happening. Dan's grandma died. I heard from several people from whom I've not heard in years. Plus some other stuff that I'm not ready just yet to write about.

Dear orange part of me, it's your time to shine. Make it count.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The last dance

I've been going to this class at my gym for the last few months. It's a Zumba class, and a friend who used to take the weights class with Deb recommended it. I took my first class back in May and I was hooked, and this whole summer, on Thursday evening and Friday at 11:30 AM, I've been shimmying and bopping and otherwise moving my body to Latin and Bollywood and African and Egyptian music with a group of other people who like to dance. Zumba has been a great workout, and I really like the instructor.

Today I took my last Zumba class at my gym. And next week, I'll go in for the last time, say hi to Kenny and Sam at the desk, grab my towel, log in to the FitLinxx kiosk, perform some sort of cardiovascular activity while listening to music, go back downstairs to shower and change, and say goodbye to everyone there. Because on September 22, Dan and I are moving to California.

I joined the YMCA in August of 2004. It was right after I'd started at my current job, and I realized that I was just not happy with the amount of regular exercise I was getting. I'd been in the habit of walking stairs with some of my coworkers, but when I took the new job I moved to a different building, in the basement with only a few other people around, and walking the stairs there just wasn't as interesting. My clothes were tight and I was feeling all-around bleah, so I decided to check out the Y which at the time was across the street and half a block down from where I worked.

Over the course of the last several years, the Y has become my third place, the place at which I feel most comfortable and spend the most time other than at home or at work. I've seen trainers come and go; I've seen other gym patrons get pregnant and have babies and get pregnant again and have second babies. I've taken a plethora of classes: yoga, mat pilates, cardio salsa, qi gong, step, cardio/weights, weights, and Zumba. I've made friends and knitted blankets for babies and gotten injured. I've gone there nearly every work day for an hour or more a pop and sometimes twice for over six years. That's a lot of time by anyone's standards. So what have I gained?

Peace of mind. Stress relief. A reason to get up out of my chair at work. Something I do for myself, on nearly a daily basis. Physical and mental health. A place where I could keep track of some sort of life progress, even if it was only a machine telling me how many hours of cardiovascular activity and how much weight I'd lifted in the past day, week, month, year, lifetime. The gym membership has been worth every penny I've paid for it, every month of the last 73. I've lost weight and gained weight and gotten way, way stronger and it's all been such a big part of my everyday existence that I know I'm not even going to know how much I will miss it until we are gone and I'm not in there every day, getting high fives and smiling at Cate's baby bump and sweating while I move my body around.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Charming Billy

The last couple of weeks of June, I watched as the sour pie cherries on the tree outside a business on my route to/from work went from zero to bright red. I waited and waited and watched and sampled and then, the first week of July, just before we went on our trip, I sprang into action.

It was after work one day, hot and dusty, and I asked Dan to accompany me to the tree. I brought a reusable plastic container and hoped I'd be able to fill it with only the gleanings from the branches that stuck over the fence. (Most of the tree, and therefore most of the cherries, were out of reach of passers-by.) First I picked, and then Dan picked what I couldn't reach, and each cherry plopped a satisfying plop into the container. I nabbed every cherry that seemed ripe, and Dan grabbed every cherry he could reach, and we ended up with several cups of cherries.

We walked home, stolen fruit in hand, and I washed, pitted, and stemmed the cherries, then set them out individually on trays to freeze. My original intention had been to use them right away, but this summer was hot, hot, hot. I think we maybe only turned on the oven two or three times in three months.

Once the cherries were frozen, I dumped 'em into a ziplock and there they sat, mocking me each time I pulled out a handful of walnuts or got ice for my drink. "Use us," they purred. "You know you want us. It is our destiny!" "Quiet, you," I told them. "It's still too hot for the oven."

It was too hot all through the parts of July that we were home, and it was too hot all through August. On September 1 I awoke to what felt a bit like a change in season, a crispness to the air, and decided I'd make a cherry pie on Friday. Except Friday, and then Saturday, and then Sunday, were all far too hot to consider the prospect of the oven. Colorado weather teased me, keeping that sour cherry pie just out of reach, each red beauty icy and tantalizing when I'd open the freezer door.

I decided enough was enough, and yesterday afternoon it wasn't miserably hot, so I pulled the cherries out of the freezer, tossed 'em with some sugar, some corn starch, and a wee bit of salt, and let them sit and defrost for over an hour.

Meanwhile, I made a pie crust and stuck it in the fridge. I decided on this recipe, though I did tweak it a bit. Once the filling was pink and squishy, I squelched it into the crust and used the oat/almond topping from the recipe, and then I shoved it in the oven for about an hour.

Except about 50 minutes in, I started smelling something...burnt-ish. And then I cursed myself for forgetting to stick a cookie sheet under the pie. I hastily shoved one onto the bottom rack, but it was too late for the hapless goo left to burn on the bottom of the oven. Yum.

After dinner, Dan and I each had a piece of purloined cherry pie. It was one of the best pies I'd ever made.