Saturday, April 23, 2011

Moving In

The plan was to get the keys on Thursday and move in on Friday. Things did not go according to that plan.

On Thursday morning Dave came home from work and asked when I was getting the key. I told him that it would after lunch and asked him if he would like to come and see the house. He said that he would like that very much and offered to move a load over for me. I accepted the offer and told him that I would call when I got the key.

At two o’clock I still hadn’t heard from the realtor, so I called to see what was happening. There was a delay in the closing because the seller had to sign a form agreeing to a hold back on the funds until the work that was supposed to be done before closing was finished. She knew I was anxious to get the key and so gave it to me anyway. I went to her office and she presented me with a fat ring of keys and a really cool house-warming gift of three painted blocks with the words Friends, Family and Faith stencilled on them. I cried.

I went back to the trailer to let Dave know that I had the keys. He already had the truck loaded and was ready to go. I had taken the afternoon off, so we drove over to the house to unload. The keys didn’t work. Of the 10 keys on the ring, not one opened any of the doors. I ran next door to ask my neighbour, who happens to be the sister-in-law of the seller if she had any more keys. She said she did not. I called the realtor and she came right over.

Dave had tried all the keys in all the doors with no luck. The realtor tried next. No luck. I was locked out of my own house!

While we were attempting to get into the house, I noticed movement in the back of the pickup. I looked over to see Petunia, our cat, crawling out from under a box. Dave and I started chasing her around the yard trying to catch her. Dave finally managed to get hold of her in the neighbour’s yard and put her in the front of the truck.

The keys were passed back to Dave and he tried again. He passed them back to the realtor and she tried again. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Suddenly, she called over to Dave and me, saying that she had opened the garden door off the front deck. Halleluiah! We went in and opened the kitchen door. She tried the key that was supposed to open that door again and, low and behold it worked. I was so relieved. We were all perplexed!

Dave and I started schlepping boxes into the house. When we were done, I suggested that we go out for an early supper and so the two of us went to the Pizza Factory for a much deserved meal. We had a pleasant talk about life and when we were done, Dave offered to get another load. I asked him if he was okay to do that as it was after four and he had been up all night working. He said he was fine. I asked him if he was trying to get rid of me. He laughed.

After the second load there wasn’t much left, so we decided we might as well finish. By seven o’clock all my stuff was moved and I suddenly realized that I wasn’t going back to the trailer. I tried really hard to keep it together, but the tears started welling up and I started to cry again. Dave came over to me and gave me a big hug. He told me that he loved me and that he hoped that I would be happy in my new home. When he left, I collapsed in a puddle among the boxes and bawled my eyes out for half an hour. It was all just too much.

I finally forced myself up off the floor and went to wash my face, using cold water to chase the red blotches away. I gave myself a stern talking to and made a new plan. Get the kitchen organized! I started opening boxes and finding places to put the contents. I moved boxes to rooms where they belonged, sorting kitchen stuff out and putting it all away. By nine I was exhausted, so I left the kitchen about half done and moved into the bedroom. I made the bed, hung up clothes, found my pjs and decided that I’d had enough for one day. It was time for bed.

No toothbrush! Brilliant!

I scrubbed my teeth with a wash cloth and found a piece of gum to chew for a few minutes. It would have to do.

I went down stairs to check that the basement door was locked. It was. I turned out lights, got into my pjs and crawled into bed. My ankles ached, my back ached and I just wanted to sleep for a week. I fired up the Kobo and started to read. A few sentences in I thought I heard the inner basement door close and a man’s voice. Crap! What was that?

Bravely, I got up and went out to the hall. I called out, but no one answered. I started flicking on every light in the house and tip toed down the stairs. “Hello,” I called out. “Is someone there?” No reply. When I got to the door, it was indeed closed. I was, needless to say, just a little freaked out. I knew that I had left it open, so I opened it again and rechecked the outside door. It was still locked.

About half way up the stairs I thought I heard a man’s voice again. I stopped and listened. All was quiet. I checked windows to make sure they were all closed and locked. Maybe the voice was coming from outside. They were all closed and locked. I went back to bed, picked up the Kobo and started to read. There were no further voices or closing doors and within minutes my eyelids started to droop. I put away the Kobo and turned off the light. Within seconds, I think, I fell into a deep and peaceful sleep.

At 2:30 I woke up. I tossed and turned for a while. Got up for a pee. Tossed and turned some more. A couple of hours inched slowly by before I fell back asleep. At six a.m., my eyes popped open and I knew that I was done for the night. Time to get up and face the boxes!

I made coffee, showered, got dressed and wandered around looking at the great pile of un-unpacked boxes left to deal with. It was daunting. But they weren’t going to unpack themselves so I dug in once again. Somehow, between all the visitors (brother-in-law, brother, brother, sister-in-law, friend, friend, friend) I managed to get everything unpacked and put away. Well, almost everything. I couldn’t unpack my books (some 400+ books) because I need book shelves. But everything else has a home. I’m not entirely sure if I’ll ever find it all, but it’s somewhere in the house waiting to be discovered again.

Breakage was kept to a minimum. One light bulb, two plants (minor damage) and one chipped gargoyle. Not too bad. Nothing went missing, though one wall hanging disappeared for a while. Somehow it managed to get in with the Christmas decorations. But all is well, now and it is hanging in the hall way between the master and spare bedrooms.

Today is day three. So far, it’s been a good day. I bought groceries and a few other odds and ends. I’m going to go through my yarn and start a new project. Not sure what yet – probably socks of some kind. Later, my friend is going to stop by with a step ladder so I can hang my kite up in the living room. Home is where you hang your kite after all! LOL

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What a Day

Today was the day that I sat opposite a lawyer and signed my life away while listening to him explain the vast amount of paper work that it apparently takes to buy a house. The file was two inches thick. And the dotted lines on which I signed were myriad. I’m sure the file was a half pound heavier with ink by the time he announced that I was done. He had no idea!

I was done.

As I tried to make sense of all the information that seemed only to hover near my little grey cells without actually penetrating them I felt myself shutting down and zoning out. I had to work really, really hard to appear engaged and somewhat coherent. I think I passed for at least a semi-intelligent woman. I can’t be sure. I may very well have left the impression of a bobble head nodding incessantly through the legal-eze that he was striving to dummy down for my benefit.

I think the zoning out started when he began encouraging me to go after half the equity in the trailer. I could see the dollar signs in his eyes as he told me how happy he would be to represent me in the pursuit of my legal rights. When I asked him why I would want to foster needless animosity for what would amount to a fat fee for him, he looked at me like I had two heads. “You’re entitled to it,” he said. Can’t quite work out the logistics of that one. Can you?

I left his office feeling somewhat overwhelmed, but lucid enough to make my way to the post office to arrange for a new mail box. While the mail box was free, I had to fork over $47 to have my mail forwarded for the next six months. I inquired if there was a cheaper, shorter term and was cheerfully discouraged from opting for the $36, three-month alternative. I was informed that if any mail was addressed to both the Lord of the Manor and me, it would be delivered to the address of the first person named on the envelope. I was then asked to sign for the mail box and handed a shiny set of keys with which to open it. Cue the meltdown.

I took the keys, thanked the cheerful post office clerk and hustled past the line up behind me and out the door before the full onslaught of the meltdown hit. All I could do was sit in the van and cry. And cry. And cry.

Out of the blue it occurred to me that I had forgotten to buy a can opener. Suddenly it was urgent that I get one and so I blew my nose, wiped away my tears and drove to the hardware store where I purchased, not only a can opener, but a set of measuring cups and an airbed. I don’t really need an air bed. I didn’t need the measuring cups either, having already bought a set earlier in the day. What I should have bought was some glasses and salt and pepper shakers. I have neither. Oh, well. Tomorrow is another day and by then, I’m sure, I will have thought of several other things that I need. Like bath mats and door mats and a boot tray. I’m beginning to see why young women want to get married; the gifts considerably reduce the cost of setting up house.

I anticipate further meltdowns in the coming days. (Note to self: add a case of Kleenex to grocery list!)

I get the keys to the house in the morning. My house. My very own house.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring is on Back Order

While the skiers may be thrilled by the prolonged season, waking up to a fresh six inches of snow in the middle of April is just a little bit disconcerting. What, we must wonder, happened to spring? And why was winter chosen to stand in during spring’s absence? I remember, back in my golfing days, being out on the links by now. This is a little crazy.

I’m not usually one to complain about the weather. Some years ago I accepted that there was nothing I could do about it; like babies, you get what you’re given. It’s one of those waste-of-energy things that I, to a relatively large degree, mastered. I admit that I do whine when it’s too hot. I don’t do hot very well at all. Thankfully, hot is usually blessedly short around here.

I feel for the geese and swans and other spring birds that have been flocking in for the past few weeks. They are such a welcome sign of spring and to be greeted with all this white stuff must be equally disconcerting to them as it is to me. Finding food has to be a challenge and how do you keep eggs warm in a snow bank?

On the other hand, the bugs that are starting to venture forth are getting a bit of a shock, which is fine with me. I won’t mind if the wasps and spiders don’t make it. (I know that’s not nice!) And what about the bears? By now they will be awake and wandering in search of food. If they don’t find it in the bush, they will come in to town.

Furnaces that by now are turned down, if not off, are blasting exhaust into the air around the clock and wood piles, already low, continue to get smaller. Winter boots and coats are hanging in there. Shorts and sandals have gone back to sleep. Last week my brother-in-law was mowing his lawn. This week the Lord of the Manor will be firing up the four-wheeler to plough the driveway. And I will have to dig out the scraper for my windshield if I choose to venture out anywhere. Scraping the snow and ice off of Gracie is a big job! I’ll have to plan carefully if I want or need anything. I’m very, very glad that I left the winter tires on.

In six days I will be moving. I would prefer not to have to do that in this kind of weather. I’ve put my order in for warm, but not too warm, temperatures without precipitation of any kind. The Universe has yet to get back to me on that. I’m cautiously optimistic, but fear that spring is still on back order and won’t be available until mid-May. I’ve seen it snow here in July, so I know that anything can happen.

Today I’ll tackle packing up the office and linen closet. I will have to find a few more boxes as I’m low on small ones for the books. (I guess I’ll be scraping after all!) Tomorrow it will be the kitchen. Then it will be four days of living around boxes and in a diminished capacity to function.

How do people do this every couple of years?!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reality Bites

I’m not an experienced packer and mover by any stretch. It’s been almost a quarter of a century since I last shifted a household from one location to another and while I’m not even moving an entire household, the packing is stacking up! One day of packing and I’m running out of places to put the boxes. I haven’t even started on the office with its many drawers and 400+ books, or the bedroom, living room or kitchen yet. I think it will be four or five truck loads, rather than the two or three that I originally estimated.

During a knitting break after supper, I was struck by the fact that I have been alive long enough to have lived in one place for twenty-four and a half years, which kind of made me feel old until I remembered that I have children older than that. Then I felt really old. But in a good way - knowing that diapers and teenagers are well behind me and never to be repeated.

Dogs, however, are apparently not behind me. It seems that we may have joint custody and they will spend a week with me and a week with him due to the new fact that he very well may be starting work at a camp job in May. I’m almost loath to admit that I was a little disappointed. I love my dogs, but I had psyched myself up to leave them and was looking forward to not having to deal with the hair and the food and the poop and the responsibility. Now I have to figure out how to get a fence up much sooner than I had hoped to have to. Then again, he hasn’t got the job yet.

I digress...

Packing went relatively smoothly. As I was clearing off the sideboard, I found a little trinket box that the Lord of the Manor gave me for Christmas two years ago. On the inside, bottom of the box, in a fun cursive script it says: Love; heartfelt and true. I burst into tears, wrapped it in paper towel and stuffed it into a box that I marked “random stuff.” I followed that with some vigorous dusting and rounding up of free-range dust bunnies that were enjoying the spring breeding season beneath the sideboard. I was slightly chagrined to learn that the vacuum wasn’t foraying into that space on any kind of a regular basis. I will have to have a talk with him about that once we get to the new house.

The Sally Ann pile started to amass as well. My first executive decision regarding things to eliminate from my future was to get rid of a bunch of wooden puzzles that I had inherited from my niece for my grandchildren. Not only do I hate having to hunt down all the pieces after they leave, but these particular puzzles have the ever-so-annoying feature of being electronically enhanced to make the sounds of the animals or vehicles that are depicted in the puzzles. I’m only taking quiet toys with me.

With the noisy toys will also go some old vases that had been collecting dust in the cupboard and a few other odds and ends of like value and usefulness. One woman’s junk and all that!

Today I am tackling the bedroom, clearing out the closet and the night stand and weeding out clothes that I see no point in moving. I’m determined to be fairly brutal about it and hope that fantasies of ever being skinny again don’t interfere with the culling process. It could go either way!

It’s time to face reality once again. First I have to go into work for a bit to do advance cheques for the staff, go pay my house insurance premiums, deposit my expense cheque from the conference trip and pay a couple of bills. Funny how no matter what is happening regular life does not stop or even wait for you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Last "Normal" Night at 1902 Riverbank Drive

Day One: Drive, drive, drive, pee break, drive, drive, drive, stop for gas, buy munchies, drive, drive, drive, pee break, drive, drive, drive, arrive in Agassiz, visit way past bed time while eating brownies and drinking tea, sleep.

Day Two: Breakfast with P & G, drive, drive, drive, wait for ferry, board ferry, cross channel, drive, arrive at Saanich, move into K & D’s house, visit, eat delicious roast beef dinner, visit, go to bed, sleep.

Day Three: Get up way too early, but surprisingly refreshed due to excellent pillows, attend breakfast meeting, attend conference, go out for dinner, return home, visit, got to bed, sleep.

Day Four: Get up not too early, eat breakfast, go shopping, buy new shoes, jacket and some of those excellent pillows to take home, attend conference, return home, visit, go out for supper, return home, visit, go to bed, sleep

Day Five: Get up not too early, eat breakfast, visit, go to Butterfly Gardens, have Belgian waffle for lunch at Smitty’s, go to Aqaurium, return home, have supper visit, drink wine, go to bed, sleep.

Day six: Get up not too early, eat breakfast, visit, do book store tour, stop at candy shop, go to cupcake shop, return home, eat supper, visit, go to bed, sleep

Day Seven: Get up early, pack up, visit briefly, load car, drive to ferry, wait for ferry, cross channel, drive to Agassiz to pick up things forgotten there, drive, drive,drive, stop for lunch, buy gas, drive, drive, drive, pee break, drive, drive, drive, stop for munchies, drive, drive, drive, arrive in Quesnel, check into motel, check e-mail, read, surf TV channels, check bank/Visa balances (be pleasantly surprised!), read, go to sleep.

Day Eight: Get up early, shower, make coffee, watch stupid 80’s game shows, check e-mail/FB, go for breakfast, drive, pick up dog, drive, drive, drive, arrive in Decker Lake, transfer baggage to van, drive home.

End holiday.

I’m not much of a traveller. Usually, being away from home is an anxiety-ridden activity in which relaxing and enjoying myself is about as foreign as the beds I sleep in and the places I eat. Three hours out and I’m wanting to get home again. This time I had fun, relaxed, enjoyed the experience and going home was the part of the trip that contained the trepidation, as my inner drama queen anticipated potential disasters awaiting me upon my return. I had visions of all my possessions unceremoniously dumped on the lawn. It’s silly, I know, but I figured that at some point something had to go wrong.

Of course, no such thing happened. I arrived home to everything being just as I left it. The dogs greeted me and the Lord of the Manor was sleeping. The only change was that he had taken over my parking spot in the drive way, forcing me to schlep my baggage six steps further to get them in the house.

I spent the evening sorting out my stuff, unpacking as best I could and fixing myself a bite of supper. It hit me that this was the last night that things would be “normal” at 1902 Riverbank Drive, for the following day packing to move would begin in earnest. In a mere eight days, this will no longer be my home. Reality was beginning to settle into my bones. Cue the anxiety attack. I had passed the point of no return and no matter how things play out, I had to accept that I am about to be completely and totally on my own for the first time in my entire life.

The panic attack was blessedly brief. I breathed my way through it and treaded it with positive visions of being in my own space, filled with my own things, doing what I want, enjoying my new-found freedom and discovering my true potential. I didn’t give up until I had recaptured that thrilling excitement that has been the driving force behind my decision to buy a house and go it alone.

There remains a good deal of sadness; I can’t deny it. I wish that things had turned out differently, but, alas, they did not. I take solace in knowing that I did the best I could. I loved fully and unconditionally, only to discover that unconditional love is more or less a myth. There are always conditions: compromise, give and take, support, trust, friendship, partnership... Without these things there are no dynamics, no growth and only stagnation. Puttering about I realized just how stagnant things had become. I cannot, however, put my finger on just where or how things went wrong. I think it’s a huge jumbled combination of stuff. I suppose if I put my mind to it, I might someday figure it out. I don’t think that it’s worth putting that much effort into, though. There are too many other fun things to do.

Things like the Sisters’ camping trip in May (hopefully). A day trip to Ft. St. John with some friends. The Women’s Festival in August. My birthday party in June. Decorating my house. Designing. Work (oddly enough). Friends. A visit from my sister and brother-in-law (possibly) in June. A garden? Thanksgiving dinner. Halloween. Yule. No need to get too much further ahead than that for now.

It’s really hard to reconcile the conflicting emotions. Sacrifice vs. gain comes with a crap load of stuff happening in mind, body and spirit. There’s a war going on between joy, excitement, happiness and, anticipation, and fear, resentment, anger and sadness. I’m relatively sure that the former four will win, but it’s currently an on-going and bloody battle. Packing is going to suck! I just hope that moving day will be quick – like ripping off a bandaid in one fast motion. I’m ever so grateful for the holiday respite that gave me a few days to not think about things. It was a good distraction.

Things I’m looking forward to: the house, having my own space, decorating, freedom, fun.

Things I’m dreading: leaving the dogs behind.

My last “normal” night at 1902 Riverbank Drive could use some wine. And some Salt and Pepper Kettle Chips. Hmmm... It’s not too late.