Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Words of Advice

Do not take yourself off of anti-depressants just before you try to pack up your house (by yourself). Yuck.

I have been at this for about a day and a half now. I lost most of yesterday driving around getting repair estimates for the Audi. That guy will be sleeping in the garage down here until I can replace the radiator.

Everything I touch is transports me to a memory (or memories) of the past. It is exhausting work and I find myself hitting the wall every so often. I have to stop what I am doing and wander around aimlessly as I try to work up some inspiration.

Unpacking on the other hand should be interesting as I will have to decide where to put all of these new things (or throw them out).

Just needed to whine a little.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Move It

A truck will arrive here (the southern house) early on Wednesday morning and we will (hopefully) commence loading furniture and boxes for the trip north.

I drove down yesterday in the Audi only to start getting low-coolant warnings about ten miles from my destination. Today, instead of packing boxes, I spent the day at body shops and at my insurance agents (interspersed with visits to the gas station to buy more antifreeze to feed my leaking coolant system).

This is all a result of a slow speed altercation (see previous post) with a pick up truck's rear bumper (there ought to be a law against high mounted steel beam bumpers that hit you in the grill instead of on your bumper). The repair estimates came in at about half the blue book value which insures a "total" on the car if I turn it in. If I decide to fix it myself it will still run in the thousands but not nearly as much as the "official" body shop estimates.

If I replace the radiator the rest can wait until spring or when I get a heated garage to work in. No more minus 30 repairs while laying on cold concrete for me.

Now that all of that is out of the way, I can get down to packing. If any of you are in the TC region and want to have a really good time wrapping plates and glasses and packing them in boxes, come on over tomorrow and we will fix you up.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Unexpected Presents

It has been quite a day.

Last night, we had the inaugural meal cooked in our new kitchen when my daughter invited six of her best friends up to Duluth for their annual spaghetti extravaganza. There followed much singing and dancing of said girls for several hours as I lay on the bare concrete floor of one of the upstairs rooms having given up the apartment to the feminine horde.

I slept just about as well as you might imagine until I was finally roused by the arrival of the work crew. I made my way down to the basement apartment where I surveyed the tableau of seven girls sharing three beds with enough gear and cast off clothing to cover every bit of floor leaving a small hole where Sophie the Wonder Dawg was curled in a tiny ball.

After taking her for her morning constitutional and feeding her breakfast, I attempted to read the paper while having my morning coffee whilst surrounded by a fog of estrogen. I had to periodically leave the scene to go upstairs and inhale the counterbalancing essence of testosterone exuded by the all male work crew. I even was forced out to do some shoveling of the four inches of fresh snow that had fallen overnight.

Eventually, the female posse rose en-mass to try to all fit into one very small bathroom before gathering their belongings and piling into a van for the return trip to the Twin Cities. That left me and my daughter to do some cleanup and dish washing before we ventured out ourselves for some last minute shopping (she for christmas, me for the house). Along the way, we got a phone call from the number one son who asked that we pick him up from school.

We did just that and then continued on up to "the mall" which in Duluth means a sprawling mess of various strip stores all separated by two lane access roads which were virtual parking lots this afternoon as everyone in the city decided to arrive at the same spot at the same time to attend to those last minute shopping needs.

After struggling through the traffic mess, we attended to our own needs before heading back to the comparative peace and safety of our home, when a coughing fit engulfed me. On the very first cough, I felt something snap inside of my rib cage and the ensuing pain caused me to cry out several blistering epithets interlaced with moans and futile attempts to rip out the weasel that seemed buried just beneath my lower left set of ribs. Both kids thought I was having a heart attack. I wish. At that moment I would have welcomed a little unconsciousness.

After ascertaining that I was not going to die in the immediate future, my son drove us the rest of the way home where I collapsed on the sofa and searched for a position where I did not feel like slitting my wrists. I was hoping to make it through the night so that I could see my new GP tomorrow morning for a scheduled appointment. That plan was shot the first time I coughed again. That led to a trip to urgent care.

I staggered out to the car where my son was already behind the wheel and we proceeded to back into the alley and then down the hill to the main street leading to the hospital. We made it about ten feet before the car took on a mind of its own and refused all of the drivers attempts to tame it into stopping as we slowly, but inexorably slid into the back of a pickup truck waiting at the stop sign at the bottom of the hill.

This was a nightmare for several reasons. The driver (my son) had never had an accident before. He is nearly at the end of his permit year and is looking forward to getting his license in mid-January. The car is my baby station wagon that bleeds my blood whenever hurt. And I was seeing insurance premiums ballooning beyond the already exorbitant rates that accompany any newly licensed male driver.

Fortunately, no one was hurt. The pickup sustained no obvious damage but the same could not be said of the Audi. Her front grill was pushed in and the bumper shell shattered on the driver's side. We pulled over where it became apparent that we were going to have to wait in line for the police to take down our report details as we were the second fender bender to have occurred there in as many minutes. In fact, as we were standing around waiting for the police cruiser to appear, several more cars came sliding down the hill out of control. At least two ended up in the side yard of the house I grew up in.

All this time of course, I was bent double in pain, swearing under my breath at the evil sense of humor of the gods, and the slow reaction time of Duluth's finest. We eventually completed our business but it meant a good forty-five minute delay in getting to urgent care. Once there, I went through the drill of giving my story to every single person in scrubs which unfailingly led to a series of misunderstandings. Somehow my explaination of breaking a rib by coughing came across as "difficulty breathing," "asthma," "shortness of breath," etc. The doctor ordered a nebulizer treatment that made me cough - an unusually cruel trick - and one that did nothing for my problem. A new chest and rib xray turned up clueless results which lead me to assume they were looking at someone elses insides as mine clearly had a large treble hooked musky lure buried in my guts which would have been obvious to anyone looking at the correct picture.

In the end (a long time coming), I was given some powerful pain meds with a followup prescription for same and sent home.

Hence I am sitting in a curiously pain free fog as I dash off this little memoir wishing that I were able to sleep sitting up for I know that as soon as I lie down, the broken ends of my nonexistant failed rib will begin to grate as I shift and turn seeking a comfortable position. Then the coughing will start and then I will get out the shotgun to end it all.

So, look forward to the next installment where our Charlie Brown christmas tree will topple over and catch on fire just as we are about to open presents.

Dog bless you everyone.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tis the Season

I sit here with a few measly days left to prepare for the upcoming holidays. This is our tree this year with the bountiful offerings spread below it. Actually, the whole house is our gift this year, but I don't suppose the kids will see it that way.

Speaking of the house, the kitchen and bathroom counters arrived today and look way cool. Tomorrow the appliances are supposed to make an appearance and the plumbing parts are supposed to show up as well. The painter is busy staining doors and trim. The carpenters are trying to finish the trim. The carpet is on order and scheduled to hit town on Tuesday. The inspectors are invited in about the same time so it should be quite a zoo.

I head south tomorrow to rendezvous with my daughter, water the plants, visit with some friends, and hang for a day or two. My son will be coming down Friday afternoon so that he and his sister can go to the in-law Christmas party. He and I will head back north on Sunday for more fun and games in the construction zone.

As hard as I try, this part of the year is a difficult one. Christmas was never my cup of tea due to the heavy commercial overlay on what might otherwise be a warm and personal season. Somewhere along the line I picked up the label of Grinch which has proven stubbornly persistent regardless of what I do or say. Now it falls to me to lead the way through the holidays without the guiding light that used to accompany me. I am a sorry second for her efforts, but we don't always get to choose our roles, so I will do my best with our little tree (at least it is a living thing that may go on to live its life out with us for some time yet).

I am in the process of changing my email address and as luck would have it, I managed to send a bunch of my contacts into the either the other day, so those of you who have my email on file, drop me a line and I will send you back the new one.

Best of luck, one and all, during these last few hectic days.



Monday, December 08, 2008

It's a busy time here in the northern casa. Tile is being laid, trim is going up and getting stained, the new HVAC system is getting installed, and today, the cabinet boys started carrying in boxes and drawers that will soon become bathroom vanities and kitchen cabinets. The interior is going to go through some radical visual changes over the next two weeks.

We are still hoping to move upstairs the day before Christmas, but that will depend on everything going according to plan (a dubious expectation in my experience) and the city inspectors signing off on occupancy. Assuming all of this comes to be, we will celebrate Christmas without much in the way of furniture camped around a miniture tree and being warmed by space heaters because the in-floor heating system can't be turned on until the tile has been in for 28 days.

Then, in the week between Christmas and New Year's, we will be shuttling between the southern house and the northern one, packing and moving. It will be an insane way to end one year and start another. We will see.

Our college fresh(wo)man will be arriving home (both of them) sometime next week. She won't get up north until the 22nd but will be on break for about a month. It will be nice to have her back with us for that time. She will be a big help on the packing/moving effort since she has quite a bit of stuff that needs to be gone through before it actually gets moved north.

This time of year sees a lot of stress under the best of circumstances and this year it is topping out over the levee's. I think we are all doing pretty well, but there is so much that needs to be done. I haven't even started on the whole gift thing. Ack.

My health seems to be holding its own except for the nagging "cold" that lingers on. I am in the process of finding new doctors, dentists, veternarians to care for all of our ails when we might need them. I hope I can land some good ones on the first try.

Sometime on the other side of the new year, we will be in a position to have visitors. Once the boxes have been emptied (or at least stuck away in some dim corner) and the furniture has been set in place, we will have lots of room for visitors, whether for a meal, a chat, or for a night's lodging. One reason we laid the plans as we did was so that we could offer our friends and relatives a place to rest when passing through this part of the country and we hope that you will take us up on that when the opportunity arises. We would love to see you.

We are also in the process of changing email providers. I will post our email links in a little while when we are certain that all of the new options are working.

Anyway, I needed to post an update to let you know that no one has committed me yet, though that remains a possiblity over the remaining month. If you see a strange guest author hanging a note up here, you will know that I am taking a mental health vacation in some full-service, padded motel.

Till then,