Friday, October 31, 2008

A Scrumblicious Surpise

The UPS truck just stopped at my house not too long ago. I was confused as to why we would be getting a package, especially when no one has ordered anything in months.

Perhaps it was a package meant to go to the people down the road, whose address is identical to ours except their street is a "Drive" and our street is a "Road."

But when I saw the package, I saw that it was addressed to me. The return address was from Susan in Illinois, who's also a member of the International Free Form Crochet on-line group.

And when I eagerly opened the box, this is what I found:

So many wonderful balls and skeins of scrumblicious yarn in all sorts of colors and textures!

I won't be having to take apart sweaters and scarves for a long time.

Thank you very much, Susan! You brightened up my day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It Doesn't Get Better Than This

Nick (AKA Leo), one of Ariana's friends, is cooking me dinner. So nice to have someone else do all the cooking for a change.

The Lawn Ranger

'Miah came over today and cut the lawn. He wore his cute little ski hat because it has been getting cold outside.

He will be back tomorrow to do the rest of the job.

Cleaning Contagion

It appears that I am not the only one bitten by the cleaning bug.

Last night Ryan thoroughly cleaned out the bathroom on the second floor. It never looked better.

Now Ryan and Danny are painting the bathroom a lovely teal color. I can't wait to see how the bathroom will look once the guys are done.

Cleaning Contagion

It appears that I am not the only one bitten by the cleaning bug.

Last night Ryan thoroughly cleaned out the bathroom on the second floor. It never looked better.

Now Ryan and Danny are painting the bathroom a lovely teal color. I can't wait to see how the bathroom will look once the guys are done.

Dungeons & Dust Bunnies

Not much cleaning was done yesterday. However, I wasn't idle either.

I packed 9 boxes of Neil's stuff from his room to bring down to Texas with us. And I filled 3 boxes of stuff to bring downstairs to sell at a later date.

Today I made up for yesterday's somewhat laid back cleaning efforts by attacking the basement, what we used to call the "dungeon" when Ariana was still little.

I lost count of the number of moldy and falling apart books I put into garbage bags. As I cleaned, the bag pile was growing bigger and bigger.

It wasn't just books that went into the bags. I found all sorts of odds and ends on the shelves down in the dungeon. I totally forgot about my ancient silk screening paints from my college days. Now that's going back a long time.

As much as there were things to throw out, believe it or not, I also found things worth saving, and thus selling. They were mostly Neil's fantasy and sci-fi novels, along with several model kits. The boxes of the model kits were slightly damaged, but the stuff inside was still good.

All that stuff I brought upstairs.

I was going to bring up the 2 metal shelving units, but they were too big and cumbersome to navigate through the tight stairway. The shelving units will have to go through the bulkhead and then be brought into the house from the outside.

But that will have to wait for another day, perhaps Saturday when I have the guys bring all the trash bags out into the dog yard.

Speaking of the bulkhead, I found it difficult to sweep the steps. There was so much soil on the steps of the bulkhead that plants were growing out of it. And when I took the shovel to the soil, I discovered a couple of big fat earth worms that would have been perfect for fishing.

So I shovelled all that soil into a garbage bag and swept up the rest.

Armed with a broom, the next step was to attack all the cobwebs in the basement. After I finished with that, I better organized the hanging and dragging cables and wires. And I placed various plumbing miscellanea on one of the wooded platforms in the dungeon.

Once I get all those bags out, and get the storage shelves, old silk screen, and a couple of chairs out of the basement, I will work on cleaning up the floor. The cement floor will obviously have to be swept. But to the dirt floor, I will have to take a rake.

Not only that, I will have to take some plant clippers and remove all the vines and roots that had been growing in the basement.

By the time I was done with the dungeon, I was filthy head to top. Thank God I had the foresight to cover my head with a scarf, because when I went to take a shower, I saw that the scarf was covered with cobwebs.

After all that, a hot shower never felt better.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ryan's Discovery

I had often wondered what made a light cigarette a light cigarette. That was finally answered when Ryan announced his discovery.

Apparently, around the middle of the filter is a series of tiny holes. That would explain why smoking a light cigarette feels like you're sucking air.

Gee, I learned something new that day.

3 Pairs of Gloves and 3 Bags

It's been a 3 pairs of gloves and 3 bags kind of day. And I am not talking about my wardrobe. These were vinyl gloves and trash bags.

I went on a serious cleaning blitz today.

Before Mary Beth, my realtor, came at 9:00 AM, I already had a load of dishes nearly done washing.

After she left, I immediately got down to my cleaning, culling, and packing. I didn't even play a couple of hours of Mah Jong on my laptop this time. I got down to serious business right away.

First of all, I moved inside, from the front porch, Neil's grandfather's large antique trunk. Having sat out on the porch for over a year, it had accumulated a bit of grime, which had to be addressed.

Once that was done, I lined it with a large sheet that I was no longer using, and then started filling it up with blankets and quilts. Doing that freed up a lot of room on the shelves in the library.

While doing that, I had to start a load of laundry because I noticed that one of the cats ~ most likely that damn Attila ~ pissed on one of the quilts.

I cleared off the rocking chair in the library as well. The drop cloth that was on the chair also had to go into the wash, also for the same reason.

And I packed 2 large bags of material to bring to Nesta at church.

The next stage of operation was to clean off one wall of shelves in the library. That's where a good portion of the culling began and packing began. I packed one large box and 2 smaller boxes.

Most of the stuff packed was decorations. And I even included the decorations from the bathroom, living room, and kitchen, like the fish bottles, fish lantern and clay pot, Ariana's clay lighthouse, the Lithuanian pottery, Ariana's ceramics, Neil's Cheshire cat, my amber glass globe, etc.

The rest of the stuff was either tossed or put on the now-cleaned shelves to sell at a later date.

At this point, I decided to take a break for lunch where I enjoyed a couple of chicken enchiladas and read a few chapters of Shōgun by James Clavell.

After my break, I moved the operation into the living room.

All the stuff that was still on the stairs was removed before I attempted to clean the cabinet that stood by the stairs. After all, I did not want to have the dust from the stairs fall on the cabinet after I had just cleaned it.

The top of the cabinet was a mess. The lamp was brown with dust. There were papers everywhere. But in a short while, all that didn't belong on the cabinet was gone, and the top of the cabinet looked spotless in the first time in years.

Next came tackling inside that cabinet. God! I haven't looked inside the cabinet in ages. I forgot what was in there. How surprising it was to find several decks of angel cards, including one that never was even opened.

Meanwhile, the laundry continued washing.

After the cabinet was all spiffed up, I attacked the low table by the dog crate ~ and I attacked it both top and bottom. 95% of the stuff there was paper. And while most of it was obviously destined for the trash, I still had to go through every piece to make sure I did not throw out anything important.

And it was a good thing I made sure to go through all the paper, because I found quite a few items that were important, like Neil's various Professional Engineer registrations.
I even found the owner's manual to the Garmin GSP that Neil was looking for.

Once that area was all cleared, it was amazing to see all the dust bunnies that had been hiding there for eons. I swear there were enough dust bunnies to make a colony of weasels.

Finally, the cleaning was starting to wind down. It was already nearly 5:00 ~ time to feed the dogs and Big Fat Stevie.

There was one more thing I was going to do before finally calling it quits for the day.

The potted cactus garden was in serious need of attending. My
white ghost euphorbia had snapped while I was bringing in my plants from the porch last week. Plus, what was once a nice potted cactus garden was now a sorry mess.

I pulled up the entire potted garden, sorted through the mess, and repotted the still thriving plants. When I was done with that, I stuck many chop sticks around the edge of the pot in order to discourage its use as a litter box.

With that all done, all that was left was to sweep up the mess.

It felt good to have been finally done with all this work. As my friend Ruth would say, after a productive day of cleaning and house work, I can really feel pious today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Before I Go to Bed. . .

. . . I just want to report that half of the surfaces in the living room have been de-cluttered and are looking spiffy.

I even pulled out the plastic bin (actually a litter box hood) that's been sitting in the fireplace for 2 - 3 years because I had no other place to put it when I was doing a cleaning blitz at the time.

(Wow! I even found the wallet that I had lost and was wanting to find! Yay!)

Not only that, the fireplace got cleaned out, too.

(Maybe some day I will vacuum out the ash pit. Who knows what I may find. Perhaps a murder weapon? Or hidden treasure?)

Also, 'Miah and his mother Barbara came over and took with them the aquarium, its wooden cabinet, 3 boxes of accessories, and countless jugs of original aquarium water with the fish-friendly bacteria.

You should have seen all the dust balls that were hiding behind the fish tank. There were enough to make a colony of weasels. All I needed was a precise lightning strike from a dark and stormy night to animate them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting Tanked ~ Aquarium Style

Ever since Neil moved to Texas, I had been hard at work at de-cluttering the house.

Last week I worked on Neil's room, having filled up about 30 large garbage bags.

Yesterday I worked at the room at the top of the stairs (also known as the plant room or the sun room). While I did not fill up as many garbage bags as I did with Neil's room, I still made considerable progress.

I filled up at least 10 garbage bags and packed as many boxes.

Today I didn't get a chance to do the extensive cleaning that I hoped because I was waiting for the real estate agent to stop by with the Comparative Marketing Analysis on the property. I didn't want to be in the bowels of the basement, absorbed in a bagging blitz and not hear the agent when she came over.

Instead I stayed downstairs, focusing on a cleaning task where I could easily be distracted from the task without risking great loss of momentum.

So, today's task was to drain the aquarium, siphoning most of the water into jugs so that when 'Miah takes the tank and sets it up, he'll have some of the original water, with the friendly bacteria that fish like, from the tank.

After draining the tank, I took out the pebbles and put them into 3 separate colanders, which I then brought outside to hose down. At that time, the Big Brother/Big Sister truck filled up to pick up the 21 bags of clothing that I put out by the telephone pole yesterday.

The driver came up to bring me my receipt and said, "With all these bags of clothes, you're not going to have any more clothes left in your house." I explained to him that we were relocating to Texas, so we were getting rid of a lot of stuff.

By the time I finished hosing away the schmutz from the aquarium pebbles, it was 1 o'clock ~ the time that Mary Beth, the real estate agent, said she would be here.

Until she showed up, I decided to give the aquarium a cleaning.

I was cleaning away for about half an hour when Mary Beth showed up. And it figured that she would show up just when I was taking apart the water filter, which had a foul smell, much like rotten eggs.

And of course, we had to sit in the kitchen ~ with the water filter in the sink ~ to go over business. Fortunately the smell had dissipated. Or so I thought. I caught a whiff of that rotten egg smell. But by then our business was nearly done.

After Mary Beth left, I tackled the water filter. And soon that foul smell was history.

Now, the tank is nice and clean. All the accessories are in boxes. And everything is all set for 'Miah to come and pick up.


Ryan had moved in with us. And this past Sunday, after returning from his uncle's and aunt's house with his computer, he also brought with him an arm load of corn. 10 ears to be exact.

He said that he saw a farm stand on the way home.

"You didn't steal it, did you?"

"No. There was a sign there that said, 'Help yourself."

"Well, a lot of farm stands operate on the honor system, leaving out a box for money."

"There wasn't any box there. I even looked for one."

I felt better knowing that the corn wasn't pilfered. Maybe this particular farmer had corn like other gardeners have zucchini ~ way too much for anyones good.

Anyhow, Ryan was excited about his find and contribution to the larder. And he was very much looking forward to cooking up the corn.

Go right ahead.

I stayed in the living room, on my laptop, while Ariana, Ryan, and his friend Richie were in the kitchen trying to figure out how to cook the corn.

Ariana was not too enthused about the task of husking the corn and removing the fine corn silk that stuck in between the kernels. But with a little bit of team work ~ with Ryan husking and Ariana and Richie removing the corn silk ~ the task got done.

I could then hear them trying to figure out how to cook the corn.

From the living room, I shouted to the group, "Bring the water to a boil. And when it's boiling, put the corn in for 2 to 3 minutes."

OK. That was easy enough.

In addition to cooking corn, the kids decided to make peanut butter sandwiches to go along.

Then Ariana had the idea to call Carol to invite her over for corn and peanut butter sandwiches. Carol agreed to come, bringing ice cream and Portuguese muffins with her.

I thought that it was sweet that the kids took the initiative to cook supper and even go beyond that and invite over Ariana's Nana.

The corn was delicious. So tender.

As for the peanut butter sandwiches, I had to pass. They were never my favorite sandwich.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Call of the Wild

Neil just got "treated" to our traditional birthday howl that was originally started by Roma and her family.

Roma called me from Maine, and with her on the line I made a 3-way call to Neil in Texas.

And then we sang to him "Happy Birthday" in the most god-awful off-key manner possible, ending the song in a long, drawn-out yodelling howl.

I hope your ears stopped ringing, Neil.

Getting Around

Last night I tried calling Neil and was having his cell phone go into voice mail.

Anyhow, a little while later, I got a phone call, with the Caller ID registering a Texas phone number. It was Neil.

Neil has been pretty busy, getting around Lubbock and settling in.

He had gotten a new cell phone service so that we here, back East, would not have to pay for roaming costs every time we talk to Neil.

Neil also now has a checking account, and has also had his prescriptions transferred over to the CVS that is a short distance from his apartment.

He's been to Target, which is right across the street from his work, for a tea kettle, sheets, and lunch and dinner. (He loves the chicken Caesar salads sold there.)

Neil's Internet is up and running. And next week he is getting his land line connected. However, there is no TV in Neil's future so far.

Anyhow, Neil had plenty of time to do all that running around yesterday. You see, his company works from 8:00 to 6:00 PM Monday through Thursday so that Friday is a half day. What a way to go!

While I knew that Neil's studio apartment was very cheap, compared to East Coast rents, I didn't know that his apartment complex also came with a swimming pool for the tenants to use.

Well, if that's the case, Neil, you better head back down to Target and get yourself a pair of swimming shorts.


Neil, everyone over here wants to say, "Hippo Birdies Two Ewe!"

I know that it sucks being in a new place, all alone, on your b-day. But we all want you to know that we are thinking about you and wish that we were there to celebrate your b-day with you the way it deserves to be celebrated.

When Ariana and I finally get there, we'll be doing lots of celebrating. So get your party hat ready!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

'Miah's Back

Last night Ariana and I picked up 'Miah at Providence's T.F. Green Airport. He was rather easy to spot with that straw cowboy hat of his.

Before hopping in the car right away, we spent some time at the airport's Starbuck's. 'Miah had been on planes all day long and had not had anything to eat all day long.

While enjoying our coffee, we looked at pix that 'Miah took with his cell phone.

The pix ranged from a cockroach in a toilet in Neil's and 'Miah's motel room (in Ohio, I think), to road signs, to the all black pug puppy 'Miah wanted to by, to vanity shots of him either in his hat and funky sunglasses or without a shirt flexing his muscles.

He even took a picture of Neil eating a donut at a bank in Lubbock. (Why were there donuts at a bank?)

'Miah also showed us the state magnets that he bought for his mother.

We also heard of the story of him helping out an old man, near Neil's apartment, with the removal of dead wood from his willow tree.

The old man had been struggling with a saw. 'Miah took the saw, climbed up that tree, and started sawing away, all the while hearing that old man say, "You sure move fast in that tree, sonny boy!"

Just minutes after doing the tree work, the skies opened up and poured rain for 4 days. Because Lubbock is flat and does not have much in the way of sewers, it easily got flooded, especially at the intersections.

A car the size of mine would have not made it through those flooded intersections. So, I guess I'll have to get myself a truck once I move down to Texas. At least it'll be cheaper buying it there than here.

People are super friendly and very proper in their manners. Yet they are speed demon maniacs behind the wheel.

After listening to his stories, 'Miah asked us if we wanted to see something smooth.


With that he got up from the table and walked over to the Starbuck's counter where he gave the young and cute barista his phone number.

Yup. Definitely 'Miah being 'Miah. LOL

By the time I brought 'Miah home and returned home myself, it was already midnight. However, with the latte from Starbuck's coursing through my blood system, I was hardly in any condition to hit the hay.

I went on the computer and caught up with my email and Yahoo groups. By the time I got to bed, it was 2:30 AM.

And it figures, the only time there's early morning construction on my road it happens to be following the only time that I had gone to bed very late.

I certainly did not appreciate being woken up to the sound of jack hammers across the street from me. And neither did Ariana.

We're both bears first thing in the morning, especially when we have been made to get up earlier than we wanted to.

Very Busy - Very Pooped

This past week has been a very busy one cleaning house in preparation of putting our house on the market.

I decided to start my focus on Neil's room, mainly because Big Brother-Big Sister will be by next week to pick up donations. Neil's room was a logical choice to start organizing because of the many clothes that he had left behind ~ most of which no longer fit him.

After I got the clothes together (and washed the ones that were dirty) the next order of business was to start on the papers in Neil's room. Paper comprises a big part of clutter in most of the rooms in this house.

Today I continued with the paper purging. And from there I moved on to the 2 closets.

By the time I was done, I must have filled about 30 garbage bags. The pile of garbage bags is about 3 feet high, 8 feet long, and 4 to 5 feet wide.

After all that hard and dirty work, my body was very glad to hit the shower.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hubby @ Lubby ~ Day 2 of Settling In

Today Neil spent his first full day at work. He was working on process piping for a uranium enrichment plant. Neil never worked on such a project before, and he found it very interesting.

Neil also met a fellow Mensan today. He was one of Neil's co-workers. The fellow was in charge of the local chapter's newsletter, and put Neil down on the list to get a local Mensa newsletter.

I encouraged Neil to participate in the local Mensa activities so that he could meet more like-minded souls and have plenty of opportunities for good conversation.

Neil had received his wired money today. Now his survival at Lubbock could be assured until those steady paychecks come rolling in.

'Miah has been wearing his new cowboy hat all over the place. Also, Neil said that 'Miah was calling every day some of the girls that he met in his travels.

When I suggested that he go and check out the girls at Texas Tech, 'Miah responded that if he did that, he may not come back to the apartment that night.

Also, 'Miah had spotted an adorable and lively pug puppy, at a pet shop, that he wanted to buy. I was curious as to why would he want to buy a dog in Texas when he could get one in Massachusetts. It was the price. Apparently the pup was going for 1/4 of the price it would go for here.

But getting a pup from Lubbock was not going to be a reality after all. 'Miah's mother nixed the plan, as I expected she would. Even though the dog was relatively inexpensive, there were still the costs of flying the pup back home, in addition to paying the additional fees for changing 'Miah's flight reservation.

So, 'Miah will be returning home as scheduled. And Ariana and I will be at Providence's T.F. Green airport (which is actually in Warwick) tomorrow night to pick him up.

The weather in Lubbock was rainy. Neil said that it had been raining for the past 3 days, and that this is not what he expected of Texas.

Well, with Lubbock claiming to have 277 days of sunshine out of the year, I guess it has to get those rainy days out of the way before it can continue on its sun shiny way.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch. . .

. . . Ariana and I have been busy doing our share to prepare the house to be put on the market.

The first order of business was bringing half of Neil's comic book collection to a game shop in Fairhaven. I had stopped there the day before to inquire about selling Neil's comic books. When they said that they only buy in bulk, I answered back, "Believe me, we have bulk. We have cartons and cartons of comic books."

The shop guy gave me the schedule of the comic book guy, saying that he would be in the next day between 11:00 and 1:00.

So yesterday morning, Ariana and I went to load up the comic books in may car. But before we could even get to the comic books, we had to roll out the lawn mower and the field and brush mower. Then we had to remove a small ladder and 3 bikes. Finally we were able to get to the comic books.

My car was only able to fit 14 cartons of comic books. That's about half of Neil's collection, which consists of over 7000 comic books.

We met Mark, the comic book guy, at Over the Edge. He reviewed the contents of every carton, writing down the names of the comic books that caught his eye.

Mark was not authorized to buy the collection. That was something he had to first discuss with the owner of the shop, who was away at a convention. But Mark said that he would give him a call and see what the owner would say.

If everything would be cool with the owner, Mark could be at our house as early as this Saturday, going through the rest of Neil's collection.

Here's hoping. And let's keep our fingers crossed.

After Mark reviewed the 14 cartons of comic books, the next order of business was to bring them back home, put them back into the garage, and replace the things that we took out of the garage.

Once that was done, the next order of business was to work on de-cluttering the house so that we don't waste any time in getting it up on the market.

I assigned Ariana her room. I needed her floor to be picked up and clean so that when it came time for me to drag Neil's old mattress, box spring, and bed to pitch out the door in the chill room, I would have a clear path.

I, myself, took on Neil's room. Because Big Brother-Big Sister was scheduled for a donation pick-up on our street next week, I wanted to go through Neil's clothes, as well as his sheets, blankets, and quilts.

Most of the clothes I was able to bag up right away because they were clean. There were about 20 bags of clean stuff. But I had 6 bags of dirty stuff, in addition to 3 big arm loads of nasty blankets, sheets, and quilts.

In the meantime, Ariana was bagging up her dirty clothes and bed stuff and bringing them downstairs to add to the already prodigious pile of laundry.

In addition to finding clothes that she forgot she had, Ariana found a fair amount of jewelry.

She went to Neil's room to find me and tell me that she and Ryan were going to take the gold and silver down to the pawn shop. And she asked if there was any jewelry that I would want her to bring down so that I could get some extra cash, too.

So I took a break from my cleaning upstairs to go downstairs and scavenge through my jewelry collection. I had a pretty good pile of jewelry. Even though a lot of it was stuff that I still liked, I had to be honest with myself by asking myself when was the last time I wore that jewelry and will I wear it again.

Once Ariana and Ryan were off to new Bedford, I resumed my cleaning in Neil's room.

A short time later, Ariana came back. She made $70.00 on her jewelry. But she couldn't sell mine because the pawn shop required that I be there to sell my own jewelry. So I said, "Let's drive down to the pawn shop."

It was my first experience with a pawn shop.

While the pawn broker was sorting through my jewelry, I noticed that the gold claddaugh ring that I found with my metal detector was missing. Ariana was afraid that she could have lost it.

As the fellow was painstakingly sorting, measuring, and recording my booty, I kept feeling this tickling sensation on my toes. It was a damn fly.

And then it dawned on me. That fly was attracted to the cat crap that I had stepped in earlier while cleaning out Neil's room. (Apparently that one specimen did not make it into the litter box.) That also explained why I kept smelling something unpleasant around me.

Looking at the bottom of my foot, my suspicions were confirmed. There it was, cat shit stuck in the grooves at the bottom of my sandal. So while still in the pawn shop, I worked at scraping away the offending material onto the rug, in front of the counter, which I had noticed was already considerably dirty from the foot traffic.

Anyhow, my transaction was just about wrapped up. I had to sign my name a few times and have my picture taken. And then I was handed back my driver's license and $97.00.

We were on our away back. But before going straight home, we stopped at Light House Liquors in Marion to collect more empty boxes that the owners had been saving for us.

Back home, I didn't have much more to do in Neil's room as far as clothing was concerned. It was just as well because it was getting to be time to feed the animals.

The rest of my evening and night would be spent on the computer while doing several loads of laundry and sorting in between.

Today will be another day of cleaning.

What shall I tackle in Neil's room today?

Hubby @ Lubby ~ Day 1 of Settling In

Neil had checked in at his new company first thing yesterday morning. But he did not stay around to do any work because there were things that still needed to get done.

Neil found an inexpensive basement apartment not too far from work. And both he and 'Miah unloaded the truck.

It was a furnished apartment. While Neil was settling in, 'Miah drove to Target to pick up some things that he felt Neil needed, like a dish rack and a waste bucket.

It was too bad that 'Miah went before Neil discovered that the bed that came with the apartment was a double bed. And Neil had only brought sheets for a twin bed.

When it came time to return the truck, the guys discovered that they forgot to fill up the gas tank. And rather than pay $7.00 for each gallon that was used up, Neil sent 'Miah to fill up the truck.

Now that all that was done, Neil could begin settling in his new crib. A new adventure awaits him in Lubbock. And it will be interesting to see where that new adventure takes him.

In the meantime, 'Miah is having his final adventure in Lubbock today.

Neil took 'Miah to work and then left the car with 'Miah so that he could do some further exploration of the city.

'Miah will be leaving Lubbock tomorrow, and is scheduled to fly into Providence's Green Airport at 9:43 PM. Ariana and I will be there to pick him up.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Hubby 2 Lubby ~ Day 4 Touch Down

Our intrepid cowboys made it to Lubbock around 2:00 PM yesterday. That was pretty much within the time frame I predicted.

I was at Carol's new condo when her phone rang. It was Neil. They arrived at Lubbock. And they were flat bloke, with only enough money to last a few days. Help!

(It was really amazing to see how much money it took to travel cross-country by driving a moving truck ~ whose rental cost more than half the money Neil received ~ towing a car. Carol gave him a goodly amount that we all thought would be enough. However, there were lots of little hidden costs that did not materialize until the guys were well under way.)

I suggested that we try Western Union.

Our first attempt was through on-line. Carol's order got rejected.

The we tried the toll-free number that was on the website. But that seemed to be sending Carol through the same voice menu loop.

The next thing was to a search for local Western Union agents. The service revealed that Western Union service was available right at Carol's favorite supermarket, the Stop and Shop in Fairhaven.

(The web search also revealed that there were 9 Western Union locations in Lubbock.)

So Carol and I drove down to Stop and Shop with the hope that Neil will have access to some money that very same day.

Carol filled out the appropriate paper work and gave it to the young man over the counter. It was then when we found out that Carol could not pay with her credit card. It had to be cash only.

With Monday being Columbus Day, the banks were going to be closed. So that meant that Carol could not get the cash to wire transfer to Neil until Tuesday.

The fellow at the counter gave Carol a different toll-free number and told her that if she keeps pressing "5" during the voice menu, she will eventually get a human being.

When we got back to Carol's condo, we tried the number that was given to her by the fellow at Stop and Shop. And sure enough, after pressing "5" several times, Carol was connected to a real live human being.

However, partway through the telephone exchange, she handed the phone to me because she had difficultly understanding the Western Union representative on the other end of the line.

After receiving the phone I could understand why Carol had difficultly understanding the fellow on the other end. He spoke with a heavy Hispanic accent which would have made it difficult for any hard-of-hearing person to understand.

So, most of the phone transaction was done through me.

Unfortunately, the phone money transfer did not work either. Due to the large amount of money that Carol was intending to transfer, the bank rejected the transaction until it could perform a manual verification of Carol's Visa account.

So, it wound up that we were going to be stuck until Tuesday, after all, to wire the money.

I called Neil back and explained the situation. Fortunately he still had some money left to be to able to last him until the Western Union money transfer came.

Anyhow, that was yesterday midday.

Later that night, Neil called at 9:00 PM, while 'Miah's mother, Barbara, was still visiting with me. She left shortly afterwards. And so I called Neil back.

Neil was still at his room, trying to rest, while 'Miah was cruising around Lubbock in Neil's Camry, taking in the sights and locating important things for Neil, like apartment books, the yellow pages, the location of a CVS pharmacy, etc.

They still have not unloaded the truck, let alone return it to the rental place.

Neil discovered that his GPS did indeed work in Lubbock, that it had the Lubbock maps. That's good because Neil thought that the GPS was only programed for the buyer's area and that you had to pay extra to have other area maps downloaded. Turned out that wasn't the case.

Anyhow, Neil has until the 16th to return the truck. But 'Miah wants to do it sooner, before he has to fly out of Lubbock on Wednesday morning. He wants to make sure that Neil is all set and that everything is taken care of before he leaves.

When Barbara was visited with me last night, she said she told 'Miah before he left, "Make me proud."

And he's been doing that all the way, tirelessly assisting Neil where he needed help and making himself available to kick the crap out of anyone who would give Neil any grief. That's our 'Miah!

Anyhow, 'Miah already has his mementos from the trip. He got himself a cowboy hat, and for his mother he got a set of state refrigerator magnets from each state that they travelled through.

Today Neil started his first day at work at Allied Associates Consulting Engineers about an hour ago.

Because the working place is walking distance from the motel where the guys are staying, that left 'Miah all alone with Neil's car, and up to his own devices.

It would be safe to assume that 'Miah now is tooling around Lubbock in Neil's car, taking in the sights, and most very likely getting phone numbers from the cute girls that he meets.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hubby 2 Lubby ~ Day 3 On the Road

The fellows have been making good time.

Around 5:00 Neil and 'Miah were in Arkansas.

Neil had sent this picture from when they were on the road in Arkansas. Except for the row of trees, it looks kind of lonely, doesn't it?

While the picture may appear somewhat desolate, the guys have been seeing plenty of corn, cotton, and wheat fields.

While the route was straight forward, the roads were in disrepair with bumps everywhere. However, traffic was very light.

With all the driving they have been doing and the poor radio reception, Neil and 'Miah have fallen behind in the news. As such, Neil was not aware of the other dive that Wall Street took yesterday.

However, there is nothing wrong with taking a break from the media. In fact sometimes it can be a good and healthy thing. I know for sure that when I was in Arizona last year, I found it rather pleasant being out of the current affairs loop for that one week.

When I talked with Neil at around 9:00 PM, they were already in Oklahoma.

They hadn't yet reached Oklahoma City. But with the good time they have making, there's a very good chance that they could be in Lubbock by midday tomorrow.

Other than that, there is not much to report. We'll have to wait until tomorrow night to find out more.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Her Majesty's Gift

Not too long ago, my dear friend Ruth from Australia took a workshop in free form crochet given by Prudence Mapstone. She had sent me the link to Prudence's website, and immediately I was smitten with free form crochet.

Pretty soon I was scrumbling away. It was addicting. I never knew that I could have so much fun with just a little stick and some yarn.

Of course being in dire financial straits did not make it easy to obtain lots of scrumptious yarn to play with. In order to satisfy my new addiction, I was deconstructing sweaters, scarves, and anything knitted just for the yarn. If it was knitted, it trembled in fear when my shadow darkened its path.

In the meantime, I joined a Yahoo group called International Free Form Crochet where I could connect with others who share this passion.

In posting about my financial situation requiring me to deconstruct knits in order to get yarn, I was contacted by a fellow member, Margo, who has Her Majesty Margo Fiber Studio. Margo was so kind to offer to send me yarn from her stash so that I could have some goodies to play with.

The yarn arrived today!

And I was SO excited! What was especially exciting was seeing the number of colors in the cool end of the spectrum, because most of my nice yarn is in the warm end of the spectrum.

I cannot wait to start playing.

Thank you SO much, Margo!

Hubby 2 Lubby ~ Day 2 On the Road

Whereas our 2 cowboys made great time yesterday, they weren't as lucky today.

When Neil called me at around 7:00 PM last night, he said that they were about 2 1/2 hours away from the Ohio border. Maybe he had miscalculated the time it would take to cross over into Ohio, because when he called today at 3:30 PM, they were still in Ohio, quickly approaching Cincinnati.

The road-trip odyssey gods were not with him for the first half of the day. Not only did they get stuck in a wicked traffic jam, they also went off the AAA Trip-Tik, and had difficulty finding their way back on course.

Looking at my road atlas at home, I could see the route that they needed to take to get back on course:
  • follow Rt. 71 from Cinci to Louisville, Kentucky
  • get onto 65 in Louiseville and follow that to Nashville, Tennessee
  • then get on 40 and head out straight to Amarillo, Texas
  • and from Amarillo, it's a 1 1/2 hour drop south on 27 right smack dab into Lubbock

Unfortunately, Neil and 'Miah did not have the advantage that I did in holding a map in front of me while comfortably sitting in my living room. They were fast approaching Cincinnati, and Neil had to get off the phone to lend his pair of eyes to help navigate the unknown tangle of highway.

The next call came 2 1/2 hours later, at 6:00 PM, when they just reached Kentucky.

They had come to a truck stop, where one of the truckers showed them a map that they did not realize that they had. And the kind trucker helped them get back on course.

And can you guess what that course was?

If you can't, just look at the bulleted list above.

Now that the boys were back on course, we were able to discuss how the trip was fairing.

Neil said that for the most part it was tiring and boring. However, he was very grateful for 'Miah's company and the good conversation that they shared.

Did they take in the scenery?

Not really. Though Neil did comment that the scenery in New York state was impressive. Not so with that of Ohio.

Did they eat the stuff I packed, like the cans and packets of chicken, bulky rolls, cereal, aseptic cartons of milk, Oreos, Snickers, peanuts, etc.?

"Oh, I forgot about that box."

Anyhow, they did eat some of the food that 'Miah packed, along w/the apples, pretzels, and ginger ale that I placed in the cab. And they stopped at Micky-D's and Arby's.

But hey! They better dig out that box of grub I packed and chow down on that too. After all, I didn't go through all that effort for nothing, you know.

Why I even packed them a crude mess kit that consisted of cutlery and 2 used Kool-Whip containers. I didn't bother with cups, figuring that since they were guys, they were going to be swigging out of bottles and cartons anyway. LOL

They already had to stop and gas up 4 times, at $75 a fill-up. There must be at least 5 or 6 more fill-ups left to go. It's bad enough that the truck is a gas hog, but trailing a car behind them creates drag that consumes even more gas.

Oh, I forgot to ask what the gas prices are like down there.

I mentioned to Neil that I discovered that 2 hours west of Lubbock is Roswell, New Mexico ~ the land of Area 51 and UFO fame. (Now I'm really excited about moving to Lubbock!) That aroused Neil's interest. Perhaps there may be a future trip to Roswell.

Anyhow, the fellas plan on driving until midnight, when they plan on finding a place to bed down for the night.

It'll be interesting to find out how far the guys get to by then. Do you think they'll make it to Nashville, or perhaps even get onto Rt. 40?

Well, I will have to wait until tomorrow evening to find out.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hubby 2 Lubby ~ First Day On the Road

I heard from Neil at around 7:30 PM.

He and 'Miah were in Pennsylvania, about 2 1/2 hours away from the Ohio border. With sharing driving responsibilities, they were making good time.

In addition to exchanging turns driving, the 2 fellows were also exchanging turns in listening to each other's preference in music.

It turns out that chaining the axle to the trailer was a good idea, for while Neil and 'Miah were in New York, the webbing slipped off both front tires. If it weren't for the chain wrapped around the axle, it would have been "Bye, bye, Camry."

Pulling into a service station to gas up, Neil and 'Miah secured the front wheels, this time making sure that the webbing would stay put. And it did through the rest of new York, New Jersey, and most of Pennsylvania. I suppose that it will stay put all the way to Texas.

With the great time that the guys were making on the road, there is a chance that they may arrive in Lubbock in 3 or 4 days instead of 5.

That would be great.

That would give Neil and 'Miah enough time to secure a roof over their heads, unload the truck at a self-storage facility, and return the truck to the rental place.

And with that, the 2 fellows may have some time to chill and take in the sights.

Hey! 'Miah may even get a chance to check out some pretty girls at Texas Tech! LOL

10 Minutes After Neil and 'Miah Left. . .

. . . Ariana and left to go to Bristol Community College, where Ariana was enrolled.

Seeing that the moving truck could not travel faster than 55 mph with Neil's car trailing behind it, I wondered how long it would take before we would overtake the two travellers.

Silently I calculated that would happen in Westport.

Sure enough, when I had a "visual" on the truck, it had just crossed the Westport line.

Eventually I reached along side the truck and blasted my horn. 'Miah just stared straight ahead, apparently wrapped in deep concentration. I can't say that I blame him. That was a big truck to be driving.

Hubby 2 Lubby ~ Texas or Bust!

Yesterday's departure for Lubbock didn't happen. And that actually wound up being a good thing, for if Neil had left as originally planned, he would have not had the occasion to gain a travelling companion.

The road trip buddy was 'Miah (short for Jeremiah), a confident and take-charge young man who was Ariana's friend. Oh yeah, 'Miah can be a bit cocky and mouthy, but we love him still the same. He's a fine young man who very seriously takes his responsibility to accompany and assist Neil on his major move to Texas.

Everyone was up early, and it was a rainy and still dark morning when 'Miah and Ryan started loading up the truck.

The rain made the loading ramp slippery, and 'Miah had fun sliding down the ramp.

After the truck was loaded, 'Miah and Neil paused before closing up the truck.
After locking up the rear of the truck, the next step was to get Neil's car up on the trailer.

After the car was up on the trailer, the front wheels had to be strapped in tight.

And once that was done, the axle had to be chained to the trailer as an added safety precaution.

Now the boys were all set to roll, with 'Miah at the helm.

Here they go. . .

. . . down the road.

And at the very end of the road. . .

. . . they make their final turn onto Route 6.
Neil and 'Miah are one their way to the wild, wild west.
Have a safe and fun trip, guys!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hubby 2 Lubby ~ 2 Days and Counting

It's had to believe that in 48 hours from now, Neil will be already well on his way to Lubbock, Texas.

It was just a week ago today that Neil got the job offer that he had been hoping to get. And for the whole week, he had been busy sorting through things, boxing them up, and putting others in garbage bags to be thrown out.

Already the side of the house is lined with about 20 filled garbage bags. There were more bags, but I had Neil put 6 of them out on the curb for garbage pick up. The rest had to stay where they were because it was hardly realistic to expect the garbage guys to take all of them.

While Neil was cleaning, sorting, and packing, I had been shopping for things that he would need to take with him on the trip. Yes, Neil is driving all the way to Lubbock.

In order to save money, Neil has been planning on foregoing roadside eateries and bringing his own sustenance.

So I stopped at Shaw's and picked up several cans of chicken (along with a can opener), several pouches of fancier chicken, a bag of bulky rolls, cereal, milk in aseptic cartons, a big jar of peanuts, a bag of Oreos, etc. Plus I had to make sure that he had some Halloween candy as well.

And should his tummy get upset from all that rich eating, there were several bottles of the generic version of Pepto-Bismol and a bottle of Tums.

Today's preparations consisted of bringing Neil to the Registry of Motor Vehicles so that he could renew his license before he hit the road. And after that, we stopped at Penske to put down a deposit on a rental truck and trailer.

Later on in the day, we had a couple of visitors, Ariana's friend 'Miah (short for Jeremiah), and his mother, Barbara.

One of Neil's massive exercise machines will find a home with 'Miah in exchange for 'Miah maintaining our lawn until winter.

I gave him my fish. And in exchange for more yard work, cutting back the wisteria vine, and splitting logs (which he could have and sell and make some extra cash for himself) he could have my 45-gallon aquarium, the wooden cabinet it's on, and all the aquarium accessories that go with the tank.

'Miah was going to take the fish home with him tonight. And catching them was quite the undertaking, especially since the fish were large and a bit feisty.

Water splashed everywhere. It must have even, somehow, gotten inside the cable box because the display started blinking like mad. And when we put the TV on, all we had was a blue screen. Guess someone will have to call the cable company tomorrow.

Now that the fish are gone, it is unusually quiet in the living room. After all, there is no more need to have the aerator going.

Sometime during the week, I will have to fill up the jugs with water from the tank and then drain the rest before 'Miah comes over to pick up the tank.

Barbara took with her the hibiscus that was studded with red blossoms and the small rue plant. After all, there was no reason why 'Miah should be getting all the goodies.