Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Westward Ho, Part 2

This post will cover the rest of the trip to Idaho and the first couple of days settling in.  The drive from Ohio (where I was during Part 1) to Idaho was fairly uneventful.  The cats continued to be pretty mellow about the trip.  They got comfortable enough to want to sleep in different places throughout the day.  Most of those places were on top of my luggage and pillows which gave them  chance to shed on things that I didn't want them to shed on.  Nothing makes a cat happier.  Well, one thing might.  Shortly after we left the hotel in Wyoming,  Hjørdis dropped a deuce in the cat pan I provided.  The agony didn't last long but it was intense.  I basically got dutch-ovenned by my cat.  She seemed smug if you ask me.

So, what else?

  • The house I'm renting was found and leased through the magic of the interwebs.  There were six pictures in the listing.  I was understandably nervous about whether the house would live up to expectation.  Fortunately, it has.  
  • I brought with me a bed, a dresser, two Ikea disassembled Ikea chairs, a TV, clothes, and some kitchen stuff.  The house has three bedrooms and a bonus room in addition to a living room.  Since I brought such a small amount of stuff, I look more like a squatter than a renter.  Two of the three bedrooms and the living room are still completely empty.
  • The cats are not accustomed to hardwood floors.  In the middle of the night, during freakout time, it sounds like Freddy Kruger is trying to claw his way up through the living room floor.  It probably sounds more like cats on a hardwood floor but at 3 a.m. all I can think of is Freddy.
  • Another sound that startles me on the regular is the sprinklers in the lawn.  Boise is a high desert so apparently in order to have grass one must have a sprinkler system.  They're on a schedule to which I am not privy so I've already been ambushed by them once.  
  • There's a store here called Fred Meyer.  It's like a Super Walmart but with more stuff (As impossible as that sounds).  
  • The farmer's market here takes up about 5 blocks downtown.  Serious business!  I think I've eaten more berries in the last week than I have in my entire life prior to this week.  
  • I just got internet at the house today after five days of being here.  The sense of relief and contentment that came over me when it was activated is probably not healthy.
  • The doorbell just rang.  It was a dude holding a cell phone and one of those Magic Eraser things.  Apparently he expected his sister to answer the door and seemed surprised to find that she no longer lived here.
  • I can't seem to stop being in east coast time which means no matter how long I stay awake at night, I keep waking up between 5 and 6.  How much do you want to bet that abruptly stops on Thursday when I start my new job?
  • I think I saw my first person with a permit to carry a firearm that wasn't in law enforcement last night at Walmart.  I mean, he could have been a lawman of some sort, but it wasn't a lock.
  • People here are very nice.  The day I moved in a went to Fred Meyer to get a bunch of stuff and was welcomed to Boise by a lady in the cat food aisle and two different FM employees.
  • The guy who came to repair the garbage disposal today was also very nice and explained to me how people in Idaho are not fans of the federal government.
I know these posts aren't high in entertainment value but I promised a lot of folks that I would let them know how I'm faring.  So far so good!  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Westward Ho, Part 1

I'm halfway done with my trek from Massachusetts to Idaho.  As I've mentioned (ad nauseum, probably), this road trip is bring done with two cats in the car.  Prior to leaving, I was very concerned about this.  Would they freak out?  Should I bring sedation in case the lose their minds?  How often should I give them an opportunity to drink water or eliminate waste?  Would they be happier in a large carrier together or will the stress cause them to fight?  That's the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my concerns.  It turns out, though, that after the first hour of driving on Saturday (long enough to confirm that this was not a trip to the vet I suspect) they fell asleep and could barely be bothered to accept treats from me at rest stops.  I'm not sure why I was surprised - I've spent a lot of time home alone during the day with these cats so I know damned well that all they do is sleep.  There are, however, a few things I wish I had thought about ahead of time:

  • When staying in a hotel room with cats who have been sleeping all day, take their jingle bell equipped collars off before going to bed.  I am positive that they took shifts where one slept on my legs and the other one went to a far corner of the room and did kitty calisthenics.  I really should have seen that one coming.
  • I brought litter, a pan, treats, toys, a spare carrier, fleece remnants for comfort, a water bowl for the car, food, cat shampoo wipes, pan liners, paper towels, and about a million other things.  I did not bring a litter scoop, though.  I realized that during the night as the cats enthusiastically used their pan several times.  Despite what seemed like an hour of scraping and digging, they managed to cover exactly 0 out of 3 poops.  I had really weird, smelly dreams.
Other than these oversights, things are going well.  The car is pulling the trailer handily, the cats are chill, and my playlists are awesome.  Tomorrow I will try to get from my mom's house in eastern Iowa to a motel in Laramie, Wyoming.  

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's Like _War_and_Peace_ But With Fences

A couple of months ago, a house down the street from me was put up for sale and subsequently sold.  It's far enough away that I have no idea who lived there before nor would I have any reason to know who lives there now except I have now become obsessed everything related to this home.  Here's the story:

About a month or so ago, as I drove by this house I saw from the corner of my eye that something was different about the front yard.  Specifically, it seemed that someone was building a fence.  This house is a standard raised ranch.  There is absolutely nothing unusual about it.  The first segment of fence was made from two medium-brown 4x4's as posts and some similarly colored 1x5's (1x4's maybe) connecting them horizontally across the top and bottom.   Attached to these horizontal pieces appeared to be pieces of bamboo and the whole fence was about 4 feet tall.  Can you picture it?  I think the reason I noticed it was that the fence looks like it would be quite nice in front of a nice Zen rock garden or maybe a small temple.  In front of a cookie cutter raised range, it's a bit odd.  But, hey, whatever flips your wig, right?

Why am I telling you in tedious detail about this fence?  Partially because it gives me cognitive dissonance every time I look at it but also because the construction of this fence has turned into some kind of epic journey.  This fence, when finished, will probably be about 30 feet long which is not very long in the world of fences.  The homeowners work on this fence all the time and it's still not done.  I drive by and cheer when I see another section has been added.  On several occasions, though, the next time I drive by that section has been dismantled and someone is standing over a pile of bamboo with their hands on their hips.  (Side note:  I now understand that the combination of eastern and western design is a reflection of the couple themselves).

This has been going on for about 6 weeks.  Each weekend and some week days these people are out in their yard building the fence in a two steps forward/one step back fashion.  I'm now heavily invested in their success.  Building a fence (or anything, if I had to guess) is clearly way, way outside their comfort zone but they're out there suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous carpentry like troopers.  

I want to sneak down there in the night and just finish it for them like a giant shoemaker's elf.  I honestly believe I could do it in maybe an hour or two.  Another part of my obsession with this fence is my inability to imagine what could possibly be so difficult.  The bamboo pieces?  None of them are the same length.  Should I leave one of my extra tape measures on their doorstep?  Everyone knows about those, right?  

Today's episode involved the addition of another vertical post so it looks like there's at least one more fence segment coming.  When I drove by this evening I saw that the post is in the ground, the hole filled back in, and it looks nice and vertical.  Huzzah, two more steps forward!

Aaaaand it's about 6 inches taller than the rest of the fence posts.  One step back.

I'm moving in 17 days...I fear this is going to be a cliffhanger.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Westward, Ho! (Shut your mouth!)

Much has happened since I last posted:  On a lark, I decided to submit my resume to a job posting for a school that was looking for a math department chair.  Much to my surprise, it worked!  This job will cause some big changes, the biggest being the need to move from New England to Boise, Idaho.  I get a lot of the same questions about this so I figured I'd make an FAQ.

Q:  Idaho?  Why on earth Idaho?
A:  Well mainly, that's where I got a job.  Also important, though, is the fact that Boise seems to be a healthy city.  It's riddled with bike and walking paths and there's a place to ski/snowboard about 3 minutes away.  Yes, you can ride a bike and ski here in New England as well but it's such a process that I rarely do it.  Plus, Idaho is hella pretty.

Q:  That's where you're from, right?  So you'll be near your family!
A:  Actually I'm from a different I-state, Illinois and my family lives in yet another, Iowa.  It turns out, Iowa is a 20 hour drive from Idaho which is exactly the travel time between Iowa and Massachusetts.  thus I will be no closer or farther from my Iowa family than I am now.  Huppy's brother and his family actually live in Boise so she will go from 40 hours of driving away from that part of her family to about 15 minutes.  She wins.

Q:  Aren't you going to miss Massachusetts?
A:  Of course.  Primarily, I'll miss my friends.  But, it's a very connected world, so my hope is that we will remain in contact.  I have to admit, I'll also miss the luxe level at the local movie theater where you get served food and booze while you watch your movie.  It's the best.  The.  Best.  I'm getting antsy just thinking about seeing movies the old fashioned way.  

Q:  When are you leaving?
A:  The cats and I will probably start driving on or about July 20th.  I have to be in Boise to pick up keys to my rental house on the morning of the 25th.  Huppy will leave once either the house sells or she gets a Boise-based job so that's a bit more nebulous.

Q:  Do you like potatoes?
A:  Duh.

Q:  Are you stressed?
A:  I could projectile vomit at any moment.  A lot of things need to come together the right way for this all to work out in a way that is not financially ruinous but I'm convinced that this is worth it.

Q:  Are you seriously driving from MA to ID with two cats in the car?
A:  I am.  Specifically, in a brand new car that I bought last week.  So, obviously, one of us is going to become incontinent somewhere on the journey.  It'll probably be one of the cats but I should probably cover my own seat in plastic just to be safe.

I hope this helps.  I'm sure I'll have some good, funny stories to tell once I get there.