Sunday, February 26, 2012

Leave the Light On...For Somebody Else

It's heading home time. Sights have been seen, contracts signed on the house, plans made, friends visited and cherished, photos shot, gas tank filled repeatedly, shopping done. As a honeymoon, it's been a spectacular success. Even the sunburn wasn't too bad, though unexpected from popping out of the car a minute here and a minute there.

Wherever possible, we've been staying at Motel 6 along the way. Four nights at one of these cost about the same as one night in the Grand Canyon. That was a really nice room, and it was convenient shooting both evening and morning light, but we prefer these prices instead. As part of the trip planning we even ordered one of their books showing info nationwide on how to find them. Better than relying on the internet since wi-fi hasn't been that available - one explanation for a lack of blogging.

This morning we left Sun City West with the intent to drive as far as we could stand, keeping one eye on an expected snowstorm in our path for Tuesday, hoping to make it home that night anyway. "As far as we could stand" turned out to be Amarillo. Yes, we're butt-sore. Even taking turns driving it was a long haul. As we filled up the tank before leaving New Mexico and its $3.29/gal prices, we decided to call one of the Motel 6 locations in Amarillo. So far we'd been lucky with not planning more than a few hours ahead at most, but we felt more comfortable at least making the call.

We started with the airport location. The young man who handled the phone was just a little less than helpful. First, their handicapped rooms held only single regular-sized beds. If we're going to share, it's gotta be a queen. OK, did they have a ground floor room with either a larger bed or two beds? Well, yes he did, but....

"You make it sound like a problem. Just what is the issue?"

It seemed he couldn't guarantee us a room with a king-sized bed. There might be one when we got there or there might not. All were assigned upon guests showing up, first come, first served. Every phone reservation we'd made to this point was guaranteed with a credit card, but that apparently wasn't an option with this fellow. We wouldn't be there for about two hours. Why bother with him?

We chose instead the Motel 6 on the west end of town. Nice room, accessible with a queen bed, wi-fi free. As far as the airport location, well, they can leave the light on for somebody else. We won't bother them with our business.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Adventures on the Road

Pain is a great reminder. Well, not great, exactly. But very efficient. It reminds me each time I wiggle it that I shouldn't be using my hand.

Fortunately, it's my right hand. I can still sign my credit card charge slips for gas, motels, food, purchases. Unfortunately, it's my right hand and Steve has to move the shift knob for me and the parking brake, open pill bottles, grab my cup of water and put it in my left hand while the fingers of the right hold the steering wheel steady.

It's been working so far. But it's only been about 24 hours.

Yes, we're calling it a honeymoon. Even though it was "only" a commitment ceremony, it's still a honeymoon. My first, actually, since hubby #1 didn't like the idea of spending that much time with me, or something. Yesterday we made it to Lexana, Kansas, a suburb of K.C. on the western side, positioning us for early take-off, avoiding morning rush hour. The Motel 6 there is great.

Having put a lot of use on the scooters at the ceremony, not to mention the miles the grandkids put on them while we were using chairs, we needed to bring them into the room for charging. Steve's knees were killing him so I chose to let him rest in the room and be doorman for me while I did the hauling. Some things shifted during the drive, and stuff jamed against other stuff. In working one very awkward piece loose, something weighing about 40 lbs. shifted suddenly and the metal edge of it slammed across the base of my thumb, the part where it's still part of the palm.

Needless to say, ouch.

At the moment I have a single opposable thumb, and a club wrapped in an ace bandage. I tried using it, but have no gripping strength. Getting my socks or pants up is interesting. Opening anything only works if it's something I can cradle against my torso with my right arm while I manipulate it with the left hand. This morning I kept either using the thumb accidentally or stupidly trying to do something with it. We stopped at WalMart for an Ace bandage. I looked at all the gismos they had for sale but every single one of them left the thumb free to move. Apparently it's considered essential. At least this way mine's completely trapped against the rest of the hand so I can't use it at all.

Much.

It seems that even using the fingers on that hand moves the thumb as well. Don't even get me started on what happens when I try to lift something with just the "club". I'm just really hoping I'll be able to work when we return. If I can't shift or release the brake....

I did manage to use my camera this afternoon at the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. It wasn't as much as I would have liked to, but they have all kinds of rules against cameras in the exhibits. I so would have loved to have about 70 pictures of the different kinds of traditional pottery from various tribes and pueblos. I was particularly intrigued by how different modern Santa Clara is from, say, 100 years ago. They used colors other than black, plainer patterns, not nearly so much deep incising, and the ubitiquous feather pattern of today is all but missing.

While Steve spent a chunk of time viewing the movie cowboys exhibits, I rolled on down to the gift shop to scope it out. The prices were about what you'd expect from a shop which also has to help support the museum, i.e., astronomical. I managed to refrain form purchasing anything, knowing we'd be visiting a couple places which omit a couple of middlemen.

One of those was on the way to Amarillo, where we're staying tonight. Called the Cherokee Trading Post, right off I-40, it offers both the modern made-for-tourists items as well as the behind-locked-cases stuff of decent quality and traditional designs. Steve liked a belt buckle he found... until reading "Taiwan" on the back. Wandering over to the locked cases, he spent a few minutes drooling over a turquoise and silver buckle with a double Kokopelli design. Unfortunately, $175.00. He'll keep hunting.

I did manage to find some interesting pottery for someone who had some promised as a delayed birthday/X-mas present, and a package will be shipped out tomorrow. (Don't hold your breath: it's coming to my address.) No way I'd risk that in the back of the car for another 12 days or more.

Tomorrow we gain an hour somewhere. It's less than 300 miles to Albuquerque, when we head south first to Soccorro for our motel, and then check out Bosque del Apache, watching the birds fly in for the night. We plan to return the next morning to some preselected site for morning lift-off.

Steve's already asleep. It's my turn to turn in. At least this place actually has Wi-Fi as advertised, so I'm taking advantage.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Committment Ceremony for a Pair of Geezers

It was lovely. Our knees took a lot of punishment despite it being a two-scooter event, but oh, bless having those scooters.

Perhaps the most interesting event (well, to some) was a young man approaching my son and asking if he had his blessing to pop the question to my granddaughter last night. The answer was basically a version of "if you treat her right... then yes."

We're waiting to hear the result.

Following is a version of the ceremony. Much of it was lifted off the internet, with adaptations of our own. Obviously I can't repeat word for word the statements Steve and I said to each other since neither wrote ours down, but both of us talked about our meeting, growing friendship, and finally, nearly 30 years later, this. I'm writing it as generically as possibly, in case anybody wants to lift it from here for their own use/adaptation.

Steve & Heather’s Commitment Ceremony:

Enter (family member) to light tapers on candelabra holding unity candle set, then be seated and begin music.

Processional:
Music: “Here Comes The Sun”
Enter officiator, then bridal party as couples. In this case, two attendants plus flower girl and ring bearer.

(Gesture to audience to be seated.)

Welcome and Call to the Celebration:

Welcome, you have all come today to witness and celebrate the drawing together of two separate lives. This may be the first ceremony of this type you have participated in or witnessed, or it may not, but its purpose and its heart is quite simple even as it is profound. We have come so that _____ and _____ may celebrate and consecrate their spiritual union. It is by their love that they will be united here today. And they wish to celebrate this passage in the presence of your love and support and to share their joy in each other with you, their family and their friends.

The Vision
Love is perhaps the most profound experience that we can have. The sensual part of love is one of life's greatest joys, and when this is combined with real friendship, both are infinitely enhanced. The day-to-day companionship, the pleasure in doing things together, or in doing separate things but delighting to exchange experiences, is a continuous and central joy that those in love share together.

Deep knowledge of another is not something that can be achieved in a short time, and real understanding of the other's feelings can develop fully only with years of intimacy. This wonderful knowledge of another person grows out of truly caring for the other so much that one wants to understand as completely as possible what the other is feeling. Thus it is possible to share not only joys and successes, but also the burden of sorrows and failures. To be known in this way is a priceless thing, because such understanding and acceptance makes it easier to live with profound intimacy, it can and must also enhance the individual strength of each of the partners. We must give ourselves in love, but we must not give ourselves away.

_____ and ______, your union offers you the highest and most intimate experience of love that we know. A growing bond of affection, trust and mutual concern can bring you into a fuller life than either of you could achieve alone. As you share with each other your individual differences, your life together can become richer, more complete, and more spiritually satisfying. A union in such a sense will entail a uniting on all the levels of your being: body and mind, heart and spirit. Then, the longer that your are together, the more you grow and develop together, the deeper will be your lives together in union.

Even now, love is calling for the best qualities deep within each of you, seeking to break down barriers of fear, selfishness, or anything that would keep you apart. This love opens a way of understanding and sensitivity and courage, enabling you to be more responsive to the desires and the needs of one another.

Remember always that love, loyalty, and trust are the foundations of a lasting and happy union. As you strive to fulfill the commitment that you declare to one another here, you life together can be increasingly full of joy, satisfaction, and peace. May you hold fast to the vision and the promise of this special day.

Music:
“Wedding Song” by Noel Paul Stukey

Declaration of Intention
Peter to the couple individually:______, do you take ______ as your partner in life, promising to tenderly care for him/her, to respect his/her individuality, to offer him/her your trust and be trustworthy, to balance togetherness with the need for space, to never let disagreements fester and to argue in private, to cherish him/her as he/she is, to love him/her with fidelity? (I do)

Steve’s Statement to Heather:

Heather’s Statement to Steve:

Commitment Vows
“Repeat after me:” I, _____, take you, _____, to be my beloved partner in life, to stand behind, beside and with you always, in times of celebration and in times of sorrow, in times of joy and in times of pain, in times of sickness and in times of health. I will joyfully embrace your family, your children and grandchildren as my family, children and grandchildren. I will live with you, grow old with you, love and cherish you as long as we both shall live.

Presentation of Ring: (1-ring ceremony)
(him) In giving you this ring, I join my life with yours, and pledge my everlasting love.
(her) In wearing this ring, I join my life with yours, and pledge my everlasting love.

Lighting of the Unity Candle:

Heather and Steve, these two candles now lit before you symbolize each of you as you are. The larger unlit candle symbolizes the power and the vision of your union together. Each of you brings a life of broad experience. You have each had a life of peaks and valleys, joys and sorrows. Joining your lives together does not mean that you lose your own identity. It means instead that you have chosen to join the strengths of each of your lives, that you choose to spend the rest of your lives together, facing with each other whatever your lives may hold. May these flames burn brightly and signify your love for each other.


Seven Blessings: (by family member)

May the power of your love bring you health and well-being throughout your lives.
May you have wisdom in the ordering of your common life that you may each be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, and a companion in joy.
May you have the grace, when you hurt each other, to recognize your faults, and to seek each other's forgiveness.
May your life together be a vessel of divine love and a symbol of peace to our struggling world, that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair
May you be ever thoughtful and gentle, patient and forbearing, regardful of each other's feelings and opinions, and lenient to each other's infirmities.
Despite whatever challenges and struggles lie upon your relationship's path, may you always find life good and worth celebrating.
May you discover such deep fulfillment of your mutual affection that you may always be inspired to reach out in love and concern for others.



Presentation to Guests
______ and ______ will turn to each of you for support, love and guidance in the years to come. Will each of you do all that is in your power to encourage ______ and ______ in their commitment and to support them in the promises that they make here today ---- if so, please indicate by saying, "We will." (We will)

Pronouncement
With the promises they have made to one another, and by the power of their love, ______ and ______ have been joined in a spiritual union. They are now partners sharing one life from this day forward.

Final Blessing:
Will you all join us now in repeating a blessing which is printed on the card at your tables:

Now you will feel no rain,
For each of you will be shelter to the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now you will feel no loneliness,
for each of you will be companionship to the other.
Now you are two persons, but there is one life between you.
So go now to your dwelling place
to enter into the days of your life together.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.


Kiss

Announcement: There will be a reception line forming over there (point), and as soon as you are through the line you may set out your food for the reception. Thank you all for coming this evening.

Recessional
Music: “My Heart Will Go On”


(family member doing music) snuff candles, go through reception line

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ya Can't Do It That Way

Steve and I just finished our wills, along with a couple other legal documents, and some more to come. When you're working on a whole lot of expenses at one time, including those for buying a house, some things just need to happen later than others.

Part of the process was listing individual items and to whom you want them to go once you're gone. You'd think it was easy. Nobody here is rich, no complicated trusts to set up. However, I ran into two issues.

First, it seemed like every time I turned around, there was something else I'd forgotten about, either with sentimental or tangible value. After all, right now a large chunk of my "stuff" is packed away in the basement. I need to rely on an aging memory to recall just what is on all those totes. Since I've been collecting things from my auction job for a couple years now, buying partly with an idea to sell again later once the economy has recovered and the market returns, partly with an eye to display once there's a place in Arizona for just us and our stuff, and my tastes are quite ecclectic, I'm sure I've forgotten a lot of what's there.

Heck, I have forgotten stuff right under my nose and in plain sight. One of the last things added was my carved Dalls sheep horn, picked up in Alaska on the trip with Paul and Jordan. It sits on top of a set of cabinets in my bedroom. They're rare because only some of the natives are allowed to harvest them, and each with a permit may only harvest two sheep a year, meaning 4 horns, and of those only a few are carved. It's something you don't trust to just anybody with a jacknife and a yen to make their mark on the world!

I tried one method of distribution: let each kid, in a specified order, take their first choice from a category, say books, then once that was done, their second, etc., until all items in that category were gone. That way everybody is at least partly satisfied and nobody can say they've been neglected.

Ya can't do it that way. Judges throw out wills written like that. You have to be more specific. AND you can't use terms like "etc." in your will.

So, back to the books. OK, what kinds of books have I got? There are some science fiction/fantasy, though I've thrown a lot of those away (ahem: donated to an interested reader), cleared out when there grew an increasing need for shelf space. There are a lot of mysteries. There are field guides, coffee-table books, children's compilations, classics....

I talked to Paul, since he was the only one home at the time I was going through this category. His fiction interest is sci-fi. Not mystery. He also goes into the field guides regularly. It seems logical therefore to leave those kinds of books to him. With only one grandchild, it seems logical to leave the kid's books to her, since she will most likely be the one to continue the family into the next generations(s). Keep going with that kind of distribution, and eventually you get to the "and everything else" category. No, they won't be getting equal amounts of books, but the courts will accept that as a specific enough set of instructions. It's do-able, in other words.

In jewelry, specific descriptions of individual items, such as "my mother's ring, with _______ stones", are needed. There is no other ring in my possession with that collection of stones. It's unambiguous. There's still an "and everything else" category. Somebody better bring a box. Actually, since that happens in several categories, a bunch of boxes.

Since furniture is involved, somebody better bring a moving truck.

But hey, not my problem. And they can always refuse a bequest. Or trade, or sell it off, if that's their choice. By then I won't care. And that part of the will is always changeable.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Another one of THOSE Days

My knees had actually been holding up pretty well for most of the week, considering. But then there was THE run. A pick up at _____, heading back up to HQ. No indication of just who wanted it at HQ, so I texted dispatch, and was told to bring it in to Jay. No problem. Turns out later I found out he had no clue either, but was willing to sign for it and figure it out later.

The pick was someplace I'd been before, usually having easy on-street parking near the side of the front entrance. Not this day, though. This time I had to hit the handicap parking spots. That usually means an easier walk, but these spots are well away from the office entrance and down the block by the store entrance. It's a pretty new building, built to impress. That means once you finally get down all that walkway, past all the landscaping, and to the front door, there's a very long atrium to reach the information desk, pretty much at the back of the building. So not just a long hike from car to door, another from door to desk. Yeah, I was impressed, all right. Not favorably. All that wasted space with no purpose, all that space to heat, all that space to walk through before you can speak to your first helpful person.

Assuming you can find one.

There were three people behind the front desk. One was being helpful on the phone. The other two were chatting away as I stood there. And stood there. Finally the man gave a start and said, "Oh, you want something."

Brilliant!

I explained my purpose, and he left to find my package. It'd said 1 piece, 1 pound, the default settings in those categories, and usually meaning, from a company like this, an envelope of some kind of paperwork. I strongly doubted their business provided a service or equipment for ours.

My package wasn't where he thought it should be. He needed to make a phone call. I gave him the contact name I had on the order, and first thing he did was tell me she wasn't there anymore, that Mary Jo was handling "it" now. I didn't ask what "it" was. I don't need to know. Mostly I'm not even curious anymore.

After being told "it" was on its way down, I looked for a seat while waiting. There was a grouping of overstuffed, poorly designed but pretty chairs if I wanted to walk another 40 feet back into the building. There was also something of a flat railing I could lean on close to the desk. I chose that. It was plenty sturdy and I had visions of dozens of people cooling their heels in that same spot. I didn't have long before a young man struggled to bring a large box out to the lobby.

Oh crap, this wasn't mine?

After setting it down next to me and removing a few large envelopes from the top destined for UPS, he indicated that the box was indeed mine to haul away. With the UPS envelopes gone there was room for me to fold the flaps down. This meant not just that the freight inside was more secure, but I could now balance the box on one hip, taking some of the weight off my arms. Better for the back than his way of carrying it, but still tough on the knees. Now, not only did I have myself to haul all that long way back to the car, I had an extra 30 pounds which, no matter how I carried it, had its weight spread out over my knees.

I could have brought the two-wheeler in with me had somebody been honest about the package. I could also have hiked all the way back to my car, gotten it out, come all the way back in with it, and wheeled the box all the way back out to my car.

Not bloody likely.

The pick wasn't far enough from HQ for my knees to do more than to begin to recover from the abuse. Once at HQ, I had the privilege of hauling it up a few steps into the dispatch room and across to the far wall to the dispatcher who would be receiving it. Of course to do that I breeze right past the sign on the door directing drivers to use the dock entrance - about 100 feet down, over twice the stairs, and 100 feet back again.

I don't think so.

By the time I was standing behind the dispatcher with the box balanced on my hip, I'd had just enough of this run, thank you very much. I'd never do this in front of a customer, but knowing there was nothing fragile in the box, just lots of indestructible envelopes filled with paper, I moved it marginally off my hip and let it drop.

Thunk!

No really: THUNK!

Another dispatcher turned around at the noise, looked at the box on the floor, and asked, "What's that?"

"One piece, one pound."

Wedding Shopping

The most recent stop was The Party Store. Finally, a night of work ending early enough and close enough in town for me to swing over to Maplewood Mall. I'd been there once for plates, napkins, etc. I still needed small napkins (where was my brain on the first trip?) for the cake, a roll of tablecloth paper, and now that we found the candelabra to rent, two tapers and a pillar candle, no wider than 4".

Unfortunately, no motorized carts, and the knees were an issue. I roped in the first clerk to come my way with, "and where is....?" to save time walking. I'd already grabbed the napkins, found that the roll of tablecloth paper these days is actually plastic, comes in white and not ivory (plus lots of other colors I didn't even consider), and convinced him the candles I was looking for were not the birthday variety.

We headed towards their wedding department, where he pointed out the tapers and pillars selection. Tapers in both ivory and white, check. Pillars in... OK, white only, forget the ivory tapers. The choice was between a package of two (!?!) or a single one that was scented gardenia. Cool, I love that scent. Sniffff....

Gakkk! Blech! Whatever that was really, it was the essence of pure stink. So I reluctantly reached for the two-pack, knowing one would get wasted. Who ever needs a two-pack of wedding unity ceremony candles?

He obviously sensed my dissatisfaction, and headed further down the wedding aisle to see what else might be on offer.

"Anything?"

"Nope, just the unity candles sets."

!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Updates

Less than two weeks till our commitment ceremony/wedding. No, we're not ready.

The ceremony is finished, text-wise. Legal documents in process. RSVPs coming in. Found a candelabra to rent.

The house is complete chaos. The flooring project is going very slowly. The cement compound needs sanding after it dries. The dust hangs in the air for hours, and nobody, and no critter, should be in the main part of the house during that time. While hanging around, it invades every space and settles. Nobody but me seems to see any kind of a need to clean up, and I'm usually too tired to do much of anything but the most necessary of surfaces. I can just imagine the yelling when fine duds touch anything on the 14th as people get ready to leave and collect that lovely dust. Meanwhile I have no usable kitchen - still - no icemaker, no counters except one, no stove, and a sink full of dirty dishes collecting crap. The fridge is plugged in and sitting in the living room, a solitary piece of normal. Kind of. My chair and Steve's are backed against the back wall on the bit of "done" floor, no room to stretch back and put one's feet up at the end of the day. Wedding stuff has to be stored elsewhere.

The headpiece is finally finished, and fortunately sitting in a shoebox. The tunic is done except for sewing on buttons, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to sit on my bed behind a closed door to work on it - not ideal. Same for any other chores, like wrapping the gifts for the wedding party. I have no idea where I'm going to put the ironing board for touch-ups.

The offer on the Sun City house was accepted by the buyer, passed through the title company OK, and now we're waiting on the bank. I've planned on which of the IRAs will be tapped to pay for it, and may need to tap one more little one for all those extra expenses, but it'll get done. My credit union tells me I don't qualify for a loan because they think I can't pay for two homes to keep them running. Well, that's where the other IRAs come in, until the markets recover, I retire, and sell this house. Then that becomes the retirement income. And they can't count the contributions the rest of the family make towards living expenses because you can't count that stuff on your taxes so it's not income. Somebody paying phone/satelite/internet is income? Absurd! They're locked in in their thinking.

I'm not. And a solar installation down there next year will offset much of the utilities there.

And back to speaking of retreating into my bedroom, there's a new something for the new house sitting in there. I had picked up a couple of Persian rugs at the auction house previously, at danged good prices, and they are there, rolled up next to the bed away from the traffic pattern. There is now a third, picked up Saturday. This one is mostly blue, and absolutely exquisite, and will go in the living room end of the living/dining room. So the living room theme will be blue, the Arizona room/1st lanai will be green/rose, and the screened lanai will have the inexpensive rose/tan one. (Or maybe it'll go in a bedroom instead. Still thinking about that one. It's smallest.)

Assuming the bank OKs the short sale, of course.

Meanwhile, there's still much to do, including getting dressed for work.

Groundhog Day

I love it! That is, if you're talking about the movie with Bill Murray. In fact, it's the only Bill Murray movie I like at all. Every other movie he's just too much of a cad or a buffoon. In this one he becomes a character that I give a sh*t about.

But as a "holiday", it's never made sense. I grew up in north central Minnesota, still live in the state. Six more weeks of winter, here, is a reprieve, not a sentence!