Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pursuit of Conflict Results in Murder

There: six words. Have you heard of the six-word essay concept? Or the race card project? Michele Norris, with NPR, is asking folks all over to sum up their feelings and thoughts about race in a six-word essay. Right now, most of the replies are coming in as a reaction to and comment on the Trayvon Martin killing. My six word essay is the title to this piece.

Six words is never enough. If it were, I wouldn't be blogging. And I want to make the case that the title/essay stands separate from race issues and is still equally valid.

Of course race is a part of what happened. A white guy with a gun decided a kid in a hoodie, a "f...ing coon" as he told the 911 operator, was up to no good. Why? WWB. Walking while black. The claims by Zimmerman and his buddies that he's not a racist are absurd on their face. The kid was profiled. He's hispanic, they say, as if that makes a difference? What? Hispanic folks can't be bigots too? In what magical world is that true?

Of course race is also a part of what didn't happen. Zimmerman wasn't drug and alcohol tested by the same police that tested the kid's body. He wasn't arrested. Somehow he was able to sustain a claim of self defense against a kid he stalked in his vehicle, a kid smaller and much, much younger than he was, a kid "armed" with a bag of skittles to Zimmerman's gun. You know, 'cause the kid was, well, let's face it, black. That means he was automatically guilty of something and deserved what he got. Right?

Hell no!

You don't have to be black to be outraged at what happened, at how horribly common it is, how terribly unjust and tragic. Race is in every bit of that. Were it not for race, this never would have happened. I get that.

But I want to point out that race is not the deciding factor in why Zimmerman should be arrested, his claims of self-defense obliterated, and his freedom taken away for a long number of years.

Zimmerman committed murder. Plain, simple murder. And here's why. Every step of the way he was the instigator. He decided the kid was "up to no good" with absolutely no evidence to the contrary. He kept following the kid even after calling 911 and being told by the operator that his actions were not necessary. He got out of the vehicle where he was perfectly safe and confronted the kid. Every step of the way, he escalated the action, unnecessarily. And once the terrified kid finally clocked him on the nose, he had all the excuse he'd been actively seeking to claim self-defense and pull his gun. A kid is dead and he labels himself a hero. No, it's murder. Plain, ugly, murder.

Somebody wanna throw me on the jury?

I know another case where race issues never muddied the waters. An accident was claimed, and from the same reasoning, the perpetrator escalating the action, a prison term was earned. In this case, it was a divorced couple, Chris and Mark Cole, former neighbors of mine. She drove him home from a visit with their boys, living with their mom. She at least, possibly both, had been drinking, and an argument started. She pulled over and kicked him out of the car. After driving away, she returned to give him the cell phone he'd left behind, and incidentally to continue the argument. She drove away again, and again returned. It was repeated a fourth time. Only this time when she returned, she hit him with her car with enough force to send his body across the road and land such that he was declared brain-dead at the hospital.

Her claim that it was an accident was negated by her continuing to return and escalate the fight. She had several chances to leave and stay away, but she just couldn't let it go. Each time her choice of action was one that brought her closer to the killing point. She, like Zimmerman, could have prevented the ensuing death at any of several points. She, like Zimmerman, was in pursuit of conflict.

Hopefully Zimmerman, like she did, will spend time behind bars.

It won't be enough, in either case. Two boys are growing up without their father. A family has forever lost a child. A little justice doesn't seem too much to ask. At least I hope not.

My other six-word essay on race is: Unequal justice, unequal hope, unequal lives.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Last Orange

When Steve and I returned from Arizona late last month, we carried a bagful of oranges. Fresh-picked, juicy, fully ripe, straight off the front yard tree of our hosts. Yummmmm!

We were warned some might be dry and there might even be seeds. Apparently in tough years the seedless trees produce seeds in the fruit anyway, trying to ensure survival of the species. It turns out they needn't have bothered with the warning. All were delightfully juicy - the first so much there was juice all over my hands and everything else just from removing the peel. There were perhaps a half dozen seeds among them all.

I was very generous. I allowed both Paul and Richard two each. (Hey, our friends, our oranges!) Richard was encouraged to share one with Brenda, but I never followed up to see if he had. Steve and I did our best to split the remainder evenly. I can have a whole fruit - two carb units - with my cottage cheese - one more carb unit for a total of three for the meal - for both breakfast and lunch. That slows down consumption.

Eventually there was a single orange left. I offered it to Steve, thinking I may have had more than he had by this time. That was two weeks ago. The orange has since shifted places on its shelf, changed shelves a couple of times, and still greets us with its juicy promise each time we open the door looking for something else. I finally decided Steve and I were trying to out-polite each other over this last orange.

This morning, packing my cooler, I'd finally had enough with polite restraint. Out it came. The peels are in the wastebasket, filling the kitchen with the lovely fragrance of orange oil. A zipper-top sandwich bag with separated sections lies in a nook along the inside wall of the Igloo cooler. By 8:32 AM it will be history.


Sunday, March 25, 2012


Those of you who lived in the Twin Cities metro area back in the early 80's may remember shopping at a chain called COMB. They were a retail liquidator, and one never knew what one would see the next time one poked one's head in.

I remember one purchase, extravagant for me at the time. It was a llama skin rug in the form of a sunburst, pieced together in a pattern mixing near-whites, browns and blacks, each shape shaved at the edges to produce a beveled effect. I paid $99 for it and considered myself a very clever shopper indeed to score such a find, even though parting with $99 then was a stretch.

It never made it onto the floor. Using small nails, it became a wall hanging, sitting above the headboard of my bed. When we moved, it moved. I thought about sewing a backing onto the outer curve and attaching loops with which to suspend it, or even inserting a curved piece of, say, bamboo, and setting it on top of the nails to hold it in place, but again wound up nailing it to the wall.

It never moved. I'm not one to rearrange my furniture on a whim, and my small bedroom has exactly one configuration for the furniture that makes sense to me. Besides, it was on the south wall, and I thought of it as extra insulation keeping out the heat in summer, and keeping in the heat in winter. It did collect dust, mainly powder I use on my skin in those places where it is helpful, and which always seems to collect extra deep in my room compared to the rest of the house on surfaces like shelves and lampshades. And rugs. When I finally inherited the Kirby, the first vacuum cleaner with hose attachments to grace this house, it finally got dusted.

It's not like I could take it down and shake it out, after all.

With the new house purchase, I finally got the itch to pull it down. Not to pack. No, this time to sell. I happen to know a guy who runs an auction business. The plan has become to sort out many of the items I've picked up these last few years, and after sorting out the ones I truly wish to keep, letting him auction off the rest for me, using the proceeds to cover moving expenses. Well, help anyway.

There was just a small hitch. It was, after all, nailed to the wall. I asked Paul to take a hammer and carefully pull out the nails holding it in place. Emphasis on carefully.

Paul put the emphasis on expediency. Once started, it practically fell off the nails holding it in place. He let it.

It's probably just as well. I doubt more damage was done than would have been done by somebody trying to be ultra careful with it and attempting to support it while removing nails. The skin had, in over more than 20 years, become brittle. In places a touch with a fingernail would poke a hole through it. I know. I tried it. Gently. It still worked.


Other sections of the skin were still sturdy, and the outward side looked just fine. It needed to be saved.

But how?

Obviously it wasn't going to some leather restorer. Transport alone would likely demolish it. Cost would be ridiculous. We're talking an initial outlay of $99 and a likely sale value of $20, more if I'm lucky. So the basic task was to make it sturdy enough to sell at a cost not to exceed likely return. Or, in other words, just make it useful to somebody else to enjoy rather than throw it out. It's not going to be a money maker.

Stabilization and support. That's the ticket. Stabilize the parts ripping apart so they hold together, and support all of it so it can be moved, examined, hung or walked on. Sturdy, cheap materials for stabilization, and a least-intrusive method of attachment. Sewing? Nope. Glue! But what kind?

I stopped at a fabric and crafts store one night on my way home and started asking questions. Nobody had an answer I liked, including the whole category of where-do-I-find-it? inquiries. Good thing I already had decided on the what-kind-of-backing issues. I had settled on, barring better information which was not forthcoming, using for stabilization of the cracking bits, cut pieces of the large stack of old white sheets I was hanging onto for that nebulous "whatever" purpose. There's a sack of about 25 pounds of them in the top shelf of the linen closet. Rather, there was. It's shy one sheet now - the leftovers are in the rag basket - and still seems to weigh 25 pounds, so somebody else is going to lift it back up onto that wee space on the top shelf and stuff, cram, shove, or shoehorn it back into position. The pieces where bits of sheet are glued look like some first-aid job.


The other decision I made, again barring better info which never came my way, was to use a single large piece of felt to glue behind the whole circle to support all of it against further damages as it continued to age. I did finally find a store employee who could point me to the bolts of felt, where I chose a neutral tannish color, then waited 20 minutes for someone to show up at the cutting counter to cut off my two yards.

Remind me again: why do I go to this store?

I finally found another clerk who knew the location of their glue selections, if not which type might be useful for my project. By now enough other customers had heard my questioning that I was becoming innundated with suggestions, none of which sounded like anybody had any more of a clue than I did on how to tackle the project, especially inexpensively. However, I was polite to all of them. Patience was made much easier since I scored the only battery shopping cart in the store as I first entered it. Otherwise the delays and lack of helpfulness would have made me downright snappish by this point, had I needed to be standing through all of it.

Still, I had to pick out my own glue. I'd had in mind something in a pot that could be spread on with a small paint brush to completely cover the skin before attaching backing. Squeezing tubes while wiggling them over the surface back and forth didn't appeal. However, nobody supplying glue to the store had my same vision of the job or my distaste of working my hands squeezing that long or that hard. It wasn't their hands, after all.

So, start with large bottles of glue and see what they've got. Spray cans were one fellow-customer's idea, and they were there, several varieties and brands. One or two might work on skins ( aka leather), all would hold fabric. All needed ventilation, and used the most amazing compilation of nasty chemicals this side of college chemistry class. Since I'd be working inside, using my bed as a working platform, forget those. Sure the window opens, but one window - keeping the door closed to keep out the furries - does not ventilation make.

OK, forget those. Back to the squeeze bottles. Pick up one, read the label, put it back because it didn't claim it would work. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Finally... Tacky Glue! It didn't just claim to work on fabric, it specifically is useful for felt. Best yet, for leather too! Now, which brand and how many? The cheap one, and two to start.

I put the job off until today. I just wasn't feeling it yesterday, but needed to take advantage of a full weekend day for it to dry. Reading that it set in an hour, I cut and pasted sheeting pieces on every crumbling section I could find, testing pieces with a fingernail to make sure I backed all the fragile ones. An hour of TV, then back for the felt. I decided not to cut it first, but wait until it was all glued to the skin before cutting so I wouldn't need to try to lay it down exactly so. The glue is called "tacky" for a reason.

One other thing I just wasn't feeling today was the need to go out shopping again for more tacky glue. The reason I mention that is because I need at least two more large bottles to finish gluing down the felt. This time I think I'll try WalMart rather than the fabric store. The service won't be any worse. The price might be better. Or I could try either Menards or Home Depot and find out if the stuff really does come in a can one can dip a brush into and spread that way. Or perhaps they really have something else that works as well without the toxicity of the spray-ons. Last resort is go back to the fabric store for three more large bottles.

A tip for those of you trying your own tacky-glue project: get a bottle just the size of the job at hand. The rest will be wasted. You can't poke a hole in the bottle tip without actually cutting off the top, not if you want to do anything else with the rest of your life besides wait for glue to come out. After that there's no way to seal the bottle for more than a couple hours.

The part that has been glued is looking pretty good. Let's just keep the critters out of my room till it's finished, hey guys?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Family Endings, Family Beginnings

I'm still working on coming to terms with the endings and beginnings in my own personal life. More than four months after my father died, it still hits me in unexpected moments. I miss him. And, much as I'm likely to be unable to avoid it, I don't want to go through such a situation again.

Maybe part of that is that I'm still going through it again and again, just being on my job. Part of what I do is deliver medications to hospice patients, sometimes at home, sometimes in facilities. Seeing the other trucks delivering hospital beds and oxygen equipment while I'm heading to the door with a bag of pills, knowing that here is another family going through what I just went through, brings an emotional wince. It's seldom as bad as the two times I was sent on my way with the meds refused because the patient had just died. The most recent of those I was greeted by the new widow who told me she thought I was the coroner ringing the bell. They were still waiting for him to show up.

I so know what they're dealing with.

On the other hand, I'm still getting used to being with Steve, being back home, back to the new normal that is close to indistinguishable from the old normal. I think that's good. The old normal was pretty damn good, thank you, so I'm just not quite sure why I think the new normal should be somehow different, as in better. Perhaps it's just the security of the relationship, on both our parts.

I do find I have to knock some silly ideas out of Steve's head. The other day his son and granddaughter picked him up to go fishing. Yes, fishing, in Minnesota, in mid-March. It's that weird a year. No fish committed suicide on their hooks, but that in no way diminished their enjoyment. When they returned, Lance assisted Paul in cutting, sorting, and generally stacking the winter tree trimmings in preparation for backyard bonfires. (There are still bunches of piles left. Paul did a lot of trimming.) That was followed by one of those bonfires, along with a brat roast. Steve thanked me later for "letting them" go fishing before tackling the yard work. I had to insist that there was no way I was in any position to "let" him go fishing, nor to prevent it either. I'm his partner, not his boss.

We'll work on that.

In the last two days I've gotten two pieces of news from different parts of the family regarding other endings and beginnings. In the interest of ending on a high note, I'll start with the bad news first.

My dad's oldest sister, Jeanette, raised her family down in Austin, Minnesota. They were the cousins most close in age to my parents, and the ones they often socialized with, even in later years. My cousin Virginia called to let me know that her brother Darrel's wife, Carol, had just died. Apparently she had multiple health problems complicated in the last five months or so by rapidly progressing alzheimers. It was one of those deaths often called "a mercy". Carol's own mother had alzheimers for about 20 years, so one can easily concede the point. Still, it's a loss. For anyone interested, the funeral will be Saturday at the 1st Methodist Church.

They called me because in the olden days they would have called my mother, and she would have contacted everybody. I'll have to work on that: apparently it's an inherited position.

On the other end of the emotion spectrum, I finally got in touch with my granddaughter. We knew Dustin was intending to propose on Valentine's night, after they left our wedding. We hadn't heard anything. He promised to contact us. Nope. Did we dare call her and ask? What if he'd chickened out? What if she'd said, "No"? Would they even still be together? Would an inquiry wound an already broken heart with awareness of our expectations?

OK, you know me. I'm not going to let it go for long. It just needs a tactful way of asking and letting the answer speak for itself. So once I finally got hold of her, the conversational gambit was along the lines of, "So, anything new and exciting in your life these days?"

Her answer was, "Oh, you mean this ring on my hand?"


So, for details, it wasn't that night. She fell asleep in the car on the way home. Plus her mom was doing the driving, and three's a crowd for that sort of thing. But sometime later, somewhere in Hastings he did the big down-on-one-knee production, and she accepted. The plans as of now are to move in together in June. The date they both like is April 13. Partly it's away from all the other family and holiday special dates, something uniquely their own. Plus there'll be nice weather.

What? Did I hear that right? Hey Jordan, did I ever tell you about the April 14th blizzard/whiteout where I got stuck in the freeway center median for a couple hours after hitting a patch of ice before help came along? At least I'd brought my taxes along with me, planning to work on them during any down time at work. I had plenty of time to finish them. So good luck on that weather thing.

They haven't picked out a year yet, just the calendar date. Not this year, anyway. And McDonalds is planning to send her to manager school in May, assuming she keeps her nose clean. Plus she thinks there's some kind of tuition assistance program, so she can finally get that college education she so deserves.

Endings. Beginnings. Life will go on.

Thank goodness.


I'm lucky in that my son Paul works at a job where he has access to very sturdy double-cardboard boxes and plenty of bubblewrap. Large bubbles, small bubbles, and industrial bubbles with a solid coating on both sides. He's been given notice to bring stuff home as it becomes available. And yes, I've started to pack.

The first boxes were the southwest pottery and other artwork items I've collected, other than the Santa Clara I've picked up for Stephanie. However, in the spirit of clearing out the house, I stopped by with a three year supply of birthday and Christmas presents for her: last year (that had been planned for after the honeymoon trip), this year, and next. With luck I'll remember just when to start up again. There's still one more box of the southwest stuff to pack, but I've been waiting to find a last item to include. Somehow my sense of order is nudged into high production after all this chaos I've been living in, and it suits me to have like things packed together.

The second bit of packing needed a bit of shopping done first. It's the bathroom starter box. It's a big one, and includes toilet paper, cleaners, soaps and shampoos, and a bath mat and towels to match the odd blue/turquoise color of the master bathroom. Soon there will be a kitchen box to match, emphasizing cleaning supplies for the immediate job of making the kitchen usable. It seems I don't mind a dirty kitchen as long as it's my dirt, but somebody else's dirt grosses me out!

Go figure.

This weekend I discovered a parallel job to the packing-to-move job. It's the packing-to-send-to-auction job. And that's involved a whole lot of cleaning. For example, there's a whole set of Mexican blue hand-blown glassware that my late mother-in-law cleaned out of her house years ago, picked up on her honeymoon. That dates it back to 1941. It's been sitting on top of my cupboards for over 20 years, never used. It required Paul's help in getting down, and hours of hand washing to remove dust and grease, and careful packing in what turned out to be two boxes so it can be safely taken to Doug. Since there was a bit of room left over, I included a hand-painted Fenton glass deer and a cranberry hobnail candle holder. There will be scads of stuff like that to unpack from the totes stacked in the basement, sorted, and repacked to keep or auction. Pretty to look at, fun to have, don't care to move, nice to get some money back from. More Fenton, some Shawnee, some Roseville, even some Red Wing. The carnival glass I'm keeping, however.

I also packed up the Chinese vases, brass/bronze, jade, framed artwork, etc. this weekend, again after dusting or washing, as most of it has gotten filthy from years of sitting on top of kitchen cabinets plus being out during the dust storms of home remodeling. All the Chinese stuff is heading south, and all of it is now packed, if you count the totes of boxed snuff bottles in the basement which still need bubble wrap and taping to make the move in safety. But they are sorted and in totes at least. Most of them are of the inside-painted variety, but there's a selection of them done in various stones: jaspers, minerals like chrysacholla, fossils and agates and more. Mostly they get stored away and looked at periodically, rather than displayed. First, I have nothing with which to properly display them. Second, the paint will fade over the years with exposure to light, and I want them to be in great shape years down the road. They are increasing in value considerably since they were purchased, as the Chinese themselves have come to appreciate these gems, not for holding snuff, but as pieces of miniature art. They may be the only real inheritance my kids ever get.

There's still chaos around here. Packing supplies still litter the house, and sealed and labeled boxes are piling up. But the tops of the kitchen cabinets are clear for the first time, and the storage units in my bedroom are gaining some freedom from clutter. If I concentrate my attention, I can almost imagine I'm gaining order in the house!

Note to self: put packing tape on the shopping list. Oh, and a fresher magic marker.

Friday, March 16, 2012

But They Said They'd Call

The sparkly was ready, chilling in the fridge. Only cider, not even alcoholic, but perfect for the occasion, a recent gift from a wedding-attendee. The carbs were even counted to make room in the daily allotment for a restricted serving. All in the household were gathered after work to toast the new house closing. The phone was checked and rechecked for missed calls, for voicemail left. All we needed was the official pronouncement: the closing had occurred as scheduled.

Nada. Zip. Silence.

The realtor had promised to call. The closer at the title company had promised to call.

Still nothing.

Allowances had been made all day for the two-hour difference in time zones, now that we were on CDT and Arizona on Mountain Standard. 10:00 here? They likely hadn't opened the doors yet. Noon? Still early. 3:00 PM? Maybe a later afternoon closing. 6:00 PM? Still time left to squeeze it into their work day. 8:00 PM? Hey, wait a minute here!

I checked on line to see if anybody had thought sending email would be sufficient.


I called the realtor, got voicemail, left a message.

We decided to celebrate anyway. After all, if I had the cider now, I could have my nightly ice cream at bedtime. Steve opened the bottle, poured it out into three colored plastic glasses (I got the bright red kid's glass), and we made artificial clinking noises as we touched glasses for the toast.


At 10:00 PM I called the other of the husband-wife team of realtors we had used. He answered promptly, couldn't believe nobody from the title company had called. His wife was currently on a plane, had let him know from the airport that it was completed, so at least he could verify it to me. But apparently everybody thought somebody else was going to make the call, even though each had promised me that they would.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Event That Didn't Happen

Got an email from my realtor. The paperwork arrived. The wired money arrived. How about having the closing the next day instead of waiting for the 15th?

Oh, and did I have the homeowner's insurance set up yet?

Yes, I did. For the 15th. Don't feel like buying a house and being responsible for it two days before insurance covers it. We'll wait those two extra days, even though I can barely wait to get in there and start cleaning, tearing out dirty crap, painting, filling it with our stuff. But that's going to have to wait until next fall, so what's the hurry? There's lots of packing to do.

Thanks anyway.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


The final documents to sign/notarize on the home purchase arrived today. Tomorrow they get signed and UPSed back overnight. Monday the funds get wired to the title company. The 15th is official closing.

The loan I applied for last January fell through, even though I showed proof that I actually had a good chunk more than the needed funds to buy the house outright. I would have preferred not to take the tax bite on liquidating so many IRA funds in a single tax year - kinda defeats the purpose - but what is, is.

So I've been busy. I wasn't keeping all my eggs in the same basket.

At least I've been taking it in stages. Last year I took some out before the 31st of December, so it at least counts against 2011 for taxes, and the mandatory 10% they had to take out more than covers the debt. The refund will be going to this year's bite. Just after the first of the year I took out some more, still hoping at that point for a loan on the rest. Since then it's become almost a hobby to crunch numbers to figure out which combinations of liquidations will get me to my goal without costing me too much in penalties (most are in CDs) or ridding myself of the remaining high-earners. Yes, I still have 5% on some investments!

The much-hated U S Bank CDs will be staying with me until maturity. Their penalty is about 10%! Apparently it takes such outrageous penalties to get us to put up with the rest of their shenanigans, like their deciding they have the right to charge me $30/year just to "manage" my "retirement account".

Never again, U S Bank, never again! In fact, it tickles me to find out that the short sale on this house which is costing a bank money is actually through U S Bank! Yep, they were the original lender on the last mortgage. Hey guys, maybe what goes around comes around, as "they" say.

I say, "Tee hee!" "Har har har!" "Chortle!" "Glee glee!" And maybe something about mud in their eye. If it had to happen to somebody....

One CD was maturing this week anyway, so that goes into the pile. I may never again see 5.5% interest. Sigh.... Another sizable one hurts to break, though it only costs me about $50 in penalties, but it leaves me the flexibility of several small CDs, and one really large one which still earns 5% until next spring. That one will go towards paying taxes on this year's "income", making repairs and cosmetic improvements like floor tiles to the house, and paying back some of the loans I'm advancing myself against my credit limits on my credit cards.

Yep, credit cards.

The interest on one is lower than any loan I can get even these days, without maxing out the card, and the other, smaller loan has a higher but reasonable rate and will be the first paid off next year. At least that's money I won't have to declare as "income" for this tax year, and that balances out the interest quite well. It also leaves me more cash funds invested as a cushion against life's little happenings.

How, you might ask, do you put part of a house on a credit card? PayPal. I paid my son Paul the amount I wished to withdraw, PayPal took its chunk, and Paul got the money into his checking account. Then he wrote me a check for that amount, and I deposited it into my growing pile in my savings account. The other card is the Visa through my credit union with a nice limit available on it that I instituted several years back and have been careful not to use. It's there to prevent charges for any overdraft that might occur. They automatically take overages out as a "loan" without question and simply charge interest and pay themselves back on a monthly schedule. Unless, of course, I tell them to do it faster as funds come in.

Some of these processes take a few days. Paypal, for example, took three business days to deposit the funds to Paul's account. Nice for them, three days interest on however many millions are on site any given day! Other processes take a simple phone call and funds are transferred. In the middle are the ones which require a stop in a bank with a bunch of paperwork to establish ownership because they've never heard of me except for the day I popped in to take advantage of a great rate.

All together I'm combining funds from 7 different sources. I'll own two houses. No mortgages. Once I retire I can look to selling this place and moving to Arizona full time. With any kind of luck at all the market should have recovered enough that income from the Minnesota house will be double its original cost, more than double the cost of the Arizona house, and well more than any other investment could provide. Until then, no house payments.

And meanwhile we get to snowbird! That's the best part.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


Yes, we raced the winter storm home.

We won.

It started raining shortly after we left Bethany, MO. The Super 8 Motel was nice, having two comfortable beds and a lounge chair. I enjoyed sitting back to read with my feet up and managed to finish the 3rd and last of the "Girl Who..." series. Steve hit the bed, intending to use the wi-fi later, but woke when I did the next morning instead. Breakfast was a choice of carbs, not even the hard boiled eggs of the last Super 8 we stayed in in Soccoro, New Mexico. It was further spoiled by the TV blaring all the bad weather news for where everybody was heading. It seems you had your choice that day: nasty snow/ice combinations or possible tornadoes. Time to hit the road.

We were in rain, as it turned out, the whole rest of the day. It tried to turn over to hard stuff a few times, iced the walkway of a rest stop before we used it, but we just kept pushing and made it to Forest Lake before we really saw anything white. Roads turned out to be fine the whole way, though we mostly stayed behind a semi with enough tires to kick up anything off the road before we had to travel on it.

1900 miles in three days. Uff da! I gave myself the next day off to recover. As it turned out, that was the day it really snowed anyway, more where we live than down in the metro. I mostly sat back and started catching up on recorded TV shows on the DVR box - over three weeks of them since I wasn't watching that much before we left, busy preparing for the wedding and the trip. Two of my favorites had their season finales (so far) that I've seen. Steve and I had a "Wheel of Fortune" marathon - made easier by skipping everything but the actual puzzles, leaving about 12 minutes of actual viewing time per episode. Mostly he's been in his room catching up on his shows, stuff I'll watch on occasion when there's nothing in the whole world better to do for a while, including sleep.

I've had two days back at work now. Last night was mostly spent driving home from Des Moines - something all too familiar, but I wasn't about to turn down the run to Des Moines. I'm working on playing catch-up on the bank account, since there's no such thing as a paid vacation when you are an IC working on commissions. I've spent time unpacking - to a point, hope to finish this weekend - figuring finances, going through emails that I've missed out on while on the road. Then there's the in-head time, spent in high quantities back in Arizona. Let's see, we'll do this with this room, change that one like so, dig out those and replant with.... And so it goes.

For the first time this winter there's enough snow on the ground up here to cover the brown grass. The roof melt is creating its usual icy patch right at the entryway, and we're finally starting to dig into the bag of ice-melt. The ice scraper has been getting a workout on the windshield and car windows. We now know the house across the street has been foreclosed on because there's a plow drift blocking their driveway - plus the little sign on the door, of course.

I can't help but wonder if this is - hopefully - the last such time we'll see this. Next week is supposed to bring 50's and melt all this, and after that, who knows? It still serves as a reminder of why we're turning into snowbirds. Memories surface of bringing the family back from 4 years in Georgia just in time for the winter of '81 with it's 16" snowfalls and cold temperatures, the constant prompter for the question, "We came back for... this?"

Meanwhile there's cleaning to do, and financing for the new home to gather. Yesterday I discovered what - yes, I know - I should have known, namely the penalty for early cracking of some of my different CDs. It changed my plans for which to cash in. For example, one will cost me a little over $100 on a CD worth about double of one that from a different bank but with a similar interest rate will cost $600. Guess which one I'm cashing in? This next week that's my first priority, since by the end of the week the purchase price plus add-ons minus deposit will need to be wired to the title company. I think the paperwork is all signed. I've gotten insurance on it - about a third of costs here. Taxes turn out to be just over a fifth of taxes on the house here, and due, not May and October, but October and March.

Then there's income taxes to finish, and lists to start actually committing to paper. In splitting up possessions between two houses, what to we move? What do we keep here? What needs to be bought, and when? There'll be more money available next March, so whatever can be postponed should be. That includes as many furniture purchases as possible, so the default choice for furniture is move it down there, replace as needed when we return here next spring. However, some things can be postponed long enough for us to shop estate sales down there and be picked up piecemeal. Then again, the good transportation will be the moving truck, and that's when there'll be helpers.

But there'll be moving costs: the vehicles, gas, motel rooms, meals on the road, and that's after actual packing materials. Who's going to help and how do we figure that out for both there and here, taking into consideration various work schedules?

Repairs, cleaning and painting will be needed in the new house, and which will wait and which won't? For example, one toilet leaks around the floor seal: this would be a perfect time to replace it with one with a higher seat so our knees won't need to be strained so much during use. No sense paying a plumber twice, much as I sympathize for their need for employment. Some exterior doors don't meet code and should be replaced. This is not such a big deal while the house sits empty, or while we're living in it, but should be tended to before we leave next spring, leaving possessions behind. Carpeting needs to be removed during the moving-in process, but the new floor coverings can be dealt with next spring or even the following fall: concrete and throw rugs is livable for a while.

Between the carpeting and the screens which need to be removed from the screen porch, converting it back to a covered patio, a dumpster will need to be procured while we're just moving in. It'll also hold some nasty cactus we're going to have pulled from the back yard as a hazard to both dogs and humans, in addition to being malformed and ugly. Conveniently, the screen panels in their frames will make great carrying slabs for hauling the stuff out to the front yard and tossing it into the dumpster, and we're already bringing down the long-handled gardening tools. That's on the mental list too.

Time to start writing it all down.

Maybe after breakfast.

And some more TV.