Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Storm of Christmas Past

The last four days have been hellish with an extra-special hellishness that would do Mister Lucifer proud. But, up to a critical point, most of my goals were met.

First, a quat update. When we last met, Tiger Whitestockings and Tiger Grumpyface were both Missing in Action. Both have reported in. But life is hard on an outdoors cat and these guys are taking their lumps. Whitestockings is always gone in the morning, and she stays away all day. I have no idea where she goes. But every night, usually between six and seven PM, she answers my call with a plaintive meow from under the deck, and I see to it that she gets fed. Last night, with our big winter blizzard, she was particularly upset. The fur on her back was iced up

And I saw Tiger Grumpyface every day at the old house. She knows I am trying to get my hands on her, so she runs ahead of me every time I appear, and stands off to one side meowing. I've given her a can of food every day, but on Sunday I brought the cat carrier with me and put the food inside that. She would not go in to eat. Maybe if she gets hungry enough, she will. But the blizzard prevented me from going out yesterday, and I've no plan to go out today, and the cat carrier is probably buried under twenty inches of snow. So unless unless she's cleaning up on some mice and rats out in the barn, she will be plenty hungry when I see her next!

Snow. Don't tell me how pretty it is. On my first day over at the old house, I discovered that the five or six inches we got in town on Thursday night was more like eight to ten inches in the country. I got stuck five times just trying to get into the driveway, wasted an hour, and was exhausted before I could even start in on the house.

I spent two days clearing off the furniture upstairs to make it ready for the move, and one day downstairs. It did not go without tears, usually two or three hard bouts every day. The thing that set me off first was finding a silly project of mine from my early teens. I threw it away. Another memory gone, like the pages from the book of life in Something Wicked This Way Comes.

As I packed and loaded, I also did laundry -- until the dryer died on Saturday afternoon. No more will I launder there -- anything that comes with me is going to have to come dirty. Everything I touch is destroyed.

But by Sunday night the basic mission was accomplished. Everything is ready. There will still be much work after the move, but the worst ought to be behind me at that point.

The last thing I took out of the old house on Sunday was the kitchen clock. My mother loved that clock, and its loud ticking was the heartbeat of that place for thrirty-five years. Without it, the house is still and silent.

Now it is the heartbeat at the new house.

The three days also meant three very full and successful loads to the new house. This part is fun and exciting and satisfying. I now have a dresser in my bedroom, and the television stand to store DVDs in. I have a table in my living room, with a Steiff owl in a cage sitting on it. I have a lamp and a giant child's block for a lampstand in the side room. It's getting better.

But the move, scheduled for Monday, never happened thanks to the damned blizzard, and there's no fallback date as of yet. I have to find a way to get the old house plowed out first, which is kind of hard to do without a phone. My sense is that I'll be sleeping on the mattress for at least a week longer than expected.

On Monday I braved the storm in order to come in to work and access phone and internet. My plow guy hadn't come, so I got stuck twice trying to get out. I got the message from the movers that they were canceling, left a message for them, and called up the phone company to set up phone, internet and television. By the time I got back home, the town plow had filled in the end of my driveway. I got stuck trying to get through, and it took half an hour to get out. Then I got stuck again just shy of the garage. This time there was no escape -- I couldn't move forward or backward. I only had a damn broom to clear snow away with, and couldn't get out to buy a shovel.

I spent the day poking away half-heartedly at the new website (because the old one will go away soon, and I might as well completely rethink it), and waiting for the plow guy. He never came.

Did you know that cleaning up cat vomit from the floor uses the same exact set of shoulder and arm muscles as moving? After three solid days of this, I am back to needing a break from it. My body aches all over, I'm exhausted, and my emotions are in the toilet.

The loneliness is getting to me. In the last years of her life, my mother was of little  practical help in facing the winter, but at least we had each other to talk to. I suppose I'm feeling it more for not having the option of picking up the phone or drafting an email.

On Saturday I accepted an invitation from Steve L______ and his wife Claire P_______ to join the two of them for Christmas dinner. I've known Steve casually for about four years now: he temps at the bookstore on big weekends and special events, and is one of the very few employees of the college who shares my sense of humor. We've had less chance in the past couple of years to work together, now that I am in a position of responsibility, but it was awfully nice of him and Claire to make the invite. It turns out that we are practically neighbors now: I was able to walk to their place. Their house is charming and they are good company. I spent two hours there and enjoyed it very much.

Between that and the day full of work (including a full car to unload after I left them), I hardly had to think about Christmas at all.

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