Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Seeking serenity, box by box

One day I'm gonna make it up to you
One day we're gonna laugh instead of cry
One day I'm coming home to stay, it's true
And baby, that's the last ticket I'm ever gonna buy.

Sorry about the radio silence.

We are in North Carolina.

We left Sugar Land last Tuesday and arrived here on Thursday.

The cats did amazingly well. Very little meowing. The little litter boxes I put in their crates were a waste of effort. Loki had one minor "accident" on the first day, and that was all, despite many hours of being crated.

I think it helped that they rode in the way-back of my SUV, below window level. We stopped only for gas and offered treats but only Loki was interested.

They did well in the hotel rooms too. Zamboni spent a lot of time under a chair or behind a bed, starting at every sound in the corridor. After lights out, all the cats spent at least part of the night sleeping with Neil or me.

Road warriors Loki and Biscotti.
Once I woke up to the sound of a cat chowing down, and it was Zamboni. The disposable litter box also was used during the night.

The first day was hard because we got a late start. We had to put the last furniture in the garage and wait for the recycling to be picked up.

The second day was harder. We were going to have progressively shorter drives, but decided to press on after making good time. That would have been a better decision if we hadn't hit Atlanta during rush hour and spent much time in stop and go traffic. The cats made barely a peep but we both felt guilty for prolonging the ordeal.

On the bright side, we had a very short drive left on Thursday, only about 130 miles, so we didn't get in late and exhausted.

We set up a cat room right away, with litter boxes, food, water, cat tree, cat bed, scratching posts.

Two cats have adjusted fairly well. It was good that there was familiar furniture already set up in the house. Zamboni is struggling a bit, freaked out by every sound, such as the new house alarm beeping, a phone ringing and especially and unfortunately when there was a pool party next door on the day we arrived.

Zamboni the homesick.
Seven kids screaming, shrieking and jumping around in the pool on what should have been a school day. I still haven't figured that out, but it's been mostly blessedly quiet since. Still, Zammy chooses to spend his days in a traveling crate. He does come out in the evenings and seems OK, but I did google depression in cats after moving, which led me to the reading about relocation depression, which is a thing and happens to people too,

Not surprisingly, I have all the symptoms.

You might say I've gotten off to an emotional start.

I won't give you a blow-by-blow. Sometimes I'm fine, sometimes I cry a lot. I have no energy. I sleep at night and I sleep in the afternoons. I do a little unpacking and I have to sit down and rest. I have no appetite, nothing sounds good, but I do get hungry and eat, so no worries there.

We still haven't grocery shopped. We've bought a few things for the house, a patio table and four chairs, a fig tree, some ceramic pots. Furniture is problematic. We only brought two sofas, and only one is in a living area. The other is in a guest room that will eventually be my workroom and cats aren't allowed because carpet. I go back and forth from our bed to our kitchen chairs to the one sofa.

Neil isn't enthusiastic about furniture shopping right now. He wants to get 300-some boxes moved out of our garage and unpacked. I feel paralyzed about unpacking because I don't have furniture to put things away in or on. We lost our lovely built-ins and a lot of cabinet space to boot.

About 100 of the boxes are totally mine and at least half of them have a layer of glass on the bottom, so until I outfit my studio I can't quite envision unboxing. But Neil suggested that if I unpack three boxes a day I'll be finished in a month. So that's my goal and it seems reasonable enough.

Another complexity is that we're sharing a car for now and I'm not ready to go out on my own yet. So I spend a lot of time waiting for Neil while he industriously hammers shelving together or unboxes books into stacks on the floor. I feel better going out and getting things we need, such as bath rugs, but that's probably just my shopping gene kicking in.

Still, if I felt able to go to Ikea for instance, I could pick up furnishings for my studio at least, which might help with my unpacking paralysis. I'll get there, I'm sure, but I'm not there now and I'm not forcing myself.

It's easier to weep about all the things I've lost for the present, like having a working studio and a treadmill, than to take some action to remedy the situation. I mock myself but I'm serious. This isn't easy and I'm being gentle with myself and not pressuring myself to do anything until I'm ready. Not yet anyway.

In the meantime, I popped box lids until I found my coloring books and gel pens and a novel I haven't read yet. Score three for me.

Face it, I don't like change. I say I do, I say variety is good, innovation is good, growth is good, even when it's hard. But I'm so very attached to my routines, my comforts. My coffee in the morning with a cat. Familiar places. The structure of my days.

I know, get over it, stretch, adapt, relax, be flexible, be tolerant, be patient. New routines will become accustomed routines, new places will become familiar, new daily structure will become habitual. It just needs time.

Or so I hope.

Three boxes a day.

Every article I put away makes being here more inevitable, as if we aren't already here, as if it weren't already past the point of no return.

And it's not that I want to go back, not to Sugar Land, not to Texas, not really. Even though I look at our front door and I cry because, although it's pretty, it's not our beautiful leaded front door with sidelights, opening into our beautiful foyer. So many beautiful things that will soon belong to someone else. Our house will be listed on Thursday. I predict it will sell quickly, even in a soft market, but maybe that's only because I love it so much that I'm sure every prospective buyer will love it too.

No, you, by which I mean I, can't go home again. That's always been the problem, no really good solutions, no workable compromises, certainly no geographical place with access to my children that also has the soft green grass that thrills Neil so much.

I talked to my kids and my grandson this weekend. That helped. I feel so unanchored, so drifting, so ungrounded.

I told Chelsea, it's nice here, I don't want to like it but it's hard to dislike it. People are friendlier, without a doubt. Wherever we go, people seem happy, oddly, crazily, inexplicably happy. From the helpful employees and fellow patrons at Lowes to the owner of the restaurant that was closed when we got there but who not only agreed when I asked if we could buy some scones to go, but wouldn't take any money for them. All cheerful, good humored, helpful. Happy.

Happy. It's a goal.

Like three boxes a day.

First picture from the new house.


I drive a three county highway
And every one of them town's got a firework show
It's 4th of July and I'm just now getting home
On the horizon I can see them all unfold

It's been a warm winter and a cold spring
Everywhere I've been's felt wrong to me
Everything I kept
What I never should have thrown away
I wanted you for all those yesterdays

I was wishing for you one Sunday morning
Walkin' down the road in some debtor's town
From every church a hymn came blendin' in
And everyone of them wantin' to be found

Did you say it took a long time to find
A lot less man and less harm done
Did you say it took a long time to find
A handsome one to keep you young

One day I'm gonna make it up to you
One day we're gonna laugh instead of cry
One day I'm coming home to stay, it's true
And baby, that's the last ticket I'm ever gonna buy

It's been a warm winter and a cold spring
Everywhere I've been has felt wrong to me
So put your head on my heart and lay down in the crook of my arm
Everything's okay, I've been found again
I've been found again.


(Amy Elizabeth Ray, Emily Ann Saliers)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

A murder of time

"Your love for me a-got to be real
For you to know just how I feel
A love for real not fade away."

I've been on a shopping spree.

The reasons are manifold.

Being here all week with three cats and only the internet for amusement is one. Finally shaking loose some of my investments to bolster my dwindling cash flow is another. Having a last chance to shop at stores that won't be as accessible after we move is one more.

The most valid reason Is that when we returned from our last trip to NC, I expected to be here only two nights, so I had very little in the way of things to wear.

And of course I do love to shop.

I don't do it often and mostly I shop online now. I'm a very slow shopper, I take a long time to make up my mind.

Shopping online let's me put things in a shopping cart and then mull them over, sometimes for weeks or months.

Shopping brick and mortar is a time thief, but this week for a change I'm happy to kill some time.

I hit Ross first and scored a cute skirt and three pairs of socks that I didn't really need. After that I went to Target, chiefly for underwear, but I bought a couple of tank tops and a sundress too.

I tried the sundress on at home and it just did not work.

My first stop the next day was Famous Footwear. I walked in and the clerk said, welcome, blah blah, and it's the last day of our buy-one-get-one-half price sale.

An hour, a pair of Asics, and a pair of New Balance later, I moved on to T.J.Maxx. That was mostly a bust except for a lightweight sweater and the perfect dish towels for our new kitchen.

Lastly, I went back to Target to return the sundress. But I found another one. Came home, tried it on, and again it wasn't all that. I'm still debating whether to keep it or return it. For the price it's fine for relaxing around the house or running errands, but I was hoping to love it.

Day three, today, I went to a different Ross and after a lot of looking, I found an inexpensive bra and, guess what, a sundress. I had to pass Old Navy on the way to the car and thought I'd take a look. Usually I find nothing there but once in a while I find a good deal

Today I found, wait for it, a dress. It's a little dressier than a sundress but it's my favorite of the three new ones I currently own.

My last stop was Petsmart where I paid too much for three large flat sturdy rubber dog dishes that I think will be perfect as travel litter boxes for each cat's crate. My vet highly recommended against just using towels and hoping for the best. She suggested shoe box lids but these have the advantage of being waterproof and hopefully heavy enough to stay put.

I have one more shopping day to go, but nothing else I particularly need. And of course anything I buy has to travel with us. So I think I'm done, unless I decide to return the second Target sundress.

Funny, I used to spends days at a time at home, quite contentedly, leaving the house only to go to the post office. But I had beads to make then. Now I have a bad case of cabin fever instead.

I finished the book I was reading, but I have books on my iPad, although I've never read one that way.

I'm watching the third series on the Danish crime drama, Dicte. I'm mixing that up with PBS shows. Today I watched Death Dive to Saturn, a NOVA show about the deliberate demise of the spacecraft Cassini. That event actually happens tomorrow morning although by the time the final radio signals reach Earth, Cassini will have been defunct for an hour and 20 minutes.

Does all this sound impossibly mundane? Have I surmounted my grief and doubt about this move? This week has certainly been a contrast to the week of Hurricane Harvey when, despite our flooding fears, I savored my extra time here. In the wake of Hurricane Irma, I'm ready, if not eager, to put the road trip with the cats behind me and get on with it.

It being my life.

Until then, my biggest decision is which Frontline special to watch. I'm leaning toward The Man Who Knew. Because, especially at this time of year, I'm endlessly interested in the events of 9-11. Perhaps because I was in such a fragile frame of mind at the time, the universal pain became inextricable from my personal pain. Nonetheless, although many people dread to be reminded of that horrible day, as time passes I feel more moved to bear witness to the memory.

Speaking of memory, I've been reading and rereading the novels of Rumer Godden. They are terrifically well written and were influential reading for me many years ago. It troubles me that the books are out of print. It's not hard to find them second hand, but I wonder who reads them now, besides people like me who read them then. How many important things fade away?

But wait. I'm wrong. You can buy them in Kindle editions.

I may have just a little more shopping to do.


I'm a-gonna tell you how it's gonna be
You're gonna give your love to me
I wanna love you night and day
You know my love a-not fade away
A-well, you know my love a-not fade away

My love a-bigger than a cadillac
I try to show it and you drive a-me back
Your love for me a-got to be real
For you to know just how I feel
A love for real not fade away

I'm a-gonna tell you how it's gonna be
You're gonna give your love to me
A love to last a-more than one day
A love that's love - not fade away
A well, a-love that's love - not fade away.


(Charles Hardin, aka Buddy Holly, Norman Petty)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

There and here

"Now the old boy may be barely breathing
But the heart of rock and roll, heart of rock and roll is still beating."

You can take the girl out of Texas.

But apparently it's a lot harder to keep the girl out of Texas.

This time it's Hurricane Irma running the circus.

Saturday was the day we were supposed to get back from North Carolina. Monday was the day we were supposed to peel out of here with three cats.

We actually came home a day early again, for many reasons, the primary reason being that there was more we needed to accomplish here than there.

There, we were camping in the house with a bed, two folding chairs and a coffeemaker.

Our new coffeemaker. Color: Oasis.
Here, we have cars to load and cleaning to do and odds and ends to donate and dispose of.

Plans keep changing.

You may remember that originally our furniture was supposed to leave Texas on August 28 and arrive in NC on or about Sept. 1. Hurricane Harvey hosed up that plan.

Next plan, our furniture was scheduled to leave on Sept. 11 and arrive on or about Sept. 15.

Our pods, which already are in storage there, are scheduled to be delivered on Sept. 13 and 14 and emptied by Sept. 15 and 16 Otherwise we incur another month of storage charges.

So, we were planning to leave with the cats as soon as the furniture pulled out on Monday and drive like the wind to be there in time to meet the pods and furniture.

Except our drive takes us right through Irma, no matter what route she takes. Dealing with flooded roads and detours with three cats is a no go, especially since we have to be there when the pods arrive on Wednesday, with no flexibility.

Time for another new plan. It looks like this. Neil flies to NC on Tuesday to receive the pods, unload them, and wait for the furniture- which is still supposed to leave on Sept. 11 but also has to make its way through Irma. Neil didn't bother booking a return flight yet.

In the meantime I stay here with three cats and minimal furniture, just the few last things that we are donating or dumping. No TV, no treadmill, obviously no torch, no glass, no beads, no books, no mail. I can't even have anything delivered because our change of address kicks in as of Monday.

All this is nothing compared to those facing storm threats and damage. Or to those still cleaning up the mess that Harvey left behind.

I've been conflicted about moving, OK, a big baby at times, but now I'm ready to have this move behind me. Not to mention getting this house listed and sold.

I have to say, it was nice in the new house. Even though the first night there I soaked my brand new pillow with tears because it wasn't home. I felt very far away from my kids and all the familiar things I have known and loved.

Even sleeping north-south in our new bed, rather than east-west felt disorienting. But I absolutely love our new mattress. I am in love with my bed.

Some things don't change.

But the weather was perfect and we sat in our folding chairs on our screened patio and watched the birds and butterflies. It was hard not to like it there.

I'm obviously obsessed with this color family.
In fact, on this last trip there, I almost got my head around the fact that home isn't here any more, home is there. I'm sure it will be a two-step forward one-step back process, but progress is progress even when measured in small increments.

My new bathtub was disappointing. It is deeper but much shorter than my bathtub here. The hot water came up right away at least, which is one of the nice things here.

The shower is beautiful and huge. I may start taking more showers again.

I'd still have put in the bathtub, even if I'd known how small it would be. Nothing to do about it now except to accept and adjust.

I'm working on that, in a larger sense. Striving to not worry about what I can't control. Counteracting anxiety with mindful gratitude. Sometimes it works, sometimes not, but at least I'm trying.

Point. I miss glass. I think it will be a while before my studio is set up again. The end of September was wildly optimistic wishful thinking, hurricanes or no hurricanes.

Counterpoint. Maybe the break will be good for my creativity. Maybe beads will be selling better when and if I resume selling them.

For the present, it's one day at a time. Seven or eight of those days from now, with luck and no more storms, we'll try again to rock and roll out of Texas.

Goddess willing that Lee, Maria, and Nate don't raise any troublesome swirling bands and turn their ominous eyes in our direction.


New York, New York, is everything they say
And no place that I'd rather be
Where else can you do a half a million things
All at a quarter to three

When they play their music, oh that modern music
They like it with a lot of style
But it's still that same old back beat rhythm
That really, really drives 'em wild

They say the heart of rock and roll is still beating
And from what I've seen I believe 'em
Now the old boy may be barely breathing
But the heart of rock and roll, heart of rock and roll is still beating

LA, Hollywood, and the Sunset Strip
Is something everyone should see
Neon lights and the pretty pretty girls
All dressed so scantily

When they play their music
That hard rock music
They like it with a lot of flash
But it's still that same old back beat rhythm
That really, really kicks 'em in the ...

DC, San Antone, and the Liberty Town, Boston, and Baton Rouge
Tulsa, Austin, Oklahoma City, Seattle, San Francisco too
Everywhere there's music, real live music, bands with a million styles
But it's still that some old rock and roll music
That really, really drives 'em wild

They say the heart of rock and roll is still beating
And from what I've seen I believe 'em
Now the old boy may be barely breathing
But the heart of rock and roll, heart of rock and roll is still beating

In Cleveland
Detroit
Oh, heart of rock and roll.


(Huey Lewis, John Victor Colla)