New season, new phases…

17 Sep

It’s September, and this summer has practically passed in a flash of mosquito bites and sweat.

Not that the day-to-day portion seemed to go that fast, but we were frantically busy between family and house hunting, and now, it’s fall and we’re frantically busy finishing moving.

We found a house!

In all of Mississippi, I never anticipated the woes we had in finding a house for our budget.  We saw some absolute wrecks that I couldn’t believe that anyone, let alone a real estate agent, was calling a “house.”  Ruins were sometimes a term that was overly optimistic about some of them.  We also encountered some less than wonderful agents along the way, but…not all of them were slimy snakes-in-the-grass.  Some were some genuinely NICE people who were really trying to help us find a house that we could live with, whether it was one they were selling or not.

So, we’re now the proud owners of a small house in Laurel, Mississippi…a town I’d never visited before we looked at the house.  We’d always just driven THROUGH Laurel, never stopping except for a horrible experience at a Huddle House.  It was my first, and likely last, “dining” experience at a Huddle House.  (We never saw the waitress after she delivered an appetizer we’d ordered, nor got a second cup of coffee.  NOBODY in that place would even look at us, once they realized we were waving and wanting something!)

I like it, so far, and since it’s a permanent relocation…we better continue liking it.  Liking it doesn’t have anything to do with the problems we’ve encountered.  They also don’t have anything to do with the location.

It started with trouble finding an insurance company, a problem that plagues many in the South.  Insurance was high when we finally did, a problem caused by the age of the house, as well as the potential for wind damage from both hurricanes and tornadoes.  Next, it was a refrigerator that came with the house still containing food…and the plug had come out of the wall some time between our tour of the house and the closing.  The aroma was something that no one wants to smell, and it brought back not-so-fond memories of those first few weeks home to Greater New Orleans after Katrina to me.

The refrigerator situation was awful.  I couldn’t even walk into the kitchen, let alone think about how we were going to get it out.  We didn’t know a soul in Laurel, and this was a HUGE old side-by-side refrigerator.  (I’d seen smaller compact cars, I’m sure!)  How could we get rid of it?  The smell in the house was so bad there was no way to just work around it until we had help.

An angel appeared in the guise of a man who was stopping by to give someone else an estimate for some work on the house.  Out of the blue, I asked him if he would be interested in an old refrigerator.  He asked if he could see it.  I obligingly led him through the chaotic house (it was bought from an estate and came complete with a lot of junk) to the kitchen.  There it stood, in all of its burnt brown glory, in the center of a massive puddle of stinking goo with mold floating on top.  I couldn’t even enter the room, but he bravely marched up to the front of it.  I quaked in fear that he would ignore my rule that he was NOT to open the doors, but the man turned to me and said,

“How much?”

I couldn’t believe it…couldn’t he SMELL that stench?

I calmly responded with a smile, “If you come get it before 5 pm, you can have it.”

He nodded and headed out the door, telling me he’d be back with a truck and some help.  In about fifteen minutes, our angel had returned, with a truck and two men to help him.  I repeated the do not open the door rule, and they went trooping in after Greg to retrieve his prize.

Now the angel we’d made the bargain with repeated the don’t open the door rule to the two men with him, but there is one in every crowd, that guy who just can’t resist defying a “don’t” with an “I’m going to do it anyhow.”  There was one with him too, and the smell amplified so intensely that I had to evacuate the opposite side of the house for the outdoors to escape the stench.  It was so thick, I would have sworn it was colored green and could be cut with a knife!

There was some discussion as they wondered whether the compressor was bad, and I became afraid that they’d opt to NOT take the refrigerator.  I had $5 in my pocket, and I handed it to Greg, telling him to tell them the money was for their gas if they’d take it as-is and not bring it back.  They’d win, whether it worked or not, and I’d be rid of the foul smelling thing.  They hauled it out of the house, thinking they had a great bargain, and I was equally sure that I had a great bargain at getting rid of it without Greg & I killing ourselves with something too large and too heavy for us to handle.  (Not to mention the smell was sure to result in me being very sick.)  Problem solved, total cost of only five bucks, right?

No air conditioning was another problem, and we had the attic fan running and every window we could unstick open to help air out the smell.  The refrigerator was barely gone when the cable guy arrived to install our internet connection.  Poor guy had just eaten lunch, but he bravely entered where few utility men would dare to go while Greg was cleaning up the puddle of moldy ooze mess in the kitchen.  We gave him a model airplane and a talking fish for his agreeable nature.  (We had no need of either one!)  He was thrilled, and I was thrilled that we had one more thing accomplished with the house.

It was hot, we were tired, and the entire situation was overwhelming, so we opted to call it a day and head to our daughter’s house for a shower and rest.  We did that for a few more days before deciding that ready or not, we were going to have to start camping in the house.  The big thing was the window air conditioner…it was the end of the season, and the selection was less-than-wonderful at the local retailers.  We knew what size we needed and we knew we wanted an Energy Star model, but there were none to be had, resulting in me ordering it from Sears, with delivery in Hattiesburg.

Of course, that interrupted our day, but with the women heading to pick up the air conditioner, the men doing what men do…we managed.  Installation didn’t happen that day, but soon…it was in place, and the temperatures went from suffering sauna to tolerable cool.  With that addition, it was possible to stay the night in the house.  We could really get to work then, without the expense and time of commuting over two hours a day.  Paint is a first step, followed by trying to get things ready to actually move in.  Lots of cleaning–buying it as is saved us money, but meant a lot more work.

We had chosen a date to do the deed, but then…the Ladies of Fate looked down on us and cackled.

Hurricane Isaac was coming to call.  The trucks were being moved away from the coast, and we were running out of time.  The big move was postponed, with just a single load coming on a small trailer behind our Trail Blazer.  Everything else, including our mini van, was staying behind to weather Hurricane Isaac.

Now Isaac wasn’t a big storm, and Mississippi wasn’t it’s target for landfall, but we did live just outside of Pascagoula, where the storm dumped incredible amounts of rain.  That meant flooding, not only from storm surge itself, but from the rain that had no where to go.  We’re assuming it didn’t invade the storage unit, and we know it didn’t bother the mini van or the travel trailer–it only got about six inches deep there.  But still, there was a delay, and now we had to wait until the ground dried out enough to get a truck in to pull the travel trailer out without bogging down in muddy, saturated soil.

Another day was selected, reservations made, and away we went again.  Greg went down to pack up things and bring back some items with him.  He had the trailer again, hitched behind the Trail Blazer.  It took him longer than planned, leaving me stranded afoot in Laurel, with little in walking distance.  Finally, after three days, he was on his way home again, only to call me at about two in the morning.

“I’m broke down,” he said, giving me his approximate location.

I half heartedly hoped he was joking to get a rise out of me, but that wasn’t the case.  A sensor had apparently gone out, leaving the Trail Blazer running but refusing to accelerate beyond an idle.  He called AAA, and we discovered I had purchased the wrong plan…the plan without towing included.  Well, it had three miles of towing, but he was about forty miles from home…with a trailer hitched behind the vehicle.  Thankfully, someone responded eventually–AAA’s service was less-than-stellar in this case, which was much different than previous occasions we had dealt with them during a roadside emergency.  Three hours later, a tow truck arrived, and he was home before dawn.    Greg was hot, tired, and hungry–it had been an unexpectedly long night for him.  I wasn’t exactly thrilled either–it’s not like I could just sleep peacefully while knowing he was stranded in the middle of nowhere waiting for a tow truck!

With the trailer and SUV parked in the middle of the front yard (the only place the tow truck could deposit it) we tried to get some sleep.  The phone started ringing though, and as I was dealing with the calls, I also had dogs that wanted out.  Much to my surprise, it had begun drizzling.  That meant hopes for sleeping in a bit were dashed–the tarp over the trailer was not going to protect anything in a serious rain.  We couldn’t move the trailer into the carport by hand, and we had no running vehicle to use to do it either.  That meant unloading the boxes and stacking them in the car port.  We still have to deal with that stuff, and we have a truckload arriving in two days.

YAY, right?

We’re stranded without a functional vehicle, we need to find out which sensor did the dirty deed and get a new one, then install it.  We also have to be on the coast on Wednesday morning to finish the move.

Thank goodness for daughters, right?

She’s our designated taxi cab for Wednesday morning.  She’ll make the hour drive, come pick us up, then drive the two hours to the coast where we’ll get the truck and pick up the van, giving us transportation again so we can fix the SUV.  That’s the plan anyhow, but we have yet to see how that plan will work out in the end.  It seems that Murphy’s Laws are applying to each and every step we take during this move.

Back at the ranch…we’ve been working on yard and house, a bit at a time.  I’ve discovered that I can’t do a lot of things nearly as fast as I used to.  I’ve learned that I have to ask for help more often and not push myself the way I did when I was younger, stronger, and more agile.  I’ve remembered the joy of a hot tub of water laced with epsom salts too.  (It helps a lot with sore muscles and assorted aches & pains!)  The four steps up into the house have proven to be more than I was used to climbing a gazillion times a day, it seems.

We’re not done, not by a long ways, and we’re not moved in either.  We’re merely in transition, as they say.  We have a lot to do, and we run out of hours to do it in.  We have a lot going on, and a lot of problems to solve.

But that is life, isn’t it?


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