And the road goes on forever...

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Long 30 Days

Twenty two days late, Marc took off this morning, headed for Bend, OR and the first leg of moving more of our stuff. Moving takes a trailer and his flatbed resides on my mother’s property, albeit with bad tires. So Marc stripped the Dodge of its nearly new rubber and wheels and hopes they fit temporarily to haul everything back here. The family has decided to hold Christmas dinner until Friday since he doesn’t expect to get in until very late Christmas night. You can see the care package I sent off for everyone for their get-together! For the next thirty days and nights, it’s just me and the four cats….
We managed to wrap up the main floor insulation chores and empty the house of everything so it’s a clean slate for the drywall contractor who is due to start this week. I will hope to check on the house occasionally so I can take pictures but our weather will be worsening and I try and not drive when it gets too bad out. It’s just not fun and I have nowhere to be that badly, that it’s worth the stress. However, if Christmas is not stormy, I do plan to work at the shelter so I can help shorten the shift of the paid employee who has to come in to feed the animals and clean the cages.
On the domestic front I continue to vacillate on paint color although I was decisive in picking bathroom color, flooring and countertops. I had tended towards a greige for the main area walls when Marc’s comments about living “in a prison” sent me scurrying back to the store for more bland neutrals. Now I am leaning more towards the beige/taupe side with just the slightest hint of gray. Guess he’s not much of a gray fan. I’ve also been madly perusing pictures of window furnishings hoping to find just the right idea I can probably make myself. The large living room window is the primary problem as its span is 108 inches, featuring two vertically opening 36” windows and a center fixed glass. I hadn’t really wanted drapery but I can’t find any roller shades of that width without going to some outrageously priced custom piece. Plus, given that our view is so nice out that direction, I want nothing that is going to block that, yet we will need the privacy at night when the lights are on.
I’ve got lots of projects in front of me, a stack of paperbacks and puzzles, and one very lively little kitten for entertainment. I’ll be OK; just lonely. It’s Marc who continues on with no breaks, no rest, and just a bunch of tasks and work in front of him as he empties out our Yuma place and gets it up for sale and then hauls all the stuff back here, over 2200 winter-driving miles. Good luck, Baby! Don’t get sunburned! (Spirit has really taken to Jerry, adopted this fall from the shelter and surprisingly, for a male cat not related, he to her. When they're ready for a nap, this is often the way I find them.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Construction progress has remained at a standstill during Marc’s absence. He is under the time gun trying to get the electrical rough inspection done so he can insulate the walls before leaving for the west. He hopes to make Bend in time for Christmas with my mother and son and daughter in law. The best bid on the drywall was from a contractor who has problems showing up or responding, but Marc is hopeful the guy can get that accomplished while he is gone. I am of a different opinion—if the guy isn’t responding now, I don’t hold out hopes that he isn’t going to further drag his feet and substantially delay us at a crucial point. I would hire another contractor but the other bid we got was essentially double at over eight grand!
With Marc gone so much, it gives me plenty of time to volunteer at the shelter. Adoptions have been slow on the cat side so there are still many to take care of and love up. And of course, I am still fostering little Spirit who is growing like a weed and changing day by day in what she can accomplish and where she can go. She plays rough house with Munchkin, seems to like to snuggle up to Jerry, and steers clear of Rocket since he doesn’t tolerate her in the least. In between all that, I am still shopping for the house, rethinking paint colors, and also working on some jewelry stuff which I donate to the shelter for them to sell at their fund-raising events.
Our weather has moderated some although we still have about six to eight inches of snow on the ground. A warming trend this weekend may end up melting off much of it which wouldn’t break our hearts. I find I am tolerating the cold much better this winter than I was able to last year being acclimated to the desert. It’s amazing for me to think about the fact that I have been in this area for 15 months and haven’t been farther than 80 miles from home but I haven’t really minded. Travel has become very stressful for me and I’m perfectly content being a homebody. I guess I spent so many years and decades being unsettled going hither and yon, that there is something now attractive about being in one place and building a life around that. Plus, it’s easy to be here because I like it and truly feel at home. 

I am however dreading gearing up for the long month of being by myself while Marc is gone and spending Christmas alone. With Spirit getting older she now can occupy and feed herself a little better so my constant oversight is not as necessary, which at least allows me some time to peruse my crafts and projects. There is no reason to return her to the shelter at this point just to endure life in a cage so until she becomes old enough to be spayed, she can’t be adopted out. We are still hopeful to find a good home for her but I’d be lying if I said it isn’t going to break our hearts to give her up.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

We’re planning a quiet holiday with lots of turkey and lots of kitty love! I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time hand-raising this little girl we’ve named Spirit. She gets livelier by the day and thus more demanding as well. She has definitely wormed her way into our hearts but we keep telling ourselves four cats would just be way too many. We are desperately seeking her a home, not wanting to see her go back to the shelter for life in a cage. Being hand raised, she is very imprinted on people so should make an excellent cat for someone.
Marc has about completed the wiring and will hope to get much of the main floor insulation hung through this weekend. We have a thing about never having enough outlets in the kitchen particularly, so as can be seen in the picture, Marc made sure our new kitchen should not suffer that defect! The power company now has all inspections and permits issued which will allow them to install power. Since Marc has two new projects about to break ground however, he will not make his December 1 deadline to head west. In fact, he will need to be in North Dakota all next week more than likely.
I am stepping up to spend even more time helping out at the shelter since they are down two cleaning people and short staffed. Heavy snow prevented me from getting in my first day yesterday but I should be able to get there today to clean all the cat cages in the rooms I normally work in socializing the cats. I will do this up to three times a week for as long as it is necessary, weather permitting. Their needs are great and I have the time; the shelter is over capacity with cats now numbering 77, around 30-40 of which must be kittens of various ages. That’s another reason for us to find Spirit a home soon; she could very well be lost in the shuffle of so many other black kittens needing homes.
We hope your holiday is filled with thankfulness and the camaraderie of those you love the most. I sure miss my family!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Preserving Life

Marc’s been working hard as ever only now combating extremely cold temps and a little snow. We passed our rough plumbing and temporary electrical box inspection this morning so he is now free to move ahead with the rough electrical. He has the first layer of insulation done in the basement, with a like-layer yet to go. I have thrown in the towel on being able to help him due to the extreme cold, which I just can’t tolerate. I lose all feeling in my hands and feet and get searing headaches when the cold reaches my ears.

I’ve been kept really busy with fund-raising events and meetings for the shelter however, including one yesterday where we did a “Fill the truck” donation drive at Waupaca’s largest grocery store. We asked patrons to purchase us items off a wish list as they shopped and the response was very generous. With my background in sales, it was easy for me to develop a spiel and forcefulness which at least required people to take my proffered handout list before they got around me! It was gratifying to see the ones who came back out, loaded down with the largest bags of dog or cat food, and all manner of everything else the shelter uses on a daily basis, like soaps, bleach, pet treats, and paper towels. I have another function this coming Saturday, a craft sale to which I’ve contributed about fourteen pair of my handmade earrings, which I will man during the afternoon shift.

The most exciting event though happened this past Thursday as I was working my normal day with the cats at the shelter. Someone said they found a tiny kitten abandoned in a barn so brought it in. In actuality, even though the people said they searched for the mother, I think the mother was in the middle of moving her litter and was just hiding. The kitten was in great shape and hadn’t frozen the previous night or that morning which it would have if abandoned. But the damage was done so the shelter had to deal with it. Due to so many functions and things happening at the shelter, there really wasn’t anyone available to take the kitten and she was so young and so tiny she required bottle feeding. Well, not even bottle feeding, but syringe feeding!  
So by default I inherited a new baby and am relearning the preciousness of life and just how fragile it can be. We’ve named her Spirit due to her fighting spunkiness and I have a pretty good feeling she will make it. We guesstimate her age at between two and three weeks; her eyes haven’t been opened all that long and are still blue. She herself is black and looks like a miniature bear cub and is an engaging little dear. She’s already making great strides; she recognizes me as Mommy and comes wobbling across the room at the sound of my voice. I will likely foster her for at least a month and I’m sure it will be difficult to give her up knowing she will then be caged and alone much of the time. For now she curls into the palm of my hand or against the crook of my neck to fall asleep after she’s been fed, which seems to be every two hours. Oh, yes: there are the nighttime feedings as well. Just like being a mother again….

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fall is History

Yeah, I know the calendar doesn't say so but there’s nothing like an end of October snowfall to put an end to fall and move us into a premature winter. What leaves had clung to the branches seemed to fall willingly once the snow coated everything very early in the morning of Halloween and it’s a rare tree now that sports any remnants trying to hang on. Fortunately, the ground isn’t quite cold enough yet so our snowfall melted quickly and never did stick to the highways.

In amongst the cold and brief snow, our septic got installed, inspected and covered over in less than a week. While it was open it resembled the Lazy River in its meandering pathway, which was done way differently than what we are used to. There is still some final grading to be done around the house by the excavator once the ground settles. 
Marc’s helper Jason lent his hand one day to gain further progress on the roof and Marc was finally able to finish that up last evening. His knees and ankles are screaming from the pain of working at such an angle for so long. I’m not sure the labor savings was worth the toll on his body. He’s paying the price and is pretty stove up now.
Progress continues on the plumbing. Now that the time has changed it will become much more difficult for Marc to go over after work since it will be dark by the time he gets there. He purchased a blast propane heater to dampen the chill but it’s only a matter of time until it won’t be able to keep up so as we move into winter proper, working on a house with no heat will become problematic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Into the Tedium

There’s just something about walking through masses of fall leaves, with blustery winds making them dance around your feet that evokes the total feel of the season. Our old oak out front went from green to brown within the space of a week and soon will face the sky with barren and knarled old arms. I got the last of the apples picked from our front tree; likely around 40 pounds of them and peeled and sliced them all into freezer bags. I must now have about 15 pounds of processed apples to use this winter; patiently waiting their turn to be made in apple crisps to be paired with morning coffee. Ah, delicious! 

We’re into the tedious details on the house; things that don’t necessarily show a lot of progress but which must be completed. Marc continues to go out after he finishes his job and work on the house each night until around 8-8:30 p.m. He comes in and has a late, cold dinner then goes to bed, to wake up at 4:30 the next morning and do it all again. I helped him install the energy heel, which required individually cut pieces of Styrofoam to be stapled to the roof trusses. This surrounds the entire interior perimeter the length of the Styrofoam; next up will be the batt and blown in insulation. I think he is aiming for R44 on the ceiling through this process. He is also working on all the backing for all the shelving throughout the house, for all closets and the kitchen shelving. We’ll also install grab bars in the bathroom and shower figuring at some point someone may need them and it’s better to be prepared than to have to retrofit since this is our intended forever home. The kitchen required that he do a mock-up of where the countertop will sit so we could better visualize how high to place the open shelving.
We were very unhappy with the 4x4 posts used on the front porch so Marc went out and bought all new 6x6 to replace them with and has been slowly working on rectifying using a proper cut-in fashion rather than just shoving them in and nailing them as the Blenker carpenters had done at first. Those blue boxes seen on the FL are pressure tanks which will go in the basement for our well water. Right now the water pressure tank and pump are located in the shop so can’t be used in winter so that all needs re-doing. Cha-ching.

Fortunately one of the young Blenker workers has agreed to do a little moonlighting so was available to help Marc build the well for the basement window. Since it sits below grade it was necessary to fabricate a well to hold back the backfill when it’s completed. As an added bonus to this, he’s decided to make some type of cat enclosure using this space as a playground for the kitties that can be accessed through a pet door out the window. Complete backfill from the excavator should occur sometime this week and the septic guy should get going on installing that late this week or next week before ground freeze.
Weather wise we’re having a late fall mixed bag but for the most part it hasn’t been terribly rainy; just cold. Very occasionally though we end up with a sunny warmer day (60) and I took the last occasion to get Rocket out to the park on what could be his last visit there. I figure we’ll be moving in the middle of winter before he is able to enjoy it after spring thaw. He gets very excited to hear he is going “to the park” for his short ride on my lap in the car.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Is This OSHA Compliant?

No, I didn’t think so either! What it was though, was a free and effective way for Marc to have a scaffold so he could start on the roofing this past week.
We’re going like a house afire trying to get as far along as we can while we are enjoying relatively good, albeit cold, weather here. Marc took Monday and Friday off and roofing has been the primary task. 

Yesterday the excavator was out to install the footings for the front porch and today Blenker’s guys will be out to mount the porch and its trusses and sheeting to the house so Marc hopes to be able to finish all the roofing by Sunday evening. It helped that he now has the use of Blenker’s lift which I’ve been operating to lift him to work off of.
Yeah, that’s my new title alright: heavy equipment operator. What a woman won’t do for a good man! What’s next?