The Long Drive

The six days I spent in Phoenix ranks as the most physically and mentally exhausting period of my life. At the end I got to fly home, First Class. My husband preceded my arrival by four days and was now faced with a thirty plus hour drive home, pulling a trailer. So I got off easy. By the time I left for the airport at 4:30, it was obvious my husband was in no shape to start the drive.

Instead, he parked the car and trailer back on the street and finished cleaning up a few things around the house. After eating, he took a hot bath and crawled into bed around 8:30 pm. He woke up early the next morning and was on the road by 4:30 am. I was able to track his progress via his iPhone. Gotta love technology. I wanted to make the drive with him, but we also wanted to minimize the amount of time we needed to board Ripley. Given how much his departure ended up getting delayed, we made the right choice.

I ran by our new house Tuesday morning, before picking up Ripley from boarding. As usual, he was a little clingy and needy. So other than a few essential tasks (taking my mom to her orthopedic appointment and helping our friend get his Xterra off our patio to make room for my husband’s Xterra) I spent most of the day being a playmate and nap pad for our little fur baby.

My husband intended to make at least one overnight stop on his journey. But, it turns out that sitting and driving is a lot more restful than what he was doing for the previous ten days, so he never really felt tired enough to stop. He pulled in just after noon today, approximately 31 1/2 hours after starting. Now we get to unload and find somewhere to put all this stuff.

The Final Push

Yesterday morning we had cleaning people scheduled to come to our house at 8:00 am. We also had a plumber scheduled to arrive between 8:00 and 10:00. Why? Because we discovered on Saturday that we had a small leak in one of the pipes connected to our water softener. We also had an ongoing issue with a small leak in our kitchen sink, which my husband was originally going to fix, but he ran out of time.

It turned out to be a good thing that we called a plumber, because the small leak in our sink was actually due to a crack in the disposal and it needed to be completely replaced. He also replaced large sections of pipe going into and out of our water softener. Apparently the plumber that installed it did an shit job. So, $800 later, we were leak free. Fortunately the plumber arrived just as the cleaning crew finished, so they didn’t have to deal with the water being shut off.

Next up was the realtor and the photographer. We had staged everything that was going in the trailer in our garage, so the inside of the house was clear for the cleaners and the photographer. Loading the trailer took way longer than expected, which was the theme for the week. I ran a car load of stuff to our storage locker when it became apparent that not everything was going to fit.

I am not exaggerating when I say that we finished loading and locked the trailer about an hour before my cab to the airport was scheduled to arrive. I straightened up what was left in the garage and hopped into the shower. My cab showed up ten minutes after I got dressed. Talk about cutting it close.

Front Row at the Shit Show

It wasn’t bad enough that we had tickets to the shit show, we were seated in the poncho section. Everything seemed to be conspiring against us. First, my flight to Phoenix Tuesday night was late. Not because of an issue with Delta, but because the Phoenix airport had a runway shut down due to construction, so they were delaying inbound flights. When I finally arrived at the airport just after 11:00pm, it was a total zoo. My husband was waiting in the cell phone lot and he said people were trolling for spaces.

I spent Wednesday packing while my husband patched and painted walls. Thursday afternoon we went to pick up the rental trailer. Then we headed to a home improvement store to pick up some pick sheets of styrofoam insulation that I would be using to protect the paintings. We took the only through road to get there and the traffic was horrific. We soon found out why, the road was completely shut down about two miles from our destination. No warning, no signs, just flares and a couple of cops standing there and not bothering to direct the chaos as vehicles lunged to the left or right.

We caught a break on Friday, as the road resurfacing for our condo complex that had been scheduled for that day got postponed until March. It saved us because our alternate plan to park the trailer in the garage Thursday night turned out to be impossible as the trailer was roughly an inch too tall to clear the garage door. Early Friday morning there were a couple of dumpster divers in a broken down truck parked in our lot most of the morning. After they left we parked the trailer and loaded the less valuable/fragile items.

The original plan was for my husband to leave Friday morning. We quickly realized that wasn’t going to give us enough time, so we delayed it to Saturday and then Sunday. Everything took longer than we thought. I had to pack 25 paintings and each one took at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, my husband ended up having to paint the entire garage because the touch-ups were glaringly obvious, giving the walls the look of a bad rash.

Our meals consisted entirely of food delivered from one of two nearby pizza/Italian restaurants, with the exception of one nice dinner at our favorite fish place on Thursday. By this morning, it became apparent that we would not be able to get the trailer loaded and my husband on the road today. I had a quick dinner with a friend and brought him back a sandwich to eat while I packed the last couple of paintings. Tomorrow I fly home. Not sure how we’re going to get this finished.

The Cat is Suspicious

I had to take Ripley in for boarding yesterday morning. This was significant in that it’s the first time I had to put him in his carrier by myself. Normally, our method involves my husband picking up Ripley while I hold the carrier and we both sort of shove him into it. Ripley does not like going into his carrier, because he’s smart enough to realize it means a car trip either to boarding or getting his nails trimmed.

I tried to be clever about the whole thing by taking his carrier out of the corner a few days in advance and moving it around, thinking that would desensitize him. My final step was to put it in the bathroom. I was hoping to shut him in there, thus minimizing his hiding spots. My deepest fear was that he would crawl under the center of the bed and refuse to come out. So I shut the bedroom door first.

That put him on alert immediately. Then I shut the doors to our TV room. Now he knew something was up and no treat would lure him into the bathroom. At least I had limited his movement to the hall and bathroom, thus eliminating any serious opportunities to hide. I donned a pair of leather gloves and wrapped him in a towel. My first attempt was unsuccessful, but at least there was no blood.

I managed to get him in on the second try. Once he was in there and I had shut the door, he hunkered down with a look of resignation. It made me feel incredibly guilty. I’m so sorry buddy, but I had to get you to boarding. The rest of day flew by, as I had a landscaping meeting at our new house at noon and then a bunch more stuff to get done before driving to the airport at 5:00. As I was backing out of the drive, I got a text from Delta that my flight was delayed 20 minutes. Deja Vu.

All the Single Ladies

My husband flew to Phoenix Friday night and left me alone with the cat. Since Ripley is a boy, I guess the title should really be all the single lady, but that sounds pretty stupid, so I’m going to pretend to be plural. Unfortunately, my husband’s flight was delayed and he ended up arriving several hours late. Not a very auspicious start to the trip.

His first day in town got somewhat derailed, as he had to deal with getting the nine heavy hardwood doors out of our storage locker. These doors were salvaged from my dad’s house when it was torn down a few years ago. We intended to use them in the house we intended to build in Phoenix. But you know what they say about intentions…

Since none of that happened, we needed to get them out of storage. I did a number of rounds with a potential buyer on pricing and even contacted a couple of charities, trying to arrange a pick-up, to no avail. I finally got it worked out, but spent a chunk of Saturday texting back and forth with both my husband and the buyer. It was not how my husband wanted to spend his first full day in Phoenix.

Meanwhile, I was sorting out an issue with Amazon on some cat food I received a few days earlier. I made the mistake of not checking it as soon as it arrived and it turned out that Amazon sent the wrong kind for two cases I had ordered and needed for Ripley’s upcoming boarding stay. I sorted it out with Amazon via chat and they sent the correct kind, with one arriving Saturday and one today.

Just in the nick of time, as I have to bring him in for boarding tomorrow morning. I spent yesterday and today cleaning and doing laundry. We had some wicked sleet this morning, so I was grateful not to have to leave the house after I returned home from working out. Tomorrow’s going to be a little crazy.

Picking up the Pace

Work on our new house is finally starting to pick up some serious momentum. The trim guys breezed through and did most of the windows and all of the exterior doors in a few days. The tile guys started last week and have been hard at it. We received 14,000 pounds of tile, about half of the total needed. Yes, we are doing the entire main house in tile. The tile guys are all Russian and I’m starting to think they get paid in vodka and cigarettes. On the plus side, they were working on Saturday. These guys do not mess around.

After a prolonged absence, the metal guy doing our soffit and fascia work made a return appearance this week. He’s a real character, but he does beautiful work. After getting 80-90% of it done in mid January, he disappeared for several weeks, leaving his scaffolding in place and blocking off our dining room exterior door. It was good to see him finally come back and finish up. The scaffolding is now gone.

Also onsite this week were the spray foam guys, insulating the workshop. My husband got a front row seat to all of the bustle on Monday, as he waited hours for a technician to run a DSL internet connection to the house, which we need for the security system as well as to get our solar system online. It was a total shitshow of course, with the first guy being delayed and then another guy arriving instead, much later than promised. But they got it done just before dark.

We are now generating power from our solar panels! 156 kWh so far, when we checked it yesterday. That earns us a whopping $12.48 from the power company, in addition to providing the power currently being used for construction. At least the house is starting to make some money instead of just being a giant black hole. Less than four months to the finish line.

Extra Heavy Special Delivery

I made kind of a crazy purchase for the new house. It was delivered last Friday via freight. The item in question is a ginormous Epson photo printer that can produce images up to 24″ wide and (get this) 44′ long. No, you didn’t read that wrong, I said 44 FEET. Needless to say, this thing is huge. Of course, like all things purchased online, I didn’t realize just how huge, despite reading the dimensions.

It was delivered via freight and when the guy started moving the pallet up the driveway, I nearly shit myself. The shipping weight is 330 pounds. The actual printer is 223. The instructions specify 4 people to lift it. Of course we didn’t have 4 people, just me and my husband. He uncrated it and put the stand together. It quickly became obvious that we would have to lift it from the pallet directly on to the stand, which fortunately had wheels.

My husband built a ramp over the stairs from our garage to our house and we managed to set it on the stand. All I can say is that it’s a good thing I lift weights regularly. We cleared out space in our sunroom for the monster and let it sit overnight to get up to room temperature. On Saturday my husband set it up and was able to start printing.

Oh, there were a few hiccups, but all things considered, it went pretty smoothly. We made a couple of test prints and they were gorgeous. We even found some old photo paper to use. The only bummer was when I went to order ink cartridges and nearly shit myself again. The cost for one set (11 colors) was nearly 60% of the cost of the printer. The printer comes with a set, but they are 1/3 the quantity of normal ones and the light light black was only half of that. After a couple of large test prints it was already reading low.

The beast is going to occupy an entire wall of the walk-in closet in my new photo studio. We added an outlet and internet connection to that wall to accommodate it and the closet shelving will be designed around it. Now I just have to figure out a way to pay for all that ink.

Dead Things, Part Two

I believe I mentioned creating quite a few images of my snow covered dead hostas in late December. What I neglected to mention is that I did this over two days, using all three of my DSLR cameras, each with a different lens.  My first post featured images captured with my 5DMIV paired with the Canon 50mm f/1.2.

Today’s images are from my 5DSR with the Lensbaby Velvet 56. This is what happens when you have way too much gear. Having a lot of expensive equipment doesn’t guarantee good images, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Backyard photography means no schlepping it around.

So that’s a big win-win in my opinion. In case you’re wondering, the third camera/lens combo was my 7DMII with the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro. I’ll share some of those images in the not too distant future.

Meanwhile, don’t squint or adjust your monitor, these are all pretty blurry. I thought I was trying to focus on something, but maybe not. Doesn’t really matter, I like them anyway.

When Did We Get a Lap Cat?

Our resident furball continues to surprise me. Ripley started taking naps on my lap in late December, something he hadn’t done since he was a kitten. He would jump from his window seat, cross my husband’s legs and plop down in my lap for anywhere from fifteen minutes to two plus hours, often multiple times a day.

Occasionally he would stop to sniff at my husband, as if considering him as a nap host, but he always ended up on me. Which was totally cute and adorable until my feet and legs start to go numb. Then, last week, Ripley switched his allegiance. It started with him napping on my husband when I was out of the house Wednesday morning.

By Friday it was clear I had been replaced as the favored napping lap. He’s only snoozed on me a couple of times for short periods since then. Compare that to last Tuesday, when he took no less than four naps on me in one day, each an hour or longer. I have to admit, I’m a little heartbroken. I wouldn’t mind him alternating, as it’s impossible to do much of anything with 14 pounds of fur in your lap.

But I am no longer the chosen one. Even today, when he was on the outs with both of us because we had to put him in his carrier and take him for a nail trim, he still ended up sleeping in my husband’s lap for nearly an hour. I got nothing. Hopefully he’ll come back around.

So Very, Very VIP

I attended a VIP event at the Arboretum last night with my mom. The event was a preview for a sculpture exhibit/sale that’s going on in conjunction with their spring flower show. I was invited by our conservatory builder, who has constructed a small, traditional style conservatory as part of the show. The event was a snore, but my mom had a great time.

This was largely due to the two glasses of wine she consumed in just over an hour. Sort of a repeat of her birthday. My mom is pretty hilarious dead sober and a little alcohol just puts her over the top. The event included some boring speeches about the featured sculptor (who’s been dead for 15 years, by the way), during which we hid out in an adjacent gallery and cadged appetizers from the servers.

I wanted to check out the spring flower show and the conservatory, so this was a great way to get that done without investing a lot of time. My mom’s hilarious flirting with the waitstaff was just a bonus. The flower show was a disappointment, but at least now I know it’s not worth going back to photograph. Consider the evening a win-win.