HOLY COW!

Well, I FINALLY found out what all the phone calls, whispers, texts, and emails were about.  Apparently, we are moving! OK, don’t panic.  We aren’t moving today, but probably in about 7-8 months.  And we aren’t dropping off the face of the earth.

Here’s what I learned.  The Bean has been worried that, without Mr. Bean living with her in the humongous 3-story + basement and separate carriage house with living quarters over the three-car garage with workspace, she would fall down the basement and languish, due to her medical issues, or potentially be unable to get up the steep stairs to bed, or even get to the grocery or the doctor.  The last time she got sick, she had to drive herself, and even in her very iffy condition was dimly aware that she should NOT be behind the wheel of a car.  She needed to have someone near her who could drop everything (if need be) and come to her rescue.

Dearest young Daughter who lives closest is a single mom of two with a full time job.  Older Daughter, the family Princess, has three girls, a newish marriage, a full time job, and lives in South Carolina.  Reliable Son and Dear DIL (our Auntie Glenda) live on the West Coast, but because of their work and lifestyle, they could drop everything and come to Bean’s aid.  The solution seemed to be for Bean to move there. So Bean began looking at houses and found one that’s perfect for her in Everett, WA, less than a half hour from Son, Auntie Glenda, Cousin Pip, and Cousin Amalynn.  An offer, a counter-offer, and finally agreement.  Then on to closing … almost.

The inspection revealed many unfinished aspects of a totally remodeled home: plug still in drain to dishwasher so flooded floor, leaks in a couple of spots, improper corrugated drain pipes, missing bushings, no seismic straps on the water heater, a missing strike plate, improperly laid vinyl plank flooring in two bathrooms, a window that won’t lock, and so on.  Nearly all were things that a diligent contractor should have ensured were finished before the place was listed, much less nearly two months after a previous offer that supposedly fell through due to financing. They were supposed to close Wednesday but that got pushed to Friday because they are still fixing all the stuff that should have been done months ago.  And on Friday, they were originally supposed to close on another property they own in Richmond, VA, but that got pushed to… somewhere, hopefully just next week.  Still trying to sort that out, apparently.  The buyer’s attorney has fallen down on the job in that case.  So two closings were to take place, and everything got messed up. The Bean keeps sighing.  It’s not pretty.  She is rather stressed.

So now we know, and like wow!  All of us dollies, especially Smidge, are freaked out.  Everyone wants to know whether they are going to get come too, if so, how they are getting from the East Coast to the West Coast, and how will their lives change.  We did some research, and it’s 2, 891 miles.  That’s a long, loo-oo-ong trip.  And Bean says not everyone can go in the car.  She did say that probably the Rurukos, Smidge, and I would come with her, however.  The old cat will be going first class on a non-stop airplane flight, courtesy of Mr. Bean.  Of course he has to first get her to the airport, which for a non-stop flight is three hours away.  She’s a VERY vocal cat on car rides, though extremely quiet in the house.  Bet he drives really fast!  Glad I won’t be there to hear her.  Oh, but then we have to pick her up from the airport in Seattle and bring her back to the new home…uh, Smidge and I think maybe we’ll just stay at the house that day. Yikes.

Meanwhile, Bean is hustling like nobody’s business to organize, clean, and purge the BIG HOUSE to ready it for market (yes, another house to sell) to the first buyer with handy cash and not too many contingencies.  She’s hustling us too, saying all of us have to start cleaning up our stuff and packing up. Like right now, preferably yesterday if not sooner.

It’s good to get a jump on things since it may take us till next July to even get ready to leave.

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What in the world…

You know, sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s really going on in my house.  I keep hearing rumors, but nobody has told me a thing.  I know that it’s only a couple of weeks until Thanksgiving, and then Bean and Smidge will head off to Arkansas to carve, this time with Bean’s daughter, aka Auntie Sara.  She has carved before, so it’s not her first rodeo.  And, they will swoop by the Ft. Smith, AR airport on their way up the mountain to pick up Auntie Glenda.  And….drum roll please, once there, meet up with Smidge’s bestie, Voir de Wizzy and the famous Wiz and Mr. Wiz.  Oh the rapture.  Wonder if I can sneak into the travel case with Smidge.  I just might.

But something else is going on, and I just can’t figure it out.  I keep hearing the bong of the Bean’s cell indicating an email or a text, and it’s virtually non-stop.  The phone keeps ringing too.  It’s been like this all day since Saturday.  What in the world is going on?  I know Hitty Club is here on Monday, and Bean is prepping for her presentation at Williamsburg Doll Club next Thursday, but this can’t be either of these.  It’s too much emailing and texting and phoning to be that.  Sigh.

I imagine Bean will get around to telling me eventually, since I’m basically the family reporter, and of all the Beans and dollies in the house, I’m the one who knows the news and makes sure it’s printed.  I can’t share with you if she won’t share with me.  But I’m sure she’ll share. At least I hope she will.  I can’t tell you until I know, and I don’t know. Frankly, I’m about to die of curiosity.  Curiosity killed the cat, you know.

Oh well, death is inevitable, right?  I’m going to keep trying to figure it out and hope I live through the curiosity phase.  Besides, I’m not a cat.

If anyone else knows, I hope they will whisper the secret in my ear.

Remembering through the veil…

The veil thins at the turning of the wheel, like seasons moving into a new year of dark and cold that will, with time and patience and faith, turn back to light and warmth once more.  The Bean appreciates this evening, called All Saints Eve or All Hallows Eve.  Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, she thinks of Halloween as a time for internal meditation and communication.

The origins of Halloween are said to have come from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.  Now, folks lite jack-o-lanterns and hand out treats to fend off the onslaught of young visitors, who costume themselves each year on Halloween, posing as goblins and ghosties and all manner of costumed folk as they go house-to-house down the street.

The Bean’s father died 46 years ago, and she misses him every single day.  Tradition says that, on this day, the veil between the physical world and the spiritual world are thinnest, so the living might communicate with those who passed before, but only if they are receptive.  Every year, she sits alone with her father’s memory, perhaps his photo, before a single lit candle, and thinks about him.  She tells him about the year that has passed, about herself (triumphs, failures, and revelations), about his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and about her hopes for the coming year.  No, she does not expect him to walk full blown into her sacred space: it’s simply a way and a day for her to set aside time to remember him. It’s not spooky or some sort of voodoo or anything else, though she says that her time spent in this meditative manner remembering him is a magical time for her. She says that what is remembered lives on. Her heart remembers well.

And by the way, we just happen to have moved a few years ago and live directly across the street from All Saints School.  Bean says that must be some meaning in that.

Sister from another mother & Besties

This week, my Hooman Bean and her Bestie managed to finally have an evening together after months of trying, and Bean reported they had a wonderful time beside an outdoor fire, watching stars and searching the sky for meteors, the Orionids.  Bestie is young enough to have been my Bean’s daughter or even a granddaughter, yet they somehow bonded like sisters over 10 years ago and remain steadfast friends.

This just reminds me of how friendships can be every bit as strong as true sisterhood.  Blood is not always thicker – sometimes it’s the tight bond of friendship that brings two people together as if they were family.

My cousin Smidge, who also lives with us, has a Bestie who lives far away in Minnesota.  My other cousin Pip, who lives in Washington state, has a Bestie here in Virginia who happens to be my other cousin, Kestrel.  The big dollies who live here with us seem to have some sort of group friendship thing going – they are always together having fun.  Nobody ever pushes me away, but I don’t have a Bestie and I wish I did.  Besties seem to have a very special relationship.

If you have a Bestie, be sure you tell him – or her – so.  It’s the friendly thing to do.

Inauguration

Disclaimer: the bathroom is basically finished and usable, but there are a few minor issues yet to be done there, and Bean’s office still boasts a massive ceiling hole and a missing wall panel, not to mention painting.  Worker back today to begin filling in the ceiling.

The inauguration occurred on October 19 when our first guest, UFDC’s 1st Vice President, spent the night and utilized our new bathroom.  She reported this morning that it all works as it should.  That’s good. Bean wishes all the work was completed so she could stop vacuuming up the dust and sweeping up the cement that still drops from the open ceiling on the unsuspecting passer-by.  Yesterday, she found a small chunk of ceramic baseboard tile in the middle of the kitchen that hadn’t been there before.  The impressive rain of debris continues.

Yesterday, the Bean attended her UFDC Williamsburg Doll Club’s 30th anniversary celebration.  They had lunch at Opus 9 followed by a short meeting at the President’s home, had cake, and received special souvenir gifts.  They were presented with a fabulous watch-case necklace containing a remarkable tiny doll, designed and executed by the specially talented Sandra Wright Justice and a darling paper doll, also created by SWJ.  Even the boxes containing the pendants were special, topped with a hand-done calligraphy label (reproduced for all) and a small flower containing a pearl, which is the traditional 30th anniversary gift.  It was, apparently, quite a special event.

Bean says, doll people are the BEST people.

As a doll myself, I certainly like to think so.

 

PLUMBING

This week, it was all about plumbing.  Smidge, out of desperation, installed her own potty in her kitchen.  Yup, she was out of room anywhere else.  She does, after all, have to cram in kitchen, bedroom, dining, and clinic space into one small boxed area.

On the other hand, I have to travel all the way from my breadbox to her place or else use the Hitty’s facilities.  A doll’s life is not easy.

But the hooman Beans will have a new bathroom any second…ok, any day.  The demo is finished, the plumbing repairs complete, a new subfloor with tile laid in the bathroom, and only grout to go.  Oh, that and the pesky necessary appliances, toilet and vanity.

Bathrooms, a necessity of modern, civilized life.  They are everywhere: in groceries, malls, airports, etc.  Even on some street corners.  Bean told me about the booth she saw on a street corner in Seattle.  You put in your money, go into the booth, and do your business.  The pay factor keeps out the homeless and vandals, and helps to keep it clean. Pretty neat, if a bit public, and a definite upgrade from those porta-potty things.

Homes used to have outhouses (as Bean’s grandma did till Bean was 12), then indoor water closets.  A home with a bath became typical, and then two baths, and now a master with two vanities with sinks, separate spa tub, glass 2-person shower, and that important water closet is typical. We just want a basic bathroom with toilet, not too much to ask.

This house in which we live was built in 1915, and we think it’s undergone a number of upgrades since it was built, though we suspect indoor plumbing was always a feature since it’s located within the original planned neighborhood in our city and listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.  It was meant for the well-to-do, though it’s surrounded now by less than stellar communities, a little island unto itself.  We know that the first and third floor baths were added, and we believe the second floor baths may have been separated or added-to at some point to turn them from one bath to two.  Only one has a shower, somewhat newer, and the other a relic of a tub, not even fancy enough to boast claw feet, and currently with faucets that don’t work.  We are excited to know that, soon, both second-floor bathrooms will have mostly useable facilities once again.

This means we can have company who will be comfortable.  Very good stuff.

Under Construction

And don’t you just know, when it rains it … well, it’s not exactly raining, but we are flush with major destruction and reconstruction, and things are falling from above, some of it watery, inside the house.

It started in July when the ceiling of the Bean’s first floor office began to drip ominously.  Personally, I do not work well with water torture, but she just put a bucket under it and called the plumbers.  They said it would be a day and a half before they could get here, so she put a giant tub under it, which turned out to be smart.  The upshot was that the toilet had crapped out (get it? – Thomas Crapper, miss identified inventor of toilet). [Bean said no more stupid jokes.  Sorry.] Worse the cast iron beneath it had to be removed as it was literally crumbling, which would mean the floor would be ruined in the process, and the new ADA complaint commode would not fit beneath the counter, so the vanity would have to be changed out, or at least it’s counter top, so…remodel. We waved goodbye to the old throne as it exited the building.

Waiting, waiting, waiting… everyone is either too busy or dropped the ball or something.  Did I mention this began like any other July 11 day?  Fast forward to October, everyone back on track, and finally the construction person come and spent two days ripping out the vanity and the floor, which was put in back in the day when tile floors were set in inches of concrete.  Yup, real concrete. Seriously thick and heavy concrete.  He broke it up, dug it out, bagged it all in industrial strength plastic bags, and tossed it out the second floor window.  No stray cats were harmed in the process.  Was supposed to be a one-day job that became two. He returned to cut out the 1st floor ceiling and remove a wall panel for access to waste stack. And when the ceiling went, the concrete pebbles that were resting comfortably and fully contained on the upside underneath portion thereof then rained down upon us like a plague.  Warning: do not stomp when walking in this zone or wear a hard hat and steel-toed boots.

Once the bath had been totally gutted except for the free-standing shower that free standing monument to what was (it’s tiled inside and out and raised up off the non-existent floor), plumbers came on board.  They set about attempting to pull out rotten cast iron and replace it with PVC.  And then two separate leaks showed up, so Bean was glad they were around.  The tide will be stemmed.  Now plumbing has gone from a one-day job to two, and a very messy one at that.  Every time they touch anything, more concrete pebbles rain down along with drip-drip-drip from the leaks.  But when they are finished, today, we will have new PVC, no leaks, and we will be ready for the return of a bathroom floor.

One thing of note. When you remove floor tile plus the inches of concrete beneath it, the floor drops.  Significantly.  Bean and Mr. Bean have had to use a step-stool to enter the shower which, instead of being six inches off the floor is now more like 10″ off the floor, but only when there’s a slab of plywood down.  Otherwise, they’d have to dance across the floor joists and pole fault to get in.

Next week we expect the construction dude to sister on some new taller joists and install a new subfloor followed hotly by some tile guys to lay down a new floor and repair the base tile which was damaged.  We also lost the ceramic toothbrush holder on the wall.  RIP old holder – we miss you. We hope to see a replacement arrive with the tile guy next week.  Once tiling is done, the plumbers come back to install a new vanity, countertop, sink, and commode.  O frabjous day!

But those are merely the plans, not necessarily the facts of the matter.  Remember, this all began in July.

 

The Horrible, Terrible, Awful Purge

So, when the Bean and her crew of family movers pitched in to transport the remaining stuff from one house to another, our 3rd floor suddenly became a huge storage pile of boxes and such, and pretty much took over the bulk of the space.  It’s really only one huge room with a couple of auxiliary rooms for storage and a bathroom.  There are two large worktables, a bunch of chairs, a bed, and a TV up there as well as some organized sewing space, but… well, now there also is a heap of stuff that reminds us of a hoarder’s nest, though it didn’t start here and is at least contained.  It’s possibly junk-ish stuff, at least in part, and we expect that a lot of it will be donated or literally trashed.  It certainly can’t stay here if she is ever to use the space again.

So the boxes and bins have all been piled rather haphazardly up there since late June, passively waiting for the Bean to attend to all of them.  The clever transporters did leave walking spaces around the heap of boxes, so it’s somewhat maneuverable. The Bean, having made it through two summer trips (one a convention, one a carving), a serious illness, two separate house guests, and most recently hosted Hitty Club, is now free to do something about this pile of stuff.  And she has a plan.

She says, where there’s a will, there’s a way, though both of us (she has enlisted Smidge  to help her) have some doubts.  It’s a LOT of stuff, and she’s only one handicapped old woman.  I suspect Smidge is there to offer moral support and encouragement. This is going to be a long-term process.  However, in addition to a daily scheduled plan of attack, Bean has a pecking order and sorting method laid out in her mind, if not on paper.

And Bean’s new motto is, “It may just be trash.”

She will move into the disaster zone, poor Smidge in tow, on Monday, October 2.  Let’s just say that if you don’t hear from either of them on Facebook within a reasonable amount of time, there’s every possibility that one or more of them have been buried under the heap.  Smidge plans to have her Pinkmost Cell strapped to her little person so she can call for back-up if needed.

But in any case, if you don’t hear from them, please send help…with shovels.

 

Moving onward…

In Virginia, we escaped the wrath of Irma, but so many in the southeast and in the islands did not.  We are sad for them – the mess we see on television is truly terrible.  I think it’s one of those things where you wonder how the people there will begin to cope with the cleanup, and then you realize that they will probably operate on auto-pilot to simply do what has to be done.  When anything bad happens, Happy tells me to not think about how hard it’s going to be to fix it, but to just do it.  I think that’s probably what they will do.  But I’m sorry for them.  Consider giving to the Red Cross – they do great work.

On a lighter note, Monday is Hitty Club.  They are a bit off schedule (normally meeting in November, February, May, and August) in order to accommodate a member who was out of town for quite a while, and they adjusted two meetings to catch themselves back up.  This meeting is special – it’s the end of their 5th year as a club, so they are celebrating their 5th anniversary with gifts for Hitty and a party-like atmosphere, without an activity.  I’m sure they will think of something to do – like talk each other’s heads off!

The temps are finally cooler, signaling the end of true summer and time to enter the autumnal realm in a week.  These are the final days of summer, folks.  Get in one last dip at the pool, have a picnic, take a boat ride, romp in the grass, look for any lingering fireflies, enjoy the final blooming flowers, and gather up any remaining veggies from your garden.  Summer 2017 is about to end.  Autumn is in session…but can winter be far behind.

But good news –  Spring and summer will both reappear next year! I say, enjoy each season for what it has to bring.  Moving onward…

 

Irma’s eye of destruction

OK, that’s hopefully an exaggeration, but we small dollies tend to get seriously worried about major storms and threats of major storms that might be headed in our direction.  We watched TV and saw all that Harvey did to TX and LA, so when Irma became an Atlantic threat, we took her seriously.  We still do.

We have family who lives in Charleston, SC, and extended family and friends in FL.  Here in VA, we have weathered several serious tropical storms and hurricane remnants ourselves, so we know what it’s like.  We don’t want it, but instead of worrying, we are prepping.  A FB friend of the Bean posted a great list of things to do, in case a hurricane heads your way.  We think it’s worth repeating, so thanks to Bean’s friend and to her friend.

1. Start running your ice makers now and bagging the ice in freezer bags. Fill as much space in between your freezer items as you can.

2. Freeze regular tap water for pets, cleaning or drinking in tupperware-type containers. REMEMBER to leave a small bit of space between the top of the water & the lids so the ice expands but doesn’t crack the container.

3. Start using up your perishables to make more room for ice in the freezer.

4. Fill up all vehicles & check tires & oil. Fill up any gas containers you may have.

5. Cash from ATM, at least enough to get you through tolls and gas out of town. Call your bank if you plan on leaving the state so they don’t freeze your card for out-of-area “suspicious” transactions.

6. All important docs screenshot & send to your email. Take originals in sealed bags or plastic bins.

7. Pet & livestock food & supplies. Vet records in case you need to shelter them at a storm-safe facility.

8. Evacuation plans and share with family members so they know where you’re headed.

9. Consider putting heirlooms & photos in plastic bins in a high place, second floor, or safe room if you don’t plan on taking them with you.

10. SECURE ALL FIREARMS & AMMUNITION PROPERLY.

11. Old rags & beach towels on your windowsills. Even with the best windows & shutters, water seeping from the wind pressure happens. A few damp towels is better than soaked drywall or floors!

12. Shutter windows and doors and bring everything outside into your garage or house NOW. Do not wait until the day before. Better to get done early and relax than wait until its too late, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE MANDATORY PERSONNEL (hospital employee or first responder).

13. If you don’t already have your hurricane supplies, you might want to get them now. Shelves are already empty in most places.

14. Stock up on dry goods, bottles of water.

15. If you have a grill, stock up on propane.

16. Fill your tubs with water to flush your toilets with.

17. Lower your pool water to prevent flooding from that.

Although we are nervous – after all, Bean can’t save us all – we will rely on our instincts, our preparedness, our generator (Rumbles), and make it through Irma’s wrath.  It’s not going to be all that severe here, but may all others who read this and those about whom they care weather the storm and emerge safely on the other side.