Tuesday, December 18, 2007

News from Centralia

Codfish Nation!

OK, OK, here’s your next installment. I must say I am surprised by how this has been embraced by you folks. It may not be apparent from the entries in the comments section but people have been encouraging me, both off line and in person. Thanks, the encouragement feels good.

I’ve been tracking our activities but wanted to avoid going back to KINKO’s for pay-per-minute cyber-access. This medium is great and all that, but my peasant genes are not deeply rooted in the tradition of ‘letters’. Meaning blogging is fun but I can live without it and we have a few other ‘things’ to direct our finances towards.

But sliding into the ditch of the “information superhighway” isn’t going to be necessary. The cable guy actually did show at our new digs yesterday between noon and four and the install went pretty well. I logged on and it was working! Of course later that evening, long after he had departed our account with the ISP had been cancelled, there was no connection and it was as if his visit was just a dream. After a late night phone call and much re-explaining of circumstances the Tech Support person got us back up and running. As things were rebotting and re-routing we had a nice conversation about flooding and the kindness of strangers.

So I’ll start off by just letting those of you not in Western Washington know: IT'S F#$&!!#3k65^@!! RAINING! Dry would be good. My shell of a house needs to dry out and heavy rain with 100% humidity does not accelerate the process.

Keeping notes over the last few days; with a little spell chekr and a little editing I could dump a large volume of verbal flood detritus here. Mostly I wrote in diary style what we’ve been doing at the house and away from it but, that is less writing and more reporting and I’d rather put something in here that sounds less like a homework assignment.

There are weighty matters to be dealt with, and I could post up another half ream of records of good deeds and good fortune which we have benefited from. I won’t include it all but I’ll plug a few things just to prove to you that there is still goodness in the world.

The weighty part:

We have been struggling with the question of whether to raise the house or not. If money grew on trees, we’d just pick a couple bushel baskets full (actually I got a quote today so it’d take a couple 55 gallon drums full) and then ‘giterdun’ as the saying goes. Unfortunately our major cash crop down at Rocky Acres has in fact been rocks, and while we had a bumper crop this year the market is flooded … (get it, flooded?)

Following are a few of the variables that go into this complex equation:

  • Raising the house is not a cost covered by flood insurance
  • We do not have an insurance settlement yet
  • There are other things to spend money on, some covered, some not
  • There MIGHT be mitigation assistance from FEMA for this work …. But probably not.
  • Generally speaking our damage is not considered severe enough to effectively compete for the limited mitigation funds available
  • It is not known if mitigation efforts we make now would be eligible for reimbursement if the 100 year flood level is raised.
  • We’re not sure if the sun will rise in the east tomorrow (just thought I’d throw that in, life is after all a crap shoot)

But there are some absolutes too:

  • We never want to go through this again
  • We have an estimate of the cost for this work (in the mid 5 figures)
  • We should have an idea of the rest of the costs to get this house back together within a week or so
  • We should also know what the insurance settlement will be within a week
  • We are willing to defer instant gratification (counter tops, carpet, chests of drawers) for longer term security (both physical, as well as psychological)
  • We should be able to make a firm decision about this (raising the house) within the next week or so. Stay tuned.

    Other news:
    The cat has settled in quite comfortably. Our new place is a little old craftsman style bungalow, lots of rooms, and hallways and stairs and chambers. A veritable play structure for a curious cat. However he was so obnoxious last night that we had to put him to sleep! Just kidding, but at 4:00am he’s ready to play after sleeping (and not getting to go outside) all day and something about the loving head butt in the face or the raspy, licking invitation to get up and get going in the dead of night is just the wrong start to the day. I thought we had him under control when I firmly closed the door and felt the latch click in the strike plate. But no, a curious and bored cat can be very inventive at 4:00am.

    One nice thing. Friends at work gave us a couch: I said "gee that would be nice but I’ve only got a little Ford Ranger PU and…. (whine on)". “Oh not to worry, we’ve got a big truck (he’s a house builder) and we’ll deliver it!" The house looks a little less bare and it turns out that the cat thinks it’s wonderful that these folks gave HIM a couch. (He allows us to sit on it too).

    Friday we took off work at 2:00 to meet with the building materials supplier. We looked at cabinets, and counter tops, and doors. After so much demolition and soggy muddy mess it was very refreshing to actually be looking at something that will make our house look good again. It felt good. So good in fact that when we were done there we burned a little more time at other places looking at carpet, linoleum, floor tile, bathroom vanities, and kitchen counters. This is like chocolate. A little is good, but too much, is not so good.

    We were invited to dinner at the home of friends who have been in their house just a few months. I find myself looking other people’s homes now in a new way. (Gee, how would that look at our house?) The dinner was a wonderful, fun filled time, a brief mental vacation from dealing with the muddy mess. It was over too soon, and at the end, I returned the power washer I had borrowed and they gifted us with some cardboard boxes. Back to our new reality: Not refugees exactly, but I guess bona fide disaster victims. I never thought this would happen to me.

    I forget exactly when but we were driving recently and S mentioned that it just doesn’t seem like Christmas. This is saying something for a woman who loves to see the lights on people’s houses, to see the decorations and the festivities. I think she actually likes shopping. I’m usually not so enthused about Christmas, It is just too commercial and too hectic. She’s right though, for us it does not feel like Christmas, but I am sure this is a Christmas that we will never forget. We don’t have as much as we did last year, but we’ve got each other and that’s enough. We’ll get back on our feet and we will do it by supporting each other. Your support and Gods help are also big for us. Thanks for helping, and for reading.

    Sorry if this is a let down, I'm just too tired to be as funny as I would like to be. here is a little respite from the depression. Some of you know that I am into long distance cycling. Here is a link to one of the better news write ups I have seen about Paris Brest Paris.


    Hope you like it.


  1. Paul
    tried to email you at your PJ in oakville address and got bounced - do you have another address I can try?
    Glad you folks are OK but I don't know what else to say - so sorry that your going through this - anyhow Bob and I have something to send you which might put a smile on your face so drop me a line with your mailing address.

  2. Paul - I'm happy to hear that you and Mrs. C are digging out, but it must be completely overwhelming at times. My thoughts are with you.