Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Recovery

Hi, my name’s Codfish, and I’m in recovery.

I’m in that zone where you get a little confused about what day it is and what day it was when you had some other experiences. It’s the result of a combination if things:

  • First, there are so many things that have to be done. And though I do a pretty good job of pacing myself (as a younger man I had not learned this skill so would sometimes be ‘finished’ before I was ‘done’) it’s hard to avoid that trap because of the need for ‘prioritization’. For example the “stuff” has to be taken out of the bathroom vanity because the ‘destroyers’ need to pull the cabinets, so that the dry wall crew can pull down the sheetrock, so that the flooring and linoleum can be ripped up, so that we can accelerate the drying of the sub floor and trusses. And all I wanted to do was get the pictures down off the walls and padded up so they don’t become ‘casualties’ during the recovery.
  • Add to that long hours, such that so many things are crammed into a day that it actually feels like, “Gee, that couldn’t have been just yesterday ….. could it?”
  • Add in the effect of working outside in the cold,
    The strain of physical labor (it’s been a long time since I did physical labor)

Now, your starting to get a little tired so, “Hey, have another triple shot espresso!” Actually that helps, but it is the kind of short term ‘loan’ that you know you will cost you”pay day” rates later. (caffeine really is a drug). Then, you are trying to tell someone when that other thing got done, or was scheduled to get done, or when that crew said ‘no, we aren’t going to do that” and well, “Gee, that couldn’t have been just yesterday …. Could it?"

Recovery is really what we are all about down at Rocky Acres. And it is still happening at a furious pace. We are so lucky in so many ways. I’m really hustling to stay ahead of (catch up to?) the people who are dong the heavy lifting. So let me try to recap a few things that have gone down since the last post … whenever that was (Gee, that wasn’t yesterday was it?)

Sunday was a relatively quiet day in the neighborhood. Mrs. Codfish (she just loves that moniker!) spent a fair amount of time at church. I should have been there too as I have a surplus of thanks to offer. This was the weekend of the kid’s Christmas program at church and Mrs. C was organizing that. We put the “do not disturb” sign out on the motel room door so Chairman Meow could laze around instead of going to cat jail for another day.

It was snowing lightly and with the ground white things actually looked better, better than beige anyway. It was not so cold that the ground froze so it was still ‘soppy’ and the rubber boots were mighty cold going on. I spent most of the day in the shop sorting and discarding, organizing, preparing for washing and drying. A disaster version of ‘stuff’ triage.

The WCC kids did a great job of getting our ‘stuff’ out of the house and into the shop. There was time to discard the obvious items but other things we were not sure about, or perhaps were not emotionally prepared to let go of went in the shop. Many people had offered to help but this was work that only we could do.

There is a philosophy about all those things you have been hanging on to in all those boxes for so long: Do you need it? Do you use it? Do you love it? I think I picked that up from one of those home and garden channel shows. Much of my stuff in those boxes does not meet these criteria. I’ve been packing it around because there was a time when I may have needed it, used it, or loved it. Once I convinced myself that my connection with these things is from the past it was easier to discard many of the things that were damaged. But some things that were badly damaged were hard to get rid of because I still really loved them. It was a fitting day; cold, snowy, and quiet for saying goodbye to my long loved ‘stuff’.

I also pitched the two upholstered chairs and the hide-a-bed sofa. These of course were some of the first things out of the house so they were stashed waaay back there, in the far corner of the shop behind all the other stuff that came after. There is I think only one thing heavier than a hide-a-bed sofa… that would be a hide-a-bed sofa with a water logged mattress.

These things were thoroughly wet and should have been banished to the dumpster on Thursday. Most of our furniture is pretty old and pretty cheap. I expect that it will for the most part get a one way trip to the dumpster in time but for right now it makes a good place to keep stuff. The clothes that were in the lower drawers were wet and needed to be bagged and made ready for washing. The drawers themselves needed to be placed out in the open so they might dry.

Friends of ours from work had agreed to take clothes, bedding, and other items home and wash them for us. By the time I had all that sorted and bagged, the bed of the truck was covered with black plastic bags filled with soppy beige tinted clothes, linens and quilts. Both of our families carry the ‘quilting gene’ so there are lots of fabric heirlooms that need TLC. Thanks again for all the laundry you guys did for us!

Soon it was late afternoon and I had promised to come up to the church and help S set up for the Christmas program. Though I had promised, she was still a little surprised when I showed up. Then off to the hardware stores to shop, and then back down to Centralia to meet with D, the guy who is ‘loaning’ us his house. We had a nice visit and he showed me around the place. This is going to be great for us. D is a bachelor so he’s got a nice collection of wood working tools there in the living room, no table and about 2 chairs. Clearly he has not been living here and he apologizes profusely for the condition the house is in. I suggest he come down to Oakville and we can maybe compare dirty houses. I’m not complaining, it’s just funny how it reminds me of myself before I married Mrs. C.

Back to the motel for a late night bite with S and the cat. He still seemed not to trust me and preferred to spend his time under the bed. We agree that this will be our last night in the motel, so of course it is the parade of the plastic bags, laundry on hangers, all our carpet bagger belongings lugged out to the car and truck. Good to be getting out of the motel and heading to a real house.

Monday I was up early (Mrs. C went to work) to open up the house for the contractor and hopefully get going on removing the insulation and ducting under the house. I’ve seen this done on several houses around me and helped one of my neighbors. This is the worst job, especially at our house. Our crawl space is more crawl, than space so imagine crawling through flood mud, pulling down sopping wet fiberglass insulation that is firmly affixed to the trusses above you, then dragging it back to the entry, then wheeling it out to the street, then up into a dumpster, load after load. This stuff weights like sacks of wet concrete. It is much worse than it is sounds.

The sheet rock crew shows up to finish the demolition. I help haul the stuff out to the truck and continue to get our remaining possessions out of the way. The one piece of furniture remaining is Mrs. C’s piano. This too is a family heirloom. It was her grandmothers and it is the one she learned on. (I hope she is never forced to choose between the piano and me!) I ask and the sheet rock crew graciously agrees to haul the thing out to the shop for me. This is an old piano, made when pianos were built to last. (Superman’s fourth amazing feat: Able to lift old pianos with a single hand!)

At lunch I head up to the post office, I also stop at the local espresso stand, the Barista now knows my regular drink. Back at the ranch I am going through the mail and a series of strange, perhaps unbelievable events occur:

First I open a letter from my HMO. They want me to participate in a survey about sleep apnea. I have a bone to pick with them about this, (I’ll tell you the details another day), so about the time I am ready to tee off on them (in my mind) something flutters from the envelope
to my lap: A two dollar bill! It causes me to pause and reconsider. They are just following their rules in my case, rules I agreed to when I signed a contract with them, so perhaps I am being a little bit unreasonable.

Next there is a letter from our mortgage company. They were a bear to deal with when we bought the house so I can only imagine what this will be. As I read through the letter it seems that they have been withholding too much money for our taxes and insurance. So now they will start withholding LESS, and oh by the way, since we were a little off, how about we give you back a little over $1,600. I’m serious! I had to read this more than once to be convinced that what appeared to be a check was indeed a check, ... made out to us. I looked and looked for the teeny weenie fine print that said “feel free to use this phony check to run up your credit card or mortgage debt", but nope, it was a rebate check made out to us! I sat on the tail gate of the truck and thought about Monopoly and those stacks of Chance and Community Chest cards!

Then I called the cell phone company to tell them that I thought I had a bill outstanding but wasn't sure where it was. After explaining, I was able to pay the bill and the young woman even added several hundred minutes to my account so we could continue to take care of business.

NOTE: If this seems a little too sappy for you, stop reading now and switch over to the Jerry Springer show. But if you can stand a little more good news, read on.

A little later I was in the house fighting with a particularly uncooperative piece of corner trim when the phone rang. If you know me you know I don’t hear well under the best of circumstances. As I was in a harsh environment and working alone I was not wearing my H-aids. The phone rang and I was having trouble hearing the person on the other end of the conversation. It was the manager at the motel we had checked out of earlier that morning. It sounded like she was trying to tell me that there was a problem with my bill and there was something about a phone call. My McCubbin was getting ready to spew: If there was a phone charge, just add it to the flipping bill! No, she explained there had been an anonymous telephone call and the caller HAD PAID OUR BILL AND SO THEY WERE REMOVING THE CHARGE FROM OUR ACCOUNT! It took a couple tries for her to convince me. I think she was more excited and amazed than I was. (I was really amazed, ... disbelief at first) She was giggling as she wished me a Merry Christmas. It was too much, I broke down and cried, fortunately the crew had left for the day and I was all alone. I handle bad news pretty well, but that good news, ... it always brings me to my knees. I’m not George Bailey and this isn’t Bedford Falls. This is real.

I don’t know who you are but thank you seems a poor response for such a wonderful gesture. I spoke today with a co-worker, suggesting that I feel a need for something more significant than just ‘thank you’, or “really thank you a lot!” I need a ‘turbo’ thank you or an ‘extreme’ thank you. Actually I think maybe there is more than just thanks that is appropriate. Please be assured, whomever you are that I will pay this kindness forward. It was the friend I was talking to who reminded me of this idea.

When we got together that evening Mrs. C told me the folks at work had taken up a collection for us and we were given a large sum of money. To all of you at the office(s), thanks so much. Oh yeah, the card was nice too. Actually, I’m one of those people who reads what people write on those cards. The words really made me feel, ...what? Supported I guess. Like me, S was stunned when I told her about our anonymous benefactor.

That night we went to Kinko’s to copy a CD of house photos to give to the insurance adjuster and to check email (20 cents a minute or $12/hour…we have to do this because we don’t currently have a computer hooked up and D’s house is not wired for broadband). This is in a shopping mall in Olympia where motivated shoppers are frantic to get the good parking spaces and thus get at the goods. This normally brings out the very worst in me (see my blog entry “It’s Already Here” from last week) but I decided I had good reason to be a little more gracious, to slow down and let people cross in front of me, to dial the McCubbin back a bit.

I’m typing this on a borrowed laptop here in Centralia. It’s late, S is sleeping and I would be too … If I could sleep. In the best of situations I have trouble sleeping, in this situation I toss and turn and worry. Ths is foolish. I know that at this time of night the best thing I can do for me and for the situation is to get to bed and get a good night’s sleep. But this is not the best of situations so the next best thing is to find something to occupy my mind and my fingers until I am tired enough that sleep will come.

A number of you have said that you find this interesting, but were also a little uneasy saying so. You said you wished this had not happened but that you find the story interesting and that you appreciate that I’m posting here. That sounds good to me. I know this whole blogging business is certainly narcissistic to a large degree but for me it is therapeutic. I have been a compulsive diarist for most of my life, so this is just an extension of that quirk, with a twist. Tomorrow in my travels I‘ll stop off at Kinkos and load this entry onto the blog.

I was thinking that the blog might have to go into storage, like the wet furniture, the Christmas presents, and home improvement projects, since there is no connectivity here at D’s house. But S called Comcast today and they said they could switch our service to this new address for $20! I have to admit, I wanted to be skeptical, but these days, I want to be optimistic, I believe that good things happen: the cable guy will actually show up next Monday between noon and four and it will be a smooth and painless hook up. How’s that for believing in miracles?

PS: If this Comcast business does not work out I will probably revert to an older operating system; Pen and Paper 1.0. Watch for something next week maybe, if not check back here in about six months.

7 comments:

  1. Nice blog. I will keep reading. Please take the time to visit my blog about Badcock Furniture

    ReplyDelete
  2. Paul, congratulations on the tenacity you and your wife and Chmn. Meow continue to exhibit. Believe me, your story is not only heartening to read but will be of great help to someone who is going through the same thing.

    If you could post your physical address, maybe a holiday card or two will come to help brighten your temporary home.

    Regards,
    Ed Felker
    Arlington, VA

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yr Pal DrCodfish12/13/07, 10:14 AM

    Hi Ed, good to hear from you. Do I understand that you may be headed back for the C-1200 again this year? If so, I look forward to seeing you again.

    I'm not sure if it is randonneuring that has helped me get through this or if it is my natural born "head is harder than this brick wall" peasant genes. I suspect both have come into play. That and the great support we have received from friends, family, and the good Lord above.

    A card would be great. We are even thinking of taking the Christmas tree down to our new digs and getting it set up again. That beige patina on the lower branches distinguishes us as members of the 'stylish and subtle' set. Maybe that's a suggestion for one of those home decorating shows. The Taupe tree for the holidays.

    We receive mail at:
    PO Box 372
    Oakville, WA 98568

    Thanks for commenting, good to know people are reading.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks Paul. Next thing you know, everybody will want one of those
    low-beige trees.

    We'll be back. We want to see the segment that was cut out last year,
    and, get our new Co-Motion tandem around the course for comparison.
    Plus, who wouldn't want to ride Loup Loup on a tandem? Or descend it on a tandem? PBP was just not scary enough after riding the C12 on a tandem. ;-)

    take care and hang in there,
    Ed

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  5. I never realized just how amazing my friends were until I went through chemotherapy over the last couple of years. The help and support were just tremendous. I'm the kind of person that doesn't ask for much, and I had a hard time accepting it all, but I'm glad that I did.
    It is good to see that things are falling in place for you finally. Sometimes terrible things can be a great benefit on your life. It just takes some time to see that.

    Robert
    http://www.bunnyhawk.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Uncle Paul And Sheila,
    I am so sorry to hear about the house. Im at Moms for the weekend and I swear ( tho Mother would tell you otherwise)this is the 1st i heard of this! I have read just about everything this morning, and may i saywhat a wonderful writer you are! I get the "therapy" writing thing. It helps a lot. The hotel billed being payed is surely a sign that there really are good people left in this world who care about the misery of others, and i got a kick out of it being amonimous. I love to surprise people, and what a surprise that must of been! I will watch for more blog entries now that i know whats going on. You are both in my thoughts and prayers, OH! I have 4 cats so pease give big hugs to chairman meow!
    Dawn

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  7. Dear Paul,

    I very much enjoy reading your posts. I agree with your thoughts that writing serves as a release; and it helps put things into perspective. I admire your attitude and that of S! How you deal with adversity defines your character. Yours is strong!

    Cheers!
    Peter

    ReplyDelete