A Momentous Month July 28, 2000
Friday July 28, 2000 11:21:47 PM

Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards.

Fred Hoyle
Astronomer, mathematician, writer (1915- )

The above quote, gleaned from the A Word A Day email list I belong to, caused me to chuckle out loud at work today when I read it. It also caused me to reflect on our new life-situation.

How large an effect do you think the house you live in could have on your life? Mm-hm... Really? That much? Well, let me tell you I know from experience the effect can be absolutely immeasurable.

Diligent readers may remember the issue of this publication entitled The House Thing. I would like to inform those who remember it, those who have just followed the link above, and those of you who have not read that particular item, that the deal mentioned prominently in the abovementioned writing is now reality and we are living in the sturcture to which that article refers.

We officially took up residence here on the first of July.

That was quite a day, too. I imagine I have, at some point in the past, worked as much and as hard in one day as I did that day but I sure can't remember when!

The day started early. We had rented a 24' moving van from Ryder, but to get it, we (Ruth's aunt Ruth who had so graciously offered to pay for the rental and I) had to drive about 30 miles to the nearby (rural) metropolis of Jerseyville and I wanted to be there by 8:30. We had spent the night before moving boxes of junk to the new house and getting it ready for occupation. While Aunt and I drove north to get the only truck available in the area, Ruth and Isaiah went ahead to the new house. Ruth's father and brother were going to meet me at the old house to help me load the truck.

Have you ever driven a 24' truck? I have, but I hadn't then. It took little getting used to- you kinda have to plan ahead, like piloting a big boat instead of driving a car, but I got the hang of it quickly enough.

I got just a little nervous a couple of times about the height clearance, but had not the least incident of any kind while driving the "big rig". Mark, Ruth's brother, and her dad were both there waiting when I arrived and we commenced to loading the truck.

One thing I will NOT miss about the old neighborhood is the people that live across the street from the old house. Instead of diverging to a multiple paragraph rant, it will suffice to say that it will be nice to no longer live across the street from the kind of people who think the ideal way to spend an evening is to sit out in the front yard drinking too much beer and rocking out to the cranked up car stereo. Specifically, the kind of woman who has nothing better to do than sit out on her front step in her nightgown and heckle the folks moving out of the house across the street...

It was a task of sizeable magnitude, but Mark and I got the big truck loaded, while Bob, Ruth's father loaded their pick-up with boxes and smaller stuff. The day was hot and humid and I was bathed in sweat, but then, what else is new, eh? Being bathed in sweat after hard work in hot, humid weather, just means it feels so nice to drive off with the windows down.

By the time we got the truck unloaded, Mark and I were done in. We had gotten it unloaded just in time for me to take it back to the rental company, though.

I sure was tired that night, but it felt nice to go to sleep in the new house. Yeah, you say, I bet it did, but what does that have to do with that space quote above? Coming from a tiny, crappy house in a crummy neighborhood to where we are now seems like we have moved to another planet.

Yes, we had been transported to a whole other realm of reality. A realm of happy contentment and spacious living areas, a realm of outdoor vistas of verdant green. A realm in which the washer and dryer were not hooked up.

It only took three days and about a dozen trips to the hardware store to enable us to wash and dry our own clothes.

The washer was the easy one. It only took two trips. One trip to get the two little hoses that connect the hot and cold water to the machine. I hooked those up and started the washer and- Where is all that water coming from?! Ah, you moron, Roger! The water that goes in has to come out. The second washing-machine trip was to get about 20' of pvc to make a drain pipe to take the used water to the drain in the basement floor.

The dryer was a little more challenging. What made it tricky was hooking up the gas line. What's the big deal, eh? Get a piece of flex-hose and hook it up. Yeah, except the gas line is a few inches above eye-level. You can't buy a 7' piece of flex-hose for gas, and if you'd use one, you deserve the explosion you are sure to eventually get.

Gas lines come in different sizes, see. They also come with different types of threads... I am sure you can now visualize how the complexity increases. I think it only took four trips to the hardware store to get all the right stuff. Once I finally had the right parts, it took all of half an hour to get it all put together and up and running.

I will never take clean clothes for granted again. I'll also need fewer trips to the hardware store next time I fool with the gas- I'll get ALL my ducks in a row right off the bat.

Tuesday was the 4th of July- Indpendence Day and, yes, we did have our 4th of July barbecue in the new house. We had a packed house, too. Counting Ruth, Isaiah, and I, there were about 10 people here. That may not sound like much, but considering the fact that we had been cleaning, tidying, straightening, and carrying boxes down to the basement not only all weekend, but right up to mere moments before the guests began to arrive- it sure seemed like a houseful to the totally exhausted new residents.

I barbecued steaks, hot dogs, and bratwurst and evidently I did OK cause there were no leftovers. Just as lunch was wrapping up, we got a call from the sellers. We had told them the day before about the fact that the toilet downstairs was totally plugged up and that the upstairs one wasn't much better, and they were calling to let us know that a plumber buddy of theirs was going to be stopping by- any minute. And sure enough, not five minutes after I'd hung up Kroger started barking and the doorbell rang. After a quick snaking, it was fixed and as the plumber left, I rejoined our guests and said "Now you know where they get the old saying 'It's not a party till the plumber shows up'".

Everybody seemed to have a good time and it was nice having guests in our new home, but it was also nice when they left and we finally got a chance to relax.

If you've ever moved, I'm sure you realize that our relaxation was brief. I don't think we got over being beat from having so much stuff still to move, put away, get out, or get rid of for two weeks.

I took about 40 hours of vacation over the middle two weeks of July. If I hadn't I'd have lost them, so I took the opportunity to go to Play Pals with Isaiah, and to be home when our satellite dish was installed. Come on, Roger, you say, you had your dish installed by someone else? I'm not proud of it, but yes, I had it installed. The trees in back are tall and I thought it would surely have to go up on the very steep, very high-up main roof, but it didn't. I paid $99 to have it easily and quickly installed in a place I could have safely accessed, if only I'd known I could get line of site over the trees there. Sometimes, however, you just have to pay for the knowledge and experience of a professional. We've got dish now, though, so yee-ha.

We also now have all our vegetations transported and almost all transplanted. Even our burning bush is here now. The bush had grown quite a bit since we initally planted it at the old house and we had, perhaps, planted it a little close. Mark and I were only able to dig out one side of it and it was so big, we could barely shake it with it half dug out.

This problem was solved with the judicious application of a little Scout power. No, I don't mean Mark used some secret knowledge he gained on the road to Eagle-Scouthood, I mean I rolled my Scout around, drove it right between the house and the neighbor's house, ran a chain around the frame and around the stump of the bush and gently tugged while Mark squeezed behind the bush and dug it out from behind after it had been pulled just far enough to allow passage. It was heavy, too. It was all he and I could do together to get it into the back of his pickup truck.

The latest, and most challenging big project to be completed was the connection of the local broadcast TV antenna I installed in the attic to the TV itself. Putting the antenna in the attic was very easy. It was a 20 minute job. Figuring out a way to run the cable downstairs to the family room was another story.

After coming to the realization that there was no way around drilling some holes, I had a good look around in the attic. I found a location where I was sure, I could drill a hole that would allow me to pass the cable outside to run it down the side of the house and into the basement to go across under the floor and back up behind the TV. So I drilled and shoved about 20' of coax out through the new hole. Then I went outside and saw the cable hanging down over the guttter. The hole I'd drilled was above the gutter- that would never do and I was out of ideas. The dish, though was operational and we watch it a lot more than the local stuff, anyway.

The problem bugged me, though, for several days. And while I was bugged I thought about how the house was put together. I though about how the gutters were attached to the eaves and how the eaves looked and decided I still might be able to drill a hole that would serve my purpose. I once again climbed into the attic, drilled away, and poked some cable through. This time, violá, while not exactly what I had hoped for, the cable had come out in a location that was good enough. Now, all I had to do was climb up and tie the cable to one of the other numerous cables running down the side of that corner of the house.

I am not afraid of heights, but I'm no highwire acrobat either. My climbing task (the house has two storeys- the eaves are probly about 24' high at this corner) was further complicated by the slope of the ground where I had to base the ladder. I could get the ladder flat against the side of the house and pointing to the right in a manner that would put my center of gravity dangerously far to the side, or I could get the ladder to point straight up in the direction I was facing, but with only one of the top feet firmly against the house resulting in a great deal of wobbly-ness.

After much arranging of the ladder, and one tenuous climb not quite far enough up to do acceptable job of tieing down the cable, I gave the ladder one final reposition and just climbed on up- to a height of probably 20'. That may not sound like much to you (it may not be much to you) but to a guy who spends 99% of his time with his feet firmly on the ground, 20' up on a shaky ladder is plenty high enough.

I got the job done, though. The cable is run down the side of the house, into the basement, across under the floor, back up through the wall and into the TV. So now we have the local channels that I have not watched one time since I ran the cable last Monday night. It isn't bugging me anymore, though.

Isaiah loves having spce to run around. He also loves the stairs. He is much better at going up the stairs than down them, though. Fortunately, there are French doors to the entryway where the stairs are that we can keep closed to prevent his unattended climbing.

The yard is big, but it doesn't have a fence and Kroger is still not quite used to the idea of being hooked to a cable tied to a stake in the ground outside. I think she doesn't mind being chained (cabeled?) as much as she just doesn't like being stuck out there by herself when we put her out to answer "the call of nature". She usually starts barking in a most annoying yipey sort of way as soon as she is done. She is a pretty good dog, but undeniably spoiled.

Nijal seems to have become almost social. I used to rarely be able to pet her because most of the time when I saw her she was darting from one mischevious hiding place to another. Now she will actually come up to me to be petted! I suppose that means she likes the new place a lot.

Ruth and I, while not exactly overjoyed at the prospect of what it's all going to cost, are both thrilled to be able, if nothing else, to have places to put stuff instead of just piling more junk on the dining room table or against the wall.

We've moved to another planet: Earth!

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