In Which Our Heroine Is Home

16 October 2003

Uff da mai.

Um, hi. I'm not even sure where I left off. This moving stuff is kicking my butt six ways to Sunday. Maybe seven or eight ways to Sunday. The list of things to do is staggering. Just plain immense. And some of it is stuff that can be put off for awhile. But not indefinitely. So. Yeah. My brain has a tendency to wander off at times. Sorry 'bout that.

So, where did we leave off? Oh, right: in California. My mom likes to tell stories of a trip like this chronologically, whereas my dad arranges them conceptually. This is the advantage of writing: I can tell things as I think of them, and the order of typing and the order of reading can be different.

So. We got the U-Haul Friday, we got lunch, and then we got started. Mark came home early so that we could do bank stuff. Timprov also had bank stuff to do. We left the U-Haul with C.J. and came back to find that he had loaded most of the books into it. Useful folks to have, C.J.s. He had also made friends with a few of the neighbor kids, being a nice person (nicer than their mother, who yelled at them in not very polite ways at the drop of a hat). They were desperate to be helpful, and they ended up getting underfoot, trying to drag original paintings down the hall themselves, haranguing us to get more work done, coming into the apartment uninvited through a closed door...we had to politely but firmly get rid of them on Saturday. And polite only goes so far with little ones who don't know the code (where "Maybe you should see if your mom needs you" is polite grown-up for "Go away"). Raised in a barn, poor kids.

Anyway, we had Long Life and Mondo Gelato Friday night when all the bank stuff was done, and it was a good way to bid farewell to Berkeley, but it didn't seem real yet. Saturday morning we boxed up the last of the stuff and started loading. Wendy came and brought Zachary's pizza. Still didn't feel real. We finished the loading, leaving just exactly enough space for the beds. Felt a little more real at that point, I guess. We had been hoping to be able to pick up a few things in Omaha -- little things like my piano and a couch and a big cherry-wood desk that was once Grandpa's and is now to be mine. But there wasn't room for so much as a box in the U-Haul once we got the beds in. It was full.

Saturday night we went to Fremont's North China for one last time. I don't know what possessed me to mention to Eddie that we were moving away, but he fêted us like you wouldn't believe, with amazing soup and appetizers and special ingredients and spices in everything. It was wonderful. If you live in the area, go. Good stuff. It's right over by Half Price Books.

We had packed up the car as well as the U-Haul, and even the U-Haul cab had a fair amount of stuff in it. We decided that the main mode of travel would be Timprov in the car and Ceej and I in the cab of the U-Haul. We also decided that attempting to stay close together on the roads was silly and futile with two cell phones, so we arranged for meeting points. It turned out that this was a good idea: the U-Haul would do 35 mph up the Sierras, and there was really no sense in making Timprov drive Zeph that slow. (He was, however, using his patented method for beating speed traps: driving the speed limit.) We had breakfast in Davis, where I used to go for grad school, and I looked at the town with new eyes: it's a pretty good place. The town of Davis wasn't the problem at all. We had some good times in Davis. Usually those good times were a result of Mark or Timprov driving me up on a seminar day and spending the day with me wandering around, and I don't recall that any of them had to do with the UCD physics program. But still, nothing wrong with Davis. We had good bagels at Main St. Bagel Café, formerly Bruegger's, and met up again in Truckee, after discovering the U-Haul's hill speed. Eek. Also, the truck cab was bumpy and loud. Occasionally, on the flat straightaways, it rocked, and Timprov pointed out that he had not, in fact, come a-knockin', but it turns out the reasons for not comin' a-knockin' involve not getting creamed by a truck going 75 mph, rather than anything more fun than that.

I don't really recommend Dragonfly restaurant in Truckee. They overcooked their ahi, and the service was pretty indifferent.

We left California at 2:21 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hurray hurrah. It was funny: the line between California and Nevada was pretty clear. You could apply a simple test: were there trees? If so, you were still in California. If not, Nevada.

Anyway, the first day, Sunday, was the longest. We got to Wendover later than expected, and we were all just wiped out. Conversation got pretty punch-drunk in the mint-green, mirrors, and formica fantasia that was our hotel room. Also not recommended: Peppermill Casino Hotel in Wendover, NV. Cheap, gosh, yes. But the AC only made noise, not coolness, and there were lights flashing in sequence outside our window all night, advertising the casino. Charming. Also, we were not put in the drunken gambler wing; we were put in the crying baby wing. Fabulous.

So. We stumbled onto the road on Monday. There were yellow autumn trees in Utah, for our first exposure to seasons. Yay, fall! We got ourselves brunch at the Perkins in Salt Lake, which is barely a Perkins (you order at a counter), but places we live ought to have Perkins. Even if we don't go to Perkins during daylight hours all that often. It's just a requirement. And the muffins didn't taste any different when taken from a counter. That afternoon, we met up in the middle of Wyoming to determine that, hey, we were making much better time than we expected. So I called Jen and arranged to have dinner with her and Craig rather than merely possibly potentially stopping by for dessert quickly before they had to turn in. (Craig had to leave the house by 6:00 a.m. for work.)

There are pictures of all this, mind you. They're kind of stuck on the camera right now, since Timprov's computer is not playing well with other computers and Mark's laptop is in California and the others don't have the right software to retrieve the pictures.

Anyway, we had a good dinner with Jen and Craig, and we all approved of Craig, so that was good. Sometimes my girl friends take up with people who are neither nice nor interesting; Craig is both; whew. And we got to have breakfast with Jen the next morning, too, and if you're in Fort Collins, go to Lucile's for breakfast. Go. Let nothing stop you, for the Creoles apparently know from breakfast. Beignets and oatmeal for me, and the oatmeal had spices and pecans and sliced fresh strawberries and bananas, and now I have to figure out what, exactly, those spices were, because it rocked. Also Jen rocked. But we knew that going in.

So then...halfway across Nebraska was the closest thing we had to an accident. It was what you might call an incident. ("There were incidents and accidents, there were hints and allegations...." Sorry, Karina, I just had to share my Paul Simon brain with you and the rest of the journal-reading world.) We were just outside Cozad, NE, when a guy from County 60 pulled us over: turns out our front driver's side tire was forming a huge goose egg and was about to blow out. So Ceej drove about 30 mph on the shoulder with the hazards on to get us to the Cozad exit without having a tire blowout. Which worked. Yay! And thank you, anonymous Good Samaritan! Never again shall I mock the inhabitants of NE Cty. 60! (Counties 3 through 85 exclusive of 59 are still fair game, though.) The U-Haul people had to call and send out their own guy, who was 20 minutes away, and who initially brought the wrong size jack, so he had to drive back, and then forth again. But we were delayed two and a half hours with no injuries, not God knows how many with lots of injuries, so it could have been much, much worse. As it was last time I took a U-Haul across the western half of this continent, for example.

We got in after Mother had arrived from her conference (we initially intended to beat her there), so we all had dinner together at about 9:30. Grandma outdid herself with the dinner, but we were all about to fall over into our hotdish. In the morning, we had Wheatfield's happy happy breakfast for C.J.'s birthday -- yay, pecan rolls! -- and headed out. Stopped in Ames for lunch with Rob and Megan. I doubt we were very good company at that point. All three of us had brains in advanced stages of road rebellion. They (the brains, I mean) kept demanding to see something that was not crossed with concrete and/or going past at 75 mph.

The stretch of road between Faribault and Northfield was gorgeous, though. The drive from California seemed sometimes like acclimation -- a little bit of deprogramming first, in the Sierras, then a lovely flat break, a blank slate for my prairie girl heart, and then up into the leaves and the color and the river valley. We live near the Minnesota River. I went to college near the Minnesota River. It is good, and it is best in the fall. The backyard -- my backyard! -- is green and gold and sunny today.

Timprov's folks were here when we got here, and Aunt Ellen and Uncle Phil came almost right away, with supplies and fabulous presents and hugs. (More on the fabulous presents in another entry, I'm sure.) Some folks from Cal's church came to help us move in, and so did Yore and Rachel and Ben, and then Aaron and Em came a bit later and brought Socrates. (For whose arrival I'm going to have to stop writing this journal entry any minute now.) Socrates is Aaron and Em's new puppy, cute and bright-eyed and fabulous. We Are Much Enamored of Socrates. Anyway, with the unloading help we had, it only took an hour to get all the stuff out of the truck. Lots of people showed up because they like me, and a few more showed up because they like being helpful, and it felt very, very good. And Old Chicago pizza, while it is not my favorite or second or even third favorite in the Cities, possibly not even fourth, is still pretty darn good. (I need to stop trying pizza in the Cities, is what. Too much good stuff.)

Thursday, Timprov and Ceej took the U-Haul to Timprov's parents' to get stuff, and then to Home Despot where they made C.J. sad by losing the door he wanted to pick up as long as we had a big hauly thing. Then we returned it -- rid of the U-Haul, hurrah! -- grabbed some supplies and some dinner. I went out with Ceej and some of his volleyball friends to a place on Nicollet Island, and while I don't think it'll generally be my kind of place, it seemed right, to go through downtown with all the lights and the skyline. And there was a fountain near our parking spot, sparkling in the night, and I eyed it dubiously, and my fellow Emma Bull fans will know why.

My parents came that night, and worked like troopers all weekend getting the office painted Cobalt Stone, Timprov's bedroom painted Clematis Vine, the shelves lined with paper, and various and sundry other tasks accomplished while we settled in. We fetched Mark from the airport Friday night, and in the process ran into one of my old lab students, Matt/Legs/Walla, who took my phone number. But I forgot to ask for his, so I hope he calls. He seemed really happy to see me, so we'll see. (This confirmed my impression of Minneapolis as a place where there are people I like, because look, I just went to the airport for maybe half hour, and there was someone I like right there. See?)

So Mark got to be home for the weekend, and we got muchly stuff done with the help of Mother and Dad, and we fed chili to Cal and Bobbie and C.J., and a lot of stuff kind of blurs around there, because it consisted of unpacking boxes and folding boxes back up and taking them down to the basement and washign things and putting things together and generally doing a ton of stuff. (Dude, we have a basement! Our very own entire basement! Where we can store stuff we're not even using, because we have more space than we're using for moving around in! Every once in awhile this house thing just hits me, and it rocks.) Mark and the folks left on Sunday, and...uh...oh, yeah, there was a doctor's appointment on Monday, woooo, because being a grown-up occasionally sucks, and they believe I'm fine, except that my hemoglobin is low despite eating beef several times this weekend, and if anything else pops up unfine they'll let me know. And then C.J. and Timprov and I went to Sebastian Joe's, which is up on 43rd and Upton, and it rocked. I read about their orange basil sorbet in Peg Kerr's livejournal, and I thought, "This is an ice cream place for me." And is it ever. Wow. Their blueberry ice cream had actual fresh blueberries in it. And their raspberry chocolate chip ice good that the relative dearth of chocolate in it was not an issue. We are totally going back. Wow, wow, wow. You go, too, if you live here. Yum.

And Sarah and Jeff came down, because they were visiting his parents, and we had lunch and they brought cookies, so that was nice. And Cal and Bobbie took care of most of our backyard leaves, which was nice, too.

(We pause for playing with puppies. Awwwwww. And for an attempt to get conditioner for Timprov's waterbed. Unsuccessful. Up to St. Paul tomorrow.)

In the category of things you may have known: when they say leaf bags are self-standing, they don't mean on a hillside in the wind. Oh, and things you might like to know: if you have those popcorn ceilings, and you have the new kind that will brush away with the slightest touch, and you feel like repairing them, get the water-based stuff, because it will spray everywhere. If you get the water-based, you can simply wipe the popcorning off everywhere, which is a mild pain in the butt but doesn't involve mineral spirits or turpentine.

I didn't get much reading done along the way. I finished my reread of The Scarlet Pimpernel and found its balance of attitudes about the French Revolution most interesting. And it was good, of course, and I'm going to seek out the rest of the series at some point; it's on my library list. Then I read Garret Freymann-Weyr's Pretty Girls, from back when she was Garret Weyr. I'm glad I started with When I Was Older, because Pretty Girls is very much a first novel, and I was already enthralled with Freymann-Weyr's work and could just appreciate it for what it was, instead of picking at it for what it might have been. (I found the ending dissatisfying, and I have to wonder if she started just throwing all the problems from YA problem novels in. But I was still charmed by it.)

I think Lyda Morehouse's Archangel Protocol is also very first-novelly, but I'm enjoying it anyway. I'm having a hard time telling which twists are supposed to be twisty and which I'm supposed to see from a mile off; I also don't remember what Lyda said about this book on panels at World Fantasy Con, so I can't tell whether I'm really insightful or just have a decent, if shrouded, memory.

I wasn't working much. This was a problem: I'm kind of a jerk when I don't work much. Internally if not externally. So. I got my first-ever massage yesterday to fix up my back a bit (because while soft tissue damage by someone incompetent would be bad, spinal damage is not to be considered, so we'll be looking for someone who can refer a good chiropractor soon)...look, all this stuff has something a bit more interesting about it, you know? The differences in atmosphere between massage and chiropracty, for example. But it's dinnertime, or past it (though we haven't eaten and Ceej isn't here yet), and I'm kind of rushing things. So I did get some work in last night, and it was insightful and good and fun, and I'm happy with that. And hope for more soon.

On the way home last night, we passed Hardware Hank, and I sang the jingle softly, without even thinking of it. Timprov laughed: "I didn't even know you knew the Hardware Hank jingle." I said, "It was on the Twins games on the radio." And we were singing with the Larry Reed Dodge commercial on the radio today, even though I have no intention of buying a Dodge ever. Small, familiar things.

And small, unfamiliar things: somewhere along the line -- er, last Friday, it was -- our friends Ed and Jen had their baby. Elena Grace, 7 pounds 14 oz., mother and baby both doing well. She's a beautiful little sprout, from the pictures, precious and perfect in every way, and I can't wait until Ed and Jen bring her back into the country in the spring. (Jen is a diplomat. They're in Mexico. Which is not as far away as it might be, and yet.)

Some of my childhood books live here now, and I've been going through and putting some of them in the library file when I have a spare minute and need to sit down. (We are on the Stairmaster moving plan, people. And I'm more concerned with finishing tasks than with minimizing trips, so I am up and down the stairs severalmany times an hour.) It's funny: many of them have Post-It notes in the front that tell me when I read them, when I lent them to friends. Almost all the dates on the Post-Its are from 1990. And when I was reading a Lloyd Alexander here or a Madeleine L'Engle there, it was easy to smile and say, yes, of course, I was naturally reading The Dark Is Rising at Christmas; or else And Both Were Young was obviously a late spring book. But to look at many of them at once...that was right before I discovered fantasy and science fiction as grown-up genres, and if you think I read a lot of books now, imagine if all of them were children's books. All of them. I didn't read any slower than I do now, and I probably read more total hours in a day. Which means that there were some pretty staggering monthly book totals.

Not this month. This month is crazy. I have to keep reminding myself that all these people are here, because they live here. Well, many of them do. (Had lunch with Dad today and Sarah and Jeff yesterday, and they don't live here.) And the tasks...some of them will be here tomorrow and next week and next month, and some really do need to get taken care of today. Setting priorities is a major issue around here.

Right now, the priority is dinner. More tomorrow. Like, two story sales. Right. I'll tell you soon.

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