Sunday, September 30, 2007

House hunting report

We may have found our new home in Jonesboro.
Well, not quite in Jonesboro. About 5 minutes north of the city limits.
We spent yesterday looking at houses - I think it was seven or eight of them - and really really like this one. We're going out again this morning to look at a few more, but we will probably make an offer on this one. It has three bedrooms, two on the right end and the master bedroom on the back of the left end of the house, a fenced backyard for the dogs, a screened back porch and a concrete pad perfect for a hot tub, an unfinished "bonus" room upstairs over the garage (the upstairs window on the left end), and a garage that will accommodate two cars and two motorcycles.
The owners have been trying to sell it for about two years, but have had no success because their price is unrealistically high. We hope to inject some reality into their thinking and give them a chance to move on.
We also looked at an amazing little house yesterday that is like a museum of early 1950s kitsch. The couple who lived there - Mr. and Mrs. Trickey (really) - had much the same tastes as my parents, so the place felt strangely familiar.
Mr. Trickey built a huge, two-story playhouse in the back yard for his grandchildren that included a working kitchen and bathroom, with shower.
Here are some photos from it.

The Trickey grandkids' playhouse.

The playhouse upstairs bedroom.

The playhouse shower - smaller than a phone booth.

The fully equipped playhouse kitchen.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Welcome home!

The staff of our Realtor's office welcoming the 875th Engineer Battalion home from Iraq where they spent a year disarming IEDs.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The goldfinch has landed

Maria's K75S in front of her/our temporary home in Jonesboro.
I guessed early today that I'd arrive about 4:30 p.m. I was off by about 12 minutes.
The Sargent seat isn't as nice as the BMW Comfort Seat on my K1200GT, but it wasn't awful,either.
Aside from the chilly start, the weather for the ride down here was perfect. It was a warm, but not oppressive, 82 degrees when I rode down through southeastern Missouri and into Arkansas.
The bike performed flawlessly and delivered something like 44 or 45 miles/gallon. I stopped at Boomland for my final fill-up and savored the last 110 or so miles to Jonesboro. Since I'm leaving the bike here with BMW friends, this will likely be my last ride of the year of any consequence. I hate to end my riding season before October, but that's just how it goes.
I did a test of the GrandCentral phone system, dialing the local Jonesboro number I had chosen and, sure enough, my cell phone rang. Moments later I found myself talking with Maria's son Austin. I'd forgotten that he would probably pick up the phone at home when it rang simultaneously with my cell phone. Just as well. He confirmed that the dogs are OK and all is well at Pearlsend.
So now I'm just hanging out, waiting for Maria to get home from work: sort of a preview of our life in Arkansas.

Feeding time in Farina

Lunch at a Subway in Farina, Ill. It warmed up around Champaign and I'm ready to shed the windstopper pullover.
Back on the road with a full tank and a full stomach.

Wasting time in Pontiac

I'm at the world's slowest McDonald's, waiting for a cup of coffee, en route to Jonesboro.
Mostly, I stopped to warm up. The temp is in the 50s and my warm weather gear is not quite enough. Shoulda worn the electric jacket liner.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

On Safari

My son Steve e-mailed me earlier this week to say he'd installed Apple's Safari browser on his Windows PC and was impressed with how fast it loads pages, especially compared with Firefox. He also likes the fact that Safari is less vulnerable to malware.
So I downloaded a copy - it's free - and took it for a spin. I use Internet Explorer and I think Safari is a bit faster. Even though I'm using it right now on a Mac at the newspaper office, I sill feel more comfortable on IE because I haven't yet figured out how to use all of Safari's features to the extent that I can with IE.
I have a copy of Firefox on my home PC, but I rarely use it. The best thing about Firefox, as far as I'm conceerned, is the Thunderbird e-mail client that comes with it. I think e-mail is the biggest malware threat and most of it is written for Microsoft's Outlook and Outlook Express, so I feel a bit more secure getting my e-mail with Thunderbird. I run it with images turned off, since bad code can hide in jpegs and gifs.

Basic flashback


I was rooting through the top drawer of my dresser this afternoon, searching for a compass to take to Maria when I ride down to Jonesboro tomorrow. She's doing a great job of learning the new town, but sometimes has trouble keeping track of which way is north. We talked about getting her a GPS unit, but she didn't want to become dependent upon it and thought it might interfere with the geographic learning process.
Like a lot of guys - my dad included - my top dresser drawer has become kind of a museum or repository for odd/neat/semi-valuable stuff.
I'm writing this at work, but operating from memory I can tell you some of the contents:
A collection of BMW rally patches
A small ziploc bag of wheat-back pennies
Several pairs of sunglasses
A couple of silk pocket handkerchiefs
A current issue German paratrooper gravity knife
At least three packages of dental floss
A couple of packages of accordian fold wallet windows
Expired library cards from Tipton and Carmel, Ind.
A box that belonged to my first father-in-law, that has a cribbage board on the top. It contains a couple of receipts for his tuition at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from 1939 and 1940, as well as a couple of tickets to a Detroit Tigers baseball game of that period
Two packs of reproduction WWII aircraft recognition playing cards from the Smithsonian Institution
A Polaroid color photo of my son Sean, aged about 5, in his fuzzy blue pajamas with the feet in them.
A 1970s Indiana State Fair press pass
A telephone recording device
A bottle of black ink
A photocopy of the after-action report filed by Col. Paul Tibbetts when he returned to Tinian after dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
Some 1890s picture postcards of scenes around Indianapolis
A street map of Munich
A Zippo lighter
A big brass belt buckle from my Transcendental Meditation period that says "Jai Guru Dev"
A couple of small flashlights
A Universal Geneve wristwatch, circa 1944, that belonged to my first father-in-law
Several strands of Mardi Gras beads
Various keychains, some with keys to God knows what
A partial box of .45 ACP ammunition
About a dozen Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity decals
A handful of BMW rally pins
Several packs of matches from Nepenthe in Big Sur
An ID button from my 40th anniversary high school reunion
A bandanna from the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America national rally in Rhinelander, NY
A stick of Vietnam era cammo makeup
A small sack of various U.S. Army insignia and Vietnamese coins
Canadian $1 and $2 coins (one each)
Miscellaneous buttons and collar stays
A postchard from the Dachau concentration camp in Germany
A press pass for the premiere of the movie 2010
A 5x7 abscract tempra painting I did when I was a college freshman
A Nikon point-and-shoot film camera with panorama feature
A BMW motorcycle tire gauge that doesn't work but is too cool to throw away
A set of defense and prosecution evidence stickers from a courtroom
A farewell letter from the faculty sponsor of the Indiana State University student newspaper when I worked there
And the point of this post: my U.S. government-issued pocket notebook from Air Force basic training. I've reproduced here the page that shows the proper arrangement of an Airman Basic's footlocker lower section. I have no idea if they still use footlockers in the military, but this is how the bottom level was to be arranged for inspection in 1965.
Yes, 42 years ago today, I was in my fourth day of basic training at Lackland Air Force Base at San Antonio, Texas. By this time, we'd had our 75-cent haircuts and been issued our duffelbag full of uniform items. Staff Sgt. Maxie, our drill sergeant, recognized my leadership abilities and put me in charge of the upper bay (second floor) latrine with a crew of five or six at my command. It was my first and only command, since I went home on a medical (allergies) discharge after 41 days of military service.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Jonesing for Jonesboro

Weather and other circumstances permitting, I'm off to Jonesboro Friday morning. Two weeks is about as long as I care to be away from Maria at one time and I get the impression she feels the same way.

Maria's son Austin will stay here to dog-sit while I ride Maria's K75S the 475 or so miles to Jonesboro with a planned arrival about the time Maria gets off work for the weekend.

This will be the longest ride either of us has taken on the K75S. I'm curious to see how the custom Sargent seat feels after nine hours of riding. I'd better pack some aspirin, because I think it's going to get pretty uncomfortable by the time I get into southern Illinois.

I'm less than happy over being without a motorcycle after this weekend, but there's always the option of driving down to Arkansas to go for a ride as long as the autumn weather holds there. Our bikes will be in the care of a pillar of the BMW motorcycling community, the guy who coordinates the BMW Riders of the Mid-South's "Return to Shiloh" rally near Savannah, Tenn.

My old Indianapolis News compadre, Skip, has graciously agreed to retrieve me and plans to drive down Sunday, staying over until we head out for Indiana on Monday morning.

In the meantime, I'm making a bit of progress on getting our house ready for the market.

Our fix-it guy is bringing a floor-covering man here tomorrow afternoon to take measurements in the kitchen and elsewhere and to work up cost estimates and various options for replacing the dog-damaged kitchen vinyl and stairway Berber carpet, as well as the hideous rose carpet in the master bedroom and office and the ratty tan carpet in the upstairs bathroom.



It's hard to believe this was less than a year ago: My bike (on the left) and Maria's in our former garage. They'll be together again soon in Arkansas.

Monday, September 24, 2007

One number that rings all your phones

I just signed up as a beta tester for GrandCentral, an innovative signage_logophone system that sends incoming calls to all of your phones.

Here's their description:

What is GrandCentral?

Get all the same calls, but in a whole new way.

GrandCentral doesn't replace your phones; we just link them together and help them do more. How do we do that? We give people One Number...for LifeTM - a number that's not tied to a phone or a location - but tied to you.

With GrandCentral, you can be reached with a single number, answer a call at any phone you want, seamlessly switch phones in the middle of a call, and even know whether a call is important before you take it.

What else can I do with GrandCentral?

We're not your typical phone company. And these aren't your typical features.
  • Check your messages by phone, email, or online
  • Keep all your messages online for eternity
  • Record and store your phone calls (just like voicemail)
  • Quickly (and secretly) block an annoying caller
  • Click-to-dial from your address book
  • Surprise your callers with a custom voicemail greeting
  • Forward, download, and add notes to your messages

I heard about GrandCentral on a Leo Laporte podcast a month or two ago and requested an invitation. It came this weekend and I finally took the time this afternoon to activate my free account, using a Jonesboro, Ark., number, since that's where I expect to be soon and it might as well be a local call for folks there.

You can sign up for an invitation here.

Sign-ups get to forward invitations to 10 other people and I've sent them to my sons, their wives and a handful of friend who I think might find it useful.

Honoring a hometown hero



A new monument for Spc. Joey Strong was dedicated on Saturday at the Maple Lawn Cemetery here in Thorntown. I can see it from my bedroom window.

Strong was the first Boone County soldier to die in Iraq. He drowned last Dec. 26 when his Humvee overturned in a water-filled ditch.Photo_092407_007

I covered the graveside services in early January and was surprised this morning to discover that his grave has been moved to a less crowded area on the east side of the cemetery.

Here are some views of the work done by the Allen Monument Co. of Crawfordsville. The photoengraving work is stunningly crisp and vivid. I hope it holds up well in the weather out here on the west central Indiana prairie.

The Patriot Guard Riders turned out to provide an honor guard for the occasion. I would have been there if I hadn't already contracted to photograph a wedding.



Sunday, September 23, 2007

Trophy sweep!

The Hoosier State Press Association awards won by the Journal Review advertising/composing staff. Amazing!

What, me worry?


Map image

Russellville, Jonesboro and (upper right) New Madrid.

Just when I was starting to calm down over my concerns about moving into the heart of the New Madrid Fault earthquake zone, I discovered this morning that our new home in Jonesboro, Ark., is downwind from a nuclear power plant.

Reactors designated Arkansas 1 and Arkansas 2 are in operation at Russellville, Ark., which is about 100 miles west-southwest of Jonesboro and about 200 miles southwest of New Madrid, Mo., the epicenter of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in the United States.

Depending upon who you choose to believe, the next "big one" could happen today or not for another 400 years. Since the last series of major quakes there were in 1811 and 1812, I prefer the 400-year scenario. But just about everyone agrees it's a matter of when, not if.newmadridzone

A BBC website refers to the Russellville nuclear power plants as among the most dangerous in the U.S., but there is no supporting information or attribution for that statement and I haven't been able to corroborate it in any of my internet searches. Arkansas 1 went online in December, 1974 and Arkansas 2 started producing electrical power in March, 1980.

A nuclear power plant in Japan, one of the largest in the world, rode out a major earthquake with only a minor radiation leak. Experts believe, however, it will take several months to get the plant back online.

My reading suggests Russellville is far enough removed from the epicenters of the 1811-1812 quakes that a well-designed and well-maintained nuclear facility there could survive a quake of 7.1.

Emergency management personnel from throughout the region participated in a simulated major earthquake exercise last June. The Russellville facilities were not included in the exercise, which I hope means nobody thinks they're at risk. At least not from earthquake. There's always that human error thing and also the outside chance of a terrorist attack.

Of course I have to balance this against the knowledge that there is no such thing as "absolutely safe." I obviously accept this premise, since I ride motorcycles. And it is the nature of life that nobody gets out alive.

So I'll suck it up, put on a happy face and continue house-shopping in Jonesboro. But you can bet your ass it will be a frame house and that the water heater will be secured to the wall.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Napoleon Dynamite

I shot what will almost certainly be my last wedding in Indiana today.

Since Maria is in Arkansas, I was ably assisted by Shaylan Owen.

It was a relatively easy gig: We arrived at the church about napoleon039 a.m. and shot the groom and bride getting ready, the ceremony was at 11:30 a.m. and the reception ended about 3:50 p.m. It was a whole lot easier than the grueling 12-hour weddings Maria and I have come to napoleon01expect.

As the reception was winding down, we noticed a young boy - we were told he had just started middle school - dancing like a pro. He had an astonishing repertoire of moves and he did them all well. Sorta reminded us of Napoleon Dynamite.

Here are three of about 50 frames I shot of his dancing.napoleon02

Somebody said he was the only kid in middle school to win a part in the high school musical. No surprise there.

Lauri and Shaylan rule!


Our friends Lauri and Shaylan at the Journal Review composing department kicked ass last night at the Hoosier State Press Association advertising awards contest in Indianapolis.

Needless to say, we're enormously proud of them. They're real pros. Sadly, yesterday was Shaylan's last day at the JR. He starts Monday at the Bloomington paper.

Here's the tally:

Best Creative Designer:

1st Shaylan Owen

3rd Lauri Shillings

Best Color Ad

2nd Shaylan Owen

Best Black & White Ad

2nd Shaylan Owen

3rd Shaylan Owen

Best Auto Dealer Ad

1st Lauri Shillings

Best Classified Ad

2nd Lauri Shillings

3rd Lauri Shillings

Best Misc Black & White Ad

1st Shaylan Owen

2nd Lauri Shillings

Best Small Space

1st Shaylan Owen

Best Multiple Advertiser Page

1st Lauri Shillings (Face of Remembrance)

Best Community Wide Special Section

1st Side Effects

2nd Directory

Best Targeted Section

1st Montgomery County Cooks!

Best In-Paper Promotion

1st Shaylan Owen, Candid

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Vectren Budget Plan Hell

I've wasted about an hour this morning trying to tell the natural gas utility that we want off of their budget plan.

The budget plan spreads your energy costs across an entire year of billing. It can be a good thing because it helps customers avoid crippling gas bills during the coldest months of the year.

That's why I signed up for it last fall, using Vectren Energy Delivery's website. It worked out nicely and kept our cash flow between the guardrails.

I've gone on and off the budget plan in previous years, switching back and forth with the seasons. In previous years, I merely wrote "Cancel Budget Plan" on my bill and that was sufficient. The next month's bill would reflect the current usage, rather than be calculated on an estimate based on Vectren's guesses about how severe the winter would be and how much they might have to pay for natural gas. I also suspect they pad the figure so they can earn interest on the overpayments of their thousands of customers. I wonder if that line item  shows up in the annual report to shareholders.

But it makes no sense for us to start piling up credits for this winter if we plan to sell the house and winter in Arkansas.

So when last month's bill arrived with its stated budget amount of $223, I noted that we were still carrying a credit of about $3 from previous budget plan overpayments. Consequently, I wrote "Cancel Budget Plan" on the bill and sent it back without enclosing a check, since they actually owed me money at that point.

So this month, I got a bill for $452.52: Two months of budget plan payments plus a late fee because I didn't pay the budget amount last month, i.e. they were too dim to read what I had written on the bill and act upon my request.

I went to their website today and spent a considerable amount of time exploring all of the customer options in search of a way to cancel the budget plan for our account.

I finally gave up and called their 800 number. About five layers down through the menus, I reached a vacant-sounding young man named Kevin.

I explained my situation and he responded with, "So you want to cancel your budget plan?"

Duh. Yes, Kevin. That pretty much sums up what I just told you.

Kevin did a few mouse clicks on his computer and announced it was done, but I still owe the late fee.

Fine. Just make it fucking over.

He also confirmed that there is no way to cancel the budget plan on the website or by mail. The only way to do it is to fumble through the 800 number menus and hope you end up talking to a real human. Nice user-friendly system, isn't it, Kevin?

No response.

Of course not. It wasn't in his script.

Still in a pique, I mailed my check for our current usage, plus the improperly assessed late fee with "Cancel Fucking Budget Plan!!!" scrawled across the top of the bill.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What about Ted Nugent for president?


Ted Nugent, rock star and avid bow hunter from Michigan, was being interviewed by a French journalist and animal rights activist. The discussion came around to deer hunting.

The journalist asked, "What do you think is the last thought in the head of a deer before you shoot him? Is it, 'Are you my friend?' or is it 'Are you the one who killed my brother?' "

Nugent replied, "Deer aren't capable of that kind of thinking. All they care about is, 'What am I going to eat next, who am I going to screw next, and can I run fast enough to get away. They are very much like the French.' "

The interview ended at that point., an authoritative source on rumors, hoaxes and urban legends, confirms the story adding Nugent made the comment in a May 2006 interview with British journalist Robert Chalmers for The Independent on Sunday, the expanded Sunday edition of the UK newspaper, The Independent.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

My house from space!

Map image


Hey! I can see my house from here!

This satellite photo, taken at least two years ago, is a pretty decent view of our house. The three maple trees along the driveway south of the house have been cut down and the two garages to the east of the house went away this spring.

Check multiple e-mail accounts easily

I was listening to the Windows Weekly podcast with Paul Thurrott and Leo Laporte while painting the kitchen woodwork a couple of day ago and learned enough about the Windows Live programs to check them out.

Windows Live Mail is probably the most universally useful of the bunch. Like all of the Windows Live programs, it's free and you can get it here. If, like many people, you have more than one e-mail account and find it a hassle to log on to them one at a time to check for e-mail, Windows Live Mail is the/an answer. Just enter the access info for each account and WLM goes out and checks for you on a regular basis, notifying you whenever something pops into one of your inboxes.

Windows Live has a whole bunch of nifty stuff that hardly anyone knows about because the programs are still in the beta testing stage. I'm using one - Windows Live Writer - right now to create this blog post without having to go to and enter my ID and password. Windows Live Writer copies the style from my blog and adds a whole host of WYSIWYG composition features that are unavailable within the Blogger software. And I can post directly from Windows Live Writer to my blog.

You can see the Windows Live Betas here.

Now I have to go paint more woodwork.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Welcome to Arkansas

Today was Maria's first day on the job at her new newspaper. I called her during her lunch break and things seemed to be going fine.

I rode her K75S over to Crawfordsville to deposit a check and have lunch with our friend Lauri. Lauri suggested PODS as a possible alternative to hiring movers to haul our stuff to Arkansas. I checked their website and discovered they don't deliver to Jonesboro. I did find other similar outfits and got a quote from one for about $1,700, which is way less than the conventional movers want to charge. They also charge about $400 a month to have one of their containers parked at our house for loading at our convenience, so maybe this part of the process won't be as financially crippling as I had supposed.

It felt good to get out on two wheelscotton field2 and I think I'll take the bike again when I go back to about 4:30 p.m. to do my editing and proofreading work.

Maria is busy learning all about our new home. Being a farm girl at heart, she was fascinated with the crops there and was particularly excited to see fields of cotton - something you never see in Indiana. She stopped to photograph herself in a cotton field while driving down to Jonesboro on Saturday afternoon and e-mailed me this picture.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Flying solo

I find myself living alone for the first time in more than six years and I have to admit it feels odd.

Maria got to Jonesboro early last evening, called to give me her landline phone number and got her computer set up and connected to the DSL line, so there was an e-mail waiting for me when the dogs barked me awake this morning.

I called Maria from the hot tub this morning and had the phone on speakerphone. Pete recognized her voice because he kept popping his head up over the edge of the tub and looking around for Maria.

I spent a couple of hours this morning painting woodwork in the kitchen and will do another hour or so before I head off to the newspaper later this afternoon. The painting is going slowly, but I think I can get it done in another day or so.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


After a Bob Evans breakfast with me, her parents, her son and his girlfriend, Maria bade us all a tearful goodbye and headed for Arkansas and her new job.
I'm left with the finishing touches on the kitchen paint job and the coordinating of work to get our house ready to market.
This place feels surprisingly empty and lonely this afternoon. I phoned her a few minutes ago as she drove south on I-57 through south-central Illinois. She seemed to be in good spirits, but realized she had forgotten to give me some keys and had gone off without some of her laundry, including all of her clean underwear. No problem. They sell underwear in Jonesboro and she'll enjoy shopping at Dillard's this evening.
I'm glad we spent the last several days watching HGTV off and on and picking up valuable pointers on how to "stage" a house for potential buyers. That, combined with suggestions from our Realtors, makes my task seem a lot less daunting.
Even so, it will be weeks before we're ready to list it.
The dogs have been quiet - almost lethargic - but I expect they'll perk up any minute now when Harold Patterson shows up in his pickup truck to collect the mini-fridge I offered on the BMW Club e-mail list. No takers yet on the 18.5 cubic foot Maytag refrigerator that stands in our driveway.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The fun never stops

We'd dearly love to have lunch today with our friends at the newspaper, but we're up to our elbows in last-minute fixups before Maria flees to Arkansas tomorrow morning.
We're painting the kitchen and waiting for a call from the Subaru dealer to tell us we can come pick up our Forester.
We took it in on Wednesday for an oil change and lube and to find out what the "check engine" light was trying to tell us. It was telling us we had a faulty knock sensor, which is about a $100 item. Later, they called and said we also need a front-end brake job and, oh by the way, our head gasket is leaking and we need a new one.
The work - minus the insanely expensive head gasket job - will be about $700. The service manager opined the car will get Maria to Arkansas and she can have the head gasket replaced there.
Meantime, my '94 Honda del Sol is less than 100 miles from the 200,000-mile mark and seems to be between catastrophic mechanical failures.
And now it's back to work.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nice dog

In the parking lot of the Lafayette Lowe's, where we dropped about $140 on paint and other house fix-up stuff.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Getting Croced

My wife has been wearing Crocs for more than a year and swears by them. She had a lavender pair she wore out and more recently a red pair with the Bernina sewing machine logo.
I've never thought clogs were for me. It looked like it would be too easy to walk right out of something that didn't have a proper back on it. Besides, it looked like a chick shoe to me.
But they've been growing on me. I discovered they originated in Colorado as an all-purpose shoe for whitewater rafters, which gives them credentials as outdoor gear. And they recently introduced some styles that have a more masculine look.
So I took the plunge this evening at the Sportsman's Warehouse in Lafayette, Ind.
The black-and-red Off Road model was the most appealing to me, so I whipped out the plastic and bought a pair.
I've been wearing them around the house for a couple of hours and have to admit they're pretty comfortable for a pair of plastic Chinese-made clogs.

What next?

We slept in later than we should have this morning, then decided to hot tub for a few minutes before plunging back into the work of getting the house ready for showing and sale.
While running water in the kitchen sink to load the coffee maker, we heard the sound of water spashing in the basement - always a bad sign.
We discovered a connection in a PVC pipe from the kitchen sink and dishwasher had let go and was dumping food waste into the sump, creating a hideous stench.
So I called our plumber, only to discover that he is no longer in business for himself and that the firm for which he works is tied up on a big job.
Okay, we'll call the plumbing and heating folks who did our furnace and air conditioning.
But their number has been disconnected.
And our internet just went out, which is how we normally track down phone numbers because it's more current and less cumbersome than the phone book.
I rebooted the router and DSL modem and got the internet back.
Maria finally got in touch with a plumber who will supposedly be here this afternoon.
And in the background of all of this is the fact that 60% of our phones are missing or fucked up.
The cordless that belongs in the kitchen and the cordless that belongs in the master bedroom can't be found because Maria and everyone who shares her DNA can't be bothered to return them to their charging cradles after using them. And the headset that I use on my desk has stopped working. (It was working perfectly when I left for Colorado, BTW...)
So we're left with the wonky desk set phone tethered to a jack in the dining room and the lone cordless that docks on a bookcase in the office.
I'd complain more, but I gotta get back to work because today is in the toilet with two doctors' appointments, taking the Subuaru in for service and the Realtors coming to view and strategize.
I fucking hate this.

Good news: Maria found one of the missing cordless phones under the parlor couch cushions.
Meantime, I'm choking on dust as I clean never-before-dusted regions in the bedroom.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Getting a move on

We've been in a cleaning/packing frenzy since Sunday morning and it looks like this is what the whole week will be like.
Saturday night brought a welcome pause in the chaos when we spent a delightful evening at Lauri and Jim's house in the country with good friends from the newspaper. We even spent time in Lauri's new hot tub, which was dry at the moment. Great food, lots of booze, good friends.
We got so busy today that I completely forgot an appointment with a dermatologist I had scheduled for 7:10 a.m. today. I got it reset for 8:10 a.m. Wednesday.
We closed out our savings account and emptied out the safe deposit box at the local bank and loaded the car up with empty boxes from the grocery store this morning.
Maria just nailed down a temporary home in a little brick house about four blocks from her office. We'll pack up the Subaru Saturday morning and she'll head off on her great adventure while I continue working on the house to get it in shape to show and sell.
I have an appointment with the Subaru dealer to service the car early Wednesday afternoon. The Realtors come at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday to look the house over and map a strategy.
As far as the house we made an offer on is concerned, the owners came back with a counteroffer that our Realtors said is not grounded in reality. If we need to sell the place in less than three years, we'd probably take a loss at that price. So we have not responded to their counteroffer and are letting them twist in the wind. We're feeling surprisingly detached about it. If we get the house at the price we want, we'll go for it. If not, there are other houses.
In the meantime, the focus is on getting as much done here as possible, which includes painting the kitchen and maybe the upstairs porch.
My friend Skip has offered to drive down sometime in the next few weeks while I ride Maria's motorcycle to Jonesboro and then bring me home, which will be a huge help. Weather permitting, maybe we should think about making that trip the middle of next week.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Blending in

Adjusting my wardrobe to fit my new surroundings: a $2.99 camo cap from Boomland, a cheesy general store/gas station/restaurant/fireworks outlet on I-57 near Charleston, Mo.
Made Maria laugh. A lot.

Heading home

Maria at the wheel, rolling north on I-55 through the bootheel of Missouri.
Just got a call from our Realtor saying the sellers' agent was pretty sure his people would reject our offer, but added he'd try to get his people to make a counter-offer. And so the dance begins. What did we do without cell phones?

Still homeless...

Here are some of the houses we've looked at and ruled out, and finally the one on which we made an offer this afternoon. It expires at 5 p.m. tomorrow. We shall see...


We just got pre-approved for mortgage money that is way more than we expect to spend.
Our Realtor called last night to say his sister, who is also in the real estate biz, wants to eyeball our prospective new home to be sure we're not offering too much and that she has one more house for us to view.
We're at the mall right now where Maria is shopping for something to wear because we've run out of clean clothes.
Then we meet the Realtor siblings and, we hope, make an offer and get the hell out of town.
I'll post pics of the new place as soon as we're sure it's the one.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


We're sitting in our Realtor's office making an offer on a house in a wooded area about 5 minutes west of Jonesboro.
We must have looked at about 20 houses in the last two days.
Photos soon.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hiiiiiiii, Honey!

Maria greeting me in the Hampton Inn parking lot.

Real Life

At a McDonald's somewhere in the Ozarks.

Maps & coffee

I'm at Starbucks across from my motel, working out my circuitous route to Jonesboro via mostly U.S. & state roads.
Maria is already on the road and will almost certainly cover a similar distance before me, since it's almost all interstates for her.
Time to load, gas and go.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Topeka, right on time

I guessed I'd get to my motel in Topeka right at sunset and that's exactly what I did.
I noticed a time/temp sign reading 92 as I left Russell, so my temperature guessing is pretty decent too.
I checked in with Maria after unloading the bike and determined our rendezvous point tomorrow in Jonesboro, Ark.
We'll spend tomorrow and part of Wednesday hunting a house and also a place for her to stay when she starts work on the 17th.
I think I did about 650 miles today - nothing spectacular, but a good full day.
Here's my naked bike from my motel room door.

Hot & sweaty in Russell, Kans.

Must be 90+ here. Gas & water & an ice cream sandwich. No sign of Bob or Arlen to greet me.

Let's call it a learning experience

Goodland, Kans. - It's 1 p.m. MDT and I'm having a quick lunch & fuel in Goodland.
I left Alma at 7:30 a.m. I stopped at Georgetown to shed my electric gloves & jacket liner, then at Byers for gas, water and a change into my hot weather gear.
The shorter boots lace and tie, so I put my foot on the right footpeg to tie the lace and, to my horror, the bike came over on me. I fought it all the way down, but there is no stopping a loaded and fuelled K1200GT when it's going down.
Fortunately, a passerby rushed over and helped me get the bike back on its sidestand.
I soon discovered that it's the weight in the oversize right saddlebag that fucks up the equilibrium. The good news is that the oversize bags have a rubber bumper for just such occasions and that spared me a lot of damage.
I ripped off a quick 152 miles to Goodland and now I'm off to Topeka.