Eight Long Weeks

The past eight weeks, since we rolled home from our Lake Superior odyssey, have been a test.  Two months away from home means a glut of yardwork and housework. Everything looks neglected.  Then, we got dumped on, with over two feet of snow before Thanksgiving (which, sadly has melted and has not been replaced.)

The best news of the past two months is that John’s folks have moved from their home 40 miles from us into an independent living apartment just five miles across town.  They’ve got a tidy, bright two-bedroom apartment in a complex where they’ve got community meal service, housekeeping, and plenty of activities to keep them involved, should they wish.  Today was moving day, and it was an ordeal for Frank, Verna, and Aunt Alice (as Jezzy refers to their gorgeous cat).  We’re so happy that they no longer have to drive, that they can turn the heat, and ignore (for the most part) snow piling up in streets and driveways.  No more yard maintenance, which is a big chore when you’re in your 90’s.  I’ve learned a lesson about dealing gracefully with stress – the Crankshaws were so calm in the teeth of the storm today.  What an awesome family.

My part of this was to provide lunch and a bit of moving muscle.  To punch up the celebration, I ordered a cake from my friend Kirsten’s custom baking business.  omg……what a treat.  This was a dense pistachio olive oil cake, studded with raspberries.  Served with a dollop of whipped cream, its slightly crispy top and dense interior…..I have to stop thinking about it.

So, that’s been the big focus of the past two months.  Here’s the rest….

As always happens when we come home after living in a compact space that has everything we need to comfortably sustain us, I’ve been on a rampage of household crap reduction.  This time, we’ve finally made a dent in the mountain of crap in which we reside.  John’s sold dozens of items on ebay, and nearly every day brings a trip to the post office to ship off some bicycle part or unused tool to a new home.  Truckloads of small household items and clothes have been carted off to Goodwill.  It’s liberating to clean out whole corners of the basement, and see a bit of floor space open up in the garage.  Gone is our enormous stand mixer and all the attachments that came from John’s break-baking days.  Gone are two fiberglass Herman Miller chairs.  Gone are dishes, utensils, spare camping gear and endless stuff.  The amount of sheer stuff we have is ridiculous.

Gone also are the ugly mini-blinds that have (dis)graced the windows of many rooms in our house.  They’ve been here since I moved in 21 years ago.  Finally!  New shades in three rooms.  Can’t believe how great it looks.

Gone (sadly) is our old furnace.  A service call resulted in the discovery of two cracks in the heat exchanger.  Cracks = carbon monoxide leaks.  Not gonna live with that!  So, last week we had a new 96% efficiency furnace installed.  We should see about a 20%+ reduction in our monthly gas bill, which will be very welcome.

While we were waiting for the new furnace, our dishwasher sprung a leak from deep in the inner bowels somewhere.  Don’t mistake me for a gal who will willingly hand-wash dishes.  Nope!  New dishwasher will be installed Monday.  We need to sell more stuff.  Furnace + diswasher+ blinds  >> income from selling crap.  This equation just doesn’t balance!

What’s the good news?  I got a small package in the mail this week (from Santa!)  It was full of shiny oblong orange-y looking things.  Kumquats! wpid-20141213_224806.jpg What??  It dawned on me that Cozybegone, a blog I religiously follow, had recently had mentioned kumquats. I commented, asking about them, as they’re a taste I’m unfamiliar with.  Well, Carla tracked me down (scary that it’s so easy for someone who doesn’t know you to find your home address) and sent me a box of kumquats and pecans to sample.  While I still can’t get John to try one, since he apparently saw the surprised look on my face when I popped one into my mouth, I’m liking the bitter, then sweet rush, they provide.  Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus.

Caroline and I cycled out to see my mini-donkey/horse buddies a couple of weeks ago.  Yep, he’s still there, and as curious as ever.20141130_124127We chatted with the owner for a few minutes, and gleaned this fact about donkeys.  They have a reputation for being stubborn, but that really is untrue.  In order to be compliant, they need to trust.  The owner assured us that she could get her donkeys to jump off a cliff if she instructed them to do so, because they trust her. The image of donkey basketball games with balky animals refusing to trot downcourt is all due to a lack of trust.

Hey, is than an iphone?  Android?  Oh, let me see???20141130_123613This is Skip (I called him Billy Idol).  He really wanted to get up close and personal!

Other than this bike ride, I’ve been a huge couch potato since we got home in mid-October.  Gained about eight pounds, which are not pretty.  (On the plus side, I’ve read a huge number of wonderful books!).  Had my annual physical this week, and was terrified to face the doctor.  I need a motivator to get off my butt!  Garmin Vivofit is the machine for the job.  It’s a wearable, electronic pedometer, which connects to my computer and phone.  It tracks my steps, mileage, and caloric output and gives me some neat reports as to how I’m doing.  Silly as it may sound, it does motivate me – I’m super-competitive, and the thought of missing an easily achievable goal just isn’t going to happen.  I’ve had it for under two weeks.  Here’s my best day so far, in steps.  Actually, it was my first full day.20141204_220545The reports I see look something like this (on my phone)….this is the first four days.wpid-screenshot_2014-12-11-22-31-25.pngHere’s my week so far….wpid-screenshot_2014-12-13-23-18-01.pngJezzy has been a beneficiary of the Vivofit.  She’s my walking buddy, although she often hesitates and looks longingly at our street as we pass by to make just one more lap around the block.  We’ll be ready for hiking in the Southwest, soon.  Bring it!

So, we’ve hauled the Fireball out of storage, and are preparing to depart for Las Vegas on December 22, the day after the Crankshaw family Christmas celebration.  For the first time (ever, I think), my entire family will be together to celebrate a holiday.  Not exactly Christmas, but kinda.  We’ll gather at my sister Gail and Dan’s home in Vegas, sister Lynn and Jerry will come up from Green Valley, and my only nephew Mark, along with Tatsumi, Erin, and Shaw will come in from California.  We are all excited.  Not Christmas, but Christmas-ish.  I can’t wait.

After the holidays, we plan to move around Arizona, camping for the month of January.  There are loads of interesting State Parks we haven’t visited – trails to ride and hike every day.  The Vivofit will get a workout.  We stay in one spot for February in Green Valley (AZ), then hit the road again on March 1.  Our road bikes are Fed-Exing their way to AZ already, and the mountain bikes will be in the truck with us.  Boots and backpacks are ready to go.

So, thanks for letting me get this all off my chest.  Merry Christmasish to all of you.  Be safe and happy.  Next post will come along the road (somewhere).