Moving Forward, Moving

June 25, 2017

Yesterday was a tiring day, spent mostly on the phone and computer. I’ve never liked shopping, I’ve always been extremely anxious spending money, and I fray under time pressure. This building experience has combined all three factors.

Normally when I am making any sort of purchase I do hours of careful research, reading reviews, weighing advantages and disadvantages against my limited budget, getting outside opinions. When it comes to money, I am the opposite of impulsive. I have zero gambler in me. (I feel sick just walking past the busy slot machines in the Reno, NV airport.)

So, although of course I’m aware how very privileged I am to be worrying about toilets, hall lights, and cabinet pulls, the need to make a dozen expensive decisions on the fly — without weeks of information-gathering! — has felt exhausting.

DH has had a grueling work schedule and leaves for Manhattan at dawn tomorrow. He wanted to help pack in his small way. He stopped where I was working at the computer and asked innocently, “Where at the farm should I put my climbing gear?”

So little is finished at the farm that there is no obvious place to put anything. For several days I have been trying to figure out the choreography — if this can be moved then that can take its place — while not impinging on the construction and painting operations that are going full bore in every room, including the basement and stairwells (both sets of stairs must be installed this week). I have not yet come up with a plan, and the clock is ticking. Somehow, yesterday, dealing with lists and lists, DH’s little question was the straw that broke me.

“I have no idea!” I wailed.

DH was understandably alarmed. “I’ll just put things in the cabin,” he said hastily, patting my shoulder.

The good news is that Home Depot has a fabulous Customer Service department, just as kind and helpful as the people in the store. They apologized profusely for their online errors, they are shipping the correct toilets to me for free, and they gave me a $75 discount on each toilet for my trouble. Moreover, I found the inexpensive floor tile on their website along with the matching non-slip pieces.


*   *   *

Today a couple is coming to tour this house so I must clean for an hour and at least stack our boxes neatly.

But first I will run down to check on Moxie, now huge with calf. Last night her progress out of the barn was so slow and stately (despite her limp), I wanted to call out, “Take her to sea, Mr. Murdoch!”


Tired, Discouraged, A Little Panicky

June 24, 2017

The headline says it all.

Still no calf. Yesterday I drove to Vermont to pick up the replacement toilets. I hated to burn the day, but that would be another big thing on my list to cross off.

Home Depot had the toilets waiting. I opened the boxes with a nice young male attendant and found one was smashed. Oh, well, I thought. We will still have two ready for our move in a week. As I processed the reorder, with the broken toilet on the counter, my eye happened to fall on the inscription on the box: 10-inch rough. (This refers to the distance from the wall to the center of the rough opening in the floor for the toilet pipe.) The online specifications for this toilet said they were 12-inch. I had checked this meticulously.

All of the toilets, including the broken one, were the wrong size.

I wanted to rub my fists in my eyes like a tired toddler and fall on the floor shrieking. Instead I handed over my credit card to have my money refunded, numbly got in my truck, and drove home.

We move in six days. Time is running out. A great many things are not working out. I am starting to feel overwhelmed.

Today I have to tend to Moxie (will this be the day?), move the sheep, deal with financial papers, get boxes, and pack my office. I need to reorder toilets. I need to count and order kitchen cabinet pulls. I need to choose and order a kitchen sink. I need to order bathroom floor tiles (the inexpensive ones I chose from Lowe’s don’t work because there are no matching non-slip pieces). I need to decide on and order vanities and sinks (the cabinet person has gone on two different vacations — do I ditch her and call someone else?) I need to choose and order hall lights, bedroom fan lights, and porch lights. I need to choose bathroom paint colors. I need to choose the exterior white paint.

These are a lot of decisions to make.  I hate doing it under intense time pressure. Today I woke up at 2:15 AM in a panic.

Meanwhile last week I realized that my decision to stain the mudroom the color of the apartment trim was a mistake. In my hurry I had not thought it through. More on this problem another day, but it means that in the back of my mind I’m worrying about potential solutions.

At the same time, my lovely builder Nick realized that he had forgotten the farm sink in the mudroom. Back in February he had allowed the electrician to move the electrical panel in the basement to a location that means water pipes cannot be run above it. I am trying to stay calm.

There is a yellow jacket nest in the tall weeds under the apartment deck. So that men from the fuel company can work on piping for the gas stove, I need to weedwhack the area and kill the yellow jackets.

Such is my mood, this seems the easiest and most straightforward task of the day.


The Never-Ending Story

June 23, 2017

Here is Moxie last night before I turned the cattle out. Still no calf. Her bag is so swollen she can hardly walk or lie down.

Last night thunder boomed in long drum rolls, lightning cracked, and rain lashed the windows. I woke up and figured, now will be the time. We shall see. I’ll head to the farm after I walk the dogs.

Fetching Furniture

June 22, 2017

Here is Moxie’s expression yesterday morning at 6:30 AM. “Who, me? Calve?”

Here is her udder, swollen and hanging below her hocks, when she limped into the barn for the day. Surely it can’t get much bigger?

But since there was no immediate milk fever crisis at hand I decided to jump in the truck and head to Connecticut.

Early this spring Jon and Amanda began driving all over Connecticut, picking up furniture bargains I found on Craigslist. After thirty years in faculty housing DH and I owned no furniture apart from a couple of beds and two dozen bookcases, so we needed a lot. Connecticut options seemed to be nicer, more available, and less expensive than those I saw in the Adirondacks. Amanda and Jon were kindly willing to lend a hand.

First up, appropriately, was a dresser and mirror for their room. This is a solid piece, extremely cheap due to a couple of chipped and scratched drawers. I think I will be able to repair the two chips and hide the scratches.

Jon and Amanda were able to get both the dresser and the mirror into their Explorer and safely home to their garage.

(I asked them to document their trips so I could enjoy them vicariously.)

Next up was a dresser for DH and me. This one came with not only a mirror but a matching nightstand.

I like this dresser. It reminds me of the furniture I grew up with. It is a knock-off of an expensive piece, but still heavy, decently made, and, second-hand — cheap. Jon was dubious that they could fit both the dresser and nightstand in the car.

But with squishing and Amanda’s finely-tuned packing ability, they succeeded!

On another trip they picked up a dresser I found for Lucy. It was the heaviest yet, in white cottage beadboard style, exactly what Lucy wanted. (Sadly, no photo — we’ll have to wait to see it in the room.) In an amazing stroke of luck, a few days later I found the matching nightstand up here in the Adirondacks.

Finally, they picked up a set of six ladderback chairs to go with the dining room table I had previously bought in Vermont.

Yesterday I drove to Connecticut to fetch it all (except Lucy’s dresser and a couple of the chairs, which Amanda had brought up on her recent solo visit). When I saw their packed garage I worried that we couldn’t fit everything in the truck, but with some climbing around, adjustments, and clever repositioning, we succeeded. Jon and I were damp with sweat by the time we had the tailgate safely latched.

It was wonderful to spend a quick hour with the kids over lunch. I am so grateful for their hard work traipsing around Connecticut to get all these things for our home. I dream of lots of happy family times in this house.

Thank you, Amanda and Jon!

It was a whirlwind 12-hour trip. DH had baked a frozen pizza and was just pulling it out of the oven when I got home in time for a late supper at 8:30 PM.

And… still no calf!

Kitchen Starting

June 21, 2017

When the kitchen was first painted, I worried. Was the yellow too mustard? Did it actually look green in certain lights? I tried to hush the Worrier in My Brain. Lucy had wanted a yellow and white kitchen and my goal was to make it happen.

A few days ago Nick started to put up the cabinets.

Naturally, that made me nervous, too. I’d chosen a line I’d never heard of (Wellborn) and I’d chosen MDF doors for inexpensive practicality. I devoutly hoped this had not been a mistake.

Nick has been working at night. In the early mornings before barn chores, before the men arrive, I walk around and inspect the progress.

I think the cabinets are going to be fine. They don’t look like expensive cabinets because they are not. But they will be great for us.

We are due to move in nine days. There is so much work still to be done on the house, so much choosing, purchasing, and picking up still to be done by me, and I’ve barely started packing our things in the lake house. Can it all really happen in time? Stay tuned.

 *   *   *  

As of last night, Moxie still had not calved! I’m pulling on my Carhartts and heading down to check on her now.

Can’t Flag Now

June 20, 2017

I have driven to Vermont five times in the last ten days. In addition to my toilet misadventures, I have been furnishing the house from Craigslist and yard sales. I’ve driven many twisty rural roads, seen some spectacular views, and met a number of kind and friendly people.

Given that our budget is depleted and we will be moving in ten days, I’ve picked up some items that are not my style (which is old-fashioned). However I have purchased a bed, sofas, dressers, nightstands, a table, dining room chairs, living room chairs, and rugs for a total of $1500 and it’s all clean and sturdy. Though some of it isn’t the look I love, I think everything will be fine, at least for the first year. I keep remembering the wise words of my brother-in-law, Don: “Just get the house.”

Today would be a great day to rest and re-group. (Tomorrow I am due to drive to Connecticut to pick up the Craigslist items that Amanda and Jon kindly purchased there on my behalf.) However my lists — cabinet pulls? ceiling fans? kitchen lights? bathroom vanities? shower floor tiles? remember to get more liquor store boxes in town for packing! — woke me at 2:30 AM . . . and I’m fatalistic that Moxie may choose today to calve.

I can’t flag now. There’s too much to do. I remind myself that in a month this tired time will be a blur.

Still No Calf

June 19, 2017

Moxie is hugely engorged, the ligaments around her tail have relaxed and sloped away, and she can hardly walk due to limping on her right hind leg. Again last night when I returned from Vermont I debated what to do. She had not eaten all day. She was frantic when I let the Terrible Teens out for the evening but kept her in.

Finally I let her out, also — but immediately regretted it. She did not graze (my purpose in letting her out of the safety of her stall), but simply stood cocking her bad leg so no weight rested on it. I chewed my nails.

Ten minutes later we were in a terrible thunderstorm with lashing rain. I tried to shoo her back in, meanwhile armed with a pitchfork to protect me from Mel, the bull, but she staggered further away instead.  Finally I gave up. I am  tired. I have driven to Vermont four times in the past week and have to go back today. It’s all for a good purpose but the long days on the road are wearing me down.

I drove down to the farm in the night but couldn’t see anything in the dark. I’m finishing my coffee and heading back now.