You are viewing spiziks

Back on the Mill

Carved Rock
The Great Move stopped my running cold.  With packing, painting, flooring, contracting, unpacking, and everything else, I flatly didn't have time to run once a week, let alone four.

However, now the house is almost completely unpacked.  One of the bedrooms has been designated the exercise room.  In it we have a treadmill, an elliptical, and an assortment of free-standing smaller bits of equipment.  We also have a TV/DVD/DVR in the room because my main obstacle to exercise (after time) is boredom.

Today, I got up and decided the lack of time was over.  I had to get back to running.  So I pulled on exercise clothes, headed downstairs, and powered up the treadmill.

I was ready for some serious pain.  I mean, I hadn't run in two months.  But I did pretty well.  I went slower than usual and didn't quite make my usual five kilometers in the time I set aside to run, but I came close.  I had to slow to a walk for a minute twice.  But I'm not sore, and I was pleased.

So we'll get back into the routine.

The Great Marriage

Several months ago, my cousin Mark called with some double-whammy news.  First, he was getting married, and second, he wanted me to officiate.

Whoa!  I mean, I never thought Mark would get married.

Although I've been a Wiccan priest and elder for years, I've never been officially ordained.  At one point, Kala and I looked into getting our group recognized as an official church, but the hoops were enormous, the costs were high, and the IRS looks at you funny if you have a tiny group, so we didn't pursue it.  I've overseen a number of unofficial handfastings, but an official wedding required official credentials.

Fortunately, the Internet provides for all.  It was easy enough to get ordained on-line.  (The place where I did it ordains you for free, but makes its money selling you books of ritual, clergy ID cards, and other paraphenalia. Well, everyone needs to make a living.)  And then it was discussions about the structure of the ceremony and various wordings and other such things.

I also needed a suit.  I haven't owned one since 1990 (!).  So Darwin hauled me to a men's clothing store and made me buy two suits, a spiffy gray suit with a purple dress shirt, and a stylish blue one with a red dress shirt.  I would wear the gray for the ceremony.

The big drama surrounded my voice.  I had strained it a week earlier, and simply couldn't get it back.  I couldn't speak above a murmur.  I stayed home from work for two days, resting it, but I remained hoarse.  But by Friday afternoon, the day before the wedding, it had returned to near full strength.  Thank heavens!

The day before the ceremony, we drove out to Grand Rapids and spent the night at a hotel.  In the morning, we headed down to the county park where the wedding was to take place.  Yes, Mark and his fiancee Tamara had decided to have an outdoor wedding in Michigan in late October.  Dearie, dearie me.  The trees were spectacularly, fireworky colorful, but the weather was chilly and threatened to rain.  We met in a lodge house for breakfast and set up chairs in a stone pavilion built in 1926.  We were supposed to hold the wedding rehearsal next, and the women had hair appointments at 11:00, but people weren't heading up to the pavilion.  As the officiant (and the guy who was running the rehearsal), I finally boomed, "We're rehearsing up at the pavilion in FIVE MINUTES.  If you aren't at the pavilion in FIVE MINUTES, you won't be in the wedding."

And everyone got moving.

I had to do the same thing up at the pavilion.  "We starting RIGHT NOW, everyone.  I teach ninth graders, so don't worry--I know what I'm doing.  You stand here, you stand there, the bridesmaids will enter here.  Go slowly so people can see you."  And so on.  Fortunately, everyone knows what happens at a wedding anyway, so we just needed to make sure everyone knew where to stand and when to enter.

Then it was lunch and getting dressed.  As people arrived to be seated, Darwin asked if I was getting nervous.

"Not yet," I said.  "Ask just before the ceremony."

The ceremony itself finally began, and it went enormous well.  I wasn't nervous in the slightest, as it turned out, but I stand up in front of an audience of freshmen every day at work, so a bunch of wedding guests is nothing.  Just before the vows, Tamara started leaking tears.  Mark's face was absolute stone.  I leaned over and said, "Mark's going to cry first."

"No, he isn't," she half-croaked.

I shot Mark a look.  "Yes, he is."

And then Mark totally lost it.  Red eyes, tears, sniffly nose.  Behind him, my brother Paul (his best man) was trying to hide the fact that he was crying, too.  I was actually afraid, as someone who was also emotionally invested in the wedding, that I would lose it, too--how bad would it be if the minister cracked during the wedding?--but aside from one tiny moment during the welcoming, I was fine.

And then it was the reception at the lodge house, with dancing and hijinks and food.  And an epic cleanup afterward.

Now Mark and Tamara are enjoying wedded bliss forever!

We're Done! (Mostly)

The packing is done!  Well, mostly.  90%.

Yesterday, Darwin and I tackled the garage, the last bastion of moving awfulness.  Boxes and garage stuff and misplaced materials were just tossed in there, creating a pile of junk that made both of us unhappy and tense every time we needed to go in there for something.  In addition, we have three large pieces of furniture and a dryer out there, eating up precious space.  Bleah!

We hauled everything out into the driveway to sort and clean and figure out where stuff should go.  We removed the pedestel from the garage dryer and installed it on the dryer in the house.

My mother and her husband Gene happened to be in the neighborhood for another event and they stopped by, so we paused for a very nice visit.  They hadn't seen the house yet, and with the exception of the (now even worse) garage, the house was in a condition to show people.  Yay!  They oooed at the basement, which very strangely is the showpiece of the house and where Aran has his room and bathroom.  (He calls it "my apartment.")  Because the house can seat twelve people before we even break out the folding tables, we said we'd like to host Thanksgiving this year.

Mom pumped a fist.  "Yes!"

I assume that means we have her approval.

After they left, we went back to work.  A bunch of stuff we simply can't do until we dispose of the furniture and the extra dryer.  We want to tear out the stupidly-designed shelves and toss a pile of lumber the previous owner left behind, but we can't get to the stuff until we clear out more room.  However, we rearranged everything so stuff made more sense--tools in an accessible location, camping stuff in a back corner, and so on.  Now the garage is tidy and arranged.  As soon as we sell off the excess stuff, we'll be able to put an actual car in it!

The house is now at 90%.  We only have to replace some blinds with curtains and hang the pictures.  Go us!

Heroic Unpacking

Carved Rock
Saturday, we decided, was the day to finish unpacking the house. Oh, what a day!

We started with the office.  We had set it partly up and needed to finish it.  One snag, though.  The bookshelves weren't right--the ones we really should have had in the office were in the basement--so we swapped them around, which involved reshelving all the office books.  Oi!  But the office is only big enough for one person at a time to work, so while Darwin was shelving books, I went down to the basement.

The basement has two rec rooms and two bedrooms.  Aran has one bedroom.  The other bedroom we've designated as an exercise and music room.  I started with the exercise room.  This room has more bookshelves in it, which involved shelving many books.  (The boys were helping, of course.)  We also set up the audio-visual equipment in there, and discovered the cable and DVR aren't working right. Argh!  I set my harp up in the corner and found a broken string. Have to take care of that later.

But now it's all done.

Then we moved to the rec rooms.  Here it was a little easier.  Most of the boxes we had left had to go into the storage areas, and there wasn't a whole lot to unpack.  We did have to reconfigure a chunk of the stored stuff, though. When we moved in, we just flung stuff wherever we could find a spot, but now we needed to arrange everything so it made sense and we could find it--Christmas and Yule stuff here, Thanksgiving stuff there, the luggage over there, the board game collection in this place, and so on.

We cleaned and mopped the kitchenette, too.  Darwin insisted that we pull the chest freezer out from the wall and mop under it, and by "we" he ment "me."  The freezer clearly hadn't been moved in years and years.  There was a mummified mouse under there and a whole lot of dried/muddy mouse poop.  Darwin owes me big.

But now that basement IS ALL DONE!

We went out to eat, and it felt really good to sit down!  After supper, we took the boys to the hardstore to teach them proper manly things, like how to buy a medicine chest and search for a garbage can.

Back home, it was after 10:00, and I still had to finish the office.  Sighing, I reshelved my research books and my brag shelf, then reorganized the office closet.  The big project, actually, was THE BOX.  THE BOX is the cardboard container that every post-90s male owns, the one that contains a bunch of cords: coaxial cable, rechargers, ethernet cables, phone cord, charger bricks, and more, more, more, usually in a big tangled jungle.

Darwin agitated for me to just throw it all away.  Except when we were setting up the electronics in the house, I made at least a dozen trips to THE BOX and produced exactly the cord we needed or were missing.  So no, I wasn't going to toss them.  But the current tangled mess wasn't working, either.

I finally sat THE BOX down and teased every single cord apart.  I tossed all the ones I knew were useless (mostly old cell phone chargers) and coiled each of the rest in individual ziplock sandwich baggies.  There!  No more tangles, and I can search through them at will.

Now the office is DONE!  (Except for Darwin's desk, which is piled with junk, but he'll get to it any minute now.)

Today we need to hang medicine chests (for some reason, the previous owner of the house didn't have them at all, and I don't know how she kept anything sorted in the bathrooms) and tackle . . . THE GARAGE.

Basement Disaster

Friday afternoon, Aran wandered upstairs to say that water was "coming into the basement by my room."

The pump and water softener closets are in his room, so my thoughts ran to that area.  "Do you mean a drip or a stream?" I asked.

"A stream," he said.

Downstairs, I found the pump closet was not involved.  Water was streaming from the ceiling tiles near the pool table, and had drenched some of the bar furniture and some other materials.  The water smelled foul and had food particles in it.  What the hell?  I didn't even know where to begin cleaning it up.

Darwin was still on the road from work, so he couldn't help yet.  Half in panic, I took down the tiles (unleashing yet more water over me) and managed to sop up a lot of it.  Took the ruined tiles out to the garage, made some soapy water, and cleaned up the furniture and the wall.  On a stepladder, I examined the pipes.  There was an open top to a U bend that jutted out from the main drainage pipe that seemed to be the source of the gushing water.  I suspected a bad clog was causing a backup.

I called a plumber, thinking no one would come out until Saturday, but the company said one would come between 7 and 10 PM, though it would cost extra.  I was fine with that.

Meanwhile, Darwin got home and called around to find a disaster cleaning company. The water was bad, and the carpet needed to be cleaned, disinfected, and fixed.  He found a company, and they arrived at the same time the plumber did.

The plumber allowed that it was indeed a clog. The open U bend was there to allow the water softener to drain and was a normal part of household plumbing.  (I think later we're going to have that drain replumbed and cap that open bend, thank you.)  He snaked it out and the drains cleared.

Meanwhile the cleaning guy removed the soaked areas of carpet pad and set up fans and an industrial dehumidifier.  He checked the drywall and said it was untouched, thank heavens.  On Monday, another crew will come in to fix the ceiling.

I called our insurance carrier to file a claim, and then was reminded that we have a home warranty, which is good--the insurance has a $500 deducible.

Why did I want to be a homeowner again?

So Many Boxes

It was more than Moving Day. It was Moving Month!

We got the new flooring laid.  Wood in the hall, office, and dining room, new carpet in the living room and bedrooms.  We had to fire one painter (his work was good but too slow) and hire another (who got the entire house done in just under three days--we were hugely impressed).  An electrician came in to redo some of the light fixtures (what was the original owner thinking with that chandalier?).  But exactly one day before the movers were to arrive, the house was ready.

And it was a massive blast of preparation.  I disposed of a bunch of furniture by dint of telling people at work "Free furniture! Who wants it?" and letting people come get it.  Whatever didn't get taken, we set out at the curb and let the neighborhood trash fairies spririt away.  And so, so many boxes.

Moving itself was a twelve-hour job on a Saturday.  We were combining two households, remember, which meant two trips.  Actually it meant three.  We had a team of three movers at a 16' truck, and the truck wasn't quite big enough, so they had to come back to my house for more.  It was close to 11:00 when all was moved.

Sunday was, of course, unpacking day.  We got the essentials done--set up the bathrooms and bedrooms and a little of the kitchen.  And after that, it's been come home from work and start on another set of boxes.  It's been dreadful.  We love the house.  It's wonderful and it's everything we wanted.  We hate the unpacking.

Setting up the kitchen took me an entire Saturday.  Oh, what a mess!  My old kitchen had less counter and floor space, but the cupboards were maximized.  I discovered the kitchen cupboards here, while numerous, aren't efficiently set up, and it took a great deal of wrangling to get everything so it was both a) accessible, and b) findable.

The office was another massive chore.  My desk was easy to set up, but Darwin bought a new one, a glass one, and it turned out to be a scary-ass thing to put together.  We got computers and shelving set up, but the office is still a mess, and we have to smarten it up.  Both of us hate disorganization, and right now the office is dreadfully disorganized.

Last weekend we finished almost the entire upstairs except for hanging the pictures.  Today we girded our loins and made a serious run at the basement. It's about a third done. With some elbow grease, we'll have it finished tomorrow.

It's difficult living in transition, but we keep telling ourselves it's only temporary, and eventually the house will be perfect!


So I'm watching the Tigers game and the camera zooms in on the pitcher. He's chewing on a big wad in his cheek.  "Bleah!" I say. "Disgusting! Why do they have to show that? These nasty baseball players and their nasty habits--gross! And they're not a good role model for kids.  They should ban--"

Then he blows a bubble.


I'm moving in ten days!  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!


These guys are the shmoopiest shmoops that ever shmooped!

I'm An Otherwise Straight Man (Who Fell In Love With His Best Friend)

I’ve always prided myself on being open. I’ll try any new therapy or modality or New Age idea — and, believe me, I’ve tried them all. I’ve done the self-work. I’ve “found myself.” I’ve even practiced my affirmations. I knew who I was, without a doubt.

That’s why I found myself in unfamiliar territory when I — the open guy, the “figured out” guy, the unquestionably straight guy — realized that I was in love with my best friend, a man. A man I had known for seven years. A man I had never before even thought of in a romantic way. But, there I was, in love.

Only it didn’t start out as love. See, two summers ago, I came down with a mysterious illness. Not the common cold kind. Not even the achy back kind. This was the kind where you vomit massive amounts of blood throughout the day. The kind where doctors pass you from specialist to specialist. The kind where you’re bent over in pain with tears in your eyes.

And my roommate, Garrett, one of my best friends at the time, took pity on me. He took care of me. He picked up my prescriptions from the pharmacy. He cooked me dinner. He stayed in on Friday nights to watch movies. He’d even rub my back when I was in pain.

Each day, I waited anxiously until he came home from work. My face lit up when he surprised me with my favorite dinner. I replayed conversations we had when I was alone. I missed him when he was gone.

Two months into this routine, I had a thought — a tiny, little thought — that I loved him.

Rest at:

More Shortages

I blogged about the teacher shortages in Kansas, Virginia, and Indiana:

Now, apparently, we can add New Jersey to the list:

Veteran teachers are leaving the profession and very few new teachers are entering it because of the bad working conditions and the constant disrespect from communities and lawmakers.  Our children are paying for the conservative right's attempt to destroy teachers and public education.  Make no mistake--this is the fault of the Republican party.  Don't let kids pay for their agenda.  Vote Democrat this fall.