30 October 2007

Echoing Emptiness

My mother's house is empty. There's one telephone, one telephone book, a note pad, and pen, all in the living room. Everything else is gone. The rooms echo, the house is empty, and I'm bereft.

Life, however, goes on and so must I. The recommended painter hasn't returned a single one of my messages, so I'll find another tomorrow. I've got things to mail, yarn to order, projects to knit, and packing to start.

I hate being the grown-up.

29 October 2007

Launch Hold

We went into a launch hold at T-:35, when the guy with the truck called and told us his truck had a problem. He's quite sure that they can fix it today and we can move everything tomorrow. However, he's going to call us back as soon as he knows, at which point I'll reschedule everyone.

Meanwhile, my friend, her husband, and I cleared more out in the garage, putting all the tools into my dad's WW II footlocker and getting rid of some other stuff. We also got the washer and dryer moved to the house next door, so that's taken care of. My friends took a big carton to the thrift store and I took a box of 24 pairs of glasses to Lenscrafters for the Lions. Then we came back here and changed all the batteries in the various remote sensors for our security system (cathedral ceilings and no way to wire them directly). They've just left, on their way to Lowe's to get some grout for my mom's house. He's one of those guys who can do anything.

28 October 2007

Great Progress In Probate

Well, it looks as if we're very near to closing probate. We're past the 60 days after notice to creditors, we've transferred everything that needs transferring, and we're going to wind it up now. Because we didn't get the house sold, it will just be put in my name until it gets sold. There'll only be one remaining thing, which is income tax returns. My mom died on 15 January, so we have to file a return for her in 2008. The lawyer has to file a return for her estate, from when she died to when probate ended. In both cases there will be a small refund or payment, but nothing much.

We've really made progress with the house. My friend and I got everything we could out of the house and into the garage on Wednesday. All that was left in the house was the bedroom set, a dresser, a cedar chest, a couch, a love seat, and a dinette table. Oh, and the solid maple hutch. On Thursday a team of cleaners came in and did a wonderful job cleaning it. I asked the cleaners if either of them would like the bedroom set and one accepted. Encouraged by that, I asked if either wanted a queen hide-a-bed and the other one did. That really makes my life easier and I'm glad to see the bedroom set go to a good home.

The guy with the stake-bed truck (with tailgate lift) and his helper will show up at my house Monday and load up the hide-a-bed. We'll take that over to my mom's house and unload it. Then we'll load up the couch and love seat and a bunch of boxes and take the boxes to the storage space and the furniture over here. Then back to my mom's house for all the rest of it, except the bedroom set and hide-a-bed, and over to the storage space to drop it off. Then we pick up the last furniture and take it to the cleaner's house at about noon. Then my friend and I go home and collapse. I don't know what the mover and his helper do.

I'm going to send my mom's cedar chest to my goddaughter in New Jersey, so I have to get a mover to handle that. I'm going to go through my cedar chest and dig out a bunch of crocheted doilies, etc, that my grandmother made and gave my mom and me. These go well with my cousin's decor (and don't go with mine at all). I'll pack all that into the cedar chest and ship it.

I'm finally going to take the paint chips over on Monday and pick the paint color. I've left a message for the painter. The current weather makes it likely that he'll want to paint it fairly soon. We've got a cut-off low with enough moisture in it to make painting exteriors a bit chancy, so a nice little one-day interior job should be convenient for him. As soon as the paint goes on the walls, the house goes on the market and I go to Palm Desert.

Well, we're not going quite as quickly as that implies. I've got to pack up some stuff here first, including yarn (the rest of my knitting stuff is always packed in a rolling crate), knitting books, and other books. I have to take a bunch of clothes down, too. My summer clothes here in Lancaster double as my winter clothes in Palm Desert. I remember commenting to a fellow shopper in Palm Desert on Christmas Eve 2005 that it was wonderful to live somewhere that wearing shorts and sandals that day was a good idea. I also have a limited number of dressy clothes, mostly that slinky rayon and Lycra fabric, and that has to go each way each time, too. And I have to pack my twelve pairs of sandals.

I'm almost back where I was when I ripped back the Bigfoot Shawl. I've got some new yarn to knit a stole for a friend and I've done a little swatching on that. I'll get some photos soon to show you what I'm thinking of. The yarns are Lion Brand Incredible bulky ribbon yarn, Yarnplace Vivace DK banana, and Blue Heron Rayon Loop heavy worsted. I think I'm going to do chunks of garter in the rayon loop, blocks of netting-like lace in the Vivace, and narrow garter stripes in the ribbon. I'll also use the ribbon for long heavy fringes. This friend needs a stole with drama.

20 October 2007

New Mini-van

New Mini-van
Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

Here it is. It got here at 1506 Friday.

19 October 2007

Mini-Van News

The mini-van is back from the Toyota shop, all fixed, and Mobility Works is cleaning it up for delivery. It should be here by mid-afternoon. I've got to clear off the data card in my camera so I'll have room for lots and lots of photos. Today is a beautiful day, calm, cool, and sunny so the photos should come out well. We're supposed to have high winds again tomorrow but by then the new van will be safely tucked into the garage.

We're members of a rare breed here in SoCal; we have a two-car garage with two cars in it. The rareness of this breed in caused by geology. A lot of California is on or near an earthquake fault so our houses tend to be built on slabs. Slab floors pretty much rule out basements. However, we still have the stuff that people with basements fill them with. It has to go somewhere and that's out in the garage. Pretty soon the garage is full of stuff and the cars are parked on the driveway. Fortunately, even up here in the High Desert, the weather is moderate enough that this isn't a problem. We usually don't have enough humidity to have frost or even dew, for example.

18 October 2007

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I haven't posted anything here recently because I was hoping to have some good news and avoiding some bad news. I still don't have the first, but I've accepted the latter, so I can actually write about it.

It's the Bigfoot Shawl. I had made an error and frogged one pattern repeat and reknitted it at about the eighth pattern repeat, which was a bunch of rows back. I'd managed to miss a yarn over and, therefore, multiple stitches in subsequent rows, so when I reknitted it I didn't really have enough yarn and the entire repeat was tight for six rows. I'd told myself it would come out in the blocking, that no one would notice, that it was OK, but it was preying on my mind and the day before yesterday I frogged 36 rows (averaging 346 stitches). I am not a happy knitter right now.

I must say that the yarn Knit Picks Gloss, has held up beautifully in the face of this abuse. I put a Options Harmony US 4 needle onto the longest cable and picked up the stitches of a purl row after ripping back. The yarn cooperated with this, not running or anything. The live stitches just sat there, ready to slip onto the sharp little needle. The yarn is 70% merino and 30% silk, so this probably isn't too surprising.

The good news I'd hoped to share was the delivery of the modified mini-van. It was supposed to come up early this week, but the wind was so bad we had them hold off. The old van had gotten sand-blasted in the Dryden parking lot about four days after we'd gotten it, so we're kind of jumpy about too much wind and a new vehicle. You may have seen the news stories about the big multi-vehicle, multi-fatality crash on SR-14 here Tuesday, caused by a terrible dust storm. The wind was gusting up to 50 mph here on Tuesday and Wednesday. They were going to bring it up today, which is a beautiful cool, calm day, but the ABS light came on, so they took it to Keys Toyota (Toyota problems get fixed by Toyota, modification problems get fixed by Mobility Works) and it looks as if we'll get it tomorrow afternoon.

I went by Tuesday and rented a 10' x 7.5' storage space and I'm going to get the moving guys in on Monday, 29 Oct. I have a queen hide-a-bed here at my house to go to a local charity. It'll be replaced by the couch and loveseat from my mom's house. The rest of the furniture from her house (a queen bedroom set and some other pieces), plus a whole bunch of boxed stuff, will go to the storage space. There's also a solid rock maple hutch that's stopping at the storage space for a while, before going to live with my friend. Once the house is empty, I'll get the painter in and the house will go onto the market.

I picked up paint chips from Frazee Paint on Monday. They gave me an entire swatch book, too, and there are some beautiful colors in it. I love some of the accent colors, but not for a house I'm trying to sell. I'm inclined to paint the entire interior in Swiss Coffee, which is the color of our Palm Desert house and will be the color of our Lancaster house. It's a very popular warm off-white that I really like. However, I have to see how it looks with the drapes before I decide.

It's actually been a busy week; in addition to all this stuff I had a routine doctor's appointment yesterday and a mammogram today. Then tomorrow I go to the ophthalmologist for my yearly exam. Plus I need to meet with the cleaner and painter for estimates. I'm trying to get the cleaner in at the end of next week.

I also tried out my new six-quart crock pot from Overstock.com. I got a really nice chuck roast at Albertson's and bought it on the spur of the moment. Normally I plan my grocery shopping so that I don't have to run all over the store but not this time. Once I got the roast I had to go back and get the vegetables. It came out really well and I was pleased. Cool-weather food....

08 October 2007

Bigfoot Shawl

Bigfoot Shawl
Originally uploaded by Mary The Digital Knitter

As you can see, I'm making some progress. I've finished ten repeats of the four-row body pattern. I'm almost to the end of the second ball of yarn, which means I'm at least half done. The pattern call for continuing until it's 16 in. long but that seems just a bit too short to me. I've been playing around with a tape measure and I think I want to go longer.

Notice how the edge is scalloping itself. There's no need to add a border; instead just a plain bind-off works just fine. I picked up a great bind-off from Cat Bordhi, in her Moebius Scarf patterns. It's very simple, you just knit two stitches together, return the new stitch to the left needle, knit two together, repeat. I like it because it's loose but it doesn't distort the fabric.

This yarn, Knit Picks Gloss (70% merino, 30% silk) is a real pleasure to work with. As you can see, it's got really nice stitch definition. I'm waiting on the undyed version to be back in stock, which is predicted for 22 Oct. I'm going to knit a christening shawl for my friend's grandchild, who will arrive in the spring. (I'm also going to make a more practical superwash baby blanket.) I already have some Knit Picks natural 100% merino fingering weight yarn for the christening shawl but the silk really makes a difference. Since this shawl is, traditionally, used for the baptism and then put away until the child marries, at which time the bride wears it, the subtle shine from the silk will be nice.

05 October 2007

What A Week It's Been

I went over Friday and signed all the paperwork to list my mom's house. The only thing we didn't do is set the date we'd begin. My realtor, Jane, who used to be my neighbor, came by the house on Saturday and agreed with me that it wasn't ready yet.

On Monday we cleared out the master bedroom and both bathrooms completely. The bedroom set (queen bed, dresser, nightstands) is still in there, which Jane says is OK because it'll show people how big the bedroom is. Apparently, people have trouble estimating the size of empty rooms. I think this set is going to go to one of the sisters who clean my house in Palm Desert.

We got kind of a late start because we had to go by the bank and get my signature medallion certified so I could cash in one of my mom's IRAs, since I was the beneficiary. The medallion certification guarantees that I'm really who I say I am and promises that the bank will cover any losses if it turns out I'm not, so they don't just hand these out at random. We'd had a raging hassle over this Friday, but I figured out what the bank really wanted and it just sailed through.

Then Tuesday my friend and I finished clearing out the guest room. It's still got a daybed, a dresser, and my mom's cedar chest in it, but the dresser and chest are empty. We also packed up the last of the kitchen stuff and made a run to the thrift store. We had about ten boxes of stuff for them. They were getting ready for their fall sale the next day, so we just put everything in the conex out back. My friend and I both noticed that some of the stuff they were taking into the shop for the sale was stuff we'd brought over earlier.

Wednesday my husband and I went over to the dentist. We both had crowns to have cemented and I had two fillings. It wasn't particularly painful for either of us, but we were there for almost three hours. It might have gone faster if my crown hadn't been such a perfect fit. The cementing process starts with a trial fitting and bite checking. Well, my crown wouldn't come off. It was made to fit my tooth and fit it did. My dentist ended up doing the adjustments in place and then tried for at least five minutes, maybe more, to get it out. When it did finally pop off, it bounced off the tip of my tongue toward the back of my mouth. I wasn't in any real danger of swallowing it, fortunately. Needless to say, we didn't do any more trial fittings; the next time it was in my mouth it had cement on it. It's perfect.

Thursday our new van was supposed to be delivered, but there was a problem with getting the running boards. They were damaged in shipping, with a deep scratch through the gel coat, and there was no way they could be used. So they've been re-ordered and we're just waiting on them arriving and getting painted. My friend went over to the house and moved all the cartons of books for the Friends of the Library out to the garage. She also moved about three-fourths of the cartons of stuff we're taking to our Palm Desert house (mostly kitchen stuff and books) out there too. Meanwhile, I started organizing stuff here to go to Palm Desert, mostly books. I'm ignoring the yarn for now.

She got a call from her husband, at about 1730, that his car wouldn't start and would she please come down and get him. He works near Burbank Airport. She put their dinner into the fridge and went down and got him. He went down with a co-worker this morning and figured out what the problem is. Tomorrow they're going to get a hitch for her pickup and go down and get the car. Not that she needed any more excitement in her life, because she's on the board for the public parks in the unincorporated area west of town and they're having a book sale tomorrow. Apparently the county employees can't actually sell the books and take the money, so the board members have to do that, something it would have been helpful to know before Thursday.

Today, Friday, was a very successful day. We started by loading the books for the Friends into my van. Then two guys from the thrift store showed up and took away the two filing cabinets, microwave oven, microwave stand, and two vacuum cleaners. To save them making a second trip and, more importantly, to save them from having to lift the heavy console TV into a Suburban-type van, we ended up moving all the boxes of books into my friend's pick-up and putting the TV in my van. The ramp really helped with that. I followed them over to the shop and they unloaded the TV and I visited with the workers for a bit and then went home. I was so pleased to get these big things out of the house and garage and over to the shop. My friend and I would have really struggled with them.

Next one of the afternoon volunteer workers, who had been a very good friend of my mom's, came by on her way to the shop and picked up the five boxes of things for the homeless shelter (my mom had been collecting this, like towels too worn to sell but still good enough to use, from the donations to the thrift shop). We also had a big black garbage bag full of large RubberMaid, Tupperware, and other storage containers for her daughter-in-law, who is a serious baker and can use these large containers for flour, etc. I also had a few little things for her, mementos of my mother. Between all these visitors we managed to finish clearing up the office. There's a few pieces of furniture in there, which we'll move on Monday.

My friend has graciously agreed to take the daybed, the drop-leaf table, the end table, two living-room lamps, the rock-maple hutch, and two paintings by my father's youngest sister. She has also taken a number of other things. She knew and liked my parents and will remember them both when she uses these things. Her daughter, her only child, also knew my parents and also will remember them fondly. I just can't say how much it means to me that she's taking these things.

Anyway, we finished up the day by taking fourteen cartons of books over to the library, where we were met by the president of the Friends. He and one of the library guards unloaded the cartons onto carts and whisked them away. The librarians will go through the boxes and take any books they want for the collection and then the Friends will take the rest to sell, either in the bookshop they've named after my mom or at their semi-annual sales. My husband and I buy books on science and other non-fictional topics that we don't always keep. We pack these books, frequently the newest books on the subject, in a marked box and they, I'm told, always get added to the collection. I think this says something rather sad about the funding for our county library system, that they have to rely on donated books in such important areas.

It is just amazing how much progress we've made. For so long it seemed as if we weren't making any progress at all, no matter how hard we worked and how much we took away or packed up. Now all at once it's almost empty. We have another day, at the most, and then I'll get the cleaners in. Following that, the entire interior has to be painted, except (maybe) the kitchen. Then it goes on the market, probably in about a week. And there it will probably sit for ages, until some investor buys it and turns it into 8A housing, like what happened after the last real estate bust we had in the Antelope Valley.

I decided to send some people, mostly family, photos of my parents. They had a great portrait done by a very talented local photographer about ten years ago and I was able to get her to make prints for me. I kind of underestimated my list and had to call her this afternoon and order a few more prints. They'll be ready in about two weeks. I bought a box of those stiff photo mailers and I've been tracking down mailing addresses. I'll start mailing them once I get them all.

I'm still knitting away on my Bigfoot Shawl. I'll get a photo over the weekend.