I have run amok.  The house is a terrible mess of dog-chewed bits not picked up, clothes thrown on the floor until needed again, empty cans stacking on the drainboard.  I would hasten to add that all this evil-doing is quite necessary to the psychic flow of packing for a beeg move.  Think otherwise and stand the bite of being considered a Philistine.  All creative souls understand that order can only arise from chaos; the goddess Kali prizes moving and all it implies.  Truth thru turmoil!!

Which reminds me of a wonderful book which I have no doubt referenced previously:  Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner.  The Malay word 'amok' was the springboard here.  The author, in 1968, envisioned a rather crowded world in which endless wars were fought with nearly faceless enemies;  a time when no information could be considered 'true', and ordinary citizens going about their ratty existences suddenly turned on those nearest and began to maim and kill them.  These too-crowded souls were called muckers.  They popped up absolutely everywhere.  What a prescient guy.

Mr. Paul Estimator came this A.M. exactly on time and looked at everything we own.  The art pottery and the editor's lacy-things seemed to exact a special pull on him.  He was very thorough, and the end of his ministrations left me with an inventory list of ~7.5 tons of household goods that could be moved from 'wet to wet' - mover's jargon? - at 77 cents per pound.  Don't bother with the math; it is an odious and obscene dollar total.  He explained that other movers might quote me 60 cents per pound, but that would not include proper insurance coverage, nor would they actually 'care', as the small company he works with does.  I rather liked him, but then I am a fool for a smile and a good story.

He was rather interesting in that when I asked if he tolerated dogs he said 'I used to have a pet store.' When he saw the art pots he told me he 'dealt in antiques and had a particular fondness for art pottery':  he actually did know a thing or two about them, as well.  What there was in life that he had not had a hand in we didn't get to; given time we might have found that he had never been a diesel mechanic or a pudgy pole dancer.  I don't say this to be dismissive of him; he was sort of fun. 

So, I am now left with choices, nasty and unavoidable.  Exemplifying the sorts of choices I must make are, do I sell the wonderful - rings like a bell of great purity - 142# antique English anvil here?  or do I haul it myself and claim I saved money?  He was supportive of the idea that I might want to make my own run with heavy stuff in a rental truck and use him to get the furniture and such moved.  At an onerous and objectionable 77 cents a pound I am bound to give thought to alternatives.  But are there really any short of the deep cull? The machines, what few I have left that I absolutely want, are a problem.  What is the cost difference in hauling 2 tons of tool-things in a rental vis a vis having it done at the dreaded 77 cents a pound?  Could I rent a truck, buy gas, pay tolls, caffeinate properly, etc. and get that much stuff there for less than $3,000?  Have to think on that one.

Another part of the puzzle is the interstice between having a home and then having a home again:  could be a 3 week vacuum. The awkwardness of time without place.  This is gravy on the truckers' biscuits; they need to arrange loads, picked up and dropped off, all along the way to make their profit; Chicago and Phoenix were both mentioned as high points in any trucker's life. Omaha and Little Rock probably are, too.  The truck will go, with our stuff, to Southern California on its way to Tacoma.  Apparently Tacoma is something of a black hole for movers; people go there, but they don't really leave, at least not by moving van.  Probably something to do with the rain and the suicide rate; I can imagine the area needing a steady flux of new enrollees just to keep the demographic trend even.  Human attrition is higher in the moss, mold and mildew-regions. People disappear into a green fuzzball which slowly stops moving...   I digress - sorry.

So, how about I move Pat and all the basics - one plate, one fork, one pan, one chair.... with a rental truck and get her established? We could take all the stuff she would need to live in adumbrated fashion, alone with two dogs, a phantom trio presaging the family-to-come.

She is not going to like life in the comfortless interstice at all.  It is like a parallel universe where you don't own anything at all and assume hollow-eyed refugee status. Oh, yes, you do have a house, but did you remember to bring a light bulb, and what about a lamp!  'Drat!  Where did I put my spare bra??  I thought it was in my purse with the spatula!'  Empty houses echo, and you don't want them echoing dark curses and lamentations.  Pat would hate living in an empty house, no matter which end of the move she was at.  Even if only the bedroom and kitchen were furnished she would adjust to life on the boulevard.  It would give her a chance to get settled beyond the ongoing maelstrom if we moved her ahead of the bulk of our belongings, and then my machines would be in the basement if she needed to touch them for added comfort. With Pat so nested I would hasten back east alone to oversee the send off of all the rest of our stuff by way of anonymous truckers, who nevertheless 'cared'.

This all needs careful consideration.  My having the opportunity to personally handle the 25 boxes of art pottery and pictures in our first load would ease my mind - I do hesitate to consign them to strangers, and I could get my basement shop cleared out without having to triage old comrades to the dustbin.  I'd need some 'lads' to help at each end.  I see myself cruising a Tacoma Home Depot parking lot with a cautious eye; it is a misty morning, but snow is not forecast and ice only arrives in drinks.

It might sound as if I have come full circle from 'let's do it ourselves' to 'let's have someone else do it' back to the first impulse - my Scottish ancestors arising in full throat to defend the family balance sheet.  But it is not quite full circle.  Getting Pat there in short order and stable fashion is important; she literally itches to be back in town.  Someday, when I am old and feeble - due to a passing bug, nothing serious, she will recall such acts of kindness on my part when it is time to wipe my bottom and feed me chicken soup.  Or vice versa.  Where has that napkin been?

I am glad I am doing this at an average age of 70 - the editor and I share everything, sandwiches, time on earth, a toothbrush.  The average is simply what lies comfortable between us. There is so much spice to the angst that age adds to this venture.  We all crave spice, no?  What would this mean to me if I were 30 or 40?  Ho hum.... another move....  Challenges keep us young. Who snickered??

So, it is a few days later.  The glimmer of freedom to be a slob is perhaps wearing thin - when is the cleaning lady coming?  The balance of chaos does shift from the strewn to the stacked.  How could we own so much stuff? 

                                                             ?????????????????????????

Some days later and a further layer of complication has resulted in clarity.  Moving Man Phil came and gave us another estimate.  A nice guy who hasn't managed to do everything in his medium span; he is just a small businessman.  A quiet guy, he owns his own company, 8 40' trucks, none tractor trailers.  The first glimmer of sanity is when he points out that Paul, whom he knows, is a broker due to get 10% of the costs.  Phil doesn't use a broker...  He doesn't do an on-the-spot calculation but takes his figures home, and today I have his estimate. 

There are options.  The open-ended option I choose costs less than the standard quote and allows lots of flex; I really don't understand but am willing to take it.  We option an entire 40' truck for $13,000.  Oh! This sounds really bad!!  It ain't.  Every pound we weigh in at under 17,000 we get $0.70 back.  If we keep it to 12,300 pounds we pay the lowest fee: a bit under $10k.  On the other hand we can haul up to 24k pounds, or a full truck, whichever comes first, for the $13,000 and that is the maximum charge.  We have the leeway to go whole hog at an average per pound price of $0.54 per pound, or spend less by taking less, but at an average cost of $0.78 per pound.  (The standard quote I mentioned is to take 12,300 pounds for almost $10k and credit/debit us with the $0.70 pound as we exceed or go under.)  While his pricing is probably not that different than Paul's I feel we have more leeway - an illusion?  Perhaps...  We also get a straight run to Tacoma which cuts out my need to try and save Pat from refugee status.  We will leave as soon as the truck is loaded here and meet it in Tacoma in about a week.  The truck is available any day in March or April to begin loading.  There won't be any off-loading or storage enroute, so we can see the action at both ends.  I feel better about the pots this way.

Pat gets home the 17th of February and we can decide then how close to ready I have gotten us in her absence and set a date.  Thinking I will just stay in Tacoma until May and then come back here for clean up and garage sale when the snow is gone.  Have not made any hard decision about what to do with the house.  Rent-to-own seems the best solution still.  Give somebody some skin in the game.  I was thinking that $1200 a month with $900 of it going toward purchase might do.  Would cover my fixed costs and give the renter just about $10,000 per year toward a down payment.  In three or four years things should be somewhat clearer on which way the economy is going.  If someone were here that long they would have a nice down; we might have to carry the paper, but worse things have happened to me.  I remember when they circumcised me.... 

The bedlam continues here, but I tire of it.  I find myself forced to put things in boxes just so I can have room to walk around.  A field day for puppy Rose.  Yesterday she ravaged a bag of bananas - they didn't take it well and went into a dark funk.  Things I formerly composted now go into the Cuisinart and become smoothies.  Some of the flavors are very interesting.  Have also come up with the Flatus Maximus dinner of stir fried veggies.  I actually am eating well.  With Pat gone I just don't much get into meat.  Well, there was the old hot dog smoothie.... 

                                                        ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Another week or so goes by, and I dig out from the beeg blizzard.  Snowed a lot but we only got about 15".  Very light powder; a blessing to the homeowner.  Got all cleared out and this morn there is an 18" tall barrier of wet, sandy stuff that is not at all light.  The snow plows fill the end of the drive up as soon as I get it clear.  Not Fair!!  I cry.  Didn't get the roof raked in a timely manner and now have ice damns stopping me from the work.  If you don't keep up you get buried.  Tacoma really calls when I am in the throes with the floes.  Got to go out back now and clear the Chicken Trail.

Pat remains in Cal. for the next couple of weeks.  Noise and attitudes weigh on her, but both Baby Jack and brand new Gio thrive.  My attitude is that just because something is alive doesn't mean you need to encourage it.  Marginal grampy material.  I have given permission for Gio to call me Great Grand Dude when he is old enough to get his mouth around it.  Not my idea.  Hopefully he won't take to it too seriously.  I have always liked plain 'Don'.  Has a deceptively simple and honest feel about it.

I should post this.  Packing goes slowly.  Our old realtor is working up an analysis of what we could actually sell for; she says I am too quick to assume it isn't possible to sell.  Realtors who can remain optimists in this environment are surely using some great chemical adjuncts.  I should not complain.  It is a bright and sunny day and the house is warm.  later, y'all - don and animals.

                                                   &&&&&&&&&&&&&

It is evening.  I am tired.  It's not that I have done a lot - packed a few boxes of tools in the basement, where I was hesitating to tread.  Small boxes, for tools are heavy, dense; they are like black holes in the hand, the possibility of life bursting from their bowels theoretically imminent, but not likely for me.  I arrive on the creative scene sporting ill-drilled holes and mis-sawn boards.  I have meant well, and I enjoy myself, but my brain is not really in touch with my hands.  Never was.  Not the quick shortstop or the gracile downhill racer.  It is to my mind that I retreat for wonder.  My hands are best left in the lap, and around the glass of plonk.

There is the front of my mind, where I live, and the back, a door into which I find ajar and visit infrequently, but with an ache of gratitude when it swings to.  I was there a while ago; a slippery language is spoken there. I had lines and lines of revelation - the odor lingers like smoke in the room, but I came to the keyboard too late. The magic made me late. Now disconnected phrases, images, vague  contentment all linger.  They are a puzzle without solution.  Pieces consigned to fit 17 games, 33 riddles and places where the pegs are neither round nor square and the holes distant.  I can only write that something was there; something other.  And it has drifted by.

Other isn't something we want to indulge in too deeply. Take a hit and let it go.  I picture the floating man on his side, the opium pipe near his flaccid hand and slack mouth; his eyes are open and see nothing that can be shared.  The back door of the mind is like this, too.  Not a lot of value in the everyday.  The edge of a dream.  We are tantalized and smile.

Nabucco is playing.  If you don't care for the pulse of the opera I am sorry.  I am looking into the backdoor of Verdi's brain; it is majestic.  How did he get this stuff out thru the door and into the light?  What we lose is as important as what we save; creation cannot be judged only by what sees the light of day.  As well we skirt the edges of greatness when we enter the fog and return blank, almost blank, but cognizant of the other inside of us.  We are each of us a universe entire, and too few know it.

adios