My world has been condensed into a 16x8x8 box, and all the available space in a honda element (mine) and a buick regal (Kelly's)

My desk was sold, so i'm sitting on the floor of the dining room, with the iBook on a box.

I posted something to twitter to see if any of my friends wanted to come get the food that i can't pack. (we aren't going to have room for a cooler) Congrats to Damon, he got a giant box of food.

I'm about to fill my truck with everything i am planning to move, so that i can see what fits or doesn't fit.

I'm exhausted, and there's so much left to do. I'm hungry, but i'm too tired to think about eating.

some piece of the vertical blinds broke, somehow, so it doesn't work quite right. Even my superior MacGuyver skills couldn't remedy the situation.

I am NOT looking forward to the driving, but at least it's only going to be in 6-hour blocks. it was going to be 10 hour blocks, as Kelly had originally planned, I'd never make it.

WELL... Off i go to play tetris with all my worldly possessions, and fitting them into the back of my truck.

Today I learned: I am a master of Tetris.

Departure delayed (sort of)

We had hoped to leave Los Angeles on Friday, Sept. 26, but a couple events have taken precedent:

1. JoAnna has a dentist appt. on Friday (hopefully the last one for this series). We thought it best to remain here in LA over the weekend in case there are any problems with the dental situation. It would be bad to set out on a 4-day drive and have something not right that requires further attention. Staying over the weekend is playing it safe, and it allows us to try to sell some of the items that don't make it into the POD.

2. JoAnna got booked for a fancy-schmancy birthday dinner for Friday night. (BTW, all of JoAnna's events are fancy-schmancy). It's hard for her to pass up any opportunity to feed people, and she gets paid for it, too!

So, we will remain for a few extra days.


It has been quite hot for the past 2 weeks. The week before the POD arrived, it was in the 70s & 80s; nice moving weather. Today it is 99. Good thing there is plenty to do in the house because I don't want to be out there today. Once it cools down below 90, I'll start moving the boxes from the kitchen down into the POD. I'm hoping there will be room for a few select items once the necessary stuff is on board.

reality isn't setting in for me yet

There's a song on one of my old CDs that has the following lyric:
Reality is the only word in the English language that should always be used in quotes.
Pretty deep, yes? So here's my reality. The fact that i'm leaving for practically forever just doesn't resonate with me yet. I'm packing. I'm cleaning. I'm sorting. Things are no longer in their familiar places, and it's grown from a puzzling curiosity (as in,"where's my hairbrush? Oh, yeah, ha ha, I packed it! ") to an annoyance (as in, "Aww, crap. Where are my sunglasses?) There have also been situations where Kelly and I haven't been communicating as well as we could be, and i discovered he's already packed -- and buried -- something I'd set aside, but I totally wasn't ready for that box to go into the pod yet.

At this point, I've lost all motivation and i don't even care if we get to TN. I just want to stop packing and go to bed and pull the covers over my head and never come out. As of this afternoon, though, hat's not even an option, because we took the bed apart, and it's jammed in nooks and crannies in the POD. We'll be sleeping on the futon mattress, on the floor. Phooey!

Another factor that's weighing on my mind (no matter that Kelly tells me not to worry) is that the economy has taken such a huge dump, and i'm a little worried about what kind of short-term living situation will present itself, and how long it will take for us to get ourselves on some land and get a long-term residence established.

Kelly mentioned at some point that he thought it might be a good idea to "loan" Render to his parents for a while. It might be difficult to find an apartment that will allow two large dogs - not to mention expensive, with the non-refundable pet deposits! At first i was horrified! How could he give his doggy away? Yes, it's to his mom & dad. Yes, it's not forever, just as a temporary convenience...but the more i think about it, the more it makes sense. His folks love Render. (everyone loves Render, seriously) I can be sure that they'll take excellent care of her. I get very stressed out whenever Render and Noodles are close together, because Noodles is VERY aggressive. Noodles always ALWAYS has to be on a leash or in her crate when Render's around. I have to segregate them all day, every day.

Now, keep in mind, Noodles is the dog that was returned to the pound by the first people who adopted her (we didn't know it at the time) and she was never socialized or trained or anything when we got her, at 6 months old. She's MUCH better now, but you still have to keep an eye on her.

So it does kind of make sense that Kelly would like to give Render a little vacation during what is bound to be a very stressful time during those 3-4 months. But i know I'm going to miss her something awful!

Well, as usual, i'm off on a tangent, it's 2:10 AM in Los Angeles, and i'm really pooped. Off to bed with me.

One more thing, tho, Please let me know that you're reading this, please let me know if you have any questions!

Today I learned:
You can cram a whole lot of crap into a honda element when those back seats are out. Also, you can't drink much if you're sucking on a chopstick instead of a straw.

A day of rest - for me

The physical stress of moving is wearing me down, so I took it easy today. I only cut the grass and entertained the dogs for the day, with a jaunt down to El Pollo Loco for a bad burrito. I'm hoping my stamina will improve quickly. I used to be able to do a lot more work with more energy, but I guess this can be expected after 19 years behind a desk. JoAnna, however, worked her final Los Angeles chef gig tonight. She came home tired but she says it was a fun couple that got a cooking lesson/dinner.

Tomorrow is our last official permitted day with the POD, though it is not quite full. We are down the the last 15% or so of available space, so now every item is scrutinized for its value before it is loaded. I think we'll take our chances that the city of Glendale won't catch us on the expired permit, and hopefully get the POD picked up on Tuesday.

I am toying with the idea of having a trailer hitch mounted on my car to enable us to bring a lot more stuff for the initial stay. JoAnna's chefmobile will be packed with catering gear so she can take work as soon as we arrive, if it comes up. We don't know how soon after our arrival we will have access to the POD, so to avoid buying a bunch of new stuff to keep ourselves going, pulling a trailer may be a wise move. A 4x8 trailer from UHAUL only costs $166 for an 8 day, one way rental, so it's not too bad. The cost of the trailer hitch and installation would be around $350, but once in Tennessee, I may buy a utility trailer to use with my Buick instead of changing it out for a pick-up truck. As much as I want to fit in as a country boy, keeping the Buick is probably the right move. I read somewhere in the blogosphere from a farmer who claimed that he preferred having a regular sedan for day-to-day driving and the utility trailer for the occasional trip to the hardware/lumber store. JoAnna has a Honda Element, so we'd use that for big shopping trips anyway.

Today I learned: The "food" at fast food places is more expensive and smaller portions than I remember.

I may have to found a chapter of Foodies Anonymous

The house is looking less and less like home as we gather up our belongings and put them in the POD. My collection of blue glass has been lovingly enrobed in bubblewrap. My other collection, a galaxy of suns that adorned the fireplace mantle and the walls of my living room, are nestled snugly in a huge box until they can shine again (literally, as most of them are candle holders, and my favorite is a candle holder that i wired up with a fixture and screwed in a yellow lightbulb!)

Tomorrow we will disassemble our SelectComfort bed, squish all the air out of it, roll the pieces and stuff it into the POD. We'll spend our last few nights sleeping on the futon mattress on the floor, and then jam it into the chefmobile the day we drive off.

It's a lot of work, but it's mostly smooth sailing. Kelly's holding up pretty well physically, and I'm pulling through mentally, so we're getting there, bit by bit, box by box.

In general one of the hardest rooms to pack is the kitchen. I have compounded this problem by being an over-the-top collector of food and cooking equipment, otherwise known as a chef. I've had a huge chest freezer that i'd been slowly-but-successfully purging over the last 4 months, and I've managed to consolidate it to the small space of the freezer attached to the refrigerator. In my eyes, the cupboards have been bare, but Kelly sees it as still overflowing. Also, I've pruned my cookware collection to just my favorites...even though that still leaves a fairly large portion of what i've amassed over time.
Normal PeopleMe
1 or 2 frying pansa dozen frying pans
salt, pepper, sugar, chili powder, cinnamon... the basics4 kinds of salt, 5 kinds of pepper, 4 kinds of sugar, 8 different hand-ground chilis, things like sumac, zaatar & garam masala
a can of black beans, a can of kidney beans, a box of pastadried beans, lentils, peas, quinoa, bulgur, orzo, lebanese Cous-Cous... plus all the regular stuff, too.
oil & vinegarolive oil, grapeseed oil, hazelnut oil, walnut oil, sunflower oil, rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar
all purpose flourcake flour, pastry flour, bread flour, whole wheat flour, rice flour, potato flour
spaghettios, progresso soup, bush's baked beansikra, imam bayeldi, babaganoush, sweetened adzuki beans
So you see, it's a bit more problematic to pack all this, simply because there's more of it. Also, i don't want to part with a single red lentil or leave behind (give away) the tiniest jar of purple yam preserves, because i'm absolutely certain that I'll never be able to find that stuff in Nashville.

As i'm typing this, Kelly's reading an article in Food Arts magazine, a professional-oriented publication lauded by many as an excellent source of food porn: the photography is spectacular and so inspiring! Everything right now is talking about a "farm to table" way of living, and one article caught my eye as being appealing to him... and it he's reading it... and as he turns the pages, i'll reach over and pluck at a photo of a wedge of cheese as if to pick it up and eat it, or caress a photo of an enormous kitchen suite (an island of stoves, ovens, salamanders, built-in bain maries, griddle tops, grill tops, and every other conceivable cooking surface) and Kelly looked over, smiling, and said, "I'm glad you love food, honey."

I'm glad that he's glad, because the cupboards are PRACTICALLY BARE and I've still got to feed us! Tonight was taking another whack at the freezer's contents: prime rib and edamame, rounded out with some fingerling potatoes. I meant to stir-fry some sweet bell peppers but i forgot. I also made a cake, which i will serve with a white-chocolate custard i made yesterday (I had a craving for pudding but we didn't have any, so i made a stirred custard)


Today I learned:
to let go of doing everything *my* way, and to just let Kelly do his own thing without interfering. it's so difficult, but i'm really trying to stay in the backseat and just let the man drive.

3 days into my retirement, and the economy spins out of control.

Well, I guess the news of my retirement has reached Wall Street. It seems people have lost faith in the financial pillars that support the economy. I pulled my money out of risky stock investments about 2 years ago, not because I saw a downturn ahead, but mostly because I didn't like the fact that other people were influencing the value of my investment. Once I got over the thrill of seeing my stock prices rise (and the artificial increase in my portfolio), I guess the fear of losing it all was more than I cared to risk.

I hope my family and friends aren't affected too much by the sliding economy. As much as I wish people would invest their money into something real, the lure of the consistent returns from mutual funds (and the ease of it) is too much. Plus, I don't want anybody blaming me if they were to follow my advice and then miss out on big gains.

But remember, you have to sell out at some point to realize those gains. I think it is too easy to "hang in there" until the market recovers to the high point in the past. Selling after the high point feels like selling at a loss. When your investment is at a high point, it is too difficult to give up - it's going up, and could keep going up! How terrible would it be to sell too early and miss out on an extra $1000?

I'm out of it. My goal is to be a Land Baron. 20 acres should do just fine.

How did we get so much stuff?

JoAnna here... I've been lax about posting to this blog, but I'll be better as things start actually happening. Right now, it's just gathering stuff, putting it in boxes, and gathering more stuff to put in more boxes. Oh, and changing our address for all our credit cards, obligations and what-not. We've got several credit cards, frankly, but we don't carry a balance on any of them, so we're not buried in debt. All we have to pay for is the last bit of my college loans and my truck, which my company is paying for. It's such a relief to not have to be worried about money. (Kelly knows that I pinch pennies on the day-to-day stuff, but I wonder if Kelly realizes how much money i *don't* spend? He's married to a very, VERY cheap wife.)

Speaking of money and the stupid ways to spend it, Kelly went and secured a permit for the pod today. He was skeptical that we'd have it loaded and gone before anyone complained, so instead of being anxious and worrying about getting fined, he shelled out $100 for a permit. I've never lived in a neighborhood where you'd get in trouble for putting up a clothesline, but I know they exist. In our situation, we live on a dead-end street, so it's not like it's impeding traffic, but it *is* in a regular residential area that's subject to codes and such. Meh, I look forward to not having to deal with crap like that.

With Kelly home, i've totally lost track of what day it is, but either yesterday or the day before, he packed up my dry ingredients. Flour. Beans. Rice. Sugar. (as i try to remember what was there, i have to laugh: 3 kinds of flour, 5 kinds of rice, 3 kinds of sugar, untold different kinds of beans. I'm a chef, remember?) Also, all my dried fruits and nuts for baking... all of it... gone. He packed it! I looked at him kind of crooked, and said,"You took away all my ingredients? What am I going to do to feed you?" He shook his head, saying, "You won't have any problem..." He's right, of course, but I *do* kind of hyperventilate when the fridge is empty or the shelves are bare. I've never gone hungry, but I admit I'm obsessed with having food around more than a normal person would be.

Slowly, the stuff we emptied into the back yard for the carpet cleaning escapade has made its way into the POD. Kelly's nearly emptied the garage, too, and we were both relieved that it only took up about 1/5 of the space. He's doing such an amazing job and working so hard. The stuff i'm doing doesn't show as much tangible progress... My task is to arrange for our care-and-feeding for the first few months at our temporary residence. I'm also wading through complicated (and often stupid) phone menus to try to contact people to change our address.
    • Press 1 if you want to make a payment.
    • Press 2 if you want to check your balance.
    • Press 3 to hear our mailing address
        ::JoAnna presses ZERO to get a human::
    • Sorry that's not a valid entry. Please try again.
        ::JoAnna presses STAR to get a human::
    • Sorry that's not a valid entry. Please try again.
        ::JoAnna mashes a whole mess of buttons::
    • Sorry you're having trouble. Please try your call again later. Goodbye!
    Heaven help you if you don't remember your username or password or telephone security code, or which e-mail address you used when you signed up. You're S.O.L. There's only a couple businesses left to deal with, so I'll jump on that tomorrow.

    Also on the agenda for tomorrow is yet another dental appointment, but gratefully, it's the penultimate. I can finally get this unnaturally large blob of plastic that is serving as a temporary crown out of my mouth.

    Today I learned: I'm grateful that we don't have a TV. We went to Choza Mama for dinner, (it was mediocre, i'll post a review on yelp later) and they had on some freaky show about "animals that attack humans and other over-dramatized stories that make you choke on your food". We had a good laugh watching it, (as in, "Dude, why are you feeding moray eels by hand?") but damn! What horrible television!

    Also learned that moray eels have a second set of jaws. Kinda like the ALIEN, that has a mouth inside its mouth. Science is so awesome!

POD loading - Day 3

It's Monday, my first official day of being unemployed. The loading of the POD has been proceeding, though somewhat slower than I wish. So far, I have been focusing on moving JoAnna's catering equipment from the garage. There is a lot of stuff, and most of it is either fragile or needs care to avoid scratching it. A lot of it is loose or loosely packed, so it requires nesting and careful placement in the POD. Tonight, I need to work up a priority list of the remaining items to make sure the things we need get in the POD. It is really difficult to organize the transfer of what seems like hundreds of boxes when they are scattered around the house - inside and out.

The physical work is challenging. When I was much younger, I could do work like this all day, every day and not really feel it. After 19 years of sitting behind a desk pressing buttons, it'll take some time to build strength. The worst part of it is not the aches and pains, or the exhausted feeling (no thanks to the 97 degrees F today), but it's the slow progress that is depressing. I wanted to have this done in 3 days, but it is looking like it will take 6 or 7. I just hope a City of Glendale employee doesn't show up asking if we have our permit to have a POD on the street. Cause we don't. I'm sure the city requires permits to keep people from keeping a giant storage box on the street in front of their house indefinitely, but that won't be the case with us. Once it's full it's off to Sylmar, CA for a brief stay, followed by a trip to Tennessee.

Houston, the POD has landed.

It's here. The POD is on the street, ready to be loaded. I was a bit wiped out from a stressful week, so I took it easy thru the early afternoon, but then launched into the home restoration project.
We made some improvements to this rental house to make it more comfortable for ourselves - knowing full well that we might have to remove the improvements if the landlord objected. Well, on Thursday, she objected to all but one of the improvements.

Here's the list of what we did and the approximate cost for materials:

1. Screen door - $50
2. Porch light - $25
3. Stylish living room vertical blinds - $300
4. Fireplace mantel - FREE
5. Programmable thermostat - $30
6. Slide-out racks in kitchen cabinet - $50
7. Shelf extension above washer-dryer - $15
8. Added shelf in bedroom #3 closet - $12
9. Added insulation around water heater - $20
10. Patio bricks - $40
11. Added 2 oven racks (only one was in place upon move-in) - $40

total = $582

And here is what the landlord agreed to reimburse:

1. Added insulation around water heater - $20

That's it. All of the other improvements will have to be removed or returned to original condition. What a drag. We put a lot of hard work into this place to make it nice, and now it all comes down.

JoAnna was here for the inspection, and she told me that the landlord didn't even set foot in the house. How weird! The one I don't get is the programmable thermostat. 30 bucks for the upgrade from the original 1927 era, paint splattered, beige, plastic thingy. INSTALLED! I know old cars are worth more with their original parts in place, but come on!

OK, I'm done ranting.

I just finished restoring the crummy dishwasher and funky kitchen faucet. We put in a better faucet, knowing that the next move we would make was going to be the "build-the-house" move. The dishwasher is another story.

At some point, the dishwasher stopped draining. Because our lease has us responsible for the condition of the appliances, we had to fix it. It appeared that the ejector pump died, so I pulled it out and looked into replacing the pump. Well, to make a long story short, the reason the pump wouldn't pump was because the drain hose was plugged where it vents atop the sink/faucet. Some goopy mess was in there, like the remains of a sticker from a glass jar. We figured this out after purchasing a whole new machine - a better model, too. Once we had the new one installed and it didn't pump out, I found the goop in the drain hose. There's an experience I'll never forget! Well, at least we had the luxury of a fancy and more efficient machine for 2 years.

So, tonight was the switch-back of the dishwasher and faucet. No dramatic story with the faucet, though. Just didn't like the funky one. Still don't.

Tomorrow will be a busy one, with lots of trips down and up the driveway. We would have preferred the POD be dropped off at the top of our drive, but it is too narrow for PODZILLA.

Waiting for the POD

We have three weeks before we leave for Tennessee. The POD will arrive in a week. We have a lot of stuff that is not going to take the trip with us. And it is really difficult to get started with packing because it is difficult to know exactly how much stuff is going to fit into the POD. We'll be getting the largest POD they offer, as it is the only size they will ship long distance, anyway (16'x8'x8').

JoAnna has a whole lot of stuff for her work that we store in the garage on shelves. Most of that is going. We also have a refrigerator, a chest freezer, and a dishwasher that are going in the POD. Everything from our kitchen will go. Our Select Comfort bed is going. The majority of JoAnna's office will be going. That pretty much makes up the bulk of the "must haves" stuff. So, any open space that remains in the POD will be filled with the rest of our belongings.

As it stands, we don't know if many of our items are going to make the cut, so it makes it really hard to organize and start packing.

Today is Sept 6.
We have a carpet cleaning company due on Sept 8.
Our landlord's inspection is on Sept. 11
So, we want to clear out as much stuff from the house as we can now, but where do we put it all? The back yard is starting to look like we were evicted.

Today I learned: This bread is really good!