Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Here is an excerpt from an email regarding what happened to my friend:

Guy and 2 friends from work were dropped off by the shuttle Sunday morning. They started to walk up to Sherman Peak and Guy said it was too steep and too long of a climb for him. They agreed that he would go back to the drop off place and wait for the guys to come down and they would proceed down the trail together. When the guys got back to the drop off place, no Guy. There were some bikers there and they asked if they saw a cyclist and they replied that no one was here when they got there. They were worried and started down. About 1/3 of the way down, there is a check point with a log. They stopped and read the log and Guy had written in the log that he would meet them at the truck. They proceeded down the trail and got to the truck and no Guy. They called the police when he didn't show up and they started the search and rescue team Monday all day. Couldn't find a trace of him. They wouldn't let any volunteers help on Monday. Monday evening they told us that they would use volunteers on Tuesday starting at 6 a.m. to walk the trails while the Search and Rescue personnel did some of the "harder" searches. They had them going down in the ravines and rocks. They found Guy's bike on the wrong trail in the afternoon today. The Search and Rescue could then concentrate their search to a much smaller area. This bike ride is like 27 miles. Anyway, they found Guy's bike, then some pads, then some pieces of maps and lost his trail. They found him on the other side of the hill via helicopter.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I will miss you...

While we were driving today (Gallup, New Mexico to Weatherford, Oklahoma), I started thinking about what I would blog from the hotel tonight. We have had quite an adventure, and there are many things to write about...and then my phone rang...

My friend was calling to ask if I had heard the news about a former coworker. He had gone to The Plunge to mountain bike with some guys from work on Sunday. He decided not to ride one of the trails they were heading to and told them he would meet them later. No one saw him after that. The first phone call was to tell me that everyone was looking for him.

The news shocked had been 2 days since he was last seen (Sunday until today, Tuesday). I prayed for the best -- that he had gotten lost, disoriented, injured but not seriously, and he just couldn't get out.

After we checked into the hotel here in Weatherford, my phone rang again. It was my friend again. They found our co-worker's body. The story is still missing a lot of details, but the simple fact is that our friend/co-worker/colleague lost his life.

From then on my phone rang with people calling to see if I had heard the news. I may have left the company to move east a few weeks ago, but they are still my friends, and I still care for all my former co-workers.

Our friend who died was a wonderful person. He was full of life, had a great sense of humor, was smart and dedicated, and he will be missed extremely.

We used to call him the S.C., aka the Social Coordinator. He was always the one to round us all up for Happy Hour, and he ALWAYS paid for the first round -- even when we only had one round.

He was young -- maybe 38...he grew up on the east coast and had no family in our neck of the woods, but that didn't matter...he was a friend to all. I'm sure the plant is devestated. As I understand it, a lot of people made the trek to the desert to look for him yesterday and today. I'm thankful that the search & rescue group found the body and not one of my friends.

I feel so badly for the 2 guys who were with him. I have no idea how they are dealing with this right now.

I can't believe could this have doesn't seem real. GM, we love you and will miss you tremendously.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Walt’s & India

My FIL took me out to dinner Tuesday night.

I got home from work about 6:30 pm on Tuesday, and my MIL was working, so it was just Dad and I. He took me to Walt’s.

Walt’s is a local hamburger/Mexican joint (only in Kansas) on the corner of the 2 main roads in town. It looks like it’s been there forever, and I’m pretty sure it has. As soon as we walked in, Dad recognized and greeted a couple people sitting down eating dinner. We walked to the counter where we could choose our meal from a huge board that sported such things as: hamburgers, salads, tacos, burritos and fries. Dad chose a fajita (which pretty much looked like a burrito), and I decided on the taco salad (which didn’t look very Mexican, but it tasted pretty good).

When our food came, we prayed and dug in. The girl had asked me if I wanted it hot or mild, and I chose hot since I figured these Kansans don’t know what hot is. Hot meant that they put jalapenos on my salad, which did add a little warmth. I mentioned to my FIL that one of my former employees, who is Indian, had made some spicy rice for us, and how much we liked it, but the peppers wreaked havoc on our systems.

I think that is what triggered the stories about India and "the choking incident".

My FIL has traveled to the jungles of India twice on missions trips – both times in the 1970’s. He has amazing stories about his trips, and they usually involve humor, as well. I’ve heard some of them, but I never tire of hearing them again or learning new things. Dad is a great storyteller…he takes his time, waits for your reaction, and plods right through the details (which I have complete confidence are absolutely true). He has most of his stories captured in letters to my MIL, and I think he should type them up and publish a book. I would buy it!

I think the story that caused my choking fit had to do with tigers and bicycles. Some jungle men (wearing little else besides a string and a handkerchief – Dad’s description) came to one of their meetings and asked that they go and speak to their people. They lived out in the jungle, so the best way to get there was to ride a bike – more efficient than walking since a car couldn’t make it on the small roads. Their guide asked Dad’s partner if he could right a bike. The partner said yes, got on the bike, rode a few yards, and promptly fell off. The guide decided that the partner should stay, so Dad set out with the guide and the interpreter. The jungle is dark, so they carried a lantern that was powered by pedaling the bike.

At some distance into the jungle, the guide made everyone stop. He told them that he could smell there was something dead in the jungle, and that meant that a tiger was probably near by. Tigers like to chase and eat things that are moving quickly – even if they’re not hungry, so the guide recommended that they get off their bikes and walk them through the jungle. Well, that’s all fine and good, but remember that lantern? Well, it doesn’t put out any light if you’re walking your bike! So, now they’re wandering through the jungle, in the dark, pushing a bike…because there is a tiger close by!

So, I burst out laughing. Obviously Dad came out of it ok since he’s sitting across from me, so it was ok to laugh…but it wasn’t ok to INHALE a piece of my taco salad shell. I began to cough like a mad woman…I couldn’t breathe, or talk or laugh. After a few minutes, I finally regained my composure.

Dad sat patiently across from me, making sure that he didn’t need to perform the Heimlich maneuver (he is an ambulance driver), and he started up his story once he was convinced I could handle it.

After dinner, he took me on a driving tour of Small Town, Kansas. We drove past the new high school (which didn’t open until WAY after B graduated). We drove by all the schools B did go to, past the City Hall, the library, the Fire Station (where Dad moonlights), the mortuary (where Mom works), and the house where B spent a lot of time growing up. We saw kids riding bikes, moms pushing strollers, and we heard the hum of the cicadas. I felt like we were driving through a Norman Rockwell painting.

It was a great evening.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

You might be a redneck…

You might be a redneck if you haul your dead mother to Monkey Run, Arkansas, in a cardboard box shoved in the back of your pickup.

I AM NOT making this up. My MIL is a funeral director, which means we hear all kinds of weird and interesting stories. The other night she came home from work with a doozy. Just in case you’re wondering…YES, this does mean we frequently talk about dead bodies over dinner, and it’s great!

Apparently, a family came in to have a body prepared for a funeral in Arkansas (we’re in Kansas). I guess this part isn’t so rare, but the crazy thing was that they wanted to transport the body themselves (cheaper). On top of that, they didn’t want to purchase a casket for the body (which means less money for the funeral home), they wanted a cardboard box (which is available), AND they wanted to put the cardboard box – with the body – in the back of their truck and drive to Monkey Run, Arkansas.

The box was too long to close the tailgate, so they had to strap the box down and throw some blankets on top of it. And off they drove into the sunset in the direction of Monkey Run.

I have a feeling that maybe all this wasn’t legal on the part of the pickup driver…

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Burnt toast

I almost burnt my house down…the old one, not the new one.

On Saturday morning, we were expecting a woman to come see our house for the second time. She was supposed to arrive at 10am, so at 9:30 we turned on all the lights, set the A/C at 78 degrees, and loaded up the dogs to leave for a while. I also closed the appliance garage door (y’know, that cupboard that has a roll-up door that will hide your toaster and coffee maker) half way, making sure that you could see the toaster inside so the lady would know what the thing was for.

Then we left…for 5 ½ hours.

The lady never showed (we were supposed to get a call when they left so we knew we could go back home), so at 2:30 I told B that we HAD to go home because I was leaving the next day and I had a TON of things to do. He said to wait until 3pm (he was watching golf), but I insisted we leave right then.

Our plan was to go home, load up some stuff to take to a friend for a garage sale, then come back so I could pack and get some stuff done. While he was loading everything up, I ran inside just to see if the lady had shown up but no one had called us. As soon as I walked in the house I smelled something burning.

I walked all around the house, but I couldn’t figure out what it was, so I went outside to get Mom. As we walked back into the house I heard this weird buzzzing sound, and all of a sudden I yelled “The toaster!” We ran over to the appliance garage and tried to push up the door, but it wouldn’t budge. The door was hot, the tile was hot, and I was freaking out! I reached in and unplugged the toaster, but we still couldn’t get the door up.

Apparently when I pushed the door down before we left the house, the door pushed down the lever on the toaster, so for 5 ½ hours the toaster was on and it couldn’t shut off. The buzz I heard was the toaster trying to pop up. We decided to open the windows to air out the house and we left to let everything cool down.

We came back a couple hours later with my dad, and he climbed up on the counter, reached through the 4” opening and somehow unscrewed the melted track for the roll-up door from the frame. We pulled the door down and we found a MELTED TOASTER! The track was also demolished, and the inside of the cabinet was scorched, but other than that, there wasn’t any major damage.

God was watching over us that day! I think it would have only been a few more minutes before something actually went up in flames. If our countertop would have been formica instead of tile, it probably would have caught fire before we got home.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Chapter 3

I thought the next time I wrote about our movers, it would be the conclusion…but looks like there will be one chapter in between.

After the strange call from the so-called manager lady, I started thinking about trying to reach my contact directly. I’m going to name her Jill so I don’t have to keep saying “my contact”. Since Jill had called me from her personal number last week, I found it in my caller id and called her back on Friday. I just wanted to tell her what the manager had said and get her reaction. Well, according to Jill, she HAD NOT been fired. She told me that she left the company willingly because she did not agree with how they were doing business. Of course, I wish she would have clued me in earlier so I didn’t use them, but I realize she was being loyal to her job then. She also said that she didn’t know that they were affiliated with this other BAD company. I guess I believe her…she’s been pretty honest with me so far. Anyway, she isn’t completely separated from the company, so I’m hoping maybe she can still help me out with my shipment.

My plan is to call the movers later this week to make sure our stuff is scheduled to be shipped out on time to reach KS by September 1. I’ll let you know…

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I forgot about my peace

This whole mover saga caused me to forget the peace and quiet that I came from just a couple days ago.

Shaver Lake...ahhh, see, I'm calming down already.

4 girlfriends, myself, and 2 very sweet and well behaved babies trekked up to Shaver Lake for a night of peace, chatter, junk food, cards, and laughter. One last trip before Dorothy clicks her heels and heads off to Oz.

We started out the trip with a stop at the outlet mall an hour up the road. Banana Republic and Gap were calling our names. From there, with almost every square inch of the car filled with baby stuff, shopping bags, or junk food, we made our way into the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Now, before the peaceful relaxation could begin we had to make it through the winding roads and up a few thousand feet, but then that childhood scent of pine trees hit me. I looked down the mountain into the smoggy valley, and man, was I glad to be up in the trees. We stayed at a friend's cabin, a beautiful, spacious townhouse just outside the town of Shaver Lake.

This trip was also to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday, but later that night when she fell asleep on the couch while we all chattered away, we almost turned it into a 13th birthday party when we threatened to freeze her bra. The funniest part of this story is that our dear friend suspected we would do that, so she HID her bra. There is NO way we are in our 30's!

We stayed up late into the night playing cards and sharing stories and we slept in the next morning. Our wonderful gracious hostess got up before the rest of us and cooked us a yummy breakfast...which had to be delayed just a little when the power went off suddenly. In true chick fashion, we took until noon to get ourselves ready, and then the Nertz competition began (think Solitaire on speed, with 5 screaming girls). By 3pm, we were dreading heading home, but knew we had to, so the clean-up began. In record time, we got everything done and prepared to get in the car.

Of course, the usual always happens after a getaway...the junk food was catching up with us, we were sad we had to go home, we were exhausted from staying up WAY too late, and emotions were high for a TON of different reasons. Our car had our hostess, me, another friend and her baby. We got to the bottom of the mountain and stopped for a caffeine hit and to give the baby a break from the car seat...and for some much needed REAL talk between friends.

It's amazing what you can learn new about a friend over a cup of coffee...even after you've been friends for 15+ years. I'm so thankful for my buddies, and life will not be the same when I'm 1500 miles away from them.

The saga continues...

The movers are gone...but not before they broke the plate over the cable outlet, the moulding on a plant ledge in the basement, AND made a HUGE hole in the wall by my bedroom.

And to think earlier today, I was impressed with how well they were doing. I guess I spoke too soon...

This afternoon while I was explaining to a girlfriend everything that has happened with these movers, my cell phone rang...and who was it, but the customer service manager from the movers -- the woman I've been talking to since my contact went out on "leave". "Leave" is in quotes because this manager lady was calling me to tell me that my contact had been fired for telling me negative and false things about the company. What???

Yup - apparently my contact was fired for being HONEST. Imagine that!! And, oh by the way, my contact DID NOT say disparaging things about the company. She merely told me some websites where I should check out the reputations of movers. After some random man at the office told me that these 2 companies were actually one in the same, I used these websites to find out that the 2nd company was the bad one. My contact did nothing wrong, and I told this manager lady fact, I told her that I CHOSE her company because of the service I received from my contact. Go figures that you lose your job over bringing in business! Sounds to me like they are trying to hide something.

Oh yeah, and don't forget that all my stuff is halfway on their trucks by this turning back! So, after this manager lady asks me to write a glowing review of my experience with them (yeah, right...I'm not opposed to that, but let's wait until the service has been performed, don't ya think?? and see if it's worthy of a glowing review), I hung with her and continued to tell the story to my friend, who I'm pretty sure will NEVER move again, or will at least do it without the assistance of "professionals".

About 45 minutes later, they finish loading everything, and the foreman says we need to finish the paperwork. He walks into the house and goes right for the paperwork, and I say, hold on, let's walk thru the house and make sure everything got loaded. Man, am I glad I did that! On our walk-thru, we found that everything had been loaded, but we found the 3 beforementioned problem areas. He had the nerve to say to me..."are you sure that wasn't there before?"


So, he has to call the office...who promptly says that we can have a $150 discount. Oh, I forgot to mention that this man offered to TAPE up the broken moulding. This isn't a trailer park, is it?

Next up is an issue with the money situation. On top of the astronomical amount to move our goods, he claims to have used $1000 worth of packing supplies -- including 50 rolls of tape! Now, we have spent the last 2 weeks packing EVERYTHING in boxes, with the exception of the furniture. I didn't argue this too much because they did do a good job wrapping and taping all the furniture. So, because of this, the total is higher than I was quoted by a couple hundred dollars. Well, now my check for 40% of the total isn't enough, and he wants the full 40%. I told him, in a calm voice, that the manager lady had said that I only needed 40% of the ESTIMATE, and I could pay the balance at delivery...well, here goes another call to the office. Turns out I'm right...of course.

So, with all things settled, paperwork signed, check handed over, he then turns to me and asks if I want to give him something for the guys? What the???

I said, um, there's a hole in my wall, I bought them McD's for lunch, I think that's he said thank you and left. And now I'm pretty sure my stuff is scattered on the roadway somewhere on the grapevine, never to be seen again. I'm sure glad I took those scrapbooks out!

The next chapter of this story will come once our stuff, or what's left of it, is delivered...unless I've been committed by then.

Not much I can do now...

Well, the day is here...the movers are here and loading things like crazy onto 2 different trucks. We finished the packing about 20 minutes before they arrived today.

There has already been some good news about one aspect of our baby (I mean Saab) arrived safely at my in-laws in small town Kansas. The guy picked it up on time, and arrived on time in KS, and everything worked out great...if anyone ever has to transport a vehicle, I recommend FedEx!

Today a different company is loading all our worldly possessions onto trucks to store them for a week or so, then load them on a DIFFERENT truck to transport them to KS. Everything that has happened with these movers in the last 48 hours is EXACTLY what all the websites say to look out for. I don't know if I'm paranoid or have a legitimate reason to be concerned.

I chose this company based on the great customer service I had in booking them as well as their reputation, as I could verify it. 2 days ago I found out that they operate under a 2nd company name (which shall remain anonymous until this move is over), and this 2nd company has an "F" rating with the BBB. The complaints on file are horrendous -- things getting stolen, broken, held hostage, prices higher than quoted, and on and on.

Since my emotional state of mind is a little tentative these days, I promptly broke into tears! So, of course the first person I call is Mom. Thank God for cell phones! While I was unloading on Mom, the customer service manager called me, so I hung up with mom and clicked over to her. She explained that the company I booked with was an offshoot of a family company (which is the other name I found associated with them), and both companies continued to operate separately. Well, the 2nd company had definite issues and a few months ago they asked the first company to help them fix those problems, so they started operating as the same company. She told me that the crew that was coming to do my move were different people than the other company, and that I had NOTHING to worry about. She said I would be satisfied and she would answer all my questions and stay in touch with me. So, I felt a little better, but I also knew it was too late to change anything.

So, I came home, took my scrapbooks out of the boxes since those can not be replaced, and I made sure that everything was packed extremely well. This morning, they showed up -- only 30 minutes late, but they're coming from LA, so that's understandable. The crew has 7 people, and they're all very nice, and I'm impressed with how well they wrapped the furniture so that it will stay protected in transit. Of course, they charge us extra for every inch of tape they use, so I'm not sure if they're trying to protect my stuff or if they're trying to charge us extra. Oh yeah, the other thing that freaked me out is they showed up in trucks that DO NOT have their company name on them, and one is even an Enterprise rental truck...the internet warns you about that, too.

They had to bring 2 trucks since we have so much stuff, so from here, they'll drive to LA, unload everything in storage (which sounds ridiculous to me as an industrial engineer -- how inefficient is that??!), then RELOAD in some time in the next week to 10 days, and drive it to KS. We bought them all McDonald's for lunch, hoping to make a connection with them which will translate into more care for our stuff.

They've worked very quickly, and they're friendly...I'll keep you updated as the process's out of my hands and right into God's now. Please God watch out for us!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Fresh Mowed Grass

This morning I was driving around with the top down running errands when all of a sudden, I smelled one of the most wonderful scents in the world...fresh mowed lawn. Not just like someone mowing their front lawn...I'm talking about acres of lawn being on a school campus. And then it hit me, a very distinct memory of starting school as a child. I always associated starting school with the clean fresh smell of just mowed grass. A new school year, a new beginning, and newly mowed grass...

So, then I started thinking of all the other scents I associate with growing up. Here are a few:

  • The smell of black permanent markers reminds me of school field mom would wrap a can of Coke in foil and pack our lunches in brown paper bags with our names written in black markers on the outside. A can of Coke was a treat reserved just for field trips.
  • Ammonia and disinfectect...the nursing home where my Great Grandpa spent his final years. I loved him and I loved visiting with him and family when we went to see him, but I HATED the smell of the hospital. To help us escape the sadness of the halls, Dad would take us to the old Coke machine - where you put in your money, slid the door over and pulled out a bottle of Coke - and get us a treat.
  • Pine trees...clean, fresh, strong...the scent we smelled about 25 minutes before we reached our camping destination in the Sequoia Mountains. We knew we were getting close when Dad rolled down the window, we breathed in clean air, and we smelled the trees.
  • Eucalyptus trees...the smell of the Central Coast of California...a smell I came to love during college...when the central coast became my home. Every time I go back to visit, a million memories come rushing back from college.

For just a few minutes this morning, I was transported back to the first day of every year of elementary school...when life was much simpler...and fresh mowed grass signified the beginning of something new and exciting.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

End of an era

I'm not sure if I'd call it an era, but I had my last day at work today. I've been there over 3 years...that's a record for me. The only other place I've worked longer was my part time job in college where I worked in the bookstore for about 3 1/2 years.

It didn't feel like my last day. I worked 10 hours (just like normal), took a 15 minute lunch break, ran around like I was going to miss a deadline -- which I guess I kinda did since I still have my phone and my laptop even though I'm officially off the payroll. What do you call that? It didn't start to hit me that I was leaving until I loaded the last box in the car and started to drive away. I think for the next week or so I'll feel like I'm just on vacation. In fact, at the Karaoke bar tonight (my final going away party -- there have been 3 or 4 and NO, I DID NOT SING), we heard about an injury that happened at the plant this afternoon, and I asked questions like it was still my business. Isn't this the have a job and be part of a company where you feel so connected?

I love my company -- oops, former company. At least I love everyone at my location. We had our rough times, no question, but lately, things were wonderful. I'm going to miss that. I think I'll find something similar at my new job, but it will take time to create those relationships that made this job so great. Those great relationships mean that I will keep in touch with many people, but it won't be the same, and we'll slowly lose touch.

My team gave me the GREATEST going away gift. 2 tickets to see my NFL team play at home (which will now be close to my new home). How awesome is that??? And they're good seats to boot. My hubby and I have been strategizing how we were going to score tickets to EVERY home game this year....well, we're one game closer to that goal. Go Team!

Oh, and I finally reserved an auto transport for my baby, er, car. I booked with a division of FedEx...nothing I could find on the internet said anything bad about them...AND they insure my car for up to $100,000, AND it gets to ride in an ENCLOSED trailer. I'll let you know how it goes. The bad news is they have to pick up the car this week, otherwise, I might have to wait for 3-4 weeks for another truck. That means that my in-laws will have to receive and store the car until I get there about 12 days from now.

Now...if we could just sell that house...actually, both houses...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sell this house!

Have you ever watched the show Sell This House on A&E? This team goes in and helps people who are having a hard time selling their house. Usually, they make recommendations like remove the clutter, make sure everything is clean, go with neutral colors...HELLOO!!! I've done all that! From Day One!

Why is no one buying my house? Hmm, I guess it's because the bottom has dropped out of the market in the last 9 months.

We had an open house today...1 person came. Of course, it only takes one person to buy a house, but was this the right person?

My house is IMMACULATE. It hasn't been this clean since we moved in. I scrubbed and decluttered and scrubbed and vacuumed and it looks great!!

Sell This House would walk into my house and say the same thing that I'm saying...why isn't this house selling??

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Freezer Finds

Have you ever decided to not buy any new food and just live off what is currently in your fridge, pantry and freezer?

Well, that becomes a necessity when you're moving. My husband keeps freaking out that we have nothing to eat...but we have tons to eat! Ethiopian kids would be in heaven! You just might have to put together some non-traditional about some pinto beans, tuna, and frozen berries? Or maybe some mustard, italian dressing, dried milk and green beans?

I have to say that we're doing a pretty good job working through some of that stuff. The canned stuff I can move, but we have to get rid -- one way or another -- of all the perishable stuff. I cleaned out the fridge the other day, and there's not too much left. We'll never finish all the mustard and salad dressing, but we're trying pretty hard to eat up the more expensive stuff.

I think we should all do this a couple times a year...even if you're not moving anywhere...I can't believe how much junk we buy that never gets eaten...ever!!

I FINALLY started packing today after my mom reminded me that the movers show up in 12 days. I packed 3 boxes, and then I got tired. Of course, I'm also trying to get the house spotless for an open house we're having tomorrow. So, I think I've been pretty productive today.

Our ding dong realtor put a key in the lockbox that DOES NOT WORK! We had 2 different people who wanted to see the house yesterday, and they couldn't get in! Hopefully they'll come tomorrow during the open house.

I still haven't booked anyone to transport my car to KS. Are there no more honest people left in this world??? Every time I find a company that I think might transport my car safely and honestly...I find some horror story about them on the internet, and then I freak out again. If we weren't planning to drive from CA to KS in 2.5 days, then I would suggest to B that we just drive our own cars. The plan is to drive his car with the dogs and take turns driving so we can make better time...but if we drive that much, I don't want to be in separate cars because someone will probably end up falling asleep.

Anyone know of a good auto transport company??? I need help!

Well, I've been sitting on the couch for too long...better start packing or cleaning again!