Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Hodge Podge From the Last 2 Weeks

Okay since I haven't written in like, forever, this is my attempt to catch up on the goings-on of my life over the past couple of weeks. So what's new and exciting? Well, I started my new job last Tuesday. I'm still not sure what to make of it. There's a ton of stuff to learn and I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. But the people I work with are pretty nice and have been very helpful so far. My supervisor is great, too.

I get the impression though, that things in our department/program aren't all that organized and there is miscommunication & bad feelings between them and administration. Definitely things I need to work on while I'm essentially the middle man (woman) there. My commute in the mornings is about 40 minutes and almost an hour going home. Could be worse, I suppose. I'm grateful to have a job which pays me fairly. Hopefully I'll be good at it.

Gregg and I are still looking here and there for another place to rent. We've discovered some strange things about the house we're currently living in, which are also pretty amusing. The light switches in most of the rooms seem to be placed illogically- like the one for the kitchen is out in the hallway and the one for the master bathroom is in the bedroom. There is also carpet in all of the bathrooms. Ew, I don't even want to think about what kind of grossities are just hiding and breeding between the fibers. And then there's the air conditioning- the master bedroom has ten vents in it alone, freezing us out every time we go in there, while the rest of the house cooks from the massive amount of floor to ceiling windows. None of the features have been updated since the house was built in 1985, so it is literally like being trapped in time. We have traveled in the Delorean from Back to the Future and are eternally stuck in the 80's. Mauve colored carpet sprawls out in every direction and brass plated fixtures adorn every bathroom.

And the piece de resistance: Monday night as I was getting ready for bed, I turned on the bathroom faucet and no water came out. I checked the faucets in the other bathrooms and kitchen- no water. I told Gregg and he went down into the basement to investigate. Our landlord had "fixed" this problem before we moved in (apparently it is a recurring problem that the water stops flowing to the house) by doing something with the water pressure, but it didn't work. Gregg concluded that it was a clogged pipe, but didn't want to fix it himself since this isn't our house to "mess around with", and said he'd call Mr. Stouffer in the morning. So with no running water to brush our teeth or take showers with, we had to improvise. Gregg went out to his truck and brought in one of the gallon containers of water he used for Tess on our trip up here from Florida. There was still 3/4 left, so I used it the next morning to wash my face and hair in the sink. Forget the 80's- we were now back in the 1800's! Oy.

We are getting an incredible deal though, by staying here. It would be nice to actually unpack, oh I don't know, one entire box and really get settled in our own place. There are still several boxes with our stuff sitting in the garage, some opened, some not. We have a few good leads that we're pursuing and hopefully they'll allow a dog.

On May 21 our niece, Katelyn Elizabeth, was born to Gregg's brother and his wife. She arrived a day early by C-section. So that makes a grand total of 6 family members now, between the two of us, who have birthdays within two weeks of each other. They couldn't spread them out more?

Last weekend, we had a very nice visit with my mom and sister. The last time I saw Valerie was Christmas of 2005. Gregg and I took them on a tour of Chambersburg and showed them around the massive house, we took turns looking at each other's pictures, then went out for dinner at Cracker Barrel. Val left that night to go back home and my mom stayed over and went to church with me the next morning. I made a pot roast in the afternoon for an early dinner and for dessert, we got ice cream. Memorial Day wasn't all that spectacular. In the morning, I did laundry and ironed. That afternoon on their way back from North Carolina, Gregg's parents met us right off of 81 for a late lunch at Red Robin. We caught up and his mom showed off pictures of the new baby. It was a nice time.

So hopefully it won't be another 2+ weeks until I post again. Before I know it another month has just flown by.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Yes, I am still alive

We made it! I can't believe we've been here for over two weeks already, and I'm just now getting around to blogging. I have a million and one things to write about, too. So I'll just start at the beginning...

The movers showed up at 8:30 am Monday, the 23rd. We still hadn't packed everything, having called it quits around 10 the night before. We thought we would have plenty of time to get that all wrapped up in the morning before the movers came. But as it turned out, we didn't get up until after 7! So while Gregg was out at Dunkin' Donuts getting donuts and coffee for us & the guys, I frantically threw the last minute stuff in boxes. The movers were done loading the truck by about noon and we hung around for another hour cleaning up and doing a final walk through to make sure we didn't leave anything behind. With all of our furniture gone, the house looked completely different and well, weird. We also packed up our cars pretty good with whatever didn't go in the moving truck.

Before we could actually hit the highway, we had to run to the church and pick up Gregg's final paycheck, then go to the bank and the post office. We squeezed lunch in there somewhere, then came back to the house to get my car and swung by Doggie Daycare to get Tess who was there all morning. Finally, by 4:00 we made it onto I-95. Not even fifteen minutes into driving, I was like "are we there yet??", knowing that we still had another fifteen hours to go. We had barely made it out of the county when I had to stop for my first potty break. We were not making good time at all, and our goal was to make it out of Florida by bedtime. The trip was more difficult because we had Tess with us and needed to stop more often so she could be fed and walked.

Once we crossed the state line into Georgia, we stopped for the night at this rather sketchy looking motel- again because we had the dog. After breakfast at-where else?-Waffle House the next morning, we started driving again. Somehow we made really good time that day, even stopping for an extended break in South Carolina. On our way through NC, we stopped at Gregg's sister Lori's for dinner. We had a good time seeing our nieces and nephews, and Tess got to meet & play with her cousin, Rosie. They wanted us to stay over, but we felt we needed to get back on the road so we could make it to Pennsylvania by early evening the next day, figuring the moving truck would show up sometime on Thursday that week. We stopped at a much better, much cleaner Motel 6 for the night and actually got an inside room this time since all the outside ones were already taken.

After a restful sleep, we decided to have another artery clogging breakfast at Waffle House (really, are we gluttons for punishment?) and hit the road once again. The longest stretch of our trip by far was our drive through Virginia, once we got out of NC. It seemed to go on forever. Halfway through I thought I would have a psychotic break. I was just so ready to get to our destination, I nearly forgot to take in the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains which were breathtaking. When I thought I could go on no more, suddenly there appeared signs for West Virginia and we stopped shortly after the state line to gas up one last time. WV and Maryland flew by after the nearly four hour drive through VA, and it was only another 25 minutes after that to get to Chambersburg. We ended up arriving about 5:30.

We had decided before leaving Florida not to take the townhouse after all. Because we were not familiar with the area, we had no idea where it was located and it was a stretch for our budget. We didn't want to be tied down for a year with something we were not completely comfortable with, but that also left us without a place to live. We were just trusting that God would provide us with housing. The night before we left, Gregg got an email from the church administrator with the name and number of a couple who wanted to rent out their 5,000 square foot estate on a farm to us for whatever we could afford. It used to be their primary residence, but they moved out when the farm land was sold. It's still completely furnished though, and the wife and one of their daughters run a business out of the basement. So here was this jaw dropping offer that just literally fell into our laps hours before we moved. God is truly amazing.

When we got to Chambersburg, Gregg called the woman, Nancy, to let her know we were here and even though she had just gotten home from grocery shopping, she said she'd meet us at the house. You couldn't even see the house from the road, it's set that far back. We drove down another half mile driveway and as we neared a turn, we could finally catch a glimpse. Nancy greeted us warmly and gave us a full tour of the house, insisting that we stay there for the night instead of going to a motel. Then she took us out for dinner at one of the local fares. I felt like such a slob in her presence after having driven all day, wearing a t-shirt and ratty jeans that were really too light for the surprising 50 degree weather we were suddenly encountering. She didn't seem to mind at all, and regaled us with questions about ourselves over dinner.

Once we got back to the house, we sort of stumbled around dumbfounded at its largeness. We joke that we need to call each other on our cell phones in order to find one another now. It really is a nice house with an amazing view of farmland and the mountains, but it has a few drawbacks: there is no cable connection anywhere inside so we have to use dial-up which can be painfully slow and one of the reasons I haven't posted until just now. We were shocked that they run a business downstairs and don't have high-speed internet. With no cable, being this far out in the country, we also only get about three channels on our tv using rabbit ears. Oh well, the price we have to pay for living in a mansion with our own private jacuzzi and master suite!

The other downside: we had to give Tess up. Gregg's parents came the first weekend we were in PA to get her so she could live with them. It's a temporary arrangement, until we find a permanent place to live that will accept pets. We both miss her. After my in-laws left, I cried. We are happy she is being taken care of by his parents and grandpa though. I didn't know I could get that attached to a dog, but she became part of our family. Once she was gone, it really hit home even more that we had moved and left our life in Florida behind.

Alright, so Thursday comes and almost goes with no word from the movers and I start to get anxious. I prodded Gregg to call the company and ask when they are expected to arrive. The lady on the phone tells him "tomorrow or the next day". Um, okay. While I'm out at a job interview Friday afternoon, Gregg gets a call from the movers saying they're about an hour away somewhere in Virginia. He thinks he hears them incorrectly because there's no way you can be anywhere in VA and only be an hour away from Chambersburg. He tacks on about another three hours to that time frame, and sits tight. I get home around 4:30 and we get to talking to Bob and Nancy, the owners of the house. After they leave, I put a pot pie in the oven for dinner and we go for a short walk around the property. By this time it's after 7 and still no movers. We clean up from dinner and rest for a while in the sitting area.

8:30. I'm nearly falling asleep on the couch, wondering if these guys will ever show up with our stuff. Around 9:15, Gregg makes the executive decision that they aren't arriving that night because it's so late and will just come the next day so he says we should go in the hot tub. Ten after ten, he gets a call on his cell phone. It's the movers. They have finally arrived and are wondering where the house is. I'm like, are you freaking kidding me?? So we have to get out, dry off, throw on some clothes and go meet them outside. I was NOT a happy camper.

One of the guys gets out of the truck and asks me how I'm doing. I have matted, wet hair and I look sunburned from the hot water I had just been in. I gave him a tight smile and said "fine". All the while, I still can't believe this is actually happening, that it's 10:15 at night and the movers have just shown up. We let him through the garage to the kitchen so we can give him the check from the church for their final payment and to sign some paperwork. He opens the envelope and says "I can't take this. It's not a certified check." Gregg says, "Your company told me cash or check." He insists that my husband heard incorrectly because they never accept anything other than a check issued by the bank. Gregg tells him that the check was written by King Street, the same people who put down the deposit, and if he needs a certified check they'll have to wait until the next day and come back then to unload our stuff. He's informed that we'll be charged some crazy sum of money for having to hold our things for an additional day.

Now here's where it got ridiculous. Gregg tries to keep his cool, but I can see him coming unglued at this point. He says to the guy that it isn't his fault they didn't show up until after ten, four hours after they were scheduled to arrive, and that Saturday shouldn't count as an additional day because they didn't get here on time. He asks to speak to the guy's supervisor so he gets her on the phone for him. She isn't the most friendly or understanding person to deal with either, unfortunately. Gregg tries to work something out with her, explaining that these guys only just showed up at our house and have been rude to us. He understands he misunderstood the thing about the check, but there's nothing he can do about it at that late hour. She suggests he put it on a credit card because they can't release any of our stuff until they get paid somehow. The only credit card that we have just for emergencies won't hold the amount, plus the extra 5% the moving company is charging us to use one.

It's almost 11 o'clock by this time and none of our things have been unloaded. Either way, it looks like someone is going to be charged up the wazoo in order for us to be able to get our furniture. The lady just is not sympathetic to the situation we find ourselves in and unwilling to compromise. So Gregg is left with no other option but to call and wake up Jonathan Ford, the pastor of worship arts. He happens to still be awake and tells Gregg he'll call the church administrator about the situation. When he calls back he says that both he and Ken Adams, the administrator, are on their way over to resolve things. I was so relieved and blown away by the fact that they were willing to come here so late at night to help us.

It still takes about another half an hour for them to get everything straightened out. Ken tells the guys that the contract he has says that they have thirty days from the time they unload to pay them. The guy that was giving us problems tells him that that was through a broker and has nothing to do with his company's policy. Rather than arguing the point, Ken just gives the movers his company credit card so that we can finally just get our stuff. It's freaking midnight already and we're still looking at another two hours, at least, for them to unload everything off the truck. And Gregg's parents and grandpa are coming later that same morning. Craptastic.

We had them unload most of the stuff into the three car garage since we really only needed our kitchen table, beds, the tv, and the boxes full of our clothes. Ken and Jonathan hung around to make sure all our things got off the truck and nothing was damaged. They didn't end up leaving until 2:30 am. I was so tired and annoyed at the stupid movers. We only got about four hours of sleep before we were up again to get ready for my in-laws' visit. What a nightmare. I don't think I can ever trust a moving company again.

But, all of our belongings made it here and we have settled in as much as we can in a place that's not really ours. Gregg started his new job on May 1 and loves it. I was offered a job just yesterday, which I'm starting on the 21st. I'll be running a supported employment program at a large social services agency, supervising three other social workers. It sounds very interesting and challenging, as I've never supervised people before. My caseload will be relatively small, made up of 7 or 8 clients who I'll be helping obtain employment in the community. While I'm there, I'm going to go for my social work license, which they strongly encouraged me to get and will also offer me higher pay for.

Things are falling into place little by little. I always take transitions hard, and this is no exception. It's hard to move to whole other place completely unfamiliar, to give up our dog, to live out of boxes, to find a new job, to fit into a church where I don't know anybody. I still struggle with the changes that have to take place in order for us to make our way here.

I think it's safe to say I never, ever want to move again... with the exception of moving into a more permanent house just across town someday. I'm finding it weird that with any move you lose certain things and yet gain others at the same time. Trying to reconcile those things and make sense of it is a complicated, head spinning process. I want to rush right through the awkward beginning stage and just feel settled. Is that too much to ask for?

It's comforting, however, that we are in close proximity to our families. And actually seeing spring again is pretty wonderful- trees budding with apple blossoms and a cool breeze blowing through the windows. I am so looking forward to fall here.

If you're still reading, I congratulate you. I had to write this post over several days and am finally getting around to finishing it today. Did I mention dial-up is painful?