Phlogging the new place…

Tis the eve before leaving….for Biloxi that is–and I’ll be in bed soon to try and sleep before the travel day.

I’ll be blogging directly from Biloxi tomorrow night so–please, stay tuned.

Meanwhile, a phlog of the Birthday bash/housewarming last weekend:


Myself and pals Dave and Bud out on the patio enjoying the evening…


Pastor Craig and his wife Kristine enjoying the Birthday bash…


Scoop the wonderdog in the new living room


Pic taken from the front door through the entry hall. I know–you probably don’t care–but, it’s a moment for posterity here, folks. Allow me to savor the moment.


The place from the street. Not bad, eh? We’re pretty happy and thankful. So, that’s the end of the boring family blog. Tomorrow night, I’ll see you from Biloxi where the blogging will be decidedly more….poignant? Well, I hope. There’s certainly a lot to write about…..and I’ll do it tomorrow.

August Malaise

This year is taking a little bit longer to get used to in the classroom. I’m a little busier, a little more rushed and harried than usual. Part of it seems to be that I’m getting older, I guess. I find myself more tired than I’d like to be, more ready for the evening to be settled in and quiet than I used to. I’m just not sure what that is–whether it’s just 16 years in the classroom or maybe that I’m just tired in general of this particular job at this particular time–I cannot tell. Regardless, it’s day two of year 16–and I’m beat.

Suffice to say that gettting up at 4:00 A.M. on Friday morning is going to be awfully tough. I will do so, though–and drive up to Westlake Village to pick up my pal Joe–and he and I will drive down to Burbank Airport to head east–destination: New Orleans. From there, we’ll meet our friend Ray and we will drive the 90 miles to Biloxi, MS. It is there we will meet with all those with whom we are familiar and with whom we have a connection. I’m really excited to do it. As my wife will attest, I’m not the world’s greatest air traveler, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do…I will of course post from here and from The Acorn, so stay tuned–and read much. It’s a different world, I am certain.

Having problems with the left side of my sciatica recently. I had an MRI back in May that found no disc problems, which is nice, but I am in a great deal of pain for some reason. I’ll hazard a guess that this is from moving for the past couple of weeks. It is pervading my mood, I think–and so tonight is kind of low.

There are some bright spots. The Yearbook staff has been assembled and is preparing for a whopper of a year. We’ve got good editors and a strong staff–so we’ll get that ball rolling very soon. The usual IT bureaucracy has created a problem for our brand new computers and the result in that they’re still sitting in their boxes–but, I am in hopes that they’ll get taken care of. We shall see.

I’m rambling. Unfortunate because it isn’t helping much. I ask for prayers for safe travels. Goodnight.

Peanut and the trip

The night before her first day in kindergarten, Peanut has a double ear infection and a sinus infection. She doesn’t feel well at all–and in fact, was in bed at 6:30. I’ve checked since. She’s out. Poor thing. A good night’s sleep and the anti-biotics should help. Mom also gave her a dose of Motrin laced with children’s Tylenol to cool the fever.

Now, friends–it is time to gear up for a major blogging report. For a year, many of you know I’ve been involved in a Hurricane Katrina relief effort in Bilox, MS. I have gotten to know many of these people and their families and friends via e-mail and phone for that year. Well–no more. Friday morning, my pals Joe and Ray from our Church–will leave for Biloxi via New Orleans. I will blog the entire thing and will post photos (provided I can find that friggin’ cable that connects the camera to the Mac!) from Biloxi and I will post often.

I’ve also been contracted to write several pieces for the Acorn, a local paper up in Westlake Village, about the trip and so I’ll post with them as well. If they have a website to access the pieces, I’ll provide it here. It’s a whirlwind trip that sees us arrive in the South Friday around dinnertime and then leaving New Orleans Airport on Monday morning bright and early. But in that time, we will pack in a great deal of activity including a lot of meeting folks, touring the areas, Sunday worship and of course, some southern cuisine.

We are watching Tropical Storm/Hurricane Ernesto, but so far, the track for that storm looks to be avoiding the Gulf–except for Florida.

And maybe I’ll post from there next year….

Big Birthday Bash

Last night’s Birthday/House-warming was a success, I’d say. Lots of good friends whom Sue and Laurie personally chose to come spend the evening with us, eat some food, drink some wine (OK-a bit too much, I admit. First time I’ve done that in a Looooong time), and enjoy each other’s company.

The new house is taking shape under Sue’s direction and it really is becoming our dream house. I’m really happy with it, if a little overwhelmed at times by its size. It’s close to 3K square feet and I’m just not used to that. We’ve had no trouble filling it up which is merely a testament to how much crap we own and could do without–but, it is beginning to be a home–and that’s a nice feeling.

My 16th year of teaching has begun–but tomorrow the kids come for the first time, so that’s the official measure, I guess. As the new adviser for the newspaper, adding that to the Yearbook which I already oversee, it should prove to be an interesting year indeed. I am a little nervous about the challenge, but I think I am up to it.

My writing career took a hiatus this summer without me knowing it. Obviously as a teacher, I find that summer is the main time I have to write for publication but what with performing in Othello this summer and moving in to the new house, I just have not been able to spend the time that I needed to submitting pieces and going after stories. I’ve missed it a little, but blogging is a nice way to keep the old hands in, as they say.

Photos to be posted of house–and party—later today.

Biloxi

I have tickets along with a couple of friends from church to leave this Friday for Biloxi, MS. Some of you may recall I’ve been involved in a Katrina relief effort down there and since I’ve never actually been there, I wanted to go and meet all these fine folks. Hurricane Ernesto, however, is making tracks toward the Gulf and it may make our flying experience less then pleasant. We’re only gone for next weekend and if there are significant flight delays, it may mean we pull back. So–if you’re of a mind to, pray that Ernesto moves out of the way, slows down or dissapates, would you? And pray even harder that this storm doesn’t hurt anyone.

UPDATE: I will post photos as soon as I find and unpack the photo cable…oy.

Cat in the Kitchen

As a food and wine guy, I have to comment on something that is rather extraordinary.

Our mortgage broker happens to be a personal friend and a really good guy. He’s the drummer in the band that I played in with and for my friend, Edd. Mike is a quality dude with a lot of heart and a real desire to help out not only his friends but his customers, too.

Well, seeing as we steered the buyer of our home to Mike, he gave us a little gift: Four nights of meals prepared for us by a woman named Catherine (Cat in the Kitchen). She’s a chef who happens to be the sister of the owner of La Dolce Vita in Oxnard, a restaurant I reviewed a couple of years ago. The owner’s husband was a former neighbor of mine and–well, it’s a small world after all….

Anyway, Cat’s food–not cat food–but Catherine’s food–is stupendous! After dinner tonight, I ran some errands for Sue and I had a taste in my mouth that reminded me of having eaten at a fine restaurant; a velvety sensation on the tongue and a kind of multi-textured and flavorful feeling in the back of the throat–like I’d just sipped really good wine after biting into meat in a rich sauce….which is in fact what I’d done. But that was fully 45 minutes after I ate. And this was food that was brought to us on Tuesday and we nuked it tonight for dinner. It was outstanding.

Stuffed chicken breast, it was–with vegetables and a light sauce. A little pasta with some fresh squashes and asparagus rounded it out and man……. Man! Sunday night is Chicken Piccata and I cannot wait (we’re having Sue’s and Laurie’s delayed birthday party tomorrow evening)!

I haven’t found a website for Cat–though I think she should have one (are you reading?) and her food is outstanding. What a gift–what a great and wonderful gift to give a couple of foodies…

A Cautionary Tale…

Warning: The following is a deconstruction of events from the last few days. It contains a great deal of analysis, backsliding, rear-view mirroring and other assorted falderal. It is by no means a good and fine piece of writing. But…then, it doesn’t have to be.

Well, arriving home from Pismo Beach a week ago, we were still (perhaps thankfully) naive about the task before us. Movers were to show up on Friday morning and begin the haul two miles from our then home–to this new one.

The thing we did not count on is just how much crap we really own. I use the word crap here quite specifically. We own stuff that sat in boxes for nearly 5 years in the old house. We didn’t need it then–we don’t need it now, but my wife wants to have it out and not in boxes. As my friend Brian would say, none of this is essential to my happiness–so, we have it here. I do confess, my wife is a wonderful homemaker and the house (this one–the new one) really does look good.

I could go into a lot of detail here, but it would be lost on the real story–which is this. It was not really until yesterday, some six full days after we began the move, that we really totally emptied the house. And even then, I went back today to throw away some of the trash piles that I’d neatly stacked along the side of the house, and found two framed pictures that we had totally forgotten. Left them right on the wall and ignored them, we did.

So, on Saturday, I decided that having the water turned off was a bad idea. We had some cleaning to do and were going to be in the house for a while. It seemed a good idea to call the city and have the water turned back on. So, I did. And then, I left to attend to matters at the new house.

Well…..

What I had not done, what the movers didn’t do, was turn off the connecting pipe between the water purifier and the refrigerator. That line was apparently open still and no one was in the house. You know where this is going.

When I got back to the house, there was standing water all over the kitchen and dining room. It was less than an inch, but still–it was there. I found the shut-off valve, cranked it to the right and began mopping up with towels, rags–even a couple of old floor rugs that lacked the rubber backing they normally had. I called Sue and she came over to check it out. It’s laminate flooring, after all–how bad could it be? We mopped it up, right? We caught it before it got too bad, right?

Well….

Saturday night, Sue went over to do some more cleaning and hauling out and she called me to tell me that the laminate boards had indeed warped. They weren’t bad, but they were definitely warped. Sis-in-law mentioned she’d seen a show that said if this happens, place heavy weights on the boards after they’re dry. Off I went to Home Depot to rent a floor/carpet dryer. Got it Sunday morning, ran it for 24 hours, placed 40 pound gravel bags over the various warps. We slept well–it looked good and we had hope.

More fool us.

Monday morning came and not one board had flattened. In fact, they looked worse. Things were bad. Let me state the obvious:

We’re in escrow and we’ve just ruined the laminte flooring (about 75 square feet of an 800 square foot area). We remodeled and put the floor in three years ago. Two years ago, we learned that this particular laminate flooring is no longer being distributed. We talked then about buying a couple of boxes worth so we had it on hand for emergencies. We never did get past the talking stage. The bottom line here was that it appeared that we were going to have to rip up the entire 800 square foot area and replace the floor. This looked to be a minimum of a $4,000.00 repair.

We considered calling our pal Lance, the realtor who sold the house–and our new neighbor now–to tell him to go to the buyers and knock 4K off the price of the house. We considered (for a moment) trying to do it ourselves. Yeah–that was our response too.

I called Lou. Lou is our friend from church and a good, good man. He first worked on helping me not to panic. “Call Conejo Hardwoods,” he said. This was the supplier he worked with originally. “Give them the info and see if they have any left. If not–we’ll look at Plan B.” Plan B of course was a full floor replacement.

Well, Dave at Conejo reiterated what we knew–out of distribution now, wanted to check the warehouse and see what he had–he’d call me back. Yeah, right.

Well, 10 minutes later, Dave called back. “Mr. Storer? You must be a religious man.” I laughed. “I’ve got 25 boxes left. How many you want?” I bought 15 and Dave sold them to me for 89 cents a square foot. They do not make this stuff anymore and so he gave me a break on price. Of course, it’s also non-refundable.

Well, today–Lou found room in his cramped schedule to help out and began ripping up the damaged part of the floor. I was with him when he did and sure enough, the bottom of the floors–the laminate boards–were still wet. Droplets of water clung to them fully five days after the spill. This was after having a floor drier on them and being mopped for an hour. Note to self—laminate flooring does NOT handle water well. At all.

Meanwhile, we came close to falling out of escrow…..again. Our buyer is selling their home and their buyer was having some issues, so there was talk that they would fall out of escrow for a second time. Indeed, for a while, we were preparing for precisely that eventuality and how to handle the financial ramifications.

Things are a bit brighter today. We’ve got the floor replacement boards and Lou is on the job. Escrow is holding and the word was contingency problems have been removed. As I said….Oy.

I realize that reporting this is no good without the real reflection that events like this ought to bring. As usual, though–I find reflection brings with it the truth of simplicity and even a dash of faith. We took a risk when we went to buy this house without first selling the old one. We were prepared to accept that risk and it looked for a while as though the “worst case scenario” was going to take place. But even so, we took the risk because we knew that the upside was moving our family to a better home in a better neighborhood where Shannon could have friends (she already has two good friends on the street and they’ve played together nearly everyday we’ve been here). Even if escrow falls through, this was still the right thing to do.

Perhaps more than anything, it’s a realization that choosing to “move-up” to a bigger or better or whatever–house–is in itself a risk. But once in a while, a good calculated risk is a good thing to do….for the whole family. In the end, the cautionary part of this tale is this: to avoid risks is to avoid life.

Back on Deck!

OK–we are back. It has taken some time, but the system has been sufficiently Storer-ized and we now have wireless and hardwired Internet access from home. No more paying with the credit card sitting in coffee shops, thank God. Well-the coffee was always good, anyway. I’ll have pics to post soon.

Tonight, a round unvarnished tale will I deliver of our whole course of moving. There are tales within tales and stories within stories. We are flat out exhausted and it really wasn’t until yesterday that we actually got fully out of the old house. That’s a six-day moving process. Simply wild.

Well, hopefully you all have not abandoned me and are still reading. Until tonight, gentles.

A Quick Blast from Nowhere-ville

I write to you from the shameful wi-fi spot at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Had to pay 4 bucks for an Internet connection. What happened to free wi-fi? It’s not enough I pay 4 bucks for the coffee? I get Internet and coffee—8 bucks. What a flippin’ bargarin.

Anyway, Time Warner Cable has to rewire our entire house and so we will not have Internet access from home until Tuesday. For those of you who know me and have my other contact information, please call rather than e-mail. I won’t be accessing e-mails very frequently until Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.

We’re still in process of moving and all is going well–but VERY slowly. Our new house is now filled with furniture and stuff–but then, the old house has STUFF too and we’re not fully out yet. Probably won’t be until early next week. Oh well. We have time-and we’re slower than we once were, so we’ll use the time we have.

Lots of wine news to report, but no time right now. Again, if you know me–or need to contact me, please use my phone numbers that you have. Otherwise–see you all Tuesday!

Last Post from the Old Home

Short and sweet gentles–the moving van is rolling up to the house and we are outta here! This will be my last post from this address and that is momentous only because my first post was from this address. We’ve lived in this house for 5 years and now–time to move on. Hard to believe it’s been that long as Peanut has turned from an infant to a child in this house and I went from a teacher to a writer (well, I do both now) and my wife went from Hospital Employee to MOM to homemaker to Consultant and Mom—all here.

So, not much sadness, but truly fond memories. And now—new ones to be made. When I get the Internet connection rolling at the new place, I’ll set up again and post–probably Sunday. Good day!

Home again

From home. I don’t want to be here, actually. We had so much fun in Pismo Beach that getting in the car to come home today was literally a chore. The hotel was perfect–the food was great–we did a lot of nothing and wanted to do still more of it. Yesterday was the full vacation day in which we drove up the coast a little further after a morning jaunt on the beach collecting sea-shells with Peanut. We made it up to Piedras Blancas and saw the male elephant seals finishing their end of summer molt. There were no females, so no jousting amongst the boys. They rather lounged about and flipped sand on themselves, occasionally grunted to one another and moved into position for a nice nap. Sue got some great photos, but they’re on analogue so I cannot post yet. I’ll scan when I get them–they’re worth staring at.

Back to Pismo then and dinner with Keith and Tina at Old Vienna. Keith was in Uncle mode and played with Peanut with abandon. He is and was a great father and since his are teenagers now, he was having fun with the 5-year old. “You’re going to miss this when she gets older,” he said several times to us in earnest. “This is really a great age.” That it is.

We bought knick-knacks in Cambria for the new house and we spent time downtown in Cambria just walking around and enjoying an atmosphere we used to know so well. Before Peanut was born, we would go to Pismo/SLO/Cambria probably four or five times a year. Now–we’re lucky if we get there each summer what with Peanut and all. Travel has only recently (in the past 2 years) been really great and so we intend to take advantage of that.

Home today for the last day in our house as we prepare for the big move tomorrow. I’ll have more to say on that subject sometime tomorrow evening…