Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ok, so now what?

My blogs seem to be titled according to where I live. Every time I move I need to find a new name. "Somewhere in Indiana" worked fine in Indiana. "Stories from the Mist" seemed to work here, though I never got any great stories like I hoped, because I was either killing my soul working at Walmart or watching my husband suffer from endless allergies. Now I have itchy eyes and I'm coughing. The cabin filter in the car is moldy and it makes me cough, so we need to change it. Stuff keeps growing on the car. It's hard to live in the Mist. Half the population here is on multiple medications just to make it through the day.

Hubby and I had a great time walking the trails. For all his suffering, he did immensely enjoy our walks, as I did with him. I have a bazillion pictures, some of them are pretty awesome. We are both ready to move. I'm not crying anymore. I broke up with the Smith River. I have pictures, rocks and a video. One day I will come back to visit my daughter, in summer, maybe August or September, and we will visit that spot again. I can't go now, the winter rains have turned the river into a killing machine.

I never really got used to the winding mountain roads. They were ok in summer, but in winter they just want to kill you. We passed 4 landslides on the way home from Eureka yesterday. They were cleared, but marked by Caltrans. Last Chance Grade has so many layers of new pavement it's like driving a roller coaster.

If you visit, come in July, August or September. Summer is glorious here. It's dry, so the roads don't fall apart. Summer is sunny and mild, you won't get sick here in summer. Leave before the rains start in mid-October.

So...what is next? Stories from the Mist doesn't seem to fit Wisconsin.

Some of the stuff on the car. As hard as it rains, you would think it would be squeaky clean.




Ok, so now, should I come up with a new name for my blog?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Packing, by the square foot

When the representative for the moving company came out to give us a quote, he did a walk-through and made lots of notes on his tablet. The result was sticker-shock, so I called him a couple days later and went over things...we decided not to take the second-hand table. There were several other things we wanted to sell, and we wanted to pare it down from 19 bins to something more affordable. So he offered to come back out the following week. We spent the weekend repacking, recycling, re-homing and selling.

Even though I'm still not fully packed, the second visit was a success. We got the quote down to $3,000. That includes the couch, love seat, glass-topped coffee table, glass-topped end tables, computer desk, small desk, small chest freezer, bed, drawers, and bins, this time, only 9 of them, plus some boxes. We still feel this is a better deal than trying to stuff a U-haul and drive it through possible winter weather over 2,000 miles while towing our car. The good thing is, nothing needs to ride empty. I can put light-weight plastics in the freezer and pack all kinds of nick-knacks and clothes in the drawers.

Then I hit a snag....."Living room: 3 small boxes, one medium and one large."

Small. medium, large...all relative. What did it mean? I packed 3 small boxes that I had and they quickly filled up with books. I pondered the list. Then I noticed...square feet:
Small = 1.5 cu
Medium = 3.0 cu
Large = 4.5 cu

We finally settled on buying boxes. What a difference! I was able to pack all my books in one officially Small 1.5 cu box, plus the remaining few in the second box with lots of room left over, and I still have another small box for other things!

Everything for the movers needs to be ready to go before the 29th. The movers will box the glass table tops, wrap the couches and bag the mattresses. We need to do everything else. It's going quite well this time.

Now, in addition to the square feet, there is also weight. They need to weigh our stuff after they pick it up. If our stuff weighs too much we need to pay more. <sigh> Thankfully our stuff seems pretty lightweight.

I am also putting together the items that ride in the car. Liquids cannot go in a moving van, so any shampoo, after shave, soap, stuff like that, rides with us. I'm also taking my jewelry. of course, and the laptops, and what clothes we need for the trip, and other items we need while waiting for the truck to arrive.

Time is starting to fly! Need an oil change before we go, and a travel itinerary.

And some really good news....my daughter and her husband are already planning a trip out to visit us this year! We will only be about 4 hours drive away from my other daughter, so we might have a mini family reunion. That would be awesome!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Controlled Crazy

I never shopped for an apartment long distance before. We aimed for one with heat included, because Wisconsin is cold, and we can't estimate a heating bill all the way from California. So with that in mind, I bypassed the luxury $900 per month apartments. It is extremely hard to find apartments in Hartford. For the most part, the only ones that have websites are for seniors or poor people, or the luxury ones over in Slinger. Most listings were on Craigslist or the online Classified. Almost all of them had no pictures. "Call for Appointment". Well, I'm 2,000+ miles away.

Finally I found one with pictures and a person willing to talk to me. We rented a one bedroom that includes heat, water and trash all for less than we are paying now. It looks clean. The caretakers are retired and live across the hall. He is having the carpet professionally cleaned and he and his wife will clean the apartment with non perfumed cleaners so as not to aggravate our allergies. We will be surrounded by nice Maples that (I have been told) will be ablaze with color in fall. It will do for now.

We sold some items, are selling more, and found a home for the bunny, Tuki. We are much relieved that my daughter took him. He's living in a good-sized pen in the garage. It's California, it doesn't get too cold for a bunny.

My big, outdoor succulents are going to my daughter...sigh. I'm taking the little ones. I told hubby if I need to I will put them under lights. I need plants for my sanity. He hugged me and said, sure.

We are about 85% packed. The movers are coming on the 29th to pick up our stuff. I have another pile of stuff that's going in the car. I'm actually excited to get going. I'm going to miss my daughter, but there is always Facebook.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Winner Is...

...Hartford, Wisconsin

Reasons:

  • Jobs
  • Culture
  • Family
So, maybe you were wondering what went wrong in Paradise. There were issues to begin with. How would you feel if you went to a job interview only to find out your potential employer invited all his friends so they could see what you looked like. Yes, that happened to my hubby. He has an accent. He's Albanian. Apparently that was gawk-worthy.

His current job is good, but it's pretty much the only job in town, other than Walmart and the gawkers.

The area began its downward spiral after the Pelican Bay Prison was built and family members of the incarcerated moved here to be close to their evil spawn, I mean loved ones. Sorry, sorry, just more sarcasm.

An unbelievable number of items are locked up at Walmart to prevent theft. It's WAY more than razor blades, perfume and electronics. Trust me. What isn't locked up gets opened and tested by customers, or stolen. I know, I worked there.

Everything is either moldy or encrusted in salt. Our car is both, to some degree. Our apartment is neither, thankfully, but it did have a problem with pellet stove soot, which is now repaired. Maintenance replaced the door. Maintenance is really good at Seawood.

Winter sucks. Well, the first winter didn't, because it had so many dry, sunny days. This winter is more normal, so it rained every single day in December except 3. January was pretty much the same. When it pours 5 inches in an hour, things happen, Redwood trees fall, mud and rock slides close roads, and Last Chance Grade gets really big cracks and tries to slide into the ocean.

I never found my creative side here. For all the positive beauty in this area, the only inspiration I got was photographing the ocean, clouds and sunsets, and collecting rocks. I had some ideas which didn't come to fruition. I can't get inspired looking at the side of my neighbor's garage. There was a time when we hoped to move into a sunnier place with a bit of a view, but that dream succumbed to the mold.  

My daughter wants to move back to Wisconsin, too. Maybe someday we will all be closer.

In all fairness, there ARE good people in this town. I worked with some of them. There are neighbors who watch out for each other and keep an eye on the meth-heads. The police are swift to act. The emergency responders and utility crews are awesome and work hard to keep people safe. Caltrans works overtime to clear the roads of mud and rock slides and shore up Last Chance Grade. Facebook groups have been formed to help boost local businesses and address problems. But that's not enough to keep us here.

So, back to the Midwest, but not in the smog, we're staying away from the smog. My only regret is how much it costs to move, and now we are doing it again. I'm thankful I got to live here for a year and a half. I always wanted to live in a beautiful place that people take vacations just to see. I did it. Now if we can just find a place with a view and trees that turn pretty colors in fall, my life will be complete. I know that sounds weird. I didn't realize how much I would miss autumn leaves and the change of seasons. Here my head is stuck in a state of "green". There is precious little gold or red, and no white. As much as I hate the cold, snow is beautiful, and the play of light and shadows across the snow is inspiring. I want to walk with my hubby under trees ablaze in fall colors and step on the leaves. When were were planning to leave northwest Indiana, two choices popped into my head, Wisconsin or the West. The West won because at that time we didn't know anyone in Wisconsin and we had an offer to stay with relatives until we got on our feet. The main difference now is my hubby has a cousin and a job offer in Wisconsin.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

I cried

Yesterday I was sad. Hubby kept trying to make me feel better. We went to the ocean. I looked at this view and I sat down and cried. Hubby felt so bad he took pictures for me.




I will have to come back for a visit, maybe a few weeks, in summer, next year.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Pneumonia Shot...oh crap

I got my shot yesterday. I have one word...Ow.

I'll be OK. Staying downstairs today, not doing much. Very stiff and sore arm, a bit weak, not quite dizzy. Normal reaction.

So....I've decided to let go of California. There isn't any other place in the state we want to be, and we don't want to stay here. Eureka and Arcata have more jobs, but for the most part they are stinky, dirty, drug-ridden hippy towns, in fact they make Crescent City look like a jewel. Further down, things are better but with their own issues we don't care for...too expensive, too hot and dry (inland) too ethnic in ways that don't fit us.

We thought about some other areas in the west, Seattle, Spokane, Denver and surrounding areas. I know nothing beats visiting in person, but without the resources to do so, I spend a lot of time on City-Data and Google Earth. City-Date gives me statistics but it also gives me insight into the "flavors" of the areas through the Forum. Google Earth lets me "walk" down streets and roads in Street View. Google Maps lets me explore businesses, apartments, shopping, hospitals, you name it.

I also use Scorecard, where you can plug in a zipcode and find all kinds of environmental info. Currently the data is from 2002 but it looks like they are working on updating it. On this site you can almost smell the air....

We have a wish list. I want autumn leaves. I knew I would miss them but I didn't realize how much. Hubby needs a good job. Certain areas attract people with certain careers and certain incomes. Certain places are not a good "fit". There are cultural considerations. Wisconsin came up again, and some searching found quite a few potential good jobs. Apartment prices are good. In addition, we had a surprise. My daughter told us she misses Wisconsin and wants to move back, it's just a matter of convincing her hubby. Since they are currently caring for his elderly parents, that could take some time.

Denver, sunny and expensive, not our style

Seattle, too expensive, too sun-less, mostly kind of hazy

Spokane in fall, not bad

Spokane countryside...dry, dry pines, dust and risk of wildfires

Hartford, WI...quaint downtown

The river in Sheboygan, WI in fall

Sheboygan beach on Lake Michigan

This is fairly accurate. We currently live in Tsunami Magnet. Arcata and Eureka are in Weed. The other locations that are affordable and have jobs and aren't in big cities are pretty much in the "mostly something for driving through". That's true...flat, dusty running out of water agricultural areas that are crop dusted by airplane.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

One Thing at a Time

I always do that...get into a project and then do too much. I was getting stressed, and sad. My hubby always picks up those clues that I try so had to hide. He keeps asking what is wrong until I tell him and I end up crying. My hubby encouraged me to give it a break and relax.

We decided to focus on one thing at a time. He has a doc appointment tonight. Once he is feeling better he can focus on the next step and we can work it out together. Moving from one end of the country to another is enormously expensive, and I love California. I do miss autumn leaves, but I'm not sure if I miss them enough to move back to the Midwest climate. Wisconsin may not be all we thought it might be. The labor laws suck. The state recommends two 15 minute breaks in a 12 hour shift. Read that again:

Wisconsin law recommends two 15 minute breaks in a 12 hour shift.

My husband's cousin, living and working in Wisconsin, is actually working in this nightmare. Yes, he works 12 hours and gets two 15 minute breaks. That's it...no lunch. He can cram in some food on a break, if he can. He doesn't speak English. He thought he had it good, until hubby explained to him how it is here.

Hello. Time to eat?

California law demands (not recommends...demands) a 15 minute break every 2 hours plus lunch. Thank you, California, for keeping it real.

California, the state people love to hate....it took me many years to get the chance to move out West. I'm not ready to leave. It will be very painful. For the time being, we are staying. I'm hoping for a great summer with lots of chances to walk on the trails we both love. We will continue to save, and see what the future brings.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Warmer than the Midwest in Winter

At least right now, anyway. Sure, we know it can snow from mid August to mid June....



Job outlook, rather bleak, since hubby is not a pipeline worker or concrete finisher. It was a fun thought, though...we both loved Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Doing Our Homework

Much to do...resume', jobs available, city profiles, where and what kind of food, crime rates, blue skies, fresh air, on and on. I love Google Maps, Google Earth and City-Data. And packing...some how I can't get motivated with the packing.

Hubby has a doc appointment next Wednesday, with a Physician's Helper, they are called here. Definitely not as sharp as a Nurse Practitioner.

We seem to be zeroing in on southeast Wisconsin, for several reasons....family, food, and jobs are the main ones....but not in a big city.

Friday, January 8, 2016

That's What We Did

"Do not move on to 2016 without letting go of something significant from 2015" - Brendon Burhard

I read that a few days ago, and realized, that's what we did.

The last day of 2015 was not a good day for me. The night before, in a fit of frustration over his health, my hubby declared that he hated where we live and wanted to move to another state.

The problems started with the rainy season in 2014. He developed a severe sinus infection. He was put on a course of antibiotics. That helped a little. He went back, was put on antibiotics again. The doc said we needed to move out of the moldy house we were living in. We knew that, but it was several more months before a duplex became available. My hubby started getting better after we moved, but continues to have chronic sinus issues. He says he can smell mold outside. (Del Norte County is notorious for mold).

New Year's Eve day...hubby had to work. I was sad all day. We needed to talk, honestly, not just covering up our feelings to make the other person feel better. "It's ok, we're not moving because I want you to be happy" and "It's ok, we can move because I want you to be healthy" wasn't cutting it anymore. We needed real compromise. It was more than a sinus issue.

After much discussion, logic won. There are just some things about this area you can't fix.

  1. Doctors and Specialists. With many of the residents under-employed or unemployed, welfare is rampant. Whatever the reasons, not enough doctors stay in this area, especially Specialists. If one of us needed a Specialist we would need to travel 111 miles to Medford, OR. We have been waiting 4 months to see the only good doctor in town.
  2. Job Opportunities. Unless you are into Health Care, Rumiano is the best job in town. If that job were to end for some reason, you are back to Walmart. No way in hell, says hubby, and I don't blame him.
  3. Travel. The airport currently only has prop-job flights to and from Portland, Oregon. Highway 101 heading south keeps breaking because of shifting ground at Last Chance Grade. Highway 199 suffers from occasional rock slides. This happens in winter because of substantial rains. We are one shake from total isolation.
  4. Mold. A significant portion of the population here are chronically ill from mold. Even though our town home is free of mold, it apparently is in the air outside. For some reason I have been spared from this malady that residents call "The Crescent City Crud".
So...we don't know where or when, but at some point we will be leaving. "Letting go of something significant." It felt like I was breaking up with a flame. I was heartbroken. Then I felt better, realizing it will be better for both of us. I'll write more another time.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year 2016!!!

Hubby and I celebrated together YAY! He has today off plus Rumiano gave everyone a year-end bonus. Yesterday we went out after he got off work, shopped and drank coffee together. Then we celebrated at home with some Risata and movies. Happy New Year everyone!