About My Mom

It was not a happy move. They were leaving a place of comfort (and warmth) and moving to a strange land with winter!

Sometimes there are no good choices.


I spoke to my folks this afternoon. Speaking to them (and my sister) is a nearly daily occurrence. My mom sounded great.

For the past few years my mom’s health has deteriorated. Not only was she physically infirm, she began to check out mentally.

At her lowest point she was down to single word answers. She had retreated into her own shell.

“I love you mommy,” I’d say to end conversations. No response.

That was tough.

We are an emotional family. She’d lost all emotion. It was as if my mom had been hollowed out.

Last fall, just as the cold was settling into Milwaukee and South Florida’s humidity began to retreat, my parents moved north. My sister and her family live there. She found them an assisted living facility nearby.

It was not a happy move. They were leaving a place of comfort (and warmth) and moving to a strange land with winter!

Sometimes there are no good choices.

Moving to Milwaukee and assisted living meant they’d have to go downstairs a few times a day for meals. In Florida they seldom left their condo. That might have been the catalyst.

My mom began to communicate more. Not much, but you take what you can get.

IMG_1404_8961At this weekend’s wedding my mom was as sharp and happy as I’d seen her in a very long time–maybe a few years. She smiled and laughed. She had extended conversations. I got her a glass of wine with a straw.

Today my niece Jessie stopped by to visit. She brought Judah and Gabby, their great-grandchildren.

When I called that was all my folks could talk about. The visit was short. The impact is great. Jessie understands that. She made a mitzvah&#185.

On the phone my mom was stronger and happier than even this weekend! It usually doesn’t move in that direction in your mid-80s.

Don’t get me wrong, my mom is in a wheelchair. She is taking physical therapy and using her walker within the apartment–sometimes. I think she sees positive results from the PT and wants more, but she’s a long way from being mobile.

My mom is not as sharp as she once was. Sometimes she forgets things. But year-to-year the improvement is nothing less than miraculous.

None of us expected this turn. Our family is very happy. We never gave up.

This is our reward.

&#185 in Hebrew, “mitzvah” means a commandment of the Jewish law or meritorious or charitable act. It’s commonly used when someone selflessly does a good deed.

My Car’s Battery As Collateral Damage


The battery in my car is dead, collateral damage from the move. My car rode out west on a trailer, but the alarm cutoff switch was never thrown. My little SLK230 honked and blinked coast-to-coast.

When it finally arrived in California the battery was dead. No clock. No lights. No electric door locks. Dead!

Luckily the car came west with jumper cables in the trunk. After a quick boost it’s been starting fine.

That ended last night. I went to start it and heard “click, click, click.” It’s that frustrating sound cars make when there’s not enough juice for the starter (or something more technical I’m incapable of describing properly).

I texted my friend Steve who’s been my go-to car guy for nearly 25 years. I asked if he wanted to drive over to give me a hand? I offered to make coffee when he was crossing Utah.

We’re in a new place with no doctor, dentist, passable pizza or car genius! I’ll call AAA later this afternoon, then drive to get a new battery installed. I’m not even sure where to do that.

It was assumed when we moved checks would be flying out of the checkbook nonstop. Good assumption. At this point adding a battery to the outflow will hardly be noticed.


I don’t think it’s possible to explain how much trash we’ve produced since closing in Irvine. Can it breed? Wednesday is trash day and my oversized garbage and recycled bins are full.

Earlier today I cajoled an invitation to the construction dumpster used for some nearby homes nearing completion. Like peeing in the ocean. It hardly made a dent.

There’s was even a Bonnie and Clyde trash adventure with Stef a few days ago. Don’t ask. We’re not talking.

My walk and front steps are filled with broken down boxes, discarded household items and bags of trash. I will attempt to convince the trashman to take this uncanned al fresco trash. If not, I’m not sure what to do?

We didn’t move as much cardboard and bubble wrap from Connecticut as we moved belongings. It only feels that way!

I’ve Got That Can’t Do Spirit


I grew up in an apartment. I grew up far removed from tools or handiwork. When you own a home it helps to be coordinated. I am not what you would call coordinated.

We had Chris spend the day with us Monday. He is a professional handyman.

Five ceiling fans installed. Check.

Two TVs hung. Check.

Pendant lamps over the kitchen island. Check.

Kick plate on the door from the garage. Check.

Motion sense light switch in the garage. Check.

Hang a mirror. Check.

There is a feeling of powerlessness watching someone do mundane tasks you can’t do. When it comes to fixing and installing, I’m a can’t do kind of guy.

More than anything, what Chris has going for him is confidence. He knows if he screws up he can fix it. Confidence is power.

My main job Monday was driving to Home Depot three times! On the last trip the cashier asked if I was back or just hadn’t left yet.

The house continues to move closer to home status. There’s still a lot to be done. From here on out the tasks are closer to my level.

What Kind Of Sex Toy Is This?

The text message I got this morning was a little cryptic: “Morning meeting crew eta 0900.” It was from Mike Hughes, our mover. Helaine found Mike’s “Working Robots” through Angie’s List.

IMAG0101-w1200-h1200It’s a out of the norm to use a local guy to move you cross country, but it was obvious as we packed, Mike was the right choice. We followed his solo journey from Connecticut via Facebook.

He took all the scary curves we took with Helaine’s SUV. It had to be scarier for him up in the cab.

At 9:00 AM Mike’s truck rolled up with my little car following on a short trailer. He brought muscle in the form of two guys supplied by a local OC mover.

IMAG0103-w1200-h1200Box-by-box they moved everything off the truck and into the house or garage. With each box a number was called and Stef checked it off the manifest.

Mike and the guys worked hard and fast. In two hours they were done! There were a couple of small scratches as might be expected, but everything is accounted for and we’re happy.

The final price was at the very low end of Mike’s original estimate. He said that made him happy. It certainly made us happy.

Over the past few days our house had begun looking like a home. Alas, we’re loaded with boxes and clutter again.

IMAG0108-w1200-h1200This is where Stef comes in. I’m not sure how she got this skillset, but she took charge of the unpacking… and discarding.

As much as we threw away before leaving Connecticut, it’s obvious we didn’t toss enough.

“What kind of sex toy is this,” she’d ask while holding up some kitchen implement which should have been tossed in Connecticut, but wasn’t.

We are not at the hoarder level, but there’s been plenty of accumulation over the decades. Doing without for four weeks has shown us many possessions are expendable.

As a team, Stef and Helaine emptied boxes and organized the kitchen. My guess is the kitchen will be the most difficult room in the house. It’s full of one-of-a-kind stuff, each of which should be stored with similar items.

My job was breaking down boxes and occasionally carrying items to the garage. I had it easy.

It’s tough for Helaine to part with stuff, but when you’ve got four or five of something, decisions must be made. “What kind of sex toy is this,” and away it goes!

Roxie and Doppler looked on through it all. There has been no growling for days. They have learned to share the space. Sure, Doppler wants all our attention, but she hasn’t done anything bad to make that point.

This is more than a one day job. Unpacking will continue on Monday. And we’ll be joined by a guy coming to hang ceiling fans and perform other minor miracles.

We’re moving right along.

Roger Easton Is The Man

Roger Easton is 92 and lives in Vermont. He has become my hero. Roger invented GPS!

His invention came in 1955. That was two years before Sputnik, the first satellite launched to orbit.

Here we are in California. We are strangers in a strange land where all the roads cross at a 90&#176. It will take a while.

We started years ago with a standalone GPS. Feed it an address and get directions. That in and of itself is nothing short of magic.

What makes GPS more powerful is smartphone integration.

I know. It’s the same technology I despise when used by the government to stalk us. Nothing is simple.

Because my phone has a GPS receiver and is connected to the Internet, I can say (not type), “Target” and my phone will find the closest one and direct me there.

Even better, you don’t need to know the store’s name! Say, “Bedding” and the GPS will find bedding places nearby.

Try picturing yourself doing this with paper maps. They’re OK, but you have to know where you’re going before you use them.

You have no idea how valuable it’s been while stocking the new house. It’s cut travel time significantly. It also adds a sense of security.

Roger Easton: You are the man! Thank you.

The House Begins To Take Shape

This blog entry comes to you from my new desk. The blinds for my office are still to come. This time of day, the desk is only usable with heavy duty squinting! Glad to sacrifice for you.

Along with its view of the setting Sun, my office has some spillover neighborhood WiFi. Shhhh. Don’t tell. I’m on someone’s Linksys router.

Today was another busy day made busier (and longer) by miscommunication between our painting contractor and his painters. I was in pajamas sitting in Helaine’s car at 7:30 waiting to let them in. They didn’t show until well past nine.

There has been progress. That’s very good. Most of the upstairs has been painted.

This room, my office, was painted a color that doesn’t match our chosen paint chip… or the carpet! Repaint scheduled for Friday, along with much of the downstairs.

That’s progress and it’s duly noted.

The woman who’s doing our window treatments came by this afternoon with ten temporary shades. They do make a difference.

My office furniture was delivered along with a mattress for the guest room. It’s the only room with furniture I need to assemble. Now I remember why I hate assembling furniture!

In the end it will be OK, but what a pain getting there with awful instructions and less than stellar workmanship. A little Home Depot remediation will be necessary before the nightstands can be used.

A crew of three spent much of the late afternoon installing utility cabinets in the garage. We’ve got no basement or attic, so storage planning is necessary. Both cars should fit… they’d better fit!

Helaine and I have been talking about a mutual fantasy. In it we spend an entire day with no errands or anything to do. We lay on the sofa or bed and… actually there’s no and. We just vegetate.

Friday will be our last night at the hotel. I can’t wait to sleep at home.

Like Moving In Slow Motion

We have moved to California, but we haven’t really moved in. Our freshly built house is a shell waiting furniture and furnishings. We have only the clothes we brought.

We go to bed in a hotel every night. Still, little-by-little our house is turning into a home.

As I type two men are pulling the packing tape and plastic off our new refrigerator. These are the same two guys who hooked up our washer and dryer this weekend. I have new respect for these people who tote and carry all day. What a demanding job.

That’s it. That’s all we have in the house today that wasn’t here when we closed on Friday–three appliances.

A bed frame for our guest room is in boxes in my cousins garage. Its mattress for it arrives tomorrow.

My office furniture is scheduled to arrive by Monday. The rest of the furniture should be here in dribs and drabs over the next few weeks.

There are no drapes or blinds on the windows–and there are a lot of windows. All bathroom trips currently take place upstairs in a room not visible from the street.

We have no chairs. We’ve been standing or laying on the floor (carpeting upstairs). My feet are hurting! Doppler currently has possession of our two pillows. At least one of us is comfy.

There’s still a lot of work to be done. Cabinets and shelves will be installed in the garage and bedroom closet. Our California room will get pavers and plantings. AT&T is still stringing fiber and cable with three trucks on our street today. At some point that means Internet and TV.

All our possessions from Connecticut will start making their cross country check within the next few days. We expect them by the middle of next week.

It’s a little like moving in slow motion. It’s happening, but taking time.

It’s All Mind Boggling

Another busy day. We’re doing our best to help the economy. First though, we headed to our pre-home to do the pre-sale walkthrough.

Not perfect, but pretty good. There was a scratch on a counter, a few cracked roof tiles and electrical outlets which weren’t installed. Nothing Earth shattering. It will all be fixed.

There’s a lot to learn.

Homes and building codes have progressed since we moved to Hamden 23 years ago. Accommodation has been made where TVs get hung on walls. All the rooms are wired for Internet access. There are special switches for ceiling fans, timed switches where lights might be left, light sensitive switches outside on and bathroom exhaust fan switches that sense steam from the shower! You get the idea.

We spent a few hours looking, listening and learning. How much will we remember a few weeks down the road? Good question.

After the inspection we headed to my cousins to do laundry. This transition is difficult, but it’s a whole lot easier because they’re here. It’s impossible to thank them enough.

More to do. We bought a refrigerator, gas grill, washer and dryer… plus all the little parts that should come with those items, but don’t.

We weren’t done yet, because this evening we signed all the papers for the closing. In California house closings takes place over a period of days. We signed tonight, but won’t really close until sometime Friday afternoon.

It’s all mind boggling.

Last week, while still in Connecticut, I told Helaine I had no idea how we’d accomplish everything as scheduled. And yet here we are with everything moving toward an on-time completion.

Seriously, don’t ask how we’ve done this. I couldn’t tell you.

We’re Suffering Car Lag

Is it possible to have ‘car lag’? I think that’s what we’ve got. It’s going to take a little time to recuperate after our journey. Meanwhile, we are in Orange County and we have all sorts of errands and chores ahead of us. Rest will come later.

We had lunch with my cousins yesterday. There’s a new restaurant in the neighborhood featuring crepes. I had the Italian–very tasty.

Doppler came along so we ate outside, though it was a little chilly for that. It’s much too early for me to complain about the weather.

You find a lot more restaurants with outdoor seating in SoCal than Connecticut. That stands to reason. It’s part of the appeal.

You know what, if I ever complain about the weather here, call me out on it.

We did some shopping for appliances. We’ll need a washer, dryer, refrigerator and a grill.

I know a grill doesn’t seem to rise to the level of the other three… but it does.

Our Connecticut dryer was electric. Here it will be gas. Is that better or worse? I don’t know.

Our Connecticut grill used propane bottles. Here it will be connected to an outdoor stub off the house’s gas line.

A new phrase entered our world yesterday, “counter depth.” That refers to a refrigerator that is the same depth as standard kitchen counters to give the impression it’s a built-in model.

Counter depth refrigerators are a little smaller… and more expensive. Someone will have to explain that last part to me.

Right now the money is flying out as if there’s a printing press in my tush!

Last week at this time we were watching the moving truck get packed. And now, here we are. Still a lot to do.

CT To CA — We Have Arrived On The Left Coast

The Eagle has landed. Helaine and I are sitting in the lobby of the hotel we’ll call home for the next twelve days. The room’s not ready yet. Oops.

Our trip from St. George was mainly uneventful. We expected I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge to be scary. It was the last time we drove it. We’re winding road veterans now.

The cliffs are as steep as anything we saw in Colorado and Utah. They’re very close to the road and very tall. Very. Still, it was NBD!

We left early to try and beat the Sunday evening Las Vegas to Los Angeles traffic. It is legendary.

Don’t misunderstand. We still saw plenty of traffic. South of Vegas the road was jammed, but we were still doing 60 mph.

Three more states today. Here’s the full list:

  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Nebraska
  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Arizona
  • Nevada
  • California

We pulled into our hotel at 3:23 PM PDT. We’re now settled in and VERY tired.

Here are the final stats:

Total time: 5 days 2.5 hours
Total mileage: 2,862 miles
States entered: 14
Gas used: 151.5 gallons
Miles per gallon: 18.9
Speeding tickets: 0
Fastest speed before realizing how fast I was driving: 95 mph

Doppler is settled in on the sofa in our room. She is calm and sweet as she was for the entire trip.

We close on our new California home this Friday. Thanks for tagging along

CT To CA — Are We Tired!


I was planning on a blog entry about today’s journey through some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, but it will have to wait. We are incredibly tired!

Meanwhile, I did want you to see the road sign above. It’s from the terminus of I-70 in Utah.

How often do you get to choose between Heaven and Hell?

CT To CA — Before We Head Out

So tired last night I forgot to mention, we are officially homeless. Don’t worry. It’s all good. Our house in Hamden closed Thursday afternoon. We don’t close in California until next Friday.

Until yesterday that had been a nagging worry. It was always in the background, but always there.

Even after the California sale is complete we won’t move in immediately. Our stuff from Connecticut doesn’t arrive until early July. Furniture we ordered won’t be available on day one either.

Helaine, the organized one, set it up so we could use the time to do all those things that are tough to do after a house is furnished! Time is a luxury.

We’re getting closet systems to better use our space. The same goes for the garage. We won’t have a basement or attic so this is like creating new space from thin air.

Our new home comes freshly painted, but the developer only paints one color for all the rooms. That problem gets solved too.

We’ll also take care of pavers and a gas grill for the “California Room” (not actually a room, but more like a patio), ceiling fans and some additional lighting. I’m hoping to get my friend Dennis (neighbors from age three) to come down from San Francisco to consult on planting our tiny open space.

So, lots to do once we get there. But first the drive!

I just checked the weather. A slight chance of thunderstorms as we approach Colorado this afternoon. We’ve been lucky so far.

CT To CA — All The Way To Nebraska

Google Location history

I’m writing tonight from Lincoln, Nebraska, continuing our trip to California.

This was a good day on the road. The goal was 600 miles and we did 627… though Google informs me it’s only 563 miles as the crow flies.

Next time we’re going by crow!

Overall we’ve driven 1,384 miles since we left Connecticut. That’s 48% of the way.

Lots of folks have been asking about Doppler. I can’t overstate how good a traveler she’s been, laying on Helaine’s lap with her head resting on the center console. Most of the time she’s dozing. She’s never a bother.

The trip has affected her appetite. She has refused to eat her normal food. We spent an hour or so going to Petsmart in Mishawaka, IN&#185. The dry food we got made no difference!

We’re told she will eat when she’s hungry. She’s still eating treats.

Google’s navigation app is how we find our way. Leaving Petsmart it took us to a road closed for construction!

Google knew the road was closed. It said so on my screen!

We tried to find another route, but Google kept asking us to u-turn and go back.

We ad libbed our own route, skirting around the Notre Dame campus in South Bend. This shopping trip/detour (and stops for gas and the bathroom) is why we only averaged 57 mph today.

Traffic was moderate on the Indiana Tollway. We stayed mostly at the speed limit with little opportunity to go faster. Things slowed down as we drove into Illinois, staying south of Chicago. Speeds finally picked as we moved into rural Western Illinois.

It’s easy to think of the Mississippi River as the center of the country. Not so! We’re 400 miles west of the Mississippi and just approaching the middle.

Next up was Iowa. I expected boring. It’s actually quite pretty. Both Helaine and I were pleasantly surprised.

We passed hundreds of farms along the way. It’s early in the season. The corn is as high as an elephant’s ankle.

What is tall (and huge) are the dozens of power generating windmills we saw. I’m all for clean energy and wind power, but the truth is, they’re a blight on the landscape.

If the folks here don’t mind, I don’t mind. I’m a definite NIMBY on wind power.

Around 6:00 PM CDT, 20 miles short of Council Bluffs IA, we pulled into a rest area to make hotel reservations. Iowa provides free WiFi at the rest areas. I plopped the laptop on the hood and pecked away. Thank you Hawkeyes.

We’re staying across the road from the Nebraska State Penitentiary!

The goal is another 600 mile day tomorrow which would bring us past Denver and through the Rockies. With Nebraska’s speed limit set at 75 mph (meaning a cruising speed around 83 mph) it’s easily doable.

&#185 – Mishawaka is best known as the home of Ann Nyberg’s sister.

CT To CA — We’re In Elkhart

Google Location history

Indiana wants me, Lord I can’t go back there (This is the police. You are surrounded. Give yourself up) – R. Dean Taylor 1970

We are in Elkhart, Indiana, the RV Capital of the World! We actually passed the RV/MH Hall of Fame while cruising down I-80. No warning. No billboards. We waved and drove on.

Since leaving Hamden we’ve clocked 757 miles, including 519 miles today. We were on the road about nine hours (including stops), meaning we averaged 57.6 mph. We’ll do much better going forward.

We began the day in Danville, PA. No rush. We were on the road around 11:30.

Pennsylvania was very pretty. Lots of hills and valleys. Very green.

I-80 is mostly 2-lanes per side. They need more.

We stopped for gas at Snappy’s in Du Bois (pronounced dew boyz). As we exited the Interstate we noticed a long line of vehicles standing on the exit ramp. Construction past the exit had created a tiny town traffic tragedy!

One lane was closed Flagmen were controlling traffic. They were alternating the flow every ten minutes or so.

Ten minutes doesn’t sound long now, but it seemed endless then.

We crossed the state line where I-80 transitions to the Ohio Turnpike. The nominal speed limit is 70 mph, but for at least half the trip the left lane was closed and the limit was 50. Frustrating.

Ohio is mainly flat, though there are some small rises and dips in the east. Approaching the western border things flattened out. We’ve seen lots of farms with irrigation rigs hundreds of feet long.

Better luck found us in Indiana. Fewer construction zones and a higher speed limit. It’s 70 mph here. I’ve been keeping the cruise control around 79. So far, no friends with party lights on their vehicle.

We found another Red Roof Inn, chosen for their dog policy. This one’s a little more worn, but good for our purposes.

Tomorrow we’ll try for Nebraska. That’s a stretch and I might be forced to scale back as we progress, especially because of the threat for severe storms, but that’s the goal.