That's all for right now, folks; more info will be forthcoming on this page as things unfold. The house even comes with new vocabulary. How many of you know what "frass" is? The "inspectors" tell me that frass is insect feces.
Oh yes, to find Ocean Shores, you simply look for a suburb of Seattle towards the south and west -- kinda near the Pacific Ocean. The home itself is sort of nestled in a deer-infested wooded area across from Duck Lake and next to some gentleman my age named, "Hell." I kid you not, although Glenn Hell seems like a really nice person and is my age. He and his wife lent me a cat carrier -- I was one short for four cats -- and a post-hole digger to install the mailbox. As I said ... more to come. Hopefully, it will be hooked to city water this week -- with a valve to let me use the well for things like watering the non-existent lawn. Keep tuned; more to come.
December 18, 2003
Well, it's moving day -- has been for several days now actually. The kitties are in the Ocean Shores Animal Hospital being boarded during the move itself. I don't know which is worse, my sad worry about my babies or my aching back.
I have a part-time job as an assistant instructor with Grays Harbor College in Aberdeen, Washington -- little money, few hours, but as the HR Director there told me, "[my] foot is in the door." Say prayers that I can make it on the new "budget."
And oh yes, the water is now hooked up to the city with a brand new meter -- something new to the neck of the woods in which I now live -- and I have pretty much cleaned out the dead birds and other (live and dead) vermin that occupied the place until I came along. I'll bet most of you never knew what a "handy man" I was, right? Ha!
27 December 2003
Well, I now have a million things to do before I get to the boxes which largely fill both floors of the cabin somewhere between the ocean and the canal. Allstate Insurance already cancelled my home insurance policy because of moss on the roof and walls and managing the cats is a semi-fulltime job in itself. They fight except when I'm there to pull them apart. Qwest came and put a telephone line to the house and I have three jacks -- but they don't offer an answering service, so I am trying to untangle the directions of a Radio Shack answering machine I bought. It requires pre-charging (overnight) so you won't be able to leave me a message for at least one more day if I'm not home to answer the phone. (and yes, that sucks!) I spend more time (and money) at Wallmart in Aberdeen 30 miles inland and at Ace Hardware here in Ocean Shores getting one thing after another just to live, it seems. Ace Hardware and the IGA (only grocery store out here) are in downtown Ocean Shores, about six miles up the penninsula. I have to thank God for the meetings I go to (at least one every day) and for the church support -- although I still haven't selected the one I'll "join." Tomorrow, I will go to Faith Community in Ocean City.
My energy level is very low, but I know that things will get better as springtime emerges . . . whenever. Please pray that I get out of the depression I'm going through -- largely a fear of economic insecurity, but probably less real than imaginary.
25 January 2004
Whew! A full month plus a couple of days have passed by and it still seems as though I only moved in a week or so ago. The house has undergone some major rehab -- like replacing the telephone wire to the poles out front and better (to city code) internal wiring and three jacks, cable for my TV sets and Internet hookup so that I know what's going on in the civilized world -- that is, when a tree doesn't fall on the lines up towards Aberdeen and cut Ocean Shores off from everywhere north, south, west and east of here -- and plumbing that runs from where I installed the washer and dryer (in my bedroom because there was no room elsewhere) under the house from the new line to the city water and up through the floor. In addition, the trench dug through my "lawn" to put the pipe in had to be repaired, although I don't begrudge that since that pipe, in fact, gives me city water and not whatever was spewing from the well. The washer/dryer required two lines under the house, one for cold and one for hot, plus vents for air out the back and a drain pipe too had to be installed--not mentioning the 220v line that had to be run (also under the house) from the switch breaker (new breaker required) to the dryer.
And then, lots of little things like clamps for all of the screens throughout to keep the kitties safe inside -- although Sweetheart escaped twice, once for three days in cold, gail winds before being caught in a neighbor's raccoon trap. After she was caught in another raccoon trap, I broke down and bought a live trap myself for the next time--which is certain to occur. At fourteen, she is too old and has survived too much (1990/91 Gulf War, airplane rides, shots for her certified kitty passport to go from Saudi Arabia to Dubai, etc.) to be eaten by a cayote or raccoon. Actually, only cayotes are considered predators dangerous to cats in this area. Most cats can outrun raccoons, I'm told. Of course, Fur Face with his broken back ...
All of the doors to the house had to be planed and the door handles fixed so that they could be closed in a way that the cats couldn't just push them open. Also, I discovered that the previous owners had given keys to nearly every resident down at my end of the penninsula and so the locks (and front door knob/assembly) to the outside had to be changed and a storm door mounted.
Some of you might be wondering just how in the world a clumsy old man like me could manage to do all of what I've mentioned above. Well, I am not alone in that regard--aside from the fact that God has been with me every step of the way. A son of one of my friends who lives out here had himself become suddenly unemployed in Seattle is on his way to Sacramento, California, where a job is waiting for him. He has been helping me when he's not busy doing one person or another's plumbing work in the local area. He's a master (licensed) plumber whose name is Dan and he is on fire for the Lord and came here from Seattle at just about the point where my depression was at a maximum. When I say "came," I mean just that inasmuch as he parked the trailer within which he now lives behind my driveway in the back yard. He uses a heavy gauge cord out of my bedrooom window to keep it heated and otherwise "electrified." It's partially hidden by the bushes in back of the driveway so I think I'm safe from possible zoning codes.
And speaking of the driveway, the gravel (5/8" stone) should arrive tomorrow so that I can begin raking it down between the brick edging that is now in place to provide something better than three or four seriously deep mud ruts for a driveway. I now know that the previous owners never ever came to this place in the wet winter weather. It was their "summer cottage," so to speak.
But he was a wealthy businessman and I'm a would-be teacher.
And oh yes, my "teaching" job (four hours per week at barely better than minimum wages) is going fine except that we have had the State Department of Correction give a warning lecture to the women in the class about one of the students and snow has twice blocked the road between here and Aberdeen where I teach. The warning lecture also included words to the effect that I (the assistant instructor) would escort the women to their cars, if asked, after class (when it's pitch black outside). The snow storm, by the way, was the worst in a decade or so, according to the Daily World, our local newspaper. I had to run the real instructor, Steve, up to the emergency room at Aberdeen Community Hospital the week before last when he had a mild heart attack during class -- this, requiring that I later administer four exams that evening without him there. The "class" is actually composed of four entirely different classes, Math 58, 59, 93 and 94. Steve (the real instructor) recovered well and was back in class this past week. Of course, besides answering students' questions, I copy and staple exams, help keep the real instructor's files in order and sharpen pencils for the students.
Back to the house itself, I have managed to give away three beds--one full-sized and two twin-sized beds, but still have two army-style twin beds (bunk beds) to give away and a queen-sized bed to move upstairs over the front balcony -- the same way we were able to "drop" the other three beds onto a truck bed below. For that, I need about two or three strong men to give me a hand. And yes, I will finally get rid of that ragged couch -- if I can figure a way to get rid of it without paying the dump to take it (not counting the job of finding a truck to haul it there). I might just chop it up and get a permit for a fire pit to burn it. Taking it to the city dump would simply cost too much.
And yes, the place itself still looks a bit like a city dump as of the end of January, but I have hope and ... faith. I tentatively joined Faith Community Church and have joined the men's Breakfast Club -- a bunch of geezers like myself who are largely retired and enjoying the brisk ocean air in this region. Of course, I still attend almost daily Fellowship meetings and they help immensely. The unemployment office (Work Source in Aberdeen) is continuing to help me try to find a decent job and Grays Harbor College will continue to try to get me additional teaching (maybe real teaching) hours as life continues ... in Ocean Shores.
And lest I forget to mention it, the depression I felt a month ago has greatly abated as I look around me and realize that so many others in this area are far worse off than me. To some extent, the work around the house and searching for a job has become something of an adventure and I thank God for the strength and energy to do what has to be done and the sense to at least go at it slowly. The cats are a tremendous asset -- especially when I periodically wake up in the morning with an unpleasant thought--usually relating to money. One simply cannot be depressed with a kitty purring over your shoulder.
June 21, 2004
It's now summertime in Ocean Shores and the whales will soon be coming through the channel into Grays Harbor (why, I don't know) and our one year-round resident whale (named "Speck") is popping out to say "hello!" and blow a little water into the sunlight. The seals are "mud-bathing" just beneath the large picture window in the Community Club where I exercise and the dolphins are showing themselves regularly now close to the beach. Even the rascalious raccoons -- who trapped Bill Puckett and me over at the Discovery Inn before I moved here -- seem "tamer" now and come regularly to the windows of my little cabin in the woods to terrorize my cats. One of the deer who use my front lawn as a feeding ground has decided to fight me tooth and nail while I'm trying to root some azalias next to the Alder Tree. The azalias are generally upended in the morning and replanting them is becoming a daily task. I've been told that there are kitty-munching cayotes here, but haven't seen any yet. And I haven't seen a real live black bear yet either. Still, I have "saved" a couple or so kittens who were abandoned from being cayote meat and I now belong to the local PAWS group -- mainly to be active in finding homes for the kittens. Oh yes, I also took Furface in to be "put to sleep" a couple of months back and then couldn't go through with it. I realized, as I looked into his eyes, that it was my quality of life I was thinking about and so he continues to have incontinence and sleep in my bed right under my nose. Ugh! I have to wash my bedding daily, but he is a happy camper and guards the back window of the house like the lion king that he is. I am becoming a little overrun with cats, I think.
My original job was the $14.72 per hour stint (described above) as an Instructional Assistant at Grays Harbor College (GHC) during the Winter Quarter. That developed into one of the busier part-time (and unfortunately temporary) jobs at GHC as an instructor of Object-Oriented Programming with Java (programming language) and Introduction to Statistics for the Spring Quarter. As of right now, I'm readying myself to teach a part-time Summer Quarter class in Developmental Mathematics (largely algebra) and applying for three jobs at GHC simultaneously. Two are part-time (but permanent part-time) and one is a full-time Developmental Mathematics Instructor position.
I am very much hoping and praying that something breaks on the job front soon because the little unemployment I get (less than $200) plus the part-time pay from GHC isn't really enough supplemental income for me to live on. Also, the small unemployment checks will end soon because it's already been almost six months since I was laid off at Safeco. I do some minor tasks at the Unemployment Office in Aberdeen (free, but it "counts" as a "job search" contact and training) and one of the part-time permanent jobs I'm applying for is right there, and I know the people very well after so many months. And no, I surely did not know they would be hiring a part-time instructor (for GED and Job Skills Training) through Grays Harbor College before I began making friends in the unemployment office.
Anyway, between working on the house and property and getting to the various teaching jobs and associations -- member of Faith Community Church, regular member of the local "fellowship," meeting on Wednesday mornings with a great group of retired and/or semi-retired men who meet at the Community Club, studying with some of the greatest students on God's green earth at GHC and constantly readying one or another of my presentations to local groups -- I keep plenty busy. I gave one song and dance about 9-11 anomalies at to the Mensans at Mercer Island this past winter and presented another hour or so on Crop Circles here in Ocean Shores last month. As a matter of fact, it was when I gave a lengthier presentation on 9-11 a year ago at the Ocean Shores Convention Center that I "discovered" this place in the first place. Yes, I keep busy.
Too busy at times!
Anyway, the pictures below show some of the changes in the house since I've moved in -- if not my new friends, cats and "Speck."
Well as I said above, by the early summer of 2004 it looks a little nicer, I think, with the lawn growing green; a black gravel driveway now more or less poured, raked and already infested with dandelions; and various other ammenities (solar reflectors, brick driveway "trim," flowers -- a.k.a. deer food, "Blackie the Chainsaw Art Bear," my aging Honda Civic in the driveway, etc.)
And a slightly closer view -- showing "Blackie" my guard-bear in front
And oh yes, this is a nice shot of my neighbor's dock onto the Grand Canal that runs north-south down the entire penninsula -- with some mysterious swamp gas brightening the evening sky
I've taken down the Kerry-Edwards signs out front and there's a flower or two planted, but otherwise nothing really new. For most of you (certainly in the family) the Republican win in November was an unhappy event, but for the couple or so of you who were rooting for GWB, I say "Congratulations!" Kerry and Bush both put up good fights, despite the ugly campaigning (by both sides). Hopefully, the political divide in the country will heal quickly and we can get on with whatever it will take to stop the terrorists who are hell-bent to kill and hurt people worldwide. And also (hopefully) the elections in Iraq next month will go relatively smoothly and allow some of our boys and girls to begin coming home alive and well.
The neighbors across the street moved and their unemployed son (roughly fifty) is staying in my loft until he can find a job and maybe a small place to rent somewhere close to Ocean Shores. He's good company, but the cat population is now seven (not his fault, but the fault of my involvement with the local PAWS) and the place gets crowded at times.
I'll try to get a nice picture of the first snowfall on my humble cabin, if we get any snow.