Wednesday, February 27, 2013

FC, IA - The Eve of Destruction

IMG_0025-2013-02-27-20-28.JPGWell, before we continue the destruction, we need to get to Pie Day at the Village Inn. If you’ll go back to Feb 13, you know that Wednesday is Pie Day at a local restaurant in Fort Dodge, the Village Inn. We had such a super time 2 weeks ago that we decided to repeat it. We called Barb, Lug’s ‘friend’, invited her to accompany us and at 8:45 we were in our chairs, eating breakfast. Then we learned that today the ‘big boss’ was here and they couldn’t pass out their pies until 10:00. Last time we had them by 9:30 and were heading out the door. But, the conversation was fine and we had the time so we all sat, drank coffee and waited until 10:00. Interestingly enough, there were people there who only ordered the pie to go with their coffee. I can only hope that they stop at Village Inn at some other times and actually order a meal.

IMG_0037-2013-02-27-20-28.JPGThen the time came for the destruction to continue. Gary had taken apart the 15’ long restaurant counter on Monday
and Tuesday and finished Tuesday by attacking the fiberglass fireplace with his trusty saws-all. Look at that action stance.

Then it was the heavy black bookshelf built to last with at least 12 nails in each of the 6 shelves to hold them in (he’s never seen so many nails and now knows why it was so heavy). Gary used this bookshelf all though school and he had to wipe a tear from his eye as he loosened the last nail.
Today, it is time for the organ in the living room

IMG_0065-2013-02-27-20-28.JPGand the old-as-dirt, heavy-as-sin steel desk in the basement. The organ went fairly easily since it was wood. The steel desk was another story. Gary finally had to turn it upside down to get inside it to get at the bolts holding it in place. They sure knew how to make them back then.

Meanwhile I helped Gary and also cleaned up but also made two more trips to Goodwill and another trip to the recycling area. I’m becoming quite familiar with the Fort Dodge recycling bins.

Finally, we’ve got all the things we are going to put into the dumpsters ready to go. We are amazed and stunned at all that was here in this one home. Here is a picture of the pile in the basement - before we added the counter, the desk and the black bookcase.
IMG_0014-2013-02-27-20-28.JPGWe figure it will take one of those large (4’ x7’ 20’) dumpsters to cart it all away. And - if you’re reading between the lines - you’ll realize that it is in the basement and you’ll be glad that you’re no where near here when we have to bring it all up. 

There is an equally large pile in the garage which will take another large dumpster. Off-da. Obviously, Gary’s father was a child of the depression and saved everything, from the large broken organ in the living room to the 4” piece of wood in his garage. Everything will eventually have a use. And, I will admit, that he made use of many small scraps of lumber, pipe and tubing that he had. For example: you know how metal hangers sag in the middle when you put something heavy on them, right? Well, Lug taped a pencil to the middle of the hanger using masking tape and/or duct tape at each end of the pencil. Made it much stronger. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

FD, IA - It's A Small World

I lived in Fort Dodge, IA from 1954 grade to my HS graduation in 1964. Gary lived here from 1956 to his HS graduation also in 1964. His parents were born around here along with their numerous siblings, my brother still lives in town and my parents lived here from 1954 until around 2000. Obviously, we know a lot of people or lots of people know our families. Today was a perfect example of this.

We are up here for the week since we still have lots to do around Lug’s home before we begin to empty it. Firstly, we still had parts of the garage to do and yesterday we finished that up. I don’t mind working in the garage but my toes and my fingers got cold. Every now and then we’d take a warm-up break: come in, have a quick cup of coffee and then attach the garage again. Gary also wants to ‘reduce the size’ of several items: a large 15’ counter from a restaurant that closed long ago, an old-as-dirt metal desk, a heavy black bookcase and a fiberglass fireplace his parents had in the basement and an organ in the living room. By ‘reduce the size of’ we mean that he is going to take them apart so they will fit easily into a dumpster.

However, today, an errand day, we began with breakfast out at Nettie’s, a newer restaurant in town. Then we began our errands and at every stop we either met someone who knew our families or us..

First to the hospital to get some paperwork from the doctor who had worked with Lug when he was in the hospital. There we saw a woman who had worked at Friendship Haven, a local nursing home, with my mother on 2nd floor when my mother was there.

Our next errand was to Peterson’s which rents out dumpsters of all sizes. We saw this one, a 10 yard dumpster but knew it was too small. We went into the office where we met Shirley who knew my father-in-law and one of his brothers, Paul, who wrestled for Fort Dodge. She also knew my father because her business was about a mile from my father’s lumber yard and she used to buy lumber from him for her business.

Then we hit the lawyer’s office to get copies of Gary’s executor paperwork and, on the ride down in the elevator, the other man in the elevator with us said to me: ‘aren’t you the one I was speaking with at the recycling place yesterday?’ Sure enough, he and I were both recycling yesterday and were talking about emptying homes owned by Depression-era parents. I thought that Lug had saved everything he had ever owned but this guy’s father had even saved 17 toilet covers. That’s a dubious record and I’m glad that Lug didn’t try to do that. This guy, my new BFF, also lives in Knollcrest, a development that my father started on the NW side of Fort Dodge. And, yes, he had heard of my father.

Then we went to the bank to open a checking account in the name of the estate where the banker lives 2 doors down from Lug. She even told stories of meeting him.

While we were in the bank, I looked over and thought that the woman in the office next to ours was an old friend of my parents, Mrs. Lindberg. When she turned her head, I knew it was her but then she looked at me and caught me staring at her. Oops, I said ‘hi’, waved and turned away trying to look innocent. She turned to younger man who was sitting next to her, whispered something and he rose and walked over to talk with us. Or rather with Gary, leaving me out. I then, having been caught, went over to introduce myself and we had a nice chat. She indeed did remember me and even remembered that I had written a nice thank-you note for her gift of a memorial for my father’s funeral. She thought it was really personal and that is why she remembered it.

It’s sure a small town. That’s part of the charm of a small town: you’re never anonymous, you always belong to someone and it’s part of the game to try to determine your pedigree and relationship to the person with whom you’re talking. It’s like playing ‘6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.’

Thursday, February 21, 2013

WDM, IA - Snow, Snow and More Snow

I’m sure that most of you have heard of the snowstorm that is rumbling through the Midwest and then on towards the East coast. And, don’t they need another storm out there? The predictions were for the storm to start about 3 pm so, when we awoke at 7 am, my sweet lovin’ honey bun leaned over and said in his dulcet tones, ‘Since it’s going to snow later, how about doing our walk in the mall right after breakfast and getting it done before the stores open?’ Heavens, I thought he was going to ask me if I’d like breakfast in bed. Not my Big Gar, he was focused on our daily exercise. Well, no, I don’t want to walk but, if we have to, how about some fruit and yogurt before we go and stopping for a bagel and coffee at Panera, at one end of the mall, after we walk?

royalty-free-winter-clipart-illustration-93476-2013-02-21-22-21.jpgAnd, that’s the plan. But, then we detoured into the Apple store and bought an I Pad Mini for me so Gary could have my regular I Pad. Obviously, that took some time and we left the mall about 1:30, had lunch at home and, sure enough, the storm started about 3:00, right on schedule.

Then friends or ours who are still traveling in the Desert Southwest where the temps are still in the 60’s called me to ask how we are doing. I think she called to rub in the temps and weather. She could have called yesterday, when it wasn’t snowing, but, oh, no, she called today, the day of the snow storm. They are in their RV and are heading north to Palm Springs, one of our favorite places to while away the Iowa winter. On the other hand, they spent all winter in Iowa last winter and I’m sure that I might have mentioned the temperatures where I was in Arizona and California to her a few times. I probably deserve a little pay back. In fact, I probably deserve a lot of payback. But, that doesn’t make the snow feel any better.
IMG_0080-2013-02-21-22-21.jpgBut there are some beautiful things about a snow fall. First is the silence that comes when the falling snow muffles every other noise. Secondly is the brightness of the world around you even at midnight. I took this picture with my IPad Mini at 11:00 pm.

It’s a wonderland out there: bright and quiet. Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to go outdoors and frolic in the snow.

IMG_0087-2013-02-21-22-21.JPGAnd, the next morning when the sun came out, we got this view. Gorgeous. You’re probably wondering why that one single chair is there. Well, Gary and I need an antenna for our TV and the arm of the chair is where we clamp our antenna on, then hook it to a cable which runs into the house to the black box we have for our RV. Pretty antiquated - our RV is more up to date than this set-up.
Meanwhile Gary’s being the executor of his father’s estate and dealing with insurance agents (which his father was) transfer agents to transfer some stock and death certificates.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WDM, IA - Drill, Baby, Drill

Not often that I quote Sarah Palin or John McCain but I thought their sentiments fit my day today, or at least an hour of it. Yesterday, I got a call from my dentist that they had an opening and could fit me in. Great, is that good news or bad news? Doesn’t matter, I’ve got to go and at 10:30 I was firmly ensconsed in the dentist chair, the center of attention, waiting to be crowned. It began with the dentist arriving with a cheery ‘how ya doin?’ What kind of question is that for someone who’s in the position I’m in? Not well, that’s why I’m here.

Then the usual poking and prodding and, sure enough, the huge needle comes out and I’ve got to get 2, count them 2, shots of novocaine. Then they leave me while my mouth goes numb, swells and I begin to drool. They they reappear and the drill comes out. My favorite. Remember how dentists used to say, open wide and you had to hold that postiion? Well, now they put a rubber block into your mouth and it holds your mouth open by itself. And, for 45 minutes at least, he drilled in my mouth, all around the tooth that he was going to ‘crown’ to make it smaller so that he could get the crown on it.

Hand-poweredDrills-1-2013-02-20-22-50.jpgHere’s a picture of the drills he used. Ouch. No, just kidding, these are some drill we found in Gary’s father’s garage.

All in all, it wasn’t so bad. He took the time to answer my questions, told me in detail what he was doing at each step, kept reassuring me that I was doing ‘perfect’ and the whole procedure was painless. Uncomfortable but painless. Uncomfortable for 105 minutes. Gary, who was in the waiting room, thought I had gone out the back door to the ice cream shop next door without him. I finally emerged, a little the worse for wear and we left with my next appointment card in my hot little hand.

We had to some paperwork for Cathy, Gary’s sister, so called her and asked her if she would like to meet us for lunch. Sure enough, and Panera it was. I had some vegetable soup which was delicious but my mouth was pretty numb still and I tried to be dainty. Unfortunately, I guess I was biting the inside of my lip and it began to hurt as the novocaine wore off.

The rest of the day was errands, especially since we are expecting a large snow storm beginning tomorrow in the afternoon. We hit Costco for gas and groceries. Oh, boy, nibbling our way through Costco. But, with a snowstorm coming, we want to have lots of bread and milk. Actually, I’m just trying to replenish some things we’ve used over the last 2 months as we’ve been traveling. Because we’ve been on the move so much, I haven’t had much time for shopping and I’ve been using up what we’ve got in the freezer. Not a bad idea.

WDM, IA - Cold and Snow

tempsfeb20-2013-02-20-09-43.jpgLook at those temps. 7 degrees, how can people live in this kind of weather? Who wants to get up when it’s only 7 degrees? Not only that but look at all those little white circles on Thursday, Friday and Monday. What must that signify? Sure enough, we’re back in Iowa waiting for a large storm which is now developing in the Tucson area where they are having a cold, rainy, blustery day and which will slowly wend its way up to Iowa where it will linger a while, long enough to dump about 7” of snow in the Des Moines area. But we’re on the lucky side of the storm since it will dump about 12” in the southwestern corner of the state and even more in Kansas. Some spots are expecing 2’..

Yep, welcome to winter in Iowa. We’ve been here about a month and have yet to see a temp with a 4 as the first digit. And, actually, the weather people have been telling us that the temps are about 15 degrees lower than normal. Luckily we did not get rid of all of our winter clothes - they were hanging lonely and dusty in our closets when we got here. They are now dusted off and in heavy use.

Cathy had given us our Christmas present from Lug which was his traditional box of Russell Stover candy. We always look forward for that but this time it was different, it was the last box we’d ever get. We are going to string this box out as long as we can: one piece each per day, since it is the last.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

FD, IA - Disappearing Blogger

Have we disappeared? Well, if you read this blog, you might wonder where we’ve been for the last week or so. But, no, we’ve just been pretty busy with all the work of clearing out Lug’s house and garage and the confusion of moving from our rolling home to our West Des Moines home to our Fort Dodge home and back to out West Des Moines home and making the circuit again. I’m not even sure what I’ve got in what refrigerator. What did I do with those carrots? Did I bring the cheese home? But, no matter, we’ll be back to the home with the cheese and the carrots before long as fast as we’ve been rotating.

Gary and I went up to Lug’s home on Monday, 2/11, and returned to Des Moines on 2/18. We emptied several rooms and quite a few cabinets and cupboards, amassing all the stuff so that Cathy and Dawn could then separate it into piles: keep, donate, memories which will be sorted out later. When they came up on Friday, we moved right through all the miscellaneous piles in the living room, bedrooms and the upstairs on Friday and Saturday, even moving into the basement.

But still to be addressed are the 15’ counter that Lug ‘rescued’ from a restaurant that was closing in the 60’s, an organ that does not work but must weigh 500 lbs., an old gas fireplace in the basement, a huge black bookcase that Gary had in his room as a kid and an old-as-dirt metal desk that weighs a bit less than the organ but not much less. Gary plans to disassemble them and put them into the trash piles. But that is for another day.

On Saturday, while Cathy and Dawn were with us we went out to Subway for lunch. Gary and I shared a turkey/ham footlong and I was munching away when I felt and heard a hard chunk in my mouth. I tried to find it with my tongue but it was gone and in its place was a jagged edge to one of my back molars. Oof - da, just what I need now. But, at least, we’re in Iowa where my dentist is. I tested it with cold water and found it was not sensitive so thought I could go on. But, why do these things always happen on a Saturday when I’ve got the weekend to wait before I can begin to take care of this problem? On the other hand, it is causing me no pain and I can eat and talk like normal.

We also went for a walk - with a planned goal - to the real estate office of some old high school friends of ours, Dwight and Don, and talked about a new home for Jack. And, then, guess who arrived also? Yep, Jack had taken our earlier suggestions to heart and was going to meet with the real estate agent too.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

FD, IA - Pie Day and Broken Dryers

We spent a few days in Des Moines, getting things from our RV put away and taking the RV to its storage spot. We noticed that lots of the RV’s in our row there were gone - probably out where we were. Our RV is going to be pretty lonely and wondering what all that white stuff is. We then returned to Fort Dodge on the 11th when Gary had an appointment with the lawyer and to work some more on the house. The more we can get done before Dawn and Cathy get there, the more they can get allocated and divided up.

On Wednesday we thought it was time for a break and breakfast out is just the ticket. We invited Barb, Gary’s father’s ‘friend’ to be our guest and we picked her up at 8:30. We all enjoyed the breakfast and were having a great conversation when I looked around and noticed people with small take-home containers on their tables as they were eating breakfast. Others were already having pie - at 8:30. Hmmm. Being the mystery reader that I am, I put together the clues and deduced: It’s PIE DAY at Village Inn. Sure enough, it WAS Pie Day and, we all got our piece of pie to take home with us also. Whoopee. Wow, what a deal. We’ll have to remember that when we are in Fort Dodge the next time.

On Monday, when we had arrived up here in Fort Dodge, we worked on Lug’s home but we also toodled over to my brother’s home to see about his dryer which he said was not working. Gary took his multi-meter, which is a fancy name for a gadget which determines if the electricy is flowing, but nothing happened and we all concluded that the 16-yr old dryer might be dead. Now what? Gary and I, of course suggested that Jack could take his washed clothes up the hill by his house to the laundromat and and dry them there. This suggestion was met with the same withering stare as our next suggestion that he hang his clothes up like we do in the RV when we wash. Jack insists that he has to have a warm towel when he drys off after a shower and that the dryer can warm his towel enough in 5 minutes to please him. Here is where Gary and I gave him a withering stare. A warm towel?

(Actually, we remember when we were in England back in 1978 with my parents, one of our B&B’s had an electric drying rack which we could turn on to get warm towels.) Jack did reason that turning the dryer on and off every time he took a shower might have contributed to its breaking. Maybe, but 16 years of use probably also took their toll.

However, we’ll probably help him find a ‘new’ dryer. And Craig’s List is the place we started. I found a place in Fort Dodge where the owner, named Howdy, who interestingly enough, is an old friend of Jack’s, fixes broken appliances and then sells them. OK. We called and told him that we’d be there on Tuesday.

InstallingJack%252527sUsedDryer-2-2013-02-13-21-06.jpgTuesday afternoon, we finally got there with Jack and looked over the selection. 2 nice electric dryers for $150, less the $20 Howdy would pay for Jack’s old dryer for a grand total of $130. Sounds good to us and we made arrangements for Wednesday at 1:00

Thus, after breakfast with Barb, we went back to Lug’s, where we are staying, changed clothes and drove to Jack’s to help him take his dryer out and then move the new one in. For $130, there is delivery and take away but no installation and we have to move the dryers off and onto Howdy’s lift into his truck. One trick: Jack’s bathroom, where he has his dryer, is so narrow that Jack and Gary will have to lift the dryer up and over the sink counter. Here, Gary and Jack are lifting his old dryer over the cabinet to take out to the garage to wait for Howdy to deliver the ‘new’ one. Luckily, it was not a washer which was broken, those are really heavy.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

FD, IA - Now the House

On Sunday, the day after the visitation, the family gathered in his home to begin the inevitable process of cleaning out the house. Gary’s father might have had a will, have planned his visitation and have planned several bequests but about the house, he always said: ‘I’ll leave that for you kids.’ And he did. And, here we are.

EmptyingDad%252527scupboards-2-2013-02-9-21-54.jpgLug and his wife, Darlene, had lived in this house for 50 years and, though Lug had built many cubbies over the years, he had never built too many to hold all they had to put in them. In other words, there’s a lot here, pictures on the walls, knick-knacks on the furniture, things in every drawer, shelf, cupboard, enough linens for a motel, and paperwork, oh, my, the man had paperwork. Tom, one of Gary's brothers-in-law, says that whatever space a person has - he will fill it. He must have been speaking about Lug. Here’s Gary trying to get the furthest stack of dishes out of the bottom cabinet corner in the kitchen.

Samantha and Adam, Lug’s grandchildren and Dawn's children, scurried around the house and pulled all the pictures off the walls and all the knick knacks off the furniture and piled them in several piles. Dawn and Cathy, Gary’s sisters, went through the closets and piled the clothing aside for Goodwill. Tom, Dawn’s husband, loaded up their Tahoe and made several trips to Goodwill. I worked in several rooms pulling things out for Dawn, Cathy and Gary to review to decide whether to keep it themselves, take to Goodwill or try to sell later. Gary and I also worked on baskets of paperwork that was on Lug’s office table.

Lug saved an enormous amount of paperwork. We found such things as the account books that he and Darlene, his wife of 55 years, had from the first years of their marriage. We can tell you how much they earned, how much they spent on groceries on a weekly basis and how much they paid the hospital for Gary’s birth. They paid $8.00 a week in rent for the first apartment they had. WOW. Amazing. As I was going through lots of this, I’d yell ‘Memory Alert’ and show them whatever I had found. I found Dawn’s early organ lessons, I found Cathy’s 3rd grade cookbook.

Obviously, Cathy, Dawn and Gary were terribly interested in all of this type of paperwork that he had accumulated. We also found lots of letters and newspaper clippings and other types of paperwork that we were able to put into the recycling pile right away.

Dawn’s family left the on Monday but Gary, Dawn, Cathy and I stayed on for another day sorting, piling and taking to Goodwill.

We got lots done but there is still lots to do.

On Wednesday, Gary and I headed back to Des Moines to try to straighten our house there. We hadn’t had much time to put our RV things away and had piles of things around this house too.

We also had to move the RV into its storage location in a town about 15 miles away. We had left it in our driveway in our development as we had rushed off to Fort Dodge. We knew we had to move it soon since it is a tad large.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Fort Dodge, IA - Visitation

Lug was very religious but was also very adamant that he wanted a visitation instead of a traditional funeral. He had gone to the local funeral home in Fort Dodge last last year to make his final arrangements. He planned his cremation to be soon after he died, chose a very nice plain oak box for his ashes, and planned to have a visitation at the funeral home rather than a funeral at a church.

He came from a large family as did his wife, Darlene, and, since he was an insurance agent in town and had lived in Fort Dodge almost his entire life, he knew everyone. Cathy and Dawn, Gary’s sisters, had arranged for cookies and coffee to be served towards the back of the room and Gary had brought his computer with the slide show and picture board he had made for his father’s 90th birthday party last summer.

MilansVisitation-2-2013-02-2-20-23.jpgWhat a crowd showed up: family, old policyholders, Hy-Vee guys with whom he had a donut with in the mornings, neighbors, relatives, friends and others. At 4:00 when the visitation ended, many were still there and the last ones left at 4:30 planning to meet some others at a local restaurant later. Lug, who was quite a raconteur himself, would have been in his element and have had a great time. He would have strolled from group to group, laughing and joking his way through the crowd. This was just as he had planned.

Here are Cathy, Dawn and Gary with his cool oak box and note Cathy wearing his 90th birthday cap.

JustFamilyafterMilansVisitation-8-2013-02-2-20-23.jpgThe immediate family returned to his home for a little down time, pizza and more conversation. Here’s Samanatha, one of his granddaughers, trying on an old Russian hat of his.

JustFamilyafterMilansVisitation-1-2013-02-2-20-23.jpgAnd here’s Gary and racing with Maddy, one of Lug's great granddaughters with Tom, a son-in-law of Lug, looking on. Gary kept accusing Maddy of cheating but when his car flipped in the air, we knew that his technique needed polishing.

Finally the family broke up, some to in-laws homes in Fort Dodge, some back to Des Moines and Gary and I are staying here.

Gary is the executor and is trying to gather some of the paperwork that Lug had left.