Homer's Travels: June 2008

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Omaha And The Arts

Omaha keeps surprising me. I've only been here for less than two weeks and my view of Omaha is changing. I always thought that California was more artsy and Nebraska was more crafty. Well, on Saturday I went to the Omaha Summer Arts Festival with Mom. About 5 blocks of street are blocked off and booths are set up. I was expecting a lot of crafts and stuff. Instead I found art. More art than what I used to see at the Ventura Street Festival. It was a pleasant surprise. There were artists from Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Texas, and a few other surrounding states.
Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera. There were a few interesting characters with their painted cars. One van was painted with chalk board paint and people were writing all over it. Some of the booths were selling photographs. Makes me want to take some pictures of my own and see what I can sell. I'll have to look into so photography contests in the area.
After walking through the festival, buying some ice cream, and buying a cool,upside down flower pot, Mom and I walked around the old market area of downtown. The Old market is full of interesting shops ad restaurants and I'm sure I will spend a lot more time down in this area.
I guess this kind of stuff is why Kiplinger's named Omaha the #3 Best Cities to live in.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Enough Already With The Freaky Weather

Last time a storm blew in so quickly everyone was left in shock. The storm only lasted 15 - 20 minutes but in that short span trees were blown over and over 120,000 people were without electricity - including us. The winds were clocked around 70 MPH with some gusts approaching 90 MPH - Hurricane force. Parts of Omaha north of us has golf ball size hail. During the storm the Wife and I stared out the window and watch the rain fall sideways. It was trash day and recycle bins were blowing down the street. Then, after everything was over, the electricity went out.

Our oven in Nebraska is electric and the homemade pizza in the oven probably had another five to ten minutes to go when the power went out. The homemade pizza dough didn't have enough time to finish baking. We were hungry for the rest of the night.

I was also disappointed with our phone system. We get the phone through our cable company. They told me that the phone set up was on an UPS and that it would work even when the power was out. WRONG!! They will hear from me since if we'd had an emergency, we wouldn't have been able to call 911 or anyone else. Not a very good situation.

As we waited for the electricity to come back on, I pulled out a battery powered radio (a fish-shaped shower radio) and we listened to the local storm coverage. They took callers and some of them were hilarious. One guy called and said that he'd heard enough about the storm, they needed to "get over it", and put on the regular Sports show. What a selfish little punk.
Another guy was an interviewer's nightmare:

Radio Guy: "Hello, your on."
Yokal: "Hello"
Radio Guy: "What did you see?"
Yokal: "Tornado"

The rest of the interview wasn't any more verbose. There weren't any tornados that night either.

A third guy called saying he was stuck in his basement. Apparently he went down there during the storm and a tree had fallen blocking his door. The problem is he sound so much like a DUUUDE that it was hard to take him seriously. My guess is that he stored his stash of marihuana in the basement and and he was calling for help because he smoked his last joint. The Radio Guy asked him if he could call his neighbors to help him get out and he said "Whoa, I hadn't thought about that. I'll give it a try." What a character.

The electricity came on at 8:05 AM this morning. There was some concern it would be off for a few days since there were over 80 circuits down and the winds brought down a lot of lines. We were lucky. Most of the trees in our area are young and resilient and most of out electrical lines are buried. My Mom found one of her trees in her backyard pond. Our only loss was our new metal flag pole bracket - snapped it right off. Note to self: bring in flag before the storm hits.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fireflies And Other Memories

The other night as I was letting Homer run around the backyard, I noticed the blinking lights of fireflies. Our new backyard overlooks a corn field and the field twinkled with lightning bug flashes. I was instantly taken back to my childhood chasing lightning bugs on the shores of the Lake of the Ozarks.

It got me thinking. Many of my happy childhood memories involve insects. Fireflies, caterpillars, butterflies, mayflies, june bugs, lady bugs, stick bugs, ants, and on and on. Capturing caterpillars and putting them in jars and watching them become butterflies. Watching the short lived mayflies flying around the outdoor movie screen. Blowing up ant hills with firecrackers. Watching june bugs fly into windows and walls (we used to call them tanks). Southern California doesn't seem to have as many insects. A few ants, but nothing really interesting that I can recall.

I like how the flashing sparks made me feel. Kind of comforting, warm, and fuzzy. Those days of my childhood, they seem so simple now. How I miss them.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Big Screen Ecstacy

On Tuesday our new 46" 1080p LCD HDTV was delivered. HDTV is right up there with crack and ecstasy. We are both in heaven. That is if heaven is non-stop, mind numbing, gray matter killing reality TV and CNN election coverage. This might explain why I haven't posted much lately. We are still drooling over the crystal clear picture. Of course,no matter how big the Television, the programming is still crap. Then again, watching losers bounce off the big balls of Wipeout was much more bounce-irific on the big screen. I do wish the Sci-Fi channel would broadcast in HD - Battlestar Galactic would be awesome - but I will just have to be happy with the Discovery and National Geographic channels.

Later today the rest of our new furniture that we picked out last Saturday will be delivered. We bought a china cabinet, two nightstands, four new cairs for our dinner table, and a desk for our computer. The desk will have to be assembled so I expect I know what I'll be doing later today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thunderstorms And Homer

One of the things that the Wife and I missed in California was the weather. Since we moved into our new house a week ago we've experienced about 4 evenings of Thunderstorms. I'd forgotten what it feels like to see the lightning and hear the accompanying thunder. I would even venture to guess that the first evening of thunderstorms had more thunder than all of my 20 years in California. Actually, it's rained more here in the last week than it rain all of last year in Oxnard. What a difference. I really enjoy it. I'm sure if I had to go out in it I would think differently but in a cozy home there is such a comfortable, hunkering down feeling.

That morning I'd gone out an bought a weather radio - A necessity in the mid-west. For those who do not experience weather, a weather radio turns on automatically when there is a weather warning in your area. It went off several times that first night as several severe thunderstorms rumbles through our are.

While all the weather excitement is great for me, Homer doesn't quite appreciate it as much. When it thunders he gets really clingy and stays close to us. To his credit he remains relatively calm and isn't whiny or barky at all. The first night of thunderstorms he went down to the basement and laid down in the laundry room (It appears that Homer is ready for Tornadoes). Since the first storm he doesn't go in the basement as much but stays close and kind of cowers looking for comport. He shows his nervousness by panting and heavy breathing. Today we've had thunderstorms most of the day and he seems to be relaxing a bit - a teensy weensy bit. I expect he will eventually get used to it. Hopefully it will be soon.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Squatter Under The Deck

We have a squatter at our new house. She has some young kids so we'll probably let them stay for a while. She's a little shy but her kids posed for a picture (There are four, only three in the picture).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Quests Of Homer:The Chaser Of Bunnies

It's been a busy couple of days and we are far from being finished. I'm guessing we have a month or two before we are completely settled into our new home. Here is an mish-mash of what has happened in the last couple days.

On Tuesday the sellers were supposed to be out by 1:00 PM. We showed up at 11:15 AM and chatted briefly with their movers (The sellers had already left town - their movers were unsupervised). The movers said that they had about an hour of work left. This would work as our movers would not be showing up until 1:00 PM. We went to have lunch (Old Chicago - good chain restaurant food) and came back around 12:30 PM. The movers were gone so we went into the house. What a mess! There was junk in the basement. The chest freezer that was supposed to stay was gone. The place was filthy. There was about an inch of dust and a a herd of dust bunnies were hoping around the master bedroom wood floor. We just walked around the house cursing out the sellers. Probably the grossest thing were the whisker clippings in the bathroom drawers. The Wife made some frantic calls to our Realtor and the seller's Realtor while I went to the nearby Wal-Mart to by a swiffer to battle the dust bunnies with. The Realtors are going to get us compensated for the mess.

Our movers showed up on time. Shortly after their arrival, the seller's movers returned. What?!? Anyway we got the seller's movers to get the stuff out of the basement while our movers moved stuff into the upstairs (Our house is a ranch style house with a walk in basement). I decided to leave all the chaos to the Wife and my Mom, who was helping (Thanks Mom!), and drove back out to Columbus to pick up Homer.

Homer had been a good boy with the Loon Whisperer and her brood. She had gotten sick the day we left and the Vet was getting sick when I got there. Fortunately Homer is an easy, low maintenance dog.

When I got back, the movers were gone and everything was in the house. We'd put all the boxes in the basement and most of the furniture upstairs. This way we can bring one box up at a time to put stuff way and the living space can stay clutter-free. We ended up, so far, with only a couple broke things. Of course they broke the most irreplaceable thing. When moving in our piano, which happens to be about 104 years old, they dropped it and busted off two of the casters on the bottom. It will be interesting to see how they fix that for us. They also lost a bed frame caster and two casters off the wet/dry vacuum. Apparently the movers had a thing for casters.

Then came the first emergency. We haven't bought our big screen TV yet and we are relying on a cheap-a$$ 20" piece of crap for our TV viewing. You can't do anything with this TV without it's remote control and the remote control was packed. To make things worse, the NBA finals game was starting in three hours. So, for the next three hours, I cut open boxes, shifted stuff around, unwrapped packing paper, lifted boxes, sweated like a big dog, and searched until, in the last box, I found the remote. I found it 15 minutes before tip off. The Wife was very grateful. Yay for me!

Yesterday the Wife tackled the old kitchen cabinet liner paper (She had to use a razor blade to scrape it all off) while I set up the Internet (my connection is about 50% faster than my old Time Warner connection). I then started unloading some of my clothes and doing laundry. The Wife said she would be mowing the lawn soon so I decided to plug in our cordless mower to get it all charged up. If only I could find the charger. It took me another two - three hours of more box opening, moving, lifting, sweating (like a big dog), and searching before I found it in the least likely box. I tell you, these quests for small items suck! The basement is now a maze of boxes, a few only half full. In other words, a mess.

On a lighter note, Homer encountered his first Nebraska rabbit. I spotted a rabbit in our backyard. It was in an area that had been a garden once munching on some weeds. I told the Wife and she decided it was time for the Homer to go Pee Pee. Homer got in the yard and the bunny froze. I watched it from our deck. Homer trotted around oblivious while the bunny hunched down like a statue. Then Homer got a little to close for the rabbit and it bolted. Homer ran after it but the bunny got away. This morning he had a second run in with another rabbit but it too got away.

We ended the day with some Dairy Queen ice cream. Today, we will try to do what we couldn't finish yesterday: unpack the kitchen and our clothes.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Homeless No More

We are officially Nebraska homeowners. We drove into Omaha to do our walk through and sign our papers.

When we reached the house it was still occupied. We started the walk through and we were startled to find the house full of stuff. We're supposed to move in tomorrow and the current - ex - owners stuff was still not moved. On top of that the place was dirty. We went to the realtor's office and asked about it. Turns out they were told to vacate by 1:00 PM on Tuesday. We assumed we would own it at 12:01 AM. We made a call to our movers who were scheduled to deliver all our stuff at 8:30 AM, and rescheduled the delivery to 1:00 PM. We were lucky we could reschedule so late in the game.

While I was looking for the movers number, the Wife talked to the Realtor about getting the house cleaned. He assured us it would be clean by 1:00 PM.

Tonight we stay at Moms and tomorrow we move in officially. Can't wait to be in our own bed again.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Good Bye Rifle ... Hello Columbus

On Sunday we got up early and left Rifle. The next leg was going to be a long 10 hours and would end with us staying at the Loon Whisper's place.

The drive though Colorado is beautiful until your reach Denver. After Denver the terrain flattens out and segues smoothly into the flat, straight that is Nebraska. I was tired as I haven't been sleeping well lately.

The drive took us past Silt,CO, No Name, CO and Worm, NE. The restaurant of the day was the Smilin' Moose Cafe.

We made it to the Loon Whisper's home and we introduced Homer to Spud and her sisters, the spudettes. They were a little unsure of him so he explored the backyard until the kids went to bed.

The Vet, the Loon Whisperer's husband, gave us a welcoming gift of a DVD: "Beef Reproduction Module #1: How to Get Cows Pregnant". I'm sure, since this is module #1, it will probably end with a cliffhanger. Can't wait to check it out once we buy our big screen TV.

We will spend our first night in Nebraska at the Loon Whisper's home.

Tomorrow, Homer will stay with the spud and spudettes while the Wife and I continue on to Omaha to walk through our new house and sign the final closing papers to make it our own.

Good Bye Las Vegas ... Hello Rifle

The drive from Oxnard to Las Vegas is a pretty ugly drive. The California dessert is rather blah and boring. The drive from Las Vegas to Rifle, on the other hand, is amazing. From the Virgin River Gorge in northwestern Arizona to the spectacular dessert vistas along the western I-70 n Utah, the awesome sights are none stop.

I have driven this route a few times and the 11 miles of I-15 through the Virgin River Gorge is one of my favorite stretches of road, right up there with Highway 1 between Monterey and San Simeon and the Going To The Sun in Glacier. It was just as incredible as I remembered.

We managed to get past St George, UT without breaking down. We passed restaurants like the Hoagie O Yoagie and the Garden of Eat In Restaurant. We passed an advertisement in Parowan for the Nuclear War Survival Plan. If I'd had more time, I would have stopped along the way at all the weird places but I really wanted to get to Omaha so we can sign our papers.

The next great stretch of road is from the Junction of I-15 and I-70 to just past Green River. The landscape is a panople of reds, oranges, yellows, and whites. Every corner I rounded revealed another breathtaking view. I felt the urge to hike the red bluffs tugging at my gut.

We arrived in Rifle, checked into the hotel, and called the Wife's aunt in nearby Parachute. We were looking forward to great conversation and a home cooked meal (Our first in a week). They did not disappoint. The food was delicious and we talked and talked quite a bit later then we had originally planned. Homer, of course, was a good boy in their house.

We made it back to the hotel just in time to go to bed. We had an early morning on Sunday and we were tired.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Good Bye California ... Hello Las Vegas

We are on the road ... finally. The Wife finished her College Application Camp a little early and, after a quick lunch at Wendy's, we hit the road. It felt good to be on the road and out of the tiny hotel room we were in.

The drive wasn't bad and we didn't hit traffic until Las Vegas. I was hoping to take a picture of the "You Are Leaving California" sign on our way out but there is no such sign. This made the whole leaving California experience a non-event. A little of a letdown. A thought it would affect me more - leaving California after almost 21 years - but it was just another line on the map.

We arrived in Las Vegas five hours later and checked into a hotel on the north-east side of the city. We decided that we weren't interested in staying in a cheap hotel near the strip because, frankly, it would be a cheap hotel near the strip along with all the unsavory characters that those types of hotels attract. Instead we found a cheap hotel a long way from the strip. So far away it doesn't even have slot machines. At least the room is bigger then our last room.

Because Homer is traveling with us (He slept most of the way to Vegas) having a nice, sit-down meal is not possible. Fast food is really the only option. I thing my salt and saturated fats are going through the roof. It's sort of a mini-Super Size Me experiment. By the time we get to Nebraska I'll be fed up with all the crap I've been stuffing my face with.

Tonight I watch Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica (our hotel has Sci-Fi!). Tomorrow on to Rifle,CO.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Internet Travails And Other Minutia

On Monday I returned our DVR. As I returned it, I specifically asked that the Internet not be disconnected until Wednesday. Later that night I tried to post and found that ... I had no Internet connection. Those Bastards!! I figured this wouldn't be an issue as I would have Wi-Fi at my hotel.

Monday night was weird. The house was completely empty. I walked in and said hello and heard "hello ... hello ... hello." A kind of haunting echo. All we had was an inflatable mattress and two sleeping bags. We were so bored that we went to bed at 8:00 pm.

On Tuesday, after taking Homer to the dog park to play with his friends, I checked into our hotel and paid my $2.99 for Wi-fi access. I flipped open my laptop and ... failed to connect. I called the 800 number on the access card and talked to someone who was not helpful. She said she would raise the issue to the next level. I then called the office who was even less helpful. They said, call the 800 number. So after putzing around for a couple hours, I called the 800 number again and got someone who at least sounded like he knew something. After asking some very intelligent questions he said he thought the server or the access point at the motel needed to be reset and he would make some calls and hopefully everything would be up in an hour or two. Well, it never came up and I decided to ask the office for a refund of the Internet fee. They refunded it with little argument. I expect it must happen often.

On Wednesday I took Homer to the veterinarian for his shots followed by a trip to the Fur Stylist for his spa treatment (bath and a nail clipping). There was a gap of time between the vet and the spa so we went down to Hueneme Beach and walked around a little. I got back in the car and fired up the laptop and found an unprotected Internet connection. Careless of them. I jumped on long enough to download e-mail and to check some stuff. I feel a little guilty since you could consider that stealing but ... if you leave your door open, people will look in. I was on-line for no more then 10 minutes so I doubt they noticed.

The past three days have been really weird. It's hard to describe. I feel like I'm in purgatory. I'm limited in what I can do since Homer is with me all of the time. I think the main feeling in anxiousness to get moving. I can't wait to hit the road on Friday. Until then, wait ... wait ... wait.

Update: I decided to see if I could get on at the motel again. This time it connected. It turns out the access code I turned in for the refund still works. Go figure.

Monday, June 09, 2008

An Idle "J" Will Fork You Over

We woke up this morning to a Yard full of forks.

Last Saturday we went to Olvera Street and Chinatown with the "J". (I may post about that trip one of these days.) After returning home, we raided our pantry and gave her all the extra food, napkins, and PLASTIC FORKS so she could use or donate them. Little did we know they would be used against us.

Our entire front yard was covered in forks, about one every square foot or so. She left a sign saying "You were Forked! Ha Ha!" We suspect that she was aided by another friend, the "M".

That "J", what'cha goin' to do with her?!?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Loopy Hole In My Vocabulary

Oh yeah, almost forgot. Have you ever had one of those days when the simplest of words just don't come when you need them? Today I just couldn't think straight. I couldn't think of the words: Birdbath, Doormat, and several others throughout the day. The fact is the Wife and I were completely loopy most of the day. To be honest, most of my attempts at humor today were 'totally lame' as opposed to the usual 'mostly lame'.

I think the completion of this moving stuff, the light at the end of the tunnel, and the sudden lifting of stress has made us giddy.

Boxing Day

The packers showed up today and the time just flew by as we sat on the couch and watched boxes being loaded up. We both thought it would be boring and slow but time flew. They were nice enough to leave the TV out so the Wife could watch the NBA Finals though they did pack the remote control.

We'd packed the car with all the stuff that was not going to be packed by the movers. The Wife's car is full of our china and other valuable/sentimental breakable. My car would carry the computer (my valuable/sentimental stuff :-) along with Homer's stuff. (I was going to pack the computer after the packer had gone for the day.) He'll be riding with me.

Here is a lesson that I should have anticipated. The packers are very aggressive. They pack everything that's not nailed down. I'd told them not to pack the computer, which they left alone. I'd set aside some foam rubber to use to pack my computer. After the packers left for the day I went upstairs to pack the computer and ... the foam pad was gone. I suspect they packed it and I'm sure I will find it in Omaha. D'OH! I had to go dumpster diving for the remains of a rug mat the Wife had used to pack some pictures. It wasn't quite enough so I used a blanket and a sweatshirt jacket that we had in our car trunks to finish the packing. I just hope it all survives the week riding in the trunk of my car.

The packers return tomorrow to finish packing and loading the boxes and furniture on the truck. Tomorrow night is going to be very ... boring and uncomfortable. We bought an inflatable bed and have sleeping bags but nothing to sit on and no TV. I'll still have internet for my laptop. I'll be packing that stuff up tomorrow night. I hope to keep posting as long as I have internet in the hotels.

Tuesday through Thursday we are in a hotel in Ventura. Friday we drive to Las Vegas. Saturday we drive to Rifle,Colorado where we will visit one of the Wife's aunts, and Sunday we will be staying with the Loon Whisperer, the Vet, Spud, and the spudettes. Monday we do our final walk through and sign our closing papers. Tuesday we get the keys and our stuff is delivered. The only thing left after that are all the little details like unpacking, utilities, and rearranging furniture til it's just right. It's all down hill from here!

Friday, June 06, 2008

The Exchange Of Coin

Well, today the money exchanged hands and we have until Wednesday to vacate the premises. I just received the call from the realtor. We both are grinning from ear to ear. I can't wait to go to my bank's site to see our account balance (No, it's not there yet ... I checked).

We also found out today that our moving company will be delivering our stuff in Omaha a day early. Early! How rare is that? Things seem to be progressing nicely.

Tomorrow we're going to celebrate with a breakfast at Mrs. Olsen's and a trip to Chinatown and Olvera Street. The "J" will be riding with us. The Wife is planning to do some early Christmas shopping. It will be a short trip as we have a lot to do before they come to pack our stuff on Sunday.

I can't wait to get to Omaha!

Monday, June 02, 2008

As The Homer Moves

Time for another chapter of As The Homer Moves. Since my last post we have been going through all our stuff and filling up a dumpster. By Saturday evening the dumpster, a large four cubic yard jobby, was filled to the brim. We have about another half of a dumpster to go I'm guessing. They'll come to dump it tomorrow.

The Wife did yard work for the last time in California. As she did this I emptied out my computer desk. Emptied it so well that I killed my shredder. When it comes to paper I am a major pack rat. The desk alone was about three or four bags of shred. Today I was taking stuff down from our storage loft in the garage and came across more paper (I'm guessing four or five bags of shred worth!). So off to Office Depot I went and bought a new shredder. This time I got an 18 page capacity one that was on clearance for half price. It's doing a pretty good job so far.

I make a pledge that I will no longer be a paper pack rat. To satisfy my need to keep things, I plan to scan stuff as it arrives and then immediately shred the physical evidence. Cross my heart. Really! I'll even promise to oil the shredder regularly. On an aside, I had some oil that I could have used to oil the shredder but it went to the hazardous waste disposal site with all our other stuff. D'oh! Now I'll have to buy some more. Damn my poorly planned efficiency!

On Sunday we got rid of the dining room set so our final haul from the moving sale was $1,518.00 A satisfying number. The only thing we have to get rid off, besides garbage, is the donation stuff. I call Salvation Army to request a pickup on Friday and they never showed. I went online to check and the site said the pickup was completed and even included a receipt. Someone's being a fibber. Naughty Naughty. I guess to get things done right you have to do it yourself. I plan to take all the boxes of donations to the donation center tomorrow. The desk we were going to donate will be torn down and put in the dumpster once they empty it. I'm not feeling too bad about that since it's in marginal shape as is.

Things are progressing but, as usual, they never seem to progress fast enough. On one hand I need the time to get ready for the packers coming on Saturday. On the other, I want it all to be done. *sigh*