Hand and House News

Today marks my second day minus the wrist splint.  The doctor at the OSU Hand and Upper Extremity Center says that I should wean myself off of it, but I am so thankful that my hand is close to healed that I am going “cold turkey” away from it.  Not being to hold a pen, not being able to use silverware, and not being able to wear a glove on the cold days we have had recently (yes, even after the start of the vernal equinox)–none of this will I miss.  There is still some pain in my right wrist, when I try to bend my hand too far forward or backward, or to either side, but I think it will soon be gone.  I am able to keep it at bay with naproxen.

When I last blogged, I was in limbo about where I live.  In case you missed the last entry, I had just gotten my heat back after weeks of having to sleep in my clothes, wear layers of sweatshirts and jackets in the house, and place unreturned phone calls to the property manager.  (If there had been no forward motion about the dead furnace, I was going to print off a copy of Section 5321.04(6) of the Ohio Revised Code, which deals with landlord responsibilities, and enclose it with my next rent check.  That was when I learned that the landlord had washed his hands of the place by neglecting his property taxes.)  The property was on the verge of being sold at sheriff’s auction when a new owner and property manager stepped up to the plate, bought the place, waterproofed the basement, and replaced the furnace.

About two weeks later, I played a voice mail message on my phone at work.  The new owner wanted to increase the rent to $1200 per month, which was a jump of 43% over what I had been paying in the 2½ years I have called this half double my home.  (I realize this is incomprehensible for any readers who live in New York, Boston, or the San Francisco Bay Area, but for under $700 per month, I was renting a three-bedroom half double.)  This near-doubling of the rent is especially insane in a neighborhood like this, where entire houses rent for around $1000 per month.

I had first dibs on the place at the new place, but I knew it was not realistic to think I could afford such an increase.  The new owner said I could stay until the end of June (I had been month-to-month since October), but I immediately got online and began to look for a new place.  I was also going around the SoHud neighborhood, notepad and Pilot EasyTouch ballpoint in hand, jotting down any phone number on FOR RENT signs I encountered.  The latter was not an easy task with a hand in a splint.  Looking over the pages in my notebook right now, I am surprised my penmanship came out as legibly as it did.

Mercifully, the search was a short one.  Walking toward High St. late one afternoon, I saw a sign in the front yard of a half double on E. Blake Ave.  I called the number on the sign, and made a date to meet the owner the next day after work.

And I liked what I saw.  It’s only $20 a month more than what I am paying now, although it is two-bedroom, instead of three.  The floors are freshly varnished.  A washer and dryer combination is in the basement.  (I have been renting to own a set from Rent-A-Center.  There is a lot of truth to something FBI Agent Dale Cooper said in Twin Peaks: “Leasing may be the fast track to an appearance of affluence, but equity will keep you warm at night.”)  Furnace and central air are brand new and flawless.  And the owner is current with property taxes and mortgage payments.  (He and his wife did live in my half of the duplex, but they’ve moved to a bigger place in Beechwold, since they plan on having children in the near future.)

The owner agreed to rent it to me after about 15 minutes of conversation, and he faxed me a lease the next day.  The big day will be April 1, when I meet him and he gives me the key.

Susie has been spending spring break with me, and has enjoyed everything except the weather.  I came close to blogging about my good fortune in finding affordable new living quarters as soon as I had sealed the deal, but I reined myself in so I could surprise Susie by pointing out the new place as we walked by it.  (She still has not seen the interior.  She will be returning to Florida late Sunday afternoon, and I do not get the key until Tuesday.)

The only planned “special” activity that Susie and I did was visiting COSI (the Center of Science and Industry) on Sunday afternoon.  While we were emailing and IMing back and forth about Susie’s spring break visit, I mentioned the Sherlock Holmes exhibit at COSI, and both of us wanted to see it.  We were both underwhelmed.  My favorite part was the mock-up of the interior of 221B Baker St., and it was complete, right down to the Holmes mannequin in the window (to fool a criminal into thinking Holmes was actually there when he wasn’t), to the “VR”–Victoria Regina–spelled out in bullet holes above the fireplace.  (When bored, Holmes would resort to either cocaine or indoor marksmanship.  I am not sure if he ever combined the two.)  Holmes’ file of correspondence was where it was in the stories.  It was pinned to the fireplace mantle with a jackknife.  The exhibit was the first time I had ever seen original editions of The Strand magazine, where many of the short stories (and a serialized Hound of the Baskervilles) first appeared, and, almost as rare as a Gutenberg Bible or a Shakespeare First Folio was a copy of Beeton’s Christmas Annual, where Holmes first debuted in A Study in Scarlet.

The exhibit was not worth the $56 I paid for two tickets.  As for the interactive part of the exhibit, the mystery-solving was on a par with “It was Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick.”

I will have the façade of wealth throughout the month of April.  I have paid the April rent at my soon-to-be-former home, so during that month I will have two residences!  This is purely for practical reasons, so I can move over piecemeal, especially the more cumbersome job of moving the books and records.  (I had a modest assortment of LPs when I moved here in the fall of 2011, and that has quadrupled–at least!–and then there are all the 78s.  I have imposed a moratorium on buying books and records until the move has started, to lessen what needs to be moved.)  I will save the furniture until the very end, and will probably hire a professional mover for that.  (Moving books is the only time I will ever wish I had a Nook!)

This is a still from The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and what I envision every time I have to move.  This time, however, I am hoping to stay put for the foreseeable future.  (My new landlord seems more conscientious than my last one.)

Susie, a friend of hers, and I walked to dinner at the Blue Danube tonight.  We passed the new place en route, and were happy to see that the FOR RENT sign was gone from the front yard.  I am looking forward to the exchange next Tuesday (I give him a cashier’s check, he gives me the key), although I wish the move was already behind me.  I’ll feel much better once I am actually settled into the new place.

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All Within Reach

Pictures of our new place will appear soon in this blog.  There are two reasons why they have yet to appear.  One is that Susie’s and my new, beloved half double is still quite cluttered and disorganized.

The other is that the cord connecting my digital camera to the laptop seems to have been a casualty of the move.  Replacing it cost me less than three dollars online, and there was an email yesterday saying it was in transit.  So, even if I had taken pictures of my new abode, they are hermetically sealed in my camera until this new cord arrives.

Because of Columbus Day, I have a three-day weekend, and my numero uno project will be getting the place in order.  It still won’t be guest-ready for awhile, but I will be able to share some pictures quite soon, if I can stay motivated and focused enough to keep working.

I was not a little kid let loose in Santa’s workshop when I went to the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio last Friday, so I am still furnishing the place piecemeal.  On Saturday, my friend Steve and I made a few trips back and forth from my former place in Weinland Park (that has such a beautiful ring to it!), and between trips, he helped me move some of the more cumbersome furniture.  Thanks to him, Susie’s and my desks are now in place, as is my dresser.  It took him, Susie, and me, working and sweating together, to get my king-sized mattress up the narrow stairway.  (Once on the second floor, moving it into my bedroom was easy.)  During moves, I have said (and heard) that recurring reassurance, “This isn’t heavy, it’s just bulky [or unwieldy],” but I didn’t dare insult Steve’s intelligence by saying that, especially when it came to the desks.

As I started to organize my study, I cursed myself for not taking the long table with me from Weinland Park.  I paced the small room (where I am now writing), thinking about what to do in the meantime until I made a trip to Goodwill to buy a table.  Then, I made my first trip to the basement since the leasing agent walked me through the place the first time.  I wasn’t sure why I was going down there.  Susie and I hadn’t taken anything down there.

Soon, I was glad I made the trip.  I found an old door leaning against the basement wall, and hauled it up to the office.  I stacked milk crate bookcases two high on the left and the right, and put the door across them.  I plan to go to Family Dollar and buy a folding chair for Susie’s and my desks, but in the meantime I am sitting on a small wooden workbench that I found downstairs.

The people who live on N. 4th St. between Maynard and Hudson must have had a good laugh early yesterday evening.  Susie is currently sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor, since the Furniture Bank didn’t have a box spring.  While I was between projects at work yesterday, I sneaked a peek at Columbus Underground‘s Website, just in time to see a notice from a woman pop up.  She had a queen-sized box spring free for the taking, and she lived in Clintonville.  She had brought it from her previous apartment, and found her stairs were too narrow for the mattress to fit.

Three or four emails later, I was headed north on N. 4th St. wheeling a dolly a friend loaned me.  (This friend works at Lowe’s, so obtaining dollies is as easy as my bringing home pens and tape from my job!)  This person’s house was several blocks north of Maynard, north of Hudson and near the rim of the Glen Echo Ravine.  She and I managed to get the queen-sized mattress onto the sidewalk, and she centered it onto the dolly.

And then the fun started.  She was trying–mostly in vain–to suppress her laughter as I made my way back toward Maynard.  I decided to pull the dolly, holding the mattress up against it with one hand and letting it rest on my shoulders.  Pushing it ahead of me was out of the question–I would have no visibility.

The half mile distance never seemed so long.  The mattress was just too wide, so I had to stop and turn it sideways for telephone poles, or to avoid breaking limbs off small trees, or tearing off the mirrors on parked cars.  The mattress completely dwarfed the dolly.  (It was like when a friend and I moved a queen-sized box spring and mattress on the top of his small car, tied there only with bed sheets.  I’m sure we resembled a ladybug trying to carry a two-by-four.)

Crossing Hudson Street was a nightmare.  It is a major entryway to Interstate 71, so there is traffic almost constantly.  Many motorists stopped for red lights sat behind their steering wheels with dropping jaws looking at this bearded lunatic with his pathetic dolly and his gigantic burden.

The railroad bridge near the intersection of Hudson and N. 4th Sts.  (The bridge crosses above Hudson St.)  The picture is from Amymyou’s Photostream on Flickr.

I was frustrated enough to consider abandoning the box spring in the nearest obliging alley, trying to be as inconspicuous and innocent-looking as possible as I leaned it against someone’s garbage cans and then beat a hasty retreat, dragging a clattering metal dolly behind me.

A young (late teens, early 20s) couple walking their dog took pity on me.  The guy and I carried the mattress at waist level the two or so blocks (but never had two blocks seemed so long than it did last night!), and his girlfriend followed us with the dolly.

The box spring is on the front porch.  After I clear a path, I will make an attempt to get this unwieldy piece of furniture up to Susie’s bedroom, although I think I’m procrastinating because I’m afraid I’ll discover the same thing my benefactor did–that the stairs are too narrow, and this box spring can’t fold in two, the way a mattress can.

And if this turns out to be the case, the next step for the box spring is the Columbus Freecycle.

Susie turns 14 tomorrow.  She understands that her big gift was the new computer, replacing the one the thieves took.  She and I will split a small cake, and on Saturday I’ll take her to Studio 35 to see Star Trek II: Chekov Screams Again The Wrath of Khan.  I have already ordered a gift she has wanted for some time–a year of Seventeen–but the first issue has yet to arrive.

Despite my loathing of Bill O’Reilly, I am reading his current book, Killing Lincoln, mainly because any new book about the Lincoln assassination is a must-read for me.  Already his narrative style is starting to grate on me.  He has introduced Lincoln several times as “the man with 14 [or 13, or 12] days to live…”, which reminded me of a Discovery Channel show I liked, Final 24, describing the last hours of the lives of notable people, such as Jim Morrison, Hunter S. Thompson, and Nicole Brown Simpson.

Don’t Know My Own Strength

In less than two hours, it will be October 2011.  Indeed a red-letter day for Susie and me, since we will officially be in residence in Old North Columbus (informally known as Baja Clintonville).  As I was there today, I saw all the external signs that the place is indeed our new residence.  (You’d think that the three new keys on my ring would be assurance enough for me, but I still seek other evidence as well.)  There was a change-of-address acknowledgement from the U.S. Postal Service, a notice from the credit union letting me know my change of address went through okay, and a letter to Susie from her grandfather in Wisconsin.

The first piece of mail addressed to me at the new place came from my ex-employer.

 The books came over on Tuesday night.  My friend John, who labored with me in the purgatory known as Medco Health, helped me transport two pickup truck loads of books from Weinland Park to Old North.  (We stopped at Tee Jaye’s for a late meal in between runs.)  Wherever my books are, that is home for me.  So, one whole corner of the living room contained stacks and stacks of milk crates.

Today marked the arrival of the furniture.  In the previous entry, I included a plug for the Furniture Bank of Central Ohio, and thanks to them, we have furniture in the new place.  My associate pastor Eric met me at their headquarters on S. Yale Ave., not too far from my old house in Franklinton, and I went through the warehouse picking out dressers, mattresses, box springs, a love seat, and a La-Z-Boy.  Susie and I have identical desks–heavy oak desks that were once in dormitories.

Two thirds of the way through the selection process, the warehouse foreman casually mentioned that it was curbside delivery.  The truck driver and his assistant would not carry the furniture inside the house.  That was totally on me.

I was happy to pay the $55 delivery fee, so I didn’t fume too much about their not bringing it into the house.  The title of this entry came from my realization that, although it wouldn’t be pleasant, I could indeed haul everything inside.  It took the better part of two hours, and I had to resort to such creative tactics such as pushing the dresser end over end, and singlehandedly moving Susie’s dresser up the stairs.  (Gravity was not my friend during that experience, and I am still marveling over the fact it did not shift and come down on top of me.)  During the time I was moving the mattresses upstairs, I came away convinced they were alive.

Common sense prevailed enough to keep me from being completely foolhardy with the furniture moving.  There is a large TV sitting on top of the refrigerator, but under no circumstances will I bring that down by myself.  The desks are so heavy that tonight they are sitting on my new front porch.

Tonight was Community Presentation Night at The Graham School, where Susie is a freshman.  Each class presented its Septemberim projects, including Susie’s “Writing for the Internet” class.  (During the first month of school, the students spent entire days in a single class of their choosing.)  Of course, Susie’s blog was among the many displayed in the classroom.  (The teacher arrayed laptops around the room, each open to the home pages of the students’ blogs.)

This indeed has been one of those overloaded days.  I came in to work for two hours before I headed over to the Furniture Bank, and that was the slowest moving part of the day.  There were no doctors’ reports awaiting dictation when I logged on at 8 a.m., but the rest of the day went manic really quickly.  I filled out two pages of paperwork before I went to the warehouse to select furniture.  As soon as the furniture guys left (around 12:45 to 1 p.m.), I immediately went to work getting the furniture indoors.  It looked like a cross between an eviction and a yard sale when the truck left, so I moved everything out of the yard and either onto the porch (the desks) or into the house (everything else).  As soon as I finished that, I headed straight to Columbus State to get my paycheck, and then to the credit union to cash it.  (It wasn’t until I was back downtown and walking from Rhodes Hall to the credit union that I realized that I had done the entire furniture-moving project on an empty stomach!  Next stop was Subway.)

Susie has a slight cold, but she’s soldiering on with school, and her enthusiasm about the new house is keeping the symptoms at bay.  I think that all the heavy lifting (literally!) gave my immune system a boost.  I’m one of those people who doesn’t get sick easily, but when it happens, I make up for all my health all at once and get dreadfully ill, with a vengeance.

As long as I get sick once this move is finished, and not during, I won’t complain too excessively.

Dateline: Weinland Park

I almost said this was from my new “20,” but many of my readers may have come of age in the post-CB radio era, and never heard C.W. McCall’s one-hit wonder “Convoy.”  (A “20” is a location, in CB jargon.)  Anyway, this is the first time I’ve had the energy and the solitude necessary to type this, my first blog entry from our new home in Weinland Park.  (That’s the name of the neighborhood, as well as the city park.  We’re most definitely not living in the park itself!)

Weinland Park is the neighborhood bordered by E. 5th Ave. to the south, N. High St. to the west, E. 11th Ave. to the north, and the Conrail tracks to the east.  The statistics for this section of town are grim, but I know many people who remember when the Short North, which is probably the trendiest neighborhood in Columbus, was a neighborhood no sane person would venture into after dark.  Neither Olde Towne East nor German Village were always the yuppie paradises they are now.  Weinland Park has a long way to go, but it’s quite suitable to our–my–needs.

The arrow on this Google Map does not represent
our house.  This is the Weinland Park neighborhood,
with the A indicating (I think) the Godman Guild.

It is just north of Italian Village, and it is a nice walk, and not an overly long one, to the OSU campus.  At the same time, it’s not so close to OSU that we will have to deal with the rioting, empty beer cans, open containers, and public urination that come after every Buckeyes football game, whether won or lost.  We are in a half double, and the layout is quite similar to the Clintonville place we just vacated.

Most importantly, the rent is quite affordable.  High school home economics teachers used to tell kids that rent should never consume more than 25% of your income, and in the last decade or so, I have wondered whether or not that was realistic.  For the first time since I’ve lived on my own, I think that I’m actually going to be doing that.  In the next few months, Steph and Susie will be moving out, once our divorce is final.  Neither Steph nor I know how much I will pay in child support, but living here, I can realistically expect to maintain this half double as my bachelor quarters without breaking my bank.

Friday was the day of the big move.  Steph, Susie, and I spent much of the week packing, weeding out, and moving everything down to the first floor of the old place.  Steph went to Cincinnati for the weekend that afternoon, and I made the big move from Clintonville to Weinland Park during the evening.  My friend John brought his pickup truck, and in quite a few back-breaking relays, we moved the furniture.  Steve and his daughter Amelia (my companion on the “One Nation Working Together” Washington trip earlier this month) did quite well transporting my books and the other contents of my office.  We started around 6 p.m., and it was after 2 a.m. Saturday before I was able to say, “That’s a wrap.  Cut and print.”  Susie had made and collapsed into her new bedroom while John, Amelia, Steve, and I were still moving items.

As I observed on Twitter, any friend can help you move.  True friends will help you move bodies and books.

Soon after everyone departed, I fell asleep in my new bedroom.  I was so tired I fell asleep fully clothed (including shoes, watch, and glasses) on the mattress, and I was too wiped out to put sheets on the mattress.  It wasn’t until morning that I realized that the smoke detector in my bedroom is defective–it chirps about every 30-45 seconds.  I tried installing a new battery, which did no good.  I even called the fire department to ask their advice–they told me to speak to my landlord, which I did (via voice mail).  I was too tired for it to disturb me.  I think that Friday night-Saturday morning, I could easily have slept on a bed of nails, the way that Zen Buddhists have mastered.

My sleep was not long, because I had to be awake for the guy from WOW Internet and Cable to come and install the cable.  Steph crossed the threshold this morning when she came back from Cincinnati, and we’ve been unpacking and sending things to their appropriate rooms.

We don’t plan to do much entertaining, so the front room (the living room) has become my office, and the middle (dining) room is where Steph and Susie have set up their laptops, and where the TV and Wii reside.  Steph’s and my bedrooms are in the same locations as they were in Clintonville.  She has the master bedroom, and I have the middle one.  Susie’s back bedroom is flooded with light in the afternoons, and she has the most closet space.  (We estimated the house to be just post-World War II, which means the two bigger bedrooms have very narrow closets.)

Susie was quite ingenious.  Her closet includes steps to the attic, and the attic is permanently off limits.  At the top of the steps, there is a hatch that is closed up with a combination lock.  Since Susie’s dresser was falling apart, we left it behind, and Susie has used the steps to the attic in lieu of shelves.  She’s stacked her pullover shirts, underwear, socks, etc. on the steps as she would lay them out in drawers.

Another drawing card for me is the proximity to Sporeprint Infoshop.  (I’ve shared the link and sung its praises before, but I’m doing it again.)  Sporeprint events, such as the Really, Really Free Market and Food Not Bombs were what attracted me to the Weinland Park area initially.  I walked past Sporeprint’s E. 5th Ave. headquarters this afternoon, headed home after errands to Dollar Tree and Family Dollar, and someone there invited me inside.  I came home laden with bread, pastries, eggs, and a cherry pie.  And all I did was make contact and say hi.  I have long wanted to volunteer with Sporeprint, and I can do it, now that I’m closer.  It’s also a shorter walk home from any activities that occur at the Awarehouse, the bike repair bay/party hall in the alley behind E. 5th Ave.

I’m typing this at the worktable in the living room/office.  Both Steph and Susie are asleep in their rooms, and since I’m going to be working tomorrow, I should follow their lead.  The office is not set up yet–I still have several crates and boxes to unload, but photographs will be forthcoming once I’m finished.

This malfunctioning fire alarm causes me to be grateful for having narcolepsy.  Since I fall asleep easily, whether I want to or not, I should be able to sleep through having that thing going off all night.

Interesting acoustic counterpoint here.  I hear a long train on the Conrail tracks to the east of my house, and while I’m typing, I’m listening to Herbie Hancock’s “Watermelon Man” coming from the laptop.  The sounds aren’t all that compatible.