You’d think there wouldn’t be many differences between duplex living and apartment living. Either way, your space is attached to someone else’s, and there are bound to be some annoyances. You’d think, anyway.

We lived in a duplex in Ohio. And in spite of the headboard-banging noise jokes (‘tis true, Evil Ones…we never heard a thing no matter what we said) the only thing we heard coming from the next door neighbors was the sound of a chair being pulled or pushed across the tile floor.

In the apartment here… yep, we hear things. And our upstairs neighbors do not seem to be noisy people; it’s just the nature of apartment living. You hear things: people walking, the sounds of TVs or radios. Occasional wild laughter. But more than that…peeing. Yes, if I’m in the bathroom and the guy upstairs is in the bathroom, I can hear him pee. And holy crap, can he pee. Make that Pee, with a capital P.

And they have a squeaky bed.
Read into that what you will.
Yep. The joys of apartment life.


Lemme tell ya, after so many weeks of eating out, you wouldn't believe how good a simple fried bologna sandwich can taste...


Eulogy For Someone Still Living

Murf’s dad, as was mentioned to me in recent email, bemoans the idea that everything good will be said about him after he dies. People wait until there’s a corpse before they screw up the nerve to say things that might be better said while there’s still a pulse, and some reasonable amount of comprehension. It might be a good idea, he thinks, to hold ones’ wake before one reaches an age where mental faculties might be a bit degraded, or before the wake is really a wake.

And it might be nice to see how many people will come, and who, and which of those in attendance will get royally drunk and puke in the nearest potted plant.

And he’s right. We shouldn’t have to be dead before people remember us. So for Mr. Murphy, a eulogy for someone still very much alive:

I was 12 years old the first time I saw Conor Murphy. I was walking down the street, headed for the 7-11, and he was lying face up in his front yard, arms folded behind his head. I must have hesitated, because he piped up, “Ah, ‘tis all right. I had a bit of the drop, and am just a wee bit fluthered.”

Not knowing what to say, I thought about turning and running.

“Mrs. Murphy thought I should come out here and face God Himself and explain why I felt a Guinness was a good thing at three in the afternoon. And I heartily think Himself approves.”

At hearing the name “Murphy” I relaxed, because I knew his sons from school, and I laughed because I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, but it sounded funny.

Mr. Murphy was “fluthered.” Not drunk. Not tipsy. He was fluthered.
And as you can imagine, very, very Irish.

I had other introductions to Mr. Murphy. And while he wasn’t much more that 2 or 3 inches taller than I was at the time, he always seemed to be a giant of a man. Always friendly, pretty much gregarious, he was still this huge presence that hinted that behind the friendliness was something with a spark of danger. Not danger in a bad way; he simply gave off the feeling of someone who would not tolerate mistreatment of anyone, and someone who could take care of it if he had to.

And he did. The next school year, the day after a teacher had openly humiliated two students who could not, because of their religion, stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, he stormed into our home room class to remove his son, letting her know in no uncertain terms what he thought about her intolerance of others’ religious beliefs. If we had dared, the rest of us would have stood up and cheered. It was one of our first lessons in civics, and it was given in less than two minutes.

Conor Murphy was also a cop. His intention to make it his career was cut short…not by the bullet lodged in his back, but by the fall he took just two weeks after being shot on the job. It was a stark reminder of the gentleness of his nature; he fell from a ladder while trying to pull the neighbor’s cat from a tree—not because the cat couldn’t get down on its own, but because there was nest of baby birds in that tree, and he didn’t want them to become a feline feast in his back yard. He could have gotten out the hose and chased the cat from his tree, but he didn’t want to hurt the cat, either.

He fell onto his back, bullet fragments shifted into cracks in his spine, and he was left unable to walk. He had feeling in his legs—mostly pain—but he couldn’t support his own body weight. His career as a police officer ended in his back yard, the neighbor’s cat sniffing his face.

The Murphy’s house was the first I had ever seen with a wheelchair ramp. Mr. Murphy was the first person I had known who needed a wheelchair, and he was not shy about zipping down the street in it. In the mid 1970s, that just wasn’t something one often saw, but he turned his bad luck into a bright lesson for the rest of us: the disabled are People, and there’s not a thing you need to fear from them.

My family moved away not long after that; we headed for California, and for a time I forgot about the Murphy family.

Years later, when “getting online” meant that one subscribed to a Proprietary service such as America Online or Prodigy or Compuserve, in the days of the 300 baud modem and Crayola-Colored graphics, Ian Murphy and I reconnected. We remembered each other differently: I recalled him as being a wormy little PITA, he recalled me as being the one person who made sure he was included. But I remembered his father clearly, the gentle Irish giant who let his kids paint his wheelchair with fluorescent paint.

Over the last 10 years I’ve realized that Conor Murphy is the man those of us with sons hope for them to become. He’s tough, he’s strong, and he’s very gentle. He loves his children and grandchildren with open affection—I remember the teasing Ian and his brother took for calling him “Da,” and for the goodbye kisses Da insisted on before getting out of his car before school—and he’s never ashamed to show it. He fought through all the pain of his injuries and a few years ago had surgery to remove scar tissue and bullet fragments from his spine—and then spent another few years building enough muscle mass to be able to stand and walk a few feet at his grand daughter’s wedding, so he could give her away. When Ian’s mother died in ’97, followed just a few weeks later by Ian’s own heart attack, Conor Murphy held everyone together through the strength of his nature and outspoken belief that God has a purpose for everything.

A few years ago, when I was in the middle of my own fight with pain and found myself needing a wheelchair to get around, Mr. Murphy emailed me with this message: The wheels are but a tool, and you can use them to hide behind, or you can use them to build strength.

Conor Murphy never hid behind anything. Not even on that day over 30 years ago when he was plastered on the grass in his front yard, just a little bit tipsy a little too early in the afternoon, looking for God’s approval. And from where I stand now, I think it’s safe to say “Himself” approves.



Not just a little dent, but a fairly big one right there on the hood. It looks like someone jumped on the hood to sit--hard. And there's a nice gouge near the front, too.

The dent can probably be popped out, but the gouge is deep enough it'll have to be sanded and puttied and repainted...and I'm guessing that'll cost more than the $250 DAS shippers pays on claims. And there's no way I'm putting claim in on my insurance for it...

I am not happy.
Picture a little boy, about three years old, crawling into the nearest trustworthy grownup’s lap, resting his head against their chest, sadness dripping in fine tears out of the corners of his eyes. It’s not temper; he’s not upset because he didn’t get the toy he wanted, or the cookie, or to get to watch his favorite TV show. He’s just overwhelmingly, deeply sad.

His life has been turned upside down, everything he owns is gone, he’s in a new place where nothing smells right or looks right or even feels right. He doesn’t understand why, and nothing the grownups can say about it makes any sense.

Now, if Max were human, he’d be that little boy. I’ve never seen a cat so profoundly sad. He’s taken to hiding in the corner of a closet, the corner hardest to see from the outside, and he’s curled in a tight little ball as if trying to hide from himself even. When he jumps into my lap it’s not at all comfortable because we’re sitting in a fairly uncomfortable folding chair, but he grabs my arm to pull it around him, resting his head on my forearm. He just wants to be held. And every now and then he looks up at me like “Why?”

He has a good appetite so I’m not worried that this is something he’s not going to snap out of, but right now he’s a little boy lost, and if he could cry real tears I think he would.


Holy crap, I am too freaking old for this moving nonsense. Not so much the Moving part as the Sitting On The Floor When You Have No Furniture Yet part. And especially the Wake Up With Your Ass On The Floor Because The Air Mattress Leaks part. I can't believe I spent a good part of my youth sitting on the floor, voluntarily, even when there was good seating available. My poor aching ass...


There is no such thing as a good hair day here.
I totally had forgotten about the wind...


Wow...I had forgotten about all the traffic out here. And the prices. And lines everywhere. And how non-green it is. And the traffic...

We rolled in around 1:30 or so yesterday, after not killing the cat while going through the Sierra Mountains (all we can figure is that the altitude change really bothers him, because he howled all the way through and quieted down once we'd gotten into Auburn.) And since we were 2 days early, TLF did not have space for us so we wound up bouncing from motel to motel, trying to find one that takes pets. Oddly enough, the Super 8 in Vacaville takes only dogs. We did find a Best Western that looked pretty crappy on the outside, but inside was decent enough.

And the Boy had a line on an apartment, so we drove by last night to take a peek. We got to see everything except the actual apartment, and it was nice enough that we went back this morning. So now we have a place to live...with access to a year-round heated pool, a fully equipped fitness center, and a raquetball court. The only thing we need and don't have is a garage, so we're going to find a storage place for our lawn mower and other assorted crap that doesn't belong in living space.

The cat should be happy...he has to ride in the car again tomorrow, but only for 5 minutes, and then he'll have a big place to explore. And he won't be terrorized until the truck somes with all of his stuff...

It's kind of nice, moving someplace and already knowing where almost everything is. We're doing a little pointing and wondering out loud "was that here before?" but for the most part, it's all familiar. And I must not have lost that CA driver's edge, because I caught myself doing almost 15 mph over the speed limit on the freeway...and I was still slower than everyone else.

Once I have internet access (I'm at the base library, my laptop modem seems to be punked out) I'll post a couple of pictures. Poor Fred didn't get one of himself partying in photos allowed in the casinos, but he did have himself a good time.


Winnemucca, Nevada.

Yep, about 800 miles today. Since the cat decided that 5:45 in the morning was a good time to wake up, we hit the road early and kept going after we hit Elko since we still had a little gas left. Of course, I was driving. And of course, I went through a mass of 67 zillion bugs. And of course, there was no place to stop to clean the windshield. And OF COURSE, we were headed west, and ya know what? The sun sets in the west! Right in my eyes! Glaring through a mass of smeared, dead bug bodies!

I added yesterday’s update tonight, and Blogger let me backdate it. I tried to get online in Cheyenne, but my computer and the Holiday Inn’s data port just would not play together nicely. But the hotel was super nice…so we’re in a Holiday Inn Express tonight. And I think they have free breakfast.

Max only cried for a couple of hours this morning. After that he only piped up when the road was rough, and we think it just plain hurt his little body. And he managed to sucker us out of bites of our lunch (well, the Spouse Thingy’s; he had a fish sandwich) and lots of treats along the way.

I think he’s resigned to all this…luckily tomorrow will be the last day of a long time in the car. We’re less than 400 miles from Travis AFB. We’ll likely get there early, since there’s no way he’ll let us sleep late.

I’ll be glad to get there for his sake alone. I really think he’s decided this is how every day is going to be, forever.

And he doesn’t seem to appreciate Fred all that much, either. Possibly because Fred gets out of the car when he doesn’t…


We’re in Cheyenne, Wyoming tonight; we made a little over 700 miles and could have gone on to Laramie, but we spotted a Holiday Inn and decided to stop for the night. Max wasn’t too bad today; he cried for the first 3 hours, but then settled down and only spoke up every now and then. He slept some, and even though he initially refused it, ate a pretty decent snack along the way.

Iowa wasn’t too bad; I have to give the state props, they have the best rest areas I think I’ve ever seen (except for one place, I can’t remember the name, but we’re coming up on it tomorrow, I think.) The stalls are like 6 inches thick and tiled, there are generally at least 20 of them, and they’re all clean. Yep, that’s my good travel criteria: nice rest areas.

Nebraska was all right, too…but I swear, they need to make a law stating cattle trucks have to have some waste collection system instead of letting it just fall out the back. We were not thrilled to be behind one, thinking at first “damn, there are a lot of bugs out here,” only to realize those weren’t bugs, and it wasn’t some “fine yellow mist.” It was a load of cow pee, flinging itself up all over our car. When we stopped for gas, the flies landed like crazy.


With any luck, tomorrow we’ll make it to Elko, Nevada.


I did not cry.

Neither did the Spouse Thingy, and after about 45 minutes on the road, that’s what he said, cutting through the silence. “At least I got through it without crying.” I had to admit, I had to clench my teeth as we said goodbye to our friends, collecting hugs and well wishes, and even more as we drove off, waving.

This morning was our final inspection to clear housing, and everyone was there, waiting in the yard while the Spouse Thingy and I were inside with the inspector. And laughing their asses off when the inspector opened the back door to see if the yard was up to specs—only to see Next Door Guy’s size 100 undies hanging from our privacy fence.

I stepped outside while Spouse Thingy went upstairs with him to check the bedrooms, fairly sure we’d pass, but never 100% certain (and relieved to hear later the guy said he was impressed…and he had never seen so many people collected in one place for a final out.) When I knew the Spouse Thingy was in the kitchen, signing papers, I felt the stirrings of dread…I didn’t want to say goodbye. I wanted to stuff everyone in my suitcase and take them with me. I could feel the dread coming off my fingertips in drips of electricity, and started biting down hard, swallowing past the lump forming in my throat.

For a place I didn’t really want to come to, someplace that was never home, leaving was perhaps more difficult than any other place we’ve been.

I’m definitely taking away more than I’m leaving there; last night we were given a framed picture of all the neighborhood kids—who, in spite of the fact that I am not old enough yet!a—make me realize how much I will cherish having grandkids someday. And I can’t imagine ever again having a neighborhood like that, with so many awesomely incredible people…even the Evil Ones. And I think they know just how Evil I truly think they are.

Ok. Before I actually do cry…

We hit the road, after a quick trip to the bank, around 10:30, figuring we’d try to get in 400 miles today. Along the way we discovered we had a stowaway… His name is Fred, and he’s turning out to be quite the party animal. I would be nice if he would take a turn or two driving, but lacking arms—well, feet too—we can’t expect too much.

We did about 500 miles today and stopped in Iowa City, mostly for the sake of the cat… he howled for the first 3-4 hours, then just meowed quietly every 15 seconds for another hour or so, before giving up. He napped off and on then, but hadn’t had anything to drink nor used the littler box since morning (normal for him in the car) so we stopped at the first motel we saw, and are pretty glad we did. It’s very nice, better than the room we had last night—twice as much space, and high speed internet access, for about $10 more than we spent last night.

Depending on what time we get up in the morning, we’re going to shoot for 700 miles. And hopefully the cat will quiet down early, before we feel the stirrings of “don’t strangle the kitty, don’t strangle the kitty, don’t strangle the kitty…”


Poor Max just is not taking this move very well. We had to lock him in the bathroom yesterday while the truck was here to load our stuff, and when we let him out, everything was gone. He spent a good deal of time howling, and when he wasn’t howling he was very clingy (so much so that I abandoned my idea to start cleaning and plopped down to watch TV so he could see me there, not going anywhere.)

Today the cleaning commenced, which upset him even further. He howled some, scowled a lot, and finally disappeared, prompting a frantic “Where the hell is the cat?” search. He discovered safety under the blankets on my air mattress. Once we knew where he was, we left him alone, and he spent the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon there. He only came out to eat.

The cleaning is mostly done, just the living room and a bathroom to get done, I think. Getting that last room done is going to be a challenge, since everything we have with us is in a pile on the living room floor, and we have to do something with it—but not stick it in another room—while we finishing cleaning.

But hey…at least once in 2 years, my house is clean!!!


Amazing...two women did what normally takes at least two days--they packed up all our crap--and packed it well--and even got an inventory of all the boxes. So tomorrow, instead of sitting around doing nothing while they sweat, we can go do just about anything we want(except for the 5-10 minute appointment the Spouse Thingy has for signing out.)

So far this is going very smoothly--plus we get to leave here on Monday instead of Tuesday. Yay.

And poor PsychoKitty...he has no idea what's going on, he only knows he really doesn't like it.
It was short, sweet, to the point, and exactly what the Spouse Thingy wanted…and it means that for all intents and purposes, he’s free.

Yep, yesterday was his retirement ceremony, capping 20 years in USAF. He didn’t want the huge formal ceremony, so this was held in the anesthesia department conference room, with as many people coming out of the ORs as possible to watch, and our friends from the neighborhood there to help celebrate.

Those holding the ceremony waxed poetic about the Spouse Thingy’s double decade service—I mean, really, I expect him to start walking on water after that ;)—he was given a certificate signed by the President, a medal, and a seriously nice engraved desk clock. I got to pin a retirement pin on him (didn’t jam it into his chest, though the thought did actually cross my mind…) and even got my own spiffy certificate. And flowers!

There was cake and munchies, a little mingling, and it was over. He came home and took off the uniform and put it away, and with a little luck he’ll never have to wear it again.

Pictures here! They’re fairly large, so it might take a minute or so to load if you’re on dialup.

Later on we met with friends for dinner at the Olive Garden. I can honestly say we were good little patrons and did not drive the server nuts, and after waiting on 17 people she didn’t look as if she wanted to commit multiple homicide. That was an especially nice, relaxed time…and I got to sit next to a 4 year old who can (seriously) hold a real conversation.

The packers come today—could be here in about 45 minutes—and the end begins. We even get to head home a day earlier than we thought we would, so we’ll be taking off from here on Monday, dragging our poor PsychoKitty across the country. I’m sure he’ll have quite a bit to say about that…


As you can see, the Evilness that lives next door, to my immediate left, needs a little lesson in proper neighborhood etiquette.

I mean, come on. Who hangs their laundered (well we hope they were laundered) underthingies out front for the whole world to see?

Especially while they’re out camping.
You think they’d notice this before they left.

We did note, however, that they’re pretty meticulous about when they wear their undies.
She wears her bright red, black laced trimmed, on Tuesdays, it seems...

(look closely…it says right there on the left hip!)

And these are his, um, JULY skivvies…


We did find, however, that she’s obviously done really well with the Boot Camp class—I mean, look at that weight loss!—and the combination South Beach/Zone/Atkins thing has been very kind to him.

And, um, YEAH…they hung those up THEMSELVES!
You don’t think I’d eve do anything like that to my neighbors, do ya?
Not without some help…

:::wanders off, laughing to self:::


I can’t complain about the promptness of Dependable Auto Shippers, at least not on pickup. They called yesterday and said they’d be here between 10-11 a.m. and around 9:30 the guy calls to say he’s nearby. Three minutes later he pulled up in front of the house, and began to inspect my car before loading it.

He was extremely thorough in finding damage—lots of scratches and dings, nothing major—and getting them diagramed. By 10 a.m. he’d loaded the car onto the back of his platform tow truck, and it was gone.


My little red toy is on its way to California, and has a good chance of getting there before we do.

I’m kinda glad I had to drive and drive to burn up gas yesterday. It was a beautiful day out, and a good chance for one last topless drive in Ohio. There are probably only 2-3 weeks left of weather warm enough to do that here…but potentially lost more when we get to CA. Maybe not for the CA natives, but heck, we’re adjusted to OH. We may be riding around topless in December…

If anyone sees my car along the Interstate, wave…