House Fire!

Brother Steve wrote, from Clinton SC, this Christmas Eve day:

….about four in the morning my neighbor’s house caught on fire….he had left a pot on the stove….the fire department got here real fast, it is only two blocks away, but the fire was shooting up the side of the house and got under the rafters and into the attic…..they got themselves and their dogs out OK, but between fire and smoke and water I think the house is a total loss.

house fire 

Spoke via phone with Brother Steve later in the day who added details.  The neighbor left the heat on under a pot of oil used to make French fries.  Neighbor first tried to put out fire him self.  A mistake.  Phone dead for some reason. Had to go next door to make call to fire department.  Went to truck for fire extinguisher but it wouldn’t work.  The fire extinguisher, not the truck.  Flames leapt, from kitchen window, up the side of the house to roof; the roof beam burned through and it appears the house is beyond repair.

Some concerns were expressed as to whether the sale of the lot would pay for the demolition of the burned out house.

Brother Steve believes local ordinances will require that the house be demolished and the lot cleared.

Brother Steve believes his property values may rise since the Presbyterian College (Go Bluestockings!) plans to put in a school of pharmacy not two blocks away increasing the need for residential housing.  But this is still in the works and a long way off.


We are back in the condo.  This is the first day in two weeks that we have not been in some way involved with and troubled by plumbing problems.  Last week we had to move out.  Friday we moved back in to holes all over the place.  Brother Dan came by on my birthday; he kept saying, “Oh my God.  The holes!  The holes.”

Funny after a day or so I didn’t notice them anymore.

Then on Monday and most of Tuesday we have a guy in and out of the condo all day plugging the holes with sheetrock.  He was an ok guy and did good work.  Still it was a pain and while he was doing the work, it was raining.  So we let him work out of our half of a garage which meant we couldn’t get in and out of there much either.  Though all I needed really was some toilet paper.

So now the holes are plugged, but the finishers are two weeks behind at least.  They won’t be by to make things look normal for quite a bit, and then after that we will have to get somebody to paint over the finished areas.  Be damned if I am going to get it.

We will probably get Bobby to do it.  He is the son of the carpenter who built my little office.  He is back from Iraq after three tours over there and is going back to college.  But he’s on break and drove down yesterday from Lompoc to pull this god awful textured wall paper that has lined the walls of our downstairs half bath and the area housing our washer and dryer.  This was awful stuff—turd brown, to put it graphically.  And, as I said, textured.  So he pulled the stuff down and cleaned up with a pretty expensive solvent—took him the day—and I swear even with holes and ugly old yellowish paint now visible, it still looks better than the other stuff.

And, oh, today, we have people coming to re-appraise the condo because we are going to re-fi (as people say) our mortgage.  We talked this over with a number of people and even with the upfront costs, we will make our money back and more what with 5.185 interest (or something like that) on a fixed rate 30 year loan.

I forgot to send in the paper work for a new driver’s license, so I drove around a couple days with an expired license.  It came yesterday.  I have been renewed until 12/14/2013.  Being who I am, I immediately thought.  That’s pretty optimistic.  2013?  Does the DMV know something I don’t.


Had I been asked forty years ago
I would have said I don’t know
If then I would live to see
The day that I would turn 63
Well here it is, it has arrived
And what you know I’m still alive
And if I live it out one more
Why then I will be 64
And that would be this time next year
If that is I am still here
For that I will have to wait and see
In the meantime:


Happy Birthday to me.

Topical Cream

Those anti-depressants have all sorts of side effects from nausea to hair loss.  I went on one a few years back, and after a week or two of being on it, started to develop a rash on my arms and part of my chest.  Sure enough one of the side-effects of that med was “possible skin rashes.”  So I went to the dermatologist and he said he didn’t know if it was the anti-depressant or not but I had “the heartbreak of psoriasis.”  And he gave me a topical cream and after a while the stuff went away. 

I went to the dermatologist at the end of the summer for my yearly visit.  I had been struggling with some crud along the side of my nose.  I thought maybe it was dry skin or maybe my new glasses had some stuff in the pads that rest by the sides of the nose that was toxic. I wondered about that because the guy who fitted me for my new glasses had acted pretty suspiciously (though I won’t go into that now).  The dermatologist said, no it was psoriasis and renewed my topical cream.

I applied it for a while and the rash went away.  I don’t know if the cream helped or not.  Psoriasis is a genetic complaint and appears related to stress.  I don’t remember any stress going away.  But maybe it did.  Then the rash came back.  Maybe stress from the world economic situation or something or maybe because I am trying to withdraw from an anti-depressant…I don’t know.

So now we are in this motel because we were kicked out of our condo for plumbing repair.  And yesterday I clean my teeth but it tastes real funny, and I look down and see a tube of the topical cream for my skin rash in my left hand.  I conclude on the basis of that and the funny taste that I just brushed my teeth with a topical cream designed to salve the “heartbreak of psoriasis.”

So now I am pretty sure I have poisoned myself possibly to death.  But I rinse like crazy and spit repeatedly and then clean my teeth over and over with toothpaste and not topical cream and the label of the topical cream does not say poisonous or avoid swallowing or anything.  I wait around to see if I will have stomach spasms.  But nothing happens though one side of my tongue feels a little numb, maybe from the topical cream or maybe from my having brushed it too vigorously.

That’s how things are lately.  I brush my teeth with topical cream and I can’t remember where anything is.  As I was waiting to see if I got stomach spasms, I got a call from my dentist, saying where was I?  Since I was supposed to be at the dentist at 11 but now it was 11:30.  It was for a teeth cleaning.  I said I was sorry and maybe I had missed their message because I was not at home but in a motel.  They said it was OK.  So now I go in tomorrow at 10 if I can remember to do it.  About an hour after I scheduled the new appointment I had to call back because I couldn’t remember if the new appointment was for 11 on the 10th or at 10 on the 11th.  I think you can understand my confusion.

Very Unsettled

Carol and I have had to evacuate the condo.  We knew this was coming.  As reported here we have had three plumbing problems—two major—over the last three years and we were not the only ones.  In fact, the company who insures the condo complex said they would no longer do so unless the plumbing was fixed.  So now it is being fixed.  And we have to vacate—four days and 5 nights while the work is done.

They will come in, knock holes in our walls, replace the pipe, and direct the flow over all down from the attic rather than up through the slab.  What a mess.  Then after the new pipe is put in—some plastic stuff from Germany, very high tech—we will be allowed back in (the water will be on again); and then for two weeks or so more we will have to put up with people coming and going as they patch up the walls.

Then we will have to get it painted, or do it ourselves.


I am grading final papers.  One of my far from favorite things, and then this evacuation.  We had to empty a bunch of books shelves and closets and cabinets so the plumbers could get to the walls to do their work.  The place is now a complete mess, with books and other assorted crap stacked all over the place.  True, it was a mess before but at least the mess was familiar.  So we will move back in to an unfamiliar mess that we will have to clean up.

We took the kitty-kat with us.  No way we were going to lock her in a bedroom and let her get scared to death with all the banging and other racket.  She’s an old cat now, at least 14, and like all older beings does not adjust well to changes in her surroundings.  So she is now in a motel with us and not adjusting well to that.  Six of one, half a dozen of another.  But she seems to take some comfort in our being about.  Though when I went out for a cup of coffee and came back, to grade more papers, I couldn’t find her anywhere for a half an hour.

I will be glad to get back to our little condo.  Though, as it turns out, our excellent neighbors have put their condo on the market.  They want to buy a house, and I will have to go through paranoid anxiety worrying about whether crazy people will move in next door.

Things feel unsettled.  Very.