Archive for June, 2008

The reason I didn’t want to take both dogs AND the Snapper at the same time was because of some vague, imagined something that might “happen” that I wouldn’t be able to handle with all three.  But then I realized that that something would be just as unmanageable with just one dog and the Snapper.  As I am prepared to let a dog fight go on without my intervention while I dial 911 and keep my child at a safe distance, as painful as it would be to watch one or both of my dogs attacked, I decided that walking both at once is worth this remotest of possibilities to save me some time and hassle.  So this morning I tried it and they were champs!  We steered clear of other dogs because they are a bit excitable, but even so they mainly did a little interested jumping and were brought quickly into line by the leash coupler which knocks them together when I pull on the leash.  They even did OK with the occasional squirrel or rabbit.  They both did all their business and so I let them wander around the apartment while I got the Snapper ready for breakfast.  He didn’t mind waiting because he was having so much fun watching them have their drink and investigate their new surroundings.

The other reason I’m tired is that yesterday I did SIX GARBAGE BAGS, 30 GALLON, of what we are calling “flood laundry,” which is all the stuff that was in the upstairs of our old house and didn’t get wet but got very stinky.  I did it at the laundromat in two and a half hours, which I think is some kind of a record, and when I got home I was beat.


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Growing Pains

Or are they adjustment pains?

At any rate, the dogs are home from their spa vacation in America’s dairyland (where they were cared for by my brother and his wife for the past week and a half) and the crazy new schedule begins.  I wasn’t going to let on that Attic Man is interning out of town but then I felt the need to explain why the Snapper and I had a place to stay after the flood.  Now that things are back to normal–the new normal–I am back to caring for the babe and the dogs on my own during the week.

Now, entertaining a crazy-active toddler and corralling two dogs is enough of a challenge when one has a fenced-in backyard at the end of a fairly quiet street (we are not counting the constant roar of Quaker Oats). But put us in what would be the perfect apartment were in not for lack of fencing, and you have the makings of an insane schedule.  Tonight was my first go and I was a sweating mess.  Note to self: the sling is not a good choice for these activities.  Fully un-escapable backpack works better.  Don’t even think about the stroller.

a.m.  Wake, nurse the Snap.  Change same’s diaper, keeping PJ’s on.  Put own shoes on and if deemed necessary, pants.  Give Dog A breakfast in crate.  While Dog A eats, put the Snapper in the backpack.  Suit up Dog A and take for short walk around yard.  Give Dog A a drink and return to crate.  With Snapper still in backpack, grab tiny, round-the-shoulderable purse, check for keys and cellphone and fill treat pouch with Dog B’s breakfast.  Suit up Dog B and take for longer walk to park and back (total of a mile), using dog food to reinforce either bravery (Lenny) or not pulling (Heidi).  Lenny will probably be Dog B most of the time as he is scardy and the neighborhood is most quiet in the morning.  Return Dog B to crate after watering.  Ideally both dogs would get some out-of-crate time at this point if they had both done their business, but they must be carefully supervised until they are re-housetrained for an apartment without a fenced yard and I have to give the babe his breakfast next.  Do that.  Try to get my own hurried breakfast and empty the dishwasher (I am LOVING the dishwasher!).  Clean Snapper, clean kitchen (I am trying to keep up with things this time around…).  Shower with the Snapper in the bathroom climbing the toilet to get at the sink so he can throw things in it and unroll the toilet paper even though I’ve taken it off the roll and put it up high so he can’t and vow that tomorrow I will just take a shower at night and let my hair be damned because after all it’s only for a few weeks and when Attic Man comes back full time he will be doing a lot of dog and kid stuff.

At this point it’s been 2 1/2 to 3 hours since wake time.  Take Snapper to daycare (T, Th) or to the park.

Lunch, blah, blah, dissertation now that I am unpacked (not much to unpack!) on daycare days, blah, blah.

p.m.  Repeat above after the Snapper and I have had dinner, switching Short Walk Dog to Long Walk Dog and vice versa.  I am becoming less enamored of this plan since we have to walk by the playground on Dog A’s walk, and there is nothing the Snapper loves more than playing with other children.  There are rarely other kids there when we go in the morning but there are always tons in the evening.  I think I may try taking the p.m. big walk after the Snapper’s nap (on days he’s here; on T, Th I can take them both for a big walk on the leash coupler which they both love).  Then I can take them both out for a yard walk after the Snapper goes to bed.  That may work.

But ugh, so exhausting.  I can’t wait for us to be a full-time family again.

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Abandoner’s Guilt

Flood Footprints

I’m surprised to be dealing so well with what’s happened to us over the past two weeks, but there’ s one thing I can’t seem to shake.  The first time we returned to CR as a family to see our house the city was a wreck.  After trying in vain to get a glimpse of it only to be turned back by the National Guard, we stopped by a local mall to let the Snapper run around for awhile.  I of course needed to go to the bathroom.  Due to water restrictions at that time all the restrooms in the mall were closed.  It was rumored that JCPenny’s bathrooms were open, but I saw that one could only enter from the outside.  So I walked all the way around the mall building and went up the escalator to find that the bathrooms were closed there, too, but that I should see an attendant.  I waited in line for a turn to use the bathroom and was instructed to use hand sanitizer and flush only if necessary.  Later we went to Target to buy baby wipes and the whole section had been picked clean.  The stench of the city was awful.  There was flood-soaked garbage everywhere.

Now I understand that in many parts of the world this is par for the course, and even to have some running water is a luxury.  I’m certainly not complaining.  But to see a city once clean (yes, despite being a rust belt city nicknamed “Crapids”), lively, and warm, all of this was extremely disconcerting.  There was a frantic feel to it, and all I wanted to do was go…home, which I couldn’t do because at that point an inflatable bed in Davenport was “home.”

We’ve gone back since then, as you know from the pictures, and every time it’s the same, even though water usage is no longer as severely restricted and people are beginning to get on their feet (just barely, but it’s no longer as much of a siege situation).  I just don’t want to be there.  I don’t want to be in the city, and I never, ever want to step into that house again.  Tomorrow I have to go there to let volunteers into the house so they can remove our damaged property, for which I am extremely grateful.  They’re Catholics from out of state who are helping people in our parish.  I would have felt badly about not staying to help them but the volunteer on the phone said before I could mention it that nobody minded if I didn’t want to stay.

All this is fine–we have a new place I actually like better in a situation that is in most ways better than our previous one–except that I have taken myself out of the Cedar Rapids loop, and somehow that feels wrong.  It would feel right to stay there and be in there with everyone, suffering alongside members of a community.  But it would also mean not getting on with our own recovery efforts.  We live in IC now and are becoming members of this community.  Our roots were not very deep in CR.  And it’s not like we’d ever be able to live in that particular neighborhood.

Still, I feel guilty that we got out and made out so well on a place to live.

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Attic Man saved the following plus more that I’m not thinking of:

Portable dishwasher with two plates, two pasta dishes, a few pieces of silverware, two of the Snapper’s plates, and a condiment cup; vacuum cleaner; microwave; toaster oven; Benjamin’s The Arcades Project; Said’s The World, the Text, and the Critic; Joyce’s Ulysses; collected poems of Seamus Heaney; all of his law books; computer; printer; bed (mattress is full of flood stench so we left it; generous friends gave us theirs); lots of clothes; our wedding toasters; our wedding quilt; cedar chest with other such items; two dining room chairs; two lamps; all pots and pans; crock pot; bills (ugh).

What I like about our new living situation:

Our upstairs neighbors are really nice–I am currently using their password-protected internet and they helped us unload the truck without being asked.

Our neighborhood is full of families with children.

Our neighborhood is ‘diverse,’ which is white-liberal for ‘black people live here.’ And we didn’t even try this time!

There is a huge (OK, not by Pittsburgh standards, oh you Squirrel-Hillers, you) beautiful park with playground, community gardens, and a soft track running the circumference (for if I EVER get to run again).

It is a bus or bike ride to the law school, a five-minute drive from the Snapper’s daycare, one mile to the grocers, one mile to the laundromat (which we’ll need until we can get machines).

Everything in the apartment is in working order, clean, and up-to-date. We have never had all three at the same time. We have never lived in a place with an updated bathroom before and I still feel like I’m in a hotel.


The landlords are nice and thorough but hands-off.

All the windows are covered by acceptable blinds and neutral curtains that we can live with until we can put up the curtains we want.

People at the playground this evening we so friendly and easygoing. In the past I have found ICers to be standoffish but I may have just been in the wrong part of town.

I don’t think I’ll be lonely here.

And at any rate, it’s better than this:

Flood sink

Hint: I did not leave a dog bowl and light bulb in the sink when I left.

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I kept waiting for it to happen today: to see some item sopping wet and caked with mud and to finally burst into tears.  But you know what?  All this talk about things just being things and the focus being on life is not just on the surface.  I believe those things, and I live them.  It is amazing to know that they’re there viscerally and that a crisis confirms that I have accomplished personally what I have been working on for years.  I am not devastated.  We have a place to live and we are safe.  Our friends and family are helping us (and my God are they ever helping us!).  There is so much peace.

So it may sound funny when I thank all of you who visited the registry for the STUFF you sent!  It IS nice to know that I we will be able to eat from real dishes instead of paper plates and that we can dry ourselves with real towels.  If you visited the registry and found everything bought up (incredible–I am stunned at everyone’s generosity…) I added some more items tonight.  We have been through the upstairs and I know now what we are working with.  Attic Man saved A LOT, like all of our pots and pans and most of our small appliances, including our vacuum cleaner, microwave, toaster oven, and crock pot.  If I missed you and you still want the information, please give me your email address and I’d be happy to send it.

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We signed the lease for Apt. #1 today.  We were handed the keys and can move in immediately.  Such a relief.

Miracle of miracles: the second floor, though the water came up to the roof, was untouched on the inside.  We will be able to salvage our bed, computer, baby clothes, appliances, etc.  The stuff on the first floor is completely destroyed.

Tomorrow is salvage.  I’m headed to bed in what I hope will be our last night in a studio.

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Well, maybe a few rooms so that we don’t have to eat and sleep in the same space. And maybe a bed that’s not inflatable.

I looked at apartments in IC today and we have two possibilities. Apt #1 is a basement duplex, 2 bdrms, small yard but no fence, a block and a half from an enormous park with playground and community gardens. The upstairs neighbors are super-nice grad students with two corgis. They have nice things to say about the landlord. It’s about the same square footage as our old place. Apt #2 is right around the corner and is owned by the same landlord. It is 600 sq. ft. larger and is a half block from the same park. It is in a side-by-side duplex shared with the neighborhood grandmother who has gorgeous flowers. It has a side entrance which would be nice for taking our dogs out, as it also does not have a fenced yard. Apt. #1 is available right now (the latest would be July 1). Apt. #2 is available Aug. 1 but there is a very slim chance that the current tenant will be able to get out sooner if she can get into her new place early. We have to know by tomorrow whether or not she can get out by July 15, which is the longest we’d be willing to wait. This is not likely but I am keeping my hopes up until we know for sure.

It’s hard giving up that fenced-in yard. This neighborhood is also more congested than our old one and will be harder for the dogs to adjust to, especially the one who is kind of skittish. But people are already clamoring for places and in a week’s time we will probably be looking at higher rents and less availability.

On the plus side, both apartments are very close to everything–2.5 miles to the law school, 1 miles to the grocery store, 2.7 miles to Sam’s daycare. It’s on the busline. If we rent either of these places we will pay $100-$150 more in rent, but that’s what we’re paying just for gas to commute now (or what we were paying before our stuff floated away).

We saw new pictures of businesses in our old neighborhood today and we are getting more and more persuaded that it’s going to be a total loss. This A & W is seven blocks higher than our house. The picture was taken before the crest:

(Picture taken by eagletouch on flickr.com)

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