Friday, August 8, 2008

Packing, Dry Runs, the Family Gathers, I Escape a Maiming

I shut down my office today. The phone's off, the office computer and printers and all that have been boxed, ready to pack into the Vanagon. The computer that I'm writing this on is in our living room and will be packed Sunday morning, the morning of my departure. Both computers have external hard drives for backups, and those are coming with me. And both of those hard drives have their own backup drives--those will be coming later, in the giant 26-foot Penske. At least if I roll the Vanagon there's a good chance that my accounting and work files will not be lost.

I loaded the little utility trailer that I'll be pulling behind the Vanagon. Loaded, it weighs a tad under 500 lbs. I put a jackstand under the trailer tongue, and a bathroom scales under that, and arranged the load so that the tongue has 55 lbs of weight on it -- that's within the 10% to 15% recommended amount necessary to prevent trailer sway. Aired the tires to 15 psi in accordance with the manufacturer's load inflation chart (BTW, these are honking big tires for a little utility trailer: ST175/80R13-- not your weenie little donut tires usually found on utility trailers) and took a little test drive.

Sweeeeet. That little trailer sat right behind the Vanagon with nary a sway nor a bounce over big bumps, deep dips, and at full freeway speed. So I reckon I'm pretty close to being ready to leave ahead of Mrs Elliott and the Gang who will be following five days later in that afore-mentioned giant 26-foot Penske truck.

There is to be a big gathering of Mrs Elliott's side of the family on Sunday. It started out innocently enough: a few of the family members were going to get together for a picnic at a local park to celebrate a couple grandkids' birthdays, and to say good-bye to us. However, the plans quickly ballooned into a fair extravagance: a full-blown reunion with several birthdays, viewings of the newly-born...heck, I forget what-all. There will be a professional photographer; my daughter, B., has agreed to do face-paintings for the kids, cake and ice cream; I think sky-writing, and a tumbling team, too. I might be mistaken about some of this. For a fellow like me, who came from a quiet little nuclear family with three sons, a simple folk who rarely saw a relative, the sheer size--not to mention sound pressure level--of Mrs Elliott's family is overwhelming.

The events actually started last night when Mrs Elliott's younger son and his wife blew into town from Oakland, bringing their 2 year-old daughter and infant son as well as the massive amount of tack, luggage, equipment, and supplies that a family with babies need for even a trip to the corner cafe. One of the newly-emptied rooms here (B. had just moved out and her room was stripped) was pressed into service as emergency quarters for them. Mrs Elliott was busily wrestling with mattresses and box springs, inflating air mattresses, finding sheets. "Wouldn't it be easier just to book them a room at the local motel?" I asked.

Not the smartest question I could have asked a grandmother who for two weeks has been so excited about seeing her grandchildren that she could hardly contain herself. If looks could kill, I would have been taken out of the house in a basket.

After everyone went to bed, the missus made it clear to me that it was only because of the slight possibility that somewhere inside my wretched soul there breathed a scrap of decency that she didn't divorce me on the spot.

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