The truth must be told: we limped into our new home in Vermont. We were ready to be out of the car.
We realized that we were going to arrive at our new house ahead of our belongings, including our beds and any sort of chair, so we stopped at a Kmart along the way to stock up on temporary furnishings: three air mattresses, three fleece sleeping bags, and three camp chairs. The dog was on her own.
And, as much as I’d been looking forward to it, we cancelled a side trip to visit a friend of mine from high school, an English teacher of whom I have always been exceptionally fond. (She’s just across the lake during the summer; I plan to see her then. Of course, the “lake” is Lake Champlain, a rather formidable water hazard between the two of us.)
We arrived at our new home at twilight. The owner had left the door unlocked for us, keys on the kitchen counter. It was a friendly greeting to our new, small-town home.
The immediate problem was that it was chilly enough inside the house (it had been vacant for several weeks) that it had triggered the hard-wired smoke alarms to start emitting that annoying beep they do whenever they think their batteries are shot. We tried everything we could think of to turn them off, but to no avail.
It’s kind of odd that the house getting chilly would trigger a smoke alarm, but hard-wired detectors are not simple. They are wired directly into the electrical system of the house. They react to extremes in temperature. Simply opening them and replacing the battery does no good.
We cranked the heat and waited. Most of the alarms relaxed and went silent. Just the ones in the unheated upstairs, where our son would sleep, and the one in our bedroom continued to squawk. We had no new batteries, although replacing them would be fruitless. We knew we had to turn off the power completely and try to “reboot” the system.
No good. Still squawking. We spread out our sleeping bags and managed to get some sleep despite the noise. At least we got to meet the owner of the house right away, as he had to come over and fuss with things to get them to turn off. Nice guy. And silence!
We slept on the air mattresses and huddled in the camp chairs for three weeks before our stuff arrived. The biggest hazard during that time wasn’t losing our minds from boredom during the evening (we both had books, and our son played with the dog); it was that dog herself. She decided that we had those nice, puncture-able air mattresses just for her and her charming claws. I spent a lot of time arranging and rearranging my meagre possessions over my sleeping bag and air mattress to prevent a wayward clipping by those paws.
Finally, our belongings arrived, as did my partner’s sister and her husband. Richard and our son worked like dogs driving back and forth to Burlington (22 miles each way) lugging our U-Haul trailers to and fro. Then we all five worked like the aforementioned pups unloading everything and trying to make sense out of it. (We’re still making sense: I can’t find my sneakers anywhere.) The real pup did nothing but yawn at us.
Sister Peggy and husband Richard outdid themselves. When we weren’t unloading a trailer, Richard was busy mending our wobbly chairs, and Peggy was busy cooking actual food (a wonderful treat after 10 days on the road, plus she’s a great cook). They ended up staying until Thanksgiving, on which day we gave thanks to them. They helped us arrive home.
P.S. If you have any interest (please do!) in supporting my attempt at curling, a benefit for the Howard Center, please click here.