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Archive for February, 2014

We’ve Moved!

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 26, 2014

Well, we moved this past weekend. We’re very excited, but it’s been a lot of hard work and will continue to be as we continue to unpack and get electricians and plumbers and the like in here to do some work. We sure miss Toby and wonder how he would like the new house. Henry seems to be adapting finally, although the first two or three days, he seemed kind of freaked out. He’s followed us both around relentlessly, not letting us from his sight. He’s always been kind of independent, so we think it’s a sign that this has been traumatic for him, in addition to Toby being gone.

We packed most things, but had packers in the day before the move to pack fragile items and pictures. One was sick or something and was coughing and hacking without covering his mouth. It was gross. However, the moving crew was pretty good and the whole thing only took eight hours. Let me tell you, we were exhausted that day though. You’d have thought we’d moved our own stuff! We were also exhausted all weekend as we unpacked tons of stuff. I’m going to post pics of what our house looks like now, partially unpacked. Hopefully, when everything’s done, I’ll post finished pics.

We’ve already met some neighbors, which is more than we can say about our last house and neighborhood. We’re very pleased with this neighborhood. We live on a cul-de-sac. It’s not a through street and it’s very quiet. Of course, we have virtually no one behind us, so it’s private too. And SAFE!!! Gretchen feels like she can go out walking out night without her pepper spray or packing. (We had our home alarm/security company come and install a system here anyway.) People are friendly, it’s quiet, it’s safe — it’s everything we wanted in a neighborhood. Let’s hope it stays this way.

We got a good deal on this house. We knew it at the time, but since we bought it, two houses nearby have gone on the market for 65K and 80K more than what this one was listed for! Wow. We got a good deal. We’ve had to have a little work done, but nothing overly major, although our handyman is essentially recommending a new deck, which I’m not thrilled about or convinced is necessary. I’m hoping a friend who knows decks can come over and either confirm what this guy is telling me, or tell me otherwise.

I guess that’s it for now. Time for some pics. The first one is of our flag we put out when we moved in. It was a windy day. The others are of rooms in various states of unpacking.

Our flag flying in front of our new home!

Our flag flying in front of our new home!

Entrance. Messy!

Entrance. Messy!

Living room

Living room

Dining room

Dining room



Another view of the kitchen

Another view of the kitchen

The hallway

The hallway

Guest bedroom

Guest bedroom

Lots of boxes of books to unpack in the library

Lots of boxes of books to unpack in the library

Four bookshelves in the library. Hoping to add two more.

Four bookshelves in the library. Hoping to add two more.

My shoes!

My shoes!

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

Master bedroom -- other view

Master bedroom — other view



Den -- other side

Den — other side

The office

The office

Our new gas grill

Our new gas grill

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Toby is Gone

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 19, 2014

Yesterday, we had to have out beloved cat, Toby, put to sleep. We’re devastated. He was only six! It was kidney failure. He had been showing symptoms for a few months and we’d taken him to the vet before and changed his diet as a result, but a couple of weeks ago, he became really lethargic, and basically stopped eating and drinking. He enjoyed taking showers with us and drinking water out of sink faucets and he didn’t do that anymore either. He just slept and acted listless. Gretchen wanted us to take him to the vet last week, but because of the snow, we didn’t. This weekend, he appeared to be pretty bad and vomited five times in two spurts, so Gretchen took him to the emergency animal hospital (which costs a fortune!). They put him on an IV and said the blood work showed his numbers to be very bad. When I went to pick him up Monday morning, they explained that his numbers had come down a little, but not very much and recommended taking him to our vet for continued care. Well, I didn’t want to do that. He was acting better, so I took him home. And he ate and drank and let me pet him. He even rolled over on his side so I could pet his tummy, which he never does, and he got on my lap. However, as the day progressed, he started slipping back into his former state, so yesterday morning I took him to our vet. They put him on fluids and gave him blood tests to measure the results. I got a call from the vet around 1:15 PM. The news wasn’t good. His BUN had increased from 125 to 159. Normal is 30. His Creatin (sp?) has increased from 9.3 to 11.9. Normal is 1. She said the numbers indicated total kidney failure and recommended terminating his life. So I called Gretchen and we talked about it. We didn’t want to because he didn’t appear to be in any pain and he could still live, although not much of an existence obviously. So we decided to go with the vet’s recommendation. I called her back, gave her permission, and she did it immediately. We’re having him cremated and will get his ashes in an urn on Friday. And we’re just sick to our stomachs. Looking back over the past year and a half or two, we can see the signs now — the insatiable thirst was key. We just thought that’s the way he was. We didn’t know. I feel like a murderer. Gretchen said that when I took Toby away yesterday morning, she had a bad feeling she wouldn’t see him again and I worried about the same thing while I talked to him on the drive to the vet’s and again while waiting for the vet to come in the examination room. He looked beautiful. Angelic. Peaceful. I hope it went quickly and painlessly and I hope he’s in Heaven now, drinking out of golden faucets. We talked last night about his routines and how we’re really going to miss them. He was my morning buddy. I usually get up hours before Gretchen and he and I would hang out. I folded my clothes this afternoon and got sniffy because he loved to jump in a pile of warm clothes and pass out. Never again. Henry seems confused, and that’s understandable. He waited for Toby to eat last night before he ate. Toby always ate first. We’re really going to miss you, Toby. We love you Toby. RIP.

Toby and me on the sofa.

Toby and me on the sofa.

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Posted by Scott Holstad on February 12, 2014

We don’t often get snow here in Chattanooga, but when we do, it shuts the whole city down for days. I think I read that we have eight snow trucks for the whole city. It’s ridiculous! There are all sorts of false reports by the meteorologists, but then we got hit pretty hard two weeks ago. All we got was an inch of snow, but it’s the ice underneath the snow that’s so dangerous. I couldn’t get up my driveway to park my car. I had to park on the street and pray no one would slide into me.

They’ve been calling for snow this week and today we finally got it. It fell hard, but it wasn’t cold enough to stick to the roads, so while it’s nice and white and pretty, we’re not snowed in this time, which is good.

I’ve been frustrated with the weather because I’m trying to get crews in to the new house to do all of this work before we move next Friday (weather permitting), but it’s too cold to caulk, to paint, to work with mortar, to do stuff on the roof (the shingles will break), to do just about anything. And the house is on top of a mountain, so even getting up there is a real problem. I’ve had to reschedule my garage door opener installer three times. Now they’re scheduled to come on Friday and I hope it will work out. Time is running out.

My wife’s working from home today and was just bitching about the weather — about how she could have gone into the office and how the storm was just a fraud. LOL! I like working from home. Of course, I/we have been doing a lot of packing and we’ve made a lot of progress. I think we’ll be done with most everything by the weekend, except for the hanging clothes and some other assorted items. The packers are bringing wardrobe boxes on moving day, so we’ll have to pack those then. I’m going to pack up my computers the night before and I guess we’ll take the cats to my mothers’ the morning of and pick them up when it’s done. I guess. They’ll be traumatized, of course. Toby is already acting depressed, possibly because of all the packing and strange people who keep coming here. We don’t really know. I’m going to leave you with one picture from this morning. Enjoy.

Snow in Chattanooga

Snow in Chattanooga

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A Review of The Divine Invasion

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 10, 2014

The Divine InvasionThe Divine Invasion by Philip K. Dick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Divine Invasion was my favorite of the VALIS trilogy, a trilogy I really haven’t enjoyed as much as I do Dick’s earlier works. This book is DENSE, folks! It’s overtly religious in its themes, and it helps if one is familiar with Christianity, Judaism, and several other religions. Not necessary, but helpful.

In this book, Yaweh is returning to Earth to battle Belial, a Satan-type figure. He’s doing this through another virgin birth, I guess the second coming, in the form of Rybys Rommey, an MS-afflicted colonist of a distant planet. With her is Herbert Asher, who marries her out of pity, essentially, and to help facilitate this action. Earth is ruled by various religious and political organizations that seem inherently evil and find out through the AI that oversees Earth that Yaweh is coming. They therefore arrange an accident in an aircar, killing Rybys — but not her fetus — and putting Herb into cyronic suspension for 10 years. The prophet Elijah, in the form of Elias, accompanies them and helps to raise the child, Manny (Emmanuel), before putting him in a special school — because he’s brain damaged from the crash — where he is befriended by a young girl named Zina.

Then the madness starts. Herb is awakened while in suspension because he hears Muzak playing, initially Fiddler on the Roof, over and over again. On his former planet, he had enjoyed listening to a young singer named Linda Fox, who plays an increasingly important role in the novel. As Herb starts to interact with others (in his mind, which shouldn’t be cognizant), Manny and Zina start constructing their own worlds, and things just advance in a very confusing way. Now, I’m not completely stupid, but sometimes when I read Dick, I feel like I am and this is one of those books that left me feeling like that. It was hard to keep up with what was real and what wasn’t. It was also hard to keep up with all of the theological dialogue, and that aspect of it was less interesting to me too, although I know that’s where Dick was in his life at the time. Damn, this book is near-impenetrable at times! Herb befriends an unknown Fox in one world, and is hired to install audio equipment in her place. He thinks he’s going to get some, because this is what he wants more than anything else in the world, but she’s on her period and his chance is ruined. Meanwhile, Rybys sits at home, sick and miserable and making everyone else miserable too. Funny how his five marriages helped him construct one dimensional female characters. Manny and Zina disappear into her “realm,” where they discover Belial, who also happens upon Herb because he’s intent upon getting at Fox. Weird, I know. Makes no sense. I tell you, this book is crazy! Still, I enjoyed it to a certain degree, much more so than the other two VALIS books. This one seems a bit more “sci fi” rather than the straight out theological rant that makes up VALIS. And the scene when Herb is stopped by the cop is pretty funny, so there’s a little humor in the book to spice it up. If I were just getting into reading PKD, I certainly wouldn’t start with this one. But I do think it’s essential reading for any serious PKD fan and with that, I cautiously recommend it.

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Posted by Scott Holstad on February 10, 2014

Boy, I’ve been busy since I last wrote! Lessee….

We had the house closing. That went pretty well. The sellers were nice. It didn’t take too long. I immediately went to the house and had the locks changed, though, which is something I always do. I’ve made arrangements to have a handyman start working on some projects the inspector pointed out in his report, the alarm security company we have to come out and find out what they’ll need to do to install it in the new house, a garage door opener installer, who needs to install two new garage door openers, a roofer, an electrician, a tree man to cut down a tree that’s too close to the house. I’ve had to call the utilities, the insurance company, and I just made arrangements to have our Internet/cable installed the Monday after we move in. The cleaning agency is coming to our house next Monday to do a survey to see what it will take to clean it for showing when we put it on the market, and I’ve got a painter to paint the interior walls. Our current place is hardwood floors. The new place is carpeted. I prefer hardwood floors and we talked about getting some, but we just didn’t think we could afford it, so we’re not. We did order a new china hutch, since we have two sets of china and no place to put it, and two matching recliners for the den. They’ll all be delivered on Sunday. We also got a nice rug for the dining room. We don’t want to spill stuff there and ruin the carpet.

The handyman met me at the house today and started working in the garage on some projects, but it started snowing and sleeting and since the house is high up on a mountain, we left early, worried about getting snowed/iced in. We may try again tomorrow, but as it’s supposed to snow overnight, I doubt we’ll do it. I do want to get all of the projects out of the way before we move next Friday though. The handyman was able to get a couple of necessary things done in the garage before we left though, so that’s good.

Meanwhile, last weekend I went on a vestry retreat. It was at a convent in the Tennessee mountains and it was pretty good. This weekend, we went to Knoxville to attend the diocesian convention, which was also pretty good. Last night, however, we had a long vestry meeting and now I’m feeling churched out.

My Penguins are having a great year and I’m very excited. I’m thinking Stanley Cup. This has to be the year! Even with all of the injuries. Go Pens!

We’re packing now and it’s coming along. The movers are going to pack the kitchen and the pictures/paintings, so that will be helpful. However, while it’s easy to pack books, DVDs, and clothes, it’s the miscellaneous stuff that’s tough. Not sure how to handle that.

I’ve been reading a lot of books and writing book reviews, as you know. Most have been science fiction recently, but I’m reading a bio of Frank Sinatra — which is huge — and I hope to finish that in a bit and write a book review on that. I have other books lined up. We have a nice, big used bookstore here and we love to go there and find bargains.

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged much outside of writing reviews. I’ve been pretty busy. Plus I haven’t been overly motivated. Sorry. I have 266 followers here now, but only one of you leaves comments, so that confuses me. Still, I’m glad for the followers.

We’re going to miss our current house, but you may remember that it’s haunted, so we’re really not going to miss the ghosts. We hope the new house won’t be haunted, though we know at least two people died there. Hopefully their spirits will have departed. The new house looks great and we’re eager to move in already and be done with it, start the unpacking process, begin our new life.  It’s all very exciting. Cheers!

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Hardwood Flooring

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 2, 2014

Can anyone recommend a good hardwood for home flooring? In the past, I’ve had very expensive bamboo, which I wasn’t really satisfied with, and I don’t know what our current wood floor is. We’re thinking about getting part of the new house redone with hardwood floors, and I don’t know the difference between hickory or maple or oak or anything…. Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks.

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