The primary intention of this note is to save you my hour-long response when you ask, "So, how've you been?". It all started back in mid-July...
Flying home from our annual birthday party reunion in Blacksburg, the alternator died. A half-day of diagnostics determined that a functioning unit could not be installed in time for our departure to Oshkosh. So we loaded everything in the Tundra and, for the first time in 30 years, drove (ugh!) to Airventure, the world's largest aviation event.
Shortly before we left town I got word that a dear friend and the inventor of my Mosquito helicopter, John Uptigrove, died in an unmarked wirestrike accident near his home in Calgary. Airventure is the only time that we have a chance to get together with him and talk choppers. Needless to say, the Mosquito exhibit tent was pretty somber this year.
A week later we got word that David and Kim Niblett, our dearest friends in Florida, had died in a departure stall accident in their new (to them) airplane. I took the train down for their memorial service. That was especially poignant because for the last five years, every time I went to Florida, I would land at their airstrip, stay with them, drive David's truck, tap into his terabit Internet connection, eat Kim's baking, and discuss Life, the Universe, and Everything into the wee hours. They were extremely bright, well-traveled, and only 44.
But the most lasting blow was delivered at midnight July 31 when we finally arrived home from two weeks of camping at Airventure to find that the ice-maker water line had split and flooded the entire house with water. All the floors were soaked and it was literally raining in the basement, which housed my machine shop, and our document archives (and everything else we were saving) in cardboard boxes.
Everything that was in a cardboard box was not any more. Stacks of boxes were rubble. All my tools were covered in rust. Everything that was "temporarily" parked on any floor (papers, magazines, books, invoices, receipts, to-be-filed, etc.) was destroyed.
We immediately contacted a flood mitigation service. They were out here within an hour with a truck-mounted engine-driven shop-vac, which was useless until they could actually get to the floors. Frantic transfers of items from where they have always been to places where they will never be found, ensued. At 8am they left six industrial blowers/humidifiers running, and returned at 1pm to move furniture, shelves, and anything else touching the floor to somewhere else.
At this point, the mitigators have re-boxed everything in the house (albeit un-organized, un-labeled, un-protected, and un-inventoried) and crammed them into six temporary storage pods on the lawn. Their ultimate goal was to rip out all the flooring, shelves, and cabinets, cut out the lower two feet of sheetrock from every wall, dry everything out, and spray mold/mildew/fungicide everywhere. They've been at it for a month and are almost done.
It will be many months before we find all our boxed stuff, much of which will undoubtedly be damaged.
Somewhere in this maelstrom I discovered that the septic tank pump was not operating, nor the water treatment system. I've not had more than five minutes to address those issues.
Effectively, we are homeless. The insurance company is putting Alison up in an efficiency hotel (soon to be an apartment, somewhere) so she can maintain some semblance of her professional life, and I am living (for sufficiently narrow definitions of the term) in our pickup camper so I can try to ride herd on the various mitigation teams. Of course, Alison had to leave for a week-long trip to Colorado a week after we got home, and as soon as she got back I had to leave to teach a class in Providence, RI for a week. When I got home I discovered that someone shot out a door window in my Tundra. (It's supposed to be fixed this week. The estimate is just a few dollars shy of the deductible, of course.)
No one has any idea how long it will take to get contractors out to replace the damaged floors, walls, furniture, cabinetry, tools, etc., much less to get our life back to anything approximating our admittedly orthogonal definition of "normal". I'm sitting on the floor of what used to be my office, with no idea where any of the essential items (paper clips, stapler, IBM manuals, etc.) are now.
My current primary goal is to relocate my office to a mitigated room so I can continue to work. Then I need to plumb in a laundry sink into the kitchen stub-outs, so I can at least wash a couple of dishes. This is going to be a long slog, I'm afraid. And I'd really appreciate not getting any more phone calls about lost friends...