Greetings and welcome to Dinosaur Bear,
On the heels of my farewell to Iceland post I figured that it would make the most sense to talk about what happened after said farewell. Well, after a year of all that grandeur and exploration SB and I did what any self-respecting person would do and became unemployed and moved back in with our parents (lol). But seriously, that’s what we did. Now, in fairness to us it wasn’t an extended stay and as I write this we are back out into the world on our own and are slightly less unemployed. However, in the immediate transition back to Murka’ we not only returned to our hometown, we went straight back to the parents, though fortunately we did manage to avoid the whole “living in the basement” bit.
The good news is that our return to the US of A started off on the best of notes because we got to go to our all time favorite zoo.
Yes, we were so excited to see this zoo that we stopped there before we even saw most of the family (granted we’d been there just over a month prior, but still). SB and I have a long and storied history with this particular zoo and we were oh-so-excited to have the chance to visit. For the most part it was exactly as we remembered it, though they had made a few changes and expansions over the interim years – although nothing too substantial. The good thing about the zoo is that it is small, and since it hadn’t changed much I still knew exactly where everything would be! While I like the entire zoo, I generally used to start with the wallaby walk-through, so that’s what I did this time too.
He was sporting a nice, “freshly trimmed” look and seemed to be in good spirits. SB and Prince Charming have had tumultuous relationship in the past, though they seemed to be on good terms this time around. One of the best parts of the zoo is the petting zoo area, where you are sure to be swarmed by “kids” (the good kind of kids, as in, the non-human ones) and their mommas!
Of course while the zoo was fun, it didn’t change the fact that we were loaded down with suitcases and backpacks and needed to get down to FIL and MIL’s house to not only sort our belongings from Iceland, but also the belongings we’d left behind before moving to Iceland. We’d partially done that prior to leaving, back during our first Midwestern Pitstop, but we had been very time-crunched then (and quite honestly mentally overloaded) so we revisited things again. Now that process took a long time, but we managed to schlep off a lot of stuff we didn’t need all while only adding a couple of a new things (mostly things from Meem, who was moving to The Golden State right about the same time we got back). While going through literally everything you own with a fine-tooth comb and getting rid of things your monkey brain tries so desperately to convince you that you still need is emotionally – and sometimes physically – difficult, it is also a good opportunity to simply revisit what you actually possess. For example, I got to recap some of my most favorite beers from Iceland, so favorite in fact that I bothered to transport the bottles 3,100 miles.
Pigsten and Broli also got to meet some “new” (to them) pint-sized friends, such as the now ubiquitous “Little Man” who soon embarked on his own cross-country adventure with Meem as well as a few tiny Dino pals!
In fact, the Boys made quite a few new friends while we were home. For instance, as parting of the “cleaning out” phase I gathered up all my Nutcrackers and cleaned them up. The Boys were pretty excited to meet all of them.
These two squirrels date from way back in SB and I’s relationship and they were one of the earliest stuffed animal friends we adopted! In addition to our plushie friends, we also got to catch back up with our plant friends: Little Friend, Bonsai Buddy Jr., and the Three Amigos (Pancho, Nacho, and Quixote).
Now you’ll probably notice that Little Friend looks very short and ehm… very bad in that photo (here is when he was last on the blog), that’s because he is well, dead. Yeah, it brings me legitimate sadness to share that Little Friend died while we were abroad in Iceland. Having since had a chance to exam him and his roots, I believe he was kept in too cold of an area, went dormant, and was subsequently over-watered and died of root rot, the accounting of the way he died also supports this hypothesis. This made SB and I very sad as Little Friend is the oldest of all our plant buddies and even predates Tristen by 4 years. He was purchased by my Dad and Stepmom as an apartment warming present for SB and I over a decade ago. He had been our “Christmas Cactus” ever since he was just a little bitty guy.
He eventually grew to the point that he was nearly 7″ tall, and then got trimmed, and then grew again, only to be trimmed again. He was a hardy fellow, and didn’t always have an easy life, what with being repeatedly trimmed and even caught in a moving truck door once. But he was ever present. Thus, the absence of Little Friend – despite him “only” being a plant – is a big absence in SB and I’s life.
So, as is likely unsurprising, SB and I held a “funeral” for him at my Dad’s farm, where we buried him in a ceremony where all of his own little friends were present. Little Friend, ever the prankster/poker, even got the apparent last laugh as I got poison ivy while finding a suitable spot for him.
Yet not all is lost. If you’ve read the blog for a good while, you’ll remember that Little Friend once spawned himself into smaller Little Friends. Most of those spawns are still alive and kicking, so, a piece of one such spawn (in particular BIL’s) was replanted to begin a new Little Friend for us.
As you can see he is still quite small, and has no “branches,” but he is alive, well, and growing. Further, while it is a “new” Little Friend, this one is genetically the same plant as “old” Little Friend, thus we’ve decided not to rename him and just keep him as Little Friend, as it’s really just an off-shoot of original Little Friend. So, while we are a bit sad that we didn’t get to keep the core, original Little Friend, we are also happy that we have a part of him to start anew with (plus this smaller version of him was way easier to move).
The Boys took Little Friend’s death a bit hard, but it helped that their good friend Floppsy was there to keep them company through the hard times.
However, we did keep not only that empty oat biscuit box (lol) but also all of our Bónus reusable shopping bags, not that Pig would have let us get rid of them anyways. 🙂 In fact its kind of funny that despite getting rid of a lot of stuff, we kept an empty biscuit box, haha. But we did still get rid of, donate, or sell a lot of our things regardless. This ranged from kitchen items we just didn’t need anymore, to books, to sleeping bags from the 1980s (seriously), and even some of SB’s old dresses, such as the one she wore to our reception!
As mentioned though, we weren’t the only ones getting ready for a big transition – Meem was getting ready to move herself. A lot of the first week or two we were home was spent helping Meem wrap things up, and, as anyone who has moved after so long will tell you – you’re probably going to need/want help. Meem was fortunate to have lots of said help, and before too long she was all packed up for her own trip westward (via Route 66 no less!). She was not alone though, for in addition to the aforementioned Little Man and dino bros, Sinclair and Mr. Bear were there to help her navigate!
Meem was understandably struggling a bit, not just because of the move, but because she was selling her house. I think selling a home is usually an emotional thing, but Meem had special circumstances with “House” that I think made it even more difficult. House was a nice house, a good house, and most importantly, our house. While I think I’ve been “gone” long enough to not have a super close bond with House, it is very weird to think of Meem and House as two separate things now. As of this posting, I am pretty sure House has been sold, or at the very least is in the closing process. That’s an odd thought, to not be able to go back to House anymore – at least without being arrested. Interestingly enough, after Meem left SB and I had a few more things we needed to do at House, so we were actually there after Meem had begun her journey. That felt even more weird, having House without a Meem in it, but I think it also helped me say goodbye in my own way.
After taking care of a last few things over the next few days, we took the few items Meem was nice enough to give us (and there was more I would have taken had we had space, lol) and closed the door for the last time. Before we left I turned and took one last photo.
I think part of why I didn’t super struggle to say goodbye to House is because “Home” is where the Meem is, and Meem was no longer there. “House” was, as said, a happy place – but it was just a place. The memories made there will follow us, and that place will, in time, be replaced by a new one. It is the people who make the home, not the structure.
After Meem was on her way and House was ready to enter the market we returned to our own moving/life endeavors. Some of which were critically important (housing, etc.) and others were more of a side-quest, such as repairing my old Lego Sopwith Camel (the 3451 version, not the newer 10226 variant) that I’d had since 2001.
Before getting stored at MIL & FIL’s while we were in Iceland it had sat in Meem’s garage for over a decade and had not only accumulated a lot of dust, the stickers had dry-rotted. Meem and her Google-fu found someone in Australia just as we left for Iceland who had the stickers and ordered them for me, and then the rest was just a lot of cleaning (from soap to lighter fluid) and gluing. I ended up gluing the base frame of the plane because in the year it had been at MIL & FIL’s it got broke into several pieces (it was a fragile thing) and so I was tired of having to rebuild the thing. Some pieces were much easier to fix and glue than others.
The Sopwith Camel wasn’t the only thing that got fixed up as (aside from Little Friend) we cleaned up and repotted our other plant buddies as well. We started with the Three Amigos who had definitely outgrown their second pot.
That should hold them for awhile. Next up was an offshoot of Quixote that MIL wanted for herself (God save her), he was – as to be expected – displeased with me moving him out of his red solo cup despite his new home being so much nicer.
We’ll call him Quixote Dos. After that was Bonsai Buddy Jr., who was desperately in need of a new pot as he had never been repotted at all since he came to live with us after his Padre died in the Great Gnat War of 13′.
If you were wondering where Pig was during all of this – since he tends to want to eat the plants (especially our Icelandic plants) – he was inside. We kept him there for everyone’s safety. Turns out Pig got pretty fascinated by a Preying Mantis and didn’t care much about what we were doing anyways.
They’ve actually grown quite a bit since that photo (and yes the one on the right is there, just still very small in that photo!) but those are two bonafide barley plants! Not only that, they are Guinness barley plants, all the way from St. James’s Gate in Dublin. We had been holding onto three barley seeds (shhhhh) since we visited the brewery way back in December of last year, and I had grabbed them mostly as a novelty thing as we proceeded through the tour (you could hold/smell the seeds at one point and I ehm.. took three). I took one for myself, my Dad, and FIL. I never expected them to grow and honestly hadn’t even thought of it, but sure enough as soon as I gave one to my Dad he planted it and by God it grew! So the next day I planted mine, and then later (after it was temporarily lost and almost vacuumed – but thankfully SB found it) I planted FIL’s as well. The two you see above are mine (left) and FIL’s (right). So yes, we now have three Guinness barley plants growing, you never know what you’ll encounter on Dinosaur Bear it would seem! I’ll share more about the progress of the “Barley Bros” in a later post.
In addition to all the moving craziness we did have some nice down-time with the family, such as many a beer nights with FIL or a few “cabin days” with my Dad, Stepmom, and Daryl 2 down at the river.
While my hometown is, well, incredibly small – it’s also big enough that you can still “get away” from it and go to much more relaxing places. My Dad happens to have a cabin in such a place, so we spent a couple afternoons and evenings out there, doing, you know, Midwest stuff like dousing tennis balls in lighter fluid and catching them on fire.
But, more than anything, we just chilled and relaxed. It was a nice getaway from all the moving-related stress and uncertainty.
We also got to see all of our core family on Labor Day, which was really nice. MIL and FIL just recently pompified their house, so its very nice for gatherings now. I made a “S’Mores Cake” for which I followed absolutely zero recipes or guidance.
After Labor Day it wasn’t too much longer before SB and I headed to the nearest city of any size and picked up a vehicle which is probably quite familiar to you if you’ve followed this blog for a bit: The Penske.
For each of our substantial domestic moves we have relied on Penske trucks – and have had absolutely no issues and highly recommend them. Our first truck was Lillian (Lily for short), our second was Lucy, and the truck above, our third, was Lucinda. Lucinda was the “oldest” of our three Penske trucks, and she was a bit of a wild stallion. I’ll cover our adventure with Lucinda more in the next post.
For now, that brings us to the substantive end of our second Midwestern Pitstop. It was good to see the family, good to get some things done, and even better to finally gather all our belongings up (as I am sure MIL & FIL also appreciate since we had dumped it all on them 😛 ). We did not like things such as the humidity, the stress of having no idea what was next, and also the humidity – BUT it was still a great pit stop between two big stages of our life and we are very thankful we had a place to stay during that time. 🙂
Plus, despite our time well, really all over the place, we are still Midwesterners at heart – and while we don’t live there anymore, there is always something special about coming home.