The Home Stretch

I went back to moving big stuff and the big bench is nothing if not big. This monster is 42″ deep, 10′ long, and 2″ thick. It used to be part of a bowling alley, and I remember that, back in the day, I used to just pick it up and carry it where I wanted it. Well today, when I wrestled it off the base, it went where it wanted to go, and I’m only glad I wasn’t in its way. I loaded a lot of other stuff on top and tied it down. What I’d forgotten was to fasten the trailer ball. I got all the way down the hill before this occurred to me, and I pulled over to check. Sure enough, nothing but gravity was holding the trailer on the ball. So another close call was averted with a healthy dose of luck. Thank you Jesus.

With no more metal projects in Westford, it was time to move the mill. This was a little more exciting than it needed to be, beginning when I had it rolling on pipes, only to find that the head was too high to roll out the door of the metal shop. I had to either cut thru the wall or remove the J-head. I went for the J-head. Like the big bench, this is a heavy sucker, and I’m not quite sure how I got the head on the machine in the first place, but I know I lack the strength to safely lift if off. So I loosened the bolts, rigged the hoist on some blocking screwed to the ceiling, and lifted it. The blocking cracked under the weight, and the head dropped back down onto the loose bolts. Lucky it didn’t fall off. So I took a chain, wrapped it around the head, with the other hook clipped loosely onto the beam. Then I got on top of the mill like I’m riding a horse and worked the head off of the long bolts, knowing that, when it came off, I would only have to lower it about 6″ until it would be dangling on the chain from the beam. A good plan except that, when it finally came off the bolts, the chain hook also fell off the beam, with me holding the head awkwardly from my perch atop the mill. I managed to re-hook the beam and transfer the weight. Another close call! It took another 45 minutes to roll the thing to the edge of the deck, and then hoisted it as far as it would go, backed the trailer underneath it, and lowered it onto the bed. Whew. I decided that, instead of securing the load with strapping, I would just bolt it to the bed of the trailer, and even found that I had plenty of 10″ bolts on hand, but only 3 nuts and 3 washers, as the bolt cabinet was already in Stu. I decided 3 bolts would be good enough, loaded a handful of other small stuff, and hit the road with a PB&J sandwich in hand and Mary following behind.

I headed for Stu while Mary took the truck to the Green house. I got the rolling beams in place and the portable crane set up, and a stranger showed up on his bicycle to chat and gawk. I put him to work just like I did the Old Guy with the lathe. Even though the crane was set up on concrete blocks and a 4×4, it was still just barely high enough to raise the mill off the trailer. Just barely is still good enough, though, and we managed to pull the trailer out from under it and set it down on rollers on the beams. From there, it was pretty easy to roll it into Stu. Stu is chuck full now.  I need to start collecting hand tools instead of massive ones!

Four more days, four more loads. I emptied out Chuck and put up a new mailbox.






We were getting down to the wire, and for the first time since I retired, I took the whole week off. Is there something wrong with this picture? I hired a flatbed to move Chuck, our shipping container, to the new house. He made it look easy at both ends of the move, but he’d warned me that his tires slip on grass. Once Chuck was unloaded, he gunned it to get some speed going up the lawn, and one wheel spun out, tearing a brown double swath into the grass. For 15 minutes and no extra charge, he told me stories about his adventures as a tow truck driver, and then he headed home.

More packing and still more. I  went thru my files looking for documentation I should leave with the new owners. I wound up with a pretty sizeable stack. As I sorted thru the drawers, I eventually was left with a pile of rolled up engineering drawings. “Scrolls,” I thought. I’m an archaeologist, and my oldest documents are scrolls.

The details needed attention. I almost fell for a craigslist scammer responding to my ad to sell my power tools, but caught myself. The house appraisal came in and it was $10k lower than the selling price.  We had a big discussion about whether to split the difference or just agree to the reduction and decided to just suck it up and get the whole thing over with. Between the busy road, the dated appliances, the wetlands, &c, even an optimistic appraiser couldn’t justify the $345K price. So we reduced it. My old mortgage discharge had been recorded on the wrong in the town vault. My woodshed appeared to be a zoning violation. The buyers’ financing missed another deadline. And the electrician had left behind some dead circuits. My to-do list got interesting.

I decided I couldn’t safely move the tractor, the mower, the brush hog and the backhoe all at once, so moving the backhoe became another adventure.


That night, we sat on the deck for awhile, musing about how this is “the last time” we’d be doing so. Just like we’d mused about so much else recently. But it is getting real now: If all goes well, tomorrow night will be the last night I will sleep in Westford. It’s a little scary, yes, but it’s a good thing on so many levels. I am blessed.

Saturday was to be a big day, and we started off with a trip to the dump, where I managed to shatter a 6′ pane of glass all over myself while putting it in the hopper. Then off to the AT&T store where, hands fresh from a dump run, I tried out smart phones. All the DSL lines were taken in Morrisville, and we were scrambling for broadband, so tethering to a smart phone looked like our best hope. I can’t hear on most smart phones because processor noise crackles in the telecoil, but we found a Windows phone I could use. Windows. Me. Gawd. We picked up a rental truck at Penske and headed home.

While Mary attended a shower for Teresa,  I revved up and started loading the truck. I got the A-frame, the spiral, the couch, and the wavy table put in, and then surrounded them with ‘little things’ like drawers and boxes. Added the granite tables, took apart the queen bed and moved the mattress downstairs, and then moved 4 dressers and drawers down the stairs, plus the TV filing cabinet. Packed up the upstairs bookcases and collected all the “flats” from the walls, and then hooked up the trailer and loaded it with the BBQ, desktop from the cave, the filing cabinets, and the plywood shop drawers. Jockeyed the truck away from the house, and backed the trailer into the garage for overnight, and then had myself some well-deserved leftovers. Long day.

 Sunday, I started off by adding to the trailer load: Dining room table, easy chairs, adirondack chairs, an endless stream of end tables. Celia and Chris showed up to help with the Grand Finale of the moving marathon. Chris and I moved the headboards and king mattress downstairs, and into the truck. Mary and Celia packed cushions and smaller boxes around the big stuff. It was a full truck by the time we shut the door. We loaded flats and the TV into the tahoe. The TV couch and the dining chairs into the Tacoma. And set out in a caravan for Mville. No excitement getting there. We got some initial stuff unloaded, and then I dropped the tarp to expose the old stairwell hole. We lifted the king headboard straight up thru the hole in the ceiling and sideways under the turnbuckle chains into the bedroom. Same for the mattress. Everything went smoothly. Chris was a machine, lifting heavy things like I used to do. A very nice, easy-going, hard-working man. We took a break, loaded Celia’s stuff into the truck, and then headed back to Westford and then took 4 cars into Burlington, unloaded Celia’s stuff into her apartment, took showers, dropped off the empty truck, and met at the Windjammer for dinner.

Home is where the cats are, and we stopped in Westford to pick them up. Lucy was traumatized even before she went in the box. Mary was traumatized listening to Lucy crying all the way to Morrisville. BZ just set to work gnawing his way out of the his box. I just shut up and drove. We got home, let them out, and I passed out on the couch from many days of hard work.

It wasn’t quite over:  a couple more trailer loads made the trip and we cleaned and weeded the whole place so there would be nothing for the new owners to complain about.  The closing went smoothly, and I got a nice fat check for my trouble.


The Gods, however, were not happy: There were high winds and lightning bolts in Milton the night before the closing, and the lightning tripped the new GFI breakers they’d made me install. The new owners spent their first night in Westford without water.

In Morrisville, I took a shower and looked forward to new adventures.


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