The whole thing was hinky to begin with; not that there's necessarily anything wrong with hinky, mind you, it's just that hinky bears watching. Or something like that. Hinky does NOT necessarily mean something is going to go wrong or be wrong but I suppose looked at in the right light you could certainly go right down that rabbit hole and given certain circumstances it would be pretty easy to go down that rabbit hole and spend six days in a state of abject misery and then some. That's not how it turned out; mostly I think because I don't like things to turn out that way.
I was sick. Haven't we been here before? Right before I took off for The Blue Ridge Mountains toward the end of May I was sick. Sick enough to wait a day so as to avoid camping with a possible respiratory infection. Turned out that was the right idea because first morning up it was if I'd never been sick. There was no point waiting this time; we were only driving 4 hours North and to an actual house. Also there was a back end deadline. Lucia had to be home by six on Friday evening at the latest. What I didn't have was that extra day of preparation. You know, that day where you do laundry, pack, think about food (because we weren't going to be anywhere near a grocery store), work out how to fit the dog and the vacuum cleaner in with us and the luggage. I didn't have this because just like last May I was working my butt off right until I walked out the door Friday evening. Sorry, staggered out the door. I did spend Thursday sleeping. That helped. Friday had to happen though.
I didn't know I was going to be able to take the week until July 20. Little Girl says I got to take the week of August 15 despite the complications because I cried on July 20 because I wasn't allowed (or didn't allow myself because of circumstances) to leave the building for two hours to go to a funeral. She might actually be right although I don't think anybody but the PM knew I cried and I think she saw mostly upset and anger but would have known the tears were close.
It's very hard to find an affordable rental in the Adirondacks three weeks from the rental date much less a rock bottom rental although maybe if it's really rock bottom that helps although there were a few others and I did consider them less desirable even though they were a little more expensive. This one really was rock bottom. It was weird. I couldn't find anything obviously wrong with it other than it was for sale and that if by some chance it sold before the rental date that we would be moved to a larger camp. OK, no problem. The other thing I should mention is that the house turned out to be much nicer than I expected. Given the rental rate it should have been absolutely ancient inside; antiquated, completely out of date, warped old mildewed lino on the floors and dark fake paneling on the walls, exactly what you might expect for the time period in which it was built (in which we'd have been perfectly happy and comfortable). It was not like this at all. It was absolutely lovely inside. Small, no problem, but renovated at some point with solid cedar paneling on the walls and hardwood floors except the kitchen and a small part of the living room which was carpeted (I'm still trying to work that out) which makes an enormous difference. The funny thing is you really can't tell from the photos.
When I filled out the rental request form there was a place to check off a request for pets and I checked it off despite the fact I was fairly certain the rental page stated no pets but more importantly that Simon does not travel; hell, he barely gets in the car. He's NEVER been away from home for more than 9 hours and NEVER been in a car for more than 2.5 hours just twice in his life (and he was only 8 weeks onld the first time), but the idea of leaving him behind with nobody actually staying in the house and only coming by in the evening and the morning was more than I could bear unless I absolutely had to. In the past this has been OK because he had Homer and it's not like the visits were a quick in and out. I couldn't bear the idea of his loneliness.
Surprisingly she said I could bring the dog. I said nothing about the breed. Later I wrote that I was concerned about being moved with a dog and that if there was any possibility of being moved to a less remote location that I would not bring the dog because he was a very large dog and I wouldn't risk exposing people to a rather large dog if there was any chance that people might be afraid of rather large dogs. Although he's a very friendly rather large dog, I added as an after thought. She wrote, "nope, no chance of being moved". I actually had to go back to the email and look because in my head, later during the week this translated to 'this house is not going to sell'. I didn't think about it at the time. I also didn't give any thought to it being on the market. Not my problem.
In the end we shoveled clean clothes into very small bags, towels and sheets, dog food and the vacuum cleaner. There were pillows (we have learned to take our own) and books and things but that was about it. Honestly, that's all that fit. Here is what we learned: The Dog equals two passengers plus a good bit of luggage room. The backseat fits three people not very comfortably if they are very big people but three people all the same. The seat is split, two seats and one seat. To get The Dog in you have to put the two seat side down. So there are two seats taken up. You can put some things on the floor before you put the seat down. Then you can put some luggage against the driver's seat but not too much. Also, be aware that he is going to slobber and shed large CLUMPS of fur on EVERYTHING and EVERYTHING must be squash proof because he will either fall or lay on it several times each hour.
Once he is in the car you can shove him to one side and you can put your other things in there behind the smaller passenger seat where Little Girl sits. By now his head is in her face; he is panting and drooling and she is disgusted with him. You have to put the vacuum cleaner in before anything else because he goes nowhere without it. Rental cabins do not come with very good vacuum cleaners if they have them at all. We stopped for breakfast and fluids at noon on the way out and didn't stop except for groceries 45 minutes outside of Indian Lake. I don't even think we let The Dog pee. I lost Little Girl in the supermarket. I was that dizzy. Someone helped her find me. She managed not to cry until she burried her face in my stomach.
Lucia was sitting in the car with The Dog because we had no idea what would happen if we left him alone because we had NEVER left him alone in the car before. Our fear wasn't for him or what he might do to the inside of the car. Our fear was that some imbecile would stick their fingers in the window. He wouldn't, would he? The point was, we didn't know. Anything.
On Sunday morning I could not speak above a whisper. I woke up and my voice was gone. Just gone. Entirely. I don't know that's ever happened before. I mean not entirely. Not even a squeak. I needed drugs. Serious drugs. My fever was back, my throat had been raw since Tuesday at 5 AM (I think after 3 days you're supposed to do something about it), my skin hurt and my vision was blurry. We also needed more groceries. We could get by for a couple of days but mostly I needed the drugs. A pharmacy, a grocery store or better yet a freaking Walmart. How far do I have to go to find a Walmart? Probably too far but that's OK, grocery store, pharmacy, something will be open.
Nothing is open. The Stewart's gas station which carries some odds and ends is open. They have nothing in the realm of Nyquil. Nothing in the realm of anything that will come anywhere near knocking me unconscious which is about what I need at this point. I am writing things. Little Girl is translating. Lucia and The Dog are in the car. All of the pharmacies and grocery stores are closed. There is a Walmart in Glens Falls. OK, give me directions. The directions went like this:
Get on 28 South until it turns into Route 9 and take Route 9 to 87 (my stomach froze at this point) and then get on 87 South (oh shit) and go to exit 20 (goodgod) at which point I whispered, 'that's Lake George' and she said, oh, no, that's the other side of Lake George and then take a right and you'll find the Walmart eventually. As it turned out we should have gone all the way to exit 19 but that's not really relevant. What's relevant is that we made a 100 mile round trip for a bottle of Nyquil. We got groceries too. And rug cleaner. We got rug cleaner because the place was partially carpeted and part of the partially carpeted carpeting was dirty white berber and I'll be damned if I'm going to have my dog blamed for ANY of that. I'll be more than happy to scrub 18 square feet of grimy carpeting. We stopped at Wendys. Everybody was happy. Especially The Dog.
On Monday Little Girl and I headed out for the local Health Center. We brought the computer because the library with wifi is right behind the Health Center and I figured we might have time. It was a nasty rainy day and we had the dog with us. We had the dog with us because Lucia was finally sick and sleeping in the loft and the idea of leaving The Dog alone in the house (because that would have been as good as alone) was worse than the idea of leaving The Dog alone in the car. Besides, we could mostly see him from the Health Center and sick people aren't likely to stop and look at the doggy.
We were in the Health Center for three hours but in that time I did see a doctor and I was diagnosed with a sinus infection and I was given antibiotics and something to help my throat. Little Girl and I went to the library for 30 minutes while we waited for the offsite pharmacy to come back from lunch and fill my offsite scripts which would then automatically dispense from a machine at the Health Center. Pretty cool, huh? During these entire three hours The Dog barely moved.
And then we went home. We found Lucia on the small sofa in the front room. She didn't look very happy. The front door was unlocked. I left it that way. The lights in the house were on. I left them on. The front room had games and other things scattered about, left that way. All signs of life in the house. A man. A man. Alone. A man walked into the house, through this front room, into the living room and called out, hello? Hello? Is there anyone at home?
Lucia came to the balcony of the loft in her t-shirt and boxers and stared down at him and said, yes, I'm here. He introduced himself. Said he'd like to show the place and could he come in. She said she was sick and her mother was out. Maybe later he said hopefully. She said we were leaving on Friday. She told me there were two women and two children walking around outside and then they all left.
I turned on my heel, got in the car, slammed the door, screamed backwards out of the driveway (I DID look both ways) and had topped 85 by the time I righted myself properly on the main road. I made a hard left into the realtor's office leaving rubber in the road and digging through about eight inches of gravel straight down into hardpack black dirt. I hit the brakes hard enough I ought to have left a bruise from the seatbelt.
And then I sat there for a minute listening to the engine tick.
I got out of the car and walked to the side entrance, opened the door and entered what might have been a main room; it was hard to tell. I called out, hello? hello? Is there anyone here? A woman in shorts and a sleveless blouse came from the other room and asked how she could help me. I told her I was the tennant and gave the address at the house a man just attempted to show and very quietly began to explain what had just happened to my daughter. She stopped me mid sentence and explained they had no idea it was rented. There was no phone in the house (truth).There was no car in the driveway, 'they' didn't tell them it was rented, it hadn't been rented all summer (I let her have all this). I explained in my very quiet voice that a strange man walked into an unlocked house, stood in the middle of the unlocked house and scared the living shit out of my had been sleeping half naked daughter.
There was a moment of stunned silence while she gathered herself together and explained earnestly that she was there with the man and another woman and there were children present and there was no man alone with my daughter.
I looked at her.
She asked tentatively if they might be able to show the house (what is WRONG with these people?! Don't answer that).
I looked at her.
I told her that if I had any idea we'd be dealing with real estate agents we would never have rented the house. I told her I had a houseful of very sick people and mentioned something about strep at which point she backed off about eight feet. I told her finally, lastly and very quietly...
that I was very, very, very glad for the man's sake that I'd taken the 200 lb St. Bernard with me and that in the future should I leave any of my children behind that the dog would be staying.
She got very quiet and asked where the dog was now. I said, 'the dog is at the house with the children, is the man very likely to swing back again?' She said, 'he might, but maybe if he doesn't see a car he'll keep going, we don't have any cell service, I can't call him.' I said, 'for his sake, I hope so. We'll be leaving on Friday morning.'
There were no more real estate agents. I decided not to mention it to the owner. Not my problem. Also, I just have a feeling. You're trying to sell a house, there is no communication between you and the agent. You are certainly reachable, you don't live in a no cell zone. The rental site is absolutely kept up to date; I know this because I was watching it very carefully. It has indeed been rented most of the summer but always at the last minute probably because people were afraid of being moved. Your rental site says no pets. You tell me I can bring a dog. The rental house has had all signs of personal property removed. There are faded spots on the walls where family photos used to hang (I know this because they are in the rental photographs). The kitchen is stocked with the bare minimum in terms of cookware. Some things that should work do not but I'm OK with that; I don't need much. The house is now sterile except for the discord. There is that. This is hinky, see? Not good or bad, it just is. I am wondering if I will hear anything at all. I am glad that I cleaned the carpet. I am glad that there isn't a single trace of dog poop on the property. I am glad because someone does want this house sold.
So, yeah, that's not all, right? That's only the hinky part and I'm sorry it's so long but it was a lot and I'm not one for believing that vacations should always be about laying flat on your back staring up at the sun for six or seven days or that adventure shouldn't have any sort of discord. Life has/is discord; it's there. If you fight it it's just as likely to eat you up. Or there's something else. I don't always know what but it's there.
So The Dog. In the beginning he would go anywhere I went. There wasn't any particular set of boundaries worked out yet but by the next morning he was pretty clear. There was a 15 yard circle in the front of the house and the back deck was OK. Going down the long path to the river was a definite NOT.
Moving The Dog. An exercise in futility. Getting The Dog in the car once he passed the 154 lb mark took two weeks of begging, pleading, pulling, pushing and crying before he finally did it for me and then after that it was an act of love that involved me getting in first and calling him. The day we left for Indian Lake he got in on his own. His level of trauma during the week was such that anytime I went anywhere near the car or even opened the back he literally threw himself into the car. At one point the seat wasn't down and he hit his head on it and bounced right back out on his ass.
I wanted him to come down to the river. He said no. I walked away from him. I got about twenty feet away and looked back. He just sat there staring at me. Fine. I kept walking. I figured, OK, he's not goinig anywhere anyway. Sure enough, he hopped up on the deck so he could see me better and started pacing. As I got farther away he started to cry. I turned around and looked back up at him. I called him. He came off the deck and started to work his way down the hill. He was a little confused. We, Little Girl and I, had to keep calling him because it seemed he wasn't going to be able to find us on that four foot wide path if we didn't. I turned to Little Girl and said, 'some rescue dog, huh?'
Once to the river he was fine. If I went in up to my knees he'd come in up to his paws and drink but he didn't like the unstable rocks and I didn't ask him to come any further mostly because I didn't care for the unstable rocks either. Little Girl couldn't get him to do anything. Also, Once to the river apparently anytime to the river.
We took him everywhere. We left him in the car. He was fine. He laid down peacefully and waited. The only time he had trouble was at the Bluegrass Festival. It was the music I think. Too much too much. The girls were on the playground a little farther away from the music and could hear him barking from the car. They said it was a lonely scared bark so I went and got him. He lasted a total of 90 minutes in the car and out before he got to the end of his string. His string, said Lucia, he has a string, not a rope, and so we took him out of the park and went to dinner where he stayed in the car again for another 60 minutes. Peacefully. Didn't even notice when we came back. We had to wake him up.
I think what finally pushed him over the edge was the packing and leaving on Friday morning. He was made to stay on the back deck for the final hour while I finished the final vacuuming and then the car was packed around him. He had to ride to the transfer station with two very smelly bags of garbage between him and the back of the car. We stopped for gas before the transfer station. I don't know if he thought we were going to leave him behind or not but he certainly knew we were leaving. After the garbage was removed from the car it took him exactly 90 minutes to be willing to occupy that space again. He sat on the luggage behind my seat with his front paws splayed out in front of him like brakes panting, drooling and occasionally moaning until I finally ran out of patience (and got tired of not being able to see out the back window) and yelled at him to lay down.
Which is exactly what he did for the next two and a half hours.
Little Girl asked me when he was going to stop panting. Wednesday, I said. Next Wednesday.
And at 3:16 AM very early that Friday morning Lucia turned 20.