This, I think, will be the last blog entry that could be datelined Mason City. It's not that I'm in any great hurry to leave, but this move has been underway for three months and it's time to wrap it up. Treated to lunch after the drive up from Chariton this morning, what I really wanted to do was take a nap, but launched the final throw-away phase plus starting kitchen and bathroom cleanup. The storeroom is finally bare.
I plan to turn the keys over Thursday and drive home, but will be back through over the weekend en route to a Sunday meeting in Minneapolis. Then I'd darned well better be prepared to spend quality time with the lawn and garden. It's rained the last few times I've been in Chariton and there's a lot there that needs attention. Watching a Sunday downpour flow over the eavestroughs and pound the flowers beneath made it clear that ridding those of fall and winter debris is one of the first jobs to get at.
I'm also getting tired of these Grapes of Wrath treks from north to south, then back again. So far no chicken coops hitched to the rear bumper, but I did drive down Sunday with a pot of ivy on the dashboard --- close.
I'm surprised at how little there is here left to haul --- My favorite long and narrow folding table, now serving as a desk; two wooden TV trays (end tables), one sidechair, this computer plus printer, perhaps four boxes of miscellaneous stuff, linen off the bed (which is staying in Mason City), a vacuum cleaner and the carpet cleaner. That's about it. Unfortunately, I left the tarp in Chariton so I'll have get another since rain is forecast for Thursday and the cleaning devices, the folding table and the trays (all of which will survive a little damp)are going to have to ride in the back. The cab of a club-cab pickup will hold only so much stuff.
There's way too much stuff in Chariton now, but quite a bit of that will disappear as the weeks pass --- I'll miss having Salvation Army only a few blocks away. Now it'll be 40 miles.
I'm still stunned by the mountains of paper that were in this place --- thought the digital revolution was supposed to cut down on that. Much of that's my own fault, a combination of my book-of-the-week habit and the fact I feel a lot more secure when I find something useful online if I print it out. Deep down, I still expect the lights to go out one day and to be pushed back into reliance on sunlight, candles and the word inscribed on paper.
A lot of that paper is now in the landfill, shredded or intact. Some of that can be tracked to a magazine habit I used to have. I come from a long line of scrapbookers --- not the fancy expensive kind --- but people who cut stuff out and pasted it inside whatever was handy. Both my mother and an aunt maintained for years annual scrapbooks of newspaper clippings --- obituaries, marriage reports, birth announcements, breaking news, anything they thought significant. My mother also assembled recipe scrapbooks, other scrapbooks full of illustrations she liked, more scrapbooks filled with articles, poetry and other stuff she thought she'd like to read again someday.
I've never been much of a clipper and paster. Instead, I pulled whole sections of magazines out of their bindings, slipped the pages into plastic sleeves and filled notebooks. Maybe 75 percent of those are gone now, thank goodness. I had a few notebooks entitled "interesting people," filled with magazine profiles. Reducing that collection to one notebook I was kind of surprised to find that I didn't find 90 percent of the men and women I once found interesting or inspiring remotely so now.
Mason City is not a place I'll miss, which is kind of sad. Perhaps I didn't give it a chance --- and I certainly didn't spend any more time here than I had to. But it's too darned big (yes, I know, 20-some thousand is not "big"), it's too darned flat, it's too darned cold, they buldozed most of downtown at some point and the natives are always fighting about something.
I've been thinking this week about my Uncle Elmer Gibbany, the Wyoming boy my Aunt Mae corralled back in the 1940s while visting her brother, my Uncle Owen, who ranched up against the front range of the Big Horns north of Buffalo. Uncle Elmer was born looking up at those mountains and never got over it.
Aunt Mae thought she had him hogtied securely enough haul him back to the Midwest, which she preferred, and they tried Iowa for a while --- but it didn't work. He couldn't stand flat and even southern Iowa was flat to him. Even in later years, when I remember him best, he'd last a about a week in Iowa --- then it was time to get back to Wyoming. When he was dying, he purchased a lot on the highest point of Buffalo's Willow Grove Cemetery with a view of the Big Horns. Althought I can't prove it actually happened this way, his directive was that he be buried facing west rather than the traditional east so that on that great rising up morning he'd see those mountains again first thing.
I'm not quite in that league, but I understand it. And it'll sure be good to get up in the morning from now on and look off into the hills; drive through the countryside and see pasture and woods, cattle and horses, and not those endless acres of corn and soybeans.