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Past Three O’Clock on a Cold Frosty Morning is a Gaelic ballad, best known in the past 50 years as a Christmas Carol. Apparently there is no clear “original song” as there were multiple versions in Scots and Irish Gaelic. Robert Burns helped organize the tune for The Scots Musical Museum, #227 (1790). The original structured version is probably from Colley Cibber’s 1729 ballad opera Flora. Tonight it is fresh and running through my head. It is past three o’clock as I wash clothes and try to catch up on cleaning yet another place to leave for yet another place.

We hope we can move into the Cruise Ship, our tiny basement apartment in our new house that continues to be under construction early next week or possibly this weekend. For now, we are headed back to a hotel. The nice thing this go-round is that we are returning to the same hotel rather than a different one. This stay starting tomorrow puts us over 2 months in hotels since the wildfire burned our house 19 months ago.

Tonight we are optimistically, or at least ploddingly sorting things into “warehouse” or “cruise ship” or “hotel.” This afternoon we took the stove, the dishwasher, the sink, the kitchen faucet and two cabinets for our kitchen. It is all lilliputian but quite nice. Sadly we did not get far.

We need to take the wheels off of the portable dishwasher so we can get it to fit without having the sink at chest height on a full grown adult. I could not figure out how to do it. I called the company and they were fantastic. It seems, as the customer service lady put it, “to be a bit complicated.” I assured her that I had power tools. I used my power tools. I even leaned up against the wall and took a few swigs of my tea from a bottle–just tea in that bottle. No inspiration came. I called the company back and they actually went out with a camera and took photos and emailed me directions with little red circles around the places that the screws were located. After reviewing the photos they sent I could have had something quite a bit stronger than tea in that bottle and still not figured out how to get those wheels off.

So here I am, Past Three O’clock on a Cold Frosty Morning doing laundry and sorting things to take to different places. My wheels have fallen off but not the dishwashers. The definition of the idiom to have the wheels fall off is for something to go wrong. My wheels are off but I need the dishwashers wheels off. There is a lesson in here somewhere but I am not quite sure what it is.

The main lesson I can see tonight is how wearisome and wearying recovering from a major loss or disaster is. There was a television commercial I saw tonight when I took a brief break that showed various major losses with a voice over of how hard it is and how this insurance company was there to help. I had to look away from my spouse and my dog. I did not want them to see me start crying. My spouse is tired. My dog brings me a toy and looks pleadingly at me when I am upset. I did not need more affect.

When I look back on those early months through the eyes of this blog it is hard to remember the event. It is hard to remember I wrote those entries. Mostly it is hard to read them. I usually don’t. I don’t read the hard ones. I would not say it is painful but it is something easy to avoid. I willingly look the other way, not ignoring it but not mucking around in it either.

So for now, we are left with a vague memory of the details of a potentially traumatizing event that we both survived in tact. Many of the people who were involved in “our” fire, the Charlotte/Mink Creek fire in Pocatello, Idaho, are still struggling with PTSD. We have been told that some of the children are still having nightmares from which they arouse screaming with fear about the fire. We are lucky or loved or genetically bleassed but we have not had to struggle with that.

What we are struggling with is the stresses and strains of being literally and metaphorically up Past Three O’clock on a Cold Frosty Morning. Finding our place in the world has not been hard. We feel at home and settled in the place where we are now in Northwest Montana. Finding our specific place with our specific stuff that is ours, not someone elses is very hard indeed.

As we left the house this evening around 7:30 pm with less than half of the kitchen installation we had planned there was stress in the air. The family is strained to the point of exhaustion. As we walked to our cars the nearly full moon rewarded us with the near-daylight brightness of the snow-covered north in winter. We could see all of the place that is us. We could see how our life will be when we can come outside Past Three O’clock on a Cold Frosty Morning because we want to see the moon from our porch.\

View overlooking house under construction floor joists across snow and evergreen trees to distant mountains.

This is a daytime photo of the view we could see tonight. It was not this bright but you could have read a book in the light that the moon cast that is reflected by the snow.