Settling in…

It’s strange, but good.  After twenty years in a comfortable family home, i’m starting fresh.  Some observations on differences and adjustments…

– My dog can shit four times a day.  When i just put him out back in the fenced in yard at the old homestead, i didn’t stand there watching him do a poo.  Until i started walking him three or four times a day, i had no idea what a complete shitting machine he is… 

– The bathroom just isn’t right.  No shelves for all that “girl shrapnel” (make up, potions, lotions and gooey things).  Putting it in drawers isn’t the same.  Made a run today for some small shelves/baskets to help organize it.  Won’t be truly settled until i can put on my make up in a pre-caffeinated haze in the morning…

– My dog likes going for walks.  The first few times, Mr. Pickles was timid, nose down, and skittish.  After a few days?  Head up, tail up and a jaunty sproing to his step.  Sniffing here, peeing there, he’s having a great time when we go out.  Probably clocking in a mile or so every day, i look forward to the morning and evening walks as well.

– Speaking of evening walks… it is a bit difficult to find and bag dog poo while holding a flashlight – and a hyperactive dog.  i need one more hand.  Perhaps one of my camping headlamps?  Need to come up with something before winter sets in and it’s dark after work…

– Quiet.  i mean reallyquiet.  No street noise, generators, lawnmowers… or voices.  Just frogs, crickets, cicadas.  The Stepford Neighbors don’t seem to go out much after dusk…

–  i don’t miss the old house.  At first i had moments of squishy, nostalgic glurge… “my babies grew up there…” and “we had so much fun there…”.  After spending the better part of the past two weekends repairing odds and ends there?  Screw it.  i’m sick of replacing screens, washing windows, replacing outlet covers and mucking around in the old place.  ARRRRRGH!  i need it rented, and i want it behind me!

– i still have way too much shit.  Today, i took three more bags of clothing and shoes to Goodwill.  More to go.  i’m still in a “pare down” mindset… and i feels good.  But so much more to pitch.  Overwhelming…

– Empty… The Girl is settling into her new gig in Beirut.  The Boy is in an apartment on the main campus of his university (rather than living in a small apartment in a cornhole town attending a satellite campus).  Classes start in about a week.  He’ll have plenty of distractions, not to mention, his own washer/dryer.  i don’t expect to see much of either of them this year… as it should be…

– In six weeks:  i leave for a two week trip to South America.  Holy Crap.  i’ve got a lot to do between now and then… unpacking?  Still at the top of the list…

Trailer Park Archeology – Let the games begin…

After 20 years in the same house, my recent excavations have been daunting.  A “category 2” packrat, i tend to hang onto things that may have future utility, but toss out newspapers, broken things, many “sentimental” items and donate any knick-knack that is ugly or useless (or both) to charitable thrift stores.  Periodically purging things like college class notes, financial info and unused clutter.

Mom has lived in the same 1500 square foot home since 1960, and is a world-class “category 5” packrat, a true child of the Great Depression, unwilling to throw out anything.  That would be nearly fifty years of newspapers, plastic flowers, church bulletins, family heirlooms, desiccating school projects, collectible decorative items (ie: bells, eggs, plates, spoons…).  Co-mingled — wheat, chaff and goat hair macrame – and randomly stashed into boxes, bins, bags, piles and every available space in a 2 car garage.

Over the years, we’ve tried to help her de-clutter and organize, but she has an unhealthy attachment to “things”, even at the expense of human comfort and dignity.  Mom will be 80 next month, and is fiercely independent – to help maintain that independence, i got her a “Life Alert” system last January.  After bypass surgery she’s accepted that she is very dependent on others for her daily activities – primarily my niece, DQ and her husband BJ, who live next door to her. 

DQ and BJ are planning to move.  In an on-going series of discussions, i’ve been going over options with Mom:

    a) Stay in the house, deal with the solitude and make do as the house falls down around her.

    b) Stay in the house, invest in repairs/excavations and be willing to allow professionals in to assist her (cleaning, medical, etc).

    c) Move to an assisted living community, where she can dial-up additional support as needed and take more time with the excavations/repair of the house.

    d) Take DQ and BJ up on their offer – to build a “mother-in-law” suite on a new home in the country, and bring her with them.

She’s sick of her cluttered, messy house, and is terrified that it will collapse around her, so she’s ruled out option (a).  Adamant about not allowing “strangers” into the house*, she is not willing to invest in the repairs and cleanout required for option (b).  Getting back to that “strangers” thing, she doesn’t like the idea of being in an apartment alone – even if she has friends nearby, so the assisted living option is out of the question. 

That leaves one choice – and she has thrown the dice, offered to purchase the land in the country to get the ball rolling.  And away we go… 

Looking out for Mom’s best interests, including the financial side of the enterprise, will be squarely in my lap.  Managing the “family” perceptions with siblings – assuring that there is no exploitation, real or perceived as DQ and BJ build a house from the ground up, with Mom as the financial “underwriter”, buying the dirt and securing construction loan.

My recent “purge and move” adventure was just the teaser for the main event.  In this case, however, my first stop will be for legal consultation to make sure Mom’s interests are protected.  Then we can get on with the fun of wading through soul-crushing piles of plastic butter tubs, partial decks of playing cards and fossilized christmas decorations***. 

There is hope that she can get out from under the rubble, have some peace and tranquility surrounded by family and nature**.  This is the “future” she’s been squirreling away funds for most of her adult life… let’s hope she gets to enjoy it!  If she does this right, her last check should bounce…

______

* After it was clear that he was making the final circle of the drain, Dad’s preference was to be at home, rather than in the hospital.  Embarassed by the clutter, and protective of her privacy, Mom wouldn’t allow “home health care” staff in the house, so it wasn’t possible to bring him home.  She also ruled out “hospice” care.  She was under the incorrect impression that in order to get hospice support, one had to sign over all personal assets…

** even though she’s a bit anxious, she is looking forward to being out in the country, having a vegetable garden, and riding around the property on a golf cart!  better warn the critters and drain the pond… or get her new glasses.

*** not to mention spiders.  oodles of leggy, hairy, juicy spiders.  did i ever mention that i HATE spiders?

Christening…

Committing to debt for 30 years.  Clutching my heart only when i saw the date “August 19th, 2038”.  Rational thought saying “i will have it paid off in less than half that time” but irrational chick brain saying “i’ll be 76-fucking-years old”*.

My friend, realtor, garage-sale maven and fellow trailer park refugee, KMD helpfully pointed at something shiny and distracted me.  Arriving at the new condo at 2:00 pm for the pre-closing inspection**, we walked the place making sure that all required repairs had been accomplished.  i was clever enough to bring the stepladder to inspect a disconnected sewer gas line above the master bedroom.  i wasn’t clever enough to remember to bring a flashlight, however…

One annoyance?  KMD noted that the seller had removed every single roll of toilet paper.  Just rude.  Upon further inspection, we found that the seller had left the washer and dryer.  Ummm… ok.  Fair trade.  They seem functional, perhaps same vintage as mine.  i can leave mine in place at the “rental”, and that’s one less thing to move and connect.  i can buy toilet paper.

After the pre-closing inspection, we scooted back to my house to allow me to change into something less smelly, and to load both cars to start the moving process.  Since the packing crew – arriving friday – charges for wardrobe boxes, but all other boxes/supplies are included, we decided to start transporting hanging goods.  And we started with the end of the closet where my “party gear” resides…

What was the first box i carried across the threshold?  Corsetry, of course!  Two carloads later, it was just a bit less empty.  i’ll be deciphering the light-switch structure for months.  Had a celebratory drink with KMD, and i returned to the current homestead, met a friend, and we hauled two more carloads – and a six pack – over to the new place.  KMD had left a rather spectacular – and wildly appropriate – gift for my new home.  What’s a Trailer without Tequila?  Woo hoo!

Still daylight, we made another run – and this time, i felt compelled to bring the guitar.  It won’t feel right without it.  Knocking back a couple brews on the back deck, overlooking the wooded creek, it seemed like a good christening.  Festive girl-wear, guitar, and beer.  Oh, and toilet paper.

Once the dog has acclimated?  It’ll be home… (sigh)

__________

* Ooops.  i think i said that part out loud.  Fortunately the seller – a pleasant woman across the table from me, and perhaps within tooth-spitting distance of 76 years old – did not hear the comment.

** Minor repairs, but necessary.  Found by the smokin’ hot, deliciously irish home inspector i’d hired, i had provided the seller the option of making the repairs, or cutting a check for $3500 at closing to cover the cost.  They chose to repair the items.  Damn.  Might have made a nice pool table fund…

Let the excavations begin…

February 19th, 1988. Receipt – 19′ U-Haul Truck.  $34.79

Just me and the ex-husband*, taking a day off – leaving our 2 year old daughter at day care in the morning so we weren’t tripping over a toddler while moving furniture.  We didn’t ask friends.  We didn’t hire help.  We just did it.

Not that there was much to move.  Our first house was a smallish three bedroom home, barely a third of the size of the newly purchased home.  After just two trips with the truck, we finished up, moving small items in the car.  Bruised, battered and completely exhausted, it still took us less than 6 hours.  And there was a lot of empty space in the new house when we were done…

Fast forward a little over 20 years.  i have absolutely no idea where all this shit came from…  but it’s gotta go.  Both children are away at college, with their own scavenged furniture.  My new place is about the same size as this one, but only three bedrooms.  It’s not that i couldn’t put all this crap into the new crib, it’s just the wrong stuff.  Clean slate… that’s what’s needed.  “Simplify” is my battle cry! 

So, out it goes.  And since i’ve committed to a “yard sale”** in two weeks, i need to push hard on the excavations.  Tonight?  A start…

i braved the shed, where the lawnmowers sleep in varying states disrepair and loneliness… only the spiders and husks of their spider ancestors to keep them company.  It wasn’t nearly as bad as i’d remembered.  it’s been over a year since i’d opened this thing – it’s a 20′ x 10′ barn, with a storage loft.  Even found the “Pig Farm” from our guinea pig ranch era… and my sailboat…

Which led to the second round of excavations – if i’m going to sell the Sunfish (the sailboat i retained from the divorce), i need the registration info and title to the trailer.  Ummm…. right… Two teeny tiny pieces of paper lost in the haystack of my desk-al region. 

Never fear, i’ve got a fabulous filing system!  When we moved in, i was so organized!  Set up drawers, labeled folders, sub-folders… and everything is up to date.  Through about 1989.  Yep.  Maintained it for about a year before i gave up and just started throwing stuff in folders near where they should go…. 

Tonight, i spent about 2 hours wading through receipts for long-gone storm doors, random report cards for my elementary school-aged children, traffic tickets***, auto accident reports accumulated over 20 years…  all of that life-shrapnel you hang onto thinking you’ll need some day.

After rooting through the places i thought they might be, such as the “car titles/registration folder”, “purchases”, “warranty information”, i eventually stumbled on the proper location.  Buried in a bottom file drawer, i found a folder, cleverly labeled “Sailboats”. [smacks forehead]

Whew!  Success!  Well, sort of…  i also discovered that i still have the title for the other sailboat and trailer – the one my former husband kept.  Happy to have located both necessary treasures, it was only as i was putting his title in the “go” stack that i noticed it was titled in my name.  And, invariably, the trailer that has been collecting bugs under my back deck for the past 10 years?  Titled in his name… 

One more thing on the “to do” list.  Which is buried on my desk somewhere…

* Still hate the term “ex-husband” in regard to the man i was married to for 25 years or so….  In my family, the connotations include ex-spouses with attempted murder charges, crack-whores, transvestite bank robbers, suicide, incest (sorry, still haven’t gotten to that one, folks), and a kindly, but deeply confused Palestinian taxi driver, who was briefly married to my bi-polar lesbian sister.   I usually call my former spouse “baby daddy”, although  i saw the phrase “was-band” somewhere and kinda liked it…

**  A friend will help organize and execute the sale, with her three indentured servants children.  In return, she gets half the proceeds.  I’m also keeping the kids overnight so she can go on date with her adorable hubby.  Something for everyone!  My motivation – i work best on the clock.  Since the advert is out, i am committed to the sale, and must move merchandise.  Forcing functions rock!

*** LOTS of traffic tickets.  There are 88 counties in my state.  i realized tonight that i’m well on my way to getting a ticket in every one of them!  Woo hoo!  Gotta be good at something, right?