April is not only the month for the A to Z Challenge. In my world, it is also birthday month for me and one of my daughters. Other years we have celebrated by getting together the week of our special dates, but this year it is not working out for us. Instead I am going to be writing about all the ways we have spent quality time together celebrating anything and everything. I am also adding my other daughter and experiences I’ve had with her to my list of stories.
This year it will be challenging, as the title suggests, not just because it requires almost daily posting, but also because I have to search for photos on multiple thumb drives, computers and places in the cloud. And I have not done posts ahead as in other years. And I will be traveling away from home much of the time. And doesn’t it seem that thing in general are a little more challenging these days? (“Stop listening to the news and looking at your phone!” I tell myself frequently.)
My hope is that these stories will nudge people to find ways to enjoy their valued relationships with their adult children, their life partners, and their friends. The pandemic has us starving for time with each other and now is the time to be creative in growing relationships in any way we can.
Here’s hoping you will join me for a month of looking back on fun, and getting ideas to chase fun into the future. Thanks readers!
This is a silly year to be traveling, but we managed it. Now there are other things I need to manage, like remembering to post what I write.
I’m talking about the kind of driving that puts me in front of a steering wheel, looking out a windshield over the hood of a vehicle. The kind of driving that delivers a sense of power and force of will. A big machine goes where I direct it. I get chills thinking about it.
There is really no way to deny that learning to drive a car, or a truck, is a rite of passage for most people. Everyone in my high school looked forward to taking driver’s ed class and getting their license. On the other end of the spectrum, giving up that license, or losing it, is also a rite of passage. I remember my grandfather driving around, half blind, and scaring people. Then I saw my father hold onto the keys as he struggled with everyone’s concern over his driving. Macular degeneration took out his central vision, but as long as there were white lines on the side of the pavement, he knew he was on the road.
It didn’t seem like it was that hard for my husband. He gradually started sitting in the passenger seat and got used to having me drive. He still took himself to work and other familiar places, but he had a tendency to startle and get upset over other driver’s decisions. It was easier to let someone else (me) deal with all that craziness. Mom is also making a more graceful transition. Her driver’s license was up for renewal this November and she decided to let it go.
I’ve always liked driving and have not shied away from the unusual – driving big trucks, driving trailers across country, Ubering people around the city, and venturing into an occasional mud hole. But lately, I’ve become aware of the tedium of long drives. I have fond memories of sitting on the passenger side with my needlework or a book, and being able to look out the window at the passing scenery. That doesn’t happen anymore.
This week the husband and I have taken a two day drive to North Carolina for my daughter’s wedding. Eighteen hours of driving has given me time to think about this process of road tripping, it’s advantages and disadvantages. See, it’s really nice to have the freedom to go or stop at will. And there’s the luxury of taking most anything I want along with me – in contrast to the carry-on suitcase angst of flying. It’s also nice to have that familiar vehicle at my destination without having to rent and return and get a big bill at the end.
BUT there are some slight disadvantages. For instance, I feel the full weight of staying awake and alert. I don’t want to be like the guy who died peacefully in his sleep unlike the screaming passengers in his car (old joke we used to tell). The husband is always chiding me for eating popcorn in the car without realizing that it has kept us alive for numerous trips. I can’t sleep while I’m eating, or at least I haven’t been able to so far. This trip, after I finished the popcorn, I started in on the cheese curds, and then the nuts, and then the carrots/cucumbers/peppers. And then I felt ill, no surprise, but that also kept me awake.
Pandemic driving has some unique features too. For once, we drove through the city of Chicago without a major slow down. I was worried about going there but having no good way to avoid it, we went. There was traffic, and the need for vigilance, but it was surprisingly smooth. And what’s with the toll roads? There were no people in those little booths to collect money! I may have a massive bill lurking somewhere in cyberspace but so far I’ve gotten no notice.
Then there is the mask thing. I can’t remember how many times we were on our way into the rest stop or gas station and had to go back to get a required face covering. It’s not a habit yet. We took food with us, not knowing if there would be the usual restaurants available. Finding a place to sit down and eat was harder, and the experience has changed in so many ways – no uncovered smiles, no condiments on the table, not much merriment.
I knew it was a risk to get new tires right before a trip, but there were reasons why it made sense. I’m talking only hours before the trip, the dealership was able to find tires for my truck. There was no time to test them out. Did you know that pandemic shortages have affected the tire industry? Who would guess that? For this trip I went from worrying about old, misaligned and worn tire noises to worrying about new tire noises. What is that whap, whap, whapping…? Is it lethal? Should we stop? We ignored it. Found out later that gravel and acorns caught in the tread sound just like defects.
All in all, it was not a bad trip, just peculiar like most everything else in 2020 has been. It is my hope that in hearing about this trip, you will find yourself more content, perhaps even happy, to stay at home (like we’re supposed to). I know it did that for me, just sayin’…
Now the rest of the events will unfold, sort of like the domino
that falls and starts the whole line up toppling, one after the other.
I consider the adventure to have started yesterday when I
left for the Minneapolis airport to fetch youngest daughter to us. It was a
successful trip with the usual number of unexpected turns. Her route from Seattle
was through Dallas (everyone’s intuitive path…) so the storms there delayed the
flight 90 minutes. Then her luggage got put on another plane and we waited
another hour for that to arrive. But she made it! We were home by 11 pm.
We have Mother’s Day to celebrate with a family brunch after
church today. I have packing to finish and hopefully a relaxing walk somewhere –
it is warm and sunny and spring is springing. This evening I will drive back to
Minneapolis and hopefully get some sleep before my early flight out to
Flagstaff. It seems quite unreal that one week from this moment I will be back
here, sitting in this chair probably, having gone through it all. One week of unknown adventure and unique Grand
Canyon views (and possibly physical torture…). It will be over. How does time
do that to us?
The world has gone a bit surreal, and I’m not quite sure where to place myself in it. Thirty one years ago I left Hayward, Wisconsin for life in Florida. It was a completely new life in every way. Now I am back, but again it is a new life in nearly every way. The actual “work”of moving is done so now I have time to think about what has happened. Introspection is a mixed blessing.
We arrived last night, like we have for many vacations over the years, after a long drive, suitcases in tow, with plans to catch up with family members and visit childhood haunts. The surreal part is that we won’t be packing up again in two weeks for the trip back to Florida. We will stay here and see the seasons change, make new friends, start new routines, and settle in. Instead of calling Mom every morning I will meet her in the kitchen as we get our first cup of coffee. Instead of cleaning my own house and taking care of the oneacrewoods, I will be looking for ways to help others with their homes and yards.
For months, this change from one life to another has seemed so far off and so slow in coming that it was hard to believe it would happen at all. “If you ever get here…” Mom would say. I would reassure her that the “challenge of the week” would be met and that we were making progress, but honestly, I had moments when I cried and felt like I couldn’t do it. The most valuable thing I learned from it all is that I should not spend a lot of time looking at the large picture – it can be too daunting viewed as a whole. One day, one step at a time is all that I was designed for. Each small accomplishment should get its full measure of satisfaction and celebration. One by one the hurdles got crossed and now I am sitting at the end of the course wondering how I got here. Once again, the passage of Time has created a miracle, a change.
I learned about home improvement, about hiring painters and contractors and overseeing projects. I learned about getting medical and financial records in place and ready for a move. I learned about selling and buying trucks and what goes into the making of a good trailer. I learned I had friends. I learned that hard things become easier when I pray about them and decide to trust that I’ve been heard. I learned that some things must be waited for and are beyond my control. I learned that having even one concrete task that I can do is a comfort and a blessing – get busy and do it – then look for the next thing.
The house in Florida has not sold yet, but we joke around saying we are homeless, because the house is empty and our “things” are in storage. Instead I’m going to remember that my goal was to be with more of my family and that has come to be. If “home” is where my people are, I’m not homeless. Instead, I’ve come home.
More to come, because this is going to be interesting, a new page. Just sayin’…
I have learned so much during this move, and haven’t had time to write about any of it! Stay tuned for a full confession in the next few posts.
Trucks and Trailers
I’ve had enough of them, but I dare not complain because there is more to come and I depend upon them. They are a part of moving. Graceful acceptance is in order.
I’ve totally lost track of how much I’ve recorded in my blog so this is a quick summary of events. I sold my car which reduced us to a one truck family. We traded that truck for a more roadworthy model and it is slightly smaller than the Silverado, but it’s still a truck. I am a truck girl for the time being.
The other truck in my life is the one that brings and takes away my PackRat container. It has been in our yard, struggling to turn around and get in position, four separate times now. The last time was last week when our fully loaded container left on its way to North Carolina. I had been packing it for three days with all those things that will someday go in an unfurnished house or apartment. According to instructions I was not to exceed 6,000 lbs. but it had been a long time since I had weighed any of my furniture or belongings (never). As I shoved the last heavy box of flatware over into a recliner, stuck high on a pile of book boxes and marble slabs, I had a bad feeling about the weight. I shut and bolted the door anyway because the driver had called and was only five minutes away from picking it up.
I innocently asked the driver how they weighed the containers and he pointed to a scale gauge on the lift. His words, “we’ve been taking a lot of overweight loads lately but the limit is 8,000 lbs. because the lift can’t handle more than that.” Honestly, I went inside to pray while he hooked it up and took the container up a few feet. God was listening – it was 8,000 lbs. and he gave me a thumbs up and took it away. I’m still marveling.
Don’t think our house was empty at this point. There were boxes and piles of objects unloaded from the furniture all over the house. All these things were destined for the nice, new 6×12 single axle trailer that we had just purchased to go behind our new used truck. I don’t want anyone to think that I did all this container and trailer loading by myself. I did enough of it but had excellent help from several friends who know how to lift, carry, stack and tie. Because I am not at all superstitious, Friday the 13th, was my departure goal. We had been given some guidelines in gauging the weight on this trailer too which I forgot about until it was too late. I have to say it was another tightly packed box by the time we finished.
We made it to North Carolina! Several large items in the trailer were for my daughter Julie who lives in Greensboro so the day after arriving I unpacked the trailer. With Julie’s help we reorganized and reloaded my trailer – and then unloaded and reorganized her trailer. She is even more of a truck/trailer girl than I am. Her trailer is twice the size of mine, so is her truck.
What remains for us (me, the husband, the truck and trailer) is the 18 hours of driving to our destination in Wisconsin. Gonna be such fun, right? We are going to be very familiar with each other by the time we’re done… just sayin’.
There’s nothing like moving to help you think about who you are, who you really are.
For years as a young mother, living in a rural area, I was responsible for growing a lot of our food and preserving it for use during our snowy, winter climate. I learned a lot about gardening, had my own rototiller, and a root cellar. I was baking bread with flour which I ground with my wheat grinder. I was making sauerkraut in stoneware crocks and canning tomatoes, green beans, beets, applesauce – lots of fruits and vegetables. I had a raspberry patch and made jam. I enjoyed that lifestyle so much. I loved being that person, even though it entailed a good bit of work. It was about 8 years of my life, thirty years ago.
Since then I have occasionally tried to garden but it felt more like raising produce for insects (or whoever it was who ate it before I got there to harvest). One year I canned tomatoes because the farms here in Florida were practically giving them away – they didn’t have workers to pick them. My Wisconsin persona brought jars, equipment, a pressure canner and expectations to my new home and they have been largely unused since then. I have kept them on a shelf in the garage. I have avoided making decisions that needed to be made.
Who am I now? Even more important, who am I likely to be in the future? It’s not that I don’t still like the thought of gardening, or of having good food put up for the winter. It’s that moving has made me decide not to be a person defined by “my stuff”. It felt empowering to put the jars in the recycling bin, knowing that they could be replaced pretty easily up north, if needed. The person I am is one who adapts to the reasonable default, whatever that is going to be.
Another similar moment (I know, two in one day!!) came in the course of taking the husband to work. He has been dreading closing up his office, making decisions about his boxes of books and papers. He has spoken of it several times so I offered to help him. We took a small table and I arranged all his books where his coworkers could look them over and help themselves. I went through his periodicals and we decided to pitch all but the last year’s magazines.
It’s probably harder for someone who has had a long career doing what they were educated to do. They really become defined by their job. I think the husband’s books, his physics notes from college (yellowed, with bugs, and copious dust), his work memos from eons ago, and bits and pieces of ventilation equipment were defining him to a great extent. He left the room and I took care of some of it for him (dumpster) but I’m not saying exactly what because he reads this too. If he can actually remember something he needs from it all I will go dumpster diving and look for it. I’m betting there will not be a need.
Now we are freer than we were, but not as free as we will finally be in a couple weeks. We will be free to adapt and be who we really are in our new circumstances. For me, the job will be easier without the canning jars along for the ride, just sayin’…
What on earth have we been doing? We’ve been selling and moving for months already! Aren’t we gone yet? No, we aren’t. Here’s what’s been happening in the past few weeks of relative silence:
The husband has been finishing up his last weeks at American Aldes Ventilation. They finally realize he is leaving and are asking him questions and scrambling to learn the things he will not be doing for them anymore
About half of our “things” got boxed and put in a container that is stored someplace in Tampa.
Packing has continued as I empty out closets, dressers, cupboards and the garage.
Keeping the house “showing” ready in case an interested buyer comes our way. We’ve had two open houses, both of which had 0 visitors. Really. Everyone is up north I guess.
We have been using up our food supply, giving some things away, sold the freezer. (Now we’ll hopefully leave before we get a hurricane so we don’t have to restock.)
Sold my car, and traded our red truck for a newer Chevy Colorado in a sophisticated grey.
Ordered a topper to go with the new-to-us truck to give us space for the move. They take weeks to make and getting it put on will probably be the last thing before we leave.
Spending lots of time driving around together, since I love to drive the new truck and am not letting the husband get behind the wheel.
Doing our last visits to doctors and dentists, compiling our health records to take north with us.
Keeping up with summer growth in the yard, mowing, pulling weeds and vines, trimming trees.
Visiting with friends we may not see again for quite a while.
Last but not least, trying to keep healthy and find our way out of some disturbing health problems.
What we hope to be doing in the next few weeks:
Dennis Retirement (Click here to see the invitation with a nice picture of the husband. I’m technically challenged to get it to show up, sorry.)
Retirement party!!! I am so excited to see the husband getting honored by his co-workers. He has been faithfully on the job for 35 years and has been through a lot with this company. They have been planning a special lunch out at a restaurant and a surprise. I have no idea what it is.
Making an appointment at Mayo Clinic. The husband is frustrated and depressed with his erratic blood pressure and extreme mental and physical fatigue. He has had a brain MRI and tests for his heart and circulation but no helpful diagnosis yet. Ever heard of NPH? We hadn’t either but it is one of the possibilities.
Emptying out the house. Filling our container and returning it to storage until someday when we have another house to furnish.
Buying a small trailer for the things we want to take north.
Taking our trip to Wisconsin, via Greensboro to see Julie and possibly Madison, Indiana to check out Ron and Marlene’s project (this is the first they’re hearing about this though, so we will be flexible on that.)
We absolutely have to be finished traveling and in Wisconsin by the end of July because the first week in August is the Smith Family Reunion and we are going to be there helping it happen!
So a lot has been happening, even as some important things, like the sale of the house, have not been happening. We are learning and practicing our waiting skills. And since it doesn’t make much difference where we wait, we will do it with family. We are not discouraged. The house will sell, eventually.
Life is strange now. I want to be out of Florida before hurricane season, but I’m horrified by the finality of a sale and having no home. It has taken so long to get ready and yet something about it seems to have happened so fast it’s scary. Hurry up and wait is an accurate description of what has happened.
Having a house for sale means we are in a state of constant tension. Showings are requested at random times, and of course we don’t want to say no so we must be ready. Part of the tension is being ready and then having nothing happen when it seems that something should be happening, or being ready and full of anticipation only to have the showing cancelled. It seems to happen frequently.
We’re eating out a lot. People want to see the house over lunch or dinner time when they are free, so we make the house presentable, turn on all the lights and make sure the AC is going, then we vacate so as not to interfere. The logical place to go? A restaurant where we can sit and eat and not mess anything up in the kitchen at home. It works for every reason except our so called “diet”. We have pretty much left that behind for the time being.
Last night we went to the local diner, “The Recipe Box”, during a showing and I was feeling a bit frazzled. I noticed immediately the relaxing music – soft jazz, recognizable songs, like at a piano bar. It was such a different sound from normal restaurant background music, because it was live with a real person playing a keyboard. She played during our whole meal and it was a gift from God to my house selling soul. She was so good that I bought her CD. There were only a few of us having dinner and we all clapped and commented on the songs.
The immediate result of all this showing is that we find out new reasons why people don’t want to buy our house. They have reservations about getting their RV down the one lane drive, reservations about the kind of neighborhood we’re in, reservations about whether they could remodel the way they would “have to”. Hmm… I don’t remember having any reservations when I moved here. I thought it was heaven on earth and could hardly believe it would be my new home. Was there something wrong with me? Thankfully, most who have looked have felt it was unique and fairly priced.
At this point, I can honestly say that I’m not upset about waiting. I am expectant of something interesting, and happy, and good. I fully trust that the process was started by God, in his timing and we’ll be looking back on it at some point and marveling at how it came about. Something is going to happen. I can hardly wait. No, wait, I am waiting. Whatever…
I knew April was going to be a difficult month. My full time job was going to be getting our house ready for the market and there was not going to be time for researching blog posts or coming up with clever (worthwhile) subjects. But I did not want to forgo the famous A to Z Blogging Challenge, which I have come to view as my April habit. The only solution was to blog about what I was going through and knew best. It turns out that it was not only the easiest subject to write but it also helped me to vent a lot of frustration and angst.
I didn’t go in for every bell and whistle offered. I skipped the daily logos, opting for the general one which stayed on my sidebar. I didn’t use a lot of hash tags, which I would have if I had been more familiar with Twitter and other social media sites. I thought the master list, and the daily lists were easy to use and not at all time consuming. I posted often on the night before since the list was always open at the earliest time zone. I never missed a day. It was probably my easiest year.
My theme was not one that garnered as much interest as other years, but I did find a few friends and appreciated them all. I had interesting comments and I think I answered them all. I was able to read some, but not nearly as much as I wanted to. I have a catch up goal of doing two or three a night for the next month. I like that the lists give each blogger’s theme or category, although I don’t just read the categories that match mine.
Our house prep was timed just about right to fill up the month, and I’m happy to post one last picture on my theme. We are finally listed for sale! The video and photos are awesome and we are hoping for a buyer soon. I’m sure I will probably blog about that too, so stay tuned…
To me, a landmark is a memorable object or moment marking a significant change in direction. A couple of whirlwind days (and nights) have resulted in what I would call landmark moments. In fact, it seems there have been amazing events, one after the other, most of the month as we progressed toward the listing of our house for sale. The most satisfying deadline came this morning – the taking of the pictures.
As scheduled the photographer was here at 7 am. That’s really quite early for people who are still living in their home to be ready, completely staged and photograph worthy. Clearly we were those people who weren’t quite there. Our realtors arrived and helped us hurry around and clear last minute items (the morning coffee cup), unfinished cleaning (the windows in the re-roofed area), and stuff we just plain forgot (the vacuum cleaner left in the middles of the floor). All this in a great hurry because the sun was coming up and putting a whole different light on things that wasn’t as photo friendly.
After we got out of his way, the photographer did a video panning the neighborhood and then proceeding through the house, to show the general layout. click here for video tour
Multiple listing service allows a video and 25 stills. This didn’t allow for shots of the garages. We were thankful. That’s where we hid all the personal things that didn’t belong in the pictures (think like a giant junk drawer).
We, on the other hand, got taken to a much-needed breakfast. This was the first time in several days that I’d actually sat at a table for more than five minutes. We signed the listing papers over our coffee cups. It was a landmark moment.
Another thing that made this a landmark day was later, watching two of my favorite “friends” go down the road to a new home.
One of the days that our realtor helped us as a handyman, he noticed my kayak and asked about it. He wanted to get one for his wife, so we bartered for his labor. Also, we had decided that we wouldn’t need my car in our new location and would sell it. In another conversation he asked about my husband’s truck. It wasn’t for sale but when he found out I wanted to sell the car, we immediately began to discuss that. He needed a “first car” for his daughter.
That’s how it turned out that after our signing breakfast, we went back to the oneacrewoods, put the kayak on top of the Mazda, and drove down to his house to complete the sale. I followed in the truck and took this picture.
Changes seem to be coming fast. I’m now a truck girl. Although I don’t have my boat anymore, I can still rent a kayak if I want to. More likely, I’m going to concentrate on hiking plans. And the biggest change, of course, is that we will probably not be living in Florida much longer.