Today’s the day! Happy Halloween…Off we go!

Tom went to work at 5:40 this morning for the last time after 42 years, to sign his final papers and get the traditional frosting laden train decorated cake. 

In minute he’ll walk in the door of friend Karen’s home to begin the process of packing “way too much stuff” into his SUV and head to Scottsdale, Arizona to begin the first leg of our year’s long journey.  

Most likely it will take an hour or two and we’ll be off.  One third of the stuff we’re bringing on the road trip will be ditched when we leave the US in two months. Mostly, its includes some snacks, a few remnants we couldn’t part with for now, my tea pot, my Genius chopper, sugar free peanut butter, and four bottles of Courviosier he received as gifts at his party.

Tom just walked in the door, frustrated and angry that his last day on the BNSF railroad, after 42 years of hard work, was dismissed in a few ways.  One, the usual jacket retirees receive on their last day was no where to be found and two, his departing cake had “Marty” written on it.  One would think after all these years, they could get his name right!  Marty!  Good grief! (Poor Marty. He must have “Tom” on his cake!)

Ah, let it go my love.  Your name “Tom,” was on your cake last Saturday night at your retirement party with over one hundred railroad guys and gals in attendance to celebrate YOU!  

Now, its close to 1:00 PM.  After nearly two hours, the car is loaded, the Kryptonite bike locks are entwined in the handles of the six suitcases, the over-sized black tablecloth covers it all and we’re just about ready to go.  

Surprisingly everything fits, except for the cooler which I’ll keep on the floor near my feet.  Whew!  My bad shoulder is killing me but maybe, just maybe, the manual labor will be at a minimum over the next four days as we waft our way across half of our beautiful USA.  

Goodbye, family.  Goodbye, friends.  Goodbye, Minnesota. 

Hello, New Life… the life of two traditional baby boomers, aches and pains in tow, wrinkles and gray hair escalating by the minute, hearts filled with love, hope and anticipation, embarking on the journey of our lives.  Stay tuned.

All my sorrows…

“Yesterday, all my sorrows seemed so far away.” The words of the Beatles song echoed in my head as I drove away from our house which may prove to be the last time I’ll ever see it.

Walking into the door yesterday morning with my dear son Greg to finally witness what was left after the fourth and final day of the estate sale was heartbreaking.  

My comfy chair, the chair from which I wrote every word of this blog (except for the past 10 days), the chair where I laughed, the chair where I cried, the chair where I lived, and the chair where I sat, and on occasion suffered Life’s challenges and sorrows.  The chair.  It sat in the dumpster.

No one bought my perfect condition, mauve colored velvet, definitely outdated, Flexsteel recliner chair, surely overpriced at my insistence of $100, more appropriately priced at $24.  And now, it sits in a dumpster.

Goodwill,  the Vets, and the thrift store, all turned it down. I offered it to son Greg. Not interested. No room. I offered it to dear friend and neighbor Jamie. Not interested. No room.  

Goodbye chair. Goodbye chair. And the chair represented it all, letting go of that life, of that time, of that house.

The estate sale people’s cars were scattered about the lawn as they carried lifted and hauled the remnants of our lives outside to go into one of two trucks and then the dreaded dumpster. They worked so hard.

A number of items didn’t sell including our 1902 Baker Rhodes player piano and all the music roles that go with. Not an offer. Anyone want it?  Pay to have it removed by tomorrow afternoon ($250) and its yours. The Italian leather down filled sectional.  I had an offer that I refused for $350.  Maybe I should have taken it. 

The 10′ long hand made table crafted from wood in our yard in 1923 by a craftsman from Dayton’s, all made with wooden screws with six chairs will be picked up today to go to a consignment store.  Thanks to friend Jamie, who lovingly coordinated it all for us.  Thank you Jamie.

The money?  Not one-sixth of what we had hoped for, a mere pittance for our lives, the quality we demanded, the unique design we sought, now all lost to the whims of a terrible economy, conservative buyers in tough economic times.  We never counted on any return from the sale into our travel budget.  Good thing.

The five estate sale people worked so hard.  They cleaned, they scrubbed, they vacuumed, they washed everything in site.  It looks nice for the new people. When I returned in the afternoon to pick up the cable boxes, they were still there, almost done.  It looked great.  Thank you, Jason, Nadine, Jessica, and all. You worked so hard.

Tom quit smoking yesterday.  I took his car to have it detailed, free from smoke residue, making the drive to Scottsdale more pleasant for me beginning tomorrow, Halloween, the final day in the month’s long countdown.  Between son Greg and dear friend Chere, I had transportation during the four hour period the carwash had Tom’s car.

Chere and I spent three hours together yesterday, working out, having lunch, running errands and commiserating over the years we have known each other while wishing that Life would have allowed us more time together.  What is more important than love and friendship?  Sitting in the newly cleaned car, I cried when we said goodbye. 

Finally, back in Tom’s car, now alone, I returned the cable boxes only to discover that I was two boxes short.  I found one in Greg and daughter-in-law Camille’s SUV (which Tom drove to work yesterday).  Today I have to go back to the house one more time to look for the missing cable box.   Ouch!

Besides, I need to walk around the yard and say goodbye to our three pups buried in the yard.  How did I forget?  Bart, run over by the mailman at five, BenBenBen, died from Cushing’s Disease at 12.  And them my WorldWideWillie who passed away 18 months ago from cancer.  

I wrote a blog for Willie during the last 17 days of his life, from his perspective, a real tear jerker that helped me heal. We had over 500 followers.  How did they find it? They came from all over the world. They cried with me. We named this blog in part for Willie…worldwide…

More goodbyes today, the road tomorrow.  I’ll write along the way relieved that this sad part is behind us, finally allowing ourselves to experience the joy of the adventure that lay ahead and… “all my sorrows seemed so far away.”  Hello, world. One more day.

Thank you, family and friends!…

We’ll be getting our new camera soon, Watch our photos greatly improve!
Tom and Jess last night at Tom’s 42 year retirement party.

No words I can possibly write can express the gratitude we feel for the warmth and love we experienced last night at Tom’s 42 year retirement party. 

With over 150 guests in attendance we both made every effort to talk to everyone. If we missed you, we apologize.  Of course, with me having lost my voice a few days ago, I was unable to hostess in my usual chatty manner. Perhaps, it was nature’s way of telling me to shut up and listen.  Which I did.

The thoughtful and generous gifts, the hilarious and heartwarming cards, the hysterical photos of Tom over the years and of course, the appearance of Alfred E. Newman in disguise made Tom feel so appreciated and loved. Thank you everyone!  Thank you so much!  We are so grateful.

Tom’s 42 years on the railroad warranted a special cake.  This fully edible cake is held together by the gifted hands of the fine baker and the stiff fondant.

My amazing co-hostess, daughter-in-law Camille, interminably hard working throughout the busy evening, made time to enjoy the festivities as well.  Thank you, my dear, for being there for us during this important event finding myself sick and slightly exhausted from the overwhelming recent preparations.

Tom’s co-workers, many known for over 40 years, many now also retired came in droves to celebrate Tom and one another for a near lifetime of great stories and memories. The wives, partners and girlfriends I’ve come to adore over the years filled the room with well wishes and great memories of our own.  We will miss you all.

Tom’s family, the ultra large pack of fun and friendly individuals came from all over, some having come a long way.  They told endless stories resulting in non-stop laughter and the usual teasing of one another.  Thank you family. We love and appreciate you all.

The cake made by Raven, baker extraordinaire at Cub Foods in Shorewood, Minnesota spent days preparing this fully edible cake.  Her passion and enthusiasm were only surpassed by her attention to detail.  We couldn’t have been more pleased with the cake. Thanks, Raven!

It appeared everyone had a great time enjoying the food and beverages and most of all, the conversation and warmth from one unbelievable group of people.

In three more days, we’ll pack Tom’s car and head down the road on the first leg of our world wide adventure…two months in Scottsdale doing paperwork, finalizing medical appointments, obtaining visas and second passports and purchasing and setting up all of our digital equipment.  They’ll be a few side trips to Nevada to visit family including a rental house in Henderson over Christmas.

Although this portion of our trip will be less exciting than that which transpires at the end of the two month period when we officially leave the US, we will keep you informed along the way.  

We’ll share details of the necessary processes of the paperwork and logistics portion of the tasks required to leave the US for years to come, the security measures we employ for our health, wellbeing and safety, the people we meet along the way and the trepidation and joy we experience in the process.  

Thank you for reading and for joining us two traditional, stay-at-home “creatures of habit” as we venture out into this unknown territory leaving everything and everyone we love behind us, in an effort to fulfill what may prove to be the experience of a lifetime.

Happy retirement party day, Tom…Sick or not, I’m in!…

Last night at 8:45 Tom took me to urgent care.  My voice gone, gut wrenching coughs overtaking me, it was time to address this three week old flu.  

An hour later with prescriptions for Z-Pack and codeine cough medicine in hand, we left the all night pharmacy to return to Karen’s home and some much needed sleep. 

It was a fitful night, tossing, turning, dreaming and coughing.  Trying not to take the cough medicine before bed, like a fool, at 4 am I had no choice with the coughing continually awakening us.  The pharmacist had stressed, “Do not take more than one teaspoon.  Its a new formulation and could be dangerous.”  

“Good grief,” I thought, “Why give me such a dangerous drug?” With only a peculiar looking plastic measuring device that came with the red syrup I struggled to measure out one teaspoon.  My contacts were out.  I couldn’t see. With the intent of erring on the safe side, I poured what may have been a mere 1/2 teaspoon.  

In a matter of minutes I conked out to awaken at 8:15 this morning, head a little less foggy, voice somewhat “hear-able” and the coughing cut in half.  Who says antibiotics don’t work for a virus?  Although still sick, I now can manage to hostess Tom’s retirement party with a renewed expectation that I can make it through the busy day and night.

We invited less than 100 people but with the help of a co-worker and friend of Tom’s, Jer-Bear who enthusiastically invited many more, we could have a substantial turnout. After forty two years on the railroad, Tom with his outgoing and friendly demeanor could certainly warrant a reasonable turnout.  Thanks Jer-Bear.  

The last day of our estate sale is going on as we speak.  They’ve already called me twice asking for our “lowest price” on a few of the bigger items. Hopefully, they’ve been sold.  

Worried as to how much will sell, we are discussing plans for the “leftovers.” We must decide by Monday morning when the estate sale people return to donate, to dumpster and to clean the entire house (for an extra fee, of course).  

This is an angst ridden process: selling everything one owns and then disposing of many of those items that one considered to be treasures.  It not only hurts the pocket but, also the soul.  

We all want to believe that we have impeccable taste and yet, we all want to be unique.  That, my friends, is an oxymoron.  Uniqueness dictates that only certain people will find that which we have as “purchase worthy.”  Others will thumb their noses with their distaste.  So it goes in Life, yin and yang.

Tom’s SUV loaded with party supplies, soon I’ll leave to pick up Camille, my daughter-in-law who has been my loyal and official helper through thick and thin during this entire moving process.  She and I will pick up the food for the party, the cake (I’ll post a photo of the amazing cake next time I write), drive the long haul to the VFW party hall in Coon Rapids, Minnesota to set everything up for arriving guests at 5 PM. 

Tom will drive himself in Camille’s SUV to the party and then I will drive us both home in Tom’s SUV at the end of the evening, designated driver that I am with a relatively inebriated and outrageously humorous passenger in tow.  

As we move into the next phase toward Tom’s retirement date and, our departure date of October 31, 2012, I’m filled with sorrow, anticipation and elation all at once.  

The goodbyes beginning tonight, continuing over the next four days, will surely be the most difficult part of this many month’s long process of planning to travel the world over the next five to ten years, as vagabonds, gypsies, and adventurers. 

Not too bad for two typical Minnesota home bodies, having lived a joyful life of routine and familiarity, who’s world will soon be upside down. 

Solutions as we wind down..

Although now sick with the flu, I’ve had no time to rest in an effort to speed my recovery. Forcing myself to continue running around, making phone calls and completing tasks in preparation for leaving Minnesota in five days has been trying.  

Tom’s retirement party is tomorrow, Saturday at 5 PM. My voice sounds like Minnie Mouse and I’m weak, coughing and foggy headed.  Perhaps, this is Nature’s way of warning me to slow down.  Not a good time to teach me a lesson, Mother Nature! 

The mailing service, MailLink requires notarization of legal documents with literally no daytime hours for Tom to go to a notary.  After speaking with Eric at MailLink he reassured me that there was nothing to worry about.

He suggested we go ahead, sign up, pay the $156 annual fee for the largest mailbox via PayPal to get the documents notarized when we get situated in Scottsdale.  In the interim, they won’t be able (due to state laws) to forward our mail until they receive the forms.
Over the past several months I’ve reduced the amount of mail that we receive by contacting the various companies requesting they only send online notifications and statements.  Most were able to comply.

In the near future, it appears that snail mail will become a thing of the past as evidenced by the financial difficulties of the USPS. Today’s fast paced technological advances continue to have an enormous effect on the use of paper and mail in general. Perhaps, in time as we travel, we’ll no longer need the services of any form of a mailing service, receiving all communications by email

A portion of Tom’s income from his work will no longer be paid by direct deposit as his paycheck had been over the past many years. This in itself presents a dilemma. How do we get the paper check “mailed” to us into the bank? He requested direct deposit for these payments to no avail.

We considered asking one of our adult children to receive the payments by mail immediately depositing the checks. Realizing how annoying and inconvenient it would be for them with their full and busy lives to be watching for the checks and subsequently depositing them, we decided it was too much of an imposition.  We didn’t want that inconvenience ourselves!  Why would we impose this on our children?

In speaking with MailLink, they suggested we do what their other clients do in a similar situations:
  1. Use the provided MailLink  address as our mailing address
  2. Provide them with deposit slips and mailing envelopes made out to to our bank’s department that handles incoming snail mail deposits.  
  3. MailLink opens the envelope, scans a copy of the check to our email, signs the back of the check, “deposit only” and then mail in one of the envelopes provided.  No deposit slip is required per this service offered by our bank.
  4. Within 2-3 days the deposit it made into our bank at which point they email us a receipt for the deposit.
  5. Check online banking to verify the receipt of the deposit.
Cumbersome?  Yes?  Alternative?  Hire an accountant or certified money manager and pay $100’s in fees each year?  No, thank you.

Next task? Oh, yes, they continue.  Insuring our belongings.  With the documents signed on the sale of the house, we are ending our homeowners insurance on the day we leave, October 31st.  At that point insurance ends on our belongings as well.  Today, I will wrap up the details of our new “personal property” insurance.

The estate sale is in progress.  Yesterday, the first day, was a bit challenging.  It was snowing, the roads were slippery and the wind was whipping at the time the sale was to begin. 

At 7:00 am yesterday morning, sick and miserable, I showed up the house to meet with the estate sale people to finalize pricing and details.  The wind and sleet on the peninsula felt like a hurricane as I nearly was blown away finding my way from the driveway to the front door in the dark.  Somehow, the detector for the exterior lights were turned off. 

By 9:00 am, as the sale began, I was visiting with our friend and neighbor two doors down, peeking out the window to witness the caravan of cars driving down the narrow road to examine and hopefully buy “our stuff.” It was hard to watch.  I left an hour later for a delightful stress-reducing lunch with the neighbors at our favorite local restaurant, as opposed to the breakfast we had planned earlier.  Its so hard to say goodbye.  The worst is yet to come.

Once again cocooned in this comfy leather love seat as I write today, my voice is gone, my throat less sore and the cough is slightly better as I prepare for the tasks of yet another day in limbo:
  1. Finalize personal property insurance policy
  2. Go to bank to get extra deposit slips and arrange for the mailing service to send them the pension checks
  3. Pack a box of overflow to be shipped to Scottsdale and held by UPS until we arrive on November 4th.
  4. Check on final details for Tom’s party tomorrow.
  5. Grocery shop and prepare dinner as I have done each evening since moving here last Sunday. After all, a good house guest must earn their keep.

Yep. Five more days.

Out of my element..

Its not easy for us to be house guests.  Our hostess and her family couldn’t be more accommodating, easy going and welcoming.  

By the time Tom returns from work, reads the paper, showers and watches the news, he joins us in time for dinner. We’re both a little tired, yet to fully recover from the packing, the cleaning, the lifting and the hauling.  We try to go to bed by 9 or 9:30.

I’ve been making dinner for six the past two nights, shopping creatively each day to accommodate the diet and likes of each of us in the group of five at Karen’s home.  Mostly, they eat as we do; gluten free, chemical free, starch free and sugar free making this task easier than it might be for some.  

We are enjoying dinners together, all of us sitting at their big square table, a table similar to ours in our now former home, about to be sold along with everything else we own, at our estate sale starting tomorrow. 

Tomorrow morning, I’m scheduled to meet the estate sales people at our house at 7 am to review the final pricing on the bigger items.  Its not easy.  That which we found to be unique, custom made by devoted craftsmen and befitting our lodge-like lifestyle will have considerably less value to a potential buyer. 
When done, I’ll leave, as requested by the estate sale people.  Its too hard to see, they say…too hard to watch one’s lifetime belongings wander down the long narrow road to be placed into the bed of a truck or plopped into the trunk or back seat of a stranger’s car.  Oh.
When I leave our home tomorrow morning, not to return until the sale ends, my dear friends/neighbors and I plan to have breakfast at our favorite local restaurant, The Hazellewood Grill for a meal and our final goodbyes.  

There has been four of us girls as confidants, friends, helpers, supporters 
(now  down to three after Sue left for Florida last Saturday) all of these years. The goodbyes begin.  I knew this was coming.  I avoided dealing with it.

Yesterday, I watched our little three year granddaughter practicing for her upcoming dance recital next Tuesday, the day before we leave. I will be there. Tears welled up in my eyes watching her, knowing the time is near.  Those little faces, those precious smiles, the delicate tiny hand to hold.  Ah.

Awaking with a sore throat today, I best stay in and take it easy.  Today, I must arrange for “renter’s” insurance for our personal belongings.  We are cancelling our homeowner’s policy on Halloween.  

We must set up insurance coverage for our luggage, clothing, digital equipment, all those items I posted here to enhance our world travel experience, all of those items for safety and security, all of those items for comfort and ease.  

When the agent from State Farm in Henderson, Nevada suggested $15,000 in coverage in an email yesterday, I cringed.  Our digital equipment alone will fall into that range. I will make an itemized list sending it to the agent today to ensure we are properly covered.  Its worth paying a little more.
We must set up our new Nevada address and mailing service before the end of the week. I should have done this sooner.  When I started the process of signing up yesterday, I realized that both of our signatures must be notarized. Oh, no. We must do this soon.  Tom doesn’t get done with work in time to go to the bank. I’ve waited too long to do this. I’ll find a solution today.

A week from today, two hours from now, we’ll be packing Tom’s car to begin our journey.  The retirement party will be over, the sale will be over, the tasks will be completed and the goodbyes will be shared.  Ouch.

“Leaving” is bigger than “moving”…

We are now situated at Karen’s home for the next nine days.  Everything for our stay here is unpacked and put away.  We’re welcomed by Karen and her two sons with open arms. We haven’t been overnight guest in a friend’s home in almost 20 years.  Its an odd feeling.  We’d better get used to being in a home “other than our own” based on the upcoming travels.

This move was more work than any move I can ever recall.  Under normal circumstances, when moving, one opens a drawer, examines its contents and in a somewhat systematic manner proceeds to fill a box with the drawer’s desired contents and the rest is thrown away. Simple.

Later, the box is moved to the new location, either near or afar, opened to reveal its contents while finding an appropriate spot in the new home. Simple. That’s called “moving.”

Nope, not us!  We aren’t “moving”. We’re leaving.  Big difference.  Here’s how ‘leaving” goes:

  1. Open a drawer, examine its contents
  2. Remove all the contents from the drawer
  3. Consider the resale value of each item
  4. Remove all items of sentimental value
  5. Place items of sentimental value in one of four separate boxes (one for each of our children’s families)
  6. Determine if anything in the drawer is appropriate to travel the world with consideration for usefulness, weight and least of all, it’s desirability.
  7. With all items out of the drawer, wash the interior of the drawer.
  8. Place the items to be kept in containers for future packing
  9. Return all remaining items to drawer in a neat and concise manner
  10. Close the drawer
  11. Scream!  Go to the next drawer, closet, cabinet, storage bin, plastic bag, refrigerator, freezer, chest, trunk and repeat the same process, over and over again.
That’s leaving!
In the past few months, finalized in the past few days, we have prepared for the following considerations:
  1. Clothes, medications and supplements, special foods, technology, cords and chargers, toiletries, cosmetics and my special pillow to last us for the nine days here.
  2. All of the above plus comfortable clothes, jackets, cooler, beverages and snacks for the four day road trip which begins in nine days plus…the roof top carrier for the car, yet to be installed.
  3. All of the non-perishable food and supplies purchased at Costco on Saturday for Tom’s upcoming party on Saturday for anywhere from 100-200 guests. I’ll be picking up the food and cake for the party mid-day on Saturday.
  4. Documents, tax receipts, medical records and forms, insurance forms and additional paperwork to attend to in Arizona.
  5. For the two month stay in Scottsdale, Arizona and Henderson, Nevada; everything listed here plus food to purchase while there.
  6. For our upcoming world travels; six suitcases, two carry on bags, a duffel bag of med and supplements, two wheeling carts, two laptop bags, and a purse and a over-sized murse (man purse which Tom hates!).
Done?  Yes.  Much to our surprise.  Exhausted? Yes, but will be better in a few days.
So, I sit here writing this blog in a comfy soft leather love seat, my hot tea in my mug, overlooking the calming lake at Karen’s home, her big fluffy dog Wrigley, sitting at my feet, the chill of fall in the air and for now…I am home.

Burrowing in…

Tom is still sleeping.  The sun has yet to come up.  I sit in my comfy chair in its original spot surrounded by all of our belongings neatly stacked on tables, arranged on shelves, or placed in new locations, all priced to sell. 

This will be the last time I sit in this chair writing this blog. When I write again on Monday it will be from Karen’s home in a spot I will choose as close to this familiarity as possible. Ah, creatures of habit, we are!  

Perhaps, it is time for me to welcome change. When our precious little Australian Terrier Willie was alive (he went to Doggie Heaven in April 2011), on occasion I took him along to visit friends.  Invariably, he’d find a spot in the corner of their sofa and burrow himself in, wildly throwing himself around in circles as he would at home, burrowing in until he managed the perfect spot. Will that be me?  Burrowing in?

Is it better to let go of the familiar when one makes a radical life change, such as we?  In my logical brain, I perceive that letting go of the familiar will bring personal growth and discovery.  In my emotional heart, I reach for the cocoons where I’ve found solace and comfort.

Yesterday, my dear daughter-in-law Camille showed up once again to help. Alone in the early morning, the estate sale people done with their pricing, I had tentatively faced the cleaning and washing of our three refrigerators, one giant freezer and emptying all the kitchen cabinets filled with food and spices.

My shoulder, still painful and cracking with a SLAP injury and bicep tendon tear made these tasks painful and daunting. Camille did it all as I stood beside her coaching while we laughed, reminisced and held back the tears. I will miss her.

During the day, friends and neighbors stopped in to see our normally impeccable home, as an impossible array of stuff for sale; once warm and inviting, now cold and austere.  Lots of hugs.  The time is near to say goodbye.

We’re still planning on moving out tomorrow before the Vikings Game at noon. Its hard to cook. The stove and all the counter tops are covered and overloaded with kitchen items for sale with nary a place to make my cup of tea, let alone a full meal.  

Tom suggested we cook the remaining homemade low carb, gluten free frozen pizza, one of very few items left in the freezer. It will serve us well tonight and Sunday night as we continue to gather our belongings to take to Karen’s.

At 4:30, I seasoned a boneless pork roast with my few remaining spices, placing it into the oven while still frozen.  Humm…I thought, where’s the meat thermometer?  I always use a meat thermometer.  Oh well, I’ll wing it, I guess.  

At 6:00 PM, Camille gone after a hard day’s work (thank you, my darling who is so there for me, for us), Tom and I walked down the road to say goodbye to our friend Sue who’s leaving at 5:00 am this morning to go back to “their” home in Florida for the winter, for the first time without Chip, her beloved husband and our friend, who sadly passed away at the end of May.  We’ll miss her too.  

We hugged goodbye.  I held her tight, feeling the lump in my throat, the tears welling in my eyes but she, so wounded from sorrow and tears these past months, refused to succumb, gently pushing me back, insisting “We’ll see each other soon.  This is not goodbye.” Tom and I walked silently down the road home, holding hands.

We walked in the door to the smell of the pork roast cooking in the oven, smelling good, so familiar.  I opened a can of Tom’s favorite green beans (oddly, he prefers canned to fresh), made a salad with little room to prepare and sliced the roast. It was done.  No thermometer.  Yes, maybe I can improvise.

We turned on the plasma TV in the kitchen to watch a show we’ve always recorded on the DVR to enjoy during dinner, Shark Tank.  We laughed, we talked. we cleaned our plates  The food tasted good.  Placing our dirty dishes in the dishwasher, I reminded myself to put price tags on them when they’re clean and place them with the other piles of Fiestaware, service for 24, in four different colors.  Goodbye, Fiestaware.  You’ve served us well.

Tom, now awake, showered and dressed, loaded up the car with a portion of our luggage plus food, wine and booze to leave with Karen.  Tomorrow, we’ll bring over the rest.

Soon we’ll join son Greg, Camille and those three little angels, 5, 4, and 3 for breakfast at IHOP in Eden Prairie after which we’ll head to Costco to order food and supplies for next Saturday’s party for Tom. Then, off to Karen’s to unload the car and back here for what we’ve decided will be our final night in our house.

Tonight, after another busy day of work we’ll fall into our ultra comfy Grand King Sleep Number bed, burrowing in, perhaps without “wildly throwing ourselves around in circles” for the very last time.

Moving out on Sunday…

Its hard to believe that this is finally happening. We’re moving out in 48 hours. There’s no space for us here.

The counter tops, the stove top, every single surface is covered with price tagged items from our lives.  There’s no room for us to maneuver, tending to the daily rituals we have fashioned into our survival, our comfort, our solace. Its gone.  We must go.

I’d move out today if we could but Tom has to work.  We could leave on Saturday but, it will take a day to finish gathering up the last of our belongings, empty and clean the food cabinets, the cold storage room, the three refrigerators and one upright freezer.  

The estate sale people will clean up the house after the sale but we’ll come back to do the fine tuning, leaving it as spotless as possible.  I don’t like this part. I’ve moved twice in the past 40 years. How do I even remember that I don’t like it?

The sale begins a week from today, Friday October 26th, ending on Sunday the 28th, a total of three full days to unload a lifetime of stuff.  Last night, as we roamed from room to room noting the prices on the little pieces of blue tape on each item, we felt we had made peace with our own form of “sticker shock,” with prices too low, not too high. 

A Waterford bowl I had purchased to complete a set, over 30 years ago for $275, still in perfect condition with no signs of wear, is now offered at a mere $18. I could go on and on with such examples.  I won’t.  Its the nature of the beast.  We must accept it and move on.

Its funny how we all value our belongings much higher than the true market value…that which a buyer is willing to pay.  Its that simple.  Any item is only worth that which a buyer will pay.  That’s it.  No fluff. No variables. Question: What will they pay?  Answer: The value! 

We hear someone say, “Oh, that’s worth so much more than I paid.” I am as guilty as the next person claiming to have made a great deal.  From time to time, an item is a great deal, usually when extenuating circumstances preclude a seller to “unload” the product(s) in a short time frame.  That’s us, right now…sell everything we own in three short days. 

Thus, a time frame and a seller’s motivation determine a price, coupled with a buyer’s perception of their “need” of the product (a sense of urgency) and, their willingness to buy now at the right price.  Then, and only then, do we have a sale.  

Optimistically, we anticipate that everything will sell.  What doesn’t sell, we’ll donate to various charities. With the professional appraisals we’ll have on hand, we’ll be able to write off more than the usual $500.  The estate sale people will take care of everything, giving us the appraisals and the receipts.  That’s comforting.

Today, I will scour every nook and cranny in this house to ensure no items were missed, leaving them on a table the estate sale people designated for pricing next week.  I’ll vacuum everything.  I know.  That’s sounds silly.  I always vacuum before visitors arrive.

Tomorrow when Tom is home, we’ll finish the above, pack his car for the move on Sunday morning, spend valuable time with son Greg, daughter-in-law Camille (who continues to be helpful) and three of the precious little grandchildren. Oh. That part is coming.  The goodbye part. We leave in 12 days.

Next time I write in this blog in two days, late in the day on Sunday, I will no longer be sitting in this comfy chair.  We’ll be at dear friend Karen’s lovely home.  I’ll pick an appropriate spot and I will write again knowing that so much is behind us and finally…so much is yet to come.

Estate sale prep…not so easy

We sending this painting of our house to my sister Julie in California. Goodbye house, goodbye painting. Ah…goodbye sister.

They arrived on time, all five of them, loaded up with bins, tables, price tags, papers, armed and ready to begin sorting and pricing a lifetime of our stuff.

Suddenly, furniture was moved, drawers were emptied and the laundry basket I was using to do laundry was filled with items to be sold.  I quickly emptied it and filled it with my dry laundry to be folded, laundress that I am in the worst of times.

I felt panicky. I’d sent a few texts to friends, eliciting comfort for my stifled hysteria while quietly roaming about gathering endless piles of items to be moved out with us.  They responded with compassion, although I could sense that they were baffled by an appropriate response.

What does one say to a person who has loved to entertain guests, possessing all the perfect accouterments in an effort to make each experience a memorable event for every guest, when all those items become nameless and unattached?  

Wandering from room to room, I felt a sense of robbery, pillage, detachment, not over my personal effects: clothes, cosmetics, jewelry and trinkets.  The sense of loss was born over the those items that I had used for years to create ambiance, warmth, love and sharing with family and friends over a lifetime, or to design a romantic dinner for Tom and I with specially prepared food and thoughtfully chosen drinks, soft music and a fresh bouquet of flowers.

The arrangement of it all, pleasing to the senses with the ultimate desire to have the experience linger.  As they cleared out our aperitif, wine and shot glasses, a plastic enclosed piece of paper dropped to the floor.  I noticed that it sat there undisturbed for awhile while I was cleaning a drawer.  

Picking it up, my heart sank while at the same time a wide smile came across my face from the happy memory. It was a drink list I had prepared from which guests could choose their favorite wine, beer or cocktail.  We kept no less than 15 different brands of beer, 12 types of alcohol, 6 liquors and a wide array of mixes and popular concoctions to satisfy every guest’s personal taste.

Tom or I would said, “Pretend you are at a bar and choose your favorite drink. We will make it for you.”  And make them we did; in the perfect glass served with a  little napkin to catch the drips, an umbrella if appropriate, a decorated little stick to hold pickled mushrooms, olives, onions or maraschino cherries, a slice of orange or a perfectly cut lemon or lime.  This menu of drink options, elegantly typed, slipped through my fingers and into the trash.  No one will buy that. 

The estate sale people, although quite busy with the stuff, took the time to be kind and sensitive in handling all of our belongings and to the reality of the loss. Thank you Jim, Nadine, Jason, Lena, Sheri and Jessica. So kind.

I didn’t cry. Taking deep breaths, answering texts and taking calls from some of my amazing friends; Karen, Chere, Carol, Jamie and Steph, all brought comfort.  My thoughtful daughter-in-law Camille, looming in and out all day, aware of my angst, offered a safe haven every few hours by phone and by text, is coming today. We’ll  spend time with the three little grandchildren while she drives me around, laughter and stories coming from the three little passenger in the backseat.

Stranded that I am, we’ll go to the UPS store to mail the above painting of our house that has hung over the fireplace in the kitchen for years to be sent to my sister Julie in Los Angeles.  Goodbye picture!   

(We’re not ready to face the goodbye of loved ones yet. I’ll write about that  later).

As I sit here in my comfy chair, soon to be moved to a more “sales orientated location,” I write today, an off day.  Usually, I write this blog every other day but today was different.  Perhaps, I will write every day once we are “out in the world” but today was truly different.

We’ve decided to move to Karen’s home on Sunday, getting situated before the Vikings game at noon.  Tom can watch the game on her big screen TV while I go to Costco to order the food and supplies for his upcoming retirement party on the 27th.  So much to do.  So little time.  

Who am I to complain or feel sad?  We have the most exciting life that we could ever have dreamed, ahead of us.  But, that’s the magic of Life. We are allowed to feel, to laugh, to cry, to whine, only moments later to rejoice.  Who’s to say it should be different?

Are there rules regarding the order in which we feel? Should sadness only be reserved for sad times and joy for happy times?  It’s ironic how we often laugh at wakes and funerals and cry at movies, having little to do with the state of our lives at the time. 

I give myself permission to feel a little sad, however fortunate we may be, in the process of letting go of a lifestyle that has so much enriched our lives and filled us with a lifetime of memories.  

Perhaps a year from now while living in Kenya, we will cry when we witness a lioness and her cub sitting along the road as we drive to the grocery store or laugh when a zillion tsetse flies are flying around our heads while we cook outdoors at the braai.

Ah, Life, thank you for being so rich.