Thursday, December 20, 2018

Happy Holidays 2017-2018 Letter

There comes a time when innocent people completely forget the horrors of moving, and in a moment of insanity--possibly brought on by noise, too many neighborhood rentals, high winds, and traffic congestion--decide to pack up everything they own and pay twice the estimate to large men who will scratch every stick of furniture and crush well-marked fragile boxes as they move it across town, where the gullible innocents will be so traumatized by the process that they will be unable to send out the annual holiday letter….

When I say that we moved in 2017, between cleaning and prepping the old house, selling it, finding a new house, all the negotiations and unpacking, it really does seem it’s what we did with the entire year.  Probably because it’s mostly true.  Toward the end of the year I was finally able, after 5 years of physical therapy, to return to outside sales, and I now sell business signs for an old client of mine.  We had to say goodbye to our oldest cat shorty after we moved, so adopted two kittens to keep our remaining cat company, but lost one of them to disease two months later, so we found another kitten right before Christmas.  There were some adjustments, but now the three of them get along and have united forces to keep the Christmas trees free of ornaments and tree skirts and to have wild dashes around the house at 3:00 AM.

After 10 years of telecommuting, Andy changed jobs this year and now works for a local company which is close enough to our house for him to run to work once each week.  He’s enjoying having an office again, and it turns out it IS easier to write software without kitty assistants crawling all over the keyboard.  Who would have guessed?

We are loving the new house and neighborhood, and we had a fun summer of “weed or plant?” in the yard.  We are close enough to the water table to not have voles, which wasn’t the main reason we moved, but it is a nice perk, though celebrating by planting 100+ bulbs might have been a bit overboard.  The previous owners were flower-lovers as well, so there was something blooming almost constantly from spring onwards.  Sometimes we even knew what they were.  We’re close enough to walk to the local bike path and nature walk, and have really enjoyed exploring our new surroundings, and the neighborhood is very much a community.  Two different neighbors brought us cookies when we first moved in, which we thought only happened in movies and urban legends.  The backyard is everything we were hoping for, and we spend lots of time out enjoying the birds and dragonflies and trying to figure out why our lawn is peppered with volunteer carrots.

There was much less time for sewing and woodworking during the move as both of them generate MESS, which is problematic when someone can call at any time to come view the house, but with the move Andy gained a window in the garage for natural light and I gained more space for the sewing room.  Much of this year was spent trying to unpack and organize, but we’re getting back into the swing of things and have large lists of new projects to make for the house. 

This year we had to say goodbye to some very special people: Andy’s brother, Mike, and one of our closest friends and (briefly) neighbor, Ron.  It turns out the price one pays for having great people in one’s life is how hard they are to lose, but fond memories help.

As we go into our second Christmas in the new house, we’re settling in, enjoying lots of holiday parties, and learning that very few things in life are truly kitten-proof, and hoping you’re enjoying a wonderful holiday season.

This year I have learned….
  • If you find yourselves crawling along the hall to double-check your paint touch-ups on the baseboards before listing your house, it’s time for an intervention.    
  • Bubble wrap is as fascinating for kittens as it is for humans 
  • Selling to first-time home buyers with a brand-new realtor is going to be expensive AND frustrating
  • It’s probably best to ask if a widespread plant is an invasive weed as soon as one moves in, rather than the next spring after it has really gotten ambitious. 
  • “What does this switch do?” is a game that can be played over and over in a new home.  Or a newish home.  Or, frankly, the house one is trying to sell.
  • Even if one is in a hurry, pack the containers and their lids in the same box
  • It sounds great to plan one’s own landscaping, but buying a house already landscaped is much easier
  • Just because a ground-cover looks cute and harmless in the nursery doesn’t mean that it won’t take over the garden and start colonizing the yard.
  • Early boxes get nicely-written content labels.  Later boxes just get weird.
  • When one has found a source for really sturdy boxes of just the sort one has been looking for, dumpster-diving is a great way to spend a Friday night when moving
  • The one who is going to have to do most of the digging REALLY should have veto power over spring bulb orders, or at least the third spring bulb order….
  • A successful plant coming up is a “win,” even if it isn’t exactly what I planted
  • One can get REALLY rusty at golf after not playing for 15 years.  Luckily, I wasn’t very good to begin with.
  • The house came with some weird iris that decided to bloom for Thanksgiving.  We’re pretending it’s on purpose.
  • One fast way to meet a neighbor is to lock yourselves out on your third night in a new house
  • It does only take once to learn to check the flowers for bugs BEFORE bringing them in the house
  • You know you’ve done a bad job labeling boxes when you’re celebrating finding underwear.
  • When one receives a call from the Nielsen television ratings people, it turns out that they want to know how many televisions can actually receive some sort of programming, not how many exist.
  • It’s relatively easy to find out which houseplants are dangerous to cats, but it takes trial and error to find which houseplants can survive cats.
  • We had to cover the cat door at the old house as one of the conditions of the sale.  A lot of sleep and frustration could have been saved had we done that much sooner.
  • It’s best to just admit that any furniture we buy is ultimately for the cats.
  • Kudos to the catalog company I ordered a gift from once which has now tracked me down to my third residence since that single order 18 years ago. It’s either impressive or creepy. 
  • While it’s nice to have a one-story house, there were some perks to knowing that guests weren’t likely to know if the bed wasn’t made or if the laundry wasn’t folded.
  • Sometimes one spends a long time looking at a house because it’s a possibility.  Other times, one does it because it’s indescribably filthy or bizarre.  While the first is more productive, the second makes for much better stories.
  • If it washes off, it was dirt.  If it doesn’t, it’s a bruise.  They are equally likely during yard work.
  • It takes carp a surprisingly short time to learn to beg for food.
  • There is literally nothing a kitten won’t try to chew. 
  • It’s amazing how much stuff can be found in the closets of a house without much closet space.
  • The appropriate time to figure out how a convection oven works is probably not when hosting the first Thanksgiving in a new house.
  • Moving is a great opportunity to sort through possessions and donate anything one doesn’t need.  We’re still never doing it again, but it is a great opportunity.