Friday, April 27, 2012

Outside my house

Iris garden 
Lest you think I’m obsessed about this house thing, I thought it would be good to talk about other things going on in my life…

It’s really been a beautiful spring, and every time I step outside my house I am surrounded by amazing color.  Purples and yellows abound in my back yard

Clockwise: Blue Belle, Wendy and Gilbert

And our cats continue to entertain us.  They seemed to enjoy painter’s paper covering the living room floor and a few ladders.

Mike and I joined a Cinco de Mayo beer club at a local establishment.  Let’s see…drink 8 Mexican beers by May 5th for a free t-shirt.  We can do that!  Nothing like a great meal, a beer and a game of Scrabble on our iPads.  Yesterday I had my highest scoring word ever: 69 points for “zein”.  It’s those little victories, you know.

We are thrilled to welcome a great niece into the world.  My niece, Diane, and her husband Andrew have a beautiful baby girl named Alice.  She is now 3 weeks old, and though we haven’t met her yet, we anxiously await Diane’s next blog entry telling us about Alice and their experiences as new parents. 

Diane is an amazingly creative writer, and her blog about pregnancy and now parenthood makes me laugh and sometimes cry.  And Andrew’s occasional blog entry, usually introducing Alice to super heroes, is guaranteed to make me laugh.
Here is a link to their blog:

Several years ago I wrote a couple of children’s books before my nephew Adam was born.  I recently updated and bound these books for Alice.

The first book,  “A Baby’s Quilt” was an easy story to write when you come from a family of quilters.  The second story is about making a soup called “burgoo”(pronounced bur-go).  A Southern Indiana tradition, our family has gathered several times over the years to make a 30-gallon batch of burgoo outdoors over an open fire.

Anyway, resurrecting these books got me jazzed about writing again...

Ok, I can’t help myself.  I have to talk about the house…

We had a schedule problem with the granite counter installation.  The company told us the installation would begin on April 30th, but in a conversation with them this week we learned we “disappeared” from their installation calendar.  After a visit to their shop, where I tried to stay calm (and held Mike at bay), we are now scheduled for mid-May installation.   Something about writing their appointments on a paper calendar in pencil concerned me, and yet they denied my request to be written in ink!  I don’t know much about procuring, cutting or installing granite, but boy would I love to organize and automate their record and calendar system!

We are making progress on the realtor front.  Yesterday we met with a prospective realtor for a couple of hours.  We really liked her excitement, enthusiasm and great track record of selling houses.  Plus her mom lives nearby, and so she knows about the area and our vintage of houses (late 1970’s).  We plan to meet with her again early next week.  

So far I’ve I packed about 50 boxes, and I am keeping the local U-Haul store in business with my purchases of boxes.  I created a spreadsheet identifying the contents of each numbered box.  I carry it with me on my iPad just in case I need to quickly locate that Egyptian Cat statue that I purchased years ago at the Natural History Museum in Chicago. 

Enough about the house.  It’s time to head outside into this beautiful weather.  This is one the perks of retirement that continues to amaze and delight me: walking outside whenever I want to soak up the sun and feel the wind in my hair.  Life is good!


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

This whole house

Suffice it to say that it's difficult to start writing again after a 2 week hiatus.  I didn't take a grand vacation or anything. It's just that life got in the way of writing.

Here is some of the work underway:

Replacing a broken concrete slab in the driveway

Kitchen artwork in search of  a new home

Temporary home for the artwork
Why we hire painters...

Empty, painted dining room

Old kitchen cabinet that a Batman style?

Sleek new kitchen cabinet hardware

Pictures tell the story of bright, shiny and new.  It is great to be making progress!  But as we pack, remove the artwork, get the house painted, change out lights and cabinet hardware, I am somewhat saddened that all of this work is for someone else.  As Mike says, we are learning a lot that we can use at our house in Indy.   Or as our friend Roby mentioned during dinner this past week, maybe we will start flipping houses...  Now that is a scary thought!

I’ve had some great times with friends this week including a fun girls night out with Cindy, Joleen, Tracy and Adrienne.   Lots of laughter and stories were a welcome relief from house stuff.  Work inevitably comes up in these conversations with friends, and although my experiences are now dated, I can still relate to the some of the challenges.  I do not miss working , but it is strange to be hearing about work from the sidelines.  

“This whole house” is Mike’s less than endearing phrase about the sheer volume of work with this house.  It is an exhausting time, and definitely not the fun and relaxation you might expect of retirement.  But during the hours and days of bubble wrapping and packing, I've had a lot of time to think.  Maybe this work is giving me the time I need to think through and assimilate all of these life-changing events (ok to name a few: retirement, selling a house, moving to a new city and living with a spouse 24x7).  Although I am possibly overly analytical (and I can hear the laughter now) I understand that adjusting to these changes is getting me ready to move into the next new chapter.  

And the work continues...


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Let there be (21st century) light

Last week was all about planning and sequencing tasks.  For those of you familiar with projects, you know planning is a critical step, but people get impatient that nothing is getting done.  So once again as my life imitated my work as a project manager, we spent a frustrating week interviewing contractors for granite counter tops and tile floors with nothing to show for it.  So by the end of the week we decided (ok, it was my idea)  to complete something that we could touch and feel.  My brilliant idea...LIGHTING!

Smoked glass wall sconces

I am embarrassed I didn't change these light fixtures before now.  My excuse is that I was too busy, but the truth is I never really paid much attention to them.  But now that I am getting ready to sell my house, I notice everything.  What was I thinking with these crazy retro fixtures anyway?  Of course, I'll let you be the judge with these "before" pictures.  I think Mike may be placating me when he says that someone who finds these fixtures at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore will be thrilled to find such cool, retro light fixtures!
Dining room light or as Mike says "the mother ship"

Even the boxes look impressive!

So on Friday afternoon we set out for a trek to buy new lights.  After checking multiple stores, by mid-day Sunday we selected and installed 5 new sconces and 1 dining room light.  Sounds easy if I leave out the part about numerous trips to the 3 area Lowe's stores because of inventory shortages or quality issues.  But it ended well with some great looking lights that we could touch and feel, and a project task that was actually completed...

New dining room light
New sconce

With 3 days under our belts this week, it finally feels like we are making traction with plans.  We decided on and scheduled the painter, and we selected the main paint color with the help of our friend Emily.  We awarded the bid for the granite installation and made decisions on the granite and tiles for the back splash.  Mike is photo-shopping the tiles into a photo of the kitchen as we speak (he really can't help himself...).  Also some driveway concrete work begins tomorrow.   Hey, it's a lot of work, but this house is gonna rock when we are finished!

I've had a great time hooking up with a few friends this week including Emily and Maggie, Joleen, Tracy and Betsy.  Nothing like great friends to help you put this crazy house stuff into perspective...