Greetings from our new home…with proper “Social Distance” maintained!

A perfect afternoon for writing, it is! Since we were supposed to be shoving off from San Diego this afternoon for a marvelous Circle Hawaii cruise, I had no idea that I’d have so many opportunities to get caught up on my writing.  We’re also busy unpacking and finding places to put things as they come out of the packing boxes. And although our new abode here in Aurora, Illinois, is far from being settled, it’s finally being lived in! As I stressed in my last post, it’s now home. The process of moving in has come in segments, since we’ve “done it ourselves,” with timely and wonderful help from our son, his wife, and our grandsons. 

As of last week, all that remained to be delivered here was the sixteen-foot storage POD that we had filled to the rim and had it hauled away to some warehouse distant. Well, since our cruise to Hawaii was cancelled because of this virus issue, we had it delivered last Saturday morning. Soon after its arrival on our driveway, our son and family showed up and had it all unloaded and under house or garage roof within an hour and a half.

I’m pleased to report that it was very good to get reacquainted with lots of the items that had been stowed away all these weeks since early December: My many boxes of books and our kingsize mattress and box springs, to mention two of the most important. By the same token, there were a few things I’d just as soon seen gone the way of the Edsel: Lawn tools that we no longer need, as one example. Since we’re paying a pretty stiff monthly Home Owners Association fee, all yard work, snow removal, and landscaping needs will be out of our hands. After so many years of doing all that around the houses we’ve lived in, I was ready to divest that role, one big reason why we settled on where we’ve now ended up.

Now, we’re slowly but surely getting to feel that this place is going to be a wonderful spot, and the more we get items into place, bookcases installed and filled again with my books, and all of the Christmas and holiday decoration containers up onto the storage lofts in the garage, we’ll be ready to sit back, catch our breaths, and toast our good fortune in finding this place, in this great location.

Now, if this coronavirus mess would work itself out so the world can get back to some sense of normalcy, it truly would be a wonderful world once again. Despite all of this, we’re keeping the faith and knowing that greater days are still ahead. Here’s hoping that you all are well and surviving and maintaining some semblance of living without panic or fear. 

“But…it’s now HOME!”

It has happened! No, I haven’t disappeared from the face of the earth or been swallowed up by the dreaded Coronavirus. My absence from the blog world can be explained simply as I have really not had a whole lot of inspiration—or a regular place where I can write frequently. Good excuse or not, that’s what I’m going with. Anyway, we have finally moved into our new residence after a whirlwind few months since I last posted back in November about the very real possibility of just such a move.

It’s a rather convoluted and involved tale of how we sold our house out in a small town in northern Illinois near DeKalb (about forty-five minutes from where I write this in our new location). The sale seemed to occur in the blink of an eye, and we had only a mere few weeks to be out of the place. Since we didn’t want to lose out on this cash purchase, without realtors involved, we jumped at the opportunity and began weeding out, sorting, groaning, mumbling, packing, more moaning, hauling, and somehow clearing out in time for the set closing date of December 9.

It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal had we had a place already picked out to which we would move, but we had absolutely no plan or idea for any of that! We ordered one of those sixteen-foot Portable On Demand storage containers (PODs) and filled it to the rim and brim with a million boxes of my books, ten million containers full of the wife’s Christmas “stuff,” and our mattresses, and various other pieces of furniture and whatever else we could get in there. (OK, I’m exaggerating just a bit about the numbers of boxes and containers—but not much!)

But the POD wasn’t enough. Thus, to handle all of the other things, we rented two 10’ x 10’ storage units at one of those modern, climate controlled, indoor facilities. That was a lifesaver, and it was conveniently located to where we were staying (our son’s house) and to our eventual new home about eight miles away. So all of our possessions were at least safely stored away. 

We lived out of suitcases for the most part, although we did have a few of those plastic drawer units that served as places to store various clothes, etc., in the small guest bedroom with twin beds at our son’s house. That was December, and it was fun to share life (and a bathroom!) up close with our two teenage grandsons!

Once January and the new year appeared on the scene, we moved in to a house in Naperville, where we spent the month “house sitting” for good friends of ours who spent the month wintering in Naples, Florida. Although we still were living from suitcase and shaving kit, we were secure and still close by to where we wanted to end up.

It was during this period that we got the itch to consider looking around to see what sorts of homes/townhomes might be on the market in the locale we hoped to eventually settle, all the while still insisting that we were “only looking and getting ideas.” After all, it had always been our plan not to do anything too elaborate until we returned from our Hawaii cruise in April, and then we’d begin the serious search for a new place to live.

Of course that didn’t happen. The first—and only—time we went with a realtor friend of ours to look at some properties, we found the house in which I’m now typing this. I’ll not elaborate on the details and the process as to how we finally landed the place, but suffice it to say that we were (and are) thrilled and excited to have been able to make things work.

It’s ten years old, one-story, no stairs, no basement, and, alas, not enough storage. As of last Thursday, February 27, we closed without a glitch of any kind on the place and have everything moved in from the two storage units. The POD is still hibernating in a storage warehouse somewhere and will be delivered after we get back from the cruise in early April. (More on the cruise situation later. Keeping our fingers crossed that this “scare” will diminish before we begin.)

 Meanwhile, when the house sitting stint ended as February rolled around, we moved back to our son’s house for a few days before heading off to Florida ourselves, with stops in Ohio and the mountains of North Carolina along the way.

By the time we made it back north to Illinois, February was well along and our closing date on our new house was soon approaching. We vacated our little spot at our son’s and returned full access of the bathroom to the grandsons and took up “permanent” residence here in Aurora. There’s much to do and some repairs which have already begun, but it’s now HOME! There’s furniture to purchase, but it’s now HOME! There’s weeding out to do, but it’s now HOME!  And, there’s writing to get back to, and NOW… THAT IS HOME!

I’d rather take a beating than move!

Ever wonder what life is like when you suddenly have to prepare to move out of your house in less than a month because there’s a buyer who has agreed to pay your asking price and has essentially sold her home in a very short amount of time and will be needing to move in much sooner than expected? Believe me, it’s a good feeling, yet, at the same time, it’s still stressful and not as welcomed as it would have been back a few years ago.

My comfortable, retired-way-of-life has suddenly been shaken up and tossed this way and that, and I’m not dealing with it very well. Although I’m all for vacating and moving on, I’m kind of in a dilemma since this is a red-hot, for-sure buyer who knows our place very well and loves everything about it. However, I’m mentally not ready for this because there’s so much “stuff” that needs packed and sorted out, but the fact that there’s a “hot” buyer kind of closes the deal. Because we’re not guaranteed that another buyer will readily be available if we don’t act now, we’re pretty much sure that we’ll be moving out within the next few weeks. Because where we live is not exactly in the hot bed of real estate action, it is our belief that we have to take the first one that comes along– strike while the iron is hot, in other words;

Yes, my wife and I have talked about moving from our home here in the very small town near DeKalb, Illinois, where we have lived since my retirement in June of 2007. This current desire to move all came about when our son and his wife and two sons—our grandsons—moved from a nearby town 11 miles from us, to another one almost 30 miles away. Since being closer to them was the reason we moved out here in the first place upon my retirement, our lovely home is no longer quite the same special retirement residence we had planned on.

True, there’s still yardwork, mowing, snow throwing, and other general maintenance that needs our constant attention. But, quite frankly, I no longer have the desire to attend to most of those happy home owner duties! I guess at my age, I’m very content to sit back and observe someone else driving the lawn tractor or clearing the  driveways and walkways with the trusty snow thrower.

The interesting thing about all of this is that we have no specific place where we want to end up—just as long as it’s within a much shorter driving distance to our kids! Of course, it will mean moving right back closer to the suburbs of Chicago—where we packed up and moved from in 2007—but I’m slowly adjusting to that eventuality. 

I’m not toally sold on this whole idea of moving. A wise man once told me that he’d “rather take a beating than have to move,” and I am in full agreement with him on that because I don’t even want to think about all that lies ahead in the process of getting out of here and into storage and, somewhere, on our next stage of this adventure! So it goes. For now, Stay tuned…

That magic summer…

images-1.jpegIt was summer 1964. The railroad had just transferred my dad from Huntington, Indiana, to Ashland, Ohio, and we were in the process of moving. At first I had been enthusiastic about it all, but then as summer rolled around, and my Pony League baseball season with it, I wasn’t so thrilled about the move at all.

As things developed, we had a pretty good team, and I was patrolling center field, making catches that, in distant recollection now, still amaze me! And I actually was hitting the ball more consistently. And it wasn’t only me. Every other player on that team had somehow metamorphosed into steady players and excellent teammates.

It’s pretty much a cliché now to say that we “came together” that summer, but I know of no other way to put it, nor can I think of another group, club, team, or organization I’ve ever been a part of and say the same thing about it. We came together, indeed!

Even practices out at an old rural school several times a week were something to which we looked forward to with the eagerness of the typical fourteen year olds that we were. Often, my good friend and I would pedal our bikes the three or four miles out to the school and meet up with the others. Along the way, we’d have serious discussions about when I was images-3.jpeggoing to have to leave for Ohio and what it would do to our friendship.

As much as I wanted to put those kinds of thoughts out of my head and focus on baseball, there was always something there to remind me about how things were soon going to change in my life. I never wanted to admit that I would be a long way from the friends I’d known most of my life, so I usually tried not to take any of it too seriously.

On the last day of school that year, several parents had a graduation party for us, kind of an “end-of-junior high-getting-ready-for-high school” gathering. During the party, it seems that all anyone wanted to talk about when I was around was how I felt about having to move. I put on a fake persona, one where I shrugged it off and joked about it all, but, truth be told, I was really torn up inside.

And that’s where that summer’s magical baseball season helped. Why we–a ragtag group of basically mediocre ball players–turned into a championship team, is still beyond my wildest sense of reasoning. But we did, winning the championship with stellar pitching, timely hitting, and game-saving defense along the way.

Meanwhile, my parents and my sisters had made the move to our new home in Ohio in Unknown.pngearly August, but I still had a few weeks left of the season. I was invited to spend those days at my good friend’s house so I could finish out. Plus, I had been selected to be the starting center fielder for the All-Star Game, and I couldn’t miss out on that honor.

Somewhere in my “vault” of treasured memories and other pieces of my past is a faded newspaper article about our team winning the championship that summer. There’s an accompanying team photo with our smiling faces as we hold our trophies proudly and throw out endless wisecracks. We’re all sweaty, dirty, and very happy!

What I recall most clearly, though, was that the day after the photo appeared in the paper, I was on a train traveling to my new home in a strange and unfamiliar place and wondering what lay ahead, and the magic of that team of mine tucked away forever.

We all vowed to stay in touch and get together whenever the opportunity presented itself. For a time we did. But we all grew out of being fourteen year olds and our lives found their own varied paths. Eventually, I adjusted to my new surroundings and made some very good friends there. Yet, fifty-two years later, I still remember that magic summer!images-2.jpeg