Thursday, August 11, 2016

Happy Birthday Grandpa (a little early)

I was resting on my bed yesterday. I believed in the moment that I wasn't actually asleep, when I was suddenly struck with a thought. I realized that I couldn't remember the last time that I had talked to my grandfather. I was somewhat aghast at that realization. I threw my mind back and back; I thought that maybe we had spoken or seen each other in May or June at a family gathering. I couldn't quite put my finger on when, though. I resolved to call him, in that moment. I recited his phone number in my head and reached (and this should have been a clue) to open my computer.

I felt guilty, as I assume other grown children do, that we hadn't spoken in so long. I was momentarily worried that he would be upset at my prolonged silence, but then I remembered calling him once after a very long absence, one where I had consciously pulled away from him for nearly a year. He had been quite happy to hear my voice. Armed with that memory I knew he would simply be happy that I called today. I also reasoned that if he wanted to speak with me, he would have called me.

It took several minutes of what I now realize was my slow coming to wakefulness, before I remembered that Grandpa was dead and has been for a dozen years. I'l be honest that one of the first things I did upon that realization was to worry that I forgot he was dead. Am I developing dementia?!?

Once I moved beyond the multiple bouts of near panic, I realized that I miss Grandpa, and it kinda hurts. Do I sound surprised? I am a bit. I loved him, I did. When I was a little girl we were so close. When I was a teenager we fought constantly. As a young adult, although he could be very supportive, he could also be grossly negative about my choices in life, railing against a foolish decision or even many logical ones. After my grandmother died, he and I lived on a roller coaster of emotional ups and downs. He fell into a deep depression and become very verbally abusive. A few years before he died I had to cut off contact in order to save my own waning sanity. We reconciled when he got sick and had some really lovely closure in his last days. Still, some part of me resents him for the years of verbal abuse.

I mourned him deeply when he died, so much so I had difficulty getting out of bed for weeks. Since then I've been very grateful for the generosity of his will and have a lovely home in large part because of him. But I haven't missed him in a long, long time.

So despite the sudden pain, I am happy to miss him again. He would have been ninety-eight in a few weeks. Happy Birthday Grandpa. I love you. I miss you. Thank you.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Revisiting, Remembering, and Beginning Anew

I have moved to an area where my grandmother spent part of her youth, my mother spent several of her adult years, and that I visited often in my 20s.

My grandmother lived on the block directly behind me. I discovered this shortly after we had settled into our new home. I renewed my membership and created a Family Tree, so I have been floundering about in the world of genealogy. A 1930 census record shows Gram living with her mother, step-father and uncle. They rented, but the house number listed doesn't match any of the existing houses. I often walk down the quiet one block long street and feel a sense of closeness to the woman I lost more than 20 years ago.

At one point my mother lived in Potter Valley with one of her husbands (was it four or five or six?). I have come to realize that most of the interactions with my mother were toxic on some level. The most healthy face-to-face moments took place in that valley about 25 minutes from my new home. I drove there recently; the signs, and GPS, pointed me deeper and deeper into a quiet and sprawling green valley. The drive was a beautiful as I remember, although very little looked or felt familiar.

Main Street in downtown Potter Valley is 2.2 miles long. There are only a few blocks, and a few buildings including a saloon, fire department, school, community center, post office, church and a several homes. My memory places my mother's home in a cluster of buildings that at the time seemed to be hotel room converted to tiny apartments. I remember apartments along one side of the property across from an empty swimming pool. The only potential match between my past and the town's present is a complex with more than double the number of apartments and no swimming pool.

One particularly rainy winter in 1986 I was stranded in Ukiah by El Nino rain. My girlfriend and I had taken the long drive from San Francisco so she could see the boy she liked. Jim lived with his brother John in a two bedroom house they had just rented. It looked like it had been recently renovated and sported a cute back deck. I know this little house is somewhere in my new neighborhood, but I have yet to find it.

The other place that holds a special memory for me is a picnic spot next to Orrs Creek just beyond the outskirts of town. I have yet to find that spot, but there are several beautiful areas along that creek that give me joy.

Moving to Ukiah feels like going backwards and forwards simultaneously.The town and surrounding area are deeply embedded in my past. My future is now rooted solidly in my new home, a secure career, and the chance to live alone with my husband for the first time.

I still miss my grandmother at times; I don't miss my mother, although I do mourn the potential she let slip through her fingers. I am fond of that the young woman I was, but I am thoroughly enjoying the woman I have become. I am quite excited about moving forward as I begin anew.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Househunting Chronicles: Dismantling and Restarting

This is the last full weekend the hubby and I will be spending in the Petaluma house. As I take a short break from packing I feel relieved that most of the shelves are empty and boxes are stacked neatly across the room. Most of the house is in a similar state.

A few short weeks ago I was feeling pretty panicked that we wouldn't be packed and ready to move in time. But we now have movers scheduled, incredible friends who spent hours and hour helping us pack, four truckloads of boxes and outdoor furniture already in Ukiah and it looks like it is all downhill from here.

A few dozen fine friends and neighbors stopped by last night to wish us a fond farewell as we embark on our new adventure. It's been a very long year and a half since I landed an incredible job. My body is looking forward to swapping a one and a half hour one-way commute for an eleven minute one. The changes needed to get here have been very incremental; sometimes it really felt like this would never happen. We started looking at houses a year ago! Now we have a lovely, lovely new home to settle into, so we continue to dismantle the old home to restart our life together.

Monday, January 11, 2016

House Hunting Chronicles: Is the End in Sight? or So Many Moving Parts

Our house has been on the market forever! Okay, only five months, but it feels like forever.

The general attitude of people who have been inside our house is one of utter disbelief and confusion that it has not yet sold. The feedback from agents and potential buyers includes the valid (concerns about the neighbors to the south of us) and the strange (it's so far from the street). The neighbors have been dealt with, but I can't move the house. I think we confused people when we increased the price a few months ago. In my defense, the comparable houses were selling for much more than our asking price, and I was worried the house wasn't selling because we devalued it by asking too little.

Suddenly this last week there has been a flurry of renewed interest. In the last few days 8 new people have saved our house on Zillow and the stack of flyers posted by the For Sale sign seemed to have, forgive the pun, flown away.

The house we REALLY want was taken off the market back in July and rented. We made an offer on that house last week. They have accepted the offer, so we are in escrow for a new home. Two days later we received an offer on our current house. After a little back and forth, we accepted the offer and escrow begins today.

This MAY happen. The End may be in sight! BUT there are a lot of moving parts and many people involved. Each set of buyers has their own real estate agent, and their own mortgage people, plus inspections and disclosures and reports to wade through. Competing interests, distance, renters, and schedules all play a part. We are trying to balance feeling very excited and cautiously optimistic.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

House Hunting Chronicles: We're Still Here

A full six weeks and still no sale.

We seem to have put our house on the market at an odd time in the calendar: August. Most schools in the area were back in session the following week, so any families who were once interested in relocating were immersed in back-t0-school activities. Shortly after that, we had a triple digit heat wave. Then a volatile stock market was the topic of concern. The next thing we knew, we were in the midst of Labor Day weekend. Two open houses were held in that first few weeks and only a few requests for private viewings.

Then things picked up, just a smidgen. After weeks of cleaning every morning and every night, avoiding cooking (to avoid extensive kitchen cleaning and odor abatement), paying someone regularly to clean the house top to bottom, the requests for private showings picked up. One couple from out of state expressed interest, as has an investor. We are, however, still waiting for offers.

I could complain about how tired I am, how much my back hurts from the daily 3-hour round-trip commute; I could complain about living with a fraction of my possession, clothes and general use items (because the house is staged to look like it could be lived in, not that it is lived in). I could complain about the lack of time for a social life or seeing my grandkids less often than I like; I could fret out loud about the fact that I am falling behind at work and haven't yet prepped for my tenure committee meeting next week, or plenty of other things.

That all sounds so depressing.

Things I am happy about and grateful for: living alone with my husband for the first time ever, my job, the newest grandbaby, and all the small things that make me happy like a PM with a Facebook friend and wonderful and supportive friends.

We are certainly learning how to clean up after ourselves more often (like every time we move an inch) and appreciate meal planning more than ever before. The house looks great, if not a little bit sterile.

So for the moment, we're still here.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

House Hunting Chronicles: Are we there yet?

Our youngest daughter has safely moved out of state.

Our son and his family have purchased their own home and are settling in nicely.

Our home is patched, painted, scrubbed, uncluttered, staged and on the market.

Damn we are tired!

So far no bites on the house.

So far no definitive choice to purchase in Ukiah.

Have I mentioned that we are tired?

Are we there yet????

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

House-Hunting Chronicles: Anticipation

I don't always do well with suspense or most forms of anticipation, really. If we are watching a particularly suspenseful show on TV, I often walk out of the room and return once the story-line tension is broken. I hate waiting to find out what will happen in my soaps, so I am a spoiler-finder-expert. If I am living with suspense too long in my regular life, my sleep patterns become fragmented, I am more and more edgy, and then the anxiety begins to rise until it results in a panic attack (or two, or more).

As a grown woman, I have certainly learned to live with some

And sometimes it's fun.

Right now, not so much.

The daughter has moved to Oregon; the son and soon-to-be-daughter-in-law have signed papers for their new home and will take possession either Friday or Monday. The hubby and I are taking one last trek to Ukiah to look for potential homes next week. With any luck, we will have our current house on the market in a few weeks.

The list of To-Do items is shrinking in an odd sort of way. Some items have been there for months, others come and go in a few hours, and of course there are always newer, smaller details, to add. The big, costly fixes are completed. Family photos are boxed as is anything we can live without for a few months. The deep cleaning, rearranging and staging has begun.

Anticipation is HIGH!

Two nights ago I was up awake all night, my mind pinging from one idea, one worry to the next, bobbing and weaving through the yawns. I tossed and turned, got up and stretched, went downstairs to sleep on the couch in the cool air next to an open window. Even though I wasn't checking the status of the homes we like online, I could see the pics in my mind's eye every time I closed my lids. Long term, this can be really bad for my health. I am in NO mood for another hospital stay. Something has to be done.

So, I'm trying some different things to help. I already walk every day. I already eat pretty well. What else? Last night I spend some time with guided meditation and a sleep aid; I slept through the night for the fist time in months. It was such a relief. Today I did some cleaning and some grading (I am still teaching summer school online). I'm trying to focus on the many tiny steps of the process, on the positive, on breathing. I'm trying to be in, and enjoy the moment.

Max is trying to show me how it's done.