House number 8

The afternoon of the day we toured what was our eighth (and final) home, I was watching my 8 year old grandson. And the kid was pouncing on my last nerve. I was at my wit’s end, between his shenanigans and the wounds I was still nursing after losing out on house number 7. The least annoying thing the kid did that afternoon, if you can believe it, was to repeat “are we there yet” over and over in a sing-songy voice in the backseat for no less than 15 minutes while I was driving to meet up with Hubs to check out this house.

I actually got to such a frazzled state that day that I barked to Hubs on our way to house number 8 something to the effect of “let’s just go back to Colorado”. A ridiculous thing to say, indeed. But we all say ridiculous things when we are at the end of our mental ropes, right?

The house has deeded access to a lake. It’s own dock. A beautiful flower garden out front that attracts butterflies. A patch of blueberries and strawberries. 3 larger vegetable gardens. Then there’s a small deck, a cozy sun room and beautiful flooring. There’s both an attached and a detached garage (aka man cave/party room). Hubs and I are thrilled that our offer was accepted.

It was just what we were looking for this whole time. Well-priced, easy access to water for pontooning and fishing, not too far away from the in laws and our daughter and grandson. And not a fixer upper (unlike the previous house we bid on).

The current owners of House number 8 offered to sell us much of the furniture. We, of course, were not looking at the furniture when we first saw the house. So, the owners allowed us to come over one night last week to take a look at all they were trying to unload so we could make some decisions.

On the dining room table was a note from them to us. In this note, they congratulated us on our new home and said they think we will love it. They also said they had picked veggies from the garden for us and we could just grab them from the fridge. They signed the note and supplied us with their personal cell phone numbers, stating to give them a call with any questions re: the house.

As Hubs has a green thumb and I’m eager to learn his ways, we were so appreciative that the owners also included a hand-written diagram of the gardens.

Wow, right? So thoughtful and kind. We came home with green beans, zucchini, kale, and cucumbers; as well as a damn good feeling about moving to this house.

I’m so glad we moved here, to “Minnesconsin”, (we are a very short drive to Minnesota, which delights me no end).

Thanks for your well wishes on us finding “the one”, friends.

Time for a Musical Interlude

The following was written by me on 7/18/22.

Hubs and I put an offer in on a house. It’s a fixer upper but it’s on a river. Waterfront, baby!

The offer hasn’t been accepted yet, and I’m all kinds of anxious about it. I need to slow my roll. Be patient and not get ahead of myself by imagining how we’re going to fix the place up.

Because for all I know, it won’t end up being “the one”. House-hunting is a strange experience in this life. While I appreciate the fact that Hubs and I have the ability to be homeowners in this country, it requires some serious grit. It’s torturous.

This is why, my friends, you are getting a post about the wonderful distraction of music from me today. I need to focus on something other than this house hunting bullshit. If you’re a regular reading of my ramblings who appreciates music even half as much as me, you might like a break such as this too.

Update: Still 7/18, just much later on. Some other dope offered cash to the seller. I imagine one of those wealthy investors. They must have seen all the potential that we did in that house. Back to it, I guess.

Now back to the point of this post: which is A) introducing you all to a unique and talented artist, B) musing about the earworms in my head, and C) sharing song related anecdotes.

The one musical group on a loop in my head since this summer began is ABBA. It’s probably on account of us having the 70’s channel on Sirius XM on regular rotation while we are tooling around Wisconsin in the Tacoma.

“Knowing me, Knowing You” is especially embedded in my brain.

Something I realized listening to the 70’s channel and regular old radio this summer is just how many simply gorgeous songs came from that era and beyond. Like “Suddenly” by Billy Ocean, “Sail On” by the Commodores, and “Oh Girl” by the “Chi-Lites”. Just sweet, lovely songs that get forgotten over time.

In other music-in-my-head news, the song “I Just Haven’t Met You Yet” by that corny crooner (“cornoner”?) Michael Buble, is a major earworm for me these days.

Clearly, this song is in reference to our house-hunting journey. Maybe the song will get out of my head once we actually close on the home we purchase here in beautiful northwest Wisconsin.

There is a fantastic radio station, The Current, which is owned by MPR and based out of the Twin Cities. Hubs and I had sort of forgotten about this station when we were still in Colorado, despite being able to stream it. We were listening to it in our camper the other night and a song came on that really caught my attention. It’s by an artist I don’t think I’d ever heard of: Orville Peck.

Of course I had to google him out of curiosity and learned he is an artist like “Sia”, as he keeps his face covered when in public . I think it’s sort of odd, but yet cool. The mystery of it intrigues me, though his voice intrigues me much more.

I think the song “Unconditional (Look Out Kid)” by Arcade Fire is awesome. It feels to me like a love song from Gen X to Millenials and Gen Z. I would love to be in the audience at one of their concerts, singing along with the “Do do do do do do do do do do do” part. They are playing in Minneapolist this fall, so maybe I’ll get that chance.

Our daughter and grandson recently moved to a nearby town where the writer of Daughter’s “go to” Karaoke song grew up. I love “coincidences” like that, don’t you? Below is a video of that song.

The biggest item on our wish list, besides a place to live that isn’t mobile, is a pontoon. I’m not much of a country music fan (especially the newer stuff), but sometimes there’s just a song that I love despite myself. We all have those, right?

Please tell me: what are yours? Or how about your current playlist and/or earworm in your head these days?

House Hunting Amidst the Chaos

I think we Americans are at the very start of a revolution.

All of us are pissed about something. And rightfully so.

I’m beyond pissed that Roe v. Wade is now part of our past. I’m pissed that a woman in a black robe agreed it should be. And that the rest of them that agreed with her are all men. I’m pissed that SCOTUS has devolved into an entity that we can no longer trust.

Others are mad pissed about the price of gas or increased inflation. It’s all they can talk about to anyone who they think might listen.

Some are pissed that Trump isn’t behind bars already where he fucking belongs.

I am looking forward to a beautiful blue tsunami in November.

Amidst all of this, life carries on for all of us.

Me and mine are in a good place, here in Wisconsin in the summertime.

Hubs and I, along with our furry pal Radar, are living in our camper in his parents yard, while we are house-hunting here in beautiful northwest Wisconsin. Our daughter and grandson are bunking inside the house, until they move into their new apartment next week.

It’s been interesting, living in such a small space. I’m thankful that it’s temporary, but having less stuff is kinda nice. It’s simple. Less to clean. Less to manage. I actually appreciate the challenge of having to organize things in this space. It really brings out my resourcefulness. It turns out that the shower in our camper can double as a closet, thanks to a simple, inexpensive shower rod (and the ability we have to use the shower indoors).

I regret all that time I spent on my computer, househunting, in the months leading up to this period of time. As if even one of the houses that piqued my interest was still going to be for sale once we got here, sorted ourselves out, and actually had the time, energy, and resources to begin the bona fide hunt.

It’s not as much fun as I remembered it being, this house hunting. It’s aggravating. It’s frought with disappointment. Like what we thought was the absolute perfect house on the Apple River, which turned out to be too rural for high speed internet (a must for Hubs to work from home). Like the house on a lake that looked spectacular online but had the weirdest layout I’ve ever seen (kitchen and dining room in the basement and oddly shaped unused space on the main level).

Hubs and I are grateful, however, to be here. We are grateful that our townhome in Colorado sold quickly and for more than the listing price. And we are determined to find our next house here. We’ve agreed that our backup plan, should we not find the right house by the end of the summer, will be to purchase a less expensive home in town, not on the waterfront, to live in for a couple of years while we work and save to buy a piece of waterfront property and build the house we really want.

Hopefully we won’t have to go that route. I mean, who wants to tack on another move after this big move? Not me. But we’ll do it if it means not spending the winter living in our camper.

We just gotta take things in stride.

At The Moment

Is it starting to feel like summer where you live? Are the kids you know and love all graduated and working towards getting ready for their next chapter? Are you eagerly anticipating the next great summer pop song?

I’m cautiously optimistic about this new life that we, as a couple, are going to craft beginning this summer, in Wisconsin.

Hubs, our good boy Radar, and I will be hitting the road in less than 24 hours.

Towing this:

Our summer home!

But for this brief moment in time (aka me trying to remember that #thistooshallpass), things in these parts are super wonky.

Examples:

There is a box of cleaning supplies sitting on top of Hubs’ office chair at this moment.

My dining room table is filled with a combination of disposable grocery bags filled with clothes that need to be put in our camper, 2 old computer monitors , recently found plastic easter eggs with jelly beans inside them (score!), and a parking ticket courtesy of the city of Denver (my bad-but hey I got it paid online just now!).

We cannot park our Tacoma in the garage any longer. It’s filled with stuff for the movers to put in their truck, stuff for the junkyard dogs to pick up, and whatnot.

But that’s the sucky part of moving, right? And it’s almost over.

Did you know that prairie dogs are plentiful in Colorado? Well, now you do!

Hubs and I will be celebrating our recent 32nd wedding anniversary on the road, as we make our way to our next (and final?) destination. To find our “forever” home, as they say. The home we will die in. Or maybe not actually physically die in. I will just say the odds are that it’ll be the house in which we reside when we take our final breaths.

Ok, that’s just dark. Sorry folks, my anxiety is showing.

Really, what Hubs and I will be doing on our cruise through the upper Midwest is a lot of talking. We collectively have some shit to process. Stuff to discuss. Ideas to share. Plans to make. Pages to get on.

But also: the two of us have this unfettered opportunity to cut loose and have some fun. Maybe try some new food and drink, discover new places to rest our heads at night, and just sort of savor the quiet.

I am trying to resist the temptation to segue into how I hope for things to turn out beyond this road trip. Once we’ve landed in small town Wisconsin and reunited with our family and old friends.

At the moment, however, I’m going to make the wise choice and live in the here and now. Give myself and Hubs the “present” of being plugged into our present.

Raise a glass with me, friends! Cheers to a happy, fun, and safe summer!

8 Things I Can’t Get Behind

I haven’t published a blog post in a couple of weeks. That makes me crabby. Other things in my life are making me crabby as well. I have faith I will get through it, however, and the crabby-ness will dissipate over time.

In the spirit of crabbiness, I present to you the 8 (random and completely unrelated to each other) things I cannot get behind. If you’re feeling crabby like I am right now, I encourage you to share in the comments the things you personally cannot get behind as well.

Misery loves company and all that.

This post might indicate a need for me to trash my “tag line” on the home page of this blog, which reads: “Tales from an optimist transplanted from Wisconsin to Colorado. Finding silver linings, lifting others up, sharing positively good stuff”.

At the very least, I promise to publish a less pissy post next time.

  • Grown adults wearing cartoon character clothing. I think they look ridiculous. Not that I don’t like to frequently wear my brightly colored LuLuRoe leggings purchased from a local thrift store. So you can take this opinion with a grain of salt I suppose. Just know that if you see me in a Goofy (the dog) sweatshirt in public, something is terribly wrong. I’ve either been kidnapped and forced to wear someone else’s clothes or all my clothes burned in a fire.
  • The phrase “SorryNotSorry”. To me, it’s snotty sounding. Privileged. I do think it was bourne out of good intentions though, as too many of us women run around apologizing all day long for every little thing. I once met someone through a former workplace who wore a necklace with this phrase on it. It made me want to barf.
  • Angry white men. Seriously dudes what in holy hell do you have to be so angry about? You have carte blanche in this world. A free pass to do as you please. Opportunities galore based on being born male and white.
  • Businesses spelling their names incorrectly in a “cutesy” way. Certainly this is done to stand out so that potential customers remember them next time they’re in the market for a new “kar”. Maybe it’s just me but when I see big signs on the highway with purposely misspelled names I cringe.
  • Gender Reveal Parties. You’re having a baby, people! Why put the focus on gender like this? You’ll love the baby no matter the gender, right? If not, you’re just an asshole. Just call it a baby shower FFS and let the gender be a surprise. Don’t even get me started on the phrase “we’re having a baby.”
  • When people wear mis-matched socks. This drove me nuts when my kids did this as teenagers. I assumed they did this because they lacked the motivation to find matching socks (aka laziness). But now when I’m out and about in the world I am seeing people well over the age of 14 wearing two totally different socks on their feet. Why, just why??
  • When people who I am certain have at least finished the 12th grade use poor grammar. Prime example: I should “of” instead of I should “have”. It floors me how often I come across this on social media.
  • Sweet Potatoes. Potatoes should be salty, peppery, buttery…not sweet. I feel like a real weirdo about this because it seems 9 times out of 10 when I’m engaging in foodie conversations with others and I state my disgust of these things, I’m met with “really? Oh, they’re so delicious, especially with brown sugar and marshmallows”.

It’s Just Not Right

For a while there, I thought I was going to be a humorist and that this blog was just the start on my path to becoming the next Erma Bombeck. Or David Sedaris.

Obviously, I have a rich fantasy life.

Now I think it’s more accurate to view myself as a writing enthusiast with a sense of humor.

I say all this because I have some serious shit to say sometimes. Like now.

Because Roe v. Wade could for real be overturned. I was shocked to hear the news of the leaked SCOTUS draft. I suppose I shouldn’t have been, as this has been in the making by the Republicans for some time now.

This is not about me telling you my abortion story. I’ve never had one.

This is me declaring that overturning Roe v. Wade is inhumane. This is me stating that old white men do not deserve to have the power to do this. No one does. This is me saying that I believe (and science backs this up) that an entity that cannot exist outside the womb cannot be “murdered”.

This is me being pissed off and fearful about our future as Americans.

Abortion is health care for women. Women who have underlying health conditions that puts their lives at risk if they carry the fetus to full term. Girls who were sexually assaulted by a male relative that resulted in pregnancy. Single moms who insisted their partner wear a condom but it broke and now they are saddled with the possibility of having a 4th mouth to feed while working 2 jobs.

It is so freaking nuanced, you see? It is not black and white. Every abortion story is unique.

Overturning Roe v. Wade after 50 years is unthinkable to me. The consequences of this would be enormous. Women and girls will die as a result. People will lose their mothers. Their sisters. Their spouses. Their friends.

And then what’s next? Are the Republicans and SCOTUS going to make bi-racial marriage illegal? Are they going to take away the rights of our fellow LGBTQIA Americans to marry?

It’s just not right.

Weight Schmeight

A couple of months ago, when I was still employed, my co-worker Maureen, laughing her head off, presented this book to me. She had discovered it while sorting through donations for the thrift store portion of the non-profit we worked for.

This, I think, is one of the simple things in life to treasure: working with someone who likes and appreciates you. Someone who’s thoughtful, generous, and knows how to make you laugh. I just love this woman. She always lightened my mood.

I read this book shortly after she gave it to me.

It’s important to note that the author, Wendy Reid Crisp, wrote this in 1995. Because of that, some of her commentary is not necessarily applicable or relatable, in my view, to the upper middle-aged women of today. Like me.

Yet there were some bits and pieces that struck a chord with me.

Here’s one excerpt that I have a little something to say about:

“I’m not going to….3. Introduce body parts as topics of conversation.

In New England, there’s a group of women in their sixties who have been friends for forty years and who meet annually for a long weekend at a good spa. Their first event, on Friday night, is an “organ recital”. Everyone recites ad nauseam the state of her organs-heart, uterus, lungs, kidneys-and other anatomical conditions. As it should be, for the rest of the weekend the subject of personal health is taboo”.

I love this. Having a group of friends who get together yearly at a spa sounds fabulous! I’ve had this notion for a while now that someday, I’ll have a girls weekend. My sister will be there along with my “bonus” sister (Hubs’ sister), along with a couple of my girlfriends and a few cousins. We will sip sangria in the mornings, jam out to rocking tunes, and spend time in a pool or lake lounging on giant inflatable flamingos. We will dance, we will laugh, and we will raise a little hell.

It will be epic.

But there’d be one catch: at my girls weekend, on Friday night, we will engage in newfangled version of Ms. Reid-Crisp’s “organ recital”. There will be a designated amount of time (not to exceed one hour) during which we are allowed to freely discuss all things related to our weight. We can bitch about our muffin tops. We can talk about the pros/cons of intermittent fasting. We can swap Keto recipes. But when the timer goes “ding” (yes I will bring a timer) that’s that, ladies.

I might even bring a big old jar that those in the group who utter a word about their weight at any point after our Friday night “recital” will be required to put a dollar in. Kind of like a “sear jar”. All monies collected could later be donated to Planned Parenthood or another non-profit that benefits women.

I say all this because I detest the conversations we women always seem to engage in about our bodies. Our weight issues. It bores me. It seriously irritates me. I don’t like how when one woman will look at a perfectly good tray of delicious cupcakes and make some comment like “I need one of those like I need a hole in my head”. Because then, I feel like I need to “own” the fact that I’m a little fat. Probably 10-15 lbs over what I “should” be based on my height. I always feel compelled to respond by saying I don’t “need” a cupcake either.

Like “hey girlfriend, I’m fat too!”

I just find this troubling. There’s so much more to us women than how we look in our jeans. Or how we think others think we look in our jeans, I suppose.

And there’s so many more interesting topics of conversation, right? The books we’ve been reading, the vacations we’re planning, the new job we are applying for, the state of the world, our favorite movies, who’s pissing us off at work, who’s pissing us off at home, caring for aging parents, fun experiences we’ve shared together, and so very much more.

Sometimes inspiration comes from an unexpected source. Thank you Maureen, and thank you Ms. Reid-Crisp.

***Featured Image courtesy of https://www.healthygirl.co.za/20-healthy-girl-body-positive-quotes/

Ch Ch Ch Changes, Part Two

My first ever post on this blog was entitled “Ch Ch Ch Changes”.

I wrote it as a way to introduce myself. To share the major life transitions that led me to where I was in that particular moment of my life: unemployed and living the “empty-nester” life with Hubs in a new state.

As of April 1st of this year I again am unemployed (by choice). Because of all the things that need to be done. Addressed. Thrown out or given away. Packed.

Our move back to Wisconsin is slated for late May/early June. Between now and then, my mental and physical energy will be split between reviewing the past, savoring the present, and planning for the future.

I, along with my family, are in the throes of transition. I am a bit freaked out and searching for the balance in all of this.

Reviewing the past will include playing the “should it stay or should it go” game with all of our worldly possessions and the reminiscing this will bring about. There are countless pictures and assorted memorabilia to go through. You can no doubt expect blog posts to come out of this.

This is a good thing, because I’ve got some catching up to do. I’ve all but ignored my blog for the last couple of months. Case in point: my 5 year blogging anniversary came and went with zero fanfare.

The present: practicing self-compassion and actual mindfulness, which I now realize I’m only beginning to grasp after using it as a buzzword willy nilly in the recent past. Making memories with my daughter and grandson, as these two will not be living with us indefinitely. Come summer 2022, they will most likely be living in their own place again. Spending quality time with Kid #2, who intends to remain in Colorado while the rest of us are moving to Wisconsin.

The future: staying on top of the housing market in the area of Wisconsin we plan to settle in. Finding the house that will suit us best. One on the waterfront, large enough to host friends and family on the regular. Familiarizing myself, via the internet, with the area and getting a feel for the job market there.

Time is of the essence for me right now. I aim to use it wisely so I can avoid being overwhelmed.

Where Grandma Works

Do you remember where your Grandma worked? Did you ever get to visit her workplace?

To my knowledge, neither of my grandmothers worked outside of the home. It’s entirely possible that one or both of them at some point did work, maybe before I was born, when my parents were still children.

But to me, their only job was being “Grandma”.

One day last week, my daughter and grandson came to visit me at work for a couple of hours.

Fortunately, I work at a very kid-friendly and family-friendly place. My grandson learned the concept of volunteering. He made new friends and picked out a new blanket.

In our food pantry, Beth helped him find a variety of empty boxes to take home to build what he called a “cardboard castle”. He and his mom enjoyed some snacks.

He jumped on the trampoline while chatting with Alicia while she was vacuuming the gym floor. Later, Alicia walked him through the food pantry as if he was a customer as he picked out some food and a new violet (his favorite color) toothbrush on our hygiene rack.

He spent some time in the warehouse with Maureen, sorting through donated clothes and talking about avalanches. She told him that she was happy to make a new friend.

I overheard him as I was on my computer taking care of some admin stuff for the food pantry saying “I love to volunteer!”

It was a good day indeed. That is why I’m sharing it here today. I want to always remember it.

He will turn 8 soon. Due to his time and place in life right now, it’s so beneficial for him to interact with women. Women who are also mothers. Women who work together. Women who show each other respect and work as a team to get the job done.

My heart is full as I write this. I am full of hope for this beautiful, smart, extroverted, and sensitive boy.

At almost 55

Super self-indulgent title, right?

Yet I think it works.

Buckle up while I summarize my current status:

Tomorrow I turn 55. I don’t recall freaking out inside about my birthday since the day I turned 31 (for real). But, I accept it. What’s the alternative? There is none.

Shit, I wouldn’t want to turn back the hands of time even if I could.

While “balance” is my word for 2022, “Moving Forward” is my new mantra. Or “Progress, not Perfection”. It’s a toss up.

In that spirit, off I go.

Hubs and I’s empty nesting status has been on hiatus for the last 13 days. We are now a household of 5, for the time being. It’s nothing I want to delve into on this platform at this time. But it’s important for you to know if you’re going to stick around, because my whole world is in the most transitional period since 2014, and because I know that part of my self-care routine (I despise this overused and abused term but am in the flow and choose not to google synonyms right now) is writing these blog posts. Because it’s going to affect everything you read here from this point on to some degree or other.

I’m determined to focus on the present moment. One day at a time. While of course planning for the near future (aka our move back to Wisconsin). Along with simultaneously doing my best to wrap up the Colorado part of my path in the neatest, most colorful bow, with the exception of my talented artist kid Rabbie and Karl the cockeyed cat, who intend to remain here, work-wise and beyond.

One thing I don’t believe I have done a good job of communicating to you about on this blog is that I love numbers. I find meaning in them. I enjoy making mathematical calculations in my head. I notice numbers all the time. It’s kinda weird.

That, among other reasons, is why I’m going to simply share the Top 5 things that are making me happy these days.

  • Hearing and seeing my almost 8 year old grandson laugh at his own jokes.
  • Having the support of my employer with reducing my weekly hours.
  • Listening to books on Audible (Jen Mann’s most recent one simply spoke to me while making me laugh).
  • Witnessing the bravery of my adult children amidst life’s changes and challenges.
  • Blogging, and the fact that I feel great enthusiasm about writing on topics I haven’t covered in the almost 5 years since I started this blog. The primary topic I’m feeling now is under the umbrella of “Work”.

This song is dedicated to my kids. I think you might like it too.

Tales and commentary from a creative writing enthusiast

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