Hubs and I are in the new house and mostly settled, at long last.
This is me, coming up for air.
This is also me, who has made a self-promise to not overthink the writing of this post.
I am in love with our new house. I’m deeply into the “nesting” stage of this process and I’m enjoying the hell out of it.
I’m going to avoid the temptation to regale you with the saga that was working with our moving company, and the relocation services company that I overpaid to hire them. I say this not only because I’m more dedicated than ever to find and celebrate the good, but this saga began at the end of April and ended, thankfully, at the end of August. And I’m so over it.
Let me just tell you about the “nesting” process I am currently basking in.
It’s reminiscent of 30 odd years ago when I was about to give birth to my first baby. It’s this burst of energy coupled with hopes for the future and it compels me to organize, decorate, and bake.
I’ve been shopping a lot on Wayfair and Etsy, in search of just the right things to craft this joint into our dream home. To get the aesthetic right. It’s fun to get packages most every day; it’s like Christmas for me!
I feel so fricking blessed, lucky, and deep-in-my-bones happy right now.
In the spirit of efficiency with your time and mine, here’s a few pics of the house at the moment. I’m determined to keep things simple these days. Plus, I have zucchini muffins to make using the zucchinis in our garden today.
It’s Sunday morning and I’m in the camper (aka our current home) with Hubs and Radar.
Radar is sitting across from me at the dinette, thoroughly engrossed in licking his nether regions. He’s on the bench seat that I keep covered in a beach towel for his comfort each night.
The summer is almost over.
The summer of 2022 has been a little wild for me. Certainly strange. There’s been some surprises (of which I am generally a fan), good and bad in unequal measure.
What’s your take on life’s surprises?
This summer has also been invigorating: the fresh and clean breezes, frequent deer sightings, the birdsongs. Stimulating but also grounding for me. Radar making new friends.
It’s been a memorable season of our married life for sure. Living in a 21 foot camper for more than 2 months has been interesting, to say the least. We’ve joked that moving about the camper simultaneously is like playing “Twister”.
This upending of our lives to move back to Wisconsin has made me more acutely aware of a slew of things; namely the things, ideals, and people I will die on a hill for. It’s solidified my priorities. Given me more clarity.
I can now see more clearly how I want to live. I’m devoted to learning and growing, from my creative writing habit to gardening to grandparenting. My MIL has offered to teach me how to can, using the vegetables in our new-to-us garden. And I’m eager to get back to learning how to play my ukelele.
I think I just seriously aged myself in that last paragraph.
Maybe I will learn how to play and sing along to this lovely medley:
We are now less than 2 weeks out from moving into our sweet new house.
I’m aiming to do more of the enjoying of the present than wishing the time away.
But. It’s. Hard.
Because my head is swimming with ideas about what furniture is going to go where in the new house. The color schemes in each room. Where that beautiful new art piece with the lillies is going to be hung.
I’m missing our youngest, who has remained in Colorado. Though I am a bit less worried now about how they are going to fare without us a half hour drive away than I was when we arrived in Minnesconsin land in June. They now work at a place where they get to provide direct support to a very marginalized population. I am incredibly proud of them and hopeful they will persist, as I’m certain that workplace is better with them in their presence. And vice-versa.
While his mom’s at work, I’m taking care of our 8 year old grandson for several days between now and when we move into our house. 3rd grade in a new school starts right after we move in.
I think it’s fair to say that as a grandma, I’m a work in progress. I continue to learn as I go. But I’m up for it. The kid is so worth it. He’s been through a lot. So many changes in a short period of time.
My grandson is very bright, but also quite oppositional and reactionary. He’s also very funny, but sometimes gets carried away with it physically and ends up accidentally hurting himself or wrecking something. Suffice it to say, he requires a lot of energy from me.
Note to self: schedule a massage, STAT!
As you can see, I’m also a work in progress when it comes to self-compassion. I suspect many of you are too.
I have probably said this before in one of my blog posts, but I know for sure that writing these personal essays and getting them out there in the world is, for me, part of my self-compassion practice.
Anyone else feel this way about blogging?
Let me leave you, dear patient readers, with this creative rendition of a classic, feel-good Beatles song. Because life goes on. And as a tik-toker I came upon recently said “we’re not here for a long time, but we’re here for a good time”.
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.
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.
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?
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?
Blogger Troy Headrick’s recent query, asking others to define what the “good” life is, really got me thinking.
Instead of responding in the comments section of his post, I’ve decided to write about it here on my blog.
If asked this question while I was growing up in middle class northern Minnesota in the 70’s and 80’s, my answer would have been something like this: the “good” life means you have oodles of money at your disposal. It means others envy you, as you sip champagne on your yacht with a perfectly coiffed poodle on your lap. The “good” life means you have connections to powerful people and you live in a luxurious home. Actually, if you’re living the “good” life you have several luxurious homes in multiple locales. You enjoy a globe-trotting existence with not a care in the world. You are unencumbered by any responsibilities.
In other words, the good life was unattainable. A mere fantasy. And, truth be told, pretty damn shallow.
Later in my life, probably somewhere in my 30’s, my definition of the “good” life became sharper, more defined, more personal. I witnessed my parents, after many years of hard work, building a business together even, retire. They were young-ish at the time. Bonnie would have been right about 60, Babe 67-ish. They had the good fortune of living as middle aged adults during a time where the economy was prosperous. They were healthy and possessed strong work ethics and managed their money exceedingly well.
Their retired life consisted of traveling to Europe, purchasing a cabin on a lake, along with a fifth-wheel trailer which they took down to Gulf Shores, Alabama for several months of the year for probably a dozen years or so. They had so much fun. They most certainly were living the “good” life.
Now that I’m in my 50’s and the kids are grown and largely self-sufficient, the “good” life that I envision for me and Hubs is starting to feel within our grasp.
Here’s what it looks like: a nomad-like existence for a year. Selling our town home and hitting the road. Spending time in all 50 states in our camper. As long as there’s wi-fi, as Hubs says, “I can work anywhere”. Without a mortgage to pay, we can surely manage on his salary alone. Then I would be free to explore. Free to express myself creatively. Free to give of my time, energy, and skills to volunteer somewhere.
After that year has concluded, we would travel in Europe for a month or so, then purchase a new home in Colorado. Preferably a solid, well maintained, 50’s era ranch home that needs a little TLC. Make it ours. Maybe I’d find a part time job in another non-profit that could benefit from my years of experience. Or maybe I’d choose to volunteer at a couple different non-profits instead.
If we continue to be smart with our finances, down the road we could buy a plot of land on a small lake with good fishing opportunities. Build our own cabin, complete with a dock, fire pit, and a large deck that overlooks the water. Friends and family would visit on the regular. We’d have a large garden and we’d host lively holiday gatherings. Now, that would be my definition of the final chapter of the “good” life. Fulfilling experiences, eye-opening adventures, and lots of meaningful connections with others.
How about you all? What, specifically, does the term living the “good” life mean for you?
As any of you that read my blog on the regular are aware, I’ve been in a funk for about the last month. Especially blogging-wise.
You may have noticed that I skipped publishing a blog post yet again last week. But this time, I didn’t mentally beat myself up as much as I usually do. That could be due to some of my followers comments on my last post telling me not to berate myself about it. That they also skip a week or two or three every so often.
From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for that, Christie and Rebecca.
So with that and the increased busyness of my life in general (not complaining here, folks), I’ve working on taking myself off the hook.
I feel like I need to hit the re-set button with this blog. Like in my bones. Because I want to keep blogging, really. But sometimes…not so much.
The overthinking is dragging me down. The indecisiveness about what I want to write about is grating on my nerves. I’ve allowed it to take too much of my mental energy. It’s not as much fun as it used to be.
So I think it might not be the worst idea to ponder why it is that I’m still blogging.
How about you all? Have you ever just thought “Why am I doing this?” Well that’s where I am right now as a blogger.
Bear with me as I share with you the reasons why I blog. I encourage you to share in the comments the reasons why you blog as well. Your honest perspectives would truly interest me.
Blogging helps me to make sense of what I think and how I feel. It’s cathartic for me sometimes. I like the sense of release I feel when I hit that “publish” button.
I selfishly enjoy knowing that when I’m long gone, I will have left words from my heart and brain for my family and friends to access anytime they wish to feel my presence. Kind of like the little notebooks Bonnie wrote in and her recipe box that I nabbed after her funeral. I miss her so much.
The encouraging comments I receive from my readers. They often warm my heart. Often they make me feel understood and validated. Sometimes they make me think of things from a different perspective, which is very valuable to me as a person who strives to enhance my worldview in this crazy world of ours.
Blogging sometimes presents new opportunities for me to pursue. For instance, the newest option of adding a podcast. I’ve always been intrigued at the thought of working as a deejay, and this is a harmless way to give it a shot.
All that being said, the re-set button is being set right now. I’m choosing from this point on to not force myself to publish weekly. But I’m also not quitting this blogging thing.
My hope is that once I stand back and re-assess things for a bit, I’ll come back invigorated and enthusiastic about blogging again.
It truly bothers me that last Wednesday I failed to publish a post as per usual. I don’t have any good reason for that other than that I didn’t feel I had anything new or remotely interesting to say about anything really.
Hence the reason you find yourself reading this post today. I was not willing to skip yet another week. The anxiety would be too much. I’ve committed to this blog like I’ve committed to a relationship (which I suppose this is-between me and all of you wonderful, patient readers). I’m determined not to flake out on you guys.
It’s not like I was feeling depressed. Quite the opposite, really. Life has been peachy as of late. Rabbie has been making more and more sales on their online site and is positioned to take Karl the cat and move on out of here. Like soon. As in we’re heading downtown Denver tomorrow actually to view the first new potential pad.
The other kid, despite being unemployed (directly related to the Covid-19 pandemic) is doing well also. She’s enjoying having more time at home, more time to herself. She’s making ends meet thanks to unemployment benefits and actively searching for solid employment. She had an interview recently for a job that she is very excited about. The pay is higher than her previous job and the benefits are quite outstanding.
Our 7 year old grandson is thriving! He’s been in a new school for a couple of months now and for the first time is excited to go to school every day. His mom held a birthday bash for him last month at the local roller skating rink and it was reported to have been quite the fun bash.
Work at the food pantry is going well. My boss and I are continuously procuring food and distributing it to those in need. I scored us a hefty sum via a state sponsored Covid-19 grant and will be procuring even more food over the next several months.
As far as writing for this blog goes, I’ve gone back to writing whatever it is I’m thinking about each morning directly after I hit the shower. Before I allow myself to go down any social media rabbit holes. And I’ve been writing more at night, after work and before supper. Luckily, my family is agreeable to eating supper as late as 7 p.m.
I am working on a new blog post. It’s the kind where I challenge myself to delve into a topic that piques my curiosity. The kind that takes some actual time and effort, unlike this post you are currently reading. The hope is it’ll be ready for publication next Wednesday.
As Bonnie would say to me over the phone after breathlessly telling me all the latest in her world, “that’s my stories..how are you doing?”
Let me leave you with a new little ditty from one of my all time favorite singer-songwriters, Carole King. Can you believe she is 79?
“It doesn’t matter when you bloom, it matters that you do”. This is a lyric in the song “Late Bloomer” by The Secret Sisters.
Isn’t it powerful? Sweet, comforting, encouraging?
I can relate to the message of this song. I feel that in a lot of ways, I am a “late bloomer”. Especially considering how long it took me to obtain my license as a social worker.
I was 40.
As a freshman English major at a state university in the 1980’s, I took an elective class entitled “Social Welfare”. Within probably a couple of months, I changed my major to Social Work. The idea of getting out there in the world and helping people in a tangible way really appealed to me. Learning more about the injustices in the world made me want to get out there and make a difference in struggling people’s lives. To fight for the rights of the disadvantaged.
I was going to be a Social Worker.
Fast forward about 20 years. I hadn’t achieved that goal yet. Upon graduating with my B.S. in Social Work, I found myself in great need of employment, as Hubs was still in school and only able to work part time. I was unable to find a job in Social Work in our college town, so I found myself working full time as a customer service rep.
Then came my first pregnancy, a short stint in Lubbock, Texas so Hubs could attend grad school, and then a very unexpected second pregnancy. We moved on back to Minnesota at that point so we could be closer to family while we navigated our journey to becoming a family of four.
Life for about the next eight years was a blur of Hubs working rotating shifts forecasting the weather and us doing our best to keep our kids fed, healthy, and safe. The only ambition I had was to earn money to ensure we could maintain a decent standard of living. My dream of becoming a social worker was put on the back burner and I fell into a couple more customer service jobs.
But the dream never really died. After being relocated to Wisconsin for a new job for Hubs, I was hired as a case manager for a non-profit which served adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Finally I had an opportunity to work in the field that meant something to me. I made a lot of great friends and gained valuable experience in the eight years I worked there. The dream truly re-kindled itself during a staffing I attended for one of my clients with their social worker. I had an epiphany: there was nothing this social worker had over me other than a license.
So right around my 40th birthday, I drove to a nearby city and took and passed the test. I had never felt so confident about myself or more in charge of my future than I did in that moment.
I went on to have a great eight years working as a certified Social Worker at a managed care organization, serving adults with physical and intellectual disabilities as well as those with mental health diagnoses. I found myself using the skills and experience I gained in my customer service jobs as well as my case manager job.
I may not be working as a social worker any longer, but I’m blessed to be in a position where I’m connecting people in need to the food they and their families require to thrive, as a food pantry coordinator.
Who else out there identifies as a late bloomer? I’d absolutely love to hear your stories in the comments.
And of course, I’m sharing the song. The video is beyond precious.
What or who is helping you get through this pandemic? What or who is giving you comfort, helping you to remain hopeful, giving you purpose?
I am fortunate in that I have several answers to that question. One of them being my sweet boy, Radar.
It occurred to me recently that within this blog I had been sharing more anecdotes about Karl, our kiddo Rabbie’s sassy cat than I was about Radar. It also occurred to me that for many of us, our pets are the unsung heroes of this strange time.
They are always there for us. Always happy to see us. They don’t judge us for being in a cranky mood. They don’t judge us at all. They don’t ask much of us beyond loving them, ensuring they get outside for fresh air and potty breaks, and feeding them.
I wrote this post back in the summer of 2019, right after we adopted Radar. I loved him then but, amazingly enough, I love him even more now.
I love that he’s such a good boy at night. He fits perfectly into the rocking chair Hubs gave me for my 40th birthday, which now sits in the corner of our bedroom. He sleeps there all night long and when he gets up he offers a big yawn, revealing his extraordinarily long tongue and then he thoroughly stretches out his legs.
I love that when I come home after work, he is the first one to greet me. I only just begin to open the door, and there he is with his nose butting up between the door and the door frame in an effort to get to me as fast as he can.
I love how sometimes when he’s cuddled up with me on the couch at night, I can say his name and he cranks his neck to look at me upside down with his pretty brown eyes.
I love knowing that he is by nature a guard dog (at least half German Shepherd we believe). He would protect us if our house were to be broken into. Any intruders would not have a chance.
I love his puppy playfulness. Hubs and I have never had a dog who loves to play with toys so much. Hubs always told me he wanted to have a dog he could take out into a field and throw around a frisbee with. Radar has gotten some solid training for this through jumping up to catch his favorite, super tough green and blue bone in mid-air at home in the early evenings.
I love Radar’s ears. Sometimes I find them folded back (or I gently fold them back) and I see that sweet black lab in his precious face. Then they will bounce straight back up, revealing his German Shepherd resemblance.
I also love that he’s the kind of dog that everyone loves. Every place we’ve ever taken him he charms all who he meets.
This dog has been such a blessing for me. He reminds me of the importance of playfulness in my day to day routine. He makes me feel appreciated. He comforts me if I’m feeling down. He has increased my general happiness, which has been a huge bonus during this upside down time we are still living in.
He’s my furry, loyal, funny, sweet, smart and loving hero.