NO!

We’ve been in the house six weeks now.  After initially feverishly emptying moving boxes for three days, I slowed to a snail’s pace. Tired and overwhelmed by where am I going to put all this stuff? my movements have been slow as ice-cold molasses for days upon days now. Seems silly given that I’ve moved so many times!  I’ve lost count of the moments where I threw my hands up swearing to throw it all out into the street for the next trash pickup.

Yes indeed.  My emotions have been vacillating wildly from “Ah, this is going to work just beautifully” to “How can I love this money pit of a house?” Rocket-man has remained fairly steady with his stream of “No’s.” NO, we cannot afford painters (every room needs painted!). NO, we aren’t going to re-tile the kitchen floor, nor install ceiling fans or even get a new oven. NO to a new toilet too….and NO, we can’t get window treatments for all the windows for awhile.

Sigh.  The list of No’s is long indeed.  Though it’ll never shine as beautifully as our STILL UNSOLD middle-earth abode, we’ve got a lot to do to bring this house up to our standards.  Still, even as I roll my eyes heavenward at the stream of No’s, I am ever-grateful for this roof over my head.  I made sure to tell my hard-working husband too.  He sighs in agreement but corrects me:  “Baby-doll….As much as it pains me to say right now, you’ve got not one but two roofs to be grateful for.”

Ah yes….there is that!  Though stressed (and stretched) over this second mortgage, I cannot help but laugh.

The sounds of a wood-chipper just outside my window is driving The Poodle mad.  A crew has begun clearing the yard from twenty-four years of landscaping, now hopelessly out-of-control and over-grown.  I’ve given up trying to calm The Poodle as we’ve had, it seems, a non-stop stream of workers in the house since we’ve moved in.  We’ve replaced the gas cook-top (the prior one, being the original from 1994, was a thoroughly disgusting eyesore.)  We’ve also had to replace the refrigerator and the dishwasher.  We thought we could breathe for a spell until we found out the dryer wasn’t venting to the outside.  How this was not picked up by the home inspector is beyond our comprehension!  I had no idea that each year some 15,500 fires in homes are due to dryer lint build-up.  Nor the interesting factoid that lint is the Boy Scouts go-to substance for fire-starting!    Naturally we had to address the problem straight-away and though we are down another $1,000 (along with three large cut-outs into the ceiling) I can sleep better knowing that a mountain of dryer lint has been cleared from the basement ceiling!

Perhaps I should donate this pile of lint pulled from my basement ceiling to the Boy Scouts!

And, though we sort-of expected it, the next item to go on the fritz was the hot water heater.  It lost all control last week after twenty-four years of service.  Let’s just say there is nothing like a blistering hot shower to get one’s attention.  So, that’s been replaced too.  Our shiny new water tank was installed Saturday; it took the guys well over five hours to finish the job.  Needless-to-say, The Poodle was beside himself.

Through the incessant barking, I thought of the folks in Texas, Florida, and around the world.  And again, I silently counted my blessings galore.

I’ve still got some boxes to unpack but it’s all entirely manageable now.  Despite needing to paint I’ve placed pictures on the wall and the house echoes much less from it’s previously empty state.   I’m far less agitated (OK, mostly.  I’m this close to sending The Poodle packing!).  I’m less exhausted (though it will surely set in again once we start painting some rooms!)  and finally, I’m just starting to feel at home.   Just the other evening I got to share in the joy of my sis and her husband as they watched their son handle his first cello experience.   A joyful heart carried me well into the next day!

Yes, we are slowly settling into our new normal in Northern Virginia, praying as we exhale that we can catch a break (that would be SELL THE ALBATROSS) and hope another shoe does not drop.

Seriously, rest assured; aside from the list of No’s…there is plenty of bliss to be found.

 

It’s All Little Stuff

It’s been a difficult week.

With miles to go before it’s all done, I’m tired beyond belief from unpacking. Fatigue and soreness from hauling boxes up and down stairs along with finding so many things that need fixing has me struggling just a bit to find bliss in my new abode. We made this choice and we certainly own it….still, it will likely take time for me to fall head-over-heels with our new home. Scorpions aside, our middle-earth home (still unsold) was nearly perfect in every way. It was love at first sight: from the moment we moved into that house we sat back and relaxed (mostly), in awe of it all. Fear not….I’ve made progress on getting my head into a more contented place. Another room of boxes has been emptied. The guest room is shaping up satisfactorily. Once I made the bed and placed the crucifix that mom painted with flowers on it above the iron bed I was able to smile–even hum a tune– allowing acceptance over the new order of things to wash over me.

The Poodle sits in the doorway of the sunlit-filled room as I adjust pillows on the guest bed. With a final smoothing of the quilt I turn to him. “This will do, don’t you think? I say. His head tilts to one side.

The room just needs a good coat of paint….along with the rest of the house.

Ah….Yes, I know. Sigh.

My world, filled with worries and weariness, pales in comparison to the souls in Texas and Louisiana. As I watch the devastation unfold on T.V. and social media I can only imagine –as I sit with a roof over my head–the depth of despair these folks are experiencing as they live through the catastrophe of Harvey.

I struggle loving my new abode but oh I’m ever mindful that in the blink of a second this all could be gone! I curse that I cannot fit a cookie sheet into my Lilliputian-sized oven while in the same breath I heave a heavy sigh for lives –and homes–upended and lost to Harvey. Cracked floor tiles are inconsequential in the scheme of things as is the likelihood of yet another hefty expense because our dryer isn’t venting to the outside. Inhale, exhale. I fight the feeling of being completely overwhelmed yet again.

It’s all little stuff !

My stone Buddha, its features chiseled away by five years of weather as it sat in our Alabama back yard has a new home on our front doorstep. Lizards may not find refuge here as they did in middle-earth but it’s my hope all who come to visit will feel peace and love as they step through our door.

So, while it has been one frustrating thing after the other this week I count my blessings, great and small. I have a roof over my head and a new refrigerator to hold my food. Family and loving hugs are seventy steps from my back door and The Poodle is glued to my side. Better still, Rocket-man has safely made his way home again from his travels.

I have all that I need. But my heart is heavy for those who do not.

Peanut Butter Days Ahead

This is not easy. It should be. After all, I have waited 22 months for this day.

I'm standing in the kitchen admiring once again my gas cook top. Six burners with hefty burner grates. The cooking area is framed in stone and it has a nifty pot-filler too. Was it just five years ago that I thought the pot-filler odd and frivolous? "I doubt I'll ever use it," I recall saying to Rocket-man back then.

Now it's a kitchen staple that I'll miss, along with my fabulous pantry with it's utterly-cool decorative glass door.

Sigh.

So here we are….officially packing-out of our middle-earth abode….the very house that has been absolutely lovely in every way…the one we cannot seem to sell. Makes one wonder if someone up above is trying to tell us something.

I'm bone-tired today from work that is inevitable when moving. Perhaps this is why my emotions have been all over the map these last few days. For sure, I will not miss the constant battle with the scorpions (killed two just yesterday) nor the large black snake that often drapes itself over the backyard water spigot blending in ever-so-nicely with the black hose attached to said spigot! But I will most certainly miss my neighbors. I'll miss their friendly waves as I walked up and down the hill with The Poodle. And, The Poodle? He is sure to miss his swimming pool fun with the folks behind us. While he dove into their pool after a squeaky ball till near-exhaustion we'd catch up on life events over wine, beer and delicious food. Sadness too tugs at my heart over the imminent loss of Monday night get-togethers with the Girls Night Out bunch. And life will surely be different for quite a while without those evenings with my Rocket-man on the back patio…a glass of wine in hand as we watch flames dance in the outdoor fireplace.

Yes, indeed: We finally have another place to call home, returning to where it began nearly twenty years ago for the two of us. And with that, we've got two mortgages and peanut butter sandwiches for the foreseeable future. Fortunately I love peanut butter (I'm partial to the crunchy variety) so I'm good. Rocket-man? He'll happily eat anything…well, except for eggplant.

I am ever cognizant of the fact that I have a roof over my head and good food on the table. In fact, I am grateful beyond words, and most of the time that feeling of gratefulness keeps me quite happy. But for the grace of God, things could have gone proverbial south for me…and still could! So many souls around the world have neither house nor food in their belly. Still, I'll admit to some negative mutterings under my breath those first few days walking around the new abode over my issues with the house. It's a house that is a far cry from our Alabama beauty. I slap myself on the forehead for this: I knew things would be different. In fact, I was sure beyond doubt that I had mentally steeled myself for it. I was practically giddy as a school-girl over moving again….that familiar military-wife state-of-being over the prospects of a fresh start in a new place. Knowing that the cost of living in Northern Virginia would be much higher we lowered our expectations considerably. And while most of my brain gets it, there is that tiny part that takes over when I least expect it; a menacing cloud that threatens to overshadow all that is good and positive about our new situation.

Oh I'm ever a work in progress.

So, the new place is twenty-four years old (which isn't that old) but with the original kitchen appliances and fixtures. The refrigerator must go along with the dishwasher. The gas cooktop will need replacing before any serious cooking begins. We don't have a pantry nor a lovely wine closet. Floor tiles are cracked in multiple places and don't get me started on the dated bathrooms. And the yard? Oh my heavens the abysmal state it is in! It's not a large yard but it must have become too much for the previous homeowners as it is a jungle of overgrown everything!

Fortunately, there is beauty to be seen in our new abode. And even better yet, my favorite peeps in the whole world are less than a blink away from our front door. Once I dry these tears and get my head back into it's happy place I'm certain my heart won't be as heavy as it feels in this very moment as I stare out into the rain-soaked yard.

I catch sight of The Poodle. He's sitting next to the St. Francis statue, surveying something in the trees in front of him. Ahh…he's back in his kingdom and seems happy for it. He even slept in our bed last night, something he hasn't done for over two months.

I let out another heavy sigh as I get back to the business of sorting stuff for the movers who'll be here in less than 24 hours.

I tell myself change is good and I believe it wholeheartedly. In fact, it's absolutely necessary…even though in the moment, it feels like I'm suffocating in a shroud of fear.

I make a mental note to hold back a jar of chunky peanut butter from the pantry for the drive to Northern Virginia. As I do, a smile creeps in as I think of a certain nine year-old who is waiting for our return.

Back To The Future (sort of)

Here we go... again.

Here we go… again.

So folks… about a month ago, Rocket-man came home following a week of business travel and, in his usual way, he greeted the ecstatic Poodle followed by a peck on the cheek for moi. He deposits his suitcases in the bedroom, unpacks, changes into comfortable attire, and gets himself an ice-cold beer. Drink in hand, he stands in the doorway of the kitchen watching as I prepare dinner.  For the record, I cannot recall what I was cooking up but I do remember chopping a red bell pepper.  Anyhow….

I ask him about his day, in my usual way, and listen with half an ear as I am semi-distracted with chopping my red bell pepper.  Okay…so full disclosure: Sometimes…every so often…well…maybe once a week…. I listen with half and ear when Rocket-man tells me about his work day. Most of the time his acronym-filled talk loses me quickly.  Actually, It’s not that he loses me.  It’s just that I get so fixated in trying to determine what the acronym actually stands for.  By the time I figure it out I’ve lost half of the conversation.   But I digress….

Here I am semi-checked-out in my own little world with my red bell pepper as Rocket-man talks á la Charlie Brown (you know….that “WAHHH-WAH WAH” sound) when the following reaches my consciousness:

…” so let’s go ahead and plan on a move.”

I am wide awake now.

Say what?! A move? Did you say moving?  As in physically leaving this house….this town….As in moving away from MIDDLE-EARTH?!

Quite frankly folks, I’m amazed that I didn’t slice off a finger.

“Yes,” says Rocket-man ever so matter-of-factually, almost as an after-thought–as if he was casually discussing the current weather while looking at his smart-phone App.    “I’ve got approval for working out of Northern Virginia, the Herndon office.  Or it could even be Maryland, near the Baltimore area.”

I almost fainted.

“You’re kidding me right?” I ask incredulously.  “I mean, here you are just casually mentioning this now after several phone calls to each other over the course of today and a good half hour after you get in the door?!”

“I’ve had a lot on my plate today,” he says adding; “I’m sorry that I’m just mentioning this now.  So,  well…what do you think about the proposal?”

“It’ll be like our back to the future…sort-of.”  I say with excitement, abandoning all efforts to prepare dinner.  “After all It’s where it all began for us (nearly 18 years ago)…unless of course we end up in Maryland which, though we’ve stomped through some of that State when we ran our 50-milers, it will be new territory to call home.  And…we’ll practically be neighbors to my sis and her family!”  Rocket-man sets down his beer and gives me a strong hug.

“It’s going to be really tough to leave this beautiful house.  It’s the loveliest house I’ve ever lived in…but I knew from the beginning, this wasn’t going to be forever.” I say softly.

“I know,” says Rocket-man surveying our lovely back yard through the dining-room window.  “But for a host of reasons, it’s going to be for the best.”

Leaving wonderful folks behind.  That’s going to be tough.  Leaving the land of  insect-hell, cyclist-hating redneck dogs, and supremely s-l-o-w internet; Definitely, not tough.

By the next day I had 25 boxes packed.  I’ve been a mad-woman de-cluttering the house, cleaning in true military wife fashion (well, former military wife), and now have the house photo-ready for the real estate agent.

Move number #15 ....or so.

Move number #15 ….or so.  I think I’ve lost count actually!

Whew. There you have it.

Another adventure is on the horizon folks!

Stay tuned.