Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Moving Misadventures


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

So, it happened. We actually closed on the sale of our house and managed to move out this morning. It sounds much simpler than it was.
Closing was scheduled for Friday. On Thursday, the buyers scheduled a walk-through. I fumed a bit because that was precious time I could have been packing things.
Then the call came from our real estate agent. The washer and dryer were supposed to go with the house. We had just moved them out to Spencer's apartment the weekend before.
This was our second contract. The first one fell through, but the agent asked us whether we planned to leave the washer and dryer. We told her no. So we assumed, she would put that in the 2nd contract too. She didn't. So that was her mistake.
Because the washer and dryer were gone, the buyers wanted them replaced or a $400 credit. We decided the credit would be easiest. Then they changed their mind. They wanted a washer and dryer there and wanted another walk-through to prove that it was working. Obviously, we had no time within the next 24 hours to buy and install a washer and dryer.
They also had another demand that we give them $400 toward electrical things that they wanted fixed. Earl's brother is an electrician and had fixed all their requests, but they brought in another electrician who suggested other fixes.
We offered $400 for the washer and dryer plus $300 for the electrical work. They refused. They wanted an actual washer and dryer installed, plus $500 for electrics — they upped the price. And, to guarantee the washer and dryer worked, they also wanted a $400 check held in escrow.
Earl drew a line in the sand. No. It was the principal of the thing.
The real estate agents both chipped in $100 toward the electrics. We agreed to buy our neighbor's used washer and dryer for $300 (a steal). The escrow check was still tripping us up when we walked into the title office to sign that Friday morning.
The title guy convinced us that his company would hold the washer and dryer check in escrow and would not release it unless all parties (including us) agreed. They also set the deadline for five days so it doesn't drag out. So we agreed.
Saturday was supposed to be spent moving out, but first we needed to move the washer and dryer from our neighbor's basement to our basement.
As they moved the dryer, the heavy-duty cord swung up and hit Earl in the forehead just above his eyebrow, leaving a drop of blood perched against his sweaty brow. When they reached our basement, they realized the plug didn't match the outlet for the dryer. Earl would have to replace the cord so they matched.
My sons went to move the washer. As it started to slip on the stairs, Spencer grabbed the bottom of it and it sliced the web between his thumb and finger. Our neighbor doctored him with a beer before his girlfriend drove him to the urgent care for four stitches and no more help moving things.
At some point, the new owners drove past (spying on us) and noticed the porch swing was gone. They immediately called their real estate agent who called ours, who called us. The porch swing was on hooks so it didn't have to stay. My friend Sheila had asked for it.
Friends stopped by to help as we winnowed down our belongings, still it looked like we couldn't possible finish by 10 a.m. Sunday.
We had optimistically planned to finish Saturday and spend the night at Earl's brother's house. We canceled that plan.
I can't begin to describe so you can feel the physical and emotional exhaustion of Saturday. Without a run, I logged over 19,000 steps just carrying things up and down stairs, out doorways and into pickup trucks -- 46 staircases, my Fitbit says.
Grace dropped by and I made her help me carry a desk and a chest of drawers from the basement to the garage - -I had heard Earl's moans of pain as he tackled another flight of stairs with the new knee he received last month. Grace professed to be exhausted and I stared her down with a look of disdain. She didn't know what exhaustion was.
The house finally empty 
When Noreen and her husband dropped by to pick up the cross country skis and offer to help, they looked around our house with pity. They couldn't see us escaping the items left to move.
"If we were moving to a new house, I'd just tell the movers to pack up everything and I'd sort it when we got there," I explained, " but there isn't a new house. We have to get rid of everything."
Between 5 and 6 p.m., we made three trips to Goodwill, donating bookshelves and ottoman's and bags and bags of books before they closed for the night.

Then we settled in to go through the remaining bookshelves and boxes in the basement. They were things no one else could help with. They were personal -- did we save the newspaper clips with our bylines? Which kids' books would we want to read to our grandchildren? Which letters from friends, family, old boyfriends, siblings would we want to read again someday?
The back room in the basement where we stored everything, finally empty late Saturday night. 
We fell asleep around 11 and woke this morning at 5:30 to finish.
Earl drove the futon we'd slept on to my friend Najah's house at 8. He came home and took a load of things to the storage unit (which has to be emptied by Thursday) then a final load of things to Goodwill at 9.
Spencer stopped by to pick up the small television he wanted to put in his room, along with some weights, a broom and a vacuum. I kept cleaning, making my way toward the back door.
Yes, at 9:40, I stepped out back, Swiffer mop in hand. The house was clean and empty.
Earl had pulled up behind the neighbor's car because Spencer was behind our garage. And, as we were ready to leave, he realized he didn't have the keys to the pickup truck. He'd driven it into the alley, so the key couldn't be far.
We spent a frantic 15 minutes searching for the key, retracing his steps. A neighbor came over to help look as we combed through the snow that had fallen the night before.
Finally, he held up the key which he had dropped into a bag of trash. If you saw how many bags of trash we left, you’d realize The loss of the key could have been a nightmare.
So stitches and lost keys and hopeless thoughts all behind us, I thanked our house one last time for the years of laughter and warmth it had provided, and we drove away.
Then we came back so I could leave the garage door opener for the new owners. And then we really left.
In less than two weeks, we'll be in Florida for Christmas. And in 25 days, I'll be living in France.
Me looking happy because I'm in Frane

The sun rising on a new beginning of my life in France. 
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.


Sunday, December 03, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Goodbyes


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

The goodbyes have begun and it's only my dream of the upcoming life that keeps me going.
Market day in Pezenas, France
We gathered at my house on Friday night with members of the writing group bringing dishes to share. Tomato bisque soup, macaroni and cheese, chicken salad croissants, taco salad, cabbage salad, buffalo chicken dip. Wine and some more wine. And at the end of the evening, hugs and goodbyes.
Writer's Group -- one last hurrah. 
I'll see them again, most of them in the coming weeks. 

Then yesterday, a gathering at my sister-in-law's house with the nieces and nephews. I hugged Ben goodbye. He lives in Dayton finishing his PhD. "I won't see you again," I said. "Not until you come to France."
The great nieces and nephews treat Tucker like a climbing apparatus. 

Benjamin is 2. He won't remember me, except as the aunt who lives in France. 

My boys spending some time outside with their Aunt Shelley --
she may be a bad influence, but they enjoy spending time with her. 
It's all becoming very real.
Then Sunday, after working this weekend to move Spencer out of the house and into his new place,  we took a break from packing to go to a gathering of homeschool friends. It seems silly to say homeschool friends since none of us teach our kids at home any more. Most of our children are in college or graduated from college or working on graduate degrees. Maybe we did something right after all.
Laughs and love with long-time friends.
And for a few hours, we caught up on each other's lives and laughed at memories. I won't see many of these friends again until we revisit the U.S. or they journey to France.
The hugs goodbye were long and accompanied by a few tears.
It's only going to get worse, building toward a crescendo where I must say goodbye to my children and my parents in order to make my dream of living in France come true.
View of Mont Sainte Victoire from Aix en Provence.
I hope I've chosen wisely.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Packing

We have a week before we need to be out of the house, so I’m attempting to pack for France, along with allowing for clothes to wear here at home where it’s cold, and for our 10 days in Florida where it’s warm. 
The other day we received a box of vacuum storage bags. So today I spent time trying to see if all the clothes I plan to take will fit. 
A lot of times I don’t wear very warm clothes because I still get hot flashes. Many times I’m wearing short sleeves or sleeveless dresses with a cardigan so I can strip down at the first sign of inner flush. 
As I packed today, cramming sweaters and warm pajamas in the vacuum bags, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would even wear everything I’m taking along. I winnowed out so many things but I continued to remove dresses and shirts from my pile. 


On television, those vacuum bags look so smooth. Mine looked like vacuum-packed roasts. 


The bags are super heavy now, of course because there’s no air in them. 
I have another suitcase that I plan to pack for our days in Paris and I may take an extra bag to Florida. Before we leave there, I’ll have to fit all those summer clothes into my bags so I can get them to France. 
It’s all an adventure. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dreaming of France -- The Visas Are Here!


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
As all the dominoes fall into place, our dream of living in France gets closer and closer. And last week, the domino that made me nervous crashed into our neighbors mailbox.
The French consulate in Chicago had warned that it could take four weeks for the visas to arrive. Since we would be closing on our house before a month had passed, I had the visas sent to my neighbor's house.
I had already arrived at school to teach an evening class when she texted saying she had received an Express mail envelope for us. I wanted to run right home to get it, but instead, I sent Earl to fetch them and he took a picture, texting it to me in class.





Yay! We are going to live in France.

I also bought train tickets today for our first journey from Paris to a housesit in Nouvelle Aquitaine. Of course, I don't want to have to print off all our train tickets, so I downloaded the app for SNCF -- the train system in France.



Now we scan our tickets before climbing aboard, or when the conductor comes down the aisle.
We can also keep track of all of our train trips on the app, and it's counting down the days for me.
In other preparing to leave news, today we pulled out the suitcases and opened them on the floor. We went through our closets, which we thought we'd winnowed out before the house went on the market, but we continued to find things that we could live without.
Clothes are laying in a pile in the suitcases, ready for the compression bags that I ordered from Amazon this morning. Hopefully, those magic compression bags will make everything fit.
Just a few weeks until we close on our house and less than a month until we leave Columbus behind.
We'll travel to my parents' house to celebrate Christmas, and in January we'll fly to France.
It could still all fall apart, but I'm feeling pretty confident now.
This is it!
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Pause

During this busy holiday weekend, just a pause to tell you that things are better. 
If Spencer and his girlfriend start their morning with Echinacea tea, I feel like everything will eventually fall into place. 


Had a lovely, if loud,  Thanksgiving with my family. My parents from Florida, my brother from Texas, and my nephew from Virginia with his 4 children, including these two little guys. 



Now you see why it was loud. Plus their sisters, 3-year-old Lydia and 2-year-old Lorelei. 

Today, back to my brother’s to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday.


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Leaving Our Kids Behind (A Very Personal Post)


Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
I am dreaming of France. My husband has a countdown and we are scheduled to fly to Paris in 45 days, but sometimes I wonder whether it will happen.
My biggest worry isn't about what I should do with the crystal candle holders or the salt and pepper shakers.


My greatest fear is that my kids aren't ready to face life on their own.
Oh, they're old enough at 25, 24, and 21, but so many times they turn to us for help or with questions.
Right now, I have a twitch in my left eye, and my stomach is roiling as if I might get sick as I sit and worry about one of my boys.
They both decided to travel this weekend, Tucker heading to Detroit, nearly 3 hours away, for an art show, meeting a friend who goes to school there. On his way home, as the rain began to fall and the wind picked up, he topped a hill and saw a pile-up in front of him. He slammed on the brakes and swerved to the left toward the shoulder of the road, but a car was already parked there. His car continued to travel, eeking between the median and the parked car before it stopped. Heart racing, he called to tell me about his near miss. He stopped by today after work to give us a hug and further regain his equilibrium. The almost accident had shaken him up.


Spencer visited his old college this weekend. His friend had a birthday,and he needed to celebrate with him. I asked him not to go. Every time he goes, something bad happens. Last time it was a rear-end accident, not bad, but he got a ticket and although the person's car had no damage, she filed a claim for a soft-tissue injury.
"It's not going to be like that this time," he promised.
And, although he forgot to text me when he arrived at his friend's apartment 90 minutes away, he texted on Saturday morning to let me know that all was well.
Today, Sunday, Earl and I had planned a day packing up things in the house. We only have two more weekends and one of those is the holiday weekend. We need to prepare to get out of our house.
But first, we went to buy some new shoes for Earl that he can take to France, a pair of slip on casual shoes and a pair of hiking boots. As we moved toward the checkout counter, my phone rang. Spencer said that his car had been towed. He wanted to know the license plate number so he could check the impound lot.
I didn't know the license plate number, but the insurance card had the ID number for the car. I texted him a picture of the insurance car.
"How much do you think that will cost?" I asked Earl as we drove home.
"More than $100," he said.
Spencer got his first paycheck from his new job last week. At least we wouldn't have to pay for it, but that wasn't how he should be spending his money.
A few hours passed as we sent and received texts from Spencer. Then Earl called to talk to him. He'd been drinking all afternoon as he tried to find his car.
I walked into the bedroom and called him. His voice was slurred and he inhaled deeply on a cigarette as we talked. I felt my blood pressure shooting up.
How was he supposed to find his car if he was drunk and how would he drive home if he did find it?
I read him the riot act.
"You are forbidden to go to Athens again!" I told my 24-year-old. "You apologize for making bad decisions and then you go back and make more."
He stumbled over his apologies.
"We're going to have to take care of it," I told my husband. He called the campus police who said only three towing companies tow from on campus. My husband called all three. None of them had towed the car.
We had to face the fact that his car, a 2014 Honda Accord which we purchased in May, must have been stolen.
We called him back and told him to sober up, report the car stolen to the police department and get on a bus back to Columbus.
Then we waited.
The bus left at 5:40, would he be on it? Had his phone died? He didn't text. When we called, it went to voicemail, but only after ringing, so it must not be dead.
Finally, just a few minutes before I finished writing this, I got a text from him. "Still can't find it." 
"Can you call?" I texted back.
He sounded better but still confused. He had missed the bus. There's another one at 5 in the morning, but how would we be sure he was on that bus? We couldn't risk it. He had to keep his new job if we hoped to move to France; he needed to be home.
Earl offered to drive to pick him up. An hour and a half both ways. It's cold, but it isn't raining or snowing. But it's dark and it will be late when they get home.
I know this isn't a happy post about moving to France, but it's probably my greatest fear about leaving. Some of you might say to let him to figure it out on his own, and if we weren't moving to France, maybe we wouldn't save him. But if he doesn't have a good job and his own apartment, leaving on our adventure becomes much harder.
And I realize that it isn't his fault if the car was stolen, it's the getting drunk in the middle of the afternoon when he should be dealing with the incident that bothers me the most.
Part of me thinks that our departure will be the moment our kids grow up once and for all, knowing that there isn't a safety net here for them. They'll sink or swim on their own. Please, God, let them swim.
Since Spencer called, my stomach is no longer in danger of losing its contents. I'll be happy when I know that Earl has him safely in the car, but my eye is still twitching. Maybe it will continue until we get on that plane to France, in 45 days.
Update: As Spencer was walking to the police department, he decided to check one more parking lot and found his car -- not stolen, not towed, just parked in a place he didn't remember. I'm not sure if that is a happy ending, or just points to more worries about my kids.
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Updates



Full steam ahead.
Yesterday, the phone rang and I saw my real estate agent's name flash up on the screen. "Oh, no."
I'd been dreading her call. It was the day we were supposed to get the results of the appraisal.
A previous offer had fallen through at the appraisal stage. We figured at best we'd have to negotiate for a lower price.
The agent didn't beat around the bush. "We appraised for asking price!" she crowed.
What a relief!
No more negotiating, no more bargaining, we had successfully jumped through all the hoops.
This is happening.
We close on the house on December 8.

Dreaming of France -- Moving Misadventures

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us you...