Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Baby

One of the big reasons for the purchase of our new house is so that we can finally take in our Baby.  The Baby has been living in a foster home since August of 2010 when we moved it out of my parents' home in preparation for the estate sale.  We simply do not have room for it here.  It will have a prominent spot in the living room at the new house.  This piano has been in my family since 1913.

The story goes that my great-grandparents -named Roehm - had a piano for my grandmother's sister Lucille.  Aunt Lucille was one of those rare and lucky people who could hear a song and sit down and play it without any music.  Well, that first piano was lost in the flood of 1913 that hit Dayton.  One of the first things my great-grandfather bought after the house was cleaned out was another piano - this one.  Someplace in storage I have a little booklet that records his monthly payments to the piano store.  I think the piano cost him $500, and I think he might have paid $5 a month on it.  

So this piano was in their home until they both passed away.  The piano then went to another aunt who didn't play the piano.  I'm not sure why she was the one to get it, but I suspect Aunt Lucille didn't have room either.  Before Aunt Kay had a place to put the piano, it "visited" my grandmother's home.  My mother was a young girl at this time, and she desperately wanted to take piano lessons.  Grandpa couldn't afford lessons for most of the time the piano was there, but then just when they got her signed up for lessons, Aunt Kay took the piano back, leaving my mother with no piano to take lessons on.  She was heartbroken, and she carried that with her all her life.  

When I was about 7, we moved to a house big enough for a piano, and getting me one was very high on my mother's agenda.  My parents bought an old upright from some neighbors who were moving and put it in our family room.  I started taking lessons at age 8 and continued until I was 16 when we moved to a new town.  

Once I moved out on my own, I never had room for a piano.  I bought an electric keyboard, and that worked well for travel because I could take it to visit grandparents for small concerts, but it was a weak substitute.  In 1995, my mother finally inherited the family Chickering from Aunt Kay, so my upright got moved to the basement, and the Chickering got a place of prominence in the family room.  

When my parents passed away, I chose to leave the old upright at their house (the buyers said they wanted it), and I had the Chickering moved to the home of some friends until I could take it.  These friends have been loving foster parents, and their teenage son has loved playing it, but now it will finally take its rightful place in my home after all these years.  

I think we might just have a Welcome Home party for The Baby, but not until I've had a chance to practice first!

Next Blog

Hello Readers!
Do you see that little link at the top of your screen right now that says "Next Blog"?

Have you ever clicked on that?

Well, let me tell you, if you haven't, you should.  Each click has the potential to take you to a new and interesting world.  It is not unlike clicking the channel-changer on your TV remote, only with this, you have no idea what you're going to get.  (Unlike the TV when you can be 95% sure you're going to land on a commercial with a baby or a dog in it.)

Every time I get in the mood to browse the blogs, I find things of interest.  If I chose to "Follow" every interesting one I find, I'd have a follow-list a mile long and no time to actually follow them all, so I've stopped "Following" unless I just can't pass one by.  

In today's browsing, I read about a restaurant someone visited on their trip to France, saw some lovely photos of unique homes in Mexico, learned about some interesting places to visit on my next trip to New England and saw some really interesting artwork.  Best of all, the writing of all of these blogs was lively and fun to read, which totally restores my faith in the English classes of the world!  

So, the next time you have a few minutes to spare, and after you've read MY latest entry, which of course is really why you are here after all, hit "Next Blog" and see where the road takes you!  I guarantee you will enjoy the journey!

Happy Browsing!  

Smooth Sailing after Inspection

The home inspection was completed on Friday, February 17.  While our inspector wasn’t Mike Holmes, he was very thorough.  Gary arrived an hour before we did and completed much of the main inspection, then his assistant continued with some tasks while Gary took us around and talked to us about every little detail.  He spent 2 hours explaining everything – roof, inside and out, foundation, windows and doors, furnace, water heater, fuse box, plumbing. 

As Gary was talking, I was taking pictures and making notes.  I photographed curtain rods, appliances, closets – things I am going to wonder about while we wait for the next 5 weeks to get the keys.  And I measured things.  This task is made much easier by the fact that the new house is the same floor plan as the old house.  Although Hubby says the new house is 1 foot shorter from end to end, we aren’t finding it. 

When we arrived, we got to meet the seller and his agent.  Then during the exterior inspection we met the neighbor to the west.  Just as we were finishing up and about to walk out the door we met the neighbor to the east who came over to bring back the seller’s little dog.   Both neighbors were very friendly and seemed like they will be great neighbors.  

The upshot of the inspection was that everything seems to be in excellent shape.   A few hours later we got a full report as a PDF on email, complete with many photos and details of every little thing. 

I think we like the house even better now than we did the first time we saw it!  On Saturday we ventured out and did some exploratory shopping.    We had a nice discussion with the salesman at Rite Rug about carpeting.  We learned some things, and we found some carpet we both like.  At this time, we aren’t sure if we will go with them or with someone else.  We also visited La Z Boy Gallery and looked at couches.  We learned a bit more about what works for us and what doesn’t.  We found a style and color we both like and got some info. 

Saturday night we brainstormed a wish-list of changes and added some cost estimates beside each one.  One important factor for me in making the initial list was that we not censor ourselves, but really put everything down we could think of or might want to change/fix.  

So, that’s where things stand.  It should be smooth sailing on the house purchase now until closing on March 23.  Then the REAL work begins!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Adventure Begins

First, some background:

For the last 1.5 years, Hubby and I have been house-hunting. We’ve both actively looked online and watched the papers. We’ve done many drive-bys and attended numerous open houses. The search has been a roller-coaster of emotions. First comes the excitement and uphill climb of finding something that “might be the one” only to suffer the screaming down-hill effect of the realization that there are major deal-breakers that make this house, in fact, NOT “the one”.

The last time we house-hunted was in 2001 when we were preparing to move from Lima to Westerville. We were sort of in a hurry because we just had a summer to get moved before school started, so we weren’t really too picky, and we weren’t thinking in terms of buying a house we’d be in for more than 5 years or so. Our main goal was just to get here. We also didn’t know much at all about the local market, nor about how to buy a house because we’d never done it before. Luckily we had a very good realtor to guide us, and we ended up in a decent house where we’ve been fairly comfortable for almost 11 years.

Since then, we’ve watched way too many hours of shows on TV: everything from This Old House on PBS to the big house shows on HGTV like House Hunters, Holmes on Homes and Holmes Inspection, and lots of shows featuring remodels and renovations. We now know just enough to be dangerous to ourselves and to the real estate market!

Last week, along with another screaming ride down on the roller-coaster of happiness into the valley of despair, came the realization that what we thought we wanted and needed in a dream house really might not be out there – at least not within a comfortable driving distance of school. Not to be deterred by that realization though, and pushed to find a solution by my tearful declaration that I really didn’t want to spend the rest of my life without my piano, Hubby sprang to the challenge and found the perfect end to our house hunt. It was under our very noses! “The house around the corner is for sale,” he proudly declared! So? “So, we buy it!” Um…. Yeah….? “Yeah, and we live in BOTH houses!!!” WHAT? “Seriously, I’ve got it all figured out…” He then proceeded to spend the next half hour reading to me his list of reasons and explaining that this was really a very good idea. He was right! It is a BRILLIANT idea!

We contacted our realtor and said we wanted to see the “House of Interest”, and an appointment was set up. As we walked into this house with our realtor (the same realtor who helped us in 2001), he asked if we were interested in this for comparison purposes. It does, after all, have almost exactly the same floor plan as the house we live in now, so that was a very natural question. Hubby looked at me, and I looked at him as if to say, “it was YOUR idea, YOU tell him”! We explained why we thought it would make sense to buy it – and live in it – and our realtor was amazingly supportive. He could have told us we were nuts – that this just isn’t done – that no one he knows has ever done this! But he didn’t do any of those things. He took it all in stride and was totally non-judgemental.

That was on Thursday night. On Saturday morning, we signed an offer on the house, and by 1:30 pm on Sunday, an agreement had been reached. We close on March 23, just in time to have the keys in ours hands by Spring Break!

And so, the great adventure begins! It is an experiment in dual-house living. It is an experiment in coordination and planning. One priority is to keep this adventure from over-taking our lives to the point where it interferes with our ability to do what we need to do (or to remain sane)! Our skeptics may speculate that we are really splitting up, and this is just a nice way to do that. Not so! If anything we will have to work more closely on this than on anything we’ve ever done in 30 years of marriage. We are looking at it as a “project” that we are embarking on together, and we plan on enjoying every step of the process. This is about enriching our lives by giving ourselves the space we’ve needed. We’ve felt very much “pinched” for the last 11 years – into a house that is really too small to fully meet our needs. We have had to sacrifice some of our interests due to lack of space. No more! We will now have more than 2500 square feet of living space: 6 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, 2 dining rooms and 2 kitchens, a 3 car garage and a glorious, spacious, well-built 3-season room! It isn’t really all that different than having a primary home and a vacation home – ours just happen to be within walking distance of each other.

I intend to blog about the progress of our adventure so that others might share in our joys. Perhaps some readers may realize that this is the perfect solution for them as well. Stay tuned…. The next step is the inspection! Since it probably won’t be Mike Holmes doing the inspecting, we will be looking over his shoulder until he swats us like noisy flies!

Update on the Healing Process

We’ve just passed the 1 month anniversary of the death of my colleague.  His hometown funeral was on the Saturday after his death, and then our town/school had a memorial service on the 2nd Saturday after.  I think that our local memorial service really marked a turning point in the healing process.  Until then, there was a huge memorial area set up in a prominent showcase in the front lobby of the school, and there was also a make-shift memorial in the hallway outside his room.  All of that was cleared away in preparation for the formal memorial service which was held in a large church near our school. 

The memorial service was attended by hundreds of people.  Most of our building’s staff members and retirees, many district administrators and former admins, many students and former students and some of their parents attended the service.  Some of our colleague’s family members also drove up from his hometown in spite of the snowy/icy conditions. 

The service was lovely and a very appropriate tribute to his life and showed how loved he was by the entire school community.  Several of his closest friends spoke in loving tribute sharing anecdotes, and several other colleagues performed musical selections, and our school’s show choir sang in his honor as well.  The group even learned a song in Spanish since that is what he taught.   The school even took down a bulletin board which had hung in his room to display at the service.  It was covered with memorabilia that he had collected over his years in that room.

I noticed a definite change in the mood at school after that service was over.  I think that once the school community was able to grieve together at this service, they were able to sort of let go and move on.  We continue to collect money for a scholarship fund in his name, and so there are regular references to him on the announcements as fund-raisers are held.  And certainly there is an air of sadness every time his name is mentioned.  I also know that individuals who were particularly close friends of his are still struggling privately with missing him.   Overall, however, it seems that many aspects of our life at school has returned to normal.  Obviously there is no way to know how much his death has impacted the individuals who knew him the best and worked closely with him daily.  I’m sure there are still students of his who struggle with walking into his room every day. 

I’m sure each situation like this is different in the specifics, but it seems to me that the general healing process for a large group of people probably follows a pattern.  I really didn’t know what to expect.   It has been interesting to watch the grieving process from sort of a close-distance.  Perhaps focusing on the larger process was my own way of dealing with this tragedy.  I’m sure that not a day has gone by yet that I have not thought of him at some point.