Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Big Deal to Us

Our two sons helping me get our household furnishings
packed up and into storage in March 2012.
Well, it might not seem like a big deal to you, but it is to us.   My wife and I have finally settled on how we’re going to attempt to live out the next chapter of our lives. 

Ever since being “ripped away” from our very happy normal life in Colorado thanks to health issues, we have been wondering and wandering and wavering and wishing we had “the answer” for where to live.  We’ve prayed about it, debated it continuously between ourselves, consulted family, friends and occasionally the random passer-by who would give ear to our plight. 

Instinctively, we started out seeking a “replacement house”.  The replacement house would replace what had been our home in Colorado.  It would be a place for us to start to build new community, and to receive all of our ‘currently in storage’ worldly possessions.  We were looking for a place that was low altitude, and also was a climatic change from our Maine condo, where we’d been holing up since departing our home. 

We do love Maine, but our condo there didn’t seem like a “home” to us, as we’d initially bought it as a place to escape to.  Colorado had been our home for the last 25 years.  That’s where we’d lived our lives, raised our kids and where it felt like home 'should be'.

However, things change.  And we knew there was no longer a home for us in Colorado.  So, after a 'near miss' buying a “big box” house in St. Simons Island, GA, we have settled into a plan where our Maine place will be our home from May to the end of the calendar year (more or less), and then we will ‘escape’ to Vero Beach, Florida.  We found a very sweet, very small place in Vero that we hope to close on in early June. 

In the process of seeking a ‘big box’ home where our furniture and possessions could be comfortable, Jackie came to the conclusion that she didn’t want to move so far away to start a new life—so far from family, and friends and the growing sense of ‘community’ that we’ve enjoyed in Maine.  And we are facing the reality that "downsizing" at this stage of life is totally appropriate.  Jackie was right.  As usual, she was right. 

We are traveling home to Colorado next week to go through all our stored up stuff, and segregate the stored flotsam and jetsam into two basic “piles of stuff”.  One pile will be shipped to Maine, and the other pile will be carted off to Vero Beach.  

We won’t have enough room for much more stuff in Maine, but at least we can 'deal with it' there--much better than having our stuff in storage 2500 miles away from where we're living.  And we will have taken a giant step toward feeling “settled” for the first time in a couple of years.

And, at long last, to the relief of my wife, when somebody asks where we live, I won’t feel compelled to give a long, complicated, boring answer that contains way too much information.   I can simply say “Maine is now home, but we have a winter place to get away to in Vero Beach”.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

When I'm Sixty Four? 

When “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released by the Beatles in June of 1967, I had just celebrated my 17th birthday.   My friends and I loved the album and it became the soundtrack for that summer of ‘67 as well as the soundtrack for my senior year in high school.  Significant music for a significant period of life.

The lyrics for the “Sgt. Pepper” songs were conveniently printed on the back of the LP cover, and my friends and I spent countless hours parsing those lyrics for “meaning”.  We connected easily and intuitively to “(I get by with) A Little Help from My Friends”, “She’s Leaving Home”, and “A Day in the Life”.  Great stuff. 

However, the track “When I’m Sixty Four” seemed a little more remote--like a cute, lightweight ditty—written more for my grandparents’ than for me.  “When I get older?…losing my hair?..”  Relating personally to that was beyond the scope of possibility.  Preposterous!

But now the once ‘preposterous’ has become my ‘new reality’. 
And I’m having a little trouble getting adjusted.

My life of as a carefree teenager has morphed into that of an ‘aging baby boomer’. That transition from the ‘bloom of youth’ to the ‘brink of senior citizenship’ seems to have occurred in the ‘blink of an eye’.  Youthful optimism has given way to dancing around the inevitability of entropy.

I am not feeling sorry for myself.   Just adjusting to the new reality. 

I was blissfully unaware of  ‘personal loss’ for much of my life, as it had not really darkened my doorstep.  But that has changed in the last year and a half and ‘loss’ has apparently figured out where I live.   And I’m coming to grips with the reality that ‘loss’ is an integral part of living.

Of late, my wife has started to condition our future plans with “well, if something were to happen to you”.     Hey, I’m not planning on anything happening to me.   Not for some time, anyway.

I’m still planning on celebrating many more birthdays, anticipate losing (even more) hair…and, many years from now, I hope my sweet wife will still be sending me a valentine, birthday greetings and an occasional bottle of wine, and, most important of all, still needing me…(and still feeding me).


Monday, July 30, 2012

Breakfast on the Road

As part of our continuing process of relocating, I am on the road this week. I retrieved a car from our former home in Colorado and am now driving cross-country to Maine—a road trip of about 2700 miles, give or take.

This morning I was seated (along with a half dozen other similarly road wearied travelers) in a dimly lit ‘breakfast room’ at the hotel, enjoying one of those hotel “free breakfasts”.

As I downed my raisin bran and coffee, I overheard the following conversation between a late-40’s mother and her two late teen/early 20’s daughters who are also enjoying the hotel’s “free breakfast”. (This conversation takes place as the TV news plays in the background with pre-election coverage of Romney and Obama)

Mother ”I don’t know who to vote for, they’re both so lame..”

Daughter #1 “Yeah, they both suck“

Daugter # 2 “I don’t think I’ll even vote..

Mother “At least that Romney has good hair..”

Observing this fine example of the electorate really makes me wonder about the future of our democracy. We need not only good leaders (we need great leaders, actually), but we need engaged and reasonably perceptive voters. Not just people who will vote for a candidate because of their skin color or their good hair.

It is my sincere hope that Daughter #2 inspires her mother and her sibling to follow her example and decide to refrain from voting.

I’ve always heard that there is no ‘free lunch’, but there is, apparently “free breakfast”.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Figuring out where to live--my new online obsession.

For nearly all my life, I have not had to face making a big choice about where to live.

When I was a kid, my parents made those decisions.  Their reasons for choosing what city to live in, or what street to live on, or which specific house to live in were way over my head.

When I was nearing graduation from College, a friend and I decided--somewhat whimsically--to relocate to the North Shore of Boston upon graduation.  A gaggle of loose-knit college friends had decided to migrate to that area, and he and I joined in that migration.

In time, the North Shore of Boston as "home" gave way to a sequence of 'home addresses' for me, in places as diverse as Aruba, Netherlands Antilles and Dubuque, Iowa.  

As the years passed, I identified more of a 'career path' for my life.  I got jobs.  Became engaged and married.  We started our family.

The answer to any question of "where we lived" became a detail dictated by bigger life concerns: jobs;  opportunity to build 'resume weight'; and, most importantly, opportunity for income. These became the big influencers of where I called "home".  

Eventually Colorado became the long term "home address" for our family, which was just fine with us.  We love the people, the weather, the topography, and the economy.  Big city amenities were available, with small town sensibilities.  While we've had our share of ups and downs, Colorado has been, for us, a wonderful place to call home.

But now we have arrived at a point in our lives where we have sold "the big house".  Our life's accumulated possessions have been secured and are locked away behind barbed wire and cyclone fencing in Colorado Springs.  The storage facilities and movers await further direction from us on where we would like said possessions delivered--i.e. our 'new home address'.  

However, at this point, we have no idea where that 'new home address' might be.

Will attempt to figure that out over the next six months to a year.  We're thinking anywhere from Maine to Florida, Beaufort SC to Boston MA.  Somewhere on the water is preferred, but not mandatory.  There are different advantages and disadvantages to each of the locations we've pondered.  

Without the gravitational influence of 'relocation for job opportunity' or 'relocation for income opportunity', we debate if we should be guided by "proximity to grand kids" or "proximity to warmer weather" as we ponder the potentials.   Right now, we have neither.  And we would like to have both.

And so I spend too many of my waking hours, online, eyeballs affixed to my flickering computer screen.  I search out different locations...look at street views on google maps...and check,, and for housing.  I look at economic data and weather data and what churches and restaurants are available in proximity to different locations (acknowledging, no doubt, a need for both spiritual and physical food).  We want to relocate to a nice community, walkable, private, close to amenities, restaurants, grand kids, at least temperate weather and nice views of the sunset over water.  And maybe a few other niceties we haven't yet considered.

And, so far, I just keep on searching.   Got any ideas?

Stay tuned.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Weighing Anchor in Colorado--a somewhat Bifurcated Heart.

My wife and I have called Colorado "home" for the past 23+ years.  We are in process of getting our lives resituated in a "location to be determined later".   Turns out that my wife has a health condition known as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS--for short) which impacts her ability to enjoy everyday life and activity.  Also turns out that the POTS symptoms are made significantly more acute at high altitude.   So, we're in the process of moving to sea level, or near sea level where her enjoyment of life can be more 'normal'.

Colorado is where we have raised our kids and lived our lives with the inherent belief that we would pretty much stay put here.  We have made great, deep and fun friendships here in Colorado--friendships that developed through work, neighborhood, church, kids' schools, and also a few precious random connections.   So many of these have developed into deep and meaningful friendships that we value greatly and we trust will survive the 'separation of miles' and last us the rest of our lives.

For several years, we have owned a place in Maine, so--at present--Maine is becoming the path of least resistance for a residential destination.  We've also made (and continue to make) good friends in Maine, but I am still getting adjusted to thinking of Maine as "home".  I guess there is a "new normal" that will be developing over the next months (and maybe years) ahead.

One of my Maine friends reminded me that the reggae icon Bob Marley stated that "home" is "where you hang your hat".   My problem is that I have been hanging my hat in Colorado for so long that it just "feels" like home.  And while I can drape my baseball cap over our halltree by the front door in Maine, Maine still feels like "the place we like to get away to".  The old addage that "home is where the heart is" fails me, as I'm finding I've developed a bit of a bifurcated heart.

So stay tuned.   Once we sell our home in Colorado, we'll be attempting to figure out where we hope to live out the next chapters of our life on this planet.  We've had some ideas, but are trusting that we (my wife and I) will "both know" when we've hit upon the right situation and location, and we're also trusting that we can 'enjoy the journey'.  (Sage advice from a Maine summer neighbor.)

My friend Mike finished off a dinner conversation this week with an admonition to me "give me something on Coffee Harbor"--so, Mike, there you go.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Summer-ing in Maine

In the past, it has seemed to me to be torturing the language a bit when I've heard people say "We're 'winter-ing' in Arizona, or we're 'summer-ing' on the Cape". However this year, it sounds like perfect linguistic syntax for me to say "We're summer-ing in Maine". (We might be 'fall-ing' here as well.)

We're located on Mount Desert Island, which makes up the bulk of the territory comprising Acadia National Park. The topography created by the collision of ocean with fir-covered granite coastline is stunning. Enjoying the area by boat allows us to take full advantage of the beauty that surrounds.

This is the first summer in several that we've had our boat in the water. We had not been able to put together much time here in the last few years. Life and family simply didn't cooperate. But this year, we have been able to pull it off.

It has been something of a challenge getting re-acquainted with our boat. But we're enjoying the journey and day by day getting back 'up to speed' on the boating equipment and procedures that had become a little hazy for us at the start of the season.

So. Just wanted to report in and confirm that we're alive and enjoying our Maine summer. And our dog--Buffie--has even joined us in plying the high seas. She put up with the whole thing pretty well, but I think she was glad to get back on terra firma.

More later.

Monday, June 20, 2011

My Dad 9/22/19 -- 6/11/11

Earlier in May, I spent a couple of weeks getting my parents moved into assisted living. It was a hard couple of weeks for me, but it seemed to be "the time" for such a move. I returned home to Colorado and, one week later, I got a call that my dad had suffered a massive stroke. I was told that he would not live beyond 24-48 hours.

My brother and I flew home to Rockford the next morning to be with our mother and attend to what needed to be attended to. In spite of the original 'prognosis' of death within a day or two, dad lasted another week. He never regained consciousness, but he did appear to respond to the squeezing of his hand.

He was a very sweet man, a true gentleman, wonderful father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. He instinctively knew how to communicate unconditional love to his family, and he was a faithful friend to many. Love you so much, dad.