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Posts Tagged ‘moving’

Bob and I are camping out in our tiny Nashville house. We’ve got the fastest internet speed in our whole 38 year old pre-computer history – which is to say Cable…not yet fiber, but at least not a poor DSL country connection. The amount of cussing from my hubby’s mouth has decreased exponentially! This is just a week’s visit, getting some things ready and furniture delivered before our trip abroad and the big move. 

The Bride was sweet to meet us with coffee and wine. She had already unpacked and expanded our Zinus memory foam mattresses for the day bed in the study. The day bed is supposed to come today, hence the “camping out” phrase. I brought just enough linens to survive, and a new sofa from Article should arrive shortly. We can walk to the farmer’s market for lunch, and to a number of great restaurants for dinner. In fact, walkability was a major factor in this move. 

Well that, and two precious grandbabies.

We sent the Bride to camp in the Berkshires after our move to NJ. It was a disaster. The plan was for Bob to be the Camp Doctor for two weeks of the full season, and that part was fine. But no amount of cajoling could placate our ten year old daughter. Her “Take me Home” refrain never stopped and sleepaway camp became a one and done summer activity. The Rocker never stood a chance. 

For my part, I had loved my Camp St Joseph for Girls experience. I became a counselor-in-training there, later a waterfront counselor, and excelled in sports before Title IX. My first platonic boy crush happened one night at a dance across the lake at CSJ for Boys. For many years, well into my 30s, I would dream of camp and they were always dreams that left me happy and fulfilled. Summer camp was a time to build self confidence and strength in an era when young girls had fewer options. 

So even though I’m feeling a little unsettled, somewhere between the mountains and city life, unsteady on my feet, feeling out the neighborhood, I know this will pass. I’m “Heading into the Heart of the Dragon,” as Sally Field once said. Change doesn’t happen without a fight from your former self. This is a first step to finding our beach house; I want to be a waterfront Nana finally. We heard lots of birds singing our first morning in Nashville, and we’ve had plenty of April showers. But the sun is up and…

the universe is expanding as it should. Just look at this super computer simulation of billions of years http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/watch-universe-evolve-over-13-billion-years-180951366/

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While cleaning and decluttering my aviary, I discovered a wish list I had made back in February of 2002 while still in NJ. At that time my son was applying to college and my daughter was working at her first post-college job in DC. I was anticipating the dreaded Empty Nest syndrome. It was fun to read the 25 wishes; many have already come true! Though I do not have an agent or a cook…yet.

Strangely enough, the very first thing on my wish list is to get more organized! Which is exactly what I’m doing; I now know where every single utensil is in my kitchen, I have the perfect amount of towels, and I have thrown out all those files I kept of Rumson Borough Council meetings. I did however keep the random thank you note from readers. It’s always nice to know your copy was read, and not just used to line a bird cage. Newspapers, good stuff.

As you probably know I am NOT a list-maker. But I did pick up a book during the Cville Festival of the Book titled, “52 Lists for Happiness,” by Moorea Seal. Anita and I were talking about how we could have more fun during these Trumpconian years, how we could avoid being dragged down by politics. When I read on my Facebook feed yesterday that we had dropped the “Mother of All Bombs” on Afghanistan, during the holiest week for Christians and Jews, I thought it must be fake news. But I knew Gail, the person posting this, she is a devoted activist and feminist in her church and our community.

She held un umbrella over our heads when we marched in Cville to support Planned Parenthood. She helped organize our first trip to Richmond to march for women’s rights. Gail knows a thing or two. She probably makes lists because she knows how to get things done! Gail quoted a minister, Rev Emily Heath, who said:

Next time someone tells you this is a “Christian nation” remind them that we just bombed Afghanistan during Holy Week.

Specifically we did it on the day that Scripture tells us Christ said these words:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy.

Number 9 on my wish list was to have a “writing room.” A retreat from the world that was not just a corner of the dining room. As I sit here this morning looking at the journal I bought that might prompt me to make lists, I am profoundly afraid for our nation. We have an unpredictable President dropping bombs with alacrity, because his daughter was moved by dying Syrian babies, but not by a dead Syrian baby who washed up on a Greek island. But no, we can’t let Syrian refugees into our country. God Forbid.

At least Assad has decided to move civilians out of their war-torn cities, Sunnis go to Sunni territory and Shia go to Shia. That’s a step, to get the proxy war moving along. The Russians must be just as worried as we are! “The meeting in Moscow on Friday between Russian, Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers was the first held between the three allies since the US launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase in response to the alleged chemical attack.” http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-39597630

I am now packing up my home, about to start a new chapter. What will I carry with me, what about all the Flapper’s correspondence? Yes. The elbow noodle pictures from preschool? Probably not. Will we be welcomed into a new community? Will people ask us, as they do all over the South, “What church do you belong to?”

Well, I belong to the church of peace and love, to the people who don’t run their lives by dogma or dietary dictates. I belong to my family of all colors and faiths. I belong to the sisterhood of brave, smart women. I’m going to start my first list – The Things That Make Me Happy Right Now:

Classical Music

Ms Bean

Birds Singing

The Mountains

Spring

The GIF of Our 2 yr Old Grandson Dancing

Bob in the Buddha Garden

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Happy First Day of Spring! We are in the middle of a self-inflicted March Madness (sorry Blue Devils), pruning and sprucing up the yard while simultaneously cleaning out closets. Bob gets to ride around on his tractor while I get to tackle my clothes. And since I’m not afraid to ask for help, this year I’ve called in a professional. The Bride gave me the idea; in the past, she would sit among my shoes and ask, “How many pairs of red shoes do you need Mom?” A few weeks ago, my daughter suggested I try hiring someone who does this sort of thing for a living. Not a psychologist/clutter counselor per se, but a stylist.

A stylist? Moi? She said she has friends in Nashville who rave about this service. And here I thought you had to be a celebrity to hire a stylist, I never even had a personal shopper. Or a Stitch Fix account for that matter…and then I thought, wait, why not? It’s true I can write in my nightgown, but hey, we are on the move! Looking for a beach house, traveling to France, moving closer to our Grandbabies, if only I had thought of this before the Rocker’s wedding! Remember, one of my first articles for the “Berkshire Eagle” was titled, “Fashion Police.” 

I wrote about moving from New Jersey to New England, trying to fit in with the natives. The paper actually hired models to illustrate my three styles of dressing – 1) the Native wore jeans, flannel and work boots; they were very early adopters of the uni-sex grunge look; 2) the Tourists were New Yorkers who came for the weekend or the summer and wore mostly Black to Tanglewood; and then you had the rest of us. I was a 3) Transplant, we had moved to Pittsfield from all over the country, we didn’t even own a pair of jeans, and didn’t have a style of our own. Hey, it was the 80s.

Obviously, it was a semi-satirical essay!

Moving to Virginia wasn’t too traumatic. We built our small house, pared down our lives. I was wearing jeans again, and I’d discovered Eileen Fisher. She is a designer who spoke my language, ethically sourced clothes in natural fibers, her designs are the epitome of easy elegance. Stevie Nix meets Helen Mirren! This old Catholic School girl was close to finally finding her own style. At least once a year I’d meet Anita for lunch in Richmond and get my Nordstrom/Eileen Fisher fix.

I knew I was on the right track when I found Andrea Wood, a “Personal Stylist and Wardrobe Consultant.”  www.andreawoodstyling.com  She doesn’t just help you clean out your closets, she looks at your clothes with a professional’s eye. The first thing I had to do was answer a questionnaire, then she had me make a special Pinterest page. I already had an old page called “Fashionish,” which tells you how I felt about my clothes. But now, I was having fun on our last snow day of the year looking for something new. I titled this page, “Style Mavens!” https://www.pinterest.com/mpjamma/style-mavens/

As soon as she walked in the door, I knew Andrea had my number. We talked a little over tea and then we got to work. The first thing I asked her was, “How many pairs of khaki pants does one need?” She zipped through my walk-in closet in no time, pulling out things she thought were outdated, or just didn’t look like “ME.” How did she know me so well? We made a special spot for “Vintage,” and another for Caribbean vacations. I no longer needed Black-Tie event dresses, and besides these heavily sequined silk numbers had seen a moth, or two. And also I’ll never see size 6 again.

It was such a relief this closet cleanse. Andrea told me she didn’t really think I needed much help putting outfits together (thank you dear), although we did do some mixing and matching. She piled all my old clothes in her car and was going to donate some and start a consignment account for me at a local shop with the others. I looked around and took a deep breath. I’d found things I forgot I had, clothes I never could find because I couldn’t move the hangers, beautiful blouses and pants that fit! She was a miracle worker, and she inspired me to keep going.

Sweaters were next. I posted a picture of the first sweater I ever knit on Facebook. I was trying to finish it in England and wore it through the metal detector in Heathrow with a stitch holder in my neck. That set off all the alarms and prompted my first full body search at an airport. I paired it in the 80s with a long, flowy skirt and Goth boots. I wanted to crowd source the question, “Keep or Donate?” Ms Cait, my new Daughter-in-Law, loved it and so I’ll be shipping it to LA pronto.

We all deserve our own “What Not to Wear” consultation at least once in our lives. My old friend and clutter counselor Betsy didn’t live around the block anymore. Anyone going through a transition – selling a house, losing weight, spring cleaning or just plain suffering from FOTO the dreaded Fear of Throwing Out – could benefit from a kind, professional helping hand. This coming weekend is the VA Book Festival, and now I can look less like a conflicted writer in yoga pants, and more like a confident writer in casual chic street wear! Thanks Andrea! 

This is the “Before” picture she wanted. Notice how clothes are barely able to breathe? Final pictures coming soon!  IMG_0172

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This is gonna hurt! You see I accidentally tripped over a big soft mat at a “Bounce House” the other day and managed to break my pinky finger…so…no worries though, the Love Bug was fine. Nana’s “Ouchie” is turning pretty shades of blue, and according to 3 Emergency Physician consultations – one in real time, one by email, and one by phone – there’s nothing to be done. “Ice, Advil, and Rest.” Which one forgot I’m caring for a toddler? We had to bake cookies!

My daughter has been sending me glowing reports about the West Coast. The weather, the people, the coastline! The Groom has a conference to attend and they are both visiting transplanted friends in LA. Then I turn on CNN this morning, while I’m listening for a few wake-up chirps from the nursery, and you’d think the whole of California is ablaze in wildfires and Santa Anna winds!

Of course my wisecrack comeback to her Cali salutations was to remark about earthquakes maybe being better than tornadoes. I can’t help it when a little Woody Allenesque just comes out. The truth is I love San Francisco, but haven’t seen the rest of the state. Would I miss the humidity? The Mountains? Would I have to get Botox? At some point I think we all get too old to move. Every house we owned I swore would be the last. But ER physicians like to roam, it’s part of their DNA, they carry their skills with them.

It’s almost been like being a military wife. Some people look at moving like it’s a thrilling wonderful adventure, and then there’s me. It was great for awhile, but at some point you wonder if you’re leaving your best friends behind you. The ones who know where the spoons are in your kitchen.

The Rocker and Ms Cait have been talking about a move out west. And the Groom will finish his fellowship soon and be looking for an academic position. If both my children and the Bug and future grandchildren end up out there would we pack it up again? It’s the Irish in me that loves to put down roots, to stay connected to family and friends. Still.

It would have to come with conditions; like moving to the Blue Ridge meant having a view, and building a house. If we do cross the country in the next couple of years there will be no more Bounce Housing! And only looking at earthquake-proof houses that are no where near a mudslide. Maybe we’d find a pony for the Bug, and name her Wildfire.         IMG_0520

 

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Nothing much new today, except that little thing about the Pope. I wonder what his parachute package will look like? Will they give him a condo in the Vatican with a kitchenette; a “memory” apartment option; maybe a nice gold watch? Just watched a podcast about a Hindu holiday in India called Kumbh Mela. Everyone swims in 2 rivers and gets blessed by these naked holy men who smoke marijuana, in a nutshell. I just knew my Catholic upbringing was lacking…but for me it took a Purim festival to figure out we all have different ways to worship. To practice faith.
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This week I took a quick trip alone, back to the Jersey Shore, to my land between 2 rivers, to see the Rocker and Ms Cait in their new, post-Sandy home. After so many years of not driving in the North on their turnpikes and parkways, I was full of faith at the start. My aggressive driving techniques have faded from too many country roads where everyone goes slow and stops for everything. But I crossed the Delaware Bridge with alacrity and managed to avoid bending any fenders. The first thing I noticed was the flags, or lack thereof. The flags that flew over bridges after 9/11 were mostly gone.

Times change, and maybe that’s good. We are really no longer a nation at war, hopefully leaving Afghanistan with the tools to govern themselves.

And speaking of tools. I may have said this before, but whenever a friend’s child would go off to college I’d pack them a tool box for their dorm room – a hammer, screwdriver, some nails. And then, at some point down the road, I told my adult children that I would no longer help them move, from college to first apartment, or apartment to a home. But, I would always be happy to help them “decorate!” Their second floor walk-up in a grand pre-War building is filled with light. Ms Cait found some plants and the Rocker took me on a tour of thrift shops in the neighborhood. And after watching my son build a table for their new nest in Asbury Park, I felt a certain peace.
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Hurricane Sandy may have taken away the boardwalk, and the big time developers may have dismantled the famous painted pony carousel and sold them off for a song, but there is a fresh, new vibe in this town. Everywhere we walked, they ran into someone they knew. A friend from Deane Porter elementary school started a vegan restaurant, “Seed to Sprout,” where you can take your loved one for a delicious and healthy Valentine’s prix fixe dinner. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Cait’s Mom again, and sharing tastes of our sweet potato sushi and kale salad, with gelato that was to die for. It made absolutely no sense that it was made without cream, because it was that yummy. You can “Like” them on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/From-Seed-to-Sprout/323375011030582

Faith is a funny thing. No matter how many storms may roar through your life, in our family, there is something special about the sunshine and strong wind that eventually follows. We will never leave the beach in our hearts.
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Happy Valentine’s Day to all you lovebirds.

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Mark Bittman, of the Minimalist cooking series in the NYTimes, posted a how-to video of his Watermelon and Tomato Salad on its front web page over the weekend. There are just a few things I will click to play on the Times site and they include: 1) anything Wedding; 2) that old, fashion guru on a bike Bill Cunningham; and 3) all things Minimalist. This watermelon salad, Bittman said, was an oldie but well worth a redo since it echoes the flavors and colors of Turkey. I was planning on making a special delivery dinner to friends who had just moved into town, so I watched the podcast and went shopping. Here is what you will need for this simple and refreshing dish:

  • 1 small seedless watermelon
  • 1 package of grape tomatoes
  • parsley
  • scallions
  • blue cheese

I love using my melon baller, it beats trying to slice a finger while sliding a knife through a juicy melon. So you scoop out the watermelon sans seeds, halve the tomatoes, clean and chop the parsley and scallions and then make a very simple vinaigrette. 2 T red or white wine vinegar mixed in a glass bowl with 3-4 T Evoo and freshly ground salt (just scored some pink Himalayan) and pepper. Mix everything together and sprinkle on the cheese. If blue cheese is too strong for your family, substitute goat cheese. Picnic anyone?Now everyone knows moving is right up there among the BIG stressors in life, and when you are moving with two small children then you have Stress to the 3rd power (move +  2 kids= 3). This particular Mom is a top-notch neonatal ICU nurse, so she can make moving two babies look easy. When we were packing up nearly 30 years of marriage to move south, and move the Rocker into college, I was also putting steroid drops into my eyes every hour. A West Nile virus carrying mosquito had the audacity to bite me, and that bout of encephalitis nearly took my sight.

That was Stress to the 4th power (move + last child leaving home + nearly dying and only losing partial peripheral vision thanks to one lousy mosquito = 4).  I’m beginning to understand why my 87 year old MIL wants to stay in her house. Here is my moving mantra – “Bloom where you’re planted.”

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