I expected that moving from a residential neighborhood in the city to a suburb to be a bit of an adjustment. I wasn’t quite prepared for how quickly the new neighborhood became familiar.
There are lots of things that I love about the new place, and I’ve babbled about those things probably too much on this blog. For instance, the new place is bigger. We got rid of a lot of stuff before, during, and after the move, which helps make most of the rooms feel even larger than they were.
A few of the surprises are how quickly some of my driving habits changed. One of the major thoroughfares in the region is state highway 99, which is known as Aurora Avenue in Seattle, Shoreline, and Edmonds. Several of the other suburbs of Seattle label it Pacific Highway (which is nearly the same as old federal name for the highway as it existed before the founding of the Interstate System). Within the Seattle city limits, no U-turns are permitted on Highway 99. During the 32 years that I lived in Seattle, I always thought it was weird when I drove into suburbs either north or south of the city, to suddenly see “U-turn Permitted” signs at every intersection. It seemed like a quaint throwback to a bygone era. I’m not sure why. Maybe because so many places I’ve lived (not just Seattle) banned U-turns.
But in the city I now live in, most of the highway has a median with trees running down the middle of the road, rather than a turn lane that can be used to get to a business on the other side of the road. The u-turn becomes a necessity in that case, and since almost all the intersections where u-turns are permitted have stop lights, it isn’t a particularly risky maneuver. Now I find myself deeply affronted when I cross the city limit and start seeing the “No U-turn” signs.
I keep being a bit amazed at just how much I love the veranda. We had a small yard and were allowed to plant whatever we wanted in two flower beds, but the lawn was so small and right next to the sidewalk in a neighborhood that had a lot of foot traffic, I just always felt a little weird if I set up a chair and tried to read or something. Also, having no patio limited furniture options. Our veranda, a 38-foot long deck, is completely different. I have a lot more flowerpots and planters than I had before, and I’m growing a lot of flowers. We have more comfortable lawn chairs and a really cool folding wood table my hubby found at Ikea. So I can do things such as sit out on the veranda, enjoy the cool breeze, and watch the trees and squirrels while I type up this blog post on my laptop.
Then there’s cooking summer dinners on the stand-up George Foreman electric grill. A lot easier to deal with than digging out a grill from the basement, trying to set it up so it was level on the lawn, and having to clean it and pack away at the end. I can clean the smaller electric grill quickly and leave it out on the veranda each night. And yeah, in the summer grilling outside is very preferable to heating up the house further by cooking inside.
We have a lot more windows. And when I open a couple we get an immediate and very pleasant breeze running through the house. That’s not just about the number of windows, but also the open floor plan of the apartment and the fact that every window has mini blinds rather than very heavy curtains.
I was disappointed during the move when I found we would have to give up the sweet deal we had on internet and TV service with the CenturyLink fibre-optic service and Prism TV and have to switch back to Comcast. Funny thing, though, two years of having actual competition in many markets once it was ruled that the streaming services over internet, including Prism, didn’t violate the monopoly deals that the traditional cable companies have with many cities brought Comcast prices way down. I’m paying even less for internet and the parts of cable TV that I kept after the move that I was with Century Link/Prism — and Century Link/Prism had been literally half of what I had had to pay Comcast four years ago for comparable service. So that was a win!
Yeah, the package I have now has fewer channels… but I’m using Netflix and Hulu for a lot more shows, and their subscription rates added to the cable bill adds up to less than the previous price.
Another surprise was the refrigerator situation. I won’t bore you (further) with the story of how Ray and I wound up with our own fridge plus the one provided by the landlord at the old place (which Michael and I upgraded a few years after Ray died), but since there wasn’t really a good place for the second fridge in the new apartment (and it was getting old enough that it was going to need replacing soon) we were going to have to get by with just the one. I’d had two fridges for 22 years, and wasn’t sure how I’d adjust. Turns out the problem wasn’t fridge space, but freezer space. It was easy to adopt habits about the sorts of things kept in the non-freezer compartment, but we were constantly chafing at the lack of adequate space to hold the stuff I wanted to freeze.
There was an obvious solution, but we had to wait. When we were securing the new place, the property manager emphasized that the first lease period was considered probationary. So we decided that certain purchases would have to wait until we were offered a second lease. Those were: extra large planters suitable for planting my grandma’s irises in, a storage cabinet for the veranda, and a small chest freezer for that one spot in the kitchen.
Just how much relatively each of those things felt like a burden to both Michael and me? Well, while we were walking back from the property manager’s office a few months ago with a copy of our just sighed new lease, we said almost simultaneously to each other, “So, which freezer do we want to buy and when?” Less than 5 days later we had the 5.5 cubic foot freezer in the kitchen, and less than a week after that between us running on separate shopping trips we had filled it up. Now I have to check the freezer each time I leave the house to go to the grocery store to get a good picture in my head of what we could fit in there if I happen to find something on sale at a really good price.
I should also mention how much I loved, loved, loved being able to host the Christmas party at our place this year. There were a lot of things I liked about renting the suite at the hotel the last three years, but dang, I so love having my best friends under my roof at that time of year.
I can’t believe I’ve gone nearly 1500 words on this and not mentioned our library. Having a space to set aside and call The Library (though it is only most of the non-fiction books) and having enough room to re-arrange all the books and get them sorted in a way that we can find books without digging through piles of books in front of some of the cases is just wonderful. It doesn’t hurt that being able to geek out about book sorting with my husband fills me with a warm fuzzy feeling.
There are things I miss about the old neighborhood, to be sure. We haven’t found replacements for all of our old fave restaurants, for instance. And I’m still a little miffed at just how far apart the various grocery stores I shop at are now, compared to the old place. But, moving was good for many reasons. And I feel very lucky we found a place that we both like so much.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, these irises are descending from a small bag of rhizomes my grandma gave me some years before she died. Every few years I’ve dug them up and thinned them, usually finding some people to take the excess off my hands. I’d mentioned on Facebook a few weeks ago that this might be the last time I’d see grandma’s irises blooming, since we don’t have a yard at the new place. And a bunch of people, including several of my in-laws, said if I did want to dig them up they would take some. And one former co-worker pointed out that she had kept some large irises when she lived in an apartment without a yard in a one of those large, half-barrel style containers for several years until she bought a house and could plant them.
So many people offered to take some, I figured that I’d try to dig up the whole bed. Fortunately, the part of the structure that is transplantable (sometimes people call them bulbs, sometimes corms or tubers; when I looked it up to see if I was using the correct term, I learned that anatomically the part in question on irises is a rhizome) tends to grow close to the surface and half the time above the surface (particularly if you’re a bit overdue on the thinning, because they start growing over each other), so there wasn’t a lot of actual digging. I had to use the tiller a lot to loosen the soil, but mostly it was a matter of just pulling them up, shaking off the dirt, and piling them. Then I went through the pile to cut off the flowers and leaves so that I only bagged up the part people will need to replant to get them growing again…
Let’s start with shoes. Typically I have about four pairs of shoes at any given time: the shoes that I wear on workdays, slightly more interesting and casual shoes I wear other days, one pair of shoes suitable for formal occasions when I’d wear a suit and tie or the like (they happen irregularly and lately have most often been funerals, but when you need to dress up, you need to), and then there’s a pair of sort-of sandals that I can get my feet into even if I have really bad gout attacks in both feet at the same time, and otherwise are the pair I grab if I’m running out to take out the trash or some other temporary errand outside.
That last gives you an important clue about me. I don’t like wearing shoes. When I was a kid, my grandpa, who also ran around his house without shoes all the time, always said it was because he was an Okie at heart. “You can take the boy out of Oklahoma, but never take Oklahoma out of the boy.”
My workday shoes are never dressup shoes. They are usually some variant of hiking boot or pseudo-hiking boot, because for about two decades now my commute home has always included a few miles of walking–by choice. You’ll never get me to go to a gym regularly, but when given a choice between a crowded bus ride (or worse, waiting interminably for a bus because a traffic issue elsewhere in downtown has delayed all the buses) or a walk that will clear my head and doesn’t cost me anything, I’d rather take the walk.
My most recent pair of workday shoes were in need of replacement. It’s funny how shoes will be absolutely fine one day many months after buying them and walking several miles a day in them, and then one day you take a step and you can feel that the undersole support is collapsing. But buying new shoes takes time that I haven’t had lately, because every moment of my life has been filled with either tasks at work with looming dire deadlines, or trying to get through the enormous list of tasks that have to be done to get moved.
And then a bit over a week ago as I was packing, I found a pair of hiking boots in the closet that I hadn’t thrown out when I replaced them. I tried them on, and the undersole support felt intact. The entire shoe felt so much better than my current pair. So I started wearing them. A day or so later, my husband showed me a box of black leather tennis shoes, brand new in a box from the back of another closet. In my size. “I think you bought these as part of a two-for-one sale a while back,” he suggested.
So I told him about finding the other pair, which prompted him to ask whether I had thrown away the current pair that I knew needed replacing. “Well, no,” I admitted. “I just started wearing these because they’re in better shape, but I wore them for a long time a year or so ago, and they’re liable to break down soon.” To which he replied that if that happened I could switch to the brand new pair. And he threw away the current shoes.
Fast forward to the night I decided to squeeze in one more run of things over to the new place, and as I was running up the stairs with a box, it suddenly felt as if something had gotten hung up on my shoe was the flapping about.
Nope. The sole was simply coming off.
By chance, that brand new pair of shoes my husband had found had been carried over to the new place on a previous trip, and it didn’t take me many minutes to find them, so I could go back to running up and down the stairs.
I’m not sure which part of this I should be most embarassed about: that I was working in shoes that hurt my feet and choosing to put off fixing the problem until after the move; that I had hung onto an old pair of shoes I probably should have thrown out and had completely forgotten they were in the closet; that I had completely forgotten a pair of new shoes I bought some time back and let them get lost in the closet.
I recognize that packrat behavior is deeply ingrained in both of us. I have often commented that I’m a packrat, son of packrats, grandson of packrats, great-grandson of packrats (and probably more). I don’t intend that as some kind of excuse that the behavior is something I can’t help doing, but rather to remind myself that I have a ton of learned behaviors, attitudes, and assumptions that reinforce the bahavior. The fight is constant.
We have hauled a lot of stuff to Value Village. We’ve recycled so, so much paper that had been filed and boxed and not looked at in years. We’ve thrown away a lot of stuff. We’ve given away a lot of stuff. But there is still so much stuff!
Even though my goal for this move was not to move anything that we’d just unpack and get rid of, we both suspect that we’re going to decide, while unpacking, that a not insignificant fraction of what we’ve hung onto should have been pitched. We’ve also reached a point where we realize, due to time constraints, that a chunk of stuff that we haven’t had time to go through is going to have to be moved and sorted afterward.
I think the important thing will be not to let ourselves feel guilty about this. We had a plan. We had the goals. Some days we just don’t feel the same level of ruthlessness as others. And earlier in the process, when the number of boxes had not yet swelled into the triple digits, it was easier to be optimistic about how much we’d gotten rid of as opposed to how much we’ve kept.
Sometimes we fool ourselves, and those packrat habits of thinking have tricky ways to making us think we’re being practical in our decision making. And sometimes things fool us. Like the pair of boots and looked and felt as if they were in much better shape had had more wear left in them than the did.
At least I didn’t fall down the stairs when the shoe failed. Have to look at the bright side, right?
You can have my Andre Nortons when you pry them from my cold dead fingers, & other lessons of moving
Before we knew where we were moving to, we decided to use this opportunity to cull some of the collection. This would have been an absolute necessity if we were moving to a smaller place, but we also knew it was a good idea. There are always books that you realize you’re never going to read again, for instance, that have stayed on the shelf for years through inertia.
I had done most of the book packing until recently. Deciding which books to definitely keep, and setting others aside for my hubby to review. If he didn’t want to keep it, either, then we had to decide whether the book would go to the charity we’ve been shipping many to (Books Through Bars), or elsewhere. The first several shelves I did were a bit difficult, as I would hem and haw over half the books before deciding. But after a while (and having carried enough boxes of books to start appreciate just how much heavy toting was going to be involved in keeping all those books) I got faster at making the decision.
I didn’t quite realize I had done this until last weekend. My husband had recovered enough from the surgery that he was able to stand for longer periods, so he was going through bookcases in one room while I was working in another. And he keep interrupting me to show me a few books that he was dithering over.
I realized that he was earlier in the process than I was, but also that he was thinking of it differently. It was like he thought we had to reach a consensus on books as we went along. So I explained how I’d gotten to the point where I look at the book, and if I feel an immediate, “Yes, we’re keeping this!” I put it in the box. If not, I put it in the pile for my husband. And that’s it. I wasn’t holding up packing the current box in front of me until we’d made a decision. My idea was, as long as one of us wanted to keep it, that was good enough. I didn’t need to agree with every book he wanted to keep, nor did he have to agree with mine. “You can tell me I have to come look at the pile when you’re done.”
I did confess a couple of my other rules, though. One of which inspired the title of this post: “Even if I don’t remember the book, if Andre Norton wrote it, we’re keeping it.” She’s just one of those authors whose books really moved me when I was young, and every time I’ve gone back and re-read one, I’ve loved it all over again. There are other authors in that category, but only a few.
I have to admit if you had asked me during my teens or twenties who my favorite author was (and I did get asked), Norton wasn’t who I mentioned. It was only later, one of the times I had to move in my 30s (actually, I think it was when I and my ex- were dividing property, and the books got contentious), that I realized that I had a much stronger emotional reaction to the idea of not keeping a Norton than I did to pretty much any other author.
Of course, not all of the culling in the move involves books. Nor is it always emotional. The other night when I got home from work my husband said he had four boxes he’d pulled down from a shelf in he back closet that I needed to look at. They were full of papers. Most of the papers were hardcopies of material that had been published in the ‘zine I edited for over 20 years. The material has all been published and is available for purchase in multiple places. And a lot of these papers were copies marked up by editors. No reason to have held on to them this long, truth be told. One box had a bunch of things I worked on back in my teens and twenties. I pulled exactly three things out, and then carried the four boxes outside and put all the rest of the contents in the big recycle bin.
The next night while I was going through some other shelves in a closet, I pulled out two plastic file boxes. Now, I thought that those two boxes contained a bunch of records and legal papers. Tax records from years ago, for instance, and copies of my court documents related to my name change. Neither box contained anything like that. They were instead filled with hard copy markups of more edits and revisions source material for the shared universe of the ‘zine I used to edit. All stuff that had either already been entered into computer files and then published, or otherwise hadn’t been needed for years. But there they had sat for all that time, taking up space. So I made yet another trip out to the recycle bins!
There was a point when my husband was laughing about finding some notes from Dungeons & Dragons campaigns he was in or ran before he moved out to the west coast (so back in the 80s). So a bit later when I came across a pocket-sized ring-binder I had forgotten existed and said, “Hey! I have you beat!” He interrupted and said, “Oh, I have several little ones like that.” So I had to explain it wasn’t the notebook, but the contents. I showed him the first page (which was barely readable because of how the pencil marks had faded): “My first D&D character that survived more than a couple of games. Created in 1977, before Advanced Dungeons & Dragons even existed.”
I know it’s ageist, but sometimes the fact that I’m ten years older than him does figure into things. I was a teenager when the original D&D came out, and still a teenager when AD&D was released and took over gaming. While he was still in grade school.
And no, I didn’t keep the notebook. It’s gone!
Now, if only I could get rid of the steel filing cabinets we no longer need so easily…
We found a place last weekend which was big enough, in our price range, and not too far away. It’s in an older building and the neighborhood isn’t as nice as our current one (not that’s it’s horrible, it’s just more suburban mall/strip mall and less home town enclave hiding in a city). We applied, they asked us to come back and put down a deposit, because of the mulitiple applications they’d taken, we were the ones the manager wanted, but he needed to wait for the background checks to complete and the owner to give an okee-dokee. So we’ve been kind of in suspense all week. Yesterday, we signed the lease and got keys. I guess this is happening!I’ll be posting more about the new place, I’m sure. I need to go load some things in the car and get moving, so I’ll keep this brief, at least for me. One of the things that I’m finding myself oddly disturbed about this move is that the new place is not within the boundaries of the City of Seattle. I moved to Seattle 31 and a half years ago to attend university. The first couple of years I lived in dorm rooms at Seattle Pacific on the north side of Queen Anne (which is both a named hill in the city and the name of the neighborhood encompassing it). That put me just two city blocks away from the Ship Canal, which separates the north and south geographic clumps of the city. The next couple of places I lived were duplexes near the same university. Then I moved all the way to the south side of the same hill to sublet a condo near the Opera House. Then Ray and I lived in a small studio in Fremont, exactly one block north of the aforementioned Ship Canal. We moved to a barely larger one-bedroom apartment in the very same building for a few years, before finally moving to the four-plex in Ballard—a whopping 8 blocks north of the Ship Canal.
Not only have I been living only in Seattle the last 31+ years, but you can see on the map I slapped-together from a Google maps screen shot and some extra stars, it’s all been in a fairly small part of the city. I’m really familiar with all the stores and restaurants and so forth in this vicinity. I’ve mentioned several times how nice it is that be only two-four city blocks away from two different supermarkets, one of with (Ballard Market Town & Country) I’ve been shopping at for at least 30 years.Now people familiar with the area might point out the the City of Shoreline is barely out of Seattle. The two smoosh up against each other. Most of the border runs along major thoroughfares, so one side of a street is Seattle, the other side Shoreline. And it’s true, Shoreline is practically next door. But we’re barely in Shoreline. We’re all the way at the far side of it, just five blocks from the border to the next neighboring city, Edmonds. Which coincidentally means were five blocks from the border between King County and Snohomish County.
I’m deeply steeped in Seattle politics and was really looking forward to the next round of city council and mayor elections this coming fall. Except by then, while I will still be working in Seattle, I’ll no longer be able to vote there. I have to get used to a whole new set of election tropes! At least I’m still voting for King County Executive and a councilmember (though I’ve been in District 4 forever, and now we’ll be in District 1).
Anyway, I’ve spent longer on this than I meant. I have loading to do!
I come from a long line of packrats. So I have a very strong visceral reaction to the idea of throwing something away. Especially if there is any sort of sentimental attachment to it at all. So, when Ray passed away twenty years ago, when his mother, sister, and I went through all of his things to decide who would keep what and which things would go to a thrift shop, it was a very emotionally difficult time for me. I hung on to all sorts of things. And a couple of dozen of those things were some mugs. I didn’t hang on to all of his collection, by any means. For one thing, there were a several of the mugs that his mom, his sister, and one of his brothers wanted, because they reminded them of him. Those were easy to let go of, because I wasn’t disposing of them, I was sharing them with someone else who loved Ray as much as I did. But I still had a rather lot of them after that process was over.
And when I said I hung onto a couple of dozen, that’s a bit of an understatement. We had these racks mounted on the wall in the kitchen, each of which held ten mugs. There were four racks on the wall, and all of the racks were completely full. That wasn’t the entire collection. Even after several of his family members took some away. To be fair, not all of the mugs left hanging on the wall had been Ray’s. There were a couple that had been mugs I owned before Ray and I met, and there were several more that had been gifts to me from either Ray or a friend or family member which I hung onto with at least as much of a sentimental attachment as Ray had clung to his.
When Michael and I moved in together, I went through all of my stuff and all of Ray’s former things again, and had a not terribly pleasant emotional time picking more things to haul away. And that included some of the mugs and tea cups. Periodically over the years, we’ve repeated the process of going through things, getting rid of stuff we don’t use any more and/or forgot we had. It gets easier, particularly when I find something squirreled away on a shelf in a closet that I barely recognize, and can only vague describe as, “these are some souvenirs Ray wanted to keep of… something.”
The mugs have been a weird case because they’re hanging on the wall in the kitchen. I see them all the time. Unlike the boxes in closets or cupboards, I don’t ever forget they exist.
And we keep acquiring new mugs. People find funny or pretty mugs and get them for one or the other of us for birthdays or other gift-giving occasions. Or we buy them for each other. So I have to go through the mugs from time to time and decide which one or two or three to get rid of to make room for the new.
The most ridiculous part is, that most of the mugs hang up there on the wall and never get used. It’s sort of embarrassing if we have company over, and we have tea and/or coffee on offer, and somebody picks a funnyy mug off the way before I can get them one, because most likely which ever one they pick is going to be really dusty. So much so that they need more just a quick rinse to clean out. Part of that is because there were forty mugs hanging from the wall with only two people living here. But another part is that bit I mentioned at the beginning about me being an I-need-my-favorite-mug kind of guy. I almost always drink coffee from this one very over-sized purple mug of which I have written before. And I almost always drink tea from my “Queen of Everything” mug. I rinse and re-use those mugs day after day. And when, for whatever reason, I use a different mug, there is a fairly limited number of the mugs among the forty that are my go-to next favorites.
Which makes hanging onto all of the others even more ridiculous—right? There are, for instance, two Christmas themed mugs, one that Ray gave me, and one that someone else gave Ray, that are among those I’ve hung onto forever. Most years I make a point of getting down each of them around Christmas and using them at least once. One of them has and odd-shaped handle with a jingle bell built in that is a bit awkward to hold onto, and isn’t as festive to use because it’s hard to make the bell jingle. But it’s the mug that Ray gave me for, I think it was, our second Christmas living together, so the thought of parting with it is painful. The other one has a much narrower base than its mouth, and therefore is prone to being knocked over, but Ray adored it, so… Another odd one is a Valentine’s Day themed mug that Ray gave me on our very first Valentine’s Day together. It’s handle is heart-shaped, and very awkward to use. I haven’t used in it many years, with the excuse being that it is literally almost impossible to get off the rack because of how tight a fit the weird handle it. But I also wouldn’t part with it because, you know, first Valentine’s Day, right?
With the upcoming move, and the fact that I’ve lived in this place for more than 21 years (whereas Michael has lived here with me for 18½) we have a whole love of stuff that either needs to be packed and moved, or hauled away. Among the things I went through this weekend was the mugs. Among the large load that filled the back of the Subaru which I took to Value Village on Sunday was a very heavy box with at least 38 mugs and tea cups in it, plus three no longer needed racks. This left ten mugs hanging on the wall, plus my two favorites that never get hung up on the wall.
It felt really good to unload the stuff at the thrift store, and to carry out the five big bags of recycle. But I had made a comment to Michael last night that with the amount of emotional effort to pull down all those mugs, it’s kind of disappointing that it didn’t result it a space I can use for staging in the coming packing efforts. When I’ve been going through shelves and closets, afterward I’m left with space I can stack packed boxes in, and so one. But these were all on the wall—not really a usable space.
So I wrote most of this post last night while I was trying to unwind from the long day and get mentally settled so I could go to sleep. That post ended with a comment about trying to remind myself of the end goal of not trying to unpack and find room for a whole bunch of stuff we never use when we find out new home.
But this morning, when I walked into the kitchen shortly after waking up, I was startled at how different the wall looked without those other three racks full of mugs (and while I was working on the wall, I also took down and hauled away a bunch of copper jell-o molds that have just been decorative for years as I stopped making jell-o things when I was diagnosed pre-diabetic back in 2001!). The kitchen still has a lot of clutter in it. Other than the mugs, the rest of my purging this weekend was focused on the computer room and bedroom. But I was amazed at how less crowded the kitchen felt with more blank wall visible, and the immediate emotional lift I got. I am making progress, but even more, I didn’t feel any guilt about getting rid of Ray’s mugs.
Yay for letting go!