Kummerspeck

One of my favorite grandparenting activities is reading to (and now with) my grandkids. Some books have a way of showing up in real life.

For example, Kellen, who was not obeying at the time, recently announced to me that he was “invincible.” I called him mother and in the ensuing conversation she proved otherwise. He had been reading a little too much Calvin and Hobbes.

That same night, I picked up another book, which Kellen told me “wasn’t a good one.” It was a book titled “Other Wordly–words both strange and lovely from around the world.”

Croodle” is an English word which means “to cuddle nestle together from fear or cold.”

Inglenook is another English or Scots term indicating a “close, intimate corner by a fireplace where people gather for warmth.”

Swedes use the word “smultronställe” to describe “a special place discovered, treasured, returned to for solace and relaxation; a personal idyll free from stress or sadness.”

German offers two words that fit our current circumstances:

Schwellenangst” literally is “threshold anxiety or the fear of embarking on something new or entering a place.”

And, “kummerspeck, excessive weight gain through eating as a means of relieving stress or strong emotions” –an apt description of my response to the stress of the past few months. While we have trimmed down our stuff, I will be taking an extra 10 lbs to the new house.

We’ve been busy sorting through our stuff and packing. Elmhurst conveniently had a Spring Cleanup Day a week ago and the College hosted a Recycling Event this last Saturday. A POD was dropped off this morning, which John plans to fill with the contents of our garage. (I was dismayed to see its signage: 1-800-PACKRAT.) We sign the closing documents on the 9th; have the POD picked up on the 10th; and the movers come on the 11th. Both closings are on the 12th and we will move in on the 13th.

We are so looking forward to having this behind us, to creating a smutronställe in Aurora, an inglenook and a place to croodle with our grandkids. We’re especially interested in leaving behind the schwenllenangst of the past months, as well as the kummerspeck. One thing we know for sure; we are no longer (if we ever were) invincible!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New House/ Blank Canvas

We bought a house in the burbs!

After our lost bid, John spent the next day (while I worked) researching and looking at houses. He found a ranch that he said was “nice, but no glamour–functional, light.” It’s selling point was that the basement was entirely finished and very light and sunny.

We looked at it again the next day and also looked at another that had a lot more glamour but a completely unfinished basement. It also smelled like a smoker lived there.

We ended up going back and forth between the two, choosing the finished basement, clean home (the previous owner’s wife had problems with allergies so it was the polar opposite in air quality) and ranch style, which seemed wise for a couple in their mid-60s.

It’s a little boring, but I’m looking at it as a blank canvas. There is very little work that needs to be done, so we can concentrate on making it our own in other ways.

It is also relatively new–only 11 years old with one owner. This will be a new experience for us as we have always lived in old houses (with the exception of the duplex in Alaska.) It has a brand new furnace and air conditioner and a clean 2-car garage. The main floor walls are all white and the “lower level” is a pleasant yellow. (My friend said it shouldn’t be called a basement.) The deck is functional but uninteresting and the yard is mostly undeveloped, but sunny.

The kitchen/dining room is large and open, a huge contrast to the claustrophobic kitchens I’ve had in the last two houses. I haven’t measured yet, but I think there must be  a good 16-18 feet of countertop compared to what I have now and lots of drawers and cabinets. It will be our first house without a separate dining room, which I think will be a nice change. It also has a small island with a “breakfast bar.” The entire room, including the dining area, is 16’x20′.

This morning I cooked up a Tartan Room, an Alaskan Room, and a sewing area in the bright corner of the basement. There’s even room for a longarm 🙂

This is going to be fun.

(If you are the nosy type, you can look it up on Zillow: 2225 Roaring Creek Dr., Aurora.)

P.S. Today is our 40th anniversary! The proscribed gift for 40 is a ruby, but I think this is better.

Not for sissies!

“Old age is not for sissies.” I hear this line frequently at work as I commiserate with my patients about the challenges of aging. Nor is selling/buying a house.

You will have figured out that we did not win our bid on the house, a disappointing but not devastating outcome. We are guessing that our bid was higher but that the other family didn’t have any contingencies. Even though things are going well on our sale, we still have a contingency on the closing and they chose not to take that risk.

My reading for today was (appropriately) Psalm 73, where Asaph indulges in self-pity and envy of others around him. I was encouraged by the reminder that:

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel.
My flesh and my heart may (do!) fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

It is good for me to be near my God; I have made the Lord God my refuge.

I love the Psalms for how real they are–and how they are able to bring us back to our senses, back to the truth. But I could still use your prayers as we continue to look at houses. I don’t have much heart for it at this point. I’m still a sissie.

Wisdom

The Final Four didn’t work out the way we thought it would. Although we thought we could live in any of the four houses, we walked away from our tour more confused than ever. We decided to take a couple days off and not rush things.

This morning we talked about our options and started looking a bit further afield. Our realtor sent us a automatic list of properties and I scanned through it. The very last one was interesting. It had just come on the market and looked perfect, inside and out. We cajoled our realtor to take us today because it looked like it might go fast. (She arrived home from vacation after midnight and was trying to prepare for tomorrow, but agreed to meet us at five.)

We loved the house: the colors, the style, the size, the kitchen, the rooms upstairs and the finished basement. We also loved the deck, the yard (backs onto a large park and walking path) and the exterior of the house. We also loved the price.  Before I even got to the second floor, I was telling her to put in a bid for us.

As we left, another couple came in to see the house. It was so hard not to tell them to go away! We met with our realtor at a nearby library and filled out all the forms and signed all the papers.

We thought we wouldn’t hear anything until the morning, but the realtor called to say they had a dual offer–two offers that came in about the same time. We have until noon to give them our “best” offer, without any idea of what the other bidder offered or will offer. Crazy.

We’ll let you know how this turns out, but in the meantime we are asking you to pray. Pray that we will be wise, that we will sleep peacefully, and that we will trust God no matter the outcome.

Last month Laura made a reading plan of Proverbs, Praise (Psalms) and a Promise to be read each morning. I enjoyed it so much that I sketched out a similar plan for April using different Psalms and different promises, all rather randomly chosen. The last few days I’ve read this:

“Fear not, stand firm and see the Salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. The Lord will fight for you. You have only to be silent (Exodus 14:14.)

 

“For the Lord gives wisdom. From his mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2)

 

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously and without reproach” (James 1:5.)

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight (Proverbs 3.)

 

“Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46.)

 

“If you ask anything in my name, this I will do. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14.)

 

“God works ALL things together for good” (Romans 8:28.)

None of this means that our bid will be accepted, but it does mean that we can ask for wisdom and let God do his work. He knows all the factors that we do not know. We need to be quiet before him and see how he works all things together for good.

However, if you read this on the morning of April 5, please do pray with us. We are asking that our bid be accepted, but also that we will be at peace during the process and with the final outcome.  We are asking for wisdom.

Final Four

“March Madness” seems like an apt description of the past month, even though the craziness had nothing to do with basketball.

Our house went up for sale on March 1st and nine days later, we had a buyer. This was followed by the inspection and a flurry of emails from our lawyer. We hired contractors to install a radon mitigation system, seal cracks in the foundation, and sweep our chimney. When all that was done, John had to replace the panels he had removed and patch the drywall (yet, again.)

In the midst of this, our washing machine broke down and we had to have our lawyer ask their lawyer to ask them if it was okay for us to buy a new machine.

Our last hoop to jump through was an appraisal/FHA inspection. We haven’t received the official report yet, but our realtor told us that the appraisal was good, so it looks like the deal will go through.

We also started house hunting. We looked at rentals for a week or so. There wasn’t much available, so we decided that we needed to look at purchasing after all.  We have been spending our time pouring over Zillow and visiting houses with a realtor.

It’s actually been kind of funny: We’ll walk in a house and the realtor will start pointing out the “dated” features, all of which look quite modern to me. My 90-year old bungalow (which I do love) has prepared me to be very accepting of flaws in another house. I’m ready to be done with old-old and finding these 30-year old houses just fine.

We are planning to go see the Final Four tomorrow–and possibly make a decision. Any of them would be fine so I’ve drawn up an Excel Spreadsheet to list their different features, costs, etc. so we can compare them somewhat rationally. We have a lot of variables to consider and this seems the best way to do it.

Two are in Laura and Taylor’s neighborhood and two are in an older area less than two miles away.   One of them backs up to the park where the kids play and another is near the high school. (The realtor told us that we might not be interested in it because it was near the baseball field–too loud. I wanted to send her a picture of our back yard and the baseball field just beyond our fence.) They all have fireplaces, family rooms, basements, 3-4 bedrooms and a good spot for my hot tub 🙂

March Madness.

Sold!!!! (????)

WE SOLD OUR HOUSE!!! We sold our house. Ah, yeah, we sold our house…um…well, maybe.

We got an offer on day 9 of the showing process. John counter-offered and then they countered and he accepted it. Whew! The inspection was scheduled two days later.

All we heard the night of the inspection was that there was a concern about the possibility of past water in the basement. John went to bed worrying, even though in 28 years we have NOT had any flooding, even in the worst rainstorms.

The 30-page report came on Monday, followed by an attorney letter requesting a few repairs: radon abatement, basement sealing, and the chimney swept and examined. The other requests were all small, easily fixed problems. We sent our responses back to our lawyer and she drafted a letter to the buyers’ lawyer.

All of this is a pretty normal–and actually fortunate–home-selling process but we are NOT enjoying this at all. We are trying to trust the Lord and not worry (read: obsess) about the details, but it ain’t easy.

What a contrast to our past home buying (and selling) experience: We bought our first home in 1982 (for a lot less money) with something like a handshake among friends. We sold it five years later to another set of friends. We may have had a closing at that time, but I don’t have any memory of it. Even when we bought our current home in 1988, it seemed much simpler and much more friendly. (Um, I don’t remember the agents and lawyers being so intensely involved. Just saying.)

We’ve also started our hunt for our next home, hopefully a house for rent in the vicinity of Aurora or Warrenville. We saw two houses the first weekend, but have just been looking online (working with a realtor) since then. We still have a bit of time so we’re not frantic yet, but it certainly is a concern. Closing date is May 12.

And now, we wait. The hard part is knowing that it still could all fall through and we’d be back at Square One.

       “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.                     Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established.                                      The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”                                                        — Proverbs 16: 1, 3, and 9. 

I keep thinking of two of my dad’s favorite phrases: “Relax, God is in control” and his frequent prayer that God would lead “every step of the way.” I’ve faced a lot of tough things in my life, but this one is particularly stressful. Relax….step-by-step….Relax….

Finishing

I finished my towels–and finished getting the house ready for market!

The final step in weaving is finishing–usually by washing–which changes the threads into whole cloth. One writer calls it “wet finishing”, stating that may involve more than simple washing. She lists scouring, agitation and compression as key finishing factors.

Although I simply washed and folded my towels, the words “scouring, agitation, and compression” are a much better fit for the metaphor of getting the house ready. I’ve never been so tired in my life!

First of all, shortly after posting my last blog “Loose Ends” I realised I was using a sugar-coated euphemism, like none other. “Tying up loose ends” doesn’t begin to describe the work that we did these last two weeks. For example, here is John tying up a loose end:

Besides this, he spent a cold day under our back porch bringing the electric connection for the hot tub and pool up to code by burying the cables and connecting pipe to the box. He also had to remove the blocks from the hot tub. The realtor was impressed with his design, but didn’t want buyers to think that “the whole place has been jerry-rigged.” (Haha–it has!)

I cleaned and cleaned, and cleaned more. (And the more I cleaned the more I found that needed more cleaning. To be on the safe side, I left $$ to pay a cleaning lady to come in and make it shine.)

On Monday morning, I locked the door and left it all behind, driving eight hours to Stormy Lake (with a few stops at quilt and fiber stores) to join John, John2 and Lizi. Even Luna is on vacation, staying with our friends the Homiaks. We are planning to rest–and pray–while Tim Schiller does his part back in Elmhurst. We can’t even think about what’s next.

We’re finished!

Loose Ends

Earlier this week I took six yards of towels off of my loom. I spent the rest of the week with a needle, weaving what felt like a million loose ends into the weft.

Yesterday I used my serger (yeah!) to cut the towels apart and finish the edges. Today, I will hem them with my regular sewing machine.

 

We have also been tying up a lot of loose ends at home, in the final stages of getting the house ready for market. Picture day is Tuesday. Next Sunday, we leave town for 8-10 days while our realtor puts it on the market. Open House is planned for March 5th.

This. Is. Really. Happening.

We bought our last house from friends and sold it to friends, so we’ve never been through this process. We’re a little nervous.

We hope it sells quickly so we don’t have to live on edge for very long. Maintaining a show-ready house seems like a daunting task to us.

We also are anxious to figure out the next step in our life. We know we want to rent and we want to be closer to our grandkids in Aurora. We’d also like more freedom to spend time with our Kiwi granddaughter. We have a lot of variables to fit into the equation, so for now we are simply taking the next step, which is to get the house on the market.

Lots of loose ends.

Distractions

We are in the home stretch (we hope) in getting our house ready for market. It has been a long, tedious process, one that feels like it will never end.

Fortunately, I have plenty of distractions to help maintain my sanity and joy.

This week I moved my loom upstairs to my “project room.” I cleared out a lot of stuff that was cluttering up the room: journals, scrapbooks, bins of organized family pictures and old letters, and more bins of neatly folded fabric. My u-shaped room now has a weaving area, a sewing area and a desk for my genealogy.

  

 

 

Weaving. I bought a warping board on my birthday (early October) and started the process of dressing my loom to make sampler tea towels. I was aiming for a 9-yard warp of 300 strands of 8/2 cotton. I thought I’d complete my project before Thanksgiving but it took all those weeks just to get the loom dressed (i.e. ready to weave.)

Once completed, however, it has been such a pleasure to weave! In the midst of life, it’s so sweet to sit down for 20 minutes here and there and weave for awhile. I love the rhythm of it as well as the challenge of catching mistakes and fixing problems. Love learning new skills.

Genealogy. I bought myself a DNA kit in December and sent it off for analysis. The results were no surprise: I am 49% Scandinavian, 30% split between the UK and Ireland, and another 11% Western European. I suppose the biggest surprise was that Western European piece. My maternal grandparents were both very Swedish; my paternal grandparents both very Scottish, though a few generations back one of the families lived in Ireland. I don’t know any ancestors that lived in Western Europe, but I suppose my genes could have traces from people that migrated north before records were preserved.

Through the process, I met an Irish 6th cousin who lives 15 miles down the road from the little town of Donaghadee, County Down, where our mutual great-great-great-grandfather was born in 1787. I spent a week or so studying his descendant tree to learn all I could about the family. About half of them emigrated to Australia and another third of them ended up in either Canada or America. Very few of them remained in the Scotland or Ireland.

Through this cousin I also found transcripts of 48 letters written by my grandmother’s bachelor uncle to a niece back in Scotland from 1905 to 1942. Uncle Andrew emigrated to America in 1905, spending a year on the east coast in shipbuilding. His name and address in Quincy, MA are listed on my grandmother’s passenger records as her sponsoring relative. However, both she and her uncle came to Chicago where they joined another uncle and his family.

Writing home, Andrew reports that “we have Jenny Bitcon here with her companion Mary Turner. We have christened Jenny “Clipper.” She has a tongue that would clip clouts.” He also mentions that “Jenny and Mary got situations both in the same house.” In 1911, he reports that “Jenny will be married soon,” commenting, “that will be all married now. My, what a great relief for the mother.”

These kind of distractions make me happy 🙂

P.S. I googled “a tongue that would clip clouts” and found this in a Dictionary of the Scots Language: a tongue that wad (cud) clip cloots (clouts), a sharp tongue; Gen.Sc.; (4) clip-clouts, a sharp-tongued person; (5) to clip cloots wi’, to quarrel with, find fault with (someone). 

Poof!!

Four days at Disney. Four parks.         Four Starbucks.
Lots of people. Long lines.
Ten Rides.
Six Shows.
Five different eating experiences.
Two parades.
Fireworks.

 

 

 

Eight month old Charlee seemed to enjoy it all, smiling,bouncing and raising her arms in delight. (In turn, she provided a lot of entertainment for us and those around us.) It was also fun to experience it with James; he had never been to a theme park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The image that sticks in my mind is a cloud of smoke with a character either appearing or disappearing in an instant. Poof–There’s Elsa, ready to sing “Let it go.” Or a trap door opens and Indiana Jones drops from the ceiling or disappears down a hole.

Although we anticipated the arrival and dreaded the departure of our Kiwi family, it still feels like a cloudburst–Poof–they’re gone, whisked away to the other side of the world.

We spent 25 days with them, watching Charlee begin to crawl, then stand. We enjoyed our mornings with her, bedtimes, and everything in between. We strapped her in her carseat, carried her in a front pack, and pushed her stroller around Chicago and Disney. We hugged and kissed and snuggled our little Kiwi grandchild, trying to pack six months of love into three weeks.

Skype, Facetime, Viber and Instagram are wonderful but no match for having a baby in your arms, your home and on vacation. We’re already plotting our next adventure.