Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Dream

I had a dream.
In it there were warm, starry nights, blue mountains, and rolling green hills.
Birds flitted and sang, and native beasts boldly hopped and prowled.
The sun painted gold streaks with a broad brush.
When I breathed, the air was sharp and fragrant.  It sated my soul.
I was wildly exhilarated and at peace.
I wanted it to last, but I awoke.
I’m chasing the dream, and I’m gaining on it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Setting Up Household (Again)

In our married life, Ron and I have moved 3 times – Dallas to Vegas, Vegas to Memphis, and Memphis to Chicago. We are pretty familiar with the complex process of closing one household down and setting up the next. When we transitioned from Memphis to Chicago, we had some overlap when we were enjoying both homes. We’re doing that again for this move to Prescott (#4). Chicago will continue to be our primary residence for the next year or two, so we won’t be stripping the house to set up the new place in Prescott. This makes things a little complicated…expensive too.

Our approach is to consider the items we know will make the move, and try not to make purchases that duplicate them. However, to spend quality time in Prescott we needed some basic things like dishes, cookware, and silverware. We’ll decide later what things are keepers, and what will be donated, repurposed, or sold.

So far, the biggest challenge is furniture shopping. Choices are somewhat limited. And if you go outside Prescott, as we did to Phoenix on Tuesday, delivery becomes problematic. There’s a sectional sofa I want at La-Z-Boy, but they only deliver to Prescott once a month. Timing of our next visit will have to be coordinated with that in mind. Delivery charges are also high, since we are 2 hours from Phoenix and an hour from Flagstaff. That just has to be taken into account as part of the price of living here.  And it's so beautiful here that the cost is worth it.

A fun aspect of this process is that we have learned a lot over the years about what works for us and the essentials of making a household a home. The discussions Ron and I have over furnishings and decorating decisions are lively and interesting. Ron isn’t one to leave all the design decisions to me, so if I have something specific in mind I must use all my feminine wiles and negotiating skills. And I have to be flexible and keep an open mind; because Ron has really good ideas (and mine are sometimes a bit “out there”).

By the time we head back to Chicago, we can feel good about a number of accomplishments: All utilities activated; leak in propane tank discovered and repaired (whew); repaired leak and wall in laundry room; kitchen ready for action; rug & chairs for living room delivered; washer & dryer delivered and installed; new air filters throughout; new vacuum cleaner put into service; table & chairs for outdoor patio; lighted makeup mirror on bathroom wall; windows washed; kitchen & bathrooms scrubbed; introduction to (fully tricked out and awesome) fitness center; 9 holes of golf and meeting new friends.

We are fully cognizant that we are setting the foundation for the next phase of our runaway life, and it’s really, really exciting. For us, a dream is once again becoming reality. We wish the same for you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Euphoria in the Desert

We closed on our new home in Prescott, AZ yesterday. It’s hard to believe that we have taken this big step into the next phase of our “runaway” life. We didn’t expect to find our home in the Southwest this soon, but the situation was too perfect to pass by. From the first moment after stepping into this "Ranch Cottage", I could see us living here. May sound weird to some, but I mean I felt that we were meant to be here.

We have 2070 square feet, with 2 bedrooms, a den, and 2 baths. There are lots of windows with views out to the golf course, the desert, and the mountains. The floorplan is very open, enhanced by high ceilings with beams and other wood touches. Most of the flooring is ceramic tile that looks like slate. Three patios provide plenty of outdoor space to enjoy, even though the lot is the smallest we have ever had (.2 acres). The lawn is a desert landscape or xeriscape (from the Greek word “xero”, meaning dry), and is maintained by the homeowners association.

Our first few days in the house will be filled with cleaning and a few minor repairs (the side effect of buying a foreclosure “as is”). Truly, there are few issues, and we are getting to know our place through this welcome work. The weather is great and we had the windows open yesterday. At one point I smelled something marvelous, and when I looked up I realized that it was raining outside. What I smelled was the desert plants soaking up the rain. It’s a sweet, fresh, energizing scent. Birds were twittering in excitement and flying around snatching up worms. It was lovely.

Another busy day ahead of us today… We’ll spend our first night in the house tonight, after I shop for some bedding and towels. We hope to cook up something on the grill for dinner tonight. (Ah, that would mean I need some dishes and silverware too, wouldn’t it?) Bed Bath & Beyond, here we come!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Home Place & Family History

This past weekend, Ron and I spent several days in Melvin, IL at his family’s farm. Along with two of his brothers, Tim and Ken, and Ken’s wife Joy, we began the process of cleaning out some old belongings from the “home place”. No one lives in the farm house now, and it is suffering from inattention and disrepair. A weekend of dusty work made a dent in what needs to be done, but the hard part is still ahead of us – deciding what to do with the house and the farm land for the long term. Sharecroppers still plant and harvest corn and soybeans on the acreage. There are no longer any farmers in the immediate family, and the sensible thing to do is to sell it all. But the history is long (back to the early/mid 1800’s) and complex emotions run deep, swirling around family memories. It’s not a decision to be made lightly.

Joy and I spent a good deal of time working our way through boxes and boxes of family photos, spanning generations back to Civil War times. The images are with me still, and I am intrigued by the people long gone. Now that I know their faces from so many photos – baby pictures, class photos, wedding portraits, and on into old age - I want to know their stories. Many were not marked with names or dates, so are part of a genealogical puzzle to be slowly pieced together. When we opened a box that included old newspaper clippings with obituaries, it was a jackpot of names, dates, and lists of relations. The experience made me want to go home, write on the back of all my old photos, and better organize and tag my digital images.

There is lingering feeling of sadness after this weekend of work. So much of what we saw, handled, and in some cases threw into a dumpster, were belongings that were important to people that were dear to us. We have the memories, but parting with the evidence of the details of their lives is painful. The photos make it a little easier, I think. In the photos is proof of love, happiness, vitality, and loads of personality across generations. In the Buchholz lineage (Ron’s mother’s family) you see serious and hearty German stock that settled farmland in Illinois, Minnesota, and Nebraska. Here, the Buchholz men consistently married the prettiest girls in town, as evidenced by class photos from Melvin high school. There was also sadness in lives cut short by accident or illness. It’s all part of the texture of rich and complex lives.

This walk through history somehow makes the present more precious. We inhabit just brief blips in time, and we all should relish every moment we have to enjoy life.

Photo is circa 1890, of Dr Charles Buchholz and his father August Buchholz (Ron’s great-great grandfather) at Balanced Rock, Gateway Garden of the Gods, in Manitou, Colorado.