Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bye 2011

New Year SMS

Well, I sure did try to make 2011 the year that I finally moved to the pedestrian neighborhood near downtown where I want to be.  2011 was the best time to make that happen, because when housing prices begin to rise again, the prices there will rise at a much faster rate than the rest of the area.  It is really difficult to live in a house which has to be available for showings, but I did it.  There was at least one showing per week for several months until July, when activity pretty much stopped.

No offers were made on my house, not even low offers.  I came to realize that the house would not sell in this market unless changes were made.  So my kitchen is being renovated and the rest of the house is being dealt with as much as I can afford..  I am doing what I can myself, and have become rather adept at plaster repair and interior painting.

Then, in early spring, the house will go back on the market.

Meanwhile, I have a different relationship with this house.  I never really liked this house before, and I was always very detached from it.  I never made it a home.

Over the past few weeks I have put a lot of effort into carefully choosing paint colors and small upgrades like outlet covers.  I really like the new colors I've applied, except for the bathroom which has 2 impossible per-existing tile colors.  I ended up having to faux finish the walls of the bathroom, and the resulting wall color is OK. 

When the house is placed on the market again, I will have a new attitude.  I will know that I have made this house as appealing as it can be within a reasonable budget.  The house looks a million times better that it used to.  Maybe its "energy" has changed.

Happy new year.


Monday, December 19, 2011


This is from my final set of photos taken of my kitchen prior to renovation:

And this is what that view looks like now:

A picture is NOT worth a thousand words in this case.  It all looks very neat, orderly and acceptable in this photo.  It looks as though the renovation is not disrupting any lives; it looks as though the house this room is in is still functional.  It does not appear that the homeowner is losing her ever-loving mind.

The horror stories you've heard about kitchen renovations are all true.  Guaranteed.  I just hope the one thing every survivor claims, about the renovations always taking twice as long as promised, is NOT true. 

I suppose that if this were a bigger house, it wouldn't bother me so much to have workers in it 7 days a week.  There are only 4 rooms in the house.  I can't stand to have this much contact with other people.

I also can't find anything.  Now I realize that I used to store a shocking number of non-food items in my kitchen - necessities like scissors, paper, writing utensils, important papers and contact information.  (It's a four-room house after all.)  I can't find anything now, even though I am the one who hauled everything out of the kitchen.  It's a tiny  house, which means that accessible and viewable storage of displaced items is not an option. 

It goes without saying that it's extremely challenging to live for weeks on end with no kitchen.  It's impossible to eat properly with no kitchen.  I suppose if we lived near a health food store, it wouldn't be so bad.  But we don't.

And then there are situations like this morning.  I never get sick, and one of the reasons I don't is because whenever I feel anything coming on, I go straight to the kitchen to take whatever remedies apply.  I eat garlic or onions (natural antibiotics), take some echinachea for general malaise or some cherry bark syrup for a sore throat.  Well, you know where this is going.  I could barely get out of bed when the alarm went off at 6:30 this morning, and I knew I needed echinachea.  And yes, you guessed it - I haven't the foggiest idea where it is.

It is notable that the only time I have ever failed to get The Child to school on time occurred last week.  My life is so turned upside down that I failed to awaken last Thurday when the alarm went off.  The Child was forced to go to detention because of it, even though I wrote a lengthy note to the school administrators explaining that it was entirely my fault.  I should have been sent to detention.  In fact, I should have been sent to detention for making the decision to renovate. 


Some time has passed since I began writing this post .  Here's what the kitchen looks like now:

It doesn't look much different, even after more than 2 weeks of work, but there's been a lot of electrical work to re-do that doesn't show.  The renovator (who usually works alone without helpers) often talks to himself or whistles while he works.  I like that.  He seems to enjoy what he's doing, even though he gave me such a low price that he's probably not making any money on this job.  I also like the fact that he works 7 days a week. How many workers do that?  (I can just imagine the outcry if the employees at my workplace were asked to work 7 days without a day off!  Heads would roll!)

No matter what the new kitchen ends up looking like, I guarantee that I'm going to be thrilled to have one again.  

Meanwhile  I have begun painting elsewhere in the house.  I painted the master bedroom pale yellow, as Cinderella suggested.  I think it looks really good.  The room (which is where The Child sleeps) is  a wreck, so I'm not posting photos.......well, actually, I will...............

Here's before:

Here's after:

Cinderella obviously has a good eye for color.  I am very pleased with the room.  Thanks, Cinderella!  Next, when I have time to shop, I am getting new carpeting for the room.

Progress is being made.


Monday, November 28, 2011

calm before the storm

Peace prevails, but not for long.  Next Monday I will be turning my house over to the renovators who are re-doing my kitchen.  I have heard horror stories from those who have endured kitchen renovations.  I never thought I'd be joining their ranks.  Yet here I am, bracing myself for my small house to become engulfed in turmoil for at least a month.  And I will have no kitchen during that period.  I just hope it doesn't send me over the brink.

I never gave a hoot what my kitchen looked like as long as it functioned.  (And it did.)  But ohhhhhhh nooooooo.  It's not good enough for the people who viewed my house when it was for sale.  They found my kitchen unacceptable.  I hope they realize that now, after spending a ton of money on renovations, I will have no room to negotiate when the house goes back on the market in the spring. 

Of course I'm scared.  I just can't figure out what my biggest fear is.  I suppose it's that the renovations I'm doing won't be enough.  Is it enough to do the kitchen, the floors, and paint the walls?   I can't help but notice that once you start making changes to a 50 year old house, everything that isn't changed stands out more than it did before.

I worry that the renovated kitchen will end up being mine, and it isn't being designed for me.  It is designed for Jane Doe Homebuyer.  The plan is that I am supposed to be able to sell this house after the renovations.  But the plan may not work, and I don't need or want a new kitchen.

I am scared.


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Kitchen confusion

This is my kitchen.  Apparently many people who have had showings at my house (which is for sale) have considered this kitchen to be unacceptable, in that it is small and in need of updates (according to them).

Sometimes that assessment feels like an insult, since I personally have no problem with the kitchen (although I'll admit that it's small).  How is it that this kitchen is good enough for me but it's not good enough for other people?

My realtor, who really is good at his job, claims that in the current market, my house will not sell unless I have certain renovations done in the kitchen.

Yes, the cabinets look worn.  They are 50-year-old high-quality cabinets.  They don't look particularly impressive under a microscope but they function perfectly well.

Yes, the oven and stove are dated.  But they work perfectly well.  (The oven is beside the stove, above it and to the right.)

The refrigerator is not stainless steel  Who cares?  It works.

The floors are "vintage".
I wonder if flooring sold today will last 50 years.  Let me guess.........

The countertops - well, even I don't like the countertops.  But....yeah, they work.

Why, I say why do so many people find this peninsula offensive?   Seriously.

When I moved into this house, the cupboards above the peninsula had doors on them, making the kitchen tiny and dark (and yet I bought the house!).  I removed the cupboard doors, which instantly brightened up the kitchen.

As it is, the peninsula divides the room into a (small) kitchen and a (small) dining area.

The renovation recommended by the realtor calls for demolition of the peninsula.  (This was originally my idea, but I have since abandoned it.  The realtor has grabbed onto it like a bulldog.) 

I think it would be a mistake to open up the area into one room.  It will then be about the size of a normal kitchen (although still not a very big one).  The realtor wants me to get rid of my current table (rectangular with leaves) and replace it with a small round elevated cafe table with 2 chairs.  (Augh!   Is he nuts?)  I think the proposed plan will look awkward and will draw attention to the fact that the house has no dining room.

These 2 comparative drawings put it all into perspective:

As it is now, I could probably fit 6 people into my dining area if I tried.  Maybe.  (I have never tried.)

The realtor's (and contractor's) plan includes painting the cabinets white, replacing the countertops with granite, moving the (new stainless steel) refrigerator to the end of what is now the dining area, getting rid of the soffits, removing the wallpaper (I'd do that myself), installing a new stainless steel stove, ceramic floors and of course removing the peninsula.

Here's what I think:  I should replace the counters with black granite, install white and black large checkered vinyl flooring, remove the wallpaper, replace the refrigerator and stove with stainless steel, leave the old oven in place (it can be used for storage if it's not needed for baking).  Leave the peninsula as is.

I am not a realtor, nor am I a renovator.  And I am the type who has a hard time spending money.  But tell me.  What do you think?


Friday, October 28, 2011


Well, my house is still for sale.  No offers.  Not many showings.  The comments are that they love the location on the park, they love the setting, but the house needs too much work. 

I guess it shows that a single mother with no handyman-type skills and no family in the area has lived here for over 10 years, with a young son and dogs.  If my father lived  nearby, things would be different.  He probably would have helped me keep the place up.  As it is, he's never even set foot in my house.

Over the years I've doled out thousands of dollars to handymen - it's not as though I've neglected the house.  But apparently those thousands of dollars were not enough.

I have listened to the comments.  I have already made some changes, slowly and carefully due to my concern about money.  I had new oak floors installed in the living room and hallway, and the guest bedroom floors refinished. 
That was a good start, but not nearly enough to make the house sell.  A generous friend who just bought new furniture gave me her old living room furniture, so now my living room looks like this:

It's a vast improvement, but not enough.

I have touched up the paint on all the walls, and when I have time I'm going to paint the master bedroom.  I'm also going to have new carpet installed in the master (after the paint job is finished!).  I will also attempt to re-grout the shower myself, despite dire warnings from everyone who knows anything about it.

I'm in the process of deciding how much money I'm willing to spend to renovate the kitchen.  It is a tough decision, because I am unlikely to be able to justify expensive renovations with a high selling price.  My  house is still going to be extremely small, with no backyard (but a lot of landscaping maintenance) AND another house on the park (a house bigger and better than mine) just sold for a very low price ($30,000 lower than my asking price).  (That will affect the offers on my house, if I ever receive any.....)

It would make sense for me to wait until the market improves EXCEPT for one problem: the neighborhood I want to move to will never again be as affordable as it is now.  When home values begin to rise again, the values in that neighborhood will rise much more dramatically than in this neighborhood.



Friday, September 16, 2011

dream adjustment

Over this past summer I have contemplated giving up on my dream of moving to a Victorian house in the downtown pedestrian neighborhood which I am crazy about.  I don't want to give it up, but my attempt to sell my current house so that I can buy in the desired neighborhood has not worked out.

I think each individual has to do what it takes to thrive according to his or her unique preferences.  Some of us consider marriage, children, living in a certain part of the world, or maybe a certain job or salary level to be preferences necessary for thriving.  I did have a goal of finding a job in a field where jobs are scarce, and fortunately that worked out.  Ever since then I have focused on the elusive goal of finding a house in a pedestrian neighborhood.

I already know what it's like to live in the neighborhood downtown because I have lived there in the past.  I did thrive, since it seems to be in my blood to live in a pedestrian neighborhood.  I grew up in that type of neighborhood and never even owned a car until I moved to the city I now live in.  Every once in a while someone will ask me why I'm so hell bent on moving to that neighborhood.  This is not a casual whim; I have spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what "home" means to me, and the neighborhood near downtown is it.  And I really can't think of anything else that I have wanted during recent years.

Maybe most of today's adults did not grow up in a pedestrian neighborhood.  I'm glad I did, because it gave me a lifelong standard .  I never forgot it.

However, I am now frustrated by it.  I don't really have a lot of others dreams or desires.  I've always been pretty low maintenance, I think, except for my fussiness about houses.  I have never been one to spend a lot of money on things like travel, clothing, furniture, jewelry or cars.  The only thing I have really wanted is a Victorian house in the pedestrian neighborhood near downtown.

I do have options, of course.  I can lower the price.  I can renovate my house.  I can just keep waiting (my house has been on the market since March) for that elusive "right buyer" to come along with a purse full of money.  Or I can give up.

The Child and I have lived in this house for ten years.  I bought it because I thought its location on a park made it the ideal place to raise a child.  Well, looking back, I'd say that my particular child didn't give a hoot about growing up on a park.  He turned out to be a computer nerd who spends all of his time indoors. 

From the beginning it was clear that this house did not suit me at all.  A friend came to visit from out of state after we had been living here a few months, and I vividly recall his observation that I was "failing to thrive" in this house.  It's very small and poorly laid out.  I never found the right spaces in this house to do what I need to do for work.  Even the outdoor space was a disappointment, since there is no backyard for me to create the kind of outdoor space, complete with a fish pond. which I want.  Its late 50s/early 60s architecture is very unappealing to me.  I dislike the low ceilings and wall-to-wall carpeting.  It's ranch-style, which means it's one story.  The kitchen is so small that two people can't be in it at the same time.  Because the lot is small, the house can not be enlarged.

So for the past ten years I've wanted to move.  I tried to sell it five years ago, and it was actually in contract.  The buyer ended up freaking out and backing out of the contract.  No other buyers made an offer, so I gave up after eight months and my realtor took it off the market.  During the interim, I have made the best of it.

But that's not thriving.

Yes, I know that I'm being a spoiled brat, and that our true home has nothing to do with a physical structure.

But I still want a Victorian house near downtown.

Just kidding- I don't expect to end up in one this big!!!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Design disaster

OK, it's not exactly a complete and total disaster, but this is the master bedroom of my house which has been on the market since the end of March with no offers.  The house was built in 1962, which happens to be my least favorite era for architecture and interior design.  I bought the house because of its prime location on a beautiful and popular park.  I thought it would be the ideal place to raise a child.  Perhaps it was in some ways at some times, but now The Child and I are over it and ready to take on a more urban lifestyle in, hopefully, a Victorian house (my favorite style).

There is a cute alcove which I used to call the "library".  Now that The Child uses this room, it has become more of an office, featuring his elaborate computer and two large monitors.
The bed is covered in 3 of these photos with a red flower print with a light blue background.  I think maybe it looks better than the white coverlet in the first 2 photos.  What do you think?  And what do you think of the multi-colored (yet discreet) curtains I made out of shower curtains? 
And here, to the right, you can see the alcove with the patterned bed covering.

Down below, you'll see the hideous photo which appears online with the listing for my house.  It's a photo my realtor took 5 years ago when my house was on the market.  (It didn't sell, and I couldn't tolerate the constant showings, so after 6 months we took it off the market.  It actually was in contract but the buyers backed out.)  The reason I'm including the photo below is so that you can see the basic features of the room.  How would YOU go about decorating this rather odd master suite?  (The wall color is pretty appealing, and the paint is in good condition.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Help Betty choose a slipcover

Betty's living room

The red slipcover in the above photo has to go.  I suspect that it lends too juvenile a look to my living room.  Is that why nobody has yet made an offer on the house?  I doubt it, but you never know what might influence a potential buyer.

Here are some possible options I've selected to replace the red slipcover:
Product ImageSure Fit Colton Stripe Sofa Slipcover - Brown (Sofa)

Photo of Monroe One Piece Clearance
I already know which one you all are going to choose.  Let's see if I'm right.

Classic Slipcovers Kilkenny Cover

Monday, July 11, 2011


My house is still for sale.  In fact, the price was lowered a month ago.  Prior to that, there had been an average of one showing scheduled each week since the house went on the market in late March.  Once the price was lowered, the showing requests stopped completely!!  Go figure!!

Actually, the is a reason - it's the time of year.  My realtor says that things slow down in July.  Not good, since there are 17,000 houses for sale right now in this city.  (Mine is the only house fronting a world class rose garden, but that seems to matter not at all.....)

Meanwhile, I keep pouring money into the house.  I laid out a good deal of money this past week to fix a clog in the underground drainpipe which drains water from a downspout to the street.  The poison ivy has become so prevalent that I have to pay people to help me try to maintain the landscaping.  I also had a threshold repaired and a doorknob replaced (after the old one was sawed off!).  I also repainted a basement closet. 

Now there's nothing in or about this house or property that I'm ashamed of - short of renovation, I have done everything I can.  But it remains a house built in 1962 which was never updated.  Because I (and previous owners) have always fixed anything that was broken, it is completely functional.  But it is not pristine, and it is not new. 

Someone named Cinderella commented on one of my posts about the house that I should consider updating the house and making it the house of my dreams.  Then maybe someone else would want it!  And certainly, in an ideal world (one with unlimited money) I might do that.  

The complaints that prospective buyers have relayed to my realtor are that the house is too small, the kitchen is too small and the property is too small.  Not much I can do about any of those facts!

So I buried a statue of St. Joseph in the yard next to the real estate sign.  With his help, surely it's just a matter of time.



Thursday, June 09, 2011

can't sleep

It's 4:14 am - the middle of the night.  Birds are chirping already - I thought they slept until dawn.  I sat outside - it's hot out, even thought it's the middle of the night. 

The birds singing in the dark transport me back to my teen years.  My first boyfriend had a paper route.  (This was back in the days when kids actually delivered newspapers.  Nowadays, at least in the city where I live now, newspapers are delivered by adults with cars.) 

Joe invited me to join him on his paper route one early morning.  It was so early that it was still dark, yet the birds were warming up for their dawn performance.  My dog Terry joined me, off leash.  We walked several blocks to where we'd meet Joe.

I had never seen the world at that hour before.  It was quiet but for the birds.  There were no cars, no people.  I might have been scared if Terry the dog had not been enthusiastically accompanying me. Terry's protective presence enabled me to enjoy the magic of  pre-dawn, when nature awakens.

Joe, who tended to be a quiet boy, was even quieter at that hour.  I began to understand why he chose to deliver papers even though it meant that he had to get up 3 or 4 hours earlier than his schoolmates did.  There was a sacred aspect to the hour. 

Even the air seemed different, as indeed it probably was since the cars and buses had not yet revved up their engines.  It was spring, and the air was the perfect temperature and humidity - cool but not cold, and delicious with lilacs.

Joe took his job seriously, and focused on his papers rather than on me.  He had developed early-morning relationships with the shop owners who greeted him.  I admired that.  I could sense the mutual respect.  At that sacred hour, nobody said much, yet it was important to greet properly, in the spirit of setting up the day to be a good one.

The paper route was long.  Back in those days, kids actually walked places, so it was no big deal.  But it really was a long paper route.  By the time it was completed, the day had dawned.  I was disappointed to end the enchantment, but Joe and I walked to our respective houses to get ready for school, thus ending one of the most cherished memories of my childhood.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Last spring (2010)

Today I was searching on YouTube for a certain musical selection.  Much to my surprise, a song which I strongly associate with my sister appeared in the sidebar, and I had no choice but to listen to it.  I was already having a really rough day, and I would not have consciously chosen to immerse myself in renewed mourning.

Last spring (2010) I found a sitter for The Child and I took off for Boston, where my sister was......well, preparing to die, although none of us really knew that at the time.  Her tongue cancer had returned and had taken her voice, the voice which had still sounded high-pitched and childlike even during its last utterances.  Her voice, before its decline, had been so animated that during healthier times, she had been asked to record outgoing phone announcements for businesses. 

She was a shadow of her former self last spring (2010), but we dared not think of the end.  She and I held conversations with her side being written into a notebook, with florid handwriting, impeccable spelling and perfect grammar.  My sister was smart.  She had skipped 4th grade, which, due to the high standards of education in the state of New York where we grew up, was nearly unheard of. 

Over the course of that visit I became reluctantly accustomed to her weak, frail, silent body.  She was still herself in spirit, thanks to her unfailing willingness to write. 

On the day I returned home from that visit to my sister, The Child and I went to see the movie Shutter Island.  It was quite appropriate because it was set in Boston.  But the piece de resistance was the song This Bitter Earth which played during the credits at the end of the movie.  I was mesmerized by it, and although the child was tugging on my sleeve to leave, I could not budge. 

When we returned home after the movie, I found the Shutter Island sound track of This Bitter Earth on YouTube and emailed it to my sister.  That was her kind of music. 

Now I can rarely bring myself to listen to it.  But today it presented itself and demanded another listening.  I was transported back to that time, in the spring of 2010, when my sister was still alive.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

!0 a day = 150 so far!

The dog enjoys resting atop a pile of give-aways.
Yes, indeed, I have stuck with my commitment to get rid of 10 items a day ever since I read about the idea 15 days ago.  Since I performed a major purge a year ago, I am not sure that I can continue to get rid of 10 things a day indefinitely.  But I do know that I now have 150 fewer items to move when moving day arrives.  ( I have not had any offers on my house yet, but eventually it will happen, I would think, and then we'll move, theoretically......)

Today I took The Child to an Asian Festival in 88 degree heat with very little shade to be found anywhere.  We had to park a mile from the festival site.  I should have anticipated the problem that might cause, since The Child has always had a low tolerance for heat.

He's at an unpredictable age (7th grade going into 8th grade).  Since he wants little to do with me these days, I thought I was hearing things when he said yes to my questioning about going to the Asian Festival.  So we went, despite the heat and the inevitably huge crowd. 

The Child wanted a parasol.  Since they were being sold for $6, I saw no harm in that, and I thought it might actually shield him from the hot sun.  

I was eager to check out the many food vendors, each of which offered exotic, tantalizing dishes.  But no.  The Child wanted a Powerade drink, a glance at the Chinese dancers, and  a quick trot through the market place to find that parasol.  And that was that. 

On our way back to the car, with the temperature rising steadily, I had the audacity to stop and take a quick photo of a stunning house we walked past:

Anyone who knows me (or reads my blog) knows that I have a thing for houses, especially old ones.  So I didn't think I was committing a crime when I shot this photo.  But The unpredictable Child found my action to be utterly intolerable.  He raged the rest of the way to the car, much like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum, promising that he would NEVER go anywhere with me EVER again - not even to the Irish Festival. 

He hasn't spoken to me since.

Monday, May 16, 2011

10 a day

It seems like such a reasonable goal - to get rid of 10 items per day.  I read about the phenomenon on the blog of a martial arts instructor, and found it rather appealing.   Above you can see my first 10 items, which include car wax, expired food and a long dead iPod Touch.  I will give away the brand new bird house, the toy and the ball of bath salts.  The rest will be tossed in the trash after I gaze at the collection for a while, proud of my new mission and its first day of accomplishment.

This follows a TV show on hoarding which I half watched yesterday.  Although I am not a hoarder (I despise shopping) I certainly am the type of housekeeper who easily lets things go.  In fact, I'm not a housekeeper.  I'm a house neglector.

Yes, even now, with my house for sale, with showings being scheduled on a day's notice, I struggle to keep things in order.  Doesn't it make perfect sense that a person with my shortcoming would be better off living the life of a minimalist?  The fewer the possessions, the easier the task of keeping them in order.

Besides, I hope to move in the near future.  Again, logic dictates that I'm better off moving fewer possessions.

The funny thing is, I've been purging for years.  Ask my friend Garnet.  He helped me when I first began - I believe the year was 2005.  We hauled carloads of stuff to the Volunteers of America and the recycling bins.  Carloads.  I recall Garnet commenting on the fact that I had carefully saved miniscule scraps of paper to be recycled.  He mused that perhaps my time could be better spent......

A year ago I purged in a big way, the biggest yet.  I had Salvation Army trucks haul away what looked like roomfuls of stuff.  My sister, who was a hoarder in the true sense of the word, cheered me on from Boston.  She understood the magnitude of what I was undertaking. I loved sending her photos of my newly sparse rooms.

Yet I still have too much! 

We'll see how this new 10-a-day challenge goes.  Please wish me luck.


Monday, April 04, 2011

To the people who did not buy my house yesterday

You know who you are!  You led me on!  You started eyeing my property as soon as the For Sale sign went up last Wednesday.  You even walked up the driveway and peered in the kitchen windows while I was cleaning on Saturday!   One of  you parked your car outside of my house at dusk Friday night and gazed at the property for what seemed like hours.  A couple of you begged me to disclose the price while I was raking leaves.  Some of you showed up here multiple times over the past few days, leading me to believe that you had serious interest in living in my house on the park.

And why wouldn't you want to live here?  It's peaceful, tranquil, full of plantlife and wildlife, yet located within city limits.  The house is a solid brick structure with low maintenance and utility costs.  When you look out of the windows from inside this house, you see nature.  Not cars and other people's houses and SUVs and trash cans - you see trees and grass and bushes and flowers and yes, flowering trees which are about to bloom.  The backdrop of all of this is woods and a ravine.  That's what you see out of my windows.

But that's not good enough for you, is it?  Noooooooo.  You apparently "need" more space than can be had in a 1350 square foot house.  And you "need" an updated house, as if it is somehow unlivable in its current state. 

Suggestion:  If you want the house updated, then BUY it and UPDATE it!!!

Why did you lead me on?  I was SO sure that you all were going to be fighting over it at the open house!  I even had my realtor believing that you all were going to do that!

WHAT is wrong with you all??????


Thursday, March 31, 2011


The day before yesterday my realtor came over to complete the paperwork, and the "For Sale" signs are in place.  My house is on the market, with an open house scheduled for Sunday at 1-4pm.

The photo above may look odd.  Indeed, my house does not face the street- it faces the park, so what people from the street see is the side of the house, as pictured above.

In spite of all this progress, my mind is still not totally right.  I persist in worrying about being able to afford the more expensive house, about moving away from the Child's friend who lives in this neighborhood, about transportation to school, about the post office in the new neighborhood - you name it; I'm worrying about it.

Yet I know that if my mind isn't right, the likelihood exists that I will unwittingly prevent the pieces from falling into place, by sending mixed messages to the universe.  I say I want to move, yet I list all the concerns about doing so.

A mind is a difficult thing to control.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A snag

I have encountered the snag which is my mind. 

Yesterday I called my realtor to set up a time for him to come to my house to photograph it and do the paperwork for putting it on the market.  I was explaining how worried I was that this would be yet another failed attempt.  I was on the verge of tears.

He said he didn't know what to do, since it sounded as though I didn't want to proceed.  I tried to explain that I want to proceed, but I am afraid of more disappointment like the last few times I've tried to do this.  And now we're in a lousy housing market to boot!  I dread going through the trauma of trying to make the house perfect for showing after showing, with no results.  Last time my house was on the market, I pulled many all-nighters getting the house ready for showings.

The realtor said that he's not going to list my house unless I can adjust my attitude.  It sounds harsh the way I've worded it, but his wording sounded perfectly reasonable.


What to do?  What's blocking me from having a positive attitude about what I say I want to do?

OK, I'm embarrassed to admit that I'm concerned about what the neighbors will think when they take a gander at my latest "For Sale" sign in front of the house.

Before I go any further, let's analyze this.  These are the same neighbors who pay absolutely no attention to me when there's a disabling snowstorm or power outage, the same neighbors who said no each time I asked if they could pick up The Child from his school bus stop when I had to be at work and the temperature was 40 below zero.

Yes, it appears that whirlingbetty is ready to abandon her dreams all for the sake of the possible judgment of the above-described neighbors, the neighbors who treat their little white dogs far better than they treat their fellow man.

OK - on to the next hurdle.   I am afraid of making a mistake.  This may well be a legitimate concern.  It's hard to leave a location on a park which contains one of the largest rose gardens in the country.  The actual house, while definitely too small, has been inexpensive to maintain and heat.  The house I want will be far more expensive, so it is a financial risk.  And while located a few steps from a gorgeous urban park, it won't be possible to look out of the windows and see the park like I can now:

The back of the house I hope to buy overlooks a sizable backyard, which is now fairly barren and awaiting my landscaping:

While having a yard which is a blank canvas should be positive, part of me dreads having to go through the expense, hassle and exertion of installing a pond, trees, bushes, etc.  Staying in my current house is a hell of a lot easier!!


Something timely just occurred.  One of the above-described neighbors just showed up at my door to let me know that there was a bicycle in front of my house which he was afraid someone would steal.   I asked him for an update on the crime in the neighborhood, which has been seriously increasing over the past 2 weeks.  Sure enough, there was another series of break-ins last Thursday.  I decided to test the waters and tell the neighbor that I'm going to put my house on the market.  He barely flinched.  And he certainly didn't try to talk me out of it!!

Somehow, that event changed things.  I received "permission" to go ahead.

I'll keep you posted.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday's revelation

When you talk about what you want and why you want it, there's usually less resistance within you than when you talk about what you want and how you're going to get it. When you pose questions you don't have answers for, like how, where, when, who, it sets up a contradictory vibration that slows everything down. 
That's my spiritual lesson for the day.  It makes sense.  Talking about what I want and why I want it is easy:  I want a fairly big Victorian house near downtown so I can walk or bike everywhere and get by without a car most of the time.  I am drawn to that part of town because it's vibrant and full of life.  There are people milling about, walking to the nearby groceries, stores and restaurants, at all hours.  I like the energy.  I'd also enjoy having my own backyard where I can create a garden with a pond.  And the luxury of a fenced-in yard is great for any dog owner.

After thinking about today's lesson, I see that it may not be productive to focus on the questions about how it's going to happen.  THAT is going to be difficult, since I'm the one who has to take the steps to make it possible.  I'm the one who has to get my house ready to sell, and then put it on the market.  Rendering a house ready for showing is no small matter! 

I think I've had a lifelong tendency to set up conflict within myself.  As I obsess over the how and when and where of everything I set out to do, I create stress and turmoil.  The original desire becomes lost (or at least secondary to) the stressful situation I end up in.

Since today's lesson is about metal focus, I guess I can see that there's a difference between just doing what you have to do (minus the mental anguish) and obsessing over decisions and details.  So my instructions to myself, based upon the above spiritual lesson are, "Just shut up, focus on the desire and why you desire it, and do what's in front of you!"  (And stop worrying about whether or not somebody will buy your house, or whether you'll qualify for the mortgage, or when the move would take place and how it won't fit your schedule!)


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Your opinion?

If you were in my shoes, what would you do? 

My longtime obsession has been to live in a Victorian house near downtown.  Living there would enable me to live the way I lived before I moved to this city - without a car - walking or biking everywhere, including to work.  In the city I live in, cars rule, and there are precious few real pedestrian neighborhoods.  But Victorian Village near downtown is a rare exception.

What's stopping me?  The houses prices. 

Those of you who have read my blog over the years know that I have nearly succeeded on several occasions to sell my current house and buy one in Victorian Village.  Each attempt ended in extreme disappointment.  I even tried to buy a foreclosed house at the sheriff's auction.

I am unusual.  I don't like to shop, travel or spend money in general.  The only foolish financial choices I've made recently have been regarding purchases for The Child.  He likes electronics, and I've indulged his interest.  I've spent more money on The Child than the average family spends on one child, for sure.

The only thing I want to spend money on for myself is a house.

There is a house for sale in Victorian village right now which I am interested in, and I am considering putting my house on the market to try to make it happen.  I'd have to have a sales contract in place before I can make an offer on the Victorian.  But it won't be an even trade- the Victorian is considerably more expensive than my house.  The mortgage broker says he's very confident that I'd qualify for the mortgage I'd need, but that's because I have an outstanding credit score, NOT because the mortgage would be reasonable on my salary!

Yesterday my realtor took me to see the interior of the house.  Until then, my desire for the house was based purely upon its prime location rather than any actual knowledge of the house or its interior.  My impression of the first floor was positive.

It included original stained glass windows:

I also liked the backyard.  I could just imagine it with the trees I'd plant, and the pond I'd install.  It seems like such a luxury to have a house with a backyard so close to downtown.  Most urban housing is in the form of condos, often situated in high rise buildings.

I was less thrilled with the upstairs, and I was reminded of the fact that I actually don't like antiques!

It seems odd that I'd be drawn to antique houses....what I like about them is the high ceilings, the wood floors, the huge windows (often floor to ceiling) and the often ornate woodwork and features like stained glass windows.  The quality of materials and craftsmanship is so superior to that of newly-built houses.

I did like one of the upstairs bedrooms, the one which was currently set up as an office:

This house also has a finished attic, made into 2 bedrooms.  The Child has taken a strong interest in this attic, although he hasn't seen it yet.  Today there is an open house, and I'm taking The Child so he can see if he approves of this house before I go any further.  I already know that children generally don't like old things, including houses, so I am expecting The Child to reject my latest dream.  I will continue this post after the open house.


The open house did not go well.  The Child detested the house.  He claims to despise wood floors, and he seemed freaked out by the height of the house, especially when looking out of the 3rd story windows down onto the backyard below. It looked like an aerial view from an airplane flying overhead!  (I was scared by that also.  We currently live in a one-story ranch-style house.) 

I was somewhat surprised that the Child could find nothing positive about the house.  (I had hoped that he'd admit that the first floor, with its abundance of light and its stained glass, was somewhat appealing, and I was fairly sure he'd stake out the 3rd floor as his territory.)

I was beginning my dreaded descent into depression, knowing that I didn't want to try to push this house onto The Child, when he commented, "I'd be able to have a 'Slip 'n' Slide' in that backyard." 


Our current house lacks a backyard.  Since it's situated on a park, it was pretty much OK to not have our own yard, or so I had thought......

Afraid to press my luck, I gingerly asked if there was anything else, anything at all, which he found to be remotely acceptable about that house. 

It turns out that he had wisely assessed that its kitchen was better than ours.  And he mentioned the yard again.  Who knew that a yard meant that much to him?   Mind you, this is a yard which has been completely neglected by its previous owners, to the point where it's nothing but a barren plot of grass, and you can see above.

Still, The Child would undoubtedly prefer not to move there, and I'd prefer not to force the issue.


Later in the day a minor incident (which was really just a trigger) propelled me full steam ahead into that funk which I had narrowly escaped earlier.  I was driving at the time, and began sobbing uncontrollably.  This sorrow emerged from unknown depths.  It had to do with life, death, and the joys and sorrows in between.  It had to do with my mother who died so long ago, and whose death altered my life.  It had to do with the still unprocessed death of my sister.  It had to do with all of those long-lost boyfriends and the missing of them, and the lonely difficulties of being a single parent.  It had to do with the dreams of a lifetime, and the possibility of letting them go.


Sunday, February 06, 2011

life thoughts

Each morning I throw peanuts out in front of my house for the squirrels and birds.  There are always 9 squirrels waiting at the door when I open it.  (The birds are a bit more discreet.)  A couple of the squirrels wait around until after I throw the pile of nuts; those squirrels prefer to be singled out and given their nuts individually.  I gladly accommodate.

There is one squirrel who takes nuts, one by one, out of the pile and buries them in the snow or mulch around my house.  He wants to be sure to get his fair share (or more!), and he has found a very effective way to accomplish that.  Another squirrel follows the example of the blue jays; he picks up nuts one by one, "weighing" each one, until finally settling on the biggest prize.

Those squirrels which stand out from the crowd will likely live longer than the average squirrel.  I hope to be a human version of those animals.

I often think of my mother, who did all the right things by society's standards.  She always shopped at the health food store.  I vividly recall the nauseating tofu hot dogs and no-salt, natural peanut butter (which tasted like moistened cardboard) she used to force down my resistant throat when I was a child.

She exercised daily with her aerobics classes and long distance walking, and she never gained an ounce above 120 lbs., a low but reasonable weight for her fairly tall frame.  And 20 years ago she died, way too young, of pancreatic cancer.

That may seem baffling, but I think I understand what happened.  She took immaculate care of her physical body, but she totally blew off the issue of her state of mind.  She was constantly tortured, for many years, by my father's philandering.  Rather than resolve the situation, she chose to remain in a broken marriage for fear of financial insecurity and of not being able to make it on her own.

My own resistance to marriage may stem from my observation of her experience.  But more importantly, I have some idea how difficult it is to successfully live with another adult, and my adult life has been more about learning how to be independent than how to live well with others.

Living with The Child has been OK, but that's because I've had the chance to mold him from birth.  I set my boundaries early on, and he dares not cross them.  He lacks the expectations that most adults would have of me, such as that I cook and clean.  I am not domestic, and The Child is well aware of that.  Once in a blue moon I will cook, but there has to be a darn good reason, like company.  Although I can handle the occasional foray into the kitchen, I have a low limit.  (The limit is actually life saving, since I have been known to start kitchen fires, even in microwave ovens!)

The Child eats a lot of pizza.   I eat strange things like broccoli and blueberries and tofu (not in hot dog form!) and, unfortunately, potato chips.  I remain addicted to potato chips even after many attempts to quit.

But I'm not dead yet, and I think it's because of my attention to dental care.  I have read that many, many health issues begin in the mouth, of all places.  Heart disease, diabetes and cancer have all been traced back to dental issues.  I have read books about teeth, believe it or not, and I get my teeth cleaned and examined every 6 months by a dentist I trust.  Although I don't like the radiation from X-rays, I do allow my mouth to be x-rayed because of the cavity detection enhancement.  I brush my teeth several times per day, floss at least twice a day, and use a water pic.Every time I go to the dentist, I ask for instructions on proper brushing and flossing techniques, and I ask the hygienist to watch me do it to be sure that my technique is correct.  I take my teeth very seriously.

At work, I'm covered by a health insurance policy.  The health insurance premiums are extremely expensive because an inordinate number of people I work with have profound health issues.

In an incredible twist of irony, my employer is on the verge of dropping our dental insurance to help pay for our 42% increase in health insurance premiums!

So that's what I do for my physical health.  I obsess over my teeth, and I balance potato chips with broccoli, ever mindful of my desire to eventually overcome my potato chip addiction. 

Learning from my mother's experience, I try not to ignore my state of mind.  If I'm troubled, I find a way to deal with it.  I am a firm believer in the saying, "You're only as sick as your secrets."  For any given problem, there's always somebody I can talk to, even if it's a long distance friend.

The squirrels and birds around my house contribute to my mental well being.  My favorite way to start the day is by watching them from my favorite chair by the window.

All is well.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

January blahs

Well, I assume that's what it is- January blahs.  I dislike winter, especially when the roads are too slippery for safe driving (and you live in a city which lacks real mass transit and instead, instead, each man, woman and child owns 2.4 automobiles.).  According to an article I just read, lots of people experience the January blahs phenomenon.  I am not alone.

Even while experiencing the blahs, I try to teach The Child that his life is a result of his (or MY) choices, and that if he doesn't like what's going on, it's time to make a different choice.   Telling a child how to live life and actually practicing what you preach are 2 different things.  Yesterday I thought I had accomplished something when I told The Child that I was currently experiencing extreme dissatisfaction with my life, yet I had the option to choose a different attitude.  I spoke the words, but I couldn't actually DO it.  Instead, I walked out of his bedroom so that he would not witness my choice to continue wallowing in blahhhhhhhhhs..........

This reminds me of my own mother.  She used to talk about self esteem - I think she perceived that mine was inadequate.  She used to assert, "I have a very high opinion of myself!"  Yet her actions belied that proclamation, as she chose to remain married under the same roof with a man who was openly cheating on her. She was miserable!

Once I became a parent, I decided that it was time to live my life in a way which lined up with my beliefs, since that's what The Child was sure to notice.  In many ways I succeed.  My house, although not located in the downtown neighborhood which I obsess over, IS located on a large park so that I can look out my window and see trees, deer and other wildlife, all well within city limits. 

I believe that personal automobiles are a ridiculous luxury destroying the planet.  My house is 6 miles from downtown and on the bus line.  I take the bus to work frequently.  I am aware of indoor toxins, so I make my own household cleaning products out of essential oils, vinegar, baking soda and Dr. Bonner's soap.  I don't own a microwave oven, much to The Child's dismay.

I reject society's competitive consumerism; I despise shopping.  Yesterday The Child and I went to Sam's Club.  We wandered dazedly around for a few minutes; I picked up a pack of AA batteries, and suddenly I said, "I can't stand this place.  Let's put the batteries back and leave."  He readily agreed.   It's even hard for me to go to the grocery store, especially since the 2 natural food stores near my house have both shut down.  My car, which I fire up as infrequently as possible, is a tiny 20-year-old Honda Civic which I hope lives forever.  For the most part, I do not believe in Western medicine and do not use the expensive medical insurance which I'm required to have. 

However, I have allowed The Child to influence me to some extent.  He was born loving technology and I'm sure it's because of his influence that I use an iPhone (no landline here!).  I must have been born with some of that same inclination because I choose to spend lots of leisure time on the computer and have fixed mine myself several times.  The Child built his first computer over a year ago.  The technology which exists inside my house seems incongruous with the home made cleaning products and the organic amaranth, perhaps, but I am comfortable embracing both. Besides, iPhone apps can be really helpful with mass transit schedules.

It seems to be time for an adjustment for my life, though.  I have been doing something which has become habitual and does NOT really fit in - I eat a lot of potato chips.  That may sound silly, but it really is out of control.  I am addicted.  I believe that the chips are highly symbolic to me, since they figured heavily in my childhood.  My parents used to actually have potato chips delivered to our house by Charles Chips!  My favorite childhood memories include spending each New Year's Eve with my grandmother, eating Charles Chips and onion dip, watching the ball drop at Times Square on TV.

Boy, do I ever wish that potato chips were healthy.  I know full well that they are NOT and I must STOP.  Why bother making nontoxic cleaning supplies if I'm going to eat potato chips, one of the most toxic "foods" known to man?  OK, so today's the day I go cold turkey. 

Right now, instead of ripping open a new bag of chips,  I'm going to whip up some of  The Child's beloved peanut butter tofu.  Yesterday I informed him that very few people would consider eating this, his favorite dish, which I invented.  (He seemed very surprised.)  I make it by dumping raw tofu into a glass (nontoxic!) pan with some organic garlic, organic peanut butter and organic soy sauce, and heat it for a couple of minutes.   It looks as bad as it sounds, yet he eats it with gusto.

Good thing I'm not married, right?  How would I have put together such an eccentric life based on my beliefs (and struggles with potato chips) if I had to compromise with a partner?  That question was not lost on The Child.  He told me yesterday that he would never want to have a life partner whom he had to live with......hmmmmm. 

Well, as long as he knows how to live in a way which is true to himself, then I suppose I need not worry.

May he possess the courage to tackle any persistent potato chips infiltrating his otherwise carefully crafted life.