ONE DOOR CLOSES; ANOTHER OPENS

Twenty six years in a beautiful, old house with large rooms, high ceilings, gorgeous historical touches such as a butler’s pantry, wide center hall, upstairs screened porch, two fireplaces, and memories of children growing up, holidays, and all of that sentimental detritus that surrounds a long life.

Here’s another list. Yearly yard maintenance. Upkeep on a beautiful deck garden. Painters.  Roofers. Kitchen redos: two of them, twenty years apart. Chimney repointing. New appliances. Carpet cleaners. Plumbers. The dollars spent on keeping this home gorgeous: thousands and thousands.

One day two weeks ago, we got so very tired of the weight of this home on our shoulders as curators. We had an argument in the garage about how many trees my husband wanted to remove from the yard: it is getting overgrown. I suggested calling in professionals for the job. He who never shouts , shouted “Do you know how much that costs?” It hit us all of a sudden: we need to sell this house before it kills us.

Within twenty-four hours, we had signed a lease on an apartment in the building pictured above. Centerfield Flats are going up now, and we got the choicest unit, which is a three-bedroom, 1700 square foot apartment on the fifth floor–upper left in the photo. https://www.apartments.com/centerfield-flats-dayton-oh/zrblgpx

A new adventure. All new furniture. A view of downtown. Not that we are baseball fans, but yes, we can watch the games from our wraparound balcony. Everything brand-new, just like building a house without the headaches.

Right now, we are in a frenzy getting the house ready to show (are you sitting down?) one week from tomorrow. It is total chaos right now, with painters, stagers, estate sale folks, and a myriad of other people who are shoving furniture around, buffing floors, and doing things to the place that we should have done years ago (they said wallpaper is making a comeback, but not the stuff in MY front hall). We feel that we are living in the production of a house transformation show on HGTV, without the glamour.

Keep your fingers crossed that the house sells in five minutes, and that we survive moving. I will tell you one thing, however. Shopping for furniture online and in stores has always been a fond fantasy for me. Now it is coming true.

See you in Costco. And at Pottery Barn.  Ikea. Restoration Hardware. Amazon home furnishings. Overstock.com. The Sundance Catalog. eBay. Come with me; we can sit on all the sofas at Arhaus and pretend we are sitting in my living room. It will be EPIC.

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THE CLOSET MUSEUM

We have to get rid of things.  A lot of things. More on that later. However, this means that we are going through all of our closets and culling. You have heard that expression, not from Marie Kondo, but from some wardrobe pundit from long ago: If you haven’t worn it in a year, get rid of it.

A year? Phooey. Here is what I discovered in the back of my closet:

  • The beautiful red Chinese silk robe that I took on my honeymoon. You read that correctly. It had sentimental value, damn it, despite the fact that the only part of my body that it would actually fit around today is my arm. It was in perfect condition! I am hopeful that some dewy eyed bride-to-be will see it in Goodwill and grab it. I know this is wishful thinking. Who wears robes on their honeymoon these days? Who wears clothing on their honeymoon these days? Are there even honeymoons any more?
  • Corduroys. Five pairs of corduroy pants. I am thinking that corduroys went out of fashion in, say, 1990? I would like to add, however, that all five of those pairs still fit.
  • Two cashmere sweaters, one black, one red. I stopped being able to wear sweaters when menopause hit. Now I look at sweaters in catalogs and wonder how any woman can wear a sweater without, you know, sweating.
  • A pair of three inch high pumps. These would kill my feet in thirty seconds. As I looked at them, they seemed so low. Any self-respecting woman with style and a high pain threshold, who doesn’t blink at five inch heels, would chuckle at how quaint they are. Vintage. A lot of women go for vintage, right? I hope they shop at Goodwill.
  • Tube socks. I burned with shame at the fact that I once wore them. I burn with shame typing these words.
  • Bobby pins? What on earth?
  • Belts that, these days, I could wear only around my upper thighs. When did I give up on the idea that I would someday be a size 10 again? Apparently it was yesterday.
  • A vast quantity of sleeveless shells. I used to wear sleeveless things, evidently. This must have been back in the days when I had toned arms from hefting children. See “hoping to be a size 10 again,” above.

This is proof of the old adage, “If there is room for it, why not just hang it in the back of your closet and forget about it for twenty years?” This may not actually be an adage, but it is a truism.

I cannot bear to think of what is up in the attic.

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VACATION

 

When you don’t work outside the home any more (thank goodness), vacation takes on an entirely new meaning. We don’t go on vacation to get away from anything. Honestly, life here at home is almost too restful. I have to work myself up in order to vacuum, for God’s sake. So a vacation is an excuse to get my metabolism moving. Because, when we go to North Carolina for a family reunion soon, we are filling up the car with stuff to do. Here are the sorts of things we are bringing.

  • A bubble machine and bubble solution. You know, for the grandkids.
  • An entire Bingo game set, and I am not kidding–it’s professional. We got it from a church supply place.
  • Three dozen Bingo daubers. At least a hundred Bingo cards.
  • Beach towels, in case the proprietors of the house we are renting thinks four beach towels are sufficient.
  • Bingo prizes, including two of my books. Never miss a promotional opportunity.
  • Golf clubs.
  • A high chair.
  • A Pack and Play play pen, for Birdie to sleep in. She knows how to climb out, so that should be interesting.
  • Two inflatable beds.
  • Twenty five personalized tote bags-we expect 50 attendees at this family reunion.
  • Assorted new toys from the toy store. Grandmas always bring gifts; it’s a law.
  • Luggage.
  • Sheets and pillows for the inflatable beds.
  • Games.

I am not sure this is enough, but I still have a few days to plan.

We will need rest after the trip. Thank goodness we are retired.

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THE COLOR PURPLE

Why do people do the things they do? What causes a person to make what seems like a completely outrageous decision? Like getting purple hair?

I saw a woman in Los Angeles about two years ago. She was in her thirties, decidedly on the side of youth. Her hair was lavender. I was so struck with how beautiful it was, I had to stop and talk to her about it. She said that her original hair color was light brown, and in order to go lavender, she had to bleach all the color out of her hair first. That gave me pause, because that sounded extreme.

When I came home, I asked my stylist about it. She concurred and told me that because my hair is so dark brown, it would be a huge thing to bleach it all. And it would damage my hair. So I gave up on the idea.

But I didn’t. I continued to see purple hair, and it just looked so good on the people who had it. These women looked stylish, unafraid, bold, and chic. None of which I am. So I kept on with the dark brown, getting my roots (which are snow white, by the way) touched up every month.

But hold on a second. My roots are white? White, as in the absence of dark brown? I could hardly contain myself. As soon as she put the cape around me, I barraged my stylist with questions: If my hair is mostly white, wouldn’t it be easy to go purple? Would purple hair be permanent? Could we do it?

Her answers: It may look like it, but your hair is predominantly dark. Yes, going purple would be easy, but we would have to bleach my hair first. Yes, it would be semi-permanent, just like the brown dye we use now to cover the white hair. Yes, we can do it, but “You need to start out conservatively, so that your friends won’t think you have lost your mind.”

The results are above. I love the purple. However, it is not purple enough.

I have lost my mind, apparently.

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SUMMER READING

Whenever I have blog writer’s block, which is today, I fall back on my go-to topic: books. I read so many books that I forget most of them the second I have finished, but a few stick in my mind.

Here is a list of great ones that I have read recently:

  • You Should Have Known, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. This is a new author to me, and she writes brilliantly about smug people, and then brings them DOWN. Now being made into a series (HBO, I think) featuring Nicole Kidman.
  • The Wife Between Us, by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. Beach reading–such a great story!
  • Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld. I resisted this for a long time, as it is the retelling of Pride and Prejudice, set in Cincinnati. But it is so good.
  • Have You Seen Luis Velez, by Catherine Ryan Hyde. You cannot miss with her books, and her latest is the usual tremendous story and renewal of one’s faith in humanity.
  • Kissing Games of the World, by Maddie Dawson. I love all of her books. So just pick one, and then read all the others.
  • The Mother-In-Law, by Sally Hepworth. Twisty and fun.
  • Ghosted, by Rosie Walsh. You make a real connection with a man, and then he just disappears. Another great vacation read.
  • Someone, by Alice McDermott. Literary fiction at its best.
  • Watching You, by Lisa Jewell. Oh, boy. Where do I begin? Plotty, twisty, weird folks. Loved it.
  • Sometimes I Lie, by Alice Feeney. She wakes up in the hospital, locked in. Need I say more?

Happy reading. See you next week.

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CORRECTION

 

Last week’s post was confusing. What was supposed to be about my cat was construed to be about my husband and me. Looking back at it, I can see the confusion. We do take things slow–but sixteen plus hours of sleep a day is too much, even for us.

Let me continue with my observations about cats. Note: I am truly an expert, as I have had cats virtually my entire life, and I have had but two dogs. Dogs and cats are certainly different, but I think cats get a bum rap from the world at large, and social media memes have enhanced this “fake news” about cats.

  • Cats are not standoffish. They are bundles of soft, purring calmness. They are sedatives that you can become addicted to. I am sure there are aloof cats. But I have met many an aloof dog. So there.
  • Cats are heat seeking. So having them in the winter time is a cost effective way to lower your thermostat. They will keep you warm.
  • Some cats enjoy conversation. This is especially true for Siamese, who love to chat.
  • They say dogs are good judges of character. I will give them that. Cats mostly just like their own families. However, there are certainly “hail fellow well met” cats.
  • Oh my gosh. Cats are SO easy to maintain. No walks. Just scoop the litter. Done.
  • Cats love the indoors. I hate the outdoors. A match made in heaven.
  • Cats don’t need baths. They never stink unless they are ill or have run-ins with neighborhood unsavories. Keep them inside, and this will never be a problem.
  • Cats are beautiful. Graceful. They land on their feet. Egyptians worshipped them.
  • Kittens are way cuter than puppies.
  • Cats hang around you. Just like dogs. Try doing some exercises on the floor, and just wait until the cats arrive to supervise.
  • You can train cats to do tricks. I can’t, but you could.
  • Cats catch vermin. Dogs don’t do that.
  • Even the tiniest of tiny homes can host a cat. They don’t need much room.

The above photo is of one of my two cats. His name is The Keeper. He was dumped on the side of the road. He is the fluffiest cat in the world. He likes to sit behind me on the sofa and purr in my ear. I lean back against him occasionally and rub my cheek against his fur. He seems to appreciate that. My other cat, below, is named Macintosh. He was rescued right after a truck ran over him narrowly missing him. He was a tiny kitten. My daughter Annie pulled over to the side of the road and ran into a field after him. He came to her, running and purring. He was near starvation. He is the most loving and appreciative small soul. But sometimes, he thinks he is an owl…

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THE ROUTINE

We take it easy around here. No hustle. No bustle. As far as we are concerned, too much activity is harmful to one’s mental health. Everything in moderation. Exercise is fine, as long as it is interspersed with resting. Stretching the muscles afterward is a must, so that one does not cramp up.

Sun is also beneficial to older joints. Soaking it up at least fifteen minutes a day is recommended. Napping in the sun is fine also.

After this, one should go upstairs, find a cozy corner, and take another nap.

Tuna is also a good thing.

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A NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

The first time I went to New York I was seventeen. It was also the first time I had ridden on a plane, and the first time I went anywhere by myself. I was visiting a friend. It was January, snowy, and I had to walk to meet him what seemed like twenty miles. I was carrying my suitcase and freezing. Nevertheless, I was enthralled by the city. He took me all over. We visited another, older friend and her husband in their loft. It was barren and huge. I bet that same loft today would be worth millions. I wonder what happened to that couple. I never heard of or from either of them again.  The boy I visited became famous as a musician and lyricist. He had shows on Broadway.   Ever since that trip and multiple trips after, I have (as you know if you read my blog) had a fantasy of living in New York.

Our recent trip to the Big Apple only intensified my desire.

At the same time, my publisher has asked me to write my fourth novel. He has major expectations, and he and I have been working on a plot. The characters are all alive: their names are Orla, Edward, Letty, and Bink (her name is Aurelia, but she was dubbed Bink as a baby, and it stuck). I begin the real work of writing next week, once the holiday is over.

And guess what? I took a huge step. I booked an apartment on the street above in New York for two weeks in September to work on the book. By myself. All alone. It took me 60 odd years to work up the nerve, but I will finally experience living in New York. I am both excited and a little scared. What if I sit down to write and nothing comes out? What if the book is trash? What if I get lost on the subway? But then again–the shopping, the High Line, Central Park, and bagels. New York bagels. 30 Rock and pizza.

Wish me luck. Send up a prayer to the fiction gods to be good to me on this one. A lot is riding on it. I will keep you posted.

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NEW YORK STATE OF MIND

I still love New York. But seeing it through a child’s eyes is to see New York in a whole different way. Charlie brought his book about New York and a “bucket list” of things he wanted to see. We did all  of them.

The Statue of Liberty was so exciting. We discussed why her dress was green. We got a commemorative coin that was copper and the exact thickness of the copper on her dress. Charlie wished we could go up inside, but we were unable to get tickets for that. The boat ride was so exciting, and Charlie and his parents went up on the top deck in the wind and rain. Grampa and I stayed inside.

Charlie loved the Empire State Building. He went with Grampa and his mom. I am too afraid of heights, so Birdie and I napped.

One of their favorite things to do at night was to perch on the windowsill and whisper to one another as they watched for their parents to come home from a dinner meeting. They saw a pigeon land on the roof of the bodega below and spent at least ten minutes imitating the bobble-headed walk. And of course, we all danced to Baby Shark until we were exhausted.

FAO Schwartz still has the big piano. Charlie danced on that. 30 Rock is the most beautiful place. We looked down on the diners sitting in the moonlight, sipping wine. My daughter remarked, “That will be us in twenty years. None of those people have kids. I want to be down there.” She said that right before Birdie ran off and nearly dashed into the street.

Birdie got into:

  • My deodorant
  • Lip balm
  • Her crayons and marked on the sofa
  • The drawer in the kitchen with the corkscrew
  • The baby wipes; shredded about a thousand of them all over the apartment
  • The folding chairs from the card table and used them as impromptu jungle gyms
  • The toilet and the fact that an entire roll of toilet paper will really clog it up. So fun!

We had delicious food. Thanks to Lyft, I was able to go shopping all alone and not worry about how to get to Fishs Eddy, Marimekko, and Bloomingdales and back to the apartment. I felt like a native.

I have decided that I could most certainly live in New York. Caveats: I would have to be wealthy, live in a brownstone with a garden, have a much better wardrobe than I do now, enjoy eating outside despite pigeons and intrusive little sparrows, have a different husband–mine would never consider living in a big city, enjoy noise, and tolerate this factoid: when you are in NYC, no matter where you are, there is a rat within six feet of you.

Hello, DAYTON!

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