Friday, January 20, 2017

Tuning up the fiddle

"I will stare at the sun until its light doesn't blind me
I will walk unto the fire til its heat doesn't burn me
And I will feed the fire."

I had a weird head cold for about a week. At first I thought my allergies were unusually bad, but after we got home from North Carolina I just kept sneezing and suffering from congestion and drainage. I didn't have any of the other typical symptoms of an upper respiratory infection - no cough, no sore throat, no fever, no body aches, just a slight feeling of unwellness.

I pushed through it, popping over-the-counter antihistamines, and continued with my routines, making beads, listing beads, selling some beads, shipping beads. I walked on the treadmill and continued adjusting to this brave new world with Retired Neil.

Retired Neil has alternated between a whirlwind of sorting, organizing, cleaning, discarding and recycling, and time spent going over his lists while watching Star Trek re-runs. We did a little pre-furniture shopping for the new house, visiting Basset Furniture and Home Goods, mostly for ideas.

We've also gone through the house, room by room, and made a list of the furniture - what goes, what doesn't, what remains to be seen. We made a second pass at it, designating where in the new house things would go, and by default what we'll need to buy when we get there.

On our last trip I spent time studying how the model homes are furnished and felt relieved to see that they were not all matchy matchy. That is, each bedroom did not have a matching bed, dresser and nightstands. I like the idea of an eclectic mix and I love the idea of not spending a huge amount of money on furniture.

I think we can furnish all the guest bedrooms with bits and pieces of what we have now. I'm pretty sure we can fill up most of the basement rooms and some of the main floor rooms with the armoires and desks and bookcases and sofas and end tables and desks we have now. We'll need new sofas for the living room and maybe one sofa or a couple of recliners for the basement family room. We'll need new bedroom furniture for the master.

There are some odd decisions to be made. For example, right now we have a dining room table and two kitchen tables with about 20 chairs to go with them. The new house has a dining area but no separate kitchen eat-in area. And I'm not sure our present dining room table - counter height, rectangular and rustic - is quite right for the new dining area, which seems to call for a large round glass table. And I've always wanted a china cabinet.

So it's possible we'll put the dining room table in the game room, and the two kitchen tables in the media room and the bonus room, respectively. There are a lot of other odds and ends to be decided, like my mom's Baker piece, which I love but has no obvious spot, and her nested mahogany tables that might be OK as an end table or nightstand, or maybe in one of the box bays.

And how am I doing with all this focus on The Move? Pretty well for the most part, except that Neil is making me a little crazy with his over-eagerness in some respects. On the one hand I'm thrilled that he is taking action on donations to Goodwill and recycling of things like old batteries, burnt out flourescent bulbs and athletic trophies. On the other, I'm downhearted that he has already dissembled and washed tiers of shelving from the garage and staged it in the house. It just seems too soon to me.

Neil's point is that he has the time and energy to do it now and it will have to be done sometime so why not get ahead of the game. But he's the guy who packs a week in advance for a two-night trip. I pack the night before, or, if we aren't leaving too early, the morning of.

When I moved to Sugar Land from Jersey Village, it took me about six weeks to pack up a house I'd lived in for 19 years. True, I have about twice as much stuff now, partly because I never unpacked all of it and just bought new stuff. I suspect that this time will be similar. Once I pack my bead collection, how likely am I to unpack it?

OK, maybe I will, especially if after some time passes I feel settled. As much as I love this house, I never felt totally settled here. The plan has always been to move eventually. In more than nine years we never hung pictures on the walls. Neil has a thing about putting holes in walls and I just don't care about stuff like that, at least not enough to fight him.

So maybe that's the ticket to feeling more settled in the new house - hanging pictures right away or really soon after we get moved in. Maybe I'll unpack the boxes from Jersey Village that I never unpacked. It's impossible for me to predict at this ten seconds how I will feel about these things in July. Or August or whenever the move happens.

Right now, as I make beads while Neil spring cleans and donates and disposes, I have the sense that I'm fiddling while Rome burns. Some time ago I asked Neil when I'd have to pack up my studio and he said two weeks before the movers come. So I'm holding him to that. Right now my target for doing anything in terms of packing - other than decluttering as time permits - is May. I don't see the point of boxing up a lot of stuff so for months we can be tripping over boxes or digging for that thing we packed but need.

I do understand the feeling of knowing that it has to happen and wanting to get it done, but not yet. I'm determined, no, deperate to keep living life here for a while and not jump headlong into suspended animation. Limbo is not my thing, as you may remember.

I made two more dream beads for Beads of Courage. The challenges get harder.

I thought the first one would be the easier one.

For Henry, age 9. "It would be an American Flag, with 7 red stripes and 6 white stripes. The stars (as many as possible) would be bumpy and white on a blue background."

I wasn't sure I could get all 6 white stripes on, but I did. The USA was my idea.

I thought the second one would be the harder one, but it turned out to be easier than the flag bead. Reading through it and digesting it was the hard part.

For Brittany, age 23. "If I had the chance we to have a dream bead created I would want it to represent what I love so much. I love horses and to be able to have a horse shaped bead would be great. I have a palamino mare therapy horse. I also would love to have a bead represent everything I am my parents support and live through my battle, the lime green awareness ribbon to bring awareness to what I fight and my pets. I have a service dog that is amazing, a smaller dog that cuddles with me all the time, and a medium sized dog that just loves to hug and kiss you. And as mentioned my horse I'd like it to be in a fun shape maybe a large bead that on each side has painted on it the things I have listed about but in a fun shape not your regular shape and I want it smooth. Also favorite colors are lime green, turquoise, purple and zebra print. I hope I get selected to get a dream bead. I've never gotten one before as didn't know you could even ask for them. If none of this could be done, a really nice service dog (black German Shepherd) and a palamino-colored horse-shaped and colored bead(s) would be very cool to have as well."

I managed to get in the horse, all the favorite colors including zebra print, the lime green ribbon and even a little black dog. I'm pretty proud of it and I hope she loves it.

And now my father-in-law is here and tomorrow we are headed to Lake Charles again for another visit with Baby Blake and family. I've booked our second Airbnb experience, this time for an "Awesome private detached 2bd/1ba" with 47 five star reviews.

I read a little online about the idiosyncracies of Airbnb reviews. Turns out I'm not the only one who struggled with leaving a completely honest review for our last host. As long as the place is clean, the stars are actually a pretty low bar to achieve. Accuracy, Communication, Cleanliness, Location, Check-In, Value. Presumably you've scouted out location and value in advance. Communication and check-in should be no-brainers, as should accuracy assuming you have reasonably represented your offering.

It seems it's human nature to struggle with giving a frank less-than-fully-positive review for someone you've met in person, whose roof you've stayed beneath, especially if they were pleasant and have a good track record. You don't want to be that picky whiner who points out the tiny size of the room or the lingering cooking smells. Unless the place is egregiously misrepresented or unsanitary, most people would rather dwell on the positives and move on.

Of course there's no reason to wax eloquent unnecessarily. Our previous Airbnb home had superlatives written about the decor, the personality of the hostess, the proximity to Dunkin' Donuts, the comfy terrycloth slippers (Yang didn't want us to wear shoes in the house, a reasonable request), the amazing community (a street of attached townhomes), the softness of the bed, the toiletries in the bathroom (Suave, the cheapest brand ever made). On the other hand, in retrospect, I noticed several people used the word "cozy" (a euphemism for claustrophobic?) and one person alluded enthusiastically to what I found objectionable: "Rest assured, you'll want to inquire on her "food recipes", which permeate throughout the house, making you want to try her culinary skills!"

Armed with a bit of experience and more knowledge, I'll be cultivating the fine art of reading between the lines in future selections. I don't see any red flags for our upcoming stay. In fact I'll be disappointed if the mentioned bagels and bananas don't materialize.

Mother teach me to walk again
Milk and honey so intoxicating

I'm reunited
Into the fire
I am the spark
Into the night
I yearn for comfort

Open the doors that lead on into Eden
Don't know cheap disguise
Follow the signs marked back to the beginning
No more compromise

And into the fire
I'm reunited
Into the fire
I am the spark
Into the night
I yearn for comfort

Free the water that carries me to the sea
You I see as my security

I will stare at the sun until its light doesn't blind me
I will walk unto the fire til its heat doesn't burn me
And I will feed the fire

Into the fire
I'm reunited
Into the fire
I am the spark
Into the night
I yearn for comfort.

(Sarah McLachlan, Pierre Marchand)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz