Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Change in Lifestyle

It may seem incongruous when I preach my minimalist theories (www.becomingminimalist.com is my favorite blog) and then move into what we could easily call a luxury condominium. At least it’s luxury in the world that I have lived. Luxury in the sense that the baseboards and the window sills are finished off, our “basic” choices in tile and counter tops were beautiful, and we were given a substantial amount of upgrade money to spend.

I could go on about that, but that is not what I want to say today. I would like to first say that we never would have been able to do this without saving during our lifetime. Period. And, our savings earned well, even during the lean years. I give credit to our financial adviser for our being in the place we are today. It’s not just a dwelling, it’s a lifestyle that I am still adjusting to. We have always had more yard, but we had people and animals that used it. Now, it’s enough to sit in the sun room or the patio and wave at the folks that go by.

We built an in-ground pool in our first house. I am not sure it was the smartest thing to do in a one-bathroom house; as we could not see the future with four people using one bathroom. However, we loved it and it was used! I have missed it since we moved to a larger home to raise our children in. Now, I have a pool I can use just about any time I want to. There are “hours” but those of us who live here know the code and could go for a midnight swim if we wanted. Don’t count on it, but we CAN! This year we will not be on any list, but next year we will take our weekly turn of opening and closing, and checking PH during the day.

But the bottom line is what we gave away and what we kept. We kept what we love and purged the rest. As I look around my home, I don’t have “art,” but everything hanging on the wall has some meaning to us. If it didn’t, we got rid of it. And trust me here, the place is NOT empty!

I didn’t keep all the kids’ toys, but I did keep the children’s books! Both of us purged our own books! I have electronic books. We don’t need yard tools (although they recommended keeping a snow shovel in the event we needed to get out before the snow-removal company comes around) and we don’t need a “pantry” in the garage. Our garage is full enough to store everything that had been stored in the basement. Christmas tree, ornaments, old letters, diaries and pictures from the history of our families and my Bible studies. These are the important things to me. If you are in my graduating class, the class filing cabinet is right to the left of the door—one step out the back door in cold weather.

This is my new sofa-bed with it's matching
love seat in the adjoining sun room.
So, did we need anything new? Of course we did. We got a new bedspread for the second bedroom as the colors were terribly wrong. I can handle eclectic style, but I want colors to coordinate! I insisted upon new living room furniture. If we were going to lose a bedroom, I wanted a sleeper sofa. We put it in the living room and the matching love seat in the adjoining sun room. I got two parsons chairs and some pillows from Overstock.com, which were VERY reasonable! I also used Ebates while purchasing them. We got new bathroom rugs. These are items which should service us for many years, barring any accidents. But aside from miscellaneous hardware, that was all.

Although I enjoy my easy living, I will still be minimalist. I don’t buy what I don’t need. I admit that in the winter I “stock up” on those things we stock up on, but otherwise, I get what I need and that’s about it. I do always like to have something, be it just cheese and crackers, to serve drop-in company.

My favorite thing. The builders built a
desk for me. I am looking for a chair.
I own six dresses and one of them is my mother-of-the-groom dress, which I probably won’t have many occasions to wear, and I don’t NEED more! What I MIGHT need is another bathing suit! But I know when the sales are, since I was born mid-summer.

So, I believe minimalist living can coexist with quality. And I’ve always said, we save here to spend over there. Well, we sure did that!

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until we "connect" again.....

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Hall of Honor

It was overdue. Long overdue. I think we all knew it, but who was going to do anything about it?

The man who was our choir director in high school should have been inducted into the school Hall of Honor twenty years ago! He spent twenty-two years at our school, directing choirs, ensembles and winning awards. Outside of teaching high school, he was music director at church, adjunct professor at the local university, and many other things I never knew about!

He is 80 years old and we need to do this while he is living.

It started with a Facebook Page. We fretted over the name, as we wanted to make it exclusively choir during the years he was director, not before and not after. Oh, we admitted some others, relatives of deceased members, and a few people who had sung for him outside of our school setting.

We missed the cutoff for the first year we wanted to nominate him, but that worked out fine. It gave us more time to collect information. This task went to another person, as I was struggling with my cancer diagnosis and treatment. She did a fabulous job of assembling the application.

In the “things we don’t expect” department: on the second day of my treatment, a friend of mine, a current band mom, was instructed by the band director to clean out a storage room. She and I had previously talked about our black and red robes—not the school colors—and they never seemed to show up. Well, on that 85 degree day in August, she found them.

I didn’t think about how I felt, I just went. She and I and some high school kids we roped into helping us, brought down six totes of robes, about 50 choir plaques earned at contest, and most importantly, reel to reel tapes from 1963 to 1977—when VHS kicked in and until this date, we have not found those.

I threw it out on Facebook: would you buy a robe to help raise money to transfer these tapes to digital? Would you “adopt a tape?” I did sell some robes, but most of them were not in good shape. However, the money rolled in for the transfer project. While I am struggling with my treatment, I found a place in the next town to do the project. We’re talking $1400 here, but the money rolled in.

Former students wanted access to their music. The shop told me the tapes were in magnificent shape for their age and they transferred well.

I uploaded them to Google drive and another alumnus went through them all, named them and made it easy to differentiate the pieces from each other. That was tedious work and I just wasn’t up to it.

Eventually, we could publish the link to the Google drive and alumni could access the music they wanted. He made CDs for those who didn’t want to download it themselves. Many others just downloaded the music. Both this alumnus and I have flash drives with back-ups—mine is in the lock box—and another woman is going to keep the archival CDs. She’s on the younger end of these folks and we feel that is best.

So, as we worked on this project, we waited to hear if our teacher would be inducted. (I really didn’t have any doubt).

When we learned that he was to be inducted, we learned something else. The school did not want the plaques that we had earned. So, another alumna came up with the idea of buying ONE plaque to cover the information on all the other plaques. It was a good idea, but not a cheap one. The total came to $1263.00. Without worry, again I asked for money. It came in like gangbusters, and my husband just shook his head as he brought in the mail each day. (As an aside, remember, my husband taught with this man). We ordered the plaque and it would be there to view at the Hall of Honor induction. (Later it would be installed)
Back in the Day--My Senior Year 1971

The actual Hall of Honor plaque provided by the school.

A group picture of some of those who turned
out to honor him.

We had a beautiful table set up. This includes the
plaque that we purchased for the music hall.

Signing the guestbook.

My project was to make a scrapbook with letters and pictures from all the years. It came together fine, but that was during the last week before the induction.

Well, we were all psyched up for this induction evening in late April and then totally disappointed to learn that the teacher's doctor would not let him travel. I know why, but I don’t talk about it and I am not revealing it here either. We were all just crushed!

However, if there is anything that 48-68 somethings have learned in life, is to make lemonade, and to cherish the time with EACH OTHER, even if he couldn’t come!

Some gathered for lunch that day and others gathered for a meal/snacks after the ceremony and reception. We all celebrated that time in our lives when we enjoyed our music, fellowship and accomplishment.

As for the ceremony itself, one of his students, the perfect choice as far as I am concerned was the “presenter.” He gave his speech, and when he got to the part where he said “Mr. (Superintendent), I now present so-and-so for induction into the Hall of Honor,” his former students gave a rousing standing ovation as if he were actually there. The “presenter” then had notes that our director had given him during the week, as an acceptance speech. It was flawless and excellent.

I wish we could have Skyped, but the news came too late to set that up. 

Nevertheless, it was a wonderful evening and we truly connected with each other, our history, and our thanks to a man who gave us love for music.

Thank you, Mr. Mac!


Until we connect again……

Two Months of Insanity!

Yes, two months have gone by since I have put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, as the case may be. What a two months it has been!

I have blog posts rolling around in my head, and I have written a few as we begin the next phase of planning for a 45th high school class reunion. Those need polished, but they will be posted.

BUT, in the meantime; my husband had arthroscopic knee surgery at the same time I was involved with the induction of a former choir director to our high school’s Hall of Honor; we both recuperated, and began the task of packing our house. It took much of the month of May, along with the various miscellany of life.

My annual mammogram was clear, we closed on our old home, and we moved June 1st into our condo, literally before we had closed on it. Don’t ask. It all worked out fine. I was rather discombobulated when the condo association decided to pave the whole place the day we were planning to move (2nd), but it was all good. I was tired. The biggest work was carrying boxes in prior to the move. Even though we had purged and purged some more, I just couldn’t believe how many boxes there were. We had help from the football coach and his wife and there was STILL so much to do!

My curio cabinet
fit perfectly!
I learned some things about us. I keep cleaning supplies in each bathroom and kitchen. We lost a bathroom in the move. However, by the time I had unpacked, I had cleaning supplies in an overflow cabinet and ANOTHER overflow cabinet. We won’t need cleaning supplies for two years. How in heaven’s name did we collect all of these?

The condo itself is wonderful for us. It is truly the “open concept,” with a den off to one side and a sun-room off to the other. The only doors are to the two bedrooms and hall bath. Well, there is a door to the laundry room. We have a big great room with a dining area that can be for four or twelve. The den is as cozy as can be. It may be my favorite room in the house—housing Jerry’s “command central” desk, our old couch, chair and TV, plus two bookshelves, one for Jerry and one for kids’ books.

My trophy kitchen!
The kitchen is HUGE and I may be forced to cook. For the first time in my life, I have all of my linens in one place, I have a cabinet for small holiday decor, a "wine cellar," and they built me a desk between the refrigerator and the laundry room door. It has four drawers and then the cabinets above that I can use. It is literally six steps into the garage, where I have my class filing cabinet right by the door!

MY room is the four season sun-room. It has my piano and my brother’s guitar, a love seat and chair, and a table for all of Jerry’s plants. A couple of years ago, Mom bought me a water feature which is perfect in there. The sun-room opens to our patio. It’s small, but our four chairs and table fit fine. It’s like sitting on a front porch of bygone days, and waving and talking to those who walk and ride bikes by in the evening.

We’ve met several of our neighbors and moved in just in time to attend the Annual Meeting, so we were able to elect two new board members. We didn’t talk much that night as there were just so many people there. We have met several people at the pool. Our neighbors are lovely. Thank you God.

So after some little bumps in the road, we are settled. The dishwasher broke a piece off the shell of the inside of the dishwasher, so that will be replaced this week. We hung pictures without killing each other, and we did a job that I am proud of. The garage is completely organized and we had two cars residing there within two weeks.

Come see us!
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The left knee that I have been having trouble with since April 25, 2013 is really stressed. I know Jerry’s knee was stressed also, but he was supposed to be fixed, and as far as we know, he is. I didn’t worry about going to exercise class. I figured boot camp had nothing on me in terms of work. My upper body is strong. But that knee is nagging me, to the point that I don’t sleep at night because of the pain.

So I went back to the most wonderful surgeon in the world and we scheduled me for July 2. It will be arthroscopic and it’s the opposite knee from Jerry’s, so after I get off meds, I have no driving restrictions. Hopefully this gets me back to exercising. My Fitness Journey has been non-existent and it shows. Harrumph! We have a pool and I’ve been pool walking and that feels good. I lift my 5 lb. weights in all kinds of formations.

It has been a crazy time in life. I am grateful for no other drama, illness or major problems. I have learned over the years that when things like having the condo association decide to pave the day we decide to move, it WILL all work out. Our buyer couldn’t have been more patient and helpful.

Until we “connect” again……