Still on the market

We listed the house in January. Don’t remember the exact day the listing was official, I think it was about the 10th of the month. Our realtor said the average time a house is on the market is 60 to 90 days, and perhaps a little longer in our price range. So we’re clearly over the 60 day mark.

We’re having an open house this weekend, the first in the more hopeful season of early spring. Houses do sell in January and February, it just isn’t as common. So the time on the market to date has allowed me to get ready to sell, to do a lot of sorting and boxing. The basement is boxed, and most of the non-essentials throughout the house are boxed or have been sold or donated. Having the sign in front of the house has been a real motivator for me.

Tonight when I got home there was a flyer on the door from a local moving company. But wait, I already got a moving estimate from another company in town. A little comparison shopping can be a good thing, so I think I’ll give this second company a call. After all, they’re affiliated with a national mover, so they could handle an out of state relocation. But the real question is: is it a sign? I had a call today, out of the blue (my favorite thing! love the unexpected), from someone who is in town looking for housing. Hmmm….I’ll keep you posted!

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Pain of parting

Shoes in a shop

 

I’m going through a painful process as I sort and thin possessions. Yes. I am parting with some of my shoes. Imagine mournful music playing at this point.

A love of shoes is a common weakness for women. Maybe for some men, but I’ll confine myself to generalizations and stereotypes of my own gender here. I am definitely not alone in this. Visit any shoe store and the selection for women is much larger than for men. I feel very proud of myself if I only choose three or four pairs of shoes when I pack for a weekend. I’ve known some women to need a whole suitcase for shoes for a week. I quickly say to myself, “I’m not that bad!” But of course these things are all relative. My husband can’t understand why I might need multiple pairs of black shoes for a trip. But while the color may be the same, the style is different. Who would put black heels with an outfit that needs black flats?! But he never really gets these subtleties.

What I really struggle with is giving up favorite pairs of shoes. I used to love Pappagallo shoes, and had a quite a collection in my closet. Then I lost my source for buying that brand. But although I bought the last pair in the early 90s (can’t believe my son was in 1st grade at the time, that really puts this in perspective for me) I’ve never been able to give up any of them. Not that I still wear them. No, they’re dated enough that I would feel strange about that. But they’re Pappagallos! And because I have kept my shoes in their original boxes and I’m careful to wipe down and polish, even shoes from that era still look almost new. But really, I’m not stocking items for a museum. And if I’m not going to dress in vintage clothing, why am I still hauling them around?

So, I have a multi-step plan. First I pull out anything that is even remotely questionable. I can part with two pairs using this filter. Then I look again and try to determine if there are classic styles that I haven’t been wearing that I really would put back into use. You know, sometimes you just transition to newer items because they are new, not because the older things are out of style or too worn. So I determine that another two or three pairs of low heeled pumps really are wearable, and looking at online shoes stores, could have been purchased yesterday. So I was right all along about classic styles…they really do last, or come back into fashion!

So that leaves me with a dozen or so pairs of shoes that I am struggling to give up. I know, realistically, they won’t be coming back to my clothing rotation. I did get a lot of use from them at the time. Now I just have to steel myself and let go. I look at the colors and the lines of the shoes, I remember times I wore them or outfits I paired them with. Something that seemed like a routine chore is surprisingly poignant, because suddenly this is not about getting rid of old shoes at all. I’m walking through an era of my life when I was in my early 30s and I had young children. I had a different life. Rob and I were the young parents. We had a lot before us.

Now I am a grandmother of an almost-one-year-old, and I have a lot of old shoes. I have new ones too. My life hasn’t stood still. And if I have a few moments of nostalgia for the past, I can shake it off and remind myself that today is good too. But it’s funny to me how out of the blue, in a stab of realization, these gains and losses are defined all over again, and by unexpected catalysts. Who would have thought cleaning out my shoes would take me to 1st grade, or soccer games, or the office I worked in at the time? Or the trip Rob and I made to New York? Or a house I once loved?

One of my favorite quotes says, “You’re never safe from surprise till you’re dead!” Well, sitting in the middle of my closet floor, surrounded by the past, cleverly disguised as shoes, I experience surprise at how sharp and sweet the memories are. But I look again and realize that I am keeping the memories, the really sweet stuff. It’s the shoes I’m cleaning out. My heart will still be able to go back and visit those times, at moments that I choose, or need to. The scenes in my mind are still there, tucked away. But I can let go of the shoes. That’s not where I live; they’ve outstayed their welcome, and it’s time to send them on their way.

Child of morning

As a child of night people, I grew up believing I was also a night person, and for the first many years of my life, I tended to sleep in (whenever possible) and stay up late (every night). I remember my dad saying once, somewhat wistfully, that he hated to give up the day. He and my mom were able to be productive until midnight,  or even later, and were quite happy with that routine.

But for some years now, I have known that my natural rhythm is rooted in the calm of early morning. The stillness of the house at 5:00 am is a gentle usher into activity, the routine beginning of getting out the door. There is no better start to a hectic schedule than drinking my coffee and watching the sun come up. I know those moments are a precursor to the day’s pace, and in 2011, the pace is brisk. But the morning is a time of gathering myself, centering, preparing. I’m not going out to do battle! Let me hasten to say my life is not filled with conflict. It is filled with commitment….commitment to people, work, errands, to dos, information. The barrage of tasks, meetings, technology, obligations, desires…these things take their piece of time and energy.

Early morning is a great time to contemplate the workings of life. I don’t often find answers; mostly I think of new questions as I sit staring at the water and outline of the mountains appearing in the dawn. But even with questions and without answers, the peace of the moment reassures me. And that is the gift of early morning. I recognize that life begins anew each day. Circumstances don’t change overnight. But I can be new, face life with refreshed energy, renewed hope, a desire to try again.

There is a line by L. M. Montgomery in Anne of Green Gables that says, “Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it.” Yes, I have to live with mistakes that follow me from the day before, or the year before. Some mistakes take a while to leave behind. But the morning presents another opportunity. And when I watch the sun come up, feel the hope of the day, I see the colors of potential.

Find your sweet spot regardless of the time of day. I think recognizing your rhythm is a big step toward sanity. If you’ve been living with less of that than you’d like, try getting up early, if that’s not a part of your routine. And if you’re already an early riser, try being still at the beginning of the day. With or without coffee in hand, it’s a great way to launch.

Spots

pink laundry detergent

Ok, please tell me why a freshly pressed light-colored pair of pants is a magnet for spots? I’m not usually messy…I don’t spill a lot, don’t have a hole in my lip. But I know when I left the house this morning I was wearing clean clothes. Now, late in the day, I look down and see I’ve acquired a few things along the way. And it’s not such a big deal to go home and treat a few spots and throw laundry in for a spin. But how long have I had these spots? Were they with me as I went through a day of meetings? You know, I really try to project a professional image. Is there a conspiracy? Must I wear leftovers through my afternoon? And why do I notice at the end of the day? At least if I had noticed the drip when it happened, I could have attempted a fix. Now, at 4:30, there’s no point. My spots have been on display, front and center.

The only thing I can hope is that everyone else was pre-occupied with their own spots.

If all of this sounds silly, just wait until you realize that instead of displaying a confident and polished self, you were wearing your best middle-school look. Really, the only comfort with these little flashes of insecurity…you know, an unzipped fly, or socks that don’t match (I don’t know how that happened) or bad hair days….is the realization that no one escapes. We’re all seventh graders at one time or another, even after we’ve long outgrown the age.

Well, off to buy some stain remover. And tomorrow, I hope to move up a grade or two.

Ginger Peach tea and other finds

Rosemary scented water is popular.

Rosemary

Found some fun new things this week. Mind you, when I say new, I mean new to me…my discoveries may not be cutting edge. But in case I’m not the only one…

Favorite new tea: Republic of Tea Longevity Ginger Peach. This is wonderful as a hot or iced beverage. The flavor is amazing, refreshing, and the tea comes in individual bags with no messy string or paper tag to fuss with.

Google Chrome web browser: thank you Rob! He introduced me to this browser and I like  it better than Internet Explorer…seems faster and offers some great new features.

Amazon Windowshop Beta App: A new way to shop Amazon…this is an app from the  Google Apps site. Easy to navigate through the page and lots of links to explore…Amazon just gets better and better.

Rosemary scented wash cloths: Place a lightweight wash cloth and a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary in a bowl and cover with water. Microwave one to two minutes until water is very hot. Let the cloth steep in the herb infused water. The longer the cloth steeps in the scented water, the stronger the fragrance will become. I like to reheat the bowl in the microwave just before using so the cloth is a perfect temperature…warm but not too hot. Find the Goldilocks spot for your taste. This is a refreshing way to revive after a busy day or a calming wind-down before bed. Check out the baby department for small perfect sized cloths. This also works well with a few basil leaves or any herb you prefer to substitute for the rosemary.

The best part of these finds is that they add fun, variety and functionality to routine. What’s new with you?

Saturday and the livin’ is easy

It’s been a beautiful Saturday in Ketchikan, Alaska…one of the postcard days that everyone should see here…and so few do! I always feel sorry for the cruise ship tourists who have one day to see the community and have to spend it under umbrellas and rain coats.

But I digress…the past three days here have been amazing. When the sky is clear and blue, the water takes on the same hue and the sun feels HOT. Surprising for springtime in Alaska, but the sun streaming in through my sun room can actually warm the house to a comfortable temperature. And we’re still in March!

The perfect spring weather has been the perfect backdrop to a perfect lazy Saturday. Slept in (7:00 am, thank you!), always a treat to a 5:00 am weekday riser. Had a morning coaching call with my life coach, then a hearty brunch with Rob. We progressed to a few chores around the house, then a workout, grocery stop, and finally, back home to catch up on some online work before ending our day with pizza and a movie. Now, if this is not your idea of perfect, I understand. I’ve had more exciting days for sure. But what is more rewarding, in the big picture, than to realize that the mundane tasks of life can still be fun and that the slow pace of a casual Saturday is just right when you have a loved one to wake with, eat with, run errands with?

We anticipate the big moments in life; special days, exotic vacations, beginnings…relationships, jobs, births, adventures….we mark the calendar with the dates to remember. But we don’t count the most important days of all…the everydays, the working days, the Saturdays that fill the years with the ordinary and the wonderful.

Next Saturday, I’ll have my usual list of things to do. But I’ll take a moment to mark the special day that occurs only 52 times a year. And maybe the sun will be shining again.

Favorite things

Film poster for The Story of Us

These are a few of my favorite things (in random order):

  1. Warm sunshine in my sunroom
  2. Loving words
  3. Rubbermaid tubs (great for boxing and storing)
  4. Macadamia nut cookies (Pepperidge Farm, yum!)
  5. Movies with a message – check out “The Story of Us,” an oldie but a goodie
  6. Odd serendipities – I broke a glass vase yesterday that I couldn’t bring myself to part with, but didn’t really want either - I broke it accidentally; but was actually relieved to be free of it without guilt
  7. Pink tulips
  8. Little Riley’s voice on the phone
  9. Anticipation
  10. Digital books

What are your favorite things?

Response vs reaction

A Garden hose.

Here’s a fun and intriguing game: think of two words that begin with the same letter, are similar in meaning, yet have subtle differences. There are many word pairs that work for this exercise. The words I’m using here, response and reaction, fit these requirements perfectly.

Imagine any scenario between two people, or groups of people. The scenario has some element of conflict. Maybe conflict is too strong a word…maybe in the scene there is just a difference of opinion. One person or group speaks or acts, and the other responds. What type of interaction do you see? I see a calm and measured exchange, a respectful and healthy exchange.

Change the word describing the scene to “react” and there is a shift in interpretation. Now the second person or group is not so calm. There is a hint of acting out of instinct, of acting from the gut. In fact, you frequently hear the phrase “gut reaction” to describe a swift and automatic volley of speech or action.

In life, there is a time for both response and reaction. If you are having a discussion, you most likely prefer a response to your statement. If you face an emergency, you react, hopefully swiftly, and probably instinctively.

So in conversations at home or at work, in encounters in line at the grocery or a parent-teacher conference, or more importantly, with a spouse or your child, choose carefully. Does the situation require a response? Or do you need to react? Have you mixed the two scenarios? Reacted when you should have responded? Or maybe, responded when you should have reacted? We can usually determine when we over-react. But it can be just as detrimental to under-react. If my house is on fire, I don’t need a garden hose, I need a fire-engine. So either responding or reacting can be appropriate. And either approach can be wrong.

My life coach and I were discussing this recently, and credit goes  to her for this  word pairing. Challenge yourself to think of other examples. The English language is full of these. Some pairings follow this pattern, and other words begin with the same letter but are opposite in meaning. The helpful part of the game is that when you pair words and consider the differences in meaning, you begin to consider how you display these meanings in your life. It’s an awareness check, and this is a tool.

Extreme Banana Nut Bread

Homemade Banana Bread

Here’s an old favorite, good any season of the year. And for those pesky bananas that zip right past their 30 second window of ripeness, it’s a great way to use produce and have a taste of comfort food. This is delicious with a cup of morning coffee or afternoon tea.

Extreme Banana Nut Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar (1 cup granulated white sugar, 1 cup brown sugar)
3 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 5 bananas)
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two 9×5 inch loaf pans. (Or just spray with Pam baking spray). Or, use a muffin pan if you prefer muffins rather than a loaf of bread. Spray muffin cups with Pam, or use cup cake paper liners.

Sift the flour, salt and baking soda into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in the bananas, eggs, vanilla and nuts until well blended. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture, and stir just until blended. Divide the batter evenly between the two loaf pans, or muffin cups.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven; about 20 minutes for muffins if you choose that option, or until a knife inserted into the crown of the loaf or muffin comes out clean. Let the bread cool in the pans for at least 5 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack, and cool completely. Wrap in aluminum foil to keep in the moisture.

Two other tips for free…if you have bananas that are getting too ripe and you don’t have time to make this bread right away, you can freeze the bananas and defrost to use when you’re ready.  Throw the bananas into the freezer unpeeled and whole (the skins will turn black when the fruit freezes, but it doesn’t affect the taste). Or, if you have time to prep, you can peel and slice the bananas and freeze using a freezer bag. Use in the bread recipe or use a few slices at a time in fruit smoothies or milk shakes. When you thaw the bananas to use in the bread recipe, the texture will be almost liquid in consistency, but the thawed fruit works perfectly in the bread. To use the slices in smoothies, don’t thaw, just add to the blender with other smoothie ingredients.

Enjoy!

I needed that!

You know how life works at times…you see something that is exactly what you need to read, or you hear something that is exactly what you need to hear? This is what I read:

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of of the future.  ~  Fulton Oursler

And this is what I heard:

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars ~ Charles Austin Beard

Have a beautiful weekend!