Friday, November 13, 2009

LOFT LIFE: New Friends

LOFT LIFE: New friends

Andi and I met at the health club, she working away on her morning routine at the treadmill, and then the weight room, I dabbling with getting back to a treadmill after 18 months of sedentary life, except for my walks around the hotel.

Our bonding started with my request to change the channel on the exercise room television to the Food channel.

“That’s my favorite, too,” she affirmed, and so we enjoyed talking, watching, and getting to know one another. We had coffee at her place—we are in the same building, and at my place the next day. We both love coffee, she and her husband appear to be wine aficionados, and her sister lives in Chicago, where she visits, so we may even share a trip to ORD in the spring, where Andi will show me how to fly from New York and save $100.

We introduced our husbands to each other in the parking lot the next morning, Saturday, and though we are much older than they, I think this is a great start at making friends in the area. Age has never been a big issue with our assortment of fun and interesting friends. And, best of all, these friends are neighbors, just upstairs from our place, and also not knowing many people in this area.

Andi’s in Chicago as I write this, and when she gets back, we will celebrate her new job with a rouladen dinner and dumplings. This is the only German meal I know how to make. Andi’s husband, Thomas, is from Germany, where they met. But, I hope to have her teach me other German dishes, since she also seems to love cooking. So much to look forward to.



I think I may have to revisit the whole idea of this blogging thing. I understand it is kind of about me, and that you are readers, followers and good friends, and that I have to keep you entertained. But, I seem to be having a bit of a challenge changing from the weekly column idea to daily blog. I promise to get a handle on this—even soon.

In any case, we had some misgivings about our loft apartment: the complex borders a not-so-lovely town, where the citizenry claims to be in an urban renewal mode, but where we we often see people who look either homeless, or bored, loitering about the perimeter of our back parking lot. The fact that we park a Mini and a Jag there is some cause for concern, although I understand the big car and parts thievery makes and models are Hondas. So that is a relief. I guess pawning off Jag parts is not as easy as for Honda stuff. In general, I have found our fears unnecessary. We keep our windows open and no one has yet sought to climb in and rob or maim. I will decide it is a non-event. I also will visit the Enterprise Zone office and see if I can be helpful in the urban renewal. I have skills. Why not help!

Also, as I mentioned before, I have been concerned about space. This is also less of a problem, although there are some creative storage challenges for pots, pans, spices, tableware, office supplies, files, maps, and the list goes on and on. Our tableware plastic insert form, for instance is too wide for the narrow kitchen drawers. My Corning ware is a tad too wide to be placed three across on the cabinet shelf. My spices take up two cabinets—which I think, next to books, is my overdo area. But you remember I had to buy all new herbs and spices for the hotel kitchen, and now when I unpack my IL home spices, I have double contents and half the shelf space. This will dwindle and be resolved, probably by Easter, 2010. (That’s a random guess.)

I was concerned that some of the reviews of the apartment mentioned lots of noise—like hearing a fraternity party, and lots of mess—like party pizza boxes and beer bottles. I think that is not in our building, because we have not had much noise, and the so-called “paper thin walls” are not only very thick, but I can’t even hear Jay playing his beloved acoustic or new electric three rooms away in the same rooms.

So we are happy. We love the place. It is a job unpacking, and much of what we used to have at arm’s length is now down the hall in the storage room. But oh what a joy it is to have our own place, to set up housekeeping, to be able to cook beautiful meals on our Italian pottery dishes, and to have a light on without waking up the other spouse. Oh, and while we are on the subject of lights, there are none here except in the kitchen. No overhead lights! No light in the dining room, the bedroom, or the living room (which we have made from bedroom number two). So our lamps are not enough to light the way for my workday in the living room, or morning routines, like seeing our clothes, in the bedroom. This may have to result in buying more STUFF, like lamps. L

We have a checklist to hand into management, which will include the broken blinds, the broken oven door, the very old microwave, and the nicks on the walls and woodwork, plus a towel rack that dislodges from its track in our master bath. I wish the countertops in the kitchen weren’t white and prone to staining with the whiff of a coffee cup’s presence, but they are! Other than these things, the place is beautiful, and every time I look at the Realtor emails of the houses we could have bought or rented, I am thankful I did not end up in any of those dingy, small places, with overhead lights, but no character.

I love our tall industrial windows, the brick walls on the outer sides of each room, our 20X13 three rooms, our high ceilings, and even the beige carpeting has a nutmeg hue that is more appealing that I thought it would be.

I love passing the massive, exposed support wooden columns and exposed beams in the hallway, which I pass on the way to the mailboxes each day.

I love the health club. We’ve been swimming a half dozen times. And, I have also done the treadmill a couple of times. The first time I met Andy. More about her later.

Hubby is happy, I am happy, we are happy, and we thank God for His goodness in fulfilling my only request: small is okay, but please not ugly!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Hotel Stories: Moving Day

Moving day was set for October 30, which meant another flying trip back to IL for me to direct the packing, labeling, coordinating, etc.

This was supposed to be simple: just sit back and relax and a professional moving company will do it all. NOT!!!

Instead, before the relaxing, the professional moving, I had to divide the house up, finding sticky notes of color to denote which things in EVERY room would stay, and which would go with us to the apartment and the 300 square foot storage space, which was sounding more and more like what might occupy my life for the next ten years. I mean, if I didn’t have time to sell, give away or throw away all of the stuff BEFORE the move, it was only a matter of time before this task would haunt me at my new location.

You know, we spend the first half of our life accumulating, and the second half trying to get rid of it all. It is daunting. Stuff! I have really come to hate stuff!! I want no more stuff. Friends, hear this! Do NOT give me more stuff. No gifts that are not consumable, or about travel, or perhaps small boxes of writing paper—but even that will soon go the way of the dinosaur.

And, books! Oh my. Of the 17,800 pounds of stuff, 3500 were books. We do love our books, but really, this is a stat that has to change. There are libraries. So, don’t give me books either. Give me the author and title, and I will borrow it somewhere. A book is heavy. I am thinking about a Kindle, but even that is stuff, and I might miss the page turning and the feel of paper, even though many of my library loans’ pages revealed what the previous readers had been eating, or in some cases, more than I wanted to know about their DNA.

But, I digress. I got my daughter to list for me what she wanted: the claw-footed oak table and chairs, the piano (of course), the antique Singer sewing machine, the trundle bed and mattress, the treadmill, and the washer and dryer. Only problem is, she lives in one room in a house, and had to find storage. She did. Whew. Then a friend wanted our family room couch and chair, a bedroom set, and assorted other items. The rest will go to charity, and they will pick it up. Again, big whew. But, there were still 17,800 pounds to label for three different locations at the other end: the apartment, the storage room and the barn. This, of course, was also my job.

I stressed. But, there was little basis, as so often happens with worry, for my fears. And, that was due to an awesome man, named John Dalton, who when he pulled up in his Allied Van Lines semi (which he owns), communicated a calm that was contagious.

When his three mover-guys arrived, Larry, Steve and Joe, it became very clear that they were professionals, and that John’s management style left nothing to chance. They walked through the house, saw the items to stay, labeled those for the apartment, the storage room and the barn, and began packing—for the next eleven hours! The next day they loaded the truck.

At the other end, one week later, John hired Peter, Eddie, Dave and Louie, and they were most appreciative of the large entryway to the loft, and the proximity of the storage room, and they traveled on to the barn and even unloaded the lathe, the tools, the motorcycle, and the parts, plus the rest of the garage contents. I have to say here, I love that barn! J

I also have to let you know that John is a very interesting person. I plan to interview him for my Rock River Times column, Lunch with Marjorie, (which hopefully you have clicked on the live link at the bottom of this blog, and visited to peruse the many interesting stories of ordinary people, living extraordinary lives). After it is published, I will tell you more about John Dalton. But, here, it is just important to say thanks, John. You and your crews did, indeed, allow me to begin to relax and enjoy the move.

So, this is the end of hotel life, but not the end of my stories.

NEXT: Loft stories

Hotel Stories: New Beginnings

September seems so long ago. Please accept my apologies for completely skipping blog writing in October. But, you see, October was a busy month.

Actually at the end of September, I returned to the empty house in IL, ready to face another winter of vacancy where the house would begin to decline with no one living there till spring.

I was meeting with a media rep at a local cafĂ©, when one of my former media reps waved hello from another table. “Are you still trying to sell your house?” she queried. “Yes,” I said, “Interested?"

“Maybe,” she said. A few casual Facebook snippets and she and her husband decided to meet with me to see if we could brainstorm a good rental agreement. And, there it was. The empty house would have a family. At first I had been adverse to children and pets—new carpeting and countertops looming before me as ruined. Then, one morning in prayer, I realized how stupid and selfish that attitude was. A 3,000 square foot living space cries out for children. Pets, hmm, maybe not. But happily they have hamsters. They will not get a dog or cat as renters, and that is okay with them, and us. But, their lovely children will enjoy each having a room of their own, and these doting parents will have space at last to roam, even an acre of lawn for play.

So, October was spent in a frenzy of house and apartment hunting, and we actually decided to pursue a whimsical desire for a loft apartment. We really only needed a house for Jay to have a garage for the motorcycle building, tinkering, etc. So, in a happy serendipity, where our friend (originally the guy who sold me a Jag on EBay), who Jay has been helping for 17 months with Maserati restoration in his several Massachusetts barns, offered some barn space for Jay to work on his bikes, house hunting took on a different perspective.

We would look at 900 square foot homes, and they were ugly and needed lots of work. And, if we were to be renters here in CT or MA, we really didn’t need that house work to occupy our lives.

We Googled apartments and actually were amazed to find a 1200 square foot loft apartment, two bedrooms, two bathrooms (many houses we found had only one), and the real clincher was a 300 square foot storage room just down the hall from our second floor apartment. So the real problem of finding space for the 3,000 square foot of furnishings, suddenly became less of a hurdle, and the garage work became a positive relationship with a really nice friend for Jay—who by the way just bought two motorcycles. Life doesn’t get any better than that for Jay.

I, in the meantime, was giddy for the old manufacturing plant, turned loft apartments. Rent includes a health club, with both indoor and outdoor pools, an exercise room, a weight room, racquetball, tennis, and fitness classes, all included in the rent. Get ready for the new me. :)

So with a short space of double payments in CT and IL, we signed a lease ending our 17-month hotel stay, and we are moving into our lofty loft at the end of October.

God is good. All the time.