Menopause

Downsizing: New Folks Are Coming!

“I just feel so guilty,” I’ve said, a lot, over the last two years.

“The house doesn’t know we’re leaving,” Cliff always answers.

“Yes. It does. The house remembers all the years.”

I’m the one who pushed us to move. It was time to clean out, and the house and yard are large and not easy to manage. And I love our new house. Life is simpler here in so many ways. But for the longest time, I felt guilty about leaving the old one. Surely the  house feels our betrayal.

But now…

Just like in my beloved childhood book, Rabbit Hill, new folks are coming!

Thanks to our realtor Meighan Carmichael, and her sharp eyes and energy, the house was spruced up. Really spruced up. Painted. Repaired. Cleaned.

hall

It sold the third day on the market. Wow. Cliff and I were shocked and delighted. And best of all, the new folks promise to love the house as we have.

I bet my old house does remember all the years, but most of all, I hope it loves the years to come.

Thank you to my friend Donna Warshaw, who took this photo at our final Christmas parade gathering in December. Of all the house photos taken over the years, this is my favorite because it shows such depth and because of the light in the window. That light shines in the room where I wrote many of my published books.

I’ve archived all of my downsizing posts here, and I’ve got a few more to come. If any of you have a downsizing story you’d like to tell, I’d love to feature you on Friend for the Ride.

 

Menopause

Downsizing: Finding Happy Homes

Cliff and I are still downsizing as we move into our new home. A burst pipe in the fire sprinkler system set us back this winter. The pipe was incorrectly insulated by the builder. It sounded like Niagara Falls when I walked in on that freezing January day to discover that one wing of our house was already flooded.

The repairs, done begrudgingly by the builder, have taken forever, but we were fortunate as it could have been so much worse. Lucky I came into the house when I did.

In the meantime, we’ve continued to empty the old house (and we’re now living in the new one for the most part). My downsizing mission has been to put almost nothing in the landfill, and I’ve had great success. A second mission was to be creative in giving away my goods, so that they found the best possible home.

Our love seat became an important part of the set of Orange Community Player’s production of California Suite. Not only did I have a blast playing Mattie the Maid in the show, but I loved seeing how well my love seat worked on the set.

My church, Hillsborough Presbyterian, supports refugee families. My friend Alice delivered our guest room bedding to two little girls in one of the families.

Alice reported that the girls were delighted. Here’s Zakara on her  newly made up bed. (For those of you who remember the old Eddie Bauer home stores, that’s where this set came from.)

Their mom, Sekeena, is a seamstress. I sent dust ruffles to her too, hoping she can  use the eyelet in some of her projects.

I commissioned Sekeena to make potholders from extra fabric I bought years ago to match our living room couches. The couches aren’t coming to the new house, so the potholders make great souvenirs. I’ve got a stack of ten or so. Should last a while!

We bought this school desk when we were first married and living in Pittsburgh. I love it but have no place for it in the new house. One day it popped into my mind that a children’s museum might like a school desk. A few weeks later, our desk was on its way to the  Children’s Museum of Alamance County. We look forward to visiting it there.

And I sent these framed quilt pieces to  Ali Givens, who does fabric art. Hopefully she can use the smaller roses in a project.


After the flooded wing of the house is painted next week, we plan to move over another load of furniture. Then I’ll find a home for those couches, among other projects.

Soon comes the biggest downsizing project of all: Getting our 180-year-old house on the market.

Anyone want a house in historic HIllsborough? We’ll fix the shutter before you move in…

House

 

Menopause

Downsizing: Returned Treasures

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In the midst of downsizing, comes a bit more upsizing. My childhood friend Steff and I had a wonderful reunion this winter. Steff presented me with letters and notes I wrote in Junior High. Fun!

Next, she brought out this rag doll. “You made her,” Steff said, “when we used to sew together at my house.”

I remember watching reruns of Andy of Mayberry at Steff’s and eating homemade chocolate chip cookies. I remember piano and organ lessons since Steff’s mom was my teacher. I remember sleepovers and neighborhood parties.

But I don’t remember making the doll.”She’s been in a box for years,” Steff said. “Now she’s yours.”

I brought the doll home. She smiles A LOT, so I think she’s happy.

She sat on my kitchen window ledge for a while. I would look at her and try to see the teenager I once was. The girl who loved to sew (and had better eyes for things back then like needles and stitching). I tried to conjure up that girl, but it was hard to focus past the doll’s grin.

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Now the doll’s in a box again, waiting to move to the new house. There she’ll get an honored place, perhaps in the bedroom I’m fixing up for the grandchildren.

There’s lovely quote by Albert Camus: “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.”

Here’s my version: “In the midst of downsizing, I found there was, for me, some enchanting upsizing.”

Thanks, Steff. Welcome new/old doll!

Menopause

Downsizing: The Paint-by-number Clown (and a Life-changing Giveaway!)

Clown

Things are only things.

Nope. Don’t believe it. Not for an instant.

If things are only things, why do we collect? Why do we spend hours pondering fabric for a sofa? Why do we save baby dresses? Why do we cherish Grandma’s bracelet?

But that said, we only need/have space for so many things. As the daughter of a collecting mom, who loved to bring me presents, and as the mom to grownup daughters, who left lots of stuff behind, I had to figure out how to let go of things I liked, things that brought back lovely memories, and things that have been in the family for several generations. What goes? What stays?

Bring on The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up!  Linsdley Bowen, who owns Carlisle and Linny Vintage Jewelery here in Hillsborough, first told me about this neat (pun somewhat intended) little book. As the title promises, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up changed my life. Seriously

Author Marie Kondo writes, “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”

Magical Art of Tidying Up

Some of Kondo’s methods seem over the top. She gives instructions on clothing storage that made my eyes glaze over, and she believes in saving NO paper, including cards or letters.  I’m not planning on giving up Cliff’s love letters or Laura’s last Mother’s Day card, at least not anytime soon.

But I LOVE that Kondo personifies objects because I do too. That’s been part of my troubles all along. I believe at least some of my things have feelings (nutty, I know) and that makes it harder to give them away. But Kondo says if our things are stuffed in the back of a closet, they aren’t happy anymore. Send them on to a new life!

But the real magic of this book is this simple advice: “Take each item in one’s hand and ask, ‘Does this spark joy?”‘

My next downsizing project was a box of things sent by Mom ten years ago. The clown above would be a heart-wrenching decision. I created him with paint-by-number when I was seven. Mom framed him for my grandpa, who kept the clown in his apartment for the rest of his life.

I’m not deep into clown art. Couldn’t he go? Shouldn’t he go?

I studied the clown. My grandpa adored me -that undeserved, no strings attached kind of love- and so he loved my clown. Joy sparked!

The clown stays. In fact, he’s now grinning at me from my kitchen wall, where I promptly tacked him up.

Giveaway: I’ve got an extra copy of The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m happy to share. Please enter a comment by October 30 if you’d like to win the book.

Paint by Number: Here’s a fun article and video on the history of paint-by-number kits.  They’re now considered vintage, and some collectors are after them. Who knew?

Menopause

Downsizing:The Silber’s Tin

The downsizing continues! This post features items that I’ve given to specific people.

After my mom died in March, I mailed a dear family friend one of Mom’s paintings. I put this old Baltimore bakery tin in the box too since Kay lives in my hometown. I bet she can find someone there who loves the old Silber’s Bakery as much as I did.

I’m no longer teaching picture book classes, so my characters are going to an elementary school in Tidewater Virginia. My friend Ann will pass them on to teaching colleagues at her school. Can you name each character? (Strega Nona, Yertle the Turtle, a Wild Thing, Ramona, and Max grace the top row.  Sylvester and Lilly sit on the bottom row.)

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I’ve put some of my items, such as the characters above and the Santa below, on Facebook. The Santa is heavy, so I specified local. In fifteen minutes, my friend Allison said she’d love to add him to her Santa collection.

Santa

I wondered if pushing my stuff on Facebook was tacky, but Facebook friends reported they had great fun checking out the items I was offering up.

My girls haven’t wanted a lot of my things. I’ve gotten used to the idea, but this came with some pain at first. Kath finally said to me, “Someone else will enjoy them.” My aha moment. But she loves crocks! Here are two of mine, now in her fireplace.

Crocks

And Matt, my son-in-law the gardener, has strawberries growing out of my great-grandmother’s strawberry pot.

My friend Cheryl took an old stone garden cat and these yellow ware bowls.  I had two garden cats (the same ones) and although I love the bowls, I haven’t used them in years.

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My brother brought this xylophone back from Africa. Our choir director said he’d be glad to take it and either use it at church or pass it on to a percussionist friend.

Xylophone from Africa

This was a tough one. My mom and dad’s kitchen china. It brings back those days long ago, but I want my own kitchen dishes. A friend who is into vintage things was looking for a new set. It’s hers!

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Pam Briggs, who works at Leland Little Auction Company here in Hillsborough (another downsizing story), has helped me mightily with the deeper emotional issues regarding keeping family treasures. “You only need a few items to be reminded of a loved one,” Pam says. “You don’t need a room packed with their old things.”

On to one of the toughest yet! My dad brought this figure back from Japan after the War. Mom adored him. I don’t. I love the image of my father returning to his beautiful fiancee, with treasures in hand, but this guy kind of creeps me out. I put him on Facebook and a friend from childhood, who knew my parents well, said she’d be pleased to have him.
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Giving your treasures to specific people is lots more time consuming than simply donating them, but it’s been another happy piece in my downsizing puzzle. I know where they are. I know they are honored and appreciated. Believe me, I’ve done lots and lots of donating, but for treasures that pull at the heart, this has been my golden ticket.

I’m hoping Cliff will agree to let his mom’s pancake griddle go. I’m itching to put it on Facebook. Who wouldn’t want a griddle named Happy Day Griddle-Grill!

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Here are links to my other downsizing posts:

Downsizing: The Recycling Shed

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Downsizing: Take a Photo?

duke-mug

Downsizing: Up to the Attic!

puzzles

Downsizing: Spare the Pig?

piggy-bank

Downsizing: Glass Upon Glass

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Downsizing: Keeping the Quirk

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Downsizing: The White Elephant

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Downsizing: The Bicycle Nightgown

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Menopause

Downsizing: Spare the Pig?

Piggy Bank

I bought Piggy at Pier One when I was in high school. He lived in my bedroom, and I filled him with quarters.

For the last twenty years or so, Piggy has resided on a bookcase in our upstairs hall. Cliff’s been feeding him loose change.This piggy bank is loaded! There’s no way to open him up to retrieve the money.

Piggy Bank

How tempting to take a hammer and liberate all those coins. I could treat Cliff to a beer or two at one of Hillsborough’s watering holes or buy myself a few bars of elegant soap. Maybe both! Better yet, I could donate the coins to our church’s collection for the hungry.

I’m fond of my piggy bank, but he’s not on my Keep Until I Die List. I’ve got other mementos from high school. The downsizing project continues! So smash and retrieve the coins? Or give Piggy away? Let someone else make that difficult decision?

Piggy Bank

I’ve finally got my answer (I think), but I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Anyone else have a similar downsizing dilemma?

Menopause

Downsizing: Glass Upon Glass

 

Bride Full Piece

In my downsizing project, some of the hardest objects to deal with are those made of glass. Glass breaks (duh) and so packaging it up for donation gets more complicated.

When I discovered this sculpture at the North Carolina Museum of Art, I thought wow, maybe I could find an artist to come to my house and pick up all my glass.

In the interview below, artist Beth Lipman talks about her creation, which she titled Bride. She explains that the sculpture starts with order at the top and descends into chaos as the eye reaches the bottom.

I still remember unwrapping some of my glass wedding presents.. So neat, so elegant, nestled into a white boxes with tissue. Now those vases and candy dishes and candlesticks are crammed into cupboards. Chaos.

With menopause must come downsizing hormones. There’s not a woman I know who doesn’t want to clear out when she hits a certain age. But gosh is Beth Lipman going to have a good time with downsizing. She can build more incredible pieces of art!

What about you? What’s been your greatest downsizing challenge?