Archive | The Great Egress

I am blogging my move from Methuen to Saco Maine. I have been entrenched in this house since the 70s, nestled in with all my things and cats and obligations. It will be an interesting experience to divest myself of a lot of stuff, physical and emotional and see where I end up.

location location location

2015-01-25 13.32.07 It was about 40 today… that crisp sunny winter day, when you can go outside in a t-shirt to shovel snow off the truck. There’s more snow coming tomorrow or next, so i filled the squirrel feeder and shoveled the edges of the driveway. While I was out there, that nagging thought came back that two years or ten years ago, i couldn’t have seen myself standing in my own yard in MAINE no less. I am not sure about one year ago…i think the visions of getting a new life were the only thing that kept me going last year. For 5 months now I keep expect to do a look back at last years posts and compare and contrast…i was going to do it on the day i closed on the house, then the day i moved in, then the day the porch was done…then my birthday etc… as it happens i can’t bear to scroll back and read last years posts…not yet… I’m doing extra good distancing myself from all that guff. if I dwell on who did what to whom and how I drifted through the 1st 50 years of life ‘waiting’, i will get all tangled up inside my head again. I really can’t say ‘I should have done this sooner.’ It’s quite frigging obvious. But so many things had to happen FIRST for me to let go. I had to be making just enough money to not be tied to a location, I had to be read to cut all ties to friends and organizations…yeah you can say, but your friends are still your friends, but you’d be surprised at how little anyone calls or emails me…just cause i moved an hour away. But my days are my own. after i take care of the cats, and the dog, and the goldfish and the squirrels and now the plants, and soon the garden, but they aren’t chores, these are things that bring me joy. Granted that one elderly cat who is mistaking his bed for a litter box is getting on my nerves. But if i don’t take care of him who will?

2015-01-25 11.25.13 I have never been any good at guessing the future. I never thought i would own a chihuahua…but i do. Spider’s a very nice fella as dogs go. The cats..well the cats I could have predicted… And i have always WANTED to live in Maine since i was a kid reading Louise Dickinson Rich’s We took to the Woods and Robert McClosky’s Blueberries for Sal… and after trying and failing to alter my life course, I sort of gave up at about 30… I just figured I’d have died well before now.

For a long time I thought I would successful at something… and I tried many different things, many of them I was and AM very good at it. But nothing ever panned out into what one would call ‘success.’  For many years at a stretch I was depressed and very unhappy…two subtly different things, that can occur independently but once you have them together you  are really fucked.  As the years ground on, my ambitions got smaller and smaller, what I call successful now would be considered failure by others…hashtag firstworldproblems.

I was looking at all the detritus i have stacked up in the cellar…it’s nice having everything I own in ONE place, it makes it much easier to see what’s important and what can be discarded.   I remember writing 2 or 3 years ago about trying to divest myself of most of my belongings…or at least half…well now i am down to less than half..MUCh less than what I started with all those years ago.. thank god I did that I’d have never fit it all in here.  And now it is just a flick of the wrist to donate something or give it away, I don’t have three other ones stacked behind it.

One of the neighbors walking his dog asked me if I liked my house… yeah, I like it fine, I said.  Why can’t i say ‘I love it’? what’s wrong with that?  is it that I don’t love it YET? will I love it more when i finish all the things that I have in my minds eye? will that make a difference?  What about that little red house with the view, that i STILL love, so much that i try not to think about it? it was truly fucked up inside..and would have cost me more than this one in the end. But why do i LOVE that one and not this one?  Is that the romance of the hot guy who is nothing but trouble, and this house is the schlubby dependable guy you settle for and grow into a comfortable old age with?   Is that what I am preparing for? my old age? did i move here to grow old? When I’m an old woman I will live in Maine and feed squirrels.

I don’t miss much about my old life… I do miss the view a little bit, but I didn’t appreciate it. It just kept me from feeling the claustrophobia I was actually suffering from.  There were NINE mourning doves in my trees waiting out the snow yesterday.  they don’t come by often, I don’t think they like the seeds in the feeder as much as the cardinals and the bluejays.  I may set up a feeder for small birds next year after I get the garden going and figure out where to put it.  Can’t let the squirrels empty that one… they are fat enough now.

never too late to live happily ever after

IMG_2508 or at least that’s what I have been told.

Before Christmas I started asking for the opinions of my friends, WHY THE HELL I WASN’T GETTING ANY WORK DONE? I mean nothing, I mean I spent like six weeks puttering around this place, like a burrowing animal arranging his nest so he can sleep until spring…i wasn’t writing, i wasn’t working on any off the projects i moved to Maine TO work on. Obviously I wasn’t blogging, I wasn’t even working on the house, I sort of boarded up the 2nd floor and declared it done until spring.

The consensus of opinions, including my own, after a lot of navel gazing was that I was exhausted and hadn’t realized it. So basically I spent the last few months of the year, repairing my brain and my soul. I don’t know if it’s repaired…i don’t have the DRIVE to blog or write yet…I am working on it. Essentially I think i was blogging when the voices in my brain spilled out through my fingers, but its rather calm up there these days…there’s still a little voice playing solitaire in the corner who is worried because we have spent ALL the money, yup, the bottom of the bank account is wet but that’s it. I spent it all and don’t regret one damn dime..well maybe a little. But I am NOT in the same boat i was in 12 months ago, i am not even in the same ocean. I’m in MY OWN DAMN BOAT, which I built with my two little hands. The house is in completely livable shape, though it could use a shit load of paint and paper, and paneling. I am still sleeping in the living room, and the office is cluttered like a packrats den, but its fine. It’s exactly the amount of space I need right now. 2014-11-02 15.10.00

If you have been following me on Facebook, you know that I am fine. Last month, I started volunteering once a week at the Portland Gear Hub rebuilding donated bikes. Once a week for a few hours is about the right amount of time and I am the QUEEN of rust. And this week I started a part time job through a temp agency. …get this… less than a mile from the house, four hours a day I track freight shipments, no brainer right? it’s JUST interesting enough that the time flies by and NOT of any interest to me personally so I go home at 1pm and I can get my own shit done. And I am starting to work on things that have been ignored.

I am still not happy at the clutter in the office, but I am rearranging things a little every day. The basement is about 10 degrees colder than the house, so right now I only putter down there when i run the drier. I need to move a lot of the work bench stuff into the basement. But I am dragging my ass on that until warm weather. Once I move the bedroom stuff upstairs, then i will have a lot more room to organize. But alas the upstairs will take about 1500 to finish off, and that’s going to have to wait until I pay my 1st tax bill installment. Hence the part time job.
yardFor the last few days of the year, I have been planning my garden, whatever yard I have out there is going to BE garden when i get around to it. A row of raised beds with some heirloom vegetables. There’s still a LOT of yard work to do, there are a lot of ugly shrubs taking up way too much room, and that brick patio is sitting in direct sun where the tomatoes need to be, so that will have to be moved out back to just off the porch where i COULD use a patio. that’s a lot of work just to think about it. Well no more money for hiring other people, I need to do it my own damn self. Basically i am drawing a three year plan in my head – no sense in making too much of things and then getting discouraged.


and yes I did spend it all and no i have nothing to show for it, except a tiny little house, and a really great truck in a state I have always wanted to live, and NO one is fucking with me. The cats and the chihuahua are fine…as are the two damn goldfish from the pond out back, they now have DEluxe fish tanks cause i couldn’t let them freeze to death. And I dropped a lot of money on the largest squirrel feeder you ever saw… the cats watch the squirrels out the backporch windows..and the blue jays and whomever else comes and eats my peanuts. So i have a lot more mouths to feed, I need to get a wiggle on some of these projects, because that part time job won’t feed us all.

Squirrelatthe Feeder_sq

be careful what you wish for.

2014-09-26 15.23.13So i took a month off….at first because i was flat out busy and then it just got to be a habit.  What do you say when you get what you want and it still doesn’t taste right? I elected to say nothing.  Someone asked if i was ‘all moved in’ …what do you say to that when half of everything you own was still outside covered in tarps….and the i got the…’are you loving it?’ to which i didn’t respond at all. ..see it gets hard… i have exactly what i wanted, a small house all my own…but to complain about the string of crap that just isn’t ‘right’ yet just makes me sound like an whiny bitch.  I neither love it nor hate it. . . but I am warming to it.

2014-09-02 12.45.13After some mis-steps, the ‘magic porch’  is finally taking shape…the original contractor, took the deposit, put in a back door which stepped out into mid air like a Warner Bros Cartoon and then quit the job.  It took a number of threats and embarrassing phone calls to his materials vendors as well as the state attny general (when are people going to learn NOT to fuck with me?) but I got the deposit back, cept for the costs of the door.  I even got him to take back the 2000 dollars worth of ugly custom ordered windows.  Then there was a week of trotting 6 or 7 more contractors in to look at the problem, none of which would do it before Spring of 2015.  Finally I got in a guy recommended by the folks who fixed the basement…he’s working out very well…yet it is a constant struggle, because EVERY Contractor and i mean EVERY FUCKING ONE of them, insisted I don’t want what i am actually asking them to build.  Where I wanted a traditional screen porch, nearly all insist that what I actually want ia an addition that would be heated and insulated and drywalled and so forth and so on… i’m thinking of getting a t-shirt that says ‘just build what i told you, damnit!’  So far the only mission creep, i have had to pay for is the extra 10 inches of insulation in the floor.

IMG_1603The basement was a less dramatic story…it was FAR FAR wetter than advertised..the was a constant 2″ pond under the stairs, and more moisture than the dehumidifier could handle.  I didn’t dare store ANYTHING down there until after the big dig.  The  $5000 big dig, was well worth the expense, after the floor was jackhammered and the drains went in, the walls were wrapped with plastic. I still have to add some insulation to the ceiling and some of the nooks and crannies, but as long as the dehumidifier is working, it is acceptably moist.

I dropped, a few hundred on some used cabinets, a spectacular steel workbench and a counter top,  it will make an excellent workshop.  But so far everything is still in boxes….i think i need to have a baseboard added to the kitchen which would be right above the workbench..and i will probably have to disassemble it all to get at that spot.  I try not to look at the bank account, every day something else needs to be bought and paid for, and for every $300 worth of brand new insulation I try to compensate with used clothing or food from the dollar store. I am used to being poor, i am just not used to HAVING to buy something Right Damn Now. 2014-08-15 11.31.20

The Attic  doesn’t look all that much different..i’m still sleeping in the living room, on that goddamn futon..i wouldn’t be so pissed if i had bought it used, but i bought it new…who DOES THAT!?!  but now i have piled feather bed and cushions on it, so my back doesn’t ache as much.  What i HAVE done in the bedroom is add all the Corning Products – the foam AIR CHANNELS cost $17 a Package of 10…i think i had to buy 4 or 5…and that’s JUST for the big room, now i am stuffing insulation $600 under the strapping…it’s a lot like trying to pad out a herd of christmas santas.  I can’t seem to work up there more than 2 or 3 hours at a time before i get sick of what i am doing and take a 28 hour break.

So it’s taking me weeks alone to do what a contractor would have done in a couple of days with a helper.  I am JUST not one of those people who take pride in saying ‘I did this all by myself!’ fuck that.  I’d rather just have it DONE by someone else so i can move on with my life.  Though my clothes and my brand new bed are still in boxes, I guess i am just not in that much of a hurry to get it done. I STILL have to fix the floor and some how get it paneled before i can make a bedroom out of the attic that they pretended was ‘sleep ready’ when they sold the house.

IMG_1760Working up there in an enclosed space, i have a lot of conversations with myself… mostly along the lines of ‘you got what you wanted, now shut the fuck up’  – I knew the house would have problems…and i am certain a bigger house or  cheaper house would have had more and more expensive ones.  So i get pissed at the problem, and the cost, then i get pissed at myself for being pissed about it.  I got what i wanted and its still not enough…well it’s certainly not something i want to write about every day…”dear diary today I got sick and tired of my new life and had a good cry,”  tomorrow is another day.  I have hung a LOT of hopes on that damn porch…all my books, most of my business, nearly all my clothes and half the cats are all still in boxes.  I keep telling myself that once the porch is enclosed, once  i have the extra 190 square feet, i can finally GET STARTED.  I can clear out the living room, which i swear to got has a tiny walkway between cages on one side, boxes of books on the other and the single bed futon.  i think i have twisted my ankle permanently,  crab walking back and forth. Once the cages are gone away, i can move the boxes into the porch, wash the floor, throw down some adhesive vinyl flooring and set up the book cases….once the boxes are GONE gone, (really i won’t feel at home until my books are on shelves) the porch will have some basic furniture and cat perches….these wicker couches i picked up yesterday for cheap money… i just threw a coat of $1 a gallon marked down Cabot Stain on them.  The porch will be 12×16 with a ceiling that starts at 8 feet and goes up onto the roof a little bit, making it the largest room in the house.  I do expect to be using it A LOT, if only to open and sort boxes.   Truly one day, I may run insulation into the walls and ceiling but not before this winter. I just won’t have the money for it.

You know every September for the last few years, orders start coming in like clockwork after the dead zone of the summer time?  well this year…not so much.  orders trickle in, leaving me to think that winter will be worse than normal.  Things are so bad that i keep thinking i need to get a job outside of the house..then i run down all the jobs i have had and all the possible ones i could get hired to do, and then i stop thinking about it..why would i do that to those people?  they hire me on good faith to do whatever it is we are both excited about, and then realize that I am a very large personality taking up space in their very small office.  I need to find ways to work in the house alone, and not inflict myself on people i might actually LIKE. I started burrowing through the parts of the business that isn’t in boxes. I know once the books are shelved I will find a number of them to sell, and I started experimenting with sending the Inkredible erasers TO Amazon to let them fulfill the orders, I figure if folks can save on the shipping I may actually sell more of them.   I have such a list of projects to work on that could bring in a trickle of money, but instead I have to fuss around here, just to get shit done before the REAL weather sets in.

down to the nubbins

2014-08-17 09.49.49I actually wish I could have moved all in one go. I  have spent hundreds of hours trying to work out the logistics …with the house as it is, nearly everything would have ended up piled on the lawn, and considering how WET the weather has been every time i was up there, i’m sure life would have gotten very ugly very quickly. I’ve scheduled another smaller rental truck on Wednesday for one last push, and aside from the barest essentials and the cats, everything possible will be fair game for that trip. Once the boxes were removed from the present apartment, it became possible to break down the bookcases and push stuff around the rooms piling up the new shipment. If I can pack the desk top computer and products it will all go too.

I’ve driven nearly 1000 miles recently and its wearing thin, yesterday’s flying trip up and back with the dog, accomplished some very small housekeeping items yet still cost the same in cash. I accepted a loan of an air mattress, rearranged the house to make room for the new offload..and brought up what i thought were items that could live in the SHED….What i discovered is that the shed is a teardown…the new lawnmower still in its cardboard box was now just a wet sodden pile of compost, and i suspect all the other items i have stored in there…like my bicycles are starting to rust. I’d rather store them under tarps on the porch until t2014-08-17 09.37.57he basement gets waterproofed…knock wood.

As many times as I have been to Maine this summer, I have actually explored it very little. So far I have marked out a gas station, a bank, and a chinese take out  place…and summer is basically over…I KNOW this, cause i spent three hours coming home on the Maine Turnpike with fleeing tourists! note to self, don’t go anywhere on Friday or Sunday eves in summer.

The only water spot I have visited is my basement…the poor dehumidifier is sitting there abandoned like Wall-E chugging along doing its job, but the amount of moisture down there is over its head. Once I am there, I will be able to empty it more often. When I’m there I will also deal with the attic, I didn’t even go look at it this time…I expect to spend a lot of evenings alone up there pulling nails out of beams, no longer sleeping on the floor will be a great motivator. There have been a number of suggestions that i sleep on the boxes of books…which sounds logical, but the air mattress sounds a lot more comfortable.

2014-08-17 14.03.44

As yet the only food I have eaten in my new house was a poptart…the fridge still only holds water bottles and the only food I have brought up is in cans..As yet there’s no way to HEAT anything yet.  I am determined to leave my large microwave and pick up the small dorm room sized ones on sale right now.  And maybe possibly perhaps treat myself to that Instant Pot thing I saw on Youtube.   The reviews are terrific for the device, but mostly because  it will allow me to move a number of things in my cupboard into storage instead of taking up precious counter real estate.   I was tickled to death this weekend to find that an old wine rack I had been using for rolled maps could be rearranged to fit into a very odd cubby hole.  I knew there was a reason to hang onto that bits of rack.

With the new house I will finally be able to implement a LOT of the weird crap I acquired over time and has survived the many clutter purges.  The new rule is that if it doesn’t fit, it can’t stay.  Most especially now when the storage spaces arent usable.  I wish I could do the same with the cats, but alas…they are family, I am committed to making the remainder of their lives comfortable, even if mine is not.  It definitely came to a head in this apartment..without the use of the big brick porch, my apartment wasn’t big enough for all of us…and until the new house has a new porch, its not big enough for us either.  Today, the three cats who prefer outdoors to indoors will make the trip to the wild life sanctuary, where they will have that choice.  I have been trying to move them along for a ouple of years now.  The rest of the troupe all prefer indoors to outdoors, though I am sure the cages aren’t what they envisioned.

I’m toying with the idea of changing the name of the blog to STILL LIFE WITH CATS, though I try NOT to think of myself as a cat lady. I dont’ have one image or printed things in the house with cats on it.  Cats aren’t even my favorite animal, but as time goes along I found i have curtailed my life to their schedule.  If it’s 90 degrees out and everyone’s asleep, I take their queue and join them, naps are good.



filling voids

2014-08-15 11.29.11My new hovel in all its glory. it was just easier to pay the guys who removed the rugs to keep on going…paneling, fiberboard and so forth…there are some old cardboard BALL Jar boxes still left behind the walls up there..also a shit ton of nails and tacks lurking for the unsuspected. I can actually say I have bled for this place already, must remember to wear boots up there. I’m actually less stressed out about the way it looks now than you would expect. i know given enough time and sugar, i can pick out all the debris and fill up the voids with insulation. THAT’s when i have to call in someone with better power tools to install some beadboard everywhere. Good thing I don’t actually HAVE any furniture for those rooms. Until then I will be sleeping on the flood someplace downstairs. I have a borrowed air mattress coming. i DO have my nice ikea platform bed but it’s in a box leaning up in a corner.
2014-08-15 11.35.13 Under the carpet of the living room was old linoleum..which also doesn’t bother me…one day i will get bored and scrub it within an inch of its life, but for now I can ignore it completely. I go around barefoot 90% of the time, it will be nice to have a floor i don’t have to worry about. Behind the melon paint, is some sort of paneling and behind that is well….the same sort of nothing we found upstairs…i suspect I will be buying spray foam insulation by the case load for this place. Though I haven’t ruled out skinning it like the second floor..just not today. Another room I don’t have MUCH furniture for…the Ikea Billy Bookcases I purchased are standing up in a corner. I am just happy they are there when the time comes to assemble them and unpack my books…. which will probably be months from now late at  night with a pitcher of daiquris in hand. I can pretend I will replace them with something more traditional booksellery barrister cases..but i know i won’t..these will fit in the room nearly to the ceiling, wasting very little space.

2014-08-15 11.34.42And that’s what it is all about in this So far I have found a couple of walled up hidey holes, one under the stairs which will fit my box fans and space heaters nicely…and one corner upstairs behind the chimney where a knee wall drawer unit should fit..a little pricey but real estate can’t be wasted. in fact i need to call the chimney folks about removing it entirely. I wonder how much money i have left? i haven’t looked at the bank account in a week…i’m afraid to, there’s very little money is coming in and if i know exactly what’s there, i will be afraid to spend what i MUST spend,’s not like i am wasting much…the most frivolous thing i have bought is take out pizza.  i can’t bear to cook in what’s left of my’s not the cooking, it’s the idea of cleaning anything…it’s such a wreck, once everything is GONE i will clean it as well as i can.

Not counting the DVDs, a lot of the crap in boxes is what’s left of my ‘workshop’ a lot of book repair materials, tools, general fix it, sewing, furniture repair, electronics, you name it..if it was a thing used to fix other things, it is in one of the boxes…none of which i can bear to open until the basement is suitable for occupancy. I parked a two hundred and sixty dollar dehumifier down there yesterday…i have never been down there when it WASN’T wet..note to self, look into mushroom culture…As much as I have been banging on for owning way too much crap…it doesn’t look like all that much when spread out amongst the rooms and will look even less cluttered with the attic and the basement come online.

2014-08-15 09.49.19I am renting a smaller truck for Wednesday, to drag the last of the bulk items up north… i need to break down all the bookcases…that wood will end up as shelving in the basement…I will also have a few things that are in reserve for the not yet existent porch…the table in the living room, the cedar chest in the office, a coffee table etc… but right now I am playing a game of 3D the max amount of objects into the smallest amount of space. The only room that’s looking more like the final result is the kitchen and that’s only cause i had the stove removed, and on the 3rd the new fridge will arrive. The table seems a little big for the space, but I will use it more than the kitchen counter…note to self, measure the kitchen counter for a second hand replacement.

Size matters

2014-07-12 16_41_35-82 Devon Street, Portland ME For Sale - TruliaI thought I had a good grasp on the whole packing thing…but as the days count down, I have absolutely embraced the fact that by the end i will go completely mental.

Despite having gotten rid of any furniture of any size I still seem to have a lot of it..and now almost all my stuff is piled around the place in boxes. I have just about given up keeping it clean, it’s heart breaking but what i have are little pathways between  piles of boxes. If someone vomits, i count myself lucky if i find it by stepping in it. There’s still more yet to pack, but if i packed it, there’s no place for the boxes to live.

I swear i REALLY didn’t think I owned all that much stuff anymore, but i guess having it all neatly out of sight out of mind, in cupboards and closets isn’t the same thing. Hauling every stitch of clothing out of my ONE closet, yields 7 boxes, that doesn’t seem like a fair exchange to me. I still haven’t broken down the food pantry, 1 because some of the foodstuffs are NOT making the trip…ferinstance those unopened boxes of pop tarts are getting donated…and 2, if i boxed them, the boxes would sit in the middle of the kitchen floor, canned goods are things could be packed for a very long time…at least until the end of September when they finish waterproofing the basement. So they would continue to sit on the kitchen floor in the new house as well.

2014-07-15 11_51_54-82 Devon Street, Portland ME - Trulia Even the stuff that IS making the trip, is becoming problematic. I asked the lady IN the house to measure the bedroom slash office window where she has HER work table. Lucky for me my OLD steel desk may just fit there, whereas the very nice desk slash table someone gave me for the new place won’t fit anywhere so I am passing it along to someone else before I go. Unlike HERE where I have lots of room to hide my mistakes, barn, garage, basement, porch….there, if it doesn’t fit, it will basically have to sit in the yard until I can move it. I am trying very hard NOT to fill up the new porch with all my castoffs that i just can’t let go of. I’m going to have to make some new rules about that.

The very awesome kitchen table I bought at reStore is 48″x24″ smallish for a kitchen table or any table for that matter, it seriously reminds of a lot of library tables,  it may not actually FIT in the new kitchen comfortably.  I have been using it constantly for packing and shipping and sorting,  all banged up and scratched it is my new favorite thing. So screw the kitchen, the table is coming, black and blue hips are a small price to pay.

The plumber is coming on the 11th to remove the baseboard from under the window/soon to be a door. Once that door goes in, it will be way easier to trundle in all the boxes of books staight into the living room piling them against the wall, creating a cat stair case to the hole in the ceiling to the bedroom. When all is said and done, will will put a hole in the floor for winter, leading them down to the nice warm basement area. Hopefully by giving them their own spaces, they will stay out of mine.  Which reminds me I have to make sure i bring all the tools I need to build the internal screen doors, the door frames are undersized, so nothing off the rack will fit, so i will build my own.

I had to turn down a very kind offer to borrow a truck…the truck is an f350 for hauling equipment… I could have probably loaded it fine off my back porch here, but there is no such dock at the new house…pulling boxes and materials off a truck bed chest high would have gotten old very quickly.   I broke down and rented a 16′ Pensky truck for the 14th…i’m a little shocked that seems cheaper than I had expected it to be, but in the end I am sure it will cost more than the quote. But since it is a walkout cube truck, it will be worth it.  I can load nearly everything of size and weight at point A and unload it at point B, and if i have the energy I can make two trips, but I doubt that will happen.   I can’t really move the computer, the products or the cats until the new porch is completely enclosed and i doubt that will happen until the week after.

Having to gauge  how many trips to take is probably the backwards manner of moving, most people do it in one big push with a couple of little ones, but until that magic porch goes in, pushing just creates a problem…and I can’t wait until the last minute, either. I need more ROOM in the ROOM to do more packing.  I am dreading packing the books from the glass cabinet… the most dangerous point in a books life is when it is in a cardboard box…minding its business up on a shelf it is safe.  Getting dragged around in a non descript box, it is vulnerable.  I even wish I had a cupboard to put them in for now. perhaps i will put them in the kitchen cupboards and leave the pots and pans in their boxes.   I swear some days I just feel I am moving boxes from one side of the room to the other without getting anywhere substantively. Like I said…i will only get worse from here on end….

spreading the wealth

2014-07-31 19.23.14 I really can’t be trusted with money….what is it they say about first recognizing you have a problem?…’s errand was to go north and give the Screen Porch Guy a deposit on the job…I can’t call him the Back Door Guy with a straight face now can I? With that he can order the door which will have to be cut to 5’8” …my house is already like a cut down version of a real one, everything has to be slightly smaller than the average… I’m still on a diet, though not much of one, I have just stopped eating anything i am fond of. Trying to double up on errands I brought my reading chair…really my only piece of upholstered furniture up to a shop in South Portland, it will be ready in 4 weeks, just about the time the back door will be installed so it can actually FIT into the house. Good thing it’s not a very big chair, I can’t afford a very big door.

Along the way I drifted through the local Habitat for Humanities’ ReStore, with the very best of intentions..I was browsing for a light for the back porch, which I got for $12, and a cheap chair I can use temporarily…which I found..a small blond glider and ottoman $25 which is in excellent shape and can end up on the new porch. I also found the abused Morris Chair (pictured) $20, they told me that they had JUST thrown out its mate which was in better shape… The Morris Chair once stripped and repaired, will easily fold down and fit up the stairs into my second floor – there isn’t much furniture that will do that.  Replacing the webbing and tying the springs and recovering the horse hair cushions is basic winter project work…not like I NEED ANOTHER project, but I just couldn’t leave the little chair there to get destroyed. I also found a 1950s Raleigh Robin Hood which I immediately put on Craigslist when I got home..whih reminded me to sell the mint Raleigh Robin Hood I still have stored in the garage. But I may sell that in’s worth about $400..and wont stay MINT if I keep dragging it around.

2014-07-31 19.29.40 I didn’t REALLY need another trunk..and this one wasn’t cheap, but I haven’t seen a tiny one in many years…it doesn’t need much repair to make it a good place to store my bed linens in my itty bitty bedroom. My regular size trunks won’t make it upstairs, and neither will my ersatz grandmother’s cedar chest. My Porch is gonna end up looking like a second hand store if I dont start giving away things that don’t find a place inside the house.

I picked up the trunk and a few books at one of the antique shops I drifted through, I always cruise the books, I am trying very very hard to only buy books for resale these days.  But I am on the fence about the signed Joyce Chen Cookbook….  I used to have one and sold it, so now I have another…which I will eventually sell, I’m sure.  I will cull the cookbooks again when I build the shelf for them.

I rarely buy things that are breakable like the vase….especially since I don’t NEED nicknacks of any sort. But this glaze attracted me in the worst way… I thought it was underpriced at $25, the finish has a lot of metalic and verdigris I could look into it all day..which will be convenient, I will have to park it in a glass case...still to be ordered from IKEA,  so that my roommates don’t pit it against gravity to see how it fares.

2014-07-31 16.04.03 I would have been wiser to NOT go into any stores at all, I am buying gifts for a house I still don’t own yet. And it’s not like I can’t go shopping later when i actually NEED something to fill a need or a void. I think in the back of my mind, it’s an anxiety thing. I really need to find something else to do with my stress: stress eating, stress shopping.. I need a replacement activity, that gives me the endorphin rush. Used to be I could ride my bike or row my boat, moving to Maine can’t come soon enough so I can get back to that.

lizard brain


A year ago i challenged the universe…please take my advice…never ever challenge the universe, it always takes you seriously.   A year ago I got fed up with being miserable and tolerating the casual abuse flicked at me by my brother, like a 9 year old with food on a fork…  I threw up my hands and said “that’s it! I can be poor anywhere, I don’t have to be poor here.”  And today those chickens are coming home to roost..I may have just mixed a metaphor there, no I am not getting chickens…well probably not…forget the chickens – now that we are coming down to the wire, the actual costs are piling up…title insurance, the house insurance,  water and sewer, and today I arranged all the utility transfers…so for at least 3 weeks of August I will have two residences, with 2 electrics, 2 gas and 2 internets…like I don’t have a hard enough time paying my bills?

And the icing on that cake is that aside from still having to buy frivolous things like a bed, a dining table and perhaps a place to sit…the Back Door will cost about $2000…that’s not a misprint, that’s a two with three zeroes…the baseboard removal alone is like 5 bills and the specially sized door for my hobbity house has to be ordered – cha ching. Now that’s the icing…the cake topper…are you sitting down?  the comfort and my company, the most used room in the house, the space that will make this glorified dorm room of a house work for me and my fuzzy roommates? that’s like 12 grand….that’s a TWELVE with a grand after it.  And I said to the man…….”when can you start?”  – I swear to Bilbo, I am living out a subplot of Mr Blandings Builds His Dream House…what seems like a reasonable proposition with a reasonable price tag is dangled in front of your lizard brain like a damsel fly in distress and the tongue darts out and grabs it and only once it is inside your stupid gullet do you realize it’s a fully loaded Boeing.

The only saving grace is that IT IS the room that makes the rest of the house work for me.  I will have an enclosed space that makes the cats happy, yet keeps my mess out of the living areas…and I won’t have to heat it come winter.  Between this magically endowed porch and the waterproofed basement I will have doubled the usable space of the house for about $18k.  Yes, I realize I could have found a house for that price that was even bigger.. I can swing a live cat and hit several of them…but they would be fixer uppers and most likely out in the boonies.  Besides it was time,  I was done..I had no looking left in me. I can bitch, but it is a perfectly suitable house…’I’m’ the one with the baggage that doesn’t fit inside.

I took a cruise through Lowes to check the prices on the paint for the floors, and the epoxy for the kitchen – then there will be screen doors for the interior…or at least lumber so I can build them…as well as lumber for shelving..and primer and so forth.  It’s your typical, new homeowner crap…i guess no matter what house you buy and in what condition, it will always be a big hungry baby, sucking up all excess capital.    And indeed, i will certainly be poor somewhere else – but the somewhere else is 180 degrees away from where I am now……and technically no worse off than i was before, just a half a step off the bag.     I checked, she’s not leaving the patio set….but Lowes has them for about $100 … shouldn’t they be having an end of summer sale?


fruit on the bottom

241c4f40-9463-4b1d-911a-88c1b7f31875_400 Bought the 1st appliance for the house yesterday…well honestly it will be only ‘appliance’ at this time… the stove isn’t getting replaced with another stove, and the washer and dryer in the basement will be run until they die, because you have to take out two cellar steps to get anything larger than a laundry basket down there.   Aside from the Fridge, the other machine purchases will be the big ass dehumidifier. I was a little proud of myself for getting my MUST purchase list down to one big-ticket item…. knock wood. I’m trying to remember but I think this is my FIRST new-new fridge, I think all my previous fridges have been used-new fridges.  What I experienced when I bought the truck, is that dropping large amounts on a single  item is a bit shocking …your brain…well at least my brain..or HALF my brain, drags its feet in the dirt all the way to the store trying every which way TO FIGURE  OUT HOW TO NOT DO IT, “surely you can get away with a SMALLER icebox?” “what’s wrong with the one that’s already there?”, “why don’t you just eat less food? you cow!”  “Aren’t you just being wastefully consumeristic?” consumeristic..that’s a word right?   In the end it gave up.

e2d4a251-27f1-40f7-998b-a715fa70b835_400I was already thinking about a new fridge since before I decided to move…. and I have decided as with many things, we Americans have it backwards.   The empty fridge is essentially what is found in most small households, when I say that read – ‘ALL apartments’ and most poor folks homes.  The inadequately small freezer is at eye level, which prompts us to consume the frozen pizza and the ice cream first,  once you slide in a few bags of frozen vegetables and blueberry bagels, you are  have very little room for cook ahead preparations Any hastily wrapped leftovers will keep falling out when you open the door, hitting your foot one too many times, causing you to throw them in the trash, since you didn’t label the brown blob in the first place and can’t decide if it’s baked beans or burnt meat.   And then there is the ‘dead zone’ in the lower back where all the leftover containers slip away to die out of sight, out of mind, leaking their juices into the vegetable drawers below.  Speaking of vegggies, just to GET at them you have to open the door all the way, and do a squat thrust, to open the drawers…which are never quite big enough for anything more than a bag of potatoes and onions anyway.  The whole design leaves the soda bottles, semi prepared foods and  condiments at hand level.

I don’t know about you, but if I had back all the money I have lost on food that went all blue, merely because it was hidden behind a wilting head of Romaine lettuce, I probably could have bought a bigger house….just saying.

That sort of refrigerator really only works in an urban environment where you can shop for fresh foods on a frequent basis, it’s not really set up for infrequent use or long-term storage.  The closer you are to fresh foods, the smaller your fridge can be. Now as much as I am looking forward to visiting Rosemont Market and Trader Joes,  I’m only one person if I buy fresh food once a week it’s probably a holiday.  I’m more of a cook when I feel like it and put away the extra for when I don’t feel like it.   But I DO LIKE TO COOK, and got very, very good at it, so I want a big ass freezer.  My other option was to buy a chest freezer – which still leaves me with the badly designed fridge with the dead zone, but gives me a hidey hole in the basement for all my banana breads and decades of premade meals.  For one person, who doesn’t get sides of dead animals delivered in little white paper packages, the chest freezer isn’t a truly frugal option.


All of this led me back to the freezer on the bottom resolution.  The Cheapest of the Freezer on Bottoms was $800 and was still pretty damn small. The freezer is a door, not a drawer, and in fact it was exactly like the small apartment size ones….cept assembled upside down.  The Second Cheapest was from Whirlpool on sale for $1100..yes I know I can buy a car for that…a shitty car, but a car… for that I got a decent sized cooler section about the same space I would get in an apartment size fridge…and it brings the veggie bin up to hand/eye level and gave me what I think can be considered a chest freezer for ONE person.

I really hadn’t planned on buying stuff for the house until I actually HAD the damn house, but the damn fridges were on sale this month at Home Depot, so I had to decide pretty damn quick which one I wanted and buy it now to get the sale price, and forgo delivery until September when I KNOW I will be home.  By then the kitchen floor will be epoxied, the stove will be removed and  I can stick the little bitty fridge that is there on the back porch..hopefully I will have one by then…until I can find a brawny person to help me remove the two steps and finagle it into the basement… yeah I know I don’t NEED IT,  need it. but my’s MAINE, you don’t think I’m going to give away a perfectly suitable lobster and beer fridge do you?


boxes Trying to come up with the logistics for moving all my crap. I am loathe to rent a box truck, not because of the expense i’m sure it would be cheaper than many trips with my truck, it’s not even the driving, the largest truck i’ve driven has been a 28ft Pensky through Boston no less….it’s really just the size differential- my new street is a dead end and not one with a large cul de sack, it’s the sort where you have to pull into someone’s driveway to turn around. And to make it interesting there are two large hemlocks drapped over either side of the driveway, getting something LARGER than my own beast into it first time sounds like challenging fate…..I can just envision pulling down a power cable accidentally. Then there is the unloading alone…if i bring up a single load in the pickup, since I loaded it myself, I know i can unload it myself and then get back on the road with an empty truck, a box truck is really a two person operation.

bluedishes1 Yes I have friends who have offered to help and I may press gang them into service to move the cats but simply getting more than one person available at the same time as another one, to drive two states away,  is flat out impossible. A nice compromise would be to rent a trailer, but we come back to threading the needle of the driveway with it.

Right now my intention is to start moving something every time I go up and see what that does for me….I am thinking not very much right now… problem with a sideless pickup truck is you can’t pile things up very high. Great if you have furniture, not so great if everything is boxable.

I started boxing the kitchen last night. It is kinda surprising to pull everything out from their hiding place in the cabinets. I guess i have been picking up blue pieces for 35 years now and I didn’t realize i had so much… and I refuse to abandon a going collection just when it’s getting good, I’ve given up way too much as it is. I almost thought I had scrounged too much bubble wrap but no, no you can never have TOO much bubble wrap. What takes up one shelf in a cupboard, out of sight out of mind, took up four boxes and a couple of trash bags of bubbles. SOMEONE in Portland is going to be very happy with my empty packing boxes when i unload. The metal bakeware on the other hand won’t take much bubble wrap, most of it was all banged up when I bought it to begin with. I will leave the few plates i use everyday for last packed/first unpacked, the nice breakable porcelain can stay boxed until I have actually put everything away and bought a dinner table.

Just piling the boxes up in the house is also a pain in the ass, any cardboard within 12″ of the floor is indistinguishable from a scratching post.  And until the floors get painted in the new house, I won’t be able to pile them up there either.  That doesn’t leave much to transport, at least until the back porch gets built.  I guess i will start with what can go in the goofy little garden shed. – the wooden storm windows and shutters i have been hoarding for a glass greenhouse that may never get built.  Bicycles, and any gardening equipment that i haven’t given away as yet…. i wonder if i can get some of it back?  I didn’t realize i was buying a garden with a house attached to it.

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