A Tumultuous Downsizing Project

By late October our life had taken a nose-dive toward the uninhabitable center of the earth. We decided to put our house on the market for only the month of October to let fate determine whether we’d finally downsize to our little cottage. Fate decided. We downsized.

For three weeks in November we were betwixt and between two houses; not fully settled into one, not fully moved out of the other. Some people find the whole process invigorating (me) while others find it quite miserable (my husband).

It’s difficult to describe the amount of purging required to fit ourselves into 975 square feet of space. To make matters worse, those 975 square feet had already been furnished for the vacation rental market so there were two houses to clear out instead of just one. We dealt with the furniture first.

My sister was fortunately in the position to take several entire rooms – accessories, art and furniture. Julie, our friend and dearest of all realtors, took another significant portion of furniture and a variety of other things for the very extraordinary vacation rental properties she’s renovating. The two of them saved the day. We kept four rooms of furniture and sent the rest to consignment stores all across town. Then for the next two weeks we dealt with stuff.

For almost everyone I know (except maybe our friends the Markham’s), we accumulate stuff we don’t need. We had buckets of old photos, candles of every color and size, four hammers, three ladders, too many bottles of glue. I had several dozen pairs of shoes, purses I didn’t use, and a matching robe for every pair of pajamas.

Our gym upstairs housed three different types of stationary bikes, a treadmill and a full set of free weights. There were towels in every bathroom, multiple sets of linens for every bedroom, 25-year old Christmas ornaments, a music box my parents gave me 50 years ago, and every medal, racing bib and trophy from the past 11 years of road racing.

There was no chance I would throw everything down to the curb for it to end up in a landfill, so I sorted everything and tried to find the appropriate home for all of it. More than likely I’ve touched everything I own a half-dozen times each.

Eventually the purge ended, and we left our house with barely a whispered goodbye. We were exhausted.

The first week that we lived in the cottage our neighbor across the street walked out of his house and had a massive heart attack right there in the middle of the road. Another neighbor and I reached him about the same time while my husband dialed 911. The neighbor and I performed CPR until the paramedics arrived, and then they worked on him for some time before he was pronounced dead at the scene. It was upsetting for the neighborhood as a whole. I had trouble sleeping for several weeks.

Sunday before last was a beautiful warm day. I spent the afternoon working in the yard and decorating the cottage for Christmas. The man’s widow was out walking their two dogs so I worked my way across the street to offer condolences. The dogs were on especially long leashes and reached me first. Still wearing my gardening gloves, I reached out to let them smell my hands and instinctively bent over to say hello. One of the dogs jumped up and bit right through my nose. A trip to the E.R., a visit to a plastic surgeon, and eleven stitches later I was glad to still have something that resembled a nose on my face. Three days later my son arrived from Texas with his new wife and their two dogs.

We had planned their trip months before we sold the house that had extra bedrooms and plenty of bathrooms, so we booked them into an Airbnb down the street and kept their two dogs at the cottage – along with our three. It was a full house: five dogs, four people, and also love and fun all around. Their trip ended with a freak snow storm that hit Western North Carolina over the weekend leaving us with oodles of snow and only a generator for power.

Ours has been a tumultuous transition, but we do enjoy life at our little cottage – and for the first time since October, there’s nothing to pack, move or get rid of, nothing on our schedule, and enough time in every day for a run. Life is good.

Season finale

Life can perk along for months or years without so much as a moment falling out of sequence when suddenly everything shoots sky high leaving us, at least momentarily, with a cliff-hanger. . . this page of life hesitating ever so slightly before it folds down quietly against the previous chapters of life.


imageIt’s two gentlemen that have made the offer to purchase our lovely, old home in Greensboro, North Carolina. Quite nice folks as we understand, and they seem to have become equally enchanted with this old house. In these modern times of real estate, however, it is the due diligence period that will suck the oxygen right out of a deal.

For eleven days our Buyers have poked and prodded every square inch of our lovely, old home to ensure they are as attracted to everything within the house as they were to its outward appearances. Due diligence ends this Thursday – just four more days.


imageThe roof of our lovely, old home angles upward at each of its peaks, a common feature of the Tudor Revival, but misunderstood by the inspector as a flaw.

Then there was the leaning chimney and the bow in the garage wall. . . although not one mention of all the ivy I have generously cleared from the garden.


Meanwhile, my husband and I have found the perfect forever home midway between Maggie Valley and Waynesville, North Carolina. It is conveniently situated to all the things we enjoy doing about town, a very short drive (or bicycle ride) to my favorite track at the Rec Center, and the house is modestly grand, romantic and elegant all at once. We did not hesitate to submit our offer, except the one and only person that could accept our offer is out of the country. . . for four more days.

We hope this beautiful French Provincial style home will become our forever home.
Though it seems it is the Ivy that will be with me forever.

Even before the season finale, producers and writers are concocting next season’s script. We don’t know how things will play out. There will probably be a few new characters. Old contracts will be renewed while others are dropped altogether, and you never know when the season premiere will leave you shocked and breathless.

We’ve decided to wait out due diligence in residence – to wait for the page to quietly fall against the previous chapters of life. And by this time next week, the season premiere will have already begun – shocked and breathless, or otherwise.