Sunday, June 30, 2013

Altoona, IA - New Computer

Errands today: I’ve got the list drawn up, lots of piddly errands but, as you all know, errands occur in everyone’s life.

I did some grocery shopping and learned the bottle/can recycling game. Usually, Gary does this while I cruise the produce section of the store. But today it was my game. I learned that there are separate recycling containers for cans and for plastic bottles. You can’t put cans in the bottle recycler. Who knew? Well, lots of people have this specialized knowledge - it just has not passed my ken. I learned that the bottles needed to be put in with the top first, not the bottom. They are rejected. Imagine having your bottles rejected by the recycling machine. I was so embarassed. Lots of valuable lessons that will hold me in good stead down the line.

I also took the rest of my business suits and clothes to Dress for Success a non-profit franchise for which a co-worker from Wells Fargo started the Des Moines branch. They not only take in business clothing donations for those without these to use for interviews and their first week on the job, they also help these people with the interview and with job skills. A great need and Jody’s doing a great job with it.

On the way home I dropped off some old records (you know those black disks that we all used to play for music) at a local record shop. I had kept one of the first Beatles albums and several Bob Dylan albums, some Janis Joplin, some Led Zep becuase I was sure that they would be come extremely valuable in the future and I could sell them for a fortune. WRONG. I got $20 for the lot.

Then I headed on over to Best Buy to check prices for a new computer. Gary has thought I should have one for a long time but, being as thrifty as I am, I’ve held off. But, I want Gary with me when I buy it so I finish my errands and head on back to the house, pick Gary up and we head on out to the Apple store to check their prices. 5 blue-shirted sales people surrounded us asking how they could help us. Obviously, we look more like buyers than all the teens crowding around the I Phones, I Pads and I Pods. Guess what? they matched the Best Buy price for us. And, we walked out with a new computer.

Of course, that was easy. The hard part is migrating everything I have on my current computer onto the new one. I thought holding it above the new one and shaking it to get everything out might work. But, the Apple 'Genius' told us at we could pay $99 and they would do it for us. Sounded good and we paid. Them when I turned the new computer on I got this? 'Want to try the migration assistant?' Sure, why not? And, I turned it over to Gary who did everything. He went online to He used the Migration Assistant but one never knows so he took a while to check it all over and, with a few exceptions, everything was there. Later he got these last two pieces to work right. Not only is he the sexiest guy I know, but he also can do just about everything on a computer. Saved us $99.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fort Dodge, IA - Saying Good-bye to Lug

Dad%252527sInternmentRemembrance-10-2013-06-29-20-44.jpgAs you may have noticed, we had a visitation for Lug but no burial yet. We’ve been waiting or a good time when everyone might be available and the weather favorable. Today is the day. He and his wife, Darlene, bought a lot with 6 plots in it long ago in the Colfax cemetery in Vincent, Iowa. Beautiful setting, on a small knoll, surrounded by corn fields, and encircled by trees.

A very peaceful setting - but, oh the wind. We have never been there when we have not been assailed by wind. And, today promised to be no different.

In fact, on and off showers are predicted. As Gary and I were driving towards the cemetery in the sun we could see the rain clouds moving in from the northwest and across the fields we could see the tell-tale signs of rain coming down from some of them. Then they passed and the sun was out again. But, the rain clouds were still around and soon we were in a full blown rainstorm. Gary donned his raincoat and went to speak with one of the cemetery trustees who had dug the hole yesterday and was waiting off to the side for our ceremony to end so he could refill the hole. The rest of the family trickled in and, during a break in the rain, we all decided to hold the ceremony.

Dad%252527sInternmentRemembrance-12-2013-06-29-20-44.jpgCathy read the 23rd Psalm, Dawn read some letters that Lug had written and compiled for each of the 3 kids. Gary had a short biography of Lug and Darlene that he had written until midnight yesterday. Did I mention that it was raining for some of this? Gary’s recitation was interrupted by more rain and we we all decided to put Lug’s cremains into the hole, thank Brad, the trustee and adjourn to a local restaurant for lunch and the rest of Gary’s story.

Dad%252527sInternmentRemembrance-2-2013-06-29-20-44.jpgBoth the visitation and the burial were pretty informal but that was what Lug wanted. He had specifically told his 3 kids that he did not want a church service, nor ministers, nor more than the family. And, that is what he got. We think he would have enjoyed it all. He also would have had a great time at dinner afterwards, holding forth and telling all his stories with his family around him. Here are Dawn, his youngest daughter and her son, Adam, an Eagle Scout who just graduated from high school and will attend Iowa in the fall.

JackGetsaRecliner-1-2013-06-29-20-44.jpgAnd here are Tom and his daughter, April, who flew in from Austin for the weekend.

VisitingShirley%252526Jerry-3-2013-06-29-20-44.jpgAfterwards, we went with Jack to his house to visit with him and pick up his rug steam cleaner for our carpeting in the RV. We also made some arrangements for Jack to come down here for get the things we’ve held aside for him from our house. Here’s Jack trying out his new chair. I must have caught him between smiles.

Then, over to visit with Shirley and Jerry who have bought a new RV. They recently traded in their 5th wheel and truck for a new Winnebago Tour. And, what a beautiful machine. We know they’ll enjoy it and have many adventures in it.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Altoona, IA - Cue the Fat Lady

The fat lady has her spear in hand, her golden hair braided, her Viking hat on and she’s striding onto the stage. She’s not there yet but she’s warmed up and waiting her big moment.

Yep, Nancy and Gary have finished emptying their home, the storage bay is filled to the brim, Lloyd and Mary have carried off their pieces and the less than dynamic duo has retreated to their new ‘home’ for a much deserved rest.

Today, we made our last trip over to our old home. We knew we had one trip left and decided to make it today rather than Sunday or Monday since we wanted to get it over with. Why procrastinate when you can do it today? We had loaded up the back of our Jeep with household items for the Free Store and dropped these off in downtown Des Moines on our way to our home. We had 4 laundry baskets filled along with lots of miscellaneous sheets, towels, silverware, pots and pans and disscloths and towels, etc for them.

DeliveringOurFreeStoreDonations-5-2013-06-28-19-53.jpgThey perform quite a service in Des Moines and it’s all with volunteers. They provide household items from dishes to dressers to beds to towels for abused women and their families. Case workers refer these people to the Free Store and escort them through. Here are a few pictures of their warehouse just waiting for a family to come to choose their new possessions.

Then, on to the house for the final trip to the storage area, a load of items for my brother Jack, whom we will see tomorrow, a final cleaning of the garage and a final sweep of the house to ensure that we have not forgotten anything. I had vacuumed all 3 floors earlier and had left the definite tell-tale pattern of the vacuum cleaner in each room for the new owner.

Am I sad to leave it? Of course. I loved looking out the windows and seeing the heron poised for a strike across the pond. I loved seeing the geese families swimming in formation past our home and I loved seeing the sun streaming through the windows brightening every crevice. It didn’t take much imagination to feel as if we were living in a park with the green grass, the mature trees and the pond. But it is time to move on. We have other things we want to do and we’ll get our park setting by actually staying in our National Parks along the way.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Altoona, IA - 3rd Move: Mary gets the Rest

As I mentioned in the 6/11 blog, Lloyd takes the ‘high-end’ furniture and Mary gets the rest. Today it was Mary’s turn. We began the day when I dropped Gary off at the storage facility to organize the storage area a bit better than the movers had left it. Tom, our brother-in-law drove over, met us there, Gary keyed in the gate code and they walked in to the storage area, leaving Tom’s car out side so he could leave when he was done.

I then drove to our house to meet Mary who rolled in with her truck about 9:00 with Bradley, her assistant and they began to load all our ‘valuable’ things. She stood in the truck while Bradley and I fed her things. She then placed them in the truck, tied them down and made sure they were secure and could withstand a drive through town. Loading was not so much fun but seeing the garage getting empty was. Do I think that we will get much for the things that Mary took? Nope, but getting any money from her for what we had is much better than having my own garage sale. But, that’s not saying much: I think that cleaning the lint catcher in the dryer is more fun than a garage sale.

Here’s our garage with the ‘loot’ for Mary in the center. The two covered piles are not for her: one is a bunch of office things like folders and plastic organizers and pens and pencils and notebooks that we have put aside to give to Andy, Tom and Cathy’s son, who is a local teacher. We thought his school might be able to use all these. But there’s a bench grinder, a patio set, some dining chairs, some yard tools - what a great haul. Ha, ha. The guy in back is Roger who works with Lloyd.
She filled the truck once and drove off, saying she’d be back in about 1 1/2 hours.

Back at the storage area, Gary and Tom had finished moving the heavier pieces that needed 2 and Tom walked to the entrance where his car was - on the other side of the 9’ tall chain link fence. Next to the key pad. Oops. No keypad on the inside of the gate since it automatically opened when a car approached it from the inside. Hmmm. Well, two smart guys figured this out: Tom had to climb over the fence to his car.

Meanwhile, while Mary was gone, I jumped into the car, hit a convenience store to buy a sandwich and a soda, drove out to the storage area and had lunch with Gary. Sitting on pallets in an air-conditioned storage area surrounded by cement, under the fluorescent lights, what a romantic dinner setting. What a guy!!

I took off and drove back but Mary was a bit longer than she had said so I got out my trusty I Pad to read. Well, reading sounds fun but remember, there is no furniture in the house, no chairs, no sofas, no love seats. Just a step with carpeting on it. And there I sat, on the top step with my I Pad in hand. Comfy? In a pigs ear, I am. I was so comfy that I was happy to hear Mary drive up for her second load. Again she stood in the truck while Bradley and I fed her stuff to pack. She then left, the garage was mostly empty, I swept and then headed off to the storage area to help Gary and eventually to head home.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Altoona, IA - 2nd Move: Off to Lloyd's

Last night we had some severe weather. Gary and I were laying in bed asleep about 2:00 am when we heard light pattering on our RV roof. This quickly turned into a down pour which lasted for about 2 hours. At one time, the rain drops were hitting so hard that we both ran to the front window to see if it was hail. Whew, it was not. That’s one thing we worry about is being out in the open with both a car and our RV. But we dodged the bullet this time: all we heard were massive rain drops. We got back into bed and then we heard what we knew it was hail. No mistaking that hard rap of hail on fiberglass. Sure did keep us awake. Nothing like rain and hail on fibreglass about 5’ from ones head to keep one awake. But, no damage to anything except our sleep. And, we’re so tired that losing a bit of sleep is the difference between exhausted and drained, not much difference.

MovingFurnituretoLloyd%252527s-6-2013-06-25-21-04.jpgNow that we have removed all of the furniture that we are keeping and storing in our storage unit, it’s time for Lloyd to take the rest. We wanted to get ours out first so there would be no mistakes. We hired the same movers who took our furniture to storage to take the rest to Lloyd and they arrived at 9:00. We showed them what they were to take and they began to load it all up. Getting the furniture out of the 2 upper floors was a piece of cake, just out through the garage and into the truck.

Getting the furniture out of the lower level, where the majority of it was, was another story. The best way to get anything heavy out of the lower level is to take it out the patio door, around the next town home unit, up the hill and into the truck, all of the trip in the grass. Remember that rainstorm last night? Now, ask how wet the grass was and how muddy it was where there was no grass. Then, shut your eyes and imagine the movers carrying the first piece of furniture through the grass, the mud and up the hill. Now, they’ve got to come into the lower level with its off-white carpeting for the next load. Oops.

Well, luckily they had put down some pads, we had moved most of the furniture close to the door and they had taken their shoes off for the first pass. Even with these precautions, It would have been impossible to have moved all 15 pieces of furniture out of the lower level after a rain like we had without bringing in some dirt. But it wasn’t much and the next day I worked on the few spots their shoes made and was able to get them out. Nothing like some water and elbow grease. Here’s our empty lower level.

So, now, our furniture is in storage, the rest is with Lloyd and all that remains in the house is the rest, the things like tools, small furniture, a few pictures, some tools. But the house is mostly empty, hardly a home at all. But it’s a blank canvas for the new family that will move in shortly a music teacher mother and her 7-yr old son.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Altoona, IA - Who Am I

The title opinion came through on our real estate sale today and we found out that Nancy Ferguson is NOT of good character:

        Nancy J. Ferguson has a $5000 judgement against her in the case of Town Financial vs Nancy Ferguson in 2003

        Nancy Ann Ferguson filed bankruptcy in January of 2007.

My name is very clearly Nancy M. Ferguson and that is how I sign. Well, the lawyers only know that some low-life named Nancy Ferguson has a few financial problems and I have to get someone who knows me to tell the world that I am not this Nancy Ferguson.

Doing some more research on this issue, I have found out that identity theft is in back of this new requirement. In the past, when lawyers were preparing a title opinion, they called the county clerks, asked the Social Security number, the address, the birth date and could confirm who every one was. Now, however, county clerks are restricted as to what information they can give out and certainly cannot give out social security numbers. As a result, about 60% of title opinions now have someone in the ownership having to prove who they are.

Several years ago, my sister-in-law had to prove who she and this year it is my turn.

Then we got the inspection on the house. Only 2 minor problems and both were safety issues: creosote in the chimney and a garage door opener which does not have a reverse function such that the motor will reverse if something is caught under the door.

Funny thing that garage door problem: Gary and his sisters had the same problem when they were selling Lug’s home. The little safety sensors at the bottom of the door rails were missing. Luckily, the real estate agent had seen this, had looked up and had noticed that they were up in the ceiling by the motor facing each other. And we all knew why: Lug said ‘I don’t need those’ and the installer, knowing that sensors were required for the motor to work, had put them up by the motor. Gary took them down, installed them at the bottom of the rails and all was ok.

In our garage, our motor was too old to have the sensors so we either had to install a new motor which was connected to sensors or give the new owner some compensation to pay for these.

As to the creosote, we had a sweep come in, check it all out and tell us that we did not need a cleaning. We now have the certificate from a licensed sweep and have forwarded this on to the buyer.

2 small problems that were easily solved. I had a co-worker once who said every problem could be solved: some with time and some with money. These two problems took money, luckily not too much.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Altoona, IA - Sorry, I Haven't a Clue

Guess what we did today? We worked on the house.

KingBedOmahaBuyersLoadUp-1-2013-06-23-21-12.jpgThe only thing worth mentioning is that the couple from Omaha came today to pick up the bed. As Danette and Dale, the couple, were driving to Des Moines from Omaha in their green Suburban with the older wooden trailer with the metal gate their son, who had been to Adventureland on the east side of Des Moines and was on the way back to Omaha, spotted a familiar green Suburban hauling an older wooden trailer with a metal gate and called his mother on his cell.
        ‘Hey, Mom, we just saw your trailer, that wasn’t you was it?’

SorryGame-4-2013-06-23-21-12.jpg‘Us, why would we be heading to Des Moines?’

What a coincidence.

GarywithDavyCrockettPlate-1-2013-06-23-21-12.jpgHow many of you remember these childhood games? Gary and I both remember playing Sorry with our families.

But Gary does not remember Clue and, when I looked up its copyright date of 1972, I knew why. It was developed long after we were playing board games.

Both of these games are in pretty good shape and even have their original boxes. I’m thinking I’ll try E-Bay or Craig’s List for selling these. Certainly we’ll make our fortune here.

We also have found some older items. Here’s a Davy Crocket plate that we found at Gary’s father’s home when we cleaned it out. On the back, Gary’s mother, Darlene has written: Gary or Cathy. However, Cathy tells us that she got her plate years ago so this must be Gary’s.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Altoona, IA - 1st Move: Into Storage

And Jeff and Jesse rolled in at 10:40, right on time and not a minute too soon for us. They backed the truck up to our garage door, lowered the ramp and went to work loading the items we are putting into storage for he future. It was so much fun watching someone else do the work. But, being the Type A that I am, and not being used to watching work, I picked up a piece and carried it out to the truck. Silly me. I quickly stopped that.

Slowly but surely the house emptied out and our voices began to echo. It looks so strange and cold without furniture. I always thought it looked so warm and inviting with the furniture we had in it.

The only things left in our warm, inviting living room were those things we were leaving for Lloyd or Mary to sell in their sales.

We’ve made many decisions about what to keep and what to sell but, in the back of my mind, my rule of thumb is: what will I regret selling? What will I look back on and kick myself for not keeping? And, when I look at this picture of these items that we have designated for sale, I know that I will regret selling the spice rack: the small wooden rack off to the right with the 8 white handles for 8 small drawers. I remember when my mother had those spice drawers filled with spices. I use to stand on a chair and open the drawers one by one, smelling the heavenly aroma emanating from each: the clove drawer, the cinnamon drawer, the sage drawer, the thyme drawer. Yep, I’d better save that from the sell pile and put it into storage. I grew up with that and I’d like to grow old with that.

They finished loading in jig time (only 1 hour) and we all were off for our storage spot. They unloaded in the same jig time and were in and out in 2 1/2 hours. Great work. Good careful workers, they didn’t stop a minute. We will see them again next week when they pick up the household items that we are sending to Lloyd’s for sale.

Then we sat in our storage bay and ate lunch - or ate a piece of cheese and a protein bar. Yep, a great meal in a great setting. Boy, do I know how to entertain. The hostess with the mostest, that’s me. But, it was nice to sit, knowing that a great deal was done and the end was near.

We saw a truck on our way back to the house which had the sign: Sir Build-A-Lot on the side with the web address of Don’t click on that, it’s not important unless you want to have someone build a lot. I laughed at the name until Gary said: ‘well it’s better than:

        Sir I’ll Make It Up As I go.

        Sir I Don’t Have a Clue

I chimed in with:

        Sir I’ll Give It a Try

        Sir I’ll learn on Your Dime

And we’re both laughing. Given the quality of those jokes, you can see our brains are fried But we know we are very close to the end with this first move out of the way and the second scheduled.

Back at the house, we took the king bed frame and king Select Comfort mattress apart. It was a jig-saw puzzle with many interlocking parts. We took pictures as we went so that anyone who bought it might see how it goes together.
TakingApartKingBed-12-2013-06-19-20-27.jpg TakingApartKingBed-4-2013-06-19-20-27.jpg
And, of course, someone has to get the air out to the actual mattresses. It’s a dirty job but someone has to volunteer to do it and I was the one.
We actually have ‘sold’ the bed (although nothing is sold until I have the money in my sweaty palms and the buyer is driving away) and are readying it for the pick-up tomorrow afternoon. We put an ad into Craig’s list for this bed since we thought we might be able to sell it better that way and make more money than having Lloyd sell it and take his percentage.

We really didn’t have any great expectations but I got a nibble several days ago - from a woman who told me that she and her husband have a Select Comfort Queen now and want a King since - get this - he broke his back and needs more space in bed. Holy cow. Well, this is the bed for them.

But, she seems a bit scatty (and we attribute this to her situation) so we have been leery about this sale. We know she wants and needs this bed but were concerned that she might not know what she was getting into. Especially today after we took it apart and saw how big it all was, how many pieces it has and how complicated it would be to put together. We were so concerned that we took these pictures to e-mail to her so she could see what she was getting into. Not that we wanted to discourage the sale but we did want to be upfront. Earlier in a phone conversation, she mentioned her son and his pick-up.

Pick-up? Well, the headboard is 7’ by 4’ and is way too big for a pick-up. She responded that she had gotten a rental trailer with pads and was ready with cash. OK, I feel much better now about her buying this.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Altoona, IA - Preparing the Surface

Paint can directions always begin with: Prepare the Surface.’ Required before you paint so that the paint job is smooth and lasting. Such an easy phrase to say, it just rolls off your tongue. But, oh, so much work: spackling, grouting, caulking, sanding, etc. All the messy ‘fun’ things. Well, the directions for moving should say the same thing: prepare the surface. In this case, the surface is the house. And, that is what we have been doing for the last two weeks. We’ve been doing all the messy ‘fun’ things: wrapping, boxing, disassembling, piling, etc.
I have gone through 4 - 2’ diameter rolls of shrink wrap, 2 boxes of wrapping paper and 17 plastic 66-qt containers, 9 picture boxes and countless rolls of masking tape, brown packing tape and regular 2” Scotch tape. It might have been easier to shrink-wrap the house and move it down the highway with a sign” WIDE LOAD’ attached.

We have all the furniture ready for moving,

all the big pictures wrapped and boxed,

all the little trinkets in plastic containers,
LoadingTruckwithStorageStuff-17-2013-06-18-21-38.jpgThe only thing left is the moving and - we’ve hired Jeff and his crew to do this. No more moving for these two old people.

Jeff comes tomorrow to take our stuff to our storage room and then again next week to take the rest to Lloyd and Mary. The ‘prepare the surface’ is almost done and all that is left is the moving. And, we’ve hired that out.

Will we be done? Nope, we’ve got errands then: office supplies to a teacher we know for his school, household linens and kitchen items for the Free Store, household chemicals to a hazardous waste facility, and, hey, I found some more sterling silver to take to the gold an silver dealer. Whoo-eee.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Altoona, IA - Construction or Deconstruction?

Life has become pretty routine these days. We arise at 7:00, eat breakfast, then drive over to our house in West Des Moines to pack up for the closing date of July 2. We then return at 5:00 or later, after working the whole day. And, I thought I had retired and left the 9 - 5 world. Silly me. Our great thrill of the day is stopping at Caseys on the way to get some coffee and some donuts. If that’s the only fun, it must be a dull day. 

Usually, we’re pleased with the selection and quality of the Casey’s donuts (though they do not compare with a real honest-to-goodness donut shop) but the donuts at this store are usually quite picked over and the ones that are left are all of the same variety: chocolate cake donuts with a variety of frostings. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, chocolate cake with maple frosting, chocolate cake with white frosting and sprinkles, well, you get the idea. Must be a new baker and he’s solidifying his skills with one type of donut before he expands his repertoire into another type.

It’s gotten so bad that I decided to forego donuts today. Of course, Gary gave me a bite of his.

Meanwhile I found a bit of history about donuts. Last week the United States celebrated National Donut Day. Did you miss that salient date? Never fear, it will roll around again next year and you can celebrate then. Just as Mother’s Day was invented to sell cards, so too did I suspect that National Donut Day was invented to sell donuts. Au contraire. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there is a historical context to the Day. The story goes that during WWI the Salvation Army women handed out donuts, which was a European treat, to American soldiers abroad. Here is a copy of the cover from an 1918 Salvation Army’s magazine, War Cry honoring these women, the ‘Doughnut Girls.’

Gary%252527soldNavysafetyshoes--2013-06-13-12-20.jpgThen in 1938, the Salvation Army's Chicago branch declared the first Friday in June to be National Doughnut Day. And, there you have it, the historical context for donuts and why they are so popular in America. Though I’m thinking that the high sugar content is more responsible for their popularity than carrying on a historical tradition.

And that’s how our days have been going. Not much of anything exciting. Just the work of deconstructing a lifestyles we’ve been living for the last many years. Although ‘deconstructing’ sounds pretty negative, I’d rather take a positive spin and look upon it as constructing a new lifestyle for the next many years. However, right now, all I can see is the mess in front of me both in our stick house and in the RV. Every room has its own special little mess, its own special pile. Here’s our living room pile for Lloyd’s of Des Moines and we keep adding to it.

I like NEAT, I like PUT AWAY, I like CLEAN and our lives are anything but those now.

What IS neat and clean is the goal ahead of us, the plan. We know what we want to do and are working everyday towards that goal. I’ve read articles by others who have gone through this same process and they all say that it is frantic, messy and tiring. just how I’d describe our lives now. Up at 7:00, breakfast, over to the house, pack, quick lunch, pack and home about 6:00. If I weren’t seeing progress, I’d be really depressed but I do see progress and I think we’re closer to the end than to the beginning. I was speaking with a friend on the phone who said that I sounded tired. Yep, I probably sound as tired as I am.

DeconstructingourHome-12-2013-06-13-12-20.jpgToday we took all of our old glasses and Lug’s to a local optometrist to donate to those who cannot afford glasses. We took all of our old batteries, toner and computer equipment to Best Buy which disposes of this correctly. I took some old jewelry to the gold and silver dealer and was shocked to find out how much I could sell them for. One piece, which looked like paste and was missing the clasp and a few little copy gems even brought money. Of course, he did not take the pearl necklace that was flaking. Hmmm, guess I couldn’t fool him.

DeconstructingourHome-5-2013-06-13-12-20.jpgLuckily, we are not accumulators but we have more than we want to keep. Some items are easy: the Navy 'donated' a pair of black steel-toed shoes to Gary when he needed them to work on the deck of a carrier. These are finally going.

Then there are the pieces of fine china which my mother insisted that we have. These are going also, some still in their original plastic baggies.
But, there are some things we are keeping: my mother-in-law’s Lane hope chest with the original labels still in it, two small bedside tables from my parents and some pictures we bought at the Minneapolis Art Show many years ago and have displayed ever since.
Here’s our kitchen counter with stuff for the Free Store which gathers household items for abused women and children. By the way, the blue tag means that cupboard is completely empty and we needn’t look in it any more.
And, that my story and I’m sticking to it.

Time to go to bed, I’ve got a lot to do tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Altoona, IA - Furniture, Anyone?

So, you’ve sold your house and moved into an RV. Now, what are you going to do with all the furniture you’ve got in a 2-bedroom, 3 level home? You sure can’t bungee it to the roof of your RV and drive down the highway. And, a garage sale is probably not in the cards. Well, there are auctions, tag sales, sales to dealers, etc. We need to explore them all. But, a garage sale is probably the last thing on my mind. We wanted to find out what else was possible. Every June, West Des Moines has an antique sale and the last time we went we asked many of the dealers if they bought household goods and then gathered their cards just in case this was what we were going to do.

One of the cards was from a woman named Mary who said that she often bought everything in a house and yesterday I called her to schedule an appointment for her to look at what we had. I listed some of our furniture items, she sounded interested and then asked if I wanted to sell just those items or did I want a ‘clean out’ which would be less money for us. A ‘clean-out? Well, that’s where she takes everything, even those things she does not want and then cleans the whole house up afterwards. And, yes, it costs us more money for this.
We scheduled her for 10:00 Tuesday. Then Cathy, my sister-in-law gave us a name of a business called Lloyd’s of Des Moines, which deals in high-end furniture. We called him, he said he was in the area at 10:00 and could he come at 9:00. Ooh- that’s cutting it pretty close and I tried to call Mary to reschedule but could only leave a message.

At 9:00 Lloyd came, looked at what we had, told us how he operated and then went on about how he operates: he takes the high-end stuff to sell in his monthly sale in his store (we visited his store later in the day and here it is all stuffed with things to sell this month) and has a colleague take the lower end stuff for another kind of sale. He then tells stories of sales he’s done. I’m checking my watch, he’s telling more stories, I’m shuffling my feet, he’s telling more stories, I’m moving him towards the garage. More stories. Finally he left at 9:45.

Mary arrived exactly at 10:00. I give her the same tour of the house and we talk about how she operates. Then, in the upper level, when I showed her the things from the guess bedroom that we wanted to sell,
DeconstructingourHome-9-2013-06-11-21-28.jpgshe tells me that she would recommend that, given the quality of our furniture, we start with a colleague of hers, Lloyd. Sure enough these two are colleagues: he takes the high-end stuff and she takes the low-end stuff. Whew. I then told her that we had just spoken with Lloyd.

Now, I really never thought of our stuff as ‘high-end’ but of good quality. My sister-in-law, Cathy, will kill me here since she sold us a great deal of what we have but, when I think of ‘high-end’ I think of the Romneys, the Rockefellers, the Kennedy’s, not Nancy and Gary from Fort Dodge, IA.

Mary actually likes the antiques the best and really liked some of our older pieces and I could tell by the way that she moved her hand over the surface that she appreciated the patina.

Looks like we have a place to sell our furniture and lots of the little stuff that we really don’t want to have a yard sale for. I think we will get the most money with the sale at Lloyd’s for our furniture since he has a monthly sale and 1700 on his e-mail list, he also has a store-front in West Des Moines and has a reputation for having good stuff.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Altoona, IA - SOLD

Well, as I mentioned in a previous blog, we had gotten an offer but it was much lower than we thought the house was worth. We countered, not expecting much since we countered very close to our original price. But, heavens, she countered again, but she was still so far off. Meanwhile the buyer’s real estate agent is giving us whole lots of hooey about how the price per square foot was so much more than some other townhomes. Well, yeah, of course, it’s a much better townhome. Honey crisp apples cost more than red delicious, a Jeep costs more than a Chevy Lumina. Come on. But that’s probably just his shtick to convince us to lower the price.

Finally we said ‘no’ to one of her counters and thought that was that. She had come up but we were still $6000 apart and we weren’t coming down. We were ready for our next showing and our agent was scheduling another open house. That night, we heard that she had magically realized that she should offer $6000 more and we accepted. In the end, she came up $12,000 and we went down $2000. Pretty good ratio.

Now, the original paperwork was drawn up for a closing on July 2. The offers and counter-offers took 5 days but we didn’t think about changing the closing date. Oops. Will we be ready by 7/2? You bet, we’ve got to be. Luckily, we’re already in our RV with all our stuff so that piece is done. We’ve already gone through the house to decide which things we’re keeping and which we’re selling and which go to Goodwill.

Here’s the question: why are some of the things we use daily (like our dishes) going into the trash because they are not good enough for giving away? Huh? And, they’re fine Corell, what could be better? We got them our first year of marriage, which dates them pretty old, like 1974 but we’ve been using them since. Which means that they have had some time to get worn around the edges, kind of like their owners. But, they are going to be consigned to the trashbin of history in this go-round.

We’ve been spending our time at the house packing. But age has changed our modus operandi: we used to use mis-matched boxes from the liquor and grocery stores, newspaper from the stoop and whatever tape we had. Now, we’ve gone official:

        I bought bubble-wrap

        china plate foam pockets

        newsprint, without the print

        66 qt matching plastic containers with lids

Nothing like age to make us more official packers. We’re even going to hire some movers.

But there’s nothing to make this less of a chore. Although, a self-inflicted chore, it is a chore non-the-less. If anyone wants to volunteer to do it for us, we’d not turn you down.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Altoona, IA - Show Me the Money

It rained last night and I realized why we closed our bathroom door when it rained at home to quiet the raindrops on our sky light. Now, of course, we’re in our motorhome, which I fondly call our small tin box, and raindrops on the roof sound like pins going down in a bowling alley. And, that was a light rain. Then it began to rain harder.OH, good. Rat -a tat on our roof. Finally, my last look at the clock said 2:45. I must have fallen asleep then.

And, now it’s 6:45 and I’m remembering how loud diesel trucks sound in the campground.

Obviously, not everything is ideal in the campground. I’m still getting used to sleeping here.

Then it was a sunny day and kids were circling in their bikes, birds were walking on the roof, mothers were pushing their strollers around the roads, and ducks were out on the pond. Ah, yes, here’s why I love to be in a campground in my RV.

Well, we had an offer on our home the other day. WAY                                                                                                  LOW, and not anything we were going to take. So we countered with our original fall-back position which was pretty far away from her offer, and let it go at that, not thinking she’d take it. Nope, she countered back, up about $1000 from her original position. Come on, lady, why diddle around? If you want it, offer a decent price. Otherwise, why waste our time?

Meanwhile, we’re still working on the house. Gary found the hide-away place under the steps and dragged out all of our Christmas decorations. My, I don’t remember decorating that much. But, then I thought back and we had lots of stuff up, red velvet strips hanging from some beams, some 15” tall stuffed Christmas trees that I had make in my Susie Homemaker stage, lots of other things that people had given us as gifts in the past. Gary used to decorate the outside trees and the eaves so we had lots of lights. Now - Now? We have an RV and precious little space for decorating, although we’ve got some lights and a few other things.

We also had a showing at 2 - 3 and a real estate agent who had showed the place to a client but had liked it herself so much that she came through again. I was packing things from around the house into plastic containers that we had bought to store things in. We wanted every container the same size so they’d pack well.

Busy, busy, busy. Keeps us out of trouble. Keeps us from spending money and every day that we don’t spend money is a good day. You know how thrifty I am. A cheapskate par excellence.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Altoona, IA - Gold and Silver

We are continually emptying the house here or at least, piling our belongings into piles for the future : Goodwill, we’ve got a large pile of things for a garage sale, we’ve got lots of kitchen things for a group that supplies abused women and their families, a bunch of furniture for storage and some for a sale.

Remember those Kennedy half-dollars we all saved because they were going to be rare and valuable someday in the future? Today I took my pile into a coin and stamp dealer, Mike, to see what I could get. I also took some gift coins from the Franklin Mint, some old pennies, a book with all 50 of the state quarters and other misc. coins. I had an old US stamp collection that I haven’t bought anything for in years. Why are we keeping all this? Inertia. Well, today inertia ends and I’m going to take it in to make my fortune. Ha, Ha.

Mike flipped through the stamp book pretty fast, pausing a bit on some pages and then keying some figures into his adding machine. Hmmm. And I spent so much time putting this collection all together. Not worth much - no one collects stamps these days. Then he began on the coins. Those Kennedy halves minted before 1974 made out of pure silver, he moved into a pile on his side of the counter. These he wanted. Those minted after 1974 which were sandwiched with copper he did not want and shoved those towards my side of the counter. In the end, I walked out with $54.00 of Kennedy half- dollars that were worth just what was stamped on them: $.50. But I also walked out with $328 for the other coins and the stamps. Whoo - eeee. I’m rich now. He gave me 3 $100 bills and $28.00. What in the world am I going to do with a $100 bill, much less 3 of these little babies?

But, while he was working we were also talking. He also had collected the same Toby Jugs (Royal Doulton Character Jugs) which my mother had collected and which we have been selling over the last two years. He told me that I should have asked him about buyers. Well, I didn’t know he did Toby Jugs. Oh, well. I drove out of the parking lot to the light on the corner and, while waiting for the light to change, I realized that he might be able to help me with the 3 sets of sterling silver ware I had.

When I was young, my mother insisted that I have my own pattern of sterling silver. She had a set of her pattern and that’s just what young women did so that they could entertain when they got married. So, I chose the same pattern my grandmother had chosen - and took all of hers, which my mother had gotten on my grandmother’s death. (Being thrifty and questioning whether I really ‘needed’ my own pattern, I chose a pattern that already had every piece I might ever need - my grandmother’s.)

When the light changed, I crossed the street, circled around a small island and waited at the light again so I could return to the coin dealer’s shop. Sure enough - in red and yellow paint were 3’ tall letters in his front window: WE BUY GOLD AND SILVER. He buys all sets of sterling silver - of course he then sells them to someone who melts them down.

I then crossed the library off my list and headed on back home to get my sets. I have 3: my grandmother’s, my mother’s and my uncle’s. Mike told me that I’d be surprised at how much of this stuff is hanging around homes unused these days. Well, not in my home, we used this sterling whenever we had company. I loved deciding which set to use this time.

I must have hit every light on the way back home. Finally I got there, got out the 3 sets and decided to keep my mother’s but sell my uncle’s and my grandmother’s. I sailed through every light on the way back and spread my silver out before him. Unceremoniously he piled it all into a plastic bin, weighted it and OMG - it was worth how much? Whoo - eee ! ! ! I almost danced a jig.

I had stopped at Costco earlier in the day, realizing that I was now relegated to JIT inventory in my home (Just In Time). No buying in quantity any more. No more buying 2 of things, only one at a time. There are only so many places I can stuff 24 rolls of toilet paper or 2 24-oz jars of peanut butter in this RV.

After my financial windfall at the gold and silver store, i visited the bank, natch, and then went back to Gary to show him my deposit slip. ‘And, how much did you earn today, dear?’ I asked.

Then, I fell right down to earth and cleaned the refrigerator, the dishwasher, the oven and the microwave.

Home late again to a quick dinner.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Altoona, IA - Full-Timing

And, here we are, in a very nice campground in Altoona, IA, cross town from where we lived in West Des Moines. We arrived yesterday in time for dinner, showers and relaxing. It had been a full 3 days, from morning to night each day and we’re ready for a day off. Today is the day off. We still have a lot of unfinished business with our home but today is a relaxing day.

We did get an offer on our home several days ago but it was lower than we wanted and don’t really plan to counter since we're so far apart. But, the house has been for sale only 26 days and this was the just the first offer (I say as if I know there will be more). But, we’re not that anxious to sell. However, we are spending lots of time analyzing prices of homes that have sold recently. Unfortunately, none was a 2-story with a finished lower level on a pond. Makes it difficult to find comps and, when one does find comps they are new homes in rows of 6 or 7 with a garage under the 2 floors with a long commute into town. Pond: nope, mature trees: not at all, close to shopping: they’re miles out side of town. But they are cheaper and are newer. Ah, well, we’ll sell eventually.

Meanwhile we’re in a beautiful campground and enjoying being in the RV again, after 5 months out of it. Here we are on our ‘street.’ Who would have through we’d have such a large lawn?

Note the huge lots surrounded by lush grass with cement pads. The water hook-ups are under ground and have an insulated cover for winter camping. (Yikes.) We all have a ‘house’ light on our site. The trees are small but they are growing and will give some shade for future campers. This campground started with a club house with laundry, TV and exercise room and 4 rows of about 10 RV sites each. Then was expanded with double the number of sites, a large pond for fishing and boating, another large clubhouse and laundry (with a tornado shelter underneath) all carved out of farm fields several years ago. We can also see a big grassy area beyond our area that looks like it will be future campsites.

(And, yes, we checked out the tornado shelter - very well protected with steel and concrete, included several tables and with folding chairs stacked along the walls. All they need now is a vending machine, a monopoly game and some card decks.)

There are two kinds of campers: those who work in the area, most in highway construction, and lots of snowbirds who come back to Iowa every summer. Most of those in our area are snowbirds BUT at 5:00 I heard that badly tuned diesel truck leave for work, circling around our corner. Obviously there are some workers in our area, too.

IowaSunsets-1-2013-06-3-20-34.jpgAnd this campground is full, full, full. We did get the last space for the next two months. The snowbirds will make their reservation for next year before they leave for the south this fall. Some of the construction workers and their families actually live here all winter long. There are 46 actual sites which are winterized. I can’t imagine living in an RV over a frigid, snowy, icy Iowa winter.

As we went through the evening and through today, we tallied up what we had forgotten. I know two people who did not check their list before they packed. But, we didn’t feel any urgency since we knew we’d be back to the house almost daily for a month at least. The first thing we noticed that we had left at home was: hand soap. Huh? Luckily, we’ve got a large container of body wash for the shower. This large container now sits on our counter by our kitchen sink. Hey, what about that checkbook? Luckily, the campground takes VISA. Cheese grater, rolling pin, coasters. Little things but we’d really like to have them. Tomorrow is our day for errands and to check on the house.

Today it was in the high 60’s, sunny without a cloud in the sky and with just a hint of a breeze. A perfect day for a walk.

And, the sun setting over the trees. The view from our front window was superb.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

WDM, IA - Packing It In

We’re in our second day of packing up the RV. We picked the RV up on Wednesday from the storage lot and almost didn’t get the RV through the mud. When we had driven back in February, emptied it and then driven it over to our storage lot, we had a hard time getting that 35,000 lb vehicle through the mud in our site. You don’t want to fishtail in the mud with an RV, especially not with other RV’s parked right next to you. Seems as if all the rain had made the soil extremely soft and we landed with 1/2 of our tire in the mud. But there it was going to stay until we wanted it.

LeavingBigBoyisTrickyThisTime-5-2013-06-1-19-53.jpgWednesday we went to pick it us and the ground was even softer than when we drove it into the lot in February. With the rear tires mired in mud, Gary tried to gently back it out, but it was slow going and then stopped. I checked and his rear tires were not spinning in the mud but were turning steadily and not getting any grip so that he could move backwards. I told him to move forward a bit and ‘GUN it backwards. Gunning, a 35,000 RV, backwards? Whooo-eee. But, my Big Gar did it and got the rear tires out of the mud. Whew. Only to back the front tires into it as he was turning the wheel to get into the roadway. Oof-da. Finally, we had it safely on top of the rock that was in the roadway and ready to ‘rock’ and roll.

LeavingBigBoyisTrickyThisTime-2-2013-06-1-19-53.jpgNote the front tires in the mud in the first picture and the mud he left behind in the second.

We then went to a funeral in Minneapolis on Thursday with Gary’s Aunt Darlene. On the way we stopped at a truck stop to get some coffee and found these cool hats.

Funerals are not pleasant especially when it is someone as young as Gary’s cousin was, 63 years old, 33 years younger than his father, Johnny who is still alive. We got to spend some time with Johnny and his daughter, Susan and we also met his grandaughters whom we had never met before.

PitStoponDrivetoMN--2013-06-1-19-53.jpgFriday and now today we have spent in packing the RV. Much more difficult packing than usual since we don’t plan to come back here to live and need to take clothing for all seasons. Usually we take clothing for 3 seasons: fall, winter and spring. We will need lots of summer clothes this time around. It was also more difficult since we had to make some hard choices:

        what to take

        what to give

        what to store and

        what to toss

Obviously the largest category is what we are taking with us. The smallest is ‘what to store’ and we are only storing some since we’ll have a storage lot because we’ve got some furniture that we’re keeping. We've made several trips over to Goodwill to give them some of our clothing. But that last category? Toss? Why in the world are we tossing some clothes? Does that mean that we have some clothes that are stained, ripped, thin and/or the wrong size. All of the above. Why are we keeping these? Why haven’t we tossed these long ago? Who knows. Besides, everyone needs some old clothes to do gardening or home maintenance. We just have more than many others.

Making these choices made packing take more time than usual. That shirt with the small rip was not difficult but the sweater that I loved years ago but is stretched now was more difficult. Gary, on the other hand, has a hard time tossing anything - it’s so hard that one time when he tossed a pair of jeans, we memorialized the occasion with a picture. Today I thought he was lost in his closet. But it is completely bare now.

Which brings up a strange vision: imagine visiting a home for show and contrast looking in the closets (empty), the refrigerator (cleaned out), the pantry (bare) with checking the cupboards (loaded with dishes), the silverware drawer (a complete set) the house (filled with furniture.) Do people live here or not? Dishes but no food? Furniture but no toiletries? Silverware but nothing to eat with it. I doubt that anyone could imagine that the people who lived here have gone to live in their RV, that is so far from most people’s experience. But they certainly must wonder what happened to the inhabitants of this house. ‘It seems like people live her but…”

It took us two days to pack - did we forget anything? Tune in later for the answer.