Sunday, December 17, 2017

Dreaming of France -- More Hard Goodbyes

Today, we begin week 2 of living out of a suitcase since we sold our home and moved out last week.
My neighbor tells me that once we vacated at 9:51 a.m., a moving van trundled down the alley at 10:10 a.m. Good thing Earl found the keys he had lost so we could move the pickup truck we were driving. See last week's dreaming of France post for the details.
Family photo on our back porch the week before we moved out.
Our friends have made it an easy transition, offering us a comfy bed in a "French provincial" bedroom. We've gone to a couple of hockey games with them and went to see the new Star Wars movie last night, but in between, we're saying more goodbyes.
I'm awful at goodbyes, so I understand this tendency, but what I've noticed is that people are very reluctant to say that last goodbye. Instead, we make a plan to see each other one last time before our departure.
My running friends and I met on Saturday and ran at Antrim Lake. We can go for another run one morning before work, we decided.
"Monday?" Najah suggested.
"Let's make it Thursday, the day before I leave," I replied. I knew that if we met for a run on Monday, we'd be scheduling another run on Thursday, or even Friday, the day we leave.
I met with Angie and Emily, two of my long-time writing friends on Saturday. I was grading papers, but they were writing. Before we left, we agreed to meet again on Wednesday with the larger writing group. I'll have to leave early to see my sister-in-law and her grandchildren one more time on Wednesday evening.
Saturday evening, we had dinner with Earl's brother and his wife, but we planned one more get together if they come to Earl's retirement party and take our car for their son in college to use.
And this morning we went to mass at the Newman Center on the campus of Ohio State. We hugged many friends and retrieved promises that people would visit, including a goddaughter who has grown up before I realized it. I promised I would make up for my negligence if she wanted to come hang out in France. She's in 8th grade, so it might be awhile.
Tonight, our family is gathering with my friend Najah and her son for a family game night. Just some time all together so the kids can be reminded they can turn to Najah when I'm not around.
Eventually, the days are going to run out. There will be no more scheduling for future days.
Today, my brother and sister-in-law drove to Columbus to see us. And when we walked out of Hofbrauhaus to the parking lot, we said goodbye. A final goodbye. With hugs and cheek kisses, and one more hug just because we aren't sure when we'll see them again. Maybe we'll come home next year around this time, but they probably aren't coming to France in the coming year. So it was goodbye.
And that's going to happen more and more often.
But if we didn't say goodbye, then we couldn't fly off on our adventure, so we will say au revoir, until we see you again, and maybe they can say adieu, go with God, as Father Vinnie did this morning.
For you blog readers though, I'll say à bientôt, which means see you soon. Two more Dreaming of France blogposts before we jet off to our new lives in France.
A view of Mont Ste Victoire from near Cezanne's studio. 

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Cat Story

If you've read my blog in the past, you know how busy I am this time of  year with 8-10 page research papers turned in from each of my six classes and final exam essays arriving this week.
Add to that the sale of our house and the move, and maybe you can imagine the feeling of drowning that enveloped me.
Once we were moved out of our house on Sunday, all I wanted to do was collapse and ice the bruises that lined my biceps where I carried our pieces of sturdy wood furniture. But I couldn't, I had papers and papers to grade, plus students eager to know where they stood in the class.
So as I struggled to complete all of the chores that go with moving, cancelling utilities, returning the cable box, emptying the storage unit before Thursday, I threw myself into grading.
By Wednesday morning, I left the house about 6:30 a.m. and headed to a nearby Starbucks so I could grade before my 10 a.m. and noon final exams. I hoped to get all of the research papers finished so I could hand them back to the students.
A few hours in, my phone buzzed with a text from our real estate agent. A cat was scratching at the door of our old house, meowing to be let in. Of course, the new owners did not let the cat in. It wasn't his home anymore.
My thoughts immediately jumped to our two cats. One of them lives about half an hour away with our daughter. The other, Tybalt (pronounced Tibb-alt, we call him tibbs spelled Tybs) lives about a mile away on a busy road with our son, Spencer.
This is Tybs with Tucker. He has always been Tucker's cat, but Tucker's roommate
has a husky plus two cats. That's how Tybs ended up living with Spencer. 
I called Spencer who was on his way to work.
"Did you lose Tybs?" I asked. The phone was breaking up as he spoke to me over the blue tooth system.
The cat had gotten out the night before.
"I waited up for him til 12:30 but he never came back," he said.
Of course he didn't come back, I wanted to yell, he doesn't know where your house is.
Instead, like a pet from Homeward Bound, he found his way through the streets and alleys of our town and ended up at our old house.
He's been lost before, not as far away and couldn't find his way home, so I don't know how he got home.
"You just left him?" I screeched to Spencer. "It's 15 degrees outside."
"I know, Mom. I messed up," Spencer said. Outraged that he had taken off for work without notifying anyone, I gathered my papers and my computer to go in search of the cat.
First though, I called our neighbor and good friend, Sandy. She agreed to go grab Tybs from the porch.
As I drove toward our old neighborhood, I pictured Tybs' head popping up in the front window as he begged to be let in. Poor, cold cat.
Sandy had him in the house when I arrived. "He was shivering," she said, but he wasn't dirty or wet from the snow.
I scooped him up and headed toward Spencer's apartment, hoping a roommate or his landlord could let me deposit Tybs. No one was home and the clock ticked toward my 10 a.m. final.
Sandy agreed to keep him, in spite of her two dogs. Tybs had always gotten along with them, but one of the dogs was a bit afraid of him since our other cat had swiped him on the nose a few times.
I stopped at the grocery and bought a disposable kitty pan along with food and a dish.
With the cat safely ensconced for the day, I chided Spencer. He would need to pick up the cat on his way home from work.
"I hope he learned his lesson," Spencer texted back.
"Cats don't learn lessons," I replied. "I hope you learned your lesson. You can't let him out and neither can your roommates."
It could be worse. The apartment is on a busy road, so he could have been done for.
Still, I can't get out of my mind those little paw prints in the snow of the front porch of the house where we used to live.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Moving Misadventures

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

So, it happened. We actually closed on the sale of our house and managed to move out this morning. It sounds much simpler than it was.
Closing was scheduled for Friday. On Thursday, the buyers scheduled a walk-through. I fumed a bit because that was precious time I could have been packing things.
Then the call came from our real estate agent. The washer and dryer were supposed to go with the house. We had just moved them out to Spencer's apartment the weekend before.
This was our second contract. The first one fell through, but the agent asked us whether we planned to leave the washer and dryer. We told her no. So we assumed, she would put that in the 2nd contract too. She didn't. So that was her mistake.
Because the washer and dryer were gone, the buyers wanted them replaced or a $400 credit. We decided the credit would be easiest. Then they changed their mind. They wanted a washer and dryer there and wanted another walk-through to prove that it was working. Obviously, we had no time within the next 24 hours to buy and install a washer and dryer.
They also had another demand that we give them $400 toward electrical things that they wanted fixed. Earl's brother is an electrician and had fixed all their requests, but they brought in another electrician who suggested other fixes.
We offered $400 for the washer and dryer plus $300 for the electrical work. They refused. They wanted an actual washer and dryer installed, plus $500 for electrics — they upped the price. And, to guarantee the washer and dryer worked, they also wanted a $400 check held in escrow.
Earl drew a line in the sand. No. It was the principal of the thing.
The real estate agents both chipped in $100 toward the electrics. We agreed to buy our neighbor's used washer and dryer for $300 (a steal). The escrow check was still tripping us up when we walked into the title office to sign that Friday morning.
The title guy convinced us that his company would hold the washer and dryer check in escrow and would not release it unless all parties (including us) agreed. They also set the deadline for five days so it doesn't drag out. So we agreed.
Saturday was supposed to be spent moving out, but first we needed to move the washer and dryer from our neighbor's basement to our basement.
As they moved the dryer, the heavy-duty cord swung up and hit Earl in the forehead just above his eyebrow, leaving a drop of blood perched against his sweaty brow. When they reached our basement, they realized the plug didn't match the outlet for the dryer. Earl would have to replace the cord so they matched.
My sons went to move the washer. As it started to slip on the stairs, Spencer grabbed the bottom of it and it sliced the web between his thumb and finger. Our neighbor doctored him with a beer before his girlfriend drove him to the urgent care for four stitches and no more help moving things.
At some point, the new owners drove past (spying on us) and noticed the porch swing was gone. They immediately called their real estate agent who called ours, who called us. The porch swing was on hooks so it didn't have to stay. My friend Sheila had asked for it.
Friends stopped by to help as we winnowed down our belongings, still it looked like we couldn't possible finish by 10 a.m. Sunday.
We had optimistically planned to finish Saturday and spend the night at Earl's brother's house. We canceled that plan.
I can't begin to describe so you can feel the physical and emotional exhaustion of Saturday. Without a run, I logged over 19,000 steps just carrying things up and down stairs, out doorways and into pickup trucks -- 46 staircases, my Fitbit says.
Grace dropped by and I made her help me carry a desk and a chest of drawers from the basement to the garage - -I had heard Earl's moans of pain as he tackled another flight of stairs with the new knee he received last month. Grace professed to be exhausted and I stared her down with a look of disdain. She didn't know what exhaustion was.
The house finally empty 
When Noreen and her husband dropped by to pick up the cross country skis and offer to help, they looked around our house with pity. They couldn't see us escaping the items left to move.
"If we were moving to a new house, I'd just tell the movers to pack up everything and I'd sort it when we got there," I explained, " but there isn't a new house. We have to get rid of everything."
Between 5 and 6 p.m., we made three trips to Goodwill, donating bookshelves and ottoman's and bags and bags of books before they closed for the night.

Then we settled in to go through the remaining bookshelves and boxes in the basement. They were things no one else could help with. They were personal -- did we save the newspaper clips with our bylines? Which kids' books would we want to read to our grandchildren? Which letters from friends, family, old boyfriends, siblings would we want to read again someday?
The back room in the basement where we stored everything, finally empty late Saturday night. 
We fell asleep around 11 and woke this morning at 5:30 to finish.
Earl drove the futon we'd slept on to my friend Najah's house at 8. He came home and took a load of things to the storage unit (which has to be emptied by Thursday) then a final load of things to Goodwill at 9.
Spencer stopped by to pick up the small television he wanted to put in his room, along with some weights, a broom and a vacuum. I kept cleaning, making my way toward the back door.
Yes, at 9:40, I stepped out back, Swiffer mop in hand. The house was clean and empty.
Earl had pulled up behind the neighbor's car because Spencer was behind our garage. And, as we were ready to leave, he realized he didn't have the keys to the pickup truck. He'd driven it into the alley, so the key couldn't be far.
We spent a frantic 15 minutes searching for the key, retracing his steps. A neighbor came over to help look as we combed through the snow that had fallen the night before.
Finally, he held up the key which he had dropped into a bag of trash. If you saw how many bags of trash we left, you’d realize The loss of the key could have been a nightmare.
So stitches and lost keys and hopeless thoughts all behind us, I thanked our house one last time for the years of laughter and warmth it had provided, and we drove away.
Then we came back so I could leave the garage door opener for the new owners. And then we really left.
In less than two weeks, we'll be in Florida for Christmas. And in 25 days, I'll be living in France.
Me looking happy because I'm in Frane

The sun rising on a new beginning of my life in France. 
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Dreaming of France -- Goodbyes

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

The goodbyes have begun and it's only my dream of the upcoming life that keeps me going.
Market day in Pezenas, France
We gathered at my house on Friday night with members of the writing group bringing dishes to share. Tomato bisque soup, macaroni and cheese, chicken salad croissants, taco salad, cabbage salad, buffalo chicken dip. Wine and some more wine. And at the end of the evening, hugs and goodbyes.
Writer's Group -- one last hurrah. 
I'll see them again, most of them in the coming weeks. 

Then yesterday, a gathering at my sister-in-law's house with the nieces and nephews. I hugged Ben goodbye. He lives in Dayton finishing his PhD. "I won't see you again," I said. "Not until you come to France."
The great nieces and nephews treat Tucker like a climbing apparatus. 

Benjamin is 2. He won't remember me, except as the aunt who lives in France. 

My boys spending some time outside with their Aunt Shelley --
she may be a bad influence, but they enjoy spending time with her. 
It's all becoming very real.
Then Sunday, after working this weekend to move Spencer out of the house and into his new place,  we took a break from packing to go to a gathering of homeschool friends. It seems silly to say homeschool friends since none of us teach our kids at home any more. Most of our children are in college or graduated from college or working on graduate degrees. Maybe we did something right after all.
Laughs and love with long-time friends.
And for a few hours, we caught up on each other's lives and laughed at memories. I won't see many of these friends again until we revisit the U.S. or they journey to France.
The hugs goodbye were long and accompanied by a few tears.
It's only going to get worse, building toward a crescendo where I must say goodbye to my children and my parents in order to make my dream of living in France come true.
View of Mont Sainte Victoire from Aix en Provence.
I hope I've chosen wisely.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


We have a week before we need to be out of the house, so I’m attempting to pack for France, along with allowing for clothes to wear here at home where it’s cold, and for our 10 days in Florida where it’s warm. 
The other day we received a box of vacuum storage bags. So today I spent time trying to see if all the clothes I plan to take will fit. 
A lot of times I don’t wear very warm clothes because I still get hot flashes. Many times I’m wearing short sleeves or sleeveless dresses with a cardigan so I can strip down at the first sign of inner flush. 
As I packed today, cramming sweaters and warm pajamas in the vacuum bags, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would even wear everything I’m taking along. I winnowed out so many things but I continued to remove dresses and shirts from my pile. 

On television, those vacuum bags look so smooth. Mine looked like vacuum-packed roasts. 

The bags are super heavy now, of course because there’s no air in them. 
I have another suitcase that I plan to pack for our days in Paris and I may take an extra bag to Florida. Before we leave there, I’ll have to fit all those summer clothes into my bags so I can get them to France. 
It’s all an adventure. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dreaming of France -- The Visas Are Here!

Thank you for joining this weekly meme. Grab a copy of the photo above and link back to An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.
As all the dominoes fall into place, our dream of living in France gets closer and closer. And last week, the domino that made me nervous crashed into our neighbors mailbox.
The French consulate in Chicago had warned that it could take four weeks for the visas to arrive. Since we would be closing on our house before a month had passed, I had the visas sent to my neighbor's house.
I had already arrived at school to teach an evening class when she texted saying she had received an Express mail envelope for us. I wanted to run right home to get it, but instead, I sent Earl to fetch them and he took a picture, texting it to me in class.

Yay! We are going to live in France.

I also bought train tickets today for our first journey from Paris to a housesit in Nouvelle Aquitaine. Of course, I don't want to have to print off all our train tickets, so I downloaded the app for SNCF -- the train system in France.

Now we scan our tickets before climbing aboard, or when the conductor comes down the aisle.
We can also keep track of all of our train trips on the app, and it's counting down the days for me.
In other preparing to leave news, today we pulled out the suitcases and opened them on the floor. We went through our closets, which we thought we'd winnowed out before the house went on the market, but we continued to find things that we could live without.
Clothes are laying in a pile in the suitcases, ready for the compression bags that I ordered from Amazon this morning. Hopefully, those magic compression bags will make everything fit.
Just a few weeks until we close on our house and less than a month until we leave Columbus behind.
We'll travel to my parents' house to celebrate Christmas, and in January we'll fly to France.
It could still all fall apart, but I'm feeling pretty confident now.
This is it!
Thanks for playing along with Dreaming of France. I hope you'll visit each other's blogs and leave comments. Also post your blog info in the Linky below.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Pause

During this busy holiday weekend, just a pause to tell you that things are better. 
If Spencer and his girlfriend start their morning with Echinacea tea, I feel like everything will eventually fall into place. 

Had a lovely, if loud,  Thanksgiving with my family. My parents from Florida, my brother from Texas, and my nephew from Virginia with his 4 children, including these two little guys. 

Now you see why it was loud. Plus their sisters, 3-year-old Lydia and 2-year-old Lorelei. 

Today, back to my brother’s to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday.

Dreaming of France -- More Hard Goodbyes

Today, we begin week 2 of living out of a suitcase since we sold our home and moved out last week. My neighbor tells me that once we vacate...