Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Black Hole

When last I wrote about the black hole that is our master closet, I was very proud of myself for having cleared out a good majority of Steven's stuff and a little bit of mine. He was in Ireland at the time, so I had free reign to toss his crap. I had a hard time letting go of my things, I even lamented getting rid of my very dated Sue Ellen Ewing-style wardrobe with shoulder pads the size of Volkswagens.

Things were looking up back in 2009 but our stuff had babies and created a new black hole in 2014

When we moved from our previous home (a 5000 square foot jobber) everything that survived the purge came with us and more was added. A new black hole was born. We typically operated out of a teeny corner where our weekly wardrobes hung. We each guarded our little spots with invisible force shields and terrible diseases befell whomever encroached on the other. And god forbid a favorite item went astray because it was lost forever.

So it was for good reason that Steven and I dreaded clearing out our closet and we therefore left it to the bitter end. When the estate sale team showed up, we sheepishly pointed to our closet and said, "um, some stuff will be coming out of there." They just nodded and moved on. haha.

We contemplated wearing hazmat suits, but in the end, we just dove in and got the job done. We found two baskets of neatly folded clothes my Mom washed when she was here a couple of years ago. Mom is the Queen of Laundry. She will go looking for stuff so if there is something you don't want washed you'd better have it well hidden. By the time she leaves, we have more clean clothes than we have space for. Thus the baskets. She's especially good at washing all those awkward-sized items, blankets and such, so we usually let those pile up when we know she's coming for a visit. This time we saved it all for her and she got it done! My Mom rocks!

Our master closet is now the staging area for all the stuff going into Scoopy. So far, there's plenty of room and we're trying hard not to fill it up.

Preparations for the estate sale are well underway. I'm not sure they were expecting all those clothes, but oh well. They brought over some hanging racks. Most rooms are set up, so we've confined ourselves mostly to our bedroom. We have one little counter in the kitchen, so we're pretty much surviving off Trader Joe's prepared foods. Monday the team will come in to tweak, price and photograph the displays of stuff and one week from today, the estate sale will be over.

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Our house has been transformed into a Home Goods-style store!

Also on Monday, Tara's car is being picked up for shipping to San Diego. She still needs to load up her clothes, which are going in the car.

Once the house is nearly empty, the cleaners come in. This is one area we might have made a slight timing miscalculation. I am scheduled for a colonoscopy on this day, which means I'll be preppin' and they probably won't have access to my bathroom. ("Um, sorry, could you do this room last??") What was I thinking?

July 1st is a big day. Steven and Tara leave for to San Diego, Zac gets his wisdom teeth out and the painters arrive. We will eventually get moved into Scoopy, but there's another U-Haul and a trip to Bellingham in our near future.

The evening of a long day of purging and the next day after trash pickup. So much joy!

As much as we'd like to think the day will come when we can just take a moment to relax, the truth is it will probably take us a while to decompress from all this intense activity. Until then, we are taking it day by day.

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Monday, June 16, 2014


Two weeks ago my Mom arrived from Texas to help us get packed up. Well, she actually came for Zac and Tara's high school graduation, but she arrived a few days early to pack. From the moment she arrived, time flashed by like a whirlwind. We had already filled a room with stuff we thought might possibly make the cut, but since most of what we were sending would end up in her ranch house (or so I thought) Mom had a big vote as to what went in the U-Haul.

In my mind, very few boxes would remain unpacked once at the ranch, so I tried to be judicious in the things I picked out. Ultimately, we focused on things we think we'd like to have when we come off the road, but that's kind of difficult to figure out. We took a stab at it anyway. There's stuff the kids want but have no room for currently.

Then Mom mentioned some stuff could go into the Conex. Say what? She told me that my Dad had moved a 20' Conex shipping container to the ranch and it was just sitting there waiting for our stuff. OMG! This changed everything! We had rented a 20-foot U-Haul, so I took on the motto of the USPS - "If it fits, it ships!"

We spent days and days sorting through stuff, packing boxes and making decisions. Some days we were ruthless, others we got emotional and kept stuff we probably should have tossed. Having that container sure took the pressure off me having to worry about overloading my parents with stuff they can't use. Loads and loads went into the estate sale room and loads more went into the trash. In the end, we had 49 boxes, most of which were medium-sized to small. We did end up shipping more furniture than we had planned and we are happy to have been able to save a few things we love, but had been willing to let go.

I know I saved more things than I would have without the container, but I don't think it was much. Mostly what we added last minute were things my Dad and sister Shannon wanted. A generator. Some tools and shelves for my Dad's barn. A wheelbarrow. We managed to load up the Libyan wedding chest and camel saddle (I know, right?) to send to a friend.

During all the packing activity, we had a house full of people - our family of five, Mom, Dad, Shannon and Ron, Zoe and Zac's dad. We had to use a couple of air mattresses, but we found spots for everyone to sleep amidst the chaos. We really had a great time, lots of happy hours, storytelling and belly laughs. And most importantly, graduation went off without a hitch. We are so proud of Zac and Tara!

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At the graduation ceremony in Key Arena. We can’t believe our babies are no longer in high school!

A beautiful night for graduation!

Saturday following graduation, it was time to load the U-Haul. It was difficult to gauge just how much would fit and for whatever reason we thought we were going to load it ourselves. We came to our senses a few days before and Steven managed to hire a couple of pros. It took them about three hours, but they got it all in there with room to spare. Mom and I made a mad dash through the house looking for more stuff, but we didn't find anything else we wanted. Dad got to take a case of Two Buck Chuck he bought, so he was happy.

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Leave it to the pros!                                   Linda’s dad admires the packing job.

By 8:00 am Sunday morning, we said our goodbyes to my parents and they left for the long trip to Texas. Steven and I totally recognize how lucky we are to have my parent's help in this crazy adventure of ours. They are road trip people and they have traveled the roads of this country long before there were even Interstate highways. They love it, although they'd probably prefer to do it in something other than a U-Haul truck! We are so grateful to them, for all the help, emotional support, the driving and the storage.

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Going…going…                                                          Gone!

As of this morning, the estate sale team has been here all day, working on getting things sorted and set up for the sale. It's the most relaxing day we've had in weeks. We've moved the kid's furniture into our bedroom so it won't get sold, and we're all holed up trying to stay out of their way. My sister Shannon is still here and the team found her suitcase and had it unloaded and on the shelves to sell before we could move it. She had to go around and find it all again.

The estate sale team set up shop!

When the team leaves, Steven and I will of course go around and snag everything we can't live without. Hope it won't be much!

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

A Very Busy June


Six weeks from today we will be moving into Scoopy. That's not far off, but in that short time, we have a lifetime of things to do.

Our house is still in complete disarray, boxes and papers everywhere. Over the years I have read numerous blogs about how to downsize, and the recommendation mostly seems to be to handle one room at a time, sorting things into four piles: keep, sell, donate and trash.That's it essentially, but it's not as easy as it sounds.

Once we decide to keep something, we then decide where to keep it, either on the road with us in Scoopy or at my parents place in Texas. The last one requires a bit of thought, because things in Texas might be stored, or used in the ranch house. So how we pack it makes a difference. Stuff for Zoe and Zac's new apartment in Bellingham also falls into the "Keep" pile, which includes lots of furniture and household items. Tara is moving to San Diego, so will not be taking much from home as she can buy what she needs cheaper than we can ship it all to her.

"Sell" is the majority of our stuff, which is nice because mostly we can just leave it laying around and the estate sale folks will handle it. It does, however, make for a cluttered house. Our donate pile is empty, as our Estate Sale person instructed us to try and sell everything first, then donate what doesn't sell.

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Shredding like it’s 1999                          Lots of wires but where are the gadgets?

Trash is a monstrosity of a category. We were big on saving everything. We have come across old bank statements and phone bills from 1978 and beyond. I kept every term paper I ever wrote in high school and college. It's overwhelming. Steven has literally spent days sitting at the shredder and there is still more to come.

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Texas Room (and Scoopy stuff)                                   Sell and Sort Room (still a lot to go through)

Our estate sale isn't until the end of June, so it seems as though we have plenty of time. We don't. My Mom arrives Monday the 2nd, my Dad follows on the 8th. My sister arrives on the 11th, and Zoe and Zac's dad arrives on the 12th. Yep, we will have a house full of guests in the midst of all this chaos. But it's all for good reason, as Zac and Tara graduate from Skyline High School on Friday the 13th.

Saturday following graduation, we get a 20' U-Haul truck and start loading all the stuff designated for Texas. My parents will be driving it home instead of flying. By Monday the 16th, everyone will be gone, along with a chunk of stuff that is taking up a lot of room.

But there is no rest for the weary. As soon as the last person leaves, the estate sale team arrives. Over the next 10 days, they prepare for the sale, which is scheduled for June 27 & 28th. Before then, everything in our "Keep" pile has to be shoehorned into our bedroom so that it isn't snatched up at the sale. When we return home on the evening of the 28th, our house will be "empty & broom clean".

Seemingly, at that point we can breathe again. But no, July is just around the corner…