Friday, July 25, 2014

Verklempt in Seattle

We have now been in Scoopy for just over two weeks. We have everything we need and it is as organized as it can be. So although we have settled into our daily routine, it's a bit of a false start. We are in limbo. The reason for that is because we are still parked in Issaquah, so close to everything that is familiar to us. In fact, I could walk to my former place of employment.

The notion of "hometown" is somewhat foreign to us. Steven is originally from Dublin, Ireland, but he has spent more than half his life in America. He has lived in the Seattle area longer than any other place and it was here that he became an American citizen. I am Texas-born, but as an "oil brat", we moved far too often to ever consider any place a "hometown". 

The beauty of that, of course, is that we get to choose our own - and we chose Seattle. Today, we decided to go say a proper goodbye to the city we love. For us, the day was routine, something we've done so many times before. It was a chance to visit our favorite places, most of which are centered around food. We parked where we always do and took the elevator to Pike Place Market. The view of the city and waterfront as we step off is breathtaking, no matter the weather. Walking into the market was a familiar assault on our senses as the smell of spices, seafood, baked goods and flowers wafted over us.

The view as we got out of the elevator

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A feast for the senses, although the fish doesn’t seem so excited.

Our method of shopping in this area is to first suss out all the offerings and decide what we actually want to purchase. Then we start buying at the place furthest away and make a full loop back through the market. This way, we can browse, window-shop and stop to enjoy the entertainment without being weighed down by multiple shopping bags until we are ready to head home.

Pike Place Market can be miserable on a hot day during the tourist season and in those conditions we would usually avoid it at all costs. Today was overcast and cool, and for some reason, the tourists found other sights to visit. We had no problem navigating our way through the crowd and out to the streets.

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So many yummy veggies!                                   How could you even begin to order anything??

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The famous Pike Place sign       The world’s best mac and cheese

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We actually avoided Sur La Table on this trip!                      Let’s get all this for our spice rack!

Before we could start shopping, we had to make a stop at Beecher's for a bowl of their famous mac and cheese. Yum. Fortified, we headed up the hill to Penzey's for some Sunny Paris, the best spice concoction on planet earth. We now have a lifetime supply. (I know, I know. I am not supposed to utter those words now that we're living in such a small space, but c'mon! It's Sunny Paris!)

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Despite the crowds, not a busy day…                        Sunny Paris rules!!

Next stop, the umami store, otherwise known as DeLaurenti, one of my all-time favorite shops. I had to be judicious in making my selections, so I picked out my favorites - anchovies, Red Boat fish sauce and some duck fat. 

Just around the corner was our next stop, Pike Place Fish. Yeah, this is the place famous for fish tossing. We were there to buy a couple of crabs. Typically we would not make our purchase from this particular location, as there is a slight premium for all that flying entertainment. But, as it happens, today they had the best selection, so we went for it.

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We know Jason from our All Critters days. He prepared and cleaned the crabs

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Got crabs?                                All stocked up on the best stuff on earth

As we headed back to our car, it dawned on me how much I will miss Seattle and the Pacific Northwest in general. Even though we will be back next summer, I got a little choked up at the thought of leaving.

And yet, I am so ready to go. We stayed in Issaquah primarily so Zac could finish out the month at his job and have a place to stay on the weekends, but also in case our house needed our attention. We still have a few loose ends to tie up, a few more friends to hug and then we are out of here. One week from today, we roll. We have never been so prepared in our lives.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A New Chapter Begins

With the hectic month of June coming to a close, we started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We still had a few significant tasks to tackle, but everything was finally coming together.

On July 1st, Steven and Tara flew to San Diego to get her moved into a new apartment. She had nothing but her car and whatever she could cram inside within the weight limits imposed by the shipping company. This meant her apartment would have to be completely kitted out in the five days Steven was there to help. It was a massive undertaking.

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Tara at her new apartment and nearby beach in San Diego.

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Steven cools off in Pacific Beach and Tara poses with her new kitty Rocky.

My job at home entailed taking Zac to get his wisdom teeth out and managing his recovery. Clearly, I got the better deal here. Except not. I hired a lawn care company and painters, cleaned out the garage, supervised Handyman George, consolidated the things we still needed to move into Scoopy and spent a full day going through the dregs of our paperwork. It was a very productive, if tedious, few days.

Linda managed to whittle all our little stuff down to this…

Two days after Steven returned home, we retrieved Scoopy from her storage place for the last time, drove her to the Issaquah RV Village and settled in. It was now July 8th, the day we had worked so hard for, and it was finally here!

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Scoopy’s last farewell to storage.                   Traffic at the highway exit to our campsite!

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Finally at Issaquah Village RV Park!                                       Not much room for an awning here.

Our first few days weren't exactly as we had envisioned all these years, but it was still pretty awesome. The painters were working in the house, so no one could sleep there. That meant Zac moved into Scoopy with us for a week. Though we were dreading the close quarters, I have to say it wasn't as bad as we thought it would be. Zac basically used his car as a suitcase, so he really didn't bring anything inside. He likes to take long, leisurely showers, so he used the campground facilities. And for most of the day, he was either working or hanging out with his buddies. All-in-all, things worked out just fine.

Since we had already moved the majority of our things into Scoopy, we really didn't have much to do in order to get ourselves settled in. We had a week before the next big event -  renting another U-Haul truck to move Zac to Bellingham.

Originally we were planning to load, travel to Bellingham and unload in one day. Hahahahaha. Of course, we came to our senses and loaded up the U-Haul the day before the big move. We also hired a couple of guys to help unload in Bellingham. It took Steven, Zac and me over three hours to tightly pack up that truck, but we got it done. When we arrived in Bellingham the next day, we swung by Zoe's soon-to-be-vacated apartment and loaded up everything that was too big to fit in her little car. Then off we went to unload at the new place that Zoe and Zac are now sharing. The day was a success and we celebrated with a glass (or two) of wine that evening in Scoopy.

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Another U-Haul in our driveway!                              Making a pitstop on the way to Bellingham.

The view of our unpacked truck from Zac and Zoe’s balcony.

The next day we were back at the house, finishing up in the garage and making one more trip to the donation station. Finally, on Friday July 19th, our Realtor listed the house for sale. We are leaving the area on August 1st, whether or not the house is sold. Over the remaining time we have here in Issaquah, we'll visit with friends, say our goodbyes, spend a day in Seattle and generally prepare to close this chapter of our lives.

Our house – ready for her new buyer  :)

We have had a wonderful 14 years in the Seattle area and it will always be home. But there is a big country out there and we are ready to go exploring!

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Estate Sale – Final Thoughts

haggle.137185450_std In my last post I mentioned the word "hellish" to describe the Estate Sale. Even though it was successful and accomplished our goal of getting rid of lots of stuff, I still think of the whole process as a hellish experience. I mean that in the big picture sense, as in human nature. Estate sales are ugly.

I was as emotionally detached as possible going into this thing and I had no regrets, but of course I still cared. I had a history with each item being sold, so I think it was impossible to be completely detached. The shoppers, on the other hand, have zero emotions about stuff until they buy it. They only care about what interests them and the deal they might get, everything else might as well be garbage and that's exactly how they treated things. It was a bit unsettling as a statement on human nature, or maybe just human nature at estate sales. I haven't quite figured it out yet, but I'm still shaking my head.

There were a few items in the garage that were tagged "NFS", as in Not For Sale. They got sold anyway along with a few shelves that were installed in the garage. I mean, the guy took a screwdriver and uninstalled fixtures! More head shaking.

You know that saying: one man's trash is another man's treasure? I think that cliché originated at an estate sale. I had an old - very old - suede jacket with fringe that was given to me by a child actor I went to high school with. Over the years, as it lost its importance in my life, it stayed packed away in the bottom of a closet. It was wrinkled and it didn't smell that great. I intended to throw it away, but the sale team thought someone might take it off my hands.

Early on the second day of the sale, as Steven and I were leaving the house, a woman hopped out of her car and hollered at us, "Are you the people who are selling? Tell me the story of that fringe jacket! I was the third person in yesterday and I bought it, what a treasure!"

I found out later that this lady frequents a lot of estate sales and the more I thought about her, the more I felt kind of sad. There were lots of folks just like her and I have no doubt some of them are known hoarders.  I'm not saying the sale team has any responsibility to intervene, they don't, but it's still a sad thing to witness.  I would have been happier if I had just thrown that jacket away.

Given that our goal was met and we were satisfied with the results, I am surprised that my feelings about the sale still linger. Those words - hellish, unsettling, ugly - are still with me. I'm sure they will pass, but I do know one thing - I hope I never again have to have an estate sale. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Big Sale

It's time to play catch up on the blog and bring you up-to-date on the goings on in our march to fulltiming freedom. And what a march it's been!

I might repeat myself here because frankly my mind is muddled and I can't remember where I left off - something about cleaning my master closet and getting ready for the estate sale.

Ah, yes. The estate sale. I recall saying something about being giddy at the idea that when it was over, our house would be empty and broom clean. hahahahaha! That did not happen. Apparently, in a moment of "frugal-ness" we decided not to check the box in our contract that would have resulted in said giddiness. Nope. Checking that little box would have cost a minimum of $1,000 over and above the percentage the estate sale company takes off the top. So yeah, I guess we had high hopes that everything would sell and that we could easily get rid of what little remained.

That was a pipe dream. While estate sale shoppers will buy anything, they won't buy everything. After the first day of the sale, when Steven and I returned home, we could not believe the amount of stuff that was still in our house. We both started to panic.

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PLEASE! Take our stuff!!

We told the estate sale team to do whatever they could to sell stuff. Everything had to go! We sent out messages to friends letting them know they were free to come over after the second day and take anything they wanted for free. And we arranged for Handyman George to arrive with his trash-hauling trailer as soon as the sale was over.

On both days of the sale we took the opportunity to move our things into Scoopy. That was a brilliant decision on our part because it gave us somewhere to go and it was productive. Best of all, it took our minds off the chaos happening at home. By the time the sale was over, we had all but moved in to our new home on wheels. We had envisioned that our move into Scoopy would comprise of unloading everything at once and then trying to unpack as we were living in the rig. Instead, we had loads of time to really organize everything.

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“The Chicken” escaped the big sale and now resides happily in Scoopy.

By the end of the second sale day, things were looking up. We returned home to find the majority of stuff gone but the place was trashed. There were still a few treasures left and we were happy that our friends snagged some nice things. The sale team got some good stuff too. We ended up taking four carloads to the donation station, mostly clothes, and George made a few trips to the dump. It was a lot of work but by Monday morning, when the cleaners arrived, we were ready for them.

While the cleaners worked hard getting the house shipshape, Steven took me to the Overlake Surgery Center for a colonoscopy. At first I was cursing myself for scheduling this in the midst of everything we had going on but, to be honest, I needed the rest. It was like a freakin' vacation to be knocked out for a while. All went well and by late afternoon, after scarfing down a huge burger on the way home from the hospital, we returned to an almost-empty and better-than-broom clean house. Giddiness ensued (no surviving photos of the colonoscopy for the blog, sorry).

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Almost empty. The end is near!

I say "almost empty" because we still had all of Zac's stuff that we'll be moving to Bellingham. Most of his stuff was moved to the garage and he just set up a little living area for himself out there. On top of everything else, Tara’s car had just been shipped to her new apartment in San Diego. The shipping company allows up to 400 pounds of “cargo” in the car so she stuffed everything she cared about in there. We also had another pile to bring to Scoopy. And, we still had a few crates of documents to go through. As much as we dread going through all those documents, time was now on our side. Kinda.

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Tara pines at the temporary loss of her car.             Zac sets up shop in the garage.

We've had a few folks ask us if we were happy with the results of our estate sale and if it was worth doing. For us, given our particular situation, yes and yes. Our goal was to get rid of everything in that house without having to pay someone to haul it off. So in that regard, it was a complete success.
Still, it was kind of hellish. More on that later.

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