Will it Last?

It took 43 years of living on the West Coast, and then moving back to the Midwest to realize this is where we belong. After living in big Cities, the small town is a wonderful experience. No traffic, no homeless, no riots, cheerful workers everywhere, the grocery stores, the restaurants, hardware stores, retail, and even in the government buildings (most of the time, except for the DMV), but also not much shopping to speak of. It seems everyone wants to have a conversation and are genuinely interested in what you have to say. It’s beautiful here with the ever changing lakes, so many of them, each with their own personality. The thunderstorms, the owls at night, the loons, why did it take us so long to move? When you’ve lived on the West Coast as long as we have, it’s pretty scary to move back to a small midwestern town with a season called winter. It could snow any day and we don’t have coats or boots or gloves or a Yeti cup to keep our drinks warm. Will we hate the winter? Time will tell.

Our remodel starts in a week. We’re now moving back into my Aunt’s house. We didn’t think we moved much into our house as there are still boxes piled in the garage, but we moved in more than we thought and now we’re taking it all out again. It will be worth it, the longer you wait for something, the more you appreciate it as the saying goes and I know that’s true. Meanwhile we can hop on over to Nelson, a small town of about 150 people which has a bar called the Corral that attracts people from all over. Why? At this bar you can “shoot the minnow” The bartender will drop a minnow into a shot glass with the beverage of your choice, usually Tequila. If you can swallow that minnow in one gulp you get a tee shirt that says: “I Shot the Minnow.” Now how is that for small town America?

No Going Back

We did it, turned our lives upside down again, but this time the change is huge. We went from living for 43 years on the West Coast to the Midwest where we both came from, albeit different States. One of us a gopher and one of us a badger. We have left our kids on the West Coast and hope our change is enticing enough for them to spend a great deal of the summer here.

We moved to the land of lakes, unlocked doors, cream horns, thunderstorms, hooting owls, loons, and…winter. Alexandria, MN is a small town in the winter and a large town in the summer as there are 41 lakes in the area. We got very lucky with an off market deal as there was absolutely nothing for sale here and there still isn’t.

We were here in May and after two weeks of seeing nothing, were ready to leave when our realtor got a listing from an older couple who lived in a great location on a big lake but wouldn’t be able to get the property on the market for a couple of months as they had so much stuff. Maybe they’d let us see it. She got them to agree and we saw it for about 30 minutes where it was hard to get past all the stuff which included a 6′ tall curio cabinet full of moose figurines. But we liked the feel of the place right away and maybe were so excited to finally see something that we left and made an offer the same day, convinced we’d never see anything else. They accepted our offer mainly because they wouldn’t have to put the place on the market and have time, with professional help, to clear it out. Three days later we had a house.

We rushed back to Portland to put our house on the market, and our realtor was out of town. She got it on the market as soon as she came back and it sold right away. Now we had 30 days to pack and leave. We’ve moved a few times, so why was this so hard? Several friends helped us pack and somehow we got it done. We drove both our cars out to Alexandria and at some point our daughter sent us a pending Redfin listing and said “I think this is your house.” It was. It was empty and sort of horrifying to look at the pictures and to realize how big it was. “Did we really buy this place?” I asked Tom. It didn’t look all that great. We don’t have nearly enough furniture for a place like that, maybe we should have asked them to leave all those moose.

We’ve been here almost two months, back and forth between my Aunt’s house, cousin’s house and finally, our house. Although we’re living here right now, we have to move out soon as there is so much work to be done. All the floors have to be replaced, everything painted, the kitchen we thought looked ok really is not ok and has to be replaced. Orange formica countertops anyone? A big built- in aquarium, popular in the 70’s but not now, has to be dealt with and a wall has to be taken out to get a better view of the lake. There is so much more, but let’s not get carried away here! We’re moving out again back to my Aunt’s, so the remodel can begin. We have the garage filled with boxes which we’re living out of. Finding clothes is hard but my Aunt who’s 93 said: “Oh honey, you can just wear my clothes.”

Most people around here leave in the wintertime. But we’re going to tough it out. Maybe we’ll love it. Snowshoeing, pickle ball, bowling and maybe even a little snowmobiling. Then there’s always ice fishing.

What was your biggest move? Would you do it again?

Not Again!

How do you go from liking where you live to not liking it? When does it get to be too late in life to make a change or is it never too late? Or do you just wake up one day and decide this is not the place you want to die? And if this is not the place you want to die or be left in if your spouse dies, then what? Where is that place? And for God’s sake, at this point in your life, why haven’t you yet found it?

Was it the pandemic? the riots, the destruction of downtown Portland? the homeless? All of it of course. But we don’t live downtown so it doesn’t affect us I’ve been told. Oh but it does as we are close to downtown and always went there for dinner and shopping and doctors and dentists and especially to take visitors to see what all was wonderful about where we live. Will it get better? Not for a long time. However, we do have lots of friends here and the first five years were a great experience. But it sure seems to be over.

So if not here, where? Is it the small Minnesota lake town that we visited last summer for a month? The land of cream horns, unlocked doors, thunderstorms and bad coffee? But isn’t there winter there? Lots of snow, big drifts, very cold weather, ice fishing and stuff like that? The relatives I have there smartly leave in the wintertime and go to places like Phoenix and San Diego, but one house is enough for us so we would be sort of stuck. Besides, we’re big City people, we’ve never lived in a small town other than the one each of us grew up in. So if not there, where?

All of America is on the move, literally. Is it really possible to find a home in a place you would consider moving where you know you’d be buying at the top prices ever recorded. It’s just so easy to stay put. We love our house, a move is very daunting, we have friends, the weather is usually comfortable, it snows rarely, the medical care is excellent and we’re old. What the heck! Let’s do it anyway! Stay tuned.

When in your life is it too late to move?

A Metaphor For Life

Waiting our turn to tee off, Tom and I watched as our friend Tom A., dribbled his third drive right into the Barranca bushes about 6 feet in front of us.  I started to giggle as he threw down his club and started swearing ,face red.  Tom S. yelled at him,  “It’s just a game!”  Tom A. turned and shouted “Golf is not a game it’s a metaphor for life!”

But think about it and he’s right.  Both golf and life are full of strife.

You stand at the tee, take your swing and hope for the best. When all of a sudden your ball heads way west. Go north, go north you shout but it seems your ball doesn’t want that route. It’s the grip, the stance, head down, follow through. If you get those right, your balls flies north for you. Which mistake did I make or did I make them all? Forget it, don’t think the experts say, but thinking I’m doing on this day. Golf and life require some luck, so when that Westward ball comes, prepare to duck.

For golf is just like life in every way.  Ups and downs, failure, success.  Usually life is a great big mess.  You move to places you would not have gone, and sometimes these places can be all wrong.  You went West instead of North, or South instead of East.  But you strive to make the best of it at least.  Things will get better your Mother said and she was right.  You get that break, full steam ahead, success fully in sight.

In golf a 4 putt, there is nothing worse. Standing over that putt, hands shaking, thinking, just do away with me now, send out for the hearse. In life, 4 putts happen all the time, it does you no good to moan and whine. So get up on that tee, take a big full swing, then watch your life and your ball really take wing.

Tiny Tips for your New Year’s Resolutions

Can a tiny baking set help you with your New Years Resolutions? Yes, I think so.  I am here to tell you how.  We all make the same resolutions year after year.  Lose weight, eat healthier, exercise, meditate  to reduce stress.  Well, over the Holidays I discovered  the perfect weight loss and stress relief program for you.  It’s called “Tiny Cooking.”  But first you need the tiny cookware and you can get many versions of it here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=tiny+baking&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

This set makes food you bake in a real oven, but because it’s so tiny, you can indulge yourself.  What can you make with this set?  We were at our daughter’s for Christmas and one of the twins got a set.  We made wee cinnamon rolls and chocolate chip cook-wees. You can also make a Teeny Frittata, Deep Dish Pizza and many other teeny things. Do you like to eat cookie dough?  Well, forget it.  There will be none left for the cook-wees.  Calories saved.  The cook-wees are pretty wee, so more calories saved.  And rolling out dough for the cinnamon rolls with that tiny rolling pin will take stress magically away. God knows we need stress reduction these days.   Trying to whip up butter and flour in a tiny mixing bowl is great exercise. To reduce the stress you might need to move the ingredients from the tiny bowl (where whipping up ingredients might be considered torture to some), to a little bigger one. And oh the instructions, a wee spoon of this and two wee spoons of that.  What stress relief.  It’s amazing, but you bake these tiny cookies and rolls in the regular oven at the same temperature and time as the regular size.

And here is a picture of most of us enjoying a chocolate chip cook-wee.  Don’t blink or you won’t pick out the actual cook-wee, but everyone is holding one up.  I don’t think you can tell me this isn’t a diet bonanza and a great stress reducer.

Did you make your resolutions?  Why not add tiny baking to those resolutions?

 

December Meltdowns

Twas several days before Christmas and all through the land, women lay weeping while  husbands were sleeping instead of giving a helping hand.  

The hours spent toiling and baking galore, nothing it seems was too big a chore.  She glances at her husband whose snoring grew louder, as he rolled right over to instantly crowd her.  She leapt out of bed and yelled “I’m finished, I’m done.  This Christmas it seems is not a lot of fun.”  Morning came early, so early it seemed.

The gifts, the cards, the decorating you see, the responsibility for that is all on me.  And I gazed at the pile of gifts to wrap as Tom sat in his chair taking a long winter’s nap.  I fumed, I steamed, I was furious you see, but I calmed down a little as I looked at my tree.  I took a deep breath, and sat down instead, and picked up the newspaper and here’s what it said:

Page 2 of the Saturday/Sunday Wall Street Journal, December 12-13

“SLOPPY WRAPPING CAN MAKE FOR BETTER GIFTS”  Jessica Rixom, assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Nevada, Reno led a study on the impact of neat vs sloppy gift wrapping.  The researchers conducted three experiments and all three with diverse groups of people found that the sloppily wrapped packages delivered more satisfaction to the recipient.  Why?  Because they lowered expectations.  The same gift, one wrapped neatly and one wrapped sloppily.  The neatly wrapped packages led to higher expectations about the gift and disappointment.  I was ecstatic!  No more excuses from Tom about not knowing how to wrap, therefore he couldn’t possibly wrap.  Now with him wrapping the gifts  for our family, they  would elicit low expectations and everyone would be much happier with the gift.  Manna from heaven.

I went over to Tom, threw the paper in his lap, “wake up” I said, you’re done with your nap.  The despair on his face was plain to see, as he walked into the room and saw gifts meant for me.

I grabbed a glass of eggnog, sat down by my tree, what a wonderful season this turned out to be.

I do have to give Tom credit for putting up the outside lights.  He doesn’t enjoy it but he does it.  He even helped a neighbor’s wife put up their outdoor lights as her husband refused to do it.  In fact when Tom went into their house to look for him, he found him sitting in a chair muttering “I hate Christmas, I hate Christmas.”   Whatever you celebrate this year I hope you have a wonderful Holiday and a happy, vaccinated New Year!