Tag Archives: seniors

The BIG Move

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moving-cartoonAfter Mucking Out the Memories, I continue to trudge forward into the final stages of my downsizing saga. I’ll exit this series with a dishonorable discharge for the actual move itself. At this point, I hadn’t unclenched my back-teeth for two months and my neck felt like a cement post.   After I continue to trudge forward into the final stages of my downsizing saga. I’ll exit this series with a dishonorable discharge for the actual moveitself. At this point, I hadn’t unclenched my back-teeth for two months and my neck felt like a cement post.

The right moves: I did all the requisite things, like getting several estimates and performing a surgical evaluation of each moving company. I avoided the shady list of truck-gorillas whose reputations screamed – you pack ’em, we crack ’em! Instead, I chose three large international moving firms who I thought would be well versed in the art of changing spaces – and in the delicate handling of downsizer-shock and aging boomers-in-motion.

The wrong moves: In the final analysis, my selection wasn’t based on the cheapest bid or the strongest company – but foolishly on charisma, enthusiasm and promises. I was especially taken in by one particularly skilled salesperson, with a fresh young face and flawless pitch. She made my much-dreaded move sound so blissfully effortless. 

All hat and no cattle: Like a moth to the headlights of a moving van – I fell dreamily under the spell of this fast-talking wonder-woman. She said all the right things and I was eagerly sucked into the great abyss of her promises; pain-free packing and professional transport. But once the contract was signed, I soon found out that my fresh-faced girl, along with her company…was all truck and no wheels…all box and no cardboard…all pitch and no punch…well, you get my drift.

Now let’s be fair: I’m sure all moving companies are not the same. But the one I selected said it prided itself on customer service. And they were polite – I’ll give them that. It was the follow through and quality of their work that was a dismal failure. The company’s human resource department should be very proud. Every staff member I encountered was exceptionally friendly and courteous, while they lied like hell, ignored my instructions, threw my furniture around like frisbees and stuffed my treasured wedding dress into a jam cupboard.

The Highlights:

1…Planned ahead: The survival kit we packed to take with us in the car was invaluable. We included things like: bedding for the first night, linens, kettle, cups, wine, glasses, paper towels, clothes, wine, pills, toiletries, address book, t-towels, wine, dish soap, cleaning supplies etc. The bottom line, is bring the wine!

2…Followed the rules: We were careful to determine the condo rules before moving day and communicated these in detail to our mover. This included approved moving days and times, elevator reservation forms, maximum truck size and restrictions to the delivery access route. The mover ignored my instructions and our truck was turned back at the gate. It was too large to access the loading docks at our condo building. I’d like to hurl, that fresh-faced girl!

3…Held our breath: As the movers carried in our belongings, stuff was falling out of cartons because the cheap packing tape they used had come unglued. There were several deep gouges in our furniture, broken knobs on a custom hutch and my writing desk had been split open and glued back together. Such careless work! I went berserk!

4…Bossed the crew: Like a traffic cop, I directed movers to place furniture where I wanted it. I had them stack most of the boxes in areas less-used, like the spare bedroom and dining room. We kept our bedroom and kitchen as clear as possible. Don’t eat and sleep, under a heap! 

5…Held our ground:
After unloading (a day late) the movers presented us with forms to sign. Despite the pressure, we signed for delivery only – and not for damages. It took us weeks to check everything as we unpacked – and then we duked it out for several months to settle our claim. Oh happy day! We made them pay!    

Give me a break! The morning after the move we ignored the mess – and took off for my sister’s cottage. The stacks of bloated boxes didn’t go away while we were gone. But we had time to escape the madness and refresh our sanity.

Reality bites: When we returned home, my desk was still in pieces on the floor, the knobs were still hacked off my dining room hutch, we had nowhere to put our big-ass TV, and my bunched-up wedding dress was still jammed in the jam cupboard. But I kept my chin up as I knuckled down and chanted my coping-mantra…this too shall pass…like noxious gas! 

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene                   

10 Tips for Mucking Out the Memories

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Yard Sale CartoonThe sequel to my Downsize This post.

So after that grisly marriage-blasting, nerve pinching experience of selling our big-ass house and downsizing our worldly attachments – here we are a year later happily ensconced in our condo. Thankfully, I no longer see that goggle-eyed, crazed woman staring back in the mirror.

Our little storage locker is chock-full of Christmas decorations, photo albums and fishing gear. Nothing else. It’s amazing how we boiled it all down to the bones and survived the madness. Do I miss the rest? Sometimes, but mostly there’s an incredible sense of relief; a simple freedom in de-cluttering our lives.

Top 10 things I learned:                              

  1. Make a Floor Plan: We measured each piece of furniture and made cut-outs so we could move them around on the floor plan like a doll house. This was a great way to see what furniture would be the best fit in our new place. Warning: not recommended for sissies. Big screen TV’s and well-loved recliners may not be condo-worthy.

  2. Test the size of your locker: Measure your locker and make an outline on the floor, like they do for dead bodies. After much pushing, pulling and pouting, we stacked the things we couldn’t part with in this space – like a precarious block of Lego’s. If it didn’t fit, it didn’t get on the moving truck. Proceed with caution: can be deadly to relationships.

  3. No storage wars!Sometimes when the pushing, pulling and pouting didn’t work and we reached an impasse on what to keep, we were tempted to cheat and rent an off-site storage locker. Fortunately, our daughter arrived in full swat-gear to talk us down from the ledge. When it’s stored, it gets ignored!

  4. Beware of auction houses! The two companies we used were shockingly dishonest by controlling bids to fall within their highest commission parameters – and by directing some sales to their friends – or to their spouses for resale in their own shops. Make a detailed list before you give them anything. Then kiss your assets good-bye.

  5. Check your collectables:  We checked sculptures, paintings, carvings, china, etc., for signatures and markings – and tried to determine the value by checking the internet. A sort-of-do-it-ourselves ‘Antiques Road Show.’ The money’s in the details; the devil’s in the dark.

  6. Get a long closing date would have given us time to sell more stuff online. As it was, we were pressured into hustling our belongings out the door, like unwanted houseguests. Remember the Rule of Three: a minimum of 3 months for closings and a maximum of 3 nights for visitors. Don’t get them confused!

  7. Have a yard sale: This was a great way to recycle. We priced to sell, grouped similar items together and the bargain-pickers were lined up around the block. We sold everything! The boxes of “Free Stuff” we put at the end of the drive was a big hit. They took that too and saved us a trip to the dump. My garage runneth empty; my fanny-pack runneth full…of coins.

  8. Hawk your stuff:  I made a list of everything I had for sale and emailed or handed it out to everyone I could. Friends, relatives, real estate contacts, trades people, the new buyers etc. I sold lots of stuff this way. Be bold. You’ve gotta tell to make it sell.

  9. Book donations: Parting with books wasn’t easy. But a targeted donation can help to ease the pain of separation anxiety. For example, I donated several boxes of children’s books to a local Ronald MacDonald House, and a collection of creative writing books to my high-school teacher-niece, who made a special library for herself and her students. ‘Tis a far far better thing I do…than I have ever done hoarding my books.

  10. Think Charities: These were great places to donate clothing and household goods. Many agencies picked up right at my door. Recycling and consignment shops were also good options, but they had lots of restrictions on what they would take. A bit of homework was needed, but worth the effort. So when in doubt, don’t throw it out.

Final word: While mucking out the memories was one of the most difficult things I have ever done, the memories themselves are surprisingly alive and kicking up dust bunnies. The good news is – I love that a lot of our stuff has been recycled to someone out there. The bad news is – I hate that a lot of our stuff has been recycled to someone out there. It all depends on the day.                                            

Now as I sit and write this rhyme,
I look back on those days in time,
Remembering how we were stressed,
And acting like two fools possessed.

So here’s the moral to my tale;
Don’t put your big-ass-house for sale!
Stay where you are until you’re dead,
The kids can muck it out instead.

See you between the lines and on Twitter @PatSkene

Check out my children’s books at www.pressheretostartpublishing.com

Email: take me off your list!

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Nothing rattles my hard drive like finding a bucket of junk in my email basket. What is it about cyber-mail that makes perfectly sane people spam their friends and co-workers with information they would never even consider putting a stamp on?

Don’t get me wrong. I love email. As a writer, I can’t imagine my life without it. But shouldn’t we exercise the same etiquette in this correspondence medium as we do in regular snail-mail? 

I ask myself…why would intelligent, professional and otherwise reasonable people, think nothing of forwarding bad jokes, threatening chain letters and inspirational mush to an entire personal address book? Imagine the effects on productivity in the workplace and the frustration of any busy email user, who has to weed through the milieu of mischief to get to the important stuff.

And we seniors are often the biggest offenders. Many aging boomers have computers, but don’t have a clue what to do with them other than send jokes around the globe. And while some of that is fine, most of it isn’t. Read the rest of this entry