Thursday, March 24, 2016

What I Wore, What I'm Selling, What I'm Making, What I'm Smelling. . . Really!


Here I am, last weekend, getting ready to leave our island home behind in its newly organised and cleaned state, ready to be viewed by potential buyers. A What I Wore shot in my mom's coat, my favourite sweater (Aritzia, yak, also seen here), skinny jeans and (Fluevog) boots. Also featuring the grey I've released in my hair over the last six months . . .  a process which I've promised to chat about in a future post. . .

As Pondside commented here, we have left the house now, at some emotional level. She claims it's the hardest part of selling and I'm going to believe her. It seems to be true that getting that sign up has meant letting go at some level, but I'm really glad that we were able to follow that action by spending a week in our city apartment with the delightful distraction of a granddaughter visiting from Rome, our other kids' families all gathering around that visit this coming weekend (as I type, I'm waiting for two toddler girls to arrive with their parents in tow).

I will say that the emotional waves threaten to swamp still and again. The market we are moving into has been a tough one since even before we bought this 500 square-foot place when Pater took a position in the city ten years ago. It's even more difficult now, Vancouver rated as one of the most unaffordable cities to live in in the world! -- 3rd most!  No question of looking for our new home until our island place is sold (No room for "subject to financing" clauses in this market, nor for any "subject to's" at all for that matter, and offers need to be made within hours of viewing and an offer isn't credible unless it's well above asking price). So we're appreciating our luck that we at least have this little perch, another "opportunity" to prune material goods and focus on what is really important.

Meanwhile, recognising, increasingly, the space limitations we're headed toward, I'm trying to reconcile myself to let go of the grand piano that my dad helped me find -- a grand is a bit of a stretch for a condo, right? (Pater keeps saying he thinks we can hold out for a place that will accommodate my Kawai, but I'm skeptical, and I think I need to do the emotional work now, in readiness.) And it's not as if I was managing to play very often, although getting my fingers back was definitely on my Things-To-Do-In-Retirement list. . .  And I've had a piano in the house since I was five, owned my own since I was 22. . . it's an identity thing. As are my books, of which I have about 120 linear feet of shelving full. . .

I've been thinking lots (and planning to write, eventually) about houses and material "stuff" and identity and commodity culture. . . all trying to rationalise my way to living with less, contentedly. Feeling foolish and privileged and guilty about it being a big deal at all when we've had so much for so long and will still have so much more than enough. But feelings are what they are, right? I'm processing -- I know already that some of you will jump in to reassure or to briskly dismiss or to commiserate. And I thank you for that, in anticipation. Really, though, I do know that it is going to be okay, better than okay. I just need to say some of the stuff I'm feeling out loud, speak back to it, rationalise feelings back into their corner, much smaller for having had an outing, and then I'll get on with it. 'cause over all, life really is good.

A little pointer, though. Should you ever list your house for sale, then plan to leave it two days later, do NOT. I repeat Do. Not! make up a batch of kimchi.

There is nothing about the smell of newly fermenting kimchi that is likely to heighten the appeal of your home for prospective buyers. So if you do make up such a batch happily slicing up cabbage and daikon and scallions, massaging salt into them, draining them, rubbing a spicy, fishsauce-aroma'd mix into the greens before packing the whole into a burpable glass container. . . . well, just know that as you pack up for the city, you will be carefully wrapping a lethal-smelling glass jar to bring along. And that once you get to your 500-square-foot apartment in that city, the burp you release from that jar, once or twice a day, will be enough to let most of the building know that you have Korean culinary propensities. At least, you might want to put signs up announcing that you do, because otherwise they might think your digestive issues really need to be addressed . . Just saying . . .

And on that charming note, I'm going to sign off in anticipation of some delightful visitors. One of our little ones has learned to walk since we last saw her. Oh, the joy!

Comments always so much appreciated. These days especially, thank you!

38 comments:

  1. I laugh to admit I have been thinking about your books, imagining how you might manage them...store? Purge? If purge, how? Read/not read? Current interest in topic/genre? Importance in past life/emotional attachment? I will wait to find out! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did an impressive purge of the books in my campus office last year, Georgia, and that was tough enough, and then I did one of the shelves at home about six months ago. I'm getting more realistic about what I might ever read again, given the diminishing time left and the oodles of new books, but I still have so many that I like to know I could reread if I really want to, and many that I just like to dip into occasionally to find a passage. Kobo/Kindle all very well, but my marginalia. . . I should write about this on my reading blog.

      Delete
  2. I laughed! Outloud! Kimchi!!! Really!?! I am happy to see this sense of humor as you face life changes and evaluation.
    E.N.J.O.Y. these days ahead as you are surrounded by all your loved ones! I hope that Vancouver has some vestige of Spring to remind you of this season of growth and renewal.
    Happy Spring...Charlene H.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A sense of humour is crucial, right?!
      And yes, Vancouver is beautifully bedecked in every sort of bloom right now, although the rain that keeps those blooms so pretty and fresh-looking is getting a bit tiresome. Today's going to feature sunshine though and it will be gorgeous -- Happy Spring to you as well!

      Delete
  3. So hard to leave a house so full of your life and memories, especially as you have nothing concrete in your mind to focus on. I have moved house so often in my life and my possessions have been constantly edited. You really don't miss the stuff you let go.

    For one move a few years ago, I had to put almost everything in storage and move to a temporary home with just basics and found it curiously liberating. Having said that, I do love my things and it was a real pleasure to rediscover them when I finally unpacked.

    Have a wonderful Easter with your wonderful family, Frances and good luck with the search for your new home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can imagine the liberation of that temporary home. So much care that goes along with all our "stuff."
      We did a crazy big purge when we moved from our last home (2400 square feet) to the 800-square-foot cottage we lived in -- yes, with the kids! -- until we renovated. By the time we had room --almost two years later -- to bring over the stuff we'd left in storage, much of it seemed irrelevant. Some boxes didn't get unpacked for years again after that. So in some ways, I welcome doing that again, although I'll be choosing very carefully what goes into the boxes.
      Thanks, and may your Easter be a happy family time as well, Marianne.

      Delete
  4. COOKIES, Francis, apple pies, Francis, not kimchi- is there a part of you being oppositional to selling that house- Mahahaha. Saying goodbye to your lovely home must surely be bitter sweet and the whole scalin g down thing comes with so many angles- good byes to old favorites, disgust our pack rattiness, reminders of our privilege when so many people in the world have nothing, guilt, guilt and yet sadness too and pleasure at the purging - a total chaotic turmoil of emotion. So wonderful to have those wonderful kids and grandkids for distraction. Good luck in the Vancouver market- I hear New West is more affordable. On the piano front- my brother, Ross, has had a baby grand in his place always, even in a house that was about 500 square feet- it is possible- of course he plays non stop as a professional musician - piano, sax, flute, keyboard, recording eqipment- are his furniture. Happy Easter.

    I am currently house sitting and caring for two high maintenance dogs, as well as my own bit of trouble pooch- a blog on the Misadventures of the Amateur Housesitter may be in order. Haha!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer, right?
      New West'r is my back-up plan (it's my home town, actually, and we bought our first home there -- a cute little house we could barely afford to buy today!). Not quite "city" enough for what we want over the next (last!) couple of decades, but it has potential in some areas.
      Have fun with the house-sitting and the pups -- I'm sure you're much appreciated.

      Delete
  5. Kimchi!!!One of our neighbours has a grand piano in the apartment (980 Sq. ft.)
    We moved into this apartment 20 years ago when we started to live together. We often have the big amp in the living room and I am waiting for Brian to stop tending to his guitar so that I can organize my French materials for my student.
    Vancouver is a crazy market with busloads of buyers bidding properties up. You are lucky to have the apartment close to family so that you can visit. You will eventually find the right home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good to hear of people who keep big pianos in relatively small spaces. My daughter's husband is a musician as well, and their city apartment is similarly full of instruments and amplifying equipment. And there must be many others doing the same thing -- most musicians aren't making the money that would give them much space in this goofy market!

      Delete
  6. Oh my gosh, that's hilarious! You really had no choice but to take the kimchi with you!

    The only experience I have had with Vancouver real estate is watching the tv show 'Motive' - wow, some lovely houses in beautiful settings! I really hope that your house sells quickly so that you can get going with finding a new home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The only choice was putting it in the fridge, which would have dampened the fermenting bacteria's enthusiasm completely and defeated the whole purpose. . . Not sure what I was thinking!
      It's true, Patricia -- there are some wonderful neighbourhoods here -- our natural backdrop of mountains and oceans, with enough rain (!!) to keep vegetation lush and green, a gardening zone the rest of the country can only dream of. . . but those mountains also mean there is limited area and there is a great deal of off-shore investment.

      Delete
  7. Keep the piano, ditch the books. Kindle and libraries will provide if needs be, but there's no substitute for something that has been part of you for so long

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably good advice, although so many of my books are full of my notes, also a part of me. . . but perhaps a part that's likely just to sit on the shelf whereas the piano I can actually play. We'll see...

      Delete
  8. oh my. Kimchi! Your sense of humour is what I'll take from this post.
    The Vancouver market is crazy. Our Vancouver kids are contemplating purchasing something here in Victoria for the future as they cannot even fathom getting into the market over there. I'll agree with Pater and say hold onto the piano until you really really have to let it go.
    Happy Easter, Mater. Enjoy your wonderful family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lorrie. I'm so grateful for humour these days! ;-)
      Sounds as if the Vancouver market works in your favour if it pushes your kids back to Victoria! One of ours is currently thinking of a house in your city; it's very tough for young people even to find a two-bedroom condo they can afford here, and there are scarcely any three-bedrooms. No houses under a million (or if there are, you'll have spent a million before they're reno'd).
      Happy Easter to you as well, Lorrie, and to your family. I suspect we'll enjoy some lovely photos of the weekend over on your blog.

      Delete
  9. We used to make sauerkraut at home,so I'm kind of familiar with the smell- but really- ,just before leaving? Hilarious!
    I didn't know this about the market in V.,but know the situation in London,it must be similar. In the end,with your house sold and apartement-because the selling must be also good then,no?- everything would be fine. Good luck! Think once again about piano-if you would have enough place in the future? And if it is important to you?
    When the war was over I decided to donate a couple of bags of my cherished books to libraries that were destroyed. It was very hard,with some tears,but from that moment-it was a tipping point,unthinkable before- I decided to give away almost every book that we finished reading,to my friends
    It is very easy now,but it has to be immediatelly
    Happy Easter to you and your family Frances!
    And to your readers too- or Happy Spring! ( thank you Charlene for an idea!)
    Dottoressa

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sauerkraut, yes, also very pungent, although without the extra charm of the garlic and the fish sauce ;-)
      I think London might be even worse, although perhaps it's easier to get into the city by efficient transit from affordable suburbs. Here, the bridges mean horrid traffic and many commuters drive 90 minutes morning and night. Ugh!
      I think we will be careful about the piano, think long and hard about it, but I really like what you say about your books, and I think that letting go can be a very worthwhile process/experience. I have been thinking quite a bit about the impulse to collect, to hold on to, and although I'm suspicious of the KonMari (blithe!) approach to sorting by the concept of joy-sparking, it's very clear most of us keep too much.
      Happy Easter and Happy Spring to you as well! Is Zagreb beginning to blossom now?

      Delete
    2. Thank you! Zagreb is beautiful,almost all is blossoming,only with a lot of rain but we are having sunny Easter Saturday so far (a little bit chilly because of very early Easter)
      D.

      Delete
  10. Kimchi! How wonderful! How redolent of the complexities and messiness of life....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, that it is, Mardel, redolent it is indeed! ;-)

      Delete
  11. I left behind an AGA cooker, which I miss, but I tell myself it really was no longer needed for a family of two. There is always someting, in anyone's move, that hurts to leave. You will likely feel better when you have found your new home, there is a magnetic pull towards that mitigates the wrench of leaving.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An AGA! That would be tough to say good-bye to, especially for your foodie family of great cooks.
      I agree that there is something about the process of making a new home that will mitigate against the losses, and I'm trying not to be impatient about getting to that next stage. And I'm really glad we decided to do this now while we still have energy and tolerance for discomfort that might be tougher to find ten or fifteen years from now.

      Delete
  12. I agree with Ceri above, never mind the books but keep the piano. I perfectly understand your desire to keep those books which have a special meaning for you, but (judging from my own situation) I am sure there are still quite a few left which you "might like" to look into again, but in fact never will. Whereas the piano seems to be part of you plans - playing more as soon as you get the time (and a move is not the right moment to know when and how much that will be). It seems a pity to curtail those future options.
    Enjoy the spring and the sunshine, I say,(while my garden doesn't yield anything colourful beyond snowdrops and crocuses and I can see one rainshower after the other advancing across a leaden lake towards me.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's true, Eleonore, the emotional swings provoked by a move probably interfere with the discernment I need to decide about the piano. Of course, moving it from the island and storing it until we find a new place will not be cheap, and I can't help but wonder if I should just cut the losses. But more and more I'm leaning to hanging on for now (at the very least, the market for selling it will be better in the big city anyway).
      Snowdrops and crocuses are colourful enough, especially against the leaden tones of lakewater under rainy skies. Sounds quite beautiful to me.

      Delete
  13. Your comment about knowing it will be okay, that you just need to talk/write about all this stuff really rings true for me. I'm a yakker from way back. If I lived in the UK, people might say I could "talk for England." And sometimes, even when I'm okay with events that are happening, I still need to "process externally" as a colleague once commented. And often people don't get that. They want to help and jump in with comforting solutions. And I know they're just trying to help...but... I really want to say..."I get all that. I'm not really upset. Just shut-up and let me talk." But that would be mean. And insensitive. The other day when Stu and I were talking about something which I had long-ago processed and accepted, the tears ran down my face, and he said incredulously, "Are you crying?" "NO!" I replied, "I just leaking. I'm good. really."
    Carry on talking, internet Buddy, and leak on-line whenever you darned well want!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. P.S. And be sure to hang onto that wonderful coat!

      Delete
    2. Ah, Susan, were we separated at birth?!
      You've expressed what I do exactly -- my husband has finally figured out that he doesn't need to be in Problem-Solving mode, just needs to listen. (actually, the latter is much tougher for him, poor fellow!

      Delete
  14. The thought of purging books makes my heart race. It's so hard to downsize and choose but it sounds like you've got this one. Good luck! We keep toying with the idea of buying in Vancouver, but the prices are so brutal!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I admire/envy your ability to 'talk it out'. It brings order to what can be random and jumbled in our minds, and often brings solutions. I can see that, because although my tendency is the opposite (and why I'm stalling on a planned post about 'the future' on my blog), my daughter does exactly what Susan in her comment above describes. I always want to jump in as she's talking and 'help' her, but that's not what she needs. She talks through the problem, and ends up with a solution or strength to get through whatever it is if it can't be solved. I'm glad for her - but meantime I've taken on the problem and can't get rid of it in my mind!
    Sorry to hear about your piano dilemma. How about a baby grand - would that fit? Or (joking) switch to playing the harp. We don't have a piano in our house, but we do have a large Celtic harp (daughter's), which is slimline and takes up very little floor space. It is residing with us this year because her student house in a medieval university town is too cold for it - the strings kept breaking. I agree that the books are non-negotiable. How do you categorise yours on the shelves? It drives my husband mad that mine are all mixed together, gardening books with travel writing, and even madder that I know where every title is. Are you influenced by your academic self and have them Dewey system stored, or by broad category/size/colour...? You may be able to have fun with space-saving shelving solutions in a smaller flat, for example surrounding and above a door, masses of shelving in the loo, a bookcase as a room divider in a large space. Would love to hear more!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Linda -- I appreciate that perspective as I can often feel my "talking it out" to be annoyingly superfluous. And I have to chuckle about your daughter "sharing" her problem, letting go of it but passing it along to you. I remember that stage so well with mine, and I have to admit I'm relieved to be past it. They'd call, probably having found a spare half hour to chat with mom, and they would tell me some problem or other to tell me about, which would often involve them sobbing and me trying to console them from 1000 kilometres away, and then a friend would come to pick them up, and they'd chirp, "Well, thanks for listening, Mom," and head out for an evening of fun while I was left at home fretting. ;-)
      The piano solution is one that will have to wait until we buy, I think. I may have to switch back to an upright or take up the recorder, to take your solution and make it even more compact. As for the books, I am keeping an eye out for innovative housing -- perhaps a single library wall, with one of those fabulous ladders on a rail! -- but again, I guess I have to wait to see what space we end up with. . . (and btw, I arrange the fiction alphabetically, also the poetry, memoirs, but there are also sub-categories, and then there are the many different non-fiction topics, as you well know...

      Delete
  16. The All-of-a-kind family's sauerkraut memories come to mind !

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh, Mater! I haven't commented in such a long time but your comment about the kimchi in the midst of your move made me laugh - something I haven't done much lately. We've just made our own temporary move while waiting for our new home to be available - and yes! - I have a fresh batch of kimchi!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Frances, as a longtime (but shy) admirer of your blog, I feel compelled to chime in here with Ceri. With all due respect for your decision to sell the Kawai, I beg you to reconsider. :) I sold my violin before leaving Vancouver for a new job in Lyon, because I thought I was making the laudably sensible decision of giving new life to an instrument I had barely touched in recent years, and raising some additional funds for the move. But I've had such severe pangs of regret!! Sometimes it's ok to honor sentimental choices, or at least that's been the lesson for me.
    Bon courage with the move!
    PS: Your kimchi looks mighty fine, as good as my mom's. And her kimchi technique has been honed over 35+ years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for overcoming shyness and encouraging me to hang on to my piano a bit longer. I must admit that the temptation of a job in Lyon (lucky you!) would tip me over into selling it, but I can anticipate how much regret I'd feel. Are you saving up for a new violin?
      I'm tickled at the kimchi compliment, although obviously a taste test is lacking and I know your mom would win hands-down. Does she always make the same kind or are there different ingredients occasionally?

      Delete

I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...