Thursday, April 21, 2016

Out with the Old, In with the New (Someday Soon, Please?)

Notice something missing? My favourite reading chair and matching ottoman were hauled off to the back of a neighbour's truck yesterday -- this move is happening!
 Duchesse asked, in the comments section of the last post, how the logistics of small-island life are affecting our move -- in particular, she wondered about sourcing boxes and getting rid of larger pieces of furniture. The boxes are easy enough, say I, who leaves the task to Pater (and fairly enough, he'll tell you, having accepted a contract that will have him away from home for most of the time available for packing!). We can't drive them right to the door, it's true, but he carried the first ten he bought at a U-Haul "in town," flat-pack, home from the boat on the front of his bike (isn't bungy cord wonderful?).  Pater even assembled them for me to fill, before he headed off across the country. Generous like that! (I'm mostly kidding -- he laboured long and hard for several days before he left,carting lumber and old wheelbarrows, bikes, broken and ancient furniture, twenty-four years' of crawlspace storage, a heap of junk, in other words, out to the roadside for pick-up and disposal by our local expediters.

Getting rid of the junk, then, was hard physical work. Getting rid of the good stuff is taking more finesse. Duchesse is perceptive -- much of our furniture will not make sense in whatever new space we find (yes! it would be so much easier if we were able to find and buy that space first!).  Big, comfortable pieces that we chose and consciously invested in, buying quality that would last, and hence, pieces it will cost a bit to replace.  Selling them on a small island, with a very limited market (there might be 400 people living here, especially in the summer, but perhaps not quite yet) was never going to be as likely nor as lucrative as selling them in the city. On the other hand, hauling them to the city and putting them in storage until they're sold is costly and there's also the added risk of dents and dings along the way.

So I made a list -- isn't that always the best way to start a daunting project -- and then I catalogued the pieces we wanted to let go of; searched my files for their original purchase prices;  calculated a fair and realistic price; and photographed them, Finally, I wrote up a description, accompanied with the photos and sent it out in an email to our Island Listserv, posting it simultaneously on our Island Community's Facebook page.  Within ten minutes, I got emails, Facebook IMs, phone calls, and folks knocking at my door.  Suffice it to say that my wallet is fuller, my house emptier.

There are a few big pieces we will keep, some simply because the market here is too small to get anywhere near a price that would make sense. Our dining table and chairs, Mission/Stickley style, hand-built by a local master craftsman from reclaimed antique oak, are unlikely to work in an urban condo, but no one on the island is going to pay even the minimum that would make sense for these, so we'll wait and sell them in the city. We really like our whiskey-coloured Natuzzi leather love seats, and there's a good chance at least one of them will fit in a condo living-room. We're loathe to part with the teak bedroom furniture we only bought a few years ago and are, honestly, crazy about. I suspect it may have to be replaced, though, OR at least be whittled down by at least one teak dresser. So I put it on our For Sale list, but with a price sufficient to make it worth giving up, and so far (we're not so secretly relieved), no takers. The grand piano, you may be curious to know, is coming with us -- its fate needn't be decided yet. Overall, despite these remaining big pieces, divesting ourselves of a big swack of indoor and, especially, outdoor furniture, has reduced our moving and storage costs significantly.

This makes a difference, because to move from the island requires that moving trucks be brought over by a barge, which requires a tug to guide it safely to the dock, which operation requires consultation of a tide chart. Hefty charges are paid for each hour that said barge waits, empty and idle, for the trucks to be filled before they drive back on the barge for their ride back across the water. Letting go of some furniture that wouldn't suit a condo well anyway is a very good thing. But oh, I will miss that dark green leather armchair and ottoman in which I spent so many completely satisfying hours.

To move on from the missing, though, I've begun daydreaming about what I might replace that chair with, what sleeker yet still superbly comfortable seat might cradle my reading self in our next home.  And before I go back to sorting household small goods into Keep, Sell, and Giveaway piles, I thought you might like to know that my chair daydreaming took me on a little jaunt back to Rome.

Remember the day I got my sad self out of my Roman hotel room and out for a long walk, past delectable shop windows lined up along narrow curved streets. . . and I happened upon a red leather bracelet?  Well, that wonderful workshop, which the very kind and helpful gentleman pictured below allowed me to photograph, obviously turns out so much more than leather bracelets (which, I suspect are merely a way of using up pieces left over from much larger projects).


 Indeed, after I'd used my very limited Italian to stammer out a query about the bracelet, and it had been fitted around my wrist, then trimmed to a more appropriate length, then had several new fastening holes added (that's what's happening at the worktable above), the gentleman in the photo (is he the Dario, do you think, whose name is on the shop window?) fitted it on my wrist again, took my fifteen euros, and just as I turned to leave, he handed me a small, soft leather tag with the shop name, address, and website information stamped on it.
 Dario Alfonsi, it said, and I tucked it into my purse and almost forgot about it. Coming across it again, when I unpacked back home, the fragrance of the leather brought me back to that workshop, and I made sure to put it in a safe place. Finally, a week or so ago, I remembered it again, and I typed the website URL into my browser: alfonsidario.it. And oh my, there are some Very. Delicious. Chairs! on that website. In Absolutely. Scrumptious. Colours!! Much smaller profiles, cosmopolitan-urban, completely different from the comforting heaviness of my old, traditional club chair, and I know I'd have to sit for a while to see if I might find one of these chairs comfortable enough for an hour or so of reading.

And, oh dear, I'd have to go to Rome again to do that testing. But, as you know, I have a daughter, son-in-love (to be a son-in-Law before long -- my daughter's recently added a shiny bit of jewelry to her fourth finger, left hand) and heart-grabbing granddaughter living in Rome.
 Feel free to pop over to the Dario Alfonsi website and let me know which chairs I should break my "carry-on only" travel rule for . . .  Although it looks as if they're happy to ship internationally . . .

And really, anything that comes out of such a beautiful workshop must be worth carrying across a continent and ocean or so, don't you think?

It may be that this is a completely impractical daydream, but it's getting me through the dismantling of my current, well-loved home.  Time to get back to that now, actually, to the piles of smaller domestic goods spread out in the increasing Furniture-Was-Recently-Here spots in the livingroom. I hope to write a post answering Duchesse's query more fully, in particular regard to these smaller goods. If you've moved at least once, you'll already know that they can be much more troublesome to pack (and to leave behind) than the big items, and that's even more true when island logistics are involved.

For now, though, I'll be sorting and packing . . . and daydreaming about a change in lifestyle, an urban condo, a sleek Italian leather chair in a delectable colour. A girl can dream, right?

27 comments:

  1. For you, two Tripolina chairs, one green and one mustard.

    And congratulations to your Romans!

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    1. It is just my choice too :-)! Tripolina chairs are beautiful
      Dottoressa

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    2. Ah, you two have such good taste -- I quite like that combination of colours, and the Tripolina is the chair I can imagine sitting in . . . I'd need some kind of footstool as well, don't you think?
      And thanks, Georgia, I'll pass along the congratulations.

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  2. I wondered about the logistics of your move...thank you for shedding light in this and i hope that you are able to pace yourself with the packing. When do you have to be out of the house? Is it a reasonable time frame?
    Going through all your things must bring back memories and moments...I feel that way when I do a deep clean and clear out the clutter...which my sister and I have been helping Mother with this Spring.
    Hope you get to take a break and enjoy this wonderful sunny day!

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    1. It's true, L., it helps to think of it as a very big Spring Cleaning -- a good thing to do every, say, 20 years or so ! ;-) I have more than a month to get it done, so I'm working my way through dust and memories at a reasonable pace.

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  3. I'm still stuck back on you having the original prices in your files;). My goodness. Also, a community where you feel safe in a listserv environment, and letting people see your house and your furniture. And then I arrive at the happy news from Rome, and sigh in happiness at the idea of new chairs with memories built it.

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    1. Oh, you'd be shocked, then, to know that I had our household financial records for 42+ years of marriage -- every month I'd tuck them in a file, every year-end they'd go in a bundle, elastic-banded, into a box. I've been burning my way through those, and committed now to clearing records a bit more often. But I find it easy to through receipts into the simple but effective filing system I set up decades ago, and it's turned out to be useful surprisingly often.
      Yes, I'm leaving a great community -- I wish a similar model could apply more widely, nodes of, say, 500 people within a close enough distance that a small social media network could support neighbourhood. I don't know all my island neighbours well, but we mostly choose trust and it's been working so far.
      I like those sighs of happiness -- what a good note to end on ! ;-)

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  4. I moved and downsized recently. I took a silver champagne bucket that was my parents'. Now it is up in the attic. I'm wondering if I'll ever get it out again. So hard to move those objects which have sentimental value and no much more.

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    1. I'd be tempted to use that champagne bucket for bouquets of flowers, and regularly, but I do know what you mean. My in-laws gave us silver (plated) wine goblets for our 25th, and I pulled them out of the cupboard last week, the engraving obscured by almost 20 years of tarnish. I'm so very tempted to toss them, and I know very well that by the time the kids have to confront them, should I choose to hang on, they'll be tarnished past the point of any appeal at all. Wish I had an attic! ;-)

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  5. And I thought moving to Alaska was complicated. I'm glad you've had success in divesting yourselves of some of the furniture that you're not deeply attached to. I also love that your community is close-knit enough that you have an island list-serve.

    Congrats to the daughter and son-in-love!

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    1. Oh, I'm sure moving to Alaska was very complicated! As will moving back someday. . . .
      Thanks for the congrats -- I'll pass them along.

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  6. Congrats to your daughter and son in love!
    You did a great job with packing-it must be exhausting physical,emotional and logistic- as well as with the move. It was a really good choice and in right time (don't think that even I,as a reader,wouldn't miss your fairy tale island,but still.....)
    Btw. I have Natuzzi leather sofas,too (with the receipts :-)!) and they are italian brand,too,so.....signore Dario has beautiful pieces,you'll have to visit him again)
    Send you motivation :-)!
    Dottoressa

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    1. Another receipt-keeper! And the Natuzzi -- such good quality. Besides the two loveseats, we had those two lovely club chairs and two ottomans, bought on sale over the years, a piece or two at a time. I love the way good leather furniture develops even more warmth and life in a home, and, in my mind anyway, looks better every year.
      I'll pass your congrats along to R and J, thank you!

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  7. This post has made me reflect on my own family's move from mainland Scotland to the Western Isles way back in the early '80's. Everything had to be transported by car and ferry, and a removals lorry on the ferry too. A huge undertaking, in a bleak November, with a teenager (me) a ten year old (my sis) and a toddler (my brother). I had influenza and was really rather ill, so the whole journey was slightly nightmarish. X

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    1. Those can be some really stormy seas, and I wonder what your mother remembers of that day, traveling to a new life with three children, one very young, one quite sick. Did you end up finding the move a happy one?

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  8. Perhaps you could also think of this as a gift to your children? Having had to close down both parents homes, which was difficult and painful in both cases, you are ensuring that your children won't have to go through 40+ years of papers, odd things and furniture. As a result of our experience we (or I since it is more difficult for my husband) have been going through closets in our home getting rid of things we no longer use or need. It is so difficult to leave a beloved home...but eventually it will be a fresh start and new adventure.
    Lynn

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    1. In fact, Lynn, you've identified one of the motivators for us to do this now, although I didn't spell it out here and although we could have left the culling a few more years. But we were both affected by the process of helping parents move from family homes to smaller units, by which time they required considerable assistance with the disposal. Having had that experience, it's also much easier to see that what I once thought valuable to hang onto for the kids is not going to hold much appeal for them. And really, if there's anything they will treasure, I'd love us to talk about it now and I'll either give it to them now or try my best to earmark it for them to receive later.
      And I love your closing. Here's to fresh starts and new adventures!

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  9. As so very often in our virtual friendship (I hope you don't mind me calling it that although I know we have barely scratched the surface) I find a synchronicity. We have just decided to put our house on the market and go for somehthing a little simpler to live in and to leave. The logistics of leaving here are a bit overwhelming. This is truer for my husband than for me as he has outbuildings full of stuff, but he is up for the challenge! I truly think this is a good thing to do for people of our age and stage. It makes you shake things up and look at them and have new experiences, and that for me has to be better than the dreamy blur of routine. Go Frances, that is what I say!

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    1. I'm so pleased that you reciprocate my sense that we are friends, even if we've never met. I had hoped I might someday make my way to visit your delightful home in those Welsh hills, and selfishly disappointed that will not be likely to happen now. But I can imagine the attendant logistics of living there, not so much day to day, but getting supplies in, having someone come to repair a fridge or dishwasher, trying to get to a family gathering after a snowfall. I can also imagine the logistics of leaving, and given our own current experience, I have to say that as tough as it is, we congratulate ourselves daily for deciding to do this now -- it's not going to get any easier physically! And yes -- although I'm feeling a bit more shook up than I want to be, I think it's much better for me, overall, than "the dreamy blur of routine." Thanks for cheering me on, friend. . .

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    2. Well if we achieve this move we wont be going far. Still be in North Wales, still have room for guests and would totally love to meet you in person!

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  10. I have been dragging my grand piano with mr for twenty five years. Can't part with it.

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  11. That should read "with me " because mr has been with me for 45 years.😄

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    1. ;-) Mine has been moving with us for 35 years now, and before that the upright did (and for a couple of moves, both of them!). Just not sure how one will fit in a condo. . . .but it will come along to storage at least, while we think about it. Does Mr. know he was dragged along as well? ;-)

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  12. Congratulations on the engagement!

    It's not that I'm so perceptive, it's that I've had friends move from an island similar to yours. Ten boxes, eh? You will not believe how many you will fill!

    Agree about the loveseats. You can get a storage unit by the month to store loved but larger items like your teak pieces, until you know the dimensions of you new place. Then should you decide to sell big items that don't fit you have a much bigger market.

    The leather chairs are beautiful and in that possibility you have stepped into the next phase, the creation of a wonderful new home.

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    1. Yes, the ten were just a start, all he could carry without a car. He brought twenty home for me when he was back this weekend -- generous man! ;-)

      I do feel good about, as you say, "stepping into the next phase." Looking forward to it. . . just have to get through this one!

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  13. I too had receipts for everything, and financial records neatly stored in identical boxes, although I cleaned out boxes that were more than 8 years old, saving only certain receipts etc, to a home inventory file. I haven't been as meticulous here, and would be surprised if I had all the receipts. A bit of a burp in my otherwise orderly nature.

    We also had Natuzzi leather loveseats, which I wish we had saved. They were more comfortable than the big sectional unit we purchased for this house, but we had agreed that we wanted a big sectional that the whole family could pile up in together. I don't regret that loving pile of family intertwined on one sofa for a moment though. And I am determined to live without regret. Besides we gave them to a lovely young girl who worked for us for a while, furniture for her first home with her then fiancée.

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    1. Oh, that young woman must have been thrilled with the loveseats! I'm always happy when we can find someone that it gives as much pleasure to us to give to as it does the recipient to receive (Oooh, that was an awkward sentence but you know what I mean, I hope!)
      And I agree with you about regrets -- wasteful, generally, and often what we really need is just a few steps further or higher to really see the overall picture...

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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.

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