Thursday, March 31, 2016

Welcome me to the 21st century

Dh & I went to the mall yesterday to run a few errands -- and walked out with new smartphones. (Turning 55, officially retiring, going through (peri)menopause, buying a condo, selling our house and getting ready to move -- what's one more major life change/stressor to deal with right now, right??!  lol) 

Now, just to be clear, these were NOT our first cellphones (his second and my fourth over the past 15-20 years, to be exact) -- although it's been -- cough cough -- a while since we last got new ones. The phones we had -- yes, flip phones (I hear they're "in again, actually...!) -- did have cameras (1 whole megapixel!!) & browser capabilities, although we rarely used them and didn't have data included in our plan. But we've never felt the need to be in constant contact with the world, and we were happy with what we had for a long time. The phones were seldom used, and when they were, it was for good old talking, and usually whenever one or the other of us was out & about without the other.

But we've been talking about the need to upgrade for quite a while  For one thing, peer pressure. :p  ;) It was a bit of a pride thing, too -- see, we're still young & hip;  we're not THAT old yet!! (Got to keep up with the younger Joneses, you know...!) (I have this unsettling feeling that if we'd had kids, we would have been prodded into doing this years ago.) For another thing, I noticed my battery was draining a lot more quickly lately -- and I didn't think they'd have a replacement readily on hand. I wanted to make sure we had a reliable phone handy while we're moving & getting settled into our new condo. There were several times lately when I'd wished I'd had a camera handy. (The camera on this phone has 21 mp capability -- my Canon point & shoot, which I love, has just 12 -- which seemed like a whole lot when I bought it, just two or three years ago...!)

And there were a few times lately when I've had trouble picking up a signal, while smartphone users around me yakked to their hearts' content. One such notable incident was when dh wound up in the hospital just before Christmas. Every time I wanted to update BIL, I had to leave the building completely (taking all our jackets & stuff with me each time, so as not to leave it vulnerable to theft), and he couldn't call me at all.

I spent a few hours last evening & this afternoon playing around, rebuilding my contacts (the young geek -- ummm, salesperson -- who helped us buy the phones couldn't get them to transfer over from my old phone :p ), adding a few apps and exploring my new toy's capabilities. I'm sure within a few weeks, I'll wonder how I ever lived without it (although I think I'll still prefer using my laptop, when I'm at home) -- but right now, it's still a bit of a mystery, to be honest. ;)  It's been exhausting, frustrating, exhilarating and mind-boggling, to use just a few adjectives.

Tips? Cautionary tales?? App recommendations??? (I've already managed to add Facebook & sign up for Instragram -- although I still have to explore my camera!) 

I bow to your collective wisdom. ;)

Monday, March 28, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Rainy days and Mondays

Because it's been one of those days... :p

Because it really IS a rainy day AND a Monday. ;)

Because it popped into my head.

Because even though it's generally thought of as a "downer" song, it does include hopeful notes: "Funny but it seems I always wind up here with you... nice to know somebody loves me..." and "What I feel has come and gone before... no need to talk it out, we know what it's all about..."

Because I couldn't think of anything else for a #MM post. ;)

Because it was a great excuse (as if an excuse is ever needed) to search YouTube and listen to the magnificent voice of the late great Karen Carpenter. :)  Such an amazing talent, so sadly missed. :(

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here


Friday, March 25, 2016

An auntie song??

Klara wrote a post recently about how her little niece had learned a special song to sing for her mother on Mother's Day. When the niece offered to sing it for her, Klara said that instead, she would love to hear the song for aunties. Her niece responded that there wasn't any auntie song.

Is there?? I tried to think of any songs I knew about aunts or aunties, and the best I could come up with was "Your Auntie Grizelda" -- a rather quirky song from my childhood by the Monkees -- with Peter singing lead, slightly offkey! Can anyone come up with any other auntie songs??

Anyway, Klara's lament about the lack of songs for aunties did bring to mind an old Barry Manilow song, a cut from an album that was in my sister's & my vinyl collection in the late 1970s. And when I went to read the lyrics, they were all about regret and loss and disappointment, and not appreciating people when you have them in your life, until it's too late. So in that respect, maybe it's a somewhat relevant song for some of us, sometimes. ;) 

(You can't take it too literally, of course -- I could never imagine changing my number & turning away from my nephews! -- but I know some of us feel a little taken for granted by our families and friends sometimes -- we are always expected to be there for them (because we have all this free time on our hands, because we don't have kids, of course...!) but the relationship isn't always equally reciprocal.)

A Linda Song
by Barry Manilow

He never wrote a song for Linda
He wrote as though he lived alone
He wrote of dreams that end of sad brave men
Inventing worlds he never know

But he never wrote a song for Linda
And she was right there all along
Loved him back to life
When his luck ran low
But he never wrote a Linda song

He nearly broke his heart at writing
Linda kept him from despair
Standing by his side, through the hungry days
But he hardly seemed to see her there

And he never wrote a song for Linda
And she was right there all along
The one real thing in his crazy world
And he never wrote a Linda song

When the bills piled up and couldn't pay
He couldn't dream no more
So he hitched a ride and he rode away
And he left a note for Linda by the door
By the door

When times got rough he'd phone her
Once or twice she took the call
Then she changed her number and she turned her head
And Linda never looked back at all

He'll never write a song for Linda
And she was right there all along
All he knows, is no one understands
And he never wrote a Linda song
No he never wrote a Linda song


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tick, tock...

Before dh & I got married, his father (my future FIL) presented me with a watch that had belonged to dh's mother (who died, at age 53, before I ever met her -- although dh & I were a couple by then and she knew about me).  FIL gave another watch that had belonged to MIL to SIL, and both of us wore those watches as "something old" on our respective wedding days, and on special occasions (such as weddings) in the 30+ years since then. (We also divided MIL's other jewelry between us.) 

The watch I inherited is a dainty thing, with a small round face and a solid but flexible silver, etched band. Nobody remembers exactly where or when MIL had got it, but it's at least 40-50 years old. Shortly after our wedding, when we were getting property insurance for our belongings, I took the watch to a jewelry shop to be appraised.

(Sidenote for readers in the Greater Toronto Area: the jewelry shop was a small independent store recommended by a girlfriend who had her engagement & wedding rings custom-made there. Located on Yorkville Avenue, which probably tells you everything you need to know. Very expensive, very tony -- I felt very out of place being there. Which makes it all the more amusing that years later, the same jeweller is now infamous throughout the GTA as "the Cashman" who "gives you money for your gold" and advertises with brash, noisy, campy commercials on TV!! Oh, yeahhhhhh!!! lol) 

"That old thing?" said dh. Imagine his surprise (not to mention my own) when we learned that the silver was actually white gold, and the watch was worth a small four-figure sum -- a substantial amount of money at the time, especially for a pair of impoverished newlyweds. Needless to say, between special occasions, it's spent most of the past 30+ years in the safety deposit box. ;)

I never felt the watch (or MIL's other jewelry) was truly mine. I always felt that I was just holding it in safekeeping for the next generation, perhaps for my own daughter to wear at her wedding someday. 

Of course, that day will never come. And BIL & SIL had two boys.

But those boys are now both engaged and planning their weddings. Dh & I talked about it to SIL & BIL recently, and a few weeks ago, I told Oldest Nephew's fiancée about the watch and its history, and asked if she would like to wear it at her own wedding this fall. (SIL will give the other watch that she inherited to Younger Nephew's fiancée, when the time comes.) She looked surprised but pleased and said yes, of course. I told her I would bring her the watch the next time we saw them, and she could see it and decide then if she'd like to have it.

This past weekend, at Younger Nephew's engagement party, dh & I took Older Nephew & his fiancée aside to a private corner (BIL came with us too, beaming with pride) & I pulled the watch out of my purse & helped Fiancee put it on her wrist. I could tell from her reaction that she was overwhelmed.

"You know, I've never really worn a watch, but this is BEAUTIFUL. I love it!!"  she said, as she hugged me tightly. "I'm so glad," I said (and I was). Older Nephew gave me a big hug too. "You know, I never really felt like this was mine... I've just been taking care of it until you & your brother grew up to give it to you," I told him.

Back upstairs, they showed the watch to FIL (who is now in his late 80s). "You gave this to me, and now I'm giving it to her," I explained to him. We hadn't told him we were doing this, and I wasn't sure what his reaction would be, but he seemed very pleased, and gave Fiancee a big hug of his own. Both Older Nephew and Fiancee thanked dh & me again before we left later that evening.

The last few years have been one big round of transitions:  letting go of old dreams and possessions, passing the torch to the younger generation, facing the reality of aging without children. It isn't always easy -- but sometimes, there are moments like this one where you get a glimpse of the future and your impact on it (however small), and you feel a little better about things. There's sadness about what didn't happen and what might have been, and some fear & trepidation at what might lie ahead on this road less travelled -- but also hope for the good things that might still transpire and the memories still to be made.

Monday, March 21, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Zzzzzzzz...

There came a point this afternoon when I couldn't keep my eyes open. I slept for about five hours last night, woke up at around 4, couldn't get back to sleep, and eventually got up around 5. It's been a busy, stressful couple of weeks, and I guess it just caught up to me.

So I laid down on the couch, dh threw a blanket over me, and I had a nap. For two hours.

I'm generally not much of a nap person. (My mother will certainly tell you so, haha -- apparently she had to bribe me to take naps when I was a toddler. ;)  )  Never slept much in the car either, although we took a lot of long road trips when I was growing up. I did start taking more naps when I was in university (no doubt to compensate for the many late nights of party-- oops, studying!! lol  ;)  )  And I napped somewhat more often while I was pregnant with Katie.

I don't like the groggy way I often feel when I wake up after a nap. Or the feeling that I've wasted time when I could have been doing something productive, or fun. Or the feeling that I must be getting older, snoozing in the middle of the day like this. :p

But sometimes, you just have to close your eyes and let sleep take over. (And hey, I did get a blog post out of it, lol. ;)  )

Naps -- yay or nay?

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here

Friday, March 18, 2016

Right now

Right now... (an occasional meme):

Reading:  Lisa Manterfield's new book, Life Without Baby. Review to come. :)

Watching/Listening:  A 2002 PBS special, featuring folk singers from the 1960s -- the stuff I grew up hearing & singing in school. I can still sing along to just about every song, too. ;) 

Following:  The U.S. presidential primaries. (It's unavoidable, even though I'm not American and have no say in the outcome...! :p )

Drinking: Water. I keep a glass close by to sip on through the day.

Eating:  ACE Bakery Mini Crisps with olive oil & sea salt -- yum!

Wearing: My usual yoga pants & T-shirt. :)  And planning what I should wear to younger nephew's engagement party this weekend. (I keep changing my mind...)

Avoiding (or trying to, lol): The crowds of parents & kids enjoying (??) spring break this week. We forgot & went to the mall on St. Patrick's Day, where there was some kind of kiddie performance going on in the centre court. Oy, the noise!! The strollers!! (lol)  We wisely made a beeline for the food court to grab an early lunch, before the performance ended and that space too was overrun.

Anticipating:  Our upcoming move to our new condo.

Wishing:  That we could skip over the chaos & upheaval & hard work of the next few weeks & just be there already. :p

Loving:  The new bedding set we bought last week, to go with our new mattress. After 20+ years (erk!!), we figured it was time for new stuff, especially for a new place. :)

Wondering:  Why do they make mattresses so darned thick/high these days? (My one peeve about our new set.)  I feel like I need a stepstool to climb in & out of bed!

Monday, March 14, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Dress shopping

This past weekend, I went dress shopping with SIL -- as in mother of the groom dress shopping, for her to wear at her son (Oldest Nephew)'s wedding this fall.  It turned out to be a lot of fun overall -- but it did bring on a mixture of emotions for me:

Deja vu:  Walking into a bridal salon brought back happy memories of shopping for my own wedding dress, 31 years ago. And of going to a dressmaker's shop with SIL 30 years ago to be fitted for my matron of honour dress for her wedding to BIL.
Disbelief: Am I really this old that I'm now shopping for mother of the bride/groom dresses?? And is Oldest Nephew (who is also my godson) really old enough to be getting married??  
Sadness: I will never get to shop for my own mother of the bride or groom dress for my own child's wedding.
Gratitude: That SIL asked me to share in this experience with her. No, it's not the same thing as being able to shop for my own dress for my own child's wedding -- but it's as close as I'm going to get, and I was happy to be able to share in her happiness, and help her find the perfect dress for this major life occasion.
* Glee:  I suppose there are some women who would not be interested in spending the afternoon in a shop surrounded by pretty dresses in beautiful colours and fabrics and bling -- but I'm not one of them. ;)  I have very few places to wear pretty dresses these days (let alone long fancy gowns) -- but it's sure fun to look and imagine.

We did find a beautiful dress for SIL to wear, and ordered it.

And then (the icing on the cake of the day) we went to the mall, and found a kick-ass dress for me to wear too. :)

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.  

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Packing up my past

Getting rid of stuff in order to sell our house and move into our new condo has been tough (as I've already moaned to you in previous posts...!). But so has packing up stuff that I intend to keep, too.

The packing has already started:  when our real estate agent first came over to have a look at our house, she encouraged us to start decluttering and packing away extraneous stuff right away. We did a lot of purging when we painted the house last fall -- but I've read enough and seen enough realtor listings that I knew the drill when it comes to getting your house ready for sale: clean surfaces, no personal photos, minimal tchotchkes (sp?).

Presumably, this includes keepsakes from lost pregnancies. (ESPECIALLY keepsakes from lost pregnancies.) I knew it would be hard to get rid of and pack away my stuff, but putting away all my Katie and infertility-related stuff was harder than I thought it would be. Because I walked into my bedroom & looked around, thinking, "well, this has to go, and this, and this, and this..."  Including (but not limited to): 
  • Several angel figurines from different friends, on top of the piano.
  • The lovely quilt square made by a former support group client, now a dear friend.
  • A Classic Pooh suncatcher and stained glass angel, hanging from my mirror.
  • Katie's ultrasound photo on top of my dresser, in a baby-themed photo frame with the inscription "We dreamed of you."
  • A framed photo of me in my hospital bed, holding Katie, with dh & my mom at my side.
  • Boyd's Bears figurines:  a pregnant mama bear and a little girl bear on her first day of school (bought the week Katie would have started Grade 1).
  • The Swarovski butterly dh gave me for Christmas one year.
  • A Classic Pooh music box that plays "Little Black Rain Cloud."
  • A baby bracelet & "message in a bottle," both crafts made in support group sessions.
  • A little green stone inscribed with "believe," which has sat on my night table for the past 17 years -- a gift from a fellow loss mom that I met when I first went online. (Caprice, if you're out there somewhere, I still have it & I still think of you!)
  • A stuffed stork that's sat on the headboard of our bed for years, first as a ttc good-luck token and then (when it became apparent THAT wasn't working) as birth control (lol).
And I felt a pang when I realized I had to pack it away (if only for a little while). Not just because it's "clutter" -- but it's clutter of an extremely personal and sometimes shocking nature, for people not acquainted with pregnancy loss, who think it's a subject to be swept under the carpet.

I've never been one to talk too openly about Katie in public -- but here in my home, I've always felt safe, free to express my pride and my grief through little things, like refrigerator magnets and figurines and stuffed animals. 

So it was sad/jarring to have to let the outside world intrude on my relationship with my daughter -- to hide away any traces of her existence that might not only qualify as "clutter" but conjure up questions and visions of dark clouds hanging over this house.

It's not that I'm not proud of her, proud to be her mother. It's just that the world hasn't yet developed a comfort level in facing these kinds of things. And I wanted to sell my house. And I was going to have pack everything up anyway, sooner or later.

This was only a temporary measure, of course. I will bring out Katie's things again in the new place.

But it was sad to strip the place she never got to call home of all reminders of her brief existence.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Guest post: Embracing possibility by Lisa Manterfield

It's my great pleasure to introduce you to my very first guest blogger!  I discovered Lisa Manterfield's blog & website, Life Without Baby, back in 2010 (six years ago already, yikes!), and read and loved her memoir, "I'm Taking My Eggs and Going Home" (my review here). Since then, Life Without Baby has been a welcome oasis of comfort, sanity and humour for me and many other women facing a life without the children we'd dreamed of having.  

Now Lisa has taken everything she's learned over the past few years about living without children, from her own experience and from the women she's helped, and turned it into a book of collected wisdom on the subject: "Life Without Baby." I'm reading it right now, and while I'll have a fuller review later, I can tell you that it's a book I wish I'd had when I was first fumbling my way through those early days post-infertility treatment and wondering, "Now what??"  

Over to you, Lisa. :)

*** *** ***

Some time ago, a friend posed this question: “Are you the adult you dreamed of becoming?"

I laughed when I read it. No! Of course I’m not, I thought. The adult I dreamed of was an international engineering consultant, living in a big house with a circular driveway. She had a fabulous husband and four beautiful children, including one set of twins.

Aside from the fabulous husband, that woman is almost the polar opposite of the adult I am now. I’m a writer, who works from my very small rented beach cottage, which has no driveway at all. And of course, there are no children in my picture.

And yet, once I stopped to consider my friend’s question, I realized that, even without the children I so desperately desired, I’m a lot happier as the adult I became than I probably would have been had my expectations been achieved. I’ve met a version of the person I’d once dreamed of becoming. She wasn’t a very happy person and she definitely had more gray hairs than me!

John Lennon famously wrote, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans”, and the truth is that few of us end up living the lives we’d once envisioned. All through our lives we set expectations for the kind of people we want to be, the lives we hope to live, and the people we want those lives to include. And all through our lives we have to make adjustments as life throws us setbacks and opportunities, as we learn more about ourselves and what’s important to us.

You probably had some sort of a plan, if only a vague one, of your future as a parent, and you probably set up your life path in accordance with that plan. Perhaps you made decisions about your spouse, a career, the city or neighborhood you chose to live in, the house you bought or rented, the car you drove, the friends you kept, and the food you ate, based on the assumption that children would be part of your life. Now that they’re not, you might be thinking that your entire plan needs a rethink, a sort of Oprah makeover to cover over the old you and present the world with a whole new look.

Many of us set about “fixing” our childlessness this way. We commit to changing our life paths in order to be amazing, we take on volunteer and care roles to give our lives meaning, and we throw ourselves headlong into the lives of other people’s children in order to fill the void left by our own absent children. We decide to change careers, move to another neighborhood, go back to school, or take up a new hobby…or six new hobbies! Inevitably, at some point, we look up and realize we’ve fallen short and let ourselves down. Our lives are full of new goals and dreams, and yet we still don’t feel fulfilled; we’re there for everyone else, but not caring for ourselves. We pack so much into the void left by motherhood and yet we still don’t feel happy, or even worthwhile.

So, I’d like to propose a new approach to rebuilding your life, starting with the notion that you are not broken. You don’t need to fix your so-called flaws. You don’t have to compensate for not being a mother. Nor do you need to compare yourself to others—especially women with children—and find yourself falling short. You are who you are and, even though you may not be perfect, you are not broken and you don’t need to be fixed. What you may need is a slight readjustment and to remain open to the idea that you’re already on your way to where you’re supposed to be.

When I’ve talked to other women who’ve survived unplanned childlessness and who are clearly thriving in their lives, there’s a common theme I hear when they talk about how they got to where they are today: possibility. None of them said, “I couldn’t be a mother so I decided to write a book/change careers/go back to school/sell my house and travel the world.” But what each of them said, in her own words, is that she took some time and listened, and ultimately allowed herself to be open to possibility.

Instead of looking to fix what was wrong, she tapped into her potential to be the best version of herself that she could be. She set reasonable, gentle goals that pointed her in the direction she wanted her life to go, and she didn’t worry about whether the person that arrived there was perfect. She allowed the person she already was to grow and expand to fill the gaps in her life, rather than trying to hammer herself into society’s expectations of what’s ideal.

So, what about you? What if you decided to make your life what you wanted it to be, instead of what society dictates it should be? What if you were to accept yourself the way you are now and open yourself to the possibility of blooming where you’ve been planted? What if you took the “you” you already are and let her grow and expand into the person she was meant to be. What would life look like if you took a kinder approach to nurturing you and embracing possibility?

Lisa Manterfield is the creator of LifeWithoutBaby.com, the online community that provides resources, community, compassion, and support to women facing a life without children. She is the author of Life Without Baby: Surviving and Thriving When Motherhood Doesn’t Happen and the award-winning memoir I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home: How One Woman Dared to Say No to Motherhood.

Monday, March 7, 2016

#MicroblogMondays: Back to the drawing board...

In last week's #MM post, I mentioned Aunt Flo had been absent a record 59 days. " I suppose it's too much to hope that she'll stay away another 306 days (thereby officially launching me into menopause)," I said.

Apparently, it was. :p  I went 63 days without a period, my longest pause ever -- but Friday, it was back to the drawing board and reset the clock. (Right in the middle of trying to sell our house, of course.) 

I know one of these days she'll be gone for good... but really, after 44 years, it won't be soon enough...!  :p  ;)  

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Condo, condo, condo

We bought a condo. :) 

We'd already bought it before I published my last post on the subject, but we needed to sell our own house to make it final. I'd been writing that post on & off over several months, waiting for the right time to make it public. (We're still not Facebook-official, but we will be soon... you heard it here first, folks, lol.)

As I wrote there, we've been keeping our eye on the realtor listings for awhile now and making special scouting trips to check out promising buildings and locations. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted. Dh thought we could manage with one bedroom, but I insisted on two. I wanted some extra space for a futon or sofabed for guests (and shelves for my books, lol). And when we started actually looking, we quickly realized that anything under about 750 square feet would be pretty darn small. We wanted a low-rise building, not a tower. We didn't need a lot of bells & whistles (although we've found that just about every condo building of whatever size comes with a party room and exercise room). 

Dh was eager to get looking in the new year;  and in mid-February, he saw a condo online he thought we should see, and called the agent to arrange a viewing. Things happened very quickly after that (as I suspected they would). That was a Sunday;  we went to see another unit twice later that week, and then arranged to see a few more places the following Saturday (Feb. 20th, with BIL & SIL in tow for second opinions).

As with our house 26 years ago, the minute we walked in, we knew this was the place we wanted. Even I, who had been dragging her feet a bit on the whole condo subject, fell in love with the place instantly. It's in a low-rise building, about one year old -- on a major thoroughfare, but facing a green/treed space at the back, and just a few miles away from BIL and family. The unit is near one end of the building, away from both the elevator & garbage room. 875 spacious, well-laid-out square feet. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms, nine-foot ceilings, a walk-in closet in the master suite, and a kitchen to die for, with a granite countertop, stainless steel appliances and as much cupboard space as what's in my current kitchen, if not more. It's bright and airy, with floor to ceiling windows that let in a ton of natural light -- including good-sized panels that open in the bedrooms and a sliding glass door in the living room area that leads out to a small balcony, with room for two or three chairs &/or a small table &/or barbecue. (I couldn't believe how tiny the window openings in most condo buildings are... and how many balcony doors are just plain old doors, with no screens. Either you suffocate or you open the door & let all the bugs in.)  There's even a guest suite, if my mother doesn't want to sleep on a futon when she visits. ;) 

"If you don't take it, I will!"  SIL said to me as we wandered around. (We loved the furniture too and wondered if the owners would leave it for us, lol.) 

After we said goodbye to our agent, the four of us went to McDonalds (within walking distance -- not sure if that's a good thing, lol...!) for lunch and to discuss what we'd seen. BIL & SIL were equally as enthusiastic as we were about the place. We called our agent the next day and asked her to submit an offer.

The next week went by in a blur. Talk about rollercoasters!! We put the offer together on Monday and negotiated back & forth with the sellers over the next 24 hours. Late Tuesday, our offer was accepted. Our offer was conditional, with the primary condition being the sale of our own house.

Dh had already called a junk removal company to come Wednesday to clear 26 years of accumulated stuff from our garage and garden shed. I spent Tuesday & Wednesday in a frenzy, clearing the house of our personal photos and knick-knacks and packing them up, and sending even more excess stuff out to the garage. StepBIL, who had painted our house last fall, returned to do some fixes for us, working all day Thursday and through Friday morning.

Our deadline was 1 p.m. Friday, when the realtor's photographer was arriving to take photos of the house for the listing. We continued to clean (the oven, the windows, the laundry sink) over the weekend. The sign went up Sunday night (Feb. 28th) and the listing went live Tuesday morning, March 1st.

The Toronto real estate market has been pretty insane for the past few years (not quite as insane price-wise as Vancouver, but getting there...!), and it seems the insanity has spread to the suburbs. There is very little inventory out there right now, particularly for smaller, "starter" detached homes like ours, and what's out there tends to go quickly. By midday Tuesday, we were booking appointments from agents who wanted to bring their clients to see our house. We had six visits that first day, a sanity-challenging 14 on Wednesday, 6 on Thursday and another 14 on Friday -- more than 40 visits over four days. We received one good offer late Thursday night and another even better one Friday afternoon, and by Saturday morning, the deal was finalized.

I'm not sure what made me happier, knowing we'd sold the house for a good price -- or that we didn't have to accept any more appointments for viewings, lol.  We were both EXHAUSTED (and are still recovering). (If you've noticed I haven't been around the blogosphere much lately, now you know why...!) At one point on Wednesday night, we had FOUR agents & their clients tramping through our house at the same time. We were advised we should remove ourselves from the property while it was being viewed, and only allow one agent in at a time -- but there was a constant stream of them, and it was bitterly cold outside -- too cold to stand around waiting. I had a dream the night before the MLS listing went live that we opened the door the next morning and there was a lineup of people 12 deep down the sidewalk, wanting to get in to see our house -- and it wasn't too far off from the way things turned out. Did I mention my house is only 1400 square feet??  It felt like an invasion. :p

As I signed the paperwork to hand my house over to another family, I got a little choked up. Later, as dh & I sat, talking about what we'd done, I started crying. I have loved my little house, and part of me is so sad to leave it, even if it is for something nice -- but I am happy that it's going to go to a family with two little girls -- the family I once dreamed of having. They will sleep in the bedrooms that we once thought Katie would sleep in, and play in the back yard that Katie never got to play in, under the tree that we call hers, and even play on the piano that my parents bought 40 years ago for me & my sister, that my own children will never learn to play "Heart & Soul" duets on. We offered it to them, since we will have no room for it in the condo (and since I haven't played it in years anyway)  and they were happy to take it -- which makes me happy.  One less thing we will have to try to sell or donate somewhere. 

The events of the past few weeks (from the time we started viewing condos to the day we accepted the offer was less than three weeks!!) have reminded me why we haven't moved in 26 years. ;)  (And why I hope it will be at LEAST another 26 years before I move again, lol.)  It's been extremely stressful -- and I'm sure there will be more changes and challenges to come as we navigate packing, moving, closing on two properties in the same day, and trying to find places for all our furniture & possessions in a much smaller place.  The condo is sleek and shiny and modern, all white and stainless steel;  my furniture & knick-knacks are old and cozy and country-ish and in warm colours. Somehow, we'll find a way to make the two worlds mesh.

But it's also exciting. Maybe it was the push we needed to do something new and different with our lives.  Dh felt we'd gotten into a bit of rut in recent years, and perhaps he was right. We've been living in the same house, working at the same jobs, for 25+ years. Losing our jobs was a bit of a jolt, definitely -- but our surroundings were still the same.  Even losing Katie didn't change our lives very much, on the surface. Yes, it changed everything in the most important ways -- but our day-to-day lives didn't really change very much at all, post-stillbirth. I've said before, we were ready for our lives to change, we wanted our lives to change -- we thought they were going to change -- and then they didn't -- and life went on more or less the same as it always had before I got pregnant and lost the baby.

This will be a big change. But we're hoping to make it a good one.

I'll keep you posted. :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"The Baker's Daughter" by D.E. Stevenson

Although I know I read several novels by D.E. Stevenson from the local library when I was a teenager, "The Baker's Daughter" is the one that sticks with me -- perhaps because I managed to snag a paperback copy at a used bookstore when I was in university, and so was able to re-read it more than once. The last time I read it was more than 30 years ago, though -- so I was happy to find that I enjoyed it just as much (and remembered so much of the story) even after all this time.

Sue Pringle is the baker's daughter of the title, forced to leave school to keep house for her father after her beloved mother passes away. Then he remarries, leaving Sue at loose ends and at odds with her new stepmother -- until she surprises everyone by taking a job keeping house for John Darnay, an eccentric artist, and his glamorous wife who have taken up residence at an old converted mill out in the Scottish countryside. No sooner does Sue arrive than bored Mrs. Darnay leaves for the bright lights of London. Sue opts to stay and finds a new purpose and happiness in her life. Of course, she winds up falling in love with the absent-minded painter -- but there are several twists and turns in the plot before -- spoiler alert!! lol -- the requisite happy ending.

The things I enjoyed about this novel 30+ years ago are still the things I enjoy today -- the well developed characters, Sue's innocence, the strong sense of morality and old-fashioned propriety expressed by the main characters, Sue's strong relationship with her loving but anxious grandparents. A descriptive scene where Sue's grandfather and his friends teach Darnay to curl on an outdoor pond is still a delight to read.

Another great "comfort food" novel from D.E. Stevenson.

This was book #4 (and the second Stevenson book...!) that I've read to date in 2016.