First overseas travel

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
I'm going to the Ukraine. Or is it just Ukraine?

I leave in two days and will be working with a newspaper team in Kirovograd, five hours drive time south of Kiev. The newspaper - Noviy Den - wants to do more online. And, I'm going to see what they do now and offer suggestions.

I've never been overseas. I always thought my first such trip would be a little more conventional - like Paris or London. But going to a part of the former Soviet Union and seeing a culture with so much more history than my own, is very exciting.

I'll try to blog a bit about the trip and will certainly be posting on Facebook throughout.

Stay tuned.

Back at it - all of it

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
I haven't written here for a month. What have I been doing, you wonder?
Moving. Oh we fit a quick celebration of the holidays in and, of course, I had to go to work, but our life was consumed with moving - thinking about moving, getting ready to move, and then moving.
Moving from a two-story, full basement house to a one story on a crawl space house.
Otherwise known as downsizing.
We love our new house. It fits us like the old house no longer did. We use most of the rooms all the time and will use all of the rooms at least some of the time.
But downsizing is hard, hard work. There is the physical labor involved in lugging furniture and boxes around. But there is also the emotional labor of letting go.
I've been getting rid of so much that even getting rid of stuff I definitely don't won't has become painful.
It's also liberating. 
Everything we own moved from our old house into the garage of our new house. Luckily for us, it is a very, very big garage.
To make it beyond the garage and into the house, every item either had to have a function or be dearly loved. The best items were those that fit in both categories.
There is nothing in my house that I don't appreciate, smile when I walk past, or feel grateful at some point in the day that I have.
It feels great.
There are only a few things left in the garage that could still make it into the house. Everything else will be given away or sold. It's a lot. 
I won't miss it.
We all have them - those days so horrendous, we wonder how we survived. Everything that can go wrong does. You make the critical mistake of saying something like "it can't get any worse than this," and then, of course, it does.

I've had a couple days like that, days full of equipment failure, employee issues and other work related stuff.

Just when you think you have hit your very max - poof. Things just come together. Equipment gets replaced and employees figure things out. Suddenly you look up and what wasn't working is working and you feel great!

And that's when you remember: This, too, shall pass. 
Most days I take advantage of the 20 minute (give or take depending on which way I go) drive I have to and from work. I like to talk to myself about whatever is on the top of my brain. It could be a problem I'm having and trying to solve. It could be related to being angry or irritated over something. 
Often is it something that I'm happy or excited about.
The above is not the weird part. I'm so use to talking to myself, I'm pretty sure it's normal.
No, the weird part is when I don't have a conversation with myself about something.
On those days, the car is strangely quiet. Even the radio - usually just background noise anyway - can't fill the void. The ride is longer and far less satisfying.
I should keep a list of topics in the car for these dry days. 
It's just crazy not to have something to talk to yourself about.

But, what about our toys?

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
I have to re-learn that little ears hear everything and the older our grandchildren get, the more they are involved as participants in conversations. I still think of them as babies (they would hate knowing that) who are clueless to the babble of noise going on around them. Our oldest grandson is 6 and he is very aware of the world around him.

I was talking to my son and daughter-in-law about moving when my grandson stopped playing and demanded information. "You're moving?" he said.

We've lived in our house for eight years so while it is just one of several my husband and I have owned, it's the only one our grandchildren know. We explained that we'd sold the house and would be looking for a new house - one that he, his brother and his sister would love. He processed this a bit and then asked "What about our toys?"

We promised the toys kept at our house for the grandkids would be going with us. That led to a long conversation of what else would be going on the move. Satisfied that everything important to him would be included, he returned to play. 

Just to ensure a smooth transition the last thing on the truck the day we move - and the first thing off - will be the toys.

Log-in nightmares

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
I love technology and all the ways my job is accomplished working online. Except for the log-ins.

Passwords are getting so complicated. I have at least two platforms - maybe three - that require me to change my password every four weeks or so. And, I can't repeat any of my previous eight passwords.

This is a problem for me because there are only so many passwords I can remember. I used to use the same very simplistic, easy to remember password for everything until the programmer who works in the digital department pitched a quiet, polite fit. Coming from him, it was my equivalent of yelling and fist-slamming-on-tables.

He pulled up a new site on my computer and created an account for me except for the password. He turned to me and said, "OK. Put in a password. And, remember, if someone cracks it, they will be able to dive into the heart of our servers. Who knows what they could do. But you use whatever password you want."

Of course I made it as complicated as possible with letters and symbols and numbers. And, of course I had to write it down to have any hope of remembering it. Which I think defeats the purpose.

So, I have the scraps of paper everywhere with passwords written on them. And I have to remember which passwords go with which sites. It's just complicated. Thank God for the "forgot password" link. 
I love to move but I hate to pack. 

Having sold our house, we are trying to systematically pack in preparation to move. We have the better part of six weeks before the move and you would think that would be plenty of time. It's not. Six weeks from now, we will be dumping the content of our various junk drawers into the same box we used for the canned good and cereal boxes, the dog's dish and five pairs of shoes we found under the bed when we took that apart.

I know, because I've done this before. Still, I am ever hopeful we'll do better this time. So, I am packing up non-essential items like pottery, the good china, table linens, etc. As I go, I am trying to sort out trash and items we never use and should donate. I have made a noticeable dent in the dining room, where the china cabinet and the corner cabinet are empty. I feel like I have accomplished something in the dining long as I ignore the growing pile of "stuff" on the dining room table that will not be going to the new house.

As much as I hate packing, I love unpacking. As I pack I encourage myself by thinking about things will go when we get to our new house. 

So, I'll keep at it and hope for the best in the final stretches.'s cold

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
I'm such a whiny baby. And nothing brings it out like cold temperatures.

I hate cold, damp, gray days. The first couple of the season are the worst. I have to adjust and those first couple fall days always hit me the hardest. It probably isn't as cold as it seems, but I can't convince my body and mind of that fact.

As I try to make the adjustment, I am also mourning the passing of summer. I love that first moment when you get into your car and the heat reaches your bones in about two seconds. I love watching the boys jump into the pool and come up sputtering and laughing. I love evenings on the back porch under the ceiling fan watching humming birds at the feeder. I love the smell of a newly mown lawn.

Fall is definitely here and winter is pushing it out of the way. Snow, ice, freezing cold are what awaits. 

So, I will look forward to cold days under a warm quilt drinking hot tea and reading a good book. I will relish my two favorite holidays shared with family and friends. I will watch my youngest grandchild learn to crawl and maybe even walk. There will be bright spots in the long dark of winter.

And I will look forward to spring.

Going, going and sold!

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
We totally get the stressed housing market in my house. We've been reminded of it daily by our house. The house we bought to flip some eight years ago.

We just missed selling at a very nice profit by this much (imagine my index finger and thumb almost touching). But then, our timing in the housing market has always been just a tad off...and almost never in our favor.

Luckily the flip we bought we have loved. I certainly have not cursed the day we first set eyes on it and - I am about to brag here - I am extremely proud of how great it looks and how comfortable and easy it is to live in.

Every other year or so, we have thrown the house back on the market just to see what it would do. Our goal is to downsize significantly in house size and yard size. One story living is starting to have a lot of appeal to people whose joints are starting to complain on cold, wet nights. So, late last year, we hooked up with a great realtor who stuck a sign at the bottom of our driveway.

We had lots of showings and - again I brag - lots of compliments. Early on we turned down an offer that was way, way under our asking price. A couple times the realtor suggested lowering the price and we always declined. When you don't HAVE to move, when you are NOT desperate to sell, those decisions are easier. 

And, finally, they came. A very nice young couple who fell in love with the house as quickly as we did the first time we saw it. I'm not going to call this a done deal until we stand up from the closing table in about a month, but....

It's the fourth house my husband and I have owned in our 20 year marriage and it may rank up there as my favorite. At least until we find the next one. 

Let me tell you, this housing market has been rough on real estate junkies. But, I think I may be searching for that next housing fix.
My life seems to revolve around projects lately. Projects that I literally dream about. Projects that have me jerking awake at 2 am, my brain racing as I try to figure out next steps or pitfalls that may prevent the project's success.

I need to find the balance between projects and priorities. Sometimes, a project needs to be the priority. But so does sitting down with the family for a meal and conversation. So does taking the dog for a walk when the sun has set and the air feels a little cooler. So does reading a good book that captures my imagination and sends me into a zone that only I and the author can occupy.

Finding that balance is a constant struggle, but one worth continuing. I won't give up on the projects, but I won't forget everything else for the sake of the project.

That sounds doable.