Reality Sets In

Autumn in New England

As we moved during the last month, the New England leaves peaked, the boxes were unpacked, and “closet space reality” came into shocking perspective.

Let me describe the “walk-in closet” at the little house.

The Fun that is Ikea

Ikea boxes
Our boxes at Ikea (New Haven, CT)

I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Ikea, but it’s got a setup that’s a bit like a maze. And from a marketing and sales perspective, it’s pretty brilliant. The store takes you on a winding path through various showrooms where it showcases the many pieces of clever furniture that you can purchase (and assemble yourself). It’s the store you can’t get out of, and somehow (at least initially) don’t want to leave.

Downsizing has meant that the right storage is critical in small spaces – and we’re realizing that we don’t quite have the right configuration. So….

Family

Packing 1
Packing the kitchen at the condo

My blog has been quiet for a few weeks. Because… we moved.

More on that in a minute.

Loading the piano into the truck for storage

Where are we in terms of progress on downsizing and finishing the “little house?” Doing nicely I think. The house now has a happily painted exterior, painted interior to include closets (they were gross), a new fridge and a decorated living room. The bookshelves are full and the propane fireplace went on for the first time the other night as the temperature dropped. It’s been a ton of work. Loads. But incredibly satisfying.

Along the way, our family has been eagerly following our progress… sometimes with an eyebrow raised and maybe just a little bit of doubt. But overall, the voices have been encouraging and full of hope for our new life tucked among the farms of Connecticut.

The Quaker Diner

The Quaker Diner, West Hartford, CT

After weeks, okay months, of painting at our new fixer upper, there was paint lingering in the crevices of my fingers and paint on the bottom of several pairs of shoes. I felt my relationship with blue tape had evolved to a new and perhaps disturbing place. MyUPSGuy was talking about the merging of paint “wet into wet” to the point where I was wondering if the fumes had gotten to him… it was definitely time for a break.

The Field

MyUPSGuy and our dog Reilly on the field, Feb 2017 (the house is a neighbor’s, i.e. not the little house)

When we bought our little fixer upper and the acreage it sits on, we immediately focused on cleaning, trips to the dump and lots & lots of painting. As we busied ourselves with house and grounds improvement, the 2 ½ acre field that makes up half the property was growing… and growing. To the point where the grass, scrub and prickly bushes were waist high.

“I’m going to mow the field,” MyUPSGuy claimed in the driveway of the “little house.”

Hmmm.

To-may-to or To-mah-to

One of the things I’ve been thinking about since we closed on the “little house” in May and began this journey of downsizing is that I am certainly not the first person who has come up with the concept of minimizing. As a matter of fact there are numerous websites, all orchestrated and written by folks who are downsizing, small-ifying, removing clutter, living in a tiny house (have you seen that show – Tiny House Nation??), and in general trying to live life in a way that has less clutter, more sanity and works for them.

The Mold Man Cometh

The Mold Man Cometh

When we bought our fixer upper in May, the “little house” as I call it, we faced a tough cleaning and fixing reality that no one really wants to face. There was mold.

Mold is the kind of thing that harkens up panic, nausea, fear of death. And black mold? The stuff that horror films are made of. And we had plenty of it on the “little house,” specifically under the roof overhang in the back. Like… a lot of mold. To the point where our mortgage broker said to us, “I just don’t know if a lender will give you the mortgage with… y’know… the mold.”

What’s in a Butter Dish?

To say that our new-to-us “little house” is remote is an understatement. And as my husband and I were engulfed in cleaning… and cleaning… in the weeks after we closed on the property, we stood in the little gravel driveway and heard cows, turkeys and a lone rooster. It was kind of wonderful.

The neighbor to our right has seven acres that abuts our 4.5, then the neighbor’s son lives to the right of him on a working farm, and the fellow next to them owns forty acres and an impressive log cabin.  Across the street from our place is a huge farm with beautiful green fields, aforementioned cows and two enormous navy blue silos.

To Simplify

The first time I took my mother to see the “little house,” it was below freezing in Connecticut and there was about twenty feet of snow pushing up against the garage. We trekked through the drifts to the back door and stepped inside the kitchen of the 728 square foot dwelling.

I knew what was going to ensue. The look on my mother’s face was one of horror.

“You’re going to … live here,” she said in a statement of disbelief.

The house needed a lot of love, paint, mousetraps (for the fridge especially, since mice were building a fort in the freezer), curtains, sunshine, and electrical work, just to start. We barely got approval for the loan, as the banks were nervous about giving a mortgage to us, as it was being sold “as is.” And it was a far cry from the 3-bedroom condo that my husband and I occupy.