Monday, May 30, 2016

Change in the Wind?

This year my husband and I both turn 65, a milestone in many ways: Medicare, more senior discounts, a free hunting and fishing license for him, and a homestead tax exemption to name a few. It's also the turning point between being on the younger side of sixty and staring at seventy which seems to be approaching very quickly.

It's also time to consider the possibility of moving. We love our home as any reader of this blog knows, but a place like this requires a lot of maintenance and as we look ahead we have to consider how long we will be able, or want, to continue to deal with what is required to live here.

This place has many things going for it: it's quiet and secluded, very private. It's in a beautiful location that cannot be easily destroyed by the activity of anyone else because we basically look out over land we own. There's little traffic or light coming from streetlights, etc so it's dark at night, a rare blessing these days.

We also have all the space we want for gardening, lots of wildlife and forest around us, a good habitat for our honeybees, and for our pets who are free to roam and do not need to be penned up.

The house is unique, comfortable enough and big enough. It's all on one floor, and that's a plus, with only 4 or 5 steps to get up to the porch. The interior doors are wide, and we put a large shower in place of the tub. Taxes aren't bad, and we have a new roof and a new pump in our deep well which supplies all the water we could ever want to use. And we have free natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, and the refrigerator. We even bought some antique gas lights recently and may install one or two of them for when the power goes off.

Those are the pluses. Now for the not-so-good things:

Being remote is nice but it also means lots of driving. Just getting to the two-lane highway takes 10-15 minutes on a rough, narrow road. It's hard on vehicles and means lots of repairs. It's also hard on our bones as we get older.

As resellers of furniture and vintage/antique items, there's no opportunity to sell anything from home except through eBay or the like because few people want to venture out here. It's just too far off the beaten path. It would be nice to be able to put a newly painted piece by the road to sell but it can't be done here. It would also be nice to have a yard sale from time to time, also not possible unless we want to pack up everything and take it somewhere else. And we don't have time for that.

The road and driveway are a challenge in bad weather; our long driveway has to be plowed with the tractor when it snows so we can get out. We have a meadow we no longer need so the neighbors cut and take the hay, which is fine with us. We also have a field that has to be brush-hogged once or twice a year to keep it clear. Even though we have no livestock to speak of, we don't want to let this little bit of clear land grow up.

The well can be an expense if something breaks, and it happens often enough. The gas goes off from time to time in the winter, requiring Larry to go out and figure out what the problem is, or else having to wait for the gas company to send the well tender out to fix it.

There's no cable, poor cell service, and no internet service available except satellite which costs a lot more than other services. We have to keep a landline because we can't depend on the cellphones. Visitors are few and far between because no one can just drop by on their way somewhere else--they have to pretty much be coming here, and it's not the easiest trip. Often we have to meet people out by the main road and bring them in. Not that the road is that bad, but the narrow road scares those not used to driving in such places.

If we lived closer to a main road we would cut our travel expenses by a pretty large amount. Our vehicle maintenance would be much lower, and we probably would no longer need to have a tractor. Our cellphones could replace the landline and we could get better, less expensive internet service, cutting those costs too. We'd probably not find a place with free gas so that would be an added expense, possibly offset by the other savings. We might have city water too, another new cost but we would not have the expense and worry of the well.

And then there is this: if something happened to Larry and he was no longer able to do all the mowing, weedeating and tractor work, there's no way I could take all of that on. Paying someone to do it would be prohibitively expensive and we have no family near enough to do it for us, and wouldn't want to ask anyway because it's just a lot to do.

Leaving here would be one of the hardest things I'd ever do, and I don't know if I can really do it--I am so used to the peace of this place, the privacy and the freedom. There's no way to put a price on that. I also know our lives have changed; from the homestead of my younger years, with animals and crops and all of the work that entailed, to the way it is now has been a process that's evolved as our lives have changed. And now I think we're facing change again, because our needs and interests have changed. I no longer want a milk cow, beef cattle, etc. I don't want to ever put up hay again or be tied down by the work of a farm.

A lot of people who reach their 60's face the same considerations. Some decide to make the move now while they're still up for the challenge of packing up years of accumulation and getting used to a new place. Others wait until there is no other choice, and make the move at a time of great stress in their lives. So, which will we do? Stay, or start looking seriously at other places? I still don't know the answer to that. But I'm thinking.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A Memorable May

I am stunned when I look back over the past month and realize all that we accomplished. We knew it would be a busy month, but it was even more so than we envisioned. Now here we are as the month draws to a close, and we can look back and check so many things off the to-do list. And also reflect on the many blessings that came our way.

Today we are just home from the last family event of the month, our granddaughter Grace's graduation from high school in Grant county, WV, which is on the other side of the state from where we live. We were so happy for her, and especially proud that she graduated summa cum laude.

It was a beautiful trip across this state we love. We took the "old" way, Route 55 to Route 33, instead of the new Corridor H which is a better road, and four lanes instead of 2. But we had time, and we just wanted to see some of the places along the route we've traveled for years to see this oldest son and his family.

And so to home. It's very hot here, in the upper 80's, so we've turned on an air conditioner for the first time this year.I think this evening will be chill time, in more ways than one--sitting inside in the cool, and chillin' with a movie as we reflect with joy on this month so full of family and love.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Week of Family

Such a ride this month has been! Here's what's been happening this past week:

Friday night was our granddaughter Hannah's high school graduation. It rained; the event started at 8:00pm in the evening so we knew we'd be late getting home. Which normally would not matter at all, but this year our Connelly family reunion was overlapping the graduation. We opted to miss the first day of the reunion so we could be there to see our Hannah finish school, and even with the rain and the last-minute rearrangement of the graduation place and plans it was such a happy time. She looked her usual beautiful self.

Grandchildren! Siblings Haley, Hannah, Jared (who came home from California to be here for Hannah), and their cousin, my second oldest granddaughter, Jordan.

Quite a few of us were there, and quite a few were planning to make the drive across the state the next day for the reunion, leaving very early in the morning. Of course, this granny worried because so many people driving all that distance with little sleep in the rain...but all was well. All five vehicles made the trip with no trouble at all.

I had to make an extra-early start to pick up the graduation cake, so we were out of the house by 5:30am. A quick run through the grocery store to get what food we needed--and the cakes!--and we were on our way. I have to admit, I've never been so unprepared for the reunion, but it didn't matter. There was plenty of food, our cabin was waiting for us, and there were so many smiling faces to greet us.

It's always a surprise to see how fast the children of our families have grown! Many of them are towering over me now. I have to struggle to remember their names because as they enter their teen and young adult years, the changes are just so surprising, in a good way. More grandchildren below: Ally, Kate, Jared, Clayton and Grace.

The family storytelling time was better than ever as the kids--and the adults--are coming more prepared with stories and songs, and as these last ten years have passed we've gotten to know each other better. I am so happy to be able to keep up with many of them on Facebook, so that when we get together the conversations just take off.

This year, I read a poem my English cousins sent to us, a poem written by our grandfather who died in 1930. Everyone loved it! It's a dramatic narrative of a shipwreck and a man's desperate choice between saving his life savings in gold, or the life of a child. I am so amazed that he could have written such a remarkable, well-written piece, given that he was working as a farm laborer in England by the time he was 12. It gave me chills to read it, truly. My aunt in England remembers him reciting it by the fireside when she was a child, in their cottage near Caldecote, Cambridgeshire. I am so grateful that our cousins sent it to us.

Another of the highlights for me was having time to sit down with my sister Judy and see the extensive work she's done on our family tree. What a treasure that is. We are still trying to discover when our ancestor Felix Connelly came to America. We believe he was from Ireland, but cannot find any record yet of his entry into the United States. We believe it might take a trip to Baltimore, the most likely poin of entry, to solve this mystery.

Once home, we hit the ground running again. The rains finally let up enough for Larry to get back in the gardens. Grandson Jared, who is in for a visit from Los Angeles, came over with Hannah for a visit, a real treat. He's been having some success getting small roles in films and will be attending acting school when he returns to California. It's exciting to see him taking this direction. Again, I am always surprised and pleased to see what our family gets into.

Tuesday was booth day. We took some new pieces that we'd finished up last week over to Ravenswood, and that booth is now about as full as I want to make it. At the same time, a call from Marietta let us know that a big piece of furniture we had there was sold and we needed to get something new in. So yesterday and today I've worked on trying to get something painted, and I hope to be able to take one new piece over tomorrow, to be ready for the holiday weekend. To the left is a hall tree/bench we made last year, but just finally finished up.

I worked a good while on this farm table, removing old contact paper, sanding, getting the warps out of the wood, and painting and distressing.

But this old chest needed nothing except a good wipe-down. The top could use refinishing but we opted to just leave it as it was and let the next owner do that. At $99.00, it's a pretty good deal, I think.

Wednesday was Larry's birthday, so even though he worked hard all day tending to the gardens, the grass and his bees, he agreed to stop early so we could go to Charleston to celebrate by having ice cream at Ellen's Homemade Ice Cream shop, and then cross the street to Taylor Book Store for some fine music as area old-time musicians gathered for what was dubbed a "neo-traditional jam." It was awesome--some of our state's finest musicians were on hand to make it just a perfect evening of good music.


Tomorrow evening granddaughter Grace has her high school graduation so I'll be on the road again. And then...I think we can finally get back to something like normal, and even though Sunday will be our 30th anniversary, I have a feeling whatever celebrating we do will be pretty low-key and probably at home! Have a wonderful weekend, my friends, visit your family, take flowers to remember those who have past on, and enjoy the blessings of beautiful May.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.
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