Tag Archives: ideas

A Moving Idea

Sometimes an idea will simmer in your mind for a long time before you get the details worked out. Or even begin to take it seriously. Then some sort of trigger gets pulled and you feel compelled to act. Even obsessed with bringing this idea to fruition.

When I was a child my father’s employer transferred his job to another city. Another state. He loved his job, so he was going. And so were we. He was moving from the sprawl of Northern New Jersey to a manufacturing town in Pennsylvania. Not far from the Amish Country. He wanted to live in a rural area.

He and my mother looked at houses to make their new home. One of them was a farmhouse on a large hunk of acreage. In the middle of nowhere as farmhouses with vast expanses of land tend to be. He liked it. My mom, not so much. She was afraid that she would be isolated from the rest of humanity. And that her two young children would be stranded far from friends. Eventually they built a house in an upcoming new subdivision. Close to town, and shopping. The best schools in the state. A one-quarter acre lot.

This particular area was still considered to be in the country, and there were vast cornfields behind the house. And across the street, in the still undeveloped portion of the neighborhood, there were open fields. Up the road was the farmhouse and red barn to which all of this land had once belonged. So my father got a little of what he wanted, and my mother got everything she wanted.

That’s where I grew up. From age five until I graduated from high school. The day after I graduated, my parents moved out. They had bought my father’s dream home. An old stone farmhouse on ten acres of land. With a barn. They lived there for the next thirty-eight years and although I had grown up in suburbia, I have ever since considered this second home, Shadowlawn Farm, to be my real home. Like my father, I too loved the country life.

Fast forward to twenty years ago. My life takes many turns similar to my fathers. My wife and I had started a family and were living in an urban subdivision. The schools were failing and we wanted more for our children. We started to look in the neighboring county. Which happened to have the best schools in the state.

We looked at existing subdivision homes. We looked in the country. Every Sunday we would drive out to the country and ride around looking. One neighborhood had particular appeal to my wife. Best one in the county. We had always heard that you should buy the worst house in the best neighborhood you could afford. That was her plan. I was still holding out for the farm.

Finally it was my father-in-law who caused me to take action. He shamed me into it. What he said to me one day was that my kids needed to move. They needed to be near other kids. And I should get off my wallet and do right by my family. Of course I was going to take care of my family, but I didn’t have to do it at the expense of my life. But I did.

Time was passing and a new school year was approaching. If we bought a new house, or piece of property in the next county we could enroll the girls in the best schools available. There was a vacant lot for sale in that best neighborhood. So I bought it. And my wife and I got together with a builder and proceeded to construct a new house. It was exciting, but a story for another time and blog post.

Fast forward once again. This time to 2016. For the past twenty years I have been poring over real estate books looking at houses. Moving has never been a consideration. The kids were still in school. Then college. My wife was content. I was antsy. Then my back failed. Two surgeries later and I was having real difficulty with the stairs in our three story house. And walking. Moving suddenly became a consideration. But where?

To be continued…

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?





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The Front Porch

She called me a romantic. Not like Don Juan with all the girls swooning. Or the most interesting man in the world. I don’t drink dos Equis, but I do stay thirsty.

There is a difference between being romantic, all hearts and flowers and such, and being a romantic.

I’m pretty sure that there have always been people who could be termed romantics in the second sense. They just didn’t have a name for them until the end of the 18th century when the Romantic Movement began. This was when a lot of artists and writers and philosophers were breaking away into a post Enlightenment movement. Folks like Goya, Verdi, Keats and Shelley.

What was happening was that these creative people were expressing themselves via their hearts. Emotion and feeling. Moving away from the rules of the day. Expression through the mind and a literal representation of things and ideas.

For years my mother had a painting hanging in the kitchen. A bright watercolor of a very inviting front porch. Wide space with plenty of shade and big comfy furniture. Down south we’d say it was a great porch for visiting and sippin’ sweet tea. Not my parents front porch, but not too different.

For my parents fiftieth anniversary we children gave them a painting of their farm home. Big old stone house. Big front porch. Very welcoming. The painting is firmly rooted in realism and depicts every detail in perfect absolutism.

I like the make believe porch picture better. Don’t get me wrong. I love my parent’s house. Including the porch. But it’s the other painting, the one that gives me a hint and let’s my mind run free with my ideas about the porch that I love so much.

Thinking with my heart and not my mind. The painting is just one example. I guess she was right about being a romantic.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? Www.personalhistorywriter.comImage

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Television Surprises

My daughter watches a lot of television.  At least it seems like it to me.  I’m not a TV snob.  I’ll admit I watch television.  I like the History Channel, and old movies, and public television.  I like slapstick comedy.  And crime dramas.  I don’t like talk shows or chick flicks.  Or news the likes of such and such a movie star was seen at so and so restaurant.  Not my thing.  I think my daughter watches some of that stuff.

Personally, I’d rather see her read a book or take a walk around the block.  But I don’t see me walking around the block either so I can’t really say much.  Lead by example. I’ve always tried to get my kids interested in art and antiques and they are doing pretty well.  They have been to art museums in London.  And Rome.  And New York.  They tag along sometimes when I go antiquing.  And actually buy some things for themselves.  And I was surprised this weekend when they agreed to go to an auction with me.  I bought a bunch of treasures.  They didn’t see any.  Or didn’t buy any I like to think.  But progress.

Lately I’ve been buying a lot of fixer upper furniture.  I have a vision for how it might look restored to its original appearance, but not how it might be repurposed.  Or restyled.  But it turns out that my daughter, the TV watcher, has a good eye for what can be done to give something old a great new appeal.  Great ideas!  I’m so proud of her.

Did I mention?  She picks up a lot of tips and ideas from…television.  She loves HGTV and that’s what they do.  Buy a junky old chair, wipe off the dirt and grime, paint it bright green and voilà!  Major interior design statement.  Or something like that.

She’s been a big help.  Her ideas are going to make money.  I may be able to take her on as a partner yet.  I still think she should read a book, but if TV gives her these ideas I guess I’ll let her continue to watch.

That’s part of my story.  What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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The List

Busy people make lists.  Each in their own way.  Some people use their phones to keep up with their lists.  Others use paper and pencil.  I’m the type who makes a list with anything available.  Whenever I feel the need.  Paper napkins are a favorite.  Or church programs.  Maybe a shred of paper I found in my pocket, part of yesterday’s list.

These lists get updated with new things to be done.  Some things stay on the list for a long time, getting done very slowly.  Old lists are lost or discarded.  The real list is kept in my head.  I just write it down to keep it at the front of my mind, rather than in the back.  The things that get done slowly are the ones in the back of my mind.  Or the ones that are part of a not fully developed idea.  I keep a list.  It’s around here somewhere.

Now I have a very important list.  One I have to keep filled with details.  And updated on a regular and frequent basis.  It’s the inventory list for my store, Living History Antiques.

I’m good with Excel and I’ve made up my own little spreadsheet.  I have the item number, based on sequence of acquisition, and a description, the price paid, how much I’m asking for it, what it sold for, and when it sold.  Oh yes, and the last column.  That one tells me whether I’m going broke.  It’s labeled “Profits.”

It’s gonna take a few more sales until I hit a profit overall.  I’ve made money on everything I’ve sold, all one of them!  But I’ve spent a few bucks collecting all the stuff I have in the shop, so I need to sell a couple of things.

The list tells me where I am and what I have.  It gets longer every day.  I keep it on the computer.  But I also keep a paper copy in my pocket.  To write lists on.  And to have available should the mall people call with a question. 

“We have a buyer who’s offering such and such for that awesome thing you have.  Can you do that price?”  I need to know what I have in it.  Most of it I actually have in my head.  And for some things, going with what I have in my head, correctly remembered or not, would be ok.  But this is my business, and I need to be right.  Can you imagine selling a fifty dollar item for two bucks because I got confused?  Bad business.

So I keep the list with me all the time.  And panic if for some reason I don’t know where it is.  Yes, I can make another copy.  But what if they call right this second?  That’s unlikely, but it’s part of the business.  I know I’ve bought stuff that required a call to the owner.

Busy people, and successful people, keep lists.  And I do too.  That’s part of my story,  What’s yours?  www.personalhistorywriter.com

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