Tag Archives: personal history

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?

www.personalhistorywriter.com

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Stressless Moving Series

Certain events in life cause great levels of stress. Some of the biggest stressors include loss of a loved one, major health issues, becoming an empty nester, loss of a job, retirement and moving. There are many others, and by no means am I downplaying their importance. In the past year, I have experienced each of those I listed above. At least once.

Some of these I’ve talked about a little I think. And some I don’t care to talk about at all. But moving, now that’s a subject I will gladly talk about. So, just to give all my readers a heads up, I am going to be putting together a series of posts regarding my adventure in moving. From nineteen years in the suburbs to a mini farm in the county.

Stay tuned for chapter one soon!

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Dust Cloud

In old western movies if you saw a cloud of dust on the horizon you knew it was one of two things. Making all of that dust was either a troop of cavalry coming to rescue the settlers under attack by evil villains, or a pack of evil villains coming to attack. Either way, it was a bunch of people riding horses. And headed in your direction quickly.

That was old westerns. In my back yard a cloud of dust means my dog is playing fetch. She’s not like that kid Pigpen in the Charlie Brown cartoons who travels around inside his own personal dust cloud, created by his less than civilized personal hygiene habits. She stays pretty clean, although she does shed a lot of hair. All the time and everywhere she goes. No, the dust cloud is exactly that- a cloud of dust created by her rambunctious play.

Whether or not you believe in climate change, this year has been the hottest and driest on record where I live. It’s five days before Thanksgiving and for the first time since May the temperature has dropped below 80 degrees. And no, I don’t live in Hawaii, or California, or Florida. And with all that heat, we’ve also been the fortunate recipients of a fifteen inch rainfall deficit. The water level in the local lakes is down by several feet and the green green grass of home looks more like tumbleweed blowing across the desert.

Back to the dog. She likes to exercise, as any puppy would. Since she is a German Sheppard, she likes to play a lot, and strenuously. Fetch is good. I find a small log in the woods, something maybe eighteen inches long and three or four inches in diameter, and I throw it as hard as I can. As soon as she sees me starting to wind up she takes off at full sprint speed. I think she could take a cheetah in a hundred yard dash.

Since I broke my shoulder a couple of years ago my throwing arm isn’t like it was when I pitched for the sandlot sluggers. The dog is well past where the stick will land by the time it sails through the air. But she happily comes back for it, grabs it with her teeth and brings it back for another toss. I prefer a smaller tree branch to the tree trunks she likes so sometimes we compromise. She will bring a six foot long branch to me which is only two inches across. The damn things are so heavy and cumbersome I can barely throw them but she’s got the thing in her mouth running around with two inches on one side and the rest unbalanced, but firmly held.

Another game she likes to play is biting at my hands and feet. Sometimes it hurts so I’m glad she is just playing. She could probably bite either of my appendages off quite easily. But ten or fifteen tosses of the stick usually satisfies her.

And the dust cloud? As she thunders across the dry grass in the yard she will slam on her brakes when she knows it’s time to catch or pick up the falling stick. She slides across the yard and tears up the grass and stirs up the dust. There are now places in the yard where the loose and bare soil is about three inches deep. When she hits that patch of dirt at full speed and puts on the brakes, a huge cloud of dust erupts. I’m sure the neighbors see the cloud rising above the fence and think I’m using a bulldozer to dig a hole to the center of the Earth.

Oddly enough, having her chase the stick also allows me to give the arid lawn some water. She gets so excited chasing that stupid stick that starts to foam at the mouth. The slobber gets all over the stick, which then gets covered with dust that turns to mud. Globs of slob fly out of her mouth as she runs. Her fur gets covered with the stuff, as does the ground. And the stick. Sometimes that stick is so slobbery that when I throw it I loose my grip and it slips out of my hands. Bad throw daddy she barks. And brings it again.

The cloud of dust makes me laugh. She is silly. And loyal. And playful. But we really do need some rain.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Scooter Trucks

Vehicles are built differently to accommodate varying purposes.   Giant earth movers have construction capabilities while a Fiat 500 is designed to be an in town personal people mover. Tractor trailers, pickup trucks and vans each offer cargo transit on varying levels. There are luxury sedans, economy sedans, and sporty coupes and convertibles designed for getting from point A to point B while making a statement, or fitting a budget.

A scooter, that motorized creature somewhere between a motorcycle and a bicycle, is intended to be fun, and economical transportation for one person from here to there. Generally a short distance. You can put a bungee cord, or milk crate, or helmet box or even saddle bags on these mini-motos, but they weren’t really made to haul much of anything.

Sometimes however we have to make do with what we have at the moment and I have used my scooter as, yes, a truck. The helmet box carries lots of stuff besides a spare helmet. Matter of fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever put the spare helmet in the helmet box. It’s usually stuffed with clothes, or water bottles, or small antique knick-knacks for the store. And of course the anchor. That’s a separate story.

But lately I’ve begun to take the scooter to yard sales and antique shops when I go on shopping expeditions. I tell myself I’ll figure something out. I have carried coffee table books in the compartment under the seat. And more recently I had a suitcase, too large to be classified by the airlines as a carry-on, strapped to the back of the seat. And an ice cream parlor chair as well. The scooter is really pretty good at haulin!

When I was in Hawaii I saw lots of scooters. And many had a strange contraption on them that I just couldn’t figure out. It was a set of curved metal pipes attached to the side. Not exhaust pipes. I just couldn’t figure it out. Then I saw one with this gizmo in use and it made perfect sense. The folks here use their scooters to transport their surfboards! Drop the board sideways into the curved metal rack and viola! I’m not sure how easy that is to drive since the board can be longer than the scooter, but they seem to manage. As I said, I saw a lot of scooters with this contraption on them, but only the one with it in use.

So, all sorts of things can be adapted to other uses. I’ve seen delivery trucks turned into restaurants, and truck trailers turned into homes, and now scooters turned into trucks. I’m trying to figure out how to make my scooter into both a boat and a snowmobile. American ingenuity. What a great thing!

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Sign

Signs make a difference. They identify things to make our lives easier. Enter and exit. Men and women. Price tags. They tell you where to go, how much things cost, what you are looking at and in general allow us to understand without thinking so much.

The other day I was at the art museum and while I’m pretty good at figuring out what I’m looking at, reading the sign put up by the show’s curator sometimes brings me new insights. Who might have thought that a blank white canvas titled “Empty” was really a deep and penetrating examination of the loss of interaction and communication between individuals dwelling in our urban areas? That is a better, or at least more intellectually satisfying explanation of the blank canvass than would be scam artist trying to pull a fast one and expose the snobbery of art aficionados looking for a deeper meaning in a blank canvas slapped up on the wall as a joke. Jokes on you sucker!

Of course the same sign can have very different meanings for different people. That octagonal red sign so often seen on our streets means to some people “stop!” To others it means slow down a little, look both ways and speed on. And to still others it means nothing. Yesterday a sign was put in my front yard. It says “for sale.”

Twenty years ago I bought this piece of property and built a nice house. I’ve lived here with my family ever since. My two daughters grew up here and I’ve experienced all the joys and sadness of raising children here. I’ve painted the inside of the house and decorated it to reflect my style, taste and personality. I’ve planted trees and shrubs and flowers to make the outdoors satisfying to me. I’ve done many things here, all tucked away in my mind, some further back than others.

We have been talking of selling the house for sometime now. Ok, lets get it ready. And I’ve cleaned and scrubbed and painted and planted and beautified to make it appeal to another family. I’ve told myself that it’s a building with four walls and a roof. No emotional attachment. After all, I lived in my last house for seven years and never thought of it as mine. Selling the house will be like selling an empty picture frame at a yard sale.

My wife on the other hand talks about how emotional it all is. Our children grew up here. It’s been twenty years of our lives. I remind her that her family moved three times before she graduated from high school. And that my parents moved from the house where I lived for thirteen years the day after I graduated from high school. It’s just a house. Home is where the heart is. All that. The kids seem ok with the whole thing, but they do say that this is where they grew up.

And then the sign went up in the yard and I signed the deal with the real estate agent. I could feel my heart sink. This is my home. I’ve been here for twenty years. So many memories. Even the ones in deep storage came flooding back.

And now I look at selling the house as a matter of personal pride. This is the greatest house ever built and if you, Mr. and Mrs. Buyer, can’t see that then there is something dreadfully wrong with you. I’m waiting to be insulted with low ball offers. And I’m waiting for the perfect buyer to come along.

To a buyer, the sign says “this house is for sale, check it out.” For me, the sign says that a huge part of my life is about to change.

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Starman Who Graced The Earth

Much in the news this past week was the death of David Bowie. A rock and roll icon! It was big news at least until the death of Glenn Frey. Or whatever the next big thing was.

In the early days of my music career, as a listener, David Bowie was one of my favorites. Like me, he had a fascination with outer space, and alien life. Not monsters from outer space, but real “human” types of life that just happened to be from other worlds.

Look at his work. He WAS Ziggy Stardust. On records and in the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth. He wrote songs like “Moonage Daydream,” “Starman,” “Life on Mars?,” “Hallo Spaceboy,” “Dancing out in Space,” “Born in a UFO.” And a whole album called Space Oddity. It had to do in part with a sense of alienation from the “real” world and confusion over how he, like many others, fit in. And in some ways he didn’t.

But I’m not here to write his life story. I’m not a Bowie scholar. It’s just that I’m sitting here at the Foundy Lounge in Athens, Georgia, waiting for an open mic music night to begin and as background music the club is playing what else, David Bowie.

And as I look up at the ceiling, I see a thousand stage lights, arranged all willy nilly, but all small and white. And I think it looks like deep space. I’m gazing into the depths of the universe. And I’m wondering what stellar performances I will hear this evening. And who might emerge as a superstar. That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywritere.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Resolution or Revolution?

New Years resolutions are for losers! Not those who want to lose weight, just losers. Don’t be offended if you are a person who makes a New Years resolution. Making a decision to improve your life is a long standing tradition. And there are many good resolutions to make. Lose weight, get fit, quit smoking. The real problem is that in making some kind of resolution on new Years Eve, we haven’t really taken a lot of time to think it through. And without proper planning, we set ourselves up for failure. Loser!

Like a lot of you out there I used to make resolutions every year. And watch myself fail in their execution. Sometimes almost immediately. No planning. Unrealistic goals set up. Maybe no real goal at all. I’m going to live better this year. What does that mean? Quit smoking. Are we gonna do it cold turkey? Maybe gradually so that by the end of the year we no longer light up? Lose weight? Evert rime I’ve gone on a diet I ended up gaining weight!

Whatever your resolution, you cant succeed without being actively engaged in progressing toward a goal. A goal that is well defined. Measurable. And most of all, attainable. Set the bar too high and you can’t reach it. In order to satisfy these requirements, the plan has to be something you can stick to. Long term.

Sometimes, to attain a big goal we have to go way beyond resolving to get there. We need to start a revolution!!! And that is what I’m going to do this year. Matter of fact, it’s already under way.

Of course I’m not talking about starting an armed uprising to overthrow the government. No, I’m talking about making a huge change in the way we live our lives to attain the goal that is so important to us. Want a new job, a better job? Learn everything you can. Network. Actively look for opportunities. Better jobs rarely come to those daydreaming at their desks!

In my case, my revolution revolves around health and fitness. I have a physical impediment that has slowed me down some in the past few years. And because of it I have allowed myself to get fat. And flabby. And weak. I don’t like the way I look and I don’t like the way I feel. Sure, I’ve been to the gym. And I have dieted. But without real dedication and purpose. Lots of failure though.

This time, and I’m purposely not calling it a New Years resolution, I’m going all out. I got a personal trainer and he is working with me to develop exercise routines that can accomodate my physical issues. And he is jumping all over me about my diet. Before he would agree to work with me he explained all his ideas and philosophies and asked me if I was good with working with all of them. He said he didn’t want either of us to waste the others time. He’s not a taskmaster. But he does explain things and provide encouragement.

He didn’t weigh me. Or measure my body fat. Nope. They way he measures success is to see the difference in my appearance after certain time periods. If I look the same in six months as I do today, we have both failed. And I sense he is not accustomed to failure. And I will not accept it either.

With goals and plan in hand, I’m off to start my revolution. And since I have made public my plans, to you my readers, I have even more motivation to succeed. I can do this to show you and the rest of the world that I can do it, but mainly I am doing it for me. Being healthier will be good for my health!

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

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized