Mrs. EMS Artifact and I have decided that it’s time to pull up stakes and leave the state in which we’ve lived our entire lives so far. This has been a long time in the making and until a few months I wasn’t sure it would actually happen.
The story started almost eleven years ago when I retired from my EMS career. I’ve long wanted to leave the state and resettle somewhere more in concert with the lifestyle I wanted to live. Mrs. EMS Artifact’s statement was that she’d go wherever I wanted, as long as it was with me. At the time I had three or four states in mind. All were somewhere in the south, where the politics were closer to ours, guns were not treated as a threat, there was no winter. Well, at least no winter like that in the cold northeast.
When we started this process our son and his family lived in New Jersey, our daughter lived local to us. That changed over the next couple of years when our son moved to Alabama and our daughter moved to Texas. Which, incidentally she’d wanted to do since she was about ten. Everyone was aware of that except her father. Always the last to know.
At the time, my Mother in Law as a healthy 95, but she was still 95 and my wife was her support system. So, we agreed that we’d do nothing until she no longer needed us. No big deal, I figured. Ha! She lived until the ripe old age of 102, not dying until fall of 2021.
I passed the time with part time work, exercise, dieting, and generally trying to stay healthy. That part worked and worked pretty well. I also started getting the house ready to be sold even though it was not going on the market. One of the things one learns when one owns a house is that there is always something that needs to be done. Unless the home owner has a lot of money, he learns to do a lot of things on his own. Not necessarily well, but well enough. Working and raising kids often means that repairs are sufficient to keep the house running, but are not done well. “Mickey Mouseing” is the term we used to use.
Over the years I leaned some carpentry, some plumbing, some electrical, how to maintain the yard, even how to fix the whole house AC if the repair was simple enough. With a life long friend, I replaced windows and doors. I painted when necessary even though I hated and still hate to paint. I also learned how to landscape, and again that’s something for which I didn’t care.
One of the luxuries of being retired is that I now had time to go back and fix the repairs the right way. I also had money, now that the kids were out and on their own to pay people for some things.
Herewith is the list of projects I either did or had done to the house. First is the expensive stuff I paid other people to do.
Replace our boiler and oil tank. Here in the cold northeast, we use oil to heat water which is circulated around the house in pipes and radiators. Well, some people use natural gas to heat air that is circulated around the house to heat it. Replacing that required moving heavy and dirty stuff, knowing plumbing, electrical systems, and then moving new heavy stuff in and hooking it up.
Painting the house inside and out. Then, the next year having it repainted due to a particularly harsh winter in which it snowed every day in February. Every. Damned. Day. Which meant running the snow blower every day. During that we had ice build up and when the ice melted it destroyed the exterior paint and some water leaked into the freshly painted rooms. Fortunately, the insurance company paid for that. Insurance didn’t pay for the new windows, though.
Trees cut down and the wood removed. Not little trees.
Roof replacement. It was time and after the winter two years before every snow storm was anxiety inducing. Definitely no a do it myself job.
Whole house generator. Another complex project that involved gas piping, extensive electrical work, inspections by the town. We did that after having multi day power outages that only happened in cold weather.
More trees cut down and the wood removed. Not little trees. Not only is there danger of a parts of trees falling on me, but even worse parts of trees could fall on the generator. Can’t have that.
Replaced the central air conditioning. Again not a do it myself job.
Insulation and air sealing the day after the AC was replaced.
Tree branches cut back.
Had second bathroom built. Another job that was more complicated than it appeared at first. Another not DIY project. Not cheap, but worth it.
New railings for the front steps.
That’s the stuff I paid other people to do. Here is the stuff I did either by myself or with my friend.
Landscaping. Not my favorite activity at first, but I kind of grew (no pun intended) to enjoy the physical labor.
First, I cut back Forsythia that had taken up about 1/5 of our back yard. Forsythia is pretty, but it’s invasive if not trimmed back diligently. During that time I was working, I just didn’t have the time to do that and the forsythia continued to grow. Kind of snuck up on me. This involved cutting the bushes, then digging up the roots, then burning the bushes and the roots. Then burning the ashes, just in case. Then dumping the ashes way back in the woods. By the way, roots seem to love to grow around rocks. So, often I’d have to dig out pretty good sized rocks to get the roots out. As with northeast farmers a couple of hundred years ago, the dug out rocks were dragged to the edge of the tree line.
Then top soil, grass seed, fertilizer, water. For reasons I don’t understand, it takes about three years for grass to take root in my yard. It’s a journey not a destination. This became a spring ritual as I cut back more brush and expanded the size of the grassy area. The last part of this was just this last spring when I had a stump grinder come in and remove the stumps from the cut down trees that were now not at the edge of the grassy area. That required more top soil, more grass seed, and more water. I don’t expect to be here in two years when that area is completely filled in. I’ve lost track of the amount of top soil I’ve spread over the years to improve the condition of the soil, but it was a lot of it. Several yards, I’m sure.
I’ve fixed, replaced, or refinished just about every interior door we have. That is not hard per se, but it is fiddly as the saying goes. In some cases I re aligned doors so that they closed properly. Not hard, but time consuming. Now that I had the time I could do the job correctly. I actually smiled several times when I finally got a door to close tightly and without sticking.
Painting and patching here and there. Another benefit of having time is that I could do the preparation properly. Just about every job will be easy if the prep is done right. That includes painting, carpentry, electrical, and well everything
Painting including removing the basement windows, sanding and derusting the frames and once again painting them. This was actually a good project to do during the panicdemic when there wasn’t much else to do.
I painted the inside of the garage. The garage, like a lot of them, had never been painted. The walls and ceiling showed their age, so I painted them with gray primer. Raw plaster sucks up primer and it took several days and seven gallons to get the job done. This was actually one of the first jobs I did after I retired.
Fast forward to last year and I repaired or replaced all of the hardware on the garage door and painted the interior side. A stupid little thing, but I felt it needed to be done.
I replaced just about every wall switch and electrical outlet in the house. Just because they were all over 50 years old and original to the house. A little preventative maintenance.
Finally, the last few weeks I’ve been patching and touching up various small areas around the house. That includes painting the stoop on the back stairs so that it didn’t look like it… needed to be painted.
All of this was to get the house to the point where it wouldn’t need a lot of work when the time came to sell it and move.
That time has come. Today we signed on with a real estate agent who will sell our house. She’s optimistic that it will sell quickly as there is not a lot of inventory in our town and our town has come to be a hot property over the past few years.
Now, what we have to do is clean, sort, pack, toss, forty three years of accumulated “stuff.” This was our “starter home” from which we are finally ready to move.
Next week we’ll travel to Texas near where our daughter lives. We’ll be looking at properties although we are not yet able to commit to buying anything. Now that our parents and older relatives are gone, we are the older family members that will eventually need a support system. Our daughter has agreed to be the point person, although we expect that our son and daughter in law will pitch in if and when necessary.
Where are we going?
Texas. Where we expect to be quite happy.
Know anyone who needs a snow blower?