April 2010 issue
Oh No! Not Again!!
Snakes, IRS audits, dental work, cleaning gutters, live-in relatives... none of them begin to compare with the abhorrence I feel for packing up and moving to a new home! We've done a bunch of it in the last few years, and, once again, Irene and I find ourselves knee-deep in cardboard boxes preparing to pull up stakes and head into the unknown.
In '01 we moved from Charlotte, NC to the suburb of Mint Hill. In '05 we moved to Philly. In '07 we moved back to another Charlotte, NC suburb, Huntersville. Now, in a couple of months, we'll be movng again... this time to an historic little town by the Hudson river, about an hour north of New York City.
It's all happening very quickly! Irene has been hired as an Asst. Professor of Special Education at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY, and will begin teaching her first class there on June 29th. Yes... just a few weeks from now!
So we're in panic mode! We spent the week of Spring Break touring the NY area, looking for a house to rent for a year or two. We want to get to know the area before commiting to buying a home. But we also have to find a renter for our house in Huntersville! The economy tanked so badly that it'd be impossible to sell it without losing our shirts right now.
Are we nuts? Probably. But, at an age when most people are retiring to laze away their golden years, Irene and I are still energized by what's around the next corner... what might be in store for us! If you rest, you rust. We may creak a little at the joints, but all the parts are still moving along just fine and we're not looking to slow down 'til we have to!
Want a Purple Hippo?
Years ago, I was a hippo collector. I have hundreds of them! Glass hippos, ceramic hippos, wooden hippos... just about any kind of hippo you can imagine. But my real prize was Helen. I paid several hundred dollars for her, and she was delivered to my doorstep by the owner of the art gallery in Virginia that represented her creator.
Helen is made of a modeling material similar to paper mache (so she's no heavy-weight) with large acrylic eyes and is mounted, like a hunter's tophy, on a wooden plaque... and she is nearly life-sized!
Helen has got to go. I have a rich imaginaton, but even I can't picture her on the wall of a 110 year old Victorian house! Anybody interested?
The Rest of the Story
Our springtime trip to the Hudson Valley of NY was a thing of beauty. Diving through Virginia's Shennandoah Valley with it's splashes of Red Bud and Dogwood blooms against the lush green of new pastures, framed by the famed Blue Ridge Mountains, was absolutely stunning!
The journey North ended where I-84 crosses the Hudson river, an area dappled with little towns and villages linked by winding two-lane roads, cratered by winter's ice and snow. After several days of exhausting exploration on line and in the car, we found our new home-to-be.
It is a three bedroom Victorian house built around 1900, that was completely renovated just a year or two ago. All new wiring, plumbing, insulation, storm windows & doors, kitchen and bath rooms... it is a marvel of restored original charm mixed with modern appliances and amenities. It even has a detached 2-car garage! Plus, we can afford the rent (no small feat, considering the cost of living in NY)!
The house is located in the town of Wappingers Falls, NY. The frothy rapids of the stream, hurtling down to the Hudson, divides the town along what appears to be rather distinct socio-economic lines. But the feeling of being surrounded by history, and the marvels of old architecture, give both sides of the town a great deal of charm. Best of all, it's an easy 20 minute drive to the college campus.Naturally, I'll be sending out new contact information as soon as it all comes to pass.
The house is about 10 minutes from the local train station, and the train only takes about an hour to reach Grand Central Station in Manhattan. Suddenly, going out for dinner and a show takes on a whole new level of meaning!
...And they tell me New York City is a good place for a voiceover guy like me to be near.
The Snowball Starts
Children are going to get the shaft! It's the end result of a current budget crisis felt by most of the school systems in the US. Here in Charlotte, NC, the job cuts are topping the 1,000 mark... over 60% are teachers. In many areas , the next expenses to go are "frills" like art, music, social studies... anything other than the famous three "R"s... Readin', 'Rite'n, 'Rithmatic.
Classrooms will become more crowded, resources will dwindle, teachers get even more work piled on them while wages get frozen, or cut altogether! Sports may become a "pay-to-play" proposition.
The end result will be a future in which we are a poorly educated nation, falling further and further behind as the rest of the world moves ahead. Inept government, shakey financial institutions, struggling industries unable to compete in the global marketplace...
Hmmm... did I say "future"?
the Worst of Times,
Why Is It....
When we're about to put one of our possessions on the market, we suddenly start taking much better care of it! Like a car. You may not have washed it or cleaned it out in a month of Sundays, but when it's time to sell it you begin to fix it up: It gets it's second coat of wax in 10 years... carpet and upholstery shampooed... that missing wheel cover gets replaced!
We wind up making things we want to sell look so good, we're tempted to keep them. Why didn't we do that in the first place?
I ask myself this as I run around the house seeing all the little things to which I've been turning a blind eye for the past couple of years: old, worn door hardware, cracked drywall, loose thresholds, etc. Why did I keep putting this stuff off?
Now, somebody else will get to enjoy this place in the condition I should have maintained for myself. Lucky them!
The difference between a prejudice and a conviction is that you can explain a conviction without getting mad.