Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Saga of Moving Mom


It is a cold Thursday afternoon at the end of January. We will have to wait until February for the usual January thaw. I am on Long Island helping my Mom move. She sold her home in which she lived for almost 60 years - six decades - and purchased an apartment in a senior building. The apartment has two bedrooms, one and a half baths, a small terrace, large windows and lots of light. The view includes a large tree, a house, and across the street – a cemetery.
We crossed our fingers everything would go smoothly. My sister and I have taken turns helping her pack and check out new digs. She put her house on the market ‘as is’. It needs a lot of work before anyone moves in. She and the realtor agreed on a price that was in the ‘we want to sell’ range.
Before we knew it the house was under agreement. Then the scrambling began. My Mom initially wanted to rent, but after several fruitless days of hunting within the few square miles in which she wanted to live – close to the places her life centers around – she was disappointed, despairing, and frustrated. We considered buying a place. The house-hunting story is a tale for another time. We found the ideal apartment in this 79-unit building.
Closing on both places was set for the same day. She closed on her home in the morning, and with the proceeds closed in the afternoon on the apartment. It was a wearying, prolonged happening, but the day finally arrived. We were permitted a few extra days in the house before vacating.
The scenario was: Tuesday closings, Wednesday the apartment would be painted, Thursday new carpeting installed, and Friday was moving day. We arranged for the movers to come in the morning, and in the afternoon the junk man would pull up in his truck and take everything remaining in the house.
Tuesday was emotionally exhausting, but it came and went. Wednesday morning we woke to a couple of inches of snow and, as the weather people call it, a mixed bag. We continued packing – an endless process and the story for another post another time. We tried to get out in the afternoon, but the snow that turned to rain quickly turned to sleet, so we decided to bag it and stay home. Meals were leftovers from the freezer and refrigerator.
The painting got underway and continued, somewhat erratically, Wednesday and Thursday. The smartest thing we did was contract with the building super to do the painting. We did not have to worry about him getting to the site – he was already there.
We awoke Thursday morning to several inches of new snow. This was a big one. We had over a foot of the stuff. Schools closed, trains delayed...Then the phone rings. The carpet cannot be installed; no one was working because of the snow. The truck would arrive at the apartment 7:00 a.m. Friday morning to put in the new carpet. The movers called and confirmed that, as long as the sidewalk was shoveled, they would be at the house 8:30 Friday morning. The walk was cleared. We are ready for the big day.
The carpet chronicles are a side story to the on-going moving saga. My sister and my Mom went to several stores scoping out carpet and prices. They decided on a store and specific carpet. My husband and I then went to see the carpet. Originally Mom was going to order the carpet and have it installed after Mom moved in. After some discussion we decided to try and find an in-stock carpet to avoid more hassle. We went to a couple of stores and picked a nice carpet  from the warehouse. That was last week. Tuesday late afternoon, on our way home from the second closing, we get a call – there was not enough carpet for the entire apartment. An additional role had not arrived. They told us they had it in stock. Well, they did – at another warehouse. Sometimes you just don’t know the right questions to ask. Tuesday evening, before heading home and collapsing, we returned to the carpet store. After perusing the options, we decided to go with our original choice for the living room and small bedroom. We chose another carpet for the master bedroom. Everything should be fine now…
It is Thursday afternoon. The painters should be done late tonight. They got a bit sidetracked because the super had to shovel snow – twice, on Wednesday and today. The carpet installers will, hopefully, show up early. The movers will follow. It should prove to be an unforgettable experience. One more day…

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Weathering Winter at Home

We purchased a new home several months ago. It is not really a new home; it is just new to us. It was built around 1950, the same year I was – gulp – born.  The house is in much better shape than I am.  It underwent a major makeover in the spring resulting in a new kitchen and bathroom, new paint, and refinished flooring. The house also lost a couple of walls as we opened up the living space.
It is now winter and cold outside. It is also rather cold inside. The house has gas heat, except for the family room. A later addition to the main house, the room has electric heat, poorly insulated walls and windows. My husband, an environmental consultant and engineer, is passionate in the extreme when it comes to heating our house, and paying for heating our house. He is intent on keeping the bills as low as possible, no matter what…
Without major upgrades to the family room, such as better windows and perhaps a fireplace insert we have been discussing, the family room is attractive to winter weather enthusiasts and the two of us wrapped in our hoodie footies. We keep the thermostat low in the main house, and off most of the time in the family room.
Did I mention we both work from home? There are two bedrooms upstairs, and we each claim one for an office. The good news is that both rooms have generous heating units. Most days the rooms are positively toasty. In the morning I quickly make breakfast, grab the paper and move upstairs (with my breakfast) for the duration of the day. I don’t even like going downstairs to make lunch. We turn the thermostat up about one hour before I go downstairs to make dinner. The kitchen warms up enough to be tolerable.
The routine was working fairly well until the gas bill arrived for December and the first week of January. It included the holidays when we had company and kept the temperature higher than usual throughout the house the entire day. The bill was well into the triple digits. The next thing I know the thermostat was turned down daytime another four 4 degrees. It is still nice upstairs, but not quite toasty.
Next winter I am planning on taking a vacation somewhere well south of the Frigid Zone.  This post is a bold request to friends in Las Vegas, Florida, and points south to invite us for a visit next winter.
We continue to talk about winterizing the family room by next winter. Meanwhile, I am hoping for an early spring.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Age Discrimination Rears its Ugly Head...

This time the target is a lot of older men and women – mostly women – who frequent a local gym. The gym is a wonderful, large facility with modern equipment, always clean, and not overcrowded. It has a great system for exercise classes. Individuals pay one membership price and can attend as many as they like. I currently attend one yoga and a couple of Zumba classes each week. Classes begin most mornings around 8:00 a.m. and run until noon, and are scheduled again from about 4:00 p.m. to eight p.m. in the afternoon and evening.
There are, I believe, two regular Zumba instructors. The instructor for the classes I attend recently celebrated her 60th birthday. She is tiny – I doubt she is five feet. She is in excellent shape, full of energy, jumps around and dances the entire hour. I am sure she can keep up with any Zumba enthusiast or instructor anywhere.
The gym is attempting to attract more mothers with young children.  The thinking is mothers drop the kids off at nursery school and have a few morning hours free. The gym wants them to spend some of that time at their facility. The director wants to bring in a younger Zumba instructor and change class hours to accommodate the younger generation.
What are they thinking? The country is on the cusp of a massive movement of baby boomers into retirement and leisure time activities. Why alienate them now? Most of the women in my morning Zumba classes range in age from the fifties to eighty. I know one woman recently turned 80; a couple of others are about the same vintage.
We will find out in a couple of weeks – at the end of the month – what is going to happen. We are lobbying to keep our instructor and classes. The Moms are welcome in our class, or additional classes could be added to attract the younger women. There are so many exercise alternatives nowadays.
My appeal to the director: Be creative and add different kinds of class that might attract younger women. And invite the women into our Zumba class. We may be older, but we can Zumba with any instructor and keep up with Zumba devotees of all ages. Do not alienate and shut out the people who are committed to these classes AND to your gym. Listen to everyone.
We will remember the indignity of being tossed aside and the feeling of being considered second class citizens. I realize younger families are the future. What about the young seniors as well as the older ones who have supported you all these years? Those of us in their fifties and sixties (hopefully) have a couple of decades (at least) of gym use ahead of us. That adds up to a lot of membership fees.
Baby boomers, seniors of today, the elderly in age but young in spirit – fight for your physical activity rights! We will be happy to have the young women join us. We would be happy to see additional classes on the schedule to accommodate diverse requests and desires. But we refuse to be shoved aside and forced to settle on classes, instructors, and times we do not like.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My Predictions for the New Year

·          Ed Rendell, the outgoing Governor of Pennsylvania, will go to Washington as a member of President Obama’s cabinet.
·         Rush Limbaugh will get divorced
·         The departing governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, will make a movie.
·         One of the Clintons will get a new job.
·         The summer of 2011 will break temperature records across the country.
·         At least one nasty hurricane will hit the U.S. in late summer or fall.
·         Lindsay Lohan will be back in rehab – again.
·         Too many people will revert to buying big, expensive, gas-guzzling vehicles.
·         Iceberg lettuce wedges once again make a comeback as a popular menu offering.
·         Lady Gaga gets pregnant.
·         Mike and Molly join Weight Watchers.
·         Vacationers flock to Ireland and Greece as these countries, in deep financial trouble, lure tourist dollars.
·         Gas prices spike to almost $4.00 just in time for the summer vacation season.
·         I will unpack the boxes remaining in the garage after our spring move.
·         I will lose ten pounds.