Back in Austin

We spent December with the kids in Florida. It was good to see another stage of the grandkids, Connor and Ava, becoming themselves. They’re both doing well in school – Connor got all A’s except for one B, and Ava no longer struggles with math, which we are glad to see. Ava is developing a taste for the finer things in life: lobster and fresh raspberries; Connor is an adventurer, ready to plunge on into the wilderness when Papa is thinking about snakes and poison ivy.

We listened to audio books on the way down and back: on the way down it was The Boys in the Boat, the true story of the University of Washington 8-man rowing team that won gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. (That’s not a spoiler: the author reveals the outcome at the beginning.) It’s an inspiring story about perseverance, surrendering the self and a hundred other things. Maggie and I didn’t know a thing a rowing at the beginning and now we feel like we have the beginnings of an appreciation for the sport. The story was so compelling we actually looked forward to getting back in the boat – uh, car – and hearing more about Joe Rantz and the rest of the team.

On the way back the book was The Nightingale, a fictional story about the women of a French village during the Nazi occupation. It’s an engaging story in a completely different sense. Never mind the whipsaw we had of going from  testosterone to estrogen, it’s a slower, quieter story – at least at the beginning, which is as far as we’ve gotten. I like it because it’s finely observed and highly visual; Maggie gets a lot out of food descriptions, which break the story from time to time, but they work because the breaks emphasize the importance of food to people under extreme rationing.

Back in Austin, we are without a permanent home in our “home” town. We’re renting a condo that has just enough space for the essentials,  while the rest sits safely in a storage unit. The experience is teaching us what we value and how easy it is to do without all that other stuff.

It’s essential that we do without some of it, because it’s buried in the rest of our stuff in the overjammed little unit. We’ve made one visit to the storage unit, which was like Christmas where you don’t get everything you want. We got a lot of warm clothes, but for some reason the stereo and the winter coats are buried in the back someplace. Time for a trip to Goodwill and the pawn shop to pick up some temporary replacements.

It’s also liberating being in a familiar place with no familiar routine: no jobs, no commitments other that the ones we choose. Nothing to do but enjoy ourselves and plan the next phase: wandering around in Europe for a few months, seeing places that we’ve read about but haven’t visited, for one reason of another. It makes us kind of here and kind of not. I feel like our feet are not quite touching the ground.



Back in Austin

December on the Road to Florida – First Stop

Clay and I survived the packing, the move of our remaining furniture to storage, and the long drive to Florida. The drive? What a pleasant experience. We both love audio books, and we found a good one – The Boys on the Boat!

The month of December was the first month living from vacation rental to vacation rental. To say that December 2015 was amazing is an understatement. We arrived at our “Green Castle” early December, and fell in love with this lovely old (1926) home with its original wood floors, and ideal location – walking distance to downtown Melbourne. It didn’t take but minutes to unpack, set up our new “home” and then lickety-split, we’re off to see Wade, Chris and their two children (Ava & Connor).

Green House

The time spent with family included not only the Melbourne family, but my sister, Peggy, and her husband, Milton, my daughter, Wendy, and lastly my brother, Paul, and my sister-in-law, Susan. What a perfect way to begin our new life on the road with family visiting us in our Green Castle.

On December 22 we closed on our condo in Austin. What should have been an easy task turned into a gut wrenching experience. As Clay mentioned, the “the rain came” to Austin. A few days before the closing, our upstairs neighbor’s balcony sprung a leak, which dripped water down the windows of our condo. Of course, the potential buyers were going nuts (understandably I might add). Workmen came out and took care of the leak, including water tests to prove our windows were sound, as we already knew. The problem was the upstairs balcony caulking needed repairing, and the HOA took care of it.

However, the potential buyers took this as an opportunity to extort some extra money. On the day of closing, while we are at the bank in Melbourne notarizing the paperwork for the sale, we got a call from our realtor saying that the buyers needed $3K from us as insurance against future problems. Future problems? Needless to say, they knew the association had agreed it was their issue to fix – not the condo owner. After thinking about what little $3K is compared to the total amount of money, we caved and gave them their money, which we regarded as extortion, and moved on with the sale. My only consolidation is that if they call us to ask any questions about the appliances, etc, I will happily answer for $3K. J By the way, our wonderful realtor took half the money out of her commission, so it turned out we were only out $1.5K the day of the closing. *%#@!.


Clay and I had an interesting conversation about regrets. None! We have lived in several homes/condos over the past 33 years, and to be honest, we have never looked back with any regrets for moving on. I have some of my friends and family to say to us “How could you have left they beautiful home in Travis Heights? We (I) loved that house!” Well, so did we, but we desired a different life style, and that is what this recent change really is all about. We want to travel!

December on the Road to Florida – First Stop