There is No Normal #COVID19

There is No Normal #COVID19

You hear, read and see this constantly: It’s our new normal; It’s the new normal. What the heck is that? What do our days and nights look like? Will “Groundhog Day” ever end?

Since we navigated the sale and closing of your Cherry Hill, New Jersey home in the middle of this #COVID19 crisis and permanently moved to the home in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire we bought in 2016, it’s very difficult to be happy in our #HappyPlace. I’m having good days and bad, just like most of us. I stocked the pantry and refrigerator; arranged an online fruits and vegetables delivery every other week, and continued to unpack boxes and reorganize the house – given that we are planning a major renovation later this year. (Who knows if THAT will happen.)

We are blessed to have a spectacular view of #LakeWinnipesaukee and we can find

places to walk or drive where there are no people around. We’re gloving up and plan to wear face masks for protection – and to protect others, given that we’re self-isolating at least two weeks. A few people have volunteered to pick up any groceries we might need – and I may take them up on that later this week when we run our of milk and bananas.

Speaking of bananas, why is my mother and mother-in-law seemingly living in a world of denial? My mom seems to have finally embraced the fact that she must stay away from other people. But is she really doing that? When she tells me she’s wearing gloves, she actually means her regular gloves; the ones she wears to drive. When she says she’s ‘staying in,’ that means except to go out probably once a day to the store to get “one or two things” she says she “needs.”

Closing on our Cherry Hill, NJ house officially took place March 27. Until that moment, mom kept saying on the phone, “Let me know if you want us to come over.” By “us,” she meant her, my brother and sister-in-law. Oy. It was all my brother and I could do to just gloss over those statements from mom. Until March 27, she kept saying she was praying the whole thing would just ‘go away.’

Now, about 10-days later, she’s inside her senior citizen apartment building. BUT – she keeps going down to the library (a common room) where I’m sure she’s touching things, such as the remote control, sitting in a chair – touching it. and who knows what else. She claims to not be touching anything. Oh, she’s wearing those ‘gloves.’ But we have no clue whether she’ll get through this OK. I’m sure many people have parents, relatives and friends who are acting in a similar way.

My mother-in-law is allowing her cleaning person to come into her place in Florida. She’s also mentioned to my husband, by phone, that she’s visited a few neighbors. Hopefully, she means from six-feet away; but who knows.  She’s also going to the farmer’s market in her community to get fresh fruits and vegetables. She visits that market in normal times, so I can only guess that she may not be taking appropriate precautions with anything she purchases or know how the vendors are handling their merchandise.

Our son continues his full-time job at a retailer considered an essential business. No one is allowed in the store. All purchases are made by phone, credit card and taken to the curb for customer pick-up. I’m worries about him every single day. He’s a smart guy and completely award of this crisis. His anxiety level is likely high; never mind any possible depression or isolation concerns.

What this all comes down to is: we can only control our house; our car; our purchases -our behavior. When crisis happens, I like to plan things I can look forward to: the renovation, for example. We still need to get one more estimate and we hope that contractor can come by later in April – but who knows? Meantime, I peruse Pinterest, Wayfair, HGTV posts dreaming about what our place will look like – some day.  I add to that what the house will look like a year from now. More immediate plans include trying to plan the spring gardening, planting herbs; maybe some tomatoes; will I start my summer flowers from seeds?

I’ve mentioned to Doug about planning a future road trip or vacation. Who knows when we can do that. Will our families be able to visit this summer? We have no clue. I’m trying to be optimistic, positive, upbeat – it’s not easy. Now, I have to go wash my hands. Be well.

Pros Adjust to the #COVID-19 World

Pros Adjust to the #COVID-19 World

#COVID-19 has changed our professional landscape – perhaps forever. Businesses that balked at allowing telecommuting are embracing staff taking initiating and connecting, producing and meeting whatever deadlines are in place. Restaurants – those that can survive this chaos – are enlisting waitstaff to connect with customers online and by phone to take and produce pick-up or delivery orders. Teachers from kindergarten through higher education are instructing students, responding to messages, and finding new avenues to explore with their classes.

It is difficult to not be somewhat emotional during this chaos. I am continuing to teach my Rutgers business communications course that was already an online class. Only one of 30 students has dropped in the past week; a few others are trying to catch up as they deal with effects of #COVID-19 in their lives. I struggle with whether I should make changes in the course or try to maintain some normalcy. Finding the compromise seems to have worked so far.

Deadlines are softened; extension requests considered more closely; slight adjustments to the team project; all of these tweaks are allowing students the ability to breathe a little easier in order to complete successfully complete the course. So that’s one small victory.

My client, as always, is incredibly supportive. The growing real estate development Eden & Main Townhomes - November 7, 2019company, Kokes Properties, LLC has me crafting some content in part focusing on sales success during this difficult period. It’s a balance to encourage potential new home buyers to consider this new townhome construction while navigating this crisis that changes daily. Michael J. Kokes and his expert team are proceeding with this nearly-complete project and are fortunate to be economically sound during this period.

Will we revert to our ‘old’ ways and operations when the danger has passed? Some businesses will – others will not. Time will tell. Our Realtor mentioned that the way they do business may never be the same.

Now, for the personal. We have sold our home of more than 27 years and are moving  LivingRoom boxespermanently to New Hampshire where we bought a home in 2016. We have developed a community of friends in the small town. Our life transitioned there as we found more happiness and quality of life there.

Times are bittersweet for all of us; professionally and personally. When we talk about professional soft skills, listening and empathy are among them. Listen well, understand questions and comments given this unusual time and thoughtfully make decisions and choices that can benefit your organization, team, business – and you. Be well.

It’s Been a While…Life has Changed #COVID-19

Gosh, has life changed. Yes, I fell off the blogging wagon in the past months; discovered listening to podcasts, concentrated on teaching online, focused on a couple of new clients and planned our major, permanent move – to New Hampshire.

It’s a late winter and start to spring like no other in our lifetime. As of this writing in Ext-front1-20200219March 2020, our new normal includes hashtags #COVID-19 #socialisolating #quarantine #coronavirus and many more related to the #COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world, infecting tens of thousands and claiming thousands of lives.

Not since September 11th have we felt this surreal sense of daily living. Everything has changed while we try to create some semblance of normalcy.  Once again, we are seeing and hearing stories of selfless humanity: neighbors helping neighbors with errands – dropping off food and supplies. Yesterday, I literally rang a neighbor’s doorbell and almost ran away.

#Socialdistancing is another hashtag trending. Humans naturally want to connect. The dichotomy of living in a small, New Hampshire town and in the Philadelphia region is startling. Dealing with #socialdistancing in Cherry Hill has been at times annoying, hilarious and a little scary. I went to Home Depot to pick up moving boxes. A woman in her late 60s or early 70s started chatting with me about the current state of affairs. She kept moving in toward me. You know how you feel when someone ‘invades’ your personal space? That space has expanded and she was well short of the six-feet recommendation. So, I backed up and wrapped up the pleasantries with her fairly quickly. As for #Wolfeboro, I left there to come back to Cherry Hill before New Hampshire was hit by the virus; now, our friends there are also isolating and schools, businesses, houses of worship are closed or severely restricted to the public.

#Washyourhands is something we should always do. Now, I am washing my hands so much, I need to double-up on the hand cream. Last night, while drying one of the only wine glasses I have not packed here in Cherry Hill, the glass shattered; I gashed a finger – bad enough that Doug drove me to an urgent care site in the neighborhood. Every staff member was masked (except behind their work station area – which I thought was odd); the x-ray technician was not masked, nor the x-ray receptionist. I was out of there in an hour.

MtWillard-Us-Aug2019We’ve been urged to get fresh air when we can. I’ve taken some walks and have noticed more people than usual walking, running, biking. (It still boggles my mind that kids do not wear helmets when biking). The receptionist who had to walk me back to the urgent care treatment room had just come inside from what she called a break to get some fresh air. She reeked of cigarette smoke. She lamented how the inside air gets so stuffy that she needs to step outside. Did she really think I did not smell the remnants of her true reason for a break outside? The scenario was mildly funny.

While we continue to pack here, the process of getting to the closing table with our buyers has been somewhat hampered by #COVID-19. Township offices are closed and staff down to a minimum with most working remotely. Since I have community connections after all these years here, I was able to reach a few people to move things along. We’ll see shortly the whether March 27th closing takes place – or how long it might be delayed.

Meantime, we adjust, cope, forgive, laugh, hope, pray, exercise, plan and proceed with our new normal. May you and your family be well.

Earth Festival: It Takes a Village

Earth Festival: It Takes a Village

‘Reduce Plastic – Fantastic!’ at the April 28th Earth Festival

Can you imagine how much single-use plastic is used in your home? The 9th Sustainable Cherry Hill Earth Festival April 28th – in part – is designed to impress upon the 5000 visitors from across South Jersey to consider reducing plastic consumption.

Society has become focused on convenience. It can be a heavy lift to suggest that people not buy cases of plastic water and drink bottles. Many people are convinced tap water is ‘not good’ for you. There are filter systems and options to consider without buying cases of water bottles. And we can consider that for the most part, those drink bottles are not recyclable – forever; eventually, they end up in the waste stream. Have you heard about the plastic island of waste continuing to grow in the ocean?

Details surrounding the Sustainable Cherry Hill Earth Festival involve education and outreach. It’s hoped that sponsors, vendors, non-profit groups, government and school displays consider the problems of single-use plastic. Ultimately, it’s hoped everyone participating at the festival will think more about how they can be part of the solution.

Bringing a reusable bottle for NJ American water refills; and a coffee mug for Treehouse Cafe $2 local coffee helps reduce waste at the festival.

Beyond the focus on reducing plastic waste, South Jersey’s largest eco-event marking Earth Day takes place at historic Croft Farm in Cherry Hill. It’s an all-weather event from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Health and wellness is part of sustainability. The Earth Festival includes LourdesCare’s free yoga session on the Croft Farm lawn at 8:30 a.m. (bring your mat) and 10:30 a.m. chair yoga on stage (bring your chair). Lourdes, Ravitz Family Markets and other displays also include nutrition and other wellness information.

The Family Fun Bike Ride has folks checking in starting at 8 a.m.; getting bike safety checks from Erlton Bike Shop; and donning helmets for the two or nine-mile ride from Croft Farm and back in time for the 9:45 opening Earth Festival ceremony. Registration for the bike ride and waiver is here.

Here are just a few of the #SCHEarthFest events April 28th: Click HERE for event-day map/schedule)

  • Croft Farm parking can get tight: Bike valet parking is free!
  • Free bare-root tree seedlings are available while supply lasts.
  • Recycling Depot Dropoff:
    • gently worn shoes,
    • wire hangers
    • rechargeable batteries
    • plastic bags and bottle caps – which are not recyclable
    • gently-used books
  • Kiddie craft with your plastic bottle caps
  • Moon-bounce and more for kids
  • Thought-provoking school displays
  • Two-stages of entertainment
  • NEW – Sustainable Sips: two Flying Fish brews for purchase by visitors with ID
  • lunch-time visit from the Phillie Phanatic + East Cougar and West Lion
  • healthy food choices for purchase
  • perennial plant-swap and gardening advice
  • arts and crafts; bottle-cap creature craft for kiddies
  • rain barrel and other demonstrations to reduce your carbon footprint.

Generous sponsors include:

Presenting sponsors-  Lourdes Health System, Ravitz Family Markets, Hutchinson Plumbing, Heating, Cooling (Hutchinson provides volunteer t-shirts)

Leadership sponsors: M Rosenblatt Roofing, Holman Enterprises

Evergreen sponsor: Sustainable Camden County

Leaf Sponsors: Wegman’s, NJ American Water, Renewal by Andersen, Kitchen Magic

In-Kind sponsors: My Gym, The Farmhouse

The 9th Sustainable Cherry Hill Earth Festival is produced in partnership with the non-profit Sustainable Cherry Hill, Cherry Hill Township, and Cherry Hill School District.

Producer – Brenda Jorett,

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What’s Next Productions, LLC

 

Wolfeboro Project: 5 Winter Wonders in Wolfeboro

Wolfeboro Project: 5 Winter Wonders in Wolfeboro

IMG_2824Our ‘what’s next’ journey at our Happy Place is its second winter season; and as with most home ownership, it’s all about the big bucks. (If I didn’t laugh about it, I’d cry.) These five winter wonders are a mix of fantastic and homeowner dilemmas which I know will make many smile or cringe – or both.

  1. Best Plowing Ever

n the Philadelphia area, the whining, road-preparation and bread-and-milk-runs, begin days in advance of a predicted storm. In New England =- and specifically in the Lakes Region area, winter weather is taken in stride. Most often we hear, “What do you expect? It’s New England!”

There’s no salt-solution spray on the roads in advance of a storm; little road salt used (probably because of extreme cold); and sanding is common. Now, the plowing, local, state and community – is absolutely incredible, For example, in the midst of the March 2017 blizzard, our community plow team (shout-out to #CommunityLandscapeCompany, Wolfeboro) plowed our two neighborhood streets four times – in white-out conditions. This recent January storm, the plows hit our streets numerous times before the storm (to clean up and widen snow-clearing area); during the storm to keep up with the foot or so that fell; and several times after to take care of drifting snow, icing, etc. Fantastic!

2. Mailboxes be Damned

On the flip side of great plowing, mailboxes and the posts they’re on are casualties . Ofttimes, plow trucks will back into or clip the mailboxes that are nearly covered with plowed snow.

3. Schools are Open

 

During extreme weather, yes, schools are closed here since buses, teachers and staff do have trouble getting out for various reasons. Once the storm passes and roads are clear, the next day, these students are back at the bus stop and schools are open (Perhaps with a delay).

It seems schools do NOT close in advance of a storm as they often do in the Philadelphia area. And a little ice and an inch or two of snow will NOT close schools here. It’s great to see kids skipping to the bus stop.

4. Timing is Everything

When it comes to home improvement, timing can be everything. In the midst of the ferociously cold weather here in late December and during the New Year holiday, we noticed a gash in our driveway birch tree. I dug up a business card of a local tree business, Billy’s Best Deal Tree Service. Bill called us back the same day; came out and took a look on a Sunday afternoon; gave us a fair price for  tree removal; called us the night before he was coming; and showed up EARLY the next day with a bucket truck, chipper truck and a crew of three. In just over an hour, the tree was safely taken down and the remaining wood cut into manageable pieces for our use as firewood in a year. Yay, Bill! Thank you!

5. Things Happen in Threes

For Christmas, Doug got me a new sofa for the Happy Place living room. Yay! No more 1984 flowered couch with a $2 yard sale (but new) slipcover over it. The couch made my neck hurt. Our gorgeous LazBoy sofa just warms up our living room – which some day will be renovated along with the kitchen.

One evening, Doug was bopping around in the dark and bumped into the end table by the new sofa. A glass thermometer, filled with some sort of alcohol shattered. Yes, all over the new sofa. Fortunately with rapid cleanup and luck, there is no stain. All is well.

The birch tree happened next and that is all good.

Now, the 1980s harvest gold refrigerator has died. Dead – no cold, no freezing. So we are in the midst of dealing with that. We have a mini-fridge and a chest freezer, plus some coolers all in action in the meantime. We’ll survive.

Ya Gotta Laugh

The funniest thing that happened in Wolfeboro was during a stop at the Harvest Market. Everyone talks and says, “hi” at the grocery store – even if you don’t know anyone. On my way out with my two reusable bags – one from #RavitzShoprite, a woman coming in remarked,” Shoprite! You must be from New Jersey!.” I responded,”Yes, I’m from New Jersey and it’s time for the “Can-Can Sale.” She said she really misses Shoprite. Funny!

So, what’s next? It’d be great to get through the next couple of months with nothing to worry about. Hold your breath! Long live Happy Place!

The Wolfeboro Project: Take a Breath

The Wolfeboro Project: Take a Breath

IMG_1913So much to do; so little time; and so much money! Our DIY or hire-a-contractor project in Wolfeboro, NH made serious inroads this summer – mainly outside the fixer-upper. Now we figure out, what’s next?

There’s advice everywhere; from HGTV and Houzz to blogger after blogger. The approach we are taking is a combination of research and advice plus our own common sense and ideas about what we can do ourselves.

Here’s a sample of what we were able to accomplish since we settled in our house in May 2016:

  • replaced old sliding glass doors in living room and bedroom with French doors and stained these new doors
  • added water/air radon remediation system
  • hired a ‘bug guy;’ Dean we love you! You give great advice and have kept us virtually pest-free.
  • hired a septic system company to inspect and pump the system regularly
  • cleared away brush, leveled an area to create two parking spots
  • hired a plow guy for winter
  • remodeled guest bathroom (DIY)IMG_3472
  • painted one of two guest bedrooms & furnished both – mainly with re-purposed, used furniture (two new mattresses/box springs in twin room); furniture purchased at local antique shops, online yard sales, yard sales and friends/family
  • painted the main living/dining area
  • built new screened porch on existing section of 58-foot long deck including:
    • added walkway to screened porch from side of house
    • shored up existing deck
    • replaced roofing on more than half the house, plus new porch roof
    • replaced gutters and downspouts
    • replaced bay window with French doors – and stained it
    • replaced kitchen casement windows to screened porch with large slider window – and stained it
  • replaced original garage doors (1976 construction)
  • removed (we hope) more than 2700 square feet of Japanese Knotweed on a portion of our 1.8 acres

IMG_0538I am out of breath just looking at this list and we have not even begun to attack the major interior projects and of course we have to consider new siding on the house and a load of landscaping projects.

So, where do we go from here? We of course, have to consider time, budget, and what is DIY-able. Topping the DIY list is our master bathroom. The 1976 baby-blue bathroom with flowered wallpaper is large enough and what we want to do is mainly cosmetic. If money were no object, we’d probably rip everything out to the studs and start over. You know that is probably a conservative $7000-$10,000 proposition. We’re talking about having the 48-inch shower professionally painted; replacing the toilet and maybe the 60-inch vanity. The carpet has to go (Who carpets a bathroom? Answer: they did in the 1970s.).

Judging by the superb job Doug did in remodeling the guest bathroom, we can probably tackle our bathroom. We’ll likely have to hire a plumber to access the walk-in shower fixtures and who knows how difficult the wallpaper removal might be. Our goal will be to re-do the bathroom for $2500. That looks crazy seeing that goal in writing – but we can get very close to that.

What’s down the road? a major interior update of the kitchen; main level flooring and replacing about 1000 square feet of downstairs carpet; complete down stairs painting and of course, the siding.

Anyone have a spare few thousand for our reno budget?

 

 

The Wolfeboro Project: Thank you! (It’s Not Over, Yet)

Summer in our Happy Place has sped by. And as the world and our society shifts, evolves and develops, so too does our second home here in Wolfeboro. More than the home, though are the wonderful people who make a house a true home.

Our screened porch project took many weeks; from April until after the end of July we had our contractor crew, electricians, roofers, gutter installer and our garage door installer in and out of driveway. They became part of our extended family – if only temporarily. While the final numbers on this portion of our renovation have been eye-opening and sometimes eye-popping, we have been so happy with the results.

Spending quiet time, family time, reading time and just being in our porch oasis is everything we hoped for. Thank you to these skilled workmen who were always pleasant; they cleaned up; corrected any problems along the way and offered insightful ideas on how to make our porch so beautiful and comfortable: Craig Howland, Howland Siding and Insulation and Larry, George and Terry.

When I met the owner of the garage door company, Nick Leighton, Overhead Door Options, I was in the middle of a nutty work day. He actually gave me a hug at the end of our meeting saying, “It looks like you need a hug.” We were still in the midst of having the porch completed and he understood our concerns about this 70s home and our continuing project.

To top it off, Nick’s price was better than other prices we checked out; his installer, Jason was truly a pro; and the doors arrived and were installed on time and on budget. Oh, my! And the house looks amazing – despite other improvements still needed (siding, paint, etc.).

We’re now in the midst of mediating an invasive species – Japanese Knotweed. We have 2700 square feet of the plant on our corner property. Ephraim Baker is doing a terrific job so far; we hope to start considering some plant cleanup so our corner property looks less wild.

Beyond our home, the people we have met and spent time with this summer are overall – so amazing and lovely. I have been working in town and get to see Wolfeboro residents as well as so many visitors and tourists who actually lean in to hear recommendations for restaurants, museums and more that Wolfeboro and the Lakes Region offers during the season. One of my co-workers told me I should work for the chamber of commerce because my knowledge of the area was so impressive. It’s hard to believe I have soaked up so much knowledge about the area during our years of vacationing here and now owning a home.

Our new friends have been so much fun; from Thirsty Thursday on the Winnipesaukee Belle with co-workers and friends to Tom and Cami’s staff party at their island home; the Ossipee Boys Concert, Cate Park concerts, our Katie’s Kitchen friends: Patty, Bruce, Grace, Joyce, Joe, Bonnie, Roger – and so many others; co-workers Mary Ann, Cindi, Louise, Julia, Ellen; Olympia Gym pal Roxie – and others there who were always so nice – including staffer June; our Springfield Point friends, Laurie, Mona, Randy, Susan; Winterhaven friends, Missy, Doug – and new friends Joann, Charlie as well as Penny, Paul; and Cate at Wolfeboro Corinthian Yacht Club and some of our Alpine Meadows neighbors – the list is getting longer.

Our family and friend visits this summer have been tons of fun and those visits go way too fast. From Doug’s mom’s 85th birthday celebration week and the family in town for that and their vacations – to our friends Jarrod and Leah visiting to Adam FINALLY getting here and visits by my mom, brother Steve and wife, Sue – there are not enough thanks – and hours in the day – to enjoy everyone.

While this post is meant to be a Wolfeboro Project update, it is a bit of advice to people who are considering a second home or a move to a small town: embed yourself in the town. Listen, learn, share – and be an active participant. Embrace the local culture; adapt to how your new community does things since it’s probably different from your other town.

I’ve been to local community meetings, the library, town hall, non-profit group events, museum lectures about the region and more this summer. I’ve chatted with the police chief and officers, fire department staff; went to the library and public safety open houses; I wish I had done more.

The thing I am embracing is – this is now our life. We’ll be here seasonally as we continue to work (with visits throughout the fall and winter as we can). Our Wolfeboro Project will continue – and we’ll learn the lessons of home renovation, living in a small town and basking in this beautiful place we call home: Wolfeboro, NH.

The Wolfeboro Project: The Ugly Truth

The Wolfeboro Project: The Ugly Truth

Porch addition051417Damn that #HGTV! Between #FixerUpper and the other home makeover shows I’ve watched for the past 10 years, I thought I was savvier than most. Frankly, I know nothing about home improvement.

Today marks one year since we closed on what I continue to call my ‘Happy Place.’ It’s

obvious to us now, we’re looking at a 10-year project. Unless we come into a bucket-full of money, we’ll renovate what we can ourselves and plan and budget for the major projects.

After just a year invested in this project, here’s my best advice if you’re considering a fixer upper:

  1. Be sure the bones of the house are in good shape: unless you’re buying a ‘knock down,’ be sure you have a solid home – from the windows and floors to the roof and walls.
  2. IMG_0390Location, location, location still rules; if you love you view, neighborhood, home site – almost everything else is cosmetic.
  3. Break projects down into smaller, manageable chunks. Doug managed to re-do the guest bathroom in a weekend. But we made sure in advance, we had all the necessary items including a new vanity and fixture, flooring, lighting, most major accessories, paint for the walls and cabinet, etc. We could not have completed the update in a weekend if we did not have all the items and supplies.
  4. Pick your battles: it’s easy to disagree about a project. Realize not everything will go your way. Compromise, compromise, compromise.

All this as I work in my office listening to a comedy radio channel blaring outside and our three artisans are literally hammering away at the screened porch addition. Doug is really admiring the craftsmanship (yay); I just want it to be done. Patience, Brenda.

We chose our contractor mainly because Doug really liked him. I yielded since Doug had a background in construction. So he is able to talk construction language with the contractor – which is hugely important.

Once this addition is done and we can enjoy New Hampshire days and evenings on the screened porch – then we’ll breathe a while – and figure out what project is next.

The fixer-upper truth may not be pretty, but we keep our eye on the prize knowing it’s a long game and worthwhile.

When We Were Young(er) #NEHS135

When We Were Young(er) #NEHS135

Wasn’t 1976 just a few years ago? It’s been decided by about 180 classmates at our 40th reunion that 58 is indeed – the new 48. The heck with our biological age. We look fabulous.

rhawnhurst1Our high school class had about 1,100 students – huge by any high school standard. We are the tail end of the Baby Boomers; the beginning of GenX. Stories of life I listened to throughout our event made me believe even more deeply that our lives are certainly what we mold them to be. We share journeys of our lives – loves and likes, divorces and new marriages, triumphs and challenges – all were inspiring.

There were so many faces that I did not remember – until I connected their name on their tag with the 1976 yearbook face; I’d scan up from the name tag to their face – and their 2016 face was now completely in focus. My new impressions of those faces – Elizabeth, Patty, Marci, Nancy, Ed, Eric, another Ed, Frank, Nick, Janet, Margot, Debbie, Temi, and even my Wing Man, Marc, Jack Merle, Sharon, Aaron, Cindi, Ellen, Mark, the other Mark, Bruce, Harris, Abbe, Howard – and so many others – fill the card file in my brain.

As I was getting ready for the reunion, I did not want to go. I had many things to take care of in my present day life, I did not want to revisit the past. Oh, am I img_2533glad I took the time to be with all these people last night. Because of social media, conversations, in many cases were jump-started by, “So, you have a new house in New Hampshire,” and “Wow, I saw you have two grandchildren.” It’s incredible how many times I was ask, “Are you retired?” or “Are you retired – yet?” Geez – that option is really not on the radar screen.

It’s wonderful some folks at the gathering are retired or semi-retired. Many are traveling, sitting back and enjoying the many years of working so hard to create the lifestyle they want at this vibrant age. Someone practically yelled at me when I mentioned I was concerned that we might only have a good 15 years to enjoy our New Hampshire home the way we want to. And we ended that quick conversation with ‘the 70s will be the new 50s.’

img_2531There were people who could not be at the reunion – and I missed seeing them. They had their reasons; if you are reading this – know that so many people asked about you and hope you are well.

So, I put the dress I wore last night back in the closet. I’m downloading some photos and paging through the class of ’76 yearbook one more time before I put it back on the shelf . I’m so grateful for the memories past and now present – adding to my card file of people and their lives that help me forge ahead toward a happy, new beginning.

The Wolfeboro Project: Survival Tips

The Wolfeboro Project: Survival Tips

When you take on a new house project – especially a fixer – your tip list grows quickly. Despite bouts of fear and sticker-shock, we are still on the road to a home we already love in a town we are quickly growing more and more attached to.

Let’s get right to the tips – based on our missteps, lessons learned and a sprinkling of luck.

  1. Three Ps remain the mantra: patience, persistence and perspective – making measured, informed  decisions result in the project moving along at a pace that works with your budget and schedule. Trust your gut – if you have a shadow of a doubt on a decision, think it through again.
  2. Stick to the plan: we decided to work on this house from the outside-in. While we continue to talk about the ultimate interior renovations, other than some paint and a few window treatments, we are not planning a major investment on the interior until the outside is in shape – or close to it.
  3. Under-play your fixer – your family will be pleasantly surprised. We have told our families that we have a lot of work ahead; deferred maintenance are the words the Realtors used in describing the house (former owned didn’t do much at all to improve or even maintain the house). When our families visited the house this past month, they practically scolded us for describing the house as we have. They, too see the possibilities and  good bones of the house. Their collective responses amount to, “You made the house sound awful; it’s really lovely.” Of course, it’s not their project – but it is good to know we are not crazy and we have their support!
  4. Small-town, small steps. Figure out your possible DIY projects. In a small town – or any town – you can find someone to do anything for you – but you will pay in time and of course, money. Getting on a contractor’s small-town schedule takes finesse; be flexible and communicate with each contractor.
  5. Be specific: when  dealing with your contractor’s estimate continue to do research and ask people for help and advice. Doug reached out to his brother for advice since he had done major remodeling; we compared and contrasted details in estimates and asked contractors to provide more details. Be sure you have a timeline – or at least a finish date. Your two month-long project can stretch to months and months if you do not stay on top of details.
  6. Don’t be afraid to say, “No:”we nixed one project one of our contractors quoted because of price and the cross-over with another project and contractor. When in doubt put the brakes on.
  7. BREATHE: remember why you started this journey. Every day I love and enjoy this house and this town more. Every little DIY task or decision leads us to what will become our very special place. We continue to enjoy the lake, hiking, biking, boating. water-skiing, sailing; town concerts and cultural events; the local gym and shops; amazing lobster, ice cream and food that just tastes better here; getting to know people in town and spending time with them and becoming part of this community.

Those are seven tips for now; there are probably many more to come. With a full month under our belts here, we are heading back to our other home shortly. That will bring the inevitable culture shock (I haven’t waited a traffic light or been in a traffic jam for weeks!). We have a better idea of what to expect at this Happy Place; we have some big projects coming up at this house and we’ll be popping up for brief stays throughout the coming months. Being on this journey with an amazing husband and great family and friend support leaves me content and ever-hopeful of what this home will be in a few years.