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: 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.

What’s Next 2016

Taking a moment to reflect pushes me more toward looking forward. When I read about issues and news stories that ask the question, “How could this have been prevented?” I ask the question, “How can we make changes for our children and their children?” My top three changes start CO2016_09with mind and body.

1. During this year, my hope is to daily, say or do (or at least think) something positive about or to another person. Enough with the negativity; it gets you no where and probably adds to the lines in my face. So, enough. As much or as best as possible, smile, and respond with, “I hear what you’re saying.” Do we really think we’re going to change another person’s mind when they are loaded for bear and ready to take someone’s head off? People don’t change that much; it makes more sense to take positive energy; shrug to yourself and perhaps try to think something positive about that negative person. Plus, I’d like to record weekly, a positive outcome for that week – business, family/friends, personal or something out of the ordinary.

2. After two body part replacements since 2011, I have learned that fitness Sunset7_06is supreme. I get through each workout day in a positive way; my nutrition is key and adds to my positive mindset. For 2016, this journey will continue:

  • Start each day with 20 sips of water (thank you #NBCJennaWolf);
  • Two-three workout days per week with stationary bike action at the house in between and more outside recreation.
  • #OptOutside is tough. We get caught up at the office – which for me is my home – and it’s difficult to carve out at least 30 minutes outdoors. This, I will work on.

DB_BJB_Settlement_April2011 - Copy

3. Date night keeps things fresh. This is our 25th anniversary year. Marriage is a partnership that grows, ebbs, flows and evolves. It is never perfect. At least once a month – beyond the usual outings – we’ll go to a comedy club, enjoy something cultural and take turns yielding to the other when it comes to things we enjoy doing.

Whatever fits in your world, resolve to make it happen. Find what makes you happy and set out to accomplish the goal – no matter how small or large. Your positive action will sustain you; the positive karma may catch on you those around you and be infectious in a very positive way.

 

Remembering Dad: A Year Gone By

Remembering Dad: A Year Gone By

Frank Jorett, 2006

Frank Jorett, 2006

Dear Dad-
It’s been a year since your journey to a better place began. Every day, we think of you and most times, we shed a tear. No one said adjusting to our world without you would be easy.
In my mind’s eye, I talk with you. I hear your infectious laugh – especially when you tell a joke – and you laugh all the way through the joke. I hear you tell a story from the past; Your incredible memory holds names, dates and places most of us have forgotten or just can’t quite remember.
You wanted to have one more trip on our boat – and you were with us all season this year. You were on Lake Winnepesaukee and Chesapeake Bay. You were with us in Ocean City in June and probably for the first time – you spent all day on the beach and went in the ocean. You went to spring training in Florida with mom and I. You were at the Phillies games despite a disappointing season. I talked to you about each game and heard you offer those Phils advice (they didn’t listen).

Bustleton Swim Club, July 2013

Bustleton Swim Club, July 2013

You were at the swim club under your tree with all your friends and with mom, of course. You were with Steve shopping, at church, at Sandy Cove and all the places you enjoyed with your son.
Every place we go – you are with us. Even if it’s around the dinner table – you are in our hearts and souls. While we can’t see you now, we know you are watching over each of us.
Hundreds came to pay respects last November 2nd and we are still bowled over by that show or love, support and remembrance.
This year has passed quickly – as most years do once you get to be of a certain age. We know you want us to be happy and live our lives with joy and verve. It’s a little more difficult without you here to share our lives. We move forward with your zest for life in mind – every day.
OceanCityJune07_02We know you’re happy that mom is so very busy with her new normal. Her friends are always around; Steve and I visit with her and talk with her often. We’re helping her – and she is helping us with her love and support.
We hope you are resting well and being the social butterfly you always have been. Keep playing cards and bingo with your pals; keep watch over us all and know every day you are in our hearts.

We love you and miss you.
Brenda Jorett Breskin
– and our family
Nancy Jorett
Stephen Jorett
Sue Jorett
Doug Breskin
Adam Breskin
Rob Jorett & Bonnie Taggert
Mike Jorett & great-granddaughter Fiona
– and your many friends, extended family, Philadelphia Fire Department colleagues, Aritsans, Bustleton Swim Club, church, FOP apartment residents and staff, and so many more people whose lives you touched.

The Written Word

The Written Word

When your children and your children’s children go through the family things some day, what will they find? Perhaps not our generation, but surely our children’s generation one thing that will not be passed down is the written word.

oldlettersOver the weekend, I hauled into the house from an old desk stored in the garage, a drawer filled with my life. Most of what was stowed away for years was from the early years in my radio career, but I also discovered high school memorabilia I thought was long gone – and frankly, I hadn’t even thought about it for decades. What I found that was most meaningful, were cards and letters from friends and family members.

There’s a letter from my ‘mom-mom’ who died in 1995. The letter is dated December 31, 1981. She tucked into the note another note that she received from a niece of my late grandfather. She listened to me on the radio back then and was so glad to have that connection. My grandmother wrote how proud she was of me.

A letter from my elementary school gym teacher dated November 10, 1981 wrote of how he and my other two favorite teachers had formed a ‘fan’ club and how they too, were listening to me on WMGK and were proud. I found letters from radio fans who talked about their lives and how connected they felt listening to me and the people I worked with. Most important were all the letters my brother wrote me when he was in the Air Force. This was in the early to mid 1980’s. These letters are particularly significant because my brother suffered a life-changing accident during his time in the Air Force and lost the use of his right arm. The letters he wrote before the accident describe his homesickness as well as the fun he was having seeing other places and meeting new people. He ultimately me his wife – and they lived happily ever after. But it was emotional for me to read the handwriting he had before the accident. He learned how to use his left hand and has done extremely well over the past 20+ years.

What will the next generation have to look through when they look at their history? Emails, documents, blog posts like this, a Google search. The written word – putting pen to paper – is often from our hearts and minds. The physical act of writing, not typing, is somehow therapeutic.  While writers today do indeed express themselves well by typing words, too often a majority of people so dislike writing that they shorten everything down. “R u going 2nite? OMG me 2. C u l8tr.”

When I work with clients and we are able to get media coverage, I always encourage them to write a ‘thank you’ to the reporter. If they want to type out an email, that’s OK, but looking at these files of handwritten cards I have – many of then ‘thank yous,’ I am so incredibly glad I’m a little bit of a pack rat. For me, there’s nothing like a personal card that someone had to choose or just find that blank sheet of paper to write a thoughtful few lines or more to offer their thanks.

The letters from my grandmother and my brother and some friends are a part of me. They describe personal history that was going on back then and how they were interwoven in my life. My grandmother has been gone for years, but to read these letters I found makes me know that she was a part of me – and I of her. I can hear her laughing right now – probably after telling a dirty joke.

Consider writing a card the next time you need to get in touch with someone. It’s worth the time and effort; and on the other end of that card, there is probably a friend, family member, colleague or someone you listen to, who will tuck that card in a file for safe keeping.

 

No Complaints

I went through the painless process today of having blood work done. It’s the first step in what will be an involved process as I tackle this hip device dilemma. As depressed as I felt the end of last week and into this week, I couldn’t help but realize that I’ll be just fine.

There I was at the lab, rolling up my sleeve for the two minutes it took to have blood drawn. I’m not one to watch the needle go in and the blood flow, so I looked out the window. Snow squalls were whirling around pretty hard at that hour. Outside, a man was wheeling a young woman to a van after she had been at the lab. She appeared to have on her lap what I’ll guess was her entire medial history in a huge binder. The man lifted the woman out of the wheel chair and she maneuvered awkwardly into the front seat of the van.

In that moment, I knew that no matter what happens along the way during my saga, I will probably never be in the position of that young woman: wheel-chair bound; dependent on others to help her do so many things. I think of my friend Dan who has been a quadriplegic for decades and my friends, whose son will need their care for a very long time. What everything really comes down to is – love, family and friends. The rest is just speed bumps; minor glitches; stuff we just have to handle. We fix things – then move on. What counts is how we live and love with other people every day. I have nothing to complain about.

Simple Things

Tonight was for simple things. Pizza and salad with the family; a pleasant glass of wine; a son who is excited for his accomplishments; a son who tells me (without asking) that he’ll be home around midnight (with MY car).

Being a low-maintenance person is a good thing. As you age, you learn that letting go and just letting things happen is a good thing. Being grateful for a family and friends who I enjoy spending time with is a good thing.

Just a short post tonight – so I can enjoy more good things this weekend.