We have finally decided to move to Cape Town - this after 34 years in Dallas, 5 years in Massachusetts, and 4 years in California! The reasons are obvious. The family are there, not here. And Cape Town is one of the true beauty spots of the world. The reasons for delaying our return are equally obvious. We have 34 years of wonderful friends in Dallas plus family who are dear to us in Atlanta and Baltimore. We have spending 9 months here and 3 months there for the past 36 years; the plan is to simply reverse those numbers. So as we tell friends and family, we will be back as long as our health allows us to travel.
I thought it would be fun to keep a journal about our move along with a few photographs perhaps. So, this is my effort to document the big move.
We landed in Cape Town on time at 1PM. And so that big move has essentially come to an end. I have some backfilling to do to this blog to fill out a few details for my own purposes really but then this blog, which I called the Big Move will have come to an end. Time to start a new blog all about our settling in! You can find that at Gidding.
Eight days have sped by with no diary from me. They have been fun-packed days that I will try to retrace. Today finds us in London having a very lazy day, not doing much of anything except sleep and attempt to get over our jet lag. We had pondered on going to the Chelsea Flower Show but were disappointed to discover that it was completely sold out. We dined in at Smith's in the hotel after which I went for a walk and took pictures of aircraft taking off.
We have been coming to the Arora Hotel near Heathrow for almost 20 years and always enjoyed our stay in quite nice comfortable rooms. Our flight got in just after 6 AM so we made our sleepy way through immigration and customs, found a kind cab driver to take us the short distance to the hotel. And then we discovered that despite pre-paying for our room, they had no track of us. Eventually after some 30-40 minutes, they found us and found a room for us – a small room with a small double bed at the end of the passage on the ground floor. Its not the worst room that we have stayed in but after 20 years of comfort, it was quite a come down. The good news was that we got into our room early and were able to have a nap before heading out to Paddington Station in London to see Dave and Ang. We found them without much difficulty and had a delightful steak meal at the Aberdeen across the road. We came home on the very expensive, but very fast Heathrow Express and were in bed and asleep by 11 PM.
We found our way down the pike without too much trouble to the car rental place at the big airport in Atlanta and moved all our luggage on a shuttle to the terminal where we checked in. We were soon on our way for a short flight to Baltimore. Our flight left at 11 AM and we were in Baltimore by 1:30 PM ahead of schedule.
We went to Target to pick up washing supplies and then on to Marianne where Nancy plans to get us clean before we set off on our next leg of the journey. We had a delightful lunch with them before moving over to Meredith & Josh to play card games with the kids and then enjoy a spaghetti dinner. A lovely day that makes leaving that much harder.
We are slowly unwinding although I still wake up with panic attacks. I also have a very inflamed toe – no idea what I did except that it is very painful. We found a clinic that had only just opened. I think I was their first patient. I came home with pain-killlers and antibiotics. Let's hope that does the trick. We had a lazy afternoon and then went to supper with Don & Marianne. We dropped them back home and went to Avalon to see Meredith and Josh play Cornhole in which one tries to toss a beanbag into a hole on an slightly raised board. It was a beautiful evening and good to just be sitting there watching the game.
We are having a splendid time here in Alpharetta with family. This morning we went to the Georgia Renaissance Festival and mingled with folks dressed in period costumes, ate a huge turkey drumstick, watched a juggler on a ladder, and generally just had a good time. We came home for a nap and then went to Meredith for grilled hot dogs, which was lovely.
Yesterday was Deacon's birthday party and the whole family, including Don & Marianne, got together for that.
I don't think we realized how stressed we were until we weren't! We spent today de-stressing. We went to bed fairly early and woke up fairly late. We found an Office Depot nearby after breakfast, bought some mailing boxes and started filling them with my surplus clothes. We emptied the one large suitcase and feel much better as a result. A light lunch with Josh and Deacon and then a nap. This evening we went to an outdoor Taste of Alpharetta where all the restaurants around here had a booth where one could taste their food. I had a lobster roll and a vegetable samosa as well as some vegan ice-cream. There were thousands of people there. The boys went for a pony ride and Brooklyn went for a long, long slide. We sat outside and listened to a teenage bad led by a young woman who looked like 12 and sang like 20 backed up on drums by a kid who looked like 10 and played like Gene Krupa. It was just amazing to hear what these kids could do. And then home again to put our feet up.
We bade goodbye to Dallas today. I wish I could say it was all big excitement but I think my dominant emotion was one of sadness, saying goodbye to a city that we have learned to love – White Rock Lake, Northpark Mall, the horses at Las Colinas, concerts at the Meyerson, even good old SMU, and on and on. And then there are the many wonderful friends that we are leaving behind.
We were up early to finish packing. I discovered that I had kept far to many clothes behind so we have ended up with four suitcases – two too many! We returned the car to Enterprise and got to the terminal in good time. I decided to have a back massage, something that I haven't done for years. And then it was time for our flight, which turned out to be quite pleasant. We were traveling up front so we indulged in a gin and tonic and felt very elegant. Occasionally when life is a bit rough, it is important to spoil oneself, I think. We had an Internet connection on board, the first for me, so I sent off an e-mail to a few friends. It reminded me of making a call to mother from the air when telephones first made their appearance on planes.
We landed at this giant, very, very, very busy airport in Atlanta and finally collected our baggage and finally rented another car and finally fought our way through going-home traffic to get to the hotel. The flight itself was 90 minutes – getting to and from the airport soaked up three times that. That's the joy of modern travel – not!
We rested up for a brief while and then went off to our favorite great-niece, her wonderful husband their delightful children. It was so good to be with them and to enjoy supper with them. And then we came home to unpack just a little and fall into bed exhausted.
We are scrambling around, trying to get last minute things taken care of and seeing our best and dearest of friends. We rented a car from Enterprise so that we could give Wanda the Sonata, which she had actually purchased a week ago and was very kindly lending to us. We swung by the house to see Mike and Genna one more time and to meet Genna's Dad, Charlie. Then it was lunch at Prego with our special SMU friends Jeanne, Jonathan, Shirley and Wanda along with Shirley's daughter Candy. We had a delightful meal. I left Nancy at Northpark and went off to have my last coffee with my dear friend from church Mike. And then it was back to the hotel to begin packing. Nancy went downstairs to do the washing so that at least we'd start off with clean clothes. A lovely day seeing close friends; a sad day saying goodbye to them.
We went to Sunday School class at Wilshire Baptist for the last time today. Our dear friends Shaeron and Mike made farewell speeches. Shaeron presented Nancy with a shoulder wrap that another dear friend Claudia had knitted for her; Mike gave me his favorite American novel, Deliverance. I thanked everyone for their friendship to us and told them how my baptism by George was among the more memorable moments in my life. And then we were off to lunch at a Chinese restaurant that we have been frequenting – now for the last time. At 5:30 we were back on Lehigh to share a pizza party with our favorite neighbors Patty & Doak at Lee's house along with her two Avery and Nora. (John was off filming a Nissan ad.) It was a bitter-sweet occasion, saying goodbye to our dearest friends in Dallas.
We lunched today with the family who have bought 7216. What delightful people – mother, father and two teenage children. They are bringing a Yorkie and two Golden Retrievers. It really eases our farewell to know that our much loved home is moving into the hands of such a wonderful family. We spend 3 1/2 hours over lunch and were surprised to discover that we had spent more than an hour – a very happy meeting then. Then at 6 PM this evening, I went back to the house with the one key that I had kept to allow JD Ford from Prestige Piano move our Petrof out the door. It was fascinating to see one guy move a piano. I put the key in a safe place and came home feeling rather empty. I'm sure that when we walk in our door in Cape Town a sense of elation will come over me. But that lies still in the future. Right now I'm just feeling “it's over.”
We drove down to Midlothian today, a small town, about an hour south of Dallas, passing by other small towns that even after 34 years in Dallas, we had never seen. We found the title company that was our destination without any trouble and in quite short order were sitting at a round table with Alan, our agent's husband, who was there to give us support and the representative of the title company. We signed and/or initialed page after page after page but it all went quite swiftly. And then, it was over. Thirty-four years of living and loving gone within the space of 30 minutes. Do I now feel lighter having shed our physical assets? Not sure that I do, yet. We are still in the mode of frantically packing our last-minute stuff for mailing that I really haven't had time to take a deep breath and soak it all in.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, the roofers are making good progress on the roof. We did not stop for long but just wanted to make sure that they really were there so that the closing could be completed. And inside, the otherwise empty house, we still have our piano. We thought we had a buyer for it on Sunday but that fell through at the last moment so we have been negotiating with a piano store to take it on consignment. The irony is that the store might sell it on to another Cape Townian. We bought it from an ex-South African so this would make a complete circle.
The past few days have been occupied by our estate sale. Two wonderful people in the shape of Julie and Steve presided over the sale of our goods, chattels and assorted treasures on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They had been busy during the week pulling stuff out of cupboards and drawers to get them ready for sale. There were things that we had forgotten all about but were still in the category of “But we can't sell that!” Unfortunately, the container has long since left and so that forgotten treasure went under the hammer. We went by last night, and again this morning, to see what sold and what did not. We had some big surprises. There were things that we thought would never sell, but they did. And other things that for some reason did not go – and left us a little hurt by their rejection so to speak. Our beautiful couches, for instance, were still there. My magnificent computer loudspeakers were there. Our lovely drop leg table did not sell. My cowboy belt with its beautiful buckle went but not the accompanying big, black Stetson. There seems to be no rhyme nor reason to any of this. Tomorrow, someone will come by and scoop up the remainder for a very small price, but at least he will clean it all out. Except the piano, where we are still negotiating although, unfortunately, pianos are not in great demand these days. We went out last night to a nearby restaurant to celebrate with Steve and Julie.
The big surprise of the day, though, was the arrival of the roofer. We knew we were getting a new roof but we thought it was taking place next week not this. But, unknown to us, they were supposed to start today – big surprise. The material arrived and is sitting in our driveway. The roofer called to tell us that the threat of tornadoes in the area prevented him from starting today, or maybe even tomorrow. He tell us, again big surprise, that we can't close on the house until the roof is done and the roof will not get done until the weather improves. So will we get away on the 6th as planned? We currently have absolutely no idea. What we do know, though, is that selling a house is a bundle of fun! Not!!!
My car went earlier to the Hyundai dealer. I probably got a little less than I might have got in a private sale but it was a lot easier selling to the dealer. Nancy's car, though, is going to a dear friend and colleague from SMU. We signed the title over to her, which she took the local county office and came back with new number plates, indicating that the car was all hers. She has very graciously allowed us to continue to drive it! Its a bit funny, though, coming out into a parking lot and looking for a car with these different plates!
Awoke in our new beds after sleeping quite well considering. I went off to see my allergist Dr. Gross. He has been my doctor ever since I came to Dallas so we have grown old together. He is one of the finest doctors that I have ever had and was very, very sorry to bid him farewell. I gave him a South African penny, as I did for Dr. Roffman, with its two sparrows and left a book for him at the front desk. He tells me that they might well come back for a second visit to Cape Town, which would be just lovely. I am driving a rented Camry right now and loving it. It has bluetooth so I can listen to music on my iPod through a terrific sound system. Its been great. Lunch at Souper Salad, a hamburger at Keller's driven (a first for us), and “home” to continue clearing up and getting ready to fly.
We were woken early, early, early by our cat who was ready to start the day. We hugged him and petted him. And then after lunch we popped him in the car and took him to the vet to check that he did not have any diseases that might transmit to Candy's other cats. He was so good in the car. He just sat on the front, passenger seat and purred all the way back. We drove to Candy's house and dropped him off after some more last-minute hugs. We drove back past the house a couple of hours later and saw him sitting in the window watching the world pass by. It was almost too much for Nancy. And then we came on to the hotel, which served a delicious clam chowder and delightful salad for supper before climbing into our new beds.
I popped by to see my cardiologist and to bid him farewell. I have been very blessed by Dr. Roffman. He was a little withdrawn on my first visit several years ago, which left me a bit nervous. I subsequently discovered that it was just because I was new. He turned out to be a charming man who has visited Africa and filled two photo albums that sit in his office of big game pictures. He is good friends with my recently retired GP Dr. Stafford who, I discovered on my visit, was volunteering at Nancy's old school. So a small world. Dr. Roffman confirmed my good news about my Afib so things are looking good. We came over at 3 PM to check into our hotel and to start moving our stuff in. We will sleep for the last time at home with Kouse, though.
Things are really winding down now. Julie and Steve have been hard at work arranging the house and the things in the house with a view to their sale. We have been trying to assist by getting what we are taking out of their way. The house looks rather nice the way they have arranged it. Makes I think we should have brought them in years ago. Wanda was by today to transfer title of the Sonata to herself. She discovered that we need to have it inspected before we can sell it so that process got delayed today, unfortunately. We are told that we need the city's permission for an estate sale so I went to the public library to get it but discovered that it was closed, unfortunately. We have our hotel room as of tomorrow – late – which really means that we get our stuff to our hotel room early on Wednesday. And that will mean farewell to 7216 effectively. Candy was over to talk about taking Kouse to his new home. We are dreadfully, dreadfully sorry to see him go. On the other hand he is going to people who love him, people who know him already, and to a backyard playground that has been especially designed for him.
Selling a house is a somewhat insane process. There is so much that we want to tell the buyer about – and to ask them. So you want to continue to feed our birds? Do you want to use our lawn mowing service? And on and on. Instead, I have gone ahead an canceled the water, the electricity, the gas, the 'phone . . . They will come to a house that is completely devoid of services and depending on when they get everything reconnected with dead grass and dead plants. There has to be a better way, surely!
Dear friends of ours had promised to arrange a farewell party for us. Things have moved so quickly, though, that there just isn't enough time left for that party. Instead, we went out to dinner with them this evening to a Peruvian restaurant where the food was different but quite good. Absolute Hyundai called to say the parts had arrived to fix our Sonata to have it ready for sale so that will be done tomorrow and then we'll have taken one more step toward our departure. Nancy spent the afternoon getting the garage ready for the sale; I spent the afternoon clearing out our storage facility, bringing home books and music for sale and trashing stuff that is not salable. I visited my electrophysiologist Dr. Lampe, who confirmed that my AFib had indeed vanished. I thanked him and bade him farewell also seeing my old cardiologist Dr. Sharan on the way out giving me the opportunity to thank her too.
We met with Julie and Steve who are handling our estate sale. I think the realization that they are coming in THIS Sunday to begin the staging for our estate sale, brought home to us even more forcibly that in less than a week we will be out of this house. Our flight to London and from London to Johannesburg is booked as is our London hotel so things are falling into place.
We are one more step closer to being able to move. I sold my little, blue Elantra today. It had a stick-shift, which I love, but that puts me in the minority. As a result, I got a little less money for it than I would have if it had been an automatic. No matter, I got as much for it as I could reasonably expect. The sale process was pleasant and trouble free, so what more can one ask. So with a dear friend taking Nancy's car, the house sold to all intents and purposes, an estate sale scheduled for ten days from now, things are winding down here.
I couldn't believe that a week has gone by since my last posting. Where did it go? We've had good news and then some more good news. We have found a buyer for our Sonata and are so glad to know that it is going to a really good home. The insurance company called to say that they will pay for us to get a new roof. That's amazing and such a blessing. Meanwhile at Kouse's new home, two delightful men are installing a “cat-io” at the back of the house. He will be able to get in and out the window into a space that will enable him to climb up onto shelves right to the top where he will be able to look out on the world. He is the most spoiled cat in the world, I think. And then to round off the week, the Fedex truck came by with Nancy's latest book from Blurb. So things are looking good.
Things have been moving along so quickly that I haven't had a chance to keep a record. It was Monday this week when the buyer's family plus assorted inspectors came by to view the house once more. Michelle was then by to tell us that they remained interested if we replaced the roof and did some relatively minor plumbing work. We were shocked by the request to fix the roof since it had not given us one minute of problems. But, we went ahead and agreed to pay for a new roof, meanwhile wondering just why we were doing this.
We had an adjuster out from our insurance company to view the roof and report to us on whether they would cover the cost of our apparently “damaged” roof. He walked around the entire property, taking pictures, but left without telling us anything about what he found. The company, he said, would be in touch with us in a week or so. So, that left us still up in the air.
Then we went to lunch today with my very spry 84-year old ex-secretary Wanda. She asked, “Have you looked at the underside of the roof in the attic?” No, I had not. So we came home, flashed a light upwards and lo and behold there are thin wood shingles under the composites. And it is those wood shingles that are no longer code compliant. So, the inspectors were right. Our roof is currently uninsurable. It does make me wish once again that we had had the house inspected before we put it on the market.
Meanwhile in our back yard, the garbage truck got stuck in the alley that runs behind our house. It is in shocking repair with huge holes in it that fill with water. We, very unexpectedly, had the road in front of our house repaved recently and we rather suspect that the work order should have been for the alley and that the roads department made a mistake. The holes are large enough that even the big garbage truck fell in and could not get out. So, big excitement, we had a huge tow truck come down the alley, the biggest that either of us had ever seen. Within minutes they had a tow line attached to the back of the garbage truck and slowly, slowly it got pulled out of the hole. I stood on our picnic table, enjoying the scene.
A beautiful day outside – the kind of day in Texas that leaves one wondering why we are moving. No news from our realtor so who knows what is going on with our buyer. I think we have decided that if they turn us down, we will take the house off the market, fix the few things that the inspectors have found, and then put it back on the market – at a higher price!
So, as we breathed a sigh of relief yesterday that our goods and chattels were actually on their way, I looked in my cupboard and discovered to my horror that some of my clothes had not been packed. We had also set aside a beautiful, stained glass window that our friend John C had made for us and that had not been packed. Oh dear! So, I contacted the company who very graciously agreed to allow us to add the two items – provided I got there by 8 AM. They are an hour's drive away so I was up at 6 AM, on the road at 7 AM and battling my way through early morning Dallas traffic. I made it on time and started on my way home. Halfway home, it suddenly hit me that there were still two chairs, not just one, in my study and that we'd forgotten to pack the desk chair that had been a retirement present from SMU. So Nancy called Preston and asked whether he would be willing to accept my chair if I came back with it. He was very gracious about it so at 9:30, after collecting the chair from the house, I drove back up to Daryl Flood movers. I told the receptionist to tell Preston that the “idiot” was back. She laughed but complied and Preston came down with a smile on his face. I wended my way home now through lighter traffic, spending a total of four hours on the road. I could have been in Houston!
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Nancy was sitting in her car with Kouse while a second round of inspections took place. As Nancy watched from afar plumbers, electricians, the sales agent and the prospective buyer's entire family, it seemed, trooped in and out of our house. They all left just before noon. But will they buy? We have no idea yet!
Well, what an unexpectedly pleasant day. The movers arrived and what a lovely team of people they were. I think they might have been a family who do contract work for Daryl Flood, the American associates of Biddulph's in Cape Town. They laughed and joked as they packed our stuff. When asked how we could help, the answer was “Go sit in a corner and have a drink!” They did not bring the container itself but instead brought a very large moving truck about the size of the container. We had fretted that the 50 or 60 boxes that we had packed plus our clothes, our chairs, our display cabinet, and our side tables would not fit and had contingency plans for what we would leave behind. Instead, our stuff barely filled one corner of the space. If our steering wheel were not on the wrong side, I would have put our car inside the truck. So there go all our worldly treasures. One (small) half of me rather hopes that it all gets lost at sea so that I don't have to worry about our treasures anymore!
The big news of the day was the arrival of the inspector. This is truly a a stupid system. Each buyer pays $450 for someone to come and inspect our house. They have 10 days in which to decide whether to buy after the inspection. So, we accept an offer and then everything stops for 10 days while the buyer ponders. Then as happens with the last one, they decide no so we then, and only then, go back on the market again for another 10 day cycle. The inspectors work for the buyer so we are not told what they find wrong with our house so we have no way of fixing it. It is pretty insane.
The two who came today were very, very pleasant. Who knows, though, what was behind the facade. One of them was from Wales so we had a good chat about places that we had visited – and experienced – such as our earthquake in Llandudno. I was also reminiscing about how we would worry in Cape Town when our boys would play rugby against the fearsome Welsh in Cardiff thousands of miles away. The world was much bigger then. We would listen in on shortwave radio to the 90,000 fans in the stadium, singing as only Welsh men can sing and we would shiver in our boots.
It is so nice to have the house back to yourselves and not to have to sit outside in the road while buyers roam our property! I think next time we will move first – and then sell. With time to ourselves we were able to make a lot of progress on packing for Thursday. I spent the morning at my storage facility getting out some books and papers that I want to take. We also got good news regarding our cat. Candy, who is taking Kouse, wants to build a “catio” for him to keep him off a busy road. The fellow who is going to do it has let her know that he'll be by well in time for our ultimate move. So, everything is moving ahead. And, to top it off, we have gone straight from Winter into Summer with no Spring in-between.
Michelle came by to let us know that we had had four offers this week. Two were from builders who offered us $50,000 less than we were asking; one was for the asking price; and the one we accepted offered us $4,000 more than we asked. So now we go back into the wait mode – wait for an inspector's report. Let's hope this one goes through. Meanwhile we continue to get ready for the container on Thursday.
A relatively quiet day today. Thank goodness. We had seven visitors yesterday, meaning seven hours spent away from home. We are looking at the calendar and realizing that the container arrives just one week from today – yes ONE week. And we need to get ready for everything that is going with us. Unbelievable!
The word has got around immediately that the house is back on the market. We had one couple come by just after lunch; another sent their real estate agent to preview the place; and the third comes by over supper. Photos of the house have also been posted and we hardly recognize our own home. Who knew we had some a spacious sun room?! We had a delightful visit with the agent who came to preview the house and wished that all sales were done by preview. It's so nice to be able to walk someone through our home, pointing out what we love and what might need to be changed. And Kouse was able to stay indoors and sleep through it all.
We have been holding our breath because we had an offer, which was subject to an inspection. The inspection was delayed until today and needed 5 hours and 30 minutes! So Nancy, bless her heart, sat in her car on the street from 9 AM until 2:30 PM while one after another person drifted in and out of the house. Late in the morning, we saw the inspector walking across our roof. And then Michelle called us to tell us that the buyers had withdrawn their offer – unless we replaced the roof. So, we are disappointed but undaunted and the house is back on the market again. The good news, of course, is that the inspector could find nothing wrong with the house – except the roof was old. So that takes one little fear out of the equation: That someone might find something terrible of which we were unaware.
I sometimes wonder what I would do if my doctor told me that I only had six months left. Would I travel the world? Would I revisit places that I have enjoyed before? Just what would I do? These thoughts came to mind as I walked in very pleasant weather alongside White Rock Lake. We have six weeks left in Dallas, perhaps, so what do I want to do here before we pack our bags and move on. High on that list is walking at the lake. We are so fortunate to have this body of water so close to our house. When we first arrived we could walk over the disused railway line and be at the lake, on foot, in five minutes. Since the rail came back into use and was fenced, we have to drive to the lake but it is only five minutes away. And what a joy it is to be there, to see the bird life, the rowers, the walkers, the runners, the cyclists. What is there about water that is so soothing to the spirit? We shall miss the lake.
We spent half the day in the car with Kouse who was amazingly tolerant. In fact, he actually seemed to enjoy being driven around. The car, unlike the house, has wraparound windows so he could see out from every corner. Nancy went to church; I stayed home for a morning visit. And then at 7 PM we had our delightful agent Michelle and her husband Alan over to give us the good news: We had had three formal offers and each of them for more than we asked. Quite astonishing. We picked one, a young family who would fit into the neighborhood, we thought. The only downside is that they want an inspection before signing on the dotted line so we are waiting for that and hoping that nothing terrible is discovered. What an exciting day!
I grew up in the dark ages when the one telephone that we had hung on the wall in the passage. If one was home, then one answered it; if not, it went unanswered – even by an answering machine that lay well into the future. Now the cellphone is ubiquitous and one is (supposedly) on call 24/7. I have not worried about it until now. My cellphone was something that lay somewhere, usually lost, and as often as not with the ring muted. The sale of the house, though, means potential buyers who need to call for an appointment. So suddenly I have been launched into the 21st century and find myself carrying my cellphone into the shower, allowing it to ring in public (horrors), and examining it carefully to see whether I perhaps missed a call. I find myself longing for the old days when I could go incognito for hours on end!
And so, after complaining about being on constant call, there I was sitting at a Starbucks, drinking a Frap when the 'phone rang – and no it was not on mute, and yes I knew where it was. And there was Michelle with the wonderful news that we had had two offers already. Amazing. On sale on Thursday; sold on Saturday. But now for the practical details like can the buyer raise a mortgage? We shall see.
We are beginning to get potential buyers in response to the listing, which went up yesterday and reads: “Adorable home in highly sought after Lakewood Elementary School District. Wonderfully maintained. Easy access to White Rock Lake, shops, entertainment, restaurants and transportation. Easy 15 minute drive to Arts District and less to Northpark! GREAT location and GREAT community! Complete pics and description coming soon!!” We are not supposed to be here but I missed out that there were three visitors coming at 4 PM so we had not left. As a result, we got to meet them, which I found very nice. The photographer comes tomorrow!
It snowed again. White fluffy flakes coming down in the middle of the night leaving a carpet of white, powdery snow all over the neighborhood. The storm passed on by so we have a bright, blue sky and plenty of sunshine. In fact, the reflection from the snow is so bright that one almost needs dark glasses. This is probably our last Dallas snow and what a joy to have a good two inches across our backyard.
And to add to the excitement, the house goes on sale today! Movers are scheduled for March 26th and the estate sale for April 17th at which point we move into a hotel if the house is not sold. We suddenly found a sign in our yard and then, to our surprise and somewhat to our consternation because we hadn't expected anyone, we had three potential buyers this afternoon. I went to Starbucks. Nancy sat with Kouse in the car! The first couple came early, before we had left, so they met Kouse who actually gave them a warm welcome. But, did they like our house?! We have no idea.
David Brooks has a most interesting article in the NY Times on Leaving and Cleaving in the modern age. When my grandparents went out from England as missionaries to what was then Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, they waved goodbye to family knowing that there would be no contact with them again. When I came to the States 44 years ago, I did something similar. There was no e-mail; I could not afford long-distance telephone calls; and an answer to a letter sent to Cape Town would take a month. Today, as Brooks says, leaving is no longer defined by distance but by the absence of communication. We have good friends in Dallas who we see once or twice a year but we are in constant electronic communication. Our physical departure will make little or no difference to our relationship despite our saying a physical goodbye. And then we have those old friends and acquaintances who live close by but have simply stopped communicating. They have left us just as surely as if they had moved to another town. Brooks is right, though, we often mismanage our modern goodbyes partly because they lack the formality of a goodbye party. We just allow our relationships to wither.
Back in Cape Town, the place where we are headed, a fire raged across the mountains fed by a strong wind. My cousin writes that they “were woken at 2am to find the mountain across the road in flames. It became worse and worse with the fire creeping lower and lower down the mountain.
We were told to sit tight and wait for instructions. We did fetch our car from the garage and park it in front of the cottage in order to make a quick getaway if needed and we packed a few items but as morning dawned those wonderful helicopters arrived and began bombing the flames and they have been doing this ALL day. The fire was huge. The American Embassy in Tokai was evacuated. It now seems to be under control thanks to the helicopter pilots and amazing firemen on the ground. Rain is expected on Wednesday – hooray !!”
We try to keep our feathered friends in food. Alas our furry friends think the bird food is meant for them too. I suppose we should try to shoo away those pesky squirrels but they need sustenance in this bitter cold too.
So we just put out extra food, hoping to satisfy all those hungry mouths. Meanwhile our cat Kouse sits in the window fascinated by all the activity right outside in what is, after all, his yard.
Nothing much new to report except that we had snow. We usually don't get it this late in February. In fact, the advice that we got from Dallas horticulturists when we came here was to prune our roses on Valentine's Day because a freeze after that was very unlikely. Well we got the freeze and many of the plants that Nancy put outside to make the house look attractive to a buyer are looking very miserable. This Spring rose rising above the snow says it all.
We will miss the occasional snow. Perhaps not the snow that we experienced in Boston that was measured in feet, not inches. But we will miss looking out the window, seeing flakes falling gently from the sky; seeing the grass covered in a blanket of white; seeing the limbs of trees gather their pillows of snow in their arms. There is a serenity about it that is quite wonderful.
And this is what my study looks like today with boxes and boxes – and more boxes – filled with papers, memorabilia and all the other stuff that I think I can't live without. We are getting a container, which means that we are not paying per pound or per box. Once we decided that we are going to take my SMU desk chair then everything else that goes into the container is essentially a freebie. And so, I'm not feeling too guilty about packing stuff that I want but don't really need. If it fits into the container, it costs nothing so why not.
The hardest part for me is dealing with memorabilia. These two little ships went to my Accounting Theory classes every year. I would point out that the Roman galley with its square sail and side rudder could only sail before the wind. The would-be merchant-trader could go with the wind to the east in one month of the year but would be unable to return until the wind changed its course six months later. That was not too good for trade. The arrival of the lateen sail and the sternpost rudder changed the world. Now one could sail into the wind and return with one's cargo the next week. The world opened up to explorers and to people like Columbus, Da Gama and Diaz. Financing for the voyages was necessary and computing the profit from the trade of a cargo highly desirable so in 1497, Fra Luca Pacioli wrote the first accounting text. The rest is history.
We met with our real estate agent Michelle Ozymy who I have discovered is a listing agent rather than a real estate agent. We had met with Michelle and her delightful husband Alan earlier. They are neighbors of ours and we liked them really well. So on Friday we sat down together and sealed the deal. We are expecting to put the house on the market on the 26th. Meanwhile, I need to finish packing up my study – the big job.
Mattie came over and with Nancy's guidance, oversight and help, our lounge was turned into a room meant to melt a buyer's heart. The rocking chair will not be going with us although I will detach the little badge at the back that reads MICHAEL vAN BREDA. I know exactly how that happened – the manufacturer was told he spells his name with a little “v.” The school offered to change it out so as to read MICHAEL van BREDA but I kept it just for fun. We offered the Rogier van der Weyden print of Mary Magdalene from the National Gallery in London to our church but they have not decided whether to take it or not. We have had the angel playing a mandolin, one of those “fake” paintings where they lay paint on a print, for many years. I think the original is in Florence.