Theme for Year 2018: Big Changes

When Life pitches an opportunity your way, have your mitt ready.

Well, here We GO!  Date: August 14th, 2018, Tuesday 6:30pm.  Roughly 24 hours ago, we hadn’t yet agreed that we were going to take the plunge. This morning we made an offer for the Kenyon house, and remarkably, it was accepted!  That seems like days ago to me now. This afternoon the listing agent came by our house to get a look at his assignment and left with homework for tomorrow. The next pertinent question is: what City restrictions there are for sub-division? Personally, I’d love to have a developer write us a check “as-is” with the intention of making two lots, selling the one with this house to KC and building on the south lot.  That could be a good way for her to afford this house that she loves and hopefully fetch us more than the minimum required to make it feasible, and finally, netting a nice profit for the developer. While I am fully aware that it’s asking a LOT of the universe, why not ask anyway? Even if only some of it happens, at least the possibility is considered.  Fingers crossed.

Tomorrow, we go to work to make this thing happen. I am confident that it will all work out yet nervous about being confident. Ever since we made the first walk-through I have been sure in my gut, bones and heart, and yet, I have also been suspicious of my instincts since the two great betrayals of 2016. That’s another story, not worth dredging up here, but does effect my perspective.

The whole thing about moving unexpectedly is both exhilarating and exhausting in equal measure.  Rooting for the best possible outcome for us and for all involved.   I’ll do my bit, but CALLING ALL ANGELS, it’s time to ring a bell.

Cheers to whatever comes next!  kb.xo

bokeh shot of white and gold ceramic angel
Photo by Pixabay on



Off the rails or grabbing the reins?

I choose to believe it’s the latter. If 3 lefts make a right, then this could be the third left to get us back on course.  A little back story: in the year 2000, we made a critical financial mistake that snowballed us into a deep hole of debt from which we’ve never recovered.  My gut is screaming to me “Cash out the equity in our current home, resolve the outstanding debt and buy the home you plan to retire in now, while you’re still young enough to sink some roots.  We’ll both feel a lot better about our future while throwing off the shackles with which we are so burdened.

I have successfully managed to alert the entire block to our intentions. Now it’s time to roll up my sleeves and get aggressive about making it all come to fruition. Matt may be right about investing some money into a quick beautification project. To that end, I plan to ask our next door neighbor if he’d like to be our general contractor to lead the charge and hammer a grand slam for us over the next 30 days.  I could do a walk about with him to set a punch list and set him loose to make the arrangements. He is a go-getter with many skills and resources.  Ideally, a $20,000 dunk would net us a funds to pay him for the effort + a sweet pay back with which to make some debt disappear and ultimately sink into my Kenyon dream house. Ultimate goal:  reduce our mortgage payments to the point of allowing us to pay it off in under 10 years. That sounds like the best plan I’ve ever had in my entire life.

Let’s do this! That is, after I get some much needed some sleep.  I’m a walking adrenaline zombie.

Side note: had a 100% full day with plans to eat, flop, watch and hit the hay by 10pm. Instead, the evening was spent with my folks in the ER after Dad fell and injured his right foot.  Nothing  more serious than a sprained toe, stitches in the web between his first & second toe and a slightly twisted knee.  He claimed to have no pain, so they patched him up and sent him home at 3:30 am.  Haven’t slept a wink since crawling into bed at 4.  It’s all about The House for me now.  Repeat of 1998.

Initial Checklist:

  • Choose realtor
  • Submit offer + earnest money
  • Hire a general contractor (Abe?)
  • Install roof vents & replace fascia
  • Clean gutters & sweep roof
  • Install trim as needed inside & out
  • Paint 3 structures
  • Install shutters & flower boxes
  • Landscaper: clean out gardens, plant around house perimeter
  • Rebuild ramp to shed
  • Tree trimming
  • Rent storage locker
  • Weed out, store or sell
  • Garage sale, OfferUp, craigslist

Target date for move:  November 1st


On your marks…Get set…..GO!   kb.xo


Pandora’s box is open

…and the train is leaving the station.  I have found my house.  All that’s left to do is make it official on paper and exchange money. I jest. There’s a mountain of work and I’ll be putting on my overalls & Doc Martins, rolling up my sleeves and kicking’ some ass for the next 30-45 days. I’m riding high on adrenaline and coffee, getting very little sleep, dealing with various family members personal crises and alerting all around me that, “This is happening. Excuse me while I duck out of sight to re-arrange our lives. Don’t wait up. I’ll be back. Leave the light on”.

I have already designated a purpose for each room, pre-selected which of our furniture will come along and the arrangement for each room. Guess I need to hire a realtor.

Kenyon, Minnesota…here we come!  Batton down the hatches.    kb.xo

Time to turn the page?

Today Matt & I drove to Kenyon, in SE Minnesota to tour the inside of a house I discovered for sale yesterday.  If we re-wind the clock about 60 hours, that’s where it all innocently began.  Short version:  Google Maps for directions to Morristown Zielske Family farm; Zillow popped-up properties for sale in area; rabbit hole; ooooh!  Look at THIS one!!  Must see.   So, I went to Matt’s family reunion without him, (that’s a puzzler in itself), then wandered east to do a drive-by.  Had trouble containing my excitement and/or sleeping afterwards.  Got home at 9:30 pm all jazzed, watched the final episode of the BBC version of Sherlock, then went to bed with sugar plums dancing in my head.  After an hour or so of crappy-flopping, it seemed only decent to go elsewhere and quit disturbing Matt. Then the P.I. instinct kicked in, so I cracked open the laptop again to read the Wikipedia entry for the town of Kenyon, then searched for property tax info on the Goodhue County website.  I can really imagine myself living there. The terrain is beautiful. The town itself is thriving and looks to be expanding. Lots of small town charm minus the suburban cookie cutter commercial malls. It’s quiet. This house sits on the outer edge of town, down a quarter mile gravel road with 4 other homes and no outlet. Therefore, no traffic. The house pushed all my buttons and I felt very comfortable and at peace.  It’s secluded without being isolated in the middle of nowhere. It’s fully landscaped with flora I would have chosen myself and a trickling granite water feature made me feel very zen. There are lots of windows on all sides of the house, some triangular.  Vaulted wood ceilings, a bathroom/shower/mudroom just inside the entrance from the garage, a hot tub for Matt and a sauna for me. The property is the same size as our current lot, but much of the back yard is a steep slope to a stream leading to the Zumbro River, which means very little mowing or yard work. No “keeping up with the Joneses” or spraying your yard to keep the creeping Charlie from invading the neighbors yard. I’ve got no time for that sort of nonsense which is rampant in Minnetonka. There’s tons of storage in every room of the house, 2 fireplaces and The Kitchen. Now, I think I’ve made clear my position on this particular room of the house in previous posts.  Kitchens are where I like to hang out at other peoples homes, but not MY home. That’s because my kitchen… well there’s just no other way to say it. It sucks. There’s very little counter space and if there are two people in the kitchen, they are standing in each others’ way. I am uninspired to be there, let alone cook there. By contrast, The Kitchen in that house has all the features I like, for instance: standing counter for a quick nosh or to hang out with a friend and cocktails, the stove, sink & frig are on different walls, there’s room for a proper dining table with sliding doors out to the covered patio. Built-in drink station with wine rack.  It’s not a huge space, but what it has is well laid out and gorgeous, not too frivolous and over-the-top, though, it does have a customized, wooden-door SubZero refrigerator. It even has a pantry. I love everything about The Kitchen. There’s an office with a custom built-in corner desk/computer nook/files, a large bathroom with linen closet space inside.

The woodwork throughout the house is Mission/mid-century modern style.  The doors have character unlike any I’ve ever seen.  There’s room for a pool-table in the basement and a separate rec-room with a fireplace, a workshop, a sauna with shower and lots more storage.

The garage is about the same size as Matt’s current garage, but it’s got a ceiling mounted heater plus a wall and a half of built-in storage cabinets. Attached to the garage is a room he could convert to a guitar workshop with plenty of countertop and overhead storage. Then there’s a separate shed that looks like a children’s playhouse.  The backyard area is smallish and cannot be seen by anyone else which I find inviting, though I get the impression Matt would probably like more open space and an outbuilding or two. The indoor person in me would be happy to have the interior cozy with lots of natural light and a minimum amount of yard work. The driveway is big enough to play corn-hole. Kenyon has a community pool, horseshoe pits, Frisbee golf, hockey rink, ball fields & running track. Plus, there’s a Mayo Clinic outpost right in town and senior living homes too.  I love the feel of the town, and felt strangely compelled to go there yesterday, yet seemingly out of the blue. People of all ages were out and about, but the streets were not crowded nor were they ghostly like some small towns you pass through. Rose trees line the divided main boulevard. Main Street is a short walk from the house on Deer Ridge Road, with Highway 60 providing a natural boundary between the two which I think would alleviate the feeling of “everybody knows your business”.  The Kenyon Golf Country Club is less than a mile away with an annual membership of $595. That’s less than Matt spends golfing in a year now.  In addition, there are at least a dozen other courses relatively nearby including his long time favorite, The Summit in Cannon Falls.

Truly, I feel that this weekend has been a serendipitous discovery of a solution to a lot of the things that have been stressors for both of us.  Were we to pursue this idea, we could cash out one last time on this property, pay off one or two large debts and make a lateral move to a nicer place in the area we want to ultimately finish out our lives.  We need to get established wherever we intend to retire and we had kind of agreed years ago that we both like the southeastern part of Minnesota. After all, we are Minnesotans. Not snowbirds. If we’re going to move from Minnetonka, we should do it soon while we’re both young enough to make the transition to find local employment, establish connections to a new community, make friendships and learn what’s out there. I don’t want to move AFTER we retire because then its too late to do any of those things. We’d just be sitting around alone in an unfamiliar house among strangers. Also, I have recently realized just how fed up I am with the constant distractions around here. Cars passing our house every 30 seconds, packs of spandex bikers, walkers with & without dogs, daily delivery trucks, the weekly onslaught of trash haulers in their choreographed dance around the neighborhoods, razor scooters (which Leroy fears above all things and sends him into frothy, panic barking), sirens, traffic noise from Hwy 7, airplanes, random firecrackers. I’m sick and exhausted from dealing with the general public and the congestion everywhere. I just want to be left alone to enjoy the peace & quiet, to contemplate and to create. I don’t want to negotiate the interstate, the parking lots, hoards of people at Target and Costco and everywhere in between. I don’t want to have to remember at which of 7 grocery stores I bought a certain brand of something. It’s all so anxiety producing and frankly, my tolerance for anxiety has gotten pretty damn shallow.    What I DO want are the twin sisters: Simplicity and Solitude.  Somehow, I must find a good compromise that will satisfy both Matt and me. Personally, I’m ready to write an offer on the house on Deer Ridge Road. Matt may take some time to join me and he may not get there at all. In his defense, he worked roughly 70 hours last week up through yesterday. He’s got some sleep to catch up on to restore his brain and his cheery disposition before he can wrap his head around this big idea I sprung on him today. He was a good sport about it, which I appreciated. My family has a history of “bugging out” with some regularity, so he has experience waiting for the initial manic buzz to wear off before boarding the crazy train to the mythical “Somewhere Else”.  Cuz I’m weird like that and I refuse to apologize.  It’s genetically encoded.  Can’t change your programming.  What was that line in The Matrix? “We’re all here to do what we’re all here to do”.

Time to walk away from the keyboard.  Got blisters on my fingers and its about to storm. The acorns pelting me and Leroy aren’t much fun either! Let’s just sleep on this and see how it looks in the light of tomorrow.  kb.xo

Think I’m getting the hang of this

This Saturday, August 4th, it will have been 3 months since I quit “working”.  (i.e. reporting daily to a geo-location and pitching in to make those coordinates produce money). Since then, I have produced NO money.  Zero dollars, zero cents.  Unless you count the $20 I got (in a Cub Foods parking lot at 10pm on a Tuesday night; sounds lurid, right?) for selling an unused All-in-one HP printer that was collecting dust and using prime shelf space. Oh, okay…yesterday I also received a $5 refund  for a glass pie-plate returned to Crossroads Deli.  Shoulda been $10, but neither location of Lunds & Byerlys wanted the other pie plate which I am sure came from one of their stores, but they were naysaying so I kept the damn thing. Truthfully, I’ve had it for years. Since sometime before April 2015 when they finally merged the two store names into one new clunky co-name. Back when I presumably purchased a pie from them, it was just Byerlys. Stuffy old ladies shopped Lunds; definitely NOT cool chicks like me.

For my next act:  $1 for notary service. Ka-Ching!!  Turns out, making money isn’t so difficult after all. Whoa Nellie…better slow my pace a bit.  Don’t want to end up in a higher tax bracket.

You may wonder: What ELSE has she been doing since “retiring”?  (As people keep saying about me, but which I never say about myself). Truth is, I’ve been touring clinics. Lots and lots of clinics. I can state with authority that Park Nicollet clinics have fallen behind in their décor to Allina clinics, which you’d think would equate to lower costs for clinic visits, but you’d be wrong. No. That is not how it works. Another thing I’ve noticed: Eye doctors have the most unusual, generally modern, art on their walls. Makes a kind of sense. Whether your vision is good or bad, the art sort of looks the same.  Abstract, blurry, wavy lines, splotchy or blocky.  Turn your head this way and that like a dog seeing something he can’t quite understand.  With all these clinic visits comes phone calls and paperwork and follow-ups and “How did we do?” surveys –   For the record: I LOATHE SURVEYS.   Add to that paperwork for banking, taxes, Medical Assistance, Elderly Waiver, Jury Duty Summons, hospice, IRS inquiry, home refinance, therapists, supplemental insurance, pharmacies (x3). I keep busy.

I’ve done “some” yard work, “some” house work, “some” craft work, and last, and certainly least, “some” kitchen work.  Somehow, I expected to magically become enamored with planning meals and making food from scratch.  In my mind’s eye, I wear an apron, look up healthy recipes online, shop efficiently and make batches of marvelous dishes to be consumed and enjoyed daily with preserved leftovers for those extra busy days when I don’t have time to cook.   HaHaHaHa!  Go ahead, laugh with me.  I am describing someone who is NOT AT ALL like Me in any way.  That person does exist, but she doesn’t live here and I’ve never met her.

Periodically, I spend a little time doing ‘self-care’. That’s the frou-frou term these days for taking a break and indulging in a bubble bath, a much needed nap, or just sitting idly while the clock tick tick ticks. I am not very good at these things. Oh, the guilt.  Inconsistent would be the best way to describe my efforts.  But on the upside, I have managed to spend a lot of time with my parents. Dad had a close call early in July, but he is out of the woods now. I feel that I have gotten to know my Mom a bit better and understand what her day to day rhythm is like and how stressed she must have been before my daily visits. I’m so thankful for having the opportunity to slow my own pace in order to relieve her of some chores and responsibilities.  She has done enough work now.

Today is her 79th birthday.  We went to the Arboretum, to Joann’s Fabrics for yarn and to lunch at QCumbers.  She had a wonderful time and so did I.  That would not have happened if I had been “at work”.

Karen & Arline 79th BD

In between, I’ve managed to knit a sweater. Almost. Should have been done weeks ago.  Let’s just say, I’m learning a lot on this one.  It is registered to go to the MN State Fair for competition but it’s not complete.  The panic is beginning to cause a bit of fear sweat. (That aroma is unmistakable)  I can do this.  I know I can.  I will do it.

AS WOOL IS MY BOND:  This sweater will be delivered to the Fair if I have to block it and dry it in the car, pinned to the passenger seat, windows down, on the way, to the fairgrounds.  That’s the patented “KB Way”. So let it be written.  So let it be done.        kb.xo

Progress is slow

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks.  Chauffeuring, grad party, doctors and surgeries and clinics, oh my.  Now it’s Friday afternoon, it’s 97 degrees and muggy outside and I’m hunkered in my craft room with the window AC until the temperature comes down 20 degrees.  Then, and ONLY then, will I venture outside again.  To keep me occupied are some delicious projects:

  • sweater needing 2 sleeves and a blocking
  • new raincoat with too-long-and-floppy sleeves
  • photo albums in progress
  • Ombre fabric baby quilt
  • ever more re-arranging my room

To the casual observer, it may seem that I am all play and no work.  Let me assure you, FAR from it.   Yesterday I finished washing & ironing an entire large laundry basket full of clothes to donate to Goodwill.  To that basket I added some old unused tech. Delivered the whole kit & caboodle after my second clinic visit of the day.  Freeing up space.  That has become my underlying primary goal with any time I have remaining after seeing to the needs of my folks.  Mom now has one less cataract and is surprised at the difference in the colors she sees.  Just wait until the remaining one has been removed!  I am excited for her.  Dad has been approved for Medical Assistance and Elder Waiver.  That will stop the financial bleeding.  There are other loose ends to deal with, but they will wait until Monday.  I’ve had enough for the week.    My best friend now has a new mobility van too!  We went to Albertville to collect it this afternoon.  How she managed to go a month without a vehicle is testament to her resilience.  I am considering piggy-backing on their road trip to Denver in August, which is almost literally what it would be, because I’d be riding in the last seat of that new van – oof.   KB. + backseat = carsick.

Maybe I could drive or try some Dramamine.  I’ve never been to Denver.  Kinda like to see it.   Possibilities to ponder.


Is this pathetic?

img_3334…besides being gross, that is.

Picture this:

7 am, early enough to beat the heat that’s coming in a couple of hours.  Walking the dog, enjoying the morning, catching up on “Curiosity” podcast episodes.  Oops, I’ll just rewind that part.  So I stop at the curb, dig in my pocket for my phone and as I’m distracted, Leroy spots what remains of a decayed rabbit carcass and it’s IN REACH of the leash!  To a dog, this must be glorious.  Now, this thing is desiccated down to bones and fur at this point.  It’s been in the street for a couple of weeks.  There’s another one IN MY YARD!   Someone threw it there because previously, it had been lying dead in the rabbit crosswalk for a few days and then one day, I almost ran over it with the mower.   (Thanks neighbor.  Are you also the asshole who dumped a broken lawn mower on the same curb on Monday? WTH?!?!)

Back to my tale.  Taking a step to continue our walk, I realize that Leroy is intent with something.  That’s when I spot it.  Rabbit fur hanging from both sides of his mouth.  ISH!!!!!  I try the command: “Drop it”!  He’s become deaf to verbal commands.  Next I tried offering him cheese – it’s his favorite treat and luckily, I brought some.  Nooope.  I tried grabbing it and the tug-of-war is on.  Little bits of fur – OH.MY.GOD….DID I WASH MY HANDS YET?!!!!!!!!?  Hold please.

Three hand scrubs and a peroxide rinse later….   (I’m pretty sure I did that immediately because it’s a habit to wash them after every walk.  But. . . .just to be sure).  Carry on.

As this scene played out, a lady walker strolled toward us, an approaching witness. Yes, she watched me wrestle with my dog, cussing the whole time, but far enough away that she probably couldn’t tell exactly what was happening.  I explained (while still tugging) what was going on.  Her nonchalant, presumably helpful response was, “Too bad you don’t have a treat in your pocket”.

Yeah.  Thanks for the tip.

Moral of the story:  Don’t fiddle with your phone while walking your dog.

The End.