|Found in a box of photos.|
Obviously, I've been away. We left Seattle June 30 and headed east to Madison, Wis. to clean out our beloved house in preparation for selling it. We had been renting it out the past five years while we adjusted to life in Seattle, but after a particularly gnarly and stressful winter, We decided we just couldn't do it anymore. Our tenants left the house unattended for two weeks during the polar vortex, and the day they left the house, the heat went off causing all the radiators and pipes to freeze and crack. (The house was heated by fuel oil, and a delivery was made the day the tenants left. Three weeks later when the oil company returned to deliver another load, the tank was still full.) We don't know if they turned the heat too low, accidentally turned it off, or what, but by the time they returned two weeks later, the house was a disaster requiring $72,000 in repairs.
To make the situation even more disheartening, the tenants not only took no responsibility, they demanded to be paid for time and effort spent mopping up water after the radiators began to warm up. We didn't blame the tenants for the destruction, and our insurance paid for most of the repairs (though not the two trips Ken made to the house), but we were harassed and sent degrading emails during the three-month restoration ordeal. They called us bullies and dishonest, and if anything describes us as landlords, it's not that. (They must have forgotten that we let them pay $200 less per month for two years, and no rent at all for a month last summer while they went to their family lake house up North. Duh.) We chose to have a new gas-fired high-efficiency heating system installed at our expense even though the heating company could find nothing wrong with the existing boiler. When the house was ready for occupancy in mid-April, we told the tenants they could live free for two weeks and begin paying again on May 1, but for various trumped-up reasons, they felt the $700+ they would not have to pay was inadequate compensation for the three days of mopping floors. There is much more to the story, of course, but that's all I can stand to retell.
The house sold without going on the market, and at first that seemed great, but the buyers have been very demanding, and the drama continues. On Aug. 25, we close on the house, and it will no longer be ours — for better or worse. It was a wrenching experience clearing our lives from the house and parting with so much "stuff," but it had to be done. We had an estate sale run by a church, and their share of the profits went to supporting homeless shelters and food banks, so I feel happy about that, but it sure was hard to say goodbye to so many things connected with my life.
|We used the large basket on the right for storing out-of-season clothes.|
We sold nearly all of the furniture and household items, including loads of baskets and other collections from around the world. I think there are now African baskets decorating the homes of many of my former neighbors. As I looked at each piece of furniture, I could remember where I had gotten it and who I was with when I'd found it. Lots of the pieces were antiques found at auctions and estate sales long ago, objects gathered from world travels, or pieces connected to late family members, and all were attached to fond memories.
|We happened upon a jazz concert on a street corner near our house.|
Letting go of 'things' was hard enough, but letting go of Madison was also hard. Madison is such a great place to live — in spite of the 'complicated' weather and prevalence of summer mosquitoes. I love it there, and will miss the city and the many, many wonderful people I've come to know and love.
Callie came with us on the trip, and I think she got a little tired of the incessant sorting and packing. I'm pretty sure she wasn't as emotional when we finally hit the road as we were.
We didn't do much cooking while we were working on the house. Wait, what am I saying — we didn't do ANY cooking. We usually ate fruit for breakfast and a big salad for either lunch or dinner, depending on which meal we ate outside the house. We bought bags of arugula, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and toasted sunflower seeds from Trader Joe's and heaped those items into our large enamel camping bowls at least once a day. The best meals were provided by friends, but we also ate in a number of vegan-friendly restaurants. Although I always asked for gluten-free food, I had stomach pains on many occasions following dinner. One place I never felt sick was Maharaja Indian restaurant, and we enjoyed many meals there.
|Sweet potato hash with tofu scramble, fresh fruit and a side of broccoli (instead of toast).|
Another restaurant where we ate a couple of times was Monty's Blue Plate — a comfort food style restaurant with vegan and gluten-free menu options clearly marked on the menu. I love when restaurants identify which items are vegan and gf. The food tastes really good at Monty's, but sometimes my husband and I both feel stomach distress after eating there. Their tofu scramble is pretty great, though. Oh well.
Much to my surprise, we've come to depend on Chipotlé while traveling. Believe it or not, I'd never tasted Chipotlé food before, but it was really handy to be able to have a sofrito salad bowl when everything else seemed too heavy, or making our own dinner seemed too hard. I like the ease with which I can customize my order, and I've never felt sick after eating the food. One order of salad was enough for two meals for me.
My friend and neighbor, Claudia, overcame her fear of feeding vegans and prepared an amazing, elegant supper of quinoa pilaf, roasted veggies and salad. It was delicious.
Eating at friends' houses was the best, and we're grateful for folks like Betsy, and Gary and Lanette for inviting us to share delicious meals with them.
|A hiking trail at Gov. Dodge State Park.|
In addition to seeing friends, we took time out from our work schedule to visit beautiful places — my friend Mari introduced me to a natural area just outside the city where I'd never been before. And we hiked at Gov. Dodge State Park. We were pretty surprised to find that about half the trails, including our favorite, were closed because of tornado damage in June.
|Along The Lakeshore Path.|
We walked out to Picnic Point and in the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, as well as Allen Centennial Gardens, Olbrich Gardens and other points of beauty and respite.
It seemed like we were in Madison for a really long time — until the day we left when it suddenly seemed very short. Now that we're back in Seattle, it's hard to believe the summer is almost over.
Have you ever been in a position of having to downsize your stuff? Are you a saver or a cleaner?
I'll share more about our summer over the next couple of posts, including a getaway to Cape Cod that includes a look at the greatest wedding food surprise ever!