Monthly Archives: September 2016

Goodbye Charlotte, hello Des Moines …

If you’re good at reading between the lines – and plenty of hints have been dropped in the letters the last month or so – it will come as little surprise to you that I will move from Charlotte to Des Moines as soon as the house sells.

Ellen and Reid have both endorsed the switcheroo. You have only to look at photos of Emma and Georgia to understand how I arrived at this decision that is at once easy yet difficult. Charlotte has been my home for more than a decade, and I’ve come to like, and possibly love, the quirks of the city and the friends I’ve made. Indeed, a handful of friends deserved to be told in person.

But the time has come. Time once again to pull up stakes, stuff everything into the Camry and moving van for the drive north, reinvent my life and simply move on to whatever the next chapter is.

And it will be in Iowa rather than North Carolina.

September 19, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Ten years ago today I moved into the house, and here we are trying to sell the darn thing. Actually, I might have screwed the pooch a little; there’s already one offer that was perilously close and now I’m thinking I should have jumped on it. In my defense, the young couple were the first people to go through and I thought perhaps this is just the tip of the iceberg. Surely others would come through and perhaps ignite something. Only two visitors stopped by at the open house yesterday and while both professed to liking it, no offers have come through. My attorney told me that technically speaking, offers must be made in writing so that’s what I was expecting the young couple to do – send something in an email or a letter.


Here are two primary reasons for my relocation: 4-year-old Emma (assuring her apprehensive little sister Georgia that things will be okay on the first day of pre-school). I don’t want to miss out on any more of their early years than I already have. Des Moines puts me an easy drive from Reid in Chicago, too.

Alas, neither has been forthcoming but I did make a call to the couple this morning but the call has not yet been returned. Perhaps the old saying, ‘Good things happen to those who wait’ will come true. I’m still not sold on the idea of a Realtor since the time-on-market here is in relatively short order. Comp-wise, I seem to be in the ballpark (upper end of the ballpark) although the price reflects a good location with a great view and privacy. Hopefully, someone else will see those benefits to the house and agree with me. seems a valid way to go about the sale and I’m in no way ready to give up on that approach. My friends Sherry and Richard told me about and that’s sort of a discount Realtor approach and is worth looking into. I don’t think five days into the process without a sale is necessarily anything to get uptight or fidgety about. It’ll happen and I’ll be on my way.

If it does sell, perhaps I can apply some of the proceeds toward golf lessons. My favorite game is completely in the tank. It could be that the house and all the other things tied to the sale are messing with my head (which wouldn’t take much) but there is a complete lack of concentration and focus. You need those to even play adequately. It could be that my money would be better spent laying on a couch spilling my guts out to a shrink. That’s what is really needed. The one saving grace to teeing it up at all is the social aspect of it. My Golf for One group had a really fun time after our Saturday round at a place called Nellie’s and it was a riot. The wait staff take turns singing with the band and it’s a hoot. The food was pretty good and there was a big crowd.

The basil is on its last legs. It’s been so hot here that the basil, which loves hot temperatures, has continued to stick it out. I’ll whip up another batch of pesto sometime today.

Marge the labradoodle was fun to have around with this weekend. This is the fifth time I’ve sat for her for all or part of a weekend and she adds a new dynamic to owning a home. She’s got so much pep that she literally begs to go outside for a walk. She doesn’t just amble outside, she sprints at a dead run. She’s not so good with other dogs but now that I know that, it makes it easier for me to manage her around other dogs. We go for the obligatory four mile walks on both weekend mornings and she is just dead to the world when she’s done. Since I don’t lug around water for her, if I find a cup somewhere along the way I’ll dip it into a fountain at the midway point and that seems to hold her over until we saunter in the front door.

One of the post-move dilemmas is how to handle my classes at Central Piedmont Community College. It seems like enough students are registering that both my classes will be held starting the week of Oct. 8. Since classes go for seven weeks, there may be something of a time crunch if/when the house sells and I’ve got to get my ass out of here. But we’ll cross that bridge if/when the time comes. And let’s hope it comes sooner than later.

Love, Dad


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House selling 101 … the latest chapter in a book not yet written

Over the years, Ellen and Reid have read all about it; life-changing relocation and career moves, adjustments to a new part of the U.S., health scares, and even scant details on tepid efforts at relationships. You name it, they’ve seen it.

And now, a house sale in a neighborhood where homes should move quickly. The kids know the whys and the wherefores and they’re quite supportive of this latest chapter. But there’s a long way to go before this book is completely written.

September 12, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Well, I guess I’m looking at a house that’s ready – mostly – to put on the market. The “For Sale By Owner” sign will go up Friday on the front and back windows; then it’s on for a few weeks and if after that nothing is moving, and as a last resort, I’ll find a Realtor. Several are acquaintances but will give it to none of them since that could strain friendships and the others would feel left out. Still some touch ups here and there but it’s mostly ready to go. In the best of all worlds, if the thing sells anywhere near the price I want ($—,000) then I’ll make some decent money.


I’ll give this FSBO approach a go for a few weeks and see where the chips fall. There’s been interest and two relatively close offers – but there’s a ways to go.

A Realtor has conscientiously dropped off a monthly postcard showing what has sold and for how much in my neighborhood (he includes the square footage, too). I’ve religiously kept each one of those and that’s the yardstick I’m basing the price on. One of my neighbors thinks I could go north of $400,000 given my location in the development and the privacy I have. His reasoning is that if you have a home with a view (mountains, ocean, etc.) you can get more and he believes the green belt out back is an example of that. It would be great to get multiple competing bids. That may be the one convincing argument for a Realtor at all – they, in theory, have this ‘pipeline’ to the horde of buyers. We’ll find out soon enough.

Let’s say that it does sell quickly? What’s the plan then? The objective at that point would be to find a rental and camp out there until such time as something desirable opens up. Jane and Val really have their ears and eyes to the ground for me and that’s a Godsend. Reid, I will likely implore you to come down to help me move stuff from Point A to Point B. So let’s talk about that possibility. There is no doubt that some of it may have to go into storage and I’m okay with that. Some things might be hawked on Craigs List although I have a sour taste in my mouth after the Harley fiasco.

There’s some trepidation around all of this. Continue reading

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#1 reason behind ER visits: penne pasta with sautéed chicken …

Penne pasta with sautéed chicken and pesto doesn’t normally trigger a visit to the ER, but then again, most things aren’t normal around this place these days. I can attest that endless pokes, prods and jabs have not gone out of fashion for such visits.

The kids were apprised of what went on over several mid-morning hours and as it turns out, I was no worse for the wear (that happens when the bills begin to pour in). Ellen and Reid read about it here and got updates via the phone, too.

September 6, 2016

Ellen/Reid: Who needs a gall bladder anyway? We’ll find out next week when I meet with the surgeon. There have been no more episodes in the ER since then and I’ve been feeling pretty good. That deal came out of the blue; I’ve never had any issues at all. I didn’t mean to alarm you with that text from a gurney but thought you ought to at least know what was going down. The weirdest part of the whole ordeal was initially while in the Urgent Care office. Their first concern was a ‘cardiac event’ but when they dismissed that, they said to go next door – literally, 25 yards away – to the Emergency Room. But since I was still experiencing abdominal pain, their protocol was to transport me in an ambulance. An ambulance? 25 yards? The nurse didn’t even smile as she described how long it would take to arrangements. Incredulous, I asked if there was a waiver and they allowed me to sign one. So I left the Camry were it sat and walked down one flight of stairs to the ER (where I was the only patient). I’ll bring you up to speed next week after my appointment. My preference is to keep the organ and my hunch is they will allow that in the absence of other symptoms or persistent pain/discomfort.

It was, and will be, a week with doctors. Had my routine physical the day before my trip to the ER (everything good); later last week saw a guy about my knee. An x-ray revealed only patella tendinitis and he prescribed some stretching and a pressure strap for the knee when I walked or golfed. The strap seemed to work okay in initial field trials. In about an hour I see the dermatologist and then the dentist on Thursday. Medicare, don’t fail me now.

Ellen, great before and after pictures of tree removal around your new house. That seems to really open things up and will ultimately be better for the lawn. Good for George to be there to help Tim out on that rugged job. Send more shots of the house inside and out.

I’m inching closer to my deal. Gave the garage a good going over last week and it’s in fine shape now. The downstairs living room, kitchen and upstairs living area, guest room and two of three baths are as good as they’re going to be. The &^%(*#$ Harley has still seen no action. It’s very unsettling to have the bike not sell. One guy called on the color and leather/non-leather bags but he didn’t call back. Not sure what next steps to take with it. It may well make the trip with me or be put into storage. We’ll see.

Going to have four friends over for dinner on Friday. The menu is still coming together but it will be a daunting task to perform in front of such a crew; both parties are very accomplished cooks. So I’ll have to be on top of my game. Burgers might be an easy way out since if I opt to go high cuisine, that opens up my culinary skills for silent scrutiny. Risotto or a tenderloin are other options. But what the hell. We’ll just play it by ear, serve a lot of wine and they’ll have no other options other than to be polite about what they’re served.

It was really fun to have Marge, the Labradoodle, for the long weekend. She is really a good dog. She’s not used to being around a lot of other dogs, however, and the concert was very unnerving to her; she got into it with a couple of dogs during their sniffing encounters.


Marge was pumped on the way to the concert at the Whitewater Center.

I’m not sure why that was and very uncharacteristic of her usual demeanor. Perhaps she was nervous but it made me wary of putting her into contact with other dogs. There were fireworks afterward that scared her to death. She pulled and pulled to get away from the noise but there was nowhere to run or hide. I felt badly for her.


The enormity of the concert and crowd, plus lots of strange dogs, were a bit too much for Marge.

The poor dear slept really close to me on the bed that night. It would be a great thing to have a dog, but what our three day weekend showed was that you have to be around for the dog most of the time, and my schedule doesn’t necessary fill that bill. Still, a surrogate pet is better than none.


Love, Dad

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A trail of tears and softened edges after 10 years …

Time flies when you’re having fun.

Somehow, Ellen and Reid have never read even an abbreviated version of my move to Charlotte; but here I am, 10 years later and my head is still above water. In a lot of ways, the move to the South marked a wholesale overhaul of the tone and tenor of the letters.

What was a light heartened effort to occupy their time in college and in their early 20’s made an abrupt 180 degree turn. It was now about overcoming distance between me and them, and describing the mixed feelings/emotions as their dad muddled along with unfamiliar environs, the complete lack of friends, a stifling work culture, and a jury rigged life below the Mason Dixon line.

August 29, 2016

Ellen/Reid: It’s hard to believe but earlier this month my 10 year anniversary in Charlotte quietly came and went. I’ve tried hard to make heads and tails about the how and why I got down here at all for nearly one sixth of my entire life. It really has been a mostly surreal decade, what with reinventing virtually everything in my life from work to friends to living arrangements to adapting to Southern life to you name it. As I drove around on that recent day, August 15, I tried to assign my tenure a grade on the 1-to-10 scale. Of course, assigning grades is an exercise in the moment and reflects one’s mood at the time. I dunno, but since it was mostly a melancholy day, I gave it a 6. Any other day it might have been a point higher or lower. It’s kind of like opinion polls where the margin of error is a point or two.

Reid, what I do recall, vividly, is walking out of the Bridger Wilderness with you on Saturday, August 12, 2006, driving back to Des Moines, loading my BMW with literally all my worldly possessions Sunday night and Monday morning, and then – bingo – pulling into Charlotte at 10 p.m. in a driving rainstorm as I wiped away tears (wondering just what the hell I’d gotten myself into) and setting up temporary residence in a bland all-white condo owned by the bank. My memory as a rule is spotty but I remember that entire sequence as if it were yesterday. But time tends to soften the hard edges and I’ve inured myself to things here. Yet I’ll never really be considered a local by my or anybody else’s standards.

And to think all of this is about to come tumbling down. Even though the 10 years has gone by in a flash, it’s just another blip on the life scale. I’d like to think of myself as somewhat resilient but reinvention of self is just another way to say ‘go with the flow.’ And I’m about to do that.

Ellen, you guys are also the rolling stones that gather no moss. I didn’t realize the re-hab gymnastics you and Tim are doing before you move into your new place. You need to send me a few photos since I can’t visualize what you’re getting yourself into, and I say that in a positive vein. Tim’s photo of you vacuuming in Des Moines was just a scream. Sometimes you just have to let things go.

The house is slowing but surely coming around. Sealed the deck and worked on the mundane living room over the weekend but I irresponsibly jilted my pressing responsibilities on Sunday afternoon to go play golf with my friends Sondra and Jody. She is one hell of a cook so after golf I got to eat her pasta and all it cost me was a bottle of Malbec. I’ve got to get cracking on the garage and the infernal spare bedroom/office. While the garage should be manageable, the bedroom is going to be a frigging nightmare. Hope to sell both twin beds and the wooden desk on Craig’s List, but if my results are no better than the non-response generated for the Harley,


For sale: A Road King Classic. I’d of thought someone would snap it up by now; ‘… or best offer’ doesn’t sound too bad right about now.

then I’m really going to be pissed. It is so disheartening for the bike not to have sold. Ellen, your suggestion to take it to the Harley dealer is one I’d hoped to avoid but it looks like that will be the action of last resort. But I want to be rid of the thing. You don’t know how many times I’ve rued that purchase and wished I had the old Heritage Softail back. It was one hell of a ride. Stupid is as stupid does.

I see the doctor this afternoon about my left knee. It continues to be sore all the time. Perhaps any surgery can be put off for a few months. If I can limp through several weeks in Wyoming on a bum leg, I can sure as hell gimp around getting a house ready to sell. Ellen, I’ll head out today to get the succulents you and Liz recommended for the copper tray in the kitchen. It’ll lend a little class and dress up the windows. I’ll tell you what: you send photos of your new abode, and I’ll send you pics of the new flower arrangements. Deal?

Love, Dad

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