When I think about all we need to accomplish in the next eight weeks I feel a bit weak in the knees! The biggest thing is the house needs to sell, then we have to shut down my business and transfer it to Stephanie, prepare the rest of our belongings for transport, prepare the cats and all the important documentation to transport them. Have you ever considered what needs to be done to shut down your life and start it up again elsewhere? Of course, many of you have done just that , your the ones who have ( in many ways) inspired me! We have a long list of phone numbers and account numbers of everything we need to cancel, credit cards, AT&T, PG&E,Homeowners insurance, health insurance,Water, Garbage,bank accounts, Whew! And that’s not including all the Salon things that I need to cancel or transfer. If for some crazy reason our house isn’t sold and escrow closed by June 1, We are kinda screwed cuz I wont have a job anymore ! Yikes! I don’t even want to think like that ! It has only been two weeks, almost three since the house was listed for sale and there has been a lot of interest, just no official offers yet. The landlord at our temporary apartment told us we will only have the apartment until May 4 so hopefully we will have a much more solid vision of what comes next. This Limbo time is very troubling and Im trying to think positive and remember the “Poco a Poco” mindset ! Little by little Holly, Just one day at a time is all we should focus on. It’s hard when your a planner by nature. Scott is much better at this mindset. He seems so untroubled by the temporary uncertainties that are facing us. I try to adopt his relaxed , seemingly untroubled demeanor but It’s doesn’t always work. I’m pretty good at faking it though, I probably look calm on the outside but boy oh boy, I’m not! I am constantly reminding myself to focus on today, one step at a time, relax, breath, all that good stuff I’m sure to believe it sooner or later. Don’t get me wrong, I have moments of calm and I know everything always works out just as it should. Usually as soon as I just let go, thats when Everything falls into place. So, I think my mantra for the day is, “Poco a Poco!” , “Poco a Poco!”, Ahhhhh! Much better, this is me, relaxing and letting go! Any minute now things will be tumbling into place and before I know it I’ll be writing a post about how crazy we are as we try to prepare to set up all the details of the move. Well, Well, Well, be careful what you wish for, I wished for an Adventure, and an Adventure I am having! Life is good! Crazy, but Good!
We moved into our temporary apartment on Friday(March 15) . It’s a furnished apartment in Santa Clara, about 20 minutes away from Los Altos. As I’ve said before, we looked at staying at a pet friendly long term hotel but this place provided much more room at a much more economical cost. So our very first night was quite a comedy. First , before leaving our house in Los Altos, we could not find one of our cats, Copper. They both have been rather Traumatized with all the commotion going on in their home lately. They have both spent all day everyday this past two weeks , hiding in the basement only coming out at night when we would sit down to relax and it was quiet around the house. Poor guys, I feel so bad for them. They must be very confused by all the recent upheaval . So on Friday, moving day, Scott and I first made a trip to the apartment with a load of our belongings so that when we came back with the cats they wouldn’t have and opportunity to sneak out the door while we moved things in. When we went back to the house to retrieve the cats only Midnight was there. We waited and searched until after 9:00 and just finally had to leave without Copper. We knew we would be able to find him eventually so were not especially worried. Midnight was not happy about the move , of course. I figured it would be a rough first night with him meowing and climbing all over us as we attempted to get a bit of sleep the first night. I was right about him, he was like a magnet to my hair, clawing and clawing my hair and head and wondering around the new place all night long. At one point he finally settled down for a bit and then some kid in the complex began yelling at the top of his lungs, ” Don’t Talk To Me!!, Don’t Talk To Me!” It was really loud and then when he finally stopped his rampage we began to go back to sleep, and outside out window was a very loud ‘QUACK!” ‘”Quack!” ( insert eye roll right about here) Scott said,”What the Hell is that???” My answer… “A Duck?” As it turns out, the swimming pool is just outside our bedroom window and a pair of very chatty ducks were enjoying a very early morning float in said pool! They were involved in a very exuberant conversation and did not care who was eavesdropping!
We’re not in Los Altos anymore! Welcome to apartment living. We have been in our temporary housing for a week now and It’s actually going very well. The next morning after very little sleep, I realized that our bedroom window was not closed and that explained why everything was so loud. It has since been closed and we now have two cats who are very slowly and not very happily adapting to their new surroundings. They are slowly beginning to let up on the nightly ‘walking on our heads’, maybe they feel as though they have tortured us enough for the time being! Now that the mad dash to prepare the house is over we are trying to be with the cats as much as possible. We feel so bad about having to leave them alone so much right after we took them there. After this week Scott should have a bit of down time so hopefully he will be around there a bit more, that will make the cats happy , although getting at those darn ducks would probably make them the most happy! Come to think of it, a nice ‘Duck’ dinner doesn’t sound half bad!!!
For those of you who are not retired yet, Try to imagine if you had 10 more weeks until it was time to begin a new chapter in your life! For those of you who have already begun A shiny new chapter, you know just how excited I must be. I’m excited and terrified all at the same time! For nearly 30 years I have known what each day held for me. Maybe not exactly what each day would bring but I could predict with relative accuracy, what my day would hold. Now as I look forward to 10 weeks from now, it is unwritten, it’s not predictable at all. To some , this fact would be unacceptable. To me and to Scott, the unpredictability is exhilarating! The unpredictability is not just related to my career, but to every single aspect of my life! People I will come into contact with, food, where I will live, language, customs and traditions, even the landscape I will see when I look out the window in the morning will be different. In 10 more weeks I will wake up with the reality of a fresh new start.
What will our “fresh new start” look like? Your guess is as good as mine! We can plan and strategize and make arrangements all we like, but we still won’t know exactly what will happen once we hit the ground in Panama. Things could go as planned or more likely it could be a comedy of errors! Let’s just hope we can have a sense of humor and roll with the punches as we navigate our new, unpredictable life. We are planning to find a furnished place to rent for our first year in Boquete. We are hoping to be able to find a place fairly soon, we’re always keeping our eyes open , watching online on forums what is happening in the rental market there. Our friends, Al and Sela may have a place available close to town but we don’t know much about it yet so we are looking and attempting to keep our eyes peeled for just the right spot. Our cats are most likely going to be a bit of an issue, limiting us on what we can rent. I totally understand landlords wanting to restrict renting to folks with pets. The right place will show up eventually, of this I’m sure.
I envision our early days in Boquete being filled with a bit of relaxing and getting acclimated with everything. Stocking up on food and essentials. Getting the cats settled, getting signed up for spanish classes, relaxing some more, maybe getting caught up on my reading. All this and also getting all our essential things lined up like banking and cell provider and wifi and I’m sure we will still have a bunch to do about our residency visa. We will see how long we can live without a car, taxis are pretty cheap and easy to use, we shall see how long we last. Buying a car in a foreign country will be an adventure. I hope we will be able to find an animal sitter so we can get a bit of traveling in. But, wait! I still have 10 more weeks, and I am planning on enjoying these last few weeks. I’m gonna hug everyone I can hug and I’m planning on appreciating each and every moment with all the people in my life here. Not that I will not see everyone again, cuz It’s not goodbye! Noooooo! It’s “farewell”, “see ya soon!” and “Bon Voyage!” Initially there will be tears but then time will pass and we will become accustomed to being connected via, Facetime, email, Facebook, my Blog, Skype, and even the old fashioned telephone! The world is not so big these days and I have a feeling many of you who I only see and catch up with once a month or so will be hearing from me much more frequently. You’ll probably wish you’d stop getting so many emails from ‘Let The Adventure Begin!’ Yes, it will not be “The Same”, but who says “The Same” is the best? “Different” will work!
As I’m counting down 10 more weeks, I plan to savor the joy and anticipation I’m feeling . Beginning anew is not something that happens everyday and I’m really excited, filled with so many different and varied emotions. There are so many things happening at the moment with the beginning of trying to sell our house and moving into our little apartment and selling my business, just to name a few. I could be stressed and grumpy and sad and many other less optimistic emotions but I’m choosing to be focused on all the exciting aspects of this next chapter. Yes, An Adventure is A’ Brewin’, for sure! WhooHooo! 10 More Weeks! La, La, La! ( That’s me doing a Happy Dance!) I hope your dancing with me!
Now that the house is ready to be gobbled up by someone who just can’t live without it, we are living in our little apartment and waiting for the next step in this big adventure of ours. Scott is finishing up a few more details at the house, clearing out his workshop being the biggest chore at the moment. He needs to sort through his big mess back there and decide what he wants to keep and what he will give away or throw away, sounds like my Hollyween purge huh? It’s a pretty big job and he is hoping to be nearly done by mid week. There are still a few little details to address inside the house like installing a few more handles on cabinets and finalizing all the CAT5 wiring. The outside sprinkler system is getting a few repairs done at the moment as well so I wont have to keep doing the watering by hand which takes a couple of hours to complete now that the yard is landscaped all around. As soon as Scott gets his workshop all cleaned and packed up the only thing left to do is wait for our buyer to step up! Hopefully that wont take too long.
I am still planning to work until June 1. I have sold the salon to a friend and as soon as she has her meeting with the landlord we can begin to finalize all that. I haven’t written too much about that yet because she has not officially told her co workers where she is currently working so it’s still kinda hush, hush. The time between now and June 1 will be busy choreographing the move to Panama. Up until now we have obviously been completely focused on selling our home but now the next phase is all the paperwork and details of making an international move. We have to retain a container moving company and arrange the date for them to load all our belongings into the container from our storage facility. We still have all the paperwork to gather and complete for importing our cats to Panama, lot’s of work on that front. We will most likely retain the services of a pet relocation company that we have found in Panama. We need to begin the process of getting our permanent residence visa for living in Panama. Retaining an attorney in Panama is the first step in that process then we will proceed as we are instructed by them. Let’s not forget our taxes! Dee (my accountant) will be happy to know that is on the top of our list of things to do in the next few days!
Yes, we have made it through the preparation of our house and next up is all the technical stuff. No rest for the weary! I’ll be back to my busy schedule at the salon and Scott will be busy with all the gathering of all the documentation required to move our cats, our belongings and US to Panama! As soon as we get to Boquete, we are gonna really need a drink and possibly a hammock where Scott can sleep for about a week! This Adventure is so far proving to be much work and we are looking forward to having some down time after June. Time is flying by , to be sure!
Whew! Today was yet another productive day at our soon to be on the market house. I did a bit of running around while Scott was working on the never ending job of finishing up cabinetry and overseeing the finishing up of the drip system one of the workers was working on. My mission was to try to find a replacement for the missing safety pull out doohickey that makes the jacuzzi run, ( I failed miserably) then mission number two was to locate and order or buy pieces of glass for the four cabinet doors in the dining room area. I’m pleased to report that my mission was a success! Aside from the fact that the guy made a booboo on one piece and I have to go back tomorrow to get it, no big deal, I was just overjoyed to be able to walk out with three beautiful pieces of glass.
A Few Days Later, Tuesday, March 19
It’s been a grueling few days! Remember those beautiful pieces of glass? Well the painters broke all but one of them! Rats! Well, back to the glass store! It took them a few days to order more of the glass so I picked them up yesterday, we should be good to go on that! I also ran around while Scott was chipping away at the remaining details of his woodwork for the interior. I went to the storage unit to drop off a few more boxes. We have just been trying to empty out all the little nooks and crannies in the house so Ive been just tossing things in boxes taping them up and throwing them in storage. We may end up opening some of the boxes when we get to Panama and wondering why in the heck we brought that! lol! Like I said, I was the, ‘Run Around Girl” yesterday, after picking up the replacement glass I went to the hardware supply place to get more drawer slides and cabinet hinges and 14 more cabinet handles. Then back to the house, anxious to see what the stagers had done to my house. Then after the flurry of people left I tacked installing the covers on the plugs all through the house and making sure all the hardware is installed on all the windows. I also cleared out my glorious closet and made it look beautiful.
Today I’m back to work, the work were I actually get paid! : ) I just hate not being at the house helping with all the last bits of final work but I guess we do still have a mortgage to pay so we just have to divide and concur ! The Realtor is stopping by the house to check out the staging at 8:30 then the stagers return at 9:30 to polish it all off then the virtual tour photographer arrives at 12:45 and the Realtors have invited some of their top producers over to help determine pricing. and then at 6:15 when I’m done working we will meet Christy and Ed to discuss all the listing details. Whew! I think the biggest job Scott has left to accomplish is packing up his workshop which is a pretty big job but should be able to get at least a big amount of it done by the time the open house happens on Saturday. One of my favorite blogging friends posted a blog that included a phrase she and her husband learned in Spanish class, ‘”Poco a Poco”, Little by Little! Yes, We can see the light at the end of the tunnel and Poco a Poco we will get it done.
I took this whole week off work to help pull this house and yard together by Friday. Every day we are up by 6:00 and working non stop until the wee hours of the day, it’s 7:30 pm right now and we just finally sat down. I’ve been in charge of the landscaping and it’s really coming together pretty good. Sunday and Monday I had help, thankfully, from Cindy, Janet ,(the best next door neighbor EVER!), and Mariah. Cindy came with me to the nursery and we bought tons of flowers and shrubs. I think she may have been slightly overwhelmed by the amount of plants we had to decide on and buy. We bought so many Pansies and Marigolds If I see another Pansy I think I’ll scream! Then on Monday Natalie and Patti came over for a few hours and we got the rest of the front and most of the side yard planted. Patti and I had to run to the nursery for more shrubs for the side yard. We had plenty, more than plenty flowers but needed shrubs to fill in around the side yard and courtyard areas. I love shopping with Patti because we are both really good decision makers and we pick things out really fast without even questioning our decision,”Yep!, That’s Perfect!” and off we go! We picked out the plants and bought and loaded them and got back to the house pretty quickly. Natalie was planting away in the front yard when we got back. I bet Natalie will also scream if she see’s another Pansy! I think all my friends think I’m going a bit overboard with all the flowers and plants but I think it’s really important to make everything look perfectly beautiful. I want someone to come into this house and just absolutely fall in love with it. Then I want them to write me a nice big check so I can catch the next plane to Panama, Well, ok, maybe not the NEXT plane .
I’m realizing with each passing day that Our Adventure has begun in earnest. I know, I’ve already acknowledged the fact that the “journey” is the destination. But so far our Adventure has been planning and strategizing and dreaming and researching and planning some more. Getting our home ready to sell and preparing to move out of the house has been the first really big step that is irreversibly changing the way we are accustomed to living our day to day life. We are taking on this monumental life change in order to quench our hunger for a very different lifestyle, and HERE IT IS! We are just weeks away from walking away from our house. Most of our material possessions are packed and waiting to be loaded onto the shipping container. It’s a very sobering thing to realize that we set our sights on something and are marching briskly towards our goal. In the midst of all this upheaval I must admit that I have not experienced even one moment of regret or change of heart about what we have set out to do. In the coming months I’m certain I will be writing about how hard it is to leave all I know but fear not, I am expecting this transition to be a challenge of enormous proportions . Writing about all this and sharing it with all of you is very therapeutic. It’s a very productive way for me to process all my many varied emotions as I travel through this gigantic adventure. All the hardest, most challenging experiences in my life have always, without exception, been the most worth doing and the most valuable. The easiest path is not always the most rewarding. The thought of not pursuing this adventure and staying put, continuing on the same path we are on , is to me much scarier and sadder than marching forward towards the unknown.
We have a loosely formed plan for this next phase of our life. But “loosely formed” Is the key phrase. We would be foolish to think that we can predict what will actually happen when we hit the ground in Panama. We have an idea of what we would like to achieve and for now we will head in that direction but with open minds and very clear expectations to expect the unexpected! To some this may sound unsettling and it may well prove to be just that, unsettling . If calm, predictable and settling was our goal we would stay put in our beautiful home in Los Altos. We signed up for an Adventure and I’m sure we will not be disappointed . We may be frustrated at times, nervous in the beginning, and of course sad to leave many people who we will miss. Making a life change as monumental and all-encompassing as the one we are in the process of making is many things but easy is not one of them. Who really knows for sure what the future holds for any of us? We certainly don’t expect our relocation to Panama to be predictable but what we can predict is, we will learn a lot and we will be pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone as well as creating a new life filled with lots of new friends and new experiences.
So as we prepare to leave our house, our careers, our family , friends and country we may feel sad at times and I speak for myself when I say I will very likely be very melancholy as I face so many lasts and endings and farewells. But , boy do we have much to look forward to as well! It’s truly exciting , hard , to be sure , but I’m certain all this preparation and hard work will be worth it ! It wont be long now! Did somebody say, ” Let The Adventure Begin!”, Oh, yea! That Was ME!! Sooooooo It’s an Adventure All Right!! And It’s Begun Already!! Whooooo!Hooooo!
We are sleeping at our house but to be sure, we are barely living there. We have sold, stored or given away most of our furniture . We have packed up most of our kitchen and cooking equipment. All the wood floors are covered in paper by the painters. Our Bed, the only thing left in our bedroom, is pushed into the middle of the room, weird! All the windows are covered up by the painters and there are trash cans and toilet paper and other odd things piled up on counters so they are out of the painters way. Get the picture? To say we are Living in our house would be an inaccurate description of the situation. We sleep, shower,eat frozen pizza and drink wine (Lots of wine!) ! It’s quite strange to exist in our home this way. All for a good cause, I am not complaining! Just sayin’! I’ve taken next week off work so that I can help with all the last minute things that need to be completed. I have a few friends who have kindly offered to come over and help me do so some planting. I just want to plant tons of color all over the yard so that it looks beautiful and cheery! I”m so glad I don’t have to do the final cleaning ! The cleaning crew will come on the 16th and make the house sparkle. Where have they been all my life? It wont be long now and our house will not be ours anymore. Sigh…
Today, Wednesday, our realtors Ed Graziani and Christy Ying are coming to the house with the cleaning company to give a bid for the cleaning and the copy writer who will be writing the brochures for the house. Ugg! This selling a house gig is proving to be quite the ordeal! Geez! Can’t we just plop a for sale sign in the dirt and call it a day? I guess not. sheesh! Nothing is as easy as I would like it to be. So I will play the game along with everybody else, cross our fingers and hope for the best. The “best” being a fast sell for lot’s of $$$!
In the past I always dreamed of having crews of workers swarming around my house getting lots and lots of projects done while I gazed upon the scene with a big smile on my face. Well, be careful what you ask for! This morning I was in my bathroom getting myself ready for my day, headphones in my ears , as usual,( listening to my favorite podcast) while I blow dried my hair, got dressed and put on my make up. When I was done with this morning ritual I opened the bathroom door and Wow! My house was swarming with worker-bees! Painters, carpenters, and who knows what else was going on in every nook and cranny. A beautiful sight for a women who has lived in a ‘half finished’ house for many many years, dreaming of a house that was actually ‘finished’. I realized quickly that there was no place for me to even work on my iPad so maybe I should exit, stage left! Although, It was only 8:30 A.M. and I did not have to work until 1:00! Well, the realtor and their crew are coming at 10:00 so I decided to take refuge at my salon, which is just 5 minutes away. I grabbed the truck keys from Scott and fled the scene to find solace in the salon and then I will return in at 10:00 to meet with Christy and ED. Just another day marching towards our Big Adventure!
This is a picture of the detached garage in the backyard and the dirt that will soon be lawn. We are building an arbor over that glass sliding door and I have a beautiful pot to plant a topiary to the left of the door.
Each day off work is a day to work. There really isn’t any time to just have a day off and recharge. We have set a very tight schedule for ourselves and it will take every spare minute we have to get everything done. We have two weeks left to get this house in perfect shape. The painters will continue tomorrow and Scott and his four workers will continue pulling the backyard together, while simultaneously finishing off woodwork projects that are not quite complete . Today (Sunday) we bought four beautiful trees to plant along the fence in the back. We already bought a lot of shrubs to plant and three vines. Scott plans to order the sod tomorrow. We are supposed to get some rain on wednesday so hopefully all the plants will be in by then. Today Mariah helped me empty the attic and haul my last load to Goodwill. The biggest project that Scott has to complete is probably packing up all his tools and transporting them to storage. There is a pretty long list of little details to address. I have taken the week of the 11th off work so that I can help pull together the moving out and the front yard planting as well as anything else I can tackle while Scott is finishing up all the details he is working on . We need to plant a bunch of color in the front yard. Our Realtor is coming on Wednesday with her cleaning person so he can give a bid. The plan is to be out of the house and moved into our short term rental by the 15th. The cleaners will be scheduled to clean on the 16th and then the stagers will begin on the 18th. Then the realtors will have photographers in here to begin a virtual tour and photos for marketing brochures and such. Then the Brokers tour should be the 22nd and open house beginning on the 23. The clock is ticking, we shall see if we make it! If not , then oh well, we will just have to push everything out a week or so, not the end of the world! This entire timeframe is our own, nothing says we cannot change it if we aren’t ready. Whew! Sounds exhausting, huh! Well, it kinda is!
Painters, stagers, realtors, landscaping, storage spaces, and cleaners OH MY! Our life is literally upside down! It’s all a part of the ride we signed up for so don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining , nooooo. It’s exciting , to be sure! But man, It’s moving along much faster than I could have envisioned. And my stomach gets a bit tight at unexpected moments. Yesterday when I walked into the house there was a crew of painters in there and my beautiful colors were gone! Not all the colors were gone but the ceilings are all white now. If you don’t know me, I am not a fan of white, is white ‘really’ a color? I just love to surround myself with cheery color. I knew the painters were starting this week but I thought they were starting the exterior first so I was kinda surprised when I walked in the house, to see the interior started. I had to turn around and walk back out to Scotts truck and just cry. Scott saw me crying and said (after a chuckle) are you crying because your sad or happy??? “I don’t knowwwww!” I have a strange feeling that will not be the last of the tears. This is a transition of emmence proportions ! A change that I’m very excited about but also very aware, even more so lately, of the magnitude of change we are initiating. I’m so grateful to be doing this with my best friend! Although I think he’s wondering who this cry-baby is at the moment. Humph! Onward and upward! Did I hear someone say ADVENTURE??? I might need some kleenex for this portion of the ride.
With the exception of the front yard, we have quite a bit of cleanup to do around the yard before the house will be ready for public consumption. The backyard is especially horrifying! So today Scott has rented a little Bobcat tractor and the big push to clean up the back yard is on it’s way. We have a detached one car garage in the back that was once converted into a little cottage. It has a bathroom and a tiny little kitchen area. When I was a single mom I used to rent it out to help with my mortgage. It was so good to have it. Before we did our remodel the original house had a garage attached but we used up that space for another bedroom. So the cottage became the garage. We have made good use of that back area through the years . First living in it while we built our house then it became Scotts workshop for all his tools. All around the garage there is ugly concrete and we are removing all of it so we can landscape all the way back. Our backyard is quite large so it will be so pretty to have sod, trees and flowerbeds to see from the house rather than the huge mound of junk I’ve gazed upon for so long! Grrrrr!