The Cold Caught Up With Me

After a relatively healthy Summer filled with lots of dyeing, traveling, shows and – perhaps most stressful – MOVING – the cold that had been dogging my compromised immune system finally caught up with me and has settled in for a longer visit than I’d like.

I have damaged lungs due to some stupid choices I made in my 20’s.  Nothing fun like huffing or drug use, just refusal to ALWAYS WEAR A RESPIRATOR (or at least a mask) when using sprayed particles or spray paint while making props and costumes.

I could do a PSA about the damage and how it’s impacted my life.  Since my late 20’s I’ve had severe asthma, exacerbated by cold, humid weather (especially after a hot spell) and it’s impacted many aspects of my life.  For many years I was unable to get health insurance due to my condition, and would end up in the ER at least twice a year.  Bronchitis was my yearly visitor, getting a case of it at least once each year.

Things changed significantly for the better for me with the advent of the ACA. I can FINALLY get health insurance, and at a relatively reasonable rate.  Because of this, I’ve been able to see an allergist on a regular basis, thus controlling the triggers that set off asthma attacks, and I’ve greatly benefited from monthly injections of a drug called Xolaire, which allows me to breathe almost like a ‘normal person.’

I can honestly say that I’m breathing better at 55 than I have since I was 27.

So when this cold finally came to settle in my lungs last Wednesday, and settled in for a long run, I felt unprepared for the sensation of losing control of my breathing yet again.

But, as I constantly have to remind myself, where a cold usually runs one week for most folks, for me it  runs for two weeks, and this is proving to be the case this time around.  I had a respite a few days ago when I thought I’d lost the cold, but after overdoing it with a long bike ride*, then a few longer days in the dye room, I have to admit that the cold was NOT gone, just lurking and waiting for me to give it the opening it needed, which I foolishly did.

(*I actually think the cycling was a benefit, my rides have been all on lightly graded bike trails, very low energy, just a chance to stretch my lungs and get some fresh air in there. Or I could just be kidding myself.)

Kathleen and I are in Fosston, MN at the 2nd Annual Fosston Fiber Festival.  Rather, I should clarify that Kathleen is AT the festival, and I am in the hotel, sitting in bed, watching TV and blowing my nose.  And coughing.  Always coughing.

I feel guilty, but powerless, and didn’t even wake up to say “Goodbye!” to Kathleen as she headed off to the Fest this morning.  I thought I would be a help on this trip, but I’m not.  Not really a burden, either, just sort of a neutral presence.

Since I’ve had this cold for more than a week, I’m hopeful that I won’t be infecting Kathleen, but that’s always a worry, too.  She offered to make the trip alone, but I hated the thought of her making an 8-hour round trip on her own, so at least I’m a second body in the car.  Inert, dazed, but I am a body.

So I doubt I’m going to make it over to the festival today, I doubt if I’m going to make it beyond the foot of my bed. But I have lots of tea and a ready source of hot water, cold meds and some knitting.

Enforced rest in a [surprisingly comfortable] Super8 might be just what the doctor ordered!

 

Moving In

Home, Sweet Home!

NEW Home, Sweet Home!

I feel like this Summer I’ve been a distracted, busy, active, aching, hot mess.

I’m always hot in the Summer, but I’m not usually so confused by simple things (which is the washer, and which is the dryer?) and more focused on daily tasks.  But this has been THE SUMMER OF THE MOVE, and if you’ve moved, you know what that’s like.

From March-June we were cleaning, packing, storing, painting, repairing, planting – just basically getting our house ready to put on the market.

I started the hashtag #HomeSaleFixup if you want to see the pictures from our transformation on social media.

That was exhausting, but we had a plan.  With Max leaving for college, and Andy a Junior at Earlham, we realized it was time to downsize in some respects.

We wanted to move into a home that would make mobility easier for Gerry and myself, would have rooms for Andy & Max (but not huge ones…) and would afford me a better space from which to run the dye operations for ModeKnit Yarn.

Vanity is painted!

Vanity is painted in the old house! SO MUCH WORK!

Early in our search we had included, “Garage workspace” or “Heated garage” in our search criteria on all of the real estate sites, but after finding NOTHING with a workable garage I decided to just give up and look for a functioning basement with a walk-out so I could easily transport yarn to and from our trailer for shows.

I REALLY wanted a stand-alone space like a garage, but I didn’t think I’d find it.  The business is growing beautifully, and my business partner Kathleen Pascuzzi and I realized that we would have to move to a larger space, so I was just hoping somehow I could roll that all into our home search.

The double bay is the new dye studio!

The double bay is the new dye studio!

After the house was on the market we discovered that Gerry’s cancer was raising it’s ugly head again, as it seems to do every 3 years or so, and that added a sense of urgency to the move.  Gerry always enters a new chemo phase by trying to organize things, I think it’s how he deals with the uncertainty of Multiple Myeloma. So this time he seemed determined to get us into a good space before his chemo starts in September, and I was happy to use that time frame.

Our new neighborhood

Our new Pokemon neighborhood

We were VERY fortunate in our agent, Claudia Assell from Home Avenue (a flat rate broker)  She was a wonderful asset as we put our house on the market!  Unfortunately, her long planned vacation coincided with the weekend we accepted a bid and so NEEDED to get out and FIND A HOME very quickly.

Sheep Dog Trials at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool

Sheep Dog Trials at Wisconsin Sheep & Wool

Enter Natasha Cejudo from Edina Realty.  We’d met with a few other realtors while looking for our listing agent, but none of them seemed to ‘gel’ with us.

We’d met Natasha by accident, and we really clicked!  She was excellent at showing us things that suited us, and we tried to make her job easier by checking out homes and neighborhoods (and thus eliminating a number of homes) before dragging her along to show us the interiors.

She’d heard of a home that was going on the market through her agency, so we were able to see it on the first day it was available for showings.  We arrived at 9:30 and we weren’t the first buyers to see it – THAT’S how hot the current real estate market is here in the Twin Cities.

Unpacking will be a BITCH.

Unpacking will be a BITCH.

The home was beautiful; it was essentially a smaller version of the house we were selling! Similar layout, architecture and era (1910’s bungalow with loads of lovely Arts & Craft wood)  We liked it, although we were hoping for something with a bedroom on the main floor.

Then we walked outside and saw The Garage.  The seller was a fine woodworker, and had built the garage to his specs in 2012.  It’s modern, heated, has an attic and is HUGE! Two of the bays in this 3-car garage will be the new dye studio for ModeKnit Yarn, the third will be where we keep our solo car.

After several fiber shows in a row, and a TON of teaching, I’ve spent most of this week dragging boxes up and down stairs and putting together shelves, tables and work area items for the dye studio.

Setting Up The Studio

Setting Up The Studio

It’s nowhere NEAR ready, but it should be usable by next week so I can start dyeing again!  And just in time!  We have a bunch of wholesale orders and some pretty large special orders coming up, along with two dye clubs Kathleen and I are cooking up and the regular dyeing I need to do for upcoming fiber shows.

While I deal with getting the business going again, Gerry is unpacking, putting stuff away, and dreaming of the things we need to get for the home to store our electronics.

Family Picnic at Lake Phalen

Family Picnic at Lake Phalen

We have a fence guy coming tomorrow so we can get that put in (and the dog will be happy to be running free!) Gerry’s made it a point of walking to the lake every day with Jasper, but as the days get colder and the chemo makes his days harder, we’ll be very glad for the fence!

I’ve been working so hard, I think today I’ll stop and take a break and go for a nice bike ride, I deserve it, and so does my mind and my body!

There’s a big lake a few blocks away that looks as though it needs to be circled a few times!  Maybe I’ll catch a few Pokemon!

End of Summer Wrap Up

The Family Picnics at Phalen Park, near our new home

A Family Picnic at Phalen Park, near our new home

In Minnesota, the last weeks of August have a crispness, especially in the morning, that is so delicious, it’s as if you could drink the air. It’s the start of my favorite season!

Since we first married Gerry’s said that as late Summer rolls around I start getting geared up for something different, NEW, to happen.  He says I always seem happier when there’s a change happening in the Fall, so this year should make me VERY happy!

New Status

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, KIDS!

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, KIDS!

The first main change is that Gerry and I are officially empty-nesters.

Both kids are firmly ensconced in their respective colleges, settled into dorms and preparing to start classes.

My business partner Kathleen and I drove Andy back to Earlham College in RIchmond, IN on our way to the Michigan Fiber Festival, where we’ll be returning next year, we loved it SO MUCH!

Every time I drop Andy off at college, I can’t believe how much I miss her – you’d think it would get easier, but it doesn’t.  I’m proud of her, I love her so much, and I’m happy that she’s happy at college.  But dang, I miss her.

ModeKnit Yarn; On The Road Again!

ModeKnit Yarn; On The Road Again!

While we were in Michigan enjoying an AMAZING fiber show (if you haven’t been to the Michigan Fiber Festival in Allegan, you should put it on your ‘fiber shows to visit’ list – it’s just wonderful), and avoiding tornados (we spent an hour in a basement waiting for the all clear), Gerry was driving Max up to U of Minnesota, Morris for his Freshman year.

This was something I was pretty shattered to miss.  I really wanted to take Max to college for his first year, but circumstances made that impossible.

Apparently he’s doing well, enjoying dorm life, and making friends.  I’m hoping to get a chance to drive up to Morris before I leave on our next fiber-related journey to the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival on Sept 6th.

New House

Our new home, strikingly similar to our old home.

Our new home, strikingly similar to our old home.

We’ve sold our house (about a month ago) and found a new one over by Lake Phalen that is a perfect size for us!  Three bedrooms, but not huge ones, so it will be great for a kid home for the Summer.

The rooms are small enough to be temporary, large enough to be guest bedrooms/offices.

I may even have a sewing room for the first time, which would be amazing!

Our new home is actually a LOT like our current home; the layout is very similar, it’s a craftsman bungalow, approx the same age.

New House Stairway

New House Stairway

Although we were hoping to find a home with bedrooms on the ground floor, the stairs in our new home are wide and not deep, thus easy to walk up.

This hasn’t always been the case in our current home (I’m SO tired of ducking as I go down stairs!) so we’re very happy.  The decision, ultimately, was up to Gerry, who said he liked this house quite a bit and felt good in it.

New Studio

The GARAGE! Double bay is my new workspace!

The GARAGE! Double bay is my new workspace! More pics after the move in!

The most AMAZING part of the house, though, is outside.  Although the house is around 100 years old, the garage was just built in 2012 and it’s huge.  It has three bays, two of which are currently being used as a workspace for the current owner, a skilled furniture craftsman.  The garage is heated, and it will be an amazing workspace for ModeKnit Yarn!

The idea that I can dye yarn in a large, well-lit space (NOT in a basement!) just steps from my back door will be game changing!  Right now our dye studio is, essentially, my basement.  It’s been great for the first few years, but we’re growing now, and having more space is exactly what we need!  I’m looking into used restaurant kitchen tables (metal topped) for the dyeing, we’ll be putting in a sink and we’re also looking into a portable water heater so we don’t have to run a hot water line to the garage.

The Move

FRECKLES! Toad Lily, Freckled Iris, Betty Confetti & Community Clinic & A Lovely Thing

FRECKLES! Toad Lily, Freckled Iris, Betty Confetti & Community Clinic & A Lovely Thing

It’s been a Summer of work; painting, packing, showing the house, and now more packing and a final push of throwing things out!  We’ll be getting a dumpster to rid ourselves of large items we’ve amassed over the past 10 years.

I won’t be in town for the actual closing on our houses, Gerry will have to get by with a Power of Attorney, acting on my behalf.   Once again, I’ll be away at a fiber show, feeling as if I’m ignoring my domestic responsibilities, but knowing that business obligations are important, too.  It’s been a season of feeling torn.

We'll be in Wisconsin, Teaching & Vending Sept 8-11.

We’ll be in Wisconsin, Teaching & Vending Sept 8-11.

It worries me that I won’t be here.  Gerry’s been working hard, packing smaller stuff all over the house, but the larger stuff in the basement and garage will require more muscle than he has available, so we’re hiring the movers to come out a few days early to do some basement and garage packing.

Fortunately Jack, a good friend whose wife, Robin, is one of the most amazing knitters I know, will be hanging out with Gerry on the day.  Jack will accompany him to the closes and PREVENT him from jumping in and trying to do what we’re paying the movers to do.  Thank heaven for friends – have I mentioned how guilty I feel about not being here on the day?

So for the next two weeks I’ll be dying up yarn to fill orders (we’re getting more and more wholesale customers, bringing them in as we feel able to accommodate them) and packing up all the tools of the dye studio.

If you’re in St. Paul and will be around over the Labor Day holiday, we may just have a “packing party” and barbeque, clean out the fridge and get some final items packed up!

Living In A Show Home

Buy My House

Buy Our House

I haven’t written much about the #HomeSaleFixUp, mostly because we’re actually IN the buyers-looking-at-the-home portion of the process, and it can feel so demoralizing, that I just didn’t want to write about it much.

We put the house on the market on June 1, and we’ve had A LOT of interest. We’re showing the house an average of once a day, which means we need to keep the house looking tip-top (hard when you’re trying to run a messy home business and living with three cats, one dog, two teens & a tinkering husband…)

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, KIDS!

GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, KIDS!

But overall it hasn’t been unduly difficult.  We find reasons to scoot out of the house when folks want to see it  (shopping, picking up dinner, going for a bike ride) and Jasper’s never HAD so many long walks.  Max’s habit is to take him out for an hour-long walk whenever we need to leave to show the home.

Sometimes we’ll pack a lunch and go sit in a park and enjoy ourselves – we keep a blanket in the back of the car just for that reason.  We think the house is showing well, we’ve had a lot of good comments and the home is consistently rated 3-4 on interior & exterior appearance (out of 5)

The main problem seems to be the busy street, which we always knew. It was a consideration when we purchased the home, we thought long and hard about it, but I can honestly say that in nine years it hasn’t really been a huge issue in our lives.  But every family is different!

killroom

Dexter Prepares to Dye, er, Kill

I’m becoming quite skilled at dyeing yarn in a teeny-tiny space, only using as much room as absolutely necessary and doing everything over washable rugs and with plastic draped around the walls.  My friend Deb likened it to Dexter’s “Kill Room”, which is more truth than poetry when I’m dying those bright reds.  I’m DEFINITELY more careful than I was when it didn’t matter how the room look when I finished! I’m also really glad that when I painted downstairs, I used deep, saturated colors.  If I DO spill, and wipe it up, it’s not as much of a tragedy as if the walls were white!

I just finished dyeing up a large order for Bijou Basin ranch, before that I was rushing to fill orders that had been placed while Kathleen and I were on the road.  We’re getting more and more wholesale accounts, which is amazing and great, and which also means more dyeing (which is also great!)

(L-R) Toad Lily, Freckled Iris, Betty Confetti, Community Clinic & A Lovely Thing

(L-R) Toad Lily, Freckled Iris, Betty Confetti, Comm Clinic & A Lovely Thing

Mostly I’m trying to get a lot of yarn ready for our trip to Stitches Midwest in early Aug in Schaumberg, IL.  We’re excited to give it a second go, and see how it all pans out this year.  It’s DEFINITELY the easiest show to load into and out of (we can pull right into the show area!)

After that is finished, we have a trip to the Michigan Fiber Festival in late Aug.  I have taught there and I LOVE this festival,  I’m thrilled to be teaching there again!  It’s such a lovely event, the atmosphere is amazing and it’s in the sweet little town of Allegan, MI.  Kathleen’s never been to Michigan, so it’s a great introduction to the state for her!

(L-R) Lilac FLOW, Iris FLOW & Hydrangea FLOW

(L-R) Lilac FLOW, Iris FLOW & Hydrangea FLOW

We’ll be dropping Andy off at school (Earlham College, oddly enough Michael C. Hall — Dexter — is an alum…) on the way (she’s going back early to work Freshman Orientation) so to kill a few days before the MFF Kathleen and I are doing some cabin-camping on Lake Michigan – I’m really looking forward to that!  it’s pretty bare bones, but I’ll be certain to shower before heading to Allegan for my first knitting class of the festival!

Now if we could just find the perfect family to love our home as much as we have, and THEN find the perfect “aging couple” home for Gerry and I, we could relax!

Hard Work Behind, Light Ahead

Sunset On Our Trip Home From Ohio

Sunset On Our Trip Home From Ohio

It’s been an incredibly busy time for the past few weeks; ModeKnit Yarns had five shows in four weeks, and all the travel that entailed.  Setting up the booth, standing around selling the yarn, breaking down the booth and driving to the next location are actually pretty enjoyable physical activities, but coming right on top of each other bang-bang-bang it was a hard thing.

Leading up to our time away and our local shows was a few months of intensive home fix up (all of it catalogued under the hashtag #HomeSaleFixUp if you’re interested) so I was already running on fumes.

Adding to that, while on the road we acquired three new wholesale accounts (yay!) which meant a lot of dyeing when I returned home (yikes!) Add to that a bunch of new orders (yay!) which also meant a lot of dyeing (yikes!)

2016-05-30 23.18.17We also acquired a new kitten (well, it’s Andy’s kitten from school, and it is FEISTY!)

Yikes because we’d cleaned up the basement dye studio pretty nicely, and every time I dye down there I spend almost as much time setting up beforehand and cleaning up after.  But we have to keep the home ready to show at any time, and that includes the basement!

So I just finished dyeing almost all of the items on our ongoing, “Orders To Fill” sheet.  (In our business, Kathleen receives the orders and then fills the sheet so I can see exactly what needs to be dyed, and then I dye, set, dry and skein the yarn to fill the orders)

Right now there are a few items I can’t dye because we’re having issues with our knitting machine

In the past  year I’ve broken two yarn feeders in the carriage (one by dropping the carriage about a year ago, the other by pushing the carriage to hard.)  I’d come up with a solution to glue the piece back together using superglue and rayon ribbon, and it worked for a few days, but it was never a permanent solution and now it’s watch is done.

So about 5 items from various orders are waiting for a part that should be arriving on Tuesday, then I can knit up more fabric and fill the waiting orders.  And I plan on ordering a few spare yarn feeders because I’ve discovered it can be an incredibly fragile little plastic piece, and practically impossible to fix once it’s broken.

What I HAVE dyed in the few days, though, is amazing.  I’ve dyed the equivalent of 240 skeins of yarn, most for orders, but some of it for our stock.  And now that the last batches are in their citric acid baths, I’ve changed out of my dye clothes and into something dry and cool, and I’m engaging in one of my guilty pleasures; binge-watching ALONE on the History Channel, and enjoying my indoor plumbing, running water and beautiful home!

I think I’ll ask the kids to wring out the yarn and hang it up.  They should be good for something, right?

2016-05-31 11.20.43Speaking of the beautiful home, we’ve had a lot of interest, a lot of visitors, and a few return visits.  The house has a LOT going for it, but two things we can’t change are the fact that we have a one-car garage, and we live on a busy street.  Those two things could be non-starters for a lot of folks, but I feel confident that we’ll find the perfect family for our lovely home!  We’ve certainly been very happy here for the past 9 years!

I’ve also been able to get out on my bike every day or so, which makes EVERYTHING better.  I have a presentation to prepare for The Knitters Guild here in MN on Tuesday at the Textile Center.  I’ve got all my props set and everything written out, now I just need to make it smooth by rehearsing it a few times.

After this presentation, I’ll have nothing immediate on my plate until Stitches Midwest in August, except getting this home sold and finding a new one…

 

A Few Days On The Lake

Lake Erie Sunset

Lake Erie Sunset, finally resting for a few days!

I haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been SO incredibly busy!

Living & Dining Rooms

Living & Dining Rooms

A combination of getting our home ready to put on the market, and preparing enough yarn to see us through a bunch of online orders that came in (yay!) and SIX fiber engagements (5 fiber fests & a trunk show) in 6 weeks across six states meant that when I had a few spare moments I was generally using them to take care of personal activities like brushing my teeth.

Who knew time for flossing would become a luxury!?

Universal Catherina by Myrna Stahman at Shepherd's Harvest

Universal Catherina by Myrna Stahman at Shepherd’s Harvest

So ModeKnit Yarn partner Kathleen and I did a few shows in MN (Yarnover by the MN Knitter’s Guild and Shepherd’s Harvest out in Lake Elmo) and had an amazing time!

We have begun to divide the work in a better way; I dye all the yarn (which means also doing all the blank knitting for our FLOW colors) and I do the skeining.

Andy's Always With Us!

Andy’s Always With Us!

Kathleen handles the sales & marketing, shipping orders and staying in touch with wholesale orders and club customers.

Kathleen also makes up the mini skein sets, and puts our kits together.  She gets to see a LOT of Andy (in pattern photograph form.)

When it comes to traveling, Kathleen does the lion’s share of booth planning, packing and loading our trailer, I help set up the booth and help deal with customers, and at some shows I teach (which generally brings in more customers from among my students!)

Drying Yarn

Drying Yarn for Yarnover

I do most of the driving and planning our hotel accommodations, Kathleen handles the interactions with the show producers & handles filing our tax info for out-of-state sales.

So suffice to say that BOTH of us are pretty ragged right now!  It’s a testament to our friendship that after all of this work, and all of this driving, a week into our trip we’re still giggling and having fun!

Happy Sheared Sheep at KY Sheep & Fiber Show

Happy Sheared Sheep at KY Sheep & Fiber Show

After the Kentucky Fiber Show last weekend (what a sweet, well run and friendly show!), and an incredibly joyful stay with a good friend of Kathleen’s (THANK YOU MIMI!) we drove up to Columbus for a trunk show at 614 Knit Studio, which was AMAZING!

614 Knit Studio Trunk Show

614 Knit Studio Trunk Show

614 Knit Studio is such a lovely shop, if you’re in the general area, it would be WELL worth your while to stop by and have some knitting time!

614 Studio had an INSANE accident a few weeks ago when a car drove through their front window.  No one was hurt, miraculously, and we’re in awe that Andrea has her shop up and running again so quickly!

Our nod to 614 Knit Studio's recent auto incident...

Our nod to 614 Knit Studio’s recent auto incident…

We arrived on Tuesday, set up a trunk show, hung around to sign some books and just watched the yarn fly out the door!  We also had some of the best take out Chinese/Malaysian food we’ve ever had – Buckeye Asian, we love you!

On Wed (Today!) we drove up to beautiful Vermilion, OH for a few days at a lakeside motel, just hanging out and enjoying the shallowest of the Great Lakes.

Toes In The Sand

Toes In The Sand

Lake Erie was a disaster when I was a kid, polluted and terrible. We could swim, but we had to hose off, and we never ate the fish we caught.

Then it got MUCH cleaner – yay! – but now, because it IS so shallow, it is susceptible to alge blooms.  We’re here before the ‘season’, while the water is still pretty cold, so alge’s not an issue, and the water is so much clearer than I remember from the Summers of my youth!

Pre-Trip Dyeing

Pre-Trip Dyeing

So we’re here to recharge our batteries and fight the battle of the midges (some things never change…) before we head down on Friday to the Great Lakes Fiber Show in Wooster, OH.

I LOVE this show, I used to teach at it about 8-9 years ago, and it’s been a long time since I’ve visited!  We’re both looking forward to vending there, and I’ll be teaching three classes (Combination Knitting, Knitting with Beads & Mad About Plaid) so come on by and check out our yarn and my crazy teaching!

Andy in Weaving Class at Earlham

Andy in Weaving Class at Earlham

After Great Lakes, we’ll head over to Richmond, IN to pick up Andy from her May-Term at Earlham, along with her new cat, and ModeKnit Yarn (aka, the Joad Family) will travel back to St. Paul to prepare for the Zombie Knitpocalypse next weekend and my talk on Color for the MN Knitter’s Guild later in the month.

ModeKnit Yarn on the road!

ModeKnit Yarn on the road!

Did I mention that Max’s graduation is next week, my 90-year old mother-in-law is flying in for it, and my knitting group will be meeting at my (on the market) home.

I’m looking forward to July, when things slow down…

When It Rains, It Snows (well, it IS Minnesota…)

We’ve had a few weeks of Springlike weather, and today it’ll be snowing. We’re in good company, a major storm is coming through the West and Upper Midwest, so it’s also snowing (blizzard) in Colorado, where Kathleen and I will be driving with a trailer next week.  But, that worry’s for another day…

140_sale_DR_LRIt’s been a very busy few weeks here since I last posted. We’re working on getting our home on the market for sale, with both kids (soon to be) off in college, it only makes sense for us to downsize.

Gerry’s health follows a pattern, this is the third time we’ve been through this; a new treatment is started, he does pretty well on it, there’s a slow, slow decline as the drug begins to lose it’s efficacy, and when his numbers hit a certain point they begin a new therapy.

The cancer and the drugs make him very tired, exhausted. And the pain doesn’t help. The doctors can treat the cancer, but the crushed vertebrae and brittle bones and the pain they cause are a constant in Gerry’s life. So, with all of that it seems prudent to find a one-story house that’s easier and cheaper to maintain.

Two tone wall, darker on top, lighter below the picture shelf moulding.

Two tone wall, darker on top, lighter below the picture shelf moulding.

As I tell Gerry, “I’d rather make this choice now, than have the decision taken out of our hands in a few years.” At least this way we’ll be more in control and have more time to choose the right new house for us.

It means a LOT of work! A lot of painting, fixing small things, hiring someone to fix LARGER things, and packing, packing, packing! We can’t afford to take on two mortgages, so we’ll be showing the house while we’re living in it, which means we are trying to get the home as empty as possible, while still being livable for us!

So far we’ve packed up almost all of our books, and along with all of my fabric storage & knitted samples from the past 15 years, they’ve been stored at a facility nearby. We have a lot MORE to store there, but the place is SO easy to use (the loading dock is entirely covered, elevator, excellent staff, long opening hours) that it’s not difficult to do a few runs when possible in our station wagon!

140_sale_copper_plackGerry’s mostly relegated to packing and patching plaster (nail holes, an odd crack) and shining up the copper plaque over our fireplace. He wears out pretty easily, but he keeps going, even when he’s exhausted. Max has been great, this past weekend he helped me get our living room and dining room walls painted, they look amazing!

So we wait for the weather to accommodate us so we can paint the deck and the outdoor trim on the doors, we look at homes (knowing that by the time we can get them, they’ll be snapped up by someone else!) But we can dream!

I’ve had a few big projects to finish, which coincided with a bout of bronchitis, so sitting and crocheting was about all I could manage for two weeks. I’m MORE than ready to get back to getting the house pristine, though!

Week One of #HomeSaleFixUp Down!

It’s been a crazy, busy week; on alternative days I’ve been dyeing buttloads of yarn, skeining yarn, knitting up yards and yards of fabric AND scraping, spackling, painting and cleaning up the house, room by room, to ready it for sale.

Good friend Lisa P stopped by to paint the landing!

Good friend Lisa P stopped by to paint the landing!

When I look back and the work I did this week, I’m astounded.  It did NOT feel like that much, which makes me so relieved because I was terrified that I’d be so exhausted and pain wracked that I wouldn’t be able to do ANYTHING.

As I wrote in my last blog post, I think my return to HRT (hormone replacement therapy) has been an extremely positive change in my life, and I DO understand that this isn’t the route that is right for everyone! It works for me, though, and I feel like a new person!

Wulfentine Flow

Wulfentine Flow

My goal this week is to finish Max’s room (I left it half-finished on Wednesday to work on the hallway and kitchen/bathroom) and to make a sizable dent on the basement dye area (I have a CRAZY cool idea for that space, which I won’t write about until I try it, to see if it works!)

And I have a dyeing goal this week of at least 80 balls of FLOW in addition to other dye finishes, we’re gearing up for our Spring/Fall shows and I remember from last year how quickly we ran out of our popular yarns (the first show!) We can’t let THAT happen again!

 

Thank You, Estrogen!

Medicine is expensive. CRAZY expensive.

In the US this is due to several reasons, not least of which is the stranglehold big Pharma has on many of our Senators & Representatives.  But that’s a discussion for another day…

Some medicines are covered by our insurance, others aren’t. It always seems to be a crap shoot, and figuring out which medication is covered has made more than one of my doctors pull their hair out.

It's my OWN damn fault!

It’s my OWN damn fault!

I took a estrogen/testosterone pill after my radical hysterectomy in 2001, and it worked like a charm.  Not having those pesky ovaries meant that my body didn’t create estrogen OR testosterone, so I needed to supplement that. I used a pill called “EstraTest” and it worked beautifully.

Through the 2000’s and up until the ACA was passed, I didn’t have steady health  insurance. Now I do (thanks, MNCare!) and my health has improved dramatically because of regular doctor visits and access to medications I need for my chronic conditions like asthma & fibromyalgia.

I take daily asthma meds, and use Vitamin D3, exercise and diet to control the fibro, but access to my acupuncturist and chiropractor, and regular checkups by my rheumatologist are priceless!

The fly in the ointment of all this health goodness was that beginning around 2007 my Estratest was no longer available/covered by insurance.  I was switched to Estodial, but it just wasn’t afforadable ($180/month, WITH insurance!)  I fell into the habit of taking one pill every three days to keep my non-estrogen symptoms at bay. Finally, I just gave up and stopped getting the prescription.

That was last Fall, and it took about 3 months for me to feel the full effect of no estrogen; exhaustion, depression, brain fog and KILLER hot flashes!

My bike, my man, my dog and a new haircut in Summer 2015

My bike, my man, my dog and a new haircut in Summer 2015

Last month I made an appt with a new Gyn (who KNITS!) and she suggested checking with Target, who carries the Estrodial at a cheaper rate. So, for the first time in a few years, I’ve been taking my estrodial daily and the change has been amazing.

I wake up feeling ABLE to work! I’m not dragging myself through each day in a pain fog! My mind is clear, and I just feel more like MYSELF!

I told Gerry, “Just wait, after a few weeks you’ll see the old Annie back!” and I was right. This week, while getting our house ready to put on the market for sale, I have worked harder painting, scraping, cleaning and spackeling than I have in years.

Yes, I’m definitely feeling all of that work — I have the aches and pain you’d expect — but after a bath and a good night’s sleep, each day I feel able to actually WORK again.

I’m reveling in this, and I have to force myself to NOT overdo it. After all, physical exhaustion leads to fibro flare ups! But with the estrodial, I’m doing two to three times as much as I would have been able to do a few months ago, and I’m NOT exhausted!

Hormone replacement therapy isn’t for everyone, I have a lot of friends who deal with their menopause symptoms with less pharmaceutical methods, and they work great for them! But having NO ovaries at all (and after discussing it with my doctor(s)) this seems like the best route for me.

You can see the fruits of my labors this week.  Tomorrow is a big dye day, and I’m NOT dreading getting up in the morning! YAY!

If you want to follow my daily DIY progress on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, I’m using the hashtag #HomeSaleFixUp and posting each day that I’ve done a bit of work.

Home, Sweet, Home..?

104 lexington front-749313

Our 2007 Change of Address Card

We’re doing a lot of fixing up Chez Modesitt-Landy, because we’ve come to the decision that it’s time to put the family manse on the market.

We love our house, it really HAS been a home and a haven for us during a very difficult nine years (NINE YEARS?) It’s been nine years since we moved into this house on Feb 17th, 2007, and we’ve worked every inch of this house for all it’s worth!

But with Andy in college and Max on the way out the door, and looking toward the next 10 years, we realize that we need to downsize and eliminate as much debt as possible. We’d rather move on our own terms than be forced to make a decision because of circumstances later.

My Knitting Group on our Back Porch

My Knitting Group on our Back Porch

We’d also love to find a rambler or some house with most of the living on one floor. A basement (for the dyeing biz, which still isn’t big enough to warrant a separate facility) is also a necessity.

So yesterday I started us rolling with a general clean up of our front porch. Today Max is scraping and sanding the upstairs bathroom vanity so we can paint it to match the rest of the room. We’ll be sanding and painting our stair hall, the basement stair, the basement floor and main area walls, two of the bedrooms and the kitchen woodwork. Wow, that seems like a lot.

What a difference it makes this time around, nine years later, with a strong teen son to help with the work!

new_kit_ne_corner_2076568859_o

Our Kitchen!

When we bought the house, we had no idea that Gerry had cancer. We just knew that he had a bad, bad backache, and thought it had a lot to do with how much he hated his job in New York. We figured, “As soon as he starts doing freelance video work, or finds a job in Minnesota, he’ll be happier and in less pain!”

Wishful thinking.

Along with the Multiple Myeloma that was discovered mere weeks after our move, Gerry also had a terrible bout of recurring Ulcerative Colitis.

At that point the house had ONE working bathroom (upstairs) and the new washing machine we’d purchased wasn’t working, so I had many, many unpleasant trips to the Sel-Dale laundry those first few months.

We’d planned on updating the kitchen when we first looked at the house (that was part of our budgeting) so we altered that design to make the kitchen a bit smaller and add a ground-floor bathroom/laundry room. Later we framed in and dry walled a bathroom in the basement (best shower in the house!) and my office down there, so we HAVE made some nice improvements!

We’re hoping all of this will help with the house’s value. We know, though, that we purchased at the top of the market in late 2006 (damn!) but we’re hoping we can get at least what we paid for it back when we bought it.

So whenever I have free time over the next weeks, I’ll be taping, scraping, painting and cleaning.  And looking for our perfect next-phase-of-life house.  With a nice, unfinished basement…