Category "Moving"

January 13, 2008

Adventures in Moving Part I: Countertop Hell

The beginning of the new year means that I have to get serious about selling my house. it's not that I've been not-serious about it. I just haven't done much (but worry). Now, I'll convert the worry to action. Of course, action brings other worries. So writing about my adventures will allow a bit of catharsis for that. I'd be very interested to hear of readers' perspectives or experiences that might help in my decision-making.

The first step in selling the house is deciding what to repair, re-do, remodel, fix, upgrade, etc. The first realtor who saw the house last fall said I definitely had to replace the kitchen countertops. OK - snap the fingers and voila, end up with something like this picture? Not quite.


Where does one even start? I started with Home Depot last Sunday. I made it clear that I was moving and wanted to put as little as possible into this, because I was sure I would not get the money back in the sale -- but I did want it to look good and improve the sale-ability. One thing that countertop salespersons are really good at is making you feel cheap about such perspectives and that you really NEED granite, corion, and the fanciest possible surfaces.

From my drawing of the kitchen, we estimated that I'd need 54 square feet of countertop. Seems like a lot for such a small kitchen, but.... Home Depot didn't even want to talk about the possiblity of laminate. (yucky plastic) Granite would run about $4000, but that would involve removing and replacing the sink. Quite honestly, I hadn't realized that they have to completely tear out the old countertops before installing the new ones.

I did find a company that installs over existing countertops (Granite Transformations). Their bid was $3300, which still sounded like a lot, but which is sounding better and better! What I realized, of course, is that the existing sink would not work with the new countertops --- which means a new sink and possibly modifications to plumbing. We have a great backsplash, but maybe the countertop wouldn't go with the backsplash, so we'd have to replace it too. And of course there are the edges to think about (per linear foot). So we are talking a major kitchen remodel. I've lived through that before and have no desire to do it again.

countertop colors.jpg

Another factor is time. The Home Depot solution involved a series of subcontractors (tear out and remove countertops, remove sink, put in new countertops, replace sink, etc.) and could extend over the period of a month. The Granite Transformation solution would only have the kitchen out of commission for 2 days max. (sounding better and better as I write...)

The realtor I interviewed last week said I should go for Cambria -- reasonably priced and better than granite. Well, yesterday, I went to another place that had Cambria and was immediately steered to Meganite (what focus group came up with these names???) Cambria would be $77 per square foot, and Meganite would be $64. I am now waiting for a formal bid, but by the time you add all the labor, sink, and add-ons, this will probably be a $5000 job. Ouch! (Susan has wanted new countertops for years; the thought that we'd have to install them as we move is one of life's unhappy ironies.)

Along the way, I learned about another factor that hadn't occurred to me: weight. Granite is heavy -- very heavy. One person said I might have to reinforce the floor. Yesterday's salesperson said that the countertop overhang on the peninsula (where we have slide-under chairs) would require struts for support. Of course, that's not included in the per-square-foot cost.

Boy, I've learned a lot in the past week! Not what I had planned on learning, however. Anyway, I'm sure there will be a growing number of adventures to report on. Alternative solutions welcome! I meet with another realtor this week and get the bid from the other countertop store this week -- then I'll have to decide and move on to the next job.

Posted by hgroteva at 10:37 AM | Moving

Category "Moving"

January 17, 2008

From Countertop Woes to Countertop Solutions

After a week of misery, fretting about the ridiculous cost of replacing my countertops, I had a visit today from the handyman recommended by the staging consultant. He took a look at our nice-looking decorative tile backsplashes and tile floor, and suggested a tile countertop. Tile could be laid over the existing surface, would cost a fraction of the other solutions, and could be started on Monday. CHEERS!!

Here's an example of a tile countertop from google. Susan's house in NM has tile countertops, and they are quite nice. Why didn't I think of this earlier??

tile countertop.jpg

Next challenge: getting rid of all that 80s wallpaper and making a decision about the hot tub. I hope the next owner of this house will appreciate the good deal they will be getting, and I hope that I'll be able to land a similarly plum deal on the other end of my move.

Posted by hgroteva at 2:27 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

February 22, 2008

Before ...

Before - peninsula.jpg

Before - sink.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 9:13 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

February 25, 2008


During 1.jpg

During 2.jpg

Posted by hgroteva at 5:18 AM | Moving

Category "Moving"

March 14, 2008


What a pleasure it was to come home to beautifully completed countertops after an exhausting two weeks dealing with illness, death, funeral, family gathering, and the aftermath. Thanks to Kevin at Rosecraft for such a wonderful job. The geometry of the design worked out well, and the tile beautifully complements the tile backsplash and floors already present. This week ("spring break" - ha!) will be for packing, cleaning, moving the cats to their temporary new home, loading a POD, and officially putting the house on the market. It probably won't all happen this week, but it will be close.





Posted by hgroteva at 9:38 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

March 18, 2008

Countdown to April Fools: T minus 14

Well, I am now seriously serious about getting the house on the market. I signed a listing contract and have to have it ready to be photographed on April Fools Day -- 14 days from today. The agent I'm working with hires a professional photographer to take the pictures, and they post them on the web + develop a virtual tour. I saw some of her work and was quite impressed. For a sample, go HERE to the agent's website, and click on "virtual tour" for one of the properties.

I've already had the staging consultant come through once -- that led to removal of all wall paper, fresh paint upstairs, new ceramic tile countertops, and the first stage of decluttering. I'll have her come through for one last pass after the POD is filled.

The proposed listing price is a Bear-Stearns bargain basement deal ... or at least, it feels that way. It breaks my heart to price it so low, but hopefully it will sell quickly. (It's a great house, if anyone out there is interested. Once it's listed, I'll post a link here.)

So now the scheduling begins.

Today - the guy comes from 2nd Wind to disassemble the elliptical. I will miss it for the next 2 months, but I'll be getting lots of exercise toting, moving, cleaning, bending, stretching, etc. -- and then I'll want to walk or bike outside as soon as the snow melts.

Tomorrow -- I deliver the cats to their new, temporary home. They know something is up. When the real estate agent was here, they kept climbing on the table so she couldn't write, and Sadie jumped on her shoulder. (Fortunately, she was cat-friendly ... but she strongly concurred that the cats had to go while the house is being shown. She said cats can do a great job of sabotaging a sale!)

Thursday - Merry Maids comes to bid on the "deep cleaning" job.

Then sort, pack, box --- more runs to Goodwill, more ads on Craigslist...

Friday the 28th, I'll have the PODS unit delivered and will fill it - to disappear Saturday, when Merry Maids will work their magic.

Then final touch-ups and hopefully I'll be ready on 4/1. The biggest dilemma now is whether to fill the hot tub. We have a 4 season porch with a hot tub on it. The hot tub has been turned off for about 3 years (long story, but not because it doesn't work). The agent said I had to remove it (would be extremely difficult and expensive and I'm not willing to do it) or have it up and running (a hassle to get it up and running again and keep maintaining it). I can understand the logic about having it up and running, but I would have to drain it when I leave (end of May) anyway because no one would be here to maintain it. So chances are the person who ultimately buys the house would not see it running anyway. I would be happy to guarantee that it would work or make some kind of assurances, but I'm resisting the hassle of getting it going again. Opinions??

I'll post the countdown progress periodically.

Posted by hgroteva at 4:11 PM | Moving

Category "Cats"

Category "Moving"

March 20, 2008

T minus 12

Well, the guy came from 2nd wind, and the elliptical is now broken down for packing. The cats were delivered to their new quarters last night. We've framed it as "summer camp" for them. It's so fascinating how their personalities came through with the move. Once in the new home, Sadie jumped immediately out of her carrying case and started exploring -- running around, jumping on and in things, poking her nose everywhere quite autonomously. Shadow explored too, but was pretty skittish about it. Poor MacKenzie found a bed and hid under it. But when the others found her under the bed, they joined her and then they all came out together -- good siblings! And Pookie went back into his carrying case and cried a bit. But by the time I left, they were all happily being petted and seemed remarkably at home. They've got lots of familiar things - their climbing tree, heating pad, beds, etc. -- and they will be heartily loved. Thanks SO much to B, L, & KM for welcoming them into their home.

Today, Merry Maids came and bid on my deep cleaning job -- they will be coming a week from Saturday, once everything is in the POD. They will do everything except the outside of the windows, which I will have to contract separately. Tonight I took 7 bags of books to re-sell. B&N took the cream, and then Half Price Books took the rest.

Tomorrow, it's back to packing and sorting.... and getting ready for the week ahead. It's also Good Friday, and we are due for several inches of snow. It will be a good day to stay in, but I plan to go to hear the Durufle Requiem at the House of Hope in the evening. It is one of my most favorite choral pieces - I've sung it several times and loved it. Watch for another report at T minus 10. Still no decision on the hot tub.....

Posted by hgroteva at 8:16 PM | Cats | Moving

Category "Moving"

March 21, 2008

T Minus 10 -- setback?

The plan continues forward with one major exception. I spent an hour with the PODS people yesterday placing my order. At the end of the conversation, we were discussing the specifics about how the PODS unit would be delivered. They found that our burg prohibits the placement of a PODS unit on the street in front of a house, so it would need to go in the driveway. And it requires at least 12 ft. width, which we don't have. We have a rather narrow one-car-width driveway, which borders the neighbor's flower garden. So it would have to go over the curb and basically on to our front lawn, which is also prohibited by our city. So I had to withdraw my order. Arrgh!

So I need to find a traditional moving company - which should not be hard to do. But I want to put stuff in storage this coming Friday. I've left a message with a local moving company (rated A on Angies List), hoping that they will be able to pick the stuff up and put it in storage. The nice thing about PODS is that you load the unit and everything stays as it was - within the unit. The stuff isn't off-loaded and then re-loaded later. So we'll see what happens Monday.

In the meantime, we had more snow overnight. It looks like the depths of winter outside, but the temp is in the high 20s rather than the minus 20s. Today: attack the attic closet and start on the basement. Will continue packing, thinning, and stacking stuff for Goodwill with vigor.

Posted by hgroteva at 8:10 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

March 24, 2008

T minus 8 - back on track

Today I was able to find the appropriate moving company approved by my new place - they put me in touch with the local agent, and the local agent will come Friday to put my stuff in storage. Voila! The plan is back on track:
Friday - storage
Saturday - cleaning
early next week - photo shoot
April 8 - open house with lunch for 30 realtors. The snow will be gone, the birds will be singing, and the sun will shine brightly through newly cleaned windows. Who could resist this house???

Posted by hgroteva at 8:01 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

March 28, 2008

T Minus 4 and counting

Things are happening. The moving company took 35 boxes and several pieces of furniture to put in storage today. I met with the moving company rep and he estimated 10,000 lbs from home and 2-4,000 lbs at the office. I MUST TRIM FURTHER! In the midst of it, a very sick kiddo came home for help with doctors and prescriptions, but now he is stoked up with antibiotics, antihistimines, and cough syrup. I also divested myself of a TV and 3 book cases (thanks, Craigslist!) The place is almost ready for the cleaning crew, which comes at 8:30 tomorrow. The staging consultant comes at 10:30 Sunday. With her final suggestions, it will be ready for the photo shoot and spread in Minnesota Homes (ha!) In the midst, I've been grading papers and preparing for next week.

It's ironic, but the moving company I'll be working with will work out much better than the earlier PODS strategy. Even though it was painful to have to change solutions in mid-stream, this will be a saner path to follow. The folks on both ends of the move seem very competent and customer-oriented.

It's a treat to see the sun shine and to hear the birds sing. I think spring has sprung.

Posted by hgroteva at 5:54 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

March 31, 2008

T Minus 1 and still counting

After a minor emergency, it looks like things will fall into place for everything to be ready for the photo shoot Wednesday. The staging consultant really liked what I had done with the house, and she called the kitchen "stunning" and "compelling." That was so nice to hear! She made a bunch of additional suggestions, most of which can be handled in a few hours -- except for re-painting the dining room. Fortunately, Andrew is available tomorrow and will come late morning and do it in one day. Then a final straightening up and it's ready to show!

Everything looks so nice after the cleaning crew came -- I don't want to sneeze or move anything. Of course, trash cans can't be within sight when a house is being shown, so I guess I have to pack out with my trash every day, like I was camping and moving on. The big job for the week ahead will be to get the hot tub going again, because it will need to be running once people are coming in. The list is never-ending. But I have been assured that my agent and this staging consultant are real pros and will get this house sold, which is the goal. The house across the street has been on the market for about 4 months; it's vacant and has seen little action. I do not want to be an absentee owner!

Posted by hgroteva at 8:09 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

April 2, 2008

Mission Accomplished

Amazingly, it all came together. The photo shoot was this afternoon, and the house looked great. The photographer took some excellent shots. They will combine them into a virtual tour, set to upbeat music. The purpose, I am told, is not to document everything about the house, but rather to attract people to come look in person. Let's hope it works. I will post the link here when it's available, probably Friday or next Monday. On Friday, I complete the dreaded "disclosures", and then we visit other properties for sale in service of setting the price. I can already see how that's going to go --- the price I have in mind is probably above what people are asking for comparable or better houses -- so the price will have to be set lower. I am psychologically prepared to price it to sell. Someone will get a peach of a house at a bargain. I am also psychologically prepared to prune like crazy at my office. The official estimate came in at 6 - 7,000 lbs from the office. I do NOT need to schlep more than 3 tons of books and papers with me across country. Today, 3000 interview audiotapes went into secure destruction, and I plan to divest myself of almost all journals that are available online.

Posted by hgroteva at 7:33 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

April 4, 2008

Ready to Debut

The hot tub service company came out today - the spa is working very well, although the heater coil had to be replaced. On the work order the service man wrote, "Spa has been inspected. All functions of spa are in perfect shape." - in case any potential buyers wonder. The realtor spent a few hours making detailed measurements inside and out. The photos and virtual tour will hit the website Monday (I will post a link), and the open house / luncheon for realtors is at 11:00 Tuesday. I rode with the realtors and looked at 4 other houses on the market today in Falcon Heights - I think our asking price is quite reasonable; in fact, I would say the house is priced to sell. Truly, the house has never looked this good! I just hope that the folks who own the house I eventually will buy are preparing it as well.

Posted by hgroteva at 6:05 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

April 5, 2008

THE Virtual Tour is up!

The Virtual Tour of the house is now available. Here is the link; go there and click on "VHT Tour - Video" in the upper right corner

Tell your friends!

Posted by hgroteva at 7:26 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

April 8, 2008

Buy This House!

The house is now officially on the market. Click here to see the official listing. Be sure to take the virtual tour (click on the "virtual tour" button beneath the photos.)

Over 20 realtors toured the house today and had lunch, courtesy of our agent. By all reports, people really liked the house, felt it was in excellent shape, and felt that there definitely should be one or more buyers for it. I hope they're right. Now it's just a matter of leaving it pristine every morning as I go to work. But that's fine, if it sells.

Spread the word!

Posted by hgroteva at 7:38 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

April 12, 2008

Musical Farewells

Even though much of my time is being taken up with preparing to move, I've had two wonderful musical adventures in the past few weeks. I'll talk about the most recent one at this sitting. On Thursday night, Mark and I went to hear Anoushka Shankar at Orchestra Hall. Click here for the program notes. I first heard her on 89.3 The Current several months ago, when they played a piece from her 2007 CD "Breathing Under Water." I loved iits mixture of classical Indian sounds and contemporary western beats. I've listened to it quite a few times; the tunes stay with me.

Breathing Under Water.jpg

Ms. Shankar is 26 years old - she is the daughter of Ravi Shankar and the half-sister of Norah Jones. She has been performing publicly for half her life. Her official website is quite visually appealing - take a look.

Thursday night featured horrible weather -- we were in the midst of a spring snow / slush / ice / sleet / rain storm, accompanied by thunder and lightning (Minnesota's famous "thundersnow.") I thought Orchestra Hall would be thinly populated, but I think it was full, or almost so. The ensemble included 5 folks: Anoushka Shankar on sitar, Tanmoy Bose on tabla (incredible!), Sanjeev Shankar on tanpura, Leo Dombecki on piano, and Jesse Charnow on drums. A spectacular group.

This was her first appearance in the Twin Cities. At one point, she said "What's with this weather?" - and people understood. (She said she was heading back to San Diego -- the American city with the most perfect climate, IMHO.) The audience was what I would call "slow to warm up" - but maybe it was the weather. By the end of the evening, however, people were smiling, shouting, bravo-ing, and applauding loudly - it was a love affair.

Many of the pieces they played were ragas. According to Wikipedia:
"RÄ?ga (Sanskrit, lit. "colour" or "mood"; or rÄ?gam in Carnatic music) refers to melodic modes used in Indian classical music.[1] It is a series of five or more musical notes upon which a melody is founded. In the Indian musical tradition, ragas are held in different times of the day. Indian classical music is always set in raga. Non-classical music such as popular Indian film songs sometimes use ragas in their compositions." The entry is much longer; for further information click here.

All in all, it was a delightful evening. It was Mark's first time at Orchestra Hall (not that he hadn't been offered opportunities before), and he truly enjoyed it. He talked about coming back down for Sommerfest. I asked if he had thought about playing an instrument, and he said he'd prefer to be a sound technician - he'd be great.

Posted by hgroteva at 6:27 PM | Moving | Music - of all kinds

Category "Moving"

April 20, 2008


It took a while to come, but I am now fully able to get rid of stuff with the best of 'em. Since the house was having showings or open houses most of the weekend, I spent a lot of time at the office going through stuff. I filled another 2 recycling barrels and have several more boxes of paper in my office waiting for the barrels to be empty again. Most of my file cabinets are now pared back to the most important paper that I intend to take. I've also identified at least 50 books and shelves of journals that I will put out for graduate students to go through.

It's hard to make decisions about how much research and teaching documentation to keep. The university and APA have records retention guidelines, but in a 20 + year longitudinal study, it's really important to keep some of the source documents. Nevertheless, I've concluded that I have way too much paper. It's all interesting, but most of it will never be needed again. My goal is to move as unencumbered as possible. There's so much more to do before the moving van pulls up in 33 days.

Posted by hgroteva at 6:58 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

Category "Music - of all kinds"

April 27, 2008

Old Friends

I've been putting off this decision for a long time, and today was the day to make it. Shall I leave my LPs and turntable behind, or drag them along on this move? I've gotten pretty good at pitching stuff in the past few weeks, so I felt ready to confront the decision. When the time was right, I was rested, and the light was good, I sat down next to the cupboard where the LPs are stored.

And what did I discover? Many old friends! Many that brought a smile to my face or a memory to my mind's eye. Just as with the coffee cup collection in my office, I can tell a story about most of the LPs that remain. It wasn't a difficult decision to make - I'll be taking my friends with me. (If I had time, I'd get an LP to CD converter and digitize them, but that is simply impossible for now.)

As a nod to my need to trim, I identified about 50 LPs I can let go of. Some are ones I had purchased CDs of, and others are ones that I'm just not interested in any more. A few I have on "greatest hits" CDs, but there's something about the memory of the songs in their exact order that brings that smile. It's odd, but when I hear a greatest hit CD, I get disoriented when the songs are in a different order than on an LP I played a zillion times. (This happens rarely, and only about certain LPs I care a lot about or have very vivid memories attached to.)

Do I have eclectic tastes? Judge for yourself. Here are a few I didn't want to part with.

Phoebe Snow.jpg

Phoebe Snow, "Second Childhood" (1976). This may have been her first album. I love her unique voice.

Twin Sons.jpg

Dan Fogelberg & Tim Weisberg "Twin Sons of Different Mothers" (1978). A wonderful collaboration (flute & guitar). Fogelberg died in December of prostate cancer at the age of 56.

Zeffirelli Romeo Juliet.jpg

Soundtrack to Zeffirelli's "Romeo & Juliet". I loved this movie and the score - it really made Shakespeare accessible. And Olivia Hussey was a great Juliet.

Missa Papae Marcelli.jpg

Palestrina, "Missa Papae Marcelli" - This was a Deutsche Grammophone Archiv recording - It always felt like an extravagance to buy these, but it was worth it! This sealed my love of sacred choral music.


"The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds" -- 'celestial counterpoint with words and music' The back cover says "must be played in the dark" -- Hey, I went to college in the 60s!

Howdy Doody.jpg

"Howdy Doody and Santa Claus" This is a 78 rpm set from my childhood (1953) - How could I let go of this friend?
Why does all the world look bright
On this very merry night?
All because of Santa Claus,
Hurray for Santa Claus.
From his wrinkley nose
To his twinkley toes
Hurray for Santa Claus!

Where would we be without friends??

Posted by hgroteva at 12:06 PM | Moving | Music - of all kinds

Category "Moving"

May 14, 2008

Drowning in Paper

Stacks of paper.jpg

For the past few weeks, I've been doing my level best to divest myself of some of the mountains of paper I have gathered around myself. When the moving company estimated that I might have as much as 6000-7000 lbs. of books and files at my office alone, that did it! I have been recycling, tossing, and shredding as fast as I can. It's really hard. Each piece of paper evokes memories -- overwhelmingly good ones -- of projects, classes, collaborations, papers, and the stuff of the academic life. But some things I brought with me from Texas 18 years ago haven't been opened since then, so they were definitely candidates for chucking. (Although today I found a letter from my dissertation advisor, written (in hand) while she was on sabbatical in California. - It did go to the shredder, but I enjoyed re-reading it.)

I am within 2 or 3 boxes of completing the packing of my office and lab. When I moved here, I brought 101 boxes of books, journals, and files from my old office to the new office. My goal is to take fewer than 101 away from here. That would mean 18 years of work and no net increase in "stuff." (Fortunately, much of it is electronic and can fit on a few CDs. Is that cheating??) With a little luck, I'll come in under 101.

Man & paper.jpg

Information retrieval continues to be one of the biggest challenges of the academic life. So many books, journals, files, CD-ROMs, reprints, e-mails, etc. Figuring out the ideal organizational system has eluded pretty much every academic I know. Although I was inspired to read an interview with one of the Google guys about the problem of information. Interestingly, his solution was to avoid systematizing stuff at all on the front end. He suggested instead to put the focus on powerful retrieval engines that can scan through stuff and pull up what you want. I will be trying that in my new life. Nothing like a new job to provide an opportunity for cleaning house and a fresh start. The moving van comes in a week.

Posted by hgroteva at 9:22 PM | Moving

Category "Minnesota"

Category "Moving"

May 17, 2008

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Mr. Rogers' song comes to mind as I contemplate this Saturday. There's a light northerly breeze, temp in the high 60s / low 70s, birds are singing, I've cleaned the house for the prospective buyers coming at 12:15, and I solved the 6 star Sudoku (Saturday's is always the hardest). The next 24 hours is the calm before the storm. There is an open house tomorrow afternoon, so everything has to stay pristine until it's over at 3:30 -- but then the house-packing begins in earnest. I'm ready.

As I was sorting through more papers yesterday, I kept thinking about WHY these things should matter. Aren't we the sum total of our experiences; and after we go, isn't our totality at the time of encounter what we pass on to those whose lives we've touched? If so, why should letters from 20, 30, 40 years ago matter? Haven't they already been incorporated into who I am? The ones that have made the most impact or been the most symbolically important are surely reflected in who I am today. The ones that are tangential have not been internalized, so why should I feel that they are important now anyway? Is my narrative about all these pieces of paper? I don't think so. My narrative is just me, as I am transformed from day to day. And I'm not the sum total of my experiences, because I am transformed as each new experience is incorporated (or not) into my evolving narrative. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts.

I googled "the sum of our experiences" and got almost 13 million hits. I think this reflects the universality of the human experience. The blogosphere has made it possible for people to read the perspectives of others they will never meet -- perhaps folks on the other side of the world, or writing in another language -- and see their own concerns and insights reflected in those of others. That has surely been true for me. It's exciting and humbling all at once.

And happy 23rd birthday to Mark today. I'm sad to be leaving him; but he's found a direction, and that is so exciting to see.

Posted by hgroteva at 10:30 AM | Minnesota | Moving

Category "Moving"

May 25, 2008

Heading East: Falcon Heights, MN to South Bend, Indiana

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We made it to South Bend, Indiana today - about 550 miles -- home of Notre Dame University. Lots of trucks on the road today, even though it is the middle of Memorial Day weekend. And the gas prices are ridiculous ... $4.19 per gallon near Chicago. Speaking of which, the traffic in Chicago is insane -- even on the outer 290 / 294 loop on a weekend afternoon. I would hate to see it on a Monday morning.

It was very strange to leave the house, and quite remarkable that everything came off on schedule, given the many many things that could have gone wrong. The only near-meltdown was when the movers declared that they could not get several pieces of furniture down the stairs: first, the bed frame, and then 2 pieces of my office furniture, and then my office desk. But what goes up must come down, so they finally figured it out by disassembling things and taking off the door.

The driver starts heading out tomorrow. Stuff belonging to three families is on the truck: one load to Maryland, mine to Amherst, and another in between. He will let me know tomorrow whether we will be the first or the last off-loaded. Tomorrow night we plan to spend in Utica, New York, place of my birth. I haven't been there in ages. We won't have time to look people up, but I'd really like to see the house I lived in on Washington Drive in "Bon Air Estates" (I guess because it's on a breezy hill!) and my grandparents' house on Lynch Ave. Lots of very happy memories from that place.

Posted by hgroteva at 9:15 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

May 26, 2008

Day Two: South Bend, IN to Utica NY

View Larger Map

We made it from South Bend to Utica -- 12 hours; 638 miles; all freeway, complete with horrible fast food and lots of tolls. But the weather was good, and we arrived safely. The only casualty so far has been Mark's iPod.

We listened to NPR for most of the trip. Since it was Memorial Day, there were many programs about the military. Two were quite poignant. The first was an interview on the Diane Rehm Show, in which she interviewed a RAND Corporation research analyst, the director of behavioral health for the U.S. Army, and the executive director and founder of "Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America" about the alarming incidence of PTSD among active duty military personnel and veterans. I was rather surprised and very pleased to hear very little disagreement among these three people. They all acknowledged the problem and its degree, and they all noted that significantly greater resources needed to be directed toward military personnel and their families. Let's hope that these unlikely bedfellows can accomplish something significant on behalf of these families. You can hear the show by going here.

The second was on "Fresh Air," in which Terry Gross interviewed Marine Lt. Col. Steve Beck and journalist Jim Sheeler about their book, Final Salute. Beck's job is "casualty assistance" -- in other words, he informs families when one of their loved ones dies in service and then sticks with them physically and emotionally as they navigate the inevitable shock and grief. It was a powerful interview; hear it here.

The trip from Buffalo to Utica brought back many childhood memories. Many of my mother's relatives lived in Buffalo (including her mother for a time), so we shuttled back and forth on the NY State Thruway many, many times. The plan for tomorrow begins with a pilgrimage to my childhood home and my grandparent's home in Utica. I remember the addresses, and the town is pretty small, so is to take a round-about route to Amherst, since the moving van isn't there yet. We will be heading into the Adirondack Mountains, going through Old Forge (where we vacationed in the summers when I was a kid), and northward, crossing into Vermont via ferry at Burlington, and then stopping at Ben and Jerry's factory. Yum! Then on to Amherst. The past weeks have been so intense. It's fun to take a few days in the midst of it all and shift the schedule a bit.

Posted by hgroteva at 9:07 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

Category "Travel"

May 27, 2008

Day 3: Utica NY to Burlington VT via the Adirondack Mountains

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The moving van won't be arriving until Thursday morning at 7:00, so we had an extra day! We spent the morning looking for and finding landmarks from my childhood in Utica. Found the house where I lived from a few months of age until the end of 3rd grade, both my grandparents' houses, the church we attended, and other more-or-less familiar landmarks. I'll post some pictures later - the internet connection at this hotel is very slow.

After tooling around Utica, we headed for the Adirondack Mountains, where we vacationed every summer while I was a young child. We found Kayuta Lake, where my father's parents had a lake house, and then Old Forge, the funky town where we stayed at "Birch Camp." The lake and the Enchanted Forest are still there, but Birch Camp seems to have vanished. We headed further north, and had lunch at Lake Placid. The Adirondacks are really beautiful, and nothing was crowded yet because school is still in session. I'm sure it really hums in July and August. I'd be happy to go back there.

The CR-V is getting over 27 mpg, which is great, given the cost of gas.

Tomorrow we head to Amherst, via Ben and Jerry's. Then the work begins anew.

Posted by hgroteva at 6:32 PM | Moving | Travel

Category "Moving"

Category "Travel"

May 28, 2008

Day Four: Burlington to Amherst

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We made it to our destination today - 1650 miles. Today's adventure was Ben and Jerry's.

Ben + Jerry.gif

The sky was brilliantly blue, and the trees were amazingly green. Northern Vermont is spectacular. My friend Sally spent every summer in Vermont - I can see why. Anyway, we joined the tour and got to see how they make the ice cream. I asked the guide which flavors were gluten free and what precautions they took to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. They seem to be careful about it. They only make 2 flavors a week - one on M-W and the other on Th-F. Between W and Th they completely wash down all the production lines. They also seem quite concerned about peanut cross-contamination. Anyway, New York Super Fudge Chunk was on the GF list, so I happily partook - but I don't think I'd do a large cup again ... too much.

After we checked in, we stopped by the house. I think it will be just what we need. It's got some quirks, but what house doesn't? It has a beautiful patio in the back; I suspect I'll be spending a lot of time there. And the study upstairs has great windows and lots of bookcases. The moving van arrives at 7:30 tomorrow morning, so it will be a very big day. My sister is bopping over from Pepperell to help out; it will be great to be closer to her family.

Posted by hgroteva at 8:09 PM | Moving | Travel

Category "Moving"

May 30, 2008

Safely Landed

Just a note to let everyone know I have landed safely -- the moving van arrived yesterday with all my stuff, and delivered the boxes to home and various offices at Tobin Hall. At this point, all seems to be accounted for and in working order. The "settling in" phase looks pretty daunting, but not as daunting as the prior phases. This can be done one box at a time. My sister came over yesterday and helped unpack. Mark has been very helpful, and flies back to MN today so that he can start classes Monday. I'll likely be offline a few days until my internet connections are up and running. Thanks to everyone for the energy you have been sending my way ... I felt it, and it helped! And so the new adventure begins...

Posted by hgroteva at 7:02 AM | Moving

Category "Moving"

June 5, 2008


I've had to make a list of all my numbers: employee ID number, number on my ID card (different from the employee ID), phone number, voice mail password, long distance code, speed number (not sure what that is!), mail code, xerox code, office number, parking lot number ... and those just pertain to my work life!

There are so many things we take for granted every day -- things that you don't even think about until you don't know them: What floor is the coke machine on? How much does a Coke cost? Which end of the building are the restrooms on? Who do I ask about < fill in the blank >? and so on...

Yesterday's challenge was getting cable hooked up at the house. The technician was spectacularly unhelpful. Even after I asked questions, he gave the shortest possible answers and then left. (He emphasized that he gets paid by the job.) I'm also trying to figure out how the ceiling fans work and where all the light switches are. I made the mistake of trying to find the hallway in the dark and ended up going into a closet and bonking my head -- the stuff of a comedy movie.

All that said, however, the transition is going well. People are being very helpful. Special thanks to the folks at the Select Comfort store who gave me a "loaner" pump for the bed, since I couldn't find the box that the remote -- necessary for inflating the bed -- was hiding in. Did you know that a remote for the bed costs $150? I didn't!

The town (pronounced ammerst -- not am - herst) is an interesting mix of small town laid back (the copy shop on Pleasant St. is DIY, honor system) and East Coast (see cable guy, above.) The street names are great' I'm particularly fond of the intersection of Pleasant and Amity. But street signs only have the names of intersecting streets, not the street you are on. So if you don't know what street you are on, you can be in a bad fix. I know that you get to my street by going out East Pleasant (from the map), but I have yet to find a street sign that says East Pleasant.

It's all a big adventure! Stay tuned for further installments. In the meantime, which box is my radio in???

Posted by hgroteva at 12:27 PM | Moving

Category "Moving"

June 8, 2008

Settling In

Slowly but surely, I am settling in. I finally found a street sign that says "East Pleasant" -- up at the far north end of the road. Somehow that is reassuring. My home internet is now up and running, which is also a relief. I unpacked a lot more boxes this weekend and have re-boxed some things that can be stored for the year. I'm trying to figure out the circuitry in the house. When the air conditioner compressor turned on last night, it knocked the cable TV out. Well, I guess you can't have it all. The adventure continues -- trying to figure out the NPR stations, cable TV options, which of the alternate weeks is recycling of plastic vs. paper -- all those details.

Now that I'm settled and somewhat refreshed, I look forward to writing this week. Several writing commitments due fairly soon...

Posted by hgroteva at 8:51 PM | Moving

Category "Life"

Category "Minnesota"

Category "Moving"

August 28, 2008



Just before 6:00 pm this evening, we received the call we had been waiting for ... Our realtor in Minnesota called to say that all the papers had been signed and the sale of our house was now complete. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.


The house was on the market almost 5 months, we had to lower the price three times - almost 20%, and we had to throw in almost-brand-new refrigerator, washer, and dryer. I feel that the price we were paid was insulting to the house and its condition. But I am realistic enough to know that the value of the house is a function of what someone will pay for it. I wish its new owner well. He got a bargain. (Unfortunately, since housing prices here have not slumped very much, we will not likely benefit from the nationwide housing depression.)


Although the feeling is only a few hours old, I finally feel the psychological freedom to allow myself to live fully in my new surroundings, without being encumbered by significant obligations 1200 miles away. The house was good to us. We were able to tweak it and shape it in some significant ways, and it worked for us quite well. My sincerest thanks to our realtors, who went above and beyond what was required, especially in the last weeks as the new owner was seeking FHA funding that required that additional repairs be made ... and to our handiest man, who made the repairs - and even camped out on the front porch, paint brush in hand, waiting for the inspector to return for the third time. (We recently learned that inspectors get an additional $100 each time they re-inspect a home. Doesn't take a genius to see why so many houses don't pass muster the first time.)

We had dinner with new friends tonight, and enjoyed champagne toasts to the sale of our house and to the beginnings of our new lives here. The chapter has been turned.

Posted by hgroteva at 11:04 PM | Life | Minnesota | Moving

Category "Cats"

Category "Massachusetts"

Category "Moving"

May 7, 2009

Quite the Week

We moved into our new house last Friday - a week ago. Although it went as smoothly as it could have gone, it has been exhausting. The movers came at 7:30 Friday morning and had everything out of the house by about 1:00; then they took a brief lunch break and started unloading at the new place. The unloading was finished around 7:30 pm. The following day we brought the cleaning crew into the old place, and it is now clean and empty with the exception of about 200 boxes, which I have advertised for free on Craigslist (come get 'em on Saturday). At the new house, we've dealt with the garbage service, propane delivery, recycling barrel delivery people, lawn folks, mail folks, builder, cable people, and others I'm forgetting at the moment.

One of the more painful glitches was that the washer and dryer didn't fit through the door to the laundry room, even with the door taken off. So the builder had to come and remove the trim, install the machines, and then put the trim back on. But it's in place now.

The cats (individually) have adapted well to the new house, but the MN and NM tribes are still not integrating. Sadly, we have decided to find a new home for Sadie. As much as I love Sadie, she has poor Dylan cowed into slinking around and hiding above cupboards that are 10 feet tall where she can't be seen from below. We need more peace in the kingdom. The cats have enjoyed venturing outside a bit (yes, even Pookie) - but our neighbor warned us not to let them out after dark. She mentioned sightings of deer, moose, coyotes, and bear. So we round 'em up at night.

Despite all this grousing, once the dust settles, I know I'm going to love it here. The view westward is magical and changes by the minute all day. I've been taking a series of pictures from the same vantage point and will post them as soon as I can get to it (after all those papers are graded).

Thanks to all who have sent good wishes for the move. They have been much appreciated! I told my colleagues that I hope they like me, because I'm not moving again!

Posted by hgroteva at 9:26 PM | Cats | Massachusetts | Moving