March 10, 2014 at 10:30 am (The Country Mouse)
Tags: Aesop's Fables, Chicago, moving, new feature, The Country Mouse and The City Mouse
Among Aesop’s Fables is a little story about a country mouse who is visited by his cousin, the city mouse. The city mouse is dismayed by how little his country cousin has and invites him to his home in the city, where they can live together in abundance. The two mice go to the city, and the country mouse is astounded at the bounty, but they only just start their feast when a cat crashes the party. The two mice scurry off to safety, and eventually, the cat leaves. They come out and begin their feast again when another visitor (unnamed by Aesop) shows up and the cousins have to run for cover again. The country mouse decides he’d rather have a little in peace than abundance in danger.
I think there must be other stories based on this fable that expand on the adventures of the country mouse. Probably my grandmother read them to me when I was a child, and some of the details stuck with me. Whether those stories exist anywhere outside my imagination is a bit of research for another day. The point is, I’ve identified closely with the country mouse for the last several months.
Moving is hard. It doesn’t matter if you’re moving across the street or around the world. It’s a dirty, sweaty job, even if you’re not the one doing all the heavy lifting. I have quite a bit of experience with moves, having done it five times in the last seven years of Eric’s military career. Our move to Chicago has been unlike any other move we’ve had. Not only was it the first one in twenty years that we’ve done entirely on our own, it’s the first one we’ve made without kids since before we became parents. While not having to factor the kids in made some decisions a little easier, there were times I really wished the kids were around to lug stuff up and down stairs!
Since I know we’re not the only ones to come here chasing a job, I’ve decided to journal some of our experiences here. My hope is that somewhere, there are country mice who have to move to the city, and they’ll find my blog. It will likely be a combination of what I wish I’d known before we moved, and experiences we never thought we’d have. Some of the posts will be in my regular Monday spot, but I may slip in a few extras here and there, so if you haven’t already subscribed to my blog, you might want to consider it. You never know what you’ll find here!
March 3, 2014 at 10:45 am (Homefront)
Tags: dead battery, ice, snow, tow truck
The battery in my van died last week. I was getting ready to go to a yoga class and it wouldn’t start. Of course it was parked in the front spot in the garage, so even jumping the battery was bound to be a challenge.
Saturday, while we were running errands, we bought a new battery and went home to install it. Unfortunately, the battery sits under a bar and the fuse box, and our socket set is downstate.
Plan B: We pushed the van out of the garage, intending to push it with Eric’s car the half block to the mechanic’s shop. Easy peasy, or it would have been if it hadn’t been for the ice and snow in the alley we back onto. We got the van stuck on an ice bump and couldn’t get it back over. The ice cut the traction, so Eric couldn’t even move it with his car. Where the heck is the football team from the high school up the road when you need them?
Plan C: Eric drove around to jump it. Too bad the battery was so dead the starter wouldn’t even click.
Plan D: We called a tow truck, and were told it would be an hour and change before they arrived. It came sooner than expected, and he had a fancy pants battery jumper. Of course, it started right up. *Insert unkind name here* At that point, I came upstairs to get lunch and let Eric deal with getting the battery changed.
There are up-sides. It didn’t die in a rest area, in the snow, somewhere on I-55 when I was driving back and forth moving stuff. It also didn’t wait for Eric to go out of town. Timing-wise, it was pretty perfect, even if it did mean sitting outside in the cold to wait for the tow truck.
February 17, 2014 at 9:53 am (Adventures, Homefront)
Tags: apartment, Chicago, ice floe
It’s been a while since I posted an update on the new digs. Here’s a what the living/dining room looks like now. It’s a hard room to photograph because of the big window. I had to shut the shades and turn on the lights to get this!
We’ve got pictures up, though, so the fireplace doesn’t look naked.
We’ve got some houseplants, too, that I haven’t killed yet, and the top of the stray cupboard proved handy for displaying teapots. Wondering about the stock pot on the counter? It’s because of this:
While it’s not actively leaking this morning, it was yesterday. There’s an ice floe on the roof preventing water from shedding. If it can’t shed, it soaks. This has been a big problem in the region this winter. The management company is supposed to send someone out today, but I’m not sure it will do much good. It’s snowing. Again. They might be about to clear the floe enough to create a channel for water. If I had to 20′ extension cord, I totally would have been up there with my hair dryer yesterday!
The stock pot might just have to stay handy for another month or so. I’m glad I brought it, though!
I’m thinking about adding a serial post called “Welcome To Chicago: The Country Mouse’s Guide To Moving To The City.” If it’s well-received, I might consider making it an e-book down the road. What do you think? Do you want to know what I’ve learned by moving here? Would you recommend it to your Country Mouse Friends?
February 3, 2014 at 9:29 am (Homefront)
Tags: 19 Things You Need To Do To Be Successful, art, success
A friend of mine posted this article yesterday on Facebook. It details the hard things you have to do to be successful. On the surface, it’s good stuff. Logical stuff. I’ve been telling myself some of them for the last year or two, living some of them longer. It’s a great read for perspective and motivation.
Here’s my question. What is success? When my kids were toddlers, success meant getting to work on time. When we were homeschooling, the level of success was based on their IOWA Test scores. These days it’s based on how many boxes I empty, and how much of the contents finds an actual home versus sitting on the dining room table.
I can do every single thing on that list and more, and it won’t guarantee I’ll get a book published. If I do, it won’t guarantee that I’ll get more than one, or that I’ll be able to support my husband in our retirement. That’s been the dream for a lot of years, but if it doesn’t happen, am I a failure? Will I have wasted my life if I die with amazing manuscripts on my hard drive? It’s something to ponder.
So now I’m throwing it out to my artist friends. Will you have been successful if you never publish a book, sell a painting, or create the exact piece of pottery that’s been in your head since you picked up your first lump of clay?
January 28, 2014 at 9:35 am (Adventures, Homefront)
Tags: God's plan, moving, photos
No, of course not. It’s Tuesday. I spent all day yesterday on the road, moving more stuff. I thought I was getting the rest of it, but I underestimated the space I have in my van. Luckily, the kids don’t mind storing stuff for me.
I’m swamped getting settled into our new home. It’s coming pretty well, all things considered, although the place is certainly not photo ready yet! When it is, you’ll find photos here first.
In the meantime, let me leave you with something I heard on the radio yesterday. Don’t worry about God’s plan for your life. Concentrate on God’s plan for today, and go do it with all you have.
I’ll be so relieved when God’s plan for my life doesn’t include boxes.
January 20, 2014 at 8:20 am (Pondering, Writing)
Tags: Machine of the Year, mixed media, modern art, Sigmar Polke, The Computer Moves In
I’m not a fan of modern art, but the St. Louis Art Museum opened a new wing last year and I figured if I was going to see if before we move, I’d best get it in gear. I mostly shook my head while I walked through the new gallery. I mean, a light bar is art? Really? Then I turned a corner and saw this:
It’s called “The Computer Moves In,” and my first thought was, “That’s my life!” It illustrates my writing time so well I almost wept. It’s a mixed media piece by Sigmar Polke. He adapted a 1983 Time magazine cover, which named the computer “Machine of the Year,” rather than its customary “Man of the Year.”* It featured a George Segal sculpture of a man seated in front of a computer. Polke enlarged it, then partially marred it with overlay of medium. He even made the canvas, stitching together different pieces of fabric onto which he applied several layers of stains and metallic spray paint.
Knowing how it was made, to me, reinforces the analogy. I sit down at my desk, and much of the time the work is messy, disorganized, and shapeless. Of course, eventually it coalesces into something that makes sense, but this is a snapshot in a Day Of My Life.
*Why is it always Man of the Year? Why is there never a Woman of the Year? Am I the only one who thinks things like that?
January 13, 2014 at 9:04 am (Adventures, Boundary Pushing, Homefront)
Tags: adventures, fencing, grief, moving, U-Haul
I’ve marked off so many ‘lasts’ lately I can’t keep my pencil sharp! I’ve begun packing the things I put off to the end, and am sorting like a fiend. I wouldn’t be disappointed to fill the van with Good Will donations. It’s been overwhelming, but I was surprised when I began to feel almost hostile for no apparent reason. I chalked it up to being overwhelmed by the move and the amount of work I still have to do this week. I was only partly right.
Yesterday in my fencing class, my teacher and I caught hold of each others swords and were locked up, almost grappling, when he swept my legs. We went down together and he was kind enough to break my fall. Any other day I would have laughed it off and made him show me how to do it, but yesterday it tipped a balance I didn’t realize was there. I did manage to make it to the ladies room before I melted down and as I sat on the flowered couch sobbing into a Kleenex, I realized how much it felt like when our cat died in Italy. That’s when I realized I’ve been grieving for my old life. My children are grown and living their lives. There’s no reason to stay here in the house where we saw them through their teen years. I’m even excited to find out what new adventures await me in Chicago. And I can’t WAIT to actually live with my husband again! Even so, it’s been difficult to leave the familiar, to move without the kids. It’s not rational, but it almost feels like I’m denying my motherhood to not take their needs into consideration when I’m packing.
I have six more days, counting today, before I have to pick up the U-Haul and schlep the rest of our things to our new home. I’m almost finished with the ‘lasts’ and am eager to begin the ‘firsts.’ Prayers and good wishes for our safe travel and that I won’t run out of boxes again would be appreciated.
January 6, 2014 at 9:50 am (Homefront, Weather)
Tags: cold, drifts, snow, snowmageddon, wind
What a way to start the year! I grew up in Michigan, so snow is nothing new for me, but I haven’t seen snow like this since I left home in 1986.
It hasn’t just been the amount of snow we got, although it’s more than I’ve ever seen here. The fact that it’s not covering or covered by ice is highly unusual. What thrilled me were the drifts and the way the wind sculpted them.
I’ve never seen contrast like this.
And here’s my boy to provide scale. He’s 6′ tall. You can also see it’s still snowing in this picture. It stopped a couple hours after I took these.
Today it’s sunny, but we won’t get above zero. The roads likely won’t be cleared until tomorrow. I have food, cat supplies, and coffee, so I’m set. Since I have plenty to do around the house to keep me busy, the snow is likely a huge blessing! Stay warm where you are.