06 February 2015

Define Everything

I nearly burned-down our Texas home this morning. I'm still shaking.
Our day began with temperatures in the low 30s, so it was definitely a fireplace morning. As the fire dwindled into only a few embers, I thought it would be a good idea to just burn most of our got-to-go paperwork. Reuse, reduce, recycle. This was my reduce plan, and it led to removing photos from frames in order to burn the wooden frames. Thrifty me . . . every frame burned meant a dollar saved on firewood. One problem: sometimes I can't tell real wood from a man-made product . . . a product that burns very hot giving off possibly toxic fumes, and really black smoke. Perhaps my thriftiness was misplaced.

Our backyard was enveloped in smoke. It was that bad. Someone actually knocked on the door to be sure that I was safe. Then the den began to fill with black (really black) smoke. The scene was like a horror movie. Smoke rises, so our recently-painted white ceilings were at risk. I believe this is the point where I got shaky . . . thinking of paying to repaint our just-had-it-painted home. Jill-the-Pill was completely undone, though in hindsight I could never rely on this dog to wake me in the event of a fire. She was indeed puzzled, but failed to run to her mother to sound any alarm. I guess I'll eliminate unneeded possessions the old fashioned way . . . everything out in the trash tomorrow morning.

How is it done?! How can one eliminate everything?

So there's this episode of House Hunters International where the young, single mother from Hawaii sells "everything" she owns and moves to Costa Rica with her young daughter. Define everything. I recall that she needed a furnished condo as she'd sold all of her furniture. Well, we're not taking any furniture (maybe one lamp . . . maybe), because our new home is furnished. And now there are far fewer picture frames to consider. Yet I'm still completely boggled by what is going. I am not a hoarder, but the volume of our possessions is overwhelming. So define everything.

Did Ms Leaving-Hawaii take her laptop? Of course she did! What about a printer, and a bit of paper for a convenient quick start without needing a trip to the office supply store. What about her IRS files? For the past three (3) years! I'll concede that she may have bailed on pots, pans, dishes . . . but either she doesn't cook or has lived to regret leaving her kitchenware . . . or she's spent a fortune trying to replace it with something comparable to U.S. quality (French and German quality, in our case). Did she impose on family to keep boxes stored? The reality is: a responsible adult simply cannot pack a suitcase and move outside the U.S. with merely a swimsuit and a toothbrush (which is not to impugn the responsibility of Ms Hawaii-to-Costa-Rica). We're leaving all ties to the U.S. . . forever. No one will store our tax files. No one will keep our winter clothing. Hey, what about that child's toys?!

Perhaps it was my experience and the age at which I moved to Africa. Perhaps it dates back to Rusty's college year in France. We don't over-pack . . . but we both recognize the items that are genuinely must-haves and those meeting the criteria of we'll never regret packing this! As we prepare to donate/sell items we'd like to keep but must acknowledge cannot go due to space constrains, it's still not a small quantity of items going to Samara. I'm estimating five (5) pallets; and at a minimum of $650 per pallet via container ship (not including ground transport), we're already at $3250. And extras . . . and there are always extras, not the least of which is getting everything to and from a boat.

At the time when we both lived abroad we always had a U.S. home to leave items such as tax records, birth certificates, family photographs (which were kept in bulky albums way back then), and on and on. Think about it. You, too, have this stuff. It comes under the definition of everything. So this morning, as I truly believed our home to be at risk of burning to the ground, I had to think about what I'd grab and run. Well those copper pots would have been saved if I'd had to toss them out of the kitchen windows. I can grab laptops pretty quickly. Passports are kept in a fire-safe box.

Thank Goodness for Mr. Clean Magic Erasers because our fireplace bricks are black from the hearth up to the mantle. A tar-like soot is on everything; I can even see it on my laptop screen.

 Beautiful springtime weather is forecast for Saturday and Sunday . . . perfect to ready the yard for home buyers. Sadly, gone are my weekend plans to dig in the yard and to continue organizing and packing. My weekend will be spent cleaning up the sooty mess in the den. So in addition to some Windex and Mr. Clean, what do you think? Caffeine, or vodka? Or both? Lo que hay.