Sunday, January 5, 2014


Half The House At Twice The Price

We have moved to Williamsburg, VA.

I've moved into a new house twice before. The first time, in 1955, I was 7 years old. Our house in West Caldwell, NJ was newly built as shown in the picture below taken on July 3, 1955. I'm sitting on the curb in front of the house. My baby brother, my Mom, and my Grandmother share the scene.
I lived in this West Caldwell house for 15 years and considered it truly home for years afterward.

Twenty five years later, in 1980, I moved into a house for the second time. I was then married with a baby daughter. It was a thrill to own a home after 10 years living in apartments. Our Lynchburg, VA house was 8 years old in 1980 and looked like this.
Our dog, Sandy, is on the front lawn in the picture above. Notice the size of the tree and bushes. The next picture below shows the house in 2013. Since 1980 the trees and bushes have grown, the dog is dead, and a satellite dish has been installed on the chimney.
We have lived here for 33 years, more than half my life. I've learned the secrets of the house and all its good points and imperfections. I've grown quite comfortable in this dwelling where so many memories reside. It's not just a house. It's a monument to all the years of work invested, all the money spent on upkeep and improvements, and all the sweat expended caring for the lawn and grounds. Roots are fairly deep here. Pulling them out is painful.

I'm leaving the few friends I have. I'm leaving a doctor and dentist I've grown to trust. Left behind are my reliable plumber, the friendly barber who cuts my hair just right, and the excellent, patient optometrist who gives me exact eyeglass prescriptions. I'll miss familiar running and biking routes. I'll miss the relatively low cost of living. I'll miss the Blue Ridge Parkway.

There are things I won't miss about Lynchburg. I won't miss caring for my huge uneven lawn. I won't miss cleaning up fallen branches and fallen leaves from backyard trees. I'm very happy to leave behind the fundamentalist Falwell empire spreading like kudzu further into the Lynchburg community with each passing year. It will be nice to escape the pervasive right wing republican majority in my voting district.

We are "downsizing" to a smaller house. Our new home is half the house at twice the price! As a result, we've had to discard many things, including many treasured items. It really, really hurt to throw some things away. Out went my daughter's school work and prize winning projects. Trophies and medals earned over the years were flung in the trash. Nostalgic items belonging to my Mom and Dad, gone. A tower of paper more than a meter high containing mathematical calculations, research work, course preparations, and unfinished projects, tossed in a garbage can. Fifteen years of variable star data, gone. Favorite posters and pictures, gone. Beloved old furniture, pulverized in a garbage truck. Mementos of wonderful family trips, gone. After a while I got numb. I tried not to think about tossing stuff in the trash, and yet, as I saw it lying in the garbage can, a jolt of sadness shot through me. I looked away quickly, tried not to dwell on it, and threw the next item in the can.

Imagine working more than 30 years hand carving a beautiful wooden clock. Then, there's no room for it, so you throw it in the trash and watch it getting crushed by a garbage truck. Years of careful effort now has the same status as yesterday's banana peels! That's how I felt about discarding my academic work.

On the bright side, Williamsburg is a very nice place to live. We'll be very close to my daughter, son-in-law, and my precious granddaughters. Just look at these little sweethearts:
In Williamsburg we'll have beautiful bike paths, and great running trails just a short walking distance from our front door. I'll never have to run in traffic again! My lawn will be wonderfully small and flat! I'll have a new, much improved observing location for my solar telescope - no more trees and buildings blocking my view of the Sun! I'll also have a custom observing platform in the back yard. Everything is brand new in our newly constructed house. It's well insulated and very energy efficient with a sophisticated heating and cooling system. We'll have access to good public libraries, curbside recycling, and all the pancakes we can eat.

But the best feature of Williamsburg is being close to my daughter and her family. A ten minute drive or 15 minute walk connects our two houses. We'll be able to share meals, babysit, and attend our granddaughters' school performances and sporting events. We can be part of their extended family in a more intimate old fashioned way.

So, off we go into the next stage of life. It's a sunny prospect in our new house.


1 comment:

  1. We are so happy that you're here! And we appreciate the huge change in your lives that you've undertaken to be closer to us. We love you.


People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin
When I say that I'm o.k. well they look at me kind of strange
Surely you're not happy now you no longer play the game

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me
When I tell them that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall
Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round
I really love to watch them roll
No longer riding on the merry-go-round
I just had to let it go

John Lennon