Saturday, October 29, 2011

Retirement Planning — Condo Interrupto

Six months ago I was operating on the assumption that we would be living in a condominium by now. As the calendar rolls over into November, I’ve come to terms with spending yet another winter in our big old house.

There are more consequences to this than the obvious. Yes, dear reader, condo interrupto is presenting challenges that would surprise even the glass-half-empty among you.

Up ‘til now, the weather was atypically warm. As a result, the leaves are still on the towering oak on the front lawn, which lawn is still growing and in need of mowing. Fortunately, I did not sell the mower. The same cannot be said of the hedge clippers, and most of the bushes are badly in need of haircuts. Today I arranged to borrow an electric trimmer from a neighbor. That should tide me over until spring. (Let’s hope St. Joseph comes through with an early sale.)

This week, the weather turned bitterly cold. I guess we’re being punished for the warm September and most-of-October. We put the puffy duvet on our bed a few nights back. Usually we also drape a quilted bedspread over the headboard—a high one made of openwork white metal. The doubled-over spread cushioned against drafts, but it was nowhere to be found.

At first I thought it was one of the many things rolled down to basement storage. Then I remembered that I donated it to the nuns, along with almost-matching curtains that we never used in this house. The stager recommended new bedding, and I figured we’d have no use for the old spread once we downsized. Condo interrupto strikes again. The new spread has to be kept pristine for house showings, so it’s not a headboard option, but I’m sure there’s an old comforter somewhere that will get us through the winter.

The sudden change in the weather also sent me in search of warmer clothes. I remembered packing a lot of my winter things into suitcases, but which ones and where are they? The large one under the bed in the smaller guest room turned out to be full of antique dolls that the stager had banished. After another few false starts, I located my turtlenecks and sweaters in the cedar closet. The hats, scarves and gloves, however, are still on the lam.

Not on the lam, but forced from the house, are several large pieces of furniture shoved into a corner of our garage—an unheated structure with ill-fitting windows. I’m trying to sell two of the items, but they won’t be worth much if they spend the winter out there. Looks like condo interrupto means I’ll need to make room in the basement.

Of course, monthly budgets must now be reconfigured to factor in extra heating expense and snow removal. Good news: I did not sell the shovels at the yard sale. Better news: I’ve decided to replace our old oil burner with a new gas one. There are all sorts of incentives to convert this year, and it will be one less roadblock for a potential buyer.

We may have to put plastic on some of the larger windows in the master bedroom. The stager had us get rid of all the insulated draperies that helped keep the drafts out. Now all we have are sheers. They let in a lot of light and they’re great for showing the house, but not very practical when a nor’easter is howling outside.

Which reminds me: the stager also took down half of the insulated draperies in the sunroom (which is mostly windows.) Same story here with regard to warmth, but at least I folded up those and stored them in the laundry room. They’re probably badly wrinkled, but once they’re re-installed they’ll have all winter to hang out.

Come to think of it, now that I’m retired, I’ll have all winter to hang out, too. I’ll be doing it in a much larger place than I’d planned, but it’s been our home for 19 years. Maybe having one more winter here unexpectedly won’t be so bad after all. Now if I can just remember where the stager made me stow the wine rack…

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