Friday, January 17, 2014

Getting Rid of Stuff

When I think back on listing and selling the other houses we have owned, I remind myself that each situation was unique, and each took a lot longer than I would have wanted.

After living in our first little Milwaukee home for eight years we were out for a Sunday drive, came upon some open house signs, toured a neat house, made an offer, and bought it a few days later. It was a quick closing, and we did a "bridge loan" for the down payment.  We moved, cleaned up the little house, and listed it empty.  It took about six months to sell.

Several years later Craig took a new job in Texas, moved there by himself, and the kids and I stayed in Wisconsin until the house finally sold, about six months later.

When he was offered a job in California, I did not want to repeat the separation, so we again emptied the house, put it on the market, moved to California, and used a bridge loan to buy our next house.

The Texas house took about eight months to sell.

Selling our first California house presented no problems because it was in the path of a new freeway, and the state bought it from us.

So here we are again. Technically, we moved out of the house about five months ago. The furniture and a lot of our personal things stayed, but we've been living in the Alfa either on trips or up the hill in the driveway.

When we returned from our Christmas trip, we knew we would never be moving back into it, and it was time to get rid of everything.  We decided on not having a storage unit a long time ago.

I can honestly say that we have worked very hard every day since our return and are almost finished. It has been a bit emotional and very stressful at times. Although I've been trying to get rid of things for the last three years, there were still lots of little collections to sort through.  
  • The big junk drawer in the kitchen, 
  • The three little junk drawers in the kitchen that I had emptied, but had somehow refilled themselves.  
  • Top dresser drawers.  
  • Closet shelves. 
  • Boxes in the attic. 
  • The closet in my former studio, which once emptied of art materials became a deposit place for many other things.
  • The huge mound of stuff I had gotten rid of by putting it into boxes in one of the five garage spaces on the property. 
  • Craig's tool and workshop garage. 
  • Drawers, drawers, and more drawers! 

Craig had his work cut out for him as well. He had to make final decisions about his tools, and sell his high end audio system.

Considering our location, and the unpredictability of the weather, we rejected going to the flea market or having yard sales or an estate sale.  Craigslist and Ebay are a crapshoot, and not a good way to get rid of all the small stuff, and the worn out furniture.

So we decided to use John, an "estate liquidator", which is a fancy name for John the junk man! He is sort of a wholesaler to antique shops, a flea market vendor, and a cleanup man all in one.  He came, looked things over and listened to our list of the few things we wanted, and gave us a price on the whole lot. 

It was very little, but we had to keep in mind that it was the wholesale price on anything salable, minus the cost to remove it, minus the cost to remove and dump all the unsalable stuff.

 He and a helper have been working for three days.  All that is left are a few collections of things Craig and I have to look thru, some boxes of things we are storing in our daughter's attic: family pictures and tax records. (We're taking two years of tax forms along in the Alfa in case we need them.)

Personally I find this month has been very stressful, very sad, and very exciting, at different times and in different ways.

As he packed up my dishes, flatware, cutting boards, and pots and pans, I felt a bit of panic.  I need those things! No, I don't.  I have all I need in the Alfa and haven't wanted any of it for five months. Seeing my favorite comfy recliner loaded up on a trailer made me want to say: "Stop, I need that to sit in front of the fire on a cold winter 's night." Nonsense! I will be in Arizona, Texas, or Florida by next winter, and the only fire I will be sitting by will be a campfire with new friends.

Seeing the patio furniture being removed from the upper deck reminded me of the many summer dinners we have had up there. Now we will share our BBQs on a picnic table in a National Park.

The barstools in the kitchen are gone, the microwave is gone, the dining room table is gone, our bed is gone.  The rooms are empty.
The house seems so big now that it's empty.

Next week we will be doing some heavy cleaning. 

It is disgusting to see the dust that was behind the heavy furniture. I have a vacuum up in the Alfa that I can use.

But when it's done, the house will be ready and waiting for the next owner. We will be free to leave any time and not come back. Which is exactly what we want to do.

Four weeks at Camp Driveway has been long enough.  Hitch-itch is developing.

Since we do not get very good TV reception here we have decided to drive down to San Diego again so we can enjoy a Super Bowl get together.

After that who knows ...  Jello time!


  1. That's a big step. I can understand why you would have mixed feelings. Have fun in San Diego.

  2. Wow, empty rooms!! Do those pictures ever bring back memories!! :)

    Definitely sounds like it's time for a road trip. Enjoy!!

  3. It was an emotional time for me too when we got rid of all of our stuff, but it was also such a feeling of freedom and liberation. Kick up your heals and hit the road for those fun trips. And until the house sells you have a free place to camp in the driveway.

  4. Now, you can really enjoy your freedom! All those mixed emotions will soon be fond memories of the years you spent there and excitement for the new adventures on the road!

  5. It's one of the final steps into the unknown, but worth it for me. I'm still searching my rig for my grandmother's silver gravy ladle. I can't believe I didn't bring it with me. :)

  6. Wow, this is an emotional post....very well written Merikay.
    I think you were wise to use that service and forego all the hassels of selling stuff yourself.

  7. You have made amazing progress. Enjoy San Diego. I hope the weather is warmer there than it is here in Florida right now!

  8. You're making such great progress toward your dream! After having visited you in your house, I can imagine how it looks with all the rooms empty...that's such a nice, big house! You've both done a lot of work to get to this point, and you've had to make a lot of tough choices and decisions along the way. I admire the progress you've made and know you won't regret your choices. Enjoy the sunshine.

  9. I'm impressed! What a job to accomplish - not just physically but emotionally. You must already feel lighter and freer.

  10. Gosh, I am speechless ..... You have accomplished so much and that narrative was even hard to read .... I can feel the stress and separation as each load left your property..... It is such a tough feat and it reminds me so of when we have to sort through and pass on those things that our loved ones leave behind ..... Never each and oh so many memories !!!! Thanks, Merikay for sharing...
    Hope the Superbowl is super this year and you can both relax and enjoy ....PUT YOUR FEET UP !!!!

  11. I've never heard of an Estate Liquidater. Great idea. Like an Estate Sale, but all at once.

    I can feel your pain right now. Even though I was anxious to get done with my condo, it is kind of weird to see the empty rooms. In 2 1/2 years I haven't missed anything - but if I'm ever in a stix n brix house again, I'm getting another soft recliner. One that swivels and rocks, like my old one. I loved it.

    Can you believe you are at this point? All the work you both did for so long to get it ready for sale, and now it's empty. I hope the next owners will enjoy it as much you did. It looks like a really great house. The market is picking up, and I hope you have a good sale - soon. :)

  12. whwewieeee you accomplished SO much! I hope it goes right away into an accepted offer and you can get into the next stage of your plans!

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard


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