Moving in and moving on

I have not kept up with this blog, and I'm sad that I've been so lax. My whole purpose for starting it was to remind myself of the joyful things in life, big and small, and share them with you when you might need a lift or a smile. I still see those things, but forget to share. Shame on me. Here's what's occupying me right now.

We recently moved, for the first time in 19 years. It was exciting but stressful.

Back in 2010 we had decided it was finally time to move, spent six months looking with no luck, then thought we would try to make it work in our tiny, decrepit place. We were going to make a commitment to making it more livable, partly by taking over the studio on the property and remaking it as my office, and partly by holding our landlord to her word that she would fix the roof, upgrade the electrical, and tent the place for termites. Once we got serious about staying, just three months passed before our landlords decided to sell the property.

We knew that there might be some time between showings and an actual purchase, but we didn't want to wait around and find out. On Friday, we got the news the landlords were selling. Over the weekend, I studied Craigslist and found some houses to look at. On Tuesday, we looked at the first place on the list, and fell in love. Apparently the owners fell in love with us, too, because on Thursday they offered us the place.

We've now been here just over two months, and we feel like we're living in the lap of luxury.

The roof doesn't leak!

We have double-pane windows, so there's not a draft to be found. The house is cool on hot days and comfortable on chilly days.

The place feels like a mansion: We have (count 'em) TWO bedrooms -- one of which is my office-slash-guestroom -- and we have (count 'em) TWO bathrooms. One of them is twice the size of our previous bathroom.

We have a wood burning stove, and a heater WITH A THERMOSTAT (I cannot emphasize enough the luxury of having a thermostat).

We have a garage with additional storage, and a washer and dryer -- hubby spent the last 19 years taking our laundry to the laundromat.

We have a dining room that's separate from the living room. Not only is my office NOT in the dining room, but we actually have a table in there. Where we actually eat.

We have a lovely outdoor space with a deck, fruit trees and plenty of room for gardening, and we have privacy on all sides (my office does share a wall with a duplex-mate, but so far no complaints).

And can I talk about the landlords for just a minute?

To give some perspective, our previous landlord came on the property maybe five times in the 19 years we lived there. Hubby and his dad renovated the bathroom, and she didn't come see it. We had a house fire and she trusted us to handle the follow-up. Her hands-off approach was both a blessing and a curse. She was also always "broke," so could never afford to fix anything. When she agreed to replace our refrigerator years ago, she bought a cheap used one from a friend (we had to pay half), that ended up having cockroaches living in it. We ended up buying our own and bringing it with us to our new place.

New landlords: like night and day.

They come by on a regular basis to take care of gardening in the front of the property. Before our housewarming party, in fact, Kris came by to mow the lawn because she wanted to make sure the place looked nice for our guests.

Before the first rains of the season, Dan came by to make sure all the outside drains were clear. And then after it rained, he came by to make sure they were working and there was no flooding.

One day I discovered them outside filling in cracks in the front walkway. When I mentioned the grout in the kitchen counter needing to be sealed, first Kris told me what product to use and offered to reimburse us. And then she mentioned that they seal all the bathroom grout every two years. Seriously. They seal the grout every two years.

A large, mature palm tree in the front of the property had become dangerous when its fronds caught fire resting on a power line. Within days, Kris and Dan had arranged to have it removed, and today there's nothing but a stump. Sad to see the beautiful tree go, but we've had enough experience with house fire that we were not interested in reliving that drama.

People assume our landlords are retired, but they're not. They work full time and are just a little bit older than us. They lived in this house and raised their children here, so it's a home to them, not just an investment.

I hadn't felt truly comfortable or happy in our previous home for several years. We had stopped inviting friends over; the house was so cramped and in disrepair, and even the deck out back started to seem unsafe to walk on. Our wiring was so old and unsafe that an electrician (while also delivering the bad news that there weren't enough amps for a dryer) suggested we could have an electrical fire in the wall at any moment.

Since we've moved, my attitude has changed. I feel lighter, happier, less stressed (even though our rent doubled). My home is a sanctuary. I want to invite people over all the time. I have real furniture. I feel like a grownup -- but in a good way.

I thought adjusting to the new place would take time after so long on Quinto Street, but the minute our move was finished, I was mentally gone from the old place and here to stay. For how long? Who knows? But it feels like home.