Tag Archives: Relocation

Moving in the Time of COVID-19

12 Dec

One of these things is not like the other.

Chatsworth Circle

Francis Circle

Fir Ridge Road

Da Vinci Street

Kennedy Court

Via di Villa Emiliani

Via Ruggero Farro

Cascara Court

35th Avenue

Did you guess? 35th Avenue is our new, and rather boring-sounding, address. We have always lived on named streets, some rather colorful. How can you beat “Via di Villa Emiliani?” Yet here we are. You can choose a house but not your street name.

Despite the urban-esque sound, we reach our new digs by traveling through placid farms with the Coast Range looming in the near distance. Vast fields lay only a few meters from our house, no doubt to be filled with housing before another decade passes. We are at the western edge of the Portland Metroplex, up against wine country, barely an hour from the ocean and only 25 minutes from Derek. Yet our street is typical of an American suburb, perhaps one of the most classic suburban street scenes in which we have dwelled since we left Omaha in 1987.

I do love this tree in a park near our home.

Three of the old addresses were in condo-land and two were apartments – ruled by condo boards – in Italy. Now we are embracing a sweet Craftsman-style house on a small lot with a very private back garden that I intend to transform come springtime.

The workmanship is incredible. Reminiscent of a 1940s bungalow but with an open plan and the features desired in 21st Century living. Here is the jaw-dropping coda to this tale: it was built by high school students! Forest Grove H.S. has run the Viking Homes Program since 1975. (Ours is the 2010 home.)

Buying and selling in 2020 are like walking a highwire with people shooting at you. Houses in the Portland area practically sell before they are listed. (See Cambiamo Case. )

COVID-19 only adds another 1000 degrees of complexity. Spending on home-improvements makes the proverbial drunken-sailor (as in “spend like a”) look like Scrooge. Refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, ranges, and ovens are back-ordered for months. We used to waltz into Sears (R.I.P.) or Home Depot, order an appliance, and have it appear in a matter of 72 hours. We are back-ordered until January 13 for a washer/dryer. Six weeks of laundromat stretch before me like an endless wasteland.

Scheduling movers, handymen, or anything else has to be juggled against an out-of-control mortgage and title market. Title companies are overwhelmed as mortgage lenders feed them 4 times the cases they are expected to handle. (One agent told us an escrow officer usually gets 10 cases a day and now they each get 40!) Assessors in Lincoln County are so backed-up that lenders have to hire them from Portland to make the four-hour round-trip. Without going into an agonizing litany of all the delays, I’ll simply say it was a stressful period getting from the fast-sale in Lincoln City to occupancy of the new house in Forest Grove.

It was very unsettling having strangers in our home for packing. One mask-hole from the moving company required constant reminders to stay masked and was reported to the company as not welcome to handle the move-in end of the project. Ric and I had good KN-95 masks to help protect us. Doors and windows were wide open letting the house temp plummet into the mid-50s so fresh air circulated. We moved into a hotel to make the whole experience less stressful and provide us a place of refuge. Since we are now almost 3 weeks past packing day, we are breathing a sigh of relief as all other workers have only been in the house briefly.

The furniture arrived on December 4, preceded by two days of painting (not by us, by professionals) and having some handyman services performed. By the following Monday, we were largely settled and had a tower of recycling ready for the local waste management company. They’ll get another tower in two days as we have finished unpacking (mostly). As of our one-week-in-the-house benchmark, there is art on the walls and I know where almost everything has been stowed. We can find our way to the major services in Forest Grove without the satnav.

Moving is not for wimps. Moving in the Time of COVID is insane.

We are not quite done, but here is a first look.

Several readers have asked how the cats are doing. I am sad to tell you that Frankie & Esther had to go back to the shelter. When we evacuated for the fire, we could not lay our hands on the cats to secure them for evacuation, forcing us to leave them in the house alone for the time we were gone. That was frightening. If we could not evacuate them for their safety, how would we deal with taking them to the veterinarian? They were a year overdue on vaccinations as it was. We consulted with our vet, who advised these were not likely to become socialized cats. She encouraged us to return to sender, which required a tranquilizer, a difficult capture involving a pillowcase, and a 3-hour round trip to Florence. We will adopt again when the right cats are ready for us.

Stuff

2 Oct
1 October 2016. What to do with our stuff? Uncle Sam is not paying for this move, although he graciously shipped what little we declared precious-to-us upon our retirement. We did not want to pay for 18 months of storage for things easily replaced so we only shipped only 1100 pounds back to Portland. (For reference, when we moved to Roma, we shipped 11,000 pounds of household goods.) We have no furniture in storage and few household goods. Stored for our return are artwork, Ric’s collectible trains, some family crystal and other memorabilia, a few books. Not much more. We sold a lot of stuff when we moved from the embassy apartment to our own place on Via Ruggero Fauro.

My guardaroba or wardrobe. Much better than a closet.

My guardaroba or wardrobe. Much better than a closet.

We took a few pieces of furniture to our mostly-furnished retirement rental, but nothing worth shipping across the ocean. As most American homes come with closets, our guardarobe (which we LOVE) are unnecessary.
We had hoped to keep a few more things and ship them back, especially two 8’x10′ carpets we love. However, shipping is a very expensive prospect. After receiving a bid on sending back the rugs, clothes, pots and pans, and this-and-that, we decided it would be far more fun to spend that much cash on buying new than sending old. It was a crazy amount of money.

This is the first pass at clearing out. The JNRC will receive it all.

This is the first pass at clearing out. The JNRC will receive it all.

Our landlady will take some furnishings that add value to the apartment for the next tenants (our European T.V., the guardarobe, a desk, lamps). Other items will go to the Joel Nafuma Refugee Center. They will take all the men’s clothes and shoes we can gather, my old and heavy sewing machine, some kitchen gear. Our Peruvian housekeeper is taking women’s clothes which her family in Peru is anxious to have. (This is a thing. Our doctor told us his mother and sister give their clothes to their foreign-born housekeepers, too.) What these sources won’t take will go to Roman recycling: the street, where the pickers will claim it in about 65 seconds. (See Changing House from May 2015.)
We are shipping things one 10-kilo box at a time through Mailboxes, Etc. The cost will be a fraction of that for shipping what we had hoped to send through the transfer company.
We will ship only clothes we love and that fit. We are not packing I-might-use-these tee-shirts or if-I-lose-five-pounds jeans. Only one pair of heels for me as I have worn heels about four times in the past 18 months. No sheets or towels (easily replaceable and pretty old anyway), no 15-year-old flatware, no toiletries except those we need for the trip home. I think Ric is down to owning three pairs of shoes instead of eight. I have a way to go on that front. Thinking about it, when we travel we pack only two pairs of shoes each, three bottoms, five-or-six tops, a couple of layering pieces, and a jacket, yet we manage for up to four weeks on the road. We don’t really need all that stuff in the wardrobe. The challenge is not getting caught up in replacing all of it. I sure could use some new pajamas, though. I haven’t bought new in about two years. I feel a Nordstrom order coming on….
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: