Author Archives: Donna Copson

The Long Good-bye

When we moved to the Finger Lakes nearly nine years ago we were taken by the beauty of the area. It has never disappointed. As a dear friend here and I have agreed, we will never take the views and the countryside for granted. We haven’t.

Now, as we begin the process of leaving, I am even more acutely aware of our surroundings.  We saw the super moon the other night, and it was super.  But, as it starts to wane, Ray and I are still enthralled by the daily pageant of the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets. Early this evening, we stood on the front porch and admired Venus in the western sky. A short while later, we stood on the deck and waited for the moon to rise in the east. Again, it did not disappoint. While slightly reduced in size from the full super moon, it rose red-orange and beautifully clear. The  stars were clearly visible, and when I wake in the middle of the night I can expect to see the Pleiades.

These are spectacles that we can not expect to see back in the great conurbation of Boston to Washington and beyond. Sure, we’ll see Venus, Ray tells me. It is just that bright. The light that has crept into the Western hemisphere, on the other hand, has obliterated so much of our  connection with the natural world. Hence, I shall never take for granted the experience that has been ours here.

Kind readers: when I first posted this entry, it was titled “Separating.”  I woke this morning to desperate messages from both daughters, saying they were stunned to hear that Ray and I were separating. One issued a mild expletive; the other said her heart skipped a beat.  Thought it best to change the title.

Things are moving fast!

When we last wrote about our own transition, we were in the early stages: closing on the condo that we were selling (done) and looking for a possible next home (not as easy as one might think.) We were guided in the hunt for the next place by a long  trusted realtor who has also become a friend. Little did we expect that the pace would accelerate to warp speed.

We expected that we would rest after selling the condo and mosey through the next home buying process. We would continue to live here in our beloved Finger Lakes and keep an eye out for a place that met all the attributes that we have promoted on this site. Well, that’s not how it has happened.

Evelyn, our realtor and friend, started – at our request – giving us a sense of the market and what properties could meet our wish list. We were assessing what we might find in good time.  When we were down to see the family, we would go to open houses and Evelyn would show a possible property. We stuck our necks out on one that was certainly a compromise but during the home inspection turned out to have standing water in the basement! Thanks to Evelyn and daughter Marjorie for being on the scene. No deal.

Whew! We were back to moseying. What a relief. But…, only for a week or so. Daughter Marjorie was riding home one evening and saw a realtor’s sign “Coming soon.”  It was almost perfect. Not as close to the shopping and restaurants that we had entertained with other places, but in great shape. And the greatest bonus: we would be a ten minute walk from Marjorie and family and would be in our old neighborhood.

We bit. And we got it. Now we have to work out all the technicalities and legalities of getting from one place to another, one state to another. Think financing, selling the current home, getting insurance, transferring voter registration, registering cars. You get the picture if you have ever done an interstate move. Let’s not talk mail and magazine subscriptions. We’ll save that for another day.

We’ll close the deal the end of this month. We’ll start moving things into the next home. The condo contents will be delivered. Items not needed here will be transported. We’ll be back and forth for a period.

Stay tuned.






The Times They are A-changing

Dear Readers,

We are back from a week in Virginia and an even longer absence from this site. We have, however, not been idle. Much happens in these voids.  I want to share with you the most recent happening and decision.

As you have probably sensed from our earlier posts, we believe that decisions should be made throughout our lifetimes, but most especially at times of significant change or in anticipation of same. We have written about some of them, including becoming aware of when we are no longer able to maintain a large house and grounds; when we are not able to assure our personal safety; when we are not able to account for and control our personal affairs; when we become an inconvenience to our family members who love us and want to be present for us; and, when life gives us another reason to review our situation.

Ray and I love every minute of our lives in our truly privileged place. I and a dear friend have for years shared our thrill that we wake up every morning to the most incredible views and will never take them for granted. Whenever I return from places far or near, this feeling is reinforced. I love where we are. It is a place to be cherished forever.

In recent visits to family we have come to recognize that our older grandchild will be off to college next year and the younger is so engaged in activities that it will be difficult for them to visit us here. Add to that the fact that their parents have full-time jobs and other commitments that can take them away for periods of time. Younger daughter and son-in-law are no longer in the immediate area of our condo, so we have to travel farther to be with them. Our condo is not adequate to host the entire clan.

Our grandchildren were born in Washington, DC (which is where our second daughter was born, by the way) and we lived in suburban Virginia for 30 years. Despite a brief hiatus to Africa, the older child was in daily reach of us and the younger one was until we abandoned them both at ages 9 and 7. (That’s a story for another day.) It was a mile  down the road. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Well, the short story is that we want to experience as much time as possible with these children and their children.  We are now six and a half to seven hours away from the first two. From here, we are eight to ten hours from the younger ones. We are certain that we need to be closer.

So, (the word usage that the grammar/language mavens voted to remove from the language this past year) we are selling our small apartment in Virginia and will be looking for a larger place that can accommodate all the family. We want to be able to gather in the family again, as we did for twenty plus years, and to be close enough to enjoy and visit them all, as we did for so many years past.

The condo is on the market; we have a contract; and, we are working toward finalizing it. Next step will be to find that next gathering place. We live in anticipation.






Ready to open

Ready to open

We are reporting the results of the yard sale, which finished on Saturday. We’re a little late, but that’s because we’re still recovering from being on-duty and in the sun for two days during the sale itself, and a bit worn out from the time and work invested in getting to that point. A lot of lessons learned, but also many points of pleasure.

Some observations: we were able to make a good number of folks happy when they bought things that we no longer need. We were able to let go of dishes, tools, linens, things for the garden, and even some plain old iron stakes that have either lingered in our basement and garage since our move here more than eight years ago, or were bought and no longer needed. We are relieved, and would recommend that others contemplate doing the same. But we still have items that we’re prepared to pass on, but were not snapped up. Furniture seems like a particular drag on the market.

No one wanted Pop's old cradle, circa 1904

No one wanted Pop’s old cradle, circa 1870’s.

Maybe other folks are as full up as we are. What next? Well, some will go on Craig’s List or possibly be donated.

In the case of a few items that we steeled ourselves to let go,  we’ll be asking ourselves if we really meant it. That English rya rug from the 1970s is really pretty attractive even now. Maybe that small easy chair can be re-upholstered and used in our next place.

At the last minute, Ray pulled Bunrab and Mr. Sneggles, his creations, out of the sale

At the last minute, Ray pulled Bunrab and Mr. Sneggles, his creations, out of the sale

Money is not a factor in a yard sale. It is a question of deciding what matters and what is needed and what we should let go of. Seeing others appreciate the things that we have harbored for untold years makes us happy. We were delighted to have them claimed.

Apart from the sentiments that accompanied putting our “stuff” out there for all the world to see, we were delighted by the opportunity to engage with the folks who stopped by. So many stories, so many connections. Neighbors dropped by to share with us their time on the Bluff, their recollections of our house being built, and how much history we all share. We hadn’t realized that a yard sale can be such a pleasant social occasion.

This last observation is a true departure from previous yard sales that we and our family members held in years past in Virginia. Collectively, back in those days, we all finally agreed that the effort was not worth it, but not because of the financial results. Mostly, it had to do with prospective customers offering insulting prices and being brusque and feeling somehow entitled to take away our dish, toy, tool, whatever at the price of twenty-five cents.

We’ll keep you advised of how we deal with the remaining stuff.







Being Here

It has been eight years plus since we moved to the Finger Lakes area. Friends could not fathom how we would move from the Washington DC area to what various ones described as frigid, remote, isolated, even desolate.

Well, it has been anything but that, except for the distance from our children and grandchildren. Still, that distance has not been insurmountable, and we have had the luxury of going to see them when we wish. Friends here travel even greater distances and many directions compared to ours to see loved ones and old acquaintances. I find it interesting to reflect on our cultural concept of where we should be/retire.

Demographers tell us that we are an increasingly urbanized society. Adding to this, environmentalists tell us that this is for the good: the higher the concentration of population, the lower the carbon footprint from automobiles will be. I don’t take issue with these observations. Still, some members of our society have to produce the foods that the rest of us consume. I am privileged to live in a place where those foods are produced in abundance and at great personal and financial peril to those who engage in agriculture. The current drought has tested our farmers and vineyardists to a degree not seen in many years.

I am  so grateful to all of them. I hope that the year works out well. Despite the ravages of low rainfall, everyone I meet from the agricultural community maintains an optimistic -notably not fatalistic – outlook. And, recent rains have given us all hope for a better ending to the season. Remarkably, the corn that we have eaten these last few weeks from a favorite Mennonite farm has been sweet and tender. There were optimum times in past places and eras when I couldn’t say that for the local produce. As I said, I am grateful. And I won’t go into the other vegetables. All is well.

Hope you are enjoying the local fruits of your home town.


Getting There

IMG_1965It’s D-Day minus two. Our signs have been appearing on the Bluff, and the ad is in the local paper plus Craig’s List and our local Yates County online yard sale site. There is a lot of competition, if we should care to term it that, but I think that there is a synergism in having a lot of offerings for folks. The weather bodes rather well, so we take heart.

We have culled, once again, the stuff. Who knew how much we have harbored these past eight years? And that does not take into account the stuff that we have accumulated just being here. It takes so little to get to this point and a lot of discipline to rid of ourselves of the stuff. Too many memories; too many plans.

What have we discovered that we can live without and are ready to part with? Well, there’s the family furniture which no one has claimed, as we have mentioned before. Then there are the duplicates. We really do not need two crock pots even if they are of different sizes. One used to go Ray’s office holiday party and the other was acquired in a misbegotten belief that we would join the ranks of the slow cookers. We did not need to become slow cookers; we are retired and can decide what to cook and eat whenever. Anyways, how much time do we have left that we should consider slow-cooking? Heck, we don’t need even one crockpot.

Apart from the decision involved in deciding to have a yard sale, there is the physical energy and time needed to pull the stuff out and haul it to a point where it can be “showcased.” Best that we do it now as we are not likely to get great new infusions of strength and endurance.  So we are feeling good about this latest enterprise.

As I have said,  we’ll keep you informed.


Getting Serious

We have talked a good game for some time  now regarding our stuff. The books, some of them, have gone off to the library. Our clothes closets have been stripped and the excess donated to the local Once Again Shoppe.  Our files and who knows what paper have been taken to the shredder. And, we sent a good amount of our travel treasures and some household items to our church’s recent treasures and yard sale, where the total receipts amounted to a little more than $1800 for the missions of the church (certainly not all of that realized from our “stuff.”)

We have shown you in previous posts the state of our basement. (I will not direct you to that picture; you’ll have to find it for yourself. It’s too embarrassing.) With few excuses remaining, we have taken on more of our stuff. We are having a yard sale this coming Friday and Saturday.

When we were last with our daughters, we put out the ultimate ultimatum asking what they might want. A lot of silence, despite our having thought that we should keep some of the family antiques, just in case. So we have moved ahead.

How to separate the gold from the dross?  Well, one thing that we have learned since selling the previous house more than eight years ago is that all of the stuff that our/your parents visited upon us/you as priceless and historic is, for the most part, just not so.  This was confirmed by a visit to two local auction houses. We know we don’t have that half million dollar table, desk, bureau or chest that will be discovered on Antiques Roadshow.

We go live this Friday. By whatever we can reduce our cache of stuff, I will consider it progress. We’ll  keep you informed.