June 14th was the day we got the green light for our year abroad from Jeff’s company…and as I finally sit down to chronicle our adventures thus far, it seems like a million years ago. I’m looking at the pictures on my phone from that time and truly, it seems like last year, not 2 months ago.
Because we have crammed SO MUCH IN. Even for this project-oriented crew, it was A LOT.
So before I forget the Hurculean amount work it took–and as a reminder should we ever get another crazy idea like this again–here is what we accomplished in 6 weeks!
- Hired a property management company (house rented in 1 week once listed!)
- Replaced the rotten garage door with a new door and built new French drain to prevent future rotting
- Prepared the yard for successful rental:
- Weeded the lawns (full of weeds since we never sprayed)
- Ripped out dead shrubs in front yard (thank you for your help, Beth!)
- Weeded all flower beds and replanted fresh flowers and shrubs, front, side and back yards
- Mulched all garden beds
- Massively cut back the roses and Mr. Treebody
- Had the entire irrigation system repaired and all heads replaced
- Laid new gravel pathway along back stairs
- Had brick pavers installed around new lawn boundary
- Built stepping stone paths in various mud-prone places
- Made about 50 trips to Goodwill
- Rented a dumpster; FILLED IT
- Rented a POD; FILLED IT
- Found a home for the year for our beloved Waffles (thank you Chris, Melissa, Eva & Murphy!) and figured how how to fly her (thank you Mom and Aunt Laura!)
- Found a good home for our hens, Stripey & F.F. (thank you Rebecca F.!)
- Cleaned out out the garage
- Mitigated the Bat Belfry (we love our bats!)
- Sold Jeff’s Subaru
- Got the upstairs master bathtub refinished and caulk surrounds replaced
- Said goodbye, for now, to friends
- Replanted or found homes for indoor plants (thank you neighbor Jessie!)
- Cleaned up all the interior walls and trim, repainting in several spots
- Cleaned out the basement which still had construction debris and dust everywhere
- Cleaned all blinds, window sills, light fixtures and fan blades
- Washed major windows and screens
- Ate as many blueberries as possible
- Made several small repairs throughout house, like the doorbells, thermostat, etc
- Got D an iPhone (so he can reach me from school!)
- Made a reconnaissance trip to Düsseldorf, where we enrolled D in school and rented an apartment
- Packed for the year: 7 checked bags and 6 carry-ons!
Not to mention all the planning, organization, and list-making. All the while still “working” and dealing with normal life, and wrapping up the school year at Gardner (which did not resemble ‘normal’ in any way–more on that later).
Along with the awesome addition, and now with the yard and other rooms cleaned up, leaving it was bittersweet. Why didn’t we do all that for ourselves?? I can’t wait to pull into that clean garage, and relax in the yard, watching the hummingbirds instead of wondering how to get rid of all the weeds. Really! Lesson learned.
In Germany, a densely populated country with most people living in apartments, each family takes turns caring for the building and yard. No one has mentioned this to us in our new rental. Could it be…a year without yard work? Ah how good my back feels just contemplating not being crouched down pulling English ivy for hours.
All the while, through those tough and truly action-packed six weeks, we discussed and prepared D for this adventure. He was patient and mostly helpful, although each of us had our meltdowns (more to come). I was so impressed with how gung-ho he was about the whole matter: sitting down to do his DuoLingo every day, and practicing his skills as he packed up boxes.
Du bist kein Deutscher, he would say, over and over. You’re no German! True, we are no longer German (our Weiss ancestors certainly were), but we are also not just Americans. We are multi-country dwellers, with one foot in each place (and maybe 1 finger in France, a foot in England, an arm in Scotland, and a toe in Morocco).
Last week, when in a work meeting, I was taking notes, as I do, and I started to write a word in German instead of English. It wasn’t even the correct German word, but my brain was trying to translate the thought. I can see that even after 10 days (only 10??) my brain in getting mixy. It is an odd feeling, both exciting and unnerving, like when you start to read a long book, that you think you may have read in the past, but can’t quite recall the ending. Snippets, half remembered; a phrase arrives from out of the blue.
It has begun!