You may recall we went through this exercise just a year ago -- moving from a beloved, expansive apartment to a despised and cramped one. External forces were at play; Mercury was in retrograde; our chakras were in need of extensive cleansing and we were never happy in the new place. Fast-forward one year and we decided rather than renew our lease for an apartment we hated, or go through the ordeal of finding another one, it would be less stressful to make a permanent move to our lake house. Of course, we'd spent the last year furnishing the house since it was going to be a weekend/vacation retreat for the next five or so years, allowing us time to gradually make the transition to full-time lakeside living once we retired and had comfortably disposed of extraneous personal effects. Instead, we now had two bedroom suites, two dining room tables, two couches, etc. The only area in which there wasn't any overlap was the cats -- we didn't maintain a separate brood of kitties at the lake in addition to our five back in the city. However, that now presented its own set of considerations. As much as we love our cats (and we love them very, very... well, we're certainly fond of them), it was always one of the unspoken pleasures of our weekend visits that we weren't responsible for the cat routines: feeding, grooming, litter, shedding, hairballs and other forms of gak-ery. Now our charming retreat would be filled with boxes, heirloom possessions, and more cats than some people see in a lifetime.
On the plus side, we'd be cutting our living expenses roughly in half. Therefore, it made perfect sense for Carol to quit her job so we could also reduce our household income by the same factor. That decision is a whole 'nother story and while likely more entertaining than what you're reading now, we'll recount it at a later date. So, we were faced with consolidating two houses full of stuff into one, packing and moving everything that survived the cut up to the lake by ourselves (since the combination of last year's house purchase, apartment move, and this year's reduction in income meant nothing in the budget for professional movers), and replacing a just-the-two-of-us lifestyle focus with a herd-of-cats one.
Rather than recount the move in detail, I'll just share a few of the highlights:
- The rental truck was brand-new and therefore exceptionally clean, and with careful packing held nearly 80% of everything we needed to move.
- If something was difficult to get into the apartment when we moved in, it was just as difficult to extract when we moved out.
- Scheduling a yard sale for the day before the move was not our best idea, particularly since most of the big-ticket items failed to sell and therefore one of us (that would be me) was saddled with multiple trips to Goodwill to make "donations" as we tried to finish packing.
- Offering beer and pizza in exchange for friends' help in loading the truck was an effective strategy, although it may have resulted in some questionable "what-goes-where" decisions.
- The ability to back up using only side-view mirrors is a skill they don't teach in Driver's Ed and really should.
- It's easier to get a cat into a carrier than you might think. As long as you don't mind having bits of flesh stripped from your body via scratching or biting. Now do that five times.
- Cats are sensitive animals and also experience stress, which they display through the afore-mentioned scratching and biting along with howling, screeching, shedding, and -- in one memorable display -- shitting in their carrier 20 minutes into a 3-hour drive.
Since we couldn't get everything in the truck, we went through the process all over again two days later -- putting the rest of our goods into a covered trailer that was large enough for 90% of what we had left. We've filled our rented storage locker to the gills and still have boxes boxes boxes everywhere in the house. I haven't seen Carol since Thursday and fear she may be trapped behind a wall of kitchen accessories. It's been a stressful few weeks but we're not complaining -- not when we take a break for a cold drink or a meal and sit out on the deck to enjoy the view of our lovely, placid lake with a big beautiful island smack in the middle of it. We settle into our chairs, try to identify the birds that flit by, and watch billowing clouds roll across a seemingly endless sky.
And then scrape the hairballs from the bottom of our feet.