That’s right, today we’re stuffing cats in the microwave.

Alright, so what I really have been doing is getting this brick (!#*!)house ready for sale and that’s why I’ve been too (!!*#ing) busy to post. BTW, I used profanity a couple of posts ago in my letter to Sprint and I heard about it, so now I’ll just use punctuation marks. Posts full of hypotheses and marks.

Yes, no we can’t afford it. Hard times and all. The truth is we can afford it as long as we don’t mind spending 50% of our take home income on the world’s biggest mortgage and high taxes and condo insurance.  More to the point I guess is the fact that I don’t want to afford it. It chafes against every single fiber of my being, essentially paying a monolith rent for a house that is not going up- more likely down- in value, that will not fly off the market the minute I mention selling it and that, as you all know from past griping, does not feel like home. Real estate has always been good to me, starting with my first home purchase at age 24 and now, well, it’s not so good to me. Not that I thought I was different from everyone else in the country. I’ve always bought the smallest but most potentially appealing house with the best yard in a nice neighborhood, put in lots of sweat equity, enjoyed living in my home and then, with children and other life changes, moved on up. Something went seriously haywire with this purchase. This is our city house where we pay the high dollar to live while Rich earns what was our retirement dollar. It’s in a great neighborhood, good schools in the city, wonderful neighbors, architect designed, close to the park , zoo and restaurants. (Remember, every one in Chicago eats out.) In a good economy this place is golden, especially if you like trendy, brick walled, three story atriums and have no fear of heights. Now, not so good. Worse than before. My homes- the places where I think about living my life productively and peacefully- are in Florida and North Carolina. In fact, knowing that the North Carolina house is there, free and clear of mortgage with a giant vegetable garden, birds, wildlife, mountains, rivers- well, that makes this place seem even less like a home. So, long before we might think of being even 2 minutes late on a payment,the brickhouse is going on the market. Where it will most likely sit for at least two years. By putting it on now (technically 6 weeks from now so if you want a great condo deal in Lincoln Park e-mail me quickly) we do it without pressure and strain. Rich, of course, has his work life here and, especially in this economy, he’s working as long and as hard as he can. And I have my good friends and the zoo and surface design classes and so forth. We’re trying to do this sensibly and before we desperately need to and if, by some miracle we sell the place, we’ll move across the street into a closet size apartment and that will be fine, too.

The realtor friend came and by the time she left I felt like one of those 80 year old women who has a pathological hoarding disease. She told me to get rid of everything that, to me, makes this brickhouse tolerable. “Get rid of the taxidermy (okay, well I KNEW that was coming and I concede that point),  get rid of all those books (she said it as though they were shelves full of compost. And the Kindle is on back order until February so I guess they may be…), get rid of the world globes, the pictures of the children and for God’s sake, get rid of the cats.” Yeesh. They’re the cleanest, tidiest life forms around here. She turned to me and said, as sweet as sweet can be, “You know, just get rid of everything that says ‘Vicki and Rich’. ” The theory here, as she explained it, is that people need to be able to project themselves into the space.  I didn’t want to tell her that only a crazed menopausal loon or a guy who didn’t care one whit about his surroundings would project themselves into this place.

The other thing? Empty the closets, please, so it looks as though there’s some storage. Oh, right. There isn’t, which is why we have them packed to the point where we haven’t dared open the doors to any but our bedroom closets for two years now. Compacted- and I’m bragging here- into these few closets are two whole lifetimes, two complete households and two basements, garages and a storage locker full of important memories, baby books, photos and shit. I mean, !*#*. Actually, no, it’s shit. But highly condensed and every centimeter packed square, those closets are a work of storage art. Besides, we already got rid of over half our stuff to move here from Michigan. In Asheville, we’ll have a basement AND a garage but by the time we get there we’ll be all out of stuff. (Here’s a very funny YouTube with George Carlin about Stuff. Either Kenju or Sparky sent it to me.)

I know that lots of people, who I won’t name here, think that dogs who roll in dead deer and have uncomplicated sex lives, be it a human leg or another dog, are quite superior to cats. But face it people. Cats are much smarter. You need to take a dog to the vet to be neutered? “Here pup! Jump in the car! We’re going to the park to play with your balls!” and they’re in like a flash, wagging and slathering. A cat? They know. They know everything. You can hide absolutely nothing- not a thought, a plan, a dream or a plot- from a cat.

sophieblanket(Those eyes and ears know EVERYTHING. She’s camped out on the (shhh) Christmas throw I’m making for Bud out of my mother’s old sweaters.)

I bring boxes in this house quite often. Boxes with groceries, wine, wool. I take boxes out of the house quite often. No problem, no reaction from the fur people.  About three days after the realtor was here I went to Sam’s Wines and brought home some empty wine boxes. Both cats were sleeping, Sophie in her felted bed and Cloudy on the sofa. Each one opened one half eye, closed it and went back to sleep. Where they dreamed that we were planning to sell the house from under them and move everything out of it. When they woke up they stopped eating, stopped drinking,  and hid in the woodwork where they can’t be found. That was a while ago. Cloudy has let his imagination run away with him, so now he’s also convinced, as he squints at me from under the dining table or through the crack in the closet door where he believes he is camouflaged as shoes, that I am only flipping the switch on the garbage disposal in order to shove a cat down into it. The washing machine? I’m doing a load of cats. Put a Christmas CD in the player? It’s the tragic death aria for cats. Rich can’t go to work without Cloudy freaking out. I spend all the time I’m not fighting with the closets talking soothingly to McCloud about sunny Florida with lots of those fun little anoles running around. I’m putting Cranberry Comfort powder in his food- and then running it down the sink later in the day, all dried up and nasty, before re-filling the dish. Why didn’t I think of this before? Who needs to put the fat cat on a diet? Just start packing up the house.

Rich is doing a fair amount of work travel and he’s not really around much so the cats and I are trying muddle through this busy, dreary time before Christmas. I’m trying to get this done right now so Rich can drive a U-Haul full of our stuff to Asheville enroute to Florida in 10 days. Then, the brickhouse will be cold, catless and totally devoid of personality- a realtor’s dream- while we relax in the sun. I’ve always sold my own houses, quite easily, so I’m hoping she knows what she’s doing. She did make a note of telling me our bed had the proper feng shui, given it’s position in the room. I suppose that’s something.

tilley(Only the world’s most perfect, comfortable, best fitting, handsome sun hat. I mean that.)

Yesterday was a very good day, because we needed more stuff. I got my replacement Tilley hat half off because it fell in the bayou in Florida at the end of last year and they are a wonderful, high quality, old-fashioned company that believes in great customer service. They sent me this new one, just like the old one, no questions asked. Buy a Tilley sun hat. It will be one of the best purchases you ever make. And then Rich came back from a business meeting with Hershey, in PA, because, you know in hard times when everything is going to hell in the proverbial handbasket, people get depressed and they need more…


(He lugged all this back in his briefcase. But I’m not complaining; it’s better than hotel soap. Just took care of the children’s stockings.)

I really am going to tell you the very freaking incident I had with HGTV a couple weeks ago. Flipped me right out. And I have a new Christmas story for you, in case you’re tired of Buckminster Fuller, and I’m going to come around and see how you are and leave holiday greetings. That will be it for the Windy City this year; come January I’ll be posting with more regularity from the porch in Florida.


32 responses to “That’s right, today we’re stuffing cats in the microwave.

  1. Making a throw out of your mother’s sweaters for Bud… What a fabulous gift!

  2. So glad to hear you’re almost here!!! Poor kitties, in the microwave. They do know, don’t they.

  3. Hope you have better luck selling your condo than my brother did selling his property. He invested tons of ‘sweat equity’ AND real money into fixing his vacant property up to sell, lined up an eager buyer, then the bank low-balled him on the appraisal. Apparently banks are more interested in selling their own (foreclosed) properties than investing in garden variety real estate.

    That does work to my son’s advantage as he is looking to close soon on a foreclosed home.

  4. All I can say is you need to come to Florida right away. it is the only cure for your doldrums that I can think of. I hope that realtor has more charm when she is talking to potential buyers. Please do come to the sunshine soon before all the Superbowl Fans trash the place.

  5. That throw will be the best present Bud ever got from anyone! What a love you are.

    Good luck on selling the condo. I was going to ask for your address, so I could send you something for Christmas, but your realtor might freak out all over again, so I’ll let it go for now.

    Tell her, though, that the presence of cats would make me buy a home sooner – since I like cat lovers!!

  6. Have you watched any of those shows about selling your home on HGTV, etc? Your realtor’s telling you exactly the same things that the experts tell folks on those shows. Hard not to take it personally, though it’s really not. I can’t imagine how we’d ever manage to neutralize our house, were we to sell. Most of the “art” on our walls is photos of family and places we’ve visited… and then there are the cats.

    Hope you, McCloud and Sophie will be happily soaking up the Florida sunshine soon.

  7. You gave away EVERYTHING when you moved from Michigan! I personally received several treasures from the Vicki Store. Tell your realtor that things could have been much, much worse.

  8. Heehee.

    Psychic paranoid cats? Maybe a good dose of Florida sunshine will calm them down.
    Good luck with that sale.
    Very impressive chocolate stash!

  9. Yea, yea, yea, all that is fine and then . . . Kindle. You’re getting a Kindle. Whine. Whine. Whine. Top of my wish list and unlikely Santa will be that nice to me. Sigh.

    Anyway, packing up and moving is so painful. And, oh gosh, having people come through your house and telling you what you’ve done wrong with it. Sigh.

    Looking forward to reading more of your adventures.

  10. It seems that nobody wants to be associated with Chicago these days.

    O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
    Our spirits by Thine advent here;
    Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
    And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

    Blessed Advent, dear Vicki!

  11. I had to read the paragraph about the cats in the washing machine out loud to roger. We had a very good laugh. Poor kitty cats. They like to roam on their own terms.

    Good luck with the real estate, Vicki. Maybe you could trade it with Blago for that much sought after senate seat.

  12. Just had to say this post’s title sure livens up my sidebar a bit! 🙂

  13. How do they know? Kinsey can tell a suitcase from a briefcase from upstairs behind a bed.

    Good luck with the life transition and selling the house – I’ll miss having you nearby when it happens – sort of – in Chicago but I can understand wanting out of the city and wanting warming weather. North Carolina sounds really, really good during michigan winters.

    My gull photo is from anchorage. What, there aren’t enough gulls in A2?

    And have you heard that HBO is making a series (or maybe it’s a movie or maybe both) based on No 1 ladies detective agency?

  14. I am thinking of a Kindle myself these days. I’ll wait for your review.

    As a loony menopausal woman, I say that the chocolate swag looks far superior to any ole soap, any day! My father was an executive in the liquor biz and I can tell you that booze sales always boom in tough times, too!

    And, yes. Oreo agrees with you about the intelligence of cats. He says he’s smarter than Max any day.

  15. This blog will give you some staging ideas, I’m sure…

  16. If I knew Rich was in the area I would have waved, we live about an hour from Hershey. Best of luck selling your condo. I don’t mean to rub it in, but we sold our house in 5 days this past July! But we did devoid the house of photos, extra stuff etc. and also we priced it right and fixed everything we could possible fix before we moved into our newly purchased cottage in the woods. Timing is everything, the right couple was looking and loved our place…said it was the only one that looked like the photos of it on the Internet.

    Hope to get to Florida in the early spring next year. Keep it warm for me. Hee hee.

  17. I’ll send some ‘Stellar real-estate vibes your way. I had an off on my house in 16 days. Of course, not in Chicago, not a condo, and without brick walls, but hey. Mojo is mojo! *****

    Enjoy “sunny” Florida. I was in Orlando last month and it was downright chilly!

  18. How have I not been here before? Anyway, followed a link on Laura in NJ’s blog.
    And now I am laughing.
    George Carlin’s routine on “Stuff”–I use that in my Eng Comp class to get college freshmen talking about, thinking about worldly goods (along with a photo of Gandhi’s last possessions).
    And cats vs. dogs–we have both & cats are FAR more intelligent, make that suspicious (which is the same as intelligence for me).
    Finally, too much stuff in your closets? Freecycle it! No, I mean it–you would be amazed what people on Freecycle will take. And Freecycle is EVERYWHERE in the U.S.
    I’ll be back–nice to be here today.

  19. Oops–meant to say–YAY–Tilley Hats. The best–my hubby & I each have one (or two).

  20. this all sounds too too complicated and right before Christmas – my head is thumping already! I just hope that whatever you want out of this happens right quick!

  21. Here you go, moving again — and to the wrong place — again. Good luck on next time (N.C.?)

  22. Please share the finished throw with us when it’s completed. I love it already. (How are you attaching the squares to each other?)

  23. Your very funny post takes me back to summer of ’06 when we sold our house. Instead of cats, I had two Golden Retrievers that I had to take away from the house for each showing. Wouldn’t you know? We had the longest heat wave on record. So I drove them around in the air conditioned car (yes, MY car which never transports dogs) until the showings were over.

    If you think the cats are suspicious now, just wait until you have your entire kitchen cabinets cleared of small appliances, etc. And you do have to do that…the realtor is absolutely correct.

    I definitely empathize, but if it’s any comfort, the NC mountains are well worth whatever you have to go through.

  24. Oh, NC Woman’s post made me think of when we had our first house up for sale and had to move in with my mom and dad because our Dobermans scared off all potential buyers. The realtor said he would not show it again until “those” dogs were gone.

  25. I’m totally digging those Christmas trees in your header. SO cool.

  26. Merry Christmas, Vicki!

  27. Oh, cats know, well before dogs realize anything is out of whack. But I will say this, whenever the suitcases get thrown onto the bed, my dogs don’t take their eyes off me…

    Tough times, Vickie. Everyone is feeling it, everywhere. Our neighbors across the street have a marvelous home at a good price – for sale since October 07 and they’ve moved to their new home in south Charlotte in May. She’s a VP for Ryan Homes…

    Anywho, it’s good to visit you again. Just clear the place – I know it’s painful to remove traces of you and your life there…

    Have a Merry Christmas, wherever you are. Hold the ones you love very close.


  28. Merry Christmas, Vicki, to you and your family.

  29. Here it is, well past Yuletide, and no new post, not even from McCloud. How about a New Year’s shot? Love you plenty.

  30. Excellent read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing some research on that. And he actually bought me lunch since I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

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