The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

A new chapter

pmccool's picture
pmccool

A new chapter

We knew that 2020 would be a momentous year, long before we ever heard of COVID-19.  We had no idea just how much the virus would affect our plans. 

Fortunately for us, we have not had to endure any illness.  Nor have we lost any family members or friends to the disease.  We recognize that as a true blessing and are grateful.

I turned 65 this year.  Our intent was to retire in May and move from Kansas to where we grew up in Michigan.  Because of the virus, we postponed both the retirement and the move date by a month.  That let us mitigate some of the effects of the shutdowns in both states.  And it gave me some time to recover from some severe back pain and sciatica that had initially manifested in March.

Our house sold surprisingly quickly.  Twice, as a matter of fact, since the first buyer backed out less than 24 hours after we accepted their offer.  We had another, better, offer within another 24 hours.  We got a mover lined up, did all of our own packing, and were on the road to Michigan on June 24.  Our goods arrived a few days after we did and were unloaded into the garage of our new home that was still under construction.  We had done well to eliminate as much stuff as we could before the move, because it just barely fit in the garage.

We initially rented a cabin on the Manistee River from a high school classmate for our first 10 days in Michigan, observing a soft quarantine of sorts.  Then we bunked at my wife's brother's house for the next nine weeks. 

I won't bore you with just much COVID screwed up the construction process.  Some of it was real, some of it exposed and exacerbated existing flaws in supply chains, and some of it was a convenient excuse

We finally moved into our new home on Labor Day weekend.  That left us with another two weeks of carpenters finishing the interior doors and trim, the screen porch, and trim on the front porch; plus painters finishing their work.  Wherever we could without getting in the way of construction, we started unpacking.  Family members have helped with lugging in the really big and heavy items and with some of the furniture reassembly.  I've been astonished at the amount of weight that I've toted in without aggravating my back.  And I've assembled enough book cases and other items that I now loathe Allen wrenches. 

The house now looks and feels like a house, rather than a construction site.  One of our two vehicles is in the garage.  I need to organize the garage stuff to make room for the other vehicle.  Our lawn was hydroseeded in August and has come in nicely.  Yesterday I dug 50+ holes in the ground and planted Shasta daisies, Brown-eyed Susans, boxwoods, hydrangeas, barberries, lilacs, roses, a magnolia, a red twig dogwood, and a pair of apple trees. 

I've had several queries about how I'm enjoying retirement.  So far, it's been like another project assignment and I've had to work harder than I did in my previous job.  But, as the intensive moving-in work winds down, I'm beginning to see some possibilities...

There have been a few bakes so far.  The only quirk I've noticed with the new oven is that the convection fan cycles on and off during the conventional bake.  That's apparently a design feature, according to the users manual.  Otherwise, temperature settings appear to be pretty reliable.  I haven't played with the so-called steam bake capability, yet.  There's a smallish steam tray that clips onto the rack but precious little guidance about how to use the steam bake cycle. 

TLDR: We've retired, moved, and built a house.  Lots of stessors but we're putting down new roots.

Paul

Comments

Portus's picture
Portus

Wishing you a long, happy, healthy, and rewarding retirement, Paul. I suspect that convection fan cycles is the first of many things you will discover in your newfound freedom! Joe

pmccool's picture
pmccool

The oven fan is one of several surprises.  For instance, we were puzzled by a loud sound from the basement.  It turned out to be the water heater.  I don't ordinarily associate noise with water heaters but this one is a high-efficiency condensing model that requires an exhaust fan; hence the motor we heard running.  There are a couple of mystery light switches that have no apparent purpose.  I'll have to go back to the wiring diagram from the electrician to figure those out.  And there's a small strip of metal that obviously belongs to the fireplace but isn't installed in the fireplace.  Those are small things, though. 

Our next step is to figure out what our retirement looks like when we aren't building a house.  More discoveries lurking there, I'm sure.

Paul

isand66's picture
isand66

Congratulations on your retirement and the next chapter.  Would love to see some pictures of your new house and look forward to see some bakes out of your new kitchen.

Good luck.

Best regards,
Ian

pmccool's picture
pmccool

I'll take some pictures just as soon as I'm able to stir myself.  I mowed the lawn this morning, which netted me about 9500 steps.  Then I spent three hours helping my brother-in-law cut wood for his winter heating.  Our M.O. is to cut as much as we can while putting two tanks of fuel through his chainsaw, then split and stack what we've cut.  I've had my ibuprofen and a hot shower, which is about all that I plan to do for the rest of the day.

Paul

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Ian, here are some pics of the house.

Street view:

Close-up:

The view from the front porch:

Our kitchen.  Notice how the refrigerator looks lonely in its space.  That's because it is a loaner until the manufacturer ships the freezer and the refrigerator that we ordered.  The most recent delivery estimate is "sometime in fourth quarter".:

And the breakfast nook, with the our more-frequently used cookbooks.  The others are in a different bookcase:

All in all, we are quite pleased with the house now that it is a house, instead of a construction site.  The kitchen layout is very different than that of our previous house but it seems to work well.  We gave up some cabinet space, even with the larger island that has drawers on both sides, but have a walk-in pantry that makes up for some of that.  While my wife seems to have everything where she wants it, I won't be surprised if there are adjustments as we live with it longer and figure out what works best. 

I intend to bake on Saturday, and maybe Sunday, as we have long-time friends of my wife coming to dinner on Saturday evening and a birthday party for my sister on Sunday.  Fun times!

Paul

isand66's picture
isand66

Fabulous looking house!  That kitchen is a dream ?.  Look forward to seeing your bakes and I’m sure everything will taste better enjoying your beautiful view while dining.

Certainly a beautiful place to enjoy the next phase of your life.

Best regards,

Ian

Benito's picture
Benito

Wow Paul, your new home is so beautiful and with such a beautiful view as well.  I love your large white kitchen with the corner window at the sink and tons of counter space.  You’d be shocked as how little counter space we have in our condo kitchen.  I’m sure you’re going to love living in your new place, especially once your new fridge arrives.

Benny

Floydm's picture
Floydm

Glad to hear you are getting settled in to the new house and routine.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

The frustrations of the last few weeks of construction were just about more than my wife could bear, so it is a tremendous relief to be in the house and make it ours.  We've already hosted a family birthday party, which further cements that sense of being home.  It is exactly that sort of thing that we looked forward to as we planned our retirement. 

Paul

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Welcome to the club Paul , you will soon be wondering how you ever had time to fit work in, i was told that i would be bored stupid in retirement i am now having to think i will not be able to get that done in this life time or along the lines of i will be 103 when that is finished, or  by the time that matures and bears fruit.  Its still a lot more preferable than the alternative though. Enjoy my friend enjoy.

Kind regards Derek

pmccool's picture
pmccool

I remember my dad saying, a couple of years after he retired, "I don't know how I ever found time to go to work!"  It makes me smile to hear you echo that sentiment. 

Boredom isn't on the docket any time soon, from all appearances.  I suppose we are optimists, since we have planted fruit trees.  Or maybe we're daft, since I've seen deer tracks across the lawn previously.

Whatever comes, it's all part of life which, as you note, beats the alternative.

Cheers,

Paul

proth5's picture
proth5

I've been popping up here from time to time, but glad to hear you are getting settled. If my life is any indication, things will not slow down in retirement, but hopefully will be less tumultuous then a move and construction.

Best wishes!

Pat

pmccool's picture
pmccool

What a pleasant surprise to see you surface here!

Yes, we are getting settled.  There are more bookcases in my future, it seems, since those in our study and kitchen are already stuffed but unopened boxes remain.  And a workbench for the garage.  And a sewing table for my wife's crafts room.  And, and, and...

My guess is that the move-in phase will be more or less finished before the end of the year.  There is much less left to do than there was at the outset but it's the sort of stuff that isn't as simple as "Put it there." 

We are truly interested to see what our retirement will become.  We fully expect to be busy but don't yet know how that might look.  So many possibilities...

Paul

clazar123's picture
clazar123

The test of retirement comes when you feel like you matter without the daily validation of work. Mattering comes from the people around you and even from within. So if you feel like you matter, you will be happy....and busy.That will always ensure a successful life-whether working or in retirement.

"I hear ya" regarding the busyness and craziness of a cross country move. At one time I had just retired, owned 3 houses in 3 different states. I was remodeling one for us to eventually occupy, moving out of our family home of 20 yrs to one that was half the size in a different state  and setting one up for partial year occupancy in another state. ARRGGHH!

Well, it is 5 yrs later and life is good. The larger family home sold very quickly so I had to quickly get rid of LOTS of stuff. It was a good experience as I learned that "stuff is stuff" and it is the memory involved/triggered by the "stuff" that s important and not the "stuff". The remodeled,smaller house has changed roles and is now our northern summer home and the southern home has now been partially remodeled and become our primary residence. Whew! All the while my spouse is still working. He just retired this Feb. Great timing!

Enjoy your new home and every day think about how wonderful it is to matter!

pmccool's picture
pmccool

When I read it to my wife, she agreed, too.  

Yes, moves are always crazy, stressful times no matter how carefully we plan.  I had to use fingers and toes but I think this is our 16th move since we married in 1976.  (I left out a couple of short-term temporary quarter moves.)  

Building a house is stressful all by itself but we upped the ante by trying to manage a new build from several states away.  It's good that we moved when we did because I think our builder would still be futzing around if we weren’t right here breathing down his neck.  I wouldn’t want to attempt your tri-state arrangement, thank you very much. 

While there are still things to do in the house, it feels perfectly lovely to sit back in the recliner this morning and watch the rain come down outside.  Rest is every bit as valuable as work.  

Thanks for the perspective and the insights. 

Paul

Benito's picture
Benito

Congratulations on your retirement and a brand new start in a new location and brand new home.  Lots of new things in your life.  Bread baking can help keep you grounded as you experience your new life.

Benny

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Much newness, indeed!  Even though we are back where we grew up, it isn't the same place we left 40+ years ago.  Some of that we like, some if it isn't so appealing, and some of it makes us go "Hmm."

I'll have to start baking to give bread away.  My bread consumption has dropped because I'm not making a sandwich every day for my lunch at work. 

Paul

Sugarowl's picture
Sugarowl

That is a long tiring endeavor to be sure! My husband also hates allen wrenches, so he got a drill bit attachment for them. Hopefully you won't need another wrench, but know that they make drill bits to fit just in case! My brother's house sold really fast right after the Seattle upsets. He was very surprised, but it probably sold fast because people wanted out of that crazy city. So now he's across the pond in a different country. Good luck on getting everything settled. We've been in our house for 11 years and just now getting started on some of the quirks. Make sure your door frames are straight, ours aren't and that's one of the many to-fix things.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

I found that I have a ratcheting driver with multiple interchangeable tips, which include Allen wrenches.  It had been sitting unnoticed in my tool chest for a long time but has been getting quite a workout in the past few weeks.  Yay!  Especially since two more bookcases arrived yesterday...

Real estate is one of those weird things.  When it is good, it is very, very good.  And when it is bad, it is horrid.  Rather like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead.  We lucked out by selling at a time of low inventory and high demand.  We have seen the other side of that coin and it was no fun. 

Settling in continues.  While we have had a number of frustrations with our builder, we are very pleased with the build quality.  One of the finish carpenters is due here today to adjust the entry doors that somehow got unadjusted when the painters touched them, plus take care of a few remaining trim items. 

Paul

gerhard's picture
gerhard

the next chapter of your life. Looks like a great place to retire.  A few years ago we spent some time in Charlevoix Mi and that looked like a place one could spend a nice retirement.  Little south of there it was cherry everything and the dunes on Lake Michigan were amazing.

Wishing you a happy and long retirement 

Gerhard

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Fife Lake, which is my wife's hometown, is a tiny village; only 443 residents as of the 2010 census.  I doubt that it will top 500 in the 2020 census.  If it weren't for the lake, the town probably wouldn't exist.  But, it does have the lake and that's a perk that can't be duplicated.

Charlevoix and the surrounding environs are also beautiful.  Because it is so popular, it is rather pricey.  But, yes, a lovely place to retire if you can swing it.

Paul

gerhard's picture
gerhard

I guess it was these houses that left a real impression on us.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

That’s a tour I want to take. 

Paul