Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New Homes and New Beginnings

It’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon…err Chicago, my hometown.  Our family continues to focus on our various housing moves, but activity is also progressing on the “post-career” front as well.

My stepsister, Holley, and her husband Mike, invited the family to Easter dinner to celebrate moving into their new home (my mom’s old townhouse).  They spent the entire winter doing a major remodel and the house looks absolutely fabulous!   Of course, dinner was delicious as well!


Now, they are focusing efforts on their old condo to get it ready to be sold this summer.  The work seems to never end, but considering what things looked like a year ago, these two have been absolute dynamos!

Not to be outdone on the dynamo front, my other stepsister, Carol, will finally be graduating from Seminary later this month after over 10 years of continuous late-night and weekend study while holding down a full-time job.  Part of her final degree requirements included having some a few sermons videotaped and uploaded to the University, so I was able to pitch in and help her out with some of those technical hurdles.

Carol preaching

With that now done, the family is looking forward to a “road trip” at the end of the month to attend her graduation.  If my two stepsisters are true to form, it should be quite a fun and whacky weekend!

Last week, I had a bit of a “graduation” myself.  While some of us had completed our Illinois Master Naturalist internship hours late last year, we didn’t officially graduate until our group reconvened last week.  A half dozen of us received our diplomas and our engraved University of Illinois Extension name badges to join the ranks of fellow Certified Master Naturalists!

Now work begins to keep that certification maintained!  Each year, we commit to volunteer service as well as attending continuing education related to the natural sciences.  I’ll be attending a couple of education events next week at the Morton Arboretum to fulfill this year’s CEUs, and am also starting the research and prep work on my first naturalist presentation to a local library audience this July.  Really looking forward to these events!

Meanwhile, on my home front, I’m happy to report that my ongoing “As the Squirrel Turns” soap opera, has now come to (what will now hopefully be) a final end!  After the trap was reset properly last week, Squirrel # 2 was caught and I thought for sure that my unwanted houseguest was finally captured.  But while that squirrel was still in its cage, I sat in the living room and soon began hearing some further periodic “rustling” in the attic.   Drats! We caught the wrong squirrel! 


So, Squirrel # 2 got a one-way bus ticket to a new home of trees at the nearby nature area, and the empty trap was re-baited with peanuts and returned to my roof.   Finally, last Friday morning, my houseguest (Squirrel # 3) decided to come out for some breakfast and a stroll along the roof where he quickly found his peanuts and his one-way bus ticket to a new home!  To be sure that the attic was now finally clear, my wildlife trapper put another trap on the roof just in case any further critters should come out.  

Fortunately, all has been quiet in the attic since Friday (and the trapper confirmed that my houseguest had indeed been a male, and not a female up there having babies!).  Unfortunately, the trap caught one more “innocent bystander” squirrel (Squirrel # 4) a few hours later, who was soon transferred to their new digs at the nature area to join all the other squirrelly pals!   Since Saturday, though, there have been no further squirrels captured, and no further sounds in the attic, so we’re now thinking the war has been won and we can move on to the permanent closure of my “squirrel hotel” once and for all!

I’m now able to focus uninterrupted on clearing out the inside of the house of all its contents.  It continues to be both a physical and emotional daily struggle to keep things relatively organized and sorted as the Craigslist, eBay, and local sales begin to take shape.  To boost my motivation, I opened the mail the other day to find this year’s property tax bill has now jumped 15% to over $7000/yr!   Oh, how I will miss these joys of homeownership!!! 



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  1. $7000 yikes, my taxes in IL were under $3000 - that is definitely motivation to start full-timing.

    1. A national poll just came out a couple weeks ago, and the state that had the highest percentage of residents who wished to move from their state was none other than Illinois! Well, I hope to be joining your ranks of the ex-Illinoisians soon!!!

  2. Oh, goodness. That's more than double the property tax bill on my house, and I thought I was paying too much! I'm right with you on cleaning out a house. I've decided now is the time to start selling off stuff, painting, and doing a little landscape "repair," so my house will be ready to sell when I retire in 4 years.

    1. That's an excellent plan. I started getting my house ready about 4 years ago too-- but my initial focus was just on getting the house updated and remodeled. The past year has been on downsizing the "stuff" and wow, is it ever time-consuming and tedious (and also much harder emotionally to do than you'll ever imagine!).

  3. WOW! New homes, new beginnings, and a new blog makeover! I like it! Congrats all around. (Nice table setting, Stepsis!)

    1. Thanks! I take my design queues from the best of them ;-) My stepsis and hubs are so happy in their new home, and have really tried to incorporate a bit from everyone in the family-- the dining furniture was from his mom's house, the pic on the wall was from my house (that I had gotten from my grandmother!), etc. So neat to see it all come together so well!

  4. Your family is very accomplished - in many ways. Congratulations on your graduation - and good luck with your next steps.

    Yes, that's a huge tax bill - my California homes were never that high, thank goodness!

    Nice to put an end to the squirrel saga - and you did it in such a nice way. Good for you! :)

    1. thanks Barbara, yes, I heard the Tax Assessor for the city of Chicago say last year that housing costs would not be the main difficulty for future generations of home-buyers, it would be affording the property taxes! I have no doubt she was 100% correct! So, I'm going to consider that what I've paid the past 20+ years more than sufficient for my next 20 years as a non-property owner!

  5. Lynne, congratulations on your Master Naturalist graduation! And so glad you now have the squirrel situation under control.
    Btw, sitting here at the RVdealer while they set up our car for towing, and met a View owner. Told him about your blog site and he said he had just discovered it a few days ago. I told him it would be worth his while to read everything you've posted, especially about all the mods and techie stuff you've done.

    1. Can't believe I was the topic of conversation at the RV Dealer today! That's too funny! Well I hope your CRV is now all decked out and ready for action. You're going to so love having a toad for exploring. There won't be many places you can't go now!

  6. Wow, no wonder you have your house for sale. Just think how many months you could stay in Mexico for that $7,000.00. Congrats on the official graduation. I sure hope you use one of your tech gadgets and tape your presentation.


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