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Posts Tagged ‘Never say “downsize”’

This is a CONDO?

When we moved from our up north home on fourteen acres nine years ago, into a four room condo in SE Wisconsin, family members and friends were raising eyebrows, rolling eyes, and just generally not quite believing it.  A CONDO?  Four rooms?  Joe and Margaret Been?

To back up a bit, I have a decades-old reputation for being an incurable (but very neat and well-organized) pack rat.  And my husband, Joe, via osmosis, has become a pack rat as well.  We would simply have to change and we probably would be miserable.  Ha ha.  That’s what they thought!

Well we didn’t change a bit.  We left a few things behind, but began adding new rummage and antique store stuff to our new digs within weeks after arrival in September, 2009.  We not only kept our space-consuming hobbies; we have added more.

Joe has a garage workbench area, and also works in his den.  He makes wooden models and flies drones.  My card table art work has morphed into sometimes 3 different work areas in our four rooms and many paintings which I’ve done since ’09, stashed everywhere.  A few years ago,  I began painting silk scarves.  Two spinning wheels occupy our living room and they are constantly whirring like there is no tomorrow.  My hand-made yarn dangles everywhere.

One friend was shocked to learn that I am still making soap—a couple hundred bars per year of drop-dead-beautiful complexion soap.  But all it takes is a stove top for melting fat, and a few standard kitchen supplies plus a small stash of molds, cosmetic grade color pigments, small bottles of fragrance oils, some sodium hydroxide, a few bottles of rendered fat which do not need refrigeration, a small scale, and some distilled water.

All of this equipment is stored in the kitchen.  My computer (Joe and I each have our own computers in our own private office areas) accesses the online sodium hydroxide calculator where I enter each oil by the number of ounces used, and the calculator computes the amount of sodium hydroxide and water needed for the recipe.  Not exactly pioneer stuff.  Sure glad for that!  Much of the soap stuff is stored in our dishwasher.  I dislike dishwashers!  With gorgeous antique dishes which are fun to wash, we never use a dishwasher for anything but storage—and it is GREAT for that!

Books continue to breed and multiply here, thanks to the hoards we moved with us, and dozens more thanks to Amazon, other online sources, ST. VINNIE’S and GOODWILL, and rummage sales.  Joe built a bunch of bookshelves, plus we have books stacked on the floor all over the place.  And plants!  And the piano.  Essential in our home!  And we will always have a play area with books and toys for our great-grandchildren, now numbering nineteen.

So you see, our family members were relieved, and friends (although shocked) are comforted to know that we are blissfully happy here in our four room condo.  No basement, but a garage crammed with odds and ends from our rummage and old furniture obsessions—and a delightful Granny’s Attic type storage closet which is under the upstairs neighbor’s stairs to his condo.  Heaven on earth, in Nashotah, Wisconsin!  🙂

Just scroll down for a tour.

Yes, it’s a CONDO!  Along with everything else that goes on here, we entertain A LOT!  Family and friends, right in the midst of art making, soap making, music making, reading, drone flying, etc.  Even sleeping!  A couple of weeks ago, I entertained nine ladies (including moi)—mostly friends from WAUWATOSA HIGH SCHOOL, class of 1951.  We chatted and ate our refreshments around the living room coffee table.  So delightful.

Often the dining room table is 1/2 full of art making, leaving only space for three diners.  So we simply dote on our dinner guests in the living room.  There are places for nine to comfortably sit with odds and ends of tables for plates and silverware.  Thankfully, both Joe and I came from interest-filled open homes where people came for coffee, tea, and/or dinner frequently, and loads of animated chatter.  Joe and I cherish this heritage, and believe it’s the only way to live!

I rarely bother to dust or clean other than a runaround with a vac and a swish of a woolly duster—and certainly never for company.  Just for fun when I feel like it.  Everything gets carefully spruced a few times per year whether it needs it or not.  Occasional cleaning projects are fun with Irish music blaring. 

Of course the exception is routine kitchen and bathroom maintenance which we do constantly just for the two of us because we are civilized and we like clean bathrooms and kitchens.


A home is a blessing to use, share (as much and as often as energy will permit), share and share again and again, and ENJOY!  And that we do—all four rooms plus two loos, one for Joe and one for me.

Margaret L. Been —  April 4th, 2018

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Sunday is visiting day

The above picture, titled “Sunday is Visiting Day”, was taken on a peaceful summer Sunday afternoon 2 years ago.  It depicts a neighbor whom we cannot take with us when we move, and a few of the many bottles which we can.

From nearly everyone our age, we hear a strange-to-us word:  “Downsizing”.  Downsizing is the stereotypical thing for folks our age to do.  Joe and I are “downsizing” in the sense of moving to a smaller home, with no yard to call our own.  Obviously some large furniture items will be left behind.

But when it comes to the items that go inside a home, we are definitely not stereotypical.  In fact, I really dislike the word “downsizing”.  It’s on my linguistic hit list, along with “simplicity”, “minimalism”, and “getting rid of clutter”.  To me, getting rid of clutter would mean getting rid of a joyous quality of life!

Just a little creativity will show you how much we’ll be able to cram into our 4 room condo.  The tangible tokens of memories will move right along with us.  I don’t believe in getting rid of a life–and that’s what “downsizing” would be for us. 

Nearly every object in our home has a story or association attached.  Of course, I ultimately can’t take it all with me.  But, as our granddaughter Alicia says, “That’s why we should enjoy it all now!

I expect some of you readers are saying, “It’s okay to move family heirlooms and “valuable” stuff.  But bottlesArizona Tea bottles?”  And I imagine this is being said in a tone that implies, “Are you nuts?”

Yes, I am nuts.  Nuts about bottles, and really nuts about Arizona Tea bottles.  They ring my chimes.  But in a sense, I am doing a tiny bit of “downsizing”.  From my collection of some 80 or 90 Arizona Tea bottles, I gave many to a neighbor who is a fellow junker and collector. 

For our condo, I saved out one of each design of Arizona Tea bottles.  (All right, with the exception of the Native American.  I’m keeping 2 or 3 of him, because he is so beautiful.) 

A plethora of boxes full of other kinds of bottles are packed and ready to move.  I amost, but not quite, wish I could bring the above-pictured Sunday visitor along with us.  Reason tells me that would be going too far in my desire to remain unique.  I’ll be contented with moving 2 large cartons full of my beloved, cuddly stuffed bears.

But Heaven preserve us from ever being stereotypical!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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