Itching to move

Since Quinland started college, I’ve been trying to think of ways to save money. We canceled cable. We quit paying for (but not going to) Southwest Community Center. We decided to no longer pay anyone to walk our dog or (periodically) clean our house, tasks that are tough for me to plan for since my energy levels are all over the map. It seemed, though, that all my ideas were just drops in the bucket.

So I looked more closely at our expenditures. The one that jumped out at me, more than any other, was how much we spend on our home for mortgage, property taxes, and utilities.

I should start by saying that we live in a great house. It’s not the fanciest; it hasn’t really been updated since it was built in 1990. It’s not in one of the “hot” Portland neighborhoods; it’s smack in the middle of an area that doesn’t really have much within a walkable distance, and is hilly and has no sidewalks, to boot. Parts of our street are not paved by the city, and the nearest cross street is a washed-out gravel road. However, it is BIG, and it was really inexpensive on a per-square-foot basis. We like deals, and we had a ton of stuff, so it seemed like a good fit for us. We’ve loved having an above-ground finished basement (aka “double down”) where Quinland and his friends can hang out and stay up late and make tons of noise and not disturb us at all.

But if I was embarrassed before by how many square feet each of us had to live in (we can each pee on a different floor!), it is even worse now that Quinland is away at school. Although we’ve managed to stuff every last bit of it, two people don’t need this much space, especially when it costs so much to heat!

A few weeks ago, I started checking out the Zillow app (which is super fun) and keeping tabs on what was out there. I realized that if we moved two miles west, we’d be in a neighboring county with much lower property taxes. Now I’m checking for new listings every day, bothering my real estate agent about various houses, and trying to talk up the whole moving thing with David.

He doesn’t want to move. He figures we can realize a similar level of savings by renting out the basement. He doesn’t think we could fit into a smaller house, nor does he think our house is ready to sell. He’s correct on all counts.

But oh! I am ready for a new place, a new start, a chance to find a home that’s perfect to downsize into. The market is great for sellers, and…

Sigh. I can wait. There is time. Houses will continue to be sold. We can use this time to look into converting the basement to a rental. I can pare down our belongings to a reasonable number. Who knows? Maybe we’ll decide to just rent an apartment, one of those glorious places where somebody else deals with calling people to cut down the tree that is over the broken water main…

Perhaps the streets ARE paved with diamonds…

I am traveling in Europe for six months, and I brought one pair of shoes. One. (In fact, “brought” may not be the right choice of words, since they were the very shoes on my feet when I boarded the plane.)

The MS has made the nerves in my feet all wonky, and most shoes cause me to have all sorts of weird sensations. This particular pair, on the other hand, has made my feet happy.

Sadly, I am probably going to have to give them up. Not because they are frumpy – I have long ago given up style for comfort. Not because they are scuffed to within an inch of their lives – that’s never stopped me yet.

But the soles are absolutely shredding.

I don’t blame the shoes. They are Kumfs (now called Ziera Shoes, by the way) and they are fabulously well-made and supportive and comfortable and everything I could want in a shoe. But when you wear them every day and you have one foot that drags on the ground, they tend to wear rapidly… and on one foot more than the other.

We wandered around Brussels yesterday in search of a replacement pair. It had to meet my strict criteria:

  • Has to go with everything, since I don’t want to cart two pairs around;
  • Has to be cushiony and supportive; and
  • Can’t make the foot feel weird.

That last one is pretty subjective, I know.

The wandering led us to a shop marked “orthopédique,” which sounded promising. Using my five words of French and some gesturing, I was turned over to a colleague who spoke a tiny bit of English and was able to direct me to a possible shop. The shop was indeed possible; the shop assistant spoke lovely English; and they had a number of shoes that looked promising.

I turned down a pair that looked like gold lamé, but otherwise I was open to anything I thought I might be able to walk in. After trying on a zillion pairs, I settled on a pair that looks a lot like the old ones, but in grey.

I left the black pair in Brussels when we left this morning.

I don’t know why I get sentimental about things. I’m the girl who cried when I sold my camper van, who reminisces about every item that goes in the Goodwill box (“Oh! I got this stationery in college!”), who clings to items that have absolutely no beauty or utility (I have a plastic sign that says “Fried Zucchini” from my high school job at Carl’s Jr.). I know these shoes are inanimate objects, but they have been my constant companions these past three years and have gotten me through the last two months of travel single-handedly. I am committed to letting things go, however, so I dropped them in the garbage can and then covered them with leftover potatoes, just in case I suffered from any remorse.

So begins the era of the grey shoes. May they be just as trusty as the black ones! (They did give me a blister on my first long walk today, but it was three miles with no socks – all my socks were black, so I left them in Brussels as well and now need to go shopping – and I will cut them a little slack until I break them in.)

One last look at the black shoes (which is really a picture of the view from our apartment window – isn’t it gorgeous?):

Daily Check-In:

  • I’m grateful! that our flight was on time and went safely, and that our new landlord picked us up from the airport. That was a very pleasant surprise. He is a charming gentleman who speaks English well and is all helpfulness.
  • I’m lighter! by those black shoes, and also by the entire telescoping handle assembly of the red suitcase. Once Vueling Airlines broke the wheels and axle off the bag, the handle was no longer needed as the darn thing doesn’t roll. I told David to bash it off with a hammer. Why don’t I think to take photos of these sorts of events until after the fact?