About this downsizing thing

Bathrooms. The house I just sold and moved from, had three bathrooms. OK, two and a half.

Each bathroom was on a different level. They varied in size but in total they had several feet of cabinet/vanity storage space plus an entire closet.

Now as I unpack boxes here at the condo, I am unpleasantly surprised at how many boxes there are that are labeled “bathroom” – full of towels, toiletries, and other things that were stashed in all those vanities, drawers, and the closet. I have no clue what I’m going to do with all of it.

When I planned this move, I figured out which furniture I would need to get rid of – and with my family’s help I got rid of it before moving day. Also before moving day, I offloaded boxes (and boxes!!) of books. I took carloads of donations of clothing and household goods to charities. I thought I’d considered all the aspects of downsizing my stuff and space.

But I never gave a thought to – bathrooms. Silly me.

I have two small bathrooms here. Not a vanity or closet between ’em. (One will eventually have a bit of a vanity cabinet, but nothing to compare to the lost glories I left behind…)

This weekend I must get this sorted out. Once I unpack all those “bathroom” boxes, I may find that I have a decade’s supply of body wash. I won’t need to buy toilet paper for awhile, either.


Michael Gilbert, 1912-2006, Crime Writer and Solicitor

I have just learned that Michael Gilbert, British crime writer and solicitor, died on February 8, 2006.

I discovered Gilbert’s crime novels as a young adult. Because his career as a novelist began about the time I was born, I had a richness of back titles to explore and enjoy. I treasure my collection of his books. In the past month I have enjoyed re-reading several of them, including The Crack in the Teacup, The Country House Burglar (published in the UK as Sky High), and Blood and Judgment.

In an obituary at the Guardian’s website, HRF Keating writes:

Michael Gilbert, who has died aged 93, entertained a large public from 1947 until some two years before his death with a stream of novels in the broad genre of crime, always skilfully telling a story, invariably illuminating sharply aspects of British life and, on occasion, digging deep into the human psyche so as to point to an unwavering moral.

Out of inherent modesty, however, he liked to deny that he was making any attempt to be like those novelists who are seen as laying down moral maps – unlike some crime practitioners. Indeed, in commenting on his aims in the massive reference work, Twentieth Century Crime and Mystery Writers, he included a gentle rebuke to myself. In reviewing his The Night of the Twelfth (1976), I had praised him for introducing a grave note of that sort; what, he asked, “is a writer to do if he is not allowed to entertain?”

And entertain Gilbert did, not only with some 30 novels but with many short stories, as well as four stage plays, plays for radio and plays and serials for television. All this occurred while he was at Lincoln’s Inn, where he worked as a solicitor and later partner. His clients ranged from the government of Bahrain to Raymond Chandler, with whom he had a lively correspondence.

How did he manage to do it all? By industry and application, of course, but also by taking advantage of the 50-minute morning train journey from his home in Kent to write some 500 words each day. . .

He wrote those books by hand, on the train to and from the office. His career at the bar followed his military service in WWII – including being captured and kept as a PoW in Italy, escaping from that captivity as the Italians were sliding into defeat late in the war.

As I unpack my books in my new home, I will probably stop and browse through some of Mr. Gilbert’s. I never met him, or corresponded with him. I think of him as one of the “Greatest Generation,” to use Tom Brokaw’s term. They grew up in the Depression, fought WWII, and came back to live in an ever-changing world.

The NY Times has also published an obituary of Mr. Gilbert.

There is an excellent retrospective and bibliography on the marvelous Pegasos site.

Old dogs


Rest in peace, little spirit. Run and play in the meadows of Heaven. Nap on God’s lap.

Until last month, all my life I had pets around the house – dogs, cats, or both. Usually more than one. When the inevitable parting came from a dog or cat, I could come home to the surviving one(s). But last month old Dusty went to the Rainbow Bridge, and I had no dog or cat to hug at home after that horribly hard trip to the vet. He was a rescued dog with, as they say, some issues. He lived with me for eleven years, issues and all. I’ve cried a river.

Too cold, too tired

So much for that shopping I said I would do. It’s been a bitterly cold day, so cold it makes me hate to be outdoors even for a minute. And I’ve been so tired from the past few weeks that after I kept my appointment to have my hair done, I pretty much came home and slept the rest of the afternoon.

In the last 5 weeks I’ve dealt with these things, listed in no particular order:

  • Getting an offer, which I accepted, for the sale of my townhouse – with a short time line to closing date
  • Scrambling to find people to do the work to get this condo ready to move into (complete paint job, installing sinks, toilets, light fixtures)
  • Buying all the appliances for the condo
  • Getting a moving company booked for the moving date
  • Deciding which furniture items in the old place would not come to the new place and then getting rid of them (my family really came through for me on this one)
  • Deciding which other things in the old place would not come over here and getting rid of them
  • Buying sinks, faucets, toilets, light fixtures, a ceiling fan, and other things for the condo to be installed by the handyman/contractor I did fortunately find
  • My old dog being put to sleep on January 11, and I’m still grieving
  • Two weeks before closing, during the buyer’s inspection of my townhouse, a bathtub drain failed, flooding the room below with water (and the buyer’s idiot inspector said it was caused by a toilet), meaning I had to rush home from work and get a plumber in to find and repair the problem, then a restoration contractor to dry out the flooded walls and ceiling and subfloor, then after it was dry (3 days later) repair and repaint the walls and ceiling
  • Showing up at work (!!) on a consistent basis (except for the 5 days leave I took during the final week of moving and closing the deal – and the emergency day for the flooding)
  • Car repairs
  • Packing all my stuff into boxes for moving day
  • Keeping previously scheduled doctors’ appointments – good news from the bone density scan, I’m ahead of my class as to healthy bones; bad news from the nerve conduction tests, I do have carpal tunnel syndrome to some degree
  • Closing the sale of my townhouse
  • Clearing out the rest of the junk in the townhouse after the closing and prior to the buyer’s possession deadline
  • Notifying all those companies of change of address, including insurance companies and banks
  • Getting cable TV and internet installed in the condo

I’m not so young anymore. Twenty years ago I might have pulled all that off without a hitch but not these days. I just looked at that list. I need another nap.


Suz at Large is going small. Downsizing the housing!

I moved a week ago Thursday (February 9) into the condo I’d bought last November, and then on Friday the 10th I closed the sale of my townhouse.

I spent last weekend moving more things out of the townhouse, miscellaneous things not packed by me in time for the movers to take, or left behind on purpose:

  • Four carloads of stuff were delivered as donations to charity shops.
  • At least six carloads of stuff were brought over here to the condo.

Phew! Very tiring, but I delivered possession of the townhouse to the buyer as per contract terms.

Now it’s Friday night and I have a three day weekend in which to start really unpacking all those boxes around here, and getting settled in.

This move means I have 1000 fewer square feet of finished living space. I also used to have a few hundred more square feet of unfinished but clean basement storage/laundry room, and an oversized two car garage – all prime spots for dumping things so that the living quarters could be clutter-free. I don’t have those spaces anymore.

I’m now living in a 1200 square foot condo, with a 3 x 5 foot storage closet down the hall from my unit, and a reserved space in the garage in the building basement level. Two bedrooms, one of which opens onto the living room through a wide doorway and is used as my study, and two small bathrooms. A laundry/utility room which is nice, and the 1200 square feet doesn’t include a large enclosed lanai (sounds Hawaiian, but I’m in the Rocky Mountain West) with a nice view of mountains to the west.

This is going to be interesting. I hope I haven’t made a huge mistake. This is a 1970’s era condo complex which is overall well maintained and the homeowners’ association is in good financial condition. They’ve just replaced the elevators in all 10 buildings without a special assessment, always a good sign, and there’s still lots of money in the reserve account.

I just hope some of these units on the market get bought by younger people. The average age around here is pretty high.

It’s not as nice as the place I just sold, by any means. The idea is that I’m cutting down on my housing costs and monthly overhead expenses, while staying in a part of town I like and having a nice place. This was a fixer upper unit, we tore out everything but the kitchen cabinets, and the shower and bathtub – and we refinished those! It is looking pretty good with all the renovations.

Well, except for the zillions of boxes stacked all over the place. Which is where we came in. A three day weekend to spend getting settled and sorted.