Friday, November 22, 2013

Don't Forget the Dog!

When I met Gene  last year, we shared many commonalities: We both loved to follow politics, we both lived in Florida and had both previously lived in South Jersey. She and I both had more than our share of funny moving stories. My favorite of Gene's stories were about her pup Patches.

Moving is comedic enough, but add a dog to the mix and you've got something between a Hallmark Original series and an after-school special. When I hear about Gene's moving adventures, I can picture Patches sitting there taking it all in.

After Gene read Home Sweet Homes, she sat down and wrote about her family's moving adventures, in which Patches took a starring role. You'll love her stories.

~ ~ ~

I have been enjoying your book and had quite a few laughs.  I used to say that I was going to write a book about one of our moves.

Foremost was the one from Maryland to North Carolina.  We got the final belongings out of the Maryland house, left the last key on the kitchen counter, locked the door and left - only to realize down the street a bit that we had forgotten Patches, our dog.  Our 5-year old said, "Mom, don't worry I can climb up the porch post, go into the house from the bedroom window, get Patches and come out."  We had no idea that he had done this before!

So, we made a last stop at a neighbor's home on the other side of our development, said our goodbyes, drove off and left Patches again!  Of course we returned and retrieved the dog and have quite a few more Patches stories to tell.

After living in an apartment for three months in Charlotte, North Carolina, while our new house was being finished in the Spring, we at long last moved into the home.  The Friday we were to finally move there was a small snowfall.  Of course everyone goes crazy down there when it snows.  Our moving van with all our household goods from the storage warehouse slid off the road and the driver decided it was far too dangerous to continue to the homesite, so they went back to the warehouse.

We meanwhile had moved our clothes, etc. out of the temporary apartment and had notified the utility companies to turn off the electricity, etc.  At this point we had no alternative but to return to the apartment for the weekend.  We managed to survive that weekend by running an extension cord from the neighbor's apartment next door so that we could have lights in our apartment.

And I forgot to tell you that the powder blue carpet which we had specially ordered from the mill in Eden, NC, had arrived defective.  The installers had rolled the carpet out in the street after they had installed the underlayment when they discovered the defects.  So we had to have plywood laid over the foam rubber underlayment before the furniture could be brought in. We lived like this for several months until our new carpet was ready from the mill and installed.  Only then did we realize that everytime Patches went out of the house we had to wipe all four paws upon his return because our sod had not been laid in the yard and the soil was red clay.  We also discovered that the builder had failed to install shims between the columns which supported the house and the floor joists, so the house shook when Patches walked across the kitchen floor.

Like you, we have had many moves and were able to stay in the North Carolina house only a year.  We left with me crying all the way to Moorestown, New Jersey. and have moved three times since for a total lifetime ownership of seven single-family homes and some condos added.

 ~ ~ ~

Poor Patches! Sometimes I wonder what these dogs think of us, moving all over the place.  Now it’s Your Move! Tell us your funny moving stories at  And don't forget to send in photos, too! 


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

How to Intimidate Your Movers


My friend Barb, who I've known since we were both nearly in diapers, is a savvy, single, sophisticated woman. But intimidating she is not. At the end of the day she's from Ohio, and as a Buckeye State native myself, I can tell you we are born with the honesty gene and the down-to-earth gene, but not an intimidation gene.

So when Barb was moving, her moving crew was - to put it gently - from the other side of the tracks. There were four of them and even fewer teeth among them. Barb was alone and just a little bit intimidated by her moving crew. Wanting to appear as menacing as she could, Barb did what any enterprising woman would do: She talked in a New York accent.

"So they would be afraid of me," she recalled. "How silly."

Barb also tipped the movers way more than she should have "so they would think I was a real New Yorker."

"They probably laughed all the way to the liquor store," she said.

 What's your funny moving story? Send us a note at


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Quest to Declutter by Patricia Petro


Have you ever looked around a room in your house and wondered, How in heaven’s name did I ever accumulate so much stuff?

Everywhere you look, there’s something to see; and much of it is just sitting on shelves and tables or in cabinets, unused and untouched, except for the times when you have to move it to dust.

Maybe the thought occurs to you when it comes time to pack for a move. Suddenly, your books fill ten boxes. The good china has to be bubble-wrapped and packed with extra care. Crystal stemware, rarely used, is a bothersome worry. Kitchen gadgets galore and drawers full of miscellaneous little things get carelessly dumped into boxes for sorting through later. Pots and pans, wall hangings, lamps, and linens . . . the list goes on and on and the packing feels as though it will never end. And then, of course, there’s all that furniture.

“It takes living without it to realize how clutter affects your life and takes away from your freedom and creativity. I am reminded of that every time I walk into my kitchen and, instead of seeing a cluttered counter,
I see sunlight streaming in from the kitchen window.” —Courtney Carver, Be More With Less

It happened to me

During my last move I was so overwhelmed by all the stuff I owned, it took months for me just to channel the energy I needed to start packing. I kept telling myself, Simplify simplify simplify . . . use this move to purge the stuff you don’t really want or need.

To make a long story short, I didn’t purge much of anything and decided, instead, to purge as I unpacked.

Tom and I had bought a house and were moving in. With our children grown and on their own, it was just the two of us. We didn’t need a lot of space—a smaller house was a perfect fit. We were, however, combining two households, each with over twenty-five years worth of furniture, furnishings, files, household items, clothes, electronics, garden supplies, tools, toys, a cat and a dog. You name it, we had it . . . and, in many cases, we had duplicates of the same things. It was a lot of stuff to unpack. Finding room for it all was impossible.

There’s nothing wrong with having a lot of stuff, if that’s how you want to live. It wasn’t, however, part of my master plan.

This move was going to be a fresh start for us, a new beginning. I wanted our little house on the lake to be an inviting, restful retreat. Clean . . . serene . . . relaxing. As lovely as any of the model homes we had visited during our quest to find the perfect house. With just enough furniture to make it comfortable. And no clutter anywhere.

Decluttering is easy as 1-2-3 . . . but you have to be ruthless

1. Start small with a drawer or closet.

2. Decide to either keep an item or sell it. If you can’t sell the item or give it away, toss it.

3. If something is tugging on your heartstrings, put it in a box. Write the date on the box and store it for a year. If you haven’t opened the box within a year, get. rid. of. it.
Let the purging begin.

Patricia Petro writes the book on empty nesting every day with her website Our Empty Nest. Her motto? "Living simply. Simply living well." She and her husband, Tom, enjoy a drama-free, clutter-free life of two happy-go-lucky empty nesters. Her website offers recipes for two, decorating your home, simple living and "simply living well."


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Picture Frame Says a Thousand Words


Guest blog by Dawnyel BowersoxDo It All Moms Blog

We love to ask people about their best - or worst - memories from moving. Some of those memories you have to block. We understand. I'm pretty sure I've blocked a bunch of moving memories, because I can't remember driving our 80-pound Akita from Kentucky to Florida with a car full of kids, suitcases, and random boxes of liquids and flammables. I mean, honestly, I can't remember a single thing about the trip, so I can only assume that there were nasty restrooms, bad junk food and some road rage involved. 

Dawnyel Bowersox, who has a cool moms' website full of fun, contests and coupons, has a story that we're glad is still fresh in her memory. It involves her mother-in-law, so you'll definitely want to read this.


Newly married and moving into our first house, my husband was given a precious gift from his mother.  My Mother in-law. It was a collage type frame filled with time line photos of him ranging from birth up until he got married.  Such a nice and thoughtful idea.

When my mother in-law presented my husband with the frame she looked directly at me and said "Do NOT let anything happen to this photo frame,  this is the one thing I have been able to keep for him throughout the years."

I kind of took offense to that statement.  She was speaking to me as if I was going to break it. I assumed it was a family heirloom that it needed to be kept safe.

Finally settled into our new home, I began to  unpack and hang all of our photos on the wall. 
I made it down to the famous photo frame that my mother in-law had given to us.  I will admit, it was adorable.  I took it out to hang it and bang.  Yup, I dropped it.  The horror that was going through my mind.  My mother in-law was going to have a fit.  I broke the precious frame she had given her baby boy.  She will never forgive me, what am I going to do?  She will be here in the morning to help finish the unpacking.

Panic mode set in.  My first task as a daughter in-law and I completely failed.  I began tossing things out of boxes in a desperate search for super glue.  I was going to glue that baby back together and she would never know!  I had things strung from one end of the house to the other, literally.  I was sparing no item.  Why didn't I organize the boxes better, why can't I find the freaking super glue, why did she look directly at me and tell ME not to break the frame?

After a good 30 minutes of looking I did find the glue, I am pretty sure the heavens opened and I heard singing when I spotted the glue in the office supply box.  Why didn't I look there to begin with?   Frantically grabbing the glue and the frame I prepped for a painstaking photo frame procedure.  I was going to revive this frame if it was the last thing I did.

I laid the patient down on the dining room table, as I began to open it up it wasn't wanting to come apart.  So I yanked on it to get to the inside.  A picture frame can  say 1,000 words. What I saw was shocking!  There was hot glue everywhere inside the frame.  It was apparent that someone ELSE had previously broken the frame and did a poor job of fixing it.

If I confronted my mother in law, she would know I broke the frame.  If I didn't mention it to her I would go on wondering what the heck for the rest of my life.  I decided to be honest and tell the truth, not because it was the right thing to do, but because I wanted to know what the deal with the hot glue was. Curiosity got the best of me.

When my mother in-law got here the next day I came clean, but not without questioning the hot glue.  Her response.."Oh yeah I have dropped and broken that thing a few times, the last time I dropped it all I had was hot glue."

What?...WHAT???  I told her I thought it was a family heirloom and how sorry I was.  Her response was NOT shocking at all, and I do not know why I did not realize this in the beginning.  The photos were the precious items she did not want ruined, not the frame.  Well in a nut shell.."DUH."  That was the only thought in my head at that point.. DUH, DUH,  DUH.

Dawnyel Bowersox, in addition to having a cool name, runs Do It All Moms Blog.  Find money-saving tips, deals and coupon match-ups at "Read my ridiculous ramblings and product reviews. Watch for giveaways, twitter parties, recipe and DIY ideas.  We make doing it all fun!"


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Getting the Cold Shoulder in the New 'Hood

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Remember when I locked myself out of the house right after taking possession of our house? That story brought out hilarious stories from people who were nice enough to make me feel like I wasn't alone.

Laura, mom of two boys, who has a bunch of moves under her belt, had moved all over the country, then to Hawaii and then to Kentucky. It was her move to Eagle River, Alaska, that left her locked out of her house in the dead of a freezing cold winter.

Here's what happened:

"So . . . what happened to me was that I was to move into my new home in Alaska in early December. I really didn't know the first thing about the house - I was completely unfamiliar with the house, the doors, lights, locks, etc. - but I got to the house around 0730 because the movers were to be here around 0800 to deliver my household goods.

I was a tad bit bored so I saw a broom on my deck and decided to brush it off since I knew my grill would go out there. The door to the deck had a little lock in the handle but I didn't think twice because I was able to open it without changing the lock. I try to go back in and find it locked.

Of course I didn't have a hat or gloves, not to mention a coat on and it was in the teens. Luckily there was snow on the ground because I had to get off the balcony. It was at least a 9 foot drop. I lowered myself down and then dropped the remainder of the way.
Of course it's pitch black outside (but for the light from the snow) and I know NO ONE in the hood. I went to one neighbor who just looked at me like I was crazy. The other let me try to find a locksmith though no one would answer their phone. Next up was the fire station. Shortly after I called, the other neighbor came back to tell me he happened to have a key from the previous owner. All this occurred thank goodness before the movers actually arrived. Ugh! Just the memories!!"


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Just Visiting . . .

Ladies, remember when you first got married and moved in with your significant other? Besides having to learn to live with a boy, you had to adjust to a major move and lifestyle change, possibly the biggest life adjustment you would ever experience.

Most of us have blocked that tumultuous time in our lives, but my memories came flooding back when I heard Diane's story.

"Everything in the house was brand new for both of us,  so consequently I carried my pocketbook from room to room because I never felt as if I were 'home.' This lasted for about five months until my girlfriend brought it to my attention. By that time I felt more at home, but when we moved five years later (with two kids and a LOT more stuff), I was lucky if I could find my pocketbook, much less carry it back and forth."

I'm picturing Diane walking from her bedroom to her kitchen . . . in her pajamas . . . carryin' her purse . . . There's a lot to be done, you never know when you're going to need a lipstick and some cash.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

It's Your Move!

LOGO Itsyourmove

Hi movers and shakers!

When I wrote Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves I knew I wasn't the only one who had lived a slapstick comedy when moving. I've been amazed and amused at the stories I hear from others. My book readers often say, "You should hear what happened to me!"

So let's hear it! If you're a blogger or writer, I'd love for you to guest-blog here and tell Home Sweet Homes readers about your funny moving stories. And if you're not a writer, just tell me your tale and I'll take it from there.

Send your stories to me at

It's Your Move!

If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Welcome to New Joisey


When Lori moved her family from Corning in upstate New York, to New Jersey, the adjustment was especially tough for her three daughters. A fifth grader and a freshman and junior in high school, the kids weren't exactly thrilled with having to leave their friends, school and attachments 200 miles behind.

So it was Lori who had to bear the brunt of the move, and it was Lori who had to untangle every snag that came their way. (It's a Mom Thing. It's what we do.)

Lori was able to look back and laugh at some of the situations she and her family found themselves in. Here's her story:

"Two stories from this move come to mind. We stayed at a hotel the day we had to move out of our house in New York and we snuck in our two cats. When were down at the pool the one cat pooped in the hotel room under the bed and it stunk to high heaven. We were not allowed to bring pets into the hotel so we had to sneak them in and I was freaking out because I was worried that the smell would permeate through the hallway.

The second story was a nightmare. We were on our way to the closing in Sparta in torrential downpours. I was driving our minivan with our youngest in the front seat because all our stuff that didn't fit in the moving van was piled to the ceiling. We had one cat. My husband was driving the other two and second cat. We had to leave the fish and two geckos at friends' houses for the next trip back. The mortgage company called me on my cell while I was trying to get to closing to ask what two large deposits were in our checking account. Really?? Two hours before closing!! They were business travel expense reimbursements from my husband's new company because it's a small company and that is how they pay out for travel.

Needless to say, we never closed that day and had to pay 'rent' to the owner of the house we were buying.  We finally closed two days later - the day before the 4th of July to be exact. We sat in the attorney's office and both our attorney and the sellers attorney were bickering about the way funds were being transferred in their Jersey accents while my husband and I just sat there. I felt like we were in a mafia movie. Then when all was settled they said to us, 'Welcome to New Jersey"!!! Haha!!!"


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Friday, September 13, 2013

If There Was a Key to Happiness I'd Probably Forget It

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Cigarettes. Glasses. Money.

That was my mom’s recitation before she left the house. Those were the things she couldn’t be without when she went into Loblaw’s or Lawsons or Guy’s Drug Store.

After locking myself out of my house twice in two months since moving here, I’ve had lots of time to think about why Keys weren’t on my mom’s exit list.

It’s actually simple: She never locked the doors to the house, and her car keys were in the car. Even when the greenhouse across the street was robbed and Ed and Mrs. Owen were tied up and their house ransacked for egg money. Even when a prison moved in 2 miles down the road. Even when Ed’s Greenhouse was robbed again. And if by chance my mom did lock all the doors in the house when she left? She could just grab the keys that were in her car. The unlocked car. In the driveway. Two miles from the prison. Across the street from the robby place.

Obviously the time and place in which I live now is just a little bit different than Hubbard, Ohio, in the 1960s and ‘70s. It seems that each time I move, I get further away from Hubbard, both geographically and Mayberry-spiritually.

In my most recent move, before I could even put on my list Find place to hide house key I had already locked myself out of the house. It happened right after I was handed the keys by our Realtor after the final closing. He met me in our apartment parking lot and handed me a bottle of champagne and a white envelope full of five house keys. I was so excited to get into the house and walk through it without being followed around by someone in a jacket holding brochures that I threw some stuff in the car and drove right over there.

My first time pulling the car into such a narrow driveway on such a busy street was made more complicated by the three garbage cans lying willy nilly and in my path. So after going into the house, setting up the wine and wine glasses on a scarf on the living room floor in front of the fireplace (nice touch, I know. Thank you.) I decided to go out and put the garbage cans back in their place.

The fact that I did not leave my cell phone lying on the fireplace mantel with all five house keys was God’s way of saying Oh crap, Diane, you’ve just answered my question Can you be any more stupid?  The answer being, Yes, I could have also left my cell phone in the house.
Did I have a key hidden? Did I know a neighbor who might have had a key? Did I know a neighbor period? Nope to all of the above.

So I called my Realtor, who was in a meeting with an almost dead cell phone, but he managed to get me a locksmith, who came and opened the house for me. Because, you know, there were no other keys that the sellers held back for later middle-of-the-night break-ins.

After that debacle, I was afraid to leave the house for fear I would get locked out. I walked around with four keys in my hand, reasoning that if one of them fell, one of them vaporized, and one of them teleported to a parallel universe, I would still have a key to get into the house.

We eventually came up with an emergency lock-out plan, but by then I was obsessed about where the extra spare keys should go. Their placement - their very existence - became as crucial as if I were given the holy grail inside the ark of the covenant and asked to hang on to it for a sec while an epic battle was fought. Or something.

For about an hour I walked around the house trying to figure out what to do with the other spare keys. Took me at least 45 minutes to conclude that of all the places in the galaxy, the single worst place to put your spare house key is anywhere inside the house. So deciding which drawer to put them in was a big waste of time.

And after all that obsessing, I still locked myself out again. Next time, I’m going to be sure to at least have cigarettes, glasses and money, so I can walk down to the sidewalk cafe and have a drink and a smoke.

If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Even Barbie is Moving


Have you heard the news? Barbie is moving! I know I’m always saying that everyone moves eventually, but when I heard the this news, I must admit, I was a little surprised. I mean, honestly, she’s putting on the market a house with a mirror that pulls down and becomes a bistro table? That’s gotta be tough.

But it’s true. Barbie is moving. Evidence: I was walking along the Embarcadero looking at t-shirts and jewelry with my daughter and son when I saw what looked like a pink moonbounce that could hold the U.S. House of Representatives. What Barbie madness can this be? I asked myself. Then I saw the sign.

“I’m gonna have to go in here,” I apologized to the kids. I talked to the Hashtag Barbie Is Moving doorman/bouncer and he told me to register and I could get in and also qualify for the big drawing for a free Barbie dream house “for your daughter.”  (He gets points for not saying “for your granddaughter.”)

“But where is she moving?” I asked, more concerned about Barbie’s mental health and stress cardiomyopathy than a free dream house. We had already donated our old Barbie dream house to the Jenkins kids across the street before moving to Florida. I didn’t need another one. I’m running out of girly girls in my life.

“We’ll announce it Labor Day,” Barbie’s bouncer said. “We’re doing this national tour and then we’re going to announce it. Would you like to guess where she’s moving?”

Are you kidding? Of course I want to guess where Barbie is moving. But first I had to ask, “Where does she live now?”

“Uh, Malibu.” His eyes added, duh!

Right. The tan, the long blond hair, the fake boobs, the fake . . . everything, what was I thinking?

I know for sure she’s not going to move to San Francisco. An in-state move would be so anticlimactic. Plus she wouldn’t last 15 minutes in those stiletto mules walking up our hills from her job at the veterinary clinic/ airport/ school/ bank/ pediatrician’s office/ hospital/ NASA space station.  According to this Vogue article Barbie has held down 125 jobs. Moving to the Bay would require foot reconstruction surgery so she could wear ballet flats, and the last time I checked, she can’t have built up enough vacation or sick time, with all the job hopping she does.

I’m going to say Barbie is moving to the Midwest. Her publicists have most likely ruled out the South for being too politically divisive, although one of those Southern belle accents would suit her. She’s definitely not relocating to the East Coast; New York Barbie is so expected it’s almost cliche. (On the NYC part of her tour? I hear she spent a lot of time at the Pleasure Chest in the West Village, if you get my drift.) And you can forget Alaska or Hawaii. Non-mainland Americans don’t have enough collective enthusiasm to deserve to be Barbieville. And let's get real: The woman lives on wedding cake and champagne. The Alaskans would probably put her to work on a fishing boat. And what shoes, in God’s name, would she wear then?

No, I’m convinced it’s the Midwest. It’s the only place in the U.S. where she can afford a house with a walk-in closet and a man cave for Ken.

So the big announcement is set for Monday. The tour, which started in June and ends Sunday in Newport Beach, California, is not only “pinktastic,” it’s full of other cringe-worthy quips.  Your daughter will look “a-doll-able as the new Barbie BFF!”  “Join Barbie on her dolltastic road trip.” “Your Barbie girl will yell OMG . . .” Can you imagine how exhausted Barbie must be, after a summer of grinning through all the Toys R Us stores, Walmarts and KMarts across North America, and that’s before she even starts her house-hunting, staging her Malibu place for that killer market, packing, inspections, and filling out all those home mortgage forms.

Based on my experience, which as you know is vast, she's gonna need to prepare herself mentally and physically for this move. I think it's time to open up that little plastic bottle of wine and fill up that tiny wine glass.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

She WILL Have Her Burger

Home Sweet Homes friend and fan Janine, who is involved in a move of her own right now - and I mean right now, as in, while I write this she's probably forgetting to pack something -  read my chapter about temporary living and, as expected, topped my stories.

Remember when I talked about how I failed miserably at choosing what to take to the temporary apartment and what to send into storage? It takes a special kind of fail to break apart something and take one piece and not take the other pieces.

Read Janine's story:

"Okay, okay. Redneck grilling.  When we moved to our temporary home in the resort we only brought the bare minimum because the home we are staying in has most everything we need. It is a fully stocked and supplied three bedroom home that you might remember belongs to Steven's parents and we have vacationed here in the past.

So, yeah - we didn't need a lot and most of our stuff is in storage.  Even our grill.  Except, oddly. . .the grill pan to that grill moved here with us.  Just the grill pan. [Fitz you can stop laughing now.  I just kept picturing your temporary moves as I stared that grill pan down.]"

Yep. The grill body, the grate - nothing moved with us except the pan that holds the smoker chips.  Whatever. We made hamburgers anyway.  I am nothing if not resourceful.  I keep good company. Women, like you, that teach me to make do or do without.

And I wasn't doing without grilled hamburgers on Sunday."

 Redneck Grill

Looks to me like pieces of broken up asphalt and a cookie cooling rack. We are talking Resourceful with a capital RESOURCEFUL.

What did you forget to take to a temporary apartment, and what MacGyver moves did it bring out in you?


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Moving Fish Tail

Tracy of Buffalo, New York, read our story about Lipstick, who lost his groove and his color during our move from Illinois to New Jersey, it reminded her of her moving saga with her daughter’s goldfish Jerry.

“I have to share with you the story of Jerry (partner of Tom who died almost immediately) the 50-cent goldfish Lucy got for successful completion of potty training. We emptied most of the water out of the 10-gallon aquarium in our second-to-last move, but left just enough for him to swim inside the hard plastic Little Mermaid figurine Lucy placed in there to keep him company. (The kind that sits on top of Disney Princess themed bubble bath.) The thing had fallen onto its side so he had a nice dark place to hide while getting sloshed around in our back seat.

Since Lucy had school the next morning, I had to get her ready and so never really noticed what the fish was up to. But of course she saw it on her way out the door that next morning. I figured he had gone in there to end it all and rushed her out of the door assuring her he was only sleeping, prepared to deal with breaking the news later.

By the time I got back the stereo/TV guys were there to set everything up and once I pointed them in the right direction, I went over to deal with the task of scooping Jerry up for his final flush. But of course I discovered the little bugger was still alive and just stuck, and I mean STUCK, in the Little Mermaid and he desperately wanted out.

What ensued was about an hour and a half of trying to pull a slippery as hell goldfish out of a very inflexible plastic toy. The stereo install guys ended up getting involved, and oddly emotionally attached to the fish. It was like a whole other sort of Disney movie at this point with the heroic pet rescue theme. It took a variety of tools and time that was costing me at least $75 an hour for the glorified AV guys, but Jerry got out of there, a few scales less and a little short on the dorsal fin, but by God he made it and lived at least another year (during which I never cleaned his tank once.)

Toughest fish EVER.

Had to share after reading about Lipstick.”


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Doggone Move

I have to give a tip of my hat to my dog, Abby, who has survived a coast-to-coast move and is seemingly adjusted to her new life. Poor Abby started out as a neglected and abandoned hunting dog in South Carolina, then moved to Florida where she rocked suburbia, was introduced to the ocean, neighborhood litter and lizards invading her space.

Then, as still a young pup, she was packed into a huge dog crate and flown across the country to the big city. She was introduced to eating dead crabs from the Bay, sniffing the sleeping homeless guys in the park, and peeing on the sidewalk.

And last night she visited a movie set around the corner from our house.
My husband was taking her on the fourth-shift walk when they stumbled on a scene from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. One of the security guys took a shine to Abby and even walked her around a little bit.

The movie comes out in 2014 and stars Kerri Russell and Gary Oldman. It’s about a “group of scientists in San Francisco who are struggling to stay alive in the aftermath of a plague that is wiping out humanity, while Caesar tries to maintain dominance over his community of intelligent apes.” The guy in charge of foliage, who I talked to this morning when I strolled down there with my coffee, told me that most of it was filmed in New Orleans, where they could block off whole neighborhoods willy nilly without city officials getting on their case. But to make it look San Francisco-y, they had to shoot some scenes here.

Abby is jazzed about this and has put the original Planet of the Apes on our Netflix queue so she can get some background.

Living on the same block as the filming of a movie about an animal species that takes over the world is just one of the things that make Abby’s move here worthwhile.

Getting her here was a feat. We had to join an alliance with Pet Relocation, a company that specializes in moving your animals. They did a great job, as far as I know. Like all dog-related services, you can’t rely on your dog to tattle-tale. Who’s going to tell if they just pushed her on the plane without eye contact or a Milk Bone?

We’ve moved other pets - dogs, aquatic frogs who celebrated the move by eating each other, and Lipstick, our goldfish who was immortalized in Home Sweet Homes. But their moves were always by car. Putting a dog on a plane is concerning.

My husband was slightly distressed when we were saying our goodbyes to her in Florida.

“Be a good girl and we’ll see you soon,” he said, giving her a full-body hug.

“We’ll see you on the other side!” I said, cheerfully. “I mean - um - ...”

Tim looked at me with horror. “Don’t say that!” he hissed, covering Abby’s ears. “You may as well have mentioned the rainbow bridge!”

All of his worrying was for naught - we think. Our only clue was that when she got out of the van her tail was wagging, which means it was still attached and her heart was still beating, so I labeled the whole operation a success.

For what it cost us to move her, my husband and I both could have flown first class to China and back. With Go-Go Inflight and cocktails. But it was totally worth it, because we have quite possibly the only Treeing Walker Coonhound South Carolina hunting dog in Nob Hill.


If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I'm New in Town So Naturally I Wanted to Spend the Day at the DMV

I had such high hopes. My hopes were as high as Coit Tower. My hopes were higher than the hill I have to walk up to take my dog to the park (which is high, just ask her, that panting dog-breath machine). My hopes were as high as the guy who sat next to me on the bus last week, one of the people who didn’t get the memo that the Summer of Love ended more than four decades ago.

I had called ahead to the California DMV to clarify a couple of things before I made the trip out there to get my California title, registration and license plates for my car. I was thrilled to little pieces when I found out that in California, you get an appointment, an actual day and time that is reserved for you at the DMV. I let myself entertain the possibility that instead of gray plastic chair hell, all flavors of BO, and long waits just to be told I didn’t do it right, that I might be escorted to a DMV teller by a smiling man in a jacket and tie, that I might be able to rate my experience on Yelp.

I wanted to make sure I was doing it right, because not doing it right causes fatigue, headache, irritable bowel and sexual side effects. I speak from experience. I had already registered my cars in six states. So I embarked on my seventh state of car ownership by opening up a big can of smug.

When I called, the guy was all laid back California.

“Your website doesn’t address the issue of in-person registration,” I said, reading off of my typed list. “If the car is in my husband’s name, does he have to be physically present to register the car?” I did not mention that I forge his signature better than he does. Or that we’ve been married so long that we are starting to look alike, so a quick trip to Supercuts and I could probably pass as him.

“Nah, you can do it for him,” the guy said. “It’s all good.”

“OK, so about this inspection,” I continued. “Do I get the inspection first and then go to my appointment? Do I need another appointment for the inspection?”

“Nah, you’re good. Just come for your appointment and they’ll take care of ya.”

I love living in California, I said to myself. This is going to be so great. My book, Home Sweet Homes, devotes the bulk of a chapter to my experiences at the DMV. I used to think you could judge a state by their libraries, but truth be told, a state can only be as good as the way they treat their newcomers with cars. I figured if I lived through New Jersey, I could certainly handle California.

Nevertheless, when I got in the car to head off to my appointment, my stomach was in knots. By the time I pulled into the parking lot, I was nauseous with fear that the California DMV was going to discover my old speeding tickets, my two DUIs, the fact that I stole the car, the body in the trunk, and that annoying vehicular homicide I have on my record. None of those things exist, but that didn’t keep me from worrying myself sick that I was going to get caught for doing something wrong. For not doing it right.

There’s got to be a hitch, I thought. You can’t just walk into the DMV with an appointment and get your license plates without some complication.

That’s right. You can’t.

First, I saw the long line of people snaking around the building. But I thought we all had appointments.

Second, I saw a line of cars presumably in line for inspections. But I thought we didn’t need an appointment for that and it would all go swimmingly, I thought.

Third, I couldn’t find a parking spot. After 10 minutes of being third in line of a parade-speed line of cars circling the parking lot waiting for someone to come out and move, I left the parking lot and found street parking. The fact that in 10 minutes no one came out of the DMV was concerning. I wanted to say to the people in line, “You might eventually get in there, but you’re never coming out. Run! Run for your lives!”

Fourth, when I got into the building the first thing I saw was a sign that announced that fighting with a DMV employee was a federal offense. Not a good sign, literally.

Fifth, I got yelled at by a guy who wouldn’t answer my question as to which inside line I was supposed to get into. But . . . but I have  . . . but I have an ap . . . but I have an appoi . . But I have an appointment! I said in the non-serial killer voice that I’ve been practicing.

Sixth, after getting called up to the window, I was told to go back outside, get my car and get the inspection. Got in that line just in time for the late-morning break, when all of the DMV inspectors apparently went home for hot lunch and a nap, but eventually got the inspection, and had to park illegally to go back inside.

Seventh, got a new number, and then waited, the whole time worrying that now I actually had done something illegal. The relief of finally getting my California license plates was nothing compared to seeing that my car had not been towed.

My husband is about to go to the DMV to get his California driver’s license.

“Hey, could you check that out for me?” he asked. “Let me know what I have to do and what to take and what's involved.”

“It’s all good,” I told him. “Just go in and they’ll take care of ya.”

What, I should be the only one to suffer?

If you like Diane's humorous take on moving, you'll love her book Home Sweet Homes: How Bundt Cakes, Bubble Wrap, and My Accent Helped Me Survive Nine Moves.