Reducing Our Footprint and Maintaining Minimalism

For the last few years Alan and I have been trying to reduce our footprint. We decided to adopt a minimalist lifestyle that would work well with our retirement plan of living abroad. Our apartment here is furnished and we only needed few “essential” items, some of which we can leave here when we go. Essential like a corkscrew, which is totally essential in France!

We started in August of 2011 while in our 1500 sq. ft., 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with a 2 car garage and sizable backyard while getting it ready to sell. In November of 2011 we moved to a 735 sq. ft. apartment in Sparks where we stayed until March 31 of 2013 when we moved into our current apartment in Carcassonne, France which is approximately 550 sq. ft.

The first step when we began minimizing the house in Sparks was to identify the items we would bring with us to the apartment after the house sold. They included the dining room set, the wine cabinets, a small bookcase, our clothing, computers, cameras, a few dozen travel books, about six language books and a few books on crochet and knitting, and a sizable library of DVDs (about 150) and CDs (about 90), some of the paintings, a flat screen tv, and five Rubbermaid tubs full of photos. We kept some of the kitchen items, the newest set of dishes, a couple of favorite coffee mugs and soup bowls. Our living room furniture wouldn’t fit through the door of the apartment, so that was gifted to my sister. Along with nearly all our serving ware and kitchen appliances. Some of the other furniture and wall decor were re-homed with kids and other family.

In all, it took two 6 cubic yard dumpsters, a 14 cubic yard dumpster and a 10′ U-haul to rid ourselves of the rest of the “stuff” we had stockpiled.

For the apartment in Sparks we ended up purchasing a full-sized bed, mattress, and bedding, a couch and entertainment center, two end tables and two coffee tables, a second flat screen tv, tv stand, two night stands, a cane/umbrella stand, new cookware, flatware, water and wine glasses, toaster, blender, and two cutting boards . . . all of which we purchased at IKEA with the exception of the couch which we bought in Reno at a furniture discounter. All of this to make the apartment livable for the 17 months we would be in it.

The last three months in the Sparks apartment were used to minimize for our relocation to France. We took a hard look at what we felt was essential for our move to France. Camera and computer equipment, definitely a must. We both have cameras, I prefer Nikon while Alan favors Olympus. We upgraded Alan’s camera, both picked up a second camera, smaller and waterproof, and selected camera bags that fit our individual preferences. Extra batteries and larger SD cards were purchased for both of us as well.

We both have Macbooks, I also have a basic Kindle reader, iPad, iPod Touch, and iPod shuffle, Alan, in addition to his Macbook, has a netbook, Kindle Fire, iTouch, and iPhone. Essential for me as well was a small graphic tablet. We both purchased cable cases to handle the overflow of cabling that comes with having so many devices. In addition, each of us has a 500 GB backup for personal files and a 1 TB backup for our individual photos and design stuff. These also have cases and cables.

All books were scanned to PDF using our Doxie Go. All 12,000 hard copy family photos were scanned and saved. The photos were then separated and distributed to the kids. The PDF books work great on our Kindles and the digital copies of the photos are now stored on a 500 GB backup drive.  Our CD collection was integrated into our personal iTunes libraries. The DVD collection was run through a DVD Ripper software and is now housed on a second 500 GB backup drive. There is room on both the Photo and Movie/Music backups to add more if it is needed.

For clothing we decided on eight outfits each, tennis shoes, socks and stuff, and a jacket, Alan brought a rain coat, lightweight jacket and a pair of dress shoes as things that fit someone who is 6’4″ tall are not always as easy to find. I brought a few pieces of jewelry, a small framed wallet-sized photo of my Mom and Dad and one of our dog, Max.

By the time we stepped onto the plane for France we had gone from a 3 bedroom house full of “stuff” to one 29″ upright, one 28″ upright, two wheeled carry-ons, and two personal carry-on items – under 200 lbs. of “stuff.”

We’ve been in France over a year now and have not missed any of our old “stuff.” Our furnished apartment has nearly everything we need, including a hair dryer. We have picked up a few things –like the corkscrew — a small printer, a couple of drawer organizers, a few hangers, three fleece blankets, a French press and mortar and pestle. Well, and the gear we purchased for our Camino trip. The backpacks have become in very handy for other travels as well as shopping day.

We now recycle as much as possible, France is a very green country and everyone here recycles. You bring your own bags to the store, market, bread store and we have a few of those now as well. There are 3 trash bins at the end of our block, one for glass, one for plastic and one for other trash. They empty into large underground bins which are emptied twice a week. The bins are free to use, unlike recycling in our old neighborhood, and we often see people walking the extra distance to use them. Even folks from our neighborhood restaurants can be seen carrying boxes full of empty wine bottles to the recycle bin.

In Sparks we used to fill up a 30 gallon trash bag three times a week – mostly take-out containers. Here in France we will fill a 20 liter bag once a week, mostly vegetable waste from cooking and newspaper from housebreaking the dog.

As you can see, it’s a work in progress. With each move we strive to “need” less things and these days seriously discuss our need vs. want tendencies before making a purchase. We don’t miss the “stuff” of our pre-retirement life. It’s been an eye-opening realization that we can live without the things we used to think were essential to happiness and just concentrate on being happy instead.

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The last of our “stuff” from our Sparks apartment, being re-homed to our son
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Digitizing all 12,000 of our hard copy photos
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Our lives minimized to the essentials when leaving Reno

Our Carcassonne Home

This post is mostly for my mom, so she can see where we are living!

Our apartment here in Carcassonne is approximately 550 square feet, maybe a little bigger. So as I sit here listening to “Good Life” by One Republic I thought I would post a few photos of our home here in Carcassonne, France.

This first image is not to scale, just a general layout of the apartment that I threw together in Photoshop.

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The apartment is roughly a square and there isn’t a ton of insulation so you do hear the neighbors from time to time, but after living with eight kids noises don’t really bother us anymore! However, you can also hear the church bells from St. Nazaire in Le Cite and from St. Michael’s down the street. It’s a happy sound and one that I fell in love with while we were in Italy, although the bells in Italy are much, much louder!

In addition to the church bells, we had the added treat of someone playing the sax with gusto late last night. But these are comfort noises and we had no trouble sleeping.

Most buildings in our area date from the late 15th to early 16th Century but we do not have an exact date on when our building was built. We do know that the interior was nearly completely gutted and remodeled about 5 years ago. The new owner, our landlord Jason Carr, did a fantastic job keeping as many of the original details as he could salvage. The handrail on the staircase is original to the building and was handcrafted to fit the narrow space a long time ago.

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In addition to the handrail, nearly half of the ceiling in our apartment as well as the two big beams are also original to the building. They were repainted in the original whitewash color (which has a slightly blueish tint). One section also has three of the original nails, hand hammered and looking a bit like large horseshoe nails.

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There is a city council group that deals with renovating old buildings and they check that anything that can be seen from the street is restored or as near to period as is possible to achieve when someone renovates an old building in the Ville Basse. We are lucky to be in the front apartment and therefore have some of the original ceiling and beams in our apartment.

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In the living room the furniture is mostly from IKEA, but it’s solid and comfortable, a lot of blue which Alan loves and the minimalist approach to filling the apartment works well for me as I have an issue with clutter. There is a flat-screen tv with both French and UK satellite channels, but we rarely turn it on. The couch converts into a double bed for guests which will be useful in the near future. The windows in both the living room and bedroom have small window seats and large shutters than can be fully open to allow passive solar, closed part way for privacy or even closed fully to keep out the hot summer sun. We love that the shutters here are practical and not just a design feature.

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We did set up Kiara’s stuff in front of the heater. Our poor little girl hardly has any hair and is not a real fan of tile floors, so keeping her from shivering is a constant battle. But she loves, loves, loves the rug, even though it’s practically magenta in color, so much for her taste in decor.

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She also has her own little espresso cup for water and a travel container for her dry food – which she rarely eats.

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The dresser is in the living room, which we both thought odd at first. I added some of the pillows from the couch to break up the white on white color, a couple of photos I brought with me (the small one on the left of the pillow is my Mom and Dad, on the right is our Max), a knick knack that my mom got me before we left about daughters, and we use the vase to store wine bottle corks!

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However, since the dresser serves as a place to store camera/photo equipment cords and backup drives (first full width drawer), our bath stuff (top left), Kiara’s closet (top right), the “overflow” drawer (bottom) as well as a dresser for socks and stuff, it’s becoming less of an oddity than it was on day one.

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There is a bookcase that we use to house our laptops and camera stuff next to the dining room table and next to the dresser.

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The bathroom shares the wall in the dining room and is surprisingly spacious for a European bath. The corner shower allows more space than we anticipated. Our hotel in Florence in 2011 made taking a shower an epic event, it was just wide enough for me to stand in without turning and I had to duck to get my hair wet. Alan’s relief when he saw the shower in this apartment was practically comical. The one feature I really like is the towel heater. Not only does it warm your towel while you shower it radiates just enough heat to be comfy while doing your hair too.

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The kitchen is actually larger than the one we had in our apartment in Sparks. The fridge looks like a pantry as well as the cabinet that houses the microwave. The crisper drawers in the fridge are each about 7″ x 7″ x 6″ they are “cute.” The kitchen already had dishes, cookware, flatware, glasses, and cooking utensils. But we still picked up a few things which we felt were a big necessity like a corkscrew, mortar and pestle (which weighs about 10 pounds), bottles for olive oil. We also picked up drawer organizers for the dresser in the living room (I dislike clutter in drawers too). Probably the oddest thing in the kitchen is the washer/dryer combo unit. The barrel inside is only about 9″ deep and it takes approximately 4 hours to do a small load of laundry, but it gets the clothes clean and doesn’t make a lot of noise.

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The bedroom is on small side but when the door is closed and the heater is on, it’s super cozy. We had really minimized our possessions before moving, so even the small armoire is more than enough room for all our clothing, though we did pick up additional hangers from IKEA so that everything had a hanger of its own. Another weird issue of mine. The pink thing in the bottom of the closet is Kiara’s travel playpen, it’s like a mini pop-up tent with tons of room for her and her stuff.

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We feel like we’re getting a handle on the European apartment and small space lifestyle. We still find challenges once in a while, but all in all, it’s a nice space in a historic area. Alan and I have heard that tourist season is a little crazy in our neighborhood, but we are not expecting it to be any different than Hot August Nights or the Rib Cook-off events we’ve attended for years.

We know that small and minimalist spaces and apartment living may not work for everyone, but did we mention that there is a freakin’ CASTLE in the backyard??

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We Are Pedestrians And A Granddaughter Visit

We are rushing toward our departure date and frantically working on our final minimizing with 29 days to go.

We needed to sell our last remaining car.  We really wanted to have that major “loose end” completed with the car sold with registration and insurance cancelled before we leave.  In addition to listing the car on Cars.com and Craigslist, the Mercedes-Benz/Smart Car  dealership’s very helpful representative, Emily, had previously sent an e-mail about their Buy-Back program.  Apparently it is difficult to maintain Smart cars in their used car inventory since the owners hate to part with them.  A road trip to the Mercedes dealership in Sacramento resulted in a sold car.

For the first time since 1973, I am without a vehicle.  I really enjoyed the Smart car over the last four years.  The weather over the last week was pleasant enough to have the ragtop down.  I so understand now how Tracy felt after she sold her convertible.  After years of used minivans, station wagons, and SUVs, it was a real pleasure to have cars we enjoyed driving every day.  Tracy and I are now totally pedestrians.  We will sparingly rent a car or use the bus for our remaining transportation needs.

In between working and running errands this week we had the pleasure of granddaughter Lorelei visiting from Utah.  Although Lorelei was fighting an illness we did get some time for games and trip to the park.

Second Packing Trial Run, Carmel, and San Martin

As our countdown gets below 40 days until we depart, we keep finding there is still more and more tasks to get done.  We made a quick drive over to San Martin, California to see Tracy’s Aunt Debbie and Uncle Gerry.

We delivered some family heirlooms Tracy received from her grandfather, Deb’s father.  With our efforts with minimizing possessions, we have been distributing keepsakes to family members before we go.  Tracy brought photos, papers, memorabilia  collector money, and a family Bible from her grandfather that she thought should go back to her Aunt Deb.  We also asked Deb to keep a three-inch binder of legal documents for us:  certified birth certificates, marriage and divorce paperwork, baptismal certificates, etc.  We are bringing a smaller zippered binder with us to Europe with our essential legal documents.  Debbie is kind enough to hold our extended paperwork collection should we need any additional documents while abroad. Deb would be able to send needed documents by DHL when and if the need occurs.

We were able to squeeze in a hike in at Uvas Canyon County Park and Waterfalls.  Deb and Mac the dog guided Tracy, Kiara, and me through the green, lush park.  Great hiking trail with scenic bridges, flowing streams, multiple waterfalls, and quiet pools.  One of those amazing “pocket parks” tucked away unexpectedly at the end of a county road.

The next day we drove to Carmel-by-the-Sea.  Carmel is a favorite locale of ours and the visit let “California Girl” Tracy see the Pacific Ocean a final time before we relocate.  It was a beautiful day walking along the beach, watching the waves, looking up at Pebble Beach golf course, and a picnic lunch.  Dog-friendly Carmel welcomed Kiara to have her first visit to the ocean and opportunity to walk along the beach.

On our way back home we discussed the logistics of travelling with eight bags and whether or not we needed to rent a car in Toulouse in order to transport it all to Carcassonne.  We decided we could minimize our luggage still further from our first practice run packing our luggage.  We believe we could lighten the load from a three bedroom house to luggage still more.

We repacked our bags using our first packing list.  We started this time with eight bags weighing a total of 270 pounds.  We then unpacked and split the contents into “must have,” “maybe,” and “eliminate” piles.  It wasn’t just the idea that extra bags cost progressively more, it was the realization of the work and potential frustration trying to move eight bags with only two arms each.  We considered the cost of replacement versus the cost for items compared to re-buying the item in France, the necessity of having the item in the first place, and the frequency of use for the item. Could we justify a $100 for an extra bag, $285 for a third or fourth bag?  Could we justify having rent a vehicle to transport luggage rather than just using public transportation?  Would the replacement of an item be difficult or extremely costly in France?

Immediately we reconsidered the books we slated to bring. We are “book people” and wanted art, history, and language references to come with us, but you just don’t realize the weight of a stack of books.  We had already gone digital with Kindles for our recreational reading, so we reduced the number of physical books to just a few art books.   We decided to scan and digitize the remaining books into PDF files we could upload to our computers and Kindles.

We further eliminated packing materials, a few clothing items, some carry bags, decorator items, and an additional “back-up” camera.  We decided to pass some additional keepsake items on to the kids. I replaced my previous carry-on bag with the maximum size possible carry-on bag.  We re-shuffled and re-organized the contents from eight bags down to six bags weighing 200 pounds total:  a single checked bag and a carry-on bag each, with a camera bag for me, and Kiara’s carrier for Tracy.

The final results was that we eliminated two checked duffel bags and 70 pounds from our initial packing practice.  Tracy is already talking about a third trial run to maybe eliminate still more.

Super Bowl And A Trial Run With Luggage

In our family, Super Bowl is a non-traditional holiday that combines football, food, funny TV commercials, good-natured “smack talking” between team fans, and general family fun.  Even the kids that didn’t like football liked the annual Super Bowl party.  This year we hosted our last family Super Bowl event and were lucky to have at least some of the adult kids and their significant others join us, Nick, Adam and his fiance’ Liz, and Casey with his girlfriend Nicole.  Sarah had another commitment and Danielle, Tyler, Dirk, and Dallas are all out-of-state.  It was a great time with kids that could make it and those participating via text messages.  We had former University of Nevada – Reno quarterback Colin Kaepernick starting for the 49ers so he and his team as our hometown favorite had all of us (a first for our family) cheering for the 49ers. The kids followed Kaepernick from his first start to his last with UNR with season tickets and/or UNR v. UNLV games.

Tracy and I had made up a buffet of meats, cheeses, veggies, soft drinks, and craft beers. Lots of visiting, laughs, cheering, and Kiara received lots of attention. Kiara, however, is not a fan of football or Super Bowl. We loved the pre-game performance with Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keyes and made fun of Beyonce’s fetish outfits at half time.  Though a dramatic and close game right to the end, the Ravens won 34 – 31, a bittersweet ending to our last Super Bowl party, but we really enjoyed it all the same. Special thanks to Dallas for being our official Ref [as in reference for rules of play] there was a bit of discussion about a play involving a player falling with the ball, getting up and running it again that ended with a text message to Dallas for the official ruling.

The following Tuesday (which continued into Wednesday) we held our “pre-flight” check. A trial run of the luggage/items moving abroad with us.  We have minimized from a three bedroom house into a one bedroom apartment and now into eight bags.  We will be carrying one carry-one bag each, one personal item each (a camera bag for me and Kiara’s carrier for Tracy). Our checked baggage will be one suitcase and one duffel bag each.  We are limited to 50 pounds per checked bag.  The first checked bag is free, a second bag is an additional $100, a third checked bag and any subsequent bag is $285.  A bag over 50 pounds has an additional $100 penalty with a maximum limit of 70 pounds per bag. We opted for a second bag each (at the $100 rate) and to limit our bags to 45 pounds or as close to it as possible. It was surprisingly difficult to equally distribute the weight to be at our prescribed limits. Most of which entailed packing the bag, securing its contents, weighing the bag, unpacking the bag, repacking the bag and weighing it again, and again, and again. What we thought would be a few hours turned into most of the day and part of the next. After several hours of lifting and checking the weight of the bags the decisions to discard some items became easier and easier and easier.

To make certain that our actual packing day runs smoothly, we created a database, cataloged and photographed not only each piece of luggage but each packing cube contained within the luggage so that we know exactly how each bag was packed and where each item was inside the bag. Approximately 50 percent of each of the bags are still packed and our database notes which items have been removed for use through the end of March. The idea was to know exactly what had to go back into each bag so that the next time around it is done easily and quickly.

Tracy and I previously made  a decision to travel with only two checked bag.  Our plan is to move and live in a different city every year or so.  We want to be able to travel light, especially with our intention to use public transportation and not own a car. Our packing trial run forced us to make some final decisions to lighten our load.  We each packed a week and a day of clothes; eight complete wardrobe selections, two pairs of shoes, jackets, scarfs, and hats.  Since we decided to make use of furnished apartments we packed very few household, picnic, and home office items.  We have Kiara’s flight carrier, playpen, bed, chest carrier, harness and leash, and her wardrobe and blankets (hairless micro-dogs get cold easily.)  We packed a few essential hard copy books, but for the most part we have gone digital for reading and reference.

Our biggest indulgence is technology.  MacBooks for each of us, a PC netbook for me and a iPad for Tracy, multiple external hard drives, a principle camera and a compact waterproof camera for both of us, GPS unit, a Doxi portable scanner, Kindles for each of us, and finally personal iPods.  Photography is our principle recreation and method of sharing our travels, we need the computers to communicate with family back home and to keep learning languages, the GPS with a pedestrian option to help us find our way despite lack of language skills, and iPods and Kindles for recreation and language studies.

Our luggage is meant to nest and store inside one another for compact storage after arrival and for use on future road trips around Europe.  Amazingly, over the last 18 months we have managed to reduce our personal possessions from filling a 3-bedroom house to two large and two small bags each with a total weight of 270 pounds.

Still More Minimizing and More Milestones

First milestone:  Wow.  Over the last 18 months we downsized, minimized, donated, gave away, and trashed in order to move from the house into our current one bedroom apartment.  Over the next 60 days we will be minimizing still further from the apartment eventually into two suitcases each.  Over the last two weeks Tracy has scanned, edited, and uploaded about 7,000 hard-copy photos; snap shots, wallet-sized, Polaroids, 3X5’s, 4X6’s, 5X7’s, 8X10’s, and 10X13’s.  I’ve uploaded dozens and dozens of digital photo files from CD’s and DVD’s onto a one terabyte external hard drive.  Add to that work scanning all the legal documents that we may need that doesn’t require the actual “hard copies”.  The scanning ended up being a huge project to complete.  We loved taking photos of the kids when they were growing up.  Now we are delivering and mailing the photos and other family memorabilia to the adult kids.

Second milestone:  The semester started today at the college today.  For the first time in twenty-three years I’m not teaching either full-time or part-time at TMCC.

Third milestone:  My first pension check from the Nevada Public Employees Retirement System (NV PERS) arrived today.  After 32 years of public service in law enforcement and teaching I am retired.

Tracy scanning and editing family photos.
Tracy scanning and editing family photos.

Fifty Days To Go – Bankers And Final Minimizing

During our October appointment to the Italian Consulate General in Los Angeles, Tracy and I signed our visa application in front of a consular officer who also endorsed the application.  However we were also required by the Consulate to submit three additional documents before they would process the application.  The Consulate wanted a copy of our marriage certificate, a notarized letter of why we wanted to live in Italy, and a letter of financial solvency from our banker.  The last request seemed very old fashioned since we had already submitted pension statements and account balance print-outs.  I had an image out of  the film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and the Consulate wanting us to go visit Jimmy Stewart down at the Bedford Falls’ Building and Loan office and asking him for a personal letter of reference.  We, like most the people we know, don’t have our very own “Banker.”

We followed-up with an appointment with the manager at our Bank of America branch.  We were surprised to learn that we actually did have our own banker.  Cherye, the branch manager, recognized us as long time patrons of the bank.  She was extremely helpful with getting us the document we needed.  She requested the financial letter from the Bank of America corporate office for us and co-signed the letter when it arrived at the bank branch five days later.  We added the bank letter to the other documents with our previously endorsed visa application and “FedEx’ed” the whole package along with our passports  back to the Consulate for their review.  We are now anxiously waiting for a return FedEx package from the Consulate with our final approval, visas, and passports.  We are in “hurry up and wait,” mode.  Although we can only apply for the formal visa a maximum of  90 days prior to scheduled departure, the Consulate does not provide a time estimate for processing and final decision.

Our efforts on minimizing “stuff” is going well.  Tracy and my goal is to downsize our personal possessions and move to Italy with only two suitcases and a carry-on bag each that contain all our clothing, computers, Kindles (in place of books), and cameras. (The dog has her own carry-on bag to ride in.)  We went through our wardrobes and reduced our clothing to just 10 outfits each, coat, and shoes.  Our son Nicholas, who is a similar height and build as me, made off with several suits, shirts, slacks, ties, and jackets from my closet.  Tracy has been copying our legal and financial records along with family photographs by scanning them into digital files while saving them to external hard drives.  She has already “ripped” all of our DVD movies into digital files so we can have some English language entertainment while abroad.

We put the Smart Car Cabriolet, our last vehicle, up for sale on Craig’s List. We wanted to get the car on the market before the upcoming holiday season diminishes the cash flow of potential buyers. The Smart car is our last “big” possession that we need to divest ourselves from.  After owning minivans, station wagons, and family sedans because of raising eight kids, I really enjoyed the last few years of having a “ragtop” two-seater and driving with the wind and sun in my face.  But getting rid of the car is a final step for making the move and transitioning on to the next big step in our lives.

Alan driving Smart car

And the good news keeps coming . . .

Apollo

Item number two on our “big list” was to sell Apollo.

A week ago, we listed Apollo on Craig’s List after getting him a bath and taking a few photos of him all bright and shiny. We knew that we needed to act quickly before the winter season set in as it is very difficult to sell a sport car when it’s snowing, especially one that is rear-wheel drive.

So after his mini spa day and photo shoot, we wrote an ad, uploaded some photos of Apollo’s big smiling mug and listed a price we thought we could negotiate around and sent it into the vastness of the Internet to work it’s magic on the right person.

Three days later the right person came along. Exactly the right person — over the age of 40 and could drive a manual transmission, someone who had sports cars his whole life (mainly Corvettes) and who could appreciate a GM product, someone who had a second vehicle and wouldn’t need Apollo as a means of transportation in the winter, and best of all . . . someone with cash.

A quick phone call, a 15 minute meet at the marina, a peek under the hood and a hop into the driver’s seat and he was on his way home with his wife and Schnauzer. The following day, another quick phone call, a 15 minute meet at the bank and finally a quick test drive (my first time in the passenger seat) and Apollo was on his way home with his new family.

Now we are looking forward to getting “big list” item three handled. Number three is selling the Smart car which we are expecting to start in November.

Things continue to move forward and we are grateful and appreciative of all those who are helping us along the way, even if it’s just rehoming a few “big list” items for us!

Letting Go: The Art of Minimizing

It has been big year for minimizing and downsizing our material world to prepare ourselves for retiring to Italy.

In July 2011, Tracy and I put our house up for sale.  After living in the same home for the last 12 years, it was a big commitment minimize our possessions to move into a one bedroom apartment in preparation for moving into what will probably be an even smaller living space in Florence.

We went through the contents of the house and donated, recycled, sold, and trashed, trashed, trashed. We disposed of everything that would not be going to Italy with us and we would not be using through 2012.  We delivered surplus household items to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Committee to Aid Abused Women, Truckee Meadows Community College, Silver State Law Enforcement Museum, in-laws, children, friends, and Disposal Services.  The adult kids in town helped too with hauling things away.  Guess how quickly two college aged sons respond to the text message of, “Would you two want a bar for your apartment?”  I didn’t realize how much furniture sons Casey and Adam could fit in back of a Subaru hatchback.

Absolutely amazing the sheer volume of  material that can accumulate over the decades from two adults with eight children.  (Seriously, who still needs three bulletproof vests after being out of police work for a decade?) Even with trying to repurpose every item possible in the house, we filled one 14 cubic yard dumpster, two additional 6 cubic yard dumpters, and a 14 foot U-Haul truck with debris.  We mistakenly thought that the adult children had taken all their things with them when they moved out into the world.  No exactly true. Incredible how much is actually in what we thought was an “empty” house.

It’s incredibly liberating to free yourself from “stuff.”  Comedian George Carlin had a whole stage routine about “stuff” overtaking lives.  Tracy and my plan is to move to Italy with two large suitcases each.  We are passing keepsakes on to the adult children now and starting to live a minimalist life.

Moving from house to apartment was a huge step, next up is selling Tracy’s car over the summer and my car come November.  After years of used cars, minivans, station wagons, SUVs, Tracy and I love driving our two-seater convertibles, but they are not going to Italy with us so it’s time for the next major step in minimizing.

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