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South Carolina, moving to a new abode

I’m having a near death experience, but I think I see the white light at the end of the tunnel. I hope it’s heaven, because I’m sure ready for a heavenly experience.

With a massive desire to be caught up on our blogs and photos, then waylaid by the work necessary to bring out our new series of journal e-books, I have spent the last six weeks under brutal conditions, glued to my chair for far more hours each day than is even remotely healthy.

Thinking we were staying through October at the family home on Jim’s hill, we decided to work straight through our current projects, take a break for some fun, then start in on the brain recovery book.

All went well for some weeks until one fateful Monday morning when Chelsea found me typing away and whispered, “I think you should hear this. Jim says he needs the house and we may have to leave!”

I could feel my heart pounding in my face. We had no backup plan.

Jim listened to my response after he told me the story. He’d rented out the river house weekly and monthly for years, but finally stopped, as he had tired of the hassle. However, two young teachers who had rented from him before now wanted to rent it for eight weeks while they taught summer school locally.

He said he’d think it over and get back to me in a day or so.

The days flowed into a week or more with our stress level quite high, but we had no word from Jim. I kept writing and Chelsea kept on with all her projects. Chelsea and I talked the situation over extensively and came up with a plan, thinking that he was probably quite serious about wanting the house back.

When I finally talked to Jim, he agreed with our plan. We were to leave the house by the twenty-sixth of June, giving us time to finish our current projects and bring in some much needed income.

He’d camp out up at the Big House from the fifteenth when the girls would move in down at the river house, since in his words, he’s “the guy who likes the outside so much”.

If it had to happen, at least it would be graceful for us.

I’d like to report that that’s exactly what happened, but it wouldn’t be the truth. The truth was far messier for everyone.

The actual event was like setting up dominos.

First came the squatters on the land next to Jim’s river house. They’d moved in overnight. It wasn’t the first round with these guys, setting up their makeshift camp next to a storage shed on the land next to Jim. After a few visits from the police they had moved on.

Now they were here again, awakening him with cars driving by his bedroom window at all hours of the night. He’d had no vehicles at all prior to these squatters. There are only four houses in this “neighborhood”, one of which is unoccupied, and it’s an isolated, quiet, woodsy area.

Jim was extremely upset about them. He called them crack-heads and was certain that they were running a meth lab. The only other two neighbors were not particularly bothered, but were keeping an eye on the situation.

Jim talked about going in with shotguns and a can of gasoline. The neighbors thought that calling code enforcement and the police was the best first step.

Meanwhile the girls were getting restless. They wanted to rent the river house but Jim kept putting them off. With a wild idea that the girls would rent the family house we were in, he gave us forty-eight hours to be out, sending Pat as the messenger late one night.

We had only three or four days left before we’d be putting our first e-books up for sale, bringing in much needed income. We’d anticipated getting the work done, getting the shopping cart live on our website, then relaxing for awhile and sorting our gear before heading off to Mexico.

Instead we worked up until the last minute, then sprinted madly packing our gear and clothing and collecting all of Pat’s items that we’d borrowed, at least the ones he wanted back. It was an impressive collection.

The house was very clean and tidy when we left, certainly in far better condition than when we arrived. We were hot, tired, dirty, sweaty, hungry, and frustrated that we weren’t getting our work done.

Pat was hot, tired, dirty, sweaty and hungry getting his basement cleaned out, painted, and ready for our arrival.

The family home we’d left looked forlorn as we took our last look around. The items we’d put up and the items Pat contributed had made the house look like a home. Without those distractions, all the flaws showed up clearly. Even the smell seemed less fresh when we left.

Pat’s basement had been a separate apartment for years, complete with a new kitchen sink and cabinets installed a few years ago. For the last four years though, the area had been used as storage. With that much “stuff” in it, the rooms hadn’t been cleaned in at least four years.

Pat cleared out the kitchen and bedroom and cleaned the toilet and shower located off the laundry area. We were thrilled we didn’t have to do it.

In the midst of our sprinting to completion, we met Pat, Jim and Jimmy at eight in the morning on moving day to finish cleaning out the kitchen and bedroom and help get the bedroom ready for painting.

By nightfall, when we all collapsed in exhaustion, the area was totally different. Jimmy did a great job on the painting. I had cleaned the kitchen. Pat and Jimmy had brought down night stands, lamps, an armoire, and a comfy bed with nice bed linens. The place looked charming, rather than looking like we were bunking down in a storage shed.

By the next day Pat had closed off the back area for us, the area still piled with goodies to be sorted and disposed of, by hanging blankets over the doorways. I’d finished cleaning the kitchen. Pat hung curtain rods and attractive simple curtains over the outside bedroom windows.

We now had a cozy-cottage feeling with a fabulous view of the rocky, waterfall-laden river right from our teeny front porch. We even brought down two Adirondack-style chairs for our porch.

By Friday when we saw Jim, he still hadn’t talked to the girls, but had an appointment with them that afternoon. By dint of overhearing a conversation we realized he was going to offer the girls the family home to rent.

Chelsea and I raised our eyebrows. We couldn’t imagine the girls agreeing to rent that place instead of the river house. Talk about two different animals. We heard a few days later that they declined.

When the dust settled Pat had a clean and usable apartment under his home. We had great new digs for another few weeks with a lot less maintenance, no chickens to care for, no cat to feed, and a beautiful peaceful view from our rooms and our porch.

Jim had no rental income, no one to care for the chickens and the cat, and the family home now sat empty.

We quickly established new offices at our new place. I settled into an Adirondack chair on the front porch with a clear view of the rocky waterfalls. Chelsea settled in upstairs in Pat’s man-cave where she could hook up to internet.

We’d moved on Thursday. Friday and Saturday were cleaning and moving furniture. By Sunday afternoon we’d settled into our “gittin’ ‘er done” mode.

It was less brutal for Chelsea than for me, though she didn’t have much downtime. I spent thirteen to fourteen hours a day that week glued to my red Adirondack chair on the porch in a powerhouse move to get all the South Carolina journals written and hundreds of photos organized, culled and captioned.

I was nearly comatose by the time I finished on Thursday morning. But there was no rest for the writer. We began packing immediately for our five-night stay at Oconee State Park.

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