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Patricia Fish

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Top Ten Things I Learned from Moving
7/19/2003 6:16:10 PM    [ Flag as Spam or Inappropriate ]

Think moving your stuff from one place to another to be a most ordinary of activities. Think again. Ten things I've learned from moving that will change your life forever.
Top Ten Things I’ve Learned From Moving

The experience is still fresh in my addled mind. The keyboard sits quiet nearby. It’s an omen. The time has come to recount the things I’ve learned from the act of moving all of my belongings from one state to another over 100 miles away. Which distance doesn’t much matter for the same lessons apply even if moving one block a way. It’s also not just about moving, these lessons learned. For they apply to those who plan only to move from the kitchen to family room in the years to come.

10) It was kitchen packing day and I was spending too many moments gazing at one entire kitchen cupboard filled with nothing but cups and mugs. My gaze went downward to the coffee and crud stained Dunkin’ Donuts mug I was about to toss into the pile of moving trash. Husband had drunk so many cups of coffee from this mug, cups drunk on a daily basis for many years, that the Dunkin’ Donuts mug, alas, did not make the cut to be dragged across state lines. We would, sadly, have to purchase another Dunkin’ Donuts mug in our new state.

Still, I pondered the cupboard full of cups and why on earth I wasted all of this entire precious kitchen space on naught but cups and coffee mugs we never used. My own sadly used coffee mug was also going into the trash pile. Sure, I had a whole cupboard from which to choose our replacements but for fifteen years I filled a kitchen cupboard just for this.

MORAL: Examine your kitchen cupboards. Is there stuff in there you access less frequently than oh, let’s say a year? If so, what is the stuff? Is it something that can be moved to a storage space less accessible, giving the kitchen space frequently used item priority? Finally, whatever it is taking up room in your kitchen cupboard, would you pack it up and move it across state lines?

9) Speaking of stuff, just what is all of this stuff we collect? Perhaps I should say “I” collect because for sure I had bags and bins and cartons of stuff that I hadn’t touched in many years. I am basically an organized person but still, organized stuff is still stuff and the definitive question is it the stuff worth packing up and moving it 100 miles that it will be with you in your new home?

MORAL: Survey your fine collection of stuff and ask the definitive question. If you wouldn’t pack it up and move it then you might want to trash it right now. Husband and I learned a costly lesson about this, more later.

8) After packing a bit and musing on the stuff I’d saved, I became more vigorous in just what I deemed valuable enough to occupy space in the U-Haul. Half empty tubes of deodorant or quarter filled boxes of baking soda were definitely not worth it. There were grocery stores in my new state.

Wrong! When you’re a bit smelly from moving stuff in and out, there is nothing more valuable than a ½ used tube of deodorant, especially when you have none at all. And there is nothing a tired one wants to do less than going out on a shopping spree after a hard day of moving stuff.

MORAL: Consider those things used every day and pack a separate parcel of only those items. Do not throw this bag in the U-haul, but port it very carefully in the front seat of the car. Upon arrival at the new digs, take out this bag and put it in a quiet and un-used spot. Then when teeth need brushing, boom, there will be the toothbrush and toothpaste all right there even as the boxes are carried in and piled high.

7) Okay, so the emergency moving day kit isn’t anything terribly new and innovative. Consider this. Boxes are nice but very strong plastic bags are better.

Indeed. Today there are huge trash bags woven from bands of steel. These bags make great containers for moving stuff. They conform to the contours of the stuff being much less rigid than boxes. The better brands have handles built right in. They can be dragged along the ground if contents allow. More stuff will fit into a bag than a rigid box.

It’s important to pick the very strongest of plastic bags with the most secure of ties. It’s also important to pack only appropriate stuff in these bags. Putting the family’s heirloom china in one of these bags is not the best idea is what I’m saying here. Still a whole lot of clothes type stuff can be stuffed and ported in one of these plastic bags; way more than could ever fit in a box. Also, comforters, blankets, towels, sheets.

MORAL: Think outside the box when it comes to using just boxes for moving stuff.

6) This is a strange lesson learned but I’ll throw it out there. After properly filling out a change of address with the post office, I was delighted that our mail was promptly and properly forwarded to our new address.

I missed the junk mail. Yes I did and I will admit it just this once. Even at that if you tell anyone I said it I will have to deny it.

The post office doesn’t forward junk mail and for once the government has an efficient idea. To forward such massive mailings would be stupid. For two months the snail mail offerings at our new house were pitiful.

Bills, local advertisements, birthday cards if applicable. No catalogues offering items that will organize my closets, vacuum my floors and mind the baby.

This at a time when I had just moved into a new home and most required the handsome lantern that absorbed the day’s sunlight to glow at night. Why it would have looked splendid over there in that side garden. Alas the object and it’s desirability would escape my shopping gaze. For there it lay in the bowels of my old post office, unforwarded.

MORAL: None, except perhaps we use junk mail more than we admit. Or one might consider that handsome lamp posts that use the sun’s energy to light the night gardens are not that easy to find in Wal-Mart.

5) How many spices do we really use? This being a question I might never have pondered save my moving musing moments. Because using the same scrupulous editing of stuff I would deign to move applied to my fine spice collection as well. I decided I would transport my spice carousel. This was an item already carefully edited due to its implied restriction of 8 spices that could fit into the circle to be removed as individual wedges when use of spice was required. I considered some onion salt. At the last minute I threw in the garlic powder.

It’s been a few months now and I’ve yet to need or require any spices beyond my carousel and the onion and garlic additives. At my old digs I had two huge drawers full of spices, all carefully laid face up that my quick tug on the drawer would reward me with a complete view of all spices available.

Ten spices. That’s all I’ve needed for two months and I cook quite a bit.

MORAL: John Endive’s Cajun Pickling Spice might seem like a good idea sitting on the grocery shelf but come on, would you really move a ten year old bottle of it across state lines?

4) Too late for me in the old place but soon enough for me to change my ways in the new place, I realize how very important instruction books are.

New homes often have many new phone numbers that must be learned and if efficient and in possession of a memory-dial phone, we might want to enter the new numbers into the electronic memory bank.

For ten years we’ve had that old phone and haven’t entered a new number in the directory for almost as many. So where is the instruction book?

There are many things required for purchase when moving to a new abode and I now have a spreadsheet detailing the date obtained, any warranties and notes on where, oh woe is me, where is the instruction book.

MORAL: For the love of life do not ever assume that you know how to operate this gadget or that. There will come a time when a once common action is not done with any frequency and the memory of how to do it will fade. Once the memory of it disappears, there will be a need for the required command or action we’ve forgotten.
Say a scenario requiring movement of all of one’s stuff over state lines. I would have given those instruction booklets prime space in the U-Haul if I had them. As it was they had been trashed a long time ago.

3) On a positive note, my maxim of life to put all and any stuff in a logical place did pay dividends during my moving adventure. Both in terms of moving from the old and unpacking in the new. This maxim, now shared with the public at large to their everlasting happiness, goes as follows: “Where would I look for this?”

It doesn’t matter if it’s a pair of tongs or my hair curler. The same question always applies before I put it away. The answer to my question is where I then store the item for later use.

“Where would I look for these tongs?” I might say to myself mentally. But of course I would look in my big kitchen drawer of gadgets. Which is right below my big cupboard of un-used cups. This drawer itself full of likely stuff I would not transport across state lines but now I digress.

“Where would I look for my hair curler?” is another mental question I might ask myself. Of course again I would look for my hair curler on the bedroom closet shelf where I stored the rest of my other personal hair stuff I don’t use.

The maxim, however, did pay off. I unpacked all of my stuff and stored it wherever appropriate, which is to say where I would look for them at. In a new and strange house, it’s a maxim that’s paid off very well. The instruction booklets do not count. I never had them to begin with.

MORAL: Apply the Pat Fish maxim in life to all of life’s storage woes, in the office, in the kitchen, in the hobby arena. Store stuff in the place you answered when you asked yourself: “Where would I look for this?”

2) I am an avid bird feeder and the movement of the bird feeders taught me some lessons as well. Such as the Kevin Costner maxim of building it and believing that they will come. Because the new house had a perfect setting for bird life. Indeed it was a feature I sought eagerly with a new home purchase. There were woods. I saw plenty of birds with my own lying eyes. Yet the feeders, formerly food providers at the old place to a wild and heavy population of bird life, hung empty and forlorn.

“The birds do not come to my feeders,” I lamented to husband.

“Look, there’s a chickadee,” he said to cheer me up.

Well yes there was a chickadee. But I was a bird feeder used to bevies of raucous blue jays, bright red cardinals, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, orioles, and flocks of any migrants passing through. One chickadee wasn’t quite the same though I loved that little fellow, the only bird in my new state that deigned to frequent my feeder.

The bird life diversity I enjoyed at my old house didn’t happen over night. It’d been many years and I forgotten my wait for the avian life to wise up and stop here. It’s been two months now and there’s plenty of bird life at the feeders in my new home. Soon enough the woodpeckers stopped by for some suet. The hummers fight for their feeder ports. Cardinals chirp in and the blue jays here are as noisy and troublesome as they were in the old state. It’s mid-summer now and feeders, save for parents and their child-birds, are generally quiet.

MORAL: I built it and hey, they came. It took them a while, but they came.

1) Finally I offer the number one thing I’ve learned from moving. This would be a fact that anyone who has ever moved knows: unpacking is infinitely easier than packing. When unpacking the closets are already empty and begging to be filled with meaningful stuff. The newspapers wrapped carefully around the china can be tugged off with abandoned and crunched into the trash. The painstaking task of individually wrapping fragile items is over is what I’m saying here.

The editing of stuff has already been done by a stuff-owner reluctant to move certain stuff. The closets are blank slates, ready to be filled neatly and in alphabetical order, with all of the stuff that was good enough to make the cut. By following the mighty maxim, all the prime stuff will be stored in the right place.

Oh, that expensive lesson referred to in number nine? It seems that all of the careful “editing” of my fine collection of stuff acquired in over fifteen years of living in one house required some cool cash to remove. Husband and I paid almost two thousand dollars to get fifteen years’ useless accumulation of stuff hauled off to the dump.

Which is why my lessons learned from moving can actually save you money.

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More Blogs by Patricia Fish
•  Top Ten Things I Learned from Moving - Saturday, July 19, 2003  

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