Downsizing And Liking It

In the past week, my husband and I moved from a house that was almost 3200 square feet to one that is 2200 square feet.  As you can imagine, we had to get rid of stuff…lots of stuff.  It’s true that our belongings tend to expand to fit our space.  Unfortunately, the reverse doesn’t happen.  Belongings do not shrink to fit a smaller house without some effort.

Photo by Jeff Hull

We knew we would have three fewer rooms and a lot less storage space, so a couple of months ago, we set out to lighten our load.  After two garage sales, multiple trips to Goodwill, many items sold on Craig’s List and, we almost fit into our new house.  We do have a random desk sitting in front of the fireplace in our family room that I hope to work in somewhere.

According to, we are part of the Baby Boomer trend that started in 2014 toward downsizing to a simpler way of living.  Twenty-eight per cent of Americans who are ages 55 – 59, say they will downsize on their next home purchase.  Now that the Boomer generation is all over the age of 50, they have tired of “going big” and are opting for smaller homes and vehicles.  Boomers still want the amenities and comforts they are famous for, but on a smaller scale.

It took us a year of talking about it before we ultimately decided to downsize.  Several factors entered into our decision.  One was the fact that we rarely used our upstairs space and in fact, did most of our daily living in just four or five rooms.  We realized that we had used our formal dining room just one time in all of last year.

We were also tiring of all the yardwork that went with a big yard and a pool.  While I know I will miss having a “cement pond”, I won’t miss the constant upkeep and the trips to the pool store for supplies.  I’m looking forward to the lower water and electric bills that come with a pool-free home!

Photo by Jeff Hull

I think as we age, we begin looking at all the stuff we’ve accumulated and decide that it really isn’t all that important in the whole scheme of things.  I told my husband I was tired of hauling stuff from house to house because it had belonged to Uncle So and So, or my grandmother, or my mother had given it to me, or it might be valuable, or I might need it someday, or or or…  It was time to move all of these things to new homes and people who might actually use them and to simplify our lives.  Of course, I didn’t get rid of everything; I still kept the items I love and use such as my grandmother’s mason jars.

The only item I had trouble parting with was the piano that all my children had played for years.  It was so connected with my memories of their childhood and had become like a part of the family.

I offered it to each of my children and all of them declined for various reasons.  Then, the people who bought the piano through Craig’s List were so excited and happy when they saw it that letting it go was easier than I expected.  It warmed my heart to think of their two young daughters learning to play on it just as my own three children had done.

As empty nesters, it was fun to choose a new home that fits us and our needs without having to worry about space and comfort for anyone else.  By moving to a smaller home, we were able to zero in on the furniture and possessions that we both really like and use and to get rid of the items that neither of us wanted any longer.  It has been very liberating to simplify and not feel as bogged down with stuff.

And now that we are in a smaller space that requires less upkeep, we should have more time to spend on the fun activities we enjoy and to travel.  Since we have a new grandson, I am looking forward to more trips to see him.

But first, I must find a place for that desk!

Where Did The Time Go?

Thank you to those of you who visited this week!  As you know, I normally post on Wednesdays.  However, we’re moving into a new home and I simply ran out of time to write today.  I hope to be back on schedule next Wednesday with a new post.  Thank  you for your support of my blog and books…I so appreciate it!



Smith Corona Revisited

Author’s note:  We are moving to a new home this week and I came across my old typewriter while packing.  I remembered that one of my very first blog posts was about my Smith Corona.  Since I’m a little short on both time and energy this week, I thought it might be a good time to revisit this one. 

For my 18th birthday in 1978, I received a brand new Smith Corona Electric Typewriter.  It was shiny silver and smoky blue and the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  It had white plastic keys and a manual carriage that I had requested because I wanted to be able to feel the progress I was making as I wrote each line.


I was so excited about my birthday present that I slept with it that first night.  I put it right in my double canopy bed beside me.  I was leaving for college two weeks after my birthday and it was the only thing I wanted.  To this day, it remains one of the best gifts of my life.

I used that typewriter almost daily for the next six years.  I loved the sounds it made as the keys punched onto the Mead Typing Paper.


Years of class papers were typed on it as well as all of my articles for my college newspaper.  When I finished with my degree, I used it to type the papers my husband wrote for his master’s degree. 

Of course, in those days, we usually wrote our papers on lined notebook paper then typed them very carefully so as not to have to retype or heaven forbid, use White-out on the typing paper!

I typed my first resume on the Smith Corona…and my husband’s as well.  Other than the car we shared, it was the most valuable thing we owned until we were out of college and working jobs in the real world. 

After that, I only used the Smith Corona occasionally, and a few years out of college, it was taken from its home on my desk, put in its case and relegated to the back of my closet.  You see, in the days before everyone had a PC, Brother had come out with a great word processor which was much more user friendly than the old electric typewriters.

When my sons were small, maybe seven and five, one of them asked me what I kept in the “suitcase” in the back of my closet.  I took the Smith Corona out of its case and showed my boys what a typewriter could do.  They took turns pounding away on the keys and enjoying the sounds it made.  “But where is the delete button, mama?”


Over the years, my boys and later my daughter would occasionally ask me to get out the Smith Corona so they could “typewrite”.  They were just as intrigued by the sounds it made as I had been. 

I would give them a stack of white typing paper and they would have a great time putting the paper in the roller and punching the keys.  Later, I would find typewritten love notes on my pillow.  “I love you mommy” followed by rows and rows of x’s and o’s.

A few years ago, as I was driving to one of my son’s high school basketball games, I passed a small machine business I hadn’t noticed before.  The sign in the window said “we service and repair all brands of typewriters”.  The next day, I pulled the Smith Corona out of its hiding place in the back of the closet and took it in. 

The shop smelled like oil and grease and all things from another place and time.  The counter was littered with relics I recognized from my past….old record players and cassette tape players and typewriters of every shape, size and color. 


The little old man behind the counter nodded appreciatively as he opened the case and looked inside.  “You don’t see many like this anymore” he said.  “Are you interested in selling it?”  I shook my head no.  “I was hoping you could check it to see if it needed any repairs.”

I couldn’t imagine parting with my old friend who had embarked on the journey to adulthood with me and had accompanied me ever since.  And, I may have grandchildren someday.  They may want to know about life when I was young.  And one of these days, they might just want to “typewrite” for old time’s sake.

Much has changed in the world of technology during the last 35 years.  I think sometimes our children don’t realize how different the world is now from the one we grew up in. 

I had a typewriter for writing papers, and I called my parents collect from the pay phone outside my college dorm once a week on Sundays.  My mother also has a box of letters…yes, the kind written on paper with a pen…I sent her from college.

The beauty of our kids having laptops and iPads and cell phones is that we can keep in regular touch with them in a way that wasn’t possible for our parents.  As every parent knows, sometimes just knowing they are safe and that we can reach them puts our mind at ease.


Recently, while reorganizing a closet, I found my Smith Corona.  My daughter said, “You still have your typewriter!  I used to love to type on that thing!”  I opened the case and ran my fingers over the white keys…“Yep, me too.”





An Unabridged Effort

During the weeks leading up to our move, we have gotten rid of a lot of things.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what to keep and what to purge as one prepares to live in a new house.  Some items however, are such a part of our family history that they are non-negotiable.

When our oldest child was in elementary school, one of his teachers suggested that we buy him an unabridged dictionary to help with homework and school projects.  New parents want to do things right, so we set off for the bookstore to find a dictionary.  We went home with a huge, 1993 Random House Second Edition Unabridged Dictionary that cost around $100.

I remember my husband questioning why we had to have such a large and expensive dictionary.  By that time, we had three children who were age seven and under and I told him to think of the investment as averaging out to just $33 per kid.  I loved words and learning about them and I wanted our children to love them too.

The reason for buying an unabridged dictionary was that it was a more comprehensive dictionary with all of the terms and definitions relating to each word.  Smaller or abridged dictionaries are shortened versions which omit terms or definitions because of space limitations.  We chose the dictionary with the most information and in this case there’s some weight to the words because the old book weighs in at around 10 pounds.

And boy, did we ever get some use out of that dictionary!  All three kids (and a number of their friends) used it for homework and projects over the years.  I also used it regularly for my writing which was only a hobby back then.

It was used as a booster seat when my daughter made the switch from a high chair to a grown up chair at the dinner table, and it was used as a weight any time someone was trying to glue something.  When my daughter was about four, she would practice picking the dictionary up and tell me it was making her stronger.  Any time one of us came across a word we didn’t know, we would go in search of the big dictionary for enlightenment and clarification.

Whenever my oldest son was doing homework and would ask me how to spell a word, I would tell him to look it up in the dictionary.  I still remember the smile on his face as he answered each time, “Mom, how can I look it up if I don’t know how to spell the word?”  To which I would respond, “I bet you can figure it out!”

Later, when my other children would ask me how to spell a word, I would just say, “Really?” to which they would respond, “I know, I know, go look it up!”

The very first dictionary in the United States was published in 1806 by Noah Webster.  It was called “A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language.”




containing or presenting the essential facts of something in a comprehensive but concise way:

“a compendious study”

synonyms:  succinct, pithy, short and to the point, concise, compact, condensed


In 1807, Webster began compiling a larger and more comprehensive dictionary and he worked on it for almost 30 years.  During this time, Webster learned 26 languages (including Old English) to better evaluate the origins and meaning of words.

 The “American Dictionary of the English Language” was completed in 1828 and contained seventy thousand words.   Webster was 70 years old when he finally published his comprehensive dictionary.  It sold 2500 copies.  I wonder where the English language would be today without the work of Noah Webster!

In the days before we had personal computers, cell phones and the internet as a quick resource, everyone had at least one dictionary in their home.

Our family’s dictionary moved all over our house depending on who needed it at the time.  I remember it open often on the kitchen table, the dining room table, the floor of the family room, on the kid’s beds, in my writing room, and one time, I even found it open in my daughter’s playhouse in the backyard.

Some items have been used so much and have been in our lives for so long, that they have become a part of the tapestry of our family history.  So, of course, the big dictionary is moving with us to the new house!

Author’s note:  If you also love words, you can go to the Merriam-Webster website and enter your email address to receive a “word of the day” in your inbox.  The address is:

Artwork by Vicki Guess