Monthly Archives: November 2011

Twenty-nine Hammers

I’d like to say that we’ve gotten good at cleaning out a house after repeating the process several times in the last couple of years. But I can’t. I’ve been staring at the same stuff for weeks now, wondering which box to put my collection of extra phone cords into, or even if it belongs in a box. Maybe a pile of similar stuff. Stuff’s expensive, you know. Of course you don’t really need phone cords on a boat but the second I throw something away it’s the old dance, retail on one end and land fill on the other. It’s a kind of purgatory, paring down to live on a boat before you own a boat.

Now I don’t think you would call us Schulzes hoarders but while cleaning out my Dad’s house I found 29 hammers. I think you could say a prudent man might want something a little north of five, what with different weights and handles and such. I added a nice American hickory-handled beauty and a mini sledge to my personal collection. (There’s nothing so useful as a mini persuader, even on a boat.) And don’t think I’m alone in this. Marce, my sainted wife, added her mother’s cute oak-handled tack hammer, with a head so narrow and svelte that I have yet to make contact with anything more substantial than my fingers. And you’re going to throw that away? Cant do it.

Lillian's HammerSo progress is slow, our friends are beginning to hide when they see us coming and I’m pretty sure that we caused a little friction in some family units due to our generosity.

Anyone need a sofa?

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Don’t look back

We had a house un-warming party last night and it was great to have so many of our favorite people in the same room together. Every once in a while we looked around at the various conversation groups and thought how wonderful it is to see the disparate factions of our life all jumbled up and enjoying each other. It warmed our hearts to appreciate for a few moments our own little universe, knowing that we may never again share the same time and space with all of these cherished friends and family.

This morning we waved goodbye to Nancy and Dave as they headed back to New Jersey. I admit I got nostalgic, thinking how many times they’ve visited this house in the last 24 years, in good times and bad. We’ve shared our Pittsburgh life with them, our favorite coffee shops and shopping spots, our walks and scenic drives. We cooked some wonderful meals together, threw a couple of great parties, celebrated our son’s wedding and our daughter-in-law’s graduation, and when our mother died we observed the WASP version of sitting shiva. That evening, nearly three years ago, was the last time all of us in our nuclear family were together. One or another is always missing, but we have high hopes we’ll all manage to be in the same spot sometime later this year.

Meanwhile, the real work begins here in the house. I spent the morning posting things on Craig’s List and packing boxes. I booked a friend with a truck to help us move things across town. I started wading through the pile of paperwork I avoided all week.

Eleven days until closing on the house. Tick tock.

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The search for Home

We were sent a list of boats for sale to visit when we leave Pittsburgh after the house closing, and so far none of the photos make my heart leap for joy. I hope I’m not asking too much, but I want to find a boat that makes me feel like all the potential home buyers felt when they came to see our house. I know that feeling, and I experienced it once years ago when we toured various boats for sale at a used boat show.

Boats, like houses, are highly customized. Any cruising boat was probably ordered from the factory with custom options, and through the years the various owners add, delete or modify features to suit their needs, taste and cruising grounds. You’d be hard-pressed to find two boats alike.

The details of the boat I remember aren’t important, nor is the make or model. It was just a particular combination of layout, light and color that appealed to me. I positioned myself in the galley, turned to Jack and said, “This feels like home!”

And that’s what I’m looking for now. Is that too much to ask?

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Eye of the hurricane

We’re taking a bit of a break this week while Nancy and Dave visit and we take the sentimental Schulz route through all of our favorite places in Pittsburgh, as well as some new ones. Today is Jack’s birthday and we’re going to Salt of the Earth to celebrate. Tomorrow we’ll hit the Strip District to pick up our Thanksgiving supplies and we’ll wander through all of the specialty stores and food emporia that have been so much a part of our life: Penn Mac, Reyna, Pamela’s, Colangelo’s, Stan’s Market, Stamooli’s, La Prima Espresso, Kaya, etc. We’ll miss our lifestyle here, but as we tell each other often, Pittsburgh would be darn near perfect if it weren’t so far from the sea.

We’re going to stash the unpacked and unsorted flotsam out of sight for a few days and enjoy this last family visit before we leave town.

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Heard on “The Amazing Race”

To move, to breath, to fly, to float,

To gain all while you give,

To roam the roads of lands remote:

To travel is to live.”

– H. C. Andersen

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How did we get here?

I had to set the book aside, stomach tied in knots, pulse quickening. I had to stop reading this. But it was no use. It was like coming around a bend to find a gaggle of people and cars gathered at irregular angles, EMT’s surrounding somebody on the ground — any evidence of the “Jaws of Life” being used? — people sitting on the curb, head in hands, was that blood on that bandage? Yes it was like that. You have to look, while a quiet whistle escapes from deep inside, maybe one last glance as you slowly pass by.

I couldn’t put the damn thing down. It was the inevitability of the spiral down into ruin and madness, as though it was written in the big book, and Charlton Heston, in a bad white wig, says, “Make it so!”…down, down, and down it goes.

It was a time when we were devouring anything with the word “sail” in it when Marce unearthed “Last Voyage” by Ann Davison from deep in the dusty back shelves of Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh. Frank Davison created an airline, sold it, bought a sheep farm, sold it, bought a boat, a large wooden boat, and the spiral is engaged. You see the train coming, he sees the train coming; can he cheat the reaper? Charlton Heston lifts his stick and says, “Make it so!” Down, down, into insanity and death. Was this a metaphor for what I was doing to my family?

We had made our deal with the devil, and the devil turned out to be…well, The Devil. After a jury trial in Alabama, two years of our lives, and all our begged, borrowed and earned funds, we were left with a beautiful Luders-designed hull, a deck at maybe 50%, an interior at 20%, and a semi confident owner who was just stripped of the semi part.

We spent 15 years rebuilding Spellbound, but sold her in the summer of 2011 a little short of done. She’s sailing the waters off Vancouver now and I still think she’s the prettiest girl at the dance

After lavishing sweat, time and money on our house it was time to pump up the boat kitty with the sale of our safe harbor, which sold in a day. No boat, no harbor.

Marce says it’s time for a catamaran so watch this space for a serious boat buying expedition to Florida.

Thanks for bearing with the back story.
— Jack


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More wisdom

“I can find the cloud in any silver lining.

“But now I’m starting to think you’ve got to embrace the cloud, it’s the beginning of the good times, a door to greatness. Life works in mysterious ways.” — Bob Lefsetz

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Words of Wisdom

Gonna do just what I please
Gonna wear no socks and shoes
With nothing to do but feed
All the kangaroos – Donald Fagen and Walter Becker

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Zero to sixty in twenty-one years

Suddenly we’re in high gear. We chose a yacht broker and he’s lining up potential boats. We have two notebooks of lists that get longer each day. We rented a storage locker and we’ve been moving everything that goes on the boat out of the house. We photographed everything else and we’re poised for a Craigslist flood as soon as Thanksgiving is over. Friends ask us where we’ll go the day we close on the house and we shrug and answer, “we don’t know!”

And just like that, the fear of seeing the same view out of every window for the rest of my life is gone and I feel free. It took us way longer to get here than we ever imagined. We started our lives together with crushing debt, made a couple of boneheaded decisions, suffered some family upsets, survived cancer and lost three parents. On the other hand we watched our son grow into a remarkable and talented man, gained a brilliant and beautiful daughter-in-law, had some sailing and cycling adventures, and laughed and cried with our wonderful friends and family year after year.

Through it all we never stopped planning for this day. True, we stopped talking about it for a long time because we felt our friends and family were secretly rolling their eyes whenever we talked boats and sailing and world travel. But we kept at it, putting one foot in front of the other, making even the smallest decisions with an eye toward the future. And here we are, finally, poised on the edge, about to jump.

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For years we’ve been talking about getting the house ready for sale. Every decision we made was based on what would “neutralize” the style (longhorn steer skull had to go) and colors (orange out, taupe in.) We remodeled, carpeted, caulked and painted, roofed, weeded, mulched, replumbed and rewired. And finally, after a whirlwind bathroom reno, we tackled the basement, where we decluttered, organized, and repainted. We couldn’t believe it was finally time to call a realtor and see where we stood.

Incredibly, six days after the phone call, and one day after the house was officially listed, we had happy buyers, happy realtors and happy sellers. B-b-b-but NOW WHAT??????

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