Sunday, March 11, 2007

My house went on the market Friday with a preliminary ad in the Boston Globe. A second ad was scheduled for Sunday morning's Globe announcing the open house from 1 to 3pm. So on Saturday, I was working throughout the house to clean, dust, wet mop and generally make the place look uncluttered, tidy and inviting The Jeep was packed with cartons and a couple of chairs to store at Fritz's. My cat was in her carrier, having quieted down from her usual immediate protests to the kind of gentle resignation with which she waits out all car trips. And then there was a knock on the door.

It was M and B, my neighbors from across the street. About fifteen years ago, they'd bought the once handsome Queen Anne Victorian across the street from me, a house so large that one wing had been cut away and stands just down the street as an entire, roomy house on its own. They began renovations immediately and have turned it into a showplace. B, a Boston Cop in the old Irish-American tradition, and I have become good friends; we put on a devastatingly successful presentation before the city's zoning board many years ago to shut down an absentee landlord who had illegally divided a neighboring house into several more apartments than allowed by the law.

They'd come because of the "For Sale" sign that went up Friday night. They'd received the note enclosed in my Christmas card alerting everyone to my coming retirement and departure but said they'd repressed it--but now it was real and they wanted me to know how much they'd miss me. I wanted to be on the road, but there was no way I could or would rush them out. I've been blessed in my neighbors; their concern had to be honored. In discussing the sale, I mentioned my realtor's tale of thefts during open houses. B immediately confirmed this and with all the authority of an officer of the law, he told me it happens all the time, and that I must hide or remove all prescription medications, valuables and cash. Then they took their leave.

I'm a lively, enthusiastic type, but I don't think I'm an hysteric. However, I freaked a little. OK, I freaked a lot; having sequestered all jewelry and medicines but looking around and suddenly seeing things I hadn't considered vulnerable before: my father's WWII medals (very collectible), my French Grandmother's medals, including the Palms of the Academie Francaise and the Legion of Honor (also very collectible), and many small artifacts that could disappear into a tote bag or a deep pocket in a parka. I began packing sturdy shopping bags and got them into the Jeep somehow. Last thing I thought of was my two check books sitting on my desk up in my studio. Then I locked up and headed to New Hampshire. It was the best place to be--with Fritz and one of his veteran teachers, a brilliant woman and honored school principal who was giving a music course for the whole weekend.

Now to preface this next story, you have to know that while my cat is very affectionate she has never come over and licked anyone the way most cats do in greeting. This includes me, even though she'll lie down in my lap, turn over and invite having her tummy tickled. So there's M sitting across me at the dinner table and she suddenly looks down and says:

M: Oh, that's sweet, she's licking my fingers.
W: She's WHAT?!
M: Licking my fingers.
W: Are you sure? She rubs up against hands but she never licks.
M: She's licking ME.
W: The little whore!

It was all true. The spectacle was repeated this morning at breakfast. For eleven years I've loved, fed, groomed, and been slept on by my faithful companion but she's never licked me, not even when I've rubbed my fingers on cheese or dipped them into canned tuna juice. But she meets M for the first time and within five minutes she's licking her!

Of course we made it a great joke among us. Then the day started. M went up to the Center to teach and Fritz and I went maple sugaring. We set up the boiler outside the Center near the wood stack, got the evaporator filled and a fire started. Fritz had tapped the big older trees during the week but we tapped the younger maples and found them gushing with sap this morning. By the end of the day, about 26 gallons had collected in the pails. In the process we'd heard the first crows of spring calling in the woods, and seen crocuses beginning to open in the warm sunlight. A huge melt was in progress, sheets of water moving down the hillside.

I left about 4:30 and arrived home to find everything neat as a pin and all my possessions present and accounted for. I called Fritz who was in a high state of tension, fearing that the house had been ransacked. Either nobody showed up, or the ad in the Globe had attracted an honest group of prospective home buyers--I'll find out tomorrow when I speak with the realtor. It's the end of the day now and I'm typing this with my cat on my lap purring and rubbing her cheek against my hand.

But she's NOT licking me.

thank you so much for the croci photo. I miss them so; I used to see them as the first sign of spring.
Whew. Glad things went well...and it sounds like your neighbors really are going to miss you. Good neighbors are definitely hard to find...and keep!
SO GLAD that everything was in place when you went home! How nice that your neighbors will miss you - Since my move to a small village I am again enjoying have "real" neighbors such as I was accustomed to in my childhood home... and in fact saw two today on the sidewalk and street - first on my way out of the house to see the last performance of THE VERTICAL HOUR and then another set unloading their car with their 1 year old son as I was walking back after parking the car on a non-cleaning street.

It is nice to have them around - can't wait to hear about how the Open House went and all the offers you will be getting !

and btw one of my cats wont even let me PICK her up much less lick my fingers - oh, well she will politely "tap" on my leg whenever there is something i am cooking/eating that she decides she needs to taste test for me!

and her latest trick is to sleep on the ARM of the sofa - and she has to scrunche up to fit but seems to love being there... still am trying to figure this one out.
the maple sugaring time sounds uplifting. I love being out in the woods as well. My kitty doesn't like to lick either, either that or he hasn't found the right one to lick.
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