Post-fishing staycation

HL took dad on their annual fall fishing trip last Friday and they got back yesterday, a day early. HL couldn’t hack life with dad any more and needed at least a day of vacation on his vacation. They caught a lot of fish. I was going to post a picture.

This spring and summer have been brutal and I haven’t had time off from dad since I was in London in January. The workload and my gradually abating energy have cut me off from a lot as in the last two months I have lacked energy even to interact with almost all of my closest friends. So this was actually supposed to be a post about how my life and mood change when dad is not here vs. when he is. I was planning to reflect on things I could do, in this weird situation where neither of us can really go out, to give each of us more space. I was making a list.

When this morning one of our ongoing questions resurfaced.

Long-time readers (I think) know the story of dad’s house — he built it for my mother after he was discharged from the army, with my grandfathers and uncle, on 4.25 acres on the corner of a cornfield. At that time there were three trees marking the boundary of the field. From 1970 until about 2000, they planted trees like crazy — a minimum of 30 per year. And so they achieved the rarity of a wooded lot on the edge of a cornfield. As the farmers along the road gradually sold out, people started moving in, most on unwooded quarter and half acre lots with houses made out of ticky tacky. The school district became gradually more desirable, and more people moved in. But the trees grew at a faster rate and so we live in our little idyll without much visual contact with the outside world. This my parents did by design.

Civilization has caught up with us, though. The Town is incorporating as a village, and they count our road as part of their “urbanized core” (which is a drastic overstatement, but whatever). They want to widen the road and add a bike lane, an intermediate line of trees, and a sidewalk. This will come at the cost of most of the trees in front (not the elm in the mid-ground of this photo, but the whole line of trees behind it). They’re outside of the right of way, but their root systems are in the right of way and they are too mature to be moved successfully. Thirty-plus years of planting and another twenty of overgrowth from benevolent neglect will fall victim to the town planner.

As if that weren’t enough (losing most of the front trees and gaining 400 feet of sidewalk that will have to be shoveled after every snowfall), in exchange for the space they will cover with concrete, they need to provide equivalent land that is not impervious to rain. This turns out to be really complicated due not only to the law — we live close enough to an airport that they have to cover any area with materials that prevents migratory birds from nesting in it — but also due to the settlement situation. Essentially: the town burned out their property claims with the right of way, and any additional land they take for retaining pools will have to be bought and paid for. Nobody wants to sell. There’s also eminent domain, but they don’t want to get involved in an expensive court case. If we’re going to lose all the front trees, we sure don’t want to lose all the side ones, too, so we told him we are also uninterested.

The town engineer was out here a few weeks ago to explain the situation to us (we already understood it), and as he was preparing to leave, he said, “Just to make sure I understood correctly: you have no interest in selling the side of the property for a retaining pool.” I said, dryly, “You can take the whole thing off our hands for a cool half mill, cash.” HL said, “We might consider $450,000.” The engineer said, “Making this lot into a combined park feature / retaining pool is definitely an attractive option. I can take that to the town board, if you’re serious.” HL looked at me. I looked at HL. I said, “We would seriously consider a serious offer.”

We walked back into the house, and I said to HL, “I was joking!” HL said, “Me, too.”

This morning they called and they want to send an appraiser.


~ by Servetus on September 17, 2020.

35 Responses to “Post-fishing staycation”

  1. Interesting…where an unconscious thought might lead.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Are you kicking yourself for not offering higher?


  3. Too bad your time was cut short!
    It would be such a shame to lose such beautiful treed piece of land or even any of the trees. “Progress”! Well, if they really want it, maybe you can hold out for something really outrageously high! I wonder what your dad would say, though. Does he know?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I admit I had a moment of real wrath when HL called me Wednesday morning, just because he was saying he can’t deal for a week with what I deal with all the time. OTOH six days were glorious.

      The whole look of the place will be indelibly transformed if all the trees go in front, let alone on a second lot line. I also think there are butternut trees in some of it, which will cause them problems with the DNR.

      I think the calculation from the town’s perspective is that it might be cheaper and easier to negotiate with us as opposed to with eight separate parties to get the land they need. So we might be able to hold out for a lot. OTOH if we stay here through this, we’re committed to another five to ten years while we wait for enough trees to grow up to halfway reach the level of coverage we have now, which contributes a lot to the value of the lot. We can plant cedar hedges, pines and popple trees as intermediates that grow faster, while we wait on the slower-growing trees. So a decision to stay means I commit to another decade of my life watering trees, and HL commits to another decade of heavy lifting. We haven’t told dad yet because we kind of have to figure out how we feel about those commitments before we discuss it with him. Practically speaking there’s a number below which it’s not worth it to us to leave. And for dad the question is really where he would move. He has had this idea since mom died that he will move out to the farm and live there. I can’t imagine living there, either in terms of the isolation (it’s 30 mi from anything interesting to me) or in terms of living in a century old farmhouse. The snow removal situation would get rough, and I’d have to get a more snowworthy car. Plus we’d have to evict the renter. So there’s what dad wants vs. what is achievable.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Well, I’m glad you did get the 6 days. Must have felt great, just to be alone with your own thoughts.

        Your place really does look idyllic with those trees. I’m sure it will still be nice, but not quite the same. Five to ten years seems a lot to invest, but if it eventually brings it back to good coverage it might be worth it… from the land’s point of view at least. Maybe not as much from yours and HL’s!

        Makes sense to get all your ideas straight before you all discuss it together. It would definitely be harder, I would think, to imagine sending your dad to some sort of seniors’ home, not knowing how long COVID or something like it might be around. But living far out on a farm, seems like not a great option. I don’t suppose HL has enough land to be able to have a separate house for your dad? Even if he did, that would be a long project, I guess.

        Interesting if they make an offer you can’t refuse.


        • Land is not a problem. That’s dad’s preferred solution, if he can’t live in the farmhouse: build another house out there. However, since my brother is still living in his starter home, I suspect his wife would have something to say if he built a house for dad before he built a house for her/them. And dad and SIL are like oil and water. And I am not prepared, or qualified, to supervise the building of a house. From dad’s perspective, all of that is no problem as he will just do it himself. [sigh]. I’m not looking forward to having this discussion. It may be the case that we end up staying, planting, and watering (and shoveling the snow) just because that is the compromise dad can most easily live with. The intermediate solution (to sell this house and buy a smaller one close to where we live now, one that I can take care of) is only practical if we lived in it at least five years, but / and dad is totally opposed to that.

          We do have a lot of hesitation about dad possible going into a senior living situation just now, although the one he has in his sights has not had any COVID 19 cases (though I think that is probably a matter of time). The problem is that his income and my income combined wouldn’t sustain assisted living + this house. (Which I’m not complaining about — he should use his income to live on, that is why he worked so hard, and there is no reason for a single person to be living in this much house unless she has a big income to afford a lot of help.)

          And yeah, I wonder how this is going to work out. I actually sat on a deserted, windy bar patio yesterday for a few hours and drank two cocktails. It’s been months.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Building a house would be a long process, I think. Smaller house close to where you are sounds good, but I guess not if your dad doesn’t want it. I used to think that when I’m older I wouldn’t be totally against being in a place with built-in companionship, but now with COVID and other things, probably not. (Actually I’d probably hate it anyway, like group aerobics! Why I always think I would like these things, I don’t know.) You’ll have to see what happens with the potential offer, I guess.

            Sitting on a patio, drinking cocktails sounds nice, even if it was windy. I was wondering whether you’d brought in any beer while your dad was away.


            • Dad’s an extrovert and I think ultimately he’d find a group of buddies and be just fine. (We’d also make sure he still got in his usual contacts that he has now, like the breakfast club and so on.)

              I had some beer to drink while he was gone but somehow I never got around to it! St Bernardus Abt 12. Had to take out of the fridge and hide it again.

              Liked by 1 person

              • Hopefully there will be another occasion soon where you can break that out! Sounds like it would be a good one. Not too much of a beer drinker myself, although I found after my recent trip that I really like sours. I found a blackcurrent sour, locally brewed, that I’ve bought and enjoyed since I’ve been back.


                • Sours are really great and they are generally not sessionable, which I appreciate more as I get older. One or two is enough.

                  Abt 12 is a quadrupel, so about 10.5% ABV. It’s the closest you can get, outside of Belgium, to the beer that is consistently rated best in the world (Westvleteren 12). But I suspect if I’d opened it I wouldn’t have been able to drink it all. Losing my beer chops!

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • I had to look up “sessionable”, not really being a beer aficionado. It is disconcerting how much more alcohol and even caffeine affect me the older I get.


                    • It’s a word you only use if you really love beer, as you kind of have to plan to have or at least be open to having a drinking bout. Ten years ago when I was introduced to beer culture I’d have a beer with a high ABV or a really strong taste, and then be annoyed that I couldn’t drink more of it b/c I still wanted more, even with a sour. I’m kind of grateful that has waned with beer. But it’s turned into a problem with caffeine as it’s hard to get enough before I’ve had enough (so to speak)!

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I now drink only half-caff, so I won’t end up talking a mile, a minute. Lol.


                    • I should maybe try that, but I feel like decaf affects the taste.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Depends what it is and what kind of coffee you have. We try to buy dark roast if both and then brew it half and half. When I get my iced mocha, I ask for it half caff and of course I can’t taste the difference in that.

                      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow on the the taking up your offer on your dads house. It something when a person don’t have to deal with the day to day of living with someone with health issues like your dads and my uncle.


    • the town: yeah, HL and I were dumbfounded.

      dad’s absence: one thing that surprised me (and that really contributed to the sudden euphoria) was that my circadian rhythm immediately reasserted itself.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am so glad you had your six days. You haven’t written about family in a long time, seems to me. Those trees are beautiful. Would your house lose privacy while becoming more visible from the road? That would be worth a few grand at least. I think you would be a formidable negotiator.


    • I haven’t written much about family because I’ve really been stymied about how. On the one hand, what’s going is so complex that it’s hard to make the narrative make sense to people who aren’t here (and exhausting) and on the other, essentially nothing new happens — same shit, different day (so to speak). I’ve lost the sense of how to write about what’s going on.

      The house was built before the oil crisis, so there is a big wall of large front windows. (That’s one way to tell a pre-1973 house around here.) And it’s set back from the road about 200 feet. So yeah, you can stand naked in the living room and it would be difficult (but not impossible) for anyone to see you. And the backyard and sides are completely cut off from lines of sight. (well, until the Marine Corps moved in next door. That is something I’d like to write about. Enraging.)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! I’m glad you had some time alone, though not nearly enough, I guess. Good luck with the town developers!


  7. I’m glad that you had some time and solitude to recharge! I’m very interested to hear what the town comes back with. If they would commit to maintaining green space (and also some of the trees) it might be a great option. Knowing what I know about the situation as a whole, I’m hopeful for resolution that is at least as comfortable for you as it is for your dad. You deserve it too my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, if the house and outbuildings went but the trees stayed that would still be a win in my book. They could also commit to a name, although I’m not sure I’d want to saddle any public area with our last name. Thanks for the good wishes and keep your fingers crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. So glad you had a breather The town situation opens up some choices but i guess none easy either The loss of the trees would be very sad indeed .. gosh as if more decisions and unknowns right now were needed. Hope you managed to get a bit of energy back x


    • Yeah. We’re going ahead with the appraisal (they can do a so-called “drive by,” which is our preference under current conditions), but we’ve talked a few times and none of the outcomes that involve a sale will make our lives any easier in the short run. Thanks for the good wishes. I have noticed this week that I have more patience.


  9. I saw this the other day and thought of you. Not sure if you like it or bake it but if you do i hope you get to enjoy a nice slice of honey cake xx


    • Thanks!

      I had raspberry pie. Not traditional but it was good. I had been starting a post on the New Year when I saw that RBG had died and that kind of killed the mood.


  10. It is such a shame that your respite was cut short but I’m glad you had some days of bliss – and essential cocktails. Did the experience give your brother any empathetic insight into how you have to cope most days? I can imagine what Astrov would say about those trees …


    • HL has his own crosses to bear. However, we had another exchange over the weekend with dad where HL totally lost it, and it made me feel like okay, my inability to deal with this situation is not limited to me.

      I think Astrov was talking about original trees, the forest primeval (so to speak). These trees aren’t nearly that old. The whole state was logged off from the 1840s to the 1870s, and then there were also huge fires after that. There are very few areas with any original forest. Our trees might be the second or maybe the third planting on this property. But despite their youth it will be said when they are gone. We can destroy in an instant what it takes generations to replace.


  11. I’m glad you had a few days to yourself! Not cool of HL to get your dad back early, though. I’m sure it’s tough but if you are somehow able to deal for 358 days of the year, he should be able to do 7…
    Yikes on the tree situation. Such beautiful, mature trees, I too would hate to see them go if I were in your shoes! We have one huge pine tree in our front garden and I’m just waiting for the day to come when the municipality comes knocking telling us to cut it down because it’s a hazard or something. The day that happens may be the day I move out, I couldn’t bear to see it go.


    • One definitely does get attached to vegetation, although I’m a bit surprised as I was never hyper-outdoors girl. But our new, annoying neighbor came and mowed down a stand of vegetation in order to “help” us, and it was the bit right near the house where all the birds and rodents and butterflies gather during the summer, and I was furious.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. […] can stay in there, I still need to get a lot of that stuff into the house. I scheduled that for dad’s fall fishing trip, except that HL came back a day early. And then I re-scheduled it for the first day of the […]


  13. […] nine months of discussion, hand-wringing, and negotiation, we sold the house (beginning of story here), and we are now renting it, until June 1. The house will be demolished and most of the trees taken […]


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