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Friday, April 9, 2010


In a few weeks, Barbara and I will leave Florida and return to Michigan. There, a really daunting task awaits us: trying to sell a tatty old four-bedroom colonial full of charm but with few other inducements. That is, inducements to buy, which assumes there are people still alive who can qualify for a mortgage. If the whole country is punch drunk from the collapse in real estate, the Detroit area is down for the count.

Perhaps as a way of persuading ourselves there's hope, late last fall we started looking at apartments. If nothing else, we thought this process would get us started imagining ourselves in different digs, digs demanding a huge, sudden leap in the level of rigor and self-discipline we bring—OK, fail to bring--to the world of stuff.

--Thanks for baking me a cake.
--Well, it’s your birthday.
--Thank you for making me a real homemade cake.
--So to speak. A real mix made at home, anyway.
--You know, you’ve never said a word about those apartments we looked at.
--Which ones? The ones in Bloomfield?
--Not a word, nary a peep.
--I never told you whether or not I want to live at the end of the world?
--Not a peep.
--You like that word, don’t you? Well, my silence should be peep enough. Except you always complain about my not peeping. That I’m too quiet.
--Not always. But it’s true you hold your peep most of the time. Think of all the things you don’t talk about. Bungee jumping is one. Parasailing. I don’t think you ever peeped about those.
--Here, then, is my official peep or tweet on those apartments. They’re too far off the map. It’s nowhere near all the things we like. Plus, I didn’t like that talk about occasionally, possibly having a water problem in the basement. That’s where we’d store all our junk, in those big closets. “People usually put down pallets,” she said. Imagine all our stuff down there getting moldy.
--Come on. You make it sound like a swamp. I didn’t see any water damage.
--Uh huh. I’m sure that’s what you were looking for.
--It didn’t smell musty, did it?
--How would you know?
--I have a sinus problem, a handicap. You shouldn’t be critical.
--Trust me, it smelled musty. So “no” is the last word and final peep from me on living over a swamp.
--They were huge apartments, though.
--Of course they were huge. There’s nothing to see or do outside, so they have to give you lots of space to wander around in. Where you can rest up when you aren’t bailing out the basement.


  1. Bless your hearts, welcome to the world of frustrated downsizers. We went the same route of looking for condos we could feel good about living in. We found two we fell in love with, put our house on the market, got two lookers in six months, decided not to join the neighborhood house price war (how low can you go?), took the house off the market, and dream about the condos we fell in love with. Now what? Looking forward to your chronicles and hoping you have good luck along the way.

  2. Good luck with your venture into the realty morass. I face this within a couple of years and I am hoping for major changes in the market before then. Ha!

  3. Nance-
    The thirty percent gone missing you mentioned recently in trying to educate young people about retirees: that explains why we were looking at apartments, not condos.

    Since you won't be taking on the morass in over-built southeastern Florida or under-employed southeastern Michigan, the odds should be better for you.


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