June 2019

June 8, 2019

Lydia’s giving a swimming lesson in the pool and I’m sitting at the dining table staring at our neighbor’s brand new outdoor kitchen structure. Though it’s been there for two months, since we got back from Mexico, I’m still not used to it. It’s 10 feet from our property line and looms over our fence like a spanking new public restroom facility. While I know they spared no expense on it, the outdoor kitchen it houses, not to mention the giant TV that’s pointed right at our pool, it just is out of place in our neighborhood of 1970s houses, each different from the one next door. I told Lydia last night that, even though this giant metal-roofed facility is still driving me to distraction, I’m kind of grateful it was built. I’ve been so attached to my quiet, very private, park-like backyard for these last 18 years that I probably needed this intrusive change in order to begin my emotional separation. And on cue, the neighbor’s kids just got in their new pool, the dog is barking and mom is yelling. Can’t wait for Mexico!

June 9, 2019

A great day today. Matt, my son, came with the grandkids for the day, most of which we spent in the pool. Lyla is 4 and just beginning to swim, thanks to Lydia’s teaching. A couple of weeks ago the lightbulb went on in her cute little head and she stuck her face in the water and started to go. After a couple of years of wrestling with the whole “I don’t want to go underwater thing,” it was quite amazing at how quickly the fear just washed away. Lydia, who has been teaching swimming for more than 20 years, was not at all surprised, but as Lyla’s “Gigi” she was very pleased, nonetheless. Miles, who is 3, has no fear of getting his face wet, but he’s not in a swim lesson regimen so far this season, so is not pool safe yet.

I expect the toughest thing about moving to Mexico will be being away from these guys. They live a mere 5 miles up the road, and this time of year we see them at least once a week. Lyla will be the hardest to leave. She has spent much more time alone with us - in fact I don’t think Miles has ever been alone with us - and she treats our house as her home away from home. Takes toy inventory on each visit. Goes upstairs to see “her room,” though I don’t think she’s actually stayed in that room more than a few times. All the possessive actions that little kids take. It’s going to be hard to be away, but I think it may help our relationship with Matt and his wife Lisa. And for Lydia and me? It’s going to be very strange. We’ve spent the last 28 years with Matt as our priority. Now it’s our turn to be first.

June 10, 2019

Two things happened today that are worth writing about. First, we approved a price reduction on the house, from $775,000 to $759,000. Jon, our REALTOR, convinced us that this is closer to a market “sweet spot.” At the higher price we were at the upper edge. So the good news is that we’re more aligned. The bad news, though, is that there’s just not a lot going on in Mount Pleasant at the $700-800,000 level. But we feel good that this will result in more activity without jeopardizing our plans for Puerto Aventuras.

A potentially bigger decision was made over cocktails - a lot of decisions are made at that time, the good ones before the second drink. We decided that I would try one more time to see if Matt is interested in the house. Lydia thinks his mind may be shifting and that he may be more inclined to want us closer. I think we both agree that it would be great if we can work a deal for the house with he and Lisa. This may impact our finances for Puerto Aventuras, but maybe not. I hope to talk with Matt on Thursday at the golf course.

June 11, 2019

Two highlights today, one good one bad. On the plus side Lyla had a great swimming lesson. She spent the entire half-hour swimming. Face in the water, arms at least trying to stretch and pull. Until today her swimming has been improving, but mostly in between activities like the kickboard. Things that keep her face out of the water. Today she has wanted to be submerged. She even floated on her stomach several times, head underwater. As Lydia said, that’s a sure sign of a growing comfort in the water. Yeah, Lyla!

The bad news of the day was Miles had the tip of his finger almost completely severed at day care. Matt texted from the hospital and then followed with a phone call. The weird thing is that it’s the same finger Lyla got slammed in the door a couple of years ago, with the same result. Word is that Miles will be fine and that the finger, like Lyla’s, was successfully reattached. As I told Matt, in 67 years I haven’t lost a single body part. Very strange.

June 12, 2019

Remember when I wrote that I’m going to try to write every day? Well, I messed up. It’s now Friday and I’m trying to remember what happened on Wednesday. Normally, I’d be writing about Wednesday no later than Thursday morning, but, for a good reason, I missed a day.

I do remember that we had our friend Kathi over Wednesday night for cocktails and dinner. She’d been away for 6 months so we played catch up most of the evening. As she was leaving, nephew Todd arrived. Todd is Lydia’s brother’s son. While she communicates regularly with him, we hadn’t seen him in quite a while.

June 13, 2019

I’m almost back on track. Today - it’s actually tomorrow (Friday) but I’m trying to stay in the present tense as much as I can - I woke up to discover that my last top left moller had split down the middle. Not sure why? Maybe I was grinding my teeth during the night. At any rate, while it wasn’t overly painful it was pretty disconcerting, being able to move half my tooth with my tongue, but not be able to pull the loose part out. So I called our dentist and drove to North Charleston. Bill Phillips is a great guy. And while I know we don’t agree on much politically, he always makes me laugh. But today’s laugh was not as welcome. After numbing me up he started pulling and pushing on the tooth and ended up breaking it off at the gum line. Then he suggested that I go to an oral surgeon because if Bill tried to get at it he’d end up “beating the shit out of me.” I couldn’t help but chuckle, but only briefly.

So I drove a few miles to the oral surgeon. Filled out all the paperwork. Took a dose of antibiotics because of my fake hip and then had to wait for an hour or so for the pills to take effect. I was in a daze pretty much all through this thing because I still couldn’t figure out how the tooth broke in the first place. Finally, I got in the chair, got numbed up again, and they yanked the rest of the tooth without too much trouble. The people were very nice and very professional. But my day was pretty much ruined.

June 14, 2019

A busy but pretty much uneventful day. My jaw still hurts from the the tooth removal, but it’s more of a distraction than anything else. We spent some time getting ready for yet another open house on Saturday. I wish I had a good feeling about selling this house, but until someone expresses some level of interest I feel like we have the least desirable property in town. Lydia stays on her paring down course. Today we sold the day bed/trundle in the guest house. She says that this makes her feel like she’s moving forward in spite of the the lack of activity on the house. I guess that makes sense, but it’s hard for me to get motivated.

We saw “Rocket Man” the new movie about Elton John today. After a slightly slow beginning, surprising me with Broadway-type musical numbers, it really picked up and turned out to be really, really good. The guy who played Elton was terrific, as was the rest of the cast. After the movie we took Kathi to the Boathouse for happy hour. The view overlooking Breach Inlet is spectacular and, as always, we saw dolphins feeding on the incoming tide.

September 15, 2019

This was supposed to be our down day. Lydia had swimming lessons in the morning and then we planned to go to lunch while the realtors were conducting an open house at our place. We decided on Sol, which has consistently good food and a comfortable atomosphere, not to mention that it’s practically across the street. The problem with Sol, and now I’ve decided about every place else in Mount Pleasant, at least, is that it’s just too expensive. Sure enough, lunch was $75, which included beers and a bloody mary. I know you can say, “what do you expect” when you have cocktails and food, but Lydia’s birthday dinner in Puerto Aventuras - 3 courses and cocktails - was $75. Just sayin’.

But the killer today wasn’t lunch, it was stopping by our friends’ house - Bob and Ginny’s - on the way home because we still had some time to kill before the open house was over. So we had a little wine with “G,” as Bob was taking care of his mom’s estate down in Florida. Then we decided to all go back to our place to hang out in the pool. Our down day thus became a bit of a drink-a-thon. A fun time, but I need a little break from alcohol and tomorrow is Father’s Day.

June 16, 2019

Between booze and my aching jaw, my sleep cycle has been disrupted for the past couple of days. I wake up in the middle of the night. My jaw hurts. I get up, take some Tylenol, get back in bed and try to sleep. No luck. The brain is now going, thinking mostly about the house and our perceived difficulty in getting it sold. So I read for a little while. My body cools off and I start to get drowsy. I turn off the light, then Lydia starts snoring and my brain wakes up again. Not fun.

At least I have our Father’s Day plans to look forward to… and they didn’t disappoint. Matt and Lisa brought the kids for swimming and grilling. Miles is incapacitated with his finger that he can’t get wet, but he chased the ball for us when it went out of the pool and he likes doing that. Lyla has become quite the swimmer this spring, and never ventured far from the pool. Her comfort level is now so high that Matt started throwing her up and letting her sink. She scrambles her way back to the surface and yells “again!” Matt loves it.

The big news today was a conversation Lydia and I have with Matt about the house. We had asked him at the beginning of this process if he wanted the house. He said he did but that he didn’t see how he could work it financially, plus, he explained, that he and Lisa had decided that they liked their house and were in no hurry to move. Even though he had expressed those thoughts, we hadn’t completely given up on the idea that Matt would own our house. So we took one more pass at him, stressing the idea that if he had any interest, we would be willing to work out the financials so that it worked for everyone. And I showed him how some kind of alternative financing wouldn’t force us to change our plans for Mexico. I hope we broke through because I think this would be a great opportunity for he and Lisa, and be a great place for the kids to grow up. We’ll see…

June 17, 2019

Things with the house are looking up. We had a showing today and another scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning. Today’s showing was definitely a step in the right direction. The report back indicated that they really like the house, not just the backyard. Price was not an objection, but they are looking for a one-story, so our place might not be right. At least people who can afford the house have now seen it and liked it.

Tonight Lydia got the photos of a condo Paola has listed in PA. It’s a penthouse in a building and area that we really like. It has views of both the marina and the ocean. It’s 1600 feet and has a rooftop terrace that’s fully covered. The photos aren’t great and the kitchen needs help, but I think this might be a real possibility. Now we just have to sell this place.

We ended the day with the 4th episode of “Chernobyl” on HBO. Very intense!

June 18, 2019

So much for catching up. I’m writing this on Friday and this is supposed to be about Tuesday. Everything is running together and it’s all overshadowed by our position in limbo. I do know that Lyla spent most of the day here, mostly in the pool. She is such a joy to be around when her mom and brother aren’t around. She’s very bright and strong-willed and I sometimes think Lisa let’s her run the show. I know Lyla can be bossy, but it’s got to be scary for a 4 year old when, too often, she’s given decision-making power. Lydia doesn’t let that happen in our house, where she has clear boundaries and good behavior is expected. I think she feels a sense of relief when she’s here. Of course, she also is getting our complete attention, which is something Matt and Lisa can rarely give her. That’s about all I remember about Tuesday.

June 19, 2019

Again, I’m trying to recall two days ago. This is getting a little pathetic. I know we were supposed to go out to dinner with Kathi and her sister, but that didn’t work out. Lydia and I are kind of paralyzed. We can’t make any plans. We don’t want to spend money. This not being able to sell the house is becoming very stressful.

June 20, 2019

Today the stress kind of overwhelmed the dam. It was a quiet day. Lydia had lessons and I worked on Sac-Be most of the day. In addition to our limbo Lydia has decided to go on a diet - no carbs during the week. She says she’s doing it to get control over something in her life, which is why I quit smoking 28 years ago. so I totally understand why she’s doing it, but diets are horrible, much harder than quitting smoking, and I think she’s added even more to her stress level.

When she got back from teaching her water aerobics class, I was waiting at the door, glass of wine in hand. Long story short, instead of eating dinner, we ended up drinking. And given the mood we are each in, a conversation about Mexico turned into a fight. Fighting when half in the bag never ends well, and this was no exception.

Over the years I’ve had an almost obsessive need to keep people from controlling my life. I’ve broken partnerships and moved to new places just to avoid this feeling of other people having the upper hand. It’s why I quit writing novels back in my 20’s. I loved the work, the solitary sense of accomplishment, but when I finished a manuscript I had to try to find a publisher. So I went from having total control to having the sense of no control. It was excruciating. Today it’s waiting for someone to like our house enough to make an offer. And given the limited information that’s available to us, we can’t even get a handle on what, if anything, we can do to make it more desirable, or just to have it shown more often.

The greatest strength Lydia and I have is that we are a team, always have been. We support each other. We agree on goals and objectives and we work together to achieve them. This is the first time I’ve felt that our teamwork is threatened.

June 21, 2019

Today is Matt’s birthday - 37 and counting. His step-brother Tommy is in town from Florida, on his way to visit his mother in upstate NY. So Matt, Lisa, the kids and Tommy were here for swimming and a cookout.

But wait, before they arrived, Lydia and I hashed out last night’s fight. I think we’re back on track but still have a lot of work to do, especially me.

Back to the pool party. Lyla was the star and poor Miles, in his cast, can only sit and watch. Actually, that’s not fair to Miles. He kept busy throwing the ball for Reggie, one of Tommy’s two little dogs. Reggie likes to swim, so Miles would throw the ball in the pool for Reg to fetch. Once Reg learned where the steps were, which he did very quickly, Miles would throw, Reg would run around the pool trying to find the most comfortable spot to leap. He’d grab the ball and chug the length of the pool to the steps. This went on for at least a couple of hours.

Lyla is now a real swimmer. She grabs toys off the bottom of the pool. She jumps, lets her Dad throw her into the pool and swims back and forth between grown ups, whether they’re looking or not. At one point she swam from Lydia to Tommy, but he chose that moment to submerge, so she arrived at the spot where she thought Tommy would be and then just turned around and swam back to Lydia. It was quite amazing. Lydia has had a lot of success stories in 20 years of teaching swimming, but none are more satisfying that watching Lyla learn to love the water.

The other news of the day is that I don’t think Matt’s interested in the house. He didn’t say anything directly, but he did make some comments about future plans for his own house. So I guess that’s off the table. Oh, and Tommy, who’s pretty knowledgeable about such things, told Lydia that the real estate market everywhere was grinding to a halt, and that we should do everyhthing we can to sell this summer. Even though we’ve talked about this, in fact, it was a major reason for our timing, but it was good for Lydia to hear it from Tom. Now we just have to figure out exactly what this will entail.

June 22, 2019

I accidentally deleted this post, which wanted to delete all of June, so I opted just to lose what I had written about today. So I will recreate with a limited amount of interest.

Kathi brought Zoe over for birthday dinner and a swim. Zoe turned 8, I think, and she’s such a great kid. She was in town for a week from Hawaii, flew all the way to her other grandparents in North Carolina by herself. We were telling her how Matt used to do that when he was that age. Even though Matt flying from Maryland To California by himself was quite a feat, that was 1991 and flying was a whole lot easier and more personal back then. So Zoe flying from Honolulu to Houston by herself in 2019 is really impressive.

Not much else happened. Kathi’s roommate brought a nice salmon filet so we had a great meal. Early to bed.

June 23, 2019

Sunday and the first “normal” Sunday we’ve had since we’ve been back. Construction is finally finished next door. The contractors didn’t work on the house across the street and, of course, the town wastewater people don’t work on Sundays. I floated in the pool by myself and with Lydia and we could actually hear the birds. It was quite exciting. So we floated and stared up at the hawks circling, watched all the birds hide. Then when the hawks were gone the “all clear” signal went up and the birds started gathering at the bird feeders. One of the best days I’ve had so far this summer!

June 24, 2019

I walked the entire golf course this morning for the first time since we’ve been back - 4 miles, temperature 90 and rising. I decided while walking that our move to Mexico is something I’d do even if money were no object. I’ve had it with Mount Pleasant. I still like Charleston, which is a politically effective city that’s actually trying to solve the problems it faces. Mount Pleasant, on the other hand, just seems to be either fighting with itself or denying that it has certain problems. I’ve also had it with the young affluent. I know, it’s the generation we raised, and somehow we gave them an extra materialistic gene, at least the Mount Pleasant species. Instant gratification (Amazon Prime) and insatiable appetites for things (ecommerce in general).

So as I walked I let my mind go with the options, assuming money were not a big issue. With Mount Pleasant out of the picture, but grands still here, maybe a condo somewhere? IOP and Sullivans? No way. Folly, James or Johns Islands? Not interested. How about a condo downtown? That would be tempting, but I realized that without our own pool, Charleston gets too hot. While we love our backyard in the summer, so it would be a place to escape the heat of the Yucatan in the summer, I wouldn’t want to leave the beach for the city in July and August. Rather than have two homes, one here and one in Mexico, I’d just upgrade my possibilities in Puerto Aventuras and visit the U.S. a little more frequently. I’d also try to figure out something for the car, so we could have it available here for our trips back. That’s the big news of the day.

June 25, 2019

I’ve fallen behind again. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday trying to catch up on moving and editing Sac-Be content. Also had a little to do for my LA client. Got the yard work done today and some swimming. Just busy without a lot of chance to think.

June 26, 2019

The day was busy with exercise and shopping. Lydia and I did the grocery shopping and then I swam. Worked on Sac-Be in the afternoon. Lydia and I had a couple of cocktails and then I hunkered down for the first debate of the presidential season.

10 of the 25 democrats running took the stage in Miami. Liz Warren, my favorite, was one of this group. She did well, as did Julian Castro and Corey Booker. I’m already starting to get tired of all these supposed experts saying that the democrats risk losing to Trump because they’re all getting sucked to the left by Liz, Bernie and AOC. My contention is that unless we can come up with policies that really distinguish ourselves from what the Republicans have been doing for the last 30 years then nothing will change. If Joe Biden gets elected, for instance, that will be a great change from his Trumpiness, but Biden will be like Clinton, “Republican light.” That leaves the door open for someone like Nikki Haley, who is godawful, in 2024. The republican party has put us in the position we’re in - way behind in climate change efforts, largest wealth gap since 1929, demise of the middle class, etc. If our candidate doesn’t have progressive ideas and policies that people discuss and vote on in 2020 we’re screwed.

June 27, 2019

Continuing with my political thoughts from yesterday, tonight was part 2 of the first Democratic debate. I admit to not watching the whole thing as Lydia and I are hooked on this TV show called “Queen of the South.” It’s about a Mexican woman who gets trapped in the world of drug cartels and rises to become the head of a cartel. We just started and have 4 seasons to go.

At any rate, we did see a good chunk of the debate and it was totally different from Part 1, which was policy oriented and pretty staid. This one was feisty. Biden drew a lot of flak from the other candidates and his exchanges with Kamala Harris really seemed to hurt. In fact, Kamala was terrific and I may be changing my personal rankings. Most importantly, though, to the surprise of the pundits, especially the anti-Trump Republicans, most of the candidates are adopting activist policies, especially on health care and immigration. For so long the Democratic party has been afraid to stand for anything and let Republicans define the battlefield. The media is still in that space, but the candidates are emerging from it. As Mayor Pete said, caution doesn’t work. It might win an election but you can’t get anything done if you’re worried about being called liberal. Time to actually be liberal!

Miles and Lyla came this morning with Lisa for Lyla’s swim lesson. Lyla’s new trick is picking things off the bottom of the pool in the DEEP END. Lydia has to push her down because she’s so buoyant, but Lyla takes it from there, scopping up the toys and getting back to the surface by herself. I still have to pinch myself when watching because she’s come so far in just a 2 or 3 weeks.

Miles, on the other hand, was not in good spirits. He’s got this big bandage on his right hand to protect the finger tip that he almost sliced off, so I get his frustration. It must be hard to watch his sister get all of this acclaim and not be able to compete.

Still no news on the house. It has been almost two weeks since we’ve even had a showing. Not sure where we go from here? I wrote a new description of the house for the realtors to use. I want to believe my masterful copywriting will make a difference, but I’m not optimistic. I just wish we had more communication with our friend, Jon, our listing agent.

June 28, 2019

Lydia and I went out for a late breakfast this morning while Emma’s crew cleaned the house. I can’t recall the name of the place, but it was in Mount Pleasant, at the little strip mall on Anna Knapp and 17. The server was very personable, maybe even a little much so. I had the corned beef hash and Lydia had the shrimp and grits. Neither was worth writing more about. Not much else happened until evening, when we went to Rich and Sally’s for cocktails and dinner. We always enjoy them, and get our fix of politics and Boston sports teams.

June 29, 2019

Saturday - as I was walking this morning we got a text about a house showing in the afternoon. We hadn’t had one is almost two weeks, so we were both excited. I went for a swim after my walk, and while I was in the pool the showing was cancelled. Crap! All it said was the client wasn’t interested in seeing our house. Really makes you feel great. What’s wrong with our house? This is getting ridiculous and we’re not responding well. Lydia has a had a bad neck for a couple of weeks, and I gotta believe that a big reason is the stress of being in limbo. I also find that we’re fighting more and are just generally short-tempered. We had hoped that this would be a summer to remember, our last in Charleston. Well, it has been one to remember, though not for the reasons we had hoped.

Bob, Ginny, Kathi and Zoie came for a swim and dinner tonight. We had a rousing game of keep-it-up in the pool, followed by cocktails and dinner - burgers on the grill. It was a nice break. In fact, I find myself wanting more and more of these gatherings just as a distraction from the stress. When Lydia and I are alone we’re never more than one mention removed from dwelling on the house situation.

June 30, 2019

Last day of June. Lydia and Sally went to church and then she and I had brunch at Grace and Grit. We hadn’t been since it first opened, mostly because it hadn’t been a great experience. Matt and Lisa gave Lydia a gift certificate for Mother’s Day, so we tried it again. Great experience this time. The food is very much like the owner did when we was chef and making over the menu at Acme, on the Isle of Palms. In fact, I had the fried chicken biscuit with sausage gravy, which is one of my favorite dishes at Acme. Lydia had the crabcake benedict special, which was also excellent. Best of all, with the gift certificate the whole thing came to less than $20 out of my pocket.

The rest of the day has been as lazy as possible. We decided to binge watch the last season of “Shameless” because Comcast was having a free Showtime weekend. We got through 8 episodes, of the 14, and still had time to float in the pool for more than an hour. Very relaxing day. We also got a “dog fix” because our neighbors left their dog, Pepper, with us for three nights. We love Pepper, a very gentle and well behaved soul. So June finishes on a high note!

Mike PontiusComment