POST 14 Is Keepin me Wai-ai-ai-ai-aaaaiting

Carly and James

Newton’s Narrative of Collisions: Actions and reactions keep on clicking!

Moore’s Maxim of Computers: Microchips keep getting faster!

Peter’s Principle of Companies: People keep on rising!

Raff’s Rule of Construction: Nothing ever happens.

I must be patient. I know the architect is working on the plans. I believe the bank is working on the financing. And I hope the attorney is working on the contract. But it feels like months (actually 4 weeks) since we closed on the property and I am filled with the energy of wanting to see a home bloom in the desert, or at least on a vacant lot in Riverwoods.

We know the importance of taking our time. Remodeling space for the laboratory took half a year of planning days and sleepless nights. Barb spent nine months  planning our kitchen makeover, resulting in straight forward construction and a perfect end result. But I want this project to be zooming ahead, 8 cylinders clicking along, with a turbo boost when needed. I never foresee the hold ups and delays, so I am blindsided every time the bank says they require one more document, or a room needs to have one more revision.

I can wait half an hour to be seated at Cheesecake Factory for a Skinny Menu salad without too much grumbling. I don’t need to search for the shortest line at the local Whole Foods. And I don’t mind taking a number and waiting my turn at the deli. But I want this house to happen!

My outlook needs a makeover. I need to delete the exclamation points, ease back on the throttle and let my blood pressure flatten out a bit. Writing helps with that, so thank you faithful readers. The house will be built, and in the meantime there are lovely days to enjoy, happy events to celebrate and a wonderful wife to envision the future with. These ARE the good old days.

But when you are looking forward to the last grilled beef, turkey or tofu burger of the summer, and waiting ever so impatiently for the last dollop of ketchup to ever so slowly drip out of the bottle remember, it could be worse. You could be building your dream house.  ketchup

Have a great weekend. Be sure to leave a comment here or on Facebook. And feel free to hit the “Share” arrow!


POST 13 Hope You Guessed My Name

stonesThe first rendering of the new house exterior has arrived!  Our architect sent it in an email yesterday. It is a fairly simple line drawing, inspired by a particular house Barb had identified. The drawing was faithful to the model, but Barb printed it out, grabbed a magic marker and with a few quick strokes transformed it into something special. If my dream job growing up was in journalism (you can look it up in the 1968 Eugene Field School Reporter), Barb’s was surely in architecture and design. I know she is an excellent therapist, but she would have been outstanding in a more visually creative realm. The new house will be her outlet for letting it all flow.

I have noticed that I keep referring to it as “the new house”. For a few years, Barb and I had a casual acquaintance in England, Ken Somethingorother. instead of an address, his home, like so many in the UK had a lovely name, Lambourne Cottage or the like. I enjoyed writing the name out as we addressed our annual holiday greeting card. We don’t name our houses here, which may be just as well for the two of us.

We have had our ups and downs with naming things. As mentioned a few posts ago, our cat went through a new name a week for quite a while before we settled on Phoebe, a name never used when speaking to her. The notifications from the vet that she is due for her annual physical are still addressed to Cinnamon.  And our daughter was “Unnamed Female Raff” for several days after her birth, until our friend Lysie finally suggested the name Laury. The unique spelling was inadvertent, a reflection of my recollection of the pizzeria on Lawrence and Broadway in the city. Only later did  I realize the actual name of the restaurant was “Laurie’s”.

On the other hand, we have had some naming successes. When Barb was President of the Holy Family Hospital Medical Center Women’s Board the group sponsored a Roaring ’20s night formal dinner-dance. I dubbed the event “Capone and Caviar”, and was quite pleased to see it top the Sun-Times list of “Best Named Charity Events of the Year”.  I didn’t even know there was such a list! Probably the best name I ever devised has gone unused. As part of the merger mania in health care, two Catholic systems Provena and Resurrection joined forces. In my opinion, what is now known as Presence Health would have made a much bigger impact as ProRection. Perhaps they would have used the name if the head of the system was a urologist instead of a nun.

Now I have the fun and challenge of naming each of these blogs. Most of the titles are references in some way to pop culture, usually a bit of a twist on song lyrics. That is something I can claim some expertise in, as long as it is a tune they play on WXRT or The Drive.       …so if you meet me, have some courtesy…….

Speaking of names, please leave yours in the comment field. We would love to know who is reading!

Enjoy the day!

POST 12 Well I’m takin’ my time, I’m just movin’ on

Although we won’t be moving for another year or so, Barb and I have agreed to tackle one room a week, winnowing down 25 years of accumulation to make next year a little easier. Some rooms, like  our bonus room, should be straightforward. Mostly exercise equipment and luggage. Until we discover the long forgotten,  faded photo album, the B’nai Mitzvah banners (Be Like Mike, Laury’s Jungleland), the remnants of our incredible African photo safari. Neither of us are pack rats, but it is still hard to let these things go. We have lost hours looking through the proofs from out wedding photos, feeling the warmth in the smiles emanating from people like our parents and my sister who shared our happiness but are no longer with us. And yes, I could accept tossing my college yearbook, but not before I flipped pages for half an hour searching in vain for the owner of a Chicago sports team, who according to his bio, was a classmate of mine.

I guess each room will have some secret treasure, mixed in with the items that seemed valuable once, but that we can’t at all remember what we saved for. We will fill lots of big black garbage bags and spend many hours on Thursday nights carrying them to the curb.

In a way, that is what this blog is about. It is 10 days old now, with 500 page views, I enjoy writing and the personal feedback Barb and I have received. But I understand now that the true value will be as a documentation of this time in our lives, this very important transition. Fortunately, the documentation is so ephemeral, just images on a screen, that I don’t think we will have to toss them to the curb when the next downsize comes. Our memories will become part of the cloud.

This blog has strayed a bit from previous ones. With that in mind, please answer our poll question, or feel free to leave comments here, on Facebook, or in person.

Hoping the rain storms have passed you all by!

POST 11 Imagine if you can…

Barb on the LotWhere does inspiration come from? What process takes us from this 1/2 acre of potential to the house we want to spend the next phase of our life on?


I am pretty good at the function variable in the equation. I know how I like to use things, I know what I want accessible and what can be buried in the remotest part of the basement. I can work on the puzzle of where each room should be. Design, however, is not my thing. At first it seems like a contradiction, since I spend my professional life peering down a microscope evaluating patterns in the cells and tissues I see stained a brilliant purple and pinkOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But evaluating and recognizing various patterns is far different from being able to stand on our new space and visualize where to dig, where to pour a foundation, where the exterior walls will be. That is something I have a hard time wrapping my concrete brain around.

Barb, on the other hand, is enthralled by the challenge. She possess the ability to look at hundreds of images, mentally process them, and from that create a vision of what our new home should be. The vision changes as new information comes her way, and she will not be satisfied until she has gathered as much of that new information, the magazine pictures, the online bits and bytes, the HGTV shows, as she can. She has concentration abilities and patience I can never match. To paraphrase Malcolm Gladwell and other researchers, Barb is a “think”, while I am a “blink”.

We have spent the last few weekends driving through a couple of suburbs, widely separated geographically and economically, but both with lots of newish construction. I see a house and say “I like that one”; Barb sees a house and imagines how the stone and the brick and the roofing can be altered, the color tones brightened or muted, the front door redesigned.  And I know she is seeing our future, and the relentless pursuit of something far beyond what I could imagine. I guess that is why for 36 years our formula has been