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Mike Jacobs: Some advice after an epic move

We enjoyed country life for 25 years. That recently changed, with a move into town.

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After enduring an epic move – from a private residence, at least – I feel empowered to provide some advice.

The first piece of advice: Collect nothing.

It’s too late for Suezette and me, of course. We – both of us – haven’t just collected things. We amassed things – too many things to be called a collection. Collections are an orderly grouping of interesting and related stuff.

We have amassed a huge volume of stuff, but we haven't amassed just anything. We amass things that appeal to us, whether books, maps and other paper, art, photographs, teddy bears, dolls, presidential portraits, bird illustrations, stamps, furniture. In our 51 years together, we’ve amassed a huge collection of stuff.

But we are not hoarders. Hoarders never part with anything, to the point of forcing themselves out of their own quarters. We have not done that. We’ve periodically reviewed our stuff and gotten rid of some of it.

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The great throw away came with this move. We’ve lived at our place west of Gilby, N.D., for 25 years. The flood drove us out of the city, and it claimed quite of bit of the stuff we had accumulated by that time – halfway through our married life.

We have enjoyed country life for 25 years. In hindsight, however, we rather let ourselves go. That’s because the farmstead we purchased in 1997 included a Quonset measuring 50 feet by 100 feet – enough room to store all of our stuff and the stuff amassed by friends should the Red River flood us all again.

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I have a preference for finding birds in North Dakota, but my quest might take me across the Red River into Minnesota. The woodpeckers don’t respect state boundaries.

That hasn’t happened, of course, but the Quonset has filled up. Perhaps a combination of flood anxiety and a sense of loss may have fueled our acquisitiveness. In any case, we added a codicil to the sales agreement giving us a month after closing to clean out the space. We also claimed the right to harvest the garlic I planted in August — about 1,000 cloves.

(By way of explanation, for those unfamiliar with garlic culture: Garlic is planted in October. The bulbs are divided into individual cloves, which are placed in well tilled soil and then mulched.)

I turned to my neighbor, John Hancock, for help with this. Yes, that’s his name. Hancock has been a good neighbor, greeting us soon after we moved onto our place and keeping an eye on it, plus moving snow from the driveway, 10 times this winter. The previous record was six.

Hancock is well-liked and well-respected in Wheatfield Township. He’s been active in community activities, including the American Legion, and he’s an admiral in North Dakota’s mythical navy, an honor that recognizes his long involvement in rural water programs.

After harvest last fall, he delivered a round bale of wheat straw, which I broke open and distributed over the garlic patch. Perhaps I had a premonition. I spread a foot of straw, at least, over the garlic patch. Heavy snowfall added another layer of insulation against the cold.

I checked the garlic on Sunday. It’s doing well.

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So here’s the second of my four pieces of advice: Get by with a little help from your friends.

The third piece of advice is, lean into your family if you can. In my individual case, I can’t. My family is large but spread out. Suezette’s family, on the other hand, is small and mostly local. Three generations showed up to help us into our new house.

The fourth piece of advice involves getting out of the house. The advice is, count on the professionals. We hired Whalen’s Moving and Storage, as we did when we moved to our rural place.

The advice about professionals goes further and touches me more deeply than the movers, because the one person I could not turn to in this epic move was Suezette, my wife of 50 years, nine months and 16 days. (To be truthful, we lived together for several months before the wedding…so…)

So, anyway, she couldn’t help. She was at Valley Transitions in the care of professionals: doctors, nurses, physical therapists and all the others who help build strength and restore mobility.

But she left me to manage the move.

So here’s a fifth piece of advice: You can’t always count on your wife, because she might be hurting and needs your love, and you should pour it on.

That’s what I did.

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Mike Jacobs is a former editor and publisher of the Grand Forks Herald.

Related Topics: MIKE JACOBS
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