Movin’ On

One of my favorite Bad Company songs is “Movin’ On”. (I still think the late Boz Burrell is a tremendously underrated bass player.) But I can tell you, after last week, at least for now, movin’ on is one of my least favorite experiences.

I’ve written elsewhere (here and here) about the travails Anne and I have been through in finding and acquiring a new home. We had no idea the best was yet to come.

Our moving day was May 24th. The closing date for the house we sold (in South Windsor, Connecticut) was May 25th (at 1:00 p.m., to be precise). We were as ready as we could be for both (especially since we’d packing for an initial closing date of April 28th.)

Anne and I aren’t hoarders. We’re not terribly materialistic. We disdain clutter. And we were diligent about giving stuff away, donating it, or consigning it as we packed in preparation for our move. But when I saw the truck from the moving company arrive, I said to Anne, “That thing’s too small.” As regular readers of my lunacy know, I hate it when I’m right.

On the morning of the 24th, I headed to our new abode (in Middletown, Connecticut) to meet the cable guy. He was coming to install our new service. When I arrived, the place was spectacularly unfinished and crawling with contractors — painters, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and a landscaping crew that was running around the property with two tractors, churning up dust which wafted in through the doors and windows, all of which were open because of the proliferation of contractors and the dearth of air conditioning.

As it turns out, the owner/developer from whom we bought the place (a narcissistic, micromanaging cafone, who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and doesn’t care) had systematically pissed off a series of contractors, all of whom walked off the job at various times. (Hence, the reason we hadn’t closed and moved on April 28th.) The contractors who were present on May 24th were the ones he could scrounge up at the time. Several of those have since have since quit, as well, including the landscaping crew. (See the photo at the top of this post.)

Where Was I?

Somewhere around mid-day, Anne called from South Windsor to say another moving truck was on the way there. (Good grief.) Meanwhile, because the cafone and the electrician agreed no cable had to be run behind the walls with the electrical wiring, the cable guy had to drill holes through the floor to run the cable that didn’t need to be run behind the walls with the electrical wiring.

While he was going about his business, someone somewhere in the house ran water. The next person to go down to the basement found it flooded. That resulted in a visit from the friendly neighborhood Roto-Rooter guy, armed with a 110-foot snake (for trying to clear the sewer line from the house to the street) and a camera (for determining the state of the sewer line from the house to the street once he’d snaked it). After much effort to get his snake down the drain, to no avail, the camera revealed the old cast iron elbow joined that angled the waste pipe from the house to the sewer line had completely disintegrated.

The friendly neighborhood Roto-Rooter guy returned the next morning (Wednesday, move day plus one) to jackhammer the concrete floor in the basement in what turned out to be a successful effort to restore waste-plumbing functionality — without having to go outside to dig up the front yard and the new sidewalk to the front door. And when he was able to run the camera down the sewer line, he determined it was clear to the street. One bullet dodged.

Anne I spent the morning renting a U Haul truck and driving back to South Windsor to get the stuff the movers left the day before. Once we filled the truck, we realized all of our stuff hadn’t fit. Anne stayed in South Windsor to get things organized. I drove the truck to Middletown, unloaded it, returned it, and drove back to South Windsor in my SUV. Once I’d loaded that, I realized (you guessed it) I’d have to make yet another trip, bearing in mind all of the South Windsor premises had to be vacated by 1:00 p.m.

Somewhere around 2:30, back in Middletown, I determined it would be impossible for us to sleep in our new abode that evening. Somewhere around 3:00, as the cafone was leaving, he instructed the remaining contractors and me to leave the house open that night, doors, windows, and the bulkhead in the basement.

“Nothing’s gonna happen,” quoth the cafone.”

“Not so fast, Kemosabe,” I said. “At some point later today, two moving vans will show up here containing all of our worldly possessions. After that, we’ll be finding somewhere else to sleep, since this place isn’t ready to be slept in, thank you very much. All things being equal, I’d prefer not to put that stuff up for an overnight, five-finger discount free-for-all.”

As close as I could get to determining his reply, it was something along the lines of, “Harumph.”

The two moving trucks arrived in Middletown at about 3:30. They didn’t finish unloading until about 8:00. Because of the work still being done in the house, almost everything had to go in the garage.

Fast Forward

At this writing, we’re now into day eight in our new house. It isn’t a home yet because there are still contractors working here. Most of our belongings are still in the garage. Our cars are still outside. What was supposed to have been our yard is still a dust bowl. We can only shower in the guest bathroom because the other two showers don’t have doors on them yet. The badly cracked driveway hasn’t been replaced yet. And the house has failed to earn its Certificate of Approval from the City of Middletown on the past two consecutive Fridays. The next inspection is scheduled for June 6th. So, we’re still haunted by periodic visits from the narcissistic, micromanaging cafone, who’s managed to learn nothing from the fiasco he precipitated.

But as of yesterday, all three of the bathrooms in the house have doors on them. (Until then, there was only one bathroom with a door. Privacy is overrated.) We have the kitchen pretty well organized. (See the photo below.) New locks are being installed today. We were able to put our bed frame together last night and sleep above the floor for the first time in a week. We’re adjusting slowly and getting a little more accomplished every day. Believe it or not, we’re actually happy here. Inconvenienced? Yes. Happy? Definitely.


Last Sunday, we were granted a welcome reprieve from our moving efforts. One of our grandchildren, Nora — daughter of our son, Quinn, and our beautiful daughter-in-law, Katie — is enrolled in The Griffith Academy of Dance. She’s taking lessons in Irish Step Dance. (You expected what from Nora Quinn O’Brien?) The Academy put on its annual recital at Wethersfield High School, featuring dancers from the age of two all the way up through graduating seniors in high school. To say it was magnificent and joyful is to sell it woefully short.

At the end of the program, the Academy awarded scholarships. Of all the children in the pre-school program, Nora was awarded the only scholarship. She will attend the Academy for her next year of dance at no charge. That’s Nora in the photo below. And if you must know, yes, her proud Grandpa bawled like the Irish softie he is. But I wouldn’t want that to get around.

Happy? Definitely. Blessed? Without a doubt.


Mark O'Brien
Mark O'Brien
I’m a business owner. My company — O’Brien Communications Group (OCG) — is a B2B brand-management and marketing-communication firm that helps companies position their brands effectively and persuasively in industries as diverse as: Insurance, Financial Services, Senior Living, Manufacturing, Construction, and Nonprofit. We do our work so well that seven of the companies (brands) we’ve represented have been acquired by other companies. OCG is different because our business model is different. We don’t bill by the hour or the project. We don’t bill by time or materials. We don’t mark anything up. We don’t take media commissions. We pass through every expense incurred on behalf of our clients at net. We scope the work, price the work, put beginning and end dates on our engagements, and charge flat, consistent fees every month for the terms of the engagements. I’m also a writer by calling and an Irish storyteller by nature. In addition to writing posts for my company’s blog, I’m a frequent publisher on LinkedIn and Medium. And I’ve published three books for children, numerous short stories, and other works, all of which are available on Amazon under my full name, Mark Nelson O’Brien.

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    • Thank you, John. We had two choices: (A) Keep a positive attitude about it. (B) Get royally indignant and frustrated. If we’d gone with Option B, we’d have only gotten royally indignant and frustrated to no constructive or enjoyable end. We’re definitely making progress, and we’re definitely happy to be where we are.

    • Thank you, Catherine. Nora is, indeed, an Irish beauty.

      We have contractors in the house again today (Saturday), and we’ll be unloading boxes and finding lost items for weeks, I’m sure. But we’re getting there a little at a time. Anne definitely has a gift for making spaces gorgeous.

  1. I’m sorry you and Anne had to go thru all that. Hope it helps a little to know we can sympathize with you. I’d be more astonished by your story if you’d written everything went beautifully and according to plan. There was a time when curse words rarely left my mouth. Then we built a house. Contractors bring out language I didn’t even know I knew. Crazy thing is we built a second house and just last year finished up building our third house. In the end, we get to what is good and that’s all that matters. Thanks for sharing with us!

    • Thank you, Tammy. Every bit of support helps. And we’re definitely making progress. From what I hear, including from friends who are building in Portugal, construction SNAFUs are universal. This, too, shall pass.

      Thank you for the support and for joining the conversation.

  2. Very relatable, Mark, and welcome home.

    I think what you will find over the next 0-12 months that a lot of small things that you normally would have taken for granted – like closing the bathroom door or not sleeping on the floor to name just two – will fill you with a new sense of gratitude that you haven’t enjoyed for years. Who knew one could be so happy to see the water leaving the bathtub as expected? Or that the kitchen fan works? Or running broadband? Or…

  3. Moving is a SOB, Mark. Its never cut and dry. Nevertheless, I am happy to hear you and Anne love the new place, despite the shortcomings of your cafonish developer. Your grandbaby is awesome. Perhaps she’ll make a visit to the competitions at the the annual Minnesota Irish Fair. . .

    IF so, you know who’ll be buying you a pint 🙂


    From a Norwegian who married an Irish lass. . .

    • Thank you, Aaron. The Minnesota Irish Fair may be a can’t-miss event. And the pint is definitely a pot-sweetener. Congratulations on marrying up. 😉

  4. OH MY GOODNESS, Mark! I thought I had it rough when I moved, but at least the work got done before I moved in and I hadn’t yet sold my condo, so I had a place to stay. My contractor was clearly a relative of your guy, the cafone, but lucky for me, he did have excellent subs who did the right things at the right time. Phew!

    Love the pictures — your kitchen looks a little like mine here in my cottage, and your granddaughter? PRICELESS!


    • Thank you, Susan. All the credit for the beautiful features in our new home go to Anne. And Nora reminds me why I was grateful not to have daughters. I’m a complete pushover, and that little girl keeps me securely wrapped around her finger. 😁