Musings on Moving

Dakota House ext

Barb’s new home in Sylvan Park!

Having recently moved into a new home, I asked my friend Barbara Dab to share her hard won wisdom on relocating! No. 1-  despite your best efforts and endless to do lists, moving is more exhausting than you think!

Barb’s wise suggestions will help make your next move (mostly) trouble-free.


It is widely known that moving is one of life’s most stressful transitions.

I sit here now four months after one such transition and I can safely say that is true.  Just last year my husband and I decided to sell our big suburban home and move into a more urban, close-in neighborhood.  We’ve been married a long time and have moved several times and it does not get any easier.  But over the years I have learned a few things that make moving a smoother process and one that can even be exciting and fun.

Technically our move began with the decision to list the house.  We met with my Realtor and good friend Elizabeth Colton Walls of Fridrich & Clark Realty, to discuss a strategy, time line and to look at the comps in the neighborhood where we lived, where we wanted to look and what our priorities are.  Then the real fun began…NOT!

The next step was to de-clutter our home to get it ready to sell.  I learned that while our house wasn’t cluttered for living, it was cluttered for selling.  Living is about us, selling is about strangers who come to look and dream about living in our house.  Confusing stuff emotionally.

Dakota House Red Front Door

A red front door says “Welcome Home!”

After a whirlwind few weeks of cleaning, packing (yes, packing), organizing and photo shoots the house was ready for its first open house. In the meantime, our realtor began taking us out to look at potential new homes.  To me, that’s the fun part.  My creative juices really start to flow when I envision a new environment and a new lifestyle to go with it.

After several months of both showing our house and house hunting, we found our new home and within 6 weeks we were ready to close and move.  This was actually the scariest part of the process.  We lived in a nearly 4500 square foot house with a full basement and were moving to a 3300 square foot house with a small basement.  Aack!

I confess to having a meltdown but afterwards, I took a breath and started calling movers.  This is a very tricky job involving different information from each moving company.  When it comes to movers, comparing apples to apples is nearly impossible.

Along the way, though, I came across a company Home Transitions that offers project management and organizing services along with packing and unpacking.  It’s a bit pricey, I admit, but in our case it was a lifesaver.  The project manager,  Debbie Keller, oversaw the planning, packing, unpacking, organizing, billing and follow-up of the entire move.  She even coordinated repairs to a large piece of furniture and made sure things were handled in a timely fashion.

Dakota House DR Table

Interior designer Vallie Baldwin (615.300.3592) worked closely with Barb. “Indispensible”

Emotionally the process took a toll I did not expect.  While I simply love my house, at night I just can’t seem to get comfortable with new surroundings.  And even though I am enjoying my hip new neighborhood and short commute, I mourn the big beautiful home in the ‘burbs just a bit.  I guess the point is what I’ve known all along: change is hard no matter how many times you’ve experienced it.  Heck I’m still mourning my move from California to Nashville eight years later!  But I have learned to embrace the change and keep an open mind and heart.  I have gained so much more than I gave up and finally feel connected to my new city.

I’ve been asked to share tips for making a move go smoothly.  I really only have one tip:  figure out what you need to make it work and DO THAT!  For some it is hiring a decorator or organizer, for others it is using friends and family to help while others prefer to do it themselves, enjoying a walk down memory lane as they de-clutter, pack and unpack.

One more thing, my Realtor likes to use the term, “right-sizing,” rather than, “down-sizing.”  This concept may seem simple, but it is revolutionary!  When considering a move really think about what you need, where you need or want to be and manage your expectations.  In the end when it comes to a home, size may not really matter.  As we’ve begun to entertain again my favorite comment from our friends is, “This house looks just like you!”  I guess I really am home now.

Barb Head ShotBarbara Dab is a journalist, news reporter and award winning PR consultant.  Most recently she hosted a public affairs program on NASH FM 103.3 and WGFX 104.5 The Zone in Nashville.  She relocated to Nashville from Los Angeles, where she was  a reporter and News Director for public radio station KPFK 90.7 FM.  She has also worked extensively in nonprofit communications.  Barbara has (finally) escaped the suburbs and is happily residing in Sylvan Park, a stone’s throw from Café Nonna, the Produce Place and her fave watering hole, McCabe’s Pub.


What You Need to Know About Short Term Rental Property (STRP)

What You Need to Know About Short Term Rental Property (STRP)

Turnkey House 1Have you ever considered listing your home or another property on airbnb or VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner)?

I bet you have.

Considering Nashville’s current popularity, renting your home for a few days a month seems pretty enticing.

Short term rental can be lucrative, but there is more to it than just slapping together an on line posting.


(For more information, check out the surprisingly easy to read Metro STRP website)

Turnkey House 5Get A Permit

First you need a  permit. Yes, really. I know your neighbor/ mother-in-law/best friend/ dog walker doesn’t have a permit for their short term rental property, but do you want to be a good citizen or a cheat?

Metro started accepting permit applications in March of this year. Enforcement to have a permit began on July 1.

A short term rental property is defined as “a residential dwelling unit containing not more than four sleeping rooms that is used and/or advertised for rent for transient occupancy…” Rental period is more than 24 hours and less than 30 days. Owner occupied or non-owner occupied properties.

As of this writing, you have to apply for a permit in person. Metro Codes Dept, 800 2nd Ave S.


  • Contact information
  • Floor plan
  • Location of smoke alarms
  • Proof of insurance
  • Proof that you’ve informed your neighbor with whom you share a common wall of your intent (if applicable)
  • Proof of residency (owner occupied property only)
  • $50 fee


Turnkey House 6Know Short Term Rental Caps

This is why every house in Germantown isn’t on aribnb. As a way to keep your neighborhood from turning into Daytona Beach, the powers that be in Davidson County have capped the number of permits issued.

The limitation is 3% of the single family or detached two family residential units within each census tract. (The cap only applies to non-owner occupied units.)

It’s easy to check permit availability on the handy map on the metro website. For example, when I last checked there were 43 permits available in my neighborhood, but none in parts of Germantown.

Pay the Government

  • Hotel occupancy tax (a/k/a tourist accommodation tax)
  • 6% of the fee plus $2.50 per night
  • Business license fee and annual business tax
  • Sales Tax


Follow the Rules

There are lots of rules, among them no feeding your guests! So skip the welcome basket of homemade cookies!   (I consider this a plus actually.)

Turnkey House 7QUESTIONS

Is The License Transferable?


So if  you are considering buying that darling property that gets rave reviews on airibnb, know the permit doesn’t convey with the property.

This is not too much of a problem if you plan to live in the house, as owner occupied properties are not subject to the 3% cap. But if you are buying an investment property, you should check the permit availability before you put in an offer.

Can Someone Manage The Process and The Property For Me?

If this sounds like waaaay too much work, you can hire someone to manage your STRP.

One such company is Austin, TX based TurnKey Vacation Rentals which opened a Nashville office less than a year ago.  TurnKey will take care of it all –on-line marketing, property management, and the guest experience.

For more information check out their website or contact local manager Bobby Bruecken 615.525.7962

(all photos courtesy of and listings from TurnKey Vacation Rentals)

The Visitors by Sally Beauman

The VisitorsThe Visitors by Sally Beauman

The discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1923 was the single most important Egyptian archeological find of the 20th C. Not because King Tut was a legendary ruler, but because Tut’s tomb had not been looted, unlike the tombs of his fellow pharaohs in the famous Valley of the Kings.

The opening of the tomb was huge news. Dozens of reporters from around the globe camped outside the entrance to the tomb in the blistering heat hoping for a glimpse of glittery treasure or a juicy quote from one of the archaeologists.   The relentless media coverage made Lord Carnarvon, (of Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey) who financed the dig, and his lead archaeologist, Howard Carter, world famous.

The opening of the tomb also led to deception, death, and disagreements.

This is the backdrop of Sally Beauman’s meticulously researched and enchanting novel The Visitors featuring eleven-year-old Lucy Smith.

Lucy, recovering from a recent bout of typhoid fever, and her guardian, Miss Mackenzie, arrive at Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo in January 1922. They are immediately introduced to Carnarvon, Carter, and the other members of the British and American archeology community, a passionate and competitive group.

Lucy’s first friend is Frances Winlock, the daughter of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s excavations. Her other companions are the children of Poppy d’Erlanger, described in the Cast of Characters as, “a beauty, bolter and divorcee.”  (Love a book with a “Cast of Characters!”)

Lucy and Miss Mackenzie occupy front row seats for the Tut drama, which is as life changing for Lucy as it was for the field of Egyptology.

I highly recommend this suspenseful and moving novel.

What Other Reviewers Think

Booklist “A book of astounding scholarship on Egyptology and the 1920s, The Visitors never loses sight of its compelling characters’ search for that thing –-a great achievement, financial independence, and a kindred soul– that will give their lives meaning. The novel’s …writing and characterizations are golden.”

Who Wrote it

Sally Beauman is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Her internationally bestselling novels, including Rebecca’s Tale, her sequel to Daphne du Maurier’s iconic work, have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Girl Waits With GunGirl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart

Inspired by true events,  Girl Waits With Gun is the first work of fiction from Amy Stewart, author of six nonfiction works including The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants.

In the summer of 1914, the three Kopp sisters’ horse-drawn buggy is rear ended by an automobile driven by wealthy Henry Kaufman.

Kaufman, owner of one of the many silk-dyeing plants in Paterson N.J., not only refuses to pay the fifty dollars  compensation to the sisters, but initiates a campaign of intimidation and extortion.

At first glance, the reclusive Kopp women are no match for the nefarious Kaufman. But they toughen up fast.  With some coaching from the local sheriff, they press the authorities for an arrest, learn to shoot a gun, manage the media, and finally testify at Kaufman’s trial.

None of this is easy for the unmarried Kopp women who live quietly on a farm. As the eldest, tall 35-year-old Constance takes the initiative. But Norma, the second eldest who raises carrier pigeons, and flighty 16-year old Fleurette  are active participants as well.

The investigation and Kaufman’s trial were exhaustively covered by the local media, who appreciated the melodramatic story. (“Girl Waits With Gun” is an actual newspaper headline.) But after that, the sisters disappear from history, until Stewart brings them vividly back to life in this charming novel.

As the-real-life Constance goes on to run a detective agency with her sisters, I suspect this is the first of a series featuring the sleuthing sisters.  As Stewart says, “the latter half of 1915 and all of 1916 were very interesting times for the Kopp sisters so there’s lots of rich material…”

I look forward to seeing what the Kopp girls get into next!

What Other Reviewers Think

Elizabeth Gilbert: “I loved every page of this smart, romping, hilarious novel.”

Who Wrote It

Amy Stewart is the award-winning author of six books, including the bestsellers The Drunken Botanist and Wicked Plants. She and her husband live in Eureka, CA, where they own a bookstore called Eureka Books.


Nashville Home Sales August


Nashville Home Sales August

Sales Up/Prices UP/Inventory Down

Williamson County

Average sales price year-to-date $478,592.

The number of closings is up 12.5% over this time last year.

Buyers are paying 98.7% of the list price.

Homes for sale under $1,000,000, inventory is low, low, low.

Davidson County

Average sales price year-to-date $296,290.

The number of closings is up 14% over this time last year.

Buyers are paying 98.4% of the list price.

The supply of homes for sale under $500,000 is low, low, low. Over $500,000, inventory is generally over six months (a balanced market,) but varies by price.

Area 2 (I-65 to Charlotte Pike)

Average sales price year-to-date $545,788.

The number of closings is up 7.7% over this time last year.

Buyers are paying 97.5% of the list price.

As in Davidson, for listings under $500,000, the supply of homes is low, low, low. For higher priced homes, the inventory varies from six months to several years.

Condominiums Davidson

Average sales price year-to-date $203,815.

The number of closings is up 11.8% over this time last year.

Buyers are paying 97.8% of the list price.

Inventory is low to lowish for condos in all price ranges.

What is the Significance of Inventory?

The significance of inventory is related to a measurement real estate professionals call absorption rate, which is the rate at which the market is selling properties. How long would it take to sell the current inventory if no other homes came on the market?

A balanced market is five to six months. Absorption rate pricing is rapidly replacing CMA’s (Competitive Market Analysis) as a more accurate measurement of market value

Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell

FlappersFlappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell

They drank, smoked, took drugs, had multiple sexual partners, earned their own money, wore short skirts, and rejected traditional female roles.

1960s feminists?

Nope, 1920s flappers.

In Flappers, Judith Mackrell tells the story of six stylish women who broke barriers and lived large in the 1920s, decades before the feminist movement.

As benefits the “flapper” label, these women partied (seriously!) and primped, but underneath it all was the desire or the necessity to forge an independent life.

After years of two-bit vaudeville productions, Josephine Baker hit is big with  “La Revue Negre,” the hottest ticket in Paris in 1925. At the height of her popularity, there were dark- skinned Josephine Baker dolls, Josephine postcards, and Josephine inspired hair products.

With only a smattering of formal art training, Polish-Russian refugee Tamara De Lempicka  worked tirelessly on her craft.  Through aggressive promotion, she became a rich and fashionable artist of the Paris avant-garde and the sole support of her unemployed husband and daughter.

English aristocrat Diana Cooper, much to the dismay of her family, married an impoverished politician. Her earnings as the lead actress in the theatrical production The Miracle supported his political career. For years Diana toured the United States at a time when actresses and unchaperoned women were still considered “fast.”

In 1923, the Alabama born Tallulah Bankhead traveled to London to pursue her career as an actress and professional provocateur.

British heiress Nancy Cunard settled in Paris where she created a distinctive personal style, embarked on countless love affairs with members of both sexes, and worked as a journalist and poet.

And Zelda Fitzgerald, the quintessential flapper and her husband’s inspiration, also left Alabama behind for a life as muse and writer.

A global depression and looming political unrest contributed to demise of the flapper era.  By the 1930s, with the exception of Diana Cooper, who effortless transitioned into her role as a conventional political wife and mother, Mackrell’s women were emotionally and financially exhausted.

But in their prime, these six women burned red hot, laying the groundwork for a later generation of liberated women.

Loved this book!

What Other Reviewers Think

The New York Times Book Review: “Mackrell, a dance critic, loves a romp and tales of her high-flying subjects lose none of their adrenaline in the retelling. Her writing is bright and nimble, but she’s also astute enough to delve beyond the flash and dazzle, the public illusions cast to hide private insecurity, pain, and frustration.”

Who Wrote It

Judith Mackrell is a celebrated dance critic. Her biography of the Russian ballerina Lydia Lopokova, Bloomsbury Ballerina, was short-listed for the Costa Biography Award. She has also appeared on television and radio, and is the co-author of the Oxford Dictionary of Dance. She lives in London.

Books Everywhere

Despite what your interior designer or stager says, there is always room in your home for books!

In this post from Houzz, I especially like the bookshelves in the kitchen island.

In my newly renovated kitchen (more about this in a later post!) I have an island bookshelf -nothing like the giant one pictured here– but then I don’t have that many cookbooks (big surprise!)

The Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington by Gregg Herken

The Georgetown SetThe Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington by Gregg Herken

“The hand that mixes the Georgetown martini is time and again the hand that guides the destiny of the Western world.”

—Henry Kissinger

The Georgetown Set is a fascinating portrait of a smaller, cozier Washington, DC—one that would be unrecognizable to current residents of the capital– and the journalists, spies, and government officials who socialized, strategized, and steered cold war policy over cocktails.

It was time when President Kennedy might call the journalist Joe Alsop for a chat or just turn up at his home for a drink.

Diverse it was not. The influential players were all Men with similar backgrounds, education, and war time experience. Men such as influential journalists and brothers Joe and Stewart Alsop, Phil Graham, publisher of The Washington Post, and Frank Wisner, head of CIA covert operations, might occasionally disagree, but fundamentally they shared a similar world view.

I enjoyed this book, but it is a little choppy. Herken overreaches a bit as he covers 20+ years of American foreign policy through the contributions and peculiarities of dozens of men from the White House, the State Department, the CIA, and the media.

What Other Reviewers Think

George F. Will  “The past really is another country. Gregg Herken’s intriguing volume is a passport that enables us to visit the vanished country of Georgetown during the Cold War. There the braided political and social networks of a small cohort made, and reported, history.”

Who Wrote It

Gregg Herken is professor emeritus of American diplomatic history at the University of California and the author of Brotherhood of the Bomb, Cardinal Choices, Counsels of War, and The Winning Weapon. He lives in Santa Cruz, California.

Home Sales Year-to-Date July 2015

Nashville skyline

Home Sales Year-to-Date July 2015

Home Sales Davidson County

  • Number of Closings: 5677
  • Average Closing Price: $296,131
  • Ratio of Closing Price to List Price: 98.3%
  • Average Days on Market: 61


Home Sales Williamson County

  • Number of Closings: 2936
  • Average Closing Price:$478,428
  • Ratio of CP to LP: 98.6%
  • Average Days on Market: 64


Condominium Sales Davidson County

  • Number of Closings: 1665
  • Average Closing Price: $203,330
  • Ratio of CP to LP: 97.7%
  • Average Days on Market: 57



If you’d like more information about single family home sales in Davidson County, Area Two (I-65 to Charlotte Pike), Williamson County, or condominium sales in Davidson County, I’m happy to email you a comprehensive report.


Nora Tyson to Command US Third Fleet


My program and the nametag from my assigned seat at the ceremony.

Nora Tyson to Command US Third Fleet

It was a great privilege and honor to attend my friend Vice Admiral Nora Tyson’s Change of Command Ceremony aboard the USS Ronald Reagan last month.

The ceremony was extra special because it was also a Retirement Ceremony for Vice Admiral Kenny (“Pink”) Floyd. (See the article in The San Diego Union-Tribune for complete coverage of the event.)

A dozen or so girlfriends (and family members) from Nora’s Vanderbilt days traveled to San Diego where we stayed at the Navy Lodge (beach front!) on the Naval Air Station, North Island.

(For more about Nora (VU ’79) , see the cover story of the Vanderbilt Magazine Fall 2010.)

Group with Nora in the hanger

Vanderbilt friends with Nora in the hanger bay before the ceremony.


It is a bit breezy in the parking lot as we prepare to board the USS Ronald Reagan. We have security passes, but there is another security checkpoint before we are allowed on board.
USS Ronald Reagan

The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76)

Michael and Ann

Ann Mulroy and Michael Flood with a bust of President Reagan.

Nancy & Skiper

Nancy and Skipper Phipps in the hanger bay before the ceremony.

Betty & Fred flight deck

Betty and Fred Anderson on the flight deck.

View of the podium

Navy Band Southwest warms up before the ceremony.


On the flight deck before the ceremony.

A beautiful ceremony under sunny San Diego skies.


  • Arrival of Official Party and Distinguished Guest
  • Parading of the Colors USS Ronald Reagan Color Guard
  • National Anthem Navy Band Southwest
  • Invocation Captain Terry Gordon
  • Introduction of Guest Speaker Vice Admiral Kenny Floyd
  • Guest Speaker Remarks Admiral Scott H. Swift
  • Presentation of Award Admiral Scott H. Swift (Admiral Swift also recognized Admiral Floyd’s wife, Debbie, a former Navy nurse.)
  • Remarks and Reading of the Orders Vice Admiral Kenny Floyd
  • Change of Command
  • Reading of the Orders and Remarks Vice Admiral Nora Tyson
  • Flag Ceremony accompanied by a reading of “Old Glory” (I had never seen a Flag Ceremony; so moving)
  • Benediction Captain Terry Gordon
Nora at thepodium

Nora at the podium

Emily Me Dru Betty flight deck

Emily Zerfoss, Me, Dru Anderson, Betty Anderson

View from the R Regan

View of downtown San Diego from the flight deck.

Sheet cake

Cake in the shape of the USS Ronald Reagan at the post-ceremony reception.

Post reception

After the ceremony we enjoyed dinner at Nora and husband Wayne Tyson’s temporary home on the base.
From left, Ann Mulroy, Dru Anderson,Lindy Neff, Me, Nancy Phipps, Emily Zerfoss, Betty Anderson.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted, but Nora was still poised, professional and partying at 10 PM! I guess she has experienced tougher days!