Friday, July 29, 2005

Round Four: Redux (or is it Reflux?)

The buyers accepted our proposal for mold remediation, so sometime between now and Aug. 18 a team of guys is going to show up and rip our roof off. Or half of it, anyway. Maybe a third. I'll bet the kids will want to set up lawn chairs across the street and watch. It should be pretty cool: guys in hazmat suits crawling all over our roof, ripping up shingles and tar paper, removing sheets of plywood, dumping it into dumptrucks (on our nice lawn! ACK!), sanding down rafters (I'm assuming that's what they mean by "abrasion removal"), spraying chemicals around, and replacing everything. It'll probably resemble a scene from E.T. I'll have to see if the foreman has a big key ring.

Yesterday we had the inspection on the house we hope to move into. The wife was home, and we got to chat a bit. She seems very excited that someone who will appreciate their home will be buying it. It sounds like they had an investor make an offer, too, but she just couldn't bear the thought of it being a rental. She was more than happy to take me on a tour of the garden we'll be inheriting, explaining all the ins and outs of maintaining the yard, and showing off the place. She even gave us their phone number and encouraged us to call again some time to go over and get more information. We'll probably take her up on it.

We get the inspection report today. I left before the inspector finished, but unless there is water in the crawlspace, he didn't think he'd find anything other than minor cosmetic stuff. He even took the time to show me that the signs of water drippage under the kitchen sink was not actually a leak, but errant water running down the sprayer hose when you use it. Not a problem. We hardly use the sprayer.

I had a bit of time to look around the neighborhood, too. It's a nice, quiet subdivision. We live beyond the side streets connecting the area to the other main road, so the only traffic past our house should be people who live there only. That's nice. We currently live on the "shortcut street."

I'm still coming to grips with the idea of moving. Other than my time as a missionary in Australia, which doesn't really count, there's only been one time in my life when I moved somewhere I didn't already know fairly well. And that ended up being only for six months.

We're still in packing mode, though we're rapidly reaching the point where anything that is left is needed for basic living. Soon we'll be doing something else we've never done before: having a yard sale. That could be interesting.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Round Four: Continued

The inspection report specifically mentioned mold. We brought in a mold inspector for a remediation company. It's only on one side of the roof, but it's all along that side. The inspector felt that there is no real structural or health risk in leaving it there, but acknowledges that it probably does freak buyers out and should probably be deal with. It's actually cheaper to replace the roof, so that's what we're doing. Assuming the buyers are satisfied with that. They should be, as it's pretty much verbatim what they asked for.

And so we wait some more while they decide what they want to do.

Verbual House Tour

We've been asked to describe the house we're buying. In spite of the current situation, I'm going to remain positive and talk about it like it's still a done deal.

We enter the house through the lovely front door. To the immediate right is the living room, complete with lovely Pergo flooring, a nice window seat at a large, ornate window, and another set of floor-length windows on the far wall. This will probably be where our piano will go, as well as some nicer furniture for welcoming guests.

Directly ahead is the dining area, with a kitchen off to the right, also with Pergo flooring. If you proceed straight through the dining area there is a pair of sliding doors leading out to the deck and the back yard. More about them later.

To the left of the front door is a pair of stairs; one leading up, the other down. Upstairs there is a bedroom, bathroom, and another bedroom on the right, and the master bedroom suite on the far right. The master suite has its own bathroom with two sinks, and a walk-in closet on the far side of the bathroom (what's up with that? Most newer places are like that for some reason).

Downstairs is a long family room with a fireplace at the far end, and a large window on the right-hand wall at ground level. Off to the left is a short hallway with a large closet (beneath the upstairs stairs) and bathroom on the left, another bedroom on the right, and a utility porch straight ahead. Through the utility porch is a door leading to stairs up into the garage.

Outside there is a medium-sized garden area (perhaps half the size of our current garden) with raised planter beds and a gravel-covered parking spot currently occupied by the owners' boat, but will be available for repurposing (perhaps more garden or a pair of fruit trees). The other side of the yard is mostly taken up by a large tree (yay!), but there should be ample room for a play area for the kids. There is also a concrete alley running along the far side of the house where they have a small shed.

And that's about the size of it. They've kept it in really good shape, I must say. We're looking forward to living in it.

Round Four: In Which the Going Gets Tough

It's at this point I'm glad we have an agent. Up until now I've been wondering what our agent has really done beyond list our house on MLS, make some phone calls, and shuffle paperwork around. But then we had the inspection.

The bottom line: the inspector verbally told my wife one thing. The buyers are telling us another, but didn't back it up with the actual inspection report. Our agent gets to iron all this out. Not that it's easy waiting for things to be resolved, but if it were up to me to resolve it things might not be going very well at this point.

Not that I'm sure they're going well anyway.

In the mean time, we're making our plans for how we're going to spend our week in the wilderness, driven out of Egypt, but not yet ready for the Promised Land. We're hoping two adjoining rooms in a local motel will do the trick.

August is going to be an interesting month. This could be the Summer of our Discombobulation.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Round Three

The sellers accepted our offer, but only at the last minute. Terhi was out with the kids and I was sweating and weeding in the back yard, listening for the phone. When it finally rang I was half convinced it was our agent calling to tell us they'd refused our offer. I was half right. It was our agent. He didn't provide any details, but it certainly seems like the sellers were holding out until the last minute to see if any other offers came in.

I guess I can't blame them. I was tempted to do the same with the offer we got. But in the end it doesn't matter. We have someplace to go now. And here it is:

I just realized the sign says "No Outlet." Dang! We should have checked that! How are we going to use any of our appliances! Ah dang, we've been took!

Yea, yea, yea...I know. I'm about as funny as a trip on the Titanic.

On Countdown

In three hours we should know if we're going to get the house we want. We looked at four houses yesterday afternoon, and in the end went with the first one we saw. It's very nice--not the biggest of the bunch, but seems to have the best balance of all the features we want. We put in an offer last night, and they have until 11:00 am this morning to decide. I don't know why they wouldn't. We essentially met their asking price. They've been on the market nearly two months, too, which will hopefully be weighing on their minds.

The only down side to all of this is that we won't be able to close on the new house for at least a week after we close on our house. We'll have about a week where we'll have no place to live and all our stuff will be in storage. We're not exactly thrilled, but there is little we can do about it. The kids, of course, will just think it's one big adventure--and in ten years they may not even remember.

Richard won't even remember this house at all. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's a good thing we have lots of pictures and video. This house will always be special to us. I don't want to forget it.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Paper Mache Houses

I'm beginning to think I could build my own house out of all the paperwork required for the process of selling, financing, and buying a house. Of course the fire insurance would be quite expensive, and heaven help me if it were in a flood zone.

We're going house hunting this afternoon. I'm not sure what caliber of rifle to take. The hard part will be getting it to fit in my freezer. Bwaaaa haaa haaaa haaaa!!!! Oh, I crack myself up!

The weather continues hot.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Great, Kid! Don't Get Caulky!

The last time I re-caulked the tub/shower it took me several days and a lot of headache, not to mention muscle-ache. But I learned from the experience. I did it again last night, and this time it went much more smoothly. It was almost fun. Almost.

Of course I did get caulk all over my fingers, which made me look like I had a terrible skin condition most of the evening until the last of it finally flaked off. The shower looks great, though! I'm very pleased.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Round Two

We accepted an offer last night. While we were signing the papers we got two more calls from agents wanting to show the house. The response has been almost overwhelming, and so incredibly different from last time. We decided not to be greedy or sneaky and just accept the offer rather than trying to stall to see if anything better came along so we could get into a bid war.

After all, these people offered more than our asking price, even after we pay their closing costs. And they must really want the house: Toured it around noon, had an offer to our agent by four.

Nothing is final until it's final, of course. I doubt the inspection will turn up anything too big, but you never know. The appraisal shouldn't present much of a problem. And the only thing we have any control over at this point is finding the house we want to get into. Round Three starts soon.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

"Mit Eine Bullet!"

Two years ago we spent four months or so trying to sell our house. We got maybe a half-dozen calls, four or five showings, and an offer we rejected before finally taking our house off the market.

With the exception of taking our house off the market, we've had all of that crammed into two days. We actually had an offer before our house was even fully on the market. Of course it was our agent's parner trying to score an investment property on the cheap, but still, an offer is an offer, and it's a standing one in case something goes wrong and we can't get even close to our asking price anywhere else.

We had at least four showings today, though, so I don't think something is going to go wrong. I've been wrong before. But it sure feels different this time around. To quote an obnoxious Pythonian Frenchman, "Oh yez, eet's verrrry naaaaice!"

Friday, July 15, 2005

Under Weigh

Our house goes on the market today...maybe. The agent hasn't come by with the sign yet, and he evidently found more paperwork for us to fill out, so who knows. It seems a little unreal right now, even though we've been through this before.

It's strange to think that in just a few months I could be going home to a completely different house, sleeping in a different room, but on the same old bed, next to the same old w--

--wooden nightstand! Hah! I'll bet you thought I was going to say "wife," didn't you! Never! My wife is neither old nor the same (living with me kinda does something to you after awhile. In her case, it seems to have made her prettier!).

Yeah, I'm in a weird mood. It's been a long week, but a good one. I've made some serious headway on a major project. I deserve a weekend. By golly, I think I'll go find one! Bye, y'all!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Round One

We have finally selected an agent, though not without much anxiety and emotional churning. Needless to say, I'm drained. But I think we made the right decision. We're giving "the little guy" a chance. I think the point that really focused our decision was the notion that our agent is our face to the people we will be transacting with. They'll likely never see us, but they will probably see our agent. And yet--and we speak from experience here--people will likely make a judgement about us based on the behavior of our agent. We wanted to go with someone who we would be proud to be identified with/by.

It's quite a vote of confidence, really, that we are willing to bet our agent is not going to do anything to embarass us based on a one-hour meeting. So, now we have an agent. We just need a lender..oh yeah, and a buyer, too. Minor detail.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Things You Like To Hear...

...from a lender:

"That's the highest credit rating I've ever seen for someone your age!"

Unreal Estate

We decided that this time around we want to interview several agents before selection one to sell our house. The thought was that, having had a chance to compare and contrast, we'd be more confident in our agent than we were last time. What we're experiencing is more like a series of mood swings. Everyone we've interviewed so far has been very likable, and we've wanted to select them. And they are all working fairly hard for our business, though some more than others.

It's going to be tough choosing, and it's already causing a fair amount of insanity. We interview the last candidate tonight, and I'll be quite glad to get this phase over. Then, of course, there is always the issue of financing. There are almost as many financing options as there are agents, it seems. Fortunately, it will be a little easier to choose a financier. Dollars and cents are always easier to calculate.

I really hope that this will be our last move for awhile. This process has been anything but fun so far. I suspect the rollercoaster is just beginning.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Mission Accomplished

It occurred to me the other day that this weblog is working quite well. It's much easier for me to post, for starters, even though I'm probably not as prolific as I was in my Eloquent Eccentricity days. But then I wasn't nearly so busy back then. It's a tribute to Blogger than I post at all these days.

I'm getting more feedback from family, too, which is good. It's not as good as actual news, but at least I know they're still alive and kicking--and reading.

The best windfall, though, seems to be my brother and sister starting their own Blogger blogs. I hear from them much more often than I used to now. It's proving quite nice.

So all in all, I'd have to say this blog has been a good thing!

Friday, July 08, 2005

Didn't He Ramble...

We're getting ready to put our house on the market. We've started auditioning realtors, and hope to be moving forward soon. It's time to move into something a little bigger before our little house bursts at the seams.

Our daughter decided to get up and play in her bedroom at 3:00 am this morning, waking up her brother. Her excuse: "I couldn't think any more good thoughts." At that point, neither could I. It seems the only one sleeping well these days is the baby.

Work is driving me nuts this week. There's just too much to do, no time to do it, and too many other people who have to do something first. For a four-day work week, it's sure been a long one. I'm glad it's over.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

What Can One Say?

My prayers and condolences to the British People. The UK has been America's best and truest friend, and unfortunately that friendship comes with a price. I wish this hadn't happened, but I'm not surprised--other than it took this long. I predict this will not have the desired effect. The British aren't likely to take the Spanish route, and if anything, this will only increase support for Tony Blair and the war on terror.

There are rumors that this will mark the start of a larger offensive by Al Qaeda. Could they really be that foolish? One strike here or there, now and then, is disheartening. A series of strikes would only breed anger and resolve. The smartest thing they could do now would be to lay low. I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Sound of Summer Running

We celebrated the holiday by descending en masse with another family on the local elementary school playground. They happen to have a large field with set of picnic benches amid a stand of shade trees conveniently located near a jungle gym and a kickball field. In other words, a place ideally suited for picnics with children.

The weather was perfect. While it did get hot in the afternoon, it was nothing like the 105 degree heat we endured our first year when we selected the local park with no shade trees. To say Walter and Emma had a blast would be a moderate understatement. Emma dashed back and forth between playing with the kids closer to her age and the older kids (in which I include myself) who were playing a child-friendly game involving throwing a big rubber ball in the air and at one another. Walter...he just dashed back and forth for no reason. Both wore big grins and craved frequent hugs.

Richard slept through the entire thing in his carseat, and Terhi enjoyed sitting with him in the shade and watching everyone else cavort about in the sun. When you're a mother, the ability to sit unmolested and do nothing at all (except eat watermelon) is a delightful luxury. The kids needed amazingly little supervision, and even less rescuing.

In short, it was one of those singular moments in which you can feel the sun on your face, the breeze in your hair, and the delight of a body that does (mostly) what you ask of it, while the precious others in your life sporadically enter your orbit like beaming, savanna scented comets; circling, touching, connecting, and then zooming away again, giggling toward aphelion, leaving you solitary amid the grass, and yet indetectibly connected to everyone and everything at once.

Were I Douglas Spaulding from a Bradbury idyll I'd have suddenly realized I was Alive. What I realized, rather, was that I am very, very fortunate--blessed, even. Everything I really need in life was contained in a single schoolyard. And for a long, lazy, startlingly beautiful moment, nothing beyond it mattered.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

What's In A Name

Two words I never though I'd see together:

"luxury vinyl"

On a $5 shower curtain, no less...

Comfort and Uncomfortability

My wife and I watched "Sense and Sensibility" last night for our date night. And consumed mass quantities of goodies from the local Russian/import store. I'm really developing a taste for Russian chocolates, but their spice cakes are exquisite. And Nazook isn't bad, either.

I've seen the movie before, but it doesn't get old. Although I've pretty much come to the conclusion that the extent of Hugh Grant's acting range is looking delightfully uncomfortable. Which works very well for 95% of this movie. Emma Thompson is, as always, marvelous. And Alan Rickman...a wonderful underplaying of a man in constant torment. I love his character, Col. Brendan. Forget Edward Ferris, Brendan is my hero. I'm so glad to see him win out in the end--and with a new-and-improved Maryanne.

Anyway, it was a nice evening. The baby could have cooperated better, but...well, he's still only two months old.

Friday, July 01, 2005


It's been about a month now since I formally began my new position. I still can't say that I truly have a handle on my job yet. And this week I've had to make some decisions I'm not comfortable with--decisions that effect people's lives. I'm frustrated by the slowness of our progress in getting up and running.

But I'm still enjoying it. I've had some self-doubt, especially when I see the quality of people I have working for me. But all in all, I'm glad I'm in this position, and I still think I can do a good job of it. It's just going to take some time to get comfortable with the rest of the leadership team, for one. And I still need to get used to navigating the hierarchy and the political landscape.

Bottom line: I may not be entirely comfortable doing the job yet, but I'm glad it's me doing the job.