Friday, October 30, 2009

Seven (Very) Quick Takes, mostly about the dryer.

1. We got a new dryer today. Ours has been moribund for a couple of months -- after at least four repairs over the years -- and on Wednesday decided to stop heating forever, thank you. So we got a new one.

2. To make it a little easier, a new dryer was in the plan. We were expecting to get it delivered directly to the new house for simplicity's sake, but are glad we have it here.

3. The reason it would have been simpler to have it delivered directly to the new house involves our doors. This house is over 100 years old, and most of the doorways are narrow. Any new appliance must come in through the front door, because the back door which opens directly into the laundry room is 2 1/2 inches too narrow.

4. Bringing appliances in through the front door is not without its problems. Because of the layout of the living room, with the front door on one corner and the kitchen arch diagonally across, there is always at least one piece of furniture in the way. Today I moved three.

5. Then I moved the kitchen table and chairs. It was the least I could do, since the door from the kitchen into the laundry room is also diagonally across from the arch. And it is also narrow. There is literally less than half an inch clearance on each side of an appliance passing through. And this door is modern. When we had our kitchen remodeled in 1993, they put in this narrow door. :-/

6. Actually, they put in a narrower door. We had put the appliances into the living room during the remodel, and when they tried to put them back, they stuck. They had to rip out the trim and enlarge the doorway. Fortunately, the contractor took responsibility. But through lack of shrewd planning, the door could NOT be any wider without ripping up new cabinets. So we coped.

7. It took the dryer installer about 17 minutes from pulling into the driveway to pulling out again with the old dryer. It probably took me twice that to move everything around and then put it back. (I haven't even mentioned all the stuff --pet food, detergent, trash cans -- that I had to move in the laundry room.) But the new dryer is installed, my laundry is finally done and put away, and Roger and I are going out for drinks in a little while. Success!

Seven Quick Takes are hosted at Conversion Diary.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day Late and a Take Short

I completely missed Seven Quick Takes (hosted here) yesterday, so I'm giving all seven of you readers the "Sloppy Saturday" version....

1. I started cleaning out the basement today. I set a goal for myself of 5 trash bags taken to the curb. I got four bags and an ENORMOUS pile of mildewed cardboard boxes. Our family tends to throw all "might be useful later" boxes onto a big pile in the basement. The ones on top were fine, but the bottom layer was beyond disgusting. And you really don't want to know what happens if one of those boxes went down the stairs filled with eco-foam.

2. On the plus side, the near half of the basement is now organized. There are piles for "take with", "let the kids decide because it's their stuff", usef
ul boxes, packing peanuts -- the styrofoam kind!! -- and "not sure yet". The last one mostly consists of old sheets which we don't really need but which might come in handy for protecting furniture when we move, and a set of rollerblades which we'll probably donate. I'm uncertain which kid was once the owner, or whether they're the ones Roger had for a while. I hope all my keep-or-toss decisions are this trivial!

3. On Monday I intend to start actually packing things. A couple of weeks ago Tommy moved into the downstairs bedroom which has traditionally been allocated to the oldest high-schooler in the house. I was kind of hoping that he wouldn't bother, for simplicity's sake. But it has been a blessing on the getting-ready-to-move spectrum. His old room is empty except for empty furniture and a big pile of books in the corner. Those are going into boxes on Monday.

4. Actually I'm optimistic when I say the room is empty. There are two huge closets in there, which Tommy never used. (In fact, he barely used his dresser, and in the new room he has one laundry basket for "clean" and one [sometimes] for "dirty". He likes clothes, but the ones he actually wears are relatively few in number. When he moved downstairs, we donated four garbage bags full.) I think most of the stuff in those closets -- things like gift wrap and strings of twinkle lights -- is in boxes, but I'm not sure it is. So that comes after the books.

5. When we were in the new house last Wednesday, I discovered that a number of the rooms have vertical blinds. They all work OK, but I'm not sure if I will like them long term. Anybody with experience here? I tend to be a fan of old-fashioned curtains, which I can make myself, and vinyl mini-blinds when rooms need to be darker. (Actually, I also like the old-fashioned roller blinds, but nobody else is a fan.) The main window in the living room is huge, and I'm not sure how much improvement money we're going to have right away, so it may be verticals for a couple of years. On the other hand, the ginormous purple swags
which the previous owners left over the windows are OUT.

6. I'm also looking for advice on how to tone down vivid bathroom tile with the paint colors in the rest of the room. The main bath has (fairly bright) pink, and the half bath has dusty green with muddy mustard. I'm (unfortunately) not kidding. I plan to go with white or cream with the pink. Currently it has sunshine yellow. (Huh???) But I don't know what to do with the green/mustard? Maybe hunter green? I foresee dragging 85 paint chips in there in the hope that something makes it look better. All the tile is in great condition, so financially it makes no sense to replace it, but I'd sure like it to retreat into the background!

And that's my six quick takes for a sloppy Saturday. I'm off to help Tommy put the kitchen table back once he finishes mopping.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"New" Neighbor!

Today we were able to get the keys to the new house for a couple of hours. We can't make any changes until we actually close -- and that date is yet to be determined -- but we can go in, make lists (four sets of doorknobs are missing!??!) and measure for carpeting, curtains, and so forth. We spent about an hour and a half there today.

Toward the end of that time, Roger heard somebody mowing the lawn at the house next door and decided to go over and introduce himself. He walked around behind the neighboring house, and thought "Gee, that lady looks familiar." She ought to! She's lived two doors down from us for the last 20 years or so, and was bought out a little ahead of us. We knew that she had bought a house somewhere in the same general area, but we thought it was about a mile away. Nope! Our "new" next door neighbor is Lisa!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Man, You Guys Are Amazing!

So my last post wasn't even up 12 hours before we got a call that HUD finally accepted our (lowball) bid. We have a house! And moving, but that will unfold here as it happens. Gotta run -- grocery shopping. THANK YOU for your prayers!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A House Is Not A Home

Almost a month ago I posted that we had sold our house to the state, and had 90 days to find a new one. I also mentioned that I hoped that a house we had been through once seemed ideal. Well. We have a close friend who is a builder who walked through it with us, and his opinion is that even if we had unlimited money --ha, ha, ha-- that we shouldn't waste it on that house. His exact words were "This thing should be bulldozed."

He also walked
us through two additional houses, both of which he deemed acceptable. One of them was a foreclosure, offered at a very low price to sell it quickly. We offered 50% more than the asking, and were beaten out by a bid only slightly higher. It appears that this was our gain, however, because when our agent told us how much the winning bid was, he also mentioned that they had found mold all down the chimney, which runs between the family room and the master bedroom. THAT I would not like to deal with. (I also give myself observation points, because I had spotted a little of the mold in the corner of the secondary master closet. The door for the closet was behind the door of the room, and I expect that most of the bidders never even saw that there was a closet there, let alone the mold.)

The third house is in no way my "dream house", but it certainly could be made to do. A major drawing point is the truly dry basement, a rarity here in Michigan. Plenty of room to put a big family room down there, and there's already a fireplace. The drawback to this house is that it's a HUD home, subject to electronic bids, and it simply went on the market at far too high a price. The asking price has come down nearly 25% already, and it's still 20% above our maximum, since we won't buy anything we'd need a new mortgage on. (Ideally we'd even like to save some of our cash for repairs and updates, but we're becoming resigned to paying cash for the house and taking out a minimal HELOC for fixups.) So every day our realtor submits another bid, and every day HUD ignores it.

Since on Friday we will be down to 60 days, this seems to be a less-than-stellar plan for the long haul. So tomorrow we will be looking at MORE houses -- including another HUD house -- and probably more next week. Ninety days sounds like a long time, but man, it isn't!

I was talking to our three-year-old grandson Daniel on the phone today. We have been trying to prepare the grandchildren for the fact that Grandma and Grandpa's house is not going to be here any more. (In point of fact, 7 of the 18 houses on our block have already been flattened, and three more are empty, but that's another post.) We have been telling them that when it's time to move, they will help us by loading the toy box into the car and taking it to the new house. Daniel was telling me about this today, and then he said "Jesus is going to find a new house for you." Suddenly I have a renewed understanding of the faith of a child!

I've never felt, throughout this whole process of waiting to see if the state would be buying our house, that we'd be losing our home. Our home is where we are, and all we'll be losing is the house we keep it in. But I'm certainly ready to find the next place for home to live! All prayers are appreciated, for "the right house at the right price at the right time". And while you're at it, pray for me to have a faith like Daniel's!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Whatcha Readin' Wednesday -- One Week Update

Well, Cold Comfort Farm totally lived up to its promise. I'm thinking about buying a copy -- for a fan of the movie, the cover of this edition alone is worth the price. On the other hand, the book by Alys Clare is NOT a "worthy successor to Ellis Peters!" The medieval setting is adequate, so is the writing, but Clare's understanding of the period is somewhat less than zero. My suspicion is that she herself has only a hazy concept of God, and so her characters can do no better. It's a pity, because I was hoping for another series to get into. Sigh!

I have not yet started The Reach of a Chef because Arwen was here last weekend and advised me that I should read The Soul of a Chef first. I think she's right, as I am blitzing through that with enjoyment, but also noticing things that I think will be foundational in understanding Reach. And I appear to be falling into a Ruhlman vortex; I have also checked out his book Ratio, about the basic ratios of different types of cooking. For example, cookies are 1(sugar) to 2(fat) to 3(flour). Everything else is just bells and whistles. Now I know how Goldy in the Diane Mott Davidson books invents things so easily!

On another note, today I reread (as I do on this day every year) G.K. Chesterton's poem Lepanto. I have a number of "theme poems" for days of the year, and this is one of them. (Next up is In Flanders Fields.) I'll try to remember to link to each one as I read it. And now I need to stop typing and tidy up a few details before bed. Goodnight!