Sunday, May 29, 2005

The paneling is not glued down! Pictures to follow, maybe on Christie's blog. I'll let you know.

Update: Pictures here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Last week one night I lay awake
thinking of the new house and inspections
and termites and water and wondering
what else could go wrong in starting
our new start, using every trick of breath
and attention to cool my mind and talk
my heart into letting me sleep,
bargaining with the night for patience
and peace, while across town you felt your heart
beat its wings against its cage and couldn't catch
your breath, again, and wondered why this was happening,
again, and couldn't bring yourself to ask for help,
again.

Last night I lay awake and tried, again,
to trick myself into patience with banks
and houses and pieces of paper that say what
things are worth, tried not to wonder if I'd called
out of the blue, didn't tell myself it had been years,
or remind myself I didn't even know your number any more,
tried not to think of you in passing, while sorting out
my own troubles that are, really, nothing much at all
when weighed against the weight of the world, until
the tricks worked and I slipped off to sleep
without even noticing at all.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Inspection Update: No requests. We're good. There's one little financing thing to deal with, and then all roadbumps will be behind us.

Except, you know, moving.
Revenge of the Sith in one word: High-larious
My Mind is an Idiot
The house we live in is 60 years old, and the floors are pretty straight, the walls pretty solid, and it stays dry in the rain. Not all the outlets are grounded, but if you see a three prong plug, either it's grounded, or it's a GFCI outlet clearly labeled "No Equipment Ground." I've never seen any evidence of termites or termite damage. The chimney is solid, the front porch is only four years old (built out of pressure-treated wood), and the furnace and AC coil were both replaced in 2001 by people who know their stuff.

I've seen houses in worse shape sell for more money, but I can't get out of my head the idea that the inspectors (who are in the house right now) will find something horrible that'll derail the whole damn deal, and we'll end up... Okay, I'll admit, that's where the nightmare's stop. It's like my subconscious stops, splutters, and says, "Something really, really bad is going to happen!"

"Like what?"

"It'll be horrible!"

"What? Homelessness? That's not going to happen. Michael and Lorie have offered their basement as temporary shelter if we need it, and this town is brimming with apartments. We're not going to end up homeless. You're being silly."

"Financial ruin!"

"First of all, we could swing two house payments if we had to. There's room in the budget. For a while, at least. And if this deal fell through, we just put it back on the market. There aren't many houses in this price range in decent neighborhoods. It'll be worth it to somebody."

"But that'll take time! Time is not on your side!"

"Yes, it is. By the end of the summer, people that would rather rent than own are getting desperate for places to live; new people are always moving to town, and house prices are going up every day. The worst that'll happen is that we don't make as much money as we hoped to, and we have to dip into our renovation fund, or borrow a bit. Not an issue, really, as we've got plenty of cash flow, and loads of credit we never touch. And that's without tapping family, which really is the last resort. The worst case scenario just isn't that bad. So why are you yelling?"

"It'll be horrible!"

And off we go again.

In the center, I'm calm. On the surface, too. But in the middle, I've got my mind yelling in my ear all day, not to mention all night, and my stomach's down there tying itself in knots like James Dean, screaming "You're tearing me apart!" I swear. It's even wearing a red jacket. Very weird.

As a result, I'm sleeping well only about every third night, when the exhaustion from the previous two kick in. It's no fun. But we'll have the inspection report on our current house tomorrow, and we can see what the buyers want fixed (here's hoping it's nothing!), we get keys to the new house in a week, and as of July 1, we'll be back to just owning the one house. The new house. The cool house with a kickass kitchen, artsy staircase and tons of workshop space in the basement. Not to mention an office for Christie, office space upstairs, and a big freaking tub where I can let all this crap float away.

After weeks of gradually increasing stress, we've reached the point where stressors are starting to drop away. Deal on the roof? Done. Loan stuff? Done. Fridge for the new house? Done (and such a deal!). As the fear loses ground, and the hopes and dreams move in, it's only natural that the fear clings as mercilessly to its pitiful domain as any middle manager on the path to obsolesence. How to handle it?

It is a question of who is to be master, that is all.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Driving through downtown, I saw the signs and thought, "Hey, it's kind of late for the protestors to be out." Normally, they're more of a rush-hour thing. Then I saw the signs: "Episode III: I've Lost Hope", "George Lucas is a Terrorist", "No Fee for Episode III", and Christie's personal favorite, "George Lucas is more machine now than man, twisted and evil." I think that was what inspired her to roll down the window, pump her fist, and yell, "Solidarity, man!"

For the record, the pictures from our second time past, after we'd gone home for the camera. The first time we went by, there were girls there, too, I swear.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Second draft:

Water of Life

A house is nothing
more than dead wood
wrapped in plastic,
sitting on stone.

Life wants in
to mess around inside
the walls, eat it
from the ground up.

Mouldering wrecks of
used to be home
fall by the highway
side from one house

to another you run to
the porch keys
in hand to get in,
safe from the rain.

Safe as houses.
It's the umpteenth time I've heard this statistic: "In the 2004 race, President Bush beat Sen. John Kerry by a whopping 19 percentage points - 59 percent to 40 percent - among married voters with children under age 18", but this time I heard it as "Bush beat Kerry by 19 percentage points among sleep-deprived people who were so busy they had to depend on TV news for election information."

In other news, I got to meet Christie's great aunt Elaine the other night, and I'm a big fan. What's not to love about a woman who refers to our president as "That Jackass From Texas"?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

This is the water of life
Water, you see is the enemy of houses.
I baptize you in the name of the Father,
The wood just sucks it up, up there in the wall.
and in the Son,
The wood falls apart, bugs get in...
and in the Holy Spirit.
Look there, see, there's nothing holding up that wall.
Amen.
Nothing but rotten splinters of nothing.

A house is nothing more than dead wood
wrapped in plastic, setting on stone,
and life wants in to mess around
inside the walls, eat it from the ground
up like those mouldering wrecks of
used to be home you drive by on the highway
on your way from one house to another
where you run to the porch with your keys
in your hand to get in, safe from the storm.
Safe as houses.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

On the bright side, if we hadn't done the inspection on the new house when it was raining, we would have been very unpleasantly surprised the first time it rained after we moved in. On the downside, there was a small creek running through the garage.
Why I love Overheard in New York.
The house is sold. Next hurdle: inspections. After that, it's packing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Real Simple's Keep-It-Clean Plan is a great 19-minute plan for people who want a clean house. Or people who are showing their houses, and need them to be clean all the freakin' time.

Monday, May 09, 2005

It's not sexy, or the kind of thing that goes into guidebooks, but I've gotta send a shout out to Columbia's Solid Waste Utility people. I've owned cars smaller than the pile of crap we put out by the curb yesterday afternoon, and they picked up every last bit of it, including scrap lumber, rusted patio furniture, and a few things that have been in the basement so long I couldn't even identify them any longer (I keed. The basement of our house (have I mentioned it's for sale?) is a lovely, nurturing environment, and in no way scary. Not anymore.). Eight years worth of crap, gone, thanks to the hardest working guys in Columbia. They rock.

I might also mention that I've had really great experiences with the electricity guys, too. Basically, this town is the best, and the city workers are a big part of what keeps it that way.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Mission Accomplished
We have a contract on a new house. Now we just need to sell this one. So if you're local, spread the word. And if you're not, have I ever told you what a wonderful place to live Columbia is? And if relocating is out of the question, maybe you need a vacation home here?

Pictures of the new place to follow, as soon as we get around to it. Meanwhile, we've got more cleaning to do.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Every once in a while, I run across an anecdote that must be blogged, but I must anonymize it for the protection of at least one of the parties involved, especially if one of the people involved reads this blog is a complete stranger that none of you know. Such is the case with this cell phone conversation:

Anon: I can't find my cell phone; I'll have to call you back.

Christie: You can't find your cell phone?

Anon: Right.

Christie: ____, think about what you just said for a second. You can't find your cell phone, and you'll have to call me back?

Anon: Yes. What? Ohhhhh.

Christie: (Laughing hysterically)

Anon: Stop it. It's not funny.
More unfortunate graphic design: Here.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

We just made an offer on a house. Cross your fingers for us.
Mother's Day is coming up, kids. If your mom is anything like mine, she's probably been known to complain about you using her good scissors and then putting them back in the wrong place. Now, thank's to our post 9/11 airport security policies, you can make sure that never happens again: eBay - NTSA confiscated items. Also good if you know someone who collects pocket knives.

Monday, May 02, 2005

So, Friday night was a basic work on the house, get it ready to show kind of night, but we didn't overdo it, because we had an appointment early(ish) in the morning to go look at houses.

House Number One was a no-brainer, a second look at a house we'd already decided didn't feel like home. Christie nailed it when she said it felt like the house in the Incredibles. Not because it had cool architecture, or interesting...well, anything, but because coming home to that house would have felt like putting on a costume, though, given the house, we wouldn't have been The Incredibles, we'd have been The Suburbans. Nice place, I guess, if you're into impressive edifices, but very Not Us.

House Number Three, on the other hand, well that was more like a secret lair. Five bedrooms, funk architecture, built on a hill in the woods off a country road, five minutes from town, but if you didn't know it was there, you'd drive right by. I mean, sure, it had issues, but this place was cool. Did I mention the pool? How is it possible that this place is even in our price range? Oh, yeah, the septic tank: smelly, with a wee little bluish green creek running down the hill from the edge of the tank, past the decks, past the pool, wending its way toward the babbling brook at the bottom of the hill. Fresh sewage in a watershed? Replacing a septic tank on the side of a rocky hill? Suddenly this house is no longer in our price range. Dammit.

The Middle House has a lot going for it. Plenty of room, almost the perfect location, great light, plenty of storage, and just enough projects to keep us busy, while still being ready for us to move in. And it really does feel like a home. Was it love at first sight? No. But love at first sight generally doesn't work out that well, so I'm okay with like at first sight, and love on the second look. Which we're taking tomorrow night, assuming it's still on the market.

Saturday night was the night we went for a walk and got followed for a mile by a very friendly pit bull. That's another story, though.

Sunday? Sunday was more working on the house, with a nice side trip to Lowe's, where we found a massive clearance sale on appliances, which is ironic, since we're not actually in the market to buy any right now. I'm sure that we'll want some soon, by which time they'll be back to full price. But if you live in Columbia and have been looking for a new fridge, stove, or what have you, do yourself a favor and go to Lowe's. If you're not in Columbia, though, I don't think this offer applies, as the main reason for the clearance sale is that this particular store is redoing their kitchen department.