Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The tree is outta here

...and the den is a lot hotter now! That should be fixed in a week or so, though, when the French doors arrive. We got the kind with blinds in the middle of the glass panes.

I made a slideshow of the tree removal process (Sister A. took TONS of pix today), but I'm not sure how to share it in my blog. If you're one of my Facebook friends, you can see it there. Otherwise, here's a small sample of the festivities.  :)  It's hard to tell where the wires end and this guy's ropes begin. One thing I can definitely tell you is that he had IRON leg muscles from all that tree-climbing!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Two more changes

Tomorrow, this sycamore tree--which is too big, too close to the house, and clearly in danger of bringing down all those wires if any branches get knocked off by ice next winter--will be removed one piece at a time by an outfit called Big Timber. They're accustomed to working with big trees in tight spaces, and they'll be climbing all around it to get it all without dropping anything through the roof, so it oughta make for some interesting photos. Sister A's in charge of that.

The second change, as shown in the photo below, is this majorly cool Crosley phone, a prezzie from Sister A, which has just replaced a cheap Wal-Mart p.o.s., and I LOVE IT! It's a reproduction of a "302" or "Cow's Hoof" phone which was introduced in 1937. The Crosley site says, "This early desk version served as the standard for the better part of the World War II while telephone design efforts were halted due to defense work." It's almost as heavy as the original, and it has a mechanical bell for a ringer. I haven't heard a phone truly ring in years! It goes great with the funky, curly brass lamp we found in a thrift shop several weeks ago, and both will look even better on the Craftsman desk I have my eye on.  :)

The desk will have to wait a bit, onnaccounta we're having that tree cut down and two storm doors and a set of French doors installed soon, so we'll have to mind our pennies for a while. There are a couple of other projects on the fairly-near horizon, too--new, insulated garage doors and a patio cover with a bit of cement work thrown in--that we'll have to save for, now that all the proceeds from the sale of my old house have been used up. But we'll get all our improvements taken care of eventually.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Prodigal cat

Sammi finally turned up this morning--just walked in the back door nonchalant as you please. After having been out all night, though, she was plenty hungry! It must have been a rough night for her--we had quite a howling, lashing rainstorm. I expect she hid in the neighbor's shed. Rotten little girl--made us all worry! Her mom says she's grounded.

So why let our cats outside if they pull this kind of stunt now and then? Because they'd be miserable and go stir-crazy if they had to stay inside all day, every day. Both were feral/stray and are accustomed to a certain amount of freedom. It's just not in their natures to be forever house-bound, even if it means a longer life for them.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stuck cat, unpacked books, and new pix

Sammi has gotten herself stuck in the neighbors' backyard, on the other side of a six-foot-high fence with concrete footings (we tried to dig under it to get her out--no go). Minnie may or may not have enticed her fatter cousin to jump over the fence into said yard; be that as it may, Minnie is athletic enough to jump back over the fence to her home ground, but Sammi...well, she seems to be stuck. Sister A. has put a note on the neighbors' door in hopes that they'll come home tonight and let us in to get Sammi. There's not much more we can do but wait--we can't even get water to the little dingbat. I hope there's a birdbath in among the neighbors' backyard landscaping. I also hope Sammi will finally jump over the fence when she gets hungry enough and stop worrying her mom! Cats....

Apart from trying to rescue kitties, our weekend has been busy. Yesterday morning, we started sorting the books into genres, then by alphabet, then by author, and finally got them into shelves. We didn't have near enough bookshelves for everything (before the move, I gave away a few small, mismatched ones; and after we moved into the new house, I gave away another shelf unit that was entirely too big for our space), so we had to cull our joint collection quite a bit more, but we finally got all the books we really wanted to keep into shelves throughout the house. See photographic proof at left and on my Flickr site (along with lots of other house pix).

The den and sewing room are both works in progress, but our bedrooms, the living room, the kitchen, and the dining area are pretty much done, except for putting up pictures. Here are some "highlights" for you.  :)

And last, but not least, here's Minnie practicing her mountain-climbing least until party-pooper Mom decided a shower of loose puzzle pieces might not be the best idea.  :)

Here's hoping Sammi comes home SOON!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

We have...a few books

Merging the households of two voracious readers, even if they've already culled their individual collections a bit, results in one BIG pile of books! We finally got them all out of boxes and I started going through them a little this evening. We expect several duplicates, since we have similar--and similarly eclectic--tastes in reading material.

And, yes, that is a set of longhorns on the wall in the photo above right--they hung in our dad's house for years. So my den's a little bit of a "man cave".  ;)

The cats seem to be acclimating themselves nicely--see photographic proof below (not a very good shot, I admit). Sammi turned her lasers on me before I could get the shot (flippin' shutter lag...). Minnie's ears are a bit owlish, but that's all--no growling or yelling to get out of the house, even with Sammi so close. That's progress!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Finished rooms and other progress

We have pix of our finished bathrooms and utility room on my Flickr site, for your delight and edification. The one at left is of Sister A's little paradise, otherwise known as the hall bathroom. In addition to functional bathrooms, we have a cleaned-up-and-usable utility room, courtesy of A., and we've started putting away videotapes, DVDs, puzzles, and other things as boxes get opened in our frequent efforts to find a mattress pad or officey thing or whatever that hasn't reappeared yet. Moving is such fun! But we're starting to get a handle on the mess.

The cats have calmed down, hallelujah, particularly Minnie (Sammi's pretty calm to start with). Minnie now mostly acts normal at night, although she still whines to be let out a lot during the day. A. found her laser toy and I ran Minnie around with it for a while tonight. Good exercise! I also engaged Sammi with it for a little while, then both kitties decided they'd had enough, the little party-poopers. BTW, note to self: don't get Minnie revved up with Sammi anywhere in sight--a hissy-fit, if not outright assault, is sure to follow.

Today, we had NO urgent thing we had to do, so we slept late, had breakfast at our favorite place, got our scuzzy cars washed, then poked around a couple of stores. We did have a few things to pick up at Home Depot--regular, house/yard maintenance things--and while we were there, we decided to go ahead and order the two replacement storm doors and French doors (just as in my old house, the French doors will replace the old sliding glass door). HD's installers will call to measure for the doors Monday or Tuesday and start that ball rolling. Tuesday, a guy will come to reglaze both of our tubs; they're cast iron, nice and sturdy, and just need a little facelift to look good.

We've been looking at the furniture we still have cluttering one side of the garage and have decided what we really want to keep and what should be Freecycled as soon as possible. (If you don't know what Freecycle is, check it out! It's great for people who dislike holding garage sales to get rid of stuff they don't need anymore.) Sister A. brought whatever she thought we could use, but we didn't know then how big our new house would be, so now we have some goodies to pass on to folks who can use 'em. I'll get a list and descriptions together and put all that stuff on Freecycle tomorrow, so maybe we can get A's car into the garage soon. (Mine's already there; yeah, I'm the mean, piggy sister!)

To celebrate the closing of both houses, a successful move, and the conclusion of painting and other contractor work, we had planned to treat ourselves to a steak dinner somewhere. Ray the Realtor, who helped us accomplish all this work (including introducing us to the wonderful Chase the Contractor), beat us to the punch and gave us a $50 gift card to the Cattle Baron, and we used it this evening to stuff ourselves with filet mignon and fried ice cream--YUM! It's been a very nice day.  :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Kitty noise pollution solution

I am reliably informed by a mother (not mine) that ignoring a kid throwing a tantrum will short-circuit it. Danged if it don't work with cats, too! These past two nights, I've refrained from reacting when Minnie lets loose with her high-volume yowling in the most echo-ey part of the house, and in a fairly short time, she quits, having gotten the clue that I'm not going to get up and let her outside. At least, that's the way I'm interpreting it. I've also put a window-height cat tree in my bedroom and left my metal blinds open far enough for Minnie to get up and walk around on the window sill (which is 4-5 inches wide, plenty for a cat to sit and observe the world outside)--that has helped, too, I think. She has even condescended to get up on the bed and sleep with me (for a while, anyway). So things are improving.

We're no longer locking the cats in our bedrooms with us at night; that stopped working on my kitty after just a few nights, and Sammi, A's kitty, really seems quite at home. She's more "mellow" than Minnie.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pleeeeeze let me sleep....

Moving with a cat--actually, two cats who don't get along well together--is not the most fun thing I've ever done. Sammi is settling down pretty well, but Minnie is still having trouble adjusting, and nights are the worst time for both cat and cat-Mom. Last night, she repeatedly crashed into the metal venetian blinds, walked along the window sill, then jumped out onto my bed and let the blinds clack against the window behind her. She's still meowing loudly a lot at night, too, despite my trying to limit the stimulation of a big new environment by shutting her in my bedroom with me. And last night, just for a change of pace, she discovered a drawer full of old doorknobs right outside Sister A's bedroom door and scrabbled around in there for a good while. A. didn't know what the heck was going on until she saw that drawer open this morning.

During the day, Minnie wants OUT in a big way, and will drive both the humans in the house nuts with her repeated demands to open the door. I don't sleep at night and then I have Minnie drilling yowls through my skull when I get home...until I let her out, of course. Then it's hard to get her back inside. I'm sure she doesn't think of our house as her home yet because she's not in it much, but good lord, how can I stand to keep her inside when she constantly yells to get out?? It's unbelievable how piercing her voice can be!

I can't take sleeping pills every night, and Feliway doesn't seem to work on Minnie. Anybody who has any ideas about getting Minnie used to her new home--and making a lot less racket--is sure welcome to tell me.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Move complete, house closing done, sprucing up...well, it's getting there

We had one hell of a week last week, but we're all moved into our new house and the construction/painting work is almost done. OK, the larger pieces of Sister A's furniture are still in the garage, but at least the PODS container has been emptied and picked up and all our belongings are somewhere on the premises.

A couple of my co-workers volunteered to help us load the last of my stuff into the POD Sunday, June 5, so that the POD could be picked up Monday morning; we never would have managed it without them! We also had both of our cars crammed to the gills, with a small space left for one cat each (in carriers, of course). Two people who have lived independently for 30-40 years end up with a lot of stuff, including lots of duplicates, and since the net living space per person in the new house is smaller than I had by myself, we'll be culling our belongings as we unpack boxes. The Salvation Army, Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, Savers thrift store, and our local library will be getting lots of goodies.

On moving day, we headed off to the new house early, and the cats squalled all the way there. They continued to raise hell upon arrival, and for quite some time thereafter. Sammi (A's cat) is settling down pretty well, but Minnie (my cat) is still pretty freaked out and so upsets Sammi more than she would be on her own. That first night in the new house, Minnie yelled at the top of her lungs nearly the whole night, and with very little furniture in the place yet because the contractor and his guys had their tools & materials everywhere, she had quite an echo to emphasize her displeasure! That probably freaked her out even more. I got about two hours' sleep that night and was thoroughly dead the next day (but still had a lot of work to do--couldn't shirk it, unfortunately). Sister A. has the advantage of one deaf ear, so she can sleep on the good one and shut out all noise, the rotten egg.

We began taking our kitties outside on supervised walks early in the week, and Minnie has the run of the yard now, but I don't know if I can claim it's helped with her stress. Instead of getting used to our house and grounds, she appears to have adopted the neighbors' yard and hops over the fence into it at every opportunity. It's definitely more peaceful there right now, and of course there are no piles of lumber, tarps, and discarded parts on the other side of the fence. She comes home to eat and sleep, but that's it, and she probably wouldn't even stay to sleep if I didn't refuse to let her out again after supper. I've shut her into my bedroom the last two nights so she won't wander around the house yowling all night, and she has calmed down considerably (until around 5am, that is, when she jumps up into the metal venetian blinds in my window with a racket like a whole corps of cymbals), but she's right back to wanting out, out, OUT the next day. And she still doesn't like Sammi. But at least the house is bigger so the cats can give each other a wide berth, if necessary.

I wish I knew how to make her more comfortable in her new home, but there's just no way to explain this sort of thing to a cat.

Every day this week, in addition to dealing with upset kitties, Sister A. and I have worked hard cleaning (the kitchen was especially gross), hauling boxes and smaller pieces of furniture inside, fetching supplies for the contractor from Home Depot and wherever else, unpacking, hauling out trash, cleaning the bathrooms repeatedly as various things in each one get worked on during the day (have to clean 'em up before we can take a shower each night), and generally runnin' & gunnin' from morning to night. The contractor and his guys have run into plumbing problems, wiring problems, and just plain problems caused by weird amateur repairs over the years, which has led to the work stretching out longer than he anticipated (but doesn't that always happen with remodeling?). Just living and working around the remodelers is tiring; add all the rest we've been doing and we are EXHAUSTED. I'm lucky I got to go back to work today so I could get some rest!

But we really like our new home. The colors and tile have turned out great, the new bathroom fittings are going up and look beautiful, A. loves her little living room, and I love my combination den & office. My bedroom in the new house is smaller than my old one, but it works and it's comfortable, plus it has an attached bathroom--hard to beat that! We'll be sooooo glad when the contractor and his guys are done and we can move in the rest of the furniture and get back to a normal life.

AND we finally own the house--we closed on it this morning. So now it's official.  :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Moving and closing news

I've been offline for a few days, but I'm still alive! Sister A. and I have moved into our new house and are currently in the middle of cleaning, redecorating/remodeling, and getting all our stuff inside and organized. Our contractor and his guys are working hard, and so are we. We are soooo broken! As for the closing, there's been another delay caused by the former owners' stupidity; we hope it'll iron itself out by the end of the week, but we have no way of knowing.

I've got lots of pix to share, but it'll have to wait until the work is done. Meanwhile, rub those lucky kitty feet that the f.o's (and you can fill in those initials any way you want) get their collective act together and let us finish buying the house!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fabric and paint and ceiling fans, Oh My!

Is this perfect, or what? This is the wall paint and fabric for drapes in Sister A's bedroom.

The fabric for the drapes has arrived and we took it over to the house yesterday evening to see how it works against the paint colors in the various rooms. It all looks great! I've uploaded photos of it all (plus a lot of other stuff) to my Flickr site for your viewing pleasure. There's been a lot of progress--almost all the walls are painted, trim's getting painted, doors are coming back from the painter tomorrow and will be installed with all their new bronze knobs, and more ceiling fans will be going up. Sunday, Chase the Contractor (whom we might as well put on retainer forever because we totally love him) will swap out the old bathroom fixtures for the new ones--at least the shower/tub parts; the vanities aren't in, so all the associated pretties will have to wait until they arrive (Monday, sez Home Depot). There are various other chores on his long checklist, and we have complete faith that they'll all get done.

We visited the new house again this evening (of course) and I got to see my bedroom and bathroom all painted up byoo-tee-ful.  :)

Tomorrow, after the guys are done painting the last bit of the kitchen, A. and I are going over to start cleaning the kitchen, especially inside the fridge and stove. We have a couple of stops to make before that; A. can't set foot in the place until the paint fumes clear out a bit.

"Don't worry, be happy"

Things are finally straightened out between the underwriter, credit union, and title company, and we can proceed with closing on the new house Monday. The necessary papers are at the title company right now. PHEW! Yeah, I was worried, but needlessly, as it turns out--there's no way they can jerk our loan or otherwise put us out of the new house after we've moved all our stuff into it, because all the essential stuff is already approved and has been for a couple of weeks. Well, I've never done this complex house-buying thing before. I bought my current house from my sister (yep, same one I'm buying a house with now), but that was a simple little VA assumable and I think my biggest expense was the lawyer who shuffled the legal papers around for us. I certainly didn't have to fool with underwriters & banks & whatnot.

I can't get the titular video to embed, so just click here for a dose of happy.  :)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

No closing Friday, either

Now it's "promised" for Monday. That's two closings (on old and new houses) on Monday, plus our final move to the new house. It'd sure be nice if we could OWN the dadgum new house before we actually move into it, but who the hell knows...? But everything's scheduled for Monday, so we've got no choice--we have to move. Just rub your favorite mojo that the loan/closing/etc. all comes together like it's supposed to on Monday.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fans, progress, and bureaucratic BS

This is the ceiling fan in Sister A's bedroom. Fans are starting to go up in the finished rooms!

We were supposed to close on the new house today, but the underwriters requested another document at the last minute. We sent it. Closing rescheduled for Thursday. Today, having heard nothing, A. emailed the underwriter agent she's been dealing with, asking where we stand. Answer: "Clear to close." So we're good for closing tomorrow, right? Wrong. Toward the end of the business day, she got an urgent email from the agent asking for the phone number of our house insurance agent. We've already sent that to them, and to the title company--TWICE. Doesn't matter, we're screwed for closing on Thursday and are now hoping for Friday. A. says this kind of malarky happens all the time, but that sure doesn't make it any less frustrating for us!

Meanwhile, at the new house, the former owner finally moved the last of his stuff out today, so our contractor and his guys can work freely. In addition to ceiling fans going up, the popcorn ceiling in my bedroom, and possibly also in the bathroom, has been scraped off (the guys had to wait for the f.o. to move out of there). Chase the Contractor says all the painting will be finished by Friday (him, I believe!). Saturday, he's going to fetch back all our interior doors from the painter and put them up. Sunday, they'll be putting up fans, shutters, fixtures, etc. We hope they'll be able to install the vanities and vanity tops, too--they were due at Home Depot today, but didn't come in. A. plans to nag HD three times a day until they arrive. Sure hope it's soon--we'd love for all this fixing-up (and closing--that'd be nice) to be done by the time we move in Monday!

Yes, moving is still scheduled for Monday--no snags there. I haven't been able to round up anymore help for loading the POD Sunday, but we'll manage with just us two "mature" ladies and my co-worker. Sunday night, there won't be a stick left in the old house except our two mattresses and the little bit of stuff we're leaving behind. Monday, at some point (we don't have a time yet), the PODS people will shift our belongings to the new house and Chase and one of his guys will help us move everything inside (my stuff in the POD and A's stuff in the garage there).

We'll probably have to bring the cats over to the new house before the move starts and put them in the utility room (in their carriers) at least until the big furniture is in place. They're going to HATE IT, but it'll be over soon enough, and then they'll have a big new house to explore, with smells familiar to both of them.

Hoo boy, what a day Monday's gonna be! In addition to the final move, we're scheduled to close on the old house...assuming the underwriters don't fumble the ball there, too.

Aw, what da heck--have another pretty fan, this time in the sewing room.  :)  The gaping hole is where the vent cover will go.