Monday, April 26, 2010

Update

We got the house! No problem at all about the offer or the contingency. Now all we have to do is sell my house!  :D

Sunday, April 25, 2010

News!

We've had quite a day! We went to look at four houses with Ray the Realtor today, one of which was one we found ourselves and had him check on for us. And it's PERFECT! OK, there are one or two little things we want to do to it right away, but the layout suits us very well, and there's nothing major to fix. It's move-in ready. (Of course, we've already redecorated the bathrooms in our heads, but, hey, that's par for us!)

It has three bedrooms, a large den which will be my office/sitting room and occasional guest room, a small living room (which suits us fine), two full baths, gas stove in the kitchen that's staying (the fridge might, too), nice tile in the kitchen and dining area (and the kitchen is nice overall), a HUGE utility room with tons of storage, new potties, storm windows, storm doors (although the one in the back needs replacing--small potatoes, that), a two-car garage with electric openers (two one-car-sized doors rather than one big door), and a patio in a smallish backyard (which also suits us fine). It's well-kept, in a nice neighborhood on a dead-end street, so there won't be any drag-racing up & down it.

We were so sure about the place that before Ray had even shown us the fourth house on his list, we had decided to make an offer on this one. The asking price is only $2,500 above the maximum we can offer, so we hope the sellers will consider that a minor reduction and accept our offer. Ray's going to present it to them tomorrow, so we should know by the end of the day.

Our purchase is contingent on us selling my current house--there's no other way we can manage it. We hope the sellers will go for that, too. So, everybody, please charge up your prayers, do your voodoo, rub your lucky kitty feet for us--whatever mojo ya got, we can use it!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kitty and other progress

Sammi, Sister A's cat, is feeling right at home these days. We think she's even taking a shine to Minnie, my cat, because Sammi keeps trying to play with her--at least it looks like Sammi's usual bouncy, "chase me!" playing. Minnie doesn't know quite what to make of her rather forward "cousin" yet, and there are still plenty of hissy encounters between them, but we're definitely making progress.

On the housing front, we haven't had any houses to look at from our realtor since last Saturday, so we'll probably be nagging him soon. We did have another person looking at my house today, so we got it all spic-and-span, then vamoosed to do some shopping and drive around likely neighborhoods. We collected four more addresses to look at online, and also toured one house for sale whose owner happened to be standing outside when we toodled by and motioned for us to come on in (great house, but way out of our price range).

Ray the Realtor is hoping to get an offer on my house this weekend because there's a homebuyer's tax credit that's expiring at the end of the month. Naturally, we'd like to take advantage of that, too, but it all depends on some brilliant soul snatching up my wonderful little house first.  :)

Monday, April 19, 2010

A truce, sort of

Our cats, Minnie and Sammi, are gradually becoming acclimated to each other. Yesterday evening was the first time Minnie didn't automatically growl at the sight of Sammi (of course, she was up on her high perch atop the tall chest of drawers, which may have helped). I heard some sort of scrap in the wee hours this morning, but it was very brief, followed by some low growling, and then everything was quiet again. I expect they both scurried off to neutral corners. And Minnie was on the bed by my feet when I woke up this morning. It was a nearly normal morning!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another working weekend

Sister A. & I have been busy bees again this weekend--less yesterday, since we were operating on very little sleep, but we did more today. The cats behaved better last night, so everybody got some good sleep. Minnie came back to my bed (well, after I carried her into the bedroom and showed her that the bed was an entirely safe place to be) and even came up to sleep by my face as she normally does. That was very nice.  :)

Today, I painted the wrought-iron front porch railing, a bit more on the fake columns around the front door, one front windowsill with a severe case of mange, and the wood trim around the French doors. A., meanwhile, packed & Podded part of the stuff she brought from her former abode Friday, vacuumed the whole place, and went through my cooking stuff and dishes, separating out the stuff I said could be given away and setting aside the dishes and pans we can pack & Pod. We've got just a very few place settings and two or three pans to use until Moving Day (whenever that is), so we'll just have to do the dishes every day!  :D

Tomorrow, we'll pack the greater part of my dishes and put them and my cedar chest in the Pod. Then everything that needs to be finished before the realtors troop through the place on Tuesday will be done. All that's left is the stuff that doesn't show, anyway. We're making great progress. And A. thinks my house will sell quickly once all the realtors have seen it and can tell prospective buyers about it.

We're perishing of curiosity about what the owner of the house we looked at Friday before last has been doing as far as fixing the few big problems we found (the big bathroom tile mess and leak around the shower and one broken window). We haven't even officially stopped looking at potential homes, much less made an offer, but we keep finding ourselves making plans around that particular house. It's going to be a very nice home/investment property when we're done with it. If we buy the house.  :)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Let the wild rumpus start!

We originally kept Minnie and Sammi, our two kitties, separated yesterday, but, of course, that didn't last--people sometimes have to get up in the middle of the night, and it's easy for a cat to slip out of the room when that happens. We knew it would probably happen, and hoped that if the cats did encounter each other in the dark, they'd zip off to opposite ends of the house and there'd at least be no blood on the walls.

Minnie and Sammi discovered each other around 3:30 this morning and there was snarling and chasing and generally lots of racket! Fortunately, it lasted only a few seconds--just long enough to jerk Sister A. and me out of sleep. A. said it looked like Sammi was playing "chase me!", but it looked mighty serious from Minnie's end. Minnie sailed off the top of the tall chest of drawers with a cat war-cry, then stopped dead and stalked a few paces toward the interloper, who wisely made a beeline for her mom. I waited for the discovery of a trail of blood somewhere, then, when no one raised the alarm, tried to go back to sleep. Not much luck in that department, alas, so I'm pretty much a zombie now.

There was more noise around 6:30 as Sammi began to voice her displeasure with the strangeness of everything in her world. She must have woken up disoriented, poor kitty. Minnie stayed right where she was on top of the chest of drawers and growled. I don't think she ever came down and joined me on the bed last night.

Speaking of poor kitties, Minnie has spent the day either up on the chest of drawers or hiding behind the couch (with its present "fortress" of packing materials at one end). We even found her hiding in a cupboard with a door that doesn't latch anymore, crouched in a small space behind the kitchen trash can and three recycled-materials boxes. She is stressed! She hasn't eaten since her stinky meat this morning (served to her on her high perch), and she only ate half of that. The sound of a cat eating while growling is very weird, indeed.

By contrast, Sammi's doing a lot better now, although she does hiss at Minnie when she sees her...and, of course, Minnie hisses at Sammi ditto. They'll calm down after a while, and I really think they'll get along eventually...or at least learn to stop hissing and give each other a wide berth.

I let Minnie outside a little while ago, since the rain finally stopped. She really needed a breather from the stress.

I sure hope the cats sleep better tonight. The cat-moms, too!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The real test starts tomorrow

Sister A. has been back at her former abode for a few days, packing up her stuff for the semi-final move here (to my present house; the final final move into the new house--wherever it may be--is yet to come). Tomorrow, she's heading back, this time with company: she's bringing her kitty, Sammi. Miss Fuzzy Pants (Sammi) was not thrilled to make Minnie's acquaintance last time we tried to introduce them, but we're hoping it was only because she'd been stressed out by the three-hour trip here. Sammi will have to endure that stress again tomorrow, but it will wear off after a while, and then we hope she'll relax and our kitties can get to know each other. We'll keep them separated for a few days, of course, while each gets used to the other's smell.

Here are our two contestants. First, Sammi when she was Cat of the Day:

Her mask and feet are actually darker than you see here; A. lightened them a bit so you could see her features. Otherwise, her face would just be a dark blob.

And here's Minnie, as beautiful as ever:

Please send a few purrs our way in the hope that these two ladies will come to love--well, like--well, at least tolerate each other.  :)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Violent furniture

Well, Sister A. made me mad and I tried to deck her, but I hit her glasses instead, so now they're busted and she's got a shiner and.... OK, not really.  :D  She does have a black eye, though--her very first! We were hauling an old Lazyboy outside yesterday and it slipped and whacked her in the glasses, giving her this lovely black eye and breaking her glasses (hence the "dork tape"). The shiner didn't show up in its full glory until this morning.

Me, I fell gut-first into the base of a large entertainment center when I slipped going down the front porch stairs (dropped down two steps instead of the one I expected), so I've got a long, narrow, eggplant colored bruise on my tummy (no, you don't get to see a picture of that one--the tummy in question is way too wide for publication!).

We've both got an assortment of other bruises and scrapes, but all told, we're not too much the worse for wear. And we accomplished a ton of work this weekend. In addition to yesterday's packing up, moving furniture, and getting one room entirely ready for showing, I cleaned out a closet full of crap, about half of which could be tossed or given away. Then today we did a lightning fast housecleaning when a realtor (not ours) called wanting to show my house! We ran all over the house with dustrags and Pledge, threw half-finished and/or messy-looking things into closets to hide, and generally terrified my poor cat, who had the impossible task of avoiding our frequently crossing trajectories. Minnie finally wanted OUT, where it was safe and didn't smell like fake lemons. Poor kitty! I hope she still loves me!

After finishing our cleaning in the nick of time, we blew out of the house and met our realtor to see two more potential homes. We actually only saw one of them, though, because the address of the other was apparently put into the real estate computer wrong; we never did find that sucker. He'll track it down and show it to us later. That house is in a newer neighborhood that's way above our price range, but it's a repo, which explains why we could even try giving it a look.

My house is a lot emptier--and neater-looking--now than it was when our realtor first took pictures of it, so he's going to come back Tuesday for fresh pix that'll make our listing more appealing. We did have a looker today, as I said, but we don't know what they thought of it. I think that's SOP.

We still have a bunch of stuff piled around in the living room that needs to be packed up and stored in the Pod, but we're beat for the weekend. There'll be plenty of time tomorrow evening to take care of that stuff.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Progress!

Here's my little house, with a great big PODS container parked in the driveway and a realtor's sign in the yard. Yep, Sister A. and I are going forward with our plans.

I didn't get to see the PODS arrive, but I hear it was way cool. A. says the PODS guy used a remote control to maneuver the Podzilla, the mobile frame on wheels that carries the POD to its destination and later picks it up from same. This YouTube video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnn-FncAaLs, shows that model in action. It looks like a big spider crawling around by itself!

The POD was delivered Friday. Friday evening after I got home from work, A. & I met our realtor and looked at two houses. The first was so cute, with a great kitchen, but didn't have quite enough room to accommodate our plans; the second is a real possibility, but first it needs serious repair around the shower stall in one bathroom (plus, we'd have to get the price down a bit). After we got back from house-viewing and a couple of side trips, I scraped a flower bed bald with the weedeater and dumped garden soil into it while A. continued to pack up my books (she'd been doing same all day--I have a lot of books!). We were pooped by the time we hit the hay.

Today, after a breakfast chock full o' carbs, we set furniture and other things out on the sidewalk in front of my house with "FREE!" signs all over them and waited for Good Samaritans to come out of the woodwork and cart off all the stuff I didn't want anymore. We got rid of all the furniture and most of the other stuff that way. I've got a little bit more that's destined for the break room at work Monday, where it will no doubt disappear into the hands of my very helpful co-workers.  :)  I also took my bin of Cat Chow to the lady across the street, who also feeds feral kitties. She'll feed my little clowder now; I know at least two of them were already visiting her place, and the other two have probably shown up there already, since I had to clear out the food station Wednesday evening.

My neighbor said she was sorry to see me move, but she understands that the neighborhood is getting a little scary. No doubt we'll still see each other driving to work--I'd recognize her little green Prius anywhere.  :)

After we got all the extraneous furniture out of the house, we started carrying boxes, shelving units, and other things we won't need immediately into the POD. Then we set up a workable (rather spartan!) living room and got the office/front bedroom "staged" (look it up on HDTV.com), as well as comfortable for my roomie. We were exhausted and gross by the time we hit the showers in late afternoon, but we accomplished a TON today. There'll be more work for tomorrow and Monday and, basically, all next week, but nothing near as heavy as we did today, at least not until it's time to move the last big things (beds, etc.)

Other things accomplished this week include pre-approval for a mortgage loan at a ridiculously low rate from my credit union. So we're ready to rock whenever the right house comes along. The realtor will start showing my house Tuesday after next, to give us time to have a problem area in the kitchen repaired and the garage/storage shed in the backyard scraped and painted.

The realtor has two more houses for us to look at tomorrow. We also drove around likely neighborhoods this evening (after a well-deserved Sonic burger) and collected the addresses of other possibilities. We'll check them out online tomorrow morning, probably, and if any are within our price range and requirements, we'll ask our realtor to look into them for us.

Some of our family are freaking out that (a) we're doing this and (b) we decided on doing this so quickly (e.g., in the course of one conversation). But we're sensible, practical people; we get along well enough to live together; we have reasonable plans; and we really think this will work out well. We're both looking forward to this new phase in our lives.  :)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The best laid plans....

I had a rather interesting day yesterday. Sister A's life got upheaved, and shortly thereafter, so did mine. Call it a "domestic dissolution" at her end. At my end, it's called invoking "the M word", as Max puts it.

Lo, these many years, Sister A. and I have planned to throw in together after I retire and/or after her hubby passes. Then yesterday morning, A. called me at work first thing and asked me to look into HUD or rent-supported housing for a disabled person. Even though I know she's on disability, it didn't occur to me that she was talking about housing for herself. After I found that out and realized that the meltdown I'd seen coming for two years had finally happened, I invited her to live with me until she got settled in her own digs. She hopped in her car and drove straight down to set up a checking account here and otherwise start the ball rolling.

While A. was en route, I tried to find out what could be done in the way of rent-supported housing, but I really didn't like the idea. A's income is not vast--she's retired on disability, after all, and Social Security ain't that generous. She'd have to rent a hovel in a bad neighborhood just to make ends meet. And since we'd probably be seeing each other every day, anyway.... Well, long story short, after she turned up at my place o' biz and told me the whole situation (and I got in a good bit of swearing at her soon-to-be-ex), it only seemed logical to suggest that maybe we should speed up the joint-digs idea--buy a house together now, here, instead of several years hence in some pleasant small town, as originally planned. She sighed and said, "Boy, I'm glad you said it first."

I put my head on my desk and groaned.

Not that I don't want to live in a better neighborhood--that would definitely be an improvement over my current locale, which now has the highest crime rate in the entire city. But my cute little house...! My beautiful bathroom I had remodeled less than a year ago! My beautiful, brand-new French doors! And all the plans for other remodeling in the years to come....

OK, I'm not sorry to get out of all that remodeling. It would have been extremely difficult to get so much work done and paid for before retirement, especially since I'm still working on paying off a load of credit-card debt.

But buy a house? Now?

Obviously, I have a house, and we could live there (as, indeed, we will for a few months), but it's quite small and we'd be practically living in each other's pockets. We are middle-aged ladies with broad interests and LOADS of books and other diversions (not to mention a little OCD and a slight tendency to pig-headedness), and there's no way we could live happily together in cramped quarters. So...enter the realtor.

This is actually a primo time to buy, and not a bad time to sell, either (at least here), since there are lots of low-income people wanting rent houses and that's probably what my little house will become. This area wasn't hit as hard by the recession as many other parts of the country. Plenty of landlords would be happy to add another property to their holdings. And financing should be no problem through my credit union (although A. may have to be the "main man" in that arrangement, considering my debts). And my house is so close to being paid off, I should clear a good amount in the sale to put toward the new house.

Plus, my "hood" is heading downhill; if I want to get a good price for my house, today is better than tomorrow, and certainly better than a year from now. So I decided to sell the place and buy a larger one in a better neighborhood with A., and the realtor went to work for us.

Now, picture that. I got up in the morning thinking about nothing more than solving a little software problem at work, and four hours later I was selling my house and moving.

Morning = Normalcy; Noon = Bizarro World.

You just never know what the day will bring.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Various & sundry...

  • I'm getting a new boss. I don't want a new boss--nor do any of my co-workers. In fact, my current boss didn't know she was about to become my ex-boss until the higher-ups told her they were moving her to a different position. Told her, mind you, not asked her. And they couched it in "what a wonderful opportunity for her!" terms, like that would make us not notice the fact that they just stuck a big ol' mixer into our department and hit the "puree" button. We got the news two weeks ago, or thereabouts, and after initial shock and freaking out (along with the nasty revelation that the Big Dogs are apparently allowed to just move ANY of us into ANY position ANY time they want to), we're all more or less resigned to it now. Well, we sort of have to be, since there's not a whole lot we can do about it--we are mere peons, powerless cogs in the Great Wheel of Bureaucracy. We met one of the candidates for new-boss-hood last Thursday and he seems OK; anyway, he seems to get the concept of a production line and realistic expectations (we hope). It'll work out. And, if not, I qualify for retirement in 7.5 years.

  • I got my hair butched off way short first thing this morning--just got sick of it! Anyway, it's spring and I feel like a new start.  :)

  • After clearing the mop off my head, I spent five hours today mowing the lawn, weed-eating, giving the pampas grass a shave & a haircut (two bits), and sweeping up clippings. It was the first bout of yardwork of the season, and it was a bear. I'm totally wrecked now, but I should sleep like the dead tonight. I definitely deserved this evening's chocolate Frosty.

  • Minnie will miss the purple weeds, in particular...or, at least, I'll miss seeing her come in from her walks and dirt-wallows with little purple flowers decorating her fuzzy drawers. :D

  • Minnie's been going outside a lot lately--I can barely get her inside before I go to work or to bed. No doubt, she's making up for all the snow-and-ice lock-down time she had to endure this winter.

  • Just to make sure not everything went smoothly today, I lost control of the side/kitchen storm door when the crazy West Texas wind grabbed it as I was coming in. Now the damn thing's bent out of whack and won't lock or latch properly without a fight to lift it into something close to proper alignment. Over $200 that door cost me (several years ago), plus the bucks I paid a guy from work to install it for me, and the wind wrecks it in one second. Guess what I'll be paying for next, dammit?? I swear, if it ain't one thing, it's another....