Saturday, May 31, 2008

An Interesting Conversation

I was working on the final stretch of picket fence this morning - replacing broken pickets, scraping, and spot priming - when my next-door-neighbor bopped out her front door to take her dog for a walk.

I had never really spoken to this neighbor since she moved in. Historically it’s been a long line of renters in that house, and never one for too long. But about a month ago I caught her as she was leaving for work to ask her when I could get into her side yard to repair the stretch of fence between our two properties. Her large mastiff made me uneasy about meeting by “surprise.” We exchanged pleasantries and phone numbers. Our arrangement worked, and the fence is now fixed.

So I said to her this morning that I had managed to get the fence fixed between rain storms. She said she had noticed. Then things got interesting.

She asked if I was at home during the day.

I replied that I worked for myself so my schedule was somewhat flexible.

She wanted me to be sure to call the police if I ever see anyone hauling her belongings out of the house.

No problem, I said. I’m very good at calling the police.

Then she said that there is an electrical problem with her house and she is concerned for the safety of her dog, and asked that if I ever see her house is on fire would I please call the fire department and kick in the back door to let her dog out.

I said no problem. I’m very good at calling the fire department. (At this point I’m calculating the proximity of her house to mine and making a mental affirmation to continue paying for monitored fire detectors.)

I said that we needed to paint her side of our house in the next few months, and the closeness of the property line to our foundation meant that we would need to put the feet of our ladder in her yard.

No problem, she said, as her husband would be back in town in about a month, and they would move then.

I said, oh, is he deployed?

And she said no, that he was out of town.

At which point I guesstimated that “out of town” meant “incarcerated,” and that he would be released in about a month.

Countdown to close: 45 hours.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Baby Birds and Expert-Level Scheduling

As I write this morning I am pleased (and relieved) to announce that I have just completed and turned in the last bit of the humongous assignment that has been absorbing every waking hour that wasn’t being used scheduling the new house, investigating identity theft, starting our new business venture, or fixing up the old house. The timing couldn’t be better as we close on Monday, and 100% of Monday and potentially 100% of Tuesday will be spent meeting with contractors at the new abode. Then of course we leave Saturday for a week in Michigan, and the uber assignment’s deadline is 8 a.m. the first day we are back.

All my ducks appear to be in a row house-wise. Most of the utilities are slated to be switched over to our name on Monday with the exception of gas which has had to be approved by a special department because of the extended fraud alert on our credit file due to the above mentioned and long drawn out identity theft issue. (The dude has been charged by the DA, btw, and his arraignment is scheduled for late June.) I’m hoping that the special department will get on board with this today so we can have gas on Monday, too. But since it’s not a heating season, and we don’t need hot water until we move in, not having gas isn’t a crisis.

Here’s what Monday looks like at a glance:

7 a.m.
Load car with essentials for the day:
New lawn mower, now sitting in the middle of my kitchen
Gas can
Wheel barrow
Coffee pot, filters, and coffee
Lamp (for testing outlets)
Garbage disposal
Bath and kitchen towels
Tool kit including drill, drill bits, extra-long exterior grade extension cord hammer, multi-bit screwdriver, pliers, socket wrench set, and small lag bolts to attach mailbox to post
Paint chip books

8 a.m.
Meet Realtor at new house for a final walk-through pre-close

9 a.m.

10 a.m.(?)
Return to house and unload the car. Then go directly to lumber yard to buy a mailbox, heavy-duty metal shelving, and two garage door openers to be scheduled for delivery and installation. Afterward, go to Target to buy a laundry list of cleaning supplies that I won’t bother to detail here.

Evaluate and prioritize electrical repairs. Map circuitry.

It’s here somewhere

1 p.m.
Meet with general contractor to discuss the major things that have to be fixed pre-move

1 p.m. (?)
Meet with plumber who really wants to come in the morning because I have an extra-long list of fixes that he can’t possibly complete in one day such as fixing a leaking toilet, blowing the crud out of all the lines, installing new disposer, evaluating sump pump drain hole in middle of yard, and replacing burst pipe in garage.

3 p.m.
Meet with HVAC rep to estimate and evaluate dangerous furnace venting and replace missing insulation on air conditioner.

After that, we need to schedule an electrician to at least repair the life-threatening things, and meet with the garage opener installers.

As my Realtor says: “This will be an adventure!”

As for the baby birds mentioned in the title, we appear to have a nest of baby swifts in our chimney. I can hear them chirping and scratching about in the morning as I watch the news and knit. I’m hoping they leave before we start showing the house...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Life Lesson #695,439

Do not attempt to say the words “water well” while your mouth is numb from Novocaine.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Brief Gulp of Air

This is a brief “hey” before the blog goes unusually quiet. A lot has happened in the past few weeks.

The identity theft suspect has been charged with a felony by the DA in his jurisdiction.

We close on our new home June 2.

We leave for Michigan June 7.

In the midst of all this craziness I’m juggling an unusually heavy workload, starting a new sub-business (aka super secret project), and trying to keep dwindling my home repair task list so as to be able to put our current house on the market as fast as possible after we move to the new town.

Of course, AT&T chose this time to screw up our home internet connection which has been working marvelously for 4+ years, but ceased working late last week. We made two attempts to fix the problem with tech support. Call #1 tech guy told us he had no record of us ever having an internet account, but the DSL service we were paying for was working great. (Lightning fast feedback for our web browser to tell us that we weren’t connected to the internet is no help at all.) He asked us to find our account number. Again, 4 years ago.

We gave the hunt a good effort before giving up and calling again, this time from the office.

Call #2 the tech guy told us he couldn’t help us if we weren’t home, so to go home and get on our laptop so he could help us configure our system. DUDE. Our computers were not the problem. The asshole who flipped some switch off in command central IS the problem.

At that point we just canceled. After all, we’re going to be canceling this service in a few more months anyway. But in the meantime, I don’t have internet access at home. That leaves fewer convenient opportunities to update the blog. Please forgive.

Yesterday was knit group. I shared the news that we were closing on our new home June 2.

Q: Where did you buy?

A: [NAME OF NEIGHBORHOOD]... but, I added, we bought the worst house in the neighborhood. In fact, our house is a blight on the neighborhood.

Q: You didn’t buy the [NAME OF STREET] house, did you?

A: Yep!

Our house is infamous. I’m so proud.

There has been some limited knitting action. I’m halfway done with the 2nd sleeve of the v-neck cardi.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pick Up

So yesterday evening we were at the lumber yard buying a few more gallons of paint for the picket fence and house trim. Michael wandered off to price baseboard trim and a new miter saw (compound with laser sight, thankyouverymuch) while I hung out at the counter waiting for the only clerk on duty to finish mixing the previous customer’s order and then take mine.

The clerk wandered off to the shelves to get the base paint for customer #1, and when he returned he was accompanied by a middle aged man who seemed oddly chipper and very talkative. The clerk put that man’s can of paint on the shaker and continued to mix customer #1’s paint. The man turned to me.

He stood somewhat close.

He asked what I was painting.

He told me what he had been doing all day.

He asked me when I had gotten up because I seemed tired. (Yes I was tired because I’d been running at a manic pace for days)

I gave the clerk my paint order and continued to wait.

Then he moved to the other side of me and stood within 1' while he rummaged through a display of pour spouts, continuing to chat me up.

I was polite.

I did not engage.

I did not elaborate.

I did not inquire.

When his can was off the shaker the man went through the registers and left.

Michael returned. I quietly filled him in on what had just transpired.

The clerk put my two cans of paint on the counter, paused, and asked me if I knew that man. I said no. The clerk, who hadn’t given any hint that he had been paying attention, said that it looked like that guy was trying to hit on me.

I may have been exhausted. My arms may have been splashed with paint and scratched from crawling through bushes. But apparently I looked gooood in my new summer shirt I bought at Kohls last month.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Forgot my Camera Today. You’re Welcome.

So we pull up to the front doors of our office building this morning, and I spy these odd arcs of white near the edge of the glass. I say to Michael, “Is something wrong with the door??” and he answers, “Yes, it’s broken.” That’s when I notice the plywood covering one of the windows of the restaurant on the first floor.

I prepare mentally to call the landlord as we unlock the main entrance. We disarm the system and hike up to the doors on the landing. That’s when I notice a chartreuse-colored sign bearing my landlord’s handwriting. It’s a good news/bad news* letter. In short, some dude was bored Sunday night so he decided to go on a glass-breaking spree. He broke our door. He broke the display window of the restaurant. That’s when he cut himself - and so badly that he had to seek emergency medical attention. Physical evidence collected at the scene matched his blood type, and he was arrested later that night.

Coming at the door in the direction that we arrived at 7 a.m., I had not noticed the blood. But when I came back from an errand later that morning, I took a different path that crossed the blood trail. That guy, “dude”, bled like a stuck pig. His blood trail traveled down the sidewalk for about 20 yards, then out to the parking area where it lingered in splats near where a door would be if a typical car were parked there.

So what I’m saying is, if I had had my camera with me today, you would now be treated with gruesome photos of blood splatters on a brick sidewalk.

You’re welcome.

Ready Maid: Yes, we do happen to be preparing to travel again. Thanks for asking! In just a few weeks we leave for the thumb area of Michigan where we will be recording about five other segments for our super-secret project that I suspect you already have guessed we are doing, but I am not quite ready to share with my regular blog readers. Could be wrong, but I don’t think I am. Anyway, I am really looking forward to a great trip that will include cuckoo clocks and fine beer.

And, in other news, the identity theft case has advanced exponentially in the last 72 hours. I hope to know more by the end of the week.

*The bad news was that the glass had been broken. The good news was that the suspect had cut himself so badly that he left DNA evidence all over the scene and had to seek medical attention.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Home of Doobie-smokin’ Hippies

Would you like to see what may become our new house?

First, I would like you to note something that you cannot see. That would be our Realtor, aka “The Sniper,” who had just made a quick dodge to the right so as not to appear in a photo.

Second, the contract pending sign that he hung for my sake because prospective buyers were gawking at our house while we were there having the sewer scoped. (That looked pretty good, btw, save for some root growth near the street that he rootered out so now the water flows out and won’t back up toward the house.)

Third, the ugly faded house color.

Fourth, the rotting bay window that was not original to the house and must be ripped out in the next 12 months.

Fifth, the funky-butt entry shelter that is also not original to the house and also must be ripped out in the next 24 months.

The foundation is rock solid. Rock Solid. But inside? The home is filled with peculiarities that can most reasonably be explained away three ways. 1. The home was finished by a crew of doobie-smokin’ hippies. Plumbness and installation craftsmanship has hit an all-time low. That also fits with the build year of 1972. 2. The original owners ran out of money toward the end of the build so they used the cheapest crap they could lay their hands on. And 3. In the intervening years the house suffered from neglect from absentee owners and careless renters. Of course all of this was iced nicely with a fresh coat of popcorn spray on every ceiling in the house - even coating any given light fixture that might have been in the way.

Our new neighbors must have spent years developing a deep hatred of this home.

At least I know that once get the weed field cleared that now passes as a lawn, that we won’t be frowned at for now mowing our yard in proper diagonal form.

And Jules? Yes, it is in a different town, but the town we planned to move to all along.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

We’re Movin’ on Up!

There is a television ad running now that sums the situation up pretty well. I think it’s an insurance ad: Life comes at you fast.

About 1 1/2 weeks ago we left for a business trip to Arkansas. On the way we stopped in Miami, Oklahoma to conduct an interview for a video podcast. And on the way to that we stopped at Picher, Oklahoma to get some background images for the same podcast. Less than 1 week later, the town of Picher Oklahoma was destroyed by an F4 tornado that killed six of the town’s residents. It is an eerie feeling knowing that we probably took the last professional images of that community. Or, that if we had scheduled our appointment at the Coleman for the return trip from Arkansas, we would have been too late to capture this town on film.

Anyway, we arrived home late Sunday and dove straight back into the work bonfire. There had been a house in a nearby town we’d had our eye on for a while, and we had arranged to view it again with our agent on Wednesday when both our schedule and the agent’s had a free slot. We knew that the price of the house was about to drop, and unofficially already had, but it had not been announced publicly. Well, midstream through our trip that price drop was announced. Crap! We could do absolutely nothing about it. We forged ahead.

On Monday Michael emailed the agent just to let him know we were back in town. The agent said that he finished his work up a little earlier than expected, and could meet with us Tuesday. Despite both of us having enormous jobs with impossible deadlines, we decided to set those things to the side. On Tuesday at 11 a.m. we toured the home. By 12:30 we had placed an offer. We zipped home to finish up our work, then drove straight back to meet with our agent and sign some papers. Our offer was to be presented to the owner overnight.

Wednesday we found out that the seller’s agent had other commitments the previous evening. Our agent was to meet with him that morning. We kept working, waiting for word.

At 12:45 I left for lunch and first made a stop at my mother’s house to pick up something she had waiting for me. I went home to make a sandwich, and on a whim decided to call the office to have Michael check my email. It was about 1:15. He put me on hold while he went to check. He came back quickly with a CRAP! The agent had emailed about ten minutes before to say that there was another offer that would be coming in that day, that the owners had countered our offer with the asking price, and that we only had a few hours to work with to reply with an acceptable counter-offer.

All afternoon we tried to stay off the land line while we waited for our agent to call, trying very hard not to bark at clients who had the audacity to call to talk business with us.

The day ticked on. It was around 4. The phone rang. It turned out to be one of those damned recordings telling me I was qualified for a line of credit (that I didn’t want, didn’t apply for, and had no intention of accepting). I hung up and cursed.

The phone rang immediately. I picked up. A man on the other end stammered that he had called the wrong number. I started to hang up (cursing even more) but something bothered me. I put the phone back to my ear and said, “James?” He said, “Yes?” I said, “It’s Sally.” Yep. It was our agent. The owner had accepted the offer, and the seller’s agent would not accept any other offers from other buyers.

Now we’re in that phase of never-ending requests for checks and “hurry up and wait” for the contract to arrive, and inspection reports. (We’re getting the sewer scoped today. They’ll even furnish us a video tape. Yay!)

The house is far from move-in ready. In fact, there are a few things that have to be fixed ASAP or it could kill us in our sleep. Just sayin’.

It’s all very scary, but very exciting!

Knit gals? My commute to knit group is about to get a lot shorter!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Look! Blue Sky!

Once the storms passed eastward, the sky cleared revealing a soft blue sky over the valley below Mt. Magazine. I risked the breeze across our 3rd story balcony to take a few pics. First, though, a few remnants from Little Rock.

These signs in the parking garage of the Holiday Inn Presidential crack me up:

And this is Yarn Mart where I came away with the Can-Can project, two kick-ass knitting bags, and directions to a delightful gourmet cupcake shop.

Now for the projects.
This is Can-Can, from the Lumina/Seduce pattern booklet #272, that I will knit up in Berroco’s Seduce color 4435, which I describe as a silky bronze fiber.

The other is a crochet project. (Guess it’s time to reteach myself how to crochet.) It’s hard to make out in this photo, but it’s sort of an airy poncho-vesty thing sold to me by the designer herself at The Handworks Gallery. The store was in a state of chaos due to the previous weeks of heavy rain that caused regional flooding and an unfortunate roof leak in her store. I’ll be making this out of Goddess Yarns Hayden. That’s a marigold yellow.

Both projects will look great over a little black dress, me thinks.

Home sometime later today.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Tease

My trip is winding down. As I thought, my point and shoot has stayed comfy and cozy at the bottom of my purse while I busied myself with multiple pieces of more expensive technology.

I do have one photo to share from the trip, which I will download sometime Monday, most likely. I also have some kick-ass projects I purchased at two shops in Little Rock. One is a knit project. I was warned by the ladies at that shop that I should knit it on straights because otherwise I would “find God” trying to constantly maneuver the yarn over the joins between the nylon thread and the needle. Considering that I have many other projects that lead me closer to finding God each and every day, I’ll take a pass for this particular project and will work on it with long US7 straights as advised. The other is a crochet project that defies description. I will just say that it is a sort of vesty-thing that will make me look like a monotone version of ’50s inspired Christmas tree garland that Target sells. Plus two kick-ass knitting bags.

Picks on all the above will have to wait because we are once again shrouded in long hanging clouds on the top of Mount Magazine in Arkansas. There is nothing to see except gray soup beyond our balcony rail, so the lighting conditions pretty much suck.

A line of very severe storms are moving through eastern Arkansas tonight with multiple tornado sightings. We are watching the storm very carefully. Or as carefully as we can considering that the towns that the local meteorologists are using to illustrate the location and path of that storm are completely unknown to us. I hiked down to the lobby with my laptop to have the desk clerks show me on my Doppler weather widget where exactly we were (basically the boonies), and over and over they followed it up with “where are you going?” to which I would say “nowhere, but I want to know where the storm is and where it is going in relation to us.” I was poo pooed right and left because apparently there has never been a tornado hit Mt. Magazine or anywhere close to it - EVER. Pardon me if I choose to ignore your lackadaisical attitude when it comes to severe weather, and instead put my life in my own hands.

I’m weird that way.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Stopping in to say “Hey”

Yesterday we toured the bathhouses at Hot Springs, Arkansas; and dug for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Today? Elephants.

Can life get any better than this? I think not!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Breakfasting at Camp David

Okay. It’s not the Camp David. I’m talkin’ the restaurant/lounge in the hotel where we are stationed for the next few days. Still, though, the hotel lobby boasts the presidential seal, and there’s a china hutch filled with all kinds of presidential curios. Our room is quite cozy. The bed is ├╝ber soft. The only hitch in this set-up is a curious advisory pasted to the bathroom door at eye-level, if you know what I mean:

Any thoughts?

So far so good on the trip. Haven’t gotten tons of knitting done, but managed to squeak in a bit on the straighter roads.

Monday, May 05, 2008

A Pre-trip Surprise

It’s been a long exhausting week, and Saturday was one of those crazy days where we were zipping around town in a frenzy of non-ending errands that would enable us to leave on our business trip without leaving our clients in a lurch or risking the house be condemned for its state of uncleanliness.

So it was an extremely pleasant surprise to walk into our office library where we discovered this:

We didn’t even know that plant bloomed!

The next week will also be crazed, and I predict very little blogging will happen this trip.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Sleepless Friday

By now all of you have probably heard about the terrible weather that swept through the midwest overnight, killing seven people in Arkansas. Well that storm line was pretty much born on top of us.

The cats were freaked out. Freaked out. I recall waking to lightning and thunder, and seeing the outline of Nacho’s head pivot from window to window watching the flashes. The weather alert radio went off a few times. I tried to sleep through it, but was aware enough to know that most of the alerts were for storm warnings and not tornado warnings. Then sometime around 11, I think, I heard a terrible cat fight. The boys were at it again, taking measure of each other's penises. I try to let them resolve their disagreements themselves, but the stairs change that rule. And what I heard was Caper pushing Nacho back-asswards down a flight of stairs. Not good. I separated them, bringing Nacho into the bedroom and closing the door. Trouble was, that meant I could no longer hear the voice alert on the weather radio.

I reopened the bedroom door and crossed my fingers that they would have forgotten their disagreement. I was disappointed. Another fight, and on the stairs once again. I stumbled my way through the house and scruffed Nacho who was hissing and puffing away, and shut him in the downstairs level while Caper had the run of the 2nd floor. Thank goodness, too, because that's how we heard the tornado warning.

Even though we heard that the twisters had been spotted on the other side of the county and were moving away from us, we got up and watched radar. And then we returned to bed and stared at the ceiling for a few hours.

I am really hoping for a nice long sleep tonight because we are about to leave on business, and I'm barely speaking in coherent sentences.