Friday, October 30, 2009

In other news........

We knew it was going to happen, so I didn't drive the car if I were by myself, only if Tom was along. There's no cell coverage for half the trip into town, so I didn't attempt it when I was alone.

Tom was called at 6 this morning and asked if he'd sub at the middle school, which is less than a mile from my school. Otherwise I'd have been driving the truck and it would have happened another time.

We were about three miles from school when it started. The knocking got louder and louder and the car labored to make it up the hill. Fortunately we were at the top of the hill when the engine let loose a cloud of smoke and quit. We knew it was gone, so it wouldn't hurt to run it a little farther, would it?

It cut off three more times (once as we turned right on red without stopping) but we were able to coast into the school parking lot and got it into a safe place. It'll stay there until we sell it for parts or have it towed to the junk yard.

At least it happened at the top of a hill near the school. It could have let go on the mountain on one of the blind turns, or as we pulled out of our driveway in the middle of Dead Man's Curve.

$6000 divided by 3 years = $2000 a year. Not too shabby for a Camry that already had about 160,000 miles on it. This is not a good time to buy another car since we refinanced our WV home to pay for our place in the Keys and may be a little overborrowed right now. But we have to have something that'll allow me to go to and from work once Tom moves to Florida (probably after Thanksgiving, although we want to go down there before then for a week).

We've rented a Hyundai overnight so we can get home, get the truck, and drive the rental back in. At least that's only $45. And it's payday. All is well.

It ain't grand, but it's well. We'll survive.

Oh--please think kind thoughts toward my friend Trillian who was unexpectedly laid off this week. Her boss plans to rehire her as soon as possible, but it's a scary time for her.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

In today's news....

WE GOT THE CAT HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!!

You may reserve your rooms by emailing

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wouldn't it be cool if......

HGTV or DIY would want to do something with The Cat House?

Nah, it would have to be HGTV. I don't Do It Myself.

Not that we've been told that the bank has approved the sale. That hasn't happened. Yet. I'm trying to stay positive.

So I wrote to HGTV and offered The Cat House as a sacrificial lamb. I mean, most of it's going to be sacrificed, mostly to the Gods of Finance, so why not?

It kept me occupied and out of trouble for 15 minutes, so it was win-win all around.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


From our "new" real estate agent in the Keys:

" Tom,

I have had several emails that they have been trying> to get some resolve. But no definitive word. "

Is the bank so desperate not to show a loss right now that they'd refuse a sale that's 1/3 of the last appraised amount? At least they'd get that much. Much longer and they'll have a derelict property that no one will want.

In other news, it's cold. Enough already.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So, what's new?

I don't really want to have to write this, but it's too much to hold inside. I don't want to jinx anything. I'm horribly superstitious.

On Friday Tom called the lawyer in Florida who'll handle the closing down there to see what was going on. The lawyer hadn't heard anything, so he checked with the auction company who told him that the bank that owns The Cat House has not approved the sale. Even though we were told two weeks ago that it HAD approved it. Now we're waiting on pins and needles. I so much hate not having solid ground under my feet.

Tom called the woman who originally listed The Cat House and hired her to be our go-between, as the bank will only communicate 1) with a real estate agent and 2) by fax. Love their customer service. We'd been told before the auction that they're notoriously hard to deal with. The only thing that we can think of is that, because they're located in southern California, they have no idea what two years of heat and humidity can do to a house that's sitting idle. (Add in the feral cats and it's really ugly.) In CA they can let a house sit forever without deteriorating. The agent is going to emphasize to them that the house is almost at the point of no return, and if they want any money out of it, they'd better let it go now. They must be owed a large part of the last appraisal which was over $340,000 and don't want to take that big a loss. If they keep on like this, they'll lose everything there. They'll have to sell it as simply a piece of land and someone will have to tear down everything and haul it away. I don't think too many people will take pricey burden on.

So we're in limbo again. We've refinanced our WV place so that we'd have cash for our place in the Keys, but at a higher interest rate and higher monthly payment. We wouldn't have done that if we thought we wouldn't get our place in the Keys.

We'd hoped to leave for Florida Saturday night after Last Train Home plays in town and spend the next week down there lining things up. I need a week in the Keys. At our place.

We didn't have frost until yesterday morning (which was also my sister Betty's birthday--happy birthday, Betty!) which is so unusual in our area. We almost always have frost by the 22nd of September, at the very least the first of October. Not that I'm complaining; I've enjoyed the reprieve. Have I mentioned lately that I hate cold weather and that I hate having such short days and long nights?

I've knit more on The Wedding Stole. It's looking so nice (even with the holes from places I've dropped stitches and can't figure out where they go). Less than three weeks now. I'm sort of half done, but I don't like the area where I followed the pattern and only placed beads on the selvedges. It's just too plain like that. I think I'll attempt to pick up the stitches where I first started the beading and use that as the starting point for the other half. I just don't like the plainless next to the sparkly beads.

Yesterday I received my copy of Mercury Falls by Rob Kroese (see and click on suitcase over there to the right------->) and started reading it. He's been compared to Christopher Moore which leaves him big footprints to fill. If you like funny, literate, insane novels, then you'll like these guys.

I'm hungry. It's too early for lunch, but I'm hungry.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A quiz that didn't lie

You Are Most at Home in the Bedroom

You're the type of person who finds sanctuary in your home. Your home is your private space.

While you may be a social person outside the home, it's very rare that you invite people into your home.

There's nothing like spending time alone in your bedroom - relaxing and reflecting about your day.

You truly treasure your time by yourself. You need to be able to recharge every so often in order to thrive.

Long time no post

Wow, I've been lazy. I've had a lot to say but I've been too lazy to actually put it into words and do the typing.

We are nearing the closing of the refinancing of our current place so we can set the closing for our place in the Keys. We're pulling out most of the equity to pay cash for The Cat House and fix the pool (priorities, you know), the a/c, and rip out the carpet and master bath and closet, pay for insurance (which will be exhorbitant, but what can you do), and have the electricity and water turned on in our names. After the place in WV sells (and the sooner the better) we won't have a mortgage! We should have enough to do a lot of the renovations we want.

Meanwhile, our '99 Camry has decided that about 230,000 miles is pretty much enough and is threatening to throw a rod or a bearing, so we can't drive it much. It's been a good car; we've had it for a couple of months over three years and have put a lot of miles on it. We'd replace the engine if we could find one cheap enough, but the only one available, it seems, is $4000 including labor and already has over 200,000 miles on it. The car isn't worth that much. For now I'm driving the truck to work. Nice because it's more comfortable and has a cd player, but it's so big and I'd rather drive something much smaller. Maybe after the houses are taken care of we'll be able to get another used car.

Several people have come over to see the property in the last couple of weeks, but no offers yet.

I've been knitting The Wedding Stole sporadically; it's probably almost half-done. I wish I'd started the heavy beading at the very beginning because it looks so pretty, but I didn't, and I'm sure not going to sew them on. I like the yarn (silk and cashmere) and it was so cheap ($6) on ebay. I'll use much more than that in beads. Since we're be heading to Big Pine Key as soon as we can close, I'll be near Key West and can go back and buy some more beads. I know I could order them, but this way I know what I'm getting. The wedding is Nov. 7, so I have to get cracking. I should be able to do a lot of knitting in the car, although on the way down we're leaving after a Last Train Home show and will drive the first 8-10 hours in the dark. I hope I can sleep; if not, I've got Twilight and the laptop.

B2 is loving kindergarten. The kid just lives life large in all ways. He's Mr. Confidence, Mr. Charisma, Mr. Alpha Male. He's quite a character. He spent two years being civilized in Methodist pre-school (they went into the "sintuary" for singing) so public school has been no big deal for him. He simply doesn't see the need, though, to practice his writing and counting and reading. He just tells the teacher "I don't want to do that." No anger, no yelling, he's just very sure that he doesn't want to do it. J asked his teacher if it's interfering with his learning; she said that he's very bright and is picking up all the concepts. Once he's got it, he's done, thankyouverymuch.

He's had some trouble with another boy in his class who seems to be a bully. B2 just tells him that what he's doing is wrong and to stop. And the kid does. It's a wonder that B2 himself isn't the object of bullying as he has some health-related issues that really make him stand out in a crowd. He's allergic to grass; whatever body part that touches it first breaks out in a rash which quickly turn to welts and then blister. It's pretty. So the child has to wear long sleeves and long pants with socks and running shoes in the Florida heat. (They're required to wear belts, too, with their shirts tucked in. On a five-year-old. Who outgrows his pants every couple of months.) So he's usually red-faced and extremely sweaty.

He also has a tendency to vomit copiously because he shoves food into his mouth at a high rate of speed. He always had. He is repeatedly told not to do this. Even the kids in his class now yell "B2, don't you dare! Stop that! I mean it!" and sometimes it works. He carries a little garbage bag with him all the time in case he needs to puke. And no one makes fun of him. They love him. They pay attention to his thoughts and generally go along. He's not bullying, I don't think, he's calm and apparently fair-minded.

This was not what we expected, but we're happy with it.

A is in the 4th grade and doing well. She's a broadcaster on their school news show and loves it. Last night she read a story to me and only stumbled over a few big words and she answered the questions in complete sentences and correctly. She's typing quickly and mispelling fewer words (spell-check, maybe? but not in her email. She definitely doesn't spell-check that.) Her emails are longer and more involved. What a difference moving to the poorest county in Florida and attending school there has made for her. She went from one of the highest income counties where the schools are new and pretty, where she had all kinds of trouble with bullies and teachers who said she was so far behind the other kids, to the poor county where things are old but where they try to spend their money intelligently, and she's blossomed. Straight A's. She's made lots of friends. (She was even asked by a boy if she'd "go out" with him. Mommy and Daddy said hell no. As you probably know, going out means hanging around together at school.)

We added a 10' x 10' deck to the back of the house and are enjoying it so much. It's one of those things that we wish we'd done earlier so we could have enjoyed it longer. And it would have been much bigger. Tom and his brother have done a lot of work, mostly finishing little things that they didn't finish when they built the place. A lot of junk has been packed or given away so there's a lot more room so it actually looks like someone lives there, not just stores stuff there.

Life goes on. I finally gave myself permission to enjoy the fall colors, almost too late. We aren't having the intense color that we have sometimes; there was an article in the paper about it that I didn't bother to read. But if it's the last time that I have to endure another fall and winter, maybe I can enjoy it.

We still haven't had frost in either WV or here in the Valley (Shenandoah). That's exceedingly unusual. We usually have a cold snap in the 20s of September then Indian summer, always frost by the first weekend of October, but none so far. Therefore there hasn't been Indian summer. I'm not complaining, just commenting. We didn't bring our plants inside until last weekend; usually we have to do that a good month earlier.

That's the news from this part of the country. At least, what I can remember of it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

New plan

Since our current house didn't appraise as high as we thought and hoped it would, we're going to take another route to pay for The Cat House.

We were going to take a line of credit (equity) and pay for it that way, but it would have an adjustable rate which could turn out really bad in the long run. No closing costs, but the interest could eat us up. Instead, we're going to refinance the thing at 4.9% for 15 years, which means the monthly payment on both places together will be about $600 more than we're paying now. We can manage that if I work until I'm 90 get a job in the Keys next school year and work a few years longer. There are still assistant positions open in several of the schools this year, so I'm hoping that I can get into one next August. Of course I have to have the summer off. I'd make half of what I make now and I'd have to work with *shudder* kids again, but I'd prefer that over staying up here another two or three years and being cold and in another state than Tom. Another state physically and mentally.

We won't be able to fix things up as quickly as we'd like; the plan now is to 1) make one bedroom liveable (upstairs guest room with tile on the floor as opposed to nasty carpet); 2) get the a/c running; and 3) get that pool going. We have an apartment sized stove that I never used and a small fridge that I did use; we'll haul them down and see if they work. If not, then we'll buy used and cheap to get us going. We'll tear out the cabinets in the kitchen so we can put down the new ceramic tile all over the house at the same time. The deck will be demolished right away and rebuilt when we have money. The toilets all seem to work and the bathroom upstairs isn't too nasty, so we can make do with that till we win the lottery rob a bank sell our current place and are able to start doing things right.

Lowe's has an online room visualizer which is helpful when I'm not cursing it remember to log in so I can save the rooms I put together. I did the entire master bath yesterday, couldn't save it no matter how much I cursed, closed it, then remembered that you can't save if you don't sign in.

The master closet HAS to be torn out and redone (that little mold problem) and we'd like to rearrange the bathroom anyway because it has so much wasted space. We'll put the bathroom where the closet was (in the very back) with French doors leading to the deck and the outside shower. When we actually have those two things. There won't be a window in there when it's rearranged. The bath will be 10' x 10' instead of the current 10 x 13. The closet will be between the bedroom and bathroom, not totally sure about the size but probably the same size as the bathroom. Smaller if we decide we want the bedroom to be bigger. That probably won't be necessary, though, because we'll have built-ins in the closet so we won't need any furniture in the bedroom but the bed and bookshelves.

When we go down to close (probably the last week of this month) we'll take a load of crap stuff with us, possibly the bed in the guest room, or at least the mattress, and if the place doesn't stink too much (tile in that bedroom, remember) we'll actually stay in our house in the Keys. Doesn't that sound nice? I'll be adding it to a lot of conversations; "We're retiring to our house in the Keys." "Oh, yes, we bought a little place in the Keys." "We're living in the Keys." Like that.

We'll have to have the electricity turned back on in our name, same with the water. We may take our little window a/c with us because that a/c unit in our house in the Keys won't be operational. We'll arrange for tenting the place (damn bugs, mainly termites).

I want this house to look really nice when we're finished, so I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and actually putting color on the master bedroom walls. Color that's not off white. Color that's sort of a dusty blue-green. Tom loves all shades of green, but they make me very uncomfortable. Don't know why. I'm trying to compromise with him by going the blue-green route. Darker walls. Maybe I'll sleep better then.

Maybe it's going to happen after all. I still can't quite believe it.

Monday, October 05, 2009

How do you spell relief?

The bank (that owns The Cat House) has accepted our offer on the house.

We had till October 19 to close on it, and we hadn't heard a thing from them yet, so today Tom called. They'll have the papers to us by October 12 (yeah, I've heard that before) and we'll have until November 12 to close.

Tom also called the guy who appraised our house three weeks ago and hadn't gotten his report in yet. He kept saying "tomorrow", but it never happened. Tom had called him several times, and the bank had called, and today Tom got the number. Problem is, it's about $40,000 less than what we're asking for it. Did the guy finally come up with a comp in our area (he'd said he couldn't find one) and just throw out a number that was low because he was tired of dealing with us? The real estate agent thinks we should get much more.

But although many people have seen the place, we haven't had any offers. Maybe if we drop the price a little it'll motivate someone.

So, we're relieved today that we actually did get The Cat House. We're not as happy that we can't take as much out of our present home to pay for it and start the renovations. We're hoping to be in the Zero Mortgage Club once we sell our WV place.

And I'm planning to spend two weeks at The Cat House at Christmas! IN the house! Tom won't be able to go down and start tearing off the deck and the carpet and getting the pool fixed as early as we'd hoped, but with luck (what's that?) by Christmas the house will have electricity, water, and a/c so we can stay in it.

Ahhhh, Christmas lounging around the pool. That's the way to celebrate.

Who's in?