Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Municipal Madness

I dashed down to the new house (after stopping to pick up a friend) to paint the master bedroom and bathroom.  They didn't really need paint, but the color was just too close to the light blue I've been staring at on  the walls of my current bedroom for twelve years.  I'm sick of it, and it doesn't go with the bedding.  I decided on a nice, neutral  beige/tan color with which I'm quite happy, especially now that it's DONE. 

On the way to breakfast the next morning, I stopped at the Post Office to pick up the mail, among which was a letter from our homeowner's association. They were informing me that the Design Committee had provisionally approved my application to have a fence installed, so long as I  provided them with a copy of the permit. I was unaware that any sort of permit was needed for just a fence (and a partial one, at that), so I had to make some inquiries. Said inquiries led me to the local library (of which I am now a member), and then the Planning and Zoning office in the county administration building. The fence permit should have been a quick and dirty transaction, but as we're dealing with a government entity, it was just the opposite.

I discovered that not only had the previous owners of our house neglected to get permits for the shed and the deck on our property, as the new owner, I was somehow responsible for this--despite proof that these structures were on the property prior to purchase.   Three hours and eighty dollars later, I walked out of there with my permits and an application for a dog license.  I dropped the permits off to the HOA and began the long journey home.  As annoying as this experience was, I would actually be surprised if we didn't hit a bump in the road somewhere.  As bumps go,  this one isn't so bad. 

UPDATE:  This bump may turn out to be bigger than I thought.  As part of the permit for the deck, I had to call for an inspection appointment.  Apparently, our deck failed inspection because of a loose railing, steps that aren't perfectly level (which most likely settled over time), and the inspector's inability to see how the deck is attached to the house.  We now have to find out if we can just shrug this off, or whether we actually have to have the necessary repairs done and a re-inspection.  Our realtor, bless her heart, is trying to find out what  we need to do.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

Behind the Green Door

The closing for our new home was last Friday, and it went off with nary a hitch. We were thrilled to finally walk through the (green) door of our new home and start bringing some of our things in and begin taking inventory on the things we would need right away.  Meeting our new neighbors was a pleasure.  They seem to be very friendly and helpful--the gentleman next door even offered to mow our lawn for us until we move down.  We even had our first visitors.  Husband Fixture's coworkers came by to see the house, and it turns out they know the neighbors behind us (who also works at HF's new workplace).

We thoroughly enjoyed our first night in our new home, and fell in love with the house all over again.  I actually began to feel sad at the thought of returning to PA.  Thankfully, we only have about six weeks until it's our permanent home. 

In the meantime, we had a minor panic attack with our current home.  The realtor called to tell us the inspector couldn't get into our house.  Apparently, my mother-in-law left something in the house, and used the lock box to let herself in.  She couldn't figure out how to put the keys back, but instead of asking the kids for help or calling for us, she just took them with her.  Fortunately, the kids were careless and left one of the sliding glass doors on the deck unlocked, so the inspector was able to enter.

Another hitch in the giddy-up occurred on Tuesday afternoon.  I got an email from our realtor confirming an appointment for the appraisal Wednesday, about which I'd received no prior notice.  Of course, I was scheduled to work Wednesday, so we had to scramble to get the house ready..  Naturally, we still haven't heard squat about how the inspection or appraisal actually went.  I suppose if we have to have a sucky realtor, at least it's on the selling end of things. . . 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Tides Are Turning

Well, the house flipping folks never called us back, and our second opinion from the other realty company revealed that our house was still overpriced.  After calling our realtor to the carpet, he understood that we were willing to drop the price of the house to a sellable range.  Lo, and behold, we started getting showings.  We had THREE of them the weekend before last, and one last week that resulted in our first OFFER! 

The folks came in a bit lower than we'd like, but it appears they may have accepted our counter offer.  We'll know more tomorrow, as Husband Fixture took the weekend off of house planning activities to enjoy our anniversary weekend.   We went to a local couple's resort, where we me lots of nice people and enjoyed some desperately needed alone time. 

Unfortunately, we returned to find a sick Princess Gingersnap. I could tell from my mother-in-law's description of her symptoms and one look at her, that it was probably strep throat.  We took her immediately to one of the urgent care centers, and darned if I wasn't right.  While I was looking forward to getting back to work, a mom's work is never done.  I will likely be watching an all day Twilight marathon or some such thing, but I can always busy myself by making some homemade chicken noodle soup.  I can also pace the floor like crazy, waiting to sign a contract. 

UPDATE:  Houston, we have a CONTRACT!  The buyer accepted our counteroffer, and we will close on June 17.  You may now throw the confetti and pop the champagne corks.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Search is Over

Husband Fixture went down to Maryland for work, and since the kids were out of school Thursday and Friday, we took the opportunity to get some house hunting done.  I worked like a madwoman leading up the trip, trying to get the house ready for the Open House on Saturday.  I was all too happy to hit the highway Wednesday evening, and even happier to sleep in a bit before heading out to meet our realtor. 

First, we took the kids to see the house we'd made offers on (but were awaiting a final answer from the owners), and then we went to see six others.  I tried to keep an open mind, but nothing thrilled me-until we saw the last house.  It was gorgeous, and I kept waiting for something to be wrong with it because it was priced so low.  Even the kids were telling me we just had to buy the house (of course, that was after we discovered it was practically across the street from a Dunkin Donuts). 

We arranged to come back and see the house with Hubby as soon as he got out of work, as we knew it wouldn't be on the market for long.  Sure enough, it was under contract by Saturday--for us!  We have finally found our new home!  We are set to close on May 2nd, as the owners had to move quickly for a job, and are in a rush to sell.  That explains why the house was priced so low.     

Now we just have to sell our house . . . The Open House was a bust.  Only one person showed up, and afterward, our realtor told us the price is too high.  You'd think he'd have mentioned that before the Open House.  (Sigh)   We lowered the price, and have been in contact with a company that flips houses.  They're due to look at it this week, and if they can offer us what we need, it's theirs.  I know that would certainly take a load off my hubby's shoulders.  In the meantime, he's trying to get the ball rolling with the job so that he can finally get his official start date.  Since he has to depend on the same douchenozzles that sat on his paperwork and cost us the relocation assistance, I find that more stressful than trying to sell our house.  Hopefully, everything else will fall into place soon.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Brass Tacks

It seems Congress and the Senate have managed to pass a budget just in time for the DOD to hold off on sending out furlough notices.  They did, however, call a halt to overtime, so my hubby will actually be taking that extra day off he earns every other week.  He will also not be answering work calls when he's not 'on the clock,' which is just fine by me.  At any rate, we're still left waiting and wondering what's going to happen next.

After talking with some friends about our housing situation, we were advised to start pushing our realtor to get serious about selling our house, or find someone else.  We leaned on him, and we now have an Open House scheduled for next Saturday.  This, of course, has resulted in a flurry of activity to prepare for it.  We had to pick up my great grandmother's bed from the guy who was refinishing it, and get the mattresses and box spring from storage to set up in Gingersnap's room.  We figured that it would look nicer than the plain mattress on the floor.  (We removed her loft bed a few weeks ago, since she wasn't sleeping and used it as a hiding place for all manner of disgusting things.)

Of course, we've still plenty of cleaning to do, about which I am quite frazzled.   I won't have the full week to get everything done, as we will be in Maryland for the latter half of the week.  Husband Fixture has to travel there for work this week.  Since the kids are out of school Thursday and Friday, we are planning to drive down there to join him as soon as the kids are out of school.  We'll get a much needed change of scenery, and we'll have the opportunity to show the kids the house we're still trying purchase.  We will also be seeing some other homes. 

Going to showings with just the realtor and kids is another cause for anxiety.  The last time we took them with us, they tore through the houses, "claiming" bedrooms, and chattering nonstop about what they liked and didn't like.  Husband Fixture and I were so busy trying to rein them in that we didn't really get to focus on the things that were important to us.  We've devised a plan to keep that from happening this time.  They will be given jobs.  One kid will take photos, and the other will take notes (on what they like/dislike, and what I say).  They will switch off after each house, which will hopefully curtail the other inevitable issue.  And of course, they'll be warned that unfavorable behaviors will result in inhumane punishments (by their standards, anyway).

The weather dudes are calling for the white stuff tomorrow, which really wouldn't bother me for once.  It'll give me a chance to schlep Gingersnap's old bed to a friend who wants it for his kid, and to dump the boxes we broke down tonight (among a dozen or so other chores).  I just hope my honey has a safe trip down to Maryland.  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Kangaroo Court

I spent today doing my civic duty, serving on the jury for a theft case. Despite dreading the original call to serve (because I thought we'd be moving), it turned out to be an interesting and rewarding experience.  

The defendants were  an engaged couple accused of stealing various items from a home they were supposed to be leasing.   The property owner was useless as a witness, as he was an absentee landlord.  His property manager is a glorified cleaning lady who not only isn't certified to serve as a property manager (as required by PA law), she has a criminal record for theft.  She was also a lousy witness, as she didn't seem to remember a key piece of evidence.  The defendant claimed to have bought a tv, washer, and dryer from the owner via the property manager, but the receipt was handwritten by the defendant.  The property manager, upon closer inspection, said the signature on the receipt wasn't hers, but she couldn't remember having seen it before.

Another odd thing was the mysterious missing refrigerator.  It was supposedly in the shed, though there was never any proof that it existed. However, one of the witnesses, a neighbor, claimed to have seen the male defendant loading something that appeared to be a refrigerator in the back of his truck. There were several other items that were never proven to have been on the property, nor was any property ever proven to be in anyone else's possession.

One of the most entertaining aspects of the case was when the female witness testified.  She got rather irritated by the prosecution's cross examination.  When he kept harping on the point about the receipt not appearing legitimate, she took control of the discussion, insisting on giving an explanation when only a yes or no answer was required.  The prosecutor was clearly intimidated, and I kept waiting for the judge to intercede or her lawyer to object to her being "badgered."  As it were, the prosecutor got agitated enough to infer that her mother should testify regarding her honesty, and was shut down by the judge.

The closing statement by the female defendant was amusing, as he compared aspects of this trial to the one in My Cousin Vinny.  I had already drawn the parallels myself, and it was good to be allowed to react to what was said.  It also meant we were closer to finally deliberating. 

Deliberations were brief, as we all readily agreed that the prosecution failed to prove the state's case.  We were all frustrated by this, as we felt that the defendants were definitely guilty of something, as was the property manager (though she wasn't on trial).  I appreciated that the judge took the time to stop in and see us after the verdict was rendered.  She seemed to share our frustration. 
I wonder how long it will be before I get summoned again . . . 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Maternal Musings

Today would have been my mom's 54th birthday.  She's been gone almost a year now, so I didn't think it would hit me this hard.  We had to miss her actual birthday last year, as the Prince's band concert fell on that day.  Instead we visited her a few days before and the day after in the specialized nursing facility (for ventilator patients) that had been her home for three years.  Even though it involved a two-hour drive on a weeknight, I hated that she had to spend her birthday alone.  She didn't get many visitors.   Most of her friends lived two far away to make the trip, and our family is small. 

We brought her cupcakes from a local bakery, and a Duke basketball poster (her favorite team). We showed her photos and videos of the Prince's concert.  She smiled and talked with us (she had to use a special speaking valve to do so), but it was bittersweet.  We all knew her kidneys were beginning to fail, and that this would likely be her last birthday.  We just didn't know that it would be the last time we saw her awake.      

I confess that my mom and I were never very close.  I was a Daddy's Girl until my sister was born (when  I was 5), to whom she related better.  And I was always independent, as was necessary for a girl who lived out in the sticks, had few friends, and a sister who was terminally ill.  My sister, by the way, is despite all odds, 34 now. She's taking graduate school courses, and living in the Southwest. 

At any rate, because my sister lived too far away, caring for our mom fell to me, including the making of life or death decisions.  This was not only difficult emotionally, it was a challenge in general, because my mother stubbornly refused to accept her own mortality.  Ironically, this stubbornness kept her alive for her last three years.  But at some point, her spirit gave way to her failing body. 

She died less than a week after her birthday.  I sat in the ICU for 14 hours, holding her hand and talking to her.  She was heavily sedated, and I don't know whether she heard anything I said.  I am inclined to think she heard some of it, because it seemed she breathed a sigh of relief when we gave consent to turn off the ventilator and told her it was okay to let go.  I will always miss her, though the relief of her being pain free and no longer confined to a bed comforts me.   Happy Birthday, Mom.