Monday, June 30, 2008

Photos of the new place

Hi home, I'm honey!
Originally uploaded by JugglingScarves
Just posted a few photos of the new place onto Flick'r. Most of the rooms still look a bit disordered and I really didn't want to record that so...there are some shots of the cat, of the kitchen, of the exterior and of the plant life in my garden. There's one that I haven't posted yet. It's of the ceiling in the craft room--I wanted to get a day shot and a night shot, but I keep forgetting to go in there after dark. As soon as I remember to do that, I'll post those two pictures.

Friday, June 27, 2008

From under a pile of boxes...

...I send you greetings. Am currently digging out from moving in. Will be back posting when I can find the living room again.

Let me give you the edited highlights, though:
  • There was a brief last-minute to-do about the truck we'd rented. My sister was supposed to pick it up at an office near them, but the place had no reservation listed. I had to sort it out long distance over my cell phone, but it turns out whoever I'd talked to on Thursday had reserved the truck for the wrong location. Fifteen minutes later (through the magic of computers), the reservation was in the right place and she could drive away with the truck.
  • My family was amazed at the amount of stuff I'd managed to cram into that tiny apartment. At one point Stretch asked me: "Do you have a door into some other apartment that you're taking stuff from?" Come on, gang, I'd been in there a decade and a half, and I have pack rat tendencies. What did you expect? And why did you think I've been packing for two months?
  • I need to get the townhouse reinspected now that the work required by the lenders is done. Before I call my realtor and say it's okay to call the inspector, I need to clear a path to the breaker box, which is surrounded by very heavy boxes of books. Guess what I'm doing Saturday?
  • The hollyhocks by the front door are starting to bloom. The tall one is hot pink, and the one next to it is a deeper pink, somewhere in the magenta range. Must take a picture and post it.
  • My third day in the new place I got my first door-to-door evangelist. Thought he'd be sneaky about his pitch and start by talking about Noah. Noah? Trying to tie in with the Mississippi floods? I didn't wait to find out. I'd answered the door covered in lilac and green splotches and brandishing a paint brush. Told him I was in the middle of something and then politely but firmly refused his offer to come back and talk to me later.
That's about it for now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hey gang, I'm a mortgagor!

This is the first moment I've had where I could fire up the ol' laptop without feeling guilty because I should be doing something else. So here's how it all went down:

Friday: Up at the crack of dawn. Examining, pitching, packing things until about nine, when I figured I should probably get myself ready. J. arrived at ten and took me to my soon-to-be townhouse. She said when she brought the electrician over there Wednesday the sellers still hadn't packed, and Mrs. Seller said she was taking the day off of work the next day to do it. As we pull in, we see a U-Haul parked out front. They're still moving things out and cleaning. Turns out the sellers left the day before, they're returning home to Turkey (I thought so! I'd said as much to J. at one point), and have given/sold the contents of their house to some other Turkish folks still living here. Friends of theirs, I think. We look around, everything is fine. One of the two men clearing out hands me the keys to the front door and to the mailbox. J. drives me off to the bank for settlement.

At settlement is the nice lady from the bank who got me the PHFA and county loans, the realtor for the sellers, a representative from a settlement agency, my realtor, and me (of course). The woman from the bank hands me a sheaf of papers. These are all my copies of the documents I'm about to sign. And away we go. She hands me a paper, explains what it means, I sign it. She takes that one away, hands me another one, explains it, I sign it. And so on until she runs out of papers. Then she switches chairs with the settlement agent and we start again. We go through the statement that says what I owe. I hand over a cashier's check for that. She hands me two checks: one from the county and one from the bank. I endorse them and hand them back to her, stopping to remark that quite a lot of money just passed through my hands. After the last piece of paper is signed and notarized, she folds her hands over the whole sheaf of them, smiles, and says,

"Congratulations, you are now in debt."

"Oh, I've been here before."

"Well, welcome back!"

We all shake hands, and J. drives me off to the Wal-Mart so that I can make copies of the keys. She gives me a hug and a present, a binder with all sorts of tags and labels in it, all set up and ready to be filled-- a sort of home documents organizer.

I call first my Mom and then my sister to let 'em know I'm now a homeowner. After I get keys made, have a celebratory lunch in the Eat 'n' Park, and buy a bottle of sparkling white wine for later on that night (Asti Spumante), I head on back to my apartment for more packing. At about three I call a taxi, and drag myself, a suitcase, a duffel bag, and a canvas shopping bag full of stuff over to my townhouse. From there I do laundry, and while I'm waiting for it to finish I sit on the steps and stare at my living room through the bars of the banister. I did take a few pictures, and just as soon as I figure out what I did with my memory card-to-USB converter, I'll post them to Flick'r. Mom and Dad had said they'd be here by 7, Ditter and Stretch thought they'd be here by 8. At 7, Mom calls to say that they're just leaving now--there was a terrific thunderstorm that they didn't feel comfortable driving in, and it just let up.

When Ditter and Stretch show up, I show them around the place. We take a look at my little front garden patch. There's an almost dead rosebush that she thinks she can show me how to bring back. There's also a huge hollyhock by the front door that Stretch thought was a weed. There's also all sorts of weeds and unidentified vegetation in there, and a small tree in need of pruning. I have no idea how to do that.

Ditter takes me shopping for all sorts of stuff I need and didn't think about--also, we're going to swing by the apartment and pick up the cat. While we're in the store (we were there a very long time. It was 10:30 when we hit the check-out line) Mom calls to say they hit fog so they had to go around "the long way," and they'll be another 45 minutes or so. After picking up the cat (and my sleeping bag, and a couple other things) we head on back to the house to find that my brother-in-law has weeded the patch, fixed a window screen that needed attention, and done a couple more minor fixes. He joked that if I'd already bought the paint, he'd have started one of the rooms already.

I let the cat out of her carrier and watch her slink around the place, investigating everything. She stays close to the wall--it must feel safer that way. We just get dinner started (at 11 at night!) when my parents pull in.

Upon crossing the threshold, Mom and Dad give me a golden dollar coin, two loaves of bread, and bottles of soda--some sort of tradition called a "first-footer," though it's usually a New Year's Day tradition. A dark-haired man is supposed to enter your house and give you money, drink, and bread.

Dinner is ready-made pizza bought in a grocery store and baked in 12 minutes and a glass of Asti Spumante to toast the new house. We finally go to bed around 12:30.

Saturday: I take my painting crew out for breakfast, then we buy paint and all sorts of other stuff: a flashlight, new doorknobs and deadbolts, all kinds of things I can't remember now. The previous evening, Ditter had whipped out a steno pad and a pen and wrote down everything I said in passing that sounded like something I needed. It reminded me of when she got married and I was her maid of honor--I had done something similar. Then we take it all home and paint. And paint, and paint, and paint. Then, just for grins, we paint a little. The tangerine dream master bedroom is hit with a coat of primer, and while that dries we paint the future guest bedroom "Violet Devotion" (lilac). Then some of us paint the master bedroom "Summer Ivy" (medium dark green), while others start to tape the living room. And by the way, it's humid and stinkin' hot, so we're all doing this and dripping with sweat. The new place has no air conditioning. The cat spends most of the day lying in the bathtub. Poor kitty is very hot. Her coat is too heavy for this heat.

Sunday: Ditter has an open house to run back in Lancaster, so she and Stretch leave around 8. Mom, Dad, and I paint the living room "Honey"--it's supposed to be a gold color but is a little more yellow on the wall than it was on the card or on the sample daub the mixer put on the lids when he was done. Maybe it's because it's going on top of a pale mint green, no primer in between. Doesn't really matter. I like this color too. Then we go back upstairs and do touch-ups of the lilac room and the green room. My parents leave around three.

Most of the rest of the week has been spent either clearing out and packing up the old place, waiting for one technician or another at the new place (cable guy yesterday, electrician today), or touching up the paint. I keep finding spots that need more paint. The green room is especially tricky. We were having trouble seeing what we were doing--there was a glare from outside that interfered with how well we could see the walls. I've had to wait until the sun goes down, turn on the overhead light, and dab, dab, dab away at the walls. I was doing that last night until 11. Did something similar today with the lilac room. I dragged a lamp in there 'cause there's a bit that anyone painting would have trouble with--to paint, you have to stand between the wall and the window, effectively obscuring your only source of light. There's no overhead light in there. I should go check it now that it's getting dark out and I'm not getting interference from the sun. Haven't even gotten to the living room yet. Need to do the same paint-at-night routine in there as well.

Couple of little irritants: the guys who bought/were given "everything" were extremely literal. They took every single curtain rod, and I think they took the toilet paper dispenser in the bathroom. Also, I found that I have only one working light bulb in each light fixture. If there are sockets for more than one, they're filled with burnt-out bulbs. Nice, huh? I don't care that much about the bulbs, I'm changing them all over to those fluorescent ones that use less energy. But the curtain rod thing irritates. Those are fixtures, they were supposed to stay. So when I painted my bedroom last night I got to do it in full view of anyone who happened to glance out the window. Everyone knows the master bedroom of #10 is green.

Ah well. Back to work, now that it's dark. Time to show folks what color the living room is.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I just went to my bank and got a cashier's check for the amount I need for settlement tomorrow.

My realtor is picking me up at ten for a final walk-through of the property. This is to make sure it looks the way I expect it to--no damage since I last saw it, nothing removed that is supposed to be there, that rickety island in the kitchen gone. We had a brief to-do over the breaker box. The agreed-to repair of the test breaker never got done. Never a dull moment. J. had an electrician look at the box, and he said that the part he'd need is no longer made. The current breaker box is an old technology that still works but is no longer standard. The part would cost about $300, and that's only if someone somewhere had one in stock. Instead, he's putting in the new kind of breakers, and he's also going to change the outlets (boxes?) by the kitchen sink and in the bathrooms. He gave J. an estimate, and the sellers will be putting that estimated price into an escrow account to use for the repairs.

After I look around and agree that yes, this is what I am planning to buy we head off to the bank for settlement, which is set for 11 a.m. I'd say that by noon or 12:30 I will have signed my life away and been given a set of keys. At this point I'm going to want to sprint out of there before someone reconsiders and tries to take 'em back.

Cat will be transplanted by around three-thirty, four o'clock. Family should arrive between 7 and 8:30. I have no idea when I'm going to be online again. Sometime Tuesday the cable guy will be coming to set up my new cable/digital phone/high-speed internet service. Yay! Finally switching from dial-up to broadband! I'm guessing that the next post will be shortly after he leaves.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Time out for a post

This whole packing things reminds me a little bit of the frenzy I whipped myself into when my apartment got inspected a couple of years ago. Especially the bit about the socks. Crikey, do I have socks. What do I think I am, a centipede? Who needs that many socks?

I'm finding other people's stuff in here as well. A dinner plate of the Chief Loon's (I think). After one of our game nights, she handed me a whole plate of teeny tiny cupcakes. Looks like I never gave the plate back. I also found some books people loaned me eons ago. One of 'em I thought I'd lost, seriously, irretrievably lost, and bought a replacement copy to give back to the lender. Found the replacement copy, too. Sent the better-looking of the two back to the lender via one of her cousins, with whom I work. Found Christmas presents I thought I mailed. Uh-oh. Found about a dollar and a half in pennies--not all at the same time, mind you. More like, "hey look, another penny!" Found so many knitting needles and crochet hooks of varying sizes that they have their own packing box now. I think I'm going to have to do that with scissors, too. And a small one for pens. If I had the time, I'd check each pen to see if it works first. But I don't have time. I'll do that when I unpack. Sure I will.

And Holy Mani/Pedi, Batman! I have tons of nail polish. Most of it was given to me as gifts--stocking stuffers, Easter basket filler. I think I probably bought the bottle of clear nail polish myself, and that was probably to do with a beading project where I was trying to secure a knot.

Lilah has tired of climbing on all the boxes after I close them up. Good. I was worried she'd knock something over. I've taken down the posters and framed pictures. I'm saving the framed embroidery for last. I am ruthlessly ditching stuff that I haven't used and/or don't really like and/or is getting a bit shabby. There's a sort of unwritten protocol to throwing things out in apartment complexes: anything that is probably still usable (in your opinion) you put next to the dumpster for someone to salvage who thinks he can use it. Yesterday morning I put out a framed picture of a black-and-white print that someone gave me a decade ago when they were clearing out, and when I came out again half an hour later with a bag of true trash, someone had already adopted it, and put a beat-up old computer monitor in its place. Came out half an hour after that, and the monitor was gone, too.

That reminds me of a story an ex-coworker told me about clearing out her apartment when she and her life-partner moved here from Alabama. They had a bunch of bookcases that they didn't want to take with them and that were too good to just throw out. So they put them by the dumpster at their apartment complex. After they put the first one out and walked back, they saw a young couple go over and take it to their place. Same couple took the second. And the third. Dee finally walked over to their apartment and offered to bring the two remaining bookcases right to them saving them both time and energy. They accepted, and came back to Dee's to carry one while she and Em brought the other one. She said the look on the guy's face was priceless when he opened the door to find her standing there. Surprised and guilty, like he thought she was going to yell at him for trash-picking.

Well, that's enough of a break. Time to go put some more of my apartment into small boxes.

Friday, June 06, 2008

T-minus one week and counting...

This time next week I will probably be sitting, shocked and amazed, in the middle of the floor in my new living room.

Either that or I'll be furiously folding laundry, as I just this moment realized I need to buy queen-sized sheets for the air mattress I just bought, and that sounds like as good as anything for an inaugural load in the new-to-me washer and dryer. That I won't need to go on a cross-country trek to use.

I probably need pillows, too. And new towels. Well, I don't need new towels, but I'd like to have at least the first few I put out in the new bathroom match both the room and each other.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Pondering change

Been saying this phrase a lot lately: I'm not going to miss that.

I've been saying this one, too: I am going to miss that, though.

For example:

At the bus stop: I'm going to miss that youngster I've been watching grow up. He's shy and bookish, and right now he's in that awkward, geeky phase boys go through right before they turn into either Adonis or one of the Goth teens--all piercings, black clothes, and eye makeup. Can't tell which way this one's going to go, and I wonder what he'll look like when (if) I see him again.

I am most decidedly not going to miss the creepy guy I call Twitch (only in my head. I'd never call him that to his face. I try not to address him at all, actually). I don't know whether he's OCD or something more serious. He never stands still at the bus stop, does the same series of moves and gestures over and over. He carries on muttered conversations with himself, and (here's the creepy part) pays way too much attention to me. Looks at me a little too long and hard when I walk up to the bus stop. Listens too closely to conversations I'm having. When I stand there reading a book, I can see him out of the corner of my eye cocking his head sideways to read the spine. The few times I've gotten on the bus ahead of him (instead of staying behind him so I can see him), I have to make sure I sit somewhere there isn't room for him to sit beside me. 'Cause given the opportunity, that's what he does--too close, of course. Bye, Twitch. Won't be seein' ya.

Laundry: I'm not going to miss dragging my dirty clothes across the complex to wash them. But I will miss random conversations had while waiting for a dryer to become available.

Utilities: I will miss having my utilities included in my rent. I won't miss sharing a water heater with three other apartments, however. Nor will I miss substandard electrical wiring. The lights dim for a fraction of a second when I turn on the power strip that I use for my computer equipment.

Neighbors: I have a nice upstairs neighbor. Friendly, polite, considerate, quiet. Gonna miss her. I won't miss hearing her every footstep, though.

Animals: I know more of my neighbors' dogs by name than I do the people who own them. Peanut, the cocker spaniel on the other side of the building. Pebbles, the tiny Yorkie next building over. Tucker, who I first met as an 8-week old puppy, now grey around the muzzle and getting decidedly fat. The beagle next door, however, I will feel no nostalgia for. He bays incessantly when his owner's away too long. (Bowwww! Bowwww! Bowwww! All. Night. Long.) I won't miss that.

The joys of renting: I will not miss this cramped little apartment, with its one window, no airflow, no sunlight (unless it bounces in off the snowy hillside at wintertime), tiny kitchen, and weird electrical set up -- the light switch for the kitchen is in the bedroom. Huh? Nor will I miss the maintenance folks who wander in whenever they feel like it, maybe giving you a day's notice if you're lucky. (Note to self. Stash an extra key in desk at work, to guard against locking self out of nice new home that no one else can get into without permission). One thing I will say for my little mouse-hole: it has a nice built-in bookcase that I'm definitely going to have trouble replacing. Just Cabinets, here I come again!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Good news and idiot moves

The mortgage originator at the bank I'm using just called to tell me my loan's been approved. Huzzah!

Good thing, too, considering all the packing and planning I'm doing. Not to mention the lease I broke and the insurance I bought. And the table I bought, too. Where the heck would that go otherwise, huh?

I injured myself slightly on Saturday by being stupid. I went to Dick's (a sporting goods chain in the U.S.) to buy an air mattress so my parents have somewhere to sleep when they come help me paint/move in. The box was rather small, and I wasn't expecting it to be quite as heavy as it was. The first attempt at lifting it is what hurt me, though I didn't feel it right away. The next day, my back and my front hurt in about the same place, and anytime I leaned down and to the left my body informed me quite loudly that I should not do that. It still hurts, but not nearly as much. Bending forward is fun, too. 'Cause, well, gravity drags on the ol' shippetaries (as my grandmom used to call her, um, front), and my back shouts, "Hey! What are you doing?"

So basically, if I drop anything right now it has to stay on the floor unless I can pick it up with my toes. Either that or I drop to the ground, crawl over to it, and hold it in my teeth while I climb, crab-like from the right side, back to a standing or sitting position.

The packing routine has altered a little bit because of this. Instead of building the box, packing it, closing it, and stacking it I now build the box, stack it, fill it, and close it. That'll work. Getting things in low places is a bit tricky. I guess they'll have to wait.