Friday, October 31, 2003
True Ghost Stories for Halloween!!
The first story is about an incident that has happened recently regarding the old farmhouse we've bought. I have always, always been attracted to this house, and in fact, twenty years ago we almost bought it and 20 acres. At the time though, we'd only been living in town a couple years, and decided against it. Additionally, the house needed even more extensive renovation then than it does now; the new owner did a lot of that, including tearing down and rebuilding the rock chimney.
At any rate, over the years DH and I would pass by the place occasionally, and both of us would say we probably should have bought the house long ago. After we DID buy the house, I began taking photos soon; one of them turned out to be very spooky looking.
The photo was made of Igor, the miniature donkey, but if you look just above his head, you'll see a red spot shaped like a bat! No kidding. I enlarged that spot, which then seemed to resemble a man's facial features. I don't know what to make of it, but it's possible the digital camera created this distortion -- or not.
You can take a look for yourself at the photo HERE
Do you think this is Sir Dracula, planning a future visit with me? :-) If nothing else, it inspired a good story idea -- which I haven't developed or written yet.
Last night I stayed up an extra hour watching a feature on the Travel Channel about Loretta Lynn's haunted house. It was fascinating, to say the least. You can read about her home and psychic/ghost experiences by clicking on this link:
THE HAUNTING OF HURRICANE MILLS
And lastly, I once also had a very uncanny experience in a graveyard.
DH was researching his genealogy, so we took a trip to South Alabama to visit an old graveyard where one of his great-great-great grandfathers was buried. The newer part of the cemetery was modern, but then way back in some woods we saw the ancient headstones. We had to fight overgrown weeds to get there, but once we did, DH read off the names of his distant relatives.
I took some pictures, and you can see one HERE. The cemetery is in Forkland, Alabama...
Anyway, as I stood there on that hot, still summer day I suddenly heard the distinct sound of horses hooves ... clop, clop, clop... It sounded a bit distant, but definitely horses hooves. I asked DH if he heard it, but he said no.
Occasionally as we walked through the older part of the cemetery, I would hear the horses hooves ... clop, clop, clop...and then the stillness and utter quiet would return.
It gave me chills, so I hurried away back to the newer part of the cemetery...but DH never did hear the mysterious sound. The older part of the cemetery is located in an isolated spot too, with woods all around...it couldn't have been REAL horse sounds. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
---Now to my day: I spent a busy day grocery shopping, running errands and then getting the housework done.
My acid reflux is acting up again, so I bought some Prilosec OTC, and hope that nips it in the bud. I sure don't want a trip to the doctor OR hospital, like I had one time before when this got out of hand. The main problem I have is that my stomach has spasms when I swallow food, and it feels like something is pushing up into the bottom of my esophagus...and it hurts like hell. I tend to avoid eating, though I don't necessarily consider that bad, but I DO NOT like to hurt! I've actually gained up to 95 lbs, but if this problem persists, I'll be back to 90 in no time.
Happy Halloween, kids!
Thursday, October 30, 2003
After our evening meal, DH and I took the loveseat to the old house. It was terribly heavy, but he used hand-trucks to maneuver it into the house. Then we opened it up, let the bed/mattress air out till we go back there this weekend. The mattress is in excellent shape, and I doubt it was ever even slept on. Nice size bed too, which we may need if we don't have an extra bedroom (and that's still being debated).
The central air/heat crew did some measuring, but it looks like that won't begin till next week at the earliest. That's okay though, since the natural gas line still hasn't been put in -- but hopefully will be next week.
Today I went on my bike ride early, which was pleasant in this PERFECT weather, around 75 and sunny. Then after some household chores, I went to the library...something I don't often do these days. The internet has made it SO easy to find information, I don't use the library like I once did. I found some fiction, and hope it is worth reading (so much isn't these days). And I found three books on "shabby chic-country" interior decorating. Plus, a very good guide book on making simple slipcovers for furniture. DH might be better at doing the slipcover work, once the material is measured/cut, than I am. I recently bought a hot glue-gun though, and hope to use it in this project. At any rate, I'll have plenty to peruse at night while lousy TV programs are on; I rarely watch much TV anymore.
Last night while at the old house, we had all the lights on...making sure everything worked after the electrician's job...and I noticed something streaked on a front room window. Now, I'd just cleaned those last week and KNEW I'd done a better job than that. We looked at it closely, and it turns out to be something sticky, icky running down the windowpane. Once outside, we also notice that there's another splotch of the stuff on the aluminum siding on the porch. Evidently, some kids had thrown something sticky there, splattered it...and boy, did that make DH mad.
I'd been a bit worried that the house being empty would attract mischief, and I sure hope this isn't the beginning of trouble. I cleaned up the mess, which was still very damp; obviously it hadn't been done too long. At any rate, this doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the community -- although, of course, this is "Halloween Week"...and possibly this was just the work of pranksters, an anomaly due to Halloween coming up tomorrow night. I'm trying to look on the positive side of this -- although having lived in town for over 20 years, there's NEVER been such an incident at this house.
Here's a little weird news event to put a smile on your face:
Plastic Gun Blamed in Capitol Shutdown
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House of Representatives was ordered shut down Thursday following reports of a security breach at a congressional office building nearby, but police swiftly determined that a Halloween costume and plastic revolver were to blame.
Capitol police also said they had apprehended a suspect, according to an aide who said he heard the information via a pager system operated by security officials.
Guess Halloween came a little early at Capitol Hill, huh? :-)
Till next time....
Tuesday, October 28, 2003
I also took some pictures of the house across the road, and looking down the highway to the left and right, so you can see we're basically "country" but still close to city conveniences like shopping at a mini-mall that is just out of sight. No interior pictures yet, but I do have a couple of the artifacts, which will be in a separate folder.
Today I slept late, since I stayed up watching a good movie, "The Right Temptation" last night which I'd recorded. Fairly good, enough so that I actually watched the whole movie. I didn't go on the bike ride early, but did later this afternoon when I got back from shopping. I hit the Salvation Army store, and FINALLY found what I've been looking for there: a used loveseat! It's perfect for the old house living room, and once the fabric is cleaned and I buy some slipcovers for it, the loveseat will be ideal in the living room! I still have to buy a comfy armchair, but this is a good start on furnishing the living room. And I only gave $40.00 for this sofa, which also makes into a bed -- and we'll need it, since we are not going to have an extra bedroom. I found curtains for two rooms, as well as some floral fabric I can use for making slipcovers, or other 'country-look' decor. All-in-all, a cheap but productive shopping trip! (Oh yeah, and money to the Salvation Army, which is a charitable organization too!)
All the electrical work is done, and it cost about $200.00 less than the original estimate. I even had a special heavy-duty plug-in created for my computer in what I'll use as my computer room/study. Hopefully the central heat/air crew will get started on their work tomorrow. Who knows, this all might go faster than we expected.
I have recently found a few new postal pen pals and enjoy them, but it is difficult to make time to write letters. One is a physics/chemistry professor in England, and a fascinating individual; quite an intriquing correspondence too. Remember, if you want my snail mail address, just drop me an email and request it.
Enough for today. I need to finish the online album, and then get to work on other projects.
Sunday, October 26, 2003
Yesterday I spent most of the day sanding woodwork in the old house. I completed the den/dining room, one small bedroom and the hallway. That is quite a task, and the Palm sander I bought really does a good job; I'm not sanding down to the wood, only roughing up the surface so I can paint over the past oil-based white paint. The sander removes imperfections, and takes off enough paint that a new coat should adhere well. I'll try to finish the remainder of the rooms next Saturday -- but the kitchen will have to wait, because I will have to remove all the cabinet doors, etc. to do that right. If nothing else, that kind of hard labor is very good exercise -- the vibration from that sander is like using one of those vibrating exercise machines...except you are actually accomplishing something!
I also cleaned the bathroom/kitchen, making sure I removed all perishables from the fridge and cabinets. DH is there this morning, talking with the electrician, since we decided to add a couple of electrical outlets. He'll be back shortly though.
DH also put a new roof on the smaller building/stable out in the pasture, so now both barns can be used for the horses and hay. Hopefully next spring he'll be able to build a larger barn further away from the house, and use these as storage and/or saddles, tack shops only, not for horses.
The horses are in hog heaven! The grass in this pasture is thick, stays green all year, and they are eating like pigs...hardly lift their heads up if you call them! So at least they are happy.
Next week I have to do some serious research and planning for renting one or the other of our houses. I did some research a few months ago, and have collected a good bit of information, but need to do more. I remember the best advice given by landlords: Treat your rental property just like a business. That means drawing up a lease, getting and verifying references from potential renters, and securing a good-size deposit to do any repairs after the renters move. I am never going to have to paint/clean after renters; instead, if the place isn't in excellent shape when they leave, I'll take the deposit and HIRE someone to paint and/or clean before the next renters. Additionally, a lease will prevent people moving in and out constantly; I think at least a 6 month lease would be my first choice. At any rate, I have to do some legal research, prepare some forms, etc. so I'll be ready when the time comes to rent out one of the houses.
Also, I have some new photos of the work-in-progress on the old house, and will try to post those at a new photo album site the first part of next week. I will have time then to find another website with more storage for photos. We have found several old, old artifacts from previous owners -- in the cellar we found an old glass bottle, very thick, with the words: "Herbal juice" on it; a small ceramic cat; and near the creek, a glass part from an old transformer. I plan to photograph all these, post online, and eventually, display them in the house on the fireplace mantle.
Gotta go for now!
Friday, October 24, 2003
The electrician is coming Sunday, and will install a new meter as well as check ALL the wiring and outlets. The house had an outdated electrical meter, plus needed some wiring on the outside of the house to be put into the walls.
Next Wednesday the central heat/air will be installed -- which will probably take at least three or four days. Additionally, we're having a line run from the nearest natural gas line to the house -- the line is alongside the road. For that, we'll get a FREE natural gas water heater, which will be installed in the cellar, along with the natural gas heating unit. The house has propane gas (two wall heaters) but that stuff is not as clean as natural gas; there was a yellowish tint to the walls, though that is partly due to the older propane heaters used. At any rate, we like natural gas (which we have in the city) and since it's available, we'll get it set up for the house.
I've spent some time doing various neglected stuff here at the house in town -- I had some painting touch-ups, sanded down a door and repainted it, cleaned out a couple closets, etc. There's not much else I can do at the old house till the other major stuff is finished. Then I will help sand down the floorboards and doors, and help paint.
We have decided to install new windows, but the ones we've chosen will look very similar to the older ones. We'll do that one-at-a-time, and DH will do most of the work. He changed ours here in this older house, but thank goodness we won't be living in the old house till that is finished. It is a huge mess! At any rate, we've also decided to cover up a couple doors, change the front door to what is now a front bedroom, and make it a living room. The fireplace is in that room, and it would be much better to have it as a living room, not a bedroom. We're also going to create a HUGE closet in what will be our master bedroom, and that will help a lot.
At first we didn't plan on doing this sort of remodeling, but the more we looked at the house, the more ideas we came up with. And doing all this before we move there will make it so much easier on us. Probably we won't be able to actually move there till possibly next spring, although we might make faster progress than we think. In the meantime though, we are going to sand/paint and clear a small bedroom where we'll put a bed, so we can spend the night sometimes on weekends. That will give me an idea of how I'll like living there -- or not.
I have my good days and bad days. Sometimes when I'm there, I think if I had all my belongings, and my cats, I'd LOVE living there. Other times when I'm here in town, I don't know if I can ever move away since we've lived here so very long. Making a gradual transition will be best, I think. We are planning on renting this house in town, and that will make it easier, since we won't actually be losing this house. It's just difficult to move away from a place you've lived so long...but I am going to try this, because, as I've written before, there's problems with this neighborhood (illegal Mexicans), and DH wants to be able to have the horses nearby.
And speaking of illegal immigrants, I read about the Wal-Mart crackdown. I wish the INS would get off their butts, and start cracking down on ALL illegals. There SHOULD be enforcement, because IF we don't make it difficult on the illegals, why would ANY immigrant bother to take the RIGHT, LEGAL way to citizenship? Here's an excerpt:
Sources: Wal-Mart Knew of Illegal Workers
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Evidence including recordings indicates that Wal-Mart had direct knowledge of immigration violations involving its cleaning contractors at stores across the country, federal law enforcement sources said.
Federal agents raided Wal-Mart's headquarters and 60 of its stores across the nation Thursday, arresting more than 300 illegal workers in an immigration crackdown at the world's biggest retailer.
The workers were arrested as they finished their night shifts at Wal-Mart stores in 21 states. Agents also hauled away several boxes of documents from an executive's office at Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville.
An employer can face civil and criminal penalties for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants or failing to comply with certain employee recordkeeping regulations.
If that last statement is correct, then why the heck isn't more being done to STOP the companies using such illegal immigrants? Oh...wait...I think I know: cheap labor.
Today DH is going to level the cellar floor, take out some of the dirt and fill in some holes in the yard. The workers will pour a cement floor for the gas hot water heater, and central heating unit on the cellar floor later.
Our weather has been absolutely gorgeous. Couldn't have asked for any better. I've been on my bike ride every morning, except today since I have to go grocery shopping and need to get started soon. I'm still at 93 lbs, so I can't complain since I've been eating more than usual. Next week the weather will turn cooler, down into the 30s at night...with rain most of the week. We actually had good timing on DH's vacation this week. He does have another week, which he'll probably take around Thanksgiving, so we can do more work on the old house.
And so it goes...till next time.
Monday, October 20, 2003
Yesterday afternoon I finally, finally, FINALLY finished all the cleaning in the kitchen/bath, and we can use those rooms now while we're there. Everytime I thought I had something cleaned, I'd have to go over it again -- I've never seen such neglect and lack of basic sanitary upkeep in a house! The remainder of the rooms will be done one at a time, and as we prepare for sanding/painting them. We removed one of the storm windows off the kitchen, cleaned it and improved that a lot. Possibly we will not install new windows, just take off the storm windows and redo the older wood windows. If we want the house to retain its basic style, refurbishing the current windows might be best, though we may purchase new outer storm windows. Haven't decided yet.
DH moved his horses on Saturday morning, and they settled in over the weekend. At first they stood in the pasture nearest the paved highway, seemingly just "watching" the traffic, since the previous pasture had no road exposure. But by yesterday afternoon the five he has (two are small colts) seem to have adapted to the change. DH also moved a lot of lumber, tin, etc. and has already gone there this morning to start putting a new roof on the older barn. I'll go in a short while, though mostly now I'll be working on washing the storm windows and perhaps start sanding woodwork inside the house.
I'm over most of my soreness, and that's good news. Whew, I haven't worked this hard consistently in ages, and it sure has been rough. But it'll all be worth it when the house is ready to move into.
Late yesterday afternoon one of DH's horse buddies and his wife dropped by, and we visited with them for awhile. So we've already had company, and aren't even living there yet.
As we were getting ready to leave yesterday afternoon, I felt more comfortable with the idea of living there eventually. I already love the house, and it will be so much better to have the horses where DH can just walk out the back door and take care of them. Of course, when I have my cats there, and all my own belongings, it'll seem more like "home."
Everyone who sees this place just loves it; they all say the same thing: "It looks and feels like home." I'm sure that is because the house style, and the setting, was very prevalent back in the early 1900s, and most people either had a mother or grandmother who lived in a similar house. However, there are very, very few such houses/homeplaces remaining, and that is one reason I am SURE the value of this place (once refurbished) will continue to increase as time passes.
Enough for today. I have housework to do here, then it's off to the other house to work... Why do I get the feeling two houses are TWICE the trouble/work? :-)
Saturday, October 18, 2003
Today I'm planning to head to the "farm" in about an hour. DH is moving his horses there this morning, and should have that all done by noon. It will be so much easier on him/us to take care of them there, and keep an eye on the house/property instead of having to drive the five miles out to where he's been keeping the horses every day.
I need to finish up some cleaning, unpack and put away all the stuff I'm taking (mostly kitchen/bathroom items) so I'll be busy inside the house while DH and my nephew will be working outside. My nephew has turned into quite the horse enthusiast, and has been out to the other place with DH almost every weekend. They ride horses together, etc., and he'll be a big help now at the new place.
Not much else to record today. I did go ride the bike very early, since I got up before 8:00. Nice, crisp air...and sunny day, perfect for biking.
And now I'm off to be a "farmer in the dell"... :-) (Tongue firmly in cheek!)
Thursday, October 16, 2003
I didn't go on the bike ride yesterday morning, because my sister called and we talked for over an hour. Then I had to run errands in town, as well as do a bit of shopping for necessities at the old house. I bought a dishpan, a dish drainer (to use in the sink till we can get a dishwasher installed), some extra paper towels, bath tissue, more drop cloth to cover the carpet, dish liquid, etc. When I got home, I also packed up a bunch of extra stuff I don't use here, like silverware, knives, bowls, plates, glasses, etc. I swear I could furnish TWO houses with all the accumulated junk I've got in this house alone. In order not to keep dragging stuff back and forth, I found enough things to stay permanently there, which will help us during the time we're there working.
We'd like to spend one night there next week, during DH's vacation...but that might not be possible since the central heat/air might be installed then. The estimate was a bit less than we'd expected, so that's good news...but a definite date for starting the installation hasn't been set yet. That will be a huge mess, since the system duct work will be in the attic, with vents in the ceiling -- lots of sheetrock to saw through, creating dust. Until that's done, there's not much point in my doing any more cleaning there. And that's just as well, since I haven't been back since Monday; DH goes almost daily, has been there for the estimates, etc.
This morning I went on my bike ride in the crisp, frigid air -- down to the low 40s last night. Nice ride, and I would miss it if I couldn't ride almost daily. One way or another, I don't plan on giving that up either.
I did a lot of cleaning here yesterday afternoon, moping/waxing floors, scrubbing the bathroom, etc. Just never had much time at the computer to update this blog.
One of my wrists is still sore, and I think I must have sprained it somehow. I'm using an Ace bandage on it when possible, which helps.
I'll close with a quote I disagree with. Essentially, I think the writer has missed the point of computers and the net (progress and growth/learning/greater intellectual development via the electronic world) and seems to forget that there are NO solutions to the plague of problems known as the human condition.
The message [delivered by computers] is that through more and more information, more conveniently packaged, more swiftly delivered, we will find solutions to our problems. And so all the brilliant young men and women, believing this, create ingenious things for the computer to do, hoping that in this way, we will become wiser and more decent and more noble. And who can blame them? By becoming masters of this wondrous technology, they will acquire prestige and power and some will even become famous. In a world populated by people who believe that through more and more information, paradise is attainable, the computer scientist is king. But I maintain that all of this is a monumental and dangerous waste of human talent and energy. Imagine what might be accomplished if this talent and energy were turned to philosophy, to theology, to the arts, to imaginative literature or to education? Who knows what we could learn from such people -- perhaps why there are wars, and hunger, and homelessness and mental illness and anger. --Neil Postman
Tuesday, October 14, 2003
Windy, cooler day today. I went on my bike ride, despite the fact I was zonked from lack of sleep; but it was nice, cool, overcast. Later it rained, and now the wind is tearing leaves off the trees like mad. It is starting to feel like fall.
We won't work on the house/property again till this next weekend. We both needed a break, and time to recuperate. After all, neither of us are youngsters anymore, and such hard labor really takes its toll. All my muscles ache, and I feel like I am sore in places I didn't know could get sore! But we have agreed NOT to rush this, just take our time and not overdo -- because if we do, we'll begin to HATE the place. So it is going to take a long time to ever get the house in shape to live in.
The central heat/air guy came and looked the house over, and of course, was dismayed at the task of trying to figure out how to put a system in such an older house with quirky features. But he said it can be done, it'll just take him some time to puzzle it out. Then he'll let us know his estimate.
The electricity was also turned on, and that allowed us to check out the lights, switches, etc. We found a couple of light switches that aren't working, and I guess DH will have to check into the wiring at some point -- although the previous owner said there were no serious problems. I now have hot water to help with cleaning, and that improves the removal of grim.
I took some digital pictures of the interior, and you can see those by clicking on the link to the right and looking at the bottom of the site. I have used up all my free space at that free photo album online, so there's only a few posted. I will try to find another, separate free photo album website and move all the old farmhouse pictures there so I will have space to put more as the work progresses. I think you can see that the interior needs as much work as the exterior, and painting is only the tip of the iceberg! Whew, lots to do ahead...months and months of work.
My wrists are hurting today, feel almost as if I injured them...but I think it is from all the twisting, wiping motion the past few days. I fear I'm getting onset of arthritis in some of my joints.
Oh yeah, Igor is still out in the pasture. Who is Igor? A friend of the previous owner's minature donkey. He is so cute, and fat as a Butterball; I'll put some photos online soon. Loves to eat, and get petted. My sister and I didn't have a treat for him when we were there recently, but she remembered she had some french fries left in her car...so we offered them to Igor. He ate them all, one by one, from our hands. Then he got mad when we didn't have more, and began braying loudly!!! It was so funny. I told my sister he was angry we didn't bring him a Big Mac to go along with the french fries! :-) Anyway, he'll be gone in about a week, since the woman who owns him will move him to another pasture.
That's all for today.
Monday, October 13, 2003
I felt MUCH better emotionally last night, and this is sort of what I hoped would happen. I already love the location, the landscape and have always had a special fondness for older farmhouses, and this one reminds me so much of my grandparents' home. I think the more time I spend there, the more effort/work DH and I do, the more I'll begin to adjust to a move. I still have brief moments of doubt, but this is only the very beginning of the transition.
Most of the work I did yesterday was basic cleaning, sweeping, etc. The last renters didn't clean the house after they left, so that helped somewhat. Of course, there will be LOTS of renovation work to do -- and there's no use painting till that is done. Today DH is already there, and someone is coming to give him an estimate about central heat/air, which should help us decide what to do next. We won't put in phone service there until we move, but DH took a compact fridge and small portable TV today, there's a stove already, and we can use the kitchen/bathroom when necessary since I cleaned those well.
DH is also doing lots of outside work, fixing up the old barn for temporary shelter for hay and horses. He plans to build a large barn at some point, but right now his main goal is to get the horses there in a week or so. And he's doing other outside chores too, as he has time.
I was truly pleased at how short the drive is to the place from town. I went in my car yesterday, and it only takes, at most, about 10-15 minutes! And it wouldn't take any longer to get to that nearest mini-mall than it would to drive across town from where we live now for shopping. I have NO doubts about the location; it's absolutely PERFECT.
I'm heading there again later. I need to do some housework here before I go, and we'll spend all afternoon there. DH is off today, and next week he is on vacation -- so we can do other work on that place. I also want to take some pictures of the interior, and had planned to do that yesterday...but my digital camera battery was dead. I replaced it last night, and will get some interior pictures later today, which I'll post for any readers who are curious. It will be good to have BEFORE pictures of the interior too as comparison when we finish the painting, etc.
I am fairly sure that soon this will all just be another part of our life, and I'll come to love the old farmhouse and land as much as I do this place in town. I am not ready to say I'll ever sell this house in town, but perhaps renting it will be an option I can live with. I would say it's one of the most difficult things I've ever done, but without taking a risk sometimes, life gets mighty darn BORING!
As a side effect of all the work, I'm back to 92 lbs. I had gotten up to 94, but now I'm at 92 again. :-) That is good news already!
Sunday, October 12, 2003
As I suspected, the closing was not complicated and didn't take too long yesterday morning. We DID meet the owners of the place, who'd been out-of-town most of the time (husband working in Memphis & son-in-law handling the sell). They are VERY nice people, and I could see the woman really hated to let the house go. But they won't return to this area for at least a couple more years, and she said that without supervision, the renters were ruining the lovely old place. Amen! Anyhow, we talked to them at length about the place, and the man does contracting/building with the government, so the improvements he'd made (to plumbing/wiring/structure) are all valuable. We DO, however, have a massive amount of sheer elbow grease to do in order to get the house in decent shape...inside and out.
DH is absolutely THRILLED. He really likes the property, and has already left for there this morning to do some outside work. He's also making swift preparations to move his horses there within a week. I will go in a short while, since I want to do some basic cleaning in the kitchen/bath, so we can use those when the electricity is turned on tomorrow.
Emotionally, this is going to take me TIME to adjust to. Thank goodness I don't have to move right now, for I'm just not ready. I am hoping it'll be a transition over several months, so that by the time the place is ready, I'll be emotionally prepared. Time will tell, I suppose.
Regrets? Not at this point. At least DH is doing stuff that will pay off for US, and not the guy/partner he was doing stuff for where the horses are/have been for a few years. And that, you see, was the MAIN objective in my search for a house/property. Plus, we can afford to maintain both places...in case I NEVER want to move there.
I DID go on my bike ride earlier, but my sinuses are still giving me fits and making me feel rather poorly.
Gotta run, lots to do today.
Friday, October 10, 2003
First thing DH will do is some pruning of overgrown shrubs/trees, etc. I'll probably scrub down the kitchen and bathroom, since the water is still on (believe it or not, there's a skylight in the bathroom, built by a former owner!). We have a small, compact fridge we'll carry there, as well as a couple of extra chairs (a recliner and rocker) so we can have snacks and rest when not working. DH is contacting the rural power company today, and hopefully the electricity will be turned on Monday. If nothing else we can camp out there, I suppose! :-)
Staying for awhile in the house will give me an idea of whether I'll like living there. Right now I have no idea if I will or not, though I am already in love with the house and the setting, the way the pasture looks and the landscape. Sure, there's some things I want to do -- plant some evergreens in the front yard to shield the front porch from passersby, etc. Eventually I'd like a carport, with a small, high privacy fence so the road is not visible from the side of the house where I'll be outside a lot. Oh, I could go on and on about the PLANS, but suffice to say, we're going to just take this "one day at a time."
We also hope to get estimates on making the house energy efficient (central heat/air, new windows/doors, and necessary insulation) on Monday. The best price gets the job. Who knows how long that'll take, but it will be so much easier having it done BEFORE we are living there.
Finally got the much-needed rain, and it washed clear the air...helped my sinus problem. I had to run to the grocery store this morning, then went on my bike ride when I got back before the sun came out. It's now sunny out there, and mild.
The next entry I make will be from a new property owner! Te he!
Thursday, October 09, 2003
Anyway, to make a long story short, the elderly lady sold that house to her brother -- who had a crew go in and strip up the old carpet, clean the hardwood floors (not refinish them) and put in new countertops and appliances. Then he jacked the price up $20,000.00!!! He didn't sell it though, and instead, rented it. Today I saw that the house is empty again, and he has a sign saying "For Rent Or For Sale -- Possible Owner Financing." Hmm. I just wonder if he'd be more reasonable in price now, but I doubt it. And, of course, there's still the problem with the stairs...and the way the house is built, it would be nearly impossible to add on to the main level. Oh yeah, and it doesn't have central heat/air either. Besides, it is only about three blocks from where we live now, and wouldn't be that much better, so far as the Mexican problem is concerned.
Last night the owner of the house/property called, and said they were all set for a Saturday morning closing, if it's okay with us. DH will talk to the lawyer today, and see if we can set a time. So it won't be long now, and once the paperwork is finished, we can start working on the house, etc. DH is off next Monday, then the following week is his vacation....and we'll have plenty to keep us busy!
The weather has been great here, mild and sunny, though we could use some rain. Everyone's sinuses are acting up and a good rain would help clear the air. I went on my bike ride this morning, and it was quiet in the park, had it all to myself. That usually only happens when all the kids are in school.
Yesterday I went by the Salvation Army store and found several odds and ends for the other house -- mostly decorative "country cottage" stuff. I looked at a lot of country cottage interior decorating tips/pictures online and think this is the style I'll try to develop inside the old farmhouse. Whew, lots of work ahead though.
One thing I do plan when we get moved: I am going to buy a good telescope! I have always wanted to use a telescope, but living in the city, the light distraction/distortion would pretty much ruin the night sky viewing. Living out in the country though, and particularly at that house/land, will give me an opportunity to do some REAL star gazing!
And that's a wrap for today.
Wednesday, October 08, 2003
We've told our families about this -- especially my mother and DH's mother. Both seemed very pleased and happy for us. I think they'll both just love this place, since both of them grew up in similar old houses.
What has surprised me most though is that when we tell someone we bought a place, the first question they ask is when we'll be moving, and the second question is what we plan to do with our house here in town. In fact, one of my sisters suggested we might want to rent it to her son, my nephew, who is thinking of getting married early next year. However, when I told her what we'd have to ask in rent, she said he couldn't afford that. He is still in college, and so is the girl he's going to marry. And I felt rather bad that we couldn't offer them a cut-rate rent, but on the other hand, he's not MY child. Frankly, it's time Sam learns that the 'real world' is expensive; he's lived at home since getting out of high school, and my sister and brother-in-law have paid entirely for his education thus far -- even going so far as to refinance their home (which was paid off) for his tuition. Sam has mostly worked at half-hearted part-time stuff, and now they say he's considering just quitting college and going to work full-time to get married. Excuse me, but wasn't he supposed to COMPLETE college so he'd have a degree? Otherwise, what was the point? [Sorry, off on a tangent!]
At any rate, we've had numerous people interested in our house -- from realtors to just those who want to rent it. That is at least six months away though, because it is going to take some time for us to get the other house in shape to live in. I mean, renters were living there, but I prefer doing as much of the remodeling as we can before moving in. The house is not unlivable, but it sure could use some updating and upkeep. The only problem I see in keeping our house to rent is that friends/family think you'll just let them stay in it either cheaply or free. And we just can't afford to do that.
Still, I am not quite emotionally ready to sell this house, though I might be six months from now when we do move. Time will tell, I suppose. I did figure a budget, and we can easily afford to maintain the two places -- power, phones, cable TV, etc -- so there's no hurry on moving.
It's very early, and though I've not been sleeping well (any kind of change brings on my insomnia!), I feel like a long bike ride will help me. Oh, I had another batch of wine mature yesterday and it is delicious! I guess the alcohol content is roughly about 9% only, so it doesn't have much of a liquor taste...is very smooth and delicious. It has helped me get to sleep around 11:00 at night, though I am waking around 4:00 and not being able to go back to sleep. I think once the closing is over, I'll rest easier though. Perhaps I'm still anxious something will prevent us getting that place, which I DO want!
Monday, October 06, 2003
Sunday DH and I, as well as my sister and brother-in-law (who were visiting) went out to the farmhouse/land. We walked over the five acre pasture, and I took a lot of digital pictures of the house, the land, the surroundings. If you want to see those, please click HERE. And remember, these are BEFORE pictures -- as in BEFORE the renovation of the house and upkeep of the property/pasture/fencing/outbuildings.
I am glad I have these pictures, so I can remind myself of how badly the lovely old place needed some TLC. I am just the one to lavish the care and attention upon it too, since I absolutely LOVE old houses. It baffles my mind that some people would rather live in modern, antiseptic, generic houses just like everyone else. Perhaps I've just never been part of the crowd, never wanted what the majority do...and that is partly why I love older houses.
Just THINK of the drama of the lives lived in those old houses. One of my favorite HGTV programs is: "If Walls Could Talk." Indeed, if they could we would learn so much fascinating human drama and history.
I do know a little about this house/property. Coincidentally (and there's been quite a few weird coincidences with this whole deal), one of the elderly ladies across the street from our older house here in town told DH that she had a girlfriend who lived in that house, that they went to school together. And that the girl's parents built the place around 1902; they owned 40-acres and had a sawmill (the land has now been divided, and only five acres remains with the old farmhouse). All the wood in the house was milled by the father, and he took special care of such detailing. I am not sure what their personal lives were like, but I hope to learn more about the entire history of the house when I have time to do some research. In fact, I'd love to write a 'House Story' ... present the history and names of people who owned the house, and print it up, hang it on the wall! Nice touch, I think. But that is in the future, AFTER we've gotten some of the urgent renovation done.
First we plan to have the house made energy efficient -- new windows, doors, insulation and central heat/cooling. We'll hire that done, because it needs to be a professional job. Then we'll build a sunporch on the back for the cats. Next we'll start painting inside and outside...so we have LOTS of hard work ahead. Should be interesting to see the AFTER pictures when it's all done -- but don't expect them soon. Although I will propably be writing as often as I can in this journal about the progress and experience -- which will be my written record too.
I am staying postive, looking toward the future. I think DH and I NEEDED this project, since it will focus us on the future, instead of nostalgia and looking back. That's the bane of the middle-age experience: you must have NEW dreams to replace the ones you've already accomplished or you get bogged down in an empty life with only memories of the past as company.
I went on my bike ride today, and it felt great. By the way, there's a park only about 3 miles from the farmhouse; I'll get a bike rack, put my bike on the car and go there to ride frequently -- so I won't miss out on exercising. DH, of course, will have horses and who knows, he might even persuade me to ride sometimes!
Saturday, October 04, 2003
Because last night the seller of that 100-year-old house and 5 beautiful acres (all in pasture) called and said that the buyers who'd planned to buy the place (and beat us to it only by hours!) couldn't get financing and we were next in line! Of course I was sooooo excited I could hardly sit still, and this morning at 8:00 we met the seller at the place, looked it over more thoroughly and then put a deposit on it. IF everything goes smoothly, and we can find a lawyer in time, we should be able to get the closing done within less than two weeks! We decided to pay cash, which will make for less costs in closing, and also because we can afford it, and still have some savings left. We have a great deal more in savings than what will be left in the money market from this purchase, but most of it is tied up in IRAs and Life Insurance payout, etc. We won't be able to do extensive renovation before moving in, but in time we will...either by selling our house in the city or just renting it out. And I'm inclined to rent it, since that will be a steady income for the future.
We do have enough money though to do some necessary repairs, a few updating tasks, and lots and lots of painting! But I am looking forward to that, since I LOVE restoring older houses. This one still has the original wide plank floorboards, hardwood floors (carpet over it, but we may take that up), old interior doors, but the bathroom and kitchen have been updated somewhat. Work, work, work in the future...but I am not complaining!!! :-)
The location is so ideal I keep thinking I have to pinch myself to know this is real, not a dream. It is ONLY four miles from the town where we live now, and only ONE mile from the next smaller town -- which has a minor strip-mall with all the same grocery store chains, department stores where I shop here now. It will be like living the country but with all the conveniences of the city. And the land is absolutely beautiful, bordered on one side by a slow-running creek where the horses can get water. There's also an older, but good barn; an old well (even an old outhouse which is overgrown!), several outbuildings, a garage and a big yard, no neighbors close to us. There is a nice modern brick house across the highway, but on either side of the place, it's at least a couple miles to the nearest neighbors (one of whom happens to be a local judge). I hope to get some pictures soon, and will post those in my album when I do.
It will be difficult, emotionally, to move from this house in town...only in that we've lived here over 20 years and I have a sentimental attachment to the place. That is one reason I would prefer to rent it out, so we will still own it and could return here someday if the property/house we're buying gets to be more than we can handle as we age. But for now, I think it is going to be a GOOD change...and I am going to keep a positive state of mind (not easy for a pessimistic person like myself to do).
Soooooo this is a long-awaited celebration -- we've been looking for such a place for over a year, and believe me, this one is the very BEST we've found. I know that in a few years, we can probably double out investment in the place...the way property values are soaring in our area.
We will have to build an addition for the cats, probably a combination sunroom/screen porch, and will probably put it over the cellar entryway. Yes, it has a genuine cellar/half-basement that is now dirt. But we will eventually put cement blocks and concrete there, so we can use the space -- and perhaps let the cats in there during the summer when it will stay cool. Oh, and maybe I can create a 'wine cellar' too!
I'm not sure what I'll do about the strays I feed, but perhaps I will take the gray tabby female to the vet, get her a rabies shot and carry her with us. I don't know if the male Russian blue is well enough for that; he's been ailing lately, and he won't let me get my hands on him anyhow. Possibly we can rent this house to someone who loves cats (and I'd let them have cats indoors too), and they will feed the strays. If not, the strays will move on to other neighbors who feed; I know of at least two other women who feed strays on this block.
I must close. But for now, I'm HAPPY!!! :-)
Thursday, October 02, 2003
I also have some new cat photos online. My sister gave me the cutest basket with a ceramic cat in it; but I took the cat out, and let my REAL cats have fun with it. The basket is cute, has a big bow on it, and a soft cushion inside -- which, of course, attracted the cats. You can see photos at the bottom of this album HERE And the rest of them here for readers who are cat lovers, like myself.
What else? I'm still engaged in making wine, and having fun with it...very time-consuming.
And it's been beautiful weather here, although a bit nippy/cold for this time of year. It got down to 38 degrees last night, but has warmed up to the high 60s today.
Naturally I had to go ride my bike around noon, since it was so nice outdoors. No one there when I first got to the park, but then this fat gal and her skinny Mexican boyfriend arrived, smooching on each other. At least the fat women can find them a boyfriend now...(sarcasm)
Yes, I am upset with the number of illegal Mexicans that have flooded our town/region. In fact, just yesterday there was a huge drug bust here of meth; turns out, the whole operation (one of the largest in our state ever!) was run by illegal Mexicans! Like I've stated before, I don't mind immigrants so long as they are LEGAL. The illegals are a huge drain on social/community resources, not to mention the drug problems they create. The Prez can yell and condemn Arabs, but can't seem to muster any outrage at the number of Americans the illegal Mexicans have managed to ruin via their druggie trade, now can he? Need that cheap labor, so the rich won't have to pay DECENT wages to blue-collar American workers here. [I'll get down off my soapbox now.]
I also dropped by the Salvation Army Thrift store, bought a bunch of pillows and blankets for my pet cats and the strays. I always buy that stuff there, which saves money and then I can just discard it all when it gets soiled. I have a large insulated dog-house outdoors, which I've turned into a cat-house! :-) It has a pile of soft pillows in it, with thick blankets to keep them warm. I also have several other big plastic boxes with round holes at one end for cats to sleep in outdoors. At least they can find a good, safe, warm place to sleep when the weather is cold or rainy. And I'm now feeding two regular strays-- the little gray-striped female that never goes into heat; and a battered-looking Russian blue. Both stay in the yard almost all the time, and never miss a meal!
I'll close for today. Oh, I still weigh 93 lbs, as of this morning...so I'm not dieting, just watching what I eat.