May 18, 2014

Spring of a sort has arrived, at last! We are about 3 to 4 weeks behind in terms of what is blooming. Unfortunately, many trees and shrubs around the area died over the winter due to the harsh conditions we endured; many more trees that by now would be abud have yet to set buds. My reliable pink and white bleeding hearts have set their flowers and will give me a fine display again this year. I will be taking slips with me when I move to my downsized digs, probably by the end of July. Much has happened the past few months! This collage features photos of my yard from other days in Mays past in my back yard. I am going to miss Maison Newton, but a smaller yard and smaller house to care for will be welcome. I hope you are all enjoying beautiful weather. Ours has been up and down, but I am enjoying the longer hours of daylight! Take care. Jan

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Junking the Junk Drawer(s)!!!

Hola darlings!

I want to be outside soooooo badly on this beautiful summer day in southeast Wisconsin, but I am being a good girl and unpacking an entire BOXLOAD of the contents of two junk drawers from the prior Maison Newton.

Geesh!  I should have taken a picture when that box was full of crap junk stuff items I cannot live without things I rarely need but occasionally use.  But -- the end is near!!!

Look at that sucker - it's gigantic!  It is a copy paper box from the office, one of hundreds dozens people at the office hoarded for me once I put the word out I needed boxes for moving. It was filled TO THE BRIM; what you now see is what is left after working on it for an hour.  I am so proud of myself!  Pat on Jan's back from Jan to herself :) 

I now only have one pitifully small junk drawer and an orphan cabinet in my kitchen peninsula where I am stashing odds and ends that don't fit anywhere else but that I don't want to put on the shelves in the basement as past experience has taught me that I actually do access my "junk" quite a bit.  There are eleven steps to the basement and while the storage is nice, I really don't want to be trekking down there several times a day!

This is what my new junk drawer looks like:

As you can see, this drawer is loaded, but it is actually organized by function (sort of) and everything has its own container -- that is a first for me:  tools; scissors and various forms of hooks and holders; plastic tape, command strips, various thingies for hanging pictures and photos, and tons of push-tacks; glue, a couple of electrical adapter, measuring tape, extra styrofoam blocks (I use them to elevate the rear legs of my laptops); at the far left are rulers and a compass (because you never know when you may need to make a circle); furniture scratch covers and fillers; scotch tape; three little containers filled with various forms of tacks, nails and screws, and hammers across the back of the drawer.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Bed Instead of a Bedframe

Hola everyone!

So here I am, living at the new house.  The "big" move was on July 7th.  The movers had re-assembled the bed in my mistress bedroom and set up the room the way I directed (they were so kind and patient with me, doing the guest room just so and also the living room).

The movers were gone before 3 p.m. and I started unboxing some items.  About 8 p.m. I made up my bed, then I scrubbed myself up and got into my PJs; time for sleep on my comfy soft mattress.  I sat down on the bed and KERPLUNK -- the mattresses fell through the frame straight to the floor.

So, there I am, trying to get myself up from an awkward position, legs flailing in the air. 

LOL!  What does one do in such a situation (and position) except laugh.  Of course something like that would happen.  Of course! 

After I extracted myself from the wreck of my bed, I was too tired to make up the bed in the guest room, so I slept on the sofa in the living room.

Next morning, I surveyed the collapsed bed in the mistress bedroom to see if there was any damage.  Hardwood floor came through unscathed, thank goodness!  I examined the bed.  Two thin cross-wires that were supposed to be hooked into the frame to support the box spring and mattress were missing in action.  That's why the bed mattresses collapsed when I sat on it. 

No wire struts to support the mattress, alas.  This my room after I woman-wrestled the mattress
and box spring off the floor and out of the bed frame.  Buhy buhy bed.  I'll sell you to someone
who paints things like you with chalk paint and will make you all fancy and purty.   

I could have done a lot of things at this point.  But honestly, after thinking about it and doing some unpacking while waiting for the AT&T technician to arrive to hook the house up for U-verse internet and telephone, I realized that taking the bed apart and putting it back together with those thin wire "struts" was a pain in the neck.  I had struggled with doing just that on a couple of occasions at Maison Newton when I had switched beds and/or bedrooms around.  Would I blame Joe and Jimmy for a small oversight in the larger scheme of the excellent moving job they'd performed for me?  Heck no!   

Soooo, I decided to shop online for a new - easy to put together - bed frame.  Instead of "making do" (can you tell I am the child of Depression Era parents?) I was going to get exactly what I wanted.

So, two days later I'm still shopping online for a reasonably priced bed frame that has what I want and is the proper size (full size).  I never imagined it would be so hard! Pay well over $100 for a full-size bed frame?  Are you nuts?   I'm shopping during my lunch hour at work after having exhausted Amazon, Sears, Target, Penney's, Verlo (a local outfit), when I decided to try -- as a last gasp -- 

I haven't mastered the technique of searching for just what I want when it comes to  Sure, I type in specific information "full size bed frame" in the search box -- and I get 10,000 items, only 100 of which are a bed frame.  What the heck am I doing wrong?

So I started scrolling through my search non-results and lo and behold, my eyes alight upon this, accompanied by the wondrous harmonies of a Heavenly Choir:

LOVE!  I've seen this style of bed before, while searching for other items that I wrote about here.  Never seriously considered buying anything like it for myself.  Until July 10th...

This is the Bailey Charcoal Full Size Bed -- perfect for moi and my 10x12 mistress room at the new house, free shipping, and the price is $316.  (It also comes in twin-size for under $300.) 

Moving Day Comes and Goes (Came and Went?) (Was Here and Gone?)

Hola everyone!

Ugh, that is what I have to say.  I have worked so hard for the past couple of months - sorting, tossing, packing, packing, packing, I never want to see another cardboard box as long as I live!  Except in this small new house, I have only pathways through a maze of cardboard boxes!  It will take forever to get unpacked and organized.  Little did I realize when I viewed this house for the first time how much I would have to purge, and how much I am still going to have to purge, of my possessions.  Geesh!

Closing happened on June 30th.  The very next day, a few wonderful friends kicked into high gear to help me begin the arduous process of clearing Maison Newton, my home for the past 24 years. 

Scant photos. This entire experience has been traumatic. I did leave Maison Newton without screaming and kicking and nobody had to drag me out, but I left with great reluctance and a lot of sadness. Who will feed my squirrels and birds? Not J&J (the soon-to-be-married-oh-so-young-owners), who consider them pests.

Every night for a week after work, beginning with July 1st when Barb and Tim came over with their van and trailer, bless their hearts, a friend would arrive at Maison Newton and we would load up as much as we could fit into car and trunk, and then unload it at the new house; sometimes making several trips. On Sunday, July 6th, the day before the professional movers came, my long-time friend, Ann, was like a Terminator Machine. We put in a full day's work packing; it was (of course) hot and humid, and I was struggling to get up and down the stairs at Maison Newton continually loaded down with arms-full of clothing (moving the mistress bedroom closet, Holy Hathor!), and box after box and large black bag after large black bag of -- STUFF! I was sweating like a stuck pig and Ann, I doubt she even got dewy! What the heck? Well, I know she likes it hot but - really! LOL! I looked like I had just stepped out of the shower by the end of it all.There aren't many pictures (I was not exactly in blog mode during this long, difficult process):

Boxes and bags (filled with clothing from emptied dresser drawers and who knows all what else)
in the front bedroom at the new house.  It will fill up quickly... 

The pro movers arrived bright and early on Monday July 7th.  I hired them to deal with the heavy furniture, including a giant china hutch, a large curio cabinet, and a queen sized sleeper sofa, recliner, large wing chair, two bedroom sets -- well, you get the picture.

The estimate I had received over the telephone about how long it would take to load everything and unload everything at the new house (after I had given them a room by room inventory of what was being moved), was spot on.  Two nice young men somehow managed to get it all done (I did not think it was possible, to tell you the truth) and I have to say, they worked their butts off!  It was hot and humid last Monday and even with the AC on at both houses, with doors removed (to fit large furniture through) it was fighting a losing battle to try and keep things cool.

Unloading at the new house.
The professional move came in on schedule and under budget.  I definitely recommend using the West Allis, Wisconsin franchise Two Men and a Truck, thanks Joe and Jimmy. 

I didn't cry here at the new house my first night sleeping over, but it was close. It was a tight contest with my feeling of being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project I face in simply trying to UNPACK everything. Perhaps I shed a few tears of frustration and self-pity over that...

For a week, nearly every day, I emailed my buyer-broker about how much I HATE THIS HOUSE.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Moving is a Dirty Word

Motivational photo:  This is the patio door at the new house.  This door is one of the reasons I decided to buy that house instead of the house next store that had essentially the same floor plan.  I took it last Sunday, during my final walk-through before closing on June 30th.  This is the only photo in this long post.

Uber-busy getting ready for the move on July 7th - no time to relax and enjoy the weekend. OY -- too tired to go into all the details of how I got from Offer to Purchase to actual closing, and now the actual move. I have not worked so hard for such long stretches since installing sod here many years ago, when I was much younger and had a lot more energy and stamina!  I HATE PACKING!

After nearly 24 years, I am leaving Maison Newton, turning it over to a nice and eager young couple (the young lady is the daughter of a high school friend, and I've known her since she was born).   They will be moving in the weekend of July 12th. 

I can't believe how much stuff I have. And I've been regularly giving things to charity and family members for years -- furniture, clothing, dishes, knick-knacks, books. Geez - where did all of this stuff come from?  I have been relentlessly tossing items into the trash or putting them into a donate pile, but it's tough parting with some things.  In March I donated 7 boxes of books to a fund raiser by a local bar (laywers') association, and I did that with a large lump in my throat.  But now I have to ruthlessly downsize a library collected since the 1970's, so I am keeping only my favorite novels and nonfiction books.  I could open my own library.  I still have to sort through three more bookcases upstairs.  Every time I toss a book or add it to the donate pile, I feel like I am losing a part of myself.  Books have been my friends since I was old enough to read.
Yesterday morning (4th of July) before 8 a.m., I hiked the mile to the new house, lugging a large bag with me, to hang curtains on the picture window in the living room and the first bedroom. The sun was glaring in both windows Thursday evening when my friends, Barb and Tim, brought me and a large load of boxes and garage items over to the new house. We loaded up here at Maison Newton and then unloaded things to the new garage and house.  Let me tell you, Barb and Tim are machines when it comes to loading and unloading boxes and stuff.  I was panting and managing only to put in one box for every three of theirs!  When we were finished unpacking, in an unbelievable short amount of time, we took a tour of the new house.  Barb had seen the outside, but had not been inside. Tim had seen neither outside nor inside. 

This morning I walked into the living room to prepare to put up the curtains, and I see what at first glance appear to be brownish-black specs on the cream colored carpet. Spots that I had not seen the evening before, with the light of the western sun glaring in.  I looked more closely, thinking to myself what the hell? I didn't see anything like this last night. What IS that?  And then, I saw them.  HOLY HATHOR! BUGS!

First instinct when I see a bug is to run in the opposite direction. I HATE BUGS! They give me the creeps. But I found my courage, because there was no one else to fall back on; I had to go back into the living room and deal with those - BUGS! I got a closer look at them. Some kind of long-bodied flying insect. Crawling all over the carpet. Newly hatched? OHMYGODDESS.

I had seen no bugs the evening before, and we were in and out of that room several times putting boxes in one corner, admiring the view out of the picture window (with heat pouring in from the setting Sun), checking out the new front door and peep-hole, the mailbox and the front porch light.

I had no vacuum at the new house yet. So, no way to suck up the bucks quickly and efficiently.  But I had brought over a fresh roll of toilet paper (just in case, you know; sometimes people don't leave toilet paper in the bathrooms when they move out). So down on my hands and knees I went and, one by one, I squished them in between my fingers wrapped in toilet paper. It took me about 45 minutes to get all that I could see crawling around. Some had graduated to flying, but I got them too. All were flushed down the toilet.


Let me tell you, this is NOT the way one wants to start one's day. And such a lovely day, too. Sunny, warm, a little bit of a breeze, just a wee bit too humid for me. Just a few degrees difference in the dew point makes a big difference in my stamina and how well I can breathe. I am a LOT slower than I used to be, and wouldn't you know it, my left hip was hurting, too (the humidity). But I made it back home and on the way did my errands, too. And squashed probably 100 bugs for extra exercise.

On the walk back home, I stopped at the Pick 'n Save and picked up a large can of Raid flying insect spray that can be used indoors and outdoors. It will go back to the new house with me on Sunday, along with my Mighty Mite vacuum. And that carpeting is being ripped out and the hardwood floors underneath will be refinished!  I won't be able to afford refinishing the floors right away, but I don't care what they look like. No more carpeting anywhere in the house, only area rugs.  I know it is silly to equate those bugs with the carpeting, but there it is, it's stuck in my brain, so the carpeting goes. 

I did take time to celebrate July 4th. I picked up some treats for myself for supper and breakfast/lunch tomorrow:  Beer Bratwurst sausages! Potato Chips! Gourmet Chocolate Chunk Cookies! Fresh Botilla rolls!  I started packing up the kitchen.  Why do I have three sets of dishware???

Saturday, June 28, 2014

I Got the Kitchen Blues

Hola darlings!

This is the kitchen I wanted -- at 4029, the house I did not buy (could not reach agreement with sellers on a purchase price, we were $2,000 apart in price and both stuck to our guns; ultimately, this house, listed for $169,900, sold for $168,000 -- much more than what I paid for 3982 with identical square footage and general lay-out, just up the block):

This is the kitchen I'm buying at 3982:

The basic lay-out and floor area of each kitchen are mirror images of each other, right down to the angled double sink in the corner looking out through two corner windows.  But - oh my - the differences.  Holy Hathor!

And the Winner Is....

Two houses in contention, but I can only buy one...


And the winner is -- 3982.  I am closing on its purchase on Monday - finally!  It took a ridiculously long amount of time to get to this point.

I really really liked 4002, but in the end, I was swayed by the list of recent improvements that the owners of 3982 had undertaken: new siding on house and garage; new concrete patio in back yard; new privacy fence to screen patio; new furnace and AC unit in 2013; beautifully refinished hardwood floors in the bedrooms; newer architectural style shingle roofs on house and garage; new vinyl plank flooring in the kitchen/dinette in a luscious dark cherrywood tone (that clashes horribly with the oak finished cabinets); newly remodeled main floor bathroom; updated kitchen; new front and rear exterior doors; new windows; new sliding patio door with steps down to the backyard (not shown on any of the listing photos, but if you look in through the picture window above you can see straight back through the living room to the patio doors in the dinette). 

I still have tweaks of panic now and then that I bought the wrong house (4002 has many appealing aspects), but to back out now would be disastrous for the young couple buying my house, and the young couple selling me their house, and the people who are selling my sellers their house!  Just cannot do it.  My rational side tells me that I will have little to worry about for years to come in buying 3982, other than installing a new water heater in a couple of years and decommissioning the old chimney.  Oh, and the brick veneer across the front of the house needs to be "re-tied" to the studs in some places and the stone cap on the brick half wall underneath the bedroom windows needs to be reset.

So, I will live right next store to 4002 and be witness to see what the lucky person(s) who eventually move in do around the place; it is under contract but has been pending for months.  I believe the buyers cannot sell their house, or more likely, cannot sell their house for the money they need to afford to buy 4002. 

So, shortly I will be embarking on the next phase of my life -- that of living in a much smaller house and yards.  My hands are itching to get at it.  As you can see, 3982 doesn't have much curb appeal, and there is lots of painting and minor remodelling to do inside.  What a thing to take on nearly at my 63rd birthday.  Geez, Jan! 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Shopping for a New House: House 5

Hola darlings.

Spring has, at last, sprung at Maison Newton and I've been so busy the past several weekends doing yard work, OY!  This is one of the reasons I wanted to downsize to a smaller house and smaller yard than what I have now. I love my yards and my gardens, but they are, quite frankly, too much for me to handle on my own at this point in my life.  My plan was for Mr. Don to be here with me during our Golden Years to help with the necessary.  He loved puttering around in the gardens, too.  But it did not come to pass.   

So - on to House 5.  If you take a look at the prior posts, you will see my adventures with Houses 4, 3, 2 and 1. 

House 5 went on the market on or about May 1st.  When I opened up the browser early one morning, still half asleep, sipping my instant coffee before doing the trudge back upstairs to get ready for work, my eyes widened and I instantly became fully awake when I saw A NEW LISTING!

The house is 3982 S. 74.  In fact, next store, directly to the north of 4002 S. 74 (House 4).  I had finally viewed 4002 on May 2nd, and so admired what it had to offer and its potential, I was ready to put in an offer to buy it.  BUT -- I wanted to see 3982 before reaching a final decision.  I was itching to pull the trigger on a house at this point. I had had enough of looking at houses and dickering with sellers.  I wanted to settle on a place and BUY IT. 

There she is - 3982.  This is a typical basic ranch style house for our area: three small bedrooms, one bath, one living room, one kitchen with dining area.  Full 11 course concrete block basement as large as the square footage above.  Stone or brick facade on front of house, aluminum or vinyl siding on the rest of the house.  Ranch-style windows (narrow and short) in bedrooms.  Separate garage built at the back of the lot.  They were put up in our area by the thousands during the 1950-1960's.  This particular house was built in - 1955.  4002 and 4029 were built the following year, in 1956, but have the exact same floor plan, with minor variations in bedroom configurations, and identical square footage on the main living area. 

Here is what 3928 did not have: 4002's lovely bay window with crank-out windows on either end to provide cross-ventilation with the dinette window (that had two narrow windows on either side of a large picture window that could be opened), and a curved front sidewalk with a beautiful decorative flowering tree, expertly trimmed shrub linking the public sidewalk area to the house walk-way, and the driveway-side lot line adorned with climbing roses at either end of the house;  OR 4029's cute and smartly-designed front garden area, sharp decorative paint job with cool colors, decorative shutters, and decorative metal thing hung between the two front bedroom windows to provide the final finishing touch.

All can be fixed, of course, but still...

OF COURSE 3982 sellers' schedule and mine did not coordinate.  I had hoped to see 3982 the same evening I saw 4002, but alas, it did not come about.  I was not able to view 3982 until the evening of Friday, May 6th. Four long days of waiting, tick tick tick, and having ants in my pants the entire time...

The property listing for 3982 made a point of noting that the following items were new: (1) furnace; (2) air-conditioning unit; (3) remodeled main floor bathroom, with new bath tub; (4) siding on house AND garage; (5) exterior doors (front door, side door that exits at driveway and -- PATIO DOOR!!!!!)  The Patio Door is extremely important because that meant these owners took the time and expense to replace the 1950's style picture window in the dinette area looking out over the backyard with a brand new (mini-blinds inside) sliding patio door, with new steps, down to a (6)  beautifully finished concrete patio and (7) fully privacy-fenced backyard.  Let's see, did I miss anything? Oh yeah, (8) a new high-end laminate floor installed in the kitchen/dinette area in a rich deep red mahogany-like color that I fell in love with instantly upon seeing it in person.  This flooring was NOT shown in any of the listing photographs, BTW.  Neither was the patio door.