We had “our close up”…..

Pictures have finally been done….its been a long time coming…. not unlike with myself it took a lot longer to get picture ready than I thought it would !

Its a crazy process of cleaning, while in the midst of moving and removing furniture and updating and upgrading various places in the house, not to mention the realization that my dogs really do shed 24 hours, 365 days …. and the inevitable craziness of mother nature! (60 mph winds with 80 mph wind gusts…) Seriously?!!

For me, this was nerve wracking! I’m basically an introvert…. so having someone come into my house and take pictures and remove all traces of me personally is akin to being judged….ack!! It was kinda like being back in highschool… (again ack!) I was a tall ( really tall !! )  gangly, mouth full of braces girl who was most often referred to as a “rich bitch” … and while I was brought up in a comfortable home and indulged… I think it was my shyness about letting people in, that made others think that I felt “i was better…”… but really I just couldn’t let anyone in… and the same holds true with my house…. This is a huge art project of sorts and so I know that just like art, not everyone will like what they see…. But like anybody who creates something… you want that acceptance and the praise that what you have accomplished is good….                                                                     stressful! ack!!

Then comes the money part…”Worth”…. Is it worth the money? Well…. I get market ups and downs…( sort of …ha!) I get that this is a unique piece of property here in Southern California… But this is also my retirement and my 401k…. So, yes its worth a lot to me!! I’m not in a huge rush to quick sell for whatever just to sell…. this is an unsettling  attitude to many…. I’m starting my life over, so this house is also my parachute to help me with a soft landing to the next step…

I’m now trying to gear myself up to have people wander through the house while I load up the dogs and we ‘toodle’ around the neighborhood! Of course first the dog toys will be stuffed into closets, dog beds hid behind the couches, wine glasses washed and put away!!  But i’m glad we’ve finally gotten to this point, I think…hopefully I’ll have more time to attend to my friends and family who I’ve neglected horribly !!

But here I am …still Moving this 50 yr. plus life forward!!

Getting ready for our close up…

Well, I’m in the process of getting the house picture ready for the Real Estate photographers……which seems like an unreal prospect.  I bought this house when it was 1 day from being ‘red tagged’… meaning it would be deemed uninhabitable, so you can only imagine how lovely it was when we moved in!!

So at the moment  I’m actually living the adage of “spend money to make money”….and I’m not going to lie… it sucks.  With the logistics of getting ready to have pictures taken … I am struggling with the “urgency” of it all… again its the cost…I’ve done this whole house without going in debt.. and, yep, I pride myself on it…there have been many vacations not taken , I’ve learned about budgeting  things like tile.. and then its installation … meaning 2000 square ft of tile might sit in the  garage until I have saved the money to have it installed. Or as it often times is the case, I choose to care for my animals because these loves only come to me if they need “extra”!! For a long time we used to introduce my Deaf dog Chille… as our Kitchen!(“yes, and this is Chille our kitchen..”ha!! …. I can say many true and unflattering things about Ken…but he never denied me the care of the animals… even when they cost a “kitchen”!!)…

There are so many people that have been on the journey of this house… and I think sometimes they are stuck in what it was… and how it was …and how slowly it came to be. They have watched  the struggles… leaking roof, slanted floor, tile that took 18 months to come… fires, floods… and of course my tears.  The house is large and it sits on a jewel of property in Southern California… a flat acre!!!.. which seems weird to think is a big deal if you live literally anywhere else!! But here, in an unincorporated area where there isn’t a Home owners Association to tell you when and what and how to live your life along with when to eat and poop ( don’t get me started on HOA’s).. it is again a rarity, in Southern California…The property itself is worth money…and I totally get that. But in the wake of me trying to get everything perfect and ready for pictures I hear mostly “you know they are just going to rip the house down and build 3 houses on it…”….OOOkay… they have just spit on 16 years of love and dedication to a project… yes, my priorities could have been different and the house would have been finished sooner.. but the key words are “MY priorities”… at the end of each and every day this is not just a house, its a home. Its where friendships are formed, animals are loved , gardens are planted and thrive, meals are cooked ( sometimes with success !!) Holidays are decorated and celebrated for everyone and the door has been open to many for sometimes a week, a month and even years. And while it wasn’t picture perfect it was always everything I had to offer.

Now, its not perfect house but of course, I think its pretty damn nice…. One would think I know all about getting picture perfect…(wink) !! but sadly I’ve never been an anally compulsive housekeeper..( who takes down the vents and washes them all the time???) ….which probably would have helped in this particular preparation and I wasn’t raised with the ‘construction remodeling gene…!’ (But I can now give the tool corral at Home Depot a run for the money!)  The logistics of the various things is maddening ! and in the midst of it all, we’ve had crazy ass rain! which makes the tasks  of  having the inside of the garage painted… I’m talk rafters and all…and of course a nice floor  installed…$$$… a logistical nightmare….(arrgh Its a garage…)! I had hoped to have all this ready by the end of this month… actually the month before and one before that…. but so goes the story of things.

So as I was saying , I find the logistic of this “Picture Perfect ” thing a bit daunting… it seems to be riddled with money angst and emotional angst… I evidently don’t have control over the weather (damn it)….the painters… the earthquakes (yes, tile repair in the living room)… it is, to put it bluntly “overwhelming”.  So lately I wake up every day…and question this move… I want to snuggle down into the covers and up against the dog butt that is inevitably wedged between my face and my pillow…. I don’t like this part of moving… there i’m just going to say it!   Packing and loading 5 Pods was a breeze in comparison to getting ready for a picture perfect reality.

So on the days of late, when my pity party is in full swing… I was reminded the other day by a dear friend that I have always “kept on going”… and so I am still on my way to Austin Texas… hopefully to find a more fulfilling way of life… something that I can build and feed my soul. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for easier… I can’t be that person that needs life to be easier and I don’t believe in”too hard” or “too much work”… I just need it to fill my soul …and try to hang on to my sanity in the process!

 

Why Austin?

I find that so many people are asking WHY Austin Texas?!!! I wish i had some kind of thoughtful answer… but truthfully I pulled up a map of the U.S. and basically ruled out the cold… I grew up in Michigan and i’m not a fan of going back to the cold. I also wanted to be close to a lake… again, I grew up in Michigan and I miss the lakes, they were truly a source of joy growing up! I also realized that living in California means ‘no land’… seriously , when I tell people I live on an acre here in California… its as if I found and own the” holy grail…”.Nope. I know when my neighbors come and go…I need acre..age… ’cause you guessed it, I grew up in Michigan! We used to give directions to places in miles! not in the number of Starbucks…(don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of Starbucks!! they saved my life with coffee just this morning!)  But as many ( read ALL…) have told me “Texas is hot”….oookay… here in Sunny California for the past couple of summers it has been 90 degrees and above (110)… that is hot!! Not crazy Arizona hot…but HOT nonetheless… !!  next the comment ( and I’m not kidding, If I could get 5.00$ for each time… I’d be a crazy rich woman….but since nobody pays … I’m just crazy…wink!) anyway…”its really humid”…ooookay… again, I grew up in a state surrounded by water…i’ve seen walls on the inside of houses ‘sweat’… I know humid… it will be okay and of course I’m a big fan of air conditioning!! smile! Then i’m told  the list of wild animals and snakes …yikes!! Well… I’m brave, I’ve lived in Michigan and California and I know that there are many definitions of ‘wild animals’ and certainly of ‘snakes’….

I also find others try to comfort me with the crazy decision by telling me … “well, Austin is progressive…and you need that because … you know…you are , well, your artsy…” hmmm okay… I’m totally good with that… I get it , I do!  ! I’m a 6 foot, mostly vegetarian ( i eat chicken.. don’t start with me) tree hugging, animal loving ,  Buddhist…!  … Lets be honest, that’s a whole lot of  ‘different’ anywhere I would choose to live….!

I’ve actually only been to Austin twice and since my mom will be moving with me we went together to scope it out… So… we get off the plane and a gentleman helped my mom with her carry on before I could get to it…nice… then off to the baggage area…again another gentleman got the bags off the turnstile  when I was reaching for them , tipped his hat and said “not a problem”….whaaaa????   I left mom with the bags ( yes, I know how that sounds…) and went to find the car rental in another terminal.. I went through the automatic sliding doors and the heat and humidity hit me… (we went in August) and I said aloud…(thankfully no one was close by) “oh hell no!”…. sigh… and off I went to get the car… I was mad!    seriously …Mad…over weather?…I was going to need wine and meditation!

Later that day,  We met our Realtor, Rhonda Riley… ( yes I love the alliteration!) and she drove us??? !! What? in California they would rather you follow them..or meet them… so this was totally odd to me… she undoubtedly thought I was nuts because I kept saying “we have a car”….”you don’t have to drive us … ” and so the process began… I find i’m very “california” in my attitude… I’m guarded…( i’m also the daughter of an attorney so I can only answer a question with a question … and with suspicion…) As this lovely woman is trying to find out about me and what i’m looking for … i’m thinking…. nope nope nope… as we are passing the various pawn shops and tire places… nope. ( holy moly my princess was rearing her ugly head) But as the stars align.. I find out that Rhonda is an animal lover!! yes!! I can carry on a conversation about animals… !! whew! She took us around that first day to see a couple of the houses… that evening as mom and I were getting ready for bed I said…” I hate it here”… yikes!! Mom said, “okay, I’m happy wherever you decide as long as i’m close to you and the girls… so just call Rhonda and tell her we are leaving tomorrow and this isn’t for us”….yay!!

… hmmmm…. as I sat crossed legged on the hotel bed… I looked at the the sheets of houses and info Rhonda gave me… water close by … CHECK… place for mom and her animals.. CHECK… Land for me to build and start a business…CHECK… no associations so I can have my dogs and my business…CHECK… crap. I realize there is nothing wrong with Austin,…. its ME. dammit.  So I decided to take off my California girl panties and put on my big girl adventure panties!!

The following day, we saw more houses and spaces and places than I can even recall…. ( of course I can’t remember if I had lunch…) and my perspective changed. I love love a project, I’m not happy here , paying for ‘good weather’… its just dumb. I don’t live a cool California lifestyle , at the beach, surfing and all that stuff… and the cost of living in Austin is 57 percent less than it is here…. i’m good with that!! When the “hot humid ” weather becomes too much… I can afford to go somewhere!!

So i’m choosing Austin… I’m completely excited about the idea of starting again… i’m also completely terrified… i’ll be moving my Mom .. her 2 dogs and 2 cats and my 3 dogs… its a whole other feeling of terror to be so responsible for so many, when I will be so alone. Maybe that’s why I decided to share this journey!!

 

 

 

Preparing for Market…

When I started to announce that I was thinking of moving… everyone asked…”are you ready for market?”….um… yes?, Noooooo…. I was not. I had no idea what  “ready for market ” is about…. I should probably tell you that this is first time I’ve sold a house or bought one… and I’ve never bought a vehicle… but that’s another blog for another time!

Now I watch all things HGTV… but when I decided to have my tile roof washed…. it was whole ‘house of cards’… pun intended… holy crap!! and I mean that in the literal sense… but I’ll back up …..

I had a guy come to give an estimate… and he said ” when was the last time you had the roof washed?”….(as we are looking up at the green algae growing on one side…) and I look at him and say…”uh… about 10 years ago???” (completely lying and he knew it!!)  ( what? you have to wash the roof? isn’t that what rain is for? whaaaaa????) CRAP! I hate Ken right now! surely this must be some kind of boy knowledge!! dammit! so they came with air compressors and hoses…it took 5 days…and the day after they were done I went outside to walk around and take a look see!! oh my holy heaven evil smell on earth!!… pure decomp…something was rotting… the dogs and I looked everywhere for some poor creature that had bit the dust somewhere along the line…nope… and the next day it was worse…. like, make my eyes water worse… the following day… I held my breath and shoved the dogs out the door and quickly closed it… lit a whole houseful of candles and I didn’t go outside… i’m a fan of denial…divorce does that to you!

My friend Randy came over to help with some of the” Preparing for Market… ” and He insisted (bless him) that we find the smell…it was everywhere…It was in the gutters!!!  “Randy go see if there is a dead animal in there”….the look on his face…yikes! HA!!   Turns out that at least 20 plus years of roof poop, pollution, rotting leaves… bird nests… all washed into your gutters… will make a strong stomach lurch!! It was the image of a diaper gone wrong .. So the gutters came down… all while trying to hold all the, um, crap in the gutter so it didn’t slop out…this process took 4 days… add in patching the holes and repainting the trim … it was another week before I could “get to market.”..I’ll spare you the details of having to try to clean it all off the stucco….sigh. Seriously I just thought a clean roof would make the house prettier….shoot me. There are more outside things that have  to be attended to…but the inside has been the greatest test.

I decided to pack myself…. I knew I needed to go through things…. So I got a Pod, boxes and tape and labels…I was set…. !! a week later… i still hadn’t packed a thing….what the heck? …. so I decided to tackle that one section of the closet…yep a whopping 4 ken shirts…I was being a drama queen…and that’s when I got the black garbage bags…and began the charity pile….!! Next it was time to face Ken’s office… seriously we all call it that… Where is the vacuum ? “in Ken’s office… I don’t even want to tell you the last time he used that office… I’m talking YEARS! Many many Years! I’m amazed how I hung on to just a room.

Then there was my office…wow. It was stacked with divorce…till the stacks fell over and it looked like a big garbage dump… I would just stand at the door and toss…I had an amazing attorney… She was a rock and as she liked to say “I’m the voice of reason”…well the voice of reason was still living in my office years later…. I would have set it on fire…but the office is in the house and well, you know, fire is bad!!   I sat at the doorway… there were documents , pictures, emails, bank statements, tax returns… from allllll the years of marriage. I finally remembered someone once saying “how do you eat an elephant?” …answer “one bite at a time” sigh…so I tried setting a time limit… ‘you have to be in there for an hour’…uh no.   An hour was time to re-read cards and emails and emails to his mistress…. nope nope nope.  So I went to 10  minutes I glanced and pitched!  and when my phone  beeped at 10 minutes I ran out of the office and did a happy dance that rivaled a quarterback in the end zone! …yes, I lead a slow life sometime!!

The rest of the house has been easy peasy… I kept the wedding china… I picked it out to begin with and I like it… it didn’t  seem to be attached to the house or Ken… cool. I’m at the tail end of this part of the journey and i’m glad i got through it at my own pace with my own decisions about “stuff”…. Nobody can really do it for you… I learned to make the… keep  pile, the throw away and the “I can’t deal with it right now” pile!! But I have 5 pods all set to move to Texas!! and when I get there… it will be a cleaner start! … well I hope anyway!

So now I can , almost, “go to market”…. but there are still things that have to be done!! and I’m sure they will come with their own tales as well.

Thank you for letting me share this journey!

12101

Dear 12101, well its time for me to tell you goodbye… First you should know that you saved me. I know it must seem like I saved you that day I walked In and you looked like a magazine layout….in my head! You met all the criteria, Big, Level headed, supportive, solid with soft spots […]

Dear 12101,

well its time for me to tell you goodbye… First you should know that you saved me. I know it must seem like I saved you that day I walked In and you looked like a magazine layout….in my head!

You met all the criteria, Big, Level headed, supportive, solid with soft spots and faults. But I gotta admit I could have done without the cigarette butts and rat poo…. and well… that flesh colored carpet….good grief!! I knew I could love you better!

you weathered every storm the best you could… remember when I first moved in and slept on the family room floor on a mattress ? Ha! I’m sure you thought another crazy person had moved in… and i’m pretty sure its still debatable on certain days.!

As I figured out the whole “having a house” thing … There was the fire… you stood strong as all the trees and neighborhood houses succumbed to the flames… we lost most of your yard…but we built a better fence… a block wall! and my love affair with the yard began! And then, El nino… holy smokes!! we found the leaks in your roof!! And I found out that if you sit in a pool of water as more water comes in, and you cry… it doesn’t solve a thing…and if you put big plastic storage bins under the deluge of leaks… you can’t move them when they are full and you have to pour them out on the floor…. there is a serious life lesson there…smile!

You have been a deciding factor in my character…. I spent the first 6 years crying myself to sleep..The work you required was totally out of my wheel house and I quickly learned that contractors are a scary bunch…so I decided to learn about tools…..with each trip to home depot… and tile row, I got stronger! I was buying tile  when Ken called to tell me he was taking his mistress to Cabo… and I still had the presence of mind to order extra tile in case of breakage…! odd…I of course sat in the parking lot and cried for 2 hours straight..

I have muddled , chopped , sawed , glued, and nailed my way through this haven. Yes it has been a lot of money! and crying!!! Lord the crying!! But I think I’ve come through this whole and so have you!! I am forever grateful for this opportunity in my life… I am physically and emotionally stronger than I ever imagined! But its time for me to move on … to the next project! And for 12101 to be loved by a family that will use all the rooms, the pool and the huge backyard.

love Meg

Ps. there will be more crying when I leave for good!!

12101

Dear 12101,

well its time for me to tell you goodbye… First you should know that you saved me. I know it must seem like I saved you that day I walked In and you looked like a magazine layout….in my head!

You met all the criteria, Big, Level headed, supportive, solid with soft spots and faults. But I gotta admit I could have done without the cigarette butts and rat poo…. and well… that flesh colored carpet….good grief!! I knew I could love you better!

you weathered every storm the best you could… remember when I first moved in and slept on the family room floor on a mattress ? Ha! I’m sure you thought another crazy person had moved in… and i’m pretty sure its still debatable on certain days.!

As I figured out the whole “having a house” thing … There was the fire… you stood strong as all the trees and neighborhood houses succumbed to the flames… we lost most of your yard…but we built a better fence… a block wall! and my love affair with the yard began! And then, El nino… holy smokes!! we found the leaks in your roof!! And I found out that if you sit in a pool of water as more water comes in, and you cry… it doesn’t solve a thing…and if you put big plastic storage bins under the deluge of leaks… you can’t move them when they are full and you have to pour them out on the floor…. there is a serious life lesson there…smile!

You have been a deciding factor in my character…. I spent the first 6 years crying myself to sleep..The work you required was totally out of my wheel house and I quickly learned that contractors are a scary bunch…so I decided to learn about tools…..with each trip to home depot… and tile row, I got stronger! I was buying tile  when Ken called to tell me he was taking his mistress to Cabo… and I still had the presence of mind to order extra tile in case of breakage…! odd…I of course sat in the parking lot and cried for 2 hours straight..

I have muddled , chopped , sawed , glued, and nailed my way through this haven. Yes it has been a lot of money! and crying!!! Lord the crying!! But I think I’ve come through this whole and so have you!! I am forever grateful for this opportunity in my life… I am physically and emotionally stronger than I ever imagined! But its time for me to move on … to the next project! And for 12101 to be loved by a family that will use all the rooms, the pool and the huge backyard.

love Meg

 

Ps. there will be more crying when I leave for good!!