Monday, April 30, 2007


Last week was sooooo busy - far more busy that this calendar page can reflect. I'm still trying to recover from it all! It was so nice to spend time with George & Holly. It's just a shame that all that driving made me so exhausted. It's been 3 days since I left Holly at the airport & I'm just now starting to feel like myself again. However, I still have SOOOOOO much to do! We close on the house in just 3 weeks, so I still need to research mortgage options & find a moving truck/company & PACK & ... well, it's a good thing we've started a To Do list. Ugh. Just please forgive me if I get caught up in my own flurry of activity & fail to post details from Girl Fest '07 for a while.

Gotta run. Must go to the bank & pay the rent ... for the LAST TIME!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

First Blogiversary

Today is my mom's birthday (Happy b-day, Mommy!), which means that it is also my first blogiversary! It's amazing what we've been through over the past year. In fact, the last few years just feel chock full of so many big events, both happy and sad. It's astounding what life can throw at you.

But I'm also struck by the little details, some of which I never recorded here in the blog. There have been quite a few dinner parties that never got mentioned in here. And that time that Tim and I drove out to the beach and watched the kite surfer. And even the Sundays that we've spent at Mark's watching Formula One races. So many little things. Maybe I'll try to be better about that in the coming year.

Of course, I have been very open about the whole house hunting situation and I'm SOOOO happy about that because it means that you, dear reader, will appreciate my news.

We got the house.


But which house? Could it be .... this house?

No. Cute, but no.

How about ... this house?

No, not quite. A little too ... crowded. Heh.

How about ...
THIS house?

Yeah! That's the one! That's our house! As you can probably guess, I did not take this photo. This is the only pic of the house available on the internet. It looks like it was taken in late winter because the trees are still missing their leaves. If you look closely, you can see that there's a plum tree right smack in the middle of this pic. See? LOTS of trees. And a cute little porch. And you can even see the scullery there on the side (which other people might call a mud room or laundry room or utility room, but Tim calls it The Scullery, so there ya go). And ... well, I could go on for a loooong time! You'll hear more about this house in the coming months, I'm sure.

Here's how the deal went down.

Remember how yesterday I was so full of woe because I was sure that the other people would out-bid us? Well, I was right. They offered more money than we did. Ya see, our original offer was for the asking price, but 2.5% of that was supposed to go to our realtor for his commission. So even though we were offering the full asking price, the sellers would not have gotten that full price in their pockets. So after they got the 2nd offer, they called our realtor, Jim. And Jim called to tell us the hard news. And we talked. And we negotiated. Because Jim didn't want us to lose this house just because of him. Within 15 minutes, we worked out a really fair deal. Jim called the sellers & told them about our counter-offer. They told him that they would like to "sleep on it".

The waiting began AGAIN.

This was awful. We didn't know what to think. We said that this would be our final offer, so we feared that the sellers would contact the other party & they would counter-offer again and it would all fall apart and I would slip into a horrendous depression & refuse to bathe for weeks. Heavy drugs were considered, as well as various methods of self-mutilation.

Luckily, all of that horrendously terrible waiting lasted for about 10 minutes. The sellers called Jim. They told him that after they spoke to him, they sat down to watch a movie & realized that they couldn't focus on it. They didn't need time to make their decision. They decided that they really like me & Tim & they want us to have the house. No more counter-offers, no bidding wars. They picked us.

When Jim gave me the news, I broke down crying. I'm still surprised by that. Maybe the squeals of glee & bouncing around will come at the closing. For now I just feel shock. And relief. And peace. And surprise. And a subtle tingling of excitement underneath it all.

Our house.
Our first house.
Amazing what can happen in a year, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Episode 8: Offering

Yesterday marked one year since I arrived in North Carolina. Yesterday was also the day we put in a bid on our first house. You'd think I'd be happy. Excited. Brimming with anticipation. I'm not.

So I guess I should back up a bit.

Monday night we went to tour the creamy yellow For-Sale-By-Owner house that I found on Friday. The owners were there during the tour which was kinda strange. I certainly wan't expecting them to be there. So I felt rather odd poking through their kitchen drawers with them in the same room! But Jim the Realtor did his best to snag them into conversations so that they'd focus on him more than us. Yay for Jim!

So the house. My instincts were right. We both really really like it. The layout is lovely. The lot is lovely. Even the bathrooms passed Tim's inspection (by far the best bathrooms we've seen yet). I didn't take pics because that seemed strange, what with the owners standing right there & all! But it's okay. The owners actually seem very nice. And better yet, we like the house. We really like it.

We decided to sleep on it, but the next morning we still felt the same so we told Jim we'd like to make an offer. I spent most of the day with Jim, getting everything arranged. We decided that we wanted to avoid all the crappy headgames that people play in real estate. We just wanted to be open & give them a fair, attractive offer. And since we felt that the asking price was fair, we offered the full asking price. An unusual step perhaps, but we thought it would help. We agreed to their prefered closing date. And we provided proof that we are pre-approved for a mortgage (which is an excellent thing to have in our corner). Indeed, we were able to lock in a very reasonable interest rate, which will certainly make the process much smoother.

At 8:30pm last night, Jim met with the owners to give them our offer. The owners said that they had spoken with some other people about the house so they would like to have 48 hours to consider our offer.
Doesn't that seem a bit excessive? I mean, since we're offering them everything they've requested? Or is it just me?

So. We wait.

A few minutes ago Jim called me. The owners of the house had called. It seems that they will be receiving another offer tonight. After that meeting they will call Jim. Then Jim will call us.


Jim reassures me that we have a lot going for us. He said that the owners genuinely liked us, which definitely helps. Neither of the owners are originally from America so maybe Tim's accent endeared us to them. Plus, ya know, we are nice! Hell, just look at that offer! And of course it helps that we already know that we can easily get the mortgage for a good rate. And we're flexible on the closing date, too. All very good things.

But I have a bad feeling about this. I feel that we will not get this house. I fear that these people who are making the offer tonight are work colleagues of the owners. Maybe they'll go with them just because it would strenghten business connections or something. Or maybe these other people don't have a realtor, which would save the sellers that 2.5% commission. Who knows.

But it is so fucking unfair to think that we might not get this house after all that we have done! If you speak to sellers, 99.9% of the population would kill to find buyers like us! So it's insulting to think we may be passed over. It's giving me terrible headaches and I just feel like crying. I haven't gotten a single thing done today because I'm so upset. I haven't even eaten. I'm just distraught. Jim says to think happy thoughts & eat some chocolate (yes, this is my realtor telling me to do this!). He's trying to be positive. I just told him that I'm glad he's talking to the sellers for us because I am far too emotional to deal with this myself.

But I don't have a good feeling about this. Here's hoping this is just my pessimism rearing its ugly head. And here's hoping I'm in a better mood when I make my next post.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Episode 7: Hope & intrigue

Friday the 13th was good to me! Hooray! Here's how it went down, as the young folks used to say.

1. I took our pre-approval application forms to the mortgage broker lady. About an hour later she called & said that we easily qualified! We're pre-approved! And that's without checking international credit. Wee! This is important because this is that tiny bit o' official documentation that we need before we can actually make an offer on a house. And we also have a very good idea of how much the banks will allow us to borrow & how much we need to have for a down payment. These numbers weren't a big surprise, though, because I did my homework. Sometimes it's good to be addicted to the internets.

2. Shortly before 6pm we toured a house. This is the blue house that costs almost exactly the same as the Mauve House, but is on a prettier, more private lot & it does not need any rennovations. No paint, no gutters, no flooring, no nothin'. It's in perfect shape. It's also about 25% smaller. Hmm. We thought it was worth a look. And it was really adorable inside. Truly.
But the bathrooms.
It's always about the bathrooms with us, isn't it. I think if we were able to spend 25K more, we'd be able to get a house with Tim's dream bath. As it is, we're just looking for something that doesn't make us claustrophobic or suicidal. The baths in this house were tiny & cramped (only a thin shower in the master) so Tim's nose wrinkled. And that was that. Honestly, there were a couple other things wrong ... like the strange, tacked-on breakfast room that overlooked the parking pad (?!). A total waste of space for us.
The best things about this house, though, were the 2 cats that live there. Simply put, these were my dream cats. There was a marmalade kitty and a smaller tuxedo kitten. And they were the sweetest, friendliest, most lovey-dovey kitties on the planet! LOVED them! Too bad the cats don't come with the house or they might've had a sale. But since that isn't the case, we moved on.

3. Between dropping off paperwork with Mortgage Lady and touring the cutesy blue house with the amazing cats, I went on a little drive around the neighborhood. I won't name it here in the interest of privacy, but in many ways the name does not matter. There is only one neighborhood for me. And honestly I suppose we should call it a "community" because of the size of it and all of the ammenities, but that sounds rather soulless. "Neighborhood" is better. And I love this neighborhood. I decided about a week ago that I am no longer interested in looking at any houses outside of this particular neighborhood. It just feels right. So when anyhing goes on the market in it, I wanna know.
Anyway, I was driving along, checking out some houses that Jim the Realtor had e-mailed to me when I saw a sign out of the corner of my eye.
For Sale By Owner
Hmmmmmm ...
I turned around & pulled into the cul-de-sac. And oooooh my. Ooooh my. So pretty. I would have taken a photo, but the neighbors across the street were doing yardwork & I thought I would look too suspicious. Here are the basics:
Two stories. Very pretty lot with oodles of trees and shrubbery. And the exterior of the house looks very nice, too. It isn't a cookie-cutter house, but it still looks classic. Me likey.
"But certainly we can't afford it," I thought. "It'll be just outside of our price range. Oh, but look! Fliers!" I parked the car, walked around to the sign and took a flier.
The house is in our price range.
The square footage is the same as the mauve house BUT it's on a much prettier, much more private lot! Just what I wanted!!! And the floor plan was printed on the flier, so I can tell that the layout looks very promising.
Phone calls were made. We can't tour it this weekend (the husband is out of town & I guess wifey doesn't feel comfortable showing it before he comes back), but we will be touring it Monday evening.
The house isn't listed on or anything like that, so there's very little competition at this point. This is good. I feel very good about this. Can't wait until Monday!!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Episode 6: Financing and doubt

We are finally getting our crap together and applying for pre-approval for a mortgage. Took us long enough, right? Sorry, but I've never bought a house before so I'm kinda fuzzy on what one does when. Anyway, we're getting our details together & filling out paperwork. And we've sadly been reminded that we do NOT look good on paper. Everybody keeps saying, "Don't worry about it! You'll be able to get a loan from somebody." Yes, but whom? And at what percentage rate?
And to compound all of this, two houses just came up for sale in the same community ... two houses that are smaller square-footage wise, but which are on gorgeous lots and don't need new roofs, gutters, or exterior paint.

We haven't even put in an offer and I'm already having buyer's remorse.

But that's good, right? Because it means we haven't made the wrong decision yet. So it's okay. Right? Or am I just too picky? Or are my commitment issues rearing their ugly head? And yes, I do have commitment issues. Big ones. I think one of the reasons why I like theatre is because I know I won't be tied down to one thing forever. There's always another play, you know? Lord only knows why my commitment issues don't affect my marriage (and thank our blessed zombie Jesus for that, right?), but I certainly am commitment-phobic in other areas of my life.

It'll be so nice when George gets here & can give me her opinion or slap me around or whatever. I'm sure she'll think that all of these houses are painfully cute & suburban, but it's nice to have a friend who will give you an honest answer. If I showed these places to my few girlfriends here in NC I'm sure they'd just politely tell me that everything looks lovely & that I should just do whatever makes me happy. That's fine and all, but it isn't what I need. There's nothing like an old friend who has known you forever.

Speaking of friends, I may have a new one. I met her on-line. Her husband is a games programmer & they're moving down here so he can take a job. They will be moving down here to the Triangle this month. And the house they bought is within a mile or two of all of the houses we've been considering. How random is that! We get along great in e-mail & I think we may have quite a few things in common. I told her in my latest e-mail that Tim and I met on a feminist message board. If she's cool with the F Word then I think we'll be fine. Fingers crossed!

Randomness ...
Kvetch: Tim is having tooth issues. The crown that Dr. Monty gave him last year no longer wants to stay on.
Anti-kvetch: Meatloaf for dinner!
Kvetch: 3 zits on the middle of my face all at the same time. What am I, 15? Geez.
Anti-kvetch: There's another F1 race this weekend!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The last 5 minutes: A short play

Mary: [reads george's latest post]

[gets to the end of the post and sees that george bought the plane tickets]

[does classic double take & reads that part again]


Crap, now I gotta clean the guest room! ;)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Mauve House (AKA Episode 5)

The Mauve House is an interesting place. I've tried to come up with a good nickname for it, but it's just so ... mauve. You can't get past the color when naming this house. I think that's the building's biggest problem. It's ... mauve. And not an attractive shade of mauve, might I add. There's a lot of grey in it, so it looks rather sad & unloved. And the grey shutters & roof just emphasize that sadness. It's dreary. It's dowdy. It looks the way I feel on those days when I don't get dressed & I just lie around all day in my robe. A truly despondent shade of mauve.

Have you ever noticed that it's nearly impossible to say "mauve" quickly? That "au" bit just draaaaags itself out. And is it pronounced "mAHv" or "mOHv"? Merriam-Webster approves of both pronuciations and we honor that in our little family (Tim says "mOHv"; I saw "mAHv". Kinda like how we don't pronounce "capillaries" the same). But either way you say it, you can't help but drag out that vowel sound. Mauve. Maaauuuuve.

Anyway, about this house. The first time I saw it, I was not exactly impressed. Hated the color. Noticed that it had no guttering. And this made me suspect that the roof was probably 20 years old. I instantly imagined that the interior would be in worse shape than The Bad Boyfriend & quickly moved along. But one night our realtor, Jim, had it on our list of houses to see. We were scheduled to tour 4 houses that night & I thought, "Oh, what the hell. I'm sure Tim will hate it, but we can always leave."

Well, I was wrong. I liked it. I liked it! But I was still sure that Tim would hate it, so I didn't investigate it thoroughly. But the next morning when I woke up, this was the house I was thinking about. The Mauve House. We toured other homes, but still ... The Mauve House stuck with me. And I was wrong about Tim because he actually liked the house! So I thought about it for a week as we toured other homes. Then on Thursday I talked to Jim and told him that I just needed to tour it one more time. So on Thursday night, we took another walk-through.

And god help us, we really like it.

The square footage is generous. The layout is nice. The storage is amazing (lots of big closets & the biggest kitchen we've seen, and the crawl space is tall enough for our bikes). Even the bathrooms are up to Tim's standards. And if we want to expand the master bath & get the garden tub we long for, it could easily be done with very little sacrifice. The interior has almost everything we want. There were even two "signs" that I'm sure mother would love:
1. There is a stained glass window in the stairwell that features a cardinal
2. The back yard is currently covered in wild violets.

But the exterior. Oh my. Besides the horrific color, the house is at the end of a cul-de-sac, so there are streets on two sides. Plus the neighborhood walking trail runs along the back of the property. Luckily, the house is set up on a slope, so there's no way that people using the trail could look into the house. But still. It could use a little help. It could use a few more trees in the back & maybe a few more bushes along the side. It already has a good bit of vegetation, but it could use a little more. No big deal.

We decided we need to know more. So on Friday Jim hit the books & called a bunch of people. He even had someone go out & give him an estimate on painting the place & putting up gutters (the roof man will see it next week). He unearthed various bits of information, but the most surprising fact is that the house has been on the market for much longer than we originally thought.

This house has been for sale for a. whole. year. Twelve months. I'm not kidding. Why? What is the problem? Is it haunted? Did a horrific crime take place there? Could it really be just that it's so ... mauve? The investigation continues.

Random news
Last night I experienced 2 "firsts" in my life:
1. My first professional hockey game (Our team lost. Boo.)
2. My first snow in April. Snow! Not a lot - maybe a quarter of an inch - but enough to accumulate in places. Eeeee!!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Out of Order

Due to technical difficulties that I cannot fix at the moment, today's blog post is currently showing up below yesterday's post. I know how to fix it, but that would require using the right button on my mouse ... a button that has died within the past hour. I wish I were kidding. Anyway, please scroll down to below the anniversary post in order to read today's post. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Best. Wife. EVER.

Late in April last year, shortly after we moved to North Carolina, we got a phone call from Peter & Susan - my brother- & sister-in-law in London. While talking to them, it hit me that their 2nd wedding anniversary had passed just a few days before.
Me: "By the way, happy 2nd anniversary! Sorry I didn't sent you anything."
Susan: "Oh, don't worry about it. Nobody remembers your 2nd wedding anniversary, anyway."

I thought it was interesting that there was absolutely no sense of sadness or disappointment in Susan's voice when she said that. But now I understand. On Monday Tim and I celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary and we made no big deal about it. No cards. No expensive gifts. Indeed, I gave him a jar of his favorite peanuts & he gave me some gummy dinosaurs. Junk food. That's what we gave to one another on our 2nd wedding anniversary. And we loved it.

Note that this is quite different than our elopiversary which takes place in February. On April 2nd two years ago, we stood in front of our families and exchanged vows & took lots of photos and ate some fantastic cake. Of the two anniversaries, it's the day that means the most to me. When my mother thinks back on that day, I think her eyes well up with tears. That's probably why she remembered to send some flowers.

But despite the fact that this anniversary is supposed to mean more to us than to anyone else on the planet, we've been very lazy in celebrating it properly. Last year we packed up our apartment on our anniversary. But at least we had a plan. This year we didn't even have that. I figured we would just stay at home, make a little dinner, & watch a David Attenborough nature show.

Well, things didn't go quite as planned. Late in the afternoon on the day of our anniversary, I got a phone call. My cell phone said that the call was from Tim.
Me: "Hello!"
Mystery voice: "This isn't who you think it is."
It was our friend, Mark. Mark works with Tim. Mark called to say that .. well, I'll spare you the details. Basically, the team's boss was going to take the team out for dinner to celebrate the completion of a project. When did he want to take them out? That very night. The night of our anniversary.

An ordinary wife would have said no. No way in hell. An ordinary wife would have said that her husband better come home & enjoy his freakin' wedding anniversary with his charming, gorgeous, & wonderful partner. An ordinary wife would have been enraged that her husband would even consider asking this ... and probably even more pissed off because he made his friend do the dirty work for him.

But not this wife.
The fact is I felt miserably sick Monday. Aunt Flow had kicked in the front door of my uterus that morning & was making herself comfortable (and making me rather uncomfortable). I'd managed to take care of the taxes that day & even went to the grocery store, but I was on my last legs and I soooooo did not want to cook dinner. I just wanted to lay on the couch and be alone for a few more hours with my precious, precious bottle of ibuprophen. To me, the idea that somebody out there wanted to feed my husband for free sounded like the best anniversary gift I could receive.

So yes, I let my husband go out with the guys on our anniversary. While he was gone, I baked us a cake. And Tim decided to bow out a little early from the celebrations & got home by 9pm. So we still got to curl up on the couch together & eat cake while watching a David Attenborough DVD.

It was just what I wanted.

Real Estate Madness, Episode 4

I have a weakness for handicapped animals. When I go to and look at the dogs and cats available, I intentionally look for pets featuring a little green heart next to their listing. That green heart means that this is a special needs pet. A handicapped dog. An imperfect cat. A cuddly friend who is often overlooked by others, but who will love you dearly if you just give them that little extra time and attention they need. I think my ideal dog is probably 8 years old, greying around the muzzle, and missing a leg.

And it seems that my taste in houses is similar to my taste in dogs.

So, we've been touring houses. With the help of our realtor, we have toured 6 homes since giving up on The Bad Boyfriend. Most were promising in their own right, but two have stuck out in my mind more than the others.
1. The Three-Legged Dog
2. The Mauve Monster
Today I'd like to tell you about The Three-Legged Dog.

When we first saw this house, we really like it. The lot is gorgeous. There's no garage, but the parking situation is great. The rooms were spacious without being too big. And the sunroom/breakfast area that looks out on the back yard is simply to die for (It looks better in person than in the photos). Yes, it's a bit old and feels slightly dated, but a few cosmetic changes would fix all of that. As we walked around, we felt certain that we had found The One.

(Tim is sneezing. :) )

Good bones. Very promising.

But the bathrooms. The bathrooms!!!!! The Bad Boyfriend had bad baths, but these were a step beyond. Tim actually refers to the master bath in this house as the Slit-Your-Wrists Bathroom because it is so bleak and depressing. The sink in the master bath actually had a big black crack/hole in it. It kinda looks as though it has been worn through, if that makes sense. Note that this is a cultured marble sink. I cannot imagine how the owner accomplished this damage, but there it was. Worst of all, though, were the bathtubs. Plastic. Flimsy, greenish-grey, cheapy plastic bathtubs. And the walls around the tubs were made of the same awful greenish-grey plastic, but they did not seem to be sealed properly. I could easily imagine the water damage that lurked beneath. And did I mention that they were small & that both bathrooms were crammed up against one another in the corner of the 2nd floor? A slight renovation might be possible for those bathrooms, but they could never be expanded. I think I might be able to live with the size. Tim, however, could not.

I've spent a good deal of time thinking about this house. I keep thinking of that upstairs layout & trying to find a way to make it work Maybe if we take out the master closet and ... no. Perhaps if we shift the washer and drier into the next bedroom and ... no. I don't see how we could make it work. Even if I could, it is bound to cost tens of thousands of dollars - dollars we don't have.

Oh well. Tonight we will be looking at The Mauve Monster again. Details to come ...