Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Not dead, just moving

Run-down of recent events:
Wednesday, May 23rd: Pack! Pack, I say!
Thursday, May 24th: The movers arrived at 9:30am. The movers finished unloading everything into our new house shortly before noon. AND they didn't break anything! Talk about some kick-ass movers! We still left a lot of little stuff at the old house, though (mainly pantry stuff), so our work is far from over.
Friday: The washer & drier were delivered, but the drier is the wrong color. They brought a blue one. They'll bring a white one to us later, but left the blue one so I could do some freakin' laundry. By the by, I LOVE these machines. Holy crapulence.
Saturday: Ran out to the old house to grab some pantry stuff. The cable man arrived and gave me my blessed internet connection. Yay!
Sunday: Went to Mark's to watch the Monaco race. Boooooring. Ran out to old house to get more food items. Then returned to our new house and cleaned like the dickens! I unpacked all of the kitchen items and then ran to Target to buy a new lamp because ...
Monday: Mom arrived!!! Mom is here for 5 days to see the house & to help with the final details of the move. She loves the house, of course.
Tuesday: Back-breaking labor. The old house has to be cleaned within an inch of its life (or within an inch of our lives, whichever comes first) in order for us to get back our enormous deposit. Tim has to work, of course, but Mom is here to help! Yay Mom! We took a break to eat lunch at the local patisserie/bistro and to stop into the little yarn store so Mom could meet the owner. But other than that, we spent many an hour scrubbing and vacuuming and scrubbing some more and we STILL are not done! Ugh.

So you see, my life is just waaaaaaay too exciting to be posting anything on my blog right now. :P

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The House: first pics

Yesterday while walking through Our House for the first time, I finally got around to snapping a few pics to share with you all. Here are a few of them.

1. The front door as seen from the front path. Notice the pink climbing roses on the handrail.

2. The stairs, carpeted for your stair-sliding comfort. ;) By the by, the half-bath is under the stairs.

3. To the left of the entry, the dining room. The downstairs hallway is to the right in this photo.

4. To the right of the entry, the living room.

5. Here's a view from the back of the living room looking out through the front windows.

6. The breakfast nook, overlooking the deck & back garden.

The Key Fiasco

Yesterday was sooooooo damn exhausting. When it was all over, I had blisters on my feet & felt totally zapped of my strength. That's why I only posted the photo of the keys last night. But oh what we had to endure to get those keys ...

The closing itself was easy. Over the course of an hour we signed dozens of documents & handed over a cashier's check. Luckily, the paperwork was in line just as we were expecting. All we needed were the keys.

Ah, yes. The keys. Those all-important keys.

For those who have never purchased a home before, the seller's portion of the closing is very short. They were there for maybe 15 minutes. Once they co-signed a few documents with us, they were free to go. Unfortunately, they forgot to leave the keys. Once we realized the problem, the attorney called their cell phone. The sellers were at the local university, packing the husband's office. We could have met them at his office for the keys, but the idea of navigating that campus and (worst of all) finding a parking place sounded like a nightmare. They had to go back to the attorney's office in a couple hours to pick up a very large check, so we suggested that they just leave the keys there. No problem, right? Right.

So I chose to stay in town and wait.
And wait.
I got some lunch.
I went to a bookstore.
I talked to people on the phone.
I went to Target and wandered every single aisle.
I even tried on bathing suits because I figured that Murphy's Law would kick in and I'd get a phone call while naked in a dressing room.
No such luck. Four hours had passed. Nothing.

Fifteen minutes before the attorney's office closed, I called to see if somehow I'd missed their call. Nope. They hadn't seen the sellers yet. I started to freak out. We'd signed all of those papers! We'd paid all of that money! We NEEDED those keys! Eeep! The attorney's assistant hit the phones & tried to find the sellers. And then, miraculously, they appeared at the office 7 minutes before the office closed. Luckily, I was right around the corner. When I walked into the office, the clock was chiming the hour. The assistant placed the keys in my eager hands. It was over. It was over! The house is ours!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Episode 12: The first feathers

Recently I was reading a real estate website written by a realtor. I was researching what happens at a closing (Me? Doing internet research?! What a surprise! :P) and at the end of the article, the realtor said something that really opened my eyes. He said that after a closing is complete, a buyer will often say, "Well, it's not like I really own the house. The bank paid for most of it!" But he said that no, that's not true. When you sign that paperwork at the closing, you become a homeowner. You own that house. You just happen to owe the bank a lot of money!

All this is to say that we will be homeowners in less than 48 hours. See those bricks? Those will be ours. Same with the windows. And the deck. And the oodles of trees and bushes. I'm still totally stunned by this. I think I will be for a long time.

Of course, the problem with buying a nest is that then one must feather it. Today we bought our first feathers (although they will be extraordinarily useful feathers); we bought a washer and dryer. The current owners of the house - being the sweet eccentric Europeans that they are - own one of those combo washer/drier all-in-one machines. I cannot understand why they did this to themselves. I've used those machines before (in Scotland and England) & I've always found them to be complicated and slooooooooow. Slowslowslow. It could easily take a couple of hours to wash a load of laundry. And the drying cycle? Forget it. There's a reason why the current owners have drying racks all over the scullery; it's almost faster to air dry your laundry than to use the pathetic dryer that comes in those all-in-one jobbies. No disrespect to the current homeowners (because, honestly, I love them dearly), but I thought one of the few joys of leaving Europe was that you could use a decent washer & dryer set! Luckily for us, they are taking their wacky little contraption with them, giving us the opportunity to buy a fancy schmancy top-o-the-line set.

But what did we get, you ask? Well, ya know those TV ads for the fancy LG washing machine with the steam cycle? That's what we got. Consumer Reports gave them fabulous ratings and Sears was having a sale, so we went for it. We just went with white machines, though, because the fancy colored ones cost extra (and I knew I'd get sick of the colors anyway). But these machines are GORGEOUS. Sleek & sturdy. They have LCD screens, for heavens sake. My washing machine will talk to me in French if I want it to. How freaky is that?!? I'm sure my mother-in-law will be rendered speechless when her sweet little English eyes fall upon the amazing works of modern engineering that will soon find a home in our scullery.

Mkay. Must go. Time for din-din.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Since it's been a week, I thought I should post a wee bit o' an update. Mkay? Mkay!

1. All the paperwork for the loan is DONE! DoneDoneDone! They've sent it all over to the closing lawyers & everything. No more searching for old tax forms! No more nervous phone calls to England to confirm account info! No more! Woot!
2. The appraisal went great. And according to the appraiser, the house is actually worth more than we're paying for it. So we have already earned some equity! Woot!
3. Tim had his annual review at work & got a nice raise. Woot!
4. The closing for the house will take place on Monday. That's right, kids. We will be homeowners as of Monday afternoon. WOOT!

The bad news is that the movers will be here next Thursday & we've barely packed a thing. Also I need to call the various utility companies and get things switched over into our names. But still! Woot!

Thursday, May 10, 2007


My mind was not made to deal with finances. I know this sounds strange because I'm known for being financially responsible, but that's mainly because I fear money. It confuses me. And it bores me. In the past, I have said that the surest way to cure my insomnia would be to repeat words like "mortgage" and "interest rates" and "escrow" into my ear. Just the sounds of those words would send my eyelids sagging.

Strange how those words are now keeping me awake at night.

The last 10 days or so have been hellishly stressful for me. The work involved in picking a mortgage lender was almost enough to give me a stroke. I felt utterly hopeless & overwhelmed by pessimism. I had horrific headaches, dizziness, and even random twitchiness. I barely ate. I slept only a couple hours per night. I couldn't drive. I didn't get dressed for days. I began to feel very odd sensations in my head & began to worry that the stress was affecting the cyst in my brain (the beloved Brain Spider). It was baaaaaaad, kids. Very bad. Loved ones became concerned for my health and urged me to contact a neurologist. But I knew - I KNEW! - that as soon as we were finally able to settle on a mortgage lender, I would feel better. Easier said than done, sadly, but it is done now. Finally. Finally done.

I could bore you with the details, but I see no need to torture you as I have been tortured over the past 2 weeks. Instead, I'll just tell you that (a) despite what we had been told originally, the company we really wanted to work with was able to find the time to work with us afterall and (2) they were able to offer us a rate that will save us thousands of dollars.
If you're looking for proof that there is a God, this may well be it. Or maybe it's thanks to the 4-leaf clover from my last post. One or the other. At any rate, once I heard from the manager of the mortgage department at Prefered Lender Co., I suddenly felt such relief. It's all going to be okay now. Whew!

But as the photo suggests, there is still much more to do. There's more paperwork to send to loan officers & attorneys & agents & inspectors. And bills to pay. And boxes to pack. And more money just flowing out of our hands than I care to think about. But the headaches & pessimism are fading. I even managed to sleep last night.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


This morning - for the first time EVER - I found a 4 leaf clover. Then I found another. And another. Then I decided to stop looking because that seemed greedy.

But the point is that this has NEVER happened to me before! When I was a kid, I spent sooooooo much time looking for 4 leaf clovers with friends. And every time one of them exclaimed, "Found one!" my heart sunk a little. It never happened. And eventually I convinced myself that it would never happen. No 4 leaf clovers for me. I decided I just wasn't lucky enough.

Fast forward to last week. A few times while George and Holly were here, they mentioned how lucky I am. And I have mixed feelings about that. It's true that I have a sweet, loving husband. It's true that I don't have to work anymore. It's true that we're about to move into the cutest freakin' house ever.

But this Stepford-Wife existence isn't quite as blissful as people might assume. Frankly, it's rather lonely. And there are other not-so-pleasant issues in my life, but I'd rather not discuss them. In fact, I'd rather not discuss a lot of the negative things because when I talk about them too much, I focus on them too much. And that depresses the hell out of me and keeps me from appreciating the good things around me. I don't want to seem ungrateful. I truly appreciate the things Tim and I have accomplished, the place where we are. I feel we are quite blessed. And I find that as I get older, I also appreciate the little things more than ever. I appreciate the roof over our heads, the food in our pantry, the cool breeze that is blowing through the garden, the bunny rabbit that didn't scamper away as I watched it munch on the grass.

Could it be possible that I'm turning into ... [gasp!] an optimist?! Could that really truly happen? Or is it just easier to be an optimist when things seem to be going right? Will this optimism fade this week as I wade through the nightmare called Picking A Mortgage Lender? We shall see.

But my point is that, yes, I am lucky. And you know what? So are you. You don't even need a bit of clover to tell you so. Just look around.