coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Saturday, April 19, 2014


The general house inspection and termite/pest inspection both took place on Thursday of this past week.   Once again, it is a foreclosure.  However, it is not a Fannie Mae owned property like house #1 was.  House #2 is owned by a bank.  As with so many houses for sale down here, it has been sitting vacant for a couple of years while the bank forecloses on the poor unfortunate prior owners who bought the place during the housing bubble and then lost it when the economy bottomed out, they lost their jobs, and the banks refused to work with them to keep their house.   Consequently, you will find the disgruntled prior owners often do some cosmetic damage throughout the house before they leave.   They might punch in a closet wall, or put hand prints on the walls.   They will pull pictures off the walls without caring that part of the wall comes with it; angry and obvious things like that.   I imagine they think they are sticking the bank with repairs.   However, the banks do not care enough about the properties to repair them. 

In addition to cosmetic patching, painting, and replacing carpeting,  the house needs a new roof and the air conditioning/heating no longer works.   The bank either does not know or is remaining silent on these two big ticket issues.  Foolish if the latter, because no potential buyers will be able to get insurance or financing for a house with these particular problems.  These important bargaining issues need to be resolved during this inspection period when we have the ability to rescind the offer and walk away if need be.  If the bank will come down to our satisfaction to fully address those issues we will pursue buying house #2.   If not, we will move on and start again.   Depressing, because the house has great potential and we love the area it is in, but we no longer have time to play games.   We want to be in a house before hurricane season starts...

I enjoyed the house inspector.  He was a big guy, sweet and chatty.  Just before I met him I overheard him talking to his "Momma" on the cell phone, telling her that he loved her.   When I shook his hand, I said "I am always happy to meet a man who loves his mother."   He replied in earnest, "Well, you know they need a lot of love." 

Saturday, April 12, 2014


The NYS house closed on Thursday.  It was a bit anticlimactic since it was two long weeks later than originally predicted; however, beggars can’t be choosers.  We are happy this major hurdle is behind us now.  I try to imagine the new family taking the bundle of keys and manuals they received at closing to the empty house to explore their new home.  I hope they are falling in love with the old house, the 1.6 acres of land, and with themselves.  I hope that is what happened.   However, my bruised, anxiety laden psyche taunts me, whispering they are inside the house raving about the carpet being dirty, the lack of closet space, the inadequate lighting. Worse, I imagine the snow is now melted and the land out back is flooded, as it often is at this time of the year. With all the snow cover they could only imagine what the land was like.  Now for the first time they will see the ridiculous number of perennial garden beds we created.  Sure, those beds will be beautiful in a month or two, but in April they are wet and covered with leaves and sticks and weeds that need to be pulled.  All the beds need to be edged.  They need to figure out how to take the snowplow off the mower and put the mowing blade back on.  I cannot help but imagine they think, “What the hell?  What have we got ourselves into?  What is a weed and what is a flower? 

OK, OK, I realize we knew nothing when we were a young family and first moved in there.  We learned everything from books, trial and error, and hard work, and it was our pleasure for many years.  Working on the house and gardens was a joyful hobby.  It provided an escape from the work-a-day world and gave us a chance to build our homeowner skills and confidence. We reveled in the privacy of the setting, and communed with nature.  Every task was filled with hope for the future.  We were building the future.  It was great.   It was great when we were young like these new owners are young.  They will be fine. That particular “future” has become my past.  It is a part of my life that is over with the sale of that house and those garden beds.  I do not yearn for it yet.  I expect I will at some point, though.  For now I rarely think about it except to worry that the weeds are taking over.  

Last night we heard that we have a signed contract for the new house in Florida.   Next week we will have house, pool, and termite inspections done.  That will tell us if this house is in the cards for us.   If so, then we can start building a new future.   It needs some work, especially outside.  I have some ideas for really beautiful perennial beds.   And you should see the crazy flowers they grow around here.  Exciting.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Living Large

We have moved up in the world from the "Crack" hotel, as T likes to call the (actually reasonably nice) motel room experience we had the first week and a half we were here.  Our small travel trailer now feels like a mansion to us. The whole trailer rocks from side to side when one of us walks inside it. The first time I felt it I thought there was a minor earthquake happening. 

Some more good news: we just heard that the closing on our NYS house is scheduled for Thursday afternoon of this week.   We will be so relieved when that is behind us.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Some Good News at Last!

The movers came yesterday and brought all our household stuff and furniture to the storage unit.  All went well!  You should have seen that monster moving van make the 90 degree turn.  Terrifying.  Well, I actually kept my eyes closed, but T was enjoying it.  I have been filled with anxiety for a week fearing that truck would not make the turn and then we would have to deal with finding another unit that could accommodate a 75 foot moving van while the movers waited on the highway.  T kept trying to get me to look, but I was on the verge of hyperventilating and just could not watch.   I did watch it back up, turn around, and make that turn onto the highway again when all was done and they were leaving the lot.  Those guys are amazing drivers and hard working souls.  Of course, then T wanted me to stop watching the van so we could leave.  I have learned that you just cannot make a man happy! 

I am glad to have that behind us and to know where all our "stuff" is.  It is in a climate controlled unit inside a large secured building, so we do not have to worry about everything melting in the Florida heat.  Oh yeah, no one told us that they expected a certified check upon delivery.   After a few tense moments they agreed to take our credit card.   Just another stressed out moment we did not see coming.  We are learning to take it on the chin, get back up before the count of 10, and live to fight another round.  Luckily, boxing is our favorite sport.   In fact, I would love to beat someone up right now with a whole room full of people watching and get paid for it.   I could'a been a contender.   

Yesterday the bank accepted our offer on the house we now want to buy.  Now we have to start scrambling for lender approval on that.  We also have to quickly get the house and pool inspected because we are shooting for a closing at the end of April.

We are moving from the Red Roof Inn to a travel trailer in a RV vacation resort today.  Should be there for up to 2 months, depending on when our house closing is and what work we have to do to the house before we move in.  Most of the other people who are staying at the resort are on vacation, so I think maybe we will pretend we are, too.  They gave us a great deal and they were the only place we found to rent to us month by month, so we pretty much had to take it.   The monthly rent is 1/4 of what we are paying at the motel.  That makes me so happy.  The travel trailer seems GREAT in comparison to the motel room.  Although, the Red Roof Inn was not as bad as you might think.  Anyway, we are now off to live in sunny, concrete vacation land. 

STILL haven't closed on our house up in New York.    Getting nervous about that.  

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Settle Down!

The people who live next door to our daughter's family have odd ideas about reality.  Of more concern is that since M&MV&E&N moved in last summer, these neighbors have been displaying "big nutball" behavior towards our granddaughter, E.

They have two daughters who E plays with and their parents often judge E harshly because she does not go to church, and they try to make her feel bad about herself and her family.  And the reason they know she does not attend a church is because they quizzed her about it the very first time she was in their house, alone, without her parents.  They NEVER talk to E's parents about these things, by the way.

E is very imaginative and created a "game" all the neighborhood kids are now playing involving wizards turning kids into animals.  Fun stuff if you remember what it was like to be a kid.  The neighbors told them to stop playing wizards because it was "demonic" and then made my granddaughter go home.

These same neighbors called the police on M&MV when M&MV first moved in because they had a moving pod parked in front of the house over a weekend...waiting to be picked up.  They have been telling other neighbors that M&MV are Satanists because M&MV have a collection of Mexican Alebrije ( and also Day-of-The-Dead painted skeletons.  (These are actually Mexican Catholic religious icons "The meaning of the Dias de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead figures in Mexico is to honor those who have died. The figurines are often colorful and playful. They are meant to represent the individuals who have passed away."  see  Well, apparently to fearful and narrow minded people these kitschy decorations appear to be proof of devil worship.   Seriously.   It boggles the mind.

This constant judgment, criticism, and general meanness of spirit directed towards 10 year old E has been heartbreaking and confusing for her.  Last night she was at their house playing, was scolded and sent home. You can imagine how upset she was.  Her father, MV, went over to talk with the mother and I tagged along.  Not one of my best ideas.  I told the neighbor lady to leave my granddaughter alone (and maybe some other stuff) 😜 and then she ordered me off her property.  OK, I might have then said something along the lines of: "Fine!  I'll just walk over to their property line and stand THERE and yell at you."  Hopefully MV had a more productive discussion with her after I was "sent home" (seemingly a common theme for visitors at their house).  I know I misbehaved, but I could not help myself.   Sigh....  I hope they do not try to burn me at the stake.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


The movers came and packed everything up on Monday morning.  We cleaned and then left the house mid-afternoon.  That was very stressful but went well.  It was also all consuming, which was probably for the best.  We did not even notice we were leaving the house for the last time when we drove away because we were too busy fighting about which direction to go in.  Typical “us.”  We decided to let the GPS make the final decision, and the damn thing chose T’s route.  That was annoying.  Consequently, the fact that we had left our home of 24 years for the last time did not hit me for about 20 miles.  Truthfully, it was much easier that way.

We drove about 8 hours and stopped for the night in Staunton, Virginia at a Comfort Inn.   Buddy was zonked on cat downers and was remarkably good.  

The next day we stopped at a rest stop outside of Savanna and noticed that the Stella d'Ora day lilies were just about ready to bloom.  I was so happy and then I remembered that I no longer have any flowers.  Sigh.  Hope the next few weeks are happily productive.  It is a strange time. Still I am excited.

Oh yeah, the Florida house fell through.   The realtor called us in tears two days before we left and she let us know Fannie Mae was canceling the sale because they couldn't get the deed in lieu of foreclosure from the previous owners.  That means the previous owners still own it and Fannie Mae will have to go through the foreclosure process to get clear title to the house. It will take months and then they will have to open it up for offers again.  They said we could bid on it when that happens, but obviously we are done. So we are going to have to start over.  Unbelievable.  We are in good humor, though, and are determined to make the best of this chaotic transition without losing our minds.   There is no acceptable alternative.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Well, I am not sure how to say this without sounding overly dramatic or even pathetic - but we are moving on Monday, March 24 and when we get down to Florida we will be checking into the Red Roof Inn for God knows how long with our cat, Buddy in tow.  We may be there for a couple of months.  Homeless.  Can you believe it?  

The movers will move all our earthly belongings into a rented storage unit in our new “Florida home town without a home.”  We are absolutely at the mercy of Fannie Mae, and they could not care less. They refuse to let us rent until they resolve the damn "deed-in-lieu of foreclosure" issue.  They cannot give us any indication whatsoever about when the closing will be except that "It could be this week, it could be 2 months from now."  Unless we want to cancel the offer the next time they ask for an extension, we have no choice but to wait. We have no choice, no control, just seething anger and dismay.  The feisty old dame in me wants to tell them to shove it (with great force); however, cancelling the offer means we will have to start the house hunting process all over again, which would also take a couple of months. We really like the house and have painfully negotiated a good deal.   Call it denial, desperation, bad decision, but we are not ready to cancel and are going to wait it out at least for another month.  In Florida, in a motel room with T, cat Buddy, and me.  I can hardly convey this information without laughing hysterically.  I feel that instead of writing a blog, I should be writing a screenplay about our life.  Or a pilot for a situation comedy.  And the TV show could easily be called The Aging Female Baby Boomer, because I am aging REALLY fast these days.

As indicated in an earlier post, this sloppiness and continued requests for delayed closing is all too common with Fannie Mae foreclosures since the housing crisis started a few years ago.   It is, as my Mother would say, “A sin and a shame.” 

Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of T, C, and Buddy makes 3.   We are determined to both maintain our sanity and have a good time, assuming our marriage lasts.  Buddy is going to be miserable.   Bless his heart.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

More of the Same

New York house:
We talked to the lawyer yesterday and he is fairly confident the closing will be in the last week of March.   So far all "seems" well with that closing.  Of course, anything could happen at any minute.  I am vigilant and prepared, positively dripping with anxiety.  I have not closed my eyes or turned my back for weeks.  I SO want to leave this old house before the snow melts so I will not be reminded about the perennial beds we are leaving, nor be tempted to start weeding and mulching.   We threw away our wheelbarrow, so would not be able to start mulching anyway.   I am not sure what I think about living a life without a wheelbarrow, by the way.  It is disconcerting.  It will be one of our first purchases in Florida.

Florida house:
Talk about annoying... Fannie Mae does not seem to care about the house or our predicament.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, it seems they "misplaced" the deed-in-lieu of foreclosure from the previous owners and now have to track them down and get it.  In the meantime, we are at their mercy.  Because they are a mindless government bureaucracy, they will NOT let us move in and rent before the closing can take place. "Not their policy." It is like talking to a machine. Our Florida realtor has been valiant and proactive trying to get information and push them along.  So has our lender's agent.  I now have close personal relationships with both those women!  I love the Southern girls.  They are kind and friendly and hardworking.  However, if my realtor tells me "Everything happens for a reason" one more time I may say something I will most certainly regret. 

We have rescheduled our move date with our movers three times...   It is embarrassing, and if the closing on this house is March 28th, then we really need to get out of town soon. Yesterday we made the decision to have the movers come early on the last week of March.  We will then hit the road (with our cat Buddy) later that week - depending on how the cleaning goes.  We found a pet friendly motel in Rocky Mount, NC.  If we have not closed on the Florida house by the time we arrive we may have to put poor Buddy in a kennel until we find a place to stay.  We are asking the movers to wait until after the 28th to deliver our stuff in Florida in hopes that we can take possession of the house by then (we live in hope).  If we have not closed and there is still indeterminate bullshit going on with the closing we will have the movers put all our earthly belongings in storage down there. We will then find a place to rent on a short term basis that allows pets and rent month by month until either we close on the house we want, or we find another place to buy.  Un*&^$@!#believable! We probably could negotiate with the new owners to rent back our current home for another month, but we decided not to.  We are tired of waiting. We want to leave before the spring gardening season hits.  And if all falls through and we are forced to start looking for a new Florida house, then we want to be down there to do it.  In the meantime, the key word is "adventure." 
We are still packing, still hauling junk to the curb, still taking bits and pieces to the Salvation Army. 
This is not fun.

That Nagging Bright Side Thing:
However, in spite of everything, I must admit there is still this spark deep inside me that promises everything.  It is the same spark that used to ignite when I skipped school in high school.  It is that "run away" spark that promises escape, excitement, and fun.  It keeps me going.  That, and knowing I will soon be playing with my grandchildren on a regular basis.  Playing can be done whether we are in a house with a pool or stuck in a seedy motel.  Of course, their parents probably won't let them come to the seedy motel.   Not to worry, they have a house with a pool.  Darn it Bright Side, you think of everything!

Once this buy/move/sell thing is behind me I really have to write about the joys of skipping school.   

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Glitches Galore

The process of selling the house in NYS is moving along fairly well.  The closing date is tentatively March 29th.  But as we have learned, and we have learned a lot recently, nothing is set in stone.  We have a few things to do/repair as a result of the inspection.  It is not surprising that we have to spend some money to sell this place, it being an old house and all that.  We just want it all to work out and be done with it.   We want to move.

We will not be leaving NYS on March 7th after all.  In fact, we probably will not move until towards the end of the month.  We are still having problems closing on the Florida house.  That house, like so many Florida houses, is a foreclosure and is being sold by Fannie Mae - a notoriously difficult proposition. Apparently (and unbeknownst to us until recently) the original owners had offered to give Fannie Mae a "deed in lieu," which essentially turns the house over without having to go through the expense and ordeal of foreclosure. 

Well, Fannie Mae either did not actually get that deed in lieu or cannot find it.  It is not clear which.  As the February 21st closing date approached they became aware that they did not have it and so could not meet that deadline.  They asked for a week's extension to Feb 28th, which we signed off on, even though we had driven down to Florida for the Feb 21st closing.  On Feb 28th they still had not received it so they then asked for a new extension pushing the closing to March 28th. Silly us thought it was a "request." We gave them a March 20th extension thinking it would keep the pressure on them to find the damn paperwork.   Then we rescheduled our movers.  Yesterday we got notification from Fannie Mae (via our FL realtor) that they were not messing around on the March 28th date and if we did not sign a new agreement pushing the closing date to March 28th they would cancel the contract and we would be without a house.  As you can imagine we complied.  Lesson learned. 

Fannie Mae is in now charge of our lives.  Good to know.  Currently the tentative closing is March 28th.  Of course this is cutting it kind of close and we are hoping we do not have to reschedule the movers a third time.  Fannie Mae could still get that deed in lieu any day and the closing then could happen ASAP.  One never knows what will happen next and occasionally something good happens.  It is (not so) simple math.  Probability or something like that.  After all this trauma with buying and selling, when something good does happens it always feels so gloriously good.   Like Christmas.  Like the Cavalry arriving.  Like Mighty Mouse swooping down from the sky ("Here he comes to save the DAYYYYY!").  

We "took the weekend off" by going into deep denial mode, a mental vacation of sorts.  It helped.   Feeling a bit better today.   Almost time for a repair man to arrive.   Gotta go.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Friday was a huge stress day.  It was the first showing of our NYS house to prospective buyers.  Saturday there were two more!  We are happy that there is interest. We have cleaned and cleaned, organized, packed, de-cluttered, and hidden things away in the closets and pantry.  I am driving T crazy with my frenetic anxiety.  I made him wait while we were about to leave before the first viewing so I could quickly clean the toaster oven on our way out.  It caught my eye and begged to be cleaned.  You would have done the same thing if you saw how dirty it was.  Unless, of course, you are a man with your coat on and one foot already out of the door.  Anyone who has sold a house knows how disruptive this process is.  First of all, you have to leave the house and find someplace to go during the showing, all the while struggling to forget that strangers are back at your house judging your furniture and commenting on the ridiculous colors you painted the bedrooms.  Even when no showings are scheduled you cannot relax into comfortable self-indulgence because the house needs to stay clean.  I am trying to just let go and not care.  It is what it is. 

We have extensive flower gardens and the 1.6 acres are lovely in spring, summer, and fall.  They would be a big plus in selling this place if only people knew they were there.  Currently they are covered in at least a foot of snow and everything out back is gray and frozen.  My sister, ERB, suggested I leave out photos of the yard and flowers so prospective buyers can get some idea of the yard.  Thanks ERB.  It was fun putting a photo board together of the yard.  It felt like I was staging a wake for the gardens.  I guess I am, for me and mine.  Truthfully, it is easier for us to let go of this place in the winter because we cannot see what we are giving up.   As much as I will miss the Zone 5 flowers, I have to remind myself that the thrill of extreme gardening has been gone for a few years now.   We did that, and it is time to do something else.   Like figure out what can grow and thrive in Zone 9. 

Then we got a call from our Florida realtor telling us that the title company is having trouble with the deed on the house we are buying.  It will be resolved but they cannot guarantee it will be resolved by our scheduled closing date – which means it may have to be rescheduled.  We have already booked non-refundable air tickets to go down for the closing we have been expecting.  AND, we have booked the movers to move our stuff down two weeks after the originally scheduled closing.  Plus, our closing date was the absolute last day that the bank (the seller) was allowing.   What the hell?  

I am not a “go with the flow” kind of person.   I want to know exactly what is going to happen next.  OK – taking a deep breath now.   This, too, shall pass.

Still looking for that damn bright side…  Maybe living through this will enable me to reduce my time in Purgatory by a couple of days?  Maybe things will work out quickly and easily?  Stay tuned.