Friday, March 27, 2020

Odds and Ends...

Gracie Update:  She is still hanging in there.

Moving Update:  We are mostly moved into the new place.  There has been a lot of picture hanging, box unpacking, rearranging of stuff in our shed.  I cannot tell you how helpful it has been to be able to put all the boxes of stuff in the shed and give us the space inside to sort out what goes where.

Speaking of the shed, it is more like a warehouse.  With each passing day that we live here, I am more and more appreciative of the prior owners.  Our last house, it turns out, was actually one of the model homes for the neighborhood.  That explained why it had all the upgrades.  This home on the other hand was custom built with everything designed by someone who had really thought it out, then used top quality hardware and craftsmanship.

This shed/warehouse is an example of that.  It is 20 X 40 with windows, a regular door and a garage door.  It has a covered porch which is great for pulling a workbench outside and cutting wood.  Electrical outlets everywhere.  I really, really like it.

The Flooring Update: I mentioned previously that our initial difficulty in getting all moved in was the flooring.  We are done with flooring and it looks great.  We selected carpet for the bedrooms that is the same as what we had in our old house.  We liked it there and like it now. 
For the tile in the rest of the house, we went with the long planks that look like wood.  It really worked out and I don't think we could be happier.

The Patio Update: The next step in getting fully moved in is the hot tub situation.  Currently it is still sitting on the back patio taking up a lot of space, however, yesterday we had the new patio poured.  Let me tell you, it was quite entertaining. 
Getting started

I've often joked about working until I'm in my seventies, but yesterday, the gentleman who did most the work told me he was 71!  I'm not going to lie, the man looked like he had worked hard labor his whole life, but he still had all the skills you'd expect from a seasoned pro.

He could show Bob Vila a thing or two.

When it was all finished, Gracie decided to leave her paw prints for posterity.

Once it is ready, we'll roll the hot tub onto the patio and spin it around (because that's how Eva wants it).  I also need to start working on the electricity to connect it.

I guess the downside of all this action is that the cement truck and the Bobcat definitely left reminders in the yard that they were there.  But we have really good grass out here and I think it will spring back before too long.

Other Things:  Like many of you, I've been Teleworking for the first time in years.  It has been helpful to be home especially when folks come by to pour a cement slab.  But I honestly feel like I've been going at it non-stop.  I made the mistake the first few days of coming into my office with a cup of coffee and logging into my work very early, only to find myself overwhelmed by people asking questions.  By the time I realized I needed to get on a video teleconference, I was in need of a shower.  Yikes, and this is in high definition!  But I've figured all that out now and things are going fairly smoothly.

I hope you are staying home and limiting trips out and about.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

It's Getting Close: Gracie...

More than a decade ago, we had a little dog that we had to have put down.  I never wanted another dog again.  And then my wife retrieved Gracie May from the shelter.  She was the runt of a litter that had been left on the side of the road and while the other dogs seemed to trample on the poor thing, my wife saw her as the one.  I was so mad.

I came home from work and suddenly we had a new puppy and all I could think of was the pain I experienced at handing over our previous dog to the folks charged with putting him down.  There is nothing good about such a task, and now, we were signing up for the eventuality again.

I don't for a minute mean to  put the loss of a pet on the same level as that of a human family member, but if you are a pet parent, you know where I come from. 

Moving back to the country was quite possibly the best gift we could have given Gracie in her final days.  She spends hours, and I mean hours sitting outside, walking around the property and just enjoying the grass and the sunshine.  She'll lay there for a while then get up and go for a walk. 

Sadly, she has lost a great deal of muscle mass, and the little walks she takes actually take a toll on her body.  I've had to pick her up and carry her inside almost daily.  She loves being outdoors so much, but the reality is, I think she is making up for the last four years she spent living cooped up in a small yard.  I just don't think she has it in her to enjoy this open space to the fullest. 
I think animals know when it is time, and I think Gracie knows it is time.  I've caught her walking off to the back of the property as if she just wants to go off and lay down and be done.  This sounds horrible, but I think the birds of prey around us know this.  I had to shoo away a huge bird that just landed and decided to walk to her as if he was licking his chops.

This evening, I think she really overworked herself.  I carried her from pretty far out, then gave her a pain pill because she was in such pain she just hobbled around.  In a perfect world, I wake up one morning and she has passed in her sleep.  Realistically, we are making a trip to our vet and Gracie goes to sleep as we hold her. 

I'm sorry to say, but I think we are getting close to that day.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Moving Right Along...

There is absolutely nothing fun about moving, that I can think of anyway.  When you have the self-inflicted stress of installing all new flooring added in, and the need to move a huge spa, there is a lot of coordination involved.  The problem is, while we are dependent upon a lot of other people doing their parts, we aren't their priority.  This is Adulting 101.  And I should add, flexibility is the key to air power.

I don't want to burden any readers with a whining recap of everything that went wrong because there were several things that caused delays or cost me money.  I mean, the important thing is, we have the new house and we have met the nice neighbors, and to relax the first weekend, I mowed about half the property.  That is a positive thing.

We spent several nights on an air mattress at the new place though I think the going back and forth between the new house and the old house was causing a bit of stress for our dog Gracie.  I feel like she gives me this look that says, "Choose already!"  

The good news is, while a bit timid at first, she seems to really like the open space and has been doing quite a bit of exploring while staying very close to the house.  On top of that, she had an appointment with our vet who was surprised to see she is doing a little better than she expected.

My big excitement came with going to Tractor Supply and picking up my new Bad Boy Maverick.  It is a 60 inch Zero Turn Mower that can cut some grass in a hurry.  I was able to rent a trailer from TSC for $14.99 and bring it home immediately rather than pay $200 for delivery and have to wait.   I wish I had video of me returning the trailer  and backing it in like a pro.

I've always seen these lawn guys whipping around on the zero turn mowers and they make it seem so easy.  Let me assure you, this is not like your typical riding mower with a regular steering wheel.  I thought enough of both the mower and the property to take the mower all they way out to the back of the property, then give myself plenty of room to practice turning.  I swear, it is not very intuitive and sure enough, I had a few close calls with the fence, a random log and several small bushes I hadn't planned to mow over.  But after some practice, I was ready to take on the yard for real.


Moving the hot tub from the old place was made more difficult by the fact that I had installed a small pavilion over the top of it.  The hot tub was leaving, the pavilion was staying.  This caused the guys from Simon Says to have to maneuver this huge tub to an exact spot, then push it all the way clear of the posts, then figure out how to stand it up on its side without hitting the overhang of the pavilion.  Yea, pure blind luck, I had maybe two inches to spare.

For now, we have the tub sitting on the back patio of the new house waiting to have a new, new patio put in place for it to be installed.  I think we'd love to be enjoying a nice soak now, but there is so much to do, we can wait.

The next day, the movers came to get all our furniture.  Our plan had been to move all the odds & ends ourselves and leave just the heavy lifting for the movers. This worked well and saved us money, but mostly because we were very organized in how we had everything propositioned in just a few areas in the house.  This also allowed us (mostly Eva) to clean rooms and then close them so within an hour or so of the movers being gone, we were able to turn over the house to the new owners and not feel like we left them any sort of mess.  That house was showroom ready when we departed.

We did have a minor problem getting out of the house though.  Prior to the movers showing up, I wanted to pull the refrigerator out so we could clean behind it.  I went to disconnect the water line so we could pull it all the way out.  Yea, that didn't go so well.  I got soaked and the kitchen was a near flood.  $189.00 later, we had a new water cut-off installed for the new homeowners.  Damn, plumbing is a moneymaking operation.

The problem on the other end was that we still had no tile in the new kitchen.  That meant up until Friday evening, our refrigerator was sitting in the dining room.  But as I write this early Saturday morning, almost everything is in place.  Still waiting on one final thing for the flooring before I can put my office together.  In fact, that is the only room in the house not ready to live in. 

Just want to say, as impressed as we were with the hot tub movers, the moving company for the rest of the house was doubly fantastic.  A friend of our recommended these guys, Einstein Moving.  They are a small business with offices in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and are based in Austin.  They had four guys, two trucks, and these guys worked as a team, they ran from the truck to get the next item, and they all seemed so positive.  Plus, they were super careful to put pads around the doors, they wrapped everything, I mean, everything.   It was a great experience and they were done loading up and putting everything in place in the new house in about five hours. 

I promise, next time there will be some pictures to share and my big rant on how difficult it has been to get the right Internet and the right TV service.  Yes, I'm suddenly interested in the plight of rural Americans and the lack of real broadband access.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The First Big Day of Many...

Yea, that little wrench I wrote about the other day?  Water under the bridge. 

Today is Monday.  I had originally planned to be sitting at the new house, sipping coffee while we wait for the tile installers to show up, but no, I'm sipping coffee in the old house waiting for 1 PM when we close on the house.

We did sell this house on Thursday but the buyers couldn't do their part of the closing until late Friday afternoon which made it too late to fund our closing of the new house.  There is a 3-day closing disclosure requirement that the buyer's lender seemed to forget.  I know these rules are created with good intentions, but honestly, the outcome for me was crappy.  But as I say, water under the bridge.  In spite of the fact that we lost an entire weekend of moving stuff and getting the house ready, we just rolled with it and adjusted.

Family Leisure, the place we bought our hot tub from several years really did come through.  We have the hot tub scheduled to move to the new house next week and we were able to reschedule our furniture movers too.  In the grand scheme of things, it was just a weekend.  We made the best of it including meeting my sister and her husband for breakfast at Earl Abel's, then walking the market at The Pearl.

At the current house, there really isn't a lot more we can do to get prepared.  We have the majority of the kitchen packed into our trucks so that Eva can get started setting up the new kitchen while we wait for the floors to be completed.  The kitchen and breakfast nook are the only areas of the house that won't be getting new tile or carpet.  So aside from working on setting up the kitchen, having the Internet people come and set us up, and get an estimate for a new back patio, we can't do a lot in inside the house until floors are done.  I do think this is much better than having to move furniture around while they do the floors.  And I'm sure the installers appreciate it.

Today will be the first day we take our dog Gracie to see her new yard.  And it is a big yard.
(Screen capture from Google Maps)

This poor doggie is really living out her final days and to be perfectly honest, we have been hoping that she would make it to the new house.  She's just old and getting frail.  She's lost muscle mass in her hind legs and sadly, she has some sort of liver condition that won't get better.  She takes a nightly pill to help with the liver issue and we have her on a Hepatic diet.  I have to buy the dog food from the vet because you need a prescription to get it. 
I think we both have a little more gray since this picture was taken.

The good news is, she doesn't appear to be in any pain at all.  She is just an old dog. I honestly hope that running around in the country will perk her up a bit, but at minimum, it will be a nice view for her to enjoy.

But on to more positive things.  Fingers crossed for no last minute stumbles with the transaction. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

An Interesting Wrench...

We've been sitting here casually packing things up getting ready for closing on both properties and the real excitement has been how smoothly this whole process is going.  The move to Lytle is happening soon, but after last night, we found out it will be even sooner than we had planned.

So the buyers of our house did a walk-through of the home so we can be ready to close this Thursday.  The buyer's realtor casually mentioned that we had plenty of time to move and I casually responded that we wouldn't need the full thirty days. 

"Wait.  What?" was her concerned response.

I'll spare you the details, but yes, it appears that in the confusion of having competing offers for the house, Eva and I confused the first offer that had a 30-day lease back with the one that had a 5-day lease back.  Oops!

Look, we are old pros at this.  We've moved many times and most our crap is already either in storage or packed up just waiting for a truck, but the most difficult thing to arrange has been getting our hot tub moved. 

It turns out that most hot tub movers are only equipped to handle your standard 8'X8' hot tub.  Ours is 8' X 11'.  Between companies that just don't return calls or e-mails to companies that admitted that was a bigger job than they could handle, we were stressing about how to get the tub moved.  And now, instead of having a month, we were in a pinch!

I finally called Family Leisure, the company we bought this and our older tubs from.  I explained that their folks hadn't returned any calls and the fact that we just had a sudden change in date for our move so these folks jumped into gear. It looks like they are going to schedule the move for us, so that was a huge relief.

Meantime, I reached out to the company we had lined up to move us in a few weeks and am looking to see if they can come out a lot sooner.  If not, we'll be UHaul'ing the whole house ourselves. 

Like I say, this isn't our first rodeo.  The good news is, we'll just be moved in that much sooner, and that little change of plans is actually pretty exciting. 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Lytle, TX...

It's Saturday morning.  This time next week, I'll be picking up a U-Haul in order to get all the stuff we put in a storage unit to declutter the house before photos, moved into the garage of the new house.  I have thought more than once that we should maybe instead call Goodwill or some charity to just go take it all.  We are not hoarders in the way that you might see on TV, but damn, we have a lot of stuff. There is definitely a huge yard sale in our future.

A few weeks ago we had taken a drive down to Lytle in order to look at the house we are buying, and afterward, we went into a diner called Naomi's.  Naomi was a lady we met years ago at a place we used to go to for breakfast tacos.  We'd see her at the local HEB and her and Eva would chit-chat.  I always told Eva I liked Naomi's hair because she let it go grey.  At any rate, before we moved from Natalia, Naomi told us that she was opening her own diner in Lytle, and four years later, we were visiting for the first time.  She recognized us and we talked for a bit, just to catch up. 

By the way, the food was great, and I'm pretty certain we'll be doing breakfast on Saturday's at Naomi's.

I mention Naomi's because one of the downsides of moving back to a small town is the fact that, as much as we like to eat at new restaurants and such, you can only eat at the same few places before they get tired.  A few weeks ago, my daughter-in-law, Nicole sent Eva this video made by a guy from Lytle who does YouTube videos and such.  I really liked his use of drone footage as well as his style.  Since then, I've been checking out all his videos and I listened to podcast he and his wife did called Real Life, Real Love.  Lots of funny stuff, but also, a view into a real family growing up in a small town.

I was told by another Lytle resident that we could be getting a Denny's in the future.  Wouldn't that be nice?  My preference is Jim's, of course, but Denny's will do in a pinch. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Excitement is Bubbling Over the Hot Tub Edges...

We are just a week away from closing on the house we are selling in Helotes.  It seems like in the same way this has all happened so very, very fast, the last week is dragging by.  But things seem locked in place and there is nothing for us to do but show up and sign papers.

The closing for the property we are buying has not been scheduled as of yet, though it is planned for the following day.  That makes it next Friday, the 28th of February.  From there, we have a huge flurry of activity with multiple things needing to fall into place.  We have some things we plan to move ourselves and that will all take place the first weekend.  Later, a few weeks later anyway, we will have movers come and grab the heavy furniture.  The final thing to go will be our big hot tub.

My first project in the new house is to build a large deck.  We have been toying with the idea of having an additional foundation poured next to the existing covered patio.  I've built my fair share of wooden decks in my day, but honestly, it is a lot of work.  The flip side is, having a cement patio poured (for the size I need) is pretty costly. 

Eva reached out to our old handyman from years ago, Joel, and he remembered us from when he did work for us in Natalia.   He is going to give us an estimate on the cement patio.  We'll see.

Whichever way we go, the hot tub will eventually make its way and we'll really be ready to climb in and look up at the stars without all the city lights to blind us. 
This is a view of the back yard from where our hot tub will sit.  I'm ready for that. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Back Out Here: Destination Lytle...

In December of 2015, my wife and I made the move from Natalia back to the San Antonio/Helotes area.  We had really good reasons for this; grandkids.  We packed up, sold the house and moved into a new place.  A truly great house with all the modern features I wanted.  It even had a great yard where we set up our hot tub, built a fire pit, and well, that was about it, because the yard was so small.

Fast forward four years and we no longer needed for MaMaw to watch the grandkids.  As we lived in a regular city sized neighborhood with houses so close together you could open the window and spit from your side into the neighbor's house (if you were so rude), that urge to move started hitting us.  Add in to that the fact that so many of these builders think nothing of Texas sized trucks; the fact that people need a place to park when they visit; and the pains of pulling in and out of a driveway when some jerk has parked directly across from your house, we realized we just needed more space.

It's funny too, because we have often toyed with the idea of selling all our crap (furniture) and moving into a loft in downtown San Antonio.  We love The Pearl and all those places along Broadway.  Being downtown would be so convenient for entertainment and such.  But in the grand scheme of things, we only go downtown a few times a month.

We got with our Realtor, the fantastic Missy and her team (she has sold three of our houses now), and came up with a game plan.   By day two, we were under contract.

We had already made up our minds that we wanted to move back out to the area we came from and in fact, we looked at several homes in our old neighborhood.  One house we looked at was a stones throw from the house we sold in Forest Woods in 2015, and it was really strange to imagine ourselves moving in and driving by the old place each day.  That house still looks great, by the way.

After a lot of debating and making lists of pros and cons, we decided to go with an older (late 1990's) home outside of a neighborhood HOA.  The property is more than double the size of our old 3 acre place which means, I'm getting me a new zero turn mower!

The fact that the place is older meant we would start off with having to install all new floors.  We decided to bite the bullet and go with tile for most the house and carpet in the bedrooms.  Big job, but I think it will be worth it.

I think both of us are eager to get back out into the Tri-City metropolis (Lytle - Natalia - Devine) and get started on making the new house our home.  And if I'm able to get adequate Internet, I hope to share pictures and stories of our new adventures.

Until then, wish us luck.  We need to close on two properties then load up all our stuff and get to gettin' on with it.