Archive for September, 2011

Rent – Not the Musical

Monday, September 26th, 2011

One of the first questions people would ask us when we told them we were putting our house on the market was “Where are you moving to?”

My answer was always that we want to stay as much in town as possible because our youngest daughter, Jennifer, who is a very social sophomore at Petaluma High would never speak to us for the rest of our lives if we moved somewhere that meant she had to change schools.

Thinking about where we would move has been a theoretical exercise because selling house is such a protracted process. But the news from our lawyer is that there may be positive movement by the bank to approve the buyer’s offer in the next 10 days.  So we are hopeful that means that we have actually sold the house and consequently we need to get serious about finding a place to rent.

If it was only Steve and me who needed to find a place to live, we would have absolutely no problem living in a nice double-wide at one ofPetaluma’s senior mobile home parks. In fact, in the many years that we’ve been driving Meals-on-Wheels, we’ve had an opportunity to scope out all the various mobile home towns, villas, parks, woods, lakes, and estates and choose which one would be top of our list.

But the problem is that we still have a teenager still living with us. We even came up with a plan. Jennifer could wear her Halloween costume from a few years ago when she dressed-up as an old lady. And so she could pretend to be my mother every time she comes home. She just wouldn’t be able to ever invite any friends over for her remaining three years in high school. Can you believe it? She wouldn’t go along with the plan.

Since the mobile home park isn’t an option, it’s back to searching Craigslist and sorting it by “Petaluma” and “cats” and then “High to Low” prices so all the rentals with only one bathroom go to the bottom of the list. For Jennifer, sharing a bathroom with her parents is only slightly less horrible than changing schools.

What are my criteria for our new place? if I could, I would sort the list by “No yard,” “Freshly-painted,” “Wood floors,” and “Not depressing.”

Dancing Queen

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Steve and I have been married 27 years and I think we have danced together precisely twice in the entire time we’ve been married. Once was at our wedding in 1984 and the second time was last Friday night at a party hosted by a client of ours.

I guess dancing together once every millennium tells you that we’re not huge partiers. My idea of a strong drink is adding a second thimble of French Vanilla Coffee-Mate to my coffee after church.

So what prompted this night of wild abandon on the dance floor? In reality, I did a lot more shuffle-step-shuffle-step than booty shaking and we probably only danced for 20 minutes. But still for me, being out there at all was a huge leap.

The biggest reason that I grabbed Steve’s hand and asked him if he wanted to dance was because I knew I didn’t need to worry about embarrassing myself on the floor. You see, the party was a mix of scientists, marketing people, and administrative folks – all of whom I was quite sure hadn’t just come from a gig as back-up dancers for Lady Gaga. They were all middle-aged like us and it was held at a yacht club, for goodness sake. Does it get anymore white than that? I was quite sure I could bust-a-move as well as the really nice but rather rotund researcher we met who spends 10 hours a day in a lab.

It was also a good chance to put into practice advice that I frequently give our teenage daughter: don’t worry so much about judgments that you think people are making about you.

I am always telling her that the truth is that people really pay very little attention to what is going on around them because we are all so consumed with our own lives at any given moment. So just relax and have fun. Forget being self-conscious and don’t miss out on an opportunity that might not come around again for a while.

 I’m thinking Steve and I probably shouldn’t wait until the 22nd century for our next pas de deux.

The Waiting Game

Monday, September 12th, 2011

The spring flowers have long since faded and the lawn looks slightly parched, but the “For Sale” sign in front of our house still looks as perky as the day it was planted early last May.

Is our house still on the market? We can answer that with a definite “maybe.” The status now is that we have an accepted offer on our house but whether the bank approves the sale and whether the buyers will hang in there through the process, remains to be seen. We are thankful that after the 45 days that was written into the initial contract passed, the buyers agreed to another 45 days of negotiating time.

When we told our neighbors that we had an accepted offer on the house, they invited the rest of our neighborhood to a goodbye party for us. People kept asking us when we were moving, a question that we couldn’t answer because it’s totally out of our control. We told our neighbors not to get too sentimental about us leaving because as is typical with short sales, it could be a very long goodbye

Our buyers haven’t been to the house since they made the offer on the house almost two months ago but they are coming tomorrow night to show it to their friend who is in town. I’m hoping that they haven’t been doing what I typically do after I commit to a purchase: review all the options out there to see if I have gotten the best deal possible.

It’s like looking through the Target ad after I’ve just bought shampoo at CVS and seeing that I could have saved $3 on it. Every time I get an email notification from our realtor that a new house has come on the market, I imagine myself in the buyers’ shoes and I hope that they aren’t wishing they had passed up our house and instead made an offer on the new-on-the-market house that has hardwood floors and gourmet kitchen.

Then I have to take a step back from my paranoia and remember that our house has lots of really great qualities. And besides, that other house is priced 10% higher than ours.

In the meantime, to get myself in a more forward thinking mode and out of the funk of uncertainty, I’ve started looking at rentals to get a better understanding of what types of places are available and how much space we will be able to get for our money. Have I seen the perfect place? Not yet but I still have plenty of time.

Ship the Orange Cat off to Orange County?

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Of course, our whole family misses Valerie now that she has gone back to college in Southern California. However, some of us miss her more than others. Her younger sister isn’t all that sad about having the bathroom to herself again even if it does mean that she can’t blame its grody-ness on anyone but herself.

Steve and I miss Valerie’s artistic energy but the family member who is really acting out his grief over Valerie being gone is Nigel, our orange cat.

When Valerie came home for the summer, Nigel immediately resumed his routine of sleeping with her, sometimes with his face so close to hers I thought he was sucking the life out of her and sometimes plastered tightly against her legs so she was pinned down for the night. If cats are capable of expressing affection, Nigel certainly seemed smitten with her.

Valerie reciprocated Nigel’s attention by playing with him as if he was a puppy and she was a little kid rather than the adult cat and college student that they actually are. She would get him to chase her down the hall, play tug-of-war with a feather tied to a long piece of cord, and try to get him to fetch a little squishy ball, a trick that he used to perform as a younger cat. It amazed us that he would retrieve the ball and drop it at our feet until we threw it again.

Steve and I commented many times that we were dreading how Nigel would act after Valerie went back to college. Would he resume his bad behavior of plucking the carpet and 1:00, 2:30 and 4:00 am? We knew didn’t do it to get food – he had plenty in his dish – he just wanted to get some action going. Without Valerie here to romp and snuggle with him, we feared the worst.

Nigel didn’t disappoint. After a night of me shouting at Nigel every 15 minutes to “Stop It!” and waking Steve up every time I did, I decided some drastic action was called for.

Based on some advice we got from my blog readers (thank you very much), the only way to break him of this pattern was to sentence him to solitary confinement in a bathroom or padded cell for a night or two.

The only destruction proof room in our house that doesn’t have carpet on the other side of it that Nigel could shred by stretching his sharp little claws under the door is the gulag…I mean garage.

So desperate to get some sleep, at the sound of the first thwack, thwack, thwack that I heard shortly after midnight, I knew an intervention was needed. I scooped up Nigel and tossed him into the garage. His pink spongy pads that have touched only carpet felt the cold, hard surface of concrete. And so Nigel spent the night separated from us for the first time in the five years that we’ve had him.

It took about an hour for my heart to stop pounding so I could go back to sleep while I reminded myself he’s a cat, for goodness sake. Given a chance, he would shred helpless little mice just for the fun of it. And I’m worried about banishing him to a warm and safe garage?

I’m happy to report that our tough love approach has had good results and we have actually gotten some sleep. The only challenge now is that the little orange beast knows what’s coming and shoots under a bed to hide when I come after him in the dark. But like Wile E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons, I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve. Acme explosives, anyone?