Sunday 29 July 2018

Almost a done deal

Well, I've gone and done it.  After months of feeling increasingly anxious and frustrated with living my adult daughter and my grandson, I've entered into a contract to purchase a house for them in Melville.  As I mentioned in my last post, D and her friend A visited a number of properties just over a week ago.  D narrowed the list to two properties, and I added in a third that I liked based on the information on the realtor website.

I took a day of vacation on Thursday; D, Eli and I drove out to Melville to meet with the realtor to see the three properties.  He surprised us with a list of four more houses to look at that were in our price range.  It was a good thing he did so because the three we had on the short list were no goes.  One because it was simply too small, the yard was a disaster and I'm pretty certain I could have pushed the garage down with one good shove.  The second on D's list was a decent size, but in a not so desirable area and the basement was a disaster.  There were cracks in the floor and walls, some as wide a ruler.  Likely the only solution would be to lift the house and dig out and pour a new basement....well beyond my financial limits.

The third property was my favorite but D thought it was an old lady house.  The main bedroom was painted lilac, there were lots of knickknacks and the decor was definitely had a "senior" air.  But the house was a great size, it had two bedrooms on the main and one in the basement, there was a little sun porch off the front that would have made a great place to sit with coffee and a book, and the back yard had a lovely area for a garden.  Thinking about it, it was definitely more of a house for me than D and Eli.

Three of the four properties Corey showed us weren't right either.  One was too small, one needed far too much work, and the third I can't even recall.  But the fourth, a property that we had seen on the realtor site but hadn't considered because the pictures were not encouraging was worth a second look after we'd been through the rest.  

On our first visit I had mentally crossed it off the list because it only has a partial basement and getting to into it requires a climb down a set of steep stairs, plus there was the smell of damp.  But I soon discovered that pretty much every basement we saw was built with these steep stairs, and since the house has three bedrooms, the basement didn't need to be finished.

On our second visit, the benefits and charm of the property became more apparent to me.  Entering on the side entrance there is a small porch that leads into a large kitchen which includes the laundry.  Just off the kitchen is a full bathroom, and there is another full bathroom upstairs.  I know D will find having that second bathroom will be wonderful, especially when Eli starts potty training.  The living room/dining room areas are not huge but sufficient for a play area (in what is currently the dining room), and a space for her couch, television and bookshelf or two.

The house comes with the five appliances, washer/dryer, fridge/stove and a small freezer.  D will take her own apartment size freezer as well and plans to put it out in the front porch.  While the porch is not heated it does have electricity. Upstairs are the three bedrooms, a master at the front of the house that will fit her queen bed and large dresser, with a small walk in closet.  Eli's room is quite small but the larger third bedroom will provide another play space/den. Eventually she'll get a pull out couch or futon for that room for use by guests (like G'ma). D is planning to move Eli to a toddler bed so wants to ensure there aren't a lot of toys in his room. 

Outside the house, the yard is large - on a 50' lot, with a side yard that will provide a great place for Eli to play and the back yard that has a single car garage, an existing fire pit, and a good space to put a garden.  The spot beside the garage has been gravelled so she can pull the car up almost to the side entry making it easy to bring in groceries.  Out front, as you can see is a small deck providing a spot to sit and enjoy the evening.

The property has been mostly well maintained, with a new roof recently and many (not all) new windows.  It's located in a lovely neighbourhood, with a large park within two blocks that features a new spray-pad, lots of playground equipment, and a ball diamond.  The property is also close to downtown and just a short drive to the grocery stores and the highway.  When I was taking the photos, the next door neighbour came out of her house and I complimented her on her front yard.  We had a brief chat and discovered she is responsible for the flower beds on the side and in the front of the house and is quite willing to keep these up...especially if D shares the bounty of her garden.  K mentioned she has kept an eye on the house when the current owner is away.  I told D later this is a relationship she needs to encourage.

It sounds perfect, though it is not flawless.  There are things that need to be replaced or repaired.  Although we haven't had the inspection completed yet, I'm certain flashing will need to be completed for the upper front windows as they protrude from the house and I suspect water will pool there.  There are some downspouts that need to be extended; the current owner disclosed that there is seepage into the basement when there are heavy rains.  The side windows in the front porch are broken, but it appears rather than replacing the window panes, it was simply boarded up - though the interior was not.  Further, the furnace is older and will need to be replaced.  I intend to do that next year after I've sold the house I'm in - again, my financial resources only extend so far.  The counter tops in both bathrooms are chipped and the vanity in the upstairs bathroom is a bit rickety.  But the latter items are functional and can wait.

Beyond that, D is talking about painting kitchen cabinet doors and replacing the hardware, as well as painting Eli's bedroom.  She really wanted a dishwasher and her brother told her if the house didn't have one AND she moved out, he'd buy her one.  (Yes, we both really miss the peace and quiet that used to be the norm).  She's been talking about where she'll place the furniture and has even started packing.  Of course, there is all the extra stuff leftover from the garage sale, and the used clothing she brought home from the consignment shop that need to be taken care of so she's getting a bit ahead of herself as the possession date isn't until October 5.  

There are still a few hurdles to get over before the sale is finalized.  The offer I made was a low-ball and the owner countered but he came down a lot more than I had to come up so I agreed to the price.  The paperwork has been submitted to the mortgage broker and I expect I'll get a call early next week to arrange the financing.  There are some mortgage companies that will not finance in a small town (seems a bit discriminatory to me), and few that will provide a mortgage less the $50,000.  I was aware of the latter fact, so part of my calculations were to ensure this mortgage will a couple of thousand over that amount.

We still have to arrange for the inspections - I'll give the guy a call on Monday.  We're going through the usual, furnace, gas line and house inspection but are also requesting a sewer line inspection.  Both Corey and I think there is a good possibility it is the line that may not be able to withstand the heavy rains causing the seepage.  (It's definitely not sewage).  If there is a problem with the line and the costs are significant, we'll be going back to the current owner to ask for half the funds or a reduction in price.  

So, it's almost a done deal.  I've chosen the Thanksgiving weekend for possession date to ensure we have time to clean (and possibly paint) before she moves in.  If I take an additional day of vacation, it will give us five days to accomplish what needs to be done.  I won't stay for the entire time of unpacking - she can do that - but will make sure they have beds to sleep in, toilet paper and towels in the bathrooms, and get in some extra cuddles with Eli before I go back to the city.  I know I'll see them as D will have doctors appointments and I'll make the drive every six weeks or so but I know I'll miss this silly face.

The little monkey discovered yesterday that he pushes one of the stools over to the couch that he can then climb onto it.  Here he's just clambered up and the next photo is of him looking rather pleased with himself.  

He has taken a tumble off the couch a time or two but hasn't learned his lesson yet.  So far no serious injuries have occurred and my daughter's argument (with me) is that he needs to learn.  

G'ma isn't quite as laissez-faire but I guess every kid has to have a few bumps and bruises along the way.  

Time to head out and get the lawn mowed and the containers weeded.  Have a great week everyone!

Sunday 22 July 2018

Things that annoy me

The damned hawk or falcon is back in my neighbourhood killing the songbirds.  I found a wing (no picture, I promise) with bone attached as I was cleaning up my yard this week.  My brother assumes it is a merlin rather than a kestral and I tend to go with his expertise...he was a conservation officer for many years.  It's frustrating as I can do nothing about it, and I so miss the sound of the birds early in the morning.  I guess it is the way of nature, but it makes me sad and angry at the same time.

This morning I woke early, around 4 a.m. to the sound of a downpour of rain.  We've been missing the storms the last week or so, with the rain falling outside the city.  I was on the phone with my brother yesterday morning, as he watched a thunderstorm to the north of his location (about 40 kms. outside the city), while I sat in the sun on my front patio.  While I've been wishing for rain, I've been watering my containers pretty much every day.  Now the outside tap has developed a leak.  My son and I both tried to turn it off with the inside shut off but by this morning, it was running steadily.  I'll call the plumber tomorrow and have them come and repair it.  Sigh...with a house there is always something that needs fixing.  

Speaking of necessary repairs, check out what the rotten kitten Sheldon has done.  I can't truly be angry with him as he is simply being a kitten but darn it all!

The sunroom has these curtains on all three sides, which I generally close when the sun gets too much.  It doesn't help keep the room cool but simply a bit darker.  Apparently Sheldon wanted to see beyond the curtain - perhaps there were birds that needed watching.  In any event, he's managed to snag several of the curtains, though this one has taken the brunt of it.  I really didn't/don't want to have to replace them but I suspect any repair job I do would be too noticeable.  The problem is finding curtains that are a similar length.  I haven't measured but I'd say I need 96-108" in length, checking on-line I'm looking at $70-100 per panel, ouch!  I'll likely wait until next spring to change them out.  By then I'll have the house up for sale, and Sheldon should have outgrown his kittenish antics. Fingers crossed!

On a totally different note, has anyone been out shopping lately?  I was at Walmart on Friday evening and did a double take when I saw all the school supplies are out on the shelves (and aisle ways).  We haven't even reached the end of July! Of course, once school does start the Halloween decorations and candy will be out, and before that is over, the Christmas paraphernalia will be out in full force.  Rush the seasons, much?  

You would think I'd be happy to see seasons changing, since it is bringing my retirement that much closer.  But I'm not quite there yet.  Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to not having to get up to got to work, it's just that I feel so far out from being able to make the transition.  Almost every area of my house is in disarray, filled with stuff.  My own bedroom has my sewing table, containers of fabric and patterns cluttering the space (not that I've done any sewing since D and Eli arrived).  My stash of yarn for knitting and crocheting is partly stored in the living room ottomans and the rest is in storage in the basement.  At one time this all had a place in the room Eli now inhabits.  His room, along with the living room, sun room, and back deck hold the voluminous mounds of toys, books, riding toys, and furniture that, apparently, every small child must possess.  

Then there is my daughter's bedroom...shudder.  I keep the door shut because I cannot stand to see the piles of clothing, books, personal care items, craft supplies, etc. etc. etc.  AND that's just one room.  The basement area has boxes of kitchen and household items, her freezer and other furniture, the garage is full of items for sale and consignment that she promises will be gone soon.  I've heard that before.  

However, we are making small progress in that regard.  D and Eli have been spending some time in Melville, a small town just 90 minutes from Regina.  Her friend A lives there with her three children (another due in November).  Her youngest child is 3 months younger than Eli, and the two women have become close friends.  A has convinced D that with the cost of living it makes sense to move there.  Unfortunately there isn't much available for rent, so with some trepidation, I've agreed to look at providing the down payment for a small house.  Because of her financial situation (which is about as messy as her bedroom), I'll be the titled owner.  

To that end, I visited a mortgage broker on Friday to explore the possibility and determine what I could afford.  As I expected the extent of the funding available far exceeds my comfort level.  I did some calculations and confirmed that if D had absolutely no funding I would still be able to manage the costs within my retirement budget.  But of course, the expectation is that she will cover the costs of the mortgage, insurance, utilities and property taxes.  She's currently receiving funding that will provide more than sufficient funds, and is in discussions with her employer to work from home when she returns to work in the future.  There are also employment opportunities in the community as well as in Yorkton which is about 20-30 minute drive.  So unless all goes to hell in a hand basket, she and Eli will be in their own home within the next 2-3 months.  And should this fail, I guess I'll have a place to live when I retire....not necessarily where I want to be.

D and A visited six properties this past weekend, of the 17 that were within her price range.  Almost every one of the properties has been listed for sale for at least 180 days.  Apparently there was a large project being built nearby with construction over several years.  These houses were purchased by the workers, and now the job is done, the properties are up for sale.  However, like many small towns, the community is home primarily to seniors who have moved off the farm, and young families seeking lower costs, so while there is a fair amount of inventory, demand is low.  It is a buyer's market, and the cost of property is probably 25-30% of what similar houses would cost here in the city.  

D, Eli, and I are planning to go to Melville on Thursday to visit the short listed properties.  I assume we'll make an offer on one of the properties before we leave, with conditions of financing, appraisal, and inspection before any deal is done.  Wish me luck!

Well, on that note, I'll sign off for this week.  Have a great week everyone!

Saturday 14 July 2018

I'm sitting here at the laptop, the house quiet for the moment.  Sasha is sleeping on the couch, Saku and Sheldon are napping in the sunroom and D and Eli are snoozing too.  My son C is downstairs, having been woken by a crying baby an hour or so ago.  I mentioned to him that everyone went to sleep when he got up...he didn't think I was very funny.

D and Eli arrived back very early Friday morning at just after midnight.  They were delayed out of Calgary likely as a result of a flat tire on the airplane.  The trip home was rather eventful, with lots of drama, most of it self-perpetuated from the sounds of it.  She spent much of the day yesterday talking to various service reps, with her story getting more and more embellished (at least to my ears), and eventually got $125 in WestJet dollars for her trouble.  

It's been fun having Eli here again.  I swear he grew an inch in 2 1/2 weeks and has mastered running.  This morning, D and I took him for a walk around the nearby pond.  I couldn't believe how high the water level is at this time of year.  There is no real natural water source so this is run-off from the neighbourhood.  They may call the area Riverbend but that's simply wishful thinking.  

Surprisingly there weren't very many birds on the water.  I drive past this on my way from shopping and over the last few weeks there have been dozens of geese and ducks.  These two ducks are actually sitting on top of a pile of rocks.  Normally this would be out of the water.  I've been lazy this summer and this is the first time I've been out walking nearby.  

On our way back we stopped at the little park that is about a block and half from the house. There is a climbing structure, a couple of slides and three seats that rock (not like the animals that we used to ride on when I was a child).  No swing, however, but Eli had fun none-the-less.  

Check out that t-shirt.  Little dude, big plans indeed!  He loves to climb and had absolutely no problem with those stairs.  He's still crawling up them for the most part, rather than walking up, and can't quite reach the railing at the same time. 

I can't imagine that those stairs are very easy on the knees, but no matter to Eli.  He climbed and slid down several times.  

His sliding skills though could use some work.  He insists on going head first despite his mother's suggestion that he sit on his bum.  I guess he thinks that's for scaredy cats.  

G'ma wasn't able to drop the camera fast enough to catch him on this flight and he was almost able to keep himself from doing a face plant...but not quite.  He ended up with sand in his mouth, which he decided tasted just fine.  It didn't stop him from doing another climb and slide but this time mom was there to ensure a safe landing..

He's truly become a toddler and not a baby anymore.  Though he still insists on a ba-ba (bottle) for nap and bedtime.  I'm certain that will end soon or at least by the time he goes to school. :)

We had a couple of big storms over the last week, the latest happened yesterday afternoon about 4 p.m.  The clouds came scudding in, the lightening and thunder followed soon after, and then the skies opened up.  We had a downpour that lasted less than 10 minutes.  Last night at dinner, N said we got just under a quarter of an inch of rain in that short time period.  I didn't water as a result though unless we get more rain I'll be out watering this evening.

The front flower bed is filling up nicely - with the exception of the most shaded area, that always annoys me to no end.  I recently added a coral bells heuchera (the lime green leafed plant at the bottom of the picture).  It is likely too shady for it too but does get some afternoon sun. 

This fall I'll probably split the larger of the hostas and perhaps the heartleaf bergenia in an attempt to fill it in.  Not sure why I'm worrying so much about it as I don't expect to be here to enjoy it.  

The front containers have filled in nicely.  These get both morning and late afternoon sun, along with a shot of fertilizer once a month.  Next door my neighbour's yard is in shade from my large evergreen.  I suspect she wouldn't mind if it came down, but I love the privacy it gives to the patio and the front of the house.

The containers along the patio are doing great too.  The geraniums have been blooming non-stop.  I've been cutting them off as they die back. 

The center container holds a mix of petunias along with the calibrocha. The trailing plant (lime green) is the only thing that isn't doing as well.  I suspect the bunnies may be enjoying it as a snack on occasion.  

Today is a bit cooler, and though we're covered by clouds at the moment, it doesn't appear we're in for a storm or any more rain.  I've even got the sunroom open for the cats - they certainly appreciate being out there, with the window open for a breeze and the fan going it feels very pleasant.  I took my coffee and my book and sat out there for a couple of hours this morning.  

I expect the rest of the weekend will be more of the same.  The temps are reasonable, in the mid 20's C.  There is housework to finish, including washing the kitchen and living room floors - the cats don't call Eli the sticky bean for no reason, and I'm hoping to convince D to get some clearing up in the garage done though I expect I'll have to be out there with her.  I have given her an ultimatum; everything must be out of the garage by the end of October.  I have no desire to be parked out on the driveway when winter arrives.

Well, should sign off and get a few more chores out of the way.  I still haven't gotten to the linen closet nor the cleaning supplies.  Anyone have any idea why I have 6 or 8 containers of wipes?  Sheesh, I need to learn to stick to my shopping list!

Have a great rest of the weekend everyone!

Saturday 7 July 2018

Heat wave

We're on day 2 of a mini heat wave here in Saskatchewan.  Normally overnight the house cools down and the a/c doesn't start running until mid-afternoon.  This morning it kicked in at 7:30 a.m.  The cats aren't happy with me, as I've already closed up the sunroom for the day.  But they've all found somewhere to sleep so they'll be fine.

I can't imagine living through a heat wave for days on end, as has been the case in Ontario and Quebec.  The latest article I read reported 54 heat related deaths in Quebec alone.  Most of those individuals were over 65 with chronic health issues, living without air conditioning, and in multi-story buildings.  I heard a fellow on one of the news channels suggesting that we may need to consider that not only heating is a necessity for adequate housing but cooling as well.  I know I lived without a/c for many years, but I don't think I could do it now.  Is it because I'm getting older, or because the temperatures are higher?  I think it's a little of both.

Today is day 11 of my daughter's trip to B.C.  Things got heated there last night and I had a call from her saying she's was getting on the next flight home. After some convincing (and perhaps a couple of stern comments) she agreed not to drive off into the pouring rain for what would be a 4 hour (or more) drive.   I've talked to J's mother this morning, and learned that things settled down after that call, and D and J are supposed to going to Nanaimo today to visit his grandmother.  I know that D was excited that Eli would meet his great grandmother so I expect the crisis has been averted and she'll be back here on Thursday as originally planned.  Sheesh!

I've made good progress cleaning up the house while she and Eli are away.  Yesterday I spot washed walls, cleaned the carpet on the stairs to the basement, finished cleaning windows including the front and screen doors.  Apparently I wasn't paying attention to what was happening at my feet though, as after I'd put away the cleaning supplies I noticed Saku hanging around the front door.  Then I heard a loud noise at the door and suddenly thought, did I let Sheldon out?  No, that wasn't the case, but I had trapped the cat between the two doors.  I think he's learned a valuable lesson, as have I!  

Today, I'm planning to clear up the desk and perhaps tackle a couple of closets.  But I also agreed to drive out to the farm to check on it as my brother and his wife are away this weekend.  P (his wife) is in Portland, Oregon with their daughter L for a basketball tournament.  L is part of the Saskatchewan under 17 team this year, quite the accomplishment for a 15 year old, I think.  R is in Alberta - I believe near Crowsnest Pass for an ultra race of 100 kms.  He's NOT doing it solo, but is taking part as a relay team of 7.  The e-mail I had from him this morning, suggested he'd be running about 2 a.m. tomorrow morning, for leg six.  I think he's nuts but he loves to run and I'm sure the scenery would be gorgeous....except he'll be running in the dark.  He did walk the trail yesterday to check it out.  The temps there are quite reasonable, about 19C(70F) right now with overnight low of 7C(45F). Sounds a bit cool to me, but he will be running so I guess it will be nice.

I decided to take a break and make the drive out to the farm before it got any warmer today.  In the two hours I was gone the temperature rose 4 degrees from 24C to 28C, and with the humidity it feels like 33C(91F).  That may not be extreme heat, especially for those in lower U.S. but it is plenty warm for me.  Funny, though because when I got home I noticed several of my neighbours out working in the heat.  That's funny because I so rarely see them outside any other time.  So they pick the warmest day of the year???  

I have a couple photos I took with my cellphone - forgot to take my camera.  After feeding the cats (wet food, as they had lots of dry), I wandered around the side of the house to look for a watering can and found this little guy/gal.    

There is a bird feeder just to the south of the a/c unit.  I suspect he/she was trying to get to the food supply.  It appeared to an immature squirrel as it was quite a bit smaller than others I've seen.  He/she didn't move even after I took the photo.  I think it thought if it didn't move I would be able to see it. ;)

I stopped on the gravel road to get this shot of the wild roses.  There were mounds of these flashing pink as I drove along.  I don't remember seeing so many in the past.  I also spotted wild yarrow (white) though I didn't stop to take a photo.

The route I take includes a short cut between grid roads along a narrow gravelled road.  As I came up to the corner where I turned back onto the grid I stopped to get this shot.

I was pretty much shooting blind as it was so bright out there.  But this to me is quintessential Saskatchewan.  Gravel road, rural mailboxes, the ditch is full of weeds, a canola field in the back ground and the blue sky with just a few clouds.  It is what I grew up with, sans the mailboxes as we had to go to town to the post office.  

I didn't bother using the car's a/c but left the windows open in the car.  The smell from the fields was incredible...well, at least until I passed the pasture with cattle in it.  

When I got back to the city I took a drive out to the new Save-On Foods grocery store that was opened close'ish to my house recently.  The chain stores are only located in Western Canada and the Yukon.  The first store opened up in Regina a few years ago and this is the second.  I really like some of their products but it seemed too far to go to very often.  I'm pleased to see it opened nearby, as it carries products not available at Safeway/Sobey's, Co-op or Superstore.  

One of my favorites is in the deli - Popeye's mac and cheese salad.  It contains spinach, feta and Parmesan cheese, with shell pasta and a light mayo dressing.  Today I picked up a small container of it as well as an 8 bean salad.  I had the latter with my lunch...oh, it was good!  It was similar to other bean salads with a vinaigrette dressing, red pepper, onion, and various beans.  B.C. cherries were on sale too so I grabbed another bag...I've already polished off one bag that I picked up at Safeway last week.  

Well, I suppose this isn't getting the desk or the closets cleared of clutter and I wouldn't be surprised if you are tired of the blather.  Besides Saku has decided that he needs some lap time.  

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend everyone!

Tuesday 3 July 2018

The finished product

The bathroom are completely finished, hooray!  My son helped me put up the mirrors on Sunday.  Despite my worries, that turned out to be the easiest step.  The mirrors are held up by clips that are screwed into the wall.  The workman who took them down, left the top ones in place.  

We measured the mirror (that I did help with) and marked the wall where the lower clips needed to go.

C lifted the mirror in place, slipped it into the lower clips and I climbed up on a stool to help slide the upper clip on side up, while he did the other, and they just snapped into place. 

Both mirrors had been stored in my bedroom, where a little boy generously applied his hand prints.  After they were back in place I gave them a good cleaning.  As you'll see I did buy an over the toilet storage unit but I'm not sure it will stay.  It's wider than the toilet tank...that I didn't think to measure!

Since my daughter is still away the main bathroom counter isn't yet cluttered.  My bathroom, on the other hand...well it looked like that before the renovations were completed.  You'll note a bowl on the left hand side of the counter.  That's for the cats.  Yeah, they are spoiled.

It's nice to have everything complete. Now I just get to wait for the final bill to come in. :p  (Thankfully those costs are fully covered by the payout I received for back pay; our contract wasn't settled for over three years.)

But that's it folks, I will not be taking on any more renovation projects! Remind me of this statement next time I start thinking about doing something else. 

Have a great week everyone!