Sunday, July 28, 2013

Random Pictures from this week.

When Al puts together a post he usually have a series of wonderful pictures he took that day.  Butterflies, farm fields, Pheebs the dog. All "eye candy" for sure.

When Judy posts she almost always shares the pictures she has taken of the birds and beasts she sees on her daily trek around the wildlife preserve she is at. They are always delightful. As are the pictures included in so many of the blogs I enjoy.

I take pictures too, and here are a few from this week:

A repair guy inside our septic tank fixing the baffle and some deteriorated cement on the walls. He looked like an alien with his tight head covering and hazmat suit.

One side of the garage.  Clean with a freshly painted wall!

The other side.  It really is an improvement over a few weeks ago.

A part of letting go.  Custom license plate covers with my web site URL, in the trash.  

Mr. Moose is ready to go!  I bought him many years ago on a ski trip in Canada. I should have taken a before picture. He had long red skis,  ski poles, a ski cap, and a wintery red and white neck scarf.  Now he has sunglasses, a sun-visor, a backpack, trekking poles, and hiking boots. He will be our dash mascot.  

After our very busy days, I relax by doing original plastic canvas needlepoint.  Last month, when I was working on my grocery tote, I struggled with roses. I think I have them figured out. 

 I like to make functional things. This is the inside of one of four closet doors in the Alfa. When it is closed, there is about three inches of space between the door and the plastic drawers.  Hanging something with pockets on the inside of a closet door, is not an original idea, but this is my version.

Each panel is a small pocket.  I'm not sure what will fit in them, but I'm sure they will fill up.

There is enough room on the bottom of the door for another set.  I have decided to make two larger pockets there.

This week I took a large box of coral, we had in the attic for many years, to the auction house. I had tried to sell it on Craigslist with no success. Seeing it  brought back memories of the large marine fish tank we had at one time.  It inspired me to start exploring tropical fish designs, and making the next two pockets with a reef motif.

These are two 4" samples.  If I do two more I can make a small kleenex box cover with them.  Functional of course.    I think I'll make some seahorses and an octopus. This is my therapy.

My life may be busy, but I still find time for some color. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Good Day

Recently I read a comment from someone who said they had not posted for a long time because they had been dealing with an illness and didn't want their blog to become a "pity party." 

When I talk about how much we have to do, I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. I use my blog in part as a "public" diary.  It helps me to write about things that I am doing.

So, I really slept well last night. 

Today was a good day.  

We both worked hard and got much accomplished.  

I am physically tired tonight, but it is  a good tired. 

Once again, thank you for your supportive comments.

That's all.  

Good night.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A hard day

Every day lately seems to be a hard day.  I lay in bed at night and think of a dozen things I want to do the next day.  Then somehow, the day slips by and I have not accomplished nearly as much as I had hope to.  Yesterday I finished up sorting thru the last of our photographs and got them boxed up for storage in my daughters attic.  Did I say "sorting"?  That would imply they were is some sort of order.  No, culling would be a better word.  I got rid of a lot of duplicates, faded or out of focus images, and pictures taken from the windows of moving vehicles.  I took a lot of pictures out of sticky albums, and took the pages out of many more.  Just the pages, without the binders take up less room.  The final result was one medium tote and one smaller box.

I have also finished going thru 25 years of house repair and improvement receipts. The good ones will go with us for a final evaluation someday in the next year. 

So with those two big paper jobs out of the way, (they have dominated the dining room table for weeks) I decided to start cleaning the room.  Someone suggested taking the approach of attacking one room at a time and when it is done, sort of close it for use and move on.  This is what I'm doing. 

In a way it is good to have a deadline. If we waited until everything was done we would never put the house on the market.  For now I have com to terms with not having time to get rid of everything I want to get rid of, or finish all of the little jobs we want to finish before listing.  So, now I have a list of "must do now" and what can wait.

I'm not sure we can finish the must dos, but we will try.

I thought I could get the dining room floor scrubbed today. We have several large plants that have leaked water onto the tiles over the years and I have to try to get them clean.  But all I could get finished today was to get the room ready by moving some of the furniture out.  Oh well, I should be able to finish it tomorrow.

We had planned on going to San Francisco to see a race, but it turns out there will not be one.  It would have been nice to take a day off, even if we can't afford the time, but it just isn't going to happen.

Today we had the septic tank pumped and inspected.  With the inspection, the cost was double what I paid a few years ago!  Good news is the leach field is good and the system is healthy.  Bad news is there are a few "minor" repairs needed and the estimate is for another hunk of change. They charge $150 an hour for work inside the tank. But it has to be done, so the guy will be back on Friday to do them. I have been assured it is best to get these things taken care of in advance.

The dreaded "pest control" inspection will be done on Friday.  We have done so much work already, I just don't see what they could find to report.  Actually there are a couple of very small things still on the list that might be cited.  

For now, I am just so tired, and yet I know the hardest days are yet to come.

We have decided if we don't get everything on the must do list finished, we will postpone our trip.  It will mean losing our reservation, but we can still go somewhere for a week or two.

This post has been full of "I" did this and "I" did that.  Craig has also been working his butt off.  I really do appreciate him.

Monday, July 22, 2013

We keep Checking things off!

Although throughout this process of getting the house ready for the market, Craig has been resistant to having a "to do" list, we finally have a working one that we have been listing things and checking things off. We wrote it together one day, and have been adding to it as we think of things that need to be done. I must admit the additions seem to outstrip the check offs at this point, but I feel the tide will turn soon.

In addition to a bit of repair work, Craig checked off "box and ship his books" and "pennies." Pennies? For forty-six years Craig has tossed his pennies into a cup on top of his dresser each day. When the cup got full they were transferred to a large container in the back of our closet. One container, two containers, five containers have moved with us and gathered dust over the years. Since they are a bit heavy, they can't go with us in the Alfa. I hauled out the containers several weeks ago and we both rolled pennies. I know we could have taken them to a coin sorting machine, but Craig wanted to roll them.

He took them to the bank on Friday. All 231 rolls. Grand total $115.50. I'm sure glad we have other retirement savings!

The books? It took him most of Thursday to pack them into nineteen 1.5 cubic foot boxes. Each weighed slightly less than 40 pounds. 

He sent them via Media mail so the postage cost wasn't too bad. It was a little less than $350 for all. Craig is happy they are going to someone who wants them. I'm wondering what his nephew's wife is going to say when those all those boxes are delivered.

This week is going to be very busy. We met with the realtor again this afternoon, are having the carpeting put in tomorrow, having a septic system inspection on Wednesday, and a termite inspection on Friday. Plus we will be doing as many smaller jobs as we can. 

If all goes well, we plan on taking a day off Thursday and going up to San Francisco to see an America's cup race. Sweden, New Zealand, and Italy are vying for the challenger position. The boats this time around are huge catamarans. I hope we can get a good view of them from the land. We are not sailors, but we have always had an interest in the America's Cup. We have seen the boats in San Diego and Auckland, and are looking forward to seeing them in San Francisco.

UPDATE: Thursday's race has only 1 boat in it! We don't know when we'll go!

A day away from all this work will be very welcome!

Although the house is not yet "on the market" we did sign a listing agreement today. A very important part of the marketing strategy is getting photographs done and doing a virtual tour for the web listing. By signing the listing agreement we are getting the ball rolling in that direction. Our goal is to have the house ready before we leave on our trip August 10th. If it is not, we may delay, but I think we can do it!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thanks for the support and encouragement

All of your supportive and encouraging comments are much appreciated right now.  I have been blogging about this, the end of our sticks and bricks time, in part to relieve the stress and also to encourage anyone who is thinking about it, to get started.  Hopefully this will also show them that this phase will pass and we will make it to our goal of becoming full time RVers.

I was thinking about my blog this morning and came to the conclusion that this process is somewhat like a long illness.  It is with you every day, some days seem harder than others, and your friends and family get tired of hearing about it.   Like with an illness, we have had help from our doctor, the handy man. I do know, in my heart, that we will get thru and recover fully. 

Today (Wednesday), I finished my jobs by 1:00 o'clock!

Looking down on the garden, from the deck, before spreading the bark.

Craig cut and emptied the bags, and I spread them with the rake. 

It took less than an hour to do the job!  Big improvement!

This is the collection of paints and stains I dealt with today.


I didn't take a picture of the empty shelf or space on the floor, but they have been sorted, emptied as needed, some put out to dry, and loaded up to take to the hazardous-waste place on Thursday. The motor oil has been poured into plastic containers, and I hope the HW people will tell me where to take it.  The rest of the van space has been filled with "to the dump stuff

Meanwhile, Craig went out and got our new smoke/carbon monoxide alarms as well as 40 boxes into which we will start packing his science fiction collection, to send to his nephew. He also installed the alarms, but grumbled that the California guidelines on where to install them are quite a mess.

So after a busy, but productive day, we indulged in home made Buffalo chicken wings.  I know, high in fat, but oh so good!

Do you enjoy an occasional forbidden indulgence?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One Step at a Time

Writing about my thoughts must have been a good thing to do, because I have once again found a fairly peaceful place to "be". Craig had a bad morning yesterday, acting grouchy and raw. When we talked about it later he said he thought it was because he has been working on the big things and kept telling himself that when he got them all done, he would be finished! Guess what. He wasn't. There are still a lot of smaller things that need attention. Truth be told, I think he will be working on things around here until the day we close the sale.

Today we took down several window screens and screen doors and took them off to the repair shop. Since we don't have many bugs here, the holes were not a big problem and if we weren't about to list we would have let them be for another couple of years. It's the sort of thing that doesn't really matter a lot, but fixing them does add to the feeling of a well-kept property. I doubt a buyer will notice the new screens, but they might have noticed the holes and the patio screen door that had been walked into several times.

We also bought thirty 2 cubic foot bags of decorative bark to spread in the rose garden. Or what is left of the rose garden. Over the years the trees have grown and it is a bit shaded for good roses.  There are still some that struggle, and perhaps it would be better to plant some shade-loving plants there instead, but I'm really not much of a gardener. A fresh spread of bark is the best we can do to spruce it up. Tomorrow I will be spreading it.

Another task on my to-do list for tomorrow is to sort and box up several dozen cans of old paint, varnish, stain, and other garage chemicals and get them ready to take to the HWD on Thursday. I also have to deal with quite a few quarts of old motor oil. Every time we have changed the oil on the house generator we put the oil aside in the corner of the garage. I now have to find the right place to take it for disposal! I might leave that for next week, I was reading that the oil has to be in plastic containers. Ours is mostly in large jars.

Such a FUN summer! Oh well, next year we will be somewhere else and I can look back on this and be glad we got thru it.

One bit of bad news. One of my followers suggested I contact a company that sell replacement china to see if they would buy mine. I did. They said no. They already have an overstock of that pattern. Darn! It seemed like a good option.

My efforts to list on craigslist have not been fruitful either. I guess Goodwill will be getting a very big load soon. We are going to have one yard sale at the end of the month. I hope someone comes.  We are not very centrally located. I very rarely see any yard sale signs around here.  

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Late Night Thoughts

Sometimes late at night, when I should be asleep my mind just won't relax. I'm sure many of my thoughts are similar to ones many full-timers have. Last night as I tried to fall asleep, I decided that today I would do a post about all the questions and thoughts that were running thru my mind at the time.

Funny thing is, now in the light of day, I really can't remember most of them, or can easily answer them for myself.

I guess they all revolve around one big one. "What if this is all a big mistake?"

I know no one can answer that for us.

I keep thinking of Aesop's fable about the dog who sees his reflection in the water. He has a bone in his mouth and so does the dog in the water. Trying to grab the other dog's bone, he loses his own.

We have a good life and live in a beautiful place. Are we reaching for an imaginary better one?

Today was an absolutely perfect day here in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The temperature was just perfect, no humidity, no wind, no bugs. I spent some time out on the deck listening to the birds and watching my deer friend and her two fawns. Craig decided he wanted one of our summer favorites for dinner, a large plate of tomatoes with fresh basil, a balsamic vinegar dressing, fresh provolone and mozzarella, with a crunchy fresh baked sweet baguette on the side. No problem! He just zipped down to town to our wonderful local grocery. A perfect meal, enjoyed together.

I think it's quite normal to have a few misgivings about what we are about to do. Do I want to stay here? NO! Maybe I'm just a little bit afraid of the unknown. For me the story ends with the sale of the house. "And they lived happily ever after..." 

I'm tired of waiting. I'm ready to start living the sequel.

I know we will never be able to come back and live in this house again, but if we don't like full timing we can always settle down somewhere else. And if we love the RV lifestyle as much as I expect to, there will still come a time when our bodies will want to stop traveling.

We are going to talk to an investment advisor this week to get some advice on how to set things up after the house sells. I know we should have an "exit" plan.

The house is not listed yet, but having some ideas and information in advance will lessen the number of unknowns. We need to talk to at least two companies. I want to find the best one that will do it all. Investments, ATM card, money market account, and online bill pay. When all is said and done and the house does sell I want to have the information we need to make the best decisions for us.

Do any of you use Charles Schwab or Fidelity?

Any suggestions on what companies to consider?

Friday, July 12, 2013

ER Again!

Somehow when I hear a certain distinctive sound in Craig's voice as he yells out "Merikay", I know it means a bandaid or a trip to the ER.

This time it was a trip to the ER because he had cut his arm with our power cutoff saw as he was cutting new baseboard pieces for the bathroom.

He yelled, I responded and met him in the bathroom to apply a pressure bandage. I grabbed my purse and keys and we were off.

When we got to the top of our road we had a brief discussion as to whether to go to the urgent care center in Scotts Valley or the ER in Los Gatos. I had not really seen the extent of the cut, but it was a power tool and it was his wrist, so I opted for the ER. 

I dropped him off at the door and parked the car. By the time I got in they had already triaged him into the inner sanctum rather than the outer waiting room. He was quickly seen by a physician's assistant who seemed to cringe at the words "power saw" but after looking at the cut, told us Craig was very lucky. It didn't look deep, and by the way "could he still move all of his fingers?"

The bleeding had stopped, so we were then sent out to wait. And wait. And wait. 

I'm pretty cool about such waits. After all, it wasn't my arm. However, Craig got a bit grumpy. The PA walked by and Craig said "you were wrong". The PA asked what he meant and Craig replied "I'm not lucky. We came here!" The PA made a face and went away.

Finally, Craig was called to be stitched up, and I got a good look at the cut. It wasn't too deep. He was indeed very lucky.

I sure will be glad when this house fix-up is finished.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A little about how I designed the tote

Note: I was a good girl and spent the morning working on sorting papers!  Got a lot done.

I thought I might write a bit more about designing the grocery tote. 

To Gay and Joe, no, I do not have a pattern of any kind. For the structure dimensions I just measured the bag I wanted to put into it.  It is basically just a box.  For the birds, butterflies, and flowers, I looked at pictures on the web, and then roughed out my own.  The actual images are created as I stitch, since I really can't draw much better than a sixth grader. I undo frequently.

For Karen, I don't know what the overall design will be, because I don't plan it out.  As I worked on each image, I was aware of the spaces around it and  played with ideas of what will fit in next.

This is how I designed the flower side: 

I started with the pink fuchsias on the top because I wanted flowers that hung down.  The lavender flowers on the left are wisteria which also hang down. The small leaves above the wisteria visually contrast with the larger leaves of the fuchsias.

Although I had thought I would do only flowers on this side, I added the hummingbird because they love fuchsias.  I looked at a color picture on the web of a ruby throated hummer. You can't see it on this picture, but I used iridescent embroidery floss for his head and throat. I had seen it at the craft store a few days earlier and once I had decided on a hummer I bought it, and tried it on a sample before using it on the tote.

As I built each side, I filled in some of the areas of black background. I knew I was going to lose the hummer's beak if I didn't put something lighter behind it, so I added the green leaf.

I wanted a large flower that came up from the bottom. The idea of using bird of paradise came to me as I was falling asleep.  The next day I looked at some web images and discovered they could be yellow, orange, or red.  I chose red. 

After finishing them, I filled in the rest of the black on that side and decided the lower right corner needed something.  I did the little star flowers as an over-stitch.  They are a repeat element from one of the other sides. As I look at it now, I think I over did hem a bit.  Sometimes less is more.

I wanted do some yellow roses in the mid section of the space, but after three tries and rip-outs I settled for anonymous petaled flowers. (I will be experimenting with rose images in the future, I don't like to be defeated.) 

The final addition was the two tiger lilies in the lower left corner. They were inspired by images by Al in Travels With The Bayfield Bunch

So, there you have it.  A blow by blow of how I think.  I remember when I was creating animal heads I would have an overall goal in mind, but had to concentrate on creating the whole, piece by piece.
It just happened.  Sometimes things work, and sometimes they end in the trash.  The nice thing is I'm doing it for me now, not to sell.

Was this interesting to anyone?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Another Week

I wish I had a more enticing headline, but all I can say is another week has gone by and we got more things done.  Now we just have a lot of little things to do and a lot things to get rid of!

One of these days we will look around and say "OK it's time to list" and just do it.

I no longer feel stressed out about "when."  I know Craig wants to be done with it as much as I do, and we will be done when we are done!

Meanwhile, I have enjoyed many hours working on my latest needlepoint project.  If I can't be posting pictures of where we are, or what we are doing on the house, I guess I will just have to post pictures of my latest crafty project.

I don't know about what is happening in the rest of the country, but here in California more and more stores are not giving you bags for your purchases anymore.  You can buy bags or bring your own.

We have several reusable grocery totes that we keep in the car and van.  The problem is we almost always forget to take them into the store with us.  Then when we get to the check out, one of us has to go back to the car to get them.  

So I decided to make a needle point reusable grocery tote that I wouldn't forget to take in with me.  I didn't have a design in mind when I started.  I just knew I wanted to use bright colors and a black background.  Each panel just evolved.

This is the first side panel. 

It's a bit flat and the elements are stiff.

But by the time I had finished with it I had established the theme elements: birds, butterflies, and flowers.

On the second side I explored butterflies a bit more. I used a very old design technique of moving from small to large and warm colors to cool.

On the first large side, I played with fun, colorful, imaginary birds.

I like them all except for the rather dopy looking parrot, but I needed something in that corner. 

I am pleased with the way the tiger lilies came out on this the last of the four sides.

Instead of making the handles with the stiff needlepoint canvas, I lined the tote with a reusable bag from Walmart. It is held in place with a retaining strip and Velcro. This way the handles of the Walmart bag will take the weight of the groceries. The needlepoint becomes more of a shell and will be less likely to get deformed. 

When the Walmart bag becomes dirty or worn, I can easily replace it with a fresh one.

I figure I am less likely to forget this tote after all the hours I spent making it.  It will also be a good place to keep the other reusable bags we normally have strewn on the back floor of the car.  It should keep them cleaner as well.Although they are not shown here, I have found something to use as a hook so I can hang the tote from the cart handle instead of putting it in the cart and covering it with groceries.

I do have work to do around the house that I have been avoiding. I'm not going to allow myself to pick up a needle until I have dealt with all the papers piled up in the dining room.  I've been ignoring them for weeks, but they won't go away or be sorted by themselves.  

Do you put unpleasant jobs off? How do you get yourself motivated?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

All is well, I hope!

One of the twins. 

Their mom is just starting to let them come out of hiding at the edge of the forest below our house.

We seem to be getting something, or part of something done every day. I think all the hard work Craig has been doing has been good for him. He is not into "exercise" but working on the house every day has been just that. The best news is, barring the unexpected, we can see an end to it!

We have talked to three Realtors and have chosen the one we want to work with. It is a team, but not the team I originally thought we would list with. I feel good about them and so does Craig. All three market analysis presentations came up with similar price recommendations. 

We have not yet decided on an asking price nor when we will actually list, but we are moving in that direction.

Meanwhile we are slowly getting things cleared out.

Today we found a "home" for Craig's books. 

Craig's nephew in Wisconsin says he would like to have them. All we have to do is get them there. We know it will cost a lot to ship them, but this is his lifetime collection and he really wants it to go to someone who wants it. We can visit the books someday!

Now there really are only two large personal items left: Craig's audio system and my china. My daughter has quite different taste from mine and my china doesn't suit her. We may have a nibble on the audio system. 

My accomplishment for the last two days was to clear out the rest of the attic. Last year I removed just about everything except all the big empty boxes from all the electronics we have bought over the years. Big printer boxes, big computer boxes, and a number of components for home theatre system. 

We kept a few, but I flattened most of them and took them to the recycling place today. Along with the cartons from the two new vanities in the bathrooms, they made a very full van load. 

Although the recycler accepted them, he didn't pay me anything. He told me of a place that would if they were bundled, but it was too much trouble on a hot, hot day. I was just glad to get rid of them.

A final bit of progress is that the carpet man is coming again tomorrow and we will make our final selection and place the order. Most of the dirty work is done. We will probably get the new carpet installed in about two weeks. Craig has a lot of new baseboards that he has stained and wants to install them after the carpeting.

39 days until our Washington trip!

We may be listed by then, or it may be a vacation before the final push to get on the market.  Two of the Realtors seemed to think September was a good time to have a new listing, and that August is often the slowest month of the year. 

We shall see. 

Monday, July 1, 2013


Just before going to bed I took a quick look at CNN news.

I was horrified by the announcement that 19 firefighters were lost fighting a wildfire in Arizona.

I find it hard to sleep tonight, thinking about what pain the families of these men and probably a few women are experiencing tonight.

Every death of this kind is horrible.  Nineteen at one time is unthinkable. 

One of the sad things about it is knowing when it comes down to "why" it is really all about property and stuff.

We think they fight fire to save the forest or the land.  Fire is a natural event. The forest will recover.  It will take years, perhaps generations, but in earth time the land will heal and life will return.

In truth, fighting wildfires is to save manmade structures, people's things, and preserve present day property values. Short term reasons.  We cannot wait for nature to heal the land. 

Some will say it was god's will and they will gather in churches all over the country to cry and sing.  Then they will go home and be glad their houses didn't burn down, and their stuff is safe.

I live in a place that could burn down in a wildfire. To me these men were heroes, and my heart goes out to their loved  ones and their community.

Thats all.