Images, Minimalism, Old Diary

My New Middle Name

Reading WordPress Reader yesterday was helpful. I linked across to a new blogger (to me).  In an article about remaining compassionate in the midst of turmoil I took inspiration for this re-work of an image from our trip last fall with our daughter to South Carolina.  If you want to see the blog that triggered my thinking, here it is:  Everyday Gurus!  That blog also inspired part of this entry’s content.

I realized something about myself through that blog….

My middle name should be “Antecedent”

I’ve always been a problem solver.  It’s who I am.  Mostly, I solve problems was because those who preceded me failed to look for causes:  antecedents.  That which went before.

My co-workers (in those early years before I discovered self-employment) would get angry with me.  They would schedule meetings at which little or nothing ever changed.  Too often I’d sit through an entire meeting thinking about the first topic under consideration — also the first topic to be tabled till the next meeting.  About the time the meeting was ending I would have worked through the details of the first agenda item, diagnosed the cause, formulated a solution and just when the boss wanted to gavel the meeting to a close I’d suggest returning to that first item….. (and at least we took that item off the agenda for the next meeting.)

The blog I referred to was about compassion.  I don’t hear that word very often.  But it reminded me of things I’ve forgotten. And of the fact that compassion is (at least in my mind) linked irreversibly to “Being.”  It’s easy to lose compassion when we aren’t in touch with our own humanity. If we don’t see other people as unique personalities who hurt and laugh and ache then we don’t realize that we can, or have, hurt them.  That happens for most of us when we are pressured, stressed, under duress.  But the definition of compassion also includes a sense of superiority/judgment — that we have a right/ability to determine what is suffering or misfortune.  As if we can decide what is good for them.  Or what they need.  Or should have. And sometimes when being compassionate we forget that someone else has the right to make their own decisions — good or bad — and that we don’t have the right to interfere with them being them.

COMPASSION: Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others: “the victims should be treated with compassion”.

I came to realize that the antecedent in this housing delay is my pacifism.   I believe in peace.   At my absolute core is a dislike for anything confrontational.

Furthermore, I believe that people buy from people — a boss several decades ago taught me that and I believe it to this day…. we tend to connect with people in ways that we don’t connect with machines.  (Whether that will still be true in 20 or 30 years with the insinuation of computers into our life has yet to be seen. Heck sometimes you can’t even get a hold of a human on a phone line anymore.) The point is that for millennia the decision to purchase has been a function of two people interacting between themselves.

Perhaps that dislike for confrontation is why I dislike lawyers:  they presuppose that any two parties are at odds.  It is an essential assumption of superiority.  I realize now that my dislike for lawyers oozes over onto real estate agents too!  Real estate people have a reputation for not wanting buyers and sellers to meet face to face. That is diametrically opposed to how I think.

I can see some of their reasoning. But only some.

Not everyone is honest. Sellers might say too much. Buyers might expect too much. One party might tick off the other party.  If buyers and sellers talk all sorts of things could happen to screw up a sale.  And we can’t forget that a salesman’s prime directive is in closing a sale, not in making friends.  They may make friends as a side effect of good service but who likes a friendly real estate agent who can’t sell a house?

This old geezer (me) who genuinely likes people (in carefully controlled doses), believes that two people can work things out if they sit down together and talk things through.  I want to sell the house and get a fair price. The buyer wants to buy the house at a fair price for what they are buying.  There is nothing wrong with what either side wants.  But show me any situation where two people who want to communicate — but are forced to do it through the interpretation of two additional people —  will have an easier time understanding each other than they would if they just talked face to face.  Somehow it just seems that adding people to that communication chain makes things harder.

I think that our two agents have finally figured that out.  They now agree that the seller is acting in good faith (that’s us) and the buyer is acting in good faith.  Hooray!  A conversation today seems to have sorted through the remaining sticky details.  We are willing.  He is willing. We have two people who want to do a deal — I’m hopeful we can get this sorted.

Tomorrow we leave for Elkhart: to deliver Journey for her new floor and sofa — I’ll have to work on the sticking points next week.  But we’ll do our best to get it twigged!

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Twenty-Seven days till closing? Let’s hope so.

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Minimalism, Old Diary

Good News on the Inspection

We are being guardedly optimistic that the deal will go through!  We returned home yesterday about 3:30 and the buyer was still on premise finishing up their inspection — 7 1/2 hours later.  There were little things they anticipated but he sounded quite satisfied with what they learned and he’s eager to take possession.

As for ourselves, aside from being on pins and needles over the weekend we were ok, and happy to have the last part of the transaction that we can have any input on completed.  From here on in, what needs doing has to be done by someone else.

SPGHILLschaumWe stayed at the Springhill Suites in Schaumburg and thoroughly enjoyed our time.  This has to be my favorite hotel!  We’ve only been here three times (I think) but each stay has been wonderful and they do a good job of keeping the property updated and improved.  We made a very short stop at IKEA right next door.  Didn’t buy very much — about $3.00 worth.  But the hour spent there was long enough to give us time to decide that what we wanted was NOT being in the middle of the city and TO be in a garden…. So we bopped over to the Chicago Botanic Gardens for the third time in as many weeks and it’s hard to believe how much changes in just a few days.  The 5500 oriental poppies that had been planted the day of our first visit were already bloomed and past bloom!  A lot of other specific changes took place but suffice it to say it was a wonderful cool afternoon with a LOT of people at the gardens — but fewer than we would have found most anywhere else in Chicagoland. IKEAschaum

So, now we turn our attention to next weekend and the trip to Elkhart.  We have plans beyond Elkhart, which I’ll share once I see the final weather forecast.  We’re excited!

This week I do want to bring Journey back over to the house, so I can get those faucets installed and see about getting our DISH network receiver working and our account setup.

So, things are looking as good as we can hope.  There are lots of undercurrents and back stories I could tell.  Some of them might come out after the deal is done; you never want to jinx something by talking about it too much.  I’m sure you can respect that.

So, Happy Peter, signing off for today…. Talk with you tomorrow.

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Thirty Two Days???? We Hope!

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Minimalism, Old Diary

One Hurdle Overcome

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36 days till closing

Talk about hormonal downs and ups! Wednesday was full of them.

Loan appraisals are less about whether the property to be purchased is worth the dollars lent, and more about whether the lender could get their money back should the buyer default.  As a result, a buyer’s appraiser looks very carefully at the nature of the building and whether they feel there is a market for such buildings.  In our case, our very unique building could be seen as a lending risk.  Our agent, Julie, did a good job of covering us with fact and honest and after a very fitful night and waking up grumpy we got a call from Julie around 9:30 to tell us that the appraisal went just fine and the lender is satisfied with the building’s risk level.

One Big Hurdle Down

Vector Athlete running and jumping over hurdles

And one more big hurdle ahead, on Sunday.  And our solution for coping with that one is to….

Run Away….

Well, at least for an evening.

The inspection is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. and I’m sure if we are here anticipating getting up and out of the house by 8 a.m. that neither of us is going to get a good night’s sleep.  So, we’re going to head out of town for the night to a place we’ve stayed before with a decent weekend rate.

I’m not all that happy spending as much money as we have during this time but right now minding our blood pressure and making sure we don’t stroke out or some such thing is higher on our priority list than being cheap and holding onto all our nerves and stress.  As far as I’m concerned the expenses of the next 36 days go under the category of wellness care.

Chicago Botanical

We enjoyed another day at Chicago Botanical. Since our last visit it’s amazing how many flowers have broken out into full bloom.  It’s still early in the season but on a day with 76 degrees and clear skies it was good to be out and soaking up Vitamin D.

I’ll put up some images from the day after I get a chance to work on them.  Right now I owe my daughter some images that I need to get to work on.

Talk to you tomorrow. 🙂

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Minimalism, Old Diary

Inspections Scheduled

Monday was wait, wait, wait.  Tuesday was MOVE FORWARD by leaps!

Our fourth upholstery option came through for us.  We contracted the job, and high-tailed it over to JoAnn Fabrics where we found fabric yesterday that we liked.  We got enough for the job and a little left over for 50% off and this morning we will drop the fabric off with the upholstery guy.

We are getting an early start because one of of our two inspections is due to begin about the time this blog entry posts.   The appraiser is due here at 8:30 — our agent is taking him through — so we are on the road to the upholsterer’s and then down to Chicago Botanic Gardens to catch some more of the spring flowers there.

Our second inspection will happen on Sunday — at 8:00 am.  Not sure what we will do to be out of the house but looks like we’ll be gone all day.

If both inspections come off as hoped our deal should be good to go.  I’d be happy about that because we have stepped out on faith as regards the updates to Journey so it would be good to see our faith rewarded.

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Thirty Seven more Days till Closing

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Minimalism, Old Diary

Wait, wait, wait

I enjoy watching old movies — mostly because of the black and white images, partly because of the “different” world I see there.  One of the most interesting aspects to me has been how old movies treat servants.  I should say going in that the idea of living with a servant is absolutely repulsive — I would hate having someone else living in a house with me and waiting on me to give them things to do.  That just isn’t our thing.  But….

Right now Peg & I are sort of getting our chance to pretend we are the servants!  That is, from the aspect that we are awaiting inspection contingencies for our contract.  Sort of waitin’ on Massa’ to decide what he’s doing and hence what we have to do!  home inspection

  • We anticipate a home inspection sometime in the next 120 hours.
  • We anticipate an appraiser through the property sometime in the next 240 hours.

You’ve probably seen some of those old movies where the butler seems to be awake at any and every hour of the day just a-waitin’ on the man of the house to return home, or the cook with something always ready to eat in the kitchen?  Living a self-less life is an interesting sensation.

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An ancient annunciator panel for the household servants

I think Debbie tired us both out because we were both tuckered and not in a big hurry to tackle much of anything. I got the new LED bulbs install in Journey.  Now the only high energy lights left are the ceiling fluorescents and I’m going to wait to see how much boondocking we do before changing them out.

I got the DISH receiver up into the cabinet — still have to Velcro it in place — but everything fits nicely.  I’ll wait until the 1st of May to do the paperwork and get an account set up. We’ll end up paying for 1 month we won’t be using — so that I can get the system in and installed and any trouble-shooting done before we head out of Milwaukee.

Upholstering

sewing upholsteryOn this front, yesterday proved to be less productive than I had thought.  I had good hopes of taking the cushions to someone I thought might be our cushion re-upholstering solution only to find he was not.  Nor was my second option.  Our third option can do the job but not in the time provided, and for more money than I want to spend.  Our fourth option hasn’t returned phone calls or emails.  So, I’m at sixes and sevens.

We did visit three fabric stores, and at the last store we found a fabric we like.  Our granddaughter’s sewing machine isn’t heavy enough to do the work ourselves — and for that matter I don’t think either Peg or My sewing skills are up for that challenge.  We’re in a sort of holding pattern here too.  I’ll see if we get a response today.  It would be nice to give someone local the business.  If that doesn’t work we might be forced to use Bradd & Hall even if they have to ship the cushions a week or two after we have picked up Journey.

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thirty eight days before closing

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Journey DL, Old Diary

Keep Calm and Carry On

The other evening I was reading one of my favorite authors, Peter Mayle, a quirky collection of essays called Acquired Tastes. As I read along I came upon this passage in the introduction:

I am not sure at all that [people of extraordinary means] enjoy themselves as much as we think they do.  And Why?  Because, damn it, something is always not quite right

Expectations tend to increase in direct proportion to the amount of money being spent, and if you’re spending a fortune you expect perfection.  Alas, life being the badly organized shambles that it so often is, and with so much of it dependent on the behavior of erratic equipment (servants), perfection is rare.  After a while, the rich realize this, and then they start looking for trouble.  I’ve seen them do it.  Details that we would consider trivial assume enormous significance: the breakfast egg is inedible because it is marginally underboiled, the silk shirt is unwearable because of a barely visible wrinkle, the chauffeur is insupportable because he’s been eating garlic again, the doorman is either insufficiently attentive or overfamiliar –– the list of maddening blots on the landscape of life just goes on and on.  How can you have a nice day if some fool hasn’t warmed your socks or ironed your newspaper properly?

I remember a fact-finding mission to a luxury hotel in Venice, a magnificent establishment with an equally magnificent chef. Impossible, I thought, to fail to enjoy dinner in such a place.  But I was wrong. Sitting at the next table were four resplendent examples of old money from Milan.  They were not happy.  The white wine was not chilled exactly to their taste.  A finger was lifted, but the waiter took longer than thirty seconds to arrive.  Good grief, what is the world coming to? Throughout the dinner, I could hear totally unjustified mutterings of discontent. NO matter how delicious the food, how splendid the surroundings, things were not quite right.  And this atmosphere –– almost suspicious, poised for disappointment –– pervaded the entire room.  There wasn’t a jolly millionaire in sight.  It was the first and only time I have ever eaten in a subdued Italian restaurant.

After a few experiences like this the thought of living permanently among the rich doesn’t appeal to me at all. But I have to say that some of their minor investments … are extremely pleasant and potentially habit forming…

It’s entirely possible that this is the best illustration of why I no longer care for the trappings of wealth.

There was a time when I was crazy mad about a career.  I wanted to advance at work (before I turned to my photography), to get money — lots of it — and to make a name for myself. Things did not go according to my plans and my first few jobs put me in positions right near the owners of several businesses. Having the chance to hobnob  (on a small scale) with business owners it didn’t take long before I realized that these guys (and in those days they WERE all guys) weren’t very happy at all.  What’s more, they worked so hard they hardly saw their family, or their spouse, and they surely weren’t happy about money:  they worried about it, the horded it, the wanted ever more no matter how much they had.  All this while I was poor as a church mouse but I had a wife I loved, and eventually Kathryn came along and I was delighted to have a family.

In short order what I wanted out of life changed;  it changed dramatically. I still worked hard — usually harder than other employees in whatever department I might have been — I was never afraid of hard work.  But advancement wasn’t exactly what I wanted.  Peg and I learned to live below our means — finding it much easier to be happy when we weren’t up to our eyeballs in debt.  We got to the point that I’d balance the checkbook every few months, I knew there was money there because we simply didn’t spend every penny we made.  I probably shouldn’t have been quite so cavalier about money — but that’s me.  We scrimped and saved to do things others on our sort of income didn’t seem to do, or couldn’t afford to do — but it was possible because what other people though of as necessities we valued as luxuries; and we didn’t have all those toys that we might have easily been convinced were essential.

I have no regrets at all.  Our retirement may not be as plush as some of our friends.  Our RV is 10 yrs old, our car is 8 yrs.  We go out to dinner a few times a month but no longer at the posh places we might have chosen 40 years ago.  We are comfortable because our expectations are lower and we can afford to be delighted with almost anything that happens.  We can enjoy our life.  And our retirement.

It’s possible to live with so much less than we U.S. citizens think.  I love this old image from the London Blitz — not for all the rubble and damage but for the simple smile on the Milkman’s face.  All we need to is keep calm and carry on.

I’d like to think that we’ll get a buyer for our house in a few hours or a few days at most…. but I don’t know what will happen.  All I do know is that if you want challenges, then this photo is a challenge….. and all you need do is

Keep Calm, and Carry On…

This is what "Keep Calm and Carry On" really looked like

This is what “Keep Calm and Carry On” really looked like

  • Calm (whatdoyareckon.wordpress.com)
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Minimalism

Show Up, Show Down, Merry-Go-Round

MerryGoRound

Selling A House is Like Riding a Merry-Go-Round

I suspect that selling a house is about as close as any male can come to understanding P.M.S.  Fortunately it doesn’t come with cramps!  Having said that, there are other physical symptoms that are sometimes associated with home-seller-itis: among them sleeplessness, nervous stomach and other symptoms related to stress.  The good part about  home-seller-itis is that it doesn’t recur monthly year after year.  Well, not unless you are really into real estate.

Bay View Homes scheduled showing #9 yesterday.  It was a potential buyer who was supposed to see the house/school last week and cancelled at the last minute.  The showing seemed to go reasonably well.  It’s a couple who look like they would respect the building for what it is.  They seemed interested.

Once again we enter that period of time when a good showing turns into a weekend or a week of waiting.  No matter what we do there’s nothing we can do to intervene.  One guesses and second-guesses how well the showing came off.  It’s hard — each and every single time — not to get excited and optimistic and hopeful.  But nothing counts; at least nothing short of an offer to purchase.  And so we wait through the weekend, and who knows how long into the week, to see whether this will be the buyer for us.

Why write about this one?

That’s simple.  As a person goes through the home-selling process dealing with the timing of a sale is hard on anyone who isn’t lucky enough to sell in the first couple weeks.

There is a small house — I suspect it’s about, or even smaller than 1,000 sq ft.  — not far from us.  It’s a 1950’s property that has been on the market off and on again for at least 4 years.  Considering that I am often chronologically challenged it could be longer than that but I have little by way of a touchstone to assess the total time on the market.

The couple selling are in their late 80’s.  They moved out of the property well over 3 years ago.  They had it listed with multiple realtors; there were periods when the house wasn’t in the market; and there were periods when there was a For Sale By Owner sign out front.

Midweek cars arrived at the home, and began unpacking furniture, and bicycles, and plants.  The home has sold.  We have new neighbors (sort of — they aren’t that close).

I cannot imagine what that old couple thought about the time it was taking to sell their home.  They had been there 30-40 years.  They raised their family there.  I’m sure their retirement plans did not include waiting four years to free up the capital they had in that home.

Nor did we expect we’d be still in the process of selling our home at this point.  But the time has been well used by some of us.

Peg and I got out in Journey last year, we sort of took her for a shakedown trip.

We figured out what major changes we wanted to make to the coach.

Michael and Kathryn found the new-to-them old (100+ yrs old) building for his business, and they closed on it last year.

Their plan had been to utilize the entire building for business.

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The New Old Building

But over the last 3/4 year those plans had time to morph and new ideas took root.  Rather than rent part of the space to unreliable tenants someone floated the idea of using all the space themselves — converting part of the building into residential space.

But isn’t it wonderful to have a dream so big that other people think you are crazy?  Isn’t it wonderful to dare go places no one else you know is willing to venture?

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as it looked before taking ownership

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as it looks recently after much of the detritus has been removed.

Sometimes buildings don’t speak to us immediately.  Sometimes a building needs to know it’s fate is safe in the hands of the new owner before it will surrender up it’s secrets and tell you just what it wants to be. Once their building started talking it nearly scared the pants off them! Our daughter and Son-in-Law have a big job ahead of them.  The renovations to the old structure and making plans on how to retool the space for their future business and family needs are a job big enough that a lot of folks would never even try what our kids are up to.

There’s room for fear, there’s room for doubt, there’s room for city inspections and zoning worries.  They will face financial binds, they will learn to be more creative with their plans. But most of all they are building more of a life together.  After 20 years of marriage they are starting off on a new and exciting adventure.

The reason I bring all of this up at the moment is some of these things would not have happened if our house had sold right away.  Michael would have gone ahead with his first plan to utilize the entire building for business and he would have poured a lot of money into walls and renovations so that a tenant could use part of the building for their business and bring in some cashflow while Michael used the rest of the building.  All while continuing to pay real estate taxes and expenses on the home they own in Bay View.  And, had they decided to change plans in midstream — to decide at a later date to switch over to a mixed use building — then all those renovations would have been money down the drain.

It took time for the idea of tackling this huge project to percolate through their brains.  It took time to formulate workable plans for a mixed use building.  It all took time. Time they would not have had if our school sold quickly.

Sure, there have been days when Peggy and I wished our house would have sold the first week it was on the market.  It didn’t. We have had our days and night of frustration and impatience.  All the while that was going on in us, the kids had time to think.  Time they used very well it would seem.  We have lived with the ups of waiting for the next showing, and taking the buyers through the property (which the first couple buyers never even saw all of — because there was no one here to guide them through all 21 spaces) And after the showings we have lived with the downs or waiting, and waiting, and waiting.  We have had interested parties with no money; we have had lookey-loos; we have had snobs come through who never should have viewed the property in the first place — what they wanted clearly was not what we were selling. We have gone round and round on the real estate merry-go-round.  And while we were doing that our daughter and son-in-law had time to think and plan and dream big dreams.

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The Roof at the New-Old building

Isn’t it wonderful to have a dream so big that other people think you are crazy?  Isn’t it wonderful to dare go places no one else you know is willing to venture?

When we bought the school people thought we were crazy.  I guess crazy runs in the family.

I’m just happy our kids have the courage to dream big dreams and to step out on faith to make their dreams a reality.

Oh, I might have liked to be a former homeowner…but I’m glad that they have had the time to see the light at the end of their tunnel.

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