Nine years

It was a day for some reflection today, on a few things.

I'm going okay with respect to Gran. Some days it's harder than others, when there are some things that remind me of her constantly. I'm guessing when Rick and I take her back to England in October it will be quite emotional. I've reached out to the church where Gordie is buried and they will make all the arrangments. They said that where Gordie is buried is quite overgrown, but they will clear it out before October so we can add Gran. It makes me a little sad that where we bury her will get overgrown and neglected, but it will be in England, where she wanted, and that's the most important thing. Rick has suggested keeping a small portion of her ashes just for me, but I don't think I'll do that. I won't need it.

In every other respect, I've had many reasons to pause to think how lucky I am right now. That the times Rick and I have currently are just how I'd like them to be forever. We're both in good health. We both have good jobs, we have a decent house, and we make enough money that we don't have to worry about keeping the dogs in kibble or being able to pay for indulgences (see: trip to England scheduled for October). Thanks to regular workouts (both with Rick and a personal trainer), I've never been in better shape. Even with flawed lungs, I can do pretty much everything I want to do. I'm a very lucky woman.

All starting around nine years ago. It's somewhat appropriate to discuss because of Ashley Madison being in the news. AM is where Rick and I met. I was just looking for someone who might be nice to me most of the time. Rick was looking for someone that he could connect with in addition to having sex. We both found a whole lot more than that.

When this first broke, Rick said to me, "You don't need to look for me in that database." It's funny, because it hadn't even crossed my mind to check. Of course he would be in the database, from several years ago. I would be too. Both Rick and I used fake names and email addresses when we signed up, but I never had to enter a credit card number because women don't have to pay at such sites. So the only trace of either one of us would be an old credit card from Rick. Of course, Rick was referring to any recent use - that's what didn't even cross my mind.

So, nine years and one week ago, Rick and I met for the first time. Today was the day nine years ago that I went to visit Rick at his apartment, and the rest is history. I don't think nine years ago I could have even imagined where I am today. Fortunately, I still have Tesla and Diablo. I've been married to Rick for over seven years. I have a MBA, and I'm far more successful in my career as a result. I weigh 25 pounds more, but I'm healthier and in much better shape. I'm content, comfortable and happy, and try every day to make sure Rick is too.

What a difference nine years makes!


It's been a week. I suppose it's time to talk about Gran.

In hindsight, as I may have expressed, I wondered if breaking her hip was the beginning of the end. I'd always said that when Gran lost her mobility that would be pretty much it.

The warning signs were there; when Gran returned to the assisted living home after the surgery, I got calls from the staff telling me that she wasn't eating or drinking as much as usual. She wasn't being cranky about it, she would eat a little, and then be done. Any efforts to bring food or a drink to her mouth would be met with a smile and a turn of the head. Then, there were the calls I was getting every 10 days or so, asking me for approval to increase her pain med dose (they always called me with any change in meds). That Thursday, they'd called me asking for approval for another increase, this time to be administered with a patch. A large part of me wondered why, if the surgery had happened three weeks prior, the need for pain meds was increasing rather than decreasing. The physical therapy seemed to be going well, Gran was trying to make efforts to get out of her wheelchair and walk again.

On Friday at noon I got a call from the home saying that she hadn't reacted well to the pain med patch, so they had removed it. Her vital signs were fluctuating, and they wanted to know if I wanted to have her sent to the ER, or just monitored there to see how things went. I asked about the half life of the pain med patch - it was a couple hours, so I said to have her monitored for a couple hours and see how it went. By the time I got home (a couple hours later) I received another call saying that her vitals were unstable so the doctor had sent her to the ER.

At 4 o'clock I got a call from the ER nurse asking me to confirm palliative care, and that while they were waiting on lab results, they believed Fran had sepsis. I googled that and found that means a blood infection but doesn't provide much more information. The nurse also went on to say that if there was any family in the area, that was the time to call them in case they wanted any time with Fran.

I hadn't been expecting quite that kind of call, so didn't even think to ask questions. About half an hour later I did; and ended up talking to the doctor. She confirmed that Gran had pneumonia, it was quite severe, and she didn't expect Gran to last the night. She again confirmed palliative care; assured me that Gran was comfortable and they would look after her.

Obviously I didn't sleep well that night, waiting for the phone to ring. It rang at 3:10 a.m. The nurse on duty had just provide Gran some meds half an hour prior; when she's gone to check on Gran about 20 minutes later, Gran was gone. So much for sleep the rest of the night.

In the morning we booked plane tickets to Hometown and talked about what else needed to be done (bank accounts, lawyers, etc.). Carrie, who had been with us for a week and was leaving that day to go visit Jenna, commented later to Rick that we both seemed so organized, talking about everything that needed to be done. Rick said he explained to Carrie that this was something we'd expected for a while, but was still hard to get through, but focusing on what needed to be done helped me get through it. Carrie is coming back for another visit in about a week, I'm sure we'll talk about it then.

Since we'd booked a redeye flight, we had a few hours to get things straight here. Like a gift out of nowhere our old dogsitters have started dogsitting again so we could have the boys stay home. I started looking through old pictures of Gran. I knew she didn't want an open casket; so I needed to find a suitable picture. Her favourite picture of herself was a portrait that she'd had done when she was 23; she used to have it sitting on her dresser when she was still at home. While looking for that, I found several others from when she was young. Rick offered to scan them all just in case. His original thought was to put together a little video with music; but I thought that would take too much time. We scanned them with the idea of printing them out for a little photo book for the visitation and service.

On getting to Hometown early the next day, our first visit was with the funeral home. I chose the same place that had taken care of Gordie in 1999. They still had his file on hand, so they were able to tell me exactly what we'd arranged for him so we could have something similar for Gran. Funerals have come a long way in the last 16 years. These days, there are funeral packages, which combine pretty much everything you need in one (and a couple things you don't). I elected to have Gran cremated - she had been very clear on that - but not embalmed; there was only a private showing for me and Rick. To me this was the biggest decision I waffled on. There are old family friends that like to think they were closer to Gran than they were; if I didn't offer them visitation I could only imagine the grief I would get from them afterwards, making a big scene about not being able to say goodbye, or complaining that I hadn't had Fran embalmed, wailing how Gran was their godmother, and so on. Fortunately, the funeral director really helped in that respect, simply asking, "Who's paying for this?". With that, I was able to decide, private showing, no embalming. I would offer the family friends the opportunity to share in the viewing, but the schedule was tight. I wanted to bring Gran back with me; so that meant having her cremated before the visitation and service. Showing would be Monday, cremation Tuesday, visitation Wednesday, service Thursday.

I called the family friends after we got finished with the funeral director. One sister would have come but couldn't because she didn't have a current passport. The other sister - the one who was Gran'd goddaughter and had given me all kinds of grief of how I cared for Gran - I didn't hear from at all. She later posted something on Gran's obituary website. So that part made it easy.

Rick and I got to say goodbye to Gran on Monday. Since there was no embalming, there was limited "preparation". Gran was dressed in a simple white shroud. I could see she'd lost weight over the past few weeks. But honestly, as odd as it is to say this - she looked absolutely beautiful. I'm glad that's the last vision I'll have of her.

The rest of the week was just a huge ball of stress. We met with the lawyer, who told me to nobody's surprise, that I was the executor of the estate as well as the sole beneficiary. So you'd think that would make things easy, right? Of course not. We went to the bank, where Gran had her last three banking accounts, all of which I've been managing for the last 20 years (she had had more than that, but we consolidated over time). We learned there that of the three accounts, they would only release funds for one because I specifically named the beneficiary for that one. The other two weren't of a kind where a beneficiary was named, so the bank was going to insist on taking the accounts through probate court. Even though 1) Gran and Gordie had been clients with that bank for going on 50 years, 2) I'd been managing their accounts with that bank for 20 years, 3) I'd been a client of that bank myself when I was living in Hometown, 4) I had a properly executed will naming me the beneficiary of all Gran's assets.

No, none of that was good enough, because for the local management, nobody at the bank "really knew Gran and Gordie" and therefore they couldn't take the risk that someone else wouldn't pop up and make a claim on the money. Most of the people my grandparents had worked with had retired, but they all sure as hell knew me. Our lawyer had told us that this was the worst possible scenario; and that if we went to probate court, we wouldn't see the money for 18-24 months due to some issues around the will (both witnesses had passed away, so there was nobody available to sign an affadavit for the court, etc. etc.).

So my very mature response to that situation was to burst into tears, which made the local bank manager feel really guilty (it hadn't been her decision, it was a decision made downtown), and probably more important, it caused Rick to get really really pissed off.

How pissed off? So pissed off he got a memorial card of Gran's, and on the morning of her service, went to the downtown office, threw the memorial card down on the manager's desk, told them exactly what he thought of a bank that would be "extorting money from a 96 year old woman's estate who has been a client for 50 years and her sole survivor", and demanded the manager's boss' name and contact information (and got it). Later that day he wrote an e-mail to that person (turned out to be a VP) and expressed his displeasure in a similar way. Next day, out of the blue, I got a call from the bank telling me that they were waiving probate, and that they would call me again this week. Haven't heard from them, but we have it in writing, and I can be patient for a day or two. If not, we have the VP's contact information.

But I digress. Turns out the funeral home offers a service that they can do a slide show during visitation and service, so all those pictures we'd scan of Gran was well worth the effort. I can have up to 250 images there and have a month to upload them; at the end of the month they will print out a memory book and send it to me. Another nice touch is something they have called Timeless Touch. It's common practice (I guess) to take the fingerprints of the deceased; they send the prints to a jewelry company, and they can etch a fingerprint on a silver pendant. I had two of them made, and I've been wearing one all this week.

Rick and I had taken even odds as to whether anyone would even show up for the visitation or the service - after all, at 96, you've outlived a lot of your friends and family. We were pleasantly surprised. We had several people come to visitation - some former neighbours who had helped Gran and Gordie considerably when they were still in the house, one of my aunts, some old friends of Gran and Gordie's who had been like second grandparents to me plus a couple of their (older than me) children, and old friend of mine who I had lost track of (kind of on purpose) but seemed to think this was the way to re-establish contact. The last person tried to monopolize my time which was quite annoying, then gave me a card and left quite dramatically. The card has her email and phone number and I'm still on the fence as to whether to pick that thread up.

The surprise of the evening was the appearance Gordie's niece. I had been a bridesmaid in her wedding in 1983 and hadn't seen her since. We'd drifted out of contact and she said she'd been trying to find contact information for Gran and Gordie for years. It was a nice surprise visit and we'll see if that contact will stay. I also received a few lovely notes from people who couldn't make it but had wonderful things to say about Gran.

Then for sure, we thought that it would be just us and the priest for the service. But sure enough, an old friend of mine that I hadn't seen in 20 plus years, and who I'd just recently reconnected with on Facebook, appeared for the service along with her husband. Just as Gran wanted, I had a Catholic priest conduct a funeral mass (except for the Eucharist as it wasn't in a church). He included the Beatitudes and the Prayer of St. Francis, which were absolutely perfect as they were some of Gran's favourites. The priest started off by saying that after looking at all of Gran's pictures, he thought he was looking at "a movie star, or royalty!". The service was exactly what Gran would have wanted.

Gran had always been very clear on what she wanted to happen after she died. After Gordie passed away, he was cremated and Gran took him back to his family's plot at his village church in England. She wants to be next to him. So that's exactly what we're going to do. Gran is visiting us for a few months here in California, and in October we're going to take her back home.

Dealing with everything has been much harder than I thought it would be. I was prepared for this day. Gran lived a good life and reached 96. However it feels now that with her gone, I'm actually truly alone. Rick has been sensing this and reminding me that I am not alone, that I have him and Jenna and Carrie. The other part is that although I have always been grateful for everything that Gran and Gordie did for me, this has really brought home just how much - or to think of it another way, I can't imagine what would have happened had they not been there. I truly owe them everything.

There's also the point that Rick made that for the last 20 years or so, I have been taking care of Gran and Gordie - managing their affairs, moving them when needed, etc. It's a level of responsibility that's been my level of normal, and it feels rather odd now that it's not there any more. And I'm said it's not there any more.

One final note as this is long enough. All of Gran's money (not a huge amount, but enough) - except for a small part that I will give to her favourite nephew in England - I am using to endow a scholarship in Gran's and Gordie's names at the university where I received my undergrad degree. There's a saying that you don't truly pass away unless you are forgotten; I will try to make sure Gran and Gordie are never forgotten.

(no subject)

Turns out that Gran had her surgery yesterday. I had talked to the hospital in the morning asking for authorization for "soft restraints" because Gran kept pulling out her IV (which is standard for Gran. She did that the last time she was hospitalized). At that time, they didn't know the schedule for the procedure, so I figured it was probably going to be done on Tuesday since it was already afternoon when the hospital called about the restraints.

When I called later in the day asking for an update, she was just being wheeled from recovery back to her room. It was about 7:30 pm her time then, so it must have been a late afternoon procedure. I called again in the late evening, and it took Gran about an hour to start pulling at the dressing at the surgical site and trying to pull out her IVs again, so back came the restraints.

Today, I heard from occupational therapy. They told me that they got Gran to sit on the side of the bed, and she was able to hold her posture without a problem. That just blows me away that they do this so soon after surgery. I'm also blown away that a 96 year old woman could do this. I can think of people half that age who wouldn't recover like this.

They asked for (and I gave authorization) to get her a wheelchair and a lap tray to give her some more mobility. The physical therapist is going to work with Gran tomorrow to see if they can get her to walk. We'll know in a couple days how soon she might be able to be discharged from the hospital.

The good thing about her living in a long term care home is that it's already equipped with everything that she needs post-op. So barring anything happening, it's looking good so far.

Gran developments

I'm guessing nobody even reads this any more, but it's the best place I can think of to document things as they're going on.

In case anybody DOES read this, if we're friends on Facebook I posted an update about Gran falling and breaking her hip, and that's she's scheduled for surgery tomorrow Tuesday. However, the conversation didn't quite go down that way.

To start, I got a call from Gran's home yesterday afternoon saying that she'd fallen, and was complaining of pain in the back of her left leg. So, since they always err on the side of caution (which I've always liked about them), they called the ambulance to check her out. When the paramedics got there, Gran pretended she was fine and had no pain at all. Didn't matter; the paramedics bundled her to the hospital anyway. At the time, the staff didn't know how long she would be at the hospital; it would depend on how long of a line it was. The plan was for them to take x-rays. I asked them to please call me when they heard anything or she came back to the home.

Nothing for the rest of the day yesterday and through the night.

I got repeated calls this morning while I was in a Zumba class. The most important of the voice mails left was from an orthopedic surgeon in the hospital asking me to give verbal consent to surgically repair Gran's broken hip. So much for giving me a call when they knew something! Of course, I called the surgeon back right away.

Sounds like the break is just below the socket joint, and what they want to do is place a pin in there, which will encourage bone growth for it to heal naturally. The surgery will take about an hour, she'll be given a spinal anesthetic (not sure how that is different than any other kind), and it sounds like a relatively straightforward procedure as far as hip surgeries go.

"So," the surgeon said, "we're asking for your consent to perform the surgery to help her. Her options are either to have the surgery to alleviate the pain, or to allow her to pass away slowly."

Wow. Now there's a stark contrast in choices. I hope nobody will judge me by my first question: so, how does this "pass away slowly thing happen, with it being a broken hip?"

Apparently with broken hip she will be immobile, which will cause bedsores, and she'll catch pneumonia, which is what will do it.

Oh. Have to say I hadn't quite seen the logic.

Gran and I have talked many times about her wishes in this type of circumstance. I know there will likely be a point where I will make a decision to allow only palliative care. But this isn't it. I'm not going to allow her to be in pain when there's something (relatively) straightforward that can be done to take the first step of repair.

I authorized the surgery. The surgeon answered all of my questions. Depending on how she recovers, she may be in the hospital a few days or perhaps two weeks. They will try to get her to sit up in a chair the day after the procedure. The surgeon warned that as a result of this surgery, particularly for older patients, they lose a level of mobility. That would mean that Gran would be using a walker in the future, or perhaps a wheelchair, since sometimes dementia patients don't take well to cueing and learning how to use the walker. I have little doubt that if all goes well with the surgery Gran will be using a walker. She's way too stubborn to be in the wheelchair.

I had several phone calls since then - signing consent forms, talking to nurses, physicians, intake staff. I talked to the internal medicine folks who made a determination whether she was fit to have surgery. She was considered low risk of anything negative happening during the procedure (not surprising; she still only takes medication for her thyroid). The last I heard they still don't know when her surgery will be; there is one person ahead of her in line.

So, first decision done. Several more to come, I suspect.


Every several months, Rick says to me, "You're due to hear from Dan soon." I always say, "No, I won't hear from him again. I don't have anything he wants." Rick replies, "I think you will."

We had that exchange last week. Sure enough, I got this e-mail this afternoon (all typos are his):

Hi You

Just checking up on you to see how you are doing

1) Flu shots and all that
2) General well being

Also (of course) How are the pups?

One of (his girlfriend)s brother died suddenly Nov 16 - he is a couple years younger than me

Anyway - they were really close and she is devestated - I felt very close to him as well

also so that when it rains it pours

her dada is Alzhiemer and fell scraping skin on right hand down to the tendans and (his girlfriend) is at hopital with him now and plastic hand surgen

her mom of course had to fall and hit head as well

It has been very stressful to say the least and causes eveyone to take stock in what you have and the life we hold so dear

Hope all is well



The traveler's whine

Well, maybe not a whine. Perhaps an update.

We have three days before we leave to go home. It's been an amazing trip. I had a grand plan of downloading all the pictures from my camera onto my iPad so I could look at them more closely, but I filled up the iPad after a week in Cambodia. All my Vietnam pictures will have to wait until we get home.

We enjoyed Cambodia, at least until we got sick. We both caught some flu/virus thing on our last day there that took a good 4-5 days to get back to normal activity, and we're still shaking it off. That didn't really stop us from doing everything we wanted to, but it makes things a little less fun.

I have to say, though, that for the first time in my life, I am really looking forward to going home from vacation. I am glad we did Cambodia first and then Vietnam. So many people told us before we left "Oh, you are just going to love Hanoi!"

Well, we don't love Hanoi. We really don't even like it much. The people here are lovely (well, most of them - the exceptions are the touts in the Old Quarter and the cab drivers who see Westerners and think we're stupid - but fortunately those have been in the minority). I can see how Carrie has adapted here, but this is not someplace I would want to live for two years.

Hanoi is busy, noisy (very! - think motorbike/car honking 24/7 so loud you can hear it in any hotel room), chaotic, high population density. All things that describe any large city. But Hanoi is filthy and dirty. There is trash everywhere. The "canals" in the city are open sewers and smell horrible. The air and water pollution are horrifying - even a sunny day here, you don't need to wear sunscreen because there is such a haze in the air you don't get exposed to that much sun. It reminds me of when I was in Beijing 10 years ago.

If we didn't have to visit Carrie here, then we would never come to Hanoi. The only reason I would ever come back is if I wanted to hike in the northern Vietnamese mountains (which we tried to do this time, but the weather didn't cooperate). The only reason I ever wanted to come to Vietnam was to go to Halong Bay. We did that yesterday (another story for another blog post), so that box is checked.

Fortunately, not all of Vietnam is like Hanoi. Instead of hiking in the mountains like I had originally planned (weather forecast looked awful), Rick, Carrie and I flew down to Danang and spent five days in Hoi An, an artisan's city in central Vietnam. Instead of hiking in the mountains we lay on the beach along the South China Sea, and wandered around the old town browsing the local markets. (We also had a ton of clothes made, since that's what Hoi An is known for.)

Talking about Carrie, we also timed our trip so we would be here for Thanksgiving tomorrow. There's a restaurant in Hanoi that is serving Thanksgiving dinner, so we'll have a mini-family dinner then. We went to visit her class today. She has a class size of 11, and has a full time teaching assistant. Her students were very curious about us and asked us lots of questions. First one: "How old are you?"

It also seems I've been upgraded in Carrie's world. Now, for the first time, when Carrie introduces us to others, she says "These are my parents - my dad Rick, and my stepmom Tyche." Stepmom! A long way from a few years ago.

I heart furniture consignment stores

Sitting in a hotel room in Montreal on a business trip, which means I have finally have time to write an entry.  (Actually, I don't.  I just don't want to do any of the stuff I'm supposed be doing.)

This last weekend was a blur of running errands and doing all the typical moving in type stuff around the new house.  Evenings last week were dedicated to removing the last of our belongings out of the old house and doing the final clean-up (shampooing carpets, cleaning wood floors, cleaning the bathrooms, kitchens, etc.).  Except for my standard Wednesday night sculpt/Zumba classes, neither of us has been to the gym in two weeks.  I can feel it in my energy levels, and I hate it.

Good thing we bought a somewhat new house.  List of things that need to be done to the new house:
- Get window treatments.  There were none in the entire house, and there are 17 windows.  We took care of two of them the day we moved in, and another seven over the weekend.   Because we are cheap watching our money, we bought Levolor Premium Faux Wood blinds.  Rick did all the difficult work of cutting them down to size and installing them over the weekend.  Only eight more to go.
- Redo the glass in the master shower.  It's frosted glass, and we want clear.  Rick says we can probably do this reasonably inexpensively until/if we want to redo the bathroom.
- Put lights on the back of the house.  It's so dark in the backyard at night you can hardly see to the bottom of the steps - so dark, in fact, that Tesla and Diablo with their failing sight are refusing to descent all the way down the stairs at night without an escort.
- Landscaping in the front, and the back.  There's minimal landscaping in the front; none at all at the back - I'm talking bare earth here.

There are others, but you get the idea.  A lot of them are "wants" as opposed to "needs", but things like the lights and the window treatments are musts.

Anyway, that brings me to the main topic.  A few years ago, Rick and I had the opportunity to buy this dining room set at a greatly reduced cost from retail:

(pictures not uploaded since I can't figure how in LJ with my iPad)

We also got this coffee table and end table, along the same style (no idea why these load and the others don't):
They work together really well, especially when we bought a couch/loveseat/chair set that's black leather with chrome.

So in the new house, the dining room set goes into the dining room (duh), and I have the coffee table and end table in the living room.  While that worked in the other house, this house looked like it needed a little bit more in it.

When we first got all these tables, I did some research online and found them, and also discovered that that particular line had a console table.  We didn't buy it at the time because we thought it was too expensive (like I said, we're cheap.  We got the other tables well off retail, and we were too cheap to pay retail for that one).  We didn't really need it before anyway, but as I said to Rick, if we could find the console table that matched our coffee table and end table, that would be PERFECT.  I said this Saturday morning over breakfast.

"Yeah, I don't think that's going to happen," Rick said.  It wasn't an unreasonable statement.  We do all of our furniture shopping exclusively at consignment stores.  Like I've said before, we're cheap.  Plus you can get some astonishing deals, and it's almost like a game of chicken.  The price decreases every 21 days, so you can wait and get something for cheaper, or risk that someone else will buy it.  "There is no way we are going to find that table at a consignment store."

Rick and I go to the furniture consignment stores in our area every couple weeks, especially when we have something in particular we're searching for.  So....on Saturday afternoon, we did our rounds.  First to the Lego store (we're not that cheap *g*), and then to our first store.  No luck.  Then on to the second store.  Not 30 feet in the front door, what do I see....


Sure enough, that EXACT console table.  To make things better, there's an end table with it.

"Quick, take the tags, take the tags," I told Rick (taking the tags means you're going to buy it).  Then we looked at the price.

Two tables, $300.  A quick google reveals that these tables are still being sold on retail, and this price is over 80% off.

The console table looks FABULOUS in the living room.  I'll take pictures when I get back home.

I love furniture consignment stores.

It's been a busy fall

So I'm guessing if Amy and ExLibris can post somewhat regularly, I can too.  I've legitimately had a good reason for the last three days, but none before that.

  • We closed on House 3 last Friday, no thanks to the title company or the seller's agent (who was also the seller).  It's been a awhile since we've done this kind of thing, but getting people to actually do their jobs as been a struggle.  Regardless, funds were transferred, keys were exchanged, the house is ours .  One of the things we negotiated is to have the seller install a new oven (the one that was in here didn't work).  It's a double oven (we've never owned one before), and it looks nice.  It also looks like it belongs on the starship Enterprise.  We haven't learned how to use it yet.

  • We love the new house.  The view isn't quite as premium as the house we were renting - we won't have the city skyline view, but we get sunrise views, and it's been great to enjoy being out on the balconies with the dogs later in the afternoon.

  • Spending the day working from home today - as part of the settlement the seller agreed to have some work done on the house, but neglected to tell us when it had been scheduled.  We found out last night that it was scheduled for today.  Fortunately, my schedule was flexible enough for me to stay home.  Good thing, since it took Comcast two hours to get my account straightened out.  But most importantly, I have NFL Network and RedZone, so all is right with the world.

  • Really glad we closed last weekend, since the original date was this coming Friday.  However, next Monday I'm leaving on a business trip that doesn't bring me home until Saturday morning.  Would hate to move all weekend to just leave on Monday morning.

  • Next week, I'm flying to Montreal on Monday, where I have a conference and am speaking on Wednesday afternoon.  On Thursday I'm flying from Montreal to Baltimore, where the national SWE conference is this year.  Working the career booth for MEC, as always.  Thanks to flight schedules, I don't have a flight home until early Saturday morning.

  • Then next Monday, I have a fly-in/fly-out meeting in Portland.  Remember that leadership class I took through an industry association last year?  The one that took me (and Rick) to Jasper and Banff?  Well, they've asked me to facilitate that class in 2014, and we have a curriculum meeting.  Bonus part of being a facilitator?  I got to attend this year's final meeting, which took me (and Rick) to Yellowstone and Grand Teton.  Next year?  One of the sessions is in......Anchorage!  Rick knows we're vacationing in Alaska next year.

  • Speaking of vacations, a little over 10 days after I go to Portland, Rick and I are taking a real vacation.  We're traveling to Southeast Asia for three weeks.  Flying directly to Siem Reap to spend a week exploring Angkor Wat and the rest of the area, and the remainder of the time in Hanoi.  Ostensibly we're there to visit Carrie, but we'll be booking a number of day/overnight trips, so we won't outstay our welcome.  One cool thing is that we'll be in Hanoi for Thanksgiving.

  • We wouldn't have done that unless we could make arrangement for the dogs.  They usually stay in a kennel, and share a room, but the last time they did that, we learned that Diablo was a little bed hog and wouldn't let Tesla on the bed, so poor Tesla ended up lying on the concrete floor.  Consequently he had trouble getting up and around first thing in the morning.  So, that means they need separate beds, in separate rooms.  That's fine for a shorter trip like Yellowstone (the kennel usually put them in rooms facing each other so they could see each other), but I didn't want them separated for three weeks.  On Facebook I noticed an ad for a service called DoggieVacay - it's a site where people sign up to host pets whose owners are vacationing (for a fee, of course).  The pets have the benefit of being in a home environment, get more individual attention - and the rates are usually cheaper, though there are some that are quite expensive (they charge $50/pet/night!!!).  The owners can get insurance and there are reviews posted on the site as well.  I couldn't quite find someone I liked on DoggieVacay, but mentioned it to Rick and he found a similar site that offers the same services -  On Rover I found a couple of places that sounded promising, and was able to contact them for a meet and greet that day.  So, because of Rover, Tesla and Diablo are going to be staying in a home in Oakland for the time we're gone.  It's with a young couple named Randi and Travis (seriously), and they have a corgi of their own named Charlie.  Randi and Travis had great reviews and they will even send us pictures of the dogs while we're gone.  All people and dogs have met and get along fine.  It's cheaper than the kennel - though ironically, we will be paying more per night for the dogs to stay there than we will for us to stay in four star hotels in Southeast Asia.

  • There's work stuff going on too, but it's nowhere near as interesting as everything else.

Back to work.  Have to finish my slides for the talk next week.

House 3

So....there were multiple offers on House 2, but it eventually came down to two offers: ours and someone else's.  They asked for "last and best" final offers.  We sent ours in.  We found out that the other offer not only offered $30k over the asking price, but also waived all contingencies.  There is NO way we're even going there (price wise nor waiving contingencies).

We went on vacation, and while there we got an alert that a house in our subdivision, that had been on the market and gone to pending very quickly, was back on the market again.  We e-mailed our realtor and arranged to see the house the day we came back.

We put in an offer on that house; this time we were competing against two other offers.  We must have timed things or priced things right, because we got an acceptance almost right away.  Our realtor says that the sellers liked that we already lived in the neighbourhood, that we could close quickly, and that our mortgage broker and realtor had worked together numerous times before.  My own opinion - the sellers are Asian, and I think by our last name they are assuming that we are, too.  In fact, our loan application paperwork when we received it, already had checked that we were Asian (we've been so annoyed by all the other errors on the application we didn't bother changing that one, especially since we didn't have to sign under it).

So here are some of the pictures from the listing.  They're not very good, but they give you an idea.

House from the street:

outside of house

View from the front door.

living dining room

Looking back toward the front.  I'm not a fan of that mint green paint; that's likely to change.  All the floors in the house are new - carpeting on the lower level, wood laminate and marble on the top level.

living dining room 2



Master bedroom.  It has a door leading to the same balcony that the kitchen does.  The master bathroom is fine, though it has a horrible frosted glass shower stall (which will also be changed).  It has his and hers walk in closets.

master bedroom 1

Downstairs family room.  Not pictured is another den/family room downstairs, the guest bath, a half bath and two decent sized guest bedrooms.

family room

Downstairs patio with steps leading to the yard.  No  more getting the leashes out when we need to take the boys out!

downstairs patio

View from the upper balcony.  Not quite as panoramic as the view we have now, but we won't bake in the sun as much.  Right now we have to change seating in the living room as the sun sets because it's too intense, and we can't enjoy sitting outside on the balcony for the same reason (and the wind).  Since we're south facing in this house vs. west facing, I think we'll get more use from this view.

view from upstairs

Best of all, we're getting it for less than what House 2 was listed for.  All going well, we close in mid-October

House 2

So, we're going to put an offer in on House 2.  House 1 wasn't a very serious consideration, mostly because there had been zero updating done, and they kept some of the original architecture - weirdly, there was a closet built in the middle of the living room right when you come in.  Not needed structurally, but really broke up the flow of the house.  That would be one thing that would have to go if we got it.  The deck needs a ton of work, and of course, there's no room for the dogs.

The listing agent wants to have offers in by 5 pm tomorrow - only a week after listing and without an open house.  I think what's driving this is that there's a relocation company involved (the sellers are moving for work), and when you move through a relocation company, while they handle all the transactions for you, their motivation is not to get the sellers the most money for their house; it's to get the transaction done as soon as possible.  So if there's only a couple bids and they're at asking price, the relocation company will likely pressure the sellers to accept right away as opposed to waiting to see if a better offer comes in a week or two.

We're meeting our realtor later this evening to sign the paperwork on the offer.  The only question will be the amount.  I was thinking about coming in at asking or perhaps a little below (taking a risk that nobody else will offer), but Rick is thinking about offering a tiny bit more than asking to sweeten the pot a bit and make the decision easier.  His logic is that based on the inspection we can probably negotiate some of that back.  There will be some items found on the inspection (screen door on the master bedroom and the carpet in the master bedroom near the walkout door have been shredded beyond recognition by their cat, and there will likely be others).

Obviously, the power lines aren't that big a deal to us.  You can read all kinds of awful things about people claiming high tension wires are killing them, but there haven't been the studies to back it up.

Oh, the other interesting thing is that in California, part of the mandatory disclosure is whether any person living at the house died in the house within the last three years.  The sellers marked that yes, someone did die in the house in the last three years - the woman is a nurse, and her mother was in hospice and being treated at home.  That doesn't bother us either, but (and Rick will probably laugh when I tell him) I wonder if it might be worth having some kind of blessing placed on the home.  Not that I would worry it was haunted, but to make sure all souls were at rest, as it were.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  We've haven't even put the offer in yet, never mind have it accepted.  I have to admit I am excited about the idea of finally owning a home with Rick.

On another note, haven't tried the new Xanga yet.  I'll do that next.

And in other news:  Vacation in three days!