Wednesday, May 30, 2012

We're Pre-Approved!

What a day!  We went over to meet with our Camping World salesman, Steven, today.  We finished the day knowing we were pre-approved and have a motor home on hold!  Everything changed today.  The motorhome we had our eye on in Utah sold last night.  Gone were the Itasca Meridian 40U dreams ... Instead we went out to Wood Village to check out a Winnebago Journey 42E.  Winnebago is to Itasca what GMC is to Chevy.  We got a really great deal on one of the last of the 2012 models available.  I was afraid it just wasn't going to live up to my Itasca 40U dreams, but it did - in fact, it surpassed them!

Our 2012 Winnebago Journey 42E
The highlight of the day was going for a ride out to Rooster Rock in the gorge on a test drive.  At the park, Steven showed us all the features around the outside of the motorhome.  The whole thing just blew me away!  We got to practice taking tight corners.  It's surprisingly easy to drive -- much less overwhelming when you're in the driver's seat than when standing outside next to it!  So much fun!

This interior picture is not actually OUR motorhome, but from a brochure.  The furniture is accurate, but our cabinetry is lighter in color - called Honey Cherry.  I believe this picture shows a darker cherry.  But the floor is the same, and the leather the same.  See what I mean about it being a real home - actually a step up from our current house!  Wish we could have you all over ... perhaps we'll have an open house one day?

Yes, our motorhome even has an outside television.  Can't imagine we'll be using it much ... but I've learned never to say never!  That's my Steve with our favorite salesman, Steven.  He was great to work with -- have I mentioned how God brought us a believer for a salesman?  Didn't know that when we met him at the RV show.  He even attends our church - same service.  Yet we'd never met until the RV Show in March.  We'll share more about the motorhome later.

Steve and I continued this year's tradition of celebrating each milestone with a turkey burger at Red Robin's.  We didn't get home until closer to 8:30pm.  We needed some food - fast!

So, the adventure continues.  Next task is to start selling the larger items in our home and continuing the down-sizing task in general.  Also we haven't yet learned how to get into the motorhome from our house, since we won't pay for the motorhome until the house closes...  I'm sure there's a way, we just don't know how it'll happen yet.  Also we need a mailing address for when we don't live here any longer.  We've learned there's a mail forwarding business based in Lincoln City.  Since we plan to keep an Oregon address for the present time, we might be making a trip down to visit them.  I'll write on that decision item later!  For now, I hope to get a second good night's sleep!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Hair Cut & Great Advice!

I'm always happy when it's time to get my hair cut, as it usually has begun to be more work than I like.  I go to a little shop over in Cedar Mill, on Barnes Rd.  I see "Y", who was a recommendation from Maurine & JoAnne, friends from church.  I liked her from day 1.  Best I can tell, she's not a believer, but she happens to be a very wise woman, in my humble opinion.  I like her a lot.  She's down to earth - doesn't waste a lot of time wishing for the "extras" of life.  She's content with what she's got, enjoys her job and the people she meets through it.  She has that knack where she can cut through the "stuff" and see what's really important.  That's what she did for me this morning.

Naturally, she asked me what's going on.  She receives her updates every 5 weeks at my appointments.  I believe she truly cares and enjoys hearing the latest.  I explained we'd sold the house over the weekend and were now deeply entrenched in the details, and not necessarily certain which thing should happen first, etc.  She asked me questions - were family and friends settling in with the idea?  Yes.  Am I a little scared, or just excited?  Just excited and impatient to some degree.  We chatted about the various aspects of our move - how Steve and I feel quite certain this is meant to be the life for us, knowing there's always a risk, but knowing it's worth taking.  She shared how she's different from her parents and one sibling in her ability to find contentment with not so much change.  She referred to her parents as gypsies - always moving and changing.  She didn't get that gene.  But she knows who she is.  She said we know who we are too.  I agreed.  I think we'd know if this wasn't a good thing for us.  Yet I feel confident.

When my hair was all fixed up the way she likes it, she made one last statement to me:  "You guys need to go out there and pick up that motorhome - Utah is the closest."

Wisdom from the ages!  It was just what I needed to hear.  The next thing is finding out if there's a motorhome out there for us now, or how soon we can get one later.  If it's not going to be available for a while, then I can aim toward living in the 5th wheel for a while.  I can do that.  If the motorhome is available - from wherever it comes from - then I'll know how to proceed in that direction.  Everything else should fall in line behind that.

I think God speaks through whomever He wants to, and today it was Y.  I came home and shared her wisdom with Steve and he even agreed.  I called and left a message for our Camping World RV Salesman, Steven, and will wait to hear from him.  We had to start somewhere!

Monday, May 28, 2012

It's Sold!

We are still trying to wrap our heads around the fact that our house has been SOLD!  A woman from California, who's daughter will be attending college in Forest Grove purchased it.  We've been told the patio with water feature in the back is what really did it for her.  I'm so happy to know that someone else will enjoy it as we have.  I wondered if I might feel just a bit sad, but honestly, we are still focused on this next adventure and the joy it will bring.  I still have this imagined dream moment where we wake up in our yet imagined motorhome.  It's quiet and we drink freshly brewed coffee in our living area and realize we made it...  Ahhhhhh!   I told you I have a rich fantasy life!

In the present, I am finding my mind is swimming with, "what do we do next??"  I wrote down 8-10 possibilities last night before going to sleep:  Call RV salesman - need to start looking for the right RV!; call financial advisor with update; cancel the furnace and a.c. service we do each September; find a mail forwarding service in Oregon; call our health insurance and find out how we handle that while we are out of the area; make sure all my email contacts are using for when we no longer have Frontier as our ISP; notify all our important contacts of our new street address (once we get it); find out if my subscription to Taste of Home magazine can be changed over to an electronic version ...  Of course, we don't have a Kindle or other reader to receive that electronic version yet either - must go shopping!

I want to find and purchase some Corelle tableware for our RV.  That melmamine dinnerware I've had in the RV for years won't work in the microwave.  I've been meaning to swap it out for some Corelleware, and now I'm getting serious!  I also want to make sure all my dry baking ingredients are in air tight containers.  I've already made some good progress toward that goal and it makes me happy to see my well-organized pantry in the house!  I have a label maker and label each item too.  Makes me tingle every time I go to get some dry ingredient!  Don't know if you know I try not to purchase bread, choosing to bake it from scratch at home.  I also try to avoid overly processed food (with occasional exceptions).  I'm inconsistent from time to time, but it amazes me how many things have just become a part of our routine.

We don't want our habits to change when we're living in the RV.  Some things will need to change somewhat.  I probably won't be able to make 2 loaves of bread in my Kitchenaid stand mixer, and store the bread slices in the freezer.  Don't know if I'll keep the stand mixer yet.  We won't have that full-size freezer in the garage anymore either.  Instead, I'll be using my bread machine to mix one loaf at a time.  I prefer the shape and size of slices when I bake bread in a regular bread pan, so I'll just mix and bake one loaf at a time.  I do require a functioning oven in the RV.  Believe it or not, that is not how these residential RV's come.  It's an "option" to get a regular RV stove with oven now!  I believe that reflects how many people just don't cook and bake anymore.  We've become more of a "reheat" society, and we think we're providing a home-cooked meal.  Don't get me wrong!  We enjoy a Papa Murphy's take and bake pizza every month or so!  And we go out to eat occasionally.  We try to limit it to not more than once a week though.  It's for health, but also it controls our spending.  We've needed to eat out a bit more during the last couple weeks, and our monthly cash spending money disappeared way to quickly!

I enjoy cooking and baking, so not buying those "quick" items was just a game in the beginning.  Now it's more just a way of life.  We've made homemade salad dressing, pancake syrup, dips, grew our own vegetables, canned and froze produce, made pickles and that kind of thing for quite a few years now.  It's just satisfying.  Steve knows how to make strawberry jam and has helped me a lot with canning and freezing our produce once he retired.  We won't have our own garden anymore, but I think we'll still try as best we can to eat fresh vegetables.  We can visit various farmers markets from time to time and still make small batches of jam for the freezer.  We're hoping to get an extra freezer to store in the "basement" of the RV to help us enjoy that fresh produce while we're out and about.

I can hardly wait ... but will!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Three in One Day – Weddings & Proms & Photo Shoots

Our day doesn’t have to start until 9:00 a.m., which is when Realtors are told they can call us for appointments to show our house.  We’ve started to feel a bit more relaxed after a week of experience, and we dared to stay in our “jammies” this morning.  I mean, even if we get a call at 9:00, they are supposed to give us 3 hours notice before a viewing, so we should be safe.  Right?
Our first call came in at about 9:30 this morning.  He was very pleasant and apologetic, but … could we possibly manage to let him show the house between 10:30 and 11:00?  Naturally I said yes, explaining we do actually want to sell the house.  I view our new job as trying to be available to any reasonable requests for a showing.  We haven't had to turn one down yet!  We had already scheduled another showing at 1:30-2:00 today, so we’d just have the house ready early.  I hung up and we flew into action – dressing, floors, dusting, polishing, etc.  It’s our new routine, and we’re getting good at it!
Parsley on the dash at the library
We grabbed the cat and headed over to the library parking lot.  We decided on a parking space a little further away from the building with a view of a different pond with a water fountain in the middle.  The pond was surrounded by some kind of yellow pond flowers – all in bloom.  It was really very picturesque.  I pulled out my book about some fellow Oregonians who took a year off and traveled around the USA in a small Class B motorhome.  It's taking me a while to get through it - we don't spend a lot of time reading these days - but it’s been great information and very entertaining.  Steve decided he’d enjoy it if I read to him – so I did.
We hadn’t done a lot of reading when a car pulled up next to us.  A man and woman got out.  He began unloading equipment from the trunk.  It appeared to be a flash contraption on a tri-pod, and he carried a fancy camera with a nice zoom lens on it.  We wondered what he’d be taking photos of?  The woman he was with followed him, and it became apparent that she was traipsing across the grass in high heels!  She was clothed somewhat normal for a young attractive woman – jeans, a clingy knit top and those high heels.  I’m hardly one who dresses according to fashion, so who am I to judge?  Perhaps she just likes wearing high heels?

Eventually it became clear that the man would be taking pictures of the young lady!  Since she was hardly dressed for a photo session, in my humble opinion, I speculated that perhaps she would be doing some nude shots?  I mean, you never know what to expect these days!  But no – he took pictures of her, posed in the clothes she was wearing, standing this way and that in front of this beautiful nature backdrop.  A little while later they came back to the car, where he grabbed another piece of equipment and they headed back down.  He set up what appeared to be a pop-up dressing room.  Now, since she didn’t carry down a bag or anything to indicate a clothing change, I was pretty sure my theory involving nudity was a real possibility!  She went into the pop-up room, and came out in the tiniest bikini!  Just 3-4 triangles, best I could tell.  We decided not to watch much after that.  Who says the library is boring?

After reading a while more, we headed back to the house for an hour and a half.  Steve mowed the lawn, I did a little pruning of our smoke tree which has been encroaching on the front walkway.  I’d hate it if a spider climbed on someone as they walked by.  I found a few weeds to clean up and we went inside to take a final quick look around the house and turn back on all the lights.

Back we went to the library with our well traveled cat.  It amazes me that Parsley doesn’t run and hide each time we begin mopping and dusting.  She’s definitely smart enough, so my theory is that she just doesn’t mind going for a ride.

This time, as we drove to our new favorite parking place, a bride and groom were heading down to have some pictures taken!  Fun!  Shortly thereafter, a young woman and young man came walking down the hill in very formal attire.  I thought perhaps they were with the wedding, but no, they were having their pictures taken by a couple - presumably the parents -  down by the water.  Another young couple came a short while later.  Then a nice black limo drove by behind us.  What an active day!  We surmised that it must be prom time.  What nice looking young people..

We got more reading done this time.  The time went a little slower, but we waited until we’d given the Realtors a good 45 minutes and then headed back.  They were gone, and we got our house back.   We had another 45 minutes before we needed to leave again.  Just time enough to turn off all the lights, sit down and check our email, etc.  We got a one very interesting email ...  More on that later – time to head back to the library!

We were sure hoping we wouldn’t have to repeat this 3-showing day again anytime soon.  It gets old.  Our saving grace was having dinner and evening plans with friends.  Since we don’t like the idea of anybody coming to see the house with Parsley there alone, we knew we wouldn’t accept any more showings this evening.  We certainly looked forward to having an evening away from the house.  It wasn’t even our turn to host – all the better!  Though, in hind sight, at least our house is clean!

We got home again around 9:30pm.  So much to think about … but then there’s church in the morning, and a lady coming to purchase our bookcase in the afternoon.  Who knows what tomorrow holds …

Friday, May 25, 2012

Subway Parking Lot & Wheelchair Access

Another showing (Thursday)!  This one is looking for a wheelchair accessible property.  I explained there is one step into and out of every door in the house.  Apparently that isn't a problem - they have a portable ramp.  I figured the bathrooms wouldn't work, but they didn't necessarily view that as a deal breaker, at least initially.  We've only had a wheelchair in this house once when my Aunt Dixie Lee came for Easter a year ago.  I remember the guys almost dumped her out of her chair as they tried to take her outside to the back patio, facing forward.  We thought we'd lose her on her first visit!  As it turned out, it was also her last visit, as she passed away this last year.  We're glad we got to spend that time with her.

Today's showing is just another example of how much you don't know about potential buyers.  It will be fun to see who decides our home should be their home!

Steve, Parsley and I decided to have dinner at our local Subway this evening.  My meal plan didn't really accommodate a quick re-heat after returning to the house.  I really am trying to avoid eating out - especially fast food.  It's worked well when viewings are during lunch time.  Today was the first time our dinner time was interrupted.  I'll have to think of some good options for very quick dinners.  We decided Subway was the better of several "evils".

Parsley appeared to just be glad to go along for a ride again today..  This was her fourth day in a row to go with us.  I half expected her to begin hiding from us when she sees us cleaning up the house.  Not so far.  Once again, she was happy to sit on top of her carrier and watch people and cars.  I guess it's new programming for her - a nice break from squirrels and birdies.  She's become aware that when we back into the garage and close the garage doors that she's home and gets to go back in the house.  I remember my long-time cat, Willi, knew when we got within a mile or so from home.  These cats have a sense of home.

We are counting our blessings that we have people interested enough to come check out our house!However, it'd be nice to get an offer on the house soon. One showing a day hasn't been a major pain, but we imagine we'll be getting tired of this everyday thing soon.  Perhaps it will be slow over the weekend with the Memorial Day holiday.  Though we've been told to expect a showing tomorrow from a local realtor.  We'll just keep rolling with the punches!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hungarian Mushroom Soup & the Realtor Open House

I failed to mention that our realtor, Barbara, had an open house on Tuesday.  She said it went well.  At least two Realtors mentioned having clients they thought would be interested.  All comments were positive.  However several had mentioned that though the price was accurate, it might be difficult to get an appraisal to support it.  We knew that, and are willing to take the chance.

If I understand right, the way this becomes an non-issue is if we get a buyer that either is paying cash, or one that won't be financing the full amount.  Then the lender doesn't have to insure the full value that the buyers agree to pay.  I know our realtor said a cash-paying buyer would solve the problem.

Have I mentioned how much we are enjoying our realtor - Barbara Nelson?  Here's yet another example of why we know she is the realtor meant for us:  She made Hungarian Mushroom Soup for the realtor open house!  The woman cooks!  No dry sandwich arrangement, with a Safeway fruit plate here.  Since I happen to love cooking and value the home-cooked meal, this makes me happy.  In fact, she brought a container of soup for Steve and I.  I found the treasure in our refrigerator after the open house.  We had it for lunch yesterday and it was yummy!  I went online and found the recipe - actually several versions.  I plan to make it myself one of these days soon.  Though there are high fat versions of the recipe available, it doesn't need to be.  A bit of butter to saute in, and a whole bunch of mushrooms, chicken broth, milk, paprika, dill, sour cream .... makes me want a bowl for breakfast!  Since Steve has a need for "meat" each meal, I think it'd be easy to throw in some leftover chicken meat.  Once I try making the soup, I will share the recipe on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waiting at the Library

It’s just after noon on Wednesday.  Steve, Parsley and I are hanging out in the Rendezvous in the parking lot at the Main Branch of the Hillsboro Library, which just happens be located about a mile or so down the road from our house. We’re killing time again while someone is checking out our house.  It’s only our second official showing, apart from the Realtor Open House yesterday, but we’re beginning to establish a routine. Steve did the floors; I wiped counters and polished sinks, etc.  Not such a big deal today.  We both slept a little longer, which couldn’t hurt anything …

 It’s nice to get away from the house for awhile.  Even Parsley seems to be enjoying it.  Right now she is perched on top of her carrier, watching the wind moving the leaves in the trees, seeing the occasional car drive by us, etc.  She hasn’t spotted the ducks down by the water yet.  Perhaps she only notices things that are closer to her?  Another car just pulled in next to us, and a smaller dog got out of the car.  She’s not hiding – but trying to smell him through the small opening in the window.  Steve thinks she figures she could take the dog if she needed to.  I have to agree.  She’s smart and fast.  Unfortunately, perhaps, she doesn’t have front claws, so she’d have to take him with her teeth …
I searched on the Internet this morning, looking for Wi-Fi hot spots in the area.  I learned there is one here at the Hillsboro Library, and one at the Starbucks near our local Costco.   We imagined we’d hang out – surf the web, read books, or whatever.  Seems we’re too far away in the parking lot to use the Wi-Fi.  The signal just isn’t reaching us well enough.  That’s alright.  I can write on my blog!
We got a report this morning from the realtor who visited our house Monday.  Our realtor passes this information back to us via an Internet link.  We love that we get to see what she sees.  This realtor reports her clients LOVED the house, but she found it to be overpriced compared to the comps in our neighborhood.  Duh!  We already know it doesn’t stand up to the comps.  That’s because none of the comps (comparables) actually compare to our house!  We just have lots and lots of upgrades.  The realtor report said they were considering an offer, but didn’t want to put one in if we aren’t “motivated”.  I believe that means if we aren’t prepared to sell the house cheaply …  In that case, I guess we aren’t motivated -- yet!  It’s funny how we are picking up all this realtor stuff so quickly.  Truly, we don’t intend to get rich selling our house, or we certainly would not be selling it now, during the market slump.  We aren’t asking for a price even close to what we purchased this house for six years ago at the peak of the real estate market.  We’re fortunate to not owe a lot on the house, which gives us more leeway in our pricing.  However, we certainly would like to get someone willing to pay a reasonable price as soon as possible, so we can get on with the next chapter of our life.
We’ve discussed whether or not there is a price that could be the line by which we would know this is simply not the right time to sell this house.  We know there has to be, and we would assume if it won’t sell for less than that amount, it would be God telling us “no”, or at least to “wait”.  We’ll cross that bridge if/when we get there.  Once again, we cannot look down the road very far.  I believe this is an exercise in trusting God day by day.  There’s no certainty for the day after today.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  [Matt 6:36]
We got back to the house about 1:15 this afternoon to find the viewers were still here.  We hid down at the end of our lot, under the flowering cherry trees, until we saw the white car from our driveway drive down the road and around the corner.  As we went around turning back off all the lights (we’re supposed to turn all the lights on so the house shows nice and brightly) I saw the white car return and pull into our driveway!  I panicked for a moment.  Then I remembered --  I live here!  I told Steve if they came to the door to welcome them in.  They didn’t.  Perhaps they saw me in the kitchen window and knew it was too late.  Still, I feel bad that they didn’t get enough time.  Hopefully they’ll ask our realtor about anything they missed.  We’ll look forward to seeing the report they give our realtor later.  We’re still hopeful that there is a good buyer out there!

Our realtor said another realtor had contacted her having a cash-paying client who was very interested in the RV parking.  We have yet to get a call from that realtor, so we don’t know what’s going on there.  Perhaps tomorrow?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Our First Showing

Someone came to take a look at our house today!!  We're mostly relieved to know that at least one person was interested enough to come take a look at it.  After sitting in our "museum quality" home for 2 days without a call, we were getting tired of being this neat and tidy.  It didn't take long, did it?

We are not what I'd call messy people.  However, we do need a bit of clutter to live.  I have a round end table next to where I sit.  At this moment, laying on top of it, is an open can of Fresca (sitting on a coaster), a notebook which contains various lists - what we have promised to whom, what needs to be done around the house before we show it, etc. - my DayTimer calendar (my life!), and a remote control for the TV/DVR, etc.  Naturally, there is also a table lamp.  There isn't much real estate left.  All those things have to be picked up and tucked away somewhere if someone wants to see our house.  Oh, I forgot to mention that I have my laptop pc in my lap, and I have a cat who's dying for me to make room for her.  She's making irritated cat noises, and jumping from place to place in a threatening way.  She apparently believes that if she is naughty enough, she'll either get more lunch or a place in my lap.

Back to the showing ... We got the call from the realtor about 9:00 this morning.  She was very nice to give us 3 hours notice, but we were both nervous enough (do we have everything looking beautiful enough?!) that we couldn't relax.  We just kept cleaning things.  I found slight fingerprints on various door moldings, and tucked down the edge of the carpet in two rooms where sliding glass doors are.  It just looked neater tucked in.  Wouldn't want someone to think the carpet was laid imperfectly!  Steve did the floors - then touched up the floors again after Parsley tracked cat litter on it.  I dusted again.  I've dusted every single day since we listed the house.  That's close to a month's amount of dusting, unless I'm expecting company.  No wonder we're tired.

The silliest thing we are to do to prepare for a showing is make sure the lids on the toilets are closed.  I get that.  It just looks nicer to see a toilet than to look into one.  I wonder if I've ever gone to see a house and noticed they were not closed?

Steve and I each warmed up some leftover soup for lunch.  We ate early, so the cinnamon candle would mask the scent of our lunches.  We had to be careful though.  We were told that if you spray a scent in the air too soon before a showing, they might wonder what you are try to mask.  Mold?  Mildew?

This house showing thing can really make you crazy.  What if they look in the refrigerator?  Will it look like we eat healthy enough?  What if they see the Goldfish crackers in the pantry?  Will they notice they are the "whole grain" variety?  It feels like my housekeeping, decorating, and even my eating habits are on display for total strangers who are judging me, even though I get no report about what they think.  Reminder to self:  Try to worry less about what others think of me.

When it was finally time for us to leave the house, I sat in the back seat of the car with Parsley, the cat.  She had her carrier, with a nice soft pillow in it, and a blanket over the top to help her feel like she could hide.  She is a great little traveler.  She's happy as long as she's with me.  I removed the door from her carrier, so she could get out into my lap if she wanted.  She did, but then decided it was safer inside, where the world did not constantly move.  She's concerned about things that move - unless it's a squirrel, a bird, or a leaf blowing in the wind.  It's a nice thing for me that she doesn't cry and complain in the car.  It helps me stay more calm.  I need all the help I can get today.

Steve drove us to put more gas in the car  ($4.09 a gallon!), then drove to Wendy's for a small frosty treat.  We decided then to go see if they were gone yet.  We dared drive by, even though there were 3 cars in front of our house.  We had to remind ourselves that they know neither us, or our vehicle.  We are just people driving by.  Total strangers.  We waited a few minutes longer on the next street, and I saw one of the 3 cars drive past us.  We went back and verified they were gone!  We could go home!  For some reason, Steve drove by our house one more time before turning back to open the garage.  He said he wasn't sure why - perhaps just wanted to make double sure they were gone.

Our realtor says if someone stays an hour, then they must be very interested.  If these viewers arrived on time, then they were here for 50 minutes.  That sounds encouraging!  I wonder how many will view our house before we get an offer?  How many days/weeks/months will we have to live in such a clean house?  The Lord only knows.  We're just going along for the ride.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Waiting to Show the House

We are up, showered, dressed, fed and are now feeling like we're waiting for our first date ... that call from a realtor, wanting to show our house.  I keep checking to make sure I haven't just missed a call on my cell phone.  Is it still turned on, with the battery charged up?  It does remind me of waiting for Steve to call when we were first dating.  Except I don't have those fun kinds of butterflies this time!

Our realtor, Barbara Nelson, came by again this morning.  She has been just wonderful to work with.  She brought flyers for inside the house, and little stand up boards to list features of the house.  She says we should still expect at least 2 calls, as a couple realtors had already expressed a desire to show it to their clients.  Guess it will happen when it happens.

I find myself trying to think and plan in every quiet moment - while drying my hair, while doing mindless housework.  So many things need to be "solved".  How do we best keep in touch with family and friends while living in a motorhome?  Sure, we'll have the internet and cell phones.  I realize we need to really work at it.  It's taken a long time to establish these relationships.  Each one is a gift!

I was set to host "Needlework Night" last night.  I thought about cancelling due to our house being on the market, but then decided to just go for it.  Our realtor thought it was unlikely we'd have calls to show the very first day on the market.  I enjoy Needlework Nights.  I love not knowing who might turn up.  I send out reminders to appropriately 14 or 15 ladies each month.  As it turned out, all my regulars emailed me throughout the day to say that different things were keeping them from being available.  No problem - I'd just get ready for bed early.

Steve wanted me to go out to the shed and see what he'd accomplished there.  It's a true joy to see things disappear, especially when you had no idea who in the world would want them.  A couple of our neighbors, and one set of their relatives helped us out with that.  We were so thankful!  Plant food, lawn feed, a few tools, plant tags -- much of it gone!  Anyway, going out to admire the loss of stuff is a fun task for us.

I remember as I walked out the back door noting it was 6:31pm.  Needlework Night always starts about 6:30pm.  I told Steve I felt I needed to let at least a 1/2 hour pass before I'd be certain no one would show up.  However, there's always a chance.  We came back in to find a car sitting in front of the house, right by the For Sale sign.  A realtor?!?  An interested buyer checking out the house?!?  I hid in the corner of the kitchen while watching the car out the window.  They appeared to be using a cell phone .... Slowly, the car door opened ... It was Pauline Garney, showing up for Needlework Night!  She'd only first joined us last month, and I guess it just didn't occur to me that she'd be coming again this month.  Too bad I hadn't thought to call her.  As it was, we ended up getting to have a nice visit.  She did a little embroidery, and I finished another dishcloth.  Steve even joined us, instead of going off to watch a movie behind closed doors in the family room.  It's always fun to have company, and we both were thankful she'd come.   The Garneys are on our list of people we want to stay connected with.  John is Steve's fellow engineer friend.  They need each other to share projects, etc.  We find it easy to be around these newer friends of ours.

I'm reading a book called "Live Your Road Trip Dream - Travel for a year for the cost of staying home" by Phil and Carol White.  It was written in 2004, by this Oregon couple doing a year's trip around the USA in a new 19' Class B Motorhome.  I'm really enjoying the book.  Living in an RV for a year, or living in an RV full time are not much different.  She has lots of great ideas - including ideas on how to hang on to relationships during the long absences.  I plan to put several of her ideas into practice... like sending postcards to our grandson, Dylan.  What's better than getting mail?  We will always be thankful for the amount of time we've seen him in the past 5 years.  That weekly routine is changing.  However, we want to stay in his life in a real way.  That's another thing we have to figure out.  Other than the family we have in Tacoma, we haven't had a lot of experience with long distance relationships.

I imagine we'll be calling to set up "dates" each time we come into an area where our family and friends live.  I imagine we will find going for a ride in our tow-vehicle for the purpose of visiting becoming a fun routine.  We'll need time away from the motorhome.  The Road Trip book talks about taking a vacation from your vacation.  We'll probably need those kinds of breaks, though living in an RV sounds like one big vacation to us!

Friday, May 18, 2012

House on the Market!

Today our house goes on the market. The pictures were taken by a professional photographer yesterday. He even did three or four 360 degree videos. We’re excited to see how they look. It already seems like we’re living in someone else’s house! Ours has never been this de-cluttered! We’re committed to trying to keep it this way too, which is tough in a weird way. When I got up this morning, I made the bed – before my first cup of coffee! I should add that with the exception of one day, I’ve been waking up between 5:00 and 7:00. That’s not my usual waking time, though with the summer-like weather, the light is probably waking me up early too. Mostly, I think I’m just so aware of the things that need to be done.

Don't know who's living room this is!
Barbara, our realtor, has been such great help.  She has helped us with "staging" the house.  She even brought in some pictures for blank places on our walls - a result of moving furniture and removing my wall unit from the living room.  The house looks beautiful, if I don't say so myself!  Steve wondered if I still want to sell it?  I am unwavering.

By the way, I learned something else in terms of our "worldly goods".  I had this beautiful 3- piece entertainment center with display cabinets in our livingroom for the past 10 years.  It was truly a beautiful piece (to me).  I recognized immediately that our house would show better if that piece wasn't in our livingroom.  It was a bit crowded ... but 6 years ago our livingroom furniture was only four years old, and I wasn't even close to being ready to get rid of it.  It just had to fit.

Well, zip ahead to the present.  Though we never put a TV in that wall unit, it was built for the old-style televisions.  I used it as a china cabinet - storing all those extra pieces I just used for entertaining.  I wondered how much I could make off selling it?!   I put it on Craigslist twice -- the second time cutting the price in half.  Only scammers made contact with me (another story, another time).  So I called the consignment place to see if they'd be willing to sell it.  Imagine my surprise to find they wouldn't take it either!  They said they just can't sell them.  Reality check!  Just because you treasure something, and take good care of it, don't assume anybody else will value your item.  Buy and enjoy and use things for yourself, but don't expect other people to want it when you're done.  I'm okay with it, by the way.  It was just a surprise to learn!

Barbara said yesterday that she had Realtors who were already wanting to see our place. We don’t know if that means we’ll be getting calls to show it today or not. We hope not, as Steve’s got a Tek lunch, and I have to be here between 11:00 – 2:00 while I wait for the charity to come get our wall unit from the garage. We need that thing gone!

It’s going to be very interesting to see how this “selling-the-house” thing goes. I wonder what God will do. This is His next big chance to make it clear if we are not to sell. If I’ve learned one thing through this adventure so far, it’s that we must wait for learning what the next step is. Planning is done, but done very loosely. We never know what the next thing is until we get to the next thing. As a planner, this is new for me. I think I’m handling it just fine though ... at least for now.

Canning Equipment & Wall Unit Gone!

Parsley enjoys a new spot.
We’re sitting on the back patio, in the shade of our retractable awning, after another busy day of preparing to put our house on the market. I was so thankful to be able to share every last bit of my canning equipment with a friend’s daughter-in-law, who wants to get into canning and preserving their own food. I don’t mind taking things to the Goodwill, but sometimes it’s just nice to know the end-user.

Our favorite neighbor came by today when he saw us out working in the back yard. He’s happy to take some of our worldly goods and lawn & garden tools. How easy to just pass them on to him or his son!

Yesterday evening, our realtor had her husband and his buddy come by to help us get the living room entertainment center into the garage. What an answer to prayer! We were at our wits end!  A local charity is supposed to come take it from our garage on Friday.

Preparing for “Fulltiming” - the Early Days

Park Hosts at Fort Stevens State Park
To the best of my memory, the idea appeared in February. I know I was the one who first voiced it aloud: "Maybe we should just sell the house and become full-timers.", or something close to that. I remember looking at Steve - his mouth open - perhaps literally. I believe he said he couldn't believe I'd be willing to do something like that. I could see he liked the idea though - His face kind of lit up.

I know I spoke those words, initially, out of a need to escape the pressures of life. Whenever life gets particularly difficult, I feel an urge to “run away”. Naturally, there is no place to go where life does not follow you. But from time to time I dream of it. This was one of those times.
Even though recent difficulties of life brought the idea to mind, the moment it was said aloud something else happened. It was a solution to many things, and just felt like the idea and timing were so right for us!
When we bought this home in May of 2006, as our last real home before “downsizing”, we projected, God willing, we’d be able to live here 10 or so years. With a ¼ acre lot, we knew it would eventually be too much to keep up. We speculated that at some point we’d just hire someone to keep the yard up so we could remain here longer – no problem. Then retirement happened, and the economy dropped and we had to live more frugally than we’d expected. We adjusted.
Three and a half years after Steve retired, I was particularly in need of something fun to do to get me out of the “funk” I’d been in since losing our cat, Rosemary, in a very sad and traumatic way. We decided it was time to try out park hosting in Oregon. We applied, were accepted, and decided to spend our first hosting job on the North Oregon coast, at Fort Stevens State Park. We loved the experience even more than we expected and ended up staying on an additional month and then an extra week to help out over the New Year’s holiday.
There were so many great things we enjoyed about our park hosting experience. We got to try new things, we got to explore and enjoy the park with a whole new perspective. We learned to pick wild mushrooms! We got to drive “gators” around the park. We met many new people. We enjoyed being a part of the small community of park hosts and rangers who spent the Winter at Fort Stevens. We got to be helpful to people. We got to greet people as representatives of the park. We got to be of assistance and we were appreciated. We felt we were making a difference.
In addition, we thoroughly enjoyed the simplicity of life. We worked 5 days a week, 4 hours each day. Yet we never had a job which required our being somewhere before 1pm. We could stay in our pj’s until noon if we wanted. Yet it was a joy to have a reason to get up and out each day. We went for lots of walks. We ate well, yet simply. I generally cooked once, from which we ate twice. For the first time ever, we celebrated Thanksgiving alone. We had a simple Thanksgiving meal, and then went out and sold wood to fellow campers. Our new park host friends, Rich & Suzanne, joined us later for turkey sandwiches. It was a great day. We celebrated Christmas alone too. It was a wonderful, mostly laid back holiday season.
We had a few small trials – a small leak appeared in our 5th wheel, the park lost power several times during storms, and I came down with a nasty cold and some other physical issues in December. But, in general, we had such a great time living in our Cardinal 28RKB 5th wheel trailer for November and December of 2011.

While feeling pretty poorly, I was so anxious to get home in January. I remember saying clearly that I could never be a full-time RVer! I’m learning never to say “never”. In hindsight the areas that were lacking were related to our trailer and it’s creature comforts – or the lack of some of them. While being well made, it is not a “residential RV”. It has single paned windows, and it gets chilly in the slides during the cold weather. Since we rarely use the propane furnace due to the noise, the floor is generally cold. It’s really just fine for the amount of time we normally spend in the trailer during the winter months – but our desires have changed.
On that first day when the idea of full timing came to us, I realized what I was really talking about when I said I could never be a full timer, was that I couldn’t do it in our current trailer. We bought this 5th wheel in the Spring of 2000 specifically to last us through retirement. We chose carefully. We sacrificed our ideal floor plan for a trailer that was built well and should last us many years. We still think we made a good choice. While we love going to RV shows, looking at the new trailers with their cool creature comforts, we always said that if going to an RV show made us dissatisfied with what we have, then we’d quit going. That’s never happened. This trailer has been everything we’ve needed for many years. Steve likes to say it has one feature that none of the newer RVs has – it’s paid for!
So, coincidentally, perhaps, an RV Show was scheduled at the Portland Expo Center during the first week of March and we decided to go and check out something completely new – motorhomes! We wondered if that would even be something we could manage. How big of one would it take for us to feel we could life full time in it? How much would it costs? Would it feel right for us? We got an incredible education, but honestly never got out of the first large room of the show. At some point we were so overwhelmed, trying to digest the information. It seemed I couldn’t remember what I’d already seen. Yet certain models had just felt right. We decided to go out to the car and enjoy the lunch I’d packed and try to think things through.
After lunch, which turned out to be later in the day than we’d realized, we decided to just go back and try to find the 1-2 motorhomes that had really stood out to us. It turned out that it was only one – the Itasca Meridian 40U, manufactured by Winnebago.

We also talked to, probably, our 5th or 6th saleman. This time it was Steven Swenwold, from Camping World (west), which used to be Olinger Motorhomes, in Hillsboro. We felt he was a gift from God. He was willing to just sit and answer question after question for us. We were so thankful for his wealth of knowledge! When we later went to look him up at Camping World, we learned he is a fellow believer and even attends our church – same service. It amazes me that there could still be people at my church that I don’t even recognize by face! We think he’ll be the one who helps us find the right home for us in our future. The adventure continues!