Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cats and MORE cats!

We now have 2 more cats to add to the critter total. Actually we "had" them all along... they were some trapped and neutered ferals that K took pity on when it was too cold to return them to their colony, post-op. Tiny kittens, bare naked bellies, cold January winds on the beach (they were caught at a hotel in Atlantic Beach, ON the ocean.

We tried for months to tame them in the house with our other, totally house cats, but they would not tame. They hid out under and behind, and never really did get the cat box thing, 'cause to do that they would have to COME OUT from their hidey holes... and venture into the bathroom.

Eventually I got tired of trying to extract them from places and K got tired of the smell of cat presents he could never quite find all of and reluctantly caught them and released them outside where we continued to feed them and they lived, for some time, under the house.

Then, they were gone. Or at least they were not coming to eat or being seen and after a long while of getting disgusted over having fed general strays and loose dogs, we stopped feeding.

Then, as they went, they returned... we began to have sightings... and then there would be a cry on the porch and it was one of the sisters... so we began feeding again, but only on days (more often nights) of a sighting.

They seemed to be getting tamer, not sure why, and I started not feeding the main visitor, Kindness, unless she first allowed me to touch, and then later to pet her. Her "sister" Abby would never come closer than the end of the porch and strangely enough, there was quite a bit of animosity between them. When Abby was around, Kindness would not let me pet and was very skittish.

K was upset at the thought of just leaving them, though they were "feral" by all intents and purposes and bought a live trap. We began feeding them IN the trap a couple of weeks ago and tonight decided to try to catch Kindness -- as she was the most domestic we figured it would be the easiest catch.

In point of fact, Abby showed up first, so we removed the safety from the trap and put in their usual bowl of food, and though she was cautious at first, in less than 5 minutes, she was caught.
Far from being a hissing ball of fluff, Abby allowed K to remove her from the trap by hand, went into her crate without much fuss and allowed us both to pet her when we let her loose later in the empty bedroom where we have the cat crates. She even purred... and not the "please don't eat me" purr either!

We hoped that Kindness hadn't been around to see, re-set the trap and waited. About half an hour later, Kindness appeared and (smelling Abby's scent) was VERY cautious. K feared she would set the trap off before she entered us, but she was shortly successfully trapped as well. And counter to our expectations, SHE was the wild one, attacking the trap like a cat with PTSD. LOL After we got her to her new digs, though, she calmed down.

One large worry out of the way, two more "sirens" heading north...

Crazy Yankee house hunt continues

I have decided to pass at this time on the Lyford property. It would have been fun, but also had a lot of "gotta make this work first... and now" issues... and the fact that the realtor's first offer after my open-ended "I am concerned about..." mention of points in the inspection report was to report that the owner was giving back all monies I had put forth, with no other suggestion, led me feel that this was the right choice at this point.

She has another listing, much less land, a trailer with add ons in town for much less $$, but when approached about this one, it turns out it is an estate and has a mortgage and so there is no "wiggle room" in the figures and they cannot carry.

Another agent found me an other trailer (newer, also in Milo on .25 acres, at the end of a dead end road) that is currently not showing in most of the MLS listings, but in his listing is shown as "withdrawn" and he says the price is down to 28,500 though the listing shows it at "down to $34,900" ... he is talking to them about possible options, but as a last resort has a mobile home in a park that he will rent us month to month, with the critters, for what we can afford to give us time to look around.

As much as I do NOT want to exercise that option, I am glad it is there...

I should know more tomorrow morning at the latest... however we may be looking for a small (5x10') storage space for stuff, if we end up renting initially.

so I continue the box wars here in NC and try not to get too anxious...

Monday, February 25, 2008

In a turmoil

I got the inspectors report today... I was originally aghast at the cost of this service but when I downloaded the detailed 20+ page report, I could tell I got what I had paid for. But not exactly what I wanted.

The inspector deems the place uninhabitable. There are serious issues in the main electric box (d'uh... it is in the BASEMENT in a house that FLOODED) and there are evidences of roof leaks. None of the wiring is "right" let alone up to code (this is no surprise.. the state of the breaker box was) but the big concern is that there is damage to floor joists on both floors of the original house. SOME is rot, etc. but upstairs some incompetent plumber CUT THE JOISTS to put in pipes.

The place site far enough back from the road that a "private" electric pole is needed, that the dead tree the planted there long ago (I am speculating here...) is rather the worse for wear...

There are plumbing issues too.. incompetent repairs...

One friend says "it would be fun..." others are in the "oh, my God" camp. I was out running around, which I really didn't need to be doing, other than going to the bank, so I did not catch the report right when it came in by email and therefore was not able to formulate an email to the listing agent before end of business.

The inspector thinks it's so bad that he referred me to "one of 4 realtors in the state of Maine" that he trusts, who do sales and rentals, to try to find us a rental while we continue to look. I talked with the female part of the business who did not bat an eye at the cats and St. Bernard, asked if we smoked and said she would pass it along to her husband. I have not heard anything back tonight. They have (they do not know it yet) until noon...

I sent a cautious email to the listing agent listing SOME of the major issues and basically saying we have concerns... I would like to try to get some concessions... but even barring that.. barring a rental (cheap, at that) showing up tomorrow... I am prepared to move forward.

The inspector has guardedly expressed a notion that we could possibly "camp out" in the back part of the house while beginning work, and as he is also a licensed electrician, I have sent him an email feeling him out about possibly working WITH us as a consultant to get started on that part... replace the panel and put in one, maybe two proper lines for starters.

K is having more issues than I am, largely because he will be "stuck" there when I go off to work, having to face his limitations and frustrations over not being able to do the lions share FOR me (which is totally what I would not want anyway... ) and sometimes worrying about whether or not he will be able to get high speed internet and proper electricity to play the online game he says keeps him calm and allows him to get past his pain.

In many ways he has lived a sheltered life.. or I have lived a much harder one than it appears to me, for the idea of "camping out" with minimal facilities for an indefinite period, while working full time, running a business and working on the house doesn't seem like that big a deal. Yeah, it may be a "dump" but I have lived in a lot of "dumps" by suburban soccer mom standards, most of them NOT MINE, and my biggest frustration has been not being allowed -- or willing to "throw away" the money at a rental -- to make them right.

One of the most satisfying times of my life, in many ways, was when I was "bootstrapping" up from nothing... when the unexpected find of a single $1 food stamp was enough to make not only my day and my week, but a photo op for my friend and a pix that still brings a smile to my face when I see it. I was working through relationship stuff then... having just left my family and having been "pushed into" making in permanent (pushed only in the time of the decision... I cannot see myself taking any other path, had time allowed for more consideration of the choice). And I moved from that first, almost closet-size, uninsulated excuse of a cabin, in which I over-wintered, to a larger, slightly better insulated one with the spring -- only to discover during my first night there, and the first rainstorm of the spring, that the roof leaked so much it was barely better than standing under one of the pine trees in the yard. I "happened to have" the solution at hand, a large sheet of contractor-grade plastic sheeting, which I stapled to the rafters. As the rain filled the plastic, and just before it became heavy enough to tear loose from the staples, I pierced in the lowest points of the water-filled cover, allowing the rain to collect in only a FEW buckets and dishpans! I didn't get much sleep when it rained, for a few weeks, as I had to awaken periodically to dump the catch basins, and for years after, the sound of water dripping, even off the eaves of a warm, dry house unsettled me.

The problem was a roof with only a couple of inches slope, in an area of significant snow and rain. The roof was flat enough that my solution was to build two rooms upstairs (accessed by vertical ladders through holes in their floors) with properly pitched rooflines, and new roof lines added over the rest of the building. It never leaked again.

And most of this was done with scrounged parts, except for the shingles and even some of them were not new to me...

I can do this. And in the next few days we will know if I shall.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I have dropped the bomb...

I could procrastinate no longer... Below is what I have sent to my local NC clients. Crossing fingers that if any decide to bail, they will only be the couple that I have tried (unsuccessfully) to fire in the past! This was written as a "boilerplate" but was address and sent to each client, individually.


Client Name Here --

After being presented with an opportunity to purchase land somewhere that I have always wanted to live, I have made the decision to relocate Vision from the Down East area to another down east area, in Maine. All of you with whom I have worked for the last several years know that the great majority of our work can be handled over the phone and with emails regardless of the size of the project. The success that we have had doing this has been a prime factor in my decision to take advantage of this opportunity.

I will be maintaining my local phone number for your convenience (252 732 5315) and will have mail forwarded from our Smyrna box. Our Maine address will be PO Box 2497, Bangor, ME 04402.

Please contact me with any and all concerns that you may have with my relocation and how you feel it may affect your business and our business relationship. I value you and your business and will work with you to keep everything running smoothly, both during this transition and into the future. I will be back in the area from time to time and will notify you in advance of these trips so that you can schedule a meeting if you desire.

If you wish to transfer your site to another host, I will be more than glad to provide your site content on CD and will make all practical and proper assistance to your new vendor during the transfer period.

I look forward to hearing from you and welcome your contact with any and all questions regarding current and future concerns.



On other fronts, I have engaged a home inspector who will likely do his thing tomorrow and have an attorney retained to handle the legal stuff. A friend drove by the property today and sent me a message saying "It's a good location and though it needs work, I think you did well. It looks lonely if you know what I mean. It needs love and life. If it were me I would be happy, it looks like a "Home"."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

One step closer

I have been VERY busy... along with packing to move and trying to do this real estate deal I have been keeping clients happy, giving a talk on hexen (Monday night) which included schlepping them all out to the community college and then back, hauling my overworked butt out to SC yesterday to meet a new (online) friend who is also planning to move to ME come fall... she is a photographer by avocation and a medical transcriptionist by vocation and a wonderful lady of similar age to me... somehow I am being a catalyst in her life, stirring up change wonder why? LOL

On the way back we took the scenic route since I had never been to Myrtle Beach. I waded in the SC ocean (yea, it was BRRRR) and we stopped to wander a bit at the outlet malls, which was a good thing as I got a good deal on several pair of wool sox like the single pair I bought many years ago, on the west coast, when ONE $9 pair of good wool sox was all I could afford 10 yrs ago or so. They have worn like iron, though (still wearing them and they are thin but not yet darned!), and I while I did not remember the brand, I had been looking (with at least the back of my awareness) for more pairs for years, especially so since knowing I was going to Maine, well I found them on sale at one of the outlets and got 4 pairs! also some wonderful Thinsulate gloves, pair for K and one for me, at $2.50 a pair.

Saw the moon doing the entry into the eclipse as K drove us home, so I did trance and some ritual work while we were driving, finished it after we got home.

Today I signed and fax back the Offer to Purchase and Contract for the red house on 1.5 acres, send earnest $$ and a check to the owner for some oil to start the heat system up... he is going to get a plumber in at his expense to make sure the hot water baseboard heat/water heater is working! so we will not be moving into a frozen house... We are still looking for closing on or before March 3. And I retained a lawyer to handle the title search and that kind of stuff... I still have to get someone to do an inspection, but have been talking to someone on line who works in that field and that will take far less time than the legal BS, which is what usually delays a closing, if anything does. So I got the legal stuff started at the end of business today and will call about inspection tomorrow.

K is trying hard NOT to succumb to what is apparently a flu. He is worried about being sick when we need to move, but at this point he can focus on fighting off the bug and I can continue packing and that will work.

I met with a couple of clients today and will send out my email informing the rest of the changes tomorrow. Cross your fingers they will stick with me. At the rate things are progressing, the new mortgage payment will be a little more than half our current rent, and we will not have to pay for water coming or going (unless there are issues with the going part, in which case we may need to rent a porta-john for a bit... ) so if I can keep most of them, who knows, I may be able to build business in ME and get by with part time job in an other field.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dickering, long distance

Well, we are "in the midst of" a real estate negotiation, for real. Have got to the "faxing documents back and forth" part... I am waiting for K to come back with the fax that finally came in to Staples, as he went to get his car serviced this morning and Staples is on his way home.

We have decided not to take the option on the additional 20 acres, the guy wants $1500 for the year option and is only willing to count half that toward the purchase price. Instead I am going to put a "no see 'em" spell on that bit of earth... just a bit of misdirection sending attention to the nearly identical adjacent plot, for a while. Once I get settled, and see what the house on the 1.6 acres needs, there will be time to make an offer.

I have seen far to many folks who were "house poor" and who didn't have money left for anything... just had to work to support their house and that is not my idea of fun.

After having to prove my identity and worrying about not being able to supply a credit score, it looks like the seller has decided that I am a bona fide buyer since there are documents involved at this point. Now I need to choose a lawyer and decide if I want inspections and such. I am not represented by an agent in this deal, so I have to look out for our interests... I have had some discussion on the Maine online forum about such things and what I am hearing kinda confirms my sense that in this case inspections would be a waste of money, as those guys are used to looking at homes that are supposed to be in "move in" condition. LOL I worry an inspection might get this condemned or bring the inadequate sewage disposal set up to the awareness of powers who need to continue to over look it... (think cesspool, for those who have heard the term, as opposed to septic tank and leach field). Yeah it WILL need doing, but if there is a couple anywhere on the planet who use little enough water to not over stress this antique, it can be us.

The fact that there seems to be a deal proceeding does take a bit of stress off me.. though I will feel even better once there is ink on paper, $$ changing hands (earnest $$ and the $250 up front to put some oil in the tank to get the heat and hot water started up.) I know 100 gal won't last long but ... K has some familiarity with that type of system and says yeah, the thermostat can be turned WAY down... and we are prepared to mostly heat with the propane heaters we have been using here and a new kerosene one that can burn overnight, like I saw at a friend's place recently.

Packing is proceeding, constantly. My office is almost done, and I will be transitioning to using the laptop computer shortly, just to make sure I have everything on it I need for the transition. Last night I gave a talk on the Hex signs, it went well, and that is now out of the way and off my "stress burner." Afterwards I took the President and former president of the organization (which is also one of my clients) out for drinks and sprung the bombshell on them.. and this one client is staying. GOOD news.. as I like working with them...

I also re-did the reservation for the truck today, to apply the 12% AAA discount, as K had joined the auto club, for at least a year.

I have a lot to get done today as tomorrow I am taking a day totally off, and driving to Myrtle Beach SC, to meet a fellow artist, a woman who is a photographer, has been shooting every fall in the Bar Harbor area, and is planning to move up there for good this fall. She plans to try to sell her work (mostly aimed at visitors from other states) and continue working from home, as she does now. She emailed me some time back and we have discovered we have a lot more in common than just the love of photography, so this will be a fun visit and hopefully a new friend at not such a long distance once we have both moved.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Here are a couple of pics of the house that I am hoping to come to terms on. It sits on 1.5 acres, north of Bangor, ME. I had a friend check it out, as it is very affordable and listed "as is"... it seems like it will need lots of work, but I am up for it. In other ways it doesn't sound much "worse" than the place we are renting right now... where the roof leaks and the landlord's solution -- after the sheetrock fell into the bathtub -- was new sheetrock and a bucket in the attic to catch the leak! LOL At least when it's ours we CAN fix it!

My friend said:
  • First is a mudroom or breezeway, with two bench seats, one on either side of the door. That leads into the kitchen.
  • A right turn takes you to the living room. The front area would have been a really large living room 20'X25' except some idiot has thrown up a sheetrock partition dividing it in half. The sheetrock is not taped or plastered and it is ugly. The ceiling is fairly low, maybe 6'2", it has some plywood with some sheetrock over that and then open rough cut 2X4s. Being a 25' long room there is visible sag in the ceiling. The walls are a very nice wood grain wainscot, hung in diagonal stripes. Wood grain walls with rough-cut 'beams' it could be a nice look they were going for. No closet.
  • Up-stairs are two In-complete bedrooms that again some idiot recently tried to divide in half, and they left the sheet rock un-taped and un-plastered. If you pulled down the sheetrock, you would have a large bedroom up there. A full bathroom is off the hall. The bathroom has a skylight. There are floor registers that are not connected to anything, rather that look down into the living room. No closet.
  • Back to the kitchen, what a mess. The stove is gone, much of the cabinets are gone, the floor tiles look like multiple layers and mis-matched. A sky-light is in the middle of the kitchen, but it was covered over with plywood to try and seal the leak. The kitchen has a partial cathedral ceiling in wood grain, with that sky-light. Rough-cut beams run across it horizontal at about 6'2".
  • Right now the kitchen walls are dry, but then the interior of the house is well below freezing. Once the house was brought up to warm, it may well begin leaking again. The roof between the kitchen and the rear bedroom form a 'V'. The skylight is on the kitchen side of the 'V' not far from the gully. Once the snow and ice are gone, I would consider looking very close at the shingles and flashing. Some idiot ripped down the cabinets and began tearing apart the wall chasing the leak. Which I view as stupid. Go fix the roof. If it had a good underlayment and shingles leading onto flashing then the water should be gone. Unless this is an issue which arose from an ice-dam. I can not tell what it is from with so much snow pack on top. Possibly to remove the shingles from both sides of the 'V', a plywood underlay, rubber sheeting on top with the peak ridge caps laying right onto the rubber sheet. Then even if it did ice-dam again in the future, it would not leak.
  • It gives the appearance that many people have re-modeled this house, many times.
and his wife said:
  • It's cute. It's an old house that has gone through a lot of remodels, and you can tell. When windows were added, or closed off, you can see the seam. The same goes for the inside of the house.
  • You can see all your neighbors, the land is very open. The barn is set behind the house. I didn't go in it, the snow is over my knees, and my boots don't go up that high :) There is no fencing. So if you wanted to bring in animals you would also need to bring in fencing.
  • This would be a rough move...basically you are purchasing a shell. There is no way to close off any of the extra spaces for heating purposes this time of year. Having said that it is do able, I saw no other damage than that one spot in the kitchen. It would be A LOT of work. I think it would be a great place to show/use your creative talents.
Since I don't have a job and am not established yet and don't have the $40k they are asking, we need the owners to carry for a bit... and they are willing... we are working on terms now.

I hope they are not going to insist on seeing a credit report as no one yet has managed to pull one on me! My name screws it up, I guess... but I am more than willing to open my books (both personal and business) for their scrutiny and I did get a glowing letter of reference from my current landlord, as they had requested one. Luckily I managed to find him home on my second try yesterday.

Here at the studio life TRIES to go on.. I had better get busy on client stuff today, though it is hard to concentrate...

Thursday, February 14, 2008


We are moving to Maine in 15 days.

"We" consists of your blogger, my friend, Grey and our assortment of critters: 5 or possibly 7 cats, a Saint Bernard, and 4 zebra finches.

Our target is somewhere in the Bangor, Maine area. As of this point we have no house to move to, no job and not a whole heck of a lot of resources, considering what we are doing. Grey is disabled and receives a small Social Security payment which will mostly be eaten up by his medicines, we fear. I was a casualty of the economic bust in the real estate market in NC, getting laid off when one of my employers closed his rental business. So I am getting some unemployment for a bit. I also do some graphic design and with any luck will not loose ALL of my clients with this move.

I have friends and relatives who are interested in my crazy exploits, so I have decided to blog specifically about our adventures in Maine for their reading pleasure.

A bit of background might be in order, for those who happen upon this blog. I have been a bit of a gypsy, having been born in MI in the late 1940s, completing high school in SoCal and attending UCLA and almost graduating with a major in astronomy and math. Since leaving home I have lived in MD, CA (several communities), CO, WI, WA (several communities), TX, NC (several communities) and all without benefit of being in the military! At several of the points when a move was in order (as a result of economic changes) I had Maine on my possible places to move... usually along with Alaska. Most often it was not my choice but left up to the fates; I would move to where ever a job came open first.

While I have enjoyed my sojourn on the NC coast, and especially appreciate the people here, they have not been able to completely compensate for my lack of enthusiasm for summer. I have Summer SAD. When the days begin to get long, and the rising sun -- which is a welcome sight and feel coming through my kitchen windows during a winter dawn -- hits my skin and eyes it almost feels like a physical assult. I have taken St. John's Wart for depression the past few summers and while it has made it almost tolerable emotionally, I dispise the idea and feel of air conditioning and at the same time, want to not move at all when the temperature gets above 80 and stays. Normally I love being outdoors -- I am a gardener given earth to till -- and to loose most of the season to the over powering heat just gets to me.

So, some time back I began plotting to move North again and took a vacation last fall to Maine. I knew then I would be back this year, though I did not know how.

I am not quite sure how yet... but there are a couple of houses talking to me and one employer anxious for me to arrive for an interview. The fact that "a poor person" CAN buy a house and land there -- $40k can get you a building and a few acres within a communting distance to Bangor -- I find truly wonderful Even when I arrived here on the NC coast a few years ago, that was unheard of, and now even a beat up old trailer on a trailer park lot is listed for over $100k. Where are the real people to live??

I found a wonderful community of friends on City-Data.com, on their Maine forum
and have made contact with several folk of my general spiritual path.

So, come Feburary 28 I pick up a 16' truck and on Feb 29, we head north on this adventure.