Monday, March 28, 2011

Divide and conquer!

Last week was a busy week.  Our offer on Misty was accepted, so now we're getting all the ducks in a row for all the inspections and such.  We have a home inspection scheduled for this Friday, and we're both planning to go over for it.  (Tip: if you plan to buy a house one of the most valuable - and free! - things you can do is go through the inspection with your inspector.  Ask questions.  Listen to what he has to say about everything.  Take copious notes.  You'll learn tons and have an even better idea of what your new house will need over and above what the inspector includes in his report.)  The philosopher has his grubby clothes all picked out, as well as his boots and a small notebook.  Me?  I have a sketch of Misty's interior, and will go armed with a tape measure.  Then when I get home I can take a piece of poster board, draw a scale drawing of the interior, and start arranging everything! (Yes, I'm a nerd.  Haven't you figured that out yet?)

These measurements and arrangements are critical to the Divide And Conquer Plan of buying a house.  We have some very talented folks in our family, and we will definitely be calling on them for help.  My dad the cabinetmaker will work with us to build some additional storage for the kitchen, and my wonderful mother-in-law is a whiz at custom curtains.  Since we have several very quirky windows, her help and advice will be invaluable.  (For example, when you have a 5' x 5' window - not frosted - situated directly over the bathtub, what kind of curtains make sense?  What kind of crazy exhibitionist designed this house, anyway????)

The yard is a different matter.  If you recall, I transplanted tons of plants from my grandma's yard when she passed away.  I want to take some of these with me, of course.  So I spent most of yesterday afternoon dividing, conquering, and re-potting.  Now I have several good divisions of green hostas, and striped hostas, and red cannas, and japanese ferns, and chocolate mint, and spearmint, and lemon balm, and sage, and rosemary.  I already have my sweetshrubs in two pots, and in order to minimize the shock to the roses I think I'll wait to dig them up until we have a place to put them in the ground at the new house.  My two japanese maples are still in pots, and may actually be large enough to plant this fall, and I've got two cuttings of our corkscrew willow rooting, too.  I'm also going to wait until the daffodils and lily-of-the-valley are done blooming before I do any divisions there.  What's really great about my plan is that I have a nice shady bed in the front yard that all shade plants will absolutely love, and at the far back, lower end of the property there's already a swamp willow, so our corkscrews will be quite at home.  Now I just have to keep them alive until I have a new yard to put them in!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Play Misty for Me?

Well, I don't think there will be any stalkers in this version of "Misty" - it's the nickname we've given our NEW HOUSE!  ::insert cheers and clapping here::


We bought a bank-owned property, so we got an amazing deal.  Our payment will be less than a (cheap) car payment, and when we sell our house in 'Bama, we'll have enough money in the bank to pay off Misty.  And that, my friends, makes it all worth it, even though we'll carry two small mortgages for a while.

Misty continues our theme of buying Houses With Stone - we've decided that our liking of that particular architectural detail hearkens back to our Sewanee days, when we saw nothing but stonework buildings for blocks and blocks.  Still, I like the look and layout of Misty much much MUCH more than Brown.  There's a finished downstairs room with windows that will make a great study for the philosopher, a separate dining room, a deck, and a storage shed, all on just over a half-acre.  We're about 20 minutes from Marietta, and about 45 minutes from midtown Atlanta... and 15 minutes from my new job.  Gotta love that!

We never thought we'd buy a newer house, but this one makes sense.  The only hard work that needs to be done is replacing a bathroom floor and doing a little outdoor drainage repair, and the handyman philosopher is all over those projects. And of course, some decorating needs to happen. There is actually new carpet in the bedrooms and new paint on the walls, so all we need to do is replace the flooring in the living room and find someone (you know who you are!) who can make us some beautiful new curtains. ::grin::

So next time you want to go to Six Flags, a Braves game or the Fox Theatre, you know where you can stay!

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Garden, a Job, and a Theory

I've figured it out.  If you want to get a new job, and want to sell your house and move to where that new job is, all you need to do is plant a garden!  I planted our garden last week, and this past Thursday I got a job offer from Georgia Highlands College.  I'm really excited about it - I'll be the Reference and Instruction Librarian on the Paulding Campus (in Dallas, GA, about 15 miles to the west of Marietta).  It's basically what I'm doing now, but I'll be in a *librarian* position.  ::Happy Dance::

So that was Thursday.

On Friday, I spent hours re-arranging the house and cleaning and boxing up stuff and organizing... We're pretty organized and neat folks most of the time, but the housing market in our area is like the rest of the country - very squishy.  So I want to give our 40-year-old house the best chance possible of attracting buyers.  I took a bunch of stuff to the thrift store, and that felt GOOD.  Why is it that a pending move is the only thing that really prompts us to get rid of stuff we don't need?  (BTW - anybody want to buy a weight machine???  Heh.)

On Saturday, we met with our local realtor.  She was favorably impressed with the house, so after a couple of hours of poking and prodding and talking and telling stories and signing paperwork, we got the listing together.  It should go up on Monday, and then the wild rumpus will really begin.  (The cat did NOT impress our agent, tho.  She coughed up a hairball just as Laura was taking photos.  Anyone want to house a psychotic cat for the next two months??!?)

On Sunday, we drove to Dallas.  We explored the town, ate lunch, and met with our Dallas agent Michael.  The Atlanta area was hit hard by the bursting of the housing bubble, so we were hopeful that one of the seven houses we picked to look at would be at least "a possibility".  Housing is pretty darn cheap right now, so that is good. Unfortunately, most of the first set of houses were Completely Unacceptable.  One was terrific ("Brown 2") until we discovered standing water in the basement.  One was interesting ("Purple with a Study in Blue") but the lot was terrible.  Why is there a 2' diameter black pipe sticking up out of the ground in the back, with a screwed down lid and electrical outlets running into it???  "New Farmhouse" looks like the previous owners took hammers to the walls and fixtures before they left.  The other four aren't even worth mentioning.

Today I'll be poring over the listings again, looking for houses that meet four basic criteria: location, price, a quiet place for a study, and an "interesting" quotient.  At this point, even if it's not interesting we'll consider it as long as it meets the first three!  We'll head back to Dallas on Wednesday, and go from there to see what we can find.

So thank you all for your prayers - God definitely works in mysterious ways, doesn't he?  We didn't find a job for Greg, but being close to Atlanta will open up lots of avenues that our corner of Alabama could never offer.  We're still only 1 1/2 hours from family, so close enough to be there if we need to be.  And my dad can still come over for Football Saturdays in the fall.  All good!  Now we just have to sell our house (insert another plea for prayer here) and find a place to live in Dallas.  Oh, did I tell my job starts in 8 weeks?  So no rush!  (ACK.)

And about the garden?  Fortunately everything I planted can be harvested in late April or early May.  And the seeds for the summer veggies will keep until next year.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Let the gardening begin!

Over the winter, the philosopher and I built a 4' x 4' raised bed, with a trellis net on the north side and dividers marking each foot square section.  Indeed, it looks a lot like THIS, only there's nothing growing yet, and we used conduit instead of wood for the trellis.  (I know, I know - I'm a slacker using someone else's photo.  If the sun ever comes out again I'll take a picture of ours!)  We filled it with our very own compost, peat, vermiculite, and a little bit of bagged poo from the Big Box Garden Center.  The theory of a Square Foot Garden is to have very loose, friable soil with lots of organic matter.  You can plant things closer together, and don't have miles to hoe before you sleep.  It seems like a valid theory, so I'll let you know how it goes!  My only worry is that you have to water very regularly, but when you're only talking about 16 square feet, that seems awfully manageable.

This weekend, despite the rain and cold temps, I planted my early spring veggies: ruby Swiss chard, teton hybrid spinach, romaine lettuce, bibb lettuce, yellow onions, and sugar snap peas.  In two weeks I'll plant a second crop.  I mean really - who can eat 8 heads of lettuce all at once?  So I'm spacing out the planting which means there will be a few bits ready every week, and we can enjoy a continuous bounty.  If, that is, the rabbits don't figure out where the garden is.  It's pretty close to the house, so I'm hoping the cat staring out the window will be a good defense (in place of the fence).  ::snicker::  If not, then I'll have to escalate the battle.  I have a plan, but I don't want to comment about it on the off chance the opposition reads my blog.  Rabbits are devilishly tricky little blighters, after all.  (Much like Cornish pixies!)

Anyway, towards the end of the month I'll add carrots to the garden, and plant our new herbs in the herb bed - chives, oregano, cilantro, and TONS of sweet basil to go along with the rosemary, sage, thyme, chamomile, and various mints we already have.  Come early May, the peas, lettuce and spinach will be done, and I'll plant peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant in their places.  I don't plan to start those from seed, so we'll pay a visit to the most bountiful Master Gardener Plant Sale at the end of April.  When the last of the chard comes out, in will go the bush beans.  And if it looks like we'll still be where we are in the fall then I will plant some winter squash and do another round of late-season chard and lettuce!  And if I can talk the philosopher into it, I may even try to do a winter planting of kale.

So bring on the spring, and let the gardening BEGIN!!