chhotii: (Default)
The realtor I showed the house to on Tuesday was the realtor who handled the sale of my Brookline apartment. I haven't signed anything committing myself to working with him. As far as the sale of my condo went, he was fine; he seemed to know his stuff, and things worked out OK. I brought a lot of my own clue into the picture. I overrode his decision on the listing price, and I proved to be right. And I knew to ask the fire department about the 26F, which was fortunate; if I hadn't done that until he mentioned it, that might've been too late. But, no big complaints, and he was very nice to work with. So when he was eager to help me sell the house in the 'burbs, I was like, sure, come take a look at it, and tell me what you think.

But I think he's more of an expert on property in the city, and I think that the market is so different in the Suburbs of Despair. He still hasn't gotten back to me with an estimate of the price we should list. Maybe he's as stumped as I am: it's much harder to figure out from the comps. When I sold my condo, there were 3 or 4 apartments of similar size for sale in the same complex. Extrapolating from that much data was easy. In the town where the house is, there are, maybe, 3 houses of the same size range for sale in the whole town, and they are all really really different.
despair about house values in the Suburbs of Despair )
Anyway, not having given up yet on the value of the house, I have made an appointment to meet with another realtor, to find out what she thinks the house is worth. This one has an office a stone's throw from the house, so she should be a lot more knowledgeable about the market in that area. We'll see what she thinks!
chhotii: (bills)
In my condo, I have all the home-maintenance items I need to maintain a condo that I'm actually living in-- a vacuum cleaner, a broom, a mop, a power drill, various screwdrivers, a hammer, a small step stool, a level.

I also own a house. For now. Hopefully, in 4 or 5 months, I will no longer own a house. I might never own a house again. If I ever own a house again, far in the future, it will probably be a smaller house, hopefully surrounded with no lawn, just trees.

So, there's all these things I need to do all the maintenance on the house that's suddenly urgent to make the house presentable for showing and selling, that I might never need again. I'm reluctant to rush out and buy them. I don't want to spend money stupidly; I'm sure to be unpleasantly surprised by how much something costs, and bump up against the limit of my house-improvement budget; and it's ecologically unfortunate that we collectively buy so much stuff and stuff it all into storage for "someday".

Thus, I would like to propose something: that if you, dear friends, own any of these items, and will not be using them immediately, loan them to me? You will get them back when the house sells (probably around mid-August) and if your thing is not in satisfactory condition when I'm done with it, I will buy you a new one.

Here's my wish-list:
Paint rollers
Paint trays
Drop cloths
Pruning shears
Garden trowel
Hose sprayer nozzle
Lawn spreader
Metal detector
Weed whacker
Long-handled soft-bristle brush
Air mattresses
Possibly anything else helpful for house maintenance that I'm not thinking of.

chhotii: (Default)
Yesterday's adventures in owning a house in the 'burbs:

Tuesday and Wednesday were non-rainy, so on Wednesday morning I spent about 40 minutes watering the lawn. This feels futile. I'm having trouble having faith that any of the grass seed will sprout. The ground is damp all the time, with all the rain we have been getting, but the grass seed sits on top of the ground, and probably dries out. I should've gotten the grass seed in the matrix of greenish-whitish stuff to hold moisture around the seeds.

Not having faith that I'm not going to have to go through putting down seed all over again anyway, I didn't mind the idea of digging up some of the yard. And I have to find the cap to the septic tank, to get it pumped. This seems imperative for passing the Title V inspection.

Never buy a house that's not on town sewer. Just don't.

I thought I remembered vaguely where the cap was, and there's a patch of lawn that's depressed, with bumpy and scraggly lawn around it, about where I thought the cap might be. Dug there. Nope. Dug more holes around there. Still nope. I kept hitting something very very hard, with a clang, with the shovel, and getting all excited thinking I had found it, but in every case it turned out to be a large rock. Fucking glacier droppings everywhere. I dug many many holes. Found nothing but frustration.

Then I thought-- let's look at where the main outflow pipe is in the basement, and where it exits the foundation. The tank should be somewhere on a straight line from that, right? So the main outflow pipe should point in the right direction. It's hard to tell exactly, because the pipe goes off in a bit of an angle, but it seemed to be pointing to much closer to the driveway than I remembered. That's weird.

Started digging holes near the driveway, but decided I needed to stop wasting time on stupidity. I should study the Title V paperwork from 2004. There's a map, it should help. The problem is that since this was done, the location of the back edge of the house has moved: We tore down the laundry room, and replaced it with the mudroom and an extension to the dining room. Hopefully the Title V map has enough information to figure this out-- like, the entire shape of the back of the house, showing the back wall of the living room, so I can measure from there. I still have to dig up the Title V paperwork and look at it before I know how dire the situation is.

This boondoggle left me in a very cranky mood. I went back to my mom's, and failed to deal well with not remembering the WiFi password, and not having a clean shirt, and there not being any food that I really wanted there, and the lack of decaf coffee, and my mother being gone on her grocery store run for so long that I started to worry about her, and my kid getting into the candy leftover from the gingerbread house kit.
chhotii: (bills)
Met with a realtor and showed him the house. There's a bunch of work that he thinks should be done before putting the house on the market. Work on the house would be an investment that would more than pay for itself. The lawn is the least of my problems.

Things I can do myself:
* Tidying up the landscaping
* Some plastering and painting (probably not all the painting due to time constraints)
* Decluttering
* Cleaning

Things I would have to throw money at that the realtor brought up:
* Investigate and fix leaks from upstairs plumbing that have caused water stains on downstairs ceiling
* Investigate mold patch on basement wall
* Dehumidifier for basement
* Power washing exterior
* Clean out gutters on both house and garage
* Replace those "temporary" lolly columns that have been holding up the house for at least 15 years
* Maybe replace bay window pane in in-law?
* Painting and plastering that I don't have time to do
* Continue to have the landscaping company mow the lawn (when it needs it)
* Have an inspection done (which may trigger more expenditures)

Other things, not brought up by the realtor, but on my mind:
* Septic tank needs pumping
* Might need a Bagster or similar to declutter
* A tree at the corner looks mostly dead, and may need to be removed
* Lots of mulch

I may be forgetting things.

This sounds like MONEY. After I sell the house I will have money; right now I have no money. I do have a good credit rating, so the realtor suggested, get a home equity loan. Hopefully the home equity loan process is less of a pain in the ass than a mortgage?
chhotii: (Default)
My life is now ruled by anxiety over how regularly H2O lands on the lawn of a house I don't live in. It will continue to be such, until either the grass seeds sprout, or I give up on the current application of grass seed. Sprout, little seeds, sprout! Why must it take so long for seed to sprout?

I was mislead on the subject of watering the lawn after overseeding by an offhand comment in a This Old House segment on You Tube on the subject of dethatching. The "expert" explained all about dethatching, then said to the homeowner "Now that you have dethatched, it's a perfect time to spread some seed... Now if it doesn't rain for two days, water your new seed." I thought, great! I can make sure the lawn gets wet every 2 to 3 days. Especially when Vic has school vacation, and our schedule is pretty flexible. But everything I've read since then on lawn care insists on watering new seed at least daily, if not 2 to 3 times per day. Opinions on just how often vary, but, thinking it over, it makes sense that how long it takes for the seed to dry out will vary a lot depending on all the factors-- the temperature, how sunny the weather is, how shaded the ground is, the slope and drainage, the contact between the seed and the ground, how much it rains if it does rain, the type of seed and whether it's treated.

Argh. Things I could've done better and might regret:
1) Should've gotten seed that's treated with a coating to retain moisture.
2) Should've worked the seed into the ground a bit with the rake.

Of course, this would've driven up the cost in both money and time per square foot. If there are areas of the lawn that are still not green enough 4 to 6 weeks from now, I will go after specifically those spots with the treated seed and the rake. Hopefully that will be just selected trouble spots and not the entire lawn again. Trying this again, with the whole lawn, when the weather is warmer (and thus evaporating water off faster) and there isn't school vacation... let it not come to that.

Happily, it did rain there the night after we spread seed. My informant from the Suburbs of Despair described things as "quite soggy" and didn't think I would have to water again any time soon. But, yesterday was quite warm and sunny, and no more rain was forecast for about the next 36 hours, and I was reading these things that said to water the grass seed every few hours. So I wanted to go there and water yesterday evening, just in case. Vic, however, had a headache and did not want to go anywhere. I could not decide what to do-- try to twist Vic's arm about going? Leave Vic, and drive all the way out there by myself, in miserable traffic, just to water ground that was probably already wet?

I called my mother to discuss my quandary and indecision. Mom has experience with suburban living and lawn frustrations, and was concerned about the grass seed if it wasn't watered at the end of such a sunny day, but sympathetic about Vic's headache. Much to my surprise, Mom volunteered to water the grass. At first I was aghast. Making my elderly mother do my yardwork! I felt really bad about this idea. Mom, however, was insistent. Apparently she has been making progress in physical therapy and was sure she felt up to it. OK, so it has been almost a year since the surgery, and doesn't want to be treated like an invalid any more, and I do want to encourage her to get exercise. It's just a mental adjustment, after a year of using the handicapped parking whenever we go anywhere in Mom's car, and Mom saying that she's too disabled to take the train into Boston, and her grumping about the fact that there's no elevator in my new condo, to contemplate her going out into the yard and dragging the hose all around.

Mom had a great time watering, though. She got to meet Sarah and the little kid, and evaluate the exterior of the house for curb appeal and give me a lot of advice on that front. So, that worked out. Apparently the lawn did in fact need watering in areas with full sun.

This evening I must go to the house and water again. It's forecast to probably rain again tonight, but not certain enough and not early enough. Monday's forecast is for rain, yay! Tuesday and Wednesday, I'm not seeing rain in the forecast. Vic has a dentist appointment on Tuesday, and a therapy appointment on Wednesday. But, between these appointments, I think we can go spend the night at my mom's, and be fairly local to the house and I can do a bunch of watering.

Then, the forecast is currently showing rain on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday! Wow! W00t! It will be fantastic if it actually works out that way. Very usefully-timed rain, indeed.
chhotii: (Default)
After all that moaning and groaning about hating yardwork, I've thrown myself fully into the project of trying to improve the lawn.

Last weekend, it was so lovely out, I did not want to let the lovely weather go to waste. I wanted to try using the dethatching rake but couldn't find it. Attempts to dethatch with a regular rake were encouraging as a proof of concept-- dead grass came out of the lawn, with no apparent damage to any healthy-looking green stuff-- but discouraging in how slow the going was, and how little area I could do before my hands threatened to develop blisters (even with work gloves on). So, I asked the landscaping company that usually mows the grass about dethatching; they quoted me $200, which seemed well worth it. Sometime last week they came and drove their power rake in erratic loops around on the lawn. It's hard to judge just how effective this was.

Last weekend I also investigated the huge bag of grass seed that had been sitting in the garage for who knows how long. I'm guessing Matt bought it, so it was, maybe, 4 years old? Rodents had gotten into it in a big way. I don't know if any of that seed was capable of sprouting, but, I figured, we need to get rid of it, and if it's on the lawn it might do some good. So I spread that around in the front, between the driveway and the pine trees. And got miserably soaked watering it because the connection between the hose and the sprayer leaked. Maybe a few grains of that will yet sprout; or maybe all I did was compost that lawn with rodent poop.

Last night Vic and I went back out to the Suburbs of Despair, to try to get a decent seeding done ASAP now that the power raking is done. Bought fresh grass seed (almost a half acre's worth), a wee amount of topsoil to fill a few holes, and work gloves for Vic, and spent almost 3 hours working on the yard. I am paying Vic to help with the yardwork; and their frontal lobes have matured enough to keep in mind what they want to buy, remind themselves periodically why they are doing this, and not complain too much about it. Yay for advancing maturity.

Having spent time and money getting grass seed onto the yard, I need to now keep it watered so it will actually grow. I had forgotten to try to get the kind of seed that's coated to retain moisture. Keeping the seed wet is made more challenging by the town's water restrictions: if you don't have well water (which I don't), you can't water between 9 am and 5 pm, and you may only use a sprinkler once a week. This morning I was so happy to hear the sound of rain. But, according to the weather app on my phone, though it was raining in Brookline and raining and Andover, it was not raining in Wilmington. Why, why is the universe out to get me.
chhotii: (Default)
I just signed up with with my gmail address. From now on, if I buy airplane tickets and have the confirmation sent to Gmail, they will automatically run a donation on my card to some environmental organization (of my choice). If I fly to California it would come to about $30. That's not bad, relative to the overall cost of travel. They claim that one cent a mile is "an average estimate of the cost to offset carbon emissions from individual air travel based on multiple carbon calculators."

If offsetting carbon is so cheap then why are we not offsetting carbon on a much larger scale? I get the feeling that people think that not destroying the biosphere, and leaving a livable planet to future generations, is impractically expensive. Yeah, it costs a few more bucks. But if you can afford to fly... isn't the future of everything worth something?
chhotii: (Default)
Grr, I hate grass. Well, I love all green plants, because they turn CO2 into O2 and as an oxygen-breather, I appreciate that. And grass makes a useful surface on which to play catch. Not that I have anyone in my life to play catch with. And it's useful for feeding horses and cows. I have no livestock. But generally I have not much use for grass.

But, if you have a house, you are expected to surround it with a thick healthy crop of neatly-tended grass. This is part of the reason that that house is not an ideal investment for me, and a big reason living in a condo is the right thing. Condominiums have their advantages and disadvantages; not having to personally deal with the landscaping is a big thing in the plus column.

Grr, I should've stood my ground years ago. When Rich and I were looking at houses, we looked at one with a tiny, tiny lawn. Rich said "but the yard is too small". I said, "the less lawn we have, the less time you have to spend mowing. I'm not going to mow the lawn. I'm allergic to grass. Do you want a lot of grass that needs cutting?" Rich said "don't worry, I'll cut the lawn." So he got his way. But, predictably, was Rich good at keeping up with mowing the lawn? No.

All that is long past and now I have the situation of needing the lawn to look good to sell the house. I've informed the tenants that I'm not renewing their lease because I need to sell the house. Informing the tenants was the object of some procrastination, because saying "I'm not renewing your lease" sounds too much like "you're fired" or "I'm leaving", and I have trouble saying things like that when there's no reason to be mad. But, I realized that I'm doing them no favors staying mum, that the kindest thing for them is to give them time to plan. So, Jason has been altered, and he says he's talking to the others. So that's done.

So, now that they know, and it's a lovely spring day, I should probably be at the house spreading grass seed. Probably the grass should be de-thatched before it does any good to spread the grass seed. Why does the lawn at the house always look so patchy and scraggly? Maybe because we were so lame about watering it. I am so ignorant about good lawn care, probably because, from an environmentalist perspective, the whole scene horrifies me.

Painting and plastering, I could jump into with gusto. But the lawn, oh I don't want to deal. But that probably has the longest lead time. Probably I should've been spreading grass seed in the fall. Argh. Grr.
chhotii: (Default)
The news from my family is that one of my cousins has finally at long last gotten married. (If I'm 49 then the twins must be about, hmm, 38? About time one of the twins got hitched!) Yay cousin!

The "scandalous" news is that the bride is Asian. The "obvious question" from my mother is whether the parents are "okay" with this? My uncles says that he's okay with it but that my aunt is not.

Well, fuck her. If being racist causes her to feel uncomfortable when her son gets married then she deserves to feel uncomfortable as hell. I feel uncomfortable with being related to a bigot.
chhotii: (Default)
Whoa! Have you seen this? A neural net can produce an amazingly realistic-looking fictional face. Thus, you bot followers can all have their own unique faces.
chhotii: (Default)
I’m in my new condo!!!!
chhotii: (Default)
I would try to relax by taking a bubble bath, but I don't know where I packed the bubble.
chhotii: (Default)
Awesome! Look at what has been introduced in the Massachusetts State Legislature: An Act relative to gender identity on Massachusetts identification. This will allow three choices for identity on driver's licenses, etc: M, F, or X. Crucially, you would not need a doctor's note to identify as "X".

I think this has a good chance this legislative cycle. Last time around the odious Jim Lyons made it a personal project to put a stop to a similar bill. Well, he has been replaced by the awesome Tram Nguyen, who I note is a co-sponsor of HD-840.
chhotii: (Default)
Yes! Legislation has been introduced in the Massachusetts State Legislature to write gender neutral bathrooms into the building code: An Act establishing gender neutral bathrooms. That's a step forward. It would be really really awesome if it passes.
chhotii: (Default)
Nope, still haven't moved.
Read more... )
chhotii: (potato)
A very successful Arisia!
chhotii: (Default)
Planning to move just over a week after Arisia is not ideal timing. At this point I have two weekends to pack. This weekend is Arisia so it doesn't count. Therefore, I had resolved that before going to Arisia, I would have all non-essentials packed. I can't pack everything too far ahead of time. We have an ongoing need to eat, sleep, shower, wear clothes, deal with financial paperwork, etc., so I can't pack most of the dishes, kitchen gear, food, kitchen appliances, bedding, bathroom products, clothing, and files. But I should be able to pack books, games, toys, decorative items, art, projects, and a surprising amount of random clutter. Most of this is packed. But the tapestry and some art are still on the walls, I haven't taken apart the huge shelving unit or Vic's bedframe, and there's still some unprocessed clutter lurking in the corners. (It breeds like feral cats, I swear.) And, oh hey, look at that, I have to work and Arisia starts today.

With all this going on it was perhaps a bad year to decide to get back into Arisia volunteering (and to try to turn Vic on to con volunteering.) Yesterday we tried to volunteer. We went to the BPP with the intent of being helpful. But Vic has been really stressed and dealt poorly with chaos that was Arisia set-up last night. Rather than "hey willing hands, do this task" it was "well, before this can happen, that has to happen... and that's not happening because the elevator at storage died... so we are standing around trying to figure out what to do?" Rickland tried to recruit us to go to storage and join the bucket brigade but we were just not having it. We were just done. If I had known, if we had gotten in our car and gone straight to storage, we could've helped out there. But I didn't want to drag a frazzled teenager to Somerville and have them fall apart (again) there and then be dependent on Rickland's transportation logistics to leave. I thought, I could just go home and take apart my bookshelf instead.

Fortunately, according to Twitter, Arisia got all the stuff it needs for this year's con out of storage by 19:55 last night, without us.

I have cleaned off my bookshelf but I haven't taken it apart yet. I am going to let Vic skip school today and help me take apart furniture. Their attendance has been nearly perfect so far this year so they've earned a day off. It's too much for Vic to deal with the ongoing chaos of packing and moving AND Arisia AND school today. This means that I miss work today but work does not need me.


Jan. 16th, 2019 01:02 pm
chhotii: (Default)
I spoke with a helpful guy who knows something about antiques and got the low-down on the china cabinet. Basically this kind of thing is really really out of fashion; and there are zillions of people down-sizing out of big houses who are trying to get rid of stuff like this. So the market for stuff like this is glutted. He said that it's hard to even give this stuff away these days. So, I massively reduced the price of the china cabinet on Craigslist, but I'm holding out no hope for that to lead anywhere. I e-mailed the pictures to the guy who's in touch with the antiques market, and he will ask around, but I'm holding out no hope for that to work out, either. I told my broker to ask my buyers whether they would buy the china cabinet for $40, but I'm not very optimistic about that. If they want it for $40, excellent, I will just let it go, but they are likely to have their own ideas about furniture. But, then again, the realtor thinks this will be a second home for them, so maybe they need to buy a whole new set of furniture. So, maybe.

But, it will fit in the library of the new apartment! The space doesn't look big enough but that's what the measuring tape claims. I couldn't believe it, I measured twice. So, default course of action, have the movers move the thing, if nothing else pans out.

Also, to my astonishment, it looks like the Metro shelving unit with the more square-ish footprint will fit into my storage space. I was going to try to sell all the Metro shelving, but now I don't need to. I'm still willing to sell the longer Metro shelving (the one I'm using for hanging clothes) but it's not a high priority.

The seller of the new apartment wants to sell me the kitchen table. But she is under the illusion that it's worth a lot of money because she paid a lot of money for it new. I like the table OK (it's just a kitchen table) and I appreciate the lack of hassle of having it just stay in place, but I can't justify spending much more than I would spend at Ikea for a table. So, we'll see where that goes.

I visited the new apartment today-- It looked smaller than my mental image of it. But all the measurements I took with the tape measure were bigger than my mental images of the furniture I'm trying to fit into it.

Cute, but functional!
chhotii: (Default)
First of n (possibly), on Craigslist: I am trying to get rid of the corner china cabinet before moving. Yeah... It won't really work in the new apartment, with all the knee walls; and Vic strenuously objects to the fact that it doesn't go with all the modern-looking Scandinavian style furniture we have. Shh, I'll let you in on a secret: I'll let it go for a whole lot less than $400. If a friend shows up with a van, they could take it for... remarkably little money for a solid wood china cabinet with curved glass cabinet doors.
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