Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Has to Happen (Updated)

I wrote this post back in January. There has been a little forward progress on some of the items in this list. I'll update in bold in the text.

As I wrote a few days ago, we are moving to Mexico this coming year (The Big Reveal (What We Want)). We are hoping to be there by September, when the new school year starts. That would be great, but when I start to think seriously about all the things that need to happen before we go, I just can't see it.

1) Rowan needs to be enrolled in University. My oldest daughter, Rowan, will not be coming with us. Unless, that is, she doesn't get her ass in gear and get herself accepted to a decent program. If she doesn't get in anywhere (which will only happen if she doesn't apply, because she is a freakishly talented artist and a grade A student), then she will have to come with us because there is no way I'm leaving her here with nothing to do all day.

No material progress. Rowan, who is in the Running Start program and taking her last 2 years of high school at the community college, got a little bit behind in her schedule and has to take classes summer quarter in order to graduate on time. She had a heavy schedule winter quarter, and now she has a heavy schedule spring quarter. The poor thing worried herself into a tizzy about applying to Western on time for a fall start - she didn't have enough pieces for her portfolio. She was so stressed out it was affecting her ability to do her actual school work for the classes she was taking. So she talked to me and to a counselor, and decided to apply to Western for winter quarter instead of fall. She can do that because she's applying as a transfer student with an AA. That gives her - theoretically - until October to apply, but I told her she doesn't actually have that long because she has to be IN A PROGRAM before we leave.

2) Assuming she does get in to her first choice, which is WWU's graphic design program right here in Bellingham, then we need to convert the computer room into an apartment for her. It's mostly ready already: the previous owners converted a two car garage into a master bedroom suite with it's own entrance and bathroom. All we will need to do now is create some sort of cooking area and then Rowan will be set. That, of course, makes it sound easier than it actually is. For one thing, we need to clean out approximately two tons of crap from the walk-in closet/cum food storage area in the way-back. Alas, this isn't something I can do on my own. One example of the crap is a full set of racing tires for a Lamborghini Diablo, which my husband bought for the kit car which he is never going to build.

No material progress. Homero won't let anyone start cleaning out the closet because he has to decide what gets kept and where it should be put. I'm not optimistic.

3) Somehow make the house presentable to potential renters. This is such a sweeping generality that I haven't even the faintest idea how to go about describing the particulars. The list of jobs that absolutely must be completed before we can even hold our heads up if potential renters come to visit includes:
a) Remove and replace all the carpets in all three bedrooms. The off-white carpet that was here when we moved in has, let's say gently, outlived it's usefulness (When the Cat's Away (the Mice Will Get Some Work Done)). Not so gently, I can say it is thoroughly disgusting, no longer remotely off-white, and smells strongly of cat pee.

b) Repaint two of the three bedrooms. The master bedroom, where Homero and I reside, may not be exactly house beautiful material, but at least it isn't embarrassing. The little girl's bedroom, on the other hand, has been lavishly decorated with sharpie (Oh I wish I had photos to show you right now. None of you can possibly believe the level of sharpie desecration unless you have seen it.). Homero and I had a very intense discussion about whether or not the girls should be allowed to sharpie their walls (can you guess whether I took the "yea" or the "nay" position?) and the end result is sharpie from here to hell and gone. The other bedroom in question is Rowan's, which most closely resembles a landfill.

When the painter-guy showed up today to give me an estimate, he looked into Rowan's room and said, "so, you'll be ready in like, two weeks?" Yeah - if I go in there with a bulldozer. Otherwise, never.

All three bedrooms carpeted and painted. Now I wonder if we shouldn't have waited to do it closer to the time we will actually leave - now we're going to have to steam clean.

c) So many outdoor repairs. Probably the main one is the porch. This house enjoys a commanding view of the Canadian Cascades and takes advantage of it with a wrap-around deck that is something like 1,000 square feet. We have totally ignored any maintenance on this deck since we moved in five years ago. Given that we live in the wettest, moldiest, windiest, nastiest part of the state, the deck needs serious attention. There is also the playroom (new carpet) and the main bathroom (new vinyl flooring). There is the situation under the kitchen sink. Oh my God. Hyperventilating right now.

The porch is underway. So far it has been fully pressure washed and the railings about halfway around stained. That equals approximately 18 man hours and about 10% of the work. It's going to take all summer - a large part of that spent waiting for sunshine. Meanwhile, the chickens shit on the newly washed porch.

d) forgot the "landscaping" situation. Once upon a time there was actual landscaping: now I just have to hire a strong man, equip him with some serious weed-eating technology and ask him to chop everything down to an even four inches. It'll
be green, right?

One of the really nice things about having a teenage daughter is that they sometimes have boyfriends of the exact right age and energy level to do manual labor. P., Riwan's boyfriend, is a really good worker. He works hard, fast, and he doesn't need constant instruction. He has done a lot to make the yard more presentable. I'd say it's more than half done. Yay, P.!

4) figuring out what to do with the animals. I told Homero that I was willing to sell all of the animals except the dogs and the horses. Rosie was a rescue and she can't be re-homed due to behavioral problems. The only way to get rid of her is to send her to the auction, and I won't. And Poppy, of course, is our pride and joy, our delight and the equine apple of our eye. She's not going anywhere.

However, boarding horses is crazy expensive. Going rate around here is approximately $200/month/horse for full care board. That is just not do-able. I've been looking around and I may have struck a deal with a guy - a rich, retired, Redmond fellow - who has five acres and wants to set up a petting zoo in his old age. We talked about my giving him my small herd of (gorgeous) dairy goats and my large flock of chickens in exchange for care of the two ponies for a year.

By the way - if it works out, that is a smokin' deal. At $200/month/horse, a year's board would cost me nearly than $5,000, not even counting farrier service or any vet care they might need. On the other had, a very good price for an in-milk Nubian goat is about $300. A VERY good price. I have four of them, plus their offspring. If I count optimistically, I might be able to convince myself that the whole herd is worth something like $2,000. Therefore, it's totally obvious that the above deal is smokin', right?

My husband, when I told him about it, said "You aren't going to give him ALL the goats, are you?" Seeing as how he hadn't done any research and didn't know the relative prices of goats vs. horse care. I told him, "Yes, I am, plus all thirty laying hens. Look on Craigslist at least before you judge." He clearly thought I was making a terrible deal and he could have done much better.

Precious little progress. I think I have a home for Rosie, pony from hell, but it's going to cost me more than I had hoped. And Poppy has no home as of yet. My sister says I can choose my favorite goat and she will take it for the year, but she's not interested in a herd. I'm thinking of a creative Craigslist ad I m ight put up, along the lines of "so, you think you want to be a small farmer...?"

5) Renting out this house. After some thought, I decided it might be worth the expense to hire a property management company. There's one in town, and I stopped by to ask about their general rates and if this kind of specialty arrangement (one year lease; teenager in residence) is even something they do. I expected that a management company would charge about 15% (Don't know how that figure got in my head) and was delighted to find that they actually charge 8%. Of course, they charge separately for advertising the property, for the background check on applicants, and for any repairs needed. The fellow I spoke to (extremely nice) answered all my questions and inspired confidence. He said "Have the place ready for us to check out by May; we will tell you what we think it will rent for."

May is only four months away. Holy Crap. There's not even enough time to do half of making it presentable. I did say to the man "There are a lot of nice things about this property, but it is an old farmhouse. There's no getting around that."

Maybe I should stop focusing on things like slow drains and slippery porches, Maybe I should focus on the best freaking view on the entire county. Ok - here's my mantra. Practice this, Aimee. When he says "Your Jacuzzi tub doesn't work" you say "have you SEEN Mt. Baker?"
When he says "there's a draft around the front door" you say "They don't call it Grandview for nothing, y'know!

No movement yet. The house should be ready to show in another month, godwilling and the creek don't rise. I did one thing not on the original list - I spoke to the children's principle and explained our situation, let him know I just wasn't sure what their schooling was going to be like for next year and I wanted to make sure that when we came back they'd be able to go into the next grades. He told me to let that be the least of my worries - both my girls are well ahead of the game academically and he was sure whatever I managed to work out would suit fine.

Oh there's still so much to do.

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