Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Counrty Christmas

This was our first Christmas in our new home out in the country.
On one hand we missed out on the Warren Family Christmas Eve Party, so I missed out on the opportunity to explain to my sibs why they are wrong about everything, not that they would listen anyway.
On the other hand three of our four children and one grand kid were here for a couple of days, and a good time was had by all.
The good thing about having a captive audience is that they pretty much have to listen to you.
My daughter Rose was MIA again. No phone call. nothing no card. Oh well, it is her choice to live the life she does and there really isn't anything I can do about it.
Mrs A and I's Christmas present to each other was a telephoto zoom lens for our Nikon camera.
The other day, we were out and about and went up the road towards the mountains. When we came back down thee was a herd of about 20 elk at the power lines right around the corner from the house. We went on home and grabbed the camera and went back to take some pictures, but even at full zoom, the elk are barely visible. There have been several other picture opportunities that haven't come out because the lens on the camera didn't "zoom" enough.
So we bought ourselves a 70-300 mm zoon lens for the camera. I also bought a camera backpack and a UV filter. Now we will be better prepared when the next opportunity presents itself.
There were three bull elk contesting for leadership and breeding rights. They were magnificent animals. A real sense of presence about them. When we got back from fetching the camera, we got out of the car and Mrs A took a couple of pictures, but they can't convey the essence of the Elk. I doubt this will be the last time we see the herd, so we are prepared for next time.
I have started on next winter's wood. There was a 2' diameter maple in a clearing out by where I have my stuff set up for splitting wood, so I dropped it and started cutting it into rounds, preparatory to splitting it into firewood. That is some hard wood. I had to stop and sharpen the chainsaw twice in the short time I was out there. The second tie, I decided to call it a day. Plenty of time to cart it out of the wood and split it.
The reason the maple was cut down was a part of my long term plan.
The area where it was growing is fairly open, and I want to turn it into a meadow with wildflowers, so the first step is to fall the trees, then grub out the bushes and ferns and level it out so I can seed it with wildflowers. A lot of work but it will be worth it when it is done. No hurry.
All in all it was a very nice Christmas.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Deferred Pleasure

This last year has been one of many changes, Retirement, selling the house I had lived in for the last twenty-five years, buying a house in Sequim and moving.
All positive things, but stressful nonetheless.
Much to my dismay, I recently found out that my favorite author, Ivan Doig had moved on to the big Ranch in the sky. I have enjoyed his writing for many years, and have always happily anticipated his next release. He had a way with words that resonated in me like few other authors ever had. Not to mention that the site of most of his tales occured in Montana which was just a hop skip and jump from my own Northern Idaho. I forst discovered his writing with "English Creek" and in my mind this coming-of-age story could have almost been my story in places. Jick could have almost been me, in attitude and action.
Mr. Doig published one last book before his passing "Last bus to Wisdom". It sits on the kitchen counter waiting for me to pick it up and get started. I have been deferring my pleasure for now, because no matter how much I will enjoy his way with the English Language, it is the last.
When it is done, the trip is over.
No more.
The final fling.
Starting it means the approach of the end of a wonderful journey through his world.
I have another book I am finshing before I start this one, because I want to give t my undivided attention.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A little Strange for Thanksgiving

The tradition has always been that one year we have Thanksgiving with the Warren side of the family, the other year with whoever, usually the in-laws.
This was supposed to be the Warren family Thanksgiving, but for the first time in sixty eight years it didn't happen.
I sold my house in Skyway, and moved out in the country to Sequim. Sequim is a small town on the Olympic Peninsula. It has the lowest average rainfall of any town west of the Cascades, as it is in the "rain shadow" of the Olympic Mountains. That comes to about 16 inches of rain a year s opposed to about 54 in the Seattle area. We love it here, but it is about a four hour trip for people coming from Renton. No one expressed any desire to come all the way out here to eat turkey.
My little brother Bill sold his place in Issaquah and bought a condo along the Puyallup River , which is really not big enough to hold the whole clan, which would be about 25 people. The only other one with really enough room is my brother Larry, but it would not be fair to expect him and his lovely wife Velma to host every year. My sister Patty is holding Christmas eve at her house, so she couldn't be expected to host both Holidays.
So there was no family Thanksgiving for the whole clan. We had a quiet small gathering with Mrs A and I, our daughter Lisa, her dude Kieth, her son Kayden. It was a nice laid back day with lots of good food and visiting. But I missed all my siblings and my mom and the noise and confusion.
I guess this marks the end of one tradition, and who knows where things go from here Vinnie is in the Army and in Texas for the next year, Nathan shares custody of Elliot, so a four hour trip out here is rather difficult to work in.
I have much to be thankful for this year. I retired from Boeing after 35 years, a challenging and honorable career. Sold my home of many years and bought my 3 1/2 acres of woods with a nice manufactured home on it, and walked in debt free. Carol and I have a wonderful laid back life, where we have everything we need.
So Happy Thanksgiving everyone, hope this finds you in fine fettle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Next steps

When I retired and moved out here, I had some specific plans about my health. Less than a year go I was put on insulin for my diabetes. The reason behind this was that my creatinine levels were pretty steadily moving up (Bad), and the standard medicine for diabetes is metformin, which is a little hard on the kidneys. So I ended up on insulin as a result of a diagnosis of bad kidneys.
Then I recently had a major problem with a kidney stone the size of a grape, which was completely blocking all drainage from my left kidney. It was blasted with ultrasound and I pissed it all out. When my blood tests were done after the procedure, my cratinine level were about half what they were before. This makes sense since I now had two functioning kidneys.
This leads me to believe that my original diagnosis of stage four kidney disease is a bad diagnosis. What was happening was the stone was blocking the kidney from draining.
If I am not in stage four of kidney disease, then I probably can go back to taking metformin and get off of insulin. I suggested that to the doctor on Friday, and he said that it was probably all true. We are going to wait until I see the urologist in December to make sure of my kidney status before making changes. This has lots of implications to my diet, and medication.
For instance, I was instructed to never take NSAIDS which includes most OTC pain relievers. I have been pretty much stuck taking Percocet for my arthritis because of this. Perhaps this means I can take something else for my chronic pain.
As a result of the kidney diagnosis, they did a bunch of tests on my urine, Those test results are ll in question now. What was rue oh the blood tests is probably true oh the urine tests,  So I have retaken all the tests and I will learn the results on December 11th. So for now, I just know I am in much better shape than the doctors tried to convince me I was in.
Several time when all this stuff a year ago came down when the doc asked me how I was feeling, I told him I was doing great except for all the doctors telling me how sick I was. Little did I know how true that was.
So for now I have to be patient and see what develops. I know that the medication I am taking works, I just would prefer not to use an injectable.
So far the plan I made for coming out here is working well, just not by the path I had anticipated. By getting in better shape by working around here and controlling my diet to get off of insulin will probably happen, but better than I had anticipated.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mo Betta

I got a call from the Urologist last night.
Things are better then I had thought. Having just gone through several trips to the emergency room, a hospital stay and a week of pissing gravel, I came out this end of the journey better than I went in.
Mt creatinine is way back down. I guess it helps when BOTH kidneys are working properly.
About a year ago My doctor at the time became concerned that my creatinine was creeping steadily upward, so he sent me to the Nephrologist (kidney doctor) and after an extensive series of tests he determined that I was going into stage four kidney disease.
About that time I retired, then I had to find an interim doc. We sold the house and moved to Sequim.
It has taken some time to get established with a new doc here, and it all came to a head when I had a large stone lodge in my left kidney. It was completely blocking off the drain for my left kidney.
Doctor Benson did a CAT scan and found the stone, brought me back in to pulverize the stone and is now doing follow-up. A blood draw and test was done last Friday, and the results came in yesterday.
The results were great. My creatinine levels were WAY down. They whole stage four kidney disease diagnosis was wrong. Yes I have kidney disease as a result of my diabetes, but not severe. The upshot is that I am a long ways from dialysis or kidney transplant. When my ceatinine was up over four, I was looking at eventual kidney failure. Now that is a remote possibility rather than an inevitability.
So all the anxiety and worry I have gone through about kidney failure were caused by a misdiagnosis. I was not undergoing kidney deterioration, I had a stone the size of a grape.
I am now undergoing some tests to determine why I am forming stones. Believe me, whatever the doctor recommends to avoide another megastone, I will do it.
Yesterday was 24 hour piss test. Pee in a jug for 24 hours. Mrs A has a bit of a problem with having a jug-o-pee in the fridge. She has trouble accepting the fact that urine is sterile, so it won't hurt you. Not that I am recommending keeping a jug-o-pee in the fridge, but it is not all that ookey.
I have to drop off the jug-o-pee at the lab this morning. Feels a little strange walking around with a jug-o-pee.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Pissin' Gravel

Literally. Or the closely related topic, Pissin' blood.
Right now I am doing both.
A week ago I all of the sudden developed severe back pains on my lower left side. As A person who has passed multiple kidney stones, I was pretty sure I knew what was going on. Except this was worse and didn't move at all.
So I went in to the walk-in clinic in Sequim. Their diagnosis was kidney infection, they gave me some antibiotics and sent me home. By Saturday, I was in no better shape, so I went back to the clinic, and they referred me to the Hospital in Sequim. After giving me some anti-nausea and pain medication they sent me to radiology for a CAT scan.
I had a stone the size of a grape that was completely blocking my left kidney. They did an operation to install a stent and kept me overnight for observation.
It was not a good night. There were a couple of psychotic patients, one on either side of me. The one lady was mean as a snake, attacking everyone who came near her verbally and some times physically. The other was an older gentleman in with pneumonia, He had no idea where he was or what was going on. But he yelled pretty much all night.
I asked the doctor if I was missing something.. Did they check my into the Psych ward for a reason? She laughed and said no, that this was the normal ward, they just happened to have a couple of disturbed people in at the moment. The one had been a patient for four months. The problem is that new laws forbid them from releasing the patient until they have some place to put them. Because the Federal Government has defunded the treatment of mentally ill people, no one takes them. Since this particular patient had a history of violence towards staff, no one would take her.
On a different tack on the same subject, take a look at his from a detached perspective. I have no skin in this game, just am making an observation. First the Reagan Administration defunds treatment of the mentally ill, dumping thousands of disturbed people out into the general population. Then gun violence and mass killing by mentally ill people rise sharply. Could it be that these things are interrelated? So if you want to trace the origins of the wave of mass killings, you can thank the Republicans. Better to blame them than blame the guns, which is a cop-out, We always had guns around, and you know what? Not a single one of them jumped down off of the rack and killed someone.This country desperately needs a system for dealing with the mentally ill. The problem with this is that if we effectively screen and treat the mentally ill, where are we going to get our politicians?
At any rate, after holding me overnight they sent me home, with an appointment to come back on Wednesday when the stone breaking machine was in town. Pretty neat. They bombard the stone with high frequency sound waves and it shatters the stone into little bitty pieces. Then over the next week or so, you piss out the pulverized stone pieces. You also piss blood, because pulverizing the stone is a lot like taking multiple kidney punches.
I have not been able to do much of anything for the past week, so I am going stir crazy. I have work to do but am supposed to take it easy until the Doc gives me permission.
I hope that today I can get out and repair the chipper.

Friday, October 02, 2015

On Track

I have sadly neglected this blog for some time now. I closed my eyes for a second, and suddenly it is October.
I have been busy working around the place. There is a lot that can be done, but it is a little overwhelming even thinking of trying to bring order to 3 1/2 acres of woods. A lot of it is brush, blowdowns, broken off limbs, and pretty much unusable as it is. Clearing out the limbs and blowdowns will take a long time. For now I am clearing trails so I can navigate through the underbrush without fighting.
Eventually I see a network of trails between small meadows amongst the trees. There are a lot of very nice mature Cedar trees interspersed with Fir, Alder and an occasional Maple. I want to clear a number of small clearings and plant them with wildflowers. They have a product called "Meadow in a Can" which is a mixture of wildflower seeds. Once you clear the ground, you just sprinkle the seeds and voila' you have 20 different kinds of wildflowers. I used it on a small scale before, but can't wait to see how it does semi-wild.
There is a lot of beauty bark on the yard near the house. Looks nice and inhibits the growth of weeds. The trees I was cutting and splitting for firewood were downed Fir of pretty good size. Had a lot of thick bark. Since the had been laying on the ground for some time, the bark came off pretty easy in the process of splitting it for firewood. I set it aside.
I decided to bite the bullet and get a chipper/shredder. I purchased a Brushmaster commercial grade model, which will handle anything up to 3". Bigger than that it is firewood, smaller it is beauty bark.
I managed to break it after one week. The pulley on the flywheel split in two. I have been waiting for the replacement for three weeks. In the meantime I have been taking the hatchet and cutting the bark into three inch wide strips so I can feed it into the chipper.
One of the reasons I bought the chipper is because they don't allow much in the way of outdoor burning. There has been a burn ban on since we moved in here and the local dump does not accept yard waste. With so much debris in the woods, the logical thing is to turn it into beauty bark.
My cousin, Ginger, her husband Pat, my cousin Rick and his wife Robyn came up from Oregon for a much too short visit. Wouldn't you know it, the day they were supposed to show up, the water failed. We are on a well, and we just suddenly had no water. We had to call the plumbing service. We chose Brother's Plumbing because they had surveyed the well when we bought the place. At first they thought it was burned out points on the float of the holding tank. but when they replaced them, still no go.
They had to pull the pump, which was at the end of 170 feet of galvanized pipe. That meant the boom truck, and a helper. It was interesting watching them pull the pipe sections and get to the pump. Of course the pump was shot. The bill was just under two grand. Oh well the pump was 20 years old, and now we should be good for another 20 years.
We warned the relatives that we were in the middle of a well crisis, but they came anyway. By the time they got here the plumbers were almost through, But when they got through, what was coming out of the taps was not fit for human consumption. The water in the toilets was of course, grody, so Ginger had to take a picture and post it on the internet.
The water still has a slight chemical taste, but not too bad. My well water is still better than city water.
The weather has been spectacular. The days have been sunny with the temperatures approaching 70, cooling off at night to the high 40s, low 50s. I have been setting the fire before I go to bed, so all Carol has to do in the norning is drop a match and add a log once it gets going. Electricity is expensive and wood is free.
The fall mushroons have sterted showing up. Lisa found a Shaggy Mane on the edge of the lawn, I found a bunch of Boletus Edulis in the yard, which I dries, and when we were on a hike the other day we came across a bunch of Agaricus Arvensis. Good stuff.
Now that i have in the winter wood, and the weather is cooling off, I will havemore "inside time" so I will try to be more regular about posting on this blog.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Makin' Wood

Get yer mind out of the gutter, that is not a sexual reference.
I got a Stihl chainsaw for my birthday. We have 3 1/2 acres of mostly woods. There are a number of trees down that need to be turned into firewood. And several more that are standing but dead. The previous owner left about a cord of cut, split and stacked firewood in a wood shed.
I figured I need to cut, split and stack at least another cord to feed the wood stove.
We have a heat pump, but electricity is expensive, and the wood is free (if you don't count the cost of the chain saw).
I have cut and split a lot of wood in my life, but it had been a quite a while since I ran a chain saw. The still start and run the same as they used to.
The first log I tackled was a downed fir about 2 1/2 feet in diameter. The chain saw has an 18" bar, so it was a double cut to start and get the root ball off of the tree. Worked just like I knew what I was doing. I cut a half dozen rounds, muscled them out of the woods, split them and put them in the wood shed. No big deal.
You know what happens when you get cocky. Fate smacks you down.
I forgot to refill the chain oiler. Next this you know the saw is straining, and not making much progress. Then it started smoking.
I turned it off, and let it cool. When It had cooled off, it would not restart. I noticed that the chain needed tightening. But the chain tightener wouldn't work, and the chain wouldn't move.
So I go in the shop and start tearing it apart. By that time I had realized that I had run it out of chain oil and overheated it.
When I pulled off the side case, I saw that the clutch bell had gotten so hot it had melted the case. When I shut it off, the plastic hardened, and the clutch bell wouldn't move.
No biggie. I just took a small pick and broke loose the bell, removed it and cleaned up the case. I was putting it back together and decided to make sure it ran. I started it up, and saw a retainer fall off and bounce across the shop floor. I managed to find it, but could not find the retainer clip.
I ended up having to make a trip into Port Angeles for the part. I took the saw and parts with me just to make sure I got the right part. Good thing I did, because I had also lost a couple of extra parts.
The total bill including a chain file was $15, so not bad.
Brought it home and put it together. First thing I did was put the chain on backwards. DUH!
Reassembled everything and went out and cut a couple of rounds. After the second one, it wasn't cutting well. The chain was not sharp any longer. On the last round, I got a little too deep and hit the ground. Chain saws really, really don't like to cut dirt. No surprise there.
So the saw is in my shop with me new chain file. It will be ready to go when I get back from the Doc's tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Medical Run Around

When I retired from Boeing, they no longer provided coverage through Group Health, so I had to go find a new provider.
I am 67, so I get Medicare, and Boeing provides part D coverage through Aetna, so coverage hasn't been too much of a problem. The problem is that we were selling our house and moving, so I needed to find a temporary doctor, which I did. It was a hassle because I am a long term Percocet user. I have stage four kidney disease, so taking over the counter NSAIDS is not an option.
I have been in several rear end car accidents, and also have a sports injury in my neck, all of which combine to keep me in constant pain.
I don't have a problem abusing Percocet. I have been taking it fir about  six years, and don't use any more now than when it was originally prescribed. I use one or two a day. Usually one.
Enter the damn politicians. Because of the politicians, you cannot get a prescription for more than a month at a time. Not only that they don't allow refills. You have to get a physical piece of paper each time.
Once we got settled here in Sequim, I set about establishing a Medical Provider.
Not an easy thing. It took five weeks to get my first appointment. Since I am an insulin dependant diabetic, it is a priority that establish a Medical Provider.
I accomplished that, but the Medical provider will not prescribe opioid. I was referred to a pain clinic that is an hour away. I can't get in until next Wednesday, a week away. I have four pills left.
This is not good. I will probably go through withdrawal. I am trying to hold off using any of the remaining pills. Maybe if I take one tomorrow and one every other day I will be OK. Still not sure if I will be able to sleep at night.
I have been eating a half of a peanut butter cannabis cookie at night to help me sleep. Maybe if I up my intake...
And maybe if I stay stoned I won't go through withdrawal.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Settling In

Tomorrow we will have been here three weeks.
We have almost dug ourselves out from under the enormous pile of possessions we moved from our former home. Not quite, but close enough that we have slowed down a little.
The Jensen Healey is in the garage, and with maybe another days work, I think I will be able to ease the Z into the other slot. But who knows which day. I am in no hurry.
We took the day off today. We jumped in the truck and went down to the Dungeness Spit for a hike. It has been several weeks since we hiked. Amazing how quickly things go soft. The hike from the trail head to the tip of the spit is a litle over five miles, so that would have made it eleven miles round trip.
A little too ambitious for first time out.
So we walked about half the way out and then back.
We saw a lot of shore birds. We saw an eagle perched on a piling eating a fish, and we saw several harbor seals. It was partly cloudy, temperature in the upper 60s, so perfect for a hike.
As a reward we stopped at the Black Bear Cafe for lunch. They were all out of Pie! So I was forced to eat a generous portion of huckleberry ice cream. O the Humanity!
Several people have told me that in the fall, our area is frequented by cougar and bear coming down out of the hills, so I went in search of a gun. I had pretty much settled on a lever action 30 - 30, but not on which model. When we went into town, there was a Winchester model 94 on consignment. It was a 1981 build, before Winchester farmed out all the manufacturing to subcontractors. Book value $300 - 500. It was in near perfect condition, with one bad spot in the bluing about the size of a pin head. Marked down to $375. I bought it on the spot. I still need to get out and sight it in, something I will probably do next week.
We still have lots of exploring to do.
I have been picking wild trailing blackberries every night. I noticed a couple of runners next to the mailbox, and once I started looking for then, a few more here and there. I generally get a couple of ounces every day. By the time the season is over, I should have enough to make a nice big batch of sugar free blackberry jam.
Speaking of which, it is time to go pick berries

Monday, June 29, 2015

Home in the Woods

It has all been worth the effort and confusion and stress.
I wake up in the morning to the sounds of the birds and maybe the wind in the trees. No sirens, no cars with booming stereos. No noisy neighbors. No police. No jets.
The property is 3 1/2 acres of mostly cedar, good size trees. Pretty heavy undergrowth. All slightly uphill from the road. We are about 100 yards from the end of the pavement, and the end of the county road.
All my adult life I have worked for exactly this. No alarm clock, no timetables
Not that I have nothing to do.
First of all, there is the task of digging out from under the mountain of stuff. The house is a little smaller than the other house. 1720 sq ft vs 1760 sq ft. but on the other hand it has a two car garage and shop, so I figure it is a wash. That doesn't mean everything moves straight across. The floor plans are completely different, so things need to move around.
As of right now the sports cars are parked in the driveway because the garage is full of stuff. A lot of it just has to be organized and stowed away before I can make room for the Z and the Jensen.
It will take a couple of weeks to get organized so I can start to work on the cars. I think the easiest thing to do will be to tear the front end of the engine apart and redo the timing.
Once that is done the I can start tearing the Jensen apart. I had it stripped down to bare metal and painted a couple of years ago. Unfortunately the gut that painted it did not have a water trap on the line of his compressor, so tiny drops of water were deposited under the paint, which are now showing as rust heads. I need to strip the whole thing down to bare metal and start over.
I think I will tear it all the way down and do a nut and bolt restoration as long as I am at it.
Then there is the whole thing with three and a half acres to work on.
All in my own time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ten Days Out

Closing on our house is June 22nd.
Closing on the new house in Sequim is June 22nd.
The movers will be here on June 22nd
The car transport people will be here on June 22nd
Then there's all the other stuff. Have the electricity turned off, get the water shut off. Ger the cable TV and computer line.  shut down, Go to the Post Office and put in a change of address. Garbage service.
I don't want to be a growed up any more.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

On a December morning about two weeks before Christmas, mu Uncle Steve went to the closet and got out his 30.06 hunting rifle, say down in his chair, put the muzzle in his mouth and pulled the trigger with his toe.
He left behind an ugly mess of brains and blood on the wall behind him.
He also left behind a wife and six kids.
Uncle Steve had been shot through the jaw on d-day in Normandy. It took away a good bit of his jawbone ans some of his tongue. The managed to reconstruct his jawbone and give him dentures for his mossing teeth, but he was never a complete person afterwards.
Afterwards he was never the same. He dragged his wife and kids all over the west coast of the U.S., never settled in one place for long. More than his jawbone was shattered on that June morning.
So this is dedicated to the forgotten casuaties of war. The ones who gave their lives for their country, maybe not on the battlefield, but nonetheless because of it.
Here's to the broken men that come back from war, but never return home, who struggle with their experiences and never quite heal. To those who, in the stillness of the night contemplate the cold round circle, the blue barrel or the bottle of pills.
They died for your freedom just as surely as if they had died on the battlefield.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Once more into the breach Horatio!

We have another offer on the house.
It isn't anything spectacular, but it will meet my needs.
My goal in all this is to get enough to pay cash for the place on Johnson Creek road in Sequim,
This offer meets my criteria. Barely.
By the time I pay closing costs and pay the movers, we will have used up most of our available cash.
We will have to play it pretty cautious for the next couple of months.
The only hurdle left for us is to get through the home inspection. I know there are still some minor things to be done, but I have addressed all of the major things. The only thing of any consequence is that the stone fascia on part of the front of the house needs to be replaced. I was concerned about the cost, since I had no idea if it would cost a couple of hundred to fix, or God knows how much to replace.
I had a contractor over to give me an estimate, and he gave me a verbal estimate of $900 to replace the whole fascia. He was not sure when he could get to it, but figured around the middle of June. The only problem is that closing is June 16th.
Nothing like cutting it close.
The prior offer never felt right to me. And I couldn't stand their Agent. This time it just feels right.
Hopefully we will be moving in a month.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Three weeks later

Still a lot of activity on the house.
We actually had an offer, which we accepted. It got as far as the home inspection, when the people backed out.
The major point of contention was that there is a Zinsco circuit breaker panel in the master bedroom. Zinsco is an older design, and is no longer made. There have been reports of fires from malfunctioning panels. Bit there has never been a recall and they are not an imminent danger. I have always known it would be brought up at the time of inspection, but figured I would throw in replacing the panel as an incentive. Well, it never got as far as the negotiation. The people just walked off.
I am a little bit pissed that they wasted my time.
I am still on the hook to buy the house in Sequim, but the option runs out at the end of the month. We would hate to lose the option on the property, but it would not be the end of the world if we do.
Three showings yesterday, two today.
Hope things proceed with a sale.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

One week In

The house has been on the market for a week now.
We have had ten showings. No offers.
No negatives about the price, a few about the floor plan.
I always knew it would be a little difficult to sell this place. The floor plan is unusual, with all the bedrooms on the top floor and the only access via a spiral staircase. The washer and drier in the basement. All in all it makes for a lot of stairs. It never bothered my, but several of the people who have looked at the house were heavy enough that the stairs could be a challenge.
The general feedback was that they like the location, don't like the floor plan.
When someone wants to show the place we have been going to Shari's for a slice of pie. Not real good for my diabetic diet, but we have also been doing a quite a bit of hiking, so it balances out, more or less.
Wish someone would at least make an offer.
Oh well, it has only been a week.

Friday, April 10, 2015

On the Market

Our house is now on the market. It has taken four months and about twenty grand to get it all gussied up for the sale.
The Ad had been up for about two hours when we got our first call for a showing. And the good pictures are not on the ad yet.
I think the price location and timing are spot on, so we will see.
We also signed papers on the house in Sequim with a contingency agreement today.
When it came time to sign the Real Estate agreement, it kinda shocked us how much we have to shell out to various and sundry people. It's like everyone is standing in line with their hands out.
I am not greedy or anything. Money has never been my primary motivation. I am not out to extract every possible dollar out of the sale of my house. I want to get enough to get enough cash that we can pay cash for the new place, pay for someone to move us, buy a few new things and get settled in.
This has been a good house to raise a family in, a good location and a quiet neighborhood, but I am looking forward to the quiet of the country, with no neighbors in sight.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015


The Contractors completed the remodel on the bedroom in the basement yesterday, That left a couple of things for me to take care of.
Paint. I have a gallon of mauve paint that has been waiting around for a wall, so today I painted the walls. Tomorrow I will do the trim. I have some of this rich brown that will compliment the walls very nicely.
I need to install some window surround wood to close out the window openings. I have it cut and ready to go, but need to paint the trim before I install it. Then the only things left to do are get a carpet installed and put in the blinds.
Then the house will finally be ready to put on the market.
It has been a heck of a journey.
We have our eye on a place in Sequim. Couple of acres three bedroom two bath 1760 sq ft with a detached garage and shop. Exactly what we are looking for.
Then would come the nightmare they call moving.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

House Hunting

We have been tossing around different destinations for a quite a while, and pretty well decided on the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, Coupeville, La Conner.
So last weekend we headed out for Sequim. Neither one of us had ever spent any time in the area, so we kinda wanted to get a feel for the area and look at a few homes.
The weather was outstanding, with blue skies and mild temperatures. We had been perusing the house for sale adds, and lined up a half a dozen places to look at.
Most of them were not what we were looking for.
One was pretty much what we want, but was located WAY out on Hiway 12. The one I liked the best was located not far from town on 3,2 acres out in the woods. I loved it, but Mrs A wanted it to be more out in the open. I told her if we owned the property we could remove some of the brush and trees to open it up. It only has a two car garage, but that is twice the garage I have now, so it would do. With a little budgeting and a bunch of work I could probably get a shop put on the property. The building kit would be about ten grand, and I suppose local labor would double that.
Today there was another property showed up on the market, with an existing four car garage and shop. Looks promising.
My brother Bill just put his house up for sale, and it sold the day he listed it, so the market is pretty hot right now. If I can just get this place finished up and on the market, we may be moving soon.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Next steps

This selling your house and moving is a pain in the ass.
Admittedly I had let projects around here slide. Something about working six days a week, with the added benefit of being in my mid sixties is not conducive to anything getting accomplished around the house.
We had the real estate agent over the other day to discuss strategy.
There are a couple of very different strategies when putting your house on the market. The prevalent theory currently is that you want to empty your house out and put everything you don't immediately need into storage. This "opens up" the rooms and makes the house look bigger. It allows the prospective buyer to mentally place their furniture in the rooms without distraction. The thought is that if you have a bunch of stuff in the house, people will spend their time looking at your stuff and not your house.
The second school of thought is "Staging" your house. It is similar to the first, but leaves just enough stuff in the house to suggest how nice the house can be with the studied placement of a small amount of furniture in a tastefully created presentation.
While I agree that is is best to remove the majority of your possessions out of the house, I agree with the idea of staging the house for a couple of reasons. I think a few tastefully placed possessions add to the appeal of the house, and makes it more comfortable to live in while it is up for sale.
Mrs A on the other hand would empty the house of everything. As I told her the other day "You would empty the house of everything except one chair, and we would have to take turns sitting in it!"
Needless to say, this remark was counterproductive.
I have arranged for the moving and storage company to come and pick up the majority of our possessions and move them into storage next Tuesday. They will hold them until we have procured our new residence, when they will pick up the rest and move them to our new home. This isn't cheap, but I an getting a little old to be moving furniture.
Then comes step two of the plan.
The contractor comes in and finishes off the spare room in the basement. I have worked on this room off and on for several years. Pit in a vapor barrier and framing, with a sub floor. Insulated the walls, added wiring and lights, put up drywall and painted it. It still needs a ceiling installed and trim and some sheet rock done. Finishing the room out will add about 300 sq ft to the livable space of the house, bumping it up over 2.000 sq ft, making it 4 bedrooms instead of three with a corresponding rise in price.
The investment with be worth it, since it is so close to being done.
As soon as the contractor is finished, the house goes on the market.
We have several properties in mind in the Sequim/Port Angeles area that meet out requirements.
Maybe after this is all over I will be able to slow down and enjoy this retirement stuff.
What fun would that be.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Getting closer

I have been working my ass off getting the house ready for going on the market.
Very seldom does a day go by when I don't work on some project. The two biggest projects were the deck and rhe wiring. Both are done now. I just finished lag bolting the railing posts today.
We had a real estate agent over on Friday to get down to the business of marketing the house. We needed to take an impartial look at how much we can get for the house, with the intent of buying something in Sequim for cash, I want to walk in owning the new place outright, no mortgage. So far everything looks like it is working out.
We are going to move most of our belongings into storage, leaving just enough stuff to live with. A guy is coming over on Tuesday to give us an estimate on how much to move and store our stuff, and then deliver it to our new house.
Part of the reason for moving the stuff out, is that we have a big spare room in the basement that is currently stuffed with our packed possessions. The room is partly finished. I have built up a sub floor with the intention of installing carpet or pergo. But first we have to get the room empty. Then I can finish levelling the sub floor and laying flooring. I am getting an estimate from a contractor for putting up the ceiling. This would put the total living space of the house just over 2,000 sq ft, and push the price over the $300,000 range.
There is a pretty hot market in my area, and not a lot available, so it looks to be a pretty good sellers market.
If everything goes according to plan, we could be moving in less than a month.
I'm starting to get excited.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Deck Renovation

We are pretty well done with the deck renovation. All new structure and underpinning, but the decking handrails and balusters are the same ones that were on before.
I still need to secure the bottoms of the balusters, and there is a five foot section of handrail that needs to be replaced and the balusters attached.
When I finish up with the deck, we need to get the house ready to sell. We have been packing everything up in totes and stashing the totes in the basement. I know that the real estate agent would like us to pretty much empty the place out for showing, but I really don't want to rent storage and move everything a couple of more times.
Oh well, we'll do what we need to do.
One of these days I'll be able to devote more time to doing the things I WANT to do. So far, retirement is more work that I anticipated.
We are still looking to move to somewhere in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Sequim, Port Angeles, Port Townsend, La Conner. We have seen several things we like, but until we know what we can get for our house. Realistically I hope to get $275,000 for our place, and we have seen several places that meet our needs in the $250,000 to $260,000 range. We just hope they are still there when we are ready.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


We are going to put our house up for sale, and there are some things we need to do to help with that.
The major undertaking is the deck. 420 sq.ft. of deck. I put it in about 10 years ago, and it has deteriorated some, so I am having it rebuilt. I spent the last three days tearing the old stuff loose.
My body is telling me that I am not used to doing that much physical labor.
This retirement stuff is a lot more work than I anticipated.
If things go right, the house should go on the market in a couple of weeks.
Then the crazy begins for real.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Molly, the Road Dog

Back when Mrs A and I first got together, she wanted a little dog she could mother. Mainly because I wouldn't let her fuss over me. I have never been a fan of little dogs, but it was something she needed.
So we found a Shi Tzu that we bought.
I chose her because she had a sweet mellow personality.
Shortly after we met her, we hooked up with Morning Light, a Christian Rock band. They specialized in performing in detention facilities, primarily youth facilities. The band members and most of the crew were recovering alcoholics and drug users We really believed that they were delivering the right message to the right people at the right time. Although it meant long days of hard work, we became Road Crew for the band, and Molly became a Road Dog.
She loved going places and being around all the people and going places. She was a comfort to the incarcerated.
After being an only dog for seven years, Mrs A found another pup in need of a home, and we bought Monk, a Brussels Griffon. When we brought him home, molly retired to the upstairs bedroom and refused to come down. She would come to the head of the stairs and let us know when she needed to go out. But we had to carry her through the living room to the back porch. She would not deign to set foot on the main floor.
This went on for several weeks. Finally she would come down the stairs, jump over to the chair, then to the couch, but would not touch the floor.
Eventually she mostly got over shock of having to share her time with her brother, but she always let him know that SHE was the top dog.
She turned 12 this fall, and started slowing down. She had bad kidneys. Some times her front end and back end didn't always track properly. She moved less and less.
She had visibly weakened and turned frail. Her favorite place was curled up on a blanket by my left foot. She really did not like being held, but was content to be near.
Tuesday, she collapsed on the kitchen floor, and didn't want to move. Her spine was hunched, and she was obviously in pain.
We called the Vet and told her we were bringing Molly in to be put down. As I type this, tears are welling up in my eyes. We rook her in. I carried her while Mrs A drove. Her breathing was labored and she would occasionally whine and shudder.
So She has now gone on her final road trip.
I'm going to miss her. She was a sweet little dog who loved everyone she ever met, and provided us with many hours of joy and companionship.
Pets come into our lives, and bring us many hours of joy. The downside is they are short lived and remind us how fleeting and fragile the things we value really are.
So long to my good and faithful companion.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Spiral staircase.

The only access between the main floor and upstairs in this house is a spiral staircase. It is something that immediately catches peoples eye, a distinguishing feature.
As with about everything else in this house, it is poorly designed and constructed. The main problem in that the balusters are too far apart. Per building code, there cannot be an opening larger that 4" between balusters. There are only 2 per step. There should be 4. That being said, the slate in blank as far as how I go about filling the space.
I have spent some time looking on line and sometime wandering around Home Depot and Lowe's looking for an inspiration. Something that will look classy and do the job. So I have considered everything from wood doweling to custom hand wrought iron. Price anywhere from a couple of hundred to five hundred or more.
Time to sit down with pencil and paper and do some doodling.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Electrical Upgrade

I bit the bullet today, and called in an Electrical Contractor to bring the wiring on the house up to date. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night, going over what I knew, what I figured needed to be done.
When I got up this morning, my mind was made up to at least replace the outlets close to the sinks. As a safety precaution, the modern code demands GFCI outlets (Ground Fault Interruption Certified) near water sources. As long as the Electricians were here, I had them update all of the old two prong outlets to modern standards. The bill was just short of $1500.00. Money well spent to have the pros do the work.
For the first time since I bought this house, I feel it is good electrically. By the rime I get through the place will be so sound, I probably won't want to move.
The only other thing I am fretting about is the deck. It is mostly OK, but there are a few things that need to be addressed. The joists are on 16 inch centers, except it seems I got a couple of them too far apart. So Someone will need to slide an additional joist in between the existing joists. Also I need to secure the deck to the house with lag bolts, where it is currently just nailed. And a few other minor things.
I feel a lot better now that the electrical stuff is taken care of. We might actually get through this.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


No secret we want to move. Mt main project since leaving work has been to get the house in shape to sell. So I have done a few things. Drywall and paint. Sorting and taking stuff to the dump.
In anticipation of putting the house up for sale, we called a home inspection service, just to make sure their are no giant problems.
For the most part, it is exactly as I anticipated. No splash blocks for the down spouts, missing a couple of corner flashing pieces. New smoke/Carbon monoxide detectors. Lots of "recommendations" that are not requirements. Some of the stuff is absolute bullcrap. The circular staircase, the openings between the supports are not supposed to be further apart than 4". hey, that's the way it is made. I'll probably have to come up with something creative.
I need to hire an electrician to do some work. There are things that need to be done. The outlets in the bathrooms are not GFCI outlets. Same with the outlet by the sink in the kitchen. A quite a bit of the wiring is old, two prong outlets.They need to be updated, but I will not be stampeded into rewiring the whole house.
There are a few plumbing minor things that need to be fixed. Drain for the sink in the upstairs, drain for the tub downstairs.
Lots of stuff wrong with the deck. I will need to hire a contractor to make sure It all gets done to spec. All told I guess we are talking a couple of thousand bucks. Not bad all in all.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015


There are a couple of things I really don't like about doing drywall.
First of all, the sheets are awkward. You have to be careful moving it around because the sheets are rather fragile. I have broken more than one sheet moving them around by myself.
The good thing is it is relatively inexpensive.
Putting up drywall is not rocket science. The spackle work is annoying. Again not rocket science. Spackle, sand, repeat until flat. Every little flaw will become apparent when you put on the paint. It takes patience to get it right. The spackle has to dry between coats, Fine with me, I am not in any hurry. I should finish up and be ready for paint tomorrow.
When I get finished with the hallway, it will be back to the basement.

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Project One

We are getting the hose ready to sell, so there are a lot of little things that need to be done.
First I needed to figure out how to go about fixing something.
A good example is the hallway between the living room and the music room. The house was extensively remodeled in the 70s. The quality of the work is terrible. Halfway down the hallway there used to be a doorway, which was filled in by throwing a sheet of drywall up. You can still see the outline and dimensions of the doorway. The wall is not flat by any measure.
So as is usual with this house, I will have to undo what was done before I can fix the wall. So I spent the day tearing out the old drywall.
Since I only have a small pickup, I needed o build a rack so I could lay the new drywall down on the bed of the truck. Now I can go down to the Hardware Store and get the drywall. Then I have some drywall to do in the basement, which got interrupted because of a leaky pipe. The leak is fixed so after I get the drywall in the hallway hung, that's next.
Then I have to figure out what I'm going to do about the ceiling of the stairwell going downstairs.Just stay focused and keep marching forward.

Friday, January 02, 2015

New year

The calendar has turned another page, which means something to someone somewhere. Not around here. Just another day. Ain't retirement grand.
I no longer wake up to an alarm clock. What day of the week it is matters very little any more. Sunday is still Football, but that;s about the only relevant thing now.
I try to accomplish something every day. That isn't too difficult, as I have a lot of things going on. I have put off cleaning the basement for over twenty years, so it takes some time to get into what I need to keep, what goes to the dump. I had a reason for keeping everything down there, but I need to take a reasonable reassessment of whether I will get around to using that particular thing in the next six months while fixing up the house for sale.
Today I finished harvesting my three pot plants, separating the bud from the leaf, getting it bagged up for storage. I ended up with about three OZ of bud, maybe a half a pound of shake. Since I only use it to help me sleep, that ought to be enough to last a quite a while. First time I have raised weed from seed. The harvest was a little disappointing, but then I didn't do anything to enhance the crop. Plant it, sit it ina sunny spot, water it. It has been sampled and passed the ultimate test: my standards.
Rounded up a truckload of crap from the basement, but haven't taken it to the dump.
Talked with the retirement Specialist at Boeing today, and she was very helpful. Things are on course. I need to send them some documents, but no delays are expected.
My blod sugar is finally coming down. I was pretty upset when they put me on insulin, and it wasn't working at bringing my blood sugar down. After a week, I finally got up this morning and it was 86, right where it should be,
Need to figure out what I am going to use to cover some walls. need to do some drywall, need to do some tape and spackle, but things are proceeding according to plan.
Well, there was that one unexpected complication today. I was down looking things over to put up some dry wall when I noticed one of the drain pipes from the bathroom was leaking. No big deal, but a distraction as it needed to be taken care of before anything else. Got to be flexible.