A fly in the ointment

Since we counter-offered on our house, the buyers changed from just requesting a survey to sending out a series of inspectors. This is obviously an attempt to find something seriously wrong with it so that they can lower the price. As far as we know, there is nothing seriously wrong with it, but because we didn’t fix anything, there are lots of small things wrong with it. But it keeps me on tinterhooks and makes it harder to plan our move and my retirement.

The devil dog himself

To make things worse, my husband has absolutely refused to crate our dog when people want to come over to the house. He used to be crate-trained when we both worked, but shortly after my husband retired, he decided the dog didn’t need his crate anymore, and took it down. Since my husband is home almost all the time, the dog has gotten to be very neurotic and can barely stand for my husband to be out of his sight. This has gotten so bad that the dog was booted out of the kennel where he has stayed on and off since he was a puppy and now the vet won’t take him either. This was a source of serious stress for me after my husband hurt himself, as I wanted to check the dog into the vet for a week so that I would have one less thing to think about. Instead, I had to go right back and pick him up.

What do we do when people come over? Shut him in the bedroom or keep him on a leash. He is a volatile dog at best.

When the realtor asked if another set of inspectors could come over today and not have my husband there, it was difficult to schedule because my husband has appointments almost every day this week with doctors or physical therapists. The idea of crating the dog came up, and he got very angry. I really don’t understand this, but he seems to think that people wanting to get into the house in a normal way during the selling of it are somehow inflicting themselves on us. How he would have handled people coming to view the house, I don’t know. I’m guessing, not.

Yes, our dog needs training. I have suggested this to my husband many, many times.



Great news

Goodbye soon to our beautiful view of the creek.
Goodbye soon to our beautiful view of the creek.

We have sold our house. Of course, it’s early days yet, so things could still go wrong, but on Tuesday we got an offer and we counter-offered, and on Saturday we agreed on a price. Our neighbor is buying the house, cash, and so we can go ahead and start putting our plans in place. We can now set my retirement date.

Of course, my knee injury has slowed down our packing impetus, because my husband doesn’t seem to do any work unless I do it, too, and most of the last week I spent with my feet up and an ice pack on my knee. So, now we have to get to work, whether I’m up to it or not.

As a bonus, we also got an offer on our Fort Davis property on the very same day. This property could have been on the market for years, but we have already settled on a price. Looks like we’ll be moving within five weeks!

A setback

Best laid plans of mice! I had a great idea to do a big push towards opening our house for sale the day after Labor Day. To that end, I asked for a couple of days off work, and I sat down with my husband and we made a list of all we had to do to get ready. Then we prioritized the list into 1’s through 5’s, so that we could work on anything in the 1’s, say, until they were finished and then go to the 2’s. Of course, the first thing my husband did was pull out a bunch of stuff that wasn’t even on the list. But I kept my mouth shut and finished two of the (admittedly easy) 1’s.

This is a picture of my poor knee, twice as large as usual.
This is a picture of my poor knee, twice as large as usual.

That was on Saturday. We stopped working around 4 and took a trip to Costco. When we got back, I took some sheets out of the dryer and started with them over to the bedroom to fold them. That was my fatal error. I forgot I had put a box just at the turn from the kitchen into the living room that was waiting for my husband to move to the pod. I took a header over the box, literally flew through the air, and landed on my knee. When I turned and looked back, the box was at least 10 feet behind me.

So much for my plans. I have done nothing but sit around with my foot up and go to doctor’s appointments. I don’t think anything is broken, but I can’t really do much work until the swelling goes down. And for a different reason, I am not allowed to take NSAIDS, which means that all I am using are topical treatments, ice, heat, Aspercream. Sigh.

On the good news side, we have already gotten an offer on the house. On the bad news side, it’s way too low. We are countering today.

Back into the closet

Well, maybe you guessed it from this heading. If you’re following my blog, you’ll know that I (sometimes we) spent the entire weekend cleaning out the bedroom closet. Today we had cleaners over, because we’re getting ready to show the house early to our neighbor’s realtor, since our neighbor wants to buy our house (but so far hasn’t offered us anything for it). I got home expecting to see a sparkling, neat house, as my husband had called me several times during the day to ask me about the disposition of some items.

All this shelf had on it last time I looked was a package of toilet paper and my flute.
All this shelf had on it last time I looked was a package of toilet paper and my flute. Which also means, I don’t know where my flute is.

The girls weren’t finished. Yes, our house was so dirty, despite being professionally cleaned two weeks ago (by a different company) that the girls spent five hours at our house yesterday and still weren’t done. That was embarrassing but understandable, because since we started clearing the house out, I have stopped trying to clean, too.

But later I went into our closet and maybe you can guess what I saw. Yes, indeed, the closet that I spent two days cleaning out was full of boxes. He did it again.

This shelf didn't have anything on it at all.
This shelf didn’t have anything on it at all.

I tried to keep my mouth shut, but finally I pointed out that I had repeatedly asked him not to fill up places that we had already cleared out, because the end effect was that we weren’t making any progress, and even if we were, we would feel like we weren’t. We ended up having a big fight (unusual for us), during which he accused me of saying the same things all the time and I told him that was because I thought if I said them enough times, he might listen. (That sounds horrible, I know, but he also has a memory problem, so it’s hard to know when I have to repeat myself.) Then he pretty much admitted to me that if I asked him to do something, he was not going to do it. (I had already suspected this was going on.) Since he also refuses most of the time to have a calm talk about what our next steps should be and he isn’t going to do what I ask him to do, I have to admit to being totally stymied. Do I just let him work at whatever, even though it may not make sense at the time and may create more mess? (For example, right now I am working on removing clutter, but he has decided to start removing furniture from the house, sometimes creating more clutter.) He has taken months to motivate to work at all, so I feel like if I say nothing, he will just relapse into inactivity.

Tonight I will ask him how he wants to proceed. I have tried this tactic before, and I can pretty much guarantee that he won’t have an answer for me, but at least I’m still trying.

Out of the closet

This weekend’s project was to clear out our bedroom closet. The state this closet was in was as much my fault as my husband’s. We have far too many things in it. But it also got out of hand because of my husband’s propensity for organization run amock. We don’t have any linen closets, so when I was single, I had my sheets up on the top closet shelf and the toilet paper in the bathroom cabinet. But after my husband was in the house for a while, the bathroom cabinets got out of control, and my husband installed shoe racks on the closet shelves. One of these, on the left side, was handy because it had shoes in it. But the one on the right side just made it impossible to put the sheets up there or anything else.

The top closet shelf became the repository for things like toilet paper and tissue, which my husband buys in bulk (buying in bulk being one of our problems). Then Wayne put the rack of shelves at the back of the closet, and they became stuffed with sheets and towels. Eventually, we ran out of room to put anything else in the closet, so there started to be so many things on the floor that I kept tripping every time I went in.

I know this doesn't look that neat, but you should have seen it before.
I know this doesn’t look that neat, but you should have seen it before.

So, I started out on Saturday by removing everything from the top shelves and the floor of the closet. It took most of the day to go through that and pack things, put them in a bag for Goodwill, or throw them out. Later in the day, I packed most of our towels and sheets, only leaving a few sets of sheets and towels to use while we sell the house.

On Sunday, I started on the clothes. I thought this would be easy, but it took two hours just to go through my husband’s clothes. Most of the time, he wasn’t helping me, but when he finally came in and started helping, it was a mixed blessing. We were able to go faster, but he didn’t throw away as many of his torn jeans as I would have. It has always been his custom to keep any jeans that fit him as “knock-around” jeans, even if they’re full of holes. This is a nice concept, but when he is doing something really dirty, he just wears whatever jeans he already has on. He never remembers to put on his “knock-around” jeans. Fortuitiously, I was able to toss out a whole shelf full of jeans before he came into the room. He probably had 20 pairs of “knock-around” jeans and about as many pairs that didn’t fit him anymore.

My back had been bothering me from lugging around heavy boxes, so I didn’t get too far into my clothes. Finally, I decided to quickly go through my clothes to sort out the ones for Goodwill and come back and pack a lot of them later. I am pretty good at keeping my clothes culled, so that part went quickly. We are trying to pack most of our clothes and only keep enough to get us through until we sell the house. I have to keep out more because of work, though.

That’s what we did, and we ended up with six large contractor bags full of clothes to give to Goodwill and two bags full of garbage. We also packed three large boxes of linens and clothing and I suppose will have part of another one when I get done packing my clothes. I wanted the clothes on the racks to look pretty sparse, but we’re not there yet.

I admit to being guilty to my own act of hoarding. Even though it doesn’t quite fit me anymore, I couldn’t bring myself to donate an iridescent blue/green three-piece suit trimmed with black and sequins. It is beautiful and just my slightly odd style. Aside from having to lose a few pounds to wear it, I will seldom have an opportunity to wear a dressy suit ever again. Still.

Later that afternoon, we took the car out and made another trip to Goodwill and another trip to our library bookstore to give donations. When we got back, I took a nap.

What led up to this

I have been trying to motivate my husband to start cleaning out his stuff since January (except that in almost 20 years of marriage, I’ve never figured out how to motivate my husband). My original schedule was to finish the clean-up by April with the assumption that we would be hiring a contractor to fix up the house, at least to repair the things that were obviously in bad shape, and we wouldn’t know how long we would have to wait for one or how long the work would take. But May came and little work had been done except some sorting I did myself on the weekends. My husband is retired, but I am still working 40 hours a week. I pretty much felt like a purple googly eyed squid.

This is me, only I don't have tentacles.
This is me, only I don’t have tentacles.

Then my husband went outside one evening to feed the raccoons (yes, that was what he went to do) and fell down. He tore the tendon right off his kneecap and was basically disabled for two or three months. He wasn’t in pain most of the time after the initial injury, but after his surgery he was the world’s worst patient. (Why don’t them call them “impatients”?) I had to do both of our chores and take care of his dog, who is large and unruly, plus respond to my husband’s almost constant requests. During the first month, I never once stated an intention of doing something (nothing fun, mind you) that he didn’t tell me to do something else. “I’m going to do the dishes now.” “First, give the dog some water.”

In situations like this, you feel bad, partly because you think you’re making it all about yourself, but at times, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. I figured I couldn’t even think about getting ready to move, and for a month I tried not to.

But of course I want to move so badly!

I finally had to convince myself to think about only one thing at a time. That’s pretty much impossible, but I tried.

I have a good friend whom I’ve known for about 30 years, and when he heard what had happened, he came out for five days in June from Denver just to help me get the upstairs of the house cleared out. He brought most of the things downstairs and I sorted through boxes and broke them down for recycling and put them in trash bags or set them aside for donating or repacked them. My husband was mobile by then, and he helped a bit, but my friend remarked to me “It’s almost like he doesn’t want to move.” I know my husband can’t wait to leave Austin, but I clarified that point with him and he said he wanted to live in Washington but he didn’t want to move. Sigh. Does he think I don’t feel the same way?

While my friend was here, he and I made two trips to the recycling center, two trips to Goodwill, and two trips to Half Price Books to sell books.

We got one entire room cleared out, but when my friend started on the other one, my husband stopped him. He said, “I can do that in a week.” By then he was walking, but he certainly wasn’t up to traipsing up and down the stairs all day. And anyway . . . Well, note that it was another month after my friend left before I hired THE GUYS to come do that work that my husband said he could do in a week. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve realized finally that my husband just can’t cope with this.

But thank goodness for my friend! I will be forever grateful to him. Still feeling those little flutters sometimes at night, but everything is a lot better. And that about gets us up to date with the first entry on this blog.


Adventures in storage

What a fun weekend we just had! (Sarcasm intended.) Our realtor came out last week and looked at the house, and he told us that we should not put any money into fixing it up or even staging it, because it will probably be a tear-down. This was sad news, since our house was once beautiful, but not surprising. It’s not that there is anything wrong with our house besides needing some minor repair work and upgrades, but in our neighborhood that’s what happens with all but the newest homes.

We had worked like dogs just to get the house semi-presentable, although it is still full of clutter and the closets were stuffed with things my husband thought shouldn’t go into the shipping container because of the heat. The realtor advised us first to clear out the closets so that people can see what size they are. So, during the week I went online and found a climate-controlled storage facility and a truck to rent.

This in itself was a bit of an adventure. Both the truck and the storage facility sent me messages explaining that my reservations weren’t confirmed until I spoke to the local manager. The storage facility manager was supposed to call me within 24 hours, and she didn’t (I thought). The truck company sent my husband an email asking me to call, and he didn’t tell me about it. So, I didn’t know about it until I got home from work, at which time their office was closed.

The truck was easy to sort out, but the next day I called the storage facility five times! The first time, I got a person, and she told me the computer system was down, but she would call another facility and have them check my reservation, and then she would call me back. She never did. It wasn’t until I had left three messages that I realized I had typed my phone number one digit off on the electronic form, although I had left the correct number with the person I talked to. Finally, after work, my husband and I just went over there. I still don’t know if they never called back or if they called back the wrong number, but the computer was still down when I went in. The manager told me she had confirmed my reservation the same day I made it, but of course to the wrong number.

Then she explained that her voice mail goes directly to her computer, so if she doesn’t get the phone, with the computer down, she doesn’t get the message. While I was there, she ignored the phone several times. (Side point: I get that not answering the phone while dealing with a customer is normally good etiquette, but when you know that the phone customer’s messages aren’t going to be conveyed to you?) Anyway, we finally got all checked in to the storage facility, I thought, and got our code for the gate. Big caution from the manager: don’t be in here later than 10PM or you’ll get locked in. (This is important later.)

So, Saturday morning I go up to start pulling things out of the closet and find that the two rooms we spent so much time cleaning out are all full of junk again! I kid you not! And this is not the first time it has happened! This time, my husband had been helpfully pulling things out of the closet already, but seeing it like this had such a devastating effect on my energy that I was appalled. I would have been fine just pulling things out of the closet a few at a time and taking them down to the truck, but seeing that room messed up for the third time just felt horrible. (The second time was when I went up the night before we were supposed to shampoo the carpet.) I have explained to him the psychological benefit of knowing you have made some progress. “We cleaned out this room so we don’t have to do it again! Yay!” I don’t think he gets it. (I have also explained to him that moving things around isn’t cleaning. He has piles of boxes behind the screen in the living room right now. They have been there for three weeks. With him, things are truly out of sight, out of mind.)

Well, we are two old people. I am 64 and my husband is five years older. You can imagine how much fun we had taking a bunch of boxes down a flight of stairs. It took us all day, although we took a long break in the middle. This was work that those guys I hired could have done in a couple of hours. To make matters worse, it hadn’t rained all summer, as is frequently the case in Austin, but it was raining that morning when we first started taking boxes out and it rained all evening while we were unloading.

Finally, we got smart enough just to take everything downstairs, and once we had it all down, it only took another hour to put the rest in the truck. We stopped to give our animals dinner, and we got to the storage facility at about 7 PM in the pouring rain.

Our code didn’t work.

We didn’t have our cell phones with us. The office was, of course, closed.

Our truck was due back at 9:30 AM, and the storage facility office didn’t open until 11.

We had to go all the way back home and call the main number. They gave us a temporary code, but it took them about 20 minutes to do it. By the time we got back, it was 8 PM. We had two hours to unload the truck and get out of there. It was still raining.

Well, the good news is that it only took us a little over an hour to unpack the truck, so we didn’t spend the night in the storage facility (with the woman I saw that, I swear, did). The storage facility had these big carts that we could load up, which made the job a lot easier (as did the elevators).

The result of my husband's driving
The result of my husband’s driving

Then we went to leave. On the way in, my husband was unable to get the truck close enough to the keypad to put in the code himself. I had to get out of the truck, walk around it, and put the code in, and then run through the gate. On the way out, he got close enough, but when we were going to leave, he put his foot down on the accelerator hard, and BAM! We ran into one of the big yellow posts that protect the keypad. While we were sitting there being discombobulated, the gate started to come down, and my husband had to gun it to get through! (Well, actually, it started back up when we were under it, but how did we know that was going to happen?) These were just two of the terrifying driving events of the evening.

And that is the story of our weekend adventures!