Future sidewalk update…

We got another update last night, about the sidewalk that the city needs to put in going through our front yard.

In the original plans, the sidewalk was supposed to be installed directly adjacent to the curb, but they can’t do that.  It would cover buried utility lines (gas, water) which also run along the street.  So, they are going to have to move it about 5-7 feet farther into our yard.  We also found out why they had to cut the tree in the dead of winter – to avoid disturbing bat habitat – no, really.  This is significant because it may possibly cause the building of the sidewalk to be delayed another year – due to conflict with ANOTHER tree in our yard that didn’t need to come down for the original plans.  Fortunately, the tree they did cut down would have needed to come out either way, so that wasn’t a loss.

Anyhow, progress is happening.  The city worker who will supervise the install is going to look into the new tree issue – and as a bonus will also help me look into the history of our huge south lot and why I can’t get any trees to grow down the middle of it.  We suspect an old house was improperly demolished there.  Oh, and the city is going to plant at least one new tree in our front yard to replace what we’ve lost – no fighting over that.  They’re being very nice about it all.

Basic Random Updates. . .

I realized that I have a few incomplete notices I’ve tossed out and then left you hanging over, so I thought I’d close the ones I can.

1.  The cheese slicer I ordered last Friday – arrived Monday morning.  Since I payed only standard shipping, that has to be something close to a world record.  Naturally, I left excellent feedback for the seller.

2.  It took so long for the window company to install the window we ordered last October that we now have almost all the money we need in savings to cover the NEXT window we order.  Hopefully it won’t take so long this time.  We’re still scratching our heads over whether or not to wait until we can get 2 windows at the same time.

3.  We’ve almost got everything we need to get our income tax filing taken care of.  As usual, we anticipate a refund, hopefully enough to cover getting our porch tuckpoint work done, and the columns rebuilt.  This will be the single biggest house project we’ve done all at one time, but since it is the porch, there doesn’t seem to be any alternative.

Replacement window update . . .

Probably the last time I posted about our replacement windows was in October, when we placed the order for the second window.  I thought that, especially in light of the fact we still don’t have it (the first one only took about 6-8 weeks from order to installed) I should give you an update.

Just a couple of weeks after we placed the order, we got a call from the nearest local office (it is in another state, but only about 30-40 miles away).  The guy who took our order had quit, and all his records were a mess.  They acknowledged we had a valid contract, but asked that we understand there would be a delay in delivery of our new window.

At the beginning of December, I got another call.  This one was from the regional office that oversaw the local store.  They also acknowledged that we have a valid contract, but wanted to let us know that the delay would be extended because – the entire staff of the store we’d been working with had been fired.  The local store was being temporarily run by staff from the regional office while other people were being hired and trained to replace them.

Wednesday afternoon I got another call.  This one came from the National HQ of the company.  They still acknowledge that we have a valid contract – but wanted to inform us that the Independent Franchise owner (who ran the regional office I’d spoken to before) had fired ALL of his staff and quit the business.  At this point, the only thing certain is that they do still intend to manufacture, deliver, and install our window we’ve already ordered.  Beyond that, nothing is guaranteed, and they have no idea when we’ll get that one.

It sounds to me like this business is imploding.  The scene from TITANIC when the water is rising, and the people from lower levels are running down the hallway as the ship tilts, with the rats running ahead of them, certainly comes to mind.

Alternative housing just got real . . .

As more and more people get concerned about the cost of housing, or the cost to the environment of making/maintaining housing, some people have honestly started to think smaller is better.

Here is an example of how you can pack a lot of luxury into a small space –


Personally, though, I’d rather go underground.  If your home has at least 10 feet of earth on all sides, you’re going to have the lowest carbon footprint measurable, and if it is all electric and powered with solar/wind, you’ll generate more electricity than you need.  Seriously.  Pour it back into the grid, and you’ll make money off of living that way.

Rites of passage . . .

Here in the US, we like to mark certain events as “expected transitions” that mark changes in the progress of our lives.

Learning to walk

Starting School

First Kiss


HS Graduation

College Graduation (if it applies)

First “Real” Job

First NEW Car


Well, between us, my wife and I have all of those covered, and then some.  And as of today, we’re adding one more:  Refinance the Home Loan.

It’s an interesting story.  It started off with us getting a good, but not stellar, loan approval from a small office that looked exactly like the small business we wanted to support.  Then, at closing, they slid in another piece of paperwork for us to sign, stating that we agreed they would have a right to sell our loan to someone else.  We were assured that it was just a legal formality, and they would likely not use it.  Before the first payment was due, we got a letter stating that the loan had been sold to Bank of America.

We cussed, groused, and fumed, but we made all of our payments on time for over 3.5 years.  No, we didn’t suddenly miss a payment.  Instead, we got a letter saying that BofA had sold our loan to PennyMac.  Then, PennyMac said that our escrow didn’t cover some sort of annual title fee, and if we didn’t cough up the amount in full our monthly payments were going to go up.  We paid it – and then our monthly payments went up anyhow.  So, I called in to complain, and the lady on the phone quickly said that I was right, and everything was being corrected.  Just as we were about to hang up, she said, “Oh, is this accurate?  Is this a VA loan?”  Well, yes, I am a veteran.

She asked if I’d be willing to talk to one of their loan agents who specialized in VA loans, because there was a chance that a re-finance would reduce our payments.  Sure, I’ll talk to him – but I thought to myself that I’m not holding my breath, because we’ve been sinking most of our disposable cash into house updates, and aren’t really in a position to pay closing costs on another loan.

When he got on the line, he was very polite, even friendly.  And by the time I was done talking to him, he was suggesting that if we refinanced with a new program specifically for disabled veterans, there would be no closing costs, no out-of-pocket expenses on our part at all, and they might be able to shave half a percent off our interest rate.

We jumped.  On Thursday I got a call that the application had been approved, the interest rate went down 0.52%, and the Notary is coming to our house today to sign the final paperwork.  Oh, the joys of home ownership!