My Mother-in-Law


 Ha!  I knew that would get your attention!  This post isn’t about my Mom-in-Law, what kind of a blog do you think this is?

Its about shopping…but keep reading anyway, k?

I hate shopping  >sigh<

My mom-in-law, Jan, is a whiz at sewing.  She has a mag (and expensive) big-time Serger machine and loves to do quilts and special embroidery.  The machine is pretty amazing and she’s pretty amazing with it.

Jan wants to put Rick’s company logo on a shirt for his birthday, which is right around the corner.  It’s a lovely idea and, although she gave me plenty of warning, I haven’t found the time to go buy the shirts.  Maybe I haven’t ‘found’ the time because I hate shopping, didn’t I mention that?

There’s a VanHeusen outlet store right down the freeway at The Great Mall.  And that’s one reason why I haven’t gone shopping – that place is huge!  It takes planning with a travel agent to make your way around it.

Anytime I shop I have done 1 of 2 things:  I’ve decided to go on the spur-of-the-moment OR I’ve given myself a pep talk for days ahead of time.  I’ll wake up in the morning “ok, tonight would be a good time to go get those shirts” and all day long I’ll dread the evening chore and put it off.

I’ll wake up the next morning and say “ok, tomorrow would be a good time to go get those shirts” and all day I’ll think to myself “ok, tomorrow WOULD be a good time to go get those shirts”.  Then I’ll wake up the following day and say “oh, pooh, I have to go get those shirts”…so I won’t go get the shirts.

Now, if I happened to be driving by the Great Mall with nothing on my mind and notice that I’m actually driving by the Great Mall, I might say to myself “hey, I can go get those shirts right now!”  But, I don’t often drive by the Great Mall so the odds of that happening are slim.  And, truth be told, I have never-want-to-leave-my-house syndrome, so I’m perfectly happy never leaving my house.  Especially now that the weather is nice and I have lovely patio furniture under a tarp – I know its a parking lot but the garden is gorgeous – and I’ve learned to ‘turn off’ the airplanes and LiteRail and police sirens that are the serenade of downtown living.

But, I digress…

Finally, after a few reminder emails and a call from Jan, I got the BRILLIANT idea of buying it online and having it shipped to her!  I am so smart!  I have been to that store enough times to know exactly what Rick wants – so I bought 2 of them!

Such a relief not to have to go shopping…at least for the shirts.  We’re out of coffee and running low on TP 😉


Missing the ‘automatic’ in automatic sprinklers…

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Our automatic sprinklers were put in about 11 years ago.  After a few years we noticed that the system was cycling twice on the ‘on’ days.  We set and reset and reset the darn controller and experimented with various settings to no avail.

So we turned it off.

Now we manually turn on the valves and usually forget to do it, resulting in droopy, brownish plants – matching my thumb.

Up to now, I’ve been watering the back “yard” by hand.  I put the word in quotes because its mostly parking lot, since we live above our office.  But we have a 3’ strip all the way around it with roses and palm trees and roses and jasmine and roses and day lilies and roses.  I enjoy watering by hand, for the most part.  It’s nice being outside and the roses are gorgeous (except in February after they’ve been pruned to within an inch of their lives).

But I had a lot to do last Sunday and I’d been outdoors all day Saturday at a yard sale fundraiser and was feeling a little withered, so I turned on a valve and set the timer for 30 minutes – hey, it was in the 90s the day before so the plants needed extra refreshment.

The valves are set in a plastic porch-bench-storage thing we put there to protect them from people knocking into them.  We couldn’t figure out why the valves kept getting broken, turned out the waste collection guy was pulling the bins over them in the early morning darkness…

30 minutes later I turn off that valve and turn on another one and it frickin’ pops off in my hand!

Cr*p, did I break it?  Cr*pcr*pcr*p (although a different word might have slipped out at the time).

I cover the spray of water with my hand and look at the valve.  Thank heaven, I just unscrewed it too far, unscrewed it right off.

Trying to screw that darn thing back on proved absolutely impossible!  Picture me squatting next to the valves (actually, don’t), head drenched, holding the water and wires out of the way and trying to screw the head back on.  No, No, NO!  Total frustration!  Who designed these stupid things!!!

I have no idea how to get the water to turn off so I stomp away from the blankety-blank valves and try to think.  Yikes, the water spout is about 20 feet high!  I stomp back to the valves and slam the plastic bench cover down over it.  There!  That’ll teach it.

Not quite like this...but close!

Not quite like this…but close!

Phooey, I can’t leave it like that and I’ve very peeved that I can’t do this by myself.  I hate having to call for help.

However, no other inspiration comes to me so I call Rick (who is working on his sailboat up in a drydock in Napa ( …how do I shut off the blasted water so I can screw the valve head back on?  Oh, that’s right, there’s a shut-off valve hose bib at the front of the house.

 Now you can picture me kneeling in front of the hose bib, trying to push/pull the lever that hasn’t been touched in years!  I am determined that I can do this BY MYSELF!  I’ve turned into a 3 year-old.

I’m probably more careful than I need to be with the water valve but I really, really DON’T want to break off the pipe but it seems pretty flimsy as it rattles back and forth.

Success!  >whew<  Water is off and I head back to the sprinkler valve.  And, my, how easy that turned out to be.  Screwing on the valve handle is a no-brainer when you don’t have a hundred pounds of water pressure fighting you!

We really need to get a new controller and have some repair work done on the system.  The drip-line?  The drippy tips flipped off years ago and some of the little hoses flew off.  The drip-line hose itself has big holes in it and one of the sprinkler tops broke and the water burbles out instead of spraying.  Not only that but the sprinklers pop up out of the ground and do their thing, slowly but surely working their way off-center until they’re spraying into the street or the sidewalk.  Every few days we have to realign them!  Seriously, there has to be a better system than what we have (and there probably is but we were pretty cheap when we had it installed since we were doing the office renovation out-of-pocket and that’s probably the reason for the problems, right?)

 I guess I’ll have to call someone about fixing this.  I did talk to our mow-n-blow guy about it but sprinkler systems aren’t his specialty.  Well, in the famous and paraphrased words of Scarlett O’Hara “I’ll think about it tomorrow.”  Which is how deferred maintenance gets deferred 😉

Inspect this!

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The next step in the escrow process is getting an inspection of the house.  Even though an official home inspection isn’t required by our mortgage company AND even though Rick could do much of the inspection himself (as a Structural Engineer and Architect), we wanted fresh, unbiased eyes on the house to see what we otherwise might miss.

Our real estate agent recommended Elite Home Inspection.  Jeff’s son, Brett, is in the biz, too, and guess who gets to climb under houses and into attics?  Yep, the young’un.

The purpose of a home inspection is to look into all the nooks and crannies of a home and test all the systems.  Does the A/C actually cool the air?  Does the dishwasher come on?  Does the gas stove light up?  How are the seals on the dual-pane windows?  Evidence of a roof leak?  Are there smoke detectors where there should be smoke detectors?  And so on and so forth.

It’s a great way to find out what you’ll be in for when you get the keys to the house – or to renegotiate the purchase agreement – or to find out if you should to back out of the deal.  For this house, the only way we’d back out is if we found out the house is sliding into a sinkhole…something big that would keep the mortgage company from funding.  Most little things we can deal with ourselves, such as a sprinkler control leaking or getting rid of ivy – such an invasive little cuss!  Once Rick went to visit a potential client and they had ivy coming into their family room – INTO the house through a hole in the wall…they thought that was the cutest thing!  Ivy is destructive, people, burn it, burn it all!

In this pic the ivy has been pulled off and this is left.  It will take a knife and sandpaper to get it all off!

In this pic the ivy has been pulled off and this remains. It will take a knife and sandpaper to get it all off!

But I digress…

In some areas, and for some types of loans, things like broken windows, evidence of termites or a missing toilet would have to be fixed/mitigated/replaced prior to the loan funding.  Anything that might make a house unlivable – like a nonfunctioning bathroom, duh.

We do have to provide a pest report to the loan company, which has been scheduled for the next couple days, if I remember correctly.  At that point, we’ll find out if we have to have someone come and treat the house for termites and whether it’s a simple deal or we have to tent the house.  I say ‘we’ because we are going into this ‘As Is’ sale with a full understanding that it is ‘As Is’, not like SOME people who don’t understand what ‘As Is’ actually means!  And, yes, I’m talking to you, previous-buyer-who-acted-like-termites-never-happened-in-your-world-ever.

Those tunnels are left by the termites eating their way through the wood.

Those tunnels are left by the termites eating their way through the wood.

Those little brownish pellets look like grains of sand.  You might a little pile of them on the floor, by a tiny hole...we did (not this house, tho)

Those little brownish pellets look like grains of sand. You might a little pile of them on the floor, by a tiny hole…we did (not this house, tho)

Oh, before I forget, when/if you ever have termites mitigated at your home, make sure that the evidence of droppings or mud casings or whatever are swept away.  I have had 2 instances where the termites were dealt with via tenting and/or spraying and the detritus wasn’t removed.  Meaning, of course, that the next inspector sees it and notes ‘evidence of termites’ on his report and the cycle repeats.

Anyway, we have a ton of ivy to get rid of, tons of it all around the deck and starting up the side of the house.  It’s beautiful, isn’t it, on a college clocktower but not on a house with wood siding!  It’ll tear it up, tiny bit by tiny bit…

The Tower at San Jose Statue University.  Lovely

The Tower at San Jose Statue University. Lovely

Based on the report – which was provided a speedy 2 hours later!  – we have a leaky sprinkler control and the A/C doesn’t cool down as far as it should – and the day wasn’t even very hot.  So, we know that we’ll be repairing or replacing the HVAC system in the next year or 2 or 5.   Plus some other little things we’ll be dealing with that cause us no grief at all, like cleaning out the gutters.

I asked the people who live there now – very nice granddad, dad (and his girlfriend) and son – what items might belong to them so we’d know what we’d have to replace;  i.e. the fridge might be theirs since sometimes tenants have to provide their own.  They said only the fish in the pond and the potted plants!  Whoo-hoo!  That means the ceiling fans, the clothes washer and dryer, the refrigerator AND the hot-tub stay?!?  Awesome!

Of course, one never knows for sure until one gets the keys – maybe the actual owners will haul something away (even though all that info is supposed to be included in the purchase agreement – what is excluded from the sale, that is to say).

While the inspection is going on I go into each room and take notes about lighting, paint, carpet, linoleum, etc.  Pretty much everything needs paint, but there aren’t big holes in the walls that I can see.  The tile work in the master bath shower is lovely!  The tile in the kitchen?  Not so much.  Its beige with dark brown grout.  On white cabinets.  >sigh<  I can never get away from dark brown grout, can I.  Well, the counters aren’t not too bad as far as chips go; there are only a couple small ones that I could see.  It could be worse – this I can live with.  And the carpet merely needs cleaning, at least for now we can live with it, as well – its beige, it’ll go with whatever furniture we scrounge up.

This is NOT the carpet...but we expected to have to buy a place like this.

This is NOT the carpet…but we expected to have to buy a place like this.

As Rick and I wander around the house taking measurements and notes, we are surprised to find things in even better condition than we remembered.  The tile in the entry is great!

This is NOT the bathroom!  We feel so lucky to have found a house in such good condition!

This is NOT the bathroom! We feel so lucky to have found a house in such good condition!

I’m afraid to get excited.  And Rick?  Well, of course, he has already designed a new kitchen with more windows!  It’s what he does, poor guy, he simply can’t help redesigning things.

We won’t be redoing the kitchen anytime soon, though.  Based on the estimate our bank has given us for the cost of the sale, most all that we’ve saved will go to the down payment, so it’s a good thing we don’t have to buy a washer/dryer!  Remember when I said we’d be scrounging up furniture?  We have no furniture for this house except for a dining room table!  My mom did offer us her family room loveseat, with its green and pink plaid cushions…  Which we are happy to take, yes, we are! 😉

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