Tear It Out Tear It ALL Out! - Letter From The Heart - March 2018
The time comes in every couple’s life when they stand glumly at the threshold of their bathroom and say, “Out. It’s all gotta come out…”. That was the case in hubby Dave’s and my life finally one day. I have to say that being a professional realtor/broker for the past 30 years, I’m really quite good at telling people what they need to do to update their homes and perfectly terrible at seeing the same thing in my own home. It came as rather a shock one day several years ago when I was brushing my teeth that I was staring down at the very same 4” white tiled countertops and shiny brass light fixtures (installed w/such pride back in 1995) that they were the exact ones that I had been recommending to clients for several years to tear out and update. Whaa??
No matter - a little updating is no big deal. After all, Dave and I built our own house, remodeled other houses, built misc shops & barns and are big do-it-yourselfers because, I admit it - neither of us really like to go on vacation or have any ‘real’ hobbies (& not just because we live on a farm w/animals to take care of. Ok, so 90% because we live on a farm with animals to take care of). So tearing out walls is kind of our thing. We can always accomplish that between chores.
In the scheme of things, it’s just a bathroom after all! Step One: figuring out what to replace everything with. Plus it’s so much easier than the old days when I had to pore over random magazine pictures to figure out what I liked. Now I had Pinterest! And Houzz! And Google! And all right at my fingertips any time of the day. Or night. Ok! So...Step One took 3 years to complete. When you can’t stop scrolling because by the time you finalize the 23rd detail, the first 3 details were no longer what you wanted after all. There was always something better. More beautiful. More just-righter! Aughh. I hate indecision so I’d just put it away for months at a time. Until my hubby reminded me that no decision really was a decision. And as a matter of fact he said, he was just fine with the old bathroom just like it was anyway. Well, that certainly spurred me to action, so I started showing him pictures all over again of different ideas which prompted pretty much the only reply I’ve ever gotten to the question, “What do you think of this?”
“Looks fine to me honey.” Huh. That seemed pretty noncommittal. Maybe I’d better just keep looking. Until the first weekend of January 2017 when I heard a horrendous crashing noise in the bathroom and came upon Dave, sledgehammer in hand, calmly dismantling the long countertop of the vanity. The doors were already off all of the cabinets. “Aackk!! What are you doing?? I’m not ready yet!”
“Well you are now,” he said.
There was no going back. I ran for boxes to empty everything into that was now spilling out of the cabinets. Kind of embarrassing really. Does anyone really need 5 pairs of tweezers (who even knew??). Is makeup still good if it’s only been expired for 6 years? Gah, 3 garbage bags later, I had it pared down to 5 (big) boxes of stuff for me and 1 (little) box for him. This is what we love about you men – such simple needs. We had the bathroom completely gutted by the end of the day. Yep, we’re pretty good at tear-out. We figured out the Timetable In Our Minds – average bathroom remodel: 2-3 weeks when hiring a professional, so we figured 6-8 weeks since we’d be doing everything including tiling & building the cabinets ourselves. We figured we’d splurge and hire out part of the rough plumbing.
Let’s see, that was January of 2017. What is it now? March of 2018? And we’re getting close, really close! One must always remember in the Timetable in Your Mind you must allow for: Birthdays, farm work, getting groceries, grandlittles (my fave!), unexpected extra good weather (who’s inside during good weather on a farm??), your real outside job, holidays (especially Christmas - that really takes time. Tip: start your project right after Christmas so you have plenty of time before the holidays roll around again. Oh...wait). I think back fondly on the first few weeks when it became obvious it might take a little longer than the Timetable In Our Minds, and our youngest daughter would come home to visit and make funny jokes like, “You guys probably won’t be back in here before Easter!” And we’d laugh and laugh…
Upside? I think Dave & I have rekindled that old competitive romantic-camaraderie. Like when we realize we both have to use the facilities at the same time and take off at a full-out sprint for the ½ bath (& only toilet on the main floor). We’ve kind of progressed to a mini-home version of the WWE at this point – less camaraderie and more all-out war but it IS exhilarating. We did have to set a few ground rules, ie: no grabbing someone by the back of the shirt & yanking them back so hard that all the buttons pop right off as the perpetrator hurdles over your fallen body just to make it there first. David.
But anyway, we’re sooo close – after all, it’s not like it’s going to be Easter before we get back into our bathroom! And I laughed and laughed…
Cows, Cats, Kids...Or Ho-Hum! - A Letter from the Heart - February 2018
Since I am a buyer’s agent one of the main components of my job is to show homes. I LOVE looking at homes, so this is one of my favorite “tasks” when working with buyers. Much of the time the homes are somewhat cookie cutter and “same old, same old”, but now and then there will be that special home, the one that makes me almost want to put my own home on the market and go for it. Actually, showings are kind of like that too…usually pretty uneventful, but sometimes…well, let me just share a few examples of the not so ho-hum showings.
There was the time I was showing acreage property to a couple and a herd, a BIG herd, of cattle which was WAAAYYY across the field when we walked through the gate started running straight for us. The couple I was with were farmers and did not seem the slightest bit concerned. I, on the other hand was sweating bullets, heart pounding. These were big cows and there were lots of them! My mind was racing…”if I take off at a sprint now, I would probably only have to beat one of these two and I would be safe” and then “no, maybe cows like to chase the runner?” and then “It would probably look kind of bad if I ran and let my buyers get trampled”. So, I finally decided to just play it “cool” and position myself in the middle of the couple as we walked the property (a little awkward, yes, but better safe than sorry!). The cows charged up snorting and slobbering but luckily did no harm, in fact they kind of left us alone once they realized we weren’t going to feed them. Crisis averted, but my heart rate stayed in fight or flight mode until we were safely on the other side of the fence again!
Then there was the time I was showing a gorgeous new construction home to a nice young family. Their little boy was cute as a bug and just full of energy. It was dark outside, so we stepped on the deck to get a peek at the back yard. All of a sudden we heard the little boy screaming at the top of his lungs. He had slipped back inside and gone straight for that tempting little blue shut off valve for the icemaker and turned it on full blast. It is incredible how much and how far water will shoot out of one of those! He was drenched and the beautiful floors and cabinets were too! We ran in and immediately got it turned off, but we had nothing to wipe up all that water. I took off my cardigan and used that, the husband took off his shirt, and the wife ran out to the “blue house” by the street and came running back in with huge wads of toilet paper. We finally got all the water sopped up, but then we had to pick up all the tiny white flecks of toilet paper that were left behind. Took forever, but it was like it never happened. Note to self, “keep a towel in the car”.
Another time I had a showing at a home we were told was empty, but when we opened one of the bedroom doors upstairs we noticed a lump on the bed, which turned out to be person. Yikes! Once I pulled up a long driveway on a country property with my clients and the soon-to-be (menacing looking) ex-husband stepped out on the porch and said there was “no way in hell he was going to let us look at his property” must have been an ugly divorce! Beep! Beep! Beep! We’re backing up!!! One of the most dreaded snafus is when a family pet (especially a cat) sneaks out. I’ve discovered that cats can’t be caught unless they want to be. Oh, and alarms, nothing like a blaring siren to put a person in panic mode! The more I write the more fun memories pop back into my head. I definitely prefer the ho-hum showings to the above, but the exciting ones are definitely more memorable!
A Realtor's Story - Taking A Ride on The Seller Side - A Letter from the Heart - January 2018
It was the summer of 2007 and in the span of four months, my wife and I both graduated from college, got married & started new jobs - and because that just wasn’t enough, we decided to buy a house too. Our first home was a 2-story, built in 1958. It was like stepping back in time in this house – “retro” we liked to call it. Orange formica countertops, yellowed pine cabinets, and black-iron stamped hinges. One upstairs bedroom even had green shag carpet - yes, we had a disco room! But the topper was the upstairs bathroom. It sported a pink toilet, pink bathtub, and baby-puke green tile. Heck, the head of the shower was about shoulder level when I stood in the tub. But we were young & eager and knew that with enough elbow grease we could make this a home!
So we moved in & couldn’t wait to get started on our first project. The bathroom was the winner - we gutted it down to the studs - #demo-day! I still remember looking at that empty shell trying to envision the end product - no vision. Luckily for me, my wife had vision and with the help of our parents (thanks mom & dad!), we came pretty close to completing that vision. Over the next 8 years, the projects never stopped: new roof, new windows, new deck, new front entry porch and back patio complete with my manly fire pit, just to name a few.
In the summer of 2015 it was a time for a change, and we decided to move from Idaho back to Oregon and I began my new career in real estate. Our house in Idaho went up on the market. We were nervous, excited, hopeful, but mostly scared out of our minds. I was pretty confident - since I now had my real estate license, I “knew” more than the average man on the street, right?? Wrong. The Idaho market was a whole different market than the one I was working here in Oregon. We waited for that first offer to roll in. The house was seeing great activity, but no offer. We were starting to get concerned and turned to our Broker for advice - she reassured us to just hang tight. Finally, after 45 days on the market we had our first offer! A couple of counter-offers later and we were under contract. The first hurdle had been crossed. We were on to the home inspection, and after two long weeks of being on pins and needles, the inspection came back with no repairs needed! That was one big sigh of relief and the excitement started to set in. Hey, this was easy!
Until it wasn’t…. it all came crashing down. We were just two weeks away from closing when everything fell apart. The buyers purchasing our home were selling their current house, but their buyers backed out two weeks before closing! That in turn led to the termination of our sale. Painful - we were so close. We went back on the market with an aggressive “Price Improvement”, commonly known as a price reduction… Bring on that buyer! Instead, Mother Nature decided to step in and devastated my hometown & the Kamiah Valley with a wildfire that destroyed 50 homes, 75 outbuildings, and over 50,000 acres of land. Except for our house. It wasn’t touched. Yay… The entire town of Kamiah and surrounding communities came to a screeching halt. With that came another aggressive “Price Improvement”. We were now into the winter months with limited activity and the town of Kamiah struggling to recover - the market was slowww. Spring came, and still no offer. With that yet another “Price Improvement”. Are you starting to see a theme? Was a foreclosure or short-sale in our future? We decided to try one more “price improvement” before crossing that bridge. With that final price reduction, we had reduced our sales price close to $50,000 – true pain. Fingers crossed. Let’s get this house SOLD!
Well we found the bottom of the market with that final price reduction. Two weeks and one counter-offer later, we were back under contract. The home inspection passed again and everything was falling right into place. Was this the time? Finally - closing? Of course, not! These buyers had to sell their home back in New Jersey and had a pending offer BUT their home inspection didn’t go as planned and they went back on the market. Aughhh, would this rollercoaster never end?? They assured us it was a good market and they would resell quickly and luckily it did. They went back under contract two days later. Here we go again! Three weeks later, they passed the home inspection. The appraisal was completed on our house in the following two weeks, and luckily came in at value with no lender callouts.
This was it. Our family finally closed on the sale of our Idaho house on February 10th, 2017 (a day in infamy) after two long years. It was a mixed bag of emotions at the signing table. We were so happy to close this chapter in our lives and finally move forward. While this was a tough ride for our family with the amount of “price improvements”, multiple hiccups, and Mother Nature, we realized that it was the first home we lived in when we got married. It was the place we brought our babies home from the hospital, the place they learned to walk and talk. The place we worked on and transformed and loved. Despite the struggle, it has good memories, and we are so thankful for our friends and family that helped us with house projects and supported us through the long months.
I shall always have a deeper appreciation and empathy for buyers and sellers going through the process of buying or selling a home. I’ve learned that a good broker is worth their weight in gold and that a sense of humor (along with a little Tylenol and a good bottle of wine or three) goes a long way. Many obstacles, stress & frustration can be avoided(!) with the right people in your corner – thank you to all my Corner People!
Now we are on to the next journey. As I nervously watch my wife pinning new house plans on Pinterest...
The Lucky Leprechaun - A Letter from the Heart - Year End 2017
After several years of dragging my feet, I finally relented and purchased a travel trailer with my husband Scott earlier this spring. I was reluctant to give up the convenience of our beat-up Coachman Motor Home: The Lucky Leprechaun (dubbed so on the first rainy camping trip with my then “future” son-in-law Josh). The Leprechaun has been a big part of our lives since 2001. It was given to Scott by his good friend John, when he passed away from cancer.
Epic stories lie between the cheap warped paneling of the walls, leaking vents and every piece of fallen glitter on the outdated orange carpet. We enjoyed many pre-dawn trips to Newport or Netart’s Bay to dig for razor or horse neck clams. It served as home base for Stayton’s Relay For Life when Kendra and I served as Team and Luminaria Committee Chairs. For many years, we spent the Labor Day Holiday at the adorable little campground behind Marion Forks Fish Hatchery. Like most camping trips, it’s all about the fire pit, setting up camp and the camp food. Our camp outs aren’t much different. I inherited my Grandmother Vera’s love and recipe for homemade Clam Chowder. I prefer “One-Pot Wonders” for camping and started the pot to cook. I think Josh was about finished with his second bowl before he piped up and said he had yet to see a clam in his chowder. Everyone started looking for the clams in their soup too. OOPS! I forgot to bring clams for the chowder. So much for a well-stocked pantry in the Leprechaun. It’s also amazing how resourceful and creative one can be if you forget to pack Maple Syrup for Pancakes. FYI, a warmed mixture of peanut butter and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup makes a pretty tasty substitute.
FaerieWorlds. Costumes. Glitter. Celtic Music. Mythical Creatures. The World of Froud. The things my daughter can talk me into all because of the love of the movie The Labyrinth and the Star Wars saga. My first indoctrination to the festival was a parking attendant in a sequined mermaid costume with seahorse pasties wishing us “Faerie Blessings!” Immediately turned to Kendra and said, “if I see naked people you are so dead…”. We laughed it off and continued to go for the next 8 years, always promising to bring the Leprechaun and stay the whole weekend. In 2013 and 2014 we made good on the promise also bringing our friend Harmoney and my niece Samantha.
There were times we prayed the darn thing would start to get us home. At times, we prayed it would stay running. It had a habit of acting up (dying in intersections). I got good at keeping my foot on the brake and gas at the same time to make a left turn if I had to stop at a traffic light.
RVing is a learning experience. The first thing we learned was to make sure all the cupboards are closed and latched when traveling on the twisty road to Hebo. Kendra can attest to the bump on the head by a weighty camp lantern. I learned an itty-bitty RV fridge comes with a $1500.00 price tag. I learned to swing wide while taking a turn. But most of all I learned that even though I had to give up the Lucky Leprechaun, no matter where we go, we will continue to make memories as a family and I will continue to forget what to pack, even with my list in my hand.
Now, what do I name the new trailer? Maybe I will wait and see what transpires at FaerieWorlds next year… Leslie