Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Been A Long Time!

Or at least it seems that way. I had every intention of posting an update yesterday but events just overtook me, and I'm shoehorning this session into the wee hours of the morning before today's steed takes off under me, too. Between chores (both regular and seasonal), appointments and some fun times (today I'm having lunch with some old Peace Corps buddies) I've had very little time for reflective noodling.

First things first: Monday night Sussex County, Delaware, granted us the variance we needed to build the deck on our new house. It was so simple, after all the anticipation, expense and mystery. We just stood at a podium and stated the reasons for our request to five well-fed guys (all guys) seated on a dais. Our presentation was backed up by architectural drawings and the county plat, which show the tiny space we are building on and why the deck could only go where we requested. We were expecting questions and comments about being so close to the water (part of the deck will be built literally right out to the bulkhead), but their questions were off-subject entirely, having to do with lot preparation, old wells and cesspools and the like. It was as if they felt they had to ask something and were groping for just what. We were case number 5 on an agenda of eight. After ten minutes and a compliment on the thoroughness of our presentation (thanks to Steve), it was over and we were free to build our beautiful deck.

Now we're awaiting formal paperwork on the construction loan to be completed. It's taking extra time because, in the words of the man hired by the bank to assess the value of the proposed property, "that's quite a house you're building." (Someday I hope to have a color rendering to show you.) It's taking him longer than usual to find comparable houses in the area. (On the subject of loans in general, you may be interested to know, given current economic blues and the tight credit situation, that we are finding the cash spigots opened wide. If your credit score is good, you won't have a problem in the mortgage market. The banks are awash in money; they're just being more careful now about to whom they are lending it.)

Steve is facing numerous trips over the next months in his capacity as property manager of the soon-to-be-defunct project. He has to go to various off-site cities to account for their property, some of which is leased from the feds, and make sure it is disposed of properly. I took him to the airport this morning for a trip to Florida, from where he will return (to Delaware--I'm in Virginia now) on Friday. Tomorrow afternoon I'm headed back to Delaware. Friday, I'll collect Steve at the aiport there, and then we will take up where we left off last weekend, packing away the contents of the trailer and attending contractor meetings--this time we meet the lighting lady. Since there is no heat in the trailer, we've never been able to spend any time in the winter there. We always closed it down for the season. This time we are closing it down for demolition in December; we hope to have the place completely empty by November 10. As the little place becomes more and more denuded I can't help feeling a lump in my throat. We've only had the place for four years, but it represents an entire new life--one we'd only dreamed of over so many years--and we are very emotionally attached to the decrepit old wreck. Great joy and great drama have been packed into it. The house that is supposed to replace it is still a beautiful dream, but the dream is inching closer and closer to reality. Stay tuned.


Linda, SE PA said...

Welcome Back!

Congrats to you & Steve! Sounds like the next month or so is going to be very hectic, yet extremely exciting. I agree, there is much nostalgia and poignancy in leaving a home even when there is reason to celebrate a new creation.

Totally off topic - yet, I thought this item may be of interest from a prior conversation held on this here blog.

A new blog I discovered www(dot)newjerseybabyboomer(dot)com wrote about a UBS turntable which copies records to CD's or MP3's. The price seems to be reasonable.

Anyways, time for me to shuffle off. Ralph, enjoy your lunch.


Anonymous said...

I'm getting the same down here with regards to lending and lenders bringing back the old X-ray process. It's really back to the old days but YAY lots of money available to the right buyer. No funny stuff, one banker told me.

I'm guessing when you move into your new dream home that lump in your throat for the old trailer will last about . . . ohhh maybe 5 seconds.

splendid said...

What an exciting time in your lives, thanks for keeping us posted.
I enjoy reading and listening to you very much.

Ralph said...

Linda, thanks for the info about the turntable. Actually, our friend Kat has one and she tried to hook it up to her computer when we visited her last Thanksgiving. She hit a glitch and I don't believe she's figured it out yet. The price has come down, I see, but it still seems like a large lump for what is basically a one-off project: once you're finished copying your LPs, you're stuck with an expensive white elephant. I guess you could put it on the used-goods market (craig's list, e-bay) and recoup something. Which leads me to the logical next step of lookibng for one on craig's list or e-bay. Given the pace of things here now, I think this might be something that will have to wait until we move. Might as well--it's waited lo these many years already.

Ralph said...

Z&Me, I'm perfectly fine with that X-Ray process if iot keeps the mortgage market solvent. It never should have been done away with.

You're right about the new place, and that's what making tearing down the old one bearable.

Ralph said...

Splendid, I'm so glad you're enjoying the ride, bumps and all. I'm sure there will be more highs and lows as the months roll by. The real nail-biting time will be when we finally market this house, with the waiting for a buyer, and wondering what we'll get for it, and where will we live if the new place isn't finished....oh, there will be plenty to entertain you!

Kat said...

It's about time you showed up. I do hate to be kept waiting!

I am so glad the process is running so smoothly. To think, you wasted all that fret and worry but you wouldn't be my dear friend Ralph without it!

Nan said...

Hi Ralph,
First, I miss you when you don't check in! Second, wow - the lump in the throat at tearing down the symbol of carefree fun in the sun. I can see that. But then, I am reminded of (another) great Peggy Lee song (done best I think by Sandra Bernhard...), Is That All There Is? I think of her looking at the house burning and saying, "Is that all there is . . . to a fire?" Then let's go dancing... you know the rest. You are about to go dancing. Anyone have any mp3s out there? I found only an incomplete recording of Peggy Lee's original on YouTube. No Sandra Bernhard - only Bette Midler - who I love but don't favor her version. Too maudelin. I actually have a CD somewhere with Sandra's version and need to find it and upload it. Glad you are back and good luck with everything.

Mim said...

On the approval from the zoning board. And on the ability to get a mortgage easily.
Now sorting, packing and storing, those are things that emotions are made of for sure.
Take lots of pictures of your place and the way you have your things sitting around.
I forget, will you miss next season summering in Delaware or will you be camping at the site as the house goes up.
I have small daily dramas related to a small construction project and that certainly overrides posting and being in the blog world some days.

Ralph said...

I'm glad you consider me "dear" with those attributes, Kat, because they'll rear their lovely heads again, no doubt! Between waiting to sell the house, wondering what we'll get for it, and the job market in Delaware, there's plenty to fret about!

Ralph said...

Nan, that's a great sentiment and I'm sure I'll be having it when we move into the new place. But we hope the land-clearing guy will be doing the teardown on a day we can come to watch and record. it's too momentous an occasion to miss.

I'll look for that mp3!

Ralph said...

That's a good question, Mim, where we'll be this spring/summer. It all depends on when we sell the house and whether we decide to start construction before we sell it. That would be ideal, but paying two huge big notes--the 2nd mortgage here and the construction loan--would stretch us tight, I believe, to breaking. If we sell before Steve's job ends June 12, we'll have to rent and store in Arlingon. If after, and the house isn't built, we'll rent and store in Delaware. It takes about 180 days, they say, to build the house to key-ready. All we know for sure is that by this time next year, we'll be residents of Delaware, in the new house.

Ravel said...

Think about it: no more rain coming inside the shack... ! Those Days of Transition will get more concrete (no pun intended) as time goes by.
Take care!

Ralph said...

HA! Ravel, you remembered that rain episode! Seems like years ago, but that was at the beginning of this season, wasn't it? Well, you're right. If that new roof leaks, we have big problems!