Almost Two Months

I’ve been absorbed with the possible sale of our house.  The same man who wanted to buy it last year has tied us up with a contract again this year.   If he does not come through and purchase the house this year, he won’t get a chance the next time it goes on the market!

We are supposed to have a closing date of July 31st, but the buyer just requested his second extension to find the funding he needs.  He has until July 17th now, but if he doesn’t succeed, we will have to cancel the appointment with the movers.  If we do that, I’ll be canceling the contract, and opting to see if there is anyone else who will be interested.

Meanwhile, we have packed boxes every day, filling a 16′ POD with things we don’t need daily.  Books, china, kitchen things, linens – things that can be stored in a non-climate controlled situation, have all been boxed.  Now our house looks rather like a normal house, with the exception of the living room, which has very little furniture left.  We gave away the two couches!  (It was either that, or burn them!)

We have made electrical repairs, had radon testing, had the exterminator come through, and are waiting for a visit from a roofer to replace a rubber gasket and the top 8 inches or so of the shingles, which were damaged by hail.  We’ve replaced the garage door openers with ones which have an optical safety control.  We’ve had the furnaces tested, and the landscaper is coming to shape up the gardens.  Whew!  If the house doesn’t sell, it will be a very safe, very tidy place to live! lol

My niece is here for a week to help us pack.  I’m delighted to have the help.  It gives me a chance to talk with her, and find out what’s going on in her life, and get more packed.  That’s a win-win situation.

Wish us luck.  Think positive thoughts for the sale of the house.  Pray, if you are so inclined.  We will accept any and all help to move us through this sale.

It Smells Green

It was a beautiful, sunny day today.  This is the first day we have both been out working on the lawn and gardens.  Dear Husband was mowing the lawn, (trying to kill the lawn mower), and repairing the lawn mower.  I spent my time in the sun working on the herb garden.  Between the chives I ripped out, and the grass DH cut, the air smells very green.

I cleaned out half of the walkway today, and turned the dirt in four sections of the herb beds.  I have two larger spaces to turn, and I want to add composted topsoil to the beds.  I have nasturtium seeds, and wildflower seeds, a pear tomato plant, and a pickle cucumber start to plant in the herb bed.  I may add basil and flat leaf parsley next week.

I’m fairly certain there is a bunny abode beneath my oregano plants.  I have enough oregano to stock the kitchens of Northern Illinois, and I noticed that one pod of it is raised in a very odd manner.  I thought about digging up the plant, but I think I’ll leave it for the new owners.  They can decide what goes and what stays.

The chives are about ready to bloom.  The clematis is reaching up, and we guided it to the arbor today.  The lemon balm, thyme,  spearmint, lamb’s ears, purple coneflower and day lilies are all doing well, in addition to the oregano. Feverfew is still trying to grow, and I’m still trying to eradicate it!

I won’t miss the weeding, but I WILL miss the herb garden.  It’s been a great joy over the years.

New Bird

This time of year, as birds are flying north to their summer homes, we get several birds that aren’t with us all summer long. Dear Husband pointed out the return of the towhee roughly three weeks ago.  I was surprised to find that it is still visiting,

Last week I saw a rose-breasted grosbeak at the feeder.  In past years we’ve had evening grosbeaks visit, too.

This week we have had three male indigo buntings appear.  I had always thought that the indigo bunting was a bigger bird, so we had some discussion at the breakfast table about the beautiful blue, TINY birds in the shrubs.  They are about the size of the gold finches and house finches which have returned for the summer.  Like the cardinals, it’s the males who have the beautiful plumage.  I suspect that there are female indigo buntings out there, too, but I just haven’t recognized what I’m seeing.  I’ll have to check the summer range of the buntings to see if our back yard might fall in their summer range.

We saw our first heron early in April, and an egret about a week or so later, but the rest of the flock has been slow to arrive.  It’s just as well, because we’ve had a spring with surprisingly low temperatures.  DH tells me that an egret flew by the kitchen window this morning.  There are retention ponds just to the east of our house where we might see the herons and egrets.  I think walking past the ponds to see who’s visiting would be a great reason for an early morning walk.

I hope I’ll see the yellow-bellied sap sucker this year.

Friday’s notes

We’re coming down to the wire today, trying to get things cleaned up or cleared out before the photographer comes to take pictures for the brochure the agent will provide to those looking at our house

We’ve been moving things to the basement, boxing things up, and getting general cleaning done.  The guy who came to clean the carpets worked miracles, getting out an old rust spot and a newer stain that we couldn’t identify.  I made sure to praise him to the agent,  who had recommended him.

Yesterday, the men came to patch the hole in the office wall, and while he was at it, he patched some nail pops that had been irritating me for about 15 years.  Today they painted one wall and the ceiling.  I hope things will be dry enough to return the office in time for pictures,  we can always do that room last.

The house should be really clean, and lovely for Easter, but we won’t be hosting the usual family gathering.  Hopefully, we can rest for a couple of days before the house isn officially listed.

I love the open areas, and the light.  I love that the house shows it’s size and looks uncluttered, but it’s a very sterile look.   I’ll have some serious work to do when we start opening what I’ve packed up at the next house.  For sure, we won’t be keeping everything.  Most likely once we have moved, all my posts will be about having to decide what to give up.  If you’ve read this far, you are a very patient person, or a very good friend!

Getting Closer

We have the sounds of banging and heavy thuds reverberating through the house.  At long last the repairs are being made to our roof.  The roof was damaged, nine holes, when a 60-foot evergreen blew down about six weeks ago.  We hope they will finish this evening, but they may need to return tomorrow.  Storms are coming our way, so there won’t be much room for delay.

Yesterday, our realtor came to stage our house to prepare it for photographs.  I made a list as I followed him around so that I wouldn’t forget anything.  We’ve begun with some of the easiest tasks, and will work at it daily for the next few days.  The realtor wants the house to look as large as it can, so we are putting away or packing up anything we can live without.  I think the house looks sterile, but it certainly does look BIG!  We need to move at least six chairs, a table, and several other odds and ends downstairs  They want me to shift some plants to clear three windows in the living room.  I’m astonished as how effective his requests are in opening up the rooms.  Be prepared, though; our island in the kitchen looks like the State of Texas.  It’s almost bare, and just huge!

I made a call today, and we have a carpet cleaner coming on Monday.  We had a load of composted topsoil delivered today, and I began top dressing the perennials in the gardens at the front of the house.   I need to find someone to clean the outside windows this coming week.  Dear Husband has talked with a company about delivering gravel for the drive.  The cleaning lady comes on Thursday, and we should have pictures taken on the Friday before Easter!  Whew!

Things are really heating up with the sale of the house.  I can see the agent is eager to sell it.  We are not as eager to make the move, but the time is right for a LOT of reasons.

My mantra these days is:  Wish us luck!  :-)

A Perfect Day

It’s just about 70 degrees here, the warmest day we’ve had since 2013, I think.  This is the day that we have been dreaming about while our lawns and gardens have been covered with six feet of snow.  It’s heavenly out there.  The sky was clear, earlier.  The birds have been making a racket and I saw a bee checking out a crocus.

I have been concerned about my iris.  This past winter was so very hard on them that they have practically jumped out of the ground, and need to be re-seated.  I began top-dressing them this afternoon with a mix of 70% top soil, and 30% mushroom compost.  It will rain this weekend and settle some of that in, and I’ll give it another  layer the next warm day to come along.

The squill are greening up at the base of the tree northwest of our kitchen.  I don’t think it will be long before we see their blue blooms.  I have early, mid- and late season daffodils, and all of them are up.  The early ones are close to bloom, but the weather is supposed to cool down during the next few days, so that may slow down the rush to bloom.  Soon, though.

I have tulip leaves coming up, but something out there (probably the bunnies) is snacking on the leaves.  I don’t know if we will see any blooms other than the Darwin hybrids which have bloomed like clockwork for just about 24 years.

I spent one break  today looking at the collection of seed packets I’ve been collecting in the mudroom.  I discovered that half of the packages were empty.  I’d kept the packages to have the name of the flowers, and where I’d purchased them.  I tossed a few packages which had been sold in years prior to 2010.  I segregated the seeds into flowers, herbs, wildflowers and food, and then made notes about where I wanted to plant them.  I have to wait about a month to put the seeds into the ground, but I’m ready as soon as things warm up.

There is something so satisfying about getting out and working in the early spring.  It does the soul good!

Catching up with friends

Hi, All!

We’re having a quiet morning, so I thought I’d do a little catch-up.  The tree you saw in the last post is gone.  The tree service was quick and professional.  They even raked up small bits of branches and “stuff” so that we have very little to do to clean the lawn.  They will be returning today to take down the remainder of the trunk, and two more trees which we feel  might be dangerous, should we have another big wind.

The restoration company is sending someone to look at the damage to determine the scope of work to be done.  We’ll see their representative tomorrow, and will do our best to light a fire under them to get the job done.  Dear Husband tells me that I can expect several days of repairs.  The damage is mostly located in one small area, so they won’t be able to put more than two or three men to work at one time.  I want it repaired before the spring rains come!

We have talked with another agent, and decided to sign a contract for their services to sell our house.  There are two of them, working as a team, and the older of the two has quite the success rate for sales in this area.  We asked a lot more questions this time, and think that they may be a good fit.  Once the repairs are done, they will come back to stage the house and take pictures.  This time the brochure for the prospective buyers will show the house with gardens in bloom, an improvement over the last which made the house look like it was in a desert.

My mind is focusing on more packing!  I go to sleep thinking about one more place we can clean out, or another way to make the rooms look their real size.  I think this will be the year we move.  I’m resigned to leaving my wonderful home, but eager to see what the future brings.  Wish us good luck!

Soon to be gone

Resized  Exterior 1

 

Resized Exterior 2 Resized Exterior 3 Resized Office branch

 

This branch in the office is the only place that was damaged on the first floor.  There are at least three more branches in the attic.

TResized shot from inside

This was no little tree.  The tree service is working on it now, so that we can get the roof covered.  What you can’t see is the star magnolia that has been obliterated by the tree.

 

Visitors

We have been in our home twenty-five years.  We spend a lot of time looking out the windows at the wildlife.  I knew there were two species out there that I hadn’t seen, but this was my year to see them!

We have been seeing robins through out the winter!  About fifteen years ago I attended an Empty Nester breakfast with my mother, (I know…that sounds odd.  :-)  She lived with us.)  There was a speaker following the breakfast, who talked about local birds, and she said that we have robins year round.  I’m sure I made a face when she said that, because I had NEVER seen a robin in the winter.  Well, the woman was right.  I have no idea what they are eating, bur we have seen robins all through the winter, despite the fact that it’s been one of the worst winters on record.  Mother and DH and I used to have a race to see who was the first to sight a robin in the spring,  Little did we know that our birding skills were sadly lacking.

The second species that I have finally seen is coyote.  I’ve heard them, and seen them a mile away.  I’ve heard neighbors talking about being afraid for their small children and dogs, but I’d never seen one on our land.  In the last six weeks I’ve seen at least three.  The first looked pretty bad.  It’s fur looked torn, and it was emaciated.  No doubt anything it was used to eating was hibernating, and feet of snow weren’t making things any easier.

I saw a second trotting through north of the house, on an east to west route.  It looked as though it planned to cut through all the back yards as it hunted.  The third was a healthy looking young adult, sitting at the base of a choke cherry shrub quietly watching for any bird activity at the feeder.  We had a freak day of rain, following six weeks of arctic freeze and about 60 inches of snow.  The coyote was sitting quietly in the downpour, hoping for a bit of breakfast.  When he saw me watching him, he moved off to the north.  This winter has been really tough for anything that doesn’t have shelter.

Robins and coyotes.  I wonder what else we will see before we move?

Tree hugger

I admit it for all to see:  I’m a tree hugger.

Twenty-five years ago we bought a wooded lot, to build our home.  It was filled with mature trees and rough areas where trees had fallen.  The only place to situate the house was in an area of very old pear and apple trees.  It nearly killed me to have to give them up.  I managed to save two of each kind, and two of the pears and an apple tree are still with us after all these years.

We left the rough areas as passage for wildlife (and barrier from our neighbors).  Woodpeckers, dozens of other birds, raccoons, deer, coyotes, skunks and the neighbor’s cats and dogs all find the area interesting.

It became apparent that we were going to have to take down pods of trees at two corners of the house.  The trees had reached old age and died off and there was no doubt that  they would land on the house one day, so we hired a tree service to bring them down.  It was fascinating to watch, but I was very sad to see them go.  The shade around the house had changed, and the view out the sky lights showed a lot more sky.  Still, my favorite tree of all, a HUGE evergreen, was still there.  We communed every morning through the skylight, as I dressed.

That is, until last Thursday.  We were eating a late dinner when we heard a terrible thump.  It had been raining all day, one of those freakish warm days following six weeks of arctic cold.  The rains had given over to very high gusts of wind when the house shook.   We both went to see if we could tell what had happened.

At first there didn’t seem to be anything wrong.  Whew…missed the bullet again.  Then, I walked into the office and discovered bits and pieces of drywall on the floor.  I looked up and saw a branch about 3″ wide jutting 15″ into the room right where the ceiling and the wall meet.  At that point, I could hear Dear Husband above me in the attic, counting holes in the roof.  At least four branches from the upper part of the tree pierced the roof.

We have been very lucky.  The rain had stopped, and the temperature had dropped again, so we didn’t have water pouring or dripping in the holes.  The heavy part of the tree didn’t hit the house.  We have a tree service coming today to cut back the tree so the damage can be assessed.  They will have to bring in a crane to support the trunk so that it won’t swing into the side of the house once the branches are cut off.  Luckily, we have insurance that will cover the tree removal.

So, we have at least four holes in the roof.  We’ll need new shingles, and plywood cladding and whatever else went into making our roof.  We’ll need a new stretch of gutter and soffit.  It’s possible that we might need some bricks replaced.  And, we will need drywall and paint in the office.

Oddly, all that isn’t bothering me terribly.  It can all be fixed.  But, my favorite tree is gone, and when it came down, it took out my second favorite tree, a beautiful mature star magnolia.  The view out my skylight, and the view out my office window are both terribly bare and I won’t get to see the magnolia bloom this spring after a winter of anticipation.

I’m  tree hugger.  These trees were my friends and I feel their loss.