Welcome to 4Q's new year. Sure, it's late in the month to be posting for the first time in 2012, but with personal batteries recharged and a refreshed look for the blog, it is back for a new season.
I knew it was time to get back to posting for a couple of reasons. One, it seemed like every other phone converation LK has had recently has included comments like "I know, and I'm disappointed too, but he just doesn't seem to want to do it any more."
I am pretty sure she was talking about this blog, but actually her comments were not all that compelling a reason to re-start. Survival in retirement years requires - at a minimum - the ability to not pay attention to whatever critiques your spouse is making. And that's if they're talking directly to you. If you can't ignore it when they're talking to someone else, you may as well go get a job flipping burgers at McDonald's because life around the house will be just plain miserable.
No, the real reason I knew it was time to post again was that the other day we went through an experience and all I could do was think about how I wanted everyone to know what had happened.
And this is what happened.
With Jason and Laura moving down here in a couple of weeks, we've been doing house-hunting for them, checking out rental properties in the area. LK has been a woman on a mission, spending hour after hour checking out the ads for rentals, scheduling viewings and scoping out the prospects. In recent days she has been the Communications Center for the project, this week spending more time on the phone with Jay and Laura than she probably has in the past five years.
Her reports are pretty predictable: "It's small but in good shape, you should apply"; or, "Don't bother, it's run-down and it doesn't look like the landlord bothers to keep it up", etc, etc. We have walked into very attractive places with views of the water and very unattractive places with clutter everywhere and a dwarf trying to stop his dog from jumping on us. (Really.) The latter, by the way, elicited the report: "It's not bad, but I wouldn't apply. It's the vibe." Apparently clutter, jumping dogs and small people make for bad vibes even though, presumably, they won't be around once new tenants move in.
But the icing on the cake happened Tuesday. We arrived at a property to be viewed a few minutes early and parked near the house. While the five or six houses on the cul-de-sac were in fairly good condition, I couldn't help notice that the lawn next door hadn't been mowed in a long, long time, most likely not yet this year.
That's not a good sign for the neighborhood, I said to LK who - ever the optimist - said it was hardly anything to worry about. As we sat there, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a very large child sitting on a neighboring porch. The kid was quite a bit overweight and several years over age to be sucking away on a pacifier (dummy, to my Aussie friends). Then I started to notice the little things - a rusting, abandoned washing machine by a back door, a few engine parts in a yard. I was sure I could faintly hear banjo music playing nearby - da da da dang dang - and was getting ready to practice squealing like a pig.
The agent arrived in time to distract us from the neighboring houses. LK and she went into the house as I re-parked the car. It would have only been four or five minutes before I walked into the house, but before I got to check it out (well, other than the mattress leaning against the wall in the entrance foyer) LK came bustling out of the living room.
Her eyes were a little bigger than normal, her lips pursed a little tighter. "No, no, no, no, " she whispered to me. I thought she meant the house wasn't right for the kids, but she meant she didn't want me to come into the house and she wanted to get out, Which we did.
Apparently, after she saw the kitchen and living room, the idea of examining the bathroom and bedrooms sent her into panic mode and she was in full retreat. As we walked down the driveway, the duelling banjoes were getting louder and louder.
The agent told Linda that the house would be cleaned, of course, and LK replied that it really needed blowtorching. She later told me that even if they cleaned it, she could never go back there because she had seen what it was like now. Skeeve City was the term she used, I believe.
We saw one other house that afternoon, but LK was by then in no mood for anything but wonderful. She noted the very worn carpet, the damage to the wall and the agent's attitude that it wasn't that big a deal. LK left without looking at the bedrooms. She was so distracted, in fact, that she hadn't even noticed that the current tenant had taken a black marker and written profanities and racist comments all over the refrigerator, next to his collection of 20 or more empty bouron bottles. I waited until we had driven away to let her know about the fridge graffiti.
So we ended our househunting Tuesday learning a couple of lessons. First, our alcohol-free lifestyle experiment was officially over after 14 days and ending as soon as we got in the house.
And second, when it comes to bad vibes, we now know that clutter, a dwarf and a jumping dog are not anywhere near as bad as they seem at first.
And as a postscript, today is a national holiday here (not that this is very important once you're not working.) Happy Australia Day to all our Aussie mates and family.