Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Play’s the Thing: Sunday in the Yard with Sophie


Hmm... I don't think I could've asked for a better day than today.  After a week of the local weather predicting heavy thunderstorms for Sunday, this morning they suddenly switched their tune & announced it'd be a perfect summer day. Thank God! 

Several days ago, I offered to come down & spend the day with my sister Shawn's little girl (my niece Sophia) and Shawn couldn't have been more appreciative about it. 

At first she and her husband Jim were going to have an impromptu cookout (Jim's pretty good with a steak on the grill) but then that got canceled as he couldn't be there, he's on strike & had to go sit on the picket line.  (Gee, even on a Sunday?!) 

Nothin' personal Jim, but the day couldn't have been nicer.  It was just Shawn, Sophia & myself--my sister made a nice pot roast while Sophie and I read books and played with her menagerie of stuffed animals. 

(When I asked Sophie if we could go play outside, the kid beat a path for the back door.  I think she lives out there; she's so dark she looks like a little coconut!)



Sophie begins school tomorrow (Pre-K) here...she's excited about it, but I have a feeling this is going to be a rough week for her--and my sister Shawn




(It's now Monday morning and Shawn just informed me that Sophia had a nervous time with being left "on her own" at the school.)  I know the kid is going to do great...hang in there, guys!  







This week also happens to be my OTHER niece Drew's first day of high school, a big change for her as well.   These kids are growing up too fast! 


And as long as we’re on the subject of children and school…  


This fascinates me to no end.  At the bottom of my sister's yard sits a large boxy structure (part of their property) that they use to store odds n' ends, old furniture, lawnmower, etc. 

It's too formal to be called a barn, though it has no windows.  (They were boarded up long ago.)  And it's a historical landmark too!  Why?

Because in the late 1800s-1930s, it was the areas first schoolhouse.  



Based on the layout of the first floor, I imagine it looked like this...   


When you go inside, it's not apparent--it simply looks like an old barn. But when you climb the dark and rickety stairs to the second floor, it's eerie... strangely enough the top floor also contained the school's gymnasium, with the original lighting fixtures still hanging from the ceiling. 

An archaic slate board (chalkboard) still hangs on the wall.     sunday3b        sunday3c








It gives me goosebumps to go in there;  I can't even imagine how many generations of kids played and studied and daydreamed about the world outside those long boarded-up windows...

But as the old saying goes, 'that was then; this is now'.  And for the time being, any thoughts about school kids will be reserved for Drew...or this little munchkin!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Oh Great Teepee in the sky… I believe I’ve finally learned my lesson



Man, what is my problem?  I can't seem to let something go.  If you've visited my Teepee before, back in November 2007 I made a pilgrimage to THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN to check out these very cool (and very overpriced) loft-style apartments for sale.

They were constructed in the old high school, and everything I'd hoped they would be; but the idea was shot down when I came to the awful conclusion that at 220K minimum, they were WAY outta my price-range. 

(Click on Lofty Wishes if you want to read about 'em)




Look familiar?  It should, it was Frasier's luxury apartment!  Okay, so it wasn't real but I still loved the thing...

So anyway, I was pretty surprised today when one of their agents contacted me & asked me if I'd bought another property yet, as she recalled I wasn't interested in owning a house.  (I was flattered she remembered that; the first time I met with her, I had told her that I just wasn't into owning a traditional piece of property.)  She then said "Douglas, I have some great news; there's been a slow-down in the market, and the sellers have agreed to come down on a couple of their units.  How does 165K grab you?"

I actually jerked straight up at that.  "That one I saw for 220K?"  I asked.  "No, but that one was reduced to 200 and sold."   "Well, I couldn't afford 200K anyway..." I replied.  "I know Doug, but I don't believe you saw this one, and the original asking was 200K.  At 165, that's a 35K decrease in the asking price.  I thought of you first, Douglas."   I should've known better, but...

I agreed to go see it tonight.



Loft 209 with a new 'custom finish', including a 'copper closet' underneath the mezzanine, with steel beams & a dark steel kitchen.  It's one of the smallest units for sale but it sure looked spacious to me. 


I really was shocked when we walked in there--I loved it.  Lots of earth-tones mixed in with various shades of steel.  (The kitchen has a floor-to-ceiling wall of cherry cupboards, a holdout from the original school.)  So I began doing some quick calculations in my head, could owning this be a real possibility? 

I've gotta be honest here--for a single guy on my salary, the price is STILL too steep.  But maybe with some twistin' & turnin'...who knows.  To be continued...

Tuesday, August 12:  Farewell to the Great Teepee...


Well, this morning I was beginning to think this was really possible:

  • Use most of my life savings to make a 65K down payment
  • Reduce my 401K contribution to 5%
  • Hope that the bank gives someone my age a 30 year loan
  • Keep my 2003 Honda until 'death us do part'

Then Melanie called me with a 'couple small items'.

The property tax is 6158.00 a year.  What?!  That's over $500.00 more a MONTH just for taxes?  (She's extremely apologetic & asks if I've "crunched the numbers".  Yes, I've stomped up n' down on 'em!!)

"And just a reminder, there's the 'monthly grounds' fee of 215.00."

I suddenly felt a great burden being lifted from my shoulders...cause there is no way in hell I could afford this.   Thank you, Great Teepee.  I've learned my lesson this time.  I'm no Frasier Crane.   (I still called Caldwell Banker to confirm that outrageous tax amount though!  They sounded pretty sad about it too.)

And I'm finally seeing the light...maybe a cozy little house wouldn't be so bad after all.