Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You're Doing What?!!

I just got off of the phone with the oldest boy. I'm sitting in a hotel room in Simpsonville, SC (think Greenville) and he's in 29 Palms, CA. He seems bored as he's called me more in the past two days than the past 6 months. So our conversation starts like this...
Him: "Hey Dad, what's up?"
Me: "Nothing much. Catching up on work emails, sitting in a Motel 6, and yes, they left the light on for me"
Him: "Guess what I did today in training? I got to learn how to use the metal detector."
Me: "Did you find any coins?"
"No I didn't. I am supposed to sweep for IEDs ahead of the company."
"Well, how long is this damn thing anyway? 15'-0", 20'-0"?"
"No, it' about 6'-0" long."
"Well, that doesn't really give you a lot of room if you find one, does it?"
"No. I just find the metal object and mark it for the bomb guys."
"Please tell me that you're just learning a new toy and this is not your permanent job!"
"I don't know. We just do what they tell us. We're learning a little bit of everything right now."
"I don't know which is worse, a) you being the leader and first one in the building when you blow the door off of a terrorist's house or, b) a mine sweeper. Maybe you need to rethink whom you may have pissed off somewhere."
"I don't know, but it is fun."

So we talked for another 20 minutes or so, then he tells me "Oh, I lifted a rock today and found a rattlesnake." Great, on top of mine sweeping you also are a snake wrangler. Ahhhh! He did send me a picture of his company.

You'll have to guess which one because I'm not telling :)  He did say something that caught me a little off guard (not the BIG off guard I had when he told me the mine sweeping duty.) He said "You know Dad, I see some of my friends on Facebook complaining how their lives are going and having to get up at 9:00 to go to work. I made my decision at 17 years old about what I was going to do with my life. Try getting up at 4:00!" Not real sure where that came from. 

On a side note as it is late and I have to get up early, I read this evening where Lynn "Buck" Compton died over this past weekend. He was a judge and lawyer and probably most noted for being one of the men of Easy Company that parachuted into Normandy on D Day. He was portrayed in Band of Brothers by Neal McDonough. Here's a link to a good article. http://news.yahoo.com/band-brothers-soldier-dies-90-wash-172718718.html

RIP sir, you deserve it.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Home Show and the Favorite Market

The wife and I attended the Raleigh Home Show yesterday. Boy it was windy and cool outside as we made our way from the parking garage to the convention center. I was hoping to get some information on tankless hot water heaters, floors, and maybe some garden greenhouse (not) and the wife was interested in pools. We cruised for about 2 hours, which was about 1 1/2 hours too long. The event itself was good but it didn't have everything we were looking for. Can't have it all I guess :)

We decided to go straight to the back and work our way forward hoping to miss most of the crowds, at least in the beginning. First booth we stopped at actually caught us off guard as it is something we could use but weren't really looking for. It is a garage storage shelf/rack system and it is nice. Garaginize is the name of the company and their product looks top notch. We, as most people do, have too much stuff crap that we keep for some reason or another. I can build the shelves that we need but as I said, this system is a good product. The salesman wasn't pushy (as most are) but very helpful and gave us an estimated quote right there. It also comes with a product called Monkey Bars. 

Second stop was by the pools. Total there were about 3 dealers there. We found one that offer a couple different options in sizes and even convinced us of the salt water system instead of chlorine. Sorry, no pictures of those but if you needed a hot tub, well let me tell you that they were everywhere!

Somewhat expensive but if you were to use one on a regular basis, probably worth it. Are neighbors from long ago had one. It took some urging to get me in but once I did get in, I didn't really want to get out. Not sure about the purple LED's though.

This is something that I am interested in.

Solar panels. A long term investment to be sure so I suppose your environmentally consciousness is tied to your pocketbook. It is to ours but stewardship can be achieved in small steps. I talked with the agent at this booth and she explained about the Federal tax credits and North Carolina tax credit. The Federal tax credit is 30% of the system cost and NC is at 35%. The federal link above is actually to the Department of Energy. We will definitely look into this!

I did look at some gutter guards that keep the needles and leaves out of gutters and we glanced at some flooring companies but all in all not very exciting. There is another show coming up this April called The Southern Idea Home Show which starts in April. Definitely going to this one. 

This home show yesterday was just a clever ruse so we could go to our favorite market, The Fresh Market. I'd shop here every day, which is why it is good we don't live too close to one. All I want is the Bruschetta. Then we cruise for anything else that catches our eye. 

Yes, I take pictures of the meat cases. I also send those same pictures via text to friends of ours in WV, just to  tease them. We picked up some lobster-shrimp salad, seafood salad and a few other knick knack items. 

Today I am taking the WOF out to cruise the neighborhood then back to continue work on the garage, getting rid of clutter and stuff we don't need to put on those new storage shelves. Update tonight on garden items and maybe a few pics from today. :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Murray Curse

It strikes again.

We have a saying in the family. It's sort of like Murphy's law, where if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. We call it the Murray curse. If I am driving on a remote stretch of highway in the middle of the night and come upon a traffic light, it will turn red. Just because it can, and it's me. It seems like a lot of the things we deal with as a family never quite pan out the way we want them to.

As you know we have been pursuing a home to call our own. We put in an initial offer hoping to get lucky on a really good deal. They came back with a counter offer that was a little high for us but we countered back with a good, solid offer. They countered back again this morning, so we countered back to within $2,000.00. We have come up way more than they have come down but our Realtor thought we were right where we needed to be. I get a call tonight. There has been another offer and the house is being shown this coming Sunday. So now we've been told to bring our best offer this coming Monday at 5:00 pm. This house has been listed for over two months with no interest. Now that we have a good feeling and lock on it, everybody else comes out. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH. This process may take longer than I thought. We'll put together a good offer for Monday and cross our fingers.

The home and Garden show is this weekend so I think we'll head down to it and see the latest offerings. I'll snap some pictures tomorrow and get some information.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Fast Decision

OK. After 4 hours on Friday with the young boy and myself and two hours today with the wife included we have decided to make an offer on this place....

It needs some power washing and miscellaneous clean-up outside but it does have a great dimensional shingle roof and good curb appeal. The top picture is standing about on the property line to the neighbor so it is a good size front yard. There is no neighbor to the left.

The back yard is already fenced for the WOF. It does slope a little but nothing I can't handle. I'm from WV so this is very, very, very minor! The yard actually extends past the back fence into the trees beyond so there's room to grow. I can get a pool off of the deck back there, put my greenhouse at the far left end and build the beds along the fence to the left.

A plus is a bonus room over the garage. Another plus is that all of the bedrooms are on the main floor. No more climbing stairs! It is about 1,720 square feet in size on about .64 acres. Not the farm homestead we were hoping for but referencing the earlier post, it is the Art of Compromise. Our Realtor believes we can get this house at a very good price. It is a foreclosure but was well taken care of. This is the compromise. A good, solid home for the family and something I can work with. Being in construction my whole life I am really looking forward to start. We decided the carpets need replaced and I am putting hardwood floors in the main room and tile in the kitchen. Of course pictures of before and after will be taken!

Six hours of looking. A fast decision to be sure but one I feel good about. Hopefully the process will go smoothly and we would be able to close by the end of March. That will give us two months to get what we need done there, slowly move things in, and have this place ready for the leasing company the first of June. With the oldest boy shipping out to Afghanistan sometime in April it will be a busy spring. Garden beds are of paramount as I have a lot of plants needing homes! 

And as if right on cue, the car rolled over 133,000 miles on the way there. That's something I don't need to deal with. Keep going baby!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I Love my Lenovo (mmwwaaa)

OK, maybe not that much but after getting the wife a new laptop I thought it wise to upgrade to something made in this century for myself. My old Thinkpad still worked (except the USB ports) and I really pondered this decision but now, no way. Even got a fingerprint scanner so I don't have to type anything to sign in. James Bond am I! Big screen and fast computing power still doesn't make these blog posts come out any faster. So....

Met with the real estate agent Friday afternoon to look for our next homestead. The wife ended up getting some kind of stomach bug thing and spent most of the day in bed, so the youngest boy and myself rode around Johnston County while learning all of the good places to eat. We saw about 7 to 8 homes of varying sizes, prices, and features. The problem with the growth in this area is that it seems 90% of the homes are in developments. He did show us an older farm house with a barn but it needed work and was priced too much. He did his search for the homes that listed few covenants so we would be able to do pretty much what we want. There were 3 that stood out from that day. He also gave me a folder of more to look at while home this weekend. Today the wife is feeling somewhat better so she picked out a few to look at. We got a hold of the real estate agent and he is showing us those tomorrow plus we'll go back to the ones I liked. Wish us luck. We have to move pretty quickly on this as it takes about 30-60 days to get this process complete.

On the garden front, the seed propagation seems to be doing very well. The tomato seedlings are coming right on up.

Now I have to see if I can get them planted this year. Another reason for an early move! I have to tear down my beds here and get some built at the new place. 

Flowers are getting pretty close to being moved in a permanent container. 

The oldest boy shipped out to Twentynine Palms Wednesday evening to start their next phase of training. Taken from the website "MCAGCC is the home of the Marine Corps’ Mojave Viper.  Mojave Viper is a 30-day combination of the Revised Combined Arms Exercises and the Security and Stability Operations training formerly conducted at March Air Reserve Base, Calif." There you go. He did send a picture of his and his rackmate, Muck. Short for Muckinhiem or something like that. I think they are out there for a month.

Last but not least, we think the WOF is suspecting that something is up. Been kinda depressed at times lately. But with her it's hard to tell.

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Homesteading and the Art of Compromise

OK. So the wife and I have been concentrating our efforts towards a new place to call home. First, I don't remember property being so costly. Secondly, what do some people think of when they decorate? I am a neutral, beige and pea green sorta guy. Blue shag carpet? Purple walls? Really? To each their own, that's what I say BUT if you are putting your house on the market, hoping to get a fair price, try to make it appealing. Back to my topic (I ramble at times and did very poorly in english in school so please forgive me), as we have been doing the search around town and over hill and dale, it has dawned on me that the wife and I may be seeing things a little differently. Big shock, I know. I have been searching for something with a good amount of property, something we can build on and can be picked up for a very reasonable amount. Very open neighborhood and quiet surroundings. I have found several locations that suit this need and the wife somewhat likes them as well.

Now, what I believe she wants is something more of a move- in condition type of residence that already has the pool for her and minimal remodeling effort. Something newer I guess is what I am trying to say. Sadly, most of these types of homes are in developments which may or may not have certain restrictions on what you are able to do. I would say that most do not. Plus you have neighbors. Not in itself all bad but you want to make sure you are on their good side.
Homesteading is what I guess I am looking for. Home is what she wants. To the art of compromise. Where does one learn this art and how do you make it apply to what you and your partner have in a goal? I suppose it boils down to how selfish do you want to be. She has found some nice places that I could work with. I have found some that I could make work for her. Hopefully we can get through this with a good sense of what's best for both of us, the young boy, WOF, and whomever else wants to weigh in. We are DIY's so remodeling and fixing up is not a problem. And I could get some new tools! There's always a positive if you look for it.
What brought up the homesteading for me was a copy of Mother Earth News that I picked up at the local big box garden/lumber/appliance/electrical/plumbing/etc. home center. I never gardened before until several years ago. I am hooked to say the least. The February/March issue is enlightening to say the least, where the main article is Learn to be Self Sufficient; Advice from Homesteading Experts. Self Sufficient. A person can definitely gain by living this way. The benefits outweigh the costs by a long shot. I'll keep you updated on the adventure.

As I sit here typing this  the wind outside is whipping the 34 degree air temperature around like no body's business. It's cold and I don't like it. As I aged it finally dawned on me why the older folks moved to Florida. The weather's nice in the winter. Then they drive north for the summer. I don't know if I'll do that some day but I do see the appeal in it.

I started the peppers, a few more tomatoes from a pack I didn't know I had, and Eggplant. I now need to concentrate on the herbs. I am going to get those going in their final resting place, whatever container I can find to plant them in.

Off to do some work work, then maybe a Thin Man movie tonight.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February Already

OK. This year is already moving too fast. Seems like a whirlwind. Back and forth from WV, then back to work last Thursday (on the road all day), about 2 weeks behind on work, and dealing with all of the paperwork and tracking of stuff after Dad passed. Thanks Tami for the comment. I certainly appreciate it.

On the garden front.
I started my tomatoes today. Maybe a little early but I hope to get them good sized before the time to get them in the ground. I didn't realize it until I started plating the seeds that I have 7 varieties of tomatoes! Mortgage Lifter, Better Boy, Green Zebra, Jelly Bean, Brandywine, Roma, and Kobe Beefsteak. Next weekend is peppers, then cukes and squash and remaining items the following week. Now I've got to figure out where to plant this stuff. Plus I have the marigolds, straw flowers, impatients, , phlox, and 4 get me nots going right now too. I need to see what else I need to start next weekend flower- wise. I have quite a bit in that area but I have another problem.

My wife and I have been talking about purchasing a home for the past few months. Nothing really too serious but just kinda tossing the idea around. We have renting a home for the past 5 years and enjoy our neighborhood and neighbors. Now that the oldest is off doing his Marine thing at Lejeune we are down to three plus the WOF. We went out looking around yesterday, trying to find that spot between her work and mine, southern Wake or Johnston county. We found a few that would work and may put an offer on a couple to see what we could do. Three homes we found were not too far apart, each on over an acre, small in size but could be added on to and were very reasonably priced. Great yards for my new greenhouse and spread of gardens! And the wife has room for her pool. We found a few others that were more in price but still could work. One was a new home on about 3/4 acre that I really liked but the price was probably more than we were looking for. :( We will keep searching and see what's out there that will work for both of us and keep the banks out of our pockets.

Here's a picture of one of the back yards of those cheaper houses. Look at this back yard!

All the way past the building. This is off of the back deck of the home.

Plants have been doing well. Lettuce and broccoli will be going in the garden next weekend. Flowers are doing good as well and will more than likely be transplanted next weekend as well. More space in the platts!

A view of the garden lettuce. I planted a few seeds to see if they would take off since we've had the mild winter. 

Like I said, don't know how involved I'll get with the actual planting due to the home search. 

Off to do some work to try to catch up, which I think I never will. Also cruise some blogs and greenhouse sites!

BTW, my helper and I went on a really long walk this morning cruising houses in the neighborhood, so she wasn't much help today. 

Even in my Gurney's hat! WOF is worthless.