Monthly Archives: February 2015

Sometimes it’s back to Square One, kinda….

I will continue the tale of getting settled in Florida. Now, I am here, have the blow-up bed and the lawn chair, and the walls are butt ugly. That has to change.

First, I get estimates to take down the wallpaper and paint the walls. You gotta be kidding me. $5000. No way. Better yet, the contractor (yes, a man with a storefront and references) changed the price six (that’s right, 6) times before we ended the conversation. He went down to $2800. Reasonable, but not a deal. Did not care that I could talk my way down that much and wondered what kind of a businessman he was. I got more estimates. Rather, desperate estimates — one man called me every other hour to see if he got the job. Finally, I had to say no just because he was smothering me. I wanted Dan my handyman back, but he moved to south Florida a year before me. I wanted someone like Dan. Someone who would charge a decent price and in return, I would get a decent finished project; someone I could trust, and where I knew that the job would be a good one. I just knew somewhere in my part of Florida this person existed.

So, I took a chance on a young fella (who was also desperate). The paint job was a good one — okay, it was an average one. But then, I was not looking for anything beyond a basic paint job. Only problem was, he was not neat. In the end, he splattered paint everywhere. To make ugly carpet worse, oh well, it was going to get changed. The walls were painted and the little flowers were gone from the kitchen. Fairly content.

In between time, I decide that the ugly, old linoleum in the kitchen and bathroom has to go. The young man sells me on the idea that he has gone to carpentry school for four years, and he knew how to lay laminate flooring. So, before all the rooms were finished being painted, I had him start changing the floors for those two rooms. And he did know how to lay the laminate, but he did not know how to finish the floors, like miter corners or use caulk. I tried to explain to him what the finished product should look like, but I don’t think he liked that too much. Oh, what a mess I had. And he said he would be back to clean up and to finish up.

He never came back. Didn’t answer his phone, and I knew I was had.

I felt I was back to square one, back to the beginning, only now I had a real bed, a couple of real chairs, and painted walls and half-done floors. So, there was a little progress. But, I felt, I needed to start over with the floors.

I was getting to know the area a little better, saw there was an interior design workshop and signed up. Very good move on my part. I had the designer come to my house and take a look, give me some guidance. And I found some furniture, so my house was being furnished slowly.

I wasn’t necessarily back to the drawing board, but I did feel very unsettled. My designer, Denise, did help.

Another contractor came over to give me bids on other projects that I wanted to do (he never called back, never got the numbers to even consider other projects), but I did make contact with a flooring guy (storefront, lots of years in business) and I had him come to the house. He straightened out some of the flooring problems, and I hired him to put white (unbelievably beautiful) laminate flooring in three rooms and the foyer. And the bathroom floor (that was just replaced) was replaced again with tile.

Progress. I started going to a ceramic class. I was out of the house.

Almost. The floor is finished, beautiful and I am very, very pleased. But the guy that was subcontracted to put in the tile didn’t do a very good job with the walls. Don’t get me wrong, the tile is great, a wonderful job, but I asked for new baseboards and once done, he took some of the wall with the baseboards. Of course, he did not make it right.

So, another fight to fight. But, I’m really tired of working on this house. I have furniture, the walls are painted, and the 3 rooms are beyond my expectations.

Sometimes I felt I took two steps forward and went one back, but it was not the reverse, where I took one step forward and two back. Progress is being made. One day the whole shebang will be done, you know the whole enchilada, the whole kit and caboodle, the whole ball of wax, but for the moment…

I have had my first stain glass class, joined a writer’s club, a genealogy club, continue with ceramics, walk most days, meet new people, explore, do some chalk painting, and write. I am writing again. It feels good. And I have plain walls and a couple of beautiful floors.

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Moving is not for the faint-of-heart

About a year ago, I decided to move from Illinois to Florida. I had no idea what I was getting myself into!

Initially, I thought I would simply sell my house, find another house, and go and live my life. Ha – Ha. Last April, I started clearing out my house, downsizing, packing and pitching. I was ready for a new beginning in a new house in a new town in a new state. My niece helped me pack what I wanted to take, and I rented a storage unit to make my house clutter-free for the sale. Exhausting but manageable. Then, the house sold. Quickly. I don’t think I was ready for that quick of a sale. And definitely not for the closing some four weeks later. And that is when the panic set in.

My open house was in mid June, last year. I knew the next week that a young couple was interested, but their house had to sell and they had not even put it on the market. I figured I had time. Their house was immediately put on the market and it sold within two weeks. I had four weeks to close on the sale. Maybe I should rephrase that. I had four weeks to empty out my house, find a house in Florida, and move. Moving belongings is one thing, but then there are doctors, dentists, bankers, businesses, and friends, don’t forget the friends and family that need to be aware of the move. In four weeks. And all the necessary appointments for the sale of the house.

I made a quick run to Florida to find a house. I knew where I wanted to be, just needed to find a house. And I left Florida thinking I had a house. But within the eight hours it took to cross the state line, I learned I lost the house to a cash buyer. Okay, I had house Number 2 as a back up. Three hours later I found that that house also went to a cash buyer. Okay. I went online, and selected house Number 3; sight unseen, I put in a bid. I needed a home to call my own. And I got it.

By now, I was in Illinois, and had only a few weeks until closing. A friend’s son is a mortgage broker, so he helped. Let me rephrase that. He started and completed the loan within a few weeks. Unheard of. But, it happened. By this time, I was working around the clock, the mortgage broker was working around the clock, and my niece was helping. I also had to find a mover. And I had no idea on that one.

I considered my grandson, but he was working and he lived in another town, and I had no idea what I was doing. So, friends of mine knew someone else who was moving out-of-state and told me about a mover. Okay. I had to do something. In between time, I could put everything in storage. There were two units by now. I contacted the mover, and finished up clearing out the house for the closing.

If you could have only seen me the day of the closing! I was a crazy lady. At the end, I neither had the boxes nor the will to continue packing, so I put everything I could into my car. Friends came over, and they packed their car with my belongings. I had only a few hours until closing. Finally, at the end, there was no room in either car, and I simply bagged the rest and put it ready for the garbage. (The new owners said I could do that). I had a full car, took a quick shower. Couldn’t find my hair dryer, couldn’t find my shoes, and did not have clean clothes. I went to close on my house, and we all laughed through the closing. I do have a sense of humor.

I was officially homeless. Friends gave me a room and food, and after two nights I left for Florida to close on the sight-unseen house. In between time, the cars’ contents were emptied into the storage units.

Oh-ho. The house had the square footage, but all the walls were pink. Pink. And there were little flowers on wallpaper that was unraveling on the walls. Carpet needed to be replaced. Cabinets were old. I wanted to cry. What did I get myself into?

I signed the papers, emptied my car, found a bank, turned on the electricity. And I went back to Illinois

Staying with the same friends, I returned to the storage units to pack the items that were emptied from the cars on the day I closed on my Illinois house. I had one week before the movers came. And, after seeing the movers, I realized that if I would have rented a truck to move myself, I had too much to put into the size of truck I would have selected. At least everything would be together.

The middle of September, I was on my way to my new house, my new town, my new state. I was very, very tired.

But, it doesn’t end there. I had walls that needed to be painted, floors that needed to be cleaned or replaced, furniture that needed to be bought  (I started with a blow-up bed and a lawn chair). Somehow, today enough is done for me to stop for a while and get back to my life. Writing. Yay!!! And being creative, chalk painting furniture, painting ceramics and learning stain glass techniques. I am here. I am where there is sun most days of the year. Where there is no snow to shovel. Where there is an entire state to explore. Change is good. I may not be an adventurer, but I am not faint-of-heart. Would I do it again? You betcha. There’s nothing like change and a challenge. For me, it’s better than feeling safe only because life shows familiarity.

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