Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday, December 26 - Back from Paducah

Had a great time in Paducah with Barry's son and in-laws. We ate, and ate, and when we were done eating, we ate again! We're made to feel so welcome there, it's like going home. I even know now where Nancy keeps the paper towels! Presents all around were MOST appreciated, and the good company was wonderful.

It's really weird -- it takes 2 hours to get there and 4 hours to get back. Of course, Paducah is in Central time and we're in Eastern time so that explains it.

BTW, the Patriots game on the 29th WILL be shown on NBC and CBS, not just the NFL network, which is good since we couldn't spring for the $$$$ to buy the NFL network!

No news on the new house purchase here, though we will call Melissa tomorrow to see what's happening. With any luck, we will get the paperwork done so we can close on the property shortly after New Year's, and finish packing and moving. Barry has SO many plans for planting, and we can actually till the ground 'cause it's not frozen! We'll plant and plant and plant! When we moved to Kentucky, one of our major hopes was to find some good gardening land. We don't have it here in Butchertown, but we will in Alum Springs. "Spring" planting around here is late February and early March!

It's in the 50s here, seems like a Maine October day. We understand that "winter" is around the corner though, so expect a bit of snow flurries, and some ice on the roads. That apparently is about it. The grass is still growing, and at Buel and Nancy's, they have a winter-blooming camelia! Yup, flowers blooming in Kentucky in December! Strange place compared to Maine where the major crop this time of year is frozen vegetables, and hothouse tomatoes from Madison!

Sincere thanks for all the gifts and companionship from our family in Paducah -- it is so wonderful the way you have made us a part of your lives. You all have defined "Southern hospitality" for us Yankees!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday, December 19 - Decisions, decisions

We've made an offer on a 3br 2ba double-wide in Parksville, on an acre of flat, fertile land right beside the Salt River. Actually the river rises about 1/2 mile from the place, then flows all across central Kentucky until flowing into the Ohio downstream from Louisville.

The initial offer was rejected so we countered. Hopefully, they'll accept our counter. If not, we'll up it again -- it'll be difficult but we can do it.

We're now renters here, and can't wait to get out, not just because of the cost, but because this deal turned so totally sour, we need to move and start over. But oh, the cardinals and chickadees at the feeder, and the pileated woodpecker excavating the tree stump -- they're SO beautiful. We'll have birds in Parksville though.

The farm pond froze over completely last night, but melted completely today. We finally came to the realization that the pond is a wonderful feature and we have enjoyed it greatly, but that we've really made pets out of the catfish, bass, and bluegills, so it would be difficult to EAT them! How can one eat a pet?

We drove over to Loretto today to the Maker's Mark distillery, where we bought some Christmas presents -- in another week I can tell who got what...but right now that's for Santa to know. It's weird -- the distillery can't sell any of its bourbon because it's in a "dry" county. You can get Maker's Mark almost anywhere else in the country, but not in the county where it's distilled. Kentucky's prohibition laws are a patchwork of local ordinances with virtually no standardization whatsoever. In one county one can buy booze at Rite-Aid, but 5 miles away one can't even order wine with dinner. A golf course can sell beer, but restaurants must earn 70% of their income from food or they can have their liquor license taken away.

Anyway, we drove to Perryville, then on to Springfield (where Lincoln's parents lived and Jefferson Davis went to school), then overland to Loretto (the Catholic center of Kentucky) through some of the most beautiful land in Kentucky. One farm outside Springfield had green grass, black cows all over, and the sun was shining on it. It looked like a picture postcard taken in June -- except that there weren't any leaves on the trees. It was warm enough for us to take our jackets off most of the day which is also weird because friends and family in Maine are suffering through temps in the teens and 20s and experiencing snow.

In fact, that's what's missing. It's the Christmas season and though we expected it would be warmer than Maine, we didn't expect to miss the snow quite as much. Lights, decorations, everyone saying "Merry Christmas" without SNOW! I guess it's all in what you're used to. What the heck, in Australia, Santa arrives in the middle of Summer on a surfboard and people open presents at the beach!

We'll see tomorrow what our offer on the new property brings. It would be SO nice if we could close before Christmas, or at least have a contract to close.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday, December 16 - Packing to move

As I told our realtor yesterday, this "dream house" has turned into a total nightmare. Everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. Right up until the beginning of last week it looked like there was some hope. Not so, so now we live in a house we no longer want to buy, and probably would not take as a gift -- details available to close friends and relatives only.

So after all these months of trying to make it work (we signed the original contract on 30 April - Bless You Melissa for sticking with us), we're moving on. We found three properties which would suit us just fine, and maybe we're rationalizing but all of them are better than here, in many ways. Of course, we'd lose most of our pasture for a lawn, the fish pond for flat garden land, and a log cabin for a conventional looking vinyl-clad house or double-wide. But overall, it's not worth trying to work things out here any more, so we're packing.

On top of all that, the several pipes froze in the Waterville house when the furnace kicked out, and I have a "Merry Christmas" repair bill of $2100.00, with no guarantee that the furnace won't kick out again and do more damage. At least the oil tanks are full. If I put in an insurance claim, the company almost certainly will cancel my insurance. Isn't that fair -- you pay and pay but when you need to get some of it back they drop you like a hot potato! At least the repairs are deductible on my income tax, but in the meantime I still have to pay for them. I've dropped the price from $83,500 to $69,900 and still nothing.

On the bright side -- yes there IS a bright side -- we got a dusting of snow last night (not 8-12 inches), the winds are up (but not 60 mph) and the temps are down to 26 at night (not 0). It's what we in Maine would call a heavy frost. Another good thing though is that the plants we put in the ground can be dug up -- the ground doesn't freeze here -- and be replanted in the new place even in January, with care. The front lawn is still growing when temps get up into the 40s -- and they will be 50+ by Thursday. And the birds are still feeding voraciously! The hawk ON the bird feeder in the picture is probably looking for appetizers!

Just keep reading my blog -- the only thing (I hope) that has changed is that it has become the "View From The Porch" instead, because the places about which we're serious are out of the knobs with its treacherous roads, and actually in the "Bluegrass" farming region and have porches or decks with lawn. If we get our first choice, our mailing address will actually be "Danville, KY" even though we'd live less than a mile from Parksville. And we'd be about 8 miles closer to town (on less curvy, much wider state roads), Burke's Bakery, Centre College, our doctors and dentists, and Wal-Mart (note the ORDER in which I list these notable sites)...

OK, back to uploading cemetery photos, packing, and thinking about friends and family in Maine as an old-fashioned "Nor'easter" blows in.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday, December 14 - Winter Weather

OK, so all the warm weather has gone south. It's about 35 here, a cold wind, and it's damp. Ninety-eight of KY's 120 counties are under flood watch or warning now. People are panicking about 1-3" of snow, though some who have obviously never lived in Maine are looking forward to it.

We have a roaring fire in the fireplace, have seriously begun packing, and gotten rid of all kinds of stuff. I took 5 bags of clothing to the Galilean Children's Home, and 5 boxes of books and videotapes to the Casey County Publich Library. And that's AFTER I went through the stuff before we moved here.

This move will be MUCH easier -- we can move bookcases, then books and put them in the bookcases. No need to pack up every single thing we own.

More details on what house we buy, but we WILL be buying something soon....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday, December 13 - A decision, finally

It looks like we're going to be moving. There are just too many issues on this property -- with two more we found out about yesterday -- someday I'll tell the whole story. Anyway, we terminated our offer on this place and will begin paying rent for the time we remain here, which could be as little as 5 weeks. We're looking at another property only a few miles away, but the current owners will need 30 days to leave after we close. We can close in a week or 10 days, so that's about 40 days before we'll have to begin changign our phone, our email, our snail mail, our driver's licenses, everything we already changed!

I will have to see if I can change the blog to "View From The Back Porch" 'cause the view from the front porch of any of the places we're interested in isn't that great, but the view from the back on two is quite nice.

It's been raining here for about 6 days now -- I'd guess about 8 inches of rain total, and now we know what a "flash flood" is. The culvert is washing out, and won't stand another heavy rain. That will be ONE condition on which we will pay rent -- that the owner will maintain the culvert so we can get in and out.

The good news is the temperatures -- mostly in the upper 50 to upper 60 range days, and in the 40's and 50's at night -- though that will change tonight. Highs next Wednesday will be around 28! A winter storm watch is in effect for northern KY -- 1-3 inches! It may even snow here again. We'll see.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday, December 10 - A Decision To Be Made

We looked at 4 houses today, all within the same housing development. Two we like and two we didn't. Three more on Wednesday.

When we got home, we got one more surprise that made up our mind. Our driveway is eroding away due to the 4 days of rain we've had here. We can't, nor do we want to, maintain a road we don't own -- and money is an issue as we're both on fixed incomes now -- temps are in the 50s and 60s -- thank goodness it's NOT snow!

Anyway, this is the last straw. We called our agent, Melissa Bibb, of Prudential Guerrant Real Estate -- she's one HELLOVA realtor, and I can't recommend her any higher -- she is THE BEST!!! Told her to get us out of here as soon as possible.

Called Jesse Johnson, of Farm Credit, who has stood behind us 100% protecting our interests, and told him not to do a DNR (do not recusitate) on this place 'cause it ain't gonna get any better.

We're ready to move now. All we need is the boxes and the will, and a place to go.

The blog will continue -- but will probably be called "View from the Bluegrass" instead.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Saturday, December 8 - Packing and Getting Away

There won't be many more entries to "View From The Front Porch." The closing on the house here almost certainly won't happen now, so Barry and I are beginning to pack glassware, going through clothes and books to cull what we don't want or need (or what won't fit any more -- Barry is SUCH a good cook, a third of my shirts won't button now).

We spent yesterday driving around the Danville-Lancaster area looking for houses, and we have found 10 or 11 that would suit our needs and our price range, and psychologically, we are prepared to move. It's going to be easier this time, as we can make many trips instead of one, and we won't be moving far. At least 5 of the houses are within 5 miles of here, with the most distant about 20. All are out of "The Knobs" which is good, because we would always wonder, "what if" as long as we stayed in the Knobs.

Of course, there will be changes in mailing addresses, telephone numbers, utilities (maybe we can keep Intercounty Electric, or maybe we'll find a cheaper provider), new drivers' licenses and registrations, etc. Hopefully we'll keep Windstream for the phone, internet and satellite - they're a great company with which to deal. It will be a pain, but we've done it before and we'll do it again.

Althought this place is - or was - perfect for us, we're rationalizing now, normal reaction, I guess. The back lawn is on a gully which may slide into the valley within the next few years. The fish pond, which we love, may become more work and more expense than we want to deal with. The electric furnace is expensive to run even with the cheap cost of electricity here. The erosion issue, which we can probably correct, will take time, work and money. The house needs staining and waterproofing all around -- whether we do it or someone else does, if something isn't done soon, the carpenter bees will have eaten all the siding.

Anyway, we're getting away for the weekend -- going up to Lexington, staying overnight, just to take a break.

The birds we will miss. We probably won't see some of the species out in the flatland that we see here, and that's sad -- though we have enjoyed the pileated woodpecker and half a dozen cardinals, yellow-bellied-sapsuckers, nuthatches, Carolina chickadees, etc. But, we'll find birds to enjoy wherever we move.

Most of the places we have looked at have enough land to have a good-sized garden, and have what appears to be good soil. Several have garages and/or storage buildings, and enough lawn to need the riding ower. All have heat pumps -- we won't consider one without that source of heat and A/C. Many of the places are stick-built rather than double-wides, and that will make a difference in house insurance costs. Most are nearer a fire department than we are here, which will also cost less in insurance as well. The Brush Creek Voluneer FD is abaout 15 miles away over back roads! And since we won't be buying the shed here, we'll have extra money to put into the purchase price of the new house.

As far as the Waterville house is concerned, there's good news and bad news. I have a showing Sunday, and I told my realtor, Paul Bard, of Century-21 Surette, what my bottom line is -- basically I'll take about ANYTHING for it just to get rid of it. That's the good news.

The bad news -- the furnace quit in nearly 0 temperatures, and one (maybe two) of the baseboards has frozen, requiring a plumber to come out at 9PM to deal with it -- which Paul is handling for me. The plumber was there all day yesterday, and I can't wait to see the bill! Barry's daughter, Karen, drove by the place to check on it, and noticed the light attached to the thermal timer was on. That means the temps were under 45 in the house -- she called in a panic thinking someone was in the house. Thank goodness she did, or the damage would have been MUCH worse! Karen, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Paul Bard -- THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

The oil tanks are full, so I probably won't have to buy oil very much. Plus if the place sells (YES, PLEASE, MAKE IT SELL) I can sell whatever oil is left.

OK, got to get back to going through clothes, and checking out a couple of more houses. I'll keep writing the "View From The Front Porch" as long as I have an internet connection and we're living here. What will I call the blog after we move? Any ideas?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Wednesday, December 5 - Ups and Downs

Today has been a day of ups and downs.

Temps were up today to about 47, now they're down, and we have snow. It has been extremely windy and with temps around 32, the wind chill is in the low 20s. The roofs of nearby houses are white -- it looks like frost. Good news though -- by the weekend it will be up into the 60 degree range. Icing on the roads tonight (rain earlier has frozen on) makes travel dangerous, but we don't have to go anywhere until tomorrow morning when we go up to Frankfort to pick up Barry's car from the collision repair shop. We've been driving around a 2007 PT Cruiser -- wonderful handling car, solid as a rock, and fun to drive. But tomorrow we return to reality.

The closing on the house moved even closer today, then we got the news that our plan would not fly with our morgage company's lawyer. Up and down. NO, we haven't closed yet, and now it really looks like we're not going to -- we're almost out of options, and it's not looking good. We do have a list of about 20 other properties in the area that we are going to start looking at, and tomorrow after we get back from Frankfort, we're going to begin packing to move. We have no idea where we will be a month from now, but the handwriting is on the wall -- it probably won't be Butchertown.

Now the bittersweet -- our neighbor, Joann, brought us up some home-baked goodies. She probably thinks we own the house. It will be painful leaving nice folks like those we've met here -- Larry and Joann, Ron and Thelma, Laura, Herschel, Frank and Rita, Steve, Mike and Shirley, and all the others on Butchertown Road whose real names we may not even know -- like "Mutt" for example.

The View from the Front Porch may become the "Glimpse from the Housing Development" -- I have no idea. But I will continue to write.

When this is all over and we are finally settled -- SOMEWHERE, I will probably email close friends with all the problems we've had trying to buy our "dream house." I have kept a list of occurences that have postponed the closing repeatedly. But the people we've met have always been friendly and helpful. The situation stinks, but whomever buys this house will have wonderful neighbors. And well-trained fish in the pond.

Forgive me if I seem down -- overall it has NOT been a good day, but there is always tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tuesday, December 4 - Winter Storm Warning

Yup, these people think they're in the midst of winter. We may get an inch overnight and tomorrow -- but it should melt during the day, and temps will be back up to 55 by the weekend. The other day, Barry walked the 1/4 mile to the mailbox wearing shorts and a tee-shirt. The neighbor, clad in two sweatshirts, hat and gloves, said "You really ARE from Maine, aren't you?"

Seriously though, this is one of the reasons we moved here. Even though it was colder here than in Maine this morning (got down to 18 here), as Clif H. in Waterville told me on the phone, we don't have to shovel "cold". We watched the storm in Maine Monday and today, but there wasn't much coverage about Maine down here -- they focused on New York instead.

So as we hunker down tonight with plenty of kerosene for the heater, wood for the fireplace, and hot chocolate for our tummies ... we'll be thinking of friends and family shoveling out from one of what we hope will NOT be many snowstorms back home.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sunday, December 2 - Catching up with some photos

We put up our bird feeder. Among our first visitors were these cardinals.

Notice how the cat has found a warm spot -- he finds the sunny spots during the day, and the fireplace hearth at night. When we moved here, he lost a great deal of fur in the 100+ degree heat, so he's COLD now.

We got up the Christmas decorations right after Thanksgiving -- super early but they're done so we can enjoy them now. We had to use an artificial tree with all new ornaments and lights as our big box of decorations is still in Maine.

Anyway, the cat seems to like what we've done. We lit up the holly bush on the front lawn, and have a string of lights along the front porch.

The fireplace has also become a focal point. With candles, a nice warm fire, and mini-lights among the greenery on the mantle, we're setting a nice scene here. Add a cup of hot chocolate, nice music, and we're all set.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturday, December 1 - Comparisons

As I look at the weather forecast in Maine, and read Shirley's email, I'm sure we made the right decision to move here. Today, after we got back from shopping, I actually mowed the front lawn. For goodness' sake, it's DECEMBER! Shirley writes that it's 15 degrees with 60 mile gusts in Waterford! Our ROSES are still growing here! You guys are supposed to get a mess Sunday and Monday -- people here are shivering at 30 degrees!

We've started feeding the birds, not that they need it, as there are still plenty of easy food sources, but later this winter (IF it snows), that may not be the case. What a pleasure to see chickadees hanging upside down on the bird feeder!

The fireplace, supplemented occasionally by the kerosene heater, is keeping us nice and warm. With the cost of the electric furnace (I thought we had a heat pump but we don't) we do need to keep the light bill down, though it's still better than paying for heating oil. The sun, when it's out, is warming, as we're 10 degrees closer to the Equator, so the sun is higher up in the sky even in the dead of winter. That's got to be one reason for the warmer temps here.

Now don't hold your breath, 'cause things can go wrong (as we've found out many times down here), but keep your fingers crossed for a major event for us on Tuesday! More later, IF it actually happens.