Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The "M" word

It looks like we're moving. This does not fill me with joy. There are few things I despise more than moving. I'd make a terrible nomad.

No, I haven't gotten a new job or anything drastic. We're staying in the New Braunfels area. We're just selling and leaving the house we've lived in for the past 11 years. We like this house quite a bit. We've put our stamp on it. I love my office with ceiling-to-floor bookshelves I built myself. I'll miss the wine rack I built in the kitchen. And I'll really, really, really miss the pecan, pear, peach, plum, pomegranate and fig trees I planted in the yard and are only this year all producing mature crops of fruit and nuts, for the first time in the 10 years I've grown them. I'll also miss the passion vines (and passion fruit) and grape vines I've been growing for 10 years now. Now I'll have to start over from scratch, and wait another 10 years for all my plantings to mature. Moving really, really sucks.

But you know what sucks even worse? Neighbors. Neighbors who refuse to weather-treat their side of the privacy fence, so that it rots through from their side. Neighbors who let their dogs rip the fence apart so they can get into our yard and wreak havoc. Neighbors who constantly park in front of our house, blocking our mail box so that the post office refuses to deliver. Neighbors who throw raucous parties every other weekend that last until 3 a.m. Neighbors who laugh you off when you politely--or even not-so-politely--complain about these acts of inconsideration. You know what also sucks worse? An HOA run by a corrupt property management company that continually raises HOA fees and provides absolutely nothing in return for it. Public areas of our neighborhood are a disaster. Fences falling down. Fences unpainted and rotting. No parks, no playgrounds, no club house, no pool. Absolutely nothing that other HOAs with far lower fees take for granted. Pockets are being lined, and lined lavishly. From the full-throated defense of this property management company from our HOA board, someone's getting kickbacks as well.

The final straw came the day before we left for vacation last month. When the city passed an ordinance last year permitting homeowners to keep a certain number of backyard chickens within city limits, I picked up some chicks from the local feed supply. I grew up with chickens, as did The Wife, and we wanted our kids to have the experience of gathering fresh eggs. They raised those chickens from hatchlings. Those chickens were outright pets, following people around, looking for attention. Whenever we took table scraps out for the beagles, the chickens muscled right up in there amongst our dogs to claim their share. So when we got home from a wedding to discover the neighbor's dogs had once again broken through the fence to get into our yard, killing all of our chickens and leaving a horrible, feather-strewn mess to traumatize our kids, I'd had enough. So had The Wife. We're moving.

Our next home will be in the country, with some amount of acreage to buffer us from any neighbors. I'll have a shotgun to deal with any feral dogs or coyotes that choose to violate our property with their presence. The girls can finally have that horse they've pined for all these years. I'll re-plant my orchard, bigger this time, and include jujubes and avocados and mandarins and loquats, if only to break up the number of fruit trees starting with the letter "P." The Wife will get a full-blown photo studio--we'll build one from the ground up if we can't find a property with a barn or workshop or such that's suitable for conversion. We'll also do some landscaping to support her studio work, and have the most obnoxiously dense field of bluebonnets Texas has ever seen.

The trouble is, while The Wife and I are doing better financially than we ever have and have paid down our debt significantly, we still can't carry two mortgages. We have to sell our current house in order to finance the new one, which obviously puts us in the untenable position of being homeless if we can't find a suitable new home and close on it within a few days of selling. That's not likely (as we hate moving, this new place better be as close to perfect as it can be. We're not settling for "meh") so we're looking at short-term rentals, and that is no fun, either. It'll work out in the end, somehow.

So where does that leave us? Packing. We're boxing and boxing and boxing. Well, The Wife is boxing. I'm mostly hauling and stacking. We've rented a big storage locker and are doing our darnedest to fill it. It's amazing how densely we've lived in this house, expanding to fill every nook and cranny. But cozy and comfortable to us is cluttered and cramped to potential buyers. We're emptying the house with an eye towards showing staring in September, and already the results are impressive. I haven't started on my office yet--boxing all my books is a daunting task, and I swear one box of books from our previous move (with some of my Greg Egan collection) has yet to turn up. My 18" Bill The Cat doll vanished during the last move as well. And the disruption of the move comes right as I'm back to seriously working on Sailing Venus. Conducive to writing the moving stuff is not.

It's all for the best, I keep telling myself. I hope so, because it's too damn much work for a lateral move.

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Oakland 1977
Chicken Ranch Central

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