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Gazing into the Abyss: Michael Rawdon's Journal



Well, it took a while, but I made it! I own my own home, and I'm pretty much moved in. (It's all over but the unpacking.)

I closed escrow on Friday the 16th in the morning, which basically means that my mortgage was funded, the transfer of title was recorded by the city, and I got the keys. Debbi and I went over that evening to check out the place (she'd only seen it once up 'til then), and we met the sellers (actually, I'd met them before, briefly) who were finishing their clean-up. Then we headed back to my place to finish packing.

Debbi was a great help with the packing, especially the kitchen which she mostly handled on her own. It would have been wa-a-ay more work without her help. Plus she helped me not forget things, which I have a tendency to do at times. (The photo to the right is of nearly all the boxes we packed - and quite a bit of my furniture - stacked and piled in the living room of my apartment.)

The movers came last Saturday. There was a bit of a mix-up, and two moving vans and their crews arrived at 9 am. It turns out (I think) that the first time I called, they'd subcontracted the job out, and when I called a week later to confirm that they'd be coming, they didn't have me in their records, and ended up sending out a second van. (It's a little more complicated than that, but that's a gist. Basically, I think some records got misplaced along the way.) Anyway, one of the vans had another job several hours away that day, so they let the other van handle me and they headed off to that job, so everything worked out.

The moving went smoothly: It took about five-and-a-half hours from first box out to last box in, which was somewhat longer (and therefore somewhat more expensive) than expected, but still I think worth it. I had about 100 boxes plus furniture, all together, about half of the boxes being books. As far as I've been able to tell nothing got damaged except for a few minors pieces which I didn't pack very well. But nothing to be concerned about (I'm not).

Debbi decided to unpack the kitchen after the move while I drove down to pick up a few last things, as well as the cats. We'd put the cats in my bathroom for the move, and then let them out in the bedroom when it was empty. They meowed regularly, but seemed to take it pretty well. Jefferson struggled a little when I put him in his carrying case, but all-in-all I think they trusted me.

At the new place they spent the first day checking everything out, usually with their bellies low to the ground and their tails down, but Newton warmed up to everything very quickly, and even Jefferson is doing much better than I'd expected. When I last moved he spent most of the next two weeks under the bed or behind the futon, and now he's spending a lot of time out in the open checking things out or socializing.

And the house has lot for them to see: The back patio, the back porch, and upstairs windows looking out on the street (one of which is at cat height!), and something they've never had before while with me: Stairs! Newton's enjoying running up and down the stairs, and there's a landing halfway up where he can sit and look down on the living room. What more could a kitty ask for?

We got the bedroom in good enough shape that night to sleep in, and the cats snoozed with us for much of the night. We got up around 2 am to watch the Leonid meteor shower from my back porch. We saw maybe a meteor a minute for half an hour, which seems pretty good given that I live near the middle of an urban area. A nice bonus to the end of a very long day.


I've spent most of the last week gradually unpacking, of course. All my clothes are put away, I put my games in my study closet. The computer got set up eventually. And last Tuesday I put out my fiction, both hardcover and paperback. I got cable TV today and put out my CDs as well.

What's left are basically books for my study, videotapes, and comic books. Plus assorted office junk which I need to figure out how to arrange.

My townhouse came with an oven, stove, microwave, refrigerator, dishwasher, washer-dryer, pond-and-pump on the patio, and a garage with a garage door opener.

I tested the washer and dryer almost immediately, and they work great! We've also tested all the bathroom fixtures by this point. Of course, stuff like the bathrooms were tested in the inspection, but it's good to have really used them.

The sellers had kept their garage packed with stuff for several years, so I need to get new batteries for the opener remotes, but they both seem to work. I'm working on getting it arranged enough to keep my car in there. It's pretty deep so there's plenty of space for storage and the car.

Debbi took a photo of me in front of my car in the driveway in front of my house, and it's up there on the left. You can see the nifty staggered layout of the units and the green space in front of the building. The seller's agent's "SOLD" sign is on the right. I have several photos of me next to the sold sign, too.

Debbi had a yen to make Thanksgiving dinner this year, so she tested out my kitchen pretty rigorously, making turkey, gravy, a casserole, mashed potatoes and stuffing, as well as washing the dishes in the dishwasher. We even had a mishap with potato skins clogging the drain, and she figured out how to access the drain and clear the clog. She's an industrious one! Subrata and his girlfriend Susan came over for dinner, brought some wine and a pie, and we all got really stuffed by the end of the day.

The part I haven't quite figured out yet is the pond. It seems to have its own plant ecosystem, and even has minnows and goldfish in it. The seller said he'd send me e-mail at some point with some tips on the place and how to take care of the pond, but I haven't heard from him yet. There are some deciduous trees above it which are dropping their leaves into the patio and the pond, and it seems like it can't be something I should just leave like that: a whole bunch of leaves in the pond. So I bought a small rake and today started fishing out leaves, but it's a real pain to do so while being careful not to fish out plants that are supposed to be there. So I suspect that either (1) The seller had some better tool for fishing out leaves, or (2) I'm not supposed to fish them out, but instead leave them in there to decay.

If anyone knows anything about taking care of such a pond, I'd appreciate some pointers. It's a small pond - maybe 3 or 4 feet in diameter - and I'm not sure how deep it is, but probably only a foot or two. I figure I should run the pump periodically to keep the water from stagnating. Beyond that, though, I'm not sure what to do.


The living room and bedroom are pretty much set up at this point. The study needs to work, but it's clear that it's going to feel pretty empty even after being unpacked. This place is 50% bigger than my old place, after all! But Debbi keeps emphasizing that I don't need to fill all the space. Still, I might do something like get an oriental rug for the hardwood floor in the study.

I've put the screen doors back on the sliding glass doors to the porch and patio - the seller had taken them off a decade ago. They still work, but I put new screens on them, and the patio door's lock is rather finicky, so I might replace the door sometime.

But I'm very nearly moved in, and I'm starting to think of other things I could use: Nice patio furniture, for instance. But there's no rush to get that stuff. In fact, looking at various stores until I find just what I want (or, rather, figure out what I want) is probably the way to go. It's going to be rainy here for the next few months anyway.

So that's what I've been up to for the last week and a half. But things are getting back to normal.

I have to say, though, that what I like most about the place so far is the location. It's much easier to get to work (I'm no longer commuting with the rush hour traffic; I go in the other direction), and I'm much closer to many stores and friends that I'm likely to go to. That's just great.

I feel like after 3 years in California, I've finally come home.

But ask me how I feel after I get my first mortgage bill!

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