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Oh Poop

Oct. 17th, 2016 07:51 pm
dawn_felagund: (alex eek)
I never thought I could use an icon with that poop emoji that people have a bizarre attachment to.

Friday night at about 1 AM, Bobby and I were rudely awakened by a screeching-blaring sound coming from the direction of our storage freezer and washer/dryer, which are tucked behind a curtain in the kitchen. We initially thought the sound was coming from the freezer, but after dragging the freezer out into the kitchen, we discovered it was the septic tank alarm. Uh oh! It was screaming its little head off and the warning light was lit up red.

I've lived in a home with a septic tank for all of my life except for the three years that I lived in an apartment in Ellicott City and had sewer like normal people. But we were both at a loss as to what the alarm means. Bobby got it shut off and we returned to bed, where he perused his iPad to discover the myriad things both silly and serious it could be, and first thing in the morning, he called the septic guy who did the inspection. He came out for an emergency call but couldn't tell us much on the spot except that we weren't in immediate danger of coming home to a bathtub full of poop.

The septic guy came back today, and we have a better idea of what is wrong without having a full notion yet of what it will cost to fix. The electrical box was foolishly placed in the tank itself--apparently a common practice when our house was built ... erm, delivered (since we live in a single-wide! *banjos!*)--and not surprisingly got wet and all the wires burned up. Which is scary but also kind of cool: We likely had an underground poop fire in our yard! If there was a way to make the concept of Silent Hill more horrifying, there it is. Anyway, since there is no wiring, then the pump is not working. What we're still not sure about is if and how damaged the pump is and what it will cost to fix/replace if it is. If the pump is fine, the repair will be a few hundred dollars. If the pump needs to be replaced, it will be a few thousand. Eep.

It stinks (DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE) but it could have been worse. It could have happened over Thanksgiving weekend when we had a house full of people. It could have happened in the middle of winter. The alarm might not have worked and we would have literally had poop coming out in our backyard, which is full of poop enough thanks to the Goldens. (More good news from Brian the Poop Guy: If our tank were to overflow, it would go into the backyard before it backed up into the house. Yay?) We can weather the cost, even if it means we'll be eating home a lot more in the weeks to come. Until everything is sorted, we have to be careful with our water usage. The septic guy is coming back tomorrow with the plumber and electrician: a whole poop-tank team! Now let's hope we don't get any crappy news ...
Our primary source of heating in our new house is a wood pellet stove. Back in Maryland, we had a woodstove in the basement and electric baseboard heat upstairs that we resisted turning on as long as possible because it was so expensive. The woodstove, on the other hand, was wonderful, and we used it as much as we could. However, it took a while to start it, and it was messy, producing a lot of brown ash that would cover everything in the house.

The pellet stove, on the other hand, starts with the push of a button and does not seem to be nearly as messy. We've had it on three times now--temperatures were in the upper 20sF/-3C a couple nights this week--and it made the house a little TOO hot! But since we live in an area where it is not uncommon to have temperatures as low as -30F/-34C, then we will be grateful for it in short order, I suspect!

Midway through the summer, Tractor Supply Company had a great pre-sale on wood pellets, so based on the usage of the previous owners (who used the pellet stove as their primary heating source as we intend to do; we have a kerosene backup), we ordered three tons (2.7 metric tons). This weekend, they were delivered, and the entire weekend was blocked off on our calendar for transporting them from the TSC in Derby--which is about twenty minutes away--to our house.

We have a little cart for our Subaru, and using that, it took three trips and about three hours to move all three tons of wood pellets. We put about 2.5 tons in our new barn and about a half ton in the log cabin shed alongside our house. Let me tell you, moving three tons of wood pellets is hard work! They come in 40 lb/18 kg bags. A 40-lb bag is not difficult for me to lift and carry, but repeated 150 times with much bending and lifting was rough! By the end of the third round, my poor little forearms were DONE. Bobby drove the Subaru down to the barn and was carrying the bags from the cart to the barn, where I waited with outstretched arms for him to dump the bag onto them, which I would carry into the barn and add to the pile. One of the last ones he plopped entirely on my forearms, and I barely made it! He was complaining of fatigue, and I wanted to say, "Imagine how I feel!" I have above average upper-body strength for a woman, but really.

Well, it's done now. My upper arms and shoulders ached something fierce this morning, so we went hiking on Mount Hor to keep me from stiffening up and so I could enjoy a dose of pain-fighting endorphins. Also because the views were going to be amazingly gorgeous.

I have a ton of photos to post from a stroll along River Road last week for the peak leaf weekend, and a hike along the ridge at Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest mountain. Honestly, I have been completely lost in this story I am writing based on the Scottish folk song "Tamlin." I am hoping to have it done in time to post it for Halloween at this point; it is much longer than I expected, in a large part because my first attempt at it was not as character-based as I like my writing to be, and characterization eats a lot of pages, at least how I do it. But when I'm on the computer, I don't want to be doing anything but working on this story. I stayed up till 1:30 last night with it.

I'll try to get those other pictures posted soon, but Mount Hor is going to jump to the head of the line. It was a gorgeous day: sunny and mild. Last weekend was the peak for the leaves, but as you will see, the leaves are still pretty spectacular!

Willoughby Gap Just after Peak Weekend )
As seen at Oshun and Rhapsody ...

A clean house is a sign of a wasted life ... )
Back when we had The Great Flood this past fall, my study became one of the places where things were put because there was nowhere else to put them. Our house is not huge--just big enough for the two of us--and losing the basement meant losing half of our living space, so we had stuff crammed everywhere. The study is already repurposed occasionally for things like storing tender potted plants in the winter and starting seeds in the spring (Bobby moved this setup to the basement this spring, thank goodness) so that makes things more chaotic. And it's not exactly as though I've had founts of free time this winter to get things in order. Plus--I have to give credit where it's due--I'm not exactly a neat person; I'm prone to collecting a dozen books for a project I'm researching and scattering them around myself and never bothering to put them back when I'm done with them, even if "back" is just on the shelf over my desk. Minute, multi-colored trees also shudder at the sound of my name because the organization of my life is almost entirely predicated on colorful sticky notes. I don't throw these away either when I'm done with them, so they litter the tops of the books piled around me.

Last week, I came into the study to turn on the computer, and I heard a creaking-groaning sound from the bookshelf in the corner and looked over to discover that it was buckling! It was just a cheap thing from Target and held some pretty heavy volumes--a lot of textbooks and literature anthologies--and it was buckling to one side and would have been a disaster, had it actually collapsed, given the mess in the study plus the addition of a couple hundred ponderous books. Bobby and I, thankfully, managed to get all the books off on time and stacked in what few square feet of floor space remained.

This Saturday, we tackled cleaning the study. It was not only disorganized but quite dirty: two humans, two hairy dogs, and a woodstove make quite a dirty mess. Bobby said he was starting to worry that it was becoming a health hazard. It took us most of the afternoon, but we got it cleared out and cleaned out. I found stuff like our power converter that we couldn't find when we looked for it before our trip to England. There are actually cleared surfaces just begging to be covered with BOOKS! and enough floor that I could do a pretty elaborate dance if I wanted to. I think this was the last frontier after The Great Flood, and it is now conquered. I still need to tackle my file drawer, but that task pre-dated The Great Flood.

Right now, I so love my tidy, unchaotic study that I can't imagine letting it get messy again, but I always say that. Maybe I can hold out this time. Maybe I'll reread this post occasionally as a reminder to take a few minutes each week to at least recycle/compost old papers and put away the books I've taken down from the shelves.

Meanwhile, it is that wonderful time of the year for fresh, local--including homegrown--food. We have lettuces, carrots, and green onions from our garden. For the first time ever, our peach and apple trees look like they're going to produce fruit (although probably too small to be edible, since the apple tree only grew taller than me last year and the peach tree still only comes to shoulder-height); both have the most adorable tiny fruits growing on them. Bobby's been outdoing himself in terms of meals; last night, he made garlic almond asparagus and roasted root veggies that included Jerusalem artichokes, carrots from the garden, and onions. Then he made chocolate-iced brownies for a snack during Game of Thrones. *dies from bliss* We're planting Jerusalem artichokes this year for the first time, as well as adding tarragon and cumin to the herb garden.
In other words, the basement's back!

The painting and flooring were finished by the end of last week. Bobby started moving stuff back downstairs last weekend, and the storage pod in our driveway was picked up today, so everything's back in the house, although not everything's put together/away yet. However, while my parents and sis-in-law Erin were over last weekend, we did get all the furniture and TV carried back downstairs, so we have our living space back again! Huzzah!

Bobby had an art class last night, so we ate an early supper then, like Hobbits, a second supper later when he got home. Then we went downstairs, put on Ghosthunters, and I fell asleep on the couch with Bobby on one side, Alex on the other. It was bliss.

The contractor is still working on repairing the pump attached to the sink in the laundry room and finishing the stairs. We decided not to replace the carpet, so the lovely hardwood steps under the carpet have to be sanded and finished. Everything looks really good. Once it's all finished, I'll post pictures.

The flood was two months and 10 days ago today.
Those of you who have met me in Real Lifetm and remember when my hair was down to my bum--it is no longer. It was so dry and damaged that it was actually losing length; it had shortened from bum-length to reaching the small of my back without any effort from me. The ends were so split that, whenever I'd brush it, my hair would break off. Ugh. Since it was going to shorten itself anyway, then my mom cut it past the point where it was damaged, which was 5 inches (13 cm). I've been avoiding this for months now but finally agreed to it yesterday. So my hair certainly isn't short, but it's short for me. It reaches the middle of my back now. I'm hoping it grows back fast! It feels wrong to have hair this short.

The basement situation is progressing. Dispatches from Our Own Personal Swamp )
The Hell is, thankfully, at bay for the moment, but the high water is here with a vengeance.

As reported in my last post, our bedroom ceiling is leaking profusely--I just counted 11 pots and plastic tubs arranged to catch the leaks--so we planned to spend the night down in the basement. A little after midnight, I woke up because Bobby had turned on the lights in the basement hallway. I asked what was going on, and he said he thought he'd found another leak because the carpet was wet.

Turns out it was worse. Much worse. )
This past weekend, I disconnected from my computer (mostly) and Bobby and I spent the weekend planting and getting our gardens ready. As a wee lass growing up, I loved to play outside and play in the dirt. I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed it; even better than that, it meant that Bobby and I got to spend the entire day together interacting rather than sitting back to back in a silent room on our respective computers.

We knew, going into the weekend, that we wanted to take one of our flowerbeds and use retaining walls stones (for lack of a better word) to create a low wall and raise and even out the ground behind it a bit. I've always loved gardens where there are multiple tiers versus everything on a single flat surface, and Bobby was right with me.

We bought our stones at Lowe's and (literally) about a half-ton of dirt and got to work. We were really pleased with the final product. Then I suggested, off the cuff, partitioning a bit of it off even further and raising it another level so we basically have a flowerbed with three different levels. We had a couple of extra stones, so I laid out what I meant, and Bobby's eyes lit up, and we were back off to Lowe's to get enough stones to finish it.

Our next-door neighbor Bob, seeing us working outside, was over in our yard a couple of times to, as he put it, observe productive people. Now Bob is an awesome gardener. My cousin Jamie compares his backyard to Narnia. After we finished our little stone structure, he came wandering back over, took one look, and exclaimed, "Wow!" I think we really surprised him!

It looks awesome.

Of course, a couple stone walls and a bunch of dirt isn't much fun. So what's going in there? We've planted a butterfly and hummingbird garden there. I think it'll look really cool once everything has grown, which will probably take awhile.

(No pictures until there are some plants in it as, now, it is just a fancy receptacle for dirt!)

Something else cool: Bobby and I started ballroom dancing lessons last night, beginning with the waltz.

It started because someone suggested to Bobby and our friend Patrick that heavy fighters really benefit from learning salsa dancing. So Bobby looked into salsa dancing lessons and found a whole lot of schools in our area that teach all sorts of dance. Turns out that learning to really dance is something that he's always wanted to learn to do (heavy fighting aside). We're registered for salsa classes, but then there was a chance that they'd be canceled, so Bobby also registered us for waltz.

We were easily the youngest couple there. (There was another woman there possibly younger than me or around the same age, but she was there with an older guy, I think her dad.) The instructor started having us listen for the waltz beat. Easy ... I've been playing music since I was a kid, and Bobby's a percussionist. Then we marched in place to the beat. Then we marched to the beat and turned in place at the same time. Then we learned the box step individually, ladies and gents separately. Finally, we partnered up and put it all together.

After a forty-five minute class, Bobby and I were competently waltzing around in a circle! And we had a great time!

Then we came home and waltzed some more on our back patio.

At one point, the instructor had us count out loud while we danced. Well, we got pretty tired of one-two-three one-two-three, so we started making up other three-beat counts: one-two three, Elves-are-cool, one-two-three, leaf-shaped-ears, cracking up all the while. And we were no sooner in the car after class and I was suggesting practicing to Nox Arcana's "Crystal Forest," which is a waltz (but too fast for us as utter newbies). I guess once a nerd, always a nerd.

And Bobby just got word that salsa class is on, so it looks like we'll be taking salsa and waltz simultaneously. That's not a bad thing. We had so much fun (Elves aside!) and it's really good exercise.
On Saturday, Bobby and I hosted a Haunted Housewarming Party for our friends and family to come visit our new home. I asked our guests to forgo the obligatory gift and potluck meal in favor of procuring--and wearing--a Halloween costume. (Well, we "allowed" our parents and Mom-Mom to help us this time with the food ... but no one else! *foot down* Though Aunt Lois brought a vegetable tray anyway.) Bobby and I tried for meals easy to serve to a group, but we also tried to include a few seasonal and traditional specialties.

Anyway, we had a great time. And since I know that there are many of you who would have liked to have been at the party--and indeed, were there in spirit--then I offer a virtual housewarming party for those who couldn't attend, be it because of prior obligations or because we live an ocean apart. As with our "in-person" guests, I ask you to bring nothing but a penchant for a good time and a sense of humor.

So if you'd like to visit the House of Felagund for a while, don your mask and costume and follow me right this way ...

You Are Cordially Invited to a Haunted Housewarming Party )
For anyone who has missed my obsessive presence online for the past three months, be comforted that the DSL will be installed on Thursday. Of course, I'm leaving that night for Ocean City, but normalcy should return beginning next Monday.

The Ballad of the Hardwood Floors )
Here begins the first LiveJournal entry from the new house in Manchester!

It's a beautiful day right now, in the low-80s Fahrenheit and quiet ... except for birds chirping, the wind blowing through the trees, and my windchimes tinkling behind me. Which are all sounds that I like to hear (versus traffic and sirens and other various human-caused hullabaloo). I am sitting outside in our grove of trees and happy as the proverbial pig in the proverbial slop.

No, I don't have Internet yet. Apparently, I have a neighbor with an unsecured wireless network. \o/ Okay, yes, I am a bad 'gund, but we all knew that, right? I have been one week without getting on the computer at all. Okay, well, yesterday I went to Panera Bread to use their wireless to upload some stuff for SWG, but that's been it.

Verizon has turned out to be just as comcastic as Comcast or possibly more so. Which I never thought I'd say. At least, this is my first impression judging by the fact that

  1. They require a credit check in order to sign on for their service. A credit check?? And because we were, like, in the process of getting a mortgage and, like, and were advised not to do anything with our credit including having all and sundry run credit checks on us (and Verizon and Ye Flist will be pleased to know that the House of Felagund has excellent credit on account of that whole tendency of Felagundish people to horde riches), then we couldn't start the process of getting the phone/Internet/satellite TV hooked up until after settlement. WTF?!?!
  2. So first thing Saturday morning, Bobby calls to schedule the installation for the aforementioned services. Only they are closed on weekends. Who the hell is closed on weekends these days? Why can't I be closed on weekends?
  3. So he calls first thing Monday. They've already effed up our telephone service; the phone guy was out yesterday but couldn't finish the job because the main office screwed up something.
  4. Aaaaaand, here's the kicker: They will not be out to install the Internet until July 18. Yes, July $%#&ing 18th!!! I think the satellite TV won't be until the 19th, but I don't give a crap about TV. Anyway, when I heard this, I started to go into delirium tremens from lack of Internet. They were going to get an earful from one angry 'gund until I discovered the neighbor with wireless. Just as long as I can get enough of a signal to upload pages to the SWG homepage and check the LiveJournal (all the rest can be handled at work, where such things are supposed to be done, of course), then I'm happy. I just really don't want/need the stress right now of trying to run an online group without being able to get online except by the good graces of the folks at the local Panera Bread.
So, Internet woes aside ... the house.

It's was very dirty (very, very) and in need of some serious TLC, but in the past week, we have made huge strides, and we love it. I am not kidding when I say that this area is beautiful to the point that I drive around and cannot believe that I live here. It's all farmland, gently rolling hills, and at the end of our street is a view straight west to the foot of the Appalachian Mountains.

Alex loves his backyard. It's hard to get him to come in. Our families came over for the first five days to help with cleaning, painting, and other fun things (like picking minute flecks of paint off the hardwood floors ... but more on that later), and he was out in the yard pretty much from the moment we'd get up around eight until everyone went home around eleven. The only time he was inside was when we went out to get food and, trust me, only then reluctantly.

Tonight, Bobby and I are going to the Manchester Volunteer Fire Department's carnival. We'd intended to go yesterday, but it rained all day, so we ended up running around to all corners of Maryland (okay, really only Westminster and White Marsh) to buy furniture for my study and other random items that apparently one needs when buying a new house.

Now, I am nearly out of juice on my laptop battery; Pengolodh Lord of Gondolin is still feeling drained from yesterday's excursion to Panera. So I shall sign off for now but will be back later for myriad tales along the lines of The Jimmy Buffett Debacle, The Ballad of the Hardwood Floors, and Thou Shalt Not Buy The 'gund Lotion. Evah. Again.
Sob Story )

Sob story aside, those of you have my email (or want my email) in your address book: please change it to The Comcast account will remain active for a week, and once it's deactivated, I'm going to ask my dad to create an account with the same name (DawnFelagund) and have it auto-forward to my Gmail account so that people who don't know to send to the new address won't be frozen out.

Stoopid Comcast.
Yes, More Rambling about the House )
For the record, Bart Simpson Road is what we call the house in Manchester. It's really not on a street called Bart Simpson Road, but the name is similar, and it makes for an easy nickname to remember it by.

Bad News, Good News, Best News! )
I'm treating myself to an LJ entry. I really don't have time; I have tons to do for SWG before Wednesday, when the story archive will officially be publicly available. But I might one day want to remember the hellish experience that is home-buying (maybe to remind myself why it will be good to stay put for a few years, no matter the temptation of moving up and onward?), so I'm sparing a half-hour to write about Thursday's inspection.

To my flist, also, I really appreciate the comments that everyone has been leaving me and apologize for being unable to reply so far. All of my spare time has been spent either sleeping, writing, or working on SWG, and not in that order. Once I'm sitting in my study, in our new house, and the archive is available and functional, then I will take myself off this self-imposed LJ exile and start reading journals and reply to comments in quicker time than two weeks. In the meantime, I am thankful for the laughs and good cheer I get from reading the comments people have left on my posts so far. :)


Here goes ...

Home Inspection ... Cut Because It's Boring but I'll Probably Want to Remember This Some Years from Now )

In better news, for our anniversary, Bobby bought us an antique suit of armor to put in the study. It's hella cool ... and Alex just knocked the lid of his toy box into it and scared the crap out of himself!
I've wanted to write for days, but this is the first chance that I could grab. We got the house. Sunday evening, we were over my parents' house and Pat (my cousin's fiance and our real estate agent) called to say that the owners had made a counter-offer; it took Bobby and me about thirty seconds to decide that we could live with it. All of the final contract paperwork was finished today. So, pending inspection, it's ours!

This is all very exciting. We settle on 29 June (my sister's birthday!) and will move in that weekend.

Now that the place is definitely ours (pending inspection), every little detail about the apartment that annoyed me but I could live with suddenly seems one hundred times worse. Interesting psychology going on here. Coping mechanisms. ;) Today, I came off of Route-29 onto Route-40 and traffic was backed up at the light. I had to cross three lanes through this mess to turn onto my street, like I do every day. I deal with it; become proud of how good I've gotten at this task when it used to be ulcer-inducing to a bumpkin like me. Today, I thought a string of profanities and realized that I just didn't want to deal with this anymore. That I'm just not suited to this area. It's gorgeous and I adore the historic district to an unhealthy degree, but the rude, pretentious, self-absorbed people who live here; the constant press and hustle and endless congestion; the cost of Howard County just to boast, "I live in Howard County," with my nose in the air ... I'm sick of it. And every time that f***ing dog next door starts yapping or something falls from a bookshelf or the refrigerator or the washing machine and clunks me on the head because we have no room and have taken to storing dishes in the oven ... I think, Only a few weeks left, and am so relieved and happy just to be gone from here.

Because I don't want to feel this way. This was Bobby's and my first home together, and I want to remember it fondly.

In less important (but still big) news, the beta-test for the SWG archive is well underway. I had in mind all these very efficient plans. May, I was going to do the grunt work on the archive and start testing. June was going to be the first month of public use, which will likely be rocky. Inevitably. July, we were going to start looking for a house. But the two should not overlap. Riiiight.

As it was, we did the bulk of the house-acquisition at the same time as I finished building and started beta-testing the archive. Not the best setup, but I can't put off the first and don't want to put off the second. As it is, we're over the worst of both hurdles. We have inspection and settlement looming for the house, and that's it. All the financial stuff is done, and the contract is signed. And I've worked out the worst of the bugs in the archive; what is left is mostly aesthetic and could really be accomplished beyond the testing period as well. I'm looking forward to writing and watching movies and sleeping. All good things. :)

In less pleasing news, we've canceled all travel plans for the year, which include our trips to Toronto, Bermuda, and England. Bobby and I can travel on a shoestring, but the shoestring's been a bit frayed as of late and almost coming apart.

Alex decided to act like an asshat at the end of his walk tonight. We're changing headcollars because the one he has now pops into his mouth whenever he pulls back suddenly, at which time he happily gnaws through it. He's almost through this one, and it's his second in a month. While removing it from his mouth, as he happily jawed away, he punctured my hands in two places. Ouchie. Both ache relentlessly. He barely broke the skin, but they're swollen and sore. I can't wait to move. He'll have a yard; I'll have a place to train him again. A tiny apartment and 80-pound dog just don't work for training purposes anymore.

Did I mention that I can't wait to move?

(And I'll answer my comments very soon. Right now, it's off to bed to enjoy a bit of reading before dying for the night.)
Alex's days of hiking with us are apparently over. Bobby and I just spent the last ten minutes pulling about a dozen ticks off of his legs. We tried the new trail at Soldier's Delight the other day, and because Soldier's Delight is (unfortunately) not one of the best blazed trails in Maryland, ended up getting off the beaten path onto some sort of maintenance road through tall grass. Those of you living on the East Coast should now hear the ominous dun-dun-duuun music. Yep, we looked down and each had about twenty ticks crawling up our legs. We threw Alex into the tub when we got home with a half-bottle of flea and tick soap, but I've come to the conclusion that anything that claims to kill ticks is bull. Ticks are unkillable. They're like Morgoth. However, you can "thrust them through the Doors of Night" by flushing them down the toilet, which is my preferred modus operandi. The Ellicott City sewer system must be crawling with them by now.

So ... house. Well, Bobby and I went to look at houses on Thursday as planned, two in Westminster and one in Manchester.

The Quest Continues )

Last night, Bobby and I went to see the Heaven and Hell tour at Merriweather: Machinehead, Megadeath, and Black Sabbath (with Dio). Heavy metal isn't my first choice in music, but Potter had written down the wrong date (or something) and couldn't go, and Bobby's other friends all had other plans, so he was stuck bringing his old lady. I like and can appreciate just about any form of music except for the no-talent three-chord rock that emo teeny-bop wannabes like to pass off as punk, so I wasn't averse to going. I can appreciate a good guitar solo like any ex-guitar player can. But it got cold in Maryland! WTF, May is half over! And as soon as Black Sabbath came on, it started to rain. I was wearing a hoodie and wrapped in two towels and was miserable on top of ... well, just being miserable lately. So it wasn't the best time I've had at a concert, which is a shame, because I think that given different weather and a different mood, I would have enjoyed it much more.
It has begun. Bobby and I were pre-approved earlier this week for home loans with numerous banks. We got offered rates that were, without going into great and boring detail, quite good. It helps that it is now a "buyers' market"; we are doing this at the right time.

After much discussion and deliberation, we have decided on Carroll County. Howard County--however lovely--is simply too expensive. What we will pay for a single-family home on an acre of land in Carroll would get us a cookie-cutter townhome in Howard. Besides the fact that Bobby and I both wish to remove ourself from civilization as much as possible, and Howard County is growing too quickly to guarantee that. The little "experiment" that has been the last three years living in Howard Crossing has certainly taught me that I cannot live close to great numbers of people, if nothing else.

Today, we set out to look at a few houses that we had picked out of the listings. Neither of us are too familiar with Carroll County except to know that it is low-crime, within sight of the mountains, and overwhelmingly rural. I charted a course for us to see all that we were interested in, we packed Alex into the back of the Aerio, and set off exploring. We found two that we really liked: one rancher in Manchester and a farmhouse in Westminster that is, incidentally, zoned for horses. There was a third that couldn't be viewed from the road that sounds interesting; the only downside is that it is somewhat near to a big road, and I'd like to avoid that sort of noise, if possible.

We are simply out of room in our apartment; it has gotten so bad that we've begun storing things in the cars. Not to mention the fact that Alex would love a yard (and we would love for Alex to have a yard, as he sometimes becomes unbearably annoying in the apartment!) and that our mortgage would only be a few hundred dollars more than our rent (yes, for a single-family home versus a one-bedroom apartment ... sad). Add this to the fact that our community went through three different owners over the space of about seven months and the last set doesn't think that our outrageous rents entitle us to have our steps cleared of ice or our grass cut before it grows to our knees and, yes, we need to get out, and badly. (The Howard Crossing Debacle is an entry for another time, perhaps; I am simply weary of dealing with these people and detailing my travails.)

So we're looking to move as soon as we can. We found out that our lease runs out earlier than we realized, so we jumped the gun on this and are ready to pay a few months rent on top of house payments if we can get out of here sooner.

Meanwhile, house finches have again laid eggs in our hanging baskets, I'm sitting out on the balcony, and they are not happy with my presence here. I'm starting to feel guilty for keeping them off their eggs (they keep flying by and twittering at me), so it's time to sign off and go back inside.
We're home! Okay, we were gone less than a day. But we're home nonetheless.

I see that I owe some greetings ...

Happy Birthday, [ profile] trekqueen!

And, to the whole flist ...

Happy First Day of Spring!

Of course, it's cold and miserable, though it's supposed to warm up tomorrow. It's a pity, though, because Rita's gives away free Italian ice on the first day of Spring, and Bobby and I had all intentions of visiting our local franchise and partaking in two. But it's so damned cold that I can't bring myself to consider Italian ice, even if it is free. Personally, I am beginning to entertain the conspiracy theory that Rita's secretly controls the weather because they offered free Italian ice last year too, and it was cold and miserable and raining on the first day of Spring so no one went.

Anyway, the Stars on Ice show was great, as usual. Though it made me want to skate badly, probably because I know that it is as much fun as it looks! Alex stayed with my parents while we were gone, and we spent the night over there to save us that extra hour of driving to go home. My parents' house is still in shambles, and the builders arrived bright and early this morning and started ripping the siding off the house right at the guest room; poor Alex hid under the bed, only he's so big now that only his head would fit under! It reminded me of our Golden/Lab mix Moose, who used to hate when people watched him poop, so he would stick his head in the weeds and leave the ass-end hanging out. But he couldn't see us, so therefore, we couldn't see him. Canine logic.

Alex is exhausted now; Grandmom and Granddad's house is exhausting! The dog never settles for more than a few minutes. First of all, there's twice the number of people to pester with his toys. Then there's a big dusty room to run around in while attempting to eat stray pieces of insulation. Then there's Jack the Cat, who edges a little closer to Alex every time Alex visits. Jack chases Alex, though the latter is four times the size of the former! Alex ended up sleeping for the entire afternoon once we got home ... which was pretty much what Bobby and I did as well!

I should mention that Bobby and I have officially decided that we will not be renewing our lease for this apartment and will start looking at houses at the end of summer.

House Stuff )

On a completely unrelated note, I had hoped to reply to comments today but spent most of the day being tired and hungry and doing nothing of significance. Besides going out of town, with all that I have been accomplishing lately, I need to eat my weight in food to keep going. I will try my best to answer them tomorrow after work!

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