Monday, August 26, 2013

Getting Settled

So ... we moved, again. This makes four houses in ten years. Marc says never again. This time I think I agree. We knew the last house - a tract house in a new neighborhood in the city - was temporary. We weren't sure about where we wanted to go when we sold the country property so we took some time to think it over. We finally decided and made the move. We moved to the Ozarks of northern Arkansas. We looked at property for about a year and a half before making a decision. We ended up buying a place I liked from the beginning and Marc hated. We have 32 acres of mixed pasture and timber, a beautiful large pond and two smaller ones, two houses and various outbuildings. The property was owned by a young Amish Mennonite family. We ended up only buying half of their land (they had 64 acres) and as it turns out they moved to the adjacent 32 acres and are now our neighbors. We allowed the sellers to remain in the house for two weeks after closing so they could harvest their corn. We unloaded our moving truck into the smaller, unoccupied house. Meanwhile I was all set to enjoy a nice two week vacation camping at Lake Norfork. The first couple of nights in the camper Felix howled incessantly and Tiger tried to get out every time the door was opened. I was a nervous wreck and wanted them both to be boarded for the duration. One evening I was just getting out of the shower when an alarm went off. I thought it was the smoke alarm, in which I had recently installed new batteries, but still didn't work when I pressed the test button. I figured it was malfunctioning, but then realized it was the GAS LEAK detector. That had never gone off before. We'd had some issues with the water heater so Marc turned it off and the alarm went off. Not sure if the gas leak was due to the water heater alone or something else, I had Marc disconnect the gas tanks completely. I was a nervous wreck. Thereafter, all (hot) showers had to be taken at the campground bath house. I have an aversion to public restrooms so that was not a lot of fun. Furthermore, we had to do all cooking on the grill. It rained quite a bit during those two weeks and one night in particular, my phone beeped with an alert from The Weather Channel advising that a sever storm with winds in excess of 60 miles per hour were expected. I panicked and said we had to go to a hotel. I quickly made a reservation. Did I mention that we had three cats with us? Originally we'd planned to board one of the cats (the one that won't get along with the other two) but we never did, so we had all three - in a 21 foot camper. So Marc puts each cat in his/her carrier and we throw some stuff in the truck and head to the Hampton Inn. It's raining cats and dogs and Marc can barely see. We get into town and notice that the traffic lights are out, along with most of the power in town. We get to the hotel and since I'd already made a reservation they had prepared our pass cards already, but the power was out in the hotel. Our room would be dark the clerk said. For whatever reason we got a handicap accessible room on the first floor which is right by the side door. This was perfect, since we had to sneak three cats into a non-pet-friendly hotel, along with their litter boxes. Ok, so after lugging in two of the cats (and mind you it's still pitch dark in our room) Marc says he doesn't want to bring Felix (the bad one) in yet cause he is crying in the truck, and how will we keep him quiet in the hotel. We hash this out and I find a different hotel that IS pet friendly and we load everyone and everything back in the truck and head over there. Did I mention that we'd already paid $110 for the Hampton Inn? I quickly took all the shampoo, conditioner and lotion before leaving. So we get to the other hotel and the clerk asks me how much the pets weigh. I said I don't know, just an average cat. He points to a brass plaque which says No Cats, Snakes or Rats. Great, now what? I get back in the truck and said, let's just go back to the camper (along with some choice expletives I might add) - at this point I don't even care if I'm killed in a severe storm, it couldn't be much worse that the last hour or so. As we're driving back to the camper Marc pointed out that the storm had passed. When we got back to the campsite we noticed that all the stuff we had lying around the camper hadn't moved an inch. So much for the accuracy of The Weather Channel's predictions. We enjoyed Lake Norfork. Our camper was out on a peninsula with almost 360 deg. views of the water. We bought some floats and went down to the swimming beach and ventured out into the clear, cool water. It was very relaxing. We tried a little fishing which was fun, but we didn't catch anything. I knew that after we took possession of the property we would find some things that the home inspection didn't disclose but we didn't expect to find that the house was Filthy, with a capital F. So bad in fact that I just wanted to turn and run away. But as Marc pointed out, it's ours now. Before noon on the first day after we took possession of the property, Marc had already ripped out the carpeting in the living room and master bedroom. In just a few days we painted and installed new laminate flooring in the master bedroom. It felt great to move our furniture into the bedroom after sleeping on an air mattress in the camper for over two weeks. We'd never installed laminate flooring before and frankly I was worried about doing it. I thought we would have a lot of trouble getting it down and end up with a not so attractive result. I was wrong. Other than sore knees, it was super easy. It looks way better than I expected too! Next we had a new roof put on. We ordered a refrigerator but it hasn't come in yet so we've been cooking outside and using the frige in the camper. I wanted to remodel a bathroom next, but tired of the makeshift camp kitchen, Marc turned his attention to the kitchen. We decided that we couldn't just slap a coat of paint on the cabinets and move on. We had to gut the kitchen entirely. In one day all the cabinets, countertops, vent hood, dishwasher and sink were in the front yard. The dishwasher had died years ago yet was full of stagnant water. Removing it and the sink cabinet were two of the most disgusting home renovation projects I've ever encountered. Marc burned the cabinets and that was that. The upcoming week will involve purchasing cabinets and painting them (guess who gets that project), cleaning all the walls, ceiling and flooring in the kitchen, putting down a new floor (probably vinyl) and installing the cabinets. Next the countertop, sink and dishwasher will go in. I really, really want a wood cook stove and I'm trying to figure out how to fit it in. I think I've gotten more exercise in the last week than I did all last year. It's not all hard work though. We have walked over some but not all of the property. We walked to the eastern boundary line to the back of the property. The back part is densely wooded. We fished in the big pond and each caught two bass. The pond has a peninsula jutting out to the middle, which is a great spot from which to fish. We are looking forward to gardening again. Marc is looking forward to having chickens again. There are two good size gardens already in place and a few blueberry and raspberry plants, and a few fruit trees. The scenery here is so pretty. The hills are so dramatic and there are beautiful rock outcroppings every where. The trees are different as well as some of the wild life. The property has some huge pine trees that spread quite wide, unlike the tall thin pines we're used to seeing in Texas. There are oak trees with large leaves - a variety with which I'm not familiar, cedar and black walnut trees. (I need to figure out how to crack the walnuts) There are bluebirds everywhere, quail, and hummingbirds. We have only seen a few deer, but they are quite large. We had a taste of cooler weather when we first arrived and we are looking forward to our first fall in the Ozarks. We're told that due to the summer rains the fall colors will be spectacular.