Thursday, November 14, 2019

Our Home Isn't Ready for the Holidays without a Keg-a-rator

When we moved to Minnesota from Texas, we didn't have a long time to look at houses. We'd been out to visit family the year before and were contemplating moving our tiny company to some place where we could have an office that would cost less, but would still be around people who were familiar with working with the Fruit. Since obviously Silicon Valley and Austin aren't cost saving towns, that left the Twin Cities, where a rather third-party Fruit-based software vendor resides.

We drove around downtown Minneapolis, downtown St. Paul, the burbs to the west, the burbs to the south and east, until X-man was ready to throttle us. What we found were that places that gave us "best places to live in Minnesota" really weren't our vibe. They were filled with planned subdivisions where houses looked the same -- and there were a lot of them. So many, really that if you were to have a fun night somewhere and need to pick out your house for a Lyft driver after a few Lift Bridge beers, you might not get it right.

We decided that Minneapolis was more like Austin in that it was filled with a lot of hipsters. We were looking for something that had a little land to it, so we didn't have to drive or seek out green space. A house where we could throw a ball for Lily with the flinger. :-)

At the same time, I preferred the vibe of St. Paul. It was quirky and diverse. It was less Fortune 500 businesses, and a lot more colleges. There are so many with campuses just a mile or two apart  it's like they meld together. I totally liked that. Downtown was easy to get around, and they have an On Your Honor train system in the Cities that I found to be a hoot. (What do you mean there's no turnstiles to go through and I just flash my ticket or my app on my phone if someone asks?)

So we ended up spending a lot of time touring the East Metro area. I liked Stillwater best. But it was a lot of added commute time, but Woodbury felt like it had no soul. So we ventured out into the country and found a small community of homes all on at least 2 acres. We decided if we could find something like that with a house in decent shape (Mactroll only likes new houses) we would be okay. Plus, he was super excited that there was a keg-a-rator in the basement. So if you head our way -- we currently have Fat Tire and Farm Girl on tap. That's right. We have two house beers.

A year later, when our business sold. He few up to Minnesota for meetings and I sent him six houses that were currently on the market. He hated all of them except one, which he decided felt "homey" but was 20 years old and needed some work. It was the house I'd liked best online, too. So we put an offer on it. I never saw it with my own two eyes, but it's our 7th home together. Mactroll knows what he's looking for.

Now we're spending time making the house our own. We've had to put some bucks into fixing some things that had been ignored far too long. Or that were built to code, but Minnesota winter gave code the middle finger and created ice dams. Sexy things like spray insulation, and a new water softener.

Oooh fun fact! When your husband spends years itching his skin all the time, seeing dermatologists and allergists and applying various steroidal creams for twenty years that only work in the short term and then one day it suddenly stops two weeks after you put in a Culligan water softener -- that's a like winning the freaking lottery. Mactroll -- sensitive skin -- needs softer water to exist than normal people.

It was the best money we've spent so far. :-)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

It happened. Again.

If there are any followers still following, I know I've lost a few of you since 2013 the first time we decided to move across the country.

Then in 2015, we moved again to Texas.

And last fall, go figure, we found ourselves back in the Midwest. This time in Minnesota. 

It didn't hit me when we landed that perhaps all those years were maybe something to blog about. Truthfully, when we left Illinois it pretty much felt like the people that I shared those adventures with really were happy to see me go. So I took their lead and worked on moving on, too. In fact, I moved a lot -- and not just households.  

Now as I look at the list of followers, two of them have died in that time. 

So here I am, almost 7 years later. It's 7 degrees in November, which the rest of the country seems to be complaining about, but I'm cool with winter. I missed it while we were away. 

Need some catching up? Here's a quick summary. 

-- Mactroll left the Fruit for a start up -- then left that and created his own software.
-- Looseyfur completed a master's degree in library and information science.
-- X-man is now taller than both Mactroll and Looseyfur and is finishing middle school this year. 
-- We've lost all the animals you knew in Illinois, except for Lily, who is 8.5 years old. But we've also gained three delightful boy cats: Leo, Teddy and Danny. 
-- We sold the software company that MacTroll and I ran in Texas to a company in Minneapolis.
-- So here we are in a rural/suburb chilling on 2.5 acres. 

Anyway, if any one is still out there, I'm starting my midwestern adventures again. 

The first thing I'm tackling is making adult friends in the internet age. Like someone to actually go out and do things with. When you move cross country three times in 7 years, the friends you have tend to be all over the place. 

So two weeks ago, I joined Bumble.

No. I'm not dating. 

I'm meeting other women who are looking for a kind and decent person to do stuff with around the Twin Cities on Bumble BFF. 

I have two potentials so far. One who I've met up with to do Trivia Brunch, which was super fun. We're trying a student art show in a couple of weeks, too. I've also been messaging back and forth with the second. And can I say, this whole online dating thing is super interesting. Like -- it's a friends app, and still some women just have glamour shot selfies, their name and their age. 

How the hell am I supposed to know if I want to hang with you off what you look like? I mean, sure, maybe you're cute, but I've met too many people who are just empty voids in my lifetime. 

The other scary part: common themes among 38-52 year old women in the Twin Cities. There are so many -- and I mean a shocking amount -- who list as their interests being "Crystals, essential oils, and natural healing." I was expecting Jesus fans, yogis, drinkers. This was -- unexpected. 

I don't think that I'm constructed to successfully engage a person about any of those interests. I want to DO something, not be sold on something. Seriously, get me out of my house. :-) 

In other news, for all the shit I gave people who fell down the fandom hole of Paleo living/Lululemon/Crossfit shenanigans in 2011... I apologize. I have since joined the Peloton XXL group. I love those people. I love doing all the things I want to do at home, but still getting the support through a Facebook group. Robin Arzon kicks my ass, and I like it that way. 

And no one knows if I have trouble getting out of my clips on my bike. And no one cares if I can't routinely hit 200kj on a 30-minute ride. 

I'm still doing it. 

Which is kind of the theme of this post. I'm still here. I'm still breathing. There's a shit-ton water under the bridge. But I'm in my 40s, and I just don't care about most of the BS any more. 

So, if you're still out there. Send up a flare or something. And Mom and Marybeth -- I miss and love you both. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

California Girl

It's been three weeks since I last posted. There has been a lot going on.

We packed our things, packed a truck, sold our house and got on an airplane with our three cats. We flew to San Francisco and put the cats in a lovely kennel facility for cats only called Mission: Cats.

Then we stayed at a Staybridge Suites in Sunnyvale. The second day we were in California, I insisted that we tour some of the houses in the "outer rim." Just to see what the areas were like. The outer rim is not in the top five areas we thought we'd be in to be "close" to Apple.

As it turns out, one of them was a big surprise. It's called Morgan Hill and it's 20 miles south of San Jose, 10 miles north of Gilroy and about 15 miles from Watsonville on the Pacific Coast. That's right -- the beach.

Morgan Hill is only 40,000 people. So it feels a lot like Urbana. MacTroll and I got a hoot out of the fact that there is a winery right across the street from the high school. Farmers are everywhere, so there's no need for a weekly farmer's market. They have stores open year round, and there's always Upick options.

We toured three houses while we were down there. Two up in the Diablo Mountains. One down in the valley on the west side of the town next to the Santa Cruz mountain range that is right next to a city park with a playground, tennis courts, a small lake, a dog park and the local Community Center which has partnered with the Y. We can walk to the grocery store. It also turns out that the Specialized bike company is headquartered there so the bike lane situation is phenomenal all around the city. There's a small downtown area about a mile and a half away with lots of independent restaurants. And driving is easy. It also turns out that Apple runs buses with Wifi down and picks up employees three times in the morning at the Caltrain terminal and then drops them off in the evening.

That was really hard to beat.

So was the fact that one of the houses we found was 14 years old and had been totally redone and kept up. It's beautiful and a lot more room. It's the most inexpensive house that we put in on (under $1m) and the largest in size. It also comes with a hot tub and a swimming pool. We put a bid in and it was accepted.

The only draw back, is that the Diablo mountains on the east side of town are home to native tarantulas. Tarantula bites are not fatal to humans. But they are creepy looking and from time to time in the fall (how appropriate for Halloween) a tarantula has been known to be seen in the yard. Morgan Hill celebrates the tarantulas with a festival and BBQ every year.

I'm not deathly afraid of arachnids. I totally appreciate what they do (eat bugs and rodents). But I don't like to look at them and I certainly don't want to go to clean the pool filter and find one hiding there (which is, according to some online research, is the female tarantula's favorite spot because she burrows).

The other thing I learned is that the native predator of the tarantulas is a giant wasp, called a Tarantula Wasp. Seriously. And if I thought the tarantula was creepy, the wasp is way worse.

It stings a tarantula repeatedly, but the venom does not kill it. Instead, it paralyzes it. Then the wasp drags it to safety and puts an egg on it. The egg hatches and the new baby wasp literally sucks the life out of the tarantula, while it's still living. However, it avoids eating any vital organs to keep the tarantula alive longer until it's able to fend for itself.

That's just nature being really quite brutal.

It also says that wasps primarily go after fat and happy, larger, female tarantulas because during mating season in the fall when the most tarantulas are exposed, the men are all bony and gross because they starve themselves while trying to find a mate.

Ain't that a load of fun? Anorexic, sex-crazed, male tarantulas.

Sorry, I digress.

We close on the new house on August 7. This week we've been in Willow Glen in a VRBO. On Thursday night we spend one night at a Kimpton Hotel in downtown San Francisco. Then we go up to spend a week on Stinson Beach north of Muir Woods. On July 19, we'll be heading down to Morgan Hill to live in an Extended Stay America Hotel.

And thus ends, Looseyfur's Midwest Adventures.

Thank you for being a part of my life for so long, and I wish you nothing but good luck and a lot of love.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Fun

MacTroll wasn't feeling very well today. Our plan (mine and X-man's) was to let him sleep in as long as he wanted. I would run out and fetch some bagels for a light breakfast, and then we'd take MacTroll to Maize to order lunch. X-man doesn't like Mexican food (he always orders a hamburger off the kiddie menu) and most places only do vegetarian with a lot of cheese, which I can't eat.

So, MacTroll got his food, and we took it home.

Then he went upstairs and fell asleep for several hours. Around 4 p.m., he came downstairs and sat on the couch watching TV with X-man. Then we went out around the neighborhood for a walk with Lily. X-man whined and fussed about how he didn't want to take a walk. About how he rides his bike too much (he doesn't ride it enough in our opinion). But we gave him the, "This isn't an option" look. And he put on his shoes and went out in the garage for his helmet and bike. As it turns out, the heavy rain last night left a giant, long puddle on one of the new streets of the new sections of our development.

We wondered around looking at the progress on the houses, while X-man rode his bike through the puddle back and forth. He had dirt and water splashed up the back of his calves, his butt and up his back. And he was laughing and laughing. I watched him as he jumped up and down splashing in the puddle in his sandals. He declared there were two kinds of mud in that puddle. The kind that washes away, and regular mud that travels in clumps.

Lily, was very confused, by his behavior. She could tell he was happy, but she was a black dog on a hot, sticky day, and she wanted nothing to do with the dirty water. She waded in it to her ankles, just deep enough to get close to X-man, who was sitting on the curb with water up to his own ankles splashing in it and touching the mud, to see what he was doing. Then when he walked out of the puddle she tried to stay between him and the puddle like she was protecting him from getting gross.

Lily is a retriever mix. But she isn't to hot on water. Mostly because the only water she's ever been in (to our knowledge) is bath water. But she hates sprinklers when we walk around the neighborhood. She runs away from the hose when I water the flowers in the backyard. So, I get that she's not a fan. But to watch her try to herd him away from the water for just a few seconds, was pretty priceless.

We have three sleeping nights left in our house. We're spending Wednesday and Thursday at the iHotel, because I think it would be sad and lonely to stay in our house when it's empty. Then on Friday at 11 a.m., we close, and drive up north. My mom is watching our dog for a few days (until the week of July 4) and the cats are flying to California with us on Saturday morning.

I've been planning for this day since January 2012. It's hard to believe it's actually here.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mommy Mistakes

Tonight X-man and I made a date to go to the YMCA at 8 p.m., so that he could go down the water slide one last time before our membership expires on June 13th. I would not normally have him out that late, but it's the only time the water slide is open during the week.

He had a friend over, so I ran upstairs and grabbed him a suit and a couple towels, got changed and was ready when our neighbor came to retrieve his son.

X-man threw on his flip flops and off we went.

We got there and he went into the changing room. He asked for help. I went in to help him and pulled the suit up. It was a suit I ordered from Mini Boden one day when I was feeling splurgy.

Anyway, the suit isn't baggy like all the one's at Target. It doesn't go to his knees. It goes to mid-thigh. He freaked out. "I look like a girl!"

Apparently, only girls show thigh. I explained to him that he looked fine, but he kept trying to pull the legs down, which meant that the top part of his privates were going to be exposed. I explained that once he got in the water, no one would see him.

He was too embarrassed. We ended up driving back home, getting another suit, and driving back to the Y. By the time we got into the pool after the 20 minutes of him falling apart as to weather we should go home and get another suit or stay and use the shorter one, it was 8:45 p.m. He went down the slide once, and then they randomly closed it. The schedule said the slide would be open from 8-10 p.m.

Oh well.

We played in the water a lot. It was fun. I like going swimming with him. He wore his little green band that showed that he passed his annual swim test with pride. He showed me his awesome dives into the deep end. He timed me swimming 25 yard sprints. We tried to say words under the water and understand what the other was saying.

Then, X-man looked around at 9:15 p.m., and said. "Mom, where did everyone go?"

It was just us and two guards. "Where are the grown ups?"

It's late buddy. So at 9:30 p.m., we got out and went back home. I read him Shark Vs. Train (even though he can read it himself, he still likes me to read picture books and usually chapter books at bedtime). And he was out like a light at 10 p.m., 30 minutes past his normal "summer bedtime."

And that short, Mini Boden suit for 7-8 year olds... is totally out the door.

I really didn't mean to make him uncomfortable and embarrassed. He had one just like it when he was 4 with alligators on it that he loved. But at 7, I guess, not so much.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I'm here, I'm here!

It got pointed out to me the other day from a friend who lives far away that I have been remiss in not only sending him e-mail but also updating my blog.

Most of my life has been consumed with house hunting in California and packing up in Illinois, as well as finishing working at MMO and getting X-man done with school.

MacTroll has been in California every week in May. We've not been selected for two houses. The first one we bid on in April closed this week. The asking price was $929,000, they received $1.18 million. So, uh, yeah. The second house was a similar situation. I don't know what the money was, but we offered more than the asking price and kept in the contingency that we could pull out if it didn't appraise for as much as we were willing to pay for it. The other family withdrew that contingency. So if the house closed at $1.2 million, but it only had $900,000 worth of value, that family was willing to pay $300,000 extra at the closing. I don't know about you guys, but I don't have that kind of cash floating around...

This week though, we might have a break through. MacTroll toured a month-to-month rental home that is furnished, and the woman is sending us an application. It's also a place Lily can live while the cats are staying at Mission Cats in San Francisco. And there's a house, in a lesser "in-demand" neighborhood, still with good schools that are walkable, but groceries and shopping are not, that might fit our bill.

I'm trying not to get my hopes up about the permanent home though, because on average it takes a buyer 8-10 bids on houses before they get one...

Friday, May 17, 2013

Old Cats

My cats are old. Old enough that they're pretty set in their ways. I know that Clawdio (15) is the cat that no one sees. Luke (13) is the big, friendly guy who doesn't make eye contact. And Maya (12) will cuddle with just about anyone as long as they sit still.

Lately, when I crawl into bed at night, Clawdio has been curling up on my hips and shoulder diving into me for attention. If anyone else comes near us, he whacks them away with an open paw and a hiss, but no claws.

When I am sitting at my desk downstairs, Maya comes over stares at me. She climbs into my lap a lot and just sits there. I thought she was deciding she would be the "downstairs" cat. But now, I think she's just annoyed that I'm in her favorite chair.

Before my surgery, I got tired of moving of the kitchen table chairs back and forth to the desk, so I broke down and went to Pier One during one of their sales and got this blue flowery chair. It's probably the girliest thing I've every purchased. It was comfortable to sit in and it was 40% off with an extra 10% for getting a Pier One credit card. That's not bad.

And since then, Maya has been sleeping on it. So, if you see me walking around town with a bunch of cat hair on my behind -- it's courtesy of Maya, who would like me to very much go mow the lawn so that she can take a mid-morning snooze, now that X-man is at school on HER chair.