The Wolfeboro Project: 3 Bids and a Headache

The Wolfeboro Project: 3 Bids and a Headache

At the beginning of this journey, I realized the three Ps: patience, persistence and perspective. Now, I just need a cocktail.

The good news is we love, love love the Long Stack house and its potential. We thoroughly enjoyed spending the July 4th holiday at Long Stack and experienced Wolfeboro in all its red, white and blue glory. We took a couple of swims at Brewster Beach in between working, cleaning, fixing and shopping. Plus we had lovely meals and of course a few runs for ice cream.

We’re managing two homes that are more than six hours apart. Any major life change involves adjustments, but sometimes, I’m just so confused! Thank goodness I took photos of some of my clothes in the Long Stack closet or I would not remember where some of my clothes are. I did the same thing with the kitchen pantry. So, if I wonder whether I need cinnamon at Long Stack because I have two containers of the spice here in Cherry Hill; I just go to the photo. So not only do I have cinnamon at Long Stack, I have a container and a half here in Cherry Hill. Oy!

Today’s title refers to the contractors who are preparing bids for landscaping and a screened porch we plan to add to the deck. Three contractors spent about an hour-and-a-half each with us at Long Stack considering and measuring for the project. One landscaper (the others I reached out to did not return calls or emails) is preparing an estimate for clean-up work necessary around our nearly two-acres of property.

Did I forget to mention the septic issue? About $500 later, our septic is more-or-less cleared out. There was a bit of a stoppage (it was constipated, my sweet husband quips) – fortunately, nothing major. It seems our septic tank had probably NEVER been cleaned out in 40 years! Are these homeowners crazy? It’s hard to believe people can live in a house and think that nothing needs to be cared for. Fortunately, that has ended with us in the house.

Meantime, we still have no decision on a new washer-dryer and refrigerator. Every time I open the fridge or press the ‘on’ button for the washer, I think I’m going to see sparks. Hopefully, my fear and loathing will subside.

We have begun to seriously think about getting out of the Cherry Hill house. It may take a year or two, but enough already; between the upkeep and crazy-high taxes, it’s time.

For now, I look forward to a month in New Hampshire – working and some vacation time  – while hoping that our son can check on Cherry Hill and make sure nothing happens while we are at Long Stack. Cross your fingers for us – we need some good luck.

The Wolfeboro Project- Two Months In

The Wolfeboro Project- Two Months In

One step forward; two steps back – or so they say. Patience and persistence have been a challenge because this thing they call ‘life’ gets in the way. And it’s difficult to manage two households from six-plus hours away. We soldier on.

Our last visit to Long Stack was over the long Memorial Day holiday. In the meantime we have:

  • had outstanding handyman Rick take care of a laundry list of minor fix-it and safety issues including fire-proofing the garage and weed-whacking our tall front lawn grass.
  • had the radon remediation crew back to fix the electrical snafu they caused when installing the fan system that keeps the air flow going through the house to avoid radon build-up in the air we breathe.
  • contacted; scheduled; unscheduled then rescheduled three contractors to give us estimates on building a screened porch on the deck (more on that in a bit).
  • contacted and talked with two landscapers who will give us estimates on landscaping a six to ten-foot perimeter around the house.

All this from 350 miles away. It’s exhausting. The new normal of taking care of two homes, plus a business and family obligations is something I am wrapping my head around. And my head hurts – a lot – more often. I keep reminding myself to breathe and know things will work out. This is a long-haul project – there is no hurry.

The contractor schedule crashed and burned this past week. Doug has been serving on a criminal trial jury. That is challenging enough except the trial that was likely going to end with a verdict last week, ground to a halt when the courthouse transformer blew up and plunged the building into darkness. Repairs were made on a Thursday; but officials kept the courthouse closed Friday, too – which then cancelled our plan to head up to Long Stack on Sunday.

Yes, I know no lives were lost and no blood was shed; as they say, never let a good deed go unpunished. There’s my terrific husband NOT gyrating his way OUT of jury service and dutifully fulfilling his civic duty; and he ends up on this case that is now dragging on. The high hopes are that the case will indeed come to a close with a verdict – or not – this week. Then we’ll high-tail it north this coming Friday.

But wait; there’s more! Our long-time friends who ironically have a lake house up north; weeks ago invited us for July 4th weekend. The plan is we’ll spend a couple of nights with them, then enjoy our Independence Day (literally) at Long Stack where we will both work our jobs from our north offices.

And we have rescheduled the three contractors; we’ll call the landscapers this week to schedule appointments and I can tackle my daunting DIY project: scrubbing out the fireplace grit. (Borax + Dawn detergent + water + goggles + wire brush + plastic sheeting; scrub-scrub-scrub) And I found this nifty article about the cost of renovations.

Keep your fingers crossed that the wheels of justice squeak along; the case ends and we can again own our star-spangled independence.

 

The Wolfeboro Project: Money Pit?

The Wolfeboro Project: Money Pit?

The 80s film, “The Money Pit” with Tom Hanks and Shelley Long parodies what it’s like to buy the home of your dreams and fall into a black hole of dollars spent to make the home your own.

Our 6 Long Stack property is far from the movie (thank goodness), but it doesn’t stop me from worrying about spending money sooner rather than later or vice versa.

We spent a terrific Memorial Day extended weekend at our home up north. Beyond spending $4000+ on water and air radon remediation and meeting our wonderful handyman Rick, I thoroughly enjoyed yard sale shopping throughout the Wolfeboro area. For under $450, here’s just some of the 6 Long Stack goodies we purchased:

  • two lamps and a virtually new lamp shade
  • an old school Hamilton blender with glass blender jar
  • new sofa slipcover ($2) for the ugly, flowered sofa that came with the house (we don’t have to by a new sofa now)
  • assorted kitchen gadgets, glasses, cooking utensils
  • antique oak dresser and mirror (the most expensive find)
  • ladderback maple chair in great shape ($10)
  • maple rocker with flawless upholstery (a minor stain I can work with)
  • two wicker chairs and matching table in great condition

The cleaning continued. Dealing with the musty smell in the lower level where paneling has gone to die is frustrating. We’re hoping the ventilation system to remediate radon build-up will help. I believe only ripping up the 40-year-old carpet and replacing it with top-notch flooring will help – and that is a project down the road. So baking soda and vacuuming are my regular tools.

What really struck me during the visit to our new home is the need for landscaping. While we decided that adding a screened porch is a priority, we must spend some good money on good landscaping. That is the conundrum at the moment.

I’ve gotten what I had hoped are very good referrals from our new friends in New Hampshire and I’ve inquired on the Web site #Porch. So far the total number of returned phone calls and online inquiries is ZERO. I’m not counting the one call I got from a call center supposedly representing a franchisee or landscaping contractor in New Hampshire.

Yes, it’s IN season. You’d think a project clearing out brush; leveling an area for a parking spot and shoring up rock-lined paths around the house would be a no-brainer. It’s probably a two to three-day job that a crew of three or four can handle and we’ll even help as much as we can. I’ve even reached out to #DIY #Yardcrashers for help.

Our terrific handyman responded to us this morning and will be stopping by to trim up long grass that popped up close to the house. Most of the nearly two acres is trees; but we do have to plan and cope with the natural landscape so it does not take over the house. Also, Doug braved our tall trees and spent a half day taking down three trees to improve our view. He even survived the attack of the New Hampshire ticks – another reason we need to take down brush. (We will also contract with a bug company during our next visit.)

We have booked three contractors to come to the house during our upcoming visit to give us estimates on the screened porch project. That expenditure is something we hope to handle either this coming fall or early next spring so the screened porch is ready for summer 2017.

For now, anyone know a good landscaper who will return a phone call or email in the Wolfeboro area?

 

The Wolfeboro Project: April Fool’s to Friday the 13th

When you choose to take a journey, you might as well go all the way. As that fortune in my cookie weeks ago advised: Life is a daring adventure: or it is nothing.


When we reflect on the past six weeks, we laugh hysterically. We made the offer on Long Stack April 1st and it was accepted; final details for settlement were firmed up six weeks later – Friday the 13th. We went through settlement easily and learned factoids about our new home that I am so glad to know.

This adventure requires patience, persistence  and perspective. The three Ps will guide me as we inevitably go through ups and downs in the coming months. Keeping our eye on the prize is another key: we have a vision for this home and know it will become what we hoped and dreamed about when we first saw the listing on Trulia February 2016.

During settlement, Doug asked the trustee for the seller (the seller’s daughter) about how much the electric bill ran – since the house is right now – all electric. Doug and I almost fell off our chairs when  she said about $500 a month; and maybe $150 when no one was at the house. Yikes! Today, Doug called the Electric Company located down our mountain and within about five minutes received a .pdf of electricity charges dating to 1996. the largest bill was about $800 which accounted for apparently months and months of usage. Most months were either $0 or very affordable. Whew.

We are awaiting handyman Rick now. We went to breakfast at our favorite spot, Katie’s Kitchen this morning. Owner Patricia Lord gave me excellent advice; “Meet him before you need him.” Her brother is a contractor and all-around handy guy. Patricia says if you get to know this person, you’ll trust him to have a key to your place and check on things or fix things – especially when you are not around. She said you do not want to have to call someone in the middle of the night who you have no relationship with up here.

So handyman Rick who came highly recommended by our agent is going to give us good estimates on a batch of work we need to have done fairly soon. We also hope to get his recommendations on other items including replacing the sliding glass doors from the living room and master bedroom.

It sure would be great to have a bucket of funds to tackle renovations sooner rather than later – but I go back to those three Ps: patience, persistence, perspective. We’ll need expert advice on all major renovations which involve a little redesign here and there – especially in the kitchen.

For now, we are cleaning everything – top to bottom and will live in this house for days at a time over the next year to figure out what are wants, needs and must-haves are. We’ll reach out to contractors we find or who are recommended and we’ll start planning to renovate the home of our dreams.

 

 

The Wolfeboro Project: Journey to Our Happy Place

When you find your happy place, trust your gut and make it happen. It will not be easy.

April 2, 2016

NH-HsHunt_62The fortune in my cookie the other night could be prophetic: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Less than 24 hours later, we received word that our offer on a home we had researched, toured and researched some more in South Wolfeboro, NH, for the past eight weeks, had been accepted. After 30-seconds of hugging and basking in the afterglow of our success, the real work got underway.

Our adventure begins; there is no hurry – nothing is imminent – and as key inspections take place and the mortgage is finalized in the days after that – we could still pass on this house. My instincts have always served me well. As frightening as it is to take on another mortgage – let alone a fixer-upper 350 miles away – in a town where we’ve only vacationed for two weeks at a time – I believe we can live here.

Over the past several years, we’ve considered the Wolfeboro, NH area as a place where we could live from perhaps April or May through November or December. I feel complete and content when I am there. It’s not just a vacation feeling – it’s a place that gets me – and I get it.

What is it about this house? The same feeling you get when you meet ‘the one.’ When I first saw this house on Trulia, the price, then the location struck me – and the view. A year ago, we ‘lost’ a house we adored; we affectionately called it ‘The View.’ Now I am convinced, that was not our house. Even when we toured The View, something nagged at me, “This is not right.” The view from that house was utterly spectacular, but there were quirky things ‘wrong’ with that house. I’m convinced that house would have made us go broke – or we would have always loved the view – and just liked the house.

This house we call ‘Long Stack’ is the one. Excellent bones; great – if not spectacular view of Lake Winnipesaukee and mountains to the north, west and east. There are nearly two acres that will be ours; it’s a corner property on a hill with no lawn to mow; this is a natural landscape.

As I read through the owner’s deed from 1994, it seems the owner had just lost his wife and reverted the property to his name and ultimately a revocable trust. So that prompted me to Google his name. I believe this homeowner also lives in the Orlando area and has worked as a greeter at one of the Disney attractions. I hope to confirm this on or before settlement. I’d really enjoy talking to this man to find out his stories of Long Stack.

For now, I’m enthusiastically loading up my Pinterest page with renovation ideas. We’re thinking practically and know that we want to make this house comfortable, lovely and a happy place that will bring us joy for years to come.

Stay tuned..the journey continues. Here’s a view of Wolfeboro, NH from above, courtesy of Media Wing Marketing.

What’s Next 2016

Taking a moment to reflect pushes me more toward looking forward. When I read about issues and news stories that ask the question, “How could this have been prevented?” I ask the question, “How can we make changes for our children and their children?” My top three changes start CO2016_09with mind and body.

1. During this year, my hope is to daily, say or do (or at least think) something positive about or to another person. Enough with the negativity; it gets you no where and probably adds to the lines in my face. So, enough. As much or as best as possible, smile, and respond with, “I hear what you’re saying.” Do we really think we’re going to change another person’s mind when they are loaded for bear and ready to take someone’s head off? People don’t change that much; it makes more sense to take positive energy; shrug to yourself and perhaps try to think something positive about that negative person. Plus, I’d like to record weekly, a positive outcome for that week – business, family/friends, personal or something out of the ordinary.

2. After two body part replacements since 2011, I have learned that fitness Sunset7_06is supreme. I get through each workout day in a positive way; my nutrition is key and adds to my positive mindset. For 2016, this journey will continue:

  • Start each day with 20 sips of water (thank you #NBCJennaWolf);
  • Two-three workout days per week with stationary bike action at the house in between and more outside recreation.
  • #OptOutside is tough. We get caught up at the office – which for me is my home – and it’s difficult to carve out at least 30 minutes outdoors. This, I will work on.

DB_BJB_Settlement_April2011 - Copy

3. Date night keeps things fresh. This is our 25th anniversary year. Marriage is a partnership that grows, ebbs, flows and evolves. It is never perfect. At least once a month – beyond the usual outings – we’ll go to a comedy club, enjoy something cultural and take turns yielding to the other when it comes to things we enjoy doing.

Whatever fits in your world, resolve to make it happen. Find what makes you happy and set out to accomplish the goal – no matter how small or large. Your positive action will sustain you; the positive karma may catch on you those around you and be infectious in a very positive way.

 

Remembrance: His Laugh Lives On

Remembrance: His Laugh Lives On

Two years – 724 days – or an eternity; that’s what it seems like without my dad. The two years of healing since his death in 2013 has been an evolution. Most often, I remember him sweetly. Frank Jorett was a kind, gentle soul; a happy man overall with a legion of friends; so many friends and people he touched that

New Hampshire 2011

New Hampshire 2011

we were overwhelmed at his memorial service. The line of people wrapped around the block for hours.

A tear falls as I write this remembrance. Nearly every day, I know dad is watching. His belly laugh is still strong in my memory. His voice in my brain is clear and solid. I miss him wildly during baseball season. Out loud, I’ll comment, “What did you think of that call, dad,” as the Phillies or whoever I was watching play of the field of dreams. Now, my husband, Doug is watching baseball more intently. In this postseason, he is turning on the games and checking the scores – sometimes before I even give it a thought. Perhaps dad’s spirit and my unflinching love of baseball have inspired Doug.

Dad & Mom at the Phillies 2007

Dad & Mom at the Phillies 2007

Our family misses dad every day. A recent dinner with the family brought us together to mark a long celebration of my mom’s 80th birthday (not until 2017). The gathering of an organization my family has been involved with for decades, brought many of my dad’s friends, too. One man came up to use and told us the story of how every day since my dad died, his day starts with prayers that start off remembering my dad. He told us how he had so

Joretts at Artisans event - without dad

Joretts at Artisans event – without dad -2015

much fun with my dad. He did so much work for the organization – because he loved the camaraderie. The event was special – but I could not help but wish dad was there in body, not just spirit.

While two years has passed, it is clear sadness bubbles up when I least expect it. The new normal of holidays and occasions without dad has been difficult. Marking October 24th does not come without a tear – though it’s important to remember that smiles and laughter marked nearly every day of dad’s life – especially in the last years. Mom calls dad her rock; she continues to adjust and evolve with a circle of

Dad at Adam's high school graduation dinner at our house; he was always a jokester

Dad at Adam’s high school graduation dinner at our house; he was always a jokester

friends, trips with senior groups and a full schedule of things to do. My brother, Steve, misses dad in many ways since they spent so much time together shopping and running errands. Now Steve, who lives closer to mom, is at least a ‘stone’ for mom and she depends on him.

Next year, we are repeating our vacation in New Hampshire with another week with mom, Steve, his wife, Sue and our son, Adam. It’s a wonderful time; but it again will be without dad. And that is front of mind for me – still – two years since he left us.