When We Were Young(er) #NEHS135

When We Were Young(er) #NEHS135

Wasn’t 1976 just a few years ago? It’s been decided by about 180 classmates at our 40th reunion that 58 is indeed – the new 48. The heck with our biological age. We look fabulous.

rhawnhurst1Our high school class had about 1,100 students – huge by any high school standard. We are the tail end of the Baby Boomers; the beginning of GenX. Stories of life I listened to throughout our event made me believe even more deeply that our lives are certainly what we mold them to be. We share journeys of our lives – loves and likes, divorces and new marriages, triumphs and challenges – all were inspiring.

There were so many faces that I did not remember – until I connected their name on their tag with the 1976 yearbook face; I’d scan up from the name tag to their face – and their 2016 face was now completely in focus. My new impressions of those faces – Elizabeth, Patty, Marci, Nancy, Ed, Eric, another Ed, Frank, Nick, Janet, Margot, Debbie, Temi, and even my Wing Man, Marc, Jack Merle, Sharon, Aaron, Cindi, Ellen, Mark, the other Mark, Bruce, Harris, Abbe, Howard – and so many others – fill the card file in my brain.

As I was getting ready for the reunion, I did not want to go. I had many things to take care of in my present day life, I did not want to revisit the past. Oh, am I img_2533glad I took the time to be with all these people last night. Because of social media, conversations, in many cases were jump-started by, “So, you have a new house in New Hampshire,” and “Wow, I saw you have two grandchildren.” It’s incredible how many times I was ask, “Are you retired?” or “Are you retired – yet?” Geez – that option is really not on the radar screen.

It’s wonderful some folks at the gathering are retired or semi-retired. Many are traveling, sitting back and enjoying the many years of working so hard to create the lifestyle they want at this vibrant age. Someone practically yelled at me when I mentioned I was concerned that we might only have a good 15 years to enjoy our New Hampshire home the way we want to. And we ended that quick conversation with ‘the 70s will be the new 50s.’

img_2531There were people who could not be at the reunion – and I missed seeing them. They had their reasons; if you are reading this – know that so many people asked about you and hope you are well.

So, I put the dress I wore last night back in the closet. I’m downloading some photos and paging through the class of ’76 yearbook one more time before I put it back on the shelf . I’m so grateful for the memories past and now present – adding to my card file of people and their lives that help me forge ahead toward a happy, new beginning.

The Wolfeboro Project: Survival Tips

The Wolfeboro Project: Survival Tips

When you take on a new house project – especially a fixer – your tip list grows quickly. Despite bouts of fear and sticker-shock, we are still on the road to a home we already love in a town we are quickly growing more and more attached to.

Let’s get right to the tips – based on our missteps, lessons learned and a sprinkling of luck.

  1. Three Ps remain the mantra: patience, persistence and perspective – making measured, informed  decisions result in the project moving along at a pace that works with your budget and schedule. Trust your gut – if you have a shadow of a doubt on a decision, think it through again.
  2. Stick to the plan: we decided to work on this house from the outside-in. While we continue to talk about the ultimate interior renovations, other than some paint and a few window treatments, we are not planning a major investment on the interior until the outside is in shape – or close to it.
  3. Under-play your fixer – your family will be pleasantly surprised. We have told our families that we have a lot of work ahead; deferred maintenance are the words the Realtors used in describing the house (former owned didn’t do much at all to improve or even maintain the house). When our families visited the house this past month, they practically scolded us for describing the house as we have. They, too see the possibilities and  good bones of the house. Their collective responses amount to, “You made the house sound awful; it’s really lovely.” Of course, it’s not their project – but it is good to know we are not crazy and we have their support!
  4. Small-town, small steps. Figure out your possible DIY projects. In a small town – or any town – you can find someone to do anything for you – but you will pay in time and of course, money. Getting on a contractor’s small-town schedule takes finesse; be flexible and communicate with each contractor.
  5. Be specific: when  dealing with your contractor’s estimate continue to do research and ask people for help and advice. Doug reached out to his brother for advice since he had done major remodeling; we compared and contrasted details in estimates and asked contractors to provide more details. Be sure you have a timeline – or at least a finish date. Your two month-long project can stretch to months and months if you do not stay on top of details.
  6. Don’t be afraid to say, “No:”we nixed one project one of our contractors quoted because of price and the cross-over with another project and contractor. When in doubt put the brakes on.
  7. BREATHE: remember why you started this journey. Every day I love and enjoy this house and this town more. Every little DIY task or decision leads us to what will become our very special place. We continue to enjoy the lake, hiking, biking, boating. water-skiing, sailing; town concerts and cultural events; the local gym and shops; amazing lobster, ice cream and food that just tastes better here; getting to know people in town and spending time with them and becoming part of this community.

Those are seven tips for now; there are probably many more to come. With a full month under our belts here, we are heading back to our other home shortly. That will bring the inevitable culture shock (I haven’t waited a traffic light or been in a traffic jam for weeks!). We have a better idea of what to expect at this Happy Place; we have some big projects coming up at this house and we’ll be popping up for brief stays throughout the coming months. Being on this journey with an amazing husband and great family and friend support leaves me content and ever-hopeful of what this home will be in a few years.

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.