Monday, May 23, 2005

Full Steam Ahead

The house up here in Leander is not selling but we’ve decided to go forward with buying two houses so we can get one on an island - the Island. We close on the SPI house in mid-June and move a week later. Perhaps the house will sell by then, at which time we’ll pay off most of the 20% note on an 80/20 financing deal. Scary times, these are!

This old house must have some bad juju or something, since some are selling but ours sure ain’t. We’ve scrubbed, painted, added new carpet, and cut down scruffy trees. I even went as far as eradicating the burr patch, planting Bermuda and religiously watering every day (these plus-90 degree days are not helping). We have all the classic good luck stuff like the lucky candle and the little statue in the front yard. Lori even bakes cookies for the open houses. I mean come on, what do folks want – free beer, cokes, hotdogs, and Willie Nelson?

I talked about this with the realtor and she was sympathetic but said something like “Sam, you have a starter home, and most folks starting a family can’t qualify these days, which is why they go for the builder’s zero-down deals and then go bankrupt.” To me this was a shocking statement. First, I never considered my $125,000 house a “starter kit.” Second, I never would have thought all these yuppie bankruptcies would level the market to below $100,000. “Oh yeah,” she says, “You can pick up a house like yours for sixty to seventy cents on the dollar in the monthly courthouse auctions.”

Plus now the neighbors are getting weird. “We told you that you can’t leave, Sam.” We’re always watching out for each other, hauling out the garbage can, house-sitting the dogs when gone on business or vacation, mowing each other’s lawns, and cooking BBQ together. All the sudden these folks are getting real friendly! “Let’s go out on the patio boat again next Saturday.” “Sam, come on by and see my new power-joiner woodworking thingamabob.” “Hey you got some brush piled up there – can I take it to the recycling center for ya?” Even the mean ole grandmas walking the block with their doggie-whacker golf clubs smile and stop for a chat.

This only makes Lori even more resolved. “Will we miss the downtown music and arts scene? Heck, we haven’t been downtown in about four years – and you haven’t either!” See, Austin is so big now that “going downtown” is like going to a different country. The 25 miles takes about an hour and a half, what with all the congestion and construction. [This must sound hysterical to people living on an island.]

She’s close to getting a job down there and I’m checking for a high-speed Internet connection for a low-speed cost. Why do those silly little electrons seem to cost more on an island? Now for questions like moving company, rent a deuce-and-a-half truck, or get one of the shipping container “pods”?

Just don’t tell the neighbors how good it will feel on our last, long-assed ride from Austin, when we cross the causeway and see the blue waters of the Laguna Madre. We’re home!

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