Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Squirrel Mafia

There is a gang problem in our neighborhood. There are about five or six of them. They are demanding and if they don't get their way, destructive. They exact their revenge quickly, to make sure we know who is boss. They are the Squirrel Mafia.

When we first moved here, we decided that since Bubba liked to watch the birds out the window on the back porch, we would get a bird feeder for the tree outside the playroom window. We didn't know what trouble we were inviting to our yard.

At first we only saw a squirrel once and a while, and his lackey, the chipmunk. They would come to the other feeder on the back porch from time to time and eat, the chipmunk stuffing all he could into his pouches before swan diving into the bushes when my mom came out to chase him away.
"Let him eat." I'd say. "They are cute, and they are hungry too."
She warned me that they would steal all of the food, leaving none for anyone else. 
Little did I know.

Day after day the feeder would empty quicker and quicker. Some days it would be empty right after morning nap. He would stare in the window at me like he was saying, "Hey, lady! Where's my grub?!" I would refuse to fill it til the next morning.

Then the destruction started. Little pieces of plastic from the feeder scattered to the ground. Finally he tore off one of the stoppers and it just had an open hole in the bottom that seeds leaked through.

It was time for a new feeder. At Lowes, in the garden center I found a "Squirrel Resistant" feeder and figured it was worth a try. At least this one was made of metal and glass, so he couldn't tear it up like the last one. 

Anxiously, we put up the feeder and waited. Twenty minutes later the ring leader arrived and promptly started munching on seeds. Not even slightly "squirrel resistant".
Here is Bubba watching the squirrel and he seems to me to be saying,
"We were bamboozled!"

One or two rainy days in a row and I didn't go out to fill the feeder. They were not amused.
The next morning I went out and the feeder was on the ground the top hook that screws in still attached to the tree branch. Those tricky guys unscrewed it from the base. After the fall the feeder's wire frame is all bent out of shape and lopsided.

Our newest purchase was a suet feeder which is basically bird seed packed in lard, and it goes in this wire cage. We figured at the least it might slow them down, or give the birds something to eat while they squirrels hogged the feeder. 
The moment of truth, the lead squirrel went up to the suet and sniffed it. 
He looked in the window at me with distain. "What is this!?" 
As luck would have it squirrels are apparently not fond of suet.  
Or so I thought.

I began to notice larger and larger chunks of it missing over the next couple of days. 
Then I noticed a squirrel reach in and grab a chunk then lick the grease from his arms. 
Oh, well. There goes that.
The last couple of days have been particularly rainy, so I haven't filled the feeder. One morning I went out to find this:

Suet feeder chain dangling from the branch and the cage busted open on the ground. Entire suet block gone.
Their message is clear:
Remember to fill the feeder or destruction will follow.

I opened the back door to take a picture, everyone else ran, except this little guy.
He may be tiny, but he is fierce.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Home Buying Purgatory

I bet you are wonder what has happened to me. 
It has been busy, not any busier than before. 
Actually in some ways everything has slowed down. 
To a stand still. 
Which has made me not feel so much like writing. 
Besides in a weird way it seemed if I mentioned what all has been happening, with the new house before we closed it might jinx it. But that's silly right?

So here it goes. Remember the house with the super awesome kitchen that was priced a little too high? Well forget it.  The current owners thought their super awesome kitchen was too super awesome to lower the price to what we were willing to pay. 
As nice as it might have been to move it to a house and have not remodeling whatsoever to do would have been, it was not worth that much extra money. 
There was another house we were seriously looking at at the same time. When we decided that super awesome kitchen house was not worth as much as they wanted for it, we decided to go with our other option.

The two houses were total opposites. The one with the super awesome kitchen was move in ready, the other house was a HUD owned foreclosure that needed a bit of TLC. Maybe more than a bit. As foreclosures go, it is not in that bad shape. 
I think secretly my husband liked this one better. Even though remodeling is a pain you do get to make things exactly how you want it. Every time we looked at a house we sort of liked, he would draw up basement "man cave" plans on a napkin, so I know he really does want to mold a house to fit us in some way. And this house has a HUGE unfinished basement to make in to the "man cave" of his dreams.

So here is the problem. It is a HUD foreclosure, the government has some tricky stuff to figure out when buying one of these places. First you have to have your realtor bid on a website for the house, like ebay, except you don't know when the auction ends. Some one in a government office checks all the bids and if they like one they accept it, only they don't really have a time frame. They can do it right after you bid, or wait weeks. Apparently this is an improvement from what it used to be like. Our realtor explained that they used to take months, back when the market was busier. 
So once we decided to let the super awesome kitchen house go, we were prepared to  make our bid, and then, the next morning when our realtor went to the HUD bidding website, the house was gone! 
After a very stressful morning making calls, she found out that HUD temporarily unlisted it to lower the price! Score! So the next day our bid went in. Then the following day Bubba had a doctor appointment in Wisconsin, because now that we have Wisconsin insurance, we have to go there to see the doctor. (don't even get me started on this one, this has made getting treatment for my psoriatic arthritis a nightmare, still no appointment with the new rheumatologist yet btw. We'll save that for another post.) 
Anyway in this case, it worked out, because HUD accepted our bid, which meant we had 24 hours to get all of the paperwork on an official bid signed and sent in. Then we waited again for them to officially accept our written offer, because the online one wasn't really official. That took another week, which is also quick by previous HUD standards.

This past week we had our house inspection. So we had to get the water and gas turned on. The electric company was supposed to turn it on on Friday for a Monday morning inspection. Unexpectedly, they turned it on Thursday. Our realtor decided to check out the house and make sure everything was ok. She enters to hear water running at full blast! 
All of the sinks and showers have been winterized since the house is an uninhabited foreclosure, when they winterize the house they leave the faucets on full blast and cut the power to the main water. When the electricity came on, so did a water pump. 

The good new is all of the drains work great. 
The bad new is there was a open pipe in the basement that possibly went to a water softener or something at one time, but doesn't anymore. 
Water ran in the basement all night. 
The basement luckily wasn't really finished, but it was framed out, and we did want to use some of the framing, but now it probably has to come out. My husband bought a shop vac and a dehumidifier and cleaned up the basement. 
Ah the joys of home ownership! Wait a minute, we don't even own it! 
The other realtor, the one who represents HUD, did not really seem to care one way or the other about the mini flood, and was content to leave it, so my husband decided since we would hopefully be the owners, he would take care of what he could now, even though HUD doesn't let you make any repairs til after closing.

It turns out it was a really good thing my husband decided to clean up the basement a bit because the bank appraiser showed up the next day. Now whole loan processes is a little crazy too, because we have a VA loan, and the VA is a little specific with their own rules as well. Some banks that do VA loans will not let you buy a foreclosure. Technically the VA wants a house to be able to be inhabited at the time of closing. Now the line is a little fuzzy on what that means. Does the fact that the carpet is trashed and needs replacing, or that the only appliances there are the oven and microwave, or that there was a mini flood in the basement, or the list of other repairs suggested by our house inspector mean it is uninhabitable? It seems it depends on the bank appraiser. So we will only know when his report comes out. 

So that is where we are. Waiting for the report to see if our loan will go through... home buying purgatory.