a bench with a view

a bench with a view

Monday, March 23, 2015

A to Z, Theme Reveal



It is that time, time to reveal my theme for this year's A to Z Challenge that starts April 1, 2015.  I'm so excited this year about the challenge.  This is the first year I'm a "minion", a helper on Stephen Tremp's Troops.  Looking forward to that adventure.

And now what everyone is waiting for.

My theme.

For A to Z

2015

Ready for it??

Little story behind it.  Remember last year when I did the theme of pictures from where we walked Koda? I liked the thought of a picture theme and short posts which I somewhat accomplished.  You know me and words.  I do my best, but sometimes its hard to keep it short and sweet (maybe because I'm tall???)

Well I decided to go with that theme again this year.  Obviously not where we walk Koda since we don't live there any more and we don't have him any more.

But we live some place else this year that just coincidentally its abbreviation is AZ (Arizona).

So without further ado, I announce my theme for A to Z 2015

A to Z All About Me, Arizona Style

Again its a picture theme, again I'm trying my best to keep posts short and simple.  It will be things about me, likes, dislikes, things about where we live in Arizona.  Some cute, some silly, some sad, some information, hopefully none boring.  Some you will know about if you've read my blog for a bit. Some will be new. 

All pictures have been taken in Arizona since we moved here in January.

I hope you'll enjoy it.

Little housekeeping before the challenge:

For those who faithfully read my blog, thank you, please do not feel you have to read and comment on all 26 posts in Arizona.

My plan is to read my usual favorite blogs first in my order of things, then the blogs as my helping as part of Tremp's Troops, then go and visit new blogs.

This should all work UNLESS the mandatory overtime they just started at work continues on longer than it is supposed to.  It is suppose to wrap up by end of March, but you never know how that goes.  Otherwise, I'll just fine tune things a bit.

Still not too late to sign up for the challenge.

Hope you enjoy A to Z All About Me, Arizona Style

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

I just can't imagine, can you?

So we are kind of looking at houses here, maybe to buy one.  We might in the near future have a chunk of cash to invest and it might be good to invest in a house here, where we used to live or some place we might want to live down the road if/when we can ever retire.  If the house is elsewhere than here, we would rent it out. If here, we would live in it.  Can't really go into more specifics about things for a few months, but will keep everyone updated as I can.

So, like I said, we are looking at houses here.  They are definitely less expensive than houses in Southern California.  What you can get here, more square feet, etc., would cost at least one hundred thousand dollars or more in Southern California.  You truly do pay for the privilege of living in Southern California, mainly for the weather and the beach.

Yesterday hubby was looking at some houses here on the internet.  He was doing one of those calculator types of things if you put down this for a down payment what your payments would be over 30 years, etc.  What we might put down over a 30 year loan, adding on home owner's insurance and taxes, would be a reasonable amount, merely a few hundred dollars.

UNTIL

you added on in this particular housing development the home owner association fees.  Honestly, we thought it was a misprint until we did some checking and found out indeed it was true.

I'm sure a lot if not all of you are aware of homeowners associations.  You pay dues monthly, or maybe quarterly or yearly and you might or might not get some benefits being associated with the homeowners association.  We are currently living in one with the house we are renting (and come back and see G and H and R for my A/Z challenge and you'll see what I think of them). 

This particular house hubby looked at was 1912 square feet.  Three bedrooms, 3 baths.  Kind of a cute arrangement in that there was a separate building that had a bedroom and a bath (they called in the in-law suite). I would call it "the guest bedroom."  Nice corner lot.  Fenced yard pretty much all the way around if one wanted a dog down the line (and the jury continues to be out if we want another dog).

Reasonable price. 

EXCEPT

for the homeowners associated fee.  I kid you not. 

It was $421 a month.

Yes you read that right.

We double checked on the official homeowners' association site and indeed that was the monthly dues/fees/highway robbery; call it what you want.

Close to $5000 a year......

What did that $5000 get you? Well the association would pay for the maintenance of your landscape for the year.  And you got to use the club house with the pools (one indoor, one outdoor), the tennis courts, the exercise facility.

But $5000???? We drove around the neighborhood and saw at least 6 houses for sell.  Some had "reduced price" advertising. I'm thinking a lot aren't selling because of that outrageous fee.

Would you pay that much for a homeowners association fee?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

An Arizona 6 Word Saturday


Linking up with Cate over at 6 Word Saturday this week:

My six words:

We don't do that in Arizona.

What don't we do in Arizona?

We don't change the time for Daylight Savings Time and then back again.

So I won't be changing my clock tonight.  I noticed that we get dark here about 6:45 p.m. these days.  Slowly a few minutes of extra daylight in the morning and at night too.  When we first moved here first of January, hubby was driving to work in the dark at 7:15 a.m.  Now it is getting light at 6:30 a.m. 

It will be nice not to have to adjust to the changing of the clocks.

And just a sneak preview prior to the theme unreveal for A/Z Challenge on March 23rd, my theme has to do a bit with Arizona......stay tune.........

But don't forget to change your clocks and have a great rest of the weekend.

If you want to play along, click here

Thursday, February 26, 2015

fibers


I love this cotton fiber infinity shawl that I won in a giveaway that was put on by
Jacqueline at Cheapskate Blethering to help promote Joanne's weaving business.  Joanne blogs at Cup on the Bus and her ETSY shop is so cutely called Everything Old is New Again.  Joanne is a fascinating woman who I have enjoyed getting to know through blogging.  She is raising two of her grandchildren, is the clerk for her township, takes amazing pictures for her blog, and somehow found the time to renew a passion she had in her younger years of weaving.  This shawl I won is one of her latest weavings she has done.  It is absolutely beautiful, soft and warm.  Thanks Jacqueline for holding the giveaway and thanks Joanne for sharing a bit of your work with me. I'll definitely be checking out your ETSY shop in the future and would recommend everyone else take a look too.

I did not like the fiber that got cut yesterday here some place in Arizona.  A fiber that brought internet and cell service and cable TV and regular landline phone service to a vast majority of Northern Arizona and other parts of the state.  A fiber that initial reports said was cut because of vandalism.  It wrecked havoc at the hospital hubby works at, they couldn't admit patients (I'm thinking elective patients, not emergency patients).  It wrecked havoc on the 911 call system (they were announcing on the local radio stations what number to call instead of 911 for emergencies).  It was a mess for a lot of local businesses.

Of course since I depend on the Internet for my work, it shut me down. When I first noticed I didn't have Internet, I called the company and got the automated "helper" first who had me do this and that to try to restore my Internet. Disconnect my modem, turn off my computer, see if I had any services like TV or phone, etc. I was getting a bit annoyed with "her" (automated voice was a female voice) because she would say things like "I'm just telling you what a technician would tell you" or "are you there" when it was taking me a minute to figure out what to do next. Finally she couldn't help me any more so she transferred me to a technician (I could never figure out how to bypass her). When she transferred my call, I got disconnected.

So I began the process again by calling the Internet company. Thankfully this time I bypassed the automated helper but was on hold for 30 minutes (I kid you not) waiting for help.  Meanwhile, I'm frustrated because my work will be saved for 30 minutes in case of things like this happening, but by now it was 50 minutes so I lost the report I was working on (it just goes back into the main shuffle of things, someone eventually does it).  Finally the technician comes on the line and then after I verify all my info he says "oh, you have an outage in your area." I assume it was just a neighborhood one so I ask "how long do you think before service is resumed."  He said "they don't know, they have a technician working on it....." and he gets disconnected.  By now I don't bother calling back because I identify the problem is not with my system and I just have to be patient to wait until it is restored.

I called my supervisor, explained the situation and waited and waited and waited.  Thankfully with my tablet I could get onto the Internet without WiFi so I used that and figured out eventually that it was a cut fiber and that they were working on it. Finally got restored at 6:30 my time, my regular shift finishes at 6 p.m.  So I took the roughly 5 hours I didn't work as vacation time. If the fault lies within my business that I can't work, then they pay us down time. If the fault lies within our services, then we have to make up the time or take vacation time or not get paid.

So moral of story:

Check out Joanne's fibers.

Don't cut Internet fibers.

and have a great day!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Talkative Thursday


I wanted to share this on Wordless Wednesday, but then I forgot, so decided to do a Talkative Thursday post.  I have nothing to say, but that won't stop me from talking, you know me.

Isn't it pretty?  Its outside in our front yard.  We've been having really pretty mild temperatures (sorry to those who are struggling with cold and record amounts of snow).  This being our first winter here, we really have no idea what to expect, but are enjoying the low 70's and lots of sun. Nights cool down to the mid 30's.  I guess the "natives" here say we will get at least one more bout of freezing weather.  I wonder what it will do to those plants and trees that are starting to bloom.

A little lizard comes out and enjoys our back patio and the area by the air conditioner.  He is only about 3 inches long including the tail.  Must be warm enough for him.

Settling in to the routines.  Hubby gets up at 6 a.m. to leave for work at 7 a.m.  I get up with him, read my blogs, after he leaves I get ready for the day, do my Bible reading and prayer, a little bit of housework and then take a walk before I start work at 9:30 a.m.  My schedule used to be 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. when I was in Pacific time, now I'm in Mountain Standard Time so I had to start an hour later and finish an hour later than before.  It actually works out quite well.  Strange, but I like the long time in the morning to get things done before I start to work.  I'm a morning person so by evening after work, I'm ready to "chill" and decompress.

Looking forward to the A/Z challenge; sign ups are still in progress, so if you are interested, head over here to do so.  Lots of craziness in the month of April, but lots of fun too.

The other night in the wee hours of the morning, hubby and me both heard a "chirping" sound, the sound like a battery that is starting to go from your smoke detector makes.  Just one chirp.  Being the brave woman that I am, I stayed in bed while hubby went to check things out.  Everything was fine.  No other chirps.

The next morning I started to investigate to see if I could figure out what needed to be changed. I counted, we have SEVEN (I kid you not) smoke detectors in this 1900 square foot house.  They are all smoke detectors, not carbon monoxide detectors.  75% of the house has tall ceilings.  Supposely, as told to us by our property management people, someone comes twice a year to change the batteries in the smoke detectors.  By process of elimination, we changed the battery of the smoke detector closest to the bedroom, hoping that is the right one. 

Hubby possibly is going out of town soon.  I hope I'm not awakened in the middle of the night with chirping because I don't think I'll be able to negotiate the ladder that it will take to change the battery if it is a high ceiling smoke detector. 

However, I feel really safe with seven smoke detectors. 

Geesh, I did manage to write a lot, though I had nothing to say :)


Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday letters Las Vegas style

Linking up with Paula over at Smidgens, Snippets, and Bits for this week's Friday letters.  To play along click here:

My letters (based on a few days in the Las Vegas area this past week)

Dear Henderson, Nevada:

Lovely weather we had during our stay. Enjoyed lots of sunshine and the mid 70 temperatures,

signed, a warm body.

Dear Green Valley Ranch Resort:

Really, $14.40 for a glass of wine? It was good, not outstanding, but not worth that price. I could buy several bottles of wine for the cost of two glasses at your Lobby Bar.  Sorry, won't be going there again.

signed, a disgruntled bar hopper

Dear Lindo Michoacan:

Best Mexican food ever! And I've eaten quite a lot of Mexican food over the years.  Good atmosphere, wonderful view, attentive servers, delicious food. What more can I say?

signed, a stuffed diner

Dear Company that put on meeting hubby was at:

Thank you very much for including me in the dinners Tuesday and Wednesday night.  That was very kind of you.  Totally enjoyed myself and the places you picked to eat were definitely winners in my sight.

signed, a grateful wife

Dear Mini-Bar in Hotel:

I never stayed at a hotel with a mini bar before.  In eager anticipation I looked to see what you had in store for me.  I didn't appreciate the $8 for a large water or $4 for a small one, or $30 for a small 375 mL bottle of wine or the other prices for soft drinks and snacks. And that Intimacy Kit for $25? Let me just say it took hours to get the blush off my face after reading what was in it.  Needless to say, I didn't buy anything from you.  

signed, a thrifty consumer

Dear Black or White movie:

Truly enjoyed watching you while hubby was at his meeting. Not a lot of times I get to see what could be considered a chick flick.  Was disappointed when the movie was over.  I wanted more.

signed, a movie reviewer

Dear Casino:

Ewww....that's all I have to say.  I know you cater to the crowds, but the smoke in there......even in the nonsmoking section. In the future during a remodel, you might want to consider moving the food court to a totally nonsmoking separate part of the casino.  Just saying........

signed, wanting to keep healthy lungs

Dear Bloggers:

That was my last few days.  Enjoyed getting away for a few days while hubby had a meeting and had some time to myself.  Did not gamble, but walked around enjoying the sites, people watching, a shopping center close by, good food, a movie.  Thankful for safe travels.

signed, Betty

Thursday, February 5, 2015

and finally it was empty

If you were to tell me the day I moved into the house we lived in for four years back in January 2011 that one day I would see the house empty, I would have laughed and not believed a single word you said.  But it happened and I saw it on December 30, 2014, the day we moved out of it to come here to our new place in Arizona.

What a crazy "ride" it was though to come to that point where it was empty and not full of clutter.  You guys all know the story of us moving into it, a house of hubby's parents where they had lived since 1978.  It was cluttered and filled to the brim, so much so we just had a pathway from room to room when we first moved in.

We had decluttered a lot and I shared my woes about it at various places on my blog and how hard it was for me to live amongst so much clutter.  After a time we sort of ran out of steam and stopped going through things and stopped getting rid of things. The house was pretty much 80% done, the garage and storage shed more cluttered, but I really didn't care about them because I never went into the storage shed and the times I did laundry in the garage, I just had tunnel vision and did the laundry, didn't look at anything else.  I learned to live with clutter, though it was never a welcomed friend.  God worked in my heart a lot over those years and I came to appreciate the house and be grateful that I had a roof over my head, especially when I would do work with the homeless and I knew they would be thrilled to have a roof over their head if they could.

Fast forward to November/December 2014 when hubby gets the offer of the job in Arizona and we plan to eventually rent out the house we were living in for those four years. The house had been paid off for years so all we had to do the time we lived there was pay taxes and home owners insurance.

But now we had to clear the house, garage, and storage shed completely in preparation for the next plans for it.  It was easy for me to do the house, to ask hubby if he wanted to move this or that (china, furniture, glassware, etc.)  A lot he didn't and I was happy about that.  But I couldn't do anything with the garage because most of it was hubby's dad's tools and whatnot and I didn't know a screwdriver from a drill (exaggerating a bit here, but tools are not my expertise). The garage and storage shed were hubby's domain so to speak and it was up to him to clear those out.

We simply ran out of time to get it all done in addition to everything else that we had to do around that time.  Two days before the packers were supposed to be there the garage was still in a shambles and the storage shed had not been even touched. We finally grouped together what hubby wanted from the garage so the packers could pack that when they came. He had determined he wanted nothing from the shed for various reasons (he was concerned mainly about what creatures could be out there, spiders and whatnot).

So how did the house, garage, and storage shed come to be empty two days later?

I called a service that basically comes and hauls away what you do not want.  I found someone on Craigslist (I am very careful with dealings with Craigslist) who said they clean up garages and from hoarders.  I'm thinking "okay, you ain't seen anything like this," although I'm sure they must have in their years of experience.  I told the man what we had, the time constraints we were dealing with, and he said he would be by at 11 o'clock Monday morning, the day the packers were there, but we had already established what the packers would take and what was not going.

The man came as promised, looked at what we wanted to get rid of in the garage and the storage shed and quoted us a price to haul it all away, which was a reasonable price in my opinion. Honestly, at that point I just wanted it gone and I would have been willing to pay just about anything, but in reality it was less than $500, but not much less than $500. 

We agreed, we paid him. He and his friend starting working, getting the biggest trash bags I've ever seen and just started filling the bags up and throwing them in the trailer they brought along.  It took them two loads but they had everything cleared out in a span of four hours. 

As we saw them work, we saw some items that could have been worth some money, but the deal is once you agree to them cleaning it out and you pay them, the stuff becomes theirs, so we couldn't say "wait......" I'm sure he made a pretty penny on some of the items and I'm sure he knew that looking around at things when he first gave us the figure of what it would cost for him to haul it away.  He did give us some things, a ring he found, which wasn't worth anything from what we could tell, and cancelled checks from back in 1976 that I'm not sure how they ended up in the storage shed as they belonged to my brother in law's first wife before they were even married. How my in laws ended up with them, I'm not sure and we'll never know.

In the end, the house, garage, and storage shed were empty.  Oh we left a couple of things. Hoses we wouldn't need.  A rake, a shovel, that's about it.

But empty.  Four long years.  Probably close to 30,000 pounds of things disposed of, sold, or given away over that time.

That is clutter.  That borders a bit on hoarding.  I'm not going to fault hubby's parents for their desire to have things.  I'm not sure why they couldn't part with things over the years.

This has taught me how to not let such a thing happen in our lives and not to have anyone we love go through what we had to do to declutter stuff that did not belong to us.  Of course we won't have over 30,000 pounds of things to have someone declutter because we just moved a little over 5000 pounds of stuff and I can't see us ever getting to the point of buying, buying, buying stuff.  I tend to want to live as simply as I can.

So my advice after this experience.  Of course it is declutter and be aware that statistically one is not going to live forever this side of eternity.  So wisely plan what will happen to your stuff once you aren't there.  Come up with a plan and share that plan with those that matter.  We have such a plan in place for son with our stuff. 

I let the stuff we had to deal with consume me at times and affect the way I dealt in my relationship with hubby.  That was my fault in doing so and I take that responsibility in it.  I just had wished others took responsibility in their actions and had planned better for their final years.  But all I can do is learn from this.

And I think this pretty much wraps up my writings about clutter, decluttering, etc.  We basically started with a new slate here after we moved so I have no one to blame but myself if I allow clutter to take over.  There may be a post there or there, perhaps in the A/Z challenge, but I think I've said pretty much everything I can on the subject; thanks for sticking with me over these four years as I commisserated about our adventures, and what an adventure it was!

My final words on the subject, for me it truly is freeing to have less stuff.