This and That, Not-Spring Edition

This and That Mad Hatter Cartoon
This and That News Messenger

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

So here we are in almost mid-March. Trees are showing leaf buds and blooms, flowers are popping out of the ground. Night time temps are still in the mid-thirties, but daytime temps are up in the fifties and sixties. Tonight we change the clocks ahead one hour in anticipation of Spring, which this year is already happening.

I don’t much care for winter cold, but I’m wondering if trees budding in the beginning of March is such a good thing?

The Year That Was

The year of 2022 was busy for the Virginia edition of the Charest family. Between settling down into our new old house, working, and recreating, Winnie and I have had our share of adventures.

Moving and Selling Houses

We moved into our new old house back in December 2021. Right after moving in we put our former house on the market to sell. It took all of four days to accept a contract – the fastest and craziest real estate sale I’ve ever experienced. In those four days, the week before Christmas, we had at least six offers and each one bid up the previous offer. We closed in mid-January 2023, making us one-house owners for the first time since 2008.

Our home of fifteen years sold to to a Vietnamese family, seemingly a younger couple. We never actually met them but I did have some correspondence with the wife. A package for us arrived at the house after the couple moved in and the wife texted to let me know. She agreed to leave the packages on the front step and I went by to pick them up. It was a bitter-sweet feeling, seeing our former home under new ownership. But, it would be a great house for a family to raise children and I hope the new owners do just that.

No More Landlord Headaches

Having to not be landlords is a big relief. Not having the monthly headache of attempting to collect rent is already sweet. I’m also free of worrying about what our tenants are going to break next and how I’ll have to fix it. Our last set of tenants were the worse for destroying things. Not to mention, we had to deal with them being behind in paying rent for two years, starting even before the zombie apocalypse . Having to put up with increasingly less-creative excuses each month for why they couldn’t pay, or (best case) pay late was – tiring.

Those tenants left with the house essentially not livable. There was extensive crayon/paint/ink markings on every vertical surface in the house – inside and outside walls, cabinets, and doors. Interior doors were broken, there was black mold in the bathrooms, large holes in several walls, and floors scuffed down to bare wood. It took us weeks to renovate the house.

Not to mention, a lovely mature fruit-bearing cherry tree in the front yard had mysteriously died the year prior to the tenants leaving. They had complained about the tree starting from when they moved in, because it created “too much shade” on the front lawn. I’m sure the tree dying was a coincident.

I’m still angry about losing that lovely tree.

A Year In A New House

Although we’ve moved, we still have a lot of stuff still packed. This house is smaller than our former home with less useable wall space. So, a lot of my framed photos and memorabilia are still in boxes waiting for me to figure out where to display them. At some point, I’ll probably downsize my collections. But not yet.

Meanwhile, we’ve done some home improvement upgrades. Winnie rebuilt an ugly section of driveway into a lovely patio space using all found materials. She also built a new vegetable garden. I rewired the free-standing garage/shed and started rebuilding my workshop. I stopped when the weather got cold, but I plan on getting back to it real soon. Meanwhile, we’re just finishing a painful project of replacing the home’s power panel and upgrading electrical service. Which will probably be the topic of a future post.

We sold off some furniture before moving as it wouldn’t fit here. Which led to us buying some new furniture and making creative reuse of the furniture we kept. It balances out. There’s a few pieces of furniture I still own that came up from Mississippi, after surviving Hurricane Katrina. These few items, although a bit battered from use, are links to my past. Reminders of where I’ve been and what I’ve overcome.

More Recreation Time

Winnie was laid off from her job when the zombie apocalypse started in March 2020. She’s chosen to remain a homemaker. Effectively retired. So, with my job on a regular five-day work schedule, and no landlord issues, we had a lot of recreation time last year. We were out kayaking, boating, or making day trips, just about every weekend. It was nice, and a hint of what my pending retirement might be like. Except retirement will come with less money.

I’m looking to having frequent recreation events again this coming season. Along with making more plans for pending retirement. My younger brother Howard will be retiring from his career as public school teacher this June. Younger sister Melinda is effectively retired and spending time hanging around her children, grandchildren, and increasingly more numerous great-grandchildren.

My retirement is looming in my future.

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