Posted by: X_LA_Native | November 18, 2007

Four months and 1250 miles…

It’s hard to believe I made that last post four months ago. Since then:
We sold the house.
We bought a house.
We moved out.
We vagabonded.
We moved in.
And now we’re remodeling, but that’s another topic altogether.

The Sale
While we didn’t get quite the offer we were looking for, it was a fair one. Better yet, it came from people we LIKED. Which had some pros and cons to it during further negotiations, but it all worked out. The weekend after accepting the offer, we hauled ass to Texas to look for a house. Much like the previous trip, we didn’t find anything that suited us, and began the drive home moderately depressed and drawing up Plans B and C.

The Purchase
A wonderful surprise was waiting in our email when we arrived – a 1985 brick home on 16 wooded acres – it had everything: a shop, a barn, TWO ponds…even a screened porch. We put in an offer based on photos taken by the owner and our agent. The only hang-up was the owners would make their best efforts to be out by the 31st – and we closed in San Diego on the 12th. We’d deal.

Move and Keep Moving
Now that we were in escrow, the tempo picked up considerably. We had to pack up what we thought was already pared down and fit it all into one P.O.D. and three vehicles – only one towing a trailer.

Here’s the P.O.D:

The trailer, final version:

And if you squint at this picture, you can see just above the cab of the work truck in front, a teeny slice of the blue tarp as we head into a dust storm in Arizona:

Full disclosure: the gas gauge on the truck towing the trailer doesn’t work. Looking back on it now, we’re lucky we only ran out of fuel twice. Once in Road Forks, NM and the next in Junction, TX.

And no, it WASN’T funny then.

But when we finally arrived at our new property in Burton? We. were. thrilled. The street it’s on is bridged-over intermittently by oaks and other trees. We turned into the drive in a state of awe. Some trees were draped with Spanish moss, and unlike every other property we’d seen in Texas, the photos actually didn’t do it justice. (Seriously. The real estate agents out here make the Playboy photo artists look like amateurs.)

The owners were gracious enough to let us store a lot of stuff inside AND out, thereby freeing us to become vagabonds for the days before the closing. After about a week of paper shuffling and signing, we were freed up enough to head out for the east coast to visit friends in Boone, NC, Atlanta, GA (Kaaate-y!) and Jacksonville, FL. In a cost-saving move, we bought a 22’ Travel Trailer to cut down on the hunts for dog-friendly hotels.

Moving In
Per the paperwork, we closed escrow on the new house on the 31st, but weren’t able to move all of our stuff in until November 2nd. Staying a couple of extra days at the local RV park (NOT the one that’s clothing optional – yes, there is one) wasn’t a hardship. One of our biggest concerns about all this property was how would the dogs respond to no real boundaries save an electric cattle fence? Pretty well, it turns out.

The Big Dog, who gave us a heart attack at a rest stop in Tennessee when after the leash broke he bolted UP the off ramp towards traffic, actually listens quite well when he’s not being chased. The Girly-Dog on the other hand, is much more prone to be led by the nose – all those smells! They’ve both experienced the electrified cattle fence, and rightfully so, they respect it.

Oh! Did I mention we have cows?

My pal Bob has suggested their names be Sid and Nancy, I just can’t decide which one’s Sid. Perhaps the red one as she’s tricky and tends to taunt the Big Dog.

We haven’t got everything put away yet, not even close, so it doesn’t quite feel like “home” yet. We’ve got a bed set up, a makeshift living room, TV, and the Internets, and as of last Friday my connection to work is finally(!) up and running. The basics are taken care of. The house will take some work to bring it up to date, but we’ll most likely have the office and the master done by the end of the year. The rest will get done as time allows.

I can’t begin to describe much less discover all the things I like about this place. Sitting out on the deck at night, the ambient sounds awe me. There’s a constant trilling that’s interspersed with the sound of crickets. When the leaves rustle the odds are even it’s either the cows shuffling near the fence, or frogs in search of whatever it is they’re searching for so far from the pond. I hear hoot owls, cows other than ours, donkeys, roosters, and coyotes. Some nights I hear the squirrels plotting their antics from the trees. If I honestly didn’t know better, I’d think the soundtrack was a creation by Uncle Walt himself. I think we’re going to like it here.

Posted by: X_LA_Native | July 15, 2007

Less Than 30 Days Later…

Twenty-eight days from the day we returned from our scouting tour of East Texas our house hit the Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Two days later was the first realtor caravan. We. Are. Tired.

In those twenty-eight days we accomplished what would normally have been five years’ worth of fairly routine maintenance. The transformation is remarkable – our home has gone from a home to a “model home”. Unfortunately, the model home version has a significantly more sterile feel to it than we’re used to. But that will only last as long as the house is on the market – we hit escrow and the pandemonium starts all over again.

Thankfully, my husband had the foresight to order a POD. For a reasonable sum, this company brings you an 8x8x16’ box, you fill it, they take it away and then when you arrive at your final destination, they bring it back to you! Genius! Courtesy of that box, we were able to go from a garage looking like this,

to one that now looks like this:

(in seventeen years, eleven working as an electrical contractor, my husband accumulated a lot of materials. No, really?!? Yes. – ed.). Not only did we get the garage in the pod, but a most of the shed, side yard, and attic. The big question was would the truck from the company be able to lift it out of the driveway after we’ve loaded it? I guess they’re hydraulics were good because they got it out of here with nary a glitch (phew!).

So now we’re in Stage Two, and subject to the whim of real estate agents and their client schedules. Horror of horrors, I’ve had to turn the ringers back on on all the phones and promise to answer the damn thing! However more lookers equals more potential buyers, and we want this place sold. I hope I get just a leetle break before Stage Three.

Posted by: X_LA_Native | June 18, 2007

Texas Two-Step

“The next few weeks” happened a little quicker than the previous post would imply as we set out for Texas less than a week later. We landed at our friend’s house in Austin seriously sleep deprived and moderately coherent. Unfortunately, our brief stay was uncomfortable for a number of reasons and doubly unfortunate, the experience came close on the heels of another disappointment from the friends category, so initially the trip wasn’t starting out so well for me.

Thankfully, lush landscapes and miles of open road can help soothe the spirit.

After navigating the special hell that is the 290, we were on our way eastward – through Elgin, Giddings, and La Grange. I was hoping La Grange would be one of the towns that would make the final cut, except for the same reason I liked it (ZZ Top song of the same name), teh hubby didn’t. Impasse = pass.

We made it as far east as Conroe (a flatter Tahoe) and as far north as Huntsville (yes, they mean THAT Ol’ Sparky). We couldn’t have been more sold on the expanse of views that greeted us with each tick of the odometer. Finally, there was room to breathe. Throughout, we kept returning through one little burg, each time coming from a different direction and seeing a different approach. With each pass, we grew to like it more, and opted to stay the night. Brenham is home of Bluebell Ice Cream (the finest in the South) and the Poor Clare Nuns (breeders of miniature horses).

The next morning, we stormed the Chamber of Commerce, and then with the assistance of my sister-in-law, hooked up with a realtor. While the properties we looked at with her ranged from “No”, to “Oh no!” to “OMFG, where’s the gasoline and a match?!” the experience did a lot to get us all using the same vocabulary. To give her credit they weren’t her listings and now we specifically know whose to avoid. After huddling in her office for another hour, it was time to head west.

Leaving Brenham at about 1:00pm on Monday, we decided we’d get as far as we could and then stop for the night. “As far as we could” turned out to be Sierra Blanca almost 11 hours later, 80 miles outside El Paso. Sierra Blanca has two motels: scary and scarier. Scarier was a ranch version that had a distinct Bates Motel vibe, and scary looked like a Tombstone knock-off – but we were tired enough to settle on scary. The innkeeper there was happily stripping the wood floors of the lobby in what I can only guess was a meth-induced spate of productivity, and G-d only knows what the innkeeper for scarier was up to. THAT lobby was lit only by the neon “Open” sign. The room was clean, the TV worked long enough to see Anderson Cooper on CNN ask about Paris Hilton, “Why do we care?” and the bed was soft-ish. We slept.

Coming further west was bittersweet. Always on previous road trips, we were coming home, our haven. Not so much this time. We were seeing the landscape through eyes that had become accustomed to a different landscape, accompanied by a different tempo. Without a doubt, we’re under a Greener Grass spell. Without a doubt, we’re in for one hell of a ride. Then again, it’s not everyday you get the option to make the choice – and have the wherewithal – to start over. And that’s where we’re at.

Posted by: X_LA_Native | June 2, 2007

Several Month Round-up

I’ve strived to keep this blog light and friendly, not only because I think it’s more fun, but because I’ve a hard time talking, much less writing, about what’s going on in my little piece of the world.

Truth: the last 6-7 months have been tough. My husband is in the trades (an electrical contractor) and starting about that time, there’s been a precipitous decline in work. There’s been a few jobs here and there, but for the most part, since mid-November, I’ve been the breadwinner. Hey, we make the mortgage, the lights and the Internets are on (the latter when Cox complies), there’s food in our and the pups bellies, we make it.

In January or so, we got notice that the City is going through with their plans, and building three low- to mid-income homes behind our house. Two homes we could have dealt with moderately well, but three? When there were only two houses back there previously? That disturbed my husband. A lot. He’d searched for a house like this. And he specifically looked in areas that were fully developed. He searched, and found, what he could finally call home. He was devastated.

Also during the last months, my job has attained a certain level of dissatisfaction. I’m an editor. I was hired to edit, parse, and convert back to English, automotive information – with an occasional stint backing up Customer Service if they get busy. So in January, when we lost one of the Customer Service reps, I hoped it wouldn’t be long before they found a replacement. I couldn’t have been more wrong, because typical of corporate culture, the leaner the better. When I last looked at the numbers, 60% of my job is now spent doing Customer Service.

[quick time out: thank you for reading this far]

There are two talents I lack: the ability to sell, and the ability to suffer fools gladly. I’m not proud of the latter, but it is what it is, and I’ve learned to accept that about myself. I’ve applied for two Marketing Communications positions internally. I continue to look elsewhere, so it’s not as though I’m sitting around on my tush, I am doing the footwork.

This week has provided the last straw. In the mail, we received a letter from the City. Trust me when I say we eye these with extreme trepidation – it’s NEVER good news. The bombshell? In their infinite wisdom, they’re now going to build a 90-unit low-income housing project less than two blocks from my house. This makes the ninth subsidized housing project in a 10-block area – my home being the epicenter. There’s no amount of protesting, petitions, meetings with the Mayor, or voicing opposition at City Council meetings that will have any effect. We’ve been there. We’ve done that.

For myself, when I add the rhetoric coming out of the administration and its lackeys over the immigration bill, I feel a fair amount of guilt for finding the situation no longer tolerable. And for no good reason should I. We’ve reached the last straw. We’re out.

In the next few weeks, maybe sooner, we’ll be traveling to Texas seriously looking for a new home. Thankfully, we know some good people in the state, and have made the acquaintance of a couple more. Trading on their insider info, I trust we’ll be able to find a place that suits us. Bottom line, it’s change and neither I nor my husband handle that with a whole lot of grace.

My HS history teacher believed that every 10 years, you should change your career, your life. Looking at it from her perspective, we’re well past due.

Thanks for sticking through the tale.

Posted by: X_LA_Native | May 25, 2007


To the new spot. Hopefully with less twitchyness than [redacted] Blogger.

Posted by: X_LA_Native | February 3, 2007© Funnies

I had no idea you can buy dairy on Amazon. I have no idea why you would. It appears as though Tuscan Whole Milk has become a cult classic. And the reviews are hysterical:

Just because some people aren’t interested in the march of civilizations, people who would apparently be just as happy if we could all go back in our time-machines and eat dirt, because we’ve devolved into worms, doesn’t mean that it’s funny to joke about something as relevant as interneting our grocery lists and getting milk from the mailman.

As I scrolled through the entries I realized the commenting has been going on for months. It’s almost a mini Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.
Good stuff. And good for you!
(H/T: Eugene Rant)

Posted by: X_LA_Native | January 22, 2007


Rex Grossman to the Chicago Sports press and Troy Aikman who called today’s game: STFU SVP!

And to every talking bubblehead who wonders aloud, “Can this team get out from under the shadow of the ’85 Bears, another round of STFU please. This team wouldn’t be laboring under the comparison if you hadn’t made it in the first place.

Although it’s kind of like saying, “It’s an honor just to be nominated”, I really do hope the Super Bowl is a good game.


Posted by: X_LA_Native | January 8, 2007


Back when I was a senior in college, the Art Department would occasionally grant a Masters student one of the galleries for their work. While I don’t remember all of the installations from my last year, I do remember one. Looking now at the curricula, it would fall under the heading “Public Art”.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The artist had been given the use of the larger of the galleries, and he used the entire space to create a “Bayou Vignette”.

When you walked into the gallery, the first thing you noticed was the air: it was humid and aromatic. There was the smell of raw earth, growing plants, and plants that given up and made way for new ones. The lighting was crafted to suggest twilight, and hanging from the ceiling were small LEDs that looked like fireflies [or so I’m told – ed.].

On the floor, the artist had rendered a water effect that caught the lighting in isolated reflecting pools. The ambient sound was of rain and ostensibly, the sounds of the bayou. Cutting across the gallery, there was a meandering bridge made of aged and sporadically warped wood that creaked as you walked on it. At the end of the bridge, was a tin-roofed shack with a wrap-around porch.

Once inside, it was as if you were peering into a life interrupted. A radio playing country music rested on a desk, a book folded open on a mattress, a percolator brewing away on a hot plate. And still, you heard the rain and the ambient sounds from outside.

It was magic. Persuasive enough that ever since, I’ve wanted to see similar areas, in real-life, for myself.

A few of my classmates were incredibly talented. While most of the Graphic Design majors (myself included) started our careers in some corporate backwater, those talented classmates went to Disney, Warner Bros., or some of the other studios. There were a few of my classmates who were incredibly talented. While most of the Graphic Design majors (myself included) started our careers in some corporate backwater, those talented Fine Arts majors went to Disney, Warner Bros., or some of the other studios. One classmate in particular, duplicated, down to the brushstroke, this Rubens painting. Googling his name, I just discovered he was Visual Effects Art Director on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. And that, is just too cool.

Posted by: X_LA_Native | January 4, 2007

“The following takes place at 12:00 a.m. …

…on the day of California Presidential primary”. Since that opening voiceover, I’ve been in it for five seasons. I’m talking about 24 of course. Five years of spending the first 20 minutes sitting on the edge of the couch and the last 40 minutes huddled towards the back of it, watching through my fingers. It’s good, and the season premiere is in less than two weeks. teh Yay™!
In honor of this, the sixth year, is celebrating “Talk Like Jack Bauer Day”. While it was possible to get away with “Talk Like a Pirate Day” at work, these suggestions don’t necessarily translate to a non-hostile work environment. Well, except for the random use of, “Damnit!” That’s a pretty universal workplace epithet.

Jack’s back.

Happy New Year.

Posted by: X_LA_Native | December 22, 2006

Nope, not gonna do it.

One of my greatest fears is heights. Climbing ladders over a certain height is enough to cause nightmares. I managed to overcome it out of necessity during the Cedar Fire, but that’s because self- and property-preservation took a higher priority than the fear of climbing up on the roof.

Not too long ago, I watched a Discovery/TLC/History Channel program on Bolivia’s Road of Death, and that gave me some serious pause. Dark Roasted Blend took the meme several steps further and compiled a pictorial of The Most Dangerous Roads in the World.

The ones that are passable by vehicle are bad enough, but the hiking trail in China is flat-out chilling. Theoretically on those passable by vehicle, you could get out and walk. Theoretically. The hiking trail? There are no turn-outs!

‘Course my husband, who has acrobat in his DNA [not kidding – ed.], sees these pictures and says, “Cool. You wanna?”

(H/T Ace)

Older Posts »