Archive for the 'real estate' Category

The Changes Keep Coming

The Real Estate business has become a continual field of change over the last few years.  The market numbers no longer tell the same story of years past and the processes of buying and selling have changed significantly.  On top of that, there is a considerable consolidation and movement amongst the brokerages.  It is hard to keep up and difficult to interpret the meaning behind the statistics.

417 N Main Street, Sebastopol

Third quarter results are out and the numbers show an increase in the average price with a decline in the number of homes sold.  This might give an encouraging sign to home sellers – but don’t jump to conclusions.  Sales have declined because there are fewer homes on the market.  Over the last few months, foreclosures have slowed and, therefore, fewer homes are on the market.  There is a great deal of talk about the shadow market – homes that are either foreclosed and not on the market or homes that are to be foreclosed soon.  This shadow market continues to discourage investment buyers who are waiting for a greater selection and lower prices.  In the meantime, people who need to buy homes to live in are out looking for the great deal on their dream home.  Some of these folks are buying and they are buying higher priced homes at a significant discount from previous years.   Home seekers buying higher priced homes and investors sitting on the sidelines result in a higher average selling price without an increase in the price of any individual home.

More loan programs have been introduced that will allow first time home buyers to purchase a home with little to nothing down.  The programs differ from the exuberant past in the guidelines for qualification for these loans.  Interest rates are incredibly low which makes this a great time to buy if one is qualified – read this as a steady job, with a paycheck, good credit and little debt.   The all cash offer is still the trump card on well priced real estate.  Multiple offers make it difficult for first time home buyers to be successful in the low end of the market.

Barbara Ellis - Realtor

On the business side of real estate, there is a great deal of movement in the brokerages and their affiliations.  I do not want to add to the rumor mill so I will focus on just my changes.  A couple of weeks ago, I moved from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate – MasonMcDuffie (which was Prudential Real Estate a week before) to join CPS Property Advocates in Rohnert Park.  My reasons were many but the compelling motivations were to more centrally locate along the 101 corridor and work with a locally owned brokerage. CPS Property Advocates is an independently owned and operated office led by Spence and Ann Hiatt – skilled, established professionals with sound reputations within the community.  I am delighted that they have recently announced their change in affiliation to ReMax, one of the largest and most successful real estate companies in the world.  So in a couple of weeks, I will have yet another new set of business cards and will be sending out announcements of my change.  I think that this is the last change for quite a while.  I am ready for some stability and selling some homes.  You know that I am available to provide the very best in service for you and your friends and family.

Does Anything Ever Stay the Same?

Just when I thought that I had changed everything that should be changed, another big change has occurred in my life.  I am now a REALTOR affiliated with Better Homes and Gardens – Mason-McDuffie.  Now that is a mouthful!  How did this come about?  Mason-McDuffie is the brokerage that I joined when I moved to Prudential CA Realty some 4 years ago.  The company owns 35 offices (of which Sebastopol is one) with 1900 agents throughout Northern California and the Reno-Sparks area of Nevada.  


So what does all of this mean to my clients and me?  My funny, flippant answer is that I have always wanted to be with a company that has a green (or non-blue) logo.  It goes so much better with my coloring.  The serious answer is that for right now – it means nothing.  A lot of hoopla was made at the announcement meeting in San Francisco about improved tools, expanded marketing and better name recognition.   Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC is a subsidiary of Realogy Corporation, a global leader in real estate and relocation services.  Meredith Corporation is the licensor of the Better Homes and Gardens brand and publishes the magazine, Better Homes and Gardens.  

I have spent my last 36 hours contacting the sellers of my listings and giving the heads up on the sign changing in front of their homes.  I am selecting new business cards – yes, my beautiful new business cards that Jen designed are now obsolete.  I am doing the business that needs to be done.  This seems like an excellent time to post my listings here.  

1623 Gamay Street, Santa Rosa

 Today the home on 1623 Gamay Street in Santa Rosa went active in the MLS.  Asking price is $348,000 which is a short sale.  This is a lovely home in West Santa Rosa off of Guerneville Road.  With only one loan, the approval time from the bank should not be very long.  


One of 3 Residences at Sully's

The nostalgic community of Monte Rio is along the Russian River and hosts the Bohemian Grove.  Sully’s was the playground of San Franciscans escaping the summer fog.  Today this property  is 1.75 acres of walkways and redwoods with three  residences.   This historic property offered at $650,000. 

417 N Main Street, Sebastopol

Sebastopol is known for gravenstein apples and vintage charm.  This four bedroom, two bath home was built in 1903 and is true Sebastopol.  Hardwood floors, gas fireplace, spacious porch – all add up to a convenient, livable home in downtown.

8190 Knoll Drive, Forestville

I used to live in Forestville so there is a special place in my heart for this wonderful little town.  Up in the warmth of Mirabel Heights is 8190 Knoll Drive.  This 2 bedroom cabin is on a double lot which means it has some gardening room.  The interior is knotty pine and totally Russian River in style. 

Call me if you would like more information on any of these listings.  My phone number remains the same:  707 486-3119. 

Upgrading My Laptop in a Panic!

I have not written about real estate in quite a while but I have been talking, living and breathing real estate.  Within two weeks time, last month I had listed four properties – all very different and all delightful sellers.  Wonderful sellers make my life much easier and life generally better.  What doesn’t make life better is watching my hard drive in my laptop slowly die. My old Toshiba Satellite is still on life supports but with multiple blue screens of death within a week and a hard drive that serenades me with constant accessing, I could not risk hanging on with it.  So after days of stressing and searching and asking all of my friends who know computers, I am now the proud owner of a Toshiba Portege.  Light weight, sleek and 500 GB of storage, I am set for the next stage in my computer life.  I first thought my problem was Microsoft Vista because my printer drivers kept going to offline which is a known Vista phenomena but too many other things were happening.

Computers - New and Old

Unlike so many of my friends, family and colleagues, I gave up my desktop computer years ago for the simplicity of one laptop for everything.  My laptop goes everywhere with me and is transported and plugged in where ever I find myself.  So I have spent the last week working mostly on keeping my computer going and deciding what to do.  The last 72 hours I have been setting up my new computer to be connected to my three necessary WiFis and the array of printers that are needed to keep my business going.   I fell into a funk because I could not find my source disks for Microsoft Office and Quicken.  It has been a rocky few days. I found the Office disks in the upper drawer of the extra desk in my Sebastopol office – go figure that one.  Last night I realized after hours of searching my home office that I had purchased Quicken over the internet and had done a download.  Thankfully I figured out the login for the Quicken website and could download the source once again.   As of today, I have all the essential software installed and am about 75% functioning on my new computer.  I always knew that I was easily pleased but this current feeling of elation confirms that trait!

I will soon be waxing lovingly about my listings and the overall state of Sonoma County real estate.  But for today my post is all about computers.  I don’t know how the world ever functioned without them!

Now I just need to figure out why I occasionally change the size of all the fonts when I move the cursor around the page!

The End of a Wonderful Vacation

Sunrise from David Walley's Resort & Spa


If someone had told me that I would have this much fun during the summer in Nevada, I probably would have laughed at them.  But this turned out to be an absolutely terrific vacation.  I only got out to photograph the sunrise one morning but it was well worth the effort.  The weather has been in the 80’s which is unseasonable cool and I greatly appreciate it.  Getting into the 90’s is not my idea of ideal temperatures. 

Lounging in the hot springs is worth the trip here but I have to recommend the spa.  In total we each had two treatments and they were worth thinking about coming here again.  In addition to the very local activities, we took in a round of golf at Genoa Lakes Golf Club.  There are two courses within 10 minutes of the Walley’s Hot Springs and I chose the most scenic one.  My friend does not play golf and decided to ride along and see what the fascination with golf is all about.  We had a blast and I shot one of my better rounds.  Considering there is a lot of water on this course, I am pretty pleased with how I played.  We played with three other golfers – two locals in their 80s and another tourist from Fresno.  They were amicable partners and definitely contributed to a wonderful day.  

The South Shore of Lake Tahoe


South Shore of Lake Tahoe is about 20 miles from Genoa so there was no question that we had to pop over Kingsbury Grade and walk along the shore.  The weather could not have been better (am I repeating myself?)  We discovered a great local coffee, Alpen Sierra, and got back in time to lounge before cocktail hour.  Genoa has the oldest “thirst parlor”in Nevada and it was great fun to imagine the cowboys and travelers who had sat at the bar for their last refreshment before crossing the Sierras.  We had two great and very different meals in Genoa.  After our stop at the Thirst Parlor, we crossed the street and had the weekly Wednesday dinner at the Genoa Country Store.  A tasty Mexican meal was enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.  They serve until the food is gone and the takeout business was very active.  

The Oldest Thirst Parlor in Nevada


Our second dining experience was at Antoci’s which is located at the Genoa Lakes Golf Club.  Very different environment and Italian food.  Needless to say, I think I came home with a few extra pounds and a lot of wonderful memories.  

Enjoying our Meal at Antoci's


Moving in Sonoma County – Part IV – The Move is Complete

Goodbye Conor Court


Late afternoon on Friday, June 25, I got the call I had been waiting for all month.   310 Conor Court became the property of new owners.  Many friends expressed concern as to how I would react to the finality that this transaction symbolized.  It has been a very difficult six months for me but I am ready to say goodbye to my old life, my old home and even, my old garden.  

Hollyhocks that I Purchased in October


For the last week I have been sorting through detris left in the Conor Court garage and tidying the garden.  Nine hours of deadheading only made a major dent in the spent rose blossoms.  Fortunately I was able to schedule Hector for a day of weeding.  He was able to clear all the pathways of weeds in one day – quite a feat.  The saving discovery during the garage clean out was FreeCycle.  I learned about this hidden gem from my son-in-law.  FreeCycle is a national movement to reduce the amount of useable items that eventually end up in landfills.  There is a local network that belongs to the FreeCycle Yahoo Group right here in Sebastopol.  I quickly found homes for a sewer snake, miscellaneous lumber scraps, a broken ladder, bender board and about 100 1 gallon black pots.  The most unusual item I found was a box of metal fencing clips for attaching fencing to metal T-poles.  The fellow who got them lives around the corner from my new place so I even met a neighbor.  The one requirement of FreeCycle is that the item must be absolutely free.  Not a problem here –  I was thankful that someone hauled it away and that I did not have to pay to put it into a landfill. 

Yesterday I lamented my need for one last load to take the trip from Conor Court to Joy Road.  I called all of my Conor Court neighbors who have pickups (which is all of them!) and no one was home.  I posted a frantic request on Facebook and got the best response in the world.  My son, Chris, wanted to know if this need warranted him and my granddaughter loading into their pickup and driving to Sonoma County.  I could not have asked for a better present.  By the time Chris and Maike could get to Conor Court, I had mowed the back lawn, moved everything out on the driveway and said goodbye to all of the neighbors who had come home to phone messages from me.  Chris and a neighbor loaded the back of the pickup while I played with Maike.  Not a bad way to get a stressful job done!  

Once up on Joy Road, I needed to help with the unloading.  We spread a blanket for Maike in front of the sacred cypress and started the task.  Alas, Maike made a beeline for the edge of the blanket and I spent the next hour afraid that she had swallowed a pebble.  She really did not like being put in a playpen but safety first and the crying certainly alleviated the fear of a pebble lodged in her throat. 

My Last Bouquet from the Garden at Conor Court


Chris and I ended the day with some very tasty leftovers followed by a trip to Sebastopol for ice cream (and to entice  Maike to fall asleep.)   I don’t know how I would have felt at the end of the day without family with me and friends who care about me.  They have made this ordeal easier for me and demonstrated their love daily.  One thing I have realized is that when hobbies are nesting  in a home and creating a special garden, one not only loses their relationship in a divorce but also loses their hobbies.  Fortunately, I love the location of my farmhouse and the farmhouse is accepting of my belongings.  My friends are correct – this is really final. 

Peace and Reflection on Joy Road


June in My Wine Country Village


Graduate Taylor with her Proud Parents

June is the month of graduations, weddings and moving.  At least this year I experienced the graduation tradition thanks to the lovely Taylor who graduated from Christian Brothers High School last weekend.  The following day party brought together  family and friends for a delightful warm day in Sacramento.  One of those days that you expect in June with enough sun to get the boys in the pool and the rest of us searching for shade to keep cool. 

No weddings on my social calendar this year.  Probably a good thing since I am fully experiencing the opposite and could be less than upbeat at such an occasion. 

And, while I moved months ago, I am still in the final stages of moving.  The house on Conor Court was to have closed today but, alas, the loan did not go through and the buyers are trying a different bank.   (Read my post of May 18 on banks these days.)  We are now looking at June 24 for the close of escrow. That would be quite a birthday present.  I am not discouraged as this will happen and other movings are happening.     

Florence Avenue - with The Rabbit by Patrick Amiot

 A cute little yellow house on Florence Avenue in Sebastopol has new owners.  It is darling and will be transformed into a wonderful oasis by my friends and clients, Anne and Simon.   Florence Avenue is famous for the delightful sculptures by resident artist, Patrick Amiot.  I did an Artist Profile of him some years ago.  I will post it in the next few days so that you can learn more about Patrick.   Today I am off to San Jose for inspections at a condominium that will make a wonderful home for a young family.  New properties are coming on the market daily and there are buyers eager to find their perfect nest.  I showed property for the last two days and have other showings scheduled throughout the month of June.  It is the time when real estate is hopping.  Many people are anticipating an uptick in home prices but I am still seeing substantial price pressure.  Loans are still difficult to get even though the interest rates are remaining low and 95% loans have returned.  It is a good time to buy.  If you are planning on buying, it is a good time to sell.  The market is the market and you have to do what you have to do. 

What June 4 Should Look Like! The Forestville Parade Judge's Stand 2009

The weather forecast is rain for this afternoon and it is quite foggy as I look out the window but June is shaping up to be a great month.  The rainwill be gone for the year and sunny skies will be with us for the coming months. Tomorrow is the Forestville Youth Park Parade and Barbeque.  It is always great fun but I will not attend this year due to my commitments in San Jose.  I am sure it will be wonderful without me.  I love summer in Sonoma County.

Life Goes On!

Much Ado About Nothing - at the Apple Blossom Parade, Sebastopol


Where have my days gone?  About three and a half weeks since I last posted here.  What is happening?  I have experienced the Apple Blossom Parade (of which I have about 100 pictures) – I have driven to Los Angeles for a Beachbody Summit (where I discovered a new workout that I am about to start, RevAbs) – I have officially christened my new home with a house-warming party (I must write thank you notes to all those who wished me well by helping me celebrate).  On top of that, I have been holding together 3 escrows which is a time consuming activity in this challenging economic environment.  What is quite interesting to me is that the number of visits to this blog has continued to grow even though there is no new content.  Very interesting – at least to me.  In response to those interested readers, I am inserting some new comments on life and real estate.  

I have received some “constructive” feedback that I seem to only talk about things that are good, positive and in some way uplifting.  I guess that is my nature.  But in response to this comment and in full disclosure, I must say that I am completely disgusted with the state of our banking industry.   

Two of my open escrows are short sales.  One is waiting on a response from the lien holder on a price increase that they requested.  Yes – they requested a $2000 price increase which we responded to in short order and now we are a week later and have not gotten their acceptance.  Why does this take so long?  Believe me, this is a rhetorical question.  I have learned to not expect answers.  The other of my short sale escrows is about to fall apart.  The lien holder is unwilling to wait a few extra weeks for my client to get his loan together.  Here is a deal that would definitely close with FHA financing in another four weeks and the Chase short sale negotiator is willing to nix the whole thing because they have decided that it must close in May.  No, there is not another buyer in the wings – No, they do not think they will get more money if they put it back on the market.  They will probably foreclose on the property and lose another $50K to $100K in the process – but they do not want to wait for my client’s loan to be funded.  Tell me why this is good business?  Oh!  I don’t expect an answer to that question either.  

Loans are taking inordinately longer times to get approval and then to fund.  The one normal (I use that term with trepidation!) transaction that I have in the works is teetering on a loan approval on the house that must be sold before my escrow can proceed.  Nothing big in the way of approval but time consuming anyway.  The bank does not seem to understand the term “time is of the essence.”  

Moving On - Apple Blossom Parade, Sebastopol


So I have expressed my angst.  It is a reflection of our current economic situation.  It is something to consider if you are contemplating a home purchase or sale.  I don’t know if my venting on banks is refreshingly different than my usual posts.  I do feel a bit of relief from stating my frustrations.  

My own home is now in escrow and we are waiting for the inspections to be done and the loan to be approved.  I hope that it closes in the time stated in the contract but I know that there will be issues.  I just want it to be sold, a week or two will not make much difference.  

In the next week or so, I will update on RevAbs and Moving Vol. 3.  Life does go on and I am trying to make the most of it.

What is happening in Real Estate?

The last few months I have been talking about moving and vacation and tsunami warning but not much about real estate.  The appearance is that nothing is happening in real estate or I am just not participating.  Appearances can be misleading!  I haven’t been writing about it but real estate is consuming most of my time – which is only fitting since it is the business I am in!

The sales of foreclosure properties is going to be with us for a long time.  Many homes that have reverted to bank ownership are still to hit the market.   Banks are continuing to hold back putting homes on the market that will flood neighborhoods with inventory and therefore drive the prices lower than they are today.  The low end (under $300,000 here in Northern California) had shown signs of firming but there are properties still coming on the market that are indications that we may see another price reduction.   The heavy rains of 2010 have had an impact on buyers willingness to go out looking but even with the inclimate weather, homes are selling.

Last week clients closed on a three bedroom/ two bath home in American Canyon for $325,000.

Over the last nine months, I have been working with 2 sets of buyers who could not get their offers accepted due to the multiple offers for lower priced homes in San Jose.  Today both are in escrow.  This came about through dedication to finding a way to make things happen and creativity in financing. 

One buyer is looking for either a home or condo under $200,000.  This was unheard of just two years ago but today there are many.  The difficulty for my client is one of beating out the cash investor.  With 60% down payment, he could still not get an offer accepted.  The first hurdle was that he did not have a credit rating.  You heard correctly – he did NOT have a credit rating!  Here is a person with no debt and a good chunk of change but no bank would lend to him.  Working with an ethical and hard working mortgage broker, he was able to establish a credit rating by the use of past rent and utility payments, making routine charges and payments to a credit card and being added as an account holder on one of his parents credit cards.  The first is a pretty safe and straight forward action but is not always successful in getting the credit established.  The second is simply a demonstration to the credit watching services that if he charges something, he will pay for it.  The third is a bit touchy as there needs to be a balance  maintained between income and debt.   To establish or improve a credit rating (called a FICO score) you should follow the advice of your mortgage broker carefully.

The second buyer was in a very different situation.  They each have steady jobs with regular paychecks and excellent credit.  But they have a modest nestegg to use as a downpayment and for closing costs.  FHA financing is their only option with the 3.5% downpayment.  With a maximum purchase price of $280,000, many homes are listed on the market but homes in this price range receive multiple offers from all cash investors.   Agents are writing all cash offers for much higher prices than the home will appraise knowing that when the appraisal comes in, they can lower the price.  This totally takes the first time homebuyer out of the market.  The approach we took to get into contract was to locate a home that was in need of major repair in a very good neighborhood and make the offer contingent upon getting an FHA 203K rehabilitation loan.  We located a home that was built in 1901 and has been “improved” over the last century.  Specifically, there are two small additions without foundations.  This “feature” makes the home unattractive to either a buyer who wants to immediately begin cash flow by renting or a buyer who is getting a conventional or normal FHA loan. 

The FHA203K loan program provides purchase money for the buyer plus the needed funds for making repairs and upgrades so that it qualifies for an FHA regular loan.  A licensed contractor must provide a bid for the work and the payments to the contractor are administered by the lender and a 203K consultant to insure that the work is satisfactory to the buyer and that the contractor is paid.  Yes, it is a lot of work beyond a normal purchase – but the homebuyer will have a home that is safe, not in need of repairs and meets their living needs.  It is a great program that is being utilized more than in previous decades.

Putting an FHA 203K deal together is not for the faint of heart.  In preparation for this approach, I became certified as a 203K Specialist by RE-Build USA.  This is a training on the FHA process and an introduction to the people who can make it happen.  I am pleased to  partner with Pollie Barnes of Prospect Mortgage and Wells Fargo Bank in this endeavour.    Feel free to ask if this loan program can be a way for you to get your dream home.

Moving in Sonoma County – Part II

I thought that the first part of moving was a bit traumatic.   Clearing the house of all of my personal belongings – every last one but the coffee table that will not fit in my new home – was a bit more than even the stoic BShula could handle.  First, I have to report that it was raining.  At the time I made the appointment, the weather report had rain on Thursday and Saturday, clear on Friday.  Somehow the weather did not read that report and the week was clear on Thursday and Saturday, rain on Friday.  So the sprinkles were just beginning when the moving van and three energetic young men arrived.  In typical fashion, I had been there for some time – getting myself organized.  Fortunately, this was not a huge task as the previous night a crew of friends were there to gather, pack and load what would fit in a pickup and those items that the professional movers felt would add considerably to the cost.  What would those items be?  First thing was the flat screen TV.  This is a little thing – not the huge one – but it would cost $50 for them to pack it.  Not a good value since I could personally carry it out to my car and place it on the back seat.  The other pricey items to move were art pieces – particularly the 3 feet by 5 ft ones.  The art was bubble wrapped and gingerly strapped into the bed of the pickup.  Next went some tools, my bicycle and those odds and ends that just seem to keep showing up.  I do not know how I would have gotten everything together without the help of wonderful friends.  As the evening mist moved in, my precious belongs found a safe haven in the pickup owner’s garage to wait for clear weather and the trip to Joy Road.

So in the pouring rain (and I mean a torrential downpour!) the truck was loaded with club chairs, china cabinet, sofa, dining table . . . and all the large, heavy garden containers.  You get the picture – everything that needs young, strong backs.  After the short but curvy drive from Forestville to Occidental, the procedure was reversed and with all of us soaking wet, the rain stopped as we were finishing the work.  The potted plants are on the basketball court to save the lawn from being destroyed with ruts from the hand truck – mud is everywhere – no furniture is damaged.  It sounds so simple as I write about it now.  At the time I was freezing, wet to the skin.  My lovely landlords brought me hot tea and a chicken sandwich which were greatly appreciated.  I was fearful for the survival of the upholstery.

Oh, no! They do not fit!

The only true drama in the move was the stacking and placing of the washer and dryer.  I have wonderful energy efficient, front loading units that are huge!  My little house has a sweet kitchen with a space between the wall and the refrigerator to slip in my laundry.  Prior to the move, I measured and remeasured.  Yes, they were going to fit!  It was tight but it could happen.

After the explanation that as movers they were not to do installations, Johnny and Shamus removed the pedestals from under each of the washer and dryer and installed the stacking brackets that I found on the Internet.  I was lucky to find a place that had the brackets in stock and would overnight deliver them so that they were here for the move.  But when the movers tried to slip the stack back into the slot, it would not fit!  The lip on the cabinet was just oh-so too wide.  What were we to do?  With the fellows on the clock (yes, and I was paying that) and not having installations in their job descriptions, the stack was left for another day.  But I was not daunted.  I knew it would fit somehow.

Exhausted from the day, frustrated that I could not use the laundry and lonely in a house stacked from top to bottom with stuff, I did the only reasonable thing to do – called my daughter and son-in-law and asked them to join me for dinner at Barley and Hops in Occidental.  The only catch was that they needed to come pick me up as I was too tired to drive!  Considering the distance between their home and mine is about half of a mile, the drive was not a deterrent.  Off we went to a wonderful dinner with a great beer named Death & Taxes.  It was very apropos as an early April, Good Friday, celebratory drink.

Isn't this the office? Where is all of this stuff going?

Saturday was beautiful and I was able to take stock of my new home.  Mud was throughout the house.  I could not take two steps into what is to be an office.   The washer and dryer were far enough in that I could not move them but not so far that I could open the doors and use them.   No time to worry about all of that.  There was the detritus of unexposed surfaces in the vacated home that had to be cleared.  So off I went with the help of yet other friends (Who knew I had so many? With pickups – no less!)  to clean the house and do the last sweep of garden pots and statuary as well as truant items in the house unseen in the previous clutter.  With great perseverance, the potted Japanese maple was uprooted from the ground beneath and hoisted into the pickup.  The Buddha, the iron kitty cat, the Dodo bird – all moved to their new home.

Half way up the hill, I think about my bicycle.  Panic sets in. Did we leave it in the garage?  Was it already moved?  WHERE WAS MY BICYCLE?   As quickly as I panicked, I remembered that it was loaded on Thursday night and was safely residing in my friend’s garage.  This whole move is getting to me.  Once we unload this latest collection, I need to go visit the art and whatever else is in safe keeping.  I think I am loosing my mind and I cannot remember what is where.  Once I send off my friends after depositing the contents of their pickup on my porch and in the storage area, I head for Sebastopol to visit my remaining possessions.  Yes, the bicycle is there.  No, the sky is too dark to risk getting these delivered today.  But what are these gas cans?  They are not mine and I need to get them back to the house.  Rush – Rush- Rush.

Easter morning, more rain – I am taking the day off from moving.  The call comes – the gas cans did not belong at the house.  The pickup owner had placed them to get gas for his mower when he delivered my things.  A frantic retrieval of the cans and a welcome sigh of relief. I can now forget moving for the rest of the day.   A wonderful service at Church of the Good Shepherd in Cloverdale – A visit to Garrett Hardware in Healdsburg (I had to get an electric kettle before I burnt up my saucepan!) – Yummy rack of lamb dinner with Jen and Dan.  A wonderful day of renewel and relaxation.

Monday I was back to moving.  My landlords showed up with tool box in hand.  Of course three very vital, young at heart folks could move the monolithic laundry stack.  A Superbar lever, a block of wood and furniture slider feet do wonders for making a heavy load move easily.  I am in the laundry business!  With one passing shower, the skies become blue and the last load of precious things make the trip to Joy Road.  The art is hung.  The rugs are spread.  There is still time for lunch at Howard Station Cafe.

Calm and Clean - Just like a bedroom should be

Part II of the move was capped off with dinner at home with a girlfriend who supplied the bubbly and the feng shui of my bedroom.  This room is pretty close to being complete.  Someday I will get a new bedcover and my jewelry needs to find a better place.  But for right now it is neat, tidy and has a wonderful sense of calm.

The kitchen is mostly together, china is in the china cabinet and I can find a place to sit in the living room.  The Good Life may be the motto of Forestville but I am enjoying it here on Joy Road.

A well stocked kitchen makes a house a home!

Moving in Sonoma County – Part I

Dropping into the Fog Bank at the South End of Joy Road

Moving is never fun – even when you love your new place.  That is the situation I am finding my self in.  My home in the hills of Occidental is cute, comfy and unbelievably quiet.  The view outside my bedroom window is pastoral and green.  My past home in Forestville is beautiful, expansive and no longer mine.   (You can see the interior of the Forestville house in my February 22, 2010 post on this blog.) 

View from the Bedroom Slider in Forestville

 No it is not yet sold but it is in escrow.  Some things just have to be accepted.  There is always the question of when to vacate the old home.  In general, homes look better with a minimal amount of furnishings but not totally vacant.  So larger pieces of furniture such as the bed, sofa and dining set are still waiting for the final transport.    I have been camping out in my new digs with a blowup bed and a card table.  The walls are lined with boxes of books and stacks of clothing.   Stick ups indicate where various pieces of art will be hung.  Closets are brimming with clothes and those random boxes that are not needed daily.  The Christmas decorations are squirreled away in the attic. 

There are many things left to be retrieved.  My potted plants, garden art and garden furniture are still awaiting strong backs to load them onto a truck and drive them up the hill.  It is only six miles but the loading and unloading are the same as if it were six thousand miles.

View from the Bedroom Window on Joy Road

Of course, when moving locally, there is always the question of doing it a bit at a time or making one large move as when relocating to a different area.  Based upon circumstances, moving over a span of time has been the mode selected.  First there were boxes from a storage unit – packed up and stashed in early January.  Then there was another storage unit that held those furniture items that were unnecessary for staging the house for sale.  Eventually clothes and toiletries were transferred from my walk-in closet and spacious bathroom.   Next will be those yard implements and assessories.  Finally, the furniture will arrive and I will be willing to show pictures of the interior.

Allee of Camillias Past the Back Patio

Life goes on – where ever you go, there you are.  Part II will be coming soon and I can then share the interior of my little farmhouse.  I will miss my old home and my life within it. But I have great things going forward – still unknown.  There are moments when I know that life is good and I am in a better place.  I enjoy the drive to work in the mornings with the redwoods towering overhead and  the fog covering the small town of Bodega.  The peaceful environment will more than make up for the lack of living space.  And peace and serenity are what I am after these days.


October 2021


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