I know, it must be like two months at this point, I have no excuse. Things have been going on and I haven’t been telling you about them. I know this severely stunts your day.  Not only that, it’s August and work is slower than latex paint on a radiator (??), so why don’t I jot a few things down during the day?

Like I said, no excuse. I go through these phases.  So. To catch you up on the one or two mildly interesting things that are going on, I will combine them into one post with short descriptions. Please post questions in the comments.

First, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for the basement. Or the light at the end of the stage one tunnel at least. We have installed new floor in the living/kitchen area and thusly designated a living vs. kitchen area in the main room. All we have left to do is buy doors for the closet and laundry area, touch up paint in the bedroom, tile the bedroom floor and hallway and um yeah CLEAN.  Stage one complete, we rent it out to some poor homeless Howard University student content with no kitchen, stash away that money and then spend it all at Ikea for a proper kitchen area. Done and done.

Take heed, that is not wood or laminate wood floor but the inexpensive, resilient cousin, vinyl!

Take heed, that is not wood or laminate wood floor but the inexpensive, resilient cousin, vinyl!

The second thing that happened is that Javier’s face nearly exploded!

No more walks to Rock Creek Park for you mister!

No more walks to Rock Creek Park for you mister!

Fortunately some ice and 3/8 of a benadryl brought the swelling down. I would have liked to have a heart attack when I first noticed his face (the bloating came on rather suddenly after a walk) the poor lamb. My first thought was, “Oh my god, he got in a fight with the rat” and my second thought was, “Oh my god, he ate a hypodermic needle off the sidewalk.”

The third and somewhat less interesting thing is that we got tomatoes.  On the plants ok. My own tomatoes that I sowed into the earth with love finally came to fruition like seven months later.  And promptly got blossom end rot.  We’re watering less and crossing our fingers more that the next round takes a bit better.  Now if only I can get the peppers to bloom too.

The maters in happier times.

The 'maters in happier times.

Finally, I leave you with the happy news that we still have three dogs, which should come as no surprise to anyone. And as I like to fill this blog with as many cute pictures of chihuahuas as I can, I leave you with the following regal gentleman.

Yeah. Hes in the toy box.

Yeah. He's in the toy box.


I have a confession.  We added a third dog to our family.  I haven’t mentioned this for about a month now because animals now outnumber humans in the house and that is borderline weird maybe.  I mean, I’m completely comfortable with it, but I can totally see how this might be viewed as “irresponsible”. I just view it as awesome.

So here’s what happened: Matt somehow came across this woman/irresponsible college student who had just bought a puppy a week ago and had suddenly come to the realization that it was not a good idea.  Matt’s immediate instinct was to snatch this baby up and bring it into our fold.  Yes, he had seen the picture.  The puppy (who this girl had obnoxiously named Spencer – oh hell no) is the spitting-freaking-image of my Dad’s dog, Cheech.  And he’s a long hair. Which is what Matt has always wanted in a chihuahua.

The other dogs now stand in Sonnys shadow.

The other dogs now stand in Sonny's shadow.

We agreed that it would be a good idea to at least meet the puppy.  If this girl was looking for a good home for the dog, we would certainly be it, although neither of us were sure if it was a good idea (then again, what really is the difference between two little dogs and three?).  So the girl came over that night with her mom and the puppy.  Javier and Maya were intrigued at first but they got along after several minutes of the standard butt sniffing and now the three of them are the best of friends.  After the meeting, we agreed that the dog was awesome and that we would certainly rename him, but we decided it wasn’t the best idea for right now.  Matt called the chick the next day, who was decidedly disappointed.  She had liked the idea that he would have other young dogs to play with, two experienced dog owners and a family member who could get us good/free vet care (Matt’s mom’s works at a vet, for those who don’t know).  We were sad and a little bit regretful, but thought we had done the right thing… until she came back with a much lower price on him in addition to her reasons for wanting us to have him.  We had to help a sister out, of course, and also, the puppy was awesome.

So here he is, our newest family member, Sonny Coreleone Scouten (Matt picked the first name, Matt gets the surname).  Our plan is currently that we will take him and train him and make him a good dog (this might be tough, he loves biting ears) and maybe rehome him with a forever family.  We already have good friends who have a little bit of a crush on the guy and they would make a great pack together, and plus we would still get to see him frequently.

I already have the greatest dog story to share now that we have the three totally used to each other.  It is unarguably the cutest thing in the world ever to happen.  Matt was working his double shift the other night, so it was just me and the dogs and we went up to bed early to watch some TV. When I finished watching To Catch a Predator, I got up to do my teeth and take out contacts and just left the dogs in the room (the gate was up so they couldn’t follow me) – they were asleep under the covers anyway and probably had no intention of moving. Well when I came back from the bathroom, all three of them were sitting next to each other on the corner of the bed looking at the door waiting for me.  I said “aw you guys!” to them and they all three reacted at the exact same time (Maya did her signature head tilt, Javi opened his mouth to grin and Sonny waved his ears back) so I came into the room with my arms out to hug them all for being awesome and they all three got up at the same time and started wagging their tails and getting excited.  It was freaking adorable.

Having dogs is so cool.

Sonny always has some sort of stick or bit of something in his mouth.

Sonny always has some sort of stick or bit of something in his mouth.

I would like to start by saying thank you to the neighborhood for not forcing us to call the cops for the first six weeks of living there.  You have impressed us greatly despite having pretty much everything going against you: a strip club, drugs in the alley, countless liquor stores and more than your share of Punk Ass Kids.  So here’s to you, Petworth for NOT totally freaking us out until last night.

OK, we weren’t really freaked out so much as we finally reached our breaking point.  Let me begin at the beginning.  I managed to leave the office at 5 yesterday witht he plan of FINALLY going to get my toes done at that salon across the street.  Literally it is across the street, roughly 50 steps from my front door and yet somehow I have managed to not go there for about four weeks in a row now.  Partially this is because I knew what kind of place it was and since I didn’t want my hair braided or relaxed and nor did I know I single other customer or stylist, I would be horribly out of place.  That and I’m the only white girl for miles.  Yesterday was my day though.  I opened the door to the little salon and stepped in expecting the worst.  It wasn’t bad.  Don’t get me wrong, I was being stared at by every soul in the place, but no one seemed disturbed by my presence, just a little taken aback perhaps.  I asked if anyone had time for a pedicure and the woman (who was not sitting at the reception desk, incidentally and I wasn’t clear if she actually worked there in the first place) told me they didn’t do pedicures.  Really?  The website said you did and there are bottles of nail polish here…

Dejected, I returned home where Matt and I decided we would celebrate (more on that later) by making the glorious Key Lime Pie Shots.  So off I headed to the corner store a block over where we previously found the whipped cream.  Evidently the store closes at like 4pm on Tuesdays, so no luck there.  Matt hadn’t tried the CVS before (you would be surprised at how difficult it is to find whipped cream in these bodegas) so I headed down the other way to try my luck there.  As I approached I noticed yellow tape, “Hmm,” I thought, “they must be redoing the sidewalk, I wonder if there is a side entrance…”  As I got closer though, I realized it was crime scene tape and the sidewalk was totally fine.  Shit had apparently gone down.  This morning, thanks to the 4D police tweetstream I discovered there was an armed (gun) robbery.  Dejected once again, I headed to Jefferson Liquors not expecting whipped cream, but instead compensating with a six pack of summer wheat beer.  Good enough.


It was a disappointing afternoon, but we weren’t completely discouraged so we enjoyed some dinner on the grill (do not eat chicken hot dogs, ew) and a couple of margaritas before heading to bed for the night.  And this is where it all fell apart, because we had gotten pretty used to living two doors down from a strip club, but there is only so much a person can take at 1:42am.  We have learned that the club closes at 1:30 (or maybe that’s just last call and at that point, why stay, because it’s not for the girls) and shortly thereafter there is some ruckus that lasts only about 5 minutes while people buy their last round of crack, say their goodbyes and/or wrap up a domestic dispute int he middle of the street and head home for the night.  It gets pretty loud, but historically it doesn’t last long enough for us to get annoyed enough to get up and either a. yell at them or b. tell on them.  Last night was totally different though.  I don’t know if they were serving sambuca there yesterday or what, but people were angry.  Like livid with one another.  And some jackass was either messing with someone’s car alarm or screwing around with his own.  I have never heard such noises: a cross between a dying heffer, a cat in heat and, well, car alarm.  The entire scene lasted around half an hour (it could have actually only been ten minutes, but in this situation, time literally slows down, especially if you want to go to sleep) and included screaming bitches (it couldn’t have been any other type of person) obnoxious laughter and general noisiness combined with background music from someone’s car and the dreaded car alarm insanity.  I briefly considered leaning out the window and screaming at them to STFU, it’s goddamned TUESDAY, but decided against it as there were almost certainly 10-15 people with guns and/or flamethrowers out there.  The only solace I take in the entire incident was the moment when Matt finally woke up (that guy will sleep through WWIII) flailing his arms toward the alarm clock at the sound of a particularly obnoxious moment with the car alarm.

I snapped of course and made him go downstairs to call the cops.  We made it so long, but after that evening I think we had both just had enough.  We are those people. The white ones.

I am totally kicking the ass of this homeownership thing.  I am primarily proudest of my ability to remain calm and not have the compulsion to constantly work on something.  The truth is, not only do I not have the energy, but I also don’t want to work on a bunch of stuff after a long day at work of working on a bunch of stuff. 

I come home in the evenings and I’m like a fifties housewife (only without the marriage, which was probably key in this metaphor).  Check it out, Monday night I got home after a glorious (horrible) 45 minute bus commute and immediately set to work planting more seeds, repotting two plants, installing a deadbolt on the front door, putting in a load of laundry and finally making dinner.  I don’t know how it happened, but I can promise you, this much productivity on a work day is not going to happen too often.

There is of course still this weird drive to “address” things.  If nothing else, I want them documented in a list somewhere of things that may or may not happen one day in either the near or very distant future.  The floors will be refinished. It will not be before we have a housewarming party.  The bathrooms will be painted.  It will be before we have a housewarming party.  And god save the household budget, if I don’t set it up soon my head may explode.  It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the family falls in line with my “Johnny Says Relax” attitude.  Or at least I can hope as much.

So here it is, we did it, finally, we own a home and we’re not even thirty yet, as my grandmother so astutely pointed out yesterday.  We have officially arrived as adults and now we can begin stressing out about mortgage payments, refinancing, neighborhood watch and whatever is wrong with the roof at this point in time.  I have to say I am feeling pretty good almost a week into it- the stressful part is not the moving and getting settled, it’s the constant fog of confusion before closing where you aren’t sure if the power of attorney has arrived at the title company four hours before the scheduled paper signing session.  Not that I’m keeping track of the heart attack causing periods of the last month (gift letter issues, miscalculation of closing costs vs. total money in bank accounts and last minute homeowners insurance changes, I’m looking at YOU).

The living room, after at least three sweeps and mops a piece.

The living room, after at least three sweeps and mops a piece.

Closing day started out just as any other: Matthew and I slept in… until like 7am!… as we had already gotten word on Wednesday night that the closing would need to be delayed a few hours due to problems with the P of A (see above) so we decided to make the most of our additional time during the day to mill around the apartment feeling anxious and not really packing anything.  James emailed at about 3:00 asking us to meet him at the house for the final walkthrough at 4:30 and off we went. It was raining pretty steadily but we had already packed/lost both umbrellas and had to concede to only wearing our hoodies.  We made it there early and decided to use the code (this is probably illegal in some way, but would not be in a matter of about 3 1/2 hours, so what the heck) to go on into what would very soon be our new home.  Nothing had collapsed/burned/exploded/been stolen so the walk through was quick and easy.  Matt and I stared with disdain at the mess that was the basement and crossed our fingers we could make it liveable and rentable in as few weeks as possible.  We headed out to the title company’s office for closing (which was again delayed by thirty minutes while they finished up the paperwork for us), making a quick stop at the liquor store so James could get us a celebratory bottle of rum and a six of Sam Adams seasonal.  I was feeling warm and excited by the time the paperwork was ready for the extensive signing session (incidentally, this was not as arduous as people had told me).  Happy surprise of the evening: our mortgage broker and close family (Matt’s) friend and his assistant came to the closing and we all got to meet face to face for the first time.  We headed over to the house immediately after (ok, we stopped for more alcohol and copied another set of the keys) to set straight to work on the carpets upstairs.  After about an hour of filthy, disgusting horrible work (albeit easy) we had several rolls of disgusting beige berber carpet sitting smelly, moldy and dusty, on our new front porch.

The dining room, which has not been cleaned as well as I would have liked but at least we aren't tracking filth through the house because of it.

The dining room, which has not been cleaned as well as I would have liked but at least we aren't tracking filth through the house because of it.

Matt insisted on setting the alarm for 6am even though his dad was not supposed to meet him until 7 and wouldn’t you know, Pete showed up at about 6:15, as Matt predicted.  I begrudgingly got up and started throwing toothbrushes, dog bowls, last nights pjs and various other miscellany into whatever bag or box I could find and the movers showed shortly after sunrise at about 7:20.  They were two very nice Latino men who got the whole job done in less than three hours (although at one point I doubted they would be able to fit all the CRAP plus the couch and our dressers into their truck but it all worked out anyway).  Meanwhile, Matthew and Pete headed to the house to get started on the basement with nothing but excellent results- it turns out there was not a burst pipe but a problem with leaky valves on every single toilet, sink and bathtub in the house. Ridiculous, but easy to tighten and easy to stop; we were relieved.  They continued on, handling various plumbing-related issues with only an impressive two trips to the Home Depot.  Regrettably, the rest of a the day is a blur.  I recall a trip to McDonalds and possibly Target. At one point there was a long walk to the nearest police station to request a guest parking permit since Pete had already gotten a $30 ticket (the circumstances surrounding the ticket were questionable).  I also made a trip to Washington Gas because PLEASE TURN ON OUR HEAT BECAUSE IT’S STILL REALLY COLD AT NIGHT OK.  We cleaned most of the afternoon in order to make the air quality in the bedroom at least moderately acceptable for sleep the first night.  This entailed about five rounds of sweeping and four of mopping as well as crawling around on hands and knees disinfecting the baseboards and corners.  That night we learned about the lightpost aimed directly at the bedroom window and vowed to buy curtains first thing tomorrow.

People pay money to reproduce that kind of exposed brick/plaster combination in their Italian restaurants.

People pay money to reproduce that kind of exposed brick/plaster combination in their Italian restaurants.

Cleaning. Meeting with contractors about the basement remodel. Cleaning. Going to Target. Mopping. Going to Home Depot. Dusting. Unpacking. Sweeping. Going back to Target. Cleaning. Mopping. Dusting. Scrubbing. Cleaning. (The house was way dirtier than we noticed, to the point of disgusting.)

I can't even begin to think how bad of an idea it is for us to temporarily keep our trash in the basement.

I can't even begin to think how bad of an idea it is for us to temporarily keep our trash in the basement.

Matt scheduled cable installation for that morning but obviously there was a hangup and they couldn’t do it.  According to the tech that came out, his ladder wouldn’t reach to our roof (apparently we have the largest two-story attached row house in the entire city) and someone would be out later that day.  As you could probably guess, as is the case with every cable company in the whole world, they didn’t show and rescheduled for the following day.  We made significant progress on unpacking and finally started to feel somewhat comfortable about the level of cleanliness in the upstairs.  The size of the kitchen was made apparent by the cursing as I attempted to cram pots, pans, coffepots and pantry items into five cupboards.

While the paint colors may be considered "creative" they're going. Seriously.

While the paint colors may be considered "creative" they're going. Seriously.

Another day off for both of us and we were very close to being ready for Matt’s sister and her boyfriend to come over that evening.  We had decided to hire the Italian dude to do our basement, and more importantly address the leaky gutter/roof/window problem.  Dave the Contractor worked steadily for 9 hours yesterday and I paid him $450 to come back and finish tiling our shower and putting on a ceiling and etc. etc.  The cable guys also finally showed and after using the same ladder the first guy should have used and something like 500 hours of work, they finished installation around 7:00pm (I estimate they arrived at about 2:30).  We vacuumed (yes, we got to that point) mopped and generally narrowed our stuff down to about 6 boxes just in time for the Brinks guy to show up and the cable dudes to leave.

Our refridgerator is housed in it's own little cubby, which used to be the door to the dining room!

Our refridgerator is housed in it's own little cubby, which used to be the door to the dining room!

After a sleepless night worrying about paying rent (I will summarize our landlord experience in a separate post once the ordeal is over) Brinks, cable and Dave the Contractor, I settled in on the couch for an unproductive day of finally blogging updates for my friends and family on what has happened over the past few days and wondering if Matt could leave work early enough for it to make sense for me to go into the office.  Dave came down a couple of hours ago and while the gutter is fixed and the roof looks good, there still seems to be some sort of water leak up there as there is a slow and constant drip (which is no longer going in the window, but is still a problem) and he’s leaving to go to Lowe’s for more materials.  At least the shower is tiled.

I’m watching last night’s (I assume) Colbert Report and sitting with the dogs listening to sirens and children (why aren’t they in school??) and trying to think of something productive to do next.  Twiddling my thumbs is not going so great actually, but there will be things to do, an unending list of things to do. Once we have money again. If ever.

The rest of the photo tour of the house is here.

A number of interesting, but only if you were really wondering, things have happened since we last spoke.  I will outline them here, if you are good.

  • We had the FHA appraiser through and it went well.  Conservative appraisal, but I’m told this is not surprising as FHA is usually conservative and they are also realistic with the market.  We think that if we had the same person come in three years from now, it would be much higher, even if the house were in the exact same condition.  Regardless, the appraisal is above what we’re paying, so we’re all good.
  • The city appraiser (or however you classify this person- the non-FHA dude?) is apparently an idiot.  And so is the other agent, possibly.  Some how PEPCO turned off the electric between the time we had the inspection and the following week when the regular appraiser was in.  This was apparently and oversight (what else is new, PEPCO) and no one’s fault but the elecctric company’s.  Except then there is the issue of the water, which WASA says has not been turned off and is active since the 3rd.  The appraiser claims there is no water and he can’t do his inspection.  Well sir, did you try turning it on at the main valve?  I know I’m new at this, but even I am aware of the existence of the little lever that is currently preventing the busted pipe in the basement from spewing expensive H2O throughout the house.  Seriously?  Seriously?
  • Finally, the tidal wave of paperwork has moved into a steady trickle (just like the faucet in the bathroom upstairs!) which has me exponentially less freaked out.  We should find out from the broker what bank we are going with (and the interest rate!) later today and I got confirmation my bonus check will be deposited in time for closing.  AND we have a bunch of people coming to check out the apartment in the next few days.  Sigh of relief, drinks all around!

At this point, the Realtor is relieved my Type A-ness is coming towards a more relaxed middle ground and she can focus more on her work and less on my sudden questions over text message.  And I can start packing these infernal boxes…

The past three days have happened so fast!  No in fact, it seems like last Sunday was just a few days ago (ok, it was a few days ago).  We went out with our Realtor, Lisa, on Sunday with the idea of looking for a back up in case the Gresham offer did not go through (for those playing along at home, Gresham was offer number 263. I’m kidding, but it’s close) and ended up finding one “something to consider” and one “really viable alternative” and we were thrilled with that.  As we drove away from the house on Jefferson we decided that it would be a good idea to go ahead and make the offer.  The Gresham place, after all, was too good to be true and plus we had recently found out they had already received other (read: better) offers.

So onward and upward, Lisa started to do whatever it is she does when we randomly say we want to make an offer on something.  We finished up the initial paperwork on Monday afternoon and our offer was in.  We had hopes for this place for two major reasons: 1) the bank that owned the property was the same bank that Lisa always worked with on her own foreclosure listings and 2) the house was two doors down from a strip club.  Not ideal of course and in fact, Matt and I had a screaming fight about what would happen in six or eight years when we were ready for resale.  Ultimately, we both don’t have strong feelings against strip clubs to begin with and we really liked the house.  Plus there was already a city plan for redevelopment on that street and we felt relatively confident it would be a non-issue in due time.  We didn’t hear anything more from the other agent or the bank that night.

Tuesday was nerve wracking.  Matt did not have to work but I did and all day we didn’t hear anything.  We texted and emailed each other periodically “just to be sure”.  As if one of us would have heard something and then not told the other.  Matt IM’ed me around 2:30: “Can we call Lisa now?”  Not right now, she will call us if she has something to tell us, let’s not pester her.  But ok, we can call her after 5 when the bank is closed.  We never heard from the bank or the other agent that day and I think we both slept a total of 4 hours that night.

Wednesday came and I was swamped with work all morning.  The house did not cross my mind but after talking to Lisa the night before, we felt pretty confident that we would hear something today.  Fortunately I was juggling vice presidents and didn’t have time to stress about it.  That evening the call came from Lisa: we got a counter offer!  What exactly does that mean? my dad asked.  Well, they weren’t completely averse to our offer…

The rest is history, as they say.  We pushed back a little bit, but later heard the bank had another offer and conceded completely to their counter.  We couldn’t stand to lose again and we decided to fight this time.  The afternoon was filled with more anxiety as we continued to not hear anything immediately.  I looked forward to last night because I had a distraction planned for that evening: co-worker’s husband’s concert at the Black Cat. It should do nicely to forget everything for a few hours.  We got home and ate some quick dinner while Matt broke it to me that he had to be at work early the next day.  We decided to skip the show after all (and I totally owe you, yw, I promise we will go next time), and anyway, we might get a call from Lisa.  Our energy quickly drained and we were laying on the couch watching DVRs of Dog Whisperer when Matt’s phone rang.  It was Lisa.

And so here we are.  We have signed more paperwork than I knew could exist today with As-Is addendum and and revisions to the contract and what not.  Matt even had his phone confiscated for all the house-related work he was doing in the middle of the day. I got a call from Lisa a few hours ago saying that we were finished with paperwork and the bank would deliver the contract tomorow, which gives us at least one more day on the clock.  I breathed a sigh of relief and started drawing up my to do list…

Next Page »