Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back from the dead

Well, I wasn’t REALLY dead, but I don’t blame you if you thought that I was.

How time flies. I’ve been working on all sorts of other things, and now it’s been more than a month since my last post (“Father, I have sinned …”). The truth is that my life has gotten filled up with so much going on (most of it, for a change, of a happy sort) that all I’ve had time for lately is more short-attention-span media. But I hope to get back to the blog on a regular basis now.

I was teaching two classes over the summer term, which is condensed, so more time per week is required for each class, especially with the vast number of papers I have to grade. Yeah, I’ve had students suggest that if I didn’t assign so much work, I wouldn’t have to work so hard either. But then they wouldn’t be getting their money’s worth for their tuition dollars.

We’re also still dealing with Pat’s dad’s estate. The Old Soldier died a year and a half ago, and some things are still up in the air. That’s been a drain, especially on Pat’s time.

Meanwhile, in the happy news department, this spring, we closed on a house in Mesa, Arizona. “Why?” I hear the two or three people who still follow this blog ask. Well, Gerald is attending college at Arizona State in Tempe, plus taking a few classes at Mesa Community College that count for the same credit but cost less than a third as much in tuition (gotta love community colleges!). Instead of sending him rent money every month, we will now be sending him compensation for household maintenance and fixing things up. Also, we will no longer have to pay for a hotel room when we go to Arizona to visit him. In addition, at some point Pat and I will be retiring, and we already know we want to get rid of the house in Albuquerque. If we keep the cabin at Heron, we will be able to migrate seasonally between there and Mesa. Finally, home prices in Arizona are in the basement right now, but they’re bound to rebound, at least some. So we may have an investment that makes money even if we decide not to use the place as a retirement residence.

The upshot of the home purchase in Mesa is that we’ve been directing a lot of time and energy to getting that house up and running, learning the ins and outs of agricultural-style irrigation, and furnishing the place. While I was teaching, we took some long weekends for whirlwind trips out to get things done. Then the break between the summer and fall terms was only two weeks rather than the usual three, so we had to pack a lot of activity into a short time span that included a quickie trip to San Diego for some touristing.

Furnishing the house has been fun. One of our friends commented on the short-attention-span media that it must be like right after we got married. Actually, it’s lots better. When Pat and I first got married, we had no money whatsoever, so we took what we could get, which was mostly castoff furniture that friends and relatives had no use for. For nearly all of our adult lives, we’ve felt like we’ve been living in a junkyard. With this new house, we have a fresh start. We can buy things that we specifically like, and we can make things match. We’ve bought a few new things, but mostly, we’ve been getting great deals on high-quality furnishings at used-furniture stores. Serendipity plays a big part with used furniture – we may not know exactly what we want when we go into the store, but I will find something that just feels right, such as the bedroom set with the magnificent headboard that is now in the master bedroom. We also now have a place worthy of some of the art that we have picked up from family over the years – an elegant ceramic black cat, a bowl of fruit carved out of African wood, a pair pictures of prancing horses, an R.C. Gorman print, and more. It feels good to get those works out of the junkyard.

Of course, the house isn’t perfect. It was originally constructed in 2000 with high-quality materials and workmanship, but one of the previous owners took out the original bedroom flooring and replaced it with the most God-awful, crappy, plastic pseudo-laminate, and didn’t even install it properly. So we’re now replacing it with high-quality engineered wood flooring, natural red oak. Actually, Gerald’s doing most of the work – that’s part of the aforementioned compensation for home improvements instead of rent subsidies. He got most of one room done by the time we had to return to Albuquerque, but since he’s taking a heavy course load this fall, it may take him a while to get all of the bedrooms done. Still, what’s been done so far is beautiful.

Meanwhile, now that we’ve got most of the time-consuming stuff out of the way on the house, I should now have time to return to the blog. Glad to be back.

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