Saturday, May 31, 2008

Poop poop poopity poop

I was so excited this morning when I checked my "new listings" e-mail and saw a cute little house on Monmouth in Old North Durham. In my price range! Sure, the lot isn't huge, but it's comparable to my current one and I'm willing to live with that if the house is in a cool neighborhood like OND, Duke Park or Northgate Park. I already had a date with my agent to look at more houses today, so I e-mailed her and asked her to get an appointment. Then I decided I'd zip on over and just take a look-see at the house (as the crow flies it's less than half a mile from my current house). Damned if it didn't have one of those little "Under Contract" bursts on the sign! Damn damn damn! OK people, I officially call dibs on the next cute house in my price range that comes up in Old North Durham. Do you hear me? DIBS!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Your turn to buy and my turn to drink

So my agility weekend was way fun. I talk about it ad nauseum over at my other blog. There's video, too, so you can see how dorky I look when I run. My dog is really cute, though.

Now I have to find a house to buy, because we close on our house June 30. I'm not really excited about anything that's currently available. There is a really cute little place on almost 3 acres, but it's way the heck out on Stallings Road. There's a little teensy place on Northgate St (724 square feet) that's also nice and cheap, but the lot is small and full of "landscaping" that I'd have to rip out to make room for dog agility. There's also a cute little old house with ugly floors (carpet and vinyl ... I could change that) on over an acre in Bethesda. I rather liked it but my agent hated it and pointed out as many flaws as she could think of while we were looking at it.There's a nifty older ranch home with a big, flat yard off 54 near Southpointy, but it's heated by fuel oil. It's a strange little location--if you look at a map that shows city/county boundaries, this one little gravel street is county while everything around it is city. The homes are all on well/septic systems and there's no natural gas line on the street, while all around it is tract housing galore. PSNC says it would probably run me $3,500 to covert to gas heat (including furnace) and another few grand to include stove and water heater.

The good news is that she doesn't seem as anti-Parkwood as before, but all the listings available there right now (excluding "handyman specials," which I do not want) are over $150,000.

So my front-runner house right now is one in Homestead Heights. The location isn't perfect for me, but the house is a reasonable size, it has a carport, the yard is large, flat and fenced and I don't have to do any work or buy and appliances to make it livable. I'm wondering if I should just give up on finding anything better and make an offer on it.

Friday, May 23, 2008

So maybe you have nothing to do this weekend?

I should be out looking at houses, considering I'm supposed to be out of mine by June 30, but instead I'll be doing dog agility for three days this fine holiday weekend. You can watch if you've got nothing better to do. Directions are here. We start running at 8 am and keep going until we're done (anywhere from 3:30 to 6:30 pm, depending on, you know, stuff). We're crazy people and we love an audience.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pending ...

We signed a contract on our house yesterday.

Now I just need to figure out where I'm going to live. Somewhere in Durham, I imagine ...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

No remorse for imitators, my crew be innovators

I had a great day yesterday doing Durham stuff. First came the dog walk, though ... because the dogs come first. And it makes me think of one thing I will definitely miss about Trinity Park: plenty of sidewalks. There are a few streets that lack sidewalks or only have them on one side, but compared to rest of Durham we have it good when it comes to not being forced to walk in the street. The alleys are nice for dog-walking, too..

In the afternoon, Lisa and I went on the Cleveland-Holloway home tour. Wherever we went people would introduce themselves, so we kept having to say "Hi, I'm Lisa" followed by "and I'm Lisa." It was a little bit funny at first but then it got tiresome.

The home tour itself was interesting--both inspiring and depressing at the same time. Inspiring because there are people who are putting a lot of work (and money) into the neighborhood. Depressing because I was able to see up close how decades of neglect have turned most of the housing there into unlivable (or nearly so) shitholes. Most of the homes on the tour were in some stage of renovation--mostly the early stages--and needed a lot of serious work. Over the years many had been hacked up or divided as rentals, so there were walls where they shouldn't be, drop ceilings and extra closets built into places that weren't originally bedrooms. There was also lots of damage from foundation or roof problems that had gone unfixed for years. One guy showed us a spot where a tree had been growing in the middle of the house when he first bought it.

I'll admit that some of my curiosity about the neighborhood was because I'll be needing a house myself at some point (possibly soon ... there's been encouraging news on the home sale front), and I was wondering if I should include the C-H neighborhood in my search. But from what I saw, pretty much everything available there needs way more work than I can put into a house ... unless I were to give up dog agility and anything else I like to do for a year or more while I put all of my energy into renovations. That just doesn't appeal to me. Also, because of my dog-training needs, I'm determined not to have a lot any smaller than my current one (.17 acre), and the lots in C-H are typically on the tiny side.

Decay and other issues aside, the neighborhood felt rather pleasant. The houses are close together and people were out on porches, and even the folks not involved with the home tour were friendly. Then again, it was a sunny Saturday afternoon and the tour meant there were a lot more people out walking the neighborhood streets on a typical day, so I don't know what the vibe is most of the time. The home tour people were all full of optimism and very upbeat about the 'hood's future, but then I talked to a guy who was visiting his mother in the neighborhood, and he had a different view: "This is a baaaaad neighborhood." He didn't mean bad as in good. But people say the same thing was true about Trinity Park 20 years ago.

In the evening I want to a Bulls game with my friend Marcia. I had a good time but I must say I like baseball when there's an actual game to watch. The Bulls took a lead in the first inning and were never in serious danger of losing it, so there wasn't really a lot of excitement (aside from a few home runs, a bat being slung into the stands and the Bulls' center fielder rescuing a fallen SpongeBob and tossing it back to its owner). Also, the only seats available were in the "Diamond View" section, and the early start time (5:00 pm) meant that we were looking into the setting sun the entire time (it dropped below the American Tobacco building just moments after the close of the ninth inning). Nonetheless, my dog training and trialing schedule won't be terribly booked up between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so I'll try to make it back out to the DBAP a few more times over the summer.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Everyone thinks he looks daft but you can have your dream

Most of my life is dominated by dog agility, but every now and then I do some things that normal people do ...

Tuesday night I had dinner at Satisfaction with members of the super-secret Bull City Bloggers Cabal. I've probably already said too much about it. They may have to kill me now. Anyways, I had a great time. Although the topic of dogs did come up, I think I handled myself well and didn't make anyone's eyes glaze over.

Also, in the almost eight years I've lived here, I've never actually gone to a Durham Bulls game. Shocking! I have, however, been to a college club game (NC state vs. UNC) at the old (er, I mean, historic) Durham Bulls park, so there. Anyway, I'm finally going to go see the Bulls on Saturday. A friend called me up and asked me if I wanted to go ... and that's all it took.

And I'd like to go to the Cleveland-Holloway Home Tour on Saturday. I suppose I can go by myself, but it would be more fun with company. Anyone up for joining me?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

you get hooked so quick to anything, even your chains

Apparently there was an election of some sort yesterday. Why doesn't anyone tell me about these things?

Who else got a message from Stevie Wonder on behalf of his friend Barack?

In other news. Is it just me or has Battlestar Galactica been a big snooze for the last three episodes? I'm getting to the point where I want humans and Cylons both to perish for all time.

UPDATE: Note to self: learn to spell Obama's first name correctly.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I love Craigslist so much I want to have its babies

I spend a lot more time preparing food for my dogs than I do for myself. This involves pureeing a lot of veggies, and until now I was using a little food processor attachment on my blender. (I got the attachment on Freecycle ... for free, of course!). Chopping the veggies took a long time and was a pain in the ass because the blender attachment was rather small and not terribly effective. I've been wanting a real food processor for a while, but I'm trying to be frugal, so I figured I'd make do with my crappy one until it broke. Sunday it broke. I don't know exactly what went wrong, but instead of making a nice veggie pulp it made a horrendous noise and the blades wouldn't spin. I tried and tried to figure out how to make it work again with no luck.

So yesterday I turned to Craigslist and I found a guy selling a food processor for only five diggities! Yes, $5! After phone call, a small detour on my way home from work and a petty cash expediture, I now own a big Hamilton Beach food processor. Sure, it's not the Mercedes of food processors, but five bucks! I didn't have to go much more out of my way than I would have for a store, so even factoring in time and gas it was quite a bargain. Of course, there was alway a chance that the guy selling it was an ax murderer and only placed the ad to lure victims to his casa, but what's life without a little adventure?

Friday, May 02, 2008

There's no such thing as too many mariachis

In a quandary: Mariachi band Los Galleros de Mexico are playing at Brightleaf from 7-9 pm tonight. Meanwhile, our pals Mariachi Amanecer Tapatio are playing again at Lopez ... starting at 7, of course. Which to see?