Friday, October 02, 2009

A Moving Experience

The last couple weeks I've spent almost every non-working waking hour trying to get completely moved out of my house before escrow closed. The hard part was figuring out what to do with all my stuff. What would I keep and what would I get rid of? Of the stuff I kept, what would go into storage and what would come to my new place? Of the stuff I didn't want to keep, what would I try to sell on Craigslist and... you get the picture.

One of the missions my church supports, Niños de Baja, needed washing machines (plural), so I offered them mine about a month ago, but we had trouble connecting. So I talked to one of the elders at church, who is also on the Board of Directors of Niños and is a friend, and he said it would be OK for me to leave it in the garage at church until they come later this month for a board meeting. But I hadn't taken the washer there yet.

I put the non-keep furniture on Craigslist and waited. Lots of people were interested in the computer desk, for which I was grateful, because it was too big for me to take to Goodwill if it didn't sell.

One lady said she wanted it, but she had to check with her boss (it was for a non-profit organization) about the price. She called me back the next day, and I agreed to what her boss was willing to pay. But I never heard back from her, even after I left messages.

By then, apparently, whatever was in the air shifted with the wind, and nobody was interested in the desk after that. When I posted the dryer (I had forgotten about it on the first round of posting things on Craigslist), I checked and saw that someone in my area was asking $50 for a similar dryer, so I priced mine at $45. Everybody and his dog wanted that dryer! I sold it to a guy who didn't even haggle. He just handed over the cash and we carried the dryer to his truck. Then I emailed all the other dryer responses to tell them that the dryer was no longer available.

One really cool Samoan lady came for my oak bookcases.

She couldn't fit the larger one in her minivan, so we loaded the small one in there, she paid me for both of them, and she asked what else I was selling. She and her husband had just returned to the States after spending 7 years on the mission field in Papua New Guinea, and they needed furniture for their house. I told her about the desk, but she didn't want it. I showed her the fake tree, and she said she'd take it too, but it would have to wait until she came back for the other bookcase.

She came back with her husband and teenage son the next night, and they had a U-Haul truck. They got the bookcase loaded, and she asked again what else I had. I told her about the couch (that's the fake tree in the far corner).

It was custom-built for a realtor-colleague of my then-husband's in the very late 1970s, and they had just built a new home where the couch didn't fit, so they sold it to us, and we'd had it ever since. I let my ex have it in the divorce, but a couple years later, when he was going to get rid of it, my son prevailed upon him to let my son have it, and I kept it for my son (he's as sentimental in some ways as his mom). Besides, it's a really great couch, if you can overlook the threadbareness of the fabric.

So she bought the couch and the tree, but she only had checks. No cash. Against my better judgement, I accepted the check. And then I let them take the two upholstered chairs that we'd had since 1982, just to get the things out of my house. No charge for the chairs. She really helped me get a lot of my big things cleared out.

Moving day was last Saturday. One of the guys from the Assisted Living place I worked at for about a month said he'd help me move if he could. But since it was the last weekend of the month, the only time I could reserve a truck for was a 3:00pm Saturday pick up time, and the guy had to work that evening. But his dad was visiting for the weekend from Tijuana, and he was available for hire, and I was desperate, so I agreed. The dad even had his own furniture dolly and appliance dolly, which worked out great. When I asked him what he charged, he said $10, and I told him that wasn't enough. I'd give him $20.

I had a plan: The furniture (and boxes) that would go to my new place should go on the truck first, then the stuff for the storage unit would go on next, with the washing machine for Niños last. I picked up the U-Haul truck (it had a picture of a horrid green spider on the sides - Eeeeewwww!), picked up the dad, drove to my house, and we got started.

By around 7:30 (after much toil and tribulation), the truck was loaded, and I called the elder so he could go to the church to open the front gates and the garage. We got the washer unloaded and into the garage, then I drove to the storage place.

At the security code punch thingy, I entered my secret code, and it said "Access Denied." Well, that couldn't be right. Maybe I entered it wrong, so I tried again, and again I was denied. After the third time I gave up. But I had a truck full of furniture and it was after office hours, and they wouldn't be back until Monday.

But my friend and new landlady had told me before she left for her cruise that I could put as many sheds out on the patio in the back yard as I wanted, because she never uses the patio. So I decided to take all the furniture to my new place and unload it onto the patio.

We carried everything through the house, and I covered up the furniture and cardboard boxes with sheets and comforters and blankets to protect it all from the dew that had begun to fall (where are the Santa Anas when you need them?). Then I paid my helper-dad more than I said I would, took him back to the Assisted Living place, dropped off the truck at the U-Haul place, and went to Denny's with my son.

Sunday afternoon I cleaned out the shed at the old house. It was creepy. That's where black widows live, and a couple years ago there seemed to be a nest of earwigs under the edge of the wall on the side where the shelves were. I never went in there unless I was desperate. But this time I had to get everything out and make it nice for the new owners. I would have preferred to be caned by the authorities in Singapore, but I didn't have a choice. And I had to do it in the afternoon when the sun shone through the open doors, so I could see what I was dealing with and stomp on any bugs that crawled out.

Some of my stuff was ruined, from sitting for 6 years on the cement where the water could get to it when it rained. Some of my other stuff, especially camping gear, I just didn't want anymore, and when a couple neighbors came by and asked if I was moving, I offered them that stuff (not the ruined stuff, which was in the trash). They took quite a bit off my hands. And I found several tarps from camping and painting, so I took them to my new place to be better covers for my furniture.

The worst part of clearing out the shed was when I had to sweep the floor. Six years of dirt and dead bugs and old spider egg-sac casings and snail poop (with several empty snail shells thrown in for good measure) all mixed together and swirled up in the air. I'd start by taking a deep breath outside the shed, go in with the broom, sweep a little, and then leave the shed and breathe. It made things go slowly, but I couldn't bear to have any of that foul dust in my lungs. And when I got it all done, I stood for a bit and admired the result. The new owners would be pleased.

But there was still a lot of stuff left to clear out, including the big computer desk, and then I had to clean.

Monday I told my new boss that I needed to take Tuesday off, without pay of course, since I'm too new at the job to have any paid time off yet. And I started calling the donation centers to see who wanted to pick up my desk and some other bigger stuff. Am-Vets said they couldn't come until late October. Not good for a September 30th closing date! Goodwill didn't want the desk, but they told me to try the Salvation Army. And when I talked to the Salvation Army, they said they could come Tuesday. I said, "There is a God in heaven, and He is good to me!" They told me to have all the stuff on the driveway, clearly marked for the Salvation Army. I asked if it would be OK to leave the desk in 3 pieces, or did we need to put it back together? She said to put it back together, because the drivers might think it's broken and leave it behind.

I called my daughter that night, and she came over to help me with the desk. We took off the hutch, which was easy enough. And then we fought with separating the return from the main desk part, because the pegs that held it together were at the wrong angle from each other to do it nicely in two pieces. After we fought with it for a while, we got it figured out, carried it to the driveway, and my daughter put it back together while my son (who had arrived) and I loaded things into the back of his SUV.

Tuesday morning I went to the escrow company to sign papers (they had mailed them to me to sign, but I had too many questions and couldn't do it all by myself), which turned out to be a good idea, since there were mistakes that needed fixing, so we got that done in time to not cause a problem for closing the sale.

Shortly after I got back to the house, the Salvation Army truck came, and they couldn't understand why the people on the phone would tell us to put the desk back together. We had to take it apart again. So I grabbed a sandwich bag for the hardware and started disassembling it. The guys took the hutch away, and then when they tried telling me to just unscrew here and there, I was able to explain from the previous frustration exactly what did and didn't need to be taken apart for it to work right. It came apart much MUCH faster than the first time, and they drove away with everything I wanted them to take.

Then I cleaned. Vacuumed, removed cobwebs from ceiling corners, scrubbed walls, hit the non-master slow-draining bathtub with Drano (it didn't help), and all the rest of the cleaning. My realtor (and friend) came to help me finish (she's an amazing packer), and my kids did too. We got it all done by 10:00 at night. I left a note with all the keys on it, including the keys that came with the house but that didn't fit any locks that I could ever find, and then went to my new place and unloaded the cars.

Escrow closed Wednesday. After Bible study at my friend and realtor's house, she had me sign one more piece of paper, from the buyer's walkthrough. It said, "The house is in great condition." I was happy to sign it.

I now have my money from the house sale. I also have a room full of boxes and a patio full of furniture and more boxes. Tomorrow in Sunday School I'll ask if anyone is dying to help move furniture in their truck to a storage unit. If I don't get any takers, I'll probably have to rent another U-Haul (smaller, without the spider picture on it) and get it done that way.

So that's the really long way of saying, I'm mostly back now.


CG said...

Wow! You must be really tired. I got tired just reading about it. And you're still not done yet. Best of luck to you!

janice said...

That was a longer-than-normal post. I had to read it in two parts.

Happy to hear all is going well and you finally closed on the house. I can't wait to read about the next chapter....

Tsofah said...

Skye, it's SO good to hear that which you have prayed for for so long has come to completion!

How's the job going? Did the check clear for the couch, tree, etc? Were you able to get the items in storage?

Eagerly awaiting..... ;-D

SkyePuppy said...


The job is going well. I'm starting to catch on, and that feels pretty good.

Yes, the check cleared. And I posted an update about my furniture.