Comfortably Homeless

Email, text, etc and I'll send along our new address.
Our home-buying/home-selling deal has been a bit of a roller coaster.

First, I found our dream home, but we weren't even in the market to buy. And the house cost too much, anyway. Then they dropped the price a couple of times and we went to see it. Fell in love. Then we put our house on the market after a stressful week of packing, painting minor repairs, and surgery (for me, not the house). Seven showings and four offers later, we had a deal. Then there were some rather stressful home inspection issues with the house we are buying. Then there were some minor home inspection issues with our house. Then the major set-back of a septic failure. Then termite damage. Our April 18 settlement date loomed ever nearer, and at our agent's urging, I worked and scrambled and called and Joe met with contractors and negotiated bids. Last Tuesday we found out that a Friday closing wasn't happening. We tried for Monday. On Thursday we found out Monday wasn't possible, either.

At this point we were told that Closing would be on Tuesday and that our buyers were "this close" to pulling out of the deal because of their stress and frustration.


We'd done EVERYTHING they'd asked. The refused to chip in on the $12K septic repairs. They refused to even renegotiate the deal in any way.

Well, you know what? We couldn't close on Tuesday. Joe is unavailable all day. (but no one had checked that with us) So, we scrambled again and tried to make it work. Mid-way through this scrambling, on Friday morning, our agent informs us that the only day our buyers are available is actually Wednesday. So ... not Tuesday, then, right?

Wednesday is one of those ships-that-pass-in-the-night sorts of days for us. We barely see each other long enough to kiss good-night. So more scrambling ... this time to complete a limited Power of Attorney so I can sign for Joe on all the home-selling and home-buying paperwork. The "upside" through this is that our dream house will be available for us to move things into on Monday.

At this point on Friday I'd made eleventy-nine phone calls, about half of which were to or from my parents. They decide it's time to pull the plug and begin driving from their home near Erie, PA -- nine hours away. I've also secured a handful of loading and unloading volunteers and reserved two UHaul trucks.

Yesterday we picked up the trucks as scheduled and loaded them with almost everything from the house. (Thanks and love to MJ Atkinson, John Dugan and Brad Marcus!) Today we loaded our mattresses and a few other final boxes onto the trucks and moved into a hotel for a few nights, hence the Title.* Tomorrow we unload everything at the new house (and it's my birthday). At last. Tuesday we clean the old house and veg a bit (Joe has to go back to work after Easter break). Wednesday, I go back to work, too**, and the buyers walk through our old house. I then go to sign papers to grant us ownership and occupancy of the new house. Joe will meet us there when he gets out of work. We unpack and settle in for as long as it takes after that.

I'm tired. And I have a headache. But the end is (somewhat more) in sight.

Stay tuned for an epic Housewarming Party to come as soon as possible. I promise.

*We're all comfortably homeless, except for Joe ... he's staying at the house with dogs, cat and trucks, and our soon-to-arrive-from-PA friend, Brian. In a house without furniture, save for one twin mattress on the floor.

**Thank you, Snow Days.....this was to have been a week-plus long spring break and I was going to have everything pretty settled in that time.


Climate Change

I am not a climate change scientist, nor do I play one on TV.

However, I'm concerned. According to many sources*, we are rapidly approaching the climatic point-of-no-return. Some estimates say my kids' generation will suffer significantly, some put it off until my grandchildren's prime years.

Most experts agree that weather will become increasingly erratic and violent, animal species will die out and or migrate significantly to compensate for environmental changes, tropical diseases will spread further into previously-temperate latitudes, already-overtapped-fossil fuels reserves will be exhausted at increasingly rapid speeds as we attempt to compensate with climate control in our homes and businesses. Pretty much everyone who seems to know what they're talking about agrees that our lives, routines, comfort, food supplies as we've come to know them are going to change for the worse.

And it will be worse even faster for the poor of the planet.

Please don't misunderstand me ... this is not the world coming to an end. On the contrary, the world will be just damn fine, thankyouverymuch. It is us who will suffer. Animal and plant species will evolve, die off, adapt. We will have to do the same. Period.

We are, as a species, relatively helpless without shelter. We don't adjust well to changes in our environment. Instead, we use our massive brains and opposable thumbs to adapt our environment to suit our narrow criteria of comfort. Where there's a will, there's a way, and all that.

Until the environment becomes simply too extreme for us to continue compensating. Until our financial resources are exhausted with no end to rising seas, rising temperatures, and extreme weather systems in sight. Our food resources will become increasingly scarce. We will run out of options.

According to numerous scientific sources (I heard it from Niel deGrasse Tyson), but this quote is from the British Natural History Museum "More than 99% of all species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct. The vast majority (over 95%) died out because they couldn’t compete successfully for food or other resources. Or they failed to adapt to changes in their local environment over tens or even hundreds of millions of years."

The planet will be just damn fine. We don't need to worry about the end of the world. The only thing we have to fear is that our own complacency and the lack of action on a national and global scale by our leaders ... will lead to our own extinction.

That's all.


PS: Climate change can be slowed, stopped and/or reversed if enough people care. Every individual counts. Your habits make a difference. Even more so, the leaders you select can make a difference on a regional or national level ... so choose wisely and communicate the importance of this issues (one might argue the importance of this issue over any other issues). We may differ politically or philosophically on a variety of issues, but saving our species from extinction and choosing the "greenest" leadership we can seems like a pretty no-brainer thing to do.

* See the latest report from the UN Climate Change Working Group, here. If you look at the PDF, scroll through to the nifty and easy-to-grasp graphics and tables at the end.


Here Comes the Sun

And ... thank God. Literally. I thank God for ending the rain, the snow, the sleet.

I have mild self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder. It's hardly debilitating, but I'm feeling it. I'm really feeling it.

Don't get me wrong -- winter is my favorite season. I adore snowy days, and hot chocolate and sweaters. But, I've really come to love the South Jersey version of spring. Winter fades slowly where I grew up and where I went to college. Snow and slush and endless, endless mud and rain hang on for weeks. I'd rarely enjoyed Easter of my April birthday, weather-wise, at least until I moved to South Jersey.

Here, generally speaking, winter ends and spring begins. The days lengthen and it's warm enough on the commute home to put the windows down or open the sunroof. Trees bloom and bulbs sprout up. My substantially-wooded yard is pleasantly floral in the spring. I've planted daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and tulips. My neighbors have forsythia, dogwoods, magnolias. Usually by Emily's March 24th birthday, we're well along the spring-bulb-path-of-hope-springs-eternal.

But this year, it's all terribly late coming. And it's been terribly wet and cold going. And I'm really feeling it.

(granted, the stress of work observations, converting to a new form of state standardized testing, fixing up a house to sell, slogging through the process of replacing/repairing large hunks of our septic system, packing (and more packing) are seriously not helping my mood, stress levels, energy)

Here's to a pleasant, sunny spring ... quick and simple repairs and a simple move. Do I get to have all of that all put together?



Happy Birthday, Emily!

I didn't take your picture yet, today ... but, don't worry, I will. You know I'm never one to let a special moment go by without an (over) abundance of pics.

We love you more each day, my beautiful, clever, funny, introspective, friendly, enthusiastic, kooky, amazing daughter. Keep being independent, individual and being your best you!

Your first day home with us. Pittsburgh, 1999

Your first birthday, Boyds Bear lion from Uncle Chris, McKean, 2000

Just turned two, Millville, NJ, 2001

3-year old portraits, The Picture People, Deptford, 2002

Kids always prefer the wrapping, Millville, 2003

Ready for Easter Sunday services, Millville, 2004

5th birthday Pirate Party, Millville, 2005

One of my favorite pictures of you, ever; Lake Erie, PA, 2006

Birthday trip to DC, 2007

Back in DC (I think) at the Botanical Gardens, 2008

Your first time skiing, Poconos, 2009

Excited for shrimp, Carnival Cruise Lines, 2010

Your own bucket of mussells, Somewhere in Scotland, 2011

BFFs, Buffalo Wild Wings, Millville, 2012
8th grade semi-formal, Millville, 2013

High schooler! Millville, 2013



  • I'm terribly proud of Joe and Emily for getting the parts they wanted in Cumberland Players' production of "Holka Polka."
  • It looks as though getting another septic inspection might be worth the $800 gamble that it turns up different results.
  • Another Snow Day is not another day of fun. It instead means the loss of another day of Spring Break. This makes me sad.
  • Our new mortgage was approved, but if we have substantial septic repairs to pay for out of the proceeds from our home, we will have to go back and get reapproved for a new, smaller-downpayment amount.
  •  I revisit my surgeon today for more sinus scraping and poking. It's exactly as un-fun as it sounds.
  • I need to scrape up $350 to have a weird lump removed from above Sasha's eye. The vet assures me that it's non-threatening, but I'm anxious about it.
  • I liked it when my parents were around twice in February. I miss them.
  • Inverse to logic, it seems like the more I pack, the more there is left to pack.
  • I'm already looking forward to my teacher's union-based trip to Denver in July and my family trip "Out West" in August. Like, a lot.
  • In order to not be sad all the time about leaving our home of 13 years, I've mentally checked out of it and I'm trying to focus on our new house being our home. This has the opposite-of-intended effect when any obstacles to a smooth settlement rear their ugly heads.
  • It's been nice to cook more at home, rather than eating out. Other than one McDonald's meal, we've not dined out since Ash Wednesday. This is a big deal for us.
  • I could really use a massage on or about my birthday (April 21).


More New House News

Has "Dugan New House News" Fatigue set in yet?

Not for me! Hee-hee!

Over the weekend we posted some items on Craiglist. Over the past week or so, we've been assessing our furniture, to decide what moves with us and what has worn out its welcome. Or just plain worn out.

Our exercise bike has to go. Ditto with our sleeper-sectional and a large entertainment armoire we rarely use (as well as the giant CRT tv inside it). We've also been browsing to replace our dining set. When we bought our first house (1997), the sellers offered to leave it in the house for us for $300. I've always hated the style of the set, but at the time it was a deal and we had nothing else to eat on.

Luckily, I found a great table, chairs, hutch and server set on Craiglist and it was both our style and our price range. The sellers even delivered it for us! So, we listed our old set and it sold right away. It's already gone and out of the house.

Anyway, long story short ... we've managed to mentally at least partially furnish most of the new house. We have nothing for the sunroom, and the spare room is winding up with quite a few weird odds and ends pieces. And the finished basement looks much better in my mind than our furniture will allow in real-life.

Right now we're just waiting for the mortgage paperwork to be finalized. Then I begin my next to-do list: changing our address with utilities, schools, jobs, magazines, Amazon, etc.



More News

Well, we've settled things with the sellers of the house. So, it's pretty solid that we will be moving in April. This is our new home:
It's only a couple of miles from here. Two master suites, two additional bedrooms, 2-1/2 baths, screened-in porch, eat-in-kitchen, great room, finished basement, awesome backyard:

Our room:
More pictures (all these were taken back in September) are in the various online listings, such as this one.

In the next few days, the buyers will schedule the inspection of our current house (yikes! I don't expect any major issues, but even minor issues can add up). We will continue to pack. A lot of stuff is already boxed up, but since we're still living here, there is a certain amount of stuff we have to have daily access to. We're assessing what furniture we may get rid of and so forth. Lots of purging.

Joe's spring break is next week, and I think we plan to tackle the storage shed, garage and attic...clearing out a bunch of stuff and organizing what's left into move-able units.

In other news, today was supposed to have been the day I'd return to work following my surgery. I'm feeling pretty good, but I won't lie -- it's been nice having some time off. Having a snow day today was an unexpected bonus day off. Tomorrow it's back to teaching computer skills to the kiddos.