Alleyways- Part 1

I now live in a community where alleyways are quite prevalent. By the way, I think the term alleyway sounds a bit more quaint than plain old alley, so I’m choosing to add the “way” in this post.

The community I grew up in, and eventually settled in during most of my adult life, wasn’t prolific when it came to alleyways. You could find a few places in the downtown area, the more historical area, where an alleyway might pop up. I was a kid then and found no pleasure in what a person might discover in these backdoor places. The only thing an alleyway did for me back then was to provide a shortcut on my way home from school.

Alison, the youngest daughter, now lives in a historic neighborhood that is full of alleyways. Like the ones I remember from my youth, hers are gravel lined, very rutted and overgrown with weeds. I think they serve her neighbors as nothing more than a place to put garbage cans, or entice wandering animals looking for a free handout. Also, unfortunately, when you Google alleyway for her specific location what pops up are any number of news stories that highlight crime and death and bodies found.

Cara, the oldest daughter, lives in a planned community. This one has traditional homes with drive-up front garages and full backyards. It also has the modern version of the alleyway. I think of this version as the cram-as-many-homes-as-you-can-into-the-smallest-available-space type of community. Their alleyways are really more of one long, U-shaped interconnected driveway that leads to each homes rear garage. When you Google her community, they don’t show these blocks in the gallery of photos. I was sitting on her patio the other day, looking out at her fence.

Yes, I have time to ponder these sorts of things on occasion…

Every home on her “block” is surrounded in the back by a fence. It lines both sides of the home, starting with the front edge, runs all the way around to each side of the driveway and on one side actually comes up and borders the backyard. The alleyway is literally a paved asphalt ribbon that leads starkly to each home, running just inches from each fence.

Why am I sharing these details you might wonder. Or why should you care…

You really don’t have to care I suppose, but it struck me that one of the major ideas behind these planned communities is to create a sense of, well- community. It seems rather ironic that planners then go ahead, cram houses together with just a few feet between each other, and then surround them with these tall, privacy fences that do nothing to encourage community at all. They form a barrier. They lock the inhabitants into their own world and, to me anyway, signal quite clearly that other folks probably shouldn’t come across the line.

The fronts of these homes all have porches of some sort, and the general idea is to gather there, or as many do routinely, in the streets- at least from what I’ve noticed. I come away from this neighborhood sometimes with a sense that it’s okay to be visible on the surface, but encouraging real life interaction means breaking through some heavy and formidable walls that surround each home.

So, the point of this post, as I seem to have ventured off into some sociological impressions, is that I want to learn more about the alleyways that now make up my new community. Most of the homes around me have front porches. I see people on them in the evenings as I walk. I see quite a bit of open yard space, but I wonder what is behind the facade.

Do these new alleyways fit the model of dark, crime ridden, clandestine places?

Are they simply pathways for the local garbage haulers and tomcats? Byways to others detritus and secrets and leftovers…

Can I learn anything from these alleyways, about the people living in front of them, or will I find fences and barriers that allow for the world to see only what these people want.

In part 2, I want to share with you some of what I find in pictures… Stay tuned.

 

It Never Fails

I scheduled a service appointment for my car for early this morning. Actually it’s still early, and I’m writing this from the dealership waiting area.

I have a bit of my extra special bonus monies left after the sale and division of profits from my house. Those monies were earmarked for helping me to get settled into my new home, and for this maintenance check. Be aware, it’s not like anyone else ever took care of the maintenance on my car… ever. Previously I lived with a “if it’s not broken then ignore it” sort of person. Not really my style at all, and so I always did the preventive scheduled stuff and the dealing with crap stuff, and just in general everything that needed to be done stuff, with every car I drove.

Anyway, I hopped in the car, pulled out of my parking space, drove about 3 blocks and on came the tire pressure warning light. Serendipity I believe, given where I was headed.

Yep, a very low rear passenger side tire was evident when I pulled into the service area, and of course the cost of that repair can now be added to an already overpriced maintenance appointment. It’s clear that today’s checks and evaluations and work will likely drain what was left of my extra funds.

Could have been worse, right. I was almost on the freeway when the light came on. Fortunately I was able to pull a quick u-turn in the middle of the on ramp  turn safely and in a completely legal manner and take a different route to the dealership. I had no intention of sitting on the freeway with a flat tire.

And that decision allowed me to get here with air to spare in my tire.

The Finish Line

Tonight will be the last night that I sleep in this house I’ve co-owned for nearly 25 years. I head to the oldest daughters house (mom to Miss G and Miss C) tomorrow. As I still have to hang out in limbo before I can prove I have enough income and find a real new home, I get to have a really long sleepover with the girls, much to Miss G’s delight.

I have no feelings of sadness as I anticipate tomorrow. This change is just one more step bringing me closer to my ultimate goal.

Speaking of that, I went to schedule my final court hearing today. At 9AM on July 21st I will deliver my final papers, stand before a commissioner, answer a few questions and (barring some horrid, unforeseen issue) watch as he signs my divorce decree.

2 WEEKS PEOPLE!!!

We close on the sale of the house next Tuesday. That’s step 3 in the race towards the goal. After that I can just concentrate on enjoying the start of my new job, and looking for a place to live.

That finish line is finally visible and I can’t wait!

 

SOLD!

Our house went on the market Wednesday. We accepted an offer Thursday night. The new owners (barring unforeseen issues) will take possession on July 11.

We moved into this house 24 1/2 years ago. Pregnant with my third baby, it was November, and I vaguely remember the rush to get things in some sort of order before the holidays. I don’t remember very much of the actual process of selling our first home and buying this one, but sometimes I can’t remember what happened 24 hours ago, let alone 24 years ago.

I’m grateful that things went quickly. I didn’t enjoy the phones calls for showings, the need to do multiple spot checks to ensure the rooms were always staged and ready, or the need to remember to turn on every single light in the house to provide that sunny, warm, homey feeling. I wasn’t very good at being polite after making myself scarce for what seemed like an appropriate amount of time only to arrive back home to find an agent and client who were supposed to show up at 3:00 pm, or at 6:00 pm still inside because someone was late, or had the time wrong entirely.

I am pleased with the final agreed upon selling price. We definitely benefited from the fact that the neighbor down the street sold his home for more than his original asking price. That gave us the impetus to price ours a bit higher to start with.

July isn’t far away. So much of the final work with this home will coincide with all the final aspects of my divorce so I feel as if much of life will be a blur for some time. Being the person that I am, I know clearly that I will be on edge until this is all over.

As I sit here now, writing this post and looking around at the freshly painted walls, the familiar scenes outside my windows, the sad and overused furniture, there are memories that come back to me. Most of them involve my kids. I wonder what I will remember of this process 24 years from now. I will be about 82 years old so I doubt any memories I may have will be very clear.

Better, I think, to get started on making some new memories.

Whirlwind

For some time there’s been nothing much to tell. Plodding along each day, waiting. Then, with one phone call, one meeting, the wheels begin to move, things start to take shape, and the to-do list is seeing more checks than empty boxes.

I hesitate to go backwards here, with my words. The working relationship between myself and my soon to be ex-spouse has been congenial. We have a shared goal now, one that ironically has made even simple conversation easier to come by. I have witnessed a willingness in him that previously was buried under mountains of obstinate refusal. One thing that has not changed however, is the very way we approach the getting things done part of all this. Simply put, we live on opposite ends of the spectrum in that arena.

Saying “I told you so” is counterproductive, but with all the good happening, I fully admit that lurking underneath any positivity, those words were ready and waiting to bubble to the surface. They have, but quietly and directed more to myself as an affirmation that, while outwardly some things can appear to change, the core of who a person is stays steadfast and real.

Being trapped in the immovable  sludge of “let him do it his way” was killing me and so, (here’s the I-told-you-so part) I jumped in, took responsibility once again, and within the past week we have a listing agent, a newly painted interior to our home, clean vinyl siding and deck, and are now only waiting on some landscape bark. Do I want to point out that I have been waiting for all this to happen since… oh- April 1st? I do, but pretend that I didn’t just write that, because you know- positive thoughts and shared goals, right.

My now very real expectation is that this home can finally be listed for sale within the next 7 to 10 days. Our agent is out of town (with my blessing) for vacation, but upon her return we will be ready for pictures, signage, marketing, and offers, offers, offers. I think that I mentioned the house two doors down in a previous post, the one that was listed well above what I thought might apply to our home. I just found out yesterday that it sold (less than 24 hours after listing) for almost $15,000 over asking price!

Real estate is crazy here- too many buyers and too little availability of homes on the market. Fingers and toes crossed that this means an upcoming happy dance for us.

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Busy work

Don’t know that I have all that much to report, but I’m enjoying my morning coffee, on this, an extra day off, and it just seemed like an appropriate time to see what might appear on this screen.

The sun is out, and our weather folk say we might see 70 degrees by Thursday. The sun inspires me to do stuff, and so I’ve been trying to do stuff, mostly just to keep busy and avoid counting every second of this wait-to-be-divorced few months.

So, the major weeds have been pulled, and the tiny weeds have been sprayed. Bark mulch will come at some point because it’s always easier to cover up than put my joints through hell trying to pull every last offending, unwanted foreign invader.

Still we wait on painting. One bid was way more than we intend to spend. We wait on a return phone call from another painter. At the rate things are going, my spouse may be painting these rooms himself. He hates to paint. I am steering clear of the whole thing.

My latest project is cleaning up the rooms that aren’t going to be painted- tackling cobwebs and dust, wiping down doors, just generally trying to make the spaces appear as if they aren’t 25 years old. Today I’m going to start on the under-sink areas. They’re pretty well cleaned out of stuff, but they do look somewhat beaten up and used. The white paint has seen better days, so my answer is to place some of that non-adhesive, grippy shelf-liner stuff down to mask the major scratches and marred areas. mN8slVTn04gwEXAITyd17ag

I purchased a few new entry rugs, and some pillows for the horrid gold couch that my spouse wants to keep and take with him. Of course, those things are waiting until the painting is done.

Time to get busy I suppose.

Oh, and on a bright note- one of my favorite spring activities is happening this coming weekend. The local Historic Homes Tour is back! Alison and I have gone for the last few years and we almost thought we missed it this year. It is supposed to be sunny and mild this Sunday so I think that will be our day to walk, tour, and dream of life in one of these homes. This year apparently they are huge homes, some well over 4000+ square feet. Unfortunately no pictures with that link, just descriptions.

I can hardly wait…