Mold that reminded me of frost on a window. WE began skinning the interior of the house today. I enjoy this part. It’s fast work if you don’t mind a little dust — and, in our case, quite a bit of mold. Mold can be beautiful to look at. Contrary to what some dishonest mold remediation specialists will lead you to believe, it’s relatively harmless — unless, like my wife, you are allergic to it. While no one wants it in their house, it’s often only skin deep and can be killed easily. The real problem is stopping the […]
I DIDN’T see Mark as much over the summer. He usually didn’t bother me when he was on a binge, and this one was epic. In six months he managed to drink, pop, smoke and plain give away every cent of his sixty grand. He lived like Scarface. Hell, he lived like a banker. But as the money dried up, he dried out, and reality hit Mark like a square of shingles. He finally brought up the subject of his finances to me. It seemed that shortly after mortgaging his house, he managed to lose his government assistance. If […]
ABOUT a week before closing, we were getting hit with heavy rain. The Realtor called me to say she could unlock the house so we could look for leaks and attempt any repairs that would prevent the already-bad condition from getting worse. Along the side of the house, I found a big blue tarp that had blown off months before. It was still in good shape, so I rolled it up and prepared to climb on the roof to reattach it before the sprinkle turned to a downpour. Mark had bought the tarp about four years earlier. I remember […]
TO recount the series of events that lead to our buying this particular little, red bungalow in Pasadena, I have to go back almost 35 years. The youngest son of the owners at the time was about 16. His weakness for drinking beer and riding motorcycles fast met up one night with another driver’s habit of not looking for small flying objects before changing lanes. He clipped the car going about 100. Miraculously he stayed on the bike and was able to coast it to the side of the road. Sometime before falling off the bike and passing out, […]
THIRTEEN years ago, Sheryl and I moved into a little bungalow on a corner lot in north Pasadena. One of the more unusual features of the property was a large rusty bird pen constructed from 2 1/2″ steel pipe, lumber, tree limbs and heavy screen. The pipe frame roughly formed the outline of a cube, about 9′ in each direction, give or take. At the base, the pipes were embedded into a concrete pad that would, were it not for the eagle’s nest, make for a lovely patio. The tools at my disposal were a small propane/oxygen torch, a […]
Karma and the Cottage: Part 1
TONIGHT we received a phone call from our Realtor Jackie Watamura — the hardest working Realtor on the East Side — with the news that the deed on our new house recorded. By "new house" what I mean to say is "90-year-old cottage with collapsing roof, severe water damage, uneven foundation, no electric or plumbing, with busted out windows, that has become the de facto residence of most of the neighborhood's feral cat population." My wife, Sheryl and I were, of course, ecstatic. This evening ended almost a month of research, offers, inspections, faxes, notarized signatures and a flurry of banking that resulted in the liquidation of all of our retirement accounts and stocks. The process began on the last day of December, 2009, a Thursday. I got an email from Jackie informing me that the tiny, dilapidated house across the street from mine had become an REO and was being offered for a very short time by Fannie Mae. She knew that I had a history with the house and was telling me in hopes that I might know someone who wanted it. I kinda did... I ran from my garage "office" into the house to drop the news on Sheryl who, to my surprise, shared my enthusiasm. I called Jackie to get the scoop: Fannie was taking offers for one day, Monday, cash only and we had to show proof of funds. If Sheryl and I were thinking of diving in, the pool had just gotten about 20 degrees colder. We took a couple hours to calm down and think about it, then I picked up the phone, "We want it."