Archive for the ‘Moving’ category

End of an Era

January 1, 2019

Saturday, December 31 marks an end of an era for Paula and I. On this day we closed on the selling of our Condo in Plymouth, NH.

We had bought the condo back in 1997. We would spend weekends and vacations there. Our boys would snow ski in the winter and we would all go out on our boat in the summer on Newfound Lake. Or we would just sit out one the deck and watch the sun go down over Tenney Mountain. Overall, we had a great time at the condo. Every time that we headed south on rte 3, we looked forward to the time we would be coming back.

The last time that we spent any time at the condo was the summer of 2012. We lived there for a short period after we sold our house in Billerica, MA.

We would have preferred to sell the condo back in 2012 but that wasn’t possible. We were underwater on our mortgage and the market for vacation homes hadn’t recovered from the economic woes of 2008.

So instead of selling, we put the condo on the rental market. We had a great real estate agent (Diane Masessa) at Old Mill Properties in Bristol, NH.

At best, renting it was a break-even proposition. The rent would about cover our mortgage payment, but not condo assoc. fees. I had to chase the tenants for the propane usage because Dead River Propane wouldn’t give them their own accounts.

So rent it we did. First, to a pair of grad students at Plymouth State (PSU). Then, to a pair of Saudi’s doing graduate work at PSU. And finally, to another Saudi grad student from PSU.

The last renters were the ones that broke the camel’s back. They moved out 1.5 month early this past August. They left the place a mess. Needless to say they didn’t get their security deposit back. So in September, we decided to try our luck at selling the place.

So we got it cleaned up, got rid of a lot of junk and added a coat of paint here and there. Then, declared it ready for the sales market.

The sales situation had changed for the better. We had paid down our mortgage principal to about $90K and the vacation real estate market had recovered somewhat.

So we put it on the market in November with an asking price of $119,900. So we had two offers within the first few days on the market at full asking price. WOOT!!!

Selling a property from 3000 miles away can be a real challenge. We have been lucky to have a great real estate agent. We have been working with Diane over the past 6 years in managing the property. Most documents that needed to be signed (leases, purchase & sales, etc.) have been executed using an app called “DocuSign“.

The only documents that we could not use DocuSign were the closing paperwork which had to have live signatures that had been notarized. The document package had been emailed to me last Wednesday. Printed them out and called in our Notary Public, Patrick Sullivan in San Pedro. Patrick witnessed all of our signatures then we put them in an envelope and Fedex’d the package back to the closing attorney in Mass.

I expect to get the final closing doc’s back via FedEx on Jan. 2, 2019

Next steps will be to figure out how much capital gains taxes we will have to pay this Spring.

Happy New Year,



August 26, 2014

So I was reading an article in the New York Times this morning that hit close to home. It is an article about decluttering our lives and our homes. It reminded me of our attempt to get rid of stuff before we moved west to California.

THE amount of goods a couple can accumulate over 44 years living in the same house can be overwhelming. And that is what Wendel and Carolyn Thompson, of Columbia, Md., have been grappling with since January as they prepare to leave their split level and move to a retirement community this month.

Figuring out how to squeeze the contents of a house into a two-bedroom retirement unit nearby in Catonsville, Md., has taken most of their time in recent months. And they’ve had some help. “Declutter ladies,” or downsizing specialists, spend hours with them every week to sort through and pare down their belongings to a more manageable size.

Here’s the pointer to the complete article. We could have used the “Declutter ladies”

We had lived in our house since 1984. There was 28 years worth of stuff. The clutter was sizable. We started the project in January 2012 with the goal to have the house on the market by the beginning of April. We met with a contractor and did a walk-thru of the house as if he were a house inspector. Fix this, replace that etc. Then we got to the basement. We told him everything goes except for the stuff in the plastic bins. The stuff either goes in the 30 cu yd dumpster or the back of your pickups.  So we then had an empty basement that could be re-carpeted and painted. We asked ourselves, “Why didn’t we do this years ago?”.

So April 1 came and went. The house was on the market on time. We were shocked to have an offer by April 10. Add a couple of days to get to a signed P&S. Then the clock started ticking. We now had a move out date of June 22. Now what would we do?

We started by putting stuff on Craig’s List. Some stuff sold quickly, Some stuff we donated to our church. They have a homeless program that was in need of furniture. We gave a piano to the church. We gave some more furniture to friends. Then finally we talked with the buyers. We asked if they were interested in taking a few items.

Then three days before the closing we moved out and into a motel for the last three days. Packing completed into the POD. We probably could have filled the larger pod, but we made do. Finished loading the Jeep then off to the lawyer’s office for the closing.

We had stayed at our condo for a few weeks before our departure for LA. This allowed us to sort the stuff in the Jeep and ship it via UPS to our son Mike. Then finally we took our trip to Ireland before we left for LA. We figured that we wouldn’t be closer or have the money to do it (see earlier blog posts about Ireland),

California DMV

September 17, 2012

Time had come to head down to the CA DMV in San Pedro to get the plates on the Jeep changed over and get driver’s licenses.

They have a person who is kind of a traffic director. He or she checks your paperwork and sends you to the appropriate counter. MA DMV does the same thing. He is a kind of triage person.

I thought that I had my paperwork in order. Oh I was so wrong. So I had the insurance paperwork, the MA title, the application for CA Title and Reg. Pretty good but not all that was needed.

I had set up an appointment over the weekend on the DMV web site. If I didn’t have the appt, it would have taken a lot longer.

So lets take the license part first. We needed to fill out an application. Did we have passports with us? Marriage certificate? Nope. Luckily I knew where they were stashed. Just having used the passports to go to Ireland. So we needed to go home and pick up the passports.

Then the registration. We found out we needed to get a “Smog Check” done. Of course there are several smog check stations in the neighborhood. $55 for the pleasure.

So back to the DMV. We had to get into the “Verification” line. This is where a DMV clerk comes out to your car and verifies that the serial numbers match the application.

Back to the triage person. He gives us a ticket number for the next available teller. We start working through the paperwork. Licenses first. Do the eye test. Thumb on the thumb print reader. Swipe your credit card. Kaching! Paula goes off to get her picture taken and do the written test.

Finish up my driver’s license. Then the registration. Swipe the card again twice. $31 for the license and $199 for the registration. Kaching, Kaching.

Off to the booth that does pictures. Takes my picture. Gives me the form to take the test and gives me my plates and sticker. We both passed. Paula spent five minutes reading the test. I spent even less.

Last thing to do was change the plates. Five years of rust. Actually they didn’t give much resistance. And we get the real license in a couple of weeks. Now I have to figure out what to do with the MA plates.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Pedro, CA

California Dreaming

September 11, 2012

Okay, it’s been a while since last I wrote. We’ve been busy. So it’s about time for an update.

We’ve been in California now for about three weeks. That’s enough time to get a feel on what things are like here compared to New England.

First and foremost, Sept 1 is only a date. The seasons don’t change. It doesn’t get cold. Weather is the same. Temp in the 80’s and blue sky. Why they have weathermen out here is beyond me. Maybe they don’t pay them as much as back east. They certainly don’t have to think very much on what the weather will be tomorrow.

The culture seems to be much more bi-lingual. The dominant cultures that I see here is White folks and Latino folks. One hears people speaking spanish much more than back East. Though, the Lowell area has had big upswing in Cambodian/Laotian and Vietnamese. Not good or bad, just different.

There are lots of familiar brands out here. We have the usual Home Depot, Target, CVS, etc. In fact, having a CVS out here, made it real easy to get our Prescriptions refilled.

Grocery chains are different. No Stop & Shop or Demoulas. The big chains are Ralph’s, Albertson’s and Von’s. We tend to favor both Ralph’s and Albertson’s. Both being close to home. It’s taking us a while to get used to where stuff is located in the stores. We are also trying to get used to various store brands.

Many good restaurants out here. Some good, some not so good. We use Yelp to guided us (See: ) There is an iPhone/iPad app for Yelp. Click here for the mobile Yelp apps. There are the usual franchise restaurants like Denny’s, IHOP, etc. We usually go out for brunch on Sunday after services. My favorite is Pacific Diner (Here’s the Yelp review.)

One other business that I must write about is a local car wash in Lomita called the Mirage Car Wash. Service is remarkable. When you pull you get out of your car. Then they vacuum it out. Then they drive it through the mechanical car wash. Meanwhile, you go inside the building to pay for the car wash. You can get a cup of coffee. Then you go outside and sit under an awning to wait. Once the car goes through the machine. One of the employees takes your car and pulls it under and awning and touches up every thing. Wash windows inside an out. He or she waves when done. By then you should be done with your coffee. And off you go. Tipping is encouraged. My car hasn’t looked this good in a long time. Yelp review is here.

Everything out here is air conditioned. I went to LA Harbor Lodge stated meeting last week with Mike. Very comfortable and very casual. Not a tuxedo in sight. I felt over dressed wearing long pants and shoes. Our first OES meeting is next Monday.

More later. Thursday we have an appointment for Steinway private sale in Downtown LA. Don’t think we can afford a Steinway piano, but we’ll go look for fun.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Pedro, CA

The Unpacking Begins

August 27, 2012

We’re unpacking about three or four boxes a day. We’ve been concentrating on kitchen stuff and clothing.

The pod was unloaded in good time on Saturday and picked up today. I picked up the tab for lunch for the unloading crew.

Sunday we took a break from our labors. Went to church and then brunch at the Pacific Diner.

Here’s a picture of boxes left to be unpacked. We ought to be done by Christmas. The big problem we are facing is where do we put the stuff? In a sense we’re doing the same thing we did in June in our house in Billerica. Some of the stuff that we are throwing out hasn’t been touched in years.

Today’s good news is we found the coffee pot. Bad news is we can’t find the filters for it. So we’ll use the small pot that only makes four cups per cycle until I get to the store to buy the filters.

So as we unpack, we invariably find something that should not have made the journey. Why on earth did we pack that thing-a-mabob? Of course the answer was it was packed by Tom and Al, who made no decisions others than to pack it.
So it goes into the recycle box.

All of the china and crystal has survived the journey unscathed. Not a broken goblet yet.

Much of our belongings will stay in box until we find a place for them. It may take awhile. I am convinced that my mother-in-law has become incapable of throwing anything out.

So we’re sitting on the balcony in one of the few pieces of furniture to make the trip. Meanwhile, Mary K has gone off to the HOA’s Board of Directors meeting. She does love to go to meetings.


– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Pedro, CA

Settling In

August 24, 2012

Settling in has begun. The jeep is mostly unloaded and contents mostly unpacked. Things that were lost for the duration of the trip have been found (mostly).

The POD is scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. Mike has lined up volunteer labor to help us unload. We haven’t been able to get a straight answer from the HOA on parking the POD in the guest lot. So it goes. To quote Admiral Grace Hopper, “Easier to ask forgiveness than permission”,

We’ve spent the last couple of days dealing with little (but time consuming) issues. Had to get extra perimeter keys (aka keys to the condo common areas) and a remote to open the garage gate. This took a trip to the mgmt office in Torrance. Took about two hours. Went to UPS store to ship some stuff to Roberta.

I also had to go the local Home Depot to get copies of keys made. Trip to CVS to pick up Rx. CVS being a national chain makes it easy to get Rx from Billerica filled in San Pedro.

Started working on change of address issues. I was amazed on how fast Northeastern University changed my address. Warp speed indeed. I started working through the mail that had piled up with an empty trash can at the ready. I found a check from our old mortgage company for refund on escrow account. $1355, woohoo!

We did some grocery shopping. Takes a while to get acclimated to the layout of a new grocery store. One of the conveniences of Cal stores is that they sell liquor. Beer, wine, hard stuff. Picked up some Gin, vermouth and olives.

On one of the grocery trips, a young lad asked if I would sign a petition supporting medical marijuana clinics. I told him I was not registered to vote yet. He pulled out a form to register. So now California has one additional (Democrat) voter.

We are working on decluttering the condo. Mary K (mother in law) tends to save a great amount of paper. Every flat surface in the place had a pile of paper on it. This will be an ongoing project.

Things that will need to be done in the near future:

– order internet service
– upgrade DirecTV service with DVR
– Get a piano
– Get a new HD TV

Enough for today. I am posting a couple of pictures of the view. No inside pictures yet. Too messy.

One final note. Folks have asked if this blog will continue after the move completion. Absolutely. I find that it is a nice way to communicate to many of our New England friends,

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Pedro, CA

Day 2

August 3, 2012

Getting to hit the road again. Today we will be heading to Cary, NC. GPS says 320 miles. This is a bit less than yesterday. We should be off a little bit earlier than yesterday.

Free breakfast downstairs. then we get going.

We will be traveling through Baltimore, around DC, then VA, then NC.

Now for something silly.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Newark, DE

End of day 1

August 2, 2012

First day is done. We drove 355 miles today. We just pulled into Newark DE at a Days Inn. $59 per night, not fancy but will do. The AC is working and it has beds.

They have free wifi, but the download speed sucks, so I’ll use LTE.

We stopped for lunch in Vernon CT at Reins’ Deli. This is a great NY style deli that has been there for many years. First discovered it on a business trip with my good friend Tom Speake. Great food.

Took the Merritt Parkway through CT. Good news no trucks, bad news can’t go much faster than 50 mph.

When we got to NY, we only made one mistake getting on the GW bridge, then on to NJ Tpke. Heavy traffic through Newark. Eventually eased up.

Tomorrow we travel from DE to NC to visit the Fishers in Cary and the Wedges in Mebane.

This morning we dropped of the key to Janice. Folks at Chelms Peds asked when are you leaving? Answer: Now.

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Location:Newark DE

One day to go

August 1, 2012

One to go until we leave. We started planning this trip about two years ago. It always seemed like this day was so far in the future and now it’s here.

I m sitting in the hair salon waiting for Paula to get her hair done so I have plenty of time to blog even with getting my hair cut.

So today when we finish here we go to Brookline for doctor’s appt. then tonight I have lodge Past Masters’ dinner.

Last night we had dinner with Jim & Janice at Kimball’s in Westford. Tomorrow we head on down the road.

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Location:Chelmsford, MA

D day minus 2

July 31, 2012

Met with the RE folks yesterday. Took condo off of market for few months. Let thing settle a bit. Probably back on market in the spring. Still trying for rental.

Put the patio furniture and grill away. Assuming that no rental, then we have to have the patio stuff in for winter. Took down “Bowker Party Deck” sign.

Dry cleaners SNAFU’d yesterday. Clothes not ready due to boiler failure. So now we have to go to Laconia to try and find the stuff. Closed out PO box. Got refund, didn’t expect that.

So got to go up the hill to dumpster with the trash then start loading.

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Location:Plymouth, NH