Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our new casita. We're in!

Roger here...  Since the last post, we have had some good times and some frustrating times.  I'll start with the frustration.  During the two weeks prior to our actual closing, the closing itself was postponed several times.  We had scheduled movers, Direct TV installation, appliance delivery, and pergola construction.  We had to postpone most of it due to the delays.  The delays were not construction delays.  They were due to our casita's appraisal being higher than the underwriters in Utah thought it should be.  How would they have any idea?  They had not seen the property or the area.  They were in Utah!  It did not make any difference that our small loan had been approved weeks ago or that our credit rating is excellent.  If it had not been for the persistent efforts of the developer and our mortgage company we might still be looking at a completed house that we could not move in to.  We have bought and sold six homes and never before encountered anything like this.  Bottom line, the closing finally took place.  Thanks again to Carol, Terry, Victor, Jaime and Mike for their valued help.  Enough ranting... on to the good stuff.


We had some heavy furniture in our coach house.  Dianne and I are both in pretty good shape.  We were only moving down the street.  Dianne and I could have muscled it along on a dolly, but why risk an injury at this stage of the game?  Common sense prevailed and we hired a moving company --- $50/hour for two experienced movers and a truck!  Have we ever mentioned how affordable it is to live here?

The moving guys were especially careful with our possessions.  They also made a special effort not to bump into our new walls and to put the furniture where we wanted it.  

Sit on a chair and stay out of the way.  Now this is how a moving day should be!

Time for the long ride to the new place --- ten lots down the street.

The entire process only lasted two hours.  $100 total!  We gave the movers nice tips for their excellent service.

There were a few items that Dianne deemed to be movable only by us.  Note the two cacti in the brown pot.  We bought those in a 6 inch pot at Home Depot four years ago.  When they outgrew the pot, we plopped them in the ground --- no big deal at that stage of the game, but I did remember they were pointy.  Then they grew, and grew, and became quite heavy.  Before we showed the coach house to prospective buyers, we put them into the brown pot in the picture because we wanted to plant them in our new garden.

Now that was a big deal.  Fortunately, despite Dianne's derision, I wore safety glasses as the two of us hoisted the now heavy cactus out of the ground.  Even with safety glasses, I had streams of blood running down my face.  Those rock-hard needles are even nastier than they look.

A lot of thought went into the strategy to get the cacti to their new home without injury.  We wrapped the bad boys in cardboard, then carefully tipped them onto neighbor Jim's two-wheeled dolly.  We then bungeed everything to the dolly for a walk down the street.

Our neighbor, Linda, gave us an old sheet to further cover the cacti.  The forlorn look on my face gives an indication of my mood at the time.  Yes, that is sweat you see on my t-shirt.  I sweat a lot down here.

As it turns out, the walk, unloading, and replanting (though challenging) turned out to be a nonevent.  They don't look too bad in their new and permanent home.

Dianne here:  We felt officially moved in when we drove our beloved motor home down the block to park at our new space.  As we passed Bob and Linda's next door, I saw them outside with cameras ready.  Linda sent me the following photo they snapped of the "big move":

There was a lot of activity during our first few days in the house.  An early project involved mounting our new flat-screened TV on the wall before the Direct TV guy came.  How hard could it be?  Actually, it was not too bad, but I can easily see how mistakes could be made.  No extra holes in the new wall for us :-).

While Dianne organized her kitchen and put things away, a flurry of service people came to the house.  Home Depot installed our new refrigerator, washer and dryer.  Two workers installed a white wrought iron fence behind our motor home to complete the total enclosure of our back yard (happy doggies).  Gonzo arrived to construct a pergola over all of the outdoor living area in the back that was not already covered by our porch roof.  Direct TV installed a dish on the roof in the back of the house where it would not be visible.  Our new bed and entertainment center were delivered. As a result of all the visitors, Bandido and Tequila spent some quality time in our new bathroom. :-)

Let us out!!


Our new TV and entertainment center...    Dianne ordered the oak entertainment
center from Weaver's Furniture (an Amish store in Shipshewana, Indiana).

My mom's painted secretary has a new home in the niche next to the TV.

Here is a view of the living area that includes the two comfortable Amish recliners that we moved from our motor home into the space.  (We will move them back into the motor home next spring when we resume our travels.)

Another view.  Look carefully and you can see that Big Chuck makes good use of the soft chairs.

Speaking of Big Chuck, he likes his new designer litter box.  Dianne again:  As I predicted in the prior blog entry, he had no problem adjusting to his new "commode."  Such a good boy!  Here he is exiting through his beads.

We eat all our meals on my grandma's oak kitchen table.  I have vivid memories of Sunday meals at that table with my brother and  cousins (when we were allowed at the grown-up table).

The kitchen is the centerpiece of the casita.  It is the first thing you see when you enter the house.

Plenty of room to display Dianne's colorful dishes and family heirlooms.

A small nook between the kitchen and the bathroom turned out to be the ideal place for a pantry.  We bought the picket fence cupboard years ago at a festival in Pendleton, Indiana.  It is a perfect place for canned goods.  Dianne bought the hanging gizmo on the left for bathroom towels.  When it was obvious that it would not fit in the bathroom.. clever girl hung it on the wall and added acrylic containers where the towels would have been. It is now a coffee bean and pasta center.

The bathroom is small, but really nice.  There is plenty of room for two people and all the things we want in a bathroom.  Unless of course we both need it at the same time.  Actually, if you compare it to our bathroom in the motor home, it is spacious.

The bathroom is small, but the walk-in shower is very large.  It was difficult to get a good picture of the entire shower due to the reflection from a frosted window, but you get the idea.  We can now sit down to clean between our toes :-).

Our new platform cherry bed, also from Weaver Furniture in Indiana, has lots of storage.  It has four large, deep storage drawers in the pedestal for storage.  Dianne bought matching night stands and mission-style lamps to set it off.  

A view of the other side of the room shows the cherry dressers that we bought years ago from a different Amish furniture place in Indiana.  Dianne here:  You can tell Roger took these photos and not me, because he did not at least smooth the comforter first -- looks like he also let the dogs play on it before the photo.)   Roger here:  I did not!  However, I am guilty of the non-smoothing thing.

During the past five years, living in small places, we have honestly had everything we needed.  The quality of our lives did not diminish in the small space, but in fact improved because of our ability to travel anywhere we wanted with our house.  However, getting to some of the things that we needed could sometimes be a hassle.  Accessing little-used items that were often behind or underneath other things frequently involved moving the obstacles that were in the way.  No more! (At least when we are not traveling)

Hey Dianne, look at the picture above.  I found our bicycle helmets!  

Our spacious walk-in closet does not look so spacious when it is full.  However, there is room for everything.  The shelving is full of labeled containers and baskets that hold pictures, sentimental things, decorations, costumes.... you name it.  AND, everything is in sight with easy access.  By the way, we love having the washer and dryer in the closet.  It could not be easier to take clothes out of the dryer and hang them on one of the clothing bars that are in the same space.

Unless the weather is poor, we typically spend most of our time outside.  We have two sets of French doors, one on the side of the house, and one that opens onto the outdoor living area.  We are loving our outdoor space.

  The picture below shows the sitting area under the covered porch.  Our Texas-style bar (made from old barn siding) and drink cooler separate the sitting area from the dining area.

Here is a look at the same space from different angles.

The wooden fence in the center of the picture hides an outdoor storage area where access to all of the electricity, water, tankless water heater, TV center,  air conditioner, gas, etc. is located in one spot.

Below is a look at the dining area that is completely covered by the cooling shade of a pergola.

The walk between the casita and the motor home is inviting.  The main entrance is to the left.  The outdoor dining area is behind the white wrought iron fence.  

Here is a better look at the outdoor entrance to the outdoor area.

No post about our homes would be complete without some photos of plants and landscaping.  Our ancestors must have been farmers.  Oh wait, they were.  The succulent planter in the photo above sits in front of the house in a wrought iron planter.  Dianne designed this from a picture in an article that she kept years ago.  It is in a sunny, hot place so it should do well.

This plant is called a crown of thorns.  If it has thorns, it will grow well in Texas :-).  It is in an antique chimney pot that was originally from England.

We bought these blue pots when we first came to Retama Village.  They sit on the edge of the patio in the dining area.

We bought these three yellow pots and filled them with succulents to dress up a stark area next to the fence.

We spent a day buying all the plants above and spent another day planting them.  The original impetus for the trip to the nursery was to find a plant to fill two large pots that would wind their way up two obelisk shaped trellises.  We decided on red mandevilla vines.

We wanted the back yard plantings to have a lush, but symmetrical look.  The planting area covers the entire back fence line as well as one other side.  It includes four palm trees, flowers that attract butterflies, and several flowering shrubs.  The view below is along the back fence line.  The water feature is in an antique copper cauldron that Dianne and I bought during the first years of our marriage.

A view of one of the corners.

This tree in the lawn area is a Mexican Poinciana.  It will get much larger and will be covered with bright yellow flowers.  You can see a start of the flowering on the right side.

This entire process began in January when we toured the model casita home and discovered that we could build it on one of the lots with a tree line that backs up to a farmer's field.  We were thinking of the years when we would not travel as much.  We were thinking of how nice it would be to have a small and convenient home in a warm area surrounded by our new friends.  This journey is over.  Whatever will we do next?  I think it is time to begin planning our motor home trips for next spring. 

I will close with two night-time pictures taken from outside the casita.

The pet picture of the day shows Tequila as she awaits visitors by the front door.  She kind of matches the floor tile feature.